The first part of my Literary Memoir/Autobiography PART 1

On the positive note in my life, the beta reading for the first tentative part of my autobiography has been going great, with incredible feedback coming in:

I have to split it into two parts/PART 1::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::;;; 

My soul rests in the ocean of my eyes; in them you can see the creation of the Universe.  I began, however, with light, as all creatures do; a clap from Heaven and a jolt of every Universe welcoming me in the purest of white. Such as we all do, for it has become more common wide knowledge that we all are literally stardust. Truly, each and every new life begins as a miracle, and we all carry the Universe within us, for everything is connected.  We came here with a purpose, with a mission, and it is our life journey, the tragedies, traumas, joys and pains through experience and our choices that mold and define who we become during this journey called life.

This is the story of my life, and it’s not a pretty one, but at times it’s miraculous, and you’ll find the beauty there, and in the love, compassion and music that carries throughout it. There is also suffering, grief, trauma and rage.   

I was told from a young age that I was “Different”, “Born different”, “Difficult to love”, “Born wrong” and other such sentiments.  However, it was my bourgeoisie gold-digging abusive mother, not my creation or existence, who was the real problem. 

Freud’s ghost may have just grown a little stronger.

I did write my autobiography once already. It came out in hysterical bursts and meltdowns privately to a friend of mine, and occasional ranting about trauma openly on social media. I had a complete nervous breakdown which led to an eventual diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type on top of my severe trauma PTSD. I survived a loss of sanity that I will always battle not to drown in.  It was quite a humiliating experience and I really don’t recommend it. Then again, my mind doesn’t listen to my recommendations without proper medication.

I was born in southern California to an eccentrically weird photographer father with industry dreams, and an abusive cheating narcissist of a mother. 

My Grandpa Jess came over from Russia, crossing by boat and then travelling down by land from Canada. He was a caricature artist on Coney Island, and later animated for Walt Disney.  This is where he met my Grandma Ryna. She was a dancer, who brazenly wore bikinis on the strip and showed her ankles. She was a Leo with bleached bottle blonde hair, a Marilyn Monroe mole, curves and the move to show them off. She even danced with Gene Kelly for a little bit before marrying my Grandfather. 

My great grandmother, back in Russia, was horrified to hear my Grandfather had fallen in love with a Coney Island dancer. This was quite a scandal back in the day.  She feigned a serious, possible terminal illness and my grandfather travelled all the back to Russia, only to find she was perfectly fine and simply didn’t want him eloping with some ankle-showing dancing tart of a single mom. 

My Grandpa went back to California, married my Grandmother, adopted her other kids to raise as his own, and they had two more children together.  He also continued with his own work as an artist. 

Jess played the saxaphone. All the time. Every morning and evening, 7 days a week, like he swam laps in the pool and went to the gym.  In all honesty, he was a not kind man to me later in life, and I really don’t have many positive memories about him.  I remember him sending me a lot of my Grandmother’s costume jewelry after she died, which I did appreciate immensely, for that was all I had of her. My Grandmother, on the other hand, was one of the few people in my childhood to show me true love, affection and acceptance of who I was just as the person I was. Unless I wasn’t in a good mood and put together in the morning. Then I had to go back to my room, get dressed and put a smile on my face before coming back to the kitchen for my onion bagel with lox and cream cheese. She used to yell “L’Chaim!” at every family gathering. She had such a beautiful smile and bellowing laugh. Years later, at an 18-year-old, I would have “L’Chaim” tattooed on my ankle in honor of her.

My Grandma was a force to be reckoned with. A bleach bottle blonde with a radiant smile, highly arched eyebrows and sparkling green eyes. She even had a beauty mark like Marilyn Monroe. She was a Leo, born 2 days before my own birthday ended up being. Her energy, laugh and beauty lit up every room she entered. She commanded attention and the moment without effort. She simply glowed. Even when she gained weight and became a big woman, she was gorgeous, and something about her always turned heads. Everyone adored her in her area. She was a huge socialite in her own way in Montebello and very involved with a lot of causes.

My grandma was incredibly creative. She danced professionally, could model, was intelligent, loving, passionate and creative.  Her and my mother started our family’s children’s clothing company, “Y Grow Up!” at home when I was a baby.  She taught me how to crochet and I used to watch her knit her afghans, flowers and help her tie the bows to be applied individually to the clothes in the latest clothing line. We would watch “Love Connection”, followed by“Star Search”, and I would dream of singing on that stage. 

They had this huge grandfather clock that vibrated the entire house like something out of a goth fairytale, and a piano that played itself. You could insert these rolls and it would just go. That piano was one of my favorite things in the house, but don’t try to stick your fingers in there, or in a running fan. While we’re on the subject, don’t touch cactuses, or BBQ’s either, kids.  And you probably shouldn’t put banana slugs in your mouth if you’re ever camping around Santa Cruz. Yeah, I was that kid. Somehow, we survived the 80s.

My mom met my dad in a bar. He was preforming, up on stage on piano.  She said she was taken with him, and they had a pretty intense spontaneous love affair that resulted in me.  When she was about 7 months pregnant, they both got married to spare the family shame of bastard me after being pressured into it, I was told.

There was no love on her end. My mother had never once told me that she loved my father. I have pressingly asked her this at times throughout the years. I think I needed to believe that if nothing else, I was at least conceived of love between two people, but I wasn’t. 

My father loved her; she completely destroyed his heart in the end, and me.   

I was due at the end of July, the 22nd or 23rd. My mother was told she was going to have to a boy, but the sonograms were wrong.  I refused to come out. I think I knew what was coming before my soul entered her womb and didn’t want anything to do with this life.  It’s not like I had much of a choice though.

My mom did everything she could to induce labor, and she jogged like crazy in attempt to bring on contractions.  They finally induced her at the hospital, and after a few days of labor, decided to do a c-section. By that time, I was so far overdue, that the vernix in the amniotic sack had been eaten away by the amniotic fluid and I was literally burning alive in the womb.

When they pulled me out, screaming so loud that my mother remembers the Doctor making a remark of how I was already yelling from inside the womb, earning me a 10 on the APGAR score, they told my mom I was a girl.  The first thing my new ears heard from my mother was, “I’m not having a girl, I’m having a boy!”. They brought me over to her, swaddled, to me to her, and she simply said upon first seeing me, “Ewww…she looks like a skinny little snake.” And she laughed. 

Then again, when my baby brother, Brett, was born, I was the first person to hold him standing outside the delivery room and exclaimed how cute he was. When I showed him to my mom in the recovery from the c-section, she said “He’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen”.  There you go, that’s who my mother really is. 

For a couple weeks I was peeling from the red blisters on my skin, especially my face. Ne’er was a truer Witch born than into suffering by a mother who wanted a son, and who’s womb tried to burn her alive from before her first breathe.  

I was born into suffering; a precursor of the life ahead of me. No wonder I didn’t want to be born.

