Happiness is a process. A fucked up, tangled, mixed up process. There isn’t a straight line to it either. And when you have it, it’s as easy to lose as it was to find. Not only is it all those things, but it’s also a choice. I’ve had to make a choice to be happy. To be grateful for what I have. To enjoy the smallest of moments because they are fleeting. I used to hate waking up at five a.m. when my son would usually climb in bed with me. As most people know I’ve suffered from severe insomnia since I was a child. What most people don’t know is the why. It’s not a story I’ve told more than a handful of people. And here I am again spilling things to the world. I must be a little out of my mind. But if my journey out of depression helps even one person it will be worth it to me.
Not only did I grow up in a cult and I don’t use the word lightly. It took me a lot of years to come to terms and actually admit what my childhood was, and it was far from anything considered normal. I was sheltered and only allowed controlled input. We didn’t have cable. My parents didn’t play the radio. Things from the outside world were all censored, but things start to seep in. Even being homeschool we saw other people at the store or at the library, and then my parents started to let me play sports. This was an introduction to normal kids, and normal things kids are into. By anyone else’s measure, I was a good kid, suffering from too much anxiety to really do anything terrible, always agonizing over the consequences. My little sister, on the other hand, decided she was going to do basically everything we’d been told our entire lives not to do, from drugs and alcohol to sex, to sneaking out. She started sneaking out after our 8 pm curfew, and then I decided well if she was getting away with it I was going to give it a try. She taught me how to get out and get back in without setting off the numerous alarms my parents had set up. Little did we know our parents recorded all of our phone calls. Now let me explain to you how fucked up this was in 2002 if you don’t know. We only had landlines. My father had a server set up, and the most absurd equipment at the time to route all the calls through a recording device. I discovered this was going on when my father brought up something to me in the exact wording I’d said not a few hours before. And I started to get suspicious. Was what I thought he was doing even possible? I wasn’t sure the tech even existed at the time. Then as days and weeks passed he started to bring up more things I’d said. So my friends and I started to use a code. My parents grounded me out of nowhere when I had made plans to go stay at a friends house. They somehow knew I’d been seeing guys on the sly. They started asking me who Mike was. My mind was spinning. We didn’t know anyone named Mike where did Mike come from and then it all clicked. Mike’s was our code for Mike’s hard lemonade. My friend would say she was running to Mike’s in other words she was running to get drinks for the night.
While all of this was going on, clearly my parents figured out my little sister was sneaking out and busted her twice gone in the middle of the night. This was before we had cell phones so she was just missing most of the night. I was better at hiding it than she was and also left for work or practice at 4.30 in the morning. So I was already sleeping little to none. I’d cat nap during the day to make up for my sneaking out all night and then going to work and practice in the morning before school. So I decided to run a test. I vocally made plans to get picked up one night and then later canceled them in person and I went to bed. My parents, of course, came into my room in the middle of the night and were quite confused and pissed when they found me in bed.
I knew something was going on, so decided to break into my dad’s ‘storage room’ in the basement. They had a keypad, and I have a talent for figuring out what people use for passwords. So I figured the code out and inside I found all of the recording devices and hours and hours of taped phone calls. Among enough guns to start a small war, and another end of the world type preparation type stuff. So my parents and I found ourselves at a standoff. I refused to talk on the phone anymore. They had to know I’d figured it out. So my parents started using tactics they use on war prisoners. My father was a very smart man on the brink of the computer boom my whole life. He first wrote programs for large computer companies and then started a small personal computer company of his own. He read constantly and found techniques they used on war prisoners to get them to tell the truth. Most people aren’t good at lying when they are woken out of a dead sleep, or so the theory was. I’m not sure if it’s been disproven now as a lot of things done to prisoners to coerce confessions has been. So my parents starting waking me up at all hours of the night to interrogate me about what they believed I was doing (drugs and sleeping around.) So, shaken by their behavior I stopped sleeping. I’d suffered from night terrors most of my life, so sleep and I already had a rocky relationship and now I was getting shaken awake and had people yelling in my face trying to get me to confess to things I wasn’t doing. My longest stretch of not sleeping was seven days during which time and I started to hallucinate at work because of it.
My mother did this to my brother as well through high school and he has the same relationship with sleep, only when he does finally crash he sleeps through all alarms and anyone trying to wake him up because his body has learned to just shut itself off when it needs sleep. Mine has never fully recovered, and there are times I sleep too much and other times I don’t sleep much for weeks or months at a time. I promise this is all linked as I circle back to my son waking me up at 5 a.m. I hate being woken up. Even if it’s only for a few moments. It tends to send me into a blind rage at first until I can get it under control.
One day I was laying there with my son wrapped around me. He’s big on star fishing me or my partner when he climbs into bed with us. Children are lovely, aren’t they? I have a hard time falling back asleep when woken as well, I’m sure because when I’m woken my body goes instantly into the fight or flight mode. So I laid awake and I realized how many mornings I’d wasted. Sure, I can’t control the initial spike of anger of being woken up. We can’t control feelings, but we can control our reactions to them, and how we let them affect us. And I realized that morning how lucky I was my eight years old still wanted to climb in bed and cuddle. How lucky I am to have such great relationships with both my kids. I was used to not sleeping. What was a little less sleep? I was getting these moments I would never get back. I was wasting them in anger and frustration. And now when he climbs in bed with me I pull him closer and I’m thankful. I’m thankful I made it to this point. I’m thankful I survived my upbringing because my little sister didn’t and I nearly didn’t.
Depression is a constant battle. It is for a lot of people and I will never downplay that. Part of my battle is choosing to enjoy and love all the things I’ve been handed because they’ve made me, and I want to keep choosing happiness.
Speak No Evil is Out!
5 STAR Reviews!
Action, Mystery, Voodoo stuff…what more could you want? I loved being on edge with the twists
and running from hit men. Lots of intense moments and crazy curses from a voodoo practitioner. Talk about an angry ex! This story was quite the page turner and I was not disappointed.
This book was phenomenal. It has everything: older man, younger man, HOT scenes between the two, action, intrigue, bad guys masquerading as good guys, humor, voodoo curses and a mysterious ex-wife!
This is my first book by JR Gray and holy shit balls, this is incredible and going into my list of top reads of the year. I have a thing for hitman, so there’s that, but Weston and Eli really stood out to me.
Murder and Curses and Voodoo, Oh My!
Add Drama and Mystery and Romance, I sigh.
From the day I first caught wind of this book, I was on edge. I had read JR Gray’s books and they have all kept my interest. But this story, infused with drama, mystery and curses, hinting at all things southern, read like a John Grisham murder mystery, set in a Hollywood movie, dosed with a seasoning of the paranormal. Any southerner, or person blessed with being raised with African culture has had first hand knowledge of the depth that voodooism plays in the culture. And this book was liberally dosed with it. With a hit man cursed to tell the truth, a coast guard military man who found himself caught up in his world unbeknownst and more fire power than a Fast and the Furious movie; the author aimed to captured his reader’s attention and hold it until the end.