When I was around a year and a half old I was in a flood that destroyed our home, shortly after, my mother abandoned me. I never regained a truly significant relationship with her. Her absence left me longing for a loving maternal figure and questioning whether I would (or even should) ever be able to mother anyone myself.
A few years later, my father remarried, which turned out to be devastating. My new step-mother was a highly volatile and abusive woman. I had family that saw the abuse but they did not know how to help. They did their best but it was considered a “family matter” at the time and wasn’t handled as it might be today.
Right after I turned 10, and in the midst of retiring from the army, my father found himself going through his third divorce. The day before they were scheduled to go to court he finally confronted me about my stepmother. After years of lying, I finally admitted to him what had really been going on behind his back. His face seemed to lose all the life and vigor he had once embodied. This dark period was firmly cemented within me when my beloved father completed suicide.
His death would prove to be something that I felt both hindered and defined by for much of my life. I struggled with understanding. I was taunted and looked down upon because of the manner in which my dad had died and his final actions on this earth. People told me he had killed himself so he would finally be free of me. People told me he had gone to hell. People were scared of me because they had decided my father was a monster instead of a man. I struggled with depression, with his ultimate act, and my own suicidal thoughts. It had become an option for me because if the man I had idolized could do it, why couldn’t I?
I was adopted by my grandparents (my father’s parents). I was a little Korean girl being raised by my white grandparents in a time before this was common. Though they taught me a great deal, it was not an easy way to be raised. I had not only lost my father but I had now been sent to a whole new set of expectations and allowances and I still had the fear of physical abuse ingrained within me from my stepmother. There were days where just breathing made me ache. Days where no one knew that the only thing that got me through was thinking of seeing my father again. Days where I desperately wanted to do anything in order to make that happen.
I struggled with my new world, my loss, and a pain unlike any I had ever known before and my grandparents struggled with the loss of another child. Much of our time together was spent in silence because none of us knew how to comfort the other. Even though we desperately wanted and needed just that.
Over the years I learned about the intricacies of relationships and the desires that move people to act in certain ways. I used writing to soothe my pains and to analyze the world around me. It gave me power and at the same time, allowed me to be weak. It never judged my flaws or my past, unlike so many people I had met throughout my young life.
In time I realized, I will always suffer from depression But I will always fight it with all that I can because I will not allow it to destroy who I can be.
The woman I am, is one who has moved forward, oftentimes awkwardly. I am stronger today then I have ever been and yet, in many ways, I am still as fragile as that mourning child. I have learned to embrace me, all of me.
I want to share my story so that perhaps at least one person can find the solace they need to get through another day. You never know when your heart will be moved.
© Susie Reece 2014