Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Chapter: The Nice Chola
One time my dad took me and my sister Regina to buy some tennis shoes at a store in his neck of the woods, East LA. I was about thirteen or fourteen, looking like a normal nerdy type little girl. Never in fashion like my sister. Who looked like a hard core mean chola with the giant black jean Ben Davis Pants, a small pin stripped shirt with blue and white Adidas strapped to her her feet. Her hair was long, v shaped reaching to the small of her back and black, parted like a McDonalds sign in the middle. Eye liner thick, black noir. We walked in and I followed her to the Nike section when we were met by some unhappy chola looking girls, sitting there a few feet ahead of us, trying shoes on. As we approached to pass them, they all looked up at both of us and started mad dogging my sister hard. Not a single blink. Again, even though my sister was mean to me and harsh at times, she was MY sister and even though she looked and dressed like a hardened chola, I knew she was delicate. And I wasn’t about to let no one run up on her. These B*tches just effed with the wrong quera.
They hadn’t even notice me walking up and I'm sure it's because I looked so non threatening. When I got right in front of them I turned around, really annoyed and said, “She’s really fu**en pretty huh? What the fu** are you looking at? You got a fu**ing problem or something?” They looked at me surprised. As though it surprised them I was even talking and gave me the look you give someone when you think they're weird. They seemed surprised but quickly replied, “Fu** you B*tch.” To which I replied wide eyed, “fu** you b*tch”, and they said it again… then I said it back, until they said… “fu** you”. I believe we said it a good four times each. Strangely the ones who were seated stayed seated. But no one made a move. I was ready to take them ALL! Every last one of em was about to have heads rolled. My rage was on boil status. No one eff’s with my sister man! Let’s do this. I stood there looking at them. Staring contest champion here, don’t play!
The store owner yelled over the shoe isles and my dad walked up with a little smile on his mouth and waved for me to come to him saying, “Quera come here.” I turned around really slow, keeping my wide open crazy green eyes piercing theirs. Their husband or boyfriend was standing about ten feet away on another isle saying, “What the F*ck” as we passed. We were all immediately asked to leave the store by the dude running the store. I was heated, breathing heavy and I wanted to fight these bit**e’s so badly OOUUUFF we bout to blow!! Walking out of the store headed to dads burgundy two door, sunroof, loud, speedy little car. We’re all laughing mostly. I loved making him proud, hearing him tell me I was loca and “down”.
Then he turned the key in the engine and... silence. It wouldn’t start! He tried a few more times and NOOOO. How embarrassing!!!!! We all got out and started looking under the hood. My sister standing behind the door as me and dad go to see what’s wrong. He’s trying to fix the problem, when they all walked out in their group. I looked at them without looking away and watched as they got in their car. They drove by smirking at us, looking out the windows saying, “Yea bit** now what bit**”. When out of my mouth flew something that mortified me as I heard it escape.
LOUDLY, I yelled, “Fu** you bitch suck my pus**.”
I died. At that moment I died!
My dad was standing right there by me and I couldn’t believe I had just said that! I’d never said something like THAT before and now I just felt dumb and like a damn weirdo. Ahhh But they just kept driving. So embarrassed but I didn't let it show. Dad didn’t say anything about it. He was pretty intimidating looking himself and even though he was a champion for the innocents, always standing up for people, he’d also beat a fool down real quick if they got disrespectful or tried to run up. I remember when he told me how some girl came to my moms house when they were teenagers and wanted to fight her and he told her to go out there and fight her. And how he let them fight for a little bit then pulled my mom off the other girl. Mom was a thug.
Finally, he got the car started and we bolted out of the parking lot! We were all laughing together talking about it, feeling all pumped and like a family united. Back then I liked fighting. I took Martial Arts classes and learned some basic fighting styles such as Jiu Jitsu, Tae kwon do and a few more styles. I was pretty darn good at it too. Competitive. I won first place in my first fight tournament. I fought boys and won and loved feeling strong. On another occasion, when we lived at my tia Vanessa’s house in San Pedro for a short while at one point. She enrolled us into a summer school program at a place called, “Toberman Park.” It was some sort of summer school thing. Well, I got into a fight with a girl over a tether ball game. She was trying to cheat and getting loud in my face thinking I’d back down, so things got heated. I got angry and we began to brawl it out. Rolling down the hill. All the other kids on the playground watching us. I stopped hitting her once I was on top and felt like I won. Everyone was yelling saying “oooouuu.”
As I walked away some girl came up and told me to go over to the older girls table. I got there and a couple of the older chola’s were saying I kicked her ass and I’m so down. They were so pretty in all their make-up. Aqua net hair styles. They said they were gonna call me “La gatha,” which means ‘cat eyes’ in Spanish. I liked it. It felt like I belonged.
At elementary school age I maintained so many racially diverse friends, and hadn’t even noticed anyone or my own race, till about fifth grade. That's when it became suddenly obvious which group I was supposed to sit with, play with and be friends with. I was kinda sad about it. I felt rejected and like I didn’t belong or have any friends anymore. I didn’t “look” like the other Mexican girls nor could I speak Spanish. But I wasn’t a "white girl" either. I had a few African American acquaintances but not close friends to walk around with and always go sit by at lunch. So, for a while I learned what it was like to be a “loner”. Until a few of the Americanized Mexican girls decided to be my friends, and for once I truly felt a part of a group.
One day when mom was driving us home from school, the DJ made an announcement that some singer named ‘Selena’, was just shot and killed. Not knowing who she was till she passed away, when I got to school the next day my friends showed me some more of her songs. Mom liked her music too and bought the music tapes so we could all sing in the car together. We even liked some of her Spanish songs too. But I liked her English album more than anything. My friends and I sang together under the stairs at school. Then decided we should start our own little singing group. These were my same friends who helped me run away from home and hid me in their houses.
We had so much fun together and still maintained some levels of little girlhood. Until the older, meaner girls became part of our group too. That was when my demeanor changed from being a nice-ish girl with anger issues, to doing things like “mad dogging”, and being outrightly confrontational. Although I too got punked around a few times by meaner girls. And that was definately a really crappy feeling, so I didn’t make it a habit of doing that to other girls. But I’d always defend myself. However, of course I do have at least ONE super embarrassing lesson I learned about not bullying others.
One day at lunch time, after I was told some girl named Rachel was trying to talk to “my man”. They pointed her out, so I went up to her in front of everyone! At the lunch tables. Where all the kids in eighth grade sat and were eating. I was in fifth grade. But I didn’t care about differences or any reasons I should possibly be scared. I thought about how I wasn’t scared. Which I learned to do from constant night terrors almost every single night. Falling asleep was one of the most terrifying things to do. I’d be lying there looking at the silhouette of bunched up blankets at the end of my bed, and think to myself “oh my god what is that”? And I’d freeze in terror. Pulling my feet slowly up away from the end of the bed, so afraid it was gonna be a hand or something. But then I’d tell myself, “okay, just grab it, just hit it”. And I would. I’d face that fear, then exhausted fall asleep.
I tapped Rachel on her shoulder and asked why she was talking to 'my man', she just kept saying she didn’t like him and didn’t know what I was talking about. I didn't know what to say back though so I just kept saying “you better not” but felt really stupid walking away from her. Then our school’s janitor called me over and told me about how I should never fight over some boy. Which made complete sense, so it stuck with me.
My school started out as bungalows in a parking lot. Also known as CIS. It was right next to Long Beach City College. A famous rapper had gone there too. Warren G. Then a grant was issued and the city decided to move the school around the corner and rebuilt it all together. It was now a big cement series of buildings named ‘Mary Butler Elementary School, A performing arts school.’ With a new principle and structure, they offered many different creative type classes. Over those few years I chose Karate, calligraphy, ‘folklorico’ dancing and theatre amongst others. I loved my teacher Mrs. Brown. She taught me acting, singing and writing, how to trill our lips for practice before singing and about her days when she played the part of ‘Annie’, in a theatrical play. She was short in stature and totally resembled the Annie character big time! With short curly brown locks and a round, freckled face. It was really cool being in class with her. Her personality was shiny and friendly. She was someone I wanted to be like.
But all my fun classes didn’t keep me away from the racial grouping habits of our day to day lives. Which often got us into trouble. One day we were all waiting outside the gate when the new girl in our class went walking by on the other side of the street. She was a friendly but shy Latina girl, I could tell was the kind who had loving, caring parents. So automatically we all didn’t like her. My "friends" created other reasons to not like her, but I knew in my heart we were all simply jealous of her. At once they all started talking about jumping her. Everyone, about five of us all in agreement. But deep inside once we headed across the street toward her, as I stepped off the curb, in the middle of the street something inside reminded me she was just a nice innocent girl. And suddenly I wanted to protect her. So, I stopped them in the middle of the street saying, “wait you guys, think about this, whatever we do is gonna come right back to us and hit us hard on the ass.”
