Imagine “going out for a pack of cigarettes” and never coming back. It’s the fear, fantasy, and last resort for people who just can’t cope with life at home. Of course, there sometimes valid reasons a person has to leave. These Redditors were sometimes the “leavers.” Other times, they were the ones left behind. Some were escaping violence and torment; others simply wanted something (or someone) new. Don’t forget about these harrowing tales from people who left their lives behind.
1. My Dad the Biohazard
My girlfriend’s father did this in America and went back to his home village in Vietnam to be the alcoholic that he is. My girlfriend is a very peaceful Buddhist person who hates no one and is always full of joy. She says that she will be responsible for the cremation of her father because if his body is placed in the ground it will poison the trees.
2. Queen of Tantrums Gets Dethroned
I was living with a very mean and controlling girlfriend. If it wasn’t her way or all about her, she threw a fit. One day I had enough and said I was going to the store and just kept driving. I literally drove for 12 hours and showed up at a friend’s house five states away and asked if I could crash on his couch. I called my boss and said I wanted to quit work. He was pretty cool about it, he knew my girlfriend, and actually set me up with a job in my new city. I have never spoken to my ex since.
Soon after my relocation, I met my (now) wife and I could not be in a better relationship. Best thing I ever did.
3. Checking Out of Responsibilities Too Soon
I was left. My dad and my mom had a fight, my dad left…then he killed himself. On one hand, I have no memories of him (I was too young). And I am very sympathetic to mental illness, and suicidal ideation. I have had bouts of serious depression in my life. On the other hand, his absence, the lack-of-dad, left a huge gaping hole in my life.
The strangest part is when I turned the age he was when he killed himself. I’m 36, and I’m older than my dad ever was. And I still feel young, like I have many years ahead of me. I wish I had had the opportunity to know him. Everything I know about him is someone else’s memory. Thanks for giving me space to share this.
4. It’s Hard to Be the Start Home
My grandmother did. Just left her husband and three kids, the eldest in elementary school. My grandfather made it through. He worked at my great-grandfathers’ business and went on to own it. He also remarried a few years later. About 25ish years after she left, she contacts my dad wanting to meet her grandkids (my older brother and me) and reconnect. I was around two, my brother five-ish. My brother called her. This was upsetting to her and she left.
15 years pass and once again, she wants to be in our life. This time we go to her. I was excited to meet her, as my grandfather’s wife hated her step-kids, and thus her step-grandkids. So, my teenage self set up a false reality. One big happy family. Reality was, she had a whole different family she was happy with. A granddaughter whom she loved dearly and made quilts with.
She called me the wrong name the whole time we were there, even when corrected. She had a cute house with family pictures all over—none of us of course. It’s like she forgot all about her other three kids. She’s just some lady to me. I only know her first name honestly. And I know that I never want to be like her. It’s been about 10 years since we last saw her.
My dad…he hides it. His life growing up was not great as a result. He’s angry about it but pretends not to be. But my dad has always been there for me. He’s honestly sometimes too much there for me.
5. I’ve Made a Huge Mistake
My dad actually pulled this one. When I caught up with him in the late 80s he said he went to CA to try and find his first wife and their kids. He was sick of my mother and the East Coast so off he went.
6. Who’s Your Daddy (Not Me)
My cousin went for a walk once. He was dating this woman who just an awful human being. She got pregnant, swore it was his, and once the kid was born the state went after him for child support, as he wasn’t on the birth certificate, even though they were living together. Anyways, the paternity test came back showing it wasn’t his, and she flipped her lid. Just lost it.
He asked her to calm down and said he wanted to take a walk to cool off. He left everything he owned, minus the clothes on his back and his wallet, and went for a walk that he never came from. A few years back, the kid found him. He was 16 or 17 and went on some giant rant about him being a bum and a punk ass and whatever other nonsense.
My cousin told him he wasn’t his dad, the paternity test showed that, and he had no idea why she told him he was the father and abandoned them. Kid left a whole helluva a lot more confused than he showed up, I think.
