Another Bad Memory Triggered

Spending holidays alone sucks, but like a lot of people, there have been times not dealing with family issues makes it better. Unlike most children, I dreaded the holidays most of the time, because they were so unpleasant. Here is an excerpt from chapter six of my book, Unheard:

The longer the holiday vacation, the more I dread it. For at least two weeks each December, a half of a week in November, plus a week during the spring, while everyone else looks forward to going on vacations, hanging out with friends, and having fun, I feel as if I am the only kid in the world wishing that I am still in school.

Before Marcus came along, I enjoyed the holidays. But with him around, there is sure to be an argument or other miserable time, listening to him complain and snark about everything, especially anything I do. It also means he drinks more. There are no parties, no friends, and no true laughter except to ridicule others. The only family gatherings I look forward to are at Gramma and Papa’s because it is the only time that I feel safe from Marcus’s barking at my every little move.

Another excerpt:

Sometimes holidays seem like they are going fine until Marcus says something to destroy the joy.

“Are you going to see your dad today?” Rose asks.

“Yes, I’m going to see Daddy and my other grandma later,” I tell her.

“Daddeeee,” Marcus mocks me in a snobbish, nasally tone, while he and his stupid stinky father and brothers laugh, as if I can’t hear them.

“Daddy buys her whatever she wants,” Marcus tells everyone.

That isn’t true at all. The truth is that Daddy buys me things for Christmas or my birthday that I need, like new shoes for church or a bicycle to ride to school. Just because he gives me nice things from the store instead of from the garbage doesn’t mean I’m spoiled. Marcus mocks me and says mean things about my Daddy because he knows it makes me furious. He does it at home when no one else is listening. He enjoys taunting me because I am his only witness, and he gets away with it because no one does anything about it. If I get mad or react, he calls me a brat and finds a way to punish me. I know he does it on purpose, but there is nothing I can do about it. He is sneaky.

Growing up, smaller holidays such as Labor Day and Independence Day, were just as bad, because it usually meant more drinking and more fighting and chaos, and for whatever stupid reason, I’d up getting punished somehow. So as an adult, I want to enjoy whatever I can to make up for it, and my family does not get together on these holidays at all.

Two years ago on the Fourth of July, I enjoyed myself by spending the day kayaking and watching fireworks – alone. While I really wished I had someone to share my day with, I tried to make the best of it. Last year on the same day, I was invited on a boat with a group of people, most of which I didn’t know. As a water lover, I jumped at the chance, because I rarely get to go boating. (It was also the last time I’ve been on a boat.) I attempted to enjoy myself as much as possible but ended up dealing with some miserable Mean Girls, then I met up with Biker Guy (we had met around that time) at a waterfront bar for drinks and fireworks.

This year due to Covid restrictions, most people I know made no plans, and city firework displays were canceled. However, people had private sky shows, which were really nice, and I sat at a beachside park by myself to view them, again wishing I had someone special with me while I watched families and couples around me enjoying their time together. (It’s a very odd feeling to be in public on a day like that when you’re alone, but it reminds you of who and what matters in your life.)

Once I’d learned the truth about how Biker Guy spent his evening without me this year, it
added to every shitty holiday I’d ever had. Again, I felt as if I was being “punished” for something I wasn’t even sure I’d done. I couldn’t wrap my head around any of it, and I still can’t, because he has no excuse for what he did. Although he apologized, I’m unsure as to how sincere it was in the beginning, and he can’t even explain his own actions.

To be continued…

Owning Your Power & Healing

Owning your power can be a scary process, because oftentimes we don’t understand just how powerful we are.

“Enough is enough,” I told myself one day. I had to teach myself that no matter what, I must refuse relationships that are no longer beneficial to my spiritual well being – even if it means excluding family members and outdated friends.

Being raised in a controlling and manipulative environment, I had learned that I had no power. My power belonged to someone else. If I knew in my heart that something was the color blue, I was told that it was red, and I was forced to acknowledge that it was red even against my own honor. The environment would then be manipulated enough so that things would appear red, and then I would question my own sanity and doubt myself. This type of behavior followed me into adulthood, and it caused many issues in relationships and other situations. I doubted myself many times when I should not have. I didn’t trust myself, and I didn’t trust my own instincts, and I found myself in many, many abusive situations that caused much heartache.

It was a learned behavior, but I was determined to unlearn it all in order to become the person that I was meant to be and to heal once and for all. What has been ingrained in your life over several years can sometimes take several more years to unlearn. Years of therapy and self-help books and seminars are a good start, but most importantly, the support received from those around us is the foundation of our healing system. Finding the right “family”, so to speak, is where self-healing truly begins. Acknowledging our power and practicing using it goes right along with that first step. Knowing that we can change our own lives by using that power is a freedom that we all deserve.

However, there are other obstacles to overcome in the process. Once I reclaimed my power, those that I had released from my life didn’t take kindly to it. They provoked, prodded, accused, blamed, and hurled insults at me. I became their dartboard for all of their own problems because I chose to step away and refuse to tolerate their abusive behavior. I was tested time and time again with the same types of people and situations until I learned not to react, which is a very difficult lesson to learn. It was then that I was finally no longer a part of that wicked cycle of drama.

