The Reason I Am Alive!

This blog is going to be a little bit different than the tangents I generally find myself on. I’m not going to rant, I’m not going to point out the absurdity of the world. I’m going to bare my soul for the first time in a very long time, in the hopes that what I have to say might hit home with someone. If I can save just one life, or give them a new outlook to find help after they read this, than I will feel that the time spent working on this and cutting myself to the quick as I relive this was worth it.

As most of you know, there is a new series out on Netflix called “13 Reasons Why.” I just finished watching the first season, and I found it really well written. The cinematic artistry of this show was wonderful because it didn’t confuse the subject matter, as it took one character into the mind of another. I won’t go into too much detail here in case there is someone reading this who has yet to see it. I know I hate spoilers, so I am not going to share too much so that others may watch and get the full scope of the story without knowing what comes next. 

As a parent, I am always worried about my kids having issues in school. High school was extremely difficult for my oldest daughter who is now 24 years old. Partly because of bullies, and partly because they had this bizarre dress code called “Standard Student Attire,” which is KIND of like having uniforms but not really. As a result, the teachers spent less time teaching and more time acting like fashion police because they liked changing the dress code without telling the parents, so what was fine one day ended up getting the child sent home the next and visa versa. Granted, the high school my eldest went to wasn’t the greatest, and it was quite literally connected to a charter school for children with behavioral problems. When it got to the breaking point of her not learning anything substantial, I supported her decision to drop out and get her GED (which she did almost immediately).  My 22 year old went to a magnet school, so she didn’t have to face the same issues her older sister had to endure. Luckily, my 12 year old hasn’t had any problems at all so far, and with her being the only remaining child in school, she’s the one I tend to worry about the most. 

Anyway, after watching “13 Reasons,” I sat down with my 12 year old and we talked for a little while about school. I let her know that she can ALWAYS talk to me if she ever has any issues with another student or a group of students, and that whatever she has to say will never fall of deaf ears. I will always do whatever I can for her to make sure her school years go as smoothly as possible, and we made a pact that if a problem does arise, I will take it to the highest possible position I can get a hold of and kick some ass if I need to. She promised me that she will never hold her feelings inside, and will come to myself or her father for help.

Now to my story. I was raised in a household with a Pagan mother and Atheist father, and was essentially surrounded by what some would call magick (For those of you not in the know, the “k” at the end of magick is not a misspelling, but rather a literary way of differentiating between a magician’s tricks, and ritual magic in which the forces of the Universe are harnessed… think of it as a super strong prayer, if you will). Needless to say, having been raised in Southern Utah, it made it very difficult to make and keep friends because the parents of the kids in my school were predominantly Mormon, and would call me everything from ‘Wicked Witch” to “Demon” to “Satanist” and my favorite, “Devil’s Spawn.” I was also raised with the Cedar Band of Paiute, who at that time looked down on the study of the occult. They viewed witches as evil entities that could change form, and they were very superstitious. Luckily for me, most of the Rez kids were rather rebellious and didn’t mind my odd upbringing. Their parents were a different story, although they kept it to themselves.  I was criticized for everything from my height to my choice of music (which was mostly classic rock and heavy metal). I did finally embrace my “dark side” in the end, and used it to my advantage. However, until that time, I was accused of seducing guys and being a slut, even though I was a virgin (I didn’t even get pregnant with my first daughter until after I was married). I would be lying if I said I never considered suicide, because believe me… I did. So much so that I actually sat in my parent’s closet one day with one of my dad’s pistols, broken and in tears. I looked at that gun, studied it, thought the world would be better off without me. Until I came to the realization that if I were to follow through with that, I would destroy my parents and the kids at school would win. I wasn’t about to become the reason that the popular girls put together a memorial at school for me just to show how “caring” they were as they vied for votes for Homecoming Queen. I made my resolve then and there that I would live, and I was NOT going to let them kill me. You might call it my moment of enlightenment.

