Parenting with PTSD …

I love how becoming a mother to my daughter has forced me to grow in ways I never would have let myself grow. Some changes I was more than ready for and others I would rather not face because it is scary; and if weren’t for my daughter, I would likely run away from the more difficult parts. Ensuring her well-being has forced me to undergo such painful change and finally confront the demons I have held inside for so long.

I always knew that I’d endured physical, verbal, and sexual abuse at a very young age by family members and friends and for that reason, I didn’t try to think back to childhood very often in life. I spent years explaining my story of abuse and abandonment to therapists for it to eventually become like a story I once read rather than the truth of what happened.

I hoped that becoming a mother would move me even further along in my recovery, by providing me the chance to end the dysfunctional and abusive cycles that had diseased my family tree. Instead, once I became a mother, I was thrown into mental and physical chaos marked by a constant state of anxiety. And as I started paying closer attention to what exactly was triggering me, I came to the realization that it was the most basic acts of parenting  that were causing my pain.

I was never warned that living with CPTSD would be something else I would have to learn to manage when I became a new mom. My primary care doctor and OBGYN both took a social history from me at my initial visits, and my chart held the secret that from the age of 2 to the age of 7, I was sexually abused and even during parts of my teenage life. My records briefly outlined the sexual and domestic violence I had witnessed and endured and the abandonment I experienced from both of my biological parents. Yet that is where my secrets stayed; it never came up in any of the discussions I had with these providers as I entered parenthood.

I didn’t just hide my pain from my doctors; I was too ashamed to talk to even those closest to me about what was happening. I was afraid friends would judge me, my husband would doubt me, and my doctors would have to report my inability to be a “good” parent to authorities. I never felt so alone in my life. But I carried on, leaving clues for no one that inside, I was crumbling.

I mothered through the physical pain, mental anguish, and a broken spirit until, finally, I heard a whisper in my head that would help me begin to confront what I was feeling, and heal: “you cannot become your mother, there has to be a solution.”

For children, giving and receiving affection is paramount, and disciplining is necessary. As a survivor who was denied such basic care as a child, or who only knows of such acts in association with abuse, this can cause serious anxiety, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, and chronic pain.

A parent experiencing frequent triggers, without assistance in connecting the trigger (the child or acts of parenting) with CPTSD, may revert back to methods that kept them safe and in control when they were younger — fight, flight, and freeze. These coping mechanisms that helped keep the survivor alive while enduring the abuse may now lead to unhealthy behaviors such as such as addictions, re-victimization, or poor parent/child attachment.

After experiencing trauma, some people develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many times it’s because the person didn’t have the chance or the skills to healthfully process their experience. A person who has Complex-PTSD essentially has a brain that is chronically wired for stress and operates in constant survival mode.

Until I had my daughter, I knew that my life was like a roller coaster with really high happy moments, and insane low moments. But, I had no idea that my past was still effecting my present. Motherhood came so naturally to me. Once my daughter was born the maternal instincts kicked right in. I was filled with love, adoration, and stability.

Slowly with time I began to deteriorate mentally and I knew the cause of my deterioration was due to a dark place inside me that I’d never dealt with and it was rearing its ugly head. Looking back, I know that being a parent is what brought out in me that which I refused to look at when I was only living for myself. This was the most difficult part of change and growth. I had no idea it was coming either and I was was not prepared.

As my daughter grew from being an infant and became a toddler (the dreaded age I was at the time my abuse had started), I started having a lot of anxiety about her well-being, intense nightmares, anger and hostility, and severe depression. Her age is a giant trigger for the past that I’d stuffed down. I watched my daughter with grief for my own childhood. I knew that I’d do anything to protect her. How could my my biological mother and sperm donor of a biological father let such abuse happen to me? Deep rooted anger toward my parents began to simmer beneath the surface. My life slowly crumbled right before my eyes.

Flashbacks and random mood swings flooded my mind and I began to feel out of touch with the present reality. There were times that I had flew into an intense rage because I was being pulled in every direction between being a full-time manager at work, being a full-time wife, and a full-time mother of a rambunctious toddler who needed me to be present. I was not emotionally prepared for everything life was throwing at me.

Dealing with a tiny screaming dictator on evenings when I felt emotionally drained from a night filled with terrifying nightmares, then a day of panic attacks and flashbacks, would send my exhausted body and mind into fight or flight mode. I would yell at my daughter to stop screaming. Instantly I would feel this overwhelming guilt and sadness. I never would want to hurt my child emotional or physically. But I constantly had this anger and rage flowing through my body, but for reasons I did not understand.

After screaming at my daughter I would run into another room and close the door just so that my daughter couldn’t witness her mother break down and cry. I’d just lay on the floor or the bed and stare off into space for several minutes until I could bring myself back to the present. Then an overwhelming wave of guilt would suddenly take over. I do not want my daughter to see this side of me. I did not want her to know I was hurting so deeply. I could not rob her of the innocence and thoughts of this perfect world children create in their minds. Once calm I would walk out and hug and kiss my daughter and remind her that mommy loves her so much.

Being a parent with CPTSD is daunting. It’s heartbreaking because your past robs you of your innocence and you are forced to grow with this shadow of your past lingering over you. Having CPTSD will rob your family of the present and the happiness in it. Dealing with life day to day not knowing what is going to trigger you and when is emotionally exhausting. You can’t always be aware of what is going to switch on your brain’s panic switch and you always have to be ready for it. This is the most daunting part and you have to be patient with yourself and never give up. It’s absolutely necessary to face your fears head on and keep growing until one day you hopefully outgrow the effects that your past has had on you

My biggest fears are that I will become my biological mother. That I will be able to protect my daughter from the world and the reality of all the hurt and pain that is out there. It’s my responsibility to keep getting help and treatment for the past that continues to haunt me.

I created this website and this blog to help me get my fears and struggles out. It is much easier for me to put my emotions into words online or on paper than it is for me to say them out loud. Perhaps because saying it out loud would force me to come to terms with half of the lemons life has handed me. So here I am turning those lemons into lemonade the best way I know how, writing my journey and inspiring other struggling victims and parents.

 

Maybe the drugs will numb the pain…

If you had asked me when I first started drinking and using drugs I am not sure that I would have been able to tell you that I was using to numb my emotional pain. I don’t know if I would have been able to express that I drank and used in order to not think about my abusive ex boyfriend, abandoned by my family, being unloved, or the fact that I was sexually abused as a child. I didn’t know on a conscious level that the drugs were medicating my psyche, or helping me to cope with my world. All I knew is that I liked the way I felt and that when I was under the influence and it was the only time I felt happy.

All of the emotional pain that had been wrought on me throughout my life, some self-inflicted, some out of my control, was all turned inwards and a hatred sprung up that only drugs and alcohol seemed to numb. The problem is that what I thought to be a solution was actually solving nothing, and in fact, it only made my emotional pain worse.

I remember the first time I smoked marijuana in high school, I was so freaked out by the feeling I swore off drugs all together. As someone who has always been forced to take various medications against my will I usually had nothing but hatred for them. I hated not feeling myself. I never knew that after years of domestic violence I would turn to marijuana which led to my exploration of other drugs. My friend and I used to buy marijuana from a kid I knew since elementary school. Little did I know that what started as innocent transactions would lead to years of substance abuse.

Fourth of July 2009 was the first time I experimented with MDMA. At my friends family BBQ his mother offered my good friend and I these little blue stars. She explained they would make us feel great. After a month of being away from my abusive ex, I was willing to try anything to dull out the pain of losing the man I loved. I accepted the pill which looked like an innocent piece of candy. It was a small pink star. Within 45 minutes I was feeling the effects of the MDMA.

The feeling almost seems like someone turns up the dial on all of your sensory inputs. Colors grow vibrant, sounds sharpen, and music will become mesmerizing. I will never forget the feeling of absolute bliss. My body felt amazing, the grass beneath my feet felt amazing, the air on my face was blissful. Then the fireworks started. The amazing color trails were unlike anything I have ever seen. On the car ride home I got to experience music on MDMA for the first time. I could feel every beat in my body. It was the most amazing physical feeling I ever had. Like my body was in a constant state of orgasm.

