When my mother married my stepfather, she started hoarding. Less than a year into their marriage the house was bad enough to set my stepfather off in rages. He never (intentionally) physically abused me, but he did abuse my pets and even kill one in his rage. Granted, the “pet” he killed was a chicken, not like a cat or dog, but it was still my pet.
I grew up with anger and violence from both parents, as well as the clutter and filth from my mother’s hoarding. I didn’t learn how to clean things or how to minimize clutter. I became extremely protective of my pets, like a mother with a newborn baby. Pets were something my mother hoarded, too, and I didn’t learn until later in life that having a lot of pets isn’t normal. My mother and stepfather would toss the pets outside when they got tired of them, and most of them died. I battled the both of them relentlessly about my own pets, refusing to toss them out and let them die. I only started winning that fight when I was big enough to look my mother in the eye and stand my ground.
All I ever wanted to do was move out and be independent the very instant I turned 18. That was all my mother wanted, too. She couldn’t wait to “get rid of me.” Or that’s how it felt, at least. She began talking about how I’d be gone on my eighteenth birthday when I was 15, so I’d been hearing it for years. She would get excited telling everyone that I’d be gone soon and she would be free. I can’t imagine how someone cannot see that it’s hurtful.
Since my mother wasn’t mentally capable of home-schooling us after my father died, my brother and I had been left to educate ourselves for the most part. We both chose to attend public high school because of this. My brother did great, excelled in everything, graduated and went on to college. He also basically lived with his friends all through high school. I did not do well. I had no coping mechanisms and I was mentally unstable. Even though my parents had moved out of our home and into one down the street when I was about 13 or 14, I still wouldn’t risk staying with friends because of my pets and the possibility that they might be gone when I returned.
Lack of education and experience, as well as having no money, no job and pets, made it impossible to move out when I turned 18. I felt even more like a burden in my parents’ lives, which resulted in more instability and self-destruction. Even when I did finally get a job, I had no idea how to manage money.
I was like an angry and unstable child given adult responsibilities with no knowledge, guidance or help. Worst of all, I think, was that I didn’t even have access to the internet where I could learn some of the things I needed to know as an adult.