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  • Esty Rosenfeld

From less to home

Breaking patterns and creating stability

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Rocky start

When I was little, my mom escaped her abusive brothers and we moved into a women’s shelter. While we were living there, my mom met a boyfriend and we went to live with him. He ended up being even more abusive than my uncles.

When I was 8, he came home all angry after losing his job. He held up a big chef's knife at my mom while threatening to kill me, make her watch and then kill her.

A few days later, he scheduled a couple of interviews in another state. We camped in a tent on the side of the road along the way. When we got there, he went to be interviewed and told us to find a spot to stay for the night.

My mom and I walked all day through that town, trying to find a place to stay but there was nothing available. Eventually, we walked into a bait and tackle shop. My mom broke down and spilled her guts. Without skipping a beat, the owners opened the cash register and gave us money. They told us to get onto the Greyhound bus so we rushed back to the gas station. We had just enough money to buy bus tickets. The bait and tackle shop owners had called the gas station and told the attendant what was going on. He promised us that we’d get on the bus even if my mom’s ex showed up. He saw how hungry I was and let me take food.

When the bus came, we darted on to the very back of it and ducked down. The bus usually stopped for 10 minutes. The attendant told the driver about our situation so everyone immediately got back on. As we drove away, my mom’s ex pulled into the gas station.

That bus took us to another town. All we had was a duffle bag with some underwear and socks. Someone told us about a homeless shelter so we looked them up in the white pages and walked around 6 miles to get there. It ended up being a men's shelter but since there were no vacancies in the motel where they usually place women who come looking for help, they let us stay in their front office overnight. The next day, they brought us to a women's shelter where we stayed until my mom got back on her feet.

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More mayhem

The next bunch of years, we bounced around from place to place. My mom was barely around because she worked 2 jobs to make ends meet. She became so neglectful that she started living in her bedroom. She’d buy food for herself but not for me. A lot of days, my only meal would be school lunch. So I was starving.

When I was 13, I got into a relationship with my first love who was 4 years older and an addict. By 14, he got me onto crystal meth which is a huge appetite suppressant so I got pretty addicted.

At 15, my boyfriend and I moved to another state. The abuse got even worse because he had isolated me. He beat me, sexually abused me and controlled everything in my life. I was only able to get drugs from him and only when he allowed it so I was progressively doing less and less drugs.

It took him cheating on me with my best friend for me to leave him. I was 17 with nowhere to go. Every few weeks or months, I would have to find a new place to stay. After somehow managing to graduate high school, I got accepted to culinary institutes. Being homeless and working a fast food job, I couldn’t afford 30 thousand dollars in tuition.

Fresh starts

At that time, I met a guy from Canada online. He told me that the culinary world there was diverse. Being as I wanted to be a chef, he convinced me to come check it out. I took my last paycheck and bought a one way ticket. I had 20$ in my pocket and one wheelie bag of clothes.

Within 3 days of arriving, I had a job and an apartment. This fresh start gave me the freedom to figure my life out. I became aware of all my possibilities. When you’re growing up, everyone always tells you that you can be whatever you want. But when you live in a black hole, you can’t see those possibilities. All you see is your mother being abused and working at a fast food job. I only knew that I didn’t want to end up like her.

I found a good boyfriend and a city where I could thrive. He was the first guy who I was with who didn’t place control on me. He showed me that there are decent guys in this world. We broke up after 2 years because we wanted different things for our futures.

I met my husband soon after, we have a daughter and a house in the suburbs.

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She made me a hypocrite

Right after I gave birth, I realized that I wanted to teach my daughter that she could do and be anything she wanted or dreamed of. I wanted to teach her how to be strong. At that moment, I realized I couldn’t teach her those things unless I was able to do those things myself.

I’d always battled with depression, though silently and without help. However after the birth of my daughter, it got even worse. Every time my baby had a checkup, the GP would ask me how I was and I’d burst out crying. After two months of his assessments, he put me on antidepressants and referred me to a therapist which made the world of difference. The time after having a child should be enjoyable, as much so as possible.

Eventually, I went back to school and took up some old interests of mine. I want her to see that you can work on making your dreams reality, no matter what those dreams are or when you dream them.

The name and all identifying details have been withheld for privacy.

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