~By Wendy Zangari
In Newton, Massachusetts was a home filled with love and trust, a home that was surrounded with white light and was thought to exude happiness, but little did they know that it was to become a house filled with jealousy, anger, strife and wrongdoings.
We grew up in a town that was very wealthy and while we were not wealthy, far from it, our father bought a house in one of the richest towns in Massachusetts and brought his children up with just enough to eat and also have fun, all while trying to keep a roof over our heads, just so that we could go to excellent schools and get a stellar education. Even though we had wealthy friends we were not so lucky.
Our father owned his own business and was an Electrician installing alarms in homes and vehicles. He made just enough to feed the family, keep a roof over our heads, while also incorporating fun into our lives with a lot of board games and books. Things were okay, we managed and we didn’t want for anything for the most part.
Our mother made our clothing and usually dressed Jenn and I up in the same outfits during our Elementary School years. This was kind of embarrassing, but I don’t look at it this way now. I look as if this was a learning experience and taught me how things were made at a very young age. I also took nothing for granted and I was very grateful for things I had as a child.
None of our friends knew this this, nor did we speak about family issues outside of the home, this was not proper. No one is to know your business and all is kept under lock and key inside the home within the family. I didn’t care for this rule as there were many rules I soon stopped following, which led to some issues with authority figures throughout my life. I knew we were poor but I didn’t care, why should I? Money was of no value to me at that age, therefore I did not see a difference between us and others that lived in Newton.
When our father got divorced, prior to moving to Newton, he brought two of his four children to live with him before his other two children were born from his second marriage. He didn’t realize how this dynamic would affect the rest of the household in later years, but a lot of things happened during this time and all of their children suffered for it.
Brian and Steve, from our father’s first marriage, went with to live with him. Erwin took care of them as best as he could, but as time went on he found love again and in turn Steve kept running away back to his mother, a couple of towns away. Steve was jealous and did not even like my mother playing the part of mom in any way. He also did not like the dynamics when Jenn or myself came into the picture, we made things change. We were the scapegoats for Steve’s feelings towards these new dynamics, and would abuse Jenn and myself.
For instance, one day I sat down in the living room getting ready to watch some TV, I didn’t notice Steve’s glasses on the couch, I sat on them and broke them. Steve picked me up and threw me against the wall. He stated that he meant to throw me on the couch, but my question was why did he have to throw me at all? He said it was an accident, accidents like that just don’t happen! As time went on I had to get him back and good.
It was a wintry morning, everyone came down for breakfast and sat around the dining room table. I always sat next to Steve. Jenn was sitting on the other side of him. I knew it was time to get him back, I had been very patient and finally had my moment. I put ABC (Already Been Chewed) gum in his food, I smiled thinking I had done a wonderfully mean thing to my brother that had no care for anyone, however it was taken out on someone other than me. I watched Steve as he scooped up his eggs with his fork and started chewing and found that there was gum in his food! He stood up, grabbed his plate and dumped the eggs over Jenn’s head and put the gum in with it. Jenn screams and shakes her head to throw the eggs off, but the gum remained. Jenn was horrified! Our mother had to cut Jenn’s hair immediately as the gum had got itself intertwined in her hair down to the scalp almost. Jenn was furious and Steve soon ran away to his mother’s house, yet again. Steve was fifteen years old, Jenn was six and a half, I was five.
Steve showed me how to burn ants with a magnifying glass in the driveway one day, I thought this was very cruel and told our parents what he was doing. Again, Steve was in trouble for lighting things on fire as he had done before. One day Steve lit our living room curtains on fire and burned them to the floor. He wasn’t very well adjusted and it was very difficult living with someone who was so angry, destructive, and careless. Over many years Steve kept running back to his mothers house to find some sort of normalcy in his life, and he still wasn’t able to find that security.
Jenn and myself did not get along very well. Jenn seemed to make everything a competition, a competition for love, for attention, who was a better child. There was even competition when we were in school, who had more friends, who had a better personality or looks, who was better in sports, etc. Jenn and I shared a bedroom and there were always arguments about how she and I lived. I was extremely organized and neat and she was extremely unorganized and messy, it left a lot to be desired by someone who likes their space neat. There were arguments, physical fights, word slinging among other things at times, it was always nasty when we confronted each other about anything.
One time I told on Jenn to our parents for things that she was doing that bothered me, our mother stormed into the room and I knew that the punishment was not going to be good. Mom grabbed Jenn, crumpled her fists, and punched Jenn in the head multiple times. I stared at them in complete and utter shock and started crying because this was not what I wanted to happen, I just wanted Jenn to stop taking my things when I throw them in the garbage, she would then claim what she found, as her own, among other things. Jenn, of course, blamed me for mom’s behavior towards her, as I was to blame for many things and took the blame whether it was my fault or not. Later in life neither remembered it happening this way.
Brian was, of course, the brother who was caring and loving and knew how to treat people. Brian treated Jenn and myself with love and care and complete respect as we were his little sisters and he was grateful for our presence and truly took care of us.
He would take me to the pet store down the street, which he liked to call “The Little Zoo” and walk around to see all of the animals, it was my favorite time with my big brother, who was the eldest of all of us. He used to call me “Schloofy” which in Yiddish means “Sleepy Head”. He called me this because I loved to sleep and it was very difficult to wake me of that slumber.
Brian would take Jenn and I out to the park and fly kites with us. Sometimes our mother would go with us, but that wasn’t consistent as a lot of things our mother did were not as time grew on. Brian played the part of a parent at times and took care of us as if we were his own; We respected him because of the love and respect he had given us.
Sandy would go to PTA (Parent Teacher Association) meetings often, went on a lot of our field trips as children, but in time she would stop all of that and grew tired of her responsibilities as a mother.
Erwin enabled Sandy, therefore it was allowed. He stuck up for her in times when she was wrong, he gave her power and she took that motherly power and used it against all of us. He bought her the alcohol and enabled her to behave the way she had behaved over the years.
Our household was officially crazy and there was nothing we could do about it. Jenn and I would sit in our bedroom with the door ajar waiting for the next ball to drop and for us children to pick up the pieces. We tried to be what our mother wanted us to be, but we could not adhere to the walking on eggshells lifestyle.
Then I started acting out with physical and verbal abuse towards everyone, I was angry, I was tired, and I had no hope as a child. I went to school in Kindergarten with this attitude. Slowly I became more angry, more cynical and more rebellious, but I was very insecure. I would not adhere to anyone’s rules because their rules were ridiculous. I would never accept another telling me what to do again. This was my start to life and my outlook from the very beginning, I was taught to yell and scream to get what you want and to hit and to hurt when you are angry. This was ingrained in me as a child, however, I did learn that it was not that way in life, but it took me a long time to learn this and to stop playing the victim of circumstances.
© 2012 – 2013, Ready For The Shift. ™ Wendy & Greg Zangari, All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy and redistribute these articles on the condition that the content remains complete and in tact, full credit is given to the author(s), and that it is distributed freely.