When your stuck, you can't move, and every moment is filled with fear, you learn a lot about yourself. That might've been the first time I've fallen asleep to deal with overwhelming situations, but it wouldn't be the last.
It all started with cheeseburgers from McDonalds, if you can believe that. We rounded the drive thru, past the big yellow arches. This was a treat my sisters and I had truly earned. My mother had chosen a very specific way of ordering and my step father (who raised me) was not listening. Apparently you had to ask for the 59 cent cheeseburgers or it would cost more, and he was just asking for cheeseburgers. This caused them to argue in the McDonalds drive thru. He said forget it and whipped the car out of line. Mom screamed at him that she was not going to leave without our burgers that she'd promised us. My sisters and I just sat in the back wide eyed and in fear. Lately our parents had been fighting more and it resulted in lots of yelling and broken dishes. Dad got out of the car and walked, and mom went back around the drive thru. We were happy that our mother was advocating for us, but the burgers didn't taste as good with tears and worry. As kids we didn't understand that this fight was more than just burgers.
When we got home he was waiting and the fight started back up. They sat at the kitchen table accusing each other of cheating, talking about so many things I didn't understand. My dad didn't let us leave. He made the three of us sit on the couch and said, "Stay, I want you to see how much of a bitch your mother is!" We all started to cry as we watched our parents become different people, as we watched our life fall to pieces before us.
The fighting stretched out for hours and among the madness I had fallen asleep. The next thing I woke to was my sister screaming, "Don't hurt my mommy!" Dad was choking her and her face was discolored, when Heather yelled that he let go. Then he forced her to leave with no shoes and no keys. We were frightened.
Dad said it was the last time he might see us for a while and he ushered us all in the bedroom where we all slept on our parents bed. We were woken up to police sirens, and the reflection of the red and blue lights across the living room. Two officers came into the room and handcuffed Dad, as another asked us if we were okay. My first thought was where is my mother? They had decided not to have her come in until he was in the squad car downstairs. When my mom walked in the room my relief was instant and the tears began to pour again. I think we hugged our mom extra hard that day. We almost lost her, if Heather hadn't of screamed.
With tears in our eyes mom looked at us seriously. "Things are going to change a bit, and it's just going to be us girls for a while. I need you guys to go pack a bag or two because we are going to be moving away tonight." So with no time to say goodbye to my friends, and no idea where we were going, we packed our bags and got in the Suburban. In the car mom told me we were going to a battered woman's shelter. They specialized in helping people in our situation. Mom was afraid of Dad now, and he would only be in jail for two days. Just long enough time to move everything we owned out of the apartment.
Life was going to change.
It was never going to be the same.