It’s a strange thing we do. We allow people with whom we share DNA treat us in ways we would never allow any one else to treat us.

I had a difficult childhood. My dad’s form of disciplin was corporal punishment. As I got older and bigger, the punishments got harsher and more violent. I’ve been thrown, pushed, punched, and kicked al inside my home before I was 16.

When I turned 16 and had a car, I ran away. I was brought home by the police who said unless I filed formal charges and went into Foster care, I had to live under my parents roof until I was 18.

When I was 17, I came home late. I had a typical teen angst filled day. I don’t excuse my behavior at all. I had a fight with my boyfriend, I was upset. Instead of coming home and then going to work, I stayed out. I came home around 9pm. I knew I was in trouble. I fully expected it. When I walked in the house I said “I’m sorry, I know I was wrong”. Before I could say anything else I was knocked across the room and my dad was on top of me pinning me to the floor. I had no idea what was going to happen next. The friend who brought me home yelled and made a move towards my dad. That distracted him long enough for me to get up. I ran. I ran as far as I could until I finally hopped in a car and had them take me to my friends house where I called the police and filed assault charges. That’s when things went downhill.

I was put into a foster home. Now, I know there are great foster homes out there, but I wasn’t so lucky. The home they placed me in had lots of troubled kids. Kids that had been sexually abused, kids that had been through far worse than I had. There was no privacy. The took the door off the bathroom and replaced it with a shower curtain. I had nothing but the clothes on my back and had to go to school in the same clothing everyday for a week until I could get more clothes. I stayed there for a month before I was able to go live with an aunt.

That wasn’t much better. I had privacy at least, but my cousin had his own set of problems. He has since been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but back then we didn’t know what was wrong. He was violent and the object of his rage was me. I had taken attention away from him. I was trying to “steal his family”.

Meanwhile the charges against my dad were going befroe a judge. My dad was ableto convice the judge that I was an out of control teenager and he was just doing what he had to do to keep me in line. The charges were dropped and I was ordered into therapy.

I hated therapy. I think I managed 2 sessions before I said that was enough. It was all centered on making me a better daughter. No one wanted to acknowledge that the things my dad did were wrong. I mean, a judge had vindicated him, told him he was doing everything right.

The violence at my aunt’s house was too much to bear, and I couldn’t stomach going back to a foster home so I finally went back to my parents home. I was close to 18 anyway.

Soon after I turned 18, I moved out. I worked my ass off.  I held a full time and part time job and rented a house with a friend.  I didn’t have time for much more than work, but I managed to find a boyfriend. He was troubled, but he treated me well enough. As well as I figured I deserved anyway. It wasn’t long before I was pregnant. I had just turned 19. THings quickly disinigrated between us. He no longer treated me well. In fact he threatened to kill me if I didn’t have an abortion. I ended up back in my parents home. They had no idea I was pregnant and I couldn’t tell them. I was very afraid.

When I was 7 mths pregnant, I ended up in the hospital with pre-term labor. No one knew I was there. I was supposed to be at work. I was scared and alone. I was put on strict bed rest and finally had to tell my parents I was pregnant. Very pregnant. Right under their nose and they hadn’t seen it.

My son was born, healthy, at term just before I turned 20. I decided to go to school and try to get my life in order. There I met my husband. We dated, moved in together, got married and went on to have 2 more children. We’re coming up on 11 years married in Feb. IT’s been a long road to get here, but I’m here.

All that I went through with my parents growing up and they still had this hold over me. I wanted nothing more than my dad to be proud of me and love me. I felt like if I did just a little more he would be. I never got that while he was alive. However, I let go of it. I let go of the girl that wanted her daddy’s approval. I wouldn’t say I forgave him, because I can’t forgive someone who doesn’t think they did anything wrong.  I know that he believed I was his to do with what he wanted. I was his daughter. His property. I can’t forgive that. But, I let it all go. I knew he would never change and I would never have the relationship with him that I dreamed about, so I let it go. I let go of the dream, and didn’t let what I went through define me as a person. I stopped wearing it like a badge of honor. there is no honor in being a victim.

It was after he died that I found out that he told everyone how proud he was of me and that he thought I was an amazing mother.

Now however, I’m dealing with the aftermath of his death. I knew this would be hard. I knew I would be the one left to look after my mother, but I didn’t anticipate the anger and hatred that would be thrown at me by my brother. He has it in his head that he can treat me like shit and I will act accordingly. He’s 4 years younger than me, so growing up, he learned that treating me like shit was normal. It’s what we did. He still thinks of me as that girl and thinks he can hurl insults at me and I will just be grateful that he spoke to me at all. Things have changed though, and I’m not that girl anymore. I would never allow anyone to speak to me the way he has, there is no reason to allow it from him simply because we share DNA.

Now, I’m “ruining Christmas”, the “last one I’ll be here for” because I wont go to my mom’s house the same day he will be there. I told her to let me know if he was taking Christmas eve or Christmas day and I’d take the other, but I was not going to be in the house with him.  She asked me to put aside my differences for one day. This is the woman who kicked HER brother out of my dad’s funeral. She couldn’t put her differences aside for one day, but I’m supposed to.

I wont. I can’t. DNA is not a license to abuse. It stops here.