Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beautiful China Dish


  Four, count that: 1,2,3-4!! Four days left of school, and then externship!!  I really, REALLY hope that this works out and I have a job by the end of it! BUT if I don’t, I have faith that I’ll find a job quickly, even if it’s not necessarily what I want, but it’ll be a job, right?? 

In other news, “Dun Dun Dun”…things have slowed down here, slowly growing quieter day by day.  I still have the mag articles (which I’m SUPER stoked about), and the occasional volunteer time (which looks like it’ll be picking up pace here VERY soon), but otherwise…quiet.  And with perfect timing.  Everything is happening and falling together around the same time: the blog, the articles, the volunteering, school, extern, and hopefully, work.  It’s like the universe said “Hey, feel like you haven’t gotten anywhere near your dreams lately?? Let me sing you the song of my people!” *Fling* “Have fun being a grown up!!”.  And I couldn’t be happier.  My life is falling together just the way I want it to right now, today.  Things are never perfect, but they are pretty damn close. 


  Life has not always been so sunny (obviously, y’all have read most of that lol), and it hasn’t always been so clear.  It really is a pretty new outlook for me, one that’s only a few years old. Although it feels like it’s been forever since my Great Revelation, it really hasn’t. Even after it there was a loooong time I struggled with my own happiness.  I can confidently say that’s no longer a problem.  I’m happy, I’m healthy(er) ;), I’m moving forward, and above all else, I have my AMAZING family right beside me for this whole journey.  I’m sure there will days (frequently) in the future that I will forget nights like tonight and I will feel down and defeated. But I know it’ll be temporary. I will be right back up to where I am right now…or even better.




 When CPS came and told me I had to leave Keith, and I realized I had nowhere else to go but back to Maryland, a part of me was ecstatic, and a part of me was heartbroken.  I missed “home” so much, but I had a life in New York too, and for the most part it was good.  It feels like a lifetime ago that I was stepping back off a plane, this time back into a place I thought I’d always rather be.  I arrived in Baltimore in November of 2005, heart-broken and lost, but hopeful (falsely if nothing else).  I had a friend who worked in BW Airport and lived in Baltimore. I stayed with him for a few days, but quickly realized that was not going to work.  I decided to go home to College Park where my extended family lived, pray for a place to stay and time to figure out my life. 


My childhood was officially over. 


  There was nothing left of it, I could no longer cling to the hope that it’d arrive on the doorstep one day, cold and lost and say “Here I am!!  Let’s get together and have some fun now!”…yeah... no, that just wasn’t going to happen.  It was time to buck and be a big girl, get a job, create an adult life that I wasn’t prepared for… ironically. 

At this point, I was 16 years old with all of the wisdom of the world.  Considering I was past the 16 and ½ mark I was closer to 17 and, well, that was good enough for me. I’d spent the last 5 years trying like hell to just grow up and I had arrived!  I’d lied about my age for so long, I almost began believing it.  But this was the time to stop, analyze, and make myself live the reality I’d been trying to infiltrate.  But hey, adults party don’t they???  Well, I was an adult, it was time to have some real adult fun! 


  After going back to Maryland, the only communication I had with Keith was phone calls and it didn’t take long for the phone calls between Keith and I to get tense, realize the other was unhappy and lying about what we were doing while apart, and eventually, we’d both just come out with the fact that we’d found others to occupy us while we were apart.  He was forced (more or less)admitted this first. He thought he’d stupidly knocked someone up and figured I’d hear about it sooner rather than later.  It was just the excuse we both needed to put a label on what was happening and call it a breakup.  We were ok with that. We just stopped calling and went about our lives as normal. 


  Having moved back to the little neighborhood I’d lived in for the majority of my childhood, I quickly filled my time hanging out with familiar people who’d been in my life throughout the years.   There were some who hadn’t been a friend through the years, but a presence none-the-less. One in particular became a very important someone during this time. 

Chris* was younger than me, 15 at the time, he was such a sweet innocent boy.  He’d grown up in a house just a few doors down and his family was a solid one.  He had no idea when his hormones caught interest in me what a damaged and sad girl I was or how awful I’d treat him.  And to be honest, I had no idea either.  The little girl, the abused and broken child part of me hungered for the love and attention; the whole-hearted devotion he was offering me. The damaged part of me did nothing but trample on it and break his heart.  For four months I played him, strung him along, gave little and took much, cheated and then I left him.  I left him there broken and miserable and totally confused about what the fuck he’d just gone through.  I gave no cares about his feelings, about the damage I was causing him.  Because of ALL the abuse and trauma I’d endured, I effortlessly did much of the same kind of trauma to him. I ripped his innocent heart to pieces and then left him. 

