My life has been completely changed three times so far. I’m not talking “oh I’ll drive this way to work today” or I guess I’ll change my major again”. I’m talking waking up in one world and going to sleep in a completely different one in the span of 24 hours. The first was when I was 18 and was forced to go to a court hearing between my parents that should have just been about the formality of changing custody. I wanted to spend my senior year living with my father and that had to be finalized legally. I also needed to stay on my birth mother’s insurance plan due to my disability (Cerebral Palsy). Seems simple enough given my age and the limited amount of time I would even be dependant. However, nothing about it was simple. At the risk of sounding trite, the next was the day it was verified that I was pregnant. (verified is a very purposeful choice of word, but more on that in another post). The third was the day my family and I were T-boned (is that a real phrase?) in the intersection directly in front of our apartment and my leg was shattered.
I sat in court and listened to my (birth) mother lie and lie and lie. It was so blatant that I honestly thought she was mistakenly talking about someone else. She accused me of playing up my disability, of getting in trouble at school. of always being in trouble at home and worst of all wanting to move out because I expected to have name brand products and she was “too poor” to provide them. She even had my older sister get on the stand and testify to the same general idea. Now, up to this point I had been very close to my mom. I had until recently truly believed that she loved me but was overwhelmed by having to take care of my sister, me and then my niece (who was a toddler at the time) Over the years just before this hearing she had announced when I was fifteen that she was ‘done parenting” that if we needed anything else we could handle it ourselves. She had gotten to the point that she wouldn’t even speak to me unless I stood directly in front of her and screamed. Even given all that I still chalked it up to being overwhelmed and stupidly thought that by leaving I would be lightening her load. I wasn’t being completely unselfish, I DID want attention and I DID want a chance to live with my dad and step mom and I DID want to know what it would be like to be on my own with them for a while and away from all the loneliness of what felt to me like going through adolescence with no guide. I did NOT do it to hurt her. I did NOT want things to get worse. It wasn’t really up to me. I didn’t realize it until the court date arrived.
My mother, the always impeccably dressed (if overdone for my taste) full make up, big earrings, designer clothes bag and sunglasses with big Texas hair to match arrived in court in what I can only describe as a brown sack. I think it was a pull over dress. It was plain. It was dark. It was NOT my mother. She had on almost no make up. Her hair was flat. She had on small if any jewelry. She didn’t even have her nails or hair done. I didn’t even recognize her. I had to look twice to be sure it was her. I was shocked. Our attorney told me that it is pretty common for attorneys to tell their clients to dress the part of whatever it is they are trying to convey. In this case I suppose it was poverty. I really don’t know. Throughout the day we were in the same court room and she avoided my eyes. At one point in the courthouse lunchroom she walked past me and sat with her back to me at a table three down from me. It was like I was invisible. I didn’t know what in the world to think. Each time I heard her side speak I was floored. It was one lie after another after another. When it was my turn on the stand her attorney accused me of having my CP be in remission (which btw is impossible as CP is a permanent condition NOT a disease or illness that can go into remission) I kept trying to catch my mother’s eye from the stand b/c I was trying to grasp that this was in fact the same person I had lived with my entire life. The person who used my disability to get herself attention. The person who ignored my disability almost to the point of my losing the ability to walk because she couldn’t deal with the fact that it WAS real OR because she didn’t want to pay the deductible or miss getting her premiums refunded thanks to not using the insurance all year. She refused to look at me. The longer the day went on, the more ridiculous the lies got the more I realized why she refused to look at me. She used me. She threw me under the bus to be sure that she wouldn’t have to pay for me to stay on her insurance. She was so determined to make sure that my father was punished by making him pay for my insurance that she didn’t mind using my heart and health (not to mention my sister’s) as the bullet to wound him. When it was finally over and we were all leaving the courtroom that woman I had called my mother stopped me and called out “I love you” “Call me” in a weak pathetic put on voice. I stopped dead. I turned around and starred. My mind was whirring. My ears were ringing. What the hell was going on? What did she say? Who the hell was she? I starred for a minute and so did she. Neither of us moved. She looked at me doe eyed. I wanted to vomit. I opened my mouth and rather than vomit the words FUCK YOU flew out of my mouth at top volume. I had never in my life said that to her. I had thought it over small things, bigger things, teenage things. This time, I hadn’t even meant to say it. It just flew out. I turned and walked away crying harder than I have ever and maybe since. The very next thing I remember is being in my bedroom just inside the door, still bawling, and dropping to the floor. I died that day. The child in me that believed that mothers always love their children. The child that KNEW that mothers never MEAN to hurt their daughters. The child that knew how the world worked and where she fit in it. I didn’t have a place anymore so my world stopped and my heart with it. It’s frightening when your heart breaks and you don’t die.
The next thing I remember is waking up in my bed the next day. I was told that I was essentially catatonic so my father put me in my bed and my step-mom (Lisa) tucked me in and checked on me periodically through the night. I know I woke up in a world I felt I’d never seen. I am SO thankful that this new world had two people whom I know love me and were able to help me walk though it one step at a time and remind me that I was ok and safe and loved. That all that had happened was not my fault and that there is a new way to continue in life knowing what I know now. It was nothing but a blessing. It was frightening, it was surprising, it was invigorating and exciting. It was the best and and shortest year of my life. More posts on that to come. To end this on a positive note: Life does go on, it does get better, with and without the scars left behind. Keep reading to learn more 🙂