During my own personal process of reclaiming my power, a new friend with an old soul confided in me about her own similar situation. “When one person changes her behavior, the others that are a part of the group get upset because now they must also change. And no one likes change!” she told me. Her truth resonated in me and helped me to see my own situation in a bigger perspective.

After a few years, some of these people finally started to understand my position, because they were forced to change as well. That’s when relationships began to heal, and my power became stronger, because then I realized it was respected. Owning my power is still a process, because unlearning something isn’t overnight or even a few weeks. It can sometimes be years of learning, but once you start, it feels great.

Another Religious Reject

This is a continuation of Why I Reject Religion. The other day I saw an article about televangelist Kenneth Copeland who claimed the coronavirus is not that serious and that he can blow it away. Most people probably don’t know who this man is, but unfortunately for me, he was one of the many religious con artists I was forced to watch and listen to when I was a kid. This was during my middle school years, which were detrimental to social development and socializing with my peers, and as far as I knew, none of my friends (even the church ones) were made to watch these shyster programs. It was one of many things that make me reject religion today.

I had only lived in the cult-religious home with my father and stepmother Bianca during my seventh grade year – a year that I would never want to repeat if I time traveled. The restrictions were ludicrous; I wasn’t allowed to listen to the music I liked, dress like a normal kid, and I wasn’t allowed to go to other friend’s homes except the preacher’s daughter. Basically, if it was considered normal or something I enjoyed, I wasn’t allowed to do it. This is an excerpt from my memoir, Unheard:

I have a little radio that I listen to in my room, usually tuned to top 40 music. I like reading teen magazines with all of the latest, greatest posters of pop stars and teen idols, and at the same time I listen to music. I’m not allowed to hang posters in my room because it will ruin the walls, so I keep them in a drawer.

“What are you listening to?” Bianca asks while I am in my room, reading and listening to music. I can see in her face that she doesn’t like it, and something is wrong. I am afraid of what I have done.

“Men At Work,” I answer timidly.

“I’ve never heard of them,” she says.

I show her a poster of the group from one of my magazines.

“See? Here they are. They have good songs.”

“They look gay,” she says, crinkling her face.

“Huh? How can you tell?”

I’m not quite sure I understand what gay is, but I know the kids at schools say it means a man liking another man.

“They’re gay,” she repeats. “You can see it in their eyes. And look at their earrings. It means that they’re gay. It’s disgusting. Turn this music off, it’s making me sick to my stomach.”

I am confused. A lot of guys at school wear earrings, but they’re not gay; they have girlfriends. And how can a song about Australia make someone ill? I am offended and insulted! After all, something that I enjoy that is perfectly harmless is being used against me.

“But they’re not saying anything bad!” I cry.

“I don’t care what it’s about,” Bianca’s face contorts. “They’re homosexuals and it’s satanic! Just turn it off!”

I sulk the rest of the afternoon alone in my room. It’s not fair that I have to turn off something I like just because she thinks someone is gay. Who cares if they are gay if the music is good?

I try to keep my radio as quiet as possible and my bedroom door shut now so the music doesn’t make Bianca sick.

She opens my door.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

I look at her.

“Who is that on the radio?”

“Michael Jackson.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to listen to that garbage. The Jacksons are sinners.”

She hands me some tapes.

“Here’s Amy Grant and Sandi Patty for you to listen to. You like them, right?”

I don’t really care for the lame Christian music, but it’s better than listening to some of the other awful boring church stuff she has.

Music was just one of many meaningful things taken away from me due to ridiculous religious beliefs. I had to hide some of my friendships, because Bianca wouldn’t allow those, either. This is another excerpt from Unheard:

Sabrina is allowed to have me over once, with her father there, but Bianca says she must come to our house first to meet her.

“She seems loose,” Bianca says after Sabrina leaves. I don’t know what that means, but I know it doesn’t mean anything nice.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Bianca doesn’t like me questioning her, but I think I have a right to know why she says the things she does about my friends.

“The way she dresses… those pants,” her face scrunches up. “I don’t want you going over there.”

“Parachute pants? That’s what all of the kids in school wear.”

“She looks like a French whore.”

“What does that mean!” I yell and cry. How dare she call my friend such an undeserving name! I do an about face and stomp right into my room.

Bianca doesn’t like any of my new friends; she is just as judgmental and picky about the kids from church. She is starting to get that way about me, too.

Things gradually worsened throughout the school year. My body started developing when I was nine, so by the time I was twelve, I was wearing women’s normal bra sizes. When a child’s body develops faster than her mind, she is still a child inside, even though many adults don’t seem to realize that. (A good analogy would be seeing a 9-month-old puppy looking like a grown dog, but it’s still a puppy.) Bianca wouldn’t even allow me to wear certain items in our own home, and I didn’t understand any of this over-the-top bullshit:

You need to wear your robe,” Bianca announces.

“You mean over this?” I question, tugging at my long shirt.

I am wearing an old, red, thick, oversized t-shirt nightgown she’d given me last year. It hangs on me like a potato sack, right past my knees.

“Yes,” she says. “I can see your nipples.”

