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This is actually happening features real experiences that often include traumatic events, please consult the show notes for specific content warnings on each episode and for more information about support services.


I have two announcements today before we start the show first, over the last month, I've finally been able to do a much needed overhaul of the This is actually happening website. And with the help of one of my closest friends, Nate Trimbole, who helped get this podcast off the ground from the very beginning. We finally went live with the news site last night. The main feature that might be of interest to you all is that we've greatly expanded that this is actually happening.


Store with help from illustrator Maya Samuels. We have new T-shirts, sticker and wall designs, and we also have new postcard prints. The postcards were actually a request from some listeners who are interested in prints from the Friday quotes that I put up weekly on Instagram.


Well, today is the first launch of the store. Every week for a while will be adding additional items. So to check it out and see what's new, go to this is actually happening, Cauchon. The other announcement is that today's episode is the first of a two part series revolving around an incident that involved a mother and a daughter, both of them agreed to be interviewed for the show and provide the perspectives on what happened. So today's guest is the daughter, Britney.


And next week we will feature her mother's account in part to thank you for listening. I could not control my emotions whatsoever. I just kept saying, I don't know, I'm sorry, I don't know. It's all my fault. I can't believe I just did that. Like, I'm in disbelief.


From wondering I'm with misalign you are listening to this is actually happening. Episode 181, what if you committed a seemingly unforgivable act? Today's episode is brought to you by Audible If you're looking for the best way to listen to audiobooks, podcasts and meditation programs all in one service, check out Audible. Audible is the leading provider of spoken word entertainment and audio books ranging from best sellers and new releases to celebrity memoirs, languages, comedy, true crime and now podcasts.


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Now visit audible dotcom happening or text happening to 500 500. That's audible dotcom happening or text happening to 500 500. My dad always told the story of him meeting my mom as like everything they did together was always the first, so they got married in a bar.


And of course, that was the first time there had ever been a wedding in this bar. And the man who married them, it was his first time officiating a wedding, and it was January 1st of nineteen ninety seven. So that was kind of their thing.


I was born that same year on December 1st.


My dad lost his arm in a factory accident when he was 19, and I think that played a huge role in his alcoholism because he couldn't ever really face it. His life was kind of just I don't know, it was kind of sad. He didn't really ever do anything with himself. He just drank. That's just been his whole life. My mom, I think she had the tendency of rushing into relationships and so she didn't really know my dad that well.


So after about two and a half to three years, they got divorced and she ended up meeting my stepdad. After they met, she got pregnant very quickly with my younger brother.


My mom had two kids already from a previous marriage, so it was us four children and my mother and my stepdad, my stepdad was a truck driver. He was mostly just an emotionally abusive person. He had a wooden paddle hanging up in the kitchen that he was very proud of.


It was a particular defining moment before I was even in kindergarten and my older brother was in second grade and he had had 30 missed assignments in school, and my stepdad suggested that he get one spanking for each missing assignment. I remember it took three hours to do because they would spank him in like birds of ten and then they would let him cry and rest, and then they would come back and do 10 more. And the next day my brother went to school and he couldn't sit down because it hurt.


And CPS got called and my mom and uncle who was living with us at the time, they got arrested. So after this, my older siblings, they went to go live with their dad in Illinois, at this point in time, I became the oldest in the household like overnight. And I remember being really afraid of being taken away from my mom because while she was in jail, I had to go stay with my grandma. And I cried myself to sleep every night that I was at my grandma's house and had terrible separation anxiety.


I just remember being so anxious as a kid about everything, I just remember there being an awareness from a young age of like the bad things in the world. The only way I could stop it is I remember I would pray a lot. I would just close my eyes and pray to God to protect me and I would list every single person that I cared about that I wanted God to protect, and I would just do that until I was able to fall asleep.