My home life wasn’t exactly roses either. As much as I loved (and still do) my father, he terrified me! I was the youngest of 4 kids… two half brothers and one half sister. I was the only child of my mother’s. My siblings were raised with their own mothers, so I got the brunt of my dad’s temper. He drank heavily, and although he never told me what happened while he was in the Army, I still suspect to this day that something terrible transpired when he was stationed in France that he drank to escape the memory of. When he was sober, he was an amazing father, and would go out to the yard and play volleyball with me or watch as I exercised the horses. I would go on trips with him when he did his inventory control for the National Parks in the summertime, and we were on the road a lot. When he was drinking though, all I had to do was look at him wrong and I was making excuses for my clumsiness the next day at school. He passed away 11 years ago because of his drinking (the main reason I no longer drink, and haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in almost 15 years now), and I do miss him terribly. As it turns out, I finally began to have a functional relationship with him in my adult years. I moved out of my parents house ON my 18th birthday, and right in with the guy I would end up being married to for the next three years. Oddly enough, I don’t regret that time, even though my first husband almost hospitalized me multiple times, and almost killed me the night that I finally left. It took 3 years to make my escape, because every time he even got the notion I might leave, he would take off with my children, so I learned that I had to be savvy about my departure. It’s easy to say to a battered woman “just leave him,” but the truth is, it’s much easier said than done. Especially when the man is twice your size. I’m a very small woman at 5’1” and 110lbs, and he was 6’1” and almost twice my weight. I can’t begin to tell you how many times he would “detain” me until I became compliant. Yet I don’t regret that time in my life as I look back on it and pain I went through, because from that marriage I had my two oldest daughters. They ultimately became my reason for living. 

Through all of the rocky moments and financial hardships I’ve endured over my 43 years on this planet, I can now look back and know that every bit of it helped me to grow into the person I am today… and I’m stronger for it. With every joke made at my expense as a kid from wearing second hand clothing from the thrift shops (something that becomes very apparent in a small town), every bruise to both my skin and my emotions, every person I have had to bury and say goodbye to over the years, including my beloved Godson who took his own life at the age of 21 with a pistol and took his last unaided breaths in my arms, and every financial sacrifice to make sure my children ate, I became a force to be reckoned with. It took four decades, but I am finally comfortable in my own skin. I know I would have missed out on so many things had I followed through that day in my parent’s closet so long ago. I have three beautiful and talented daughters, a gorgeous granddaughter, a wonderful husband, and a new direction in life. I have also found the most amazing and supportive extended family in the Supernatural fandom!

Much of what I have said in this blog I have never disclosed to anyone, but I know now that I can use it to teach others that no matter what curveballs life throws at you… you can hit it out of the park! Up until 24 years ago when my oldest daughter was born, my life seemed hopeless and pointless. I still have moments of self doubt, but I have learned to go with the flow and trust that whatever I am put through in life, there’s a reason behind it. For every door that closes on you, another one opens. You just have to be brave enough to walk through it and not let the actions of others hold you back, because in the end, it’s your life and no one else’s. After all, tomorrow IS another day, and believe me when I say that it’s truly something to look forward to! Have fun whenever you can, and if someone tries to criticize you for it, tell them to fuck off because more likely than not, they are miserable with their own life… don’t let them make yours equally miserable. We are already here for a short enough period of time, so make the most of the time you DO have, and don’t be afraid to talk to someone when life does get you down. The one thing that I have cultivated from this existence is that I have a much larger support system than I ever thought possible. So always keep fighting, know that you are not alone, and above all remember that it’s true: family don’t end in blood. We are all one big happy dysfunctional fun-loving family, and we all have something in common… that most of us have been through a lot of the same heartbreaking bullshit, and are here to give you a shoulder to cry on and share our wisdom on navigating this rollercoaster called life! 

~Kristi Sustrick

*** NOTE***                                          Credit for AKF artwork goes to        Deviant Art! 

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