Cinderella Was A Bitch And The Evil Stepmother Wasn’t So Wicked

25 Sep

Consider this if you will…

Once upon a time there was a handsome  young man who was favored with all the people in the land. Handsome and smart, he made friends with everyone he met and he was adored by every young woman he met.

One day he met a young woman frolicking in a nearby lake. Little did he know that the young woman was secretly a witch, and immediately she cast a spell on the young man to make him fall in love with her. Because his heart was so good and pure, the spell only took partway, and although he was unable to love her, he did give to her a daughter that they named Cinderella. The young man and woman married and tried to raise Cinderella as a family, but his heart was stronger than the spell she cast on him, and so he left- to see the world and to break himself of her evil spell.

For years the young man traveled, and although he kept constant contact with Cinderella and loved her, he knew he would never return to the land that he once came from.

One day after many years of travel, the young man met a beautiful young woman. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, with a heart that matched that of his in goodness and kindness. Immediately they fell in love and together they had two beautiful daughters. His life was finally happy and rich and filled with the happiness he knew he would always find.

Cinderella however had other plans. Left behind in the kingdom, she saw her father’s happiness and vowed to curse his new family. Turning to the spells her mother the witch had taught her over the years, Cinderella went to her father and his new family to start casting the spells she was prepared to use.

The stepmother was apprehensive to have Cinderella join their family, but because she knew it meant so much to her husband, she tried to welcome Cinderella with open arms. Together they included Cinderella into their family and although Cinderella appeared to accept her Stepmother and Stepsisters, she was secretly beginning to cook up her spell so she could cast it on the family.

The stepmother spent many days alone with the three girls while their father worked, and she tried tirelessly to make all three girls feel equally loved and a part of the family. One day they got word that the prince was going to have a huge dance in his castle where he was going to chose his new princess. The three girls were delighted and preparations for the big event immediately began to happen. 

Little did they how that at the same time however, Cinderella had already cast her spell and it was already going into effect.

As the days got closer to the big event, Cinderellas spell began to descend on the entire kingdom. The stepmother that others had always seen as young and beautiful was now seen as wicked and ugly. The two stepsisters who were always jovial and who were very beautiful themselves were seen as wretched and sinister. Everywhere they went, the people who once adored them turned on them and began to be repulsed by the three woman they used to adore. Even the father who always believed his wife was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, began to see her with eyes that were clouded by Cinderellas spell. Instead of the loving wife and mother he had cherished for years, he now saw a cruel, hateful woman who possessed a mean heart. The stepmother was crushed by the way she was being turned on, and even more hurt that her daughters were too. Little did they all know, that the spell that Cinderella had cast had made the stepmother and stepsisters look as horrible as they could, while all the while Cinderella looked more angelic and beautiful.

The day of the ball came, and the girls all were getting ready for the big event. The stepmother and stepsisters were determined to have a wonderful night and to try and forget the way they were being seen and treated by everyone around them. They donned beautiful dresses and fixed their hair and makeup and together they were the most beautiful women in the kingdom. Cinderella in the meantime had found great favor with her mother the witch and was extremely proud of the damage she was casting on the family. She sent Cinderella a spell infused dress that would make everyone see her even more beautiful than the spell she had already cast did- but the extra spell would end at midnight.

The moment they arrived to the ball, all eyes were on Cinderella and her magnificent, literal spell bound beauty. The prince was captivated with her and immediately was taken with Cinderella. The entire night they spent together- Cinderella and the prince- dancing the entire night away on the dance floor. The night slipped away from her and before she knew it, Cinderella heard the chimes of the clock letting her know that midnight had approached. Quickly, she ran from the prince and the castle and back to the home of her father and stepmother- not realizing that she had dropped one of her shoes in the process. The prince found the shoe and swore he would find the young lady it belonged to.

For days the prince searched for Cinderella- until finally he came across her home where he was met by her stepmother- who he thought was the ugliest and meanest woman he had ever seen because of the spell that Cinderella had cast on her.

The prince was thrilled to find Cinderella and was overjoyed to place the shoe on her foot. As Cinderella basked in the moment of her prince finding her, her father remembered a time in his distant memory when he felt the same sort of joy he saw on Cinderella’s face at that moment. Pushing past spell laden fog in his memory, he remembered the day he married his beautiful wife- the most beautiful woman he ever saw. He mourned that woman, her beauty, her kindness- and he wondered where it had gone. As he turned to his wife, he saw the beautiful woman he once knew- kind, beautiful, loving and filled with grace. He saw their two beautiful daughters standing beside her- as beautiful and radiant as their mother was herself at their age. Confused, he looked at Cinderella with eyes that were no longer covered in her spell, and was horrified to see the most wretched and horrible creature he had ever seen. Unaware that spells cast will bring back threefold what is done to others, Cinderella had inadvertently turned herself into the very creature she wanted all to see her stepmother and stepsisters as. 

Slowly, one by one, the people of the land were freed of Cinderellas spell, and they were able to see the stepmother and stepsisters as the beautiful women they truly were. And just as Cinderella had made herself three times uglier by her spell, she had also bestowed three times the beauty and love onto her stepmother and stepsisters. The prince ran away- horrified- and locked himself in the castle to shake off the effects of a nearly disastrous union. Cinderella returned back to her mother the witch. And the father and the stepmother and their daughters- they celebrated the love that he felt for his wife and the power it had to lift the spell that had been cursed and together they lived happily ever after.

The End


Requiem For a Tower

21 Jun

This morning I awoke early to the birds loudly announcing the arrival of the rain, as the rhythmic melody of the drops hit my window. It made my heart smile and my soul soar to hear this balance of nature song- to hear the chorus of aviary song along with the weather.
Unfortunately not every morning can begin with a beautiful symphony of nature- and on those mornings I turn to this to welcome my day. It also makes my heart smile and my soul soar. It brings me peace and helps me to move forward- walking, waking, thinking, giving thanks. Wherever you are in the world, if you are unable to hear the songs of the earth, or if your heart and soul just need to be uplifted- I bring you this.
Listen. Move forward. And know today wherever you are… you are loved.
Have a wonderful day

The Biggest Fight Of My Life

10 Apr

On one of my favorite TV shows the characters tell each other to “dance it out” when they are stressed out. Dancing is rather tough for me these days, so I am instead “writing it out”. I figure I will get less hurt and things will get less broken this way.