My Grandma Ryna was a well-known and beloved in her area, so my birth was a flutter of congratulations and celebration.  The newspaper printed an article congratulating her, with my birth details in the announcement under my photo and the headline. I was presented to the world in an open glorified celebration of love from my grandmother, yet secret disappointment behind closed doors from a dissatisfied mother who would love me only in infant toy form to her pleasure.

What I learned as the years of my life went on, what nobody tells you about pain, what nobody wants to say, is that some kinds of pain don't ease. There is little healing; a tender scarred wound at best. In fact, some kinds of pain get worse with time.

You learn to transmute it. You learn to turn it into something bittersweet and beautiful. You transform the pain to find a positive and persevere on the wings of your silver lining.

So, no, the storm doesn't ease, but you learn to ride it, and own the power of the lightning you can never halt nor control.

 

My life has been shrouded in scary stories that are surreal and at times, literally paranormal.  Close calls have followed me from before birth.

 

Somehow, I always seem to find myself stuck in, or narrowly escaping the craziest situations.  I’m also an excellent klutz at times, so my life can be a little too literally “Bella from Twilight meets the Twilight Zone meets Final Destination” to my liking.

 

My mom and dad weren’t together for long. They separated once before I was a year old, and then one day while my dad was at work, she packed what she wanted, took me and left a note to be with who would later become my first stepfather, the man she’d been having an affair with in Merced, Dr. Gregory Paul DiCarlo. 

 

If there was one moment in my childhood that I could go back and control to change the destiny of, it would have been that day. I would have made my mom leave me with my dad, so that I was raised by him instead. 

 

I was a beautiful child. Difficult, defiant, independent and stubborn from the start, though.  My mom was approached by a modeling scout in the middle of the mall who wanted me to audition for a commercial.  While on set, they were trying to get me to crawl and react in the way they needed me to, and instead I pretty much said “fuck you” and ran off in the opposite direction. They told my mom I was a beautiful baby but just too stubborn to work with. And so Hollywood fired me in my infancy.

 

My dad, however, wasn’t done, and I was one of his muses in my own way. I modelled for him, and later, our clothing company.

 

My mom and Grandma Ryna began making clothes for me at home, designed and painting them. It became an idea that fueled a business, and a few years later, “Y Grow Up” children’s clothing and apparel was born.

 

I was the face of this company, modeling the clothing.

 

My dad is eccentric, and so nothing was ever normal with him.  If there was an opportunity to be a goofball or the center of attention, my dad was grabbing that moment. If someone needed a photographer, or impromptu guitarist, my dad was in that moment, and even when nobody needed it, he was in the moment with his harmonica anyway.  

 

He was the same with me, and I was a Daddy’s girl at some point early on.  I remember a father who had me hold his hands and stand on his feet to dance to Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”, who always played “Blackbird” even though I asked a million times, or “Yellow Submarine”.  I remember a father who took me everywhere from Disney Land to Knott’s Berry Farm. Once near Yosemite, I remember wandering off on my own while my dad was doing some of his photography and coming across a coyote who starting to walk towards me. I then ran back to the truck screaming that a wolf was trying to kill me.

 

I never lacked for the dramatic.

 

I remember a father who dropped rocks of Fool’s Gold in the river so I could find treasure, and who always brought me M&Ms to pick me up for visits.  I remember a dad who had me sing every chance he could, even when I was embarrassed and didn’t think I had a good enough singing voice. I remember a dad who, when in a particularly bad mood on a bad day, lost it and freaked out screaming at the KFC window worker because they were out of extra crispy chicken. I remember a dad who literally sucked on the bottom of my foot when I stepped on a wasp from fear I would have an allergic reaction and be in serious trouble if he didn’t suck out the venom.

 

My dad never lacked for the dramatic either.

 

My dad taught me how to wiggle my eyebrows, tongue, nose and lips in every which direction to make goofball faces, which became invaluable later in theatre, dance and other performing arts.  My dad would take me to Knotts Berry Farm, and then we couldn’t go in until I finished the name of charades for the woman holding our ticket.

 

There we are, and in that big crowd out front, my dad is miming out mailing a letter in a postal box, written from his knee.  Mail-a-knee.  Melanie.   This skill became invaluable later at a friend’s winter cabin when nobody could figure out “Sonic Boom” during Gestures but me. 

 

I miss my dad. I miss my dad who sang “Puff the Magic Dragon” with me and knew that the “Purple People Eaters” song was my favorite to put on the jukebox at my Uncle’s restaurant, so he’d always get me a quarter. I miss my dad who knew that driving through the Grapevine, seeing the Great America roller coaster and later, Los Angeles rising in the distance as you came through the end was the best part of the drive, so he’d always remember to point them out to me. We’d get super excited and chat about them, about the last time we went, and the next adventure we might go on; where his photography would take us.

 

I miss the dad who knew I loved the loquats on the tree in the backyard of the house in Montebello by his dark room and would remember to pick them for me. I miss my dad who would put me on the spot and make me sing for everyone, no matter how shy or self-conscious I felt, and then would cry over how beautiful he thought my voice was. I miss my dad who wrote me a lullaby, and entire children’s CD. I miss the dad who always remembered my favorite ice cream flavors were mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream.

My dad forgot about my birthday again last month, or blew me off on purpose, but likely he forgot. It hurts. I can't remember the last time he did remember my birthday. I'm not sure if he even knows what day it's on or how old I am anymore. He could have emailed me. Something. I haven't seen him in almost 8 years, but it shouldn't be that way, and it's not from lack of me trying to have a relationship with him my entire life.

 

When I asked him about my childhood, to get stories for this book, he simply emailed back:

 

“As far as your childhood, I would drive from L.A. to Merced. Pick you up. Drive from Merced to L.A. Have a ‘Daddy’s weekend’ and drive you back to Merced. Then I’d drive back to L.A. feeling sad. I don’t even remember what we did exactly. Probably went to Disneyland more than once.”

 

 

In my dad’s words, I "went to Hell" after my mom took me to go live with Greg in Merced. I was fine before. I was perfect just the way I was, but I was destroyed. My dad lost his ability to love and connect to me, even though I am his only birth child. He raised my stepmother's 3 children and has provided for them and helped with all the step-grandchildren, but he turned his back on me, and after I lost custody of Lily, everyone turned their backs on her too.

 

My dad basically pulled away from me, and just cut me out like I don't really exist. He never came to my performances, or to celebrate milestones like graduation, when I sang "The National Anthem" in front of everyone at Teneya Middle School in Merced. He wouldn't even pick me up for visits anymore. Instead, I took a plane alone at times by the age of 5 or 6 at times. By age 11, I rode the train from Merced to Fresno. By age 16, I would drive myself in my own car.

 

When my baby was born, she was preemie and spent 2 weeks in the NICU. My dad had a Pablo Cruise concert in our area when she was about 2 weeks old. Lily was still only about 4 1/2-5 pounds at that point, and almost died. My dad invited me to the concert, and I told him I couldn't go, and obviously couldn't bring the baby to the concert. I was also recovering from a c-section that I had a complication from, almost died and was on intense anti-biotics and pain medications to treat.

