Before I get started, I just want to say, if you are going through family problems, or any problems for that matter, write it out. It doesn’t have to make sense, you don’t have to share it with me or anybody else. But it is seriously a tremendous relief to get something like that out. This is going to be long, so thanks in advance.
So, this is my testimony. You can judge me for yourself, but only after you have read my full story. I’m letting you be the judge because I know I’ve slipped up in more than one place, and maybe the guilt lies in the fact that I have no regrets. Everyone has their own story, and I hope you can find the beauty in mine. Here we go, it’s complicated, but hopefully, you can make some sense out of my wild, tumultuous life:
My name is Emmalina, and I’m a 14-year old girl. Like most people, my life revolves around my family, and so will my testimony. I’m broken. It’ll take a few years before I’m fixed, but this is our story, and I will always love my family.
So it’s just me, my mom, my dad, and my twin sister.
So let’s start with my mom. She’s beautiful, and she is very good with organizing paperwork and bills and all that stuff because we never go into debt or owe anything. She’s also really good at pretending like she cares in public and is very good at talking shit behind your back. Well, not behind my back - she doesn’t even have the decency to do that at least, to spare me just a speck of self-esteem. Yeah, I get she goes through stuff too, but to be honest, most of the time it’s her fault anyways.
“She is not a very good mother.” I hear people say that about their mothers at school, and I wonder how true it is. I wonder if they really mean it. I’m going to be frank with you and tell you what I think about my mom, and maybe I’m a little biased against her, which is why I’m leaving it up to you to decide who’s at fault.
I think she cares too much about the wrong things, and she expects perfection, which isn’t even possible. She literally has taken over my whole life, and she knows about everything I do, own, have. Every single schoolwork paper I bring home. I guess it’s worse having a twin sister in that sense because my mom is always comparing us. She expects nothing less than a 100% on any test, and she basically plans out my whole day’s schedule.
It’s horrible, and she will make my sister and I go through our whole school day every single day, and driving to school the next day, she is drilling us, “What did Sarah say yesterday?” “Tell me what you did with Mr. Williams because I know you didn’t tell me everything.” And if we don’t say anything, she will get really mad.
I have to tell everyone at school the “situation” with my mom, so they know. But I can deal with the stupid stuff. No privacy whatsoever, a complete planned out schedule for my day, absolutely no free time to myself. Yeah, I can deal with that.
But she doesn’t let me see or talk to my dad. At all. Like ever. And he’s a normal dad, he works, he comes home, and everything. But since we were very young, I remember my mom telling me to never look at my dad or do anything with him. I can’t so much as look at him when we’re eating together (which is rare as it is) without her kicking my leg under the table. I can’t believe how greedy and selfish she is, and she will absolutely not have us in a room alone for a minute.
When I was younger, I thought it was normal. And I was confused when I saw happy families on TV or at school. We would go to my piano recitals or my graduation ceremonies, and my mom would always make my sister and I get ready really early, so we can arrive there two hours early, just at a time when my dad isn’t awake or when he’s not home from work yet. So we arrive at wherever we’re going, and the other people’s full families are there. And my dad didn’t even know it existed.
My mom never gave me a chance to love my dad. She raised me to abhor my father, instead of letting me judge that for myself.
I’ve tried, believe me, I have. But every time my dad leaves and I looked at him or did something with him, my mom will scream. The same way she screams if I mess one little thing up. If it’s me who did something, she’ll talk to my sister, and say, “What’s her problem? Do you know what her problem is?” And I’ll have no choice but to sit there and not say anything. As if I don’t already know what I am at this point because she hasn’t told me a million times. And I don’t cry. I used to when I didn’t realize that’s what my mom wanted. She wants me to cry so she can scream some more to tell me to stop. I don’t cry anymore. I feel literal hot pricks of anger in my eyes, literally, but I pinch my wrist and would rather bleed myself than let her see me cry. And trust me, controlling your tears takes real practice. But I’ve had plenty.
I care more about my sister than myself. As long as she doesn’t get hurt because if she does, then it’s my fault. I didn’t do everything that I should’ve. It took forever to get out of her brainwashing, and it did a lot of mental damage to me. There wasn’t a lot of physical abuse.
