When I was two years old, my grandma found me outside playing in a gutter, may I mention that I was in a diaper and it was also raining. My grandma found me because my mother had a doctors appointment and she was going to pick us up, well, she picked up one person- me. My mother was inside sleeping, so my grandma put me in the car and drove away, and unfortunately, this is the first memory that I have of my life.
1. Let's be honest, anything can happen.
But I would really like to point out that when you stress about the minor life incidents that you can not control, then you might as well just look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are destroyed. There is no point to stressing about the test you decided to procrastinate on when you darn well know that, a C may be getting your degree. My point being is, your biggest obstacle is yourself, so do not defeat yourself. Rise to all challenges and love yourself along the way.
My mother was into drugs, and I did not know my father at the time. At the age of 6, that is when you are really starting to observe certain situations and learn right from wrong. The first thing that I remember learning, was that I was different. I was being raised by my grandma, and a stranger would always come visit on the holidays. What I was slowly learning was that, that stranger was my mom. I remember giving her hugs and noticing of how she reeked of smoke. I remember waking up at 2am to my grandma and my mom fighting because my mom was drunk and that seemed to be the only time she wanted to see me.
2. You have to remember that you are enough.
Enough to make a difference, enough to conquer all battles, and enough to change a life. Growing up I always felt as if I wasn't good enough because my mom never showed any interest in seeing me. I was always left thinking "Does she not love me and want to stay because I am not enough." So, of course, I was left thinking that I wasn't. To this day my biggest problem is that I feel as if I am too small to accomplish my goals. That I am too shy, too kind, too sensitive, and too empathetic, but in all reality, those 4 things will be the reasons why I am giving motivational speeches in a couple years from now, and changing lives. If you do not believe in yourself, then who says someone else will.
When I was 9 years old, my grandma decided that it was time that I went and lived with my mom. My mom had been sober for a while and she was pretty convincing towards my grandma that she had cleaned up her act; so, off to another state I went. My grandma put me on a plane to live in Baltimore, Maryland (where my mom and her new boyfriend lived), and as I was waving goodbye I remember seeing tears strolling down my grandma's face. I didn't understand why she was crying, I was confused because I was so excited, but now that I am 20 years old, I realize that she was crying because she was letting her little girl go, and what was to come, she couldn't save me from.
When I got off the plane, the first person I noticed was this massive man standing right beside my mom, his name was Michael Jones and that day. I learned the term "step dad." My little sister, Madison was there, and along beside her was my brother, Tarrell. I was so excited to be feeling as if I was going to have my own little family, but I wish the feeling would have been mutual. After a couple of weeks, the honeymoon stage was over. I watched my mom get beaten on Thanksgiving day, and I spent the whole day trying to get her out of the bathroom because she kept screaming that she was going to kill herself, and that was the first of many.
My brother Tarrell was also beaten with a belt every other day by this man. If he made a silly mistake such as dropping food on the floor, the next five seconds later I would see tears in my brother's eyes because Mike told him to strip naked, get in his room, and wait. Wait for what you ask? A life-threatening beating. I, on the other hand, I was never touched, nor was my sister. Mike never even yelled at Madison and me, but he didn't have a problem leaving welts on my brothers back, and making him defecate on himself because the pain he was experiencing made him lose internal control. I remember even at 9 years old, screaming at the top of my lungs for Mike to stop hurting my brother, and having to yell at my mom because she didn't put her voice into the situation...
3. Put your voice out there.
It may cause drama, it may humiliate you, but if you can stop a harmful act, then you better take the time to do it. You have better raise your voice and put it somewhere where it is needed. I don't have much to say for this one, but I hope you take into account that a lot of people are soft spoken and do not have the courage to jump into deep waters not knowing when they will reach the surface again. Use Your Voice.
While this chaos was going on at home, I was being bullied at school. In Maryland at the time, the population in my view was about 98% African American, 1% Caucasian, and 1% other. I was the the other. I am biracial, and let me tell you- those kids did not like that. I was raised by my grandma to be sweet and to always be kind, but apparently, these kids were raised differently. They were rough, they were cursing at the age of 9, and there were fights just about every day at lunch. A number of 4 girls tried fighting me at lunch in the matter of a week, just because my hair was curlier and my complexion was lighter than theirs. Not one kid would talk to me, and if he/ she did, it was put me down.