I don’t know why I said it, or what made me think of those words, they just came out. Everyone looked at me with squinted eyebrows, then said “what? Well I guess.” I could tell they knew I was right. Plus, by now the girl was gone. It was too late. So, everyone split up and we all walked our separate ways.
A few months later I found out through the grape vine that an older girl who hadn’t liked me from the first time she seen me in the fourth grade, even though she was an eighth grader, was at my school again and wanted to fight me. I always looked older than my age so by now I looked like a high schooler, but I was only in the fifth grade. Plus, I was held back a year. And don’t forget about my ‘’big bones.” My problem with this girl started the year before, when she got jealous about her boyfriend liking me and of course I liked him too, because he was way cute. She had come up to me and told me to stay away from him. She was really mean, a lot bigger and older than me and everyone said I should be afraid of her, so I was, and I did stay away.
School was so much nicer when she left for high school and I didn’t have to see her ugly mad dogging face in the hall or at lunch anymore. Now she was attending my sister’s high school. Still my home life was miserable and I hated my mom. One night my sister was on the phone with one of her guy friends from school. We were all joking around talking on the phone showing each other songs we had on tape. When my sister’s friend put some guy friend on the phone to talk to me. It was a casual conversation nothing special, I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me, but it was a fun conversation.
The very next day, I got caught by our male hippy type substitute teacher, passing a note that said we were gonna get some “sigs.” I don’t know why I literally thought this choice of substitute wording was a good undercover word to use for ‘cigarettes. But anyway, we got caught and I was kept after class as he gently tried to explain to me that he too wanted to be cool way back when he was in school, when the dinosarus roamed but smoking wasn’t the way to do it. I didn’t give him a major attitude because he was making a genuine effort to be nice to me but now, I was mad because I was being punished and when I got home late I’d have to deal with mom’s crap. I sat watching the clock when finally, the time was up. Angrily I stepped outside of the classroom heading down the stairs when a bunch of my classmates ran up to me and said ol chick from my elementary school days, was there to fight me. That one who left for high school and always hated me because she was a jealous hateful lil thing.
I thought to myself, “great now more problems.” I was visibly annoyed more than afraid to fight her. I walked to the gate and there she was, waiting by the entrance. Long thick copper wavy hair down to her waist, in a low ponytail. She walked up to me with her little sister who had the same hair style and color. She was in one of my classes but her personality was quiet more than anything.
Right into my face home girl began telling me that I don’t need to be talking to her boyfriend and now she’s gonna kick my ass. She turned around to walk outside of school grounds and my only reply was, “what are you talking about, whatever then.” But as we all walked together in a large crowd, I remembered the advice our janitor had given me after I’d humiliated myself trying to confront another girl for this exact same stupid thing. So before we reached the very outer limits of the gates I stopped her saying, “Hey look". She stopped and turned to face me as I said, "I ain’t about to fight you over some guy.” She quickly looked at me with this annoyed and disgusted look on her face, and slowly replied, “You know what... Biiiitc*.”
Those were the last words I heard her say because I blacked out.
I came too as we were rolling down a small grass hill. I was holding her hair with a tight grip, both hands clutching her head, my mouth wide open, teeth clenching down on her head. I was literally trying to bite her head off. She landed on top of me and began punching both my sides. But it felt like a pillow fight. I could tell she’d been in a few fights but I wasn’t about to let her win, so as I held her hair tightly with both hands I realized I had to let her go in order to fight back. So I pushed her head up and as she sat back I brought my legs up and wrapping them around her neck from behind throwing her to the ground. She didn't expect that move at all, most kids don't fight like that but I was a Van Damn fan so I used moves I'd seen in the movies. She fell backwards and I began speed bag kicking her in the face. Then a police siren rang out.
My friend ran up and broke us up and punched her away from me yelling, “The police are coming.” But I didn’t hear them till I jumped up from the ground and then I got really scared. That’s all I need is to get in trouble with the police after all this. We bolted toward the street and as I looked back, I seen ol Chick getting up fixing her hair with her face beet red. Then I glanced over to the small side street and seen my substitute teacher, the one that had scolded me earlier, sitting there in his car. He was watching the whole thing with what looked like a bit of a smile on his face. I took it he was happy for me not getting beat down. I couldn’t believe he didn’t even try to stop us. I guess he was cool after all. I grew a new respect for him.
As me and my friends headed to the street everyone ran up praising me for how it turned out. But I was still mad because now I'd get home even later and had to explain the scratch on my cheek to mom. I walked to the bus stop with a feeling of emptiness and fear in anticipation to face my punishment. When I got home mom and her boyfriend just happened to be outside pulling groceries out of the trunk. She looked over at me and asked why I was late, I hesitated, looking down trying to hide the side of my face. But she peeped the scratch on my face and then looked away from me saying nothing. She gave me a gesture to stay with her while her boyfriend walked inside the gate.
Ready for her to slap me in the face or start cussing me out but to my utter surprise she turned and looked at my face and in a very low calm voice asked, “Did you get into a fight?” Reluctantly I replied, “Yea.” I was ready. My mind said, ‘bring it’, and my arms were ready to block her strikes. Then she asked, “did you kick her ass?” I looked at her in shock, squinted eyebrows and felt a gentle smile on my face and replied “yea.” She said “good.”
I was shocked. All she cared about was that I won. She left it at that, and I didn’t even get punished at all. The next morning, I woke up feeling good for the first time in a long time. I loved to make my mom proud. When I got to school the day things continued to be good besides when some of ol chick’s friends whispering down the hall, claiming she’d kicked my ass, but it didn’t matter to me because I wasn’t afraid of her anymore and I knew I won.
A few months later I was almost thirteen, and lost my virginity to a boy who said, “Ok, get off me now” after it was over. That was it. THAT was my special day. Innocence lost. My want to be liked by boys only grew. A time passed and the days were sometimes bland and sometimes just okay. When I turned fourteen my need for attention from guys was the main focus of my mind and desires. Life at home was becoming more depressing, I slept a lot because I felt tired so much. Mom would take us to family gatherings sometimes and our time with family was enjoyable, but we’d always have to go back home with the people I continued to hate.
I tried to commit suicide on two separate occasions. The first time, I was sitting on the bathroom floor in the middle of the day, listening to my mind convince my feelings that I was miserable living with mom and her boyfriend. So, I grabbed a razor and started trying to cut into my wrist, but it hurt really badly… so I just sat there crying wishing I wasn’t there. Feeling bad for myself.
Another time I was in the kitchen washing dishes, mom’s boyfriend Tom standing over me imposing his annoying attempts to lecture me about how I needed to clean things right. Fed up I grabbed a knife and put it to my neck to cut my own throat right there in front of him. He wrestled the knife away from me all dramatic yelling at me for “doing something so dumb.” They passed it off as me trying to get attention and swept it under the rug. Because why would I ever be so desperate to not want to live anymore, due to any form of mistreatment? How ridiculous of me.
Many years later my little sister Jazmine revealed to mom and Regina, that it was during this same time, mom’s boyfriend Tom was violating her in horrific ways. But I didn’t know anything about it. I only knew I hated life and wished I was never sent back to her. I started missing my grandma. Often feeling I was just some sort of "possession" of her's who was just supposed to obey in order to be allowed any sort of peace from her leaving me alone. A hole inside me grew darker, ever empty and miserable. I stayed outside with my roller blades most days and made friends around the neighborhood. New neighbors moved in, and one of the girls went to my sister’s high school. She was a "meanish" looking chola, with real crispy, curly bleached hair and dark roots.
But she seemed nice to me, so I’d tag along with my sister and even go over to her house and hang out alone at times. One night she took me to an underground club thing, and it was fun and super exciting with the loud music and lights and people everywhere. But then a guy totally rejected me, and I looked and felt so dumb. I left feeling like I wasn’t good enough. My new friend often had her very lenient dad’s car so, we’d go out driving around sometimes. She had guy friends who’d come and hang out while her dad was at work. One of the guys (a former boyfriend to my friends closest friend) got my number and arranged for me to "go out,” with him. Eagerly and so happy to feel wanted or desired in any way, I jumped and waited for the hour to hit, then excitedly threw my white platform heels down from the second story window, holding tightly to the sheets I’d tied together and quietly climbed down into the dirty, smelly alley. Wearing my prettiest shimmering dress. It was off white with big beautiful brown and peach flowers printed all over. I have the fashion sense of an old lady; I know... but it works for me.
Like a boss, or a dumbo, I walked up the alley and waited for him at a mechanics shop across the street. But as I stood there, a cop drove by and I seen him clearly look directly at me and my heart dropped to the ground when he stopped his car and turned around and began heading my way. I panicked and ducked down behind the car. My knees on the gravel. He circled around, terrified I’m crawling around staying close to the ground, so scared. But finally, he just left instead of getting out to investigate. Oh, Thank Gooood! My heart almost fell out of my chest, it was beating so hard.
