When we landed in Jacksonville on August 17, 1977, I had no idea that would be my final destination. And things got much more severe. My dad had always been a heavy drinker, but he was now a raging alcoholic, not coming home until he had stopped at one of the bars on base, coming home completely out of his mind. This is also when the abuse against my mother came to its ugly peak. I remember hating to see my dad’s car coming down the street, afraid of how he would react when he got out of the car; you just never knew. I remember I had started “going steady” with my neighbor Alex, but when he decided he wanted to start holding hands and kissing I broke up with him. Not because I didn’t like him anymore, but because I was afraid of my father and what he would say if he saw us. I never learned good communication skills as our family had none, so I simply broke up with him, no explanation-too embarrassed to tell him why. Now Alex was a sensitive fellow and his brother came up to me, upset, asking me why I broke up with his brother-again, I have no answers. I look back now and wish I was a stronger person, able to communicate with people, but I just couldn’t.
It was also around this time I had befriended a girl around the corner. We became pretty good friends, our families even doing things together, like going to the lake. (My dad was always on his best behavior it these types of situations). The summer after we met she went away to spend the summer with her dad, Pennsylvania maybe. She had a huge thing for Shaun Cassidy I believe it was. But her step-sister was still at home so I hung out with her over the summer. You have to remember my dad had turned into a mean man, when he was yelling and pounding his fists on the table while trying to help me with homework, beating my mother senseless, I was just always around meanness and cruelty. My friend had a picture of Shaun Cassidy on her dresser, cut out from a magazine, and for some reason, a reason I still do not know to this day, I destroyed that picture. I can’t remember exactly what I did, but I think I drew all over it or put glue on it; not really sure but when she got home, and I do not blame her, this fiery redhead was on the warpath after me! She became my tormentor for several years after. I wish I knew why I did that, but I don’t. Was I mad at her because she left me? Was I trying to be a showoff in front of her sister? I don’t know. I do know that my dad was a narcissist, I understand that now, but at the time I did not know what that was, but I knew he was very boastful, thought he was better than others. and knew everything. I am sure the poisonous atmosphere in my home was shaping me and making me not such a nice person.
I know there were times when my mom would lock me, her and my sister in my room waiting for my father to come home. And sometimes when it seemed he would bust the door down we would climb out the bedroom window and go to our next door neighbors house; he was a very nice, older man whose Vietnamese wife and children had left him and moved to Hawaii. This was many times on school nights, up all hours of the night, waiting for my dad to fall asleep so we could go back home. It was a very chaotic, stressful household. My dad would also beat my mom severely (when we weren’t crawling out the window)!
As I said earlier, my former friend was on the warpath and stayed on the path for several years until she moved away. I was afraid of her. She would just torment me, say mean things to me in the hallway. Why I didn’t just apologize and try to make things right I don’t know, except, again, for the fact, I had absolutely zero communication skills and did not even know how to start.
It was at this time, eighth grade, that I started drinking. I would steal beer out of the refrigerator and put it in my purse. First, it started with one beer a day, I would drink it on the way to the bus stop; my first encounter daily with my ex-friend. By the time I got to the bus stop I was feeling no pain and just ignored her. This went on for awhile and then, eventually, I had to up the anti to continue to feel good. So eventually I was getting up to three to four beers a day, in the morning before school. How no one noticed the beer gone from the refrigerator or, knowing it was being taken, but not saying anything I do not know. But the drinking continued.
This went on through eighth grade; in the ninth grade there was this older guy on the bus, he must have been eighteen years old. Now, this would not fly nowadays, an adult riding the school bus with children, but he had literally FAILED his way into staying in junior high…I know, I know-totally ridiculous but true! The bus I rode the bus driver was always punctual and we always got to school before any of the other buses, very early, left to our own devices until school started! One day he came up to a friend and me and asked if we wanted to walk to the small cemetery behind the school-Jefferson Davis Junior High (JD for short). I am now a huge ID TV fan and if I watched an episode now of two girls going to a cemetery with an older person I would be screaming at the tv, “NO-DON’T YOU DO IT”…but this was a different time, a different world really. Well, it was back there in Turknett Cemetery where I smoked my first marijuana joint and it was love at first toke! Some people say you don’t really feel the effects of a joint the first time you smoke it but I beg to differ! The guy was actually very nice, he never tried anything with us and continued to smoke weed with us every single morning until ninth grade was over! I was in love (with the marijuana, not the guy!)
Now it was during this time frame that things were coming to a head with my parents. The beatings were happening more frequently and more violently. I forgive my dad now, but he had two daughters whose lives were very much affected by the way he treated our mother and our witness to that. I remember trying to stop the beatings, trying to pull him off her. One time I used the vacuum cleaner hose with the hard attachment at the end to start beating him. He looked up at me, at first with this animal like anger, but when he realized it was me his look softened and he told me to get away. My dad never physically abused me or my sister, but he might as well have as the effect of watching those beatings and his mental cruelness did its job on us. We never called the police and I am not sure why maybe just too afraid. Also, I think he ordered me not to and of course I was not going to disobey the order and face a similar fate
I was also very angry with my mother. I know she had a serious situation going on, but I was never cooked breakfast before I went to school-usually just ate PopTarts, never a goodbye and have a nice day; I was also angry that she was such a coward that she would stay in that situation, keeping her two daughters in that environment; it was sickening. But I now had my new friend drugs and still stole my old friend beer once in a while; this is how I coped. And it worked.