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Twisting all the bad things into good

Oct 8, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 5: This House Has Fallen Apart





― Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke                        

            In the weeks preceding my " episode ", my mother had stopped taking my calls. She would later tell me that it was because it got to the point that every time she hung up the phone with me, she would cry. I guess it was a wonder that my parents spoke to me at all.

            In November of 1994, the Federal Trade Commission entered my father's office and shut it down. They froze all company assets. He lost 1.3 million dollars that day alone. Before the FTC and the cops who accompanied them allowed me and the other employees to leave, they took a picture of each person and made them leave their personal information. They also asked if anyone had a company car, which would also be seized. I heard one of the agents say that there was a red Mitsubishi out back that was in the company's name. It was my beloved 3000 GT. I spent every dollar I received for my high school graduation into the stereo I installed in it. I did not speak up regarding the car being mine. After I was allowed to leave the office, I walked outside and around the side of the office. The agent who was running the license plates on the cars had stepped inside the back door. I immediately sprinted towards my car, opened the door, jumped inside, and peeled out.This was one thing that would not be taken from me that day. It would be taken the next day. My father told me that they were very unhappy about what I did. The next day I had to turn it in. I took out my stereo and drove my car for the last time to my father's office, crying all the way.

            This was 2 days before I was supposed to go to Gainesville for Gator Growl. Almost all of my friend's from high school who had not gone away to college were going so we could party with our friend's who went to University of Florida. Since, without explanation, I was suddenly not able to go, a few rumors started to explain my absence. A few people had heard that I had tried cocaine recently, so they thought I must have either overdosed or else I had stayed in town to do some big drug deal.

            My father's attorney told him that with the charges he was facing from the FTC and the IRS, he was looking at 28 years in prison. If he ever got out, he would be almost 80 years old. I would be nearly 50, my sister her mid 40's. My baby brother would be in his 30's. With family always coming first in my father's life, this must have been an unbearable thought. He decided that he was going to leave the country. I was the only one who stayed behind.

             The night before they left, I went upstairs and my baby brother was playing in the tub. I sat down on the toilet seat next to the tub. Holding back tears, I told him that I loved him and that I would not see him for awhile. He asked me why, but being 4 years old, he wouldn't be able to understand even if I tried to explain. A few minutes after, I went over to my girlfriend's house, where I overslept. When I got home in the morning, my brother was already in his car seat and they were ready to leave. I said good bye to my brother and father in the garage. I went inside as my mother was about to leave the house. We were both in tears as we hugged each other. I said, "I'll be a good boy, mommy".  I probably had not called her "mommy" since I was 5 years old. After I heard the garage close, I went into my bathroom and cried until I started to vomit.

            I had gotten what I wanted.
            When my parents used to go to their condo in Hutchinson Island or take my brother to Disney World, I would sometimes think about how nice it would be to have the house to myself. This way I wouldn't have to stress out on Sunday mornings before they would return, as I did my best to get rid of any evidence of the partying that had taken place that weekend. I had no idea that years later I would lay in bed wishing I had never missed one weekend with my family just so I could stay home and drink, smoke pot, and try to get laid. The good times were not worth the regrets that,  no matter how great every other aspect of my life might be, would always keep me up at night.

Mother, I tried please believe me
I'm doing the best that I can
I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through
I'm ashamed of the person I am
Joy Division, Isolation
            Before my family left, I opened a safe deposit box under an assumed name. In the box was $200,000 in cash that I was responsible for. It was for family emergencies, to continue paying some of their bills, and for my mother in case something happened to my father. By the time my father would be arrested and later sentenced to 10 years in Federal Prison, I had spent all of the money. As a result of my selfishness, my mother and brother would have to move out of the house they were renting and move in with my uncle and his family, where they would stay for the next 10 years. My mother, who had never had to worry about anything but being a good wife and mother, had to start cleaning houses to support her and my brother.

           My father served 8 and a half years before being released to serve 3 years probation. He also moved in to my uncle's house at this time. He would begin working for minimum wage at the Christian book store owned by the church where my uncle is the Pastor.

            My father wrote me from prison at least twice a week. I still have every letter. After I wrote him to let him know the money was gone, I did not open one of his letters or answer one of his phone calls for the next 2 months. My parents did forgive me. My father said he didn't know what he should have expected a 19 year old kid to do in such a situation. Still, the damage was done. Though this topic is never spoken about, I would never forgive myself. Even if I had all the things that I used to think would make me happy, I would focus on regrets of the past that I could not change. I imagine that is what lead to my addiction to painkillers. They put me in a good mood, working in a way that I imagined antidepressants must. I kept thinking that once my father was released from prison, everything would be "perfect" again. Though I had never appreciated this "perfect" life when I had it for the first 19 years of my life, always finding one of the few things I lacked to focus on.

            By the time my father did get out of prison 3 years ago, I was a full blown addict. I had nothing to be happy about. I still felt responsible for the struggles that my family still had to endure as a result of my selfishness. This guilt is the reason that on Sunday, September 4th of 2010, things were about to go from bad to worse when I received a call telling me that my father was dead.

I suppose that the human mind can only stand so much grief and anguish.
After that, the fuses blow.
Fynn, Mister God, This Is Anna

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