Tag Archive: divorce


Scars of Who We Are: Chapter X

Scars of who were are, memories chapter 10.

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My little cousin, me, Dominic my older brother and his now ex-girlfriend, five years ago.

~These memories of who I was and where I’ve been are important to me. Just as your memories should be to you, even when they’re painful, or mired in regret, they still make up a large part of who we are, who I am, and the person I’m going to be once my journey finally winds down. I need to remember the essence of magic and hope that I once knew and held so dear, if I’m ever to capture it again. Because life isn’t a journey, for every journey ends and when it ends, we go on. There are no do-overs and second chances come as rare as a flower blooming in the dead of winter, but we learn and carry on. Sometimes we’re heavier from the burdens we take on and carry with us; sometimes we become lighter by sharing our burdens with those closest to us. The world turns and turns and we with it, plans fall apart, things change, scars fade, but the memory, the memories always remain and sometimes there’s a moment in our lives that hovers and settles for but a moment, leaving us forever and inexplicably changed in the most unexpected of ways, ways we never thought or felt before. And it’s then that our dreams take over and it’s there I see you and it seems that wherever I go, I find you, you’re there, my luck, my fate, my fortune, my life, my blessing and my curse. But it’s not all about you, or where in the stars your destiny lies, it’s about the here and now and what you find in the hidden depths of your soul, it’s where we go from here, as the ashes of what was and what might have been finally settle down around us, leaving us forever transformed, this is it, this is the now and it’s when you finally decide where you’re going to go from here.

      Patrick and I became inseparable, we were best friends and brothers all the same.  His eyes were also open, he wasn’t afraid to speak up and stand up to his mother for me. It was something about him I always admired, he never cared that

My step-brother and me at King's Island....Sorry Patrick this is the only picture I could find of you.

My step-brother and me at King’s Island….Sorry Patrick this is the only picture I could find of you.

by jumping to my defense whenever she was jumping on my case, making fun, or bullying me and how it would get often get him grounded, or chewed out, he was someone who always stood up for what was right, no matter what it had cost him.  Eventually Patrick would be the one to go to my dad about how I was being treated and I would begrudgingly confirm that Patrick was telling the truth. Often I had held my tongue Because I didn’t want to cause any ripples in my father’s new marriage. He loved her and she made him happy and I couldn’t bear to bear to be the the reason why he couldn’t hold onto this family he had found. He loved her kids and still does as if they were his own and maybe I was a little selfish myself, because I also didn’t want to jeopardize my relationship with my brother, I didn’t want to lose to him, or any of my extended family. So I was willing to go through that mental abuse and more if it meant my father’s happiness and the continued bond that forms between brothers. Sadly, I would eventually see this marriage fall apart and once more I got to relive all the ugliest therein. With a part of me always wishing they would get back together and mend the fences, so that we could all once again be a family.   

My Step-mother.

My Step-mother.

To my step-mother’s credit, she did eventually find me on face-book years later. To be honest I didn’t know what to make of the friend request that found its way to my inbox, or the message she sent with. In it, she wrote me a very heartfelt apology for how she treated me. Telling me how sorry she was and asking if I could ever find it in my heart to forgive her. So I accepted her friend request, and wrote her back, telling her I had forgiven her a very long time ago, because truth was I saw why she resented me so much even back then, I knew why. Even though she had two kids from a previous marriage whom of which my father had accepted as his own, she couldn’t bring herself to accept me.  I was a constant reminder to her of father’s previous marriage and how committed. I would be the one thing that would always keep him tied to her

       But now I’m happy to report that her and I still stay in touch and I do still have love for her. I even told her as much the last we talked and that she was often more of a mother to me, than my real one, because Trisha did  occasionally put forth at least a little  effort in trying to get to know me and she did spend a little bit of time with me here and there. Yeah, it may have been mostly because she didn’t want to watch a particular scary movie alone, or  maybe she was just lonely when my father wasn’t there and just wanted a movie buddy. But those memories of her asking me to sit with her and watch a movie together are some of greatest memories I have and still carry with me to this day. Movies had become her and mine thing that we would share and do together, further illustrating how the magic of a story, in a cinema, a movie can capture the essence of magic and bring unlikely people together. I remember how she would make me popcorn and how we would talk about the movie later, about what we thought of the story and how it should have ended. And to be honest if we shared more of those moments, I would have elected left home and would have moved in with them, adopting a new family all my own. 

