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Finding myself

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It’s a long and winding path to discovering who you really are. I’ve hit many bumps and potholes along my journey. Some choices I’ve made have been good, where others were complete and utter mistakes, of which I’ve learned a great deal. Let me share my story.

My parents were divorced before I was a year old, so I don’t know what it is like to have both mom and dad living under the same roof. I can’t miss what I never had, so I never dwelled upon it as a child. I didn’t even envy the friends I had whose parents were still together. I just accepted it as the way my life was. I believe that is what has shaped how I handle life and the many turns and twists it has thrown at me over the years. I lived with my mom and her parents until about the age of five, when my mom finally got us into her own place. Unfortunately, my mom had an alcohol addiction and because of that, she let the wrong people into our lives. My grandparents picked me up one day after I had apparently talked to one of my mom’s friends on the phone and told her I was hungry but no one would make me a peanut butter sandwich and asked her to call my grandma. The cops were involved, and the next thing I knew, I was living with my dad, his wife, and his parents. It was a hard adjustment for me. My two sets of grandparents had completely different lifestyles and my paternal grandmother considered me spoiled because my maternal grandparents had tried to make sure I never went without anything I needed or wanted. Maybe I was a bit spoiled, but at five years old, you don’t understand what that means. My paternal grandparents were both of ill health, and my dad and step mother spent a good share of their time in bars (my step mother was a stripper) or sleeping. The house they owned was in poor condition, and it got worse in the years to come. Frequently the various animals they had would urinate on the floor and much of the floor was falling apart due to lack of care. Cleanliness was not a huge concern with my father’s family. It was a drastic change from my maternal grandparents, who’s house was and still is immaculate.

There was a brief period of my life where my mom just disappeared completely. I got a few phone calls and a letter from time to time, but for a couple of years I didn’t even see her. She re-entered my life around my eighth birthday and I found out I had a half sister. She brought my baby sister to my birthday party, which was the first time I’d seen her since I was maybe six years old. I didn’t see either one of them again for nearly two years. I had the usual fantasies every kid has when a parent disappears. I was unhappy with my dad, so I often daydreamed that one day my mom would reappear and take me home with her. It was a dream that never materialized, and thinking back on it I was probably better off in many ways. My mom’s drinking, from what she has explained to me, was at an excess to the point where she wouldn’t have been able to care for me correctly anyway. I do have to say, although living with my dad was rough, it taught me to stand up for myself, which I had to do on regular basis. His mother frequently called me spoiled and told me how ungrateful I was for them taking me in. I felt like an unwanted pet a good share of my life.

Add to the mix that one of my neighbors molested me when I was about seven years old, a fact that I have still not told my dad. Now I was a confused child, unsure of why something like that happened to me. No one had ever told me that it was wrong, and the person told me he chose me because I was special. I think part of me desperately wanted to feel like that. It only happened the one time, because afterwards I was afraid to go into their house. He never had the opportunity to try it again. Now I know it wasn’t my fault and that he was just a sick and perverted person, but still it changed me.

Throughout my teen years, I saw my mom more frequently. Especially after she remarried to a man who at first I thought was a good guy. He worked when he could and seemed to help my mom keep her act together. But alas, that was not the case. When I was 14 he approached me with a sexual suggestion when I was half asleep. The next day I found a letter on my pillow from him pleading with me to accept his apology and to please not tell my mom. She found the letter and asked me about it, but since nothing actually happened she just let it go. Two years later when I was spending a weekend there (sleeping on the couch downstairs as now I would not sleep upstairs where HE was), I was awakened by him touching my leg and attempting to go further up. I sat up, threatened to remove the part of his body he wanted to use on me, and he never touched me again. My sister, however, was not as fortunate. He ended up molesting her. This didn’t come out, however, until after this man had left and my mom divorced him.

