Forgiving Suzee

***TRIGGER WARNING***

The Whole Codependent Mess of Us: “Legacy of Lunacy”©STMartin2016

Why I had to:

Hatred can eat you alive. Trust me on this, you do NOT want to carry it around for thirty years like I did, it is poison. I watched my Mom wither under the weight of the loathing she had for my Dad, fifty years of resentment and anger all twisted up inside. And he was just as bad, in a different way; vindictive and cruel to her, and sometimes to my brother and I, but always to Mom. Is it any wonder I grew up filled with the black death of it?

grrrr….

It fuelled my young life, after the years of blissful ignorance that comes with kindergarten times. No, hatred was to force its way into me, at the hands of an abuser. The funny thing was (not that sexual assault is ever funny, it’s a figure of speech) , to the adults in my world there was blame to be settled on my eight- year-old head. I was so confused by the abuse, because the offender was a trusted adult, that I wasn’t filled with hate towards him. It was all so overwhelming, and my best friend and I were swallowed up and spit out by the Justice system at that time. Childhood sexual assault wasn’t treated the way it is today back in the early 70’s. We had to tell the judge and the entire courtroom what was done to us, detail by detail; the abuse was over the course of a year, so there was a lot to tell. The judge kept making me repeat things and go into more detail, ” COULD YOU SPEAK UP PLEASE?”

“Inheritance of Daughter’s”©STMartin2017

(My friend was so traumatized that she couldn’t come back the second day, so it felt like a white hot light shining down on my eight-year-old head. The abusers wife decided to add to my torture by announcing to the audience that we were little whores who enticed the old codger. )

I digress. I learned to hate thru this experience. Not only the bad people, but myself. My Grandmother let me know that “nice girls” never talked about these things ever, and if I wanted to get married someday I would never, no NEVER, mention it again. My Mom blamed my Dad, and my friends parents, and was angry at herself for never having “The Talk” with me yet.

The Hatred grew, I started to use drugs, I drank, I stayed out late, my grades failed. It was all MY Fault, and the reason no one loved me was because I was faulty somehow. I lost my virginity to rape- that was my fault to, I belived. Circumstances were such that my friends abandoned me after this, my Dad told me I was disgusting when I got home at 3am with sticks and grass in my hair, so I never told anyone. I hated myself so much, I deliberately did more and more shocking things. It must be true, I thought, I am disgusting! I tried to end my life before I even graduated high school.

At 17, I not only hated myself, I hated authority, my parents, men, my old friends, school and disco. Everybody hated disco, didn’t they? I was angry with my big brother for disliking me and the company I kept. My Mom took me for an abortion at age 15 when my “boyfriend” abandoned me; I never really understood that it had been a wonderful, tiny life inside of me. It came back to haunt me after 2 years, when I saw friends at school bring their babies. This was the FIRST TIME that was been done in that area. I became suicidal, I started hitting things, kicking things till I broke my toes, bloodied my knuckles. There was no one talking about Bipolar Disorder in those days.

The Water Plant ©STMartin2018(SOLD)

I just kept spiralling downward. After jumping out of a moving car I was placed in a locked adolescent ward of a Psychiatric Hospital. I was able to talk about the awful things for 30 days, but no real diagnosis, just depressed, they said.

Flash forward to moving to Florida at 20 with my parents. New beginnings, same old song. I kept losing my sobriety, using cocaine big time. It was ‘snowing’ all over Florida in the early 80’s. Then I met an ex-Marine named Ricky. He was the first to really beat me. That was fine, I deserved it. That’s what he told me, so it must be true. It was always something I did, something I said. Then we found rock. ‘Crack’. Now I really had reason to intensely dislike myself. I stole from every member of my family, including stealing my deceased Grandfather’s gold teeth, stolen from my Grandma’s jewelry box. My own Grandma and Grandpa. Yep.

Well, that wasn’t even the bottom. There were 15 years of addiction, abuse, crime, alcoholism, jail and agony yet to go. Not to mention the pain and trauma I put my Mom thru. I would travel up the east coast, across the country to the west coast, become homeless, rob the store I worked in, live with train tramps, hop freight trains, be ‘held hostage’ by Mormons, pretend to be a lawyer for said Mormons, live in the Sonoran Desert, travel back to Florida, marry a habitual offender, have my nose broken twice, my jaw once, get pneumonia 3x, become a pot dealer, then a coke dealer, a drug runner and a co-conspirator to my husband’s crimes, try to infiltrate a motorcycle club on my own and lose everything at least 3 times . Oh, and get snake bit twice, once by a pygmy rattlesnake, once by a copperhead, both times drunk. These are only the things I remember…

“Reach out and Touch You” ©STMartin2019

It all added up to one very sad, very angry, very sick person who could not stand to look herself in the mirror. The self-hatred and self-abuse led me to the darkest place I had ever been. Everything I ever tried failed. I hurt everyone who ever loved me, and I could not stand it one more day. I tried to overdose on a cold night in September 1999. I couldn’t even do that right it seemed. I was shooting up in my parents’ house, they let me come home after my husband went to federal prison. I promised myself that I would never jeopardize my Dad’s business. But I’d been allowing a coke dealer to do business in the place in exchange for an 8 ball every couple days. (An 8-ball is an eigth ounce of cocaine) I told him I quit that night, but he left me a package anyway. So I knew it was over. I did what I said I wouldn’t do. I’d been in and out of AA and NA so often they called me the “white chip queen’; I just couldn’t do it, I believed. The only way was to ‘ride the lightning’-give myself a hot shot.