I dusted my knees off and continued to wait. A short while later a white car pulled up with my rebel style dressed guy that I liked so much. He got out and guided me to get into the back seat while he sat in the front. He smelled so good, manly cologne and freshly cleaned clothes. We went to pick up his friends’ girlfriend. She was pretty and had pretty hair and seemed taken care of, but she didn’t seem friendly at all. We went to some house party where my knight in shining armor immediately took me to a back room to disrespect me. Then we went to his friend’s job, a car shop, to “hang out.” And he took me in the bathroom, laid his jacket on the floor and proceeded to treat me like a real classy lady. When we came out, his friend had left us there and now we were stranded.
Oh my God!!!! No. Wait!! How the hell am I gonna get home? My life was over. There weren’t any buses running at this time of night and we were on the West side of Long beach, I lived on the East side! If I can’t get home, how the heck am I gonna explain this to mom? She won’t believe anything I say. Oh my God I’m in so much trouble! My excitement turned to sad fear, reluctantly we walked back to his house which wasn’t too far from the shop. He walked me into his house from the back, where his room was. Showed me his bed and told me to just hide under his bed covers and stay there the night, and without having any choice. I did. His dad walked in and I ducked under the blanket so fast! He said something to him in Spanish, but I laid so still, he didn’t even notice me. I hardly slept and mostly worried about the next day. More than anything I was afraid I'd fart in my sleep or something? I’d never slept in bed with a boy before and this was so uncomfortable. I didn’t even know this guy. I’m in so much trouble. It was all over and I knew it.
The morning came and I rushed to the earliest bus. Humiliated walking down the street in my not so white platform heels. I got home and the door was unlocked, but no one was there. Terrified I tried to do things that I thought might alleviate mom’s anger like cleaning the house and organizing things, but inevitably I knew how she was going to react. Once everything was clean and I didn’t have anything to look like I was doing, for when she walked in, I just sat on the couch and waited in fear. So much fear. Then I heard them coming up the stairs. My heart started racing. She came in the front door with my sister Regina. They both looked over at me sitting on the couch. Regina had her eye brows up in that ever annoying face she'd make at me when she was glad I was gonna get in trouble. Right away and quickly mom walked up to my face pointing with her finger, yelling at me, “where the fu** were you”!? But I couldn’t tell her where I was, I was too ashamed.
The yelling and questioning continued, and my silence commenced. Her verbal assaults pummeled me as I sat quietly now crying softly but trying to hold it in. Growing more and more ashamed finally, she said the key words I was waiting so badly to hear so I could escape that moment, “If you’re not going to fu**ing tell me, then you can get the fu** out!”
With that, I literally jumped up and walked out the front door. I just couldn’t tell her. I went to a phone booth and called my only friend, my meanish chola neighbor with crispy curly hair because even though she was mean sometimes, I knew she would come get me. I’d realized she was mean after we’d gone out one night to a dance club and this large bouncer guy liked me, so he gave me a VIP party pass necklace thing. She demanded I let her see it, then decided not to give it back to me. That’s just how she was. But no matter, I had no one to call, so I called her. She picked me up in her dad’s car. I told her what happened, and she took me to the mall and bought me some food. After that she devised a plan for me to see if I could stay with one of her friend’s mom’s somewhere in a city I'd never heard of. We went to Norwalk, but her friend was only there visiting from Northern Cali where she lived with her grandma. A place called Redding.
We explained to her mom what happened to me but lied about my age, so she’d let me stay with no fear of police involvement, and she did. I told everyone I was seventeen and they believed me. It was fun for a while and I liked how people treated me differently. Better.
The ladies house was the tiniest little apartment I’d ever seen in my life located conveniently behind a bigger house, down a very industrialized street. It was about the size of a camper but staying there was perfect. I was thankful, very thankful for her not sending me back to my mom. At some point my friend came back a few days later and took me out with her and a few other girls to a house party with a bunch of basketball playing almost cholo type party guys, who were bragging about the crew they started, naming it by the last three digits of their zip code. It was in this "party house" that I met my first daughter’s father. He was tall, dark and handsome and couldn’t stop staring at my low-cut blouse. I liked the attention.
Overall, he was the nice guy of the bunch, from what I could tell. So I felt attracted to him and he me. We hung out every single day after that. He took me with him everywhere and even hid me in his room for a few days, until his dad yelled at him in Spanish, “that’s enough, she needs to go.” Embarrassingly he escorted me outside, of which the walk through the living room was supremely humiliating.
So, I had to go back to that ladies’ house but now I didn’t like it there anymore. She was using some sort of drugs every day and seemed fidgety and troubled like she always had some problems or something. It was only her and her youngest daughter of about seven or eight years old but her boyfriend often came to stay with her too. One day she had some guy visiting and they both started asking me questions and told me I should try some of this white powder stuff, explaining how to snort it up my nose. The whole interaction was really strange, and I didn’t feel safe but instead of saying no thanks, I didn’t wanna be weird or ungrateful, so I got up and took the stuff to the bathroom and snorted it up my nose.
But the moment it was in the back of my throat it was so disgusting; I turned to the sink and just threw it back up. I heard them giggling in the background. I never even felt any of its effects because it didn’t actually get into my body thank God! Which I was so thankful for later on in life.
They both started behaving strange and seemed so weird. The dude started panicking and saying the cops were coming, looking out the windows over and over again trying to convince me that people were coming for him, and I’d look out and tell him I didn’t see anyone. Eventually he fell asleep.
After a few days of staying with her she was now saying I needed to find a guy to go stay with and called up some guys she knew, then she took me to a few parties and tried to pass me off on them. It felt really awkward and I knew I needed to go, and I only understood her actions as helpful, but I also felt like a prostitute, even though I’d never did anything with them. This whole thing was horrible, and I began to feel really desperate and alone. I knew my mom didn’t want me there either, her screaming at me was the last image in my head so I didn’t know what to do.
Then one the ladies hard core mean chola "friends" called and asked if I could go stay with her and she’d pay me to baby sit. I was more than happy to go but when I got there it was really sad to see the children uncared for. Eating top ramen as a main and only course and the house was pretty run down. This older chola looked more heavy set and still wore the old school fanned-out lion hair do, with loads of aqua net.
These chicks were real mean cholas and I found out just how mean when they took me with them across the street one day. A few other girls were with us and one said that these guys don’t like them because they’re from a Norwalk gang and we were now in Artesia, across the street. We were greeted by a heavily tatted very serious mean, prison looking type shirtless cholo dude. He walked up to us with a high-powered rifle hanging from his shoulder, questioning, “where you from?" I almost felt the urge to be afraid, but his approach seemed cooler like he was just trying to look “hard” because we were all girls. But it was pretty alarming with the gun and all. I’d heard about the dangers of hanging out in the “one ways.”
I couldn’t believe this was happening, but it was real, these ladies were real deal gangsters, the ones that do crimes and drugs and stuff. Talkin bout the real mean cholas. That day I felt out of place more than I’d ever felt before in my fourteen years. But nothing bad happened to us. One of the ladies had just went and talked to some guy in the house or something and then we left. The lady I was babysitting for had a sister who needed a babysitter also so I was sent to her to take care of her kids too. I never seen any pay at this point and when I got to the house to watch the kids, the poor children were so emotionally disturbed that one of the little girls didn’t speak at all, and would just rock back and forth on her grandmother’s recliner, wanting her mommy to come visit her. It was all very sad. Maybe because the little girl on the recliner reminded me of myself.
I would hold her and try to make her smile, but she was so unhappy. It was like she was trapped inside of a cage of misery that only her mom could open, so she sat waiting staring at the tv for hours. Detached.
Some weeks passed and that familiar feeling of being a burden came to usher me out, and it was time to go. Things became strained between me and the tall, dark handsome guy I was hanging out with too. Then I spoke with the girl I’d met through my friend, from Redding on the phone, the one whose mom I was staying with and she said I should go live up there with her. She had a one-year old son and they both lived with her grandma whom was apparently cool if I came and stayed there. When I met her she was another old ex chola. I didn't care though, I was beyond elated, so optimistic and thankful! Happy to go but first I needed money for a bus ticket. The lady knew her “friends” weren’t going to pay me for babysitting. Using people seemed to be a common thing with these ladies. But I guess she felt bad for me so she ended up taking me with her going from house to house trying to get money from a whole bunch of other guys she knew. It worked and I left.
When I got to Redding things seemed low key and I was bored most days. So I called my mom's house after a few days and talked to my sister on the phone but during our one conversation, she said mom was telling everyone I ran away. My anger burned harder and more hatred for her filled me. And now I was a pathetic mess of a young girl looking and hoping for some man, to take care of me. It didn’t happen that way though. I only developed this cycle of being used and rejected again, and again. Like some sort of mental pattern of self-abuse. I was unknowingly attracted to things that would hurt me. Guys who would happily use me and quickly discard me.
After a few months and some drama with a neighbor’s jealous girlfriend, my friend told me she couldn’t afford to have me living there anymore, and I needed to go. Sadly, again feeling like such a burden, I found out that living "on my own" was nothing like I thought it’d be.
