Alright, this is it. Not only is this going to be the last Friday post, but I’m also going to talk about the event that I’ve hinted at and avoided a few times now, what happened to me in 8th grade that started me down a path of suicidal thoughts and bipolar behavior. But first, I need to explain everything I can about what lead up to that event (Side note though, I’m referring to my mom’s first husband and my biological father as “birth father” and my mom’s second husband as “dad”).
When I was three years old, my mother and birth father divorced. Because my mom didn’t have a job (or a good lawyer) she became the secondary parent to my brother and I while my birth father became the primary parent.
My birth father was controlling, prideful, and short-tempered. He was always the last person I wanted to talk to, but when I did talk to him, it was in fear of what he’d do if he heard anything that I had to say from someone else. The few times I’ve been there to witness him punishing my brother for misbehaving, I was scared for my life and sanity.
There’s one time that still scares me and left a large scar, though I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for my brother. One day, he came home from somewhere with our birth father, I don’t remember where they went, or how old we were exactly, but I do know this wasn’t too long after my brother got his first snake, so I think he was about nine or ten years old. He came through the door walking backward, crying and begging, screaming “No” so many times and so loudly, I almost didn’t understand what he was saying. Then our birth father came stomping in. I don’t remember what even happened, or even if anyone explained it to me, but whatever my brother did, my birth father thought it was a proper punishment for him, my nine or ten-year-old brother, to murder his own pet. To this day, I feel like I could’ve done something, but I was too young and afraid, only about seven or eight years old. After that, I don’t remember anything.
I became my birth father’s “daddy’s girl” just to save my own skin. When my brother started misbehaving again in high school, I remember asking my birth father why he was being rewarded with a new pet and horseback riding. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his response, “He’s not getting my attention. If you pull the same stunt he did for whatever the reason, you’ll get it much worse.”
The summer after my 13th birthday, there was one week I’ll never forget. July 11th, Monday, my grandmother passed away. July 13th, Wednesday, my birth father and I got ran off the road by a car while on a walk with my dog. July 15th, Friday, my grandmother’s funeral, I didn’t go out of fear someone would try to harm or kill me again. After that week, I was paranoid. I didn’t leave my room til school came back.
When I went back to school for 8th grade, I was terrified. However, I was scrapping by mentally, emotionally, and in some ways, physically. The support I got from my teachers helped me through, I even auditioned for regional choir, since the previous year I made it to regionals and enjoyed the experience so much. However, October 29th, the day before auditions, I got a call from my birth father that we were moving to Boston because he got a full scholarship to Harvard University. I told him I don’t want to go, and he said I had no choice, that Harvard would fix everything and make our lives easier and we’d all have more opportunity to academically better ourselves and go into successful careers. I told my mom about it, and she almost immediately took him to court.
This was also the year my relationship with my brother deteriorated for good. He believed that Harvard was a true story and that our birth father truly knew best. I fought to stay, even blew my chance at the regionals, distracted by ways to figure out where I stand. The school staff helped me get by, especially my Language Arts teacher, who gave me the opportunity to participate in the Young Author’s Competition. She allowed me to go to her class after school so I could work on my competition entry and stay away from that house I was expected to call home for just a little longer. Of course, since I had to walk home, she couldn’t allow me to stay after dusk.
My mom and dad fought to get me out of that house for good and, ironically, hired a lawyer that graduated from Harvard University. With the Harvard Scholarship proved as a bag of bull, my birth father decided to change it from Boston to South Carolina to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Still, my brother strangely stood by his side while I conspired against him. I didn’t change any behaviors in front of him, while I took as much information and evidence as I could get, showing it all to my mom.
In January, the court ordered for me to change custody to my mom. However, that only lasted a week before my birth father sent an email to the judge and lawyers that, rather than allow me to move on from that hell freely, he expected a large sum of money in exchange (which wasn’t in the court order), more money than my mom and dad had to offer. After school that night, my birth father came to take me “home” and away from my mom. It escalated to where he called the cops, reporting that I was being kidnapped and he was at gunpoint. Cops came running and were disappointed to see no firearms and that I was in the house of my own free will; in fact, I left the house against my will, kicking and screaming. The cop told me that I had to go with my birth father because I was only 13 and it was his right to take me. After the officer escorted me to my birth father’s car, he gave my birth father a stern talking to about false reports.
After that, the court ordered me to see a counselor of the court’s choosing. My birth father suspected that I was conspiring with my mom to turn the counselor to our favor, which I was doing without my mom’s help. I simply told the counselor the truth about how I felt about the whole situation and what I experienced. To retaliate his theory of what was going on, my birth father blocked my mom from my phone. He was requested to unblock her from my contact, which he said he would do. He lied. I tried multiple times to call or text my mother, and my phone wouldn’t let me time and time again. Then, while on vacation to Las Cruces, I used my phone’s data to send facebook messages to my mom, telling her that my birth father still hadn’t unblocked her from my phone. I kept her updated on facebook, using only my phone’s data. You see, Las Cruces is a small town in the middle of a desert, so WiFi is difficult to come by, and definitely not in my Granny’s house; my birth father and brother went to McDonald’s for breakfast and WiFi to check facebook and whatever else they had to do. I knew if they found out I was talking with my mom on facebook, I’d be in big trouble.
On the same vacation, my birth father saw pictures I took as evidence I’d already shown to the counselor, to show just how disgusting and unsafe an environment I live in day by day. He asked if I showed the pictures to my mom, and I said no. However, I never told him that I showed the counselor.
When I returned home, my mom praised me for being so clever and sneaking under the radar. After that, the court made the final order that my mom would have full custody of me while my brother would remain where he is. There was nothing more my birth father could do. Physically, I was free, I still remember going to his house one last time to pack my bags and tell my brother goodbye and good luck before loading up my mom’s car and going to my true home.
This even haunted me for years, but only in nightmares, night terrors, and panic attacks when reminded of this event. Safe to say, I got some unusual phobias from this experience and odd triggers. However, I know the war is won, and the only war left to fight is all in my head.
When gone through something like this, being conspired against, lied to, and held hostage by someone you’re supposed to love and trust with all your heart, happens to a person, is it worth holding all that baggage and living on, or is it better to check out at rock bottom? This is what triggered so many suicidal thoughts, but my mom reminds me that I have a life now, I have friends, I have loved ones, I have a future. Most importantly, my parents remind me that, now that my birth father kicked me down to rock bottom already, I know how to get back up and move forward to my bright future.
One quote that keeps me going to this day is something my old Martial Arts teacher told me every day in class. “For every time you get knocked down, you get up one more time; down once, up twice.”