I learned that I had to stand on my own two feet and take responsibility for myself when I realized the reality and truth of my life.The growth and change within my physical and mental ability have been drastic. From childhood to soon adulthood, I can honestly say that those movies on lifetime television have nothing on me and my story.So, let's start from the beginning.
I was born on December 31, 1999, at 11:59. Which makes me the last baby born in the 90's in Culpeper,VA. A boy beat me by one minute being the first baby of 2000. I was named after my pawpaws mother and my aunt.
I was a little different though when it came to personality, you could catch me wrestling with my brother or most often spending time with my pawpaw. My mom used to tell me stories about me when I was younger and my favorite one was the time we lived in Florida and I was 5 years old. The family was going to Disneyland that day and my mom was trying to get stuff packed up but I was having a rough morning. My mom told me that if I didn't tie my shoes she was leaving without me. Now, obviously she was joking but at five years old, I took her very seriously and missing out on Disney would be devastating. So, I did what anyone would do in an emergency, I called 911. When the lady answered I got scared and hung up. Next thing I knew the doorbell rang and my mom were in shock to see a police officer telling her someone had called. I ran to the officer and held out my foot and I said" Mommy said I had to stay home if I couldn't tie my shoes , can you please help me?" My mom said she laughed so hard she couldn't be mad. I had a great day at Disneyland, though.
I was the last of four kids. I have a brother;Jordan and two sisters; Carley and Courtlynn. My mom was a single mom when I was growing up. My siblings and I relied on her and my pawpaw a lot because our dad was not around. I learned that I had the different dad than my other siblings and that he had been trying to contact me. Soon enough I was seeing him on the weekends and my mom on the weeks. I was content with life.
When I was seven years old, I waited for my mom to pick me up from my dad's like any other weekend. My mother never came back for me. Days, weeks, and months passed quickly and I came to the conclusion that my mom didn't want me anymore. I had no idea why and I asked myself that multiple times. I still do to this day. After almost a year passed, my mom called me and said she was taking me to a doctor's appointment. I was so excited to see my mom. Until when I did she told me she was getting married to a man who has three other kids. He had a girl younger than me which made her the new baby. I was broken. My mom had left for no reason and came back with another life.
I missed my siblings so much. I especially missed Carley. She and I have always been close and I couldn't wait to see her, but Carley was different. Carley had gotten into drugs and started doing bad things. Did I wonder why? As I got older, I was informed that our brother Jordan had sexually touched Carley and us when we were young. Carley came out about it and my mother defended Jordan. Carley was heartbroken and in pain. She couldn't believe that anybody protected us. She made bad choices after that. I had her back as much as a 12-year-old could. My mom, however, she still wasn't around. She stopped talking to me and we began only talking if talking was arguing. She believes I was a "one-night stand mistake". After being told that from my own mother. I believed it. All I had left was my pawpaw. I had my dad,well for awhile I had my dad. My dad became very angry and sick. He and I grew into an unhealthy relationship and soon turned to physical abuse.
When school started for me I was super excited to be riding the big yellow bus with my siblings. I loved school and I loved going to music and gym class. In 5th grade, I was introduced to the sport that I have fallen in love with. Softball. I remember when we played for the first time and when I hit the ball and ran around the triangle rubber bases and scored,I knew from that little 45 minute game what I wanted to play when I grew up.
I remember the night when my mom, siblings, and pawpaw were all in my living room and I told them about being the next big softball player and my first real game was in a few days. My pawpaw nicknamed me Bulldozer when I was younger and the day of my first game he came with a bright red shirt that had Bulldozer written on the back. I can still hear the screaming of "GO little Paigee GO" from my mom. They were so proud of me.
Elementary school is where I found out more about myself than just softball. I was really into English and writing. My SOLs showed that I was excelling. When we started writing stories I remember how excited I got to come up with something and write whatever I wanted to. I fell in love without loud reading. I would be one of the first volunteers to read in class. I also learned I hated math and history. Although in elementary school the subject was easy, I was always confused by everything involving dates and numbers. I dreaded math class every day.
When I was in 5th grade, my teacher had to choose 5 students to leave class and go read to the special education class at the school. We had one week to prove to her who she should choose. I worked by butt off. I remember trying to beat everyone's AR scores and volunteer as much as possible in class. My work paid off and I got chose to go read to the students for 30 minutes every day. It was my absolute favorite experience of elementary school.
Although the elementary school was the first social experience for me, it was also one of the hardest. I switched schools a lot through this time period. I had been to two schools in Culpeper, one school in Madison and even one in Florida. Moving schools so much while I was young was hard because I was never able to stay in one place with the same environment. It caused problems with me because as I moved schools my classes would be in different units than the one before. For example, I remember moving from Madison to Culpeper and being completely confused because the new class was learning something that we had never learned in my old one. It caused me to be behind and affected me in a horrible way.
