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*The “I Matter” series takes a deeper look into the experiences that have shaped and led me to pursue my life’s work in helping others live their best lives by uncovering their authentic selves. Keep an eye out for future posts that detail more of my stories and experiences.

My earliest memory, I am guessing, was when I was about 4 years old.  I was walking in our basement laundry room which was below ground level. I looked up at the small window and saw a scary face screaming at me. It frightened the heck out of me, I screamed and fell forward on to the floor. I ran upstairs crying to my mom who yelled at me, completely dismissed my fear and told me it didn’t happen. I think it was my brother and his friends playing a practical joke.

There are many moments like this that come flooding to the surface. Another one was in kindergarten. We had a reading circle where we sat on the floor and listened to our teacher tell us a story.  My knee socks were falling so I pulled them up.  My teacher then sent me to the ‘thinking corner’ and I was told to think about what I did.  I had no idea what I could have possibly done wrong. She told me it was because I pulled up my socks and I told her I didn’t understand what was wrong with that.  I was told not to talk back and what she says goes. I was not allowed to have or express an opinion.

My mom was curling my hair in front of the big mirror in our washroom – I was around 9 or 10. I was facing the mirror when she yanked on my hair and yelled at me – “what are you looking at? You think you are so beautiful? You are not!”

I was at home when my brother’s friends knocked on the front door and asked if they could visit our raccoon Mischa in her cage in the backyard. I said sure and took them to the backyard.

My mom opened her bedroom window on the top floor and screamed at me – “You little slut – you get in here!” I remember asking myself what a slut was.

In elementary school, coming home for lunch was an uncertain event – I never knew what type of mood my mom would be in. She had made sandwiches and put them on the coffee table in the family room and our dog ate them! She was not happy – that set her off – there was nothing I could do – she was mad at me for anything and everything.  I wanted to go to school – I didn’t care if I ate or not.  Then the phone rings and she wouldn’t let me answer it. After about 10 rings she picks up the receiver and starts yelling at whoever called – “Do you know how many Goddamn times this phone has rung?”  My friend Suzanne, on the other end of the line said ‘two.” Mom yelled at her, called her a liar and hung up on her. My friend Tammy originally called and after 8 rings hung up and Suzanne called right after. I eventually met up with Suzanne and we walked to school together – I cried and told her how much I disliked and was afraid of my mom.  I was afraid for years that she would find out what I said.

At a young age, it had started. People I expected to guide and protect me did anything but. I never knew the impact it would have on me. Little did I know it was about to escalate.