The Last Black Unicorn(9)

I was eighteen. To survive, I had to quit comedy.

Family and Foster Care

The Car Wreck

Where do I even start with my family?

I should probably start with the car accident. That’s when everything changed.

Before the car accident, my mom had it together. She had two small businesses going, she was a manager at a U.S. post office, and she owned two houses on the same street.

At that point, she was married to my stepfather. I’ll call him StepFather. He sucked. He was always cheating on her, but it didn’t matter to her. She worshiped the ground he walked on. Whatever mistakes he made, she didn’t care. He knocked up one of the employees of her businesses. She argued with him, but she didn’t leave him. She just loved that man. He could never do wrong, even when he did a lot of wrong.

She had three kids by him, all younger than me. I was the oldest. I felt like she loved them way more because she loved their dad. She didn’t love my dad. He left when I was real young.

I was around seven when StepFather knocked up my mom’s employee, so he and my mom moved us all out to Pomona, and then to Colton. She was still trying to work in Marina del Rey after she had my sister. It was like she was working the graveyard shift. She had to drop us off at my grandmother’s every day. This one day when I was eight I told her she didn’t have to do it.

Tiffany: “Mom, let me babysit. I know how to make bottles. I know how to change diapers. We’re going to go to bed in about two hours. I know how to make hot dogs, rice. I know how to cook everything. We’re about to go to bed, and when you get home we’ll be waking up.”

Mom: “I’m running late. Okay.”

She never came back.

Two days went by. She did not come home. StepFather didn’t come home, either. No one came home. StepFather used to come home every night, but he didn’t come home at all.

I called my grandma, and my grandma said she hadn’t heard from my mom. By the third day, my grandma came out to where we were. She called StepFather’s auntie and his auntie said:

Auntie: “Oh, she’s in the hospital in Pomona. She had a car accident on the 10 Freeway. You didn’t know?”

Grandma: “Why didn’t nobody tell me? How do you know and I don’t know?”

Auntie: “Well, StepFather knew.”

StepFather knew, and he didn’t do nothing.

They wouldn’t let me see my mom for two months. The accident was real bad. Her head was open and all this stuff. They didn’t tell me the details, they just looked at me and told me my mama would be fine. I would always think, If she’s gonna be fine, why can’t I see her?

When we finally got to see her, I was not prepared. She looked like a monster. Her eyes were black, and she had bandages across her head. She was swollen. Her whole body was swollen.

She didn’t look like my mama.

She had to learn to walk again. And talk, and eat, and everything. She did not remember any of my brothers and sisters. She just remembered me, and she was saying things like:

Mom: “You look just like my daughter, Tiffany. You should meet my daughter. She’s only three.”

Tiffany: “I am Tiffany. I am your daughter.”

It kind of made me feel really good, because I didn’t necessarily like my brothers and sisters that much. I felt like she loved them way more than she loved me.

When she was in the hospital for three months, learning how to do all that stuff again, me and my siblings were with our grandmother.

When she got out of the hospital, me and my siblings went back to live with her. Everything was totally different after that.

I had to grow up fast. I taught her how to tie her shoe, like she had taught me how to tie my shoe. I taught her how to put her pants on, like she had taught me to put pants on. I was showing her how to make hot dogs like she showed me how to make hot dogs. Everything she had taught me, I was teaching her back.

That was bad enough, but after that accident, oh my God, she would say the worst things to me. I felt like all of the inner thoughts that she used to have before the accident, but she never said out loud, would all come out. She’d be like:

Mom: “Oh, you look like your ugly-ass daddy. Oh, God, where’s my husband at? I’m so sick of looking at your ugly ass.”

I guess that is common for people with a brain injury. They talk crazy, and all kinds of mean stuff comes out.

It was pretty clear that my mama did not like me. She did not. She loved me but she did not like me. I think it was because I reminded her of my father.

Mom: “You look like your father’s ugly ass. I hate him.”

All like that, all the time, until I was twelve. Constantly telling me I’m ugly, I’m stupid, I’m not worth nothing. I just felt stupid and not important, but I loved this woman so much. I’d just do whatever, ’cause I loved her. She was the first person I’d ever loved.

And now, after this car wreck, she hated me. She even said that to me at times.

Tiffany: “Mom, how are you feeling?”

Mom: “I hate you.”

It took her maybe two months to really get acclimated with my brothers and sisters, so during that time I was nurturing them. I was nurturing everybody.

And because of this, I was doing really bad in school.

My grandma, though, she would come and help. And my great-granny would come, and they would help. My grandma would always be like:

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