Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Beginning of the Rest of My Life

  So, last night, in my tipsiness, I attempted to write a blog post, and it was difficult and painful to read.  Thankfully I didn’t post that awfulness, and I can start again this morning!!  So what have the last two weeks of my life been like???  Crazy, chaotic, stressful…nothing too new ;) I’m still doing my extern, and I’m still loving it.  Everyday there’s a resident who makes my day, and Lord knows I love being there.  I know the adult thing to do is to buck and up and deal with the idea that my next step in life is to get a job I may not like, but damn it!  I don’t want to be an adult EVERY day!  They did NOT tell me it was a daily gig!  The transition has still been difficult, but it’s been good too.  The kids are happy to spend all their time with their best friends (even though they end up fighting like siblings all the damn time), and I’m still happy that I am able to take them to someone I trust whole-heartedly with their lives.  She is one of the very few women  I’ve met as a military wife whom I’ll cherish as a lifelong friend.  There are about 5 friends I’ve been blessed to have in my life since becoming a military wife that I hope to never lose. 

 One of those 5 left me last weekend, under very unfortunate circumstances.  Let me tell you little about Miss Emily ;)  You see, if it weren’t for Emily, I would have never met 3 out of the other 4 girls that I’m close to.  And without with Emily, I would have spent many Friday nights sitting idly by watching Drew play COD…and I would have died!  Without Emily, I would have never have gone to the gym…every god damn morning at 4am….and stuck to it for 6 months.  Without Emily, I wouldn’t be more informed, more influenced, and more loved.  I would probably be alone and sad and without a social life ;) Emily, I know you’re going to read this: I love you babe.  You have been a true gift in my life.  You have been one of my closest friends, and although we’re not hella far apart, I know that you’ll be a forever friend, and I can easily see us sitting on some lush lawn (yours of course lmao) drinking SWEET wine, none of that bitter expensive classy shit, I have an image to upkeep here!  In a nutshell, thank you, you have been a valuable and loving friend.  We’ve seen each other through hard times, good times and “blah” times, and I could appreciate you more if I tried.  I miss you babe. <3

  So where do I go from here?  After Keith and I broke up (*side note: do you have any idea how difficult it is to come up with generic male names to replace real names is?? Ridiculous!), I became self-destructive again.  I started partying ALL the time, drinking after work as much as possible.  I moved into an apartment my mother had had for a few years in Mayville, but wasn’t living in anymore because she and the kids had moved in with her boyfriend in Westfield.  After spending a few weeks there, I opted to get my own apartment, next door to Keith’s cousin and her father, and I was excited because it was MY first place, all by myself, no one else to worry about.  It was real independence and I soaked it up.  I continued drinking, and had even starting promiscuously sleeping around with most of the guys I knew in town.  At the same time I’d started sleeping with Keith’s cousin, someone Keith loved, trusted and admired.  I knew it was wrong, and mean, but on the same note, I had feelings for Josh* and I wanted so badly for him to want to feel for me too.  Realistically, it wasn’t going to happen.  He only showed up at my door when he was too drunk to be useful, and most of the time I hated him.  He knew what I wanted, and he didn’t care.  I don’t know why I allowed him to use me, but in my mind I think I assumed something was better than nothing.  It was destructive and it hurt.  It had to end.  And it did, the day I met Jimmy*.  

  He was sooo cool lol.  Tattoos galore, 14 facial piercings, a car!!!  Oh, and a job and his own place…kind of.  There were some things that could have been better about the situation, but in the moment, I had stars in my eyes and I didn’t give a damn about anything but being with him.  By now, it was August of 2006, 2 full years since we’d first arrived in New York.  The first month with Jimmy flew by, we were together every day, all day, never apart.  At the same time, Keith’s family stopped speaking to me because of legal issues between Keith and Jimmy’s families when they were children.  Bad small town blood.  I was hurt, I’d invested love and time into their family, just as I had with Keith, but I understood and I let it go.  Mostly for my best friend Kris who was (and still is!) with Keith’s younger brother, and my love for her meant more than my pride.  And I felt happy with Jimmy.  At least for a little while. 

