Article IV: Programmed For Love - Part 2

Written by:
Jacob King

There is another person, one you might not suspect at first glance, who knows a thing or two about our species programming for love, and what a hell it is to live without it. Especially in its most vital form: parental love.

Eminem was the best selling artist of the 2000’s, selling over a hundred million albums.

He is still one of the best selling artists today and Vibe Magazine named him "The Best Rapper Alive.Seamus Heaney, a former professor of poetry at Oxford University and winner of the 1995 Nobel prize for literature, called him “the savior of new poetry, creat[ing] a sense of what’s possible...”

Yet, despite the world-wide affection he’s earned, his life is largely a story marked with lovelessness. Em was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III in 1972, in St. Joseph, Missouri. According to Salon, his mother “married his father, Marshall Mathers Jr., when she was fifteen; less than three years later, she almost died delivering her first son at the end of a seventy-three hour labor. He was abandoned by his dad when he was just six months old and even though he tried several times as a kid to find his dad and be with him, Marshall Jr. rejected all of his phone calls and letters.

“I'mma expose it, I'll take you back to '73/ Before I ever had a multi-platinum selling CD/ I was a baby, maybe I was just a couple of months/ My… father must have had his panties up in a bunch/ 'Cause he split, I wonder if he even kissed me goodbye” - “Cleaning Out My Closet”

Marshall was left to be raised by his then eighteen year old single mom, who was physically and emotionally abusive to him. She struggled to hold down a job for more than several months at a time, causing them to move back and forth between Missouri and Detroit, usually setting up camp in the public housing projects.

By the time he was in high school, he had attended over twenty different schools. The unstable home environment, constant moving around, and vanishing of Marshall Jr. deeply affected him. Biography also says, “He had no close friends, kept almost entirely to himself and was treated like an outcast at each new school.” He remembers being "beat up in the bathroom, beat up in the hallways, shoved into lockers."

Marshall didn’t have a father in his life who would have his back and do whatever it took to protect him. (Lack of paternal involvement has been associated with a higher likelihood of being bullied and experiencing abuse.) This is especially important if you are going to school on the wrong side of the infamous 8 Mile Road in Detroit. He raps about one kid in particular who bullied him the most, D’Angelo Bailey. It all started when Bailey split his lip and knocked the wind out of him; from then on, the beatings got worse and worse. One day Bailey found Marshall in the bathroom alone and beat him senseless, an incident which left him with intermittent vision and hearing loss. He was only 8 years old.

According to tvovermind, the worst incident came just two days before his 9th birthday. Bailey placed a heavy metal object in a snowball and threw it at Marshall: “Marshall was left on the ground bleeding, and wasn’t found until hours later by his mother, who had to rush him to the hospital as he was in the middle of a seizure when she found him. He went into a coma for ten days and during that time every doctor that looked at him just about gave up hope that he’d recover. Once he miraculously woke up the real hardship began, since he had to relearn almost everything, from basic motor functions on up.

Throughout this time, Marshall kept trying to reach out to his dad with no success. 

He “got very involved in drawing, superheroes, and the rich fantasy life that allowed him to escape…” He became engrossed in an imaginative world that allowed him to recreate his life, a life where he felt safe and loved

And eventually he found his main tunnel of escape through rap: “I spent a lot of time by myself so hip hop became my girl, my confidant, my best homie. By the age of fourteen, he knew he wanted to be a rapper. Despite failing 9th grade three times due to struggles with science and math, his English teacher vividly remembered this wunderkind. He excelled in her classes and became obsessed with the dictionary. At the age of seventeen, he dropped out of high school and went all in on his music career. 

And the rest is hip hop history.

Not surprisingly, once Eminem reached the height of his fame, his father finally returned that phone call that he was so desperate to receive all those years ago. 

“You know, I just don't get it/ Last year I was nobody, this year I'm selling records/ Now everybody wants to come around/ Like I owe 'em somethin'.../ The **** you want from me, ten-million dollars?/ Get the **** outta here” -“Marshall Mathers”

Asked if he would want to meet his dad, Em said:

"I don't know. I don't know. Some people ask me that. I don't think I do. I just, I can't understand how.... If my kids were moved to the edge of the Earth, I'd find them. No doubt in my mind. No money, no nothing, if I had nothing, I'd find my kids. So, there's no excuse. There's no excuse."

When Anderson Cooper interviewed Em, he discovered that Em is really an incredible parent. He has only two real purposes in life: his kids and his music. If he’s not in the studio, he’s with his kids. The only song he ever sang instead of rapped was the song he dedicated to his daughter, Hailie:

“Sometimes I think there's nothin' to live for/ I almost break down and cry.../ Why am I here? Am I just wastin' my time?/ But then I see my baby, suddenly I'm not crazy/ It all makes sense when I look into her eyes…” -“Hailie’s Song”

Even though Em’s early life was an affectionless abyss he still intuitively knew what a parent’s love should be like. He discovered through lived experience, like Yeonmi Park, that we’re programmed not only to need the comfort of a nurturing parent, like our rhesus monkey cousins, but also to consciously know we have a parent who would find us under any circumstance — even if we were moved to the edge of the Earth.

There is a true story about a parent’s search for his kid during the Armenian earthquake in 1988 that exemplifies what Em knew parental love should look like. A former professor of mine writes,

"Everybody felt it… a low rumble and then the ground began to shake. Buildings swayed and buckled, then collapsed like houses of cards. Less than four minutes later, over thirty thousand were dead from a magnitude 8.2 earthquake… In the muddled chaos, a distressed father bolted through the winding streets leading to the school where his son had gone earlier that morning. The man couldn’t stop thinking about the promise he’d given his son many times: ‘No matter what happens, Armand, 

I’ll always be there.’

The father reached the site where the school had been but saw only a pile of rubble.

He just stood there at first, fighting back tears; and he then took off, stumbling over debris, toward the east corner where he knew his son’s classroom had been. With nothing but his bare hands, he started to dig. He was desperately pulling up bricks and pieces of wall-plaster, while others stood by watching in forlorn disbelief...

Only a few pitched in, and most of them gave up once their muscles began to ache. But the man couldn’t stop thinking about his son. He kept digging and digging—for hours… Finally, into the thirty-eighth hour [when everybody else had given up], he heard a muffled groan from under a piece of wallboard.

He seized the board, pulled it back, and cried… From the darkness came a slight shaking voice, ‘Papa…!?’ Other weak voices began calling out, as the young survivors stirred beneath the still uncleared rubble. Gasps and shouts of bewildered relief came from the few onlookers and parents who remained. They found fourteen of the thirty-three students still alive…

When Armand finally emerged, he tried to help dig, until all his surviving classmates were out. Everybody standing there heard him as he turned to his friends and said, 

'...I told you my father wouldn’t forget us.'

If there is an Eternal Evolutioner, It has to be a conscious Being, like us, who is not only wired for communication but also programmed for love — not just love like that fluffy, Hallmark Channel, kind; but that parental, gut wrenching, sacrificial type love; the love that would “go to the edge of Earth'' to find their kids; the love that would dig with their bare hands for thirty-eight hours and never give up type love. If Slim Shady, who got famous for rapping about things like chainsaws and Vicodin, can love his kids this much, then how much more should the programmer of parental love be able to love

And we find ourselves in a situation where we are at “the edge of the earth,” spiritual orphans so to speak, not knowing where we came from; and often in short supply of the love we were programmed for. If there is this Eternal Being, It would be compelled to speak out of love. And, like any good parent, It would be trying to rescue us.

Next Article: Number 134

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