I was at a rehab once and the counselor told me I was “Too Damaged” for help. So this is my theme. The following is random thoughts of my life. Once I get the hang of this blog thing, I’m sure I’ll make more sense…maybe.
Have you ever said, “I can’t remember what I did yesterday, much less last week”, when asked what you did last week. It’s truly amazing to me how much of life I am remembering now that the fog of addiction has lifted.
When I started this book, I didn’t realize how big the wall of self-protection was that I had built around myself. I was numb from life and 25 years of using. I use to wonder where I’d be a year from now or wish that I had done things differently yesterday, but lately I’m learning how to enjoy today, not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today. As long as I can remember, I wanted to be somewhere, someone or something else; anything but ME. The following is my journey from being sexually molested for ten years as a child and the self-loathing and self-destruction that ensued to finally getting life (understanding life that is), not penitentiary life, although that could have been the case.
I have always used humor to help me through every aspect of life, from funerals to rehabs and yes, even the molestation (example: how I found my spiritual awakening through a fart machine in rehab). I’ll post that one in a separate blog.
I was 38 years old in my first rehab in Grand Rapids, MI and the counselor asked us to think about our favorite memory from childhood. Everyone took a turn and when it came to me, I didn’t have a single thought come into my head. It would take me four more years and two more rehabs before I could actually think of a favorite childhood memory.
This book is written from the journals I kept at the rehabs and also from notes I found from when I was drunk out of my mind. I thought when I was drunk that I was more creative. No, I just created drama, drama, drama; although I must admit, some of the poetry is pretty good.
I was born in the small town of Reynolds, GA in 1960. It was a booming town of about 1200 people where my grandfather owned a barbershop (Malcolm X’s father actually worked for him) and my grandmother worked at the post office. Life was sweet for the first 8 years of my life. Yes, shit happens even in small towns. I wasn’t a planned baby considering my mother was only 14 and my father was 16 when she got pregnant. I was an “accident” and that’s funny to me now because I always felt like an accident waiting to happen. My mother was 15 and my father was 17 when I was born.
My father worked as an electrical engineer and I would ride my bike to see him at work. The first time I was molested, I went to see him and he wasn’t there so his boss (I’ll call him Boss Man #1) took me into a room that had all these magnets and electrical gadgets in it. He asked me if I wanted a magnet, which was kept on the top shelf, and I said, “yes”. He lifted me up and in his finger went. I remember my face turning so red, I thought I was going to die. He kept me up there for a few minutes telling me to look for which magnet I wanted; I never said a word. I thought if I kept quiet, it would go away, it didn’t. Finally, he put me down and I walked very quickly out the door. The office with the magnets was in the back of the warehouse and I had to walk all the way past all the employees to get to the front door. I just knew that everyone had seen what he had just done to me and that I was somehow responsible for what had just happened. It was one of the longest walks of my life.
I rode my bicycle home as fast as possible. In the early 60’s, the south had a motto, “If you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.” That was pretty much how I lived my life. I had such a feeling of guilt and shame and needed someone to tell me that he was a bad man and that I had done nothing wrong. That didn’t happen. I told my Mom what had happened and that I didn’t ever want to be left alone with that man again. That didn’t happen either. I’ll never forget my mother’s reaction. Her face was as red as mine had been during the assault and I knew for sure that it was totally my fault now. I had done something so bad that I had embarrassed her terribly. I can’t remember a word that was said after that.
My mother and father separated when I was about six or seven years old. Mom and I went to life with her parents (my grandfather (Deeda) who owned the barbershop and my grandmother (Nanny) who worked at the post office. I now know that in such a small town, and it was the 60’s, that your standing in the community and how people looked at you was everything. My grandmother use to tell people that my Mom had me three months early to coincide with the marriage date. I weighed seven pounds; I guess I would’ve been one hell of a big baby if I’d gone to term. Hell, I guess not much has changed, but talk about molesters has changed.
