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By Lenora Altom

By Lindsey AltomPublished 3 months ago 8 min read
Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

I am thirty-six years old and yet I feel I have lived several lives in just this one life. I started as this scared, timid little girl who was afraid of her own shadow at times but loved to play and explore. Oh, the hours upon hours I spent with my cousins from both sides of my family, both father and mother playing in the woods or the fields on my great grandparents' farm. It was in those woods and fields that I truly started to learn about myself. It was there that I started to learn I was more than just a shy, timid child. I liked to explore and learn things, I liked fire(yes, I was a bit of a pyromaniac and still am if truth be told), the woods were a great place to listen and to be heard by God, I loved to imagine a world in which things were different from my world and the woods and those fields were my place to do that. Things at home were complicated so I spent as much time as possible with my cousins. My parents had divorced by the time I was three and I honestly don't even remember much about them even being together other than the fighting. My mother started dating and then married my stepfather shortly thereafter when I was eight. My mother and my relationship has been rocky from the very beginning of my memories. It was not all her fault and I know that now. My stepfather intensified her already anal and narcissistic personality even though at the time he looked to me like a savior because he would intervene on my behalf at times. She was also very young and immature and unfortunately did not know better. I spent my childhood with her remembering very few good times and mostly with memories of yelling, arguing, her never understanding or accepting me for me, and raising my little sisters which came when I was eleven and then thirteen years old. It took quite a few years to work through all this trauma and some days I'm still working on it. My life with my father on the other hand was not all that bad. We would hang out, and watch TV, he taught me a love for weather and storms as we would chase tornados every time they got close to home, he also taught me a love for backroads as we would drive up and down the backroads most weekends, a love for cooking as we would cook together and a love for cemeteries as he would take myself and my cousin to all the local cemeteries to see if they were haunted. However, all that fun meant that he was the fun dad and he didn't handle my developing attitude as I got older very well. My snarky, smart-alek comments would be funny one moment; the next I was getting punished for being disrespectful. He and my mother argued and fought all through my childhood and treated me as if I were a rubber band to be played with; I never wanted to disappoint either of them but it seemed that no matter what I did someone always got their feelings hurt. It was a lot of pressure for a little girl. That is one version of me that I don't like to remember. The shy little girl turned into the angsty, resentful, bitter, depressed teenage girl but in that teenage girl, I found out more about myself. Around the same time I turned into a teenager, I also started dating my first love, Jay, and then found my two best friends whom I now consider sisters, Alisha and Mia. I also found a few other friends at this time. They would become my pack of friends and people that would get me through my teenage years which were some of my hardest years to live. I had no clue who I was, all I knew was that I was pissed and I wanted out of my mother's house. This pack of friends and Jay, my would-be lover taught me that I was someone to be loved and gave me a reason to get up every day. I learned that life could be very dark and I saw and learned all the ways it could be or at least I started to learn that. I also learned that my love for God was the only thing keeping me alive and I shared that as best I could. Once again, the woods were my reprieve. Myself and my friends went to the woods just to explore and be ourselves, to love and be loved, and to simply run away from our own miserable lives. I learned I loved to draw and write poetry and songs, I learned that I was fairly good at this and that made me happy. I began to explore my creative side in a whole new way. I learned to lean into that anger but also how to express and release some of it. Since the first thing I wanted to do when I got out of high school was get away from my overbearing mother, I moved in with my grandmother and went to technical school for a year with my cousin Candace. After that, I used Jay as my escape ticket and we married and I had my son within a year after that. Then, my new life as Army wife emerged as Jay joined the National Guard to take care of his growing family. We went through Basic training, AIT training, countless weekends away, and then a year of deployment. I rather enjoyed my life as an Army/National Guard wife. Jay and I tended to fight and argue if left to our own for too long so having him away at times meant that left us with just enough longing to be together that we didn't fight too frequently. I loved his uniform and found it very attractive that he was fighting for our country. It made him into more of a stand-up man and often in the harsh reality of civilian life, he let me down more times than I care to remember. I was left to pay the bills, figure out where that money was going to come from, and take care of the house plus our son. Jay would help out when and if he could and when and if he felt like it. However, when he put on that uniform things were different. He took things seriously when normally he did not, he was proud of his work in the National Guard and wanted to serve his country in any way he could, and he was proud to say that he was a warrior. I also enjoyed visiting all the different Army bases, having to have a military ID, visiting the commissary, and stopping to salute the flag every day when we were on the military bases; it all came with such prestige and I soaked every bit of it up. Soon, all that dried up though as Jay simply couldn't be the man I needed him to be at home and was dragging us both down. Our marriage ended and I was left with a little boy and pregnant with our second, a little girl. I was terrified as I knew I couldn't keep the home that we had just gotten by myself and he was supposed to help me but had bailed so now I had to figure this out alone. Instead, I found another man to help me and although that seemed like a Godsend at first it ended terribly with him just adding more narcissistic trauma to my background. I became a domestic violence victim along with my children of verbal, emotional, and mental abuse. The very things I suffered through as a child. This caused me to take a long, hard look at myself and decide what do I want the rest of my life to look like. In 2020, I started the road to figure that out. I began therapy. I decided that I was tired of being angry and depressed at everything that had ever happened to me and everything that continued to happen to me and I decided that the one thing I wanted and needed most in this world was peace. I also decided to take back some control of my life as I realized through therapy that my life is all about my choices. What do I choose to live with and what will I not accept? I learned about boundaries and enforcing those boundaries to keep my space safe. I learned and am still learning how to go back and reparent myself. I'm giving that shy, scared little girl and that angsty, angry, depressed teenager what she always wanted and needed- love and attention. In every situation that causes me distress, I ask her, what do you need in this moment? We're in this together she and I. It's been three years and we're never going to stop learning. I divorced my abusive spouse in 2022 and have never looked back after that. It took a lot for me to do so, two years of therapy in fact but I did it and I'm still going. I've enforced boundaries in my life with those people who have caused me trauma in my past and will continue to enforce those for my well-being because she deserves this. This is my life and I choose how this story will end.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

HumanityTeenage yearsFriendshipFamilyChildhood

About the Creator

Lindsey Altom

For me, writing runs in the blood. I've wrote songs, poems and short stories ever since I was a little girl. I mostly like to write about my life experiences mixed with a little fiction or just things that come off the top of my head! :)

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  • Shirley Belkabout 24 hours ago

    Thank you for sharing! Good for you for actively pursuing a better mental health!

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