I grew up in a sheltered community of religious fanatics in which there was no room for error, except by the time I was four years old, my best friend had taught me all I needed to know about how sex worked via Barbie dolls. However, at the age of eleven, we left Jehovah’s Witnesses, but in my case, the damage had already been done. I began to experience freedom. Everything was great—at first. I was still on the honor roll. I won the lead in my first Christmas play. Then, I found a new set of friends.
One day one of my friends from school asked if I wanted to meet someone. He was 21 and at the local high school. He would visit me every day before and after school. The changes were subtle. I displayed anger at home, and there was no more playing Barbie for me. Then, one day we decided that I would go to his house. As the day approached on my calendar, anxiety engulfed me, but he was my boyfriend, and he loved me. These are the thoughts that had been planted in my head. Then, the day came where I walked to his house one morning instead of going to school. At his house is where I lost my virginity, but I lost so much more that day. It changed me. That day was the beginning of my hell. Although I was an eleven-year-old child, I was held accountable for what happened—at least that is how I felt. What happened was my fault was the lie I began to accept. Years later, I learned to accept that what happened to me was not love! I read one day that if a nine-year-old walked down the street butt naked holding a sign that said “take me,” she should not be touched, because she is still a child. I had to train myself that what happened to me was not consenting or my fault—I was a child! Memories of the forceps used in the rape kit tore my skin worse than my “boyfriend.” I soon fell into a deep depression. I had entered the world of childhood and womanhood faster than my mind could process. It was one thing to play or talk about sex with dolls than to actually experience it. These turn of events resulted into what would be my first nervous breakdown, as I was pulled from school and inundated with therapy and lawyers and court, all the time processing that this was my fault. No child should have to experience this. Within six months, I was diagnosed Bipolar.
Now that I had my label my life only seemed to go downhill. From the age of twelve to seventeen, I was hospitalized form one mental health facility to the next. There are events that happened in my family of which I have no recollection, but with a mentally ill and traumatized child who was constantly crying and suicidal, what was a mother to do? Those were the circumstances my mother faced, and she did what she could to hold on to her sanity and restore and proactively try to restore mine. The true effects of what happened to me, soon began to show it’s ugly little head.
As a teen, I was a wild child. I was spiraling completely out of control. I withdrew from high school. I enrolled in GED classes—soon stopped attending—hung out with my friends or did nothing. I could not keep a job, and my behavior was causing conflicts at home. I slammed doors and can still remember the near-shattering sound of the front door after staying out late with my friends. I dated guys twice my age. I felt my life was hopeless. After frequent fights with my mother and sister, I ran away. Returning home a day or so later, I decided to live with my sister in North Carolina. Life seemed to get better there. I baby-sat my nephew in the daytime, took GED classes in the evening, but at night the wild child continued to flourish. I partied hard. After work on my very first job, I got drunk and had a hangover when I was scheduled to work the next day. I quit. The next week I noticed an open casting call at On Track Modeling. I signed a modeling contract the following day. Life truly was getting better, but my lust for the night life was bound to get the best of me…and it did.
After a modeling call, I went out with my latest piece of arm candy, a guy almost twice my age. Soon, reality hit that I didn’t know him as well as I thought. I found myself walking the highway in the middle of East-South Charlotte in a mini-dress, stilettos, and a wig. A guy pulled up and asked, “Do you need a ride?” I did, so I got in the car, but he was not taking me where I wanted to go…home. My heart was in my stomach. Afraid of what was to come, I pleaded for a drink. He pulled over at a gas station. Security locks were on the door. He brought back a Sprite. Fearing for my life, I looked in my purse and began to swallow my entire bottle of ulcer medication. I thought to myself, “If I could just scare him then maybe…”
It worked. He took me to my sister’s place. It was then I realized I had taken an overdose, and I was afraid. I was speechless. Of course, I had forgotten I had gone MIA for two days, putting some male over my obligations to her. She was too upset to talk to me. I had betrayed her. I was Judas Iscariot and felt utterly alone. I locked myself in the room and overdosed on my five remaining bottles of medication. Realizing what I had done, I called 911. They rushed me to Carolina Medical Center Trauma Unit. IV needles stuck in my veins. I heard in the distance “…temperature 110 and rising…120 and rising…,” and I could not ingest the charcoal fast enough. They thrust tubes down my nose. I began to hemorrhage; blood pouring from my nose. None of the tubes were small enough. A nurse covered my feet and asked, “Would you like to see the minister?” I heard her, but apparently she did not hear my dry lips whisper “no” or see me shaking my head, because she said, “Bring the minister in.” I didn’t need a minister. What had God ever done for me? What I needed was to end it all. I needed to die. I blacked out.
Several hours later, I woke up in the ICU recovery room. The next day, I felt downright awful. My whole body ached. There was no feeling in my arms and legs, and my mental distress was the worst of all. I was alive. I was a failure; even at death. There was a nurse who asked me if I still wanted to take my life, and I told her yes. I confided in her about my worthless life. It held no purpose, and I felt like neither did I. I began to cry. I cried for every sin that I had committed. I cried for every sleepless night and unanswered prayer. I cried. Mrs. Agnes held me and simply responded, “Let it go. Give it to Jesus.” I said helplessly, “But, I am so alone.” She said, “With Jesus you’re never alone.”