I felt amazing. It is common to feel a sense of well-being and peace regarding your overall life. The tiny frustrations and resentment that infect your inner dialog during your daily life fade away. I was never more aware of my body, my senses, and friendship. One of the beautiful lessons that MDMA makes crystal clear is the value of sharing and having company.

When properly used, it’s no surprise at all why people call it Ecstasy.

The term “Wednesday Blues” was something I would soon understand. It got its name from the tendency of people to take MDMA on a Friday or Saturday night, and to have all lingering effects of the MDMA high disappear by Wednesday. MDMA causes your brain to release all the serotonin (Serotonin in the brain is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood.)   Your brain gets flooded with these chemicals and takes immense pleasure from the experience. When you use MDMA, especially a lot of it, your brain gets used to that state of feeling so good. But when it wears off, you can feel uncomfortable, moody, and pretty unstable.

I spent the rest of the summer taking MDMA almost every weekend. I was chasing the high and happiness I felt the first time it kicked in. What I didn’t realize is that I was causing myself even more emotional stress by screwing with my serotonin levels.

After some time the body needs more and more of a substance to feel the effects. One day while high on MDMA my friends mother (the same one who gave me MDMA for the first time) brought me to her room and pulled out a baggy with a powdery white substance in it. I watched her roll up a dollar bill and do a line of cocaine. She then handed me the dollar and asked if I wanted a bump. At this point I was feeling amazing and it was all because i trusted her with the MDMA, so I figured why not. What do I have to lose.

I eventually moved into the house with my friends parents. It was a house with people who were carefree and happy. It was finally a peaceful place for me to be myself. I was able to date and try to find love again, but I never allowed myself to get close to any of the guys I dated. I would find something wrong and search for red flags and signs to run. And that is what I did. The more people that came in and out of my life, the more I tried to numb the pain.

The house I was staying in had a few people who stayed there all the time. It was a house of broken misfits who always looked out for each other. While living here I grew closer to one of the guys. He was a little younger than me and so loving and caring. He would see me come home heart ache after heart ache and try to build up my confidence enough to get back out there.

It started as a casual friendship with no feelings at all. We bonded over our hatred for the ex’s who ruined our lives. One night we all threw a “black light party”. I spent weeks planning it and making it an amazing experience. I blacked out all the windows, bought everything glow in the dark, and obtained more MDMA. After a long night of partying we laid on the couch and discussed how we would stick it to our exs by getting together. We changed our Facebook statuses to “engaged” and watched the drama unfold. Who knew this one evening would turn into a three-year relationship.

This boyfriend was the refreshing breath of fresh air I needed. He was sweet, caring, and devoted. Finally I was with someone who treated me with utter respect. Despite falling for him, I refused to ever give myself up fully. I knew that growing too close would just lead to disappointment and a broken heart.

For awhile we lived in this house which seemed amazing at the time. We all could do what we want, when we wanted. We could take drugs to numb our troubling pasts without the judgement. Its funny how drugs and trauma can bring people together.

Things seemed good for a bit until my friend and I somehow found ourselves in the middle of a shitty marriage and bad choices. This functioning family had its dark secrets. The wife was sleeping with her co-worker for a long time. The husband had girls on the side. None of it was discussed openly with either of them, but come the evenings and weekends everyone was on the same page. Lets get high and party or lets smoke, stuff our faces, and watch TV or play video games turned into a rough divorce leaving us misfits feeling like the children being forced to chose mommy or daddy.

My friend and I became very close with both the adults living in this house. We trusted them fully. One weekend while on a binge of MDMA and marijuana one of the older guys had asked me to go for a walk. We meandered the streets in a drugged stupor talking about past trauma and life. Its crazy how open and honest you are with things when you are under the influence of the loving non-judgemental drug like MDMA. While walking he stopped abruptly and grabbed me. Started kissing me. I instantly felt sick to my stomach. What the fuck just happened?! I told him I felt sick and had to go back immediately. We walked in an awkward silence and ran back into the house. I took shelter in my room upstairs and confided in my friend. We were both in disbelief but agreed that drugs make you do crazy things.

The next few weeks went by and we never spoke about what happened. I suppose he felt bad because he started leaving me gifts and trying to make up for it. This man was like a father figure to me. He had welcomed me with open arms to the island of misfits and took me in as if I was one of his own without hesitation. Who knows where I would have ended up had he have not let me move in. I was able to escape the domestic violence thanks to him.

One weekend he bought a bunch of MDMA and asked my friend and I to stay at a hotel with him. He did not want his wife to know or ruin the experience so he had asked us to just keep him company. We all partied and enjoyed ourselves. Soon after my friend went to sleep. Thats when things went south. He began to touch me. I was so fucked up on MDMA I wasnt sure how to respond. I laid there numb, terrified, and unable to react. I let him have his way with me for awhile before I finally was like please stop I do not feel well. I advised the MDMA had started to hurt my stomach. So, I rolled over and went to sleep. My friend never woke up. I was so baffled by the experience. He was like a father why did he want to do this to me? I kept replaying the situation in my brain and convinced myself that I obviously did this to myself. Why would he do this if I did not some how lead him on? I am the idiot that agreed to go to a hotel with him….. I did not stop him or scream…. So it is my fault. If I did not put up a fight I could not have held him responsible.

The next day we resumed life like it never happened. No words were ever exchanged about that day. Whenever my brain starts to think about the situation I get nauseated and disgusted with myself. It was just easier to not think about it at all. Eventually the situation slowly just faded out of my mind. Everything was back to normal.

We all grew closer over the next year. My friend married into the family to their son before he shipped out in the military not long after. I was dating my new friend in the house. Things seemed almost perfect. Once the divorce was in full swing we were torn back and forth. Eventually the woman moved out leaving us with the father. We all co-existed for a long time. I took over a lot of house keeping duties. Mowed the lawn, cooked dinner, cleaned, helped with the pets, etc. Doing these chores made me feel a little better about myself. I did not have any other place to go so I had to keep busy and try to not think about the mistakes I have made.

I continued living with my boyfriend and friend in the house and made it a goal to find this father figure a girlfriend so the focus would be off me. Once sober I think he felt bad and regretted what he did so he made it a goal to spoil me and help me with anything I needed to make it up to me. I just kept reminding myself that everyone I have ever loved or cared about me has hurt me in some way. He was one of the only people that made it up to me after he hurt me.

One day I hurt my knee and went to the hospital where I was given a bottle of vicodin. Vicodin made me feel good. I was not getting so fucked up that I could be taken advantage of, but it numbed the pain. I did not have to feel anything. I just sort of lived and walked through life like a zombie. I cut down the usage of the MDMA and drug use and focused solely on smoking marijuana and taking narcotics. Marijuana was easy to come by since my current boyfriend sold it. The narcotics were not as easy to find.

Finally we were able to find our father figure a girlfriend. She was nice and welcoming at first, but quickly started to target me with her frustrations. She would complain that I took advantage of the father figure by living in his home for free. He explained that I did all of the house work and cooking as payment so I could save for an apartment.

Tensions between her and I got worse and worse until one day everything came out. She was walking down the steps past the bedroom where my boyfriend and I stayed. I whispered to him “Bitch”. I was not aware she would hear me. She screamed back “If you have something to say then say it to my face”. I quickly jumped off the bed and ran out the door. I got in her face and was like “BITCH”. She told me that I was a mooching whore who was disgusting for using her boyfriend to live in his home rent free. I told her she was just jealous and intimidated that I could cook and clean and she was old and hideous. Deep down I knew the relationship I had with everyone in this house was unhealthy in some way. That is ultimately what set me off, the guilt and shame I felt. She was right. We went back and forth for a few minutes before enough was enough. I lunged at her like a lioness attacking its prey. I saw nothing but red. My boyfriend managed to get the back of my shirt before I was able to knock her down the flight of steps she was standing on. We were asked to leave for the night until she calmed down.

I was so offended and angry I told my boyfriend we had to get out of there. We could not live in that hell anymore. He called his mother who agreed we could move into her home not too far away. We packed our shit and left. The father figure and his girlfriend argued quite a bit over the situation because he was devastated he was losing us.

