Clean Getaway.

By Nicole Renee

Besides writing poor summaries, I have another terrible fault of pushing people away. It's something that I've been aware of since I was 13. Most of my struggle in relationships start when I really let myself become attached and happy. I've had periods in my life when I was better at handling attachment, but it takes a lot of work and awareness. When something traumatic happens (insert kidnapping), I tend to revert back to my old ways of pushing people away from fear of loss. It's not something I'm at all proud of. I tend to keep my distance from any real relationships out of fear of hurting that person and myself.

I was two when my mom died from breast cancer. Thankfully, I don't remember anything from that time of of my life. My earliest memories revolve around me crying on the couch about missing her while my dad aggressively told me he'd, "take me to the hospital if I didn't stop". Coincidentally, the other earliest memory I have is of him crying about her and begging me not to tell anyone about his breakdowns. My brothers and father had a lot of anger about her death that they took out on me. I handled it by being sad a lot of the time and with a desperation to learn anything about her in order to understand myself. However, my dad wouldn't tell me many details about her, besides that she was a really good person and had a kind heart. I never asked him more about her because I thought it may be hurtful for me to press for more information. Secretly, I always wanted to know her favorite color or what made her happy or sad. My brothers and I also had a silent understanding to never discuss her death.

After my mother, Nancy, died my grandmother moved in and raised my brothers and I. For a lot of years it was extremely stressful watching my grandma and my dad butt heads. My dad was afraid of losing anyone after my mom died and my grandmother wanted us to live. I had a lot of surreal moments as a child being in school on mother's day or on bring a parent to school day. Some of the moments consisted of me realizing that I was one of those kid's with a dead parent or is that what having a mom is really like. That being said, my grandmother was wonderful and did the best to make sure we had the knowledge we needed. She taught me to read, not to be afraid of life, and be independent. More than that though, she tried to preserve our childhood the best she could and after having the experience of raising her own four boys, was ready to go toe to toe with my dad's anger. After my grandmother saw how hard my dad was on my brothers and I, she became my greatest ally and friend. This continued to the required train rides to Pennsylvania that she took us on on to visit my mother's mom and brother.

I loved riding the train with my brothers and grandma. We all woke up at 5AM to catch the earliest Amtrack train, which was next to a terrible smelling soap factory. I would arrange my stuffed animals on the seats, like they were riding the train with me and explained to them about the different cabins. Being in motion was always a safe feeling for me, my brothers and dad left me alone while we were on the way somewhere. My mom's brother, my Uncle Jeff, would met us at the train and take us to his and my other Grandmother Faye's house in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. My grandma would leave after a few days - leaving my brothers and I alone with my Grandma Faye and Uncle Jeff for about three weeks. This is when my nightmare started. My brothers had full authority to do whatever they wanted to me, which mostly consisted of calling me names and beating me up. For a long time, I could never understand why my Uncle Jeff and Grandma Faye didn't do anything to stop them. More than that, they both would pay special attention to my brothers by buying them lots of stuffed animals (which my brothers didn't really want) while not giving me anything or making fun of me with them. My Uncle Jeff would take them on lots of trips while leaving me alone to do nothing. I would cry when they hurt me and then get yelled at in the process.

My dad married my step-mother when I was around 12. This was hard for me because my dad had my grandma move out and my new step-mom move in. I felt the pain of losing someone who provided so much safety for me. I had trouble adjusting to the new dynamic and felt isolated. My brothers were always together and my dad and step-mom were now always together. My step-mom did get my dad to stop yelling at us, which was a huge relief; however, his meanness and depression never ceased. I was about 13 when, my step-mother revealed to me that my mother chose not to have chemo therapy for her breast cancer because she was pregnant with me and necessarily affirming her death. Knowing this destroyed me for many many months. My father asked me not to blame myself because, "that's not what she or any woman would want". He also told me that my Grandma Faye and Uncle Jeff had a hard time seeing me because I looked and reminded them so much of my mom. To my dad's credit, I never told him what happened on those trips but as soon as he saw it, he stopped me from going there. I took on this survivors guilt of blaming myself for any pain my family had because I was the reason my mother died. My anxiety was out of control for a while to the point of me not being able to sleep and my teacher getting involved. Finally, I made living amends by telling myself that I would be very kind to everyone that I could, in order to justify being alive, and further than that, I would live for two people, my mother and I.

This isin't meant to be a sad story for me. My mother gave me such a beautiful gift and perspective on the world. I have always considered myself fortunate for having experienced death and loss at such an early time in my life.

Since my mother's death, life has granted me many other other people to lose, from good friends to now my entire family. All of this pain has caused me to start to again, anticipate the eventual separation from the people I care most about, and therefore, pushing them away before I really get hurt. It's no way to live and it's the furthermost thing from kind. No matter how much I try to avoid loss, life will always be uncontrollable. All lessons are cheap while we are alive. I know its worth attaching to others to spite that they may not always be there, just like I know that we can chose to see hard times as a destruction or a blessing. I chose to see them as a blessing and I hope you will chose to do the same.


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