7. Heart Over Home
I left my home like this. One night, I just packed the essentials into my backpack, walked to a train station and got on a train to Newport News, VA from Pasco, WA. No one knew I was gone until three o’clock the next morning. It was to be with a girl my family was totally, 100% against. That was a year ago, it’s all working perfectly.
I am happier now than I ever have been before.
8. Mother Doesn’t Always Know Best
Mom cornered me in the bathroom after chasing me around the house, told me to punch her when I tried to leave, punched me instead. I said I’d call the cops, she said she’d do the same as she’s done with my ex-stepdad—tell em I punched her, and it’d be her word vs. mine. Next morning, got into a broken Ford that was still on her name even though it was mine, went to get the oil changed, asked the guy how long he thinks the car could make it, and he said I’d be lucky to make it a block (wouldn’t go into reverse, among other things). All the same, I thought, I’m only going forward. Three days later, I drove from CA to MD and spent about five years without contact.
Reconnected, foolishly thinking people change. People don’t change. Last I heard from her, she wanted me to sign over my apartment in Russia so she could sell it and give me the money. I told her I’d happily sign it over, but she didn’t need to pretend she’d give me a dime. Like one of the top commenters here, I’ve also been working since the age of 12, albeit for much less than $8/hour when I started (paper route).
Only reconnected because I have sisters but the brainwashing she’s done against me is done. Both sisters suicidal, one is pregnant at age of 18, failing grades, neither will take me up on my offers to help (I make $50+/hour tutoring strangers…sigh), I’m the pariah who left and traveled the world. But I’m a loser because, well…
9. Focus on the Parents Who Care
Didn’t leave my wife and kids as I don’t have any, but I did walk out on my mother and siblings without any notice. Dad was not in the picture. After? Best decision of my life. My mother refuses treatment for her very serious mental illness or illnesses and was incredibly abusive physically as well as neglectful while I was growing up.
I saw the effect it had. Burnout older siblings with no motive or drive instead embraced the crazy just to feel sane in the toxic family home we lived in. I was homeless for about a year and a half living out of a duffel and bumming food from friends. I feel like my life hadn’t even started until I left it behind. I feel like it held me back for 17 years and I now am finally being able to find out who I am.
Mom never came looking for me. I reconnected with my estranged father, whom I learned was in the military from the moment he was 18 until he was HD at 43. He has severe PTSD from his three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s now getting his Masters in outdoors leadership, which I believe is a perfect way to use his massive skill set.
I don’t see him much if ever but at least I know some blood is still thicker than water.
10. When Her Knight in Shining Armor Becomes a Prince of Nightmares
I was a toddler. Two or so. After 9/11, my mother moved us up to Vermont with her boyfriend who, for what it is worth, is now in federal prison for the first-degree murder of another girlfriend. As that indicates, he wasn’t a good guy. He wouldn’t let me drink water unless I’d eaten a full meal, and I was two, so my mother had to serve fruit with every meal so I’d have moisture. I only got to drink water while he was at work.
On days he didn’t work, she and I would go out and explore as much as we could. We took to cleaning up old overgrown graveyards, since it was interesting and fun and, most importantly, time-consuming. But he was very controlling and didn’t want us to leave. She didn’t have a car, so we had to walk everywhere. Being from NC and with no ability to purchase a train ticket because he controlled all her finances and she didn’t have a phone; she was forced to use a pay phone to contact my grandparents to fly up and come rescue us and fly us back.
They even had to tune it with his work schedule to make sure he wasn’t there when they came because she thought he might try to hurt me if he saw them come to take us.
11. Musical Bedrooms
I was ten years old when my mom and dad split up. We had been expecting it, but I didn’t know that my mom had packed up suitcases for herself, my sister, and I. One day we went to school like everything was normal and went to my mom’s parents after school. It wasn’t unusual for us to have dinner there. But then mom sat us down and told us we’d be staying there for a while.
Ended up being six years before we got our own place. I never got to go back to my bedroom again. My dad got remarried and his wife’s daughter moved in and repainted my room. When I had to visit them, I slept on the couch while she slept in my room.
