Kailey, 20, was referred by the Adult Ed Centre and I chose to include her, even though she was living with an aunt and uncle in [a city other than the selected destinations].  The interview took place in their lovely home.  Kailey is a tiny woman – 5’, 96 pounds – and looks a bit odd at first glance, because of a chronic genetic condition, we learn.  A major theme is an abusive relationship with a controlling older man, rooted in the vulnerability of feeling isolated from her peers because of her physical condition.  The interview was rushed at the end by my being late for my next appointment so I sent Kailey her narrative by e-mail which resulted in an extended conversation, some of which has been added to this narrative with her permission. 

FM:  Okay, let’s start with you telling me something about your family, where you were raised, who was in the family, what they did for a living, etc.

Okay.  I was born and raised in Country County, in [a very small village].  I had 2 sisters, one I grew up with.  My dad owns his own company, he’s a custom [craftsman].  My mom is a head custodian, and she kind of runs the business with dad, too.  She does the book-keeping, answers the phone, invoicing.  All my dad does is go do the jobs. 

FM: Okay, but explain to me ‘2 sisters, one of whom you grew up with’. 

My one sister has a different dad than me so she had kinda done her own thing since she was like 17 and she wasn’t really a part of either family.  So I didn’t get to see her very often growing up, versus my sister. 

FM:  And is your sister that you grew up with older or younger? 

Yes, she’s older.  They’re both older.

FM: And where is she now? 

My real sister is in [a small town in Farm County], and my other sister is in Middletown. 

FM: Okay.  So talk about when you first began thinking about leaving home. 

A long time ago.  I’ve always wanted to move out of Country County.  I’ve never planned on staying around.  I would move back, retirement wise, but I don’t think I’d ever move back now.  I just knew it wasn’t for me, if that makes sense.  I probably started thinking about it before I graduated elementary school.   I never wanted to be there. 

FM: So how did the actual move happen?  What did you do, and also how were you thinking about those choices?

I was planning on going to college right after high school and I didn’t really think it through very well.  So I chose the wrong program and I basically used it as an excuse to leave.  Because I figured that was the easiest way I’d be able to do it.  So I moved to Middletown.

FM: And what did you take? 

Risk security management.  But I was supposed to be in Community Justice because I wanted to do more of youth worker, parole officer, that type of thing.  When I was in Middletown, I couldn’t really find work.  Like I dropped out of college after a few months, it was October.  Withdrew from school, tried to find work.  I finally got full-time work in the summer and there was an incident type thing that happened late fall and I was discharged from work.  And I kind of went crazy, that’s the easiest way I can put it.  Yeah, and it was like I had a lot of mental health issues.  And I ended up moving home in December of last year so I could kinda get my head on straight, just kinda recoup and… I was seeing someone I shouldn’t have been at the time, so that was one of the reasons why I was having so many personal issues. 

I ended up moving to [this city] in May.  I was going to go back to school at [the local community college] this September but I got tuition rates and payment stuff all messed up, and I missed the payment date so I lost my place in the program because I couldn’t come up with the money that fast.   I figured that it was the wrong program that I was going to do anyhows, so it’s probably a good idea that I didn’t go. 

FM: Can we unpack this a bit? Like…as a high school student, did you always plan to go to post sec, and what did the planning consist of? 

I did and I didn’t.  I knew that I should go to school, and it was important, it would be the right thing to do, but I never really had the motivation, that drive to go to school.  I never really liked school to begin with, so I never wanted to spend another couple of years in school.  It’s just been mostly the past year or so that I really got down to I really do want to go to school.  So the last couple of weeks, months, I’ve really decided what I want to do.  Now it’s just paying off my debt and going back to school, so that will take a while, I know. 

FM: Okay, so the plan was to use school as an excuse to get out of Dodge?

Yeah.  It was also, I thought it would help me get away from the relationship I was in at the time.  That was a pretty big motivational factor at the time.  So like I said, I tried to do everything I could to get out.  Which I know now wasn’t the best idea.  I’ve learned a lot of things along the way, I’ll tell you that.  Things that no one else could have taught me.  Life lessons.  Hard lessons. 

FM: So the bad relationship, how long had that been going on at the time you left?

In total, it was almost 3 years.

FM: So since you were 15?

17.  Because I would have met him September 2009 because I graduated September 2010.  He was a lot older than I was.

FM: How much?

22 years older than I was.  He is turning 42 this year.  So like I said, it wasn’t the relationship I was supposed to be in.

FM: How did you get started with a guy?

How did I get myself into that?  Man! I had been seeing someone from high school.  We’d been together 3 years.  The older guy, he lives a few doors down from my parents’ house, and the boy I was seeing at the time, him and his friends were playing with a remote control car on the road and – it’s hard to say it without names – the older guy kinda played with those things too, knew about them, so they started talking, and both of them liked trucks, and my boyfriend’s dad was a mechanic, so they had that in common.  And they were working on a show truck, y’know, working on a truck and making it look cool, whatever those guys do.  And he invited us over a couple of times.  That was basically how I met him.  We didn’t know how old each other were because I can at times look older than I am.  And I’m also more mature for my age.  And he looks a lot younger than his age.  So I didn’t really think it was a bad thing, I guess.

FM: What did your folks think about this? 

