As we come to the close of 2020, we can surely see it as a year no one on the planet will soon forget. This year has been a powerful clash of energies. Many of us have found that the darkness within the depths of our beings has been freed, revealing long-kept secrets. We have been forced to take a pause, to reexamine where we have been, what we are doing now, and where we would like to be as we move forward.
It’s time to tell ourselves the absolute truth:
What isn’t working anymore and what hasn’t been working for a while? What can we let go of? What are our true priorities, what really matters? What and whom do we care deeply about?
We all have things we want to forget or pretend away. We are all simply a reflection of what is happening in the world, and, therefore, we are responsible for cleaning it up. First and foremost, within ourselves. In these troubled times, the Universe is beckoning for us all to acknowledge, forgive, and heal ourselves in order to heal the world. A huge part of that is reconciling with others.
This last chapter of my memoir that I am sharing with you in my blog is about my uncovering some dark truths, you could call them secrets, about myself. I made some poor choices in my past that affected several people’s lives, my kid’s life included. I am not proud of what I did, but I have learned from what I did. I have forgiven myself; therefore, my past mis-steps no longer have power over me or the ability to make me feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, or humiliated. Here, again, is my story.
***A damp slap in the face***
Riding in the car from the airport, I have a mild sense of apprehension about what I have initiated. As my brother and I get closer to the city of San Francisco, the air is cool and damp, the freeways convoluted and crowded – even at this time of night. As I peer out the passenger window of my brother’s car, I see things I have never seen before.
My remembrance of the parts of California I had visited in my younger years is a far cry from what I see now. I see no beach, and it’s foggy and cold. Vagrants are standing on the corners and beneath the freeway with shopping carts loaded with what I assume to be their belongings. I can’t imagine where they sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom. The streets are dirty and littered with garbage that blows around from the passing cars. I am most certainly not in Utah…anymore!
My oldest brother is gay, and he has a roommate who is also his current partner. They have the same name but are nothing alike. My brother is stocky, about 5’ 10” and (at this moment) could pass for a gay or straight man. His roommate is small and arrogant and seems quite bossy and condescending toward my brother. I am confused because I have always looked up to my brother for advice and wisdom, and here he is taking orders from a sarcastic and overbearing young man. I notice this after only having been with them for an hour.
We arrive at my brother’s apartment near Dolores and Market streets. The streets are overcrowded and unlike anything I have ever seen. I am disappointed with the lack of front lawns and neighborly feel I have been so accustomed to. I can see that finding a place to park my own car will be difficult, and I am not looking forward to managing this. I have no understanding of the contrast between California and Utah and just how different San Francisco is from any place on earth I have ever been. But I will soon learn.
My brother’s place is nicely decorated and comfortable, but, unfortunately, I will have to sleep on the fold-out couch in the living room for now. There is little room for my things, but I settle in as best I can. The tension between his roommate and me leaves me with the sense that he does not like me. It is Wednesday when I arrive, and Thursday is the Fourth of July, so the two of them are off work through the weekend. We talk for a while, and my brother shows me around the apartment. However, I am fading fast…it’s been quite an eventful day, and I need to sleep and integrate all that has just taken place.
The next day all three of us take a drive around the city to get me familiar with the area. It is even more crowded than I remembered from the night before, and I have no idea how I will ever find my way around. The many strange and unfamiliar traffic signs and one-way streets are making me feel a bit unsettled. We end up driving to Sacramento, and on the way there, I am intrigued by the Oleanders that grow along the sides of Highway 80. These flowering shrubs are so beautiful, another strange but intriguing visual aspect of California. The Fourth is wild compared to how it is celebrated in Utah; the fireworks go on until the wee hours of the morning. The rest of the weekend we busy ourselves with organizing my things, grocery shopping, and more sight-seeing. My brother must work on Monday, which means that I will be alone in his apartment until we fly back to Utah to pick up my car and bring my son back with us.
***A brother and sister reunite (and learn some things)***
On Monday morning, my bother prepares me (as best as he can) for his absence while he works. I have no concept of where I am or where he is going and don’t think to get a phone number or address before he leaves. I have just gotten up; I am in a pair of shorts and a tank top and need to do some laundry. I gather my things and carry them out the front door of his apartment toward the laundry room in the basement. When I hear the door close behind me, I know immediately that I am now locked out. Thank God I am inside the building, but I have no key to get back into my brother’s apartment, and even if I wanted to, I can’t call my brother because I have no access to a phone or his phone number. Crap! What am I going to do now?
I am panicking and decide to go out the front door of the building to see where I am and if there is someone who can help me. When I walk out the front door of the complex, I find, once again, that when the door closes, I am now locked out of the building entirely and standing on the sidewalk in bare feet. Double holy crap!!