I called an older cousin who was more like an uncle to me, knowing I could trust him to not just send me back to mom’s house because he said if I ever needed anything at all to just call him. He seemed like a nice older loud cholo type man. But to me, he was my uncle E.
Immediately he bought me a bus ticket for the very next day. And in tears I said good bye to my helpful friend, her grandma and her little son even though I could tell they were tired of having me there. As I sat on the bus looking at the scenery, I realized I’d learned a lot about how some people can help you but you will eventually need to learn to take care of yourself because they will get tired of you just as quickly. I understood more now that even though mom and dad were a couple of real ex-gang members too, they both also found Jesus and were into church and stuff and I appreciated that more than ever before. And even though I liked hearing about their fight stories dad liked to share, but he usually kept it PG, they were both very kind and sincerely trying to be good parents to the best of their ability.
Mom has two tear drops by each side of her eyes to this day, and the famous three dots on her hand. I also etched those same three dots into my own hand with a sowing needle and ink from a ball point pen, but two of my dots faded away with time thank God! And my last one faded inevitably over time. People would look at me differently when they noticed that tat. And it wasn’t a good, loving or welcoming look either. They associated anyone who had been in that life style as being those mean chola type people.
Being around all these people and their habits and practices, I definitely knew I wasn’t like them. I wasn’t a “chola.” I’m just me and I want to be nice. I wanna be better than what I see. But when I got back home, it was all the same old thing all over again. Except now mom lived in her own apartment, because she split from weird Tom. Except she ended up renting the apartment beneath his in a two-story duplex, just in case she needed him to do anything I figured. But her abusive, selfish nature was still present.
One sweet memory I can share that might make ya chuckle happened when mom yelled to me from the shower to get her some soap. Being a joker and always wanting to make her and others laugh, I handed her the dish soap, but she didn’t laugh, her reply was, “fu*king ass*ole.”
I went back to school, and barely graduated from the eighth grade due to the few months of school time I’d missed. There was another girl in my class who had similar issues and had just returned from having too experienced a “run away” situation also. She was half black, half white and had green eyes like me and one of us was supposed to win our picture in the yearbook for prettiest eyes. But neither of us were allowed because we'd missed too much school.
We didn’t care though. We were just happy to feel slightly normal again and be back in school. I truly felt close to her, she understood me and me her. Looking back, I notice somehow the people I end up loving the most sometimes started out as the ones I disliked or tried to fight because I’d almost gotten into a fight with her when we very first met, over something so dumb in class too. But instead of throwing down we became good friends and that fact bonded us even closer.
Eventually I also got back in touch with that tall, dark handsome guy from Norwalk who helped me and let me stay with him for a bit. Turned out he would eventually become my first daughters dad. He seemed nice enough and still wanted to talk to me. So, we went out a few times and became boyfriend and girlfriend after a few weeks but not like he asked me to be with him or anything, it was undeclared. He was going to college and brought me with him a few times. I felt special when he’d pick me up from school in his nice car thumping loud 2 Pac jams. Me with my older boyfriend ayeeee.
Until one day when another incident occurred at home.
Mom, Regina and I were all getting ready to go out for the day, Regina sitting on the floor in front of the mirror on the closet door putting her eyebrows on. When out of nowhere they started arguing. Regina got up from the floor and immediately mom slapped her across the face. So I jumped over and pushed mom away saying, “Stop it!” I didn’t care if she hit me, I wasn’t afraid of her anymore. And I wasn’t about to just let her hurt my sister anymore either. I put my fists up and got into my karate fighting stance, ready to fight. She stepped into her stance too and threw a weak kick, landing it on my leg. Mom had joined the martial arts classes for a few months too and now thought she was Steven Seagal. I stepped back and waited for her to fight more.
But just like before, my sister ran out of the house with no shoes on. So I ran out behind her and we crossed the street to find a phone booth to call her new boyfriend. He was a good friend of my new boyfriend. We of course didn’t have money so as usual, I was the one who had to pan handle from passersby’s until we had enough to make a call. There we were again, waiting for help to get away from this abusive lady we called mom. I gave her my socks while we waited. Her boyfriend finally got there in his Burgundy Regal. We went to Norwalk where they both lived. Regina stayed at her man's house with his parents and I went to my boyfriend’s house with his parents after he explained the situation, they allowed me to stay for good. Things seemed to be good and it felt like maybe he loved me, until I woke up one night and he wasn’t asleep next to me.
There was sleeping on the floor in the living room because his sister took his room. Their was no way to getting a hold of him and I had no idea what happened to him or where he went. Here I am a stranger in his parents’ house and him not being there just made me feel even more out of place. Scared and worried I sat and waited on the couch next to the window, looking out the curtains every two minutes. A few hours passed then a car pulled up with him and one of his friends and two girls in the front seat. The guys got out of the back and he walked in the house and looked at me as if I shouldn’t even ask what the hell was going on. Like I had no right to even question him. He knew I needed him and took advantage of that fact. He said some girls they knew had driven out from Arizona and needed to find a hotel to stay at. So he went to help them find one. Innocent right?! Yea...
I was so upset but wasn’t even allowed to be mad because I was staying with him and his family and I couldn’t exactly be angry at him in front of them. So I laid down quietly with my back to him and cried gently to myself. Wishing I wasn’t there, hurting and feeling so unwanted all over again but this time by a complete stranger.
Sometime later, somehow mom found me and Regina and forced us to go back home again because we were both under age, but we knew it would only turn out to be the same way it always was. So this time we refused to go with her. My sister went back to her boyfriend’s house and I asked my uncle Jack if I could stay with them in Riverside, instead of going back with mom. They agreed, but told me I’d be going back to school. I agreed and was happy to be going. When I got to uncle Jack's house, he enrolled me into ninth grade at the local high school, and things started to feel somewhat normal. A few weeks passed and now my older boyfriend noticed I didn’t "need" him anymore. I was ready to end the connection but on one of his visits he gave me a promise ring so I felt too guilty to end it then. But it was too late, I already started to like other guys at school. He decided to drive out and visit me a few days later. He acted so nice to me and I just couldn’t be mean and break up with him. So, we stayed together.
It had always been a dream of mine to be a cheerleader, so I signed up for cheer try outs. My uncles were proud of me. They’d sit in the car and wait for me as I went through the try out process at the park down the street. I made it through to the second cut, but knew something wasn’t right with me. Something just didn’t feel the same in my body. So, ever reluctantly and with a heavy heart, I revealed my concern to my uncle and they took me to a clinic.
The doctor came in and told me the news. Immediately I began crying and felt like such a disappointment. I had the nurse call uncle Jack into the room and he knew as he walked up and seen me crying. I was pregnant. Feeling like such a failure. Like I almost made it out of the possibility of the "difficult life" everyone said I’d end up in, but like so many things, I fell short.
I didn’t care if my mom or dad found out or if anyone in my family knew. I was only ashamed to tell my uncle Jack because he tried so hard to help me. He was always there for us as children when mom would punish us by sending us to our room during visits, because she wanted all his attention to herself. Which always hurt us but he would defy her and come in the room and color with us on the floor or just play with us. He was the one who always made sure we had birthday parties and birthday cakes. We always ran up to him screaming, yelling and jumping up to hug him so tight, yelling, “Uncle Jack, uncle Jack, uncleee!!”.
But now here I was, and it was so heavy, I felt like I had just let him down. But he hugged me and we cried together, he held me reassuring it’ll be okay. Later that night, my aunt called to warn me of how hard my life would be and begged me to have an abortion. But after years of Christian church teachings, and knowing it was just wrong, I chose that I couldn’t do that.
My boyfriend was in Mexico visiting family and had called to talk to me and when I told him the news, he was noticeably happy, but said it was my decision. I later told him we’d keep "it". Only a few days later I found out my sister was pregnant too!
Boyfriend said he would take care of me and it seemed all would be good in the world. With a heavy heart I moved back to Norwalk where we rented a small room in the back of my sister’s boyfriend’s parents home. We lived there for a little less than a year. It was peaceful.
And then it came time for me to have my baby.
My water broke in the middle of the night and I didn’t know what to do because boyfriend was at work. I went into the house and told Regina. She looked down at my wet shorts and knew it was time but her baby born just a month and a half earlier and said she couldn’t leave the baby alone to go with me to the hospital because her boyfriend was sleeping. He worked the graveyard shift.
So, we went out to the living room to sit and think about our options of how to get me to the hospital as my panic grew with each passing moment. Her boyfriend’s dad was asleep in the den, converted into the parent’s room. And we didn’t wanna wake him up either because he was too on the grave yard shift. Although I'm sure he heard us talking. A few moments later her boyfriend’s brother, and his friends whom were supposed to be friends of my boyfriend also, showed up. About three cars full of guys. When they walked in the house, I politely asked them if anyone could give me a ride to the hospital because my water had just broke. But none of them wanted to take me to the hospital. Saying they, “had no gas.” Shocked at the blatant disregard of such stand up gentlemen, oh wait no. No, I wasn’t surprised at all. The lack of care these guys had was the reason I actually chose my daughters’ father. He was the nice one of the bunch.
