Life is Grand, Yet Underneath . . .

My love for Colorado grew with every hike I took along the trails through her mountains. I took one flight back to Ohio for Christmas and afterward had nightmares about being stuck there, unable to return to the west, to the mountains I had learned to love. To that amazing cerulean blue sky, the clear air, the wind in the pines, the open spaces where nothing is heard but the call of a jay or hawk. One summer I spent every weekend hiking in the mountains, nearly every weekend backpacking.

Camp high in the Rocky Mountains below a snowfield at treelike.
Camp in Rocky Mountains

In 1972 saw John Denver in concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater; these were Rocky Mountain High years. I felt that song in my bones and sang it with friends around a campfire high in the Rockies. It may sound corny now, but the words were true. I started smoking pot while in Colorado, and there is nothing like it a mile high, or higher in the mountains with good friends after a long day’s hike. Or in the desert.

I discovered Utah desert and canyon country these years, too, and was with dear friends on a backpack in Arches National Monument in August during the Perseids Meteor Shower. Not a one of us knew the meteor shower was happening that night. I don’t recall who first left the camp fire to look at the stars. We were all pretty high . . . and . . . Hey Chicken Little, the sky is falling! What a trip! That clear desert air, our camp fire lighting up Dark Angel monument and the falling meteors. What a memory.

Plus the magic of New Mexico. We tripped Utah and New Mexico for early spring and late fall when the mountains were socked in with snow. “We” included my husband at the time, who was game for all this hiking and backpacking, but I don’t think he loved it as I did. He had a bad back, a wound from Viet Nam, which made it difficult to sleep on the ground, but, as I said, he was game. Backpacks in those days were not as comfortable as they are now, and I had constant bruises around my hips from the belt. 

Me and my backpack hiking along the Rio Grande River through dried willows toward Alamo Canyon in the background
Hiking along the Rio Grande River toward Alamo Canyon in the background.

Bandelier was our New Mexico haven. Think of a spread hand, pine-covered highlands the palm, canyons between the fingers, the Rio Grande River runs across the tips of the fingers, and you have Bandelier. I have hiked along the river and into the tips of the canyons as well as across the middle of the canyons and into the bottoms of three of them. I have also approached the canyons from the palm. In the last five years a good deal of Bandelier has been burned in fires. The beautiful southern-most canyon, Frijoles, has water and a waterfall year round.  

The next canyon also had a spring and water if one knew where to find it. I camped there years ago with a good friend and listened to the echoing call of a mourning dove in the early evening across the head of the canyon.

Our camp site among the pines in Alamo Canyon
Camp in Alamo Canyon

In the third canyon over is Painted Cave with numerous pictographs. Hopefully, they are still there and haven’t been ruined like so many others.

To get to New Mexico, one must pass by southern Colorado, and that’s where my favorite Colorado mountains reside—the San Juans. Someone labeled them the Switzerland of America. They are younger, wetter, and steeper than the Rockies. This means these mountains are more difficult to hike, but the rewards are greater: more waterfalls, streams, wildflowers, steeper, closer peaks, grander vistas. Plus, more four-wheel drive trails because these mountains were full of silver and the miners left roads in the most unbelievable places. You can rent jeeps locally, and we also had good friends who loaned us their Toyota Land Cruiser that outdid the jeeps we met on the worst trails. Sorry, jeep lovers, but that’s the truth.

The problem with a four-wheel drive is often it will get you further than you should go. My hubby, Clem, being the passenger, kept at me, “Go, go, go,” and up, up, up, we went through the trees on this terrible rocky trail that got smaller and smaller and steeper and steeper till I couldn’t see past the front hood . . . “Go, go, go,” I finally had the sense to stop. Thank, God, because “go” had us perched on the edge of a ten-foot cliff! 

I don’t care for going into nowhere, thank you.

So, the Cruiser would get us to trailheads even farther into the mountains. But so would the narrow gauge railway.