The second time Boss Man #1 wanted to be “helpful” was when he came over to Nanny and Deeda’s house to fix our TV. My aunt Ruby lived across the street and everyone had gone over there and left me alone to watch a pan of cooking meat. To this day, I don’t cook meat. I guess they forgot what I had told them about this molesting boss-man. When everyone was gone, he came toward me and asked if I wanted to sit in his lap and help him with the TV. I ran out the door and across the street to aunt Ruby’s. When I walked in Mom looked at me and asked why I had left the cooking meat alone. In my mind, I knew then she thought it was my fault for making Boss-man #1 do these things to me and I could somehow keep these things from happening. So, the seeds of feeling guilt, shame and self-loathing were firmly planted and fertilized with pure manure. I don’t blame my mother or family now. They just didn’t know how to handle the situation back then.
To top things off, my father would die at the old age of 26 and I just knew that was my fault too. When I was about 5, my father scolded me and I wished him dead. In my child-mind, I knew his death was my fault and God was punishing me for the awful thing I had made Boss-man #1 do and for wishing my father dead three years earlier. It would take me years of sobriety and therapy to work through that one.
My mother remarried nine months later to a man who would become Boss-man #2. Only this time, I lived in the same house and there was no escape route. I endured almost daily sexual abuse from age nine to 16. Some people have stated, “16?, you must of wanted it if you were that old and still being molested.” I use to get so mad and frustrated when I heard this, I’d drink until I blacked out, that’d show them. Again, I thought this was God’s punishment.
I was in a constant state of nervousness; trying to make sure my Mom didn’t find out what a terrible child I was by making her new husband do these things to me behind her back. Every time I was in public, I just knew everyone could tell what was going on with this man and that they thought I was such a terrible little girl. To me, everyone’s conscience thoughts were all about me.
I was an only child until 1971 when my brother was born. Now, I was not only a substitute wife and maid, I was now a babysitter. I loved my brother so much, but started resenting him more and more. He got everyone’s attention and I got molested. He got praised for everything and I got molested. My training as a wall-builder was well underway. My sister was born three years later in 1974. To me, she was the demon seed. I loathed her. My brother and sister were two perfect creatures and I was this forgotten child just being chewed up, spit out, used up, rung out and hung out to dry. I felt like a squashed bug on a big pile of shit. To top it off, my Mom had straight blond hair, my stepfather had thick straight brown hair, my brother and sister had straight blond hair, and I had curly, kinky, mousy brown hair. My teeth were so crooked, I got braces when I was 13. We had a “family” portrait made and I look like the red-headed stepchild misplaced in this “vogue” family. To have loathed them all for so long, it’s funny, but today, my mom, brother and sister are three of my best friends.
I started drinking at age 15. All it took was one sip and that warm feeling I couldn’t get from anywhere else was so wonderful, I wanted more and more. I found out the more I drank, the more I didn’t give a good rat’s ass about anyone or anything. My “issues” of guilt, shame and painful shyness were gone as long as I kept a drink in me. Let’s see…not drinking (unbearable pain, guilt, shame, self-hatred, nausea, unending nervousness, crawl-in-a-hole shyness), or drinking (free from any of the aforementioned). I liked the drinking part better.
I had my first real boy experience when I was 13. I felt so ugly, I thought the only way to get someone to like me was through sex. It was all I knew and that first time lasted approximately as long as the mating ritual of a chicken and rooster. For those of you who don’t know that particular ritual, the rooster flies on top of the chicken and if you blink your eyes, you’ll miss the whole in and out procedure. Needless to say, when I returned to school the next day, I was a whore. So, now to add to the list of my insecurities, I was an outcast and the talk of the school.
My personality has always been a giving one (no pun intended). I always cry at movies, commercials, etc. Every emotion emitted by a human or animal, I feel in my soul. I use to think it was a curse. It wasn’t until I got clean/sober, I understood this is a good quality to be able to feel other’s pain and joy. I also found out that I can be aggressive in a good way and if I hurt an asshole’s feelings, so be it. I don’t have to feel like I owe everyone everything. It’s OK to take care of me.