My step-sister and no I'm not ashamed to admit I did used to have a bit of a crush on her.

My step-sister and no I’m not ashamed to admit I did used to have a bit of a crush on her.

 

 

But at fourteen, I had fallen into the habit of spending most of my summers with my father and when I stayed with him, I never wanted to come home, partially because I know I would be left alone and because I was afraid of my mother, who had the habit of making me miserable, so naturally I loathed the idea of coming home. Home was a place that never felt really real and always left me feeling a bit out of place, like I really didn’t belong, even though my mother had went from physically beating me, to full scale psychological abuse which started a year prior. I had also grown to dislike my step father, but the blunt of that came earlier in the year when he nearly broke my arm because I complained of having a migraine and wanted to lay down. Then I was threatened into lying about how I had a bruise the size of a grown man’s hand around my bicep, a angry black and yellow band around my arm, that everyone had wondered how I got, but to each one I told a different story.

Then of course was my older brother who often tormented me by either having fun at my expense or by treating me like a second class citizen, who was his dork little brother. I hated him so much at times and my mother too, for she would laugh with him as he poked fun at me and my speech problems, then whenever I would get bad and try to say something hurtful in turn, I would be the one whipped and punished. I hated my life, I hated my home more, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to love it. I wanted to be happy in my home and I wanted to have the kind of life you read about, or see on t.v. I wanted to believe in the stars.

Me at fourteen

Me at fourteen

 

But this one summer, I came home to an unexpected surprise; I went to my room to unpack my things and to discover that my room had been redecorated. The bunk beds that once took up residence in my room were replaced by a very nice queen sized bed and my walls had been painted to my favorite color, which at the time was red. (Now it’s blue, things change) It was then my mom popped into my room and I was taken aback by how excited and happy she was to see me. Then I saw her brow crease with worry when she thought I didn’t like it, when truth was I was in shock, I was speechless. It took me a moment for my wits to return and for me tell her how much I loved it. But that was two years before I would learn the unspeakable truth that would forever weigh on my soul. But sometimes, I also wonder if she could love me on this day how come she couldn’t always, why did her love sometimes wash over me like a wave, to so quickly ebb and dissipate, why was it that the waves were so few and far between, leaving me stranded alone on this island, with no place to call my home.

 

At sixteen, I came home from a hard day at school to yet another surprise, this time to discover that  my mother had thrown me a surprised birthday party. To be honest, it had been something I mentioned from to time growing up, I’ve always wanted one, but as I grew older I began to believe less and less in it actually happening, so needless to say I was overjoyed.

For all of ten minutes I couldn’t stop smiling, believing this was one of the greatest days of my life and for ten minutes I had forgotten about all the hurt feelings, the nasty words and all the beatings. I opened the door to the smell of steaks frying on the grill out back, mac and cheese cooking on the stove, the smell of freshly baked cookies and chocolate fudge brownies, all my favorites.

I laughed, not knowing what to think, believing that the Lord had finally granted my one request, which was to have my mother love me as much as she did my bother. Because this was it, this was the turning point I had been waiting for and I was so tired of struggling and fighting just to stay afloat and now, now I was happy. I had the attention I had always wanted, the sense of belonging I had craved for so long and now it was finally mine, or so I thought.

 

Then the pictures started the first few were of me, then I posed with a few family members, than my brother Dominic and I was still feeling euphoric, until I heard my aunt Terry remark on how handsome my brother was and right in front of me, she began insisting that he should go into modeling because he was so unbelievably photogenic and handsome. To my brother’s credit, he was being modest and tried brushing the comments aside, but they kept coming. My grandma on my mother’s side jumped in, as well telling my brother how it was true and that girls were always inquiring about him because he was so  handsome, then of course my mother had her say, trying to convince him of all the good money that could be had if he went into modeling, while I stood there, completely forgotten.

For awhile I did my best to pretend not to be a little hurt, so I wore my false smile and eventually having enough, I threw am arm around my brother and saying,

                “Hey, how about we go into modeling together, you know as brothers?” My brother quickly brushed me off and laughed, while the rest of the room looked at me as if looks could kill and as I tried figuring out what it was that I said that got everyone looking so peeved at me,I feel my Aunt Terry’s hand closing around my arm as she pulls me aside saying,

“Hey, you’re not like your brother, he’s really handsome and you shouldn’t be acting all jealous because you’re not and he’s your brother.”