The hardest years for me have been 6th grade to this very day. When I started middle school I was living with my dad. At this time my mother was absent from my life and only called or texted if I did something wrong. I remember getting upset with a teacher during class and I received a referral. Since my mother had all rights to me anytime the school needed to contact a parent she would be the one they would call. She would call to tell me things like " You will never become anything in life because you are so damn stupid, You are just like your sister Carley". While I never took offense to being compared to Carley, it hurt me extremely for her to bash my sister. I never wanted to believe the things she said, and as I write this, I see I never wanted to accept that my mother was in the wrong. I placed blame upon myself. In 6th grade, at 11 years old, I would sit in my chair in all my classes and attempt to analyze the 11 years I have been alive. I did this because I wanted so badly to understand why my mother chose to do this. Why she had chosen me. Out of all her children, it was me. Although she wasn't fond of Carley, she still kept her around, and she still loved her. That 6th-grade referral is where everything began but certainly did not end.
As I got older, things I didn't understand before became a little clearer. School got harder and math got more confusing. I stopped moving after living with my dad and I was happy to stay in my group of friends for awhile. I ended up in the group of kids who were athletes and popular in school. I was a part of that stupid group of two other girls that everyone wanted to be friends with. There was Lauryn, she was the pretty and the smart one, but Lauryn tended to start things and blame other people. There was Kylie, Kylie was beautiful but she was into boys a lot which tended to get her in trouble and have a bad name for herself. Then there was me, I was the fighter. I started fighting any girl, anytime, I felt I needed to. If there was a problem, I would be the one people came to in order to confront it. People were scared of me. At the time, I never really saw myself like that, and I wish I wouldn't have been that girl. I was so full of hate and I was so upset about life that I guess I never really saw who I was becoming.
Being a part of that group wasn't the end of what middle school brought to the table. The last two years of middle school is where I hit rock bottom. I say this because 7th grade gave me no slack and when people said that 7th grade would be hard, they weren't lying. It came at me and it came with full intention to knock me off the little stability I had in me at 13 years old. The worst thing was on November 5th. I was in 7th grade and it was on a Wednesday, a school had been canceled due to snow and I was with my pawpaw. I spent most days with him still even though my mother wasn't around. I was going to my friend's house. I remember my pawpaw asking me to stay home and I told him I really wanted to go. Later that night at my friend's house at exactly 2:13 am, I woke up to at least 10 missed calls from my dad and a whole bunch of texts from all my friends and people that knew me. The texts all asked me things like "Are you okay?" or "I'm so sorry". I had no idea what was happening. I called my dad and he told me I needed to come to his house right now because something is going on. I went to wake my friend and her mom up but they were already up. I kept asking what was going on and the mother wouldn't answer me. She told us to get in the car so I did and as I waited for my friend to get in the car I saw her mother say something to her inside the house and my friend began to cry, and she ran out to me and hugged me all the way to my house . She said, "I can't be the one to break your heart". I had no idea what was happening. When I arrived home I found my dad in the basement on the phone with my mother. Hearing her voice coming through the phone made my heart feel like it dropped into my stomach. As I was waiting for my dad to tell me what was going on I was on Twitter; Twitter is where I saw a tweet from my brother, Jordan that said: " Pawpaw you were my hero R.I.P ". When I read that tweet, I filled with tears and when I looked up, I saw my dad staring at me with tearful eyes and the phone still to his ear. I threw my phone across the basement and watched it shatter into pieces. My throat was choked and my heart was slipping into my stomach. My pawpaw had asked me to stay home that night. I was stupid to go. He was healthy, he was dancing in the kitchen, he was cooking, he was taking me to church every Sunday, he called me every morning. He wasn't there to tell me he loved me and to keep my head up anymore, he was so proud of me, he was all I had in the world that I've always known and that hasn't left or hurt me. My life was over within hours.
My pawpaw passed away from Leukemia. He had been diagnosed months before his death and he knew he was dying soon but decided to keep it to himself. I was angry at him for not telling me because we told each other everything. I received a letter the day after his death. In that letter was the last words my pawpaw said to me. The letter said exactly this:
Bulldozer, I want to tell you how proud I am of who you are and the lady you will become. I have moved with my heavenly father now and I hope you understand that when I was diagnosed that was our heavenly father letting me know it's time to come home and I believe that it was meant for me to pass away. I chose to not tell you because the days of life I had left on earth with you, I want to be the most beautiful and meaningful days. The little girl with blue eyes and blonde hair with a big smile is the little girl that you will always be, even if your heart is hurting and I believe that is the most beautiful and meaningful thing about the past 13 years of my life with you. I love you and I believe one day your story will be as great as you make it and no matter who pushes you down, you will stand up strong because that's how bulldozers make it through. I love you and I will see you again one day. I am watching over you.
Just like that, it was over.
After the death of my pawpaw, I was faced with the stress of being in 8th grade wondering if I would even pass. I couldn't concentrate in school and the work was hard. It didn't help that every day after November 5th, I decided to act like a fool and get in trouble. If I wasn't skipping school or suspended, I was in school detention. I was fighting and arguing with anyone over anything. My dad's physical emotions got harder and as I got into partying, the stress of coming home to an abusive parent wasn't worth it. After 9th grade, I decided that even though my mother didn't want me around, I was gonna stay there as much as possible because I was tired of fighting girls in school and coming home to fight my dad sober. At least at my moms, I could mask the feelings behind drugs and alcohol. I started using and selling at the age of 15.
