As is the case with almost everyone I have met recently, my situation is very unique. There are a couple of factors that allow for the individuality of my past, and fortunately, one of those is the fact that I am currently able to maintain relationships with both of my parents, and both of my step parents. I was born into a marriage which quickly disintegrated when I was two years old. My parents probably never should have entertained a marriage, but luckily for me, they did, thus I have had the chance to live my unusual life. However, their marriage was full of conflict, and pain.
Their divorce was bloody, and the aftermath of their choice to split gave way for the ‘trickle down’ effect to take a strong hold on their communication efforts in regards to a split custody agreement. I spent the next four years with each of them for two weeks at a time. I attended a private school, and was able to maintain healthy friendships with friends at both households, and at school; yet there was always tension between the two of them.
When I was seven years old, a series of horrible events in my mother’s life led her to make the decision to leave my home state. Despite the fact that the custody agreement stated that the parent residing in the state would obtain sole custody, my father agreed that it would be best for me to stay with my mother, and allowed her to take me to another state to live. We returned to my home state for a visit with my father and new step mother at Christmas. It was during this vacation time that I decided that I would like to try to live with them for a year, and see how things went. My mother reluctantly agreed, but asked for me to spend the remainder of our trip out there with her at a friend’s house where she had been staying.
The few days passed, and soon came the night my mother was to leave to return to the new state. She asked her long-time boyfriend to accompany her to the airport, and transport me to my father’s house after her flight departed. Strangely enough to me, she asked me to bring all of my Christmas presents with me to the airport, as she thought that it would keep me occupied in the event of any delay time prior to her taking off.
When we arrived at the airport, we sat for a short time before she was to board. She then asked me to walk her onto the plane, and say good-bye to her at the seat. I agreed, as this was the norm when I flew alone, and felt no threat due to this request. Once on board, she buckled me into a seat, and blocked the aisle to my exit. She explained to me that she would like me to be buckled in, in case the plane made a sudden jolt…yes, while it was parked at the gate. I started to scream, so she held me down and tried to comfort me, telling me that she loved me and that I had to go with her.
A stewardess came to the back of the plane and explained to my mother that the captain was ready to leave, and that they could not take off with me acting up in such a way. She told my mother that she had to either calm me down, or we would have to get off the plane. I immediately piped in, telling the stewardess that I was not supposed to be on the plane, and that I needed to get off to go with my father. The stewardess then told my mother that we were going to be escorted off of the plane to handle the matter. My mother protested, by saying that there was a deputy in the terminal ensuring that I in fact would be getting on the plane, and that she was removing me from an abusive situation. The stewardess left, and the plane took off with me still screaming. There was no deputy. The man in the terminal was her boyfriend.
We landed, and went back to our apartment that night. Weeks passed before I was able to have any contact with my father and step mother, and it was also weeks before I could bring myself to speak to my mother. I didn’t even want to look at her. I would lock myself in my room, and even in one instance, when I was in a great deal of physical pain, due to a minor injury, I wouldn’t tell her what happened, or how badly it hurt, because I was so angry at her.
We spent two years crossing the states to avoid being found. I changed schools three times, and each new place we went to I lost that much more of the life I had prior to these events. By the time I entered my third school in third grade, I had only one pair of pants, one pair of shoes, one pair of socks, two shirts, and one sweater. We had gone from living in a million dollar home, with my mother owning a successful business, to living in our car at times, and scraping by with little means. I ate many a dinner of potato leek soup and day old bread, as it was so cheap to make, and to this day, have sworn off the stuff.
The situation was long and grueling, and I found myself trying to become anything but the person I was, living the reality of knowing that I could no longer even remember what my father looked like. I had heard his voice only a few times in two years, and every letter that I was able to get through a chain of my mother’s supporters, who would accept mail, and then send it to a P.O. box in another state for us, only reminded me of how much I was hating my mother, and how I wanted to be with my father.
After several attempts to see my father being halted at the last moment for some reason or another, I was finally sent back for a short visit with he and my stepmother. It was during this first visit that they really got a glimpse of the person I had become in order to hide the pain and frustration I was feeling. I lied about everything to everyone. I never wanted any of my friends to know what had happened. I didn’t understand the dynamics of our situation very well, and the last thing that I wanted was to be ‘different’.
Well, I was different. I have blocked out a lot of the memories, but here and there they will still creep up on me, and I feel a well of emotion when I think about how hard it must have been on my father to wonder if he’d ever see me again. It was hard for me, too, because I wondered time and time again if he was even looking for me. I knew that he worked for a law enforcement agency, and I knew that he had the ability to ‘pull strings’ in an attempt to find me. So why didn’t someone find me?