If you’ve read any of my other blogs you know I am no stranger to obstacles and challenges in life. But this… this tops all of it. Maybe its just because I have so little control of the outcome- maybe because the only one to fight is myself. How do you fight when your own body is turning against you? Before I keep going I should probably start at the beginning…

Hi. I’m Michelle and I have Multiple Sclerosis.

This story begins July 27, 2006. You don’t think when you wake up one morning that your whole life is going to change that day. That day was supposed to be unremarkable- wake up, get dressed, go to work, come home, wait for the cable man, go back to work , come home, make dinner, go to bed- but somewhere between the wait for the cable man and the go back to work things went very wrong.

The cable man was scheduled to arrive around 1 PM and was running a bit late. When he did arrive, he did a quick walk through to figure out how he was going to route the cable and phone through the house we were renting. We were staying at my friends house while she and her husband and boys were in Guatemala teaching for two years. The cable man (Larry was his name- believe me I know the irony of Larry the Cable Man) began to drill holes in the house. One hole that was supposed to go through the wall instead went from the wall through my bookcase- something that he insisted should NEVER happen- that “bad holes” were inexcusable.

He went to drill another hole in my sons bedroom, but was still upset about the “bad hole” so he asked if I would look through a small pin hole that went through the closet wall. So, with him on one side, I went into the closet on the other side of the wall, put my eye to the hole and told him the hole was covered with what I thought was his finger. It wasn’t. It was the drill.

I no sooner said “its covered” when he pushed the drill through. The bit grabbed ahold of my eyelashes, tearing my eyelid apart, grazed across my eye turning into what the eye doctor described later as “hamburger” and landed into the duct at the corner of my eye and nose.

That kind of injury causes one to bleed an awful lot. The fluids that come from an eye are not just blood- they are foreign- and the matter that came with the bit from the wall- the plaster, wood, paint, dust, mold and who knows what else- all went directly into the open wound. I was rushed to the hospital and received several stitches in my eyelid as well as my eye. Miraculously I was able to keep my eye, but my vision has been altered forever.

With all the material that went into my eye its no surprise that I developed infections. The infections were severe- severe enough that I was told they were spreading into my brain. Six months after my first infection I woke up one morning with the feeling that I had gone to the dentist overnight. Half of my face was completely numb- so numb that it felt as though I was fully numbed with Novocain. The numbness was not located only to my face- my right teeth were also numb so perfectly halved that my right front teeth were numb while my left front teeth were not. My tongue was also numb and had no feeling at all on the right side. It was bizarre but I figured that I must have had a wisdom tooth coming in that was hitting a nerve or something so I dismissed it. But when the numbness didn’t go away for a week and a half, my husband insisted that I go to the doctor. I went to my family doctor who ordered scans and when the results came back told me I had a brain tumor. I will never forget hearing him tell me that- and I will never forget having to tell my husband the news. We wanted a second opinion, so I met with a neurologist who told me that I did not have a tumor- what I had was a lesion- it was not a growth but rather a hole. Really? Was this better than a tumor? Because with a tumor there was at least something to remove, but a hole? Can you fill in a hole? I didn’t think so.



The doctor told me that she thought it was due to the infections and that she wasn’t going to worry about it unless I had another episode. Unfortunately I did. Again, I had a massive eye infection, and again six months later I woke up with numbness. This time however, the numbness was not only localized to my face- it went from under my eye to the tip of my right toe. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t hold a toothbrush or a pencil or a fork. I had another scan- I had 14 new lesions. I had a spinal tap- I had oligoconal banding. Because of the second “flare up”, because of the new lesions and because of the banding I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was put on an IV treatment that rto slow down the progression of the MS. I’m no longer on the therapy medicine- I developed an allergy to it- and now am not on any medicine at all. I’m just living on a hope and a prayer I don’t get sick again.

I’ve been pretty good about having MS- I don’t really let it get the better of me and I can laugh off most things. I’m preparing to walk the MS Walk again for the second year in a row and am the team leader for my team The Snozzberries. I advocate where I can, I spread awareness when I can, and my oldest son is even interning for our local MS Chapter. But… when Annette Funicello died the other day- it hit me hard. When I received the diagnosis of MS I didn’t know anything about it so I dived into finding out every bit of information on it I could. She was the first person I “knew” that had MS and instantly I felt a connection. When I was  younger I earned the nickname “Skippy” because my teammates told me I resembled Annette, so when I heard that we had an “MS Connection” as well, I felt that we were kindred spirits.

I have known that Annette was out of the limelight for awhile now and I knew that her MS had progressed, but I had no idea how bad she was until she passed away the other day and I saw a video that was filmed just six months ago.

I am now terrified- I have been scared and worried before in a way that I can kind of light heartedly joke about- but now I’m terrified. I don’t want to end up like that. Annette was so beautiful once, so lively, she had such a beautiful smile- and all that was gone.


