Disclaimer: This post series is going to deal with very sensitive topics including suicide, abuse on many levels, and hard truths. If you or someone you know is somehow included in this blog series, please do not be offended by what I may write.
It is my life, and my perspective.
I want everyone to know where I come from and what I have overcome, and I believe that everyone is entitled to their own personal truths. I know that many people deal with hard things in their life, and you may never know because it is so well hidden, especially when it appears fine on the surface. Most people would never guess that I’ve had the life that I have based on who I am at this point, but I wasn’t always the person you see today. I hope my story has an impact on those that need it, and to know that you aren’t alone.
The building that D rented and turned into a mechanic shop was located in a little place that is basically just a truck stop, although it does have an actual name. Back then, it consisted of a restaurant run by a Lebanese couple, and was your standard diner that looked kind of like a mobile home, a gas station, an oil field pipe and culvert shop, and D’s mechanic shop. When he first opened up, we as a family were excited. He and my mom felt sure that this would be a good source of income and that we could make ends meet with the business running.
In order to get the shop up and running, buy some specialty equipment and new tools, my mom cashed in a portion of her life insurance and gave him all of it. She must have felt confident enough in him to do this, or else he persuaded her. I honestly have no idea for sure, because it’s not something I ever asked her, but I know she regretted this decision for many years afterwards.
When the shop had a name (which was an interesting and yet absolutely dreadful combination of all of our names), and was filled with tools and modest stock, we opened for business. Now I am not sure if you’ve ever happened to work and live at a truck stop in rural nowhere, but let me just be clear in case you have no idea, business is most definitely NOT booming. I was expected to sweep the floor, mow the lawn, and help with general upkeep of the shop while D did whatever it was that he did when he didn’t have a customer. After some time of being in the area, and getting word of mouth around, he built up a general base of clientele from people who lived in the area.
In this shop, when he was working on vehicles, I learned every swear word I know. Usually it was directed at inanimate objects, but occasionally at me as well. I definitely heard plenty of rude comments hurled my way when I wasn’t working hard enough. Keep in mind, I was 10 years old. While I swept that shop and stocked those shelves, I was constantly around some very colourful characters. One time D sent me off with one of his friends to go have lunch, because the old man said he would buy me anything I wanted. He was completely wasted and I felt scared the entire time. I knew mom had told me never to be alone with this man, but I didn’t know why, and here was my stepfather sending me to be alone with him. After lunch he wanted to give me a ride on his motorcycle, just him and I, but I declined because I said I was scared. D thought it was hilarious that this guy was drunk, and was fully willing to let me go for a ride.
Later on in life, I found out this man was a pedophile. I don’t know what could’ve happened had I got on that motorcycle, but I am so glad I didn’t.
When D was working on a customer’s car, I was responsible for holding lights and fetching tools. Completely harmless and I think many kids do this growing up. The problem is that if I couldn’t get something fast enough or I didn’t know what something was, he would yell at me, call me names, and just generally emotionally abuse me.
To put into perspective the kind of man D is, let me tell you that sometimes we as a family had fun together. We truly did. We laughed and loved. But you never knew when that would change. I remember one specific night when the three of us were sitting down at dinner and started laughing about something. He said something that made us get up and we all ran around the kitchen laughing and playfully chasing each other, essentially playing tag. It was a silly fun family moment. Mom was chasing him, and he ran into the mud room by the front porch. I yelled to shut the door behind him and lock him out. Mom did, and we looked at each other, giggling. It was all in fun, until suddenly it wasn’t.
D became outraged instantly and started swearing at us and banging on the door. He threw his body against the door and almost broke it down. When mom unlocked it, he shoved the door and slammed it wide open. He screamed at us that we were never to do that again. I have never seen a face more red in my entire life. It looked like it was literally about to explode. It was like pure hate.
I think that it was around this time when the physical abuse began. The first time I remember it, was when he and I were working in the tool shed at the back of the property. He handed me some small pieces from something he was working on and told he to put them on the bench. Along the way, I must have dropped one. When he started putting things back together, he started yelling at me to find it, and when I couldn’t, he grabbed me by the back of the neck and threw me down on the dirt floor. He shoved my face down to the dirt and screamed at me that I was not going to go inside for dinner until I found it. I crawled on my hands and knees through the dirt floor for hours, sobbing the entire time.
I prayed to God the whole time I was searching to please help me find it. I was terrified of what might happen if I didn’t. Thankfully, I eventually found it hidden in the dirt, and I wiped my tears, determined to be strong as I walked to the house, now much past dinner and the sun long gone.
My mom had no idea what happened that night, or the many times that were yet to come.