We mostly keep our community upbeat and fun. Every week for our live sale we remind everyone to be kind and have fun. Life is short so we should all enjoy the ride. Of course, happiness is something everyone dreams of and wants to pursue. My reasoning why is what sets this community apart from many others.
I have never hidden the fact that I had a rough life. I grew up in poverty. As if being on welfare wasn't bad enough on its own, my father was an addict who sold our food stamps to get his next high. We never had a stable home environment. We moved from one trashed place to the next. Sometimes we were in trailers that had no running water or heat. We very often lived without electricity. Jumping back and forth from places with my father to a family member taking us in. By the time I had graduated high school, I had been enrolled in 12 different schools. We transferred twice as much but often returned to schools we had been to before.
At his worst...
He would stumble into our house, usually late at night, and hit every single one of us for reasons he made up in his head. Understand, we weren't spanked. We were beaten with leather belts by the full force of a grown man. We were kicked with steel toe boots. Punched in the ribs. I am not talking about a disciplinary spanking. There were many times the police were involved but everyone was too afraid to speak up and tell our truth. As children, we would hint to our teachers or counselors in school. We would be questioned when we couldn't sit because the welts were unbearable. Many tried to step up but we were transferred out so often they couldn't do much, even if they wished they could. Nothing was ever done. Child protective services never took us.
And there was more...
Along with my father abusing me. I was sexually abused. In the home (no, not by my father) and with family. Both sides of my family. There was no safe place for me. The bruises of my father's beatings faded and the resentment eventually turned into the ambition to be better and do better. But the emotional toll of sexual abuse still lingers.
I'm not going to go on about how horrible I had it. That is not my purpose of this blog post.
For the first twelve years of my life, I wanted to die. I would fear death but welcome it at the same time. I often wondered if he would finally kill one of us this time. If tonight would be the night.
It wasn't until I was 12 that my mother stood up for herself and ended it. She divorced my father. I took it hard. I acted out. No one wanted to be near me. Deep down I felt, if I act like this is okay then he will come back and kill me. I had to disagree and with full force. Around the same time, I stood up for myself against my sexual abuser. I threatened to kill him, I held a knife to him.
My entire family thought I had gone crazy and shipped me off to a psychiatric ward for minors. That very day I realized my secret was mine forever. I spent three weeks in the hospital. Therapists and doctors swore to my mom that I was fine and had an emotional breakdown likely due to the divorce.
After I left that hospital, suicide played in my head for years. I kept my secrets and they tore me apart silently like an internal disease.
It wasn't until I was 18 and saw a way out of this life that I finally felt some peace but the thoughts and feelings still lingered. They came and go less often. After I held my baby for the first time, I finally felt I had something to live for.
For nearly 20 years I wanted to die. Mental health is something that is far too often ignored. You never know what someones internal pain is like. Don't get angry when someone takes to long to move when the light turns green, or if they freeze in the grocery store and stare at something. Be kind and patient. It can be hard. Just try to remember that your one kind act can change the course of someone's day. Being kind and smiling at someone for a brief second can impact their view of humanity.
Most importantly, always remember that you ARE important and loved.
All of this came to me because of listening to this song: