Almost Grown

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

I had all the hormones, emotions, and anger of a normal teenage girl added with a difficult childhood, abuse, and neglect. In my mind I was GROWN. I examined many of the “adults” in my life and was confident that I was their equal or superior in a multitude of ways. I watched how many of them lived their lives and vowed that I would not live my life like them. They would serve an anti-example of how to live my life. I worked, saved money, I was responsible for two kids, and I knew Education was the key to changing my situation because no one was coming to save me. I would have to save myself, not my “real” mom, not my aunts, not my dad, no one. I would have to save me. Coming to these conclusions at fifteen made me angry with everyone. I never directly expressed or showed my anger, I never got in trouble in school, I was respectful to most adults (men my mom dated didn’t count), and on the surface, I appeared to be my normal happy self. I was not. I had so much pent up anger and no outlet. I couldn’t let anyone around me know, I had been walking around stockpiling anger for years. I would continue to do so well into my adult life. I had to be nice and I had to be kind. I had to prove I was not like my mom. The other reason I had to hide my anger was because I already felt less than deserving of love, I believed that if people really knew how I felt and how angry I really was no one would ever love me. I had to be good. I had to be and do better. There was no other option. I would spend my nights wondering how my life would turn out and how I was going to get away from everything and everyone that I knew.

My mom had always drank a lot and smoked weed, but I don’t think that as a kid I considered her an alcoholic or a drug addict. I just knew she drank a lot, got high, and got really mean when she did. This combination usually lead to fights or other crazy scenarios. I have no idea when my mom started using crack but if I had to pick I would say sometime around 1987 or so. This is when she was home less and less, it started with a day here and there, then progressed to a few days at a time, then a week or so. Eventually it got to the point where she would go get groceries for the month and disappear completely.  I would later find out that on some of those occasions she had been locked up. Back then, I didn’t even consider that she was on crack, as much anger as I had for her deep down, I still hoped she would snap out of it and act how I believed a mom was supposed to. So even when she began to steal and hang around other known crack heads the thought that she too was a crack head didn’t’ occur to me. Even when she started getting arrested I didn’t believe. I don’t know why but it didn’t even cross my mind, it was not even a consideration. I would just say to myself “she is getting herself mixed up with the wrong crowd.” I could not accept that she WAS the wrong crowd. I think part of why I didn’t think she was on crack was because she was always out front with everything. She drank, smoked, and did whatever else in front of us kids so, I just assumed that was all there was. I didn’t know smoking crack was a hidden act or that she would try to shield us from any of her actions.

Vials of crack cocaine.  New York Daily News via Getty Images

With my mom being an intermittent parent, I began to get a bit bold and very passive aggressive. I was under no delusion that I could in anyway take on my mom physically I had been on the receiving end many times and knew full well she was my superior when it came to brawn. In my new GROWN state, I did believe I was her superior mentally or at minimum we were equally matched. This was the mind set that put me on a path to find a way out.

The kids and I were at the house one day and we were in trouble for something, but as usual my mom would say we couldn’t leave the house and then leave. We would stick to her rules for a while but eventually in her absence, we would do what we wanted. We would constantly be looking over our shoulders and we would employ look outs because we never knew when she might return. This particular day we were totally out of compliance! My sister and brother had asked to ride their bike to the store, and I was on the porch talking with the neighbor kids (one of which was a boy totally not allowed). I don’t know how long I had been talking but it wasn’t long when my sister and brother came rushing back crying and yelling that mom had caught them and was heading to the house. My heart raced but I was an adult, I wasn’t really doing anything wrong, and I was almost done with my conversation anyway, so I said ok I will be there in a sec. As soon as I turned my back to continue talking my mom pulled up with her friends she hopped out of the passenger side of the car before it had completely come to a stop. I knew an ASS WHOOPING was imminent! I don’t know why but I didn’t go when she asked me the first time, I continued talking. I didn’t go when she yelled at me the second time. The next thing I know she had ran up on the porch grabbed me by my hair and dragged me all the way home. When we were in the house she punched me and hit me over and over then grabbed me by my throat and pushed me up against the wall. I don’t know what she said I wasn’t listening she sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown. What she was saying didn’t matter, I did not care, and in that moment, I decided that I was leaving her house for good. After she finished saying what she had to say, she left and even though I didn’t’ hear what she had to say I knew that I was not supposed to leave the house or tell anyone what had happened. We didn’t have a phone so about five minutes after she left I went down the street to use the phone and called my dad. She walked in to our neighbors house and slapped me and snatched the phone away just as he picked up the phone. All he could hear was me screaming, tussling, and then the phone hung up. There was more hitting and choking. I don’t remember feeling the pain I simply remember checking out mentally. I loved my sister and brother dearly, but I had to leave. I truly felt that my anger was pushing me to behave in ways that I knew would provoke her. I couldn’t stand toe to toe with her, but I knew exactly how to piss her off. I wanted to make her angry, to disrupt what she was doing in her life, to hurt her like she was hurting us.

My dad showed up and my mom told him that everything was fine. I didn’t say anything. I knew that I had to stay there the rest of the school year, but I knew I would not be in that same school the next year. I had begun working my master plan. Soon I would be free soon I would do only what I wanted to and only when I wanted! I was almost grown.

That summer before eleventh grade I went to visit my dad and didn’t return to my mom’s house…

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