My Life, My Story shares the story of Ebony Ferebee's challenging life. From the age of eight, she has lived a very different life from others. Throughout her life, she has faced obstacles and challenges that have given her a very different perspective on life. She has dealt with abuse in her home, molestation, the death of a parent, a suicide attempt, her mother's breast cancer diagnosis, an identity crisis, an abusive relationship, and adjustment to becoming a military wife at nineteen.
In My Life, My Story, she speaks to the little girl who just wants to be loved and to the young lady who wants a better life for herself. She has been able to overcome the challenges the world has thrown at her and live an amazing life despite all the odds against her. These days, she spends quality time with the Lord every day and keeps in touch with her brother, who is now in college. She strives to live up to God's expectations, and there is no place she would rather be other than exactly where she is in her life.
Celebrating womanhood and life!
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My Life, My StoryThe Story of a Girl's Journey to Womanhood
By Ebony A. Ferebee
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Ebony A. Ferebee
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAbuse in the Home
While the title of this chapter might suggest that I was the one who was abused, my mother was the actual victim. We lived with a man in Bellport, New York, who beat her right in front of my brother and me. Over the years, my mother had about three boyfriends that I can remember. Well at least only three she would bring home to live with us. This man was the last man we would live with. This man lived in Bellport, New York, as well. I am not really sure how they met, but I did know he was related to one of my aunt's boyfriends. My brother Tahj was around eight years old, and I think I was around ten when we saw this man slap my mother so hard her glasses fell off her face and onto the freeway. I remember feeling the innocence and anger in my brother all at the same time; he felt helpless and unable to help my mother. His small hands were balled up as if he wanted to hit the man. We both sat quietly with anger in our hearts, too scared about inciting any more rage in the man as he drove recklessly on the freeway.
Unfortunately we could not afford to get Mommy a new pair of glasses so we headed back to the freeway to look for her glasses while this man sat and waited, drunk and cursing my mother. I never understood why she let herself go through the pain and agony. I don't really remember why my "dad" and mom were arguing on that day. I do remember sitting in the back seat watching my mother's head swivel around because she was so frustrated and hurt.
I didn't remember my biological father, so this man gave me the closest thing to a father's love that I ever knew. His name was Mystical. He was a drunk, so I always wondered which personality he would have each day. I remember the smell of alcohol on his breath. He was the one who taught me about Colt 45 and Heineken. One day he was teaching me how to tie my shoes, and the next he was beating my mother. He tried not to do it in front of my brother and me; he often waited until we were asleep. Still, I loved him. And he always told me he loved me; he would sit at the dinner table with me all night just to make sure I ate my brussels sprouts.
But I was confused. Why did he have to beat my mother? My mother was so beautiful, but where was her strength? Did she want her kids to see her treated this way? My mother was such a mystery. She spoke up for herself and was very independent, but people were her weakness. When I mention that people were her weaknesses, it means my mother would take care of others before she would consider herself. She could stand up and defend my brother and me, but she could not defend herself. My mother did have her breaking points, so from time to time she would speak up against the things she could not tolerate anymore, but on a daily basis, she allowed others to push her points and she felt as if she was helping. My mother blamed her childhood for the life she ended up leading, for the decisions she was forced to make, and moreover for the person she had become. She never felt as if she fit in with her family.
I can remember many Thanksgiving holidays and gatherings with the family; my mother, brother and I would sit home and watch the Honeymooners in the bed together instead; Mommy just didn't want to be looked down upon. Would those factors really have affected the person she became and, more important, how her children would perceive life and family? If I had to answer, I would say no. I am saved, and God is the only ruler and decider over my life. No generational curse or insecurities from someone else can have dominion over my life. That is what I believe today, but for a while I was lost in my own head and in my own world.
I knew that my mother being abused was wrong. I knew that this man's actions were wrong, but the most important thing I remember is my mother explaining the big hole in the wall one morning after "Dad" had left for work. "What happened, Mom?" I asked. She explained, "Baby, last night he put his knees into my shoulders, and I got the strength from God to push him into the wall. I don't know what came over me, but I got the strength to push him away, and I am so happy about that." I was so happy for my mother.
Although there still would be multiple times when we'd call the neighbors and sneak out of the house while he was sleeping, I sensed the relief my mother felt about this triumph in her life. She would continue to go back to him. But that little bit of strength she showed that night let me know life doesn't always have to end up this way; there is always a way out. And that way out is what I was determined to find.
Chapter TwoWhen It All Began
At the age of twelve, I knew what it meant to be alone. One day after school, I came home, expecting to find my mother waiting for me. My brother soon would get off of the three o'clock bus. But on this particular day, my clothes were packed in black bags, sitting at the end of the stairway. My Aunt Aleese's car was parked in front of the yard. I didn't think anything of it, but she usually was not there after school. After I walked into the house, I remember looking into my mother's eyes as she told me to keep packing my clothes. Her eyes were bloodshot red, and she seemed sad and filled with disappointment. Sonia Lynn Ferebee usually was such an outspoken person, very lively and spirited, yet now she sounded distant and embittered.