 

My dad never came to visit when Lily was born because my mom was there. My dad, though literally driving less than 5 minutes away from me on the way to and from his gig, refused to meet his first-born blood grandchild and myself, both of whom almost died. It really hit me hard to be treated that way. I don't know if he's still Pablo Cruise's Director, but I hope he is. I never did catch a concert.

 

Later in the year, my step-Uncle in Fresno was having a disco 70s themed 50th birthday concert. My dad, nor anyone else in the family in Fresno, had met Lily Belle at that point. I gave up front row floor ticket to Billy Joel and Elton John in Sacramento, eating the money and taking my baby to my Uncle's party instead, so they could meet her, we could see our family, and celebrate. Isn't that what families are supposed to do?

 

I look back with such deep sorrow. My life could have been so different. If my mom had left me with my father, and he had continued to love and want me, I would have been raised, healthy and happy, following my dreams; many in my dad's footsteps. My dad could have taught me. Knowing who I could have been that I'll never get to be, how close that was for me before cruelty and abuse stole it all away and destroyed me, will never be an easy pill to swallow.

 

In another life, I was born perfectly healthy, and stayed that way. In another life, I was rocking the stage, successful, strong and beautiful. In another life, I was making this world a better place through celebrity, art, music and money. In another life, the musician friend I have loved for so long and I met, it was perfect, and we were the best two people together ever.

 

In another life.

 

When my daughter was a year old, a family reunion was arranged to be held in Los Angeles.  I hadn’t seen family since I was 17, when a relative emailed my father telling him she was concerned about my weight and thought I ate too much chocolate at the party.  I emailed her back telling her off.  It wasn’t the best scene between her, my father and myself.  Then again, how dare I show up to a family reunion overweight and eat any of the deserts and hors d'oeuvres?! What on earth was I thinking?! It was also incredibly humiliating. I had a severe eating disorder and it was one my shameful secrets as a teenager.  

 

Now it was 7 years later, and I was at a healthy weight, though still full-figured and curvy (which is just my body type), and a mom.  I am the only full-blood grandchild of Jess and Ryna Blake, which makes Lily Belle the only blood great-grandchild, so I was extremely excited to introduce her to everyone.  She carries bits of them within her, as do I, and they were supposed to be my family. 

 

I showed up at my Grandfather’s house, pulled my daughter out of the car, hoisted her onto my hip, and approached the door. I was shaky and excited, wondering at how they’d respond to one another and coursing through all these thoughts, from laughing internally at the huge aloe plants still blooming by the front door to wondering if the house still looked the same, and if the giant gumball machine was still in the front entry way.

 

I knocked on the door and waited.  Nobody answered.  I knocked again and tried the bell. I could hear footsteps, but no answer.  A little more baffled, I pounded louder.  The blinds in the window open very slightly for someone to peak their eye through from inside, then they slammed shut. Nobody answered.

 

I drove down to the nearest shopping center to use a pay phone, as I had no cell phone of my own.  Ironically, it was the same shopping center in Montebello where Robby and Becky’s “Uncle Robbys” (later “Tio Robby’s”) restaurant was.  It was not lost to me how ironic it was that I was calling them from that supercenter. All I needed was my Uncle Eddie’s “Tail O’ The Pup” giant hot dog hot dog stand to drift by on a parade float to rub it in, and my baby and I would have been securely cemented in the Southern California irony of wealthy Jewish hypocrisy. 

 

God certainly has a sense of humor, because Eddie Vedder’s “Society” just started on my random playlist.  Christopher McCandless is one of my spirit animals. My Aunt Becky even told me how disgusted they were with me for being a “Gypsy”, something I don’t mind at all calling myself today, though I’m more a hippie gypsy goth Witch, to be accurate.

 

My family’s obsessions with money, materialism, status and appearance never made sense to me.  One time as a child, I gave a homeless man $5 out of my allowance. It was money I earned from chores living with my mother, so the money didn’t even come from my father at all.  He absolutely lost it, and just screamed and yelled at me for doing that.  He wanted me to go take the money back, and I wouldn’t do that.  To me, money was a means to get books, music, art, chocolate and help other people, animals or causes. 

That was the meaning of money to me as a child. I gave all I had on me and promised to bring $5 later (a promise I did keep), to get a few of boys who were hurting a kitten they’d found to give it to me in 7th grade. I used to sneak these kittens I rescued at school home.

My father’s side of the family fought over my Grandma Ryna’s jewelry on her bed after her funeral, my stepmother said.  All I ever asked for were photos of her, some of the blankets she made, and the gumball machine in the entry way, due to the sentimental memories behind it.  Nobody ever sent me any photos, and I had to get them myself by driving down to visit my Grandfather 8 years later. 

I could have stolen anything of value in so many circumstances on both sides of my family. These narcissistic people who claim I’m out to get money to hide the truth of themselves behind their masks, and their secrets, abuse and lies.  I took pictures of my Grandmother while my Grandfather was working out at the gym in the morning, because after 8 years, nobody in the family had bothered to ever give me any, despite how many times I asked. The only pictures I had were a few that my stepmother had given me. She wasn’t even blood family, the Blake family hated her and were viciously cruel to her, and yet she tried to do what she could for me, which really meant a lot to me.

I remember my Aunt showing off her diamond encrusted gold cigarette case as a family wedding, and all I could think about was how many kids bled so she could sparkle when she needed to smoke, and how many of those kids the money she was so proud to have dropped on that cigarette case could have saved. 

I was disgusted by some of the so-called values of my family, and what they thought they knew, or did know, left them disgusted by me and mine.

I feel like they completely missed the mark on what true wealth is. Wealth is love, and that is found in the compassion, and kindness, which opens us to the ultimate experience of wealth. This true wealth is found in privilege. Privilege in life is in the time we choose to give freely, without condition or bond, to help others when they need us. It becomes a special rite as we give it without negative ties and is our privilege to give this gift.

 

Privilege is not granted to those who must stand in your graces, where time is bought and sold based on when you choose the when and how. That is where the adoration and fear of Kings and Queens lie and sounds more like slavery and control.

 

Control can never be privilege. Control is based on owning the concept of what privilege truly is for the benefit of yourself.

True privilege is grounded in servitude; of which comes itself in many forms.

 

Cast out in life once again, there I was downtown, stranded, with an infant on my hip, no money and the sun going down fast. I had to overdraw my debit card to even place that call at that phonebooth, and my Aunt Becky picked up the phone. 

 

Evidently, I’m a whore and home wrecking cheater like my mother who had a bastard child out of wedlock and should have done my daughter a favor by having an abortion instead.

 

Evidently, my Aunt Becky and Uncle Robby felt that leaving their disabled niece and great-niece on the streets of LA alone is completely acceptable when you donate blankets to the homeless shelter at Christmas. 

 

She actually said that, “Oh come on, it’s not like I’m a bad person. I donate blankets to the homeless every Christmas.”  Good for you, Auntie Becky, good for you.