Plugged In ©STMartin2019

I loaded the syringe, and gathered my nerves. With tears running down my face, I apologized to God and everyone, and then…

Prayer for Mickey©STMartin2019

…then I saw this image if a candle in my mind’s eye, with the tiniest flame I had ever seen, the wind was blowing and it was flickering-it would go out any second…then suddenly I realized that I was being shown my life, just about to blow out like that candle… I put the needle down and got on my knees, and prayed to God to help me….

Metamorphosis ©STMartin2018

I know, you are sceptical, and that is ok, I don’t know if it was my imagination or what. But I got up and called a friend, took the dope and headed over to his house. The trouble was, he was clean and sober. Or maybe that there is the miracle. Because he convinced my to dump out the drugs and go to a 12 step meeting when morning came. I did this, and amazingly have been clean and sober till this day, 21 years later! Twenty two in September…

But it still took a wee bit longer to forgive myself. As the years passed I still didn’t feel happy, I cried all the time. I finally got a proper diagnosis and a medication regimen that works for my Bipolar Disorder. I have PTSD from all the physical trauma and abuse, but I have coping tools today. I have a therapist who understands my pain and guides me thru the darkness when it comes. But the best medicine I ever found is the forgiveness God gives thru the Sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. By learning about this and about God’s will, and dedicating my life to God, I have experienced the greatest gift ever: The free gift of a cleansed conscience, of forgiveness from all my past sins.

So you see, I just Had to learn to forgive myself, otherwise I would be claiming that I know better than my God!! It is not easy though, sometimes my old thinking creeps back in and I feel that old discouragement. I have to stay on top of things and pray, follow the Bible’s counsel and reach out to my support network. Knowing that my Creator loves me is the greatest high I have ever experienced.

I am truly grateful for my life today.

Chained, the beginning of the End

update: I will soon add to this post as installments, and dedicate a separate section of my blog to my Journey out of Domestic Violence and Codependency. *note* trigger warning*

Part 1 .

Danny was bad. Seriously. But he was not bad looking. He sent me an 8 x10, taken at the state penitentiary around 1987. He looked fine in all white, his hair dark, eyes light. Standing posed in the South Carolina sun, just right to show off his biceps and tattoos. Mom even said how handsome he was, looking remarkably like an actor on Dallas. She watched that show, faithfully. I stared into that image…frequently.

I’d only been out of jail for a few weeks, feeling squirrelly, ready for some action. The dude, Eddie and I hooked up the day after I got home to my parents house, and I remember thinking ,”He’ll do for now.”. The future looked wide open, but my addiction came home from jail with me. I dutifully went to AA for months, not drinking but smoking some weed now and then. Much more ‘now’, than ‘then’.

I never forgot Danny, tho’. As that year passed I dutifully worked as a correspondence link for Danny’s girl, Sandy, and him. The State Prison system didn’t allow letters to move from one institution to another, I said I’d be their “go between”. But as her feelings for Danny cooled, mine warmed, and not wanting to break his heart I tried to fill the void with cheerful words about my life. Thinking back I gotta laugh…break his heart? Anyway, Eddie seemed to not care, I explained the set up, neglecting to mention that Sandy had moved on and married some other dude.

the artist, poet, writer, and survivor: S. T. Martin

Life and the pursuit of a geographical cure to my cocaine addiction led me across country late in 1988. Skipping on our rent in the wee hours of a Monday morning in late September, we piled into my 1970 Mustang Fastback. I had lost my license at some point that year so one drunken weekend I decided to buy red spray paint and paint the hot rod without any prep work. Runs, drips and overspray on the windows turned the nice looking sport car into an attention grabbing mess. So, after pawning some stolen electronics I put her “in the wind”, leaving family, jobs and all common sense behind.

I lost the car in Fort Deposit, Alabama, to a “nice” state trooper who pulled up minutes after the car broke down. He determined that I had no money for repair, so rather than be taken to jail I chose the other option he offered… the car being impounded and Eddie and I being given a lift…to the impound lot.

Only taking what we could carry, plus my Boxer dog, Spice, and calico cat, Binky Boots Bouncer Callahan (neice of “Dirty” Harry Callahan), we trecked a few paces away from the impound lot and rested. I was sick now, jonesing and hungover and sorely missing my car in the rapidly cooling air. Night was coming and we were all hungry, Eddie found some change in his pocket and crossed over the Interstate to scrounge us some food at a truck stop. He came back with a can of tuna, which we split 4 ways.

“Hmmmmm…this ain’t gonna be no joyride…” I mused.

“We’ll make it…” He grinned sheepishly, not exuding much confidence. In turn, I did not feel any , either. The concrete underpass we were using as shelter didn’t block much wind. It got down to 42 F. that night, my feet hurt so bad in the cold that Eddie sat on them. I cried.

Our trip across country was successful in one respect: we made it to the west coast and put a foot in the Pacific Ocean. There are so many other stories I have to tell you about the 18 months we lived in Arizona. I won’t tell them now.

I started with Danny, I will end with him. Thank God I will only end with him in this blog post, not in this life. He passed away in 2018, married to another. I can’t understand why I still think of him as “mine”. After you read this, maybe you can tell me.

Part 2.

