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 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 2: That’s Not The Way To Manage Things

PART 1

This is one of the most difficult chapters I will write because it is the hardest to admit.

A few years ago I met my biological father. He’s not an important part of the chapter, but what I learned from him is – he helped me learn more about my mother.

Both my mother and father have some serious control issues. When my mother was pregnant my father wanted to move to another town a few hours away because of a job opportunity, but my mother wanted to stay in their current house because she liked the location. Did I mention they had control issues? My father decided to move to the other town despite how my mother felt. One night my mother called my father and said she was going to kill herself, which forced my father to drive back. My father said he never drove as fast as he did that night, and by the time he got there the police and his parents had arrived. My mother was fine and my father moved back.

When I was young it was common for me to hear “your mother tried to kill herself.” The first time I remember hearing those words was when I was about 5 or so, after I walked into the bathroom and saw my mother laying on the floor vomiting. My substitute father (read Chapter 1) pulled me away and shortly after the medics came and took her away.

Once when I was seven, I came home from school and a police officer was standing outside of my home. The police officer asked, “do you live here?” I nodded and he said, “your mom is not well, and…” the police officer was interrupted by my mother who was screaming out of the window: “SHOW ME THE MONEY,” “I WANT TO FUCKING DIE, YOU WANT ME TO FUCKING DIE,” “COME ON JUST GIVE ME THE MONEY, GIVE ME THE MONEY.”

The police officer looked at me and said, “Do you have somewhere you can go?”

As I got older my mother would occasionally drink too much and take too many pills. She would be in and out of the psychiatric hospital, and I became unaffected by the words, “your mother almost died.”

My mother taught me that trying to commit suicide was the only way to handle problems and cope. At a young age I internalized that dying was the only way to handle difficult feelings. Life truly felt meaningless.

 

PART 2

I was 10 the first time I tried to kill myself because I was being severely bullied (Full story in Chapter 4). Life was loosing meaning fast. I went into my hall closet and tried to drink bleach and other household cleaners. Before anything serious happened I got sick, but I never went to the hospital. After that I regularly tried to choke myself with a belt or a scarf hoping one day I wouldn’t wake up. As I got older and things got tough I tried it all; pills, hard drugs, strangulation, running in front of moving cars, driving recklessly, cutting myself, trying to overdoes on water, alcohol, sitting to close to the edge on rooftops, slamming my head against the wall until I would blackout, and thinking about all the possible ways I could die . I felt desperate, out of control, and numb because all I thought about was how I would die.

Eventually, when I got older I met someone that helped me realize death wasn’t a way to handle my issues. Most importantly this person gave me patience to work out those emotions. Hugged me when I felt like dying, never judged me when I felt like giving up, and loved me unconditionally. This person gave me what my mother should have. However, 18 years of thinking about dying made those habits hard to break, it took me years to stop wanting to die and to start wanting to live.

Without this person, I wouldn’t be alive today.

 

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