Even the teachers bullied me. My 4th-grade teacher was named "Mrs. Queen," and she didn't like the way that I presented myself. I was very proper, and I vividly remember her saying "you better learn how to act like us, because you aren't better than anyone here." Did I think that I was? No, I was absolutely terrified. I remember her making a kid sit in the corner of the room during class because she thought that he smelled like a skunk. I remember him crying, and I would think to myself why did he smell bad? Did his mom forget to wash his clothes? But now? I realized it was because his mom didn't have enough money to buy detergent.
4. If you put people down, or bully someone, whether it is in person, behind their back, or even on social media... just remember that you have no idea what that person is going through.
To this day I have social anxiety, I can't be in big groups of people for a long period of time, and my depression is severe, just because a couple of kids kicked me in the dirt when I had already been tasting it. Everyone lashes out differently, but if we would just filter what we say before we say it, suicide would not be one of the leading causes of death among teenagers. If you are going to use your voice, why not use it to give a compliment? To make someone's day? To uplift someone? It takes way less effort to be kind than to be a complete a**.
So, at the age of 12, we moved back to Kansas. My mom was still with Mike, and Tarrell moved back home with his biological dad because apparently, Mike couldn't handle him. Let's be real, though, he was really sent back by my mother because she finally stepped in and realized that Mike was going to end up murdering my brother by those harsh beatings if she did not send him back to his father. On the other side of things, we moved to Emporia and Mike became a bail bondsmen. I wasn't being bullied at school and that seemed to be the highlight of this time period, everything seemed to be going very well, Mike was not lashing out at my mom, my mom wasn't threatening to kill herself, my grandma lived in Emporia as well, and my mom was pregnant with my last little brother, Adrian.
Adrian was born and everything seemed to be going pretty well but then when I finished 6th grade Mike wanted to take his business farther, so he got his own business in Topeka, and we followed him there. Now, this was the downfall. Little did we know that he was really moving to Topeka because he was cheating on my mom and wanted to be closer to his mistress, Heather. One day he randomly texted my mom and broke up with her, as if she didn't deserve more respect than that, right? My mom was going to nursing school, and Mike was paying for it. She was pregnant again with the last of us, Bella..and she was trying to better her life and he was the income, he paid for everything... until then.
My mom became depressed, she went out every night, she was never home, I was stuck home watching my siblings at the age of 12, and I went to school looking a hot mess because I was up all night with my siblings. But after a while everything caught up to us, so we had to leave. We moved to Lawrence with one of my mom's close friends, and she furnished an apartment for us- but my mom still didn't seem to be thankful enough. She had a boyfriend at the time, and he broke up with her, and of course he was the income. I don't have much information on this guy because there was a new one every month, and they weren't to be trusted. So, we lost our place- and had to go live in a shelter. There was 1 bunk-bed in the room, I was sharing mine with Adrian and Madison, and my mom was sharing one with Bella. My mom liked that it was free, though, free food, free shelter, free every thing, so she used and abused it. She stopped looking for jobs, and she stopped coming back to tuck us into bed, so that became my job, and may I add..... I was pretty much living in this shelter alone with my siblings.
5. We are human, and we are going to take things for granted.
When certain situations become repetitive we feel the need to not remind people of how thankful we are to have them in our lives. My mom should have been praising her friend up and down for that furnished apartment but she didn't, she used her. She was using me, her friends, and her boyfriends. My point being is- when you take the small things for granted, you are really missing out on life. My mom,siblings and I had a 95% chance of being homeless, but people stepped in and helped when they had no clear obligation to. Start giving value to the world without expecting anything in return.
After a long period of time living in that stranger filled shelter, my mom met a new guy. His job was decent, and he could support other people- meaning my siblings and I. So, my mom and him got an apartment together, and we were finally out of the shelter. Everything was fine and dandy, the way a honeymoon stage usually is, but then he became abusive. I never really understood why my mom would go for the guys that would put up a front when she knew that they were harmful below the surface. She put me, and my siblings at risk, and to be honest? I have no idea if one of my siblings was sexually abused because, during this time period, I wanted out. I was barely home, I was mad, in my defense I was a teenager and wanted to be able to act like one. I wanted to spend the night at a friends house, develop a crush for one of my classmates, just be a kid again, so I would stay at a friends house for a week or even more.
