Name: Crystalyen T Guiliano
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Trying to Defy the Odds
Trying to Defy the Odds
By Crystal G
November 20, 2020
Growing up, I lived in a world I thought was normal, only to realize years later, my childhood was that of nightmares. My mom ignored me, my sister was moody and never home, and my mom’s boyfriend was the worst human being I have ever came across in my life. These were the constant people I had in my life and my house. They are the reason I was introduced to drugs, alcohol, self-harm, and addiction at the early age of 8.
When I was 3, my dad was murdered. A year later my mom had a new boyfriend moved in. He was the worst human being I have ever had the displeasure of meeting, although, he never showed his true colors in front of others. As far back as I can remember, he was abusive; emotionally and physically. My childhood was filled with darkness no child should have to deal with and every day was a struggle for me even at such a young age.
When my sister would leave for school and my mom would leave for work, it was the absolute worst time of day for me. I suffered at the hands of a man that was supposed to be there to care and love me. What I got, was molested at the age of 4 and constant bruises. I tried to run away at the age of 4, however my mom found me and back to hell I was sent. I tried to tell her what he was doing but she thought I was lying and just wanted attention. I kept trying. It did not work.
When I was finally free to start school, I was so excited. I was finally free from him for hours. I joined gymnastics just to stay out even longer. However, that did not last long. Since we had to wear leotards the coach noticed all my bruises and asked too many questions. I had to quit and the excuse my mother gave the coach, “She’s just clumsy, she should not be in gymnastics it is not safe for her! I think I need to get her eyes checked.” My very short-lived escape was over and back to hell it was. Since both, my sister and I, were now gone 8 hours, when we got home, things were so much worse. She was a little older and was able to go over to my Aunts house more often than I was, so she suffered a little less, but we both suffered at the hands of that monster every single day after school.
When I was about 6, I tried to tell my Aunt after it was really bad once. She came over to talk to my mom. It was turned around that I was a liar, and the bruises were because I was an active kid and liked to play outside. My Aunt did not truly believe her, but at that time she could not do much about it without evidence and they would not let me near her. After she went home, I was left a bleeding mess. That man took one of his samurai swords and cut into my neck, then raped me. I was warned if I tried to tell again, I would not survive. My mom just sat there. I never understood at the time how she could just sit there and let all of this happen to her child. Now, I know. It was the drugs. She was so high she just did not care what happened to me as long as he supplied her with her addiction. It went on like this for two more years.
When I was 8, I finally got a break. It was a rare time that my sister and I were staying at my favorite Aunt’s house, usually I went over to her house while my sister went to our other Aunt’s house. The day before we went to stay the night, I had left a barbie in the backyard when I was called in to eat dinner. Mind you, if I was not at the table right after I was called, it was not a pleasant experience, so I typically ran to the table. When he had seen the barbie through the window, all hell broke loose. He took his fishing pole and beat me until I was a bleeding mess and crying so hard, I was throwing up. When he finally stopped, my sister tried to help clean me up but there was no use. It was just too bad. I had cuts, bruises, and welts all over my body. I was so thankful for the couple days break I was about to have with my Aunt. It was bath time when she finally got the full picture of my abuse. I usually came up with a reason of why I had to take a bath alone even though my cousin was the same age as me and I was made to wear turtlenecks and pants even in the summertime. I really, really hate turtlenecks. As she just knelt there crying and hugging me while I stood there fresh out of the bath in my towel, I did not really understand what was happening. When she finally calmed down and sent me and my cousin to get dressed and go to bed and took my sister to the living room.
I woke up to a house full of police officers. I had to stand there at 8 years old, while they took pictures of all my cuts, bruises, and scars. After they took pictures, they left and I remember thinking, “Oh no, they aren’t going to save me. They’re sending me back.” I went back to my cousins’ room and just sat there digging myself into this deep depression thinking he was going to be notified about the police. A few hours later, we were on the road and headed camping like nothing even happened. I went down a pretty dark path for a few days. I tried to enjoy the trip because I truly loved camping and spending time with my family, but I had this black cloud hanging over my head. That was when the addiction to cutting started.
My sister was already cutting herself, and I had noticed her doing it one night but never said anything. We just were not the sharing type of family as you can imagine. So when everyone else decided to go for a hike I said I was tired and stayed back. I went through my sister’s bag looking for her hiding spot, grabbed a razor and just sliced. At that moment, that little bit of pain from the razor was nothing compared to the release I felt when the blood flowed. It was like as the blood flowed down my arm, it was taking the darkness with it. I told myself I would not do it again, I washed off the razor and put it back in its hiding spot. I cringe at the thought of that blood mixing now, but back then I had no idea about any of all that. Honestly, I think I still might have done it even if I had. I tried to clean my arm up and just shrugged it off as one of the other cuts from the other night.
