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My Life From Broken To Beautiful.

Updated on March 13, 2015

He took me away.

As a very young child my father was a very bad man. My mother tried to get help. Tried to get custody and save me from him, but the laws were different then. And the abuse was hard to prove. She tried hiding me away when he came for his visits. I remember her and I, cowering in the attic. Listening for him calling me from below. Me wrapped up in her arms. In her warmth and safeness. Waiting for him to leave. For the yelling to end.

The courts told her that she had to let me go and if she didn't he would get full custody. So she was left with no choices. Either she let me go with him on his court appointed visits, or she would lose me forever. Her hands were tied. She had to let the monster take her baby. And hope. Hope that I would be okay. Hope that she would see me again. Hope that he could keep his own darkness at bay for the short time he was to have me.

But all that hope was shattered when he failed to bring me back.

I remember that car ride. It was endless. We drove and drove and drove. I remember crossing the Mississippi river because his girlfriend made a song of it. It was the first word I ever knew how to spell. It was a beacon for some reason in my small child's mind. And I grasped onto it. Repeating it over and over again. M I S S I S S I P P I. M I S S I S S I P P I. It was as if a physical thing, that name spelled out in a sing song. It was mine.

He took me to a place full of adults. They did things in rooms behind closed doors that I was too little to understand. There was a kind old man in a rocking chair with a crooked little smile. There were tarantulas running around outside which fascinated me to no end. There was a box of cereal with a smiling sun and two scoops of falling raisins and that, too was a comfort. But why, I cannot say. I was afraid. I wanted my Mommy. My brother. My grandparents. I wanted my home. But I had those three things. An old kind man. Fuzzy tarantulas. A happy sun on a cereal box. Those were also mine. And I loved them.


The day they found me.

I remember when they found me. After how long, I cannot say. I remember the police were everywhere. A rush of officers with guns and serious faces. At first I was afraid, so afraid. A small girl in a world full of chaos and yelling. Then a man picked me up. He was a warm man. A nice man. He gave me a Pez Dispenser and told me that everything was going to be okay. They found me now and my Mommy would come. And my heart was happy.

They sent me to live with a couple, a faceless man and a faceless woman. They had a big white house with a chandelier and a large staircase that seemed to go on forever. They gave me fruity tasting gum and let me pound away at their giant black piano. I felt so small in that house, but also safe. And I knew my Mommy was coming, and that finally everything would be okay.

But it wouldn't be okay for long. It would be a long time before it was ever really okay again.

My mom was dying.

My mom had gotten sick before my father had stolen me away. He knew she had cancer and was having treatment. After I was stolen her worry and grief overtook her. She was so sick with it, the wondering if I was safe. The constant thoughts of where I was, what was happening to me, if I were even still alive. The doctors had to stop the treatment. She was so weak with it all. The cancer took over. By the time she had me back in her arms, it was too late. She was too far gone. I had her again only briefly and then she died.

Because of her love for me, she died. Because of my father's greed and sickness of his own, she died. But his sickness was a different kind. A Scary kind. An evil kind. His sickness stole my innocence. His sickness stole her life.

A childhood of self loathing.

The courts gave me to him. His family was better off financially than hers. He was my father, after all. But, he didn't really want me anyway. I was too little to understand that how he was bad. Too young to understand that I shouldn't love a monster. He was my father and I loved him. I didn't know any better.

But he didn't keep me around much. He drug me from place to place. Home to home. Family member to family member. Mostly I stayed with an aunt and uncle, his sister and her husband. He would pick me up when he wanted the welfare benefits for a while, but I was an anchor. I was a mouth to feed. A body to keep warm. I had needs at times that weren't always convenient and a lot of the times, even so young, I had to meet those needs for myself.

Bad things happened to me sometimes. Sometimes they didn't. Sometimes it was just waiting around in people's houses as he and his friends fed their habits. Sometimes it was sleeping in cars on random dark streets. Sometimes it was waiting home alone while he drank the night away at the bar, or waiting in the car outside the place, for him to get kicked out. Food banks, and clothes banks and dirty looks from girlfriends who resented me for living, for being dumped on them because of their love for him. He was a talker, that man. A convincer of anything he wanted to convince. He was an artist in this way. He was a master in this way.

I grew up knowing I had no place. Nowhere or no one who truly wanted me or needed me or thought that I could be something. I didn't matter much to anyone. Even the people that loved me only seemed to do so out of the love they had for my mother. I was always in the way. I was always looked down upon. I was always the reason my mother wasn't here. And it didn't really feel like I was worth the trade.

I grew up hating myself because I didn't know what love felt like. Not really. Not truly. I know people loved me, but it wasn't the proud kind of love. The kind of love that made people really want you to be around. I was always the odd man out. I was always just tolerated. I tried to be the funny one to make people want me, but no matter what I did, it only made it worse. I was the annoying one. I had no place.

Until I met him.



My love. My life. My savior.

Steve. The first time I saw him, I knew. He had strong hands. Kind eyes. A gentle smile.

We were instant friends, Steve and I. Inseparable from the start. He was the first person to really love me. The first person to see value in me and the first person to teach me how to see the value in myself. He was instantly my everything. I was lost until I found him. He anchored me.

We moved in almost instantly. This incredible man whom I was unbelievably lucky to have met. We married, and had children and loved. And still love. He is, even after these last 16 years, my best friend. My world. My everything. He gave me love for myself. He gave me two amazing and beautiful children. He gave me security in myself and my future. He gave me faith in humanity. I owe everything to him and the love I have for him is so true and strong and fierce.