But then my dad said something to me about the possibility of God not being real. And so I put like a notebook out and I wrote a letter to God saying, Dear God, if you are real, please give me a sign like right back in this notebook, if you can, or just it was really silly. And I remember just leaving the notebook on my bedroom floor with the pen on top. And I was so excited to wake up the next morning because I knew I was going to prove my dad wrong.


And there was nothing written there, and I just remember feeling so alone in that moment. My older siblings had left the household and they would come back to Indiana to visit us, and I remember this particular time my older sister didn't want to come for some reason, but my older brother did come and he stayed with us for about a week. I was seven at this time and he would have been 12. I always thought it was like the highest honor in the world when he would ask me to play with him, but this particular week that he had come to stay with us, he woke me up one morning and he had me go into the bathroom with him and he, like, asked me to suck his dick.


And it didn't really feel like a wrong thing to do. I didn't totally understand it, but it just felt like a game, essentially. And he would reassure me. And this went on for the entire week that he was visiting us. He left and I told my mom and she did report it right away. We went to CPS to talk to a counselor of some sort, but nothing really ever came of it. I don't think like there were any real consequences, it was just a matter of pretending like nothing had ever really happened.


At the same time, it seemed like nobody really cared that much. A lot of the confusion came from. It didn't feel wrong because it felt like attention and I was so excited for someone to pay attention to me almost like, you know, he's choosing me in this household where I felt like I was slipping through the cracks. It wasn't until much later that it started to make me feel kind of like ill to be around him, like now I really cannot stand him.


But yeah, when I was younger, it didn't it didn't really register for a long time. So when I was nine years old, my mom decided to leave my stepdad and I was really happy about it, I would say this is when I was able to get closer to my mom.


We actually moved into a house trailer and we lived there for a couple of years, and while we did get closer, this also was the time when I really started to have more explosive arguments with my mom.


I just remember screaming, I don't ever remember what it was about, but I remember screaming at the top of my lungs and slamming doors and it would always end with me just going into my bedroom and falling asleep because it was so exhausting. In 2007, my older sister was 17 years old and she actually got pregnant, so my sister actually went to go live with her boyfriend's godfather and his name is Randy, and my mom met him for the first time and they got along really well.


I was in the fourth grade and I was excited, like I remember really liking him, he was funny and just fun. He was a new person and I was a very outgoing child who loved meeting new people. About a month later, my mom decided she was going to get married to him and we were going to move in with him and we did. So this required that I actually move schools. My mom actually around this time, she got a job, she kept really weird hours and of course I was in school, but Randy had been laid off and he was on unemployment.


So I started spending more time with him. And, you know, it was very innocent at first. I thought that he was cool, like I said, and he would come hang out in my room and just, like, sit on my bed. And I would tell him how my day was at school and I would complain about whatever teenage problems I was having. Over time, it developed into him having me lay on my bed with him and he would touch me or have me touch him and it's developed into him raping me.


I remember the first time that it happened knowing that I couldn't tell my mom because I had already had an experience with sexual assault and I just knew that if I told her, she would be upset with me. And so I never told her.


And in hindsight, I don't think that she really would have reacted that way. But it just felt so intensely that I could not I could not tell her. It was happening like once a month, sometimes once a week, and it went on for the entire four years that we lived with him. It only played further into my inability to trust people, I just felt like I was destined to have these relationships where the people that I really wanted to care about me wouldn't really care about me.


But then the people who did pay attention to me would only do so in a sexual way.


And it just felt like nothing was ever going to get better. It was around this time that I actually met one of my best friends, Leon, and I learned that he cut himself. This was when I started seriously considering cutting myself and hurting myself, like I would just scratch and cut and burn my arms and my legs. I was so unworthy, like I deserved to be scarred. There was nothing else that I felt like I had control over, but I could control, you know, how long I went for or how big the cut was.


My mom didn't know about it until I had told her. But she also didn't understand the context. She had no idea the severity of things going on with my stepdad. Today's episode is brought to you by candid, unhappy with your smile. You don't have to be. Thousands of people have used candid the clear, comfortable removeable and practically invisible eyeliners to help straighten their teeth. And now they love their smile, just like Sharon from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who says, quote, I wore braces as a teenager.


