My life, like everyone else’s, had its ups and downs. My brother and I would take turns spending weekends with both grandmothers’; go to church, to the library, do some baking and play games. We had the best time with them. While at home, everyone would be quiet, doing their own thing. Usually during birthdays or holidays is where you’d find us happy, joking and enjoying our time together.
It wasn’t until years later, I discovered why we spent so much time away from our parents. My father had been diagnosed with manic depression during his teenage years and we didn’t know this until I was in high school. My father had a back injury at work when I was one years old and became addicted to the prescription medication for 15 years. As the years went by his anger and abuse had gotten worse, suicide attempts began; therefore, we were sent away on weekends and mom told us it was to protect us.
When I was old enough to date, it seemed like my father and I fought more and more, as I wanted to live my life and I was rebelling. The breaking point was when I was 28 years old and dating a guy 14 years older. We did the opposite to what my father wanted and continued seeing each other. Eventually we asked him for his permission to get married; he said no. We refused to stop seeing each other, my parents and I continuously fought over it until my father kicked me out of the house. With three garbage bags full of clothes, which is all I was allowed to take, I left, with no where to go. I spent the night at the daycare centre I worked at. My boyfriend and I did get married a year later.
I hadn’t spoken to my family in eight months; I received a call from my mother saying dad was sick in the hospital; cirrhosis of the liver, with two weeks to live. After all the hurt, painful words, abuse my father put on all of us, he was still my father and yes, I did love him dearly. I visited my father later that day and my father and I made amends. A week later I visited him for the last time, I walked in the room just as he passed away; I felt the last twitch while holding his hand. I’d like to think he was waiting for me to come see him one last time.
Years had passed, my daughter was born, and the true colours were coming out in our marriage. For 12 years, I lived with someone who was narcissistic, jealous, demanding and controlling; my mother always told me I had married my father. We eventually separated and a few years later, I met my current partner; who also lives with mental illness, anxiety, OCD and depression. I haven’t been diagnosed but I know I live with PTSD.
I always had this thought in my head,” When is this ever going to end?” It did, 40 years later!
Here we are, in 2017, and with everything I have experienced in my life, I became a mental health advocate. Based on my lived experiences, I have been able to help people all around the world who has lived with domestic abuse, addictions and mental illnesses. I volunteer with numerous mental health organizations and write articles for mental health blogs.
My life is full of contentment, love, family and friends and now am closer than ever to my mother and brother. I’m also in a relationship where we have everything in common, we support each other, have fun and we’re living life!
When I was younger, I never thought I would have a happy life. I always thought what I experienced as a child was normal. Now I know different.