There we were, sitting in the living room, me in my wet shorts in front of all these guys, when regina suggested my only option would be to call an ambulance. So nervously and embarrassingly I called. A few moments later we heard the sirens coming. An ambulance and a fire truck pulled up in the front yard with sirens blaring and everything. They came in the house, and questioned me as they checked my vitals, finding them to be normal. Contractions were still timing pretty far apart.
What was the emergency? They asked. Looking around at all the people in the house, their expressions grew more and more puzzled. I replied, “I have no way to get to the hospital, I’m afraid my baby is gonna fall out and I need to get there fast.” I had no idea what would come next.
One of the fire men asked the guys why they couldn’t take me to the hospital, then shook their heads at the non-challant response they received and were visibly disgusted. But could they do? Nothing. They could'nt force them to have any kind of heart or care. But what can anyone really expect from people raised in a "party house". We were a bunch of young kids. And they knew it. My sister reminded me to get my hospital bag and they put me on the gurney in my pee shorts and lifted me into the ambulance. I hadn’t changed because I was too scared to even move.
All alone I went with them. I was only sixteen.
As I lay there in the ambulance, pulling out of the driveway, the MT looked down at me but he wasn't kind like the man who made his glove squeak when I was little. This guy was visibly annoyed and said, “So you’re a kid having a kid huh”? I replied, “I guess.” And turned my face away and gently began to cry to myself. They took me to a hospital that wasn’t the one I knew, because they had to take me to the nearest hospital which was in Downey. Later finding out it was a city known for racist people.
I asked a nurse if my doctor would be coming and she said I’d have to have a different doctor due to the location. The nurses were mean and shoved a needle into the vein on my hand because they couldn’t find the ones in my arm. Silently I cried more when they left my room, and with so much stress, the beeping sound from a machine next to me stopped for a moment. I was concerned but didn’t know what to think because I had no idea it was my babies heart monitor. It started beeping again a few moments later. Then a not so caring nurse came in to check it, saying nothing to me or acknowledging I was even there, took a look at the little paper feed, and was just about to walk away when I stopped her and asked her if that was the babies’ heartbeat. She annoyingly replied yes. This gave me the assurance that it was necessary for me to call someone and get out of this place. What kind of person in a position of 'caring for others' becomes annoyed about how young I was and how ignorant I seemed? An as*hole, that’s who!
I was terrified and looked around the big lonely room, knowing I didn’t want some stranger to deliver my baby. I calmed myself by praying to God to ask for help and began to think about what I could possibly do. Immediately I remembered my phone book in the hospital bag I brought, thankful I had at least that, I got up slowly. Still afraid my baby might fall out, and though I only had about three numbers written in that book, one was my grandpas. I called him and cried a little when he asked how I was doing, then he told me to go ahead and call my doctor. My Doctor asked specific questions about my vitals then assured me it'd be fine, but I was gonna have to just get up and walk out of that hospital.
A short while later my grandpa arrived to take me from that hospital. I was scared to tell the nurses that I wanted to leave though because they were so mean. But not more scared than having to stay in that hospital with them, so I pushed the nurse’s ringer button and when she walked in I told her I was going to be leaving. Cold and visibly angry, she threatened that my baby could die on the way to the other hospital, and that would be “on me.” With a completely nasty attitude she walked away with an “Okaaayyyy.” A few minutes later she brought in the papers to sign and handed them over to me.
Though afraid of her words, I trusted my doctor and signed the release forms. She came back and went to my legs and just pushed them open and reached down with absolutely no care and YANKED the monitor from the crown of my unborn babies’ head. But I had no idea that was what she was even doing. I had no idea the monitor was even on my babies head at all. I jumped a little and felt so damaged by that action like if she had just broken a bottle over my head, but I closed my legs and remained silent and was just happy to be leaving. I went to the bathroom to get my clothes on realizing at that moment, I'd only packed things for the baby in my hospital bag and had to put back on the wet bloody, pee shorts that kinda smelled but luckily I was used to this feeling because of my "issues" as a child.
They were cold and this would be humiliating. But I didn’t care, I needed to hurry. Though I didn’t even know what a contraction felt like, I knew I wasn’t in any excruciating pain yet. I just needed to get to the other hospital fast. An African American lady, who seemed kind hearted came into my room to scoop me up into a wheelchair and put a blanket on my lap. Surprised how kind she was and so much more than the registered nurses. She wheeled me out past the nurse’s station, however the mean nurse loudly said “No, if she’s checking herself out, then she has to walk out of here on her own!” The helpful nurse had a very confused look on her face and in disagreement said, “What? WOW... OK.” So I stood up and she looked at me and apologized to me and wheeled the chair away visibly disgusted with the behavior of those nurses.
I told her, “it’s okay” and smiled in gratitude. My grandpa was so angry he knocked all the things along their counter onto the floor then made a remark and turned as we walked out of that hospital never looking back. Just as we got to grandpas’ car my boyfriend pulled up next to us. I smiled at him and told him I would ride with my grandpa because his car was newer and safer. So he followed us. I sighed with relief thinking things were going to be okay, thank God! And though we still had to get through the dangerous streets, a sense of relief, came over me.
But just as quickly as I was relieved, it was replaced by sheer dread.
Bright police lights swirled from behind us, and my heart sank. I sighed to myself, “noooo”. Boyfriend was being pulled over. I asked my grandpa to pull up next to the officer and rolled down my window and desperately told him I was on my way to the hospital and we needed to hurry. Reluctantly he glanced down at my wet shorts, then back up at me. He told us that my boyfriend had expired tags and needed to get that fixed, then quickly let us go.
Thank God for my wet shorts!
We got to the hospital and it was like walking into heaven! The nurses immediately brought me a wheelchair and blanket and finally a sense of relief and ease filled me completely. I started to feel the contractions and my memory of the whole incident with racist ol Downey hospital was gone. I pushed for a few hours, felt a cut down there, then heard the cry of my little cone head baby girl.
She was amazing and she came out of my body! I jut couldn't believe that a living being was now here in the world and she was mine. Exhausted and in pain down there from this natural birth, they put a plastic hand glove on the seat with ice in it for my cut to numb and rolled me on a wheel chair to the window to gaze upon my darling sweet girl. I looked at her with my tired eyes and a sense of so much gratitude filled me and I looked at her dad and felt so thankful towards him for taking care of me. As I was pushed way in the wheelchair to my recovery room, for a split second I felt God give me a knowing that I’d never again be alone.
She was here and how miraculous it all felt.
In that little back room we were renting, the only access to a restroom was through the den so we'd just pee in a cup and throw it out the window on a stack of wood and now it stank to high heaven so I didn't want to live there anymore. So we moved our little family moved into a studio apartment on uncle Jack and uncle Jim's property in Sun City and lived there for a time. But with my impulse for a "special day" of my own, I pushed that we needed to get married. Though inevitably I knew I didn’t really have the feelings of “being in Love.” Nor was I trained and disciplined in the art of loyalty and commitment long term. I was a quitter. If I didn’t like something or if it was just too hard, I’d just get upset and leave.
I was used to leaving when things got rough. I wasn't ready to begin a marriage and I knew it. I just wanted to wear a beautiful dress and have a big party. I felt guilty knowing I was marrying him because it seemed like the next thing to do and this step might relieve my desperation to be made to feel like a princess but kept it quiet. Our rings were bought on a payment plan under my credit. So, once we split up, I had to watch it go onto my credit report as a negative. We began fighting more. He began drinking more often, so I initiated fights and finally just wanted it to end and so it did. He went to jail on the night we officially ended things. But I refused to press charges the next day.
My mom had started coming around when she found out me and my sister were pregnant and went out and bought us a bunch of stuff for both of our babies. So, when I told her about our breakup, she eagerly urged me to move back in with her and that she would help me. I was so happy to possibly grow a relationship with her again, so I took the baby with me and we moved back down to Long Beach. She encouraged me to go to college, so I did and way ahead of my own High School graduating class too. This little fact made me feel slightly better about having dropped out of High school.
But soon again things with mom began to be really bad. She’d go into rages of screaming and being miserable all the time. All those old familiar feelings of hating living with her were back and I didn’t want to live with her anymore. Her fits of rage were all focused on my little sister Jazmine this time because it was just them two. But when I seen her beating Jazmine with closed fists, and how Jazmine fearfully cowered against the dresser covering her head like I used to do, the image singed my heart.
My poor little sister was scared all the time, and mom openly treated her like a personal assistant or a slave. But this time I had a little baby with me, and I couldn’t allow her to be in this environment, so I saved up to leave as quickly as I could. Jazmine was acting out and did strange things like putting on my pants while she was on her period and then hanging them back in my closet with blood on them. One time she seen I had money saved in a glass jar and took two hundred dollars and spent it with her friends on candy and other things. But when I told mom what she did, mom openly didn’t care. She wasn’t gonna give me the money that was stolen nor would she even act like she believed me.