Maybe this was a light at the end of the tunnel…

Maybe this is what I deserve…. (** Trigger warning Domestic Violence)

Growing up I had always associated men with some form of abuse. I had always felt worthless, unwanted, and dirty. Living in a home with a heavy handed disciplinarian I had always just assumed I was a terrible child and a not worthy of the love I saw some of my classmates have with their families. I made it a priority to never trust a man and never let them get close to me. If I was never alone in the room with a male doctor, family member, or friend then I could never have to experience any of that again. Obviously, this did not last forever. My teenage years came and went. They were a whirlwind of crushes and sexual desires.

When I finally found my boyfriend things were different. He made me feel spoiled and loved. He showered me with affection and materialistic items. I was so intoxicated by his love that I never expected things would change. I never expected that once I let another man in and trusted him that he would hurt me in so many ways. Two years had came and went. We survived various obstacles and arguments. Some arguments got more physical than others. I had had many concussions and many bumps and bruises.

I was sober now, but I could still taste that high. I was suddenly aware of just how far I had fallen. We had integrated fully into each other’s lives that I needed him and that terrified me. So I would chase the high like an addict who has gone too long without a fix. Spent my time thinking where is he? What is he doing? I began to over analyze every single thing he said and did. What did he mean by that? Why would he rather have alone time than be with me? I could not help but remember, when we were were drunk in love together and all we wanted to do was talk about how much we loved each other.

I was at the point that I was questioning everything. You eventually begin to wonder how the other person feels even though they tell you on the daily. You’re suspicious. But you try to remain calm and collected. I didn’t want to seem needy, demanding or controlling. I did not want to push him away and lose the only person who I believed wanted me. I focuses on trying to keep everything good, keep it going, and that high has to come back, right? It did not work. I was struggling to find happiness. People I haven’t seen in a while kept asking  how it was going with him and I never know how to answer. Good, I think? Is it?

We argued about most things. Eventually the arguments would get worse and worse. I was reminded on a daily basis that no one else would put up with my insubordinate behavior or my white trash family the way he does. I believed it. I knew deep down that I was dirty and that no one would want someone who was used baggage. He accepted the empty shell I called a body that I lived in. No one was going to see me naked and vulnerable and want me the way he did.

Soon enough I stopped wanting all things sexual. What had once been fun and romantic became a chore and more like that of all the hardcore porn he was watching. I noticed he had started watching more and more pornographic movies while I was around. He would remind me that if I was not going to please him that he had to do it himself. Some days he would hold me down and force himself on me. I would lay there stoic feeling dead inside and just allow him to have his way. There was no point in struggling or fighting because I knew I would not win. I knew it would eventually be over and if I did not fight or struggle it would be over with quicker. It was much easier to disassociate from my body. Despite being there used and abused, he could tell I was not there emotionally. I was lifeless. He told me that not having sex with him and not performing sexual acts for him meant I was getting it from someone else. He would take videos of me on his phone performing these sexual acts and use them as leverage to get me to do more things. He would threaten to show them to my father or worse post them on the internet for the world to see. I felt hopeless. This was my life now. This is how my life began, used and abused by various men. I was used and abused by my family and this is how I am going to spend the remainder of my life, used and abused by the man that I loved.

One day I got really angry at him for watching the porn in front of me. I was in a bad mood, having a very bad day, and I was not going to tolerate it today. I insisted I was leaving. He got up and pushed me onto the bed. Told me that I was his whore and that I would not go hang out with other men. He insisted I watch him finish his act and continued to pleasure himself. I got up angrily and tried to walk out the door. He quickly pulled up his shorts. I went to walk down the steps and he pushed me. I fell down the first few steps onto the landing. With my heart racing, I went to get up and leave and he grabbed my arm and tried to pull me back up the steps. His mother heard the commotion and ran to my aid. He screamed at her and told her to mind her own fucking business. I was able to slip out of his grasp and run down the next few steps. I ran through the dining room toward the door and felt him behind me. I grabbed the nearest thing I could find, a water bottle, and I chucked it in his direction. It missed him, hit the wall, and water exploded everywhere. I turned to run, but he already started hitting me. He smacked the side of my head so bad I fell to the floor. My ear was ringing and the screaming became more distant. I felt liquid dripping on my face, I could not tell if it was tears or blood. His mother was screaming trying to pull him of off me. He picked me up and slammed my head into the wall and I instantly blacked out. When I came too I was in his arms and he was sobbing. He told me how incredibly sorry he was. He admitted he had a serious anger problem and told me he was going to get help. I told him I had to go and he let me leave. After driving down the road I realized I was in no condition to be driving. I went to my friends house as she lived closer than me. She took me to the hospital and I was sent home with a concussion and a blown ear drum. The doctors had questions as to where the bruises came from and I lied and said I had a fight with some girl.

A few months went by and things were back to normal. He had realized he went too far so he changed. He was loving and charming. He became the man I fell in love with. We went on dates and spent nights watching movies. I felt like things were finally looking up.

One July morning I decided to go with a close friend on a brunch date and a shopping adventure. I had bought myself nice new sunglasses and lots of new clothes. As I was the one driving too and from the stores I missed the phone calls I had received from my boyfriend. I had dropped my friend off and drove straight to my boyfriends house. I told him where I was and what I was doing and he told me I was a “lying, cheating, whore”. I instantly went out to the car to get my bag of clothes and sunglasses and explained that I had the receipt with the time stamps.  He proceeded to grab the bag out of my back seat and sifted through it. He took out the sunglasses and snapped them in half. I instantly grabbed the bag of clothes and tried to get in my car. He grabbed my head and hit it against the window of the car. I struggled to get out of his grasp, hopped in my drivers seat while he was pulling at me and I started the car and began to back it out. He almost broke my door off the hinge and finally moved so I could drive away. I drove straight to my friends house who again insisted I go to the ER because of the the large bump I had on my forehead. She explained to the doctor that it was a domestic violence case. They released me and advised I should head to the police station to fill out a report. My friend was in agreement. She told me she was sick of bringing me to the hospital and that if I did not go she would not speak to me anymore. We were friends since second grade, her mom took me in during senior year when my father could not handle me, I could not lose her.

So, my friend brought me directly to the police station. She previously has tried to convince me to leave him, but I always refused. Sometimes you want out, but you’re in it now. You love this person and you’re committed. After all he was the only person who could love a person like me. But she was right, finally I had enough. I could not do it anymore. I finally had enough courage and support to end the cycle of violence.

Going to the police station was a difficult and stressful experience. We were brought in the back by one of the officers. He told me he had to take photos of my bruises to put with my statement. I stood there while he took photos of various angles of the hematoma on my head, then of the perfect fingertip sizes bruises on my arm from where he grabbed me.  He asked me various questions about what had happened and advised that because we did not have any children together they could not do much about it. He said that if I agreed to press charges that they would arrest him and we would have to go through court to get a restraining order filed. I was overwhelmed by it all. I felt guilty of the thought of ruining his life with an arrest like this. Ruining his family with having their son arrested and removed from their home in the middle of the night. The officer advised me I had till 5PM the next evening to make up my mind. I told them with the events of the day I could not make the decision and that I would come back tomorrow to work things out.

My friend brought me to my car and I headed home. All I wanted was to lay down and forget everything that was happening. I walked in and I remember it being really late. My dad was in his bedroom and called for me to come in. I really did not want him to see my face as I did not want him to know what was really happening to me. I blamed most of my bruises on my clumsiness, but this would be hard to explain. He turned on the light and asked what had happened…. I advised I turned too fast while trying to get my clothes out of the car and I hit my head on the edge of the car door. He hesitated speaking for a moment and then his face changed.

I knew once I saw my father’s face that something was not right. He told me my grandfather had called and that my mother had passed away earlier that afternoon. I stood there in shock and disbelief. The rest of that evening was a blur. I ran to my car and began to sob. I turned on the radio hoping music would help the pain dissipate, but it did not work. I drove to my boyfriends job. I needed to have someone to talk to. I needed the reassurance that everything was going to be okay. I just wanted to feel loved.

I did not expect the cold shoulder which is what I got. “What would you like me to do about it?” he asked me in response to me telling him my mother had just died. Honestly, I did not know what I wanted him to do. I just needed someone to tell me it was going to be okay. He felt a little sorry for me and agreed I should spend the night with him.