12. Deal With the Crop Yourself
My mom is abusive, and I had no spine, so I told her I was going to move in with my dad for the summer. I said I would be back before the end of August. After I moved in with my dad, I got my state ID (my mom didn’t want me to have any kind of ID), and I finally got my drivers permit a few weeks later. I felt bad for lying at the time, but now l know that if I didn’t lie to her, I would have never gotten out of there.
I would be stuck living on a crummy little hobby farm with a woman who did everything in her power to tear me down and hurt me.
13. A Mother’s Love…Can’t Always Win Against Prejudice
My paternal grandmother (white) left her two kids (mixed) while they were at school because her new beau didn’t want black kids. After a couple days of living on their own, they were found by their aunt and ultimately taken care of. Grandmother left the state, had new children and never came back. She has since gotten in touch with one son who forgave her, and one refuses to talk to her (my dad). I found her on 23 and Me and she wants to meet me, but I don’t think I want a person like that in my life.
But hey she is old and healthy so genetic good news 🙂
14. Maybe He Won’t Notice This Staycation
When I was 16 years old, I moved out without telling my stepdad, but my mom was in on it. I just moved in with my grandparents. I left on a Friday. Got all my stuff out of there in just two trips. I was told he didn’t even notice I was gone the first weekend. He was pretty mad once he figured it out, but it was all mostly a non-event.
Everything turned out okay for me. It will have been 21 years, this September.
15. My Long Career as a Deadbeat
My real dad ghosted like four families. His first family, he had a son. He was in that family for 13 years; his son had a motorcycle wreck and ended up in intensive care. A year later, he ghosted that family and moved to a new state. Just up and left; he didn’t take anything but his clothes and his car. Second family, he had a daughter. He left almost immediately.
Then he moved to another state, and married another woman, and had two more kids whom I’ve never met or spoken to. Don’t even know their names, to be honest. Jake? John? Jordan? Josh? Something with a J. He went out for a pack of smokes and never went back (his own words). Then he met my mom and had my sister first.
He ghosted my mom 3.2 years later, then showed up for some quick whoopie, and I happened. He ghosted her, but he didn’t leave the state. She called the cops and my first memory is of the cops bringing my dad to the house in cuffs and letting him go, only for him to attack my mom while she was holding me, and she dropped me. Then the cops arrested him. He wanted out, he got out.
He had two more marriages, but no kids. It’s his MO to shack up with well-off women and mooch until they either kick him out or he gets bored. It’s really freaking painful to see, because I want to be a butt-wiping dad who’s there for his kids every freaking second of their lives. I want to be the exact opposite of him.
16. I’m In-Between Parents Right Now
When I was 18, I moved away from my abusive father. I was commuting to college at the time and I had morning classes so the night before I packed my car with as much of my stuff as I could and set off. One of my professors that I regularly talk to after class noticed that my car was full of clothes and asked if everything was okay. Over lunch, I explained my situation, and he offered to take me in. I had already made arrangements to live with my mother.
After my classes for the day were over, I went home for the first time since I was a child to live with my mother. I slept on the couch for months before getting my own bed, and we didn’t always have the money to eat, but we made it work. I have seen my father one time since then because he swore to me that he had changed, that night he proceeded to get wasted and tried to put his hands on me.
I haven’t seen him since, and I have no regrets.
17. Actions Speak Louder Than Words, So You Get None
I hadn’t started a family of my own yet, but I was engaged to my ex who I just ended up “ghosting” after a few years. It was several years ago, and he had to move back to Tokyo for his job (we met in the US while he was an expat) so he asked me to come live with him. Moved, met the family, all that stuff. Then, one day I came down with the flu and was miserable and so weak I couldn’t even walk myself to the toilet.
He was trying to come on to me several times that day and I kept refusing because of obvious reasons. Then I was in the middle of sleeping and he started to take off my clothes and have sex with me while I was sleeping after already refusing it to him. I woke up and was like WTF and made him stop. Then I pretended to be asleep til he left for work the next morning, packed my stuff, and left.
Dropped the key off at concierge and hurried out of that building in a huge panic. Never spoke to him again. Cut off all contact immediately. I booked hotels for a couple of weeks and met my (now) husband.
