If It Were Easy.
Elsie's Smile“If it were easy it wouldn’t be so special.”
The words rode into my ears and hit my consciousness so hard, that I almost collapsed and fell backwards in my seat. That’s when it hit me that life is truly a mountain and it’s your opportunity to take the steps to climb. At first, its steep and the climbs unsteady but the end result is so incredible.
Life has always been something that people take for granted. They sit around, empty out their pockets and realize that they only have 27 cents and a bundle of pocket lint left to their name. That’s the way things used to be. My family used to live paycheck to paycheck. Money wasn’t something we were familiar with and was spent within seconds of having it.
My mother was a drug addict and at first it started with her popping’ pain-killers. She wanted to numb herself from the outside world. Her addiction quickly progressed and she felt like she couldn’t function while being sober and experienced with drugs like meth, heroin, and as a back up plan, alcohol. Her life has always been a struggle. The pain of her past was ignited in her eyes and you could feel it by the desperate tone in her voice when she told us kids that she loved us. Her loneliness was leaving her caved in a world full of corruption and chaos.
Of course she wanted us to love her too. Even after all the things that resulted in us kids having no food or heat, she wanted us to know that she is struggling. That she’s been hurting her whole life and abuse can really tear a person up emotionally.
My father was never kind to her. Perhaps you could say he was an addict as well. His addictions of choice were bottles of Tequila and anger. He’d thrash out everything would set him off. The result was always name calling that could be heard from the neighbors that lived down the street, voice competitions were a common thing with him. He was the best. Often, fists were thrown and tears were always a sign of defeat.
Well, my journey of life has only begun and my very first lesson of the never -ending journey began at the young age of six. This was that bad things happened and we have to learn to accept the challenging obstacles that were ahead of us. A lot of negative things have happened to be and helped me become the person I am today.
Finally, at seventeen I’m ready to expose my personal feelings, memories that I never thought I’d capture whether they be good or bad, my hopes and dreams and finally everything that I’ve ever wanted to be. I’m going to tell my story to the world and I hope you will read it and be inspired. For everything that has happened to me already, it has made me extremely grateful for every single incident that has spontaneously occurred. I learned quickly to take every opportunity even if it means falling on my ass and having nobody there to fall back on. I’ve had to tackle a lot of things in my life that I thought were normal in every household, but frankly it only occurred in mine the way I was treated was not normal.
I wanted to be exactly like my parents. I was determined to. I had to. It was just something I felt. At times, I believe this was the beginning of my addictions.
A main memory that I have grown fond with, was sitting on the couch playing with the brand new Polly Pocket Dolls that my grandparents had given my younger sister and I for having good grades in school. I was incredibly happy. The toy had detachable arms that could be removed for the placement of rubber clothing that had designs on the front. This particular outfit that I was about to place on my Polly was an electric blue halter top that had a yellow hippy like flower plastered in the center with the words “Polly Word” neatly etched in the middle. I pulled it over the tiny trinkets head and adjusted it to my liking. Her pants were a bright orange and the detachable green wedged flip-flops topped the outfit off.
I was completely obsessed with the feeling of reward that has been given as a result of dedication, hard work, and positive attitude. Granted, I was in the 5th grade and that was when the ultimate learning process began. I figured being rewarded with items and toys, or letters from teachers discussing my positive behavior and outstanding poems and short stories that I should always get rewarded. With either money or more Polly Pockets to add to my collection that was growing productively large. I was addicted to the reward of success. You can call it good—or you can call it bad, but that hard shiny Polly Pocket doll, without realizing it, was an item that will stay symbolized in my mind for the rest of my life. It showed me that if things were easy, it wouldn’t be so special.
Although my parents were divorced by the time I was six years old I was always taught to be friendly to people you didn’t know. It was a rule my mother was always strict on. She wanted me to be raised as a respectable young lady that had manors and always said her P’s &Q’s. Things were hard at home, but the way people viewed you on the outside, was always important.
My mother was a wonderful woman when she was sober. She would take me to the park, and our favorite thing to do was kick our feet up and dangle for a second, until I’d beg her to push me under-dog-style. She told me yes every time, because she could see the happiness in my eyes when I was on that swing set. I felt like I could fly. She told me that she had hope for my future. She knew I’d make something of myself. As much as she regrets the way things were, she understands that she helped me grow into a person that has helped me reach the things that I’ve had my mind set on as long as I could remember. My mother was very encouraging, on everything I wanted to do. She never said she was proud of me though, she didn’t have to. The genuine smile across her heart-shaped face brought the sparkle to her almond shaped, hazel eyes.
