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.


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!
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.