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About the Author
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More Than a Conqueror
An Autobiographical and Testimonial Memoir
By Daughter of Zion
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Daughter of Zion
All rights reserved.
In the Beginning
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
King James Bible (KJV)
Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would take, going through some of the most difficult life circumstances, in order to know my true identity in God. I had to get in a position of nothingness, in order for me to heed the calling that was placed upon my life. I had to get to a point in my life where I sunk so low that I had to look up to see the bottom. So low that reaching the bottom was making progress. At that particular time in my life, I knew that my bottom was going to be my redemption and my testimony. My testimony, God said, "Write it in a book".
It all started in the early eighties. I don't know much about the relationship between my mother and my father. They weren't married and for as back as I can remember, they were never in a committed relationship. All I know is that they conceived my older sister and about fourteen months later, I made my entrance into the earth. I don't know much about my birth or infancy. I don't have any cute stories to share about my early years; all of this is unbeknownst to me- nobody really told me anything. It's all like a big secret mystery.
As I got older, I remember people used to call me "bad" or said that I was a bully. I was even nicknamed "Suge", - short for Suge Knight. I guess I earned the nickname because of my serious reputation for having an aggressive personality. I beg to differ. Allow me to tell my side of the story.
I always wanted to be around my grandmother. I couldn't wait until Fridays around 6:00pm. After her work-week was over, my grandmother, whom I passionately called "Mom", always showed up at our apartment in the projects to take me to her house for the weekend. I loved going to "Mom's" house-; her presence was my oasis, and her home was my asylum, which took me away from all of the noise and chaos in my home. She was my source of peace and comfort. I always felt safe, secure and loved when I was with "Mom".
I grew up in a time and a place where many "black" families, although surviving, struggled for generations with persistent penury. A place where the people were oppressed because of the systemic injustice and societal inequality of that time era.
The external environment in which I grew up in was severely distressed and inundated with social ills such as poverty, joblessness, welfare dependency, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, interpersonal violence, despair and so much more. We grew up on every governmental subsidized program that was available. Head Start, Free Lunch, Summer Lunch, public housing, Husky Health Care ... you name it; we were recipients of it.
The community faced a chronic single-parent epidemic, a single mother phenomena that has plagued my generation. The family structure of the community consisted of the family women taking on a dominate matriarchal role, and the patriarchal presence of the biological father, or any man for that matter, was scarce if not downright absent. The men that were present in my community were either on drugs, selling drugs, alcoholics, and just simply oblivious to their roles and responsibilities as a man.
I never really knew my father. I mean, I knew his name and he came around on birthdays and most holidays to purchase my older sister and me gifts, and I love him for that. Then again, I despise him for it, too. He was absent more than he was present. The brunt of my relationship with my father was very much superficial, materialistic and revolved around money and gifts,- no more, no less. As a child, I very much enjoyed and looked forward to a new toy every birthday or Christmas. Not because I desired the vanity of things, but because I was subconsciously taught that these "things" equated love and was the meaning of relationship. I would have rather received my father's intangible gifts of encouragement and support, rather than the Barbie dolls and Nintendo games.
My father's meager presence in my life has had an incalculable, profound impact on my life that to this day, something on the inside of me still longs to have a meaningful connection and a loving relationship with him. I still long to sit on my daddy's lap and bask in the safety and security of his presence. However, I have come to terms that that may never take place in this lifetime. So, somehow and some way, I muster up the strength to be courageous move on. Although I have moved on, subconsciously, I still struggle with the consequences of his absence and my perception of his abandonment.
I never felt "good enough" and always struggled with an internal battle of feeling inadequate. My father always gave me the impression that I was not capable of experiencing greatness or accomplishing great goals. I still remember when my father said to me, "It's time to start thinking of what you want to do with your life." I told him I wanted to become a doctor. However farfetched and fanciful my life's dream of wanting to be a doctor was, his reply left no room for hope. After sharing with him my doctorial plans, my father's instantaneous reply nearly crushed me. He said with such disdain and nonchalance, "You can't be a doctor- you have to get all A's in school in order to be a doctor." Wow! I was taken aback. My dreams were dismantled. My childhood innocence and the freedom to be anything I wanted to became bleak. Within that moment, I stooped down to the mere level of a child from the hood, with no means to think big. At that moment, the little girl inside of me stopped dreaming, stopped hoping, and stopped wishing for a better life.
My mother did the best she could to raise my sister and me. This is the most accurate way to encapsulate my childhood experience with her, without attacking her character. All I can say is that she did her best, even if her best caused me a lot of hardship and pain, and enduring years of emotional, mental and physical toxicity.
My mother, although loving at her core, provoke my her the wrong way or come at her inappropriately, and up goes her defenses and resistance. She would cuss you out or fight you at the drop of a dime and justify it when all is said and done. Like a pit-bull terrier, my mother's aggressive temperament, matched with her strength made her a fierce force to be reckoned with. I never understood why she came off as being so angry, mean, intolerant and unable to give or receive love or affection. I think she suppressed a lot of built up resentment from her childhood. Whatever it is, I pray that God heals her, delivers her and set her free.