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The summer before I went into eighth grade, my mom decided to leave Randy. Randy was like a compulsive liar, among other things, and she was becoming increasingly unhappy. Basically, to get out, she felt like her only option was to go back to my brother's dad, so my ex stepdad. I already knew what life was like with my brother's dad, he was a mean person and my mom didn't like him and it felt like I was just mad at her for not being able to get her shit together on her own.


It's like, why do you need all these men to take care of you? You can do this yourself. It was around this time that my outbursts ramped up, I would argue with her all the time. I was so depressed and anxious and I was lost, I didn't really feel like I was inside myself. Like, I often experience this feeling of just kind of watching myself self-destruct from a distance. And this one time I started yelling at her and calling her names, and I actually ended up like kind of pushing her like we were parked and she had her door open.


And I kind of like pushed her to try to get her out of the car. She ended up taking me back to the house and I just felt like I couldn't breathe and I was hyperventilating and I'm crying, everything just felt immediately like too much like I couldn't handle any sort of stimulation. And I remember telling my mom, like, I feel like I can't breathe. And she was just, like immediately switched off from being angry at me to suddenly, like, helping me and being motherly and, like, telling me, it's OK, calm down.


I just just started crying because I realized how nasty I was being to her. I remember, like, telling her, like, I think I'm depressed. And all that she really said was, I don't doubt it. I wanted her to be like, oh, well, what do you want to do, like, do you want to go to therapy? Or like I just wanted her to offer some sort of solution.


And when that didn't happen, I felt more alone and I just felt like I couldn't really talk to her about it.


Around this time, like I would see my dad every other weekend and he would just tell me, like, you don't have a reason to be depressed, and then he would start listing all the reasons that he has to be depressed and why I'm not allowed to feel the way that I do, because he feels the way that he does. And I just kept getting shoved further and further down. And then 2011 happened, which is the year that everything kind of fell apart for me in April of that year, my grandmother died, of course, my dad was absolutely distraught.


At some point he was saying crazy stuff about killing himself and not wanting to be alive and feeling so depressed. Later that year in September, Liam was hit by a car and he was in a coma. So I couldn't talk to him and I couldn't get a hold of anybody who knew what was going on. I just thought that I was going to lose my best friend. Like, I had just gotten to this point where I could no longer pretend like everything was OK.


I was really just starting to shut down. I had no affect. I was just empty. But this entire situation had kind of opened a door to me which was talking to the school counselor, and I would slowly divulge more information to her and tell her how terrible I felt about myself. Eventually, I told her that I wanted to die, and since she works at the school, it's like a requirement that she report that and she recommended this psych ward.


So I went in to this hospital and I can still remember just how everything smelled, so like antiseptic and this world of not knowing, like what's going to happen, but also feeling kind of safer. I think it was there for three days, the first time I went back home, we didn't really talk about it.


It just became another one of those things where we act like nothing happened.


But when I got too fed up with life, I knew that the way to fix it, I guess it would just be to tell my counselor like I feel suicidal. And then I would go back to the hospital. I was more comfortable in the hospital than I was at home. And so I really, honestly preferred to be there. Each time that I would go, I would get another medication prescribed to me. So at this point I was taking five different medications.


I was so drugged up that I could not fully function. Life went on like this for half of 2012, so they recommended that I go to a longer term residential facility and it was an absolute hellhole. I got progressively worse here because I learned from other girls different ways of hurting myself. Of course, if a staff member saw you doing this, they would have to put you in a restraint. They can't just watch you hurting yourself. And so a restraint would always end up with me getting some sort of tranquilizer.


So I would just hurt myself for the purpose of getting put in a restraint to get a shot. And when I wasn't scratching myself, I was punching walls. I was just not able in this time at all. Everything felt perpetual, like it felt like everything was forever and that I would be trapped there forever if it wasn't there, then I would be trapped in my childhood forever. I would always be at the mercy of my mom or my dad or these people who didn't have my best interests at heart.


