Sometimes something will happen and get you to thinking about how far you’ve come in life. That was the case for me the other day. It had me reflecting on the differences between my childhood and what I’ve been able to provide for my own children.
My parents divorced when I was only 1 year old. My mother worked 3 jobs to support me and my 3 siblings, while my bio-dad moved out of the states and rarely communicated with us. We lived in public housing and food stamps kept food in our fridge. When I was 7 my mother married a real piece of shit, an abusive alcoholic asshole. He could never hold down a job, but my mom kept working 3 jobs to keep our family going. Everyone seemed to think my stepdad was a cool man – he could really turn on the charm sometimes. They would have been shocked to know how often he abused my mother, or beat me and my youngest sister with belts, fly swatters or even his hands. It leaves a hell of an impression on a young child to see her 3 year old sister gagged and tied up in her bedroom just so “daddy” could get some quiet time with another bottle of beer while mommy was working. Many nights my mom would lock me and my little sister in our bedroom before the asshole returned from the bar. Her instructions were always the same, “Don’t come out, no matter what you hear.” She tried to shield us from the worst of it yet I still saw him hold a shotgun to her head and throw knives at her. My mother tried many times to leave my stepdad, but it wasn’t until I was 14 that she was finally successful.
When the asshole was finally out of the picture I started getting into trouble with the law. Go figure! I got into so much trouble that I spent a month in juvenile detention and then was removed from my mother’s home at the age of 15. Luckily, some family members stepped up and took me in so I wouldn’t be placed in a foster home. This was a major turning point for me. I changed schools, started participating in school activities and got back on the honor roll. I began to realize that I had been acting out in all of my anger and years of pain and frustration. I resolved that I would live a better life and that one day I would provide an environment for my own kids that would be so completely different than what I experienced.
I think this was really the start of my “Bitch lifestyle”. It was at this time that I knew I would never let another person treat me so horribly. It was when I knew I would always protect those that mattered to me. It was when I knew I would not become my past. I would do what it took to rise above everything I had been through.
My adult life has been so different from my childhood. I’m successful in my career. I have one college degree completed and I’m almost done with another. I have a great husband and three wonderful daughters who I instill with my beliefs of being strong, independent and determined women who won’t let someone kick them down. At the same time I teach them compassion for others. I give them opportunities to become confident in who they are.
So many people allow their past to become their future. They repeat patterns and stay with what is familiar to them. It doesn’t have to be this way. What happened in the past is not who you are in the future. It should shape who you become, but you have the power to make decisions that will change the course of your life. I didn’t have an easy childhood, but I don’t use that as an excuse as others do. I use my past as motivation for my future. You should, too. It’s never too late to be the person you want to be.