Who am I?
“Don’t underestimate me. I know more than I say,
Think more than I speak,
& notice more than you realize.”
Behind the smiles you don’t see the frowns. Behind the laughs you don’t see the cries. Behind the eyes you don’t see the tears. And behind the contentment that you see in the pictures of me and our son, you don’t see the fears that I hide. You see what I allow you to see. I let you see what is socially acceptable. But, you DON’T see the real me. What if you did? Would you even recognize me? Could you even pronounce my name? Or would I be that same person, to you that you’ve grown-up with and known the majority of your life?
I resemble the same person you knew in middle school and high school. I have a wife instead of a husband. We have a 2.5 year old son. We live in the time zone known as “Marshall Standard Time.” I wear shorts and t-shirts instead of cleats and uniforms. I’m still the same ‘clown’ that you’ve always known me to be. I still laugh at inappropriate shit. My humor about things has never disappeared. I’m just not as “happy-go-lucky” as I use to be.
There wasn’t one event that caused a change in me over time. It was abuse that occurred over many years that has changed me. If I met you 20 years now since high school, you would see that same person that you were in the halls with but attached to my leg is a little boy. And attached to my heart is my wife, Melody Landrum-Arnold.
No one ever knows someone else’s true “secrets.” You saw a seemingly happy wife walking by her husband’s side and holding his hand. You saw parents supporting their child in every way possible. You saw an athlete very passionate and dedicated to the sports she loved. And you saw a fun loving and respectful person when our paths crossed. There were scars and open wounds that you never knew.
What you didn’t know or see were all of the “secrets” of a lifetime of abuse. What if you knew all of my thoughts? What if you knew the things I was made to do? Would you look at my scars and be disgusted? Could you look me in the eye because I couldn’t you? Would you stand there speechless because of the lies you were told and believed? Or would you say, “Gee, I’m sorry” and avoid all eye contact. Why? SHAME. Those of us who were once victims carried the shame of our abusers who were “shameless.”
I wish people who have and continue to judge me could spend one day in my brain with all the chaos as a result of the abuse. You wouldn’t survive one minute! No one taught me how to survive all of that. I figured it out on my own. Some behaviors are maladaptive, I’ll agree. I did what I had to do to SURVIVE in any way possible!
I’ve been very strong for many years but I’m tired. Mornings like now seem like the movie Groundhog Day. The abuse replays every moment I’m alive. Every morning, the abuse starts all over again. I feel like, I’m stuck in survival mode all the time. Sometimes I feel like a victim and sometimes I feel like a survivor. I try and live life “one minute at a time” because “one day at a time” seems entirely too long, right now.
I’m very much a realist. I see things for the way they are, instead of the way they can be. The whole analogy of the duck is how I view even the simplest of events, ideas, comments, etc. So, basically I get in my own way. Part of this process is going to be to retrain how the brain perceives things, I think.
I also repeat things sometimes at different times. So, if some of the abuse stories seem to overlap, just ignore and keep reading. I’ll explain why this happens later.
Please try and understand that this is just where I’m at in my healing journey.