Every Rose Has Its Thorn

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sometimes you never know someone until it's too late.

Submitted: December 27, 2011

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Submitted: December 27, 2011

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Most girls have encountered a person or two in their life that they felt an instant attraction to, regardless of names, in some cases. Maybe he’s the new intern with the cute smile, or maybe he’s the guy that had the courage to ask you to dance at the club. He becomes the guy you can hold a seven hour late night telephone conversation with and still have your mind begging for more. Conversations progress and soon you’re dating the man that in your eyes is perfect because he’s fed you everything you’ve been anxiously waiting to hear. What happens when you discover new characteristics that he failed to mention? We’ve all heard the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover”, but how many of us actually incorporate that into our everyday lives? Bringing a man into my life based upon face value was one of the most regretful decisions I have ever made.

This story begins as any other fairytale would. We met when I was 18, he was 19, sparks flew and next thing I know I’m head over heels for this guy I had only known through work for a few months. We'll call him Andrew. He’s exactly 302 days older than me. He has the typical military haircut and his blonde hair has a glimmer of red when the sun’s rays are beaming down. His body is an evenly distributed 180 lbs. All of which is covered with both light and dark shades of freckles. His pacific blue eyes are stern, yet inviting. With an active temper and high blood pressure, it’s fairly easy to tell when he is upset by the light shade of red covering his skin. When this happens, it’s like I can envision looking into his eyes and seeing past just the color. I can see a whirlpool of anger painted in deep shades of aqua swirling around dying to be unleashed. He describes himself as a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’, a saying he picked up from his father, the lesser of two evils that created him. On the outside, he portrays a man who has a secure grasp on what he wants in life. On the inside, he is a very deeply emotionally disturbed young man who is merely trying to impress his parents by his “grown up” decisions, decisions in which they forcefully suggested to him.

Despite obvious flaws, I chose to engage in a relationship with this man. I was ecstatic when I discovered I was 3 weeks pregnant.Andrew however, responded differently than one would imagine.He already had a child from a previous relationship, as did I; both of which were from our high school sweethearts. My daughter and his son are only 6 months apart and played well together. His parents were devastated by his early actions, but aggressively helped him along the way of learning to become a good father. In fear of being shamed on by his parents again for having another child out of wedlock at such a young age, his first threat arose. First, he tried persuading me to consider abortion. I refused. He then made it very clear to me that absolutely no one was to know that I was pregnant if I chose to keep the child, otherwise he would leave me. Fearing the future of my unborn child and assuming his attitude would blow over, I reluctantly agreed. This was one of many examples of abuse that I was unaware of at the time. I successfully hid my pregnancy until my third trimester. Doing this was rather difficult and promoted the foundation for emotional and psychological abuse. I felt that my hormones were elevated during the period of hiding because I wasn’t receiving the support that I felt I needed and deserved. Once both his family and mine discovered I was pregnant, the verbal abuse started.Andrew would ask me things like, “How could you be so stupid?”, “You did this on purpose didn’t you? You’re trying to turn my parents against me by telling them that I told you not to tell!” He instructed me on how to respond to questions from his parents and any of our family members. I was to lie and say that we didn’t find out until I was roughly five or six months pregnant.

I was seven months pregnant when we discovered there was an abnormality. Extensive ultrasounds showed that the child would be born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate. I did not know what any of that meant until the doctor spoke with us regarding the situation.Andrew was familiar with it becausehis sonwas born with a cleft lip, but not a cleft palate. Hearing that his second child would also be born with a cleft,he began blaming himself for being responsible for it. As we were leaving the hospital after the ultrasound,Andrew literally fell and broke down in the parking lot, sobbing uncontrollably. He said things like, “I am incapable of having a child that’s not messed up”, and “I don’t want to have kids if all I do is ruin their lives – and I can’t stop it.” These statements made me feel emotionally unstable because of the fear and negativity he had. I had already begun thinking positively knowing I’d love him exactly how he was. I was very anxious and nervous because I didn’t quite understand what it would look like and because of the surgeries they said he’d endure. I just told myself that it had to be done for him to eat normally and had already begun accepting the fact.Andrew's resentment was blatantly obvious with his words and he seemed remorseful that the child would eventually be born. This was one of the many insecurities I never consideredhim having.