And like a storm, all those old feelings of complete hatred and disgust for her, entered back into my being. Now I remembered who she really was but this time she couldn’t force me to stay with her. And I needed to get us out of there quickly. Reluctantly I sent my daughter to live with her dad for a short time. And went to stay with a friend of mine. Once I left her house, I called the child protection agency and told them what I’d seen her doing to my little sister. But when a lady came to question mom about the abuse, she was able to manipulate the situation by her professional appearance and new found way of speaking to people. Since she started working in an office as an assistant. And that was that.
But I just hoped the abuse she put my sister through would at least ease up from the visit. However, all that happened was my mom turned around and called them on me with false claims. Because that’s how she is. If you don’t do what she wants, or she thinks you’re trying to hurt her, she will attack you! But I got through it and went on with my life without allowing her in it.
One day while I was out with some friends on our way to a concert, we were driving past the old house of this guy I was so in love with back in the sixth grade. He just happened to be outside getting things from his trunk, and coincidentally my friend knew him too. I yelled his name out, and he turned and confusedly waved. Later that night he called my friend to get my number, and we started dating again. He seemed to care about me and the joy of being with him felt incredibly warm and with my situation, he asked his parents if I could move in with him, and they agreed but asked where my baby was living because they felt she needed to be with her mother.
I agreed and went to bring her back but was concerned she wouldn't wanna go with me because when her dad brought her to visit me at my mom’s house just before I left, she didn’t want to let me hold her. It felt like she was mad at me for sending her away. My heart was so sad and I felt like such a horrible mother but my only way out of the ordeal was to work hard and get us back together. A few days later mom stopped by my boyfriend’s house to drop some things off and was angry about me reporting her abuse. Then proceeded to tell me that my new boyfriend would “fu** my life up.”
Happily, I discontinued communications with her all together after that.
When I went to get my baby from her dad, he was rude, mean and completely refused to give her back to me or even let me see her. He simply said no and demanded that I leave. I walked away in confusion and cried in my car. How could he even do this? It was torture and I couldn’t fathom how he could turn into such a cold and hurtful person... or maybe this was my fault. It doesn’t matter though because this is where I'm at now and I have to get through this too.
He had begun to use drugs in a much heavier way now and also had a new girlfriend that was using with him. She was a mean chola from their local gangs and from what I learned she was involved in that life style more heavily than anyone we were ever close to.
My only option was to accept the current pain and call the police to ask what my legal options would be. They plainly told me because neither of us had court ordered custody, whomever had physical custody of her was the one who was allowed to keep her until we went to court to establish custody orders. And that I’d need to go to court to fight for legal and physical custody. My heart dropped and more sadness attempted to pervade into my mind, heart and soul. My trauma from experiencing family court as a child surfaced into my mind, and I didn’t want her to ever see a court room, let alone me having to see one again too. And though my heart sunk deeper and deeper with each passing thought and moment, I couldn’t give up. I'd just have to face it.
I went home and sobbed hard on the bed. My mind was so erratic and I didn’t know how I was gonna to be able to get through court to ask for her back. SO I refused. No, I want her back now! So I called the police station again to ask for more advice, and a kind lady explained a random example to me that if I had walked up and picked her up, then that is what physical custody is, and it would actually be me, whom has literal physical custody of her, and I would be allowed to keep her. But I thought to myself, “How likely would that happen for me to randomly see her and grab her.”
So, after crying all night long and terrified of losing my baby, praying and asking God to help me. I got up early and went back to his house really early in the morning with no concern or focus on my mind other than getting her back into my arms. I just wanted to hold my baby in my arms. I got there and was upset from crying the whole way there in fear that I would have to drive away without her again, so I sat in the car for a moment and asked God to help me. Then took a few deep breaths and got out of the car to walk up to his house and it felt as though everyone was watching me, even though it was early morning and everyone was either showering or getting ready for the day.
I slowly approached the front gate. My heart pounding so fearfully. Thinking and thinking and worrying I was about to walk into a fight and big argument and walk away once more without my sweet little baby. When gently and slowly, ever so suddenly, she came walking out of the gate, alone and with only a diaper and small shirt on. She was about one and a half by now. I was shocked! She was standing right there! I didn’t think too much as she immediately ran up to me saying, “Momma.” Quickly and in tears, I picked her up. Her diaper was completely soaked to the brim, so much so that it leaked all over me.
I jumped in the car and turned it on. He ran out and began yelling at me and punching my car window. But I just drove off with the baby buckled into the passenger side seat, I hadn’t thought it all through enough to remember to bring a car seat. My mind wasn’t even thinking clearly or in any kind of order, all I could think was, “I want my baby.” n. Cussing and yelling back and forth, I stepped back, looked at her and said, “Really, you want to fight me while I’m holding my baby, what’s wrong with you?” She said some words but backed off and went back into her house calling for my daughters dad to come out.
I jumped in the car and turned it on. He ran out and began yelling at me and punching my car window. But I just drove off with the baby buckled into the passenger side seat, I hadn’t thought it all through enough to remember to bring a car seat. My mind wasn’t even thinking clearly or in any kind of order, all I could think was, “I want my baby.” I found a phone booth on the corner and called the police, then called my new boyfriend who was at his job across town. He got there about five minutes later, having drove the twenty minute drive in five. He arrived way before the police. Jumped out of his car and told me to get into his brand-new fast Mustang and leave. A car he swore he would never allow me to drive. But he took my car and began to follow me. But before we could merge onto the street to leave, ex-boyfriend drove up behind us, almost hitting the car I was in.
We all pulled into the middle turning lane in the middle of the street. They both got out and went head to head, almost about to fight. They were both the same height, but my boyfriend was a bigger, heavier guy my daughter’s dad was thin however still fearce. Me and my baby were staring at it happening in front of our eyes. But I couldn’t let her see something like that, so I flailed my hands and motioned to my boyfriend saying, “NO, please not in front of my daughter.”
The police pulled up behind us and motioned for us all to pull into the gas station on the side. They placed me and my baby in the back seat of one of the police cars and went to talk to both the guys. I watched from the back seat and casually asked baby if she wanted to go get ice cream, excited she happily said ‘yes’. Then an officer walked up and asked me to get out of the car and brought her dad over to us and as he motioned for her to go with him, she pulled back to stay with me. And like the biggest relief of joy and sorrow all at once, I knew I’d be able to keep her. I was so relieved, so exponentially relieved. Later realizing I had asked her if she’d wanted ice cream and maybe she would have reached out for him, had I not. And how she had somehow just happened to walk out of their house on her own in that very split second.
From that point on I appreciated her so much more.
I enrolled myself back into school, yay College! And put my daughter in the same church pre-school where my aunt whom helped my mom out of homelessness, was working. She was always just so warm, gentle and caring. The sweetest aunt in the world! Things were finally getting back on track and I felt a sense of relief from the hard times. The skies were blue, the wind was perfect.
Then on the biggest test day of the semester, I looked away from the steering wheel for two point five seconds and my steering wheel pulled to the right and crashed me into a pole. Did you catch that? It my cars fault!! Haha... No. It was of course my fault so now I'd have to deal with that. A pole for goodness sake! AAhhhhhgg I was late to school, rushed through a few tests and failed my entire certification process by just.... one class. Even though I hadn’t actually got my certificate, my family had already decided to throw me a party. Too ashamed to tell anyone I didn't actually succeed, and quite shamefully I handed out the graduation pictures I’d taken. I didn't know if I should give all the gifts back so I just felt guilty about it for long time. Though I eventually told my aunts the truth one by one over the years, they always remained understanding and I was so grateful for that.
I wanted to go back and finish up that one class, but my allotted time was up, and I needed to get a job and start making money on my own and heading toward complete self-reliance for the first time in my life. But before all that could begin, I became pregnant from my new boyfriend. And though I was so against it, he begged me to have an abortion. Wanting to prove my love for him, though against my own conscious, quickly…. I did it.
It haunted me deeply. Ever so deeply. But it was done, and I couldn’t undo it. I had to live with what I’d done and that’s it.
A few months later. I was pregnant again, but this time I refused new boyfriend’s coercive words. And his care for me changed, he began to treat me as though I was more of a burden to him than someone he wanted to be with. Saying I was ruining his dreams of becoming a famous DJ. Once again, there I was, sad and feeling unwanted. But all I could do was try to move on and get things together for my first born baby girl and coming newborn. With so much judgement from societal views, and as my last resort, I looked again for help through my county and was told the only way they could help me, was with a program to get a once in a life time assistance of a lump sum of money for an apartment of our own.
But I had to have been homeless and show proof of having spent at least one night in a women’s shelter. However the shelter said I had to prove I’d been homeless for at least three days with hotel voucher receipts. The county gave me hotel vouchers and off I went, pregnant and with my three-year-old daughter to stay at "popular" hotels on Pacific Coast Highway, in Long Beach. And by popular, I mean hood. This was the area I had to stay in because the vouchers were for a specific dollar amount and those were what we could afford.
