Stigmas and The Lives We Live

There’s a thousand different things that can happen in a day. We can create a reason for a stranger to smile, we can find money on the ground, we can find love or heartbreak, and something that happens on a daily is, we are judged. There are so many different stereotypes and taboo things in this world. Some of them I get, but some of them I can’t wrap my head around. We were never created to be these perfect beings. We all have flaws, and none of that should fully overshadow how people see us. I get it, I am a far cry from perfect. I haven’t had the best time growing up, and that has affected me in many different ways. I’ve been abused in many different ways, I’ve felt like crap about myself, I’ve had good self-esteem and terrible self-esteem. I’ve made my rounds, and that’s okay. I’m human. I eat, I sleep, I breathe, and I mess up. Sometimes it can be larger than other times. Why should that define me as a person? Aren’t we taught to not look back? So why do we allow our pasts to mark our futures with a label?

A little back story about me. I grew up in foster care. Not because my parents didn’t love me, but because they likely weren’t ready to be full time parents, and that’s okay. They didn’t love each other, but they did love us. I was sexually assaulted at the age of three. No I do not remember it, but I do have the paperwork to prove it. I moved into one foster home when I was nine years old. Everything seemed okay. I got to talk to my mom and dad every now and then. Two years after moving in, I found out that my nana passed away. That was probably around the last time I spoke to my mom, until I was a legal adult. Not because I didn’t want to talk to her, but because CAS (children’s aid society) decided that we would be better off without her in our lives. They were wrong.

The only mother figure I grew up with was my foster mother. She was a terrible woman. Because of her I have a hard time dealing with women trying to “mother” me. Remember how I was nine years old when I moved in with them? Well by the time I last saw my mother I was eleven. I was a tomboy, and I had some behavior issues. That’s pretty normal for a kid my age. When middle school started, things went slightly down hill. By the age of thirteen I had begun to self harm. Why, you may ask. Well my foster mother and I didn’t get along very well. We had very different opinions on things, I was bullied in school, and my brother disappeared, moving to a different home all together. My world flipped upside down that summer before I started high school. Now my social worker at the time wasn’t the best either. My foster mother was abusive to me. Not in a physical way, so I guess to some people it didn’t count. But because of her my self esteem was lower than it ever had been. She’d make me feel fat and ugly. I would wear a little bit of make up on my eyes (emo phase), a lot of dark colours, and skinny jeans, and I looked like trash. I wasn’t allowed pants smaller than a size 7 (26/27) or else they weren’t flattering. But if I dressed like a girl, I looked like a slut. The shirts she’d pick out, or that she’d get me as a present, were skimpy or inappropriate. There was no surviving her onslaught of mental, emotional, and verbal abuse. But again, that’s not physical, so I was actually okay. (please note the sarcasm)

The self harm continued deep into my high school years. All the way through to grade 12 to be exact. So did her abusive ways. I had a therapist, but at one point, my foster mother decided that it wasn’t working, so I stopped going. I found out my boyfriend of a year had cheated on me with my anorexic friend, which happened at a time that I felt the most ashamed of my body weight, which wasn’t that much. I’ve been 130-135 pounds since I was about fifteen. I found out after I had tried to kill myself. My foster mother forced me to go to the hospital, only to tell them that it was nothing more than for attention. I had over 200 cuts all over my body, including places like my inner thighs, wrists, and my throat. But obviously I just wanted to be forced to walk in front of my younger brother, (who up until that point, I had hid all the self harm from,) forced to get into an ambulance, and go spend an entire Saturday in the hospital.

I had a small video chat conversation with a “psychiatrist” who decided that there was nothing wrong with me. At this point I had been self harming for two straight years, trying my best to hide the scars and the fresh marks. I didn’t walk around in tee shirts, or shorts when there was marks to be seen. I learned how to hide it, learned how to lie. It became so easy to not make eye contact, to just smile and say “Oh, my boyfriend’s cat needs her nails cut” or stupid shit like that. No one really cared enough to try and see through the lies.