She’d continuously tell me that love was the best feeling in the world. That it was blind and you don’t really know what you have until its gone. She was a strong believer that all men were douche bags. Her heart was broken so many times that she eventually started jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend and lived unhappy while trying to mend the pieces that were missing for years.
Out of know where my mother picked up my chin and whispered,
“Love is something that makes a person feel like your floating on a cloud. Like you’re on top of the world, looking down on tiny specs in the distance, but you have to take time for the right boy to come and take your breath away. I don’t want you fearing love or taking it and making it an obsession.” The words were so elegant and smooth as they floated off her butterfly lips. She kissed me on my rosy pink cheeks and tousled my hair. Then I noticed she was crying.
I crawled up into her lap and told my aching mother “Mommy, if things were easy they wouldn’t be special.”
My mom collapsed at this moment and her cry turned into sobs as we just lay there holding each other. Knowing that both of us were tormented in pain. That moment was the first bonding experience with my mother that I’ve ever had. To this day, it’s the one I remember most vividly. It has to be one of the ones I cherish dearly.
I could see that she was dwelling on the past. Her past was destroying the way she viewed the world and every single person that entered her life. She wanted to lock me up and cage me from the dangers of the outside world. But instead, she took a leap of faith and let me make my own mistakes. I learned from them and it helped me see that it was her way of showing me she cared. In her own secretive way.
My mothers drug problem eat her away and over the time she decided it was time to place herself in a treatment center. So she could give Madelyne and myself the childhood that we deserved. She admitted herself to a treatment facility in Waverly, Minnesota. A few months after she was in a halfway house that over looked the lake. At this time, I was living with my father we resided in a small town in southern Minnesota. The town was dinky and had nothing but a bar and a school. The town itself was big on sports, hunting, farming, and of course if you were of age, drinking.
With the town being so small it was easy to get your hand on a bottle of Brandy if your willing to rake the neighbors yard and in exchange they’d give you a bottle of booz, and some money depending on how big the yard was. This was something the older kids would do on the weekends. They were always discussing how much fun they had and all the crazy things they did. I was twelve years old and I wanted nothing more than to wrap my fingers around the smooth glass bottle, lock my lips around the opening and take a swig.
With my mother in treatment and nobody to talk to, my head was filled with multiple emotions. I figured hey mom did it, dad did it. Why can’t I? I went to bed that night with a plan that started addiction number two. Alcohol, which would be the cure to all of my problems. In my mind, the smooth- bottle placed in my palms was my way of showing the world that I can be a rebel too. I was ready for the thrill. The excitement of danger made me want to escape in the lonely world of an alcoholic and I was about to get caught up in something that would ultimately make me hate the image of myself.
The next morning I woke up, combed my hair and brushed my teeth. My plan was deeply embedded in my mind. I was on a mission. Luckily, it was a Saturday so I didn’t have school. But knowing what I was doing tonight, I called up a boy who was two grades above me. He had called me cute over MySpace. MySpace was a social network that was for the computer. It was popular from the times I was eleven until I was 14. You could customize your background, have songs on your profile and if you knew the correct HTML codes you could change the color, size position of lettering, underlined, strike through or pretty much anything you wanted, you could do. I was extremely interested in graphic design at this time so I’d sit on the computer for hours on MySpace finding the best backgrounds and songs that would express my mood that day. My about me was neatly organized and the alignment was placed perfectly in the center.
At this age I was obsessed with all kinds of music. I was into the genre that many people would call noise, or as my grandmother would call it, “The devils music.” I’d listen to music that consisted of the bands, Asking Alexandria, Chiodos , A Day To Remember, Breaking Benjamin and a wide variety of different genres of music that took up a large amount of memory on my computer.
On my MySpace playlist, I always had to have the best. The first song on the playlist had to fit my mood. It would also have to be memorable because it would automatically play when viewing my page. Ghetto Cowboy by Bone Thugs and harmony was the song I remember having up. My mom played this song a lot. She told me
“Even though the song has a bad meaning it has a very good story outline, and you can picture everything like a book. But with rhythm and more compassion for what they do.”
