CHAPTER 13: Steph...My Family Life

* ACTUAL JOURNAL ENTRY

CONTEXT: At age 19, Aimee reveals the details of her parents divorce when she was 14 and left to take care of her 11 year old brother and 89 year old grandpa.

February 3, 1999

Steph,
First, before I forget, I started a drawing in the front, which I think it would be cool if we add a small piece each day we write and date it. It doesn't matter what it is, but I think it'd be cool to have a new piece to keep adding on and connecting it into one big picture. However, try to write small so we have a lot of room. Call me weird, but it may be really cool!...

Alright, I'm really tired and I know if I get too emotional I'll be up forever. So I'll try my best to be reasonable. 

I was really planning on writing Jill a note but I didn't have enough time before work. But I do promise I will soon. I really think that you need to talk to her. I know last night emotionally you wanted to however your mind kept saying no. And I was right. You do want to talk to her, but it's too hard to admit to yourself.

Steph, regardless if I write a letter, you really should talk to Jill. She can help you understand and open your eyes, letting you realize that talking to someone helps. I know that you think things are different between us, and that it's hard to relate to me. But honestly, you and I have broken down to the point that all our deepest secrets are revealed. Because I can see how you are being affected by things, I can more easily see a connection between the two of us. The only difference is that I have finally forced my way further up, allowing my feelings to be released in a way to to keep things in perspective. 

Steph, by no means do I believe that there is a "cure" I just have enough faith in myself to get me through each problem. I used to be the weakest person I knew. My feelings were always hurt and I grew up very shy and dependent girl. My self confidence was non existent, which caused my shyness and dependence on others to make me feel wanted. When I was real young my mom and I were very close and I constantly worried about something happening to change that. Then a few years down the road, during my teenage years transition, my parents divorced. Instantly all bonds were destroyed.

Growing up my dad and I were never close. I never felt much love and respect for or from him. For a few years it was as if he didn't leave with us. My brother and I had our rooms upstairs along with our parents and Grampy but my dad "lived" in the basement. It was a while another world down there. Then one day it disappeared when my mom kicked him out. Before long he was living in an apartment in town with an old friend of his. I remember the first time that I went up there. I couldn't shake the feeling of my dad living somewhere else...forever. It was almost too much having to see him take a shower someplace else and sleep on the floor.

For awhile he'd still come around the house to get things and see us. And I'll never forget the day he sat on the bed with Sam and I telling us he kept begging our mom for another chance. And hugging us like he never ever had before. Then stumbling down the stairway falling against the wall as if he was slowly dying, and blood would just streak its way across the wall. That day I just stood still

And then came the transition. The hatred and blame that I placed on my dad for his affair suddenly reversed and fell into my mom's possession Now she was my enemy. Seeing my dad like that left no room for explanations. ...

And so began the turning point in my life. The following events stirred up so much anger within me, I just couldn't take it. I would do everything in my power to stay away from home. I turned to Shane and my friends for love and support, of which I was not getting from my parents. Family was a word that was never in my vocabulary. My 8th grade year, I grew up on my own. Both mentally, physically and emotionally. My dad was out of the house and my mom secretly went to Bill's nearly every night. She'd like and tell me she was going to her friend's in Findlay. Sometimes she'd leave food for my brother and I to heat up, but most nights we were the cooks. She wouldn't come home until after midnight, so I never could as her questions about anything.

My grandpa was still in good enough condition to get around, but I still made him dinner every night...then with time, I would start walking with him to the table, helping him sit down. I would help him get dressed and go to the bathroom. We had an alarm which would sound if he'd try to leave his room, or even his bed. It was as if we were were training a dong to stay still and not move unless we were there with him.

Then one night, the night I always feared, it happened. I was alone by myself with Grandpa. I had a High School dance to go to but I had just gotten him a Roast Beef sandwich from Arby's, and a half a glass of Coke for him on the table. My mom and brother were gone shopping and wouldn't be back until later. I ws walking with him with his walker out to the kitchen when he lost his balance and fell down hitting his head. I saw blood and he seemed to have lost his breath so I panicked and called 911. I just sat there on the floor talking to the dispatcher. I was a wreck. The ambulance came and took him and I called Andrea, Casey and Scott at Dominos. Andrea, Kelly, and Rachel came and took me to the hospital where where I stayed with him and held his hand. The girls left to track down my mom. After about 2 of the longest hours of my life, my mom arrived and everything was okay with Grampy, just a few stitches on his head.

Still, that memory was perhaps the most tragic for me. Even more so than when he did pass away. Just the fear of my responsibility to take care of him was enough. The fear that I would be the one with him or find him after he slipped away. Well I said I'd try to be reasonably with time, but now it's 3am and an hour has passed. I never meant to go into such detail but I tend to unleash everything once I start to dig in.

My whole objective is that I wanted you to see that I really am not strong, nor am I "cured." I just have learned to tolerate the pain. To let myself open up to whoever will listen and to find a way to have the strength to move on. I have moved on, but I have not been "cured" nor will I ever. I have just learned to set aside my pain, not burry it or search for a "cure". I always know that the pain and memories are right there besides me, but I have the control (most of the time) to keep them out of sight. Still, if there is an emotional response, those feelings quickly surface and cause chaos within me.  But the biggest and most important factor is that keeping those memories within me cause me to fight harder. Because of them I can visualize the future. I belieeve that there is nothing that cannot overcome. Sure, I am going to hurt or be depressed at times. But my new outlook on life is that I don't dwell on the path, nor create too many dreams of the future which might knock me down if they fail to come true. I just have to learn to live each day at a time. One step of the way, one breath at a time. I am no longer helpless. I, and only I, can and will make myself feel as I please. And happiness is just the key to success. You just need to discover who you are and what you want. By allowing yourself to release your thoughts, you are opening up a new space for your life. Just follow your heart and you will believe in yourself.

I hope that one day you will be able to understand where I am coming from. You just need to give yourself the chance to heal. And remember, I am always here when you need me. I will listen to anything you would like to escape from. Take good care of yourself, ya hear?

Love,
Aimee

DREAM AS IF YOU'LL LIVE FOREVER...LIVE AS IF YOU'LL DIE TOMORROW.  - JAMES DEAN

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