Picking Up The Pieces

She always taught me how to pick up the pieces. She always taught me to be strong, that nothing can ever stop you. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And she was right, and forever will be right.

My mother did not crumble after the so called love of her life left her, instead she composed herself. She picked herself up and became unstoppable. She moved forward with her life and showed me that no person can bring you down. They can rip away everything from you, tear your heart out and walk all over it, but what comes in the aftermath is up to you. You can either let them win and be defeated, or you can show them that you in fact did not ever need them. The best revenge is happiness.

It took her a few months but she bounced right back. For the first time in her life she could truly say she was free. This meant a lot to her in many ways. She was free to live how she wanted, not worrying about upsetting him. She was free from an abusive relationship, both my father and my step-dad. Her entire life she had, had toxic men but for once they were all finally gone. There was no one there to intrude on her when she was weak. She was ready to be the woman she was truly meant to be. She could blossom. She now had all the power in her hands. The world could be her oyster, as cheesy as that sounds, it was true. The limitations were gone and a woman could finally come into her own.

Sure she cried. For months I would hear her weeping in her room next door. She lost weight, as any person would going through a time of extreme stress and suffering. But as the months passed she became stronger and stronger. I could see the light coming back to her eyes, I could see my mother coming back to me.

When the cancer treatments were finally over and she was in the clear she found herself a job. She put herself out for the very first time in her life for dating. She signed up for multiple dating websites and took herself out. She said yes she could. She didn’t care. She had never had this before in her life. It was all new and for her it was all so exciting. She wasn’t looking for the next permanent relationship, she was looking to have fun. Forever the men in her life strangled the life out of her. She couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. She was stuck, but not anymore. Sure, were there a lot of busts, yes but it didn’t get to her. It was her time to learn and her time to explore. But most importantly live again.

Over these past 4 years since he left I have seen her turn into a completely different woman. She is care free and putting her happiness above anything else that’s trivial. She has learned to manage the stress of everyday life and make sure what she does is exactly what she wants to do. There is no living for another anymore, it is her heart and she plans to keep it in tact.

reborn

What I have learned from her is that no person should ever control you, and no matter what the emotional grips they have over you, you are your own person. Even when they walk away it is not the end of the world. This is a time for you to be reborn and carry on with your life. No person is worth being miserable over, especially when they have intent to hurt you. You are better than that and deserve better than that. Sometimes you need to be ripped away from your comfort zone to realize your potential. My mother was comfortable in this abusive cycle, not looking outward to see what her life could be. Then when he left and made that first decision it enabled her to push forward, to see that there is life outside of this horridness. It might have been an extreme situation but she picked herself up and is happier today because of it.

I ask her sometimes if she ever thinks about him, or misses him. She always responds with him leaving was the best thing to ever have happen to her. She doesn’t hate him, she doesn’t love him still either. She feels nothing towards this man, because he deserves nothing else from her. He took a good portion of her life and she was ready to move on.

Her life is now her own and she has learned to find healthy relationships. She is currently with the sweetest man who just enjoys her company. They have been together for a year and a half. I truly and honestly couldn’t be happier for her. She deserves to be treated right and live a life of freedom, free of abuse.

Seeing her bloom has been the most beautiful gift, and has taught me so many life lessons. She will forever be my role model.

Because You Are a Liar and a Cheat.

He was gone. Out of the house, and with hope out of our lives. But my mother knew all too well that he would be back, and when he came back he wanted the house.

For a few weeks my step-dad was gone, completely out of contact with anyone. He had told my mother he was leaving, packed some things, and left. They had been together for 15 years and just like that he was gone.

I went on to graduate high school, on time might I add, which was a huge achievement. He had been with me throughout my journey whether he liked it or not, and when this beyond important date finally came he was not present. He had vanished just like that. One minute we were bonding over life and the next he had moved on. Deemed us no longer worthy to be in his life, just like that, with a snap of his fingers.

When he came back he forced my mother into a corner, either get out of the house or pay him what he owned. His name was on the title, making him the half owner of the house even though my mother first purchased the house and paid it on her own for 3 years. My mother, still going through cancer treatments, decided she would just pay him off. What choice did she have? She wasn’t going to let him take everything and get away with it.

