The Night Air

Life on the southern Gulf Coast of Florida is pleasant for a portion of the year, when on the subject of weather. When I moved to South Florida in the early ’80’s we enjoyed it most of the year, and the few hottest months were July thru September. Then the most refreshing, crisp and dry air would blow in and it would be blissful. Cool mornings, maybe a light sweater , warm afternoons in Tee Shirts and Tank tops, and shorts – always shorts. Then in mid-December thru the beginning of February, a cold snap, which in Florida means below 50.

In the first 20 years I lived on the east coast of Florida, in a “little” town called Port Saint Lucie, which no one had ever heard of. (It now has more people than West Palm Beach.) Anyway, that fact is only significant to this post in that the climate may have been a tiny bit different to where I live now. I did come over to this city fairly often, tho’, because my Grandparents lived here. When I did, it was always pretty much like what we had across the state. Bearable, enjoyable, habitable.

I spent about 10 years away during my marriage, but visited often enough to know that the summers seemed to be warmer, and the winters colder. I never thought much about it – everyone has air conditioners here, and I was young enough not to let the temperature effect me, one way or the other. But then I moved back to Florida, to PSL, in the late 90’s. We had never had a hurricane in that town, going back 50 years, then in 2004 we had 2, back to back, and suddenly we all were faced with the reality of climate change. Sure, I had been thru major Tropical Storms and Depressions, and many torrential rainfalls. I thought a hurricane was pretty exciting stuff…at first. Then I lived thru one.

The thing is, one can not really accurately convey the real experience of living thru a hurricane. You can get close to it, thru video footage these days. However, you only see a snippet. These things go on for 10, 12, 14 hours at full peak sometimes, when it hits dead on. You go mad with that squealling, screaming, demonic wind tearing at your dwelling. You think you are prepared as you hunker down with some snacks. You watch the progress of the storm on TV as it marches closer, and the rain begins, and a little knot of tension niggles in your tummy.

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Oh, it won’t be so bad, Dad says with a pat on your shoulder. Just a little blow… Then the power goes out and the hours go by in eerie flashlight glow, until you decide to conserve battery. As the wind starts to pick up more, you peer outside thru the hurricane shutters, and your nerves start to fray as you see your favorite hibiscus totally denuded, and your palm trees bending in impossible ways. More hours pass, the lack of AC has caused everyone to drip with sweat, and you must not open the fridge because all the food will spoil. Hopefully the coolers you filled with ice and provisions will last.

Then you try to sleep. But that wind, that screaming wind- you realize that other sound you hear is your shingles blowing off, and your neighbors shingles pelt you house like gunfire. A tree falls with a horrible crash onto the porch, but you are helpless. Mom is crying, the dog is frantic, the heat is sweltering, the noise is deafening. When will it end?

You doze for what seems like a second, than a horrible loud creaking begins. You realize with horror that its the roof starting to go, or the plywood giving way, or maybe the metal carport being ripped off and flying around like some nightmare vision of hell. You huddle closer, then decide its time to go into the saferoom, your tiny bathroom where you have already stashed a mattress. Dad shouts, Get Mum under there, and you pull her from where she clings and help her under the mattress. The dog won’t come, he’s run away, but you can’t look because you ,too, are terrified. Shoving in under the mattress you hold tight to your Mom while the wailing wind, like a banshee, rips away your new addition like matchsticks. Dad, you scream, but the wind rips your words away, you hear yourself praying, begging for the storm to end, for your Dad, your Mom, your dog to live….but it just keeps going. Finally Dad pushes his way thru the door in a burst, soaking wet, holding the dog, you can’t see but feel the fur and smell its hot breath. Then Dad, swearing presses in with you, and you all silently cling to each other as the hours slowly tick past.

Later, after the wind subsides, you all find places to sleep, couch, bed, recliner, sleeping and sweating and grateful. Until daylight comes. And you see the aftermath…

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?

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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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

.  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.

A Little Better/Thanks to Friends

I must not complain. I MUST NOT COMPLAIN. I MUST NOT COMPLAIN! I MUST NOT COMPLAIN!!!!!

