When I told the doctor I was pregnant. I also let him know how I thought maybe if I had the baby it’d give me a reason to live. “What a selfish reason to keep a child though,” he said. And he was right. Selfish was something I’d never been called in my whole life, but now is when I knew I was. It was all selfish. And shit, how do you tell your parents at that age what’s going on? I was so confused. My parents did it the right way, I’d naively thought. Marrying then waiting to have children for a number of years. But like I said before, they’d had a tumultuous time as well. What I’d learn to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and such a thick straw it was….was infidelity. And it was close to home too. And I remember stressing out so much as a kid, wondering what was going on with them that I started having little flashbacks and began to piece together my memory of this one day I probably shouldn’t have been a part of.
I used to get migraines, well I still do. But the ones I got as a little kid were so awful. I’d go blind in one eye and then about an hour later I’d get the worst headache of my life and it would sometimes last an entire day. Ugh, they’re terrible.
It started out as a day like that. And when I’d get one of these migraines, I used to love to snuggle up in their bed and watch tv. But today was different. She burst into the room with him right on her tail. He grabs out for her arm. She tries to pull away and he just gets her elbow. “Wait!” He says to her. And I just remember their faces. So aghast and upset with the middle person that made their way metaphorically into our home. I remember hearing my swim coaches name and something about a lunch. And that was it for me, I think I got up to go back to my room. But from then on I’d remember back to the day when I heard that name and felt very strange. I didn’t realize my instincts were kicking in. But I’d lay there sometimes and cry at night to worry about my parents, because I was worried if they’d make it or call it a day. Will I sleep with insomnia tonight, or will the insomnia take over me to incessantly think….what could I have done?
Years later, my dad and I went out to dinner. Him and I were getting closer after I’d gotten married, and we’d go on date nights. I remember the softness in his voice that night when he told me that they were scared they were going to lose me. I let him know how scared I’d been too. Then, for some reason I asked about the day in their room so long ago. He simply confirmed it and I could see the dispair still in his eyes. He’d gotten his heart broken and the only one with any information on the culprit swim coach was me. I could tell he was full of questions he wouldn’t dare ask. What was he like? What did he look like? One question slipped out from him and it hit me to the core. Swimming was my everything. I was captain in high school. I’d gone to state. I loved life during that time. I loved being with my friends. They were there the days I had a hard time during school, but who didn’t? I didn’t have depression in school, but I had days where I felt like I couldn’t figure out what it all meant. Why all the stress of life? I put everything I had into that sport. My friends kept me forgetful though, too, from the bad days. They were always there for a laugh. I was in top ten for homecoming. I just loved being social. And just because there was a lot of fighting at home, my parents were still amazing. Mom and I were cleaning out a desk one day and I found a letter from Keith and Eva. “Please remember the children.” It said. I started to cry. Keith and Eva had long passed by the time I read this and I missed them terribly. All I wanted my whole life was for my family to be happy and I just couldn’t help thinking I could’ve been going more. I just, oh, I loved my family so much. I just wanted us to be together and ok. When you’re a parent that floods that house with fighting and it’s not a physical abusive household, just remember how much your children love you and how you as the parent may be able to do literally everything you can for your family; it may not matter how old your child is to understand and fear what they might have to do to help because they’re more grown up than people give credit. I remember haunting myself over that question my mom asked me. The one about whether or not they should divorce. What would I have told her. “This is about your husband, not my father,” I’d say. Because you may think you’re staying together for the kids but it can be just as, if not more sometimes, detrimental in going that way.