Some days I look back at my life, and I realize I’ve pushed back quite a few memories. I forget things that I’ve gone through, because my life now is different that how it used to be. And the thing is, there are people out there who have experienced much worse than I have, and in no way could I ever say I’ve had it that bad. But life has been difficult. I apologize, this may be a long post.
When I was young, my mom and my step dad (who hasn’t been in the picture for the last 3 years), used to fight all the time. As a kid, I grew up thinking that was normalcy. It wasn’t just yelling and screaming at each other – sometimes they got violent with one another physically. I think I blocked most of that out, I was very young for most of it.
There was a time I remember my mom freaking out on me because I had told a guidance counselor about things going on at home. Like I said, I thought it was normal or something. But she freaked out because she was scared they would take me away. I don’t really remember what happened after that.
My step dad had three kids. The oldest, let’s call her S, came and lived with us for awhile. The other two brothers, B & A, still lived with their mother and would visit over weekends and such. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about those relationships, because if I did, I could make a novel out of the whole ordeal. The backstabbing, the lies, the hurt. My mom could tell it better. So I’m not going to go into the experiences I grew up with. No, I’m going to talk about the time leading up to my step dad’s departure. Because that was the most difficult time of my life that I remember.
2007 was the worst year of my life. It’s actually crazy to believe that it’s been ten years. Chaos was the drive at home, and everything was a mess. My mom and my step dad had been fighting a lot and there was always some kind of upset going on. Let me also explain something: my step dad had a chemical imbalance in his brain. Basically, he was borderline bi-polar. He would go from hot to cold, happy to mad. But he refused to take his medication because he didn’t feel himself on it. So the fights would get bad.
Leading up to that year, my step dad had been messing around with a girl at his work (I didn’t know this at the time, my mom did though). And my mother had been messing around online with this guy in Illinois. She was always online. And this guy she was talking to, let’s just call him K (I’m being simple with names), he had this medical condition called spina bifida. To sum it up, he couldn’t walk because his feet were swollen. It’s a birth defect that messes up your growth. He walked around in crutches and he had a motorized wheelchair. Now, I’m not judging her for falling for this guy. But she did, and it was the start of a terrible relationship.
That year, he paid for her and I to go visit him. I rode on a plane for the first time in my life, and we spent two weeks in this little town in the middle of nowhere with this guy. And I grew to despise him. Sure, he tried to be nice to me. But I was angry that he was in the picture. That my step dad had agreed to let her go (my mom preaching the whole, “we’re just friends”) and then to blowup on her and get upset. I was upset that this guy couldn’t take care of himself, and my mom spent two weeks cleaning up for him and catered to him for every little thing, versus actually enjoying herself. The house smelled so bad. And then, this guy, K, got upset at my mother for talking to his friend more than him the one night. And then accused her of being interested in him. She thought she had it bad at home? Who the fuck is this guy to be so clingy and needy? It had nothing to do with his medical condition, I just straight up hated this guy for wrapping my mom around his finger.
When we came back, it was more fighting. And K, he was there for my mom, sure, as someone she could confide in and talk to. But then he’d say stupid shit, and start fights over stupid shit, and my mom would get so upset over it. I remember her getting so happy when he would call, and her going in a different room to hide just to talk to him. It made me sick to my stomach. There are other things, too, and it just disgusted me. The whole relationship. Why couldn’t she just try to work things out with my step dad? But honestly, he wasn’t much better. They both lied and cheated. The falling apart of the marriage was on both of them. Things leading up to it over the years. But for me? I got to be the only one stuck in the middle. S had left years before then to live with her mother. And the boys were hardly around. They didn’t get to see all that I saw, so their opinions on the whole thing are invalid to a degree. They weren’t there – I was. And I was alone.
The end of that summer I was heading into 9th grade. And my mom and my step dad had a big fight. To the point where he took off. Actually a big fight is putting it lightly. There were multiple fights, arguments, screaming, yelling. Every time he would drive off, my mom would call him on his cellphone and there would be more screaming matches. And then she would put me on the phone to try to have me balance out the conversation. I had two grown ass adults screaming in my year and my mom glaring at me to repeat her words. At 13, I was expected to play mediator. Those moments I truly hated my life. I’d start crying out of frustration. No one seemed to care how I felt about being stuck in the situation. It was all, “If he leaves we have no fucking money! Do something!”
