Category Archives: memoir essay
I have a lot to say to you and I need to do it in the way I do best, words on paper. This is not for you, but this is for me and for our kids. Writing this to you may bring you some sense of closure and reflection too, and if it does that is great, but that is not my main intention. I’m not writing this to anger you. I’m not writing this to reminisce on our time together though it may feel like that at times while reading this. I need to release all the resentment I have towards you and that may feel like hate at times, and perhaps right now it is a bit of hate. I hope writing this will close off all this and I can finally put you to rest like I finally put my dad to rest. This might not make any sense to you and it doesn’t need too. Perhaps you will not read this all the way through and that is perfectly fine too. All I know is, I need to say these things, and I am going to say them.
When we decided to get together we were young. I came to you partly broken. I had been abused as a child, and I had been abused from a previous marriage. I thought I had scrutinized your personality so well that I would be safe with giving you my heart and giving you my bullets. For some time, I guess I was safe. You were a funny, charming, military man who seemed to have goals and dreams to have a good life in the future, and I was a funny, futuristic, creative girl who also aspired of turning her life around and building something for her future. I saw my dad in you, and my dad was the best man I had ever known, and how could I go wrong with that I had thought? I never thought you would damage me in the ways that you did over the decades that I had invested in you. In those first few years I never envisioned that I would have put my dreams on hold to build you up while I grew older not attaining any of my aspirations. I never thought in those first years that I would have given up complete control over my life to raise our children while you lived a bachelor life drinking with your friends leaving me home alone over and over. I know you view things differently and you have excuses about babysitters, and you want to use excuses about money. Those do not matter now. You invalidated my feelings for decades. When I tried to explain to you how those many nights made me feel jealous, insecure, lonely, and unimportant to you, you invalidated me over and over. Years of this emotional abuse made me into someone I didn’t recognize Armin.
Then I ended up sick with my back tumor and still you continued to invalidate my feelings and you continued your behavior of drinking and going out with your friends. You may never admit to emotionally abusing me, and you may never admit publicly to the control you took over my life for the 19 years we spent together but we both know the truth. We both know I rolled over for you to go on your fishing trips, drinking escapades, and weekend camping trips while you complained about me buying $5 coffee or buying desserts at the grocery stores, or complaining if I bought an outfit once in a while for myself. We both know that you never put me seeing my family on the priority list, but we were sure seeing your family once a year or once every two years. We both know when I finally stood up and wanted to put my goals on the table you didn’t even want to discuss them. Those words still echo in my ears like a siren going off through town warning us for a tornado. “You can’t even clean my house the way I like what makes you think you can go back to school?”
I still wonder to myself, what kind of person says that to his wife, when she tells him she is contemplating suicide and needs more in life? Have you even reflected on that?
I have also reflected on the day you and I sat in the Pasat at my mum’s, in her driveway, when you told me you wanted to marry me and take care of me. Remember that day? You had drove over from Chicago to visit Courtney while we were separated. Remember why we separated? You were out all the time drinking with your friends and we were fighting over YOU invalidating my feelings. I was standing up for myself and you didn’t think I had a justification for that. I did have justification for fighting you then. I’m not saying I handled that time in the proper way. I’m not perfect. I shouldn’t have thrown things. I shouldn’t have shouted the way I shouted, but you brought that crazy out. That is what YOU need to see. Your narcissistic abuse brought that crazy out in me. Make no mistake about it Armin, that is exactly WHAT IT WAS! NARCISSISTIC ABUSE! The projection, the invalidation, the gas lighting, and the stonewalling was narcissistic abuse. I left though, like any normal person should have done in that situation. The mistake was believing you when you came to Ohio. The mistake was taking you back and believing that you would have kept up your end of the bargain the second time.