They didn’t really like that I was going there all the time, like I’d go there almost every day.  I’d like help him watch the dogs.  My dad never really talked about it.  I think he was almost jealous because I was spending so much time with the older guy, like he was almost the same age, and I think my dad thought I was looking to him more like a father figure, than him.  Because my dad wasn’t an affectionate kind of guy when I was growing up.

 Which wasn’t the case at all.  Eventually my parents really started to voice their concern, because the relationship went from good to bad, really baddest.  Like, it wasn’t a real relationship type thing.  Like, he was seeing other people, and his ex-wife and stuff.  It wasn’t a real relationship, I know that now, anyway.  It’s part of those hard life lessons.

FM: But it sounds like you were quite entranced with him, what you thought the relationship was or could be… the...

Different, or what I wanted.  I guess I was just young and stupid.

FM: No, there’s an attraction of older men, they have sophistication, often money, opportunities that kids your own age don’t have…

Yeah, it was nice because we’d go around all the time and I got to dress nice.  I matured very quickly because I kinda had to act his age.  So I had to dress nice and casual, pretty, not jeans and a t-shirt type thing.  Always having to be well-kept, like he would take me to do my hair all the time, see that it was nice.  Now I know it was just a control factor, but at the time I liked it.  Then it got more and more controlling and I just got to learn that this is not what a relationship is supposed to be like. 

FM: But it was hard to get out of. 

It was.  Because I always had a fear of being alone, I guess.  I’m the type of person where I love affection and it’s not like I always crave attention, it’s me me me, I just like that affection, like a partner type.  I just actually got out of another relationship a couple of weeks ago, and his birthday was yesterday and he turned 30.

FM: And you’re how old?

I am 20; I’ll be 21 this spring. 

FM: So still a preference for older men?

Yeah, I don’t know, it just kinda happened that way.  It wasn’t – like I had friends in [this city] and they invited me to their rehearsal studio, like they have a jam space.  Somebody had invited me there to hang out and I just happened to meet him, and I didn’t find out how old he is until we started talking. He doesn’t look 30.  My mom says that, too: what is it about older guys?  It’s funny because I’m kind of [with a new guy] – I’m not seeing him, we’re friends, we go out for a beer and stuff.  He’s 27. He’s friends of our family. 

FM: Okay, so difficult relationship, want to get out of town in any case, ‘choose’ Middletown but not too planful about which course because you don’t really intend to stay in school?

I had intentions on staying in Middletown.  My ultimate dream is to be out West, but I figured Middletown wasn’t too bad.  It was still close enough to home but big enough that nobody knew me.  Which I like – I still don’t talk to anyone I went to high school with.  Like I talk to one best friend, and there’s one good friend who moved out to Saskatchewan.  I don’t have the time of day for Country County.  So anything to do with Country County, I don’t have much care for. 

FM: Why is that?  Did they...

I just don’t like the people there.  I don’t like the life styles.  I don’t like the way they live.  In Country County, everybody has to know everybody’s business because there’s nothing else to do. And I feel like that town is very uneducated which makes it worse.  My theory is that because there are so many people who are uneducated that they don’t have anything intellectual to talk about, so they talk about each other.  That’s personal experience. 

FM: Okay.  So in Middletown, finding the anonymity you crave.  Where were you living – did you start in res and then move out or what?

No.  Because I don’t like people, I had to get my own apartment.  I don’t like large crowds.  I don’t like people watching what I do.  Like even here, as much as I love this house and love my aunt and uncle, I just prefer to be by myself.  Not that I do bad things, I just like to be alone.  I’m a very paranoid person.  I’m very self-judgmental, so it’s like I feel, like even if I’m making tea, I have to do it a certain way in front of people.  It’s so hard to live with. 

Like I’m trying to learn to play guitar, but it’s really hard because I worry that people will think I suck.  And I do, but it’s just that I worry what people think.  So it’s basically a lack of self-confidence which I’m actually really starting to get over.  I think playing guitar has really made me kinda break those boundaries.  My friend who has the rehearsal space, he says you’re never going to learn to play guitar if you keep shying away.  And he always jokes with me, How bad do you want to play guitar?  And I really do want to play like them.  So that’s what’s been helping me get over those self-confidence issues.  And the fact that I want to prove to someone – someone told me that I’ll never learn to play guitar, that I’ll give up on it, that I just can’t do it.  So that’s one motivation, I want to be able to say I told you so.  Do something good.  I need that achievement.

FM: So has that lack of self-confidence been a burden forever?

Yes.  I’ve always had self-confidence issues since elementary school.

FM: What you do think is at the base of it? 

My disorder that I was born with.  My medical issues that I have.

FM: Will you talk a bit about that?  Are you comfortable doing that? 

It’s called cliedocranial dystosis. I had a genetics test done actually that proved it. 

FM:  When was that? 

I believe it was 2010 through the health – the Middletown health clinic, whatever it was.  Their building is right by the hospital.

FM: But in Middletown, after you’d left home?

Yeah.  It was kind of – I wanted to get a complete hysterectomy because my condition can be passed on to my kids, because it’s genetic.  So I figured if I dealt with that I wouldn’t have anyone else go through what I had to go through.  Because growing up wasn’t fun.  But they talked me out of it.  They gave me more information that if I ever did want to conceive, they could test for it.  It’s kinda like an implant type thing, they can take my eggs, find the ones that are affected by my condition and the ones that aren’t so I could conceive a healthy child. 

