I’ve come a long way. Physically and mentally. I was born in Modesto, California. I was one of a very small population of African-Americans, (creole and with some native american indian works). It was alright, just a mere 4% of us there, hanging out in Modesto. I remember being at school, being made the clown for the color of my skin. I was neither black enough or white enough and the red of my cheeks where my Native American stamped me, were misunderstood. It was a long way down, understanding how to fight for yourself. I fought off my father. He was abusive and neglectful in many ways to my family and I. He still smiled though, even though the burning never ended. He died some 15 years ago and I was okay with it. Oh, I’m sensitive to it, but I’m not broken by it.
When I left Modesto, to live in San Francisco, I thought that I was doing pretty well. I was nineteen, had a good job and my dad’s old car. I was doing mighty fine for the mess I’d been in. It was hard to leave my mother and sister, but they understood. I went. San Francisco to me was the gold of California. I didn’t have to explain my story there. I didn’t have to walk in shame for the color of my skin. It was then, the most beautiful place in the world to be broken and free. If you were there in those years, you would understand. If you couldn’t understand or felt threatened by it’s heavy, then you misunderstood what it was to be a fighter amongst the bravest. Me.
I left San Francisco some years later with my best friend. We drove across the country and I hadn’t ever been to many of those northern route states. It was wild in ways that you could absolutely imagine for a couple of young, tattooed women, different skin colors (if you’re from the bread parts of the sandwich of the USA, you dig.). City folks dancing with the middle of the states crevices can be beautiful together, if we are indeed, dancing together without the middle finger flagging around. Entering New York was perfect. I cried like a baby once I got through the NJ turnpike, but it was heading in the right direction even though we were mostly lost on a Saturday night without a road map. My point is, it was lovely. All of my nine years in New York were lovely. I was working non-stop around the clock, each paycheck able to fly me home if need be or even if I just wanted to go home for a short weekend, I did. Being broke was only for a few days at a time, or weeks, but there was always flush around you to work it out and payday was quick when you’re doing Industry Time. The bartending life. The cafe life. The restaurant life. The nightlife. The bands, I had a few. The music world. It was all gorgeous, I loved it. I loved being so busy that I couldn’t even see straight and to be honest, those days were a mix of things that allowed me not to see strait anyway. The party was always a call away, or a step down the stairs and you had your favorite person with you whenever you needed them to be there. Perfect.
When I got pregnant, I wasn’t scared, wasn’t worried, nothing. I was happy, excited. My fiance and I knew that this round of pregnancy would be okay, healthy and that I would Mom good. My birth plan didn’t go well, or how I had wished for it to. I was triggered badly in the hospital. I felt that I had so many doctors, none of which were listening to me (yeah, I know, they were, but it didn’t feel like it and I felt abused by the condescending tones of various night nurses who rolled their eyes at my pain, yes, rolled.) After I had my son, two days after back labor and three epidurals after having my water broken manually by the largest mans hand in the world, after the induction meds not working, then a knocked out c-section, I got to hold him for the first time and I was so happy, you know, right? That moment? Even if you don’t know that moment, please imagine your happiest moment and holding onto it. I rubbed my son’s little, tiny back with the tips of my fingers and the palm of my hand while his nose kissed my neck and the nurse told me, “he doesn’t understand that pattern or feel, it’s best to just pat his back”. OKAY lady, you didn’t have to talk to me like that. I could barely breast feed and ended up having to formula feed. It. Broke. All. My. Heart. Things weren’t moving along the way I had wanted. I had lots of perfect mothers tell me how I was wrongly breastfeeding in the comfort of my own home, mother’s who were better than me, you know. I luckily had an online group of women Mom’s who did not shame me for my troubles, you know, real good people who actually cared and supported one another. I struggled as a new mom and I did not talk about PPD or none of that. I went on about it mostly on my own and did not try to hide, but also didn’t try to ask for much. The very same way I went on after my childhood.
When I moved to Argentina, I got to take a bite of time off from working full time and got to stay with my son and work on our house. Something I never imagined could happen. I began to see time differently. I began to see myself differently. I didn’t know anyone really, other than extended family, so my heart eventually began to reach out to those friends who I held close to for the duration of my entire life. A handful of good people who kept me safe through the years and who I could hold onto. I found myself writing more music, found myself wanting more from life. Learning how to do things with my hands, work, real hand work. I had to work on my guitar to find my next new thing. In NYC, I didn’t need to work on guitar because I had the best one working with me. I was spoiled a bit.
I tried to write an album about my childhood history last September. I couldn’t get it out though. It hurt. It was painful and it was dramatic. I hated it. I hated it so much that during the week of my father’s death anniversary, I got sick. A mental breakdown of fear, disgust, triggers, name it. I had all the hell on my tired hands. I sat down to write and I didn’t stop writing, bleeding pages from one to the next and while the process was more than I’ll share here, I want to say that it opened me up to a real place of healing. I began to see myself as a person. I saw myself as an actual person, a woman, excuse me, a WOMAN. Who deserved. I began to believe that I was capable of doing and earning more. I was ashamed of my past, my history, my lack of understanding. I was ashamed of a lot of things. When I finished the memoir just before New Year’s Eve, I was able to write that album. In a couple of months, my band already began to work on it. Soul Murder.
Now I’m writing, yeah, you know, you’ve heard it, seen it, watched it, maybe even have been confused by it. I don’t hold much back. I wanted to share my journey a bit, as I have never even written that in this blog I created last year. I have been working hard, I am working hard. I’m writing. I am working on my second chapbook of poems while I continue to edit the memoir. I’ve been working on a script. I’ve got another album being worked through and I have to tell you, I’ve never felt so much freedom after having written the dreary pages of the memoir. It has allowed me to write about other things and has shown me how to be kind to myself, even if others cannot be. We struggle to find our voices. Often times, the ones who were abused as children are the ones the either make or break their life cycle. I have dealt with many emotions, but I know one truth of me, it’s that I’m really strong (Thanks, Mom). I am really, damn strong.
I have work to do, but if you don’t know me already, this was just for you. Keep on keepin’ on. Find your outlet. Merry, merry your way. Try to fight the hardest fights within yourself. When you fight with yourself, you begin to see a greater picture of what your life has been. Hell, maybe you even find that you’re missing out. Don’t miss that. Go fight. For them and for you.
Photo by Hugo Ramos (Buenos Aires, Argentina)