Not As Bad As Many, But My Story Is Still Worth TellingI'm 22 now, and while I realize that I am still young, I do have a story to tell. It is in three parts, each part with a different caregiver.
Part One: With Mom
I do not remember my parents' divorce, so my first memories are with my mom. I loved her, as most children love their mothers, but independence was something I learned to deal with very early on. My mother was a drug addict. How many different drugs she used, I don't know, but i do know that her addictions took her away from my sister and me. As early as four, I became my sister's caretaker. I made sure she ate, and calmed her when she was afraid. My grandmother thought this was cute, but for us it was survival. My sister grew to distrust adults, and did not talk to adults until she was four. I remember many days that we would be locked outside for hours on end while my mother got high, and the many different houses we visited so my mother could get her fix. All that time required me to take care of my sister, barely a child myself. I do not feel bitter for doing it. No, I am glad for what I could do. My sister was sexually abused while we were in our mother's care, and because she has always had me, she has always had someone to turn to about her struggles. She was diagnosed with PTSD this past year. I am glad that she is finally getting the right help for her struggles with her past. My story of life with my mother was one of gross and blatant neglect. This was entirely ignored by Child Protective Services, who told my concerned family that it was none of their business. My grandfather's connection with a judge finally got us the help we needed, and so we were taken from our mother and went to live with our father.
Part Two: With Dad
I was six years old when I went to live with my dad. My focus was on school, so my first years with my dad are clouded in memories of learning to read, and then excelling at it. What little visitation rights my mother had were quickly abandoned by her, and all contact with her was lost. She became a stranger to me. My good grades in school soon brought expectation. My father was very critical of me, wants me to excel at school and punishing me for mediocre grades. My sister did not have these stringent expectations placed on her, but from very early on we were both expected to clean house. Every household chore was our responsibility, including landscaping chores. We were not rewarded for our work, but rather berated for everything we did wrong. This was the majority of interactions between our father and us, as he spent most of his time smoking pot and making model airplanes with his girlfriend. When I was between my seventh and eighth grade year, my dad's girlfriend left him. My dad took to going to bars and picking up strange women. I became the leader of my household; cooking, cleaning, and making coffee at 2am for when my dad came home. I still managed to do well on school, despite the added responsibility, though by this time my academic success went largely unnoticed. I remember one morning looking for lunch money, and resorting to using a $5 bill that my dad had used to snort coke off off my chess board. By this time I was fed up. We were soon evicted from our house, and were forced to move, where things only got worse. My dad's alcoholism was getting worse, and soon my grandpa moved in with us to help. My dad didn't take very well to this, and it didn't take him long to abandon us altogether to live with our grandpa.
Part Three: With Grandpa
I was 15 when my dad left. It was hard for me, because despite my dad's neglect, I had been able to do as I pleased. My grandpa was far more strict. It wasn't until I was 16 that I really started to appreciate my grandpa for all that he had done. For this first time in or lives, my sister and I went to see doctors regularly, and went to the dentist. We had clothes and shoes and were not forced to clean everything. He even bought me my first car. We had our fights, yes, but he took care of us in a way that no one had before. My sister still rebelled, however, showing more of our parents' personalities that I had ever hoped to see. My grandpa walked me down the aisle at my wedding when I was 20. Three months later he started to get sick. Three months after that my sister ran away from his home without warning after being sued by the store she worked at, and falsely claiming identity theft when her bank account was overdrafted by a rather large sum. My husband and I moved in with him in time for him to be diagnosed with cancer. I did my absolute utmost to help him through two surgeries and two rounds of chemotherapy. I put him in hospice care on Christmas Eve in 2010 and we lost him on New Year's Day. It seems cruel that life took away from me the only caregiver I had truly took care of me. I miss him every day.
For all of the Grammar Nazis: I typed this on my phone. It's not always the best judge of grammar or spelling so please forgive me.