Archive | January 2012 RSS feed for this section

You Could Be So Pretty

31 Jan

Middle school wasn’t as easy for me as elementary school was. I was capable of getting good grades but I stopped applying myself. I was still somewhat active in school activities, and I was involved in a few clubs. I had a few friends, all awkward like myself.

Several of the kids I grew up with also went to middle school with me, but it wasn’t necessarily a good thing. When popularity became important to many kids, others were left behind. Several of the kids I grew up with were part of the popular crowd, and very quickly created a distance between me. Being associated with an unpopular kid isn’t very socially acceptable in the power struggle known as middle school.

I struggled with kids that made fun of me. I often wore my brother’s hand me down clothes and never acted very girly, so the other girls loved to make fun of my clothing and hair, and lack of any style what-so-ever. It was difficult to feel like I mattered or was worth something. I thought that if so many people said the same mean things, they must be right, and I really was just a loser. I had that mindset for a very long time.

My parents started to get frustrated with me when my grades started slipping. My mom just couldn’t understand why I didn’t work harder. She told me that my life was so easy, and that I needed to stop being lazy. I started feeling like no matter what I did, I wouldn’t impress them, I used to get good grades, and they didn’t care so much then?

Some of the girls who lived on the street were popular, and a year older then I was. I had been friends with them for a while, and we hadn’t gone to school together until then. I went to them and talked about the problems I was having at school and with my family. They told me they would help me, but I couldn’t talk to them at school, or everyone would know they were helping. I was obviously a pretty gullible child, and thought they had a great idea, and would really help me out.

One night the girls decided to doll me up and take me out. I remember them telling me I would be so pretty if I wasn’t so fat. Some friend’s right? I thought it was a compliment and tucked away the fat part for later thought. I let them put make-up on me, and do my hair, it all went really well until we tried to find something I could wear. These girls were tiny, and I had some meat on my bones, so everything they tried to put me in looked terrible. Every time I looked in the mirror packed into one outfit or another, my heart broke a little. I felt huge. I had never felt like there was anything wrong with my body before then. Clearly I was wrong if I couldn’t fit into anything cute right?

I ended up wearing some silly wrap dress that would accommodate my size. We had a fun night in the neighborhood, hanging out with other kids we grew up with. I was just the girl they brought along, that sat quietly out-of-the-way while the popular kids were hanging out. I still felt pretty and I thought I had a good time. It’s funny what you can convince yourself of as a kid.

After the girls made me over that night, I felt like a different person. Not because I looked different on the outside, but because I felt like I was finally starting to see myself. I thought I was a fat, ugly girl, with no friends. For years after this I struggled with image issues, I still do.

I know they probably meant well with their comments, and make over, but it only reminded me how different I was compared to them. I started comparing myself with other people I looked up to, and I felt like I always fell so short. Why couldn’t I be pretty, thin, and have friends too?

I know so many beautiful women who have some serious issues about how they look, or how big they are. It is so sad to think that society helps beautiful people feel validated by putting down people who are different. People come in all shapes and sizes for a reason, and no one should ever make another person feel like they are not just as beautiful as anyone else.

© I Am Not Defined, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Adapting

29 Jan

Elementary school was not very difficult for me. I got good grades, and I was in the schools gifted programs. I was pretty active in school activities and I had a few friends. I was by no means one of the popular girls, but I went to school in a small town with a lot of people I grew up with.

When I was in fourth grade, I didn’t like recess very much, so I would go visit old teachers. My favorite second grade teacher would let older students come in during their break, if they worked with the younger students. I really enjoyed helping, so I gathered a group of other students, and we spent our breaks helping the younger kids learn to read and spell. It was a lot of fun.

I became more of an outcast as I got older. Weird things were going on at my home, and most of the kids just weren’t dealing with the kind of issues I had already. Things like anger, death, and sex aren’t normal topics for the average elementary student. I found it very difficult to relate to the other kids, and I didn’t have much in common with other girls because I was such a tomboy.

Outside of school I had several friends. The street I grew up on was full of young families, so all the kids played together often. Afterschool the kids would get together and play street hockey, or hide and go-seek. We would go on adventures, ride bikes, and explore the area. I didn’t have friends over often, it just wasn’t my idea of fun, but I loved going to friends’ houses and seeing how their families interacted.