When informing the families that our child would be born with a cleft, the blame game began. My family has no history of clefts at all. Andrew’s did, agreat uncle if I remember correctly and Andrew's son. My family assumed it was Andrew’s genes. Andrew’s family had a different explanation. Because I had lied and told them that we were unaware of the pregnancy until I was five or six months along, I was to blame for the cleft due to improper prenatal care. It was at this time I also learned that this was not the first timeAndrew had made a girlfriend hide her pregnancy. Apparently, he had done the same thing tohis son'smother and she too was blamed for their child’s cleft. This entire situation strained each of our relationships with the other’s family. My family was beginning to seeAndrew as a forcefully chronic liar. Andrew’s family began seeing me as one who refused to accept responsibility for my own actions. These interpretations lasted and became more brutal with each passing year as our relationship diminished.

Difficulties inAndrew and I’s relationship became more strenuous in several ways over the next year. Our son was born in January 2007. In mid-February,Andrew received a phone call informing him that he would soon be ordered to deploy with his unit to Iraq in May. I had never paid much attention to the military commitment he had one weekend a month until he called to tell me the news, after calling his mother first, of course. I wrestled with the thought of raisingthe childrenon my own, one of which that is constantly undergoing surgeries. I felt devastated in learning that he would be gone for a whole year. He had become my mind, thoughts, and words to the extent of saying I was no longer my own individual self. He controlled every aspect of my life and I did not know how to function without him. I was too naïve to realize that this would be my shot at regaining my own life.

Instead, I fell under the careful watch of his parents while he was overseas. I moved in with his family at the promise of help with the children and living expenses. What I received was vastly different though. His mother believed that if a child was crying, you were doing something wrong or simply nothing at all. She took it upon herself to dictate to me how to care for my children. His family was one who administered ‘tough love’, something I was unfamiliar with growing up. I was told on numerous occasions that if I ‘couldn’t get the baby to stop crying, then I shouldn’t be a mother’, by Andrew’s mother, Susan. Because I was a heavy sleeper and she, a light one, if I did not wake to the beginning whimpers of my sonawaking, I would receive a short, angry lecture. She would yell my name from the top of the stairs similar to that in Cinderella. Her strong, demanding voice would pierce my soul. I opened the bedroom door to show acknowledgement and then cradledthe kidsin my arms covering and pressing their ears against my chest, crying. She would often yell things such as, “If you can’t wake up to your own baby then you should’ve never spread your legs!”, “How can you just lay there sleeping while your child starves?!” In my defense, never once did I awake to a full blown crying fit. I usually awoke in the ‘lightly crying’ stage, which to Susan was not acceptable. Living with Andrew’s family was treacherous and Susan’s mood swings werebound to cause whiplash. I was never able to build up the courage to disagree or voice my opinion with her face to face, in fear of the verbal lashing that would surely come. It was at this time when I realized whereAndrew had learned to be manipulative, controlling and abusive. Susan had never hit or thrown anything at me, but I witnessed some of what she did to Andrew’s siblings. If they hadn’t cleaned up after playing video games and she was in one of her ‘moods’, something was bound to be broken or at least launched at either of them or the wall. I had seen her launch a sippy cup atAndrew and punch him in the nose before because he had lied about making his car payment. That was enough evidence for me to know not to share my opinion around her in fear of saying something she disagreed with.

Because I hated the person I was when I was living in their household, I would find various different reasons to stay away from the home. I would visit family members, take the children to the park for hours, run irrelevant errands etc. Returning from Kohl’s one evening, I received the first of many interrogations. It began as I was walking through the door. “Where have you been? It’s irresponsible to keep young children out late shopping.” I looked at Susan and then glanced at the clock. 7:09 PM. I dare not open my mouth and giveher the satisfaction of an argument. Instead, I simply responded, “I was at Kohl’s.” holding the large grey bag up that she was very familiar with herself. Next, “Oh what’d you get?” she continued. Feeling violated, I responded nonchalantly, “Just a few outfits for the kids and me.” “Don’t you feel selfish buying things for yourself when you have two children to take care of?” she muttered, as if I were denying my children food because I wanted to spend the money on a new pair of jeans. All I could do was glare at her. I was stunned at the amount of audacity one person could have in such a short conversation.