And I just was constantly searching for a way to escape that. A lot of how trauma works is kind of like splintering pieces of yourself from yourself. So it really did feel like I wasn't able to integrate these pieces of myself. It just was not at all like I was a whole person, I always felt like there were pieces of myself missing and broken and I didn't even know where to begin to, like, put myself back together. I decided that I would rather be dead than have to spend a single second more in this place.


That night, we had med pass, which is essentially the nurse comes out and gives us all our medication. So when my turn was up as he's getting my medication, I just grabbed one of the bottles. I didn't even know which one it was. In one swift motion, I open the bottle and I poured all of the pills into my mouth and he immediately went for my mouth, trying to pry it open to get the pills out of my mouth.


And then all hell broke loose. It was just like suddenly everyone was on top of me and I was going to the ground and just chaos. And I just remember feeling so serene, almost like, oh, this is the end, like it's OK, everything's fine. It doesn't matter that everything is totally falling apart right now because I can just be here and be OK. So they come back in and they're like, yeah, we called you an ambulance, you're going to the hospital, then things get very hazy.


I definitely blacked out. There's like a really vague memory of me, like taking all of my clothes off and feeling like my skin was on fire. I remember waking up and just violently vomiting everywhere. And finally I started to, I guess, wake up and beginning to feel like I was going back to normal. My mom, I remember her crying and I felt so guilty, but also just while I felt guilty for putting my mom through that, I also knew that it was something I had to do.


I knew that it was the only way out. While I was in this residential facility, my mom had gotten her own apartment and moved out of my brother's dad's house, which I was really happy about. So I go home.


Finally, I got to go home.


And at this point, I would have been a freshman in high school.


I was excited to go back to school, but already I could tell, like, things were just fundamentally different. I didn't feel like all that connected to my mom anymore. It just felt wrong. Suddenly it just felt like I was losing her. One evening, it was on a Monday. I just started picking out my hand or something and my mom was telling me to stop and I totally just was like zoned out, like ignoring her and just kept picking up my hand and picking up my hand and picking up my hand.


And she's like, if you don't stop, I'm going to take you back to the hospital. And so I just kept going and she took me to the hospital and I stayed the night, and so Tuesday I went home. And it was October thirty first Halloween. I remember that morning I kept having these really intense thought loops, like I walked to my bus stop and I would see a car passing me and I would have the urge to jump in front of it.


I remember it kind of freaking me out, like, why did I just think about that? Why is that something that my brain's telling me to do? But I also didn't know what to do, so I just went along, went to the bus stop, got on the bus, I got to school and I went to my first period class. And the thoughts just kept getting more and more intense. So I'm sitting there like staring at a book, completely incapable of reading it because my brain is just going haywire, telling me to get up, walk to the highway and jump in front of a car.


I remember having to, like, physically restrain myself from getting up like it felt so compelling, like I just couldn't stop these thoughts. Finally, it's like one o'clock and my mom picked me up from school. We were driving down the highway. And I'm still my mind is just so crazy, that's the only way I know how to explain it, like I had no control over the thoughts that were going on in my head. And I kept thinking, like, you know, you could just wreck this car.


You could just turn the wheel. It would just be that easy. The further we get down the road, the harder it is to ignore these thoughts that I'm having.


And so I remember I had an iPod Touch and I was listening to the music, and it was that song Tonight by Fun that was very popular in 2012. I turned it off. I wrapped my headphones around the iPod and I put the iPod in my mom's purse and I kind of like, adjusted myself in the seat would be like sitting up straighter. And then I saw a car coming towards us in the opposite lane. It was a red jeep and I just reached over and I pushed the steering wheel.


And my mom kind of looked at me like she didn't understand what I was doing and she kind of laughed.


