My Story, Part Eight- Nelson’s Lessons

By this point I’ve told you most of the bad that’s happened in my life and most of the bad about Nelson. Now it’s finally time to get to the good news.

 

Nelson helped me in more ways than I can probably express properly here, none of which being the ways that he said he would. 

As you now know, I was a complete disaster of a person when I met him- angry, hateful, damaged, incredibly mentally/emotionally unstable. Children often learn what they live. I fell right in to that category in many aspects. I lashed out at people (verbally) when I was upset, just like my mother. I didn’t know how to handle my emotions or life’s stresses at all. I had no motivation, no appreciation for life. 

Nelson taught me how to be stable. Many people know the things already that Nelson taught me, but I am bipolar and I had never known anyone but abusers. These things seem like common sense, but I truly needed someone to show me (not just tell me, either). Nelson pushed me to get eight full hours of sleep each night and remain on a consistent schedule, explaining that especially for someone with bipolar disorder it is an essential part of living and being stable. He pushed me to eat full, healthy meals every day, explaining that even a normal person can become unstable without a proper diet.

He also told me that I would never, ever be able to manage my disorder without life-long medication. Now, one thing about me is if someone tells me that I can’t do something I want to do, I will find a way. I had been on many different medications, and I’d even been in a mental hospital being monitored on medications, and each one had terrible side effects for me that created an intense fear of being medicated. Because of Nelson’s insistence, I began researching bipolar disorder and the ways to control it without medication. You need proper sleep, diet, routine, exercise, and you need a support system in place. Those are the main things. I’ve never had a support system, but I could do all the rest. 

I was still struggling with my eating disorder, but I no longer wanted to indulge it. I decided that my mental health and stability was far more important to me than being thin. I learned to enjoy food, and I found that I absolutely loved health food. I realized that I would not get fat by eating full, healthy meals every day (and even if I did, I decided I didn’t care). When my scale broke, I decided not to get a new one. I would eat healthily, focus on my mental health and stability, and not become obsessed with the numbers on a scale. 

I began doing yoga and walking in the mornings. I learned how to relax and go to bed by a decent hour, and I realized that I actually enjoyed my mornings when I’d had a good night’s sleep. Nelson had me going to bed and waking up at the same time every night and day. 

Having no job and no social life made me feel quite useless. I expressed my feelings to Nelson and he said that he could use my company every morning online at 9am because that was when he was having chemo. I have no clue if the real person behind “Nelson” actually had cancer or not. Either way, he gave me a small sort of purpose and made me feel like it actually mattered if I got up in the morning. 

Since I was so emotionally damaged, I was truly in need of more intensive therapy than a mere one-hour visit with a therapist once a week. Nelson talked to me every single day for hours on end. He gave me advice and guidance in past and current matters. He told me that I was worth something, that the abuses I’d encountered were in fact abuses and not my fault or deserved. When things got worse with my mother, I finally confided in him about how she treated me. He told me that she should not talk to me that way or treat me the way she did. He said that I didn’t deserve it, even if I was mentally unstable and difficult to get along with at times. He said that I had potential and could do something meaningful with my life- I had value. He pointed out my good qualities and called me out on my bad behavior. He didn’t take my bullsh*t and he made me see when I was acting like a child. He was harsh, sometimes more than necessary, but it helped me learn to think before I spoke or acted. 

Nelson was a hypocrite, but he preached a very real message. He taught me how to appreciate life no matter what my circumstances were. He showed me my own strength, and through that I learned how to access it. His thoughts and words may have held no personal meaning for him, may not have even been his own, but they were exactly what I needed to hear. 

Nelson and I spoke extensively about philosophy, religion, positivity and negativity. I didn’t agree with every single thing he said or every opinion he had, but he helped me form my own perspectives and opinions in all things. He insisted that his beliefs were always the true and right ones, but he never tried to make me have the same ones. He encouraged me to have my own opinions based on my knowledge and experiences, and he accepted when I disagreed with him. 

Nelson gave me courage to face my fears, coping mechanisms to handle my unstable emotions and stress, and a love for life to keep me happy. 

