February 2015

Growth & Resilience
23 min readJan 9, 2023

On Friday, February 13th of 2015, I got into an argument with my step father. To this day, I do not call him my step father but just by his real name; he even told me that he doesn’t like to be called dad and I have never had one so it doesn’t matter much to me. My biological father was a bitter and abusive alcoholic, and I prefer to have no contact with him. It’s better with the no contact as it was affecting my wellbeing and growth. My last known contact with my biological father was in my early 20’s, close to possibly 25 years old. My father lives in a rural area and he lives alone, constantly complaining about everything going wrong in his life and how everyone has done him wrong. Growing up, he would make racist comments towards others in the community. My sister and I would be in the car with my dad while my mother did groceries — I remember each and every time, he would make some type of inappropriate slur or racist remark towards whoever he wanted to target that came out of the store. As I grew older, I always told myself, “I will never be like my father.” A part from the drinking at times, I’m not him and I will never be him. In my eyes, he is a monster and there are reasons why he is alone. I still love and care for him because he’s my father but there are also a few experiences which I will never forgive him for. He’s given my sister and I a lot of trauma and it’s too hard to talk about without even re-triggering myself. I do drink and I used to drink A LOT just about how my father drank. I used to go to pubs almost every night and then I realized how expensive that way. I used to attend Alcoholic Anonymous meetings after a very intense incident at one of my first retail jobs — Let’s just say do not play with fire when you are intoxicated.

Nowadays, I drink on rare occassions and I work more instead of prioritizing myself which is a problem and something I am aware that I need to work on. Today at work, my colleague made a comment about working hard and how impressed he was. Someone else made a comment, “you’re going to burn out. Why don’t you take a break?” My supervisor told me to “relax” so many times today. Work is a distraction. I’m a work-a-holic to avoid my problems and I mask a lot and I’m pretty sure that is a trauma response.

If you guys knew the real me on here — I’m that girl hiding behind winter tuques and a mask. I’m that girl that hides behind her phone and I want to help the whole entire world, trust me… I can’t and that’s what I’m learning; it sucks by far a lot when I cannot help everyone and there’s so many people that need our support. It’s devastating as a result of all of this corruptness around us with poor government leaders and failed policies if that makes any sense…

I tend to ramble incessantly and I really hope my grammar or whatever is okay.

The argument on the 13th was very intense to a point where I was scared to even be in the same house as my step father. I don’t call him my step father in real life because he’s just another person out there but what other name do I give him because I cannot say his real name on here. I don’t even consider him to be family but I am happy for my mother’s sake. In my eyes, he stole my mother away from my sister and I. As a result, I have all of these messed up abandonment and attachment issues. I used to be very close to my mother as she played the role of mother and father in the household. My father was largely absent and he drank his misery away all because he was abused as a child and grew up in the foster care system, constantly feeling unappreciated and unloved. My sister and I have tried on numerous occassions to gain a rapport with my step father with no luck. He refuses to have any type of relationship and doesn’t care about us at all. I’m literally the only one working in my family; my sister is not working and relies heavily on social assistance. The last I heard, my father had COVID-19 many times and has type 1 diabetes; his health is declining quite rapidly. My mother works through the school board but recently got laid off or something. It’s just me that works and I consider my work to be my family. I’ve come a long way from the bottom to right now —

When I look around in my bedroom right now — I have everything and there’s others who do not have anything at all. I have to give myself those constant reminders that I once used to have nothing too. I was assisted by a sweet family, churches who gave me food stamps and bus tokens and really nice supportive friends. I still talk to those friends to this day and I’m nothing but grateful. One of those friends gave me this red suitcase and it’s super small but it’s something. I still use it to this day and it’s useable. That one friend made a difference in my life as she helped me move into my very first rental. I had no job but I was on social assistance, welfare, and let me tell you this — Welfare does not pay you anything at all. Welfare paid me about $650 every month and my rent took over the majority of my pay. I lived off of the Dollar Store which was right near my place and I survived off of spagetthi noodles, tomato sauce, tuna, and those noodles in a cup. This was my main diet for about a year and a half as I didn’t know how to cook and I did not have enough money to do groceries. I also was never taught how to properly do groceries. My rent was $385 but, at the time, this was a huge amount and I was always stressed about not being able to make monthly payments. I remember an email being sent out by the female landlord and she was asking for any tenants who wanted to clean the house for a rent discount. I immediately responded to that email and I have regrets about that to this day. I would wake up every morning and while the other tenants were at their daytime jobs, I would be cleaning the house. Some months, I did not have to pay rent or I would only pay about $50; I’m not even kidding here. Over time, this became to be a lot of work and I developed a very toxic relationship with the landlords. It was a wife and a husband and I thought they cared about me a lot but they only picked up on my vulnerability and just how naive I was. To this day, I am still vulnerable and naive but I would never get myself into that type of situation again — Or so, I hope not… The cleaning escalated towards working for the male landlord. On some days, I would work for $30 a day or be given a rent discount so I would therefore be working for free while doing intense construction/renovation projects at my landlords construction company or whatever. I still have a little bit of pain from the work I did as it was tedious and repetitive. Things escalated very fast as the male landlord attempted to gain a rapport with me and only used me in the end. This resulted in criminal charges and a sexual assault offence on his record. His name was Jeff Barrett. You will notice that I do tweet about this individual often but this only triggers me and I should not be doing that. I trusted him a lot. I don’t even think Jeff Barrett is his real name.