We camped for 3 or 4 days. Of those, I made excuses to be alone every day at least once sometimes more than that. Cutting was slowly becoming something I was relying on just to get through the day. I was falling into this hole and I did not want to come out of it. It was a release I needed so badly after so many years of abuse. It did not completely take away the pain, but it did help to take me out of that black hole for a few hours. I needed those few hours to just feel like the 8-year-old kid I was. When it came to the last day, my Aunt took me aside to go for a walk and talked to me more about what was going on. She thought leaving me in the dark while we were camping was helping me, she did not realize I was slowly dying on the inside thinking I was being sent back to that house of torture.
The police and social workers told her there was no way my sister or I were returning to that house and we would stay with family. I thought she meant herself. She was my favorite and really the only aunt I knew. That was not the case. My sister got the choice of where we would live since she was older, she was closer to my other cousins and Aunt so understandably, she chose them. I asked if we could split up and I could stay with them, but the social worker would not allow it. So, off I went to a house with other kids and my Aunt and Uncle I did not know, along with my older sister who was basically a stranger to me as well. Down the black hole I went. Was I happy I was free of the monster? Undoubtedly. I was just so nervous about being around so many other kids, I was not a normal kid. I liked adult conversations, reading, and just being by myself. I knew I would not get much time alone in this house.
The first few months living with them was fine, everyone was nice to us. A few months in, they started treating us like siblings do, which I was not used to. They teased me and purposely excluded me, which is different than choosing to be alone. I hated it there and wished I could go live with my other aunt all the time. My anger, sadness, and resentment just kept growing. I would take my books with my hidden stash of razors to the back yard and hid behind this guava tree where no one else bothered me. That was my escape. Every day I would try to play with the others or even just sit in the house and be “normal”, but one of them would say something and I would run back outside to my safe zone. I went from cutting once or twice a week to cutting daily just to feel something other than that deep-set depression I felt every time I took a breath. That first initial cut of the day was like coming up for fresh air after getting pounded by wave after wave in the ocean. That relief I felt was amazing and I was quickly becoming addicted to the feeling.
Over the next few years, it was the same type of day; go to school, come home to a house where I felt like a burden, tried to call a mom who never answered because she was too high to care about her two daughters, and got teased by my sister because she was lashing out from her own issues. The cutting got worse and it was barely helping. There was not even this feeling of relief anymore, it was more of a reflex and I just kept convincing myself it helped to relieve the pain I felt. I was 10 and stuck in this depression so deep, getting through the day took so much energy, I could barely make it. I had no real friends, my sister treated me like I was a burden to her even though I went out of my way to avoid her. She would find me just to tell me how annoying, ugly, fat, and stupid I was. None of my other cousins wanted to be near me so I started to believe her. I started cutting even more and starving myself to be skinnier like her. I had no idea she was so skinny because she was smoking meth at the time. I just thought she was skinny and everything she said was true. I thought getting out of that house of torture would turn my life around and I would get to be a “normal” happy kid, I was so wrong. I was depressed, malnourished, addicted to cutting myself, and so angry at the world.
When I was almost 11, it got worse. I tried to commit suicide. We got the call that the man that destroyed my life, was not going to jail all because my mother, who was supposed to love us, who carried us in her womb for 9 months, decided she did not want to press charges. Instead, he was being deported to Vietnam. I was too young to realize this meant some one would actually make sure he was sent back home. I was so paranoid that he was going to come after us. How could they just let this crazy man who molested and physically abused two young girls be allowed to be set free? I was devastated and terrified. I sat there in the backyard internally freaking out, wondering what I was going to do. Was I happy living in such a busy house? No. Did that mean I wanted to be anywhere near that man? I realized I would rather die. I sat there under my little guava tree staring at the razor sitting on my book. Cutting myself was one thing, I never cut too deep or too close to a vein I could see. This time it would be different. I took the razor, with tears slowly falling down my cheeks, I put it to the inside of my arm where I could see my vein. I quickly stabbed it in and pulled it then just sat there crying. Instead of pulling it out and cleaning it up like normal, I left it sitting there. I obviously did not do it right; I was only a 10 year only kid. While there was a lot of blood, it was not enough for the quick ending I was hoping for. My little cousin found me before I could slowly bleed out and freaked out at the sight of blood. My aunt and older cousin came rushing out to help me. I was rushed to the hospital and then sent to a center for mental health counseling.
I struggled with the depression so badly while stuck at the center. None of the meds they were giving me were helping and I did not have my addiction to help keep me sane anymore. All I kept imaging was the monster coming to get me. After a week or so, my favorite aunt came to visit and finally convinced me he was gone. It was enough that for a short period of time I was not happy, but I was relieved. They made me stay in the center though. I had to talk about everything I went through with a therapist and for whatever reason, I hated it. I was angry I did not have my normal coping method; they were forcing me to eat, and that monster was still out there roaming Vietnam doing to other little girls what he did to me. While I was stuck in the facility, my family made my mom clean up and she was given back custody of us.
