Something Different

 

I love all things artistic and I consider myself an artist not just for the paintings and drawings, but in many ways. I do enjoy wood-burning, wood carving, glass etching, ceramics, and as you have seen, photography and so much more. I have done several pieces with wood in which I either carved or burned the image into a wooden plaque and then added color. The two I am going to share with you today are of my two sons when they were quite a bit younger. I also did one of my father which turned out really good, but I have not been able to find this third piece.

I took pictures of the plaques and the background you see behind them is simply the quilt that is on my bed. I had trouble get an even angle with the right light so that the detail could be seen. I think these two pictures turned out the best of all the ones I took. I have also done roses, shells, and a stained-glass cross/star on wood. I may post some or all of these in the future, but the ones with the boys are truly the best of the bunch.

So, take a look and please tell me what you think?

Jeremiah, age 8

 

Zachariah, age 5

 

 

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Reflection of a Recovering Guest Blogger, #4, Part 3

 

I know I said it would not be until tomorrow morning when I would post this, but I have been waiting anxiously all week for the weekend to arrive just for this reason, so I can’t help it that I am posting it now. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of Cherie on my computer from this time, really, so her pics will have to be included in later postings.

I do have a song, Dying to Live by Edgar Winters, I will post at the end of this post though. I just learned this week that Cherie listened to this song over and over and over again when she first became clean and sober. I asked her if I could share the song as well when I posted this next piece of her story and she said I may. I enjoyed listening to it several times over while she proudly, and with some nostalgia, sang along with the lyrics. And as I am listening to it now, I feel this enormous swelling within, emotions once again rising. I hope you enjoy the song as well!

By all outward appearances I was still a little girl, but legally I was a woman. This newly acquired power coincided with the arrival of “Flower Power” in the city. With baby in tow, I established myself as a leader in the hippie community. That’s not to say I stopped hanging with the “Squares” and my beloved Bourbon Street strippers, but there were too many new things to try, and it could never be said I didn’t do something at least once.

I followed every big name band and was the main groupie at every festival and concert. Hang with me and you were guaranteed one helluva ride. I always had the best drugs in copious amounts and fulfilled the wildest of erotic fantasies to dudes and chicks alike. Fortunately, I was so fucked up at the New Orleans Pop Festival that when I shot up some heroin back stage with the Dead I got deathly ill. I equated the bummer to the horse and as a result never rode the pony again. But, there was no other drug I ever refused. And no amount was ever too much. My stomach was pumped so many times I gagged at the sight of a straw. I bounced off Charity Hospital’s 3rd Floor padded cells so many times in a straight jacket they called me “The Ping Pong Ball”. I was arrested a couple of times and carted off to jail, but by this point if I wasn’t fucking those who could cut me a deal I was their supplier.

I was the absolute best at what I did and what I was doing was destroying myself. Years and years of drinking and drugging were taking their toll. By the time I was 18 years old, I was a diagnosed a chronic alcoholic and addict. I was warned that if I continued using I wouldn’t make it six months. I had lost half the top of my stomach to ulcers and my liver was dangerously swollen following a bout with hepatitis. I had screwed well over a thousand men and the women’s count was a close match. I had three spontaneous miscarriages and one baby was terminated when a guy I was using with threw me down a flight of stairs and kicked the fetus out of me for messing with his girlfriend. I was shot in the arm while roaming the projects trying to cop some downers. (This skinny little white girl should have known better.) I was stabbed by a jealous lover, but was so stoned I didn’t know I was hurt until I woke up in the hospital days later. I buried my beautiful stripper after she killed herself. She had gotten married in an effort to get back her child (She had been incestuously raped by her father at the age of 13 years old), who was being raised by her parents. When the custody battle fell through she grew even more suicidal (I lost count of all of her attempts) and begged me to move in with her and Buddy and help with her duties as a wife, especially in the bedroom. Sadly, I hesitated and by the time I got to her house to tell her I would agree to becoming part of the open marriage, she lay with the gun in her hand and was dead. She was only 19. I was so grief-stricken Buddy insisted I stay with him and I did. We lived together during my period of mourning, but I finally left because I couldn’t take laying on the dried blood soaked and brain splattered sheets a second longer. Buddy loved for me to lay contorted within the confines of her police taped image when we had sex. That even got too weird for me and I was taking everything I could get to cope.

I decided a drastic change was in order and following my true desires and orientation I decided men were definitely expendable and would live my life as a lesbian from then on. Now even more doors opened to me and I walked through them without a care as to what was on the other side.

I still got beatings and suffered a broken jaw, broken ribs, broken shoulder, broken knuckles and more concussions than my joggled brain can remember, but it was well worth the pain. I loved women and they loved me in return. My ladies, young and old, certainly knew how to wine and dine me and lavished me with gifts. Whereas, I enjoyed the good life off and on in years prior, now I was in a totally different bracket. The high maintenance creature I am today can be blamed on the decadent indulgences my beautiful females bestowed on me. I jetted here and there to have a drink and could always be found bumping elbows and other parts of my anatomy at Studio 54 in New York City in its heyday.