One day in the hotel I was sitting watching TV, my four year old daughter running all around the room, potato chips scattered everywhere, feeling bored but there. Slightly unmotivated and possibly depressed in some form or another. When I noticed the news was on every single channel. People were screaming and running everywhere. I thought to myself "is this a new scary as damn heck movie"? Oh my God!! Then it got even scarier when I watched a plane crash into a very tall building which had another very tall building standing next to it.
More people were screaming and yelling everywhere and as I watched closer, it hit me, this isn’t a movie! This is the real news, and this is happening right now! Oh my God!! My breath left my body and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I grabbed my daughter and held her close as they announced we were being attacked by another country. Suddenly my problems seemed so small. How could this be happening? I’d never seen something like this before. I needed to ask someone else if this was really happening, so I went out to the hotel manager’s window and he was watching it too. I asked him if it was real, and he said, “Yes, this is happening right now.” I felt so much sorrow for those people in New York and I knew their lives would never be the same again. Everyone everywhere was talking about it.
The nights passed slowly, and it was very scary sleeping in those rooms alone with my baby, but we got through. A few days later, I went to a super "ghetto" part of downtown Long Beach because it was the only place where I could find a shelter that would allow me to sign up that same day to stay for the night. The other places made it seem I wasn’t quite homeless enough.
I walked in the front door of what looked like a really old Victorian home. Dark woodwork everywhere. A very old home. I heard children playing in the back, but it felt unpleasant and scary. The men’s shelter was right next door with a park like area where many homeless people pitched tents and hung around all day long. I’d never been to jail, but I was pretty sure this was what it must feel like. It was dark and mostly quiet with a somber feeling of sorrow throughout. I was instructed to clean the shelter bathroom as part of my share of the chores for the night, and they said I had to leave my baby in a large room with a bunch of strangers by herself however. No one would be taking care of her. They wanted me to just leave her on the bed. And I tried to, but she cried so much I just couldn’t. So, I snuck her into the bathroom with me as I cleaned. Then went back to the bed they provided for us that I was supremely grateful for and counted the hours until I could leave in the morning.
That night after dinner, the group had required Bible study time which felt so long and unhappy. The next morning my eyes shot open at about seven a.m so I layed there waiting for the hand to hit 8 a.m. and when it did, I grabbed my baby, got our voucher and out to the street we went. Looking for a phone booth to call Jason whom even though we were breaking up he didn't leave us stranded. He was kind in that way.
We went and spent a few nights with grandma in her rented room for a few weeks until the papers were approved. We couldn’t stay with her long though because even though the room was being rented from her church friend, we didn't want to become a burden. One day on the bus I seen a for rent sign, so I called and went over and spoke with a rental agent and brought all the proof and paperwork that were needed. About a week later I received the call that I was approved! My heart was elated and overjoyed. It was my very first apartment on my own. After a short time my dad, whom was still homeless moved in to help with the rent, but things didn’t work out with him. It was okay at first, but he was fairly paranoid and started fighting with me about dumb things. It wasn’t like living with a dad, but a stranger whom I didn’t even really know. And the fact that he had a gun with him at all times didn’t help.
Over time I managed to get back with Jason and convinced him to move in with us. He took his time and very unenthusiastically moved in. I offered to let him have the tiny room in the back for himself, while me and my daughter, both slept on the living room floor. He was a completely different person towards me now and the way he treated me, made me feel like he thought of me as disgusting. We didn't hug or kiss. Neither did we talk and feel like friends in the least. And that was my life. Pregnant and extremely swollen, it was a very hard time.
One day I walked into his room and caught him talking on the phone with a girl in his bed with his hand under the covers, and even though he was only on the phone. I knew he was cheating on me. At this point I was eight months pregnant and feeling like I couldn’t go through with this and crying so often. So I gave in and called my mom who had gotten married and moved up to Sacramento and told her she was right about him. She suggested I get out of there. So I left my little place and moved to her new house with her new husband. A former Marine she met through an online dating site. She'd finally quit drinking for good but our introduction was kinda complicated because she'd told him she only had one child when they first met. So when he found out about me and Regina it was news to him, but he didn’t seem to mind. He was the most calm, patient and gentle man I'd ever met. Perfect for mom!
They both drove down from Sacramento and picked us up. My four-year-old daughter, me and our two goldfish Fred and Ethel. By now mom had another child and I had a new little sister to meet. They were all living in a super nice, brand-new home. Regina and her three children were living with them too after having problems with her boyfriend as well. I was thankful to mom for helping me again, and for the first time in a long time I felt love for her and knew I needed her. It felt like we were closer than ever before.
My second daughter was born after many tears and crying throughout the whole pregnancy. It was a very difficult time. And then things with mom started to be super weird again and now she demanded that I carry a mattress into the living room each night for me and my daughter to sleep on while the baby slept in her bassinet. I had a fresh caesarian wound from being gutted of my baby. Her reasoning was that my little sister Jazmine, whom was now a teen in high school, needed to have her own room. Which didn't seem so unreasonable however her decision left me feeling she was trying to get revenge on me. In a very passive way.
It was time to go. I felt unwelcome and Regina was also biding her time until she could leave too but I couldn’t wait that long. Most days I’d just hang out in the garage so I wouldn’t be in their way too much and when me and Regina finally spoke to each other about it all, we were reminded how mom was still the same person she always was and even though It was difficult to be there, we encouraged each other that we'd be away from her soon enough.
Those long three months that we lived there seemed too long. But I was able to convince Jason to come meet his very first child and drive us back down to Long Beach. Things with him finally felt okay and all in the past but he continued to act like he didn't wanna be with me and I was a desperate mess of a new mom again.
I went to stay with a friend of mine, whom I had no idea was in her own abusive relationship. She never told me about their dynamic just that she had her own place now and I could come stay with her if I needed to. I was only supposed to stay with her for a few weeks, so reluctantly remembering what happened the last time I did this, I sent my eldest daughter with her dad for that short time. I'd just have to trust in God to get us through this.
When I got to my friends house I found out pretty quickly she too was an alcoholic and I didn’t know it. On the very first night we were there, she picked a violent drunken fight with her boyfriend, and then he came out of their room angry yelling “YOU... you need to go.” It was midnight but I didn’t want my three month old baby around their fighting so I got up and we walked out. I heard more hitting and screaming and felt so bad for her but didn't know what to do other than call the police to help her. By this time I had a cell phone so I also called Jason but he wasn't answering. So I called his sister Karina, who came to pick us up and we went back to his parents’ home, where he still lived. He came home late into the early morning hours, with a car full of girls and as I watched him walk up to the house, he irritatingly and with a most offended look on his face said, “What, I’m not with you.”
My heart was in so much pain because I still desperately wanted him to want me, but knew I was only there to get my life together and get on my own again. Our relationship was over, and I had to face it quickly. And I did. Then left just as quickly as I possibly could because things with his dad were getting really hard and unhealthy for us. I got my eldest daughter back and re-enrolled into college to finish up what I'd started. Though I didn't actually complete my Administrative Assistant Certification, I put my schooling down on my resume and embellished the truth a little, which got me into a fairly good company to work for. I started working full time in an office cubicle then found an apartment rental in downtown Long Beach. It was spacious and affordable, slightly hood and run down a bit but it would be mine. So I applied and almost jumped through the roof when I was approved after worrying I'd be rejected since I just abandoned the first apartment.
It felt so good to be on my own and with no assistance from anyone other than Jason signing the rental agreement to get in, it was all mine and I'd just remove him once a few months passed anyway. This was MY very first apartment I could afford all on my own and it just happened to be number seven, which I hadn’t noticed because it was night when we viewed it and now with my own place, my own car and my own self dependence we were all very happy. The significance of the number seven being "God's number" made me feel good about it, like a good sign or something.
Things were going great. I made friends with many of my neighbors and we all had BBQ's together and hung out in the pool. At work one Halloween day, I met a man who worked in a different department at my company. He was a musician and that was super impressive to my unaccomplished eyes. It was halloween and he was dressed up as Satan. Most people at work dressed up and we would do a parade or something silly and that year I was a purple fairy. My attraction to this man was instantaneous and we began e-mailing each other all day long. Quickly we got to know one another and after playing some live music with me on his acoustic guitar, he said I could sing pretty well. It reminded me of one day when I was about six or seven my aunt, mom's sister, was driving us somewhere, we were all singing in the back seat and she turned around and said, “wow mijah you can really sing, you have such a big heart.” Felt good to be praised and now I knew their must have been some truth to it.
My confidence in that memory and believing I must have some sort of talent gave me a new interest and I started to believe I could maybe even become famous one day. I tried out for this new show called “The Voice”. I'd just dropped my daughter off with her dad and heard the announcement for an open audition in Hollywood, so on a whim I drove over and waited in line for about four hours. Got on stage and froze. It was mortifying. But I didn’t give up. I knew I could sing and continued my newfound interest and wanted to start a band. I asked my new guy friend from work to help me because he was a drummer and the one who showed me this new awesome style of music, but he refused with many reasons. So I started it on my own. It was a tribute band for “Siouxsie and The Banshees”. I decided to call it Peek-A-Boo, the title of one their most famous songs. All on my own. I was slightly intimidated but more excited to do this new thing. The singer’s voice was so powerful I fell in love with her and her musical stylings. The music was unique in style and appearance.
