All Because of You
By: Jessica Bartels
I remember when you traced my name in cursive on my Fisher Price easel. Learning to read and write came from you. You taught me how to be a woman even if you don’t know it. You taught me to be a lady. In simple ways you taught me to cook, clean, and how to hustle. You taught me survival before I was wise enough to understand.
You taught me how to read and write my name before I went to Head start. That was in your sporadic sober periods. As we both got older, they grew far and few between. Its funny how you always tend to hold on to good memories and try to bury others.
You taught me to be a lady without words. What you did in the shadows haunted me as a child. . Your revolving door and the slew of men was an embarrassment. You were so well known in the streets that I remember fighting because of it so many times. People called you a whore. I could get pissed but I couldn’t deny it. You put me in many predicaments. You were the person I promised to never become. Things that upset you as a child you may empathize with as an adult. You used to piss me off but now I understand why you did what you did. Even if I wouldn’t do the same, finally you receive the deserved empathy.
Cooking and cleaning came naturally. You were responsible for that too. You put the fear of God into me if I didn’t do things the way you wanted them. You made it difficult because what you wanted changed depending on what type of high you were experiencing. You didn’t show up for days at a time. You left me no choice but to learn to cook. At least your addiction didn’t grow deep until I was eleven.
You taught me how to hustle because that’s all you ever cared about. You told me every man was simply a pawn in the game of money. Behind cracked doors, without your knowledge, I learned how to grow, buy, cook, and sell drugs. You showed me more hustle than any movie. Drugs were in abundance and, if I wanted to learn, you would have taught me how to get high too. You were never paying attention to who was paying attention to you. In those moments you disgusted me so I never watched.
You taught me the difference between love and survival. You lived by survival until I was old enough to be on own. You endured so many beatings. Your skin bled when your ex-boyfriend struck you with a phone cord all over your naked body. You were dragged by the hair when you tried to call the police. You are not a bad mother. Because of who you were, I have been molded to who I am.