Standing on the sidewalk, I try to get the attention of anyone who is close by, but no one pays me any mind. I walk around the side of the building and call out to the neighbor next door through a tall fence. He gives me a strange look, says nothing, and walks back into his house. I scramble my way up the fence that surrounds my brother’s back deck, taking on a few slivers in my hands and fingers. My efforts are well worth it because I am now on the back deck, and, THANK GOD, the sliding door is open just enough for me to squeeze in. Sitting down on the leather couch, I begin to bawl. The realization of what has just happened and how lucky I am to have gotten back inside floods my face with tears. I am rattled and scared, but okay.
When my brother comes home, I share my adventure with him, and he is dumbfounded at how I was able to get back into his apartment (and, frankly, a little bit shocked at how easy it was). He gives me an extra key to his front door and to the front door of the building, something he should have done the day before. He also writes down the address and phone number of his work, taking me to the sidewalk in front of his apartment complex and showing me where his workplace is in relationship to the apartment. But I am so confused with the layout of the streets, I am sure I will never remember, my head swimming with all the newness.
By the second week, I am noticing my brother’s roommate is quite hostile and not only toward me but my brother too. When he is away from the apartment one evening, I tell my brother what I observe and that I don’t understand why he is putting up with this behavior – especially when my brother is the one paying the rent. My input and influence seem to be just the impetus he needs to break off the relationship. He asks his roommate to move out and gives him a few days to find another place to live.
His roommate is so angry with me, he steals my wallet that night and takes all the cash I have in it, leaving it empty next to where I am sleeping. Of course, he denies it, but I know he has taken my money because no one else was in the apartment. He leaves a few days later, but not without a fight and some nasty threats. Relieved he is gone, I feel as though I can relax a little bit more than I have before. I know my brother feels bad and is sad he is gone, but he knows this is for the best.
I am shocked as I write about what my brother gave up for me all those years ago. It is only now, with the benefit of hindsight, that I realize how much his entire life was churned up and dismantled when I came to live with him, especially when I brought my son back with me from Utah.
I must look for work and, so, answer an ad for a position as a cocktail waitress at the Peppermill in Daly City just south of San Francisco. I set up a time to go for an interview, and my brother gives me directions to get there by BART (the rapid transit system in the city). I manage to get to my destination without too much difficulty and arrive for my interview. It goes very well, and I am hired on the spot. The manager is Middle Eastern and talks with an accent but seems to take a liking to me and says that I will be perfect for the job. The bar is quite different from anything I have ever seen in my life. Dimly lit, the bar features floors covered in orange shag carpet. Artificial Japanese cherry blossom trees surround the tables, making them private.
A circular sunken area with a fireplace in the center is surrounded by crushed orange velvet cushioned seating. The music is from a 1970’s soundtrack, and I feel as though I am in the Saturday Night Fever movie. The waitress who is working is Egyptian and quite beautiful. The men in the bar are drooling over her abundant breasts. The uniforms are long, flowing halter-top dresses with slits on the side open up to the hip. The restaurant on the other side is, in contrast to the bar, bright and bustling with activity. For the middle of the day, the place is busy, and quite a few patrons are seated in the bar. This was going to be one interesting job!
I tell the manager I won’t be able to start for two weeks because I have to pick up my son in Utah. I also tell him that, when I return with my son, I will be moving. He is fine with this, and we set a date for me to start. I have to walk back to the BART station, and it is cold, windy and foggy. This is not at all what I had dreamed California would be like. I am beginning to wonder if the sun will ever show itself.
What I didn’t understand about the Bay Area was that it featured many micro-climates, depending on the area, and I was in one of the foggiest sections of the city, summertime being the worst weather of all the seasons there.
I make it to the BART station and manage to get on the train to head back into the city, but I get confused and end up getting off at the wrong station. Nothing looks familiar but, then, nothing anywhere I look has seemed familiar since I got here. I am completely lost. I step out of the station with no idea which direction I should start walking. I set out in the direction I think I should be heading, praying with every step that it’s the right way. Strange men are watching me, calling out to me, so I start to panic and pick up my pace.
I am not looking where I am walking, and, suddenly, I trip on what looks like a thick piece of coiled wire in the middle of the road. Before I know what has happened, it wraps around my ankle, almost knocking me to the ground. The wire gouges the front of my left ankle and blood begins to pulse out. Blood is spilling over my ankle and filling my shoe, but I keep walking. It’s getting dark and I must get home, but which way? Somehow, I make it to the familiar street that will take me back to my brother’s apartment. Limping into the bathroom, I sit on the edge of the tub and remove my bloody shoe and begin to wash my foot, analyzing the damage to my ankle. The pain is setting in and the running water stings my wound.