It was incredibly painful to realize that Nelson was a fraud and I had been hurt and betrayed again. However, I was faced with the choice to break down and give up on life like I always had in the past, or to utilize all of the tools that he had given me and know that I would be okay. I chose not to let all that time with him go to waste. I chose to appreciate the beautiful world we all live in and trust that there are plenty of people out there who will not hurt me, who will value me and someday love me. I chose to give back to my friends and anyone I meet what he gave to me, except that when I do it will always be from my heart and not from a selfish place of gaining something from them. 

I am stable now, I am free of medication (although I will say that I know perfectly well that medication is the right answer for many people), I am happy and I know that no matter what life throws my way, I am strong and I can handle it. 

I don’t regret for a moment meeting Nelson and being scammed by him. I kind of wish he hadn’t taken my money, but do you know how expensive therapy is? I would have paid a lot more for therapy from a real therapist. I am so grateful for everything I went through with Nelson. I am a completely different person today, and it truly is because of Nelson. 

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My Story, Part Seven- Who is Nelson?

Okay, I’ve told you the basics about my unhealthy relationship with Nelson and that he clearly wasn’t going to help me. This post will about who he really is.

 

I call him Nelson because that’s his handle online to “protect his identity.” Truth is, “Nelson” is most likely a woman, and certainly not the celebrity he claimed to be. I believe Nelson to be a woman, but I continue to say “him” because it’s just a lot easier and less confusing that way. 

I’ve clearly been quite naive and ignorant, but I have never been unintelligent. Throughout all of this with Nelson, I saved every conversation between us. I still have them all. Nelson doesn’t know that, though. We always communicated via MySpace or instant messaging. When he was promising to get me to that facility in New York, he had a woman call me on the phone. The number was blocked, of course. The woman was supposedly a therapist who would be helping me after Nelson got me. The phone conversations are the only ones I couldn’t save. 

She stopped calling me because I got in a fight with her. I was trying to back out of the agreement since nothing was happening, Nelson had taken all the money I had to my name, and I had to move on and start working on a new plan of action. This enraged the woman and she threatened to call Animal Control and have them take my cats and euthanize them. I lost my sh*t, truly. I am extremely protective of my pets. I made arrangements with a neighbor for my cats to stay with her if Nelson or anyone on his end tried anything. And then I lied to Nelson and the woman and told them that my pets were no longer with me and I would not reveal their location. I knew I could have them out in 2 minutes flat. 

After the threat, Nelson claimed to have found a different therapist for me. He pretended to be on my side about it all. Thing is, I’m certain “Nelson” was the one who called me in the first place. I asked for the new therapist to call me and Nelson gave me excuses again. He couldn’t call me himself because he was a celebrity and someone might tap into our conversation. He had an excuse for everything and for why no one could ever call me. 

Since I first became suspicious of Nelson to long after I knew for a fact he was lying, I have collected information on him. I confronted him with some evidence of his lies, and he responded defensively in anger and accusations. I had searched his photos from MySpace and found that they all belonged to other people. Things like paintings that he said his dead fiancée did, or cakes he said his mother and grandmother baked. Everything belonged to other people. He wasn’t even smart enough not to choose the first images he found on Google. I also found that his blogs were not his own. I also tracked his email address and found a connection to a woman who has lived in multiple states across the US. I know Nelson has stolen the identity of a woman up north, too. 

I scrutinized every single thing Nelson has ever said to me, everything he ever told me about his life and his friends and family. I’ve determined, in my non-professional opinion, certain things to be true about the real person behind “Nelson.” I’m not going to list all of that because it doesn’t matter unless you want to go track him down. I do believe that Nelson has some connection to the celebrity that he claimed to be, though. He knew too much about the celebrity, about acting and film, about everything to do with the celebrity. 

I have taken all the information from my amateur investigation to a local authority, so they have been alerted. I’m also taking steps to try to warn others of Nelson and his scam, because it’s not just the naive or desperate that he has fooled. He uses fear, desperation, intimidation, manipulation, faux kindness and empathy to get to people. I cannot stress it enough, Nelson is good. You don’t have to be stupid to fall for his lies. I have seen him fool a lot of people. 