“How? You can’t see through it. I can’t see through it. It’s thick like a shirt.”

“I can see the outline of your nipples. Go put a robe on. You can’t be walking around your dad like that.”

It is over 75 degrees, and I’m not allowed to wear a t-shirt?

“But it’s hot,” I whine.

“Susanna!” she snaps. “Put your robe on or go to bed now!”

Dad is in the other room on the computer.

Why doesn’t he defend me at all? I’m not doing anything wrong! This is ridiculous!

I am starting to get sick of Bianca’s weirdness with everything that I do. I decide to go to my room instead of look at her.

Those were just a few of the things that Bianca did to ruin my life as a twelve-year-old. My father never stood up for me, and over time, things progressively became worse. I didn’t realize then what I know now that Bianca was trying to shape me into something I wasn’t, and when she figured out she couldn’t, I was banned from the family. I will explore some of that later…

Why I Reject Religion – Part 2

The same house with the same people that I posted about yesterday that were trying to get the devil out of me when I was in my mid-20s (Part 1 of Why I Reject Religion) – this is part of what I remember as a kid, from Chapter 9 of my book Unheard:

“Our church is called The Four Squares. It’s a small Pentecostal church, the same one where Daddy met Bianca. I think Four Squares is a dumb name for a church, but I figure it has something to do with the family of four that runs it. I have to attend church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.

Gertrude, Bianca’s mother, goes to our church. I have to spend a few days with her while Daddy and Bianca spend some time together alone. Gertrude is an overweight lady with pretty skin, and she constantly preaches about the Lord. She yells and cries for no reason, calling for Jesus and praying to him to save her marriage from her unfaithful husband. Her yelling and screaming scares me at times, especially when she tells me that the devil is inside of me. That’s only if I say or do something she doesn’t like. More than anything, that makes me mad, and I feel like telling her the devil must be in her since she yells and scares kids away.”

For a child to experience this is pretty frightening. It’s like using the boogie man to scare children, but instead they use their god and hell and damnation. The thing is – I always questioned everything, but their answers never made sense. For example, I asked about dinosaurs not being in the Bible. I can’t recall the answer I was given at the time, but it didn’t make sense. I asked about timelines and relevant things that were contradictory in the Bible, but every answer I was given was also contradictory or made into some other uneducated explanation. I asked about children dying or people getting cancer, and I was told that was God’s will, which wasn’t an acceptable answer for me either. And this is a good one – why do women have to serve men? Because that shit didn’t fly with me, even when I was a child. Nothing made sense to me whatsoever, and I thought that “God” sounded like a total misogynistic, selfish asshole. By the time I was a teenager, I had made up my mind that church was not a place I ever care to go. If you’ve never experienced something like this in life or as a child, let me tell you – it’s not only weird, it’s pretty damn creepy! But not as creepy as what I’m about to share.

A girl I’d been friends with since fourth grade lived down the street from me. Her parents were very strict Christians, and even being only about nine years old, I noticed some very strange behavior. One thing was her older brothers pissed their beds (I believe they were either in high school or close to it), and looking back, that is a sure sign of abuse, whether physical or sexual. My friend was rarely allowed to play outside much, but sometimes I was allowed over when their father was there. Now this is where it gets really weird, and today I am 99.9% sure he was a goddamn pedophile. From Chapter 1 of Unheard:

“[My friend] was never allowed at my house, and I stopped going to hers when I was ten because her father kept making me sit on his lap, facing and straddling him as he held me close. He gave me the creeps. When I tried to scoot away he forcefully continued to pull me forward. He also liked to hug me a lot, which I also thought was creepy. I wasn’t used to hugs much from home, but I knew that my grandparents never hugged me like that. I knew in my stomach that something was wrong about it.”

Around the time I wrote and published my book, I was getting in touch with old friends on Facebook, including the friend mentioned above. I’m pretty sure she read the book but didn’t know if I’d written about her, because I kept her details and identity fairly private. I know she was going through a lot of her own difficulties, and at one point she did ask me about her father holding people too close, mentioning that people thought it was weird. She made some excuse about his actions, but I wasn’t buying it. I am certain that man probably did a lot of disgusting things to children.

These people that I had experience with in the religious sector had to be some of the craziest, sickest people a child could be forced to interact with. To this day, the only time you will see me in church is for a wedding or a funeral. But this still isn’t the end of my church stories just yet.

Why I Reject Religion – Part I

While I appreciate and accept other people’s paths in life, religion is not for me whatsoever. Even when I was a small child, I had interest in the occult, which major religions seem to despise.

If you’ve followed me long enough or read my first book, Unheard, you’ll know that religion was a big part of my childhood that led to the ultimate demise of the relationship with my biological father.

