Childhood Trauma: TestimonialNovember 28, 2012| Last Updated on Friday, 17 May, 2013 15:38I was born on April 27th 1987. I was given up for adoption and adopted by a wonderful family. I hada normal life up until I was about seven years old. When I was seven, my oldest cousin committedsuicide on his 24th birthday by hanging himself in the park. He suffered from severe depression andhad some other diagnoses and was also a drug addict. I’m a lot like him. This is the point at which Ilost my faith. I Prayed and asked God to let me switch places with him. I saw what his death did to hisfamily and mine. I couldn’t believe that anyone worth worshiping could allow a person’s life to get tothe point where taking it seemed like the best option. And so I stopped believing in the God of myfamily. I was forced to continue going to CCD and church. I was forced to take communion and getmy Confirmation, all the while hating God and everything that stood for him.After my cousin’s suicide, I was taken to the doctor and prescribed various medications. I’ve been onmany different medicines over my life. Also at this point, I started to be sent to behavioral camps everysummer. At one of these camps, S.O.A.R., I was forced to sleep in a counselor’s tent one night and Ihated it. In the morning I said that I hated him and wished he would die. The counselor in questionthen tried to give me a knife and repeatedly ordered me to stab him in the chest. I didn’t. I returnedhome from S.O.A.R. and life went on. I was a horrible kid.I was placed in a non-profit school for children with “Special Needs” for third grade. I did okay at thisschool and was there for one year. At the end of the year, I got into a fight with the owners son and wasasked not to return. It turned out later that the school was a scam and the owner was pocketing a lot ofmoney. After that, I went to a private school. Around this time, one of my grandfathers passed away.He had a heart attack in his sleep and went into a coma. I didn’t go and see him in the hospital beforehe passed away. When he did pass away, I stole some whiskey from my dad and got drunk. That night,I spoke to my grandfather in my dream. That was my first experience with alcohol.I was on medication and receiving therapy up until 8th grade. Around 5th grade I started to becomeextremely rebellious. I would fight with my parents every day. It got to the point where I threatenedthem with knives on several occasions and there were times when they were afraid to sleep with me inthe house. I was extremely depressed.At the end of 8th grade, I got into a fight with another student and choke slammed him into a row ofcomputers. He had spit on me. I was a problem student all through 8th grade, refusing to go to school,not following direction, receiving multiple Saturday detentions. This however was the last straw. I wasgiven In-School Suspension and asked not to come back to school after 8th grade. At this point I wasout of control. I hadn’t used any drugs or started drinking, but I was a danger to myself and thosearound me. I wanted to die.My parents were forced to make a decision. They hired a consultant to find a school for me. Theconsultant found Hidden Lake Academy. It was a therapeutic boarding school for troubled youth,located in the Appalachian Mountains in Dahlonega Georgia. This would prove to be a turning point inmy life. I arrived at Hidden Lake four days after my 14th birthday. I was promptly separated from myparents and strip searched. I couldn’t have any music there and all reading materials had to beapproved by staff. I got to see my parents one last time to say good-bye and then I was taken to theDining hall while my belongings were searched. My first day there, another student threw a brick at
me because he didn’t like the way I looked. We were both taken to what was called “Restrictions”.Restrictions was basically a work detail. You walked in a line, did physical labor, couldn’t talk, werekept separate from the general population as much as possible, and were made to do P.T. (PhysicalTraining). You were also given writing assignments by your counselors. These could be anything fromyour life story to “How did/do you feel when” assignments. In the morning you had to be dressed inyour school uniform, Room checked (bed made, room clean, chore done and checked), out the door,and ready before the rest of the school when you were on restrictions. You were given: 2 small milkcartons, an apple, and two single serve cereals for breakfast. You were made to sit outside, on theground outside one of the dormitories while you ate. Then, when the rest of the school went to school,you were allowed to rejoin them until lunch. At lunch, you were again separated from the generalpopulation. You had to wait in a line outside while the rest of the school walked past and then youwere taken back behind the building to where you ate breakfast. You then were given: An apple, twobaloney sandwiches (no cheese) or two cheese sandwiches (vegetarian only)and a cup of vegetablesoup (they took the