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A Victim of a Victim

Shaba, a single mom of two, is a teacher of 18 years with a BA in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Development.

Rock Bottom

"You will fail because that is the type of person you are."

"You are a disgusting person."

"You have zero friends."

"You're fake!"

"I feel bad for your kids."

These are some of the things that were texted to me right before the night I ended up in the hospital....yes, put on a suicide watch in the hospital by an officer that found me at my lowest. How had it gotten to this point? A "suicide watch" was extreme. I was not suicidal at all. But when you are found on the boardwalk at 1:00 in the morning and you are curled up crying and withering away in your own skin, the officer was genuinely nervous for me. I think this is what they call "ROCK BOTTOM".


We are all the product of our environment in one way, shape or form. In the first years of life (some experts say up to age 6, and some say as old as 12 years old), you are developing your "normal". You are being shaped by your family, your peers, your teachers, and your experiences. They are molding your thoughts about yourself and the world around you, and you are internalizing these ideas, thoughts, and events into what you see as "normal". I am sure that we have all heard or even used the expression, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." The expression is usually used accusingly, and not empathetically. I have used the expression many times relating someone to their "bad" parent. Until, recently when I realized that I was the apple, and now I too have become the tree.

Home Trauma Equals Social Awkwardness

The harsh reality is that I grew up watching or being part of: ALCOHOLISM, RAPE, AFFAIRS, PILL ADDICTION, SUICIDE ATTEMPTS, BULLYING and TOTAL FAMILY DYSFUNCTION. School was a nightmare for me. It is where I remember first feeling like an outcast. Try being a "normal" little girl in school with all of the above mentioned family trauma against you. I was completely awkward! I remember wanting so badly to fit in, but knowing I just didn't. I was bullied non-stop about the clothes I wore, being flat-chested, being accused of smelling bad, and being called "weird". I was constantly at the nurse with "belly-aches" wanting to go home from school. Where did I feel safe and normal? The answer where at this point. I guess looking back, home is where I "thought" I was safe. The soccer field is where I found a little confidence. But even there, I immediately would feel isolated from my peers. Sure they respected me as a player because I was pretty good at the sport, but did the players want me as a partner in warm-ups? Usually not. Even through high school and college, I was somewhat respected as a good player, but that's where it stayed. I remember constantly being mocked for my physical appearance, getting left out, and never getting invited to the hang-outs after the game. I would feel GREAT about my winning goal, but as soon as the game ended, and I watched the players group up and make plans with each other, the reality of my loneliness would suffocate me right then and there. "Why can't I just be normal?" Insecurity was a huge part of me as far back as I can remember.

Childhood ExperienceAs an Adult....

Sitting in a car with my sister behind a factory. This is where my mother would go see her "affair"

I had an affair in my first marriage when times got tough

Watching your parents either drink or pop pills to cope with their problems

I created my own addictions and coping mechanisms such as substance abuse and cutting myself

Watching my mother terrified of my father

I was in an abusive marriage

Getting bullied in school and isolated by peers

I isolate myself in many situations/ find it difficult to be around a lot of people and feel secure in myself

Being told by your mother that she wants to end her life when you are just a young teenager

I resent my mother/ have wondered if the world would be better without me

Watching your parents go through divorce after divorce (7 between both of them)

I have been divorced 2 times

Father abandoned my life

I have fear of abandonment in relationships

Always feeling scared, sad, and lonely

I have felt insecure, nervous, and prefer to be alone most of my adulthood


From Clueless to Cocky!

I had my first boyfriend in college. What he saw in me I had no clue! He introduced me to the gym world and I began working out and "finding myself"....and this new false sense of confidence. Beginning at about 20 years old, I became a Hooters girl. I had broken free from my clueless tom-boy look and starting finding my feminine side...and boy did I find it! I started finally getting compliments from people about how I looked. I was like a thirsty dried-up sponge that couldn't soak these compliments up fast enough!

