The year I turned 14, my dad moved me and my sister to Valencia. The supposed reason was to escape our being bused into the inner city. But that’s not what this blog is about.
This was the year I lived alone with my dad and sister while my mother, grandmother (Omy) and one brother stayed in Woodland Hills. I was in the 9th grade, an awkward, painfully shy young girl. Most of the kids in our new neighborhood had lived in the area all their lives, and they had already formed cliques and attachments. I didn’t fit in….my clothes weren’t hip enough for me to be popular. I was too smart for most of the kids (geeks, unite!) and even they already had their closed circles, so I hung out with the stoners and outcasts, and quite frankly, much older boys. I was painfully lonely and missed my mother and Omy.
This was the year my father taught me how to make his three favorite drinks: Manhattans, Tom Collins, and Tom and Jerry’s. I would mix them for him, and of course one for me as well. We would sit and have a drink together before I would get dinner ready. He would ask me about school, and I would ask him about work. It was very cozy and crazy there in Valencia.
We had a German Shepherd that my father locked in the dark in the garage during the day. To this day I don’t know why he couldn’t just let her roam the backyard. But then, my father also liked to kill animals and was very cruel to them in other ways. The first thing I would do when I came home from school would be to let her out, clean out her mess in the garage, and then take her for a long walk and bring her into the house. Those walks were very soothing for me. My sister and I weren’t particularly close, especially since she was in junior high and I was in high school, so we didn’t have any common experiences to unite us. There was a lot of animosity, jealousy and jockeying for favor with my father, which didn’t help the situation.
This was the year I started writing my novel. I would spend hours locked away in my bedroom after school while my sister watched TV, scribbling away, doing my best to escape my reality. My father would come home and I would cook dinner. I generally had already cleaned the house and helped my sister finish her homework, and had done the laundry. It was very domestic. Looking back on this now as an adult—Too domestic, Today CPS would have hauled both my parents away.
My mother and Omy were still in Woodland HIlls as they refused to leave, so my father maintained two households, in a very bizarre way. I don’t remember too many phone calls from or to my mother that year.
14 was the year I lost my virginity to a local boy. I was so desperate for love and attention, and if this is what it took, that is what I was willing to give. It set up a pattern that lasted deep into young adulthood for me. I learned to equate sex with love.
Eventually my mother demanded that we come back home. Sadly, by this time I had finally made friends, and leaving them was a wrench. I had to go back to my old school, with friends who had new experiences and friends they had made the year while I was gone. So the shcool friends I had grown up with, had grown past me and formed new attachments. I had gone from being connected to being disconnected. Looking back at it now, it created a new pattern in my life that lasted for a long time —- not getting too close to people, as you could be pulled away from them at any time. It would appear that I had deep friendships while I was feeling alone and separate on the inside.
I have mentioned in other blog posts that I slept with my father until I was 11 and had my first period. I still to this day don’t know what my father did to me. At the very least it was an inappropriate relationship. If there’s more it’s buried so deeply inside of me that I think it will only come out when he is gone, if then. I have forgiven him for what he has done; forgiveness is a loving gift you give to yourself, not to others. Forgiveness is what allows me to write about these things. The deep seated pain is not there anymore. The memories and the actions will always be there, but the pain isn’t as strong as it once was.
It took many years of therapy and crying to get past a lot of the darkness that I grew up in. But I can tell you, you can get through it. And I learned something critically important in the process of healing—-there is nothing inside of you, no memory, that can destroy you. You have already lived through the worst of it and survived. Now it’s time to let go of that pain and anger and claim the life you want to live.
I hope my words in these blogs help you to understand that what happened to you is the past, and you have the power to write new chapters in your life, and be happy.