                  At sixteen, I didn’t know rather to laugh or to cry, I wanted to believe she was just joking around with me, even if it was a little mean. But before I could formulate any kind of response my grandmother (on my mother’s side) Pulls me around, telling me it’s okay to be average and I shouldn’t be acting this way just because he’s really special and and very handsome.

I couldn’t believe my ears, heck I couldn’t even believe this was really happening and I had thought this was suppose to my day, and all could feel was m heart sinking along with whatever positive self image I still possessed.

 

Then of course my mom chimed in, I don’t know why when she first interrupted my aunt and grandma that I allowed myself to believe she was jumping to my defense, instead she launched into telling me about everything that was wrong with me. How my nose was too big and that I needed plastic surgery to get it fixed, then piece by piece she tore me apart, telling me how my hair was too greasy and unkempt, that I was too weakly, scrawny, my clothes didn’t fit me right, I had poor posture, bad skin, I couldn’t stand or walk right, my teeth weren’t white enough, my gums weren’t pink enough, etc. By then end of it I just wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere and die, but of course she didn’t stop there, she went as far as pointing out my speech problems, the grades I was making in school and so forth.

That day my favorite foods had lost their taste, I had lost my appetite, lost in my own depression, thinking how sorry they’ll all be once I’m gone, but I played my part, I smiled falsely, pretended that everything okay; even though I was dying inside and when I finally got to blow out my candles, I wished for a new life and I hoped for love to come into my life and make sense of all of this.

 

Later I would grow to suspect everything that happened was some veiled attempt to breed resentment between my brother and me, but it never took. Even when he was making my life miserable I still loved him, he was my brother and he always will be. brothers are suppose to be a pain, suppose to torment you and get on your nerves. Even my step-brother and me for as well as we did get along we often got on each others nerves, would tease one another and annoy the ever loving crap out of each other. So no, I never really blamed Dominic for anything that’s happened, because he was my brother.

                But, Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had spoken out and made myself heard, to admit how I wasn’t perfect but to ask who of us really was, I could have pointed out the faults of everyone in that room if I had wanted to. But I didn’t, instead I retreated into my room, having always preferred losing myself in a book, a movie, a video game, or hanging out with my own friends than try and pretend I was a part of something that I wasn’t. But it was okay, I had my friends, I had an amazing step brother and sister and it was they who always found me and pulled me back from that ledge that my depression had often brought me. They were my strongest supporters, my biggest fans, the people who I’ll always love and never forget, remembering always there words which will stay with me until the very end of my days. I may have been just days from learning the truth. But one thing I learned from writing this blog, which is this, appreciate your family for what it can be, not what it should be, step parents, step brothers and sisters can be just as good, or sometimes even better than the real thing, family is what you make of it, not what it should be, anyone can family, friends, co-workers, even your bosses, all you have to do is let it.

 

Okay, this has nothing to do with what I'm writing, but over the weekend I did finally get to meet my two favorite actors Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery and even in my severely sleep deprived state I can tell you, these guys are awesome and are remarkably down to earth.

Okay, this has nothing to do with what I’m writing, but over the weekend I did finally get to meet my two favorite actors Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery and even in my severely sleep deprived state I can tell you, these guys are awesome and are remarkably down to earth.

 

 

 

 

The Scars of Who We Are Chapter VIII

The Scars of Who We Are Part VIII

Dreams become shattered memories,|
The earth crumbles beneath my feet,
My heart creaks and cracks,
As my knees grow weak,
And the words assault me.

Boy Standing Along a Fence

 I used to cry alone in my room, so that no one would see or hear me, I was the kid with a story that no one would believe, praying every night for God to please send me someone who would just love me and  often wondered what love really meant, because my parents’ divorce was a nightmare and I speak from experience when I say it’s never easy on a kid. Ideally I believe parents should always try very hard to work things out before calling a marriage quits. But I understand, sometimes things just fall apart and you can if you’re not careful fall out of love. In this case if divorce is inevitable, they need to find some common ground and put the hurt feelings aside, out of respect for the children who by no fault of their own are also involved. Be civil and fair to each other, don’t worry about what you think you deserve, or what you want, because it’s the children who suffer, it is us who you end up hurting. We hear all the nasty things you say to each other and about one another, we understand more than you think and we’ll always listening, even when you think we’re not.