This is an excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – as told from a child’s point of view:

Grandmaw got Daddy to go to a big church called Calvary where Aunt Marylou went, and he became born again. That meant that he loved Jesus, who was the only person to show him how Daddy was getting to Heaven. They told me I should be born again too, but I decided that I would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The spirit part scared me, because I thought that God’s son was a ghost. One night I was baptized in a big bathtub at the big Calvary church in front of a big audience. That’s when they handed me a microphone and I told them I love Jesus, even though I wasn’t sure I trusted Him, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t go to Heaven with the rest of my family if I didn’t do exactly as He said in the Bible. I think that water must have been dirty because I got sick a few days later. Maybe it was because my sins were still washing away. I wasn’t sure I liked the Calvary church because it was boring and they made us read like they did in school instead of color and do crafts like some of the other churches we went to. Besides, they made me feel stupid when I didn’t know what some of the Bible meant.

I stopped liking the Sunday school after they asked us what we knew about Abraham. I raised my hand. I knew all about Abraham from school.

“Abraham was the sixteenth president of the United States!” I proudly announced.

“No,” the teacher scrunched up his face. “We’re talking about Abraham from the Bible.”

I guess he thought I was a dumb kid because he never called on me again. I liked the story about the president Abraham better anyway because he freed the slaves.

I was an impressionable child that believed what adults told me as truth, because that was what I was taught (even when my gut said not to). There was another portion of Christianity that I was exposed to but thought it was not only horse shit, but outright nuts – the Pentecostal church. This is another excerpt from my book Unheard:

Grandmaw stopped going to the big church because they asked for too much money and started going to the new small Pentecostal church next to her house. I wasn’t sure I liked that one much either, because the music was old and boring, and so were most of the people. Most of the congregation was a bunch of people raising their hands and talking in a funny language they said was their tongue, even though I thought my tongue looked the same as theirs. The preacher would call up people to the front of the church and start yelling at them and push them on the head until they fell over raising their hands in the air and crying for Jesus. All of that yelling made me want to vomit sometimes because it scared me. The only part I liked about going to that church was meeting other kids and when Grandmaw gave me mints out of her purse when I sat next to her. The other part I liked was when they had food after the service because I was always starving by the time it was over.

Once I educated myself and had a mind of my own, I realized that religion is complete and utter bullshit that was invented by men to control the masses and take property from single/widowed women they deemed as “witches.” One college class I enjoyed most was World Religion, where I grew to learn about and respect other religions, which I feel pretty much all have the same basic beliefs and values. I gravitated towards Buddhism, Paganism, and anything considered “occult” because none of them were religions; they were ways of life and not defined by rules like Christianity or any of the other major world religions. Plus, they made sense.

One of the last times I visited my father was when I was in college. My daughter and I went to my stepmother’s mother’s house for New Year’s Day dinner. During the visit, my father asked me about what I’m doing in college, and at the time I was planning to become an art therapist, but first my plan was to become a high school teacher before working my way into art therapy. Both he and my stepmother discouraged me from teaching in public schools (my stepmother homeschooled all of their children), but I was determined to do whatever I wanted. (This was in the late 90s when schools aren’t what they are today.) After explaining how art and psychology helps people, my father basically told me psychology was a bunch of “hogwash” or whatever Southern term he came up with. That hurt me more than anything, because he has never helped me as an adult, nor have I ever asked, and I was doing my best raising a child and going to college and working on my own. He gave me no credit whatsoever. Everything I said made me wrong in his eyes. I was never good enough, no matter what I did for either him or myself. His words also made me angry, and they saw it. And then things got really fucking weird.

At that point, my stepmother said, “Let’s pray for Susanna!” … and they put me in a chair in the center of her mother’s living room and tried to “take the devil out” of me. By that, I mean they were praying loudly and speaking in tongues and putting their hands on my head and saying things like, “Let Susanna believe in God and let Susanna believe in Jesus! Rebuke the devil in the name of the Lord!”

I was pissed and wanted to get up and scream, “What in the holy HELL are you people doing?!!” But I also didn’t want to scare the small children, because it would “prove” to them that the devil was surely inside of me, and I didn’t want to be a part of the children witnessing “the devil” that only exists in their small minds. They had never even asked me what my beliefs were, and at the time, they were probably a little different than they are today.

My daughter was probably about eight at the time, and I believe she was scared for me and scared of them. It was confusing and weird and a total WTF moment. She and I have a bond like no one else, because it was just her and I for several years. I was fuming mad that they humiliated me like this in front of my young siblings (around her age) and my child. I left so angry, and I vaguely recall my daughter and I speaking about it on the way home, and she said that was the weirdest thing she’d ever seen. No shit. To this day, it’s one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. This was only the beginning of the end of my relationship with my father – by his choice (although there are other theories I’ll write about later).

Answers After Abandonment

I just reread a post I wrote about a year and half ago about dealing with abandonment issues that stemmed from my childhood and how this is a recurrent theme in my life. I am still trying to figure out what it is about my choosing of people that are inclined to abandon or ghost without explanation. Sometimes I do get explanations, although they may be months or years down the road. Other times, I have to suck it up and realize that some people are just cowardly assholes and I’m better off without them.

I recall the time when I was in the army and received a letter from the ex-boyfriend that I’d lost my virginity to. Initially, I was shocked at receiving anything from him at all, as it had been about two years since I’d seen him, and I was far beyond over him. I can’t remember everything the letter said, but he’d apologized for treating me like shit, told me how beautiful I was, and said something about me looking like Mariah Carey (which made me laugh – must have been the hair!). Years later, he attempted to date me again, but that wasn’t happening; I don’t repeat the same mistakes with the same person.

