The Beginning of the Downfall
Growing up I was a very moody, sullen child. I’m not really sure what made me that way. I had very loving parents and a fantastic extended family. My brother was born in 1967 and my sister was born in 1974.
Growing up, I was quite mean to my brother, probably due to jealousy. After all, I was the only child for 4 years. I think I was disappointed in the fact he was younger than me as well. I wanted a big brother. When we would play together, I would be the boy and make him be the girl. I just remember wishing things were different. When my sister was born, I was 11 years old and she was like my little baby doll. We didn’t have much of a relationship in the beginning because of our age difference.
I was very sensitive when I was a girl. It didn’t take much to hurt my feelings. Every time somebody said something mean to me, a brick would go up around my heart. I was pretty reserved in relationships. I didn’t have a lot of friends, wasn’t ever popular, didn’t feel comfortable in large groups of people. I was and still am better in one on one relationships. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be popular or have lots of friends, I just couldn’t. The bricks around my heart kept me separate from people. I hated having my feelings hurt and the simplest way to avoid that was to avoid becoming friends with people.
I had a best friend when I was in fifth and sixth grade. Emilia was Portuguese. We met in fifth grade and we did everything together for 2 years. I was very jealous of her. I didn’t want her to be friends with anybody else. It was so hard for me to have friends that I felt threatened by my friends having other friends beside me. I don’t know where my insecurity originated.
When puberty came, things only got worse. Those were some of the hardest years of my life. I was quite sad. I didn’t like my appearance. I was too short, too fat, too angry looking (even though I wasn’t angry), too afraid. Girls in junior high threatened to beat me up for giving them dirty looks and I would walk home from school in fear almost everyday. Children are just naturally mean to each other and I didn’t find comfort from anyone, not even my parents.
In seventh grade, I tried to fit in by joining the cheerleading squad. I was accepted to the squad after trying out, but I had nothing in common with the other girls. I didn’t know how to behave in a large group and I was always uncomfortable. I always thought they didn’t like me, so I decided to not like them. When the time came to try out for cheerleading for the next school year, I wasn’t asked to return. Now I’m sure it was because of my rude behavior, then I figured it was because nobody liked me.
These were the years when my mother’s behavior toward me really changed. Suddenly, she was convinced I was lying to her about things. If she was mad at my dad, she was mad at me. The only explanation she would give for her anger was that I was just like him. She could actually go for days without speaking to me. This hurt me terribly because I just wanted her to love me. I vowed to myself I would never give my children the silent treatment. I found myself loving my dad more and my mom less. I didn’t understand anything about what made her act that way, I just felt like I was doing everything wrong and if I could just be better she would love me more.
By 9th grade I started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. I figured if I smoked the mean girls would leave me alone. I was right. At this point, all the things I was learning in church were going in one ear and right out the other. By 10th grade I was experimenting with drugs and boys even though boys and the whole issue of sex scared me. My relationship with my mom remained pretty tense because by then I was doing stuff that was bad and I had to be sneaky and lie to her.
I actually came out of my shell the first year of high school. I was in the marching band and made some really awesome friends. It was the first time I felt like I belonged to a group. We would meet in the morning for band practice and then go to school all day. At the end of the day we’d all pile into Al’s car and hang out at each other’s houses. We went on a field trip to Florida for a parade and it was just a great year. However, that all came to a very screeching halt at the beginning of 11th grade.