Would you believe Nelson still contacts me? I don’t talk to him anymore, and he doesn’t know that I have as much information about him as I do, but he still sends me messages and tries to reach me. He still pretends to care and want to help me. Trying to back out of his help always resulted in threats and verbal abuse, so I stopped doing that. I instead just fed him all of the excuses he always gave me. 

He never wanted me to leave the house because he was always saying that he was coming to get me. He couldn’t get me if I wasn’t there. I finally started making things up so that I could go shopping or hang out with my friend. 

One thing I don’t understand is that whenever I had an opportunity to earn some money working for a neighbor or something like that, he didn’t want me to. If he was in this for money, why wouldn’t he want me to make some? If anyone reading this has any suggestions or thoughts, I’d be happy to hear them. His insistence that he was getting me and his determination to keep me from making any money was part of my conflict in realizing that he was scamming me. 

Also, I discovered a second investment (about the same amount as the first) that I hadn’t known about. I didn’t make any mistakes with that one. I didn’t have anymore hidden investments but the two, so I took it straight to the vet. My cat with stomatitis had to have all of his teeth removed. He also has to be on steroids indefinitely, but I’m happy to report that he recovered well and is doing great as long as he stays on the steroids. He is less shy, too. Shortly after his surgery, he climbed up in my lap purring and bit my nose and cheek. They were love-bites, of course, and he was toothless. This was huge for him. He had never sat in my lap or let anything near his mouth before. He also plays now. That’s another things he didn’t do because of the stomatitis. The truth is, the steroids he’s on may eventually cause damages and I would have to have him put down. But that won’t be for a while and he now has plenty of time to be happy and normal before it comes to that. Sadly, my other cat had stomatitis, too. Luckily his was caught early enough that he doesn’t require long-term treatment. My vet removed only his back teeth, and he doesn’t need steroids. He is also happy and healthy, and he’s completely back to his normal self before the stomatitis appeared. Apparently Siamese cats are more prone to stomatitis, although any cat can develop it – this is a good reason to get regular dental care for your pets. Stomatitis is not something you want to see in its worst stages. It can kill a cat because they can starve. My vet was impressed with the weight of my cats, though. I explained that it was a daily routine to sit down two to three times a day and make sure they both ate enough. 

Anyway, the bit about the cats was completely irrelevant. I just thought you should know that they’re all healthy now and the major medical issues were finally resolved. 

My Story, Part Six- Nelson’s False Hope

Before I begin, I’d like to say that Nelson was a very clever and convincing person. He was downright manipulative. He had everyone convinced – not just me, but everyone in my life and those online, too. I don’t think I can properly explain how he achieved this, but I’m hoping as I tell you more about him, and since you now know where I came from and who I was then, you might be able to understand how it all happened. All posts after this one should hopefully clarify even more, too.

 

 

One thing that pain inspires is creative expression. I wrote a lot of poetry. When I got my mobile phone with internet access, I joined MySpace in order to write my poetry online. I was too angry of a person to admit it, but I secretly still desired human connection, too. I joined MySpace and used the blog section to write my poetry and express myself. That’s how I met Nelson. 

I’d seen Nelson’s comments on someone’s blog and his words were positive and inspiring. I truly needed some positivity and inspiration, so I sent him a friend request. It didn’t take him long to reach out to me and offer to listen. It was, after all, fairly clear in my writing that I was “troubled” at best. 

So, there I was mentally unstable and at the worst point in my life, hiding away from the world in my mother’s hoarded home, alone, completely hopeless and directionless, broken inside from abuses and betrayals, and very angry and hateful. I figured it couldn’t hurt to talk to some random person on the internet. 

Upon Nelson’s request and encouragement (at times persistence, even), I let it all out. I told him about my issues like bipolar disorder, the abuses, and even my cat who still needed medical help that I couldn’t afford. I told him about all the doctors and therapists I’d seen and how none of them had helped. I told him about my living situation and how miserable the broken down place was. The only thing I didn’t tell him about was my mother. I left out anything negative about my mother because 1) I thought it was my fault, and 2) I didn’t want him thinking poorly of my mother. 

