The Bad Man Never went to Jail

The first time the bad man touched me, it was the summer before my 8th birthday. I can’t recall exactly how it all began, but I can remember that his overwhelming power of affection tricked me into believe that it was ‘okay.’

His greasy, long gray hair was always pulled back in a pony tail, while the top part of his head, slightly bald, was always covered by a red hat that bore the band name Slipknot. I didn’t understand what was going on, except that I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone. I was never threatened, but it made me giggle to keep a secretwhich I knew later on was bad.

For a whole year or possibly two this man proceeded to abuse me. Since then, I’ve blocked out a lot of my childhood to the point where I hardly remember anything between second and fourth grade. I do remember the time when I received a C on a project about the Pilgrim’s voyage that took me weeks to complete and how disappointment filled every nook and cranny of my body. Other than that, I don’t remember a lot.

Eventually, the man left the house. Literally one day I came home from school, and he was gone. Vamboosh with a clump of cash he stole from my mom. Cops were called, they took the story of his theft, but my lips were sealed on his other deeds he did because I was afraid in that moment that my mom would be really mad at me. Looking back that was silly of me. The bad man was never caught. The bad man never went to jail.

I’m okay now. See, a few years ago I heard a life-changing message about how we can’t truly experience all of God’s blessings when we have old junk, like hurts and bitterness, overcrowding our hearts. In that altar call, I said I forgave the man who touched me in inappropriate ways. I asked God to take away that burden that I carried around for years. I never found the courage to tell people what happened because, well honestly it was hard for me to trust anyoneespecially men. The first person I told was one of my best guy friends at the time (who I actually later dated for a month or so before we decided that we were better off as just friends). He hugged me and told me that he was sorry for what happened to me. We really bonded in that moment.

I’m not writing this for sympathy, please don’t give me any sympathy because it makes me feel awkward. But I’m writing this because I know there is someone out there who has experienced what I have, I know they’re probably scared to talk to someone about it, but let me say that telling someone trustworthy is the first step to dropping that unbearably high burden. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone, anyone, how much hurt someone has caused you. I lost a part of my innocence in a way I never wanted to, and I’ll never get that back.

This reminds me of the term kintsugi, known as the Japanese art form for repairing broken pottery. According to Wikipedia, when a piece of pottery is broken a mixture of gold, silver, or platinum is created to form bondage, or scar if you will, along the seams which basically “stitches” it back together. This treats the breakage/repair as part of the history of the object verse something to disguise.

Someday, if it’s meant to be, I’ll find someone who’ll see my battle scars, my golden cracks, and will still find beauty (but if not, I’m not too worried about it either).
Don’t let your scars define you. Let those golden cracks shine your inner beauty.

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October Twenty-third

It meant they were talking about one and only one thing possible.

“Grace?” Jeanie asked.

I turned back to face her and Molly. The two other girls that rode my bus. I was good friends with Jeanie, since first grade. And me and Molly had our moments where we were friends. Other times we couldn’t stand each other.

“Hmm?” I asked, turning to face her.

“Why are those three up there?” Jeanie asked, wondering the same as Molly.

“Yeah, Sting, Mae, and Jon?” Molly asked.

I turned to face the three conspirators again. “I don’t know…”

Lie.

I knew what was going on. Mae and Sting had told me. It didn’t really surprise me about Sting. He was known for this shit. So was Jon. And ever since I moved back, Mae had started doing stuff I had never imagined my childhood best friend to do…

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I stepped off onto the side walk. Everyone followed me off the bus. I turned to see if Mae was coming, walking inside with me and Jeanie like she did every morning.

I caught Sting’s eye as he walked down the side walk with Jon and Mae to the corner. Every morning I would watch Jon and Sting walk down that side walk. Going to take a hit to try and catch a minimum high from the hell their real lives really were.

I knew a lot about Sting. We had been good friends. We were really close. He had seen me cry at my lowest, and laugh at my highest. We talked to each other about everything. And I’ll admit, at the end there, I kind of liked him. It was something about his charm.

“Don’t get caught!” I yelled, joking but being serious.

So when he looked at me, he smiled and nodded towards the school. As if to tell me ‘Calm down and get to class.’ I just looked at him and nodded, as if to say ‘Don’t get caught…’

Sting had promised me before. “I won’t get caught. I promise”

I learned that promises from a stoner mean nothing if it means giving up their drugs to keep a friend…

I looked over at Mae, she didn’t see me, but I saw the fear in her eyes. I also saw the excitement that quickly swallowed the fear.

