Note to Reader
This is a twelve month project which aims to bring to light the individual pain experienced by young women and to show how their unique stories make them who they are. We ask you to feel with an open heart and respect their stories.
I am 29 years old and I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Fl. My childhood I would describe as fairly normal, up until I was nine. I lived with my mom, my dad, and I had an older sister. Though, my grandparents on my mom’s side helped raise us a lot. My parents weren’t well off, where as my grandparents were. So they took charge a lot and we spent a great deal of time with them.
We lived out in the country bumpkin part of Jacksonville, so a lot of my childhood was spent playing outside. We were actually told to go outside and not come back for several hours. So it was the kind of dynamic where we rode bikes, played in the woods, and played with close neighborhood friends. It was pretty good. We always had shelter, we always had food.
Right now I am working as a mental health counselor and rewarding as it is, it is not what I dreamed of as a child. When I was a child, I was told I should be a teacher. So when I would play as a little girl, I would do just that and pretend I was a teacher. I would make up the lesson plans. I was always really creative at that and my parents would always reinforce it. But then when I started getting older, my biggest dream was to be a choreographer for hip hop. A lot of my teenage years were spent choreographing to music I liked. So for Brittany Spears and N-Sync, I would learn their dances and then I would change them. And I loved that! I always said that was my biggest dream!
But I think reality set in.
But I think reality set in. And to be a celebrity choreographer, you got to have….I don’t even know. I don’t even know how you would aspire to be that. So my dreams just evolved into a more realistic option I guess. I kind of wanted to give back to the mental health community what it had always given me…
I started in the mental health system when I was around 10 years old. I had a guardian ad litem I worked with that helped with all the chaos when my parents got divorced. I also did some counseling as well. So it was a field that I not only participated in but had appreciated for the sake of our family.
My parent's divorce greatly affected me.
My parent's divorce greatly affected me. I was nine. It greatly affected me because of a long term affair. So when it all came out about the affair, it broke both my parents to the point where they weren’t able to function, much less take care of us. It broke them so badly that it contributed to the height of their addiction to opiates and alcohol.
Divorce doesn’t affect you directly, it affects you indirectly by all the domino affects. Although it wasn’t me that was getting the divorce, the divorce affected me emotionally and distorted my world views. Looking back on it, it taught me that when people endure conflict, they run away from it and not to it. These are things embedded in me.
The long term affects are almost worse than the ones you immediately feel.
The long term affects are almost worse than the ones you immediately feel. That’s how bad they are. Because here I am, 29, never been married and probably will be so frightened up until the very moment because of the fear of what can happen and what does happen. Divorce has affected me so much; my beliefs, my value system, my emotions.
One of the top two experiences that come to mind when I think of pain; the first one would definitely be the divorce and then the weirdest thing happened. After my parents had separated, my grandfather died. He was the patriarch of our family and he died right in the midst of my family getting torn apart, literally. I was literally going back and forth between both parents which is why I had that guardian ad litem. My grandfather died in the midst of it all. He had a massive heart attack while working in North Carolina. So then there was the painful process of “how are we going to get his body back to FL?” Those are all feelings I remember. I was ten when he died. My dad was already in a dark place and my mom was in a weird place. It was really weird. Those are definitely the two most painful moments in my life.
If I had to talk about what losing my grandfather was like...my grandparents were like an extra set of parents. Instead of my mom taking us to the bus, my grandparents did. Instead of my mom picking us up from school, my grandparents did. They did all the stuff so that my parents could try to make ends meet, though they still needed help. So when I lost my grandfather is was like losing my second dad in a way. Because my dad was so sick at the time, losing my grandfather left me with no strong man to look up to, to receive comfort, protection, nothing. It was like both my dads died at the same time.
It was like both my dads died at the same time.
It was really weird. Having that absence in those prime developmental time periods, there was an emptiness and nothing could fill it up.