I still struggle sometimes. The weight of my childhood is heavy. But he helps me carry that weight. I'm truly not alone now, and I'm so very very grateful for him. He's beautiful. He's intelligent. He's strong. He's perfect. Everything I had to endure in my life led me to him. To our children. To this life we share. Everything I had to endure was worth it. Because everything I have right now is better than anything I could have ever imagined it could be.

And you know what? I'm worth it.


This song is our song.

I would be lost without him.

Comments

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    • Angel Van Atta profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Van Atta 

      3 years ago from Delhi, California

      Thank you so much! Your words have, in turn, touched my heart.

    • Amanda6868 profile image

      Amanda M 

      3 years ago from Unknown

      That was a beautiful story and it really touched my heart. You are a great writer and the way this story was written just kept my attention throughout the whole thing.

    • Angel Van Atta profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Van Atta 

      3 years ago from Delhi, California

      I wish that I could just put a heart next to your comment. Thank you. I know that there are many people out there who have suffered similar and worse. I know that many still are. I'm just glad that there is hope for them and for those. Life can be so sad and ugly and complicated, but also so beautiful and happy and simple.

    • Medusa13 profile image

      Chelsea Rowe 

      3 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      You are worth it, always will be, and always were. It's unfortunate no one ever (besides your mom, whom you lost too soon) was compassionate enough to show that to you until Steve.

      I kept putting off reading this because I knew it would strike a cord in me in and be difficult to read without becoming emotional. I empathize with your childhood in many ways having been abused and neglected. I am sorry you had to suffer so.

      I can see the truly amazing person within you shine out through your writing. Although I am sure Steve was and is a huge part of your healing, I believe that you had it in you to believe in yourself and take steps to heal from such a horrible childhood!

    • Angel Van Atta profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Van Atta 

      3 years ago from Delhi, California

      I thank you both, truly. Writing is an amazing therapy. Regina, I encourage you to write your own story. I would be honored to read it. Marie, I love you so much for your kindness. It totally helps.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 

      3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      I keep coming back to read this, and each time it moves me. You write with feeling and passion, and what else would the reader want?

    • ReginaHurley profile image

      Regina Hurley 

      3 years ago from Cedartown, Ga

      Wow! A life so like my own and yet so different. I praise you for the courage that it must have take to write this beautiful piece of art. You are beautiful and a blessing to many.

    • Angel Van Atta profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Van Atta 

      3 years ago from Delhi, California

      I thank you, Sir.

    • Robert Levine profile image

      Robert Levine 

      3 years ago from Brookline, Massachusetts

      Devastating and beautiful. This is a huge accomplishment of craft and heart.

    • Angel Van Atta profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Van Atta 

      3 years ago from Delhi, California

      Thank you so much. Most of the time I really really do know that I wasn't the cause. But there are always those darker moments when I know that had I never been born she would probably still be here. But that's the rabbit trail I try to stay off of. My children and my life now are worth everything that happened then.

    • TripleAMom profile image

      TripleAMom 

      3 years ago from Florida

      I am so happy to see that you found beauty in your life. True family is a gift. I really hope you can believe that you were not the cause of your mother's death. Beautiful hub.

    • Angel Van Atta profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Van Atta 

      3 years ago from Delhi, California

      Thank you both for your kindness. It really does mean a lot to me. I know that there are many others out there who share similar stories and I think that telling your story is the best way to heal.

    • Sara Clinth profile image

      Sara Clinth 

      3 years ago from Israel

      ooooooo

      very nice

    • DawnMSamora profile image

      DawnM Samora 

      3 years ago from Akron, Ohio

      You are so welcome :)

      What you went through is awful, but I believe there's a reason for everything. Maybe your reason is to help others through your writing and showing them there is hope. :) Dawn

    • Angel Van Atta profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Van Atta 

      3 years ago from Delhi, California

      Awwwweee, Dawn, thank you so very much for the kind words. It really means a lot to me to have so much positive responses. I know that many understand and even have gone through worse things in their own childhood. I think that the most important thing that we can do is raise our children to have the best lives possible. To be the best people possible. To break the cycle of abuse and through them really understand what having and being a part of real love is like. Thank you again for your comment. It means a lot.

    • DawnMSamora profile image

      DawnM Samora 

      3 years ago from Akron, Ohio

      Angel,

      I am sorry for all you've been through. I like how you relate writing to therapy. I do this myself. I feel almost a release and closure from past hurtful experiences after writing about it. I agree with Marie also how you could turn this into a book. Well done! I really felt your pain as I read, but I also felt your strength towards the end.

      Thank you for writing this! -DawnM

    • Angel Van Atta profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Van Atta 

      3 years ago from Delhi, California

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I really was being true with my words and actually left out a lot of things that I wasn't sure would be appropriate for a hub. Writing is good therapy. It's a great way to let go. And my now truly is incredible.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 

      3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      What an awesome article. Angel Van Atta, you could turn that into a book. The way you write is so engaging, it draws the reader into your world. I hope that it was not as bad as you have painted it here, I hope some of it was poetic licence. It made me incredibly sad. They say you cannot enjoy the heights without tasting the depths. Let us hope the former is your reality and the latter is well and truly gone. Beautiful indeed.

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