Age 12: Thank God I had a saved God-parent, who is Holy-ghost filled. She would take me to church on Sundays with her, my first experience seeing people jump and shout and speak in tongues. She would pray for us (me, my brother, and my sister) on a regular basis, walking around her house, speaking in tongues, slapping our foreheads with blessed oil. We would laugh at each other about who had more oil running down their face.
Age 14: Raped by a 30-something couple who befriended our family. I became their babysitter, but, one night, they didn’t want me to babysit, just come over and stay the night. My life changed; how I viewed myself changed. Life moved on, but somewhere I stood still, stuck in that night for a long, long time.
Age 15: Drinking heavy alcohol, to the point of passing out, “sex for love,” smoking marijuana and cigarettes regularly. My mom picked up and left the house and left me there with my step-father and my step-brother and step-sister. To this day my sis and my bro and I are so close.
Age 16: Snorting cocaine, drinking. I quit school and moved in with a violent boyfriend, who wasn’t that way when I met him. He would lock me in the bedroom at night while he ran the streets. If I had to use the bathroom, I went in a cup and poured it out a second story window. He would beat his mother and then come in the room and beat me.
Age 17: My mom came back around and found out I was basically running the streets and decided to have me sent to foster care for a year. I was still doing drugs, and it was hard, living with people who I didn’t know at first. A week before my 18th birthday, my foster mother said, “There’s the door, you can go if you want.” I left; I ended up homeless and sleeping in the back seat of an abandoned car for 3 months, drinking more and using anything else I could to stay numb.
Age 18: Got a job dancing in a strip club, still drinking, snorting cocaine, smoking crack, and shooting cocaine. I think I had a death wish and just didn’t care if I lived or died some days. I made enough money to rent a place of my own and get out of the backseat of that abandoned car. I still had a drug habit, but I learned a new way of surviving, manipulation with a smile, and sex for sale to the highest bidder, and a lot of free cocaine.
Age 19: I had a job, a place of my own, and money to do what I wanted with. I was the new face in the club, so I made money, and I befriended a girl named Natasha who was a veteran in the club. Natasha road my coat tail and showed me how to hustle, all the while putting new money in her old pockets. I became pregnant at 19 and had a son. Life escalated to a downward spiral, and becoming pregnant was a life change I desperately needed. I moved in with my grandma when I was over three months pregnant because I wanted to keep my baby.
Age 20, 21, 22: I still danced in the clubs, lived with my grandma, and got real high at work, and would attempt to come home and try to be a semi-normal parent in the day time. It became the only way I knew to support myself. I became pregnant again, had another baby, a boy. My grandma died, so I moved out of my grandma’s and into a place with my kid’s father.
Age 23: Had another baby, another boy, I had three sons by this time. I left the clubs and decided to get married, plus I started to go back to church. Life was full with kids and trying to start a new kind of life.
Age 24-31: I had three daughters as well, six kids total, a verbally abusive marriage and multiple marriage counselors, Christian and non-Christian. Physical abuse, black eyes, bite marks, head-slammed-in-walls, while still attending church, trying to believe that if I just be the wife I’m supposed to be, God will change him. That never happened. At 31, I left the marriage with my children and moved to a new city.
Age 32: I went back to the one thing I knew that could make me money, and I went in the clubs, this time as a veteran. I knew where that life could take you, in those places, if you let it, and I wasn’t going to stay long. Life was not going to be a party, I just wanted to provide as a parent and love my babies. I met someone, and I thought I loved him.
Age 35: My ex-husband moved to the same city. I had a boyfriend who was a lot younger than me and selling drugs. I also had outside clients from the club, money men, sugar daddies, and my boyfriend at the time didn’t mind. He understood the hustle game. He was playing a game and so was I, and we were open about it. Money was not a problem for awhile, and then I lost custody of four of my children, started using cocaine again, and the downward spiral had begun.
Age 37: The boyfriend started using his own drugs and, soon after, left me. Here I was, all alone with two kids, one in high school and one in kindergarten. My other children I would see on the weekends. I left the cocaine alone at age 36 and became a huge pot head. I left the alcohol alone too, still dancing, surviving the best I could.
Age 39: I found Harmony Dust’s book in a Christian bookstore. At the time, I wanted to go to church, but I felt that the church world wouldn’t know what to do with a girl like me. So every now and then I’d go to the bookstore and find me a word. I knew when I walked in God was talking, and I just let Him guide my browsing that day. The title caught me like a hooked fish. I was dealing with my own scars, and I knew that night I had to work and I was about to go put on some stilettos in a few hours. Reading the book, my transformation started.
Age 40: I finally found a church home, where I felt accepted as I was, and in Jan 2011, I was ready to make a leap of Faith, and leave the clubs, and never look back. I first saw this phrase in Scars and Stilettos: Learned compliance.
Learned compliance is defeat, it caused me to retreat, step back, and surrender. My boldness and growth ended, time moved on, but I stood still. Stuck in that moment, life never filled. My life was constantly leaking out, in my mind I silently cried out. It changed who I was, the fragments of my life swept under the rug. Learned compliance, I remained defiant, in my face, I’m trying it just to stay numb. Spent a life on the run, thought I was having fun; the downward spiral had begun. Staying numb, so my heart didn’t bleed, didn’t know I was giving up the deed. The deed to life, I forgot how to fight, I learned to comply with whatever was in my face; I had quit the race. My true identity was being erased. My false identity was forming; learned compliance came with no warning. All behavior comes out of a belief. I believed I was nothing, I wore a mask of fronting, thinking I was something. My enslaved mentality, false identity, continued to lie to me. I learned to comply with what the world wanted out of me, I let my experience define me. Walking every day in a learned identity, a false reality, not knowing the real me.
Learned compliance, don’t buy into it and forfeit your real destiny.