I bought this book called "The Writer's Block" the other day at Barnes & Noble. It is great! it is for (what else would it be for) when you have writer's block to stimulate your brain, or just to write in general. There are three kinds of exercises in there. They are spark words [just a word or two to get your mind flowing about something], little story starter type things ["According to the National Coffee Organization, there are more than 300,000 Americans who consume at least ten cups of coffee each day. Describe one of these people."] and there are little blurbs about different authors that tell you where they get their inspiration. Anyway, I was bored tonight and reading this book. One of the spark words I happened upon was 'custody'. My parents are divorced, so I thought it would be pretty easy to write a story about someone else like this. I wanted to write it in first person. I started writing and after about the second sentence I decided to make it my actual story. It's the first time I've written about it or actually said anything like this about it other than the blatant fact of it so . . . sorry. It's REALLY long.
I was 7 years old. I couldn't figure out why my parents were doing this to me. Had I done something wrong, upset them? I was willing to do anything to turn back time and fix it, if I could change whatever it was that had made them come to this decision. Divorce. It was such an unknown concept that I had never even thought about. The day they told me, Mom and I were sitting at the dining room table, and Dad was pacing the room. Finally, Dad put his hand on my shoulder and said, "We've decided to get divorced." All I could do was put my head on the table and cry. I cried for hours like that. I didn't know what made them do this. It had to have been my fault. Would we all still live together? None of my friends had ever had divorced parents. After I stopped being sad, I was angry. I didn't feel like it was my fault anymore. No; they were ruining my life.
Only later would I remember the awful fights that came both before and after the divorce. Before, it was fights about silly things. "You bought her a two-piece swimsuit? I told her she couldn't have one until she was ten!" or "I can't believe you went to dinner with him without telling me. It's things like this that make me not trust you." During these fights, they would scream so loud that I would go up to my room, close the door, and hide my head under my pillow for hours. Upon realizing that I wasn't watching TV or on the main floor, one of my parents would come up and apologize and say it wouldn't happen again. But it always did.
The fights that came after the divorce were much quieter and much worse. They were custody fights. At the time, I hardly knew what the word meant. When I learned, I was shocked. Couldn't kids still live with both parents after a divorce? I didn't understand why not. The day I learned what custody was was also the day that I found out my mom was in the NAVY and that they were sending her to Whidbey Island, which was a 3-hour drive from where we lived. Now it was obvious who had custody, at least for now. I would be able to stay in the same school system, I wouldn't have to move. I was just happy to be able to stay in the same house with my dad. He had always been the more easygoing one. Only now do I know how this crushed my mom. None of the fights, nothing before the divorce had made her this sad. This was only the first year of four in her NAVY contract.
Mom told me that she had told the NAVY officials the situation, and that they had agreed not to send her anywhere too far away from home. The next year they sent her to Okinawa, Japan. I didn't know what to do with myself. The night that she left, I sat on the couch with her for so long, refusing to let go for anything. I couldn't bear to let her go without me. We wrote each other letters that night. She wouldn't open mine until she left Seattle, and I wasn't allowed to read hers until she got back. At 9 years old, I wasn't a very deep thinker. My letter ran along the lines of "I can't wait to see you. I'll miss you." and all obvious things you would say to anybody who was leaving for a year. My dad locked away her letter in his safe at work. I didn't read it until I was 12 and my mom was out of the NAVY. I cried when I read it for two reasons. The first was that I remembered everything from that night. How I had felt, how I had tried to hold her back as she was getting into the taxi. The second was for what she had said in the letter. It was wrinkled in places because she, too had been crying as she wrote it. All it had said was how she loved me so much and was going to miss me and couldn't wait for me to come visit her over Christmas. I felt so stupid then. My letter hadn't been at all meaningful in retrospect and hers seemed like a work of art. I'm not sure that I have ever even told her how much I appreciated that letter.
For the first month or so that she was gone, I was so sad. Then she started sending letters and packages every couple weeks, and I began to feel better. I got more of my third grade homework in on time. But I still wished she was home. By this time the divorce didn't make me hate my parents. It was more of a way of life that I had to get used to, whether I liked it or not. There wasn't a way to make everybody happy.
For Christmas, I flew to Japan with my great-grandmother. I loved being with my mom during that time. She introduced me to all her friends from the NAVY base, showed me around the city. This was where I was first introduced to merry-go-round sushi. We went to a zoo where the animals were allowed to roam around freely. It was mostly monkeys and birds and turtles. We went to the largest aquarium in the world, where they keep whale sharks. But soon enough I had to leave, and the same sad feelings came back all over again. Leaving her a second time was almost worse than leaving her the first. I didn't go back to visit her anymore during that year in Japan.
Her next two years were spent in Whidbey Island and one in Everett, Washington which is about 30 minutes from my dad's house. By this point I hated the NAVY. But she was closer to home, and I was glad.
When her NAVY service was over, she moved to Seattle. I thought this would be great, and it was for a while. But I hadn't lived with my mom for so long that I didn't really know her anymore and it was always a little bit awkward when we were together. I really only started getting to know her when i was 11-12 years old. Also, carting around my stuff from one house to another was really hard. I still can hardly stand it.
That was around the time she met Jeff. They are now married. At first I hated him. I was jealous that she spent so much time with him. I felt like I didn't know her any better than he did, and this was the most unfair thing in the world to me. That is still true. Shouldn't a girl know her mom better than her stepdad does? My mom was mad at me for not warming up to him right away. This didn't make me mad at my mom, it only made me hate Jeff more.
Now I'm getting more used to Jeff and his twins who are two years younger than me. I can't say I hate him. The word I would use is resent. I resent him for being rich and stingy at the same time. I resent him for being selfish. I resent him for knowing my mom just as well or better than I do. But most of all, I resent him for taking the place of my dad in my mom's life.
So there's the divorce story portion of my life.
Sasha! This is amazing! U know Ive nver been through this but u know my life story a bit and u can bet that I can relate to this in bits and parts of how u felt...I hope you look back on all of this and put a positive spin on it. I mean my life story was so negative and I try to look at it now and try not to let it be a BURDEN but rather a stepping stone. You are a good writer. I read this on my phone and it was so good not once did I look away! Its intense. Good jb cant wait to read more. Love you so much and youre amazing by the way. =)