Let Me Put It This Way

I had an amazingly screwed up childhood.

And, I’m glad I did.

Yep, I’m glad because the insanity that was made the person that is.

I was born, against all odds and to the amazement of every doctor around, in rural farmland to a couple who’d never thought children were going to happen for them.

My mother desperately wanted a child, but my father didn’t. In fact, he often told me how much he didn’t want children as the years went by.

He wasn’t particularly mean about it, just matter-of-fact.  But, to a young girl the words cut like a knife.

A hot knife with serrated edges.

My parents divorced when I was six.  I still remember it like it was yesterday.  Few things are as traumatic for a child as divorce.  I thought the world had ended.

I was wrong, of course.

My mother dated some after the divorce.  Her incredibly beautiful and exotic features attracted men like moths to a flame. 

When I was eight she remarried.  My new stepfather came with an added bonus feature – a six year old stepsister whom I loathed nearly as much as him.

Blended families are not like you see on The Brady Bunch.  They are forged from the fire of anger and the grit of determination.  In the end, some are beautiful works of art and others are left on a pile of discards, charred and misshapen.

Ours was somewhere in between.  My sister and I fought – I once broke a finger of hers and she graced me with a gigantic bald patch on my head.  Our fighting didn’t seem to affect the parental units much.  Of course, liberal applications of gin and vermouth might have had a lot to do with that.

Because of their need for alone time with Tanqueray and Martini & Rossi we were left to our own devices a lot.

Neither of us was particularly rebellious, but both of us were desperate for the attention that our parents now showered upon one another.

There were moments, when one of us was sick or hurt, that brought them both running and being the kind of parents we wanted all the time.

These glimpses made us both wish for a fever or broken bone.

As I entered pre-adolescence I discovered the magic of the written word. One of my first loves had always been horses, and Walter Farley introduced me to a magnificent horse named, simply, “The Black”.  I read every “Black Stallion” novel ever written and re-read them when I finished the series.

Truth be known, right now in my desk drawer is a paperback copy of “The Black Stallion”.  It is worn and rough around the edges, kind of like me these days, and I cherish it.

At thirteen someone loaned me a copy of “Christine” by Stephen King.  From then on, and to this day, I read his work whenever I can.

In high school I was completely in love with horror and science fiction writing, and spent time with H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, and the aforementioned King.

It was also during this time that I began to write.  To date, though unpublished, I’ve written one young adult fantasy manuscript and several children’s stories – including an entire series on a pair of unlikely buddies, a dog named Angelo and a cat named Malcolm, that I will continue to write about so long as it makes me happy.  

I’m not sure where writing and reading blurred, but one thing I am sure of.  If I hadn’t discovered the escape of a good book I don’t think I’d of developed such a love for writing.

In high school I was awarded every accolade possible for my creative writings – short stories and poetry – and urged to pursue a degree that would help further a career as a writer.

Well, life intervened and it never happened.

And, I can’t help but think I’m glad it did.  For while life was happening, I was tucking the details away so later I could use them in a world of my own creation. 

A world where I could control the outcome.

A world where Daddies didn’t leave, and never told their daughters they didn’t really want children after all.

Posted on April 16, 2012, in In All Seriousness, Too Much Information and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. My childhood was also tough, but for adifferent reason. An abusive mother combine with my explosive temper is not a good mix. I also lost myself very often in books. We share two favorite authors, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov; read everything I found that they wrote.

    My story is not only unpublished, it isn’t even written. The details keep changing. It’s about characters facing challenges alone and how and why they have to ingore people’s perception of them.

    Your fights with your stepsister resembles regular sibling rivalry to me. I had those fights with my older brother.

    • Oh geez…the fights were more vicious than the one example I gave. I hated her with a passion. Fortunately, that passed.

      You will never write your story if you don’t at least begin! Start with your mother and see where it takes you. 🙂

  2. Really great post! Reading and writing are wonderful outlets and I’m impressed by all your writing. I can barely put together coherent blog posts on an irregular basis and you’ve written a manuscript and several children’s stories! I hope you’ll let us know when they are published so we can be among your fans!

    • Thanks, Mark…and they’ll be published just as soon as someone tells a publisher just how marvelous I truly am. LOL! Seriously, I think I could wallpaper a good-sized room with all the lovely rejection letters I’ve gotten. Every, single one of them starting with some version of “We are so very impressed with your voice/writing style/insights..but…” And, yes you are a much better writer than you give yourself credit for, punkin. You just need to trust that inner voice of yours more. 🙂

  3. So moving CJ and so familiar. My first love was reading too. It was my escape and I have the fondest memories of books I read as a child. Did you ever read the Danny Dunn books? There was a recreation program at a nearby school one summer with sports, board games and special events but most of my time was spent in the library, which was also open. I read nearly every book they had and that summer. Ahh, memories. 🙂

    • No, I never heard of Danny Dunn. What kind of books are they?

      • Danny Dunn had these very cool adventures. The one title that stands out in my memory is “Danny Dunn and the Automatic House” – junior sci fi! They weren’t as well known as Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys but the books were along those lines. He was around my age at the time I read them and it was a feel-good read.

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