One of my strongest desires is to give my two children a good childhood.
My own childhood was not the greatest in the world. I came from a broken home. When I was a baby, my parents divorced. When I was three or four, they remarried to each other. But then in first grade they got divorced again, and it was custody battle after custody battle. My parents were always fighting about me, never to agree on anything.
When I lived with my mom we moved a lot. Sometimes we lived with family members. But nothing stable until I got older. My father would call and say he was going to pick me up for the weekend, but he never showed up. I can count on one hand the number of happy childhood memories I have with him. He is a drug addict, and he was also very young—just sixteen years old—when he had my sister. I came along just a month before his twenty first birthday. He wasn’t reliable at all until he met my old step mom. She helped him get somewhat straightened out.
Some horrible abuse happened to me when I was seven years old, and I had to go live with my dad for two and a half years because of it. My stepmom hated me and was very open about that fact. She didn’t want me around but got stuck with me when my dad was too messed up to take care of me. When I finally got to go back home to my mom, my dad decided to divorce my step mom. I started going to my dad’s every other weekend.
The abuse I had suffered when I was seven caused a lot of issues as a teenager. I tried to find any way to numb or ease the pain and shame I felt inside. I turned to sex. It made me feel like I was in control. I didn’t think there was any way it could hurt me. I was wrong. It made me feel worse on the inside and made me feel ugly on the outside. Then I turned to cutting myself. It wasn’t to kill myself, or for attention like many people say. It was a way to release everything I felt inside: anger, pain, frustration, unworthiness, ugliness, like I was damaged goods, everything. It was almost addicting in a way. I always felt rejected and unloved. I felt like I was tainted and never able to be repaired. My parents threatened to put me in a mental institution if I didn’t stop. I did stop with some relapses here and there. It still haunts me everyday, the urge to start back up and my scars are still there.
I’m looking for hope though now. I want to believe in love. I’m reaching for it and grasping at it, trying to catch hold of a better life, a better future, for me and especially for my children. I know that I do not have to be defined by my past. But I’m still working to figure out how to get to the future I want. And I know that that’s okay—as long as I don’t give up on working at it, searching for it, striving for it.
How have you overcome the challenges you faced in your childhood? How are you working towards a better future?