One of the families’ that lived on our street had an older mentally disabled son. He would sit out on the bricks in front of his house, and try to get the kids to come talk to him. He often convinced the girls on the street to come sit on his lap, and he liked to hug them. I won’t lie; I sat on his lap once to and just thought he was weird and overly friendly. I didn’t think much of it, but I knew I didn’t want to go near him anymore.

About a week later another girl on the street sat on his lap too. I guess he tried to kiss her, and her Dad saw her trying to get away from him, and the police were called. He was apparently a registered sex offender, and his parents were supposed to be supervising him. I am not sure what happened to him, but we never saw him outside again.

It was saddening to think that there were bad people everywhere, at home and on the street. Where was I safe? I didn’t have very much trust or faith in people after that. I felt like my parents couldn’t keep me safe. I felt like I had the world on my shoulders, and I had to take care of it on my own. I think it made me a very independent person early on. I never worked well in groups, I felt like the other kids would fail at their part, and it would all come down to me any way, why not just do it all myself? I made myself an outcast with this attitude, and I really started to dislike people in general.

I decided if the people who were supposed to keep me safe and take care of me were going to do a crappy job, then I would do it myself. This “do- it-yourself” attitude stuck with me. To this day, I still feel like I can do it better myself. It’s funny how the things you do to adapt as a child help shape who you are as an adult.

© I Am Not Defined, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Talk Show Circus

26 Jan

Most people watch talk shows on TV and wonder where they got the crazy people who argue and make fools of themselves for entertainment. As it turns out we were those crazy people.

My foster-brother attended a foster support group every week, where other kids in foster situations would meet up, and hash out their issues. Somehow one of the agents for a New York based talk show got in contact with the leader of this group, and wanted to use one of the “troubled teens” and their family on his show. The leader helped him get in contact with a foster kid, and her family, who agreed to do the show. At the last minute the family decided not to do it, and the agent still had a spot to fill. For one reason or another my brother was the one they decided would be perfect, and the next day we were flown off to New York, and picked up in a stretch limo.

The show was going to be about a group of teenagers who are out of control, and are forced to spend one day in jail. The show would be taped over two days, and the teenagers would spend one night in jail, and hopefully have a lifesaving moment where they decide to be better people.

The first day of taping arrived, and we were picked up from our hotel in a limo, and taken to the television studio, where we were put in a little sitting room. My parents and my brother went through makeup, and my siblings and I were escorted out to the audience to watch the show. They paraded several families in front of the talk show host, each with an out of control teenager, who would come on stage fully pumped and ready to argue. The producers sat backstage with the kids before they went on, and told them to be angry, and to tell their parents how they really felt, and to really let it all go.

When my family came on, my brother came out all puffed up and pissed off, and my mom cried about how she loved him so much, but he was just out of control. My dad sat there and agreed, and my brother let it all out. He talked about how he didn’t love anyone, and how he had no real family, and said some fairly hurtful things. I was only about 11 at the time, and got very upset to hear my brother say all of this, I felt betrayed, like he didn’t love me as a sister, or feel like we were family. I didn’t understand that he had been riled up before they went on air, and I got pretty upset. Apparently crying little sisters make for good ratings, because before I knew it, the cameras were on me and a producer with a microphone walked over and asked why I was crying. I explained that my brother had upset me, and how I loved him like a brother even though we weren’t related, blah blah blah.

After the show finished taping the first talking segment, the kids were escorted off to some local prison. The show gave the impression that they were there over night, and learned some lessons from hard criminals. In reality they went to the jail, taped the necessary segments, and then took the kids out to dinner.

The next day we taped the last sit down segment. The families were paraded once again, and the kids came out more docile than before, with promises to do better. They all apologized to their parents and swore off their trouble making. My brother came out and apologized to my parents, and took the time to call me from the audience and apologize to me. He told me that he loved me as a sister very much, and didn’t mean the things he had said. Even though it was just a talk show moment, it did mean a lot to me. I was a kid and he was my older brother, and I looked up to him.

Having a foster-brother really changed my understanding about what made a family. I’ve come to believe that a family isn’t just made of blood related people, but also of the people a family absorbs into their home and heart. I think over time even friends can become family. If you’ve been close with a friend for more than half your life, could you say they don’t know you better than your own family? Or love you just as much? How can you really define what makes a family?

