It's been a while, yeah?
The launch of my book, Raised By Narcotics, has been a success. At least from where I'm standing. Not as far as money and fame go, but I went into this saying "if I only impact even just one person, it will have been worth it" and as it turns out, I've impacted several people. There are now at least a dozen or more people in the world looking at their own situations and going... oh...
This is great success in my book. Haha, I think that's a pun.
This past weekend I was in Draper, UT having what was my very first book signing. I am happy to report, I signed a few books. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and after the event I was able to finally set some, what I feel are, realistic expectations for future events.
This post is so far, pretty boring.
The book is changing the world, but this blog certainly is not.
Let's talk about abuse. This is a topic I have avoided for a very long time. It's one I want to talk about now, a lot. Over and over and over again, but let's start with why I might have avoided it. The simplest answer here is: fear. In my adult life I've taken to weighing my options and making decisions based on what the worst case scenario might look like. A lot of the time, the worst case for me these days isn't all that bad, and so I'm more likely to jump and take risks because I don't have a whole lot to lose. However, as a young person, a teen/child, I had, what I felt, was everything to lose. I had my family to lose, my home to lose, my comfort zone to lose, my control, which I already had so little of, to lose. I had the very essence of who I was to lose.
This is all very heavily on my mind right now, and it may be taking me down a different path altogether. Not straying from the message of opioids and the epidemic at hand, but also focusing more on childhood abuse and what that actually is, because I was an abused child. I survived that life, but what did it look like? And would my family agree that I was abused? I have been a preschool teacher for the past two years. My personal career in this area is really taking off. I LOVE my job. I LOVE my kids. I love every aspect of what I do. Challenges included, because I feel that I can gain so much from these kids that I'm involved with, and their families. For the past month or more I've had to really dig into Oregon law, and the requirements for being a teacher in this state. It's a bit different from Utah, where laws are a bit more relaxed in the educational department. This is honestly surprising me to me, considering all that I know about UT and how judgy people can be about education in that state. Everyone wants the best of the best down there, and demands perfection within educational standards. Oregon, however, has a different approach that I feel is more human. What I'm saying here is that each state across the nation is going to have a different definition for what childhood abuse is and looks like, therefore different standards to live up to. There are some basic truths across the board with physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse, but each state is going to handle it differently. I've had a lot to learn and be part of while digging my heals into this job.
The biggest thing I've witnessed in all that I'm learning about childhood abuse, is that abuse never looks like abuse, and this hit home for me. Super fucking hard. Right in the gut.
My mother abused me. I won't speak for my brother, but I know that he would have his own stories to share. Our mother was an abuser, but not one single person in our lives would have ever admitted that. They never did, and even now, they would have a hard time seeing it. My brother was my hero in many ways.
I witnessed a lot while I was growing up. Broken furniture, broken bones... etc. All part of the abuse that was normal for me to witness growing up. Everyone around us though, chalked it up to the hardships of being a single mother, and dealing with two kids. There was always an excuse or justification.
I couldn't accept that I had been abused until I sat in therapy, after having two kids of my own, and struggled to breathe each new day.
I was abused.
I was beaten. I was neglected. I was manipulated. I was harassed with name calling, and emotionally torn down from a very early age. I was brainwashed.
But... I was loved. I was taken care of. I had a home. I had food. I had clothes, and an education. I had friends. I had a family that spent time with me, and gave me presents. I had things in my life that if I had said out loud what I was feeling inside, I would lose. I couldn't bare the thought of losing my mother, or being torn out of my home and living with other people who would actually look at me, and ask me things about myself. I became horrendously shy. People scared me. I'm nearly 33 yrs old, and people still scare me. It is still really difficult for me to connect, and accept that someone outside of myself might love me.
Abuse is fucking serious. Abusers don't know always recognize that's what's happening or that that's what they are. The abused are so fucking scared of losing everything that they shut down and hide. They may not even realize that they're being abused. I blamed myself a lot of the time. Every time Mom yelled at me, screamed at me, belittled me, and slammed doors in my face or slapped me... every single time, I hated myself. I hated who I was, and I couldn't understand how I was always so awful when I tried to be good. But it was my fault.
I'm still trying to be good. I have a desperate need to be good to the people around me, and yet, I somehow continue to feel like I'm screwing up. Although, these days I try to give myself the benefit of the doubt and realize that all I can do is look out for myself and my little family, and let others make their own decisions. It's not my fault. I'm doing my best to love and be loved, but if anyone is hurt... That's not on me, there's something else at the core of who they are, something I can't know, will never know, and can never fix. It's not my fault. It's not your fault.
I have a new goal to reach out to children who may be in abusive situations and not recognize it. It really does take an outsider to recognize the signs of abuse, and I think we all have that shared responsibility to voice it, and look out for one another.
Of course I have more to say but I'll leave it at that for now.
While I was at my book signing this last weekend, I realized I was surrounded by people who love me. In a way I've never been loved before, and that was incredible.