Thursday, August 4, 2011

Meet Carrie

“Life is like a rainbow. You need both the sun and the rain to make its colors appear.”
It came as a complete surprise to me that MY story could save someone's life. Mine? Really? I guess since I've just lived and rolled with the punches I just thought this was just my life and the way things were supposed to fall into place. Being truly happy now for the first time in my life, maybe this can put all my past at rest and let me get the most out of my future. Wow, I'm already crying. Nice.

Growing up I had no idea what was going on. I wondered why my parents would never let any of my friends come over to play or to spend the night. Little did I know they were smoking marijuana and didn't want to get caught. So from the beginning I was taught to lie in people's best interest so they would quit asking questions.

Things got worse when my dad became a full-blown alcoholic. My mother, brother and I fell victim to his wretched words. He was emotionally abusing his whole family. Being told something over and over, no matter what it is, eventually they will believe it as the truth. I was being told I was going to get so fat that no one would ever want me, going to live out of a trash can when I was older because I was so lazy, and that I was worthless and wouldn't amount to anything. We never let anyone know until my dad became a cocaine addict as well and things got even worse at home. I wrote a letter to my father at age 13 saying that if he hurt us again that I was going to use the loaded shotgun in their closet to kill him so he wouldn't hurt us anymore. My mom intercepted my note and both my brother and I spent the afternoon at my Granny's and with tears in our eyes, we told her everything. She told my mother to make a decision. It was either us, or my dad. The abuse had to end. My Granny was going to take care of us if she chose my dad and that she wasn't going to be allowed to see us ever again. That night my mom told my dad it was either the coke or his family and that she was going to change the locks and throw all his stuff in the yard.

He chose us and things lightened up a bit. He was still verbally abusive, but it wasn't as bad as before. Knowing what I know now, I know he was insecure, unhappy, and was taking it out on us. My friends never knew the real me. I kept the happy face on and the jokes rolling so they wouldn't worry about me. I was the happy one, the one everyone went to when they needed to be cheered up. They had no idea my dad was an addict, that he was emotionally abusive, and that my weight gain was due to finding the comfort I longed for in food.

I was also ashamed because my dad was racist. My friends didn't know about it, well they didn't know until my really good friend Portia in middle school came over after school to help me with my math homework. She was a straight A student with successful parents. My dad forced us to stay out in the heat on the porch because he refused to let a black person in his house. He wouldn't let me bring both of us a glass of water because he “didn't want n****r lips touching his glasses.” Then he yelled, “that n****r better not steal anything or I'll beat you with a belt.” I was sobbing by that point with embarrassment as Portia got up, ran away, and refused to be my friend ever again no matter how much I tried to tell her that I didn't believe the way he did and loved and accepted everyone, regardless of sex or race. I hated him for that and decided to pack a suitcase because as soon as I turned 16, I was going to run away.

My parents never told me about sex and I didn't have any good relationships in my life growing up to give me a good example of what it was supposed to be like. I had always told myself that I would do the right, Christian thing and wait until marriage to have sex with the man I loved. At age 18 I got tired of waiting to find out what it was like, and figured that all the friends I had that “put out” always had someone to love. So I decided to call a guy I had a crush on for about a week and asked him if he wanted to have sex. Surely afterwards we would start dating and I would be in love, right? Well, needless to say it wasn't what I expected and afterwards he was just a friend and wasn't interested in pursuing a relationship with me. But during the act of it, I felt so close to him, as if we were the only two people in the world and that I mattered. This caused me to start a promiscuous life because I craved the closeness I felt when I was having sex with them. Little did I know that those guys didn't give a crap about me and was only out to get what they wanted. I never cared about getting pleasure out of it because no one bothered to try to please me. I even went on to believe that I would never know what it felt like to orgasm because it never happened for me during sex. So needless to say, I became a “giver.”

