*Staci was in the hospital, her liver was failing. The hepatitis she contracted years ago was now having its way. The fact that she had been a hard drinker didn't help her health. She thought the alcohol and drugs would help her bouts of depression, but they only made her unemployable and unbearable to live with. Her 16 year-old daughter recently moved out and who knows where her 14 year-old boy was.
She grabbed a mirror from the bedside stand, "How could a 39 year-old look 60? Why am I dying at such an early age?"she asked. Staci looked back on her short life and traced the steps from childhood to her hospital bed.
She never knew her father. Her earliest memories were of mother and her boyfriend fighting. The cramped apartment was littered with beer cans. The yelling and hitting scared her. Soon men in uniforms came and took mom and her boyfriend away. The men with badges gave her to a lady. Staci remembered the car ride to a new house and family. She saw her mother a few more times, but childhood was mostly being shuffled from one foster family to another. Some of the families were nice, but a few of the men made her feel uncomfortable. One man seemed really friendly, and liked to play a secret game of tickle. What started as a fun game began a feeling of shame she could never quite shake.
As she grew older she craved attention from men. Confused about what was good or bad attention, she soon found herself pregnant at 15. She went to a clinic and was told she could be "rid of her problem". The next day she took their advice, and although she was no longer pregnant, she felt her "problem" was never solved.
Staci remembered the depression that haunted her. She tried to dull the depression with drugs. But neither the drugs nor the men could make her happy. Maybe having a baby would make me happy, she thought. But two children and three boyfriends later, the depression returned. Feeling angry, unloved, and helpless, she attempted suicide, but failed at that too.
Her health was broken. The doctor told her, it was either a dirty needle or one of her boyfriends that gave her hepatitis. Her liver was in bad shape. She should get her affairs in order.
As a young child, Staci had the potential, the intelligence, and the genes, for along and health life. But adverse childhood experiences changed all that.
*The above scenario, though illustrative, is very common and very real to those living it.
The story demonstrates the progression found in the ACE pyramid. Staci experiences things no child should have to endure. It caused Staci to have a skewed idea of right and wrong. In her attempt to feel loved, she takes on behaviors that damage her mental, and physical health. She is broken, hurting, alone, all because her childhood was stolen from her.
If only someone had reached out and helped her overcome the anger, the depression, the shame, she endured.