It is a difficult task to dissect the relationships in any given family, yet there are some red flags when supposedly someone has to intervene, and has to help. Here’s Angel. He’s nineteen. He’s a cook at a restaurant.
“The first time I saw my dad do something in my eyes horrific was when I was I believe between six and eight. My dad had went over to his friend Julian’s house. Julian and my dad despise their neighbor. As my dad’s walking outside the neighbor pours outside. They’ve gotten into an argument, my dad gets in, he tells me to put a seatbelt on, I put my seatbelt on. My dad turns on the car and runs him over. Backs up over him and runs him over one more time. He looks over at me and says ‘if you tell your mother I’m gonna fucking kill you.’
“My dad was always selling either cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana along with having his day job. Growing up from what I can remember from my adolescence is my father coming in and out of the house with people that you would not consider good people: drug dealers, people who offer protection to people for money. When they weren’t there my dad would usually get extremely angry and he would either beat me or my mother, never really my sister though; but eventually it changes once he started using drugs himself.
“He was in a military for a year or two but through my adolescence kept up that facade and acted as if he didn’t do anything that he was doing. He of course was saying he doesn’t want me to follow his path and that is why he’s trying bringing me up the way he would have if he stuck with the military: cutting my hair short, making sure I was always home at certain times, enforcing not to who hang out with, what not to do. When he got out of military he was honorably discharged. After that he left, they gave him medication for an extended period of time which supposed to be for two weeks of morphine. The doctor accidentally gave him two months of morphine. So by the time he was done with his prescriptions, he was hooked. That is pretty much when it all started going downhill.
“When he didn’t have his pills – what he constantly smoked was crack. If he didn’t have that then he started taking stuff that belonged to us, pawning it and then going to get money so he’s able to buy more. Me and my dad have fought for multiple times and they’ve usually ended in me and him severely injured. It pent up a lot of anger. I hated him for very many reasons but it also in turn made me hate myself because I figured, I am the offspring of that, so it got me to think that I am no better than he is.
“I don’t let anyone to get close, I don’t ever see a family anymore and I feel like solitude is probably the best thing for me. I’ve learned I can’t trust anybody in life. When people say: ‘Oh, why do you hate life? Why do you try to kill yourself?’ You don’t understand, you haven’t gone what I’ve gone through.
“By the time I was seventeen he was already handing me I think it was like half pound of marijuana, telling me to start selling. After a while I started doing it, started selling marijuana and I was making a substantial amount of money. I looked in my closet, saw the safe, saw the gun, saw the weed, saw the money, and I thought about it. I’m doing exactly what he is. I’m going down the same exact path. That was the day I realized I’m not doing that anymore. I finished what I had to finish, paid off what I had to pay off, and then I was done.
“He was basically a cancer in my life and I needed to cut it out. As soon as I turned eighteen I got out of that house, started doing my thing for myself instead of living there and going through that every day. I can find a better life than what was given to me before. The saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree can’t be that right. I mean in some cases it has to be it’s very true but it’s only if you let it be true.”
listen to Open Conversation episodes also every Tuesday on KJZZ 91.5, NPR member station in Phoenix, Arizona, a bit after 9:30 am PST.
recorded, produced by Regina Revazova
note: this content is intended for listening. This transcript might not be accurate. We advise to listen to the podcast to get full range of emotional highlights and other story elements.