This past Thursday night, I was leaving a meeting and someone said to me three words, “loss of childhood.” My initial thought was the late and the great, Michael Jackson. I’ll talk about him in just a moment. But at the same time, I had to ask myself, “did I lose my childhood? Is this the cause of the pain that’s in my heart that has caused people throughout my life to say I’m goofy, immature and a whole host of other words that are degrading?” Before talking about my life, let’s look at Michael Jackson’s life for a moment. Despite how the media strove to demonize him and to give them what they wanted, music, drama and stories that would generate attention for their gain and his loss, his childhood was far from perfect.
This is an excerpt from the following articles: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/michael_jackson_lost_childhood.html
As the world learned, however, was that Michael Jackson had a dark side that involved child abuse, neglect, and accusations of child molestation. You find can an entire populace of people with similar history in prison.
It wasn’t enough that Michael suffered a lost childhood. He was never allowed to be own person. His spirit was never free. Instead, his life became a tool for others to make profit of his enormous talent. His father, Joe Jackson, was not a successful man on his own by any means. He was a steel worker during the day, hardly carrying enough change in his pockets for lunch.
To his credit, however, Joe Jackson was a driven man. He played in a band and was a talented guitarist. Perhaps he had dreams playing for record label, but fell victim to the circumstances in his day: poverty, racism, and missed opportunities.
To some, growing old and not fulfilling your lifelong dream is intolerable. Joe Jackson may not have wanted any of that. So, his kids became the pawns for his success. According the Michael and his sister LaToya, Joe Jackson was a tyrant with an iron fist. He ran the household with fear, intimidation, and complete lack of concern about his children’s feelings.
Which Michael at the realm, the Jackson 5 attracted television and record deals. Before they became famous, they would play in small clubs and bars, exposing the underage boys to bar violence, nudity, and alcohol. But their father didn’t care. He would subject his children to anything, good or bad, to achieve fame and fortune. Like many child stars, however, Michael was forced into world that God never meant for children. Michael never experienced a childhood. He was busy making money for his family and for the record labels. He was a moneymaker. Despite the claims from those who say they loved him and showed genuine concern, he was a music moneymaking machine. The self-worth was solely based on that. If he stopped producing, they stopped caring.
When he was 20 years old, Off The Wall was released. Most people at this age are in college, partying, studying for college exams, or thinking of their careers. Michael remained what he was since he was 10, a money making machine. Not a man with feelings, not a man with a spirit, and a human being. He was a money-making machine, the darling of the media, a man with billions of dollars, yet no life.
It’s just human nature to make up for lost experience. It not unusual for teenage moms, as soon as their children are grown, to dress up in sexy garbs, hang out at bars, and date younger men.
Michael’s inner demons were not demons. They were yearnings (yearnings to have the God given right to a normal childhood).
Now many would say, he should’ve gotten over it or he was mature enough to do the things he should do to heal. Well, it’s easier said than done (especially if you don’t have the right support system – and the media will 90% of the time fail at being a support system). Knowing that the devil is the ruler of this world, he will steal your life, kill your life and destroy your life (John 10:10a). And sadly, this was the case for Michael Jackson. Many of you reading this can identify some areas of your life that mirror his. Personally, I grew up to Michael’s music and he is a gifted songwriter (especially with songs that were focused on healing the world).
Before I share a little bit about my life, let me say this first and foremost. Healing is the children’s bread (in other words, we have a right to be healed – but it will require our part). Check out this excerpt about Michael’s childhood:
Michael Jackson was one of the biggest child stars of his time. Many people adored him because he was such a great presence on stage and moved like no one could. He always seemed so happy and carefree on stage, like a child should be. But that was only a facade. Michael was not a happy child. By the time he was 9, it was almost like he was an adult in a child’s body. He would be in school for about three hours a day and then it was straight to recording or interviews or performances. He had no time to be a kid, no time to play or relax, no other friends except for his other siblings. He was lonely, but his father didn’t care, he overworked Michael. Michael would cry from loneliness and become depressed. He would see other children playing and having fun, while he was on his way to the recording studio or rehearsal. There was just no time for Michael to be a real kid.
As Michael Jackson grew up his fame and success skyrocketed. He was eventually able to escape his father’s abusive grasp and become an extremely successful solo recording artist. But as he grew up he began to reach out to the childhood that he lost. Many people judged Michael because he always acted so childish when he grew up. But he was trying to make up for the time he lost. He always loved children because he saw purity and innocence in them and something magical. He loved their imaginations and curiosity. He loved their ability to dream and he drew from this as inspiration. Many people, mainly the press, alleged that he was doing inappropriate, impure things with children. They said that he would have sex and abuse other children. The lines are still blurred on these allegations. But one thing is for sure, if Michael did any of the things held against him, it was because of his messed up childhood.
If only people had understood what he went through and truly understood who he was, then maybe they wouldn’t have made his life so difficult. He changed his face because his father called him ugly when he was a child. He hung around with kids because he never got to play with other kids when he was young. He acted childish and silly when he was older because he never got to when he was a child. His childhood affected him so much and all he wanted to do was make up for lost time. People that don’t know Michael Jackson only judge him based off of what they heard from the media. But most people have no clue what he went through, the emotional and physical turmoil. If only people took the time to learn about him and learn to appreciate what he contributed during his lifetime instead of his mistakes, then maybe they would stop judging him or making fun of him. He was a great man and the whole world should know. It’s not his fault his childhood was so broken.
