Isn't it an ironic twist and so very, very Hollywood that I was named Joan. Not so unusual a name, I admit. But that a cute little blonde girl should have as mother dearest a gorgeous, raven-haired madwoman named Christina. What an almost consciously planned twist! If you're not into the old flicks you wouldn't see the irony. The bitter irony of my life.
Those old black and whites held me irresistibly captive, glued to the screen as I was, bewildered that the movie star after whom I was named could be so good and kind on screen (well, if the script called for it) but so different in real life. I'm enough of a realist now, as an adult, not to be swept away by the Sturm und Drang of a fanciful photoplay. Or Hollywood lives. Though the physical pain of the irrational beatings I received as a child is gone, the inner pain has been little eased despite love from caring friends and supportive family members. A good shrink can help.
My sister Joleen, older and, I'll reluctantly admit, wiser, has an outlook I'm simply not able to adopt. Not at this point anyway. She's always been sweet and kindly disposed by nature. After our mother would have one of her characteristic tantrums - volcanic explosions, more aptly - and she and the house were four sheets to the wind, it was Joleen who brought Mommie the wet washcloth and tried to calm us kids down. Dad was at work. That's just it - he was at work. He didn't see the half of what SHE did to Joleen, Toby and me.
My adult's intellect acknowledges that my father had to be gone long hours to earn the rent, put food on the table ... of course! Of course! But when a little child is screaming for help, why is the sober parent never there at those cursed moments of uncontrolled rage?
Why didn't my daddy protect me?