One autumn afternoon, at 16 years of age, I came home from school to find everything I owned outside of my house and a locked door. I’d been thrown out. I wasn’t wanted there anymore.
I let that sink in for a moment. Nobody wants me anymore.I wanted the floor to swallow me, so that I wouldn’t have to face it. But I also wanted to scream, and kick, and fight for everything I didn’t understand. I didn’t know how to feel; angry, upset, betrayed? It all blurred together, but the only feeling I really understood was the pain.
Things had been rocky at home for a while, but I’d never imagined it would come to this. It had been just me and mother for as long as I could remember. We’d had our ups and downs, but we’d always got on. She was my best friend. But somewhere along the line things changed. I wasn’t enough anymore, or that’s what I had guessed. She wanted to start her life over, make a new family, and I was a constant reminder of the past.
I racked my brains for any other explanation, to find something I could have done to make this happen. I didn’t think I was a bad kid… Of course they’d been arguments as every family has, but it didn’t make sense to me. Nothing made sense for a while after that.
For the next few years, I floated between family members and friends, always scared I’d overstay my welcome again and be told yet again I wasn’t wanted anymore. It’s a feeling that stays with you: feeling like nobody wants you around, feeling completely abandoned.
My health, mental and physical, deteriorated. I would stay up all night, telling myself I was worthless. I stopped eating, and started smoking and drinking instead. I cut myself away from my friends and isolated myself from everybody else.
I wasn’t lonely, but I’d never actually been more alone.
A lot of people leave home at sixteen, but the sudden shock and lack of preparation is what caught me. I had nothing.I had no money, no job, no home and no hope. I truly believed I would never be anybody, or reach any goals. Everything had changed.
Focusing on my exams wasn’t important; How could they help me anymore? They seemed suddenly so insignificant. I was at an A in almost everything, and I still ended up homeless.Finding a good college wasn’t important; I was more worried about getting a job and paying my rent, while all my friends were only worried about getting their nails done or who could be their date for the next school party. I used to find people like that shallow, now I wished I could worry about silly things like that.Even finding a decent job wasn’t an option; I was so scared about not having one I’d take whatever dead-end positions came my way.
But, one particularly miserable night, I snapped out of it. I’m still not sure what made me wake up and see sense, but I decided that I’d had enough. I had no control over my life for so long, but I could control myself at school. It was one of the only things I had to focus on so I worked my ass off to pull my grades up, and I did. I stayed late, worked through my breaks and made sure that I left my education with something to be proud of. I wanted to find my own reasons to be happy; to make sure my happiness was my choice, and never anybody else’s.
I didn’t go to college, because I needed a job. Money was important and I was so nervous about minding my place in the houses I stayed it, I couldn’t afford to be without it. I hopped between jobs for a while, hoping that every position I took would be a stepping stone in the right direction. The problem was, I didn’t know the direction I wanted to go in, because I hadn’t stopped to think about the possibility of actually having a career.
And when I finally had a clear head, I pushed myself until I found something I could fall in love with. I desperately wanted to learn again but I knew I couldn’t afford to go back to school. So I started working in a kitchen, and now I’m learning to be a chef. It’s hard to climb up the ladder, but it’s worth every step.
I learned that hard work and perseverance always pay off, and it’s never too late to chase something you want.
I was still angry about what had happened, but it didn’t eat me up like it used to. I wondered how my family was, if they missed me at all. I wondered if they wanted to talk to me. So, I reached out. I’d found out my little sister was having a birthday party, and I swallowed the fear and turned up. It hurt, seeing how she’d grown up and I hadn’t even known she could walk or talk. But we tried picking up the pieces. We cried, we argued and we got to work on the problems that had torn us apart. I never forgot about what happened, but I wanted to forgive them, and more importantly I wanted to stop blaming myself for things that I couldn’t control.
I learned to forgive, and not let anger get the best of me.
I stopped being scared of getting close to people, and embraced my family and friends. I wanted to be close to them, and to love them, without constantly fearing being shunned by them. I fell in love, and now I know how to appreciate my relationships with people in a way I didn’t before.
I learned to stop worrying about losing people, and just love the people in my life.
I figured out how to do things for myself. I knew I could count on people to help me, but I now knew I shouldn’t solely rely on anybody else for anything. If I want something, I find my own way of getting it, without needing anybody to do it for me.
I learned that you’ve got to make it on your own sometimes, and that’s okay.
It’s been four years since then, and my life now is honestly more amazing than I would have believed. I surround myself with wonderful friends, and now I can watch my siblings grow up into beautiful young people. I’m pushing and progressing myself to become the person I want to be, the person I’d convinced myself I’d lost.
In those four years, I’ve put the pieces of my life back together, and made it better.I gave up over and over, but I got back up every single time .I found my best self even when I was the worst version of myself. But the most important lesson I’ve learned from my experience is that I have the strength to do anything, I just needed to find it.
Featured Image via Pure Intentions