When visiting with my grandmother, I thought it very strange that she spoke so blithely about our real father as a likable human being (he was simply not referred to as such in my house). She would sometimes say that I was just like my father and laugh as if he were a pleasant memory. Of course, she never knew what was really going on in our house.

The stories that our grandmother would tell about our real father were not congruent with our mothers stories, so we had to dismiss them from our forward thoughts. However pleasant our grandmothers stories were, we didnt live with our grandmother, so they were not useful to our safety.

Pleasant he may have been, but that pleasure was not ours to have. Our life was for punishment. The mere mention of our real father would send the heart racing in mind-numbing anxiety, muscles tensed to rock-hard stiffness; the splitting headaches and ill stomach those moments would cause! Such topics can only lead to trouble.

Anything good from our real father, from other family members, from my teachers was an undeserved pleasure. Something was wrong with me in my inability to behave in a manner they wanted... in a manner which my deepest, unreachable being rejected. I could not control it within myself, hence the constant damaging conflict.

Later in life, other peoples definition of family baffled me. To me, parenthood was just a political structure of forceful dominance over others; and for children, it was striving for ways to sneak under the radar for their own grasp of self and safety. Even today, I tiptoe about quietly even when no one is around to even notice. That was life. Others had different definitions, which never fit with the reality of our home life.

Every school child has done the celery experiment. Stand a stalk of celery in a beaker of colored water and the next day its leaves, stalk and veins are colored. Take it out of the water and the plant is still polluted in red from the inside out until it dries up and dies. I've yet to find a personal endeavor which has not been polluted by my past. I may have left a bad situation, but it has not left me and it fights tooth and nail to keep its cozy residence. And even if it did leave, where does that leave me? An infant all over again... needing to learn everything completely anew. As much as it may want to, how does a red celery stalk, all of a sudden, live as a green celery stalk?