Many of my personal journeys to self-understanding have come from trying something new. One of the biggest mistakes in my life was leaving my mother for my father at age 16.
I know that sounds strange. My parents have been separated (not divorced, no) since I was 2 years old. I have experienced a lot of strange ups and downs since that time, that were mostly due to other people’s choices. The summer I turned 16 my father decided to move in with his girl friend. He knew my high school was considering changing its boundaries and my special arts busing for being in the Regional Arts Drama Program was up on the chopping block. So he proposed that he would find a house, with his girl and her younger son (just turned 17), and that I could live with them and still be able to attend my high school.
Now, the idea for most teens to change high school half-way through is bad enough, but it was worse for me.
My mother was a roamer – her average stay in any one place was 2 years at that point (3 years was the longest she’d managed previously). Between the ages of 2 and 10 I had moved 7 times. During that time my one saving grace was the fact that my mother always brought me to my Grandmother’s house to attend school. My first 7 years of schooling took place at the same elementary school, which I loved. Then, after one of our moves when I was 11 years old, her boy friend at the time told her it was ‘ridiculous’ to keep sending me to school at my Grandmother’s house when there was a perfectly good school right across the street (or there abouts) from our house.
My world was shattered (a horrifying 3 year experiment that nearly drove me insane).
I did not want to relive that horrible experience during high school. After having half my soul ripped from my body as an adolescent (everything feels that much worse when you’re a kid), I didn’t want to experience it again. So I agreed to move in with my father (to try it out for one year), keep my high school and live like a traditional family.
Needless to say, not only did I break my mother’s heart, but I lost the other half of my soul when she moved 3 hours away before I could change my mind back.
Life with my father was not like my times visiting him on the weekends as a child. I learned very quickly that he didn’t trust me (like my mother did) and ruled the roost with a firm, “My way or the high way” state of mind. High school was still awesome but now my happiness at home suffered.
You might find it interesting that I haven’t spoken with him in the past 5 years (I’m now well into my 30s) – his choice, not mine… well that’s not entirely true. He misinterpreted a situation (more than one but he lumps them altogether) and refuses to apologize. As I have spent my entire life understanding the middle-ground of problems (I was a great mediator in elementary and high school) I would always be the one to make a compromise.
I refuse to be the one to apologize for something he thinks I’ve done, that I haven’t – and he’s too proud and stubborn to admit he’s wrong. That being said, he’s never met his grandson because of this.
I firmly believe that had I learned more about what was happening with the re-zoning at my school before making my decision to live with my father, we might at least still be talking right now.
It’s interesting how a simple decision can have such rippling effects in my life for years after, and has left me reluctant to try anything new.