30 Day Writing Challenge: Day Three

Day Three: Describe Your Relationship With Your Parents

This topic is a little more in depth and probably a little more involved than I imagine the rest of the writing topics will be.  One thing I need to practice on as a writer is being comfortable with being open and honest about my life, and that means being open and honest with my writing.  I know more people will be able to relate to the fully detailed truth than they would be a condensed, censored version of the story.  I’m going to break down my relationships with each parent considering my mother and father have both remarried and my step mother and step father have both been in my life for 20 years.  Let me take this time to say that I know I do not have the worst parents in the world; I know they did all they could do at the time to ensure my happiness and wellbeing.  I am healthy and I have never gone a day without food or shelter.  I was never sexually abused by any one of my family members, and that in itself is enough for me to be grateful for having them in my life.  Since I am being so honest and open, all I ask is for any readers to appreciate my vulnerability and the courage it took me to write this, and I ask that no one pass judgment for the things I say.  Also, if there is anyone who relates to the ways that I feel with each one of my parents, feel free to let me know; I always appreciate being reached out to.

My Mother and I…

I suppose it’s only right to start this out with the woman who carried me for nine months and gave birth to my eight pound, chubby ass self.  I am my mothers last child, as she had four other girls before me.  Yes, that’s right… FOUR girls.  My oldest sister is fifteen years older than me.  As I’m sure many people feel this way about their mothers, I believe my mother is the strongest woman I know personally.  The things she had to struggle with throughout her life leave me amazed that she conquered through them and is still here today.  I know that life was never truly a breeze for her and that she didn’t seem to have things easy.  She always worked hard for what she had and still remains to do so to this day.

As I explained above, I am the youngest of five girls.  By the time I was born, I’m pretty sure my mom was checked out when it came to having the energy to raise another child.  Anyone who has taken at least one course in psychology knows that the bond between a baby and their mother is extremely detrimental to the child’s psyche as they grow older.  Babies and children absolutely need that intimate connection with their mother in order to develop in a healthy way.  It builds a clear understanding about what love is in the world. Looking back, I understand everything that my mother had to do in order to support her extremely large family.  She worked a lot of overtime and when I was younger, and she worked third shift.  She was constantly tired and overworked, leaving her miserable most of the time, but it was something she had to do in order to ensure her family had food on the table and roof over their heads.

A lot of my childhood memories are filled with my older sisters babysitting my sister, Caitlin, and I.  Caitlin is only fourteen months older than I am, so we both needed to be cared for and watched after.  My father had left our house when I was probably only three (I’ll get to his story later) and my step dad came along shortly after (another story that will be saved until it’s his time).  My oldest sister, Michelle, would regularly have us at her house since she moved out with her boyfriend when she was 18.  Michelle picked me up and dropped me off to a lot of things, such as school.  Most of my memories with my mother at that age involve me trying very desperately for her love and attention, but she was usually so worn out from working a double that all she wanted to do was sleep.  Numerous times when Michelle would come pick me up from school, I would begin crying hysterically because all I wanted was my mother to come and pick me up.  She would make empty promises to me that she would indeed be picking me up, but whenever work needed her to come in early, or she just needed a few extra hours of sleep, I was left extremely disappointed at the end of each school day.

When my mother met my step father, things seemed to be going pretty well for a brief time.  He was younger than her and just beginning his career as an engineer, so she was able to switch her shifts for work and be home more often.  At first, I was thrilled at the thought of having my mother home, and finally getting to spend time with her, but I was left extremely disappointed.  My mother started to have weekends off from work, and instead of spending quality time taking me to do things, playing with me, or simply sitting around talking, she would make road trips to New Jersey to see her sister, my Aunt Martha.  Many times myself and my other sisters would accompany her during these trips, but even so, we were left to find things to entertain ourselves while the grownups sat around and hung out together.  While I understand that it’s important to give your children independence and have them understand that they need their own personal time as well, what I didn’t understand (and still don’t to this day) is why she couldn’t take one weekend to spend time with me.  I believe this is what sent me into my needy, attention seeking ways.

As I desperately wanted my mother’s attention, I was trying so hard that I believe I began to push her away in the process.  Although a child doesn’t necessarily push their parent away at such a young age because of their actions, I just honestly believe that my mother never had time for herself when she was younger.  She was married at 18 and by 19 she had her first child, and she was constantly raising children until I came along.  I think she felt like she truly missed out on her freedom and independence.  I know that she loves her children and always has, but I believe the fact that she never had time to have fun and make mistakes sent her into a depression and by the time I came along, she felt as though she deserved that time.

