This is a continuation of my journey with my father, read part one here.
By the time I was entering middle school and diagnosed with migraines officially the home life started to get a bit rocky. The summer of 6th grade everything changed. I was with my father for an extended amount of time and he decided to go down the Jersey shore with me. A family friend, sometimes girlfriend, sometimes not had a bungalow down the shore. It was quaint and just a few blocks from the beach. I loved going down there to roam the town on my own, even though I was only 11 I was given the freedom to do as I please. Times down the shore were exciting with my father, he would often just give me quarters to go to the arcade by myself or plan exciting day trips as a group. I hardly knew my father even at this age, all he was to me was someone who wanted to have fun. The times we spent together were not spent in conversation but in activities. I had no obligation to talk to my father if all he wanted was my company. If he wasn’t talking to me then of course I wasn’t striking up a conversation. I was a shy child around strangers and my father was practically a stranger.
I remember on one of the last days at the beach my father was going to go out on a bike ride. At the time he was a competitive bicyclist, and a pretty good one at that. I remember having these butterflies in my stomach before he left. I even went to him and told him to stay home and not go out on the ride. He went anyways. Hours upon hours go by and we get a call from the hospital. My father had crashed and was at the local emergency ward. I remember arriving and being escorted back to the room where I saw him lying in excruciating pain on the stretcher. Apparently as he was riding he pulled off into an empty lot but didn’t see the lip from the road on to the pavement. He came crashing down smashing his entire pelvis. The hospital quickly figured out the shattered pelvis but took hours until they figured out the broken collar bone. My father was smashed into pieces and was helpless.
It was an odd summer. I was over my father’s house often because I felt some obligation to take care of him. He needed help moving and couldn’t really use his legs. Plus I wasn’t in school so what else would I do? It was also not far from my fathers rented house to my mother’s house, only about 10 minutes away. By the time summer was coming to a close my mother and I were not getting along, at the time I didn’t realize it was probably because I was over my father’s house far more than she wanted. My father seeing an opportunity decided to bribe me. For being such a good daughter over the summer he was going to buy me a new desktop and my very own laptop! The catch was that I had to agree to stay every other week at his house. I was thrilled! Fun time dad every other week?! I mean how could I pass that up! Especially since I was having a bad time at my mothers.
Instead of going to the courts to get it officially changed the group decided on just a written agreement. The main factor was that no child support would be paid to my mother since I would be half and half now. But my father had to start putting away savings for my college. It seemed fine to me, I was just happy to have all this new technology. So for the start of my 7th grade I was split between the houses. Things for fine for a while until my migraines started to come back in force. When I had a migraine at my mother’s I was cared for. When I had a migraine at my fathers I was being dramatic and should suck it up.
In 7th grade I also officially became a woman, which brought a whole new fun set of issues to deal with. The major issue, menstrual migraines. The nastiest, most brutal pain I could even imagine. And every month like clockwork I would get them. The worst part was the neurologist providing treatment could no longer help me. I ended up in the ER on multiple occasions just to get a cocktail of Toradol, Benadryl, and Zofran. Whatever the case this seemed to always rid me of my unbearable migraines.
I was always miserable whenever that time came when I was at my fathers. I was scared what would happen. There would be no way he would take me to the hospital if something were to happen. Soon my neurologist recommended that I see a gynecologist and be put on birth control. This way I could at least go 3 months without a hospital visit. For those who don’t know the pill form of contraception can be taken consecutively for 3 months then a week off, and it is not just used for birth control. In fact the pill can be used to help alleviate a variety of medical issues. In my case medical migraines. After this I started planning that time around the weeks I was with my mother. I couldn’t bare the thought of having to be at my fathers while that was happening. Soon things were starting to look in my father’s mind that I was only sick at my mothers. He started issues with my mother, threatening a custody battle until he decided that I clearly need therapy. So at 12 years old I was dragged to a therapist to work out my problems. I was told I was going to build a better relationship with my father, little did I know there was another agenda.
I was regretting my choice to change my living situation only a few months in and I knew if I changed my mind now it would only cause more drama. Therapy was practically a disaster, it was awkward and beyond uncomfortable when my father was brought in. I didn’t truly understand why I was there. I thought I was doing something wrong, that my actions at some point had led me into this situation. Therapy sessions ended with awkward hand offs from mother to father and vice versa. I was feeling so alienated between the home life and the medical situation. I felt like no one could understand what was happening to me.
As life around me was spiraling out of control so did my appearance. I wore nothing but black, talked to no one, and confided in only a single friend. Some say it was just a phase, that every child goes through their phases. But what was a phase and what was a desperate cry for help?