My Life – A Glimpse of My Coming of Age Story

I was pregnant by the age of 15, six months pregnant on my 16th birthday. It was predictable, but tragic nonetheless.

By the age of twelve or thirteen I’d lost a desire to live. I don’t remember why, that was so long ago. The trigger could have been the news that my biological father had died, choked on his own vomit while passed out drunk. I hadn’t seen him since my mother left him suddenly and without warning when I was two years old. They married young and they were both still teenagers when she left. I may never know why she ran away. In my fairytales he was going to come and rescue me from the physically and emotionally abusive stepfather that my mother married, twice actually. But I didn’t know he was a drunk. He could have turned out to be just as bad, or worse, because it could have been worse.

It may not be nice to think that my father’s death was a blessing, but because he died while my sister and I were under the age of 18, we received social security income from him, which was all we ever got.

Although my mom, who had recently divorced my step-dad for a second time, had a great job and was at the start of a steady career, she could not have paid all the expenses of her children having children. My sister got pregnant one month after I did, at the age of 14. My mother was devastated. At least we had the money from our dead dad to help out.

The father of my sister’s child was another young teenager who denied having sex with her. The father of my child was a man at least twice my age who sold drugs to the high school kids just outside the campus and invited us to parties at his house where we could also get free alcohol. Neither of the fathers had financial resources to help, especially not my child’s drug addicted father who sometimes worked at fast food restaurants.

I wouldn’t say it was a relationship. I hung out at his place a lot and went out with him and his friends. The sex was consensual, in a way. I wasn’t aroused or even interested. I was always high beyond words and just laid there and did not care. I suppose, since I didn’t say no, and didn’t leave, you could call it consensual. It seemed to me that it was just what men did to women and I was bewildered about why everyone thought sex was so great.

My baby’s father was not the first man to convince me to have sex with him. I had already been raped before, molested by a stranger at a party, and had a couple of boyfriends who had been mostly interested in sex. By the time I was pregnant though, I still didn’t know what an orgasm was, for a woman. I was a child with no self-esteem or confidence and I did not care what happened to me.

So by the age of 14, I was drunk and/or high most of the time. I would sneak out of the house at night until finally I just sometimes stopped going home at all. When a man wanted to have sex with me, I was often too stoned to move anyway.

Sometimes I wonder if it was my destiny to bear my daughter. She is an amazing adult now doing incredible things in the world. But, if I’d had an ounce of a sense of self-worth, or protection, in the world, she never would have been conceived. Perhaps disappearing into oblivion with drugs and alcohol was the only way possible for me to be the instrument for the will of a higher power.

I remember that sometimes while I laid there I’d pray to God for a baby. I remember that I wanted a baby to love even though it seemed like an impossible prayer, since he told me he was sterile. But I don’t think any god or higher power would have made manifest the ungrounded wish of a strung out child. I’d rather believe it was just something I had to do, for the sake of a better world, because I believe my daughter has indeed made the world better.

I remember when I conceived. I remember where I was and I felt it, I knew it for certain. A few weeks later the pregnancy was confirmed with a test kit that I’d shoplifted so that my mother wouldn’t know. There was no question about having the baby, no one could have talked me out of it.

The pregnancy saved my life. I felt that the baby gave me a reason to live. I became sober for the first time in over a year. I enrolled in a high school for single mothers and then broke the news of my pregnancy to my mom with what seemed to be a logical approach. I said something like, “Mom, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is I’m pregnant, but…I’m back in school!”

To Be Continued…

2020 Credo

Me 2020, Photo Credit: Elicia Varnado

As per the advice of Colum McCann in the book “Letters to a Young Writer,” I’ve decided on a credo for my writing:

I am not the two-dimensional propaganda carefully crafted by those who wish I’d never been born. Nor am I any mythical heroine burdened with limitations of virtue, or vice. Imagination attempts representation but should not subscribe to theories of knowledge. I, like any character, breathe beyond the page and die without an ending. Predictable skin-deep desires may dance us through the script but truth is touched only when the heart can be felt screaming beneath the tripe.

Love Letter from a Beggar

Cliche but apropos – a vision of myself in the depths of a dark and silent ocean. Weightless and peaceful, absorbed in infinite bliss of nothing and everything, finally I can breathe. Inhale silence, exhale silence. 

Abruptly pulled to the surface by necessity of food and clothing, I become nothing but a beggar and an actress.

Meaninglessness pervades even the most educated conversations and emptiness is the subtle taste of gourmet food. Please Don’t dangle the hope of a psychological diagnosis over my words. Existence is not a curable condition and even death cannot promise an end to this frenetic noise. If you care about me, just sit with me in silence, and do not require me to sing and dance for food.