I just looked her in the eye and kept pushing the steering wheel and I wrecked the car into the red jeep. There absolutely was no sense of consequence, there was no real thought, it was only action, it was only push the steering wheel and wreck into this car. It was literally like I was possessed almost, and I had no control over what was happening. It just felt like suddenly it was the thing to do. We were on a highway.


Both vehicles were going around 60 miles an hour and we had just hit them completely head on, no brakes because they couldn't have even known that we were going to hit them. And my mom definitely did not have time to react. And then suddenly we're like tumbling through the air. The car rolled, I imagine, three or four times. Like, I couldn't even really tell you what was happening in that moment when we're rolling, like, it just happening so quickly.


And it wasn't until we stopped moving that I was awake again.


I remember the smell of like the air bags, there was just like this weird powder everywhere and I could feel it on my face and my lip was busted and there was like glass everywhere. And the smell, I just it's so vivid. Even now, I can smell it in my mind. Suddenly, I was very conscious and very aware of what had just happened, and I could not believe it had just happened and I'm like, oh my God, what have I done?


Like, it just kept cycling. What have I done? What have I done? And my mom, she looked at me and she reached to slap me and I put my hands up to defend myself, and that's when I realized that my collarbone was very painful. So my hands fell immediately. But my mom looked at me and she just said, Brittney, why did you do that? And I lost it immediately, I became hysterical, I could not control my emotions whatsoever, I just kept saying, I don't know, I'm sorry, I don't know.


It's all my fault. I can't believe I just did that. Like, I'm in disbelief. And the next thing that I knew, my mom was holding my hand and comforting me. I had just irrevocably changed her life, maybe even ruined her life, and she was rubbing her thumb on the back of my hand and telling me it was OK and soothing me being my mother in that moment. It is so crazy, it's making me emotional, thinking about it right now, because I just remember feeling so worthless.


Like everything leading up into that point, like my whole life, I had felt pretty worthless, but now I had given myself this concrete thing that made me a piece of shit, like it didn't matter what had happened up until that point because I took the action. I just did that. And now I am a bad person. And my mom was comforting after I had done that to her. It just to this day, it blows my mind that she was even capable of touching me or looking at me or even seeing me as her daughter.


At this point, there were people in the cars behind us or something that had pulled over. There was this woman. She came up to my window. Her name is Heather. And she talked to me and she was very kind to me. And I remember feeling like I did not deserve that. And I just kept screaming, it's all my fault. It's all my fault. And she very gently told me, Oh, honey, it's not your fault.


It's OK.


Like, she had no idea what had just happened. And my mom, she was strangely calm, she was able to tell Heather to call nine one one. When they finally got there, it seemed like things started happening very fast. I got put onto a stretcher.


I remember calling out like, what about my mom? Is my mom going to be OK? I'm like, asking them all these questions. And they tell me, like, there was too much damage on her side of the car for them to open the door. So they had to, like, use the jaws of life to cut open the car and get her out. But they assured me it was going to be OK. I just needed to calm down.


But I was so hysterical. And at this point, the pain in my collarbone was getting worse and worse. And I just remember being on the stretcher and just every little movement hurt and everything hurt like it was physical and mental, realizing my life is never going to be the same. Whatever semblance of normal I might have had, I just knew in that moment it was completely shattered and I didn't know how things would turn out. But I was sure that my mom hated me.


And how could she not? How could you go through that and not immediately feel immense hatred for the person who did it to you? I was in a lot of pain, but I also felt like I deserved every bit of it. The ambulance takes me to the emergency room and another ambulance takes my mom to the emergency room, we go to the same hospital and they put us in rooms side by side. But I didn't have any contact with her right away.


They took me back for the CAT scans and to make sure there's no internal bleeding. And they tell me that my collar bones broken for sure and I have bruises all over. But meanwhile, my mom is in the other room, both of the the bones in her lower leg, so her fibula and tibia were broken, her ankle was completely shattered. There was just a lot of damage to her right leg. They wheeled me into a room and I just looked at her and all that I could do was ask her, Do you hate me?