What came first, Bipolar Disorder, Sexual Assault, Codependency, Addiction, PTSD? I am not going to answer that question, thats for the Scientists. When I write these installments about my life experiences I do not want you, gentle reader, to think this is me romanticizing the life I lived. It is by the skin of my teeth that I survived, most people do not. I grew up with my head full of movies, books and television telling little girls that the “Bad” guys were the sexy ones, that a smack was “what a girl needed” and that sexual assault and rape were justified and designed to “keep a woman in her place”. The whole “walking three steps behind” was an idea embraced by the people I was surrounded by, and degrading talk towards the women I loved and looked up to was the norm. I don’t think I am alone in saying that my family was raised with the idea of the man ruling with an iron fist, the woman being a servant rather than an equal. The harder the father was, the more “manly” a daughter may think a partner should be.

Whether or not mental illness caused me to fall into this mindset easier and deeper than my peers , I do not know. I do know that of my girlfriends growing up, many of us had violent boyfriends, but almost none ever talked about it. When a friend would sport a black eye it was either ignored, or looked at as some kind of badge of honor.

I was unfortunate in that I wanted my Peers approval more than anything else. I so lacked love and confidence that I would do anything, literally anything for their acceptance. This held true in all my “romantic” relationships as well.

Was my Ex (who I call Danny, not his real name) the only abusive person in my life? No, indeed. He was by far the most accomplished at this form of torment and, by the grace of God, the last abuser I ever dealt with. I am grateful to him for this: Being the catalyst for my transformation to a life free from drugs, alcohol, violence, crime, and abuse.

Over the past 20 years since I was his wife, I learned to understand codependency. I made the decision to join a group of fellow survivors and guided by a counselor we we taught about the cycle of abuse and how to break free. If you are in a similar situation I urge you to seek community help, society has come a million miles from the days of suffering in silence and hiding your bruises. We have many miles to go, at least we have wonderful assets and years of reforms to help reduce the of domestic abuse today.

I am including a trigger warning in these posts, and I am using caution for my own health also…if it gets to hard to talk about I will stop. I still have flashbacks, I guess I always will. But I can detach myself more now than I used to, now that my abuser is deceased.

So why talk about my past at all? I still need to. I don’t hate the person I used to be anymore, but I did. Oh, boy, did I ever. I loathed myself for the things I had done for him, and for the things he had done to me. I felt I had to cut this part of myself off, completely and most firmly, and bury her somewhere where all this hate would leave me alone. But that does not work, I found. Hate buried grew, festered and eventually began poisoning my life in sobriety. It effected my ability to care about myself in the present. The way I perceived myself suffered and my confidence did also. One day a few years ago, a very astute and kind counselor had me do something profound. He pulled an empty chair up beside mine and asked me to visualize the “past” me sitting there. He had me describe how I felt about her, what I saw. I described a horrible person deserving death, without showing a hint of mercy. Then he asked me to see how sorry she was for the things she had done, how abused she was, how truly sick and crushed. Man, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. He asked me if I would forgive someone else who had gone thru what past me had gone thru…thats when the tears came. Torrents of them, and a realization I could live free from that awful burden of hate I had been carrying. Whew… I even feel it now, still! And I have to remind myself at times to keep having that self love, self forgiveness for mistakes. I used to have an old Deep Purple album entitled, “Who do we think we are?”; I relate this to the thought that is my Creator can forgive me, them who do I think I am if I can’t!

That’s where I am today, friend. Just me. But I love my life today, even broke and wearing an old sweatshirt and sneakers… Even in my little home with my little scruffy dog! We both have the same haircut these days!

I hope you enjoy my writing and art. If you do, feel free to follow ! talk to you soon!

“FACING A HEAD”, ©SusanT.Martin2020

The Discomfort of Disbelief

“The feeling of being doubted…is an ever-present background noise…”

Did you ever wonder if people believe you? Is that only the mental stomping ground of the addict? The alcoholic?

The feeling of being doubted, of my integrity being questioned, is an ever present background noise…especially when I am sick. I was even afraid, just now, to write the word ‘sick’. (wouldn’t it be better to minimize?)

One very HUGE contributing factor to this constant was the years upon years of describing extreme pain to a plethora of physicians who could find no ‘easy’ or ‘obvious’ condition to label me with. There were no broken bones, I had a history of drug abuse, I had a history of a mental illness diagnosis, and I am a woman. I was also very strong, working difficult physical jobs normally held by men, which may or may not have been a factor.

My experience has not been an isolated one when it comes to women who have Fibromyalgia and/or similar diagnosis. During the years before the medical profession widely recognized this condition I was one of a multitude who went thru years of mental anguish and physical agony before finally being given a smidgen of relief.

Finally a Diagnosis !

It took real determination (and very real disability and pain) to keep pushing on towards a diagnosis. I was told it was all in my head, that I was just overweight and needed exercise and that what I was experiencing was just a consequence of aging. At this point I was crying every night from the burning in my joints, in my muscles and in my spine. My best description for that time was as if I were wearing a dense heavy coat that was soaking wet, all the time. A coat that weighed about 100 pounds and was crushing me.

At this point my work was suffering, a kind boss had taken me aside after noticing my wincing, and suggested a Rheumatologist. Initially even he was sceptical until he got back the results of the CT Scans and MRI’s. (He was the first to order these types of tests!) I distinctly remember the initial shock at him gently taking my hand and apologizing, so sincerely, for not believing the severity of my discomfort. He went on to ask me if I had been in a car accident, the images showed that level of damage to my spine.

There were a myriad of issues the films brought to light, and from that point on my care finally addressed them. The physical relief was matched and even surpassed by the rush of validation! I was taken seriously!! I was, finally, believed!