Teri Garr is another familiar face with MS- once beautiful, fit, delicate- and now seeing her in a wheelchair makes me terrified for my future. Of all the things I’ve lived through- beatings, parents with addictions, being abused- this… THIS… is worse than all of it. I was young with those other things, I was strong, I was a fighter. I could look my enemy in the eye and say “No more”. How do I fight my own body? How can I determine my outcome when I have no control over what is happening? I have become my own enemy. Its all too much right now. Its too much to bear. I wish I didn’t have the MS Walk in three days. I wish I didn’t have to go. I don’t want to put on a brave face right now- I want to cry and I want to be allowed to be afraid and I don’t want to hear that its going to be okay and that my MS is different- I don’t want to hear that. I want someone to say that I’m right- Its terrifying- its not fair- its scary as hell- that no one knows what the future is going to hold. I don’t want to hear that I don’t have to worry about becoming like Annette or Teri- I want to hear what is going to happen to me if and when I do. I don’t want to end up in a nursing home. I don’t want to be forgotten. I don’t want this. I don’t want this. I don’t want this. I don’t…

Tapping Into My Creative Spigot

6 Apr

Two years ago I received what might have been the greatest gift I could have received- my Bernina sewing machine. I had no idea how to sew a stitch, cut fabric or even where to begin when it came to patterns. After two short lessons, I made my first quilt for my Mother-In-Law


The project took a lot longer and was much harder than I was expecting since I hand embroidered all 13 grandchildrens names and birthdays onto their own block. I should mention- I have MS that affects my hands and after holding a needle for more than 10 minutes I tend to fling things out of my hand. It makes embroidery a bit challenging.

To make things even MORE complicated, I had the FANTASTIC idea of using the remainder of my scraps to make a second quilt for the backing. I did a whole Card Trick pattern on the back, and while it looks great- it was two quilts in one! A bit of a challenge for a first quilt!

Since then I’ve made a half dozen more- for my son when he was accepted at SPU…

For my friend that was extremely sick and who I wanted to have a warm hug around her to make her better (I embroidered every one of her blocks with things she loved)



To gifts I’ve made for friends and family…

ImageI’m now working on several more- for my sister in laws, my brother in law, my nephew, my aunt, my cousins, my friends, my sister and I am challenging myself to learn more, to try new things and to get better with each one.

I’m also making things to sell on my Etsy store- lots of little “quilty” things, Christmas items- things like that. I love it. I am hoping that at some point I’ll be able to upgrade my machine to one that can do the embroidery for me- or even to a long arm machine- but until then I’ll just keep on using ‘ol Bernie the Bernina and make treasures for the ones I love



Part 2 of Draw The Drapes and Open The Windows! The Future Is Bright!

2 Apr

John and I August 1990

John and I August 1990

1990 was a summer of new hopes and possibilities, of a new relationship and the beginning of a new life. For the first time in years I was excited about my future and I what each day had to offer. My life was not that of a typical 15 year old, but I not only came to terms with my new life- I embraced it. It was incredible to not feel pain every single day. I worked hard at my jobs and at school, I worked hard to care for my sister and I worked hard to be the kind of young woman that resembled nothing of her mother.

John continued to call me every day after he got off work and we would talk for hours. He was a friend like I had never experienced before- I was able to talk to him about anything- openly and honestly- and I felt a connection with him that I thought only happened in fairy tales. He would listen to me when I told him of my fears and concerns he would reassure me that I could and would be okay. He was the first person to ever tell me I was strong or that I was beautiful or to have faith in me. John was like no one I had ever met before. He allowed me to take things with us at a snails pace- talking on the phone together for months before we finally reunited- seeing each other for the first time since the day we met. We went on walks, he would come for dinner and sometimes he would drop off his clothes in the morning and then after work he would come by to have dinner and then take his clean clothes back home with him. I asked him the first time he dropped off his clothes if I found any change in his pockets if I could keep it and he told me I could. Imagine my surprise when doing his laundry one day I found $78 in his pocket! It was a fortune to me who had very little money at all. I thought maybe he had left it there on purpose as a thank you for doing his laundry. So I took the money and went to the store and bought groceries that we desperately needed. John came by after work that day for dinner and his clothes and I had made a special dinner of spaghetti and garlic bread- simple but extravagant for my sister and I at that time. I told him about the money I found in his pocket all while trying to act nonchalantly as though I didn’t suspect he left the money on purpose. Little did I know at that time that he definitely did not leave the money on purpose- it was all the money he had to his name for two weeks until his next payday. I probably should have suspected something when he came for dinner every single night for two weeks but I was so happy to have him with me, I was blissfully ignorant.

The house where it all happened

The house where it all happened

Months had gone by and life had settled into a comfortable new normal for my sister and I that included John more and more. My sister adored him- perhaps its was the fact he was so incredibly handsome, perhaps it was the fact that he was the only stable and kind man in our lives, or perhaps it was because he would bring chocolate chip ice cream when he came to visit. Whatever the case, we were a happy family together the three of us. John was always the gentleman and never stayed overnight and always was respectful in front of my sister. It was more than I could have ever dreamed of,  so when a knock came to the door one day and it was my mother on the other side- I felt as though the devil had come calling. She invited herself inside and with half accusing and half scoping eyes, she surveyed the clean house that was the home of my sister and I. Before I knew it, she was bringing her things in the house- telling me that she had split with Bret and that things would be different- that they changed this time- she really meant it this time- and without listening to any of my pleads for her to leave, she moved herself in. My new world had gone supernova and she was the black hole at the epicenter.

It took only four days before Bret was at the house when I came home from work one day- just to visit my mother swore- although I knew better. Over the next few days I would find a box labeled with his name in “my mothers room”, or I would find his cassette tapes in the living room by the stereo, or his dog in the backyard.  I watched as one window at a time was shut, and the drapes were pulled closed and my life began to be filled with darkness once again.

I felt my world spiraling away from me and before I knew it- my mother and Bret were back, John had left halfway across the country, and my dreams were being replaced by nightmares. The only bit of reprieve was found in the still nightly phone calls I received from John to make sure I was okay. It was many times the only thing that kept me sane and impatiently I would sit in the kitchen, waiting for the clamor from the phone that held the deep loving voice that loved me from 1,500 miles away.

I tried to keep myself busy enough that I was not at home much- often going straight from work to my mother’s parents apartment that was just a few blocks from my secretarial job. My mother and I lived with them when I was just a toddler when she divorced from my biological father. Many weekends were spent at their home when I was growing up, and now with my world the chaotic mess that it was- I had distanced myself from them to keep them from being engulfed in the darkness that I felt I carried with me wherever I went. The year before though, my precious grandfather had been diagnosed with lung cancer- years of smoking and working in the coal mines in Pennsylvania when he was younger had taken a toll on his body. I would go to their apartment after work to help my grandmother with my grandfather because his illness was progressing to a point that she was unable to care for him herself. I would give him his pills, bathe him if he needed it, make sure he ate his dinner, and stay to watch a bit of TV with him before I would head back to the hell I called home.