salad left over from the salad bar the day before and boiled it with soy sauce tomake a kind of French onion soup). The trick was to make friends with a vegetarian kid and trade himthe bread from one of your sandwiches for the cheese from one of his. You then remove all the nastyvegetables from your soup and make a kind of dumpling from your remaining bread and your cheese.You eat the baloney separate while the dumplings soak in the broth. After Lunch, you wait in a lineuntil the general population finishes their lunch and then rejoin them as they return to school until3:30pm.Childhood Trauma Begins with EnvironmentAfter school you then return to the dorm and you have an half hour to socialize, shower and changefrom your school uniform into your personal clothes. After that half hour is up, when the rest of theschool goes to their after school activities (art, weight lifting, gym time, sports, or after school studyhall) you go back to restrictions. During this time they usually make you do physical labor (dig, breakrocks, chop wood, pick up trash, carry trees or rocks, etc.), clean something, or some other task. Then,when it’s time for dinner (Restrictions eats after the general population) you all go to the dining hall.You then get your only hot meal of the day. You get one serving of the normal food (Honestly it wasusually pretty good, unless it was the chicken) and limited access to the salad bar, meaning there arecertain items you are not allowed to eat (and are punished if you do). After dinner, you clean the dininghall and have study hall for one hour. Then, you usually have to do PT until it’s time to go back to thedorms at 9:00pm. Now, this entire schedule can be changed at the Staffs will. They can delay anythingand make everyone do PT anytime they want. Staff also had little games they liked to play using us.For instance, when Restrictions was split into two or more groups, the staff would sometimes choose astudent to have to run back and forth between them and say either “Ping” or “Pong” to the staff uponarrival. Then they would have to run back. If at any time a student begins to refuse to follow directionthe staff will then make the rest of the group do PT or remain in the “Front, Lean, and Rest ” (push upposition) until the student complies. Or, if the student begins to walk away from the staff, the staff will“restrain” (A tackle followed by a submission hold) the student. And that’s basically restrictions. Yourcounselor can assign you three, five, or seven days of Restrictions depending on what you did.Now, during the week you would have three 3-hour therapy sessions. Two of these were with your peergroup (about 14 kids who got there in a row) and one was called “Mixed Reals” which was usually atheme based therapy session with groups selected by the counselors. Sometimes you would be put in“Fall-Out Reals” which was where you would have to write down everything you did wrong andpeople you know did wrong. Then there would also be campus wide Fall-out Sessions, or “FalloutFests” as we called them. There was a Fallout Fest on my 2nd or 3rd day there. I had to sit in a hot
room with 13 other students who I didn’t know and get yelled at by a fat lady named Abbey (I mighthave a bit of a resentment against her, just maybe) who for some reason refused to believe that I didn’tknow anything that anyone had done wrong in my 2 days there. So I had to write “I have no moreFallout” over and over for 3 hours.After this wonderful start to my time at HLA, I was thinking about suicide. When staff found out, Iwas placed on Suicide watch. This meant that I had to be near staff at all times and had to sleep in thecommon area, under fluorescent lights that never went out with a yoga pad and a sleeping bag so staffcould keep an eye on me. I was constantly awoken by staff’s radio and them walking up and down thehallway doing room checks. I was eventually placed on what was called “Life Line”. This is there youare given a 5 foot piece of rope and staff has to hold one end at all times, except in class, and you haveto hold the other. This was not only embarrassing and demeaning, it was provocative. I responded thebest way I knew how. On my first day one Life Line, I made a Slipknot and put it around my neck,effectively making the “Life Line” into a Noose. Needless to say, staff was not pleased with my actionsand my Restrictions were extended. I was on Restrictions for my first Six weeks straight at HLA.Eventually I got off restrictions and returned to normal student life, which consisted of getting bullied,harassed, and generally taking a lot of shit for being a new kid. After three weeks of being there, youare allowed to call your parents for 15 minutes. Staff sits next to you and listens to and writes downeverything you talk about. If you say something they don’t like, they disconnect the phone and you aresent to restrictions and your counselors are told what you said and you are punished for it. All thewhile you are at HLA you are constantly reminded that “You can leave anytime you