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Poem: Dear Troubled Neighbor


Besides writing psychological poetry, Mark enjoys exploring a variety of topics from surfing to juicy grandma kisses.


Children of Combative Families

I've lived in many apartments with a wide variety of neighbors. Most have been neighborly, while a few others have been downright scary. One particular couple seemed to fight on a regular basis and, on numerous occasions, the police had to be called. It felt as though a tragedy was brewing. As far as I know, there weren't any injuries, but there were, perhaps, invisible wounds that ran deeper.

As a former family therapist, I had worked with many combative families and tried to convey the importance of handling conflict in a civil way and not with abuse. Children of abusive families tend to perpetuate this behavior as adults. This poem is dedicated to the children who are prisoners of such tumultuous families.

Poem: Dear Troubled Neighbor

I’m writing you this letter
because I live directly below you
and can hear the shaking
of the walls, the stomping
on the floors, and the slamming
of the doors.

As a child of marital conflict,
I walked through those fires
and quakes of family discord.
My parents’ marriage
was much like yours,
leaving a rubble of destruction

I was once the child
who was caught in the middle,
perhaps like your daughter,
pulled in opposite directions,
having to choose a side,
until my childhood split in disrepair.

Neither parent cared enough
to call a truce
or to spare me
from the vicious cycle
of anger’s indignation.

And so, as a child, I sent out
a feeble cry to my parents,
shrouded in troublesome behaviors,
causing self-imposed problems,
hardships too numerous to mention.

Take heed, my neighbor.
It’s not for me
but for your offspring
and your family’s future.

If you want to avoid
more suffering and pain,
deal with your disharmony
in a civil and a more peaceful way
or face a grievous end.


Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on November 04, 2019:

Thank you, Tamara.

Tamara Yancosky from Uninhabited Regions on November 04, 2019:

A great poem with a needed message!

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on October 19, 2019:

Thanks, Faith. I will check it out!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 19, 2019:

Oh! It is. It’s the second hub I posted on HubPages. So, way on down the page. It seems the best hubs one posts are usually among the first hubs posted, at least it seems that way to me.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on October 19, 2019:

If "A Soldier's Child" is on your HubPages site, I'd love to read it, Faith.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 19, 2019:

Meant “hearing” all of that. I had written a poem about it “A Soldier’s Child” ... it’s traumatic for a child to hear such at a young age. Back then no one talked about it like they do today. They were pretty much on their own. I’m glad they know what it is these days and are encouraged to get help.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on October 19, 2019:

Thanks, Faith for your insight into this problem. It’s nice that you were understanding of your dad’s PTSD. It makes me wonder how many couples act out their traumas in relationships.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 19, 2019:

Powerful reminder of the children who suffer daily in these types of situations. My situation was a little different with my Dad suffering with PTSD after returning from Korean and Viet Nam ... and I remember the pain he felt when his mind went back to the battlefield. As a child heating all of that, I felt it too.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on September 19, 2019:

Yes, Rinita, couples whose needs are not met tend to fight a lot. If only we could communicate our needs better. We all would be a lot less angry.

Rinita Sen on September 19, 2019:

Childhood thrown into disrepair - yes, that sums it. This poem rings true, I feel, for every generation. Husbands and wives keep fighting (as if that's a good thing) and the children suffer. They grow up and behave the same way. I hope more people read this and take something away.

Adam Mason from Melbourne, Australia on August 13, 2019:

I'm sorry about that. Yes definitely, keep writing! I enjoy it

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on August 12, 2019:

A lot less, Adam. They both have passed away. I find writing about it helps greatly.

Adam Mason from Melbourne, Australia on August 12, 2019:

Hi Mark, I enjoyed the poem. Is the anger still around towards your parents to this day? I'm 24 and still resentful.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on August 11, 2019:

Thank you, Genna, for your input. Denial is the most widely used defense mechanism. People only deal with what they can handle. And kids can’t handle too much.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on August 11, 2019:

Hi Mark...

This is a stunning poem, Mark...I only wish it could be read by everyone. That you could take such experiences and give "voice to them," as Lorna mentioned below, in a positive way by helping families through therapy is just wonderful.

Children often bury feelings from such abusive environments, which can often lead to acting out in a variety of harmful ways in later years.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on August 05, 2019:

Thanks for the complement,Finnegan. Much luck in your social work career.

Fin from Barstow on August 05, 2019:

A powerful little poem. I am studying social work and empathize with your keen observations. I like the video you made with the poem and you read really well.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on August 05, 2019:

Thank you, Laura. I agree. Poetry always sounds better if it’s from a place of experience and truth.

Laura Grace from Tampa, Florida on August 05, 2019:

Mark I love your poem, specially because it comes from your own experience. I think poems that are written from the heart of our own past are the most touching. I can see you are a good person trying to save future sorrow to that child that is caught in a war. And it’s unfortunate that parents don’t realize the emotional damage these conflicts cause on their children. Very good message.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on August 01, 2019:

Thank you, Brenda for the kind words.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on August 01, 2019:

Nice work. I can see the pain you feel watching your neighbors child go through this torment.

