I was just five years old when I was in the back of the car, driving away from my father being arrested. What I didn’t know at such a young age was that it would be thirteen years later, that I would see him again. My father was emotionally, mentally and physically abusive. His father, my grandfather lived two separate lives. He had a rich family and a poor family. Three days he spent with one and four spent with the other. Each family not knowing the other one existed. I have a strong feeling my grandmother knew, but he was the caretaker. Her mentality was she would have nothing, without him. Unfortunately, like most lies, my family found out. I say MY family found out, we were the poor family. My grandfather left his poor family, to live with his second wife who was financially better off, leaving my family feeling like we were nothing to him. The family he is with now, still has no idea about his other family, their half siblings. I use this as an excuse sometimes for my father, thinking this has a big impact on why he is the way he is. But, when we become an adult, we must own up to our own actions. He doesn’t know how to love. I know in my heart, I will not let this cycle of broken love continue.
After my father was arrested, my mother moved me to where her mother was living, which became my new home as a child; miles away from where I use to call home. After three weeks of living there, my mother found a new man. I don’t blame my mother, all she wanted was someone to love and be loved. But as a child that was hurting, I needed all the love she could give. This man was a very young man, someone that was too young to take on a father figure to me. That didn’t stop my mother from marrying him and again, I don’t blame her. They married after, I think was a little less than a year (my memory is a little foggy) and started what my mom felt, was a new beginning. It wasn’t until Junior High, that my “step-dad” adopted me. My mother had a big influence on that. A year before he adopted me, my mother and him had a beautiful baby boy. He was at the age of talking now and he was starting to call him Daddy. I know me calling his father by his first name only confused my sweet baby brother. I don’t want to say that is why he adopted me, but I have a feeling he thought by adopting me, I would automatically be comfortable calling him Dad. Might I mention, when I was five years old, was the last time I have ever called someone Dad. My father slowly faded away inside of me, the day my mother took me away, and the years it took me to realize who my father really was.
I know my step-father loved me. We spent so many years together, your love for someone slowly grows when your around them. He always made me feel like I was the worst daughter. Grounding me for not doing the dishes, and giving me the “you NEVER do anything right.” My friends would always say, “I would hate to see how he felt about me being his daughter. He would probably send me to boarding school.” I always kept dating at a distance. I felt, if I could never be okay in his eyes, how would my step-dad approve of somone else, that I CHOSE. I secretly talked on the phone, and never let him know who I was talking to. Although, my step-dad felt he had a right to read my letters or my cell phone at any given moment, because I live in his house. I longed for a sense of privacy. I loved school, it was a place I could feel free. I do believe that is why I love Mother Nature so much. Being outside is such a refreshing, free feeling. I’ve also had a big problem loving myself. I’m working really hard at it. I love others unconditionally and I absolutely adore that everyone is different and unique. Especially after growing up with the “my way or the highway” mentality. The freedom of thought and to be able to accept and love everyone for who they are is something I am so thankful for. I’ve always had freedom of thought and that is what helped me breathe growing up. That is what is so wonderful about life, no matter who in your life is bringing you down, you have the power to bring yourself up by your own thoughts. It’s a beautiful thing.
It was my Junior year that everything changed. My step-dads best friend was dying in the hospital from cancer. His best friend was the most amazing, wonderful man. I truly believe he kept my step-dad balanced. I went to the hospital to say my goodbyes, crying holding his hand for the very last time. My mom was with me, at that time, my step-dad and I were on no talking terms. I could see the nurse in the corner staring at us, while my mom and I said our goodbyes. Little did I know, that lady would have such a big impact in my life. December 12, 2008 he passed away. Those two weeks after his death, a lot happened. Out of privacy to my step-dad I won’t say what happened. But what I will say, is the day after Christmas, my step-dad moved out. After ten years of marriage, they were done. My mother was a mess, my step-dad was her rock and she was lost. We lost our family friends over the divorce as well, my step-dad was the outgoing one, so they chose him. After knowing them since I was a child, I had lost them too. A month later, my step dad was dating the nurse, that I saw in the corner of my eye staring at me. I guess since he left, that met he was no longer my adopted father anymore. I know out of anger, I told him to never talk to me again. But that was pain talking, I didn’t really mean it. He listened to my words and from the day he left, we have never had a relationship. I’ve accepted not having a father, I am thankful for the memories that I was given and understand life is never how we expect it.
My mother and I moved into our own house when I was sixteen. My sweet baby brother lived with us as well. My mother and I we’re so lost, the only way we knew how to survive, was to keep our guard up. By us both having our guard up led us to having a relationship filled with anger and pain. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and moved out when I was seventeen. I moved out of my hometown and did not talk to my mother. It wasn’t that she was a bad mother, we were just so badly hurting. I felt like I was suffocating. I wanted to runaway and never look back. The closest thing I could get to that, was join the military. Two weeks before leaving for boot camp, I told my mother. She cried as any mother would. Those two months in boot camp, we’re the hardest, yet the most therapeutic months of my life. My mom wrote me the most encouraging letters while I was there and I could see our relationship slowly forming again. She visited me at graduation and our relationship was back to where we deserved. After graduation, I went to training for my job. I found the most amazing friends anyone could ask for, while I was there. That was such an amazing time in my life. My job in the Air Force, was medical. I thought I was going to be so great at my job. What I did not realize, every time I saw a picture of someone bleeding, I started to cry. What I saw when they were bleeding, were their families left behind. The father bleeding, that was leaving his son without a daddy. I failed out of my class intentionally because I knew, when the time came to be strong in an emergency, I would fail. I was discharged and sent back home.
The plane ride back home was the most amazing, yet longest plane rides of my life. It had been one year since I had seen my sweet baby brother and ten months since I had seen my mother. Being away from them for that long, showed me how precious family time is and the small things in life are what you truly miss. As soon as I got off the plane I ran to my family. We held each other crying, knowing we were a family again. It was such a sweet memory. Now every chance I get with my family, it’s as if I am trying to record every memory. When I sleep with my brother, I just look at him and how peaceful he is. He has nothing but pure love for me, and that is something I never want to forget. I know I can break the cycle of broken love, I will never settle for anything less than true genuine love. I am waiting patiently to experience a never ending love, but for now I will cherish the precious moments I get to spend with my family.
It is now three years later after the divorce and my step-dad is married to the nurse. And from what my brother tells me, she is having a baby. I’ve called my step-dad and I told him, for my brothers sake, I hope his marriage works. I hope his wife is the most accepting, loving step-mom to my sweet baby brother. They say time heals everything, but I disagree. It’s realizing and accepting what has happened and still moving forward. For so long I ignored my pain, but after lots of tears and realization, I am free.