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That Was What Hurt Me the Most Page 5

Updated on January 11, 2019

Page Five

I was still living in a foster home at the age of sixteen. I was staying with a family, -mother, father and two young boys- and three other ’foster girls’. There were about three weeks left until Christmas and the other girls were going home to stay with their families over the holidays. We were sitting in the kitchen of the ‘foster home’ I was living in at the time. My social worker, who was a young, pretty woman with messy brown curls hanging in her face, advised me to call my father and ask him if I could come home to spend Christmas with my family. Over the past months I had been very honest with her about ’life at my house’. I knew she did not believe me. I was positive that she thought I was exaggerating events or even making them up entirely. She was nice enough but my guess was that she had been speaking with my parents whom she obviously believed over me. I told her that I knew one hundred percent that he would say no and I did not want to put myself through that humiliation. She told me I really didn’t have a choice because my “Foster Family” wanted to have Christmas with their own children only -without any of the 'foster girls'. I agreed to call him.
My father answered the phone. I very quietly asked him if I could come home for Christmas. He loudly said “NO” then hung up the phone. I stared at the phone for a few seconds to make sure my eyes weren’t tearing up then I looked at my social worker who was speechless. I said “I told you he would say ‘no’, but at least he was nice about it”. She seemed confused by my reaction, or lack there of, and she fumbled over her words. I don’t know what she was trying to say but she packed up her papers and practically ran out of the room.
I ended up staying with my ‘foster family’ over the holidays. It was very awkward for everyone. I wanted to stay in bed on Christmas morning but they forced me to get up and join them in the family room. I had never been in that room before. It was usually blocked off by a red rope, like the one used at the movie theaters. The four of them sat on the floor in a semi-circle around the tree. I was told to sit on the floor where I stood, which was probably about two feet away from the doorway where I had just walked in. They handed me a present and told me that I was only getting one, just like the other foster girls, because they were not expecting me to be there plus they didn’t think it would be fair to buy me more gifts just because I wasn’t able to go home. I was very uncomfortable and just wanted to crawl back under my warm covers. It was very cold in their big house and I did not belong there. I murmured a very unenthusiastic ‘thank you’ after I opened the gift and then sat and watched them continue on with their family Christmas as if I wasn’t even there. When the last present was unwrapped, ‘mother’ (which was what I was told to call her) went to the kitchen and brought back a tray with four mugs full of steaming hot chocolate. I liked the thought of something warm in my hands as I was very cold. She put the tray down then looked at me and said “I’m sorry but you are so quiet that I forgot you were here!” then she ran to the kitchen to make another cup of hot chocolate for me. I was a little embarrassed. I wrapped my hands around the very hot mug. It burned a little but I didn’t care, it was warm. I inhaled the sweet aroma, closed my eyes and pretended for a moment that I was someone else. Someone who was happy. Someone whose family wanted to be with her. Someone who knew without a doubt that she was loved and safe. Someone who was not me.
Later on that day I called my boyfriend. He was two years older than me, had a job, went to school and lived at home with his parents. His parents did not like me, but that didn’t stop him from seeing me. He was abusive, but he loved me... and I was pregnant. As we chatted I could hear his mother in the background yelling at him to get off the phone because he was spending Christmas with his family and not ‘that little slut’.
Every Christmas day, my family would go to my grandmother's house for dinner. We had a large family. My grandmother had twelve children, who got married and had children. Dinner was always a big family feast, and I liked it. My mother stopped by the ‘foster home’ on her way to my grandmothers. She told me to get dressed because I was coming with them. I did. When I got in the car I saw that my father wasn’t there. That was very odd. This was ‘his’ family we were going to visit and he always came with us. I later heard my mother tell the story that she and him had had a fight because she wanted to bring me for Christmas dinner. He told her it was me or him and she chose me. I knew it was a lie at the moment I heard it and I’m positive that everyone else knew it as well. Everyone in that room, including me, knew that she would never, ever chose anyone over my father, but we all went along with her lie. At sixteen I knew what was going on. My parents fought practically every day and especially on holidays. It was like some sort of weird tradition. It wasn’t a holiday until my parents had a screaming match, and they still always went to my grandmothers together. I suspected he was with another woman, because there was no way he was sitting at home alone, he could not be alone. It turned out that I was right, as we would eventually ALL figure out. I later found out that the only reason my mother brought me that day was because my grandmother told her to not show up at her house without me.
Dinner was nice, as it always was at grandma's. The adults talked, the children played and the food was so good. My grandmother hugged me as I was leaving and told me that no matter what happened I was HER family and I could always come to grandma’s house. I forced a smile as tears formed. I left before they escaped my eyes. On the ride home I was mulling over the possibility that my mother did in fact choose me over my father and she was taking me home. As cold and crazy as my mother was, the thought of going home with her and my sisters was exhilarating. Oh to be home, -in my own room, -in my own bed, -in my own house. I let that fantasy play around in my head even as she turned onto the street where my foster home was. My mother stopped the car in front of my foster home. I sat there. I did not want to leave the car. “Goodbye” my mother said. I sat there. “Good-Bye” she said again, this time slower and more pronounced. I slowly opened the car door and got out. “Bye” I sadly said as my sisters waved to me. I barely had the door shut when my mother drove away. She didn’t even wait to make sure anyone was home and that I got into the house alright. She just drove away and left me standing in the cold, dark winter night. That was what hurt me the most.


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