When it comes to any kind of separation  it’s important not  to get caught up in a whirlwind of hate, no matter how much you feel like you may be justified. Try to remember your spouse and the good times you shared, try to become something more than bitter words, arguments over who gets what and who deserves the most in the divorce. Because in the end, it’s the kids who have to cross the battlefield and it’s unfair to force, or manipulate them into choosing a side.  Both my parents tried painting the other as a horrible person, never taking into account what it does to those who are caught in the middle and feeling like a weapon one would use to try and hurt the other as much as possible.

The worse thing about my parents splitting up was how the divorce had pitted me against my father and his side of the family against my mother and hers. My mother’s side often had the tendency of treating me with borderline neglect and more often than not had looked upon me as if I was an incredibly dim witted fool, who had on more than one occasion would ask me to do something (In one particular case it was getting my grandma some ice water, and wouldn’t let me go, until I heard her explain, precisely what ice water was, what it consisted of,  how to get the ice from the freezer, etc.…I was eleven) Suffice to say, I knew how to prepare a glass of ice water. Which lead to me on more than one occasion informing my mother’s side that I wasn’t an idiot, nor was I mentally handicapped, (although forgive me, I actually said, “retarded” no offense, I was eleven)  Granted I was incredibly backwards and shy, with a bit of a speech impediment, but that didn’t mean I was stupid or least not in my opinion. (also in my defense I had buckteeth, which sometimes made things a little difficult to enunciate certain words.)

Dinning on my favorite food. French Fries!

Dinning on my favorite food. French Fries!

Then there was my dad and his side of the family, who always did their best to win my favor, always incredibly outgoing, supportive, loving and caring. (Which I took somewhat for granted, because over the years I saw that I already had their love and respect, I didn’t have to work for it. So I devoted much of my time, too much of my time, trying to win the favor of my mother and her side of the family. And now there’s a subtle divide between my father’s family and me, we don’t talk much anymore and not from lack of trying on my part. I don’t blame them though. I often chose my spend most of my time with my mother’s family, making them feel like second best, or that I didn’t love them as much, which is untrue. I only wanted my mother’s love and to become a part of something bigger, with a big family. A lot of it came from how much I seen how they spoiled my brother, always showering him with praise and gifts, something that was always in short supply whenever it came to me. I don’t know if that makes me selfish, or a bad person or what. But I longed to hear a few kind words from them, words that sadly never came)

              But I digress, the battle between my mother and father continually broke my heart, it wouldn’t stop, every week was the same thing; my mom would always be so quick to tell me how my own father didn’t love me. Insisting that he was only good to me so that I would make the choice to live with him once I came of age to choose and he only wanted me so that he would no longer have to pay child support. She often described my father as being selfish, cold and greedy. Telling me that despite how he never so much as raise his voice to me, that he was really masking his cruel and abusive nature. She often told me, he wouldn’t put up with my shyness, my struggling grades, my being a picky eater or really just me in general, swearing that he would put me up in military school the first chance he got just so that he wouldn’t have to put up with me.

She could easily turn anything kind or good thing my father did for me and paint it as some elaborate facade, which often left me wondering if I would ever learn to the truth. I can’t tell you how many times I questioned everything my dad had done for me, wondering if she was right, if he really didn’t love or care about me, questions that no kid should ever have to concern himself with.

          Then there was my dad, as great as he was, he was far from perfect. Every other weekend I would have to sit and listen to him bad mouth my mother, telling me that she was a manipulative sadist and how she didn’t really love me. (Beginning to see a pattern here?) My whole life growing up all I ever heard was how the only reason she wanted me was to collect her precious support. So here I was, stuck in the middle of this war and well intention as my father may have been, it was something no child should here. I can’t tell you how much it hurts always hearing how the other parent doesn’t love you, or care about you. Unfortunately for me, my dad’s words rang true, for as soon as I graduated High-school, my mother did exactly what he had warned me about. I was told to leave, having my belongings thrown carelessly into trash bags and sat outside as I frantically called my dad looking for a place to stay. Meanwhile my mother was robbing me blind, closing my savings account and making sure to take every penny my family had given me for graduation, leaving me with nothing but with what little cash I had in my pocket at the time. If it wasn’t for my dad, I would have been left broken, penniless and homeless. But I doubt I would have lasted too long without throwing myself off a bridge, or into traffic. But that’s a story for another day.

           Regardless of however true my father’s words may have been, it still wasn’t something I should have heard; no child should ever hear how one parent loves him/her more than the other, or isn’t loved at all by one parent.

