I Died When I Was 16
Typically I'm quiet and reserved with the emotions of my past; but some days some things just weigh on you more than others. Yesterday was one of those days. So, I've decided I can no longer hide who I am or what I've been through. It shaped me as the person I am today. Both the good and the bad.
When I was 16 I died. It wasn't a quick death and it certainly wasn't painless. But it was real and it remained until I could no longer stand the memory of it. The memory of the things that hurt me the most. The memory of things that changed who I was, how I viewed the people, myself and religion. I feel like you aren't supposed to learn such big lessons at such a young age but how many of us have gone through hell and back only to realize we were too young to even go that deep into life? Too many of us I'm sure of it. What's even more is that no matter how bad you had it or the evils you saw along the way; one thing you can't change that you should always be aware of is, life goes on. Can you believe that sh!t. You can be living in hell while your neighbor is enjoying the bliss of heaven. No matter how bad it gets life simply continues on. And with that same realization I had to ask myself even after death. Why the f**k can't I go on too?
Some people will read this and think duh you've already continued on. HAHAHA. No. Anyone with an ounce of trauma knows this is not the way of the world, man, nor our minds. We carry trauma with us like it's spare f**king change in our pockets. We gotta turn these pockets inside out and get rid of this mess! Well, I had too anyway. And that's exactly what I did. But I guess if I'm going to tell you how, I might as well tell you where the inspiration began. So here it goes, I'll tell you about the time I died when I was 16. Finally.
Growing up I had a very up and down childhood. I won't go into too much detail but there was a huge lack of balance and discipline. I realized by the end of my sophomore year in high school I wanted more structure. I became aware of the fact that I wanted to go to college, I wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to truly explore what was out there. A classmate of mine must have read my mind because she asked me if I wanted to join ROTC. She needed to get someone to join for extra credit. I wanted discipline, she needed the credit. I saw an opportunity so I took it. After that my summer went on as planned.
During this time in my life I was heavily involved in the church I was attending. If there was a group or club to join I was in it. Dance, step, choir and the list goes on. It was a great escape for me. My home life wasn't my favorite and school felt like pure torture some days. But this space was a place of comfort and protection. The friends I made there were people I could trust and talk to about the outside world and the church world. I had a mentor I trusted and I found myself spending more and more time with my church. It felt good and I always looked forward to seeing everyone. The church wasn't one of those huge churches where everything and everyone felt unreachable and too big to bother. You know what I'm talking about. No, this was a church of tight knit families that had known one another for decades. Their kids had known eachother since they were babies. This was the type of church you would want to be part of because the pastors made it their duty to know everyone in their congregation. This made them relatable and human. Throughout my life I've come across all types of pastors and they always come off as minor celebrities who reinforce that they are in-fact minor celebrities. But these pastors, they felt humble and kind. Or so I thought, because that's the thing about being 16. Although you may be mature and somewhat aware. Some things slide right by you because you simply haven't experienced enough life yet
On the first day of my junior year of high school I was ready and excited. I remember having a personal talk with myself about how this was my year. This year I would stay out of non-sense. The year I would focus on my grades. The year I would take charge of my life and change the course it was on. I had plans and I was ready to stick with them. Then life happened.
My first day of school went great. My classes were great. I saw all my old friends and picked up my ROTC uniform. I'm telling you, this was gonna be my year. My friend from elementary school just so happened to sign up for ROTC as well and her Mom offered me a ride home after we picked up our uniforms. I still remember this part like it was yesterday. We turned the corner to my house and there, on the sidewalk was my whole life. My whole house for the entire world to see. I had no idea what to do and was at a loss for words. My friend's Mother must have seen my reaction and asked if this was my house. She didn't ask anything else but instead said I could stay with them without any hesitation. Too embarrassed by the offer and my current circumstance I denied it was my house. I told her she could drop me off around the corner since I usually go in through the back. As a Mother I'm sure she could spot the lie. But as a human she seemed to understand my current state and pressed no further.
This small moment changed my life in so many ways. From here it didn't get easier or better. Instead it got worse in almost every way. I lost my house and place of comfort, I lost many "friends", I lost my motivation to change and aim for this future I thought I so much wanted. I lost a portion of myself in that moment even if I knew it or not.
After staying with a friend from school for a few months my Mom wanted me to come stay with her at a friend's house. She lived about 40 minutes away from everything I knew in life. When you're 16 without a car this feels like the world is over. Not only did I have to say goodbye to my old home I now had to say goodbye to my school and friends. For me this felt all too familiar. Growing up I changed schools and moved a lot. Whenever we finally settled on a place for a decent amount of time I felt relief. I could finally build long lasting relationships. This was always short lived. No longer than 3-4 years at a time. The upside was my new high school would be filled with people I went to elementary school with and it would be closer to church. So although many school friends weren't within arms reach my church friends were and because of this I found some comfort in my new move.