FM: Wow, that’s a big burden.  Talk a bit more about how growing up with the condition made life hell, specifically what about you, your appearance, ‘gives away’ that you have a condition. 

I was constantly having to go to Sick Kids.  I was always going to Middletown for doctors’ appointments.  I’ve had so far 8 surgeries.  My condition affects my appearance in my stature.  I’m only 5’, which isn’t that short but short enough.  I’ve always had problems with – well, my condition is a bone condition.  So I’ve had a lot of problem with my teeth. Like my baby teeth wouldn’t fall out.  I had braces since the summer going into grade 6.  I’ve had 4 surgeries to date on my jaw, on my teeth.  Like I had basically three sets of adult teeth that were up in my jaw, and most of them were supernumary or duplicates, which meant they weren’t real teeth.  I believe I’ve had 56 removed to date.  After the first surgery in grade 8, I had only 2 teeth in the front bottom, the only adult teeth that have ever come in and they came in behind my baby teeth;  I had to get my baby teeth removed.   And my baby molars.  The rest I had basically wires anchored to the teeth they were pulling down.

FM: It sounds like it was very painful, as well as made you look weird.

Yes.  It was actually the cause of my substance abuse of the time.  I kind of got addicted to the pain stuff and I kinda went overboard with it.  I could get it so easily, so, like, why not?

FM: Was this OxyContin?  Or other pain...

Yeah, there were Oxy’s T3s, morphine, liquid morphine, liquid T3 and Demerol. 

FM: Did people think you had an addiction problem? 

No.  Because I was very careful with it.  It comes into the whole paranoid thing, about people finding out, so I was just very careful with it.

FM: Private. 

Yeah, it was always something

FM: Did you do it with friends?

No, actually no. 

FM: Did your friends even know that you were ‘abusing’ – because you had ample reason to be taking pain pills. 

Not really.  My close friend forever, she knew, she didn’t care.  The odd time we’d take some stuff together.  But it wasn’t really a big thing.  Until grade 8, high school, we kinda did worse things.  I guess.  I never said anything.  I didn’t make it known. 

FM: And did you feel like you looked different?  Was that a factor in feeling alienated, which is what I hear from you – different, not like them, don’t belong

Yes…and no.  My condition is very mild, so I don’t really have the same appearance as some with a severe case of it, so I was able to kinda get away with it a little bit more.  I had a lisp.  I still do have a lisp which is also a reason why I don’t like to be with people and talk, because I just think that people are judgmental.   And that’s me being judgmental, I know, but it’s hard to get out of a mindset once you get in. 

FM: Yes, and being a patient can also give you a sense, a fear, of being looked at because it is in a judgmental way.  Not good/bad as a person, but certainly good/bad re progress, severity, all that stuff.  So it makes perfect sense to me that you developed that mind set.

When I was born in 1993, there were only a few thousand people in the world that had a known case.  And like I say, there wasn’t a firm diagnosis because I had a mild case. 

FM: What did your parents do with this? 

My mom was mostly the one that was with me.  That’s where the whole affection thing with my dad comes in. He never really went to appointments because he never really…

FM: I’s not – it’s different for guys, not just your dad, many men leave that kind of stuff to the women.  Particularly his generation, and – was he raised in Country County?  Is he a ‘country boy’?

He has 3 other siblings.  They were all born and raised in England.  And my dad grew up in [the GTA].  He moved to Country County while he was in high school – he actually went to [the high school there] – so did mom. 

FM: So not a ‘country boy’, really. 

Not as much as mom was, no. 

FM: Where are we, here?  So here’s my take on your story.  Born with a medical condition that more or less defined who you were from early on, then visible medical intervention starting grade 8 that left you looking different at a time when how you look is really

It was huge.  That’s the age where kids start being judgmental toward everyone else.  And everyone has to be cool….

FM: It’s tough.  So would you say you were bullied, or people just treated you as if you were different?

Actually, no.  I mean yes, everybody says things to people, but it wasn’t like I was really picked on, never the chosen one to be picked on.  I had friends, I still did everything.  I danced for like 10 years.  I did school activities, sports.  So it wasn’t like I was a little loner in school.  It was just more my own thoughts that made me separate from everything. 

FM: Did anyone identify this as a problem?  Were you ever offered counseling to help deal with that sense of differentness? 

No.  I didn’t make it an issue.  I never really said anything.  I never … it wasn’t until I moved – it was a month before I moved back to Country County before I actually got counseling.  But not in school.  For the most part, I was happy, but I was still, I limited myself.  Does that make sense?  I’ve always had the attitude of Just Do It, which can be a bad thing.  If I had to get up and do something stupid in class, like for drama, just do what you have to do, get through it – well, I quit drama for that reason.  But like I said, I limited myself. 

FM: You’re saying that you limited the situations you put yourself into to those that you thought wouldn’t embarrass you, to the extent that you had the choice?  That you closed off opportunities rather than risk ‘failure’, embarrassment

A huge thing for me is disappointment.  So that’s one reason why I won’t do something is that I’m afraid that it’s not going to work out and I’ll be disappointed.  Or like I won’t make plans because I’m just afraid that they won’t happen and I’ll be disappointed.  These are all kinds of things that I’ve just been learning myself the past couple of weeks, actually. 