I had no idea who Nelson was. I found out later while reading his blogs that he was a celebrity. Now, I have never in my life been the type of person who pays any attention to celebrities. It’s not that I dislike them, but rather that I think they’re human and they don’t deserve to have their lives scrutinized constantly by the media. I paid so little attention to celebrity news or gossip that I didn’t even recognize the actor Nelson was claiming to be. That was a bit embarrassing. He was very famous and I didn’t know who he was. 

I thought it was pretty cool that I, some meaningless person in the woods, had a chance to talk to a celebrity and get to know the real person instead of the gossip spread in the tabloids. I made the mistake of telling my mother about this. She immediately pointed out that he had money, and she reasoned in her mind that he ought to pay for my needs (such as my mental health needs which are quite costly even with insurance). I got very angry. I said he was my friend, that I do not use people, especially not my friends. I said I would not ask him for anything beyond friendship and if he offered anything else, I would refuse. 

Well, it didn’t take him long to offer assistance, and yes, I refused. He insisted and literally fought with me until I finally gave in. I tried telling him that if he “really” wanted to help me, he could help me get medical attention for my cat. He roped me in by agreeing to get help for my cat only if I accepted help for myself as well. 

Nelson said that he could locate proper doctors and resources to help me, and eventually even help me find a place to live that was affordable and would allow my cats. Over time his offers grew. He was going to get me a place to live and a job that I could get to, mental health assistance, and medical treatment for my cat. That grew into an offer to set me up in a facility in New York that would teach me life skills and help me with my severe bipolar issues, a vet nearby that would care for my cats while I stayed in the facility, an apartment and a good job in New York after I got out of the facility, and even a college education. Out of everything, the very best thing that he offered me was family. He offered to make me a part of his family. This was all much later into our friendship, but he said that he felt like I was a sister to him. He said he cared about me. 

Months passed. Months turned into a year, and still he had not helped me in the ways he said he would. All the while his offers would grow bigger and bigger. He didn’t understand that it was overwhelming to me to be offered all this stuff. I tried many times to get out of it and just have his friendship and nothing more, but he wouldn’t allow that. 

Nelson was full of excuses. He had an excuse for everything. He would say he was coming the next week, but then when the time came he would suddenly be “ill” or his flight would be grounded due to storms or there would be a complication with something to do with my cats (the vet wasn’t available, etc.) or he would be previously detained with some career-related obligation.  He was also very intelligent and knowledgeable about legal matters which I knew nothing of. 

The whole thing grew into a huge, complicated, legal mess. Nothing was simple. He couldn’t just come get me. He couldn’t just simply get my cat and take him to a vet. In fact, he claimed my cat needed a specialist, and I didn’t know any better. I actually didn’t even know the name of what was wrong with my cat because my vet had only told me the “dumbed-down” version in order to help me understand. 

Throughout all of this, my relationship with my mother deteriorated drastically. She fought with me and guilted me constantly. She didn’t seem to understand that it was not my choice to rely on her to support me. I was an adult and I should have been living on my own and supporting myself. Well, I agreed with that, but I was mentally unstable and I had no choice. I didn’t have a car because my mother had sold it to someone when I moved down south, so I had no way to get to a job even I could get mentally stable enough to work. I was living in the woods where public transportation does not exist (no buses, trains or taxis).  Nothing was walking distance, and I can walk for miles. 

The trailer I was living in began to fall apart even more. Everything broke. Heaters broke in the winter, air conditioners broke in the summer, my stove broke, the oven broke, the toilet broke, doors broke, walls crumbled, etc. My water heater broke so I was left with burning-hot water when it was turned on or ice-cold water when I shut it off, but never both hot and cold water. I lost electricity on several occasions, often because the bill didn’t get paid. I went without food and necessities whenever my mother got angry at me. My stepfather threatened to call the police and have me forcefully removed because he and my mother were sick of supporting me. We all fought relentlessly. It was terrible. 

Oh and one of the worst things of all was that in all the time that I’d been living there, I had no way to get rid of my trash. There is no trash pickup in the woods. People have to take their trash to the dump, which is impossible to do without a vehicle. My parents would take their trash to the dump, but not mine. I don’t really know why it was such a problem since they had to drive by my place on their way to the dump. My trash accumulated quickly, especially with the cats and their litter boxes. I refused to literally live in trash, so I angrily threw it all outside. I didn’t have anywhere else to put it, so it piled up in a spot in the yard. It’s much like living on a landfill site. 