Not only could I walk and chew gum, but I could go to college, get a nursing degree (not a physician, but what the hell!), and not miss a night out gallivanting and carrying on from Coast to Coast with my lovelies.

My son was living with my mother and she was trying to get permanent custody of him. (She eventually succeeded in stealing him from me and delighted in holding the papers over my head. But, I later found out I was tricked and it was solely custody of his finances she had and which she and her husband squandered.) If I was out of control before, now I was a whirling dervish. At this point my soul objective was having a good time and living in a constant state of being inebriated and high. I viewed life either in slow motion or at blinding speed. There was no in between. I started hanging with old queens at wrinkle bars attracting young straight guys into their web so they could pounce. I kept my habit well supplied by this little game. I remember Buzzy once saying, “You should be swigging down Aqua Velva the way you drink, but night after night it’s only the best you are knocking back. Chateau Lafitte Rothschild 1961!!! Honey, do you shit gold?”

“No, but you do Darling,” I chuckled, “You want that blond? Get another bottle and I’ll get you the trick.”

The chandelier lay in shambles on the floor. I guess it wasn’t made for swinging. I tried to run through the dining room wall. Funny, it always seems so easy for cartoon characters. The governor’s granddaughter wouldn’t listen to my pleas for help. I took the butcher knife and plunged it into my belly and started pulling it across hari-kari style. Perhaps, she was too drunk to notice. I took it out and plunged it again and guided the blade toward my hip. “Well, don’t think I’m taking you to the hospital, Cunt. You won’t embarrass me. You’re the genius. You’re the nurse. Sew it up yourself,” she commanded and topped off her drink. I grabbed the bottle, found a needle and thread, and did exactly that. I didn’t have a problem, she did and if she stopped drinking everything would be fine.

*I had been bleeding from both ends for some time, but if I knew I was up for a really wild weekend I made sure friends donated blood in advance so there’d be no problem with me getting transfused.* *I was still recuperating from flipping a brand new Camaro five times and nearly killing us both, but the cops only said I was driving recklessly and they saw the half bottle of Southern Comfort in my lap. “Where do you get off telling me I was loaded and have a problem, Mother Fucker!”* *One call and I’m ready to hit the streets and party hard. There’s no one, no how better than me. It doesn’t matter that I pee and shit on myself, I clean up good.*

I raised the German Luger to my temple, lowered it and aimed it at her instead. “Will you help me now? Will you get me help? I can’t take it anymore. I can’t live like this another day.” The apartment was totally demolished and I was equally broken and destroyed.

She shook her head and adamantly said, “No. I will not be embarrassed.”

I put the gun closer to her face for emphasis. “I mean it. I need help. Go and get me help, please. I’m begging you.”

“You’re pathetic. You’re a worthless loser. Fuck you, Bitch.” Instead of getting angry and firing off a shot I pulled her to her feet and threw her out of the apartment. I watched her circling the courtyard at a frantic, haphazard pace. She looked like a rat in a maze. I loved her once. Look at what we had come to. Me holed up about to bring my sorry existence to its inevitable end and Diana…

They rushed me and the gun flew from my grasp. I recall the rifles drawn and pointed in my direction-cocked. I was thrown to the floor and handcuffed roughly. In a weak and childlike wail I blubbered, “Arrest me. Commit me. Shoot me. Just make this all stop. Please. Please. Please.”

One of the SWAT team officers stepped forward. “I want to talk to her. It’ll be ok, guys. Leave us be.” He gently helped me raise to my feet and lead me into the bedroom. I repeated my lament over and over and over. “Who did all of this,” he kindly probed glancing about what was left of the once luxurious apartment.

“I did. I did it all. I’m insane. I’m crazy. She won’t help me.”

“And you threatened to kill her and yourself,” he went on to ask.

“Yes, I did it all. I can’t take this anymore. Just put me out of my fucking misery. Take me to jail or a hospital. Better yet just put a bullet in me. I can’t live like this anymore,” I cried.

“Look at me, Cherie and listen to me. I am here to help you and I will. You aren’t crazy and you aren’t insane. You are sick. You are an alcoholic and drug addict.”

“But, I can’t stop. I’ve tried so many times only to go back and use more.”

“Get on your knees,” he commanded.

What?”

“Get on your knees and ask God, or whoever you pray to, to help you.”

“But I don’t know how to pray,” I argued.

“Cherie, you have survived this long; someone or something is watching over you. Now, pray to that power and beg for help, beg like you’ve never begged before.” I closed my eyes and beseeched the Angels, the Saints and all I knew Holy to come to my assistance. I also called on St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases, to aid me in my distress.

“You won’t hurt her if I let her back in here will you,” he asked.

“No. I would have never. I just wanted her to help me.”

“She can’t help you. Only you can do that and now you know how.” He removed the handcuffs and stood to go. “Cherie, I believe in you. Always remember that. And more importantly, I want you to know and this I promise you, you will never ever drink or drug again.” That was July, 15th, 1977. I never knew his name or could find him at the precinct to personally thank him for saving my life that miraculous day. But, my angel was right—I never did drink or drug again. As long as I live I hope to continue to honor him by remaining clean and sober one day at a time.