Or at least that's how it feels to me. Logically I know it was BECAUSE of all I'd been through and the damage done. The part of me that knew better and still believes everything was my choice also believes I should have handled it differently-regardless of the damaged parts that were destroying me from the inside out.

  
  I lived with various family members, all of whom believed just as I did, that I was adult enough to live my own life, or scared to try and stop me.  And Chris’s family didn’t like what he was doing with me, or the amount of time we spent together.  But it was easy for me to live one way with him, and then go home and shower it all off and be a different person.   I must’ve cheated on him every night for the four months.  I would leave his house, go home, get dressed, and walk right back out the door to someone else’s place and stay the night there.  Looking back, it feels like I must’ve just turned off my little Jiminy Cricket and just floated along, doing whatever the hell I wanted…because I was an “adult”.  While there was no one there guiding me in any way through the minefield of my life, I am also not sure they would have been able to steer me in the right direction if there was someone. Like I said, I was an adult. And like most teenagers who decide they're adults, I knew it all.  I just wish looking back now that there was someone to be my Jiminy Cricket.


  In the end, I never got a job, I never did anything productive.  I didn’t make anyone’s life better, or contribute to anyone’s day to day.  I just “did me” and when I was done, I got my ass on a Greyhound bus and I left. 


  I obliviously went back to NY and called Keith. I moved right back in with him the moment I set foot back in Mayville.  Besides the few phone calls and texts, I forgot what I’d done while I was in Maryland.  On my life went, without a thought in the world for anything I’d wrecked in Maryland.  I cannot, in a million years, take back what I did to that poor sweet boy.  He never knew, and he never will.  I broke him. He hates me, rightfully so.  It took a few more years after this to finally admit to myself all of the wrong I’d done. I humbly accepted the karma coming my way for it.  I’ve accepted it every day since.  I can never physically apologize to him. I’ll never call or write.  But if he reads this, and I don’t pretend to assume he will, but if he does, I hope he believes these words.  I hope he knows how truly, truly sorry and remorseful I am.  Above all, I hope he has found happiness.  I hope his life is full and he has love and confidence in his relationships. 



“Grab a plate and throw it to the ground. Did it break?”

“Yes.”

“Now say sorry to it.” “Sorry.”

“Did it go back to the way it was before?”

“No.” “Now do you understand?”

Yes, I do.


  I hope he’s filled his cracks with gold.  I hope that where I broke him, he is now beautiful because of it.  He should be whole, he shouldn’t have to live with cracks and I can’t “Sorry” them away. But I hope that where I broke him, he’s more beautiful because of them.



I look back at my actions now and they disgust me. I am embarrassed to the tip of my toes to the very split ends of my hair. It's almost impossible to view my actions without all that I've learned since then.  It's very hard to realize that the damage I did to that amazing young man was an extension of the damage within me. This entire blog is filled with stories that I still view as 100% MY doing. I have never lived a life where there was an adult parent to guide me. I'd been pretty much on my own for everything other than shelter for 5 years or more at this point.


  There is no manual that can be handed to a 12 year old who is responsible for learning to be a responsible, respectable, respectful adult. That comes from the adults in our lives and I didn't have that guidance-I had the guidance of pimps like Angelo and Tyrone. They had used me in much the same way I used Chris.


Those were the influences that shaped who I was.


  I look back and I did know other people in my life who were good, decent, respectable, respectful and didn't do what I did. I know NOW those are the people I should have been emulating. I know I was incredibly damaged and there was so much therapy needed.
But in my heart? I know I am also responsible for my actions and that balance is something I struggle with every day of my life.  Balancing that responsibility and making my brain remember and view everything that happened in those years with the knowledge that I am a victim and that abuse shaped those actions as much as my own free will is very hard. I own the blame for his hurt, but I know too that the reasons I did what I did are far more complicated than just a self-centered teenage girl.
 
