Maury Povich

MauryOften, my parents would disappear for long stretches of time, days, weeks, and over a month more than once. While they were gone, we steadily learned a bit of confidence. We stopped being afraid that they would be home any second. This led to some serious abusive situations, in which my step dad would beat us all because the dishes weren’t all clean when he got home, or the laundry wasn’t folded. We were responsible for keeping the house clean and tidy at all times, to the detriment of our health and education.

One of the things that we did when we weren’t afraid they were coming home at any second would be to watch a single episode of television. Growing up, there was a show I despised. It was called Maury, hosted by Maury Povich. My mother was convinced that children’s shows were evil, and that diversity was wrong. We didn’t know any better, so we watched adult shows.

I can remember Maury having abused kids on his show. They had been beaten, molested, you name it. We would watch these episodes, and mock the people being interviewed. “What  a bunch of pussies.” “They are so spoiled! ‘I have no heat at home.’ Cry babies. I bet they’ve never been locked out of the house while it was snowing. They have their priorities all wrong.”

See, in my house, it was normal to carry buckets of water from the neighbor’s house to flush the toilet, because our water was off. We would also routinely microwave our water because we needed to wash dishes. We took cold sponge baths, and didn’t mind it. We took so much crap as a part of everyday life.

I can remember my mother breaking wooden paddles and spoons and things, trying to leave “enough of a blister that we’d remember it.”

In short, my parents were such sick, demented people, that I thought the abused and pitied people on the Maury show were just weak. After all, we’d lived through our entire house being condemned because of black mold. I had woken up every night of winter at 3 am to feed the fire, so our house wasn’t cold. Those pitiful people had no idea what life was really about. I was ashamed to live in a world where people were such wimps.

Of course, now I live in a “first world” family. I know the luxury of hot water, and constant connection to the world. It means so much to me that I have REAL conversations with my kids. It makes my day every time one of the kids hugs me. Know why? I don’t scare them. They don’t respect me because I’m a monster. They respect me because their safety and happiness are my number one priority.

I pity my parents. They fill my nightmares, and left my many siblings scarred and broken. My father is dead, and my mother is insane. I will never have a relationship with either of them. Now, I am committed to being the parent that they never were. My thanks go out to Jenny, and the kids’ father every day. They made miracles happen, and I am blessed to be a part of those miracles, every day.

Share if it spoke to you!


  1. Fierce hugs, Rory. The Rory I know and love is a fun, kind person. My heart goes out to you when I read what your childhood was like and I grieve for you and your brother. I would do anything to erase that from your past.

    You are now in a place of love and happiness. You deserved much better than you got back then. Instead of being angry because of your horrific situation, you chose a path that, today, makes you such an epic parent. You are now blessed and are such a blessing to so many people. Cheers to you, my dear, dear friend.

  2. Yoko Olsgaard

    I, for one, thank you for sharing this. I hope poor Mr. Rathbone quits following your blog. It’s obvious that it’s a waste of his time to read it. I, on the other hand, finally understand why you have so many issues and it all makes sense now.
    Now that we know, tell us how you are moving on and forging new mindsets for yourself in the first world. I know one other person who grew up without hot water etc. and he has done tough edges but is now a well respected member of the social group that you and I are a part of. I am so glad you met your Jennie and I think of her often with thanks and love. I am so glad you are assuaging your painful memories by giving her kids (now your kids) lots of love and consistency. And good for you for not using their names. That would not be true smartest thing to do. I too, have suffered in my lifetime, and can tell you that the abuse stopped with me. Good for you for being the same!!!! I’m proud of you! Love, Yoko

    • Yoko Olsgaard

      Oops I meant “some rough edges”. Darned phone and I couldn’t correct my post!

  3. Angel

    You are loved! Your transparency and openness has helped many.


  4. Basil,
    You clearly are missing the point of this blog. It’s not just about how shitty things were in Rory’s childhood. It’s about how he’s taking that experience and learning from it and growing. Hello….? Have you not been reading his posts? Or is your thumb stuck so far up your ass you can’t get past the pain of it? Just sayin’.

    I, for one, greatly appreciate your posts, Rory. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I can relate to some of your childhood experiences. I have gone to counseling on/off for years and have never been brave enough to even begin to open up about what went on in our house as children. I’m too afraid too, really. I guess it’s that message I always heard from my father yelling: “NO ONE WILL EVER BELIEVE YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE NOTHING TO ANYONE!” Then in lower tones, so no one could hear: “They’ll just think you’re crazy and are making shit up about me because everyone likes me. You are always laughing and smiling in front of them (Because he told me too and I was too fucking scared not too!), do you really think they’d believe you? You’d get put into a crazy house. Is that what you want?”

    You are brave enough to be real. I’m not. I learn so much about myself by reading your posts. Please, please keep going. Not just for you, but for us too.


    Anne 🙂

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