Life was great at that point in my life; I finally had some friends at school, and school was going great too with a laid back teacher who liked me the way I was. I was even looking forward for the next school year, as time flew by so quickly.
Despite the turn around at school, I could sense loads of tension between my parents. My parents both worked so much still. Our frequent gatherings were less frequent. That didn’t stop my dad going out. He has always enjoyed going out. But now it became more frequent. My dad enjoyed his drinks too which didn’t help the matter. The problem was Switzerland is not cheap like Portugal. He did the same in Portugal, the difference was in Portugal he had a great job who paid well and going out was affordable. In Switzerland, his job paid the minimum wage and life was very expensive. Sadly for us also, my dad was always known to be a playboy. Even though he made so much effort with us, words got out he was playing away again. My mother and father would argue more often and she would tell him off for his behaviour and forgiving him always for love or for keeping the family together. Sadly, my father’s behaviour didn’t change. In fact it got worse.
I recall while we lived in Portugal, my dad cheekily said as he was getting ready to go out, I would go with him. I was so excited, buzzing around like a bee to get ready. I was teasing my mum that while she would stay home, I would be going out with my father. I was only 3 and was easily gullible. My father and I had such a strong bond, I loved him wholeheartedly , he return the same love, probably even more. I was so attached to him.
He’s had another child before me, but he stayed with my mum the longest than any relationship’s he’s had before or after my mum. My dad sometimes knew how much I adored him so much, I’d follow him to the end. I was a version of him and we are so alike; stubborn, determined, we’d overdo things and get carried away, when we liked something we’d like it times 10, when we don’t like someone or something we’d hate it times 10. We were two peas in a pod. My mum also named me after my paternal grandmother Dona Joana as she was known (my second name being Joana) which cemented our bond further. So as I was looking through my clothes, my dad finished getting ready and was already on his way out. He didn’t anticipated me believing I was going out with him. My mum told me repeatedly how I wouldn’t go out, and she urged my dad to tell me too. My dad confirmed to me he was just joking. It was so funny how I wouldn’t believe or listen to my mum, but only my dad. Reality struck me like a truck that I wasn’t going out after all. As he left, my eyes followed him and I just stood there as if I was glued on the spot. I cried hysterically, and couldn’t stop. I literally cried myself to sleep as my dad left me. The feeling was of abandonment and rejection.
My love for my dad was so unconditional and so deep. I loved him more than life itself. I remember the look we had when we’d go out in the street people would look at us; a white dad and a coloured daughter. When I smiled, I resembled him immediately. We were partners in crimes like Bonnie & Clyde, together until the end. My parents’ relationship survived many storm that came their way. Even racism they faced from both side didn’t tear them apart; my dad faced racism from my mother’s side of the family and my mum faced racism from my dad’s side of the family. I felt stuck in the middle being mixed raced, I couldn’t choose a side. Never could and never will.
Despite all they faced, tension has been building for a while now. My dad was still unhappy in Switzerland, I believe he just needed a distraction which explained why he was going out so much. The atmosphere at home wasn’t warm anymore, you could sense that the atmosphere at home was as cold as ice. My mum was constantly telling my dad off for his antics; it felt like my dad was an extra child. This tension was going on forever until my mum couldn’t take it any longer. It all started when my dad’s spending went through the roof. Switzerland is still an expensive country. His drinking habit and going out habit wasn’t slowing down leading him to spend all his pay checks on his lifestyle, leaving my mum to pay everything herself. From going out each weekend, he started to go out each day as he was less and less present at home. I always wondered how he managed to go to work after going out? So when he didn’t have money left to finance his nights out, he dipped in the savings, and the savings he dipped into was the money my mum received each month from the government for me and my sister. When she discovered that my dad dipped in the savings for me and my sister, my mum saw red. She confronted him when he came back home; of course the very next day. Their argument erupted resulting in the argument becoming physical. Me and my sister were not sure what was going on, but while clueless, we were actually witnessing the collapse of our parents relationship. It was so hard to see. Then I saw my dad coming towards my mum while they were both still arguing.
I stepped forward, surprising myself and my parents. I wanted to protect my mum at the time. I remember I tried to push back my dad, kick him, but he pushed me in return. Very harshly. He never ever laid his hands on me forcefully. He never hit me before. So pushing me forcefully this way remained the only time he has ever been rough with me if that makes sense. Still in front of my mum, I suddenly became her shield. My dad looked at us and left without saying a word. Although I was still reeling of his departure, I was so angry. Angry of the situation, angry at myself for attacking my dad as I felt he was responsible of the situation. Soon, realisation hit home when I realised my dad left and was not coming back. My anger turned to shock.
After this awful episode, my mum was sad and sobbing and I don’t remember quite well, but probably my sister was either crying or was shocked like me. I was still standing in front of my mum, being her armour. It’s so ironic that my dad at first thought I was a boy when he desperately was longing for one. I certainly had all the features of a boy being a tomboy. I suddenly stepped up being all protective. My tough demeanour was deceiving, as I was clearly deceiving myself. Tough on the outside yet very sensitive on the inside. Despite being so tough and with a strong character, something inside me broke. I never recovered from my father’s departure. For when my father left us, something inside me left with him; a part of me. My shock turned to absolute anger. An anger that was so hard to dissipate. Once more and sadly, my behaviour got so much worse at home and at school. If my future teacher could see me, she/he would be dreading having me so out of control in their class. How could I live let alone survive without my ancre? All I knew, my anger, shock and heartbreak would have devastating consequences for everyone around me, including myself.