Everything that night, was organized perfectly. Kyler said that we could drink at his place tonight as long as I brought the booz. He was currently living with his best friend, while both his parents were in jail for reasons he didn’t want to discuss. But I understood. My family was broken and nobody knew it because I hid it so well. Kyler was the first person I told about my mom being in treatment. We were never to discuss it at my dads house because he absolutely despised my mother. He hated every little thing about her and when her name was mentioned in a conversation he’d go on a rampage.
Disguised by the anger and the hurtful words, you could see that my dad wished his life had turned out differently. He had been married three times during his 39 years of life. The first was Rebecca and she was around long before my mother. Together, they had two boys. Juston, age ten and Elijah age seven. They were the best siblings I could ever possibly hope for, but I didn’t meet either of them until I turned 13 years old.
By the time my mom and dad married the boys were rambunxious and anxious to get into more trouble. My mom was so thrilled. She was excited to be a stepmother to two young boys, no matter how challenging it may be. She raised them as her own, until Rebecca took the responsibility of her children, and moved to North Dakota. My mother was still in high school and by the time she was 17, she was married to my dad. She was ready to start her life, she was always spontaneous which made it all the more exciting and romantic. She had recently discovered that she was pregnant with me, and automatically she knew I was a girl. She was obsessed with the name Cree Summer, but because my dad didn’t like it, It was now Courtney. To this day, she’ll look at me and call me Cree and I don’t mind.
My mom went to school to become a nurse. On the side, she was taking care of my grandfather who was paralyzed from the waist down. His transportation was his wheel chair. Which was actually very fun to mess around with. When he would go to bed, us grandkids would do wheelies into each other crashing into one another pretending we were transformers. It always resulted in Great Grandma hooting’ and hollering’ at the top of her lungs. She giggled so lightly and you could see the years of wisdom that were hidden underneath the wrinkles that were evenly displayed on her fragile feature. My mother was taking care of my grandparents daily. To her it was as easy as drinking water and you could tell, that my mom loved them.
Around the time I turned three my father started acting strange. He’d come home late hours of the night his entire complexion showed that he was out of his mind, wasted. He smiled a malicious smile and stumbled his way up the stairs in his drunken stupor and you wouldn’t know what to expect. Some days all you needed to hear was the flick of his Zippo lighter and a loud thud which was the noise of the couch clanking against the wall, and he’d be out.
But the days he came home angry, were the days I’d purposely be in my bedroom headphones plugged in, and blankets over my head. Most days, it wasn’t that simple. He’d come into the bedroom and tell me he was proud of me, and hopes that I didn’t turn out to be a ‘slut’ like my mother. That hurt. I didn’t know what the word was, but at three years old I knew it was wrong of him to be talking about my mother like that. At this time, my mom wasn’t using drugs and was completely sober.
My father would pin me up to the wall and tell me that I’m a spitting image of my mom. That I was a worthless piece of s***, and id end up exactly like my mother by the time I was a teenager. Being so young, back talk was a must and without the effort, I’d tell him off in the way I thought was clever. But, as a result I sounded like some cheesy cloche line that only pissed dad off more. Who knew saying
“You suck, mom’s so much better than you” would make a man so angry that he’d pick up the closest object next to him and beat his 3 year old daughter with it. The items varied, and were never the same. This time it was my CD player. He dragged me out of my bed, pinned me down to the ground and started hitting, and kicking me. I was immune to the pain by then, so the blows usually were equipped with more force. If I had cried, the blows would become harder, faster and I’d definitely be in pain. He was so well at hiding the bruises that nobody suspected it.
When Kyler told me that he could see the pain in my eyes it made me think that for once, I’d finally have a friend that could relate to the events that happened in my passed. I felt wonderful. So I was eager to experience something I’ve never done. The booz was my plan to escape even if it were for only a couple of hours.
My neighbor Elsie was a petite old lady that loved company and appreciated help around the yard. I spent 45 minutes raking the yard, and I left the leaves in a giant pile along the side of the walkway. She was so kind and genuine. Her life was successful and for a moment I envied her. Then I caught a hold of my emotions and realized she has years of wisdom and knowledge. She’s probably seen and gone through so much. I wondered what it was like for her as a child. Were things difficult? Was money well known? Was fighting normal? It was something in this woman’s eyes that told me she was lonely. I offered to come and keep her company.
