|Look! It's me in the closet!!|
I have 8 siblings, but most of them were grown and out of the house by the time I came around. My father is 15 years older than my mother and they were divorced before I was one.
My time at my mother and my step father's house was normal and suburban. I watched cartoons and ate cereal and was endlessly fascinated by dolls with Shay. My brother Steven, who is closest to my age, would torment me. I ate processed foods and jumped on the trampoline. I was allowed a lot of freedom.
My time with my dad was...my dad is very old fashioned. At his house, we worked. We took care of horses and planted things and irrigated fields.The only television we watched was 'Nature' and 'The Red Green Show' on PBS. I spent a lot of time alone, hiding from working and pretending to be a magical Native American princess with a husband named Squanto. In the evening my dad would listen to talk radio, complain about Clinton, drink peppermint tea and read with me. He hates fiction, so it was always something quasi historical and dealing with cowboys or sled dogs. He took me fishing a lot. I never liked it, but I knew he liked it and I wanted to make him happy. We spent time in Wyoming where he has a cabin and the entire front wall of his living room is covered in various mounted animals. The living room couch is where I slept and I could never decided if I found the animals comforting or unsettling. He made me take vitamins. I never knew how to talk to my dad. I knew he wouldn't like who I was, so I let him believe I was whoever he wanted me to be. We went to rodeos and I wore cowboy hats. He spoiled me with toys and trips to Disneyland. He told me I was his best friend. He hated it when I painted my nails. When I was 14, he took my razor out of my suitcase on a trip to California because he said that shaving your legs was for old married women who didn't want to scratch their husband's legs in bed. He didn't want me to get my ears pierced until I was 18. When he found out I was reading Harry Potter, he lectured me about how it was 'of the devil' and told me I shouldn't be reading stories about children disobeying their guardians. As I became a teenager, he began to complain about my weight. I have always been chubby. I told him that my doctor said I wasn't overweight and he told me my doctor was just telling me what I wanted to hear. In high school, the only thing he ever asked about was my grades and my health. I knew he loved me, but I was always scared of his judgement. I had to put myself in a certain head space to be around him. I grew up longing to be someone else who felt beautiful and normal, who never had to deal with horse manure or eating elk meat sandwiches at a theme park. I yearned to have a good relationship with him, but he tortured me and I tortured myself. I was lonely and felt unable to be related to. I didn't feel human. I couldn't connect to anything.
Several months ago, I went to visit him and he put in a video he had taken of me when I was around five or six. It was disturbing and a little bit like watching a bad indie movie. My dad has always been pretty terrible with electronics, so the tape skipped around to several different activities. It's me pulling a fish out of the water, then it's a river, then me jumping up and down in the living room to a folk-y children's song, then it's me on a carnival ride boat, completely alone while it slowly goes in circles, then it's a rodeo clown yelling at the crowd, then it's me on a swing, then it's me being scared of a fish I just caught while my dad chastises me, then it's a close up of my dad's jeans and then my curly blonde hair and then it's back to the rodeo where a man's leg is caught on a saddle of a running horse. This end scene was the most upsetting in juxtaposition with my childhood. The man had mostly fallen off the horse and was being dragged and trampled on while people ran into the arena and tried to stop the horse. I don't know what happened to the him. I had a vague memory of that night, but my memory was so tame compared to what had actually happened and that scares me.