I can remember so many times when my mother would have time off and would either go out or go on mini vacations with my aunt and her friends.  I would sit on the floor, bawling my eyes out, begging her to let me come with her and coldly, she would tell me to stop and that she would be home when she was home.  And when she was home, I would overwhelm her with my presence.  I tried all I could to find things to relate to her.  She was a nurse, so I would make up illnesses strictly because she would take care of me.  I would go in and ask her questions just to have five minutes of her focusing on me and teaching me things.  Eventually, she grew tiresome of these antics.  Whenever I would claim to be sick, she would very seldom believe me, and whenever I had a question, she would become annoyed and give me a short answer and tell me to go back to my room.

I so desperately wanted nothing but her love my entire life.  Things were hard for she and I as I got older.  We never really had that mother and daughter connection, and while I was a good and honest kid, I was frequently depressed and would throw fits because she and I had such a hard time communicating.  As I grew older, I stopped going to my mother whenever I had a question.  I never went to her when I experienced my first heart break.  I never told her about any boys I had a crush on and I never asked her any advice on what I should do about boys in general.  Whenever I had problems with my friends, she was never my go-to person.  I would suffer these problems alone, in my room, by myself.  She never knew that at 10 years old is when I first had a passing thought about committing suicide.  A matter of fact, she did, but it wasn’t because I told her.

I had told one of my friends how depressed I was feeling and how sometimes I just wanted to jump off my roof into my pool (which would have done nothing more than maybe break both of my legs).  Scared, my friend went to the guidance counselor and told them about what I had said, and I was called in, as was my mother.  When I explained to her that I didn’t truly want to kill myself, but that I was indeed feeling sad and like I couldn’t come to her, she was more angry than concerned.  I explained to her my trouble with my step dad, that she knew full and well, and she brushed it off as if it were not a big deal.  Just like when I was a kid, she seemed annoyed with my problems and that I had taken time out of her day for something so ridiculous.  From that experience, I learned to keep my mouth completely shut about my problems.

A lot of my teenage years were filled with confusion, and the only advice I received was from my completely uneducated friends.  My mother didn’t know that I sat in my room most nights crying myself to sleep.  My mother didn’t know that the new clothes she bought me didn’t cure my broken heart.  My mother didn’t know that at 12 I had put a razor blade to my wrist and released my anger for the first time.  My mother didn’t know that when I was 13, I started to count my calories.  At 15, she had no clue I shoved my finger down my throat for the first time.  At 16, she didn’t know that I was completely falling apart and had my heart broken numerous times by boys. At 18, she didn’t know that I completely despised her.  At 21, she didn’t know that as I downed alcohol and experimented with drugs because I just needed to feel something and that something was her love.

Not until recently did she know why it was I even sought out counseling.  She didn’t try to understand why I felt so depressed.  She didn’t understand what was giving me panic attacks and making me contemplate ending my life once more.  She didn’t even know that I still suffered from everything I dealt with alone since I was 10.  One day, while talking with her and Michelle, we discussed therapy and I, for the second time, tried explaining to my mother about my disorder.  Although I have told her numerous times before that my psychiatrist had diagnosed me with Borderline/Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, she didn’t think any of it was true.  She didn’t even try to ask me what exactly it was, and she didn’t take the time to research it on her own so she could understand.  Instead, she downplayed my feelings that she knew absolutely nothing about, and instead told me she thought I was just going through something “everyone goes through.”  She didn’t support me.  She didn’t even care to know.

As I sat there and brought up the subject yet again, she finally asked more about what it even was.  I explained to her very vaguely the times I would go days without eating, the times where when I would eat, I shoved my fingers down my throat, the times when I would sit in my room crying and cutting myself.  I could see the pain in her eyes.  I could hear it in her voice.  She began to instantly cry and I begged her to please not get upset.  All she could say was, “I am your mother.  How did I not know?”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was because I needed her when I was growing up.  I didn’t have the heart to say it was because I didn’t feel like I could trust her, or that she wouldn’t care.  I explained to her that it was a mixture of what my step father did to me for years, and the fact that she was never around.  She sat and cried, cradling her head in her hands and blaming herself.  It was never my goal to get her to feel like shit about herself.  I just wanted her to hear me for once in my life, and after 21 long years, she finally did.

