Exactly who I'm supposed to be

I was in fourth grade the first time my mom made my dad leave. It was every other day that I got to visit him in a hotel room up the street from our house. “A break” is what they called it.

I knew he would be back, though. I mean, he had to come back, right? It wasn’t long until things got better and dad was back home. It also wasn’t long until he left again and I was warned that he may never return.

No one ever said that he would walk out of my life completely, just that he would no longer sleep in the same home.

My parents waited another couple weeks to inform me that they would be splitting up. At 10 years old, one would think that my life had crashed and burned. However, I knew even then that it was what was best for them.

My dad promised to never give up on me and he didn’t. The battle went on for custody between the two and of course, who would leave this divorce with everything else.

They came to the agreement that I would spend every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at my dad’s. I would spend Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at my mom’s. Seems simple, yet complicated. But it always worked.

In addition, I was off with my dad every other weekend in his tiny room at a friend’s house. I was also there every two weeks in the summer. Every holiday, I switched between the two and it was so hard to remember where I had eaten Thanksgiving dinner 365 days ago.

It wasn’t until I was in high school that living these two lives really got to me. Both of my parents changed as a result of the divorce and each had a set of rules almost completely opposite of each other.

I literally was one person while with dad and one person with mom. If I was mom with dad and dad with mom, it erupted into an argument between the two.

For a long time, I didn’t make a lot of decisions based on what I wanted because I was too worried about hurting or making either one of them angry. It was so hard to make decisions based on two different views because my whole life revolved around avoiding a fight.

It wasn’t until I turned 18 and graduated high school that I really started to see that I cannot base my life around pleasing their polar opposite views on what was best for me.

I no longer had to visit my dad or even stay at my mom’s if I didn’t want to. I spend summer and holidays wherever I want to go and for the first time in forever, I feel so free.

Yes, I am the person that they both have raised me to be but I have taken a stand in making decisions without much consideration about how they may or may not respond.

I am one person while with my father and the same person while with my mother. Both of them, now, see that I have changed and for the last two years, I can see that they still struggle with no longer having their separate controls.

I am the Stefanie that I am meant to be. I am a daughter of two wonderful parents, with the addition of step parents and a sister to the three most beautiful little kids that I could ever know.

I am a student, a YMCA staff member and babysitter. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I am finally the Stefanie that makes her own decisions without pleasing everyone else.