You showed up in Ohio and you used your charm in the driveway at my mums telling me that you wanted to marry me and take care of me. It was a load of bullshit that I bought into. You never kept your end of the bargain Armin. It was that same year while I was planning out wedding you were laid out night after night drinking, leaving me home alone again, wondering who you were with and what you were doing. Again, when I questioned you, you would invalidate my feelings and tell me that I was crazy. Then, long behold you come home with another woman’s pants on! I still married your dumbass. I was the dumbass, and we had a second child. The two things I do not regret with you are our children, but they have paid a high price. I will get to them later in this revolution I’m having. Regarding Erica’s pants, you again invalidated my feelings again for months as I walked around paranoid about you cheating. The most hilarious thing as I reflect on our time together is that you ACCUSED ME OF CHEATING and TALKING TO MEN ONLINE the entire time you were pulling this bullshit ON ME!
I built you up. I supported ANY decision you ever fucking made. I was LOYAL TO YOU with all your fucking bullshit. I tolerated your womanizing, flirtatious friends and I’m a great fucking mum IN SPITE of the fucking life I have had from being sexually abused, sexually assaulted, and live with a physical disability…and when I made the decision to finally leave your emotionally abusive ass…
You wanted to kick me out of the town home when I told you I wanted to divorce you knowing I had spent the last 19 years building your credit up while mine went nowhere, and you fought over paying me minimum child support and I’m on limited income with disability. I wasn’t even asking for alimony. You knew I couldn’t rent anywhere due to my credit, but you were willing to push me out of the town home if I had let you. What kind of person does this to someone they claimed to love for 19 years? What kind of person does this to the mother of their children? Have you reflected on this at all? I have. I have reflected a lot over these past few months. I am not trying to keep your kids from you. I’m trying to stay civil IN SPITE OF ALL this anger I have inside for your fucking ass…I honestly wish I didn’t need child support from your ass. I don’t want anything from you to be quite honest but unfortunately, I need it for the kids. I wish I didn’t have to look at your face ever again. Life doesn’t work that way, and well I’m stuck with you until Kylie is 18.
You have NO IDEA Armin…you have no fucking idea!
I am trying to be whole. I am trying to heal. I am trying to be an example for my two beautiful daughters’. I will be whole, and I will heal. I am an example for our daughters to be. I have shown them not to tolerate abuse, and I’ve been an example that even when things are difficult in life to not give up. I have also been an example that as a woman, when they are grown, they can work hard to be who they want, and no man can break them completely. Our children have paid a high price in many ways though from you as well. Our children, who, by the way need to heal from damage with your bullshit too. Let’s discuss them now…
You were not only a tyrant towards me with your verbal abuse, but you were a tyrant towards them. Not only did you feel the need to try to control every aspect of my life through emotional manipulation, but you used the same tactics on them. You still attempt to use these tactics now but thank God you only get to attempt to use these tactics part time now instead of being in our home using them nonstop. Again, you will not readily admit to any of this and you will make excuses about your behavior and that doesn’t even matter to me anymore. Everyone can think you are this charming and fantastic father in the outside world, but I KNOW the truth. Our kids know the truth about who you really are under pressure. We know how you are when you do not get your way.
The kids and I will always remember the times you called them idiots, yelled curse words at them simply because you didn’t get your way. I know right now you want to go defensive and try to turn something around on me and try to bring up a time I would have cursed at Courtney in my anger. The difference between you and I is I used curse words in anger at the situation. I never used curse words aimed at her and the one time I did I addressed it immediately and corrected my parenting. Let’s take a trip back to 7th avenue when you were downstairs with Courtney yelling at her, “Are you fucking stupid or something?” I was upstairs, and I yelled downstairs and said, “This isn’t your mum and dads house and you will NOT speak to her like that. Your dad may talk to Eric like that, but YOU WILL NOT SPEAK TO HER LIKE THAT!” You never even apologized to her for that. Those moments happened over and over for her, and she was only 8 years old then. I could write out so many moments for her it is pathetic, but I won’t. I’m happy she will never have to live through that shit ever again. I’m sorry it took me so long to leave your ass. I’m glad Kylie only received a limited amount of abuse. I should have done better as a mum and left when she was a baby actually.
