As a young child, good memories are hard to find. I’m sure there were times where I laughed and there had to be things that made me happy. I just can’t remember them. I remember times that I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.
Being told that you are ugly, stupid and will never have any friends is a hard pill to swallow at 7. It stuck and I never forgot it. I never stopped feeling ugly or stupid and I always felt like an outsider with all my friends. I never truly fit in.
I stayed in my room alone a lot. On the weekends I would read the encyclopedias and write. I remember once when I was about 9 I had read the ‘R’ encyclopedia and wrote a 4 page paper on raccoons. When it was show and tell day at school I wanted to take my report in along with a visual aid. My sister had a small stuffed raccoon that she loved. I had to beg and plead with her to let me take it to school as my visual aid. She finally agreed. As fate would have it, I dropped it in the driveway (or left it in the house, who knows) on the way to the school bus. When my stepdad arrived home from work that night he told me, in front of my sister, that I had dropped it in the driveway and dogs had torn it to pieces leaving him to clean up all the stuffing from the yard making him late to work.
As you would expect, my sister was mortified an wouldn’t speak to me. I can’t remember, but I’m sure she even told me she hated me. I felt horrible. That is exactly what he wanted. A few years later, I was snooping in his closet and low and behold, that stuffed raccoon sat unscathed on the top shelf.
Why? Why would someone do something like that to a 9 year old? He sacrificed my sister’s feelings just to hurt me.
Those are the kind of memories I have. Remembrances of pain, hurt, loneliness. Needless to say I struggled from low self-esteem.
When I became a teenager, I rebelled a bit. There were times that I would try to run away from all of it. I started drinking at 14 and never really stopped. I’m ashamed to say that it took me until about 3 years ago to get control of my drinking. It was the only way I didn’t feel pain. I would drink before school and usually went through at least a fifth of Jim Beam on the weekend nights.
When I was 15, my stepdad raised a fist at my for the first and only time. He didn’t hit me, but he did grab me by the throat and put his hand over my mouth. You see, I had used the “F” word, but only after he told me that my father didn’t love me anymore than they did. We were in an argument and I told him that I would go live with my dad. That was his response, so it angered me and I said something I shouldn’t have said. Just about as quickly as he grabbed me, he let go and I started screaming. My mom was outside during the argument, but she came running in when she heard my screams. Of course he lied about what happened. Said I was cussing and he covered my mouth. He denied grabbing my neck. No surprise there.
It was another big blow to my self esteem. See, my dad wasn’t really around. He and my mom divorced when I was only 1. I remember seeing him only 4 times during my childhood. He sent birthday cards sometimes. He wasn’t very consistent, but I had believed he and my mom loved me for the most part. Until that night anyway.
While in high school, I had insomnia. I got about 2 hours of sleep at night. It was horrible. I fought staying awake at school all day, but as soon as I got home, sleep was never an option. When I did sleep, I had nightmares. They were always the same…well the main theme of them anyway. Someone was always trying to get into my house to kill me and I had no way out. I always woke up just before my death. Many times I wished that I would die in my dream because they say if you die in a dream, you really die.
When I was 17 I tried to kill myself for the first time. Yes, there were multiple times. I took a handful of Advil and went to sleep. I woke up the next day as if I had only taken a normal dose. I was so disappointed so I tried again a few weeks later. This time I took the whole bottle. It was a Friday night and the next day we were heading out of town for my nephew’s christening where I was to be his God Mother. Again, I woke up, but this time I was very sick to my stomach. I threw up over and over. I remember laying down in the backseat for the entire ride feeling absolutely miserable. I made it through the christening though.
I didn’t tell people about my two attempts at that time. Things didn’t get better though. I had lots of failed relationships and I felt more alone than ever. When I was 19 I made my third and almost successful attempt. I had taken some prescribed medication for migraines. They were much more powerful than ibuprofen. My boyfriend found me. I fell down some stairs, was not making sense. He found the empty bottle of pills and rushed me to the hospital. I don’t remember anything after taking the pills until 3 days later when I woke up in the hospital.
My wrists and ankles were strapped to the bed and I had a tube everywhere you could imagine a tube going. They had been pumping my stomach full of charcoal. I was on a ventilator. The hospital Chaplain had even come in to visit me. To give me my last rights I guess. It was 4am when I woke and I panicked. I stopped breathing setting off the alarms and sending a nurse in.
My mom had been told that I might not make it and even if I did, I would likely have organ failure of some sort. The doctors were wrong. I survived without medical consequences. I wish I could say that I learned my lesson and never tried to kill myself again, but I can’t.
There was a time in my twenties where I drove around for hours considering running my car into a telephone pole. The last time was about 5 years ago. I drank a bottle of rum and took more pills. I really thought that would do it, but nope. I’m still here.
That was when I finally decided that God wasn’t done with me yet. He had saved me time and time again. His reasons, I’m not completely sure yet, but I believe that I was supposed to use what I went through and how I felt to help others. So I’ve put away the idea of harming myself and I’ve decided that I must be good enough or God wouldn’t have saved me.
I can’t go back and change what happened when I was a child. If I could, I would in a heartbeat. I was a very unhappy child, teen and even adult because of my childhood. It has taken me so long to overcome the feelings I’ve had for myself. I still struggle with it almost daily. The feelings of not being pretty enough or smart enough or good enough. I let that voice in my head destroy any chance of happiness I had.
People don’t always realize how detrimental emotional abuse can be. Parents should build their children up, not beat them down. We should all build each other up. We all have faults and we all make mistakes, but it is important to focus on the positive things rather than the negatives.
If there is anything I’ve learned from my experiences as a child it is to make sure that my children know how special and important they are and to never treat people the way I was treated.