Updated: Aug 27, 2021
- Carolina G. -
Who Is –
Carolina G. -
The Nice Chola –
Temporary Insanity -
The Way of The Masseuse -
Surrounding Angels -
Did You Know -
The Struggle –
The Masseuse -
The Gangster Within -
Regarding “The Holy Bible” –
Authors note: Names have been changed to protect the identity of loved ones.
To my children. Always. In all things. For whatever reasoning. Because my body helped create yours, and my life dedication of giving starts with you. You are my reasoning. You help me stay close to God, whom is Love and sanity. Because you girls raised your mommy to be a strong woman.
Because, thank God for family.
I also dedicate this book to those in need. Those who feel unable to go on and beaten down by all those who surround you. Remember to hold on tight, don’t let go. I’m here with you and we’re here together in this. Anything I can do; you can do better.
I just wanna explain, where I’m coming from, where I’ve been
Reason fill my lips, holdin back the front, intent on persuading the one within
(The soul within)
So, this is how I live, and this is not a front so here you go just come on in my friend
Since these last few years I’ve just been searching, searching deep within
Trying to gain, enlightenment, I’ve got to win, enlightenment
Holdin on to time, with my heart in hand less for sin,
Renunciate my mind, if I can understand then I can comprehend true affliction
And this is who I am
Since these last few years I’ve just been searching, searching deep within
Trying to gain, enlightenment
I’ve got to win
Chapter: Who Is
As a child I ‘acted out’ and lied a lot and as a result of emotional issues suffered from stomach pains. The distinctly sharp burning pain of taking it all in and holding it inside myself like a ball of energy, carved a crater inside my childhood. Negative energy steamed with sadness, topped with instability and seasoned by fear. A recipe to often experience a sense of longing and wanting. Missing my mom because even though she was mean, I loved her. I wanted her and I wanted her to want me too. Dad would visit but I mostly just wanted my mom. Instead I got to live with my grandma Cecilia, whom fortunately taught me and my sisters about the Love of God.
Grandma Cecilia went through her own childhood horrors but got through. I loved hearing her amazing stories, especially the one of how she met Jesus in the most weighed down time of her life. She said she was feeling so sad and crying out to God one day when suddenly she felt heavy weights lift off her back and fell to her knees, crying out to the Lord in pain. She described in a beautiful way, opening up the Bible and how the words started lifting off the pages to her amazement and she began to read because she hadn't learned to read before then.
She loved God and it showed in her actions. I knew from the way she described what she’d seen, and there was really no convincing her she was wrong when I decided I was an Atheist that one time. Her experience left her knowing God is real, and that was all she needed… to believe. To know. Childhood trauma seems to be a tradition in our family but so does surrender and healing. Pain and terror have visited us often, but the results can be turned into good, through all of us. All of those of the family of God, have stories to tell. Memories of facts and realizations.
Over the course of writing this book I realized I have many memories spread out or outright forgotten.
Besides being a difficult child, I also carried much rage waiting to rampage within me, boiling throughout into adult hood. Moved back and forth between many different homes, numerous times. Sometimes with family members who wanted to help but didn’t quite realize the harms of spraying “Raid bug repellant” on our heads whenever we got lice. Which was way often. Childhood was a time of humiliation sprinkled with shame. Yet I have memories of “the good times”, family parties, pictures and having fun playing with cousins.
When I told my sister Regina about this book, she reminded me of some not so good memories being at a foster home together. In this particular home we were left locked in a small back room all day and night. With a bed and a TV to keep us company. I had no recollection of this happening at all. Though I don’t actually remember a lot of bad things she remembers happening back then. Some say I blocked it all out for survival but no matter what happened, it happened and now I’m here. So, I have peace with there, and I know no matter what, we were always safe, overall. Especially compared to some horrific stories I’ve heard from other people about their time in foster homes. It took a lot of growing up to recognize how others may have had it worse. For a long time, all I could see was the "bad" having happened to me.
Now, as an adult I can look even closer and accept what happened. I’ve learned to thank God and not curse him. Appreciating the mild-ness of my experienced neglect knowing so many others weren’t left alone at all. Many have had to and are right NOW at this very moment, living with the terrible memories and desperation of trying to understand why such horrors happened to them. Being tough was who I learned to be. I had a bad attitude but a kind heart. Acquaintances in Elementary and Middle school were nice but I generally stayed to myself, making efforts to be involved in activities and mostly hung around ‘good girls’ but generally felt different from them in some way. It was like if they were loved and I wasn’t. They were cared for, clean, structured and I… wasn’t.
Over time I developed my 'different mind' and found much interest with shows and subjects like unsolved mysteries, UFO’s and Star Trek. Science fiction shows became my absolute favorite. A time travel show called “Quantum Leap”, allowed my mind to be creative.
Back then, in the 90's, fighting in school was expected and quite normal in Long Beach CA. Although I’ve only been in a few fights and those happened in elementary school. Mostly because I didn’t go to High School. During these years my internal dialog was rage and sadness waiting to be unleashed. Paying no particular attention to why I did things, I just did them. No thought about being “reactive” or “contemplative.” I just was. More than anything I was desperate. Desperate for love, affection and attention from anyone. And my behavior showed exactly that.
Grandma Cecilia surrounded us with happy Christian music songs sung by cheerful, happy children and I remember feeling a sense of love for “Charity Church Mouse and Psalty the Singing Song Book.” The level of comfort their music gave me was immeasurable and beautiful. I later shared these songs with my children, but they didn’t quite have as much interest as I did. To me those songs were moving, to them they were meh.
Sunday morning bus rides to Church down the dusty long dirt roads, made me feel light, sustained and happy. Grandma Cecilia was extra cheerful and usually gave us each a piece of her trident spearmint chewing gum. I’d often win the scripture quoting contests and get big candy bars from our kindhearted teenage Sunday school leaders. It was like going on mini adventures every week with people who didn’t get mad at me all the time. More than anything I continued to learn about this loving man named ‘Jesus Christ’ and how much he loved me. Although I’d also be getting a pinch on the leg if I acted up or was disruptive when we had to sit in the big church instead of the youth class.
Grandma’s favorite perfume to wear to church was called "Charlie". It had a strong, distinct scent of heavy soft powder and musk essence. But quite pleasant. When I smell it today I’m taken back to the yellow house we all lived in with her growing up. Her favorite Christian music singer was Candi Staton. I remember the tapes playing on the radio and grandma singing loudly in the living room crying with her hands raised to the ceiling. I’d try to sway with her but more powerfully I remember wondering why she was so sad. Her eyes closed in pain singing a song called “Sin doesn’t live here anymore".
This song still has the power to make me cry today.
Grandma seemed to release heavy levels of sadness and worry as she sang, and I felt it all. The lyrical power moved my little heart. Her singing showed me how she found a sense of relief through “singing to God”. Although I didn’t quite understand why she was so sad, the feeling was undeniably strong and its relieving emotion cleansed the entire house. In those moments, my elementary school aged stomach felt calm and breezy.
Early life memories have proven to teach me some of the most difficult life lessons that continue to guide my steps today. I understand they’ve helped me to respond in Love, or at least not in the rage I’d feel a desire to entertain. I finally understand why it’s an extremely necessary practice and discipline to follow. But that doesn’t mean I won’t suffer the consequences resulting from actions I've failed to curb with love. No. I just get to suffer knowing I knew better and now must do my extra work to make amends. Learning to depend on Love comes in many different forms of life experiences. And maybe we never stop learning until we’re no longer alive on this planet. But we always have the choice to make ‘some’ kind of efforts. Be they great or small, we make that choice daily and all throughout life.
I've learned it’s always good to work a good work but the work to find what work you need to do, is much better. It’s better to learn through experience than it is to repeat the process and learn nothing. So, change when it’s necessary but don’t get hooked on looking at yourself with too much scrutiny. Look at yourself with love, patience and kindness. Speak to yourself in a kind way.
