“If I end up in the emergency room, who is even going to care, let alone notice?”
I spoke those words out loud, not fully knowing or understanding the impact they would have on my life just a few days later.
There I was, a troubled eighteen-year-old kid. My life was consumed with violence, negativity, and pain. It was literally all I knew. I’d been raised in a family that based everything on violent actions and negative emotions. How was I supposed to know anything else? So I acted in alignment with what I had been taught. I was violent. I was negative. And I was in pain.
Growing up in my home had been a struggle.
My mom worked three jobs just to make ends meet, and she wasn’t home much. At the very young age of eight years old, I was responsible for taking care of my baby sister and myself. That meant getting us up for school, getting us to and from the bus stop, cooking dinner for the two of us, cleaning up, and then getting both of us ready and into bed—all before my mom got home from work. I was forced to grow up fast.
My household was not a loving, caring place either. I can remember waking up in the middle of the night to my parents fighting—yelling and screaming at each other. I lived in constant fear, listening to statements like, “I hate you! I wish you would die!” And these were just some of the words I heard.
At the age of fifteen, I ran away from home, because I finally realized that I couldn’t endure the physical, mental, and emotional abuse any longer. I knew that the pain and suffering I saw growing up wasn’t right. I knew there had to be another way to care for a family. I left the state, which I can now see was a cry for help. I was searching for something to relieve all that pain. I ended up being “missing” for three weeks. And, instead of getting the help I so desperately needed, that experience only brought more pain and suffering. It taught me that if someone has the courage to reach out, it’s important for me to have the strength to reach back!