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I don’t remember much about my very early life. I don’t remember much about my father as a child or my parents when they were together. I remember the rage my mother carried for him and the turmoil I experienced because I looked and behaved like him.

My mother would prevent my father from seeing me; he would quit paying child support. They lived in this cyclical hell, not realizing they weren’t hurting each other, they were hurting me. I had pets that my father would give to me to get me to his house (he lived with his parents) and then the next week or two they were gone, along with the promise of hope.

My father remarried my mother’s high-school friend. My mother remarried to her first high school sweetheart. My mother Rebecca and her new husband Thomas had a child who was born when I was six. Life wasn’t that great but it changed, as I knew it, far more for the worst.

Thomas adopted me. My mother asked if I wanted my last name to be the same as hers. I said yes, not knowing that would mean that my dad would be giving up his rights.

I called him dad, and remember telling him at a very young age that I hated him. Thomas may have been my new father but he was the enemy. He and his child took my mother away from me.

I am told that, right before my dad signed his rights away and Thomas adopted me, I called Thomas “dad,” in presence of my dad, Artison. I am sure that was a punch to the emotional gut.

Artison tells me he got tired of fighting with my mother about seeing me and child support, so to fix it he signed his rights away. It was a cop-out. Artison has never been the epitome of responsibility. Rebecca has never been the picture of emotional stability. Thomas has never been emotionally available. Add them together and shake and you have a volatile, if not poisonous, situation for the little girl involved.

I don’t remember having a bed after age ten until I was old enough to work and pay for one. I slept on the floor, on a palette of a few blankets. My little brother slept next to me. He may have also been the enemy, but he was my enemy. It was either the floor or the couch, I didn’t have a bed, and I certainly didn’t have friends over. That was my secret shame. In that shame I went to sleep, never to remember my dreams, but chanting my mantra “It won’t be this way forever.”


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