#timesup

5 years ago I moved from Los Angeles and gained my independence. I packed up my car, cursed at the rear view mirror and I put the petal to the floor. I was leaving behind not only my current relationship, but a life of imprisonment. A slave to my abusers and to my own fears. I left behind my partner who was extremely physically and mentally abusive and told myself I was never going to go back. To him or anyone who would ever hit, rape, or shame me. For years I was a victim of domestic violence, ending up in the hospital numerous times with broken bones and a broken soul. Everyone around knowing, but not saying anything. From the age of 15, after being cast out of my home, from one abuser to another these men took advantage of me in numerous ways. All of which were drastically older than I. For years I allowed this to consume my energy, youth, and life.

Never again. Never again because I have seen what real men are and how true friends treat each other. I have seen that a happy healthy life is possible and am living how I was always told was impossible. Anything is possible. The past 5 years I’ve spent building a foundation that was never there. Hours and hours of every type of therapy, self searching, and personal work. I spent years dealing with chronic depression, suicidal thoughts, self abuse and self doubt that needed to be reversed. And now, I can finally say, I’m doing ok. I’m not crippled with bouts of anxiety that leave me crying on the floor, or weeks of depression so deep I can barely get out of bed. And I’m happy, for the first time ever.

I’m writing this because I’m calling out my abusers, Justin James Lomery and Jose Daniel Villegas. You know what you have done to me, and countless others. What you did is not ok, and will not go un-judged. Your time is up. Be afraid.

I hope this gives strength, hope, courage, or even a glimmer of faith that it can get better, and there are good people in this world to who ever needs it. Life is too precious to waste.

If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship it may be hard to convince them that they are in danger. They will realize in time that they deserve better as it is hard to break the cycle. Hell it took me till the age of 30 before I could. Providing a shoulder and a safe space when needed can mean the difference in life and death in some cases.

Please find your inner strength and see your worth. You are beautiful and no matter what they say, you do not deserve to be abused.

For help contact:

https://www.thehotline.org/

https://www.breakthecycle.org/

https://ncadv.org/

https://dvawareness.org/

*While exploring the one of the sites I noticed a safety exit button on the bottom of the screen. It takes you google search when you click on it incase you your abuser walks in or looks at your screen. When realizing the need for this and that they so intelligently thought of this I broke down and cried. I cried for all the times I had fear ripping through my insides every time I looked for help or answer. I cried because I remember what it feels like to be right back in that place. And mostly I cried because I know that there are so many out there that are living in fear and in need of help. Years later and I still crumble. I am strong yes, but I still have a lot of work to do. These wounds cut deeper than the bone. They have cut to the core of my soul.

Kisenyi

Since COVID I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on my past travels. While laughing and remembering the feeling of being on an airplane, I came across my notebook from a Kony Aid volunteer trip I did to Uganda in 2012. Originally booked to teach, until I came across pro domestic violence children’s books that were to be read aloud to class, then I switched to construction. While I was there I branched off and helped out smaller, local charities in need of aid on the weekends to maximize my help potential.  Here is an excerpt from a trip to teach at a children’s school in one of the largest slums in the world. 

July 1, 2012 

Today I went to the largest slum in Kampala, Kisenyi. We were going to scout out where our building was we would be teaching in the next day. I was not expecting, nor could I have ever been properly prepared for where I was about to go. It was by far the most horrible and terrifying experience in my life. It had to have been hell on earth. I witnessed 5-12 year olds huffing jet fuel soaked rags they put inside plastic bottles to get high, strung out babies, and dead people. While there I saw a woman get raped and was told if I tried to help her that I would be killed. The air had the stench of hopelessness and death. I couldn’t help but feel this heavy anger and thick raunchiness. Only there for a few moments and already the energy was seeping into me. Given the choice to live there or die, I choose death.

After our recon mission my team went back to our orphanage for the evening. Sitting next to a jackfruit tree alone with my thoughts I noticed I was harboring these negative feelings and that I was terrified of Kisenyi and never wanted to return. That I wanted to forget that place and forget I ever went. But I couldn’t. I was there to help after all. With my chin on my knees and hugging my arms around my legs I told myself I had to go back. If I fear it, then I feel that returning there was what I had to do. The next day I be there, afraid or not

When we return I am more mentally prepared. Making sure I wore my rubber rain boots to protect myself from the sludge, knew better what to expect, and was going to be teaching for the day. I assumed this was going to be fine. Boy I was wrong. Myself and the 4 other teachers who were no more than 23 years old tops, were then given a set of 3 rules we must follow in order for things to run smoothly. The rules are as follows 

The student must remain in the classroom the entire length of the class in order to get their after class bag of porridge.

Ok, not too crazy. Seems easy enough.

No student shall engage in sex or drug use at any time during class.

Um, also, seems easy enough, I think? After all we were going to be teaching CHILDREN.

Do not let the students touch you. No matter what.

Now my concern is growing. And judging by the look on the other teachers faces, so is theirs. 

Next we are given our assigned topics and we are ready to start. My lesson wasn’t until second to last so I was to be hands to help the others when needed. Seconds after the doors opened the room was packed full and children were getting shoved away. The energy was through the roof. There were 2 mean old nuns there to assist that spoke Lugandan and were able to get all the butts to seats. First lesson, I sit back and keep an eye on the children. Looking around I am unable to find words for what I am seeing. These poor tattered souls were no longer children. They were long dead inside, nothing more than drug fueled emaciated shells. 

