While this has been heavily edited due to recent circumstances, there may have been some skipped parts. I’m also no longer as optimistic as I was when I originally wrote this, which was in January 2014.
I’ve changed a lot in 23 years. I remember thinking age 30 was old, and now I just hope that I’ll be able to start a family by then. I also remember thinking that 20-somethings were just high school kids who still partied but knew everything about where they wanted to be and what they wanted to do, and that’s what I expected for myself to be by the time I hit that age.
I’ve spent a lot of time mad at myself in my life, regretting not speaking up sooner or trying to get out of that life — for being stupid and not realizing sooner that, after each hit, it wouldn’t be the last time and every time after that would be harder, stronger, faster and more frequent. I spent a lot of time wondering what could be so wrong in lard’s head that he can’t see that his form of punishment is, indeed, abuse, or why my mom is so desperate for his acceptance that she has to follow and believe whatever he says, even though when she was sane she knew he was in the wrong and wanted to leave him. I spent a lot of time caring for my siblings so much that I was willing to die if it meant they could be saved from the horrible life I lived through. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get emancipated at sixteen, even though I couldn’t drive or go to the classes, just so I could take my siblings with me and force my mom and lard to realize they needed help. Because they do need help. I spent a lot of time thinking about them — about everyone — and not enough time thinking about me. I never really thought much about how I changed and grew and matured as a person, even when little thoughts popped into my head. This epiphany is probably something family and others would be happy to know I’ve had, but for all the wrong reasons. They’re the wrong reasons because, although I’ve realized I didn’t think about the good things in myself, they only saw the aftermath of abuse as my flaws. I don’t live in the past or the future; I live in the present because anything more than making decisions as they come stresses me the hell out. I’ve always lived in the present, provided I could control my head. I have to know everything about a situation because I have to be able to determine what might come next, or at least be able to read a person. I rely on facts and statistics because they make things easier to predict, making my decisions easier to make.
I’ve realized that I am who I am because of what happened to me and that I’m a better person because of it.
- In middle school, I had friends from Mexico whose English was poor. I’d been raised to think and believe people who didn’t know English well were illiterate and below me, a natural-born American. After I moved in with my dad in 2007, I attended Trinity High School in Euless, which was extremely diverse. It was then that I learned and started to understand that I’d been taught wrong.
- In middle school, I’d read a Chicken Soup for the Soul story about how a teacher learned to see people as clear through one of her students. It inspired me so much that I began to see people that way. In ninth grade, I took Spanish II; the class had to do a movie-type project, and I was in a group of four. They came over because my mom had a video camera and all the tools for it. I was pulled aside by my mom and lard and asked a question that took me by surprise, “Do you know what color you are?” It was then that I learned racism was still a thing. And I was speechless. Because, although I was the only one with pale skin, I didn’t care about their color or what they looked like at all, as their personalities meant the most to me.
I’ve realized how ignorant I once was, and I’ve realized how different I am. I’ve realized I’ve got family members who find “the retarded voice of retarded people” as hilarious as a story of a horse getting its front hooves stuck in a child’s bed frame1, or possibly funnier, which made me appalled to be related to them.2 I’ve realized how I’ve changed for the better, and on a good day, I can accept that.