FM: What has the magic of the last couple of weeks been?  It seems like it marks a significant change in direction for you.

Well, I finally came to forgiveness of what the older person I was seeing has done.  I’d never really let it go, [never] believed that part of my actions were the results of what had happened.  I was in denial about a lot of things.  I started going actually to a church as well this summer.  So from there I made new friends.  I’ve things to do.  We siege, like a silent protest, to raise awareness about anti-abortion.  We’re very pro-life.  We support choice, trying to get more information to those who are thinking about abortion, to give them more resources, courage and strength to continue on with it.  So that’s that. 

FM: Is the guitar guy part of this group? 

No.  But he studied the Word for a few years, so that was one of the things we had in common when we met each other and stuff.  So he’s not religious, doesn’t go to church and things.  But he does believe.  And he does have some interests to do with that.

FM: Okay, so it sounds like you’ve found community here. 

I did.  Like when I was in Middletown I never did anything, never went out, never made friends with the people I worked with.  I just didn’t do anything.

FM: Can we swing back to a bit more detail about that time?  We had you in school briefly, while living in an apartment by yourself, then looking for work

I rented a house, actually.  At first the apartment was in the basement, a one bedroom.  I had met an old friend at the college I went to.  She was trying to move out of her apartment, and the upstairs of my residence became available, a 2-bedroom, so we moved upstairs together.  She kept going to school and I didn’t.  It was okay for the most part because she was at school most of the time so I had the house to myself most of the time.  And she never had friends over, so we didn’t do the party thing.  There were never many outside people there.  I’ve never really been a party person. 

FM: Were you on pain killers at this time, or was addiction a thing of the past by then?

I wasn’t.  I kind of stopped I’d say around 2008 which was when I started to smarten up.  Pretty much all through high school I was with somebody and he kind of talked me out of that.  Once he really started to learn my behaviour, he really changed it in a good way. 

FM: This was not the old guy boyfriend, but someone your age?

Yeah, I’m 5 days older than him – so I was the older one.  This was kinda the first real relationship that I had.  

FM: Do you still maintain contact with him?

No.  That was one of the things that I had to let go.  Like I always had resentment towards him, because I left him for the older guy.  Why didn’t you do more to stop me?  Why didn’t you do something about it?  And the same with my parents.  I had to eventually come to forgive them for the wrong thoughts I was thinking of them. Why didn’t they intervene?  Why did they let me go through that?  I wish I still had contact with him, but he’s got his own girlfriend, his own life.  He went to school, got his own job, got his own thing going and I don’t want to get into it.  If he’s happy, that’s all that matters. 

FM: And you’re young.  There’s other fish in the sea. 

Oh yes!  That’s kind of what I’m thinking right now.  There’s always going to be new people, friends, people you come to know.  Don’t hold grudges, don’t hold on to things you don’t need to.  That’s kind of what I’ve come to learn recently. 

FM: This seems like a very fortuitous time to be interviewing you, because it does seem you have just done a 90 degree turn in your life, but if we could just trace a bit more of the path to here…   so we left the story at you and your girlfriend renting the house, she’s at school, you’re looking for work?

Yeah.  She kept at school and back then – that was the height of my anxiety, the lowest point, so I had no motivation to go find work, I had no desire to do anything.  Depression at its finest.   I didn’t know how to get myself out of the situation that I was in, I didn’t know how to better myself

FM: The situation with the old boyfriend?

Yes.

FM: So that followed you to Middletown.

Oh yes, and it followed me to [this town].  Unfortunately.  We had a falling out the summer that I moved away, which was one of the reasons…  There were two reasons I wanted to leave, one was to get out of Country County, the other was to get away from him.  And they went hand in hand, because he lived very close to my mom’s, same town, same street. 

FM: But he followed you?

Yeah, I kinda gave in to it, and I kept going back to it.  I put up with it.  But I didn’t have anybody else, so it’s like he was the only person in my life.  I was scared that I wouldn’t find that someone else. 

FM: So for how long were you ‘stuck’ in Middletown, with the depression?

Until – I was there 15 months before I hit the all-time low.  Somebody – I moved from the house that I was renting to a little apartment building in the north end of Middletown, and there was a crack-house right beside it.  The apartment itself was really nice, on one side of the street were nice old old houses, then the apartment building and then on the other side, slums almost.  I never really researched the area when I found this place.  And I’m pretty sure it was someone who lived beside me who was always following me.  He was always in the parking lot, sitting in the back corner.  Like we had assigned parking spots with out actual apartment number and there were so many times when if I pulled in and seen he was there, I’d just leave again and go around the block and when I’d come back, 9 times out of 10 he was gone.  It was really creepy! There were 2 doors to the building and the one door is the regular opening to the building with the mail boxes and intercom but our keys didn’t fit that door, so we had to enter by the side door, which opened on to the parking lot.  And it wasn’t very well lit.  The parking lot wasn’t very well lit, either.  So I got really paranoid, put a whistle on my keys, and got – it was really illegal – bear spray.  Everybody said you could use in self-defense, but afterwards I found out that it was illegal.  It ended up breaking off my key chain and losing it anyway.  It’s weird.  I always worked until 11, 12, too.  Usually the later it was, the better the chance that he wasn’t there.  It was the early nights, 9 or so. Like I started writing it down – I had a notepad in my car and I’d start writing down when I got off work.  So I’d call my friend when I got home so I could get from my car to the door.