I surely would have preferred to live on the streets if not for my cats. I had to stay where I was because you cannot be homeless with pets. Even though my cats are “my babies” I was very glad they weren’t actually babies. I’d had a pregnancy scare when I first went down south, but thankfully I either wasn’t pregnant at all or I miscarried very early on. If I’d been pregnant then, this whole thing would have been so much worse. I wouldn’t have kept the baby, though. I would have wanted to keep it, but I would have had to give it up for its own sake, obviously. I did make sure that my cats never once went without food. I learned to tell my mother I needed cat food long before I actually ran out, just in case she got mad at me and decided not to buy it. 

I resorted to begging Nelson to follow through with his offers of help. I couldn’t take living in that situation much longer, and he’d dragged this on for so long. I asked him to at least come get my cats and place them somewhere safe so that I could try to find a homeless shelter. He insisted that he would come through for me and help me and my pets. He knew I had no one else to help me, that he was my only hope. 

I don’t even remember how I finally learned about this, but I discovered that I had a small investment somewhere that I hadn’t known about because my mother was managing it. It was only about $1000, but it was something. I insisted that my mother take me to have it liquidated. I made the mistake of telling Nelson about it and asking his advice in how to spend it. I knew I wasn’t good with money and I didn’t know if he’d be getting me or if I should use it to take my cat straight to the vet. He promised he’d get me soon and told me to pocket it and not spend it. 

Then he contacted me one day and said that he could have me and my pets out in four days if I could pay the travel fees for the cats. He said it was some legal requirement that the fees be paid by the owner. All my red flags went up and warning bells rang, but I was so incredibly desperate. I didn’t have anyone else to consult on the matter either. I wired the money to him.

Then I waited. And waited. And waited. 

He never came, of course. He gave me all of his usual excuses. He berated me for being angry. He accused me of not appreciating everything he was doing for me. He accused me of being selfish and not caring about him or his life. 

I finally realized that I had once again trusted someone and once again had been betrayed and let down. I was also once again completely alone and directionless. 

It was really hard to admit that I misread someone again and gotten myself into another messed up situation. 

My Story, Part Five- Finding and Losing Hope

My mother didn’t exactly have room for me. She was a hoarder, remember. Since I would not tell her why I needed her to come get me, she almost didn’t come. I insisted that I didn’t care where I lived as long as I had my pets, didn’t care what conditions I was living in, because whatever she had would be better than the situation I was in down south. 

She wouldn’t let me live with her, or maybe she couldn’t (the place was dreadfully hoarded), but she had a second trailer. I knew the second trailer was in poor condition and completely trashed/hoarded, but I insisted I could make it work. I could make anything work to get out of that situation. 

Arriving at the trailer wasn’t too terribly shocking. I basically knew what I was in for (or so I thought). I was thrilled to be out of the situation down south and I was simply tickled with optimism. I spent the first week there getting up at sunrise and working all day to clean the living room. There were 3 bedrooms in the place. Two were hoarded and falling apart and the third was hoarded with someone’s stuff who was supposed to eventually return to collect it. The third bedroom will be the only one I refer to because the other two were completely unlivable. 

There was so much work to be done in the living room, but I was incredibly determined. This is how “bipolars” tend to work: Low depression followed by fantastical joy. I’d gotten away from the drugs, the men, the fake friendships, the new hell I’d found trying to escape the last one, so I was high on all of that. Fantastical joy and optimism only lasts just so long. I had thought this time was different and maybe it wasn’t a “bipolar high.” The living room was so bad that I’d had to scrub animal feces off the floor. Have you ever seen the show “Hoarders”? Just think of the worst houses. But I got it clean! Not just clean- it was nice. I decorated the room, put my art up on the walls, secured a door and patched all the holes. My cats were happy and my “room” looked so nice that I was thrilled to invite people over. 

Then came the rain…. literally. It rained for days on end. I discovered that the ceiling in the living room leaked. It didn’t leak just a little bit, it leaked like an open sunroof. The rain poured in and eventually forced me and my pets out. The electrical outlets were smoking and sparking.  