Cry for Redemption

…there was nothing…but to keep chasing the high, reality became too painful…married you so…you could not testify against him?…

I’ve been busy trying to find some balance. It has been a difficult issue all my life. I can be impetuous and impatient, wanting things to happen yesterday. In the past I hated discipline, and yet needed it desperately. I rebelled against everything, and prided myself on living outside the lines.

But I yearned to have the life I saw others living. I was always on the outside looking in-at families sitting round a dinner table, or gathered in front of a fireplace. Friends having lunch in a deli, or laughing at a movie. I was standing just outside, in three feet of snow, higher than a kite…and crying. Wishing I were in that house, sitting down to a hot meal, my heart full of love and surrounded by kindness. Full of joy. Full of hope.

After certain traumatic events I thought I could never be in the presence of ‘normal’ people again. Or in the company of ‘nice girls’. These feelings are common to those of us who have been forced to walk on the dark side…and that is exactly what kept me stuck on the outside looking in. As someone who had been sexually abused it was easy to believe that no one could understand me, I was different, warped somehow, out of line and irreparably broken.

These lines of reasoning are what kept me stoned, drunk and living on the street. A perverted sense of pride kept me “out there”; I was terminally unique and no one could understand me.

(I shut my eyes and drift back to those dark days when my husband and I were getting close to the end, an end that I knew was not going to have me walking out alive…)

The world I had immersed myself in was squeezing me dry. No true happiness, just oblivion. Once the money and the dope were gone, so was the glamor. Now there was nothing for it but to keep chasing the high, reality became to painful. To realize the person you left your family for never really loved you at all? That he married you so that you could not testify against him? Wait..what? What?

The collect calls home, just to hear Mom’s voice, ” Are you alright, Susan? Do you have enough to eat? “

“Sure, Mom, no problem…we have work now, good work…Cement Plant shutdown…lots of money. Come up and see us sometime…”

They better never come visit. See me with black eyes, track marks. Find out we are living in a tent. Holidays coming round again, and I’m too strung out to visit. Oh, the bitter tears I cried that year, and the one after, and the one after that….endless rivers from red, swollen eyelids, dripping off the end of a snotty nose, wiped on dirty sleeves. Sleeves that roll up to purple scars on blue veins, sitting in a gray cement bathroom holding a syringe between tobacco stained teeth, ready to ride that white pony into blue, blue blue blue blue blu

bluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Hold it Right THERE!!!!

That is not the way this story ended. It could have soooooo easily, except for one thing. One thing that I never would have believed if you had told it to me then. During those last few dangerous days of my marriage, days when he would get so high he would wire all the doors in the trailer shut from the inside, while creeping around with a hammer…days when I was so afraid of what he would do that I would hide in the bathtub hoping he wouldn’t find me… days when he beat me unconscious…when he shot wildly in a drunken stupor, missing me by inches…when he flushed a half ounce of coke down the toilet then dug up the septic tank and pulled the package out…days when he would OD and I brought him back to life, pounding on his chest and screaming, “Don’t die you #@$!%*!”…Then on our 7th anniversary he went to work at the naval shipyard, I made his favorite dinner and waited eagerly for him to come home, ready to forgive him one more time. Waited and waited, as the hours passed…losing hope I broke down, and prayed, not knowing what had happened but sensing something was wrong.

I remember lying in the dark , begging God for forgiveness as memories moved thru my mind, memories of all the hatred in my life, the drugs, the violence, all the pain I had caused, and abuse I had endured. I poured myself out to God, like I had not done in nearly 20 years. I really felt at that time that I was doomed, doomed to never get out of this situation alive. The violence and depravity were so overwhelming, and he had made sure to impress upon me, in no uncertain terms that if I were to ever try to leave, it would be my family who would pay for my error. And pay dearly. After pouring out my heart to God, I slept, drained of tears and exhausted .

It was a strange dream , and many years have passed, so I won’t attempt to relate it now. I was then awakened by a pounding on the door. My heart sank… Was this the police telling me some terrible news?

It was Jim, my husbands coworker, they rode to work together. He was beside himself… ” Sue, I have some bad news, really bad… I don’t know what happened but there was a SWAT team! The FBI, my god, it was terrible! They had their Guns drawn, told us all to get out of the van, get on the ground!”

Jim! (I heard myself yelling) Jim! Where is Marty? Is he ok? IS HE DEAD?

“what? Oh, no,no, he’s not dead, but they took him away, they cuffed us all, we were freaking out, questioned us all, but let us all go, except him!”

Oh, thank God, I remember feeling so relieved. He wasn’t dead on the highway, or shot by police… But what was he arrested for?

” Sue, it’s really bad, they were asking about guns, said we were stealing guns or something? They charged him with something to do with weapons, I don’t know…”

We talked on thru the night, and I was all wrapped up in how to deal with this new reality… So wrapped up that it did not dawn on me till years later that God answered my prayer that night, and he answered it in a BIG way. I survived my marriage to that man, I survived the addiction to cocaine and got clean, survived all the beatings, survived the alcoholism, the pain, the sadness, the insanity… Thanks to God.

I prayed for help and He heard my prayer… I am so very, very grateful to Jehovah, for his Son, Jesus, and for all His wonderful Wisdom , Power, Justice and Love. He is the Sovereign of the Universe and the Right to Rule belongs to Him, and to those whom he chooses to give it.