want, the road isright there.” The staff taunts you with it, knowing that yes, you can leave, but you have no money, nofood, no water, and no one around to help you. And, depending on your situation, staff may or may notfollow you and “Restrain” you once you are out of eyesight.Very few of the staff actually care about you, just like very few of the counselors are licensed and thesame went for the teachers. There were a few teachers and staff who genuinely did care about you, butthey usually didn’t last long. The school was “accredited” only because the multi-millionaire ownerpaid for it. It violated several laws and illegally with held several Rights. While there I was sexuallyabused by some of the other students. I didn’t say anything because no one would have believed meand no action would have been taken to protect me from reprisal by the guilty parties.Hidden Lake was a 2 year program. I was there for four years. It got a little better after the first twoyears when I was allowed to have music. I was however never allowed to practice or study myreligious beliefs, which are Pagan Polytheism. Even on Martin Luther King Day, after delivering aspeech about being accepting and tolerant of other people and their beliefs and race, they refused toacknowledge me. I raised my hand for the entire 15 minute question and answer session afterwardsand even when mine was the only hand raised and I stood up to make sure I was seen, they refused tocall on me. It took several of my friends raising their hands and pointing out that I wanted to speak forthem to finally call on me. The only answer I received was that “We could talk about it after.” Uponapproaching him after the meeting, my answer was “I’m busy and have go to a meeting.” I was thentold if I continued to harass them, I would be sent to Ridge Creek (a wilderness program owned by thesame guy and operated on the same campus and HLA). Having already been sent there twice by thatpoint, I didn’t want to go again (although I eventually did end up there again.)HLA was and is a large part of my life because of the things I witnessed and experienced there but I amworking through it. I made many good friends there and that is the only reason I made it through thatplace. I still keep in touch with some of the friends I made there and while that has brought me a lot ofjoy, it has brought sadness as well.I graduated from HLA at the age of 18. Up until this point I had never touched a drug in my life. Thatwas all about to change. You see, at HLA I had been forced to attend AA meetings and that put me in
touch with others who were being forced to do the same. While there I became resentful of sobrietyand Recovery. Upon leaving HLA, I immediately made it my mission to get high. I had been acceptedto Dean College in Franklin, MA and was going to attend an accelerated summer session there. Withinmy first week, I had gotten my hands on some Opium from a kid in my class and was smoking it mixedwith Bugler tobacco out of a corn cob pipe. I did this until I finished the summer course and on the lastnight there, I smoked weed and got really drunk with some of the friends I had made there. This wasmy first time smoking weed and getting drunk and I immediately fell in love with the sensations. Ireturned home for the remainder of the summer and proceeded to smoke weed at home. I would sneakout at night and use my 1-hitter to smoke either in my car or outside the house. I would immediatelyhave to take a shower, brush my teeth, use eye drops, and change clothes to avoid my parents catchingon. This continued until I returned to college.I did okay in college, not extraordinary but not horribly either. I continued to smoke weed and whilethere I met two of my best friends. I met Sam first. We were both pagan and we both like the samemusic and video games. That’s how it started. Me, looking like Hagrid and him looking like JackSkellington. We began to play online games together and when we realized that both of us smokedweed, we started to smoke together as well. Sam introduced me to Matt a few months later. Matt wasanother stoner gamer. But Matt was also a mathematical genius. He was also bitter and sarcastic. Hefit right in with us. Matt would use the things he learned in his Engineering courses and some prettyadvanced mathematics to create bongs and pipes for us to smoke from. He even mapped out his roomand using mathematical formula, he re-arranged it to maximize airflow out the windows. He even builtair ducts out of cardboard to increase it. One of our favorite places to smoke was out in the woods. Itwould be cold with snow on the ground on a nice clear night. There was a lumber yard nearby that hada small forest next to it. In those woods was a ridge that rose into the tree tops. That was where I firstfound my Peace. Out there, in nature, surrounded by beauty and cold, I would lay down and meditate.I felt like I was at one with the universe and I felt such peace and happiness that I knew it couldn’t bewrong. Going out there at 1-2 in the morning and laying