History of Erin Boat

History of Erin Boat
The Unnecessary Backstory (the beginning)

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The History of Erin Boat

Monday, March 1, 2010


It’s not necessary for you to read this, but I had to write it anyways. I tend to let my past effect my present a lot, and so getting the whole story out there and written.... it feels good to tell it all, even if it is just a very short summary of the major events in my life.

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I was born late in 1990. When I was two my parents divorced. I grew up in three places, all of which felt like home to me. The first was my mothers. She had primary custody of me. We were quite poor, though in my early childhood I didn’t realize it. On some occasions my mom wouldn’t eat for a few days, so that we had enough food for me to eat. At the time, I thought that was normal. We read a lot of books together. That’s what I remember most; her reading to me.

My second home was my fathers. I only saw him every other weekend, but that still felt like a lot to me. Some of my greatest childhood memories were with my Daddy. Back then, I would have said he was rich. Looking back, I think he was probably just middle-middle class. He was rich my comparison, and he “spoiled” me terribly. I was never really spoiled by it though. He gave me anything I asked for, but I was so grateful. And he played with me, and took me bowling and all kinds of other fun things. Sometimes he’d take me to work with him, and for me, even that was fun. He was a flooring contractor in the early ninties, but by the end, he had stopped doing it because of his knees, and instead owned and ran many small apartment buildings. It was a slow transition

My third home was my aunt and uncle’s house. I spent the weekends when I wasn’t at my dad’s, at their house. I loved them like they were a second set of parents. I never called them by their names. They were always Auntie and Uncle. We did all kinds of stuff. We went to the beach a lot, I remember. I had my own bedroom at their house, which was, and still is, called the Rose Room, although it has since been redecorated and no longer is full of roses. Uncle used to draw for me. I used to bake with Auntie.

When I was 5 or so, my mom met a man, who at the time I was okay with. When I was 6 my aunt and mother both gave birth to girls, exactly one month apart. I had always wanted a sister, and it was like getting two at once. I thought that was the greatest thing ever! I did everything I could to take care of the babies.

As time went on, my mom started drinking more, and my sisters dad started withdrawing more. I spent a lot of time taking care of the baby. I was okay with that. At some point, DSS got called and we got taken away, sent to my aunts. My mom quit drinking. We went home. After that, my aunt and I slowly drifted apart. At first I didnt realize it, because it was a slow process, but by the time I was in 8th grade, I hardly ever saw her.

My mom got pregnant again when I was 8. I was just as excited as I was the first time. My best friends mother also was pregnant. Once again, I got a sister born exactly one month apart from another baby I knew. I thought it was cool that both my sisters had a ‘matching’ birthday.

My youngest sister had some birth defects, which required surgery. My ‘step-dad’ (title given because it’s the closest to what he was. The two were never actually married) was getting more and more withdrawn, so heavy into drugs. My mom lost her job, because they wouldn’t give her time off for the baby’s surgery. Tensions grew in my house. After my sisters 3rd major surgery (there were also many minor ones) my mother and step father hardly got along. One night he smashed one of my mothers favorite decorations. I told my best friend. Somehow the elementary school guidance counselor heard that I said he hit my mom. It wasn’t the case, but when the guidance councilor called to talk to my mom, it made my mother realize that it was only a matter of time. She kicked him out.

An out of work mother, a healing baby, a troublesome toddler (though thats no surprise. All toddlers are troublesome) and a nine year old girl who occasionally thought about running away from her family because she was so unhappy. I was so unhappy. I wasn’t good enough. Mom never paid attention unless it was to tell me to take care of my sisters, or to do the dishes. She found a job. We needed a babysitter. My mom met a woman who had been a live-in nanny for many years with many families. My mom offered her a place to stay rent-free in return for watching the kids, and keeping the house clean.

And that worked fine for a while. My mom stopped drinking again. Our nanny was great. She kept the house clean, she played with the babies, and with me. I still had to help out, but not as much. But I still felt worthless. My stepdad had never failed to remind me how insignificant I was, when he was still in the picture, and I never got over it.