  It didn’t take long for the real Jimmy to appear and rear it’s ugly head.  For a few months I chalked it up to it being a new relationship, but by Thanksgiving that year I realized how truly stupid I was, and I wanted out.  It never failed, every week or two, Jimmy would throw a stupid ridiculous fit about the dumbest shit, and it would be the end of the world.  I was constantly being verbally abused and in the end, left with no dignity.  At some point I had given up my apartment and moved in with him, only to realize what I dumb mistake that had been.  Every time we fought, he’d kick me and my things out into the snow (literally) and I’ll have to call my mother or a friend and beg to stay with them for a night.  Eventually I got a little stronger, and after one of the bigger blow ups, I took my shit and left.  I went straight to an Army recruiter and signed up.  Unfortunately, they wanted me to get my GED.  Great…5 years of not going to school, not learning past 7th grade.  How the hell was I going to pass a GED???  But I went ahead and did it regardless, walking into the testing center, shaking and terrified.  And guess what?? My overall score was phenomenal!  Unfortunately I was FIVE points under the mandatory math score, and that ruined it all.  It also broke down any confidence I still maintained.  And I stood there looking at the test score crying and defeated. 

  It didn’t take long after that to go back to Jimmy, figuring this was as good as it would ever get.  By the spring I’d gotten fed up with being kicked out all the time and opted to get a new apartment.  It was a 2 bedroom, and I figured it’d be easier to pay the rent and bills if I had a friend live with me.  And so Drew moved in.  I was still with Jimmy, Drew with a girl he’d been dating for some two years, and we co-existed relatively well.  Eventually, it started to become evident that while Drew and I were working long hours and leaving Jimmy and Drew’s girlfriend in our apartment, that things started to seem sketchy.  At some point that summer of 2007, I gave up.  I had my freedom and independence, and I was done dealing with Jimmy’s shit.  It became easier and easier to stop loving, and to stop caring. 

  In September of 2007, I was at work one night, and I called Jimmy before I left work to make sure he was coming to stay the night with me.  He informed me that he was at a party with his ex-girlfriend and wouldn’t be coming that night, or any night after.  And I thought “sweet, I’ll put your shit out in the street.”  I went home pissed off and embarrassed, and ready to drink the anger away.  Drew was home, and equally pissed at his own girlfriend for their own issues, and decided getting drunk was a perfectly acceptable way to end the night.  And then….we fell madly into bed together and lived happily ever after. ;)

Monday, September 16, 2013

You Are Beautiful, and You Are Strong.

 This past week and a half has been crazy, busy and chaotic!!  I started my externship last Tuesday, and I’m really enjoying it!  I’m working in a skilled nursing facility and it’s proving to be a great environment.  The patients are wonderful, as is the staff, and it’s a small and intimate facility, which is beyond what I was expecting.  It’s been a bit of a tough adjustment being away from the kids all day, but knowing they’re safe and happy with one of my closet friends and her beautiful babies, whom mine adore, makes it easier, and allows me to relax.  It’s been a bit difficult keeping up at home and managing to find a flow that works for all of us.  We’ve been conditioned to my night school schedule for 8 months, so it’s no real surprise that this has been a tough transition. 

  This last week was also a rough one emotionally and mentally.  Last Saturday, I went through a training program, the first half of it, and it left me feeling both empowered, and powerless.  I felt so much truth and insight through the curriculum, which presents middle school kids which the truth about the realities of sex trafficking.  And at the same time, I felt powerless, because despite my wants, I KNOW that I cannot walk out of their classroom and be assured that not a one of them will fall victim to the horrors of being trafficked.  I know that the mother inside of me will want to hug each and every one of them and promise them they’re safe.  I think it’ll take a long time, and a lot of inward training to understand within, that I can’t save them all, that I can’t keep them all safe.  BUT, I will be assured that they’ll know the truth, and they’ll have the knowledge I didn’t at their age, at least not through the classroom….instead I learned it on the streets. 

