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

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.

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.