Kraft Dinner and Hot Dogs – My Story
Strangely enough, Kraft Dinner and hot dogs have played a big role in my life. In fact, this meal marked the moment I turned from victim to survivor in my own story. This meal made me so sick to even think about and for a long time, I couldn’t understand why.
This is my story.
THE NIGHT IT ALL CHANGED
My heart breaks for that little girl.
I can see her so clearly, wearing her pink Minnie Mouse pyjamas getting ready for bed.
That night her parents had left her home with a sitter. Well, more of a family friend. It was her mom’s friend, a guy she had grown up with, graduated high school with, now they were raising their families together. No one would have ever guessed that this man was a monster in disguise. No one ever had any reason to be suspicious. The thing was, he was sick inside and the things he was capable of were unthinkable.
He changed that little girl for the rest of her life.
My parents had left me with someone they thought they could trust. Sadly, when they came home that night, everything was just different.
Different in a way no one would ever understand until years later.
Now as I write this, I can remember so clearly being in my closet that night. Hidden away, so that no one else would ever know. Being told that it was okay. That I shouldn’t tell anyone though because they might be mad at me. So I never did. I kept quiet. I buried the secret so deep that even I forgot. Hid it away in such a secret place it was like it never happened. Except, it did.
Whether I was aware of it or not, this event would play a huge role in my life for decades.
PAIN HAS A WAY OF CHANGING HOW YOU SEE THE WORLD.
I grew into an angry teenager. One filled with insanely deep hate. I was consumed with a feeling of being misunderstood, unseen and unwanted.
Being stuck in your pain has a way of impacting you. It can leave you feeling like you don’t belong or have a safe place to call your own. Because really, even your own mind is a dangerous place to be and you can’t escape it. This pain can take you to places you should never go. Often, when left longing for a place to belong you are willing to do anything it takes to find one. So, you look for acceptance anywhere you can find it. Even if that place is unsafe and otherwise unthinkable.
At the age of 14, I found a place that felt like I belonged. It was in the arms of a 23-year-old. I believed that finding a sense of belonging was the answer to stopping all the hurt I had felt for so many years. I didn’t know at the time how wrong this was. Being young and nieve I had no idea I was being taken advantage of. I thought I had found someone I could trust.
This relationship did not last long. He told me I needed help. That I needed to seek counselling. He broke my young heart. I did the exact opposite of what he told me. Much like most 14-year-olds tend to do when told what to do. I thought I was ok. In fact, I thought I was better than ok. In my mind, I had found the answer. I found something that fixed the dark hole inside of me. SEX!
Sex was my first real experience with numbing out.
When I was with someone else I didn’t think about how much hate, confusion, and discomfort I felt in everyday life. This was my first real experience with escaping myself. As a result, I became extremely sexually active at a young age. It was all I could think of, all I wanted, and all I cared about.
Again though, I kept it all hidden. I knew it wasn’t something I should talk about so I didn’t.
I knew that someone my age shouldn’t be having the experiences I was with sex. This knowing brought with it a sense of shame.
With online dating sites, it was easy to find my next fix, the next means of only hurting myself more. All it took was me lying about my age.
This behaviour of meeting people was something I did for years. As I got older it was easier and quicker to meet people. It was so easy that I could do it almost nightly, and I did. It caused a huge amount of chaos in my life. I thought it was ok. I thought what I was doing was normal. At this time I was 19, and weren’t all young adults overly sexually active?
It wasn’t until my best friend said to me one day that she couldn’t continue being my friend until I got my situation figured out. She said she thought I might have a problem. She didn’t know what the problem was at the time however she could tell I was causing harm to myself. Thank goodness she was honest with me. This allowed me to stop and think. Maybe I did have a problem. But what possibly could that problem be? That’s when I found Sex Addicts Anonymous.
YOU MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM.
SAA was a real game-changer for me. I listened to everyone talk and knew that yes, I did have a problem.
Things were not ok. My behaviours were extreme and not like everyone else. It was hard, in that moment I had come face to face with the fact that I had a problem. It felt very overwhelming to finally say I wasn’t ok.
What I did not expect was what came next. Sitting in my car after that meeting it was like I was smashed in the face with a bag of bricks. Or something like that. I knew at that moment what had happened when I was five.
It all came flooding back to me. It was like I was reliving that exact moment. Suddenly, I knew what my truth was. I knew what had caused many years of pain. When the reality of it all set in, I couldn’t handle it. I lost it, I was having a full-on breakdown and couldn’t breathe. Right then and there I had no choice except to let it all out.
From that point on I began to journal and write down my thoughts. I found comfort and my voice in journaling. I used this as an outlet to get my story out, to start healing. When writing it I only had the intention of keeping it to myself. However, this letter would soon become the way I told my parents about what had happened.
I would love to say that at this point I was able to get my shit figured out, to start living a better life. That just isn’t true, I was still very much in the chaos and suffering for a long time.
DOUBTING MY TRUTH
Something strange occured when I told my parents what had happened. It was like my story had become clouded with uncertainty. It was as if I wasn’t sure if it had happened or if it was another story I had made up.
