Disclaimer: This post series is going to deal with very sensitive topics including suicide, abuse on many levels, and hard truths. If you or someone you know is somehow included in this blog series, please do not be offended by what I may write.
It is my life, and my perspective.
I want everyone to know where I come from and what I have overcome, and I believe that everyone is entitled to their own personal truths. I know that many people deal with hard things in their life, and you may never know because it is so well hidden, especially when it appears fine on the surface. Most people would never guess that I’ve had the life that I have based on who I am at this point, but I wasn’t always the person you see today. I hope my story has an impact on those that need it, and to know that you aren’t alone.
At work this past year, I met a new coworker who overheard me talking to someone about how much weight I had lost. She looked at me and immediately asked said “what was wrong with you? There has to be something wrong with you if you weighed that much.” I had never had anyone ask me a question like that so bluntly before. I took a moment and suddenly realized I needed to sum up my entire life’s problems in one sentence. So I just suddenly spoke the truth.
I had a physically and emotionally abusive childhood.
I had never been in the position of thinking about my life like this before. I didn’t realize that I could so easily pinpoint my weight problems to anything specific. It was like I suddenly saw myself from an outsider’s perspective. I knew what happened and why for the first time. I felt empowered by being able to so simply explain such a huge problem, knowing that I had now already broken through my previous pain and difficulty. I have told my story a few times before, but suddenly I knew in that moment that I was ready to share it in a new way.
My parents got separated and later divorced when I was around 5-6 years old. My father was addicted to gambling and was an alcoholic, which obviously caused many problems in the home. There are many things that I remember from that young, whether it was a nice policeman giving little Nigel a ride home because my father couldn’t drive anymore, or my parents loudly arguing while I sat at the bottom of the basement stairs, terrified. As you can tell, it didn’t take very long for life to take it’s interesting turns.
I remember my mom taking me multiple times to visit my dad in rehab. I didn’t really know what that was then, I just knew it was a place where he went because he was “sick” and needed to “get better”, but that it was different than a hospital. It was a scary experience and I remember how strange the place looked and felt as I walked through to the meeting area with my mom. Visiting a parent or loved one in rehab is a hard thing to do at any age, and I know that even though I was so young, it was a traumatic and memorable experience for me.
When I was around 7 years old, my mom had been forcing herself to start going on a few dates. She wanted to try and move forward with her life, which is completely understandable. She didn’t have a computer in her life at this point, so I am not sure of everything that she did, but I do know that she found a Christian dating phone service. I have a hard time believing things like this actually existed, considering the world of online dating that we see today, but I think there has always been interesting methods of meeting other people to date, strange as it may seem today.
I don’t know any details of how she came to settle on one man, or how many dates she may have potentially been on, and people she may have met. I do know that she eventually started a relationship with a man whom shall be called D. At this time, we lived in Edmonton, and he lived a few hours away. I believe they talked for quite awhile before ever meeting, but I think the total time may have been around 6 months. Soon after that, D convinced my mom that we should move in together. That move however, meant that we had to leave Edmonton and move out to a small village with a population of about 550 people at that time. We had to move away from everything we had ever known and loved. I moved somewhere and had no friends, we had very little money, and lived in a trailer park. I remember my first meal in our new home consisted of a sandwich made with wonder bread, a kraft single plastic cheese slice, and relish, all purchased at the local gas station of course. Yum…..doesn’t that just make you hungry. Ugh.
I don’t remember the exact time that we moved, but I don’t think it was very long before I started school there. It’s a decent sized school for the area, but it is definitely an all in one school. Every child is under one roof, from preschool to grade 12. I enjoyed most of my time at school there, and began making friends. I was always good in school, and was an avid reader, and could often be found having completed my worksheets before the other students, and then just sitting in class reading. Occasionally though, I would get in trouble if I had a Garfield comic book and started giggling, thus distracting the whole class.
Though I remember a number of good things about this time, I know that it was hard from the start, and slowly got harder. For instance I remember a time when money was so tight, that my mom went to the gas station with a single loonie in her hand to get gas, because that’s all the money she had. I know that she was tearful at the time, and I felt embarrassed that my mom was crying. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t as funny as I thought to only buy $1 of gasoline.
D has now become my first stepfather at this time. I have no idea to this day why this village was chosen as our home. It just was. But what would later become apparent, is that we had been taken away from our home and friends by a man who would soon become abusive in multiple ways because that’s what happens in abusive relationships. The aggressor will take steps to remove the victims from their support network, so that they have to rely on them and them alone. This continued to happen many more times as I will go on to describe in other posts, further along in the story.
It was in this village that D met a few different people who became family friends of ours. We had been to their houses a few times. I hung out with the son of one couple and one day I saw some things that made me very confused and curious, so I started asking my mom about it. She got curious and concerned and then discovered that D was friends with both a murderer in one family who had recently been released from prison, and the other guy was a pedophile who had been charged multiple times. Needless to say, my mom was shocked and angry that he had allowed me to be around these people. There’s a lot that I didn’t learn at that age, but found out later on in life. All I knew was that I wasn’t supposed to be around these people anymore. Occasionally, D would bring me along anyway because he didn’t care. I always felt very uncomfortable when I was around these specific people.
I say all these things to provide a little bit of backstory on the type of life that I experienced growing up. I think that everything that happens in a person’s life is important in developing who the person becomes later in life. Having written until this point, you can probably already tell that I turned out to be a very different person than I could have been. My story has only just begun.
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