FM: So you’d be on the phone with him while you walked to the door?

Or I’d pretend to be on the phone with him.  I just figured that if I was on the phone, someone would hear me or something.

FM: Sounds terrifying.

It was.  I felt safe in my building, because you had to have a key to get in.  And it was a 3-storey walk-up and I was on the 3d floor and it had a balcony, and the balcony had wire half-way so nobody could climb up.  So once I was in my apartment I felt safe.

FM: What kind of work were you doing?

I worked at Tim Hortons.  It was awesome.  I got – one week I had 46 hours.  I had full time.  I picked up everybody’s shifts.  I worked hard.  I liked it too. I liked the whole hospitality business, like the food service industry.  I was really good with customer service and multi-tasking, that kind of stuff.  It really fit what I could do and I got really good at it.  It was minimum wage but I got good hours and made good money. 

FM: This is the first thing I’ve heard you be unequivocally positive about, and you blossom when you speak of it. 

I know my strengths and my weaknesses.  I just wish I could do more with them.  Like I said I’m really good with customer service and multi-tasking and that kind of stuff, but it’s just the anxiety and paranoia that stops me from getting my foot in the door with work. 

FM: So what brought you back to Country County – you said there was an incident?

Yeah, that guy.  He finally approached me one day when I was with my friend.  We were walking back – I don’t know why we walked because I‘m so afraid of being in the dark I drive everywhere – but we walked and I was so glad my friend was with me.  And the guy approached me and started telling me things about himself and it was so weird!  It was like Leave me alone!  I don’t care!  He asked me for my cell phone number.  My name, who I was, where I worked.  And the whole time my friend and I kept walking and he kept following us.  My friend got really upset and he was starting to get really mad, and that’s when I got scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen and that fear sorta sent me over the edge.  And then I got fired from work.  And it was 3 days before my 3 month probation was up at work.  And they wouldn’t even give me a chance, so double whammy.  So I went crazy.

FM: What specifically led to you getting fired? 

My friend and I went out to a bar because his buddy is part of the band that is playing there.  And because I’m not that kind of party person, I don’t like to drink, I had one beer and before I left I had a vodka at the bar.  And I don’t remember walking out the front door.  So I’m 99% convinced that I was drugged.  My friend was telling me how we were walking home and I was yelling things.  I ended up losing my glasses.  And I was so sick.  And I had to work at 7 the next morning.  And it’s fine, I can have a late night and still get up, because I don’t drink.  I know that I was drugged.  I was so sick.  Nobody believed me.  I tried to tell people at work but nobody believed me, so I decided. Fine.

FM: One of the other kids in this research was also drugged and raped, in Middletown, sort of similar, not a party person so a bit naïve maybe, and victimized…  

Yeah, I wasn’t raped, not in that situation anyways. 

FM: It doesn’t sound like you were drugged with Rhohypnol, whatever the ‘date rape’ drug is. 

My friend was with me the whole night but I’d put my drink down when I went out side for a smoke, and never even thought.  Like people had always said, cover your drink, never let anyone buy you a drink, I knew all that stuff but I’d never been to a bar so it was like it went right over my head, putting that into practice.  I’ve only been to the bar once after that, and people usually go every weekend, and I’m 20 and I’ve only been twice.  And the [second] time, I held my hand over the top the whole time, drank through the straw.  I made sure I was okay.  I went with a friend and a couple of her friends and her friends had some guy friends so there were a bunch of us.  And they were Want a drink?  And I’d say yeah, but I’d have to see the bartender pour the drink.

FM: Sounds like it was a very relaxing fun evening!

It was kinda.  It’s just my thing.

FM: Were you ever diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or maybe OCD?

Yes, I have, all those.  I got fired from work in October.  So more like November was a very rough month, and that’s when I first started cutting myself off from everybody, stopped talking to my sisters, made no effort to do anything but sit at home.  And smoked a lot of weed then.  Like just sitting at home by myself all day smoking weed.  Basically wallowing in my own self-pity. 

FM: That’s a judgmental way of describing that reality.

A truthful judgmental way.  So I started to see a psychologist or therapist, because apparently those things are different.  A counsellor type person through my mom’s work, because part of her benefits includes counseling for extended family as well.  So that’s when she really made me realize and kind of admit to myself that I was very depressed, had very serious anxiety issues, that I had an unhealthy life style, which I know that I did. 

FM: Medication?

I started taking anti-depressants.  At first she thought I could have been bi-polar so I started taking this medication that was an anti-depressant but was also used in bi-polar research stuff.  Which kinda made me go more crazy.  So I switched to a lot of anti-anxiety medication stuff and nothing was working.  I still have a prescription for the Lorazepam, but I never really take it.  Like I took it the day of my surgery.  There was one day a couple of weeks ago, the older boyfriend who I used to see, like he has a very distinctive car.  I was having a very off day and this car was following me from Middletown almost the whole way home to [this town] and I was just going crazy.  How can this person be following me this long?  They pulled off into a Tim Hortons.  I went around the block and then went in to see if it was him, but it wasn’t, it was some chick, some older woman.  And I got so worked up over nothing.  But I had to take a Lorazepam because I couldn’t think, couldn’t function, I was so boggled. 

