For most of my forty-two years on this planet I've been in a never ending battle to cast off the chains of abuse set upon me by my father.
My mother and father met when she was a young 25 year old divorcee, and he — a 53 year old mail carrier — already married with two kids. My mother used to speak of how charming and charismatic he was in those early days. Coming in to where she worked, lavishing her with adoration and attention, and pretty much sweeping her off her feet. When she came up pregnant (with me), despite the times, she didn't expect my father to leave his wife and set up a new home with us. Deep down I think she hoped he would, but she was fully prepared to raise me on her own. However, that's eventually what happened — he left his wife to take care of my mother and me. Stories after that speak of more difficult times.
I honestly can't say when his abusive side might have begun to show. I think he kept it well hidden while he was courting my mother, but I think I recall hints of it in stories she told. I know she talked about how he didn't like her talking to other men — even just coworkers while at work. He alienated her from her friends and family. He made sure her life revolved around him.
When I was two, Mom and Dad had my little brother. I can't really recall any memories of what might have been MY first episodes of abuse, but outside my bedroom door, there hung a section of well worn leather belt that became all too familiar with our backsides. We lived in a two-bedroom house, and being the first born, I got the second bedroom. My parents put a screen up between the living room and dining room so that my brother might have a "room" of his own. My room became what I liked to call "the whipping room." My father slammed the door behind whomever he was "disciplining" at the time, so many times, that he eventually broke my door. It never did close properly. Most of the time I would have to prop something heavy against the door, or wedge something under it, to keep it closed.
From a young age, my father was big on us having chores around the house. Being female, mine usually consisted of helping mom with meals and cleaning dishes. Any time I would put up a fuss, I would be grounded for what seemed like EVER, or whipped for talking back. Too often, it seemed that I was grounded in my room while my brother and all the kids in the neighborhood were out running free.
I was the good kid — always did as I was told, tried to be good and not talk back, got straight A's in school. My brother was the polar opposite — bad grades, always in trouble — and yet, he never seemed to be punished as much as I was. This perceived difference in how we were treated by our dad caused a huge rift between us. We fought like feral dogs over a chicken bone. Several times I went to sleep dreaming of taking a baseball bat to my brother's head as he slept. Not pretty, I know. I'm not proud of it. But that was my reality. We were pitted against each other for his affection and praise. We were constantly compared to our much older half siblings and their numerous achievements already attained at our age. No matter what we did, how hard we worked, we were never quite good enough.
Continued in Part 2...