“After his father died, the stepson became aggressive. I wanted to replace his parent, but I couldn't keep living in fear "
I glanced at my watch, waiting for the doorbell to ring. I couldn't sleep or eat since I found out that Michał was coming home. I was so nervous because I had no idea how our relationship would turn out now. Soon after, I found out that we had no chance.
Michał was never an easy child, he always caused us more or less problems.
My husband was able to tame him
In fact, Waldek was the only person Michał listened to. He didn't take my opinion into account at all. I couldn't reach him, maybe because I wasn't his biological mother. Michał was five years old when I met Waldek. A year later we got married and I adopted Michał.
But although I considered him my own child, there was never a proper relationship between us. Despite my best efforts, I remained a stepmother with all the bad connotations. Life and time passed. Our family has endured many storms and even storms. The house was still going on despite everything, and Michał grew up and always had nowhere to come back.
Right here, home. Everything collapsed like a house of cards when Waldek died of a heart attack.
- It's all your fault! - screamed despairing Michał, not noticing that I can barely stay on my feet with nerves and I am flooding with tears. - You could take more care of him, try!
- It's not like that ... But it could happen to anyone, son ... - I explained, trying to remain calm and show Michał understanding.
After all, he irretrievably lost the most important person in his life.
- I'm not your baby boy! He snapped back and left, slamming the door.
My heart felt as if it had broken into a million pieces. Maybe not everything was right, but I loved Michał. I devoted a lot of time and effort to him, I did everything with him in mind. He was my only child - I didn't have another one, and I couldn't have had one, because despite my many years of trying, I did not manage to get pregnant.
I don't know, maybe knowing that Michał is my only chance for motherhood gave him some power over me. I didn't know how to be tough towards him, he ruthlessly took advantage of my weakness.
"You'll see that you'll have a problem with him," my sister warned me. - He always didn't care about you, and now, when Waldek is gone ...
"Stop it," I cut off such talk. - It's my baby. We'll get along somehow, we just have to.
- I hope so. But be careful. You hear Don't shrug your shoulders. You have to keep it short. Don't let yourself get on your head. Don't let yourself get pushed around because it will keep getting worse and worse. Understand?
I knew she was right
I should have made sure that Michał would finish school, get a job, turn out to be people. But I fell and Beata cried out. When Waldek died, Michał was in the last year of high school. Immediately after the funeral, he started playing truant, skipped his education and high school diploma.
Bad grades, comments, phone calls from the class teacher, conversation with the principal, last warnings, and finally expulsion from school. As a result, Michał did not even get secondary education, so there was no question of taking his final exams.
"Dad would be very disappointed," I sighed heavily, hoping that maybe it would move him.
It didn't move. Day after day, I watched from behind the curtains as our son gave a high-five to friends I didn't know, then got into a ramshackle turtleneck and drove away. I had no idea where or why. Until the police knocked on the door of our apartment. Michał and his friends raided a nearby store and beat the owner so badly that he suffered a serious damage to his health.
The policemen searched the apartment, inching by inch his room. I stood on the threshold and could only helplessly watch them find drugs in Michał's. I used to reproach myself for not guarding him enough, for letting such a situation happen, but ...
How was I supposed to see a rebellious young thug who totally disregarded me and never treated me like a mother? I cried when he went to prison, but deep down I hoped that this difficult lesson would do him good.
- Well, you have a few years of peace - Beata sneered when I invited her for tea after the trial.
I did not like to be alone in an empty apartment where everything reminded me of my deceased husband and "the son of a criminal", as Beata used to say.
- Stop, don't say that, everyone has the right to get lost - I excused Michał, because I felt guilty.
Yes, if I could fulfill my stepmother's duties better, if I were more consistent, bolder ...
I saw more and more of my mistakes
Time could not be turned back, however. I could only believe that Michał in prison would be wise, he would understand that this was not the way. Months passed, turning into years ... Shortly before Michał was released from prison, my life unexpectedly changed. And it's for good. I met a good, honest and affectionate man, and for the first time since Waldek's death, I thought that I could still be happy.
Arek and I started to plan our future together. I wanted to fill the empty house with his presence, which I had completely cleaned up after I was left alone. But I still delayed making my decision.
- Let's wait until Michał comes back and gets used to the situation - I explained to Arek. - I don't want to put him in front of a fait accompli.
In fact, I was afraid of Michael's reaction. I knew he could be impulsive. And if he feels hurt, he may react violently.
- Christ, you have the right to arrange your life anew, in your own way - Beata argued. - Michał has to accept it, he is no longer a small child.