After that life became normal again. He changed even more than when I previously ran back to him. He showered me with love and gifts. I began staying over his house more often and my father was not happy about it but I didn’t care. I did what I wanted.

One morning late November 2007 I woke up extremely nauseated. I called out of work and decided to spend the day resting. Three days went by and the nausea did not subside. I went to the doctor who wrote me a script for anti-nausea medication and advised I had to go get an ultrasound of my stomach to figure out what was causing the pain. Two days later I went to the hospital and had the ultrasound done. I had a large gallstone. I was advised to contact a surgeon and book the surgery to get it out as soon as possible. December 26, 2007, just 4 days before my 21st birthday, I had my gallbladder removed. I spent one night in the hospital and was put on bed rest for a week. December 29, 2007, just one day before my 21 birthday I woke up vomiting. I had a fever of 103 and it kept rising. I contacted the Dr and was advised to go to the ER right away for monitoring. I was admitted and advised I had to spend the next day in the hospital. I was put on a strict liquid diet and not permitted to consume food until they ran enough tests. I spent my 21st birthday in a hospital bed. My dad spent a good portion of it all by my side. My boyfriend would come when he was not working.

Within a few weeks I recovered from the surgery. I still had pain here and there, but it subsided. Now that I was 21 I could go out and drink! I would work all week then go out on Friday and Saturday nights. Sometimes with my BF. Sometimes with my friends. I would come home at all hours of the night and sometimes not at all.

One evening I went out to a bar with my friends and I ran into my BF. He was there with his friends and some girl. I was intoxicated and immediately mortified seeing him speaking to another girl and laughing. She was leaned over whispering in his ear with her hand on his. I flipped out. I told her he was an abusive piece of shit and if she wanted my used goods she could have him. I felt betrayed.

He noticed how upset I was and tried to assure me it meant nothing, she meant nothing, but I did’t believe him. After all, I have seen this girl before lurking on his Myspace. He assured me I was intoxicated and that I blew things out of proportion. I realized that I was feeling jealous and he could have been right. He asked me to leave my friends and come home with him. I agreed. I blew off my father’s curfew and spent the night at his house.

Once we arrived at his house we went to his bedroom and I laid on the bed. He pulled me off the bed and advised that I fucked up embarrassing him and that I made a scene. So my punishment was that I had to sleep on the floor…. No blanket…. No pillow…. I was given a book to lay my head on. He was intoxicated as was I so I figured I had fucked up and could not blame him for his attitude. After all I was the crazy one that night…. So I laid their intoxicated thinking about my stupid decisions and eventually fell asleep. Around 6AM I woke up and realized I never called my dad. I woke up my boyfriend and had him bring me home. He dropped me off and went back home to go back to bed.

When I got home my dad sat me down and told me that if I could not follow his rules then I could not live in his house. He took my car keys and kicked me out. At this time I did not have a cell phone so I had to walk 3 miles to the gas station and used a payphone to call my boyfriend. He came and picked me up. We waited for my dad to go to work and then we went and got my car. I packed up as much as I could fit in my car and moved out.

My boyfriend allowed me to move in with him and his family. I was so happy about it. No more curfew! But, I was not aware of how much more controlling my relationship could become. Things we great at first. But one day I came home on lunch from work and he and I got in such a fight that he threw my car keys in the gutter. After a verbal argument he finally fished my keys out and I went back to work. I walked in and the manager advised it was unacceptable and that they could not continue dealing with all of my drama. I was let go. My boyfriend agreed it was for the best and said I could work baby sitting his sister’s kids. So that is what I did. He and I fought constantly over everything. I would text my friends and complain and try not to allow myself to get angry and fuck everything up. I did not want any more violent fights.

The night before Thanksgiving is considered one of the biggest party days of the year. My boyfriend and I agreed to go our separate ways this evening and enjoy time with our friends. I had a great time. Perhaps too much fun. I was extremely intoxicated by the time my friend’s boyfriend brought us home. I called my boyfriend to come get me and he ignored me. I began wandering the streets of the neighborhood trying to comprehend how I was going to get home. Eventually I was able to reach another friend of mine who was able to bring me to her mom’s house where I stayed the night on the couch. The next morning I woke up to a barrage of angry voicemails inquiring about my location. He was clearly intoxicated. I called him back and he advised he was coming to get me.

Thanksgiving came. I had plans to spend the time relaxing with his family, but then he got a text. One of my friends found out through his best friend (my friend who took me in’s boyfriend)  how crappy the night before was and decided that the way I was being treated was unacceptable. He decided he would do something about it. He texted my BF saying he was outside and to come out and face him like a man. My boyfriend ran outside and I was running behind him. They were in each others faces screaming at each other. Panic set in. What the hell should I do. My friend grabbed a pipe from the ground and threatened to hit my boyfriend with it. My boyfriends family heard the commotion and called the police while simultaneously trying to break the fight up. My boyfriends mother was tossed aside. The cops rushed in within minutes. They separated them both of them and I was told I needed to leave. I got in the car and drove. I parked in a local parking lot and just wept.

All in one day I lost good friends, my boyfriend, and I had no family to be with. Everyone had thrown me out. I spent Thanksgiving night in my car that year. The next day he reached out to me and agreed that he wanted me to move back home. Without hesitation I went back.

My 22nd birthday finally arrived. We agreed we would meet my friend and her sister to go try out the new go cart track racing. He was taking forever to get ready and I started an argument over it. I hate being late. Suddenly we were bickering over everything. I said I was going to leave without him. He hopped in the car and we started down the road. I made it out of his complex and less than a mile down the road before the fight escalated and he grabbed my steering wheel trying to pull the car over. The car turned sharply to the right, hopped the curb and the sidewalk, before landing on the road behind the shopping center. I was LIVID. I began punching him and hitting him as hard as I could. Once I realized what had happened fear took over. I knew he would beat me. I knew I would regret this. I jumped out of the car and ran inside the store. I dialed 911 and advised there was an accident and that I was afraid for my life. Soon after the cops came and walked me back to the car. They contacted a company to tow the car. They pulled us apart and asked my boyfriend what had happened. It became a he said she said. The only issue is, he was the one with bruises not me. So I was clearly the aggressor in this case. They gave him a ride home. After running my plates and registration the cops informed me that my registration was expired. The cop then walked me to his car and put me in the back seat. I sat in the car and panicked. The cop finally came and advised he was issuing and ROR (meaning I was arrested but released on my own recognizance). I was told to have someone come get me.

A friend of mine let me crash at her house for a week. During this time I did not speak with my now ex-boyfriend. We went from three years together to quitting cold turkey. He was my drug and I did not get my fix. The withdrawals from love are painful, more painful than all the trauma’s I have experienced before. You remember that high, being drunk in love, and you just want it back so bad. Don’t they want it back? Don’t they remember how it felt? You can’t just throw that away, it was so special and it can’t be over.

When he finally reached out to me he apologized and agreed to pay to get my car fixed but on his own accord. I moved back into his house. At this time he took away from cell phone. He watched me every time I went to the bathroom to make sure I was not doing anything I should not be doing. He would go to work and disconnect the internet to make sure I could not call anyone or reach out online. Every time he left the house I was brought to his sisters to watch the children. The whole family kept eyes on me. They all just wanted to stay out of the situation. He officially controlled every aspect of my life. I had no contact with the outside world for months.

He began going out drinking with his friends all the time. He would come intoxicated smelling like women and alcohol. On a few occasions he came home with make up on his clothes. I would fight him every day, but I ended up regretting it every time. I eventually just fell into a routine and just tried to check out mentally. After all it was much easier to be numb than deal with the pain of his abuse or the pain of knowing no one loved or wanted me. I lost all my friends because I put him before them. I lost my family because I was disobedient and cared more about love.

St. Patricks Day came…. He advised he would be going out with usual group of friends. I had begged him to please stay home with me so I was not sheltered in the room alone the whole night again. He ignored me. Unplugged the internet and set a computer password as he always did then left. About an hour into laying on the bed I thought to my self that this was bullshit. I should be able to go out with my friends and see people on a day like today. I sat on the computer for about an hour trying to figure out how to unlock it and get in. FINALLY I was able to log in and sign onto my email. I did the email to text and reached out to one of my friends. She was mortified to hear about my situation and immediately came to get me. I grabbed what little items I could and escaped out the door while his mom was in the bathroom. My friend took me to her boyfriends house where she was staying.

