Alyse Mercereau

A while ago, I found reason to ask my best friend a few questions about

why he would be friends with me. His first answer was sarcastic, but I dug down

and found what I hoped was the honest answer. He reminded me of all the times

in his life when he was disappointed in people, upset with himself, or just having a

bad day and I would listen. But it wasn’t just that I listened. He said terrible things

about people I may or may not have known, but in the end, no matter what that

person had done, I asked him to give them another chance. When he was upset

with himself, I told him that we both knew he could do better; all he had to do

was wait for the chance to prove it. When he had a bad day, I made sure to let him

vent before making him laugh. But this behavior didn’t just happen and I certainly

wasn’t raised in a place that accommodated it, but I learned through my mistakes

and the mistakes of others.

Five years ago, my parents sat my brothers and me down to dinner to

tell us that my dad had gotten an apartment and was moving. It was a strange

situation where none of us could bear my father because he was a mean person,

but when they announced he would be leaving, it was like my whole world came

crashing down. My brothers were no console. Both were graduating high school

the coming year and were doing everything

they could to keep their heads above water. Me? My world revolved around nothing

that I

completely understood. Suddenly, I hated my parents. I pestered my mom and

anyone I knew she confided in to learn why my dad was leaving so I could figure it

all out; when I was told what happened, I hated the both of them even more.

I had known from the time I was seven that my mom could hardly

stand my dad. I knew from personal experience that it was like walking on eggshells

when he was around, but I didn’t know that a year earlier, when he had gone

on his trip to Lake Mead, it was so my mom could cool down. My dad had had an

affair. Then, a few months later, my mom had caught him again, so, to spite him,

she found a man she could do the same with. Her only downfall was an emotional

attachment. She fell in love with him and confessed to my dad that she wanted

him out.

I didn’t listen or try to find help; instead, I held my own rebellion and

just barely made it to eighth grade graduation. I told my mom anything that I

knew would affect her. I gave her nasty looks and attitude if I paid attention to her

at all. My dad I simply ignored. I almost failed my first semester of my freshman

year of high school and I made friends with all of the wrong people. The friends

my brothers had left behind wanted nothing to do with me, and me nothing to

do with them; but at Christmas, I had a revelation. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy

holed up in my room while my mom baked cookies by herself and my brothers

played the video game I had wanted.

People say there aren’t any changes over night; no 180’s from bad to

good, but I beg to differ. The next day I actually called my dad, I volunteered to

help cook dinner, but I never voiced my apology. I still haven’t told my parents I

was sorry. I’m not. It was what I needed to change and become a bigger person. If

that meant chasing away my friends and family, then it was what I needed to do. A

lot of those friends came back, and my family is still there for me, but I’ve decided

I won’t be able to forget what they did to each other and the manner they did it in.

For as much as I hated being around my dad, I live with him now. I spend every

moment of time I can with my mom, but I’ve grown up; I’ve decided who I want

to be and it’s who I am.

What my friend told me was the best thing I’ve ever heard from anyone.

The epitome of who I wanted to be was shaped in that ten second explanation,

sandwiched in between a sarcastic joke and a nervous laugh, but it hit home. It

made me proud of myself and who I am. All that I feel is left for me to do is finish

growing up, start my career, raise my own kids, and hopefully to be everything I

haven’t achieved yet.