To Be Continued…

~by Cherie Leahy Smith

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Just Me, #14

(Remember, when I post Just Me, the picture I choose to post with it is something I like or that tells you something more about me. This is on my wish list!)

Good Evening Friends, Family, Fans, and Followers,

Another week gone by and now half of my precious two days off. I am very happy to be working, but it is exhausting work, truly. Today, I slept in until 8 AM only to wake up and discover that I had started my monthly cycle—the one thing in life that I completely loathe! I am so looking forward to menopause and it could not get here soon enough. Ok, I know, TMI.

Mary and I left around 9 o’clock to go to a moving sale. She got a couple of nice things and I also bought a few dime and quarter items, but it was not at all like I had expected. So, we decided we would go to a few more yard sales. We stopped by the house to unload the car and Cherie and Steven decided to join us. We went to a multi-family garage sale and it was a bit better. Everyone of us walked away with some new little treasure.

My treasure was a St. Anthony charm on a chain. St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost and found. I am not sure if any part of what I just typed should have been capitalized, as I am not Catholic, but all of my roommates have been raised Catholic and at their urging, I have called upon St. Anthony several times when something priceless or irreplaceable has been lost, and I am happy to say, he has not failed me yet. Too many great items and not enough cash rendered our journey a short one. However, just before our last stop, we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and had a very sweet treat, so that made it the best haul of the day!

When we returned home, we let Tallulah run out in the yard without her leash; a first since we got her a week and two days ago. We threw a ball for her for quite some time and were very pleased with the fact that she could be outside, could play in the yard, and could be trusted without a leash. But then a high school boy walked by and she gave chase. Tallulah has been through obedience school and usually comes, sits, and even pees on command, but this time, she failed to come as instructed. The kid was smart and just stomped his foot at her, which she backed away from, but once he started walking again, she would again chase him, barking wildly. I kept giving the command to come, but she would not heed.

My heart was pounding out of my chest. I had no idea what she was capable of. I finally got a hold of her collar and led her back into the house. Will she never be able to run freely in our very large yard and adjacent property? Will she have to go through more aggressive training? I don’t know, but for now, whenever we leave the confines of the house, she must be on a leash.

I also learned today that my Pappy has had a heart attack and is in the hospital. Apparently this happened a couple of days ago and tentatively he was to leave the hospital today and return home, but we haven’t heard the confirmation on that. I cried when I found out. I was taken aback a little at how very upset I was at the thought of possibly losing my Pappy. My aunt, and Pappy’s youngest of two daughters died when she was 25 in a horrible alcohol-related car crash. My Memaw died about a year later. Pappy has since remarried to Frances, a very lovely, kind, and caring woman who takes very good care of my Pappy. Pappy and Frances have been married 15-ish years—I believe. My mother, and Pappy’s only remaining child died three years ago this coming August. Too many deaths and it feels unfair. I do not want to lose my Pappy! Not yet. Tears are again rolling down my face. For now, I will remain most grateful that he has made it through and is going home. I will call him tomorrow and let him hear my voice telling him how much I love him.

I received an email a couple of days ago saying that adjustments had been made to my financial aid. Long story short (meaning I will not go through all I went through to try and find out exactly what that means), not only is there a cap on Pell Grants, but apparently there is also a limit to the amount of loans an undergraduate can take out. What I found out was that I am nearing that limit. What I have been unable to establish is, is this “nearing” before or after this year’s aid? Will I or will I not be able to continue with my classes this fall? If I can go this one more year, I will spend the entire year applying for any and all scholarships so that beyond this year, I will be able to continue until I am finished and have reached my educational goals. On the other hand, if I am not able to go this year, I will still pursue the scholarships, as I will not give up—I will finish one way or the other—but the snag will be that once I stop being enrolled for at least half-time, my grace period begins for the loans I have already accumulated. The bottom line of that is that within six months of the end of last semester, which occurred two months ago, I will have to begin paying back my loans. This also means that I only have four months remaining of my grace period. My estimated monthly payment will be in the neighborhood of about $400-$500. OUCH! Woe is me. Again, I ask you all to please keep your fingers crossed that I will indeed have one more year of aid.

As I have mentioned, I wanted to be able to fly my youngest son, Zachariah, out here for a visit before the end of summer. If I do end up gong to school in the fall, my books, and these are at Amazon’s lowest offered prices, will cost me $450 out-of-pocket. This means I cannot afford to fly Zachariah out. If I do not end up in school in August, I will fly him out right away because once my loan payments begin, it will be quite some time before I can afford to have him for a visit again. I guess I will have to wait until Monday when I can call the financial advisor at the main campus and find out where I stand. Either way, I win some and I lose some.

Whew! That is quite a load of very depressing news, but you know what? I have been through much worse. I have survived, conquered, and overcome so many worse things in my life and I have learned a lot, grown quite nicely, and am developing strength that even, at times, surprises me. I also love my life and love so many things about my life. These things, all of them, too shall pass, and in the end, I will stand a little taller and a lot stronger. So, as Jo Dee Messina would sing, bring on the rain!

