Saturday, January 24, 2009

Torn Apart

The following is a recent story published by Youth Communication, a website where teens are able to tell their true stories with anonymously. It was bloody powerful and absolutely tragic.

torn apart by anonymous

Carried nine months by a drug-addicted mother, I was born into a house where I was only as good as her next fix. I don’t know what neighborhood we lived in. I only remember the reeking smell of piss in the hallway of our project, leaks in the ceiling, cracks in the wall, no heat in the winter and no AC in the summer. My little brother and sister and I slept on the floor because we had no bed to call our own. Our fridge was as empty as a poor man’s pocket. Our mother never cooked for us; we survived on the scraps of food that she left.

Stepping on needles and glass in my mom’s old apartment, the cuts on my feet bled like the scars from my heart. I wanted my mother to love me, but her addiction consumed her. It was more powerful than her love for her own kids.

As a young child I wasn’t aware that my surroundings were unusual. People were getting mugged and beaten in the stairwell, so the cops stayed in our building like it was a police station. And in our home, drugs were an everyday object. There was nothing shocking about it, and when I think back on the other kids in our building, I realize that we weren’t the only ones suffering with a parent’s addiction. But at the time I was unafraid, because this life was all I knew.

My Heart Got Numb

As I got older, the greed of my mother’s addiction grew. When she could not get her fix, or when she was forced to go sober from the lack of cash, she would hit us with a broomstick, extension cord, or anything else that she could get her hands on. She was desperate to find some way to forget about her own problems, something that would give her a rush, a substitute for getting that high.

The only time that our mother was able to show emotion and give attention to her kids was when she was abusing us. Otherwise, she showed us no feelings, no love. Different men would come and go from the apartment. As a child, I didn’t know what was going on. Much later, I realized she was probably resorting to prostitution. But it just added fuel to the fire because once she crashed, she would be right back to abusing me and my brother and sister.

We were like rodents, scrambling around to pick up her scraps of food and trying to stay out of her way. I was hurt and confused. I thought, “How could she do this to her own kids?” After a while my heart got numb. I felt no hate toward her, but I also felt no love.

My brother and sister and I became closer than the average siblings because we had to look out for each other in order to survive. In the beginning there wasn’t much I could do to protect them from my mom’s abuse. I couldn’t even protect myself. But we would do little things to try to comfort each other. Like if my sister was beaten, I would take the leftover food and give it all to her.

Survival Mode

Then, when I was 7, my mother’s addiction got so bad that she could not support her habit and maintain an apartment. She got evicted, and we followed her to a shelter in Brooklyn. The shelter was scary. I remember people stealing from each other.

I don’t know how much time passed, maybe a few weeks. But one warm day, we went out with our mother and she just walked away from us. We didn’t follow her, because we thought that she would be coming back. But she never did. After a while, we started getting hungry. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know how to get back to the shelter. That’s when survival mode kicked in.

I’d never been able to depend on my mother, so I didn’t really miss her when she disappeared. My main concern was getting us something to eat. When it got dark, we started walking. When we saw the projects, I thought we were home, but they weren’t the same ones we’d lived in with our mom. We didn’t know were else to go, so we followed someone into the building, cuddled up together on the floor and went to sleep.


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