With the destructive rain came my new low. Again, this is how bipolars tend to work- up and down, sometimes over small things or nothing at all. I guess it was in part losing my new “sanctuary” and being forced into a hoarded room that I wasn’t even allowed to clean. All I wanted was one single room of the place for myself and my cats. The entire place was hoarded and virtually falling in on itself. In reality, the room I was forced in to was at least the most stable. The ceiling leaked a little and there was stuff and filth everywhere that I wasn’t allowed to touch, but it wasn’t falling down. There wasn’t anything anyone could say to me to cheer me up, though. 

 

Okay, I’m going to quickly summarize the months that followed because I never really wanted all of this to be my story… 

 

I reached out to people for friendship and support, and continued getting abused, betrayed or otherwise let down. This was a pattern in my life. I dated a sweet girl for a little while, but she was only here visiting and she had to go back to Canada (foreign relationships also a theme in my life?). I took to drinking only to avoid using drugs again. I sucked down vodka like it was my life force, day and night. I didn’t sleep, I rarely ate, I lived off of coffee and vodka. More emotional and sexual abuse, more of everyone blaming me for everything wrong in the world, more feeling worthless, more heartbreak and abandonment. 

I reached a point where I wanted to die. Truly, undeniably wanted to die. 

There was literally only one thing keeping me alive- my cats. I couldn’t abandon them and I knew if I died they would be tossed outside or something. I was in the very worst condition of my life. I couldn’t see any way out at all. I’d gone to doctors and therapists (my mother helped me in that way, at least), but nothing could snap me out of it. 

I continually asked for help and no one ever helped me, so I just decided that I wasn’t worth helping. 

Oh and one of my cats developed a medical issue that I couldn’t afford to get fixed. Actually, he apparently had the issue all his life and I just hadn’t known, which made me feel even worse. It was hard to tell with him because he’s always been a shy cat. The problem was with his teeth. He had feline stomatitis. His medical problem and my inability to fix it made things immensely worse for me. I do not believe in having an animal euthanized over the cost of a procedure. It’s not right or fair if the animal can be saved. 

I spent a long time living minute by minute. I wasn’t really living at all. I was somewhere between death and life. 

Then I got a mobile phone with internet access. That’s when I met “Nelson” online. 

My Story, Part Four- Being an Adult

I moved in with a guy because I didn’t see any other way to get out on my own in any sense. That really was a disaster. As hard as I tried to make it work between us, my instability and him just being him created a dwelling of misery that I desperately tried to escape via drug use. He introduced me to cocaine. Other than that, I pretty much used/abused prescription pain killers.

When I moved in with him, I was in the midst of battling… no… indulging… an eating disorder. I rapidly lost weight, and energy, and then eventually lost my job. I actually didn’t lose my job because of the drugs or my issues (although I should have), but rather because a new manager simply disliked me and jumped on an opportunity to fire me the very first day he was left in charge. Funny really, since I was also a manager and could have fired him less than an hour before he fired me.

I was so messed up mentally that I just didn’t give a sh*t that I’d lost my job. I basically turned into my mother, except that I had a drug problem. I hid in my room chain-smoking and doing drugs. That’s all I did. Seriously.

I managed my anxiety and depression with drugs and cutting (self-mutilation). The guy I lived with even took to locking sharp objects in a safe when I’d cut my arm a little too deep one day. I was never hospitalized for cutting, but I was hospitalized once for a drug overdose. I don’t remember enough of that to even tell you about it. I was a zombie- couldn’t speak coherently, couldn’t walk or even stand up. I don’t know who took me to the hospital, but it wasn’t my “loving” boyfriend or any of my “friends” who gave me the drugs. It may have been my mother. She did visit randomly sometimes. I also ended up in the hospital once because of sexual abuse incurred by my boyfriend’s desires and my lack of desire for him (I was gay, after all). 

Finally I realized that I couldn’t possibly get enough drugs to keep myself numb and I had to try something different before I killed myself.

I was struggling with severe anxiety, severe bipolar mood swings, an eating disorder and a drug problem. I knew I needed help.