Well, except for the knife incident that happened in fifth grade, I think. My sister and I can still remember it clearly - anyways the indent in the floor is still there. So I’ll say my mom has a super bad temper, and it’s hard to please when everything has to be her way, and everything you do is wrong. Hysterical and impulsive in the face of adversity.
Well, anyways, we have this thing where we have to speak like royalty to our own family, except for out dad of course because apparently he doesn’t even count as a human to my mom. Anyways, she makes us say, “Yes, please” and “No, thank you” for every small thing.” And you have to say “I’m sorry” for every little thing, and you have to explain what you did wrong and why you won’t do it again. Hard to keep up all your life, I’ll be honest. And slip of the tongue, I said, “Oops” instead of the full-blown apology for something very trivial. And when she screamed, “WHAT DID YOU SAY?” I was confused, so I said, “Huh?”
And you can’t say “huh” or “what.” You have to say, “Can you please repeat that?” And I was confused, so I said a couple more stupid things.
Long story short, my mom was chopping vegetables with a knife, next thing you know, it’s flying through the air, I duck (thank goodness,” and straight into the wood in the ground. I didn’t cry then. Obviously, I cried later, but I wasn’t going to give her the current satisfaction. I still had to pick up the stupid knife. And my sister and I still point out the indent in the ground where it landed to this day. Hey, memorable moment. Let’s talk about all of the horrifying memories. I’m just kidding, let’s move on.
So, it’s just a bunch of small things that are like accumulating. Simple things, like when I’m practicing a song for the first time on the piano, and every time I hit a wrong not, my mom says “OOPS,” really loudly, as if I don’t know I made a mistake. And when my mom looks through every single paper in my binder. I am fourteen years old, I am a straight A student and have never gotten a B on a report card, and I’d like to think I’m responsible enough to keep up with my own work. And she’ll take things away from me that my friends give me, because she wants everything I have to be from her, but she has no right to touch what was never hers to begin with. It’s so annoying, and I could go on forever and ever, but let’s not dwell on what can’t be helped.
So let’s get to the point, isolation from dad, no privacy, no freedoms, physical and mental abuse, having everything you own invaded and looked through, could you really live like that? No, I couldn’t either. And you’re probably wondering how I can even have Wattpad and be typing all this up without my mom looking through every post and comment I make. Truth is, I wouldn’t be able to. And she doesn’t even know I have Wattpad or anything of my own, which I’ll get to later.
Point is, I was broken. Hurt. Enraged. I couldn’t let it go on like this. And I already feel robbed inside. Robbed of a proper childhood. With my dad. I mean, my dad literally gave me life, and he has no choice but to watch it slip from his eyes as my sister and I grow older, and time passes by. Time that should’ve been spent with him. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. And I get there are other situations, like with military parents and such, where children can’t see their parents. But it’s different to me. Because for us, the only thing standing between my dad and I? My mom. And it’s unbelievable to me how any mother can be so incredibly selfish and greedy that they can’t give the father a few hours each day with their children. And you have no idea the power my mom has over the household, including my dad. Well, then, you’d say divorce, right? Well, they can’t divorce, like I said, it’s complicated, but I’ll get to that later.
So I couldn’t just do nothing, right? Me being me, I obviously could not stand it, and I still can’t stand it. So it started in fourth grade, I think, and my dad would come in for like ten minutes or so after my mom put us to bed. Oh, and let’s just say this right now, my mom apparently thinks we’re babies and to this day, still makes us go to bed at like 7:30.
So at like 8:00 or so, my dad would come in, and we would talk, and then he’d leave. It’s pretty dark out, and we can’t turn on any lights or be too loud, because we’re scared my mom might come in. He would tell us the most brilliant stories. Most of them were when he was younger. And he would always be the hero of every story. He would always make the smartest wagers and outsmart everyone else in his stories. And he could make anything. He would show us these pictures of his contraptions he’d make that do the most brilliant things. I was blown away by his stories and his stunning intelligence. And be would tell us how he would hear our mom screaming at us from the garage, and we made up nicknames for her together. He knew our mom abused us and didn’t give us any freedoms, but I swear even he would not understand how we feel just by hearing the screaming. But it was nice to have someone on our side. I admired him more than anyone else. Secretly of course.