© I Am Not Defined, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Living With Strangers

24 Jan

My family expanded further when I was in fourth grade. My mom brought a boy home from work, and he became my foster-brother. He was older than me by several years, and nothing like the people I knew. His previous foster situation had fallen apart because his foster parents felt they could no longer control him. He was under the impression that he was something of a gang banger, and a bad ass. In reality he was an insecure teenager, screaming for attention.

My brother’s biological father had died in one of the wars, so he was raised by his biological mother. He and his younger sister had been removed from their family home after their mother refused to give up her druggie boyfriend that abused both the kids. He had bounced from foster home to foster home, not really sticking anywhere for long, until he came into my family.

When he first arrived, he could barely sit through a meal. He would shovel his food down as fast as he could and leave the table as soon as he was finished. He wasn’t used to being able to get his fill, and he had no clue how families acted around the dinner table. He was very fortunate to have a caring case worker who took him to breakfast once a week, and helped him get the help he needed. When things got tense in our family his case worker could always calm him down and help work things out.

My foster-brother and my older brother were either at each other’s throats or thick as thieves. They shared a bedroom, so when they didn’t get along it tended to be loud and drawn out since neither of them really had their own space. One night I went into the back yard to get away from their arguing, and was promptly knocked out. My foster-brother had gotten upset, and threw a rock through the window. He didn’t see me outside sitting on my Fisher Price picnic table. Things were pretty bad between my brothers before my older brother ran away for good, and they had long since stopped getting along.

Once my older brother left, things calmed down a lot. My foster-brother had his moments of teenage angst, and I can’t imagine how he felt being raised by strangers. We ended up getting along pretty well, and he was a pretty good older brother. He would sometimes give me a ride to school in his cool older brother car, or let me and his girlfriend hang out. He dated the same girl throughout high school, and she was very sweet in an older sister type of way. I loved getting to go to the drive-in with them, even though I was just a decoy to make their outing look innocent. I still got to hang out late and see a movie, even if my brother and his girlfriend were making out in the back seat most of the time.

Even though my foster-brother and I got along, he was still a teenager, and he made stupid decisions. One day he decided to skip school with some of his friends, and they ended up robbing a gas station near their school. They were caught as soon as they went back to campus and arrested. My brother went to jail and was kicked out of high school. Things were never the same between him and my parents after that. When he got out of jail he went to a foster center, basically a limbo place for foster kids. He had to stay in their facility for a few weeks, and then he finally came back to our home.

Things were very different when my brother came back from jail. My parents held him in a new light, and his attitude had taken a turn for the worse.

© I Am Not Defined, 2012.

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A Difficult Christmas

22 Jan

I was very close to my grandparents growing up. I was lucky enough to have two grandfathers and a grandmother around for my childhood. One of my grandfathers, my “Papa” was an alcoholic.

When I was younger, I didn’t really understand words like drunk, alcoholic, sobriety etc. I didn’t understand what people meant when they would talk about my Papa and his drinking problems. To me he was just my Papa. I loved going to visit him, he lived in his trailer on an orange orchard, and there was always plenty of room for whatever outdoor fun we could imagine.

To me, my Papa was a hardworking man, a little rough around the edges, but he was always friendly and loving. We didn’t get to see him a lot, I have a feeling my mom didn’t want us to see him drunk. He would occasionally show up at holidays or family functions. I remember being excited several times because I thought he was coming to see us, and even as a child my heart broke when he couldn’t make it. I didn’t understand why he was always “sick” and couldn’t spend time with us.

A few times my Papa got so “sick” that his body just wouldn’t hold up to the abuse. He would come over and stay with us for a while to sober up, and help his body get better. He was never there for very long, but I remember loving it when he would come to stay.

On Christmas Eve one year when I was in elementary school, my Papa was expected as usual, but unsurprisingly he didn’t call or show up. The Christmas Eve festivities went on as usual, and no one really thought anything of it. Later that night my mom tried to get ahold of him, to wish him a merry Christmas, but got no answer. I am not sure who found him or how, but my grandfather was found on Christmas morning, behind his trailer. He had passed away.

My parents explained to us that our Papa was gone, and we did the best we could to grieve, and continue on with our lives. After that, I didn’t put much thought into my grandfather’s passing, I knew he was gone and it was left at that.