I have rambled on long enough. Before writing this post, I posted some more of my drawings that I found among my things. I will now post this and then it will be time for me to go to bed and get some sleep. I am mentally, emotionally, and physically tired and drained. Once I have gotten the rest I need, I will awake in the morning and once I pour my second cup of coffee, I will begin working on the third part of Cherie’s story. If you have not read the first two parts, please do so. If you read nothing else on my blog at all, I beseech you to read Part 1 and Part 2 and return for the remaining parts of her story. It will touch you, outrage you, make you laugh, cry, cheer, and see things in a whole new perspective. If you are not encouraged and inspired by the story’s end, I would very much like to hear from you.

Thank you, all of you, for reading, commenting, liking, and supporting my blog and the blogs of others. Thank you also for writing, creating art, taking fantastic photos and posting a large variety of music. I love sharing with you and really enjoy all that you have to share with me. Have a fabulous weekend!

-Cindy

 

Color Pencil Drawings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These drawings are very old. They have been slid in and out of a paper bag; in to store them and out to show them. As a result, there are some faded spots, but you can see the picture in spite of them. The first of this post, the bird, I gave to my dear friend, Twyla, years ago when I first got clean. She loved it dearly and hung up beside her bed. Unfortunately, just last year, she lost her battle with her addiction and died of an overdose. I have written about her in my post, Reflections of a Recovering Addict, #3, just days before I got the news. I intend to write about her in much more detail in a future Reflections of a Recovering Addict.

One of these seven drawings I have redone in a painting. If you have been following my blog, you may recognize which one it is. Anyone want to venture a guess? The last of these drawings is in the process of being turned into a painting, but I have not had time lately to work on it. Someday, when I do finally finish the painting, I will, of course, post a picture of it here on my blog.

Reflection of a Recovering Guest Blogger, #4, Part 2

I cannot promise a daily entry of this series of posts, but I did have some down time today and really want everyone to read about this remarkable woman’s life and many triumphs. I hope this post will get you a little more hooked as well as better acquainted with my dear Cherie. I realize that they look like long posts, but I promise you, once you start reading, you will finish long before you want to.

So far, Cherie has made it through some really tough circumstances with the aid of drugs and alcohol. Coming up, her sobriety begins, but life doesn’t get better for her for quite some time to come. Be sure to read the next post and see how her strength flourishes through many more tragedies and traumatic experiences, this time, without drugs and alcohol.

Until then, here is the next part to Cherie’s story. Comments are encouraged as I will be sharing them with Cherie along the way. Any and all thoughts are welcomed and wanted, so again, please do comment.

“””My mother was flying high and flitting around the Vieux-Carre herself. She had proven I was indeed raped by those men and was a one woman vigilante against them. They all fled to Mexico with charges of statutory rape looming over their heads. I believe my vindication was just a means to an end though. Her main objective was to party and she was having the time of her life. At around this point, she introduced me to a Senator and his “wife”. Even I was suspicious of the barely legal buxom blond in stilettos on the politician’s arm, but I said nothing. “They will help you get your life together,” my mother promised and left me at the Uptown mansion. To this day, I don’t know what her pay off was.

“What did you do to my wife,” Peter accused. I was groggy, disoriented, and felt totally depleted. I stuttered and stammered. “Well, you are going to have to stay here again and we’ll see what you do tonight. I can’t believe you would do such a thing. But, then you were locked up in that place with all those bitches so, it makes sense.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but whatever it was I was to be tested again later. Meanwhile, the party was fun and lots of people filled the house and danced by the pool. I drank and smoked and it was that night, in fact, I met the aforementioned judge. But, his advances were thwarted, the Senator would not have that. This prize was not to be shared, at least not for the moment.

Peter’s blame now fell on deaf ears. What I thought I’d imagined the day before I now knew to be fact. It wasn’t a dream, it was a nightmare. And I didn’t instigate it, they did. I was drunk and high, but still watched with heightened curiosity their little scenario. They came to me as I lay immobilized but fully conscious. They were both undressed and I, immediately, realized I was also. Judy began to fondle and orally seduce me first and then, after instilling a contraceptive deep within me, Peter mounted my limp body and finished. “No, I did nothing to Judy,” I argued, “But, if you let me stay, I will.” I didn’t realize at the time that was my coming out party, but a party was a party and the ones at the big pink house were amazing.

In my time with my new “family” I was well-indoctrinated into hedonism. I was a very quick study. Because of my youth, extremely good looks and willingness to please I commanded the attentions of A-list celebrities, high-ranking government officials, and my favorite-singers and musicians. No man was ever permitted to touch me except for the Senator, but they were allowed to watch. Judy tired of me quickly which was very disturbing because she was my first lesbian lover and I was totally smitten with her. (I came to learn she lost interest in all women almost as soon as they agreed to follow her upstairs.) It was joked I was a human vibrator because I would so often be called to finish for her paramours when she got bored while making love to them. Yes, my adventures with that couple, in and out of bed, could fill volumes.

