Thursday, April 6, 2017

Faith.... Hope.... Choices

It's your choice:

I know in this world we were meant to have happiness.
"..men are, that they might have joy.."

But this world is wrecked with conflict and misery. So, how is it that we can find joy?
It is a choice.

I could have been a bitter person. Maybe I should be! Tormented into submission, drowned in the bottom of a bottle, lost faith in humanity, teetered on the edge of becoming permanently heartless and cold...
I just wanted something different than this.

My mom has great faith. A gift, I believe, I share with her. She supported the efforts of making us attend church every week. I know now her reasons were different than stepdad's. She had pure intentions of actually teaching us about religion. Stepdad used it as a front, a cover.
Of course I didn't want to be there, but at some point, some things just stuck. The teachings, the scriptures, just made sense. I knew in my heart of hearts, deep down, I knew it was right.

It was there my teeny tiny spark of hope from somewhere deep within my very being originated. Somewhere along the wrong path I was on, I chose to find a different way.
I held tight to that hope. The hope that things could change. Hope that I could become a better person, and hope that I might have a chance at life.

I wouldn't have had any hope if there wasn't any faith to back it up. It was there. It was always there, I just chose to bury it. As I let it emerge, everything changed. Everything!

I choose to hold tight to my faith. For me, I know that it's right. It gives me hope. Without that, where would I be now?

Even now, after what seems like a life time of pain and struggle, I still choose to have hope that everything will be ok.

I've been so sick my mom had to carry my unresponsive body to the doctor, I survived a plane crash, I traveled to a foreign country that almost took my life. Those are just a few examples of times my life could have ended.
I'm guessing I still have a purpose for still being here. I've been told in my darkest hours, "Don't lose hope. Just, don't lose hope!"
Without faith, my hope would've been lost ages ago.

Most times I also choose to be happy.
My 'rosie glasses' help me to view the world around me in a better light.
Sure, I realize that generally this world sucks, but I sometimes see the good it has to offer. Or rather, I CHOOSE to see the good in it. I've seen enough of the bad...
I would like to be part of the good.
I'm ready for faith, hope & happiness.

Which will you choose?


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Work in progress...


I got my first job working in a restaurant when I was 14, or 15. The process confused me because over the phone the lady conducted a short interview, and helped me pronounce a few words in a language of which I was not familiar. She said I was hired.
The job was fast paced, and kept me on my feet my entire shifts. I did my job, and worked very hard to do it right. I learned a lot about the food service industry.
I didn't really need to talk to anybody, so to me, things went well. After some time, I made friends with a couple of co-workers. One day, one of the cooks asked me about my nationality. He was just making conversation. I told him of my mixed origin, half of which is Hispanic. Suddenly, someone stormed out of the office that was connected to the galley kitchen and started screaming in my face. Of all the things he yelled, I only understood, "Not good worker, I thought you nice Arabic girl!" and then he yelled "Get out! Get out! Just, go!"
First of all, I was scared to death because I know what happens when I get screamed at. Then I braced for the inevitable hits that usually came with the yelling. I could feel tears welling up as I became engulfed in fear. Then, I just turned and ran!

What had just happened? Oh... I was so, so confused...
The restaurant business sucks! Never doing that again!

Remember the job I got at the daycare center? Working there helped to open my eyes to a few things.
The most important was that children are innocent tiny humans thrust into this world of misery. With that, I was able to bury anger and rage with compassion I never realized I had.

Spending so much time with those children, I realized they spent more of their waking hours with us, their caretakers, than they did with their own parents. Mostly, just simple victims of circumstance.
I grew to love them. I wanted to protect them much in the way I was NOT protected as a child. When they went home, I worried about whether they had enough to eat. Will their parents play with them? Will they get to hear their favorite story before going to bed at night?
Of course, there were the little stinkers that were disruptive, unruly & never listened to anyone. Still innocent, and in need of love and care none the less. At the time, those were the kids that made me think I never wanted to have kids.

As it goes, when things are going well, things change.
The daycare center was sold to a franchise, and most of the staff was laid-off, or quit.

Then,

I started to work at a florist/greenhouse. This was another chance to learn more good/bad life lessons.
I didn't care for the people I worked with, except a few.
Most of them were of Hispanic origins and related to each other. They didn't take kindly to new, strange employees. Especially ones they considered, um... well..'white'. Didn't matter that I'm half Hispanic. At that time, I didn't speak Spanish, so I was too 'white'.
So, what happens? I get into a fist fight, of course! Oddly enough it was with another 'white' co-worker. HEY! He was asking for it! My boss sided with me, and he got let go.

On the good side, this job reinforced my interest in the plant and flower industry. I fell in love with the whole process! My boss took the time to teach me the ropes. My favorite part of the job was getting up at 1am to go downtown to the open air market to sell the plants and flowers wholesale, then retail. At one point he told me that I could sell ice to an Eskimo. :)
12-14 hour shifts? No problem when I'm surrounded by all these flowers! After the short season of market days, I was given an outdoor stand to run by myself. Perfect!

This was, by far, the best job! I learned how to be nicer to people. I learned how to talk and interact with people. I learned about manners.
Hey, I was raised like a wild animal in a zoo, remember?

But once again, there were serious cut backs. I was again out of a job...

So, I decided to try to get back into childcare. I became a nanny for a very nice couple with 3 delightful children.
I grew to love them so much! Another job I adored!
By then, I had become mild mannered and 'domesticated'. I learned how to cook a little, how to bake, and even learned how to clean house! My heart felt so full with contentment I could hardly contain it! I knew then I wanted a family! My own family! Why not? At that time, I had been clean and sober for a few years and learned some life skills. Plus, the anger and rage was as tamed as I was!

I swore an oath to myself that the abuse stopped here with me! Not to be continued, or endured by any tiny humans under my watch, EVER!

I would make it my life's mission to always look after the innocents as much as I humanly can!

Happily, this is a work in progress, and always will be!

Friday, March 10, 2017

SHEEP - PINK FLOYD - Shhh..Sleep

First, press play... Then read on...






In the still of dark, cold nights I could hear music playing through the thin walls between our bedrooms.

My brother would buy music albums whenever he saved up enough money.
He played them at night, to help calm demons in his head. He didn't know it also helped to calm the demons in my head too.

When it was quiet enough to hear the music, that meant that the beast that terrorized our household was asleep.
We could rest.

Listening to the soothing melodies of Pink Floyd helped to tame the rage so I could sleep.

I can hear "Sheep" and all is well, even if just for now...





"God, will you be with me while I sleep tonight? Will I be able to make it through another day?"
He answers my prayers, "Shhhh...Sleep now my child!"

Click, Click, Boom!

How is it that I didn't end up being some kind of psychopathic serial killer? I was certainly primed for it!

Sometimes, my rage just could not be contained. I would punch lockers, doors, walls, cars or whatever got in my way until my fists were swollen, bruised and bleeding. That pain felt better than the shi..oops.. crap going in in my head. By the way, I don't recommend punching holes inside your own house. Stepdads punch BACK! Just outta nowhere, mid sentence, WHAM!
And...
I still would, skip school or come to class in some drug induced haze, swear so much it would've made a sailor blush, and get suspended from school for various offenses. Trouble... with a capitol 'T'!
High school ended up a whole lot of drama despite my attempts of keeping hidden in the shadows.

Yet somehow, there was a slight, ever so faint glimmer of hope that started to spark from somewhere deep within my very being. I just didn't know it was there, yet.

It seemed a random choice of classes. A cooking class, a sewing class, a child development class, a tiny glimpse of something more? Whoa, something clicked! Then, there were several series of events that slowly unfolded that would ultimately determine my fate. Unbeknownst to me, my choices would dictate what would happen next.

I was being pulled into two different directions. I was hell bent on self-destruction, At the same time, I started working on homework. Not just a little bit. I mean, I was putting real effort into these elective classes. I liked these dumb classes. I wanted to do good especially in the child development class!
I was then called down to the counselors office. He had a genuine interest in my well-being, and my future. He talked to me like I was a 'normal' person. He asked me questions that made me think, even if it was just for a minute.
I was now more confused than ever. There are adults that care about kids???
Yea.. then it made me angry. Oh, just hit something and be over it already!
I was appreciative of his counseling and decided to take his advice. I took my child development classes to the next level. That led me to the Voc-Tech classes in the building next to the high school. Those classes were not easy to get into. They were more like college classes that were 2.5 hours long, steering kids towards a career. That class led me to a job in a daycare center. There were 19 applicants for 2 openings. I got in. I got in!

With what should've been my complete turn-around, I was still in self destruct mode! How stupid am I? Wait..
Don't answer that...

With high school finally complete, I had a car, a job, and I was still drinking, smoking, and using drugs. Just not as often, but still..
Another turning point:
I attended a party that had plenty of alcohol and drugs to go around. I drank myself stupid. Well, I tried to drink myself stupid, but nothing was happening. I sat there getting angry because no matter how much I drank, there was no buzz. WTF?? I was too angry and depressed to keep trying, so I gave up. Not just for the night. Something clicked.
I gave up for good! Right then, right there, done! No MORE!!