   I am working through my damage and hurts. I am making better choices, but I have a long road in the coming months and years.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ironic



  Due to all the excitement in the last week, I’ve been pretty preoccupied and not able to spend any good chuck of time at the computer and I feel really guilty!!  Like all things in life, we have high points and we have low points, and I’ve had a lot of both in the last few weeks.  A month or maybe 2 ago, I was approached about an article and decided to accept the interview, and unfortunately didn’t make the cut, and I was ok with that because shortly after I was approached for another awesome article.  Soon after a THIRD was proposed, and following right behind, a TV appearance.   I got REALLY excited about all of these opportunities while also having finally starting my volunteer work for an anti-sex trafficking organization AND finishing up my college program.  LOTS going on.  In the end of all of this excitement I’m left having been chosen for the two articles, turned down from the TV opportunity, and still making awesome strides in school and in volunteering.  I was pretty devastated about the TV thing, and then I was pretty pissed…and then I was humbled.  I realized that in the midst of the excitement, I’d sort of forgotten the important thing, my priorities:family, blog, school, volunteering.  I’m so excited to still be doing the articles because I feel that they are the beginning of my great success and journey on where I’m going.  They are the full circle.  But I’m also glad things are slowing down and I can concentrate on me for a while, and work on my inner-turmoil and the struggles I still face when drudging up my past.  That is where I need to be RIGHT NOW.  Also…I have a cold and my body hurts sooo, that’s probably a sign I need to slow down. 

   
  After getting to New York and meeting Kris and Drew, life went in a few different drastic and confusing directions long before it went in the right direction.  It took many years of failed, or sabotaged relationships for me to understand my self worth and my own personal value, and to basically love myself.  When I first started school and testing the social waters, I found myself trying DESPERATELY to find a better situation than what I’d just come from.  I started making friends in all the little social cliques to get a feel for where I belonged, and I made a few mistakes before I settled in where I felt most comfortable.  I wanted to be accepted and liked, and I wanted people to want to know me, so long as they didn’t want to know the old me.  I started at the top of the ladder with the good kids, the seniors who had their lives outside of high school right before them, and I wanted to be them so badly. 
  
  In each social group I infiltrated, I had a boyfriend (or several) before moving on to the next.  With the “Seniors” it was a sweet boy, totally unsuspecting of the damaged girl with far too much ambition and baggage.  Wanting so badly to be loved in what I assured myself was a healthy manner, I became clingy, and he freaked out.  It seems to be a pattern in my life.  If I get feelings, I get clingy.  It taught me not to slow down, but to harden myself.  And through that I caused a lot of damage to others.  Sweet guys who never knew what was coming and sure as hell didn’t deserve it.  The sweet senior boy and his friends quickly slipped out of my life, and I was soon onto another group of friends, people I’d already began making friendships with in the beginning. 
  
  My next boyfriend was a kid who I didn’t know well, who hadn’t been in the area long, but cute, and a little bad ass.  My age though, and that was never a comfortable position for me.  I preferred older guys, guys who I felt were more mature.  BUT I was trying to be normal, and “healthy” and I set aside my past preferences and tried like hell to be happy.  It never lasted long.  I’d always be on my way into the next relationship before the previous one really ended.  They always happened in random ways, never intentional, just me being me and finding ways to subconsciously sabotage whatever good I might have before it got too comfortable.  About 7 months after we’d moved to NY and a long string of guys I’d mangled and spit out, I met a guy who I thought was pretty bad ass.  He was quiet, and he was HUGE (literally, like he was wide and stood a good height) and I knew nothing of him and he knew nothing of me.  I’d met him at a little party amongst me and 4 others, including him.  I followed my then-boyfriend’s sister to this apartment for a night out and there we got drunk and had a grand time.  I remember initially thinking he’s shorter friend was cuter, but my boyfriend’s sister had her eye on him and I figured that’d be a dangerous route.  So I turned my attention to the tall one, and I flirted, and I got drunk and I got stupid and made bad decisions as always.  And my boyfriend had a really shitty sister who didn’t care what I was doing so long as it wasn’t with “her man”.  Who the hell is ok with girls cheating on their brothers and basically facilitating that?? Anyhow, so before I knew it, I was already seeing this tall guy and had broke up with the boyfriend.  Always an easy transition because I felt like I had no conscience when it came to hurting others.  I don’t know when I’d hardened so much, but I had, and no fucks were given. 
  