However, I must give my dad some credit, because by the time I was fifteen I finally asked him to stop talking so negatively about my mother, explaining how I just couldn’t take it anymore and how much it was hurting me, I explained in as few words as possible that she often did the same and it was making things just that much harder on me. My father was taken aback, not realizing what his words had been doing to me for all these years and from that day rarely if ever spoke poorly about her again, at least in my presence he did  his best to curve his tongue.

Disney

Me, Pluto and my brother at Disney

A lot of my struggles also came from my brother and how much I loved and looked at him. It was heart wrenching for me to watch my brother grow to hate and despise my father, who never did stop caring or worrying about him. It didn’t help that I was all too aware how my relationship with my dad was driving my brother and I farther apart, so I grew up barely knowing anything about my brother. And I can’t tell you how many times I tried convincing him that my dad and his family still cared about him, but he wouldn’t have it. Which only added to my festering guilt, making me feel a pang of guilt whenever I did something fun or cool with  my dad and as much as I would have loved to have shared it with my brother, I knew I couldn’t, I knew just by telling him I would inadvertently hurt him, driving an even larger wedge between us. But sometimes it bothered me, seeing how my brother was so quick to forget everything our, my dad had done for and with him.

But I remember, I always remember, that’s always really been my thing, I remember, I remember everything. For some having a memory like mine would be a blessing, for me, it has which has been both a blessing and a curse. Even now as I write this, I wish I could forget some of my childhood, I wish I could forget, the pain, hardships, I wish I could forget how my mother didn’t love me and probably never had.

It’s my hope that by writing this and sharing my story it’ll touch someone, help them get help and not to be afraid. I know how it is being in an abusive situation, especially when you’re young and may think the behavior is normal because you have nothing else to compare it too. I also know the fear of what might happen, or what they may do if you tell someone, if you seek help. I know what it’s like loving someone who, for the lack of a better term is simply poison. The question you have to ask whenever you’re in an abusive relationship, with family, or a boy or girlfriend, spouse, is “Are you happy?” If the answer is no, you have to get out, you may be taken out of your home, you may go to child services, or have to strike out on your own in a terrifying, dark and scary world, which is only as scary as we make it out to be. Then once you’re free from that abuse, you’ll slowly begin finding a strength in you that you never knew was there and you’ll realize that you did the right thing, you made the right choice and no matter what you may tell yourself, or what they, or others may say, you’re stronger then you think and you, you can accomplish anything. Just don’t be afraid, never be afraid.

Life can and will knock us down and it may seem like the whole damn world is crashing down around you, but you have to hold on. Don’t lose hope, never lose hope and you will persevere. Don’t stress about your troubles in school, so what if you’re struggling to make the grade, just work a little harder, find your focus, if you’re being bullied seek help, start working out, learn self-defense and stand up! I’ve been bullied in school myself and if shy, quiet, little ole me can stand up to them so can you. Life isn’t always easy, we all struggle and we all have our demons we have to overcome and the private battles we rage will be the hardest, tougher than anyone else’s, because they’re yours. One thing I learned is life eventually balances out, God does balance the scales eventually, granted it may sometimes take awhile, but I’ve seen him work and seen those who used to make me feel miserable and now I have nothing but pity for them.

        This is why I started this series, why I pour my heart and soul into every word and paragraph of this blog. Forcing myself to relive these moments, reminding myself of my own struggles and the private battles I fought, sharing with you some of the pictures I managed to save in an old shoe-box and I’m right their with you as you read my words, sharing my journey, as I watch it all play out all over again.

To be honest however, I sometimes do hate writing this series, but when a friend told me I should blog about my life and to be honest I never meant to write down or share any of this. I was just sitting down and all of it started pouring it out and sometimes I feel like I’m just a vacuum bag, that holds all that old dirt, wondering if I’ll ever get it, if I’ll ever figure it out, if I’ll ever understand.

I never really got to know my mother and I never found her, she was buried beneath too many lies and deceitful ways for me to ever find. a day doesn’t go by when I don’t wish she could have showed me what a mother’s love, or secretly hope she’d find me and at the very least attempt to make amends, but as the years go by, I know that day will never come. But I often dreamed and fantasized about having one of those mothers you see on t.v, or in the movies, or the ones I’ve read about in books. I can’t tell you how many times I longed for, begged and pleaded to have similar relationship with the woman who gave birth to me, but instead I’m left wondering what happened and why.