This was it…. I was free…. I cannot say that the withdrawals of this relationship was easy.  Some days were much harder than others. It was like an alcoholic going through the 12 Steps, you slowly start to recover one day at a time. You hope that now you’ve learned your lesson. That next time you get a taste of that high you keep your head. You remain coherent and reasonable, only getting buzzed enough to feel that warmth in your blood but without losing yourself in the process.

 

 

 

Drama, lies, tears… Cheers to the teenage years…

Going through the first half of my teenage years was rough living with a father from another country. He would not allow me to wear thongs, skirts without shorts underneath, or even red nail polish and lipstick. I was not allowed to be a cheerleader as only whore’s were cheerleaders and I was not allowed to go out with friends without a chaperone.

Moving into my friends house felt like a vacation of sorts. I was free from the overprotective and extreme discipline. I was able to go out with friends, stay up late, eat what I wanted, and spend money on whatever I wanted. The first thing I did was go to Victoria’s Secret and load up on new bra’s and thong underwear. No longer would I be told what to wear!

I had my first experience drinking alcohol at a house party with a guy me and my friends met online. We made bad decisions and there was no one to stop me. My friends and I met with this older guy a few times and hung out. One day he advised he would throw a mini house party if we wanted to come over his house and have a few drinks. Of course all of us said yes! So me and four girlfriends headed over. He had six packs of Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver. I had my first sip of the Bacardi Silver and was in love. It was absolutely delicious. Before I knew it I was 6 Bacardis and 2 Smirnoff Ice drinks in. I was hanging out on the bed with two of my girl friends and the guy we met online while the other girls remained in the living room talking. We were all clearly intoxicated and our new guy friend had asked us to kiss. I never really even thought about it I just started kissing my friends. I know I had seen plenty of adult movies with women doing things to each other so I did not think twice before trying it. It had almost felt natural. During this experience I never thought that it would be a window into sexual curiosity with women. That night I was taken home by a friend who came to pick all of us up. We were dropped off at my friends house where we stumbled in hoping to not get caught by her parents. The moment we got up her front stairs, we were greeted by her parents who were less than happy with us. I was sick to my stomach from all of the sweet alcohol I had consumed and it was obvious. They immediately asked my friend what was wrong with me. She tried to tell them I had bad Chinese, but it was obvious I was overly intoxicated. We spent the rest of the evening being scolded for our decisions. Luckily they only told my friends mom who was watching me at the time. She also scolded me and said I could not go out for a week, but it was nothing like the impending doom I would have faced if my father had found out.

Being at my friends house allowed me to have experiences I would never have had living at home. I hung out with old friends on the regular and even made new ones. While hanging out with my cousin and his friends one day I met this guy. He was dangerous and funny. His love for fast cars, driving at dangerous speeds, and flirtatious personality instantly drew me in. We began hanging out every single night. Some nights I even snuck out of my friends bedroom window and met him down the street. We would go for long drives and bond over music and our love of life. It did not take long for me to fall for him and his bad boy ways. I met his parents and his sisters and loved everything about them. I was drunk in love. Being drunk in love is a feeling almost impossible to describe, yet so many of us have felt it. It’s that giddiness you feel after a date. It’s the butterflies in your stomach when you’re with them. It’s the rose-colored glasses you see them through. They are so perfect to you. You can see their flaws but those are perfect, too. You’re suddenly walking around in a daze with blurred vision from utter happiness.

It finally felt like I had control of my life. He took me to my senior prom, came to my high school graduation, and started attending my family events. A few weeks into our relationship we took it to the next level. My sexual curiosity was again at an all time high. I suddenly wanted to try new things and have the adult sexual relationship I always saw in movies.

After graduation I moved back into my fathers house. We had been speaking here an their during the last few months of my senior year. We agreed that he would not lose his temper and hit me as long as I followed his rules of be home by 9pm.

Within a couple months I was settled back home and my boyfriend and i had integrated fully into each other’s lives and I had absolutely loved it. I was drunk, I was wasted, shit-faced, high, intoxicated. You are so blinded by the love that you just know that this feeling will never end, it will last forever and you will die in a blissful, blurry euphoria of each other’s love. Until it all comes crashing down.

A few months into our relationship something changed. He began becoming more jealous and possessive. Deep down I enjoyed the possessiveness and jealousy. It meant I was wanted. Never again would I have to feel abandoned and unloved. I found a man that loved me and spoiled me with new shoes, clothes, car parts, and took me out. I was his ride or die.

I finally decided it was time for him to meet my real family. I managed to keep my biological family mostly hidden from my friends and boyfriends previously as I had been so embarrassed of who they were, the poverty and the poor conditions of their lifestyle. I was always afraid no one would love me if they saw what I came from. I was ashamed of my past, but it was time to share my experiences and move on from my fears. My boyfriend and I packed our bags and went on the seven hour trip to my hometown.

We pulled onto the old dirt road my grandfather and biological mother lived on and into the beat up rocky driveway. My mother ran out and embraced me. I immediately saw the look of judgement on my boyfriends face. He was used to money and status not the poor “white trash” family I was born into. My mother was aged, sporting a haircut that screamed 1980’s, and sported a fresh new tattoo on her arm. She lifted up her sleeve to reveal my name clear as day in permanent ink. I instantly wanted to crawl in a hole. I was filled with embarrassment and anger. Who was she to tattoo my name on her arm? She was not allowed to claim to be my mother. My mother was the woman that raised me and passed away to cancer.

We walked into my grandfather’s beat up old shack. It was falling apart and smelled of wet dog and feces. My mother introduced her husband who instantly gave me the chills. He smelled of beer and looked dirty and had a pair of ripped jeans on with a flannel button down shirt which was unbuttoned and showed his chest and beer belly. His hair was long and messy pilled underneath a baseball cap. Flashback’s of my abusive step father came rushing back and I was mortified. I instantly regretted even coming back. Pulling me aside my boyfriend told me he did not want to even spend the night in the spare room and insisted we get a hotel about 45 min into town. I spent the weekend touring the area with my boyfriend and my mother who insisted upon stopping at every local store and house in the small town to show them how “beautiful and grown up” her daughter was. Needless to say it was a very long car ride home. We mostly listened to music and made small talk.

Within the next year we continued to let our relationship blossom. We spent countless hours together. He would show up to pick me up from my nursing home job as a nurse aid most days. Sometimes even surprising me with balloons and flowers. Things could not have been better.

One day he picked me up as usual after a long nine hour work day and told me we needed to go to his house and talk. Once in his apartment, he advised me that a large sum of money went missing from his room. At the time him and his parents were living in a two bedroom apartment in a mother daughter house. The landlords and their family lived upstairs. Immediately I thought about all the ways the adults or kids could have came through the door that separated the landlords basement from the apartment where his family lived. He then advised me that he suspected it was me. The life drained from my body. After being together for almost two years, how could he suspect I would do such a thing. He advised me that he knew that my family was white trash and that he should not have trusted me. I begged and pleaded for him to believe me and understand I would never do such a thing. In all my years of being an insubordinate child and teenager, I had NEVER stole money from someone.

We spent the next week talking about how disappointed he was because he loved me and that it hurt him to know I would do such a thing. After countless attempts to prove that I couldn’t have and wouldn’t have stole anything from him, he finally agreed to let it go.

About a week or two later I realized that I had missed my period. With all of the stress and anxiety of the weeks before I had not realized something was off. I told my boyfriend and we went to the local pharmacy and bought a pregnancy test. We went back to his apartment where I went into the bathroom and took the test. I sat there on the toilet staring at the lines that appeared. I was pregnant. A wave of emotions came over me. I was so worried about what everyone would think. How would I tell my father? How was I going to support this baby? What kind of life would the child have? Would I end up just like my mother? Here I was just out of high school, unmarried, and dating someone for barely two years.

I finally got enough courage to walk out of the bathroom and talk to him. He stared at me anxiously awaiting the answer. I told him “I am pregnant.” We sat there in silence for a bit and he told me that we were not ready to have a baby. He said that he refused to have a child this young, that I was not going to ruin his life, and that I was going to have to do something about it. I was instantly overwhelmed with guilt and sadness. I told him I needed time to figure everything out. I called my local health center and scheduled an appointment with an OBGYN. They advised I had to come in and take the test in two weeks and they would advise what my options were.

