Chapter 8- Bad Habits

As I got older things got worse with my mother and me. I was thirteen when my mother took on a ‘friend’ role and she called herself the “cool mom.”

My mother was a cigarette smoker and an alcoholic. She thought she was cool because she showed me how to be cigarette smoker and let me drink alcohol. Virginia Slims, the first cigarette I smoked. My mother sat me down at our kitchen table and showed me how to inhale and exhale the smoke.

Drinking. It started with wine coolers and cheap liquor with Kool-Aid. It only took a few times of getting sick to seriously question why anyone enjoyed drinking at all. Luckily, I didn’t keep up both habits. I guess watching my mother and substitute father drunk all the time scared me. I hated who they were with alcohol and I feared that alcohol would do the same to me.

Cigarettes on the other hand, my mother bought me cartons of cigarettes and let me smoke in my own room. I became addicted quickly and I would smoke as often as I could. Every time I got into an argument with my mother or she was upset about something I watched her pick up a cigarette and I too learned to pick up those habits. For years, I could not associate anger or sadness without cigarettes. I relied on smoking to get me through everything, but it was my worst enemy.

I have nothing against smoking or drinking. Of course, smoking is bad for you and drinking a lot can be bad for you. But, what I am against is people abusing those substances. Cigarettes are not for children or teenagers who cannot understand the repercussions of smoking. My mother’s choice to encourage my smoking habit damaged me physically. After years of smoking I felt reliant on cigarettes and realized how much they were damaging my health and it was so very difficult to stop. Oh, mother.

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Thoughts 2: I Apologize

I apologize for the long lapse in writing. I have been told to share my story for a long time because others and myself know that it has the potential to help others. I have waited for years to share because I wanted to be emotionally and mentally prepared for writing and essentially re-living what I have gone through. I thought I was ready, but after some of my first chapters I felt myself feeling pretty overwhelmed.

I took a few weeks to process how it made me feel. I would just like to recognize the importance of self-care. For the first few days I just let myself cry mostly because I felt sad. Then, I took time to think about why it made me sad and prepare myself for how the rest of my chapters would potentially make me feel. Many of us have experienced trauma and it is so important to take time to process and address the feelings associated with that trauma. I do feel that I have overcome what I have gone through, but there is certainly something powerful about sharing.

I am ready to continue sharing my story. More than anything I want to be able to help and empower others. I would feel many days of sadness if I knew I could help at least one person. Mostly, that we have the ability to move past what we have gone through and live a wonderful and fulfilling life. For those who face adversity I want to provide resources a give them a better chance of succeeding. With my willingness to make a difference I will share my story. ❤

Chapter 7: I Became A Monster

So, where were we?

My mother and I had just moved states after I was severely bullied for years (Chapter 4). I was officially enrolled in the 8th grade and I felt like I was starting life with a clean slate. I will say, before we moved I did make a few friends. They liked to steal, break into old buildings, and hang out with older boys who we thought were so cool, smoke cigarettes, and be mischievous. When I was 11 years old my 15 year old boyfriend taught me how to smoke, so I fit right in with my new friends. I stole a few cars, snuck into the movies, started drinking alcohol, and I became all kinds of bad.

The pent-up fear that I had been managing was turning into anger and I was slowly becoming a delinquent. Before I started my new school I thought about how I wanted the other kids to perceive me. I chose to be scary, intimidating, and fearless. No one would ever know that I was bullied because I was the bully. I wanted everyone to be afraid of me and they were.

Not surprising, but I failed 8th grade. All those years of fighting with my mother and watching T.V. was not helping me in school. School was challenging so I wouldn’t pay attention, plus I was worried about going home to my crazy mother and who was going to be my friend. I didn’t care about school and school didn’t care about me—It was a mutual relationship.

I went to summer school, but it would not prepare me for high school. I was angry because of the issues with my mother, I was angry because I couldn’t understand the materials in school, and I was taking all my anger out through bullying. I was becoming a monster.

A lot has happened to me, but I have also hurt a lot of people in the process of navigating my life. These transition chapters give a little bit more context to what was going on in my life. Warning…

Things.are.about.to.get.crazy. in my upcoming chapters. My story is only getting started.

Chapter 6: A Layer Of Poverty

Being in poverty slips in and adds a layer of this–s**t–gets–worse to life.

Because we were poor, we lived in a poor neighborhood, where there was higher crime and violence that I was subjected to.

Because we were poor, and living in a low-income neighborhood, I went to a low-income school. Where teachers were less invested in their students and less passionate about teaching. When I was getting bullied (Chapter 4) not one teacher noticed, or at least said nothing to defend me. Teachers saw students get bullied everyday, so why help me? If I was in an affluent neighborhood do you think a teacher, principle, or parent would have stepped into help?

My school didn’t have great learning materials. It was easier for the teachers to regularly put in a 10 year old movie that we would learn absolutely nothing from. Our gym equipment was old, broken, and barely usable. The quality of low-income schools are unbelievable.

Because we were poor, my mother did not buy fresh fruits and veggies. My diet consisted of chicken nuggets and french fries, hot dogs, mac and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly. My mother didn’t know how to make anything else. Remember, I went to a low-income school, so I wasn’t getting better meals at school either. If we didn’t have money or my mother didn’t go to the store due to a mental breakdown I would just go hungry.

