I am the product of a teenage pregnancy, named after my dad's favorite stripper, and the daughter of two drug addicts. That's how I came into this world. My mother sobered up and left my father. He continued his use of meth among other things, along with the bottle...alcohol.
With a criminal record over five pages long, he has constantly been in and out of prison since I was about five-years-old. He would bring my brother and I around people, places, and situations that did not seem fit for children. Just being with my father on the weekends are some of my fondest memories though. That's something a lot of people don’t seem to understand; they just assume that due to the circumstances that the children should be taken away and the person is a horrible parent. The homeless for example, I understand that the situation may not be the best for children, but I know that I would be cared and provided for to the best of my parents ability and I can promise you that I would have rather been homeless than been taken away from my family.
So when mom became a single parent, and was just trying to provide a better life for her kids, she dove into her work, picking up shifts whenever possible to support us. My mother kind of missed the point, in a sense. I love her more than she'll ever know, more than I've even tried to express to her…but in her efforts to give her kiddos the best, she forgot to be there for them. And then loneliness hit her. She met an array of men and quite frankly, my mom's taste in men is quite bad. My mother went on a vacation with the man she'd been seeing for about three months. During this time, we received a call informing us that she has just remarried and we were about to be uprooted from our hometown in Missouri and again less than a year later to Alabama.
I struggled for so long with feelings of abandonment and rejection. To add onto it, my new step-father was verbally and a time or two, physically abusive. It hurt even more when my mother refused to have seen anything happened. My brother and I began to act out in school. It almost appeared as if the school faculty targeted me and took any and every possible opportunity to discipline me. While I have never done drugs, I had plenty of friends that did. While passing some pills from one friend to another in the hallway, he dropped them in front of a teacher. I ended up being arrested and brought to the diversion center for three days to await court. I was released and put on probation for six months. I had to go to alternative school for forty-five school days but returned sooner due to finishing all of my classes and good behavior.
Once back to normal school in my ninth grade year, I began dating a friend. We didn’t date long and I very unpleasantly but willingly lost my virginity to him. Not long after, he began completely ignoring me and I tried to talk to him, but it was basically over. Spending the night with a reckless friend, we snuck out and I got drunk for the first and last time. I was blackout drunk and have no idea what happened besides waking up with a front tooth chipped. My mother found out and it made matters for me worse. My mother was finally going to leave her husband and even moved us back to Springfield, MO for a whole two weeks. She went back to him. Not too long after though, we officially did leave him.
In Missouri, my Wednesday nights have consisted of the little building in Ozark, MO. You know the one, where you check in with your ID and talk to your father through the glass and a phone. Visiting the jail had become a normal thing for me. Wednesdays now consists of going to a simply amazing church. I have always kind of been an outcast, constantly feeling rejection from every direction. I march to the beat of my own drum. This feeling of being an outcast was still present at this church too. I stuck it out though. I've seen so much growth and change in my life which only the church and the amazing, loving people in it can be credited with.
Then, I dated someone for two years and we were convinced we were going to spend our lives together, but the Lord kept urging me to end it. I finally died to my flesh and desires and it killed me. I'm someone who really, really cares about people, and I knew ending things with him would kill him inside and that's what I was most worried about. I think that's where the self-hatred really set in. That's one of the journeys I'm currently on: learning to love myself, just as I am. I have and will never change myself to fit this world or to please others. That's one thing I was try to encourage in others, to not strive for affirmation from others, but to truly just be who they are. You don’t need the makeup or fancy clothes or any of that stuff. None of that stuff actually matters, people do. Who we really are inside. Our loves, our passions, our drives, everything that makes up what a person is on the inside. Our stories. I have always been an open book because I believe that's how healing happens. To say this is me, who I really am, what I've been through, that creates trust and a bond, a relationship. To say this is what I went through, and this is where I am now, that creates hope, inspiration. It shows people that when they think it may be the end of their world, it's not, you can make it past this, you can prosper. And it's important to let people know that you care, you really do and you love them.
I think if I could give advice to anyone, it would be to go slow. Take your time. Be still. Breathe deep. Take in the roses. Growing up is not a race. Though your pace may be slower than another persons, you are not any less than them. Now most days, people tend to rush into things and we forget to take in everything around us. We don’t really see everything nor do we appreciate it. Take a break, put down your phone, engage in conversations, look around you…look at all you have, how privileged and blessed you are. Take a moment to really appreciate all of it. I want people to be able to look back at my life and be able to say, "She burned with passion. She saw everything and everyone and appreciated them for their greatness and beauty. She truly cared for each and every person she met. She lived a life dedicated to helping and caring for others."
I'm currently back in Missouri, just passing through. I am seeing family while I'm here. It looks like my father may be going back to prison soon. I worry for my four-year-old little brother, for his safety and well-being as a decent human being as my father is filled with anger, hate, drugs, and a criminal mindset. I'll be flying up to Minnesota soon to go to a missionary school. I desire to travel the world, but what I really want is to bring others to Christ and to work in assisting human trafficking victims and the homeless. I am called to serve and not be served. I want to always strive to live a life of servitude and surrender and selfishlessness.
This story was prepared, written and submitted solely by Jaide in her personal capacity. The content and opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of 7 Billion Ones, Randy Bacon Photography and/or any members or associates of these organizations.