Most people only know Pattie Mallette as Justin Bieber’s mother, but in “Nowhere but Up,” Mallette shares her own story of addiction, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, and inevitably, second chances. Here’s an excerpt.
I was two months pregnant in the beginning of August 1993. Early on a summer morning, my mom and Bruce drove me to the Bethesda Centre, a large, nondescript brick building nestled in a quiet neighborhood off one of London’s main city streets.
We pulled up to the front entrance. The tight knot in my belly unraveled. This was it. My new home. I felt anxious and uncertain.
After I unpacked from the car the few pieces of luggage I brought for my eight-month stay, my mom and I said our goodbyes. It wasn’t a tearful parting, but that didn’t come as a surprise. It didn’t even bother me. I was bent on maintaining my independence from her. Even though I was petrified starting this new chapter in my life, I didn’t let it show. There were no tears. No quivering lips. I wouldn’t even let my eyes water. I maintained a strong and confident composure, pretending I was leaving for summer camp: I’ll be back before you know it, Mom. I won’t forget to write and send pictures. I’ll miss you. Bye. But this certainly was no summer camp. I wouldn’t return home having learned how to swim or ride a horse. I’d return with a baby.
I mastered a brave front while waving goodbye to my mom. When the car rolled down the small hill of a driveway and all I could see was fading taillights, the floodgates opened. Down tumbled tears of shame. Tears of remorse. Tears of fear. Tears for the unknown. As I gasped for air in the middle of a sob, I forced myself to calm down. All I wanted to do was check in and go to my room where I could be alone. I was engulfed by a sense of loneliness yet wanted to fester in those feelings by myself.
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I was numb throughout the intake process. Most of it was a blur; I resorted to coping the best way I knew how—get through the hard part with as little emotion as possible. A sweet staff member led me to my room, talking the entire way about how wonderful the center was, how terrific the rest of the girls were, how much fun everybody was having, and how she just knew I was going to love it here.
I nodded and smiled, letting her run the verbal show. It kept me from having to let out as much as a peep. I was afraid if I had the chance to talk, I wouldn’t be able to hold myself together. And I didn’t want to collapse like a house of cards in front of a stranger. She’d probably just feel sorry for me and blame my emotional out- burst on hormones.
We were a hodgepodge of scared, young moms-to-be. Bethesda was home to all kinds of girls—girls with a wild streak, girls who always made the honor roll, girls from broken homes, girls from rich families, girls who were recovering addicts, and girls who were goody-two-shoes. Though we came from different backgrounds, we had two things in common: we were young, and we were pregnant.
Reprinted by permission of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, from Nowhere but Up by Pattie Mallette. Copyright © 2012 by Pattie Mallette.
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