¨For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.¨ -Plato
Let me start by saying I am not a professional writer. There will be plenty of typos, but grammar is not what this blog is about. It is about how music and Native American influence transformed my life.I am by no means an expert on either of these topics, but I do feel what I have learned may help others.
I am a currently a housewife in a small town in Northern Illinois, but that is not who I have always been. My early childhood was damaged by the effects of alcoholism. Both my parents were heavy drinkers and really enjoyed partying. They lost custody of us and my siblings and I were bounced around between grandparents. My dad was extremely jealous and was physically abusive towards my mom. They exposed us to a lifestyle that made us very vulnerable to some bad people. I was molested at a very young age by a babysitter and the effects of it were devastating. I was bullied because I was known as the poor, dirty kid who always had head lice. I am not angry at my parents for this. There was a lot of bad times, but there was also a lot of good. They were free spirits and my dad exposed me to a lot of great music.
Through rehab and AA, my parents were able to get their lives on track, but the effects are everlasting. My mom took us to alanon, which is a program that helps the families of alcoholics. Through the meetings I learned I was not alone. Alcoholism is a devastating disease that destroys lives. By middle school my parents were back on track. My siblings and I had been living with our grandparents and in 6th grade my mom and step dad got custody of us. My mom was sober and turned her life around.
In 8th grade, I really started to discover my true self. I loved reading and writing poetry, had a deep love of music and began playing the guitar. While all of my friends were into Green Day, the Beastie Boys and other kick ass bands of the 90s, I became obsessed with The Doors. I shared a bedroom with my sister, who loved Marilyn Manson. Our bedroom was divided in half, her side was covered with Marilyn Manson posters, mine Jim Morrison. We definitely had the coolest room of all of our friends. My obsession over The Doors went far past the music. I loved to read Jims poetry, even though at age 13 I didn´t really understand it. I was drawn to his words. They took me to another world.
In high school I had a few really good friends, but I never felt like I fit in. I made friends with some older kids in another town. They introduced me to drugs and alcohol, which slowly took over my life. I had problems with anxiety and depression and I found that drugs made all the bad thoughts go away. They turned me into a different person. The euphoric effects quickly faded so I began drinking. Alcohol brought out my wild side. At first it made me the life of the party, but if I drank too much I would turn into a belligerent, aggressive asshole who felt no pain when angered.
By the time I was 19 I was homeless coke addict and alcoholic. One night my boyfriend was arrested and I was all alone. My good friends from high school were all in college or working full time and my family was tired of supporting my bad habits. I got sober and slowly began to recover. Since my siblings and I were all out of high school my mom and step dad decided to move to Georgia, my step dads home state. Needing a fresh start, I moved with them. I ended up meeting a Georgia boy and got pregnant at 22. I ended up having a beautiful baby girl and became a single mom. It was a struggle, but my family and friends were very supportive. I was able to get insurance through the state of Georgia, which I was very grateful for. Motherhood transformed me into a different person. I had to grow up and I did. She saved me from myself.
When she was two our lives changed. While I was visiting family in Illinois, my best friend introduced me to one of her boyfriends friends. He was a divorced single dad who lived for his boys, looked like a Greek God and was very successful family man. My daughter and I eventually moved in with him. At that time we only had his boys every other weekend and one weekday. They were 3, 4 and 6 at the time. Our house was a madhouse, but we managed. We eventually had a daughter of our own and got married. I began working in Human Services, and over the course of 8 years I worked as a developmental disability aide, a one on one Aide at a school for Autistic children and finally an assistant at a Montessori school.
Things were growing great until about 3 years ago. We found out that the boys step dad was abusing them. The custody battle began. We did not have a lot of physical proof, only what they had told us. They were scared and it took them awhile to tell us. Their stepdad was a firefighter and had just got arrested for beating up a women at a Christmas party. Because he was a firefighter there was lots of press coverage of it. The judge was hesitant until he saw the article. It proved his character and the judge sided with us. Unfortunately their mom sided with the step dad and no longer has a relationship with them. As a mother, it disgusts me that a mom would choose a man over her kids. I do have some sympathy for her because I think he abuses her as well. Being the child of a battered women allows me to have some compassion for her. I have a feeling he controls her every move. She no longer talks to anyone on her side of the family, but her family is still very involved in the boys lives.They are good people and should not be punished for daughters/sisters mistakes.
The effects this has had on the boys continues to this day. This all happened as they entered adolescence. They succumbed to the pressures of drugs and alcohol. By the age 15 our oldest son was placed in an outpatient rehab facility, but things just got worse shortly after he finished the program. He began dealing drugs, police and parents would be at our house in the middle of night which terrified the girls. It was a non-stop roller coaster of sneaking out, drugs and lies. I ended up taking a leave from my job because they could not be left home alone and I could not afford a babysitter. Since I worked at a Montessori school I was able to bring the girls to work with me, but the boys were too old. Then I got Melanoma, and the medical bills started to pile up. My marriage began to fall apart because of all the stress. I had a mental breakdown, ended up hospitalized and was diagnosed with Bi Polar Disorder. I was put on more and more meds, which turned me into an overweight zombie. I began to detach from my family and friends, and the massive, rapid gain of 60lbs took a serious toll on my physical and mental health and all the medical bills from psychiatrists and weight related issues destroyed my credit. I could no longer take care of myself, let alone my family.
When his younger brother started to follow his path and my oldest daughter was diagnosed with depression we decided it was time to move to a smaller city and work on our family.
We moved from the Chicago suburbs to a farmer town in the middle of nowhere with a very low crime rate. The school is grade k-12, so not many kids. The town we previously lived in was a large upper class city with an average income of around $100k a year that was filled with beautiful people, horse stables, McMansions and very high property taxes. There are a lot of wonderful people who live there, but many people who moved there did so for the status and the school district. It is also a city that is becoming well known for heroin abuse.
I wish I could say that moving solved all of our problems. It didn´t. Both boys are still having problems with drugs and alcohol and do not follow many rules, but we are making progress.
What the move has done is wake me up. Through nature and music I have found my true self again. I have mentally and physically transformed myself and feel amazing. I began to feel the music like I did when I was younger and began reading and writing again. It was like I went back to 8th grade and started finding myself again.
Through the music of Alice in Chains, The Doors, Eminem and many others I was able to get my mind under control and find my inner strength. I became in touch with nature which opened my eyes and guided me through the many changes. I kicked my egos ass. I no longer have to take medications, my physical health is improving and I have lost 20lbs. I was once only interested the most expensive things but I am losing my desire for material objects and a high social status. I used to think my past made me a bad person, but now I want to use my hardships to help transform others. After one hell of a battle, I am finally happy and it feels amazing. I hope I can inspire others to start using music and nature as therapy, because it can transform lives.