Excuse Me...Can You Tell Me Who I Am?” by Nicole

Let’s start when I was ten. That’s when the “black cloud” first seemed to descend upon me. I was having a bit of a problem “in my own skin.” I had gained weight and the kids did not seem to think too much of me, but there was something more to it. I felt different. I felt sad. I remember always coming home and locking myself in my room, and collapsing into a state of tears. That’s when the “evil” began. As I grew a bit older into adolescence, let’s say twelve, I was starting to feel comfortable within my skin. I lost a lot of weight, and started to evolve like every adolescent does. Boys were my main priority, and one caught my eye...the wrong one.

Let’s call him John for now to keep identities safe. John seemed to be a gentleman, but things soon changed. He became abusive; mentally, physically, and sexually. The abuse went on for at least two years. I felt I wasn’t worthy of someone treating me any better than the way I was being treated. I was tired of being scared of a guy. I was tired of someone telling me I wasn’t worth anything, and that no one else would ever want me. And yes, I was tired of being thrown down brick stairs, having my arms pinned behind me, and having my legs punched. I was covered in bruises that could be concealed under my clothes...very conveniently. That’s when the cutting began. I remember dragging that sharp object over my skin for the first time. My skin open up, blood poured out, and I was hooked. As I wrapped my hand in a bath towel to catch the blood, I thought to myself, “Oh, what freedom.” I felt as if I were flying. It was going to be a long time before I would let that go.

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With the scars on my hands, arms, legs, and ankles, I took a more powerful role. Although scared, I confronted John one day. I told him this wasn’t working out anymore. His anger flared and as he went to get in my face, I punched him right in the nose. The blood now gushed from his face. “Ha!” I thought to myself. Now get the f@#% out of here. It was hard in school with John always there. I went on anyway. Then while I was working at my parent’s garden center, I ran into another guy. Let’s call him Ron. Oh, what a “Bad Ass.” I had to know more about him. As I entered his world, something changed. I felt accepted…I felt welcomed…I felt alive. Along with “Bad Ass Ron” came the drugs.

I was introduced to ecstasy, soon to become my very best friend. As I swallowed the pill, I did not know what to expect. What came next was a rush of perfection. “What is this pill that just completely fixed everything that I felt was wrong with me?” I felt a feeling of satisfaction to its “max,” and the void inside of me was instantly filled. Ecstasy became an “everyday thing.” I made sure to never let this perfect drug leave my body. Now, as some of you may know, along with ecstasy comes sex. That was a problem because at sixteen years old, I found out that I was pregnant. What was I to do? I was addicted to drugs, and still a child myself. Ron started to become distant, and said he would take me to the clinic...but that maybe we shouldn’t hang out after that anymore. I was so sad. I thought we loved each other. Stupid girl. What was I thinking? He just wanted someone to get high with. He holds a spot on my ankle in the shape of an “R” (more cutting). That’s when I was diagnosed with depression, and started to see a therapist.

I went back to school not knowing what to do. I was looking for my “Knight in Shining Armor,” and there he was; walking into homeroom that morning. He stood medium height, cut body, and beautiful green eyes. He sat in front of me. I could feel myself start sweating. He turned around and said, “Hi my name is Tom.” I stopped breathing but squeezed out a, “Hi, my name is Nicole.”

As the days went on, I was still sad, but couldn’t stop thinking about Tom. “Who was this guy that miraculously made me feel like I was flying, and dancing at the same time?” I was intrigued by one guy, and had another man's baby growing inside of me. Tom came up to me a couple days later, and asked if I’d like to hang out after school. I jumped at the chance. We started to get closer, and closer, hanging out all the time. I told Tom I was pregnant. He told me he would be there to help me out if I needed it.

Two weeks later, I did the only thing I felt was right. I had an abortion. It was a scary endeavor walking into the abortion clinic as protesters yell at you calling you a slut and a baby killer. It was even more difficult because I had to pay for the $350.00 dollar abortion. Yes, Ron was there to take me to the clinic, but he told me that he needed the money in his bank account to go to the club later that night. I was engulfed by anger, and couldn’t believe that someone could be so heartless. I stopped talking to him after the abortion. He called me the night of the abortion before he went to the club. “Thanks a lot, Buddy,” I thought to myself.

Back at school, I was no longer pregnant, and I had my eyes on a “better prize.” I had found the person who completed the “missing” half of me. Many people told me to be careful with Tom because he was a player, and probably wouldn’t keep me around for long. People warned him that I was the same way as I had been i.e. a little “playerish” in between John and Ron. We didn’t listen to the respective warnings, and established a steady relationship. I fell in love with Tom, but I also had a lover from a previous relationship…ecstasy. It became a part of the relationship between me and Tom. We went on for about two years; just me, Tom, and Ecstasy. We would lock ourselves in his room over the weekend, and enjoy each other and the drug. It was great fun for a long time, and then something happened.

