Years Without Contact
For 8 years I was not allowed to have any contact with my mother or my three older sisters. I hadn't seen them since I was 11 years old. My father and his fiance would not allow me to even talk with them on the phone. Their reasoning was that "All they bring is drama" and that they are all bad influences. Any time I even tried to contact any of them, via email, hone call, letter, friend's phone, I would be punished. Either my dad would lose his temper, I would be put in the corner, only allowed to it at the kitchen table, or had to sit at the edge of my bed and look at the wall. I didn't get to see them until I was 18 and didn't get to contact them until I was 17 and graduated high school.
How Did it All Start?
My mom and dad separated and divorced when I was pretty young. I don't remember much and only know what my family tells me about it. My three older sisters and I began going back and forth between parents when I was about six or seven. We did it every year until I was eleven. My dad ended up moving to Michigan when they separated so that was where we all went. The last year I went, I was with my sister and her boyfriend going up to visit our dad. It was a week after my eleventh birthday and we were going for a couple of weeks. During the stay, my sister and her boyfriend ended up staying with some family friends and I stayed with my dad and his, then, girlfriend. My dad ended up having me call my mom and tell her I wanted to stay up there with him. She initially said no and I will admit, I was glad. But he made me ask again. She asked me if it is what I really wanted to do and, since he was in front of me, I said yes. She told me I could and then that was it. My sister and her boyfriend left as planned and I was there. Soon after, I started school up there and everything seemed okay. Shortly after school started, my dad and his girlfriend ended up arguing and breaking up. Two months into school, my dad and I then moved to New York to live with his mom and sister. I loved living with them and getting to spend as much time with them as possible. About three and a half months after we moved there, he met his fiance now. That is where it all went downhill for me. We had some good times, don't get me wrong. But the longer we stayed, the more bad times we had. I just wanted to go home.
Finally Made It!
I studied five pages of math problems every night for a month to prepare for the ASVAB. When it came time to take the test, I was so scared and nervous.I went in and decided to not think about all of the negativity and focus on getting out. I passed the test and finally got to take the next step. I was only 17 when I started the process so I was in the delayed entry program. I didn't get to officially swear in until November after I turned 18. I got to do it at a college football game too. It was on TV and everything. My official shipping out date was Februaury 23, 2015. I couldn't wait.
Now's the Time
The time for me to leave came and passed. I went through basic pretty easily and got to graduation and the day came for my family to see me finally become and Airman. I worked my butt off to make it through basic training and to march with my flight in front of my family. To show them something to be proud of. After all that time, I finally got to see my mom, stepdad, and sister. I was so excited I began crying before my sister even got to me. When we graduated, we had to stand at Parade Rest until our families came and touched our shoulders to tap us out. I saw my sister running up to me out of the corner of my eye. It took all of my self control and military training not to cry. That first hug in 8 years was the best hug I've ever gotten. I was finally home.
What was it like trying to get to know my family again?
It was great to finally get to see my mom, stepdad, and sister. I got to show them what I had worked so hard to become. I knew I would finally have someone to tell me they were proud of me as my dad never did. It was kind of weird getting to know my family again and showing them who I had become over the years. I knew I wasn't the same person they knew from eight years before. Not just because I had grown up, but because I had gone through so much. They didn't know half of the things that I had gone through whilst I was away because they were never allowed to talk to me either. It was strange seeing these people that I hadn't known in years. Since I was an adult now, I was able to ask all of the questions i had and get the real answer instead of the child version. It was nice to be treated like an adult finally. After so long of being away, I was trying to adjust to life as I previously knew it while filling in the blanks.
How Did I Get Through It?
It took a lot to get through being alone all the time. I was never allowed to go hang out with friends or spend the night anywhere. My dad would always say yes and then put it all on me when I got in trouble for doing whatever he said yes to. I would get grounded to my room more times than not because he made it my fault. I had gone through a lot of anxiety and depression that was left ignored until I was in the military. I never wanted to to do anything or go anywhere after a while because I always felt so alone. I was always seen as the bad child and it took it's toll on me. I was isolated from almost everyone. There was a long period of time when I was even isolated from my dad's mom and sister because of whatever reason. I had no way to escape it as I was unable to go to a friends. The only friend I was allowed to hang out with was gone most of the time as both of her parents were musicians. Their family was always going somewhere. Nine times out of ten, I was alone sitting on the couch. I was not even allowed to go to my room unless it was time to go to bed.
Where Are You Now?
I left that environment three years ago now. I am happily married with a beautiful little girl. I have the scars and memories from it but that's for another story. I am still in my home state of Texas and I couldn't be happier. I am finally home and free of it all. If it wasn't for my family and my husband, I would be in an even worse place than I was before. Thank the Lord there was a light at the end of that tunnel. I would just like to say thank you to all of those wonderful people that gave me an escape as much as they could and tried to help. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for y'all. To those reading, make this a lesson on what you do and how it affects those around you.
© 2017 Carissa Kumiko Bradley