It's less than two weeks away from my 30th birthday (hi, fellow Aquarians, I see you) and being the ever-wordy lady that I am, I'm going to make a blog post. I'll warn you now that it's going to get personal and perhaps even TMI for some of y'all, but to those of you who it touches, who it relates to, I want you to know I'm right here with you. Those feelings and those experiences were tough. You're valid as fuck.
I'll start with talking about my childhood (bill me later for the therapy session). My parents were first-generation college graduates and they set up nice middle-income, suburban life for my older brother and I in the midwest. One thing I can't gloss over was the struggle that was growing up with a mother with physical and mental obstacles. I'm a firm believer that most parents truly do do the best they can with what they have. My mother was no exception. She instilled a thirst for knowledge in me, didn't bat an eye at my rebellious fashion, and took me on solo trips to the ballet and art museums that made me feel so special. She was also completely unpredictable and would swing from dream mother to a violent, scary shadow of the woman I loved and admired so much. The effects of which still follow me around to this day as I actively try to forge a different, more self-aware path as a parent. I can't even articulate how awe-inspiring everyone out there who is vulnerable and brave enough to break the cycle of abuse is. It's no joke.
As depression and a then-undiagnosed learning disorder (ADHD) started to take the wheel of my life, I could feel my childhood slipping away. At age 13, shortly after returning home from my best friend's house that was so filled with love between her and her own mom, I had decided to end my life. A massive bottle of pills later, a sense of panic set in and I staggered to my dad's home office to tell him what I did. He swooped me up and took me to the ER where I was restrained and my stomach was pumped. I was later transferred to a children's hospital, psychiatric care, to a group home, detention center, and so forth as trouble mounted in my young existence and eventually, I had ended up spending almost all my teenage years in the juvenile system, aging out, and becoming homeless. Let's pause for a moment for a deep breath. You'd think the worst was over, but you'd be wrong. That year I spent homeless was easily the biggest, longest nightmare I've ever experienced. I became keenly aware of how dangerous it is to be a girl in the world especially one without anyone to advocate for her and lift her up. Sexual assault being a big part of it. The light at the end of the tunnel was a chance at temporary housing and community college. I finally had a reason to keep going.
At the end of 19, I discovered that I was pregnant. I felt so deeply in my heart that my daughter could bring joy to someone, even if it wasn't me. I had met with an adoption service shortly afterward. Just a few months before my due date, I was in a department store and saw the most horrendous sundress in the clearance rack. I mean TERRIBLE. I have a real knack for anthropomorphizing and immediately saw the dress as myself. Discarded, weirdly fanciful and there waiting for it's moment. I bought it and bought into the idea of motherhood as my second chance. Naomi is almost 10 years old now and there's not a day I regret that purchase.
When I was 21, I had the same discovery. A positive pregnancy test. I was single, in school, and working so I had to make the right call for myself and Naomi. That choice was an early termination. I'm not going to tell you it was easy or that it was brutal either, because in all honesty, it was neither. It was a bizarre experience, but it was handled with such grace by the wonderful individuals at Planned Parenthood. They gave me my future back and I'm eternally grateful for that. I started dating my now-husband months later, we moved to Los Angeles (where I will forever call home) and two more children and a small business blossomed from there.
If you've read this far, thank you. If I dredged up some uncomfortable subjects for you, I'm not sorry. I'm sorry that you may have been through similar things, but I'm not sorry for talking about it. The demonization of things like mental illness, abuse, homelessness, and abortion is something I will fight against until the day I'm taken to the rainbow bridge in the sky. I'm 29, almost 30, and I've been served a new plate full of obstacles like living with Crohn's Disease, harassment online, and navigating motherhood WITH business (which was so optimistically stupid, but very worth it). I feel powerful even when I can't control everything. I'm confident as an imperfect parent, artist, wife, and friend. I don't LOVE that I have no idea what 30 will hold, but I'm ready for it. To you, my friends, I will end on this note: you may not have ticked off every goal yourself or society has set for you, but that is NO measure of true success. We all try and fail, rinse and repeat for the duration of our lives. Whatever makes you feel fulfilled, that spark of happiness, you take it and you run with it as far as you can. Don't let the bastards grind you down.