We've had a lot of talks over the years and I know I've confessed some things here and there as I've gotten older.
In the spirit of sharing, I have not one, not three, but five major confessions to share with you that I swore to myself I'd never speak of in conversations with you.
Why have I chosen to share now? Because I'm older, wiser, and hoping that when you read them, you'll understand a little more about your wild child and the dangers she put herself in. I kept you at a distance for many years in the hopes of you never getting anywhere near close to the drama and traumas I was facing. No mom wants to hear that her baby girl acted in terrible ways, I know. You recently visited my new home 1,100 miles away from you and voiced your pride in how far I've come. Well, maybe these confessions will help you find more appreciation in what I've overcome to live this wonderful life that I have.
Confession One - A friend almost killed me by accident.
I was at a party, already under the influence of two medications bought off the streets in addition to being drunk. I was careless at parties; I wanted the best buzz and I would have tried anything anyone handed me.
My friend came up to me cheerfully, holding a tiny bag with pills inside, and pulled out two, stating, "Take them!"
I smiled, tilted my head, and took the pills from his palm. "What are they?"
"I don't know, I just know the guy I bought 'em from said they'd mess you up. So I'm sharing with my best friend."
"Aww, how sweet, thanks!" He handed me his beer so I could wash down two more drugs.
Within thirty minutes, I could feel the drug effects kicking in, and I swooned and swayed to the music at the party when suddenly, I felt a need to lay down. I plopped down on the couch and looked up...
That's when the hallucinations started.
The world around me was morphing into fluffy pink clouds, with pink pathways and various cartoons floating in the blue sky. I saw Spongebob Squarepants, Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Brite, many other television cartoon characters, and some other animated-looking butterflies and animals prancing around. It was so pretty, and I smiled, reaching up to try to touch the images...
But then, the world started to get dark, and I wanted to go to sleep.
I closed my eyes and got comfortable. I could feel my heartbeat slowing down, slower than I'd ever felt it before, but I was too tired to care. I just needed sleep. Sleep sounded like the greatest idea. I felt myself slipping farther and farther away from consciousness before an unusual, ethereal-sounding woman's voice commanded gently into my ear,
"Don't go to sleep."
My eyes fluttered open. My ears felt full of water, as every noise I heard was muffled; my eyesight was moving in slow-motion. I saw my fellow party-goers taking shots, shouting, dancing, and not noticing me one bit. My eyes drifted back closed. I still just wanted to sleep.
"Don't go to sleep!"
The voice was much more commanding this time, so I forced myself to open my eyes and sit up.
From there, I stumbled out of the party and down to my car and called my best friend. She answered, and I said, "I think I messed up, I need help. Please come get me."
My friend and her boyfriend came to my rescue; she drove my car for me while her boyfriend drove the car they came in. I explained what happened to me and, in a panic, my friend took me to her dad and stepmother's house. Her stepmother was a nurse.
"When you feel stable enough, follow me to my office, I'm going to do some research." I steadied my wobbly balance and followed, the hands of my friends holding me.
It was there that I confessed that I didn't know what drug I'd taken. I named off the ones I knew I'd ingested, plus the types of alcohol, and described what the pill looked like. Through my description, she narrowed down what I'd been given, and cross-referenced side effects between all the pills I'd had that night. When all was said and done, she turned and sternly informed me, "You should be dead right now. You are incredibly lucky to be alive."
My best friend started crying. I hugged her tightly and thanked her for getting me somewhere safe. She invited a couple of other friends of ours over to be my moral support while I sobered up and came to terms with how close I was to death.
If it weren't for good friends with good parental figures, I wouldn't have made it that night.
Confession Two - I was held hostage by my ex-husband.
One night, while my husband and I were split up but still married, he asked me to come over to his house, luring me in with the idea of a gift. Since things were so rocky and I still had hope that they'd get better, I accepted the offer and drove over there.
He invited me down to the basement where his bedroom was located (and often flooded down there, so not my favorite spot in the house.) He made me walk in front of him and as I landed on the bottom step, he slammed the top door shut and locked it. I looked around and waited for him to present me with whatever he had, and in my moments of being lost in thought, he had grabbed a long, curved, Egyptian-style knife and pointed it directly at my throat.
"Give me your wallet, keys, and shoes. You're not going anywhere."
"What?" I asked, a shaky voice forcing its way out. "You can't do that."
He stepped closer and pressed the blade against my neck, and fear overcame me. I couldn't believe he was actually threatening me like this.
"Shoes off, wallet, keys, NOW."
With a blade to my throat, I wasn't feeling keen to fight back, so I removed all of the commanded items and handed them over. He walked across the basement and stashed them somewhere I couldn't see. Barefoot, cold, and powerless to escape, I asked him, "What do you plan to do, exactly?"
"You're supposed to be with ME!" he shouted, waving the knife in the air. "You're MINE! And you won't learn that, so I'm gonna teach you that you're mine." He stepped closer, menacingly, twirling the knife around in his hand as he continued to move until the blade was up against my throat again. "Why won't you just make this easy, Danielle? Just do what I ask, you just have to do what I want and we can be happy."