And she just said, No, I don't hate you. I'm just really confused. She was going to have to have reconstructive surgery, basically. I guess the hospital found out that the wreck was intentional. It became very clear, like, I'm not going to go home with my dad tonight. They sent me to the psych ward that I at this point was very familiar with. Except this time it was totally different. Now I'm a different person.


There wasn't a lot of contact with my mom for a while, and I know that it was because she was in and out of surgeries and definitely very drugged up and she just wasn't able to really communicate. But then once she was, there was a lot of her not wanting to. I had already kind of been dissociating like I had kind of just pushed it away and like so many other things in my life, pretended like it didn't happen. And so I was eager to just talk to my mom and have that relationship with her.


And I didn't really fully understand why she wouldn't talk to me or why she didn't feel comfortable talking to me. I treated the whole situation so flippantly because I didn't fully understand what I had done. I went to this new residential place and it ended up being really great. There was a lot of structure, but I started kind of having, like flashbacks. It would start smelling the smell that I smelled right after the wreck, like the the fluids in the airbag.


And it would feel like I was right there and I would start panicking and kind of go out of body for a second and feel like it was happening again. Sometimes I would call out for my mom and this was all like in my waking life, like I also had nightmares, but in my waking life, I would have these moments of feeling like it was all happening and I was out of control again and I would just freak out.


At this point, my mom and had all over surgeries and everything, but she was rebuilding her life, I guess I had kind of ruined everything for her.


She had lost her job, her apartment. She couldn't really walk on her own for a long time. She had to go live with my grandparents because she couldn't live by herself. So, of course, like, she was literally incapable of making that two and a half hour trip to see me. And even if she was physically able to mentally, it was just too much for her. But I couldn't see that from my perspective.


So I was just feeling so abandoned, like I felt like she didn't love me anymore and I felt like she didn't care enough to come see me. But we would have weekly family therapy sessions and we never really got into the meat of it like we never had a conversation about this is exactly why I'm here. These were the events leading up into that.


And then a lot of it was really just trying to figure out like what to do with me, because eventually I was going to be released from this place and my mom did not want me to live with her. And my dad's an alcoholic, so my therapist could not in good conscience send me to live with him. It was just basically me telling my mom how I felt and her basically saying, well, this is how I feel because you did this to me.


And so it kind of invalidated everything that I felt. What I felt didn't matter because I was the perpetrator. It was like beyond the point of redemption, you know, if we had gone through all of this, like right up until before I wrecked the car, maybe I would have had some ground to stand on and be like, this is how you have failed me as my mother and this is what I need from you. Things could have been way different, but because I took that action, I ultimately felt like I had stripped away any right that I had to be mad at her for any reason or to feel like she had done me wrong because I had done her so much worse.


In therapy, it always revolved around this idea of like, well, why were you so angry with your mom? Why did you hate your mom so much? And I remember getting so mad about that because I didn't everyone acted like this was an act of attempted suicide and attempted murder. But for me, it never was like that. I just had this, like, uncontrollable compulsion, this thought that would not stop. And never once did it cross my mind like I could die, let alone my mom could die, let alone the people in the other car could die.


I was not thinking about that at all. And so a lot of therapy was just convincing my therapist that I wasn't homicidal. And like, sure, I have a lot of resentment towards her, but I don't hate my mom.


I think I wanted there to be a reason, because that would be better than this, like unknown of well, I just lost control because if that's the case, then I could lose control at any time and this could happen again, or I could do something worse. You know, I wanted it to be this clear cut, like, oh, you're mad at your mom, so you wanted to kill her, but really that was not what it was like.


