In looking back, I now I realize that much of my motivation in my early life was about escaping the pressure cooker environment that was my family home. Everyone was doing the very best that they could, but the actual parameters of the space and the situation were such that things were cramped and emotionally heated. It was a three bedroom, 1 bath house, aprox 1100 sq. ft., shared by two adults and 5++ kids, who were home most of the time since we homeschooled.
Thankfully we lived directly across the street from a public library, which became almost a second home to me and my siblings. There were even times when we went over to the library to use the bathroom in emergencies when the bathroom at home was already occupied.
My siblings and I all had set chores, which was fine, but when I was around the house (which was most of the time), I got drafted into helping out with many other things just because there were always things that needed to be done: younger siblings who needed diaper changes, or snacks, or stories read to them, food that needed to be prepped and cooked, laundry that needed to be washed and folded, etc ad nauseum.
With so many people, especially kids, underfoot in a small space, our home was essentially in a constant state of managed chaos. I was my mom’s “Right Hand”, and was expected to pitch in and help out with anything and everything whenever needed. As much as I loved my family, I resented not being able to just be a kid and having so much responsibility and expectations put on my shoulders.
As an energetically sensitive child, I was affected by the emotions and thoughts of everyone else in my family as they each dealt with everything they were dealing with, in addition to living as part of a large family in a small house. Naturally everyone had their own unique challenges, and with limited resources to go around, no one’s needs were ever fully met. Sometimes this was unbearable.
One of my younger brothers had a speech impediment, making it difficult and frustrating to communicate with him. One day he was crying after being snapped at, and I felt his utter sense of defeat, inadequacy and confusion.
“Stop yelling at him! Stop yelling at him! He can’t help it,” I cried.
I was able to speak up for him that day, and my outburst led to my parents realizing that he had learning as well as communication difficulties. It took a lot of work over many years, but they got him the help that he needed to overcome his severe dyslexia and speech issues and unlock his natural gift for mechanical engineering. He ended up going to a prestigious university and today is successful and well adjusted, but I hate to think how his life might have turned out if I had not spoken up for him.
I eventually realized that I was calmer and my life was easier the more time I spent away from my chaotic home environment. I spent more and more time at the library or on long walks exploring the neighborhood–anything to get out of the house. I was intrigued by how other families lived, and what beliefs and values led to various life outcomes. When I reached the end of 8th grade, my mom was expecting yet another baby, and I decided I would to go to the public High School.
I am committed to writing a book over the next several months. To help keep me on track and accountable, I am publicly committing to posting content chunks here on the blog each Friday. These chunks of writing won’t be perfect and they will go through further editing before the book is ready for publication. Your constructive comments and feedback are always welcome!