My older brother, Scott, who has one of the most beautiful baritone voices I've ever heard, once said, "Sis, can you imagine what we could have been if only we'd had good parents who believed in us and encouraged us?" I had never thought of that but suddenly my mind was filled with visions. Scott, not only has a beautiful voice, he is a talented artist, creating out of desert materials art works that tell a story, especially with the name of the art work written into it. From rocks, cactus, tree branches, flowers and anything else that he finds in the desert he brings to life creatures who live in a planet of their own. One time he visited Tom and I and we went for a walk in the State Trust Land behind our house. We live in high desert country and Scott lives in low desert country. As we walked along the path he kept disappearing only to reappear with his arms loaded with tree parts, cactus part, stones and anything else he found fascinating. His face had the look of a young boy holding all of his Christmas presents. He dragged them all back to the house and spent the rest of his trip creating art work none of which he could bring home as he had taken the bus up to our house. It didn't matter. To Scott it was the discovery and the creation that mattered.
Scott has a male friend who belong to a Barbershop Quarter that tours the world giving performances in all the major cities. They want Scott to join their group. He keeps saying no but won't tell me why. And he's right. With encouragement and healthy parenting Scott might have become a famous singer or maybe an artist who creates artwork out of desert materials. Our brother Brian is a talented artist. He especially draws horses. A few years ago, he drew the head of a horse, colored it, framed it and mailed it to Tom. Tom loves that drawing. I can remember being in the sixth grade and living in a house that had a blackboard in the kitchen. I came into the room one day and saw a drawing of a naked lady on the blackboard. It was a perfect drawing, all of the body parts beautifully proportioned.When Brian came into the room he asked me what I thought of it. "It's beautiful Brian. You can really draw good but you better get it off the blackboard before Mom or Dad come home or you'll get a beating." Brian agreed and quickly erased it. My sister, Gretchen has a lovely contralto voice but all she's ever done with it is sing at Karaoke bars hoping one day to be discovered.
One of my parent's bit of philosophy was if you believed in yourself you were arrogant. If you thought you had done something exceptionally well you were punished for being self-centered. There was no praise forth coming about anything but they made sure lots of criticisms were administered. Once when I had finally completed one of my weekend chores, ironing six white long sleeved shirts for my dad, he came in, picked up the first one, looked it over, then crushed it into a ball and threw it back in the ironing basket. He picked up the second one. Same thing. One by one he inspected each perfectly ironed shirt, crushed it into wrinkles and threw it in the basket. Then he said, "Do them over." I was in tears. It had taken me three hours to complete the shirts.
Our children are our jewels. They must be treated with love, with kindness and with encouragement. Growing up is a tough job and they can't do it alone. What they really can't do is grow up into a mature adult if they are being abused. Emotional growth stops at the time your abuse started. I was thirteen until I was 45. Then I entered recovery and as each year of my recovery passed I felt myself becoming 14, then 15, then 16. Today I feel like I'm in my early 40s. That's a choice I made and it delights me that today I can make my own choices. Today I can write a poem, read it and think to myself, "Damn I'm good." When I was three years old I decided I wanted to be a writer. At the age of 13 I wrote my first poem. When I was 15 I was working on a novel (no idea what happened to it). Over the years I wrote many poems (I later called them my Inner Voices), then I wrote a mystery novel called WHEN FIRST WE PRACTICE TO DECEIVE. I had no idea what I was going to do with it but I was glad I could do it. Then I wrote LET ME HURT YOU AND DON'T CRY OUT while I was in recovery. It was the story of the journey I was on. Now, several years later I've written 15 books, 5 fiction and 10 non fiction. I've sold four. But I went into recovery, removed all the old negative messages, created new healthy messages, went back into my childhood and removed all of the pain. I emerged a new person, one with my own rhythm back, that rhythm that I was meant to be before the abuse started.
My oldest brother Brian, draws and paints. He paints horses and motorcycles and cars and landscape. No one ever sees any of them but he knows he can do it. He is 72 years old and I'm amazed that, as a recovering alcoholic, he is still alive. My brother Scott periodically creates desert artwork for his own pleasure. He sings in two church choirs and stops people in stores and on the street and asks them what their favorite song is. Then he sings it for them. Both of them have told me that they don't remember anything from their childhood and they don't want to. I'm not sure if my sister does Karaoke anymore. She has my Dad on a pedestal and I'm sure would love to call him St. Bernard.
One of my favorite poems is "Maude Muller" written by John Greenleaf Whitter. The lines that affect me most are:
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are these: 'It might have been'."