Being 5 years old was my earliest recollection of life and really only moments like saving a bird, or starting a forrest fire. The reason I'm sharing is because I have been slowing writing my story over the last 2 years and I decided to share some of it today. I'm sharing because not doing so or not remembering for so long has caused me so much pain. For years I've asked for help to piece together my childhood so I could understand myself better, maybe not repeat a pattern, but really because I felt incomplete. Like I was missing something, or that something happened, imagine feeling your whole life that something was wrong and being made to feel like an asshole for asking.
It didn't even matter if I was on the verge of killing myself, that still wasn't enough to share my story with me. This is not a story to blast others but to heal myself and share a story that so many others are going through right now. I sit here thinking of
Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix, John Belushi, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Williams and Chester Bennington who shared about his childhood and not finding closure or how about Heather a friend of mine who took her life in 2014. What about my step father who I still til this day have no idea what he struggled with.
Asking questions was a no no growing up and I just never understood why, I remember breaking down in a doctors office because they found a lump on my thyroid and breast and asked if there was a family history of cancer and I couldn't answer, how would I know if no one ever shares anything.
So just for one second just imagine someone standing in front of you begging for help to just understand, and there was a possibility that it would help heal them, would you do it. Would you tell them what they needed to understand if it meant you had to admit to doing something wrong. Would you go to any length to help save that person. Would you go and start healing yourself so you can then share your story.
Some would, I would, I am. Every life, family, friend, stranger deserves a chance. I have to write my story to remember, I was left no other option but to do so and I am beyond grateful that my journey to heal over the last 2 years has led me here to remember bits and pieces as I go along.
This weeks reading is longer than most and I know many wont read it, but I can't tell you the weight that has been lifted from my shoulders. Suicide is real, depression is real, addiction is real and everyone needs to talk about.
If you feel like someone dying is ok as long as you save face, then you might as well pick up the gun. I don't care about anyone other than that one person that is drowning in loneliness and despair right at this moment, that's who I'm sharing my story with. I can't even tell you how many talented, successful people I know that are struggling with the same thing. You are not alone, there is help, you are not a burden. You are worthy.
Today and for the last 2 years I am grateful that I don't have those feelings anymore, even back then I didn't have them often and people might not have ever known I was struggling, but the first two years of my injury changed me. Dealing with chronic pain and being told you can no longer do the things you love broke me. So I tried to do everything I could to not feel the pain and act as if I was ok and strong. So here's a part of my story, maybe you can relate.
January 3rd, 2015 starting a new year and I find myself lost again, depressed for the last 4 days but really it’s been for the last 9 or so years, possibly longer. I don’t know how to write and on top of that I cant seem to stay focused on anything for more than a few moments before my mind starts to wander or a thought causes me to go off track to do research, all ending up in me finding the lazy way to a spiritual enlightenment like watching movies.
I believe I haven’t always been this way but looking back I've had many of these traits for a long time. I guess I want to start by talking about where I am right now. A little about this dark cloud I’ve been under for the last few years, and why I am so confused with my stretches of clarity and faith. Why its so easy for me to lose it.
I don’t have the answers to any of these things but I want to talk about my experiences with the hope that I can remember the ones I don’t, and work through the ones I never want anyone to know.
Today I lounged around watching movies and being restless. I research places to move because I feel unwanted by my family. I’m currently staying with my grandmother who I adore and love more than anyone in the world, I don’t verbally disrespect her but I do cause her pain because she see’s me in pain. This is the time for her to rest and be happy with out an earful of family battles. I wake up daily knowing that I don’t want to disappoint her but then this wave of disappointment or non acceptance from my family, friends, or clients takes over and that’s when I want to disappear or escape.
I don’t want to escape this life as much as I used to, but I still get my moments. I think my need to make everyone happy or help because I can causes me a lot of pain and destruction. This circle of destruction I have created in my life over the last few years seems almost impossible to get out of. I know that this may be my final chance to turn my life around, and I’m grasping at everything I can with, no clarity or passion. I know I have to do something but I lack the focus I used to have, like my brain is broken.
