So what's so significant about being 9 years old? Rudolph Steiner, a post-war German philosopher, who's most known for his theory of Anthroposophy, biodynamic agriculture and the Waldorf pedagogy of education suggests that a change occurs in every child at nine years old. He says this is when the "self" develops, when children begin to distinguish themselves as separate from their surroundings, as an individual. You know, the lights go on… It is also said that profound events often happen at this time in our lives… well, in mine it did…for sure.
I was nine years old in 1986 being raised by my grandmother on the outskirts of New Orleans at the beginning of that year while my single mom worked like a dog holding down two and three jobs in the service industry in the French Quarter.
My birthday is in spring a couple of weeks before Easter, the day my world changed forever. On Easter my Mom informed me that my whole family had been lying to me about my Dad for my whole life. He wasn't working on an oil rig off-shore in the Gulf of Mexico. He was in prison (again) and worst yet… he was a junkie. She said she had to tell me, I was getting too old and after a short stint of freedom the past winter he had just been convicted for another 5 years. Whoa. What a load that was.
A month or so later my mom came to me again and explained that she had been seeing this guy for a while, she didn't want to involve me until it became serious and so now… it was serious. She continued by saying that they were moving in together and getting married. My jaw dropped. Then she told me that I was coming to live with them. What? I had never even met this man. Was she serious? Yes. She was.
She ripped me (against my will) out of my grandmother's home where I had been raised since birth with my mom's presence fluxing in and out like the tide. She was taking me away from my room, my school, my backyard, my friends, and my real mother… She was taking me away from my grandmother, the woman who was always there for me no matter what, even when I was on her proverbial "sh*tlist," as she called it.
My mother was marrying a stranger and moving me in with him. I had never lived with a man. Well, besides my dad for a couple of weeks at a time here and there over the years… but he doesn't really count, at least not anymore.
So it happens. She marries him. She moves me in with them. And they start playing house. Except he wasn't up for the game. He liked to drink. A lot. So that is what he did.
Another couple months pass and she decides she needs to go back to school. She needs a change. All I could think was "Sweet baby Jeebus hasn't enough changed already?"
So she does. She goes back to school. Night school. And leaves me at home with a stranger every Monday through Thursday night from 5 to 9PM for the next year.
In the mean time, I became the Kung Fu Panda… nooooo… I never learned Kung Fu, but I did learn to eat when I was upset and I hid it. I was nine years old and gained 50 pounds in less than 6 months. My mother did nothing. No red flags then; still no red flags and I am still trying to get rid of that 50 pounds 25 years later.