I spoke to myself very loudly in front of people once. I was praying, however. Begging God to help me. The first time I ever smoked weed I was fourteen going on twenty-five. Hanging out with my sister Regina and some guys and their friends, at what seemed like a 'party house'. Not a 'house party' but a home where it was always party time. The parents of the home were always at home when music played loudly but they mostly stayed to themselves and let the partying go on in the back rooms. The mom hung out in the kitchen with her tiny TV, and the dad was always in the den converted into their bedroom. The dark wood den had a single shelf that aligned the entire room with video tapes of movies. The dad was obsessed with movies. It was organized but seemed dusty and not well kept.
I’d met the whole family through my ‘meanish chola’ neighbor friend, who helped me find somewhere to stay that first-time mom kicked me out of the house when I was 14.
What had happened waaaaaas, I got caught not coming home after having snuck out our two story window to hang out with a cute guy. And though it wasn’t my first time sneaking out to meet up with him, this time ended up being my last climb down. My last time tying sheets together and making my way down from the second story window of our apartment. Sneaking to be with this silly boy who was just using me. You’d think I’d be given some credit for all the hard work, grunting quietly, climbing down in a dress etcetera. Good Lawd! I was a mini ninja!
I’m totally joking but that climb down was no joke. Regina normally let me back in through the front door super early in the morning. But this time, things just didn’t click into place and I got caught. Then kicked out, which led to “new friends.” So now here I was, chillin at a party house for a few hours with other kids whom obviously smoked regularly. When someone decided to ‘light up’, and pass around. Regina just up and joined in like a thug. I'd never done anything like this bofore so I gave her the "sister look" and she said it was cool. So when it got passed around to me, I pretended to be cool too by copying what everyone else was doing. But I’m sure it was obvious, I was lost.
There I was, standing by the window, blowing smoke out like a rookie, when my sister felt a disturbance in the force and came to help. She instructed to “inhale”. But all I heard her say was, “swallow the smoke,” so I did. Then I quietly went and sat down on the bed next to my new boyfriend, whom I met through all these people. I loved that he had his own car, though found out later he actually had to share it with his sister which was fine with me but I could tell he'd rather have his own. He was a college student who loved 2Pac and showed me a lot of care and attention. I felt safe around him more than anything.
The room slowly went quiet and I could hear conversations, laughs and giggles around me…When slowly and like life had become an ocean and me a drifting dingy, I was carried out onto a large wave without any kind of warning. My mind went BLANK. My body slowly fell back onto the bed. Suddenly... I was looking up at the ceiling. Eventually feeling like cold shadow on a winter day.
Boyfriend’s face moved across and the ceiling which started looking like a tv screen. My mind falling down into my eyes. Into a dark space further and further, slowly like tree sap pours down. I’m falling down, down, ‘into myself’, now looking at a square screen from a dark room. The screen drifting away from me. Even the sound began to fall quieter. Suddenly sadness engulfed and swallowed me up. A foreign and most terrifying terror gripped… my soul.
Feeling a heavy sense of guilt and confusion, emotions so great. Suddenly I wasn’t my “own self” anymore and my... awareness, the awareness, whatever the heck ‘awareness’ was …. moved deeper down into me. Swallowing the “me” I’d always identified with as being ‘me’. I was drifting away shrinking smaller and smaller. So heavy and scary. I felt my eyes begin to weep like a heavy sorrow of sadness releasing from my being.
Hearing seemed distorted and I watched people moving above me on “the screen,” asking if I was okay. But I couldn’t speak. I felt wet tears streaming down my cheeks into my ears. What are ears? What are eyes?
Who am I?
What am I?
Why am I here?
What is here? I felt “hand” raising to face. I felt touch on skin.
Someone’s hands pulled me to sit up and everyone was staring at me. I’m terrified but stopped crying and looked down to my lap. I heard people laughing but a friendly laugh. When for a quick moment I was “me” again. Then just as quickly as self awareness came, again I was drifting away … ALL OVER AGAIN. And again. Almost feeling embarrassment coming over each time until terror returned in its place. Confusion… Guilt... Sadness…. Sorrow….. Fear.
I realized this feeling and inability to control my mind could be never ending because it definitely felt, never ending. It felt like time didn’t exist and what was ‘time’ anyway? More confusion and terror poured out from my soul. I became a vast ocean of awareness. Waves of ‘me’ sweeping my ability to control ‘my-self’ and my mind, on and offshore, in and out, again and again.
Someone took me and Regina to another room and she tried to make me watch cartoons with her but I started explaining all the fear I was feeling and why. But she didn’t wanna hear me. She got mad and said I was "tripping her out", “effing up her high.” I didn’t know what that meant but there I was… alone... in that room… alone. Alone in this foreign dark room. Cartoons playing on the screen. The lights were off but I could see a dark line of dirt aligned the whole room from the TV light. Old peeling paint on the walls. Did I mention I was alone? The carpet was very old dark brown almost black, with a mattress on the floor. Sheets and blankets sprawled on it. Smelly boy sneakers thrown on the floor next to the messy but empty looking closet. The window had no screen, old dingy curtains pushed over to the side. The moon lit room felt lonely. I fought my want to be filled with fear and struggled just to move from my seated position on the mattress and get up. Feeling like I was escaping or something. I didn’t identify where I was or who these people were but somehow, I was determined to leave that room.
Perhaps this strength came from all those nights as a child, needing to pee but afraid to walk in the dark?
My stroll to the door was a drift type motion, slow as I reached for the handle with great amounts of effort. The glide of my hand flowing up seemed to take a few hours, but I grabbed it, turned it and walked out. Holding onto the walls slowly sashaying down the brightly lit dirty hallway to the back room where I could hear everyone was still busy hanging out, laughing and having a good time. The hall lights were so intense for my sleepy, heavy eyes. The house seemed somewhat abandoned.
I walked into the back room where all the “normal” people were sitting. And sat down next to my boyfriend on the mattress. He put his hand on my knee and asked if I was okay. I nodded and continued to sit quietly. When suddenly I sensed the strangest notion in the bottom half of my body.
It scared me.
I thought, “Oh my God I gotta go pee.” But I didn’t want to tell him or anyone else for that matter. But without knowing it, I’d said it out loud to myself and boyfriend heard me and leaned in to ask if I wanted him to take me to the bathroom. I guess I said yes because the next thing I knew he helped me up and guided me to the bathroom down the hall. But then he came into the bathroom with me and at that moment, I realized I’d never peed in front of a guy before. It was daunting but I really didn’t care after about two point five seconds because I was about to pee in my pants!! And that would have been a whole other drama of embarrassment to add.
He kindly turned his whole body around as I went. He was super kind and patient about the whole experience. He took care of me for what seemed a lifetime. My 5'2 frame self kept looking up to his 6'1 build with terrified eyes asking if he was sure “it” was gonna go away. He always responded it would and to just stay calm. But staying calm wasn’t easy to do in the face of fear and a scary as heck looking environment. So he eventually he took me outside for a walk. And when I stepped out of that house, I must have gasped out loud because I just remember… the trees!!! Like giant shadows of the most powerful magnitude. Their magnificence took my breath away. The enormousness of those trees! OH, the sky, oh the glory of the vastness of the sky and all its stars! Oh how ‘great’ it all felt. Greatness surrounded me. More than anything I could feel the trees like if they were old people standing there towering over me. Big giant, kind, calm people standing around watching time speed by.
After we came back into the house, this time I was led to lay down in a bed. And the fear returned in waves pulling me like gravity shifting from inside my awareness. I only wanted it to stop. To go away. But it didn’t, and it wouldn’t. Until it was over. Until it had "run… its course".
As I lay there afraid . . . my mind . . . told me, “You’re just gonna end up in a mental institution, you should probably just... end this now.