The Kingdom is in place, let it come!

Life is so good today. I am isolated, but I am never alone. I feel sad sometimes, but I am not without hope. There is nothing anyone can do to me that my God cannot undo. I do not need to cower in fear, because “there are more who are with us than those there are with them”(2 Kings 6:16b) I hope that you find some comfort knowing that God is the hearer of prayer, and the He wants us to talk to him, and share our feelings with him.

“For I well know the thoughts I am thinking toward you,” declares Jehovah, ” thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future, and a hope. And you will call me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11,12

“You will call, and Jehovah will answer; you will cry for help and he will say ,”Here I am!” Isaiah 58:9″

“Jehovah is close to the broken-hearted; He saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalms34:18

PARTY GIRL!

“PARTY GIRL”, A Brand New, Fresh off the Easel, 12″x 12″ on Canvas Painting by Susan T. Martin. Ready to be Purchased and hung with pride in your home!

The SLOG of Joy

Grumble. Growl. Grunt.

.   Swear. Sweat. Stomp.

. Punch. Pound. Pant.

.  Breathe. Binge. Boss.

.  Shout. Scream, Smear.

.  Fall in a heap, exhausted. Then get up, clean up, and do it all over again.

.  There is joy in this. This “living” we do. No matter how sweaty, or dirty, or ugly, this “living” is a beautiful thing.

.   There is no ‘give up’ here, no ‘quit’ , no ‘over it, no ‘packing it in’.

This is where every. breath. matters.

.    DO YOU HEAR ME?

EVERY BREATH MATTERS.

Right now, in my little trailer in the middle of down, down, way down and out USA, I am deciding to care. I am deciding that my sufferings will amount to something, that all this silence and fear and worry  in my heart will be done away with, that with this breath of life my Creator blessed me with will be used to help someone else live, too.

.  I know I’m a rag-tag mess. I can’t think straight most of the time, and there are days I can’t leave my house. I am oppressed by an illness that tells me I don’t have it, and that feeling like I’m sick is a sin. I’m not exhausted, it tells me, I’m lazy. I’m not in excruciating pain, I’m a dope seeker. I was not abused, assaulted and raped, I was promiscuous.

.  I am here, I am now, and with my God’s help, I will reach out to someone else. And with my God’s help, I will not believe the lies. Instead I believe the Bible, God’s own letter to me, and to all his children. I want to live.

3 Hours Sleep and I’m Feelin’ Good!

Righty O! How about that Picture, huh? Oh, my…

.   That’s my “I’m so tired I can fall down right in this spot and sleep for a month” face. And it’s none too pretty. It’s also the most unflattering view of my nose…I was never unhappy with my nose until my Ex broke it . We were pretty high, and the cops had a roadblock we were going to drive past, and in my nervousness I didn’t realize he was just waving us around a broken down car. So I was going to stop and roll down my window, but that psycho husband of mine hit me with a right hook that I knew had broken my nose the minute it landed. Now with my nose smashed and bleeding and my lover screaming, “Just Go! JUST GO YOU STUPID @#$!%&!!” I rolled right thru the zone just praying that the cop would see my pain and lock my old man up forever.

.    Unfortunately, I had a long way to go with him, not only in miles on that specific trip, but years in marriage as a hostage to this monster. I cried and whimpered while he continued to berate me all the way to our friend’s house, at which time I ran into the house to pry my broken contacts out of my eyes, and ask for an ice pack. And a stiff drink.

.  The woman who lived there with her common law husband was no stranger to domestic violence, I had seen Jim go at her plenty of times when he was drunk. They had a 2 year old little tow-head named Gregory who I loved dearly, he came over with his blue eyes big with compassion, and said, “Bwoke?”while pointing his tiny finger at my face.

.  Lori took me aside while I was lameenting, “He broke my nose. HE BROKE MY @#$!&%!! NOSE!” and told me I should be taking pictures of all the injuries my husband had been inflicting on my person almost daily, I was too mad to listen, but years later I now wish I had. I guess the scars, PTSD and crooked nose will have to do.

WIN_20191108_04_51_11_Pro (3)
The Way I See Sue©STMartin

.  Anyway, I was still ticked off and full of the kind of courage that comes from straight whiskey, so I sat on the couch loudly lamenting my poor nose. That’s when Lori’s husband Jim looked at me laughing and said, “What’s the difference? You already had a big shnoz !!!”  My husband thought this was a riot also.

.  That was the day I began to hate my nose.

.  About 5 years after this incident, Lori and Jim were fighting again, and she came to us (well,  to my husband ) asking for help to buy a gun.  She claimed she feared for her and her son’s life,  Jim was “wild”and “dead set” on killing her. In our cocaine induced insanity, we went to a guy my hubby knew , and purchased a gun for Lori. Later that night, we met up with Lori in a Grocery Store parking lot. My Ex showed it too her, she had many questions. She purchased it. (By this time , after years of this woman’s unusual interest in my husband, I had learned to hate her. It turned out I had good reason to do so.)WIN_20200710_02_11_35_Pro_LI (6)

Approximately six months after the “transaction” my husband was  working with a crew of guys subcontracting welding for the Charleston  Naval Shipyard , and the ATF and FBI threw down on them all in our van while they were at the Shipyard . Lo and behold, little Lori, our “best friend”, had been wearing a wire during, not only the gun transaction, but in ALL the “meetings” she had with my husband. He had been sleeping with her for years, as I learned at his trial.