I sat on an old antique chair that had a quilt with cows jumping over moons as a pattern. The more I looked around, the more I noticed that she collected miscellaneous items. She had shelves upon shelves that indicated these items meant something to her. I came across a mound of rock hard clay which was hand crafted into a Turtle. There was a name on the bottom and a date that it was made. It “Eliza J. 1960” The eyes were marbles the color of green and the Schell was a bright red with signatures in each square from inspirational people she’s met throughout her life. IT was so beautiful. I couldn’t help myself but to stare at this item.
It was obviously hand crafted because the glaze looked like it had been heated up in a kiln. On the left side there was a section that looked like it had been a compartment to hold something. I gently placed my fingers along the edge of what looked like a drawer. I pulled it softly and noticed that in the small compact area there were years upon memories. The turtle shell was a hidden chamber of secrets that this woman has held onto for nearly her entire life. There were poems, pictures, concert tickets, drive thru- movie tickets, and a golden locket that was heart shaped and fit perfectly inside my palm. There was a quote on the inside “If it were easy it wouldn’t be so special.”
Instantly I had tears flushing town my cheeks and I recognized the quote from when I was a child. I fell in love with the locket immediately. The quote had so much meaning behind it for being only 8 words. But those 8 words will be engraved in my tombstone and I will be recognized for actually having a dream and accomplishing it.
Elsie looked at me, and had asked me what was wrong. I told her
“ I’m not crying because I’m sad. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful before in my life. The quote was something I told my mother when I was younger and it made me realize that I’ll have to work my way up..”
I kept my eyes aimed directly at my feet. I was afraid if we made eye contact shed feel sorry. But after moments of silence she managed to say
“Life’s beautiful, you know. It is a process that can really boggle a persons brain and perspective on their surroundings. Everyone’s view is different, But I promise you life will be rewarding after all your struggling and pain have faded. It may seem like light-years away, but don’t rush growing up. Because time flies by faster than you think.”
She placed her hand on my shoulder and sat down in the old antique chair. Her ability to make my sad and depressed mood vanish in a matter of seconds showed me that she had a passion for people.
“You can keep the turtle if you want.” She definitely knew I was interested.
Looking at the turtle with hidden memories and the slender locket in the palm of my hands , I knew I couldn’t take away this women’s life. It obviously meant a lot to her. I put the locket back into the compartment and placed the turtle on her lap. I told her that no matter what happened during your life things always happened for a reason, and that she was an amazing person. With that, I was on my way with two bottles of brandy. I was already throwing my life to s***, if I was walking across town to get drunk.
I felt loved as a child I did. I don’t want my mom to feel guilty about the events that are still to this day, drilled in my mind, because they were memories. Memories that made me look at things in many perspectives. I got all sides of the story. I saw the struggle of a woman who was a victim of abuse, and developed a habit. I watched a man shut everyone out of his life completely and pushed the ones that loved him. I threw myself away at the age of 12.
Its been a month since the incident with Kyler. Boy, let me tell you. He definitely makes sure that I don’t forget what happened that night. He even got the whole school calling me fat, and told me that I had to “catch-up” with my experience level. What ever that meant. After lunch that day I forced myself to throw up the food that I had consumed just moments before. If people were calling me fat they’re had to be a reason, correct? All I know is that I’ve watched my mother forcefully jam her fingers in the back of her throat until she vomited in the toilet. She told me it would help her loose weight from all the booz that she was drinking. I did it for months.
My counselor at school had noticed and forced me to come clean I told her I was bulimic and that some kids in school were bullying me because I was fat. She didn’t fully understand so I told her the incident that happened with kyler. She suggested that I press rape charges and go on trial. In all honesty, I didn’t want to go through the hassle and tell everyone what happened. I told her I’d be fine and that I promise I’d stop vomiting up my food. So, I did. She said nothing about starving myself. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for me anyways.
My counselor started to find out, because I wasn’t taking school lunches. I was placed in a hospital for teens with eating disorders. I was hooked up to a feeding tube that would help me get all my nutrients back. I was there for over three months and gained over 60 pounds. I guess weighing 75 pounds was bad.. I knew deep down inside that I wasn’t fat, but from here on out. I knew I was terrified of men and everything that they had to offer.