 

In all honesty, I believe my Aunt and Uncle saw only one thing that day: their perception of who I was, and what my daughter represented to them and their biggest fears and insecurities. I believe they saw a potential threat to their money; the only blood heirs carrying down the generations who were descended from Jess and Ryna. Maybe that’s just how I see it, from what I heard, they filed bankruptcy, and money became just the pursuit of it, stories, appearances and wealthy marriages with brief moments rubbing elbows with those of fame and industry. I have no idea, I haven’t seen or heard from anyone in years. In all likelihood, they really did just look down their noses at me and hate me and an innocent, beautiful baby that much. Whatever the truth of it is, I just wanted to see my family and have them meet my baby.

 

As for the real story, the one those cold, snotty, selfish, self-absorbed, materialistic, empty, plastic, shallow little nitwits never knew or got straight, was that my daughter’s father, and his ex and myself, had a bit of a 3 -way relationship going when we had all first met.  The first time I had sex with Eric, that was a three -way situation involving his ex, with her permission, right there. The three of us. You may not like it, or agree with it, but at one point, I loved both Eric and Renee at the same time. I used to spend hours drawing beautiful murals on her back in different colored pens when we hung out: fairies and flower gardens.  She broke my heart and is the reason I never got into anything close to a relationship with a woman ever again beyond fooling around.

 

Almost a year later, when Eric showed up on my front porch, he lied and said he and Renee were no longer together.  I broke up with him when I found out they were still together, then briefly was back together with him for less than a week when I believed him saying they really were breaking up this time, which was when I conceived Lily, before he broke up with me again, changing his mind once more and wanting to stay with Renee. Get your story straight. I’m not a cheater, I’m just Pansexual and experimented with Poly relationships when I was very young.

I told him I was pregnant, and he walked out, because Renee was pregnant too. Lily was born 5 months after her half-sister, and way too many people on all sides of the family took it out on her, as if her existence was the problem and not their behavior and viciously cold choices in the situation.

 

I didn’t attend that family reunion with my baby in LA, of course. My gorgeous Lily and myself obviously weren’t welcome, wanted or loved. I probably should have known better.  My Aunt Becky and Uncle Robby flat-out called me a liar about my first rape case in Missoula in 2005 and asked to see the court records as proof, so these were just not very nice people I was quickly finding out. 

 

I overdrew my bank account to get a motel room in one of the cheapest, and unfortunately unsavorily ghetto and unsafe areas of downtown until I felt well enough to drive all the way home the next day. 

 

A couple years later, I was handmaking Christmas cards for everyone in Fresno and some family in other places, like my grandma in Merced. Some were collages, and others had hand-drawn scenes on them.  For the first time since that doomed trip to LA with Lily as a baby, I contacted my Grandfather Jess. Nobody had yet met her in person from LA after what had happened, so I made him a card and sent it to him with a photo of Lily Belle.

 

A couple of weeks later, I received a response. I was surprised, but touched, thinking that maybe seeing a photo of his only blood great grandchild that he had left on the street with her mom years earlier had moved him.  I opened the envelope, and there was a single piece of note paper, with his writing, “Brianne- She’s cute. If you want her to be happy, keep her thin. – Jess”.  I never reached out to, nor spoke to my Grandfather again. When he died years later of Prostate cancer, I absolutely zero emotional reaction. Jess died as an angry, bitter, mean old man who never met Lily; instead believing I should have ended her life before it had a chance to begin. I never shed a single tear for him, and I never will. 

 

I ride roller coasters with endless loops and no end to the tracks in sight.  It’s a beautiful near-fall windy night in September 2018. The sky is partly cloudy, with light sprinkles falling down to kiss my scalp in a touch of coolness here and there; the wind caressing my hair around my face.  A few stars stubbornly shine through, and I fail hopelessly to identify any constellations that Doug tried to show me the last time he visited.

We had a great time hanging out and watching Rick & Morty; a show he quickly won me over into the fandom of.  Doug has gone, faded into the night on his long legs to walk home with his earbuds playing his music, after his sweet and awkward one-armed hug goodbye. He doesn’t give himself enough credit; yet another good guy who doesn’t seem to see himself or the beauty of his real smile in the moments he lets down his guard. He calls himself a Monster, but he isn’t one to me. When yet another dramatic situation with the Echelon went down, and a series of personal bullying that pushed me into crisis, Jared Leto and I had our last conversation, one that did not end well, and I did something I’ve never done before in my upset. In a moment of total loss of control, I put my head through my entire wall repeatedly. I wanted to kill myself, and may have, but then it was Doug who came over and hung out with me. I sat there on my bed, barely able to speak legibly, my face and forehead wounded and swollen, with a pretty obvious concussion, jerking and shaking, staring at what only I could see, in shock and heartbreak over the entire situation.  I don’t remember much, but I remember he played Gorillaz, and we watched the videos, as he told me about them and the animation history behind the concept of the band. Thinking about this, I try to nest down for the night, and that is when my mind starts on other things.

I can have a great night laughing with a friend, and then 20 minutes after he leaves, I’m sitting in my loneliness, haunted by my rape trauma.  I begin thinking about the current investigation to what happened to me in 2014.  In a flash, I’m upside in a triple flying corkscrews inverted to the ground, flung through water in an underground tunnel, and the thoughts flood my emotionally whiplashed mind. 

“Find a gun”

“Maybe I should just end it”

 “This is too much”

“I’m drowning in my life trauma”

“What people say about me”

“Oh God, what people say about me is only going to get worse”

 “What they are going to do to me on the stand”

“What they would do to me in the press”

“The things they will use against me, or dig up to destroy me”

“This nightmare will never end for me”

 “I lost my child.  I never had a real family, or marriage, or love, and I never will now”

 “All my dreams are dead”

 “I’m ruined forever”

 “Nobody will ever love me…I’ll be alone forever”

“I…just…want…peace…and…for…the…pain…to…stop…and…I…don’t…think… there…will…ever…really…be…any…other…way”

“Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be. As a friend, as a friend, as a known enemy.” Begins to flood into me from my playmix. Talk to me, Kurt.  Talk to me tonight.  With that thought, I glance at the clock, and it’s 1:11AM.

I look it up, like I have thousands of times before: Angel Numbers 101 Doreen Virtue- Angel number 111 “This number brings you the urgent message that your thoughts are manifesting instantly, so keep your mind-set focused upon your desires. Give any fearful thoughts to Heaven for transmutation.”

I am terrified. This is what I wish people would understand about rape. When you are going through the justice system, and when you speak out to anyone, even a close family member or friend, and are called a liar or shamed by stigma, the rape doesn’t end.

It’s been 4 ½ years, and I’m still being raped. 

I’m still being raped by every person who called me a liar.

I’m still being raped by every person who turned their back on me.

I’m still being raped by every person who knows I’m telling the truth and won’t speak up about anything they know.

I’m still being raped by the flaws in our justice system.

I’m still being raped by my PTSD.

I’m still being raped by every person who used to call me friend or family and claim love who has torn me apart to destroy my credibility and protect themselves or others who hurt me.

