*** The first three books in my six-part dystopian series have officially made their way out into the world! Check them out!
For the sake of blogging, self-exploration, and contemplation, I’ve been slowly making my way through answering questions from this list
Today’s Question: What is your saddest memory?
Dang it. I mean, there’s a lot of sad memories that cross my mind when staring at that question, but I’m going to go with a memory that’s sad more because of its life-defining consequence rather than it just being sad in and of itself.
When I was ten, my parents separated and then divorced. Their divorce was extremely volatile, so much so that my mother’s lawyer once quoted that the only case he worked that was more volatile ended in murder. My parents shared custody of me as well and from the age of ten until the age of fifteen, I was stuck in-between their insane feud.
The custody agreement was that I would “transfer” between my dad and my mom every Sunday evening at 9pm (spending a week with each.) My mother refused to ever participating in the transporting so it was always my dad dropping me off and picking me up. On the Sundays that I was with my mom, we would go snow-skiing. (I lived in Minnesota at the time.) One day after returning home from skiing, I made the grave mistake of uttering two words, “I’m tired.” The moment those words came out of my mouth, I knew I had FUCKED UP. The look on my mom’s face was like I had just handed her a grenade when I knew she wanted to blow something up.
Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.
Even at that age, I knew that I had to super careful about what I said or did around either one of my parents because it gave them fuel for their feud. I was their “battle toy.”
My mom picks up the phone (mind you, she and my father could never hold a conversation, and I mean that VERY LITERALLY. Literally everything was done by their lawyers.) I stood and watched in helpless horror as she called my dad and the moment he answered, she said, “Kelley is tired, she’s staying here tonight. She can go to your place after school tomorrow.” -CLICK.-
Now, my dad had the opportunity to be the bigger person here. He obviously recognized that my mother had seized yet another opportunity to try and antagonize him through me. He could have called back, assured his eleven year old daughter that it was okay and that he’d see her after school tomorrow, and then if he was really that bent about it, he could have called his lawyer the next morning and asked him to remind my mom’s lawyer what the custody agreement was. But for fuck’s sake, leave the poor kid out of your drama!
Nope. Instead, he got all puffed up and said to himself, “Oh I’ll show HER!” So what does he do? He calls the fucking COPS.
My mother’s house was in a middle-upper class suburban cul-de-sac where all of the moms didn’t work and got together on each other’s porches to gossip on a daily basis. A cop shows up at our house. I’m ushered out to a cop car. I’m wearing a grey night gown with a cat head on it, and all I have in the world is my ACTUAL cat (at the time, I brought her back and forth between my parent’s houses). As I’m being escorted out of my house clutching my cat’s kennel for dear life and completely and utterly humiliated as neighbors are poking their heads out to see what the hell was going on (again, it wasn’t the type of neighborhood where a cop car showed up at night…) I strongly recall the realization that I was completely alone in this world, I had absolutely no one. Neither one of my parents cared about protecting me, or even thought of me at all or of what they were doing to me or putting me through. I had no one to rely on or depend on. No one was going to protect me or parent me or be there for me.
That wasn’t the first time that I was put in the middle of my parent’s war and it wouldn’t be the last time (until I finally had enough at fifteen and had to go to court to get permission to move across the country to live with my stepmom, a story for another time) but that memory set the stage for my difficult future (teens and twenties.) I had no respect for my parents (they weren’t respectable parents at the time, they were selfish narcissists) and I had no one to look up to or to go to for advice or protection or even comfort. I’ve been through darker, far more traumatic events, especially as my teenage years unfolded, but that particular memory really cemented how vulnerable I became in those years having to figure life out the hard way. I was vulnerable to a LOT of abuse because I was desperate to be loved and to be seen.
The past is the past and in some ways I’m grateful for what I experienced because it really woke me up, but it also shifted my approach to “survival mode” where I just did whatever I needed to in order to get through each day. When your focus is “how do I get through this one day” you don’t really have the luxury of looking ahead toward your future. That made my teen years and my twenties extremely difficult and I got myself into a lot of bad situations, abusive relationships, etc. I made a lot of mistakes and I was misunderstood by a lot of people. It was difficult to sort of “un-learn” survival mode and figure out how to secure a stable, happy life for myself. I’m glad that I finally managed to do that. I’m grateful for the fact that I know what it’s like to be in dark places because I have a lot of empathy and compassion for other people’s struggles. I’m aware of the world around me and I try to help when I am able to. But I also wouldn’t relive my teens and my twenties for anything in the world, and when I look back and try to pinpoint when, how, and where I went into survival mode, that slightly insignificant event had a significant impact on me.
Moving on… lol.