Three years, $30,000+, and a mother who chose a drug-dealing, wife-beating husband over her own flesh and blood fresh out the womb. That's what it took for my dad to get custody of me, and for what? A better life? There is always someone with a life worse off than you, right? That's what they told me growing up, as if it was their way to tell me to just be happy with what I have. Growing up, it was mostly my dad and those around him until my stepmom came in to take the role of "mom." Even then I got the occasional reminder that there was, in fact, another lady I was supposed to call "mom." That term meant shit to me growing up because I never really knew who to call mom. The biological choice was awarded custody of me because in NYS, any mother can get custody of their kids and good luck getting it from them. You could be a horrible mother, crack head of all crack heads, child beater of all child beaters, and you still have custody somehow. It's unbelievable. Trust me. I know because I was the child in the middle for years and years. My Bio mom, whom we'll call Susan for (ID protection of my profile) wanted custody of me for one reason and one reason only: DSS. And for those of you who don't know the abbreviation, it stands for Department of Social Services, AKA food stamps and free rent give away center. To her, I was a meal ticket and free housing. To this day, you'd never believe me when I say she'll admit to that very fact. I vaguely remember the good times, but for some unknown reason, no matter the age, I've always remembered the bad. I remember standing under the doorway and this unknown man throwing dagger knives above my younger sister and I. He thought it was funny as he held a cigarette in his teeth and laughed, throwing another. I remember waiting in the window on nights of school concerts with a "guaranteed promise" she would show up to support me and enjoy what I worked so hard for. I remember being late to those concerts because I was so sure she was coming. I remember being young on Christmas day waiting with my dad at Stewart's Shop for over an hour for her to take me for a holiday and her not showing up. My dad called and called and there was no answer until she picked up only to say she wasn't showing up to get me. Tears in your only child's innocent, yet desperate eyes. How do you fix it? You can't. She's going to remember every single bit of it all. Even the free milkshake the ladies gave me to cheer me up didn't make it better. It merely coated the way back to my car seat for the ride back home. I remember all the promises of spending the weekends with her and "no gas," "no money," and the no to anything excuses for years and years. I remember the anger you caused me and the depression that consumed me over the years. I remember the damage you did to me because you weren't the mom I needed you to be. I needed you there for a lot of things and you weren't anywhere in sight. I fought with my dad to defend you and told his wife she wasn't my mother when all she tried to do was raise me into a proper woman. For years, the fighting went on and so did the oncoming damages that are now what have scarred the only relationships I have left with my dad and stepmother. I fought so hard and so long with someone who could care less I was even breathing.
I went to college in the year 2010 and became friends with a lot of people and only one remained to stick out and not because he was a good friend, but because he later became my boyfriend. We were on and off for years and then one day my apartment was empty and he had vanished. I couldn't afford to live on my own so I was somewhat rooming with a friend who I later started to "see." One day after losing my job at one of three jobs I had to work just to survive, I ran into my former boyfriend. We hung out and ended up having sex. About a month later, I had moved in with my mother to try and build a relationship. I was getting sick and didn't know why until I said, "Hey, maybe I'm pregnant." The day that strip turned pink I told myself to promise one thing to this child and that was to be anything like the monster I was trying to mend ways with and to never abandon my own child. But here I was, homeless living with someone who I barely know but hope to learn about, no job, no car, no license, no nothing. What could I possibly offer to this child that would promise a decent life for them? I felt it was necessary to talk to my ex. Before telling him I was pregnant, he had stated he wanted to work on us and think about starting a family together after Thanksgiving. It only being October, I was trying to find a way to hide the pregnancy until November came and passed by. I knew this wouldn't turn out well and tried the honesty card. I waited a week and then decided to tell him about the "bun in the oven." His answer? Not what you'd expect from someone who just told you he wanted to start a family. He insisted for days that I abort the pregnancy and kept reminding me of all the things I already knew and that I wasn't ready to take on such a responsibility. I finally told Susan about what was going on and surprisingly, she was supportive of any way I took this situation. October 12, 2012 came and I had to be there at 9 AM. I threw up for the last time, for this particular reason. I got dressed and waited nervous and anxious as all hell wondering if he was right and that what I was doing was the right thing to do. I went into the office, sat and waited for about ten minutes until they said my name incorrectly yet again, and went with the nice lady to the back room. I walked in and felt all eyes on me. If I didn't know the feeling of being judged before, I sure did that day. I remember being handed the ugly hospital gown and sat on a cold table. It was so quiet in the room for what felt like forever and I could hear my heartbeat pounding in my head. I began to cry and think, "Wow. This child isn't even born yet and I already messed their life up by choosing to end it." I sat there and as they tried to talk to me through it all, I felt so distant and numb and could only think back to all the bad things I went through growing up. I saw that little ball of innocence on the screen and lost it all. I cried until it was all over and cried even more afterwards in recovery. I went to the bathroom and dried my eyes. I walked out to Susan's car and got in. It was complete silence for minutes and all you heard was the construction workers behind us. She looked at me and asked if I was alright, and because it was the first time ever being asked that question, I couldn't help but break down and cry it all out. She hugged me and I collected myself. She got me some coffee and we went back to her place so I could rest. For days, I cried and cried and didn't leave my bed. I just stared at the ultrasound pictures they gave me to taunt my mind forever. I finally got out of bed and started a job at Lowe's. Thinking this would clear my mind of all that was going on with me, I worked as many hours as I could. The time I went through the entire process, I was waiting for this guy to step up the way he promised and all I needed was for someone to be there for me, even if it meant to stand there and hold my hand for a bit or give me a hug. I'm the nice girl, though. I never fuss or fight the way I used to and three weeks after I was healed, working, and just getting by, he showed up at my doorstep saying sorry and trying to make it up to me. He stayed for a week and left. That was the end of that. I told myself time and time again that if I were to have kept the baby that, their life would've been brought down by me. I feel like I would've ruined his or her life. They would've been five-years-old this year. Five. Some days I still feel ashamed of what I did and feel selfish. Other days, I feel okay with it because I was selfless by not being a bad parent.