The drug use with my mother and Bret was beyond what I ever thought a person could tolerate- physical fights broke out daily and new bruises were being added to the cache I already owned. The months of solitude that my sister and I experienced began to seem like a distant memory or dream that had faded to the edges of my mind.

I had returned home one Friday after visiting my grandparents after work to be met by my mother at the door demanding money so she and Bret could go out and “party”. I was exhausted and not about to give my hard earned money to my mother and her boyfriend so they could stick it in their nose or in their arm. I ignored her and walked into my room, closing the door behind me without saying a word. In a burst, the door flew open and my mother came at me with a large knife- screaming at me to give her money- all while she was bringing the knife closer to my chest that already had a scar from her previous attempt at slicing my throat. I laid on my back on my bed, and kicked her away from me- she let out a strange sound and dropped the knife and began to scream. “You broke my ribs! You broke my ribs!” she screamed, “You’re going to jail! I’ll have you arrested! You bitch!” she yelled. I closed the door and laid on my bed, praying that she did call the police and that I would be arrested so I could have a reprieve of the madness.

The house suddenly went quiet- very quiet-  never a good sign when living in a constant hurricane because the eye’s stillness is only an illusion- the storm is far from over. Cautiously I opened my bedroom door to find I was home alone. My mother and Bret had taken his Camero and gone somewhere. I was nervous and uncertain if I wanted to know what was going on.

It was about 4 am the next morning that I was awoken my mother screaming for Bret to leave the house. As quiet as I could, I cracked open the door, and was able to see Bret in the living room, blood dripping from his nose, and my mother going into the kitchen. Through the slurs of drunken and drug induced speech I was able to decipher that Bret had had an accident and had crashed the Camero into a wall at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery. He was demanding my mother get him a new car- she was screaming “no!” “no!” “no!”, and he was throwing anything he could get his hands on. My mother had come out of the kitchen and into the living room and was just turning to face Bret when his keys hit her in her mouth.

Blood poured from her split lip and the sight of the blood put Bret in a frenzy. He grabbed my mother by the hair and pulled her into the kitchen towards their bedroom. I followed them as he dragged her away, and when the door shut, I called the police.

The Seattle Police were by this time so familiar with our house and our family that even the operators were getting to know us by voice. I told the woman on the other end that they were fighting again- send some help please- going through the customary speech that was always recited when dialing the three digit phone number that was dialed so frequently the 9 and 1 on the phone was beginning to wear, when from the kitchen window I saw my mother run from the backyard and to the house across the street where Bret’s brother lived.

This was new. She never ran away like that and suddenly I was very aware that I was alone in the house with a madman. I set the phone down and as fast as I could, I followed my mother to Tom and Janet’s house. Janet opened the door and let us inside where we hid in her basement- watching the entire time as Bret circled outside the house for some sign of where my mother had gone.

We were still waiting for the police to arrive when my mother began to panic because she had left her purse in the house. “You have to go get it!” she pleaded with me. “Please! Michelle! Go get it! Its in my bedroom and Bret can’t have it” and for a reason I will never understand why- I left the basement and went to get her purse.

I wanted to be quiet so I moved quickly through the gate that lead to the backyard and tiptoed to her bedroom door. It was quiet and I had no idea where Bret was- but I knew he had to be somewhere. The single window that would possibly give me an indication whether or not he was in the room was covered- the house of darkness always had the windows covered after all- so I couldn’t see if he was in the bedroom or not. I would have to carefully, quietly open the bedroom door and just hope…

My hand had just reached the handle when the door opened with Bret on the other side. Thankfully I was crouching behind the door as it opened towards me and I was hidden from his view. I watched as he walked around the side of the house towards the front yard and I carefully and quietly slipped into the bedroom.

The purse was exactly where I thought it was- God only knew what was in that thing that was so important for her to have- and I slung it over my shoulder as I tried to figure out how I was going to get out of the house without being seen. Getting in was only half the battle- getting out was the other.

I went through my mothers room and into the kitchen where I could see Janet’s house across the street. The police still hadn’t arrived- their response times were getting longer and longer it seemed- and not knowing if or when they would be arriving made me uncertain if I should hide with the purse and wait for them to come  or if I should try and sneak out of the house and back to Janet’s. The thought had barely entered my mind when I heard Bret enter back into my mother’s room from the backyard.

I dashed across the kitchen and into the living room and had just opened the door when Bret heard me. I heard his footsteps racing behind me and suddenly I was in a dream- unable to move my feet from under me. I was propelling, pushing struggling to get across the street. My mother and Janet were screaming from the downstairs window for me to run and hurry “he’s right behind you Michelle! Run!” and somehow I made it, across the street and into Janet’s house with the door shut and Bret banging on the door demanding to be let in behind me.

My heart was racing, my feet felt as though they were made from an element that combined jell-o with concrete and my mother- my mother was giddy as she stood in Janet’s basement clutching her purse, smiling like a buffoon. Exhausted, I watched as the police finally arrived and put Bret into handcuffs. He would be back the next day I was sure- he always was. Let him sleep it off and sober up and out he would go. Every time. This time was different though- this time they were going to keep him for three days. Three days. The news sounded like a melody.

On the first day my mother again promised that it was over with Bret for good and we immediately got started with washing his clothes and packing up his things. She was looking for a place to go too- I told her that I couldn’t have her in the house anymore- and as soon as Bret came to get his things, she promised me she would be gone too.

