Once Upon a Time, there was a young 15-year-old girl who fell in love with a boy. She was a freshman in high school and he was a junior. They met one day in the cafeteria while a group of people including her brother were hanging out. She noticed him right away; he was tall but not skinny. He had a darker complexion because his father was Cherokee. His dark long hair came to his chin. But it wasn’t until he spoke for the first time did she fall in love with this stranger. Another classmate handed him a cassette tape that he borrowed and he said “Be Kind Rewind.” Like the tapes at Blockbuster. She thought that was so funny and witty. And that’s where their love story began.
It didn’t take long, but this young couple was falling faster and faster in love. They were inseparable. From meeting between classes and hanging out at his home or hers. He lived in an apartment with his mother, sister and brother. His mother was hardly home but it was clear that she was different and didn’t care for her son’s new love. His sister was only a couple of years younger but had the mental capacity of a 5-year-old. She was very sweet, and his younger brother was a busy boy that hardly ever sat down. All three had different fathers but they weren’t in the picture.
Their love was fast, passionate and free. There was no fear, there was no hesitation. They were each others first and the connection was always electric. It seemed as though they were meant for one another. He completed her and had a way of making her believe in men again. He would write her notes, sing to her and would present her with red roses on a regular basis. If it weren’t for others they hardly knew anyone else was around. They built this amazing, crazy love that no one else could understand but it wasn’t always that way. They had troubles, they had struggles but it felt like they could get through anything as long as they were together.
A year into their romance his mother killed herself by jumping off a bridge into an inch or so of water. She was schizophrenic. Her parents took all three of them into their home until his sister and brother could be placed with their dads. She could never forget the eerie note his mother left behind with her things and when the police came looking for him to do a photo ID of his mother. Once they had his sister and brother placed with their fathers, they thought that things would calm down and they could go back to being blissfully in love. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only trial they would face. His sister was temporarily returned till she could be placed in another home because she was being abused and neglected by her own father and his friends. Then the awful news that his brother was left alone and involved in a terrible fire. He almost died several times. He suffered third degree burns over 80% of his body. They visited him regularly at the burn unit at CHOP. The burn unit was a horrible place to visit. His brother was so swollen and covered in bandages. If you left you couldn’t get the smell of iodine out of your clothing. It took months and months to get him healthy enough for painful skin grafting and then grueling therapy. His brother survived, but would remained scarred for life. They made it through these terrible tragedies and even planned to marry.
On August 28th 1999 they married in a beautiful backyard wedding and planned to live in the apartment they already rented. Now they began their life as Man and Wife.
To be continued…
I didn’t fully understand what it meant to see the pure innocence of a child until I had my own children. But this understanding also opened my eyes to the trauma that molded me as a person and women. I started off with a blank slate and as I had experiences my slate started to fill with thoughts and ideas that molded me. Of course all people have some level of positive and negative markings on there slate but it’s those traumatic moments in your life that seem to make cracks in your slate.
This is where my abuse left cracks in my slate. After 6 years of sexual abuse I was left with a big crack in my slate and it wasn’t until years later did I get the meaning of this crack and how it shaped my life. My viewpoint on men and sexuality was severely damaged. As strange as it may sound, which who can really understand the reasoning’s behind a persons reaction to abuse, I thought that the only way to get attention from men was to use my sexuality but I felt that my sexuality was a bad and dirty thing. This is obviously very unhealthy and contradicting. It opened the door to boys taking advantage of me and me not getting the connection between self respect and love. And if I loved someone I still felt the negative impact because I couldn’t associate making love as a positive thing. It was a dirty thing. Something that bad people did. And if I wanted to be intimate with someone, I was a bad person too. This crack has impacted every part of my life; from my teen years, my first marriage, my adulthood, my relationships and especially my responsibility of raising my boys.
