I have been writing here for a few years now, and this is one part of my story I have held back for reasons that will become obvious. So here it is, my mother gave me permission to prostitute when I had just turned 19 – one year out of high-school.
I was quickly becoming a financial burden, and the person who brought me into the world did not hold back in letting me know how much she resented having to pay anything towards my existence. What I know now, but did not know then is that she is a narcissist. As I grew into a teenager, the name-calling and psychological abuse worsened. She was hateful, spiteful, vindictive and manipulative. And I suffered.
I attempted suicide three times, each time landing me in hospital. I was bi-polar, I had bulimia, I self-harmed. I hated myself. All the while, the mother swans about letting everyone know she is a victim of me.
At 18, I am slowly becoming heavily medicated on Efexor. At the highest dose I was taking two 150mg and one 75mg capsule every day. If you know anything about this kind of medication, it means I was like a zombie. I was numb. But I was alive.
Around the time I am heavily medicated, I have an idea for me being a financial burden. I walk into my mother’s bedroom and say
“I can be a prostitute”. She says, “you can help pay the bills”.
Now you may wonder where this idea came from. I had read a book titled ‘Pretty Baby’ when I myself was a child – a story about a girl born in a brothel. My reading skill was good for my young age, and with so much lack of parental supervision, living in a hoarder home of all kinds of books and magazines, I read a lot of material not appropriate for my age.
So, that’s what I do. I get on a train, and go to the nearest brothel. Knowing where to find one was easy. During high-school, one of my friends lived a few blocks away from a large very well known brothel. And when we walked past I remember we would laugh at people walking in or out.
I enter the brothel, the lady behind the desk says she thought I was a child crossing the street and that she was surprised to see me enter their establishment. She takes me to a room, checks my arms for track marks and asks why I want to work there. I explain that I’m a university student and that my course is very expensive. She makes me feel like she really cares, and seems worried about me. She’s also worried that my hair is very short, but says I’m young so it shouldn’t be a problem. She shows me the rooms and then takes me to the girls change area at the back. I look at my reflection in the mirror and the whole room seems to spin behind me…and then I need to go to the toilet.
My bowel is having an evacuation. In retrospect, I think my body was reacting to fear. However, I don’t have the insight to understand myself at this point. And so begins, a life as a ‘working-girl’, which I learn is the correct way to refer to a prostitute. But not just that, I feel as though I’ve found my true family. The receptionists, the other girls, these are my real friends and the people who truly care about me. The brothel felt like home. And that is how it was for a significant period of time.
I look back to that fork in the road and am filled with the utmost of hatred towards ‘my mother’. How could she be so blasé towards me. I needed a mother and she failed me in the worst way possible. She kept me in a child-like state, I may have been 19 but I knew nothing about the world. I knew nothing about how to find a place to rent, how to connect a utility bill, I did not know how to cook, I did not know how to take care of myself.
I had slept with two boys and had very minimal sexual experience. I learnt everything about sex in a brothel. I was a teenager. And that’s the kind of clients I attracted, men who wanted the youngest girl possible.
For so long, my life was about recovering from mental illness. It was about staying alive. I have fought so damn hard to turn my life around. This woman who brought me into the world took away so many possibilities, she took away my innocence. And, I don’t think I can ever forgive her. When I asked for permission to prostitute, why didn’t she slap me?! Why didn’t she shake me?! Why didn’t she get angry with me?! The only reason I can think of, is that at the very core of her feelings towards me, is that she didn’t care. I didn’t really matter. And I internalised her hate for me for a very long time.
Although I still struggle with symptoms of depression and managing my triggers, I never gave up believing that I was going to have a better life one day. In and amongst the poor decision making and drug addiction, I studied my way through three degrees. I learned how to learn. And then I became a social worker. I got married. I had children. And I continue to work hard to build the life I know I deserve.
I now live with the darkness of the past, wondering if it will affect my future. The stigma of having been a prostitute. At the end of the day, stereotypes do exist. People generally don’t understand and people do judge, it’s human nature. How does one find peace and reconcile the past? This is the part I still struggle with.
When I look at myself through my own eyes, I am proud of the woman I am. I am a survivor.
When I look at myself through the eyes of the wider community, I feel ashamed and as if I don’t have any right to exist in the life I’ve now created.
I want to be proud of myself, I want to scream from the roof tops “I SURVIVED!” I want the world to see that it is possible to turn a life around, it is possible to create a value system, create goals and live by them. That people can and do change. That stereotypes are just that, they are not representative.
Most of all I want to be accepted and forgiven. But in doing so, I first need to accept and forgive myself. And that is something I don’t know how to do. Or perhaps, something I am yet to do.
Despite these feelings, in some ways, and rather counterintuitively, this decision made at the age of 19 marked the very beginning of being able to heal from childhood trauma. I was forced into another world, and in this world I found the strength to stop anti-depressants. I realised I didn’t want to die. I began to live a life.
That being said, in no way am I here advocating for this decision, but having gone through this journey it’s only natural to search for silver lining of experience.
As an adult, I look back and see there was a perfect storm brewing and it culminated in me travelling a path less travelled. I can only hope that this path is leading somewhere great, perhaps my story can inspire one person not to give up on themselves, because that would be great.
Mary Lock – Depression
James – efexor
kika – Boudoir
Michael Ferire – Mieux
tdion15 – survivor