You ever sit back and wonder what events in your life made you who you are? I cringe when I hear people say something to the effect of, I wouldn't change a thing because it made me who I am. I feel like that's bull shit. Certainly, I would still be the same person I am if I didn't eat that burrito yesterday. ...That's probably not what those people mean. The big events. The horrible things we did and had done to us. They're talking about the Rape, Cheating, Car Crashes, Fires, Broken Hearts, Accidents and Neglects that leaves us changed forever. Core memories, as Disney, might put it. Life's little happenstances that shape us.
We mostly remember the bad. I know I certainly do. I remember feeling stupid for the first 15 years of my life. I was held back in second grade. I took special classes for reading in school. The first time I saw so much as a B on any of my school work was my freshmen year of high school. I can tell you, it was such a feeling. I'll never forget it. I cried.
It took me until I was 20 to realize why I was so stupid before high school:
- I needed glasses since I was in 4th grade and maybe sooner. My mom got me a pair when I was 11, but I took them off to play outside and they fell out of my pocket. For days and weeks, I searched for them, but they were gone...mom never bought me another pair. My dad did when I moved in with him at 16 years-old.
- I was starving. My older brothers and I grew up in poverty. There was a short time of two years in which my mom was married to a physically and verbally abusive ass-hat that we had food in the house and money for lunches at school, but after they divorced we couldn't even afford furniture in our trailer, let alone groceries. The food we did have was not for us. It was for mom's new boyfriend...another ass-hat (men always came first). Mom was too proud to ask for government handouts, so there was no free lunch program or food bank visits, we just went without food. I remember coming home to find my brother unconscious on the floor while the vacuum was running. He was so starved that he fainted while doing his chores...Hard to focus on school when your stomach hurts like hell...Some of my most shameful memories as a child were out of hunger. I've eaten out of a dumpster before. I've eaten a jar of mayonnaise before. Right now I cringe at the thought, but thinking back on it, at the time it tasted like heaven to a starving child. Men make more money than women, and my dad only had me and one other brother to care for, so at 16 I had regular meals.
- No doctor or dentist visits unless I was dying (period) No health insurance mandate meant no health care for me as a child. Unless I was screaming in pain, no go.
- There was no help at all...on top of not being able to see the board and not being able to focus because of hunger pains or sickness, I received no help at all on my school work. I admit, memories are fully faulty and there is a chance I simply do not remember being helped at home, but truly I do not recall my mom ever sitting down with me and actually helping me study for a test or work on a project. Everything from day one was left to me, a child...and I failed at everything. You would assume my teachers said something to my mom about my performance, but instead of helping me, I felt ridiculed and judged only. She spoke openly in front of me to anyone about how stupid I was, especially compared to my perfect brothers, who could do no wrong in her eyes. I felt like shit. I clearly remember that. I was 7 years old and crying into my teddy bears. Screaming I HATE YOU and meaning me...
I don't really blame my mom, though. She was 19 when she had me, a single mom of 3 without a high school education. She put herself through college while working full time and raising 3 kids alone. At times she worked up to 3 jobs at once. She worked as often as she could to pay the bills. She just didn't have time for me. She often forgot about me altogether. (she still does. My birthday was 11/17...she never called)
I remember when I turned 10 years old. I don't remember where my mom was on my birthday, but I have fond memories of a young prostitute who stole cake mix, frosting and whoppers from Safeway and made me a birthday cake. I don't remember if I ever tasted chocolate before that day and no cake can hold a candle to it. It was perfection! Perhaps it is love that makes the memory of that cake so amazing.
Yes, befriending prostitutes isn't something most 10-year-olds do, but without a parent home, my brothers and I were left alone to be abused and abuse each other and wander the streets and try drugs and drink coffee and alcohol and smoke cigarettes...We were the kids other parents didn't want their kids hanging out with. I don't want to sit and think and count how many times I was raped or molested growing up. It hurts my heart. LOL I laugh so I don't cry...
I didn't have help with school and I didn't have help with life...I did some really dumb stuff. I should have been killed a few times over. When I was 12 I once got in a car full of grown ass men I didn't know just because a friend of a friend was dating one of them. They took me and my other friends back to their grown ass man apartment and did things they should have been doing to grown ass woman and not a bunch of fucking preteens...I've made sooooo many bad choices like that. Why am I still alive!?!?!?!?! I was a little girl without a full-time mom and only an every other weekend dad.
When I was young I used to call myself stupid. I told myself that everyone hated me and that I was a burden. I told myself I was ugly and I felt sorry for people who had to look at me. I don't know what made me change all the sudden at the age of 16. Was it moving in with my dad? (which broke my mother's heart) Was it just getting older and realizing I needed to make some changes? Maybe it was wanting something better than what I had and being someone better than who I was. I look at my little girl and I think back. I never ever want her to feel what I felt. I help her, I watch over her, I make sure she knows she's beautiful and I never lie to her, never. So if what I went through has made me a better mom, I guess I wouldn't change a thing either.
I feel like my first 5 books were me working through all that shit.