Rick's death was bittersweet. Finally, I was no longer under his thumb, a victim of his abuse, and my friends and family were safe from him. That was a huge relief. Yet, I felt bad because I did not feel sad about his death.

My confusion was conflated when people called him a saint at his funeral. I wondered why I saw Rick as a monster, while these other people thought he was a good person. I thought there must be something wrong with me that I saw the worst in him, and no good at all.

Those mixed emotions caused me to sometimes run off and cry in the middle of playing with my friends, but luckily my friends cared enough about me that they tried to understand and support me no matter what. Even when I didn't know what I wanted from them, they could ask my lifelong friend Mary what to do, and she always knew the best thing to do. I don't know what I would have done without such amazing friends.

My life was immediately better after Rick's death. I could do whatever I wanted on weekends, when usually he would try to schedule my visitation on weekends when I wanted to go to Girl Scout camp or birthday parties. My summers were free, too.

The second biggest change in my life that brought me freedom was my decision to start homeschooling. It took a lot of begging and convincing to get my mother to go along with it, and my dad thought it was a horrible idea but went along with my mother. My therapist thought it would be awful for me.

She was wrong. When I started homeschooling, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. My brother was homeschooled, too, and we didn't have to do the stressful morning routine of getting ready for school anymore. When we first started, we did a lot of research at the library and read a lot of books, but even that was less stressful and more effective than the public school system. We learned more in a fraction of the time than we ever did in public school.

As we got better adjusted to homeschooling, we got more relaxed, and my education was almost entirely self-directed. I just had to teach myself the things that it was typical for someone on my grade level to learn. In high school, I had to complete the requirements for a high school diploma. I graduated Valedictorian with a 4.0 grade point average. My mom wasn't going easy on me. I was an academic perfectionist, and I loved learning, and homeschooling just let me delve into the subjects I was interested in more deeply.

The End

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