18. Missing Out on the Real Party (His Family)*
I moved out when I was 15. I was living with my mom, sister, and older brother. It was my older brother’s house. His house was unlivable. The water was orange, there were fleas and ticks everywhere, and, because of his 11 cats (cats that kept reproducing because they were never spayed/neutered), there were PILES of cat poop against the walls.
On top of that, my mom was a textbook narcissist. Always going out and partying, passing out drunk, smoking pot and snorting coke, the works. She went to Myrtle Beach for a week. I mentioned it to my best friend, who invited me to stay at her place until my mom came back. Halfway through the week, her mom invited me to live with them. I said yes and stayed there until I left for the Navy two and a half years later.
I still talk to my parents sometimes, but it’s an estranged relationship at best. I’m almost 23 and happily married (which I didn’t even tell my family about until a year after), so I suppose it all worked out in the end.
19. Every Craigslist Posting Has a Story
I did this. My parents are A-grade jerks and at the age of 16, I overheard my mother telling my sister I was being kicked out soon. So, I took matters into my own hands, packed my stuff and left at 2 am. They didn’t notice for a couple of days. I put an ad in the local paper for “free stuff” which was every bit of furniture I left there. They rang my other sister (who I moved in with) and were so mad.
Not that I had left, more that I had given all “their” stuff away. Fast forward 20 years, and I still don’t have a relationship with my parents. They call me once or twice a year to ask for money, though the answer is always a firm “Heck no!” I heard around town that they were “upset” I just vanished in the middle of the night.
They had to keep up their public image!
20. Smoke on This
When I was 16, my relationship with my mother hit rock bottom. We had never gotten along really at all, and my pending “Possession of Marijuana” charge definitely didn’t help it (illegal in my southern state, Christian family). At this time, due to some financial problems we were having, we were living with a different family who also saw me and what I do as pure sin.
One night I overheard the upstairs family talking to my parents (yes that’s what we called them, we lived in their basement for goodness sake) and they were giving my parents absolute hell about me. Calling me a drug dealer, saying how unwelcome I am in their home, and at one point I even heard the wife call me a crack head.
I decided that this was going to be the first time I ever actually acted on my own whim. I packed up my things while I pretended to be asleep, and I left the next day when everyone went to work. I moved in with my grandparents and I’ve never gone back. My mother and I still talk; my stepfather wants nothing to do with me, and I don’t intend on speaking to the “Upstairs Family” again.
21. Both of Us Are Getting a Chance of Custody
My mother went to get a pack and dinner. She got pulled over. From what I understand, she kept moving her purse around and the cop searched it. She had coke and weed in it. I knew she smoked weed, but no clue she did coke. Ended up moving in with my father (divorced, an ugly one). While I was initially upset, I realized it was probably the best thing to happen to me.
Moving in with my father allowed me to do so many different things, and I’m almost positive that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gone to college, and started out a great career in IT. I really haven’t talked to her since then.
22. The High Price of Loyalty
I did, and most days I don’t regret it. My parents divorced when I was young, and I never really had any contact with my father. My mother was emotionally abusive growing up and never failed to say I was overweight or a failure. My stepfather was always super strict, and we simply never got along. The summer after I graduated from high school my stepfather lost his job.
This caused my mother to go into a downward spiral causing her to starve herself and constantly scream at the people around here. My stepdad always came up with reasons to not be home, and they almost divorced over it. My mother took $800 from my own paychecks “to help pay the bills” without my permission. After she did that, I finally had enough.
As soon as I got a new job where I knew I could afford to live on my own I got the hell out within a couple of days. I moved all of my own stuff out their house and never looked back. It probably drove my mother off the edge, but I don’t regret doing it at all. Fast forward to now, they ended up moving to a new state and I don’t talk to any of them. The whole situation has caused my brothers and sister to not want to talk to me, but I understand.
I still struggle terribly, having anxiety attacks and spouts of depression often. It’s hard not having any family to talk too when things get rough, but I would never have it any other way.
