The suffering three-year-old, Eileen (my birth name) wanted to be safe, didn't want to be terrorized by her drunken, raging father anymore.
The answer came in a gift.
I heard music and went to the old upright piano in our tiny living room. I began to play a song by ear. My voice opened up and I sang like an angel !
Not only could I sing but I began to stand up against the raging lion in our home. When he came in during the night and began fighting with my mom, I found new courage in my heart. I tried to protect her even though I was so small.
Because I fought back verbally and physically I acquired the name of "brat" by my mom, and "pest" by my older sister and brother.
Nothing deterred me from speaking out; a new level of hatred brewed in my heart. I wanted my dad removed from our lives.
My prayers and wishes didn't change this frightening environment.
In its place I received another gift.
Learning to read in a week at age four, I sailed above all my classmates in school. My teachers adored me and I them. Because everything came easily and quickly I was easily bored, hence given all errands to keep me occupied. I often stayed after school, calculating huge math problems on the green board in my classroom.
I found freedom and a safe haven at the beach and bay that encircled our little town; I felt safer outside than I ever felt in my home.
My energy level produced another gift, athletic ability; none in the school could outrun or outplay me at any game.
The dark side was my competitive and extremely volatile personality that clashed with my closest friends as I often fought with them to confirm my superiority.
At home I threw huge tantrums and often beat my head on the wall trying to get my mother to show interest in me. She was annoyed and walked away; our only connection was a prayer before bedtime.
My only respite was washing dishes because I was left alone unless I didn't scrub the wrought iron skillet good enough after a fried chicken dinner. Then the monster bullied me as I seethed in silence.
I was living two lives by age 5; the pretty little green-eyed blond with the cheerful personality who could do anything; and the tortured, angry child trying to change my mom's decision to stay with my dad.
When I went to the little church right across from our home, I was praised for my angelic behavior and musical talent. There I won all contests for most Bible verses memorized and received positive attention from the teachers.
My life was already a complex dichotomy.
More to come . . .