Whenever Mom brought home her new boyfriend, I would lock myself up in the room. I didn't like it. I didn't like the fact that Mom was dating multiple men. Not that it's wrong, but I found it creepy that the men would look at me in a certain way. I was 14 then. But I didn't feel safe in front of Mom's boyfriends.
One day, my worst fear came true. Mom was going to marry Uncle John whom she had been dating for six months. I would rather Mom keep dating different men. But the thought that she would marry one of them and bring him into the family, was scary to me.
"Uncle John will come and live with us. He is your father now," said Mom. I felt so angry at that time. I felt like running away from home. But I was worried for my little brother, Ted. Ted was only 4 years old. I had seen how Uncle John would scold him when Ted dropped his food or cried without stopping.
I tried to warn Mom about Uncle John's temper. But Mom would not listen. She thought that Uncle John loved her more than her previous husband, my father. Dad had been abusive to her and would constantly hurt her physically. Although Dad never laid his hands on me or Ted, I grew up watching how he would beat up Mom. I remember feeling helpless and scared. I grew a deep distrust towards men.
Not long after, Uncle John came to live with Mom in our small 2-bedroom flat. I found out that he worked as a mover. Mom, on the other hand, worked on night shifts. So, Ted and I would be home with Uncle John at night while Mom worked.
One day, Uncle John caught Ted scribbling on the wall of his bedroom. Uncle John was very upset and scolded Ted. He told Ted to wipe off the crayon marks on the wall. But Ted just stood there and cried loudly. Uncle John shouted at him to shut him up. When Ted kept crying, he stuffed the crayons into his mouth. I was fearful for my little brother. At the same time, I was too afraid to interfere. I called Mom and asked her to come home quickly.
When Mom returned home, she picked up Ted and told me to bring him to my room and lock the door. I could hear Mom and Uncle John engaging in a shouting match. Then, I heard Mom telling him to get out of the house. I could hear Uncle John leaving the house in a hurry and slamming the door after him. “Don't come back, you useless #@%!” screamed Mom.
Uncle John did not return. Mom said she’s no longer with him. Mom is seeing other men now. “Please, Mom. Don't bring them home,” I pleaded. But Mom won't listen. “I believe I will find the right man, Lisa. I want to be happy.” Little that she knows that her pursuit of happiness is at the expense of my own sense of safety. But what can I do? She is my Mom and I have nowhere else to go. I just need to take care of myself and my little brother. And hopefully, Mom will find the right man - not like Dad or Uncle John.