After about a month of these ‘living conditions’, I toldAndrew that I was looking for an apartment because I couldn’t handle living with his family.He became defensive and told his parents what I had said. The very next day his father called me. I was on my lunch break, in the drive-thru line at KFC when my cell phone rang. Full of fear and anxiety, I pressed ‘Accept’. It was the shortest phone call one of his parents had ever had with me. His father, John, cut me off at the word ‘Hello?’ by sternly stating that if I “Could not appreciate their generosity in allowing me to live with them and guide me whileAndrew was away” then I “was no longer welcome in their home. Effective immediately.” In the background I could hear Susan yelling things to say to me. She was yelling things like, “We have been nothing but nice to her and she lies and says that we’re rude and mean to her?!”John continued in saying, “I spoke withAndrew and because we never approved in the relationship in the first place, I’ve decided to update my will. IfAndrew EVER marries you, he can kiss his two hundred thousand dollar inheritance goodbye.” I tried to fathom what I had specifically done to make him say that when I was interrupted with an angry, “Do you understand?” I smiled and said, “Yup, I sure do! Thank you!” with as much alacrity as humanly possible, and hung up the phone. By this time, I had pulled away from the drive-thru window and parked in an empty space by the street. I was in shock and didn’t fully understand how to react. On one hand, my mind fought with sadness and anger because of how I received the news and how they were kicking me, my daughter and their grandson out on the streets. On the other, I was experiencing relief, excitement and a new sense of freedom. I no longer had to figure out how to tell his family that I was moving out, I would get my life back and I wouldn’t have anyone telling me how terrible of a mother I was to my children.

As the minutes past, I began analyzing every detail of how I was going to successfully survive. I analyzed everything from how to retrieve my belongings, to coming up with successful ideas for acquiring and saving money. The idea of struggling through the situation was not an option for me. Once my way out was discovered, I held onto it as if it were my childhood blankie. I never let the idea go or let it out of my sight. I had become angered at the entire situation and grew an overwhelming sense of self assured tenacity which led me to success. I would not go down without a fight and I would never give Andrew’s family the satisfaction of destroying me, my life, or the lives of my children. It had become war and I burned my white flag as soon as that had become apparent. In order to sustain the lifestyle I had become accustomed to, I picked up a second full time job. With help from family and friends, I had established a circle of dependable, reliable people I could trust. Everyone pulled together to help my living situation, baby sitting needs, even transportation for my children if I were at work. It was even to the extent of assisting me with taking the children for their annual shots, etc. I sacrificed time with my children for over a year to maintain a new apartment and new bills. In the end, it was all well worth it. I no longer felt like a piece of shit. I had earned the life that I fought for. I was no longer judged in every aspect of my life by non-discerning, forceful, angry people who claimed they “only want the best for me”. I could walk out on my back patio, look up at the sky and let the wind blow through my hair as if I were in an open field, watching the clouds part to finally reveal the sun’s rays after a tempestuous storm. I had secure satisfaction in my choices and I had finally managed to grasp happiness once again. It was as if I had found lost treasure, or a time capsule from years ago, filled with all the things that had meant the most to me.

I had many open wounds from this situation, which eventually became scars. I’ve grown to understand and appreciate them over time. The scars I hide deep inside remind me that my past is real. They ground me in times of difficulty because I can look back and know that if I survived that, then nothing and no one can hold me down. I will never surrender my thoughts, actions and opinions to another person ever again. As a result of the situation, I now know and understand the importance of endurance, drive and strength.

I am 24 years old now and looking back, I now see that this time in my life taught me several very valuable lessons. I learned that people may never be who they seem and it can take years to finally discover who a person truly is. I was also introduced to the world of anger and manipulation. Both of these, helped teach me the importance of caution. I finally understand the importance of individual opinions and the importance of one’s instinct. Every situation has an ending at one point or another. It’s up to you to decide your fate. Will you buckle under pressure? Will you turn the other cheek? Or will you face your demons and breathe your own fire? I can now rest assured in knowing that from now on, I will read a book from beginning to end before I come to an assumption in judgment.


© Copyright 2017 Ronda McKenzie. All rights reserved.

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