I would up and leave and ignore my mom's texts and calls but, everything seemed to catch up to me, and everything got worse. I'm not sure if avoiding my family was the best idea because it seemed to give my mom an excuse as to why she needed "breaks," and why she needed to go out every day of the week. I was stuck at home watching my siblings again, and I started wishing that they didn't exist. I became tired, of brushing their hair, of bathing them, of feeling hungry all of the time, I just wanted an out, and boy... did I get one. In August of 2012, my grandma found out about everything that had been happening, she called SRS, and my siblings and I were taken away from my mother. I always imagined how my mom felt about this because she wasn't home when we were taken away. I always imagined her falling to her knees and bawling her eyes out when she walked through the door because her kids were no longer there- and she knew why.
My grandma tried to take in all of us, but guess who finally stepped in and decided to have a say? Mike. He wouldn't let my grandma have Madison, Adrian, or Bella, so I watched them get in his car.... and at that very moment, I felt relief.
6. Don't take anything for granted.
The fact that I started to wish that my siblings didn't exist... still kills me inside. I was taking something at simple as life completely for granted. I didn't care that I had 2 beautiful sisters and 1 handsome brother to take care of. I didn't acknowledge the fact that I was doing a damn good job of raising them, and the fact that I even had the chance to do that in the first place.. was a blessing from God. I had beautiful faces to wake up to, innocent giggles to hear, and children to raise at the age of 15. I understand that taking all of the negatives out of that situation was completely normal, but now that I am 20, if could go back and tell them all how much I love them every single moment of every single day then I would take that chance. My point being is if you have the sun to wake you up every morning, and a life to call yours, then there is something out there greater than all of your battles, and that is God. You may not like his pathway at the time, but your future is his artwork no matter how much paint he drips along the way. Always count your blessings.
The moment I felt relief did not last very long. I moved to Emporia with my grandma and I felt extremely unstable. My life was gone and it felt like my world was crashing. I missed my mom as crazy as that sounds, but most of all I missed taking care of my siblings. It felt weird not having to give them baths before bed and not having to sing to them as they fell asleep, I was just completely lost. I wasn't worried about going to a new school or meeting new people, I was worried about what was going to happen next, and sure enough. I had a reason to. That December of 2012 Mike let my grandma and I come and see the kids. Of course I cried the whole time, but what I remember from that specific memory is how when I left my siblings started banging on the glass door and crying because they didn't want me to go, how tears were rolling down my face, and how I couldn't breathe because it felt as if the life was being sucked out of me...
4 years went by, and Mike never replied to my grandma and I. He didn't call or text us back or even send us pictures on how the kids were doing. The only time I had heard about them, was on the News.
November of 2015, my little brother Adrian was murdered by Mike and his wife, Heather. Madison and Bella were left unharmed, but Adrian was tortured, kept in a room, and beaten constantly. When his death was reached he was fed to pigs in their backyard, and all of Kansas was to know about it. I was that girl, the girl who had a brother that was murdered and still to this day I have no idea on how to cope with Adrian's passing. If I could go back in time and pinch his chubby cheeks and witness his handsome smile again, I would do so in a heartbeat, but now I am at that point in my life where I have to look at pictures of him just to remember his face.
I break down at times because I still, and never will understand, is how someone could do that to another human being. How someone can feel no remorse but can put so much pain on others. The one thing that has helped me through most dark times, is by forgiving. I am working on finally being able to forgive what they have done to my brother, but that may never happen. Usually forgiving doesn't take as much effort as hating, but forgiving Mike and Heather has and is taking a toll on me, but I am still finding it within myself to take the time to do it.
Rise to all challenges, and love yourself along the way.
Believe in yourself. YOU alone are enough, and you have nothing to prove to anybody.
Use your voice, it has value.
Start giving value to the world without anything in return.
Count your blessings.
Forgive. It doesn't make you weaker and doing so does not mean that you are giving in. Forgiving might not give you the heart that you once had before, but I promise that it will start mending it back together.
As you can see, my life is not all that and a bag of chips, but whose life is? It has taken me a while to realize this, but I absolutely love my life. I am okay with what I have been put through because I always remind myself that I am privileged to have a life at all, and even though I am handed one battle after the other, I know that I can handle it.My story is one of many. I hope that you take the time to think about what you are doing at this given moment to change the things that need to be changed because every next level of your life will demand a different you.