Do you sleep soundly?

I’ve written a few times about my childhood, but I can never find the words to convey the feeling of fragility and conflict that was a part of every day, every activity, every material possession. I am my father’s son, and this relation alone is enough to ensure I always sit with my back to a wall. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t lived so close to violence can understand.

When I was young, I lived for a time with my father and his family in Montreal. There was an ongoing power struggle between my father, and the other organized crime figures in the area. Several of my father’s friends and family had suffered kidnappings, brutal attacks, and countless acts of property damage, in an attempt to persuade my father to back off. My father has never backed off.

I was placed in the care of my aunt and uncle, and their two daughters. I was given a nice room, a comfortable bed, and more than enough books to read. We had private security, an alarm system, and a police trained german shepard.

I had only been there a week or so when my uncle came in my room to pick a suit jacket from the closet, as he did every morning, and found the cuffs to every jacket had been cut off, neatly folded, and placed in the pocket of the jacket, which was then buttoned closed. There were probably about twenty jackets in the closet, which opened up right next to the nighttable of my bed.

I was flown to Halifax shortly after.

21 thoughts on “Do you sleep soundly?

  1. Not to compare stories, but prehaps the closest I can relate in regards to this, is that when my father was starting to become mentally ill (to this day I’m not sure what triggered it), mu uncles had to come over (I don’t remember this I was 7 or 8 at the time), and strip down the guns he had, apprently he threatened to shoot my mother and sister and I, the three of us stayed with an OPP officer, who knew my aunt and I believe other family members of mine.

    For the longest time I thought I was going to turn into my father, it seems that mental illness runs in my family.

  2. Your recollections are, as always, incisive & touching – you’ve definitely got a gift for the telling of your tail, pryor-rabbit.


  3. Question for you:
    At the time, did this all seem very matter of fact, or did it affect you emotionally at the time?

    Motivation for the question:
    I found that I didn’t even realize how living around constant threat of violence was affecting me until I had been living away from it for a few years and then I went back. It all seemed so foreign and insane… but that was the reality I lived with, and at the time seemed to be perfectly acceptable behaviour.

  4. You know, I would like to say “I can relate” or “I share your pain” to make you not feel sad about your past, but the truth is, I had a pretty good childhood and never really knew crappy things like this first hand. I feel bad that you had to grow up in such a horrible and unstable enviroment, but all I can say is this:

    You’ve come a long way.

    You’re brilliant, successful, and creative. You have a wonderful girlfriend who is thoughtful and loving and will always support you and be there for you. You have a home, a computer, and numerous wonderful kitties to keep you warm at night. You have the strongest friendships and are respected by many people. You’re calm and forgiving and I love you for being able to put up with my retarded ways. You’ve come so far since such meager beginnings. I admire you. Your accomplishments and things you have succeeded at in your life are numerous and know that there will be much more to be envious of in the future. I respect you Jiggwai, and I am proud to call you my friend.

    So don’t let the sadness of the swamps get to you.

  5. It seemed pretty matter-of-fact at the time. I didn’t know anything else, I just knew the way things were.

    The further away I get from it, the larger its shadow seems to be.

  6. This is really interesting.
    That sounds trite, but it’s the best I can think of.
    Reading it makes me interested in the story itself, and also, like many people posting here, it makes me interested in examining my own motivations for childhood actions.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  7. we already hung out two weekends ago, don’t you remember? i’m sure we must have, because you promised we would. now all you have to do is go back in time.
    and pretend i don’t write lj entries about you.

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