Although, I never tired of the endless supply of booze and drugs at my disposal, even I had to admit I was living in total excess. It was a catastrophic ending, but when I was required to recruit other young girls for initiation into our home, I had to take a stand. I did, actually, bring a few exchange students over from my high school and watched as they were being led into the trap with drinks and pot and countless pills. But, before they reached the top of the stairs and fell prey to what fate I knew all too well, I stepped in, grabbed Judy by the hair, pulled her to the diving platform on the balcony and threw her in the pool. I grabbed a bottle of Courvoisier, a bag of dope, the three young Peruvian girls, kissed Peter goodbye, and made my getaway in a waiting limo.

English: French Quarter - New Orleans

English: French Quarter – New Orleans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was alone in the French Quarter, very little money and no more mansion to call home. While munching on a burger, in a dingy hamburger joint, stoned out of my mind and contemplating what to do with my life, an obvious pimp sauntered up to me. Before he could open his mouth I told him, “Beat it, I only like girls.”

“Then have I got a girl for you,” he quipped, grabbed my arm, threw money on the counter and led me down Bourbon Street. She was exquisite and I was mesmerized. It was love at first sight. She, on the other hand, was not quite so taken.

“Get that fucking kid out of here,” she demanded, “You’ll get us both busted.” He disappeared in a flash and she and I were left alone. “Well, you can only stay here until I get off work and then, you are gone.”

“What do you do? Where do you work?”

“I’m a dancer, a stripper. I work downstairs. It hardly matters. I’ll be back and then you are high-tailing it, I shit you not. But, hey kid, have some fun while I’m away.” She threw me a joint. I pulled out my large stash. “Well, maybe you can stay until tomorrow,” she smiled and closed the door behind her.

Little did I know I was being watched and all of my movements were being reported back to my father. Hippies had not yet infiltrated and made their mass presence known in the Quarter, so I was more visible than I could have ever imagined, especially to the spying eyes of the hired detective. I had met an old male acquaintance from my Row days and in retaliation to my stripper’s flagrant cheating decided to give heterosexuality a whirl. It, definitely, wasn’t for me, but the guy was entertaining and I had nothing better to do. It was also a better place for me to hide when I skipped school. I was now enrolled in an exclusive college preparatory academy. At first, the administrators wouldn’t hear of my being included in their prestigious school, but my admission test scores were through the roof and I was granted acceptance without any further protest. Not too many of my fellow alumni were ever invited to join MENSA, as I was in future years, it should be noted.

“I work for your father and you are up shit’s creek, unless you play by my rules,” the clean-cut man flashing a badge told me. “We can get it on or you’ll be in a blue jumpsuit before nightfall.” I really didn’t have much of a choice and so, followed the private dick back to his uptown apartment and let him do whatever he wanted with me. Comparatively speaking, he ended up being a nice guy despite holding all the cards and never letting me forget the deck was stacked against me. I had also found another obscure place to hole up.

Well, my mother sure snapped to attention when the doctor delivered the news. I heard the grotesque bastard’s diagnosis, but was more concerned with dodging his touches and snide comments. “Yes, she’s pregnant and if you plan on getting her an abortion you better get on it and quick,” he advised and jotted a number on a piece of paper and passed it to my mom. He looked down on me and sucked his teeth in disgust and shook his head.

“You think I’m just about nothing don’t you, Doc? Well, I was good enough when you forced me to give you blow jobs. That’s right, mom, the good doctor had me do him and not once, but every time you sent me here to get the B-12 shots. There will be no abortion. No giving up the baby for adoption. It’s mine and I’m keeping the kid.”

Pregnancy didn’t cramp my style or partying one iota. I, probably, drank and drugged all the more since I had another little being to get high. If anything, the hormones made me all the more desirable and I had dozens of guys competing to give the tiny bump a name. I made my choice and the drag queen was the winner. I’d give him the good news when he returned from offshore.

My father lay in the hospital bed, but continued to hold court even in his weakened state. He and my mother had divorced (my mother blaming me for the termination of the 20 year marriage) and he had seen me on only a couple of occasions since my release from OLR. “Make your decision and make it fast. I will provide you with the best education money can buy and all of this crap will be forgotten. You will be somebody. You are the best of the litter. You will be the one people hold in the highest esteem…”

I ventured to interrupt him, “But, daddy I can’t leave my mother. She has no one and if Jerry goes with you to Illinois she’ll be devastated.” I did feel a loyalty to my mom, but was more concerned that he would discover my pregnancy and not only would I lose the baby but my freedom for five years.

“Your mother is a two-bit lying, whoring drunk. I will make you somebody.”

“But, daddy I’m engaged.” “What? Who? You are barely 16!”

“His name is Steven and he works offshore and also on a tug,” I offered.

“My daughter with a low-life tugboat swabbie. Never. Make your decision and think hard because the wrong one will cost you dearly.”

“My mother,” I whispered choking back tears.

“Then, Cherie, I will tell you once again, and I promise you this is final, you are not my daughter. You will never be a Leahy. I disown you. Don’t you or any of your bastards ever show your face to me again. Now, get out of my sight. Get out. Get out.” I heard my father’s voice echoing through the hospital corridors. His last words to me resonated in my brain, in my heart for thirty-three long years. I often wonder, what if I would have said yes?

