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…

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…

The SLOG of Joy

Grumble. Growl. Grunt.

.   Swear. Sweat. Stomp.

. Punch. Pound. Pant.

.  Breathe. Binge. Boss.

.  Shout. Scream, Smear.

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

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

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

This is where every. breath. matters.

.    DO YOU HEAR ME?

EVERY BREATH MATTERS.

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

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

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

A Psalm of My Own

Written after Fighting With Myself All NightWIN_20200720_06_43_02_Pro_LI (3)

.           Jehovah knows my suffering, hears my pleas each day

.          He knows the pain this madness brings, knows I’m made of clay

.          I thought I’d be forsaken, and all my hope was lost

.          I struggled to awaken, eternal darkness was the cost

.          But my God cares for me, He hears my cries and screams

.          He pulls me out of raging seas, makes pleasant peaceful dreams

.          How can I show my thankfulness, show Him my endless love?

.          I’ll walk with Him in faithfulness, Praise God in Heights above!

.          I will love my God whole-souled, pray, meditate and preach

.          No matter how lame, tired, sick or old, new sheep I will love and teach!

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Big Sky.(not my photo)

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?

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.

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.

The CLEAN Effect!

      Yessssssss….Deep inhale….Yessssss….

.  There is often some bright speck, a teeny-weeny glint, in the midst of devastation. Often this tiny glimmer of good goes unseen for years, decades, even centuries. I’m sure there have been major disasters where no bright side was ever found, the loss being only that. A loss. Losses. Deaths. Dying.

.  We could only see that, if we got tunnel vision with this Covid Pandemic. Only the disease, the fear, the grief, the bodies stacked up like cord wood. It could just open it’s huge great-white-shark-sized mouth with it’s blood-covered-razor-sharp giant teeth and swallow us whole. Then our lives will have ended, with a dark shroud of sadness enveloping our memory. Is this how you are feeling? Are you frightened?

.         It certainly is a normal reaction to this situation. But there IS a silver lining… Have you heard about the animals? They are coming out of the woods, out of the forests, out of the bushes, out of the darkest recesses and back into the sunlight! With humans staying quiet, staying out of their cars, letting the Earth rest from it’s gasping, the animals are out!!! It thrills me, it brings joy to my weary heart to see images of river otters playing in a grassy median, rolling and romping, and laughing!(I’m sure they are laughing, they have to be!)

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My Izzy, 2005-2017

.  I see cardinals again , and osprey flying low. I hear owls, and see ‘coons and possum. Oh, I know, I’m talking about “less desirable”wildlife, but let me tell you, it fills my heart near to bursting. As a child I would read “Born Free”and Miss Anderson’s Cheetah stories, gobbling up the word images of animals running free across African Savannahs. I dreamed nightly about my wild Stallion that I would ride someday, and about Bambi becoming a Stag.WIN_20191128_03_49_42_Pro (2)

.  My Mom’s Bible Study books had images of happy people hugging lions and petting tigers, and I physically yearned for those images to come true. As I learned about God and thought about His love in creating puppies and kittens, I found Bible passages that promised a paradise one day. And as the years have past my faith has become brighter, and the day for me to hug a white tiger, or play with a wolf pup has gotten closer ,too.Picture 005

.  Yes, there is much sadness, sickness and death. There is injustice and corruption and pollution. And , sadly, there are worse things to come in the future, no matter where you live on this planet. But it all is bringing us closer each day to God’s fulfilled promises, such as the end of wickedness, pain, crime and hatred. To days of joyful work for humans, building houses, planting gardens. Many people think that God is causing this horrible pandemic, and that He is a God who throws people into Firey Hell.

.  I have studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses for many years, and was baptized in 2003…but I had many things that I changed, only with God’s help. I was a  full blown drug addict and alcoholic for 23 years, beginning at age 13. I only knew abusive and violent relationships, having my nose broken twice, being tied to a tree, stabbed and shot at, being choked unconscious more than once, and more. All this by my own husband. By the time I was 33, I looked like a 50 year old, and I felt 100. I had so many health problems, pain was my constant companion and still is. I smoked Crack, Pot, snorted coke, meth and used drugs intravenously for years. I drank my first beer most days by 9am, and lit my first cigarette before my eyes were open in the morning. I now have PTSD, and COPD. I had Hep C . I was dying and wished I was dead. Finally, before my husband killed me, he was arrested by the ATF and was convicted as a habitual offender, 15 years to life.Picture 419

.  Oh, how I cried. I thought my world had ended. I really went wild. He wanted me to work with the law to get his sentence reduced, I thought ATF agents were behind every tree. I refused to work with the Feds, because I thought I was smarter than them. I hooked up with a member of a MC club, and planned to tell the FBI about it… After all the humiliation and abuse they told me they would never use any info I gave them…I wanted to die… But I didn’t.

.  I called my Mom, and begged to come home. She let me. I was the proverbial daughter. Near death and bankrupt in every way I moved back to my parent’s house.

Lots of things happened that I could go on about. Bad things. And worse things.

.  But there was a glimmer, a glint of good in all that mire I was in…

.  I got on my knees before I took the last step to suicide, and I begged, pleaded, beseeched, cried and screamed my anguish and remorse out to God.

.  He heard. And He helped.

. I was able to get clean and sober, 21 years ago this September. I quit smoking the next year. And then, after calling God my “Higher Power”in AA for another year I learned that God , Jehovah God, could and would and did forgive me.

.  Yesssssss….deep inhale…..Yessssss!!!

.    You can feel this forgiveness too. I hope you do. Then I can meet you, in paradise on earth when all this badness is finished, for good.

(if you want to learn like I did, JW.org is where to go… You’ll  be able to read and study the Bible, watch videos and learn precious truths…and you will learn how God sent His Son, Jesus to sacrifice his life for ALL humans…yep, me…and YOU TOO !!!)