I am hysterical because I know I need stitches but have no insurance and no way to pay for a trip to the ER. My brother arrives home and follows the sound of the water and my crying. He starts to laugh at me until he sees how bad my ankle has been cut. He offers to drive me to the hospital, and when I decline, he helps me clean and bandage my wound.
For the next several days, my ankle oozes blood with every step. I manage to keep it clean and bandaged and eventually it scabs over and heals but leaves me with quite a scar.
***Long lost friend***
Somehow, I am finally able to reach my friend, the one I was originally going to drive with from Utah. She was not aware of how serious I was about moving and tells me she is sorry but that she had postponed her trip home so that she could remain in Utah a few more days to tie up some loose ends. She had just gotten home a couple of days before and invites me to visit her at her parents’ home in Orinda. I want to see her and have some girl time, so we plan for me to take the BART train (once again), and she will pick me up at the Orinda station.
Not understanding anything about the microclimates of the Bay Area, I put on a pair of shorts and flip-flops, packing my swimsuit in a backpack. My brother drops me off at the BART station. This time I will be heading to the East Bay. This trip seems a little easier than the previous one, and my friend is waiting for me just outside the station. It is so nice to see a familiar face, and we chat as she drives me back to her parents’ home.
The sun is shining here, and it is quite warm, in contrast to the city. Looking around, I see that the hills are densely covered with the rich green of shrubbery and trees. The homes are stately…nothing like any I have ever seen before. Her parents’ home is one of them. Her father works for Levi’s. In fact, he may be one of the owners. She introduces me to her mother and grabs chocolate chip cookies for both of us, and we head into the backyard to sit by her swimming pool.
It is hot, and I am happy I have shorts on. I change into my swimsuit, slather up my body with baby oil, face included, and we lie in the sun for a couple of hours. Normally, I would cover my face with a towel, but I am enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face so much, I cover it with baby oil on and nothing else. Big Mistake!
By the time my friend takes me back to the BART station to head for home, I notice I have a severe sunburn. It’s cold on the train, and I am shivering. I have not brought a jacket with me. I am sure I have a temperature. Once home, I head to the bathroom to check myself in the mirror and notice tiny blisters across the bottom of my face from my upper lips to my chin. My arms and legs are a bright pink and hot to the touch. I have a severe sunburn and end up having to wear Vaseline as my make-up for the next two weeks. I vow never to do that again.
***Putting the pieces in place***
My son has just had his fifth birthday and will be ready to start Kindergarten. I am a bit panicked about finding him a school where I feel he will be safe…I just don’t think it’s going to be in San Francisco, but where?
My brother and I decide to take a drive and check out some different areas of the Peninsula. We end up driving down Highway 1 along the coast, and as we round the bend and descend into Pacifica, I see the Pacific Ocean in all her glory. The sun is shining, the water is glistening, and I fall in love immediately with this little town. I tell my brother that this is the place; this is what I have been dreaming of a good portion of my life, this is where we must move. I don’t think he is that familiar with Pacifica and he agrees. We find an apartment complex right off the second exit and head into the office to find out if they have any vacancies.
A two-bedroom upper level will be available in the next two weeks, and we put down a deposit. The complex has a pool and is, literally, twenty feet from the ocean. I think my son is going to be in awe once he sees where he will be living. The local elementary school is not too far away, only a few blocks, and I can walk him there in 10 minutes. I start the process of registration and plan to bring in the necessary documents once I return. All seems to be falling into place. In just a week’s time, I have landed a job, a new apartment, and a new beginning.
***Back to Utah we must go***
Heading back to Utah seems strange with all that has happened to me since I have been in California. I don’t want to go, but we have to get my car and, of course, most importantly, my young son. I know it’s going to be hard for his father and grandparents to say goodbye, and I am not looking forward to this confrontation.
Our flight into the Salt Lake City Airport arrives late in the afternoon. The plan is to stay at my father and stepmother’s house for the night, pack my car, and head out first thing in the morning to Lindon, an hour’s drive from the Eagle’s Nest. It will be a long drive once we pick up my son, but with the two of us taking turns, we feel we have the fourteen-hour drive covered.
We arrive at my ex-in-laws the next morning. I see great sadness on their faces. My ex-mother-in-law has been crying, a lot, her eyes puffy and swollen. She keeps asking me why we are taking her precious grandson away, and it makes me feel terrible. She is certainly not making this easy. My ex-husband is cold when he comes in to say goodbye to his son. My ex-father-in-law is attempting to be cordial, but I can tell he, too, is extremely upset and struggling to keep it together.
