My son turned 18 this weekend. Yes. The big 18. I am delighted, however, I would be lying if I said that was all I felt. The surreal feelings of being alive are very real for me right now. If I was going to be completely open and honest, I would say, ‘We should both be dead.’
Please note: trigger warning on EVERYTHING.
Whenever I dive into my story I always seem to get a few people that FOCUS on the fact that I kept my son and decided to not abort him. As if they know my story and peg me as being an example of MOTHERHOOD. I want to make it clear up front, that I am pro-choice, I have always been pro-choice. I believe that every mother has the right to choose. My choice was to keep my baby.
I am not going to brag about that though, it’s nothing to brag about. Having a baby with no support is hard. It is not easy. It is a constant struggle every single day in all areas of your life.
Let me start with, I loved being pregnant. The feeling of having my son pressing on the inside of my belly was one of the most surreal things ever. I would laugh with him, tickle his little feet and caress him through my big fat belly. I loved knowing I had someone in my belly that loved me.
I ended up pregnant at 20 with no husband, inside a religion that strictly prohibited that ‘sin’.
I say ‘sin’ because, how AWFUL is it to wrap such a miracle (a baby) up with such a degrading and nasty word?
My son’s father and I slept on a nine inch blow up mattress up until my 8th month of pregnancy in a two bedroom apartment with 12 other people. My clothes were laid out on the floor, we had no dresser. I remember it was October in Chicago. I woke up everyday at 5:30am to sell newspaper subscriptions. I did this for straight commission outside during morning rush hour (6a-9a) and then again during evening rush hour (6p-9p), whilst working a ‘normal’ 8 hour job in-between. I did this same cycle of 11 hour work days, 7 days a week until the day I gave birth. Working full days selling newspaper subscriptions on Saturdays and Sundays. Needless to say, winters in Chicago are brutal.
I was tired, I was sad, I WAS a SINNER. But this is what I deserved, after all, this is what sinners do, they struggle, they have to beg for forgiveness, they have to work really hard to PROVE they are worthy of love.
RIGHT? Or was this a belief system that was instilled me?
When my son was 3 months old I received unsolicited advice from my church to marry my son’s father or break up with him. Because living under the same roof with a man that was not my husband was again, a SIN. Out of complete desperation of trying to ‘make things right with god’ I broke up with my son’s father and my life went from BAD to WORSE in an instant.
No family support. No church support. No financial support. ZERO.
I was officially ALL BY MYSELF.
I remember coming home to eviction notices on my apartment door every other month. I remember my car being repoed out of the parking lot. I remember eating beans and rice for dinner every single night so I could afford baby food for my son. I remember walking miles to the grocery store with my son in a $10 stroller from Goodwill because I couldn’t spend money on gas.
I couldn’t afford gas. I couldn’t afford food. I couldn’t afford anything. Everyday was a choice between gas, food or rent. The mental stress was unbearable.
The credit card debt I was incurring was unmanageable.
Trying to be a mom, trying to keep my head above water, trying to build a NEW community, to find love and connection anywhere I could. Being in a state of complete isolation and thus agony of wanting to be accepted, by anyone.
The constant state that I flowed in and out of had me wanting to drive my car off a bridge or drink myself into an oblivion of numbness or maybe both…at the same time.
There are people in my world right now that did not think I was going to make it. People that thought I was going to fail, and secretly wanted me too (to prove a point). People that sat around their kitchen table 18 years ago talking about how the mistakes I had made would end me, how I would ‘get’ what was coming to me, how my love for a God was pathetic and obvious.
Whispers of being a slut, a whore, easy, a cunt circulated my environment as I floated in and out of spaces. The mockery of my motherly skills narrowed down to, ‘He would be better off raised by wolves.’
I didn’t know about postpartum at that time. But I can tell you right now that I had it. The thoughts of wanting to leave, wanting to run away, wanting to die, wanting to leave my baby or throw my baby out the window, were real.
Is that hard to read?
It’s really hard to type.
And what is so frustrating is our inability as women to be able to voice those feelings while they are happening. For fear of being placed in the looney bin.
But I WAS going crazy. Who wouldn’t be?
I was alone. I was scared. I had no idea what I was doing. Plus, I was broke.
I would find myself in the bathroom crying in complete despair, often having my legs give out from under me as my body convulsed in complete anguish. Crying out in so much pain secretly hoping that someone would hear me, but no one ever came.
No. One. Came. To. Save. Me.
Until they did. Or so I thought. A man, a man who unbeknownst to me would end up being my abuser for the next 13 years of my life, stealing my confidence and any hope I had for my sanity.
He took advantage of my weaknesses and used them against me. He manipulated me with money. He mocked my religious beliefs by fueling the fire of how dirty and sinful I was. He minimized my wins and exaggerated my losses. He shamed my motherly abilities and highlighted my broken relationship with my friends and family.
A whirlwind of hate comments, degrading, love bombing, gas lighting, manipulation, lying, coercing, belittling and minimizing. Stealing every ounce of drive I had, working me all day and all night like a real life slave, threatening my shelter, my vehicle, my character and anything else he could use to break me into submission.
I learned quickly, as I had been taught my entire life, to be two different people. One person to my abuser and one person to the public and my son.
Eight years into this relationship I started to change my views. I started to see a glimmer of a light. I started to realize my power.
I started to build a community around me of people who believed in me, people who were cheering me on. People that said I could do it.
I read books, watched YouTube videos and completely submerged myself into seminars, classes and lectures that empowered me.
I eventually freed myself.
I eventually broke out of that victim mindset.
I eventually spread my wings and rose.
I now have an amazing 18 year old son who is everything. He is strong, he is brilliant and he is kind. He is a loving human who loves his mother and knows unconditional love.
At one time I was struggling just like you might be. I was crying out and no one was answering. I was breaking down in the darkness of my home, behind closed doors wanting it all to end.
I get it, and I am about to be very honest with you, because up to this point, maybe no one has.
No one is coming to save you. No one.
It is time for you to show up for yourself. You need to be honest with the fact that you had something to do with the struggle you are in. You had some ‘doing’ in the situation you have found yourself in and NOW you have to save yourself.
You have to get up even if you don’t want to.
You have to smile even if you don’t want to.
You have to show up even if you don’t want to.
Start creating a community around you that believes in you.
Reach out to organizations that support people with whatever struggles you are enduring.
Seek medical advice if you need to.
Make a decision today to show up for yourself, when no one else did. You don’t have to do it for the present you…but you HAVE to do it for the FUTURE you.
Lean in darling…lean in and hold on tight.
If you life is in danger because of domestic abuse please call: 800-799-SAFE
Link up with a life coach and take courses that teach you how to overcome your struggles.
I have been there. I am here for you. If you need coaching reach out. It is time for you to invest time, energy and money into you. It is your time to shine.