I dated this man for six years. Six long years of learning and crying from the realization that he never really wanted to be with me. Although the truly hidden reason would years later, attempt to end me when I found out what he did and how the halloween costume I met him in was in fact his true nature. His con was always that he just didn’t want to get married, ever. And in my ignorance, I felt I could be okay with that. I thought I could accept it by telling myself marriage is Love and if two people truly loved each other, they were already married. Blah bla blah, talk about denial.
It wasn't until this time that I started to truly notice the beautiful wedding rings on girl’s bridal fingers and feel envious and hopeful that maybe someday God would send me a man who’d love me enough to want to give me a ring and see me in a beautiful white gown, walking down the aisle to him. I was now in my mid twenties and ready to be married. Or so I thought. This self-defeating hope turned into a coveting I'd often cut myself with. Still eventually I found a way to accept this was probably just never gonna happen for me. Who’s gonna want all my “baggage”?
I hauntingly knew inside, things with this guy were going downhill fast and he didn’t truly love me at all. But facing something you’ve been lying to yourself about for so long, is much harder for us people who learned to practice denial as children. So instead of rushing myself to let it go, I started creating my very own songs on this application called “Garage Band” and bided my time. He also convinced me I only believed in Jesus because I'd learned to as a child. And with no true strength to fight his reasonings, I also walked away from my life long beliefs. My savior became fiction in my mind and I thought myself smarter than anyone who believed in such fanciful stories.
The creating of songs came so easy to me and I had so much fun with it. I chose my Album Name “Promised Land,” and named my production company, “Zen Replika.” I was so excited to make something out of nothing. But my new boyfriend only found fault in it saying it was "too religious". But after feeling a strong urge within to rethink this whole dismissal of thousands of years of beliefs of billions of people, I didn’t care what he thought and after much strain and turmoil, I eventually let him go all together. But not soon enough as I would later find out, getting too close to the fire can cause concealed scars not to be revealed until much later.
That great company I was at for six years, now had a major lay offs and I was let go. I was ready to go however since I envisioned it was simply the next step to becoming closer to my dream of becoming a famous singer. I was happy and ready to move on now that I know how to make my very own songs accompanied with feeling capable because I had done two professional-ish photo shoots with a photographer. I was ready for this big change and felt quite confident in my abilities. My confidence grew more as the days passed.
I started praying again and drew strength from reading the Bible and God helped me leave that man for good. His lost way detoured me but now my atheist days were gone, and I'd turned back to God. All doubts and confusions left my heart and I finally understood and learned how this great and loving man’s simple cure was the truth. Love one another. I found a realization, a recognition to Love others freely and without expectations or perversions. I looked at myself differently and so looked at everyone else differently as well. But over time somehow reading the Bible now left me feeling justified in my unloving judgements or views of those closest to me. In essence I felt they all needed to change just like I had. And the world would be a better place!
Be patient with me, I promise God led me out of this one too!
During this time, me and mom had started talking again and now found common ground in the Bible since we were in the same mind frame. We studied it together and spoke on the phone a few times a day. It was so wonderful to feel like I had a mom that loved me, but she was usually more interested in hearing about how abusive Regina was to her kids. Which led to me believing some pretty harsh claims mom made about her too. I guess it was Regina's turn for passive revenge but I didn't see that till it over and in the past.
After being laid off I was ready to move out of my longest rented apartment on my own, so I asked uncle Jack about the available apartment on his property, a duplex my sister lived in. And he approved our move in. My two girls had returned home from living with their fathers and we packed up our stuff and left. Regina came and helped me move everything.
Now we were neighbors and I could see if Mom was lying about what she had been telling me was “really bad” at my sister’s house since she went to stay there and apparently Regina had said kicked her out for drinking and starting problems, so she moved back to Sacramento. I didn’t find out the nitty gritty of reasons why Regina was angry with mom again, other than that mom had started drinking again after seventeen years.
We were all living on uncle Jack’s property in Riverside now and feeling so close to everyone. Fun times were very fun. I was on unemployment now and had time to focus on making music and studying the Bible. But peace didn't come too easy since now both mom and dad were in my ears telling me Regina was molesting her children. I admitted to hearing Regina yelling at them and sometimes hitting them, but molestation is unacceptable and ignoring abuse was not something I could abide. My mind was so caught in this snare. I loved my sister, but I couldn’t let anyone hurt any child. What should I do? What could I do?
If it wasn't true this could destroy her life and hurt the kids in the process. But what if she really is hurting them. I was praying every day. I taught my niece and nephews about God and the Bible. And felt the strain when my sister was often harsh with them until I couldn’t take the possibility of her hurting them anymore and I turned on her. Knowing I had to stop the abuse and feeling such a heavy sense of responsibility, I called my youngest nephews school principal and left a voice mail reporting that I believed they were being sexually abused by my sister. I told my dad the day I did it and he immediately called my sister and told her what I’d done!! Right? After he was the one telling me to report her!!
As you can imagine, it got pretty ugly. She was livid. I came home to my front window being broken. My uncle Jack called me and asked in his serious tone what was going on and why I was trying to cause problems. So when I explained my charge he didn't disagree with me and said I should do what I feel is best. Eventually I understood Regina may have been under stresses and yelled at the children a lot, but the kind of abuse being implicated was too dark and wretched. I was torn and sad that my own sister may be doing something like that and now living under a new heavy separation of anger and rage all pointed at me, I took mom’s advice to move us all out to live with her... once again. Regina now completely cut off all communication with mom, dad, and me. I was sad. All five of our children were feeling the strain.
Before we moved out, the house was so much quieter. No more yelling or anger next door. It was silence. I’d sneak food over to my niece and nephews when Regina was gone. But was a heavy time to live through. I took my girls and we left a short while later. We all hugged goodbye. But what was waiting for me at mom's house wasn’t what I had expected. Back to Sacramento for another go round. This time into a very small two-bedroom apartment mom was staying with her now ex-husband. All six of us lived there and it was pretty squished but I felt so grateful to them both for taking us all in. It took time to realize I had just up and left to go somewhere I wasn’t even sure would fit us. But we felt welcomed and very cared about.
I was still trying to get my mind together after breaking up with my long-term boyfriend and thinking about how weird he was being with my daughter that one time, but also knowing I’d lied to myself for so long and it hurt. But the work I was doing on myself felt necessary. I had changed. I was kinder, calmer, more humble and understanding. Id stopped cussing and rid myself of all forms of anything I deemed "unGodly".
I had a new obsession and it was to find out what was going on in the world and how I should respond. I watered this desire for knowledge and devoured books like never before. Even began to watch independent documentaries and one in particular stood out to me. It made major claims about Jesus being a fictional story and compared his story to some Egyptian historical figure. It showed proofs that left many questions within me unanswered. However had no power to turn me away from my Lord, since I'd already gone down that dead end. I'd just finally come out of my search for answers and left the Atheist views I’d fallen prey to. My mind had to withstand the trial. I was accused of being conditioned as a child, told I was lied to and it was all a big lie. And all my knowledge was false. So I walked away to find out for myself. And I did find out. And this is why I'm here telling you what I found. I'd just came out of that mind trap and didn’t know what wounds I might have sustained, only that I needed to keep moving on.
During my atheist experience, my night terrors and nightmares had returned and eventually became heavier and more fearful. Anxiety often felt like a terrifying pause of fear from guilt, some strange heavy sense of guilt. I didn’t know why or from where. Just suddenly I’d be worried and the feeling of thinking ‘I was going to die’ terrorized my mind in spurts. My mind would remind me of possibilities of my loved ones dying and I’d start crying out of nowhere.
All that fear left when I began to study and focus on this book about God.
Grandma Cecilia gave me an Old King James Version, from 1987 because I felt it imperative to read the unchanged source. I’d also recently began a practice of being honest with myself in answering if I made sure to read and understand every single word printed on the outside of ANY book I read. I'd began this new practice of never leaving a single sentence, even the ‘printed by’ page, and tiny prints. I read every single word of the book carefully. And the discipline was in knowing if I was lying to myself about understanding what I just read. Then I'd refuse to move forward until I did. Re-reading parts again and again really make you see how quickly you can lose focus and drift off into thoughts.
That went on and on until I got to the book of “Numbers” But with that one, I broke my rule and mostly skipped over it because it was just begot this, begot that, begot him begot her and I begot frustrated and begot done with that area of the book. Throughout my studies I didn’t allow influence of one single person, preacher or outside source to enter into my mind. And my eyes slammed wide open like a train hitting a cement wall. I had found the key to all the answers necessary in the world and it was sitting right in front of my face all this time.