I married Steven Douglas Smith on October 23rd, 1967 in a rushed ceremony to avoid being committed to a mental facility by my father. As Steven’s bride I was emancipated, considered an adult and my husband, not my father, was now in charge. A large Catholic wedding was held in St. Louis Cathedral in November. Rita Alexander, the infamous Champagne Girl of the Sho Bar was my maid of honor and the founder of New Orleans Jazz Fest stood in for Steven. My father and little brother boycotted the service standing outside of the church in protest. Our reception was in Jackson Square and the vino and grass passed freely among the hippies, bums and tourists alike.

With my mother roaming around downstairs praying the goddamn rosary oblivious to what was happening, I prematurely delivered Steven Douglas Smith II (biological father is anyone’s guess) by myself in my upstairs bedroom on January 30th, 1968. I cut his cord, but it took some doing to get him breathing. Once I got him to take a breath, I crawled to the bathroom and flushed the stash of drugs I had on hand and had planned to sell. I couldn’t take any chances with the authorities coming to zip us to the hospital. It was always better to be safe than sorry. And I was quickly learning to be always one step above the law.

Cherie with Baby Steven

I left Big Steven at the end of March when the baby was about two months old. We lasted about six months altogether. But, my father was correct Steven was not Cherie material. He was sweet, a good provider and very doting, but not what you would call an intellectual challenge. The last straw was when he decided he really enjoyed married life and wanted to go straight. I gave him his one and only lay and left him the following morning.”””

To Be Continued… 

~by Cherie Leahy Smith

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Reflection of a Recovering Guest Blogger, #4, Part 1

This particular reflection will come in a series of about ten separate posts. This was written a few years ago by my roommate and best friend, Cherie, on her blog Goin To The Dogs of New York. Her blog is amazing and also contains many, many stories of her adventures with the dogs she walked in New York. She has gotten away from her blog due to recent health concerns and with her permission, I will re-post her story here. If you enjoy reading her writing, please let me know and I will add her as a writer on my blog.

I have read this several times and the effect on me the first time I read it was quite traumatizing. This story tells of things that have happened to Cherie, a woman I love with all of my heart and soul, so when I read through it, it causes me great pain and distress. Fortunately, she is a remarkably strong woman with more fight in her than any wild animal in any kingdom, anywhere. Posting this today is very fitting as today, Cherie is celebrating 35 years clean and sober. Keep that in mind as you read each and every post.

Now, without further ado, I introduce to you, Cherie.

“By the support and unconditional love of the thousands of people in the 12th Step Programs of Al-Anon, A.A., and N.A., from The Big Easy to The Big Apple, I have not picked up a drink or drug since July 15th, 1977. I am especially indebted to my sponsors, fellow members, and friends who went back out, used and died in the throes of addiction, so I didn’t have to end up the same tragic and needless way. You taught me so well, I would give anything to share my special day with you at my side. Instead, I am only left with my memories and lament about what could have been.

I have been asked to share my story by numerous people and have decided to post it for all to read online. It is the tale of hitting a very, very low bottom and so, not an easy one for me to tell. Recounting the years I was out there living in the problem and not the solution is an exhausting and debilitating task. But, perhaps my experience, strength, and hope will touch another and my journey on recovery’s path will have still more travelers joining me.”

WHAT IT WAS LIKE

(from left to right) Kenneth, Jerry, and Cherie Leahy

“I was born to an upper middle class old New Orleans’ family. I was the first child born to my father (Jeremiah III) and the second to my mother (Gloria). My older brother’s father was married to my mother twice. He was older, abusive and a notorious womanizer. She finally divorced him for a second time when he was accused of the rape of a young woman. He died within that year of complications from alcoholism while in prison. My older brother Kenneth (Ken) was adopted and raised, as his own, by my father. Two years later we were joined by my younger brother Jeremiah IV (Jerry).

One of the most vital and influential people in my life was my maternal grandmother (Delta). She was my stability, my protector, my mentor, my champion.

A birth defect, which affected the vision in my right eye, was diagnosed when I was a few months old. As a result, I was subjected to years of excruciating treatments and exhausting procedures. I wore glasses from the age of six months. I was kept in a cocoon and treated like a fragile little anomaly. My earliest memories were my father’s blatant displeasure and disgust that his little girl wasn’t perfect. And, it goes without saying, I was the brunt of much teasing and taunting by insensitive children.

The big white house on the lakefront held so many secrets. My father travelled a great deal and when he was away we were left to my mother and her inner demons. She was bi-polar with schizophrenic tendencies. I need not mention they went untreated. She exacerbated her condition with bouts of alcoholism. My younger brother and I were the victims of her neglect, abuse, and psychosis, I in particular. Because Kenneth was years older, he was spared much of this insanity.

