Who am I?
Standard procedure in most addiction treatment centers or mental health units is to have the patients use some art medium to create a self-portrait or show how they’re feeling. In the year and a half that the ATCs and MHUs were a revolving door for me, I made no less than six self-portraits and twenty-two drawings and paintings showing how I felt. Some were more extravagant than others. Some more confused. And you can definitely tell where my mind was when I did them.
I only kept one. I’m not sure where it is, now. Probably in a box somewhere, if I didn’t throw it away when we moved this last time. The therapist told us to draw a picture showing who we are. And almost nine years later, what I drew is still ridiculously fresh in my mind.
First, I drew an outline of some random chick’s head. And for some reason, I cut her completely in half. Not with a line or a pair of scissors. Just with the way I drew her.
On one side, she looked mostly normal. Scattered among the facial features were a few flaws: A gun, some pills, a tangled mess of an accident. But she had normal hair the same color as mine, a big blue eye and half a nose.
The therapist asked me what kind of mouth I was going to give her. And I shrugged before drawing half a mouth showing no expression and then a broken heart on the other side. I drew headstones for her other eye with tears and blood falling from them.
I drew snakes coming out the other half of her head. Four living babies and two dead, some boxing gloves, a couple bottles of booze. A couple joints, a pack of cigarettes and… I remember drawing this ginormous red circle with a line through it over something. But I don’t remember what it was.
I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life and couldn’t fit it all on one piece of poster board. So I drew what felt important. Then I sat back and stared at it for a moment. And I wondered if this really was who I am.
I have four kids with an ex-gangster who used to deal drugs. I dealt drugs. I hooked and stole. I tried to keep out of the fights, but they always found me, somehow. Usually women my ex was sleeping with on the down low who couldn’t handle finding out he had children and was living with someone. Somehow it was my fault he was cheating on them even though I was with him first. I’ve been raped, held at gunpoint, held at knifepoint, used as bait and kept as collateral. I’ve been beaten and broken and torn down.
The only thing I had on the other chicks who ran with the crowds I did was that everyone was completely infatuated with my mostly positive outlook on the utter shit we were playing in. So I was protected from criminal prosecution and permanent damage with a fierceness. My name never left the lips of my “superiors”. Very few people knew my real name. Hell, my ex had my street name tattooed on his back. My consolation prize for the way I was treated was that if I turned up dead, or my name came up in an investigation, someone would pay dearly.
Getting along with everyone was very much my ticket to survival. And to be honest, if you asked them now, I’m sure most of them would tell you they don’t know what was so special about me. If they remember me at all. I was there, and then I wasn’t. We told as few people as possible we were leaving. It was the only way to get out.
I don’t regret my past. I never killed anyone or did any serious damage. I turned away any buyers who looked under eighteen. I treated people with respect and minded my own business and avoided getting romantically involved with people who already had SOs. I kept my kids away from the drama and danger. And I did my best to steer kids away from our crowd, lest they end up in the cluster-fuck I was in.
The street knowledge I have because of it makes me capable of diffusing almost any volatile situation and allows me to mingle among the worst of them without being noticed. It gave me hands-on experience with the scum of the earth, who really are, for the most part, just people trying to survive in the world they found themselves in.
And believe me. It’s a much different world than you, or even I, live in today.
But is it who I am?
Not a chance.
Who I am is a thirty year old married woman who loves to read and write. Who loves hiking and Geocaching and camping and swimming. Who sails and canoes and goes fishing. Who plays video and computer games and softball and basketball. Who blogs and plays musical instruments (The trumpet is my favorite.) and dances and sings.
I’m owned and I’m a slave. I’m a masochist with sadistic tendencies.
I love everyone. Not the way I love Master, but the way normal people love their siblings. I do mean everyone. Even people I hate. And I try to find the good in them regardless of how much bad there is. Maybe it’s just leftover Christian values, but it’s part of who I am.
I look for the silver lining in everything once I get over the initial shock of the negative. I shoot for the quickest, easiest route to the solution. And I try to work smarter instead of harder.
I’m full of hope for humanity and dreams for my relationship. My biggest dream is world peace, but, barring that, I’d kill, if it came to that, for there to be no more starving people in the world. Literally. Because I know hunger and I know starvation and I know how it feels to skip a meal, or ten, so your kids can eat.
I like to help people because no one ever helped me back then. And I know what it’s like to feel hopeless and helpless and alone.
I believe in equality for all mankind, regardless of gender, race, creed or sexual persuasion. Unless the person decides, uncoerced, that they don’t want to be equal, like I have. “Live and let live” is my motto.
I want people to be able to get health care regardless of their finances. To feel safe walking down their street at night. To have enough money to clothe and shelter their young without worrying about when the lights are gonna be shut off.
I worry about our planet. Whether or not global warming is real, we are destroying her. If only her aesthetic value. Mother Earth is in pain. And I try to do my best not to make it worse.
I’m scatterbrained, but intelligent. Occasionally rude, but kind. Happy most of the time. A little mentally disturbed. But over all, I think I’m a half-way decent person.
That’s who I am. Rayne in a ginormous nutshell.