I didn’t get my first job until April of 2015 and it was at a supermarket. I worked as a cashier and worked there almost every day just to make money and I promised myself to never have $0.00 again. I had thought that part time work was enough and I didn’t really know much about full time work at all. I remember my room mates asking me why I was working part-time hours and not full time. I didn’t know how to respond to that because I thought I was doing a pretty good job. On top of working, I was still on welfare but my payments were slowly being deducted over time. I would discreetly withdraw loads of money at a time and hide that money in cash under neath my bed. I once started off with nothing, two suitcases, no money, and not even a phone. I mean, I had a sketchy iPhone with no SIM card or really anything on it. I could only use it for wifi found at local cafes. I used it to connect with my friends and to see what kind of supports were in my area but I was very afraid to even approach those supports alone. Luckily, I had bank cards but they didn’t have money on them. I had a photo ID and that was it. I did not have many cards to my name but I had the bare mininum.

Imagine fitting all of your life into two bags — Just imagine that right now because I had to leave behind everything.

I had to carefully prioritize and choose the most important items in order to survive and get by. I had to make a ton of sacrifices and I left behind everything…
I’ve come a long way through many hardships and obstacles, and people not understanding what I’m trying to communicate or ask for. I’ve been judged, shamed and stigmatized. I continue to share my story.

I had to leave behind my gaming consoles, groovy dolls, stuffed animals, and my tamogotchis. I will share this with you guys here. I used to play with these dolls — they were called groovy dolls. I played with them up until the age of 20 when I moved out. With my dolls, I would fantasize made up fictional characters and just play pretend. I based everything off of this show called The Worse Witch and I am watching this right now. The Worse Witch is about a teenage girl named Mildred Hubble who attends an all girls boarding school for witches and causes a lot of trouble along the way while also learning through her mistakes. Anyways, this show is a childhood memory and so are my dolls who are in literal rubber bin containers in my step father’s basement. If I had access to my dolls right now, I would play with them even at 28 years old and I don’t care if anyone wants to judge me.

Here’s an image of what groovy dolls are. I never shared this once with anyone on my twitter. They were my life and they listened and helped me get through high school and the tough times. They were simply my companions and I could rely on them for anything.
The Worst Witch. Mildred Hubble, Druscilla and Ethel Hallow were honestly my favorite characters!! They cheered me up so much.

Before going on social assistance, I was sleeping at cafes and my favorite one would have to be Tim Horton’s. I remember a worker there came up to me and noticed I had two suitcases. He told me, “you can’t sleep here.” I remember other people walking into the cafe and asking if I was alright. Imagine seeing a young 20 year old with two suitcases and she’s there all day until closing. I familiarized myself with everything and everyone there. I probably should have asked to work there but I had no idea how to make a resume or cover letter. My resumes and cover letters were specially developed by employment counsellors. My case manager through welfare assisted me with mandated work-related trainings which helped to get my first job.

I wanted to back up to Friday the 13th of 2015. I’m all over the place here but just bear with me. On that night, I was in contact with one of my early childhood friends. I was in the ECE program at the time but I had to drop it due to not having anywhere to stay. This girl is absolutely amazing and she paid for my taxi from my step father’s house to her address without even consulting her parents. Her parents were not too happy and they didn’t understand why I had left home but there were a lot of reasons. My step father has an explosive temper and he will take that out on anyone through cursing, making racist remarks and even by throwing things. The relationship with him was never there and he only ever cared about my mother. I felt devalued and not very good while with him, and my friends were telling me to leave and go live on my own. On top of his anger, I have my anger too and living in that household contributed to my anger today. Although, my anger is caused by a range of a lot of other things… I stayed with my friend that Friday night up until family day which was February 16th, 2015. My friend told me that her parents did not want me there any longer and told me that I had to go. My friend researched a few shelters nearby in the area. I was like, “mhm, yes. Thank you.” I was scared, I’m not going to lie. I have never been to a shelter in my life but I needed somewhere to go at the time. The weather outside was freezing and I do believe 2015 was one of the coldest winter’s, at least in my opinion; the temperatures were like -20 and sometimes worse. The snow was also awful on top of black ice being everywhere, and I did not have the greatest boots.

There was ice everywhere that night — I wanted shelter and I was desperate. I was also cold.

When I left my friends place, she walked me to the shelter that night at 9:00pm. It was pitch black outside and I held onto two bags and I felt nothing but anxious. I couldn’t do it. All I felt were butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I noticed a few people out there drinking alcohol and they had needles in their hands with marks on their arms. I have never drank in my life and everything reminded me about my father. I made myself a promise to never be like him. Nothing about this scene gave me good vibes and so that’s when I walked away from the shelter. I walked away and I took the bus until I couldn’t anymore. I kind of just went on the bus and I was honest with the driver. I mentioned, “I don’t have any money. I’m trying to visit my family and it’s family day. Can you please make an exception?” I got a nice bus driver that evening and I’m thankful for that because this is where my life on my own actually began.

I had to find somewhere with wifi and I had to think fast on my feet because the temperatures were dropping that night. I pulled out my phone as soon as I got to this university. As the bus pulled into the campus, I did not know where to go exactly and I walked around the whole campus for hours. I eventually found an open area where a student had let me into the building so I stayed there and “thanked” him. He never responded back but I was thankful to have some warmth because that night was very cold. As I finally found shelter, I made a list of people that I knew were living at the campus and who I can potentially ask to stay with them. I was desperate and I refused to stay in shelters due to what I saw at the other shelter. I had a friend studying nursing and I had messaged him to ask if he needed company tonight. He didn’t respond right away and I had to wait a few hours but that was fine. The wait was worth it and when he did respond, he told me I can stay with him. Let’s initial him M. To this day, I do not talk to him because just so much happened and I felt used. I was also desperate for warmth and to have food. I’m not sure if anyone else would do the same but the temperatures were about -20 that night. Canadian winters are not the greatest.

When I went to M’s place, he invited me into his small room. He had a single bed with a computer desk and his laptop. He was in the middle of studying for his exams and wanted me to assist him with his studies as he was having trouble understanding the content. I used to take nursing as well but I dropped it because it wasn’t working out. I was more so better at the theory than I was at the hands on practical experience as a result of my anxiety. A guidance counsellor from my nursing program advised me to drop the program altogether and so I listened and dropped it. After dropping nursing, the relationship with my mother was not the greatest and I saw nothing but disappointment and shame in her eyes. I remember she would comment on how useless and how I’m this disappointment to her. My friend let me stay at his rental for a compromise — I would help him with his studies and I would have somewhere warm to stay. M made me food every day and I would also help him with groceries. He was also in love with him and this did not end too well. He wasin his 40’s and I was 20. I will admit right here that I was never into him and I think I sent misleading signals because I was desperate and did not want to be in the cold which I know may sound stupid. I was also scared to freeze to death as I had read numerous news articles about people on the streets freezing outside at night. I stayed with M for a good month and then I left as I did not want to be used sexually or for anything anymore. I wanted my life back again and so I reached out to a sweet heart from the early childhood education program. Her initials will be MG.

When I messaged MG at the end of February, she responded right away and it was out of concern. She asked me a lot of question especially because my messages were very sketchy. I sounded desperate and it also that I was not safe and wanted out of a situation but I had nowhere to go. She messaged me for hours and we exchanged messages about going to shelters and other drop ins in which I refused to go to. I had then asked if I can kindly stay with her family even though I knew it would be a burden to her family especially as they were experiencing a divorce. I had asked anyway out of desperation and decided to give it a shot. I had no contact with my mother and she didn’t even reach out to me. I don’t know how my mother would have been able to reach out to her daughter that had one day left home and never returned… I had no phone or really anything but that did not matter. What really mattered in the now was surviving and I would have done anything to survive every day that had passed. It was a battle on top of surviving the brutal winter months on top of surviving my mental health.

