When I was 2, my parents divorced. My mother didn’t have a relationship until I was 16 when she started online dating. Nothing came of it until I was 18 and she met Joe.
Joe was a divorced man with a daughter a little older than me. He was a janitor from a small town and used to be in the Navy. That’s all we really knew then.
They met in late June of 2007, a month after I graduated high school. They got engaged August 1st, two weeks before I was to pack up and move to school. They got married in October, bought a house in November, and by December they bought two Boston Terrier puppies.
New house, new love, puppies; things were great, yes?
No. Forever no. A thousand times no.
That May, I was back for the summer. Joe was somewhat tense and from what I could see, very sensitive. It wasn’t hard to insult him. Declining help moving a heavy object crushed him and made him irrationally angry. He would turn to mom for support, saying I was disrespectful and it was her job to be stricter. That was never how we worked. We were partners, sometimes more like siblings. We didn’t try to regin each other in. To her, I was 19, an adult, and discipline seemed silly.
Memorial Day weekend, things came to a head. I had left to run errands and while I rocked out to that summers Top 40, he called me three times. The 1st said that we needed to have a chat. The 2nd said he was canceling my car insurance. The 3rd said don’t bother coming back. I called my mother, who asked what had happened. As far as I knew, nothing. Apparently, a comment about opening all the windows in the house sent Joe into a rage. Mom suggested I go to a friends house until he calmed down. I went back anyway.
He was smoking in the house when I got there. I tried to talk to mom while he shouted over and over, “We’re talking; leave!” I went upstairs to pack a bag. I could hear him screaming at her. When I had enough, I shouted down the steps not to talk to her that way. He came out and we stared each other down. When I wouldn’t break he called me selfish, a bitch. I wouldn’t budge. He stormed away and mom ushered me into her bathroom. She had her phone in her hand and she called the police. Sitting on her toilet, I cried as she told the 911 operator that yes, he kept weapons in the house for hunting. I was convinced we were going to die there, shot like the deer he hunted on autumn weekends. He continued to come back and rail at us only to leave again. When I asked her what was wrong with him, she answered, “He’s drunk, can’t you tell.” No, I couldn’t. Mom did drink and the few times I say her drunk she was a giggler, cursing in a good natured way. This was different; darker and more dangerous than anything I had seen before.
When the police came, mom answered the door, pulling me behind her to keep me in sight. It was then that I noticed the shattered door frame. Later, I found out that he kicked the door in when she locked him out. The officer stayed until we packed and we headed for her friends house. While we were gone he called us both over and over again. The final call said he was kicking me out and “putting her shit on the lawn”. Mom, her friend Kevin, and his friend Andy went to investigate. When they were gone over an hour, I knew that my stuff was indeed on the lawn. Mom came back with the Vue filled to the brim and Kirby in the front seat. We stayed there for two days.
Mom kicked him out for the summer. I couldn’t bring myself to sleep in my bed for a week, so I slept on the couch. Putting all my things back, something inside me broke. I hurled bags and boxes up the stairs and into the closet like a mad woman. After that, I started seeing my therapist. The two of them went to counseling as well; separately and together. He was put on medication for depression. He asked for my forgiveness.
Now more than ever, I’m glad I didn’t give it.
Stay tuned….There’s more to come.