The summer of 2013, I dated a guy and he used me as much as I was stupid enough to follow it all. I paid off his house, paid for his truck, paid for, well, basically everything. It was such a stupid thing of me. He ruined a lot of things for me and then kicked me out when I found out he cheated on me with his ex, got her pregnant, and moved her in the same day I was forced onto the street. Luckily, I have decent friends and mine happened to have room for me. I found a job at Walmart and started looking for colleges, apartments, and everyday life essentials. A few weeks later I was out on a run and broke my foot. Just my luck, right? Walmart let me go and I was out of a job and money. I sold some of my things and applied to several jobs. I finally landed one in Utica. I would have to take the bus until I could afford to move. I finally found a place a few weeks later. I roomed with a girl I barely knew until I noticed a lot of my things were going missing. Take a wild guess there. I'm sure you'll figure it out. A friend of mine from high school decided it would be a good change for her to come out my way and find a job so we found an apartment in a rundown neighborhood. I was in training for a few weeks and in this class, I met someone who I soon fell in love with. Little did I know, he was keeping a huge secret. So, when I found out I was pregnant, I was surprised he asked me for an abortion. He yelled at me for saying no and refusing money. He yelled at me until he was blue in the face until the ultimate truth came out. He was married. Not only was he married, but he had two other kids. He blamed me for ruining his marriage. He blamed me for ruining his family. He blamed me for the shame his family would have over him for years to come. I was the reason his life was a mess. He later got over it all and "dealt with me," as he used to say. This lasted for two years until Christmas time 2015. At this point, he had put his hands on me on several different occasions over the two years' time, but this time was going to be the last time he threatened me in any way. He had taken my iPhone and scanned my thumb the night before and went through all of my things trying to find anything he could to be mad and yell. I was sleeping when I heard the door knob moving around. I yelled to him to please leave us alone. He took a knife and used the handle to bash the door knob off and get into the room. He began to yell and throw things around the room that were mine and packed up to go home. He was unaware of me moving back home when I was going to "visit my family" for Christmas; or so I thought. I had dealt with his ways before but not with my son so close to me, sleeping in the same room. He threw a huge bin and it broke into pieces. I looked to my left and saw that a huge piece had landed next to my son. I had never felt a rage so strong in my entire life. I felt as though I had left my body and this demon had entered. I fought back and he left. The very next day I got my bus ticket, filled my backs of as much stuff of my sons as I could, packed underwear and a few pairs of pants for me, and left the house with no intentions of ever going back. I never looked back, never second-guessed my decision, never thought for a second that I couldn't do this. I chose this life not for me, but for my son. I chose to run while I had the chance so he could have a better life up here with my family who will love, support, and cherish him. They help me when I need it and they are there to support me through whatever I need. I was in a dark place for so long. All I wanted to do was die. I didn't feel as though I had a purpose or no longer belonged in anything. I never felt together or a part of something and I quickly learned that a child isn't just a purpose for living, but he has to be my entire life's lesson as to what it is to really live and love. I learn something new from him every day. I learn that I do have value. I could have the worst day ever or so it feels and all it takes is the touch of his hand, a cheesy smile, him running to greet me at the door, or my personal favorite, cuddles with a movie. My son saved my life. I can never repay him. I can only raise him the best way I can and hope that someday he sees all that he's done for me and how much I've done for him. He is my purpose.