Snippet of the Past
Yeah, I'm a drug addict. And a prostitute. The whole world knows. Not because I robbed my own family. Not because I ended up behind bars. Not because I've been hassled by the cops when soliciting customers from a local street corner. Not because I'm shooting up in the public bathrooms at your city park. Everyone knows because I told them all. I never tried to hide any of it. I never felt the need to.

But before I was a meth-addicted hooker, I was just a strange loner kid. Never really had any friends growing up. Never really needed any either. I was at odds with everything and everyone surrounding me. I'll never forget my frustration at being held a prisoner for the first seventeen years of my life.

I love a few people in my family very much, but the rest of them can fuck off and die. They'd probably say the same about me. I know what they think of me. I can imagine with eerie accuracy the things they whisper amongst themselves the moment I turn to leave the room. I notice the tension-heavy silence that falls over the them upon my entrance. They don't know what to make of me. They do their best to reduce me to their simplest understanding of the words used to describe me, the labels they apply to me like scarlet letters. They don't have the first fucking clue about anything. They're harmless.

I hope they never thought that treating me the way they did was going to break me and that I might turn out like them and be respectable, in the end. That was simply never going to happen. Not in a million years. See, the things is that none of them could take it. None of them could be me or live in my shoes. Not even for a day. Then again, the thought of living one of their lives for a day scares the fuck out of me.

They blend perfectly into the rest of the world that smiles when they hurt. They think they can't be honest when someone asks them "how are you doing today?" In their minds, only a couple of answers exist to that question. The rest will never be spoken. They're missing out on so much.

I don't know the first thing about raising children or parenting. I'll be the first to admit that the other women in my family (my mother excluded) are far more cut out for that shit than I am. I'm fairly certain that there isn't a maternal bone in my entire body. No instincts to kick in. No nesting. No patience. No warm fuzzy shit.

They must consider me an embarrassment and think that my life is cold, disgusting and empty. They seem to get up each day with some sense of purpose  --- they have kids to take care of, which means lives to lead in the right direction. It demands endless energy and sacrifice. I'm just a druggie running around with different guys doing god knows what. "How sad," they will say. But it's not what they're thinking.

Their thoughts are bitter and they find me revolting. They would die before admitting this, as if pride like that matters.

And I had to stop caring a very long time ago. It was so difficult when I was younger, while I was still stuck at home. Now I hardly think of them. But back then, it really sucked. They all glared at me like I was target practice for the resentment they felt towards my mother. Why should their parents be stuck with their youngest sister's daughter? The one she had irresponsibly and unacceptably abandoned at such a young age, before returning to the streets to get high with some loser of the week?

They didn't think their parents did anything to deserve this burden. And they were right. My grandmother and grandfather are good people, they always have been. Personally, I always thought that perhaps they'd rushed into getting married all those years ago and that they were not exactly the most compatible two people on the planet. Then again, who is?

But even though they clashed in many ways and seemed to have very opposite values or ideas sometimes, they were always good people. They always took care of their children and provided for them, no matter what was going on between them. They made huge sacrifices and always put their kids before themselves, which is what all parents owe their children.

But my aunts, as shallow and selfish as they may have been, were right. My grandparents didn't deserve to have their youngest daughter dump off her first child on them like it was their own, after they'd raised four girls before me. That was the last thing they deserved.

That's just kind of how it happened though. There was a long list of things that my mother has done to them over the years, all of which were undeserved and cruel on her part. I know that my grandmother certainly did nothing to warrant my mother stealing all of her jewelry that my grandfather had given her as gifts over the years, just so she could peddle it for heroin on the street. Those were precious metals and gems that could never be replaced, and each one had a story behind it. A love story between my grandparents, that my mother flushed down a proverbial toilet so that she could shoot up, throw up and pass out. Seems worth it to me...

In my adult life, I have never had a hard time understanding why my aunts had such acid feelings towards my mother (if you can call her that). I couldn't blame any of them for feeling they way they did about her. In all fairness, they probably only understand a tiny fraction of the venomous hatred that I have for her now, after everything that's transpired.