I was baptized at fifteen, but on July 7, 2002, I was reborn. I went from near death, a wheelchair, and into a homeless shelter within one week. I came back home, re-enrolled in high school, and graduated amongst the top of my class. I knew my life-changing experience was meant to be. On October 11, 2002—exactly three months and four days from my North Carolina incident—my house caught fire with my mother, sister, nephew, niece, and me inside. My room was engulfed in smoke. I ran downstairs. At the burglar bar door, we needed the key that was in the den, which was on fire. We screamed and banged at the top of our lungs. Again, I felt the pull of life or death. Only this time, I was in control. Suddenly, glimmering like gold was a loose screw. I was reminded of this door. We never got around to fixing it. I pulled the screw and knocked the window out. My family and I escaped to safety. One would think that my story ended there, but it barely touched the surface.
Thirteen days after graduating high school, I enrolled in college, only to find out the harsh reality of date rape on college campuses. Within four weeks of college, I had been given alcohol to the point that I was unaware of having sex; date raped off campus twice; and ostracized for trying to report it. After the second time that this happened to me, I got up enough gumption to go to my guidance counselor to seek help only to be asked if I was concerned with “taking care of myself” or “getting these guys in trouble?” I was then referred to the health center. I had truly been raped—of my pride, dignity, and self-worth. Once again, I was left to cope with something else that I had caused. With memories of this atrocity floating in my head, I struggled to continue class; I felt like everyone was watching me and knew my dirty little secret. That is when I withdrew from the university with the mockery repeating in my head of my offender saying, “Welcome to Alabama State University.”
Although what happened to me was unfair, I had already learned by now that life is not fair, so my resilience told me that I would not go down without a fight. One year later, I re-enrolled in the university with the mindset that I would not be forgotten. By the time I left ASU, I had won six or more writing and public speaking awards and inducted into three national honor societies in which two I held offices. As president of the school’s honor society, I was a shoe-in for Ms. Alabama State, so I ran. Little did everyone know, I was struggling to keep my dual life under wrap.
While I was going to school, taking several classes and several medications for Bipolar, I was living with my abusive boyfriend, who was also Bipolar. After lots of prayer and the worst fight yet, which included broken furniture, grits being spit on me, erroneous accusations of me cheating, and me springing both my wrists, I realized I could not continue living this way nor hide the scars from self-mutilation, codependency, and fear. Two classes and an internship away from graduation, I dropped my run for Ms. ASU and left my abusive boyfriend. I had to get myself together if I wanted to graduate. With one year of financial aid pending at the university, along with my teaching certification and degree at risk, I had to reevaluate my priorities and focus on my academics.
I moved into my own place. It took an adjustment to being single after a four-year relationship and playing mom to a child who was not mine. I dated—a lot. I dieted—a lot. After undergoing unsuccessful infertility treatment, I gave up. One morning, rushing to the sound of the alarm, I fainted and awoke in a puddle of blood two hours later. After calling 911, I was rushed to the local ER to receive stitches in my head. To my astonishment, I was four weeks pregnant. After checking the calendar, my new beau was the father—only he was in Mexico with his wife and kids, leaving me pregnant and alone. My life suddenly, once again, began to spiral out of control. My OB-GYN took away my medications for Bipolar that were a danger to the unborn child, but did not replace them with a medicine that was not. The mental health facility abandoned me altogether. If I had ever learned anything, I learned that medication meant stability. Pins ripped through my stomach. I rushed to the doctor only to learn that I had miscarried and needed to go to the ER. I was devastated. At the ER I was told that…I was pregnant! I was carrying twins, but somehow, only one survived. I was excited, but I also had other issues to deal with—without medications for my Bipolar. These issues led to my unraveling. Pregnant and without medication, I had one of my worse nervous breakdowns yet, as I felt like I was an unfit mother. Without medication to think clearly, I took an overdose. After three days in the hospital, I was sent off to another mental health facility. This was a confusing time for me, but my unborn child survived! After two months of mental hospitalization, I was discharged.
Life had taken a turn for the worse. I moved in with family, left school, and tried to pick up the pieces of my life. A short time later life threw another whirlwind my way when my car flipped on the interstate. My ankle was crushed, and my body was pushed to the trunk, almost ejecting me from the car. To God’s mercy and grace, my unborn child had survived.
The next couple of months dwindled slowly, as I had frequent visits to out of city doctors due to the high risk nature of my pregnancy. On March 24, 2009, I delivered a beautiful 5 lb and 6 oz daughter whom I named Acacia` after the Acacia tree. I believed that she would be as equally as beautiful of the flowers on this Biblical tree and just as strong. As I bonded with my child, in true nature of the lemons life, I feel, reserves just for me, the Department of Human Resources visited, questioning me about my overdose while I was pregnant and began to question my stability. I was told the only way to take my beautiful daughter out of the hospital was to sign papers stating that I would be observed and visited by the department. This was more than I could take. The one single most best part of my life would not be taken away! Four days later, I suffered yet another nervous breakdown and lost custody of my daughter; I was admitted to the hospital once again. Besides one visit, I did not get a chance to see or hold my daughter until she was four months old. Two months after supervised visits, I went to court and regained custody of my daughter.
I must admit that having my daughter is the best that ever happened to me. I have not been hospitalized in six years, and I have a beautiful, six year old precocious daughter who shows every bit of vivacity that I thought she would have, even at such a young age. I have successfully published four books, and I am three classes away from my Masters of Education with a concentration in English. From victim to victor is my story, but I have a feeling that this only the beginning of a new chapter.
Kimberly Michelle Scott is from Montgomery, AL. She is a graduate of Liberty University. From Now until Infinity: A Reflection into Womanhood is her first poetry collection released in 2006. Since then, follow-up book From Infinity until Beyond: A Journey into Life was published in 2010. NAKED: Monologues for African American Women debuted in 2013. Her 2014 project, “I Am HerStory,” is a memoir anthology in which her work appears. The Collection: A Book of Short Stories was newly released as a Nook Book and is also available on Amazon Kindle. It launched December 2015.
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