Together we headed to the OBGYN appointment and sat in the waiting room waiting for my name to be called. Soon enough it was my time to go in and take the urine test. They handed me a little cup and explained the process. Soon I was escorted into a room with a desk and asked to sit down. The doctor sat across the desk from me and told me that the results were positive and asked if I knew what I wanted to do. I explained that I was not sure I could handle a baby but wanted to explore my options. She immediately pulled out a piece of paper with a list of names of clinics that I could call to terminate my pregnancy. She explained if I decided against it there were many programs that helped single young mothers. Instantly my childhood came flooding back. I was my mother. I walked out of the room and to the waiting room where my boyfriend met me. We walked silently to the car where I burst into tears. “I do not want to be my mom!” I shouted. He advised me that if I did not want to be like her the smart thing to do was call the places on the list. I took out my cell phone and dialed without hesitation.

I had the procedure scheduled for the upcoming Saturday. They insisted I bring a driver and that the procedure be done early. Later term meant more money and possible difficulties. I remember sitting in the room hungry, nauseated, and nervous. My boyfriend looked like he did not have a care in the world. I saw some of the other pregnant woman anxiously waiting, no one saying anything about the taboo place we were in. We were all called in one by one to go through a process. First, an ultrasound to determine how far along we were. I was 9 weeks. Then to get a blood test to make sure we were not RH-. This was followed by a therapist who asked if I was doing this on my own free will or if I felt at all threatened. I agreed nervously and got lead into a room where there were gowns and baskets for our possessions. I was then shown to a room where all the pregnant girls sat quietly while one by one being brought into the operating room. Once in the room the doctor advised he was going to do a procedure and that I would soon be sleeping and not feeling anything. I watched as they injected the white anesthesia fluid into my arm.

I woke up in a bed in a room with girls who had also just had the procedure. The moment I opened my eyes the nurse advised me to get up and sit in a chair next to the bed. I looked over at another girl who was hysterically crying. I was in so much pain. I realized instantly what I had done. The nurse handed me two Tylenol, antibiotics, and a script for birth control then told me to follow up with a doctor in two weeks. The ride home was mostly silent. I cringed with every bump he hit. It felt like  I just wanted to sleep. To numb my pain and suffering.

The next few weeks were rough. I felt guilty and miserable. Some women seemingly never need to work through any kind of healing process. But for many, the memory of the abortion lies hidden within, like an infection, weakening and impairing us in ways we never realize. I started giving my boyfriend an attitude and blaming him for allowing me to make such a terrible decision. How could I ever forgive myself for making that choice that ended my child’s life?

One day after a long argument about how miserable I had been and how I treated him like crap he told me that enough was enough. He was not about to have a kid with someone who was white trash. He said I was just like my whore of a mother and did not need to have any offspring in my life. I instantly punched him in the face. I began hitting him over and over while sobbing uncontrollably. How could he? I loved him!

Suddenly I felt my body in the air. He had picked me up and tossed me onto the bed. He put his hands around my throat and began to choke me. I wiggled to get out of his grasp and he sat on my body kneeling on my arms to stop me from hitting him. He screamed in my face that I had some fucking nerve putting my hands on him. I felt dizzy and a sense of panic. He realized that I was starting to loose consciousness and immediately let go. He told me he was “so sorry” and that he would “never hurt me again”. He said that it was his self defense because I would not stop hitting him. I could not help but feel like I deserved it. I hit him after all. I was the one who got physical.

From this day on things would be different….

I wanted to feel no pain… I just wanted to sleep…

I acted out most of my life. Never really liked people telling me what to do. My insubordination was a lot for my parents and teachers to handle. As my moms youngest child and my dad’s only child, they were overwhelmed with my behavior. Out of frustration they became progressively more heavy-handed with their punishments. My father who came from a Latin American background believed in order and punishment.

Whenever I had done something bad enough my father would come home from work and use his leather belt with metal rings and beat me on the back and on my legs. The more I was punished, the less I listened.

When I was around 13 years old I had learned my mother had stage 3 endometrial cancer. I found out by listening in on a conversation my mother was having on the phone. I remember almost falling to my knees. I was crushed. My parents eventually explained to me that she was going to go through a form of radiation and that she would have to have a hysterectomy to remove the cancerous tumors. Radiation therapy eventually became chemotherapy. I watched my mothers life slowly fade away.

The next two years seemed to fly by. Countless hours at home while my mother became sicker and sicker. My friends were all growing up and going through puberty and I was at home cleaning up after my sick mother. I watched my mother struggle through chemotherapy sessions, lose her hair, and eventually lose the ability to even walk to the bathroom. Soon the seizures began. With my dad working late hours to support our family and pay our bills, my family decided to put my mother in a nursing home.

September 2001 I started my freshman year of high school. On September 11th I remember sitting in my English class when the announcement that a plane had crashed into the world trade center. I distinctly remember the look of fear on my classmates face knowing some of their family members worked at the towers. Not long after the second announcement came. My Pincipal immediately advised guidance counselors would be available to talk to those affected by the events.

Shortly after starting my freshman year I began having major panic attacks. They seemed to come out of no where. I would start feeling nauseated, nervous, and shaky. Soon they became so bad I would be picked up from school and rushed to the ER. My oxygen levels would drop so low from hyperventilating that I lost circulation in my extremities and could barley move. After enough visits my father explained to my psychiatrist that something needed to be done. So I was quickly put on anxiety medications and depression medications. Eventually these combined with the ADD medications I became a walking zombie. My nights felt long and dreary. After a few weeks a sleeping medication was added to the mix.

As a typical hormonal teen girl I surrounded myself with boys and focused very little on my academic studies. It didn’t take long before I was kissing boys and dating. As most young love situations I fell hard and deep many times and had my heart broken. Until, I began noticing an older junior from my church. We began dating and it was instant love. He respected me and came with me to visit my mother in the nursing home. We dated for about a year and a half before we experimented with anything beyond kissing. Despite having a hyper-sexual train of thought, I was always worried deep down of whether or not I could physically handle having sex after my childhood trauma.

I lost my virginity in my parents basement on a bed while watching a movie. I remember my first time as being confusing yet satisfying knowing I made it through the event without any terrible thoughts of my childhood. It was a huge sense of relief, but this sparked a deeper sexual curiosity than ever before.

The next year was filled with high school drama, friends, and my young love. I visited my mother almost nightly and some weekends. At times I would have my boyfriend with me and she grew to love him. Who couldn’t love the sweet and kind church boy that took care of their girlfriend?

One day I had walked to the nursing home from my aunts house bringing one of my aunts dogs to cheer her up. I got in the room and saw my mother on the bed convulsing. I screamed for the nurses who came running in to stabilize her. Soon they were screaming for someone to call the ambulance. I stood there with the dog in horror watching her eyes roll back in her head.

My mother was admitted to the hospital ICU. She was put on a breathing tube and remained in a medically induced coma for a few days. One day my family decided to remove the tube as it was my mothers wish to not be kept alive by machines. I remember being in the hospital room when the pastor walked in and told me my mother was holding on for me. She had told him she was afraid to leave me so early and that she was suffering. He told me to tell her it was okay to let go. I struggled to get these words out because it was NOT okay! How was I going to survive without her? The words “shes suffering” played in my head for several minutes. The pastor left me alone to talk to her. Choking back tears I grabbed my mothers hand and told her “I love you” and that it was okay to let go. I felt her hand move slightly as she squeezed my hand. I lost it. I ran out of the room and sat in the waiting room.

This was the first day I had ever seen my father cry. We cried together in the waiting room while they removed the breathing tube. Not long after the doctor came in and told us she made it! She was going to live!

Over the next few months my mother was transferred back to the nursing home. Life almost seemed normal again. She was put on hospice as her health quickly declined. One day while visiting her with my boyfriend she began to yell at me. She told me that I had used the word “hell” and that it was a curse and that I should not use such words. The hospice nurse saw that she was becoming increasingly upset advised me that I should leave. She explained my mother was on morphine and that it caused hallucinations.

