Grow Through It

The world looks so big through the lenses of a young girls eyes. So many opportunities, so many ways to go. Daydreaming, I would think of all the things I wanted for my life when I became a woman. I would not have kids. No, I couldn’t possible put my kids through the things my mother left me to be in charge of. Just some back story. She is a beautiful, curvy chocolate woman. She was from a small city in Louisiana with a very high crime rate. With high hopes she joined the Air Force. Unfortunately, she fell victim to the streets and started selling drugs. After being robbed one night and shot in the head she would no longer be in that life but she stayed on the party scene and eventually fell victim to those same drugs. Fast forward to now. I am an ambitious four year old girl who has to look after her three younger brothers while her mother roams the streets. I do have an older sister but she coped differently, she isolated to her corner and stayed in her books. Here I am, left to defend and feed the family. We have went from living with other addicts, a pimp and his women, to our own place finally. I put on that brave mean mug everyday as I go in the backyard and pick berries for us to eat. Next, I have to walk down the crack feign filled street to get water from the city’s water supply line. I come back and make sure the toilet has a bag that we can use the restroom in. (This makes for easy disposal) I take what I scrambled back to our mattress and ration todays food. Mama was gone again this morning so we missed school now I would have to make sure to find enough berries for the entire day. I’m not upset that we missed school. I was probably suspended anyway for fighting the bullies who attempted to tease my siblings and I. Wait, did I say ambitious four year old earlier? Wrong A word. I meant to say angry! Angry because I have to be a parent to kids I didn’t have, I get picked on at school for being dirty but we don’t have water, my mama loves the streets more than us, my dad only has empty promises, and we don’t see family much. Why does no one want us? I’m labeled as bad because of my temper but you won’t take time to see why I’m so angry. No one cares so why should I care about anything other than my siblings? Wait, there’s someone at the door. A policeman, we may be able to eat today! No, I can’t answer. According to mama, “what goes on in this house stays in this house.” Somehow the door is opened and now we are torn away from mama. I still can see the look on her face as she screams for us and we cry out for her. We can’t leave mama, the baby isn’t even walking yet. No one wants to take in 5 kids so of course we’re separated. This was the second heart break I endured. My brothers were and still are like my children. I’m moved around the most because of my temper and I finally settle into a group home in Minden, LA. The great state of LA gave one of my brother’s to his dad who was an abusive addict. He had to endure his own demons that I wish I could protect him from. Like a typical story, he’s now in the street life. Anyway, here it is and I am now in 5th grade and we get released into our dads care. The cool dad, who still parties and is really only home to stock the fridge and sleep. I’m no longer “dirty” but I am the shy, quiet, tar black girl. A tomboy in every sense. I start people pleasing to the extreme. I have to make the people like me or they will leave me. Right? I’m letting my family members manipulate me and now I am still always the one in trouble even though I was only doing this to gain approval. They wanted to take it further and put me against my older sister. Ok, let’s do it. Maybe they will like me then. Nope! I’m still a tool. The relationship between my siblings and I never recovered. We talk, but it’s not like a typical sibling relationship. My mom is now clean. She was hit by a car and in recovery for over 9 months so she clean by default. She’s now a woman of God. I people pleased and fought and everything else under the sun for most of the latter years. Wanting to gain approval but still being told, “nobody wants you, you black.” But they did, or so I thought. They more so wanted my body. I had the curves from mama. Sex wasn’t painful but it wasn’t fun either. Maybe that’s because of the assault and papsmear I had at 7 years old. I only remember it because of paperwork so I didn’t include the detail of my early years. I start to become girly so maybe the boys will like me like they do the other girls. I get my first boyfriend at 19. We had been bestfriends since 7th grade and always secretly had a crush. I would just hide it, I was best friends with his sister and he always had the girls so I never thought it would work. Well, we stayed together for years. His sister had a lot to do with that. I was happy, or more so content with life. Then one morning around 7 I get a call that she died in a car accident. Not Ava. She was literally the sweetest person I’ve ever met. I was me, the real Ivori with her. I was broken, I never drunk alcohol for real until that happened. I literally drunk every single day. At 22 I was spiraling. A few months after the accident I find the love of my life. I’ve never been so happy in my entire life. He is everything! He is also gorgeous. I have to hear, “you’re so lucky to have him.” He would assure them though that he was lucky to have me. Finally I don’t have to fight mine and everyone else’s battles, someone is fighting them for me. We were literal bestfriends and it was evident to everyone around us. I stopped drinking. I had a natural high. Looking back now, we were probably trauma bonded. He had a strained home life as well. We were in bliss for about 7 months when his bestfriend was killed. We were once again devastated but I just went through this so I was able to console him. We got closer than ever. He was my everything. He would always say he wanted to be buried by his bestfriend and how he missed him. Well, 4 month and 27 days later. He got his wish. He was killed less than 5 minutes after we got off the phone one evening. He had just promised he was coming home to me. How could this happen? The one person who’s love I never once had to question. I was crushed. I didn’t sleep or eat for days. I had constant panic attacks. I was once again angry. Stripped of life’s happiness. I wondered how God could hate me so much that he never wanted me happy. I am alone once again. Drinking daily once again. I was never a crier until this. Honestly I was pretty desensitized until Ava’s accident. This was the most I’ve ever cried in my life. I was super depressed. That and alcohol makes a bad combination. I would sit at the grave three times a day in the middle of the July heat wishing to be with him. I’m 29 now and still have not been in love like that since. I had another relationship that produced a beautiful little girl and I have since gotten my degree and a good paying job. I am way softer now, my daughter tells me she loves me several times a day so I guess I’m doing a good job there. I am happy and at peace for the first time ever. I know my story is not over yet. I am finally ready to tell my testimony. To help girls and women around the world. I know now I didn’t go through any of that for me. That was for everyone else who would need encouragement. This is me taking a leap, telling my story and being vulnerable. Growing through the pain. There’s a lot that I omitted for the sake of the readers time. Lol I hope this gives someone the push they need to take a step forward everyday. Live in the present and enjoy the time you have right now because life is fleeting and time is limited.
Photo credit: Photo provided by the storyteller.

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Ivori Green