I’m still being raped by every apathetic person who treats me like I no longer exist.

I’m still being raped by every person who attacks me.

I’m still being raped by my own body which I’m not able to ever be comfortable in, or love.

I’m still being raped by my nightmares.

I’m still being raped by every memory there, and every memory missing to me except in the subconscious and on the cellular level. 

I’m still being raped by stigma.

I’m still being raped by the guilt I feel over other victims of some of my rapists.

I’m still being raped by my rapists every day they walk free.

Sing it, Kurt. “Rape me, rape me, my friend. Rape me, rape me again…”

When people call me a liar; I literally see stars and can see red, silver, flashes of black and blue, green. It’s like the word itself has not only an energy signature, but a color signature distinctive in my vision when my emotions to the pain, loneliness, rage, betrayal and fury of that accusation are triggered.

I will go there. I will make you uncomfortable in my truth and I will call out the elephant in the room. I will speak up about what everyone else wants to ignore and pretend isn’t an issue.  Nobody wants to deal with the topics that make them uncomfortable, upset them, trigger their own trauma, etc…and I understand that; there are things I can’t be exposed to due to my own PTSD.  However, sometimes it is necessary to expose yourself for the benefit of others. There’s a certain amount of strength, empowerment and healing gained in it.  Self-preservation and self-care on a level that results in the continued loss of life and lack of safety for yourself and others; with increased criminal activity and crime towards others, is not something that can be ignored as a social society norm that just “is the way it is” or is in any way acceptable. This goes for the apathy of religions contributing to rape statistics and stigma. 

Rape will never be prayed away.

Prayer gives you the strength to take the action to change yourself and the world for the better. Sit back waiting for a flying man in the sky to come rescue you, and you will be sorely disappointed.

I don’t want to talk about this. I don’t want to hear about this. I don’t want to think about what I’ve survived, or what you were put through. It’s horrific. It’s terrifying that people go through this and that people hurt others like this.  We need to anyway. We need to have open discussion. We need to confront this issue head on. The stigma around rape and sexual assault is so strong that it is literally costing people their lives and increasing both rape and suicide rates. 

The apathy of the public and the message put out in the media is playing a direct role in escalating this problem.  We need to sit in our fear, anger, pain, depression and anxiety so we can learn to live with it and be aware of how real this issue is continuing to be. Ignoring it, not speaking of it, shaming and isolating survivors, out-casting the ones who speak up and do report, covering for predators, believing that love and prayer will save others and prevent an offender from re-offending, is throwing this world and all of humanity into further chaos and destruction.

These issues fuel all areas of crime throughout the globe. Sex trafficking and prostitution are some of the biggest money-making criminal enterprises on the planet, followed by the drug trade; and the two often go hand-in-hand.  By being more vocal, getting out our emotions; our horror, disgust, fear and ignorance, and through action, we can finally bring real change and reform to this issue, and to PTSD, emotional and mental health disorders, and suicide. 

It’s all connected; these issues are all on the rise, especially in America, because this issue continues to go on without the real reform and change needed, and is hushed into secrecy unless the media will make money off the gruesome details and the headlines; or off of a beautiful, white little girl or young college student from a lovely, middle-to upper class Christian family. That is what our America has become, and that’s where the real shame is, not in the survivors of rape. 

I just feel that there is such an unnecessary lunacy happening, and where I live in Montana. Just think a moment, had the law been changed in 2005, making sexual assault a felony with a lengthy sentence and sex offender registry requirement, our crime rate, homeless rate, drug addiction rate and all around financial and sociological burden on the resources needed for the benefit of people like us who need them to survive wouldn’t be stretched thin to point of break and deceased. 

If a man is sentenced to 20 years in jail for felony sexual assault, instead of merely 6 months, then countless other potential victims would never become victims. Therefore, you’d have an immediate stop on that one offender from re-offending countless times in the community. This obviously lowers the crime rate in its own small accord, but then say 10 potential victims are never harmed. Therefore, you don’t have 10 more people in need of services like mental health treatment, crisis intervention, psychiatric admittance, hospital stays, etc… A majority of survivors go on to struggle with some form of drug or alcohol addiction as well.  Say 8 of those women would have ended up in need of eventual services from rehab centers, drug treatment and hospital treatments.  If those 8 women never got raped; the city of Missoula may have saved a good $1 million at least in the services needed to give the women the help they need for possibly the rest of their lives?

There’s so much concern about tourism, land development and the suffering programs that keep cutting services and going under, leaving more and more people like myself in the lurch; some literally dying on the streets.  It seems remarkably obvious to me that if 100 sexual offenders went to jail under a newly initiated law over the next year, then looking at the change of events down the future, it would end up sparing our struggling programs a lot of money, as well as free up the case load overwhelming the available professionals greatly over just the next decade.

With less victims of sexual assault and rape in our town due to proper laws for sexual offenses, the resources would also be more plentiful.  There simply wouldn’t be nearly as many women and children in need of so many services, freeing up time, money, resources and caseloads all around in all areas in our community. Not to mention the reduction in crime itself as these predators would no longer be walking the streets so often.

I realize that jail is also expensive, but in comparison, it still plays out in favor of everyone; from the safety of the public to the quality and availability of services. Then you start to see a change in people who are no longer as afraid, who are able to adequately access the health care and services needed to survive and thrive.  A change in the community begins to happen all around, and like a chain of events, the town begins to improve in all areas, and this actually increases and improves tourism, student enrollment and those wanting to establish themselves in business or move here.

A change in law would do so much. Sexual Assault should be a Felony in Montana, not a Misdemeanor.  It’s just ridiculous and absurd that the laws haven’t been changed. It’s 2018, and Missoula has been in the headlines of the press, including the cover of TIME magazine, and the focus of a best-selling book by Jon Krakauer for its rape issues. We have both one of the highest rape and suicide rates in the United States.

I’m watching my daughter’s YouTube video. She has a channel, where she calls herself “Wildstar”, and she is dancing to “Scars to Your Beautiful”.  The first time I saw this video; having not seen my child in almost 2 years, I sobbed hysterically until I went into an asthma attack and had to pump my inhaler.  I cried and cried, watching my gorgeous child dance, exclaiming aloud to the Angels and Spirits around me in that motel room how beautiful she was. I was so proud of her. 

I was living in an old motel room in the middle of nowhere Montana for 3 months during winter.  I arrived with my cat, bags of basic food supplies and my meager belongings thanks to the help of friends who gave us a lift for some gas money.  I was out there alone for 3 months, insane and trying to hide it, hearing voices and talking to Angels, Gods, Ghosts, Demons, Vampires and Goddesses. 

“I'm so happy 'cause today
I've found my friends,
They're in my head
I'm so ugly, that's okay, 'cause so are you.”- Nirvana “Lithium”

One night I found the dancing video on my daughter’s channel, and we all watched her dance. Me, and all my friends and tormentors, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Kurt Cobain and my Angels and numbers, whether real or not, stood there and watched with me, everyone talking about how amazing she was. Even the demons dared not speak a word against her beauty.  

