Growing up was not easy for me. Most of my childhood memories are not your typical happy-go-lucky, fun, fantastic memories that most people have. Most of my memories are full of turmoil and fighting. I can still hear the screaming wars my parents would have back and forth for hours on end even when my older brother and I were in the same room.
Third grade was the first time they told us they were getting divorced… It tore me apart from the inside out. My father began packing his things and looking for somewhere else to live. I knew that I was going to become one of “those kids”. You know the kids who had to travel between homes and explain their broken selves to the world. I was ashamed of the thought of being one of those kids. I couldn’t stand to think about it. So no one ever knew. I never told a single friend about it and that worried my parents. They sent me to a shrink for the first time when I was 8 years old… I was terrified of the idea of some stranger trying to get into my head and I still am to this day.
She tried to talk to me and tell me that speaking my mind was good for me and that holding in my feelings was not. I didn’t say a single word that day because it hurt too much to talk about. The two people in the whole world who loved me enough to die for me were leaving each other… my sense of security and trust vanished into nothing.
At least until they called the whole thing off…
They decided they could “work it out” and that things would be okay. So I suffered in pain for months and months for a “just kidding” divorce. It could be a children’s story… the parents who cried divorce. But of course how could a story with that title have a happy ending?
The next few years went by and things seemed to be alright. My memories from this time are far more enjoyable to think about yet they are still scattered with pain and fighting. By the time high school came around things were getting bad again. My older brother left for college the year I went into high school. So there I was, alone, with my ever feuding parents. I didn’t know how to handle the pain anymore. I was 14 and lost beyond all reason. My brother was my savior, my light, my hope, my everything and now he was 6 hours away. I remember crying myself to sleep every night for month and months listening to songs that reminded me of him and trying to make things seem like they would turn out alright.
But of course things weren’t alright. They would never be alright.
I woke up many mornings for school to the sound of my parents screaming. They became my new alarm clock. I can still hear my mom yelling “Kathryn, Kathryn! Call the cops! Your son of a bitch father has me cornered!” When I ran out of my bedroom my dads rage had over powered my mother and he towered over her looking violently down at her. Mom grabbed anything she could to defend herself. This time it was a knife. She pulled it on him and threatened to stab him if he didn’t “back the fuck off.” I screamed and begged them to stop, tears streaming down my face the entire time. Here they were in a fight that could be life or death and I was yelling at the top of my lungs but no one could even hear me. I was hopeless. I was ready for it all to be over.
That’s when the cutting began. It started off as nothing serious, small cuts here and there that lined my arms but would be gone before I knew it. But as my pain grew so did my cutting. Looking down at my arms I could barely see unwounded or unscathed flesh. I became quickly addicted to the rush of pain and the quick relief that I felt when I saw my own blood trickle down my arm. But the relief never lasted longer enough. There were days that I would sit in my room for hours playing with razors and cutting and getting my hands on anything sharp that could possibly harm me. I was looking for hope in my wrists. I was dead inside and starting to show it on the outside.
I knew that my dad wasn’t being faithful. I could feel it and it was rather clear to me that he couldn’t give a shit about my mother any longer. He would come in at 3 in the morning almost every night, never giving an explanation of his whereabouts. When finally I saw something that was not meant for me to see. I was on our family computer and when I got on an email to my dad from some women named “Christina” was open for the world to see as if he wanted to get caught. I read it and immediately felt immense hatred for that man and for the woman whom I had never met. The email read:
, I’m still very uncomfortable with the idea that your wife is still living in your house. She shouldn’t be. –Christina” Gary
I was sick. Sick to my stomach with loathing of this woman who was trying to tare apart what little hope I had left for any sort of real family. I hated her. More then I had ever hated anything in my life. I wanted her dead and I would have done so myself had I been given the opportunity. I could no longer look at my father with any sort of respect. I could not un-know what I had just discovered even though I tried with all of my might to get those heart breaking words to stop running around in my head. I was consumed with grief and hurt for what was once my family.
After four long months of being alone with the people I called family, Matt finally came home for winter break. I couldn’t have been more elated to see him. He had come just in time for the blow up. I had told him what had been happening with our parents but nothing about my secret addiction.
That’s when all hell broke loose.
