Growing up in the 80s, I thought I had the best life. Yeah, my mom was tough on me, and I was beaten on the regular for things like misspelling one word on my spelling test, but wasn't everyone? To me, this was normal. My dad never hit me. He would get in my face and scream profanity at me, but never hit me. He remarried when I was 13 and he slowly backed out of my sister’s and my life. He told me when she left him 27 years later that he did what he needed to do to make his marriage work.
The first monster entered my life early on. He was our neighbor. He had a pool, and he knew all about cars! He had a daughter six years older than me, and I thought she was so cool! The rumor was that he and my mom were having an affair. I really don’t know. I just know he is a monster. He married my mom when I was 10 and it all began. He would grab me and pull on my shirt in a “playful” way. I would always return with a punch or a slap to his arm. Mom took it as playful gestures. No, I never went to her about it because I knew she wouldn't believe me, and I didn’t want to face that pain.The older I got, the worse things became. When my mom would leave, he would sit me down and tell me all the sexual things he wanted to do to me so that I would know how it should feel. I was terrified! I would sit in the recliner, all balled up, shaking my head ferociously. I would wake up in the middle of the night and find him on my floor with a flashlight trying to look at me. He would tell me the dog got in my room, and he was checking to see if he used the bathroom. Eventually, my mom did find out and because she didn’t approve of my boyfriend at that time, she didn’t care.
The second monster came in the form of my first real boyfriend. I was 16 and he was 19. I begged my mom to allow me to date him. She did not like it, however, she allowed it. Unfortunately, in one short month, he would create so much trauma that would last for the rest of my life. Even though I was starved for attention, I really wasn't ready for a physical relationship. I gave in to him once and he took that as open consent. After that, he would force himself on me regularly. I didn’t like it and was scared to death of all the risk, but he was a big guy and got what he wanted. He dumped me after a month, and I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t know what to do.
This begins one of the most traumatic events of my life. When I finally mustered up the courage to tell my mom, it went just as horrible as I thought it would. I was called really horrible names, belittled, and forced to terminate it. We went to my mom’s friend's house after we took the test in a bathroom at Hardee’s. As we were talking, her friend said, “I hate to say what needs to be done.” My mom confirmed that, indeed, it was going to be done! I had no idea what they were even talking about. Once my mom and I talked about it later on, I just agreed so she would love me again. My mom’s love always seemed to come with certain conditions. This experience was horrifying. The doctor was aggressive, we were lined up in recliners, and I got extremely sick afterwards.
My mom told me I had to keep this a secret. “Don’t tell anyone. I wouldn’t even tell your husband when you get married.” So, not only did I feel disgusted for what I had done, but now, I have to carry around this HUGE secret. We never told any family about it. I did open up to friends that I trusted. My second semester in college Freshman year, it all hit me and I fell into a depression. I didn’t go to class, I drank a lot, and lost my Financial Aid. This was my very first experience with depression. It was awful. I was in a very bad place about ending my pregnancy and didn’t know how to get out of it. I ended up failing all my classes and losing my Financial Aid for the following year. I was able to finally get relief from my depression when I went to work that summer at a church camp. It was an amazing experience for me to work with kids in a ministry setting. I was able to spend time with God and fellowship with other young Christians.
I eventually graduate, get real jobs, and fall in love!
We do all the things. We buy a house, I change jobs and become a teacher like him, and we have a kid. A beautiful girl. Life is great. His parents are annoying but so are mine. His mom agrees to keep our daughter so we don’t have to put her in day care. This becomes leverage for her to control me. Now, my relationship with my in-laws and my husband has become extremely toxic. When I got married, I was hoping to escape all the toxic family drama but it got way worse. I could write a memoir just on the things his mother did to me that he supported.
After I had my second daughter, I started to experience major depression. I didn’t know how to handle all of it. There were so many things going on with my family that all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and disappear. I was in a very toxic situation. I didn’t know how to deal with it so I chose a very poor way of coping. I knew the meds I got for my back made me feel better so I started taking them in the evenings to help me get through all the things a wife and mom has to do. Unfortunately, it got way out of hand before I was able to get help. I hurt a lot of people along the way and I lost some as well. I lost a lot of things. I lost myself most importantly. The biggest mistake I made years ago was trying to be someone I am not. I was trying to fit the image of who I thought my husband wanted. Oddly enough, I never asked him what he wanted. I just assumed he wanted me to behave a certain way. It literally drove me crazy. I thought I was losing my mind. I do take full responsibility for making poor choices. Just as anyone else who has an unhealthy relationship with any substance, I had no intentions of things spiraling the way it did. Nobody wakes up one day and says, “I think I’ll be a crackhead today.” (I didn't smoke crack. This is just an example) I wish I would have made better choices. We all do the best we have with the tools we are given. The older we get the more tools we have in our belt.
I went through detox, found a therapist, and did really well for five years. I was working on my Master’s Degree in English Education, and everything was going fine. I get a call from a former coworker who needs an English teacher and really wants me to come to his school. I started in October of 2018. The kids love me but the adults let me know that the feelings are not the same with them. Many make my life difficult. By February of 2019, I lost my Papa. This was the first major loss I had experienced. My department was very unforgiving. I was told to get over it. That’s what happens to old people, they die. Little did I know what I was facing in the future.
