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Photo by PexelsI’m just your Average thirty-something mom and wife residing in commonplace suburbia with my husband, our three kids, two guinea pigs, and a cat. I love coffee more than Lorelai Gilmore and music is my all-time favorite kind of soul food.
My life today is much different than it was growing up. As a child, I always felt very alone and different compared to the other kids. There was a time when my only friend was myself, my cousins, or a pen. When I wrote, I felt like I was less heavy, and for a while, it seemed to help me release some of the pent-up feelings I was suppressing.
I can remember wishing that one day I would make it out of this life and grow up to live a much better one. Well, today; I do. But, unfortunately, It wasn’t without gaining a few scars along the way.
Some of them are still open wounds, some are still healing and others have healed. Luckily, scars pave the way for some pretty interesting stories.
So I am going to share some of mine with you.
When I was a child, I was very inquisitive. I enjoyed knowing everything and so I asked a lot of questions. I was eager to understand the why’s of my world and make sense of it because none of it did.
My questions differed from the average child’s. They didn’t involve the sky, the airplanes, the terrifying thunderstorms, or whether the earth was flat or round. Instead, I asked questions like, where is my mom and when is she coming back?Who are these people and why are they watching me so long? Is my mother black? Come to find out, that woman I wondered about was my father’s partner’s wife and for a while, I thought she was my mom. I also couldn’t understand why my family was broken or what was more important to my mother than me. I guess you can say I grew up with some serious abandonment issues amongst many others.
I grew up with parents of two different backgrounds. My mother’s side is catholic, Italian, French, and some Irish. My father comes from a Jewish background. Not only that, but for a while, because my father was adopted, he didn’t really know what he was until recently. Come to find out I am Russian of all things with a German last name. How confusing is that?
Well, it was quite confusing for me to say the least when religion was involved but I digress.
In retrospect, I only have a few memories of my mother when I was a young child. My father was a police officer, and my mother was and is an addict. So he took the role of being my sole provider, and because of the long hours that he worked; I hardly saw him. So, for most of my childhood, I was raised by my loving yet, dysfunctional grandparents who often screamed a lot who were probably too old to be raising a child.
Luckily, I had a cool aunt growing up that always let me come over to be around my cousins. But, at the end of the day when I went back home, I was miserable.
By the age of six, my father found out that he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
I was with him in the doctor’s office when they diagnosed him. Being that young, I had no idea what cancer even was. I just knew that it had to have been serious for us to drive back to my grandparent’s house right after. My father was in tears relaying the bad news; while I sat there confused.
I began asking more of my questions. What is cancer?Is daddy going to die? Their silence and sad faces told me everything I needed to know.
The fear of my father dying at the age of six was something that crippled me daily. I didn’t want to leave his side. Yet, I wished that I hadn’t had to see him go through the phases of chemo and radiation. That was a lot for a young child to witness.
I hardly ever saw my dad cry, except when I cried or when something was really wrong. So I knew, this was not normal. This was serious.
During this time, I was living with my father in a townhouse only a few minutes away from my grandparents’. But late at night, it was only him and I. #HomeTeam is what we called it.
Late one night, I awoke to the sound of him crying and throwing up. When I went to go see what was wrong, he yelled for me to go away. That memory is one that has been imprinted on the back of my mind.
Today, as a parent myself, I understand that he didn’t want me to see him in that state. And, I think I had grown resentful of my mother for not being there. Because a part of me thinks, I should have had a much different childhood than I had. Rather than playing with legos or barbies, I was taking care of my sick father.
The next day I was off to school where I would be incessantly bullied by a few of the boys in my class. And, I am going to say this now before I forget – stop telling your daughters that when a boy bullies her that it means they like them. For the love of the pope, please cut that shit out. That is only setting your daughter up for failure in future relationships. Anyway, again; I digress.
These kids were ruthless. They’d say some pretty awful things. And, I’m not talking about “yo mama jokes” either. I am talking about some straight-up cruel and twisted shit that wasn’t funny at all. Like, you’re so ugly that’s why your mama left you. And, I’m like okay Ryan can you please leave me alone.
Needless to say, I was a big wimp as a kid. I pretended to be brave in class and would just go home and cry some days. Other times, I would just convince myself that they probably had shittier childhoods. But, those days when it hurt the most were because I felt as though life was punching me in the face from all angles and I just couldn’t catch a break. This went on from 3rd to 7th grade. Boom! Life wins by technical Knockout! Child Down!
Somewhere along the way, I decided that I wasn’t going to allow anyone to walk on me ever again. Until I was in a school where I was the minority and it got a hell of a lot worse.