down to watch the sky are some of the bestmemories I have. That I got to do it with two of my best friends made it even better. Me, Matt andSam hung out almost every day. We would all gather in Matt’s room, get high, and do our homework,and play video games for the rest of the day.After Graduating from Dean with an Associate’s Degree, I returned home to Florida. I was going to bethere for a summer and then return to Massachusetts to attend Dean College’s Sister School in Boston.During that summer, I was working at a Super Wal-mart as a cart collector and I noticed one of the kidsI worked with would always disappear during work. When I asked him about it, he introduced me tomy new addiction, Roxycontin. We would get together before work and smoke a few pills. Thenthroughout the day we would get more. This continued for the entire summer and by the time I left toBoston, I was doing 10 pills a day.When I got to Boston, Matt and I had a very nice apartment in Cambridge. I had to stop using opiatesand went through withdrawal with only weed to make it easier. The apartment complex raised the rentand Matt and I had to move out of that Apartment after about 2 months. We moved to a small 3bedroom, 1 and a half bathroom in Allston. It was about 2 miles away from the Green line and it was atough walk in the snow and ice. We loved it there though. I had a Job buying and selling electronics ata store called C.E.X. It paid $13 an hour and I had good hours. It was the best job I have ever had. Iended up not getting into the school but stayed in Boston for almost a year and a half. I stopped takingmy medications and ended up losing my job. I got really depressed one day and decided that my lifewasn’t worth living. I had a little rubbing alcohol in a bottle that I used to clean games. I decided todrink it in the hopes it would kill me. I ended up blacking out and waking up covered in vomit in thebath tub with the shower running. I don’t know how I got there and there is no one to ask since Matt
was visiting his family out in Cape Cod. I stayed in Boston for a little while longer before I had toleave. I told Matt and My family that it was because I was depressed and wanted to make somechanges in my life. To this day, neither knows about my suicide attempt.I left Boston and returned to Florida to attend a program called “Milestones”. It was a primarily eatingdisorder residential treatment facility. They focused mainly on Anorexia and Bulimia but I still learneda lot while I was there. They taught me a lot about nutrition and helped me with my depression a littlebit. They promoted an No sugar No Flour lifestyle. Fuck that. I stayed there for around 40-50 days.After leaving, I was renting a room from an older English Woman named Jen.I lived with Jen for a few months and decided to go back to school. There was a tech school locatedsomewhat nearby and I began to attend it for courses in Network Systems Administration. Eventually Imoved out of Jens house and into a room closer to my school. When I moved in there, I met my landlords two nephews. They both sold Roxycontin and one was addicted to it. After living there foralmost a year, my life took a turn for the worse. My mother and my grandmother both got cancer oneafter the other. I began using Roxy’s as a way to cope. A kid I knew from school, Jeff, also usedRoxy’s. Jeff was a good friend to me at first. Soon though, he was stealing from me and using me tofeed his own addiction. All the while my own addiction was growing worse. My mother eventuallyrecovered from the Cancer, but my grandmother did not. During my grandmothers fight with cancer,she stayed at my parents house. I noticed that she had been prescribed oxycontin and kept them in theguest room. I stole some when she was getting her chemo treatments.Trauma Gains Strength Through LossMy grandmother passed away on her birthday. This is when my Addiction really took over. I had beenattending school up and getting Straight A’s the entire time. Around this time I graduated and since Ididn’t get a job, my time was consumed with getting high. All day every day. It got to the point whereI was only eating solid food every 2-3 days and that would only be a cheese burger from Burger king. Ilived on Slurpee’s from 7-Eleven, vitamins, and Smoke. I lost 150lbs in two months. By this time Iwas a known person in the Hollywood Oxy Scene. I knew almost everyone who used and could almostalways get what people needed. And, since I was one of the people with a car, I would take people tothe doctors, the pharmacists, and then drive them around while they made their deals and broke me off.I was in my car from 8am to 4am every day. I lived in a perpetual daze. Every week I would pawn mylaptop and get it back the next week. Then pawn it again a few days later. I had a serious habit. Mylaptop is one of my most important possessions and I lived without it for a long time. Eventually I gotmyself into a situation bad enough that it woke me up to the way I was destroying my life. My bottomhappened in Gainesville Florida. I