Why I had to:
Hatred can eat you alive. Trust me on this, you do NOT want to carry it around for thirty years like I did, it is poison. I watched my Mom wither under the weight of the loathing she had for my Dad, fifty years of resentment and anger all twisted up inside. And he was just as bad, in a different way; vindictive and cruel to her, and sometimes to my brother and I, but always to Mom. Is it any wonder I grew up filled with the black death of it?
It fuelled my young life, after the years of blissful ignorance that comes with kindergarten times. No, hatred was to force its way into me, at the hands of an abuser. The funny thing was (not that sexual assault is ever funny, it’s a figure of speech) , to the adults in my world there was blame to be settled on my eight- year-old head. I was so confused by the abuse, because the offender was a trusted adult, that I wasn’t filled with hate towards him. It was all so overwhelming, and my best friend and I were swallowed up and spit out by the Justice system at that time. Childhood sexual assault wasn’t treated the way it is today back in the early 70’s. We had to tell the judge and the entire courtroom what was done to us, detail by detail; the abuse was over the course of a year, so there was a lot to tell. The judge kept making me repeat things and go into more detail, ” COULD YOU SPEAK UP PLEASE?”
(My friend was so traumatized that she couldn’t come back the second day, so it felt like a white hot light shining down on my eight-year-old head. The abusers wife decided to add to my torture by announcing to the audience that we were little whores who enticed the old codger. )
I digress. I learned to hate thru this experience. Not only the bad people, but myself. My Grandmother let me know that “nice girls” never talked about these things ever, and if I wanted to get married someday I would never, no NEVER, mention it again. My Mom blamed my Dad, and my friends parents, and was angry at herself for never having “The Talk” with me yet.
The Hatred grew, I started to use drugs, I drank, I stayed out late, my grades failed. It was all MY Fault, and the reason no one loved me was because I was faulty somehow. I lost my virginity to rape- that was my fault to, I belived. Circumstances were such that my friends abandoned me after this, my Dad told me I was disgusting when I got home at 3am with sticks and grass in my hair, so I never told anyone. I hated myself so much, I deliberately did more and more shocking things. It must be true, I thought, I am disgusting! I tried to end my life before I even graduated high school.
At 17, I not only hated myself, I hated authority, my parents, men, my old friends, school and disco. Everybody hated disco, didn’t they? I was angry with my big brother for disliking me and the company I kept. My Mom took me for an abortion at age 15 when my “boyfriend” abandoned me; I never really understood that it had been a wonderful, tiny life inside of me. It came back to haunt me after 2 years, when I saw friends at school bring their babies. This was the FIRST TIME that was been done in that area. I became suicidal, I started hitting things, kicking things till I broke my toes, bloodied my knuckles. There was no one talking about Bipolar Disorder in those days.
I just kept spiralling downward. After jumping out of a moving car I was placed in a locked adolescent ward of a Psychiatric Hospital. I was able to talk about the awful things for 30 days, but no real diagnosis, just depressed, they said.
Flash forward to moving to Florida at 20 with my parents. New beginnings, same old song. I kept losing my sobriety, using cocaine big time. It was ‘snowing’ all over Florida in the early 80’s. Then I met an ex-Marine named Ricky. He was the first to really beat me. That was fine, I deserved it. That’s what he told me, so it must be true. It was always something I did, something I said. Then we found rock. ‘Crack’. Now I really had reason to intensely dislike myself. I stole from every member of my family, including stealing my deceased Grandfather’s gold teeth, stolen from my Grandma’s jewelry box. My own Grandma and Grandpa. Yep.
Well, that wasn’t even the bottom. There were 15 years of addiction, abuse, crime, alcoholism, jail and agony yet to go. Not to mention the pain and trauma I put my Mom thru. I would travel up the east coast, across the country to the west coast, become homeless, rob the store I worked in, live with train tramps, hop freight trains, be ‘held hostage’ by Mormons, pretend to be a lawyer for said Mormons, live in the Sonoran Desert, travel back to Florida, marry a habitual offender, have my nose broken twice, my jaw once, get pneumonia 3x, become a pot dealer, then a coke dealer, a drug runner and a co-conspirator to my husband’s crimes, try to infiltrate a motorcycle club on my own and lose everything at least 3 times . Oh, and get snake bit twice, once by a pygmy rattlesnake, once by a copperhead, both times drunk. These are only the things I remember…
It all added up to one very sad, very angry, very sick person who could not stand to look herself in the mirror. The self-hatred and self-abuse led me to the darkest place I had ever been. Everything I ever tried failed. I hurt everyone who ever loved me, and I could not stand it one more day. I tried to overdose on a cold night in September 1999. I couldn’t even do that right it seemed. I was shooting up in my parents’ house, they let me come home after my husband went to federal prison. I promised myself that I would never jeopardize my Dad’s business. But I’d been allowing a coke dealer to do business in the place in exchange for an 8 ball every couple days. (An 8-ball is an eigth ounce of cocaine) I told him I quit that night, but he left me a package anyway. So I knew it was over. I did what I said I wouldn’t do. I’d been in and out of AA and NA so often they called me the “white chip queen’; I just couldn’t do it, I believed. The only way was to ‘ride the lightning’-give myself a hot shot.
I loaded the syringe, and gathered my nerves. With tears running down my face, I apologized to God and everyone, and then…
…then I saw this image if a candle in my mind’s eye, with the tiniest flame I had ever seen, the wind was blowing and it was flickering-it would go out any second…then suddenly I realized that I was being shown my life, just about to blow out like that candle… I put the needle down and got on my knees, and prayed to God to help me….
I know, you are sceptical, and that is ok, I don’t know if it was my imagination or what. But I got up and called a friend, took the dope and headed over to his house. The trouble was, he was clean and sober. Or maybe that there is the miracle. Because he convinced my to dump out the drugs and go to a 12 step meeting when morning came. I did this, and amazingly have been clean and sober till this day, 21 years later! Twenty two in September…
But it still took a wee bit longer to forgive myself. As the years passed I still didn’t feel happy, I cried all the time. I finally got a proper diagnosis and a medication regimen that works for my Bipolar Disorder. I have PTSD from all the physical trauma and abuse, but I have coping tools today. I have a therapist who understands my pain and guides me thru the darkness when it comes. But the best medicine I ever found is the forgiveness God gives thru the Sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. By learning about this and about God’s will, and dedicating my life to God, I have experienced the greatest gift ever: The free gift of a cleansed conscience, of forgiveness from all my past sins.
So you see, I just Had to learn to forgive myself, otherwise I would be claiming that I know better than my God!! It is not easy though, sometimes my old thinking creeps back in and I feel that old discouragement. I have to stay on top of things and pray, follow the Bible’s counsel and reach out to my support network. Knowing that my Creator loves me is the greatest high I have ever experienced.
I am truly grateful for my life today.