He was stubborn. Not for a million years did he think she would settle, and he came at her with everything saying that he owned more than he did. He argued over the money for months. My mother had to take out a loan in order to pay him back, and days before the closing fee was due he backed out. He said he refused to pay his part, so to get rid of him my mother paid his fee. All of this just to stay in our house, the only house I have ever known. Why did he do this, oh for the money of course. Part of this property he owned, and with that came money, even if it was a trivial amount.

Later he came and took the rest of his things. His brother helped him move the stuff out, the brother that was closer to my mother than my step-dad. They took meaningless things, but it was still the act of coming into our house and removing items that I have grown up with. It was like I was reliving what I did years before with my father. I was losing memories, even if they were held in material items.

My mother stood stoic on the front lawn as they removed piece after piece. I followed them around the house to make sure they weren’t taking things they weren’t supposed to. After the truck was loaded up they were gone.

That was the last time I ever saw him or spoke to him.

So why did he do all of this? Why did he rip a family apart? His reasoning was because he was finding himself, that this journey he was going through did not include us. He was adopted as an infant and grew up with these feeling of abandonment, then he had two children it turns out he didn’t want and in turn practically abandoned. These feelings are what he blamed for leaving. He added that he couldn’t handle our medical problems, that it was just too hard for him. So he left.

My mother did more for that man than he ever deserved. He never opened up to her except in the end when he was looking for a scapegoat. My mother raised his children, fought battle after battle for him to have better custody, told him what to say to have a real bond with his children, paid for everything and anything all on her own even though she too was sick and struggling. She did all of that for him, so that he could have a good relationship with them. Well it turns out they were both mistakes that he never wanted.

My mother’s last name revolves around Valentine’s day and she was born only 3 days after the holiday, so pretty much Valentine’s day was her day. In all 15 years he never once took her out or bought her a present. He viewed it as meaningless which meant he could care less. He viewed every holiday as meaningless. For Christmas my mother would go out and buy his children gifts so that they had something to open from their father. My mother did everything for him. In his weakest moments she was there to pick up the pieces. Well it turns out it was all for nothing.When the pressure was on him he couldn’t handle being a real man. He was a coward all along.

He was cheating. All along it was another woman. All the lies that came out of his mouth were to cover his own ass to make him feel better. Apparently saying that you’re leaving because you need to find yourself makes the guilt less than saying what is really going on. Apparently that makes it all okay.

The moment we knew was when he accidentally sent a check (which was so small that it didn’t make sense, years later we figured out it might have been him sending money for the closing fee?) with his address on it. An address we looked up, which was owned by a woman, a woman who went to the same yoga studio as him, a woman he had wrote about in his yoga journal. She was younger than him, had her own house, and was on this spiritual journey. Just like he “was”. She was living the lifestyle he wanted, and unknown to us they ended up together.

Both my mother and I drive by the house often since it is on a main road going to the local hub of the area. His ancient car sits in the driveway. The man that refused to buy anything found a new host to mooch off of. His charm is never ending and clearly she was as easily fooled as my mother.

liar

What he does is mooch off of people. He has this innate desire to save, save, save. For what? We will never know. At this point he would have close or over a million dollars. Yet he has nothing to his name. He has a car that is falling apart, no property to call his own, no relationship with his only family, and no interest in marriage or anything.. He essentially has nothing. But yet he must think he has everything. He gets to live in another house, pay nothing, live the lifestyle he wants, and pretty much get away with murder.

He left us. He abandoned us. A ran running away from his own turmoil with abandonment went and left his closest family. And he didn’t even care. He had a family that loved him and was working with him. Sure it needed some serious help but when something is worth it you never give up. And you never leave when he did with my mother still battling cancer and me struggling to get out of bed every day.

The day he removed his things was the last time we heard from him. He has never contacted my mother. Contacting me would be a joke, I wasn’t even on his radar to begin with. That was 4 years ago and I have no doubt for the rest of our lives we will never hear from him again.

And at the exact same time I don’t care. To me he is nothing more than a liar and a cheat.

War Zones and Failed Ceasefires

It was another night of screaming. Another night of hiding behind my bed trying not to make a sound. They were going at it again, my mother and my step-dad, and I couldn’t help but listen. I heard the argument get more heated than ever, then the crash of something, then the footsteps upstairs. I quivered, I knew it was my mother. She came in and told me to stay in my room, that he had called the police on her.

I waited in my room while the police came in and questioned everyone. Apparently my mother had “scratched” him when he threatening to call the police with the phone in hand. He had already dialed 911 and by the time my mother whacked it out of his hand they were on their way.