My brother packs my son’s things into my small car and waits for me to say my goodbyes. My son has no real idea of what is taking place and seems excited that he is going on a trip and will see the ocean. Tears welling up in my eyes, I grab his hand, pull him away, and walk down the steps of the porch to the car. And off we go!
Having full custody of my son gave me the ability to make this move and to start fresh. I know that moving away wasn’t the best thing for any of us, but I had to do it.
As I reflect on this now, I see the loss of control and sadness my ex-husband and his parents felt. Unfortunately for me and my son, their sadness turned into anger and was expressed in resentful and manipulative ways toward me. My son was caught in the middle, and this would cause us both great pain in the years to come.
***Home again, move again***
Our new apartment is shaping up, my brother’s furniture fitting perfectly into the space. We have left most of my things in my father’s garage to retrieve at a later date. I have purchased a mattress that I lay on the floor. My clothing and my son’s clothing are being stored in boxes stacked around the sides of the room we are sharing. I am grateful to call this place home.
My son will be in the morning Kindergarten class and will start school just a week away. My new job start date is in a few days, and my brother has already begun his commute into the city for work. All is in motion…
While collecting my uniform and getting a tour of my soon-to-be workplace, I run into the other cocktail waitress who has been hired at the same time as me and will be working days. I will be working nights. We start chatting in the bar as we wait for the manager to bring us our uniforms, both of us feeling apprehensive about the bar’s racy atmosphere, but we seem to bond, and I have a friend!
She, too, has a child, a daughter. This helps to solidify our friendship as we talk about the woes of parenting, moving from another state (she is from Oklahoma), and breaking up with long-time partners. She is separated but still lives with her soon-to-be ex-husband for financial reasons.
The bartender who is on duty at this time is blond, has bright blue eyes, and seems to have the attention of all the female waitresses. In fact, they seem to hover over him as he pours on the charm. He is currently working the dayshift, so my new friend and he will be working together. I feel a slight twinge when we meet, something familiar about him but I can’t imagine what. I have never seen him before.
I don’t see him much when I first start until he switches to the nightshift to accommodate his school schedule. His flirtatiousness is his M.O., and we hit it off immediately when we begin working together. Despite his flirty behavior, he seems to be protective of me, capable of handling situations with difficult patrons. He makes me feel safe.
We joke a lot, and this helps make the work tolerable, getting us both through the long nights. I am quite naive and have no real experience with the type of activities associated with this Vegas-type atmosphere. In the dark corners of the bar, many drug deals are being made, and I am, at first, unaware of what is going on all around me.
My new friend and co-worker talks about the blue-eyed bartender and mentions to me one day that he is taking her out for her birthday. For some strange reason, I am suddenly jealous, and I don’t understand why. I haven’t really been attracted to him, but maybe…
The more we work together, the more I sense the chemistry between us, but I won’t cross the line for fear of jeopardizing the relationship with my one and only friend. I am unsure of what the true relationship is between them, and the delicacy of the situation (in my mind) keeps me from revealing my feelings. I stay silent. We do, however, enjoy frequent trips in his Bronco to a neighboring parking lot to get high. At times, I am so spacey I can barely control the clutch in my Toyota Corolla 5-speed and end up forgetting what freeway I am on, and even what state I am in.
As time goes on, I am being made aware that Mr. Blue Eyes is a bit of a player. I sense that he has just about slept with all the cocktail waitresses and a couple of the waitresses from the restaurant and clearly lacks in the moral and monogamy departments. One of the cocktail waitresses, whom I have met shortly after I start, dislikes me immediately and I am not sure why. She is rude and short-tempered with me and goes out of her way to make things difficult for me. I find out from another cocktail waitress that she and Mr. Blue Eyes used to sleep together, and she senses the attraction between the two of us even before I fully comprehend it. And she is jealous!
After about a month, my new friend who works the dayshift has started dating the daytime bartender who has taken Mr. Blue Eyes’ place. She comes to me to say that she can see how much Mr. Blue Eyes and I are attracted to one another and tells me flat out she is fine with our seeing one another. She explains that whatever flame that ignited for her in the beginning was put out when she met the new daytime bartender. I am shocked but relieved and then feel conflicted about how to proceed now that the channel is open. I can plainly see how Mr. Blue Eyes behaves, but it does not deter me from pursuing him. I feel a strange recognition of and connection with him that I have never felt with anyone, and this confuses and intrigues me. I can’t stop myself; it is as though we ae being drawn together by some external force.