Monday evening was the second day that he was gone. I had stayed home from school and work to help my mother and I had slipped into pajamas while we packed up the rest of Bret’s things. My sister was staying with our Dad until things hopefully calmed down again and I was beyond grateful she had not been witness to the scene that had happened over the weekend. I was sitting in the living room when there was a banging on the door and Bret’s voice yelled through the door to let him in. “No!” I yelled, “Come back tomorrow! We’re getting ready for bed.” The bangs got louder, the yelling got louder and I thought he might break the door down. My mother had dialed the police in the kitchen and was asking for an officer to be sent to remove Bret from the property. What happened to the three days? What was he doing out?

Whether or not the operator actually told my mother to let Bret in so she could talk to him I will never know, but before I could stop her, she had unlocked the front door and opened it, to hand him the receiver.

Bret walked in with a cocky smile and with the phone to his ear, walked into the kitchen talking to the operator. I was exhausted and had spent the entire day washing and packing his things- actions much kinder than he certainly deserved- and suddenly I heard him tell the operator, “I just came here to find them destroying my shit”. That was it. I lost it.

I knew better than to talk back. I knew better than to argue. I knew better than to say anything out of line. But hearing him say that I was destroying his things when I had spent the entire day washing, folding and packing his this neatly- that was too much- and before I could stop myself I yelled at him from the living room, “You’re a damn liar”. Twenty three years later I can still see him in slow motion set down the phone on the kitchen counter and move towards me from the kitchen into the living room. I can see my mother in slow motion run and pick up the phone and scream for help. I can see Bret grab me by the shoulders and in slow motion, I can still see him lift me up from where I was sitting on the floor, and I can still see him as he brought his head towards mine and made contact with his head against mine. I can still hear the snap of my neck as he hit me with his head and I can still see his fist come towards me- slowly- slowly. I cannot see when his fist made contact with my face and I cannot see the numerous other punches he landed time and time again.

In fact, I don’t remember anything for weeks afterward- it was a concussion I was told. I had suffered a broken nose, a broken jaw, a broken cheek bone, and the orbit of my eye was crushed. I looked as though I had been in a horrible car accident. Or a professional boxing match. Or both at the same time. There was no resemblance of the face I recognized as mine anymore- and in fact- I never saw that same face again.

Bret had been arrested and was facing numerous charges. I was going to need to testify against him when the time for his trial came. Social workers were finally aware of how we were living and now that I was awake and able to function, my mother needed to move on. She did quickly- on to another man no less- a friend of Bret’s. I didn’t care. She was gone. He was gone. My jaw was wired, my nose was taped, my face was swollen and unrecognizable, but if that was what it took to get my life back- then so be it.

I cleaned up my house and this time I not only opened the drapes- I took them down and burned them. I was more determined than ever. I knew what I wanted in my life- and the life I lived with my mother was not it. I was going to be the opposite of her in every way- and so I began to make decisions that were consciously the opposite of what she did. She didn’t cook- so I learned. She drank coffee so I drank tea. She used drugs- I never would. It seemed like a good way to live and in a way she would be helping me to be the best person I could by being her own horrible self.

I didn’t see my mother for nearly seven months when Bret’s trial came around. She was still with Bret’s friend and offered to drive me to the courthouse where she had also been subpoenaed to testify. I told her I would appreciate the ride, and together we went to face the demon of Seattle.

I arrived and waited nervously for my name to be called into the hallway where I was waiting. I wore a brown pant suit that my cousin had given me, and had my hair pulled back into a bun. The bruises were almost completely faded, and the bit that was still seen was covered by make up. My face was noticeably different from what it previously looked like- at least to me it was. When the time came for me to go and face Bret I was suddenly aware that despite my nice attire, despite my hair and make up looking nice and despite the bruises being hidden- I was still a scared 16 year old girl that was facing situations that no one of any age should have to.

I went to the stand and gave my testimony for what seemed like hours, but when I heard the words that Bret had been found guilty- I knew that my words had not fallen on deaf ears. Bret was sentenced to 18 months in jail for numerous counts and as he was lead out of the courtroom, I saw my mother watch him go.

I decided to take the bus back home so my mother didn’t have any reason to stop by and I wouldn’t have to talk to her, but instead of taking the bus home, I took the one to my grandparents so I could spend some time with the only family I knew that loved me. Since my sister was at our Dad’s house I decided to spend the weekend with my grandparents- just like I used to when I was a little girl- and to  have a weekend of being 16. I curled up next to my sick grandfather and held his old, wrinkled hand and was grateful for his hands that were loving and kind. Four months later I held that same hand as my grandfather told me good-bye. “You are my beautiful granddaughter Michelle” he told me, “I want to see you happy. Find John.  You should be with him”. Those were the last words he ever said to me. The nurse found my grandpa dead when she went to respond to the buzzer he had pressed at the moment he passed.

John did find his way to me- although it took him over a year of nightly phone calls before he did so. On July 2 John returned back to Seattle and back to me. By my 18th birthday that August 29th, he had proposed to me. By September I found out we would be having our first child and on November 28, 1992- we were married.

Today we have been married nearly 21 years, we have two remarkable sons who are 19 and 20 years old. I have beat many odds in my life, seen many things, lived many lives in my nearly 39 years- but honestly I would not trade anything I have experienced because all of it has brought me to where I am today and has made me the woman I now am. It may not have been a great life, or a perfect life, but it was my life- and this is my story- and I knew that no matter how bad things got- I would not let my story have that ending.

And soon… The Rest of the Story…

20 Mar

I have been overwhelmed with the wonderful posts and messages I have received in regards to my last blog, 
“Draw The Drapes and Open The Window! The Future Is Bright!” 
I’m sure those who have read it can understand why I’ve needed to step back a bit- it was a tough thing to write about but something I have wanted to write down for awhile. Since I hit “publish” on that blog, I have felt a cathartic release- but along with it came a bit of soulful exposure that I wasn’t quite expecting. I am glad that I wrote it though- I hope sharing will perhaps help inspire someone else.