23. Don’t Call Me Back
I had to. He was abusive and would play mind games. I planned it out for weeks and seized the little chances I got. I slowly started moving my things out. One time, he noticed it looking kind of bare and I played it off like my stuff was too cluttered and I wanted a more open space. He went on a “work trip” for two days and I vanished.
Needless to say, he was not pleased when he realized I was gone. I was hiding out with my dad and he would show up and call all hours of the day and night. My parents more or less told him to go to hell.
24. Behind Closed Doors, Your Kids Have an Exit Strategy
Not my story, but a few years ago my ex-friend messaged me in hysterics. Apparently, they took her oldest out for dinner for his 18th birthday the night before, and she said everything was great. The day she called me, he turned 18. They (her and her husband; his stepdad) woke up to find the son was gone. He had packed up all of his stuff in the middle of the night and just left.
No note, no call, nothing. He moved in with his dad I guess and hasn’t spoken to them since. It’s been three years. Come to find out she and her husband are terribly abusive to their kids. They don’t know this, but her second oldest son turns 18 this year and he too plans on moving out that day and never speaking to them again. Seriously they are terrible parents.
The oldest kid is doing amazing now!
25. Not Good Enough to Be Featured
I didn’t actually do it, but my ex-boyfriend did. We had been dating for three years by the time I got pregnant. We broke up early into my pregnancy, but we remained civil with each other. We were young; I lived with my parents and he lived with his dad and three brothers. Never seen his mother; he told me she left him and his brothers behind when he was about five and moved to another state.
One day, he came to me and told me he had been talking to his mom. He was happy about it, and I was happy for him. Time went on, and eventually, he told me that his mother paid for a round trip ticket for him and his brothers to go and visit her. Long story short, he left and never came back. Our son is three years old and he has never met him, never spoken to him, and never told his family about him either. He used to ask me about him here and there, but that eventually stopped too.
His entire plan was to leave me pregnant and alone, without telling his family about this, he sort of brushed my child under the rug. He has had another baby since and is completely involved in her life.
26. Mother of All Bystanders
Parents divorced when I was very young. Dealt with abusive stepdad week-on, week-off basis. I fought back a few times when I started getting older, but he was easily 300lbs. At 15, I decided it was his last time. He tackled me and went to get on top and strangle me (his thing for some reason). I hit him, busted his nose. He fell off me.
I got up and broke a dining room chair over his back, threw him down the stairs and left. Never went back to my mom’s house after that night. Screw her, she let it happen. She knew about it. My dad took them to court several times before this event. “Wasn’t enough evidence.”
27. Some Time Apart Is Healthy
I struggled with an enormous amount of guilt for “leaving my siblings behind” for many years. Truth was, they had other family to rely on and everything turned out a-ok for them…at least in regards to dealing with our mother. Some other sad stuff happened, unrelated. After I left, our mother became a slightly better human being to my siblings and never abused them the way she did me.
Other than that, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. It was the BEST decision I’ve made to this day. I’d still go through every single struggle of leaving home at 15.
28. Not Enough Room in the House for Both of Us
When I was 10, my dad was having a serious affair with a lady from another city. When I say serious, I mean he was really in love with her. My mom had gotten over his other adventures and tried keeping her family together, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back or, how we say it in Mexico, the drop that overflowed the glass.
My dad would take this lady to our home and make my mom cater to her and her family (she was married too). Of course, at this time my mom didn’t know about what was going on but one day the lady called my mom and told her he was with him and she says you could hear my dad on the background telling her to hang up the phone.
The day before we left, it was my uncle’s wedding from my dad’s side. I don’t know what happened, but next day my dad was still super drunk from the party and my mom picked us up from school and got us in a three-day trip to her family in Los Angeles. We got to see my dad again after a few months, he tried to make my mom come back with us, but he was still seeing this other person.
I love both of them equally, but my dad was a jerk, to be honest. The lady was one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known. She’s now in a wheelchair from a problem in her back; my poor dad is no longer with her or with anyone, living alone in the home that was once ours, always asking about my mom and telling us to come back.
I’m living with my mom in LA at the moment.
