My Crown of Perseverance | by Avery Gee
I've walked many miles. I have lived many lives but as Maya Angelou once said, "Still I rise." As a seed planted in unwanted soil many years ago, I have been fighting against the darkness to rise. I was the secret child of a married man and a beautiful young woman with a mental illness. I was such a secret that out of four children, I was the only one put up for adoption. To this very day, some six decades later, I am still the family secret. But, I wear my crown of perseverance because I still rise.
When a family adopts you, everyone is happy for you because they think you will have an awesome life. If you are adopted by a "good Christian family" more points are scored. However, if the mom is an alcoholic and the dad a womanizer — it's a recipe for disaster.
Imagine for a moment a woman who lost her only child to childhood meningitis. Picture a marriage that is hanging on by a string and the woman using the only weapon she has — the idea of another child. Perhaps you were told you could never give birth again. The young Christian couple made plans and adopted a little girl. From what I heard as a child, I was deformed as a baby. The child didn't work to hold the family together — although, it did exist for outside purposes. On the inside was a whole other story. On the inside, the child reaped the punishment from the unhappy wife. The wife drank more because hubby wasn't home and somehow she blamed the child. From an early age, the child was abused physically, mentally and verbally. The sun tried to shine, but the clouds always seemed to overshadow. I still found a way to rise.
It's hard to persevere through molestation and sexual abuse inflicted by others — as well as the abuse I had put on myself. The unloving way I treated me was almost as bad as the things done to me without my consent. I spent years trying to cut down the flower I was meant to be. It is so hard to persevere when you no longer care about yourself because you had no tools to do so. If you want to add insult to injury, try growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood when your people were not wanted there. Try going to school under the constant threats that go along with being in the minority. I persevered I kept rising.
I married abusively — not once, but twice. I was also in a few bad relationships. In those days, I did loads of drinking and getting high. I wasn't the best parent because I worked long hours and when I wasn't working — I partied hard. Sadly, this went on for some years. The whole thing came to a screeching halt in the early nineties. Drinking and drugging bring about foolishness. Foolishness can cause a woman to lose a job she had for years. The disease of addiction and alcoholism can make you forget how. When you relocated and had nowhere to stay and nothing but clothes — this job came along and rescued you and provided for your kids. This job was also an enabler — where, at that time, everyone was partying while working. Thank God no one was hurt. Through Gods grace, I persevere. I continue to rise.
Fast-forward. I recovered! I no longer hide behind substances. I wish I could say I rose and just turned into the beautiful flower I am on my way to becoming. There were and still are bumps in the road — but I continue to persevere.
OK, now we are at the last five years. But first, just a little backstory. I met a man about 15 years ago where we go to meetings. This man is eleven years my junior. We developed a great friendship. We held offices in our AA clubhouse. We eventually started dating. Our dating was fun and passionate — and we could talk for hours. But alas, we were two very scary people and could not make it work. Time went by and he got married and had a child. We continued to be friends — we continued to love each other. In the meantime, I dated others while he was married — but he remained in my heart. After about a decade, he realized his marriage was not working and he ended it. Of course, we started dating again.
We got engaged in 2013. Sounds like a happy ending right? Unfortunately, that is not how this story ends. We planned on marrying in May of 2014. That year started out bad and only got worse. My son left his wife on New Years after a super big fight. Later that same month, my fiancé's ex-wife was shot up through her chin and out of her eye! She survived — but it was touch and go. I'm teary eyed as I write this because I know what comes next. We had set a date to marry. I got the dress, we got the invitations and the location. All things were set! We move into what was to be our apartment together at the end of March. I felt as if I was finally going to get my happily ever after — the flower had finally bloomed.
On Monday, April 21, three weeks after we moved in and almost a month before our wedding... (I had to stop writing because I still have a hard time putting it on paper. OK...) He was a truck driver and decided he wanted to be more local. He quit driving for the company that sent him out till wee hours and took a really decent job that paid well — and let him deliver locally. Unfortunately, they changed owners and he lost that job. Another job with less pay came along. It seemed like it would be cool — he would be hauling logs. After a short time, he started to see the danger of the job and unbeknownst to me, he wanted to quit. One of his fellow drivers turned over his truck but was not seriously hurt. That was a red flag. However, if you have a child you have to take care of because his mom was injured, and a woman you are planning on marrying soon, you can't just quit.
He got up that Monday in April and left for work. It seemed like a normal day and I was sort of awake when he left. I remember him kissing me goodbye. That was the last time he would set foot in this apartment. Whew! It seems like just yesterday. I didn't have to work that day so I was doing who knows what... I know I was still unpacking because we had two households to unpack. Normally, when I wasn't working and he was, we would talk on the phone all day. But by 10 a.m. I had not heard from him. I was trying to think if we were mad at each other. I remember I got a call from him shortly after he left around six or seven. It was one of those butt dial calls because I kept saying "hello, hello" but he said nothing. I didn't give it a thought but as the time went by, I got a weird feeling I could not pinpoint. I tried to stay busy because I wasn't sure what was wrong. I was trying to convince myself there was nothing wrong. I got a call from his brother around 2 p.m. He asked if I had heard from him — my answer was no. He then proceeded to tell me there was an accident. I don't remember how I got to the hospital but I remember they couldn't find him. I just knew he was dead. They finally found him. They had misplaced his ID or something. From then on, the next four years were/are a blur.
The ending of this story is he lived — but he never came home. As I write this, he is still in a rehabilitation center. It has been four years. Those four years have had some ups and downs but through it all, I have persevered. We haven't gotten married because he had to get a guardian and now, he can't go into any contract if he has one. I am still rising. My life has been at a standstill while I took care of his son and did what I could do to keep him encouraged and keep our family together. I still persevere.
This year I have finally decided I would stop holding my breath. I knew I didn't want to go back to the work I was doing before his accident. I also know at 60-years-old, I would have a hard time finding a job. I decided I would do the two things I have wanted to do for years — and out of obligation or fear, I chose not to pursue. I went to school for travel and tourism when my daughter was a toddler. I wanted to be a travel agent. Over the years, I would pick it up and put it down time and time again. My daughter is now in her forties and I have picked it up again. My other dream was to be a writer. I wrote a few poems and would try to write over the years — but never had the courage. I have started a blog this year again. I think turning 60 made me take a look at things and realize that it's now or never. I have persevered through a lot in these six decades, so what's the worst that can happen if I take a chance on myself? After all, I am still rising.