Biographical Non-Fiction posted November 22, 2019

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Book Intro - A teen's perspective on divorce and desertion

Redeeming One's Identity

by moonsunrise

I was sixteen years old when my father left our family stranded, sitting curbside for several hours, after a week long vacation at the beach in New Hampshire. He never returned to take us home. My Uncle had to drive my aunt and cousins home then drive back for us. My mother remained silent and numb until my uncle returned. We couldn't understand why dad wouldn't come but looking back he had only spent a few days with us. He had expressed that he had to leave to visit a sick aunt in Maine.

Three days after returning home dad came home to inform us that he was leaving our mother. He gathered all his belongings and left. I can still remember my Bryan and I (he was 18 months younger than I) running next door to our neighbor, Mary's home, hysterically crying while watching dad drive away. I was 16 and Bryan almost 15. We loved our dad very much but my brother was even closer to him as he would spend a lot of time with him at his work place. My brother was devastated! The emotional pain we both experienced was beyond belief. My younger brother was 9 and my younger sister, 6.

Our lives were now changed forever!

In addition to feeling despondent and numb from the shock of it all I also had to become the matriarchal figure of the family as my mother was a beautician (in my grandmother's beauty salon) and had to work 6 days a week. I can still hear the echos of her tears which continued for months on end. To make matters even worse she did not receive child support.

My grandmother helped supporting us emotionally and financially. An otherwise happy household became a very empty and sad one, especially for my brother. I kept as positive as I could be for everyone especially my two younger siblings.

Everyday was a new challenge. I remember one day my headmaster called class for me to be sent to his office. He had received reports of my crying quite often during and between classes. He was very strict but a very fair and caring priest. He helped me through this very rough time. He assured me that I was not to blame for my dad's leaving but even so the emotional pain continued. I wore the mask of deceptive happiness whenever in school and at home until I would retreat to my room, shut the door, start crying and feel so dead inside. My heart broke for my mother, my brother and especially for my little sister and brother.

"Why? Why" I kept asking myself. Why didn't I see it coming? My parents never argued.

Watching my mother work so hard while trying to bring up four children was extremely difficult for a teen to bear. I tried my best to take pressure off of her. Looking back, I think the fact that I had very loving aunts, uncles, cousins and friends really contributed to easing some of this agony. I smiled a lot and was often referred to as the happy go lucky, free spirited freshmen. My moto - fake it until I make it!
I was the great pretender.

To make matters even worse my brother (18 months younger than me) turned to drugs and alcohol to kill the pain of my father's desertion. He adored our dad and learned much from him about car repairs as my dad was a mechanic.

Holidays had become somewhat lonelier without my father being present but family and faith gave us fleeting moments of joy. I thank God to this day for the love and support we received from my grandmother and aunt who lived downstairs from us and also my aunt and uncle who resided with my cousins upstairs.

My Godmother and Godfather often took me to their home on weekends so I could be with my cousins and to experience some normalcy in my life. I loved going there except for when we had to say the rosary on the radio each day at 5pm. Oh! Did we ever hate that!
Looking back I believe this was a good thing as my faith was also my saving grace.

A few months passed and my fearful premonition came to fruition; my brother was incarcerated for breaking and entering to support his drug habit. He had dropped out of school and had lost all incentive to do or be anything. I prayed for him daily and tried desperately to help him. Reflectively, I believe that my past experiences have offered me the discernment and empathy to assist others who are hurting, just like I had been.

Right after high school, I married my brother's best friend who lived across the street from us. We were known as the Barbie and Ken with dark hair. After twelve years of marriage and his drinking bouts he decided that he had to leave me and our two children. His reason was "If I stay I will destroy all of you". My heart bled because he had already destroyed us by deciding to leave. I was set up for a counseling session by one of the priests at my church. Three months into the session my psychologist professed "Alleluia" after I finally shed a valley of tears. She was afraid that if I had stayed with my ex I would have had a nervous breakdown. I blamed myself for everything. The sessions helped me work through my emptiness and emotional pain.

I couldn't sleep much for months and it was extremely difficult going to work in a very stressful medical position. A doctor I knew recommended that I buy Luciano Pavarotti's album "Live at Lincoln Center" which I did purchase. It helped me to sleep somewhat because I couldn't understand the words but could relate and feel the emotions, for example "Una Furtive Lagrima".

At the suggestion of a good friend I began to attend Al Anon meetings for two years and went to a few AA meetings per my psychologist's recommendation to help me understand the disease of alcoholism. I met some very wonderful, caring people who were going through similar experiences. I was given a sponsor who stayed very close to me. She was a very insightful person. Her friendship helped me to regain my self esteem and confidence.

To be continued

Share Your Story contest entry


Having never written a memoir I found this contest to be a great challenge. Where does one start? I chose to start with one of my worst life experiences, my dad's desertion from the family followed by my ex husband's desertion. This was a very hard write for me. I hope to write a small book to help others who have been through what I have been through and more.
Thank you Renate-Bertodi for the image which portrays so much of the emotions I went through for such a long time.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Renate-Bertodi at

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