She turned her head, and I walked around the corner, making the three disappear. If I would have known that was the last time I saw that crooked smile, I would have hugged him. I would have told him good-bye. If I would have known that was the last time I saw my best friend Mae for a long, long time, I would have told her to stop, and come back.

But I didn’t. I watched Sting and Jon suck Mae up with them. Into the world of drugs…

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I smiled and said, “Ha! No!”.

Jeanie laughed back. “What ever.”

We walked out of the front doors of the high school. Another day in the hell hole, another day of fun on the bus. Laughing and flirting and screaming and joking. My favorite part. Then I switch buses, and sit and talk to Sting or Mae quietly and seriously.

Even though none of us were the same age (Me, freshman, Mae, sophomore, Sting, junior) we got along just like we had known each other forever… Which we basically had.

I stood at the bus stop. Where were they…?

I looked down the street, right in front of the house where they got all of their stuff. The stuff that a week ago, Sting and Jon made a pipe out of a bottle and smoked right in front of me.

No one was there. I looked up to the part of the school where kids would wait for their parents and, I’ve never told anyone this, I saw Sting standing there.

It was a Friday, his Grandma would come and pick him up. So I didn’t question it. But there was a look in his eyes. A worried look.

We had gotten close enough in the past three months, that I knew when something was wrong. I saw in his eyes the worry as he talked on a phone. Who’s phone it was, I don’t know. He had his guitar slung over his shoulder.

I shook my head and looked away. I didn’t want him to see me worrying. Apparently I freaked out too much…

I looked around at the bus stop. I didn’t see Mae… Not even that snake Jon… I had a part of me that made my stomach twist. I knew something was wrong. And I didn’t know yet, but I was right…

_______________________2 WEEKS LATER_______________________

I sat on Holly’s bed, starring at my phone as it beeped. Damn thing was almost dead.

“Shit!”, I said, getting mad.

“What?”, Holly said, drying her hair, coming out from her bathroom.

“My phone. Its almost dead.” I threw it on her bed and went to sit on her floor again, going through some old papers she had wrote.

My mind had been racing lately. I hadn’t seen Mae or Sting in a long time.

According to Sting’s sister, they were expelled. They had got caught smoking. I was so scared. I cried. Two of my oldest, closest friends gone in half a heart beat. The day I found out, I floated through school, waiting for one of them to come down the hall. But it wouldn’t happen. I went home that night and cried.

Tears flooded down my face. No one knew that I spent that night crying myself to sleep.

I laughed and my phone made the sound it does when I get a text. I ignored it, still talking to Holly. Then it beeped again. I went to go shut it off; when I saw the text I had forgotten. It was from Mae.

Hey. I need to talk to you.

Mae?!?! What’s going on? Where have you and Sting been?

I’ve been sick. Don’t tell people I got expelled. It’s a rumor.

My phone died at that point. I wanted to cry. I knew Mae was lying. I knew what had happened. And I knew that Mae knew too. But neither of us admitted that we both knew.

Sophie, Stings sister, said that the court date was Wednesday. I told her to tell me what happened. She said it would be at the school.

That night, my phone started ringing.

“Jeanie?” I answered.

“Guess who I just saw while I was at the musical.”

“…Who?”

“Sting.”

My heart skipped a beat. Sting. People thought I was emotional through this whole thing because I liked him. Yeah, there was that. But he was so close to me. He was my big, protective brother. The one that flirted with me.

“What’s going on…?” I asked, breathlessly.

“Grace… He’s expelled…”

I don’t really remember the rest of the conversation. I wanted to hang up and cry. I wanted to curl up. I didn’t know if this meant Mae was gone too. Mae, my best friend, might be gone.

I never even got to say good-bye.

_________________________________________________________

I dragged myself up. I didn’t want to go. I waited at the end of my drive way. Not texting like I usually did, even this early. I had started staying away from people. I was sick of letting my trust out, and having people steal it, with out ever bringing it back…

I got on the bus and smiled at the bus driver. I turned my head and saw Mae. She was smiling.

My mouth dropped and I screamed. “Maeee!!!!!!!!” I ran and hugged her. We hugged and I felt like crying. My best friend was back.

Jon came back, but Sting never did. There are a lot of things I never really got to say to him. And I regret that ever single day of my life.