You could get a special ticket to Silverton, ride the boxcar, get off halfway and take a trail to one of the fourteeners. We did this with another couple and it rained the entire hike up the canyon. Most exciting, you could hear   rock slides and boulders falling in the rain on the other, steeper side of the creek but couldn’t see them through the trees. We finally reached the upper canyon where it opened into a valley and pitched our tents (still raining). How fine and cozy to heat up hot ramen on our little stove and cuddle into a warm, dry sleeping bag with the sound of the rain popping on the rain fly above us. Later, after it stopped, a critter ran over the top of our tent. There’s nothing so cozy as sleeping out in the fresh air in a warm, fluffy, bag. We carried extra padding to sleep on—it’s worth the additional weight.

Our friends hiked out the next morning. They were younger than us but couldn’t handle the weather; though it had stopped raining. The sun came out and we hiked to the top of the pass and watched clouds pass by the peaks. Seemed like nobody in the world but the two of us and a few critters—whistling pikas and marmots mostly. Take deep breaths. Glorious.

The next day we hiked out and caught the train to Silverton where we stayed in the old hotel, had a shower and a cooked meal in a restaurant. Gee, life is hard. Another Colorado memory to savor.

These years gave me many opportunities for risk-taking, for facing my fears. I recall one in particular, a leap from one low boulder to another higher one, where—if I fell a broken leg would be the least I could expect. “Don’t think about it too long or you’ll lose your nerve; just do it.” I did, and the ensuing high was tremendous. The three fellows I was with seemed to think nothing of the rock climb, but the other woman with us was left behind at that point. This was typical for me—having to “keep up with the boys.” Also, never letting show how sometimes difficult it was doing so.

Climbing at Red Rocks Amphitheater was eventually closed, for too many people were injured doing so. It is a shame how people are allowed to sue for everything in this country. We need to be responsible for our own actions and not expect others to be responsible for us.

In the main, these were good, exploratory years, but getting married had been a mistake. Clem was a good guy, but he was not the man for me. I was depressed and the migraines were worse, but it was years before I admitted to myself why I was so unhappy. 

We bought an old house in town to refurbish. I sewed clothes, grew a garden, canned tomatoes, cooked, painted, smoked more pot.  

Clem and I at our little fire below one lonely tree with our blue tent under the full moon at White Sands, New Mexico.
Clem and I camping in the full moon at White Sands, New Mexico.d

We moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, hoping a change of scenery might help. My folks visited us along with my Uncle George and Aunt Betty. I recall clearly when they were at our house and Dad, once again, made one of his usual cutting remarks to my mom. I stood in the doorway, heart beating furiously, and let it happen. In my house. How many times since I wish I would have said something. In my mind I’ve gone over and over what I would have said if I could. But I did not. He still had such a hold over me.

Some time later, months? I don’t recall. A phone call from him. His voice, low, soft. “Will you forgive me?” Nothing else, not about what. I could say nothing. But I felt pressure, pressure to forgive. Maybe I said, “Mmm,” but I don’t recall.

We were still in New Mexico when I received a call from Ohio telling me Dad had died from a heart attack. 

I flew back to Ohio to help Mom bury him and face the relatives.  

The Value in All Things

Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you think and neither does WordPress and this blog.

I thought I hit the Publish button on this post weeks ago. This is what I get for trying to keep too many new “balls” in the air at the same time. Therefore, time wise, I am a little out of order here, so I hope my estimable, loyal readers will accept my humble apologies.

Despite what happened to me, in the next few years I learned I was fortunate in so many ways.

Whatever success I gained was due to Mom’s loving support and instruction, an open, inquiring mind from reading, and several excellent teachers. I cannot say enough about responsible parenting, good teachers and reading. By loving support I don’t mean letting children do whatever they please. Responsible parenting is teaching children to be responsible for their actions—that every action has a consequence—good and bad. I believe children need to learn the value in all things—from their toys to the money they earn to the family pet.

By having so much less, I valued what I had so much more, and I felt strong when later I earned what I had.