The Summer of 2019 was good. We were putting our house on the market. We have been ready to sell our house and move closer to the girls school for years. Now, it was looking better. My plans were working out. It was July 16th and I was getting ready to head out for VBS. my cell phone rang but I ignored it because I was in a rush. Then, the house phone rang. Caller ID showed it was my mom but my dad’s sister was on the line when I picked up. I knew it was bad as soon as she said my name. My dad had done it. He was successful this time. He had attempted suicide in January. He was an alcoholic my entire life, or so I have been told. I have never seen my dad drink. Everyone else has though. He also suffers from chronic pain due to severe scoliosis. He had swapped beer for pills. I had been there, done that and, unfortunately, fallen back in myself. I had been worried for years of an overdose but never this. My sister wasn’t surprised. I guess I really wasn’t but I was very angry. This man had always avoided having a relationship with us and now he really made sure I had no chance of having one. I was furious with him! How could he do this to us?? Then, I fell into the what if’s. I beat myself to death over the what if’s. That went on for years. I needed the quarantine. I was getting depressed again so being forced to stay home was a dream to me. I loved it.
We returned to school with a modified schedule in the Fall of 2020. The Assistant Principal over my department had already begun yelling at me. We had known each other before he was my superior. We worked together as teachers at another school. He liked to use me as an example for the rest of the group and would tear me apart. I explained that I was very fragile and if this was how things were going to go, let me know now because I cannot work like this. He assured me that I would be fine and not to quit. I was very fragile and in therapy once a week per the school’s request. There was a teacher on our team that was sending him and the Principal horrible emails about me. Lying about what I was and was not doing in class. I would go to my AP for help and was dismissed. I was told that it was just petty, women drama and we need to learn how to get along. I was devastated. I had never been in a situation like this before. He called us in a meeting and I was blamed for everything. I thought I was in the twilight zone. Due to all the stress I was under at school and still grieving my dad and Papa, I was not doing well.
I had picked the girls up from school one afternoon and the vision of ramming my car into a tree would not leave my mind. I was scared and very overwhelmed. I called my doctor’s office and was told I needed to go to the hospital. My husband came home while I was on the phone crying with my therapist. She told him what he needed to do with me. He was not happy about it. He’s never been supportive of me seeking out help. I really don’t understand why. After he threw his hissy fit, I got my things together and he drove to a hospital about 45 minutes away and left me there. I sat there, for hours, by myself, waiting for a room so I could tell them what was going on. I have always had to do this on my own, besides having God support me, no human has walked with me or been there for me during the most difficult times I have had to experience. I eventually got called back, put in a room, and was court ordered for a 7 day stay in a mental health facility. The facility was horrible. They did nothing to help me. The only benefit from being there was I didn’t have to think for a week. I wasn’t being yelled at by my AP, I didn’t have to worry about feeding anyone, I didn’t have to plan lessons, all I had to do was worry about myself for once. My mom, grandma, and cousin drove up to pick me up when my stay was over. I was sent home with a plethora of pills that I got mixed up and almost overdosed myself. NOT on purpose!! I took a leave of absence for the rest of the semester. I was able to teach online Spring 2021. That was a wonderful blessing. I could see that the principal was really working with me.
I returned to school for the Fall of 2021. The AP had moved on and I thought everything was going to be fine. The teacher that was harassing me was moved because once I left, she went after other teachers and they finally realized I was telling the truth. I had never lied to them so I don’t know why they didn’t believe me to begin with. Things were extremely hostile when I returned. The teachers were interfering with my students. They were constantly butting in my business. By March 3, I resigned. As much as I loved working with the students, they were amazing, I had to leave for my mental health. It was the right decision.
Fast forward to now, I am literally in the best spot I could ever be. I have opened up to my husband about all the events from the past that have hurt me. We talked about how his parents affected me and the role they played in my addiction. We discussed EVERYTHING! I am working at a wonderful school that I love and my coworkers love me. I lost my grandma this past March. I know she is my angel now. I know she helped guide me to where I am now. She was the most wonderful person I ever had in my life. She’s the only person who I know truly loved me. I know she was ready to go and I’m glad she’s with my Papa again. Her death actually gave a new look at life. I know she wants me to have a happy and loving life. I do too. I will find joy in everything now. I’m so excited to see all the wonderful things my amazing daughters will do. I can’t wait for the days ahead for them. I’ll always be their biggest fan. I will never be the perfect mom. I don’t think anyone is. However, my girls know that I love them unconditionally, they can always talk to me about anything, and no matter what, I will always be there for them.
I have searched long and hard to find the right person to take care of me. I have taken care of everyone since I was young. No one has ever taken care of me. No one buys me gifts, brings me sweet notes, or takes me out to show me off. I have learned that I am the one who takes care of others. Not the one that others take care of. I have struggled with understanding why? What makes me an easy target? I know part of it is boundaries not being put into place. I am doing this now. But, my life isn’t over. I still might get it.