Too Smart for her Own Good

"When people say, “she’s too smart for her own good,” I really feel a connection to that. Growing up, I was an army brat, the middle child born to a loving but uptight mother and an incredibly stern and regimented father of whom I am not totally sure knew the difference between soldiers and his own children. We moved every two years or so, never really feeling like any place was home. My parents did their best though; any sports, music lessons, or any other extra curricular activities we desired, we were put into, I think to help ease our transitions into each new environment. I was always a straight A student without trying, I excelled at any activity I dabbled in, I was popular most of the time, and when I wasn’t, I was too busy to care anyway. I excelled in order to be noticed. I needed approval, especially from my dad because that was something that didn’t come easy. Alcohol was a polar opposite issue in my house. My mother rarely ever had more than a glass of wine with supper, whilst my father is one whom I had seen overindulge on many an occasion, always the life of the party (much to my mother’s dismay). Drugs on the other hand, they were in complete agreement; drugs are terrible, if you do them you’ll end up homeless! You’ll end up a prostitute and dead in your 20s from AIDS. Literally, these are the examples used to try and deter any of us children from entering the forbidden dark side. All was well whilst I was kept a busy bee, boredom was something I was not permitted to partake in as that is when little problems started. Not only was I an intelligent child, but I was curious and inquisitive about everything and everyone around me, often testing limits in order to see what would happen. Then we moved again. This time to Northern Canada. Yellowknife to be exact and that’s when I tore my own life apart, with the help of an extreme bout of teenage hormones. There were no extracurriculars of the caliber I was used to so I refused to participate. I was quickly bored and started hanging out with a rougher crowd. I started smoking cigarettes and weed at 13, I was drinking then too. By the time I hit 15, I had dropped out of school and had full time employment…my dad found out on his birthday. Rules became stricter, I had a curfew of 9:37 (yes, exactly 9:37), my parents didn’t trust me, I felt like a mess and that they didn’t love me anymore (this was the teenage idiot speaking. They loved me plenty, my parents were just lost and unknowing what to do with the once perfect child turned absolute nightmare). During this time I was diagnosed with depression, bipolar II disorder, and an anxiety disorder and medicated to the hilt where I was a zombie, everything numbed, my brain mush. I moved out and in with a boyfriend at the time. My roommates were four males who frequently drank, did a variety of drugs and partied hard with little to no growing up type inclinations anywhere in the near future. The friends that surrounded me were all from rough backgrounds. I tried to fit in, but really, what did I know? I left home because my parents didn’t want me smoking or doing drugs and I didn’t want to listen. These kids were often runaways or living with abusive, alcoholic, drug addict parents or in foster care, or on their own, emancipated with their own child or children at the tender age of 16. I was not one of them. I swallowed all of the pills I had left. I didn’t belong there, I didn’t belong at home. I had my stomach pumped. I spent some time in the psychiatric ward before leaving and moving in with yet another group of people. A family member in Winnipeg offered to take me in, get me away from the life I was living, an alternative to having to go back to my parents, whom I had so grievously shamed with my behaviour, I could not face. A new beginning! Except, one has to want to change. Things deteriorated quickly, and I was kicked out on my 17th birthday, no money, no place to go. I ended up homeless. I lived such a sheltered existence during my childhood that I had no idea that there were organizations and shelters to go. Instead, I couch surfed when I could, and when I couldn’t I walked all the way to the school I went to when I was younger and slept in the playground because I knew I would be safe there.

Time went on, I eventually found a place with a million roommates, and discovered the glories of cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy…basically anything you didn’t need a needle for, I did. I couldn’t keep down a job, nor a place to live; I was in a string of abusive relationships that I stuck with for too long only to ensure I had a roof over my head. I couldn’t take it anymore. I swallowed all of the pills. My roommate found me. I had my stomach pumped again. This time I end up begging my parents to come home. Still, I was not at my rock bottom. Living with my parents only lasted a short while. I enrolled in college as a mature student, received a huge amount of student loans, my parent’s paid for my apartment close to the college, and I just dropped out and used all of my loans to get high. I literally put $20,000 worth of drugs up my nose within months. When the drugs and money ran out, my lease was up and my parents wised up to my behaviour I skipped town, got myself into another incredibly co-dependant, unhealthy, physically and mentally abusive relationship. I swallowed all of the pills, my ex found me, called 911, and my stomach was pumped again. I went home. Once I had enough and decided to leave (really opportunity struck with a random stranger from the bar I worked at and he offered to take me away and look after me). We drove to a town a few hours away where his kind and generous demeanour suddenly changed to that of a controlling, angry, and horrific monster. He confined me to a room in his home for a month whilst he used me as entertainment for his friends, keeping me high or unconscious so they could do as they wished without too much of a struggle from me. One day, I must have pissed him off because he put me outside in the middle of the night with no jacket or shoes in the middle of winter, messed out of my head. I wandered about looking for shelter and end up knocking on doors until someone let me in. Bruised, broken, and in absolute shambles, I fell into the doorway and just prayed this person would help me. He drove me back to the town from which I came a month before. I went in to my old house to pack and after a couple of hours I decided to venture to the bar for a drink where I then struck up a conversation with a group. One would think I’d be leery of strange men and promises of looking after me, but I was desperate. No money, no job, no way out. We went on a three day bender. This is when I hit rock bottom. I woke up in a city 5 hours away with no idea how I got there. Instead of swallowing all of the pills, I threw them out. I found someone to let me use their phone and I called my parents, still high as a kite but knowing that I am not going to live through this life much longer if I don’t make an unequivocal change.

Thanks to the love of my parents, the help they got me, the support they gave me, and my own will to live and never go back, I rose out of the darkness. I struggled, honestly I cannot even remember the first month of being home with my family. I just knew I couldn’t ever go back. Finding help was nearly impossible; there was a 6 week wait list to get me into a treatment centre, because I’d stayed clean for 10 days on my own, NA said they didn’t really know what they could do for me, I felt despair. How was I going to get better without professional help? Somehow I did it. It took me years before I had a full range of emotion again. I didn’t feel joy or happiness or excitement like “normal” people. Until one day I started to and that was one confusing time! Emotions? What is this I’m feeling? I had to re-learn regular emotion which sounds weird, but it was a really trying time when trying to stay away from drugs but all I wanted to do was turn down the volume on the feelings I was having; they were too intense. Now, I am 14 years drug free, I’m working on a degree in psychology, I have three beautiful children, a loving husband, I own my own home and I just bought the truck I really wanted. I am getting my yoga teacher certification, I volunteer as board chair for a mental health organization, I have a job I love and I love going on adventures and experiencing life with my family. My parents never stopped loving me, and are incredibly proud of the person I have grown into, though I no longer feel the need for their approval. There are less days of struggle and more days of contentment and excitement now. There is recuperation. There is life after. It will not always be as bad as it feels in the moment."

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