Things with my mother have definitely gotten better within the last two years.  I know that we need to go to therapy together in order for us to form the bond we should have 23 years ago, but I’m honestly just glad that she and I can be civil to each other and that she at least understands that it isn’t just teenage angst that makes me act the way I do, but because I have a problem I’m working hard on overcoming.  I still don’t feel comfortable running to her whenever I feel depressed or feel like I don’t want to be in my own skin, but I am comfortable at least in talking about other aspects of my life.  I know that she loves me and I know that if she could, she would go back 23 years and completely change our relationship.  I know that everything my mother did do was because she loved me, and I now understand that just because she was dealing with things on her own, doesn’t mean she loved me any less than her other daughters.

My Father and I…

Whenever I think about memories with my father when I was a little girl, an enormous smile spreads across my face and I am filled with happy, loving times.  My father was never perfect, just like every other human being in the world.  He was young when my mother got pregnant with my sister, Caitlin.  I believe he was only about 22 or 23 years old by the time she and I were both born.  Although it seems now-a-days, it’s relatively common for people to be unmarried, yet having multiple children at such a young age, during that time, it was a little more out of the norm.  I can’t imagine how much of a change it was for him to come into a house with a woman who already has three children, and then bring two more into the world.  I know my mother and father probably regret being together, but I also know they don’t regret getting Caitlin and I out of the whole mess.

One of the first memories of my father isn’t a very pleasant one, but I was very young and gullible at the time.  Until almost ten years ago, I was unaware of my father being kicked out of the house due to him being arrested for possession of marijuana.  I was around three when he spent a month or two in jail, and thankfully my mother took Caitlin and I to visit him.  I know, how can I be thankful for getting to spend quality time with my father in jail?  Honestly, I never looked at it like that because I truly didn’t have a clue.  I remember the first visit, I was sitting across from my dad and he was being his normal, happy self, and I asked, “Why can’t I stay here with you?”  I suppose I had thought he was staying in a hotel.  He told me that I wouldn’t want to stay there because they give him giraffe skin for dinner.  Being a toddler, of course I was thinking, “Well no way, then!”

But that’s just like my father; he always has a way of making tough situations seem so lighthearted and tries to make you see the positivity lying in the horizon.  Naturally, my mother and father didn’t stay together once he was released from jail, and truthfully I’m glad because I know they were not meant to be together.  Despite having his own problems, my father always made it a point to pick us up on his scheduled weekends.  He was never one of those dads whose sole purpose was basically to be a little extra cash on the side from the child support.  He loved being a dad, and we loved having him as our dad.

I absolutely loved spending time with him.  While most of the time he was the type of dad who constantly had us laughing, playing games, and always seemed to be smiling, he definitely made it clear that he was indeed our father.  He disciplined us the way a parent should.  We were never allowed to talk back to him, or anyone for that matter.  He gave us strict chores and made we stayed out of trouble.  Whenever we had homework while we were at his house (even up until high school), he made sure to check it to make sure that we actually completed it and completed it correctly.  When he married my step mother, she had two children of her own so he took on the role as step father to them.  They both made sure that we all shared the TV, video games, computer, books… anything.  Despite having such strict rules, Caitlin and I truly enjoyed every moment we spent there.

As I grew older, I always felt comfortable talking to my father.  Even though I didn’t discuss with him problems I was suffering that would have completely  crushed him, I felt comfortable talking to him about problems with my friends, and even asking him advice about boys.  He was always a very realistic father.  Despite going years telling Caitlin and I that we weren’t allowed to start dating until we were married, and that even then we weren’t allowed to have sex, he knew that those wishes are unrealistic and that eventually they were inevitable.  I honestly believed my father was my best friend.

He always made me feel some sense of self worth.  He never failed to tell me how beautiful I was.  He never failed to tell me how special and important I was to him.  He always called and told Caitlin and I how much he loved us.  Whenever I felt insecure, he would lift me up and give me reasons to feel confident.  I could feel my father’s love my entire life.  But like I previously stated, no one is perfect and I would eventually learn that the hard way.

When I was about 16 and a sophomore in high school, my father was splashed all over the front page for what felt like forever.  The reason?  He was arrested, yet again, for the possession of marijuana and for distributing.  My father was no king pin; he didn’t made a killing from selling weed and to be honest I had no clue it was even going on.  My father never let us into that part of his life, and even more truthfully, I don’t feel ashamed anymore for what he did.  He wasn’t out selling cocaine.  He didn’t kill anybody.  He wasn’t a bad person.  For those who so desperately believe weed is such an abomination, I beg you to look up your facts that back up your argument and then come back to me.  Even at that time, I knew weed wasn’t bad.  I was just shocked and upset that my father had been caught and it was made so public.