Every time I see that car, my heartbeat goes from normal to erratic.  My anxiety will spike extremely quick.  That’s one reason I don’t go to Country County.  And because I’m so paranoid, I have to see who’s driving whenever I see a car like that.  It got to the point where I’d almost follow them.  I’d wait till they stop and then I’d check to see it wasn’t him.  Like I was really crazy. 

He ended up following me one day from Country County, in a different car, to [this town], stalked me, raped me.  In August.  There’s no way he could have found me in [this town] without following me.  Because I never told anybody where I lived specifically.  We have a court order where we can’t speak.

FM: I was going to ask about whether you’d reported him to the police, either before this incident, or for sure after it. 

It was in March of 2012 where it finally got to the point where I – because I’d moved back to Country County in December and I was there from December till May and I was kinda crazy – like that’s when I was doing the counselling thing and medication thing, and being back in Country County, being close to the old boy friend.  I was just a wreck, it was just awful.  We got into an argument and so I drove over to his house, just down from my mom’s, we were talking in the garage and I wasn’t getting the reaction that I wanted, so of course I get more mad and I started trashing his shop.  I got right in his face and I was really mad, so he started to laugh so I spit in his face.  And literally as soon as I did, as soon as I spit in his face – I can laugh at it now but obviously it wasn’t funny then – he stopped laughing and this look came on his face, and I started to laugh because I thought I’d hit his breaking point.  Which I did.  So he grabbed me by my arms and pushed me right back against the garage door.  And just then someone came in, so that stopped it.  But I was so angry that I went to the OPP to try and do something.  That was kind of the start to it. 

He had physically attacked me before which was February of 2011, he almost killed me.  He picked me up by the front of my clothes and literally took me back almost 5 feet and slammed me down on the floor, broke my tailbone, holding me down, the whole time saying Get out.  I only weigh 95 pounds; he picked me up, threw me down on the patio floor, I’m starting to get up, he threw me back down and started choking me.  And I kicked him, the stomach or the groin, which made him stop.  So I just laid on the floor.  And the most crazy part of the whole thing is the person he lives with was sitting on the couch the whole time.  Didn’t even … if that was me, I’d have tried to stop him.  But … I don’t know.  I was very afraid so I didn’t report it, didn’t go to the hospital, didn’t tell anybody.  Told my sister I fell downstairs and hit the recycle bin.  Really stupid story.  I took pictures of [the bruises].  Thought they were on my computer but now they’re not.  Just didn’t know what to do so didn’t do anything.

FM: Then.  But you have now.  Done something. 

Yeah, that was awhile ago.  And like in March, I just hit a breaking point and its like I hate you.  And because someone had witnessed the incident that day I thought it would be more easy to charge him with something else [another attack].  But he told the police that we never even had a relationship, I’m only 20, I’m too young, did the whole I didn’t do it type thing.  So they said they didn’t really have grounds to arrest him without evidence of a relationship.  I had to give pictures and videos of us to prove there was a relationship, and once there was that, they arrested him and charged him with something else that wasn’t even related to me.  We had been going to court since May and finally this September, because of the incident that happened in August, I just wanted nothing to ever do with him again.  I wanted everything to go away, court and everything, so I emailed the Crown Attorney and told him I didn’t want to be a part of the case any more.  So they withdrew it. 

Once they really knew my intentions, just wanting to withdraw, I knew they were probably going to withdraw it anyways because I didn’t have evidence of the first assault, didn’t go to the hospital, take pictures, anything, and the second assault wasn’t so serious, and I would have been charged too if we’d gone through with it, so he’d just go to court on the basis of his history – because he had another charge that wasn’t involved with me.  Someone had called in to say he had all these weapons in his house so they had a warrant that same day and charged him with a weapons charge.  Because I’m pretty sure he can’t have any weapons because of previous history.  He had hand guns, an automatic. 

FM: He sounds like a very bent individual.

Oh yes.  Yes yes yes yes and I kept trying to tell him, you need help, it’s not all me.  But he’s always right.

FM: Okay, I realize I don’t know how the transition from Country County the last time, last spring, to [this town], the apartment, and then now, here, in your aunt and uncle’s house, how that happened.

I kind of came up with a plan.  My original plan was to go out west.  I had everything planned.  How many kilometers I could go with my car, where I’d fill, what route I’d take.  My parents weren’t against it.  They just wanted me to plan it, not just leave.  I wanted to go to school out west.  So that was one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to go out there.  I wanted to live different.  I just wanted to change my life.  To me that was drastic.  The more I started thinking about it, the more I realized I should maybe go to school here first, and then take my schooling and start my career.

So I came up with another plan to move to [this town] so that I could go to school at [the local community college] and my plan was to start working – I already had a job before I moved – I was kinda staying here in March and April – and I had got a job, so I figured I could move down here instead of commuting so much.  And as soon as I moved, they [the job] stopped calling me.  So I moved but all of a sudden I didn’t have work.  It was a big flop.  I was so determined not to move back to Country County so my mom, we made an agreement, to use a line of credit that she has for school and that I was going to work until then.  Like if I worked and saved whatever I made, I’d use it for school and use the line of credit for rent and food and stuff like that.  But I just couldn’t find work.  It was May.  College just got out and stuff. 

