“What happens in this house, stays in this house.” Oh how those words still ring in my head. I am constantly reminded of them when I want to open up to someone, to trust, to heal, to let go. I grew up in what was referred to as the meth house on the hill and, unfortunately that wasn’t even the half of it.
I won’t get too graphic today because that’s not the point. The point is to give you hope and let you know, no matter what you’re going through, you can and will get through it.
*inhales deep breath, keeps writing*
My parents separated when I was in the second grade, I remember my mom slipping fast after that. She would sleep for days on end and then be up for days. Strangers traipsing in and out of our house, wasn’t out of the norm. I would wake up in the middle of the night and see a new person. Only to say, “hey how’s it going?” instead of a normal response…. You know, screaming, running, calling the police.
She was either blackout drunk, on drugs or sleeping. She would lock herself in her room for days too (I’m talking deadbolt lock, requiring a key). I remember some days I would grab my blanket and pillow and just lay outside of her door, crying to get in, crying to feel loved.
My brother and I would go days without eating or any parenting. She would force us to get up in the middle of the night to help with an “emergency” whether that was to hurry and clean (think maggots in the sinks, food and water all over the kitchen, removing carpet, working on paperwork). Some emergencies were to help scream and yell to get a stranger out of the house or to be there as she would choke and tackle people. I’ve heard and seen awful, unspeakable things that I haven’t talked about- even to this day. If we didn’t do what she said, we wouldn’t sleep anyway and the rest of the day(s) were miserable.
She would scream, throw things off our balcony, take down our doors, blast the music from 1am until 9 am. School night? It didn’t matter. Sense of time was just non-existent. And she always claimed to ‘not remember doing that to us’, then turn around and call us faggots, stupid bitch, slut, brat, ungrateful _____, you name it, she probably called me it. It felt impossible to stick up for myself.
Where was social services? Where was our dad? Why didn’t we get out of there sooner? Trust me, a lot of these questions run through my head too. But part had to do with it being normal to us, this was our lives, this was all we knew. Part of it was being brainwashed with guilt and her lies, or being threatened that my brother and I would be seperated. I remember a social worker coming into our house, I can still recall her name and the way she smelled. I had cleaned the house for the past three days by myself and she took a tour around, asking me a bunch of questions. I just lied and lied and lied… because I didn’t want my brother and me to be apart. I was afraid of what they would do to my Mom. Part of it was the courts giving mothers primary custody, just because they are the “mother.” Part of it was being scared to leave. There are a lot of parts to it, and in the end no one will really understand why we were living that way… for so, so long.
Here’s the thing about growing up abused or in an unhealthy environment, “you become dependent on it. It’s hard to get out.”
I can say I was very lucky, all things considered. After my mom convinced my brother he had a sleeping disorder and he didn’t go to school much past the 5th grade, I had to take on some roles that formed me in to the independent, strong person I am today. My role was to wake myself up, teach myself how to do laundry, make sure I did my homework, stay involved with sports. My role was to make us “appear” normal. That all the rumors and things being said around town, “weren’t true.” While my brother’s role was much different, and I cannot speak on his behalf. He was awake during the night and asleep during the day. He protected me from a lot of abuse and weird men. Sadly, because of this, most of our childhood wasn’t together. His stories and experiences with her were different than mine, his stories happened mostly in the dark.
I would like to add, that my mom wasn’t all bad. She was not one to lead by example but she was one to lead by telling us to do the right thing, to be a good person, to have values, to do better than she did. She had a sense of humor that could get any and everyone to laugh and no dream was ever too big. When she had her good hours, she made life fun and you could see how gentle her heart was, I still stand by that. She had the ability to talk to anyone in the world, and even having strangers around a lot, showed us to never judge someone. Some of those men, saved my life. Some of those men would cook me dinner and help clean the house. You can’t always judge someone before you get to know them. All of those traits helped me survive growing up in that house and eventually they gave me the strength to let go of my mom and start living a better life. I like to think I carry her good qualities around with me.
It’s been over five years since I’ve spoken to my mom. You may think what you want, but no one can tell me walking away from her was a good or bad thing. Just as no one should tell you how to live your life, only you know what feels right to you. Because in the end, she was endangering my life, her addictions were destroying my passion and joy, I was dying inside. I had to make a decision for myself and try to remember, you can only help someone who wants to be helped. After decades of trying to help her, I had to start helping myself.
I’ve since graduated college and moved to San Diego where I’ve made beautiful friends and a life I am proud of. I live a social, active, fun, creative and happy life and I try to inspire others to do the same. I am overcoming a life-altering injury and believe growing up with my mom helps give me the strength to beat the odds.
Both my brother and I have come so far since the house on the hill. Both of us are stronger and better people. He is my best friend but he is first and foremost a single father to a beautiful girl and self-taught photographer and videographer, who runs his own business and has traveled to many places around the world. He is a true inspiration.
I am also so lucky to have the support system I do and the opportunity to share part of my story, to hopefully show you; you can start over, you can live the life you want and you can choose to be stronger from all that has happened to you.
I’d love to hear your story or talk more. Please comment or DM me on Instagram @changebeautiful.
As you know, I avocad-ding luh you.