Most “abandonment” that happened pre-internet was just what it was, and I believe it was easier to move on, because there was no communication available if someone moved or changed phone numbers. Out of sight, out of mind. People would just wonder what happened to that person until their class reunion. But today, there is no excuse – or maybe poor excuses – like the one “friend” that suddenly quit talking to me, because she blamed me for working in a place where her ex knew people and some other lame-ass excuse. That was total bullshit, and I realize now so was our “friendship.”

What I don’t need in my life are fair-weathered friends. We all go through things in life that are inevitable and difficult to deal with – sickness, death, divorce, etc. It’s another thing if the issues are just drama type of bullshit that can be avoided, but if someone else can’t handle the problems you never invited them into in the first place, that’s on them. What’s really shitty is when you’re at your worst place and you get abandoned by those you thought had your back, especially when you would never do that to them.

With that being said, I had a male friend that I’d known since my days in the military, and about three years ago, he suddenly disappeared. I knew he was taking a break from social media, but I did have his email and phone number. I also knew he’d had some health issues, so I was truly concerned for his well-being, especially since I hadn’t heard from him and my emails and phone calls went unanswered. It was really out of the norm for him not to keep in touch at all. But then I happened to log into an old Facebook account where we were still “friends,” so I messaged him asking how he was, excited to get back in touch, because I truly enjoyed corresponding with him most of the time. Immediately, I was blocked. I thought how fucking bizarre and dramatic is this? I thought maybe he’s dating someone, and he can’t be friends with other women. Later, I was unblocked so that he could send me a very lengthy message describing in detail how he blocked a bunch of people a few years ago that weren’t adding positivity to his life. Ummm, okay, that’s understandable, but I’m not exactly sure how I fit in there, being that we live 3000 miles apart. He added something about the drama in my life, which wasn’t drama at all – I had a family member with cancer, and around that time a close friend had died. That’s not drama – that’s life! But what I really think happened is this – since we’ve known each other, he’d wanted a romantic relationship with me, and I wasn’t interested. I recall probably telling him a little too much about my personal dating life, and I honestly think he was jealous. I mean, I understand if I wanted someone romantically and they were rejecting me, but the reality of it is we’d never get along in that type of relationship anyway, not to mention the distance. Besides, I didn’t drag him into my “drama” or whatever you might call it; he tends to do that himself with other people’s business. Either way, at least I found out the truth behind the matter, and he seemed very sincere about it, which is a lot more than I can say for other people in my life who have done the same type of thing.

Am I guilty of ghosting anyone? Absolutely! But there is a difference when you’re not getting along with the person or you’ve had a falling out rather than just never speaking to them again without warning. I wish there was an abandonment meter when meeting someone, because it is truly heartbreaking when it happens, and I would definitely avoid those types of people. It’s completely unfair and selfish, not to mention immature, to abandon someone close to you without warning or explanation, and it says a lot about that person’s character.

Living Without a Purpose

It’s days like today I wish I’d been an abortion and wonder why in the hell I’m even on this planet. It’s also days like today that remind me of why I refuse to own a gun or glad I don’t have a gas oven. Oftentimes, it’s the people that you love the most that remind you that your purpose in life is unclear and nothing you do is important or good enough, no matter how good your intentions are, especially when already deeply depressed.

I realize that it’s been a long time since I felt I had a sense of purpose. How long? I cannot even remember, but maybe ten years or more. That was a time when I was married and had my home business. I would get up every morning and write or do other work, take care of household chores and pets, and deal with a teenager. I suppose having a relationship (that helped with financial stability) and a child at home helped me to feel a sense of purpose as well, made me feel like I mattered to someone, even if it was only for cooking and cleaning and being there when someone needed me. Plus, I was happy with the work I was doing. It was the time when I wrote my first book, wrote screenplays, and had articles and photography published in various places. I often feel like that was the shining moment in my life, and I won’t get it back or see it again. Although I would love for it to happen again, I also feel that I would be chasing unicorn dreams instead of facing reality.

Another time I felt a sense of purpose was about 19 years ago. Since I was a child, I wanted to be just like the teachers that I looked up to, so I became a teacher. I started out truly enjoying what I did, even though it was stressful. I quickly realized I was not going to make the cut of one of those “great teachers,” because I had too many personal responsibilities that wouldn’t allow me to focus solely on my career. Then things changed dramatically in our flawed American public education system, and teaching was no longer rewarding. I went to work every day feeling dread, came home feeling unappreciated and overworked. Health issues started when I was at my last teaching job; the amount of stress put me in the hospital, which of course caused more financial stress. I realized that I had to move on to another field if I wanted to keep my sanity and health.

Shortly after my divorce, I found a job working for a new company that seemed promising, so I thought maybe this is where I’m needed in life, and just maybe I could build from there. The starting pay was terrible, however, the hours were what I wanted, and I was told things would change financially within a few months. The only thing that changed was financially worse and discovering I was working for people running a scam, and their business (not surprisingly) went under.

A couple of years ago, even though the pay was pathetic and nearly minimum wage, I became a home health aide, thinking that maybe it would be rewarding, because I’d be helping someone in need. Anyone that has worked in this field quickly finds out that family members of the people you take care of and spend hours and hours with don’t always appreciate the work you do, even when you do extra things not required. In fact, they start expecting more, and no matter what, you don’t get paid more. The only thing it did was make me more depressed than I already was, because not only did clients pass away, I was sitting around in someone else’s house all day and/or cleaning it and taking care of the family’s large, annoying dogs that were another job in itself.

There are many days I wake up eager for night to fall again just so that I can go back to sleep. I don’t want to look at or speak to anyone or leave the house. When I’m not feeling well physically, like I have been lately, it exacerbates the depression. I do my best to force myself to either write or do artwork or at least clean the house or a closet or something to get myself moving. It’s a daily struggle, and it has been for years, and no one that hasn’t been through it will ever understand what it’s like to wake up every single day without a purpose or feeling that you matter in the world.

Another maddening trip to Walmart

Have I mentioned how much I hate Walmart? I don’t know whether to believe they hire the dumbest fucking people on the planet or they’re just playing games making everyone walk around the entire store looking for one item. Or maybe they’re trained to do that by the evil Walmart demons.

I had to buy something for my mother in law. I’m in Walmart walking around in circles, and I have the following conversation with another one of their genius employees:

Me: Do you have a foot scrubber? You put it on the shower floor and go like this… (I demonstrate) and wash the bottom of your foot with it.

WM: If we had anything like that, it would be in stationary.

Me: Stationary?!

WM: Yeah, stationary.

Me: Do you understand I’m asking you for something that goes in the shower? It’s for elderly people to be able to wash their feet.

WM: Yeah they have bathroom stuff in stationary.

Me: Okay…. Do you have a section with shower nozzles, or walkers, or hand rails, stuff for elderly people?

WM: Yeah but I ain’t never seen what you’re talkin’ about there.

I knew nothing like that would be in “stationary,” but I went and took a look anyway. I walked out empty handed. There was no such thing in “stationary”. Moron!

Who determines our worth?

How it feels to be a wife

(NOTE: This and several upcoming posts were written several years ago when I was married. I thought it would be fun to share them.)

I suppose enough criticism from everyone in your environment can help you to determine whether or not you’re a worthless wife. Your family, your kids, your significant other, and even your neighbors can all contribute to that cause. After all, wives should be perfect in every way, 24/7, in sickness and in health, and do it with a smile on their faces.

“Alex’s mom is cool. She looks like a movie star and lets us stay up as late as we want,” the kids might say.

Nice. Alex’s mom is also a two-bit whore who screws her husband’s best friend.

“What’s for dinner tonight?” the husband might say. “I’m hungry.”

Dinner? It’s only one in the afternoon. I’m still digesting lunch.

“You should be helping your husband mow the lawn,” the neighbor might say.

Sure thing. I’ll get out my razor and make a landing strip as soon as he picks his dirty clothes up off of the bathroom floor.

“You two should plan sex at least two or three times a week. You need to keep your husband happy,” the mother might say.

Plan sex? Oh how romantic! Is that why you’re such a bitch after 3 “happy” marriages?

I’ll shut up now. After all, isn’t that what women are supposed to do?

Another Lonely Holiday for the 4th

(**I’m a little rambly today… didn’t sleep well last night.)

I’m stuck at work today. I mostly work alone, and combined with the personal part of my life in which I am alone often, it just seems like I’m shut out from the world. My family rarely gets together except for (sometimes) Thanksgiving, Christmas, and maybe Mother’s Day. My friends all either have boyfriends or families they’re spending time with. However, I may visit some married friends later. But being the third wheel is no fun.

Weekends and holidays are a stark reminder that I’m a single middle-aged woman, and by societal standards, it can be tough. Sometimes I’m afraid that I’m alone so much and have been for so long that I’ll end up unable to have any sort of relationship, because maybe I just won’t know how. I go places and see couples and families together all of the time. Sometimes it makes me sad that I don’t have anyone I can share my time with. While I do like my space and freedom, it would be really nice to have a partner for these occasions and to do other fun things. But being alone nearly 24/7 doesn’t seem healthy.

The other day I was reminded in an article that people in relationships live longer, are healthier and happier, have a sense of purpose, and have a reduced risk for dementia. At this rate, I suppose I’ll be dead in 15 years (joking…). But then I started searching for other topics – positive ones – about how being single can be healthier. I suppose it’s all about who you choose to be with, because an unhealthy relationship can cause irreparable damage.

I’m not living the life that I’ve always dreamed about. Not only am I just single; I’m fucking broke. The two do not go hand in hand whatsoever. I’ve been working multiple jobs, some get canceled unexpectedly, and I’ve had some major expenses over the years that I’ve been unable to catch up with. Being broke makes me anxious, makes me worry, makes me lose sleep, increases pain, and obviously doesn’t enable me to travel and do the things I want to do. I know I have to get another job that pays me better and makes me happier… finding it is another story.