Mae wrote her side. And I thought that you should know my side too. Not as one of the people who were caught, but the one that was affected from the outside…

As I laughed, I turned my head. I was wondering why Mae was up by Jon. Especially when we spent most of our time on this yellow tin box yelling at him to leave us alone. Sting had told me that he would keep Jon away from me, but it was hard when the past two mornings he would slither up to Jon and Mae and talk to them. Being strangely quiet. Not exaggerating things to make people notice his antics like he usually did.

written by Margaret Whitson, life-long friend, childhood neighbor.

Brother Special

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Bub: few months-ish, Me: 4 or 5 years old

Once upon a time, when I was around five and six, I often times would take care of my brother. I changed his diaper. I usually dressed him if he needed to be. Thankfully I never had to feed him (eww to burping a baby). So my brother and I developed our own form of communication     oh yes, whatever he said I understood clear as day, while my mom or any other adult would turn to me after he said something, “What did he just say?” Then I had to translate. See, my brother, who is mentally impaired (mentally handicapped, mentally retarded…whatever you want to call it) had, and still has, a slight speech impediment. His words are…mumbled…that’s the best way to describe it. He was the annoying person who always received more attention from my mom, so I often times envied him, but yet at the same time he was my best friend and it didn’t matter if he was “special.”

As we grew older our relationship always fluctuated. At times we’d do things together as a brother and sister. Other times I’d have to take on more of a parental role, because my mom worked long hours to put food on the table. Then other times I completely despised him because through my eyes, he got all the “good stuff” no rules applied to him, you know things that upset a child. But in the end, we’ve eventually would come together and take on our usual relationship: I pick on you, you pick on me, punch-each-other-in-the-shoulders kind or relationship.

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Bub: about 3 years old

Then when I went off to college, our relationship changed very dramatically. All of a sudden I had no idea what to do without a brother. I had no one to poke fun at. So when I’d come home it was hardcore “meanness.” As I spent less time at home, he started growing up: rapidly. He grew taller than me. His facial hair filled in. His shoulders broadened. He was growing into a man (yes, it does make me sad a little, because that means I’m getting old!).

About a week ago, out of no where I come out of my room dressed very nicely for a job interview. He comes out of his room about the same time to get something to eat. He smiles when he looks at me, “Angel. You look very beautiful.” I’m caught completely off guard, “Why thank you, Bub.” I’ve been called beautiful or pretty by men before, so it’s not like the first time I’ve heard it (shocking, I know!!), but when my brother, who thinks girls are gross, called me beautiful, it was a very vivid moment for me: my brother is growing into such a nice gentleman.

Snapchat--6188996922673124564Then tonight, as him and I took our dogs for a walk to get some exercise in, I told him that we both need to take showers tonight before church prayer tomorrow. His response, “Well ladies go first, so you can have the shower first.” I’m blown away by how sweet he is. My mom and I both have tried to teach him throughout the years how to be a gentleman, like opening doors for folks and always being nice in general, and since I’ve been home for the summer, I’ve realized how much he’s grown up in the last 4 years that I’ve been away at college. I’m so proud of him.

I had someone ask me why I believed in a God when my brother turned out the way he is. I was thrown off by this person blatantly stating there was no God, and that my brother is proof of it. I didn’t have a good response for that person, and I’m embarrassed to say so. But as I’ve witnessed my brother growing up, I have no doubt that there is a God. See, every child is born for a purpose, so every child born is perfect in the will of God. I’m so blessed to have Bub.

If I didn’t have my brother, I would never have had the chance to learn how to communicate with someone who doesn’t talk like myself. I usually don’t have many issues comprehending accents or speech impediments. Bub taught me to enjoy life at a slower pace. Anyone who knows him, knows he’s slow as molasses on a winter day when he does ANYTHING. Even if he’s told to pick up the pace, he’s still pretty slow. Bub showed me that sticks are great swords, and that dinosaurs are legit. I learned the value of a hug when he hugged me goodbye. Most of all, Bub taught me how to smile at the most trivial things even if I just want to punch a wall    he’s literally the most funny guy I know. God blessed me with a brother that can uplift me when I need it. And even if he is a little mentally impaired, he’s one-of-a-kind-special: brother special.