He did leave. And we did struggle hard. To the point my mom had to get a job at Wal-Mart. I don’t think I mentioned that she was a stay-at-home mom. For years. That was her first job in several years. As if all of that wasn’t hard enough, our electric got shut off. Actually, I think they had shut it off, but my step dad had fucked with the meter. And then left us with it. Our house could’ve burned down. The only good part was, at some point, we had gotten a generator. My mom and I lived off that generator for a few months, as it was heading into winter. I was trying to deal with school, too.
Here’s where it starts to get blurry for me now. Events start to merge together, and I can’t remember what came first. Honestly, I think I started to subconsciously block a lot out. I remember him leaving, and I remember us having to use the generator. But I also remember the generator giving out within a month. My mom and I were freaking out – it was getting cold out, we had no heat or electricity.
Earlier that same week, my mom had taken her car to get checked out. In the waiting room, she had met this guy (we’ll call him H, I’m sticking to letters). They really hit it off, and she explained her situation to him. He was there helping his neighbor out. The day that the generator gave out – his neighbor, D, had been driving down our road looking for us. What kind of odd luck is that? We had been outside with the generator when she was driving by. So she found us when we were at our worst place.
D took us back to her trailer, and to speed things along, we stayed with H for a week. It was like a love at first sight kind of thing for my mom. Here’s a man willing to help us out, take care of us. I got pulled out of school, because we were just going to move in with him officially. But… the man had Diabetes. And he took his temper out on my mom, and they started fighting. Sick of the constant fighting, we left that same day to go back to the house. No idea what we would do yet. We wound up spending that night in a motel because we couldn’t stay at the house. Our animals (we had one cat, Tommy, and our dog, Deszoto) had to, but we couldn’t. That was one of the worst nights sleep I ever had. I also remember getting a phone call from my friend Alli that my future best friend (we barely knew each other then), Lauren, had fallen off the rock wall at school and was in the hospital. It’s like all these bad things were happening at once.
We went back to the house the next day, and my mom had talked things out with my step dad, and he fixed the generator. But I don’t think he stayed with us much, he went back to his new place he got. My mom kept working at her job, and I remember he came and made me food a few times. But I don’t remember the timeline of everything anymore.
The thing with the generator, too, was our house was wired very odd. So we couldn’t run certain things on it. The TV couldn’t be played if the hot water tank was heating up. We couldn’t use the stove. We could only use basic things. Because if you played the TV and ran the hot water tank – it would pop a breaker and shut off. They eventually got it fixed, but it was terrible when we actually needed it to work.
Eventually, my step dad came back, and we finally got power back right around Christmas. We spent about three months on the generator – through the beginning of winter, on the generator. It was an awful three months.
I remember, too, right before I got pulled out of my current school, that I was struggling in my Biology class. And I remember I had assignments I didn’t turn in the last day of class I was there. But when I had to come back (after being re-enrolled in school), my teacher still marked me down as half credit on the assignments. Apparently she couldn’t understand that I had stuff going on at home to the point I was pulled out of school, and she never tried to work with me. Oh she was nice, sure, but she never helped me. I just always remembered that part of it. Like, okay, I was legit pulled out of school, and you’re still going to give me half credit? Not even talk to me? Okay.
There was more I was going to write in this post, but I’m approaching 2000 words so I think I’m going to break this into two parts. I mentioned somewhere above that if I wrote everything out, it could be a novel. And it really could be. But this was a really hard time in my life, and I didn’t even say everything that happened either. Not all the threats my step dad made, or when he held my mom’s portrait of my grandfather for ransom or threatened to bash the dogs’ head in. It’s crazy to me when I look back and I think of how much has actually happened. We were never that big happy family, and the good times are so few and far between. And this is just a chink in it. Because part two is going to be when he left for the second and final time. And that’s another crazy story.