29. I’m Doggone Done With It
So far, things are good since I left. My second wife and I grew apart, and she developed some really serious problems mentally and started treating me really badly verbally. My dad died last year, and I had to go across the country to handle his estate. While I was gone, two of my dogs died. She wasn’t taking care of them, I went across country again to see my daughter and son-in-law, and my wife let one of my other dogs die by the time I got back.
Then she told me if I’m going to spend 30 days at a time, I should just stay. So, I grabbed the one dog I had left and left. I’m doing pretty good and the dog is fine. I was unhappy before that but I’m not going put up with that. I just got a ride and left.
30. Turn Left at The Next Stop and Park
The worst I ever heard was via a long-time internet friend (maybe a decade, before we lost touch). We’d voice chat in a small group. Her dad went out for a drink and never returned. He was a hardcore alcoholic, and the family had assumed he had ditched them. There had been a lot of tensions and abuse. Someone found him in his car about 12 years later, within a couple miles of the family home (in the woods). He’d been sipping on whiskey and had a heart attack. He had died the night he disappeared.
Needless to say, this messed up his three daughters greatly.
31. Some Things You Don’t Want to Remember
My mom had my older brother (around one at the time) in her car and got a flat in 100-degree Texas heat. Her father drove past and saw her. After he changed the tire, he said he was going to the store. He was on his way out of the family. She didn’t see him again til I was 16, which was around 26 years. He was found naked and collapsed by a dumpster with severe Alzheimer’s. My mom was the closest family. She proceeded to take care of him to this day. He has no memory of why he did it or anything. Faintly remembers her being his daughter.
Super sad, and it has caused my mom a lot of heartache. She is stronger than me though and continues to pay for a home for him.
32. Practice Makes Perfect…for Whom?
When I was in my late teens, I was snooping in my parents’ room and found a couple of pictures of my father with a young girl who I found out was my half-sister. When I confronted my mother, she told me that my father had been married previously and had a daughter. Apparently, he had married quite young and was always off with the boys, at the bar or hunting and fishing.
One weekend she threatened him, told him that if he went away for the weekend he didn’t need to bother coming back. He didn’t, and never saw her or his daughter again. My father died unexpectedly, and my half-sister attended his funeral, we never spoke as she hung back and I didn’t know she was there until a few days later.
I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like for her to see us so obviously loved and well-taken care of when she had been discarded so easily.
33. Gambled On Myself and Lost
Got in a fight with my dad when I was 17, roughly a year after I moved in with him. Honestly, it was mostly me being a stupid teenager. He made me quit my job, and I couldn’t really do anything anymore. Not to mention any interaction with him or his wife was extremely painful and awkward. I ended up selling most of my more expensive possessions aside from my favorite instrument and bought a plane ticket (well, two—needed one for my instrument) to a different state to get a job at a company a friend worked at.
I did this the day after my 18th birthday. The company got bought out right before I was officially hired, and the new people didn’t want to hire me. So, I kind of got stuck there for a while with a crummy part-time job. It worked out in the end though.
34. Quitting While You’re Caught in the Act
Not exactly the same but when I was 12, my mom found receipts for bedsheets and furnishings among my dad’s laundry. My dad is a coward and a narcissist. Turns out he had gotten an apartment for himself without telling her until she called him out on it. He got upset when she questioned him about it (he’s never wrong, see) and told her he wanted a divorce.
He always said she was too paranoid that he was cheating on her, up until the time she found out he had a bachelor pad…and then his line was her questioning made him want to leave her. Then, he did it again with his second wife (with whom he had another child)…so he could chase a girl who was 30 years younger than him.
35. My Five-Year Plan (to Get Out)
When I found out that a woman that I had slept with was pregnant, I left town. Literally picked up, packed up moved. It haunted me every day. Five years later, she tracked me down via Facebook. Today, I have a decent relationship with my son. He will never forgive me. Neither will I.
36. Not Every Father Can Be a Winner
I went to go live with my father (who I had never met before) to restart my life and reconnect with him. After he got drunk and threatened to murder me, I left in the middle of the night while he was passed out from all the alcohol he consumed. I haven’t looked back since.