had gone up there to take Jeff’s uncle to court for a old ticket andJeff had tagged along since his Uncle had a Script for Oxy’s. That night, I let them use my car to gopick up some weed from one of Jeff’s uncles old friends. They were on their way back when Jeff, whowas driving, jumped the curb as they were leaving the neighborhood. They were pulled over and thevehicle was searched. It turns out that Jeff had a suspended license and being in Gainesville was aviolation of his probation. They also found Various Oxy related paraphernalia, the ounce of weed,three daggers, and his uncle’s script. Jeff and his Uncle were arrested and I received a call from hisUncle’s friend. She dropped my car off at the hotel. I ended up staying in Gainesville for two weekstrying to bail out Jeff’s Uncle. I couldn’t get any Oxy’s up there, but the girl who knew Jeff’s Uncleshot up crack. I slept on her floor, stole food from Publix to eat, smoked crack, and detoxed fromOpiates. It also turned out that she was a prostitute. Finally after two weeks, I ended up bailing outJeff’s Uncle using his debit card and a sneaky three way call to the bank using my cell phone toconnect the call from the prison to the bank. I had been using the Uncles Debit card to purchase Crackand the card had gotten temporarily suspended due to too many cash back transactions. I had also
gotten kidnapped by a group of crack dealers and luckily managed to escape. Yeah, it was a bad twoweeks.Up to this point, my family had thought my only drug use was smoking weed. They were about tolearn differently. After driving Jeff’s uncle home and staying the night camped out on his floor, wedecided I would move into his house and pay rent in order to pay him back the money I had spent oncrack. He got me two of the Big Orange Suboxone and I went home to my parents to tell them I wasmoving. We all sat down outside on the patio and I started to tell them about how I had to move inwith Jeff’s Uncle to pay him back. They said that was fine, but they wanted to talk to me about mylife. They thought I was smoking weed again and wanted me to stop. They were going to give me adrug test which I would have passed since I hadn’t done any drugs in 3 days and smoked weed in overa month. The only thing I had done was one of the Suboxone which won’t show up on your standarddrug test. My family told me they wanted me to take the test and I started to laugh. They looked at melike I was crazy, which I was. I was totally out of my mind. I decided then and there to come clean. Itold them I was addicted to Opiates. They didn’t realize just how bad painkiller addiction was. I had toexplain to them that Roxycontin is basically synthetic heroin. Putting my head down on the table, Istarted to cry. It felt so good to finally tell them what was wrong. To get that weight off my chest wasamazing. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I didn’t want to get high anymore.After this little intervention, my life became pretty shitty. It didn’t matter that I had come clean about itand didn’t want to use anymore, I was still an addict and was treated as such. I was forced to turn overmy phone and car keys to my parents. I was also forced to begin attending B.A.R.C. (BrowardAddiction Recovery Center) which is a state run facility with little funding and a lot of overcrowding.I was unable to get a bed in their facility for two reasons, the first being that the opiates no longershowed in my urine. The second reason I could not get a bed was that I am a cutter. A cutter issomeone who engages in self harm and purposefully injures themselves for various different reasons. Ihad picked up this practice while at HLA. It helped me to deal with the horrible reality of my situation.The helplessness, the lack of any sort of control, the soul crushing despair at having no way out, all ofthese got a little better when I would carve designs into my arm using an Exacto knife I had stolen fromthe art room.Anyway, to get back to the situation at hand, I could not attend B.A.R.C.’s inpatient program because Iwas a high risk patient. I had last cut two weeks before, right before we began to drive to Gainesville.You see, Jeff had told me we were just going to pick his Uncle up and take him to his house in PortSaint Lucie. After arriving at the house, I was pressured into driving them to Gainesville. Jeff knew Ihad bought a pill and kept following me around the house, waiting for me to do it so he could ask tosmoke it with me. Eventually I snapped at him and told him I was doing it alone and he tried to guilttrip me. I don’t remember if I split it with him, but I remember going outside to my car after andgetting my dagger out from my car. I then started cutting again after not having done it for over 2years. Even now this incident makes me feel sick. Not the cutting, but the addict behavior exhibitedby myself, Jeff, and the others in the house.I could attend the day classes there, I just could not be inpatient. This was not good enough for myparents. They refused to spend any money to put me in a detox or rehab program and I was left to findmy way myself. They barely let me stay at their house and that was only for a very limited amount oftime. I had to get up at 4am while detoxing and walk a mile to the bus station to get on the bus to go tofort Lauderdale. Occasionally my dad would drop me off there or my mom would drive me to fortLauderdale. After the program was done for the day, They would rarely pick me up. More commonly,I would have to ride the bus back and then walk back to the house. All of this would normally bemiserable here in the beginning of summer, but was even worse because I was in the middle ofdetoxing from Opiates and Crack. My next and last hope to avoid homelessness was the Salvation
