A Tale of Two Sisters
Mom was an alcoholic as a teenager, and by the time she was in her twenties, it was clear that she was mentally ill. Eventually she would be diagnosed with bipolar disease with psychotic features, and narcissistic personality disorder.
When her high school sweetheart married someone else, she took revenge by having sex with a man for whom she had no feelings. She had their baby a few days before her twenty-first birthday, and it was immediately placed for adoption. Disowned by my grandparents, she spun into a world of alcohol, men, and mental illness. Her next four children were either adopted out or taken away by the state under allegations of child abuse. That left me and my little sister, Dawn.
No one knew about autism in 1966. All I knew was that Sissy was quiet until she wasn't, and then she was a screamer. Mom had no idea how to care for her, so though I was only four years old, caring for Sissy became my job.
Until it wasn't.
Mom's illness was showing strong by then. Ordered by the courts to seek help at the risk of losing us, she instead became nomadic. We moved nearly every year, always soon after a teacher or school nurse noticed my bruises.