I must admit that the persistence I acquired, and not merely the willingness, but the motivation, to take risks was also partially due to the difficult circumstances in which I grew up, to having to deal with my dad. 

Not only did we have little money, but Dad was anti-social concerning our family. The only socializing we did was with his relatives and a few times with the local volunteer fire department after he became chief. He was adept at presenting himself as a positive role model to others. Except for Mom’s job, we were entirely cut off. At nearly eighteen, I not only had no car, but had never learned to drive, and I needed a job. 

Mary’s folks came through for me. Her father was a manager at Babcock & Wilcox in Barberton, a town nearby.

He recommended me for their secretarial pool and I could ride to work with him. I was grateful for the opportunity.

My excellent typing and decent shorthand skills quickly passed me through B&W’s secretarial pool and into a position as secretary to the Manager of Systems and Procedures. This was the first of a series of job situations that repeated throughout my working career: I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new, but once I knew the job well and it became routine, I became bored. Plus, the Systems and Procedures offices were in the basement. I rose in the dark, never saw the light of day and came home after dark. For a person who loved nature and being outside, this was a nightmare.

The most exciting day was when my boss tossed what he thought was his finished unlit cigar into his metal trash can and the trash caught on fire. Three men running around trying to find the nearest fire extinguisher! I calmly took my trash can and dropped it into the one on fire, smothering it. Silly little female secretary.

I paid Mom and Dad rent while I worked and life was better in the summer, especially weekends.

For the first time I had a little money for clothes and kept a tight budget for everything in a spiral-bound secretarial notebook. I used this method for years. Under budgeted “Entertainment” was music and movies. Sometimes I could get Dad to take me and Mary or me and Natalie to the bus stop and pick us up in Akron after lunch, shopping, or a movie, and we had better not be late. Ever since, I have been an anxious stickler for being on time. We went to the Palace or the Loews Theatre for movies. I dare say: They don’t make theaters like this any more—like entering a beautiful castle with fancy gold coving, ornamental moulding and heavy red curtains.

Loews Theatre, now known as Akron Civic Theatre

Mary and I often bought a few pieces of chocolate at the Fanny Farmer store nearby to take into the movie with us. We even tried chocolate-covered ants from the Polsky’s department store on Main. We saw Mary Poppins, 2001, and a terrible science fiction film. The last was so amateur I recall seeing the zippers on the back of the aliens’ costumes! 

Our favorite lunch was the Tea House Inn, and a couple times the summer after I began college Mom joined us. We three loved Chinese food and the delicious oolong tea they made in a huge pot. That tea got us gabbing away like crazy. 

“Shall I pour again?” 

“Yes, please.”

“When did you start smoking?”

“A few months ago, in school.”

“I wondered. I saw the hole in your sheet.”

“Smoking keeps me awake when I’m studying.”

“You shouldn’t smoke in bed.”

“I know.”

I was buying a pack at the store across the street from campus when I saw a newspaper headline that smoking caused cancer. I put the pack back and never bought another. No way was I going to chance something as unimportant as smoking even remotely end all my future plans and experiences, whatever they might be.

It was late summer before I went to Kent that the following happened.

I planned to go to a movie with Natalie. Dad was going to take me to Natalie’s place above her folks’ bar to pick her up, then on to the bus stop, or maybe all the way downtown, I can’t recall. I was late. I couldn’t help but wonder if I hadn’t been late, it might not have happened, but they say it would have been worse.

You may recall I mentioned it was a good thing that Dad wasn’t around when Natalie was at our house because she was so outspoken. It seems she was that way with her stepdad, as well.

I have written the following from the point of view of a character in one of my manuscripts. It was easier to write that way. This is the first time I have written from my point of view.

We pulled up in front of the bar, but there were already two police cars in the parking lot. Dad told me to stay in the car while he got out to talk to the policeman who came out of the bar. I held my hands together and watched him and the policeman. Something bad had happened, but I didn’t know how bad. My heart was pattering. You can actually feel your heart beat at such times. 

