Lights On, Lights Off

The door stood slightly ajar. Inside, two hearts were beating rapidly in rhythmic unison as if a snare drum was being repeatedly tapped. The rest of the house remained silent, except for some sobs coming from the corner. She heard the words being yelled back and forth as loneliness consumed her and darkness shadowed her thoughts. When she opened her eyes, her mother was in her face calling for attention. She muttered five words that would live with her daughter forever, “Your dad’s leaving, say goodbye.” All went quiet, except for the screaming inside her.


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“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.” A profound quote spoken by one of the characters in the all-too famous Harry Potter series captures the essence of happiness like a child captures fireflies in a jar on a summer night. Happiness can be found in the simplest of places: late night conversations with a sister, encouraging pats on the back from friends, and the loving embrace of both mother and father.

But what happens when happiness cannot be found in these dark and difficult times and family becomes a burden all its own?

Happiness has always been my nature, and optimism, my best attribute. When you grow up with a loving family, great friends, and a willingness to learn, life doesn’t seem so scary, but this past summer life became difficult and happiness grew dim. I remember growing up thinking I had the perfect family, that WE were the exception. Most of my friends came from broken homes which wasn’t a big deal to them because they were used to it, but I had never experienced it before and so, I fell apart. Little did I know we were not the exception; we were the same as any other family, just a bit delayed. My parents, a loving couple, had been together for 27 years, but two kids and almost three decades later, the foundation began to crumble. Whilst my parents fought, I was usually an emotional wreck, while my sister sulked and built up a facade: stoic and uncaring. But the fights subsided and became my last memory of my parents together when my mother decided to kick him out for good. He didn’t seem to care anymore and she cared just a little too much. As the weeks wore on, I was “caught between enemy lines.” I was my mother’s make-shift therapist, someone she could unload all her troubles on for nothing in return. And for my dad, I was the messenger, someone to poke and prod in order to unravel the secrets. It was an unhealthy back-and-forth game between the two of them and I was the pawn they both used in their tactic to win. With loneliness constantly crawling up my spine, I began to shut myself away from the world as my sister had done. Since she was the only mature adult in this situation, I looked to her for guidance, but deep down, I knew she felt the same. We kept each other sane by watching movies and talking together, but it still was no easy situation to get through. And when my father finally packed his stuff, the separation between my parents finally hit me like a ton of bricks. Deep down I was desperate; I begged him to stay and I begged my mother to let him, but it wasn’t good enough. My once happy family was now falling apart and the pieces would be left untouched. The loving relationship between my parents became a heap of severed ties and broken promises. And the relationship I had with each parent became a little sour because of the separation, but my sister and I bonded over this difficult experience. With no happiness left in my house, I had to make the best of it. I did my daily tasks, acted happy around my family, and told everyone I was okay. In reality, I was suffering from the worst pain ever experienced, surpassing any physical pain I had ever felt in my seventeen years of living.

More weeks passed and the initial shock wore off; I slowly began to understand what had gone wrong and what I had to do in order to fix myself, and not worry about anyone else. I realized that I was unhappy, alone, and in the dark throughout this whole process, but with the love and advice from my sister, the encouraging pats on the back from friends and the loving embrace of both mother and father separately, I began to heal. As time passed by quietly and undetected, I began to become accustomed to the arrangement my parents had set up, but I would still cry here and there. I focused on excelling in school; I joined more clubs – my favorite being The 2010 School Yearbook –and completely engrossed myself in books, movies, and friends… too busy to focus on the things that had transpired the previous summer. As weeks turned to months, I felt better about myself and felt the pangs in my heart hurt a little less; I realized that it was their problem to work out or give up on, and that they both still loved me equally in the end. Also, I realized that I should just keep doing what I’m doing and hope for a better future. And so, with a flick of a switch, I turned on the light that had grown dim when my parents separated. Happiness was partially restored and my balance was regained for a little while. With a surge of power and a jolt of electricity, the light was coming back on in my life, slowly but surely.

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