Blogging is still all new to me- this is only my fifth one here on WordPress. I did try once before and published two blogs but lack of interest on both the part of the reader and myself forced that blog to die. I want to keep this alive and keep writing and knowing that there are others that have an interest in what I have to say- that certainly is excellent motivation.

So… that being said… part two of the story is being worked on. I wish I could say that the end of my last blog ended in smooth sailing and an easy blissful life, but unfortunately it was not so. Like the old saying goes- “sometimes things have to get worse before they get better” and boy did they. Thank you for your posts, your encouragement, your kind words and for taking the time to read the words that came from my heart. The truth will set you free. I’m hoping that sharing this truth will do just that.

Thank you and stay tuned…

Draw The Drapes and Open The Window! The Future Is Bright!

15 Mar

To get to where I want to talk about I need to go back a bit further to before that time- to when I was 14 and when my mother left my Dad for another man. It was a horrible time for me. I met my Dad when I was 5 and when I was 12 he adopted me. I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world that someone wanted me to be their daughter- after all my birth father didn’t want me, so why was I to think anyone else would? It was only two short years I had the privilege of having a family and a father.

So, when I was 14 my mother moved me and my then 7 year old sister out of our family home and into a small condo on Greenwood with her boyfriend. I hated him. He was too tall, too skinny, too white and he wasn’t my Dad. It was just a few months into our new living arrangement that my life went from bad to incredibly worse. My sister was at our Dad’s for visitation and my mother was upstairs in her bedroom with the boyfriend. I was downstairs in the kitchen making macaroni and cheese when the phone rang. I answered it and heard “this is 911 dispatch. We had a hang up call from this number, do  you need assistance?”. Since I was in my own little world of macaroni and cheese and completely unaware of what was happening upstairs I said “no” and started to hang up when the upstairs extension was picked up and I heard my mother’s boyfriend yell frantically to the operator “we need help! Send an aid car! She’s trying to kill herself!” I hung up the phone and went back to my dinner. Theatrics were not an uncommon occurrence with my mother so I didn’t think much of what I had heard.

I was just finishing stirring in the powdery cheese into the noodles when the front door swung open and a storm of paramedics rushed up the stairs to my mother’s room. I stood against our living room wall eating my macaroni and cheese as they brought my mother down the stairs on a stretcher wearing a straight jacket and loaded her into the first aid car. They had hardly pulled away from the road when her boyfriend started tossing his belongings to the bottom of the stairs, hollering that he was leaving and that she would be gone for 30 days and I would be on my own. He left shortly thereafter and just as he said, she was gone for 30 days- leaving my sister and I alone for the first time. It was blissfully peaceful then and the time went by much too fast.

My mother had a history of shuffling through men like a deck of cards, and when my mother was released she had in true form met a man in the psych ward. Not surprisingly the relationship was disastrous. The first time he came to our home for dinner he tried to set my mother on fire “for a laugh”. Thankfully my mother had the presence of mind to ask him to leave early that night, but it was only a week later on a day that my sister and I were home alone that I found him standing on our back patio in front of our unlocked sliding glass door- completely naked and surrounded by knives. My life had taken on an entirely new dimension of bizarre.

My mother was never one to be alone for long and Psych Ward man was barely out of the picture when she was on the prowl for new meat. She would leave my sister and I for days- weeks- at a time and even though we were uncertain how we were going to eat many days, the peace far outweighed the hunger in our bellies. I began to encourage my sister to stay with our Dad more often and to visit friends when she could so she could eat and escape our situation. Having my sister go to our Dad’s house was not a much better option except for the food- he had begun a relationship with the sister of one of his best friends and she had introduced him to her world of heroin addiction. Our Dad was on his own path of self-destruction and it broke my heart so much I couldn’t bring myself to visit him. I preferred to remember him as the Dad I used to know and love.

I found solace in my schoolwork and would leave for school first thing in the morning and would stay much later than I needed too. Ingraham wasn’t far from my house , but it was far enough to give me the escape I so desperately needed. It was there that I met Tommy who would be my first real crush.

I was a Freshman and Tommy was a senior. Not only was Tommy a senior, he was the quarterback of our High School football team. He was adored by most of the girls in the school. I’m not sure how it was that Tommy and I became friends, but we did, and we would spend many hours on the phone talking to one another after school. He was experienced in ways that I was not ready for- and for that reason I knew that our friendship would never extend to a date. I was okay with that- I wasn’t ready for anything else anyway. The times that my mother would come home, more often than not she would find me on the phone talking to Tommy- trying to ignore her the best I could. She and I didn’t interact with each other much anymore so it was a nice distraction talking to a friend when she was home.

One day I came home from school early because I was feeling ill and when I opened the door I was shocked to see Tommy sitting on my sofa. I had no idea he knew where I lived and the shock of seeing him at my house prevented me from noticing right away that he was sitting in nothing but his blue underwear. My heart sank wondering what his motives and intentions were or sitting in my house nearly naked. I knew he wasn’t violent and I believed in my heart of hearts he would never do anything to physically  hurt me- so what was happening? Everything made sense the moment I  saw my  mother come from upstairs wearing nothing but Tommy’s T-shirt. He had become another of her conquests.  I never spoke to him again.

The Tommy fiasco made me completely bottle up to my mother and I refused to speak to her about anything at all. Periodically she would be hospitalized again- sometimes for 30 days, sometimes for longer- and each time I would breathe a sigh of relief that I would have a reprieve from living with her.

It was May 1988 when I met who would be my first boyfriend- Bruce Rogers. He was handsome- blonde with blue eyes- and for some reason thought I was beautiful. I had never heard anyone tell me that before and hearing it from such a handsome guy made me feel like I was something really special. Bruce, like Tommy wanted things from me that I was not ready to give. And like Tommy, Bruce pretended to be okay with my unwillingness to take our relationship to “the next level”. And like Tommy, Bruce found someone- or in Bruce’s case several someone’s- who were more than willing. I was oblivious of course and happy in my blissful ignorance. He thought I was beautiful. He liked me. That was enough for me.

