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

Built Up in Love

…Know that you are loved…

I just attended one of my meetings on Zoom, for Worship. It amazes me how much these 2 meetings per week have become my greatest source of comfort, by seeing all my loving friends. It’s wonderful to feel the warmth-it even comes in loud and clear thru the computer!!

Isolation can be a killer for the mentally ill. There have been times when the only thing pinning me to this fabric of life was contact with another human being. The worst part of being so deeply depressed and out of hope, for me as a Bipolar person who used to have suicidal ideations, was that all I could see, ALL I COULD SEE, was the abyss. I had absolutely no ability on my own at that point to make a decision to reach out of the blackness for help. When you are in the dark, it is difficult to see a friend. The emptyness seems to stretch endlessly away, I had no thought of how I would hurt my loved ones.

I thank my God that someone saw my despair, and made a move, even though I said I was fine. Over and over and over…I would paste on a smile, because we of the depressed masses are SO GOOD AT ACTING, and repeat the phrase, “Oh no, I’m really fine, just a little tired…”, or “Nothings wrong, seriously, I’m fine.” Especially as a teen, I knew just how to shut my Mom down with a roll of my eyes and an exaggerated sigh of frustration. A slammed door worked well too.

At the time in my life when I was suicidal, I was not yet diagnosed with any mental illness. I was a teenager, had been sexually abused routinely, had been drinking and taking drugs for years, and felt so sick inside, mainly with self-loathing. Up to that point, say around age 13, I was starving for love and attention at home. I know now that it was largely in part due to my parents’ exhaustion at working constantly. But there was more. My Dad was tired, constantly, and angry, and he was very grouchy. I was SO sensitive that every word he said was rejection. I was not at all at fault, but I was acting out my need for love in promiscuity. Of course , having been sexually abused by trusted adults beginning at age 8, I’m sure I needed serious counselling even that early, but those were the years before it was ok to talk about such things.

I had many experiences where I heard my best friend and I being blamed for causing the abuse, even at the ages of 8 and 9, by the abusers co-conspiring wife, in the courtroom!!!! Also, the old-fashioned Protestant attitudes exhibited by Grandparents and Aunts and other family members told me in no uncertain terms that these abuses were never to be mentioned again. Nice girls didn’t talk about such things! Nobody will ever want to marry you!! You are “spoiled”now!!

These lies and the ensuing actions of not being cuddled, or hugged, or even being allowed to accompany my beloved little cousin to gymnastics class seared my little heart and mind. How does a child process rejection? She doesn’t know that her family is perpetuating the trauma, or that they are sick too, or just plain mean. She believes the lie that she is unlovable . Imagine for a minute: An eight year old believing it is HER FAULT that she was violated . That Daddy and Grandma don’t love her anymore…

Sin’s Web ©STMartin

So clear to me now, how wrong they were. And it also so WONDERFUL THAT I understand now. I hope so much that someone out there sees this who has a loved in a similar situation, and reaches out to the child, or teenager, or adult…Tell them IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT !!! You are LOVED, AND CHERISHED, AND NOT TO BLAME!!!

The circumstances that the abuse happened under were not caused by you. You absolutely DID NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN, NOR DID YOU MAKE THIS HAPPEN!! Repeat these truths over and over, until you can truly believe them. You must try, even though it may seem to be the hardest thing in the world, to find someone safe to talk to. For me, this was a Doctor at the emergency room, where I wound up after jumping out of a moving car. He really cared, even though I refused to talk initially. He did not judge me, or act shocked, or even run and get my Mom. Today, after years of treating sexual assault the fault of the victim, I would hope that ALL Doctors would give help and comfort to assault victims. This most likely is not the case, so don’t give up in seeking help. There are suicide prevention hotlines you can call, also 911 and 211 in the US. In the front of the phone book, if they still make these, there are lists of helpful organization, also safe places to go.

I know how hard it is to reach out, but you can do it. If you don’t feel up to talking to a human, there is still the BEST FRIEND you will ever have, who you can talk to, Anytime, Anywhere, out loud, or silently from your hurting heart… This person is God. Jehovah is his name, and he is Jesus’ Father. He knows you are hurting, and he wants you to call on him…

I did not believe that God could love me, and I suffered on my own for 20 more years. You don’t have to suffer that long!

Psalm 34:18 says, ” Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 94:19 reads,”When anxieties overwhelmed me, you comforted and soothed me.”

Psalm 27:10 also says, “Even if my own father and mother abandon me, Jehovah himself will take me in.”

For me, praying to God has been my lifeline. Even though I live alone now, I know He hears my prayers anytime and every time. I say, “in Jesus name.”at the end of all my prayers because Jesus tells us at John 14:6 , “No one comes to the Father except thru me.” Thus is because God made Jesus High Priest and God requires that we acknowledge this when we pray! So Jesus also states this truth in the Bible at John 16:3,

” If you ask the Father for anything, he will give it to you in my name.”

