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The day I chose to change my life
The day you decide to change your life, that day you need him to hold your hand and walk you through the patterns. You need him to guide your step, to help when you trip, to trust you and to protect you. What you don’t need is for him to shade you from possibilities, to save you from risking it all and possibly find more bliss in that. You don’t need him to tell you what to do and when to do it. You need a companion, not a dictator.
“I don’t understand why you want this so bad!” He yelled. His arms wavered above his head in a gesture of frustration.
“Because it’s the only way for me to be happy. Why can’t you get that Matt?” My voice started to crack a little bit as I tried to sound persuasive, at the same shade his feelings from getting hurt. But, I could noticeably find it in his expressions.
“You know I can’t let you do this Jane.” He grabbed the suitcase from my hand and rolled it behind him. I let him; I needed to deal with this gently.
“Can’t or won’t?” He gritted his teeth.
“You’re my little sister, I can’t let you make mistakes that I know you won’t benefit from.”
I rolled my lips in and looked at dad, who stood quietly, as though unable to take sides. With one stride I was standing next to him, gripping at his drooping shoulders.
“I need you to support me on this one dad. I need to do this.” He looked at me with wide eyes.
We all ended up sitting down at the kitchen table. Tension started to build around the bounds and no one said a word. It gave me time to trace back my steps to the day it all changed.
I was seventeen, dumped by my boyfriend and found out I was pregnant. Dad suffered a major demotion at his office and Matt was under pressure to work and study at the same time. He had to live with us, even though his other college mates had moved out to become independent. My brother’s resilience was always admirable to me, but that gave him the idea that he could choose my life for me.
The night I told them the “news” was the night I slept outside. I was let in eventually but the atmosphere had changed completely. My ex enjoyed a good beating from Matt and both ended up almost killing each other. Matt and I never spoke to each other properly ever since. I was now eighteen, done with school with good grades. I was also six months pregnant.
My family thought I should wait a year or two till I applied for a university. I thought they were right at first, but ever since Matt said the harshest sentence to me I had ever heard him utter, I could see no other alternative. “I have enough burdens in my life to deal with… now I have to find room for one more.”
He thought my baby was going to be a burden on him. He thought I was a burden on him. How could Matt say this? I never uttered a word about any of my feelings and decided what had to be decided, I was going to move in with my godmother, Kate, and get into a good college. Matt couldn’t understand anything I wanted to do. He wanted me to live by his rules, under his roof. I couldn’t. I was going to stand up on my own feet. Hopefully my body would cope and not be destroyed in the process; I know my faith would never.
“I am going Matt.” I said finally. He shot me a contemplative stare. “You have no say in this.”
“I have no say in this?” He repeated almost choking on his words. “You are my little sister; I have a right over you.”
“I’m old enough to make my own choices.”
“Jane, don’t do this.” Said Dad brushing my hand gently.
“I have to. I’m going to be a mother soon. I want to make myself independent enough to support my child, financially and emotionally. I can’t do that under any shadows.”
“Is that what you think? We’re shadows? God Jane! We love you and your baby!” yelled Matt standing up, his hands jammed into fists pressing against the table.
“I know you do. But you are a shadow… I can never make any decisions on my own here! Thank you for taking care of me but I need to take care of me myself now.”
The bell rang and Dad got the door. Kate had come to take me. I went to her and she let me bury my face in her.
“Think of me as your mother sweetie.” She whispered.
Mom died three years ago. Kate was her best friend, her greatest confidant. She loaded my stuff into her car. All the while Matt and Dad just stared at us without movement. They were mad… and something told me hurt as well. But, I wasn’t going back now.
As Kate and I got into the car I saw Matt go inside. I was sorry for doing this but I had to. That was the last day I had any contact with them for five years. My baby girl grew up without any blood relations apart from her mother in her life. I saw her treat life with respect. She would never take anything for granted and I loved that about her. I went to law school and became a lawyer. We both lived in our own little world with Kate as our elder. Before I knew it Kate too left us. And that was then that I decided that my child had to learn about her real family. But it was too late. Dad too had passed away and Matt refused to even see us.
The day I decided to take charge of my life was the day I was cut off from my family, I was made to rely on no more than one person to help me with the problems I faced. I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise for the life of me. Now, at least my baby girl will be able to grow up in an environment that would help her to grow up into a person better than her mom. The day I chose to change my life, I felt re born.
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
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