I learned early on that I was great in front of a crowd. I wasn’t scared or nervous as long as I had a big audience. I was terrible at one-on-one. In school I was in gymnastics, drill-team, cheer-leading, and lots of clubs. I was friends with a lot of people, but not a best friend to anyone.
My Fork Story – 1998
There are some pretty sick puppies out there, and I’ve seen a lot…but my favorite story is my “Fork ” story. I was walking the street near the Rainbow Motel in Grand Rapids, MI and a middle aged man nodded at me and that meant to meet around back of the bowling alley. He took me back to the crack house I used for “tricks” and when we got back to the room, he pulled out a fork and said he wanted me to insert it in his ass. I laughed so hard thinking this asshole wants to pay me to hurt him…it’s on.
So, I gladly did this to him and there was a knock at the door, it was a cop. This naked man heard it was a cop and dove head first out the window, with the fork still protruding from his butt. The cop just wanted to tell someone there that their car needed to be moved. Years later when I came home my Mom’s and Aunt’s favorite saying when they were full was “stick a fork in me, I’m done”. When they would say this, all I could picture was this naked man diving out the window with a fork in his ass. After awhile, I asked them to please never say that again. I laughed out loud and told them my fork story. They blushed and we laughed till we cried. The people I’ve told this story to said that every time they hear the saying “stick a fork in me I’m done” they think of me. Well, there are worse ways to live on in infamy I guess.
I remember being so hungry when I lived on the streets in MI that I would find change on the ground and save up until I could buy a loaf of bread. I would walk to McDonalds and get packs of ketchup and eat that with a piece of bread. I was walking down the side of the highway and looked down and found a McDonalds game piece (about the size of a nickel). I turned it over and it was for a free cheeseburger. I felt like I had hit the jackpot. I ran to McDonalds and turned the game piece in and got a free cheeseburger. Another time, I was so hungry, I was crying and asking God to please help me. I walked by a garbage can at the crack motel I was staying at and sitting on the top of the can was a bag from a Mexican restaurant. I opened it and a full unopened, untouched dinner was inside. It even had napkins and eating utensils in it. I just looked up to the sky and said, “Thank You”. So many times there was a Higher Power looking after me. I felt it and knew I was on an amazing journey, no matter how dire my circumstances were at the time, I had this feeling I was going to survive.
I’ve been called a chameleon because I can blend in to any situation or adapt my personality to any person I meet. I can be the hardest ass thug or the smartest sounding upper class lady. My partner of 17 years (Tammie) was also on the street with me. That’s where our “love” took us. We were both too damaged to help each other, so we ended up doing drugs, prostitution, stealing, etc. She was always making promises to drug dealers, telling them she would go to stores and steal name brand clothes and give the clothes to them in exchange for drugs. She rarely followed through with the promises and one night the main dealer, named West Coast, came upstairs to the attic of the crack house where we were staying and said he was going to kill her. I was sitting there helping her get through a rough withdrawal she was going through. West Coast walked in with 4 black Amazon women and said they were there to kill Tammie. I put on my diplomatic thug chameleon face and explained that she was sick and that I would make sure she followed through with all her promises if they let her live. He said they were going to kick my ass. I said, “I’m an addict and I’m just trying to survive.” I looked him and all the women in the eye and said, “Yall want a cigarette”? He just stared at me and then said, “you’re cool”. I then proceeded to give them all a cigarette. There I sat in a crack house attic with a known killer drug dealer, his Amazon women and my withdrawing “better half” smoking a cigarette and talking about life. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life. After they all left, I had this overwhelming feeling of pride, as crazy as that sounds. I had always let Tammie take care of getting our drugs and “taking care of business”. I realized I was so much stronger than she was and it was unbelievable to me that this strength was in me. That day in the attic, I gained self confidence.
