Before my mom’s passing after my mom’s death, you can say I went into a downhill spiral. I was always so concerned about everyone else’s thoughts and feelings. I was the child who would read the room and act accordingly to suit whoever’s in the room’s needs. I never spoke about my mom dying because I honestly thought it wasn’t real.
About a week or two before my mom’s passing, we watched an episode of her favorite Soap Opera, “ All My Children.” In this episode, they were all upset about the death of their friend/loved one, and they were all at the funeral; I remember the person ended up walking in the funeral, and it ended up being her twin sister that no one knew about who was in the coffin. I would constantly replay that scene in my mind and convince myself that my mom wasn’t dead and she would be confessing it was her long-lost twin sister- you can say I was in denial.
My mom passed at the end of July, so coming into the school year, I was heading into grade 8. It was challenging because my body was changing, my mom was gone, and I was repressing everything. However, you could have said I was a “ goodie tooshoos.” I barely got in trouble with the teachers; I was really into doing the best I could at school, making the “best impression.” Grade 8 was a blur; I had a massive falling out with one of my best friends; everyone turned on me after our falling out, so I had both classes of grade 8’s bullying me; I lost a lot of “friends” that year. However, the most significant memory that wants to flow out of me was when this boy decided to say, “ You’re going to rot in hell like your mother is” ( I went to a Catholic School- so suicide meant you’re going to hell). I remember I ended up getting violent with him; I yelled at him, said some words, maybe got physical? I just remember I made him cry, and he got so upset he ended up puking, and I ran away from school. God Bless her; my Grandmother was a channeler and could connect to the other side. My mother knew that I was worried about her being in “ hell” and came to visit her one day. My Grandma said, “ Your mom was wearing a beautiful white dress; she came in my room door just laughing and smiling; she was so playful. She ended up jumping on me while I was lying in bed, laughing away,” - Grandma said; my mom said a few words to her, but I do not recall. Our take on that was her reassurance that she is happy and in God’s hands now.
Once Grade 8 finished, I ended up meeting the wrong people and getting into the “ wrong crowd,” if you will. I never spoke to a therapist about the trauma I endured; I just pretended that I was “ okay.” I was perfect at making people think I was okay; I knew what people needed to hear for them to think, “ oh, she’s handling fine” meanwhile, I was crumbling in darkness inside. I did everything and anything to numb the pain but equally got a thrill. I couldn’t stand when people told me what to do; anyone told me to do something, I would do the opposite. I was mad at the world, especially authority figures, because they constantly felt let down. I would numb the pain in hopes my dead mom’s eye wouldn’t be staring back at me any time I was by myself; I would numb the pain out because I thought I was the reason she was gone. I would numb myself, screaming, “I hate you,” and seeing her looking back at me with so much pain in the rearview mirror. I would numb all the pain because I didn’t want to be there if I didn’t. I ached to be with my mom. Unfortunately, I didn’t lose my mom that day; I lost family. I lost the connection to my mom’s side of the family because they just stopped bothering me. I was too “ troubled” for them. Anytime I went over, I was met with accusations, judgments, and other things. My cousins, who I was close to, fell apart too. I also lost my step-brother, who I had known since I was five years old; after Brains altercation with Nicholas, his mom got full custody of her son ( rightfully so), that connection just fell. I also lost my connection to my family, who lived in my building. They ostracized me. I would be in the same elevator as them, and it was like I didn’t exist. I would walk in the room, and it was like I wasn’t there; I would say “hi,” and I wouldn’t even get a look back. All I could think was, “ no wonder why my mom killed herself” So with all this abandonment and hatred towards me, I numbed even more. I lashed out even more. Finally, drinking didn’t suffice anymore and hid my pain, so I turned to the more complicated, heavier stuff.
As a teenager, I had to get my stomach pumped out once because I tried taking my own life. I also OD twice; one time, it was so bad my mom screamed, “Breath, Christine!” and I started to convulse again. It was during the time I lived at my Grandma's. I was in so much pain; I felt like I was such a burden that I would go on binges, I wanted to die, but I was scared of doing it myself.
I did reach out and ask for help, but no one listened; no one took me seriously. Instead, the response I got back was judgment, accusations, or “ other people in the world have it worse than you.”So I would
go back to numbing my pain because I felt like no one gave a shit what I was trying to navigate from. Looking back, I was screaming for help. But, sadly, my family responded in the way they did to a 16-year-old girl trying to navigate life without her mom. The only person that was truly there for me in my darkest days was my Grandmother. Boy, did I treat her horrendously, but she knew, she understood, she had compassion and nothing but unconditional love. My Grandma knew I was screaming for help, she knew I had so many unprocessed feelings and emotions, and that’s why she let this teenager who hated the world and herself come into her house and cause the chaos that I did. Because at the end of the day, she knew I was a little girl who lost her mom, who was so lost and hurt and didn’t have anyone to lean on, talk to, to help her navigate these extreme emotions. I knew my Grandma was concerned about me, but I didn’t care at the time. Anyone that was around me, I wanted them to feel how I was feeling, even if that meant me saying cruel things. No one crossed me over, and they knew if they did, I would make their life hell. I wasn’t the nicest. Even in high school, I was bullied, I was picked on, people called me “ Halfbreed”, rumors spread about me, and things that weren’t even true. My own “best-friends” would call me the very names people called me at school but as a “joke.”
I had this one friend, and she and I connected so profoundly because her mom was sick with brain cancer, and I was there for it all, the final days of her mom's life, we were living in the hospital. As crazy as it sounds, we had so much fun staying at the hospital, exploring the hospital, we made a thing out of it.
When her mom passed, it triggered me. Her mom's funeral was held in the same place as my mom's, so all those emotions and memories flooded back. She was a good girl; she had a heart of gold. But, unfortunately, I messed that friendship up. Like I said above, I wanted people to hurt as much as I was hurting, so if that meant me saying nasty things, then I would do it- she got the worst of it.
In Grade 10, I went on an Outreach Trip to the Dominican Republic. I heard an announcement about my school’s overcom, and that’s when I decided “ I’m going.” My high school didn’t want me to go due to my lack of attendance, but thankfully my guidance counselor vouched for me and pushed them to let me go. I used the money I received from the passing of my mom.
This outreach trip humbled me so much. It’s one thing seeing children with bloated stomachs on the commercials, but to see it in person was just something else. We were building a house from scratch fo
r this beautiful family living in a shack that had a leaky roof.
Our group was split into two, the first group would work on the house, and the second group would be running activities with the children. When I was interacting with children, I knew I truly wanted to work with children- these children were such angels; they were so happy over a skipping rope. They just wanted love, attention, and to have fun. I always say to people; everyone should make a trip like that at least once in their lives.
I am super thankful for that opportunity because I genuinely feel it helped me open my eyes more, not to be so closed off and narrow-minded, and to remember that everyone is going through hardships in life; it’s your perception of it. After that, my family said I was “me again.” However, that didn’t last very long…