37. Love The Ones You’re With (The Ones Who Love You)
My dad came to pick me up from college after freshman year and I told him I was a lesbian. He didn’t want to believe it, said I “wasn’t that way” and thought I’d come to my senses. I helped support my family as well; my Dad didn’t work at all. Me and my siblings carried the family. He was also very controlling and would tell me what classes I was allowed to take and where I could go. I was extremely depressed and suicidal.
I knew I couldn’t keep going like that. So, when he didn’t accept me as a lesbian, I told him I wasn’t going home. I stayed with a friend for a couple weeks before a summer RA job opened up providing me with free housing. I got a job waiting tables and ate there. A couple of my friends brought me groceries a few times. I was 18 years old.
Long story short, I kept working and putting myself through college, although it was very difficult financially and it took a long time to graduate. Eventually, I did graduate and kept working my way up in jobs. Finally, I got hired at a startup and kept getting better jobs (slowly). I am now a product manager and the breadwinner for my wife and daughter.
I’m 34 now. My dad passed away two months ago. Leaving was the best thing that ever happened to me.
38. Young Enough to Have Had Enough
I grew up in a very abusive, strict home. My stepfather beat both my sisters and then when they left, I was next. Anyways, one night he made me walk home from the mall because he wouldn’t give me a ride. I called and asked around five and he said you better have your ass home at five. I walked the eight miles and was pretty wiped out when I was coming up the driveway. We had a big front window and I saw him sitting in his chair drinking whiskey waiting for me.
When I walked in, he said something, and I replied you won’t do trash. The next thing I knew, he had me pinned to the wall and punched me in the face until I was knocked out. When I woke up, I remember feeling the blood from my nose, and my mother was standing there and told me I was a disgrace to go clean my face off.
I went upstairs and grabbed a hat and walked out and never went back. I was 14 years old at the time.
39. Passing on the Torch of Custody
My dad died when I was pretty young. My mom eventually remarried to a pretty cool guy when I was young. He was honestly an amazing dad, and when my mom got sick when I was 12, he was absolutely incredible—taking care of everyone, and reaffirming that I was his son. When my mum died, it was just me and him for a few years—and there were some amazing times.
He made sure I was seeing a counselor, and we did family things on the weekend. My friends used to joke that he wasn’t even my biological dad and he still made more time for me and did more things for me than their bio dads did. When I was 15, he got remarried. I didn’t exactly like my new stepmom, but I didn’t hate her. I think I just thought that the relationship wouldn’t last, and he’d move on to someone better.
Then they got married, and it was kinda weird. I did get an amazing baby brother from that—not all bad. My dad died when I was 17. Literally taken out by an undiagnosed severe allergy. My stepmom got me from school and drove me to the hospital, and when my dad passed away, she handed me my baby brother and said she needed a minute by herself. I never saw her again.
She was much younger than my dad, and was an ex-foster kid with no family or best friends to support her—and I think she looked at her newborn baby and the kid her dead husband inherited and just couldn’t handle it. I sure know I wasn’t prepared to handle it, but my mom and my (biological) dad had been ex-foster care kids and mom told me a few messed up stories, so I wasn’t going to let that happen to me or my brother.
I do sometimes feel a little resentful that I can’t have the normal life. I’m working too much, and I have a six-year-old to figure out. I consider college but I don’t want my family to just be cycles of poverty and dead-end jobs. Stepmom will probably be charged with abandonment when she can be located, but so far we haven’t heard anything.
I’ve always been worried that she had a mental health break and either killed herself (I used to call up locally and ask for Jane Does that fit her—hey, coping mechanisms amirite?) or just completely snapped. Abandonment didn’t really fit what I knew of her—and I remember that she had some kind of mental health problems. It’s not like we talked about it though. She could have gone off her meds in the chaos and snapped.
I’m more worried than angry, but my first concern will always be for my favorite little tyke.
40. We the North
When I was five, my dad came home from work, and my mom informed him out, completely of the blue, that she wanted an immediate divorce (I found out many years later she’d had an affair and was pregnant). He moved out of the house (they had three little kids together; I was the oldest), and she married her second husband (twice; they weren’t divorced the first time). He was paying child support as he was supposed to, but she was calling him at work and sending him letters at home (his sister kept them), asking for more, and he began to get complaints about it from his bosses.