Again, my mother did the best she could and I love and respect her for that; she did what she had to do with what she had and that is all I can ask for.
Naturally, I took after my mother. I learned how to behave toward people by watching how she behaved. She had a hardcore persona and a tough demeanor; she still does. People always asked me, "Why do you look so mean?" or told me to smile, and said that my face brightened up when I did. I didn't like smiling; it made me feel vulnerable like I was a softie or a simp. I never thought anything was wrong with my mean looking countenance; I thought it was perfectly normal. Growing up in my hood, being and looking tough was a protective factor; it was a matter of survival.
I suppressed a lot of my childhood experiences and memories, but I held onto ones that I would cherish forever. Many of my fondest memories revolved around music and the many house parties my mother had. Many evenings I could feel from my second floor bedroom the beat of early 1980's R&B and Hip Hop music vibrating throughout the apartment. Doug E. Fresh, Salt N Pepa, and Slick Rick bumping; my sister and I doing old school dance moves like the Elf, then we'd both break out in the Wop. We followed that up with a rendition of the Roger Rabbit dance while we rapped along with the brash lyrics of the music. Sugarhill Gang's "Rappers Delight" lyrics blared through the radio speakers and we'd sing:
"I said, a hip hop the hippie the hippie
To the hip hip hop, and you don't stop a rock it
To the bang, bang boogie, say up jumped the boogie......"
We would sing, dance and laugh until we were out of breath and exhausted. I felt so untroubled and lighthearted while singing and dancing. My mother's house parties always made me feel happy, because it was in those moments that she was the happiest. It was in those moments where she smiled the most. It was in those moments that she was carefree, jubilant and for lack of a better word- nice.
The bedroom door was always shut; I could hear the loud conversations, cussing, drunken laughter and the occasional melee emanating from the downstairs living room, kitchen and hallways. The noise was so loud, I would take a bath towel and place it on the bottom of the door in an attempt to not only keep out the noise, but the stench of liquor and the billows of cigarette and corruptible weed smoke that seeped into our room. By 3:00 a.m. or so, the noise level would cease and the drunkards and stoners were either passed out on our living room couch, or creeping into the streets to do God knows what in those early morning hours.
The Implantation of Corruptible Seeds ...
I remember going downstairs the next morning after managing to get enough sleep the night before. Although my mother managed to clean the apartment, (like she always did after a party), there was always a big black garbage bag full of empty beer cans and glass beer bottles in the downstairs hallway closet. My mother saved them and cashed them in at the package store and used the money to buy more alcoholic beverages.
One day the rattling of the empty beer cans, and glass bottles, along with the stench of beer and liquor that emitted from the bag sparked my curiosity. My inquisitive and inquiring mind reached into the bag and snuck out an empty can of Budweiser. I held the can upside down and waited for a beer droplet to drip on the tip of my tongue as I stuck it out. I remember thinking how disgusting the taste of beer was. Yet, I continued wrap my lips around the beer can opening, and suck out the "flat" tasting remnants of the beer that intoxicated my houseguests the night before. It was in that very moment, when I drank the residue of the alcoholic beverage, that the seed of alcoholism had been planted inside of my spirit.
The biggest surge in the use of crack cocaine was during the "crack epidemic", during the mid-eighties and early nineties, when the drug spread across American cities, communities, and families-including mine. This "crack epidemic" directly impacted and affected both my maternal and paternal families as it did many other men and women within my community. My family struggled with a spirit of drug addiction that has lingered in our bloodline for generations. This addiction spirit manifested itself in the form of crack cocaine addiction and heroin addiction, too.
Two close male family members were addicted to heroin. As a young girl, I was confused and perplexed because I remember watching their very peculiar behavior. There were no boundaries with them and they did whatever it took to get another hit.
When I was younger, I used to think that they were tired because they would doze off and jerk their heads back quickly, continuously almost as if they were too tired to stay awake. It wasn't until I got a bit older when I found a syringe that I realized it was heroin. I realized that they weren't actually dozing off; rather they were nodding, which is one of the many symptomatic behaviors of heroin use. Other oddities in their behavior included: constant scratching (especially between the toes), sniffling, twitching, and of course the track marks on their arms from the intravenous route of entry. They both had become so dependent on the drug that they had to shoot just to avoid the agonizing dope sickness. They became desperate. Dope had become a stronghold that held them in bondage; an excruciating captivity that would not let them go.
I could not come to fathom why they would begin using heroin. To me, it was disgusting and disgraceful but to them it was bliss and euphoria. I felt so angry, disappointed and disgusted seeing them high and strung out. I would often sit and wonder what they were thinking or what state of mind they were in when they decided to start shooting dope into their veins.