My mother had returned home from another stint at the mental hospital and had met another man- this one was named Bret. All these years later just writing his name gives me chills. Looking back, I can picture his face in my mind so clearly, and I’m sure that is what the face of the devil looked like. Bret was an alcoholic, a drug user and violent with a quick temper. Put these things together and Bret was a time bomb ready to explode at any moment. Unfortunately his explosions happened quite frequently and even more unfortunately they happened towards me.  Just when I  didn’t think things could get worse with my mother- Bret happened.

Slaps, punches, darts being thrown into my back, trips down the stairs, burns and hair pulling became all too common. By the time school started again in September I had had enough. I was going to school bruised and hurt daily. It was one thing to survive on my own, it was another to be subjected to abuse.

In October I told Bruce I couldn’t handle it anymore. My mother had just gone into a drug frenzied tirade with Bret and had tried to cut my throat- an injury that has left me with a scar still today that runs from over my left breast to my right collar bone. We decided to run away together- I would have to get away far and fast because if I were to be caught the punishment would be more than I could bear. Our plan was shared with a friend- Maryann- who told us that her parents had several cars, and I am still uncertain of how it all came to pass, but a plan was developed and along with Bruce, Maryann’s boyfriend Michael, another friend JP- Maryann and I stole one of her parents cars and ran away. Now saying that Maryann and I stole her parents car is not quite accurate- neither of us knew how to drive and needed the help of our then boyfriends to even drive the vehicle away. Nevertheless, the car was stolen and we were in it and that night the five of us left without a penny in our pockets or a destination in mind.

Having no plan or money made for a terrible escape, and since Michael and Bruce were the only ones that could drive we were left to their own destination desires- Bruce wanted to drive to Alaska, Michael wanted to drive to Hawaii- so it took us two weeks to drive from Seattle to Oregon. I was just so happy to be away from my mother and Bret that I didn’t even care that we were driving aimlessly or that one of our drivers intended to drive us across the Pacific Ocean.

It was not a surprise that we were arrested when the guys stole gas in Bend, Oregon. I plead guilty to several charges including Grand Theft, and was sentenced to four months in the Bend Oregon Juvinile Detention Center. I was released early on good behavior and two and a half months after being arrested I was placed on a Greyhound bus to Seattle- handcuffed and escorted by a guard. My mother was waiting for me at the station and immediately I knew that my worst fears about being caught were about to be realized. I was brought home to pack my things so I could go and live with my birth father in Connecticut- but before I was taken to the airport Bret gave me a few new bruises as a going away gift. I didn’t care. I was going to be rid of him and I knew I could handle a few punches if it meant not seeing him again.

Life in Connecticut was unfortunately not much better with my birth father Ralph than it was with my mother and Bret. His new wife was wonderful and I loved her kids- her daughter Jessica and I shared a room and were instantly drawn to being sisters- but Ralph’s temper and irrational behavior was too much and after a few months I opted to come back home. The condition- I would have to attend a Christian Church School and no longer would I be allowed to speak to any of my old friends from Ingraham.

I agreed to the conditions all too willingly and before I knew it I was back in the land of the Space Needle and Grunge music- and an abundance of ex-schoolmates who were pregnant with my ex-boyfriend Bruce’s babies. No, letting Bruce and old friendships go would not be a problem.

The next week I went to the brownish pink church on Northgate Way and met with my new Principal, Mr. Cluck who gave me my new school uniform- a red, white and blue plaid skirt and white blouse with a peter-pan collar. My wardrobe was going to take some getting used to, but not nearly as much as going from Ingraham that had a popuation of over 1,000 to Northgate Christian where I was the only girl in the high school whose population was 5.

My life was in chaos- and at 15 years old I was much too young to be so overwhelmed with the things I was living with every day. My mother and Bret would come and go- leaving for days and weeks at a time, only to return in a drug induced rage because they had run out of whatever their substance of choice was that week. My Dad was a full fledged heroin user and was wasting away in front of my eyes. His girlfriend was now his wife and they just had a son together- a beautiful little boy. My sister was completely infatuated with him and loved the role of being a big sister. I was so grateful she had something to distract her from what was happening around us.

During the time that my mother and Bret were gone, I did reconnect with a select few old friends from Ingraham- and among them was a boy named Todd who despite being an oddball was a great friend. Todd only had one hand- a birth defect he was born with- and he tried to make light of it by tormenting people with his deformed hand. I wasn’t impressed with the theatrics- I knew deep down he was a great guy who was just trying to fit in despite being different- so when he asked me in May of 1990 if I would go to his prom with him, I of course said yes. I was a friend and he should enjoy his prom. Besides, it would be fun to get out of the house and wear something other than the horrible plaid skirt I was forced to wear each day.

The prom was held on Saturday, May 12th. On May 11th my step-sister Jessica was due to go back home to Connecticut from her school at the University of Maine in Farmington Maine. I had bought a dress at a thrift shop and was eager to tell her all about it and called several times that day to tell her about it, but each time the answering machine picked up the call. I  figured that she just hadn’t made it home yet. The next day, Saturday I went to the prom with Todd and although it was awkward it was still fun. I invited him back to my house that night so he could hang balloons for my sisters birthday that was the next day on the 13th. I think Todd was a little offended that I asked him to leave after the balloons were  hung, but after Tommy and Bruce- who could blame me for not wanting to open myself up and trust a guy with more?

My mother must have come in some time during the night- the 13th was after all also Mother’s Day- and it was early in the morning to tell me I had a phone call from my cousin Looper. I couldn’t imagine why Looper would be calling me- I hadn’t spoken to him or seen him since we were young and I was spending my summers in Connecticut. I should have known it would be bad news, I should have braced myself- but nothing could have prepared me for what he told me.