Go…. kill yourself”........ And I imagined myself going to the kitchen, grabbing a knife from a drawer and cutting my own throat. Ending it all. I didn’t envision the physical pain or blood or anything, but my mind wanted me to walk to the kitchen and urged I go, over and over, again and again. This thought kept coming back, this fear of being locked up and forgotten. Like a dark force sitting next to me I couldn’t push away because it was a fog.
So, I did the one thing I remembered to do when I’m scared. I started praying out loud. Asking God to make it go away please. Saying I’d never smoke again. I was begging at that point. In the background I could hear people laughing at me, but I didn’t care, I just wanted it to stop. To simply go away. Gently rocking side to side but still it wouldn’t go! My legs were moving slowly in a gentle kicking motion like a deranged cricket, crying quietly saying “Please God, please God.” Over and over again. Clenching my hands together under my chin. Until FINALLY I started noticing those waves were pulling me out less and less frequently and maybe there was hope of it really ending and I won’t need to kill myself after all.
After the longest wait, finally the gripping feeling gently released. Like if it no longer came to divide. The waves no longer pulled me out. No longer did I feel separate from me. But now I was left feeling completely embarrassed, humiliated.
Somehow mom was waiting for us in the driveway. I walked out looking down haaaard. Trying so hard not to look anyone in the eyes. Hoping mom wouldn’t know what I’d done. But after going through the independence of having been kicked out and coming back, I didn’t really care all that much. She didn’t say anything though. I tried smoking again a few weeks later but it was the same damn scary as damn hell kind of experience once again!! And this time I was left glued to the couch. Afraid to go be around anyone and mostly afraid of myself. Feeling guilty because I promised God, I’d never do it again, and here I was, praying, asking for it to just stop or go away again. Which it did. Eventually.
After those two times, I stayed away from smoking all together and instead drank some "Boons Farm" with the homies on those hang out occasions. But I’ll never forget my first-time smoking because later on in life I'd be introduced to it again.
Chapter: Carolina G. Is
I was born in Long Beach California waaaaaaaay back in 1982. My sister Regina was a year and half older than me. The days were filled with secondhand cigarette smoke and the smell of beer on the breath of people who would carry me around for a short time if I asked them to. I’m told they loved how I asked to be held with my hands up, snapping my fingers together with my thumb like a lobster saying, “heavy, heavy.” Because I was a big boned child and every time someone picked me up, they’d say “wow she’s heavy.” Though in Grandma Cecilia’s old pictures I look mostly fat but let’s just blame my bones.
I lived in many of the surrounding cities but mostly grew up in my favorite home city, Long Beach. It's sacred to me. It’s my hood. The place where I grew into a troubled young girl whose behaviors were concerning but mostly concealed. I always wanted to make people happy and to feel welcome and when I eventually found out how to do that, I matured into a determined young woman seeking to fulfill my life’s purpose/work in this world.
My dad was a U.S Marine first and foremost. This was his absolute pride. He was also a diehard fan of that old famous pirate style football team. Whose general mentality is to be rough, tough and don’t take no stuff. Raiders Baby!
Dad had a giant 18 tattooed on the top of his entire left hand. But his affiliation to the rough life only added stronger shades of a large, scary lookin Mexican man, to his characteristics. But I didn’t know him or view him as a gang member or soldier. To me he was just my dad and I loved him. Mom was from a gang too, though she claimed to not 'really' be in. In her Chola years she was one beautiful chola. Yes sir. I loved looking at the pictures of the Chola hair styles and the make-up they wore. Though some girls kept an angry look on their faces, the make-up was undeniably on fleek!
Mom and dad met in a juvenile detention home and dad became her protector. He told my sister and I; she’d been violently violated, and this was what made him wanna protect her. It hurt to hear she'd experienced something so horrible but loved hearing the old stories and what it was like when they first met. I always knew he still loved her.
I would sometimes envision them back in the seventies and imagine they met in a time so amazingly different from my own. Even though mom and dad were straight up gang members, I later found them to be quite intelligent. And I realized the 'crap' they got into was a reaction to their surroundings, upbringing and mistreatment. They weren’t deep into the lifestyle. But I didn’t get to understand this gem of a truth until my mid-thirties. They weren’t a perfect couple from what I understood but I loved both of them, a lot. However, for a long time I didn’t want to be like either one of them.
I was sometimes proud of their gangster type style and status and felt a sense of pride when my dad would protect us from weirdo’s being too close to his daughters. But then he’d also end up in conflicts with normal people and I’d be standing there humiliated begging him to stop, asking if we could just go. Then I'd feel annoyed by him the whole drive home and get home angry. In my middle school years I liked the feeling of belonging to a group of friends. But I didn’t wanna see pictures of myself as a "hardened girl". I didn’t want a life of black and silver. I wanted a rose-colored life. To be the girl who was sweet and gentle, and everyone loved to be around.
But life was a knife styled shaper and first I had to learn to be a harder shade of kind and a sharper bladed likeness.
My earliest childhood memory is when I was about four or five years old. I remember wanting to be with my grandma pretty often, but also feeling she loved Regina more than me. Favoritism was a normal thing and practiced by both mom and grandma. Mind games. But that lesson taught me to practice making all my children feel special to me in their own ways.
It was daytime, I remember leaving mom’s house which was weird at my age, making conscious decisions. I was walking to grandma’s house. I took my little legs and set out on a journey but didn’t get far because people seen me alone on the street and called the police. Whom found and questioned me. I told them I was heading to my grandma’s house and thankfully they didn’t take me home. They took me to grandmas house instead.
I remember feeling a sense of being safe and protected as they gently put me in the back of the police car and drove me around to find grandma’s house. Asking me to point her house out and if the streets looked familiar. When I got to grandma’s house, she fed me and let me hang out for a little while. But then it was time to go back home, and the feeling inside changed back to sadness. I vividly remember the feeling of not wanting to go home. Grandma Cecilia said I always cried to stay with her, even at the slightest sight of her putting on her work clothes. I remember feeling this deep lingering yearning which made me super emotional, most of the time while Regina was always the logical one and me the wild, crazy, unpredictable one.
Time passed and mom and dad were fighting all the time, which resulted in divorce. Grandma took care of us more often than ever and we now lived with her. One sunny day as me and Regina were playing outside in front of the house on the sidewalk with a couple neighbor friends, a man walked by and stopped to ask if we wanted some "candy".
Classic right? It’s an eighties thing. He looked like a normal man to me, but to everyone else he was dangerous. They all backed away and watched as I took a moment to weigh the danger and reward. Thinking to myself, “I can probably go grab that candy and run away really fast and he won’t even be able to catch me.” I felt the tension from Regina standing a few feet behind watching me ponder, urging I stay away, saying “No Caroline don’t. Come on let’s go.” But I couldn’t resist. I mean, I just knew for sure I could get that candy and if he tried to take me, I’d just scream and fight so loud and hard he’d HAVE to let me go. Plus, I was completely positive he wasn’t gonna try and “take me”.
So, I did exactly what I knew I shouldn’t but trusted I’d get away with.
Slowly, methodically I walked up to him and lifted my hand to take the candy. Feet planted firmly but very far away, quickly I grabbed the candy from his big man hand, then swift as a squirrel, turned and jetted away from him. Fast as I could possibly run! We were all running now everyone headed home.
Me with a big ol' smile! But as soon as we got home, before we even walked in the front door, Regina turned back to me with distain and pure anger on her face and said "I'm telling grandma". She was mad I’d even dared and said the stupid candy was probably poisoned. But I was reeling with the rush from running and the joy from having gotten free candy. So, I happily enjoyed it alone. Until grandma got home, then straight to grandma she went to tell on me. Which resulted in my getting into trouble of course.
