“I am a LOSER! I am less than nothing. The only reason I can figure that God put me on this earth is to show the winners an example of what could have been, if they had been put on earth to define worthless, like me.” ~Alicia Gonzalez (Sometime, long ago)
At some point, early on in life, I declared war against myself. I tried to pretend that I was at battle with everyone else. I wasn’t. It was me who I hated. I didn’t wish that everyone else would disappear. It was me who I thought should disappear. The only reason I didn’t try harder to make that happen is because I figured I’d fail at that too! After all, I was already invisible. So, I didn’t try to die. I was already dead. I liked being dead. I didn’t deserve much, but I deserved that.
I’ve probably made this next concept impossible for you to believe, but it’s true. There were some very happy moments in my childhood. The problem was, I couldn’t see them for what they were. In retrospect, they were blessings. Every single disaster was a gift that I would be so grateful for, one day.
At the ripe young age of four, I was already asking mom to pass the roach. In fact, I was high when I learned how to tie my shoes. I remember that. I was also quite precocious. I quickly decided that drugs were bad. They were bad for me. They were bad for everyone. Throughout life, during the stages that children and teens typically experiment with all kinds of alcohol, household-substances, and street-drugs, I preferred to be the designated driver, emergency contact, and voice of reason. I can’t be sure I would have chosen that same righteous path if I hadn’t already gone down the wrong one, so early on.
Right about now, you are probably not alone in wondering: What kind of mother gets high with her almost-still-a-toddler daughter? Ah. A simple and legitimate question. The real answer has a depth that is much more complicated than a simple article’s ability to properly convey. Wait for the book if you need me to elaborate on this fascinating aspect of my life. Of course, it’s not fair to leave you hanging so let me give you a little background on my mother.
My mother is an amazing and sometimes lost woman, full of potential, still wondering how to reach it. She had me when she was just seventeen. She came from a broken home and was raised by her own mentally ill single mother. My grandfather paid my father to marry her in lieu of sending her off to a group home. This is all just the tip of the iceberg regarding my mother’s story. She was abandoned by her parents and by society. She was raped and witness to horrific things including murder. She has battled both illness and addiction throughout her life. She was the worst role model I’ve ever had. She was also, the best.
“When I was no longer a prisoner of my own war against myself, and finally found the freedom to cease fire,”
it was the memories of her teachings that gave me the strength to love myself. It was her lessons that taught me the world doesn’t revolve around me. Not everything is about me. Not even the bad things. She told me I could be anything. She told me I mattered. She told me I was a blessing. She told me she loved me.
What she did vs. what she said was a constant cycle of mind-blowing contradictions.
It took me many years to understand, not only that I could not hate her, but that there was no reason to. The latter, took a bit longer to sink in. My mother made many mistakes in her life. She was let down just as many times, if not more.
Growing up, I was sure she didn’t love me. Really, she didn’t. I mean, not in the way a mother should be able to love her child. My mom never had that example. It’s not an excuse. I don’t make excuses for anyone. It’s just a truth. Another truth, which I discovered much later in life, is that it hurt me more to hate her than it did for me to forgive her. Hating her made me hate myself. When I hated her, it meant I made her actions all about me. I made it personal. Poor me. Poor little girl with the runaway mommy. Poor worthless child.
It wasn’t poor me. It wasn’t even about me. In fact, if we have to do the whole poor-somebody spiel, we should really be saying, poor mother. I was her first-born child. She will never be able to get back the years she lost with me. She will never be able to hold on to the memories of those special milestone experiences during the teenage years, typically shared between other mothers and daughters. Those experiences didn’t exist for us. They cannot be recreated. She will always mourn their failed existence. On the other hand, I am looking forward to them with my own daughter. I have already begun to experience them with my oldest son. I share every precious moment with all of my children and will always hold title to those memories. Poor me? Nope. I don’t think so either.
By the time I was ten, I had two younger sisters. For a brief moment, life was good. Within in three years, following that happy moment, I had been repeatedly molested by a babysitter, homeless and living out of the car and in campgrounds with my mother and two sisters, missed a year of school, been attacked in a safe-shelter for women and children, raped by an older friend’s boyfriend/my mother’s secret-lover, and shamed into a long and vicious cycle of self-hate.
Fast-forward two years, enter the runaway-mommy story. My mother took my two sisters and fled the state we were living in. She did not take me. To this day, she believes in her need to have done that. I no longer need to believe that it defines who I am. It is so easy for us to take the what in our lives and voluntarily turn that into an inaccurate definition and portrayal of who we are.
I enjoy being free from that burden. If you find yourself burdened by the same difficult task of separating what you are from who you are, I hope this story helps you to find your own freedom. You deserve it.
Following the runaway-mommy saga, I lived in foster homes for a short while. I was abused and mistreated in foster homes, for a short while. By the time I was fifteen, I was living on my own in a semi-emancipated capacity. I lived on my own, outside of foster homes, free from foster parents, and without direct adult supervision. However, I was still a “ward of the state.” It was complicated. That’s the nature of my story.
During my teenage years, my focus shifted from trying to prove something to everyone around me to trying to prove everything to myself. I was still broken. I still felt worthless. I was still dead in an emotional coma. The blessing of feeling like I was less than nothing was linked to my love for math and algebraic equations. I began to notice inconsistencies between what I was and who I was becoming. I had to figure out why nothing seemed to add up to the answers I had previously concluded about myself. Certainly, I was a low-life. There was no denying that is what I was. Yet, I was responsible. I was tenacious. I was smart. I was funny. I was pretty. I was kind. I was, almost not too scared to be happy.
Fast-forward to this article. I am happy. I matter. I have purpose. The world is a better place with me in it. That is the journey. There are many magic moments in life. Some of them are presented with tragic and horrific packaging. It doesn’t take away from the beauty within the gift. Hating the world and everyone in it who has ever done us wrong does not make us stronger. It makes us weak to the point that we become our own prisoner. The key to finding the freedom to cease-fire against ourselves is simple. Stop thinking that the world revolves around you. The only world that will ever revolve around you is your own world. Even then, that only happens when you make it.
Forget about what you are. Decide who you are. You can be whoever you want to be.
“When you are given the chance to prove, to yourself, that you are stronger than you ever dreamed of being, let it humble you enough to be grateful for that blessing.”
By: Alicia Gonzalez