“I grew up in Nashville. I lived with my grandmother because my mama had me when she was 17. My granny raised me until my mom finished school and got a job in Chattanooga.
When I was 17, I filed for emancipation from my mother because she was crazy and I had to get away from her. When I was emancipating myself, I lived in a house with people who rescued birds. They also were terrible housekeepers and had roaches. An inch-long roach crawled into my ear while I was sleeping on the couch and I found out the hard way that roaches can live anywhere. They poured everything in my ear and it became swollen and I had to wait three days before the ENT could pull it out. I am terrified of roaches. Even now just talking about it.
Then I was shot on November 15, 1995, at a restaurant in Nashville. I was18 and sitting in a car in the parking lot when the restaurant was robbed. The bullet when through the car window and it slowed it down enough that it went into my head and not out. The bullet is still there and I have a scar behind my ear. I have bits and pieces of memory of that day.
I almost died. I was an organ donor and they were ready to give my liver to someone else. I was an organ donor and they were ready to give my liver to someone else.
I got down to 90 pounds with a feeding tube. I was addicted to morphine in the hospital. I was worse than a kid. I was an angry 18 year old with a shaved head who couldn’t walk and had to wear diapers and couldn’t do anything for myself. I was a hot mess. I went from living by myself to not able to be alone for a second. It was the sheer determination of not letting that be the last chapter of my life that got me through this. My doctor told me that no one who has been shot in the head like me has come back to talk with them. He said, “I guess in two years you will know what you are stuck with.” I will know what I am stuck with? No. I don’t want a life like that. I still have the scar behind my ear but I can do so much more than the doctors expected me to.
It should have made me scared of the world, but it didn’t. Getting shot changed my life more than going from right-handed to left-handed. Maybe it was a good thing. I wasn’t a bad person before, but I was at a pivotal moment when I was 18. It also prepared me for the rest of my life.
My son has Autism and I can’t leave him alone. It is harder than having a toddler. He turned on the iron and put it on my bed face down and melted it. He recently did it again and put it on the ironing board. I can’t let him be outside by himself because he wanders off. It takes so much patience. Why did I have to go through what I went through? Now I know. It is to be a good mother to him and my daughter.
Being a mom is still hard and I needed to save my sanity last year and found yoga. I got strong and lost weight and it has made me calmer but sometimes I can still be a mess. This morning I yelled at my kids and I am beating myself up about it. I don’t want tomorrow to be like today. Yoga is also making my marriage better. The last six weeks my husband started doing yoga. It has opened his mind and we are more appreciative of each other and have more common ground. I want to teach yoga to kids and pass on some of the things I have learned the past year that would have benefitted me my whole life.
I still have to be me and do what I want. I learned if the kids keep taking marbles out of my cup, then my cup will be empty. Last March, when I started yoga, there was one marble left and someone was sticking their hand in trying to pull it out. I had the mental hospital on speed dial. I think we are all like this, just some moms can pull it off better.
The more you take the things you are ashamed of and bring them into the light you make them what you are proud of. You have to change your thinking and your perception. Sometimes it takes a long time to learn from it. I have to eat the shit sandwich I created so I can get to the fudge pie.
I embrace everything I have gone through, even the roach in my ear. It has made me who I am today. I am flawed here and there but all in all, I am a good mom to my kids, a good wife, and a good human. That is what it is about, being a good human. I am a survivor. I don’t know any other option. I don’t know what it is like not to have a bullet scar behind my ear.”