I asked over and over again what was going on and why my clothes had been packed. Aunt Aleese said I was just going to stay at her house for a couple of days. That was okay with me because Aunt Aleese was a cool aunt, easy to talk to and very down to earth, but did I really need to pack all my clothes? My brother walked in the door shortly afterward. He had the same look of confusion in his eyes that I did. He was still so excited about getting home from school, he couldn't really focus on the scene in front of him, but he knew something was odd.
Although, my mother did not want to spill beans, she finally decided to give in; she told my brother and me to sit down and closed the door tightly behind her. "Eb and Tahj, I am going away for a little while to get some help. I tried crack, and I need to get it out of my system before I become addicted to it. Eb, you will stay with Aunt Aleese, and Tahj, you will stay with your father's brother, Lamar. This will only be for a year so I can get better. Your aunt and uncle will have custody of you. Now give each other a hug and kiss because you are leaving each other." And that is how it all began. Little did I know that soon feelings of confusion, deceit, anger, and especially loneliness would begin to consume my heart, emotions, and state of mind.
Chapter ThreeRough Teen Days
I moved to Patchogue, New York, away from Bellport and the family and friends I was so used to see every day. I was taken away from the life I had known. The streets, the hookups, the people hollering my name and asking where my mother was, chasing the ice-cream man, avoiding the big bully on the corner, and Tahj and me riding bikes to the store to get candy with Mommy's food stamps. Within the first couple of weeks of being with my aunt, I had a new schedule. She had my hair done every two weeks, changed my entire wardrobe (whatever I had left of one), and taught me how to speak properly and take care of myself. I was still allowed to go to my old school because it was in the middle of the school year, and she didn't want me to deal with too many changes. All my friends and even the teachers commented positively about my new clothes and hair, but this new life seemed so foreign. After four months, I changed schools and started going to a new school in Patchogue. South Ocean Middle School was a different experience for me because it was a mixed school with Latino, white, and black people. Most of the students in the school I had left behind were African American.
When I became a teenager, I tried to be the life of the party wherever I went. People didn't know that inside I was hurting and jealous; they had families and I didn't. I began to get interested in boys and acted out by hugging and kissing them in the beginning. Later on I indulged in the infamous "fingering" and flashing boys during lunchtime. Was I lost and trying to find myself? No. I was just hurt and hadn't really been taught the love a father teaches his daughter. No man told me to cherish my body or that I was a lady and my body was my special temple. Nope, I hadn't heard that yet. I imagined who my father might be and how he would guide me in life. I told myself that he really did care about his family, but during that time in my life, fantasy just wasn't enough for me.
You could say I began to use my body to get attention from the guys. It was easy, and I was cute because my aunt always kept me in the flyest clothing. I never lost my virginity; I just engaged in something that we liked to call "dry humping." I liked a different boyfriend each week, and I had those boys so head over heels for me.
I went through this stage for about one year. At first, it wasn't all that bad because I kept expecting my mother to come and get me, but that didn't happen. In addition, my little brother also had to be taken under my aunt's wing. My uncle made my brother steal from the stores; then Uncle Lamar would resell the merchandise in the streets. Tahj was so innocent. He liked the fun life, he liked excitement, and he looked up to Uncle Lamar, so I'm sure he found it easy to steal for him.
Inside I felt sad and lost, even though I was happy to have my brother back in my life and knew Mommy would be pleased we were together again. I began taking advantage of the fact that my aunt worked at the hospital, which was about an hour and a half away so she didn't get home until late. I told her I was staying after school for tutoring and sports practice when actually I was at my boyfriend's house the entire afternoon. I took the sports bus home at five, did my homework, and was good until the time she got in the door. Until the day I got caught ...
I didn't think my behavior was all that bad. I didn't smoke, drink, or do drugs. I was just looking for a fun time from those guys, though some were in high school. I even brought home a twenty-three- or twenty-four-year-old one day when I was about fourteen. That wasn't the best of ideas, although nothing happened besides some kissing. Thank God. I made so many rash decisions at the time. I didn't even have bad friends to influence me to do those things; something inside of me felt empty, and I was trying to fill that hole. I was insecure, thought I was ugly, was not pleased with my body, had the worst acne, and did not have much of a social life outside of school. I tried to put all that behind me to make my life look more exciting in the eyes of my peers. Where did I think I would end up after that type of behavior? What good would come of it?
Chapter FourNeeding to See Her Again
I hoped that one day the hole would be filled. I often daydreamed about how it would feel to see her walk through the door of Aunt Aleese's house; that little red house on Lake Drive. I wanted to find in her all the love I had lost. I wanted to find the acceptance I so desperately needed in her hug and kiss on the day we would reunite. When would it be my turn to be a teenager with parents again? My hope of reuniting with my mother was one of the biggest dreams I ever built up in my heart. I wanted to know that my life would be normal again and that no one could ever take me on another emotional roller coaster. I wanted to wake up from the nightmare and say "Whew that was close." But that never happened.