The house was quiet after the police left. I went downstairs to stay with my mother and make sure she wasn’t going to do anything she would regret. He sat in the lazy boy chair my mother bought him. As my mother told me what happened in the kitchen he decided to make some sly comments from the living room, making it obvious for my mother to hear. He was egging her on just like he always did, and my mother still hadn’t calmed down from the incident right before. I stood in the doorway to the kitchen with my arms stretched out to block my mother from coming through. He made comment after comment, fueling my mother’s fire. As she was screaming at the top of her lungs I blocked her, I at least contained it to the kitchen. He sat in his chair, never leaving, just spitting fire. I screamed at my mother he isn’t worth it. I kept yelling it over and over and over again. Eventually I led my mother upstairs to her room and made sure she wasn’t coming out.

Fights like this were now happening on a regular.

The next week they were fighting yet again and I came downstairs to be a mediator. This was my role now, no matter how sick I was. Being the mediator came with the danger of failing, which I did many nights. This time though I screamed at him to leave, go to the movies or something. All he heard was leave and with this he was in my face spitting anger of how this was his house. Yet again a father figure inches from my face exploding. My mother quickly put herself in front of me and finished the fight without me. As time passed I started fighting back. I would spit fire right back at him. I would shake and cry and keep going until he shut up. I was done with him walking over everyone just because he was taking a different path.

The fights were over many things. Mostly over me, or the financial situation. In his head my medical condition was a joke, that I was faking it. After all the years of him being a support. He literally carried me out of the house to be taken to the hospital. He saw how sick I was. He saw everything that had happened to me. He might have no been an active player in my life but he was there to see it all happen. The financial situation was grim with my mother on unemployment dealing with her cancer treatment and he well, he saved. He refused to spend any money. He paid half the mortgage and that was it. My mother’s half, even though she was fighting cancer, was still up to her to pay.

This man said he was finding himself. When he came up short he took it out on my mother. Soon they just stopped talking all together. The house was a war zone with only a minute ceasefire put into place.

As the months passed of the two of them not talking I actually surprisingly bonded with him. I had no one else to talk to so on nights when he was home we would talk. We talked about his life and his journey. At one point I even was happy for him because he deserved to be happy. I thought if he could find himself then he could mend the relationship with my mother and all would be well again. Plus with neither of them talking the house was quiet and the tension faded.

I was wrong.

A few weeks before my prom I was sitting on the sofa, my mother in a horrible mood, and I decided to make a sly comment. I remember saying, “god, what is up your butt today”. The most teenage thing to say of course. Little did I know that exact day was when he decided he was leaving for good.

When prom arrived I still had no idea what was going on. My mother had composed herself and put on a happy face. My aunt came down to see me off to prom and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience. During pictures was when I realized he wasn’t present. I remember asking where he was, I wanted to take a picture with him. He had gone inside and eventually left for “yoga”.

A week later my mother came to me and told me what was going on. He was moving out, he had already found a place to stay and refused to tell my mother where he was going. She told me she asked one night that it would be nice to see more of him, and that she missed him, his response was that he was leaving and ready to go.

The day I made that sly comment was the day he told her.

She argued with him while in complete shock. His mind was made up. He was already gone anyways. It was a losing battle.

He told her during the week, and by the weekend he took only a handful of things and was gone. He took the drawers and emptied them into boxes, really only taking some clothes and some electronics. Then he was gone.

But it wasn’t over, the worst was yet to come.

dying

Husk of a Man

When on the journey of finding oneself does ripping up others matter? Does the cost of your happiness mean more to you than all the others around you? Are you yourself doing what is actually right, or doing what you perceive as right?

I thought these things as he sat in front of me, no remorse in his face, no hint of pain in his eyes. He said he was leaving to find himself and he couldn’t find himself here. He said this is what he needed to do, and with that he walked out the door and walked out on a family that was left torn in half.

My mother met my step-dad when she was with my father very early on and they all became great friends. Eventually my godfather was introduced and the final gang was formed. Everyone got married and had kids, and still stayed together as a pack. They vacationed together and hung out together, and when it was finally time for my mother to leave my abusive father they stayed with her instead of him.

One after the other they all got divorced, and as fate saw it my mother ended up in a relationship with my step-dad. When my mother was able to she bought her first house and a few years later my step-dad moved in. I couldn’t be happier. He had two kids of his own my age and I grew up with them by my side. Of course he didn’t have custody so it was only on occasion I saw them, but during my summers off I bonded with them every moment I got. And I truly bonded to my step-dad since he was more of a father figure than my own dad. Together we formed this nontraditional family that just seemed to fit.