.  Well, he got 15 to life as a habitual  offender, I sold my hot rod 71 Mach One and his Harley to hire his attorney. After that I eventually made it to my parents home in Florida, got clean and sober and divorced jerk face. That was in ’02. He got out in 2011, remarried another womedan he had been cheating on me with. He died on February 7th alone at their home of a major coronary. And so ends that chapter of my incredible life.

.                             Crazy, man. Just crazy…WIN_20200720_06_43_02_Pro_LI (3)

Secrets…Many Secrets

 

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So many Secrets©STMartin

WIN_20191108_04_51_11_Pro (3)    Should we tell our secrets? Burden our loved one’s with them? Jeopardize our relationships with society, our peers? Risk our reputations?

.     Many people choose not to. Instead they carry that burning bucket of nastiness hidden away deep inside. Letting it rot away all their prospects for joy, searing their potential away under the scars of a guilty conscience. And , in the end, it’s all for naught. They really didn’t fool anyone, most of all they did not fool God.

.    I had secrets, many, many dark ones. In my abused child’s mind a darkness festered, and I have hidden it desperately for so many years. I thought I had it hidden so well that it could never hurt anyone, least of all me. But it has Hurt me. For a long and terrible time. I thought that the God of the Bible would never forgive me, could never love me, I was that dirty and sinful and twisted. I was determined to keep my secret to the grave, and I was even working on helping that day come sooner, putting myself in the grave sooner.

Oh, I tried, but it seemed like I was indestructible , at least physically, but I was succeeding in killing me inside. The longer I held onto, the deeper I buried, the harder I punished myself …my secret was like a squirrel in a pillow case, fighting it’s squirmy way our while ripping my sanity to shreds.

The pain just got too great, and after 30+years I finally bent my knees and poured out my heart to God. It took a very long prayer, and I had to keep praying and spilling my guts to Him, purging all that blackness out of me. All those years of bottled up guilt had become a well of poison, shot from arrows from Satan, telling me I was worthless, unlovable, beyond redemption and without hope. Lies. Lies upon lies upon lies, made to keep me far away from my Creator and His Son.

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When the pain of keeping my secrets became unbearable, I had found a tiny old woman, a long time student of the Bible, who took me in and saw my agony. She saw that I was full to bursting of the ugly secrets that kept me from God. She recognized my suffering and showed me in God’s word where a man named Saul who was a persecuter of Jesus followers, who chased Christians down and dragged them back to be killed, who stood by and watched while Jesus followers were stoned…This man was forgiven by God. This man was used by God to write books of the Bible under inspiration. This murderous villain was forgiven of all his sins, all his awful dirty secrets. This man became the apostle Paul.

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Pink Dusk©STMartin

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Oh, the cleansing tears I cried, tears of gratitude and joy, tears of freedom from a horrible heavy burden. Suddenly I felt as if a Boulder had rolled off my back, I was lighter, the air was clearer, my vision better, my legs stronger. But most of all I felt a light come shining inside my darkest places, where the nasty secrets had been buried, and this light , in it’s cleansing brightness has stayed in my heart down to this day. Because God saw fit to sacrifice his perfect Son so that sinner’s like Saul, and like me, could be forgiven and have a clean conscience before Him. By Jesus ransom sacrifice I have been washed clean of all my secrets, and God has thrown all my sins behind his back, never to be remembered again.

.  Oh, there is so much more to this life than I ever thought possible. I do not cower in fear anymore when darkness falls, because the light of God’s truth shines on those who repent, turn around and put faith in Jesus, and then take steps to learn about the will of the God of the Bible and do it to the best of their ability .

.  You can feel this glorious unburdening too. I hope you can. I go to the website JW.org for free Bible education materials. It is totally free, and I love to look at the videos and listen to the music. It brings joy to me in these difficult times. I hope so much for you, dear readers, to feel this love and be relieved of whatever burden you carry. Thanks for reading!

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Who Do I Think I Am?

I do silly things sometimes. Fairly often, in reality. Most of the time they are thoughtless mistakes, quickly forgotten by all who have been effected by them. There was a time, in the past life I lived, the one I talk so much about on this site, that I did intentionally bad things. Things that hurt people. People who loved me, acquaintances, strangers, it really did not matter. My warped bipolar, drug addicted brain could only seek it’s own gratification, usually with no apology attached. Selfish. Mean. Low down.

.   I lived 20 years of my life in Pittsburgh, and went to school in a large predominately white suburb. In the large community I lived in there were 4 black children in my school, that I knew. Out of hundreds. I never wondered why, never asked why, it was just “the way it was”. These were times before forced bussing and desegregation. I never had  learned to be predjudiced, it was a non-issue. The first black child I ever saw was about 4 and so was I, I clearly remember running down the hedgerow and meeting him at the opening, breathless.

.  He looked at me, and I at him, and I loved him. I wanted to play with him, and he smiled happily back at me. That was 40 years ago-I remember it like yesterday. Mother used to tell visitors that I ran inside that day telling her I was going to marry him and have gray babies. That seems bizzare for a four year old (black plus white making gray) because I don’t think I even had a concept of my being “white”. (A born artist, I probably thought I was pinkish yellow or something…) But I do believe I loved him, on the spot, at first sight.

.  I never saw him again, when I ran back outside the family was gone. No black people ever moved in next door, or anywhere on my block for that matter. After I grew older and went to secondary school I saw the other black children who were my age, but we never made friends. But they are stamped on my memory, because they were beautiful. They had a hard road at that school, I know, because they were talked about as being half white, like it was a curse or something. When I brought them up at home, my parents knew exactly who they were, because a “mixed race” couple must have really blown up the town’s skirts back then.

