Published in Scholarship Winner on August 26, 2022.
Scholarship Contest Essay
Living with a parent who falls down, climbs back up, only to trip and stumble back into drugs and unsavory choices weighed on me earlier than it should’ve. I learned valuable lessons from my father’s mistakes, but still suffered getting caught in the crossfire. I taught myself to set boundaries and how to handle disappointment in stride.
I distinctly remember that when my dad first started to spiral, my importance decreased in comparison to the other things around him; money, friends I’d never met before, nicotine, the list goes on. It dug deeper than briars and brambles. I was all my dad had left after my mom divorced him, but I was shoved aside for things he never prioritized over me in the past. He started a job with Lyft, and he left me alone in his apartment until two or three in the morning because the rates were better at night. All I wanted was to spend time with my dad, but he’d fall asleep during the day since he worked at night. I lied to myself for months. Trying to excuse his actions or not let it bother me so much. When he cancelled plans to take a nap for the umpteenth time, eventually the disappointment stopped coming. Acceptance slid into its former place. I no longer feel the overwhelming emotions when things don’t work out, just a mild wistfulness towards what could have been before moving on.
No kid should have to present an ultimatum to their father. The driving and showing up late to everything to pick up a few more rides “on the way” stung enough, but when the strangers began residing in the apartment I used to hide while my dad was out driving, it crossed a line. I still don’t know who those women were with their cigarette smell and their demand for everything my dad owned while they “looked” for a new apartment. They weren’t looking, they only wanted to take advantage of the situation my dad was in. Me or them, I told him. He chose them. My dad made a lot of poor choices, I can’t say I was surprised when I heard he was in county jail a year later.
I don’t know when he fell back into the use of methamphetamine, I don’t know when he stopped transporting people and started transporting firearms in exchange for his next fix, I don’t know when his “motorcycle buddy” became a manipulative monster that coerced him into some massive scheme that. All I know is driving three hours to attend his court hearing. The ringing in my ears as the prosecution presents their statements, informing me of this whole mess. Calling my dad a pawn who was used for this person’s benefit. Spilling tears to the judge as I spoke and most likely being the reason his sentence changed from between 2-40 years to parole. I love my dad, he’s a good person, but I never want to repeat his mistakes.