  A few days after the training, I actually got the opportunity to interview with an awesome chick from a major magazine, for the SECOND time!  She’s been so great about being sensitive, and at the same time, knowing exactly which questions to ask.  It’s the interviews such as this last one, that sort of remind me and take me back to 9 summers ago.  I could write and write until my fingers cramp and bleed (not really, I’m not THAT ambitious!) and I could not EVER get as emotional through this blog, as I do when I’m on the phone doing these article interviews.  I have no idea why, maybe because in the state of writing the blog, I’m in a safe place mentally, I can pick and choose what I want to share with all of you, and I don’t have anyone prompting me for more information.  On the phone however…?  Totally different state of mind.  I’m nervous, open and raw.   And when questions are asked that I would never THINK about being relevant??  Those catch me, kind of like a hook in the gut, and I’m taken back to a place I haven’t been in very long time.  This last interview, I reminded of something I once said to the FBI agent who was handling my case against Angelo, alongside the police, and the US attorney and a few other very important people.  When I was reminded of what I had said during my time spent in holding with the FBI and police, I was honestly so amazed that I could ever have been so cold.  I was quoted saying “Every girl wants to be a bottom bitch.”  I know this probably seems irrelevant, and possibly insignificant, but it truly is the most relevant and honestly, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to repeat and elaborate in my entire life.   For those who aren’t aware of the term “bottom bitch” here you go, straight from :

“A bottom girl, a bottom woman or bottom bitch, sits atop the hierarchy of prostitutes working for a particular pimp. A bottom girl is usually the prostitute who has been with the pimp the longest and consistently makes the most money. Being the bottom girl gives the prostitute status and power over the other women working for her pimp. However, the bottom girl also bears many responsibilities. In U.S. v. Pipkins, the Eleventh Circuit described the bottom girl’s duties as "working the track in her pimp’s stead, running interference for and collecting money from the pimp's other prostitutes, and looking after the pimp's affairs if the pimp was out of town, incarcerated, or otherwise unavailable". Similarly, the PIP Training Manual explains the bottom girl’s obligations may include handling finances and training and recruiting other prostitutes. Bottom girls may also instruct and advise new pimps on the ways of the prostitution business. The Pimp Game, a published instructional guide for pimps, compares the bottom girl to a coach in the NBA, i.e. a former player who "knows the ins and outs of the game", and explains that, like the NBA coach, she is "the least paid on the team, but the one who works the hardest". She also has the most interaction with her pimp's prostitutes, giving them "pep talks" and keeping them in the game.”

  Why would any girl want to be a bottom bitch, one might ask??  Well, I’m here to help you understand the mentality I believe to be behind it, and to further elaborate on what I said 9 years ago, and what I meant by it then.  You see, my theory is that when a girl has been victimized by a pimp, made to feel love, affection, fear, and a multitude of massively complex feelings, there’s a trauma bond formed between pimp and girl, of course this bond is strictly on the girl’s end, not on the pimps.  Through this victimization, and the trauma bond that ensues, these girls are left absolutely powerless.  They have ABSOLUTELY NO power with their pimps, because every aspect of their lives is controlled by the pimp.  They have no control with the johns, because they’re forced to take money in return for sex, sex that they have no desire to have.  And sometimes, more often and common than anyone would EVER like to imagine, these same girls are RAPED by johns, and I don’t mean that they don’t get paid, I mean in the most literal sense of the word, they are forcefully raped.  And do you know what happens afterward?? They’re left to clean themselves up and get right back to the track to turn more johns, likely EXTRA johns, just to make up the revenue lost by the one who attacked them.  And yes, I know this happens because I’ve had it happen to me.  Lastly…they feel powerless against law enforcement because they know in their hearts that they’re criminals, and they’re going to go to jail for prostitution, regardless of their age.  It’s a very new concept that girls are considered victims before criminalization occurs.  Think of ALL the time spent, all the girls who lost their lives to the prison system, because according to the law, they were criminals.  AND all of this is of course assuming that they’re alive to suffer through all this unimaginable horror.