He asked his mother what he should do; she advised him to tell my mom he was giving her all he could, and all he was ordered to, and that he was going to lose his job if she kept it up. And, that if she didn’t stop, he’d leave the state, and she’d never hear from him again. She thought that would make my mom wise up and leave him alone.
So, he did, but she continued. So, he asked his mother for advice again. Her advice was to follow through. And so, he did. He packed his clothes into his car and headed for Canada. He got as far as two states north from where he began, liked a little town he came across, and got a job there. I never forgot him. I was the only one of the three of us kids that had any memories of him.
When I was 16 and moved away from my extremely abusive home (in every way), I called my aunt, whose name I knew, who happened to live in the town I was also then living in and told her I wanted to meet him. Coincidentally, he happened to be visiting her. I met him, my aunt, my grandfather, and my grandmother while he was there.
It turned out to be the only time I would ever meet my grandfather; he died two years later. But I will never, ever forget it. He wrapped me up in a big, strong bearhug; told me how beautiful I was; how much he loved me, and how much he’d ALWAYS loved me, and how very, very happy he was to see me again after all these years. I cried then, and I’m crying again now, writing it down. I can still feel the love and caring in his arms.
I wasn’t ready to get to know my dad at 16 though; I realize now that I just wanted to “see” him. It took me another 10 years before I contacted him again. But I did; when I was living in California. And when I did, he took two weeks’ vacation (so did I), drove down to see me, and we spent the entire two weeks getting to know one another. And once he left, we were in contact daily. And I quit my job and moved up to the PNW a month later, because I knew the hole in my heart would never be filled until my dad was a part of my life. And I was correct.
My son has a grandpa because of my decision, and my dad is the greatest grandpa there is. I wish he’d have always been in my life, but the outcome I received is worth everything I’ve been through. I love you, Dad. <3
41. Down in the Dumps
I have never left, but my brother has. One morning, two years ago, I woke up with a killer hangover. Rolled over in bed, checked my phone and saw several missed calls and a couple of voice mails from my mother and sister, along with a text message from my dad, “Call me.” The first voicemail was from my sister, sobbing through the phone, she said (for the sake of the story, let’s call my brother Tom) “Tom just tried to commit suicide…he wrote us all letter and…and…just call me please.”
Whoa. This can’t be real. Then my mom’s voicemail. “Tom attempted suicide last night, we haven’t been able to reach him, but we suspect he might be heading your way. If you see him, call the police, we need to make sure he is safe.” Oh shoot. This is definitely real. We all somewhat suspected depression from him, but this was unexpected.
Anyways, I got out of bed and put some clothes on. I open the blinds and peek out the window to see, as if on queue, Tom’s crummy old ’96 four-door. He was flustered, barely spoke to me but told me he was leaving for California. Refusing to turn him into the police, I bought him lunch, filled up his gas tank and then I gave him all of the $26 dollars I had on me and wished him the best of luck. He was back home within two weeks, remorseful and embarrassed.
I’m glad he’s back.
42. When the Temp Job Becomes a Permanent Hire
For us, it was that he went out for milk. Dad told me, as the eldest surviving kid, that I was “the man of the house” until he got back, so it was my obligation to help/defend/take care of them for him until he came back. He never came back.
43. Can’t Put a Price on Education
On September 14th, 1986, my dad dropped me off at boarding school and gave me a five-dollar bill. I never heard from him again. He never paid my tuition bill. So, from the age of 14, I took every job I could get and worked my way through. At $4 an hour, I didn’t even come close to paying off my entire bill, but the school let me stick around because I was a model student in and out of the classroom.
We get to graduation. I opened my little diploma thing expecting to see a bill in five figures. Instead there was a note: “Congratulations on your graduation. A group of us who believe in you and love you have taken care of your bill. We are proud to present you with your diploma.” I later found out that one of my friend’s dad, a fairly well-off dentist, went fundraising among his golf buddies because he didn’t want to see me enter life at 18 under crushing debt.
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