Good write. I enjoyed your video of reading your poem also.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on August 01, 2019:

It could be getting worse, as well, John, with all the stresses that parents face nowadays. I believe that parents get so angry in the struggle of meeting their needs that they lose perspective of their fragile son or daughter in the house who has to hear their fighting.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on August 01, 2019:

Mark this poem highlights a very real problem in our society, domestic dispute, and the children are often the unfortunate “meat in the middle.” Having worked in the field as a family therapist you are well qualified to write about this in a poem that makes a plea for the couple’s daughter.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on July 29, 2019:

Good point, Paul. "Objects separated couples will draw lots to have." To take a step further with these warring couples, children almost become like property to be divided up and moved around at the whims of family courts.

Ryan Paul S Balagtas from Philippines on July 29, 2019:

Family is taken lightly these days and children are seen as objects separated couples will drawlots to have. This poem is a reminder of what our society is taking for granted now.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on July 29, 2019:

Thank you, Lorna, for the kind words. Your reference to untold damage resonates with me. We don’t know the extent of the damage because children can’t verbalize it all.

Lorna Lamon on July 29, 2019:

You have given a voice to the children in this heart breaking poem Mark. This form of abuse does untold damage which takes years to heal and unfortunately I see its results all too often. Written with such a depth of feeling and honesty your poem is incredibly insightful.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on July 28, 2019:

Thank you, Lora. Totally agree with your comment. And these troubled parents need to be supported and encouraged to work through their issues by other family members or friends. And if their problems are beyond repair, to plan their separation in a way that satisfies the family’s needs.

Lora Hollings on July 28, 2019:

Your poem is a passionate plea for parents to realize the important responsibility they have not to raise their children in an environment of discord and conflict. It makes children feel very insecure about themselves and causes constant stress that can effect their performance in school, their feelings about themselves and even their emotional and physical health. If there is such conflict going on between the couple, then they need to seek immediate help from a marriage counselor or a family therapist to deal with this problem before it has lasting negative effects on their children. A profound poem, Mark.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on July 28, 2019:

That’s quite a story, Flourish, and you’re right, it happens across all walks of life and socioeconomic groups. It’s sad whoever’s involved.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on July 28, 2019:

Absolutely, Tamara. I would have given you a prime appointment. :)

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on July 28, 2019:

Totally agree, Dana. Sometimes it’s the right choice to co-parent separately rather than risk harm to the kids by staying together.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on July 28, 2019:

Thank you, Tim, for your kind words. People get help either when their ready or when they’re forced to. Usually it’s the later when it comes to domestic problems. Our greatest defense mechanism is denial. Unless the judge tells us to do it; it ain’t happening.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on July 28, 2019:

Very much so, Lori.

Mark Tulin (author) from Ventura, California on July 28, 2019:

Thank you, Ruby Jean. I believe that the parents get so wrapped up in their own anger and injustice that they can’t see any one else.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 28, 2019:

Heartrending poem and it occurs in all neighborhoods. There used to be a doctor and his family living next door. One night I was awakened by flashing police blue lights at two in the morning. Of course, I peeped outside to see what was going on. The neighbor was out on his front lawn with only his drawers on, obviously intoxicated, and talking loudly to the police. He had been in some kind of physical altercation, and they handcuffed the man and removed him from the premises. The doctor ended up losing his medical license because of prescription abuse and the family also lost their home. It's probably a good thing the couple divorced. You never know for sure what goes on in people's lives, but the kids suffer the most.

Tamara Yancosky from Uninhabited Regions on July 28, 2019:

Another sensitive poem, Mark. Beautiful.

I did not realize that you were a therapist. I would have come to you a long time ago... lol.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on July 28, 2019:

You find this more and more. Parent's so angry with each other they cant put their differences aside for the sake of their children. Let me be clear I'm not judging. I understand we're human and it's easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and see nothing else.

The problem is there are others who are damaged by those actions and the repercussions can cause irreparable damage that will travel down to generations.

No one wants to see kids separated from either parent but its better to co-parent separately than try to stay together and be miserable it's not healthy for the child.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on July 28, 2019:

Mark, I enjoyed your masterful work. The biggest victim of these family disputes is often the child. Your poem captures this splendidly. I remember one instance in which I lived near a neighbor who had a boyfriend who frequently abused her. When we suggested she seek help, ironically enough, she attacked the apartment manager. Eventually, she was evicted, and the child was surrendered to social services. Sometimes, I think about whatever happened to that child. I pray she eventually had a normal life. You are a poet from the heart, friend, and artist of the soul. Respectfully, Tim

Lori Colbo from United States on July 28, 2019:

Heart breaking.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 28, 2019:

It would be great if your neighbor's could read this poem. If they only knew the sorrow this causes a child, I have been there. Insightful poetry, written with feelings.

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