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Friday, May 11, 2012

My story, part II

Read previous posts on this topic by clicking here.

Going  into Junior High can be difficult for anyone. No one is immune to bullying, teasing, peer pressure or the stress of figuring out how to fit in and have fun. I don't know exactly why I was a target for a lot of harassment but I was, especially my first year. I still feel badly for my first locker partner, who endured numerous acts of vandalism due to someone not liking me.

I know I was a moody teenager, and I dressed badly and had a weird family situation. Perhaps that's why one girl chose to write harsh things on my locker and decorate it with tampons (really? tampons?!) on a routine basis. She also called me out in the hallway and deliberately slammed into me when walking past. Nothing major, but enough to make going to school difficult some days.

I also had to hide my bike in the bushes, locking it up to the chain-link fence by the LDS Seminary instead of at the bike racks in front of the school. I came outside after classes to find it vandalized on more than one occasion. I remember riding home one day, looking down at the front tire and noticing it was bent out of shape.

Getting prank called at home was hard too. I couldn't completely get away from the bullying, even in my own house. How I wished for caller ID! Then I could have ignored the calls instead of getting caught off guard when answering the phone.

Despite these small troubles, I did develop an amazing group of friends the three years I attended Millcreek Junior. I got involved in choir and was accepted into the Madrigals program my 9th grade year. It made a big difference for me because it gave me purpose. Music became my life. Some of those friends are still in my life today, even 14 years later.

My experiences could have been a lot worse. I don't consider my troubles at school "real life" problems. What was "real life" for me was being in the dark about my dad. Things were slowly being made more clear to us kids. He had been in trouble with the law throughout his life, having a very prominent problem with shoplifting. Before burning our house down, we learned he had been excommunicated from the LDS church many years ago for misconduct as a Bishop. When it was determined that he was eligible to be baptized again, I thought it was a good sign. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter he was picked up for shoplifting, my mom decided she was done, and they separated.

I can't imagine what my mom went through all those years. The abuse, the neglect, the lying, the stealing, the up-an-down of it all. He ruined her finances, he manipulated everyone and then he tried to take away everything.

He didn't succeed, though. We still had each other. We banded together rather than letting him pull us apart. Before the fire, I distinctly remember a visit with my dad during which he told me I was just like him. He faked depression as an excuse for his lifestyle. He told me my brain was different, like his. He tried to get me on his "side" during the separation. I'm pretty sure burning my house down four days after my 12th birthday party foiled that plan.

After the fire, although my dad was imprisoned I had a nagging fear that he'd pop out of nowhere and try to kidnap me. I would walk home from school, see a car like the one he used to drive, and totally freak out. I'd start praying that the car would drive by and it wouldn't be my dad. Of course, it was never him.

As my final year at Millcreek came to a close, my mom told me we would be moving in the summer. She had an opportunity to work a good job in the town where I grew up in Maine. I was devastated. Imagine being 14 again and you'll understand. My friends were my whole life. I could not conceive of starting over with my social life and being the new kid again. I believed that fear of my dad was behind the move. I believed he was still controlling our lives and I hated the world for it.

The worst part? I wasn't allowed to tell anyone where we were moving. It had to be a secret.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story, Liv. We have both "lost" fathers, but in very, very different ways. I cannot say that I understand what you have been through but it's always so uplifting to hear stories about how people overcome difficult trials. You're an amazing woman.

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  2. I hope this does not come across rude, but you I think you could write an amazing book. I think that you sharing your story is amazing, uplifting and without a doubt inspirational. It is so nice to see people break a cycle and to know that even though times are extremely difficult you can rise above those trials and they do not have to define you as a person. You are living proof of just that. I would have never known your background had you not shared this with me. I think you are an amazing person, mother and daughter of God. Thank you again for sharing. I love reading your posts, all of them!

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  3. Liv, I'm so glad you're sharing your story. It makes me sad most of the time reading it, but makes me really proud of you and what you stand for having gone through what you have. I'm sorry for all that you had to go through. You are such a good mom to Aspen. Way to rise above and be so much better than what you had growing up!

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