But then one night, we made too much noise. I’m firm on the fact that it was probably my sister’s high-pitched laughter, but our mom came charging out, and she was mad. My sister and I were terrified as we watched our dad and mom swearing each other out and screaming.
We had already promised our dad, so when our mom asked what had happened, we said we didn’t know what he was doing in there. So from that night on to this very night, our mom will put us to bed at like 7:30, get her computer, and sit on my sister’s bed for an hour. And that’s to guarantee we go to sleep, so we aren’t awake when our dad comes in. She’ll stay longer if she feels like it.
Obviously, I don’t go to sleep. I lay there on my back in the dark for a whole hour, not moving, pretending to be asleep. How can I sleep, when that would be me, giving up the only time I have with my dad? And I wait and wait and wait, and eventually my mom will leave, and my dad will come down. And as it is, we can’t see each other, and we’re whispering, but it’s better than nothing. And what makes it better is that our mom is completely clueless, and we finally have something to ourselves - because even my dad can’t have anything of his own without my mom snooping.
So my dad would come in, and it used to be for a little time, like 15 minutes, but it eventually grew to half an hour, and then an hour. And we were fine like that! Sometimes, there were a few close calls where we got too loud, but our mom is convinced that our dad comes in and stands there every night, while we’re sleeping. And she’ll ask us, but we’ll continue to deny.
And another one of my mom’s rules is that she doesn’t let us listen to music. She doesn’t give us any contact with the outside world to hear about celebrities or the news. Obviously I hear that from people at school.
But then our dad started bringing his phone down and would play music for us. Music was the most brilliant thing. The first song he played for us, I remember, was “Here Comes the Sun.” Our dad realized that society is evolving around technology, but our mom is holding us back and not letting us listen to our own music is something so simple that I noticed so many people take for granted.
So one day, our dad came in, and he gave each of us our own tablet. Mine was blue, my sister’s was black. My dad would come in for an hour each night. We’d talk for some, and then we could do whatever we wanted for the rest of the time. And we had never had this much freedom before. I remember asking him if he would look and trace back every little thing that we did, and he said, “Of course not!”
So earlier this year, and this is sort of sidetracking off of family, but at school, for fun, I would write stuff and give it to my friends. Obviously, I couldn’t bring them home because my mom would look at it all. And she is super strict that all my work is neat and tidy and that I get perfect scores on everything. And that I’m not doing anything I’m not supposed to. I remember bringing home a drawing I had done during class, and my mom was infuriated that I had been drawing during clads and threw it out. But anyways, I would give my writings to my friends, and they loved them. Most were random and didn’t really make much sense to me, but they loved them. And then they told me about Wattpad, so I downloaded it earlier this year. And so I have one hour of freedoms each night. One hour of each day to get on Wattpad, to listen to music, to watch videos, to do whatever I want. It’s not a lot, but I’m grateful for it. I wouldn’t give up anything for that time. So that’s why I don’t update that much on Wattpad or why I’m almost always on between 8:30 to 9:30. Because that’s the only time I have to do anything of my own, and yes, I’m spending my time right now, doing this for you guys. (Although sometimes I’ll get on Wattpad to read when my mom thinks I’m reading the online textbook. And no, it was not my decision to read the online textbook. I bet you have no idea whose decision that was.)
So my life starts at night when my mom thinks I’m sleeping. During the day, I’m trapped under her bondage, but at night, I’m free. After my dad comes in and leaves, my sister and I will stay up for hours just talking, making up our own stories, talking about everything we wouldn’t be able to talk about around our mom, which is you know, pretty much everything.
So that’s my little secret, it’s my lifeline. I need that time to unwind for the day. Other people spend hours on their phones and can spend all day doing whatever they want. I have one hour, that hour is at night, and it’s what keeps me going. My dad gives me everything worth living for.
Now let’s talk about my dad. He’s my hero, he’s the most amazing person I know, but obviously, I haven’t told you everything. So my dad is a really, really bad gambler, and he goes out to the casino a lot and will just blow a ton of money. He doesn’t drink or anything, but he is like addicted to gambling, and if it weren’t for my mom, he’d probably blow away all the money we have. Now, think about it though. My mom doesn’t work, only my dad does, so it is his money.
