Living a New Life

December 3, 2008
By Anonymous

I had come from a pretty financially well-off background. My grandpa was on the St. Bernard Police Jury and was a popular politician in St. Bernard before he passed away. My grandpa also invested in real estate, the majority of which was located in Chalmette. When my grandpa passed away, his business was passed on to my dad. The business prospered very well and we all lived comfortably. Now we’re talking about the trip-to-New-York every-year kind of living comfortably. My dad would give my sisters and me almost anything we wanted (within reason); he even took us on shopping sprees at the Galleria in Houston where we would spend around $200 in each store we entered. My dad even had his dream $2 million house in New Orleans—what he had always dreamed of. A status symbol.

That was pre-Katrina.
When my family had all evacuated to a hotel right outside of Atlanta, we learned of some unpleasant news. My dad did not save for the rainy day. My dad spent almost everything he earned from his business. We learned that my dad was so consumed in having the nicest things in life, the unnecessary things, that he would spend any amount of money to make sure that everyone knew that he had money. But now he didn’t. The biggest trouble with him not saving any money was that he no longer had any income coming in because his properties in Chalmette were under water.

The minute Katrina hit, I started a new life.

My dad’s business had to start from scratch, and although people were slowly coming back, my dad had no one to rent out his properties to. Meaning: no money. My mom had to go back to work to be able to support my sisters and me; however, a teacher’s salary isn’t very much to stretch out over four people to pay for insurances, food, clothing, education, and various school activities including class dances and Carmelettes. My family had to start trying to live on as little money as possible, always determined to save as much money as possible because we always wanted to be prepared, unlike my dad. This was when my mother became a coupon junkie—clipping out every coupon that passed her hands. My mom was determined to be able to support the last three of her four children living at home. I went from shopping sprees at least once a month, to being lucky if I was able to buy a new shirt once a month. I learned to live off of everything that I had for months without buying anything new. There was a bit of difficulty in transitioning from my previous life to my new life: It was hard to “window shop” whenever I went to the mall. It was hard to have to tell friends that I couldn’t go out to a nice dinner with them because I couldn’t afford it.
But the biggest dilemma in getting my family back on its feet was my dad. Now, my dad and I were never really close because he was never there when I grew up; my mom basically raised her four children on her own. Then, after my parents divorced, my dad was basically forced to marry this woman because he got her pregnant—this woman was a gold-digger and a “pill-popper” who was always trying to start trouble with my dad; hence, my dad and she were always on-and-off again. So now, my dad and I were not only not close, but his new “marriage” kept me from even going to spend time at my dad’s house because I could not stand the woman. This description of the woman and her relationship with my father does not even touch the surface of all of the problems my family has had involving her, but that would take too long to write. So back on the subject of my dad trying to help out my family: My dad refused to even try to get a job. He would rather stay in bed all day than get out there in the real world and earn a living to support his family. My dad thought it would be better to just live in his own distorted world, sleeping all day and drinking all night. And thus, my new life smacks me in the face again. Not only does my family have financial issues, but my dad gained a new best friend: Alcohol. Never in my life would I have guessed that I would have my own father drunk-dialing my cell phone at 4 o’clock in the morning. Never in my life would I have imagined that I would be the one to have to tell my dad to get in control when he and his “wife” would come home late fighting and screaming at each other after a night at the bar while I was home watching the kids.
I never wanted this.
I didn’t want to be the grown-up in my relationship with my dad. I wanted to just be the kid and I wanted him to take responsibility of his actions. Well, my new life didn’t want to give me what I wanted. Now I’m not saying that before this my dad and I had a perfect relationship, because it was definitely far from perfect; but, his actions were taking it too far. In my new life, I barely had a relationship with my dad. Not only did I despise his lifestyle, but I was afraid of him. Afraid to confront him. Afraid to talk to him about anything, really. Any communication with him would be done through a text message if my mom and little sister wouldn’t call him for me.
So this is my new life. My family is still struggling. We still worry about how we will afford everything and be able to make payments for all of our school and dance team events. Right now, my sisters and I are living off of the money my grandpa left for us to use for college or to buy a house after we get married. So for now, all I can do is do my best in school to get as much financial aid and as many scholarships as I can to put myself through college. As for the situation with my dad, every time things start looking up in our relationship and in his life, right after the improvement follows a disappointment.
So right now, I’m just trying to make the best out of what I have and make sure that what happened to me and my family when I was a teenager will never happen to my future family and children. All I can do is make the best out of this new life and pray that things will get better.

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