When I got out, we moved in with my mom. I had to go to a new school, make new friends, start all over. I was so angry I was stuck living with this woman who did not even want us. She was clean for a little bit. My sister, however, was not. Whenever she was around, she would fight with our mom and bring our older cousin with her who was also on drugs. Soon, my mom fell back into old habits. Addiction is like that… You will think you are free from the addiction, but you are never truly free. Sure, you may actually never do whatever it is you are addicted to, for my mom and sister it was meth, for myself, it was cutting and starving myself. Every day in this new life was a struggle. We lived in a bad area, the kids at school, were just as messed up as me though so in some sort of messed up way, we formed a kind of bond. I was trying to be better and not cut. I tried to make sure I ate. But kids are mean, and they tell you that you are fat, even when you are under weight and they tell you that you deserve to die, without knowing you actually tried to kill yourself. Luckily, I had a few friends that helped keep me sane this time around.
My struggles were internal and although I might have slipped up and skipped a few meals, I was doing better with not cutting. I was almost at a full 2 years of not cutting when things went downhill again. My grandparents moved us into the house next to them in a better area of town. I loved it. My grandparents were amazing. My grandma taught me to bake and my grandpa always had a funny joke to tell, they never judged me for wanting to just sit and read or not go play outside with other kids. I was semi happy, as happy as I felt I could have been at that point. Then my sister started bringing her friends around, they would always be high and have drugs out in the open. My mom could not care less, she would let her throw parties with drugs and alcohol all the time.
It was afterschool one day when one of her guy friends thought it would be funny to make jokes about giving him sexual favors. He was just like every other teenage boy, thinking it was funny, but because of my past, I freaked out. I ran to the bathroom and I tried to calm down but all I could hear was that monsters voice. I found a razor my sister had hidden and held it in my fingertips. I just stood there staring at it trying to come back to reality telling myself he was gone. After feeling like I was in the bathroom for hours, I sat on the edge of the tub and I put the razor to my skin and sliced. The relief I felt was indescribable. I sat there on the edge of the tub watching the blood drip and just breathed. For the first time in years, I felt like I could fully breathe. I thought after leaving the center, I was going to be able to kick this addiction, I did not want to be like my sister. She started with cutting, then she went to pills, then alcohol, and then the hard drugs like meth and acid. I kept telling myself I would not be another statistic; I would beat the addiction and be better; I would do good in school and do something with my life to help others. I failed so horribly that day and every single day following for the next few years.
Addiction pulled me in so hard and I did not want to admit to myself or anyone else that I was addicted to it. I kept telling myself and my cousin that I could quit whenever I wanted to, I just did not want to. Why would I want to? It was helping me relieve the pain without turning to drugs, alcohol, or pills, which my little teenager mind thought was a good thing. I was also eating more than I used to so that was the excuse I always came up with, “I may be cutting again but at least I am not still starving myself.” I kept going on for years just cutting over the same scars so no one would notice new scars. During my freshman year, I decided to quit. I decided I was no longer going to be held down by this addiction that was physically harming me, and my aunt had found out the monster had died in Vietnam. I was free from him forever.
I had an amazing group of friends that were there for me where my real family failed, I had mentally grown up and realized what I was doing needed to stop or I would end up back in that facility or dead. My friends stood by me and helped support me. It was a struggle, a long constant struggle. I was moody and drew into myself. My friends signed me up for cheer tryouts as a joke thinking I was too shy to go through with it but I wanted to get out of myself and this depressive state I was stuck in, so I went to try-outs. I actually enjoyed it and I was surprisingly good at it. My closest friends also tried out and we all made it and it only helped me fight the addiction and depression.
I have not cut myself since my freshman year. With my amazing support system behind me and knowing the monster is never coming back to hurt me, I am able to fight the urges. When I get an urge to cut to relieve the pain or depression I feel at that moment, I think about all the good things I have in my life now. My life is by no means perfect, but I am not my sister or my mom. I overcame my addiction and never turned to drugs or alcohol. Without my support system, I am sure I would have followed down the path my mom and sister went down. They do not have someone who they can turn to when they need to talk or if they do, they just do not care to fight their addictions.
I will defy the odds; I will not be a statistic that ends up dead due to my own self-harming addiction. I will continue to fight with my inner self every day to continue fighting that addiction. My dad was addicted to gambling, he was murdered while gambling. My mother is addicted to meth, she let her only daughters be molested and abused by a man. My sister is addicted to meth, she lost her daughter to the system due to child endangerment. I will not be like my family. I will defy the odds and be better.