I wrote a long post about the things I have lived through in my life, and was trying to explain how this played a role in who I am. It got tedious and I didn’t want to write a novel, so here’s the short short version.
- seen my mother held at gunpoint by the man I called daddy (my stepfather)
- been thrown across the room trying to save my mother from that man as he straddled her and slapped her like a rag doll
- been molested by that man from ages 5-9
- been petted and degraded by his friends for favors
- been held at gunpoint by policemen as our house was raided for a drug bust
- lived in poverty for all of that time. We didn’t have phone services, occasionally ate Hamburger Helper without the hamburger, lived on government commodities and goodwill baskets.
- Moved across two states with nothing more than what could fit in a minivan
- struggled with leaving a small quiet country town for a urban school district with racial tensions
- been molested by the brother I moved in with
- been molested by the uncle I moved in with
- listened to my grandmother call my mother no-good trash and say that I was raised by wolves
- lived in a one-bedroom apartment with 6 people and a baby
- shared a bedroom with my abuser until I was 13
- sliced my abuser with a steak knife in a desperate attempt to avoid another beating
- suffered through three years of attending a school in which most of my classmates had seen naked pictures of my mother screwing various items and men (not my father)
- tried committing suicide twice before the age of 16
- started drinking at the age of 13
- started using drugs at the age of 13
- started cutting at the age of 13
- laid stoically through an attempted rape
- suffered through my parents’ various mental illnesses and irrational fits of rage, which included throwing a stereo, scissors, booster seat, and various books at me at random times
- listened to my mother swear she was going to kill me because I had the nerve to call her counselor and alert them to her being crazy again
- deal with my father kicking in my door (and removing the lock for the rest of the time I lived with them) because I had locked it before I left for school to stop my parents from stealing my babysitting money
- Sit through a long screaming lecture from my mother about how the cops said all the abuse I endured was my fault and that I didn’t love her anymore because I reported the abuse and neglect
- Ran away from home after my mother and father got into a screaming match and my youngest brother was knocked over in a fit of rage
- Was denied treatment for my mental illnesses (depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and PTSD) because my mom felt the therapists were blaming her for my condition.
- Sit through another lecture from my mother in which she informed me that *when* (not if) I got knocked up, I certainly wasn’t going to get any help or support from them, including having a place to live. That’s rich coming from a woman who had her fist child out of wedlock at the age of 16 and her second at 19. She also refused to give me access to birth control.
- never learned to: drive, balance a checkbook, drink responsibly, apply for a job, apply for college, or have a meaningful relationship with a partner
Given all of that (and more that I just don’t feel like thinking about or writing about) it is no wonder I ended up in a halfway house for a week while my meds and treatment were ironed out. I spent four years in therapy, 5 years on medication. By the time I was able to get the help I needed, I had internalized the constant stream of negativity and abuse from my family into an auditory hallucination. I thought I could hear people’s thoughts about me, and it was *never* good. It was actually the negative feedback loop I had grown up with, being projected onto others to save my self.
And for once, I can say I am truly past that. I am whole and sane, with many interesting scars and stories to tell about them. I am a complex slave to own, with a trying and tricksy history that makes even the most normal of situations into a challenge at times.
It is that history that makes me confident in saying I know what abuse is, and how N and I live our lives is nothing like abuse. It is that history that makes me confident in saying I can fully offer my consent as a sane adult, because I know what it is like to be an impaired adult. It is that history that makes me able to fully appreciate what I have now: security, love, appreciation, and happiness.
I have walked through the fire, scraped my knees on the jagged edges of insanity, and am whole and pure in the face of the future. I am battle-hardened, sharpened to a wicked point by pain and endurance.
I am, who I am, and I love myself for who I have become.