  We’ll refer to “tall guy” as Bobby, because it fits.  Bobby seemed sweet at first, a little odd, and was obviously not made of riches, and we was pushing that “older” thing that I really wanted at 17.  But for whatever reason, I decided there was potential there and I ran with it.  I committed myself to this in the first “official” week with him.  Within 4 months, I’d been drunk, high, and in terrible situations more times than I can count.  I’d been hit, pushed around, and verbally abused and in reality, it was only the tip of the iceberg compared to what Bobby was capable of doing.   And yet, I convinced myself I’d make this relationship work.  I’d had 2 “long-term” relationships in my short life, and neither had lasted 6 months total, but they were all I had to compare love to.  And before I knew it, 4 months had flown by and I found myself in the bed of someone else, the “short friend”. 
  
  By now the first school year was coming to an end, and by the middle of it, I was back to just not going, or going only to avoid the truancy on my mother, but not to learn.  I’d go hung over or still wasted, I’d go and do stupid shit just to be cool, like smoke in a bathroom.  But I’d given up yet again.  And then I left Bobby, and I quickly started building a relationship with Keith*. 

  Keith lived with his grandparents and he was 20.  He wasn’t the hottest guy, he didn’t have all the potential in the world, but he was sweet, and he was gentle.  I look back and I wonder if we ever really loved each other, but I do think we cared, we wanted things to work, at least for the first half.  The summer went by and I was on cloud nine.  I’d moved into his bedroom at his grandparent’s house, mainly because I wanted to FINALLY be out of my mother’s house.  It was a good setup, it seemed to work for us both.  And that summer we were inseparable.  I don’t remember passion or great obsession, but I remember comfort and cuddling, and holding hands everywhere.  And I remember that in some deep way, we never knew each other.  The summer passed and we moved into a trailer on his parent’s property.  It had been vacant for a few years and needed remodeling, but it was ours and we were excited.  I remember sitting on a damp couch looking around and imagining a castle.  I don’t look back at this point in my life often, because after it was over, I wanted to hate him, but right now I’m crying a little, because I’m allowing myself to remember the good with him.  Keith and I lasted about a year total, with a 4 month break in between.  The fall had come and I’d decided to go to school and give it another go (3rd try as a freshman, humiliating much??).  I wanted to be there, I wanted to be normal, and to accomplish something,  and I knew I had a hella long road ahead of me.  But I was determined to make something of myself that fall, I wanted to be better than I had been.  And Keith supported it as much as he really could.  But he also started pulling away.  And I had started pulling away too, because I felt him leaving me.  I had no idea why or when, but I knew it was coming.  He stopped coming home at night, and I’d lay there and cry myself to sleep.  I don’t know if I’d ever call what we had healthy because it wasn’t, it really was wrong, but at the time it was real.  But before either of us had a chance the end things CPS showed up at school and told me that what Keith and I had, had to stop.  And my heart broke.  In that moment, he was my everything.  We had almost 6 months under our belts and that was something major!  But they threatened my mother, and they threatened his parents, and then they threatened him.  And so I gave in.  I had 2 choices.  Go home to my mom, or go home to Maryland, and even though I wanted Keith, a part of me longed to be home.  So I dropped out of high school officially, and I left.  It was early November, and my heart was broken again.  And I stepped back off a plane, angry and alone, the same way I'd stepped off the first plane in New York.  With a heavy heart and no direction.  No ambition left.  I think I’d finally found some twisted path to my happy place, and it’d been disrupted by logic and law, and everything I support now.  Irony.

                                                     

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The New World


  The support I’ve received since starting this blog has been amazing and phenomenal.  It’s been inspiring and it’s been encouraging.  But it’s also led to painful discoveries.  People’s stories I never expected to hear and apologies from those who knew me, but never KNEW me.  All of these things are a blessing.  It may hurt to know that some people did, indeed, judge me, but I know that they are amazing and compassionate people who love whole heartedly and who should never feel guilty for being human.  I hurts to know that someone else was abused by someone who abused me and that I never knew. It hurts to know that I never did anything that would have stopped it from happening to someone else.  It hurts to know that although I’ve gone through ALL of this bullshit, there are people who I hurt that didn’t deserve to be hurt; who were essentially paying for the abuse I had endured.  My need to apologize to them is overwhelming.  I love the support and the encouragement I hear daily, but I really really love knowing that my words are touching people.  These amazing people are coming and telling raw stories, and opening themselves up to me.  Thank you.  I love you. 



