Tonya (8), Melody (10), Holly (3) and Paula (12) with Dan Harrison in southern California, 1976.
SISTERS: A Sacred Contract
A sacred contract between sisters;
My secrets are yours,
yours are mine,
are ours together.
Bound to one another
‘You don’t owe each other,’
my husband said.
Oh, but we do.
For we are survivors of secrets,
by Melody Harrison Hanson, 2005
I’ll never forget how terrified I was when I wrote this. When I sent it on to my sisters to read I feared their rejection because you see we never talked about dad much, not negatively. Not until he died because of his anger. It just wasn’t worth it.
[Now some of you who knew the gentle, charming character of Dan Harrison will be rising your eyebrows and questioning me now. Some day, perhaps I will have the energy to remember and write what our childhood was like. Because we remained until the day he died strangled by his anger.]
You see, when you experience psychological trickery and mental torment or suffering it creates a level of fear that is insurmountable. We all suffered physically from this over the years. I had stomach aches, Holly and my mom had headaches, the others in their own way. The worry, the knowledge that at any time he might lash into a rage, get stirred up over the smallest thing, I never understood his trigger. It caused us mental and emotional anguish. But the very hardest for me was the secret of it.
That’s where this poem comes from.