My name is Ashly and I'm twenty-three years old. I have lived in Oregon since I was born. I currently reside in the city of Portland, which I think of as home.
Much of my childhood and teenage years were spent living with my grandmother and grandfather in a small city along the Oregon Coast. I wasn't a huge social success at any point in my life, but I did manage to get excellent grades throughout my school years and for the most part stayed out of any real trouble.
Although I followed most of the rules, I was moody and depressed starting around the age of twelve. My personal views, which had just begun to form around that time, were fiercely at odds with my grandparent's and my personality clashed with their old-fashioned ideas with enough impact to cause some serious problems at home.
I had lived with my grandparents from infancy, since my mother was only fourteen when she gave birth to me. She was still involved with my abusive father at that time, and both him and my mother were drug addicts caught up in using and fighting all the time. I didn't see much of my biological mother or father at all growing up. As a child, I simply called my grandmother "mom" and my grandfather "dad" because it seemed natural and it made sense to me.
Twelve was the end of the line for my grandmother, who was sick of dealing with my attitude at that point in time. I was told it was off to live with my mother, who was by that time remarried a third time and had custody of my younger sister. I was strongly opposed to the idea, but they gave me no choice. My grandfather wanted me to stay, but my grandmother demanded that I leave or she was moving out. I knew what that meant. Her manipulation worked and I was sent to live with my mom, stepfather and sister.
I spent a long couple of years roughly adjusting to life at my mother's. Lots of things happened during this time which would not unfold until later, but none of it is too important. The only defining event took place when I was just about to turn fifteen. That was when my mother and stepfather started using crystal meth and became so paranoid that they kicked me out onto the street, totally confused and without any idea what was going on.
My grandparents of course had to take me back in, which I wasn't too happy about. I knew they were just doing it because they had to. There was nowhere else for me to go, and they were just not the type of people who would leave their own flesh and blood out on the streets to die or be preyed upon. Their charity did little to make me feel anything good.
After this, I entered into a period of intense depression in which I basically stopped trying to do the things I once thought I'd wanted to pursue. I wanted to drop out of school, despite my grandparents adamant opposition to the idea. I had to wait until I was sixteen to legally drop out, which I eventually did after suffering my way through sophomore year in that miserable small town high school. My grades slipped enough to be considered a landslide and I didn't care. I just wanted out of there.
After I dropped out of school, my grandparents told me I had two options if I was going to continue to live with them: either I was going to enroll in college or I had to get a full time job. Having no interest in more school at the time, I opted to get out there and get some experience working a real job. I'd never done this before. First, I had to get my GED. That was easy and took no time whatsoever. Then I went job hunting, applying at all sorts of crappy entry-level summer job type gigs.
Right around this same time, my mother had detoxed and had about a month sober. She decided to come down the coast after being hospitalized for a serious staph infection related to her using intravenously. I felt bad for her, seeing her in so much pain. I drove her to her doctor's appointments and was horrified at how gruesome the details of her condition were.
My grandparents decided to rent an apartment for my mother and I to stay in together, about fifteen minutes away from where they lived down at the coast.
It was a decent little attic living space in a very old Victorian style house that had been divided up into about seven different apartment dwellings for tenants. We were at the very top, it was an odd layout but kind of neat. My mom was supposed to be focusing primarily on staying clean, going to meetings and she was halfheartedly looking into a couple of part-time jobs at some local salons. She had been a hairdresser for several years. At the same time, I continued to apply and look for some sort of job.
I ended up getting hired at McDonald's of all places, right before spring break in the year 2004. It seemed a little lame to me, but I was just happy to be hired and have somewhere to be at a certain time. I didn't care how much they looked down on fast food workers, I was proud as could be to tell my grandparents that I was officially employed and started next week. I could tell by their reaction that they were merely humoring me, they clearly didn't take any of this very seriously and seemed to think that once I got a taste of real life I would come crying to them and tell them they were right about everything all along. Well, that never happened.
What ended up happening instead was much worse. During a snow storm in the middle of December that year, my mother and I lost power at our apartment. Since it was our lucky day, we also discovered that there were rather large rats living in the attic space with us, which was lovely. So it's dark, freezing and there are rats nearby. We couldn't go to my grandparent's house because my aunt who lived down the street was visiting and was too much of a stuck-up bitch to be in the same room as my mother, her "problem" sister. It was all rather ridiculous. So my mother's brilliant solution to this situation is to drive in the damn snow all the way to Portland, which was about a hundred miles. It took us forever, since the roads were so icy and the entire way there I could hear the giant trees along the road creaking under the weight of the thick ice weighing down on them. At one point we even had to stop, because one had fallen in the middle of the road and there was some sort of ranger there who was working with a team to clear it out of the road. I hadn't been driving long, but my mom got too tired to drive a couple times and she told me I had to take over. I think I was probably driving 20 miles per hour the entire 20 minutes I drove before waking her up and telling her she had to get behind the wheel again. I was so nervous.