When I was sixteen, I had forgiven the guy who cheated. Well forgiven isn’t the right word. I tried to forget what had happened but it didn’t work. In the end I ended up cheating on him in spite, and that action has haunted me to this day. I hate myself for what I did, but I hate my foster mother more for what happened after the event. The guy I had cheated with lived with this guy who’s two years older than me. He went to high school with my brother. Well I was spending a lot of my time hanging out with these two guys, so my foster mother pretty much told me that I shouldn’t spend so much time with guys that I wasn’t dating, because “it looks a little whorish. I mean, what will people think?” this made me feel like I couldn’t tell her about anything. The guy who went to school with my brother took advantage of my naivety, and he raped me. He won’t ever think that he did anything wrong. To him he was just hooking up with a pretty girl. A girl who’s tears couldn’t stop his action. A girl with a foster mother who would never believe that she didn’t want it.

The self harm got worse after that. I never told my foster parents, because I knew that they wouldn’t have protected me. I was probably just asking for it, or I had changed my mind last minute. I mean, it’s what girls do all the time. We can never make up our minds. When we say stop, we really mean keep going. Don’t and no must sound like do and yes. Girls just never know what they want, so it’s a boys job to make the decision for them, right? (again, note the sarcasm.)

The same year, near the end of grade 11, shit hit the fan at my foster home. My foster mother and I got into a heated argument. Hurtful things were said, tears were shed. I slunk down to my basement bedroom, shut the door a little too hard, My foster mother came down, threw my door open, yelled how much she fucking hated me, and punched me in the arm. Oh look, now it’s abuse because she actually physically hit me. But wait, I didn’t tell anyone for a few months, so it must not have happened. I mean no evidence means no crime right? Well that’s how it ended up being. My word against hers, and mine wasn’t valid because I was a messed up child who just didn’t like the woman.

Why I didn’t tell anyone about it for a few months was because I couldn’t bare to leave my little brother there alone. He was my saving grace and I love him more than anything. If guardian angels are real, he’s mine sent to earth in the form of a beautiful boy four years younger than me. Eventually I snapped and couldn’t take the abuse anymore. I made a decision for myself for once, one that didn’t involve hurting myself physically, but it did leave its emotional toll. It caused a rift between me and my angel. I’m sure he resented me for leaving him, after I had done my best to always be there for him. Even though I wasn’t there with him, I was always his biggest fan. I moved to a different foster home, and things still weren’t great.

They were lovely people at first. But then the division came when I refused to follow their beliefs. As a foster kid who is seventeen, I am allowed to be what I want to be. And unluckily for them, that was a non religious, homosexual. I still loved black clothing, I liked harder music, and I was very much my own person. I started colouring my hair, and got my first two piercings (besides the basic ear lobe). I started to feel more like my own person, more like me. But they started saying shit to my social worker, and it got to the point with her that she told me I was extremely judgmental and that I don’t have friends because of the way I was dressing. So once again I was brought down, my little bit of self esteem earned burned in the fire created by more people who were supposed to protect me and build me up. Everyone in this world likes to pretend that they are on your side, until you don’t benefit them anymore. Oh, I also dated my foster brothers’ best friend. Well, it wasn’t really dating. I was his little dirty summer fling when he didn’t want to be with his baby mama. They are married with two kids now, and she’s my age. At least good things can happen for some people. Just not ones who have already been dealt a shitty hand at the start of life.

Now at the age of twenty, I’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship (which I kind of regret leaving) I moved to the city, where I had a chance to be with someone I’m pretty sure I’m in love with, but that didn’t work out…again. He says that we can’t be anything more than friends even though he likes me more than that. Apparently there’s two ways a hard childhood can lead you. A path where you still want to embrace love and relationships, and a path like the one he is clearly on. Pushing people away when they get too close. I’ve been the third party of a relationship (both other parties knew, but that didn’t last long) I’ve had one night stands, and I’ve been assessed for mental illness.