I was a risk taker also known as being ‘dumb’ sometimes but more than anything I was a hard head or “mule head", as Grammy so lovingly referred to me as. I remained this way throughout adolescence and today still wrestle with some essences of it but have come to understand my personality is not shaped by who I am. I shape it with what I choose to do. So, although I don’t take candy from strangers anymore, I continue to take risks. However, those risks are weighed against the love I know instead of completely lacking consideration, as it was when I was a child. This practice alone made the “me” of today so much more aware of who I am in this world, than yesterday.
Besides being hard headed, I was soft hearted and caring and wanted to help people. Grandma shared a cute story with me from when I was three years old. Saying I asked a man at the bus stop if he was saved by Jesus. She said he laughed a little and seemed shocked that I’d ask such a thing. Nonetheless Grandma said she was ever surprised by my love for Christ at such a young age. And now I’m able to be thankful for the ability to appreciate that love as well.
For a while I figured my child mind asked that man if he was “saved” because I was afraid of people burning alive in "hell". And not wanting others to suffer. But as I got older I learned people suffer greatly within themselves and the act of caring enough just to ask, can literally pull someone out of suffering.
I'd found motivation to live, in a work to serve others for the meek result of knowing someone else is able to live a more fulfilling, joy filled life. Finally, I understood Jesus is a loving and gentle spirit whom walks with us when we want. And I know he is good because I’ve felt and seen love within people influenced by his spirit and their actions toward others was selfless kindness. Even in the midst of abandonment and blaming God, I learned the truth of how it must hurt God to see us not helping each other and loving each other, rather working to hurt each other. I mean come on! He has feelings too people. He’s probably the most ‘feelingest’ man you’d ever meet. And so at three years old I wanted others to not be in pain. However, it’s quite common for children to naturally care about others when they’re raised around teachings of love and caring… for others.
With this foundation of mind, I formed a strange way of rationalizing elements of my childhood abuse as “valuable” for growth instead of destructive or some sort of punishment from God. I began to accept the abuse instead of trying to get it off of me like a scab that won’t detach and hurts every time you pull at it. I learned God already loved me because he was the one who helped me become who I am. But the overall choices have always been, my own. Still, I know he won’t leave me for making "wrong choices". When I remember these facts, my fear completely relaxes like a sound wave disappearing.
I’ve questioned my intentions for being possibly selfish in not wanting to see others hurt. But is it truly selfishness to 'not want to suffer' by seeing others in pain? Maybe not. Though most definitely it’s selfish if I choose to look away instead of helping in some way so that I just won't have to see it. Still, I maintain a need to know I’ve tried to stop the suffering and start the healing and that’s where it must remain.
I vividly remember being in a court room with mom and dad, looking around at all the giant ceilings and smelly wooden furniture everywhere. Everyone seemed so serious, callous and somehow unfriendly to each other. Those “court days” were heavy on my heart but the warm gentle sun on my face and shoulders as we walked out of the courthouse, came and went like a gentle white butterfly, so light. I felt so tired at the end of the day, drained being woken up at the earliest butt crack of dawn. I’ll never forget those sleepy mornings. For a long time, I’d experience slight heavy, sad feelings getting up early in the morning on any given day. More lets be honest, I hated getting up early. Until I started resolving my experiences and accepting the childhood I was given. Soon I became excited to wake up, eager even, to work on this book and fulfill any aspect of "this work". It all became another reason to feel blessed by the love of my work in massage.
Dad reminded me of one court visit where in the midst of so much loud arguing, suddenly I stood up and yelled at everyone. Dad said the judge instructed everyone to let me speak and I asked, “Why can’t I just be with both my mommy and daddy?” Other days we played in the children’s playroom with occasional visits to talk with a counselor who had us act out on dolls what we remembered having happened to us. But I only remember the feeling of wanting that counselor to like me.
I wasn’t old enough for kindergarten yet when those court visits began. But I remember a deep sorrow felt for not being allowed to say goodbye to my dad as we all walked out of the building and back to the car with my Uncle Jack and grandma Cecilia. Dad looked so frustrated and upset, so sad. And I just wanted to hug him and tell him that it was okay. That we loved him and wanted to be with him too.
But I was escorted away from the court building quickly, holding someone’s hand as we walked down the stairs to the sidewalk. People going back and forth. A man posted up at the edge of it all with huge printed pictures of a black man with swollen blackened eyes, mouth and lumps all over his face, laying on a hospital bed. I later found out his name was Rodney King. The man with the signs was saying the police had beaten him so badly he almost died. It made me feel terrible and confused.
But I forgot about myself for a short moment in thought of him. Throughout the many 'court day’s memories' and embarrassing stuff I’ve done, I’ve held one particular memory for a very long time.
On this day, we were all leaving court the same way we had so many times before. But this time as we walked, I kept looking back at mom and her boyfriend walking behind us. Wanting to go to her so badly, not understanding why they wouldn’t just let me go hug her? Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and yanked my hand down, turned and ran to her jumping into her arms crying intensely hard as she held me. Feeling so torn, scared and confused about my feelings of knowing how much I didn’t actually even want to be with her yet yearned for her affections. Completely conflicted and torn inside. I remember a sudden feeling of remorse for being happy in some moments when we weren’t with her. And now that we're going through this, maybe it was my fault for that exact reason.
Everyone turned and walked to us. Forming a circle around with mom hugging me crouched down on the gum splattered cement. I heard others crying softly with us now. But after those few moments of holding tightly and though I’d tried to hold on for dear life. I was pulled away and forced to go with my uncle and grandma Cecilia.
Mom and Dad’s parenting rights were stripped away completely at this point.
As an adult dad confided to me having formed a drug habit for a time during all this turmoil and how he often felt like ending his own life. How the military called him in for questioning by high ranking Marines about the whole case. I felt his shame as he described it all. Along with him I felt guilty because I remembered one particular part I played in our court days. During a time when I’d developed a lying habit. Though not all of the claims were a lie, and that eventually split us indefinitely. I know I had wronged my dad and it hurt me.
Ever desperate to gain mom’s favor, yet hating feeling more like an annoyance to her any other time, I just loved her. One particular mind game mom used most often fueled so much anger within me. She’d say, “Come sit by me mija” to my sister, then turn to me and say, “You stay over there, THIS is my favorite.” Regina says she would make me the favorite sometimes too. But I don’t remember feeling special or enjoying anything. I remember the frustration and feeling unwanted.. Dad always just said “Okay mija”. I think he knew.
Ever desperate to gain mom’s favor, yet hating feeling more like an annoyance to her any other time, I just loved her. One particular mind game mom used most often fueled so much anger within me. She’d say, “Come sit by me mija” to my sister, then turn to me and say, “You stay over there, THIS is my favorite.” Regina says she would make me the favorite sometimes too. But, I don’t remember feeling special or enjoying anything. I remember the frustration and feeling unwanted. I hated being left out, pushed aside, un-favored. And it felt good to be liked regardless if it was only when I had something juicy to tell her. A few years after we had been through court the first time, I was about ten, one night she was paying attention to and talking with my sister in the room. Feeling left out having nothing to give her, I created a scenario in my mind. Then came and told her dad committed some pretty outrageous abuses on me.
I knew we had went to court for what happened that night when Dad gave Regina cereal in the middle of the night after she woke up crying, and I remember that feeling of urge to protect her, but I didn’t understand the weight of the whole situation in the least. Before I knew it, things went from bad to worse and there we were AGAIN! Up early going to court to talk to people in suits. That was my mind at that level. I didn’t even rationalize the weight of mental torment a claim of this scale, could do to another. I only knew it brought me misery once again.
Dad was the target unfortunately, however the matter was quickly found out. Still I can only now imagine how detrimental this news was for him to hear. When I finally admitted to the lie, I felt even less "liked" by everyone around me. Stuck between court, mom, dad and grandma. The courts eventually put us back in mom’s care permanently and things went from sad to miserably worse. I was happy to go be with her but once were back there she turned mean all over again. Back and forth in smelly old hotels with mom and her boyfriend. I remember most vividly the hotel in Long Beach on Pine Avenue. So many of the buildings were ancient and I really liked the intricate designs on the walls outside the buildings. It gave me this feeling of being in an old fascinating black and white classic movie or something.
