Reflection of a Recovering Guest Blogger, #4, Part 7

Although Cherie’s story is phenomenal from beginning to end, this part is, by far, my favorite part! This occurred many, many years ago, but I have also become very good friends with Angie, whom you will soon read about. Long before we met, this part of Cherie’s story created within me a very deep respect for this woman named Angie. As I continue to publish this story, you will see that this one selfless, reaching-out act of kindness and trust became the first step in many life-changing and life saving occurrences in both of these women’s lives. Let the following be the foundation of some truly inspiring experiences that have given me a whole new perspective on life.

The still anonymous young woman looked at me with compassion as I entered the room and sat down. Although she said nothing, I was bolstered by the caring concern in her glance. I told Bob after the meeting to set another place at the table. “That is if it’s still an open invitation for me to join you and the gang today. I could sure use some good company.” He smiled and winked.

Then, in turning to the woman of mystery, who was watching me from a distance, Bob said, “Angie you are expected at my place. No excuses.”

Neither of us spoke for what seemed like an eternity. We sat near each other and toyed with the food on our plates. But, despite the tension you could cut with a knife, something else was passing silently between us. She stood and readied to leave. I felt my heart sink. “I’m going for a ride. You want to come,” I barely heard her mumble.

“Oh yes, please, that would be wonderful,” I quickly replied trying to pull my broken body out of the chair.

“Wait here, I’ll get the truck and then, help you.” She had no idea how this simple extension of her hand in friendship had already helped.

A word here, a phrase there and finally, the deafening quiet was broken. Soon, we were ending each other’s sentences. We listened to music and drove around New Orleans for four, five, six hours. I was attracted to the long-haired hippie chick, but it went beyond that. She had an understated intellect and superficiality was totally alien in her persona. I felt in communion with her and sensed the feeling was mutual. Another couple of hours and many miles passed. Neither one of us wanted this interlude to end, but we knew with the approach of dawn it had to. She drove me back to my car and insisted on following me home to be sure I got there safely. I watched her leave and was overwhelmed with loneliness. I turned and slowly started to walk to my apartment with heavy heart not knowing when or if I’d ever see her again.

Angie and Cherie
(Sorry this picture isn’t bigger, but is the only size I have.)

I heard the sound of the Ford 150’s chugging engine getting louder and louder. A truck door slammed and before I could utter any exclamation of surprise Angie was back at my side, taking my elbow and giving me support. I was enveloped with gratitude and a true sense of hope for the future. If someone this honest and good and wise could take a risk on me, maybe she saw a glimmer of light I had never seen. Maybe I, indeed, wasn’t worthless and deserved saving, as I never quite believed. Angie never left my side or withdrew her loving support and so, began our ten years of life as a couple. And so began the true growth and recovery promised in the Programs.

In this the last installment of my story I will address how my life has dramatically changed in the past 30 years. Angie and I, first and foremost, made a promise to each other to be honest and open in our relationship. We continued to attend meetings jointly and individually at least three times a day, as was my practice for the prior years in the 12 Step groups. Our social life was mainly centered around sober and drug free events and get-togethers, although we also visited both of our families on occasions.

A legal battle manifested in regards to Beverly’s assault on me and I learned firsthand in dealing with this fiasco how vital it is to always place “Principles Before Personalities” and why “Anonymity” is so crucial in most individual’s recovery. I guess it came down to human nature and curiosity that made fellow members start snooping into the case and our private business. Needless to say, sides were taken.

I had decided to stay mum on the subject with my peers and did just that. I also made it a point to go to different meetings than Beverly since I was acquainted with all sorts of groups around town and she only felt comfortable in a select few (gay). Choosing this, rather than possibly invoking a confrontation where it had no place whatsoever, would cost me dearly. In my absence at those regularly attended meetings it was assumed I was running away out of pure cowardice or worse-guilty as accused. Stories began to circulate around the rooms and the French Quarter community. Half truths bloomed quickly into full-blown lies. I was shunned if I happened to see someone I knew or attacked verbally. On more than one occasion I was even threatened with physical violence by those in Beverly’s camp.

I’d go to a new group only to come out to find my tires slashed and vile notes taped to the windshield of my car. Phone calls were endless warning me not to attend this or that group or there would be retaliation. I’d arrive to speak at a meeting and with the snap of fingers the entire room would clear. It was mean, ugly, and almost cost me my sobriety. But, I knew that A.A. and N.A. was not a select group of people but the fellowship as a whole and I would not stop until I found a place I could safely go, share not vent, and be welcome.

Before it was all over lawyers stepped in and those harassing me the most were told that it cost no more to add their names to a law suit. I ended up winning the counter-suit against Beverly, but lost many so-called friends in the process and never ever felt comfortable within the rooms where I initially got sober. I was totally vindicated and Beverly’s ludicrous and blatantly false accusations against me were retracted. But it is very doubtful that to this day any of the individuals who saw fit to go after me have read the truth because I’ve yet to receive apologies.

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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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