So bad in fact, that the first school seemed a lot better even if the kids were calling me names and talking about my mom or making fun of my old grandparents.
This time, it got physical and for a period of time, people in school took advantage of the fact that I didn’t know how to fight or wouldn’t try to fight back. Eventually, I grew sick and tired of it and started acting out.
I didn’t tell anyone that I was getting bullied. I just kept it to myself like everything else. But the everyday nagging and teasing were like birds pecking away at me.
One day, I remember sitting in my father’s car, holding his 9mm contemplating bringing it to school to shoot every person that ever harmed me. I was almost that kid. But luckily, I had a change of heart.
Later on, I jumped around from school to school. Until finally, my father decided to take me out and homeschool me.
At the time, I was in my first “real” relationship with a boy (you know how that goes). I was thirteen years old and I thought I was so in love.
Nine months later we broke up and I found myself in another relationship.
I was only fourteen.
This relationship, I believe set the tone for all of the relationships that I continued to have later on in life. It was toxic, abusive, and extremely unhealthy. For the next ten months, I would go to his house every day instead of my grandparents and face a hell I felt too weak to get out of.
After being consumed by fear and experiencing getting my ass beat almost every day I didn’t feel safe telling anyone about it. Not even my father who at the time was now cured of cancer and back to work as a Deputy Sheriff.
This kid that I called my boyfriend was much bigger than me and a few years older. I was scared shitless of him and instead of fighting back or asking for help I took matters into my own hands and thought the solution was to run away.
After running away so often, I found myself in more trouble, more often. I was using drugs and on my way to becoming someone’s cell-mate. I wasn’t headed on the right path
In desperation, my father sent me away upstate to a program that was advertised as a boarding school for troubled teens. Turns out that the pamphlet he had shown me was nothing more than a false advertising scheme to convince parents that they were sending their children to a good school. But I wouldn’t call it a school at all.
In order to get me out of the environment that I was in, my father didn’t see any other options available for me other than to send me far away from it.
When I got there, it felt more like a cultish prison. A place where they smile when they greet you while you’re standing next to your parents and then wipe the smile away once the doors close and they leave you behind.
I slept in a narrow hallway with bright fluorescent lights. Hands where they could see them. There were many rules and levels and it felt impossible to achieve. Level’s one through six to be exact and in no way was it a cakewalk.
I didn’t get to see my father or my grandparents. I wasn’t allowed phone calls, and you were only allowed to write your parents once a week. If your letter looked more like a grievance, it wouldn’t be sent. There was no private path of communication with parents and if anything bad happened to you, good luck getting it through the grapevine.
Within my twenty-two-month drawn-out stay here, my grandfather died. I wasn’t able to say goodbye or attend his funeral. Which still bothers me.
I guess you can say that this experience is one of those unhealed scars that I mentioned above.
Many people don’t understand what it was like to be there. It seems like only those that actually were there can truly understand.
There was no talking allowed. And, we were always on Code Silence. The food was shit. The “dorms” as they called them, were moldy and it was all around unhealthy living conditions. All for a whopping $40,000 a year, your child can be modified to be a submissive, institutionalized robot that will come home fixed with PTSD and find great difficulty in expressing oneself. Your welcome!
I feel like that should have been in the pamphlet but it wasn’t.
once I left upstate, I was brought home.
I was a robot. Don’t get me wrong. I was happy to be home, but I was terrified. My father threw me right into a large high school and let’s just say, I didn’t adjust well. Not one bit. After about one day, I made up a story about a girl offering me marijuana when really, I just couldn’t find ways to adapt in this wide populated school. It was a huge shift.
I remember one day, after only being home for less than a month, my father yelled at me for leaving a knife in the sink. He threatened to send me away again and I felt so scared. I slept with my door locked, with my light on the entire time that I was home. The feeling of being safe was completely absent and I grew so resentful of my father. I didn’t feel like there was any way he would ever understand what happened to us there. The way it felt, the pain. It was a lot to translate into words; words that I didn’t know how to share. So, rather than being open, honest, and vulnerable, I did what I’ve always done – keep it to myself.
I felt hopeless and alone in my world. I didn’t think that anyone could understand me even if I tried to open up to them.
After the fear of being sent back, I ran away. I didn’t trust my father or believe that he wouldn’t have me shipped back on the first flight upstate. So I continued to run until I couldn’t run anymore.
After many times of running and a nice two-week-long stay at a children’s psych unit, my father told me I’d be coming home. Unbeknownst to me, that would be the last time I’d speak to my father for the next year.