To Dad: Love, me

Growing up, one of the faint memories of my father that I could recall was him being lugged away in handcuffs by two tall, strong looking police officers, because he was so intoxicated that he started fighting with Linda, his girlfriend at the time. I don’t remember much of that day except that earlier that evening I was riding on Brownie (not the horse’s real name, but I called any brown horse “Brownie,” Black horses “Blackie” etc…). Brownie was one of the many trail horses that was at the stables that my dad and Linda managed [or something like that], and every day Junior or Marco (Linda’s sons) would take me out on the trail rides. It was always a highlight of my day, and at the end of every ride I was given some money to buy myself a grape soda from the vending machine that was placed by the stables

Obvious to say, my dad wasn’t a huge part of my life after that incident. Once in awhile I’d see him, and say “Hi Dad” really enthusiastically, because I was starving for him to accept me into his life and treat me like I was his. I could never comprehend why he didn’t live with my mom like everyone else’s parents did. I could never understand why he didn’t say “I love you” back. And most of all, I couldn’t understand as to why I wasn’t allowed to ever stay with him again. I didn’t know the term alcohol and what it sometimes did to people.

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Feeding the Pigeons, Puerto Rico August 2012

Eventually I just grew numb to the fact that my father wasn’t a part of my life. I didn’t care too much. But I was a rather bitter child towards men. My mom would date a few guys throughout the years, many of which expected me to follow their authority, while not handing out any form of love or warmth towards me or my brother.

Let’s fast forward now.

Puerto Rico Trip 2014 017It was sometime after I started working at McDonald’s that my dad was all of a sudden in my life again. I can’t picture the exact day it happened, but it suddenly did. He was stopping my fairly regularly at McDonald’s to get coffee or a Big Mac meal, all to say “Hi” to me or to ask me how my day was going. I never ignored him. I just accepted him that he was back in my life. I never held a grudge over him, but I finally was able to forgive him for dis-including himself in the early years of my life (if that makes sense).

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Third time in Puerto Rico, June 2015

Suddenly I found myself making plans to go to Puerto Rico with him: this was one of his promises he always made to me when I was a kid, that he would take me to Puerto Rico.

To Dad: I know you weren’t on board at first, but I thank you for coming back into my life again. I know life wasn’t always easy for you, but I’m glad that God had his hand on you.
To Dad: I know you’re getting old, but I still hope that you can walk me down the aisle someday and give me away to a man. But if that never happens, I’ll still think of you on that day. Thanks for having two older sons, and teaching them what it is to be a hardworking man, and showing me that with dedication I can accomplish anything.
To Dad: I’ve forgiven you for everything of our past, and I hope you can forgive me for not loving you at times. I still pray that someday you will find another woman, but if not, I hope you live the last of your days content.
To Dad: I wish you would come to church with me, maybe just maybe, you could overcome your addiction to alcohol and cigarettes. I dislike that you hack up a long from your constant chain smoking.
To Dad: Thanks for teaching me Spanish and speaking to my family members that didn’t speak much English.
To Dad: I wish you could have taught me how to fish or fix a car. I learned from my mom, which I still appreciate, but I wish we could have spent some father-daughter time together. But thanks for fulfilling your promise to me and taking me to meet my other half of the family. I love them all.
To Dad: most of all, thanks for being more than just a biological donor. Thanks for stepping up and taking that role of fatherhood, sometimes it’s better late than never.
To Dad: Happy Father’s Day. Feliz dia de los Padres. Te amo mucho.

Love, me

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October Friday

Six years ago, on Friday October 23rd, my life changed drastically. It was a day where rumors took root and blossomed their way from student to student. But to me, it was a day where my life was saved from the horrible monsters that had a stronghold on me.

I was a sophomore in high school. I was a cool kid. Okay, more like I imagined myself to be a cool kid, because you know how teenagers can be so egotistical. My every day life, everything I did, I did for the soul purpose of appearing cool to my fellow peers. Fortunately, that life wasn’t for me. God had a better plan.

They day started out normal enough. Only, I had a slight change to my uniform schedule. My so-called friends and I had a plan. A secret plan. Only I never realized it then how I was the only one willing to lay down my life before uttering any speck of the plan to any outsider. The guys, not so much. Sting had no issue bragging about our plan to anyone that road our bus. James was a bit on the quiet side, but everyone knew his reputation. Everyone knew Sting’s reputation. My friend Peggy knew all about our plan. If she judged, I knew not.

As we road on our bus together towards the school, we exchanged looks. I was nervous. Nervous for who would see me walking with these two boys. Nervous for school. Nervous for what could happen. Sting, James, and I talked in hushed whispers. Laying out the final details. We knew we would have about fifteen minutes prior to the first bell notifying us that our feet must be inside the school doors.

Once the bus pulled alongside the curb next to the school we made sure we were the last three to leave. We crossed the street away from the school and towards the spot. Our spot. Just before we got to the corner of the building that marked where our spot was, Sting’s friend Drake caught up with us. Three’s company turned into four. We ducked behind the building, and behind the dumpsters that hid us from the parking lot of the school.

