In my teens, I was toxic to everything I touched.
I didn’t mean to be – I just had a lot of pain inside and was too young to understand the connection between that and the reckless behavior I exhibited. You understood it and prayed for me, always hoping I would see the light.
It wasn’t that I was a trouble-maker as so many claimed. Yes, I vandalized an elementary school in my home town, thoughtlessly claiming the rooftop with my giant ‘My Name Was Here.’ Yes, I ran away once, all the way to Tennessee, and yes, I became a teenage mother at the age of sixteen.
Maybe I was a trouble maker.
I didn’t mean to be.
And then into my twenties, the bad choices and reckless behavior chose to continue itself. I’m sure you remember the destruction I left in my own life after post-partum depression led to the loss of my two children.
I put myself in dangerous situations, willingly, hoping for harm to come to me – and in doing so, harmed others, especially you.
I didn’t mean to.
Years 23-29 are a blur – six years in a hellish nightmare that I had convinced myself I deserved. You screamed at me that I deserved better, that my children deserved better. I assured you that I believed you – and stayed in the nightmare anyway, because that’s what I deserved.
I lied to my friends and my family. I became a stranger even to myself.
I didn’t mean to.
The worst part was marrying my abuser on your birthday as if to honor you in some sort of way. ‘Look Mama. I did it. I married what I earned.’ I spent my entire twenties hating myself for my teen years – and so another decade was lost to my toxicity.
I didn’t mean to lose those years with myself and my children.
It wasn’t until my thirties that I started to feel like you know – maybe I gotta start forgiving myself in order to act right. I read all the mushy quotes, convinced myself I was beautiful inside and out, walked away from everything that caused me harm and for a while I was so happy.
I was so brilliantly happy and dazed by how very blessed my life was – I even found myself being loved by someone who never raised his voice or hands to me.
But now I’m almost 33.
But here I go again – unable to forgive myself and unable to stop the path of destruction. I can see it happening. I know I should stop it. But I can’t. Not until it’s all burned to the ground.
Because I’m toxic.
And I don’t know that I ever won’t be..