Maybe, maybe, but I was torturing myself all the time. Day and night. The apartment also belonged to Michał. He grew up in it, here was his home. I felt that I should ask him for his opinion, and therefore patiently, though like on high heels, I waited for the day when he would come home ...
The silence was broken by the ticking of the clock, and I paced the living room back and forth, stopping by the window and peering through the curtains at the backyard of the tenement house. In the end - tired of waiting and mounting tension - I sat down in the chair and drifted away.
I was awakened by a pounding on the door. With my heart pounding, I ran into the hall. My hands trembled as I turned the key in the lock.
- Finally! - I heard a familiar voice and a familiar grievance.
Michael tossed his bag on the floor, then hugged me in a hug. It smelled of cigarettes and sweat. My heart was pounding like crazy. I didn't know how to act. On the one hand, I was glad that my son made such a gesture of affection. On the other hand, I felt a strange unease.
"I'm glad you are, really," I gasped finally, picking up his bag and putting it on the dresser.
"I'm going to shower, and you can make tea," Michał said graciously, and then shut himself up in the bathroom. I heard the rush of water and a loud, prolonged sigh of relief. He was glad to be back. I didn't want to destroy this sense of satisfaction in him, but we had a serious conversation about the future ahead of us.
Although Michał was already an adult and I did not have to consult him on my life plans, we were a family and we lived together. We have survived, for better or worse, many years together. I set the pot of tea on the table and listened. Soon Michał wrapped in my bathrobe appeared in the living room.
- I borrowed it, sorry! He burst out laughing, trying to pull the short sleeves over his wrists.
"All right, no problem," I replied, keeping my face straight.
I was so stressed out by the conversation that awaited us that I couldn't smile.
Of course, this did not escape Michał's attention
- Something's wrong? He asked, surveying the living room carefully.
"We need to talk ... about how ... how it will be now ..." I stuttered, nervously picking at the hem of my skirt.
- I can see that it has changed here - muttered Michał. - There is no father's things ...
"I'm sorry, but it was too painful to be in all that reminded me of him." I'm talking about everyday objects, because of course I kept souvenirs like photos for you, so… ”I broke off and lowered my head.
I felt guilty again. Why did I always feel like I had done something wrong in his presence? Michael grunted in reply, then took a sip of his tea.
"As for how it will be now," he continued, "you can be calm, I'll go to work, don't be afraid, you won't have to support me."
Man, I didn't even think about it, that's not what worried me the most.
"I met someone," I blurted.
While uttering these words, I did not think that they would have such a huge impact. Everything happened in a flash. Michał jumped up from his chair, knocking over the table. A pot of boiling water landed in my lap. I screamed in pain, then instinctively fled the room. I ran into the bathroom, still stuffy from Michał's recent bath.
I locked myself inside and immediately tore my skirt sticky to my thighs. Painful blisters appeared on my skin and tears ran down my cheeks.
- Hey, Tamara. Everything's all right? - Michał knocked on the door. - I'm sorry i did not want…
I didn't answer, I couldn't
When I finally got the courage to leave, the apartment was flooded with darkness. My robe was on the floor in the living room, and broken cups were scattered around. Michał was nowhere to be found. He apparently left the house, which was fine for me.
I needed to calm down and clean up. I rummaged through the medicine cabinet and found some ointment for burns. I didn't even check if it was overdue. The skin on my thighs stung mercilessly, but the pain was easier to bear than fear. He stayed with me all evening. I didn't know where Michał had gone or when he would be back. And most of all, how he will behave. It exploded because I surprised him. He kind of apologized, but what next?
He always caused problems, but now he was someone else, a stranger, I said goodbye to the boy, the man came back with a sentence on his account. I didn't know what to expect from him. I hoped naively that in prison they would teach him reason. What if he only learned how to be a better bandit there? It was almost one in the morning.
I was tired, I didn't have the strength to wait for Michał. I decided to lie down and at the same time the front door slammed. I got up and walked silently to the bedroom door. Through the chink I watched my son stagger.
- I came back! He roared so loud that I flinched in fear.
I thought about Waldek
This was not the future he had expected for his son. We both tried to make him grow into a good, decent person. Not a criminal, violent and drunk. I huddled under the covers and was afraid of this young man whom I had recognized as my son years ago. It wasn't supposed to be like that, it wasn't supposed to be like that between us. I felt terrorized after just one day. What will happen after a month or a year?
God ... The next day I got up very early, wanting to go to work before Michał woke up. Due to the burns, I was unable to put on jeans. So I put on the first dress on the hem and sneaked out of the house. Only then did I breathe a breath. The further away from my apartment and Michał, the safer and calmer I felt.