Maybe something is slowly changing because I’m here right now writing, the tv is turned off, I’m burning an incense and earlier I lit a white candle and got a white flower in remembrance of a friend who took her life last year on January 2nd, 2014. A reminder of how close I came to taking my own life in June and July of 2014 at the age of 43 when I should’ve had my life together. The first time I attempted I was 16yrs old and living in The Village in Manhattan after I moved away from my mother. But this is when I feel like “why am I doing this? Who wants to hear my sob story?” especially one that doesn’t have an amazing end, or some powerful world changing effect. Well then I remember that as horrible as I feel right now, I have overcome so much in my life and I've never let anything stop me. I was strong, smart and I always found a way through it all.
So I guess for right now I’m writing to remember what kind of strength I had to pull myself back up, to dig deep and find it again. So I'll start briefly from my childhood which will be quick since I really don’t remember much, then I’ll skip to when I was about 15 or 16yrs old, still a bit fuzzy then, but then the juicy stuff comes when I make my journey to California at 21 yrs old to escape this life in NY. I'll create a chapter for these 3 parts leaving plenty of blank space with the hopes of eventually filling in the blanks as I remember or am told.
Chapter – Childhood (preteen)
I just had an hour long conversation with my grandmother, who helped me piece together my childhood a little. So I was born at Jacobi hospital in the Bronx, New York. I guess between birth and around 5 years of age I lived in New York with my parents but my grandmother did most of the taking care of me. At 5 years old I moved to Puerto Rico with My mom and dad and there are only a few things I remember from there.
One – I lived in Ponce and I remember finding a wounded bird in the park, a park that I would wander alone. I remember my father hanging me over the balcony of the apartment by my ankles and I’m not sure if I was scared or not, or if it was playful or not. I remember one of my morning routines was getting a bag of marijuana from behind the records to bring to my parents in bed. I also found out in 2013 that my father admitted to getting me hooked to smoking pot at 5 years old and when he stopped giving it to me I got mad and bit him on the hand, he described that I looked like I had the devil in me. He allowed me to continued to bite him and told me when I was done it would be his turn and sure enough he bit me on my right front shoulder leaving teeth marks.
All these years when I thought it was strange that I had a birthmark that looked like teeth marks on my shoulder, I find out at age 41 that they really were teeth marks and what happened. It came up in a conversation he had with my sister joking around that maybe it was his fault I had issues with drugs because I was a pot head at 5.
I can't even describe the anger I felt towards him and my mother who would let him do that, but of course I'm told til this day I need to let it go. I mean I've only known for 5 years now, when should I have asked the question. I also remember riding a bike, learning Spanish but what disturbs me is I remember this guy from Argentina who I guess baby sat me and taught me Spanish. I remember him but I don’t ever remember my parents being around in the years I was there.
Anyway, we now move from Puerto Rico to North Carolina where I attended 1st grade. I have a class photo, but I don’t remember much other than the moon always being very large and orange like you could reach out and touch it, and this being another place where I felt was I on my own.
One time my parents took me with them to the mall and left me outside and I picked all the flowers and sold them to people coming into the mall, but I cant remember if that’s my memory or a story they told me. One day I must have traveled into the forest with friends and decided to make a camp fire then I found a Mickey Mouse watch then next thing you know there was a forest fire. I ran back to the building and started swinging on the swings behind the building and acted like nothing happened. Soon my father came out and asked what happened across the street once the fire trucks showed up, and I replied that I didn’t know until I couldn’t lie any longer. Shortly after I received the biggest whipping with a tree branch to the point that it was difficult to walk, I think this was the only time I was ever hit when I was this young. We'll soon get into the physical and verbal threats between my father and myself later.
Soon after the fire and my urge to start a campfire on my own, I guess my father thought it would be a good idea to create a campsite in my room complete with a fake campfire, tent and the natural sound of crickets from outside. I do remember being pretty happy for a moment. I also vaguely remember my father building two huge ceiling to floor letter J’s that I could sit on which separated the kitchen from the living room and making things out of red clay and hardening my creations in the oven. Another brief moment of happiness, then that’s all I remember after a year in North Carolina.