He stopped visiting my sisters. I was angry at him for ignoring his babies. Time moved on. Kids at school hated me. I was depressed. I started considering suicide when I was 10. When I was 12, I got unbearably close to trying it. My best friend unintentionally saved me. I will never ever forget that, and I can never thank her enough. In fact, I don’t think I ever really tried. I was always too embarrassed, but Chels, if you happen to read this, thank you. Thank you a thousand times.

My dad moved into the town my mom lived in, and they got shared custody. Technically the papers said I was to spend half my time with each of them. It worked out more that I could go to whichever house, whenever I wanted. I was happy. My dad build a great big, beautiful house. It was big news in the town. I sometimes over heard strangers talking about “that big new house off school street.” We were the only new house near there. It was amazing. My dad was a show-off. I loved my new home. He sold his apartment buildings because they were too far away, and started a construction company.

I spent a lot of time online and made a lot of friends there. Time passed. Our nanny stopped cleaning because she was “tired of being the only one doing the work.” Even after she stopped cleaning, even when she wouldn’t even do her own laundry, she still complained about doing to much. When she didnt do things, it defaulted to me. Okay.

I started high school, at a different school than most of my friends. The only one who I was with was Chelsea. I made new friends absurdly quickly. It was stranger for me, who had always been unpopular, and it made me really nervous at first. I was afraid they’d leave, or were playing a prank. Eventually I got over it. My mom got a promotion, and we moved to a bigger, nicer, less leaky house.

She had to work a ton more hours, now that she was a manager. It was stressful. She started drinking again. At first it was a just a little after work, but she couldn’t control it. She started drinking more. And then even more.

My father lost his house, the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school. Though his company always had work, he was almost famous for undercharging, and giving free extras. All it took was a few customers to rip him off even further, and he was gone. He had a second house, but it was in the middle of renovations. We moved into a house with the floors torn up, only some walls, and no ceilings. It was unpleasant, to say the least.

High school happened. My grades were lowering. I was stressing. The nanny now no longer wanted anything to do with the kids, though she was still living rent-free. Once again, her responsibilities defaulted to me. My mom was always at work, or drunk. Fine. I could keep a 6 bedroom house clean, and take care of two kids. That was fine. But doing that AND homework? I couldn’t handle it. Whatever free time I had was spent relaxing. I felt like I just had too much to do. Maybe if I had been better at time-management, it would have been easier. It was never a strong point of mine.

Summer 2006. The economy started to go bad. As a vacation destination, we felt it. One of the first things people start cutting out of their budgets are expensive vacations. At the same time, my mom decided it was time to get a job. Instead of saying “You should find a job soon.” she surprised me. It was August first (the day after was the nanny’s birthday which is how I remember) and she woke me up at 7am. Usually I didn’t have to wake up until the kids did, which wasn’t until 8:30 usually. She said “You have until tonight to find a job. If I were you, I’d start now.”

By nightfall, I had applied at 20 different stores within walking distance. Without a car, I hadn’t gone much farther, and that had taken all day. Despite all the applications, I still didn’t actually have a job yet. That wasn’t good enough for my mother, who was drunk. She told me to get out and not to come back until I had a job.

It was a tough year. Sometimes, she’d call and apologize. She’d ask me to come home, and say she was sorry, and that she’d been unreasonable. But at the slightest mistake (such as not reading her mind and therefore not doing her laundry for her) I was kicked out again. I spent the better part of my junior year of high school at my dads. It was nice, but he still didn’t have heat, or ceilings, (though he did have walls) and at one point he got his water shut off and the turn on fee was a few hundred dollars that he just didn’t have. You see, another thing people cut out of their budgets are unnecessary contracting. Windows might get replaced if they were truly smashed (about a $100 job) but no one will build an addition.

And somehow, things sorted themselves out between my mother and I. She needed my help running the house, and there I was, despite all the ups and downs, still willing to come back. I needed my sisters more than anything.

Coming back was a shock. The house was more of a mess than ever, and no matter how much I cleaned, I couldn’t catch back up. It was horrible, and honestly, disgusting at times. Even worse was my mother. She was drinking more than ever and it was frightening now. She yelled at my sisters for stupid things, she yelled at me. I talked to my dad about it, but asked him to stay out of it. He respected my wishes, so I thought. But then one day he told me he had called DSS. I was angry at him for quite some time about that. I felt betrayed, and scared.