Did they consider the heartbreak and grave disappointment that the family would feel knowing that they only amounted to the mere status of a dope fiend? What influenced them? Was their drug use the result of desperation stemming from a need to fill the void of an absent father? Did they get caught up in the wrong circle of friends who introduced them to the needle? There are many questions, many more assumptions and no answers. My finite mind cannot comprehend the reason as to why they began to use.
One close male family member became homeless and ended up living with us. The most vivid memory about him, as inane as it may seem, is spoons, yes, the silverware that we used to eat with. Spoons would often go missing. The more spoons went missing, the more I knew he was using. I would find spoons around the house with this white residue, dry and pooled in the center of them. I put two and two together and realized that he was using the spoons as drug paraphernalia and the residue was heroin. I would intentionally hide the spoons; I'd wrap them in plastic grocery store bags and tucked them away in the cupboard so that he wouldn't find them. I figured that if he didn't have a spoon, he couldn't get high. I tried to protect him; I tried to save him, to rescue him, all to no avail.
Since I can remember a close female relative always struggled with a drug addiction. Weed and crack cocaine were her drugs of choice. As a young girl, I had never seen her sober. She had one son. Her addiction had gotten so bad that he had to be raised by various family members including my mother; he stayed for us for a while, too. I felt so bad for him. I hated seeing him suffer because of his mother's poor and selfish decisions. It was during those moments of her life that her addiction was greater than her ability to take care of her son.
One night during a house party I rushed into the bathroom after holding my pee for so long. I was waiting for a chance to get in the bathroom because it seemed like a revolving door was attached to it. People were coming in and going out, doing whatever they were doing; whether relieving themselves, getting high or having a sexual rendezvous. When I finally had a chance to go in, I was surprised to see my close female relative sitting on the edge of the tub, snorting a line of cocaine. I just stood there in shock. I was confused, distraught, curious and afraid all at the same time. She stared at me and I stared at her, nothing being said, but there was so much to be told. It was in that very moment, when I saw my close female realitive snort that white ghost into her nostril, that the seed of drug addiction had been planted inside of my spirit.
My mother happened to be upstairs and witnessed what I'd seen while I stood there in the door of the bathroom. She was furious. "I told you don't be doing that sh*t in my house when my kids are here," my mother violently yelled. Although my mother was a bit rough on my sister and me, she didn't play when it came to her children. She protected us and made sure that nobody did anything us to harm us, even if she did herself.
My mothers main form of punishment was physical beatings. Her authoritarian parenting style left no middle ground for negation and even lacked logic; she often failed to explain the reasoning behind her rules or corporal punishment tactics. My mother was very controlling, obedience-oriented and used fear to get my sister and I to comply with her instruction and rough demands. If I "misbehaved" whether it was in school, on the school bus, in the neighborhood or in the home, I was punished-I was whipped. I was whipped like a runaway slave who had been captured and bore the consequences of his master. I would cry so hard that I'd hyperventilate. Welts and scars covered my body as a result of the flagellation.
Mothers are supposed to be loving, affectionate and nurturing; I never understood why she treated us contrary. I sensed that my mother's attempt to offer love, affection and nurturance was very awkward and uncomfortable for her and I don't understand why. I sensed that she would rather have avoided special holidays and anniversaries, just so that she would not have to show love; being loving made her feel very vulnerable. It is my prayer that whatever spirit it is she is dealing with that causes her to shun intimacy, love and affection, she is delivered and healed from it. She is missing out on the greatest gift that the Heavenly Father freely gives and that is the gift of love.
I tried to reason within my own mind and within my own reality and concluded that hurt people really do hurt people, it a protective factor and the result of an inability to forgive and heal. It wasn't because of who I was as a daughter and as a person that my mother treated me the way she did. It was because of her own hurt and the people who oppressed her that caused her to hurt those closest to her- which is my sister and I.
Excerpted from More Than a Conqueror by Daughter of Zion. Copyright © 2016 Daughter of Zion. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 In the Beginning, 1,
Chapter 2 Suffer Not the Little Children, 13,
Chapter 3 The Consequences of a Broken Beginning, 20,
Chapter 4 Suddenly Siblings, 32,
Chapter 5 A Child's Innocence, Gone, 42,
Chapter 6 Falling Through the Cracks, 53,
Chapter 7 The Crack Smoke, 57,
Chapter 8 Off to the Races, 64,
Chapter 9 Running but Going Nowhere, 72,
Chapter 10 The Wages of Sin is Death, 88,
Chapter 11 Unequally Yoked, 96,
Chapter 12 The Gift of God is Eternal Life, 109,
Chapter 13 Broke but not Broken, 118,
Chapter 14 From Trial to Triumph, 129,
Chapter 15 The Ultimate Knowingness, 138,
Chapter 16 Walking in a Higher Calling, 144,
Chapter 17 The Process Produces the Promise, 155,
Be Encouraged, 161,
About the Authoress, 165,
Special Dedications, 167,
The Epilogue, 171,