This I Believe

Kristi - Brick, New Jersey
Entered on May 6, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I was only three when my parents separated – not that I knew what being separated meant back then. At that time, I didn’t understand why my father had moved out or why my brothers and I were left alone with my mother in our small apartment. Why was my family so broken up? The fact that my father was always coming home late at night, intoxicated beyond comprehension is only a small piece of the answer to the question I am only now beginning to conjure up responses to. He mentally and physically abused my mother and my brothers to a point where there were scars left not only on the surface, but deep within their hearts. I didn’t know it back then, but looking back I remember a vivid example of just how terribly he treated them.

It was about 3 o’clock in the morning and for some reason or another, I was still somewhat awake. I heard the door slam and my mother and one of my brothers went downstairs to see what was going on. I sat on the top of the stairs, listening. The events that took place afterward are not something I like to remember, but I do. I heard my father yelling, using words I knew I wasn’t allowed to say, now better recognizable as curse words. I heard him screaming horrible things at my mother and they were bickering back and fourth. I just wanted it to stop. That’s when I heard it, a loud crack.

My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach.

It sounded as if an entire auditorium had been applauding a crew of cast members, then suddenly struck the dead silence. It was comparable to the point in a funeral service after a loved one says a few words in remembrance about the deceased and all the guests are letting it sink in. Finally, in the midst of the quiet, not 10 Mississippi seconds after the serenity had begun, came that loud crack. He hit her. It didn’t go on for much longer before my mother decided to put her foot down and threw my father out. I’m just lucky that my battle wounds are only emotional, not physical as well, like the others involved.

My father wasn’t in my life much, following those events. He stayed in a hotel where I’d visit him on weekends for a while. My brothers never went to visit, because he wasn’t their biological father and I’m positive they hated him with every ounce of hostility they had in them. Every weekend turned into every other weekend, every other weekend turned into every month, every month turned into every few months, and so on until I didn’t see him at all. After a few years of this, he came around every once in awhile, offering gifts, figuratively to fill the void I had in my heart from not having a father all of those years. All the gifts in the world couldn’t replace having a father and I’m not sure if he ever realized that.

My father had a drinking problem that hurt his family, his friends, and himself. Because of all my mother had gone through, she also developed a drinking problem. To keep the chain going, my brothers had both developed drinking problems as well. Growing up, I learned to hide my feelings, part of which dealt with my family and the way they drank all the time. I found myself the only sober person in the house way more often than a pre-teen should have. I tried talking to my mother and other family members, but they never seemed to care enough to try and quit. It really hurt me because in my eyes, that meant they didn’t care about me and I had no one to fall back on. My home life really took its toll on my mental health and I felt as if I was starting to lose it.

At fourteen years old, I got into a type of music called hardcore. Listening to hardcore and going to shows to see bands of this genre, helped me to cope with the problems I had at home and the feelings I kept cooped up inside myself. I didn’t have many friends at school because they thought my family was crazy and that I must also be crazy too. I made friends at the shows I went to and eventually formed a tight knit bond with a handful of people who had problems just like me. We helped each other through rough times and I finally felt like I belonged somewhere, with someone. Through this music, these new friends I had made, and the subculture of hardcore, I was introduced to a lifestyle known as straight edge.

Straight edge is a lifelong commitment to stay sober from drugs and alcohol and to abstain from promiscuous sexual activity. It was created as grounds to keep yourself physically healthy for a lifetime. With straight edge, comes honesty, integrity, and loyalty. It’s an extremely huge commitment and contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with gangs, trouble or fighting in any way shape or form. It is simply a pure way of living life. I have been straight edge for four years and it is now my personal backbone through everyday life. I take a tremendous amount of pride in my lifestyle and I will never break my promise to myself to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sexual activity. People who claim straight edge do it typically for their own personal reasons. Some of my personal reasons include my family’s history with drug and alcohol abuse and the way it tore us apart, the death of friends from drugs and alcohol, the physical problems these substances can create for a person, and because I can and I do deal with my everyday problems and have fun without turning to illegally drinking or doing drugs. There is not one thing in this world I feel more strongly about than straight edge. This I believe.