"Physically, I'm here. Mentally I'm far, far away..."
The Life Changing Move
The moment I found out that my younger brother and I were moving to Virginia with our dad for good, I would be lying if I said I was ecstatic for it. Even though I remember the good times of my mother and father being together and married, I knew that they weren't getting back together again. After the divorce, I lived with my mom, and my younger brother Jacob for three years. I lived in a filthy house, the smell of dog and cat piss was overwhelming and unfortunately, since I was so young, I thought all of this was normal. In a way, I have grown used to that kind of lifestyle. No electricity, hot water, heat, food, taking baths in a laundry basket with my brother and heating water in the fireplace was the "normal" for us.
Not only was I already upset and mad at the world for being separated from my mom, but I didn't understand why this was all happening all at once. It was even worse when I found out that my brother and I would have to fly on the plane by ourselves. Anxiety was my best friend since I was eight years old.
When we finally made it to Virginia, I saw my dad and I thought to myself "maybe this won't be so bad." I saw all the trees, the squirrels climbing throughout them on another long drive to Springfield, where we would be living for the next ten years. Life reminded me that everything was anything but good. We weren't allowed to have any pictures of our mom as soon as we got there, they went through all our bags, took away a lot of our family pictures from our mom's side of the family. To make things even worse, my dad and step-mom said we could keep one picture. As if this was supposed to make up for the fact that they just stripped us of everything we had left. Any packages or mail we had sent to us from my mom's side of the family were opened and gone through before we got to see anything. All the pictures would be thrown away, how I knew was when my aunt would ask if we got the pictures...
This may sound like "no big deal" but being eight and my brother only five, this was a HUGE deal to us. We only saw our dad for half a summer when he wanted us to meet Bell (our step-mom). At first, she seemed nice. She treated us like any motherly figure in this situation, but all of this changed as soon as we lived there. Bell, used to think that my brother was "too violent" so she took him out of karate and took away any sugary snacks from him while our two step-cousins and uncle lived with us and got what they wanted. They used to sit in front of Jacob and eat in front of him, laughing and taunting him. He was always the one to get in trouble even though those kids would hit him first and taunt him all the time. When I used to walk home from school, I remember always hearing her yelling from outside of the house. I used to walk home just to stay away longer.
In my first year of school in Virginia, I was in sixth grade and not doing too well. I went from never going to school to going every day and not understanding what they were teaching. My dad used to get on me all the time for my grades being so bad and went as far as taking everything out of my room except for clothes in hopes my grades would get better. This made everything so much worse for me.
I stopped caring, didn't care about my grades because I already had everything taken from me. "What else could he take?" was a constant thought in my mind. I got depressed and only had my friends at school to talk to about everything, but there was only so much they could do for me. I felt empty, didn't have anything to make me who I was. I started writing, drawing at a young age and reading books constantly to escape my reality for a while. I started staying in my room from the time I came home to the next day, only coming downstairs when it was time to eat with "the family."
Bell and my dad planned a trip to Disney World, which would make any kid happy. I probably would have been more enthusiastic if my dad hadn't told me that I wasn't going if my grades didn't improve. I told him that I would just stay with my grandmother (my dad's mom) until they came back. I hated life for the longest time wondering what the hell my brother and I did to deserve this.
I wasn't really scared of starting, I just always wondered how different it would be. The secondary school did one of those classes to try and help kids transition into middle school, but it never was close to how it really was.
For middle school, I went to a secondary school. So it was a mix of middle and high schoolers. The pressure of "looking good" or "being popular" didn't phase me. I didn't start caring about my appearance until high school. I was a very quiet kid, reserved, kept to myself, and read books in class instead of paying attention to what was being taught. I didn't care, I just wanted an escape from everything; to just bury my face into my fantasy books because I was so desperate for life not to be the way it was. I wanted to read about princes and princesses from different realms finding a way to love each other even if it was forbidden. That's what I wanted to read. I once thought love was two people loving each other with no problems, that all relationships should be perfect like the books and chick flicks on TV.
A few days before my twelfth birthday, I started my period and started getting mood changes because I was, number one, a girl and number two, in middle school. Which means that my hormones were out of wack and I didn't understand how to control my emotions. My depression started getting worse and had thoughts of suicide often. I knew that I shouldn't have those thoughts when in my gut always said no. I used to think of the ways I could go, it wasn't healthy at all. Thoughts of drowning, and frequent thoughts of using my scarf to hang myself in my closet with a note of how I felt about everything laying on my desk. Not only was my gut telling me no, but I also thought of my little brother. He was all I had, we counted on each other. We could only talk amongst ourselves about what was going on. I couldn't do that to him. He was still young, cried frequently about not being allowed to talk to our mom and how he missed her so much. Anytime Jacob would cry to our dad about it, our dad would just say things like "suck it up," and "why are you thinking about her?" He didn't understand why we were so attached to her and why we didn't feel comfortable talking to him about things. We didn't know it then, but I found out later in life that all he ever wanted was for us to be honest with him. How could we do that when he never stood up for us, that he wanted us to start calling Bell "mom" even when she treated us the way she did.
When I first got there and they would fight about us, she would come up to me and tell me word for word "you're the reason why we fight" or the best one was "we were going to have kids if it weren't for you guys coming here." She resented us so much and I never understood why. We weren't bad kids, we listened to what we were told until I was in high school.
To be continued...