Sunday, January 22, 2012

Too Young to Know Part III

Sexually charged by age 5, I played doctor with most of my friends. We put objects in our sexual orifices. I looked at pin-up pictures of women and was aroused. It all felt normal to me to be curious about the private parts of girls and boys. I was caught kissing a boy in kindergarten and was publicly shamed by my teacher in front of my classmates.

I had no conscious knowledge of what was taking place in my own home to destroy my innocence !

Our home was a tiny old 600 SF beach cottage with two small bedrooms and one bathroom with a claw-foot tub and pedestal sink. The few furnishings we had were old and the kitchen curtains were torn. No one else had these worn relics in their home thus I felt poor. I hated to bring my friends home because I thought my father would walk in anytime and embarrass me in his drunkenness.

Because of his alcoholism, dad couldn't keep a job. He worked odd hours and came home during the afternoon, making my life miserable with his intimidation. I stayed outside as long as I could until mom arrived home from her full-time job, trying to support the six of us.

To help out, my older brother had a paper route and did yard work. At times we had no hot water, electricity or food. Our church often left paper grocery bags on our front porch. When we visited my mom's relatives they gave us crates of avocados and tangerines. When my father did bring home food he boasted about what a great cook he was and repeatedly told us that mom couldn't make toast. He frequently fished in the ocean across the street and traded some of it for treasures like abalone and lobster. Feast or famine !

During dinner dad intimidated all of us. We weren't allowed to talk at the dinner table. His philosophy of "divide and conquer" worked well to keep us separate and distrustful of our siblings. My mother never said anything and kept distant and uninterested in me. I continued to have fits of rage and fought him, though it only isolated me more from the rest of my family.

At school I felt inferior to everyone around me because I had very few changes of clothes; when I had no shoes to begin second grade I had to wear flip-flops. The only reason I had any nice clothes was because my older sister got a job at a local bakery and bought things for me with her meager income. My feelings of inferiority motivated me to compete in every aspect of my life.

My musical abilities helped give me a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem; I was the vocal soloist at school and church. At age 9 my mom paid for me to take piano lessons for $3/week; I rode my bike to my piano teacher's home and easily all aspects of the piano. Mr. Diano was a jazz pianist at a local bar. I often had a queasy feeling being in his home though he never did or said anything inappropriate. One day when I arrived, Jo Ann Castle, a talented TV pianist frequenting The Lawrence Welk Show was visiting him. Mr. Diano told her that I was his best student; he asked me to play a piano piece for her, She was delighted and encouraged me. Her support was greatly needed and appreciated. My musical confidence escalated; I continued piano lessons through college.

Next, early puberty . . . . .


  1. I hear some similarities in our childhoods except that school and books were my escape instead of music and the piano. My dad was the 3rd oldest of 13 kids. His dad was an alcoholic that I grew up around. On weekends my grandfather became a mean alcoholic. By my teens, my dad was following and becoming an alcoholic too. My clothes were always hand-me-downs from my dad's 4 youngest sisters. I grew up in tenny shoes even through the Winter months because they were the cheapest shoes you could buy other than flip-flops. I remember in my early years not having electricity in one of the places we lived. We never had running water or an indoor bathroom in the houses that I grew up in.

  2. Wow ! Yes, the similarities are amazing and comforting to me. I was never alone in my suffering and feeling alienated and misunderstood. I often went to the local library and escaped in a Nancy Drew mystery or a biography of Helen Keller, etc. Curiosity helped fill a huge hole in my heart. I loved to build life size homes in the sand at the beach by our home or design clothing for my paper dolls.
    It is so wonderful that we had all these abilities which kept us positive inspite of the trauma. Thank you again for sharing your story. We really are sisters of the heart :)

  3. In my recent blog post, I shared some link love with you. Hope it brings some new readers to your blog. We are not alone. It helps to know that.