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breathlessly blue

I hope I am getting better about that. When so many have, and are, suffering SO MUCH. I shudder to think how it must sound to people who had to say their last goodbye via cell phone. My own little issues are so insignificant in the face of the reality of Covid-19. I suppose I’m like the rest of humanity in the face of enormous grief, enormous death… all we can really see is our own little corner, our own miniscule lives…???????????????????????????????????????

.  That’s the thing that is SO remarkable to me about God. How can he love us so much? How can He care about a selfish little worm such as I. It is because He Is Love. Not “He has love.” Not “He feels love.”

.   He IS love. He IS LOVE.

.  Some people have been fed the lie that it is God who causes suffering. In reality, the Bible teaches that it is the evil one who caused death and suffering, by lying to the first human pair in the garden of Eden. That one caused them to die by his lie that they could eat the forbidden fruit and not die. “You surely will not die.”, he claimed.

” Then death spread to all men”

.  But God made a way out for us immediately. Immediately, right there in Eden. He spoke about Jesus, about how His Son would ultimately kill off the devil, do away with death forever, and by his willing sacrifice would give humans a way to forgiveness and a clean conscience before God.

. Even little worms like me! Isn’t that amazing. Yes. It really is.

.  So, don’t ever doubt God’s love, or that HE IS LOVE. He did not cause this pandemic, nor will he allow such things to continue forever. There will be an end to all human suffering very soon…you can count on it. Don’t give up, keep on seeking…

.   I will meditate on these things today, and stay upbuilt, and focus my mind on helping others…and I wish you all peace. We will give a great shout of praise to our God, all of us together, in the not too distant future…

We Are Going To Make It

Is anyone out there as old as I am? I grew up to the Mary Tyler Moore show, on every week as I recall. When I was 10 or so, she was beautiful to me, not just as a pretty woman (which she was and is, if she is still alive, is she?…)but as a woman in “the workplace”. I was too young to understand the dynamics of discrimination against women, I was buying into the whole “be a good girl, speak when you are spoken to” misogynist mantra.

That is where the slogan “We’re going to make it after all” first made me feel warm and fuzzy. My folks both worked long, hard hours to feed my brother and I. We saw them briefly each morning. Mom on her way to bed after all night at a local “old folks” hospital, and Dad on his way to the Speciality  Steel Mill. The only thing “special” about the steel mill that I could see was the fact that Dad was “‘specially”angry when he got home.

.  We didn’t want for anything that I ever knew, except that I never got designer jeans like my best friend, with the rich dad. No, my belly was full, and I was as happy as a chubby pre-teen with thick glasses and a mouth full of braces could be in the late 70’s. The only thing lacking was joy, any kind of joy, at home. Even “The Holidays”, when I still celebrated them, were joyless, because there was always disappointment lurking under the tree. Family gatherings were nice before I got old enough to feel the undercurrents of dislike and tension that flowed thru the affairs, like the lambrusco in the fancy glasses.

.  We are going to make it. After all.

.  I’m in the ” after all” phase of life now. And I have made it, thus far . All the family drama is distant history, now that my parents are dead they don’t fight as much.(chuckle). I have learned to live without them here, and I have gleefully learned to live without my abusive ex and now deceased husband. (No, I’m not gleeful at his being deceased.)

.  I have lived on my own for 4 years now, Dad died on 3/7/16, and Mom on 3/21/10. The grief did not stab me like a bayonet to the stomach this year, no, it was a dull, ongoing ache that I thought I didn’t feel, until this very moment. A heaviness inside my heart, a gray, damp blanket on my view. But I have made it, after all…

.  I want to share happy tidings, tho’, not the fear mongering that is flying all around the internet and all the airwaves. Yes, this Pandemic is a very, very bad thing. Many of our loved ones, friends and neighbors will get very sick, and many will die. More people will die than usually do in a “regular” time period. It will be very difficult to work, to shop, to meet with friends and family. However, we must endure these difficulties with a hopeful demeanor, and share our hope with  Everyone we can!!! We All need to support our fellow humans, and we CAN!!!!!