  So….where do girls find power??  They find it by being valued by their pimp, as a trustworthy “partner” and taking power over the other girls “beneath” them.  Which leads me back to what I once said.  “Every girl just wants to be a bottom bitch.”  What did I mean when I said that??  How did I feel, did I truly feel that way??  I don’t know, but when that was repeated to me, my stomach dropped, my throat got tight, and I had a strong urge to cry and apologize to someone!  What I think I meant, which is impossible for me to truly recall, is difficult to say.  I have such a hard time believing that I could have ever been capable to of truly believing that.  I feel soooo strong and empowered in my life today.  I feel worthy, I feel love, I feel strength.  And I KNOW that I could never have imagined feeling how I feel today, 9 years ago.  So, what did I mean?? I meant that every girl desires power, desires control over something, anything.  I must’ve felt soooo powerless and alone in the world, and it breaks my heart to the core, so much that I want to go back and hug myself, and tell myself that life is beautiful, and life is good.  I think I believed that every girl believes that she wants to be a bottom bitch, she wants to control someone else, because she has NO control whatsoever in her own life.  My heart breaks and I cry even as I type these words because I sit here and I picture my daughter looking so alone and desperate for control and power, that she believes these words.  And I want to die for her.  I want to die for any little sweet angel girl who believes that she has to control another, have power over another, in order to have power in her life.  There are sooooo many words I would say, that I can’t even imagine condensing them down to fit into this post or the next five posts. 

  If I could look my past self in the face, and have ONE conversation to bring hope and self-love to myself, I would cry and tell me that “You are never to blame for what has happened to you, but you HAVE to understand that you ARE a victim, and you should NEVER  be ashamed of who you are.  No one can take away your light, your sunshine, not even the people you love more than anything in this whole world.  If anyone EVER tells you that what you’ve been through is your fault, you look them right in the eye and call them a liar.  And you walk away, because someone so lacking in compassion and love isn’t worth a moment of your time, and breath of your precious air.  And you are strong, and you are beautiful, and you are amazing.  You will become someone who changes the GOD DAMN world!”

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Humble Pie

  As I sit here daily and think about what my next post will consist of, I struggle with the idea that it’s going to be dry, boring, and sound like a time line….and essentially that’s exactly what I’m coming up with these days.  And I feel guilty, because I know my readers are expecting to read something interesting, and as time goes on, all I have to give them from here on out is a few years of my life that were boring and sad.  Eventually we’ll get to my marriage, and that will entertain you for some time, that of course being what I’m willing to share, and then we’ll eventually just get to me, who I am today.  And my life is most definitely not “exciting” anymore.  Sure, this blog, my status as a survivor and my connections have all given the opportunity recently for some REALLY awesome things such as the magazine articles, but they aren’t what my whole life is about.  I really am a mommy, a wife, a student, a friend, and soon, a working mommy. 
  It’s very recently that I’ve began discovering how my experiences of being exploited have affected me even now.  I realized that my issues with looking people in the eye, most especially men, come from what I was taught on the track.  I realize I have an issue looking at men and immediately wanting to put them in the category of “john” or “pimp”.  And it really bothers me, because I know not every man I see in a business suit is going to have a history of paying girls for sex, but somewhere inside of me, I can’t help but wonder, and then feel very sick and “turned” off by them.  And it’s not ALL men, which may be worse, because I find myself judging a man based entirely on how he’s dressed and how he carries himself.  I never realized I had these issues until I started doing all these interviews and being asked these specific questions.
   And those questions have led me to wonder other things about myself.  Does or has my past, ever effected my sexual relationships since?  I don’t think so, I think that sexually, I’m healthy and I don’t believe that the experiences I went through affected me in that way. 

   This also leads me to wonder how it’s affected my relationships as a whole.  Until my marriage, I went through pretty shitty relationships, and even before that, I continued to happily sleep around without a conscience.  I think what makes my marriage different from my previous relationships is that my husband was really and truly one of my two best friends at the time, and him knowing the truth about my past, and still loving me allowed me to open up to him and trust him completely.  I don’t regret my prior relationships before my marriage.  I do however regret how some of them ended, but knowing that it’s impossible to go back and change those makes me realize I can only endeavor to continue down the path of being honest and truthful, and believe Karma and/or goodwill will prevail and allow me to live a good, happy and whole life. 