I remember the day he told me like it was yesterday.  Before the story had hit the papers, one of my friends has heard about it and told my step sister, Jess, and I.  We immediately rushed over to the house and asked my father and step mom was was going on.  With tears in his eyes, my father’s voice cracked as he explained to me what was going on.  That was the first time in my life I had ever seen my father cry.  The only other time was just recently when my grandmother, his mother, passed away.  He kept apologizing for letting me down.  Because he had taught me my entire life about forgiveness and what it means to be sorry, the only reaction I had was to hug him and let him know he could never in a million years let me down and that I loved him more than anything.

My father served his time, and has been out of trouble ever since.  Despite what others in my hometown may think of him, or even me just because I’m his daughter, my love for him will never fade.  As of lately, we haven’t spent as much time together as I’d like, and we don’t talk on the phone even remotely close to what we used to, but the bond we developed when I was a little girl will forever remain so important to me.  He was the one who taught me to be light hearted.  He was the one who taught me to be who I am, and to enjoy and appreciate life.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like if my father didn’t show me unconditional love.  I know how important it is to have a male figure in your life, especially one that is so loving and involved.  I am grateful that he didn’t hold to the stereotype of the “sperm donor dad” who couldn’t give a shit what their children are up to, let alone be a part of their lives.

My Step Father…

I hate speaking negatively about someone who was so detrimental to the success in my life.  I hate feeling the way I do about someone who came into a life that must have been so hard to transition into and make your own.  So, I’ll start out by saying I hate the relationship I’ve always had with my step father.  I would love to say I know that he loves me, but to be honest, I’m never totally 100% sure.  While I know he cares about my well being, and there are times when we will exchange a hug and tell each other we love the other, but it has always felt so awkward.  Our relationship has seemed to always be a struggle, and I hope that one day, eventually, we can put the past behind us and develop a more comfortable relationship.

Like I said, he came into a life that I know couldn’t have been easy.  He is more than ten years younger than my mom, and when they met, she had five children.  He came into our lives and had to make himself a spot in it.  In the beginning, things were actually quite amazing.  He got along with my sisters and I tremendously.  There are times I can recall where he’d play ridiculous and childish games with us.  He would pretend to be dead and while I sat there smacking him, yelling his name, he’d spring up and pretend he was a vampire, sending me screaming and laughing until he caught me.  I truly adored him, and he made me feel safe.

I’m not exactly sure when the tides began to change and things took a turn for the worst.  While it was slow, it seems as if it was in the blink of an eye.  It started out with my mother and him fighting, and I would sit in my room with my sister, Caitlin, and we would stay quiet, waiting for them to become quiet themselves.  We never really understood what it was they were fighting about, but being that we were so young, we stayed out of it.  Eventually, the anger they felt for each other boiled over and he started to take it out on me, Caitlin, and our other sister, Sarah.  Luckily, Sarah was old enough to fill her time with numerous activities, but being that we were so young, my step father started watching over us most of the time.  My mother finally worked first shift, but there would be times when they needed her to stay overtime or fill in other shifts when they were desperate for coverage.

I suppose that since he couldn’t take his anger and frustration out on my mother, he began to take it out on us.  I can recall times when he would become so outraged from the simplest of things.  One time, it was because I was learning how to tie my shoes, and he became so frustrated at the fact that I couldn’t get it down within a few tries, that he began screaming at me and simply gave up.  I didn’t understand why I made him so upset, but at such a young age, I felt like a complete failure.  I sat on the bed, tears soaking my cheeks, and tried as hard as I could to tie my shoes so I could show him that teaching me wasn’t pointless.  He made me so fearful of failure and letting him down, that I eventually became to fear him in general.

Another time I can recall vividly is when he was helping me with my math homework and, being that I have always been absolutely terrible at math and he’s an engineer, he didn’t try to give any positive reinforcement for when the lightbulb would finally click and I understood what he was teaching me.  One night, after trying to explain long division to me, and even though I was trying as hard as I could to get it right, the Devil inside of him made its presence and he began screaming at me.  He would say things such as, “If you don’t get this right, I’m going to bash your fucking head on this table!  What are you stupid?!”  Needless to say, my focus would be completely shattered and I hated myself for being so seemingly dumb and overwhelmingly upset at the fact that he just didn’t seem to understand me.

Other times, while cleaning, he would pull my hair back and tell me to get it right or I’d regret it.  Another time after that, he became so outrage at Sarah and I, that he threw the butcher knife he was cooking with right toward us.  I swear it completely changed my outlook on him for what feels like forever.  I no longer felt safe around him; I no longer trusted him.  We stopped laughing and having good times together.  Every time we were around each other, the air would fill with hostility.  I would begin to hide under the dining room table, or rush up to my room whenever he came home from work.  We no longer held conversations, but instead would be full-blown arguments.