If I could, I’d give just about anything to tell her that I loved her, I loved her even though she treated me like a cancer and caused me to hate myself for so long. I wish she could tell me why I was never good enough, why she hated me so much. I would like to ask her what I did so wrong besides being my father’s son.

For my birthday this year, I visited a friend and his wife, I’m always taken aback when I visit, I’m amazed simply by watching a real family interact. It reminds me a little of what I missed growing up and when I watched their kids. being around them and watching their kids play and how they interacted, I was overcome with such wonder and amazement. I saw how much they’ve changed and grew since when I saw them last and was reminded how my dad must have felt, only being allowed to see me every other weekend, or for weeks on in throughout the summer. I found myself imagining their futures and thinking about the challenges they may face as they grow older, I found myself worried, hoping only the best. I even prayed for God to always keep his hand on each and every one of them. That’s when it hit me, I understood then that I’d never understand how anyone can turn their back on their child, or want to make them hurt. Because life is amazing and just how two people and get together and create life. I thought about how small and humble our beginnings are. By then end, I was left wondering how my mother could make my life so difficult, without ever giving me so much as a kind word. I realize now that my mother never got to know me, I was her son and yet, we never even met.

                I know I had problems growing up, I know I wasn’t the perfect son, I wasn’t especially athletic, or brilliant, handsome, nor was I very funny, if anything I was more of an observer and dreamer than anything.  I was a picky eater, incredibly backwards and shy, I had buckteeth, speech problems, bad eyes, and to top it off I was also sensitive. So I know it couldn’t have been easy to raise me, or to always put up with me. But I couldn’t help it I was how God made me, and I loved me me, I still do. I’ve made some best friends you could hope for and I’ve seen the beauty of a sunrise, watched the brilliant setting of the sun and found salvation.

Me

Me

Take it from me,|
Speak slowly,
Forgive quickly,
Be slow to anger,
and love…always.

The Scars of Who We Are Chapter VII

Chapter VII: Scars will always fade,
But they will never go away,
I try throwing it all away,
But I remember everything,
Because the memory always remains…

Young boy looking through window

The year was 1989 when my parents finally got a divorce, admittedly I didn’t really understand what was going on and like most kids I had hoped it would be only temporary. But it wasn’t  My mother had cheated on my dad, with someone she had told my brother and I was just a friend. Admittedly I was somewhat suspicious when asked my brother and I to be quiet about it. Personally at the time I liked the guy, but I was six and he seemed nice enough to me, so I didn’t have a problem with him. But again I was six, below should be a recording that I accidently made, when I was trying to get my older brother in trouble, by recording him cursing on a tape recorder…..Yeah it may have been black mail, but I had grown tired of him picking on me, making fun of me and always blaming me, or getting me into trouble. What can I say, I was resourceful and I suppose I was a lot smarter

than I gave myself credit for in those days.
Believe it or not, my mom wasn’t always as nice as she sounds in this recording, remember the woman had brought another man to our house and was afraid of my dad finding out in fear that it would give him ammunition for their looming divorce.  You can listen to through here, (sorry I coudn’t find any other way to upload it to my blog.
https://sites.google.com/site/jcooperaudio/mp3/confession_.wav?attredirects=0&d=1

 

(I believe the first voice you hear is my older brother, followed by my less intelligible voice. I edited the recording down as much as I could and cut out all the blips and squeals, since most of the cassette tape had eroded somewhat. If you want to fast forward to the 3 minute mark I think is when my mother finally enters our room.)

 

 


I don’t think I’ll ever forget when I was told that I would only be able to see my dad every other weekend. Because my father was always very involved in the lives of both my brother and me, he loved, taking us to the movies and taking us to see the movies we wanted to see. Once even after our parents divorced he picked up both my brother and me and took us to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then afterward he took us to Toys R’us and bought us some Ninja Turtle toys. Something he didn’t have to do, but he that’s the kind of man my father was. He was always the kind of father he didn’t have to be and treated the kids that weren’t even his as if they were his own.  And it was my father who spent time with my brother and me; he didn’t hesitate taking us to parks, fairs, or amusement parks.  He always made time for us and was rarely ever too tired, or busy to spend time with us. If I ever get married and have kids I hope I’ll be half the father and the man that was and still is.

 

This is my mom way back when, it's the only good picture I have of her anymore.

