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My Family Tree Was Struck By Lightning

Before I take you for a ride down memory lane, I think it would be wise to take a moment to explain my family tree. (Cue “The Brady Bunch” theme song.)

My dad and his first wife had a son, my older half-brother.

My mother was his second wife. Together, they had four daughters. I am the youngest.

My dad and his third wife have a son, my younger half-brother.

My mother married for a second time. My step-father has five children, three boys and two girls. They are all older than I am.

I’m going to try to make this as painless as possible and not too confusing, so bear with me!

My parents can’t stand each other, I don’t think they ever could. Why they stayed married as long as they did, beats the hell out of me. They lived together, at least physically, until I was six months old. That was when my mother moved her four girls into the home of the man who would later become my stepfather. I’m surprised the three bedroom, one bathroom house didn’t explode from all of the hostility and tension caused by the eleven people living there. Being so young, I was automatically excluded from the fights between my sisters and my stepfather’s kids.

My mother conveniently decided to quit her motherly duties around the time I was conceived. Granted, she was never in the running for Mother of the Year or anything before that, but she was decent, I guess. I was pretty much raised by my oldest sister, who was only 9 or 10 years old at the time. Mother was always gone, even when she was home. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if my sister wasn’t there to care for me.

When I hit puberty at 11, my oldest sister no longer lived at home. No one was there to tell me what was happening to me or my body. I was already in a bad place in life because I also had just been sexually abused for the first time. This lead to many embarrassing situations at school, ruined clothes, being made fun of, etc.

I started cutting when I was 11 and kept all my cutting tools in an old CD case under my mattress. One day when I was 12, I went to grab them and they were gone. The blood-stained knives were washed and put back in the drawer, razors back in the box cutter, and scissors on the counter. Mother never said a word, never asked why I was wearing long sleeves through summer, or why I had a plethora of sharp, bloody instruments under my bed. Nothing.

Two years later, when the school nurse discovered my cuts and called my home, my mother suddenly put on her “distraught mother” hat. She swore to the school staff she would do anything and everything to help me. When we got home, she told me how I made her look bad because she does not want to be known as the mom with a fucked up daughter. At the school’s insistence, I started therapy. I don’t know how many therapists I went through because she would pull me out as soon as they said the words “depression” or “medication” or “she should really be tested for bipolar.”

During this time, I went to my dad’s house on the weekends. I hated it. I loved my brother, we have always been wicked close because we’re closest in age, but I hated my dad and stepmother. I hated them because my mother taught me to. My mother is the best manipulator I know, and constantly fed us and anyone else who would listen lies about how evil my father was.

When I got into high school, my mother introduced me to alcohol. She’d make me margaritas at family cookouts, look the other way when I grabbed a bottle from the shelf in the kitchen. Soon I was drinking at school, bringing vodka in a water bottle so no one would know. I started smoking in my room, stealing packs from her cartons of cigarettes and she never said a word. At that point, I thought, “Fuck yeah! My mom is awesome! She doesn’t have any rules.” My friends loved her, and she was always trying to be the “cool mom.” It was fun for a while, until she would go behind my back to invite my guy friends over. I can’t confirm or deny anything that happened when I wasn’t there, and I don’t want to know.

By 16, I was leaving the house every night to walk three miles to my drug dealer boyfriend’s house, drunk as fuck and taking railroad tracks as a shortcut. She knew, but never said a word. One summer day when I was drunk, I got into a fight with my stepdad and was arrested. I spent the night in jail, went to court, where I was charged with simple assault and sent to placement for six weeks. At the end of my time, I was told I wouldn’t be going home. I was going to be sent to a long term placement until I was 18.

After a lengthy battle, the judge finally decided to allow me to go live with my father. My mother’s selfish need to keep me from my father prompted her to fight tooth and nail to keep me in placement for those next two years.

I was in for a rude awakening at my dad’s. New school, new rules, new lifestyle to adjust to, with no friends or anything from my old life. It was not easy for them to deal with me. I would get into loud, screaming, in-your-face fights with my dad and stepmom. I wouldn’t trade it for the world because when I became an adult, I sat down with my dad and learned the truth.

The lies my mother told me about my father weren’t true. I was told the reason I never had winter jackets or new clothes or went to the doctor when I was sick was because my dad never paid his child support, He paid it, but mother used that money for herself.

My arrest was orchestrated by my dad. When he found out what I was doing, he fought Mother until she finally agreed to have my stepdad instigate a fight so the police could charge me. He convinced the court that my mother was unfit, and that living with him would be the best thing for me. He could give me a normal life with structure and discipline.

He saved my life, and I’ve spent most of my life hating him for no reason other than being a pawn in my mother’s sick game.

I’m 23, married with a beautiful 2 year old son. I wouldn’t have this life if my father hadn’t fought for me. It kills my father that two of my sister’s hate him because they’re still under my mother’s thumb.

I haven’t spoken to my mother in five years, and never plan to. My family tree may be split, but at least I know who my true family is now. My stepmom has become the mother I never had, and we are all really close.