Because I was still having issues with my anxiety and the old boyfriend and having to go to court, I still didn’t really have that strong ambition to really get a job, really do something.  I was so afraid if I was working somewhere he would find out and show up one day – I used to think the most ridiculous things. 

FM: So you were living in the apartment in [this town] from the spring, May, on...

Until September.

FM: And then here with your aunt and uncle.

Two big factors.  I’d maxed my credit out.  And two, the old boyfriend found out where I lived.  So I was able to move in here so that I could have a safe environment.  And I think it’s more or less so that they could watch what I was doing.  So it just comes back to everyone wants me safe, so I don’t hold it against them. 

I don’t have to pay rent here, I just had to pay rent for October.  So I can pay off debts with the money I make from the little work I have.  Like it’s not full-time steady regular stuff, kinda unpredictable.  Like I work for a nanny company.  It’s on call, I fill in.  In November I worked almost 10 days with my school, a day care centre.  That’s what’s really been like my starting ground for finding out what I want to do.  So now I actually have the ambition to work, to do things.

FM: So work is being very therapeutic for you?

Yeah, like I am working at a day care which I really like to do so I may be starting school in January, fingers crossed.  Although it depends on if I get this apprenticeship or not.  Like, they need an ECE right now, but I’m not qualified so they can’t hire me, but they can hire me on the grounds of an apprenticeship.  And if they would do that, I could start school and be qualified.  I can do it on line, it’s called distance education, and because we’re not doing too many courses at a time, they’re $70, $20 each, you can work and do this on the side.  And because I don’t like large crowds, that was one reason why I had trouble at college the first time.  I don’t like new people. 

FM: So this will fit you well? How did you come to get the day care job? 

I’m with a company right now, so when they hired me they kind of made it sound like I’d have a lot of work, a nanny-type job.  And when I started I asked for a lot of hours, they kinda told me that the bigger contracts are sort of for seniority, that newbies get the smaller jobs, the call-ins. 

FM: And this is who you think might offer you an apprenticeship?

No.  My aunt and uncle technically own the daycare I was working at, they own the building and because it’s just down the road and because I’m here, I’m the closest person to it, and when they found out my connection with it, they just called me.  And because I was there so much as a temporary, so I’m just hoping.  And I did a really good job there.  I’m just hoping that maybe somebody will pull some strings for me. 

FM: That’s how the world works…

Because I really really do want to work there.  I love it there.  I could see myself working there for a long time, and I’ve never experienced that before.  That’s what’s really motivating me. 

FM: Are you still seeing your counselor?

No.  I could only see her, I think it was February, January maybe, 3 months.  For so many times.  And I could have went to a local Country County counselor, but I didn’t… I went to [a mental health crisis service] – I had a choice, I could either be arrested or go to [the crisis service] so I chose [the crisis service].  My old boyfriend’s arresting officer wanted to arrest me for being a danger to the public or something, self-endangerment...

FM: Okay, so you were pretty scary and he...

Yeah, I kinda went off my rocker, so they told me go to [the crisis service] and get help and we’ll just forget about your erratic behaviour.  So I ended up seeing one of the guys, he is such a great guy, and he got me in touch with, she was an actual psychologist, and she also diagnosed me with depression, anxiety, as well as OCD but they still didn’t think the bi-polar came in.  Like I know now all my problems derived from this bad boyfriend. 

FM: Okay, I think I’ve pieced it all together.  You talk really quickly and it’s been a quite...

Adventure, if you will.  Kinda like going up the stream without a paddle.  That’s how I felt anyhow.  Now I’m going down the rapids in a kayak, going full tilt now. 

FM: I’m so happy that things have taken this good turn.  Because it does seem like you’ve got your feet under you re work, school, a social life, a spiritual life.

I’ve got my emotions in check.  Actually 90% of my problems came from Mr Bad Boyfriend.  I didn’t think that being irritated all the time was from him, but it was. 

FM: The feeling of being free.

I am.  I feel happy, so free.  This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life.  Like I’m learning to play guitar.  Really learning.  This sense of accomplishment is overwhelming.  It’s awesome.  I’ve learned to let things go, let go of grudges, don’t sweat the small stuff.  I really figured out where my behaviours came from, what experiences triggered them.  I was in denial for a long time.  I just pretended that I let all my problems go, but I really didn’t.  It was like self-defeat.  I kind of had to really open my honesty to myself.  I had to admit my faults, my failures, why they happened, how they happened. 

FM: And forgive yourself?

For the most part.  There are some things that I’m still working on.  Because the whole reason why I’m able to do this is I’m reading a book, and it’s called Forgivenesss: how to make peace with your past and get on with your life.  So I really realized I was holding on to resentment for my first relationship, why I was doing some of the things I was doing.  It’s been so crazy.  I’ve just completely changed my attitude.  You have to be honest with yourself, really, and know what you did wrong but reinforce it in a positive way.  So like I’ve forgiven that boyfriend.  There’s a difference between forgiving and forgetting.  It’s about learning to keep certain emotions away.  Like I can think about him but not miss him.  Like I need to love myself before someone can love me.  That’s what I’m working on.  Working on issues that cause a chain effect. 

FM: Well, you’re well on to a life-long journey, sounds of things.  I have some finish-up questions – are we there?  Is this the end of the story? 