Today, when my stomach growls of hunger it doesn’t bother me. Often, I don’t eat more than once a day or just forget to eat at all.  It is interesting to see how the events in my past influence me today.

Because we were poor, there was no family fun activities like amusement parks, zoo’s, museums, sports, musical instruments, or vacations. All I knew as a child was chaos and more chaos. Any interests that I had went unexplored. I was worried about how to get day by day. I didn’t think or plan for the future. I just wanted to make it to the next day.

Can you imagine a child who is getting abused at home and at school, who is malnourished, and inactive trying to learn? Trying to navigate the world? Impossible.

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Chapter 5: Stuffed With Pills

I was my mothers scapegoat. It was easier to blame me then to take any responsibility for all the troubles in her life:

Lived in poverty. No job. Mental health issues. Drank and smoked. Shut out her family. And-on-and-on.

My mother has Bipolar disorder and has been heavily medicated almost her entire life. As young as I can remember she also had me taking pills for Bipolar disorder. For the first few years I never saw a doctor, she diagnosed me herself. I am telling you, those pills messed me up, in fact I think they gave me Bipolar. I say that because when I went into foster care (Chapter still to come) and I wasn’t forced to take those medications anymore I was a completely different person.

Yes, forced. It didn’t take me long to realize that my mother was giving me half of her prescribed medications when I was 8 or 9. When I became a teen she was able to get a doctor to prescribe me my own. That woman had me on every single depression medication that had ever been invented. I call my mom the master manipulator for lots of reasons, but she would do anything to keep me on those pills. Any chance I could get a hold of the pill bottles I would throw them down the toilet. When I was a teenager I found out she would slip it into my food and chocolate milk. She would buy me a gallon of chocolate milk and would put a bunch of medication in it… great idea. I was taking unequal and irregular dosages of depression medication which made me absolutely out of control.

It gets worse, when I was 14 she called my job and told them that I was not mentally stable enough to have a job, so they FIRED me. She took privileges, friends, and just about anything away from me to get me to take those pills.

Putting me on medication that I didn’t need for years damaged me. I remember when I was younger I would slam my head against the wall because the medication was so powerful it made me hallucinate. It messed with my memory and my health overall.

 

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Chapter 4: Being Bullied Was The Cherry On Top

I may not have had an attentive, nurturing mother but at least I had my two best friends.

Or so I thought.

It all happened very quickly and I am still not sure what happened to this day. I walked to the bus stop to catch the bus to school just like I did everyday and there they were my two best friends. They saw me walking up to them and immediately turned their backs toward me. I tried speaking to them, but they both stared straight ahead and ignored me. Was this happening?

They were shutting me out.

They didn’t want to be my friend anymore.

From that moment on, those two girls would spend the next few weeks telling everyone in our class to hate me. So everyone did.

At one point some classmates invited me over to their house for a party. It turns out that I was the highlight of the party. They invited me over to have a boy classmate punch me in the face and throw me on the ground. All of them

left me there

on the ground

alone.

Just when I thought things were as bad as they could get… they got worse. I couldn’t walk down the school hallways without someone pushing me. A group of girls chased me down and tried to cut off my hair. I was taunted and made fun of every.single.day. My mother was to busy drinking to reach out to the principle, or even ask me if I was ok. The principle told me that they were just being kids and they would stop eventually. Nothing was done and school became UNBEARABLE. So, I stopped going to school and no one even noticed.

I would sit at home all day watching Jerry Springer and do absolutely nothing. Once, I tried to walk to the market to get some snacks, but a group of six girls ended up spotting me and they chased me down. I ran-and-ran-and-ran-and-ran-and-ran until they couldn’t find me. I hid in the woods for a while and cried until I felt like it was safe to walk back home.

After about a year I started at a new alternative school. I did NOT fit in. I started getting bullied there as well. I was awkward and my social skills made it hard for me to not only make friends, but keep them. I begged my mother to move every-single-day. I couldn’t go to school. I couldn’t go outside. I couldn’t escape my mother. I was miserable. Three years after the initial bullying instance we finally moved to a different state. My life was so bad we had to move STATES.

I had no caring mother, no friends, no love. When I started getting bullied I lost everything that was positive in my life. Bullying was the cherry on top of my miserable ice cream sundae of a life.

 

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Chapter 3: It Started Off Bad

I was two months premature and only weighed three pounds when I was born, but I made it. Since birth, my mother never let me forget that she almost died bringing me into this world, ironic isn’t it (you’ll have to read Chapter 2)?

I was born with a birthmark on my face. A birth mark so big a person could see it even if they weren’t trying. So no adult could resist commenting and no child could miss the opportunity to tease me.

I guess what I am trying to say is that since the moment I was born things were tough.

My biological father was still in the picture until I was about two. Clearly, my father leaving wasn’t my fault, but my mother would spend the next 18 years blaming me:

“You were a horrible baby. Your father left because of you.”

“Your ugly face made your father leave, no one loves an ugly baby.”

“If you were just a good girl maybe your father would have stayed.”

All of my her problems were my fault. As a one-year-old I should have known better then to be born ugly and misbehave. What was I thinking? (this is sarcasm)

BUT, think about it. When you are a child and your mother is saying terrible things toward you, how does a child know how to compartmentalize something like that? Emotional and verbal abuse can tear children apart. It breaks down their spirit, securities, and how much they value themselves.

As a child I never believed my mother loved me. I am still not sure if she does. What I do know is nothing that she ever said about me was true.

 

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