From the June 2015 magazine.

The Opera Singer

She left the stage and hid in the bottle. Now she faces the music and sings a new tune

My childhood was filled with chaos, addiction and very sick love. My dad came from a violent home and he tried to be the best dad he could be, I know that. But he would beat my sister and brother. My mom, bless her soul, was one of us. I remember hearing early in life that alcohol was her “medicine.” My dad quit drinking after a while but remained a dry drunk. My mom continued drinking, and even though she went to a drying-out program, she still denied that she was an alcoholic until the day she died. Both of my parents have since passed. I learned early to be the “perfect” one. I walled off my feelings and used denial to ignore or forget what was going on around me. Today I deal with PTSD.

My eldest sister was a hippie who became an exotic dancer in Las Vegas, with a son and a troubled marriage. She took her child and lived her life “on the run” in England. My brother suffered from mental illness. Today he lives in a care home in another state. I visit him often and buy him clothes, take him to the movies and try to maintain our relationship. My youngest sister lives out of state too. We actually lived in the same town for a while. I bought a house to be close to her and learned that it wasn’t the miles that separated us. I’m 10 years older than her and our lives and childhood memories are so different. We hardly communicate any more. I have work to do there.

-- Bonnie L.

Antioch, California

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