I’ve moved almost 30 times. Had free lunch, reduced lunch, and friends who shared their lunch.
Changed schools during critical foundational education, such as 3 schools in 2nd grade.
Struggled to keep up appearances as a student so my extended family wouldn’t judge my mom. Because as a kid we see all the things.
I spent third grade in a shelter.
Right around then, I met my stepdad who struggled with his anger + bullying to make himself feel like a man.
My stepdad adopted me in seventh grade after my mom had my dad arrested for not paying child support. I was the girl who’s dad was in jail. I was 12, shame on blast.
We moved back to a town I love in eighth grade. I tried to feel normal. I did.
We stayed for three years. My stepdads mom got sick with cancer. She lived with us. I witnessed what the disease does when it spreads from your lungs to your brain. I also saw what it looked like to have people scream at you when you became a burden. She passed.
We moved again. Junior year of high school this time. And, that year my mom told me she made a mistake. The identity I proudly wore as an Italian, Irish, Polish girl was an illusion because my dad who had been previously jailed was not my dad.
So at 16 I found out I had different biological ties. Ones I would explore but would end in heartache.
People can only love you from where they are at in life. Remember this.
Somewhere in the next two years I felt lost. I remember the contention in my family of origin. Control and jealousy oozed out of every orfice.
And then I tried to take my own life. I was so lost under the pressure of everyone’s pretenses and I couldn’t stand the way I felt being denied my feelings over and over.
When they took me into the hospital I’ll never forget how they cut the ties of my drawstring pants. There was a shift to complete surrender. I was there. There was no going anywhere until they said.
The group discussion was rather telling. Everyone is suffering from their own pain. Though I’m positive it was my one on one session which helped the counselor to see the full scope of family dynamics and that I wasn’t a threat to myself or anyone else. They let me go home.
I had been in counseling my whole life. And they can’t do much for a kid, other than listen. Which was good bc my mom always seemed to treat me like the problem when I would speak up about the injustice of our family. I loved having talk therapy in my life.
Although after my incident they tried to medicate me with Lexapro. I didn’t need meds, or even want them. I needed a new environment. I needed people willing to get to the roots of their things and fundamentally change our way of life. But that requires bigger work. Work not being met by my caregivers.
My stepfather had been on Zoloft for years and it tamed his outbursts but it didn’t change the nature of his day to day behavior. Have you ever been fine, happy even, and someone walks in and shifts the whole energy. And in an instant you find you aren’t even breathing? Welcome to egg shell walking. It’s a bitch.
Eventually I would get to reinvent my daily life. I’d go away to college, learn what it would feel like to breathe. And I did.
There is plenty to share along the way to now but you get the picture.
Mental health is not something to stigmatize. Everyone has a form of trauma, has dysfunctional family, and has battles we know nothing about.
So often I’ve felt judgment for making decisions as an adult to protect my mental wellbeing. As if I’m wrong to preserve myself for the people who I am now responsible for and raising with love. I make no apologies for my choices and I make no judgement or blame for those who were unable to meet me where I needed because they hadn’t gone deep enough themselves.
We are all healing or hurting. It’s our choice. And the way we treat people is an extension of where we are. Remember that too.
I care deeply about the parent child relationship. I believe it is one to be nurtured, not assumed it’s one that is simply reciprocated out of obligation. It’s so much more than that.
And mental health awareness is a required course if you really want to be happy. Lose the stigma, lose the judgment - just don’t lose yourself trying to fit into the narrative of others. Be your own person and live your life.
We were made to heal ourselves. Allow yourself to really be with the one you are.
You and I are both magnificent. And so are all the parties involved in this message. Some just haven’t discovered it yet.
All my love. Xo Nik