Dum Spiro Spero…While I Breathe, I Hope

I was at the tail end of 17 when I became pregnant with my firstborn.
It’s a long, drawn out story, what happened after that.
Suffice that when she was almost 3 months old, we left her father, an abusive drug addict who I’d been living with, and came to California to stay with relatives. The day after I turned 19.
I left all my friends, everyone I knew, and came out to live with an aunt that I barely knew.
An aunt who the night of E’s first birthday, in a Prozac rage bloodied my lip, forced me to put E in the car, almost backed her car over me, and dumped me on the doorstep of another aunt who lived 20 minutes away. All I had was what was in E’s diaper bag, and over the next week it was a fight to get our things.
That aunt made it known from the first that I wasn’t welcome in her home, that the only reason she put up with me was for the sake of E, and if I could please hurry up and save enough money to move out she’d be more than happy to help me pack.
I had no car, no license, and worked a minimum wage job.
I got $112 a month in welfare.
Between that and the $4.75 I made I was expected to buy my own food, buy everything E needed, pay for daycare, my bus fare, and save enough to get the hell out.
I worked nights, so my aunt would pick up E from daycare, feed her dinner, and put her to bed.
I was told daily what a useless piece of shit I was.
Everything I did was wrong…down to the way I walked, talked, and breathed.
I was constantly on eggshells and always hungry.
I didn’t make enough to feed myself, so I would steal food from my aunt and uncle’s pantry.
I tried not to make it noticeable, but sometimes I lost myself.
I was constantly afraid that “this will be the day she kicks me out”.
I turned 20.
My aunt made me a birthday dinner.
That was one of the very few times that they fed me.
Most nights they’d leave the dirty dinner dishes for me to wash.
I was supposed to feed myself my own food.
I had no life and very few friends from work, though the ones I had were nice enough to drive me home when I worked past the time the bus stopped running.
Sometimes we’d sit and talk for a little bit.
About music, life, etc.
I had a crush on a guy at work and I wrote about it in my journal.
I hadn’t dated anyone since I’d left my ex, and I missed being kissed.
I missed sex, I missed being around someone who liked me.
I wrote all those things out in my journal.
My aunt read my journal.
Then she called my father and his wife and read it out loud to them.
They decided that I was unfit to be E’s mother.
Halloween was coming and they took E and I to the pumpkin patch.
I was so excited tha this would be the first Halloween she’d remember (so I thought) that I went overboard.
I spent $15 on the largest pumpkin I could find.
A week later I had a day off and had been doing my laundry, playing with E, and not doing a whole lot else.
She wasn’t dirty, so I’d wiped her off, but not bathed her.
My aunt asked me if I’d bathed her and I lied, because I knew she’d start screaming about what a useless piece of shit I was if I told her the truth.
She smelled E’s head and said “then why does her head smell like a dirty baby?” (she wasn’t dirty!)
I ‘fessed up and waited for the screaming.
She grabbed a bag of dog food, swung it at me and told me to get the fuck out.
She told me she didn’t care where I went but that E wasn’t going with me.
That she would either be adopted out to a stranger or go to live with my father.
But that I needed to call somebody right now to come pick me up because I was no longer welcome in her home…
I almost laughed when she said that, but I thought better of it.
Fast forward a few weeks and I’m sleeping on a friend’s floor and paying them $50/mo for the privilege.
My father agreed to take E in, and his wife told me that if they were going to take her in that I would have to agree that they would raise her.
That I wasn’t allowed to show up and take her.
I countered that they would make sure she knew who I was and that they’d never stop communication between she and I.
The week after Halloween I flew to my home state and took her to live with my dad.
They booked my return trip for the next day, midafternoon while she’d be at daycare.
I didn’t get to help her settle in, and barely got to say goodbye.
My life spun out of control and I started drinking and smoking a lot of pot.
After a year of complete insanity, I got sober the day after I turned 21.
She’s almost 20years old now.
They cut off communication when she was 5.
They told me that anything I sent wouldn’t be given to her.
On her birthdays I’d stagger when I sent her card, sometimes quite a bit before, sometimes a bit after…
Hoping that that would be the odd day that she checked the mail.
I found out that my father stole the insurance money that had been put into Templeton Funds for my brother and I after our mom died.
I requested E’s medical records and read lie after lie that they told about me.
There was one that particularly sticks out in my mind because I’d talked to my father on the phone that day.
Two hours after telling me he loved me, he told her doctor that I was a drug addict somewhere in California…that they had no idea where I was.
(This is after I was married, almost 5 years sober, and Boo was 2 years old).
They told her that I was gossiping about them to the family which is why no one ever called them…she got very angry with me about that.
She was in counseling at the time, and the counselor told me.
(I mentioned that they had changed their phone number-to keep me from calling and was it possible they’d forgotten to give it to anyone?)
She and Boo are facebook friends, they text and occasionally talk on the phone.
She wasn’t ready for the “big step” of friending me, but she and I have occasionally messaged back and forth since she was 17 and her birth father found her.
She and my father’s wife weren’t speaking at the time, but I’d been spying on her myspace page, and saw from his-whom I’d also been spying on that he found her, and it didn’t appear that 1) his sudden reappearance was welcome, and 2) that his memory on what had led up to me taking my child and fleeing for our lives was far from true.
I bit my tongue, swallowed my pride, and contacted my father’s wife on facebook to let her know what happened.
This has forged a strained bond between us.
In October she got a hold of some liquid courage, called Boo and asked to talk to me.
We talked for a few hours, it was the most incredible phone call of my life.
We didn’t get into anything serious,and kept most of it light.
But she told me that growing up she’d often thought of running away, and that she knew deep in her heart that if she could get to California I’d always open my door to her.
That broke my heart.
She went to live there because they were “stable” and had money, and could afford to give her everything that I’d never be able to.
She wasn’t supposed to have felt like that.
She also told me that she really hoped my dad and I would make up. I told her that there are issues between my father and I (whom she calls “dad”. She calls his wife “mom”, and me by my first name) that are none of her business. I’ve stretched out my hand as far as it will go. He doesn’t even acknowledge that Boo and Keylime exist…but all that is between he and I.
We’ve messaged a bit since then, and on Wednesday when it looked like there might be a tornado where she lives I told her we were thinking about her and hoped she’d stay safe.
Today she blocked me.
I don’t know why. She never responded to my last message, never acknowledged it…
When her birthday rolls around I’ll send her a birthday card like always.
And I will hold onto hope, like always.

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