Issue 01 Vol. 01
With a Blessing and a Lesson:
Proving Myself Wrong
Edited By: Daphne Minks Daly
I grew up in a small town called Huntsville, Alabama. It's growing, so I guess it's called a city now. Home of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Redstone Arsenal Military Base, my hometown is also known as the "Rocket City." We're a military family, so military life isn't a foreign language to us.
I was an only child raised by my Mom's parents in a rigid God-fearing household. Growing up sometimes felt like a tug of war between my Mom, Kaye, openly gay and free-spirited, and my strict grandparents. My father was absent, and I never knew much about him until my teen years. I had my Granddaddy, though, and while he emphasized knowledge, he also spoiled me rotten to the core.
He was a minister who taught me to hold people, including myself, accountable. He also tried to teach me to never settle for less than I deserved. Mommy just wanted me to be her precious little girl or her friend. She wanted to raise me to just love, while my grandparents wanted what they thought was best for me. This caused me to become a bit rebellious, and I started to lack respect for authority figures.
My demeanor, or stature, maybe my boldness, was always misjudged as being aggressive. Because of that, I never was complimented much. It also made me a target for people wanting to size me up. No matter what they think, I really am more of a lover. But if you tried me, the Titian Sagittarius in me would pulverize you!
When I was a little girl, around age three, a situation happened in my life where I was sexually molested by a neighbor, and then again at age 8. I had a little babysitting gig with a cousin watching after the younger kids until I was about 13 or 14 years old. The trauma I experienced as a younger child made many inappropriate sexual things seem normal. Some of those things happened between my younger male cousin, his sister, and me.
Eventually, adults discovered what was going on, and the police and Child Services got involved. To my surprise and shock, I was looked at as a bad guy. I was told I should've known better "since I was the oldest." I was devastated and felt completely alone. Eventually, I started looking in the wrong places with the wrong people for whatever I figured I was missing. I guess you could say I had a blessed life with a cursed outlook on it, just a selfish little prick with a huge naive heart of gold.
I had insecurities about how I looked. I never thought I was beautiful enough or like the other girls. I was always comparing what I had to what others had. Loving myself was hard, especially after being raped at the age of 14 by a guy I knew from around. I liked him, and I really thought he liked me too. It was around that time I truly started to lose the sense of myself and my worth.
After my Granny died, I felt like I lost the connection to my Mom. I was so young and naive and just plain hurtful during that time. I couldn't understand that after a loss like that, she was hurting, too. I was putting out desperate energy, looking for something to fill myself with.
I started wanting to be the center of attention more. I was hanging with all the wrong people just to get away from Mommy. Her grieving turned into addictions and circumstances. So, I was out there with sex, drugs, and violence as my scapegoats.
Depression and suicidal thoughts have caused me such pain and misfortune. I've missed out on so many critical life-changing things, and I've even lost the trust of loved ones with threats of suicide and suicide attempts. But, all in all, I've learned so much through it, and the struggle has made me the more grateful, thankful, complete human being I am today.
Depression is a bitch, and I still fight with it every now and again. It's taught me not to take anything I've ever gone through for granted. Like my Granny used to say, "A bought lesson is better than a taught lesson."
I won't say I've necessarily overcome all of that. But, I will say I can recognize my insecurities. I basically had to become friends with my demons. I keep them at bay, for the most part. I don't allow them to take over. Friendship is about balance and respect, so I haven't overcome them, but I don't let them define me anymore. Whenever they arise or become troublesome, I see it as a warning of what could come, or even another spirit not settling within too well.
I have a great support system, and that's my wife and kids. And, Mommy too, if you can believe that. They keep me grounded, and I feel wanted and needed. Even though we sometimes don't see eye to eye, they never let me forget that we're here for each other. Some people say it "takes a village," well, we are our village.
My Uncle once shared something my Granny told him, and that's, "Mud is easiest to get off after it dries." At first, I didn't understand that. I was going through a dark time in my life, and I was like, what does that have to do with my current situation? I'd just started to get to know my father, and before I could meet him face to face, he died. Shortly after that, my godmother passed away.
At the same time, I'd just found out Mommy had breast cancer, not even a month after her best friend was diagnosed with the same. In the midst of all this, my Mother and I weren't talking. We didn't talk when we really needed each other and all because of silly miscommunication and misunderstandings.
It was then I understood my Uncle's words of encouragement. That quote made me realize and reevaluate how I would deal with situations and hold myself accountable. That being said, I "let the mud dry," and today, I'm best of friends with my mother.
After all is said and done, I've learned how important it is to love myself - for real - and all that other shit won't affect me. I found a better way to deal with it was to stop pouring all my good loving energies into big, giant black holes. Instead, I started filling up little 'jars' with it. Then, before I knew it, my cabinet of self-love was overstocked and overflowing, so to speak. Now, I'm to where I can go on with a blessing and a lesson.
I still struggle, and sometimes it's with anger. I combat it by keeping myself busy with physical activities like softball, football, yoga, and nature hikes to help release steam. Staying physically active and keeping my mind occupied with positive things keeps me grounded and healthy. The more I'm busy, the more I look and feel healthy. So hey, two for one. Singing and listening to music calms my spirits so much, too.
Through faith and lots of therapy, growth, and forgiveness of myself and others, I've come to be who I am today. I share my flaws and optimism in hopes of helping and uplifting the next person. Just remember, no matter what they say or do - NEVER EVER be afraid to be yourself.