The Peppermill is unlike anything I have been exposed to in my sheltered life, and I feel swept up by temptation and curiosity, sensing the potential for danger. My eagerness to be with someone pushes any scruples I might have otherwise had out of the way, and I disregard all the warning signals that Mr. Blue Eyes is trouble. In October of 1985, just two months after we meet, we become an item and immediately begin sleeping together.
***But I only did it to survive***
The cocktail waitresses and bartenders start each shift with a bank of money. The waitresses order our drinks from the bartender and pay for the round, collecting the money back from the patrons.
After a short time working, I am trusted enough to be included in a scam that a select few of the bar staff is involved in. We all feel we are owed a justified payback for the oppressive work conditions we endure.
For example, by only paying for four of the five drink orders, I can then collect the money and keep the extra cash for the drink I don’t pay for. This tactic becomes a common practice of a select few bartenders and cocktail waitresses. The rewards are shared among all who participate in the scam.
As I reflect on this behavior now, I feel dirty and sick inside. Remembering this time in my life has shown me how I saw myself as a victim of circumstances. To a certain extent, I believe all of us then felt trapped and with no real choices to leave and find something better. I became so influenced by money, regardless of where it came from, I lost sight of integrity. But I also realize now that this was an experience I needed to have in order to grasp the enormity of my past decisions. Survival became my reason / excuse for being involved. This was the beginning of a dark and dangerous path that threatened to swallow me up if I were unfortunate enough to get caught.
A few short weeks into our relationship, Mr. Blue Eyes takes me to a popular Mexican restaurant in San Francisco for dinner. After stuffing myself with savory food, I suddenly hear him say the word “Break-Up”. These words are hitting me full force as though I am being pushed back in my chair. I feel dizzy, my full stomach now cramping as a heaviness in my chest cuts off my breathing. I suddenly feel as though I am going to throw up, and I have to hold myself together as my disappointment turns to anger.
Once we make it outside, I can’t hold back the flood of tears. “Why,” I ask him. What has happened in the last couple of days to change his mind about me? Why did he have to take me out, stuff me full of exotic food, then kick me to the curb as though I were just another easy conquest?
As I climb into the front seat, I feel weak and used. I had seen the warnings, the red flags, and I ignored them all. I think to myself, “I can’t wait to get out of this Bronco and into my apartment. Let me crawl into the comfort of my bed and sleep this nightmare off.” I am devastated!
Instead of ending the previous night, my nightmare continues in the morning, and, in fact, becomes more intense in the days that follow. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t face him at work. Ignoring him does very little to heal the deep wound he has inflicted. My heart aches. It’s so hard to function, to put one foot in front of the other, and now work has become even more difficult to endure, especially when it’s just the two of us in the bar. He doesn’t understand why I am so hurt…brushing it off as if I should have expected it, given that I must have seen that this was the fate of all the other women he had dumped. He has known what his intentions were from the get-go, but I have been hoping that we would be different together.
I am despondent, and I don’t know how I am going to go on. Nothing matters to me, and I am slumping back into a deep depression. This particular breakup is affecting me in ways I can’t even understand myself. For the first time, I am seeing that, all along, he has wanted the freedom to do what, when and whom he pleased. I see that he detaches himself from the carnage he leaves behind. It seems he sees me as a burden because I have a child. He sees me as “high maintenance”…too much work to be with and representative of all he would have to give up to continue our relationship. His immaturity and conceit are front and center.
When I met Mr. Blue Eyes, I wasn’t looking for a relationship, but there he was, someone I thought was my knight in shining armor. I felt a profound connection and attraction to him despite his chauvinistic ways. I had recognized his soul, a soul I had known before in another lifetime. We were meant to meet and to work out some unfinished karma from our past life.
After a couple of weeks of feeling so low I can barely get myself out of bed, I decide to use sex to lure Mr. Blue Eyes back. Surmising that his ego enjoys being sought after and admired, I do exactly that. I call him and ask him to come over…I need a favor. When he arrives, I seduce him and that is that…we become an item once again, picking up where we had left off. I am aware that I have pushed to continue this relationship, but I don’t feel I have control over my will.
A typical day for me goes like this:
I get home around 3:00 a.m., sleep until 7:30 a.m., get up to prepare my son’s breakfast, help him get dressed and ready for his morning Kindergarten class. We walk to the school (only a few blocks from the apartment), and I walk back, fall into bed and sleep until I have to pick him up at lunchtime.
We have a few hours together to do homework and errands until I have to get myself ready for work. Just before I leave for work, my brother comes home to spend the evenings with his nephew, making dinner and helping him get a shower before bed. This goes on for about six months when my son’s teacher, at a parent-teacher conference, tells me that my son is behind the other students and that she feels he needs to be held back for the next school year. I am shocked and angry. I do not agree that he is doing poorly, but I don’t know what to do about it. I feel unprepared to navigate this alone. My brother is helpful, but he has already made many sacrifices to help me, including moving out of San Francisco and away from all his friends.