Imagine if you will, the most uncomfortable moment you have ever experienced. Now multiply it by 15. That is the level of uncomfortable we all felt on Christmas Eve 2007.
We all knew in our hearts what was coming. It was the large white elephant in the room that no one would acknowledge. We sat for two painfully awkward hours trying to be cheery and trying to keep on our happy faces while opening presents and trying to enjoy the
Holiday. When my mom tried to give my dad the present that she had ordered him months ago he looked at her in disgust and got up from the living room and drove off. We all went to bed that night with sad hearts on what was suppose to be the happiest day of the year.
I will never forget the setting of Christmas morning 2007. The shittiest Christmas ever. When I woke up my father was still not home. My mom and brother sat in the guest room on the bed with heavy saddened faces. I walked into the room knowing full well what I was about to hear but trying not to believe it.
“Merry Christmas Kathryn,” my mom said trying to be strong. I sat next to her and she held me as she gently whispered “I’m sorry Kathryn, but this time it’s happening. Your father and I are getting a divorce.”
Any sort of hope I had left for my family was destroyed in those words. My world came crashing down on top of me and I was helpless to do anything about it. I sat in her arms and we cried together trying to comfort one another with little success. Even now as I write this four years later I can still feel my heart breaking.
The next morning my mom left to be with her family in her time of pain and my dad finally came back home. He never once said a word about what my mother had told us. He just continued on as if nothing had changed.
I will never forget the next few days after Christmas. My father and brother had never seen eye to eye and often fought about the smallest things. I don’t even remember what caused the fight that almost took my life but I can remember the pain of it. I was in my room when I heard them start to fight. I walked into the living room expecting the fight to die down once I entered but I was wrong. It only grew with harsh words being thrown back and forth to injure the opponent in any way possible. I screamed at them begging them to stop and to remember why they were fighting and who they were hurting but they wouldn’t.
If I thought my life was completely hopeless before I was wrong. The two most important men in my life were trying to kill each other with words. Finally I ran off crying and I locked myself in the bathroom screaming trying to drown out the sounds of the war taking place in my living room. I grabbed the closest razor and the self inflicted blood bath began. I screamed and sliced my wrists open over and over until I couldn’t find more space to do so. So I moved onto my legs and ankles cutting and crying and wishing it could all just be over. That night was the first time I seriously considered killing myself. I was in so much pain and I couldn’t handle it any longer. I cried so hard for so long that I started getting physically ill. I threw up into the toilet but I couldn’t stop crying even while trying to compose myself. I had been crying for so long that I lost track of time and the fight had still continued. Finally I heard my brother yell:
“You don’t even realize what you’ve done to her! You’ve completely destroyed her! This isn’t even a home anymore, it’s a battle field!”
“Then get the fuck out of my house!!” I heard screamed in reply from my now drunk father.
And then I heard it.
A slap echoed through the now silent house. Then the door slammed and all was quit except the small cries I heard coming from my brother. I couldn’t move. I could feel myself getting sick again as the reality of what had just happened came to me. My dad had finally hit him. He hit my brother. Hard. With all his anger. I heard Matt stand up and run down stairs. I was done. I was ready to cut one last time for it all to be over. I could hardly see through my tears anymore while I searched for my razor in silence. Before I could find it there was a pounding on the bathroom door. Someone was trying to get in and I feared for my life it would be my dad coming to hit me as he had just hit Matt. But luckily it wasn’t him.
I heard his sad gentle voice through the door begging me to let him in. I quickly covered every part of me that was bleeding and I opened the door. Mat had a suitcase in his hand and tears falling from his face. He grabbed onto me and held me tight crying like I had never seen him cry before. He didn’t let go for what felt like hours as we sat in the bathroom crying together. He finally let me go but grabbed onto my face, looked me straight in the eye and simply said:
“Kathryn, you’re all I have left now. I love you.”
I knew I couldn’t take myself from him after all he had been through. My brother saved me from taking myself away that night and I knew I could never hurt him like that. He kissed my forehead and told me he had to leave but he would call me in the morning and come and get me. I was afraid that my dad would be back and that he would take out his left over anger on me. When he was angry it consumed him and he hardly even knew himself anymore. It was more terrifying then anything I could think of.
