Still Arranging to Meet Big Sister Who Saw Me Abused & Taken in 1969
This is a follow-up to the post I did yesterday (6/7/15) concerning the biological sister whom I just learned that I have. If you haven't done so already, I suggest that you read that post before continuing to read this one:
As it turns out, my sister and I both have our financial struggles with hers having prevented us from speaking, even though we have had each others numbers for one week today – 6 /8/15 (which is also exactly four months since the day that I met the first of two women whose website led to this reunion-in-the-making). As it turns out, I am having some timely fortune which will enable me to pay the $80.00 she needs for her phone bill. I'll have $300.00 this week in addition to my phone being paid for three months. I make semi-regular speeches to groups from colleges, universities, high schools and churches who travel to Washington, DC to do services trips during which they learn about homelessness. (It was one such speech that caused me to meet Lalita – one of the French creators of the website where my niece found me.) I also have benefactors who help me out from time to time. As chance would have it, I'm guaranteed to have $300.00 this week – a feat I tend to pull off every two to four months. I'll speak to Valerie by tomorrow evening, most likely.
In the interim, we've been texting. Through at least a couple hours of texting total on Saturday and Sunday, I've learned a lot about our biological parents and what Valerie has been going through both as a child and as an adult. Her four children – ages 12 to 26 – have heard about their uncle throughout their lives. This led to my niece Turquoise (22) finding me on-line. I asked if she was the most tech-savvy or it was just a chance happening and was told by her mother that it was the latter.
My sister Valerie who was three when my skull was fractured (me having been eight months old at the time) and when I was gladly given by our mother to the Department of Youth and Family Services continued to ask about me for the next seven years – and got beaten each time. She finally learned not to ask anymore. At 10 years old she found a birth card with my name on it – spelled “Erick" as opposed to how I've spelled it since I learned to write which is “Eric”. A certain Huffington Post article (of which there are at least three about me) spelled my name “Erick” and when I Googled that article by using their spelling, Google “corrected” me by asking, “Do you mean 'Eric Sheptock'?”. LOL.
I told her that I actually returned to Atlantic City in 1994 at age 25 to search for my birth parents and asked Valerie what years either of them passed. It turns out that our mother passed in 2005 and our father passed in 2007, neither having had any more children. Valerie also explained that, while our father loved me, our mother would not have met with me if I'd been successful at finding her in 1994. As for our biological father, he died within months of me learning to use computers and that didn't leave a very big window of time for me to find him – the facts that finding people was not the first thing I learned to do on computers and that I didn't know which parent was to blame notwithstanding.
In any instance, Valerie is glad that I was eventually taken in by a loving family whom I often talk about. I'll speak to a group tomorrow (6/9/15). As is sometimes the case, I'll need to amend my story. I usually talk about the National Coalition for the Homeless which arranges these speeches and other events, followed by my personal story and then an explanation of homelessness in general – usually with a political slant. In recent weeks I've reported on the good things that current DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is doing to decrease homelessness in our nation's capital. When I tell my story, I sometimes say, “I don't know which one did it, what they did it with, why they did it, where they are now, if they ever got caught and did time or the name of the person who found me”. The words just roll off of my tongue. I've actually told that part of my story for the past 28 years, pre-dating my homelessness and advocacy. I'll need to amend my story starting tomorrow.
The part of my life with the Sheptocks that I don't say or write much about is the conflicts that occurred – partly because I'm expected by many who hear me to be so eternally grateful and utter not a mumbling word and partly because familial conflicts are so common that I expect others to understand and accept them as a normal part of life. With my mother Joanne Sheptock having been the dominant parent – the one who ran the house and the chief disciplinarian – it's not hard to imagine that there were many disagreements that ran along the lines of male rationale vs. female emotion. Such is the case in many such families, if not any such family. Such was the case with ours. To this day I abhor the thought of “Mom” (Joanne Sheptock) publicly describing my life with her from a female emotional perspective. What man doesn't hate how Mom brings up childhood occurrences which he believes do nothing to define him as a man???