You may ask why, and I understand how hard it is not to have a pity party when one has no access to TP or Oreos. I am not immune to this situation, especially the Oreo thing. But as a person who has lived with chronic intractable pain all over my body for the last 20years, I do have experience with the power of positivity shared. This will be a HUGE HELP TO ALL OF US: BE UPBEAT AND POSITIVE WHEN SPEAKING TO OTHERS! DO NOT BOG OTHERS DOWN BY SHARING NEGATIVITY SUCH AS WHAT WE CAN’T DO, BUT FOCUS ON STEPS WE CAN TAKE. 

One thing we must do to help is STAY POSITIVE when we talk to others. Just as you would not talk to a Child about negative outcomes of a storm, we all, ALL need comfort from our fellow humans right now. Just as we would not want our Mom to be overly anxious about a situation, think of your friends and neighbors who are anxious also!

.   We want to help the people we love, and hopefully we want to help our fellow man who we don’t even know. I am going to work on this, and I already know it helps, because people who cared for me when I was incapacitated did it for me. And I made it thru to better days. Picture 346

. I hope you are doing well, that you can see the sky today, wherever you are. One thing that helps me so much is prayer because I know God is close to me when I pray to him in his Son, Jesus name. Reading the Bible books of Psalms and brings me peace, and talking on the phone to others about God’s promises soon to be fulfilled.  If I can just smile at someone, it lifts my mood and hopefully theirs as well. I send out my warm hugs and smiles to all of you.

.  We’re going to make it, after all!

Jehovah created a paradise...
frannie-pannie…

I Will Tell the Truth Now

I will make a huge effort to tell the truth. I always fluff things up, until I am not even sure what my truth is. My Dad was a SUPER Exaggerator , and an Embellisher of the highest order, and I hung on his every word. I could see others staring up at him, eyes widened with amazement, intaken breath ready to burst out at the first opportunity… Then the woosh of exhalations and nervous laughter, trying to hide their excitement , pretending to their girlfriends that they already knew what he was going to say. They would kind of nudge each other and tilt their head at Dad, like he was their trick pony. But he had them ALL wrapped around his little finger, they couldn’t wait for his next story to start. And neither could I.

I wanted to have people hanging on MY every word, I wanted to be the hero in MY stories, and I wanted my Dad to love me more than anyone else in my life. It just seemed that part of his over-the-top charism hinged on his elevated status in his own mind too. He never had time for me, for any of us kids, or even Mum. He revolved around his own Sun, and basked in His own glow.

We just floated past like tiny moons.

a rainy day…missing you.

When I finally realized how little truth he told, it was years later. I was a grown woman, and my life had taken a long, arduous detor into hard drugs, hatred and homelessness. I had tried to destroy myself in every way imaginable, and nearly succeeded in some instances. There was a gradual awakening to the fact that I could never run far or fast enough to leave my memories behind, nor could I continue to carry the loathing I felt for myself and keep living.

I loathed my Daddy too. It was all his fault , really. If he had just NOTICED me. Or spoken to me, besides “good morning” and a whack on the back as he passed by. Maybe then I would have turned out different. …No. It took all those years on the outside to teach me how to live. To learn that he was as broken as me. That everyone is broken, and that the act of living is an act of mercy. To allow ourselves to heal, honestly. Peel off the Ugly Sweaters of years of Selfishness and Isolation. Take off the Dirty Overcoats of Lonliness and Shame, Step out of the Heavy Combat Boots of Hatred and Self Harm, Skin off the Sweaty Tee Shirt that holds our Sadness in, and let our Hearts breathe.

Let my heart breathe again, let a little sunlight into my greyeyes greyskies. I’m telling you the truth, that I hated my own Daddy, that I LoVe him madly down to this day. I hated myself because I let myself down. I blamed myself for all the badness that found it’s way on top of me. I never told my Daddy that I was Hurt, that I had been raped, that I had been beaten like a dog. How could he know?

It was my burden to carry. You carry your own water…you carry your own water. I wish I could have told him back then. He was my hero. My broken hero. I didn’t know that Daddy’s could be broken too.