I graduated by the skin of my teeth in the summer after all my friends. I was more interested in the party than my schoolwork. My parents told me that I had to start college, but I wanted to take a break and enjoy myself. I had started smoking marijuana by that time (if it wasn't good, why were my parents still doing it, right?) and continued on my quest to find love in the wrong way. My first real relationship came at age 19. His name was Trey and I now know it was infatuation and the idea of love. It lasted 13 months and it ended in a letter sent to me from boot camp. We were engaged and I was devastated. I flunked out of both semesters of college and was too busy having fun that I didn't care about anything.

Then I met my ex-husband. I felt appreciated for once and things started out well. Our three month “courtship” was exciting and so much fun. Surely he was the one I had been praying for my whole life. We got married only after knowing each other for four months. This was my ticket out of my parents’ house. I got pregnant with John right after we got married and then the downward spiral began. I didn't want him to touch me. I felt horrible and I was depressed my entire pregnancy. When I had my son I felt numb and didn't have any idea what to do. I neglected myself and him. I still feel terrible about it. After being out of work and my husband being fired from his, we lost our apartment and were forced to move in with the Grandmother-in-Law that hated me. Life then became absolute hell. I hated where I was. I hated my life. I didn't even recognize myself in the mirror, I had went from a size 16/18 to a 26/28. It was like looking at a stranger. I closed myself off from everyone and in doing so resulted in the six times my husband raped me. I kicked and fought and yelled, but he just waited until I was exhausted and couldn't fight back anymore and then he forced himself on me. He had me convinced it was my fault and that no one would ever believe me, so I didn't tell anyone. Knowing what I know now, I should have reported it, but I was afraid they would laugh at me and tell me to go home.

I soon started working at a clothing store and met a girl named Shondra. She told me that if I gave all my worries and hurt to God that his love would wash over me and make me clean again. At this point I had nothing to lose and in my car in the parking lot of the mall I gave my heart to Him. I told Him I didn't want this anymore, that it was His problem to fix. Shortly after that, I was free. I left my husband, took John and moved back in with my parents. I was working at a new job at another clothing store and there I met one of the most amazing people I've met in my entire life, Zandra. She was confident, nice, and she helped me feel pretty for the first time in my entire life. For the first time I believed that I was cute. We spent an entire shift putting me in outfits and I still have the paper she wrote down the styles of clothes that flattered my figure. In the midst of it all, this was my reason to keep going and to keep faith that people were good or had some good in them. She helped me regain myself and build my self-esteem back up. I really don't know what I would have done if I wouldn't have met her when I did. I still love her for that and am thankful that she came into my life when she did because I was at rock bottom. But things didn't get easier.

I then met Anthony. He and I met as friends. Shortly afterward, we found ourselves on the same page, having just left our marriages & and we missed being close to someone. We fit perfectly and never went a day without seeing or talking to each other, which also meant I wasn't paying attention to my son. Again, I still feel terrible for this. We then got into smoking ice and I moved out of my parents’ house, leaving two year old John behind on a quest to get high. It was the worst thing I'd done yet. I was isolated in a one room shanty out at the lake in the woods away from everything and everyone. I only had ice and my boyfriend. We got so strung out we would stay up for weeks at a time and end up passing out for three or four days. I never told my parents about my drug abuse and I gave them primary conservator ship of my son. He didn't need to see what I had become.

About six months later, I left on a trip to see a longtime friend and came clean with what was going on. At that time I knew that he loved me and wanted the best for me, but I wasn't quite ready to walk away. Ice had a grip on me and it wasn't letting go. It was the best week of my life at that time, but then I had to go back home to my addiction. It took having my first panic attack and being paralyzed in fear, unable to move for me to snap out of its hold on me. It was the slap in the face I needed to get clean. After being on ice for over a year and a half, I soon moved back into my parents’ house and left Anthony to his addiction.

Life was staring looking up for me again. I was with my son again. I had a job I never thought I was capable of doing for fear of my clumsiness- I was a waitress. One night when I was headed home from work, I turned on my blinker to change lanes, only to be clipped by a Firebird doing 75 and I went crashing down the retainer wall on the side of the highway. I had suffered severe whiplash and nerve damage. I was told I would be lucky to regain 70 percent of my movement back in my arms and hands. My spine had shifted and my left side was now almost two inches longer than my right.