Dad got in the car and we pulled away. He didn’t say anything right away, but told me as we drove home. Her mom was there and heard everything. Natalie had argued with her stepdad. He picked up a large knife and stabbed her repeatedly. She was gone.

When we got home I sat on my bed on the top bunk. Took deep breaths and let them out. I had not been as close to Natalie as to Mary, but still. I couldn’t imagine her being gone. I felt bad I hadn’t been closer to her. I was at a loss as to what to do. A few tears came but I didn’t sob. Shouldn’t I feel worse? I imagined how she must have felt when it happened and couldn’t stand that. I sort of went numb. 

Nobody talked about it, except on the news. I didn’t want to discuss it. I went on with my life and my job at B&W. 

I hung in for nearly a year until one night I broke down.

I couldn’t sleep. Mom found me up and sobbing in the middle of the night.

“I can’t stand it,” I said. “I have to go to college. I don’t care if I just start and go for one year. I”ll figure it out, somehow. But I can’t stand my life.” I don’t recall what else I said, but that was the gist of it. She talked to Dad and they would let me save what I earned for school instead of paying them rent as I had been. I applied for a National Defense Teacher’s Loan and got it. I would go to Kent State University because it was a good teacher’s college and it was close enough that Dad could drive me there; and I could afford the first year along with the loan. 

I didn’t mind the job so much when I had a goal—Kent State University in the fall of 1964.

I was thrilled to be in a new environment with new and interesting people, learning new things, living my dream.

I was older than my two roommates in Korb Hall, the freshman dorm. No matter. No matter my English class was pedestrian and huge; I was merely grateful to be there. I was grateful for all of it. 

Korb Hall, today.

I was fortunate to grow up in an area that was all white with all white schools. I say this because no one told me I should fear anyone who was different than me. No one said I should fear or dislike a black or brown or yellow or red person. Consequently, I made up my own mind. I wanted to meet, to get to know everyone and everything that was different from what I grew up with. I read constantly and ached to experience that outside world, including the people. Reading had saved me from becoming insulated—reading and escaping to Kent State.

Kent was an escape from my abusive dad and from the stifling life in which I grew up. The second or third time he brought me home from Kent for a visit we were driving down the highway when he said, “Well, did you get any yet?” 

I wasn’t surprised, merely silent. That same old tight, black feeling—back to that little girl. No words. I could say nothing. Now that I’ve had therapy, there’s so much I would say. Lord, so much.

Here it is: “How can you say that to your daughter? You’re not a father. You’re supposed to protect me, you f*cker! You son-of-a-bitch! What is the matter with you? You sick, sick man!” Whew, I went on longer than that, but I got it out. 

I have no photographs from high school or college. They were all in one album that disappeared in the last move in Tucson—a tough practice in letting go. Those years at Kent were the best years of my life up to that point and I recall those photos better than most taken much later.

I was nineteen years old and for the first time actually began meeting new young people, including boys.

I had my first kiss outside Korb Hall. I recall thinking, “What a disappointment.” I had probably read too much and the guy was a freshman, like me, and a year younger than me. I looked (and probably behaved) much younger than my age.

One roommate I liked, the other cared nothing for being in school except that her boyfriend attended Kent. She lasted one semester before dropping out.

I was ironing my sheets one night in what we called the “fishbowl” because it was in the middle of the floor and all glass on two sides, when it occurred me to wonder why. I was ironing sheets, pillowcases and underwear merely because my mom had. What was the point in wasting my time ironing such things? That was the last time.

I met Dennis through Ski Club, which I joined to learn how to ski and meet people. The first night while hanging onto the tow rope—going up, of all things—I crashed by hitting a rock hidden under the snow. Ending up in the health clinic for a week with a hematoma, my left knee has remained forever weak, which has kept me from downhill skiing, but not from cross-country. 

I don’t know if I would have passed Chemistry without Dennis’s help. Everyone in my Chemistry class was aware the professor was long past retirement. He couldn’t hear and half the time couldn’t remember what he was writing on the board.