School began again for the 2nd time that year for me and I made a few new friends and befriended old friends from the past. With everything going on in my life and the stress going through my mind I was desperate for friends. Not because I wanted to share my current trauma but because I needed a social distraction. Looking back on this I probably came off as desperate, weird and lonely. And it was true. All of it. I don't have siblings to share any home life stress or understanding with. It's just me. Always has been. I've had to teach myself coping techniques, social techniques and the list goes on. So when it comes to making friends I haven't always done it in a way that doesn't make me look like a weird kid. I always needed those social distractions because if left alone too long I would think about my home life too much. This in return would leave me tired, angry, distant and even dangerous. I say dangerous because there were times I wanted to end it all just at the thought of all the bullsh!t I had to deal with at such a young age. And there have been times I've tried. Why I've been spared is beyond me and only known to God.
School was still school so a large part of me never wanted to be there and it showed with my performance. But if school let out and it was a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday I knew exactly where I would be. In church participating in one of the clubs. Not many things gave me happiness during this time in my life but this, this really kept me going and my spirits up. I had friends that were pretty awesome and I had a mentor that I trusted more than anyone else. If nothing else in life felt like it was going correctly this particular part sure did. I never felt judged or outcast. I just felt I was exactly where I needed to be in the middle of my crisis. And then, the world intervened. God intervened.
As I made friends and began to socialize I did what I do best. I find someone I like to obsess with. Because it's easier to become fixated on others than to fixate on yourself and address any issues at hand. For me these little relationships were about distraction and trying to find love that could take away the pain I was constantly in mentally and emotionally. I didn't need to be someones girlfriend to have sex with them. I just needed some attention for a moment and the next step was easy. Yes, I was easy.
Sex gave me a distraction from pain and quickly replaced it with a very temporary pleasure. I never looked at sex as this amazing thing between people who love eachother. It's never been on my radar. Maybe it's because it wasn't taught to me. Maybe it's because it's not always displayed in entertainment. Even in church the meaning of sex never felt fully or properly explained. It always felt like scare tactics and judgement calls. "Only those who are pure will enter the gates of heaven". Oh yeah? So then why in the world was God letting Jesus frolick all over with Mary Magdalene? Whatever the reason, up until 2019 I didn't fully value the meaning of sex. Not because anyone taught it to me but because I took a step back from my life, from my relationships and looked over everything and everyone. I realized some of my situations and bad relationships stemmed from my sexual energy and actions. I didn't like the results I gave myself. I figured if this was the result of irresponsible sexual action and energy then I needed to know what responsible sexual energy and actions looked and felt like. And even more what results it would bring to me. So far, it's sweet.
So you have a picture for the type of teenager I was. Mad, misunderstood and promiscuous as f**k! I make no apologies on any of it. But I hope my death gives perspective for others in similar situations. We haven't gotten to it just yet but it's coming up.
I usually date out of my league. And when I say out of my league I mean they usually come from two parent homes, they're involved in stuff at school, they have better grades than me, more educated than me, you get the picture. I'm that troubled girl many Mothers don't want their sons dating because "she's damaged". They aren't wrong to a degree. I am damaged. I am work. I can understand a Mothers concern to take on a woman like me. I may be damaged but I can add to your life better than I've been able to add to mine. Well, the old me could anyway.
But this guy I met in particular was different. Him and I seemed to be alike in many ways. When you're a teenager and you find someone who understands you it's like finding the golden ticket in Willy Wonka. He understood everything that was going on in my life at the time. He understood not having a home that was yours. Not having parents that made you feel safe and secure. Not being able to focus on school because all this other personal stuff was clouding your mind more than anything else. He understood me and I was hooked. I was young, in love and I had the distraction I needed to suppress the pain I was feeling. Momentarily anyway.
As with anything in life good things always come to an end. For some of us our good things end when our lives have simply run out. For others our good things end just as quickly as it came. I was the latter.
Everything seemed to be going well for me. I had finally settled down in school, joined a club, made friends and now I was dating someone who I felt was great for me. I could finally take a moment to relax myself. During this time my boyfriend who went to another school would randomly come to my school and pick me up so we could hang out, watch tv and have sex. He wouldn't tell me when he was coming he would just surprise me and be outside. At the time this was romantic for a 16 year old. In hindsight I shoulda stayed my ass in class. The last and final time he picked me up like this his friend and his girlfriend were with him. We all ended up grabbing some McDonalds and then headed to her house to hang out.
