nineteen.

After my freshman year in college, I went back home to Cleveland for the summer. 

Living with my grandmother was tough on us both. Her raising an almost adult that’s had a taste of independence, but still living under her roof with her strict rules… It was a recipe for tension. I ended up just trying to keep busy; working back at the local grocery store again, as well as the place I did my senior project, at the local youth and family counseling center. Right after my mom died, a relative came to live with my grandmother and I to help out so that she had an extra hand with me. My family dynamic went from my sister, my mom, and I, to my grandmother and this relative, who at this point in my life, was the closest consistent dad figure I had at the time.

The beginning of the summer started off fun. I got to reconnect with my highschool buddies that I missed while being in college and we couldn’t wait to hook back up and catch up from over the year being apart. After a few weeks home, my grandmother ended up being called to go help my aunt who needed her to come stay at her house and watch her two kids for a couple of days, so she left me with our relative. That was cool. We were both working, both gone all day, came home around the same time, ate dinner and I chilled in my room for the most part. Of course my grandmother did daily checks to make sure I was home or doing what I was supposed to be doing. I still didn’t have a car at this point, but I had been used to the walks to and from work, and my friends were within walking distance or had cars, so it wasn’t a big deal for me.

One night, I remember hanging out in front of my house with three of my guy friends. We were just having innocent fun, laughing and talking. It was dark outside, but there was a streetlight in front of my house at the end of the driveway so we were hanging out under that, so that my relative could see I was still around the house. I had on a matching yellow Nautica “skort” outfit (the shorts that looked like a skirt), and tennis shoes (probably K-Swiss). One of the friends I was hanging out with ran track with me (the same guy that ran the track team to the grocery store), and we were discussing track, relay stances, hand positioning, etc. etc. All of a sudden I hear, “Crissy!” yelling from the screen door. I called back, “yeah?”

“Get your a— up here right now,” he yelled down the driveway. Me and my friends looked at each other like, what the heck? I was shocked, a little embarrassed, but was like, whatever. I went to the screen door, and my relative started fussing at me saying, “Whatever you’re doing down there, you need to stop because it’s not cute that you’re down there with a bunch of boys so you need to get your a— in here soon.” I just said OK and walked back down the driveway to my friends. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I knew he was inebriated, which wasn’t new, so I kinda didn’t think much into it at that moment. Back down the driveway, we chuckled about how mad he was for no reason, and continued our conversation.

Literally no more than five minutes later, he literally yells back down the driveway, “Crissy! Get your f—-ing a— in this house right now before I come down there and get you!” I was really shocked at this point and even more embarrassed. I told my friends, I would just call them later and headed back up to the porch. Before I could even finish my goodbye with my friends, my relative yelled in front of everyone, “You look like a f—-ing slut and a f—ing b—–h with that skirt on in front of all those boys, you need to get your ass in this f—ing house right now G–d dammit!”

Whoa. He was TRIPPING

I left my friends, again, in total embarrassment, and held in my tears until I got in the house. Once I got in the house, my sadness turned to anger. He was walking up the stairs to his room and I started angrily clarifying how first of all, what I had on was shorts. Then, I started crying and yelled, “YOU DON’T LOVE ME! you say you love me but then call me all those names and embarrass me in front of my friends!” As I was saying this, I was picking up a crate of items I was taking back to college with me at the end of the summer, and as I was picking it up, before I barely finished my sentence, he charged down the stairs rushing at me.

“God Dammit I do love you…” was what he started to say in a drunken slur as as he charged at me. I dropped the crate and ran to the other side of the room. I sat in a recliner chair that had a wooden TV tray stand in front of it with my purse, keys, phone, and some other items on it. He ran over to me, picked up the wooden tray, and swiped it across my face. He missed. Everything sitting on the tray flew every which way. My hands were up in front of my face in a defensive position and he grabbed my hands and shook me. I have no idea what he was saying at that point because I literally must have just zoned out in fear. I couldn’t believe what was happening because this had never happened before and it wasn’t like him to do this.

As he was grabbing me, I remember screaming, “get the f—- off me” over and over. All this happened in a matter of minutes because my friends hadn’t even left the driveway yet. They heard all the comotion and immediately ran to the door and started banging on the front door. “Ey man, leave her alone, we’re gonna call the police.” My relative would just yell back at them “Get away from the f—-ing door, this is none of your business.”

What was odd to me about this situation was that I could have pushed him away, got up, ran outside, and just left. 

But I didn’t. I was too scared to stay, but too scared to leave. It was the oddest thing. I look back on it like, why the heck didn’t I just run out the door? Im “grown”, I’ve been in college on my own all year, … why am I putting up with this?

My friends never left off my porch. Ironically, my neighbors that lived on the other half of the attached duplex were police officers, and they too made their way to the porch trying to talk him down and open the door. To this day I still wonder why the police weren’t actually called otherwise, but then maybe that’s why my relative quickly let up because he now heard the neighbors banging on the door and he knew they were cops. He eventually let up. This whole thing felt like forever, but probably only lasted minutes. He quietly walked upstairs and said nothing. I was crying. I couldn’t find my keys, phone, or purse that was thrown in the tussle, and I figured at this point I’d just try and find it in the morning. I went to the door, but didn’t open the screen or walk out, but let everyone know I was fine and that I would check in with them the next day. My neighbors talked to me a little more and told me that If I needed, I could stay with them or come over whenever I needed to.

The next day I got up early and called off both my jobs. I was so distraught, I didn’t feel like covering everything up with a smile that day. I still got dressed as if I was leaving for work, but I just walked down the street and waited for him to pull off. Once he left for work, I walked back home. I called my grandmother, and soon as she picked up I said, “do you know he was about to go to jail last night?” She was so confused. I told her what happened and told her that I was NOT going to be staying at the house with him by myself and that I was going to find another place to stay while she was gone. I told her I could stay next door at the neighbors house until she got home. She didn’t want me to stay nights over there (most likely because they had a 20 year old son that lived there and she was leery), but I could go over there after work as long as I came home at night to sleep. I told her OK.

What’s crazy about this situation, is that me and this relative NEVER spoke about this incident again. Not even to this day. He probably doesn’t even remember it honestly. I don’t even think he ever acknowledged that it happened nor apologized for it right after it happened either. I stayed away from him for a while as best as I could and didn’t talk to him for a long time, even though we lived together. I avoided him whenever I could, but that could only go on for so long, and slowly we ended up acting like it never happened. 

But it did. And I remember it very vividly. 

It’s crazy how people do things to other people, not even realizing the impact those actions have on that person. The situation has been forgiven, even without an apology or an acknowledgement from him, but, I will never forget how that burst of emotional, and barely physical, assault made me feel. To be called names like that by someone you love, someone who is supposed to be a protector of you, an example for you, a dad figure… It was a slap in the face. And then for this to have been yet another situation of a devastating heartbreak… and more abuse… 

It just ended up being one heck of a nineteenth year… 

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

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