Tom was concerned with my preoccupation with the drug. He wanted to do other things without ecstasy, and maybe without me. All I wanted was my drug, and to be with him. He started to hang out more so with his friends.

Then the day came when I had cut school for the “millionth time.” I went to his house while he was in school. Now, I am not a creep. He knew I would go to his house, and wait for him to get home. He recommended I go there if I weren’t staying in class. I walked into his room, and saw the answering machine blinking. Something came over me; “Play the message, Nicole.” I did, and the girl’s voice I heard shook my world. She was asking for Tom to call her back. Who is this girl? What does she want? Where did she get his number? Well, a little detective work revealed that he had gone to a party, kissed this girl, and gave her his number. He had even told her he didn’t have a girlfriend. Ouch!

When I confronted him, he cried. I cried, and I said it was over. However, that’s not what I wanted. I wanted our perfect relationship back. He completed my sentences, and thought just like me for crying out loud. We stopped talking, and then his “new, older girlfriend” came along. Oh, I was not happy. I heard they were snorting cocaine together, and that’s where my life took a turn for the worse.

I had this “brilliant” idea that if I did cocaine, it would bring him back to me. So, I went for a ride on the “coke train.” Disillusioned, I walked into his house, and into his room only to find Tom with the new girl. I flipped. I grabbed a quarter out of my pocket and scratched his shiny sports car all over the hood, the doors and the trunk. He saw what I had done, ran to my car, and kicked the side panel in. Anger filled both of us. We were yelling out anything just to hurt the other. It was awful, and we both felt that hurt. In school the air between us was “dark,” and my void had returned once again. That’s when the first suicide attempt comes in. I swallowed many Tylenol pills hoping not to wake up. One problem: I didn’t take enough. So I simply felt much more horrible. I woke up the next morning, and thought “...damn it, I’m alive.”

I got kicked out of high school three months before Graduation Day. I was out of control. No teacher could control me, nor get me to come to class. Tom went to college after high school. I felt left behind. I was nineteen years old when I got a call from Ron. He was so apologetic for the way he had acted three years earlier. He told me he “cleaned himself up,” and that he would love to see me again. What did I have to lose? My life was a total mess at that moment. I agreed. We had a good relationship for a while, but my cocaine use became a problem for him. He told me I had to calm down with it or he would leave. “Whatever,” I thought. Then my irresponsible lifestyle caught up to me once again. Oops! I was pregnant again. OMG. The same guy twice. You would have thought that I had learned my lesson. At this point, I didn’t care about life at all. Here comes abortion No. 2. Ron was there physically and emotionally for that one. As for me; I just wanted my coke. My mentality was get the kid out, so I can get high.

Ron left me shortly thereafter because all I cared about was coke. After that, I went crazy with drugs. It was a lot of cocaine, beer, marijuana and anxiety meds. Then came the call from Tom. He was home from school and he wanted to see me. We met up and it was like he had never left. He told me he was seeing a girl at school, but it wasn’t anything serious. We were back in each other’s arms, smiling once again. My void was filled again. He would come home from college. I would go see him (and his new girlfriend) at college. We would do “unholy things” and well…you know how it goes.

Tom then decided to go into the Navy.

I knew I wouldn’t be seeing much of him as his new girlfriend had caught word of our “secret” relationship. Then, I found out I was pregnant again. I know...you’re thinking, “Is this girl serious? Like, get some sort of birth control.” As I said, I was an addict. I wasn’t thinking at all. I set up abortion No. 3 without telling Tom. I just didn’t need the drama. I know, my life was drama in and of itself, but I didn’t want to interrupt his life. Months later, (when he found out through a friend), he was destroyed. He told me I shouldn’t have had the abortion, and that we could have been together. He would have come home.

Well...too late. I told him there was nothing I could do. When Tom left my heart died. The sun died along with it. Emotionally, the pain I felt was equal to that of the tearing of flesh.

He enlisted in the Navy, married the girl he met in college, had two kids, and I didn’t hear from him again until many years later when I found out his heart had also died when he left me. As I clutched my “cure” in my hand, I fell into the darkness. I was out of control once again. Had I ever been in control? No! I did any drug I could get my hands on i.e. LSD, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, Ketamine, and Adderall. I was a junkie, and I only associated with junkies. I had gained almost one-hundred pounds, and felt horrible. You’d think I would have been thin from all the drugs, but no. I was headed for death; diagnosed bipolar, and wanted to die. I was having panic attacks, and my mood was “up and down.”

