My family, who hid any sign of emotion, never explained to Jennifer that I wasn't a threat. All she knew was that whatever little love and attention she usually got on her birthday wasn't going to happen that day, and she has stayed angry and envious ever since. I felt cared for in my family, but I never felt safe. As a baby, I never learned to crawl. I scooted. There are home movies of me scooting, but none of me crawling. Experts say that this is a sign of fear. I also used to stick my finger in my ear, and my parents were concerned that maybe there was something wrong, but there wasn't. I guess it was just a comfort thing. Comfort and safety were two things I never really sensed when I was growing up. I think this lack of warmth and affection is the spine of a lot of issues that I still carry with me today.
Outside the home, of course, was a different story. Classic America. We lived about two miles from downtown Leavenworth, down a barely paved road packed with houses full of children. There were open fields and always something to do. Kickball. Baseball. So it looked perfectly normal. Except for the prisons. The Federal Penitentiary. The Kansas State Penitentiary for Men. The Kansas State Penitentiary for Women. And the Army Penitentiary. All of which were the main industry for the town. My best friend's dad was a guard at the prison. He used to walk to work. So it never seemed like anything out of the ordinary. Not at the time. The Federal Penitentiary had a dome, so it always looked like the Capitol Building as far as I was concerned. And I thought that every town had one.
As I got older, Jennifer got angrier and more physical. She used to torment me by hiding in the closet, or under my bed, and there was always this awkward silence just before she would jump out and scare me half to death. I knew she was hiding there and I'd just stand in the middle of the room and wait. Wait for her to scare me. To this day, I still can get frightened if someone hides and tries to scare me, even if it's just in fun. It was very manipulative and controlling behavior-two traits that today I find so attractive in other women, especially women I am romantically involved with.
When I was around six years old, things started to change with Jennifer. She began to want things from me. Things I was uncomfortable with. I know that all kids experiment and play doctor and that might have been all Jennifer thought it was, but it sure wasn't that to me. At night, in the bedroom of our home, she would be gentle with me, talking sweetly to me, which was curious in itself. She would tell me what to do and I would follow her directions. I would do as she asked. I knew that touching her was wrong and I knew that it was something that would never be talked about. Not in our family. I felt tremendous shame, though I didn't know what to call it at the time.