I remember when I started junior high in Fredericton New Brunswick. I had spent 6 years in Foster care prior to this, and had moved so many times. I was pretty much numb from all the times I changed Schools. Same old same old... The teacher always reacted in shock, as they would see all the last names I had previously registered under. Was not uncommon for the teacher to ask me personal questions in front of the class. It sure did not help my situation to draw so much attention to me. I never understood why I had to take on the last name of the family I was living with. I was not being adopted, just fostered. Since they could get rid of me as fast as they took me in, I should have been allowed my birth name on my registration.
I ended up living in Fredericton NB, because my mum and her husband decided they wanted me back. I guess I need to back track here, and explain a bit.
My parents divorced when I was about 7 years. My mum quickly remarried, and this new man in her life, he made it really clear he would not love another man's child. Unfortunate for him, my mum initially was a package deal, and came with 2 young girls.
My sister happily went to live with our dad, and his new wife. She adapted so well to the situation we were put in. I really admired her for that.
Me, I wanted to stay with my mum. I was very attached to my mum, and my mum's husband hated that her and I were so close. He set out on a mission to separate us. One day he gave her a choice...either I would have to leave our family home, or he would. I can remember their conversation in the entrance of our townhouse. To this day, I still have flashbacks about it.
Within a month of that conversation, I was taken from our home and placed into the Foster care system.
After spending 6 plus years in Foster care, my mum's sister and family took me in. I was 13 years old at the time. I loved being with them, and felt like I was finally part of a family. My mum must have felt threatened by that, and she fought in court to get me back. At that time I was so exhausted with life and the lies that were constantly surrounding me. To this day I question why anyone would have allowed me back in that home. In hindsight I should have done like my sister and lived with my dad. He loved the both of us so much, and did his best to take care of us, but I just wanted to be with my mum...
A court hearing ruled I was to be returned to my mum. I must have been in her home a month, when her husband announced we were moving from Pickering Ontario to Fredericton NB. I should also share that just before I went into Foster care, they had a son. He was their pride and joy. He had so much power in their home. Even when he was very young. I have always loved music, and I remember singing to the radio in the car. Their son telling me to stop singing, and his dad chiming in and telling me to be quiet. That was a routine for us. Most days, I was not allowed to sing or talk for that matter.
My first experience with anxiety at that age hit me soon after the move. I was fortunate to get a job babysitting right away. I babysat for the Sheriff of New Brunswick. I loved their kids. They were so well behaved and we had so much fun. I acted out their story books, and drew pictures, we did origami...I loved babysitting them. Being able to be in a home with love, laughter, and happiness, I would have babysat for free.
One day while babysitting, I was in their kitchen and I felt like I could not breath properly. For the life of me I could not take in a deep breath. I felt like I was fighting to stay conscious, and everything was going black. My heart raced and I felt this sense of impending doom.
I called my mum, and told her I felt like I was going to faint. I was babysitting a block from where we were living. I did eventually pull myself together, and calm down. I was thankful when the parents arrived back home.
That night, after being home for about an hour, I felt it happen all over again. I was so scared. The yelling in our home triggered a major anxiety attack in me. I was taken to the hospital. I found myself unable to stop crying. I was afraid, and unsure about all the feelings going through me. I remember laying on a stretcher in the Emergency room, and hearing the Doctor on duty telling my mum I had collapsed from stress. He asked what my home life was like. She never told him that her husband yelled at me constantly, would not let me be in a room with her, their son, so I could be part of their family. She never told him that he threw things. That he terrified me daily.
The doctor then asked her if she had told me she loved me lately...
She lied, and made like she had no idea why I was going through this. That night I was given a prescription for valium. I guess it was going to cure all. A band aid to cover the internal pain I was living with.
I was afraid everyday in their home. It would be quiet and HE would suddenly start yelling at me. I remember my mum one time, she yelled back at him. She told him he was killing me...that was the first time and only time she ever stood up to him for me.
It did not take long for me to welcome the feeling that came with taking valium. I ended up addicted to it. I was a kid taking pills that calmed me down so much I could barely speak. I remember one morning about 3 am, waking up, and my body was shaking so bad. I needed a pill. I went into the bathroom, as they were kept in the bathroom cabinet, and they were gone. The pill container was empty. The house was so dark, and I felt desperate. I panicked and tried to swipe the inside of the bottle with my finger, to get any residue I could out of it. I was aching to have that calm feeling again. I ended up sitting on the floor in my bedroom crying. So defeated by the life I had been given.
School, well School became a place of fear too. I started having severe panic attacks in the classroom. I remember the room feeling like it was closing in on me, going dark. I would often get lightheaded, feel dizzy. I passed out on several occasions. I would run out of the classroom, mid class while the teacher was talking, and go straight to the nurse's station.
I had lost control of me, and was giving in to the anxiety and PTSD that lived deep inside me. Such a darkness...
When you are "that kid", the one that stands out due to something other's would view as weird or odd, you are subject to bullying. I was so used to it. Being shoved by someone, yelled at, swore at, touched inappropriately. Despite how awful I was treated at School, it was never as bad as my home life.
Most of us have been at School when talk was spreading through the halls that someone was going to be beaten up at the end of the day. It was a regular thing back then, and strangely enough, people thrived on knowing such a clash was going to take place.
On this day the whispering was all around me. I hated the fighting, as yelling and fighting were a trigger for me. I went home to that every single day.
On this day, someone walked past me in the hall, looked at me and laughed in my face.
I checked myself, but did not understand what was so funny...until I walked out onto the School yard after School. A hush came over the crowd as I guess I was the star of this after School special.
A gal I did not know walked up to me. She had a strange grin on her face, and the crowd surrounded us. It was an odd moment that imprinted itself in my memory. She stared at me, and I stared right back at her. I was not afraid of her. She stood about 5 inches taller than me. I was always small compared to my classmates.
I said something to her that she did not expect. I told her to hit me. She was so taken back by that. I guess she figured, or hoped, with her captive audience...that she would be all tough and scare me. I said it louder, HIT ME! She asked if I was nuts...loaded question there. I told her there was nothing she could do to me that would hurt me like I had already been hurt. I said do whatever you want, I did not care. I truly did not care. She shrugged her shoulders at me, rolled her eyes, and walked away. The show was over folks.
It was about a week after, that I was walking in the hallway by some lockers and I heard someone crying. I followed the sound and found my bully sitting at the foot of her locker in tears. I sat down beside her and asked if she was okay. It was obvious, she was not. She gave me a glare, asked why I cared. I told her I actually did care, and if she needed anything, well I would be there for her. I got that same shocked look she had given me outside. I got up and started to walk away, and told her if she needed to talk, I would be there for her. She asked me why I would be so nice to her when she had been so mean. I told her it was just who I am.
After that day, I seemed to run into her a lot. She went on to tell me a rumour had gone around about me wanting to date her cousin, a hot wrestler. Who was already dating her friend. I had no idea who any of them were. Whenever we ran into each other after that hallway incident she would hug me, smile, call me her friend.