Two days later I was sleeping over my cousins house when my Nokia began to ring. It was my uncle. He said “tell your father I am on the way!” Having been woke up from a dead sleep I was very confused and said “to where?!” he immediately said “you don’t know?” and then hung up the phone. My stomach dropped. I instantly knew something was not right and called my aunt who had been staying nights with my mother. My aunt advised me that my mother had passed away not long ago and that her and my father wanted to tell me in person. I threw the phone against the wall and began sobbing. All this commotion woke up my cousin who was sleeping feet away from me.

The rest of that day was a blur. I remember walking into the room and seeing her eyes open and the life drained from her body. My family was gathered in the room. I immediately had to leave and decided to walk around the nursing home until someone took me home.

The next few days were a whirlwind of phone calls, visits, hugs, and emotions. Having seen my grandmother pass away two years prior I knew what to expect at the wake. I attended the wake trying to maintain a distance from the coffin refusing to accept the reality of who was in there. I listened to stories about how my mother’s faith in God throughout her hard times kept others strong. I heard countless stories of how people turned to Jesus and were saved thanks to my mother.  At the time I was still attending weekly church groups and I felt some solace in knowing my mother had helped others, but always maintained the thought of at what expense?

As the next two days passed I saw more and more family members and people. My biological mother, aunt, and grandfather came down for support. My biological family had noticed I was not really emotionally present at the wake. They sat down with my father and my aunt and advised them that they had me “so drugged” that I was not even able to properly mourn my mother. The rest of the evening was constant arguments about me and my emotional well being. I remember being so frustrated that no one seemed to give a shit that I was standing right there as they conversed about me. I ran to the funeral home bathroom, locked the door, then fell to the floor in tears. How was I going to survive without her? How was I supposed to be a teenage girl and go to prom without my mother there? I sat on the floor sobbing for some time. Eventually, there was a knock at the door. It was my mother’s daughter (who I refer to as my sister despite our significant age difference). She asked me if I was alright and I asked her to take me away from that place.

The following day was the funeral. I watched as my family swarmed like vultures through my mothers closet and bedroom for various items they could take. I sat in my room and tried to stay out of it. It was easier to be in denial and act like this never happened. I got through the funeral service barely holding myself together. I watched as my boyfriend and five other family members carried my mothers coffin from the hearse to the grave. I stood over the hole in the ground in pure disbelief. This was it. This was the last time I would ever be physically close to my mother. I had felt such emptiness.

The final few years of high school I skated by. Constantly arguing with my father and getting into physical fights. I eventually stopped caring about myself and my relationship. I broke up with my sweet church boyfriend of three years and tried to just get by. Eventually the anxiety attacks and the depression just consumed me. I started skipping classes and getting in fights with teachers and even my friends. I was put in; in school suspension multiple times. My father struggled to deal with me.

He would work late hours six days a week. One day while home alone I decided to go through my mother’s old things. I found a bottle of medication labeled oxycontin from my mothers drawer and took the bottle.

I laid on my bed for about 45 minutes staring at the bottle in my hand. I began to sob. How did this happen? How did another mother abandon me. I felt alone. I could not believe the woman that saved me from years of torture and abuse abandoned me. I instantly felt angry. How could she do this? I started hyperventilating. I was nothing but trouble. I felt unloved and abandoned. I just wanted to disappear into the ground where it was easier. I got up and went to the bathroom and got a cup of water. I opened the bottle of pills and put a handful in my mouth. I remember when my mother took them she felt no pain and slept. I wanted to feel no pain. I just wanted to sleep. I laid back on my bed and drifted off.

I opened my eyes, and was confused. My vision was blurry, and my body felt incredibly heavy. I realized I had a tube down my throat. I heard a machine beeping, and metal banging against metal. It sounded like a busy cafeteria, but that didn’t make any sense. A man’s face appeared above me, and he smiled. It took me several more minutes to get my bearings. I finally realized I was in a hospital bed. The man told me to be patient, and said he’d remove the tube as soon as I stabilized. As my sleepy mind awoke, I realized I was in an emergency room.

I tried to think back and recall the last thing I remembered. I had been laying on my bed pondering life. So how had I gotten to the ER, and why was I there? Several minutes later the doctor returned and removed the tube. The first question I asked him was why I was there. He told me my father had called 911 when he came home to find me passed out on the bed and he could not wake me. My lips were blue, and I was barely breathing. He said when the ambulance arrived, the paramedics scooped me up and rushed me there. I remained silent, and all I could think to myself was, “Oh God, what did I do” I was overcame with guilt and shame. My father told me that this episode was never going to be spoken of or repeated as it was an embarrassment to my family. He locked up the remaining medication in the home and advised I was no longer allowed to be alone in my home. I had to take the bus to my cousin’s house every day after school so that I could be monitored for my behavior. We have not spoke about the situation since. I was advised that my once a month therapy sessions were now going to be weekly therapy sessions for my own safety.

My senior year of high school was a disaster. I skipped most classes and struggled to pass. I would take tests and do last minute catch up work to just get C’s. One day during “spirit week” I decided to participate in what we called “gender bender day”. This was a day where the guys tried to look like girls and the girls would dress as guys. Being a lover of sweatpants and comfortable clothing I put on the baggiest Roca Wear sweatpants I could find, a pair of boxers I bought for the occasion, a hoodie, and a fitted cap. I went to school for my first few classes of the day. Around third period is usually when I got on the school bus to go to my vocational school classes I was taking for Medical Assisting and Coding. I decided not to go because I did not want to be the only kid at the school wearing such a ridiculous outfit. Despite it being gender bender day at my school, the other kids did not have this day.

I finished out the rest of the day hanging out with various friends in the cafeteria and eventually decided to take the bus home. I walked into my door and my dad was sitting patiently on the living room recliner. He smiled and said welcome home. He then asked how did everyone like my outfit? I immediately smiled and let him know everyone loved it! He then asked me how the kids and the teacher at my Medical Assisting class liked the outfit. To which I replied “they loved it”. My dad repeated “and your teacher?”. I squirmed nervously. “She was not there today, we had a substitute, but she liked it.” I said. Immediately my father got up and smacked me hard in the face. I felt woozy at first and then blood started dripping from my nose. All I could taste was blood. I sat there astonished at what had just happened. “I was supposed to pick you up from your class, but you were not there. The teacher told me you never showed up.” I sat there holding my face in tears. My dad threw his car keys at me and told me to go to my scheduled therapist appointment and that we would discuss everything further when I got home.

I went to my therapist and told her everything. By this time my lip was swollen and bruised. I told her I did not want to go home. I was terrified of what he might do to me. We called my friends mom who instructed me to come straight to her house. That night I stayed with my friend and went to school in the morning. My teacher in my first period class saw my bruises and sent me to the school nurse. I walked down the hall embarrassed and ashamed of the newly acquired bruises trying to avoid eye contact with anyone. The nurse gave me an ice pack, two Tylenol, and had instructed me to lay down and rest for a bit.

An unknown amount of time later I was approached by the school police officer. He sat down next to me and told me he had to ask me a few questions. He asked who did this to me and why. I told him everything. I was escorted to the local police station where I was asked to fill out a report. My friends mother met me at the station. She advised that I would be staying with her and that the cop would be coming with us to pack out my stuff quickly so I could finish the remaining school year with them. At least I was going to be with my friend I thought. We went back to my house and the police officer and my friends mom spoke while my friend and I frantically packed everything I could think of that I needed into a few garbage bags. In under 20 minutes we were packed and on the way to her house.

I was free from the violence once again…..

 

Internal Curiosity and More Secrets *Trigger warning sexual abuse

Throughout the next few years I began to let go of the feeling of abandonment and the fear of men. I made lots of new friends and even attended weekly church groups. My mother made sure I had plenty of positive experiences to help distract me from my troubled past. I still had various moments of anxiety and aggression, but I was on a steady path to improvement.

My parents made sure that during this time I maintained a relationship with my biological mother. We had a long distance relationship where she would call and write me letters. I would always keep in touch with my Grandparents, Aunt, and Brother as well. My Grandparents, Aunt, and Brother would visit me during most summers. They would stay at our house and part of me felt whole.

