Every day when I wake up I put my mask on. I’m a sixteen year old girl, who’s seen more than my fifty-six year old neighbor. I’m growing up in an environment where nobody ever lets their true colors show.
I have made a lot of mistakes. At fourteen, I was drinking. I was smoking. Why? All my friends were older, and they were doing it. I wanted to fit in; I wanted to be the one that everyone was talking about; the one that everyone wanted to party with. I was so far into it that I’d stoop low enough to steal from my family. When you live on a small island, everyone talks. My family included, they knew everything. My Poppa was the person who really knocked some sense into me. I walked into his house, totally high. He was home alone, and he said “Naun, we need to go for a drive.” This is how my Poppa communicates with everyone. The first thing he said to me is “I love you, and I know you’re better than what you’re doing.” Mainly what he said was, I am his oldest granddaughter, and my younger cousins’ look up to me. And up until this point I had been very successful. Basketball was what I ate, drank, thought, and dreamt about. I’d even gone to Europe just to play. I was living my life from game to game, and now it was party to party. My mom found out and I was grounded for the next eight or so months. It’s funny how in all of the alcohol commercials never mention “weight gain guaranteed” or “there is no such thing as just one drink.”
I wish my mom wasn’t so lenient on who I hang out with. A year and a half ago, my cousin introduced me to one of his best friends. I learned that sometimes when a girl says no, it doesn’t even matter. I was raped. He was drunk, I wasn’t. He doesn’t remember, and I do. I tried to tell my cousin, I tried to tell my dad. And it’s true, nobody likes to listen. I waited a year to tell my mom. When I told her, she cried. She’d been raped by someone in our family. I guess there’s just some things that I’ll never understand.
Strike three. About a year ago, I found a new boyfriend. Of course, I was head over heels for him. He seemed perfect. He got along with my brothers, and the rest of my family. I told him my biggest secrets, and he could relate. He made me laugh when I didn’t even feel like smiling. He made me think he put the starts in the sky he was that well, amazing. We had a very amorous relationship, I was in love. We’d been having sex, and every time I felt like I was lowering myself, for a relationship that was most likely not going to last. I started not feeling good. I had trouble falling asleep, not wanting to wake up. I didn’t really have an appetite, I was puking and I hadn’t even ate anything. I was freaking out, I tried to think of the last time I got my period, and I couldn’t even remember. Shortly after, I found out I was pregnant. I guess I was just keeping the family tradition. I was barely two months along. Honestly, I wasn’t sad, not even mad, not even disappointed. The first thing I did was tell my mom, and she wasn’t either, at first. Then I’m pretty sure her mom powers kicked in, because was tumultuous. She didn’t get mad at me, she asked me how I was going to handle the situation. Did I want to keep it? Get rid of it? Adoption? Abortion? It turned out that I didn’t even have to choose. I had a miscarriage.
I know I’ve had a rough start. But things have to get worse before they can get better. I’m a sixteen year old junior, with one foot in front of the other. I believe that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I volunteer at an Elder’s home, I have a good paying job, I bought my own car. I pay my own insurance. “Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength” – Unknown
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.