Gaining Back What I’ve Lost

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

| This is the 68th story of Our Life Logs |

At 43, I’ve lost a lot in my life. I’ve lost homes, family members, and jobs. Though I lose things, I fight to gain back what’s possible. I never let the dejection of loss keep me from working hard to get good things back.

I was born in 1975 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second youngest of seven children. My father was partially blind from an Air Force accident that gave him an honorable discharge and began working as a college psychology professor when I was about 10 years old. My mother was a loving, stay-at-home-mom, who took care of all our needs. I had a fun childhood spending lots of time outside, but there were times of darkness. My father spent most of his time at work or out with friends, rarely caring for us at home. When he did come home, he was often drunk, and instigated verbal and physical fights with my mother.

With my mother, 1985.

When I was 11, my mother got sick. The doctors diagnosed her with the flu, but she wasn’t getting better. After a few visits, we found that she had cancer. She endured nine months before she passed away. Her death was unfathomable. I was so angry that my mother had to be the one to die. She was the only loving parent I had. Without my mother, our family began to fall apart. My father’s yelling and crude behavior amplified after the loss of his wife, causing my older siblings to move away.  And so, with only me and my younger brother to raise, my father took more control of our lives, trying to mold us how he wanted. My father and I fought constantly, and eventually, he was fed up.

•  •  •

When I was 13, my father sent me to live with my older brother for the summer. My brother, Mike, was the caring adult I desperately needed to lean on. As the end of the summer drew near, Mike offered to take custody of me. He knew what living with my father was like. But when Mike shared his idea, my father grew irate, refusing the offer and demanding I return.

Two weeks later after I had moved back to my father’s house, my brother Mike was found dead in his car after overdosing on painkillers. I couldn’t believe it. In my miserable state, I spent most of my time sleeping, desperate to escape the world. The two people who loved me were gone, and I was still stuck with my father that didn’t show me much parental love.

•  •  •

When I was 16 years old, I could no longer stand the verbal abuse from my father. I went to live with my sister where I went to West High, a school in a bad part of town. I hated it. Not long after starting there, I dropped out of school to work full time.

Four years later, I fell in love and got married to a man to a man who was 11 years older than me. At first, we were happy. We had three wonderful kids together and I got my GED. Soon enough, the age gap between us, caused my husband and I to grow apart. I knew how unhappy my parents were together and decided not to repeat their mistakes. We divorced in 2002 and shared parenting. I worried that my children would be negatively affected by the divorce, but they handled it and are still handling the balance between their parents well.

Me (left) with my niece, 2005.

After going back to work, I met a man and fell in love, not knowing that he would turn abusive once we began living together. Our relationship finally ended while we were visiting his parents. When his father realized how his son was treating me, he helped me get out of the house and away from his violent son. His father told me, “no one will have fear in my house,” as he held back his son so I could grab my stuff and get away. In that moment, I realized that I had been putting up with a man that my younger self would not have tolerated. I decided that I would never live in fear again, regardless of my circumstance.

With nowhere to go, I stayed at my dad’s house for a few months until I got back on my feet. It wasn’t my ideal arrangement, but I had been working on mending my relationship with him since my kids were born. Being around him was hard sometimes, but my heart softened for him. He had not been able to properly take care of himself and his house. He spent his entire life living it the way he wanted, smoking and drinking heavily. I put our past issues aside for the sake of helping my elderly, partially blind father. We became closer.

Eventually, I moved into my own place and built my life back up, rejuvenated by the newfound peace I had made with my father. I started working a new job and spent more time with my kids. Not long after, I received a call. My father was very sick but refused to go to the hospital unless I was with him. I rushed to my father. Once we got him into the hospital, he was given medicine for a rare lung infection, but his condition only seemed to worsen. By the end of the week, he entered into a coma and passed away. His death didn’t devastate me like the others in my family. I felt that it was his time to go, and he seemed ready.

All that I gained was stripped from me in 2013 when I lost my job and apartment within the same month. I was forced to stay in a hotel and it was difficult to see my kids during this time. I pushed past the thoughts of worthlessness. Though I felt defeated, I told myself that I had decided to trust my future, and that I would end up in a positive place.

I worked two jobs until I got myself out of the hotel for good. I was working so many hours that I didn’t have a life outside of work. I saved enough to rent a house and live with more stability, and I’m still living in that house today.

Me (left) with my three, wonderful children, Christmas 2017.

In my life, I see a pattern of losing and gaining. I often lose a lot, but I always work to get it back. I can’t be kept down, no matter how hard life tries. I always get up and fight to get back the things I’ve lost. I may not be able to get back my loved ones, but I can regain happiness after finding peace in understanding their deaths.

This is the story of Sue Goodall

After many variations of losses in Sue’s life, she could have given up and let them defeat her, but she chose to fight to gain back what she could from the losses. Today, her goal is to guide her children to live happy lives, but not control them like her father did to her. Sue currently lives in Loveland, Ohio working for a florist that provides flowers for weddings and other events. Sue also loves nature and keeping pets, especially fish and reptiles like lizards. At one point, she had three themed fish tanks.

Sue, 2009.

This story first touched our hearts on April 19, 2018.

| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editor: Colleen Walker; Manqing Jin |

#family #drunkfather #domesticabuse #trauma #abusiverelationship #divorce #movingon #motherhood #regroup

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