Regina and I made friends quickly and played outside all day long. I remember feeling no guilt for going along with all our friends and chasing this tall older homeless lady down the street to supposedly take her purse, which someone said, had a bunch of money. I remember us all laughing, it was a game to us and quite funny. Now I hope the poor old lady wasn’t too frightened.
Frequently we’d all go walking around the streets looking for pennies in the gutters to buy sugar straw candies at the local liquor store. For a penny! Playing in the streets, alleys and parks was fun and freeing. Though it was also the reason we’d catch head lice often. Mom cleverly slaughtered the bugs by having Uncle Jim give us hair perms. Which left us with super-duper tight curls, lookin like little ol’ orphan Annie frizzie haired girls. Free of bugs however, so that’s all that really mattered. Points for effort. And who am I to judge anyway, I literally died my daughters hair once because I couldn’t afford the treatments. She was like twelve, don't judge me!
There was this one Christmas we spent with mom in another more modern hotel and I know this sounds really bad, but it wasn’t as sad and pitiful as you might imagine. Most of our Christmas’ were happy and we never went without. Thankfully someone in the family always shared the love by stepping in to take care of us somehow. This Christmas in particular was filled with presents and an actual tree with decorations, and Oooh so many gifts! Destroying wrapping paper on brand new toys and my heart pacing in joy and excitement, was like being served ten bowls of ice cream after ten years in a desert. Such a wonderful experience. But a few weeks later we all rushed out of the Hotel room for some reason. Forced to leave behind my brand-new toys and some clothes too. Sadness churned in my stomach as we drove off without our Teddy Ruxpen and the book reading goose with a lady’s voice, along with so many others. Teddy was a creepy little talking bear, but I really liked him.
Living hotel to hotel only lasted a short while and it wasn’t all bad I mean, the basis for comparison didn’t exist. Those memories of things like three-day parties where everyone’s walking around drinking n partying, blasting tunes on the record player. Salt N Pepper and all the favorites. Those were some of my fondest memories. Uncle Jack and uncle Jim were the ones who made sure we had food to eat and went to bed under warm covers. Birthday parties and holidays were always off the chain. Especially Halloween. Uncle Jack went all out digging a grave and headstone with a fake body. We hung real chicken feet around. So much fun, Easter baskets and ice block rides down grass hills, just so much. My uncles were and still are wonderful. I thank God for them.
Eventually we ended up living in an apartment with mom and her boyfriend Johnathan. Mom’s struggle with addiction was at its finest grips and we’d often go to school with dirty clothes, stinky socks and no baths. If we showed up at all. I remember classmates making fun or behaving like they just didn’t wanna be around me, all the damn time. If mom ever made dinner, it was for Johnathan and if we were lucky, we’d get the leftovers. But mom explained Johnathan was a troubled soul. Wrestling with his own memories of childhood abuse which resulted in his own addictions. Though he was, for a short time, responsible enough to hold a steady job. All I could see through my wide child eyes; was how he’d sometimes be considerably nice to me and for some reason favored me over my sister. Which I thought was awesome considering I was always the least favorited.
One special day, mom and Johnathan were loudly having ‘relations’ in the bedroom. Door wide open. It was a small two-bedroom apartment and we were sleeping on the couches in the living room. Ever so uncomfortable with the loud streaming sounds, I began joking around, sneaking, peeking, running back and forth. I was laughing but Regina kept telling me to stop or we’d get in trouble. Until Johnathan angrily burst out of the room! I blinked hard and covered my head with my arms, thinking he was coming to get me but immediately he looked over and went straight for her. Spanking her hard with his giant man hand on her small butt. Her little body jolted with each strike. The sound of her crying out in pain still hurts my heart today. The thought of it alone brings tears.
Guilt screamed at me from inside for so many years. Even though it was complete fear that dictated every move I didn’t make to stop him. My young mind swore I could have screamed to him that it was really my fault. I was the one sneaking and peeking through the door. But now she lay crying in pain. I hated myself for it throughout many years growing up. Always keeping the memory of remorse with me and regretting not telling him it was me. Even though I apologized to her as adults and she said she forgave me. I realized I had a problem with being able to fully forgive myself. It was also during this time I developed more of a problem with peeing in my pants. And it wasn’t that I couldn’t locate a bathroom every time. No, I just didn’t want to go, so I’d put it off and put it off. Mostly I remember being terrified by a scene from a movie with a scary monster hand coming up from the toilet. So instead of going to the bathroom, I tried to hold it in every time. Regardless if I was playing, I’d just stop, bend down holding my privates onto the heel of my foot to hold the urge in, until it went away. I’d do this again and again until finally it would just break through to my horror. Sometimes I’d want to cry. So ashamed trying to hide my back side hoping nobody would see or smell me. It was another good reason to hate being me.
Dirty smelly me. Anyway, moving along.
On another special day, living in the same duplex apartment. Regina and I were, as usual, sitting on the floor in front of the TV in the living room, watching MTV. Mom had one of her female drinking buddies over. When out of the blue, like if someone had dropped an atomic fart, Raquel jumped up, ran toward the back door and left. No shoes, no sweater, no words. Out. She just left.
Bamboozled, everyone looked around. Nobody knew why she left but we all got up together and walked over to the back door to look out. But as I stood next to them looking out, I knew I needed to go be with her. So, ever slowly and methodically, I snuck over to the closet and put my shoes on quietly, casually. I walked back up behind mom and her friend, gesturing with ‘pretend movements’ as I stepped out through the door to look around. My face puzzled like if I too was “wondering” along with them. But once I was fully outside of the door and out of their reach, I turned and charged off down the driveway to the alley in the direction I thought she would have gone. My heart raced so fast. It was terrifying to run away from my scary ass mom man. If she had grabbed me, I’d probably have another “special day” story to tell you about, but she didn’t... so.
When I got to the alley, I found Regina squatting down, hiding next to a dumpster. One we often went ‘dumpster diving’ in. There she was crying into her hands. I ran up and asked her what happened. Without looking up she said, “mom told her friend she was gonna kill me. She said she brought me into this world, she can take me out.” I thought back but all I’d remembered hearing was both of them laughing from behind me as they sat on the couch. I wasn’t paying attention like my sister did. But I knew she was telling the truth and was definately scared, so I stayed with her.
We didn’t know where to go, but she said we needed to get away from mom and call the police at the meat market around the corner. Our neighborhood market always smelled like some good Mexican items and fresh stuff. I have nothing to compare the scent to. Anyway, they were often kind enough to let us purchase mom’s Nyquil with food stamps. Apparently, Nyquil can cause feelings of drunkenness along with relieving symptoms of a cold. Now this kind of thing wasn’t surprising or obvious I mean my uncle Jack told me we were always hungry and how I used to eat potatoes like apples from the floor, as a baby. Potatoes are still my fav to this day. Anyway.
We banged on the front door of the liquor store, for what seemed like a long petrifying time, until Sarah, the teenage daughter of the owner of the store. finally came and let us in. She cashiered there pretty often and we considered her our friend because she was always nice to us when everyone else seemed annoyed. Quickly we ran in, my sister with no shoes on, nervous that mom might just come around the corner at any moment. In tears, we told Sarah what happened and that we wanted to call the police. Standing there scared with a feeling of darkness around me and the familiar urge to get away.
The police arrived and listened to us. Then turned and did some police stuff and said they were going to find our mom. My heart dumped into my stomach and I was terrified. Looking around at these very serious men in uniforms. The bright lights shining throughout the whole store. Now the store owners whole family was standing there in their pajamas watching us. Shivering anticipating seeing what happens next but I didn’t know they were gonna bring mom in to see us. I thought we’d just be taken away from her. I hoped. And now I have to see those scary “I’m gonna kill you” eyes. Geez man I felt like I’d done something wrong and was gonna get caught.