When my father was home life was not ideal either. Yes, we had a full-time maid, the house was immaculate and three meals of gourmet food were on the table daily. My mother’s illnesses were in check and she appeared to be the personification of a true southern lady, wife and doting stay-at-home mom. But, despite the rare and priceless gifts daddy showered on us from around the world and his wonderful laugh and outlandish humor, he was strict and an unwavering perfectionist. He demanded the best of his children and would berate and scream until you literally shook from the vibrations of his verbal tirades if you fell short of his unattainable expectations. Our intelligence and aptitude were constantly tested and the scores ranked and evaluated by professionals. I was found to excel and thus, began my grooming to become a physician from the time I was in grammar school. Studying Latin with the Carmelite nuns, while other children enjoyed summer vacation, was just one of the sacrifices I was forced to endure in pursuit of my father’s ambitions for me. One needn’t be surprised the only thing I can rattle off now is Pig Latin and only curse words at that.

When my mother wasn’t laying catatonic in her own filth, while Jerry and I went hungry and dirty, she sobbed and bemoaned her life incessantly. I once went to the principal of my school, after I was ridiculed and punished for arriving to class in an “unkempt” and “slovenly” appearance, and asked her to intervene and help my mother who was sick. This nun’s reaction to a little child’s plea was to backhand me across the face drawing blood. I was told to remember the 4th Commandment. A few years later, this same Bride of Christ and another, equally cruel and sadistic, teacher stood me up in front of the entire school assembly and went point by point, in a vicious and demeaning way, why no student should be like me. The vile laughter, stabbing sneers, and sanctioned torture by my peers haunts me to this day.

It was always the worst, though, when my mother’s moods swung the other way out of proportion. We would be taken to bar after bar with her. “They’re restaurants,” she said, “I have to talk to my friends on business.” But, I remember and I remember well. The endless flirting of the tall, beautiful and vivacious woman was how each occasion started. The indignation, snubbing and rejection by her to the advances of the men she had teased for drinks for hours on end was how it progressed. I remember because it was me who had to pay for her salacious actions. How many times was a little girl under the heavy weight of an angry, drunk, retaliatory man my mother had whipped into passion only to turn over to her young daughter? I still see her watching through the rear view mirror at what was happening. I still see her doing nothing to stop the vicious rapes she, in fact, had orchestrated.
Satanic and Ritualistic abuse was prevalent in the wealthy community in which I was raised. In fact, prior to Hurricane Katrina finally obliterating the evil home I grew up in, such practices still occurred there and in other neighboring houses in the area. As a member of “Believe The Children” in later years, I helped expose a well-established coven (day care center) and aided a mother in the safe escape of herself and three children to an underground network.

The inverted cross was branded on the base of my scalp when I was an infant. I was made to witness hideous and horrific acts of cruelty to both animals and humans alike, including the butchering of an infant and murder and draining of the blood of a man. I was sodomized and voraciously used sexually from the time I was six weeks of age by men and women alike in the various rituals of black magic and Satanism. These individuals were friends and acquaintances of my mother and all upstanding and honorable members of New Orleans society. My father knew absolutely nothing of this abomination. (Despite denouncing them and fighting to be released, in one way or another, I was still held within the clutches of these cults until I finally broke free and moved to New York City.)

I was, primarily, alone in the nightmare of my childhood and the only true light in the darkness was my grandmother. For the most part other adult figures had long ago betrayed me and, more often than not, used me for their sick and demented fantasies. Mama Delta was my friend, my companion, my savior. She defended me when she could and comforted me when she couldn’t. At the age of ten, my dear grandmother lost her battle to cancer and I lost my battle with maintaining any semblance of sanity. I remember at her funeral having to be pulled out of her newly dug grave site and pried off of her lowered coffin. My soul had long ago been murdered. I was already dead. Why couldn’t I be with her? Whereas, I probably split prior to this, it is with this trauma Cherie’s survival personalities became more pronounced.

I began drinking and drugging with the urging of an older woman. She lived across the street from my family and I was babysitting her children. I was fourteen and very sheltered and naive. Barbara knew so many fantastic people. She had even met the Beatles, when they played at City Park. And if I listened to her and did what she said, she was going to introduce me, me of all people, to some of them. I was as much as star struck.

The lights in the bar were blinding and the music was deafening. We walked into the French Quarter night spot and all eyes were upon us, especially me. Instantly, a glass of champagne and numerous kinds of pills were in my hands. “They will make you beautiful,” Barbara said, “Everyone will adore you.” I gulped the bubbly and popped the colored capsules without hesitation. She was right and, within what seemed like seconds, I was surrounded with the most gorgeous men and women I had ever seen. They were stroking my face, fluffing and smoothing my hair, twirling me round for appraisal. Not one was rebuffing or ridiculing me, no one demeaned or denigrated how I looked. All were lavishly praising my appearance. All were smiling, laughing, hugging and kissing me. Me-Cherie. Me-The Ugly Duckling. Barbara, my Fairy Godmother, had performed a miracle with her magic potions and pills. I was now a Swan.

It was not a hard choice for me to make between the loathsome days of constant taunting and torture at school with my mean and malevolent mates and the wondrous times of blissful exuberance and unbridled pleasure at the Row with my new friends and devotees. I was there every chance I could get and soon on a constant basis with school falling heavily by the wayside. Needless to say, my drinking and drugging escalated because I believed the only way I could continue to flourish in this new-found land of fun and frolic was to take my magic elixirs and those special pills and tablets, that were given freely to me.

