I remember the projects in Southeast. I remember my gramma’s apartment across from Wingate, where I would calmly duck below the window at the sounds of gunshots, and proceed to watch Scooby Doo. I remember my babysitter Aunt Massie, who was everybody’s aunt but not mine, which meant I got less butt whippings. I remember moving to Maryland, where my future seemed brighter. Then I remember wanting a different future, and more freedom. A freedom to be full of life, and love. I don’t know what gave me the idea I was missing life but I just knew I needed to have it.
I was raised by my mother in the Pentecostal church since I was 2. I was taught not to wear lipstick, and always wear pantyhose. Never wear pants to a church function. Never wear shirts that are sleeveless or backless nor a skirt that doesn’t pass your knees. My mom got married when I was 7. Then I had rules that were meant to slow down the process of becoming a woman. Never let your hair hang free, it was always to be in some kind of ponytail. No high heels greater than 2 inches. Boys couldn’t call the house til they met my parents and I wasn’t allowed to date til I was 17. These rules were annoying but I knew they wouldn’t hurt me so I broke them every now and then but not as a rebel. These rules helped me see who my real friends were, and who liked me for the “me” inside.
The “me” inside my head was growing too. I would have unexpected & unexplained crying spells. Since I had started working at 15, I always ate what I wanted or nothing at all. Everyone said these were my sensitive woman moments. Later on I recognized it as depression. I wasn’t always depressed. I would sometimes find myself in this extremely hyper, and I would get this adrenaline rush that made me feel like I had to do something spontaneous. Even thinking back on it now, I still call those times happiness and not hyper mania. The depression and hyper mania were symptoms of my illness.
At 18, I still hadn’t been diagnosed with bipolar though red flags were everywhere. I even saw a therapist! I didn’t know my illness it was the stem of my anger. But I always felt like deep down inside I hated everybody. I thought that deep down feeling came from my heart, but it was just empty thoughts screaming, fighting to be real. No one told me the mind could be so powerful. So to say I hated my parents back then wouldn’t be true. They were just convenient targets, and I was full of rage and confusion.
Imagine your daughter coming home from school, ignoring you. You ask her about homework, she coldly answers its done. Retreats to her room. You tell her dinner is ready, she looks at you with disgust and says no thank you. Then repeat for 365 days. If your really imaging this. Snap out it, you lucked out. That was me.
Angry, irritated, and misunderstood. That was my childhood. Then I was abused, raped, kidnapped, homeless, jobless, fighting for survival. Sometimes I still think about that future I wanted, all that freedom. I’m alive, that’s enough freedom. Then again, sometimes that’s too much.