I hid most of my entire life to please my family and to forget the abuse and bullying. I have recently introduced my family to the real me, their gay son, brother, uncle and father. They only knew the person I showed everyone, the person I thought everyone else expected me to be. I lived a hidden life because it was a life I never came to terms with, never revealed and lived, until recently.
There are so many things I did not allow them to know about me and that is my fault because I could not deal with the life that was dealt to me. I was born the youngest child in a family of five children. During my first few years of life, I developed bronchitis, which caused me to be the sick kid in our family.
My mother spent a lot of time making sure I was taken care of getting me to the doctors for weekly shots. I think that this caused the rest of the kids in our family some resentment towards me because it drew additional attention on me. This caused much animosity between my next older sibling and me, to the point that he beat me out of revenge.
At about the age of 7 years old, I felt different from my brothers. I felt like I was not the same as other boys, and because I was too young, I could not figure it out. I felt the same around my own my boy cousins or kids in school. I did not feel the same as them and looking back I feel my brother may have sensed that I was gay before I did, and it made him feel different about me. I am not suggesting that, it is just the way I felt about us.
I remember that during our younger years mom put my older brother in charge of watching over me. This was a responsibility that I am not sure he was 100% interested in taking on, but he had no choice because mom and dad forced him. During this time when I was 9 years old a horrible nightmare happened to me that will never be erased from my mind.
It was a winter Saturday afternoon and my brother and I headed over to play at our cousin’s house. Down the block from their house was Goldblatt’s Department store. We decided to head over to Goldblatt’s to get out of the cold and get candy. We were just kids and we decided to hang out in the store and play hide and go seek. It was my turn to be the seeker and find the guys while they hid. A few minutes into the game I had to go to the bathroom. I remember mom and dad telling me not to use the public bathroom without being with them or my older brothers, but I had to go and could not find my brother.
This particular day would be one that changed my life for forever. This day I lost my innocence and would never be the same again. I will not replay the entire story because until this day I die inside reliving this event. I was raped this day in the bathroom at Goldblatt’s Department Store. After the attack I was left on the floor and felt like I was going to die, I picked myself up and ran home, not even remembering that my brother and cousin were still in the store. I just wanted to hide and forget that it happened, and the man that took my youth from me threatened to track me down and kill me if I spoke a word.
I ran home and went up to our bedroom and climbed into the closet and cried until my brother came home. When he entered the room he pulled me out of the closet and beat me up. He was mad because he was responsible for me, and I left. It was not his fault he did not know that an hour earlier a man a raped and attempted to kill me.
My family is now asking me, why didn’t you tell anyone, and why did you hide? Well the man told me if I said anything to anyone he would track me down and kill me and my family. I was a kid, I was frightened for my life and thought that my family and I would be at risk. Years later this decision of hiding this event would haunt me more than you could imagine and I cannot even tell you the details at this point.
That year in spring of 1972, I flunked the 3rd grade at the Public School and mom and dad transferred me to our parish Catholic School that next fall. You see, no one in our family saw what I was going through, but it was because I hid it. I was ashamed what had happened and started to feel that the rape became my fault and I lead this person to do this to me.
Strangely enough as the next few years went by, I started to feel I was not right in my skin. The odd thing is that I felt my brother knew this. I think because he teased me that I was a sissy and because I was not like him and my other brother made me feel even worse in my skin. I remember that at one point my friend Jeff and I were being bullied by a kid at school. He was calling us fags, and my brother caught wind of it and made me beat him up the next time he picked on me. My brother told me that if I did not beat him up he would beat me up. I hated that but wanted to make him proud. That was sick, but I did it so my big brother would be proud of me and accept me.
Check back next week for Part 2 of Patrick's story..
Patrick has now broken his silence and has written a memoir about the abuse and bullying he endured from an older brother throughout his childhood and adult life. The memoir is also a torturous coming out story of a man raised in the midst of a devout Catholic family whose members he loved and spent years trying to please by realizing their dreams for him. He attempted suicide twice, and found freedom and himself one day in three simple words: “I have survived.”
In living to please others, Patrick married twice and today is the proud father of a beautiful and loving 16 year old daughter. Recently, he met a man he loves and is now sharing his life with his partner. Now an advocate for several organizations devoted to preventing childhood abuse and bullying. Available as a public speaker to help victims of abuse and bullying.
Patrick graduated with a BA in Broadcast Communications from Columbia College in Chicago.