I watch her videos often, and I like to run up the count for her. I am always watching over her in my own weird way, and I speak to her in my mind often.  As I watch her dance tonight, I smile at much she and I are alike.  I know how much work she put into her routine, and how she feels in that moment, for I used to do the exact same thing.

Growing up on Forist Lane, I used to talk my step-sister, Whitney, and two of our neighbor friends, Elizabeth and Alison, into doing singing and dancing routines. I’d charge up the project, one of the rare times that I played with the other kids and took command. I lit up when we did this kind of play.  We would pick our song, usually Paula Abdul, Wilson Philips, Madonna or Amy Grant, and I would go.  I would be center and front, of course, and we choreographed our moves, and tried to collect a neighborhood crowd that we would charge $0.25-.0.50 cents for the show.  The last part never went well, so we danced our hearts out mostly for ourselves. 

I never wanted to miss a chance to perform. It was one of my favorite things to do. Such a conundrum, to be such an awkwardly weird, introverted, isolated, dark and anti-social child, yet love the stage and spotlight.  I was involved in dance at Miss Denise’s, took voice lessons, piano, was involved in church and school choirs, and was participated in stage and musical theater in the community and at school. 

At age 9, in 5th Grade, we had a talent show. I designed my own outfit with an earth, surrounded by hearts and different colored hands intertwined in held love.  I choreographed my routine and danced and sang to Dolly Parton’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”.  At the end, I reached into my pockets, pulled out two handfuls of glitter and threw them into the air.

Watching my daughter dance again, I thought back through some of these memories, and of how I danced and sang with her to. We would gather every week to watch “Glee” together, and even had matching “I’m a Gleek!” shirts to wear at Christmas the last year she was with me.  We laid down our mattresses to recreate the “Jump!” scene.  She still remembers how she loved to sing the “Don’t Stand So Close” mash-up. I would swing her around to “Step in Time” from Mary Poppins.  Music and dance were a regular part of our daily lives from the start, despite my disabilities.  If I couldn’t dance, she would, or we would watch a musical together.  We sang a lot.

I remember the first time I took her to a musical. She was three years old, and we were living in Pennsylvania.  Most people would never dream of taking a three-year-old to a musical, and I normally wouldn’t have done something like that with my busy child, but Lily loved musicals. Music and dance touches both our souls. I knew she would be hypnotized, and so we dressed up, did our hair and put sparkles on our eyes to go see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.  A musical I played the role of the brother “Asher” in years ago, ironically. 

Lily watched, transfixed, gasping, smiling, swaying back and forth.  She danced in the aisle during intermission and told me she wanted to dance on stage like that when she grew up. Everyone around us thought she was the most adorable little girl. 

And that’s how it was with us and music. It wasn’t easy being a sick, disabled single mom to Lily. Most of the time, her father was not in our lives.  We had to spend a lot of time home because of my health issues, and lack of family or friend support system who was involved to help us how we needed.  We stayed home a lot, but we did art projects, and had fun making yummy food. We danced, sang, and created forts for ourselves, the kitties and her dolls. We made cardboard dollhouses and painted and decorated them. We put Christmas trees and stars on the walls and hung cut-out snowflakes from the ceiling with peace signs and hearts on the walls in twinkle lights.

We had fun, and I did my best. We were creative, and when I felt well, we travelled everywhere, were very physically active hiking in nature, camping, swimming in rivers and hot springs, and visiting all sorts of places.  I gave her some beautiful little experiences.

The music lit up my Lily and helped me raise her while she lived with me.  Lily danced in the aisles to every song when we went to see “This is It” On Imax after Michael Jackson passed away. She also danced during “Captain EO” at DisneyLand, which is exactly what I did when my father took me as a child.

It was the Dixie Chick’s “Lullaby” I sang to her in front of everyone at a huge family party when she was a baby, and it was The Beatle’s “Yellow Submarine” that was our special song; and the theme for her “Fab 4” birthday party, something else she still remembers.  We sang in the car, we sang when we went camping, we sang and danced at weekend festivals and concerts, we sang and danced at home, we sang at the park, and we sang to our cats. 

We sang to each other and when John Mayer crooned over and over on the mainstream radio, “Say what you need to say! Say what you need to say!” It was my hilarious 3-year-old daughter who said from her car seat in the back that he really needed to stop and eat a sandwich instead. My amazing daughter, Lily Belle, who is even named in part after a song by Frank Sinatra and The Charioteers. Myself, the Black Rose, so nicknamed by my ex-husband after a Trapt song.

We danced, and we sang. When all is dark; when all goes black, the music is there, and always will be.  We were musical flowers under a darkened sun.

 When I was a baby, someone threw oranges through my nursery window, and the glass shattered in shards that rained down inside my crib.  I had been taking a nap but woke up wailing.  I broke my normal routine, puzzling my mother, who removed me from my crib to comfort me. My mother loves babies, so there was no abuse to me in my infancy, aside from her disappointment over my gender.  A few minutes later, she heard the window shatter.  Inspecting my room, she found a huge shard of glass in the middle of crib, so large that it could have easily stabbed or torn me open, killing me.

That was the second time I escaped death, the first being my birth. I’m not sure why death has been on my tails my entire life, but we seem to have an oddly intertwined relationship that is beyond the norm and stretches into the paranormal. I realize I could have just woken up because I was a baby and I woke up for some reason screaming. I believe something protected and guided me into waking up, screaming until I was removed from that crib to escape possible death.

The first paranormal experience I can remember happened when I was 11 years old.

Growing up, I always attended Calvin Crest Conferences Summer Camp for a week every summer. Calvin Crest was my heaven. It was a Christian camp, as I was raised Presbyterian in Merced, and it was my favorite time of the entire year. It was the only week that I felt safe, truly happy and really loved and accepted by the staff who worked there. I was always that kids who gravitated, bonded to and stuck close to an adult, or was off on my own with my books. I loved to spend as much time as I could in the art hut. I would sit for hours laughing and chatting with the counselors and listening to the kids who came and went in their cliques for short art sessions. I would get comfortable with a few kids, but nobody stands out in my mind, nor do I remember having a friend I made that I ran around with any year that I attended.  

I loved that art hut. I dipped my own candles, beaded jewelry, painted and created all kinds of critters from fimo clay. I even made a hilarious American themed Sumo wrestler that ended up being featured in the camp video one year. Another year, I painted different scenes in all the windows in the upper teenage camp’s art hut.  Every year I’d go back, I’d check to see if my art was still on those windows, seeing the fading and chipping, until it was gone and redone one year. I’d cart around my chocolate, books and headphones with CD player and just art away or sneak back to the cabin the curl up and read with my snacks. Eventually as a teenager, I was a camp counselor 2 summers in a row.