There was a car accident and my step-sister Jessica had been killed. My birth father was in the hospital with a broken back. She had been wearing a seat belt- he had not. The story I heard was that she had tried to take off her sweater while driving and had lost control of her Mom’s Ford Bronco, causing it to flip. The impact and the restraint of the seatbelt broke her neck and threw my birth father an estimated 75 feet from the car. The news devastated me. Jessica was like a sister to me and I loved her dearly. It was the first time anyone close to me had died. I needed to go to Connecticut and see my father and my step  mother and my step brothers. I didn’t know what to do but I knew I had to go. I got information where my father was- he was in a hospital in New Hampshire not too far from where the accident happened. I had hardly hung up the phone when my mother let me know that she would be going with me.

The trip was bizarre. I left with more questions than answers, a new tattoo to remember my step-sister by and the memory of seeing my parents in a room together for the first time in my life. The story of how the accident happened did not make sense to me who had ridden in a car with Jessica many times. She was so careful- such an aware and diligently cautious driver. Taking off her sweater made no sense. It would be years later that I would find out that there was reason to believe my birth father killed her. I still believe that is the real story to this day.

The next few weeks my mother refused to leave and she and Bret were at the house every day. There was a strange atmosphere in the air- something I could not put my finger on- but I was so deep in my own sorrow over losing Jess that I was not as attentive as I usually would have been. When my mother asked me if I would like to go with her to Canada to watch Bret’s friend Doug play softball I should have said no. Had I not been so distracted I would have. I didn’t though, and foolishly I went with them. Looking back I should have picked up on signs that things were not what they seemed to be. I should have known something was wrong when we never saw a game but did meet with Doug and his daughter. Why would he be playing a game in Canada anyway? Doug lived in Everett and why was his daughter there and not his wife? Nevertheless, a game was never seen and we ended up staying late- so late that we ended up needing to get a motel so we could return home the next morning. My mother and Bret got a room together and Doug’s daughter and I got the room next door with a door that connected the two.

I don’t know what time it was when Doug came into our room. I don’t know how he got into the room- he must have got a key from my mother- but I woke up that night with him on top of me. I told him he was in the wrong room- that his daughter was in the other bed- to get off me- but he was too strong. Even with all the hits and punches and the stabs- that night I experienced the worst pain in my life. I banged my head against the headboard to get my mother’s attention- I tried to yell for help- I cried and tried to fight. I could hear a Gloria Estefan concert on the TV in my mother’s room. Nearly a year later I learned that the entire thing had been planned by my mother to pay for the drug debt she and Bret had with Doug.

My heart was already broken at the loss of Jess and now with what had happened in Canada with Doug- I felt my soul was ripped in half. I thought it ironic I was going to a church school when I felt God was no where near me. I was forced to wonder what I had done that was so terrible to warrant the life I had. I did not want to live the life I had one more day. I decided I had enough. My mother and Bret left again for one of their long absences and I took advantage of the time to pack up their things and give them to Bret’s brother Tom and his girlfriend Janet. I didn’t know how I was going to live on my own with my sister, but I was certain I could do better than the adults that I was living with up to that point.

My mother was surprisingly accommodating to the  new living arrangement, and when she went to pick her things up from Tom and Janet, she stopped by to ask if I would like to go with her to a 4th of July party that she and Bret had been invited to. I didn’t want to go- I was still bruised and cut and bleeding from the trip to Canada- but for some reason I still cannot explain to this day I did go and it changed my life forever.

My mother had me ride to the party with her friend TJ and when we pulled into the party there was a man standing in front of the drive. He was in his 20’s and was wearing a white tank top and black sweat pants that were cut into shorts. His tan skin shone like copper in the sun, magnifying his strong arms. He was beyond handsome and when he approached me and asked if I would like to have lunch with him, I was hard pressed to say no.

His name was John and he and I ate together and spent the entire afternoon talking. He was like no one I had ever met before- so wise on so many subjects and so open and eager to share his spiritual beliefs. When Bret asked me to go with him to the Indian Reservation to get some fireworks I invited John to go with us. We sat in the back seat of Bret’s Camero holding hands as Bret sped in cocaine induced speeds of over 100 MPH. When we arrived back to the party, John gave me a kiss- I wasn’t sure if it was because he liked me or if it was because he was relieved we made it back in one piece. Either way, it was the first glimpse of happiness I had experienced in a long, long time. John and I spent the rest of our time at the party and when it was time to leave he asked me for my phone number so he could make sure I got home okay. I saw no harm so I wrote down my number- certain I would never hear from him. Bret and my mother dropped me off at the house and later that night John did call just as he said  he would. He continued to call every night from then on.

Having John in my corner was just the inspiration and the encouragement I needed. The day after the party I opened up the curtains to the house- an act that never happened in a drug house- and I opened up the windows. Everything got washed and scoured  that weekend. Drug paraphernalia and reside was thrown away. Blood that was splattered on our walls was washed off. Holes from darts that had missed my back were filled in with toothpaste. I scrubbed and cleaned and when I was done I went and found work. My first stop was at the Real Estate agency that my mother worked at as a secretary. They owned the house I was renting and I needed to know how I was going to pay the rent. They knew the situation with my mother and agreed to give me a deal on the rent if I kept the house in good condition and if I worked for them by cleaning vacant apartments and made them ready to rent. I gladly accepted. My second job was as a secretary at Alliance Electric- an electrical contractors office in Ballard. I worked between 30 and 40 hours a week and got paid $4.25. I felt rich. My third job was at the Church School where I worked in the child care center in the morning. When I finished there, I would turn in my school work, get my new school work and take lunch orders for the entire school. I would prepare lunch for all the students- including my sister who was able to eat for free- and do the dishes. By the time the kitchen was clean, it was time for me to catch the bus to Alliance Electric where I would work until 6:00 and I would catch the bus back home to my sister where we would do our homework.

For more than two years I lived that way- working, raising my sister, and surviving. John continued to call every night and together we grew closer every day. I was a 15 year old mother to my 8 year old sister. I was more responsible than the adults that were in my life. Most people would have looked at my life and felt sorry for me- but for me it was a wonderful, beautiful life. I survived. I conquered. I was finally able to look forward to my future and with the drapes drawn and the windows open, my future was bright!




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