Many things in my life are taboo, or have a bad stigma around them. Mental illness? “there’s meds for that.” “just get over it” “look at the positive things in life. that’ll make it better.” So many stupid statements from people who don’t understand that depression is hard to work with, it’s hard to live with. I also suffer from CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) and general anxiety disorder. As well as a few things I haven’t had confirmed. I don’t do well with groups with more men than women, I have panic attacks for no reason, my emotions are uncontrollable, and I am a complete pain in the ass too deal with. I feel like I’ll never find love, my self esteem is still low, but want to know something?

My life is one huge stigma, but I’m still trying. I look in the mirror every morning and try to give myself a smile. I put my shoes on and walk to the bus. I get on, even when there are large amounts of men and head to work, where I deal with many different people, both in person and on the phone. I face my fears of living every day, and I fight my struggle my own way. I’m doing okay, I’m slowly making it. I’m only 20 years old, and still I’ve carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m rebuilding my relationship with my baby brother, I have a great relationship with my mom and step dad, I have a 3 year old step sister who looks up to me, and who I adore.

Life can be a bitch sometimes, but we just have to put up the middle finger and say Fuck You to the negativity. I know it’s hard, but it can be done.

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Back to Where I started

I find it really hard when we can’t choose who we love and when. In life our hearts just decide on a person and you are left to deal with whatever situations arise from those feelings. I deal with the constant struggle of feeling guilty because I love who I am with, but I’ve also realized that my feelings for another has grown past the stage of liking. I’ve known this one individual for three years now, and I have liked him from the very first moment I laid eyes upon him, but I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years now.

I had been able to resist these feelings up until this past summer, because he had never had the same feelings. This summer he admitted to liking me too. We tried to be together and it didn’t work out. I was devastated and didn’t know what to do with myself. People started to worry that I was becoming an alcoholic due to how often I got drunk in a single week. Him and I hadn’t talked for just over six months, until recently. We got back in touch, and I was instantly reminded of how I felt about him.

He asked if I still liked him, and I told him my honest answer. When I asked when he stopped liking me, he took a long time to give me a straight answer. Eventually he told me that I was basically pretty but not datable, “if that makes sense”. I know it’s because we didn’t work out before, but that doesn’t change how much I wish we could try again. I know it’s not fair to who I’m with now, but I can’t keep denying it. It causes me a lot of pain to keep it hidden, or to try and convince myself that I don’t feel this way anymore.

I know that we’ll never be together, and I’ve come to terms with that as long as I can still have him as my friend. I write letters to him sometimes, but I never send them, nor will he ever see them. It’s for my own benefit, and I don’t think he would take the words written in it that well. I just wish that we could discuss the events that took place this summer, but he doesn’t want to bring it up and reopen the wounds that have slowly been healing for me. ┬áIt’s funny because I’ve been waiting for him to tell me he still had feelings for me for the last six months, and when he finally does, I don’t know how to respond. I want to tell him 100% how I feel about him, but I rather not scare him away again.

Which Direction to Take

When I think of my future, I know what I want. I want a family and a career, I want a home not just a house. I want love and respect. I want to help children grow up to become better. I want to create a better tomorrow. 

I have this idea printed firmly in my head, and I can see the pathway so clearly, until I’m ready to start making my way toward those dreams. I keep getting mixed up and lost along the way. My plans seem to be changing day by day, while I stay completely the same. 

I take a step toward a happily ever after, but someone else is always on my mind. I feel as though I’ll never be able to forget him, or love anyone more than him, and it’s not fair to the one I’m with, but I can’t convince my heart otherwise. I want to keep taking steps forward, I really do, but I can’t as long as I’m in love with this man. 

I know he doesn’t return the feelings, not in the slightest, and I can’t tell him about them or I’ll never hear from him again. It would probably benefit me if we never spoke again, but he’s one of my best friends and I miss him. I could tell him anything that was on my mind. Somethings I can’t even tell my significant other. 

I feel as though I am hiding from him, and that I am doing something wrong, but the only thing I am keeping from him is the pain and agony within my heart. It seems my world is getting darker and darker, and I feel as though I am beginning to suffocate underneath the weight of everything I deal with. I’m starting to lose motivation and trust in myself. I’m starting to forget why I stopped doing certain things, and I’m starting to remember why I did others in the first place.