Camp was safe. Camp had great food, atmosphere, nature, art and music. We put on talent shows and had worship every night. At that time in my life, I was a deeply devoted Christian. I loved worship, I loved God and I loved Jesus Christ. Let me rephrase that in a slightly different way. I am a Wiccan now, but I still love God, Jesus Christ and musical worship, just not in the conventional way of the Christian church.  I am spiritual, with a dash of the positive aspects of Christian morals that abscond from in any way following the religion itself.

Nobody abused me at Camp.  It was the only time of the entire year that I felt like I could truly breath, and I was desperately anxious and depressed when it was time to go home.

In August of 1993, I was staying at the Sherwood Forest kids lower camp.  One night, I woke up crying. The counselor awoke immediately and rushed to me, trying to comfort me and then ushering me outside to the picnic table so I wouldn’t wake everyone else, as I was getting louder and couldn’t calm down. I was pretty hysterical and telling the counselor that I needed to call my mom because something really bad had happened, and she needed to come get me and take me home. The counselor, believing I was homesick and had a nightmare, took me down to the main hall to see some other staff higher up on the authority bracket.

They didn’t call my mom, not wanting to disturb her in the middle of the night, still believing I had a nightmare and just needed comfort.  Calvin Crest was my favorite place in the world growing up, and my Merced was my worst nightmare, yet I was asking to go home. I was not homesick, I can assure you that.  I was always jealous of the people who lived at Calvin Crest year-round.

The counselors calmed me down, and I was walked back up the hill in the night by flashlight to the cabin, and tucked into my bunk gently, with reassurance and love that I never got at home.

When my mom’s SUV slowly rolled down the dirt road into camp the next day, the dust billowing behind and around her, my heart sunk. I knew. I didn’t know who, or what, but I knew. She told me that she had to take me home, because something had happened.

Back at home, my mom informed me that my Godfather, a dentist in Merced named Dr. Mark Conley, had been hiking with Greg in Yosemite, about an hour or two from where I was at camp. Mark slipped on black ice and fell off the cliff.  They were still searching for his body. He had fallen the afternoon before my mom picked me up; before the night I woke up crying at camp. He literally died mere hours before a couple hours away from me.  Greg had been lost in the woods after trying to find him, but eventually found his way out after spending the night there.

A couple days later, my mom came into my room, and sat me down on my bed. She told me Mark’s body had been found; that he fell into an ice fissure at the bottom of the cliff and broke his back on the way down. She told me that when he snapped his back, that was likely what killed him, so he was dead before he hit the ice below.

My mother then got on her knees in front of me, put her hands on mine and looked at me.

“I know tomorrow is your birthday, but Mark’s funeral is tomorrow.”

She paused and looked at me. I looked back, then looked down at my feet, tears swelling in my eyes.

“We’ll celebrate your birthday next week, ok?”

I shook my head. My mom patted my knee.

“I’m sorry, Bri”.

She got up and left the room.

The next day I turned 12 years old and spent my birthday at my Godfather’s funeral at Central Presbyterian Church, and his memorial service, among the mourners all day.

I have one brief memory, of sitting in the church pew, surrounded by all the sadness, tears and grief. The rest of the day is gone.

I still don’t understand where they were that had that much ice in the middle of August, and every time I have tried to question my mother about Mark’s death, she either ignores me, changes the subject, or gets angry with me.

Maybe I’m wrong, and Mark really did slip, but I haven’t trusted Greg’s story about what happened since my mom told me. 

The last confrontation I had with my mother, I told her that I might be wrong, but I don’t trust Greg’s story about Mark Conley, and think he may have pushed him, especially given private family details that had been a scandal in our church recently which my mom told me about as a child.

My mom quickly texted back, “You stop saying that right now.”

I responded, “No. I will never let you back me down into submission and silence again”.

The last text I got from my mom, and the last words I’ll ever read or hear from her ever again:
“I’ll have nothing to do with this, or with you, ever again”.

 

 My mom left my dad when I was a baby. He came home from work one day to find the house empty and note on the table.  My mom took me to go be with Greg, whom she’d been having an affair with, or as my dad puts it,

“Your mother was fucking another man, she took you with her and you went to Hell”.  Thanks, Dad.

The first abuse I can remember happened when I was around 3 years old. We were living at what we called “The Green House”.  I remember my mom left for some reason, and I didn’t want her to leave, so I was upset and crying.  Greg lost his temper and smacked me. I was on the floor, and he pulled me by my hair, hitting me and then tossing me into the corner for “time-out”. 

A lot of the beatings and attacks happened when nobody else was around, and I used to beg my mom not to leave and go with her friends to Pleasanton to go shopping and get her hair done. As I got older, and John and Whitney moved in, Greg abused me, and sometimes John, openly in front of others, even in public.  

What he did in the privacy of the home behind closed doors was far worse.  Whitney, I remember was the one he loved to grab the most. She was always having her butt pinched, smacked, rubbed, touched, etc…and called “Ms. Buns”.  That was even written on her birthday cake one year.  I used to get touched when I younger, but that seemed to pass onto Whitney after she lived with us, and as I got “fat”. 

One time after I was abused, my mom took me Montessori school, and I was unable to move my neck properly. I was in a lot of pain, and I remember it like yesterday. I remember the fish tank, the layout of the rooms, that we read the book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” and watched “The Magic Schoolbus”.  I remember that we blew bubbles in the backyard.  I remember that I could barely turn my head from side to side and kept talking about how much it hurt. My mom told the caregivers who ran the center that I had merely slept wrong.

Years later in life as an adult, I was receiving care from a pain management specialist. He began to feel my neck and ask questions. Suddenly he stopped,

“When did you have your car accident?”

I was flabbergasted.

“I’ve never been in a car accident”.

The Doctor’s face clouded over, different emotions suddenly dancing across him, sadness then obvious hidden controlled brief upset and rage.

“Who hurt you then, because you have permanent whiplash equivalent to a 100-mph car accident”.

“I was abused as a child”.

“We’ll get you going on pain meds. I’m sorry that happened to you.”

There were times with my mother when she was downright magickal. She radiated and was engaging. She could appear to be the kindest, most compassionate, loving and protective mother, caregiver and friend.  Truly, there were times I thought she was my best friend, and felt she made me feel so special, that I thought we’d turned a corner and she had changed her ways. Then she’d attack out of nowhere, over anything, nothing, everything.  It was confusing; especially when the abuse cycled back.  My mom could literally go from sparkling, with her huge teethy smile and laugh commanding the energy of the moment to all black clouds and harsh “I’m not discussing this, and I’m not going to allow you to undermine me any further with your drama, you are such a problem to me” speak, over my asking a simple question.  She would be dark again; cold, distant, biting and cruel. Abusive. She even had a nickname she proudly monogrammed on her jogging cap: Snapper. I would apologize, but truly have no idea what I really even did or said that was so horrible or wrong. I felt crazy and guilty. Everything was my fault all the time, and I was so horrible, that I made people hurt me in the worst ways.

