I was a depressed, suicidal teenager. My mother died when I was two, and my father remarried when I was three. He married a woman who’s intentions were not pure. She put on a good face in front of my dad, but behind closed doors she was physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive. For years my dad had no clue. She tried sending me away to boarding school. Told me that she tried giving me up for adoption but none of my family wanted me. I later asked my family and they all said it was a lie. I wasn’t allowed to express my thoughts or feelings. I had to conform into the person she wanted me to be, and I did not like that person. My step mom was cold hearted, and didn’t care about anything that wasn’t her, or her biological children. I grew up thinking I was a no body. My life had no importance, because this is what I was told on the daily. If the person who was raising me didn’t even believe in me, who would? I was obviously nothing. I would never find happiness, or love. I was told over and over that I would never be somebody. I would never be loved. Even if I had the chance to be a mom, which the dad would probably leave me, my kids would hate me just for the simple fact of it’s me. I would never be pretty enough. Or smart enough. Or skinny enough. I, as a being, would never be enough. Hearing this from a young age is bad enough. But hearing it from the woman who chose to raise you is just unbearable. You believe it. Without even realizing it, you start to look at yourself in the mirror, and tell yourself you will never be good enough. You don’t deserve to live. You should just disappear. Do everyone a favor and just die. And then you get to the point where you attempt to kill yourself by swallowing all the pills you can find in your house. It doesn’t work, and you wake up puking, asking God for forgiveness and saying you won’t try it again if he gets you through the pain. But you do. You do try it again. Four more times that month. At this point you’re just begging for someone to notice you’re in pain. You’re waiting for someone to realize you are not ok. But instead, the only reaction you get is, “Wow, you’ve been getting sick a lot this month.” You want so bad just to blurt out everything, but you know once you do, you will either be laughed at, or sent away, and neither one of those is what you need. What you need is love. But for some reason love just doesn’t exist in that house. You cry yourself to sleep, you beg God not to let you wake up in the morning. You’re so exhausted from being told you’re of no importance in this world. I was so terrible at being alive I couldn’t even kill myself. So what did I do? I turned to, well you guessed it. Food. I needed to get out of my own head, my own thoughts. When you cook, you have a lot of things you have to bring into thought, so there isn’t much room for anything else except what you’re cooking. For example, something simple like spaghetti you still have to think about it. It takes 10 minutes for the water to boil. While that’s going on, I’ll brown the meat and season the sauce. By then the water will be ready. Throw the noodles in, and put the sauce on real low. They both will be ready at the same time. For me, cooking became my lifeline. It was seriously life or death. If I wasn’t cooking, I was thinking about how I wanted to die. Eventually I got the help I needed. Cooking at home turned into my first job. My first job turned into my career path. I now am 25, own a home, a vehicle, have two kids, a dog, and am looking to buy a boat. Not only did cooking help me through the rough times, it also helped me with the good times. I have amazing people in my life now. I get told every day by the love of my life, also the father of both of my beautiful children (who love me as much as I love them), that I am beautiful and perfect the way I am. I no longer feel like I am worthless. I am now a strong woman who believes in herself. I am also grateful for the bad childhood I had. Without it, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am worth the breath I take. I am worth it. If it wasn’t for me cooking in my kitchen to get out of my own head at the age of 18, I would have missed all of this. Cooking saved my life. I mean that. If it wasn’t for cooking, I probably would have ended up finding a way to kill myself. Cooking is the reason I’m alive today.