In this entry, I will take a look back at the last 11 years of my life. I will share with my readers where I come from and how it has molded me to the person I am today. Seeing as my oldest is not even two yet, this entry will not have much to do with raising my girls, instead it is a day of reflection.
The day was Tuesday, March 5th, 2002. A typical morning for me. I woke up early, got dressed in my uniform, ate my breakfast, and got in the car and my mom to drove me off to the catholic school I attended. I was in six grade and your typical 12 year old. I lived with my mom and step dad with my older sister, but we spent every other weekend at our dads, with our half sisters. It may have been a “broken” family, but it was my family, and it was a pretty good life. That day at school was just like any other day. At 2:45 the last bell rang, and I got my backpack and headed outside to get picked up. My mom smiled as I got in the car. On the drive home she was extremely quiet. Instantly I could tell something was wrong. In my head I kept thinking what could possibly be wrong. I remember wondering if one of our pets had died, I hoped and prayed it wasn’t my beloved cat, Cappio. However, for the 7 minute drive home, my mom said nothing. I remember pulling up into the drive way, wondering if I was going to walk into the house and notice one of our pets gone. I could not imagine why my mom was acting so weird. She turned off the car and turned to me. “Brittney, I have something I need to tell you” she began. “This morning… your dad was arrested.” I remember sitting there confused. Hearing what she was saying, but not quite comprehending it. My dad? Arrested? She continued to inform me he was arrested for involvement in drugs. She wanted to let me know right then, because she knew it would be on the news for all to see. I remember just being so confused, and a bit numb. I remember walking in, and still looking around for the pets, still thinking maybe she was joking, and really one of the pets died. But all my pets where still there, my dad really was arrested. That night on the news I watched them talk about my dad, arrested for many things, but the main charges were for selling drugs and fraud.
The next two years were hard. School was hard to face. “Friends” were coming up asking if I was related to the guy in the news, seeing we had the same last night. Older kids talked about me as a walked by, as if I couldn’t hear them. I remember on day in math I asked to use the bathroom, when I walked back to the class room I heard the teacher telling the students about what she has heard about who my dad was and what he had done. I sat in the hallway feeling numb. Not wanting to go back into that room. I felt so judged. I felt so alone. Over the course of those 2 years, more family was arrested. An aunt, an uncle, a cousin, a grandma. More charges. More hurtful words about my family in print. It was difficult. I went through denial. I went through anger. I went into depression. My dad was sentenced to 35 years of prison. My grandma was sentenced to 10, but a couple years later passed away while in prison due to a heart attack. A cousin sentenced to 5, and an aunt sentenced to 12 years. My life as I knew it, was no more.
The summer before 8th grade my mom signed me up for a church camp. She knew I needed help, I needed someone to talk too. The camp changed a lot of things. As corny as it might sound, but I found Jesus at that camp. I found love. I found acceptance. I found joy. I went home that summer changed. Yes, there was still some pain and confusion left, but I was a happier child. I felt more whole again. I remember in 8th grade I had teachers pull me aside and ask how my summer went. They told me they saw a change in me. They were impressed. I was a nicer person. I was smiling. My grades all went back up. I was strong again.
When I entered highschool I decided to have my name changed in the school system to be the same as my mom and step dads. I had come a long way since that day in 2002, but I didn’t want to bring that baggage with me into highschool. For once I didn’t want people judging me because of who my dad was. For the first two years of highschool no one knew. When I started drivers ed, and got a job I had to use my legal last name, so suddenly friends where realizing that the name I had been going by, wasn’t my real name. However, I was a lot stronger. I was able to talk about my family, without falling apart. I continued to use my mom’s last name, though.
The first couple years of highschool I still made some mistakes, dated boys I wish I didn’t, but as the years went by, I grew more in my faith and focused more on doing good for my community as well as helping others around the U.S. through mission trips. I still made mistakes, because let’s face it no one is or will be perfect, but I was able to get through highschool, having many friends, and have dated boys and still never had been drunk nor having sex. It is still possible girls to make i through highschool with out getting drunk and hooking up!
Towards the end of my Junior year I began dating PJ. Two years after graduating highschool we got married. Our relationship was pretty strong, we had a few bumps in the road, but after 3 years of dating we tied the knot. It was two short months after our wedding that we became pregnant with our first.
We are now 2 months away from our 3 year anniversary of marriage. The last 3 years have brought two amazing girls that have filled my life with more love and more joy than I could ever imagine. The last 3 years has also brought some difficult times and pain. However, every obstacle I have been able to get over with the help of God, and amazing friends and family.
11 years ago today I couldn’t imagine what my life was going to end up being like. But today I sit here, knowing because of life events I am a stronger person, with faith in an awesome God, who has brought me two beautiful little girls. It has also brought me the knowledge to know that I can get through anything with the grace of God, and I am excited to see what the future has in store for my family and me. You never know what life is going to throw at you, but in the end it makes you who you are. The trick is deciding how you are going to let it affect your life. You can choose to let it destroy you, or choose to rise above it. My past has also showed me what I want for my girls. Less brokenness, and more love. Don’t get me wrong, my childhood wasn’t just filled with pain. I have an awesome mom and step dad who has showed me what kind of marriage I want. One where they respect each other, support each other, and obviously love each other. I have awesome memories of family vacations (with both parents) as well as many amazing memories of camping in the backyard with my mom that I plan to pass on with my girls. My life has definitely not always been an easy one, but there has been a lot of joy in the mess. For that, I am thankful. & I want to pass that joy on to my kids.