Just then, she stepped in. I stopped breathing. She looked right at me and reached into my eyes with her scary soul and squeezed my soul neck tightly. I knew she hated me for sure now. But she had her normal annoyed smirk and was definitely drunk. I could see it in the way she couldn’t focus her eyes and was standing wobbly. My sister stood next to me in the produce aisle as the police told us they were going to bring her over to us. Oh, my got!! For one terrible moment I thought they were gonna believe her over us. I cautiously waited to flinch from her strike to my face at any second. But mostly looked down as they asked her questions in front of us. My heart was racing. So afraid I almost couldn't breathe when the officer asked me and my sister to repeat what had happened. Mom looked directly at me with such disgust. Like she had distain for my existence. Almost like she really believed I was the one who was in the wrong there. But then they took her away in hand cuffs. It wasn’t the first time. And wouldn’t be the last either.
Mom eventually came back home and we were returned to her care and occasions continued to occur. One time I’d gotten into trouble for something and mom called me into the bedroom where she was laying down in bed, to “scold” me. I stood there afraid and waiting for her to punish me as she questioned in her usual disdainful tone and voice. When suddenly she reached over to the dresser beside her, picked up an empty glass cup; one from the Mexican food dish called “mole,” and chucked it right at my head. It flew by my face so close I heard the sound of the air whizzing as it passed. It hit the wall behind me and bounced off hitting my leg as I jumped away. She continued uttering angry hurtful things at me in a calm cold way, then ordered me to the refrigerator to get a pickled jalapeños for me eat as punishment. I stood there crying as my mouth burned, coughing from the hot spice.
The next day I was so upset my second-grade teacher asked me to stay after class to talk to her. She was one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Kiddleson. Reluctantly I told her I was afraid to go home, and she hugged me saying it’d be okay. So, I told her what happened. Then she had a student take me to the office, where I spoke with the counselor. The counselor was so gentle and kind in her tone and approach, I immediately started crying while describing what happened. She hugged and comforted me. When she picked me up and sat me on her lap saying she wished she could adopt me, squeezing me with her arms, I wished she could. But that didn’t happen.
Things were bad and getting worse. Being forced to eat whole pickled jalapenos was more of a common thing now, and for the simplest reasons like saying “bad” words such as, ‘butt nugget’.
Regina recently revealed one of her most traumatic memories of my abuse, from around this same time, I was about six or seven years old. Doing dishes in the kitchen. She and mom were sitting next to each other in the living room. Mom drunk as normal, when mom’s big huge boyfriend Johnathan (the one I thought favored me) came into the kitchen yelling that I was supposed to wash the pans last because the oil was gonna get all over the other dishes. Regina said he took off his belt and began to beat me and as I screamed at each strike of his belt but she was most confused and scared by the fact that our mom didn’t even flinch saying, “she didn’t care one bit and sat there in her stupor without a concern in the world.” But that memory doesn’t hurt me because I don’t remember it. But I could tell it still hurts her. The occurrence occurred while living in that apartment on Junipero ave. The same place where we all welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world. My little sister Jazmine. I resented her. And for no reason other than I was miserable.
Most nights were drunken party time in that apartment with mom and that’s when we kids would hide from her. I vividly remember taking a bag of potato chips into the closet with our five-month-old baby sister in her car seat. We hid because if mom seen us out or around, she’d make us come dance or entertain her and her friends. Or just sit there next to her for hours and hours no matter how sleepy we were. It was a torture I learned to avoid though most tortures were unavoidable. Though some memories in this apartment were actually pretty funny looking back. Like I’ll never forget mom’s old man neighbor friend, an old sun beat skin feller who reminded me of someone from the hills (hill billy) with his usual faded overall jeans and long dirty messy scraggly hair. He lived in back of our duplex in a tiny little light blue house.
On more than a few occasions mom took me back there with her to ask him for beer. He was always kind. He’d invite us in to sit and then pop some popcorn and put it in a bowl for me to eat at almost every visit. But it always had something in it that looked like a wet booger. It was gross, but I was hungry, so I just ate around the booger looking thing. Now realizing it was probably just something like a melted piece of the butter paper wrapper.
His house smelled like dust, beer and cigarette smoke. He also allowed one of his friends to sleep in his old green station wagon in the driveway. Mom called that guy, “Dirty divin dunkin Dave.” Dirty ol Dave seemed like a hokey older man who fought in a world war or something. He was always dirty, and sun burned with tons of army green clothes piled on. But he seemed like a cool dude for the most part. Whenever we'd see him, he seemed to be going someplace but nowhere at the same time.
However more than all of those memories put together and like a sharp scar located deep within my spiritual esteem. I’ll always remember the putrid gasp I'd release after the everlasting initial smell of his car door opening. Oh deathly assault! It hit my face right in the kisser every single time mom made me get into that car with her. Oh, the stench was so HORRID, PEUTRID AND RANK. Like stinky feet, dirty butt and old unwashed clothes and blankets. Praise the Lord I’ve never smelled anything like that since! More than anything I praise God he was actually a pretty nice dude. He never tried to be weird or hurtful. He seemed like a super kindhearted stinky old man, looking back.
There we all were. Sitting in his wagon in the back area where he slept. Poor guy clearly just wanted to go back to sleep. But mom wasn’t having it. If she needed someone to entertain her it was gonna happen. But beyond all my stories and memories of situations and occurrences. One most terrible and dreadful memory lays still in silence. Buried deep within the recesses of my being. Beyond unforgettable.
One night when one of my little female cousins was over and our neighbor friend too, us four were all playing around in the house. Everyone under ten years old. Mom paying us no mind because she was preoccupied with her two male friends she had over. Soon we all noticed how the three of them kept going in and out of the bathroom. No clue what they were doing but knowing it was something sneaky, a few of us decided to start bothering them by poking our fingers under the door, knocking, giggling then running away.
We played like this for a little while, having an all-around fun time. “Fun.” Until I heard the back door open.
In slow motion I looked up as HE walked in. The others didn’t notice yet, they were all still giggling and playing under the door. My mind quickly registered that he was not at all happy. Johnathan stopped in his tracks and looked over at what we were doing. Then his face turned to anger. Suspicion turned into RAGE within seconds. Terror filled my body and I felt frozen, like when you can’t scream in a nightmare.
He was a 6’4 tall, Caucasian heavy Big Rig Diesel truck driving man in steel toed boots with a fairly large gut. On his “being nice” occasions he took me on the road with him and let me help him at work. I remember climbing to the top of the truck to throw the ties to the other side once. He also took me dirt bike riding sometimes. Which, I was so small I couldn’t even hold the dirt bike up on my own. But he held the bike while I climbed up. Revved the engine. And took off to go around and around the track.
Slowly I stood up without looking away from him and stepped back as he entered the room. I tapped someone on shoulders but no one payed me any mind. Until they heard him. Faces shot up to see him and his deep angry voice saying, “What are you doing, get away from the door?” Quickly we all stepped away as he laid into the door, banging loudly yelling, “Open the fu**en door. What the fu** are you doing in there?”
We all ran into the living room. Finally, they opened the door and the two guys walked out. “Friends” of theirs. Two Native American Indian brothers. One just recently out of prison. Tattoos, dark black hair parted in the middle, slicked back. Muscular build. I remember him always playing around with me or teaching me something. But he didn’t play around with Regina the same way. The other brother was a husky, shorter dude with a slightly long feather haircut. I still remember it bouncing in the air with his fast-long paced strides.