Army center in fort Lauderdale. I was making arrangements to get in there. The woman there askedme if I had issues with self harm in the past, and I was honest with her. She also told me I would not beable to attend there program or live in their center. That was my last hope. I was going to behomeless. My life was over. I had decided long ago, that if I ever became homeless, I would killmyself. I spent the next few days stringing my parents along to get a few more days of non-homelessness in my now considerably shortened life. During that time, I continued to search for a wayto get into an inpatient facility and avoid homelessness. Now during this time Jeff’s Uncle, who wasnot happy that I had not moved in, was continuing to call my phone and try to get me up there. He thensomehow got my parent’s house number and began to call and harass them. My dad spoke to him, toldhim he would get nothing and informed him if he continued to call, the police would get involved. Hestopped calling.One day, my mom happened to find the number of a person who was known to be able to get peopleinto rehabs. I called this person and he got me into a rehab, which is where I met Paul, Mike, and Phil.I graduated from this rehabs inpatient program and moved into a halfway house. I made some goodfriend in this program. I stayed in that halfway house for almost a year. The rules were very strict andthe program itself there was a scam. It engaged in excessive drug testing and billed my insurance foreach one. At the end of that year, the owner forced me to move out under the guise of concern for myweight and well being. I have been overweight since I attended HLA, where I purposefully over ate inan effort to give myself a heart attack. This was so my death would look like natural causes and notsuicide and then it wouldn’t affect my family as much. My life was hopeless at HLA and this seemedlike my only way out. My weight is out of control and it will kill me if nothing is done about it. I hadbegun to go to the gym 2-3 times a week but after two months of that, I slipped going into a store andcaused severe nerve damage to my left leg and got a condition called “Drop Foot”. Now, I amattempting to get the Gastric Sleeve Surgery in an effort to bring my weight under control. It will killme if I don’t. I now have things to live for and am fighting to be there for my family.Lifescape Addresses My Trauma With New Age Therapy TreatmentI currently live in another halfway house, where I have a studio apartment to myself, which is very nicesince I don’t really like company. I attend Lifescapes Solutions, which is run by Paul, Mike, and Philand is honestly the one of the best things to have happened to me. I even work here now. I do theblogging and web stuff for them. I have almost 2 years clean and while not every day is a good day,none of them are even close to how bad my life used to be. My family and I talk now, I go over thereoccasionally. They let me watch their house and cat when they go out of town and are an incrediblyimportant part of my life. I have a younger brother who I neglected for most of my life and amcurrently building a relationship with. He does a lot of things that irritate me, but as my brother, that’shis job and he does it because he cares. He has girlfriend and a 6 year old daughter who is able tobrighten even my worst days. I occasionally join him when he takes her to a movie, restaurant, orarcade and we have a great time. Currently she has something wrong with her eye that they have beentaking her to the doctor to have treated, but nothing has really been working. So now she will have toreceive an injection every week for the next two years otherwise she could go blind. The medicinecould cause her to lose her hair and I worry about her a lot. I know she will be ok, but kids can becruel. If she loses her hair, I will shave mine in support like I did for my mother when she lost hersfrom her Chemo treatments. Life is far better than I ever thought it could be and while it is hard, it isworth it. I’m still dealing with a lot of the trauma caused by the things that have happened to me andthe things I have done, but this place helps me heal those wounds and move on with my life.Sometimes it’s hard to let go but I can honestly tell you that it can be the best thing for you.