Dennis and I played chess in Korb Hall’s  lounge a couple evenings a week. He was a great guy but began talking about love and dating no one else. Though I didn’t want to see him go, I had just begun my new life and wasn’t ready for being more than good kissing friends. 

I look back now and wonder what might have happened, if not for Dad. I would never have become serious, but maybe Dennis and I would have gotten closer. On the other hand, I knew nothing about contraceptives and probably Dennis didn’t either, so maybe our breakup was for the best. Particularly considering what happened later. 

In my quest to get to know all sorts of people I joined Internationals Club. Rather socially naive, I went on a date with an Iranian fellow who took me to an expensive restaurant and dance club in Akron, where I thought we were getting to know one another. Every couple was much older than us, and, wow, could he dance. I have a good sense of rhythm and could follow. People actually backed off to watch us. I expect only wealthy young Iranian men were able to attend college in the U.S. I felt like an uncomfortable Cinderella.

Upon return to campus, I had to be clear that at least this American coed wasn’t about to “put out” for one night on the town. Probably Iranian men were told stories about those wild American women. I never saw him again. To my regret I’ve never met a man who could dance like that again.

I had much better luck making friends with a wonderful young woman from India with whom I worked with part-time. I wish we had kept in touch. 

I applied for off-campus housing for the next year, and the following summer I went back to B&W for a horrible summer job. But it paid decently and I knew I would be going back to Kent in the fall. I also applied for a grant. As long as I kept my grades up I would keep the loan.

Please excuse the cliché, but my sophomore year would be beyond my wildest dreams.

For the Sanity of Our World

What happened to me has happened to many others. We have come a long way in this country but we have a long, long way to go. Lack of equality for women lies at the bottom of many of these problems as it does for African-Americans, latinos, and others. As you will note, my mom had no choice but to put up with my dad, which put my sister and me at risk. This at-risk situation is presently happening to countless children. A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the United States. I believe this is why we have so many “walking wounded” on our streets and why so many resort to guns to solve their problems. I also believe child abuse is why so many get unreasonably angry about not wearing masks. They have been hurt and are still hurting.

Reading over this sounds worse than when it happened. My life appeared nearly normal at the time. You don’t think you are that much different than everyone else. You believe your life is similar to the lives of others. I read this now and think how horrible this man was. Did this truly happen to us? This was my Dad?

There are children whose lives are so much worse and I ache for them. I cry for them. We must help them. We must. If not for the children, for the sanity of our world.

Childhelp

Dad removed us from the last people Mom could trust to help her.

One afternoon our family joined Dot and Vic and our cousins at a veterans’ club where Vic was a member, and I recall having a great time playing on a machine where I slid a disc across a slick board to knock down “bowling pins.” Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Shortly afterward, Dad declared we were not to see Dot and Vic because they “drank too much.” That was the last time we saw our cousins, Sally and Nancy, and I believe it was the last time Mom saw her sister until after Dad’s death many years later.

Mom told me Vic had been captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge and tried to escape several times. He said the Germans were always waiting. Even so, he never liked the Russians because he had seen them strap German prisoners onto the front of their tanks before going into battle. He had seen and experienced a lot during the war. Even so, he was not a drunk. He was elected to a good government job in Akron, and years later after Dad’s death helped my mom. I now believe that Dad waited for my Grandma to pass on before he dared separate Mom and us from the rest of her family. Mom didn’t have the nerve to oppose him.

How could she? During the fifties, she was a woman alone with two children and without a high school degree. She did the next best thing. She got a job as a clerk at the local drugstore at Dietz’s Landing about six miles from where we lived—to help with the bills. She waited until both Diann and I were in school, and at first worked only during the week, but later, worked weekends, as well. She accepted more hours to get away from Dad. They appreciated her there. They didn’t cut her down like Dad. She eventually learned to keep their books and run their computer, something Dad couldn’t do. He became jealous. But that’s another story.

Dietz’s Landing at Portage Lakes, Ohio. The drugstore is across the road to the left.