This is my mom way back when, it’s the only good picture I have of her anymore.

 

My father was and still is my hero, the strongest man I’ll ever know and I’ll never forget the day when I saw him cry. He had come to pick me up the weekend after the divorce, because my mother had lied and manipulated the court to judge in her favor and won the custody battle over me. I didn’t have any say, I wasn’t allowed to speak up and because of that I only got to see my father every other weekend, or for weeks at a time once summer began. But the day I saw him dad cry, I have no words for it.  I was there at my grandma’s with him and I was playing contently on the couch across from him with my toys; he was talking to my grandmother about everything. I distinctly remembered the very words he spoke as I heard his voice crack for the very first time.

 

 

       “I don’t know what I’m going to do…and I miss her,” He spoke, choking back a sob. I knew the sound well, from all the times I tried holding back my tears and always failed so miserably. So I froze at first, not really knowing what to do, but I doped my toys and turned to my father, feeling my own heart shatter as I saw the tears streaming down his cheeks. A part of me knew this was an adult situation and was well beyond my understanding at the time. But I stood up all the same and walked solemnly over to him, wrapping my around his neck and I hugged him. I told him that everything would be okay and I loved him. He pulled his arms around me, clutching my little shoulders as he assured me that he knew and that he loved me too. We stayed there for a while, as he apologized and I could feel him shaking as he told me how sorry he was, that he tried his best to get me and failed. I did my best try and comfort him as he had comforted me so many countless times in the past. I never did stop missing him.

 

 

When I got home that weekend, I felt as if I had aged by ten years, I had so many things now rattling around inside my head, most of which I didn’t fully understand and at the time I still didn’t get how two people could fall out of love and how they could hurt each other so much. I was thinking about that and a dozen other things a child of six had no business thinking, or wondering about.  I did want to live with my dad, but at the same time I knew I would miss my brother, then there were my friends who I knew I’d never see again if I moved. I also believed that my mother could still love me, or so that’s what I wanted so desperately to believe. Even now I kick myself for not seeing things for how they were and it was strange to think that just a year prior I was with both my parents in my aunt’s car, driving to see my uncle Skip so he could show off his new boat.

 

We had spent most of the day driving around, so by the time we pulled up into the parking lot to meet him, my dad had popped out to get a coke because he was thirsty and I started to with him, when I was ordered to stay where I was. So naturally I protested, insisting I was thirsty all the while I was watching my dad on the off the chance my mother and her sister (my aunt Terry) would permit me to go. Instead Terry produced a clear glass bottle from under her seat and offered it to me.

 

I don’t know why the sight of the bottle made me immediately suspicious, or why I had that sickly feeling that something about it was wrong and I shouldn’t partake in its contents of whatever liquid that bottle held.

 

“No thanks, I don’t like it.” I said almost immediately, (mistake #1)

 

“How do you know you don’t like it?” My aunt asked.

 

“I just don’t….Please let me go with dad and get something to drink, I’m really thirsty.” I pleaded (mistake #2 for thinking they’d show me the slightest of mercies)

 

“Then you can’t be that thirsty,” My mother challenged and I looked at the bottle again, debating.

 

 “It’s either this or you have to wait till we meet up with Skip and see if he has any drinks on his boat,” My aunt said with mock sympathy. I knew what it was even then, for I had grown accustom to having an older brother who often got me in trouble or got me to do something I didn’t want to by speaking in the same tone.

 

“What is it?”  I asked, distrustfully trying to read the bottle and my aunt’s face, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was some sort of trick. (Which it was)

 

 

“Water,” My aunt (lied) as she held the bottle out to me again and I stared at it suspiciously, half expecting at any moment that one of them would laugh, or give something away to tell me this was all some sort of a joke they were playing on me.

 

          “It doesn’t look like water,” I commented, smiling and almost certain my they would tell me this was a joke now and they were just teasing me. (Mistake number 3) I should have known better and shouldn’t under estimate my mom or my aunt’s depravity.

 

 

         “It’s flavored water,” my mom answered.  (It wasn’t.)

 

Her answer gave me pause,  because I did see her and my aunt drinking flavored water on numerous occasions, however I knew those bottles were different, clear plastic with colored labels, and this one was in a glass bottle with a label I didn’t recognize. (Yeah, I couldn’t really read it, but give me a break I was five.)