The conflict between rationale and emotion is further exacerbated in my case by the fact that I was abused. This gave Mom the space to assert that any anger which I expressed as a child was a result of the abuse and subconscious resentment that I was harboring. I had the hardest time getting her to see that I was upset about what was then an immediate situation – and don't know that I ever actually succeeded in this respect. It was as though I was expected to be super-human by never getting upset about anything lest it be seen as a subconscious response to my traumatic past which I told her that I don't even remember.
I would argue as a 10- or 15-year old that she was attributing more power to my sub-conscience than to my conscience and that she doesn't know how I would have turned out if I'd not been abused, being that it happened. She would fire back with her emotional assertion, “Mommy just KNOWS you wouldn't be so angry if that hadn't happened!” Little did she realize that her refusal to immediately succumb to the rational conclusion that “we can't know with certainty what would have been” was itself upsetting me further during those conversations.
One of the most recurrent arguments was about her not allowing me to play football. I'd sometimes sneak in a game; but, when she found out, we'd argue. She'd claim that I “refused to accept my limitations” and that I “had misplaced anger”. I often longed to get her to see that I was a normal kid with normal kid desires as opposed to her always building her assessment of my attitudes around an event that I don't even remember. Needless to say, I'm a bit skeptical when I hear anyone talk about the sub-conscience. Though I don't play much of anything as a man, it was difficult to have an over-protective mother prevent me from being fully involved with my father and brothers. It would have been made easier if she had said less about me being resentful and more about me having normal boyish desires which she laments not being able to let me live out.
My “Dad” Rudy Sheptock loved a “good worker”. I've witnessed Mom telling him about the bad behavior of myself or a sibling while he was at work, only to have him respond with “So-and-so is a good worker”. She told him that their good work didn't excuse their bad behavior – a point I, as a man, agree with in principle. While I WOULD work with my father and brothers in the yard on Saturday mornings and shovel snow whenever there was a need to, Mom would often call me in earlier than the others. That always upset me. We'd often argue about that. One time her errands took her past me as I mowed grass during a summer job I had at 17. She asked how long I'd been out there. It had been several hours. She told my boss to have me do something else. I wasn't happy, though I don't recall us arguing about that particular incident.
Dad had no tolerance for “sissies”. If a brother got a small cut or bump while doing yard work and began to whine, Dad would say, “You little sissy!!! Go inside with your mother and the girls!!! We only want men out here!!!” (That was one of his oft-repeated spiels that is etched into my memory. I didn't want to have it directed at me.) In one very memorable incident, Mom and I were arguing about her having called me in early. Dad came by and I, with tears in my eyes, uttered his “sissy statement”. He then said he'd make an exception for me. Oddly enough, that argument took place near a wall where my father had posted several pieces of poster board with different Bible verses which he's markered in. Directly above my head at that moment was a poster board that read “II Thessalonians 3:10: …..If any man does not work, neither should he eat”.
I've done a number of dangerous jobs in my adulthood and worked eight or more hours at a time in the south Florida summer heat – having lived in Jacksonville and Miami, Florida as well as points in between. At different points in time, I've thought about how that, if Mom had anything to say about it, I might not be doing that. She has changed somewhat in that past 25 years and we get along much better now. I sent a text to her land-line phone around midnight on Saturday, not realizing it would ring and wake her. (I've never received a text on a land-line phone.) She woke and we spoke. She knows about my sister having found me and that I plan to visit.
I AM grateful to Rudy and Joanne Sheptock for raising me. Facebook users recently asserted that women who were not sexually assaulted by the men in their lives should not be compelled to publicly thank those men for doing the right thing or for not doing the wrong thing. Concerning my adoption, I would say that I only owe Mom (with Dad being deceased) the usual amount of thanks that one would expect from a biological son. I've always seen her as “Mom”. We've had the usual arguments that accompany family life. We've had some arguments that were specific to my special situation. In spite of our bad times, we've also had good times; and I still love her. She's “Mom”. That's it. That's all.