Now before I get into this next part I really need you to understand I really didn't have a true understanding of sex, protection or getting preganant. None of it. I really hadn't had these types of in depth conversations with anyone in my life. So what happened next was purely out of irresponsibility and ignorance.
As we're hanging out his friend's girlfriend comes into the living room with a red solo cup. I assumed it was something to drink but then he took out a pregnancy test and placed it inside the cup. Curious I asked what they were doing to which he responded that they don't always use a condom so they take pregnancy tests every week just to be sure she isn't pregnant. I didn't think anything of it and said ok. She then asked if I wanted to take one. I said sure, because I had no reason to say no really. I went to the restroom, filled my cup up, placed the test in the cup and then went back to eating my food. About 20 minutes go by before my boyfriend remembers the test and checks it. And that's when the very little I felt I had gained back in life began to dissipate in front of my very eyes. As he picked up the test he looked shocked but had the biggest smile on his face. You're pregnant! He yelled. I truly didn't believe it. How? At that moment I kept trying to remember if we had ever used a condom. If we had ever just taken that time to be responsible. And for the life of me I couldn't think of any moment we had. How could I be so ignorant and let myself become a statistic. That moment came and went as he ran up to me and kissed me on the mouth. He was excited that a baby was on the way and repeated how much he loved me. This took me out of my trance and brought me back to a brief moment of happiness.
As I went to church that evening I didn't know what to think of myself. Am I damned for this or is this a blessing from God during a terrible time in my life? I can be a mother right? I can totally do this at 16, right? God isn't judging me, right? So many questions and literally no answers in sight. I kept my secret and continued on with choir practice. As much as I wanted to tell my two best friends and mentor from church I really didn't know what they would think of me so I didn't. I was harboring life changing news and I had no one to run to. I prayed but it felt like God went silent on me. So for a week I just sat in my head waiting and hoping for an answer. The answer provided was not what I wanted or was expecting.
By the following week my boyfriend/soon to be Dad had changed his tone. He wasn't in love with me. He didn't want this baby. He didn't even believe the baby was his. He took it so far that he found people I had previously dated at my old school and told them I was pregnant by them. Yes, this really happened. His Mother called me telling me the baby wasn't his, his sister did the same, grown women calling me to tell me I was everything under the sun but a child of God. Judgement day was right in front of my face and I didn't know how to handle it at all.
The drama that surrounded this pregnancy just got worse as the days went on. I finally told my Mother and surprisingly she comforted me but her comfort turned into what she was preparing me for. She said an abortion was going to hurt but that I would be ok in the end. I was mortified. Never in my life did I consider this an option. This had nothing to do with church or God. This had everything to do with the fact that I wanted to be a good Mother. I figure if it's gonna happen then I'm going to be the best Mother I can. I'm going to make a way out of none. It's easy to say that when you're 16 and think you know it all. But an abortion, it just didn't sit well on my being. She never forced the conversation again but instead took me to get another pregnancy test so I could be sure. Two more positive tests later. It was confirmed 3 times now that I was pregnant.
So here I am. 16 and pregnant. Alone. Not sure what to do and mentally losing it. Imagine going through this and having no one to talk to or fully understand you. I was drowning in a pool alone. No lifeguard in sight. My last option was my mentor and church. My mentor just so happened to be the pastor's eldest daughter. She was everything I was striving to be. She had a career, she was fly, she was kind hearted and she was just all around amazing. She was my inspiration for wanting to get my life together. I knew if anyone could help me it was them. As I prepared myself for church that evening I kept going over what I would say and how I would say it. I was desperate for help.
As I walked into church that evening I immediately looked for my mentor and told her I needed to talk about something important. She pointed to her Mother, the pastor and told her I needed to speak to her about something important. She said once bible study had completed to come and find her. I sat through bible study quietly judging myself and trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach. I couldn't wait for bible study to end. I just knew I would be given an answer from God sent through her. I was sure of it. I found her after class and we found a quiet place to talk. I told her the situation and expected sympathy, comfort, anything really. What I got was an emotionless face and a response of "I'll call you this week, let me pray on it". I took her word for it, hugged her and left. Although it wasn't the answer I wanted it was something. And I mean she was going to pray to God so what's the worst that could be decided?
This is where I begin to die. This is where death felt imminent.