 

“No thanks, can I please go with dad and get something?”  I pleaded, hoping I’d get permission before he returns, in which I knew would make the answer an definitive and resounding “No,” but I saw the anger flash across my mom’s face as she accused me of lying telling me if I was really thirsty I would drink what was being offered and wouldn’t be so picky.

 

 

“No, no, I’m not lying!” I protested, panic rising in my throat, with a strong suspicion that I was about to be smacked, (Because my mother had a penchant for hauling off and hitting us, my brother or me across the face, whenever we made her upset, often this would come without warning or provocation, such as at the dinner table whenever we sat our elbows on the table, or complained of being hot whenever we sat in the backseat of the car, or accidently bothered her on the wrong day.)

 

 

        “You’re getting the paddle when we get home,” She threatened and I paled,


 

       Long ago, my mother believed her hand was ineffective in beating us kids, so she commissioned my father to craft a wooden paddle, with the holes drilled into it to reduce wind resistance, and the electrical taped handle “for her comfort” she naturally didn’t want to risk getting splinters and for whatever the reason I recalled her beating me with that paddle quit frequently. (I feared the beatings from my mother way more than my father. For the few times I warranted a beating from my father, he would only do so with the greatest of reluctance and would only give me one or two swats to my backside and be done with it. My mother however was much more severe. She would deliver so many that I would lose count, hitting me as hard as she could with each swat, which often times left large and sometimes bleeding welts against my buttocks, my lower back, or the back of my legs whenever she missed. She didn’t much care for accuracy, she prided herself more on bending over her knee and hitting as wildly and as ferociously as she could and to this day I still remember the searing pain that would flair up whenever she struck my lower back, and/or the back of my legs. If I cried, or screamed out during any of this, she would beat me more until I didn’t make a noise, then God help me if later I retreated to my room and she heard me crying. Because she explode into my room, with a belt, or tear me out of my bed with her nails biting painfully into my arms and beat me until I promised to be quiet.

 

 

So now, when I find myself sitting in a car, listening to my mom tell me how she’s going to beat me when we get home for lying about how thirsty I was, I had little choice, but to prove my honesty by taking the bottle of whiskey from my aunt. I vaguely remember squeezing my noise as I brought the bottle to my lips, partly from the noxious smell of it and to help me not taste it, then I threw back my head, gulping down the contents. Almost immediately I heard my aunt squealing with delight,

 

 

 “Oh my god, he’s drinking it, he’s really drinking it,” She squealed excitedly.

 

 

  Then I heard my mother guffaw as the two laughed and it was then the taste hit me and I could feel my mouth and throat burning as if I was drinking liquid fire. My eyes bulge out as I threw the bottle away from me and immediately got sick all over my aunt’s new car.

 

 

         My father returned shortly thereafter, right as my mother was dragging me out of the car, so that I could finish throwing up outside the car, oppose to further ruining my the interior of my aunt’s car, with the last thing I remembered from that day being my dad going ballistic as he found out what happened and how he took care of me afterwards.

 

 

 Now, more than a year later, I finished spending that first weekend with my dad and I come into the house and overhear my older brother, Dominic asking my mother why Robert, (My dad) didn’t take him away for the weekend too. I too was curious so I ease dropped and heard her explain that my father wasn’t his real father and that he was from her previous marriage and that he wasn’t Robert’s son, only I was (meaning me)

 

 

“Why?” He asked pitifully, adding how much he had loved and cared for my father. What I heard next chilled me to my core and left me feeling overwhelming pity for my older brother, as my mother said,

 

 

“Because he doesn’t love you, he never loved you, just like how your real father didn’t want you. I’m the only one who loves you, I’m the only who cares about you and wants you.”

 I slipped away after that, I felt ashamed, guilty and confused. My heart went out to my older brother with the only thing I knew for certain was that what she said to him was wrong.  I didn’t say for certain, but I knew she was being a liar, because I remembered my father and he treated my brother no different than me.  But I still searched and long for the truth. Often I would ask my dad, I saw my dad if he reason why he never picked my brother up along with me was because he didn’t love or want him and every time he had told me that he couldn’t gain custody of Dominic because he wasn’t his son and the lawyers wouldn’t allow it, but he still tried. Truthfully, my dad did care for my brother and for years would ask me about him, wanting to know what he was up too and what how he’d been. A few times he did try to see him as well as me, but my mother would never allow it. It still pains my heart to this day knowing that my brother’s opinion of my father is based solely on lies.