Throughout my younger years I really struggled with an internal hyper-sexual curiosity that I never discussed with anyone out of fear of what would happen. I knew and remembered the many times I had seen plenty of male body parts and the images were always flashing through my mind. I had discovered a channel on the cable box called “Playboy” and began obsessively watching it. I finally understood what had happened to me and I just wanted to learn more and more.

When I was about 6 or 7 years old while visiting with younger guests I was asked by one of my family members and he asked if he could see my girl parts. We played a troubling game of “I will show you mine if you show me yours.” Allowing my curiosity to get the best of me, I let him touch me. He put me in strange sexual positions and told me not to tell anyone or I would get in a lot of trouble. Knowing deep down that something was wrong and that my new parents would be seriously upset with the situation, I kept it a secret until writing this blog. I have always been extremely embarrassed that I should have known better and I have always been so afraid to expose the individual. Although I do not spend time with this individual, they are still in my life to an extent. This has always weighed heavily on my mind causing great anxiety. After this whole experience, we resumed our lives and we acted like it never even happened.

I held on to my adult and impure thoughts for most of my youth. My parents noticed something was off as they heard the sounds of the “Playboy” channel from my room. They eventually put a parental lock on the channel. That did not stop me haha. My sexual curiosity was always there. I wanted to learn more of what was supposed to happen with a woman and a man and even women with other women. The thought that another woman was doing the things that I had been forced to do made my many inappropriate memories feel less dirty and more normal. I had this thought in my head of what sex was supposed to be based on these dirty movies I would watch. I never knew this would backfire later on in life….

 

 

Starting school and adjusting to my new life…

The first year of being in my new home was really rough. I barely knew my new family and struggled with the fear of living with a new man in my life. I quickly took on to calling my great aunt “mom” as she became quite the maternal figure in my life.  I referred to my great uncle as “uncle” because I refused to open up. I spent most nights having nightmares and struggling with dealing with  my pent up aggression and fears. My new guardians made sure I was seeing a psychiatrist on a daily basis to help me talk about my experiences so I would not act out at home. I was quickly diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or CPTSD. The psychiatrist I was working with used various forms of games and photos to help me open up and explain my feelings and try to help with the nightmares. The psychiatrist helped me work through my fear of being in the room alone with men and my fear of abandonment and being left alone.

Going into elementary school was a serious adjustment for me. I was not a very socialized child. I spent a lot of time doing those Pre-K and Kindergarten practice books that taught me the alphabet and helped me practice reading. I found solace and peace in learning new things, It helped me drown out the graphic memories of the first few years of my life.

Once I started school I completely opened up. I blossomed into a bit of a social butterfly of sorts. I made lots of new friends and started adjusting to my new life at home. It did not take long for the teachers to notice something was off. I would refuse to answer by my last name and not listen to the teachers when they asked me to do something. My teachers brought my guardians in to discuss my home life and behavioral issues in class. They advised my new mother that they believed I had Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. My new mother brought me to my routine psychiatrist appointment and advised her of the situation. I was quickly put on Ritalin. I finished out the remaining years of elementary school experimenting with various ADD medications.

Meanwhile, at home, I listened to my new mother and my uncle fight over whether or not the medication was just a “crutch” and that ADD was just a made up thing to describe a child’s hyperactivity. My uncle was from South America and raised with a completely different mentality. My mother was becoming increasingly worried about me not warming up to my uncle so she advised the therapists I needed additional counseling. After quite a few years of behavioral therapy and various play therapy games I finally was able to see my uncle as a father figure. My fear of him dissipated and I began to call him dad.

Finally things were coming together….

 

The first four years… (Trigger Warning Graphic Information)

My mother had previously given birth to a son who she turned over to her sister because she could not raise him. The agreement was that my aunt would raise him and my mother would still be active in his life as the title “aunt”. In February of 1986 my mother got married to her then long time boyfriend. Shortly after they were married, he was shipped out and stationed at an Army base in Colorado, my mother soon followed. The events that followed after that are unclear.

My mother returned to New York pregnant with me and no longer in a relationship with her husband. December 1986 I was born. Newly divorced, my mother moved from apartment to apartment with her various boyfriends, lived with my grandparents for some time, and then settled into a small trailer off a dirt road in western New York a few miles from the Pennsylvania border. My mother struggled with her own diagnosed mental illnesses and family trauma and therefore struggled raising me. She had no money, no job, and lived off of a fixed income from the government. My mother always took in all of her friends, feeding and sheltering them. I was kicked out of my room to sleep on the couch most of the times. She had several men come in and out of the home while I was there.  Some times I was forced to spend nights with various men in my bed. My mother frequently left me with friends and family members while she went out. There was this one guy in particular who used me sexually for various reasons. Other times men and women would do things in the room while I was present. There were even a few occasions my mother would also join in on the activities. Most of the time I tried to pretend I was asleep. One of the most confusing times for me was when I saw my mother with a 16 year old guy and not with my step-father at that time. I learned the hard way to just keep my mouth shut and not ask questions.

On a few occasions while my mother was out she left me at one of her “friends” apartments. I distinctly remember he gave me big red gum every time I came over. He was polite and kind from what I remember. One day while I was in his apartment bedroom, watching TV on the floor, he went over to the television and shut it off. He then came over to me and advised me to perform acts that I didn’t understand. He put his private parts in my mouth. Obviously as a three-year old I was unaware of what this was and I fully trusted this man. I resisted a bit and was forced to finish the deed. I felt a warm liquid substance in my mouth and instantly spit it out. He then explained to me that the things that happened there were our little secret and things that should not be told to other people and I would get more big red gum as a result. To this day, the smell of big red gum gives me flashbacks.

My mother was usually so preoccupied with her friends and various relationships, that she did not have time to focus on feeding and bathing me. My Aunt would try to put my hair up in a pony tail when she saw me, but this was only once or twice a week. There was this one night I could not sleep because my hair kept getting in my eyes so I got up and shaved part of it off so it would not be in my way anymore. Needless to say I got in a lot of trouble for this.

My mother eventually found another boyfriend who moved into the trailer with us. I remember on countless occasions I would be really hungry so I used to climb onto the small kitchen counter and grab boxes of cereal and I would eat straight out of the box. I was caught various times by my moms then boyfriend. He would beat me and tell me I was not supposed to be climbing on the counter and that I was a terrible child with no manners and I needed to be punished. He would force me to sit on the couch until my mother returned home. At times this would go on for hours. I was not allowed to move to go to the bathroom, to eat, or play with my toys. The repercussions if I did meant more beatings so I just sat there hungry and dirty in fear of what would happen if I moved.

One morning I woke up and I was so hungry I went to my Mom’s room only to find two men and some woman in the bed sleeping. My mother stayed some where else that evening. I was going to make myself food, but in fear of spending another day confined to the couch, I decided to try to walk to my grandmother’s house which was just a few miles down the road. So, in my small dirty t-shirt and an old pair of shorts, I climbed out of an open window and started my journey down the snow covered dirt road. Shortly after I started walking a passer-by saw me and that I had no shoes and barely any clothes on so they pulled over to investigate. I was brought back to the trailer where I was severely punished for leaving. The stranger did report the events to the police (who apparently knew me from previous escape attempts) finally got social services involved. The first time around the judge just ordered my mother to not leave me with any man outside of my grandfather. But, after a few other reports the judge agreed enough was enough.

I am unsure of the exact events that followed. I remember being told that I was going to live with my grandmother’s sister and her husband and I was confused. I remember being really afraid and sad. I later learned that social services was brought into the situation and they advised my mother that if someone in the family did not take me then I was going to be put into foster care. My grandmother knew her sister had got married and had children that were much older and her and her husband wanted a child of their own. They seized the opportunity to take me promising me a much better life.

I came down late November – December 1991 just after Christmas and right before my 5th birthday. The next year of my life was a cluster of social service appointments, mandated psychiatric counseling, and various court proceedings over custody. My mother claimed I was the daughter of her first marriage and the court had brought in her ex-husband to take DNA tests. After a few viles of blood were taken and some time elapsed we learned he was not my father. My mother then agreed to give me over to her aunt and uncle and granted them legal guardianship. She would not however agree to allow them to fully adopt me as she did not want to let me go. I was considered a ward of the state.

So began my life in my new home with my new family….