Around 10th grade, After being softball captain for two years I had become what I never wanted to be. I was partying, I was mean, I made bad choices. High school was tough for me my freshman and sophomore year. I was failing and not coming to school. I didn't care anymore. I figured that I wouldn't amount to anything. The school was pointless. I mean school add some positive things, though, I played softball as captain, I was homecoming princess my sophomore year and I went to prom my sophomore year. The years weren't so bad but the timing was.
On my birthday, December 31, 2016, my mother's house was raided from a warrant out for Carley and a complaint on a party. This night, I was with my boyfriend and when my sisters called to say they were throwing another party, something had told me not to go. They were angry and upset that I wouldn't come party that night. I had never turned down a party. After the party was busted, I got a phone call from my sister telling me everyone was in trouble. I came home the next morning to an angry family, angrier than usually. They believed I ratted the party out. My mother and sisters along with the druggy men who came in and out were ready to kill me for thinking I brought the cops there. I was faced with going back to a home where there was physical abuse or staying in a home that may kill me. I was lost and I was faced with a hard choice.
I was done fighting. I was ready to be safe and to do the right thing. I had been raising myself for 16 years, and for the last year, I had been taking care of my little sister,too. I realized on New Year's Eve morning the type of life that was ahead for me. I didn't go back to my father's. I didn't go back to my mother's. I fought my gut feeling hard before going with what my heart told me to do. I reported my parents. I was then placed in foster care and a safety watch for 48 hours. After multiple court dates, and struggles and tears, I won my case and my parents were found unfit.
I had beaten the odds and I, at 16 years old fought and won. That day I felt I made my mark on life. I did the unthinkable. I got a tattoo that very day that says " I am the hero of my story 2/5/16" because that day my life changed forever.
On? ?January? ?5, 2016, ? ?A? ?family? ?was? ?given? ?custody? ?of? ?me? ?and? ?to? ?this? ?day,? ?I? ?have? ?moved
schools? ?and? ?my? ?grades? ?have? ?improved.? ?I? ?have? ?been? ?clean? ?and? ?have? ?gotten? ?in? ?no? ?trouble? ?for? ?almost 9? ?months? ?now.? ?My? ?mother? ?still? ?does? ?not? ?wish? ?to? ?talk? ?or? ?claim? ?me.? ?I? ?have? ?not? ?been? ?allowed? ?to? ?talk? ?to my? ?little? ?sister? ?and? ?I? ?have? ?heard? ?nothing? ?on? ?Carley? ?for? ?almost? ?6? ?months.? ?My? ?dad? ?chose? ?to? ?take counseling? ?and? ?our ?relationship? ?is? ?getting? ?better.? ? ?I? ?do? ?not? ?wish? ?to? ?know? ?my? ?birth father,? ?but it's? ?my? ?hopes ?that? ?I? ?received? ?his? ?good? ?heart? ?and? ?that? ?he? ?is? ?okay.? ?I? ?went? ?through? ?hell? ?from 6th? ?grade? ?until? ?this? ?very? ?word? ?you? ?are? ?reading? ?and? ?I? ?can't? ?be? ?more? ?proud? ?to? ?look? ?up? ?at? ?night? ?and have? ?hopes? ?of? ?how? ?proud? ?my? ?pawpaw? ?is? ?of? ?me.?
When I think of what the future may hold for me, I come to a blank. I guess I have never really thought about how life can change later. If you want me to be brutally honest, I am scared. I'm actually terrified, My life in general, so far, has been hard on me. I have made bad choices, I have done bad things, My future is all I have left to change the cycle of my family. I have set goals for myself in order to change the cycle of bad habits.
My goals are to finish high school, advance to college to major in Sociology and minor in Psychology. I want to become an advocate for children, possibly becoming a children's and teens counselor or lawyer. I am currently looking at Boston University. After college, I want to begin working and starting a family one day. I want my children to know the importance of life and have a strong family relationship.
As I grow, my life I know will never get easier. I have grown to accept that I have been given a life like mine to be given the talent to help others by my experiences. My life is often something you hear about, but do not see. Something you wonder, but do not ask. Something that breaks you but you must not fall. Something that distracts you from thinking about the future. My whole life I have asked myself "How much more can I handle?" But now when that comes to my head, I also ask myself "How much have I already made it through?" By that question, I am able to remind myself that my life is crazy, it is sad, it is hard, but this far from ordinary life of mine, has had and will continue to have, an extraordinary effect on my life, and hopefully others as well.
Now I know and believe that I am smart, I will be okay, I will become something bigger than expected, I will forgive and I will learn because I am not a mistake. I was meant for something. I am meant to write this essay for you to read. I am me and I am strong. I am the hero of my story.