I wonder sometimes what will become of me, who can I be a hero to? I think God is telling me something, wait… Oh, yeah, He’s Right! You know what he reminded me? That He is my Father, He is my Hero, and He’s taking care of me right now, and I will be with my Daddy one day soon.

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

Re-Abused, Re-Raped, Re-Traumatized

I did something today that has me all twisted up inside like it just happened…And I thought I was SO far Over It, So Healed, So Strong, So SMART. All the years and years and years of therapy, and here I am again. Bruised, tattered, and lying on the cold floor of a dark green tent, somewhere in the woods near Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. I was a thirteen year old misfit of a girl, never had a real boyfriend, only been kissed once, a true virgin in the full sense, with a facefull of glasses and buck teeth…all I had wanted when I set out was a sleepover with my 2 best friends.

But here I was, in the wee hours of the next morning, dirty and snotty-faced from screaming and crying, bruised from the force of the 2 young men who had raped me, naked and bleeding with my underwear now flying from a tree near the bonfire. “the two young men”h Ha! Who am I kidding?  The animals, the dirty rotten dogs who stole my honor, and ruined me forever. From the shame of my friends seeing me, when they woke up and sobered up, and their stony rejection that claimed I had “stolen their boyfriends”, a rejection that lasted for years…to my father’s face when I was shoved out of the guys’ car at 7 am, when he saw my smeared face and smelled the stink of sex and Southern Comfort on me, his thirteen year old child, and when his face screwed into an ugly mask and uttered the searing, scorching words: “You’re disgusting…”and turned his back on me and slammed the door…

It all just came back, hitting me like a sledgehammer, when I looked up the rapists on Facebook, and saw found one of them, bald now and married for 25 or so “happy ” years… How dare they have happy , normal lives? I didn’t know I was still so angry, so scarred…

I will turn 55 tomorrow. I spent twenty 23 of those years as an Alcoholic and Drug Addict,Dealer, Thief , a violent, broken girl who never had a loving relationship with a man her whole adult life. Every single one was abusive, punching me, kicking me, choking, even stabbing me and shooting at me…(and that was the one I married!)

But, you know, I am someone those rapists can never claim to be. I am honest now, and clean, sober, forgiven, loved, and working hard on being whole. I am sorry for all my mistakes, and sorry for all the hurt I have caused. My God has forgiven me, by his Son’s Ransom Sacrifice. And now I will get my bearings back, I will take a deep breath, and let all that anger and shame go… I will pray for the  a calm heart and a healed mind, and I ask God to help me to help others get on the road to life… I may never be completely free of the flashbacks in this current world, but one day, when God makes this earth a paradise and does away with all wickedness, I will never think about these matters or feel that pain again.

Whew…

Oh Happy Day!

I am happy to say, I was able to get back into my blogs here at WordPress, after a lengthy absence. I was unable to remember my sign in information for the longest time, but finally I was able to get back here!!! My sister blog, Out of the Gutter Art, has been languishing also, even tho’ I have been furiously creating beautiful “Outsider” Art this whole time.

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

I have had many upheavals ans bumps in the road as far as my emotional well being is concerned, but with the help of God, the Ultimate Therapist, and my human therapist (who is stellar!) I have come through victorious! The triggers were many, as this is the month my Parents died, and it also houses both mine and my Mom’s birthdays. I am a JW now, so I don’t celebrate my birthday, but it still holds significance in my heart, a marking of the passage of this fragile life.

Now my associations to birthdays is a very negative one, as my Mom died on her birthday, March 21, which also heralds the first day of Spring. Also my Dad was well into the dying process at home with only me there beside him on my birthday 2 years ago. That was a horrible, horrible time, as he suffered much. In the days that seemed to drag on forever, I remember at one point whispering to him “please don’t die on my birthday Daddy…” This sounds to me now like a rather heartless and self centered request, but he understood my trauma, I believe, even in the midst of his own, and did not. Rather, he fought his last fight during the wee hours of the next morning, finally succumbing at 6:15 the next morning. What a long, dark night that was.Picture 012

I am finally not grieving the devastating sword thru my middle grief this year, but I anticipated the day with much apprehension and mental nail biting, as well as obsessive compulsive behavior, manic activity and lack of sleep. I am still feeling the effects, and most likely will have them build to a crescendo as March 21st approaches. Mom died in a less dramatic, but equally disturbing way, having to be taken to Hospice House rather than dying at home as she so desired, surrounded by her kitties. I have imprinted on my brain her sitting in her bed like a deflated teddy bear, whose sad eyes cut right thru me as she said, “Susie, I’m not ready…” However the cancer was by this point ravaging her brain, and I could not physically care for her at home.