   Now to back track in time, I’m going back to when I arrived back in New York from Maryland in 2006, after my four months spent in Maryland.  It was February and it was, of course, very cold.  As I stated in my last post, I almost immediately called Keith and told him I was home, and almost immediately, despite what we’d both done during the time we were separated, we pretty much picked up right where we’d left off. 

   We moved back into Keith’s grandparent’s home, and not the trailer we’d previously been in, mostly because it was so damn cold and there was no consistent or reliable heat source, and we were just too broke to provide any heat source.  It was a major relief to know that for the rest of my life, I’d never be required to ever live with my mother again, and I hoped that this would be a turning point for us and that we’d finally be able to build a better relationship or if nothing else, a friendship. 

  On went life, and for some time, it went on quite boring and quietly.  There were a few months I didn’t go to school or have a job, but once summer rolled around, that changed.  The summer prior to me leaving, I had worked in a small hotel/restaurant that was inside what’s called the Chautauqua Institute and it had been hard work, but it was a job, and I actually enjoyed it more than not.  And when the summer of 2006 came around, I continued to work there, and also at a real estate company that had its own housekeeping service.  I worked hard, but I was also still very naive and without much work ethic.  It was easy to not want to be there when I assumed I could always just find better, but I never accounted for the fact that I was essentially living rent free, eating for free, using gas for free, and only having to pay for my nicotine habits, which even then, I somehow managed to run out of money for.  And then came the 4th of July.  What I thought was a good life, a solid and maybe slightly routine relationship, turned out to be a load of shit.  Keith came to me the morning of the 4th, just as his extended family members began to arrive for the annual BBQ and get-together, to inform me that he wanted me to pack all my shit, and get out.  He told me that he was in love with someone else, someone I knew relatively well.  I was shocked, and I was angry, but I wasn’t surprised.  I wanted to hurt him, I wanted to beat the shit out of him for causing me pain and humiliation, but a part of me must’ve known there was someone else, and I was probably knew it was her all along.  And for a little while, I didn’t even have the ability to cry.  Looking back now, I realize that this was my VERY first real relationship, despite its flaws.  I realize that this was my first adult experience of falling in love, becoming comfortable, and being betrayed.  We may have made mistakes during our separation, but I truly believed that we’d worked through them, and we would be together “forever”.  And sadly, probably the saddest part of all of it, is that I don’t remember “loving” him after all of it was over, and I stopped being so angry.   I don’t even recall any genuine pain.  I recall anger and humiliation.  I remember feeling vindictive.  And this leads me to wonder just how much of an adult I really was.  And THEN, then I remember, I wasn’t an adult, I was 17 god damn years old.  I was living a life as an adult, probably someone in their 20’s, and I was still a child.  How the hell did that happen??? How the hell did that become acceptable???  I should have been looking towards graduation in a year, I should have been filling out college applications.  But none of that was even in my head, I never even thought of those things.  I just thought about tomorrow’s pack of cigarettes, how I’d get to work, how Keith and I would spend the weekend.  I am so SO sad that I can never look back and think of some normal teenage experience before I actually became an adult…

 I called my mother that day, and told her I needed her to come and pick me and bring me and my things back to her apartment.  I spent that night at her place because she had been drinking and couldn’t drive me back to the fireworks.  I spent that night in tears.  But again, I don’t think it was because I truly loved him, I think it was because I felt like a failure.  I swore to myself I’d never have to run home to her.  Luckily, she still had an apartment in the town I was working in, and I took it over to be closer to work, but mainly to not have to live with her.  And very soon after, I very adamantly asked her to co-sign on a different apartment so that I’d be 75% independent.  And so another new chapter began, and it was ugly for a few weeks before I found myself in yet another relationship.  I’ll talk about in the next post because that one is even more extensive than Keith.  I think what I can take from my relationship with Keith and apply it to my life now, or even just my memories, is that I learned how to be an adult, a “responsible” adult to some extent.  It really did show me how life could be.  I feel this was the starting point for me to grow into a healthier person, and to humble myself.  I don’t regret the relationship, and I haven’t been angry with him for many, many years.  I don’t know what he got out of it, or how he feels, but I hope he knows that I can only wish him the best, in everything, and that at some point in our lives, I loved him.  Without him, I may have never learned to love another more.  He was important, and he made a difference.