They came and looked around. They told my mom that she should “maybe drink a bit less” and to get the house cleaned up. They mentioned that “the older one ought to help get it straightened out. Teenagers may hate cleaning but they can do it and should. It would be almost impossible for you to get it done on your own.” It pissed me off. It WAS nearly impossible to get it cleaned up on your own. I didn’t like that I wasn’t getting any credit, and I really didn’t like they used the word “maybe” in from of “drink less.”

Nothing much changed. Jeffrey finally came to visit me. He was one of the people I had met online many many years before, and somehow, had let me fall for him. It was an amazing week, which changed my mind about everything. I realized that I couldnt just idly sit by and live my life around my mother. Now I had something I wanted, something I was completely sure about. I talked to the family councilor DSS made us see. They talked to my mom. She was supposed to stop drinking.

Slowly, she weaned herself off. There were a few slip ups, but she was doing better. I was confident that after I graduated, I could go down to Virginia with Jeffrey, and my sisters would be fine with my mom. Before that, I wasn’t even going to go away to college (though I often lied and said I would) because I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving my sisters in the care of an angry drunk.

The day after my senior prom, Jeffrey got down on one knee and proposed to me. I had known it was coming, but wasn’t sure when. I had to tell my mom. I was afraid to, afraid she’d freak out, afraid she would drink. My fears proved correct. I felt horrible. Blamed myself. One of my sisters told the school. DSS came back. My mom lost custody. I graduated and went to Virginia. I couldn’t have the phone number to where my sisters were. I was freaking out. They were my babies. They had been my responsibility off and on since I was 7. Who were they to tell me I couldn’t talk to them. Then they got moved into my aunts house. Relief, until the older of the two started lashing out. Threatening my cousin, disobeying my aunt and uncle. Shouting. My aunt couldn’t handle her. She went back to the foster home, but this time, I could have the number. Her anger faded, and she started thriving on being the only kid in the house. It was great for her.

And my mom was doing better, so long as I called her every couple days to check in. My sister in foster care moved back into my moms house. My other sister didn’t want to. And that’s where we are at the start of this blog. I’m in Virginia. My mom is sober. My father is still trying to put his house back together. One sister is at home. The other is at home in my aunts house, the way I was when I was little.

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From March 2010 until August 2011 I kept what I’m going to refer to as “Part One” of my blog. During this time there were some ups and downs with my mother. She was in recovery for her alcoholism, then fell off the wagon, back in recovery, back off the wagon, over and over and over. I lived with her again for a while, then had to leave for Virginia again, for my own mental and physical health. My sisters have been in and out of foster care. Pardon the lack of details: there are hundreds of blog posts from that time to keep you occupied if you’re interested.

All that time I spent trying to make things happy for my mother, my sisters, my family in general, and I neglected to take care of myself until, slowly, I morphed into this near-stranger whom I hated. I stopped blogging between August 2011 and February 2013 because I hated myself. I didn’t take care of myself. I didn’t care to, because I didn’t like myself well enough to care. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t care about much of anything. Nothing seemed worth posting about. Inside my head was, to put it nicely, a shit hole.

Finally, I woke up, realized what I was doing. I’m not the same “Nineteen year old nutcase” that I was when I posted that as my tag line. I’m a 22 year old woman who spends a great deal of the time hating herself, and hating the fact that I hate myself. So now, I’m writing “Part Two” of my blog. It’s my mental health journey, and maybe some fun life tidbits. I don’t know what it is. But it’s something I can hang on to, something to hold me accountable. Something that maybe will help me turn back into someone I can tolerate.
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Photo taken by Nicole S. Fishkind, master photographer and dear friend.

2 comments:

myblip said...

I can't remember if I've ever told you this or not, but I absolutely LOVE this picture of you - something about it is so striking. Every time I come to your blog, I find myself looking at that picture a few seconds longer than normal. I love the composition, the background, you stance, posture, and everything about it really.

July 25, 2010 at 8:54 PM
E Boat said...

Thank you. That picture was taking in the dressing room, right before my first ever on-stage performance. I had no idea she was taking it, but as soon as I saw it, I loved it too.

September 12, 2010 at 11:49 AM

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