The thing is, I don’t care that my dad does that. I can forgive him for that. I can’t find it in myself yet to completely forgive my mom because for her, she’s forcing us to love her and forcing us to hate our dad. For me, that in itself makes me gag at my mom, and it’s almost instinct for me to like my dad more.
But to me, he is still me hero, and I don’t care what people say. He tells me stories of what he does that I can only dream of doing. And I know he gambles, but I don’t care. Anyone who says anything bad against people who gamble like he does or that they’re bad, like I know my mom would, makes me mad. For one, my dad isn’t anything like most gamblers, on the inside, anyways. And whenever I get into an argument with myself about everything, I want to scream at someone. At something. I want to scream all the things that make my dad special and completely different from other gamblers. How he doesn’t drink. How he can fix just about anything. How he can build just about anything. About Espy One, the telescope he built. About the Peg system of numbers, that no one else would understand. About so many things that make me grateful he is who he is. And how he is nowhere near like any other gamblers or bad people inside. And I want to scream this at my mom, that he is more capable at being a father than anyone else in the world. And you wouldn’t understand. Other people wouldn’t understand. When we go out, we’re just that poor family to be pitied because we can’t get along.
I cry sometimes for my dad because people don’t understand him, just like people don’t understand me.
But let me say that my dad does have his flaws - and they are simply awful. In public, like my mom, he’s a man of little words, he’s polite, we try to act normal. But when anything with my mom comes up, my dad’s temper just goes off, and it’s the most terrifying thing. He’s walked out of the house so many times - and you know how dangerous it is for a man to try and find peace outside of his own home. He’ll slam doors, he’s made holes in the walls, smashed computers, thrown things, (never a knife and never anything towards my sister and I) and he’ll swear and swear and swear. And my dad doesn’t ever do that about anybody else to anybody else around anybody else - it’s solely my mom.
And he’ll go to the casino to gamble, and he’ll come back smelling of smoke and alcohol, and he doesn’t drink or anything, but I mean, that’s what you get when you do that. When I turned twelve, my dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and we both knew he probably wouldn’t be able to get it for me. In my head, I wanted to ask him to stop going to the casino. It’s bad for him, and he knows it too. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Because I know it’s the one thing that makes him happy. The one thing he looks forward to in life besides the little time we get together at night. And it just wasn’t in me to ask him to get rid of the one thing that made him happy.
Most of the time, I know my dad gets mad because of my mom. They loathe each other’s mere existence. Yet, naturally, a lot of the fights become centered around my sister and I, and those are the worst. One in particular stands out to me, and it just happened last year.
It wasn’t about my sister - it was me. And more than anything, it was a misunderstanding, but as always, my mom thought I was naturally wrong and she was naturally right. My ear had been hurting me for the past few days, and my hearing wasn’t very good. My mom didn’t want to take me to the doctor.
So my sister and I are always the messengers between our mom and our dad because they haven’t honestly had a normal conversation in years.
So my mom asked me to tell my dad something, so I ran upstairs, but I accidentally left a small part off at the end because I honestly didn’t hear her say it. When I came back down, my mom gave me an evil glare, but I hadn’t known what I had done wrong, so I just sat back down at the table. Hysterical, like it was the end of the world, as always, my mom went ballistic. She went and yanked me by the hair, saying she wanted to “strangle me.”
And then she said, “You don’t get what you did wrong, did you?” I realised it had to have been something that I said, so I said, “Um, I said it wrong, and now you want to strangle me?”
My mom got even madder and yelled and me to go to the corner at the end of the hallway and to come out when I was ready to apologize. I went to the corner and stayed there. Because I wasn’t ready to apologise yet.
I stood there, hating myself. After like three minutes, she started screaming about how I couldn’t hear and how she hated having to repeat everything to get it through my thick skull. And how I couldn’t do anything right these days and how she couldn’t ever expect me to do anything properly.
