Sep 09

for a while now

Why are you never here over break?  
Her eyebrows are low, but her eyes are curious.
That’s when I go and see the rest of my family.  They don’t live with me.

She walks away.

I don’t understand.  Why now? I thought I was used to it.
The doctor tries to give me an answer, her last words still swirling through my head.
Many changes . . .
Acute stress . . .
Unhealthy coping mechanisms . . .
Depression . . .

Now, I understand some of you may live across two houses,
My health teacher walks across the classroom to stand closer to me.
Maybe your parents are separated, or you’re children of divorce . . .

Do you get confused?  Like, mix up rules between your houses?
It’s nearly tomorrow, and dead black outside.  A friend lays on her bed a few feet above me, feet dangling off the edge.
No.  At least for me, that doesn’t actually happen as often as everybody else seems to think it does.
She frowns, rolling towards me.
So you’re used to it, then?  It’s easy for you to go between parents?

Am I used to it?

I thought I was.  Maybe I am. I guess I’m not really sure.

I know I should be.

But how do you get used to . . .

Your world flipping upside down every few weeks, as everyone smiles and tells you it’s so good to have you back where you belong?

Everybody around you speaking about you in hushed voices you can hear, and having to pretend you don’t notice, don’t understand what they are saying?

Being told everything--good news, bad news, news in general, and everything in between--twice, but both times it’s just a little bit twisted, and you have to try and figure out what the truth is?

The promises that everything I do, I do for you when that’s blatantly not true?

The check-ins in one life to make sure you’re following God in the other, and the check-ins in the other to make sure you know that whatever you see in the first isn’t healthy behavior?

Half of your family not knowing you well enough to know that actually, this is your natural hair color, and actually, the fourth of july isn’t your favorite holiday, and actually, you don’t do drugs in your spare time, and both halves not knowing you well enough to know simple things about you, like your favorite color is black?

No one understanding why you had to force the smile when they told you the big news?

Everyone seeming to just up and forget that he’s not your full brother, and you don’t want them to call him that around you?

But you bite your tongue and lower your eyes, because it’s been like this for a while now, and it’s never going to change.

Is it easy?

That one I know the answer to.

Is it easy . . .

To leave immediate family, not knowing when you might see them again?

To sit smiling at dinner while the people around you insult the rest of your family?

To watch, powerless, as you see a parent replace you in their life with a child of their own, one who isn’t just a screw-up?

To be forced into a religion in one life, a religion you don’t belong to, a religion that tells you you will never be as strong and as worthy as a man, but you attend and look pretty at church anyways, because you know you’ll get in trouble if you don’t?

To be two different people, with different values and different lives, one for each parent?

To get along with closed-minded people who are only family through a marriage you never wanted to see happen?

To always be in the very center of a custody battle, a telephone between two adults who should be mature enough not to need their daughter to talk to one another for them?

To still have two sides of your family wrapped up in hate, still obsessed and seeking revenge for something that happened over a half-decade ago?

To let yourself be manipulated by the people who should love and care for you, let yourself be persuaded to do what they want while inside you’re screaming?

To have your feelings for your parents go up and down like a rollercoaster, as they insult you and treat you like trash and then tell you they love you with all their hearts?

To have to teach yourself to cry silently when you were only seven, because they would never understand why you were crying, and you knew you would never be able to explain it was because of them?

To have strange people come and talk to you about things you didn’t understand, and have to meet with the school counselor four times as much as your friends?

To try to explain to your friends what it is like at home, only to be met with confusion and pity?

To live two different lives?

To sit scared and exhausted in your room, hearing your parents scream at each other just outside, and bite down as hard as you can on your hand so they wouldn’t hear you?

To that what you’re doing right now is dangerous, to know as you type this, that if either of them ever read this, ever know what you have written down in journals and diaries about them, ever realize how you really feel, your relationship with them will be over, and you will never be able to get them back, and pray that the fact they do not care about you will keep them from ever reading anything of yours?

No, I don’t think I’d call that easy.

But I hold back my tears and swallow the scream building inside me.

And I know I shouldn’t be complaining.

But--or maybe because?-- it’s been like this

For a while now.