Hello and welcome back to The Post-It Note. I want to wish everyone a happy happy Monday, especially since this is probably the hardest day in the week for most. I want to send out some positivity and good vibes to go with you to work and whatever other obligations and appointments you have lined up for today. Today’s blog is all about keeping your head up in the face of near impossible situations, moments of heartbreak and abandonment. This is a call to action, for those who’ve reached out for support and love to family and realized that there was no one to grab onto, to move forward, always.
This is deeply personal for me, because there was a time when I had to leave home and seek out the support of others when I couldn’t rely on my family. There are a few months of my life that I considered myself to be homeless because going back home was not an option.
This was the summer in between my freshman and sophomore year of college. I was newly single after walking away from a bad relationship and a difficult school year. I returned back home to my parent’s house for the few months in between the spring and fall semester to relax and recharge and prep for a new school year.
A few weeks after I got home, my sister, who I had not seen in about a decade shows up out of the blue. I was filled with a mixture of emotions. I had sisters, but rarely saw them, they were always in and out of the house, going between my parent’s home and their mother’s home. Most of the time, when they left, it was after some sort of fight or disagreement, and then a little while later, they would be back.
My sisters, Brittany and Tandeka (pronounced TAN-dee-KA), had a pretty hostile upbringing, they were surrendered as children, by their mother who didn’t bother to tell my father. No one really knows what happened to them during that time, but there were whispers of suffering and abuse.
I have no idea what their story is, but in my heart, I know that they must have experienced unimaginable suffering that they internalized and throughout their years of abuse created an unhealthy co-dependence on one another to survive.
When they were teenagers, and came back into my dad’s life, they were in and out and usually out with things that didn’t belong to them, such as social security numbers and other sensitive and personal information.
I grew up longing for a sisterhood, with the knowledge of having sisters, but not really knowing them or having a sisterly relationship. So, when Tandeka, showed up, I was confused but excited at the second chance to build a relationship with a long lost relative. Family has always been extremely important to me.
This moment of excitement did not last for long. Things began to grow from strange to concerning. Tandeka came back dark, there was anger, and hatred, and an illness that affected her mind and things got really scary. My parent’s at the time lived in a two bedroom apartment and during this time, my younger brother had also come back from college and I knew that I would be crashing on the pull-out in the living room and I didn’t mind that. When Tandeka came, she shared that space with me taking the recliner right next to the sofa.
Soon after, she began showing signs that something was off, I became more and more afraid to sleep in the same room with her. I would feel her, and sometimes wake up to her, watching me as I “slept”. She would mutter to herself, having internal arguments and external ones with people who were not there. Most of her conversations involved the FBI. She even would walk directly up to strangers whispering to them, at this point I was deeply concerned for her, on one occasion I asked her what she said to that man, she simply said that she can put curses on people and walked away.
I was “dating” this guy that was a high school friend of mine and our relationship went from platonic to romantic quickly. I remember there was a time when he dropped me off back home after a date and my sister came out of nowhere and ripped open his car door and just stared at us intensely, I don’t remember what she said, but her lips were moving. After that I went to my mom for help, I told her what was going on and she confirmed that she was concerned to and slept with a bat next to her bed. I tried talking to my dad about her, but he wouldn’t hear me, she was his child and deserved to be there.
My dad loves his family deeply. During the time he didn’t have Tandeka and Brittney, he later learned what their mother had done, he became overprotective to the degree that no matter what they did, he would always forgive them and welcome them back. No matter if they stole, were violent, and deceived. His children were his children and at the end of the day we were family and we had to get along.
Without blinking she told me she “wanted to kill me. She wanted to beat me to death. She didn’t know why, but she knew she had to.”
About a month after she arrived, everything changed. She began to develop an obsession with me, constantly glaring and muttering to herself and I didn’t sleep around her, I felt that she was pissed at me and I had no idea why. One day she was having a cigarette outside and I had to get down to the bottom of what was going on so I confronted her and asked her if she had a problem with me.
Holding her cigarette, arms crossed, and without blinking she told me she “wanted to kill me. She wanted to beat me to death. She didn’t know why, but she knew she had to.” I knew that she deeply believed that and I absolutely believed her.
I freaked out, releasing the anger and intensity and all the other mixed emotions since she arrived outside of our parent’s home earlier that month. There was yelling and screaming and my brother and parents were involved and my sister was just laughing, I mean just cracking up. A few years later I found out that she was admitted into a psychiatric institution and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
I begged my dad to make her go, I told him what she said and he told me that she wasn’t being serious and that he and his 9 siblings would joke like that too. In that moment, my heart shattered and none of my family members did anything. My mom believed me, but stood with her husband and my brother just went back in his room and tuned the world out again. I had never felt so alone and so betrayed. So I ran.
I first went to the police, who took a report, but did nothing. I then went back to my parents home with my friend who was with me at the station for support and knew of the situation. I felt safer with him and I packed my things and left without saying a word to anyone. I didn’t tell anyone where I was going, I couldn’t trust any of them to protect me, they had all already failed. My family chose her and abandoned me. To be honest, I had no idea where I was going to go either. I was homeless and terrified that Tandeka would find me.
I ended up staying with my best friend and her family, combined with couch surfing for the rest of that summer. The guy that I was dating even smuggled me in and out of his grandmother’s house a few times. As I type this, my eyes feel hot. That was the worst summer in my life and to this day, 8 years later, I still fear that she will find me. I’m not sure if I’ve forgiven my family, we just don’t talk about it and I still struggle to trust them. I have let it go, but still remind them to never speak of me to my sisters, if they ask, I tell my mother to say that I died. I’m only half joking, less than half.
After the summer of hell, when I moved back to school and got my apartment, I didn’t give my address to my parents for almost a year, I found out that my dad finally kicked my sister out. She attacked them with a wine bottle. I know that that must have broken my dad, but we still, to this day, do not discuss her.
Families are not perfect, parents are not perfect. Sometimes the people who are supposed to protect us are unable or unwilling to do so.
If you are in a situation where you feel abandoned or betrayed by your family, know that you are not alone. I share your pain, your confusion, your sadness and I also share your strength! You have the ability to get up and move forward by yourself.
If you had to leave home at any point of your life to save yourself, or because you were disowned in some way, I want you to know that you will get through this. You might never know why they didn’t choose you, why they didn’t protect you but somehow you must lift yourself up and give yourself that closure so that you can move forward towards happiness with or without them.
I want you to continue to have an open heart, learn how to love others even when they are unable to show you love. Don’t let your pain harden you. Learn to love yourself, so that even if no one else does, even your family, you will always love you. You will get through this, because at the end of the day, you must.
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