"I'll always be your Daddy, I'll always love you," he told me as we traveled.
I was the one who had wanted to leave. I'd been begging to leave since 2nd grade. He was angry that I was destroying his family and forcing him to choose between me and my Momma. I had walked away from the house, sleeping in the woods during an epic snowtorm, refusing to live at home again as long as she was still there.
I loved my Daddy but I swore that I would never again live in a house with people who did not love me.
So he took me to his sister's house two states away. I didn't really know her, but figured it was better than home. He promised he would stay in touch, that he would come see me, that he would always love me.
He left several days later, assured that I would stay put and stay out of trouble. He said I could call him anytime I wanted, as much as I wanted and that he'd always love me.
Eigth months passed and I hadn't seen him. Momma and I weren't speaking, which was fine with me, but he told me that I couldnt call the house anymore because it upset her. I needed to call him at work if I wanted to talk to him. I went to school and worked while he was at work.
I was in a strange place, with someone else's family, hanging out with someone else's friends.
I don't remember what pushed me over the edge. Maybe I called the house only to be hung up on, or told to call him back at work the next day. Maybe I called my Granny and got some snarky lecture about how bad I was fucking up my life. Maybe I was just exhausted. I didn't sleep much back then.
I just remember the overwhelming swell of every emotion I'd ever felt, followed by a devastating emptiness that settled over me like a thick fog. It didn't matter, it wasn't worth it. Nothing mattered.
I knew absolutely nothig about pharmacology at that point in my life so I didn't realize that the bottle of prescription strength decongestant woud counteract the bottle of OTC sleeping pills. Had I only taken one or the other, I probably would've gone to sleep and simply not woken up. Instead I took all of both. I was fucked up for three days, and sick as a damn dog all night.
I remember pin-balling my way down the hallway, my heart pounding so loudly in my ears I was certain the laughing family in the living room could hear it. After puking for what seemed like an eternity, pissed that things weren't going according to plan, I grabbed the bathroom counter to steady myself and looked up. My reflection startled me - pale, with hollowed eyes and pupils so large my green eyes looked black as coal.
I swore I would never again allow myself to slip that far.
I pin-balled through the next coulple of days...wandering the halls of the high school, being led to class by my cousins and their friends, unable to remember my new locker combination. They all laughed at how high I was.
When the new year rolled around, and I still hadn't seen or heard from my Daddy, I told my aunt what I'd done. I heard her on the phone later that night.
"I don't care," she said angrily. "I didn't think this was going to be permanent. You better bring your ass down here and see her.....even if you just send her a card a week.....you either do something or you come get her."
A few days later my Daddy showed up. He was pissed. He left with assurances that I'd stay put and that I'd stay out of trouble.
He sent me a card a week for 6-8 weeks. They were sweet cards with thoughtful pre-fab messages. He signed them using his first name.
My aunt put me on lockdown. I had to quit my job and couldn't even go outside to smoke without an escort. No one ever took me to a doctor or anything. It stayed that way until the end of the school year when I moved to anther state to live with my snarky Granny.
I will never again live in a house where I am not loved. I will never again slip that far. And I will never again beg someone to love me.
My husband doesn't seem to get that, but then again, he may not have heard that story.