Sometimes we can be so wrapped up in self that we still opt to blame Michael (and people who suffered under the hand of abuse, neglect) for all that they endured (and that they should have gotten over it). If there was no support group around (or you grew up in a community where the philosophy was “what goes on in the house, stays in the house”), there’s a slim chance that you will get the support and help you need. So, what happens, you end up resorting to destructive means to cope (even if you know that it’s not going to benefit you).
There are certain parts of Michael’s story that I’m able to relate to. And I’ll share right now.
When I was eight years old, life became different for me. I went from being an introvert with Aspergers to an introvert trying to survive. Between the ages of eight and fourteen, I was thrust into adulthood in certain areas, but at the same time, my childhood was stunted as a result of the abuse (verbal, emotional, physical and sexual), bullying and neglect. Many of you know the story about what my uncle did to me, but there’s one aspect of my abuse where one of my abusers was a female relative. Now watch what I’m about to say. Even though she initiated, it wasn’t a one-time thing. I remember my mother asking me 10-11 years after this period, “what did I know at 11 years old.” My response was, “well, if I was in the kitchen with her going from head to toe for about 45 minutes to an hour, apparently I knew what I was doing.” I made a reference to it in my blogpost PCA about being exposed to pornographic movies by my uncle (who molested me) at the age of 11. My response after seeing it was simply, “been there, done that.” As I think about it now, I knew a lot more than I realized.
Anyway, I faced many of the same ridicules and struggles that Michael did (and I’m sure many others who have lost their childhood could say the same). I’ll list as many struggles that I have seen since the time of my abuse as I can.
- Unusually high level of anger/excessive temper
- Aggression towards family and others
- School problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Acting out in social situations
- Imitating the traumatic event
- Fear of adults who remind them of the trauma
- Inability to trust others or make friends
- Lack of self-confidence
- Sexual knowledge beyond the child’s age
- Overreaction to situations
- Re-creation of the traumatic event during play
For some of you reading this, you may have identified with what I experienced above, or you might have experienced some of these below.
- Verbal abuse towards others
- Overly bossy or controlling
- Stomachaches, headaches and other physical complaints
- Fear of being separated from caregiver
- Eating problems such as loss of appetite, low weight or digestion issues
- Drug or alcohol use
- Hoarding of food
For many of us, these would be considered strongholds over our lives. I am so thankful there’s a way to heal from that. If you’re struggling with this, please don’t wait to get help. If you’re spiritual, pray and/or seek help. A little FYI, it wasn’t until 2008 that I found out that I have PTSD and until 2014 that I found out that I had Aspergers (that went undetected). But know that we have to put in the work to get that spirit of our childhood back. Hold me accountable as I hold you accountable. Don’t care about public eye (they will always try to make you less than, when you are more than).
I want to close this with an excerpt from this article (which is fitting as many of us reading are adults and may be grieving from the loss of childhood). Know that we can be made whole from what we endured from the past. We are survivors! The full article can be read here:
Most people think of grief as a response to the loss of a loved one, but grief can be a response to any type of loss, including the loss of something that never was (such as a happy childhood). This post explores the experience of grief in the present as a response to having bad experiences (from abuse, neglect, or trauma) in the past as a child. Grief of this sort is a necessary and restorative process that permits a person to bring new life and a renewed sense of hope to childhood hardship and deprivation. Looked at in this way grief allows us to cleanse ourselves of hurt and loss and continue to grow and to expand our sense of ourselves.
Many people do not realize that they may be suffering in the present from having been mistreated, deprived or traumatized as a child. Partly this is the case, because it is hard to know that something is missing if one has never had the experience of its presence. If you did not have loving, attentive, nurturing parents who were joyful about life and about you as their child, you might not know that this is something that you lacked. If you were emotionally abandoned or neglected, you may not know what it is like to be emotionally accompanied or cared for.
Often a person does not begin to grieve their childhood losses until they have reached a point in their lives where in they can emotionally afford to do so. This may be because the person has found a therapist with whom they feel safe enough or because they find themselves with a social support system that is stable and strong enough for the first time. The self-compassion borne out of grieving the losses of your childhood makes it clear that you did not deserve the abuse or neglect that you suffered and that you are hurting now because you were hurt then and not because you were bad then.
If you were neglected or abused as a child your emotional or intellectual development may have been truncated. This may be because you needed to use your energy to protect yourself rather than to grow and develop naturally emotionally and intellectually. There may not have been opportunities for you to participate in normal, age appropriate activities such as playing, asking hundreds of curious questions, using your imagination, experimenting with language and cause and effect, or to getting to know yourself and your own emotional internal world in an intimate way. Moreover, these losses and the feelings of grief associated with them may have been unacknowledged or even actively denied by those around you. In some cases the lack of acknowledgement of loss can be more emotionally devastating than the loss itself. The grief associated with unacknowledged childhood loss may be outside your awareness, but actively affecting you to this day.
The Mayne Man