When I had asked MG if I could stay at her families house, she responded, “I don’t think my parents will say yes. I can ask?” I told her that I did not have anywhere to go and how unsafe I felt staying with M. I begged and asked if I can show up at her door step with two bags, and maybe her family would make their decision to say “yes” right then and there. MG responded that she was not sure if that would be a good idea but told me to try it out anyway. And so, I packed up my bags and before M was done his classes, I left his place. Before leaving his place, I cleaned up everything and left a sweet note thanking M for the hospitality and wishing him luck with his studies. I do not think M was too happy about me just taking off like that. However, I did what I did and I try not to look back. He’s been blocked since that day and I have not talked to him since.

As I rode the bus to MG’s house, I got another nice bus driver. I have made friends with a lot of bus drivers from 2015 and she let me on the bus for free again. I was also given money by M in cash so I saved that for emergencies. He gave me about $20 in which I broke that down into cash. He also gave me a bunch of those paper bus tickets. MG lived fairly close to the university and so it was about two busses to get to her place. When I slowly approached her residence, I could not call her due to not having a SIM card. I had told my friend that I was going to be on my way and possibly be at her door step in about an hour and a half. I knocked on her door and placed my bags down as I waited for someone to hopefully open the front door. After a few minutes, a middle aged woman in her 40’s opened the door and then I saw MG in the background with a huge smile on her face. From college, we were the best of friends and we did everything together. MG’s mother opened the door, a petite spanish mother with a proud yet concerning look on her face — she eyed me carefully from head to toe and immediately turned to MG…

“Who is this?” The mother looked back at me. I didn’t know what to say exactly. I’m also incredibly shy but I don’t think people see me as the shy person I really am. I’m extremely introverted if I’m being honest.

“This is my friend (my name).” MG begun speaking in spanish briefly with her mother as I stood at the doorway. Within a few more minutes, a middle aged man came to the door and joined in on the conversation. They were all speaking in spanish. It was very awkward standing there with snow flakes falling from the sky and my hair was all tangled with snow in it. I was also very hungry because my last meal was from the night before and I wanted to have breakfast at M’s house. I did not want to delay anything further and so I just left without eating. The conversation then turned back towards me as I was still at the doorway. MG’s parents slowly approached the door and they asked me if I had anywhere to go. Her parents invited me in and I said “yes, thank you.” I took my shoes on and I made my way to the living room where we all sat there and talked about my situation. I had mentioned not having a place to stay and how I was very hungry. MG’s parents made me a sandwich and I thanked them for that. I was grateful and starving — anything would have been great in terms of food. After talking about my situation, MG’s parents told me that I can stay for a while — I ended up staying for a few weeks but I stayed in their empty basement. When I say empty, their basement had a kitchen without a stove. They placed me in a small room and gave me an inflatable bed with beddings and their internet connection. I was able to message M through Facebook direct message just to thank him for his hospitality and for everything that he has helped me with since. That is when I then blocked M.

My very first night at MG’s house — She had to work that evening and so I spent the night in the basement. I spent the majority of my time in their basement in the evening. During the day time, I tried my best to see what was in the area and I was researching employment centers or anything to help with finding work. I was very determined and I did not want to give up or end things like this. When my friend had the time a part from work, she would take me to this nearby church where I was given food coupons, bus tokens and community resources/services in the area. I researched a lot during this time to utilize as much as I could. I did not waste time and I barely slept because I had a few goals to make with a limited amount of time. MG’s parents had told me that I can stay in their basement but I will have to get a job and that I will have to eventually financially support myself. I took what they said seriously but finding work was not the easiest due to my social anxiety and the fact that I have never really worked anywhere a part from my parents restaurant when I was 14. Working for your parents is a lot different than working for someone else.