My depression was severe. My mania was unstoppable, and incredibly high. I could not grasp reality. I was insane, or at least I felt that way. I was convinced I was an insomniac. I hallucinated, and attacked anything that moved. My mental state was out of control...just like my drug problem.

My second suicide attempt occurred when I was twenty-one years old. I emptied bottles of pills into my mouth. I was intoxicated with cocaine and alcohol. That’s when the “dark cloud” hit hardest. My parents knew I was a failure. They couldn’t control me. My poor little brother had a junkie for a sister, and I was messed-up beyond belief. As I ingested the pills, I thought this was T-H-E answer.

It was the night of my twenty-first birthday. I didn’t want to be alive anymore. By 8:00 AM the following morning, I was throwing up and couldn’t walk. I crawled out of my room and yelled for my brother. He looked at me at fourteen years old, and said, “What’s the matter?” I still remember his eyes to this day. He looked so confused. I said, “you have to call Mommy.” He did and she took me to the hospital. While there they weren’t sure what to do with me, the pills had already passed into my blood. They were no longer in my stomach. I drank charcoal. Then I was told that my kidneys weren’t working very well.

Great! What have I done? Did I really want to die? Then I passed out. I felt like I were floating. Then I saw a light and heard my grandmother's voice. She said, “Not now, it’s not your time.” All of a sudden, my eyes popped open and I was throwing-up. My Mom was trying to help me, and nurses were running about. I was alive. Now what? Well, it took days to sleep off the effects of all those pills.

I was then sent to a psychiatric ward down the road. How did I end up here? I was so vibrant and full of life. Now, I'm an empty shell of a young woman. I left the psych ward and went on into my “darkness.”

I hung around with anyone that had drugs, or wanted to do them with me. I did anything for my drugs. I sold anything including the one thing that is most important to every woman. I was down...far down. I wanted to stop falling, but couldn’t. All I would do was hope that Tom would come save me. It never happened. My parents eventually had enough of my outbursts and dangerous ways of living. I was told that I had to go to rehab, or I would need to leave the house. With my bags packed, I ended up at Caron, a rehab center in Pennsylvania. There, I learned how to live without drugs. I was doing great, and the brightness in my eyes was reappearing once again.

I came home and it was hard. Who was I? What did I want to do with my life? The answer didn’t come soon enough, and I relapsed. I started falling again. Then, there was my “savior” in the beer tent at a carnival. I know what you’re thinking “Here we go again...another loser.” His name was Matt. When I saw him, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He reminded me of someone I once knew. We became close. He wasn’t into drugs, and that saved my life. He taught me it was OK to live in reality. I did use in the beginning of our relationship. Then, I awoke one day to find I was completely tired of it. I stopped doing drugs. As of the writing of this story, I have been clean for three years and four months.

I ended up marrying Matt. We have a two year old son. I have a good life. Matt understands my past, and how it still affects me at times. He is a great father, and gets along very well with the most important people in my life: my brother, my sister, my Mom and Dad. Matt and I have also had our problems (a “bout” of infidelity on his part), but we worked through them. I have learned that love is not black and white. There are shades of gray. I also learned that throughout my entire life, I was searching for someone who could tell me who I was. I learned that's not the way it goes.

You must find yourself, love yourself and heal yourself. One cannot fill a void with drugs, or only another human being. One must work through it. Eighteen months ago, I decided I wanted to be a Therapist/Psychologist. I have started college. I see a great therapist now, and I aspire to help people the way she has helped me. I am also about to begin volunteer work by helping sexual assault victims.

The life I have now is filled with sunshine (the memories still cloud my vision sometimes). I have a beautiful son. I wouldn’t give up this life for anything. I am motivated, and focused. I hope to help men who are coming back from war. I want to help them fight any demons that may be weighing them down. I would love to be a psychologist on a military base.

I stand “a proud” five foot-two inches tall / one-hundred ten pounds, and have evolved into who I want to be. I didn’t need a man, or drugs to figure this out. I just needed a little “light” from within me. I am happy. I thank my family for everything they went through, and everything they’ve done for me. I love you all.

If you’re in a dark place right now, reach inside, and find that light. God put it in all of us. So let it shine as bright as I’ve seen that it can.

Life is filled with hurdles...jump them. Nicole, 2010

TONY'S NOTE: Finding yourself, loving yourself, and healing yourself...a much needed starting point. Look for the light within you...jump over the hurdles.


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