The emotions accumulated from yesterday were falling. I took my phone out of my purse and glanced at the display. It showed five missed calls from Beata and twice as many SMSs from Arek. They both knew that Michał was released from prison yesterday. They were worried about me and I gave them reasons to be more concerned by not answering the phone. But I didn't have the head for it.
I didn't want to explain to Arek or admit that Beata was right. But what should I do now? On the one hand, I wanted to protect my son, as I had done most of his life. On the other hand, I felt threatened myself. Michael was not an angel. He talked, stood up, was vulgar and arrogant, but he had never been aggressive towards me before.
If there were tensions, it ended with cursing and slamming doors.
"Everything OK, we'll talk later" - I sent them a deceptive text message.
Nothing was OK. Nevertheless, I decided to give Michał one last chance and, after returning home, make one more attempt at the conversation. My hands trembled as I slipped the key into the lock. Loud music rumbled from inside the apartment.
- Can you turn it down? I stood on the threshold of my son's room and tried to shout over the roars coming from the two loudspeakers.
Michael turned off the music right away, then stood up and came close enough that he almost touched me.
"That lover of yours was here," he said through his teeth, looking down at me.
His eyes narrowed, like those of a predator before an attack. I was afraid. I wanted to run away.
- I can see that you dealt quickly with the mourning of dad ...
"You know it's been a few years ..." I stammered, fighting the rising panic and unconsciously backing away.
- Only a few years - Michał grumbled, then immediately grabbed my wrist and pushed me against the wall. I was breathless for a moment, then I doubled over and coughed. He exaggerated. Definitely. I will not explain to him about my private affairs. I called him my son, but we hadn't been properly bonded for a long time.
Maybe she never was. Perhaps there are wounds and traumas that no one or nothing can heal. I tried to replace his mother, but failed. Together with Waldek, we let him do too much to compensate him for the harm he suffered, which turned out to be disastrous. Michał was walking around the room, clearly agitated, filmed.
He was just a hair away from the outbreak of aggression
God, was he taking something? Is he high? I started slowly and this time consciously moving towards the door.
- How could you?! He screamed.
I didn't even manage to take a few steps when the first blow fell on me. I felt warm wetness running down my chin. Blood ... I was terrified. I was afraid that I would not leave this room anymore. As Michał was about to hit another blow, someone burst inside with a bang.
- Leave her! I recognized Arek's voice.
I had nausea and spots before my eyes. Someone hugged me and lifted me up.
- You see, dear ... I won't say: I didn't say - it was Beata.
- Get out of my house! Won! Everybody! - Michał screamed.
As if something possessed him. Beata led me to the door.
"Go to the car and call the police," Arek instructed. - I'll stay with him until they come.
"Take care of yourself," I whispered.
When I left my home with my sister, I wasn't crying yet. Tears flowed as we descended the stairs, and from the apartment we heard the sounds of scuffling and arguing. I was afraid for the Ark. Can his adult rage deal with that of a young bull? Beata sat me down in the car parked in the yard.
She leaned against the mask herself and took out the phone. I was so shaken that I could barely hear bits of words and pictures. Everything was happening strangely fast - as if someone had pressed rewind on the preview in an old VHS player. After a few minutes, a police car drove into the yard. They took Michał. He was shouting something at me, but I didn't recognize the meaning of the words.
My ears were buzzing, the world was spinning around.
- Are you okay? Arek sat down in the driver's seat.
"Get me out of here," I muttered.
I spent that night in Arek's apartment.
We talked for a long time. He suggested that I take my things and move to him. So far, we have not taken it into account, because Arek lived in a small studio apartment, and I lived in a spacious three-room flat in a tenement house.
"Michal will probably be sentenced again," I sighed. - So the policeman said ...
"Maybe yes, maybe not, even if, one day, he'll go out and start causing problems again." Do you want to let him constantly poison your life? Do you want him to beat you up again? If we didn't show up, it's scary to think what he would do to you! You have to cut yourself off from him. The sooner the better.
Sad, tragic, sad, terrible, but… true. Michał has already spoiled my blood enough. He hurt me like no one else. I swore to his father and myself that I would look after him, but since he doesn't want my protection, it's time to take care of myself. I was stupid to think that he would get out of prison changed and everything would turn out to be like a fairy tale.
That night, I made the most difficult decision of my life. I decided to break with the feeling of guilt, with unreal oaths, with fixing something that I hadn't broken, with the fight for Michał with… Michał. Perhaps someday my son will miss me, maybe he will want to make peace, renew contact, then I will accept him with open arms, though on my terms.
But that's enough. Now I have to take care of myself and my life. In a small studio apartment, but safe and loved.
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