I never found work in the short few weeks I was staying with MG and her parents. In about mid March, I got onto welfare and I had a case manager. MG’s parents helped me with all of this as the whole process was confusing but I had the majority of my documents which was good. I was missing a few documents but the main documents were submitted. I had a good case manager who dedicated her time to help me as much as possible as long as I put in the effort too. I took everything seriously as I knew I had too and that I could not mess around with this opportunity. Welfare was my standing ground and my first start at freedom. Welfare helped me survive on my own two feet and gave me a chance to live the life I wanted to live. As soon as I got on welfare, I asked as many questions as I could and wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I could. I informed my case manager of my living situation and she assisted me with finding rentals for the area. I viewed a lot of rentals with my close friends at the time but they were not to my liking. I was extremely picky and my friends kept on saying, “you can’t be picky. You have to select a place already.” All of the rentals were very expensive and I was being cheap because I wanted to save a large portion of my welfare money too. I was being smart. I eventually chose a rental that housed about 20 other females and I’m not even kidding. When the landlords shwoed me the place, there were rooms in the basement, ground floor, and on the top floor. I selected the smallest closet sized room on the top floor for $385.00. This is where the next journey of my life began…

The landlords asked me how much furniture I was going to move in. The rental advertisement stated that I didn’t need to bring anything but my suitcases and that was it. In my closet sized room, the landlords supplied with a mattress made from literal sponge and I slept on that for many months. At first, I was not comfortable or used to the sponge-like mattress but I made do with it. It was something especially away from the cold outside. On top of my new sponge-like mattress, I had a nice computer desk with a rolley chair. I had taken my step father’s laptop and kept it for myself. I took advantage with the laptop and researched as much as I could on a constant basis as well as using my Window’s surface at random cafes. When I got my first rental, it was home to me — this was my first place and I loved it to pieces. I did everything to become someone even though this took a while. I applied to countless jobs on Indeed. This rental was also all inclusive with internet but it had coin laundry. I put up with the coin laundry and did my laundry once every week. I didn’t have much clothes anyway. When I started to work though, I did my laundry more often. However, I had purposely asked and paid for extra work uniforms to make my life a little bit easier. To this day, I will never do coin laundry again. If I have no choice, I have no choice and that is what it is there for.

From welfare to landing my first job in mid April, I worked right away and I worked hard for everything on top of also struggling a lot with my mental health. Another reason for leaving my mother — I don’t know how to do word this or explain myself. This has to do with feeling misunderstood. When I was living with my mom, I would try and have simple conversations and only feel dismissed. I would break down crying and try to have her understand and only get disappointed. I had these high expectations and I realized that expectations will only make me further depressed. My mother pushed myself and my sister away- This is hard to explain and a tough topic of conversation. Even to this day, I don’t know how to put all of this into words. Our relationship is broken and I do not think it will ever be fixed. This Christmas, I took the initiative to message her and she responded and was very rude. She firstly asked me if I had a new number. I responded and said, “yes. You know my new number. I told you it.” She responded back, “okay.” And then randomely she was like, “once you are happy, then we can enjoy the holidays together.” What right does a mother have to say that? I’m sorry but that is not okay.

I left for so many reasons — And like I said, I left for my mental health and to feel okay again. I never felt okay with my mother or her step father. I never felt safe. A lot happened in that house and it’s too much to even get into. I was bullied by her step father for being different, for being fat and for not fully understanding certain things. He would tell me to get something or give me an instruction and when I did not do the instruction properly, he would get angry and yell. I was in tears almost every day. When my mother would go to work, I remember attempting to walk to town which was about three hours of walking and I did not have a car. I was too scared to drive. I’m still scared to drive to this day and that’s another thing my mother is disappointed at me with. I’m just not meant to drive. I am scared and I am tired of being called a baby because I am scared.

I am scared of a lot of things. I have a lot of fears and I hide these fears from the world. Fears are natural though. Fears signify that we are human beings.

Before I started living on my own, I have always had my mental health due to undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, PTSD from my biological father, being bullied by children at school — High school was an utter joke and I rather not look back at that. I was bullied for having a lisp and I had to attend years of speech therapy. I was bullied for having holes in my clothes — I would bite my clothes whenever I was nervous. I was bullied for just about everything. The way I approached social conversations, nobody ever accepted me into those conversations. I wanted friends but never had friends. The two room mates I had came across at my first rental — They were the sweetest. One room mate was from Ottawa and the other was from Trinidad. Both of them were incredibly nice and introduced to so much in this life.

I guess I have wrote a lot. My mind is still all over the place. I’m still on this journey called life and even though the struggle is still there — I refuse to give up. If you give up in this life, what is the point? Life is about coming across constant challenges and obstacles. We have to fight our way through this life. We have to fight for what we want. If we do not fight, what is the point?

I’m still fighting the good fight. Giving up has never been an option. I’ve seen my money fall just below 5K on many occassions and I always get right back up — The good fight is worth it!

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Growth & Resilience

If life were easy, we would not be living life correctly. Life is about constant growth & overcoming challenges and obstacles along the way.