Quickly I started to see children leave the room after the nuns wrestled their jet fuel huffing bottles from them. This was the drug of choice in Kisenyi. It was readily available because this slum doubled as an industrial landfill, strewn with chemicals and poison. A girl no older than 13 was trying to have sex with 4 different guys for a huff. I had to walk over and ask her to close her legs and stop trying to ‘sex the boys’.She looked up at me with such a hollow, empty look I shuttered. She didn’t last for 5 more minutes before she was at it again and the nuns came and dragged her out. 

Ready for it to be my turn  so I didn’t have to play keep away any longer, I went up to the front of the room. The chalkboard was a paint coat on what should have been a white wall. At this vantage point I had an entirely different view of the class. I felt like I was about to give a speech to a room full of zombies, and nobody was listening. For my art lesson I decided we will draw something nice, pleasant, and easy. A Flower. Walking the kids through the lesson, “This is your stem” and “that is your flower” I think, this isn’t so bad. 

I start to walk around to assist any kids that may need help and give words of encouragement. A wide variety of flowers were present on the childrens papers, but I noticed one in particular. I can see from across the row of chairs that there is one child drawing an exceptionally detailed image. What a little Picasso I think. Going over to have a better look I ask him if I may have a look. He handed me the picture, I widened my eyes. Once close enough, I could start to make out what his masterpiece was. It was a 6 armed devil with a baby being born and out of a very vivid vagina. Not only was the devil birthing the baby, she was also eating it. With tentacle pubes. The child was at most 9. I gulped and asked why he didn’t want to draw happy things. His response haunts me still.

“Because the devil is going to kill us”

He let me keep the drawing, only for me to lose it post trip.

After leaving the slums I had a horrible feeling. Almost as if the devil himself was sitting on my shoulders. I thought that when people have gone down that far in life there is NO turning back. No chance for rehabilitation. A place like that should not exist and to wipe it off the world would be the only answer. I felt there was no good in the world if a place like that could be on the planet we all live on. 

After school was finished I wanted to go back immediately, but a man we met with the nuns told us that he started his own orphanage up the way for teens that wanted to get sober and out of the slums and he wanted us to go see. I was already so emotionally taxed that I was hesitant. I just wanted to go away from it all. It was already late and the orphanage I was working at was 2 hours outside of Kampala. Thankfully we obliged the man and the team and I went with him. Skeptical of what we were to see, I was ready to implement the 3 main rules again if I need be.

When we got to the orphanage it was nothing like what I expected. The 20 occupants were now in their mid to later teens, and thriving. I learned that for them, music and dance were the medication for drugs and on to a better future. They showed us around and told us their stories. In honor of having company they then performed a truly amazing act of talent, agility, physical and mental strength. You could not match this moment in time with any professional dancers and have it be half as amazing. The man we went with, Paul, was single handedly responsible for their second chance at life (which I thought was impossible) and their complete rehabilitation from crime and drugs. Sitting and watching them perform traditional dance with contemporary flair and acrobatic stunts with the backdrop of the beautiful countryside was one of the most amazing and incredible things I could have never fathomed. What I thought was simply impossible, was possible. When I thought that there could be no good in this life, I was shown that it can prevail. I was filled with doubt and fear and in the course of an evening I had the fear eradicated from my heart by 20 wayward teens and their mentor. The impact of this to this day 8 years later is still in the front of my mind. With courage, strength, and a little help from others a person can overcome the worst of conditions in the whole wide world. 

Fear can be over come. Obstacles can be over come. Don’t let yourself be. If in the darkest pits of the world hope and self love are budding, it can grow anywhere.

** At the time this was written Kesinyi was in far worse conditions than it is now. Since my visit they have erected buildings, have a merchant market, and have spent countless hours repairing this wound on the Pearl of Africa.

You don’t know what it holds

So this is my first post. I feel like I’ve tried so hard over the past years to not put my raw thoughts out into the world. Another prime example of how you really never know what the future holds. Shit has that been proven to me more times than I can count just in the recent months. Obviously COVID but then a number of other things as well. I never thought I would be starting my own business and yet, here I sit in the midst of corrugated cardboard backing, shipping tubes and rigid mailers. I never thought that my best friend of 18 years would suddenly cut contact but hey, who needs old negative friends anyways. And not negative in a fun or useful way, just mean. My relationship status is equally surprising. First for me to be in one, and mostly because he has a toddler and now instead of binge drinking in my spare time I am a happy, sober step mama. A few years ago if I would have seen myself I wouldn’t know who I was. But in a good way.

Anyways, this is an introduction. I have lived a crazy, sad, amazing live. I’ve spent the last 5 years putting my life together after a shit storm of WTF and am fir the first time, in what I always heard was called a healthy life. Sure I have my issues like everyone else, the occasional call from Mom “Felicia your sister od’ed again” or simply trying to cope after lifelong abuse but I am happy to say doing ok. Which is something I never thought I would be. Not even happy just ok. I didn’t think I deserved it sub consciously. Then one day the switch was flipped. And now here I am writing to you. It will get better I promise.

I hope you stay tuned and thoroughly entertained.

-F