What Divorce Can Do To a Woman

broken-heart-shapeI’ve been going through a lot of emotional bullshit lately. Even though it’s been final for eight months, divorce is like dealing with death. It’s a series of grief processes. I’m up one minute, down the next. I try to keep telling myself this is good, everything will be okay, but then I sober up and feel the pain again.

I try to keep myself laughing by looking at cute and funny things – things like comedy shows and cute kitten videos. And then I start missing the animals I had to leave behind. My dog. My cat. I feel as if I’ve abandoned my children. They were my babies. I know they are left alone quite often; they used to be with me almost 24/7, because I worked at home the majority of the time. I find myself bawling at the thought of never seeing them again.

I laugh one minute, cry the next. It’s a fucked up rollercoaster.

Divorce can destroy a woman’s heart forever – make her never want to open up to another man again. It can make her feel unloved, unappreciated, unattractive, and underestimated. It can cause her never to trust again.

Divorce can force a woman to seek others that give her the attention she yearns, but not always the right type of attention, and often attention that turns into more hurt. It can make her question her ability to satisfy a man. It can make her wonder will she ever be good enough – for anyone?

Divorce can make a woman cold, cause a void that can never be filled.

I used to be such a loving, caring person.

I’m not that person anymore.

I can never and will never be someone’s wife ever again.

Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 8

Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 8 – told from a child’s point of view

Even though the visits become less frequent, I look forward to visiting Daddy, and I have already forgiven Bianca for butchering my hair. Their house is always warm and cozy. Bianca has down comforters and nice pillows and warm beds, and they have a warm fireplace for the winter, air conditioning for the hot months, and things that I’m not used to having. I am even allowed to take hot baths and sit in the tub for as long as I want!

I have wanted to shave my legs since fifth grade, because my friends are already shaving and making fun of me. Mom says I have to wait until I’m thirteen, but when I speak to Bianca about it, she gives me a razor and tells me to go at it. It must have taken me an hour or more, and I cut myself a few times, but I am grateful to be able to do at least one thing all of my friends are doing. Plus, I don’t have boy legs anymore.

By the middle of the summer between sixth and seventh grades, I decide that I want to live with Daddy and Bianca. They convince me that living with them will be better than living with Marcus and his drinking and drug habits.

I agree, but know that I will miss Mom. I hate the thought of leaving the babies and her alone with Marcus. What if something happens and she needs me? I hesitate calling Mom on the phone because I fear her reaction.

“I don’t want to tell her,” I say to Dad and Bianca.

“You’re the one that has to tell her, not us,” Bianca says.

I pick up the phone. Mom answers. I’m crying.

“What’s wrong?” she asks.

“I don’t want to come home,” I say. “I want to stay here.”

I can tell she isn’t happy. But I also know that I might be in trouble if I do decide to go back home.

“Why don’t you come home and we’ll talk about it?” she says, but I feel that it is more than a suggestion.

My stomach knots. I can barely swallow. My heart races. I am scared to death and know I cannot turn back now. I cry harder. Daddy takes the phone from me. Bianca hugs me and says everything is going to be all right.

All I have to do is go back there to pack.

UNHEARD: a memoir Now Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 6

Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 6 – told from a child’s point of view

Other family gatherings involve being with Marcus’s weird family. His father (whom Mom secretly calls Hitler because he is a tyrant and has a dark mustache) refers to all children as “rotten little kids”. I am no exception, but the name-calling doesn’t end there. Marcus’s obedient mother, Rose, is nice most of the time and tries to keep the kids as far from her husband as possible – and he sees to it she does just that.

Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t exempt them from being freaks. Marcus still refers to me as “The Monster,” particularly in front of his own family members, as if to impress them. They laugh and joke about calling me names; even when the babies were born everyone laughed and said they looked like aliens. I guess they think it’s okay and normal to make fun of people, especially small children. Sometimes Mom secretly looks at me and rolls her eyes, because she knows they are stupid and immature. Mom never really says anything, though. I think she’s afraid, so she pretends to laugh along with them. Rose does the same. I hate being around them.

Hitler has never been nice – never one kind word or gesture – nor does he ever speak to me except to bark out a command or an insult. Because he wears dark eyeglasses that hide his eyes, no one knows what he is looking at. Hitler served time in a Florida prison for embezzling money when he worked for the city. On top of that, he is weird and creepy and always stinks because he doesn’t wear deodorant. He isn’t very nice to the babies, either. When we moved out of their trailer and into the new ugly house, Mom discovered a peephole in the bedroom wall. Hitler had been secretly watching her.

Marcus’s younger brother, Melvin, is the only one in their family who is remotely nice to me. He flirts with me, and everyone else seems to think it’s cute and funny – even though I am only in sixth grade. I think it’s weird. Melvin is married to a teenaged girl from his high school. They’re going to have a baby together. Melvin also went to jail for tying up and having sex with a girl the same age as me.

Marcus’s older brother, Arthur, is just as weird as the rest of them. Most of the time he keeps quiet, but when he speaks he says stupid things. And he smells like a troll. Every time Arthur holds the babies under his arms, Mom has to wash their heads because their uncle does not wear deodorant. No wonder he never has a girlfriend.