My mother sat me down one day, and told me that she needed to tell me the truth about Papa. I was very confused about what she was talking about. She told me that my Papa had gotten very drunk on Christmas Eve before he died, and he had taken himself out behind his trailer and committed suicide. My whole world spun a little, and I didn’t know what to say. She made the situation much worse with her reasons for finally telling me the truth.  Apparently she was afraid my older brother (the one who ran away), was going to tell me the real reason my Papa was gone, to turn me against my parents, and decided to beat him to the punch. So in one happy afternoon, I not only learned that my grandpa shot himself, but I learned that my mom liked to one-up my brother…classy.

I can honestly say that I was very bitter at my parents for hiding something like this from me. I was even more upset that my mom somehow thought my jail-bird brother would be able to get the message to me, and that I would believe him. As I got older, I came to the conclusion that I wish my parents would have either A) not told us in the first place, why would you put that on a child? Or B) Told us when we were a reasonable age and capable of handling such weight, and not under such crappy circumstances.

I sometimes wonder if he would still be around, had he decided not to end his life. I wonder if the people who choose this ending think about the people they leave behind. I wonder if the think of the holidays, birthday parties, weddings, and special occasions that their presence will be terribly missed at. Sometimes I am bitter that he gave up these moments because he didn’t want to be around, but then I remember how sick he was. Having suffered addiction problems myself, I know how hopeless and horrible it can all seem. I will still always miss him, and I will always wish he could be there, in body, for all the amazing moments I have been fortunate enough to live, but I hope he has at least found peace.

Authors Note:

Suicide is never the answer. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and will not solve anything. If you have had, or are having suicidal thoughts, I encourage you to find someone to talk to. Seek help. You are loved and unique, and the world needs you here. If you don’t think anyone cares, I do. I think the world is made up of beautiful, unique, amazing people, and it would be a tragedy to lose anyone to such an unfortunate end.

If you need someone to talk to:

The International Suicide Prevention Wiki

Or give me a holler, seriously; there is always someone out there that cares!

iamnotdefined@yahoo.com

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© I Am Not Defined, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Runaway

19 Jan

Growing up in my home wasn’t always easy. My older siblings had some problems that caused a lot of drama in our lives. My oldest brother was a pathological liar and had some mental issues. In simple terms, it meant that when he lied about something, which he did often, he truly believed he wasn’t lying. He could convince himself that what he was saying was true, and then get upset because no one believed him. You could watch him do one thing, and then tell you point-blank he did another, and truly believe he was being honest. I can’t imagine what it was like for him growing up, but I do know how it affected me.

Many nights were filled with drawn out arguments, my parents knowing my brother was lying, and him believing he was telling the truth. I have watched my mother practically throw my brother’s things out the door one evening, and hold onto him, begging him to stay the next. It was very confusing as a child, to see all of this play out. My brother also had some violent tendencies as well as drug problems. It was always scary when he would lose control when my dad wasn’t home. I remember seeing my mom pinned behind a door a few times, and they had to take away his bats and hockey sticks.

One year when I was about 8 or 9, I had a very nice birthday party at the park. It was a beautiful day to be outside, I had great friends, and I got all the toys I had asked for. The only problem was that my dad and brother were missing. I remember pulling into our driveway after the party, and hearing a loud argument. I guess my dad and brother had gotten into it that day. It was so bad that my mom ran inside to get our things, and we stayed at a Motel 6 for a few nights. It wasn’t the first or last time we would have to stay somewhere else because my brother was out of control.

On nights that we did stay home through the arguments, I would hole myself and my brother up in my room, and we would watch TV loudly. Some nights the police were called by neighbors, other nights by my parents. My brother ran away a few times, and eventually he didn’t come home. I know that he eventually landed himself in jail. The only reason we found out he was there, was because he decided to write to my parents. Unfortunately they were not happy letters. They were often filled with violence and threats, and denial of any familial ties. It was a big rift in my family, and to this day we have nothing to do with him. I do know that he is alive and well, but I haven’t gone down the road to reunion.

My memories aren’t exactly happy.

I had a hard time understanding why my parents dealt with my brother the way they did. Couldn’t they see that he just didn’t get it? I didn’t like arguing as a kid and I still don’t as an adult. It makes me feel sick to my stomach and like the world is falling out from underneath me. After seeing my family argue so well when I was younger, I avoided confrontation as a teen, and it didn’t do me much good. Bullies are still bullies, even when you walk away. And yes, they will hit you from behind.

© I Am Not Defined, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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I Felt Ashamed

19 Jan

I once read that nearly 2/3’s of abused children later have drug problems. Is that why I went down that path?