Yeah.  That’s the gist of it. 

FM: Often stuff comes out as well around these questions.  They’re intended to be reflective and offer a bit of closure, because some people, like you, have delved deep into material that is private and a bit painful, maybe, and you deserve to be snugged up a bit before I leave you.  And the readers leave this story, that too. 

FM: So…  In order that the people who read this story understand it in the way that you intend, that it has the focus and shape that you intend, would you say what you think is the Most Important Event in this narrative, that influences how it unfolds.  Could be something that happened, or something that didn’t happen, an absence or a hole of some sort.  What do you think?

Well, the single biggest reason why I left Country County was because I knew that I wanted to do something big.  And I knew that it wasn’t there.  And what had happened to me so far this has been, the incident with the bad boyfriend, has been the biggest event in my life, beside my medical issues, they just kind of sidetracked me.  It dimmed my view on what I really wanted.  Because I guess it goes back to the whole mental health issue.  If you’re not all there, you lose focus, you lose ambition.  I always knew that I wanted to do something in an environment that’s not similar to Country County.  Not necessarily in the city either.  There’s also more to do.  I don’t do drugs any more because there’s things to do, people to go out with, jam sessions, hockey games, I don’t need to fill the void with substance use.

FM: Or bad boyfriends.

Yeah.  I’m seeing this guy, we’re just friends.  I met him.  Actually moving here was the reason I met him.  Everything happens for a reason.

FM: Is he the guitar guy?

No, he’s actually a friend of our family’s.  Because when I moved here, my cousin and his best friend helped me move here, and the deal was if they helped me move from [the town] to here, I had to help them with my friend’s Jack and Jill, and through the Jack and Jill I met this guy.  And my cousin is a fan club for the [local hockey club] so he goes to every home game.  So that’s like a thing to do and we went to a home game and this guy was there.

FM: So the next question is a judgment question – your specialty!  People who read this will form an opinion about how it will end up, for good or not so good.  What do you think?

I think people who read my story will think I’m a complete lunatic.  I know what I want now that I’ve gone through this, so I know the right things to do, which in turn I hope will help me to continue to make good decisions.  I think though, the mental health plays such huge part in your life, it controls you, it is you.  I feel as long as you have a positive mind-set, positive things will come your way. 

FM: I’m hearing optimistic but realistic, no guarantee that you won’t have another patch of tough times with mental health,

Everybody will have times.  It’s just all in how you learn to deal with them, how you handle them, how you react to them.  Like every action has a reaction, every reaction has an action.  So if you find out what it is that upsets you and how you learn to deal with that in a positive constructive way, in theory you’ll never have a bad time.  But realistically, you can never make the right decision every time. 

FM: Very wisely said.  Okay, two advice questions.  What advice would you give your younger self, whether or not that younger self would take that advice, that would help this story unfold better or easier… 

Think before anything.  Think before you speak.  Think before you do.  Never act on heightened emotions. 

FM: Last question:  What advice would you give to those of us who would hope to be helpful to young people like yourself? 

Having the right support.  I feel like I didn’t have that.  I felt like I didn’t have any support at all.  Yeah, just having a stable positive support system. 

FM: Okay, thank you very much for this story… which is, by the way, the longest to date…

[Addendum through e-mail follows.]

K: [The narrative is fine as it is.]  I feel a bit bad because I didn't really talk much about moving away, I feel I talked way to much about 'bad boyfriend', if you wanted me to add anything else to the narrative please let me know.

FM:  As I was going over the interview, correcting some of the more evident goofs, I think I understood that you withdrew your case against Mr Bad Boyfriend after the rape situation in [the town].  Did I get that right?  You didn't make it explicit and I didn't ask at the time, because I didn't put together the 'incident in August' with the decision to withdraw from the case until I was re-reading.  It's a really damning indictment of the domestic safety practice, if that is what happened, so I wanted to clarify for at least my own satisfaction.  

FM: I thought your story was fine just the way it was.  I think Mr BB [bad boyfriend] is absolutely central to your moving away story.  You would likely have left even if you hadn't become involved with him, but it would have been a very different story.  And the story it is says something important about you.  You made a comment that never got on paper about your situation changing your family... that's what I'm ref'g. 

K: Yes, I did tell the Crown Attorney I wanted everything dropped after that incident because I had made him mad right before I was able to run away to my car and leave. I was scared he would somehow put something on me and have me charged (as he had a peace bond to not have contact with me, but if I talk to him either I can get charged as well) so I felt if I told the Crown I wanted to withdraw, and did it first before Mr BB said anything, I wouldn't get in trouble.

K: As for the comment about 'changing' my family; around the time of me moving back to Country County my sister and I didn't talk at all, and if we were in the same place (such as my parents house) we just didn't talk to each other, avoided each other. But when I went to counselling in Middletown I kinda lost it on everyone telling them how dysfunctional our family was and that I felt I was alone because my only 2 sisters didn't even care. And my mom felt I was the strongest one to be able to give in and get help. And once I started getting counselling I then realized I was part of the problem too. I had apologized to both my sisters, and asked them to just be patient with me while I figure myself out. Which they were, and why we have a good relationship now. Same goes for my parents. My dad hit a breaking point with how everyone kept information from him so we then all started to communicate with each other and in a positive non defensive way. And its been working great ever since.