I have mixed feelings about my most difficult time in my life. For one, it took me years to get over. It wasn’t just a difficult few months or year. I was constantly falling apart and trying (unsuccessfully) to figure out who I was as a person. I wouldn’t normally talk about this to people that I don’t know but there’s some safety in the blogging community. The whole point of writing, for me at least, is to talk about the things you can’t say out loud or the things you don’t have the chance to talk about out loud.
On the other hand, I know that I would definitely not be the person that I am today if I had not gone through that difficult time. I think I am a self-sufficient and independent human being because of what I made it through.
I found out when I was 12 years old that someone close to me in my life had a substance abuse problem. The first time I discovered this was once when I was home by myself and I went to shower and this clear, glass thing fell out of the towels that had burn marks all over it. I didn’t think much about it. I guess being 12 I had the “ignorance is bliss” thing going for me. Until one day another family member confronted me about it. I broke down crying because deep down I knew what was happening, I just never wanted to admit it. How can a family member, your caretaker, be capable of something like that? To chose a substance, a thing, over you? I think that’s the biggest thing I struggled with from the time I was 12-19. It sounds like a long time, but those years were full of ups and downs.
I covered for my family member until I was 16. I lived with them until one day they didn’t want to get out of bed to take me to school. If you don’t already know this about me, I am a rule follower. I was never late to class and I never skipped. By the time I called another family member to come take me to school, they were already on their way to my house because our neighbor had called them and told them what was going on at our house. For one, there were always strange people coming in and out, or my guardian was never there, I was by myself all night, and my family member was on the outs with most of our neighbors because it became increasingly harder for them to avoid questions and to act normal. By the time my family member arrived, I was bawling trying to get them out of bed, and trying to think of a really good lie to cover up what was happening.
I remember confronting the person. I told them about the stuff I had found. And they straight-faced lied to me at the time. Telling me what I saw was something entirely different than it was. And you know what’s crazy? I believed them. It was like arguing with someone about what year it is and them telling you it is 100 years in the future and you believing them. If that makes sense.
I felt responsible for this person. Even though they were suppose to be taking care of me, the child in the situation. I felt like it would be my fault if our life changed or God forbid, they got caught. That was the day I moved, I was 15 and was almost halfway done with my sophomore year of high school. I moved from my childhood home that had been there since birth, away from my friends I had grown up with, the boy I had been dating for a few years, and from my family member, whom I felt responsible for. I felt like an awful person. It was during this time I started reading a lot of Ellen Hopkins books like Crank and Impulse. I felt like I finally found people who understood my life, even if they were fictional.
I graduated high school (a different one) a year after I moved. It was really hard. For one, my home was gone. Right after my 16th birthday my childhood home had been raided and destroyed in the process. I went back once the same night that this happened. I walked into my room, the room I use to have dragonfly sheets on over the bed and glow in the dark butterflies on all of the walls. My bed frame and mattress were destroyed as if the cops were trying desperately to find paraphernalia underneath it. That’s not where they found it. It had been hidden under the carpet of my bedroom floor and I had never known about it. Seeing my home torn up was the most gut wrenching feeling I have ever felt. I remember not taking anything from the house. Pathetically, I went and sat in the tiny closet of my bedroom and stared. Just stared until I realized I was crying. I STILL felt guilty. I felt like if I had just done something different, maybe everything wouldn’t have ended that way.
After years of mentally tearing myself a new one, I realized that I had been desensitized to the situation. In the beginning when I was pretending nothing was happening, it was because I started to think it was normal. That may sound crazy, and if I had never been in that situation I would think that was complete bullshit if someone had ever claimed to be desensitized to something like that but it’s true. It’s easy to pretend everything is okay when your entire world is at stake.
Thankfully, I finally moved on in college. It took that person getting caught and doing time and rehab for them to finally own up and apologize and for me to finally be honest with them and myself. I laid it all out on the table and coaxed some honesty out of them, after years of trying. We’re finally good today. I no longer look at them and see a shell of what they use to be. I see them again. I see them trying and I am surprised that I want to try as well. I want things to be like they were when I was a kid. I know they will never be exactly the same but it’s nice to know that after all this time they’re choosing to try for me as well as for themselves.