I went on and celebrated my 21st birthday... sober.
I wanted to go get some alcohol because that's what you're supposed to do when you turn 21, right? You drink!
Nope... Not me... click, click, boom! I have decided to be completely clean and dry!!

I felt hope rising...





Sunday, March 5, 2017

Anger, Addiction, Broken

I didn't like my upbringing.

That's a gross understatement. I loathed my upbringing.

I struggled with dealing with things that were beyond my control.
Over, and over my siblings and I bore the brunt of the wrath of a tyrant.
I changed from an overly sensitive child to an almost emotionless early teen. I learned that emotions will only lead to more trauma, so less was good, but none was even better!

All those pent up and stuffed down emotions just turned into pure hate and anger.
I then turned to malicious behavior and continually made really, really bad choices.

In middle school I earned the nickname "Sherman Tank" because I didn't care about anyone, or anything around me. I became combative. I got into a lot of fights at home, at school, at church, in the park, at the mall, anywhere, everywhere. Anything from pushing and shoving to fist fights with my siblings, with my friends and with girls or boys I didn't even know! I didn't care. When fists flew and I got hit back, it just didn't phase me. I already knew I can take a hit. See? Tough as nails, just like a Sherman Tank!

There's more...

I had my first cigarette at age 10. My first sampling of marijuana shortly after that. Then I drank for the first time at age 13. Downed almost a whole bottle of blackberry brandy all by myself! Oh man, was that delicious!
Ohhhh! I had found my escape! Why should I suffer all this with no outlet?

What followed was seemingly endless bouts of drinking, smoking & pill popping induced passing of time. It didn't matter where I was either. At school, at home, anything, anywhere, anytime I could get my dirty little mitts on something, I was all in!

Ooo, especially at parties! Sometimes at other people's houses, but by the time I was in high school, I was hosting huge rave parties at my house! So many kids I didn't even know would show up with booze and drugs of all sorts. We would have a bonfire in the back yard, and loud music in the house. Ahhh...drunk, stoned & stupid!

My siblings and I were called latchkey kids. Parents were ALWAYS away at work, leaving us kids to fend for ourselves. It's NEVER a good idea to leave a bunch of teenagers alone for any length of time! Left up to our own devises, we always came up with the WORST ideas!

How could all of this possibly end?

My future was very clear:
Homeless, addict, laying in the gutter, dead via overdose. I NEVER thought I would live to see age 30.
Quite frankly, I hoped I didn't.
Life sucked, and I wanted out!

I was angry, strung out, and with violent tendencies. All in all, just broken.


Just....

Broken

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The good, the bad, and the evil, Locked DOWN!

There has to be some kind of balance in life. That is the beauty of the design.

How can we know joy if we have never known sorrow?
How can we appreciate peace if we have never fought battles?

Another design wonder is the human brain.

I don't mind that I can't remember much more than bits and pieces of life under the cruel reign of stepdad.
Eventually, when the violence began, I literally went into shut-down mode. Then later, the memory would simply disappear!
It's so hard to explain, and I'm having a hard time right now trying to realize how long I retained the memory of an event before it disappeared.
Oh, it makes my head hurt...
I would later find out it was a mechanism of self defense and self preservation designed by my brain. It was how I was able to endure.
Excellent! Right??

Well, sort of yes, and kind of no.

My youth may not have been ideal, but that's not to say there weren't good times too, but you see, the brain doesn't know the difference between excitement of something good, or the stress of something bad.
There is no difference of extreme. There is only extreme.
Good, or bad, too bad! It all goes on lock-down! What remains are fragments.


That's the good and the bad. Where's the evil? Hang on, I'm getting to it.


Stepdad didn't want to work. He didn't like to work, it was too hard. What he did work at was to build this public facade that he was this great guy! We were a family of active members of our church. After my parents purchased a camper, we became the go-to family for taking youth groups camping, and on other church related travels.
Of course, we also just travelled as a family.
As a result, we went on multiple trips to Washington DC, Niagara Falls, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas, Mexico, Arizona and the places in between. Then we went camping every Labor Day, or whenever my parents decided to just up and go camping, at the Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan. Beautiful!
Those are the times I would dearly love to remember! Alas, I got so excited that we were leaving out of the house, that soon, most of those memories went on lockdown.

