Step Family Living

This one is about two years old:

I walked into my still unfamiliar new house, and as usual I took pains to avoid my new family.  My new dad.  My new sister.  Being a sister is supposed to mean something more than being thrown into a house, thrown into two rooms so close we could speak to each other through the walls if we wanted.  But we didn’t want that.  We had no bond.  We had no similar feelings, ideas, or beliefs about the world.  We would never be friends.  But I introduced her still as what she was, a word that never made sense to me.  She was my sister.

She was not where my problems stemmed from, however.  I resented her, for reasons I’m still unsure of, but I didn’t hate her.  Him?  Him I hated.  Him I have always hated.  And not because of some psychoanalytic reason like his stealing my mother away from me, it was never anything like that.  I hated him for real reasons.  Reasons like his being a complete and irrefutable drunk.  Reasons like his being physically abusive to my mother and verbally abusive to everyone else in the house.  Reasons like the simple fact that he never loved my mom because he was never capable of it.  He just needed someone to take care of him.  A mommy he could screw, Oedipal values showing up later than Freud theorized.  Regardless, my reasons for hatred were persistent and I had no intentions of attempting to alleviate them.

Some days I even fantasized about his death.  A little tap and his unsteady body would fall, fall, fall down the very hard wooden stairs.  The perfect crime.  Drunks fall down all the time.  In my fantasy me and my brother would high five as the ambulance wheeled the asshole away.  I knew I would never hate him enough for those drastic measures, or maybe I did, but I never did follow through.

Instead, I started stealing from him.  After all, didn’t I deserve monetary retribution for putting up with his perverse morality?  His disrespect?  Maybe I did it out of disgust at seeing him defile the garage at four in the afternoon, drunk as hell.  Watching a grown man piss on his own property does something to you.  I didn’t just want his money, I deserved it.  At first, it was change, maybe a five or ten.  Gateway money. But it became more and more as my confidence grew.  Marijuana to cocaine.  A couple bucks to a couple hundred in a matter of weeks.

He’d even try to lure me, purposely leaving twenties lying around, trying to bait me into taking the money so he could prove to himself that I was the one with the issues.  That I was the one who lacked the scruples.  But I never cared about being caught.  He seemed to think I was ashamed, hiding some dirty secret, he never realized that I wanted him to know.  I needed him to understand that I had absolutely no respect for him.  If he ever cared to ask, I would have openly admitted to it.  And I would have laughed in his face while I did.

But my stealing did get out of control, as do all addictions eventually.  It became a habit I couldn’t break.  I wasn’t just stealing from someone who deserved it anymore.  I stole from my dear sister, caring little for our non-existent and never plausible sibling love, deciding her father was her responsibility and she owed me.  I stole from my mother, a woman drowning in her own pain.  I hated her in my own adolescent way too, the kind of hate that’s not real, but filled with an ignorant rage nonetheless.  I told myself that she brought me into this farce of a family, into this life, so she owed me too.  I told myself whatever I needed to hear to make what started out innocent okay.  After all, my mother may always be there for me in the long run, but what about all the times in between?  All the times when she drunkenly fell to the floor sobbing about how I ruined her life?  All the times she screamed at me for my seeming incapability to simply be human?  Didn’t that too deserve some sort of payment?  The whole world was in debt for my suffering.  I was unhappy and my wonderful new family needed to know it.

With adolescence comes anger and confusion.  Regret doesn’t show up until later.  At eighteen, I was running a bit behind.  But then I always was at the back of the crowd, never quite sure how to keep up with my peers.  So I shuffled through these few years feeling little else but hatred and fear and disgust at those around me, but always feeling it most within myself.  I survived fights and tears and screaming matches few could rival.  I survived watching my brother, the only one physically able to stand up to step daddy dearest, nearly paralyze him with one mistaken shove.  I even survived temporarily losing the respect of my mother, my sober saviour, with only a few lasting scars left to mark the battlefield.  But then it was over and they were gone.  My phony family finally left and it was just the three of us again.  I found my footing eventually and got over my addiction.  I let go of the anger towards a man I never knew, never considered family, and I think I kind of grew up.

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About laurengowing

I read prose. I write prose. I don't really read poetry, but sometimes I write it.
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2 Responses to Step Family Living

  1. You said on Thebloggess.com that you wanted someone to tell you that they’ve gone through horrible panic attacks like you have. You didn’t want to be alone. Well, I can tell you for sure you’re not alone. I’ve been suffering massive panic attacks and anxiety for years, sometimes controlled by benzos, sometimes not. They pass. It doesn’t seem like they will, but they always do. I hope your test results were nothing too serious, and I hope the panic passes soon.

    • laurengowing says:

      The test results were nothing serious, but they always feel like they are don’t they?? Thank you so much for your words. I find that hearing you’re not alone is one of the best ways to help the panic pass quicker. Thank you. Thank you.

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