Shortly after this, my brother comes to me to tell me that he has decided to move back to San Francisco. This is devastating news, and while I understand his position, I am panicked about finding a childcare solution. A woman in the complex is willing to have my son stay with her while I work, but I have to pick him up at 3:00 a.m. and carry him home.
This works for about a week, but she and I both feel this is not a long-term solution. I feel alone, and I don’t know how I will manage to give my son the love, attention, care and tutoring he needs and deserves. After my brother leaves, Mr. Blue Eyes moves in. My sister, who has been living in Portland, Oregon, with her boyfriend, also shows up. We all decide to get a bigger apartment in the same complex. This still does not solve my childcare problem. I have grown accustomed to making the extra income I have been skimming at my cocktail waitressing job, and I certainly would not be making the same kind of money on the day shift.
After a lot of thought, I call my son’s father and ask him if he would come and take our young son back to Utah. Because his father lives with his parents, older brother, and younger sister, I know my son will have an entire family to care for and support him. I am only one person with few options and very little support. This is my perspective at the time, and I don’t see any other options.
I will admit that the thought of not having the responsibility of my son brought me huge relief. I was greatly influenced by those around me (Mr. Blue Eyes especially). I had missed so much of my youth and craved the freedom to come and go as I pleased.
I suffered for years with guilt about this situation and my decision at the time, but I was struggling to keep myself afloat, and the responsibility of taking care of a five-year-old weighed heavily on me.
When my son’s father arrives, he brings with him paperwork from an attorney. He asks me to sign over full custody of our son to him. At least I am smart enough to say no to this. My ex-husband is angry with me and threatens to leave without taking our son. In the end, he does take him, but he is not happy with me.
The day they leave leaves an indelible impression on me. My son has on a little Hawaiian shirt. He gives me a hug and says goodbye as though he were going on a trip and would be back soon. As he grabs his father’s hand and walks confidently out the door, I am being ripped apart inside. A huge chunk of my heart is going out the door with him.
I cried every night for months after I let my son go with my ex-husband. I prayed I had made the right decision for the both of us. I am still not sure. My relationship with my son now is not what I would like it to be, and I sense that this decision of mine back then is, among many, one of the reasons. I was in so much pain from my own parents’ abandoning me, at the time, I did not understand that I was now in the same place they had been. The roles were now reversed: I was the parent, and I was taking action that would forever affect my child. What was to be learned; what was the takeaway?
***The four (and Abe makes five) of us***
After my son leaves, we all move (my sister, her boyfriend, and Mr. Blue Eyes) into a lower-level apartment in the same complex. My sister’s boyfriend has a 12-foot python snake named Abe. He keeps it in a huge cage stationed at the foot of their bed. I don’t know how my sister tolerates this. They have to feed it whole live rats, which you can see moving through Abe’s body as they squirm until death comes.
When I think of this, I can’t believe that I moved into the same apartment with a snake. I hate snakes. Once, when I came home, I found Abe slithering on top of the cupboards in the kitchen. I stayed clear and went into my room, closing the door until my sister’s boyfriend came home.
My sister ends up getting hired as a cocktail waitress at the Peppermill and is working along with me. It’s nice to have her, but I am not so sure about her boyfriend. He works on occasion but relies on her to take care of him and everything else, rent and food included. She is so scared he’ll leave her, she does not complain and always complies with his absurd requests – like getting up at 2:00 a.m. to walk to the local 7-11 to buy him a frozen pizza and have it ready for him when he gets home from wherever he’s been. She doesn’t drive.
As time goes on, things get even weirder. The drug deals continue in the dark corners of the bar. Mr. Blue Eyes now shares with me that the cocktail waitress he had dated prior to me is a dealer. We, my sister, her boyfriend, and Mr. Blue Eyes, all join in and begin selling her products. The three of them also use. I do not partake, except to enjoy an occasional ecstasy or marijuana high. These two things, coupled with my drinking and smoking, are bad enough without adding coke to the mix.
For a while, we have people coming to our apartment at all times of the day and night, desperate for a fix and spending their entire paycheck for a one-day high, only to be back the next day for more. My sister has gotten herself hooked, and it is sad watching her struggle with her addiction. Her boyfriend is even worse. The two of them are quite a mess.
My addiction is to money, taking dangerous risks for cash that enable me to fly back and forth to see my son in Utah and flying him to California for visits, one of them for a trip to Disneyland and Universal Studios.
