Onions are a funny little bulb, content to grow on their own. Solitary little things made up of layer upon layer of all that onion stuff. Although seldom do you partake of onions entirely on their own, they are very complimentary to some main dishes. I often compare my ex to the likening of an onion. For he prefers to keep his true identity hidden below the layers of lies. Often complimentary, very strong; he has left many who’ve been conned by him with a particularly bad taste in their mouth. He’s no stranger to the manipulations and jargon, anything goes in his world. Provided that is, that it fits into his game plan and provides him a monetary gain for that is his true goal. Those that are still in his clutches have yet to see below the deeper layers or when they have seen it, have been somehow thought that they must be mistaken. This is the intro to my tales with Onion Boy. How I met him and how he set and placed the hooks for optimum effect. And the reason I stuck by his side for over 12 years.
It began in Ontario in 1963, second boy in a family of three kids. Most people talk about their childhood but it’s amazing that after all the years I spent in and around either his family or him, how little I knew of his early years. Sometime in and around his fifth year, the family moved back to Italy. So little information. Any stories that were related, if they were spoken, were told in Italian. Convenient that it could always be a private conversation, even with non-Italian speakers right there in the room. I for years thought it extremely rude, I still do, but I also know now how devious is it and how it tears down the trust. Many years later, I heard from a woman he had a thing with, that he claimed to have his first sexual encounter as a young child. Whether this was truth or an elaborate ploy at garnering pity, I’m not sure. It was not a part of his childhood that he shared with me. If it’s true, it probably parlays into a reason for his sexual deviancy that I discovered in later years. If it’s not true, it’s a sad bargaining chip to be using to manipulate.
As far as his parents go, the one common thread that he gave me was that his parents were both very strict. Especially his father. How much truth there was in that, who could know. Much of what I was told was complete and utter lies. But unfortunately I found out much too late to question some of the things that came along in the early years.
He mentioned physical “altercations” between his father and him. His mother was restricting and controlling. He needed to fit into their idea of what his life should be. Or so he said. He often commiserated about being the black sheep of the family. Even though he spoke as though it was a “poor me” kind of thing, he always kind of liked the celebrity that it gave him within the family unit. I know now that he craved it and still does.
When we met, it was a definite culture shock. I had never known parents to be controlling to the extent that I was witnessing. His father wasn’t around much because he worked out of town. Left with a mother who was so controlling that she didn’t want him to play sports. When he went behind their backs and joined soccer and wrestling, his mother was nowhere to be seen. It was a sort of punishment for going against the grain. If memory serves, she went to one wrestling tournament. That’s it, no games, just that one sporting event. Because she didn’t approve and she was afraid he’d get hurt. It was a way of demonstrating her lack off approval. Now, let me tell you one peculiarly stunning fact. At this time, my ex was 18, NOT 8 years old. Most parents are glad to give their kids a bit of leeway at that stage of life to allow their kids to kind of branch out on their own and forge their own path. But not that mother. Control and manipulation were her game and she played her cards well for she instilled the fear and disapproval seed deep into the hearts of her children.
Seeing this and realizing that I was seeing a level of dysfunction in a family that I’d never personally known, made me a warrior for his cause. At least internally, for his parents scared the crap out of me too. I would never have spoken out to his parents about their actions. My support was the “strong, silent type”. In retrospect, it would have been healthier to speak my mind to them. If I got a chance. The thing is this, even though we dated for eight years, I was not acknowledged as his girlfriend by them for a number of years. Years…not days, not months.
I met his mother once in the early days, but they spoke Italian, so I never knew what transpired in the conversation, only that the woman seemed very loud and very high strung. So loud, in fact, that I asked him later why she yelled at him. He laughed and said “she wasn’t yelling”. That’s when I first began to notice the big difference between normal and being raised in the “onion factory”. So you see, what I knew, I knew from him and no one else. I was ripe for the picking, he could literally tell me anything and I would believe it.
So he, we snuck around. It was all very romantic. The disapproving parents, the rebellious son, it was a perfect scenario to play the pity card. A card which he would continue to play for years to come. I’d pick him up across the street or I’d meet him somewhere. Feeling like a dirty little secret played on me, and not in a good way. What he actually told his parents about me I don’t have a clue. All I knew was that according to him, his parents didn’t approve of me or my relationship with him. What I’ve learned now is the insidious way that knowing this destroyed my self-esteem and tore down my self-worth. I had much to offer, but I wasn’t Italian. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand the logic behind the lines that were being drawn. What I found out years later is that he hadn’t told them about me at all. A friend only not a girlfriend. So the walls that built up were a direct result of the lies and fables that he made up. Years of Christmases, and special events that I wasn’t invited to. Family functions that I wasn’t extended an invite to. It takes its toll on a person and how they value themselves.
A stronger person might have walked. The claws were deep by then and my psyche whittled away. I was in it now and was I in for a rude surprise years down the road. The word sociopath was not even in my dictionary then, not even a blip on the radar, nor was the notion that the man that I was involved with would be anything less than honest. The next several years would enlighten me. And not in a good way. Welcome to the Onion Factory. Enjoy your stay.