Like I said in my third blog post, I’m going to tell you about myself up to where we are now. It’s a rather long story, so bear with me.
My mom and dad got married in the mid-1980’s; my mom was a junior in high school, and my dad was in college. They’re both from the same hometown (now about 18,000 people), and both of their parents owned small businesses in the community. My mom had two sisters (both already married), and my dad had a sister (in late middle school) and a brother (a college graduate working in retail). Even though both of my parents’ parents were still married, my dad’s parents were estranged; my grandfather used to be an abusive alcoholic, and so they slept in separate bedrooms.
I don’t know a whole lot about my parents’ married life prior to when I was born, but I do know that my mom and dad finished their respective schooling, my dad got a corporate business job, and they moved a couple of states away. My mom was unhappy living apart from her parents and sisters, but my dad was making decent money. She stayed. That was when I was born.
My mom always worked in preschools, so that I’d be close by no matter where we moved. (We made three big moves to three different states before I was five years old.) I don’t remember much from that time, other than a few random memories, like the orange tabby cat we used to have that chased me around the apartment and sitting on the porch balcony blowing bubbles when I got the chicken pox.
Eventually, we moved back to where my parents both grew up and into a condominium. I can remember playing on the swing set my parents put together outside and watching my dad sew some dresses for me with a sewing machine in the garage, including my baptismal gown. I remember playing a dinosaur museum game on our computer that ran the Windows 95 operating system, and it always scared the bejeezus out of me. Once, I got food poisoning from eating fish sticks and vomited everywhere in our downstairs half bath. I wouldn’t eat fish for years afterward. I also remember the night that my dad sat me down and told me that he and my mom were getting a divorce. I didn’t know what that meant, but by the way he said it, I knew it was bad. I started crying. Then one day, after my mom and dad threw stuff at each other (including pots and pans), we moved out.
My dad lived in another town away, and I would go see him every other weekend. My mom and I moved into my grandparents’ house. I was in first grade.
Around that time, my dad met a woman, and they began dating. She was nice. She didn’t have any of her own kids, but she was good with me. They moved to another state a few months later because of my dad’s job, and that’s when I would only see him a couple times between summer vacation and Christmas and the next summer vacation. I’d spend several weeks with him during the summer and Christmas.
My mom also met a man around this time. He was a nice enough person, also without any of his own children. Sometimes I would be alone with them at my grandparents’ house, and they’d go into the bedroom without me and shut the door. I didn’t know what was going on, but I was afraid and upset because I had no one to play with or talk to. They decided to get married a few months later. I remember going to a pastor’s house with just the two of them, and when he gave my mom her ring, he gave me a tiny one, too.
That was the year that we moved into a single-wide trailer on the other side of the county, and I began second grade at a new elementary school. Things seemed okay. I had my own bedroom, my own bathroom, and a “play room” next to those in which I’d actually sleep. It was nice.
Even so, my mom tried to get me to call my stepdad “Dad.” I refused because I already had a dad. Then, my stepdad and my mom wouldn’t let me talk to my dad over the phone. I guess the court got involved because that didn’t last very long. My dad was furious, and life at home started to seem like I was like always walking on eggshells.
My new stepdad was strict, compared to what I was used to. I was never allowed to have friends over at our house. I could never have anything sweet to eat until after I finished dinner, which I had to eat all of or else get in trouble. I had to take a bath and go to bed at the same time every night. If I ever did anything he didn’t like, he’d sit me down for hours and lecture me. In the end, I’d get the choice of being grounded or getting a whoopin’, and I’d usually choose the latter since it would all finally be over until the next time. All in all, it doesn’t seem that bad, typing it all out like this, but when my mom began working second shift, I was only around my stepdad after school. It was like my mom wasn’t even there.
When I was ten and nearing the end of my fourth grade year, I got a terrible stomach virus after coming back from a weekend visit to my grandparents’ (dad’s parents’) house. My stomach had been hurting ever since I came home, but I kept up my little daily routine. After taking a bath, I started to brush my teeth. Then, I started getting violently sick. After I had finished, I shakily went to tell my mom and stepdad what had happened. He was extremely angry at me when he found out that I didn’t even throw up in the toilet, and he threatened me that I’d have to go eat it rather than make my mom clean it up. I got sick again several times that night, each time unable to make it to the toilet. I went to the doctor, and he gave me an antiemetic that I had to rub into my wrists.
I became afraid of throwing up after that. For months, I would barely eat anything because I didn’t want to vomit again. During that summer, my dad and (now) stepmom took me to Disney World for my first visit, thanks to the generosity of my stepmom’s rich stepmom. I couldn’t enjoy it, though, because I was constantly afraid of getting sick again. I lost so much weight in the months that followed, that my mom forced me to drink Ensure each morning before I went to school during fifth grade. Panic attacks became the norm, and I coped with them by thinking about calming ocean waves until they subsided.
I still have a phobia of vomiting to this very day…