What happens when good intentions cause immense suffering and betrayal? What happens when you are protecting your loved ones and yet causing battle scars that last forever?
The warning signs were all around me, the red flags signaling at every turn. Who was my father really and what have I gotten myself into? At my mother’s house I saw actions that were the norm, drinking alcohol at nights, prescription medication for the variety of medical issues everyone suffered, and regular arguments between family members. When translated my father’s house was no different. But when critical information was withheld I didn’t realize what was happened was the beginning of something much worse.
To protect her daughter my mother never told me my father was an alcoholic and drug abuser. She never told me of his anger issues, never told me of marriage from hell, never told me of the abuse my father inflicted upon other women in his life. I was none the wiser to his actions. I never thought to tell my mother of any red flags because things seemed similar. When a child sees one parent doing an action if the other repeats then why would that cause alarm?
I was already uncomfortable staying at my fathers and knew if I said anything the consequences would spiral out of control. I was already losing control of myself and my life, I couldn’t stand to lose even more. Staying at my father’s house as a recently puberty ridden young woman was tough. My body was changing and the support given to me was just uncomfortable. At school I was being sexually harassed. I was a late bloomer in my physical appearance which caused a group of older boys at my school to harass me. They would follow me around, comment on my mosquito bites, make remarks that I must clearly be a boy, talk about actions similar to rape in regards to me, and call my home phone until we were forced to unplug the cord. Day in and day out the remarks were shouted at me, isolating me even further from my peers. The stares others would give me made me feel so alone. The backlash I projected alarmed even more of my peers. The harassment was making me the weird one. When I sought comfort with my father his responses were awkward. He would reply with “I always found small boobs on women attractive”, as if that was to comfort me. I confided in him before my mother, and with the awkward response I never told my mother in fear her response would be similar. It was not until the day they called my mother’s house phone literally all day right after the other that my mother went straight to their parents. She had no idea what was going on and when reported to the school it stopped. Legal action was threatened finally on my mother’s part before the sexual harassment completely stopped.
I stopped going to my father after this for any help on how I was feeling. The tension at his house was already growing. The former family friend with the beach house moved in and acted much as a second mother towards me. As the migraines progressed so did the harassment at his house. When I had a migraine one of them would burst in and make a comment. At his house my room did not have a locked door and he refused to put one on. There was no knocking, no simple voice spoken to make me aware someone was coming in. Just the burst and my door wide open. On many occasions I would be changing and there I was out in the open for either to see. On days I had a migraine I laid in bed hoping no one would come in, usually without success. Someone always felt the need to say suck it up or get up you’re faking it. Soon the comments turned to anger and I would be screamed at while in bed with a migraine. I hated it there. No one believed I was in pain, and no one believed anything I said.
The fact was that no one at that house was taking care of me. At first the transition was successful and privacy was respected, meals provided, a caring and comforting environment for me to grow up in. In a matter of just months that all left. Where there was once family dinners now laid empty tables and empty fridges. If I was hungry I would scrounge for anything in the house, soon I was strictly eating the dollar noodles. My father, preparing for cycling, would starve himself and with that starved me. In the fridge lay a pack of carrots and alcohol. If you were hungry you would snack on the carrots, which at the time I hated. When I brought this up to my mother she would give me money to go to the local store for food and continuously yell at my father for not cooking. He tried on and off, he tried to be there for me but the effort was fading. Grilled cheese became a regular item for me and when food was cooked that I didn’t like a fight would breakout. I would apparently throw my nose up and disrespect what was put in front of me. When I was excused from the table someone would follow me upstairs and yell at me. You might blame this on me being a picky child but what once was little a scolding were turning into fights that made you fear for what would happen next.
The red flags were surfacing at even a faster pace now. On multiple occasions my father would walk to the bathroom naked, which you must understand my room was right outside the bathroom and the hallway was not long. Every time he would act shocked that I was there, but how could you not know I was there with my door open? The comments were being made left and right about my weight. “You can’t eat that, it will go straight to your thighs”, “Once you turn 13 its all downhill, eat what you can now”, “Skipping a meal might be good for you”. The lack of approval was also fading. Nothing I ever did was good enough for my father. I excelled in school despite my constant absence. When I came to him and told him about my success I was told it was not good enough and to do better. If I had an A I should have an A+. If I wasn’t perfect I was failing. This created this gap in my brain that fostered and grew into something I still deal with today. This constant reminder that I am not good enough, between my appearance and my performance.
I was putting up more walls, creating more barriers between me and other people. The little friends I did have were fading. When I was allowed to go out I hung out with the bad crowd, I was a bystander to my own life. I was there with a group of people who accepted me coming from their own troubled home life. I was always asked by my teachers why I hung out with “those” kids, that I was better. I didn’t know I was better, in my mind I was worthless. Who cared if I was a straight A student hanging out with the middle school drug addicts, at least they seemed to care about me. When high school rolled around most of the people I hung out with went to the tech school or they were forced into private schooling leaving me friendless. The friends that did transition to high school with me ended up abandoning me for being weird. Even the troubled kids thought I below them.
Eventually I was accepted into the nobody crowd, those kids that didn’t fit into any sort of clique. Even though I was accepted it didn’t mean I would be welcomed. I was still an outsider even amongst them.
As middle school came to a close and my high school journey began a new phase in my life started. But even by now the once innocence I had was torn away and replaced with a growing fear and regret for past choices.