What Have You Done?

Note: This post is more serious than my usual way of doing things. If you were looking for something lighthearted, do not read any further. This is going to get personal.


When I was sixteen, I acted out in the worst way possible. I don’t really remember much of the day, except that it was either October or November, and it was freaking cold. I remember getting in a huge argument with our mom, and that she told us to move in with our dad, if we were so upset with where we were.

(The thing is, Mom said this a lot to Brianna, because she was the one always getting into trouble. She threatened sending Bri to dad pretty often, but my sister would just storm off to her room and then silently curse out our mother. Both have hard heads and short tempers, so they got into fights with each other all the time. It wasn’t out of the norm for us, it was just annoying.)

But this time, it was different. Brianna and I were so mad at our mom for not letting us hang out with our friends, that we moved ourselves right into Oma’s house (our grandma that lived seven minutes away from my best friend, Jeanette). The walk from my mother’s to Oma’s house was somewhere in between ten and fifteen minutes, so we went upstairs to our rooms, grabbed whatever clothes and random items that we could, threw them into bags, and left. That day still haunts me, because I ruined the relationship that I had with her.

We didn’t talk for a long while after that. Brianna and I avoided going to her house when she was home for some time. We would go and get more of our things after school, but that was it. We left a lot of our stuff behind.

Brianna didn’t break my mom’s heart as much as I did, and I knew it. They had a rocky relationship for a long time, possibly even before Bri came out, but my mother and I had a good relationship. Before my parents separated, she was always full of energy, and loved to do a lot of stuff that I enjoyed: shopping, wrapping Christmas gifts, baking, cuddling, jamming out in the car. Our relationship wasn’t shallow, but I don’t remember much else. My childhood is very blurry, despite all the drugs I’ve never taken. After my mom and dad called it quits, my role as child shifted, and I became more like her confidant. She would tell me everything about anything, and we became super close during that dark time in our lives. We were all readjusting ourselves, and my mom needed someone to talk to. I am pretty sure that’s what made me so interested in psychology at first: the co-dependency that my mother seemed to need.

I honestly don’t even remember my logic for leaving; my only memories of that day include the last part of our fight, running outside to retaliate, and leaving. The rest resides in a part of my brain that just will not surface. I remember getting to my dad’s house, and I remember the emotions and the aftermath of that choice I made. It was the most impulsive thing I’ve ever done to this day, and to prove a point, I stuck to it. My biggest regret is making my mom feel the way that I did five years ago, lost and alone. I can’t apologize for leaving, but I would for making her feel like she failed as a mom for so long.

Previous to my leaving the house on Duke, my dad and I spoke about it multiple times before then. I figured that I would save my mom some money and food without me in her house, and I could just move in with my Dad and Oma. There wasn’t a lot of space in my Mom’s house, and I would have personal space in the other house, just a few blocks away. In my head, it sounded like a great idea. Although I seldom follow through my ideas, this one I did. No one ever understood why I did it, and my spontaneous reasons are even unknown to myself, but the planned ones from before then helped me cope with my own emotions. But my leaving my mom broke her in a way that my father never did.

Caitlyn and Heinrich were only about ten and eight around this time. I don’t remember how they felt about this whole ordeal, but I remember feeling bad about leaving them behind as much as I did about leaving my mom. Since they were so little when our parents separated, I felt like I had some sort of duty to them to keep things in check. We all needed some type of constant—and I felt like I was theirs. I couldn’t help but want to protect and shield them from the ugliness, but even I know that I can’t do that much (if any) longer. I have to deal with the fact that I cannot control anything other than myself, and hope for the best.

For a long time, our mother shut me and Brianna out, and Brianna sure as hell reciprocated. After thinking things through, I tried to reach out to her—but only because I felt horrible for what I did to her. It took some time before she would hear me out, but I finally got to apologize to her at one of my baby brother’s football games. Saying “I’m sorry” and talking it out didn’t change much in the moment, even though I did feel better getting it off my chest. My mom needed her time, and so did I. I think talking to her helped the healing process a little bit. At least for me.

I did apologize for what I did to her emotionally, but I wasn’t going to do so for physically leaving. I felt better being in my grandma’s house. My dad gave me the freedom I felt like I needed. I didn’t take advantage of it; it didn’t make me rebel or a bad kid. I just liked having time with my friends. I loved my family, but I wanted to be around people that made me happy and feel more lively. I needed the optimism around me; I needed to feel like a kid. I certainly wasn’t that in my mother’s house, or my grandma’s. I was a stranger to my mom, and a ghost elsewhere. I didn’t feel like my family really saw me, but my friends did. They knew me past my grades and my quiet demeanor. I was two different people in the two different atmospheres, but something about it felt like this was the way it was supposed to be.

The support from my best friends at the time helped me, too. Nowadays, my mother and I are on generally good terms. We don’t talk very often, but not because of what I did. I am currently just trying to concentrate on work and sleep and paying off bills until I can go back to college. I always have a lot going on in my head, and I think about what she is doing often, but we’re definitely not like how we used to be. I don’t think we ever will be.

I do come around for birthdays and holidays, and sometimes I go over her house for dinner on Wednesdays. Wednesdays used to be the days we’d go to her mom’s house when she was still alive. Nanny loved seeing us on Wednesdays, and I loved it more than most things. I do try to go to my mom’s every once in a while, even though I lately find myself getting out of work too late, and she’s always at Heinrich’s baseball practices and games. And baseball is an every day kind of thing.

The most outrageous thing I’ve ever done—and my biggest regret—will probably always be that I broke my mother’s heart. It has been about five and a half years since the damage was done, and I am still working on stitching it up. It’s a pretty big project, but I can’t help but hope that she is holding the fabric together for me. Me and my mother are on a long road to recovery, one that I’m sure has many incoming obstacles. I would just like to have the opportunity to get to the end.


Prompt: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done?

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