 

This is a woman who beat my older adopted step-brother with a wooden spoon and belt when she found Counting Crows, “August and Everything After” album hidden under his bed.  Another favorite album, by the way.  “Round Here” has probably saved my life more times than I can count, and that entire album has seen me through a lot of darkness. It’s interesting that I discovered it due to my mother’s abuse, and 25 years later, I still listen to it on a regular basis to help me cope with my issues. As I write this, I pause, go to put on the song, and at the first notes and the sound of Adam’s voice, I begin to cry.

 

I remember that day, and how my mom beat my brother, then, while screaming and yelling, broke the CD in half in front of him. 

 

Years later, when I was 17, and Counting Crows was touring with Live (another favorite band of mine, so I really freaked out over that tour!), it was my Grandma LaNell who took me to see them play in Berkeley, CA.  How that must have infuriated my mother, that not only did I make that album one of my favorites, defiantly listening to it on a regular basis as a teenager, but my mom’s mom took me to see them. In all fairness, I did ask my mom to go with my first. She said no, so my Grandma stepped in.  I hoped my mom could find the beauty and healing in the music beyond her judgment. I thought I could reach her somehow, and we could build a mother-daughter memory together.

 

My Grandma, ever adorable and the coolest senior citizen ever, showed up in one of her handmade outfits, a pink sweat-suit with a butterfly and heart cutout of some kind and a little bow on the front that she sewed together herself.  My Grandma used to make and sell clothes at craft fairs for years before old age made it too difficult, so she was wearing one of her own creations.  As we sat there, wafts of marijuana floated back to us, and my Grandma simply said, “Well, someone is having a good time.”

 

When Ed Kowalczyk jumped down onto the stage, screaming into his microphone, my Grandma was cool as school.  The only thing she complained about was how far away we had to park down the hill to get back afterwards. I’m not saying my Grandma LaNell is Superwoman, but nobody has seen my Grandma and Superwoman in the same room at the same time.

 

I’m not sure what my mother expected in me, but people say certain traits skip a generation, and evidently the rebellious strength that my Grandma LaNell carried with her passed to me. She was the first female Student Body President of Merced High School, the first woman to wear a two-piece bikini to the public pool at Merced College (and get kicked out), and she travelled alone through Paris and Europe at age 18 for study and vacation.  Nobody was stopping me from making that Counting Crows/Live concert, not even my mother, and my Grandma helped make sure of that. My Grandma is a woman who would smoke her cigarettes next to me outside in her backyard while I smoked my medical marijuana.

 

That night in Berkeley ended up being one of the best of my entire life, and I’ll forever be grateful to my grandma for that special memory together.

 

I'm trying to fall asleep but my mind just keeps going again.

I watch videos online. It’s 4am of yet another sleepless night, and I watch a mother cat feeding baby hedgehogs. I watch a little girl who is missing a leg yet killing it as a gymnast. I watch a dog that is protective over his human’s new baby and cuddles him. I watch babies giggle at their own farts and I laugh at memes. I trip through Alice in Chains on a low dose of shrooms once in a blue moon and I cuddle my cat. 

But darkness creeps in once more, and I keep thinking about my mom tonight. I don't understand how I couldn't see this like I should have before. Maybe it was so indoctrinated to be normal to us that we accepted and believed, or at least I did, that that must be how all families are.

I don't think it's normal now.

I lay in bed and let the images surface. I allow them, and try to recognize that are there, to accept them, they are part of me, but not give them the power to own me.

I remember my mom being so rough on our hair that my sister would literally throw up in the bushes in the front yard every morning, while my mom kept braiding. That she secretly fed my sister venison meatballs saying it was hamburger, then taunted my sister to tears after she ate them, because deer were her favorite animal, and she wouldn't eat venison by choice. I will forever remember my mom leaning into my 6-year-old sisters face across the table after asking her if she knew what she had just eaten and braying, “BAAAAAMBIII!!!!” before cackling at the top of her lungs like it was the funniest inside joke in history.

I remember that she beat one of my brothers so hard with a wooden spaghetti spoon, that all the pasta holding parts sticking out the other side fell out of the spoon. Every single one. I remember that she had my first cat, Poofy, shot in the head, then did nothing while she watched me search the neighborhood for him for months. I found out later as a teenager. I remember that she and Jim took away and killed another one of my kittens, Molly. I remember that she would put my cat, Jake, in the carrier in the driveway and tell me she was taking him to the pound to be killed if I didn't do as she told me.

One winter, my younger brother falling through ice into a pond during winter down the slope at a friend’s ski cabin. I pulled him out, made him take his shirt off, and had us give him dry layers, then hauled ass up the hill to get my mom. My mom just said, "He'll be fine" and walked away. Never even checked on her son.

I remember being left alone on a triple black diamond mogul ski slope when I was like 8 or 9, abandoned there, crying and afraid to find my own way down alone, after being forced to go on it in the first place. Eventually I very slowly did the widest pizzas possible down and made it alone.

I remember how my mom brought supplies home from the hospital and would treat me at home. I spent a far above average amount of time out of school, to my memory, I was a sick a lot.  My mom would treat me, (something she also did for herself, even bringing home IV equipment she stole from the hospital or my stepfather’s offices. She had me how to inject her with narcotic pain medication in her thigh a few times). 

I would sleep on the sleeping bag in her room sometimes, but this would really irritate Greg.  It was a difficult situation, and eventually I had surgery to have my tonsils and adenoids out, after which I wasn’t as ill as often.  The only time I felt like maybe my mom loved me was when I was ill, because those were only times I received anything close to affection and what I perceived to be any actual love.

But it wasn’t about me or love. It was about looking good for herself, and it about the simple fact that my mother loves being a nurse. I wasn’t really her “daughter”, I was something to play with. My mother never once sat and just held or cuddled me, nor spent time with me during these times of illness. Even after my surgery, after I was brought home and put in bed, I was just left alone. I remember recovering mostly alone except for checks or administration of medication. My mother is not a Registered Nurse because she genuinely loves people and wants to help take care of them, though most people think that’s the truth about her.  That’s the magic of a narcissist’s mask.

The kids didn’t hang out with me. One of my mother’s friends, Mrs. Medefind, was someone who seemed to adore me, or at least she made me feel that way. Not a lot of people did, and I adored her too.  She brought me a gift. I remember that. For some reason, despite my issues, she seemed to have a soft spot for me. Years later her son would survive an incredible event when he was mugged while attending Westmont College, and stranger appeared to save him, before disappearing inexplicably.  Angels exist. When I was a child, I remember her as one I saw as Angelic. Perhaps God was returning the favor on a night her son needing help for all the kindness she showed me.

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Comment by MARGARIDA MARIA MADRUGA on November 3, 2018 at 6:10pm

There are whole lives or much of a life that we can not understand by looking only at the material, logical side.
We will only be able to conclude a reason by looking with the eyes of spirituality.

Comment by Linda M. on October 17, 2018 at 8:18pm

You don't realize you are stronger then you know.  You've lived through this and more.  It doesn't help now, but I tend to think your mom may have also been abused when she was young.  Abuse tends to run in cycles, you also may have some of her mental problems.  Where you tend to face everything head on, she tried to push it on a back burner, until she exploded. 

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