But my mother wasn't around when I was growing up. I hardly ever saw her. She was some vague and fuzzy relative who I barely recognized when she made an appearance for a holiday or some other very infrequent event. I didn't know who she was or really care, I was way too young to understand any of it. I had always called my grandmother "mom," and my grandfather "dad," since I spoke my first words after they took me home from the hospital.

It didn't feel like there was a parent missing in my life. Not until I started getting older and that iciness from her sister's was directed towards me. With time, I became aware that they were intolerant of the very idea of me. They made me feel unwelcome, even in my own home with my grandparents. They paraded their kids around when they would visit, trying to find ways to remind me that I was actually a grandchild, not a child. They were the children of my grandparents. Those were their parents, not mine. They would demand stupid things, insisting that it was only fair that their children be treated the same as me. They were pathetic.

My mother was obviously never there to take the blame she deserved. She left me to absorb it all in her place. She was far too busy in her own world, that incidentally revolved around herself. I'm pretty sure she dated a new guy every few months for most of my childhood. Some would last longer and show up again later after disappearing for a while, like the last day of a cold or flu before you start feeling better.

Once I was about twelve years old, the wars began between my grandmother and I. There were some smaller and less dramatic ones between my grandfather and I as well. Suddenly, I had thoughts and opinions of my own. And every one of them was quite the opposite of what my grandparents believed or felt was acceptable. Neither of us wanted to back down, and eventually that meant I had to leave.

In some ways, forcing me to leave was the best thing that could have happened to me. In other ways, it was a disaster. I'm still glad they did it though, because I think I might have just died if I had stayed at the coast. Although I ended up there a couple years later, when my mother relapsed on a whim, I think I needed that two years away from that horrible little coastal town where time is frozen and ideas creep forward too slow to notice any progress.

I left home when I was seventeen. I didn't have my own place to live until last December, a few months after I turned twenty-three. That's a lot of time spent living in motels or crashing on a friend's couch.

So how do I feel about my family now? Well, it's complicated. I pretty much cut all ties with everyone except for my grandparents and my sister, although the way she has been acting recently has made me unwilling to talk to her unless she needs help and has no one, or she starts recognizing the people that care about her and treating them decently.

It makes me sad that my dad (grandfather) doesn't understand me or approve of my life at all. I don't expect him to pat me on the back for the choices I've made. I guess he doesn't have to like what I do, but I wish he would not be so ashamed of me. That is what bothers me most. It would be really great if he could somehow get past all the petty things and see that in spite of being a drug addict or an escort, I am a good person who is honest with others and lives a decent life. That would be really nice.

I don't want him to look down on me like I know he does my mother. Because I am actually nothing like her. If it seems that we are similar, it's only because you're not looking deeper than the surface. Several months ago, I found out my dad had prostate cancer. I was so upset. I went home and tried hard to hold back tears all day long. I was so scared of losing him, so sad at the thought of him being gone. He had an operation recently to remove his prostate, and I'm hoping everyday that he makes it through this and is around for years to come.

It made me realize a couple of things. First, it will kill me if he doesn't find it in his heart to accept me on some level without feeling shamed by me before it's too late. That's just not how things should be left. And also, it dawned on me that he and I are very much alike in a lot of ways. It doesn't seem that way at all, not at first. But the more "regular" work I've started to do online as a writer, the more it becomes obvious to me that we share a lot of core values.

I think I got my sense of doing business with other people from my upbringing, living with him and my grandmother. I remember as a child, it was important to my dad that I earned the money for something I wanted and saved up for it before I could get it. Even though they spared no expense when it came to making me happy, that still stuck with me somehow. The idea of pulling your own weight, of working to get the things you wanted in life. He taught me that. It might have taken years for it to really sink in, but as an adult I understand it more than I did then.