Our separation from family and friends, Mom’s working, the presence of my dog, Maverick, all occurred within a few years. I don’t recall how old I was when Dad first did what he did, only the occurrence. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. Mom was at work, Diann out playing somewhere. Me and Dad were downstairs in the living room. He got me on his lap, like when we played horsie. Only I was too old for horsie. He spread his legs a little, which spread mine. His fingers were thick. What he did felt good. And horrible. I recall the exact words I thought, “Do Daddies do this”? He said things in a strange voice. I don’t recall what they were, except, “Don’t tell your Mom.” I was old enough to have an orgasm. I shook, my knees and legs shook when he let me down. I went upstairs to our room, my top bunk. Where my stuffed animals were. Hugged them. I had a large panda bear, a pink rabbit named Peter. Others. I got them all around me, wanting someone to tell me I was not a bad person for what had happened. But I was. Mom would know I was bad. Everyone would. So I couldn’t let anyone know, especially Mom. She would be so hurt.

What had happened was sex.

 I knew it from the books I had read and from what kids in the neighborhood joked about. Dad left Playboy magazines lying around the house and I had seen the jokes inside about sex. Sex was dirty which was why people made jokes about it. Unless it was romantic between two people who loved one another.

Sometimes I had heard him and Mom at night and he hurt her; I could tell from the sounds. Years later she told me she nearly died birthing Diann because she wasn’t supposed to have any more children after me. The doctor said she wasn’t made to have children. She lost a little boy between me and Diann. But Dad wouldn’t “leave her alone.” In addition, she was a bleeder, unusual for women.

I “buried my nose” in books more than ever and begged to be taken to Mary’s house for visits.

I felt safe there. Her brother, Jim, collected science fiction stories and Mary and I borrowed them to read. A bookmobile came to our school but we couldn’t borrow books above a particular line for readers our age, even though we had read all the others. I read everything at our house, including Gone With the Wind, though it was supposed to be years too old for me. The drugstore where Mom worked was the only other place we could get books, but, in the 1950s, not much was available besides mystery stories for men. We did manage to pick up a few westerns by people like Zane Gray. Mom had a subscription to Saturday Evening Post which ran a continuing story, and me and Mom would wait with baited breath for it to arrive in the mail. It would be years before I was old enough to take the bus downtown to the library with Mary.

Dad walked around upstairs naked in front of me and Diann, but not when Mom was around.

Mom always wore a nightgown. I wanted to run from him when he was like that, but had to pretend it didn’t bother me like everything else he did. I quickly looked away from that thing that swung between his legs. He gave me the creeps. I feel a little sick writing about it. I cross my arms in front of me when I stop typing.

I couldn’t forever avoid being alone in the house with him.

This thing, sex, with him happened again. Upstairs on their bed. I recall bits and snatches and it scares me how parts of my memory are gone. It’s strange when parts of your memory are cut off. When you know something is there, but it’s gone. I have emotions and see and feel the chenille bedspread and a part of me says, “Are you making this up or did it really happen?” The other part says, “I know it happened, but I don’t want to think any further.” I know there were a number of these occasions with him. I don’t know for sure that any of them went beyond touching.

I do know that I was not a virgin when I had my first intercourse with my boyfriend when I was twenty-two. For years I told myself I lost my virginity from riding my bike or that stick horse. Now I know that was practically impossible.

I began eating more. Food was a comfort, especially if I ate while I read. I gained weight. Perhaps, subconsciously I thought this would turn him away. It didn’t work. 

This situation would have been bad enough if he were a loving father, but I feared and hated him. 

He killed our pets, broke or took what was supposed to be ours, made promises he didn’t keep, invaded our privacy, told Mom she was stupid.  I would go to one of my special places outside or to Maverick and repeat, “I hate him, I hate him, I hate him.” I couldn’t say a word to him, not to his face, no matter what happened.

Now this.

I wish I could recall how much time passed before I finally scared him enough to make it stop.      

