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

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Innocence Removed

This is a continuation of my journey with my father, read part one or part two.

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 Wickedmosquito 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.

Loss of Blood Ties

The next part of my journey is quite a lengthy few years. At this point in time we introduce a pivotal character, my father. The stories are deep and very emotionally rooted. From a length perspective these are sure to be the longest portions thus far and because of this I am going to break it into parts.

From the getgo my father was a sly cunning fox who could sell ice to the Eskimos. He came from a religious family, his father being an Episcopalian minister. From the stories I’ve heard from both him and other family members his upbringing was a troubled one. By the time he met my mother she was desperate to get out of her own situation and married practically right away. He offered an escape for her and at the first chance she took it. My father was expected to be successful and in his own mind he was destined to be a man to be remembered. My mother worked full time to pay for his college degree at of all schools, Wharton (which is Ivy League level business). Coming out with a business degree he was expected to make millions, be a CFO of a company, anything successful. Instead his own mindset got to him. He quit his new job and decided to be an entrepreneur. From here on out the story fades, not much has been told to me. What exactly happened next is unknown to me.

The pieces I do know were of a troubled marriage spiraling out of control. My father was an alcoholic drug addict with an abusive temper, which wasn’t aided by the fact my mother also had a flaring temper herself. On a number of occasions I listened to stories where my mother had an outburst and was silenced only by the physical abuse of my father. By the time I was 2 years old my father had turned into such a monster that even my mother who knew she would be left out in the cold with a toddler decided to run. The night she knew it had to end was when my father was coming home from a business trip. He was so drugged out that he crashed his car into multiple neighbors parked cars and stumbled on home practically drooling on himself as he went. Seeing all of this happen my mother decided it was time, the unstable nature of my father was now in the public eye with a toddler close by. And the fuzziness begins again, the story falls short and the details are left blank.

If we speed up in time to when I was in kindergarten my end of the story can really fall into place. My entire life my mother and father were fighting each other, both for the approval and award as best parent. My mother being an actual good parent who cared about her child was always there to pick up the pieces. On her own as a single parent she was able to work and take care of me, providing me with the best childhood possible. My father on the other hand who only had me for weekends was trying to boast his fatherly skills. As a young child this consisted of child friendly trips such as the zoo or playground adventures. What I saw of my father was fun time dad, not anything of what he truly was.

The prime example of this was my kindergarten graduation. Since I went to a private kindergarten we had a special ceremony that congratulated us on our little achievements (which is seriously ridiculous). My mother was ecstatic, until my father showed up. I remember graduating, walking and standing for pictures then being given a bag of gummy bears. After that I was in a car being driven away frustrated that I couldn’t open the bag, which I eventually tore open and lost half of my prize. But it wasn’t my mother who was driving, it was a family friend. What was happening to cause this? Apparently a fight broke out between my mother and father which resulted in my father physically assaulting my mother in front of all the other parents and children. The cops were called and charges filed, all while I was being escorted away to hide the true side of my father.

So why after all of this would my mother allow me to see him? Why did the court allow him visitation? The simple answer was the abuse wasn’t affecting me and my mother truly wanted her daughter to have a father in her life no matter how horrible he was. She tried her hardest to make my father something he just wasn’t. No matter how hard he tried at the end of the day he was scum. He had cleaned up his act, got anger management, and by all means looked to be a decent father. Behind the scenes he was constantly fighting over paying child support, always lying to the court, and sabotaging everything my mother had worked for.

It was a tricky situation for anyone to be in, how could a parent tell her child no? How could one parent keep the child from the other? And how do you even start to tell your child the truth?