.  I must have been talking about it in front of my Tennessee born Grandpa, because I remember being shocked at his reply, and the venom in it. He then said that I had black in me, because I had big lips. So, the realization dawned that prejudice  was closer to home than I realized. But I still didn’t feel it, I just thought how nice brown skin would be, it wouldn’t show my pimples. A few years passed and I got my first real job, in a Sambo’s restaurant (yes, that was really the name). I was 15 and my manager was 30. He was black, and very handsome. I was besotted and we dated a couple times. I thought the age difference was exciting, and so was his skin color, and the danger was exhilarating. A danger I was now old enough to understand. He spoke of love, but never wanted me to meet any of his friends or family. I told my Mom about him, and she nearly fainted. She was not racist( I don’t believe), she sat me down and talked a long time about how my grandpa and my father would disown me, how hard the world was on mixed race couples, and it was, at that time.  I said goodbye to him on the telephone and that was the end of our friendship.

When I turned 20 I moved to Florida with my Mom. I was very addicted to cocaine before I got there, and I was now living in a county where the sheriff had shipments landing on his own airstrip! It did not take long to land in jail, and then I had an epiphany.  I did not hate black people, but they hated me! At least in that jail they did. There were 21 girls in a 6 man cell, we laid on the floor like sardines. When the matron first shoved me in, I saw only one other white girl, and she the meanest of the bunch. “Who did you kill? ” was jeered at me, and the verbal abuse began. I was scared, alone, jonesing and locked up for the first time in my life, and I could not understand why they hated me so bad.. I hadn’t done anything to them, had I?

.  I became the brunt of their jokes, being called things I hadn’t heard before. The girls made a habit of stealing my food, taking my blankets and making my life miserable. I was learning, though. When they saw that I could draw and write pretty, I started a little letter writing racket for 1 cigarette per letter. I wrote fast and soon made some memorable friends. When I took the time to learn about my cell mates I began to be enlightened about racism. I was enlightened about my own sense of entitlement, I saw how unequal we were in our education , and in how we were treated by the guards and the police. My fear had subsided, but now I knew that racial differences could be dangerous.

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.  The turn my life had taken led to being around very racist white people when I got out of jail. Hateful, gun toting people. I wanted to be accepted, I wanted friends, it was not long until I learned the drawl and wore the flag. I never talked about my northern roots, I talked about my relatives in Tennessee. I played the part, got high, got drunk and said the “N” word. I hated everyone who was different, hated everyone who looked at me cross-eyed. I disliked myself most of all, for my two-faced , hypocritical ways.

.  Yes, I finally cleaned up my life, got away from violence, cussing, drugs. Got away from my abusive, hateful husband when he went to Prison. Been clean and sober 20 years now, and I am a baptized  worshipper of God. I preach to others about love of neighbor, love of family, obedience to God. I changed my wicked ways, I yell it from the rooftops…

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“The Sentinel’s Prayer”, acrylic on canvas, Susan T. Martin2017

It made me physically ill to watch George being murdered. I was, and am outraged. I felt like he was my friend, and all those feelings I posted in my last post. But when I went to the store in the days after his death, and a black man walked down the aisle I was in, I felt terrified. I could not look him in the eye, my face burned with shame and I wanted to run away.  I did not mention this in my last post, yet that was my motivation to write it in the first place . I actually wrote about it, then got scared and deleted it! Rewrote the post without talking about my discomfort, my shame, my guilt, my anger at myself. I wanted so much to understand why I reacted that way, why I felt scared to reach past his wife to get my margarine. Why I think if she had said Boo to me I would have peed myself. Why I was unable to say how outraged I was, how I understood their anger, why I was unable to say Anything…IMG_20180909_002734_526

.  But good old Sue, she changed her chameleon colors, again… Instead of peering deep into the wound to get to the heart of that ugly splinter, to pull it out and see it in the light of day, to clean the wound and bind it up to heal…I chose to cover the wound, leave the splinter, let it fester some more.We are all Innocent Image2 (2)

.  In my dishonesty, not only to you, gentle reader, but to myself, I had the audacity to presume that my family’s history is comparable to the Floyd’s. While I am sure my ancestors experienced the pain of predjudice it was not a bit helpful to bring that up in this context, as if saying what happened to their son was just a predictable passage in the history of mankind. No, I have to do better if I truly want to clean my heart of the stain it bears. I am part of the problem too. I am not the one to act like I know what black people feel. I tied that emblem on my forehead too many times to be so saintly now…

.  I’ve still got work to do, tonight and tomorrow and every day hence. I have to go sharpen my knife, and sterilize my tweezers and get that damn splinter out…I think it’s time.

THE PAIN of it ALL

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What do I say to a black mother whose son was murdered at the hands, or knee, of a white man?

.   I saw George dying, in front of all the world, murdered. Every fiber of my being cried out for action to save him, knock that cop off of him, hurt those who were hurting him, scream “STOP!!!!!” at the loudest volume my wind and stretching vocal cords could scream. I saw him die. I could see the actual moment the life left him, we all could. His killer’s arrogance galled me, I cried as if George was my own. Those awful, endless minutes are now emblazoned on my conscience, and the world’s. But George’s suffering was finally over, the pain had ended for him. His family’s pain goes on.

