*TW for mention of abuse & suicide*
While currently feeling like I’m living very separate lives, I also feel as though I have lived a few lives or lifetimes already. I will say up front that I do suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, though I’ve never been formally diagnosed. I have also heard that we sort of start anew every 7-10 years and this can feel like a different “chapter” in our lives, or as I see it, a new life all together. It is this that I think I am speaking about today. I obvisouly have not died and been reborn, but I do think that with each phase of my life I have left a part of myself behind, perhaps as a marker or landmark to return to in the old memory banks? Not sure, but that’s how it seems to me (and I have been told that this is classic PTSD symptoms).
My “first” life, if you will, was my childhood. I have described my childhood here before, but doing so made me realize that it was much worse than I’d previously considered. Somehow describing it in words and getting responses from “outsiders” (though I consider most of you friends if not family at this point) sort of gave me a new perspective and I’m still unpacking those feelings I have about that. I would say that my first life was from age 4-10. During this time I went to the same elementary school, had the same best friend and generally was happy. Yes, I grew up poor and in squalor, but those two things are not mutually exclusive, at least in my case. I know now that my mother was/is mentally ill and without access to proper medical and mental health care she went undiagnosed and untreated for many many years. I became extremely independant out of necessity and terribly protective of my brother (and later my sister), too. I saw my best friend, Riana, nearly everyday. It was at her house (as I could never have friend over due to the squalor that was the state of our house) that I felt free of the “poor kid” title and restraints. I envied her more than I knew at the time, but am just now sorting those feelings out.
Early on I struggled to find friends or to fit in, but I met Riana in Kindergarten and immediately felt I’d found my place in the world. We were nearly inseparable. And kids in general had a lot more freedom then. We rode our bikes all over town and made up dance routines to every song on the radio or in Riana’s cassette collection. The kids who lived on my block were a bunch of assholes (I promise I’m being as nice as I can on this). They were very typical 80’s rich-kid brats, though looking back they were working-middle class. They treated me like a freak of nature. My first day in the neighborhood it seemed they went out of their way to deem me uncool/unwanted/gross/weird/etc. I was an awkward redheaded and freckled little girl. I was painfully shy around adults, but quite friendly with most kids. When my mom would take me to the park, before I started elementary school, I would always make fast friends. In preschool I even got “married” to my friend Kelly. He and I made wedding cakes in the sand. Funny thing, we dated in Jr. High years later. Ha-ha!
Problems started to arise as I entered puberty before my BFF. I got my period at age 9 and while our attention to boys was already top priority, I think we began to grow apart at this time, too. I did have other friends. And I began shoplifting. Then I got caught with my friend Sonia (another poor kid, we got along so well) and we weren’t allowed to see each other anymore. In the 6th grade, I grew so envious/jealous of Riana that I stole her brand new white Keds! I then had the fucking nerve to come over to her house the next day in those same Keds. I insisted my Grandma had bought them for me. Parents were called, many heated discussions had and in the end I wasn’t allowed to hang out with Riana again either. It was a strange end to a long friendship. Riana and I had been through everything together. We were molested by a friend of her family, but we remained friends long after that. So it’s strange to me that it was the Keds that were the final straw. That was pretty much the end of that part of my life. I had a few friends in 6th grade, but without Riana there was always a giant hole in my life. It might still be there, actually.
When I entered the 7th grade everything changed. Just everything! Not sure if there was an eviction threat or what but suddenly my parents had a few friends and went out and did stuff (they’d never done that before) and one of those friends helped us clean our whole house. I still felt weird about having friends over though. I had a new BFF Erica and was reunited with a friend from 2nd grade, Summer. I quickly found my place at the “Homo Tree” and also soon found that to many I was still the freak/weirdo and was bullied every single day at Brunch/Lunch. I got my first boyfriend only a month into the school year and had my first kiss that Halloween. Boys consumed my every thought and wish. Erica and I would watch the movie Beaches and felt we were those characters in the film (with my red hair and pop star dreams and she the classier/calmer brunette and more college oriented dreams). We crushed on everything that moved, though she liked the older and more “bad” boys at our school. Almost all we talked about was boys and sex and NKOTB (of course I hearted Jordan, she Jonathon…Ha-ha!). We spent many days at the mall and shopped all day long on about $10 between us. Summer would come sometimes or she and I would go together. Just about every single weekend, on a Saturday, we’d be at the mall. Walking and talking and checking out boys and hitting up the record store and just being silly teenagers and enjoying every minute of it.
The 8th grade was fantastic! My bullies had gone on to high school (well most), I was able to just be me and ended up dating the cutest boy in our school (and a “sevy” too). Summer dated his BFF and we would have double date make outs after school behind one of the portable classrooms. It was magical! Ha-ha! I had my first real heartbreak when the cute boyfriend dumped me after dating for four months (forever). Turns out he was just grounded and didn’t bother to tell me until a year later when we dated again for a minute, but then I dumped him out of spite. I was very immature, I know. I soon met two gals that I would go on to be friends with to this very day (that’s over 20 years, chi’ren). Steph & I met in P.E. class (1st period, ugh!) when I’d gotten my ears pierced and was trying to swap out the studs for hoops way before I should have. She offered to help and we’ve been friends every since. Alena I met a few months later when I gave her and her friend the combination to a shared frienemy’s locker. We were later punished together and bonded over singing Salt ‘N Pepa songs while cleaning the girl’s bathrooms. I crushed on my first gay guy at the end of the year and was heartbroken at the dance after gradutation when he didn’t even notice I was alive (no hard feelings “Tink”).