Even as a grown women, I size up the men in my life and the men I meet and try to evaluate there threat level. Can I trust them? Are they big enough to overpower me? Are they going to hurt me? This leaves it very hard for me to trust men, especially men I don’t know or men that have hurt me, physically or emotionally.
This post has plagued me because of it’s sensitivity and some disturbing details. The only benefit from my abuse starting at the young age of 5, is that I remember things in bits and pieces. At first it started with my first perpetrator, someone close to me that should’ve been my protector. Till this day if you ask this individual about the activities that occurred he would profess it was two people experimenting. I on the other hand saw it all too differently. He was older and he was family. That equaled maturity and knowledge as an older person then I. After a short period of time my first perpetrator was joined by another family member and will be known as perpetrator 2. Most of the time the two would gang up on me while our families were in the next room having parties. I would find myself laying in a bed with my eyes closed tightly while my body was being fondled and molested till I cried out in pain. I was so confused but as the time went by I knew when the offenses were going to occur. I knew when I heard my bedroom door creep open at odd hours of the night or when I found out that a party was planned. I didn’t know what to do other then close my eyes, tighten up my body and wait for it all to be over. Once they were completed with their assault to their satisfaction I had very little comfort in knowing there will be a next time and I was powerless to change or stop it.
After several years, perpetrator 2 was no longer in the picture. This gave me great comfort. I thought that with this change the assaults would stop but I was so very, very wrong. My first perpetrator came up with a new game to play with me, against my will. It was time for perpetrator 1 to bring in his friends and offer up his younger family member as bait. Now the tables had turned and my original torture, which I learned to expect became a new and scary torment. Now I never knew who was coming, when it was coming and how severe the violation would be. I just remember thinking that this was never ending and I was doomed to be someones toy. To feel things that I didn’t welcome, to see things that weren’t for my eyes, and to fear things that no child should know. This is when I believe my view on boys as a teen and even my view of men as an adult was tainted forever. Not knowing what this trauma truly left behind as the perpetrators became bored and moved on. And the paranoia and mental torture of protecting my own children would haunt me.
Even as I write these words I can feel the ache in my gut for the little girl that lost her childhood and gained a permanent scar on her heart and mind forever.
I’ve thought for many hours about how to start my story. There are dates in my life that seem significant but none other then my traumatic childhood and the date I was diagnosed as Bipolar. Doctors will tell you that Bipolar comes on during your early 20’s and can be brought on by a traumatic event. This I have found true in my case, but in a way my traumatic childhood had already shaped my life in many ways and continues to impact me as a women day after day.
Just like any child, I was brought into this world with two loving parents and an older brother. I don’t remember much except when the trauma began. I was 5 years old and I fell victim to molestation from family member’s. I just know that it started when I was 5 and continued until I was 11. At first I didn’t understand because I was so young but then as I got older it was clear that what was going on and what was being done to my body was wrong. Like most victims I didn’t feel the freedom to reach out to an adult, even though my parents were involved and loving. It speaks volumes to the shame that occurs when your taken advantage of by older individuals, let alone family member’s that you should trust. I believe that these experiences started to sculpt the person I was going to become and the course my life took, even before the Bipolar diagnosis which came many years later and under different circumstances.
Over time I will explore the abuse I experienced as a young girl, the behaviors that followed, my formal diagnosis and of course all the in between.
Hi! This is me…… I’m not sure I ever really knew what that meant or what it looked like. I find myself in a time in my life that things are getting clearer. I might be on the verge of turning 37 but that feels like an odd number. I spent so many of those years denying and hiding the other side of me. And now that I’ve accepted and have identified this other side, I’m ready to truly start living free.
My definition of living free is finally saying, “Yes, My Name is Carrie and I live with Bipolar.” I refuse to hide behind the stigma of suffering from a mental illness and instead celebrate it, and be comfortable with the other side of me. This site is meant to be an outlet to express whats happened in my life and how I try living through it.
So welcome to my site and feel free to come on my journey and learn to also live free.