When I was 18, my mother remarried. She chose the brother of her ex-husband. No, not the brother of my father; the brother of her other ex-husband, my former step-father. You remember? The one with the pregnant girlfriend? Oh, yeah, they had a girl!
We moved in with my new step-father over the summer break. He had a tiny little house with only 2 bedrooms. His stuff plus our stuff equalled a big honking mess of clutter and annoyance. My sister and I were used to sharing a room, so sharing one at his place wasn’t a lot different. Except that the room was even smaller than the one at the duplex in Jonesboro. There was barely enough room between our beds to maneuver one smallish girl. The new place was in the southern part of Atlanta. Very very near what used to be the Lakewood Fairgrounds. It had recently been converted to an Amphitheatre where concerts and stuff happened. A very bad neighborhood. We had burgler bars on the windows and a homemade alarm system on the doors. I can remember at least three times the house was broken into and twice that cars in the driveway were.
My new step-father was also divorced. He had once been married to a different one of my mother’s sisters. They were married for a little over a year I think. She had small children. He hated children and never wanted any. Why they married, I will never understand. But then again, he married my mother and she had kids too. I was 18 and my sister was 14, so maybe he hoped we’d grow up and go away soon. Didn’t quite work out as well as he had planned I guess.
He was very religious, too. We had been brought up Southern Baptist, but in a neglectful way. We went to church sporadicly and not terribly often. But this new husband insisted on church attendance three times a week minimum. His church of choice turned out to be Pentecostal. It was, enlightening. These people took fire and brimstone to a whole new level. There was shouting and sweating and crying. There was praying out loud and some dancing and fainting. There was speaking in tongues and damning everyone not in our church to hell. It was very not boring. I actually got into the learning part of it though. And the emotionality. Pentecostal church is very emotional.
I continued to go to Jonesboro Senior High for my senior year. I drove everyday. On the expressway. It was far and it was scary. But, I did not want to go to Fulton High School around the corner under any circumstances. I also drove my sister to the Junior High in Jonesboro. We gave my aunt’s address as our home one and it allowed us to stay in the district. This was a different aunt, one I don’t think I have mentioned before, but still one of my mother’s sisters. She was the twin of my step-mother aunt. One day, I have to try and make a post that explains these relations better…
The relationship with the new step-father never grew into a real one. The unease and distrust stayed. He wasn’t crazy about us and we weren’t crazy about him. He was harsh and judgemental and didn’t like sharing his new wife. We were cynical and bitchy and didn’t like sharing our mother.
While we lived here, my mother hit me for the last time. It was a difficult situation. The last time my mother hit me, I was 18. It was Christmas. My step-mother had bought me some clothes and I made the mistake of telling her they were the wrong size in earshot of my mother. She got really offended that I would be so ungrateful and she slapped me a couple times and was yelling at me. I tried to get away from her by going outside, but she followed me onto the carport and hit me a lot more for running away. She used her open flat hand and her fists some. She pulled me back by my hair when I tried to get away. Finally, I turned on her. I grabbed her by the front of her clothes and pushed her away and yelled a lot at her to not hit me anymore, ever. I broke the necklace she was wearing. She finally left me alone and I went in the house and basically had a breakdown. I was crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. I sounded like a little kid, how they shudder and sob at the same time and their breath is all hitchy and panicky sounding. I recovered, but it was very traumatic for me. She didn’t ever actually hit me again. But she didn’t forgive me for a very long time.
The summer after I graduated high school, my mother decided to sit me down for a lecture. She had determined that I was too promiscuous. She had it in her mind that I was sleeping around. At the time of the conversation, I had been with a total of 5 boys. Over a full 2 year time period. And, i was between relationshipos and not sleeping with anyone at that time. She chose to have this confrontation with me using my step-father as her suport and they did it in front of two boys I was friends with. Two boys I had dated briefly and never ever had sex with. It was a terrible talk. It was humiliating and embarrassing and wrong. She said a lot of things that weren’t true. She made a lot of vest generalizations and assumptions that were false. She crossed a line for me that day. I packed my stuff and moved to my father’s house, voluntarily, within a few days.