The tears came, and I had been holding them back ever since she yanked my hair, but suddenly, she couldn’t see me, I was standing in the dark, staring at her venting at me. Tears fell down my face, and they weren’t because she was yelling at me, but because she made it seem like it was my fault and that I could help my imperfections. She wasn’t acknowledging the fact that I can’t help it that my ear wasn’t functioning properly, that I’m not functioning properly, that I’m doing everything I can to hear as much as I can, and that I could obviously hear those insults because she was yelling at the top of her lungs. And those insults did sting, like salt on a wound.
And then, like I said, my dad was upstairs, but obviously he heard my mom yelling because she was loud even to my deaf ears. I heard my dad open up his door and walk out onto the landing by the stairs and screamed almost as loud as my mom, “STOP F***ING YELLING AT HER, YOU F***ING B****. SHE’S F***ING DEAF AND CANT F***ING HEAR SO TAKE HER TO THE F***ING DOCTOR. YOU’RE MAD AT HER BECAUSE SHE’S DEAF, YET YOU’RE YELLING IN HER F***ING EAR. I CAN HEAR YOU ALL THE WAY UP THE F***ING STAIRS, AND SO CAN THE F***ING NEIGHBORS.”
Standing there in the dark, I felt so empty. The tears were pouring down my face, and I could not stop shaking. I was crying so damn hard, and I was breaking inside. I was gasping for breath, and my eyes were blurry from the tears. I wanted to curl into a ball and cry.
And after my dad went back to his room and slammed his door, I stared at my mom from the dark. Because my dad had said everything that had been screaming in my head since my mom first started tonight. I would never be able to say anything like what my dad said to my mom. Even though that was exactly what I was thinking, without the curse words of course. The scene still replays perfectly in my head, and every time I think about it, it makes me sick how clearly I can remember each word.
That night, I stared at the dark ceiling and I thought how long was this to go on? What was even worth it anymore? I put myself in the places of all those people in all the books I’ve read who run away from home. I cried harder that night than I did from earlier that night when my mom was right there. My sister was there, but it’s sort of like an unspoken rule - no matter what our mom makes us say to each other or makes us do, it stays behind us. We don’t talk about it, we don’t bring it up, and I’m grateful for that. I think my sister was a little surprised because she is always the one putting up an attitude and defying my mom. Normally, I just go along to get along. But my mom will never understand me. She didn’t think she did anything wrong, and she probably forgot about it right away. I never wanted anything bad for my mom, and I will never wish anything bad upon her. I do love her, I really do. Sometimes, though, I wish she’d understand me. Is it that so hard to ask?
So back to the topic on divorcing. Our situation is really complicated. My twin sister and I were born in Canada, but we moved after like two weeks. We hopped all around America for quite a bit, and it was actually quite an adventure, and finally my dad got a job here, so we settled here. We only intended to stay here until my sister and I started Kindergarten, but we ended up staying longer. My mom can’t legally work here, and my sister and I can’t legally work here. Only my dad can, so my dad makes all the money. It’s complicated, renewing our Visas is complicated, and we have gotten rejected so many times. And students at school tease us that we’re from Canada (personally, I couldn’t be prouder) mainly because the U.S. government thought it would be cool to call us “aliens.” Basically, an “alien” is a resident that is not a citizen.
If we divorce, we would have to move back up to Canada. My mom would have to get a job. But that’s not the problem. My sister and I would go with my mom. And that’s out of the question. We all know it, my dad knows it, and that would be way worse than the risks we are taking now. Anyways, now, it isn’t the safest, but there’s the excitement, that rebellious side of me. When we go to university, my dad and mom still won’t divorce because of complications, but they will definitely get away from each other. And it feels so far away, but it’s crazy to think university is in a little over four years. And maybe when I’m older - maybe - I might miss the thrill of excitement I get every time my dad comes down, and we talk, and I know my mom would kill us all if she knew what we were doing.
I can’t change my family, and I wouldn’t change them for the world. I missed out on a lot with my dad, but I mean, if anything, this has caused me to cherish the few moments I have gotten.
And I said earlier I have no regrets because these fourteen years of my life might have taught me more than I might ever learn about myself and where my values stand. And I don’t think any child nor parent should have to go through what my father, my sister, and I are going through.
So that’s my story. I got it out, and if you made it this far, then thank you for your time.
Stay strong, and stay you. Sometimes we’re given the choice between doing what’s right and doing what’s kind - don’t be afraid to choose kind.