New to the site? Here is Part One of the story: Divorce and Departure.
I found out as an adult (through an agency called “Take Root”) that what my mom did is professionally termed “parental abduction.” I wouldn’t have called it that, because I didn’t feel abducted. As time went on, I really didn’t remember my father, and my life with my mom was just… life. I was a kid, kind of a wimpy one when it came right down to it – you should have heard me scream bloody murder when I got my first honeybee sting! – but just a kid. I think I felt like a regular kid, but then again I didn’t know any other life.
There were definitely hard situations: like seeing myself on “Unsolved Mysteries” during dinner and knowing it was time to move again and that I couldn’t say goodbye to my friends; like being asked a question that I didn’t know how to answer because I knew I couldn’t tell the truth; like making myself write my new name a million times so it felt natural and so I didn’t accidentally write my last alias on a school paper; like being called to the counselor’s office at a new school for grief counseling that one time my story was that my dad had just died (I was embarrassed to say “divorce” at the Christian school, so I think that’s maybe why we came up with this story). Still, though, I took dance class, got sunburned at field day, had crushes on little boys, sang in the Christmas pageant, made the honor roll, rode my bike with the neighborhood kids, acted silly with other silly girls, enjoyed Coke floats, and the very best of all, I even met Jesus in kindergarten. I was just a kid, and an awfully blessed one. I just had to lie about my name and birthday, and a few other things here and there. It just always was, so it was normal.
We were gone, moving around a lot, for 8 years before our house got surrounded by a SWAT team, and my mom was extricated from my life in handcuffs. My entire life crashed down around me as my mom had to awkwardly hug me goodbye with her wrists in restraints – a sad embrace that had to last me for many years. We were removed in separate squad cars. I was twelve.
From my now-adult opinion, this extraction was handled very poorly and left me very scarred – mostly because the police lied to me, and I ended up unexpectedly facing my biggest fear all alone. It was the worst day of my life.