Meanwhile, at home, my grandmother and I fought almost daily. She accused me of running wild, doing things I was not doing. I was out “whoring” or who knows what all, according to her. Mostly, I rode my bike to friends’ houses to stay away from her and my step mother. I was resentful of my step mother, not because I thought she was trying to take the place of my mom, but because she would frequently do things that would embarrass me. One incident I can remember clearly. We had a dog that my dad had taken from a friend of his because he was abusing it. This dog did not like people outside of our immediate family, although it had attacked my grandfather twice and me once before they had the dog put down. The dog was not allowed inside the house when I had company, however my grandfather had had many mild strokes, and forgot. He let the dog in while I had four friends listening to my records in my room. The dog burst into my room and started barking and growling, scaring my friends. They started screaming and crying, and with a lot of force, I managed to get the dog out of my room. My step mother had been in the shower getting ready for work when the screaming had started, and she ran into my room without covering herself and yelled at my friends for screaming at her dog. They were never allowed in my house again, not that I would have invited them anyway.

My dad and step mother had a friend that had “adopted’ them as her parents. She had a little boy and needed someone to watch him frequently. As I was old enough to do so, I started watching Josh when he was ten months old. For four years, I had him more than she did. In that time, she had two more kids, Destiny and Owen. When Josh was four, he told his mom he wanted to stay with me, because in his mind, i was his mother. Frequently I would have them from mid afternoon til the early morning hours. Many times my dad and step mom would volunteer me to watch them without checking to see if I had plans. I put a stop to that when I was sixteen, telling them if they didn’t ask me if I was available, then they could take the night off work to watch them instead.
By this time, although I stayed away from alcohol, I was experimenting with Marijuana and smoking cigarettes. I wanted to fit in with my friends, and I found that smoking weed numbed me from the anger and depression I was going through at home. When I was eighteen, I got involved with a man twice my age who sold weed. At nineteen, I moved in with him and shortly after became pregnant with my oldest child. I quit smoking during my pregnancy, however still used marijuana. My son is mildly autistic, and I blame myself because of the weed use. Eventually, we both calmed down on the weed, stopping it completely for periods of time. But always it would re-enter my life. We were together for almost ten years and had two more children in that time.

After we had broken up, I ended up getting involved with a guy who was my age, but had sever issues with jealousy, possessiveness, and Crack Cocaine. Our biggest issue was the Cocaine. I stuck to my guns and never tried the stuff, and refused to have it in my life. He refused to give it up. After three years and a restraining order, I finally broke free of him only to find myself living with my dad and step mom once again.

Today, I am still living there, but soon I will be moving in with the current man in my life. For the first time, I have found a man who works, doesn’t do drugs, and has a sense of stability I have never known. He has his issues, what person doesn’t? But still, it is the first time I have felt that I am making a good choice in my life. Though he asked me to move in nearly a year ago, I have refrained from doing it because I didn’t want to rush head first into another disaster.

So what have I learned about myself? I have learned that I am a good mother, as I am so devoted to my kids that my friends call me over-protective. However, my kids have more freedom than theirs do. I allow my kids to make their own choices, while mildly guiding them as best I can by talking to them about my choices I have made. I am very open and honest with my kids about everything, whether it be drugs, sex, peer pressure, or any of the things kids have to deal with. I have also learned that while it might take me a bit more time that I would like to completely get my life to where I want it to be, I am at least on the right track. No more will you find me smoking weed all day long, although to say it’s completely out of my life would be a lie. I admit that on occassion when it’s offered, I might indulge. But I don’t buy any for my own personal use any more, and it’s been quite a while since I have smoked any at all. I know I can live without it now. I have learned that no matter what has happened to me in my past, the only person who shapes my future is me. I take my time when considering my next move. I have also learned that I can only rely upon myself. My family cannot help me, even if they would or could. And I have learned that if I ever should falter and feel as if there is no hope, I can look into the eyes of my children and know that there always is hope. They give me my hope, and for them I would move mountains.

r article here