Stepdad was so good at his disguise, it made it impossible to let anyone ever know about what realy went on at home.
As a matter of fact, he always kept his cool in public, but when he got home, that was another story. For example,
I once found out the source of one of his hissy fit rampages he had at home came from a boy that simply took a pass from reading out loud in Sunday school class that morning.
Perfectly disguised, an evil monster in the skin of a servant of God.
Hypocrite...Evil
The scales there were way off balance!

The problem is, once that lock-down mode is activated, there's NO turning it off!

So, here I live my life, with all of my memories in broken fragments; the good, the bad and the evil!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Monsters

If you grew up knowing that there's no such thing as monsters, turn you eyes away now...



Monsters are real! They lurk in the dark when the night air is so quiet you can practically hear your own heart beat. You just never know when they will come for you!

I am more than afraid of the dark, I'm petrified of it!

This account is witnessed by my mother:
In an orphanage in the 1940's a monster came for young girls in the still of the night. Scooped up while they slept, subdued by strong arm, never to be seen again. This monster is called the Boogeyman. The Boogeyman is real.

Just a couple accounts of mine:
A monster lived in our house. He was called A&&hole and tyrant and maniac. He tried to get my mom to sign over her house to him. When she didn't, he said he would blow it up one day, with everyone still in it! Nice, a**hole...
This will tie into another entry much later.

He outright told me he would sneak in my room and stand there just to watch me sleep in the middle of the night.
But, WHY?? And, why would he tell me these things?? He then went on and said more things to me that instantly made me want to run and vomit. I HATE being 'special'!

Monsters also came in the form of teenagers disguised as brother's friends.

When it's dark, the monsters WILL jump out and get you! They could be just around the corner, you just never know....

When you think you're alone, and it's all dark and quiet, you have to make a run for it! Run as fast as you can, and yell loudly to scare the monsters away!
Why do I always hesitate before running past that hall corner? Then take a long leap onto the bed so the monsters underneath don't grab your legs!
They're not under there now, right?
I don't know...
I'm too scared to look!



So, always sleep with the lights ON and the radio playing and PRAY that it helps keeps you safe!
SAFE??
I would NEVER feel safe in that house, EVER again!


Friday, February 17, 2017

The sound of silence

It goes like this:
"Turn it down! It's too loud!"

~"No it's not! It's not that loud. It can never really be too loud!"

I can't seem to function without the radio on, or the CD player going, or something playing in my headphones.
Nikki doesn't like it when I get my music playing very loud.
Wait!
Shouldn't that be the other way around?

Like so many millions of people, to me, music is everything!

Growing up was very difficult.
Ok, it was steeped in violence. My life began with my first witness of violence at age 2.
I sat at the top of the stairs screaming and crying as I watched my then, 15 year old sister being hit, thrown down stairs, then dragged up two flights of stairs by her hair. The man that rented a room in our house simply didn't want her to leave the house.
Obviously, she moved out shortly after that.

That was just the beginning...

Some years later, my mom married a so-called 'really nice guy'.
Yeah, so nice that the night of their wedding they argued so much, so loud, with things flying, and it ended with him smashing their whole wedding cake on the floor!
All of us kids, meaning myself, my siblings and his 3 kids too, listened in horror from the top of those stairs.

Later, when all was quiet, a couple of us came down to peek around the corner, to the bottom of the stairs to find my mom on her knees sobbing quietly while she picked up broken pieces of glass amongst the entire smashed cake.
Oh....no....

Step dad ruled by violence. The belt was always the preferred method.
At first, I was too little to be punished by belt, but it didn't protect me from witnessing so many horrific lashings endured by my brothers!

The best thing I could do is go hide! Go hide and grab a radio to try to drown out the sounds of the leather smacking on bare skin, and the screams and cries that followed. I felt so much fear and absolute terror welling up in my throat, my chest and stomach that I felt like I wanted to puke!
I would hide in my room. Hide in my closet. Hide in any corner of the house to always try to be unseen!
Better yet, don't go in the house at all! I spent a lot of time outside. Even in the dead of winter I would stay outside until I could no longer feel my fingers or toes and frost bite had begun.
Whenever trying to go in the house,
I would cautiously peek in the door to see if he was around, then make a mad dash to my room. Ahhh! Right to my little radio! I could listen to music, and everything, for the moment, would be OK!

Then I got older.
I managed to pretty much escape the vengeance of a good whipping, but open hand, back hand, closed hand hitting, and choke holds were reserved just for me. I was 'special' in his eyes.

Time goes by and the raging violence, yelling, screaming and things flying across rooms were a constant occurrence.

