By His Stripes, I Am Healed
I was born into a family of alcoholics and generational incest molesters. Some of my family drank out of habit and others, it seemed, drank to survive.
My parents gave birth to seven children, with me being the third oldest. We lived with my grandmother who was known as what southerners call, “The bootlegger,” she sold liquor, and because of this, I was around it naturally growing up. While living with my grandparent’s, at about the age of six years old, I started to be molested by the last person most people would have thought of at the time: my biological father.
I never said anything about the things that he would do to me at the time because firstly, I was afraid. The cycle of abuse continued until I was about 12, long after we’d moved out from my grandparent’s house and into our own apartment. I can remember coming home from school daily, afraid because I knew my mother would be at work and my dad would be in the house, with a hangover. My daily routine would include starting dinner, cleaning and washing dishes. It was in doing the dishes that my father would come in the kitchen behind me to touch me. I finally got up enough courage to tell the adults in my life and I was discarded as not knowing what I was talking about and just making up things, so I had to deal with the molestation the best way I could. Luckily he never penetrated me, but it seemed he did everything else to demean me in pleasuring himself.
When I turned 14, I met my son’s father, and we built a friendship. I became so comfortable with him, I told him what had been going on at home with my father and he empathized with me and had me to move in with him and his family. Things seemed to be going well in the early moments. I ended up getting pregnant and having my son by the age of 15. When my son turned around 10 months old, because of his heavy drinking, my boyfriend, and later husband, started to become physically and emotionally abusive to both my son and I. At this time, I was still clean of alcohol and drugs, but I did start to smoke due to stress. A year later, at the age of 16, I’d gotten pregnant by my abuser again. He would beat on me so bad, I was unable to carry the baby to term and end up having a miscarriage. The cycle of abuse and the heavy drinking that had escalated had turned him from the loving young man into a completely unrecognizable monster, but I didn’t know how to get out. I ended up with a third child that lived for only a week before transitioning. The death of my daughter put me into a deep depression and caused me to break and start drinking, all at 17 years old.
Finally one evening, when I’d decided that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, I whispered to my son, “you go to school, and mamma gonna leave in the morning, and as soon as I find somewhere to stay, I’m going to come and get you.” I ensured him that I would come back for him. Sure enough, that morning, I left and instead of getting myself together as I’d initially intended, I started to drink heavily every day and party all night. Because I didn’t have anywhere stable to stay, I would prostitute to get money to support my addiction and a night or two with whoever would let me stay. This cycle lasted for years up until I was 21 and a car accident almost ended me life.
Because of the impact from the accident, I went through the windshield and was severely scarred. For weeks, I went through reconstructive surgery. Unfortunately, the accident wasn’t enough to stop me from drinking and being promiscuous. I even went back to my old abuser from time to time.
Eventually, I was finally able to establish a bit of stability and got my own apartment. The first thing I did when I’d gotten the apartment was to go back to my husband’s place to get my son, only to find that he had moved up North without any kind of notice, leaving the old place fully furnished with my stuff and no trace of where they actually were. About a year passed, is when my sister informed me that my son had been sent to foster care, because his father had been incarcerated for killing one of his other children and beating the others.
I left Georgia with intentions of getting my son back. Plans didn’t go as well as they were thought out in my head, because as soon as I met some friends, the party life took control of me again and I became drowned in it. I was able to visit him in the beginning, with a social worker bringing him to me, but my addiction didn’t display me as the best mother, as most of the time when they brought him, I was either sloppy drunk or completely hung over. These continuous scenes were certainly not helping my case of
getting my son back, so I did what else I thought best…..get into another relationship, with what turned out to be another abuser. Trying to cut this cycle as short as possible, I tried to commit suicide by cutting my wrist. Because of this I was put into a psychiatric facility. Me being hard headed, though, got in contact with the guy that was abusing me and he snuck me out so that we could be together. This time, I didn’t just take the abuse, I fought back. About a year later, I finally left him.
In 1983, I met a really nice guy, with only one hiccup: he was in the mafia. We quickly hit it off and soon, it was nothing for me to walk about with two grand in my pocket daily. He ended moved me to Tampa, Florida, leaving my son behind again. When we moved, he truly treated me like a queen, giving me absolutely anything I desired, but I still was not satisfied, because I was using.
I ended up catching the greyhound bus to Atlanta, with a pocket full of money and an allowance being sent by him to keep me happy. Eventually he came up to Atlanta searching for me, to no avail. I had some pretty good hiding spots in the neighborhood and when I didn’t want to be found, I wasn’t found. The mafia guy ended up running into my grandmother, who, long story short, ran him back to Tampa, Florida never to be seen again.
By 1996, I had started drinking a case a beer per day which led to me having blackouts. I also developed an addiction to smoking crack and shooting up cocaine. Speed-balling became a new way of life for me.
This new way of life had me waking up in abandoned buildings and beds sometimes fully dressed and sometimes not. Either way, I still woke up to money.
In 1999, I saw that I needed help by going to a program off Boulevard via outpatient treatment. By stopping drinking, I started feeling again. Through Community Friendship, I found that I actually had a mental disorder. I was placed in group homes for women and put on medication to deal with my diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Because I was feeling, I gravitated towards anger more-so than anything. I was angry at things that had happened in the past, not having my son, and taking what turned out to be the wrong medications that had me to gain weight upwards of 390 pounds.
Things started to look up as I got a lawyer to get disability benefits and I was still going to Community Friendship programs and I also remember continually going to church, but wasn’t getting anything out it, though I did pray on an ongoing basis.
My cousin enticed me to move to Forest Park with them. Sitting around with nothing to do, I ended up seeing an advertisement for Clayton Center around 2013 and went in for an assessment. I was placed in their adult day program and I remember opening up to Ms. Kenya who was the only one to ever get me to first start talking about my life. I was opening up more and more and even started to come to The Crane for their education program.
When my brother died of an overdose in 2009, I went back out drinking. I drank for about 12 months and got really sick. I found out that I had a liver disease and if I didn’t stop drinking, I would end up dead. Because I chose life, I tried to detox myself at home from alcohol which cause severe shaking and I felt like I was sinking into a black hole. It was at this moment, that I knew God reached down and pulled me back.
The last relationship I had, with a truck driver that ended up hurting me to the core with selfishness and infidelity. He broke me down but did not break me completely because I learned to love me for me.
Afterwards, I got back involved with my network and regained my life back. I started to go to conferences and networked with NAMI for speaking engagements. I even found out that my son had became a Veterinarian and he reached out to me via phone the day after mother’s day one year for the first time. One year after coming home from a conference, I was surprised by him waiting for me at the house. I was finally able to love on him and myself with a clean and sober mind and heart and plan on doing so from now on.