  I never knew when we arrived in New York that there’d be people in my life that I would one day look back on and feel complete gratitude and love for.  People who contributed to saving my life in many ways.  When we got to New York I was so angry and so destroyed. The experience was new and raw because it  had just happened. Not only the trauma I'd endured with Angelo, but I'd been ripped away from every bit of my family, friends and everything I'd ever known. I wanted to go back to the only place I’d ever lived, the only people that had loved me unconditionally. Yet here I was stuck in this god awful hick county and I knew NO ONE.

   We arrived in Jamestown New York August 18th 2004, and it was cold in comparison to what Maryland feels like that time of year.  There were hills and trees and it was magnificently quiet. Deafeningly quiet compared to DC.  The people in the tiny little airport were sweet and hospitable.  I stepped off the plane, walked out of the airport and sat on the curb outside and cried.  I wanted to scream and stomp and throw a god awful fit. I wanted to  just go home. 

 I was stuck and I was pissed. 


 We spent the first few days in a hotel in Jamestown and we were enchanted (I pretended not to be) by the small town beauty and the awesome Lucille Ball memorabilia everywhere (her birthplace!!)  Within a few days a realtor got in touch with us and took us to a sweet little cottage on the lake that we’d rent for a few weeks until another house became available.  It was a 2 bedroom house overlooking Lake Chautauqua and it was so cute.  I’ve told my husband many years since that someday I want to buy it as our summer home.  It’s situated right in front of the lake on a hill so when you look off the balcony you see right over the roof of the house across the street. Right in front of you is the water.   The sunset was amazing, the orange glistening off the lake, the birds everywhere.  The air smelt amazing.  The little bar almost right next door and the park just a small walk. 


And I HATED IT ALL!!!!


  Not really, that’s a lie, I knew it then and I especially know it now.  I was miserable and I wanted everyone to be miserable with me.  I didn’t want to be there.  I was terrified.  I’d never been out of my element and I’d never not had control over my ability to meet people and make friends.  Now I was alone with the one person in the world who made me feel unwanted and an inconvenience.  To top it all off my siblings were there hating me and blaming me for taking them from their home, since leaving was 'to protect me.' In their simple childish eyes it was my fault. In my eyes it was my fault. 


  A few weeks after arriving and relocating to a different house it was time to start school.  I don’t know if it has occurred to my readers or not, but in all the 9 months total that I was out on the track and the months before then that I was consistently doing drugs. I never attended school.  I stopped going to school about half way through my 8th grade year. I didn't have to go, why would I? No one cared to make me go. It wasn't an issue to my mother or anyone else, why would I believe that it was so incredibly important? I didn't. I was starting at this new school in New York in what should have been my Sophomore year.  There was a day a few weeks before school started that my mother and I had to go to the school to meet with the principal, the guidance counselor and a few others.  We sat around a long oval table and discussed my absence from school, the “Swiss cheese” holes in my education and most importantly, how my behavior would NOT be tolerated at THEIR school.  And they fucking wonder why I hated every adult I came in contact with.  Seriously?? They also reminded me that my “behavior” would be known by all, because there are no secrets in a small town.  It was clearly put that the Swiss cheese was my doing.  There couldn't have been any OTHER underlying problems or perhaps no one to ensure that I had gotten that necessary education. Looking back all I can’t think is “Gee thanks bitch, as if I don’t feel like shit already, thank you for shoving in my face what a whore I am ;)”. 


  So, my freshman year began... and it was terrifying... and it was miserable… and then on my first day of school I met 2 of the greatest people I’ll ever know.  My two best friends in this world: Andrew and Kristen.  They both saved my life more times than I think either ever realized until now.  I love them so much and it’s hard to imagine that on the day I met them both I had no idea who they’d become to me or how big they’d be in my life. 
 
One became my best friend; she supported and loved me through all my years after. She brought me into her beautiful, loving compassionate family who loved me without judgement.  She has been my rock and my hero for so many years that imagining life without her is impossible. Even when we’re thousands of miles apart and both invested in our families. 
 
The other became my other best friend, he became my husband and the father to my children.  He was my best friend through my bad relationships, my drunk nights and my crazy moments.  And I was always too blind to see the love of my life standing right before me, patiently waiting for me to wake up.  If I’d known then what I know now, I could have saved myself a lot of bullshit and pain in the years that followed. Wisdom tells me that it took all that for me to truly appreciate the amazing man my husband is and how much I love and adore him.