Only at night, when everyone went to bed, it got quiet. It was so quiet that I could hear my brother playing his Pink Floyd albums through the wall, and I knew, for that moment, everything would be alright.

I discovered I loved to sing along with the songs I heard. It seemed to make things so much better! I joined choir in elementary school, and have been singing and thinking about music ever since!
It's not that I'm a good singer, oh, far from it! I can hit all the notes just fine, but the quality? ... errrr...not so much.. Ahh, that doesn't stop me from belting out along with my favorite songs anyway!

I was in middle school when we learned this song called "The Sound of Silence" and it really hit home! I practiced, and practiced until that song seemed to be permanently engrained in my brain. I sang it in the shower, when I was passing classes in school, when I spent time outside, everywhere, all the time.

The night we had the concert where that song was included seemed to be magical! The whole evening was peaceful and quiet!
For that moment, I knew everything would be alright.



Fast forward through so many years, sooo..many..years.. That song and that evening had long been forgotten.
One night, I went to bed with my radio playing as usual, when I was awaken by a familiar tune I hadn't heard or thought about in ages! Still half asleep, I quietly sang along. Every word, every note, all still there!
The band Disturbed did a cover of The Sound of Silence and it was played on the radio!
Then I fell back asleep, my eyes wet with tears because I knew, at that moment, everything IS alright!






Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My Recovery Blues...

So, I pretty much missed December & most of January.
Explanation:
Many years ago, I suffered an unfortunate back injury. As a result, I leaned heavily on doctor prescribed pain medication. I had been on them from day one in order to attempt return to 'normal' day to day life.

After all this time, I randomly developed a rare allergy to this medication that resulted in me having many seizures.
At first, I didn't tell anybody what was happening, because I thought it would just go away.(yea right) They didn't.(duh) Then they got worse. (Yea, DUH!)
After waaaay too many 'episodes' & some close calls behind the wheel, yeaaa, I'm an idiot, I stopped cold turkey (bad call) per doctor's orders.
Oh, & got driving privileges suspended, too.(good call)

Fast forward to the missing of a month & a half...

Have you ever seen those movies where a junkie gets admitted into rehab & goes through wicked & excruciatingly painful withdrawals?
YUP! That was me, full speed ahead to wicked rehab.
I just didn't know it...yet...
"Just stop taking the meds!" they said. "Right now!" they said.
"Ok.. Done!" I said
It never even dawned on me that it could be a very painful ordeal! Really??? Yes...Really!
Anyway, why would it? It's not like I was addicted to heroine!

But OOHHHH.....
The misery, the anguish, the vomiting, the profuse sweating & chills that followed was almost as unbearable as ALL of the agonizing return of pain from the back injury, as well as my debilitating headaches! It ALL came rushing back, all at once!!
If ever there is a time that you literally just want to die, it would be then!

I took many sleeping pills to try to 'sleep it off', countless Tylenol, ibuprofen, Aleve, Excedrin & aspirin to try to get any relief, but no, no relief would come.
In my mind, I'm scrambling to figure out a way to justifiably get into a medically induced coma for just a couple weeks...

Day after day, week after week, bad days, then worse days, then days where I'd slip & take some forbidden meds, but I'd feel better! Oops...
Birthdays, Christmas & New Year came & went. Trying to make this time nice for everyone else was so hard!
When will this be over already??

That's a stupid question.

The answer is, never!

Sure, I have energy now, & I can do things around the house & even cook a bit, but there's a cost! It's not just about the pain. Sure, I'll live with (more) pain as my constant companion, but what damage was done to my brain in this whole ordeal?
I've since noticed problems with speech. At times, my inability to put a sentence together is incredibly frustrating! Words get jumbled & come out completely backwards, it's sooo weird!!! Just writing this is such a difficult task!
I am also a recovered alcoholic. I already battle daily 'cravings', but now they scream, "Gimmmeeee!!!" louder than ever!!
So the stupid question of when this is going to be over? Yup, NEVER!

However, I DO have my family!
Without their constant care & support, my outcome would have been dramatically different!
So, I thank you for your support, literally, yes, I mean physically holding me up at times!
I thank you for your dedication, your patience, your confidence & your strength when I have none.
I love you so, so much, you can't even know!!

I do know this endeavor is FAR from over!
I just wish instead of damaging my brain, it would've opened up some part of it, unlocking an amazing talent like becoming a guitar, or piano virtuoso!!

Oh well, at least my sense of humor is intact... Phew! Ha ha ha ha ha!!