Monday, July 25, 2011

Glimpse Into My Family

Family: A word that to some, holds great meaning- to others,great pain. I grew up in a broken home, my mother always trying to keep me in a fantasy world perhaps to protect me. My father had come from a rather large family, my mother having just two sisters. My parents were total opposites, completely different childhoods which lead them to be polar opposites when it came to raising me. My father, always a distant, quiet man never felt obligated in any way to his wife or daughter- rather he took to reading a paper or taking off in the car to unknown locations rather then spending any time with us. At a young age, I discovered the real feelings of neglect and disappointment from a man I desperately wanted attention and approval from. On the other side of the spectrum was my mother, caring and compassionate she couldn't spend enough time with me. Unfortunately, my mother's health had been poor from my birth on- many days were spent beside her in bed listening to music and playing games we would make up. One of her health issues required a darkened room where my mother was unable to even open her eyes making it extremely difficult for a young child to understand. My father was always a book smart man, lacking common sense but always the critical mind that excelled him and landed him his Masters. As his employment ventures opened up and his money began to grow, my mother and I were left deeper and deeper into poverty. Living in what I can only explain as unlivable conditions, we struggled to survive while my father basically sat on his money. When I reached the age of eleven, my mother threw my father out after years of infidelity, neglect and mental abuse. He took the car and left us with nothing but tears. I've spent many years trying to piece together my childhood, I came to the conclusion that for my own personal benefit my mind had blocked much of what I experienced- defense mechanism I suppose. What I do recall is the freezing cold nights when the kerosene had run out, and the days without electricity. At the time we lived in the country, away from anything that was remotely close to providing food or shelter. My mother, having the poor health and eyesight was unable to drive thus making us rely heavily on others.
I didn't hate my father, I just didn't understand why he didn't love me. The thing is, when you love someone even after they've disappointed you over and over you keep believing they'll change and everything will be okay. That doesn't always happen. For years, my father would make plans to come pick me up, take me out for dinner or what not. I would wait at the door, thinking any car that was coming was him, only to watch the car pass and my heart sink. I did this for years, always thinking there was that glimmer of hope. Meanwhile, my mother had her own outlets for the pain- many different boyfriends and feeding an addiction of men that to this day she denies. During this period of time I remember bits and pieces, more blocking on my part. It seemed like it happened so fast, she had met a roofer while going out to a club with a friend. All of a sudden she was traveling all over the states with a man she barely knew. At one point I had to be with them, staying in a hotel because life with my father and his girlfriend proved to be unhealthy. Fast forward a few months and news of my mother being pregnant surfaced- the roofer left just 2 months into her pregnancy. We were instantly shunned from my mother's family- although they were not religious people they felt compelled to cast stones because she was not wed. However, the true reason surfaced as well and it was because this child would be half Mexican and to them that was a disgrace. I don't really remember my mother's pregnancy very well, I'm not sure if I was excited or what. I'm guessing I was since being an only child for thirteen years makes one long for a sibling. Then the day arrived. I remember June 24, 2007 like it was yesterday. It was the last day of school, I'd just gotten home my mother was not there but I knew she had gone for a stress test that day so it was no alarm. Being a teenager, the first thing I did was lay down to sleep for awhile, thinking nothing of it. Apparently I had been in a dead sleep as my mother's friend had been pounding at the door to come pick me up to see my new brother. I slept through the whole thing, I only awakened to the phone ringing to tell me the wonderful news. I had a brother. I couldn't believe it! He was 11.2 pounds with a full head of dark hair. A new chapter of our lives started that day, and we had no idea what a journey it would be.
My brother grew up with just my mother and I, basically I was the other parent and so I had some growing up to do. My mother often worked long hours and many jobs to support us, being the built-in babysitter I was required to make sure he had all the basic necessities. This meant a lot of time was not spent with friends, doing normal teenage things but rather feeding, changing and taking care of my little brother. When Homecoming came, I showed up to the football game with stroller and baby in tow. There would be no dance for me, but that was what my life was. At some point, and I'm not sure when- my mother's family came around. I can't imagine what the first conversation was, but I think perhaps they came to the conclusion that this was their grandson no matter what. The years went on and out of all the pain grew a wonderful child who I am so proud of. I've never regretted having to spend my teenage years taking care of him, after all it kept me out of trouble and made us have a close relationship. I also think that having a family like I do helped me to be the person I am today, taking from them the bad points and making them good by learning from them. I sometimes think you can live without family or create one elsewhere which you could do, but at the end of the day you have to push past the imperfections and embrace the people with whom you share blood. Difficulty is bound to happen in all families but it's what we make from those difficulties that makes the struggles worth the pain. I could go on and on but I'm sure I have rambled, perhaps a part 2 will be in the works someday.