You told me once before you moved out of the town home that I would never find someone who would do what you do for me…you said I would never find another you…I have reflected on that over these past few months too…
You were right Armin. I will not find another like you who will do what you did for me. I will not be with another man who verbally beats me down, who invalidates my feelings, who doesn’t support me going to school to better my life financially. I will not be with a man who controls me. I will not be with a man who verbally abuses my children. I will not be with a man who lays out all night with friends while I’m home lonely and depressed wondering what is wrong with me. I will not be with a man who doesn’t lift me up. I will not be with a man who doesn’t see my potential. I will not be with a man who doesn’t allow me to express my creative side. I will not be with a man who doesn’t work with me as a partner in the goals I have for my life and the life I see with him by my side. I will not be with a man who doesn’t bring peace to my life. You were right. I will not find another man like you. I will find a man who loves me for who I am and I will love him the way I tried to love you and when I do it will crush you seeing me and our children loving him and him loving us in peace and harmony because the fact of the matter is you are broken, and you have been broken since age 4. I hope you find a way to repair your damage. It isn’t my place to do that. It isn’t our children’s’ place to do that. Stop expecting us to. We’re moving on.
(This is my second draft of a memoir essay I am turning into my Freshman Composition class. The names have been changed, some things have been changed to protect identities and locations…some of this is from real life events. The essay assignment has to be a minimum of 1,000 words and I chose to use a memory of a day from my past to write about. The day I decided to leave my hometown to get clean.)
It was hot, the kind of hot that made it difficult to breathe. As I walked the street alone, the sweat ran down my face and neck, leaving a huge wet spot on my turquoise t-shirt. It appeared as if I just left a wet t-shirt contest I was drenched in so much sweat. Where was I going? I had no idea. I just knew I had to go somewhere and clear my head, figure things out, so I walked. It was just the road, my muddled thoughts and I. The freshly tarred black pavement absorbed so much heat from the blistering sun it felt as though my shoes were nonexistent. The pungent smell of the tar below my feet made this walk more like a chore than an escape to clear my head. The sound of little critters echoed from the woods to my right and the popping tar bubbles below my feet filled the area around me as dehydration surely began to set in slowly. The side streets to the neighborhood were to my left as I trudged my way up Hahn Rd. I grew up on those streets and now I faced the choice of dying on them as a drug addict or leaving them behind for good.
Those woods to my right I spent majority of my childhood exploring them, pretending I was some extraordinary scientist on another planet looking for some other form of life. I climbed those trees. I fell out of those trees. I rode my bike on the trails there. Many of the scars I have today were received from the branches from those huge oak trees, or from the huge boulders sticking out from the hilltops, or from the uneven trail tracks I raced down. I built forts in those woods. I sat in the shade and wrote some of my best poetry and short stories there under the huge oaks. I became lost in thought. How did I become this pill popping, opium using, drop out, walking to God knows where, and in search of who the hell knows what? Who am I? WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING? HOW AM I GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS ONE!? How did I end up here? I better figure something out…
The top of Hahn road on the right sat a quaint little convenience store named Phans Grocery. Really just a hole in the wall that consisted of three isles of groceries, a deli that gave the neighborhood four options of bologna, ham, salami, and what looked like bologna with pickles in it and a corner cold section with milk, soda, and beer. The store stood there for generations. Mr. Phan watched my four brothers and I grow up in the neighborhood. He knew us by name.
“R, hi there, what can I do for you kiddo…”
No matter how old I got, he still insisted on calling me kiddo. Mr. Phan was always a kind man, who looked aged. His wrinkles told stories of worries and stress and his gray hair told stories of loss. I stood in the entrance propped against the rusted metal door framing.
“Mr. Phan can I use your phone? I have to make a call to my brother in Indiana? I will pay you for the long distance I promise?”
His brows furrowed in concern as he nodded his head yes. I approached slowly being overwhelmed with exhaustion from the walk. The blazing sun for the last half hour probably dehydrated me and depleted me of any energy. I inched closer and closer to the deadline of becoming sick if I didn’t get some drugs into my body soon too.
“Your brother in Indiana…didn’t J move over there? How is he doing anyway? I haven’t seen him around here since your dad’s passing…again I’m so sorry for your loss…your dad was a good man R…neighborhood isn’t the same without Dan around.”
Mr. Phan stretched the phone across the counter to me. I breathed heavily trying to catch my breath.
“J is doing well. He hasn’t been there long actually. He moved there a few months ago from ….. I’m having him come and get me out of here actually. Thanks for letting me use your phone.”
