Separation and Resolve
Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
Separation and Resolve
When I was fifteen years old, I walked out of my mother's house with no intention of ever returning. Eight years later, at the age of twenty-three, I can still recall the traumatic event as if it happened just yesterday. Only great internal pain can cause a person to break a parent's heart. Great pain and great resolve. Sometimes in life, extended family members and friends can become dearer to a young girl's heart than her own mother. I have experienced this revelation firsthand.
The summer of 2005 was one of endless adventure and overwhelming fun. I spent my days driving, talking, laughing, and exploring the world with my best friend, Valerie. Valerie and I had been inseparable since we were five years old. And my mom married her uncle! Those days were some of the most carefree of my life. Some days we lay in bed all day reading books, wasting away in worlds we would never see. Some days we walked to the park, just so she and I could sit on the swings and talk. Still other days, we drove around aimlessly with her older sister, singing at the top of our lungs, headed nowhere in particular. When the sun was shining, worry and stress were things too heavy for our young hearts. However, when the lights began to dim, my world transformed.
It was no secret to my family that there had been tension building in my home before the summer. My stepdad worked a typical nine-to-five, while my mother bartended until all hours of the night. These circumstances left me at home, caring for my three younger sisters throughout the school year. Although I love my sisters more than most things in life, back then it was hard to not feel burdened by my predicament. Nonetheless, I spent my afternoons keeping them entertained, fed, and well cared for. I thought my performance in a motherly role was top of the line. There must have been something not up to par, however, because almost every night my mom reminded me of my flaws.
It never did seem to matter what time it was, or what commitments I had the next day, my mother still woke me up. She would pull me from a deep sleep to sit in the kitchen while she belittled me in all sorts of tones and decibels, remind me how I did this or that wrong, or how I was a terrible teenager, or how I was disrespecting her all the time. The story was always different, the demeaning comments always changing, but the hurt stayed the same. My entire freshman year of high school went on this way. At least it continued that way until that precious summer. That summer . . . saved my life.
My mother and I still fought many nights of the week, but my days took away the heartache. When I was gallivanting around with Valerie, there was not much else on my mind. Every day was a reprieve and a chance for rejuvenation. Those adventures and the love of my best friend, I soon learned, would give me more strength than I could have ever imagined. It would give me the strength to finally walk away.
Like most nights, I was sitting with a group of friends playing various card games. In the midst of our laughter, I received a call from my mother. I was to return home immediately because I had disobeyed her in ways I did not even understand. Regardless of her absurdity, I went home. When I arrived, she was waiting on the front porch with my stepdad. She did always seem to use him as a bodyguard when she wanted to start an argument.
"Sit down" was all she said when I walked to the house.
For the next two hours, she ranted and raved about how I did not get permission to be anywhere except my cousin's home. (We had been playing cards at her older sister's apartment). I argued that she had always been aware we spent the majority of our time there, but she refused to acknowledge that point. Eventually, I simply quit talking and allowed her to go on and on and on. When she finally slowed down, her final points were made. I was grounded for an entire month and never allowed to hang out with my cousins again. Period. The outrage! There were so many things I could have said, but instead I bit my tongue and went to bed.
I remember crying until my eyes stung from the salt in my tears. I tossed and turned with the greatest mixture of internal rage and heartbreak I had ever felt. Just before the dim hours of morning came, I was resolved. I was going to pack my things in the morning, call my dad, and move out. Even if I was still grounded and unable to see my cousins, I would try to live with someone who would not take my family away from me as a punishment.
That morning was a blur of guilty words, tears, and pure anger. I managed to pack most of my things without her even bothering to see if I was awake. When I had the necessities together, I calmly walked to the kitchen and picked up the phone. That is the moment she noticed me.
"What do you think you're doing," she asked. "You are GROUNDED, young lady!"
Without emotion, I muttered, "That may be so, but I'm calling Dad. I'm leaving, and I'm not going to come back. Ever."
The look on her face still haunts me today. Outrage, disbelief, and hurt twisted her face. First she tried anger and threats. When those did not work, she tried tears and apologies. When those still did not change my mind, she did the one thing I have still not forgiven. She held all three of my sisters in front of her in my doorway. While I had packed, she had riled them up. She told them that I was leaving them and not going to be around anymore. Of course, at their tender age, this broke their little hearts and put them in fits of tears. So there they stood, all three of them crying their eyes out, with my mother standing above them with a hint of victory in her eyes. That was the moment I lost all self-control.
"You can stand there, holding all three of them while they cry, and I am still not going to stay. I am not going to stay, and I want you to know with every inch of your conscience that it is one hundred percent your fault." I never broke eye contact, I never raised my voice, and I never looked back. Within an hour I walked out the front door. There was not a single goodbye.
I revisit that day often in my mind. I consider it repeatedly. Did I overreact? Did I make the right choice? Yes, to all of the above, and every other doubt. My own mother had banned me from my family, my family that had saved me from a living nightmare-a nightmare my mother orchestrated nightly. To this day, I have never completely forgiven her, and I have never been mad at myself for my choices. Sometimes, extended family and friends can become dearer to a young girl's heart than her own mother. I know this, because mine did.