This was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. Being told you would never get to hold your son again for fear of making things worse; it was a hard blow to receive. I was in physical therapy three times a week for six months. I made a miraculous recovery thanks to the treatment I endured. Things still get bad every now and then. I lose control of my hands sometimes when I have a hold of something, but I was lucky to come out of it the way I did. I started a new job where I wouldn't have to put as much stress on my body waiting tables at another restaurant. I moved out of my parent's house again & and was enjoying living on my own and working on getting my life back together. I later moved again into an apartment with some friends and started waiting tables somewhere else.

Who knew what would happen next. Come to find out, I was four months pregnant. I had a happy pregnancy. I accepted responsibility for this life I was about to bring into the world. Things didn't go over well with my mother though. Until I knew how far along I was, she wanted me to go against my beliefs and have an abortion. This crushed me. She made a convincing argument, saying that I couldn't even take care of the child I had. My dad, who I thought would take it the worst, actually was so excited about it, that he longed for another grandson. I vowed to work until I popped. My boss kept asking me when I was going to go on leave and I told him, “When I go into labor in the passout.” I was forced to take medical leave at eight months pregnant and I was no longer able to afford my share. I had to give up my independence and move home. Again. Everything I had worked for establishing myself and my life in the past two years felt like a complete waste of time because it was being taken away from me again, just to have to start over with nothing to show for it. 

Unfortunately, after I had Gabriel, my parents were not helping things when I spiraled down into postpartum depression. At my three month checkup, I told my doctor that with Gabriel's colic, my parents refusing to help with him and let me rest, that I thought about putting a pillow over my son's face to make him quit crying. I was at wit's end at this point, not receiving any help from my parents and being forced to get up when the house did, due to living in the living room, I had gone mad.

I was escorted to the hospital where I was put into Green Oaks for observation. There they prescribed a medication that forced me to sleep and would combat my chemical imbalance that was causing my depression. My parents were unsympathetic. They were angry that due to this, they had temporary custody of Gabriel and thought I was faking all of it so I wouldn't have to accept my responsibilities. I was heartbroken. I HAD to get out.

A year later, I moved into my current residence and took Gabriel with me. My parents told me that it would be best for John to stay with them to maintain stability and I agreed. Things were immediately better. I finally decided to do something with my life and enrolled in an online college to get a degree in accounting to start in the fall.

About four months in, I started talking to a guy named Nathan. We hit it off. We liked all the same things it seemed like. We talked every day for almost a month and we told each other about our fears and hopes. We laughed so much and I felt like things couldn't get any better. We were tired of dating people because it just didn't seem like it would go anywhere. We were tired of being lied to and cheated on.  He decided to move in with me and we had both decided it was all or nothing. We were going to throw caution to the wind and just see where it went. He has been the only person to ever get me and he is absolutely everything I ever wanted and what I had been praying for my whole adult life. Every time I said “if only I could find someone that...,” that was Nathan.  He has been by my side for almost a year now and I know finally what true love is. He loves Gabriel like he was his own son and we take on life together with our hearts entwined. I finally know the real meaning of love and with an open heart, I completely trust him and he trusts me.

I may not know what life has for me now, but I think that with the person I have become and my optimistic point of view and sense of humor, I will anticipate it with all my heart happily holding Nathan and Gabriel's hands. I hope this helps someone. Even at the worst times of my life, I was able to find light in the darkest of darkness. Despite everything that has been thrown at me, I hold my head high and live my life to better myself for not only just myself, but for my family as well. In the face of adversity I have taken my optimistic point of view and got through it every time. I never lost my faith in love, and I never let anything that happened to me cause me to fall in the same footsteps as my parents. I will not let what happen to me happen to my children if I can help it. Thank you for reading this and where ever you are in your life, remember to always keep your head up. Don't let anyone get the best of you without proving to you that they deserve it first. And please don't feel ashamed if you have been raped. Get help and prosecute the person that did it to you. Have a great day and thank you for letting me do this. :)

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