"So, me letting you threaten me with a knife is how you convince me that we're meant to be?" I asked quietly, avoiding eye contact while staring at every movement the knife made. "Come on, Jarrad put the knife down. If you love me, you don't have to scare me, right?"
"I'm not falling for that shit. You're going to stay here until I truly believe you love me, and you'll do whatever it takes to prove that, won't you?"
I panicked for a moment, knowing what he was insinuating until my survival instincts and creativity kicked in.
"I can't be here forever. What time is it?"
"Why does that matter?"
"Because I promised my Grandma I'd be by her house around 7:30 to help her sort through some old pictures. If I don't show up or answer a call from the phone you took from me, she's going to blame you immediately. You know she doesn't like you. Just save us the trouble, please? Let me go check in with her, I won't say a thing about this."
I set my expression in a serious one, trying my best to make my lie look sincere, hoping he'd take it to heart and release me. Reluctantly, he returned my items and I put my shoes on at once. I checked my phone to see missed texts from a friend nearby.
"You will come back," he said. It wasn't a request.
"I will come back," I lied. It wasn't a promise.
And with the swiftness of a cheetah, I rushed to my car, tears flowing freely as I dialed the number of the friend who had been trying to text me. He answered and I described what had just happened to me, so he invited me over to have somewhere safe to stay while I planned my next move.
Unfortunately, my husband discovered somehow that I'd ended up with my friend (who was a male). He didn't have a car of his own, but since my safe haven was pretty close by, he had no issues walking to where he knew I was. He brought the knife.
My friend launched at him in an effort to protect me and ended up being stabbed and sliced open. He survived, but he required a LOT of stitches, and I went to City Hall to report everything while my husband was arrested. I had to wash my friend's blood off of my body in the City Hall bathroom.
Maybe I wasn't close to dying that night, but I was close to a lot of terrible things that have haunted me ever since.
Confession Three - My friends almost killed all of us.
My friend had just gotten herself a charming new boyfriend and invited me over to meet him and have a few drinks. I passed on the liquor, as I had driven myself there and didn't want to drive home intoxicated. As the pair continued to liquor themselves up, I saw a lot of warning signs from the new boyfriend. He gave all the wrong vibes and I had a bad feeling my friend would end up hurt because of him.
Once they were nice and drunk, my friend wanted to go on a country cruise to look for a famous old cemetery called "The Witches Circle." None of us knew exactly how to get there, and since I was the sober one, I was handed the keys.
We drove forever but eventually, we found it. They drunkenly stumbled through the graves while I snapped pics and read headstones with my phone flashlight. Eventually, the pair started to have sex in the graveyard, and I ignored them as I continued to explore.
Something must not have ended well, because the two of them started to fight and argue. The male came up to me and took the car keys, insisting he would be driving because "you women don't know s*** like I do."
I was terrified, knowing how much he had been drinking, knowing that he even had a cup of vodka in the car waiting for him to continue getting more intoxicated. He demanded to have me sit in the passenger seat, calling my friend a "damn idiot" and saying he'd rather have a smart girl beside him. As he drove us away, I grabbed my phone and texted a friend to tell him what was happening.
Then I heard the scream from the backseat and looked up to see a cornfield in the middle of the night coming up close and fast.
"STOP! YOU'RE GONNA CRASH THE CAR!"
At the very last minute, the drunk boyfriend slammed the brakes, mere inches away from the edge of the cornfield. We landed partway in the ditch, before the sign that showed one could only turn left or right.
"Okay, no offense, but give me the keys," I said in a shaky voice. The drunk boyfriend leered at me and leaned across the middle console and whispered, "How did that make you feel, baby? Did I scare you? Did you think you were gonna die? Did it make you feel alive?"
Not wanting to humor his sick and twisted mind, I simply retrieved the keys from his palm and said, "I barely felt anything at all. Let's go home."
Internally, I was shaken to the core, glad to be alive, and making strong mental notes to talk to my friend about her choice of men.
Confession Four - I almost got killed because other men were attracted to me.
I was dating a man who I would later end up having a baby with, but there's more on that in the next and final confession.
I liked him but I didn't see much potential for us in the long term, as we were incredibly different, but he was fun and I had a good time with him. For a long period in my life, I was attracted to dangerous men. I suppose you could call it a desire to help men who seemed to be astray. This man showed signs of being possessive and protective, but I tried to believe that the angry parts of it could be calmed down over time.
We were on the phone one night and I was telling him about a conversation I'd had with some men at the mall earlier that day.
"All I was doing was shopping for books," I told my boyfriend. "I can't even do that without dudes hitting on me."
"Did you screw them?"
"What?" I laughed, which seemed to infuriate him.
"I'm coming over."
The call ended.
I went outside and sat in my driveway to await his arrival. I didn't know how this was going to go. It wasn't my fault people had been hitting on me, so I couldn't understand how this was being turned around as me possibly having had a big ol' orgy or something.
His car ripped into the driveway at top speed. My boyfriend jumped out and walked straight up to me. I stood from my chair, but I was so much shorter than him I had to look up into his dark, angry eyes.