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Record labels once called the shots in the music industry, raking in billions as gatekeepers. That is, until the ultimate disruptor caught fire. Hi, I'm David Brown, the host of Wonderings Show Business Wars. We go deep into some of the biggest corporate rivalries of all time. And in our latest series, a teenager named Shawn Fanning launches an epic battle with his new file sharing system joined Thundery Plus to listen to the exclusive season of Wonder Business Wars. Napster vs.


the record labels today ad free in the Wonder App. Enjoy this and other exclusives like Business Wars, Playboy versus Penthouse and Ezat versus Act wonder we feel the story. I actually turned 14 in the hospital waiting for a placement into this place called Oaklawn, then I spent Christmas in Oakland. I was there for six and a half months.


It was very intensive therapy. There were groups I had to tell my story a lot, just trying to kind of make sense of it all. And it was enough for me to kind of get my grounding again. And I finally started taking life much more seriously. Once I made that switch, I was able to get out fairly quickly of this residential place. I really had just been living with this like reckless abandon, not really caring who I hurt in the process, and it wasn't until I came really close to this situation that could have gone so much worse, like I would never have been able to live with myself if any one in that wreck would have died.


Not only that, but if someone had died, I could have faced criminal charges. It was enough to sober me into this realization of, oh, your actions do have consequences and there is a tomorrow, there is something to be better for.


And that was really important for me to finally start taking responsibility for how I was acting.


I don't know how this was decided, but my sister stepped up and decided that I could go live with her and her husband and her two kids. And I went to live with my sister and things were really fine at first, but it wasn't long before my sister and I started arguing and she and her husband would argue about me. And it was just a really messy situation. And I remember feeling like I had to take responsibility and just say, you know what, like I'm going to go live with my dad.


Like, this would just make everybody's life easier if I just go stay with him. So, yeah, I went to live with my dad and that started a whole new chapter of life. I mean, it wasn't great, but it was another one of those things where I just felt like I deserved it at that time. When I moved in with my dad, my mom's side of the family, like all of them, they just kind of stopped reaching out.


And it's still hard for me to not feel very resentful. I know what I did was terrible and wrong, yet my child molester brother who deliberately molested me and maybe more people in my family that we just don't know about. He's welcome every Christmas and everything's giving. And to this day, still good friends with my mom like they have a good relationship. And that always made me so resentful. My mom and I's relationship definitely devolved.


It felt like talking casually to somebody that you only kind of know this constant feeling of shallowness, like there was an elephant in the room that nobody was allowed to acknowledge and me least of all.


There was also a part of me that thought if I just kept trudging along like nothing had happened, then everything would be OK. But if I were to acknowledge it, then there was a chance that she would disown me.


And I knew that the relationship that we had was not one that I wanted. It wasn't a good one, but it was at least there. And I didn't want to lose it altogether. Years have passed in this way, it's been seven and a half years, and it wasn't until just a few weeks ago that I even talk to her about it again. And now it feels like the door is at least open. There are years of pain and heartbreak and suffering that she and I have both done separate and together, and now only now can we even begin to like, wade through all of that and find out where we stand in the midst of it all.


About like a month after I lived with my dad, I tried to talk to my psychiatrist about my medication and how it was making me feel and how maybe things just weren't as they seemed like maybe they weren't helping me as much as he thought that they were.


And I remember him telling me you're going to be on this medication for the rest of your life. And I just said, you do realize the medicine that I'm taking right now I was taking when I wrecked my mom's car. So I stopped taking all of my medication all at once, which is extremely dangerous, not only physically, but I could have had an even worse mental breakdown and just completely lost it. But instead, I actually started flourishing and I stopped sleeping for 16 hours a day and I started being clearheaded and doing better in school and feeling actually more in control of my emotions.


And it felt like this fog had been lifted and I was waking up from this crazy dream. I think that this habit that my mom had of you know, she never really had her own sovereignty either, she just jumped from relationship to relationship and let men take care of her. I think that I myself was on that trajectory. And it wasn't until I got thrown around into this realization of, like, I'm the only person I can count on and I can either sit back and let life happen to me the way that I have been.