.    My daddy died unjustly, and it took years for my anger and pain to subside. But, then, I am white. And it wasn’t a police organization, or even a police man who killed him. For me it was a hospital, who killed him just as surely as if they kneeled on his neck. And he was a Sicilian man, very dark complected, 1st generation borne of immigrants to this country, but I suppose he will be considered a “white” man by history.

.   But the pain I felt is the same pain George’s loved one’s feel in this sense: there was death, it was not natural, there was injustice, and there is anger. I feel it now, these years later. I was righteously indignant, I loved my daddy more than any girl ever loved her daddy, ever in the whole world. Whole universe I thought. I never saw his flaws, he was a hero to me, and they murdered him, and someone had to pay. I had to make it right , for him. For his memory.

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Another Day in Paradise

.   They hated me at that hospital, I believed. They had been out to get him, because we were poor, and because everyone knows doctors and hospitals only want one thing, right? Money. And we all know that there are very baaaad people in the medical field, there is a long, very, very long history of distrust in the Sicilian immigrant community against the “establishment”. It carried down from tyranny and mafioso, in the “home” country, where my ancestors were murdered and enslaved and oppressed by terrible injustice. Not only was the regime murderous and corrupt, even the local officials were, requiring payoffs and inflicting gross injustice and physical pain on the poor people who were supposed to be under their care. They had no choice, starve, be murdered, or board ships of misery with their last pennies to try living in a beckoning land across the great sea.

.  My granparents had experienced the ghettos in New York when they arrived, cramped, dirty, unlit, no facilities, living in dark, dank, freezing, stinking tenant housing in their new country. Now, instead of their tropical isle, where they knew the enemy, there were new enemies to contend with. Such hatred, such predjudice, such injustice, such poverty. All these conditions shaped the mentality of generations, the distrust of the “system”, the lack of eqaulity, the oppression…

.   My father was an angry man. For as far back as I have memory, he was mad at what he perceived as injustice in government. In another age pehaps he would have been a radical, I dont know. But he worked so hard, all his life, had  access to more education than his parents ever had, served in the military and was able to move to Florida in his early 50’s. which had been his lifelong dream. He never stopped working, even then, and I had everything I needed as his kid, except love. But I adored and idolized him, to my mother’s dismay. When I became his sole caregiver, he was my child, and I determined to never let anything bad happen to him. For all the grief I had put him through in my life as an addict, now that I was sober I would appease his every whim, and ease his Dementia and Alzheimer’s. He was my reason for being, for except for my dear shih-tzu’s I had lost everyone in my family, and had no children.

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Always a Dapper Dad

.    I was a she-bear when it came to his care. Endless research, talking to pro’s and others  on caring for the elderly. But no matter what I promised him, no matter how good I cared for him, and no matter how totally committed I was in my devotion, I was not able to save him from being killed.

.   So, then. What can I say to the millions of traumatized, oppressed, angry people who are fighting right now? They will do what they believe they must, to find relief for their anger. But to the loved ones of a man who died unjustly, there is something I can say, even in my proverbial “whiteness”:  I am so, so sad for you.  I can relate. I can relate to the sickening feeling in your gut, that horrendous hot ball of lead where your heart used to be. I  remember the anger, the absolute bursting feeling of helplessness, the burning knowledge that this should never have happened to your child, your son, your daddy, your husband, your brother, your uncle, your nephew, your cousin, your dear, dear friend. Your Beloved.   

.   My pain was real… Your’s is all too real right now. I will never question your pain, or think I know what you should feel, or do. I never want to exaccerbate your suffering. everyone grieves in a different way, for different lengths of time, for different reasons. there is never a right or wrong way to grieve. I wish you peace, someday…healing…a lessening of this great burden you carry.

.   My anger  was only relieved by my learning the true reason for death, suffering and in justice. Knowing and believing in the the knowledge that God will soon do away with the true source of the evils we experience as humans. the tormenter of us down thru the ages, all the way back to the garden of Eden. The father of the lie, Satan.

God had an answer to Satan’s lie right there on the spot: Jesus Christ, God’s Only-Begotten Son and The King of God’s Kingdom would crush Satan and throw him and all his cohorts into the Abyss!! It will happen very soon, when God says it is time! Then the words of Revelation will come true!

Revelation 21:3-5 reads:

.  ” With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them , and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them.(4)And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”

(5) And the One seated on the throne said:”Look! I am making all things new.” Also he says:”Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

.   Such beautiful words…a beautiful dream, perhaps? No. A promised reality from our God who cannot lie, whose purposes always succeed, and whose prophecies always come true. I have a favorite scripture about the surety of all God’s promises coming true, maybe because I am a farmer at heart, who has always loved the rain.

.   This is in the Bible book of Isaiah, in Chapter 55, beginning in verse 8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” declares Jehovah. (9) “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (10) For just as the rain and snow pour down from heaven And do not return there until they saturate the earth, making it produce and sprout, Giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,(11) So my word that goes out of my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, But it will certainly accomplish whatever is my delight, and it will have sure success in what I send it to do.”

.   Yes, The Creator of the entire Universe has everything taken care of, he has told us that he will be the only Judge, and His Son will carry out his Judgement.  The Ride of the Four Horsemen is already well underway.  One day soon our dead loved ones will be resurrected and what joy there will be, when this earth is finally free of evil and we will live forever in peace.Artwork and Pictures 056

.  Please take the time to learn what the Bible says, I want you to have the peace of mind and heart that I finally found. It is not too late, my friend.