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A Long Journey Of Gaining Self Respect

By , Fairport, NY
Have you ever felt so low in life, that you didn’t even know where to start to get back up, to be who you know you once were? I was there, for a really hard and long time; just stuck, and thrown down by another person constantly, everyday.

No one has been inside my head to feel what I’m feeling, to hear what I’m hearing and to see what I’m seeing. I have never been able to share what it was I went through, what it was I felt everyday living with her. Her, that’s my Aunt; she’s my dad’s sister, who I lived with for five years. Those five years were hard, probably the hardest time of my life, and I would say I’ve been through a good amount of hard times in my life. Now, don’t get me wrong, my aunt did a lot of nice things for me; she provided me with a home, food, music lessons, and some other extra things that really were great and I appreciate them a lot. The part that wasn’t okay was what she couldn’t buy me.

This is the first time I’m going to get this all out, the way I want it, without being afraid, I’m finally ready to do it.

Before I fully start to tell my story, I have to tell you a little bit of background, as to why I moved in with my aunt when I was ten, the summer going into 6th grade. I only lived with my parents for five years of my life, age 0 – 5. My mom passed away the month after my fifth birthday, in October. I lived with my dad for a few months after that, but it wasn’t exactly working out. We jumped around from apartment to apartment, at times, living with people I didn’t know, and at one point, I missed a good chunk of kindergarten, because my dad wasn’t responsible enough to take me, and nobody knew where I was. One day my dad made probably the best decision he’s ever made in his life; he dropped me off at my grandparent’s house (his father and step-mom). They had no idea I was coming , and I remember the look on their faces when I walked in. They were happy to see me, but had no idea why I was there, and were quite confused. A few days passed by, of sleeping on the couch in their room, that was just the perfect size for my little 5 year old body to sleep on. Then a few weeks passed, and finally we got a call. My dad was in prison.

This wasn’t his first time in prison; he had been in and out of jail since he was 16, but it was the first time in my life, that my dad went to that awful place. For the next 5 and a half years of my life, at my grandparents, it was constant visits to prison, broken promises and unreliable explanations. I loved my dad, so much, all I wanted was to be with him all the time, I wanted him to take me out when he wasn’t in jail, and I wanted to visit him when he was there. He had a problem though, one that still lingers in his life, whether he believes it or not. Drugs, cocaine to be exact. He’s clean now, but he just got out of a 4 year prison sentence about a year and a half ago. If he goes back again it could be for life, because they are done with his games, at this point.

When I was 10, the June before my 11th birthday, which was in September, my Grandpa got diagnosed with prostate cancer, and my grandparents realized they weren’t fit to take care of a child who in a few years would be a teenager. So, before anyone realized my aunt was crazy, they handed over custody to her. I was now hers. As soon as the papers were signed, she cut off all connection to any of my family, she got in a fight with my grandma, who was one of the most important people to me in my life, and just stole me from her and my grandpa’s lives.

My aunts control problem kicked in right away. I lost 25 pounds that summer due to a diet plan my aunt put me on immediately upon moving in. I was a little chubby, so a diet plan was understandable for my health, but it didn’t just stop at those 25 pounds. Soon, what I ate was being monitored, if a friend came over and we would make pop corn, I would get scolded for taking another handful. If I went on a trip to visit family, without my aunt, as soon as I came back, the first thing my aunt was concerned about was getting me on the scale to check my weight. This became a pattern, and soon I just got depressed and started binging, which led to an eating disorder; bulimia. I suffered with bulimia all through 7th and 8th grade; it was the only sort of control I felt I had over anything in my life.

My weight was only the first thing my aunt started controlling; she has a problem with control and as soon as I moved in, I became her object to control. We had cameras in our house, not for security; we lived in an extremely safe neighborhood. These cameras were put there to watch me, because she didn’t “trust me”, even though I gave her no reason not to trust me. I learned after I moved out that the computer had a program on it that read everything I typed into the computer. That meant she had every one of my passwords and also could read all my personal Facebook conversations. I felt as though I was trapped without any way to express myself.

I started writing to get out my feelings; I had a passion for writing poetry, and it was something I felt was all mine. It was something I only shared with certain people, so it was a very important and private thing for me. It was a routine I had gotten into, every time I felt low or like I couldn’t really deal with what was going on; I would escape into my poetry and write until I couldn’t write anymore. It was a great routine, until in ninth grade my aunt took my poetry book and scanned all of my poems. I stopped writing completely, and I haven’t written a thing since.

I know I’m only 16, but after having been through the various situations that I have, I think I can honestly say that one of the hardest things, with some extremely negative effects on one’s life, would be having a bad home life. It sucks. I had someone on my back everyday either telling me I needed to lose more weight, or that I need medication or that I’m a s***. I felt worthless a majority of the time and soon I got really depressed. The hurtful words she said to me were like food, fed to me every day, words that quickly sunk into my system, and became who I thought I was. I hated myself and now I look back on it, and wonder if that was really me because it’s hard to imagine myself so dark, and lifeless.

I wasn’t crazy, I felt like I was, I was forced on medication, I didn’t want to take it, so I didn’t. My aunt wanted me on Prozac, for God-knows what reason. She took those scanned poems and sent them to a psychiatrist, and took me to see that psychiatrist to prescribe medication. He told my aunt that it was my decision, and he didn’t think I needed it, that I was simply a teenager, with regular teenage emotions. Since I thought it was my decision I told him I didn’t want to go on it, but instead of getting what I wanted, I got grounded. I was then taken to another psychiatrist, who, with no questions or any hesitation wrote a prescription for 30 mg of Prozac, which is a medication that can help with depression, OCD, anxiety, and a few other things. As far as my aunt’s concerned that medication was the answer; she honestly believed it did wonders! The funny part: I didn’t once take it, so it was all her imagination. She didn’t know anything about me considering that was actually an all-time low for me; I was self mutilating because I felt I had no one to talk to and nowhere to turn. I wanted to scream at her and tell her I never took one pill, and show her my pain, what I was doing, but I couldn’t and it killed me to know that she just thought of me as reliant on medication, but really I just needed to talk to her.

After the “medication”, things may have gotten better for her, but not for me. She always said to me “We didn’t have to take you, we could send you to foster care or with your dad anytime”. When she said that to me, which was often, it was like someone was stabbing me in the gut. I’d go to my room, hate myself and cry, until there were no more tears to come out. Even though she hurt me, I loved my aunt, so when she said those things it made me feel so disgusting inside, that I wanted to throw up. One day 5 months ago on Sunday November 13th, she said it again, and I was done, I said “Okay”, in response. So she gave me 15 minutes to pack my “s***” in trash bags, and get it in the car. She called my dad, drove half way to Rochester and dropped me off at some rest stop, where my dad and step mom met us.

That was the day that I gained back some self respect, and realized that I deserve better for myself. I left that house, and with it I left the weight that I carried around with me, all the hurt, pain, and depression sawed off along with the chain I carried around on my foot. I left behind the person, who I was sure was not the real me. I left that house with a desire for the future, and now I’m living that future with a positive outlook. Life is hard enough for everyone; no one needs someone to degrade them, especially not to the degree that my aunt did me. Even though those years were extremely hard, I’m learning to move on, and I believe it was all just an experience to make me stronger, and help me grow into the best person I can be, instead of who I was.





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