I looked in from the living room and mom was sitting on the bathroom floor hunched over the side of the tub. Her body slumped, limp on the floor with her arms and head drooping over. The brothers walked out the back door as Jonathan grabbed her up off the ground by her arm and sat her on the toilet. She looked so sleepy. He yelled at her to wake up. Her head wobbled back but her eyes were slightly opened. He got up and dragged her out of the bathroom by the top of her hair to the living room. Slammed her down sitting position onto the couch then slapped her face really hard. We all jumped at the sound of the slap from his large hand hitting. He yelled, “What the fu** were you doing in there”? Slap!! Then again, “What the fu** were you doing in there, answer me.” SLAP!
With each slap we jumped. Through my cloudy tears I was saying “no”, begging him to stop, “please, please stop hitting my mommy.” But he kept slapping her over and over again. She looked dazed. I could hear her crying with a weak moan, but I don’t remember seeing tears. She just kept mumbling, “nothing, nothing.” Suddenly he stood up and grabbed her by the hair again. Picked her up by the arm and leg, over his head and threw her against the wall. Behind the pulled out couch away from the wall.
We all screamed, “Noooo” watching her small five-foot frame body hit the wall then floor with a thud and slight bounce. She didn’t scream or anything she just slowly crawled out from behind the couch. My sister and I went to help her up. I remember shaking as we placed her back on the couch. He walked to the kitchen in the back. I believe he knew they were doing drugs because I heard mom ask about “the rock” at another party.
But I think he was mostly angry she was with the two guys in the bathroom. I’ll never know.
Finally, one of the two brothers came back into the house through the back door and tried to talk to him. They began arguing then Johnathan left out the back door. In tears I asked the one brother who I thought was my friend, to help my mom. Begging that we needed to call the cops, but we don’t have a phone. So, he took me outside and we both looked around trying to figure out where to call from, I told him we should to the Mexican bar on the corner of the street. It was nighttime now; I remember the streetlights when we got to the bar.
But they wouldn’t let us use their phone and told me I was too young to be in there. So, we went to the meat market next door. It was closed. Nobody answered the door this time. As a last resort I went to the neighbor’s house, whose front door was about three feet away from ours. But they wouldn’t open the door either. Yelling back to us from inside, with a heavy Spanish accent, “We don’t want no problems.” Regina told me they’d reported mom for child abuse, so in turn mom was pretty unfriendly to them most of the time.
Nowhere else to go, I kept knocking and begging them at the door, crying and sobbing, “Please I need to call the police.” Standing there, with my head almost resting on the door. I looked around behind me for a few seconds when finally, reluctantly, they let me in. Moms friend stayed at the door. My hands shaking as I gripped their house phone. It felt large in my small hands, dialing 911 on the green glowing numbers.
My senses were heightened and I'd stopped crying enough to speak to the operator’s questions as she guided me into my next steps. I told them I couldn’t stay on the phone and hung up. Tearfully I handed the phone back to my neighbors. Thanked them and walked out the front door. Straight back into my terrifying living room. Moms male friends left again as we waited and waited for what felt like a few days and nights for the police to get there. Now we were alone sitting with mom. I remember the dark quietness of the living room. Mom occasionally let out soft sobs, barely able to sit up in her chair, she seemed dazed but somewhat aware.
Until Johnathan came back in and went straight for her. Grabbing her by the hair on the top of her head again but this time he dragged her outside to the front yard. We kids’ clung to each other. Too scared to move, so scared but we all stepped outside. He had her hunched up against a wall. He was kicking her in her privates, as hard as he could, repeatedly. She was sitting against the brick wall with her legs sprawled out open, her head wobbly with her hair hanging down in her face, like she was dead.
He kicked her SO hard, so many times with his steel toe boots, over and over again.
We were all sobbing but begging him to stop. I remember the feeling of the skin on my arms as I touched it holding myself. The wetness of my face when I roughly wiped my dirty hands against it in frustration. Because he wouldn’t stop. It just kept going on and on. None of the neighbors would step in. People were walking by on the other side of the street, but no one stopped to help us. They all looked scared too.
Regina recalled us looking like a crying choir of children standing on the double stair entry way. Weeping in unison. The two brothers came back again somehow and we were about twenty feet away from it all. The husky brothers name was Dan. He seemed to be trying to hold his brother Tom back. It seemed like Tom wanted to help her. But inevitably, nobody did.
Weeping, begging for him to stop in a low tone, “mommy…. mommy.”
Suddenly I got this thought in my mind that I should go grab a knife and jump on Johnathan's back and stab him. But then, as though my thought was broadcast over a loudspeaker, immediately he turned around and looked directly at me, dead in my eyes like if he heard me say I was gonna stab him. His hateful face expression raging eyes warned me and he yelled. “If you fu**ing try anything, Ill fu**ing kill you.” He turned and walked toward us, my stomach jumped with dread as I’m shaking, thinking he was coming to get me. But he went to the back.
To this day I don’t know how he knew my plan to get a knife, maybe I had said it out loud without realizing.
Mom lay unconscious slumped over on the ground her back against the brick wall. We ran up to her, put her arms over our shoulders. Carried her back into the house and sat her on a kitchen chair. I remember the bloody gash that looked like a crack in the front of her forehead between her eyebrows. We stood next to her hoping to protect her from him. Tom and Dan were gone now and so were most of the kids that were with us. I don’t know where or with whom they all went but now it was just me and Regina again when Johnathan came back into the house from the back. But this time like the calvary we longed for.
Three loud BIG bangs on the front door, then a loud strong voice rang out, “LONG BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT, OPEN THE DOOR”! But he wouldn’t open the door.
Regina recalled to me; a giant shotgun slowly entered between the curtains pointing directly at the side of his head. He opened up the door then went down to his knees as they cuffed and took him away.
We sat there with my bloody beat up mom after she was instructed by the police to wait for the ambulance to come and take her to the hospital. It was the 90’s in Long Beach on Junipero avenue and Anaheim blvd. Better known as “the hood”. We waited and waited for the ambulance. And then waited some more. We waited so long that the blood on mom’s face dried up and she started trying to clean it off, but Regina stopped her saying not to because people might not believe what happened. WOW, imagine that. Such are the thoughts of a child in this hell of a situation.
Finally, the ambulance came for mom. We went with them but all I could do was look at her and feel sad. Then our EMT pulled out a marker and drew two eyes and a mouth on his plastic blue glove. He made his hand make a squeaking sound, turning his hand into a small animal. I remember feeling better when he did this for us, trying to make us smile. I’ll never forget the kindness I felt from that man.
We got to the hospital, and they walked us into the ER, but it was jam packed with people and we’d have to wait for hours to be seen. Mom didn’t want to wait. So, all three of us just left and walked home. Moms eyes were swollen almost shut, her entire face, dark pink and puffy as we walked down the streets. With the bright car lights, I could see the dried blood in her hair. Dried blood everywhere. People were staring at us. Our cold trembling bodies walking slowly down Anaheim Boulevard. We were taken away from mom again. And even though we were taken away pretty often, every single time felt awful.
I remember walking up to the CPS workers car and getting in the back seat by myself. Looking out the window at the house as we drove off. Feeling so alone, so afraid. Rationalizing somehow this was my fault, I did something wrong. I remember my head hanging low in extreme heavy weight from sadness gripping my stomach tightly like a snake, slowly taking my life. Most often the foster homes couldn’t take all three of us. So, we were separated, and that felt worse than bad.
After that, one of our dad’s brother’s Tio Mando, heard about us all being split up and decided to step in and asked the court for custody of all three of us so we could be kept together. It was granted. My dads mom, Grandma Mia lived there as well and helped care for us all. The food was amazing. I remember feeling peace and joy with being kept active and full of food all the time. Tio put me and my sister in soft ball on a team called ‘The Little A’s’. I’m glad we had fun and got to experience something we’d never known before. Learning team building skills and social interaction. But of course, I managed to embarrass myself at our very first game by waiting to go pee until I was way out in the outfield. Neither knowing where the bathroom was in order to run to it, so desperate. Dancing nervously until ever so horribly I sit down on my heel but this time, I peed my pants. I felt disgusting in my wet smelly white Ninja Turtle's shorts.
