I would love to tell you that my mum continued in her Christian faith and I grew up in the church, I genuinely wish this had been my story at times. But she didn’t, so neither did I. I missed it, but it was too hard for me to continue being involved without my mum. I do believe it laid some foundational stuff for me and possibly why I felt so called back years later, who knows?!
I had got into the only Church of England High School in Manchester, Trinity, based on our faith and church attendance. And I had told my mum that no matter where we moved house, I was NOT changing high school. This meant I only went to one high school, and I actually really liked school. We did move house twice during those 5 years, that I remember. Honestly we moved that much that I really do lose track of when we lived where.
It was outside of school that I began making bad decisions. By the time I was about 14 years old, I was hanging out with friends where we lived, drinking in the park. Drinking turned into taking amphetemines (whizz/speed), and starting to go out to pubs and clubs.
I began just wanting to fit in & be liked. I had so many identity issues going on, growing up with no dad, being mixed race, living in a single parent household, money issues, my mum was battling depression while trying to bring up 4 of us – I don’t know how she did it to be honest.
In general, I was a good kid who hated breaking rules. I’ve never skipped a day of school, not even a lesson! I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I began to be obsessive about being neat & tidy, my room was usually the only clean room in our house. I know now that life felt so chaotic that it was the only space I could control. But even now mess sends my mind crazy, it’s really hard to feel out of control.
Around 16 years old I started having sex, this ended up with me being pregnant at 17 years old and having a baby boy by the time I was 18. I was a child who now had a child.
Education always seemed to be a way out for me, and I wanted a way out of the life I had experienced. I had done ok in school, and had plans to go to college and then university. I didn’t let my teenage mum situation stop that, but I did take a year out in between college and university. It was during this year out that post natal depression kicked in as I became lonely. All my friends were working or in college and I was stuck at home on my own with a baby.
Going out at the weekends was such an escape, and going out involved getting drunk and drug taking. I took my first ecstasy tablet at 18 years old, after I had become a mum. Makes no sense eh? I just wanted to feel good to be honest, to have a good time. My flat became the after party spot at weekends and I moved on to taking cocaine. I was never addicted to the drugs, I was a social user. But through the week I continued to feel rubbish as the come down from the drugs took effect and so did my reality – single teen mum, struggling everyday to get by, depressed, feeling hopeless, often suicidal, wanting a way out.
Sometimes I felt like I was living a double life. I had my head screwed on in so many ways while at university, never missing a lecture despite any hangovers; getting all my work submitted while looking after a baby; having that desire to pursue my education and start a career. But then at the weekends, or when I went out, all sense was gone and “drunk Amber” came out to play, drinking herself into an oblivion to block out her reality and jumping from one bad relationship to another, just wanting to be loved.
Some of the partying was fun, I am not going to lie about that, but life wasn’t fun. I found my teenage years quite difficult and do wish I had had more guidance and counsel; and more role models of what life could be like.
Did things improve in my 20’s? That’s for the next blog…….