I was fourteen and completely lost within my thoughts about my mother. I lived in Patchogue and she was somewhere around Bellport, which was no more than ten minutes away. Yet, she did not make her way to see me or my brother. I wondered why I was not enough for her. I didn't ask to be brought in this world, so why was I left to deal with the hurt and pain as if I had just aborted my own child? I felt unneeded and purposeless. An entire two years went by without a word or a call from her. In those two years, I grew into a woman and developed a better vocabulary and a different look on life, but I still carried all the weight and pain inside my heart that she had all the power to ease. I never blamed my father because I had no memories of him. I just wanted to feel like the better person that I had let myself become. I really only became a better person at this point because I was in a new atmosphere at school. When I was at school I was happy and I didn't have to deal with the stress from my mother's absence. It was my stage. I wanted to become a better person for myself, my brother, and because my aunt Aleese had given me a new beginning and I wanted to take advantage of that. What People Don't Know
This is a story I've never shared with family before. I was around the age of ten, and he was around nineteen years old.
We were sitting on his bed playing Nintendo. I was trying my hardest to beat him in Mortal Kombat; my mind was focused on the competition, but his mind was focused on me and my young, overdeveloped body. My mom, brother, and I lived in his house because the owner was a friend of my mother's. We had been kicked out of a family-living facility known as Emergency Housing for Woman and Children, because my mother had missed curfew three times too many. This was our second to last option. The first would be living with my grandmother. We were there for about three months. I can remember an earlier close encounter that happened with this "gentleman," but nothing ever came of it. I'd told him no, and he listened. Why was this day different?
After my mother came in and checked on me, he told me to jump off the bunk bed and close the bedroom door. My mind was still on the game, and I paid him no mind. As the game read "Level Complete," he told me to lie on my back. I asked why and got no answer. I felt him pull my pants down and insert his penis into my butt. I lay there innocent and under the strong influence of this boy. I kept my eyes closed and wondered what was going on. I wanted it to be over, but it felt like it lasted for ages. Where was my father to tell me this was wrong and that I was his little princess? I jumped up and pulled my pants up after he was done and watched him do the same. As I picked up the controller and began to start the next round of the game I heard my mother call from downstairs. I went downstairs to see what she wanted. Little did she know that, at the age of ten, her baby girl had been molested.
I didn't know or fully understand why this was happening and how it would affect my life afterwards. I did not fully know what was going on but I knew it was wrong; I didn't know enough to say stop. I knew enough not to tell my mother because I knew it would make her upset. If I could have had a conversation with God I would ask him why he allowed this to happen to me. Why did he not protect me from such an evil intruder of my body?
I think my mother might have suspected this boy had high intentions for my body, because there came a point in time when she told me to stay in one room and him in the other. I guess she figured this day we were just playing the game console and all was well. The only thing I can blame this entire act on is the fact that we moved around so much and stayed with so many different people that my mother presumed to be good. I think my mother trusted this family, and I unknowingly did as well.
Chapter FiveFinding Myself Again
At the age of fifteen, I began taking singing and piano lessons, participated in the choir and plays, such as our own school's version of Grease and Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat. I also started getting better grades. I was chosen to sing the national anthem at school events with a select group of the best students from the choir, and I couldn't have been happier. I began going to school dances and met the best friend of my life, Ariela, who was part African American and part Latino. At the time, her hair had not fully developed into the Latino side yet, so everyone just assumed she was a black girl. Ariela was so beautiful, with big, brown, almond-shaped eyes, a creamy complexion, and a wide smile. She had a pleasant and witty spirit that attracted me to her immediately. We clicked right away. She spoke as if she had known me for years. She was very animated and cheerful, but she had a shy side also. She was just like me: she had a hard shell but a soft interior. I felt the need to protect her from those who might try to hurt her. I was the one who needed to be protected from my feelings and disappointment from life, but I often cared for other's feelings more than my own.
Excerpted from My Life, My Story by Ebony A. Ferebee Copyright © 2011 by Ebony A. Ferebee. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Abuse in the Home....................1
Chapter 2: When It All Began....................3
Chapter 3: Rough Teen Days....................5
Chapter 4: Needing to See Her Again....................7
Chapter 5: Finding Myself Again....................10
Chapter 6: Strict Rules from Aunt Aleese....................12
Chapter 7: Meeting Him and Lessons Unlearned....................15
Chapter 8: Dismissed over a Man....................17
Chapter 9: Finishing High School....................19
Chapter 10: Suicide....................21
Chapter 11: The Aftermath....................23
Chapter 12: Trying to Gain It All Back....................29
Chapter 13: Getting Married....................31
Chapter 14: Calvin!....................34
Chapter 15: Family....................35
Chapter 16: Friends....................37
Chapter 17: California....................38
Chapter 18: The Talk....................40
Chapter 19: Reunited....................42
Chapter 20: Life at the Time....................43
Chapter 21: Deployment Season....................47
Chapter 22: Dear Family....................48
Chapter 23: Deployment Struggles....................52