I May Have Had a Bad Childhood

I may have had a bad childhood.  Let me be clear, I was never beaten.  I came from a good home with good parents.  I say this because I don't remember much from birth to about ten.  Even then, it's just bits and pieces, walking to school, a family trip out East, fragments.  

In grade school I became the joker, the class clown.  I had bullies, male and female but I never told my parents.  In those days, the 70's and 80's parents were still authority figures, to be feared.

In high school I retained and even built on my joker status.  I had friends but no one really close.  Most of the time I wanted to die.  I was obsessed with death and anything death related.  I was a cutter before cutting went mainstream.  I'd wear colorful scarves around my wrists and claim it was a fashion statement when my friends would jokingly ask if I had tried to kill myself.

I remember asking my mother why she had me, the last of a big family, when she clearly didn't want so many children.  She maintained that even though I was an accident, I was important in her life; I was the baby, the favorite.

I started drinking.  It was the summer before high school.  My friend and I, in the school yard with every 13 year olds drink of choice at the time, Baby Duck.

From there I went to vodka because I had heard it didn't smell on your breath.  I have no idea where or how I got it but there was usually a mickey hidden somewhere in my room.  I never got drunk but had a swig here and there to relax.  Thank god I don't have an addictive personality.

I was 14 years old when my father was diagnosed with cancer, my second year of high school.  Not a day passed that I wasn't asked how he was doing.  Sometimes the principal would conduct a prayer for him over the loud speaker for the whole school to hear.  I could no longer hide behind my jokes.  Everybody knew who I was, the youngest daughter of the dead man walking.

The question was, when would it happen.  It took years of chemo, surgeries, sickness.  I was the only one still living at home.  Through my teen years I watched my father go from a strong, jovial being to an angry man to a sad shell, not able to care for himself.  My father was gone.

The night the call came to announce his death, I cried, I was sad but relieved, for him.  I was 20 years old, an adult.  I still felt like I didn't belong.

It took me a long time to get on with it but here I am in mid life.  Happy to be alive, issues and all.

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