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here I am after Mom had died, well into my Dad’s last years of Severe Dementia and Alzheimer’s. I was his, and Mom’s sole caregiver.

I had a fourteen day vigil beside her bed, singing, praying , reading the Bible to her and holding her hand. Finally at the point of total exhaustion and grief, I fell asleep beside her, and as I dreamed of happier times, she breathed her last. Ours was a bond stronger than death, and I so eagerly anticipate the day when they are  both called out of the memorial tombs in the grand resurrection , when I will run into their arms again.

This hope is made even more sure this month as  millions of humans around the globe, and me fulfill our obligation to mark the Memorial of Jesus Christ’ death, just as he commanded us to do at the last supper. On this occasion, just hours before his death, be broke bread an drank wine with his apostles, saying, “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.”

I praise Jehovah above for the undeserved kindness He has shown by providing the life of His perfect Son as a ransom for the sins of all mankind. By this loving act, every human on earth has the chance for living forever, without sickness, mourning, pain or death on a beautifully restored Earth. I raise my hands and my voice in praise to God, and thank him for his Son, My King and Savior, Jesus Christ!Picture 018

You can join the Witnesses all around the earth at sundown on March 31st , 2018 as we join in remembering the Greatest Gift Ever given. You can ask any of Jehovah’s Witnesses for an invitation, or directions, or any other questions you may have and they will joyfully tell you. Also, the website jw.org will tell you what you need to know!

So, despite all my challenges, and mental health issues, I can take comfort that one day soon I will be reunited with all my loved ones. I also am so grateful to God for forgiving my multitude of sins by way of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I hope someone else out there

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can find this comfort also!!!

Hello from a NEW Perspective!

I have been spinning my wheels today, trying for hours to get my blogs here on WordPress all straightened out. It is very difficult to keep settings and numbers straight in my head since I sustained that TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) in a fall in 2013. Along with all the other physical and Mental challenges I have, I just did not want to accept the fact that I have more struggles now. 0

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

It is amazing, however, that the life I have now with Jehovah helping me, no matter what the challenges may be, I am more content inside than ever before in my life! I used to wish I was younger, but when I look back the only real times of loving family memories are ones that I have created in my imagination. I had buried myself under so many layers of fantasy, that I believed I was happy in the World. Happy doing drugs, happy smoking stinking cigarettes. Happy letting people use me. Beautiful in my filth.more self portraits 028

But I cried every single day, I hated the way I looked, I never felt safe, I was always jealous and insecure…I wanted to die most of the time. But I was young and pretty, right? No, I was tired and sick and overly made up, and either starving cause I was doing speed or puking cause I thought I ate too much… So beautiful… Did you ever see a stung out 20 year old who has been awake for a week so wired that she can only drink beer to try to come down. Make up all smeared and clothes stinking from sweat and alcohol and cigarettes, in skiiiinnnn tight jeans that leave red imprints on her skin, and her hair all stringy? No, you never did?

Believe me, you don’t want to.  Nothing very attractive to see there. The eyes were the worst , though. I had dead eyes. No light, no twinkle, no shine of good health and vitality. No glow of clean living on my skin.  And fear was my constant companion, though he took many forms. Fear of Judgement, fear of running out of drugs or drink, running out of love, running out of gas, losing jobs, fear of having no money for bills, for food, for gas. fear of not being able to explain where I was , what I was doing, who I was with. I feel a knot forming in my gut now, as my fingers fly over the keyboard, like the dogs are behind me now, panting, jaws dripping teeth glistening, necks straining, moving in for the kill…

STOP! STOP THE MERRY GO ROUND!in a forest like this...

