Updated: Aug 21, 2018
One of the most vivid memories I have from my childhood was the ache of hunger. I was sleeping in the back of a barely functioning car, eating any garbage my mother could find behind the local fast food restaurant, smiling to cope with the confusion and unhappiness I had.
For the early part of my childhood, my family consisted of both my Mother and Father. However, my father, a man I barely got to know, turned to other women and substance abuse to escape the realities of our life and soon repudiated any relation to my mother and I. Unfortunately, this was more than my mother could handle and, as she soon discovered, she dreaded her job as my mother too.
As I grew into a young lady I gained my voice. However, the voice I gained encouraged my mother that she should match my voice. My mother’s responses, unlike mine, were brutal, and argumentative, and ruthless and insolent.
On the way home from school most nights, my mother would already be under the influence of various substances. We would drive to pick up her boyfriend of the time, from his court-mandated Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The drives were always fast and frightening. My mother would threaten me with her signature threat on the way home. My drunk, yelling, driving mother would turn around in the car and say “I despise the day you were born.” She would follow this by saying she was going to put a hammer to my mouth when we got home to shut me up or that I would make her so mad someday that she would make sure I wouldn't wake up the next. Once we were home, she would barge into my room, and the physical pain followed her verbal attacks. My mother would completely pin me down then she would punch me, smack me, suffocate me, kick me until she could she could tell I knew what pain felt like. By this point in my life I was twelve and I knew I deserved more.
I felt as if it was my responsibility to take care of my mother and shake her from her bad habits. Soon I discovered these were not habits, they were addictions and I had no way to help her, but I could help myself.
I finally looked past my fear and reported my mother. This was a long process, which resulted in me being filtered through family court and being placed in various foster homes. Most of my teenage years were driven by fear. My home life was still shaky, and I never knew if the safety I was feeling could be stripped away in an instance if my mother returned to my life. Regardless I fought for a better life. I put my academics first while balancing multiple part time jobs through both high school and college. Throughout it all, I maintained my perspective and positivity.
The transition from childhood to this new idea of adulthood has been joyous, stressful, indulging, and remarkable. I wish you could have seen how much I have changed. I also wish I could tell you about it, but the transformation is too big to put to words. I ensure you – the repressed, the abused, the neglected – you deserve better and you can deliver that for yourself.