The summer before high school was fab and terrible. I was dating all kinds of boys and was making out all of the damned time, but my mom left my dad a month before school began and that did dampen the mood a bit. We had moved into a house, but my dad couldn’t get a loan approved to buy it (even with my grandma’s house on offer as colateral) so we ended up moving again. It was in this new place that the next chapter of my life began. I had a new BFF Joyce, and still hung out with Summer, Steph & Alena constantly. Joyce got me into sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll…and into much older guys. *headdesk* I also was hanging out with my friend Marc alot as he was the coolest and funniest and most sincere guy around. No romantic feelings there, but he was just a rad friend and someone I trusted and could rely on. He truly cared about me and I him. Joyce moved in with us when her dad beat her up. It was so cool! I suddenly had a psuedo-sister. Instead of make-up and stuff, we’d drop acid and get stoned and make out with boys (I was still a virgin at this point). The stupid shit we did, well, I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand it, but it was awesome at the time. I soon met a French guy who would later break my heart and take my virginity (in that order and a few weeks in between). I started hating school so much I would get queasy every day before 1st period. I was in a lot of classes that were over my head or under it. One of my teachers had like a personal vendetta against me and would make cutting that class a cinch later.
Then out of the blue and for no aparent reason I got a phone call from a frienemy, Kim B. I hadn’t spoken to her in months and pretty much hated her guts. So when she called to set me up with some guy she knew, to this day, I have no fucking idea why I even listened to her talk let alone went along with it. I agreed to meet the guy and fell for him a bit at first. He was 21 I was 14. Red flags anyone? He drank so much, but never drove so I didn’t give it much thought. I was cutting so many classes, even whole days, that school didn’t mean much to me anymore. I still saw most of my friends and my dad wasn’t able to be around much to do anything about it. That summer this guy started to beat me up. At first it was the typical beating and then remorse and gifts bullshit. Then it became a regular everyday thing, almost. I soon shut out my friends and became very introspective and quiet (very unlike me prior to that time). My dad was going through a divorce and caring for his father (who was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease) while taking care of two little ones and working full time. So when I threatened to run away if he didn’t let my 21 year old boyfriend move in with us…he had little choice.
I spent the next five years feeling like a hostage in my own home. I no longer saw or talked to friends. Every action and moment of my life was controlled by my abuser. I fantasized about escaping or an ex-boyfriend saving me like some stupid knight in shining armour and all of that garbage. I soon had a very zen-like reaction to his beatings and even begged him to just kill me. Yes, it was that bad. When he choked me so badly that I passed out one time (not the last, sadly), I was devastated when I woke up. I had wanted to die and was almost pissed off that he hadn’t succeeded in killing me this time. Towards the end I began to fight back. He hadn’t realized that I’d had it in me all along and neither did I. We’d moved out of my family’s house and into a roommate situation. He began to deal drugs and later started doing them, too. I discovered Ann Rice and retreated into her books for about a year. When the little brother of that fantasy-knight ex-boyfriend showed up on my 19th birthday and mentioned to me in private that he had an extra room I could use for free, I realized that it was my only way out. Somehow he saw what no one else had for five years: that I was being abused and that I was stuck. I hadn’t even heard of the town I would be moving to twenty miles away until that night, but he helped me find a way to make it work and in the end I did escape the abuser for good. I never could have done it without him and I am trying to find him to thank him for saving my life that night.
It was when I got a job at the local mall music store that I began a new chapter in my life. I made new friends, I was rid of the abuser for good and I started my life all over again. I didn’t know who I was or where I fit in the world. I just worked and went home at first. I would go to my grandma’s house a few times a week for dinner and to email Alena (my dad had recently gotten the internet, a new invention for home users that would eventually change civilization as we knew it). I had a Prodigy account that allowed me to make friends with people all over the world. This also lead to a lot of crazy-stupid blind date meet ups that a girl my age should not have been fucking doing on her own. Luckily nothing bad ever happened and I came out of that phase unscathed. I started to hang out with Summer, Steph and Alena again and it was like this golden era for me. We were all single and happily dating. We would party our asses off every weekend. We would just have the best times, man. It was great!
But then it all fell apart for me again, as it seemed to a lot back then, when I met a guy at a gig I had at a local club I was working for a music industry magazine promoting new bands. It was like out of a movie! I fell for him so hard that when he dumped me on my 20th birthday it was like a ton of bricks and anvils falling on my head. I was beyond devastated, I was suicidal. I don’t think I fully recovered from that relationship when I let a boy from Texas move in with me. *headdesk* He sold his belongings to come live with me, I thought I loved him, but once he arrived I knew it was all wrong. It was company at least, but none of my friends or family liked him and after two weeks I didn’t either. He was just mooching off of me. So when the roommates got us all evicted, I was relieved. Bye moocher, go on back to TX now. KThnxbye. Ha-ha! But I’d already met B by then and it was all over after that.
B & I were friends at first, I’d hired him as part time seasonal help at the music store, but we soon developed feelings for one another and when I moved back home after a financial mishap it became clear that we were supposed to be together. And we have, ever since. 13 years later, I think I did just fine with this one. Ha-ha!
Stay tuned for the next part of this three part series. Thanks for reading. <3 S