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They met at a bar, my parents. With this kind of beginning most would think Mark and JoAnn would fall in love and live a life of a romantic comedy; However, they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. The last thing they ever anticipated, or even wanted, was a baby. After Michael Angelo was born, their relationship twisted into an obligation.
Both my brother and I were unintentional pregnancies. Neither one of my parents wanted children; in my father’s situation, he didn’t want another. After his first marriage went askew, he left that situation with a daughter. This should have flickered some type of warning in my mother’s mind. My mother, for as long as I have been alive, has had a very level head, so her decision to stay with this man eludes me all together.
Tension slithered its way between my parents, shortly after they had me, and soon after that, their “love” for each other came to a dramatic halt. They never saw each other what with Mark, my “father”, working two jobs, both during the night, as a bar tender, and JoAnn, my mother, working long, hard hours during the day. Even with the three paychecks, money was still scarce. My brother and I lived off of hand-me-downs and the bare essentials that would get us through these tough times.
Just to be able to keep milk in the fridge, my mother worked her hardest, which caused me to see her very little, while Mark barely did what was asked of him. He spent his time lazing around and didn’t work a fraction as hard as my mother. Mark acted how he wanted to, only caring about what is best for himself, even if that meant not getting to work on time because he was too exhausted, or not taking care of me or his two other children. Instead of being the father figure I needed, he would sleep all day, oblivious to all of my actions.
He became as oblivious to all our actions. This selfishness turned dangerous. My brother once hacked off my hair with a sharp pair of scissors he’d gotten a hold of when we were just toddlers. Mark selfishly hid this from my mother; worrying only about himself, not the fact that Michael was handling sharp scissors, he put what was left of my hair in a pony tail to stall my mother’s upcoming wrath.
After the hair cutting incident, things became more intense; Michael severely burned himself from leaning up against a barbeque pit while my mother was out of town. When we met her at the airport, my mom embraced Michael in her loving arms. He flinched away, screaming in pain. Needless to say, my mother had just about enough.
They thought they needed some time apart from each other to cool off, the fiery tension burning a hole in their relationship. Of course, Mark still had consent to see Michael and me, but he didn’t seem too interested. Trying to “over power” my mother, he threatened her, implying that she wouldn’t be able to survive without him. He didn’t show up to watch Michael and me to prove this point. His exact words: “You wanted this separation, so you take them.”
Later on, my mother knew she would have to oblige herself to endure the hardest, most gut-wrenching battle she had ever been through, divorce. Five-year old Michael was the one who pointed it out to her. “You don’t love daddy. You don’t even hug him anymore.” She knew at this point, when her young son even noticed the separation between them, it had to end.
Although now alone, thirteen years later, my mother stood fifty stories high. Magnificently, she worked herself to no end, the skyscraper my brother and I needed to look up to. She is my rock, always there for me keeping me standing tall and strong when Mark was never there for me at all.
During the divorce process, my mother was obligated to stay home with me, instead of having fun like any normal twenty-five year old elsewhere. Being the complete opposite of my mother, Mark felt that he should see me whenever convenient for him. Never did he change his plans around so he could spend what little time he had with me. Having my mother around made things so much more bearable; I needed her desperately to fill the hole in my heart Mark had left, but, also, it made me feel so guilty for holding her back.
The years came and went. I saw Mark regularly on weekends and became comfortable with just having Michael, Mom, and me in the house. Our routines were down and we lived much better than when Mark was with us. I thought it would last the rest of our lives. Until Mom brought Cody home. Not only did he invade my home, but he brought his two daughters as well. Though they only came every other weekend, I wasn’t very content with these intruders, but I wasn’t about to break my mother’s heart for a second time.
The time came when Cody proposed. I was happy that my mother was in love again and I knew that Cody would take care of her, but what does this mean for me? Do I call him “Stepdad”? Would he make me wash the floors, do his laundry, sleep in the fire place? It all dawned on me so quickly I didn’t know what to expect from the ogre.
Getting used to having him around took some time; we were both submissive toward each other at first. Then, when he tried telling me what to do, I just could not listen to him. Who was he, trying to tell me to clean my room? He wasn’t my father. To show my aggravation, I rebelled against him, doing the exact opposite of what he told me to do just to prove him wrong.
This went on for months after the wedding. I got on his nerves, but he never complained to my mother. I slowly understood having this big ogre around wasn’t as terrifying as I thought. The disheartening life I was used to slowly began to turn its self around. I soon became at ease with this new life and only seeing Mark at small intervals at a time. That is, until, September if 2007
Brain washing. That’s what he was viciously accusing my mother of. I didn’t want to see my “father” because my mother brain washed me?! Never once did he even conceive the thought that I, a fourteen year-old girl, didn’t want to spend my Saturday nights, at home, watching television ,with a man I barely knew. Dumbfounded and confused, I could not make up any reasonable motive for his actions. Never did he indicate that he was upset by my absence when I, undeniably, made myself clear that I wanted to see him. This only brought on more pain to my already tender heart.
Mark indicted her with such appalling charges, I could not believe that it was all coming from this one man in particularly. I almost jumped off the edge when he stated, wrongfully, to the judge: “My daughter only weighs ninety-eight pounds because her mother has her on a restricted diet.” Of course, I comprehend later, he didn’t think up this conspiracy all by himself; he couldn’t have. His third wife, Amanda, was there steering him down this deceitful path that split me in two. Before she pinched her way in, everything about my relationship with Mark presented its self smoothly; her naïve, twenty-five year old mind just couldn’t wrap itself around our reasons. It wasn’t me who didn’t want to see the man who took part in give me life. That man, lying straight to the face of his new infatuation, swayed her into thinking nothing is ever his fault.
They both stacked more anguish, anxiety, and depression onto my shoulders. Although his attacks were sadistic, not once did he penetrate her wall of defense, and Cody was there for us the whole way, never leaving our sides, helping to protect us until the end.
The lying and scheming throughout the whole process made my feelings about Mark alter completely. Every little girl loves her daddy to death, but, as the years go on, they moderately change. My feelings changed completely and with a realistic motive. Not only did he attack my mother, he also brought me into the dispute claiming I turned into this “awful” person because of her. “One day she came over and she started screaming demands…. That’s just like her mother”, Mark once stated falsely. These words made me fall apart, again. He didn’t like me. Had he ever? Why would he want to attack the woman taking care of his children? Wouldn’t he be thankful? Show his eternal gratitude?
After awhile I had this epiphany; I refused to dwell on the thoughts of a stranger who doesn’t like the person I have become. I have Cody, my step father, and he loves me. All that I ever needed, or could ever want, was standing six feet tall, right in front me.
The night I confronted Mark about what he did to me, I cried into Cody’s arms. Truly thanking him for everything he does for me, sincerely expressing my appreciation for the first time out side of my mind. I truly consider Cody as my father. he actually wants to be a part of my life and I knew he will always be there for me.
Not seeing Mark at any of my soccer games made it a little less painful when I could hear Cody at the other end of the field cheering. When he didn’t call me for weeks at a time, the hole Mark left in my chest was filled just when Cody would ask how my day went at school. At my very last choir recital, I searched for him. The nothingness I saw in the crowd, the tenderness of my hart, and the painful thought in my mind: But he promised me. It all went away when my gaze moved over to where Cody was sitting, his smile beaming with pride.
It’s been four years and five months since the first lawsuit. One year, six months, and two weeks since I last spoke to Mark. Most say that’s crazy; but what I’ve learned in the past fourteen or so years is that it’s not who helped create me, but it it’s who is there for me always; whenever I need them, no matter what is thrown at them to try to break them down.