Even if he disagrees with what I choose to do for work, I have to say that I operate with the same honesty, integrity and ethics that he does as a business owner. He may never understand that, but it does make a difference to me that he taught me those things because it allows me to live my life with more peace knowing that I'm being fair with others and doing the right thing at the end of the day.

I went to see him after his operation, but he was just out of surgery and being pumped full of painkillers so he was asleep when I got to the hospital. I chatted with my grandmother for a few minutes, and then she got ready to leave. Just before we left, she woke him up a little bit to say goodbye. He was surprised to see me there. He could barely open his eyes or say anything, but he said "Is that my Ashly? It's so good to see you." It really jumped out at me, mostly because of the way his voice sounded when he said it.


I will never forget that moment. I just hoped he knew how much I loved him and that he could tell it was that love that brought me there that day, to see him. Just like I know that he has been there for me my whole life because he loves and cares about me. I can't imagine taking advantage of someone who loves you like that. My mother has always preyed on the love she has from her parents. I hate her most for that, I think.


My grandmother seems to understand me maybe a little bit better than he does, or maybe she's just a bit more open minded. She doesn't approve either, but at least she's willing to hear about things like my book or my writing, wiling to get sort of excited for me in some way. That's been pretty cool, I was surprised when she agreed to read my little journal. Even more shocked that she responded the way she did to it.


I know they don't understand why I hate my mother so much. They probably never will. It's pretty far from anything they have ever experienced, so it's hard for them to relate. It's hard for pretty much anyone to relate to. I get that. But I want to try and finally explain it in writing, since I've never really done that. Here it goes...


I understand why my grandmother insisted that I leave when I was twelve. I know I was hard to deal with and I don't hold anything against her for needing me to leave for a while. I have no anger towards her for that at all. It did hurt me at the time, but that's because I was a kid and didn't understand it as well then. I probably needed to sort some stuff out anyways, and I don't think it was possible living with them back then.


At the time, it felt like my parents didn't want me anymore. I know better now, but back then it just felt like rejection. In a way it was, but everyone has their threshold and my grandmother couldn't take any more of my negativity (she didn't suspect that I was depressed) and she would have gone crazy if I had stayed any longer. I honestly don't know how she put up with me as long as she did, looking back.


So I went to stay with my mom, who had married a pedophile and was in total denial about it. At thirteen, I didn't think there was anything wrong with the strange relationship he slowly developed with me. To me, skipping school and having fun all the time seemed cool and even though I knew it was a little weird and that I couldn't tell anyone about it, nothing ever happened that made it seem wrong to me. I was unhappy there and going through a rough transition, so I was desperate for any friend I could find that I could talk to.


I thought that's what he was. We had this secret from my mom, who I didn't like much at the time. It was a harmless secret, so I didn't feel bad about it. All we did was go to the movies and hang out doing fun things all day. It wasn't until much later that the warning signs began, but I was still too young and stupid to see them for what they were at the time.


Basically, he was patient as he built up the trust between us. He became a close friend and convinced me that he was on my side somehow. He took total advantage of my ignorance and totally betrayed me a few years later, when he slept with me. After my mom found out, she went psychotic and all she gave a fuck about was what had been done to her.


She didn't care about anything except for how hurt she was by what had happened. She blamed me and him equally, telling me that sixteen years old was old enough to know better. Even though I never initiated a goddamn thing with him, and never would have. Even though it happened in the apartment she and I had gotten together, that he was not supposed to be staying in. Even though he had admitted to her that he used to watch me shower through a hole in the bathroom wall back when I was thirteen.


She blamed us both for what we had "done" to her. But it sounds like she got over being mad at him pretty quick. She later told me that she had to go back and have sex with him one more time, just to make sure that there was nothing left between the two of them and to get some closure. That almost made me want to vomit.


The only interaction between us after that was her showing up at the courthouse when I had to sit in front of a grand jury of twelve strangers and tell them what had happened. She came into the waiting room where I was sitting and started screaming that I was a whore and that I'd fucked her husband. She had to be escorted out of the court by two officers. That's what I got from her.