One Sunday afternoon, Mr. Blue Eyes and I get into a fight because he is watching football, and I cannot get his attention. Between his obsession with sports and our both being involved in drugs, we fight all the time. I am very insecure and want his attention to be on me when we are home. But sports are his passion, and nothing can tear him away from football. He wants his freedom to do as he pleases, and this causes a lot of conflict in our relationship.
I leave to make a pick-up of drugs from my supplier, and on the way home, I am in an automobile accident, almost knocking my teeth out on the steering wheel and causing major damage to my new little Red Escort GT. An older man had been coming out of the driveway of the mall and had stopped short, blocking the lane I am just turning into. I have hit his car hard and do not have my seat belt on. My face slams into the steering wheel, bruising my upper teeth and causing whiplash. My purse lies on the passenger seat. It has in it the newly picked-up stash, which is peeking out of my purse. The accident is not my fault. But, had I been knocked unconscious, I would likely be having my rights read to me right now.
Was this what my life had come to? I can clearly see an intervention in this accident. The Universe was rattling my cage and shaking me to awaken and change my ways before I ended up in jail, or worse.
The police come and call Mr. Blue Eyes for me. He is there in an instant and is very relieved I am okay. Before I had left the apartment, we had concluded that maybe we weren’t meant to stay together. I had given him an ultimatum, “Change or leave!” After the accident, he tells me he doesn’t want us to break it off and that he wants us to get our own place away from my sister and her boyfriend. He wants to get clean and clear of the drug scene. He is getting close to graduating from the School of Aeronautics and is preparing to be an aircraft mechanic. His dream is to get a job at United Airlines, and he doesn’t want anything to interfere with his plan.
He ends up leaving the Peppermill and taking a job driving a courier truck. Things at the bar are not the same once he leaves. The management changes our uniforms to tuxedo jackets, bow ties and Danskin shorty shorts. And management is insisting that all the cocktail waitresses wear three-inch heels. This means that, for eight hours, I will be schlepping around in heels on shag carpet and carrying top-heavy piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris. I am so pissed off, I make an appointment with a podiatrist, and turn in a note from my doctor to management that says walking in heels will cause damage to my feet and ankles. My complaints fall on deaf ears.
I am already feeling abandoned by Mr. Blue Eyes. Things aren’t the same anymore. I stay at the bar for a little while but soon find another job working for one of the patrons of the bar. He has just opened a new bar in Burlingame and hires me.
The Burlingame bar ends up being worse than the Peppermill, and I am lucky I don’t get myself killed. I have a sense it is a front for a drug ring, and I have walked right into a trap that could put me in some serious trouble. I have to quit!
Shortly thereafter, I land a job at a small sewing notions business in South San Francisco, completely different from what I have been doing. No one there wants to teach me how to do data entry, and management offers me little to no training. Pretty much, everyone keeps to her or himself. The receptionist is rude and unsympathetic to my lack of understanding how things are done, and it seems she goes out of her way to make things difficult for me. She even tries to get me into trouble on several occasions. The pay is a HUGE step down from what I have been raking in at the Peppermill, making it difficult for me to let go of selling drugs, despite Mr. Blue Eyes’ insistence.
I find another cocktail waitressing job at a restaurant and give my two weeks’ notice. The brothers / owners are not happy with my resignation and ask me to leave an hour after I have given notice. Unfortunately, Mr. Blue Eyes has dropped me off because he needs my car today. I have to stand outside in front of the building in plain view of everyone to wait for him to pick me up. Talk about humiliating!
Two very interesting things happened after I left this job:
Number one: It was only after I left their business that I recognized the two owners as having been among my very first customers at the Peppermill. While I was working for them, I am sure they recognized me, and that may have been a factor in why they were willing to hire an employee with no data entry experience. After I left, I realized that I may have suppressed knowledge of my prior relationship with them, and that may have been why I took the job in the first place.
Number two: The receptionist, who had it out for me, ended up becoming a massage client of mine later on and shared with me how unhappy she had been working there. Long story short: I worked with her on some neck issues that had resulted from her being on the phone so much…and she turned out to be a real sweetie.
***And yet another move***
I share the news with my sister that Mr. Blue Eyes and I have decided we need more privacy and want our own apartment. She is not happy with me, but she and her boyfriend find a place in a complex just up the road. Mr. Blue Eyes and I move to a one-bedroom apartment in the same complex…the third move in a matter of 18 months.
This move is exactly what we both need to settle down. The bar scene becomes more of an occasional weekend night out (except, of course, when I am working), and, eventually, we stop selling drugs. It is the best thing for both of us, but it is hard giving up the money.