So now we move back to New York and this is where everything gets real fuzzy, I know I had to have lived with my mother or maybe even both of my parents but I can only remember moving to Throggs Neck and immediately going to the 2nd grade. It was Ms. Carbone’s class and I brought her a red clay ball that I poked a bunch of holes with a pencil to make a pencil holder. I remember being happier here than anywhere else, I actually feel like I can account having relationships with friends and family.
I remember my Cousin and best friend Angel, my aunt Alva and my uncle Angel, my Aunt Miriam who I was so attached to and especially my grandmother who I guess I called mom. But, still I don’t remember my parents ever really being around except living with them for brief moments before I turned 17.
So I’m around 10 years old and now living with my aunt, uncle and my cousin Angel (Junior) and going to PS 72 in Throggs Neck. I believe I attended 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade there. This part of my story is not even interesting to write because I was jumping all over the place, I guess when my Mother was ready to take care of me I would live with her and when she wasn’t I would live somewhere else. I think the story I told myself is I wanted stability, at the age of 10, and I wanted to stay with my aunt. I loved school but once I got into high school and my mother took over my aunts apartment, I guess all hell broke loose and I just didn’t want to be there.
At this point my mother married my step father who lived with us in Throggs Neck and that relationship was complicated along with the feeling that something just was not right. At some point he was drunk and left after a fight and I came out of my room for the first time and told my mom not to let him leave this time, but he left anyway and committed suicide that night.
I remember the babysitter being there with me and my siblings and getting a phone call saying we weren’t going to school that day, I guess I found out somehow and got upset and went to school anyway. Im not even sure if I was even sad, but I do know that the next year was hard for my mother and I was becoming more distant and skipping school and I started smoking cigarettes.
When I went to school I wasn’t that interested anymore, I believe I left home and moved in with my aunt Miriam who was in active addiction at this time but loving and always happy during the day. I asked my mother to sign me out of highschool, because at that time you needed your parents consent and I got it with no fight.
I started hanging out at this club called Tracks and that’s when I met my first girlfriend and moved in with her and her sister and father, all who were alcoholics or drug addicts. That was my first abusive relationship, we would hang out in the Village which was near home and we would hang out with this old guy that sold coke and I would cut it up and package it for him.
I remember the night that we were on 7th ave and my girlfriend was drunk and it was the last time she ever hit me because I lost it, I was 17 yrs old and she was in her 30’s. She tried to beat the shit out of me and I saw red, I kneeled for a moment to gather whatever thoughts I had and she walked away not caring if I was hurt, I chased her down and kept hitting her and left her on the street then I ran in front of a cab. I remember getting hit and landing on the hood then getting off and walked home and laid in bed.
The cops showed up and her father told them I wasn’t there, I don't know why he protected me but that’s when I called my father to ask if I could stay with him in Queens. I then moved in with my dad and got a job in the flea markets in manhattan working for Cella who was now my best friend.
This is the end for now
After deciding to share this I'm forced to look at my history of my life in Throggsneck in the Bronx, a place that I grew up in but I knew I never belonged. I was an explorer, I wasn't scared. Over the years in one way or another I would insert myself back into the neighborhood, but it was only when I was led out that my life would change.
My move from California to New York I ended up there.
My struggles in 2014-2015 led me back to my grandmother.
And now I have officially moved out and can never see returning.
I was too busy doing other things that I never realized I was continually being led away from there.
I kept fighting to belong somewhere and get something that might never be possible. When I Skyped with my grandmother on the day my stuff was being moved I cried like a baby, she walked somewhere private and looked me right in the eye and said "I love you, and you're going to be ok." We both always knew that it was more troubling for me to be there for so many reasons that this was a good move. If she knows I'm going to be ok then I know I'm going to be ok. I can't tell you how many times she has stood up for me growing up, I'm ok to stand up for myself even if it means just moving away.
I'm now looking forward to continuing to write my story.
Mucho Love, Jamie
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