Upon arriving in Portland, she brings me to my stepfather's dingy little VA apartment downtown. It was pretty grimy and depressing there. Full of lunatics and weirdos. Perfect place for Chad, who had gone crazy after he stopped taking the medication to treat his schizophrenia and instead started tweaking. Bad idea. He went off the deep end for good. Like, fruit looped. So we spend the miserable night there in his tiny little room, which was barely big enough for all three of us to awkwardly find room on the floor.
I can't say I was at all surprised by her next move, which was to bring him back down there with us to "hang out" for a few days at the apartment. Of course she told me I was supposed to leave and go stay at mom and dad's. Even though it was our place or whatever. I thought it was pretty lame, but I knew her well enough to understand how futile it would be to say anything.
He had really gone crazy. Chad and I are only twelve years apart. I remember playing video games wit him and watching South Park when I had first moved in with him and my mom. He wasn't the same person he had been then. Now he was trying to show me pictures of his time travel machine sketches and was convinced he had been born a hermaphrodite. Seriously, I wish I was joking or making this up. He'd sit there and make facial expressions as if he were exchanging looks with someone else in the room, and he'd even go as far as mumbling something here and there. When I asked who he was talking to, he nonchalantly responded with "that angel over there."
Needless to say, he was fucking insane. An important note before I continue: my mother had recently told me that she had gotten Chad to admit to all sorts of disturbing things related to being attracted to me. Without going into too much detail, all three of us basically knew that he had some strange thing for me (or at least had in the recent past). Why my mom thought it was cool to bring him into OUR place, I'm really not sure.
So a few days after he got there, my mother is asleep and the two of us are up watching TV, like we did so many other nights before when I had still lived with them. Then he started to touch me in a way that paralyzed me like a deer in headlights, literally. I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing at all. Let's just suffice to say that no boundaries were respected at all, and I was very uncomfortable with the entire thing after it was over.
A couple days later, I broke down and told my mom because I couldn't stand it anymore. To make a long story short, she flipped out and called the cops, told me to leave and go to my grandparents, which I did. She was clearly more upset about what HE had done to HER indirectly than she was about me. That wasn't surprising either.
She used the incident as a convenient excuse to relapse. She took off, and I didn't see her again until I was in court for the grand jury hearing, which I didn't want to be present for at all. She waltzes into the courthouse and starts insinuating that I'm lying about the entire thing, then starts to scream at me right there in the lobby, saying things like, "you fucked my husband, you little whore!" She had to be escorted out by two officers, it was awful. Then I got to go sit in front of twelve strangers and was forced to say out loud what I had already said in my statement which was sitting on the table in front of me. I just wanted to go home. I felt so guilty and like everyone was against me. I was really alone.
Fast forward several months, and I have began experimenting with crystal meth. The same drug that had fucked up my mother so bad. I liked it a lot. Too much. I still do. I was still working at McDonald's, I ended up staying there an entire year. I started to date a guy named Marcus, he worked there too and we got high together. In March of 2005, he and I packed up and moved to Portland. It wasn't long after we arrived here that I rejoined with my mom, who would surprise me in more than a couple different ways.
Apparently, since she knew that I had been using now, she was suddenly comfortable with shooting me up. I found that a little odd and kind of weird, but then again I was kind of fine with it at the same time. Then a little while later, I find out she's escorting on Craig's List. I didn't know anything about that at the time. Marcus and I were broke since we showed up in town, and all we ever did was fight and get kicked out of wherever we were staying because we couldn't stop arguing and freaking out on one another. It sucked. Not to mention, the place he was having us stay was absolutely disgusting and almost damn near unbearable. There were fleas jumping up and darting all over you once you stepped onto the carpet in the dump, and the two friends of his that lived there were morbidly obese so their apartment wasn't the cleanest place. The litter box in the bathroom would get so full of cat shit, that the cat would just start using the kitchen floor in this one little corner once it ran out of room in the box. It was foul. I hated it there.
None of the clothes I brought with me when I moved to Portland fit me. They were all several sizes too large. Everything I had to wear looked ridiculous on me, you could hardly find me in there.
(To Be Continued...)