Why I Write, A Memoir in Blog Form

This is the beginning of a series about why I write what I write. You could call it a memoir in blog form rather than in a book. One might say it has taken me two weeks to get the nerve to write these words, but in reality it has taken me most of my life—with the help of hours of therapy.

Cormorants at Isla Chimay, Mexico by Karen Lynne Klink

I’m posting this for me and for all those who have been through the same or a similar experience, and I believe there are plenty of you out there. The photos at the top of each post are from my adult adventures. They represent a success story, a survivor’s album, to speak. All the shit I went through as a child was survived by both me and my sister, and my Mom. We got through it. Not without bruises, mind you. Those will remain. Forever. But we have lives with which we are satisfied, even happy. Diann and I are stronger after what we experienced.

Diann paints abstract art, art that expresses emotion. I express myself through writing. 

A few members of my extended family are aware of what I am about to reveal in these posts. Others are not. What I write will be what I recall, my truth, and whatever my sister wishes to add. I will not embellish in any way. 

Much of my childhood I have forgotten. This “forgetfulness” may be subconscious protection, but I don’t know. Diann often recalls instances I do not. Perhaps this is normal.

I don’t believe I ever thanked my ex-husband, with whom I am still friends, for encouraging me to begin therapy. I thank him, now, if he ever reads this. Thank you, Fred, so much. I doubt I would ever have the courage to write this, otherwise.

I am an incest survivor. I, my sister, and my Mom also suffered emotional abuse, until Diann and I escaped the house as adults and Dad died. Mom cried at his funeral and his family thought it was because of his death. She told me it was because of all the wasted years.

I believe and sincerely hope that what was thought of merely as shyness is recognized today by teachers in schools today for what it was when we were in school in the fifties. Afraid of boys and practically unable to socialize among our peers, we were two terrified and abused little girls.

It began when he came home from World War II.

Two Minds: An Adult Woman, A Fearful Little Girl

Apache Junction Sunset, photo by Karen Lynne Klink

This is a difficult post. I came to the conclusion that I was not willing to back my manuscript with $10,000 or more. I am of two minds. One is an adult woman willing and able to take risks. The other is a fearful little girl. They are the product of an incest survivor. It took a few days for me to realize that little girl had to have her say about this entire process.

My angry, depressed dad alienated our family from everyone but his relatives. Yet he presented the picture of a wonderful man to all except us. 

I and my younger sister grew up in a home with a living room and exposed rafters. We wore the same three or four outfits to school all year long. I wore hand-me-downs from my older cousin. We each had one coat that lasted until we outgrew it. Dad purposely ran over my sister’s bike to teach her not to leave it in the driveway. Mom complained to me about her fears that he didn’t pay the bills on time. Yet he found time to help his brother with his house, bought golf clubs, bowling equipment, guns, a stereo, and records.  

When we started school Mom found a job at the local drugstore. I thought to help pay bills, but years later she said it was to get out of the house and be around people who appreciated her. 

He was emotionally abusive to the three of us. We lived a childhood of constant anxiety: Diann stuttered and developed asthma; I got migraines. Mom was a loving, dear, but weak, person, who my sister and I believed we had to protect. Dad took advantage of that when he took advantage of me. “Don’t tell your mom.” I knew what he meant.

Only after years of therapy did I realize she should have protected us. 

I am grown now, but that little girl’s feelings and fears concerning money, security, and trust never go away. The adult in me jumped at the chance to follow my dream of publishing a book I believed in.  A few days later that little girl freaked out. Another couple days and I realized what happened.

I don’t have to give in to fear once I realize the truth. That’s the first step — recognizing the fear and where it comes from. I sat down and checked my finances, found it will not destroy me to lose $15,000, only make my life more difficult. I can handle that. I can reassure my little girl. I have.

I know there are survivors, men and women, like me out there. I hope this and the books I write will help us all. By us I mean not only survivors but all minorities: LGBTQ, blacks, Muslims, Jews, Native Americans, Latinos, immigrants, elders, . . . Who did I leave out? Imagine how strong we would be if we all united!

It’s why I write. That’s my platform.