Mami and my stepfather are arguing more often. I hear their spats from my bedroom and want to hide in my closet, shrinking in a corner like a 7-year-old that is scared of The Boogie Man. I hate conflict. I can’t stand the yelling and the slamming of doors.

It reminds me too much of my childhood.

Mami and Papi also argued. Sometimes violently. Broken dishes. Speakers out of a four-story window to land on the concrete below. Their arguing was almost always fueled by my father’s drinking and philandering ways. I often wonder if the abuse was ever physical. If he ever hit Mami. If Papi did, she managed to shield the bruises. Or maybe I’ve chosen to forget.

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Now, my stepfather drinks. He drinks daily. He drinks to get drunk, obliterated. I wonder what he’s trying to escape or numb. He blacks out and doesn’t remember his obnoxious behavior. How he walked into the kitchen while I was in the bathroom and ate the slice of pizza I had just purchased. How he fell in the bathtub. How Mami slipped, and he walked past her instead of helping her up. Now, he is leaving Mami. In a few months, he is moving to the Dominican Republic. He will live in his dream home that he built from scratch. Mami refuses to go. She won’t leave her children and granddaughter in New York. He is leaving, and I feel relieved. I want him to leave.

Seeing Mami repeating this cycle is draining me emotionally.

I hear them battle, and I hold back my tears. I see his blood shot eyes and want to scream, though I hate screaming. At noon, I watch as he sips vodka from his green cup. Every day, I feel trapped. I want to shake her and ask, Why do you take this? But it won’t help. Though I want to run away and take Mami wherever I go, her life is hers, and my life is mine. I have decided to move out on April 1st, a couple of weeks shy of my 34th birthday, but I am still struggling with my guilt. I just hope I don’t repeat her cycle of domestic abuse, if only to have a shot at happiness.