The next morning, before all the other kids, I was brought downstairs with all of my belongings. The minute I sat down, the nurse that woke me up told the people at the front desk that “they would be coming” for me soon.
I knew at that moment, that my dad was in fact, not coming.
After meeting the two transporters that would legally kidnap me and take me to my new home in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica I swore that I would never forgive my dad again.
After fourteen months, I was shipped off two months before being two months shy of eighteen with a group of other boys and girls of all ages to Lucedale Mississippi.
That place was actually fun, and such a far stretch from the previous places I had been.
Once my time was up, I was on my way out. It was my time. I no longer had to worry about being sent anywhere EVER again. For me, that was true freedom. But, the thought of staying home made me sick to my stomach. I didn’t want to be anywhere near my father despite my silence about the pain I felt so I left to go live with a girl I met in Jamaica and took a Greyhound three hours West to Tampa where I would reside for the next five years.
Some people say that the true gateway to addiction is trauma. A part of me believes this to be so true.
Once I got home, I didn’t know how to function in a normal society. Quickly, I found myself unprepared to handle life and the idea of being an adult terrified me. I was not an adult. I was still a kid. My life had felt like it had been on pause from the moment I was sent away at fourteen. Those four months that I was home didn’t seem like a long enough time-lapse to be boosted back into normalcy and on the mend of being reprogrammed.
When it came down to education, all the work I had done in those schools was unaccredited and I felt like such a failure that I couldn’t even pass my GED. How could I? I wasn’t being taught anything by anyone. In jamaica, they had torn textbooks and the supply of them was limited. So, we either got to a book first or journaled.
After giving up on myself when it came to my diploma, I gave up on the dream of ever wearing a cap and gown, with my parents in the crowd cheering me on.
That’s when I decided to be a stripper.
For the next ten years of my life, I would be partying away my life for a good price. Little did I know that I would pay a large lump sum fee of priceless values that went willowing away not to mention, form habits to the kind of drugs that I swore against once upon a time.
This is where the obvious symptoms of my addiction were born and this is where it progressed.
After finding my way out of that lifestyle, years later; no thanks to my own will but the help of another addict in recovery, I am going to tell you that life today is still a healing process. Recovering from the wreckage of the past, that I created is always going to be an uphill journey and sometimes, if I make it, it can be a battle.
The one thing that I am grateful to see that I couldn’t see before is that had any of that happened any differently, I wouldn’t know what I know now and I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at today in life.
Which is, of course, clean and living a much better way of life. Not to mention, that as much as this might seem like a woe is me post, I assure you that through these pieces of events that I have shared, I do see my part in each and every single event that took place in my life and I have my sponsor to thank for that.
Even though there’s much healing to be done and much work to do, I want you to know that through my journey I will be here to tell you all about it.
I’m not a professional of any kind, but I do have life experience and I think that’s priceless.
At the end of the day, I’m just another addict trying to get another day clean and recover from the disease of addiction.
My past doesn’t define who I am, but it was definitely paved the path that led me to the life I have today and for that, I will give it the respect it deserves.
My entire life I have always wanted to write, I never dreamed of being an addict though, nor did I expect to be a writer, writing about being an addict but, here I am.
In my quests to find myself in the writing world and find my voice, I witnessed firsthand, the stigma surrounding Addiction. This made me very sad. I realized that we live in a society where it was easier to admit to being an alcoholic than an addict, addicted to drugs.
In my pursuits to be heard, I found myself ignored because of my name.
A fire was started.
Rather than allowing myself to grow defeated, I became inspired to help break the stigma that the old lie “once an addict, always an addict” is dead and we do recover.
Not only that, but I remember what it was like being new, being a mother, and being pregnant with my 3rd child, and having to make a decision to stop using and having no one to talk to except for my husband.
Most people would think that would be an easy decision to make, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t easy getting clean, and it wasn’t easy raising two kids while being new in recovery as well as pregnant with my first recovery baby (as I’d like to call him).
Life shows up and shit gets hard.
So that’s why I’m here; to talk about the hard stuff rather than smoke it.
If you’ve stuck with me until the end of this. I am grateful for your patience and love. I wanted to open up and share a little bit about my life before recovery, and the scars that I carry as a reminder; that sometimes we have to look back in order to help others along the way, but that doesn’t mean that we should take the steps backward from the direction of which we came.
This is my fight. This is my life. This is my truth. I hope it helps at least one person. And if you’re here, I hope you find solace in knowing that you’re not the only one.
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