Sting pulled out a small pipe; James pulled out the little baggy that held the little bit of green. Sting started. Pipe. Green. Lighter. Light. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. Breathe. Then James. Then Drake. I was last. I coughed as I exhaled.
A numbness overtook me with what seemed only in seconds, although it was probably minutes later. A sort of happiness overtook me. But only momentarily. Regret claimed the rest.

We trudged back to the school. The rest of the day just sort of blurred by. It moved but was unaware of the world spinning forward. Suddenly the school officer was at the door and my name was being uttered. My classmates looked confused like it wasn’t my name that wasn’t supposed to be called. I was a good student. I was quiet. Shy. Why was I the cow being lead to slaughter?

Questions were spit at me. Who? What? Where? When? And even why?

Then I was left alone where my thoughts overwhelmed me. I felt cold as shivers ran down my spine. I felt alone. Time passed slowly. I was scared.

Maybe an hour later, I waited in the principles office for my mom to arrive. She cried as she hugged me begging for me to reveal the reason why I had walked down the very path that she herself once walked on. Then my body succumbed to a numbness. I cried no tears. I just felt regret. As we walked out of the school, I looked back at my school. It would be the last time I would see it for a month.

Years later, I still can’t help but reminisce on how far I’ve truly come in six years. I overcame the little monsters, that still gnaw at me. Little things trigger the “happiness” I once craved. But still I know I must look forward. Because God has a better thing in mind.

Once a Thought, Twice a Memory

I first thought about suicide, momentarily, at the age of 15.

I wasn’t depressed. Well maybe if I went to the doctor, based on my symptoms, I would have been diagnosed with a slight case of depression. But I didn’t think of myself as depressed. I would have said that I was more…hateful. I hated the man who lived with my mom    he was a jerk. I  hated myself because I let his jerkness get to me.

So the question is, why did I think about suicide? It first popped into my head as I was crying in my pillow after I had gotten yelled at. My dog had come into my room, jumped on my bed, and began nudging me. I turned and looked at him and said in between sobs, “I can’t do this anymore, Chief. I can’t deal with him.“Chief, as if understanding exactly my thoughts, squished himself practically onto me and moved his nose underneath my chin. He was, and still is today, my best friend.

I wanted so badly to just be away from this place. I couldn’t run away, because I wouldn’t get far. And even if I did manage to get far, how would I survive? No money. No car. No job. Suicide seemed like the best thing for me. As Chief nudged me however, I knew that leaving him behind would be unfair. Even if he was just a dog, he cared about me, and I couldn’t hurt someone who cared about me.


It wasn’t until years later, when I was in my first year of college that suicide found it’s way back into my thoughts. I don’t even know how it came up as a thought. It was just…there. It was stressful, my first year. I had no roommate. Well, I did, however she lived with her boyfriend 99% of the time. I was lonely. I had only a few people I talked to. Only one of which was mostly on a daily basis. I longed to be back in high school, where at least I had my girls.

I missed my dog more than anything. I missed the feeling of his body laying next to my legs and keeping them warm. I missed his cold, wet nose nudging me after I hit snooze on my alarm. I mostly missed his silly personality and how it was almost like he purposely tried to make me laugh. He ran with me on the trails.

It was the first time my ex and I started having issues. We started fighting. And we both were struggling financially. Our quality time started slipping. I had no idea what to do, because I didn’t know how to be in a relationship. He was my first serious guy I dated.

I was struggling spiritually as well. I was starting to question my beliefs. Wondering what my purpose was (don’t all Christians struggle with this at least once). I felt like my prayers weren’t being answered. months or even a year or two later I discovered that every prayer of mine was answered. Not necessarily how I wanted them to be, but much better than I expected.

Suicide seemed like a generous way to go. But one day I was having lunch and talking to a friend, and the subject of suicide came up.She mentioned how her friend’s brother took his own life, and how it affected her    someone not even that close to the guy. She said that it tore her up to see her friend crying. To see that her friend had died inside. She hated it. I never mentioned to her that I had thought about ending my life. but I knew that was God’s way of telling me my thoughts were stupid.

I can’t say I never thought about suicide in the years to follow from that moment. I struggle with the question of, “What if…?” But I can say that I obviously haven’t taken my life. I started letting the light that I had buried within me take over the darkness I had succumb to. My thoughts were overpowered with thoughts of peace and love from Him. He saved me, by using a friend who was there. Not once, but twice.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7