Empty beer bottles on a table

“Why Me?”

A winning essay from our Brighter Future Scholarship contest

My family was always so sweet to me. I thought it was because I was the first granddaughter/niece. But no, it was because of who my parents were.

As long as I can remember, my parents have been separated. Yes, they tried to get back together but it never worked. So, my hope for a happy and healthy home was never a realistic goal. When I was 12 I figured out that my father did drugs. I asked my mother why he was the way he was. She sat me down and explained. I suppose it was always a question of mine as to why he would sleep during the day and be wide awake at night. I never thought much of it. I was more focused on being a kid. The normal “playing around” and “being happy.” But it was hard… My mom went back to college and I was home with my grandmother from my father’s side, and him. Although he was asleep, I counted him there. My poor grandmother would have to do all the work such as walk me to the bus stop even though she could barely walk. All to pick up my father’s slack. He and I have never had a close bond but I always find myself craving his attention and praise. What can I say? I was a daddy’s girl.

My mother on the other hand was an alcoholic. I’m not sure when this started but I have vivid memories of me holding her hair back as she threw up in the bathroom. Even this one where we were at my aunt’s wedding. She left me at the reception. I had to go home with a family friend, who was a stranger to me at the time. Even on weekends she would go out and leave me at one of my grandparents’ houses or sometimes home alone, when I was 10. She would make me believe it was my idea but I knew and decided to make it easier for my mother and just go. I was always uncomfortable with the idea of her leaving my side. I’ve always been protective of her since we were always close. We would cry weekly over missing my father wishing he was different then how he is. It eventually stopped but he never changed. We just got over it.

I learned to live with it. When people would ask about my parents I’d play it off as they were normal. I lied about my father having a job. About me never being left home alone. About me being a normal child. About everything except for where my mom worked. I was just embarrassed and I knew I would always be. My mom’s side of the family even convinced my mom to have me see a therapist, which was a waste of time because all I did was lie. I couldn’t tell the truth. It was too hard for me to come to terms with it all. It occurred to me that I needed help or that I was struggling internally, until I was 16 and I finally accepted help.

This took a big toll on my mental health because I expected my father to change and be present but it never happened. But it also affected me in a positive way because it showed me that you don’t need to be close to someone to love them unconditionally. With my mother I just wanted her to spend time with me and put me first instead of drinking or men, which again took a toll on me mentally. But it also helped me see what not to do and helped me get my own priorities in order.

This further changed my perception on addiction. I always asked: “why me?” I possibly have done something in my past life to cause this. I used to cry wishing I had a different life and parents who put me first. But then I realized that it wasn’t my fault and I couldn’t help who my parents were. This thing could happen to anyone, even me. The one thing that helped me get through these tough times was thinking that some have it worse than me.

This scholarship would help me by allowing me to achieve a degree for either being a biologist or a psychologist. I would use both degrees to help children like me; ones who’ve struggled with mental illness or are trying to heal from their parents’ decisions.


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