I didn’t want to focus on thoughts of my dad. It hurt too much. Hell, my dad dying got me into the life I was living. It was the last thing I wanted to think about it, talk about, or especially comfort anyone else about. I couldn’t even comfort myself, let alone a man who watched me grow up in the neighborhood.
The phone started to ring. Sweat still ran down my face and neck profusely. I kept switching the phone receiver from my left hand to my right hand, left ear to my right ear, the sweat made it impossible to hold onto. Come on, answer the phone. Answer the phone J. I need you to answer the phone, I thought to myself, as the anxiety built in my stomach. My stomach began to churn and I began praying that my drug dealing husband, at that time, didn’t figure out where I was come and get me.
My husband then, Dick, roamed the streets looking for me. We will name him Dick here for purposes that fill me with joy. Dick was obese, malodorous, drug dealing; abusive man. I would have not given him any chance to be with me if it had not been for my dad being diagnosed with lung cancer. Dick had the drugs. I wanted to run away from all the pain and reality that my dad was going to die, and he was going to die soon. I ran off and decided to marry him in a Kentucky courthouse on this spectacular high I was on the day my dad died. Yes, that is what I said, on the day my dad died. If that wasn’t a sign this guy was bad news there were plenty more I ignored along the way simply because Dick was my door to the drugs. I got what I wanted, when I wanted them, for free. I came close to giving up on my brother J answering his phone when suddenly his deep southern accent was in my ear.
I was temporarily comforted to hear J’s voice on the other end of the telephone.
“J! You are there, thank God!”
“R…what’s going on? Is everything OK?”
“I’m in trouble J…the worst kind…I need your help man…you gotta get me outta here…”
I started to whimper.
“Hey…what do you mean you’re in trouble? Where are you?”
“I’m at Phans store. He let me use his phone. I walked here from moms. J you have to come get me man or I am going to die…please…I know it’s a lot to ask but you’re the only brother who can help me….”
“R…what have you gotten yourself into? What about R?”
“I need to get out of here…you are the only one who can help me with that…R can’t help me with this…you’re the only one…and I can help you too…I want to leave everything here J…I got mixed up with drugs…the worst one…I want to get clean…”
I expected him to yell but his reaction was the opposite. He had a stillness I never knew existed in him.
“You’re doing smack!!? …what the fuck..”
You could hear the trepidation in his voice as he released a quivered sigh and a moment of silence brought pause to our conversation.
“J…I’m not on the needle…I do smoke opium…pop pills…snort them sometimes…smoke weed…I gotta get outta here man…they are everywhere and I’m hooked bad man…I can get clean if I leave here and I can help take care of your kids after I do while you and J work…I can’t get clean in Mansfield, I need to completely change my life J…”
Terror gripped me as I worried his answered was going to be no. I asked him to drop everything in his life to not only drive over to Ohio and pick me up, but bring me home with him to live and deal with me detoxing all the while living with blind faith that I would actually keep my word that I would get clean and stay clean, which most addicts have a hard time with.
“Where are you staying? You staying at moms?”
“I am at moms yes…but I know Dick will be there trying to get me to go back to him…I have to get outta here J…please help me…”
“I have two days off work…I will be there in three hours…be ready.”
We hung up. I was overcome with happiness that the thought of becoming sick from not having drugs was the farthest thought from my mind in that moment. I wiped the phone receiver off from the sweat deposits I had left and turned to thank Mr. Phan.
“Mr. Phan thank you so much for letting me use your phone, you might not understand this now but you just saved my life. My brother is coming to pick me up and taking me to Indiana. I will stop by before we head out to pay you for the phone call.”
I gave him a hug.
“You don’t worry about that phone call R and I know I saved your life with that call. That is why I let you make it. You go and get well. Be the girl I thought you would grow up to be and the girl your dad thought you would grow up to be.”
I started to walk down Hahn Rd. back the way I came. I headed back towards my mom’s house and Mr. Phan yelled from his store entrance before I reached the freshly paved road.
“R when you are tempted to look in the rear view mirror at life, keep going, it isn’t a sign to turn around and come back…you remember that!”