It took me years to stop feeling the guilt she made sure I kept feeling about what happened with him. He is a sick person that molests children, but I felt so bad about it for so long. I couldn't talk to a single person about any of this. No one. And she made me feel so bad about it all that I felt I shouldn't talk about it, even if there was someone. I felt ashamed and thought I was an awful person. Sometimes I still do.


My mother abandoned me in the worst ways possible. She has never been there for me when I needed her, except to shoot me up. And she usually got something out of me each time she was there to do that, so I'm not sure if that really counts.


She did the same thing when she found out that her boyfriend David slept with me when I was seventeen. That time, I ended up with no where to stay and had no idea what I was going to do. That was one of the lowest points in my life, I will never forget the way I felt in the weeks that followed that.


About a month after she found out about that, I got pregnant for the first time. I knew I didn't want to have a baby at all, and wanted to get an abortion. But the day I found out, I wasn't sure what to do first. I felt alone and lost and needed someone to call who I could tell. I needed help. I wasn't sure if she would talk to me again so soon after what had happened. I decided to take a chance and try calling her.


When I told her, she said, "Well, an abortion is only like $500, so go turn a couple of tricks and get it taken care of," before she hung up on me. I probably should have called someone else, but I didn't know who else to call.


The sickest part of this whole story is that I tried really hard to make up for what I thought I did to her, after she started talking to me again. I loaned her money whenever she needed it, I gave her rides whenever she called and needed to get somewhere, I did my best to pretend like David wasn't in the room with us when I was at her house, I did whatever I could that I thought might show her that I loved her and cared about her, and I never meant to hurt her.

It took a while before I realized that would never happen. She'd never love me like a mom is supposed to. She would never be there for me like I tried to be for her. She would never apologize for anything or admit that she was wrong. Instead, she took horrible advantage of my willingness to help her if it meant being forgiven.

She has literally crossed every boundary that a mother should never cross. She shot me up. She asked me to do a "duo" with her and one of her clients. Trying not to be vulgar, but that means she engaged in a sexual act with someone and I was involved in it. She sent me out into the streets with nowhere to go because the guy she was with at the time was a scum bag who had no respect for me or her. She did all this without a second thought.

I wish I'd never even known her. I wish she had just disappeared when I was born and left me the fuck alone all my life, so I wouldn't have had to figure out the hard way that she doesn't care about me at all.

When I was fourteen, my mom and stepfather relapsed and made me leave, for no reason. He was so crazy that he convinced her I was doing all sorts of weird shit that I wasn't doing at all, and they literally forced me out of the house and made me leave. I didn't know what was going on, and didn't believe that she was on drugs when my grandparents tried to explain that to me. I honestly didn't think she would ever do that. I didn't understand it.

It felt like I was going back to live with them because they had no choice. I felt like I wasn't wanted there, because they'd already made me leave a couple years earlier. I felt like no one wanted me in the whole world, no one. I felt like a burden. I felt angry. I wanted to be on my own, so I didn't have to feel like someone's problem anymore.

It's a long story, but David and I ended up getting married years later. We still are now. And in the beginning, not long after we started seeing each other after she found out and left town...I found out that he'd slept with her. I had told him I could handle anything in this world that he could possibly do, except for that. What bothers me more than what he did, is what she did.

She later admitted to me that she lied to him in order to turn him against me. She said her goal was to get revenge on me for "stealing him" from her. She enjoyed the satisfaction of doing something like that to me, when it was him she should have been angry at for leaving her. I never made him do that. I never asked for him to do that. All I wanted all this time was for ONE person, just one, to love me enough to be on my side. No one ever really has. Not even my own husband, she made sure of that. I didn't know about what had happened between them until we had already said "I do."

It hurts me that he layed my heart out on the table for her to carve like some fucking jack-o-lantern. But it hurts me far more that she would take such a sick pleasure in doing just that.

