Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

April 8, 2013

Twin lives, different stories

Tess Rowing
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Last Friday, students in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) were taken to the S.T.O.K. Transition Fair at Greensburg Community Church, which gave students an opportunity to see which services are available for them.

After the kids were treated to pizza, speakers Angel Schiering and Christel Murphy offered a presentation to the students about how their lives developed in different manners because of the twins’ life choices.

Angel and Christel were raised by their bipolar mother, whom the twins said self-medicated with alcohol and cocaine. The twins’ father divorced their mother when they were five years old, though he remained friends with their mother and worked a lot.

The household had no structure, the women narrated. Once their mother awakened them at 2 a.m. and announced a trip to Florida; and they wouldn’t go to school for random days.

Angel said that she regarded such behavior as normal, and Christel said she knew as early as third grade that something was crazy about their household; The differences in the girls’ way of thinking was apparent at very early ages.

Both women identified seventh grade as a catalyst for how their lives would diverge onto different paths.

The girls would be subjected to a “drug talk.” The twins’ mother said they could do drugs as long as the drugs were in moderation and the girls did well in school.

Angel said she would take the talk as permission to do what she wanted, “I believed my mom, everything.”

Christel said she thought, “My mom’s lost it. I will not believe everything Mom says. The truth for Mom is not reality.”

Christel said that not only did a rift develop between Angel and herself, she became extremely unpopular in her family and was referred to as the “snotty one” among a slew of other names.

“I told myself, I am in control of the choices I make, and I don’t have to listen to my family,” Christel told the audience.

Angel said she began partying as she wished. She blamed her problems on others, and would get high and go to school until she didn’t have a choice whether she got high or not.

Angel and Christel’s stepfather died when they were in their junior year of high school.

“Things went downhill,” said Angel, “By all statistics, I shouldn’t be here.”

Their stepfather had been a true father figure to the girls, having been around since they were six years of age.

Angel continued to make poor choices, she said, and would eventually end up in jail, pregnant, at 19 years of age. Angel eventually gave custody of the first child to her father.

Christal had been living with her father at the time, and said she had resented that she was partially responsible for Angel’s baby.

“I was 19, I didn’t want to take care of an infant,” said Christal.

Christal had mostly separated herself from her family and went to college on a soccer scholarship in order to earn her teaching degree. Ignoring her family is what saved her life, said Christal.

When Angel was pregnant with her fourth child, she was in prison and would give birth there.

At one point Angel, her mother, and her brother were in jail simultaneously.

“It was insanity,” said Angel, “I was doing the same things over and over expecting something different to happen.”

Angel was stealing from her grandmother who was also constantly posting Angel’s bail.

“That’s what we call an enabler,” Angel said with humor.

Angel’s problems began peaking when Christal called social services because Angel had left her children with a babysitter for two days.

Having her children taken wouldn’t be enough, said Angel, because she simply pretended to be clean and quickly fell back into her usual habits.

Angel’s life would change when she discovered that her grandmother had two months to live.

“I couldn’t cope,” said Angel; Her coping always involved drugs and now the drugs weren’t enough. Angel stole her grandmother’s car and abandoned her kids for Christal to care.

Christmastime came, and Angel returned to apologize to her grandmother because she knew in her heart that she would only have one last chance to see her grandmother.

Sure enough, Angel and Christal’s grandmother died soon afterwards, and Angel finally called a rehab center two weeks later.

Angel has been clean for five years now, but still struggles to raise her five children (ages two, six, eight, nine, and 11), to work, and to also pay her mother’s bills.

Christal told the audience that she doesn’t pity her sister, but has the utmost respect for how hard Angel works and how Angel turned her life around.

The twins’ mother is still “unstable,” Christal said, but Angel continues to care for their mother.

Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004