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Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 5

Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 5 – told from a child’s point of view

Bianca has a way of making everyone believe her. She says she always cuts Daddy’s hair and her own, so I agree to let her cut mine after church. I look in the mirror a few times while she works on it, but I don’t like what I see. I think maybe she can fix it and allow her to keep cutting. But when I look in the mirror for the last time, I see that my beautiful, healthy, long dark hair has gone from being about eight inches below my shoulders to a shaggy, cropped mullet. I start crying, put on a painter’s hat, and run out the front door. At first I don’t know where I am going. Since it is only about two miles up the road, I decide to walk to Grandmaw’s.

The first person I see is Aunt Jackie.

“Oh hi, Susanna,” Aunt Jackie says. “I didn’t know that was you. I thought it was a boy walking down the road.”

I cry harder. I know Aunt Jackie doesn’t mean to hurt my feelings, but what she said is true. I do look like a boy. She hugs me, goes inside and tells Grandmaw about it.

“Why did she do that to your pretty hair, honey?” Grandmaw seems sad.

“She said she could cut it like I wanted it,” I tell her.

Uncle Charlie is shaking his head.

“That old bar whore can’t cut hair! She ain’t never went to school for that,” he speaks very loudly.

Grandmaw calls Daddy to come get me. Bianca gives him my things and makes Daddy drive me home alone.

“Your hair doesn’t look that bad,” he tells me.

I keep quiet the whole ride home. Mom is standing outside when we pull up to the house. I say goodbye to Daddy and he leaves.

“What did you do to your hair?” she looks horrified.

“Bianca cut it.”

“I don’t like it,” she frowns. “She should have left your hair alone. Why did you let her do it?”

“I don’t know,” I cry. “She told me she could cut hair. I thought she knew what she was doing.”

“She cuts your father’s hair and look at his!” She is mad. “She doesn’t know what she’s doing! That bitch!”

Mom stomps off to call Bianca and give her a piece of her mind, which usually means saying a few four letter words and mentioning Jesus Christ or God’s hamlet, even though I don’t think they have anything to do with it.

I want to go to school tomorrow, except that I don’t want anyone to see my hair. I pick at my arms, pondering what to do about it and decide that putting it up in pigtails will be the easiest way to hide the awful cut.

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Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – Chapter 3

Excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – as told from a child’s point of view:

Grandmaw got Daddy to go to a big church called Calvary where Aunt Marylou went, and he became born again. That meant that he loved Jesus, who was the only person to show him how Daddy was getting to Heaven. They told me I should be born again too, but I decided that I would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The spirit part scared me, because I thought that God’s son was a ghost. One night I was baptized in a big bathtub at the big Calvary church in front of a big audience. That’s when they handed me a microphone and I told them I love Jesus, even though I wasn’t sure I trusted Him, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t go to Heaven with the rest of my family if I didn’t do exactly as He said in the Bible. I think that water must have been dirty because I got sick a few days later. Maybe it was because my sins were still washing away.

I wasn’t sure I liked the Calvary church because it was boring and they made us read like they did in school instead of color and do crafts like some of the other churches we went to. Besides, they made me feel stupid when I didn’t know what some of the Bible meant.

I stopped liking the Sunday school after they asked us what we knew about Abraham. I raised my hand. I knew all about Abraham from school.

“Abraham was the sixteenth president of the United States!” I proudly announced.

“No,” the teacher scrunched up his face. “We’re talking about Abraham from the Bible.”

I guess he thought I was a dumb kid because he never called on me again. I liked the story about the president Abraham better anyway because he freed the slaves.

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Chapter 1 – Excerpt from Unheard: A Memoir

Excerpt from UNHEARD: A Memoir

As soon as I hear the weight of his body touch the first step, I silently but quickly scamper back to my bed, crawl under the covers, and pretend to be asleep. My heart pounding in my chest like a jackhammer, I pray he doesn’t hear me or open my door. I hear his foot reach the third step from the top, the one that annoyingly creaks when anyone touches it, and my body tenses even more. It is difficult to breathe noiselessly, but by now I am used to trying my best to be unheard.

The split second it takes him to reach the top of the stairs and make his way to the bathroom seems like an eternity. I hear the bathroom door shut and feel a sigh of relief; I can breathe again, at least for a short time. I lay watching the second-hand of my electric clock rotate its face. I listen to the clink of the toilet seat hit the cover, the waterfall of beer-urine hitting the toilet water, and the old pipes sucking it all up when the toilet flushes.

Then I hear the elephant. The elephant, as I call it, is the loud air in the old pipes when the sink or shower water runs to the second floor. The elephant stops, and I tense again, knowing he will be coming back out and wondering if he will go back downstairs. Or will he do what he often does and stand in front of my door listening for me to make a wrong move?

The bathroom door opens so quickly it startles me, and I almost gasp for air loud enough to be heard. I watch for his feet near my door, listening intently to determine where he is going. I don’t think he knows I can feel his negative presence on the other side of my door – nor does he realize that I can see the reflection of his feet on the wooden floor. Although they are mostly unexpected, I am aware of his games, and I am not about to let him beat me. I have to be sure that in order to survive his mind games, I need to be two steps ahead of him.

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