I breath a deep sigh as I write this, and I feel cool rain on my skin, a cool breeze wraps around me and the wretched image disappears. Like a steaming apparition, fading away into the night. No more to chain me down, no more to lure me into dense darkness with promises of belonging, promises of fame, promises of beauty. No, I have seen the errors of my past and I have

REPENTED, TURNED AROUND, HAD MY SINS BLOTTED OUT SO THAT THE HEALING LIGHT of HIS LOVE has HEALED ME…

For the longest time after I became a baptized servant of Jah, I hated my old self. I had to create a whole new persona for myself, strict and unflinching, upright and uptight. I never wanted to look the way I had in the past, it was as if I physically cut that person out of my life and off of me like a surgeon divides Siamese Twins. Just as I cut out my ex husband who hurt me so bad, and just as I cut all my old “friends” out of my life, I also cut myself off from the music I listened to, the tv shows I watched, the clothes I wore, and the books I read.

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striped reflection

 

Was this necessary? Did I have to be so stern, so strict? Yes, at that time I did. The break from my past had to be as sure and swift as beheading a chicken with a hatchet. Like Jesus said, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out! for it is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye then to be pitched into fiery Gehenna…”

This had to be the way for me, I was so determined to show Jehovah that I want to make Him happy, that I never, never wanted to go back to the way I was. And that is as it should be. But in my zeal, I was actually running away from myself. And I know that Jehovah does not hate me, but I hated that me. I hated her, and I blamed her for my “fall from grace”.  That person, that Me was evil, she was bad, rotten to the core. I never wanted to look at her or acknowledge her ever again. I spent the first ten years as a Witness trying to figure out who I was now, how should I look, act, speak, dress. And here was a big problem: How Should I Feel?

Any time I had bad thoughts I shut them down and cast them, out like throwing out the trash. But the self loathing would not go away, and I could not forgive myself for them. Even though I asked my true friends how they felt, and how they thought, and I tried very, very hard to mimic them, I felt cursed to always be bad. I even told people I felt like Pig Pen on Charlie Brown, carrying all the bad around me like a cloud of dirt. I blamed it all on that Me. And I was suffering.   Jehovah did not want me to feel this way, and I know now that I never have to feel that way again.

How did the situation resolve, you ask?  Let me explain…

I have been seeing a mental health professional ever since I quit using drugs and alcohol. The reason I began to was that I was still VERY depressed after being clean for a year and  when I sought help they diagnosed me as Bipolar. (more about that another day…)  On a therapy day, not long ago (maybe six months) Dave , my therapist noticed my loathing for the Me of the past. He was very intuitive and suggested a type of play acting. I had no idea what was about to happen. He placed the other chair in the room across from me, and had me turn my chair to face it. As I sat looking at the empty chair he asked me to visualize my old self.

“What does she look like?”, he asked.

“Well, she’s kind of pretty,” I saidM, “she’s got long dark hair, and a bunch of earrings, and tattoos.”

“What is she feeling?”, he asked quietly.

” I think she is very sad,” I repli ed, continuing,”She has the saddest eyes and I think she wants to die.”

“Tell her what you told me, Susan. That you hate her..”

“No! I don’t want her to know I said that!” I had tears running down my face…

” Well, what do you want to tell her?” he gently nodded at the empty chair.

As I sat there seeing old Me as clearly as I see this tablet, I began to talk to myself…

” hey there, don’t cry… You will be ok… I know you are scared right now, but God loves

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one day soon!

Picture 013you… I…I love you… poor girl.”     With  the tears just pouring down my face, he helped me to realize that old Me wasn’t evil, or someone I had to hate or shun… I did not have to cut myself in half anymore. I was seeing myself in a new light, as I would look on any other sick and sad individual who was beaten up and trodden down by Satan’s system of things.

This therapy tool had a profound and lasting effect on me, and I still can use it when I lose my focus and start berating myself for my sinful nature. Jehovah knows we are dust, as our Creator, he knows we want to be happy and He knows exactly what we need to live meaningful and purpose filled lives.

I am so grateful to be just me today, a whole person joyful serving God, under the rule of His Son, Jesus Christ, alongside millions of other faithful ones all around the world!