This does not mean that Mr. Blue Eyes stops using drugs, and one Saturday afternoon, he begs me to do mushrooms with him. It is something he has been bugging me to do since we met, but I have not been interested. I finally give in and say yes. He grinds up the mushrooms and steeps them in a big cup of tea, which he hands to me to take just a sip. I have never done anything like this before, and so, I have no idea what to expect. Otherwise, I most certainly would say, NO! But I guzzle down the entire mug, leaving him a tiny sip of sludge at the bottom. He is shocked and starts laughing at me. He hadn’t wanted me to drink the whole thing; it was for us to share.
I am struggling to sit upright, and I keep falling to one side. Then, I start to laugh so hard, I can’t stop. And then I am crying. I can’t stand up, and I am crawling around on the floor, wanting so badly for this feeling to stop. I want to vomit so that it will stop. I even try to stick my fingers down my throat to stop this awful feeling.
My sister comes by to borrow something to wear and can’t believe what she is seeing. I stay in this state most of the night and into the wee hours of the morning. I try to sleep, but sleep eludes me. Although I experience brief moments of intense awareness, I determine never ever to do this again!
This is the day Mr. Blue Eyes and I get engaged. This is the day he asks me to marry him, and I say, YES!
As I included this chapter of my memoir in this blog article, I have been overcome with a powerful emotion. Writing has helped me to remember the things I had forgotten, clarify the things I had not considered, and integrate the many energies I had felt. I see those energies now as having whirled around within me like lose papers that needed to be organized, filed, and put away.
So many of the events I have shared in my blog I would have done anything to have changed. I know, more than ever now, that my recalling and feeling the emotions of those events has been helpful for me and you, my readers. Out of them, I have been able to extract and disengage from the baggage I have carried with me for so long. The darkness and shame I used to feel have been transformed into a lightness in my body and mind. Joy pours from my heart now, and I feel happier than I could have ever imagined possible.
We begin our lives without experience – first, following someone else’s direction. Bit by bit we begin to experiment, search, struggle, fall, lose our way, and eventually, find solid ground on which to build a foundation and from which we can move on. But we don’t fully grasp what is taking place each minute, hour, day or even year of our lives until we look back to see how far we have really come. Yet, we can’t really see what these past experiences have taught us by avoiding the all-important look-back before moving forward.
To appreciate how far we have come, it is essential to pause, turn around, and remember. It is imperative that we back into the memories to integrate them into who we are in the present. This is how to understand the depth and purpose of our life. This is how to unwind ourselves from depression, from addiction, from failed relationships, and from a path we have followed almost as if we were sleepwalking. This path we are on must be one we choose to carry us forward into the light, not one that leads us away from what we are most afraid to admit about ourselves and our past. Looking forward with hope means first looking back with the eyes of truth. This is how we can not only speak our truth but live it.
In 2013, I received a strong message in the middle of the night, and this is what the voice said: “There are no shortcuts to enlightenment; you must live it to be it.” I am living proof that this is so!
You might say I have walked through fire and ice, climbed the highest mountain, and swum the darkest and coldest sea. I have held the pain of my journey in my body, my heart, my head, my legs, and my feet. I have tried to hide my secrets from myself by pretending, by lying.
They are secrets no more.
I am a human being who has made some poor choices, and through those choices, I have learned what doesn’t work for me. So, I say to you from experience: Don’t be hard on yourself for the things you did in the past; it’s how we learn not to go down the same road again. Without making choices, without the experiences that result from those choices, we just wouldn’t understand the value or the depth of the lessons.
Through my work with the Divine, the painful feelings I used to experience so intensely have lessened considerably. They are the shrouds that covered my understanding of this journey we call life, and by reliving them, I have removed, layer by layer, those shrouds and revealed my purpose and the beauty of it all – the Divine grace of it all. And the result has been life changing. The pain I carried for so long has been transformed into what powers my forward movement and has revealed to me the great strength and courage I have had all along but that I could not see until now.
We are a remarkable species, and I am not alone in my quest for peace, solace, and grace. I am now able to come to this place more easily; the recipe has always been within me. The journey of life is a circle, moving away from us and out into the world and then back to where our soul begins.
My life is not easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I embrace what it has taught me thus far. I pray that you, my readers, will also embark on this journey of discovery if you haven’t already. Write your story, even if you never share it…it will be most revealing, healing, and revolutionary!
If you are or someone you know is ill or in need of Divine intervention and support, you can join my Sunday Group Healing Call. The Sunday Group Call is free and an opportunity to share in the healing power of the Angels in a group setting.
I hope that you will comment on this blog article and participate in what has become an ongoing dialogue. Building a platform for sharing the thread of our stories, our understanding and experience is what my blog is for. When you share, you invite others to do the same.