Use It to Your Advantage

The comfort zone is a place where we feel taken care of; we’re figuratively wrapped by a big fluffy blanket keeping all the monsters away. My big blanket was my house. My mom and I lived alone. We would share stories about our day, boys, troubles, and planned our life ten years ahead of us. Then he came along.

I wouldn’t want to lie and say I was forced to accept a stranger into my domain but the course of events did happen fairly quickly. They met, they dated, I was introduced, he stayed over there, and we stayed over here. I will say he was a fairly good person, but don’t get me wrong; he is a good enough person, depending on one’s definition of good and enough.

My mom started sleeping over and I – for the first time in my life – found myself sleeping on an empty bed. Night after night I awaited her arrival with tears in my eyes and chills down my back. I was an only child and there was never “someone else” in my mother’s life to distract her attention from me. Inevitably, resentment grew. Jealousy filled my thoughts like beer quenched a drunk’s thirst (which he happened to be).

Shy of a year after the first introduction big news come bearing down on the Vivo household. She’s pregnant. Now I knew there was no hope of ever being free in my own home. They would stay together because the child bound them together. In a traditional household this would be looked down upon. Unmarried, not living together, merely a year of a relationship and here she is carrying his child. But no, this is the twenty-first century. Regardless, there were other obstacles besides social acceptance. He lived two cities away and in a one-room apartment. My mom and I also lived in a one-room apartment. If only we could’ve played Sims and joined the two.

Fast forward nine months and we’re living in our own house in Miramar. His true colors start to show. He’s a demanding sexist slob and he doesn’t know it yet. Spends nights out while my pregnant mother stays home bent over the toilet and crying due to painful hemorrhoids. He has the audacity to complain because dinner isn’t done at the time he arrives home from work. He has the cojones to ask why she doesn’t want parties inside the house. And he’s such a poor enough dog to seek advice among foreign doors.

Time passes and the household that was once full of hope and welcoming grace for a new baby is dreary. “Watch your mouth, we don’t want to make him mad.” Fights stem from miscommunication, quixotic expectations, and trivial remarks. It was a pattern. My mother is not the type of woman to take this sort of disrespect but in a country where friends might as well be enemies, she had to clench her jaw.

Thank god the perfect child was never the source for any of this. I didn’t want to feel culpable for their separation even thought it was imminent. Turns out “teen angst” and built up resentment don’t make a good combination for a prideful, bossy, and stressed out fifteen-year-old girl. I didn’t know I was acting the way I was until the consequences bit me in the behind.

“No, sorry. I either pick you up now or you have to wait for your mom until six.” Sigh. “Okay, alright. I guess I have no other option.”

Thirty minutes later I receive a text message.

“I’m here.”

I peek out of the window and see no sign of my stepfather’s car. I reply: “LIES, I DON’T SEE YOU!” and four seconds later pulls up a honking grey Chevy like it had stuck and there was no stopping it.

My blood instantly boils. I come outside fuming and ready to scream the words at the tip of my tongue. I circle around the small sedan, swing open the door, and throw my stuff inside.

“What the hell are you doing? Don’t you realize there are people here? People could hear your honks ten miles away! Why do you have to be so obnoxious? I swear you are the most annoying person I have ever met!”

In my rant I barely notice the car has moved a mere ten feet before swerving to the right in an empty parking lot and braking so fast I have to reassess what has just happened.

“Get out.”

“What do you mean? Lets just go home.”

“Get out.”

He stumbles to unbuckle his seatbelt but rapidly opens the door and circles the car in long strides to reach my side.

“Oh please you have to be kidding me.”

He opens the passenger door and screams until all the air has left a vacancy in his lungs.

“I SAID, GET OUT NOW!”

“Alright, alright.”

I picked up my book bag and laptop case off of the car floor and exited the car as if nothing had happened. I felt like any sudden movements would make the beast go on another rage.

“Tell your mother she can start picking you up from now on because I am DONE!”

I jerked at his voice and in what seemed like half of a second he had circled back to the driver’s side of the car and it was speeding off, leaving screech marks behind. My mind tried to organize what had just happened. He kicked me out of the car and now I could barely notice the curly brown locks of the little girl in the back seat and her voice calling me “tata” as the car sped away.

“But…but”

That was all my mind seemed able to formulate. Tears pickled at the edges of my eyes and I walked back to my friend’s house, book bag hanging on one shoulder, laptop case hanging onto my fingers by a sliver and the thoughts of what chaos this would bring upon an already troubled “family”.

For the first time ever, he screamed at me like men scream at each other before a fistfight. He kicked me out of the car and drove away with my little sister (even though she was the source of our predicament I love her with all my heart). For the first time, the inculpable and invisible teenage girl acknowledged she had an attitude problem. For the first time, she had to swallow her pride and ask for forgiveness. For the first time, she lost a bit of her integrity and asked for forgiveness from someone who had nothing to forgive because he behaved just the same. Nonetheless, needs surpass any type of dignity, integrity, or pride.

He seemed to forget just how much I had done for him at the time he had an excuse to act out. Regardless, this journey of resentment, miscommunication, fighting without a cause, taught me I needed an attitude change if I wanted to get farther in life. I had no other choice but to grow up and fight the battles that come after being raised as an only child. I want to be honest so I will admit; a good attitude will get you far in life at times when favors need to be paid up but being forceful and insistent has gotten me to where I am just fine. I realized I had to make a little amend in my personality and now I know how to use it to my advantage.

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