One of my favorite verses in the Bible offers me so much insight into God’s love for us . It is in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes I will help you, I will really hold onto you with my right hand of righteousness.”

I hope this brings you comfort and hope. Know that you are loved…

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.

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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)

SUSAN IS HERE! NEVER FEAR!!!

…there is no “wait until” time to be beautiful…

Everyone want’s to be pretty, or beautiful, I think. I know I was obsessed with the thought my whole life, and deprived myself of much happiness for what I thought was a severe lack of it. I had no sense of my own “looks” till about 8 or so, my parents told me I was pretty before that, and my Sicilian Grandma would pinch my cheek and say , “Bella, bella!!”

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Baby me in my favorite coat

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

Then, one summer day, my Mom decided to enter me in a local child’s beauty contest…She started by fussing with my hair. I was busy digging up bugs or something in the yard, so her newfound interest in me was a bit unsettling. I was an obedient child, so I let her fuss and fiddle. I remember it being spring, and the yard was full of bird’s chirping and golden light. Mom was in a good mood initially, then she asked me to sit a certain way on the back porch, and she whipped out a camera. Well, that seemed fine, and I asked her what the occasion was. Oooh, a little contest, and you are going to win! This made me more agreeable, initially.flower girl Susiejpg_LI

.  The session took quite a while, and Mom wasn’t satisfied with the efforts, so we kept pressing on. I think I must have gotten too fussy, because I don’t have any warm fuzzy feelings attached to this memory. I just know we got thru it somehow, and I went back to my scientific bug experiments.

Weeks passed, then excitedly the local gazzette prints the photos for review. All the other girls had their hair in pigtails with ribbons, lacy ruffled collars, some even had little dot earrings, or a pretty necklace. We raced thru the names to my photo…oh…my photo. Here was a ‘new’ look! With half of my little face in shadow, you could see right away that Mom hadn’t had the right lighting. Or maybe it was the bipolar side showing up even then!!! More than that, though, I was wearing just my favorite tee shirt, and my short “pageboy” haircut was in stark contrast to the other, pretty, girls. No necklace, no cute little dot earrings. And no prize.WIN_20200710_02_13_14_Pro_LI (4)…Sigh… Mom was more upset than I was initially, I had never compared myself to other girls before that, as I recall. I do remember Dad criticizing her photo-taking ability, as he conitinued to do for the rest of her life, and thereafter for a good portion of mine(till his death!). There were rumblings inside the jealous side of my psyche, the newspaper had it all there in black and white : Susie is different. You would think that would be a good thing for a little tomboy like me, but I did not like the way it felt.

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The Way I See Sue©STMartin

.  And I really hated having my photo taken, for a long time since. But now that I am past childhood, even the one that lasted till I was 40 or so, and now that I have a wonderful electronic device to photograph myself, I like to. From time to time I get really down on myself, and I am afraid I may turn into my Mom, who would gaze at herself in the mirror and say, “I’m so ugly.”  When I found her doing that it made me cry , for her, and get angry, for me, because I am her identical twin!!!  We are all beautiful.

.  Make sure you hear me: we are all beautiful. All of us, all the time.

There is no “wait until” time to be beautiful…until I lose weight, until I get a tan, until I grow up, until I get some body changing, unnatural surgical procedure. And you don’t lose your beauty when you age, either, so don’t fall in that rut. Or try not to.

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My New Braveheart Girl Hairdo (remember Mel Gibson’s Mullet?)

.  Be gentle in your assessment of your appearance, don’t judge yourself by peering at your reflection from 2 inches away. Everybody has enlarged pores from that distance! And scars? Honey, I have scars if you wan’t to compare them sometime. From acne, to road rash due to jumping out of a moving car, to adult chicken pox that were even in my mouth and on my bottom as a 40 year old….to all my surgery scars and beatings I received, chipped teeth and all, even the scar where my husband stabbed me, or the ones on my neck when he strangled me unconscious. Yes, I have scars.But it is really true: What is on the outside is of no importance. Some may say, that’s easy to say if you are beautiful, but what if you are disfigured? I watch alot of documentaries, and one of the recent ones was about the Young woman some years ago who had her face torn off by her friend’s pet chimpanzee. This woman was nearly dead when help arrivived, and her story is a traumatic one.

.  But her daughter just says it all when she says that she used to not believe those sayings that “what is on the inside is what makes someone beautiful”, until she was with her Mom again after the accident. Her Mom is so beautiful, without a face, or hands, her inner strength and love prove the old saying true. If you are strong and can watch stories like that she really is an amazing and wonderful example to all.

.  So, finally, when I was bumming out on my looks the other day, I kicked myself off the couch, put on some colorful makeup and clothes and had a silly photo shoot. It really was nice, in this isolation, to just have a play day. And the fun wasn’t over after the pictures were taken, then I had more fun editing them until I really thought , ” I amWIN_20200710_02_12_37_Pro_LI (3) pretty!”

