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Life was pretty hard in my childhood home. Both my parents were extremely paranoid and taught their children to mistrust all human beings. I was told that people would “STAB YOU IN THE BACK”  and EAT YOU ALIVE”.  No one came to visit. Neither of my parents had any friends and we were kept in forced isolation at home for this reason. If we didn’t come straight home after school there would be hell to pay. I think they only allowed for school because it was the law and they knew they’d go to jail if they didn’t comply. Because I had my hands full with the business of hard living I was only a ‘C’ and ‘D’ student, but neither of my parents seemed to care much about our grades.

One time my twin sister convinced dad to allow her to invite a girl over. Dad was sitting in his kitchen chair… in his underwear… wearing a huge frown on his face (dad’s face was in a permanent frown). None of us kids ever thought about inviting anyone over after that humiliation. And besides, we knew they wouldn’t allow it.

I was the alien of the family. My dad hated me and loved his other two children, my sister… the apple of his eye, and my brother… dad’s only son. I never had any friends, and since we were kept so isolated, there were no other adults for me to bond with. I was alone and I raised myself alone. Being only a child, I did a very poor job of it. When I became an adult I saw people the way my parents saw people… frightening, two-dimensional pictures on a wall… objects to be used and then kept clear of. I could not understand that other people had feelings of their own and could get hurt like I did. I’ve come a long way since then, but even today I am still wary around people some and stay pretty much to myself.

When we were young, my parents pitted my sister and me against each other. They would have horrible fights almost every day. Then mom would take me to my room and talk to me about how terribly dad was abusing her. Dad would do the same with my sister. Of course, since we were only small kids, my sister and I had to side with the parent who confessed to each of us. We would have fist fights in the hallway over the different points of view they instilled in us.

My brother seemed to like my sister… but not me. He would call me ‘fruits’ and ‘nuts’… as in; “You’re a fruit.” and; “You’re nuts.”  He and my sister would have talks in her room where I was never included. But there was one thing he liked to do with me, that was to watch me get dressed. There were no doors on our bedrooms. Dad always said he, “wanted to keep an eye on us.” When we turned 16, me and my sister begged dad to install doors on our rooms, but even so, I had to lean against mine when I was dressing because my bother would try to push the lockless door open. My parents never seemed to notice this.

I remember one thing I did that hurt my sister. I took a lavender skirt of hers and just cut the bottom of it off. Later on in life I realized how hurtful this was for her. When I was older and out of the home I said I was sorry a hundred times to her  but she could not accept my apology. Finally, when we were 50, I sent her a lavender outfit, which helped. She says she doesn’t resent me for this anymore. I’m sure I’ve done other needlessly hurtful things to people because people don’t usually like me, so I’m sure I’ve taken hurtful actions that I can’t yet see.

Today my sister and I are as thick as thieves. My recovery from alcohol abuse, together with some very hard work on her part, made it possible for us to become friends. After a little while of sobriety and hard work, I began to see her as a human being and I became aware that my speech and my actions could hurt her. This was a lot of growth for me.

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