The Cast of Characters
- Mom - biological Mom
- Sister - 2 1/2 years younger than me
- Dad - biological Dad
- Toilet - he and his wife used to be friends with Mom & Dad. Then they divorced and he and my Mom started dating. Now they are married.
- TW - Toilet's Wife
- Step-Sibs - Toilet's three children (oldest girl is a week younger than me, middle girl is 6 months older than my sister, and the youngest is a boy about 5-6 years younger than me)
- DGF - Dad's Girl Friend (they later broke up)
- Step-Monster - Dad's latest Wife
I grew up in what I thought was a happy home. Dad got transferred with his job when I was 3-4 and we moved away from his family to another state - about 7 hours from Dad's family and 8 from Mom's family. We settled in there and I started school. Mom stayed home for many years and then went back to work once Sister and I were both in school. We did typical family activities, enjoyed camping, taking trips to the lake, boating, visiting family for long vacations, canoeing and attending softball and soccer games that I (and later, Sister) played in.
I don't remember when things first got bad. I know Dad always did have a problem with drinking too much on social occasions. He wasn't one to come home and get plastered. But at barbecues, parties or other events, he would often have a bit too much. Dad always did have a temper too. Although I remember more yelling than anything else. Mom seemed happy. She deferred to Dad a lot - making sure Sister and I followed suit. When she went back to work, Sister & I had to go to the neighbor's house before and after school.
It seemed as if we had to grow up kind of fast. I was forced to get up to an alarm clock with no prodding as early as kindergarten. We had the usual chores but had to start doing our own laundry and ironing about age 7. Mom and Dad expected us to handle our own problems. They weren't one to call up a teacher and complain or protest to a coach about poor treatment.
The Separation & Divorce
It is so much easier to look back with hindsight. The things I dismissed as just "odd" now make more sense. Toilet and his Wife (TW) were friends of my parents. Their three children were similar ages as Sister and I. Dad and Toilet both rode motorcycles. Through the woods, they lived less than 1 mile away. We often hung out at the other's houses. TW often seemed distant. Mom and Toilet always got along fairly well.
One summer, Sister and I were forced to go to summer camp. It was a day camp that we had attended in the past. Mom wasn't one for "motherly protection" so I found it odd that she wanted to accompany Sister and I as we rode our bikes to camp. I had ridden my bike to and from that school all school year long. We soon began a pattern of picking up Step-sibs (although they weren't quite step-sibs yet). Sometimes TW would come too. In the evenings, we would meet again to bike ride.
One time Mom took Sister and I to the beach. Toilet came too, with his children. I found it odd that it was just he and Mom but didn't think about it too much. This was around the time that the fighting between Mom and Dad increased.
(Disclaimer - time lines get a bit blurry for me).
Sometime in here, Mom had a stuffed bear on her dresser that she said was from "a friend." I remember finding that really odd. It was Valentine's Day I think. After that the fighting between Mom and Toilet got worse. One fight occured after Sister and I were in bed. I remember walking out front to the yard and finding Mom and Toilet sitting very close. Later I dragged my mattress into my Sister's room and slept on her floor - with a softball bat.
I always remember being afraid of my father. But I can't pinpoint a specific event as to why. There are events that would have caused me to be afraid, but I remember being afraid before those events occurred. I can't pinpoint when the fear started.
There was never a question that Sister and I would go live with Mom. My parents sat Sister and I down and explained they were divorcing. We were quite happy actually. My best friend's parents had divorced (she moved) and my other friend had moved. So I didn't even mind switching schools. Dad moved out. That same night Toilet came over. He kissed Mom goodbye, on the lips, when he left. So Mom decided to let us know they were "dating." That confused me. Dad's anger got worse. Looking back, I'm not sure which came first. His increasing anger or Mom/Toilet's relationship. In any event, it made for a vicious cycle.
Sister and I were sent to my grandmother's soon thereafter for a two week stay. Toilet and Mom drove halfway and met my grandparents. It was their first time meeting Toilet. It was the first time we'd stayed with Mom's parents for an entire week. It was the summer before 6th grade. I started bleeding (my first period) when I was up there. I was SO embarrassed. I finally told my grandmother who "checked to make sure" and then had me call my mother. They blew it off and said I was too young - I must have "injured" myself or something. I felt like a fraud. And ashamed.
When we got "home," we found out we had moved into an apartment. I think maybe we knew on the drive home or something. I can't really remember. I know Sister and I decided that rather than share a room with Step-sibs, we would share with each other. We ended up with bunk beds in a tiny room. Step-sibs got a huge room even though they were only there on alternating weekends. The explanation was that there were 3 of them. We also discovered that Toilet was going to live with us. And that our childhood pets, Shasta (the dog) and Spooky (the cat) had "gone away." Mom had taken them to the pound. She said that "maybe" Spooky would get adopted but Shasta was too old and probably was put to sleep. They were both about 12 years old and had been around since before I was born. Actually they were gifts - Mom gave Dad the cat and Dad gave Mom the dog as wedding presents or something like that. Shasta was a pure-bred Samoyed.
In one short summer, I lost an intact family, my childhood home, my dog and my cat. I lost everything I had ever known as secure. I gained ...well Mom gained a new boyfriend who would become my abuser. But that's another story for another day.