In the early years the two of them seemed so happy together. It seemed like it was meant to be, that my mother after all of this time could be in a happy healthy relationship. But it was far from what it turned out to be. Year after year my medical condition got worse, and with that brought problems. Then when I finally took my father to court it was the last straw. The home life turned for the worst and the fighting started to spiral out of control. My teenage years I spent in my room, away from the nights where punches were practically thrown. My mother with her temper and my step-dad with his below the belt punches. There was no stopping them. The screaming would go on for hours and even when it was over he would go back for more. Neither of them were happy, but my mother insisted he was the love of her life. He was meant to be with her, and she was meant to be with him.

Around the same time as my POTS diagnosis came the shocking news of my mother having breast cancer. I remember being in my room and they both come in, both with half smiles on their face. He leaned up against the wall and my mother sat next to me. She told me they had found a mass in her breast and it came back cancerous. I was in shock. How could this have happened to my mother? She explained that it was only stage 1 and that it did not spread, but it was one of the most aggressive forms of cancer and she needed further treatment. My mother being who she is opted for just the radiation therapy and biweekly injections of a substance that would shut down the proteins of those cells. They pushed for chemo but opinion after opinion said that she didn’t really need to get it since it was only stage 1 and did not spread. They did want to give her a port though, which she said no to because then she would have to tell people since you could see the port. Without the port though her veins would be ruined. She accepted this fate if it meant she could hide this diagnosis from the world. She was fighting for her life and the only people she told was my step-dad and me. No one else in the family was told for her own sake, since then everyone would want to help her. My mother is the strongest woman I know and she didn’t want to be pitied. Telling people would just make them look at her weak, as someone who is now fighting for her life. She wanted nothing to do with that.

After a botched tube was placed for her pinpoint radiation therapy she had to go back in for more surgery. Each time she would come home and my step-dad was in charge of helping her clean the open wound and helping support her. She was sliced and diced, and came home often with blood soaking through the bandages. She couldn’t come to me in her weakened state because in her eyes that was not right to show me, she had to be the caregiver, not the other way around. She never cried in front of me. She never broke down in front of me. The entire time I saw her as a fighter, which gave me strength to go on in my own fight.

On top of everything else my mother was going through she was forced to resign from work because of the recovery period. In her mind it was the right thing to do, since battling cancer and holding a job in corporate America isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. Plus this gave her the time to watch after me since I was also extremely weak and vulnerable.

By the summer of my junior year of high school I saw less and less of my step-dad. I was told he was working late. He would roll in around 10pm and would be gone before I woke up in the morning. I always heard him come in since my window faces the driveway.

And for about a year he was sleeping in the spare, apparently due to snoring (which let me tell you he did. I heard him through the walls). Then it was because my mother didn’t want someone else in bed with her during the cancer treatment. Then it was just normal, they just didn’t sleep together. There was never any affection. It was a cold house of him just being there. It was either he was there and they fought or he wasn’t there and my mother would make excuses. That was now the norm.

As my senior year rolled around and I was homebound yet again he came to us with exciting news. He had started yoga classes and joined the local YMCA. I was a little shocked honestly. This man was 6’3, easily almost 300 lbs, not exactly the yoga type. But that is what he wanted to do, and to keep him happy my mother supported him. As months went on his training took a more serious tone and he turned into this man that none of us knew. This man we knew was turning crooked. He had branched out of what either of us knew. The status quo was being challenged and he broke away from what was expected of him. But this left uncovered a dead man who wanted nothing more to reblossom.

huskHis life was yoga. There was nothing else. He decided he wanted to be trained to be a yoga master and yet again my mother supported him. He would come home with all of this weird information, come home saying that yoga can cure anything, come home saying that yoga would cure my mother of cancer and cure me of all my illnesses. He was crazed with the idea of being reborn. He wanted to cleanse his body of all evil spirits and be new again.

He juiced like crazy, far more than recommended. He would fast for weeks in order to cleanse his body. Overall this large Italian man was turning into a husk of nothing. The light in his eyes was gone yet the smile on his face remained. The wrinkles grew along his thinning face. He was turning into a man that no one had ever seen before.

The longer he went on this now spiritual journey the farther away he drifted from both my mother and me, but the full abandonment was not far away and not either of us saw it coming.