But, soon a price was to be paid and reimbursement fell to moi. I watched Barbara talking with the manager of the band. He handed her money and a small envelope. “They will be recording a new record in a few days. Take a ride with him and just maybe you can play tambourine,” she suggested leading me to his waiting Cadillac. Two women were next to him in the front seat, I climbed in the back. When he pulled over and let them out and three men jumped into the car I knew something was terribly wrong. For the next four days and nights I was raped and beaten repeatedly by this group of individuals non-stop. I didn’t know in actuality what they were doing to me because of my naiveté, but I knew if I didn’t heed their orders never to tell I would be killed and my family’s name would be ruined as they warned. I was found bloodied and dazed on the railroad tracks by some gay guys who knew me from the bar. They cleaned my wounds and returned me to the Row at my insistence. I was ripped from one end to the other, covered with bruises and cuts, but I damn well shook that tambourine.

My mother didn’t comment on my appearance. She stared at me vacantly and withdrew into her depression. But, infection had set in and I was sick from the attack. I was in a perpetual state of intoxication trying futilely to stop the pain wracking my body and mind. The person I was a mere few months prior was unrecognizable at this point. My older brother put in an emergency call to my father in Paris.

“What have you been doing,” he bellowed. His face was contorted with rage. I tried to explain, but what could I say? I really had no concept of the gravity of all I had been involved in as of late. I watched the knuckles on his hands, griping the table, go white. “You’ve been fucking around and hanging with fruits and dykes,” he screamed. I had no idea what he meant. I didn’t know what those words were. He repeated his accusation. I, then, tried to tell my father, in detail, what had happened to me in that car and how my new friends in the French Quarter helped me. I can only imagine that hearing the tale of the debauchery of his only daughter drove my father into madness. He leaped from his chair and came to me and punched me squarely in the face. (He had never lifted a finger to me before in my life.) “I will destroy you so no other man ever wants you again,” he cried, as he pounded me over and over and over again. My mother came out of her stupor for a moment to plead, “Stop. No.” Then, just as quickly, whimpered, fretted and turned a blind eye to the ongoing attack. Finally, Kenneth pulled my father off of my broken body. He was still ranting. “You have defamed our family. You have ruined our reputation. You are not a Leahy. You are not my daughter. Go to your queers. You are not welcome in this house.”
He called his lawyer, who in turn called the authorities. “Tell me who got you into all of this,” my father demanded, “Was it that bitch across the street? Tell me and I might go easier on you and not prefer charges.” I refused to betray her. I still believed despite what she had done to me, that she loved me. And that in loving me she had helped me blossom into who I really was meant to be. No matter what, I was a swan.

I was handcuffed and shackled. I had spent over a month in a youth facility mainly in isolation because I was vulnerable to assaults and had already been jumped and beaten to a pulp a few times. I was going to court and would soon be with my parents and out of the barred cell. I was so scared and would do anything to get home. I had learned a hard lesson and would never do it again. My ears rang when the gavel came down. I was guilty of the runaway charges of U&U (Uncontrollable and Unruly) and sentenced to a year in Our Lady of the River Reformatory. I was led away by deputies to what would be my Hell for the next 10 months.

I was cut down and the rope was removed from around my neck. I couldn’t drink or drug. Suicide was my only option now that crawling into myself and withdrawing from my surroundings wasn’t working. *They held her down and screwed her viciously with the broken bottle. She fought and yelled but it was useless. She died within minutes.* *They took the small gaunt girl out of the closet after over a day of confinement in its darkness. She was unconscious and barely breathing. She had clawed her face and neck and it was a mass of bloody streams. She stopped screaming after a while or maybe I stopped hearing her. She never returned to the dorm. I wonder did she ever return to normal.* *One after another they disappeared over the gate. The shotgun boomed. Was freedom a bullet in the back or drowning in the quicksand in the swamps?* *Black fists, white fists came from every direction. Kneed and kicked until I begged the last contact would mercifully kill me. No staff to defend me, they too would teach me that just because I was a little rich girl I was no better than anyone else.* *And what were those noises I heard at night? The moaning, the panting, the cries? I’m not like that. I’m not. Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me. Please don’t touch me.* *”Good Night and God Bless You,the nun making rounds whispered and sprinkled the holy water on me as I lay in my bed each night. Was that the same God whose name she cried out in ecstasy when she was molesting us?*

“If you mess up in any way, shape, or form you will serve five years with no parole in an even tougher place. You hear me,” the Judge menaced from his bench. I nodded and, literally, bowed walking backwards with my attorney out of the courtroom. I guess a few months later this same Juvenile Magistrate didn’t consider I (a minor of 15) would be “messing up” when he tried to seduce me after plying me with liquor and hash at a well-heeled party I was attending.

I tried, I really tried to fit in at the boarding school, but my stint in Puppy Prison was the talk around the classrooms. I was the tough, wild girl, which was so far from the truth, and all the trouble makers flocked to me. I was so terrified of getting in with the wrong crowd and being re-incarcerated I returned to the only other crowd I knew. Within months of release, I was sneaking back to the French Quarter, where I felt safe.

To Be Continued…

~by Cherie Leahy Smith