If you’ve been reading my memoir, you know my father beat and choked my mom for 15 years until she and my mentally handicapped, diabetic, epileptic, and autistic brother fled to a domestic violence shelter in 1999.
You also know I started dating an alcoholic before I even moved out and that I unwittingly moved in with a porn addict at age 21. At age 23, I fell in love with a player, and then I got involved with a former coworker who had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. November 17, 2001 – a day I will never forget – he stopped taking all nine (nine) meds, including lithium. By 5 p.m., he told me my face was melting, and he could see bone.
December 2, 2002, after being diagnosed with HPV and being told I needed surgery as soon as possible to remove cervical cancer cells, I suffered a nervous breakdown as I left my gynecologist’s office. After a 36-hour stay in a psych ward and two outpatient surgeries, I started taking an antidepressant and became easy prey for a man who date raped me.
Since then, I’ve had breast lumps, a cervical cancer recurrence, a forehead tumor, and leaky gut syndrome, which caused a ridiculous number of food allergies and forced me to give up every food I ever loved.
In 2007, my mom committed suicide, and I buried her two days after my 32nd birthday. My brother died six weeks later, leaving me familyless.
Little did I know that all of this was just practice for the drama a man and his millennial daughters would provide over the next 10 years.
I became a Christian in early 2014 because televangelists kept saying my life would get better.
“God wants you to live life abundantly,” they said. “He wants to give you beauty for ashes.”
They left out the part about God wanting to burn everything to the ground first. Here’s just a sampling of what has happened to me since I said the sinner’s prayer:
- I lost my job my first day of vacation on Kauai (October 2014).
- My cat Titus died unexpectedly and painfully (NYE 2014).
- My 751 credit rating dropped to “poor,” and my credit card balance skyrocketed as I worked a $9/hour job because I couldn’t find anything else when I came home from Kauai and needed to take out cash advances to pay rent.
- I lost my ability to go to my gym (i.e., my happy place).
- I lost my ability to get my roots done for months (thank God Jared Leto and one of the Kardashians made that awful ombre look popular, but it’s difficult to interview for jobs when you feel unattractive).
- I lost my ability to travel (which is the only thing aside from my gym that makes me happy).
- I had to give up having a car when my lease expired.
- I had to walk 2.7 miles to a library and 2.7 miles home — during winter in Cleveland, “one of the worst winter weather cities in America” – to use Wi-Fi to freelance.
- I learned I have a kidney condition that could cause kidney failure or death after the library called an ambulance for me in December 2015.
- Around this same time, I developed osteoarthritis in my hip, which feels like rusty jaws of life clamping down on my entire leg.
- I’ve gone up to five days without food (the Bible says we’re worth more than sparrows and that, like birds, we are not to worry about what we’ll eat because God will supply it, but God’s idea of giving us what we need and our idea of giving us what we need are two different things).
- I had to move from a high-rise condo on the lake to a slumlord-owned condo that’s more of a trailer park/halfway house because the guy beneath me is an alcoholic, country music-blaring redneck who was wearing an ankle bracelet when I moved in and later back to jail for a week; the woman across from me is an alcoholic who pounded on my door to call me “an ugly bitch” when I opened it; the woman next to her is a recovering alcoholic; and a guy on the other side of the building has a 30-page rap sheet. The owner also neglected to clean, paint, or fix anything before I moved in, and I have mushrooms (technically, domicile cup fungus) growing along one bedroom wall.
And as if all of that weren’t bad enough, I went back to school at age 28, double majored in English and communication, graduated summa cum laude, and even though the creative writing program director (who graduated from Princeton) said I was “one of five or six of the most naturally talented writers [he’d] met in 20 years of teaching,” I still can’t find a magazine editing job eight years later.
But NEVER HAVE I EVER considered killing someone because of my troubles. What happened in Cleveland on Easter sickened and saddened me.
For those who haven’t heard or read the news, 37-year-old Steve Stephens pulled up alongside 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr., told someone on the phone, “Found me somebody I’m going to kill. This guy right here, this old dude,” exited his car, and shot the father of 10 in the head for a video he uploaded to Facebook. He blamed the murder on his girlfriend and mother.
I will respect the Godwin family’s wishes by not sharing the video, but I think it needs to be shared. This is a teachable moment. People in this world have ZERO respect for life, much less death. (I won’t get into the fact that people were debating death and dignity on the weekend of the crucifixion, but it merits a mention.)
Since this video has gotten people talking, #sorrynotsorry, the following subjects need to be discussed.
First, people have sought out “Faces of Death”-type websites for years. This is what happens when people become desensitized.
Second, although thousands of people lambasted CNN for posting a story about first-person shooter games last night, they’re a problem, like it or not, play them or not. Some people are mentally incapable of handling certain things. That’s why some employers make applicants undergo rigorous screening.
And that leads me to the shooter: “Stevie Steve,” as he called himself on Facebook. According to heavy.com, he was a children’s behavioral health agency case manager.
Kinda makes you wonder who’s teaching, mentoring, or allegedly counseling your child, doesn’t it?
I don’t care what anyone says, this guy clearly has a mental illness himself. Everyone is born with a conscience. If you pull up alongside an elderly man, instruct him to say your girlfriend’s name, say, “She’s the reason this is about to happen to you,” and shoot him, something is wrong with you – and it isn’t physical. So let’s stop talking about the “stigma” of mental illness, and let’s start talking about the things mentally ill people are doing and how prescribing pills and sending them on their way isn’t helping.
My heart goes out to Mr. Godwin’s family.