I went down south to visit an old friend who had moved away, planning to stay for a bit and find out if I could move there with her. I didn’t tell the guy I’d been living with that I was planning to move out. At that point I just needed to get away from the drugs, the mess, the criminal activity that was always around me, the misery. I discussed my desire to move and get help with my friend and her cousin who she was living with. They had an extra room and said I could stay there. My friend’s cousin agreed to help me get off drugs, find a job, get some therapy and help, etc. She even let me bring my pets. She knew about all my issues and how I needed help. The whole situation seemed like a dream come true. Someone understood and cared enough to help me. Someone who didn’t think I was a burden.

I moved in with my pets and spent some much needed time with my friend. After a while her cousin brought up rent and getting a job. Immediately my anxiety went through the roof. I didn’t feel ready, I was still suffering the effects of quitting drugs, still trying to get stable, but I knew I needed to do this, so I tried to stay calm and talk to her and work out a plan of action. 

I don’t even know how it happened. One moment we were discussing how she would help me, find help for me, so I could be drug-free and stable, and the next moment she was giving me drugs, telling me that I had a job and that she would be taking half of my earnings.

Let me tell you… people are not what they seem. She was supposed to help me stop doing drugs, not give them to me. She said she would help me, actually get me some “real” help. I was very naive, too trusting… You’ll see more proof of that as my story continues. 

The “job” she got for me was dancing privately for a man she knew. Apparently she had been advertising me to all of the men she knew.  

Once again I realized I had to get out, except this time I had no place to go. I “worked” as described above just long enough to save up money to get out. During that time, my friend knew what was going on and she blamed me, not her cousin at all, so our friendship dissolved. I was constantly surrounded by people, but so very alone. 

I lied to my friend’s cousin about  how much money I was making so that she wouldn’t take it. I hid it carefully and saved. When I had enough, I called my mother. I told her that I couldn’t explain anything but I had to get out. No matter how bad living with my mother could be, it couldn’t be as bad as what I was living with down south. She came and got me and my pets. We spent all night packing after my friend and her cousin went to sleep. I left early before they woke. 

I was right back where I’d started- financially broke, living in the middle of nowhere with no vehicle, jobless, mentally unstable and broken inside. So much for being an adult. 

My Story, Part Three- Adulthood

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. 

My Story, Part Two- Growing Up

It was less the trauma of watching my father die, or even his absence in my life afterward that made life so vastly different, and more the fact that my mother simply couldn’t function without him. She became as absent as he was. 

My mother tried, she really did. In the beginning she, my brother and I all went into group counseling (separate children’s group for me and my brother), and my brother and I went to a camp designed to help children grieve. I loved that camp. The counselors were nice and the other kids had lost someone just like I had.

That camp is also where I developed my first crush. She had dark olive skin and long, silky brown hair with eyes to match. I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to her, even though she was in my group. Totally off-topic, though! 

The counseling and camp helped a lot, but it also made going home more miserable. No one was there to talk to at home. Naturally my mother was physically there, but she was completely absent mentally and emotionally. She spent all of her time in her bedroom either hiding or sobbing. When we would go out anywhere, she either dropped us kids off or she sat alone with her face in her hands. Again, she did try. Whether her effort was for herself or for us, she did still try to get us kids out of the house and around other people. She continued taking us to Scouts, dance and sports. I know she tried to keep things as normal as possible for us. She failed quite miserably, but it wasn’t entirely her fault.  

When my mother finally started functioning beyond the constant crying and hiding, she became angry and vicious. She would lash out over anything. All the gentleness and patience that she had once had was gone. She was abusive, mental, and just an entirely different person. 

When she met my stepfather, she started finding some happiness again, but by that point she just couldn’t ever be the mother I’d once known. I was thrilled and supportive when she told me that she was going to marry her “friend” because I thought my old mother would come back. She didn’t, though. 

I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with my mother, but I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager and we’ve both suspected that she may also be bipolar. 

Because of the loss, abuse and neglect in my life, as well as having bipolar disorder, I became an incredibly angry and unstable person. I spent a lot of my childhood, teen years and some adult years balancing on a thin line between trying to get the most out of life and self-destructing.