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It Shaped Me Into Who I Am

I sincerely hate looking back on my childhood, but as much as I hate it, it shaped me into who I am now.

My earliest memories are of visiting my older brother in the hospital after he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He was 10. I was 3. My mother had to stay with him, so she was gone for months. I only got to see her when I visited him. My father was an alcoholic so I couldn't stay with him. My grandmother stayed with us for a while, but she didn't like me because she believed that I was a product of an affair. (I wasn't) so eventually I went to stay with my other grandparents out of state.

When my brother went into remission at 12, it was a very happy day for our family, but the joy was short lived of course. When my mother came home my father's drinking escalated and so did the abuse. My brother and I would hide behind their door and listen as he slammed her head into the wall. One time we intervened and he left and didn't come back for days. I learned later in life that he had attempted suicide that night.

Then my brother's cancer came back. He went through chemo all over again, but it was short lived, he fell into remission fairly quickly. I remember hiding in my stuffed animals when my father started yelling because I didn't want to hear my mother cry. I remember finding the knife she hid under the mattress for protection. I remember watching her hide the bruises, but everyone knew already. None of my friends were ever allowed to stay over because their parents knew about him.

Then when I was 8, it was a late night in April. I was in bed when the yelling started again. I wanted to stop it but I was afraid daddy would leave again, so I just listened. My mom was screaming and crying. My brother was begging my dad to listen. I just covered my ears and prayed for it to stop. When I awoke the house was cold and silent except for free bird playing softly from the radio in the living room. That was my dads favorite song so I thought he was awake. I crept into the living room, and my dad was upright, stoic on the couch with his eyes wide open. I went up to him to hug him and he was cold. He still clutched his drink in his hand. My mother walked in then and shrieked. My brother grabbed me and took me in my room while my mother did CPR. It was no use. He had downed a bottle of pills and a bottle of whiskey. His heart stopped. He was gone.

I've spent my whole life trying to forget that day. The rest of my memories after that are a blur. I just remember being the kid everyone always looked at with sorrow. Our family didn't recover well until my step father came around. He is the only person I consider to be my dad.

When I think back, I want to throw up, but I know now that all that shaped me into the strong, independent woman I am. It showed me how valuable my life is, and to never take it for granted.
Etceteras Etceteras 18-21, F Jan 6, 2013

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