As a child you are supposed to be able to trust the people around you, your family and the people who your parents believe safe enough to be a friend. When that trust is lost a whole new world is exposed. When I was about 7, I was approached by a member of my family. To put it simply, he asked if I wanted to hang out with him, the way he said he “hung out” with some of my friends. As a 7-year-old, I figured if my friends were doing these things, then they  ok, after all, why would a family member do something bad?

I was very wrong, and this was the simple beginning to two years of molestation. For two whole years I snuck around my home with this member of my family, doing things that no child should even know about. Eventually I figured out that what was happening was not right. I told a friend at school that one of my other girlfriends was doing these things, and he told the principal. The principle believed I was saying bad things about another student, so instead of reaching out and trying to get to the root of the situation, I got in trouble. The principal called my parents who were very upset to hear that I was saying such things. I didn’t really understand the situation, and I thought I was in trouble for what I was saying, and did not elaborate on what was really going on.

Eventually things came to an end when this family member was kicked out of our home. I never told my parents what happened. When I was old enough to understand what had happened, I felt too ashamed. I thought “Why did I think this was ok?”, and how weak I was for doing this just because I thought other kids did it. I was also afraid of how my father would look at me, knowing this had happened right under his nose. I felt like I had brought shame to my family.

Eventually as a teenager I did share my experience with a good friend. I was shocked to hear her story, and horrified at how well it mirrored my own. I remember thinking “Oh god, this happens often?” Since then I have met several women with their own stories of abuse, and they are always heartbreaking. I remember how terrifying it was to think that I lived in a world where most of the women I knew had some horror story of past abuse.

This was the beginning of many of the problems I still have today. I think that it was very difficult for me to understand and come to terms with what happened. I sprouted multiple issues because of it, and it made me lose my trust in people.

I think that was when I figured out that the world was not always a good place. Bad things happen to all kinds of people, and life is never fair.

Note:

Molestation and rape are never ok. It is never your fault. Someone should never force themselves on another person, and nothing a person can do should ever be considered as “encouraging” rape. I don’t care if you are a kid, a drunk, or an idiot etc, no one deserves to have someone invade their personal space. I encourage anyone who has been raped or abused to tell someone. Tell a friend, a counselor, a family member, anyone. You shouldn’t have to go through that alone. I also encourage you go to the police. Do not let a rapist hold power over you.

© I Am Not Defined, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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In The Beginning

18 Jan

I am 24 and I am a mom. Most people don’t see past their preconceived notions of a young mom, to see that I am so much more. I have made many mistakes in my life but the road that finally led me here was a bumpy but happy one. My 9 month old daughter truly is the light of my life, and I can only be thankful that I made it to this point. There were many times in my young adulthood that I did not expect to see the next day. I think I often believed that there was no way I would make it to my mid 20’s let alone through another week with myself. Growing up in my shoes had its difficulties, and I quickly grew to be my own worst enemy. For many years I dabbled in drugs and bad decisions. I neglected to care about myself and the people around me. For years I used whatever drugs I could get my hands on to numb my feelings and thoughts. I didn’t want to feel, or have to think, or handle reality.

I know there are millions of people out there who choose to use and abuse substances over living their lives, and for many years, I thought they had the right idea. I in no way condone drug use, I have been down that road and I can tell you endless stories about the stupidity and bad decisions involved in drug abuse. I have driven friends away, watched people die, and nearly killed myself in an endless quest for what? A better high? I hope for a chance to share some of my stories and memories in a format easily accessible to other people with a past.

I strongly encourage any readers to share their own stories. If you felt you could relate to something I have said, please feel free to share. I hope for this to be a place for free flow of thought without judgment. I know that so many people out there have a colored history, but I also know that we are the people we are meant to be because of the experiences, and lessons we live through. I personally believe that we go through all the things that we do, so we can be better equipped to handle situations later on. An easy example of a life lesson? Put your hand on a hot stove, after you burn it the first time I doubt that you will put your hand back, or any other body part for that matter. Life is just a series of lessons accumulating and turning you into the person you are. I plan on laying out several of my own personal life lessons, with hope that someone out there can relate, learn, or enjoy my personal stories.

I am not defined by the person people see when they look at me. I am defined by the way I have lived my life, the decisions and mistakes I’ve made, the consequences I have lived through and the way I have handled the hurdles life has thrown my way.

© I Am Not Defined, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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