The way I see things, if she had ever done the right thing and been a good mother to me, none of those bad things would have happened. If she had ever once been with a man who was a good person and wasn't looking for ways to abuse her children, I would have been safe. If she had been there for me the way a mother should be, I would have been able to stand up for myself better if something bad did happen. Because I would have known that she would be there for me and understand. I would have known that in the end, the bond between mother and daughter is stronger and more important than any slimeball guy she was dating.

But I didn't. I didn't feel that way. I didn't have that from her, and it made me want someone to love me more than anything. Without that, I was willing to settle for having Chad as a friend, if that's all I could have. I thought that's what he was, I really did. So you can only imagine what it felt like to be betrayed by both of them. David too.

First, my grandparents. Then Chad. Then David. But the rejection I've felt from my mother has gone on my entire life and continues to this day.

She has been staying with my grandparents at their house, and that just kills me. It's not because I am out to get her. I think people assume it's because I hate her that I can't stand my grandparents helping her. And not to be mistaken, I do hate her. But that's not why.

The reason it bothers me so much is because it makes me feel like they are all against me. Everyone of the people I mentioned so far. Everyone. It feels like no one loves me enough to take my side. It makes me feel like I don't matter enough to anyone to say no to her and stand behind me. It feels like betrayal.

I have so much respect for my grandparents, but letting her stay in their house when I have gone out of my way to make it on my own since I left is unbearable to me. I know she's their daughter, but all she has ever done is lie to them, take advantage of their willingness to help her, use them and treat them like a piece of shit.

A couple Christmases ago, I remember she ended up flaking out on going to visit them over something stupid she was arguing about with David. I drove down with Rick, only to find out that my grandfather was in the hospital. This wasn't long after he had his pacemaker put in, so I was really worried. We didn't end up getting to have dinner together like we'd planned, since he wasn't there and my grandmother was worried sick the whole time.

While my mom used something petty and ridiculous as some excuse not to make a two hour car trip, I was at the hospital visiting my dad. I wanted to see him before I returned home, since he missed dinner. What if I never got another chance to see him? My mother never thinks this way, because she doesn't care.

I know my grandfather got upset when I didn't go to my great-grandmother's funeral. I know he was really close with his mother, but so was I when I was a kid. Last mother's day, I went with him to visit her grave for the first time. I hope he knows how much I loved her. She was a very special lady, and there are many occasions on which I wish I could call her and talk to her about something that I know she would understand. I miss her a lot. I think of her often. She was an amazing person. I hope when I am older, I am like she was.

My dog Bub means more to me than anything in the world. Since I got him, I'd often call him "pretty boy." It just kind of came to me naturally, but I wasn't sure where that term came from. It always sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. After over a year of having him, I realized it was what my great-grandmother used to call her birds when she would talk to them. It made me smile, because it meant that she had passed on a part of herself that lived in me today. She helped to shape who I am now. We shared that love for animals that I have, in a very special way.

So, there it is. I can't write anymore. I'm exhausted. I just thought this was important to get out. Remember, this isn't about hating Cynthia. This is about needing someone to show me that they love me more than they do her, after all the horrible things she has done. Not just to me, but to my sister and her entire family. If I had to leave at twelve, I don't know how she can stay there now at almost forty years old. There are some lines you should just never cross.

My grandparents won't even speak to my aunt Jennifer, because they don't like her husband. All he did was get a little mouthy with her kids when he was drunk, something my grandmother has been guilty of in the past. My mother is married to a fucking pedophile who slept with one of her children, and she is staying at their house.

If this doesn't explain how I feel, then I give up. At least I tried. No matter what, I will always have nothing but love and respect for my grandparents, regardless of their faults.


Comments:
 
sagitta   sagitta wrote
on 8/9/2011 3:40:51 AM
Read it today. And the life goes on.....

thegirlnextfloor
Novel / Novella
Memoir
writing thegirlnextfloor
"The world is not ready for some people when they show up, but that shouldn't stop anyone."
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Synopsis
This started out as a rant about who I am and how it conflicts with my own family and the world in general. Then it kind of went backwards through time, giving some background of my childhood and the path that led me to where I am today, in several different ways.
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