The story could go extremely more in depth.  I’m sure I could write an entire book solely on the relationship between my step father and I.  Basically, the relationship I share with him today has definitely changed from the times when I was younger.  Maybe it’s because he decided to seek help for his actions.  Maybe because he got his bipolar disorder under control.  Maybe it’s because he realized that I’m not a little girl anymore.  I’m not sure the exact reasons.  There are instances when he and I will have a few days where we seem to be getting along surprisingly well, and things seem as though they’re looking up; but it doesn’t take long until we’re back to being distant and cold to each other.  I suppose I can be grateful for the fact that it doesn’t result in screaming matches and physically threatening me.

And I can’t lie when I say once more that I am even more grateful for the support he has given me throughout my entire life.  My dad never held a job where the income was anything substantial, so the fact that my step father took that role of finically supporting me and making sure that I had all I needed.  I know that in some piece of his heart, he does hold a true love for me, just as I know I must have it for him.  I don’t hold hostility against him, and I still try to make sure he doesn’t see me as any less than I know I am.  Whenever I get married, I do intend to have him along with my father walk me down the aisle.  He deserves that at the very least.

My Step Mother and I…

I know this section will be generally short, and that’s not because she and I don’t share an amazing relationship.  I am very fortunate that she loved me as nothing less than her own child.  She was truly a blessing.  She and my father met while they were in high school, but hadn’t talked for many years on the count of they were both starting families with other people.  Before she and my father reunited, my father had met a woman after he and my mother had split up.  She lived in Maryland, and my dad moved in with her; that never stopped my father from picking us up on his scheduled weekends (another thing I admire him greatly for).

Her name was Jaimie and, in my five year old mind, I thought she was the best thing to ever happen.  She welcomed my sister, Caitlin, and I with open arms.  Whenever we came down to stay with her and my father, she always smothered us with love and affection.  Not long after they were together, she and my father got pregnant with my brother, Dylan.  I can not truly put into words that are significant enough to express the excitement I felt when I first heard this news.  I had been the baby of the family for the past five years, and instead of being bitter at the fact that I would no longer hold that title, I could not contain my anticipation.  Flashbacks run through my mind of the times when I would lie on the couch and put my head against her belly, singing to him and telling him how I couldn’t wait to be his big sister.

Eventually Dylan was born and, without going into too many details that are too personal for me to share, she left my dad for the man she was priorly married to.  I didn’t even get to spend a year with him.  But more importantly, my father had his only son ripped away from him.

**Small disclaimer… my father fought hard for his custody but circumstances led to another, and he was forced to sign over his parental rights and my brother doesn’t even know we exist.  This was completely against our will, and we all still have pictures of him throughout his life that a family friend gave to us.**

Anyway, my father was obviously crushed far more than I will ever really know.  And in came, Alice, my step mother.  From the very beginning, I loved her despite being crushed about the fact that a woman who I thought cared about me, completely left my life without so much as a goodbye.  She and my father settled down very quickly.  Alice has two daughters of her own, who were very close in age to Caitlin and I, which made things even better.  I can’t recall a time when Alice ever treated me as anything less than one of her own.  She showed me so much love and compassion, and I felt so easily comfortable with her.  I could confide in her about many things, and she always tried her best to understand where I was coming from.

I grew so close with her, it only felt right to call her mom because while I was at their house, she was my mother figure during that time.  Despite any struggles she and my father went through, she always assured me that despite anything that may happen, she would always be a part of my life, and I would always be her daughter.  I know the whole portrayal of an “evil step mother”, but I was lucky enough to have a woman in my life that was anything but evil.  Her outgoing nature and her love for life and all things always inspired me, and she made me break the shy tendencies I held for so many years.

To this day, despite the fact that the years have gone by, and everyone has become more obligated to jobs and other aspects in their lives, she never fails to remind me of how much she loves me.  Whether it be a simple text, or a call, she always makes sure I never forget how important I am to her.  And she will always be so important to me.

As I stated in the beginning, all I ask is to read this with an open heart instead of passing any judgements.  No family is perfect, and everyone deals with their own demons.  I am thankful that I am able to accept that whatever negative things happened in the past, will always remain in the past.  I love my family so deeply, and I am thankful that instead of having parents who didn’t care enough to recognize some things have to change, we are all willing to work toward maintaining a positive relationship.  I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for these four, very important people in my life.  I would rather fill myself with love and working toward maintaining positive future, than to wallow in the past and become hung up on things that can not be changed.

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