What seemed innocent enough at first, quickly became much more twisted and demented. If you were an onlooker at my family you would think everything was as it should be. You would see members of my family as very nice, helpful and charming at best. If you were fortunate enough to ever visit, you would see a place where people of my family ate, slept, and played. There would be pictures on the wall of times past, and people at varying ages, usually of us kids. There would be no full family picture though. You never saw all five of us. My father would excuse himself in one way or fashion just to never be photographed. I guess you could say he was photo shy. I am not sure. Each family member had their personal things there in our house, and to onlookers we were completely normal.
My mom went faithfully to morning Sunday worship and never went on Sunday nights because she was not allowed to. She worked a fulltime job and my father worked a fulltime job at the same place he had always been. He built furniture for a living and he was top-notch at building almost anything a person would want. My mother was a supervisor at her many sewing plants and she was excellent at making anything you could possible want for clothes or otherwise. Both my parents were very skilled at what they had interest in and that was something they made a careers in their life. Neither of them graduated high school. Neither of them went to college, but through the devotion they had for their jobs they excelled there. I admired their tenacity and to me I thought they were both very smart.
My mother attended everything I participated in at school and my father would never. He did not like crowds and he rarely ventured anywhere else besides his job place and home. If he needed something he would go to the closet convenience store. Attending my school functions were not top on his list of things to do. I had often asked him to come but he would give some lame excuse as to him not being able to come. It got monotonous asking him, so eventually I came to expect him not coming. I often had to make my own bogus excuse as to why my own father never came. I played lots of basketball, volleyball, and cheerleading. I also performed in chorus events and competition, so there was always plenty of opportunity to come see me. I was sad that he thought no more of the things I was interested in . That was just one of the many things though that no one never really knew about my family.
I was the middle child and to say that my position was the best in the family would be one of sarcasm. For it was not the best in fact it felt like the worst possible place to be. I was never the oldest and never the youngest, so that meant that the special things those positions had , I did not. Instead I got hand me downs and was the one always responsible for my younger sibling and their mishaps and I was not old enough to do any “firsts”. I instead made the best of the hierarchy I was in. I learned to take what good I could and run with it.
Man, there is so much in between background in my life that would make your heads turn but I will try to make this shorter than it really is, for the sake of keeping your interests.
So moving the timeline up further into my teenage years…
I remember spending many overnights with friends and it usually would be on a weekend since I was not allowed to spend the night with anyone on a school night. I would usually go home with my friend from school letting out and stay till Saturday morning sometime. I really enjoyed getting away from my family and my house because thing there could not had been more disturbing and complicated for me.
The things that were happening at my house, in my home, no one knew about. No one came riding to save the day on a white horse. The things that were happening I was having to deal with all on my own. I was always looking for a way to be gone or separated from my family back in those days. Even if it was riding to the grocery store with my mom. I always asked to go when my mother was going somewhere and I always asked a friend if I could spend the night with them.
I liked seeing how normal families lived. I would study their behaviors as if I was writing a novel. I sometimes secretly wished that they would let me live with them because frankly, I was looking for an escape from my home life. I wanted to live in a normal, healthy family. It was not too much to hope for, or at least I did not think so back in those days. I would study the family dynamics and roles that my friends family had and how they interacted with each other. Often I really could not imagine my family ever being that normal. Mostly I prayed at night that mine would change. Sadly, it never did, in fact it kept getting stranger and harder to live in.
Where can a teenager go when the family they are in does not want them anymore? I often cried myself to sleep wondering why my life was so hard and what did I do to deserve the way I was always treated. Maybe in my mind I blamed it on growing up and getting older. Maybe I even blamed it on my ways of thinking or my need to be loved so much. Was it possible that I was asking too much out of the family I had?
I knew I was far from being perfect and that sometimes I had to be difficult to parent but I feel my actions were always in pursuit of my not wanting to disappoint or fail as a child. I was not the smartest, in my family, nor was I the perfect kid but I darn welltried. Sometimes I would forge a signature on a bad grad that I got in school just so I would not disappoint my parents. I sometimes lied about doing my homework and sometimes I was in trouble for talking in class, but generally I tried. I have to admit I had a lot on my mind during those school years and I know that affected my way of learning and the attention or lack of attention I gave to something in school.
I remember one time opening up to a teacher about things at home. This was during a time when my mom had went in for routing tuba ligation surgery after having my brother. Her surgeon had cut the wrong thing and she almost bled to death from it. I remember the hushed talks my father and grandmother was having about her and it scared me to death. I would sneak onto my parents bed and sniff my mom’s pillow and pray to God that she would come back home. I needed my mom and I was really having a hard time. I jus knew that he was near death and that she would be in the hospital for a while. I told my teacher this, I confided in him and he did not care. He had brought me out in the hall and was telling me my grades were bad, that I might fail my class if I did not get it together. I explained that I could not concentrate because my mom almost died and was not home yet… He did not acknowledge that but instead wrote a letter to my parents to be signed upon arrival at school the next day. I just knew my father would not be happy that I told my teacher our personal business, not to mention that I was failing so I forged my mom’s signature. I knew that it was wrong but still. I say that to say I was far from perfect. I also passed that class with a D. Yay for me. Or was it?
Certainly things were stressful at school, stressful at home and on top of it all I was feeling scared of my father and unwanted by my siblings and I dreamed of better days.
My father was not the most loving person and he only should an interest in things that he really liked. Things like me…
My father and I had an unhealthy relationship in my teenage years. He would manipulate me and I feared him. Often time I was nothing more than his personal helper. He summoned me to bring him coffee out to his garage/workshop and he had to have his coffee one way and one way only. If I got it wrong, he would grill me as to why I did not love him enough to get one simple thing right. He would tower over me and intimidate me, so much so I usually ended up crying and trying to re-do whatever it was that offended him. He was 6 feet tall and I was 5’3″ at best. He could make me feel so very small. I never understood what love for him had to do with what he wanted me to do for him. That was one of the multiple things I dealt with. Funny thing is he never showed this interaction with me, when another person was around , especially my mom.
I think he knew when to do things and when he shouldn’t. He was very sneaky.
I remember when I first took interest in a guy from church. When he fund out, he was once again trying to intimidate me. He would use questions like, “You would replace me for that guy, would you?” or ones like “Why do you need a boyfriend, you have me, ain’t I enough?” ” Don’t let me catch you kissing on another guy,” he would often say. That behavior seemed odd to me, and I often wondered if he was jealous and why in the world would he be, he was my father.
Famous last words of a fool…
To be continued…
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