The year Diana Ross's hit song "Love Child" hit the top of the pop charts, I was born to a single mother who was unable to care for me. At three weeks, I was adopted into a family who raised me in an affluent suburb outside of Chicago. The view from the curb was that we were the perfect family, in the perfect home, in the perfect town.
On the inside of those stately brick walls, though, my home life was shaped by alcoholism and domestic violence. My parents divorced when I was 6. My mother remarried another alcoholic, and my father, who'd moved away, also remarried. By the time I was 15, both of those marriages had ended. What I learned about trust people was that they went away. What I learned about myself was that I wasn't worth loving.
None of the adults in my life had a clue I was suffering. My broad smile fooled them and even me. It disguised the protective shell around my vulnerable heart meant to keep me from being be hurt again. As I moved into adulthood, though, that girl-size armor, ...1