After Matt had left I sat alone in the house, waiting. Not totally sure what I was waiting for but I simply waited. I didn’t sleep that night and my father didn’t come home for days afterward. I finally realized I was safe when Matt came back for me and my mom came home from her trip. We never told her what had happened that night and I don’t expect we ever will.
When my father finally came home he was sober and apologetic. Any sympathy I once had for him was long gone. Once winter break was over and Matt was back at school nothing really changed. I still woke up to constant fighting and my dad still stayed out all hours of the night. My mom was going to be the one to move out this time. For the next 6 months she searched for a house. She couldn’t find one and that made my life even more unbearable. Living with my divorced parents in the same house from December 25, 2007 until June 6, 2008 was the hardest experience I’ve ever had. I was mostly alone for that 6 months and I have never felt more angry, depressed, or afraid in my entire life. I came home to an empty house every day not knowing when either parent would be home if they would even come home that night. I spent many nights alone and unsure of where my parents were still cutting myself in grief. The tension when they were even near each other was so extreme you could cut it in half with a knife. I heard empty threats from my father to my mother almost daily about her “getting the hell out of his house.” Those months were hard. I dealt with many things that no 14 year old girl should have to deal with.
Finally a little light of hope came in the form of a new house. June 6, 2008 my mom finally moved out for good and my new life as “one of those kids” began.
As I started to grow use to the idea of being a “divorced” kid I grew accustom to all the baggage that came with it. Going from house to house every week, spending time with both parents and meeting their new “significant others” every now and then. Its been hard to watch these two people try and form new relationships with others. I watched them be in love with each other and I watched them fall out of love with each other very hard. I knew I couldn’t let that happen to me.
Because of all that I had endured I suffered a lot with trust issues. Trusting new friends and possibly boyfriends did not come easy to me. Then I met him. Stuart. One of the kindest souls I had ever met. I felt immediately attached to him and I couldn’t help but fall head over heals in love with the boy. I grew to trust him so much more quickly then I ever thought I could. He understood me and helped me gain the confidence I had lost over the years. I felt safe and secure with him. Of course high school relationships can’t last forever. And this one was not excused from that rule. We were together for almost a year when he broke it to me. One week before our 1 year anniversary he told me he wasn’t in love with me any more.
I felt hallow. Cold. Devastated. Empty…
I had let this boy come into my life and make it wonderful. And then I watched him destroy everything that he had helped me build. As pathetic as it is, I had lost my sense of self all over again. My heart was ripped out of my body and smashed, then handed back to me to try and be put together once more. It was like trying to put together a 2000 piece puzzle with missing and broken pieces in the dark. The healing process from my first real relationship heart break took much longer then I had hoped.
It still stings remembering the hurt he caused me. After a year of going without a single cutting incident it started again. He hated it and I knew that. I used it against him because I wanted him to hurt as badly as I did. And I knew that my cutting would hurt him. I did it out of spite and pain and loss. I didn’t speak with him for months and slowly the love I had for him slipped away. How could I have gone from loving him, to hating him, to loathing him, to missing him all in a matter of a few months? My emotions we’re off the charts. I became impulsive and wild. I partied and didn’t care what I was doing to myself.
I was hurt and I had rediscovered my destructive ways of dealing. Soon enough I realized how stupid he was and more so how stupid I was. I knew that cutting myself would not bring him back to me but the addiction had come back. I knew it needed to end once and for all. A revelation came over me and finally I realized that I was worth so much more then he would ever know and if he didn’t see it, then fuck him. It felt good to say that to myself. I hadn’t been so confident in who I was for a long time. I was finally over what he had done to me and I was bringing myself back to who I was before I had met him.
I have suffered through somethings that most people could not imagine. I’ve watched my family crumble from underneath me, I’ve felt the sting of loss and the pain of heartbreak but it has formed the person I am now. I am a survivor of self-injury and I am still on my way to recovering from this addiction. It is a daily process. I have been clean from cutting now for almost 7 months and it feels amazing to be set free from such a dark place. I am a broken girl with a broken family. I am lost but that does not mean I am a lost cause. I am stronger today because of the hell hole that I endured. I survived, and that’s what matters.