First, let me start with this: I’m lucky. I have a job—a great-paying job that I love, with supervisors who believe in me and are holding my position while I get treatment. I’m grateful every day for that because I know those of us who are aren’t so lucky are likely homeless, or worse, in jail, because mental illness can make us desperate and irrational.
When it comes to childhoods, I’m not so lucky. So what, right? No one has it perfect growing up. But because of repeated sexual and verbal abuse, I didn’t spend my childhood growing up. I spent it trying to survive. Or maybe I grew up too fast. I grew up in the time of afterschool specials and knew to be wary of strangers. But no one ever told me I couldn’t trust the people in my own home.
Fast forward through years of school (how I managed to graduate at the top of my high school class or with a bachelor’s degree from a good university is beyond me—I think I knew it was the only way to escape) and years of working (I got my first job at 13 on a horse farm and worked through most of high school and all of college, and I started my first “real” job right after graduating—I’m also lucky that the economy wasn’t in the tank then). I had friends, hobbies, dreams. I had made it. I had cut ties with my family right after high school, and it was hard not having family. Maybe that’s WHY I made it. Because I had no safety net, no one to fall back on if I failed. I got a dream job and moved out of state, started over, and for the first time, I was comfortable, living the dream.
And then it all fell apart.