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 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 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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Chapter 1: You Should Be A Stripper

I was 9 years old when my mother said that I should pursue stripping as a career. “It is the only way you will make a lot of money,” she told me. Caregivers influence the way their children feel and think about themselves. I didn’t know any better at the time, but that comment changed the way I thought about my worth and guided the choices I made as I got older. That statement haunted me.

Stripper.

My mother met him when I was three, I called him my substitute father. Not really my father, but when my mother overdosed on pills or was having a mental breakdown he would pick me up. My mother and him would do drugs and drink. When they were out of their minds it was the worst. If I asked for something my substitute father would say, “well what’s in it for me?” as he stared at my chest. Little by little I began to feel my worth slip away and it started from my caregivers.

Stripper.

After a few years my mother didn’t want to be with my substitute father anymore, but he knew she couldn’t take care of me on her own. So he stayed in my life to help take care of me. After they split my mother started seeing random men. Sometimes my mother would disappear for days, but I am not sure what was worse – her leaving or the men coming over. When the men came over my mother would lock me out of the house. It was almost like a do not disturb sign on the hotel room door. A locked door meant her and her boyfriend were busy getting drunk and having sex, so they didn’t want to be disturbed. Except, it was where I lived and I had nowhere else to go.

Stripper.

My mother’s behavior with men shaped my relationships with others. Can you imagine? The impression of sexuality that I had at 13? How I thought I was suppose to use my body and interacted with partners or men who wanted something sexual from me… How I valued sex and my body as a tool to get what I want and nothing more, all because my mother said I should be a stripper.

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I’m Finally Ready To Share My Story

My story is a tumultuous one and my stories evoke heartache and pain. I want to share experiences with others so some know they are not alone and for others to realize what some are capable of.  I have chosen to move forward from my past it will never be separated from the person I am and will be. Day by day, week by week, I will write to try to make sense of who I am by what I have gone through.

The chapters will not be in order and will be written randomly. None of the chapters that I will share hold any more value over the others, but at this time in my life I am starting to realize what and how things affect me and how they relate to my past.  I am constantly questioned about how I could still be standing after all that I have gone through. Honestly, it’s not easy but it is possible. I want to provide a space where my words can make others feel hopeful and strong. I would like to instill the will to be compassionate and understanding toward others. We are all capable of making a difference and that’s what I hope to do with this blog.

***Please read the ‘about’ section before reading my chapters.

**Trigger warning the content of my blog my trigger memories of adverse experiences that some of you may have had. If so, please remember to self-care. Take a moment and remember where you are and how you have overcome it. Try not to ignore the way you are feeling instead take time to acknowledge it.  I will admit that sometimes I cry when I am writing because I remember what I felt while going through those things and it’s sad. But, it is a healthy cry and it helps me cope and appreciate everything that I have now.

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