I've just been letting my emotions and these circumstances rule me and I can become exactly like my mom, or for that matter, I could become exactly like my dad and drown all of my sorrows. And I tried that. But this experience has definitely given me a greater appreciation for being alive and having sovereignty and having the ability to take responsibility and having the ability to say I'm sorry and grow from it instead of letting it define me in a very negative way.


Of course, there's always what ifs like, what if this hadn't happened, but I really, truly have no idea where I would be if it hadn't happened because everything changed and it forced me to grow up in a lot of ways, and it forced me to view life in a much different way than anybody my age. And a lot of ways it's like kind of set me apart in a bad way.


But it allowed me to take control of my life in a way that I'm not sure I ever would have. So now I am 23 years old, I'm in nursing school, I definitely feel like life is so much better now. I have a much greater understanding of myself and just how my mind works. I feel like my future is very bright. It took me a long time to get there. Even after stopping my medication and going through the rest of my teenage years, there was a lot of darkness and feeling hopeless and feeling like things would be bad forever.


But I have come out on the other side of that, which is pretty incredible. While I'm definitely nowhere near perfect, I still struggle with depression and anxiety, I can channel it in a different way, less destructive way. And I also just feel I am able to use all of my life experience to kind of fuel myself to be better. And above all, I think that I don't know what is out there. I don't know what kind of God might exist, but somebody is looking out for me.


There is no way I could still be alive if that were not the case. And so it's given me this profound appreciation for the universe. I have such a deep gratitude, I feel so grateful every single day that I didn't ruin my life like I was able to grow from that. The most challenging thing for me really was like feeling like I lost my mom and knowing that I deserved it, just feeling so detached. It was so hard for me to get back to a point where I could have self-worth again because everything within me was saying that I was wrong.


I was the one who did wrong. And my mom had every reason to hate me. And I don't think she even did hate me. She just struggled to be around me and struggled to be my mom because I made it really hard. It is still, to this day, a struggle for me to balance this feeling of like knowing that I did something wrong and I have to take responsibility for that, but also just feeling so out of control.


When you put it into the context of my entire life, it fit together so perfectly, it's like you're watching the development of a villain or something. It's like, of course, this world keeps failing her. Of course, she's going to reach her breaking point at some point. While that's true, I have always also had this feeling of like I don't ever want that to be a copout, like, oh, I had a terrible upbringing and all these bad things happened to me.


And so this is why I'm a bad person, which is why today I try so hard to be the best version of myself that I can be. I know really intimately what it's like to be the bad guy, to be the villain, and I also know really intimately that sometimes being the bad guy is just as simple as one moment going wrong. It's not like I was born a killer or like I just made one decision very carelessly without rational thought.


And that changed everything. It makes the world a much scarier place to me because everyone is capable of terrible things, but it also makes me much more forgiving and much more able to understand the complexities of life. And while lines obviously have to be drawn as a society. Life is not black and white and people are not good or bad. People are good and bad and great people do terrible things and horrible people can do good things. Like everybody has that inside of them.


I feel like at every stage of my life, no matter how alone I was, there's always this future me who is able to look back and see the younger version of myself as this child and to kind of give her grace in a way that I couldn't give myself in the present as I'm living it. So even when I felt like I didn't have my family and I didn't have God and I didn't have friends, even though I felt so unforgivable, I had myself in this strange way, this like version of myself that has already made it through and can look back and see things from a very objective perspective and tell me like it's OK.


It really is OK. Like, I can look at my past self and forgive her. Today's episode featured Britney, you can find out more about her on her blog at becoming the dotcom. That's the word becoming followed by the letter B dot com.


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The cutthroat fight for dominance in late night television is no laughing matter with profits, prestige and huge egos on the line. Hi, I'm David Brown, the host of Wonderings Show Business Wars. We go deep into some of the biggest corporate rivalries of all time. And in our latest series, the networks and their big stars, Letterman, Leno, Conan fight their way into America's living rooms. Listen to late night wars on business wars, on Apple podcasts, Amazon music or the Wonder Yapp join Wonder E-Plus in the wonder.


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