You see, another coping mechanism of mine had been compulsive lying. I would lie about anything and everything. I lied to build myself up. To be more than what I was. I wasn’t ok with who I was, I didn’t feel I belonged. So, I lied to feel accepted. I found ways to justify my lies because in the moment it made me feel powerful. With my lies came a sense of comfort. It never worked and did a lot of damage.
Here I was wondering if I was telling the truth about something I could feel so deeply in my bones. This hurt. In reaction to the pain, I did what I knew how to do best. Numb out.
REPLACING ONE ADDICTION WITH ANOTHER
This time though, in my search to numb out I knew I had to do something different. I had already come to accept I had a problem with sex, and I couldn’t resort back to that. Instead, I swapped one addiction for another.
Instead of numbing out by having sex, I numbed out with drugs.
The thing with suffering is that if you don’t get the tools, do the work, and learn the lessons needed to heal the pain will haunt you. This pain will continue to impact you in the most devastating of ways.
I wasn’t ready or equipped to deal with having this memory from my childhood or feeling the confusion that came with it. Could I bury something so devastating and completely forget about it? Was I just being dramatic and making up another story just so I could feel I belonged?
My addiction continued for years. Because I was unable to cope with the thoughts in my head, to me this felt the only way I could make it day-to-day.
My addiction did not always look the same. Sometimes it would be drugs but that was only until I felt it was becoming an issue. Which was rare. When I did feel like it was becoming an issue, I would find myself at an NA meeting.
When I was not using drugs I would often find myself living the healthiest lifestyle I possibly could. Running, eating well and get the rest I needed. The feeling of looking better and feeling better became addicting. It soon became my comfort zone. I went after it as hard as I could. There was nothing that I wanted more than that feeling, and I wanted it as fast as I could get it. I developed an eating disorder quite quickly after. The complements and feeling of people admiring the way I looked only added fuel to the fire.
Soon after, I decided that wasn’t enough, and I became obsessed with working. I worked two jobs. One being a 12 hour night shift and the other a 6 hour day shift. This allowed me no time to rest and no time to think about how much I was hurting. I was making money and looking good. Wasn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t that the definition of success? I again fooled myself into thinking I was ok.
In the end, it didn’t matter what it was that I became addicted to. I needed to numb out and I would do anything to not feel.
THE MESSAGE THAT CHANGED IT ALL
Then one day a Facebook message came. It asked me if I was willing to share my story. The person on the other end of the message had heard my name come up and knew that we shared a common experience. The person that harmed me as a child had also harmed them.
Thankfully, I did.
I went to the police and reported it. In that moment, I relived my experience as a young child in as much detail as I could.
Finally action was taken. Action that eventually led to him admitting what he had done in court.
He validated my story. I finally knew that this confusing story I had in my head was more than that. It was my truth.
I was finally able to fully believe my own story. I no longer questioned myself. It was freeing.
I was able to really look at myself and the pain I was in. With some clarity I made the decision I had to get serious about getting better. I had to heal or else I would continue on this path of destruction until it took me out.
WITH HEALING THINGS DO GET BETTER.
When I look back on it though, one thing sticks out in my mind. In the smallest way my story never left, there was a part that was never forgotten. After it happened, I could no longer eat Kraft Dinner and hot dogs. It made me sick. I couldn’t even handle the thought of it. I was young and it didn’t even seem like a thing to me. My parents, to them I had gotten picky with what I wanted to eat. Since it wasn’t something we ate often it was a nonexistent issue.
My relationship with this specific meal would continue for many years. Until one day at the police department when asked to tell my story, it became vividly clear. It was the meal he had made that night.
Life has gone on since then. I have found a different way of living. I’ve dug deep and worked on healing my pain and the impacts it had on my life. I’ve put in the work. I have journeyed through a lot of the suffering and hardships that come with it. I can now eat Kraft Dinner and hot dogs. After so many years, I have taken back the power I lacked for such a long time.
A NEW WAY OF LIVING
In the years since all my healing began, I have become a mother to two wonderful children. Found a loving and supportive partner. Been able to use my life lessons to help others live a better life. I found a way to work on loving myself for who I am and all that I am. I have been able to find out firsthand just how amazing and beautiful life can be. It is true that there is life beyond our struggles. When I was hiding from my truth, desperate to numb out and fully living in chaos I never believed the life I have now was possible.
If there is one thing to take away from all this, it is that life can get better by being honest about our pain, being open to healing and working on moving forward.
One thing will never change though, my heart will always break for that little girl who was exposed to a world she should have never known.
IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW IS SUFFERING AND NEED HELP TODAY, YOU CAN GO TO MY RESOURCES FOR A FULL IN-DEPTH LIST OF MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES TO REACH OUT TO. PLEASE DON’T BE AFRAID TO REACH OUT AND ASK FOR HELP. THERE ARE TRAINED PROFESSIONALS AVAILABLE 24/7 TO HELP WITH WHATEVER IT IS YOU MAY BE GOING THROUGH.