That thought echoes in my mind still. I know now, however, that my father didn’t do more to legally find me, because he knew that finding me with my mother, rather than my mother rationally deciding to patch their agreement and return me to my father, would ultimately lead to my mother going to jail or worse, prison. I know now that he was patient because he cared enough for me to realize that it would do more harm for me to see my mother spending her life or part of it in a correctional facility. I remember sitting in a classroom one day, looking out the window, and glancing back at the door, hoping that someone would find me and take me back to my father. I used to think that if I could just make it through one more day in the life I was in, that they would find me the next.
While my mother never discussed the accusations she had referenced on the plane, we also have never discussed her actions. The accusations were a ploy to appeal to the instinct of the stewardess, and nothing other than slanderous remarks made to hasten the decision to let the plane take off. Nothing ever happened, my mother just couldn’t bear to leave me, and live alone.
The years have presented many obstacles with regard to all of the feelings that I have for so long oppressed. My stepfather has tried on many occasions to get me to talk to my mother about the impact her decisions have made on my life. My mother is a very strong person, but she would be weakened very easily by the truth of my feelings. I have never spoken to her about what it has done to me, but I feel that I will one day, perhaps when I feel she is ready. I don’t want the emotions to come out while I’m angry with her (which tends to be often, thus the need for me to let her know why I have no patience with her), yet if they come out in ‘the heat of the moment’, I feel that she will dismiss them as harsher than I intend, and will as she always does, explain her actions away as ‘the appropriate thing to do’ in the instance she was presented. She feels she did do the right thing, for if I were to have stayed with my father, I would have lived the oppressive life one supposedly ‘lives in a Mormon household’. It’s interesting how she attempted to avoid this feeling, yet planted the seed for it in me.
My teen years were very difficult. I was an angry person for a very long time. I realized finally, that I could be the person I am. I am a good person, and I strive to do good things, and just because my past is filled with hurt, and shame, it doesn’t mean that I have to let that continue.
I became a mother 2 1/2 years ago, and my senses have been significantly heightened since my daughter was born. I am a single parent, and have felt the ‘abandonment’ issues again with regard to my daughter’s father; but have striven to realize and live through the reminder that I, too, am a strong person, and I can provide what my daughter needs. I lived with my mother and my stepfather through most of my pregnancy, and the early months of my daughter’s infancy. These months were hard, but I think harder because I didn’t allow them to help me with my daughter at all.
I not only feared that I wouldn’t be properly prepared to live alone should I let them bear some of the burden of her care, but I was also very scared of their ability to undermine my abilities and more importantly, assess my abilities and determine (falsely) that I was an unfit mother for some reason. Out of nowhere one day, my mother blatantly told me that if she ever found evidence that I were a delinquent mother, she would take my daughter from me without a second thought, and that I’d never see her again, because she would leave the country with her.
That comment was scary enough for me to pack my bags, and move out soon after. I have never, and will never allow myself to do anything that would subsequently remand the rights and custody of my child to anyone. I live for my daughter, she is my every happiness, and I will absolutely never do anything to jeopardize our relationship or her. It strikes me as sick and odd that my mother would even dare make a comment of that nature, but then again, we’re talking about the same woman who took me away from my father. While one could say that she was just being a protective grandmother, I have seen actions on her part (or non actions) that have allowed for me to not trust leaving my daughter with this side of my family. It is definitely a horrible feeling to know that you don’t want your own flesh and blood to have an opportunity to be alone with your child.
So many people make comments about how great it must be to have ‘grandma and grandpa so close by’, they think that I just live this carefree life of a regular young adult who decides to just have a baby and let their parents raise the child. This is so not the case with me. I made the decision to have my child, and raise her; not carry her in my body and throw her at the will of who ever is available. Much less do I want to worry about her while I am supposedly ‘out having fun’. These days my social life consists of a Saturday matinee (some sort of Disney movie in my living room with my daughter); it’s now my socially elite mixer of choice. I feel that this is the correct decision for me to make, however, and don’t regret for a single second, the decisions I have made. Now that my daughter is here, I can’t imagine doing anything like what my mother did. She must have been desperate.
I was never beaten, and I was never abandoned. I was a latch-key kid, though, and I remember the regular routine of waking myself up, getting to school, coming home, making dinner, and sometimes even going to bed before I’d see my mother. I spent a lot of time alone, and I had no friends. I was scared to have friends. I thought that if I did befriend people, that then I’d be honest with them, and one of two things would happen 1) they’d think I was a liar, and that nothing that had happened to me could possibly happen to a child, much less that person admit it OR 2) that my mother would be arrested, and that then I’d lose her too. Many of the memories, and feelings were hidden for so long. Now that they’re coming to the surface, I’ve seen how much better I actually feel to let them go. I continue to try to learn the truths of my past, and have been building relationships back up for years. Clearly, there will probably always be pain, but I know that I can help soothe my own pain by continuing to give my daughter the happiness that she deserves, a well rounded life with feelings of security.