I once peed in the back seat of my grandpa’s brand spanking new car when he took us out somewhere. All bad. Always walking around in shame and disappointing people in some way. I genuinely hated myself for the humiliation. I hated waiting for someone to laugh at me or point out my wet shorts. I’d often beg to borrow a sweater to tie around my waist. Which is equivalent to asking, “Please let me pee on your sweater”.
Tio also immediately enrolled us both in school. But when he found out I was held back a year he decided to place me in the correct grade in attempt to fix the problem. I believe he felt I would simply catch up. Third vs second. But when I sat in class, everyone was so far ahead of me. I felt lost and nervous during writing time in particular. I remember staring at the lead of the pencil where it met the paper. Not knowing how to read, let alone how to write in cursive. Anticipating everyone making fun of me. It was obvious I couldn’t do what everyone else could do. The fear turned into pain then panic. I was an outsider who didn’t belong, didn’t know what to do and not smart. So, I froze staring down at the journal for a few moments while everyone else wrote quietly. My eyes began to cloud with tears. I was crying softly attempting to copy them when the teacher seen me crying and had a student walk me out to the hall as she called the office.
Once my grade was fixed, I enjoyed school. I liked the really cool clothes and shoes tio bought us. The pink and white L.A. Gear tennis shoes with silver glitter laced into the shoelaces. He always had us lookin ‘Baller’. It was nice to be clean and not feel disliked by everyone for my offensive odor and appearance. He took us out places and made sure we were having fun. His girlfriend and her two sons often helped with us and I felt happy to be with them all. Handsome tio Mando has a most comforting voice, fairly deep it sounds like a blues singer. He was firm but always smiling and had a great sense of humor.
He’d come pick us up from school in his nice shiny new Black Honda. Beats thumpin from his whole car. Always smelling so fresh and so clean. Tio’s cologne was just as memorable as Dirty Divin Dunkin Dave’s smelliness however they were both kindhearted.
I remember feeling proud to be picked up after school by him because he was so cool.
Going to school every day esteemed a sense of importance in me and now I wanted to join the drill team. The girls practiced stomping and clapping in unison as we strolled by. Days felt amazing. The foster homes were done and gone, and family felt so much more comfortable and familiar. Tio gave me the feeling of what it was like to be loved and cared about and now we were doing great. But then grandma Cecilia also wanted us to go live with her now and our judge agreed. I believe it was because grandma had cared for us since we were babies. We sadly said bye to Tio Mando and Grandma Mia and didn’t see them again for a pretty long time.
Years passed until another family get together and we got to see Tio again. But every time we did, he'd remind us as adults, how he didn’t wanna let us go all those years ago. Explaining how he felt he could have done better for us and how it broke his heart to send us away. I can only thank God for both of them. For everyone who took care of us or kept us all together. I’ll never forget our days living with Tio and his loving heart. Taking care of children is difficult and filled with responsibilities and he did a great thing by keeping us together. So much love to all the Tio’s and Tia’s in the world.
All three of us were moved away to a city called Quail Valley in Riverside County with grandma Cecilia. Uncle Jack and uncle Jim lived right down the street too, so they’d often help grandma with us in many ways. At grandma’s house, things continued to go good but now I had major behavioral issues with discipline, acting out and being angry. Regina was wiser and tried to do as she was told, so like always, she was again favored. Which made me even angrier feeling abundantly less wanted once again. Grandma would put me in the back-laundry room when I “acted up”. So, one day in a fit of rage, I picked up a chair and tossed it through the glass window. Grandma thought I’d punched the window out and said it was a miracle from God that I "didn’t get a single scratch on me".
My sister bullied me as we began to develop a “normal,” sisterly relationship. She’d punk me around regularly. However, Uncle Jack kept telling me someday I’d be bigger than her and she wouldn’t be able to punk me around anymore. And I believed him. So, one day I felt like ‘today is that day’. And when she walked up to demand I move and let her sit in my seat, I said “NO.” Surprised at my insolence she made her angry face and demandingly said, “Move… NOW.” I hesitatingly stood up, looked her square in the eyes at her smirking face, knowing she thought I was going to obey in fear like normal. But instead I punched her square in the nose without even thinking.
She caught her balance and stepped back looking shocked with her glasses falling crooked onto the bridge of her nose. Both of us surprised at what I’d just done. My mouth dropped open and together we gasped in unison. Then immediately about 2.3 seconds later terror filled my stomach and I darted out the front door as she lay chase screaming, “I’m gonna kill you!”
We ran around and around the house about five times until grandma came out and ever so calmly told us, that was enough. Till this day we laugh about that memory.
The days were warm and slow. No problems. We would explore around the little hilly areas with all our friends on our bikes. Jumping dirt hills. Sometimes finding guppies in a pond after the rain, we’d take them home to watch them turn into frogs. But they'd just die, so my sister buried them and put a tiny little cross made of sticks above their respective grave. I learned mom was now homeless and living on the streets with Tom. Visiting mom was mostly sad. She had large round welts on her arms which I now know to be ring worm. Her face looked swollen from the excessive drinking. But I still loved and missed her.
Somehow at some point she got off the streets. She told me when I grew up that she knocked on a church door to ask for food one day and her aunt Bella, Grandma Cecilias sister answered. She worked there as a Kindergarten Teacher and wept after she realized it was her niece standing before her in the doorway. Aunt Bella helped her bring her life to Christ and mom came out of homelessness and entered into an alcohol recovery program.
She eventually stopped drinking and got it together enough to ask the judge for another chance at bringing us back with her. She had a stable job now at Pick-N-Save and was studying hard at the local city college. She was officially someone I had never met before and I was thoroughly impressed by her smarts because she was in a club for “straight A students” called; Alpha Gama Delta Kai. I’ll never forget that title. I was so eager and ready to return with her, but my sister definitely was not. Even for visitation times I’d go alone because Regina just didn’t want to see mom. Soon I found out how even though she was sober, she was still mean and often scolded me. But continually, I desperately wanted to be with her.
She was now living with her boyfriend Tom’s grandmother. Because he was sent back to prison for some reason. Eventually we were allowed to have visits with dad too. He had moved on with his life also and now had a new girlfriend and they had a daughter together. Though that relationship also failed. He was now living back with his grandmother in East LA. In a tiny little house in the back of other houses. And there was no room for him, so they let him sleep under the kitchen table at night. I remember the hall was so small filled with things everywhere. The pink bathroom, a painting hanging on the wall of a Native American man carrying a dead or sleeping girl in his arms over a hill.
Both mom and dad were now attempting to scold me often, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t have respect for either of them and it was growing. I didn’t have respect for many authority figures at this time. I was angry. Grandma had us going to Sunday school each week and even took us to see a counselor regularly. Unfortunately, it discontinued after we were eventually sent back with mom. The love I had for my mom and dad faded into a different kind of hurt and pain. And I gradually began to dislike both of them. Being less than twelve years old now and staying with mom in her rented room for the summer, it felt good to have mom all to myself.
Tom’s grandmother was a mix of French and Native American. Her back considerably hunched, wearing baggy, large, saggy clothing. Her knees shifted in and she had very short dark grey hair and a considerably unfriendly appearance in her features. Her chin was long, with deep sharp eyebrows very high up and a droopiness to her face. She'd drag her feet as she walked. Her expressions were hard and unkind. At first, she seemed somehow nice but as time progressed, I started to notice how strange a woman she actually was. She'd sometimes sit at her vanity topless, more and more often after one day when I passed by and seen her through the slightly opened door and she seen me see her and showed me that she seen me but was purposely pretending to not see me and stayed naked where she was.
Staring at her own sagging boobs like a weirdo. And from then on, she would leave her door cracked wide open all the time. I felt guilty having seen her indecent, but peculiar that she wanted me to look at her naked. Looking back, it seems she was literally trying to seduce me as a child for some reason.