For part one of Jennifer’s journey, click here.
We arrived home, shaken up, but alive, and went to bed. The next day, I told mom I had enough of this shit, and if we didn’t leave, someone was going to die, and I wasn’t kidding. She told me to be patient, and she had a plan – a remark that I had absolutely no faith in, but I nodded and told her she’d better follow through with it, because the situation with dad was getting so far out of hand that our lives were risk. A month passed before the plans actually fell through, which mom later told me was a tactic to assure that dad didn’t realize what was happening. She was on disability for a severe back injury she had suffered for over a decade, so every year or so, she had to be evaluated by a doctor to confirm she was still disabled. She told dad she had one of these appointments, so she and I were going to go to Texas so she could see her primary doctor. He didn’t seem to suspect any foul-play with this explanation, so it seemed things were going well. Mom gave me instructions to pack enough stuff to last us a while, but not too much that he would find it suspect, placing it little by little into the truck on the days before our trip. On the day we left, I couldn’t stop smiling. We loaded up into the truck, said our goodbyes to dad, before taking off. At some point between our getting in the vehicle, and pulling out the driveway, he seemed to realize we were leaving for good, and began to run after us like a madman. I turned around and gave him a nice, big smile, then waved like crazy at him. I never will forget the stunned look on his face. To this day it makes me giddy, which may be odd, but I really don’t care. I was free from the hitting, the degrading name calling, isolation, paranoia, and authoritarian household that had me in chains for my entire life. Things were looking much better, and I finally had a chance to be happy.
On the way, mom and I discussed many things, one being my doubts about god because of what we had been through. She assured me that god was still with us, and if he hadn’t been, we wouldn’t have survived or had one another. Now, he had given us the opportunity to be happy, and it was her and I against the world. I heeded her words, and thought she had a really good point. I never forgot when she said, “It’s you and me against the world…” I considered this evidence that god was real, and with us, holding us together against all odds and struggles. Such a wonderful new beginning! I prayed to god and thanked him for having helped us get away from the tyrant, and swore I would never doubt him again as long as he kept mom and I together.
After about 7 hours, we arrived at my granny’s house in Texas, which was exciting because I hadn’t seen her in years! My aunt was also living there to take care of granny after she had a stroke. It was so awesome to be around family again! Things were fine for a while, and I began school a couple of months after we arrived. It was scary to go to public school, since I had been homeschooled and isolated for so long. Lots of bullying went on, because I was socially odd, and didn’t quite fit in. All of that really didn’t matter much, as long as I knew mom and I were free and could spend quality time together. So I would walk home from the bus stop each day, expecting to see her there when I arrived, but for one reason or another, she rarely was. I would ask granny where mom went, and she said she didn’t know. At times my mom would show up, late at night with the smell of alcohol on her breath. I inquired where she had been, to which she replied she had been at the bar hanging out with friends she knew in town. This went on for about 6 months. Me going to school, and her arriving home late and drunk. I started smoking cigarettes at school due to the stress and lack of guidance at home. My granny caught me, and told me it wasn’t good for me. I asked her why it mattered? No one really cared. Then mom found out I was smoking, she pretended to be upset for a few months, but after a while, she began buying them for me, since she had begun smoking herself, and figured it would be hypocritical for her to tell me to stop rebelling in that way.
About January the next year, mom told me that she had found a place to live where dad wouldn’t find us, and it was a college town, so she had signed up for classes there. How wonderful! Maybe being away from her bar friends would allow for her to spend more time with me! I thanked god once again for helping us find a place, and giving us a real chance to grow closer together. I began school there, and actually started making friends. I loved the new place, but mom seemed very stressed when she was home, and on the weekends, of course, she still frequented various bars. She loved being back at college, and spent a lot of time studying, but we were fighting quite a bit. I began to feel as though she didn’t like me at all. It hurt my feelings, but at least she was actually there, and I had some friends to talk to. After her first semester ended, and to my utter dismay, she started spending more and more time at bars. By this time, I had turned 14, and was already quite rebellious and angry – especially after she brought home guys from bars that wouldn’t seem to go away. We had two different guys move in with us, one of which was a complete control freak that wouldn’t give me any privacy, and as ALWAYS drunk or high on something. One day, they left for the bar, and didn’t come back for a full month. There was barely enough food in the house for me to survive, and I had no idea where she had gone until she called me on the phone a week after they had left to let me know they were staying in Arkansas, and she didn’t know when they would be back, but would let me know. To say I was hurt by this would be a complete understatement. The woman abandoned me to vacation with a drunkard. I prayed and prayed for them to come home, at least before the food ran out. They finally did, so I assumed god answered my prayer, but there was still the matter of the additional drunkard flopping at our house.
He lived with us for 5-6 months, and after a couple of really bad, drunken fights between them, I advised mom to take that bastard back where he came from. She agreed, and he packed his stuff and they went back to his town. I waited for her to arrive back home until 3am, and to my utter dismay, she arrived with guy #2, whose name was Thomas. I was absolutely infuriated with her! I prayed to god that night that she would stop drinking. I pleaded with him, and bargained my life to him if he would just help me have a real parent that cared about me for once in my life.
A few days after Thomas had arrived, mom decided she wanted to vacation to Arkansas once again. I insisted that this time, they take me with them. She disagreed, saying she wanted to spend quality time with the guy she had just met. To my surprise, the guy agreed that I should go with them, and he was looking forward to the opportunity to get to know me as well. So off to Arkansas we went, and aside from my mom’s drunkenness, I actually had a good time! Thomas loved to drive FAST on the narrow highways alongside the mountains. It was exhilarating, and he was funny, smart, and quite an interesting character. One night after my mom had passed out, we spent some time talking about everything from life to music, only interrupted by the occasional animal that glowed their eyeshade with wonder at us as we tried to guess what species it was. I really liked this guy, and as I prayed later on that night before going to sleep, I thanked god for him coming into mom’s life, despite how they met. He actually was nice, and seemed to actually care about my feelings and well-being more than my own mom. Perhaps it would be a good influence for her, I thought.