"So you just out and about showing off your boobs, showing your ass, making men drool, and you think that's okay with me?"
"I wasn't!" I pleaded. "I was just book shopping! I don't even dress like that, you know that, and nothing happened, babe, I swear."
"Let me see ya phone, let me see the new names and numbers of all of your new boy toys."
"This is ridiculous, I'm not giving you my phone."
He stared at me with so much evil in his eyes that you would have thought the Devil himself was possessing him. With that, he whipped around and went to the trunk of his car, popping it open quickly. Within a few seconds, I heard him loading and cocking a gun.
He walked right back to me with that gun in his hand and started to point it at me.
"You're a fucking liar."
My entire body was shaking but I tried to stand strong. I hadn't done anything wrong and I refused to let myself get shot for it.
"I'm not, please listen to me. You can scroll my phone, okay? I'm sorry I made you so angry. Please just trust me, you know I only want to be with you."
He held the gun up in the air and threatened to let off a warning shot, waving it like it was some kind of sick flag of his power, so I did what was probably not the best idea for that situation: I approached him and placed my hands on his chest, resting my cheek between them, and whispered, "Please put the gun away. You're scaring me. Let's fix this calmly, I want you to be calm and happy. Please?" I widened my big, brown eyes in an expression of pure love, hoping he'd just chill out.
Finally, he put the gun back in the trunk, but when I went to give him a kiss goodbye, he gave me a final warning:
"If you piss me off like that again, I guarantee nothing. And if I feel like you're lying again, I got people who can help find the truth for me. Keep that in mind."
Without a kiss exchanged, he jumped back in his car and left. I stood in that driveway trembling for hours, unsure of what moves I might make that could accidentally get me or another innocent person killed. That was when I decided I needed to break up with him and move on.
Confession Five - I was stalked during my pregnancy so I could be killed when it was over.
Through no will of my own, I became pregnant by the man mentioned in confession four. I broke up with him and found out I was pregnant after the fact. I'd made the decision not to tell him, but he hadn't let go of the fact that I knew too much about his life...
the life that involved his heavy cocaine trafficking operation.
So he called me for what seemed like the millionth time to remind me that he had men following me around with guns. "The beautiful thing," he said, "is that you'll never know who it is or when it will be. Just know your life is almost over."
In a panic, I blurted out, "So you're going to kill me and your unborn child?!"
"Ahhhhh," he said. "Now that's some news. How do I know you're not lying? You always lie."
"You can see my positive test results if you want. I'll text a picture. But this baby is mine and you're not coming near either of us."
"Oh no, I don't want you, no worries. But my boys will still be on your trail. You'll be gone as soon as my baby is born, and then I can raise it without you. I'm sure I can find it a nice lil' new mama and they'll never have to know you even existed."
I shook, cried, and begged him. "You can't kill me. You can't have me killed. I need to be here for my children."
"Maybe you shoulda thought about that. Be safe." He ended the call with a sing-songy tone that shook and disturbed me to the core.
For nine months, I saw tinted windows and men leaning out of them, staring at me everywhere I went. Every morning I went to work, a different car was parked nearby with tinted windows, every single time. I'd walk out of a gas station and see one of the tinted cars hanging out. It seemed like everywhere I went, someone was there to watch me.
I had to come up with a plan, and fast, so my daughter wouldn't know a life without her mother.
As time grew closer to giving birth, I changed my number and all of my e-mail addresses, and social media accounts. I kept my information limited to a select few I thought I could trust. I gave birth to my daughter safely, and while we were in the hospital I received an anonymous call on the hospital phone from someone asking if I'd given birth yet. I shook with pure terror and slammed the phone down, wondering what the hell I was going to do.
Before we were released from the hospital, I summoned my former lover to sign the birth certificate, claiming my daughter as his. We were released, and I soon discovered that someone I had relied on decided to share the pictures with my ex.
It was then that I decided to send a text.
"You're not the baby's father. So please, just let me live to take care of this baby, she doesn't deserve to have no mother."
He questioned me, and I provided proof that his name was not on the birth certificate. I didn't think he'd buy it. By some miracle, he did and he gave up on me. I was no longer in immediate danger. My daughter would never be in danger from him ever again.
And Mom, I did learn a lot from these things...
While I know you never would have wanted me to go through any of that, it changed me for the better. When I moved 1,100 miles away to live with my loving, stable, safe, and secure boyfriend, I worked through these traumas and mental health issues with the support of a wonderful partner to make myself whole again. I learned my worth, my value, and to never place it lower for any reason whatsoever.
I wasn't the wisest. I didn't make the best decisions. I was spontaneous and seeking rushes in all the wrong ways with all the wrong people.
I hope you can still be proud of me. I made it, Mom. I'm exactly who I want to be, and now you know what helped make me that way. And even though it wasn't a lot of good to learn, now you know you have a pretty strong, kick-ass daughter.
Never again will I put my life on the line for any person or any other thing. Never again will I find myself close to death before my time.
With all the love in my heart,
Your daughter, Danielle