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 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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