Another time a guy picked me on the street and took me to the woods to do the deed. I got a bad feeling I might not make it out of this alive. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck. At that moment, some people came walking by and we left. He dropped me off where he had picked me up. I’ve always wondered if those people had not walked by, what would have happened to me. I mean, what are the odds that in the middle of nowhere, people would actually be in the woods walking by at that exact moment. My Higher Power was at work again. There was actually a serial killer (James Allen Kinney) in Grand Rapids killing prostitutes. I found this out later and realized how truly lucky I was.
This is a letter I wrote in rehab to my stepfather. It was an exercise the counselors had me do to let go of all my anger. I had to put down on paper everything I felt about what he had done to me and then read it out loud in front of the group.
My Stepfather, 10/15/02
I want to thank you for your gifts. Especially the gifts of guilt, shame, distrust, loneliness, fear, isolation, hate, anger, hurt, disgust, gloom, worry, sadness, confusion, frustration, embarrassment, discouragement, self-loathing, inferiority, detachment, vulnerability, abandonment, insecurity and the sheer burden of it all.
I had no childhood; no idea who I was or am; no sense of security; no sense of family; no idea of how to proceed in life; no idea how to ask for help. I’ve lived my entire life running and I didn’t really know from what. I now know. It was from all the gifts you gave me.
Now it’s my turn to give you gifts. I give you all the guilt, shame, distrust, loneliness, fear, isolation, hate, anger, hurt, disgust, gloom, worry, sadness, confusion, frustration, embarrassment, discouragement, self-loathing, inferiority, detachment, vulnerability, abandonment, insecurity and the sheer burden of it all.
I no longer want these gifts. I no longer have any use for them. May they bring you the quality of life in which they brought to me.
I do not forgive you, but I give these gifts back to you so that I can forgive myself.
Now I can live!
As soon as I was done reading this aloud, everyone clapped and I had this overwhelming feeling of calm wash over me. It was funny to me how this simple exercise could produce such a powerful feeling.
I eventually did forgive him, because I had to let it go. I sat down with my stepfather and we had a cigarette and cried and he apologized for ruining my life (those were his exact words). I couldn’t believe after all the torture I had put myself through because of this man, I was finally able to let it all go. It was the most profound moment of my life. Then the son-of-a-bitch died 2 months later. We were just getting to know each other, but I guess life just works out that way. I realized what a wonderful gift I’d been given. Not many people get to face their abusers and have them apologize for what they’d done. I cried for a long time!!!
I’ve been the “dirty little secret” in my family for so long that I didn’t know how to act around them. I already was the ugly redheaded stepchild in this vogue family and have always felt out-of-place. The funny thing is though, they don’t look at me that way. I’m learning it is only myself that keeps me at a distance. My family has done nothing but love me and help me. I just wouldn’t allow that love in until recently.
I need to do an outline…Born in Reynolds, GA…molested by family friend at age 8, dad died when I was 9, mom married my next molester and I was abused from age 9 to 16. Married at age 19, child at age 19, divorced 7 years later started drugs (coke) at age 22, left husband for another woman…in that relationship for 17 years….during that time moved from coke to crack, heroin…lost everything…ended up on the streets of MI with my significant other, prostitution, rehab in 1998 in MI where I was told I was “too damaged” for help. Kicked out of that rehab for sleeping with another person in rehab…walked 2 miles with my garbage of clothes to a AA meeting a called mom and aunt to send a bus ticked to DC…entered another rehab in DC…worked program but kicked out for sleeping with another person in rehab…entered rehab in 2002 and stayed 9 months and finally, after 9 months, gave birth to the real me…..in the next 10 years I was office manager at DUI school and finally an inventory specialist counting drugs at hospital pharmacies all over the country and Puerto Rico and St Thomas…(use to say I prepared for those 2 jobs all my life )…that’s the outline of my life.
Stay tuned to find out how I found my spirituality in a fart machine….
TO BE CONTINUED…….