At the age of seven, Rubuen received a gift of glow-in-the-dark boots. He could hardly contain himself with all the anticipation of showing those off to his friends. The day he was to wear those boots to school, he woke up early and rushed to get ready. When he found his boots, one of his brothers, cousins, or uncles had pooped in them as a cruel joke. The joy of the boots was lost. Rubuen doesn’t remember what he did with those boots; but, he remembers the sadness and tears.
A home infested with violence, alcohol, and drugs describes Rubuen’s life as a child and teenager. Growing up in Michigan, he watched his parents, uncles, and brothers drink alcohol and abuse drugs. Celebrations such as birthdays and holidays were a reason for his family to get drunk. These occasions always ended up in chaos and brutal fistfights.
From the ages of four to ten, Rubuen was in and out of the hospital because of his asthma. The secondhand smoke from his parents and family members only worsened his problem. One night, his coughing bothered his father so much that he chased Rubuen, who was in pajamas, out the door and into the snow. Rubuen was petrified while he crouched behind a bush to hide from his dad. His sister sneaked a blanket out to him.
“This hurts,” Rubuen said with a sorrowful expression as he continued to talk about his past. The memories of his childhood were drowned in pain. Rubuen’s father, brothers, uncles and older cousins abused him physically and emotionally. “They abused me for fun. They would laugh at me and do all sorts of awful things to me,” said Rubuen. At times, his mother was also emotionally abusive.
Two older brothers forced Rubuen to use marijuana at the age of eight. To torture him, his brothers would make him jump off a picnic table and land flat on his face and stomach. If he cried, they would abuse him. All the abuse and cruelty left Rubuen confused. He couldn’t trust the ones that he loved. How could he trust any adults enough to tell them what was happening to him?
When Rubuen was ten, he and his cousin would steal drugs when his uncle and the other men would pass out from alcohol and drugs. Rubuen learned to mix cocaine and cigarettes when he was 10 to 15 years old. During this time, he started staying out late at night. His parents didn’t care as long as he was not in the way. His brothers forced him to fight and break into neighbors’ homes. He stole toys, bikes, and change from vending machines.
Rubuen was embarrassed because of his family and experienced great pain as a child and teenager. Nobody knew of the pain Rubuen felt. He walked that journey alone or so he thought.