After waiting for a few days I finally got a call. My pastor had said she'd spoken with her husband who was the senior pastor and her prayer group and it was decided I could no longer attend the church. I was no longer welcome. I was so confused. I wasn't sure I heard her correctly so I asked when I would be able to come back. She said she'd pray on it and then hung up. That was the last time I spoke to my pastor. Over a decade ago. I never attended church after that. I never heard from my mentor after that. I never heard from anyone. I had run to the only place I felt would help me no matter the circumstance because I felt God or better yet Jesus would have done the same. They turned their backs on me too. Everyone had either abandoned me or tried to make a decision for me but not one person had ever asked if I was ok. I was not ok. I was dying and no one even cared to notice.
I thought getting kicked out of church was the worst and last issue I'd have to deal with during this pregnancy but I was wrong. My ex-boyfriend wanted nothing to do with this baby. He got back with his ex and made sure I knew it. He told everyone and anyone that would listen about the pregnancy and how it wasn't his. I got daily facebook messages from people I didn't know harassing me. He would constantly harass me. His sister. It was one thing to deal with just him but this took over my life in ways I didn't even think. I went from being known at maybe one or two schools to being known throughout an entire county of schools. All for false information and there wasn't a thing I could do about it. I just took it.
Here I am still drowning, here I am dying.
It's been two weeks since I found out I was pregnant and my life feels unrecognizable. The only thing keeping me alive and from harming myself during this time was the fact that I was pregnant. I couldn't bring myself to kill two beings at the same time. I was only a few weeks along but once I knew I couldn't hide from my personal acknowledgement that there was life growing inside of me. I pressed on and looked for as many resources as I could. I found a free pregnancy center and scheduled an appointment to get a sonogram. It didn't matter how much help I didn't have at this point I had to figure something out for myself if no one else would be there to guide me.
On the day of my sonogram I got there about 20 minutes early and was greeted by a friendly face as I walked in. The receptionist helped me fill out paperwork and gave me the history of the clinic. They were backed by the church and helped fund mothers through their pregnancy and up to a year after. I had found the right place. I had found help and it was even backed by God. As soon as I finished my paperwork a nurse in purple scrubs came out to get me. She asked me when my last period was and I had no clue but it had been more than a month late. I wasn't used to tracking my cycle or fully paying attention to it. It had always brought me the worst cramps and vision impairing migraines. I never looked for it and always prayed for it to be over. I had no clue about my body or the cycle of her. The nurse didn't seem too phased and said she would be able to see once we began.
As she got everything ready I could feel the excitement in me building up. At 16 you don't think this is what your life will be like but I really wanted to make the best out of the worst situation. The nurse asked if I was ready and I nodded quietly. The gel was cold and the pressure she put on my stomach felt weird. As I watched the screen I caught a glimpse of the nurses face. She looked confused. And asked me again when my last cycle was to which I replied I didn't know. She told me it was too early to see anything and scheduled me for another three weeks out. I thought nothing of it but made a point to take note of the date.
The next morning I woke up like any other. I took a moment to look at the ceiling in the room I shared with my Mom. Then headed to the bathroom to do the usual. And there it was. Death looking me dead in the face. Right between my legs. Death. This child I was so excited to grow and meet was no longer. This is how I died. Right there in that bathroom all those years ago. With all the pain I had experienced through the past few months and weeks. Death. It was the final straw. It was the moment I realized I was truly alone in this world. Even my own body didn't want to give me something to love. Everything had left me. Everything had turned its back on me. Everyone had an opinion of me and still. No one asked if I was ok. I wasn't ok. This was the moment I knew God had turned their back on me. This was the moment I shut off all communication. I stopped praying. I stopped seeking information. I stopped believing in myself. I stopped mentally and emotionally at 16. From that point on life was just life. School was just school.
My body was just a body that I could use however I wanted with whoever I wanted. I no longer cared what people thought of me or my promiscuousness. I was gullible, naive and a person filling space. I deserved all this turmoil, failure and back turning. It's clear I earned it. I didn't care what I thought of myself. My body wasn't strong enough to fight pain. My body wasn't strong enough to carry life. At 16 this killed my world and my view on people, religion, and myself. For years after that life was a blur. My work was a blur. Lines just blurred all over the place. And I had convinced myself life couldn't come from this body.
That was my life for a very, very, very long time.
Then one day I decided to take my life back. Life had continued on while I sat in stagnation. I allowed myself to die while still living in the flesh. I had to wake up. It's my turn to continue on. And continue on better than anyone had expected me too. I mean if the expectations are low the only way to go is up, right?
I'll tell you how I did it in part 2.