The high of being a Hooters girl quickly turned into bikini contests. Not only was I busting out of a shell, I was doing it with a hunger! I was winning the contests! I was hitting the gym, wearing make-up, and buying more revealing clothing. I soon began entering lingerie contests, and started winning those too! Guys were cheering for me...for ME! I went from AWKWARD ugly duckling to AWKWARD adult swan, gaining tons of false confidence. I was recruited by a local modeling agency, and began somewhat seductive-flirty photo shoots. Meanwhile, I was achieving my college degree in psychology and starting to feel on top of the world! (Looking back, I want to grab that lost girl and tell her that she is becoming something she is not, and doesn't even see it coming). Friends? At this point of my life, friends were still not a "thing" for me. I had some friends, but I did not care about them nor really know how to have a normal friendship at this point in my life. I had attention! And this equaled happiness in my already damaged thought process. The compliments and cheers I received from men and peers was a high like I had never felt. It became my first addiction.

I went on to think that sex was love. I thought attention towards me meant that they cared. And I gained such a false sense of confidence that if you dared to talk down to me, I was going to rip your character to shreds. I became an over-confident bitch! But in reality, I acted that way in public, and still went home at night and cried in the lonely darkness.


My Ugly Truth

Ready for the outcome? Ready for the ugly truth about me? Fast forward to about one year ago, to where I was 39 years old. I am a mother of two beautiful children from my first marriage. Yes first...I have been divorced twice now. After having an affair on my first husband because I was unhappy and lonely, I entered a couple of relationships before my second marriage, which was an abusive marriage mentally and physically. I have moved countless amounts of times in the past twenty years. I have filed for bankruptcy and lost all my credit. I have had multiple episodes of anxiety that has ended me in the hospital, on work leave, and in very dark places. I have changed my look countless times. I went from zero tattoos to twelve now. I have had some plastic surgery and probably would get more. I have had to change my last name three times in my eighteen years of teaching. I have been a joke to many and the topic of many conversations. I have been called crazy, insecure, and a drama queen. These are my harsh realities. These are my insecurities. These are the things that I had become. Last September, I received these text messages from the one person that I had still trusted in my life.

"You will fail because that is the type of person you are."

"You are a disgusting person."

"You have zero friends."

"You're fake!"

"I feel bad for your kids."

These were the words that led me to the boardwalk the night I was found curled up in a ball by a police officer. These were the words that almost broke me for good. You see, I have been trying my whole life to feel normal. I tried so hard to be a good mother to my children. I gave them things that I never had. I gave them experiences that I never experienced as a child. I sat and talked to them daily and told them how much I love them each and every day. And reading those words about myself...well, it was like the last little piece of my heart that I thought was still pure, crumbled like the rest.

Like they say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." And for probably the first time in my life, I dropped to my knees and prayed. I prayed and I cried. I cried and I prayed some more. Something woke up in my soul that day. Something that was more powerful than me. I'll never forget the moment when the harshest reality of my life hit me like a ton of bricks. I had became... her. I became the same parent that broke me. I have done it to my children too. Even though I would like to think I was a different version. I had made sure my kids had nice clothes, invited friends over, and made sure they had a social life with peers. I had taken them on as many memorable experiences as I could. I would sit and talk to them. But as I was conscientiously trying to be a better parent in some aspects, I was living the same vicious circle of affairs, multiple marriages, and uprooting them time and time again.

How did I finally break the cycle? I owned up to it! I sat my children on the couch in front of me and apologized with my whole heart. I turned my wrong doings into a lesson for them right then and there. I looked them in their eyes, and owned up to the things I had put them through. I apologized for uprooting their lives while I chased after a man. I apologized for my mistake of marrying a bad man after their father. I turned it into a lesson for both of them. I told my son to NEVER treat a woman the way he saw a man treat me. I told my daughter that it was NOT okay for a man to treat me the way he did, and that we need to be strong women on our own. It was the day my eyes were fully open to what I have done. Being the victim of a victim is a generational curse until SOMEONE breaks it. Be that someone! It is never too late to make the change you needed to see. My kids were 11 and 13 years old when I finally had that conversation with them. I do not know if it was "in time" or if the damage was done. But what I do know is that we are on such a healthy new path. I will continually water them and nurture them, and prepare them for this ugly world that we all inevitably must face.

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