P.S. I did mention the make-up and photo-editing, didn’t I?

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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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.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

What this means to me :

I hope that it means that some where, in this great big world, a child won’t be violated tonight…because someone talked to a parent, a trusted adult, a mental health professional, a trusted member of law enforcement, a dear friend, and told them what had happened. And that the child in need was protected, held fast and kept safe, warm, and loved.

I hope that this year a young person remembers the warnings their elders give them about safety, about drinking, drugging and having sex, about going out with strangers, or getting into dangerous situations. That by remembering he/she sees the warning signs, feels the prickle of fear and runs home just as fast as their legs can carry them. I hope they tell their friends to leave too, to be brave enough NOT TO CARE WHAT THEIR FRIENDS THINK!  (I can tell you that, for me, those friends sided with my abusers the next day, and I was all alone in my shame and embarrassment and pain. My girlfriends laughed right along with the men at my torn undies hanging from a tree branch… )

Be AWARE !!!  BE aware of your surroundings, be aware of where the streetlights are, be aware and stay away from dark alleys, dense shrubbery and people who make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t tell yourself that you are just “being silly”.  I never thought ill of anyone when I was a kid,  I liked to be around older guys, and I thought they liked me…I never thought that I could be the one they raped- The other girls were pretty, and “sexy”.  I never thought a couple beers could hurt, or some weed-a few tokes, right? I was no match for an adults strength, especially not with my guard down and buzzed.

What I want you to know is that if I could turn back time, I would listen to people who told me to take care, but I know this is such a tough world. We get lonely, we want to grow up so we can have “fun”, and no one at home seems to give us attention. That’s how I felt. All my friends had “boyfriends”, they all had “boobs”, they giggled at all the boys. And my folks were always working, or sleeping or watching t.v. I couldn’t wait to hit the night air, pull my jean jacket on and take a long swig out of a bottle…

My life changed forever. I see kids I knew with beautiful families, homes, and feeling good about themselves…I have spent the last 45 years recovering , healing my broken mind, my beaten body, and my crushed spirit… Please, please be aware that these things can happen.

My heart breaks for the families of children who just made that one error in judgement, never to be the same again.

If my experience could just get one person to think for a second before making a decision, then please, take it to heart. I am truly grateful to have survived the violence, God has seen fit to use me today. I hope you can draw close to Him too. He will never hurt or abandon you.

If something ever does happen to you, please find someone to talk to who can help. A rape/crisis center, or hotline can let you be anonymous if you want to. Please don’t carry it around inside. For me it just hurt too bad to keep in. But when I let it out and got help, I began a wonderful healing journey!

I wish you love, and peace tonight. Just be aware.Resized952019040395161126957622Resized952019040395155335959016

VERTIGO, INSOMNIA and PAIN (oh, my!)

Cant wake up. I feel like I am sick inside, hot and cold, sticky and uncomfortable one minute , all dry and freezing the next. I feel like I’m going thru withdrawals, and twitchy, jerky-but from what?!? I feel that it is the Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo that I have endured since a series of concussions in 2013…BPPV is a type of vertigo from crystals in your inner ear becoming dislodged from a blow or hit on the head, and generally rights itself after 1 Epley Maneuver, which a trained pt performs.

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This is Sooo frustrating, because I don’t have a pt here, and the condition makes me so discombobulated and groggy that I can hardly go anywhere!So I have attempted the maneuver 4 times on my own, with no success it seems, and keep falling asleep everywhere I sit down. The other wrinkle to Post Concussion and TBI cases like mine, is the head injury caused a short-circuit from brain to diaphragm, so when my shuts down for sleep mode, I quit breathing. “Sleep Apnea!”, you exclaim, brandishing a Bi-pap and  Mask… (oh, I just want to interject that I have had brief BPPV free days when my excelkent PT Tom helped me for 2 years… he would do the maneuver when needed and I balance trained and did exerciwes regularly)

So, going back to the CENTRAL Apnea, I have been sleep studied a second time since moving here, and had my poor septum done again, and the Nose Guy (ent) who performed the surgey said, “If you cant breath thru this nose then I dont know what else to do for ya!”

He checked out my sleep settings on my machine, said they were fine and sent me on my way with a script for little nasal pillows instead of the “Alien” mask I wear now.

Insurance doesnt pay, etc, etc So I go to bed, fight with the Mask until I’m finally exhausted and angry, then I drift for 20 minutes before ripping the parasitic thing off my face , flinging it wildly across the room, knocking my water off onto my med box…This causes me to rise up like a crazed Mama Kodiak, comforter flying like a war hero’s cape, kicking my medicine box across  imaginary goal posts, with different colored pastel tablets raining down, as if confetti!

After this nightly comedy of errors and arrows, I give up and decide to paint faux chintz wallpaper onto my bedroom walls. At 4AM.

Is it any wonder I am tired all day?

Oh, the truly funny part is that I went to bed at 7pm. so that I could be alert and well rested today!!