I wasn't going to write this today; hadn't really considered the date or thought about anything special. I was busy moving about in my own world trying to enjoy a beautiful, sunny, summer afternoon with a moment of silence as all of my girls are out of the house for a change. I'm rarely alone, and as I sat down to take a bite of my lunch, out of nowhere, I was reminded of just how grateful I am and how far I've come. The, the date just hit me like a sack of bricks and it was as if the words...
Friday the 13th
just came cascading down in front of my face, and then, I wept. I just literally burst into tears with my first bite of food in my mouth that I was finally eating after a long morning of teaching fitness classes. I was famished and grateful to be eating but I almost choked on my food.
Friday the 13th.
It was a sunny beautiful day and my boyfriend and his friends were coming by to party. I was the only one with my own apartment so we were going to play cards and good music and dance and have a great time. I had to be around 19 or 20 yrs old. There was nothing special about the day other than it being gloriously beautiful outside and at that time, I lived on the north side of Chicago.
Living on Fullerton Avenue meant there was always a flurry of activity on the street and I often daydreamed about all the wonderful places those people were surely going. I was a young, single mother living in subsidized housing, but no one would have ever guessed that because the apartments were so nice.
I was excited.
When the group of guys came who I met through a friend then I started dating the friend of her boyfriend--you know how that goes--we were happy. We truly were. And while I was many things as a student, I was ill equipped and unprepared for street life and people I would soon learn were crack cocaine dealers. I didn't even know what it meant when they would walk down the street and say, "Got them boulders for ya." They had broad shoulders so I thought it was a kind of metaphor of sorts like "boulders and shoulders" or something.
That evening after the liquor set in and the joints were circulating, they began to put cocaine on the weed. They used to call that making primos. Even today I don't know if that's the correct spelling or what, but what I did know was not to fool with those. I'd seen other family members freebase like Richard Pryor and I wanted no part of that. Now, don't let me lie to myself or fool you that I was a saint because I wasn't.
I had already discovered what tooting cocaine was like and when I did that, I thought I was the most beautiful person who ever walked the planet and that I could do anything in the world. Somehow or other I always met party people with the means to get high, and by me being young with an apartment, my place was THE place to be. But I didn't know about boulders.
By this time it's around 11pm and the party is going good and they are going to smoke out of some kind of beautifully ornate glass pipe. It didn't look like the things I saw Richard Pryor and my others use and it wasn't a primo and they had plenty of it, and so because I had the apartment, it was like I was VIP. They let me try it and I did, but I didn't like it. It really didn't have an affect on me.
My boyfriend, who ironically was named Romeo, told me I didn't do it right. He said,
"You gotta inhale and hold it in,"
so that's what I did.
In that moment, it was as if a huge burden had just been lifted off of me. I felt like every care, worry, concern, disappointment, hurt feeling, every pain, EVERYTHING, was wiped away. It was like an instant state of peace and meditation and nirvana and utopia and heaven and peace on earth.
The problem is, it only lasts for about 10 minutes.
I myself thought it was an awesome 10 minutes, but they continued to do that every 10 minutes for hours, and then something dark and strange and morose and evil entered the room.
Romeo, whose name I thought would bring me joy for a lifetime, did something I didn't see coming earlier that day when I watched all the north side bike riders and motorcyclists and happy yuppies as they scurried about. With a glaze in his eye and demonic sound to his voice, he said,
"Man, this shit make me don't give a fuck about anybody."
I believed him.
I was terrified.
I thought, Get out of this room. Go find something to do. Slowly walk away. So I did.
I got up like I was going to the bathroom, but I guess he thought I was stealing something or doing something or I don't know what, because he got up and followed me and with my back turned, took his broad shoulders and boulders and strength and stench and kicked me as hard as he could in my back.
Obviously, I never saw that coming.
He jumped on top of me and just started wailing on me like a psycho maniac and I just tried to cover my face and squirm around and not die. I couldn't even scream because my young daughters were in the next room sleeping so I just tried to live. I closed my eyes and took myself to that imaginary nirvana I'd just experienced and prayed God would get that man off of me, and He did.
It was Friday the 13th.
I've been clean of cocaine now twenty-five years but to this day, I don't like drug movies where they are using cocaine in any form. I can't watch women get slapped or punched or degraded on TV and in movies and it happens so often, I sit most times with my eyes clamped shut and ears blocked humming a tune like a child. To others, it may seem mundane or fictitious or like a suspense thriller, but for me, it's too much to handle.
I hate flashbacks.
The thing is, I can kind of tell when it's about to happen in a movie. There are some warning signs along the way.
But not today.
I sat down to the table, took a bite out of my sandwich, casually remembered the day, and burst in to tears. Only this time, I was able to thank God for my safety and survival and for the reality that I surely do not look like what I've been through.
I am thankful today that although it is Friday the 13th and I have memories I will never forget, I also have things I will never experience again.
With so many suicides and people talking about depression and mental illness and financial hardship and frustration with their health and/or weight loss issues, I want you to know I can help you. Although I am not a trained counselor or anything, I do know the power of prayer and the strength of having someone who has been through something turn around and help another. If anything I've said resonates with you or you know someone who could benefit from prayer or improved diet/lifestyle, now today as a fitness professional, I can share with you what I've done to improve my life and keep myself healthy, happy, and whole. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are experiencing any hardship or challenge, just know, that with God on your side, you can make it.