March 14, 2011
This week, we have a story written by Kelly Anderson, from Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Kelly has recently been enrolled in literacy classes at the Sioux Hudson Literacy Council. During a conference, she told the story of her very personal journey that she wrote about in the story below.
Shortly after my 30th birthday, I went and visited my older brother Kevin in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When I arrived, we started talking about our mother along with the events and circumstances that changed our lives and the direction our lives took. We both knew we had lost a great deal in our lives and both of us had to change drastically to heal ourselves and move towards a path of healing. It was during this visit that I decided I needed a change in my life, and before I knew it, I was packed and moving to Winnipeg two days later to begin a new life, still not knowing where I was going. Once again, I soon noticed that I began to seek out people who were also alcoholics and drug addicts.
New to the city and not knowing the dangers around me, I found this new life exciting and unfamiliar and was in awe with my surroundings. Since I had no income or a place to stay in Winnipeg, I began to seek employment at a call centre and moved into a rooming house, trying to survive on my last paycheck from Ontario. Soon after my move to the city, my brother and I began to argue over the past and what happened to us. I noticed I still had a lot of anger within me that I never dealt with, but somehow managed to stuff it down so I didn’t feel it or it did not affect my everyday life. Not knowing, I was headed towards my own disaster.
Within a few months and without any warning, I found myself in a situation with life changing circumstances. Because of my proximity and involvement in the alcohol and drug world in a new and strange environment, on my way home one evening, I was brutally assaulted by six gang members well known in the city. I woke up in the hospital, with no recollection how I got there and unable to see. I later found out I had four surgeries to my left eye which was eventually enucleated and had to be fitted with a prosthetic eye. I spent about a month in two different hospitals throughout this ordeal. With no one ever knowing where I was or what had happened to me.
Going through the ordeal was really surreal for me. It was like it didn’t really happen. The thoughts and images racing through my mind were scary, frightening, and at times explosive to me. All I thought about was the fear of getting assaulted again by those people, would they recognize me, do they know where I live, were they going to kill me. I thought about my kids, family and friends and began worrying about their safety and lives.
Especially when I came out of a week drug-induced coma and was unaware of my left eye gone, due to the bandages wrapped around my head, and not getting told what had happened to me, until two weeks later. It was here I felt truly alone and for the first time in my life genuinely afraid of my future and well-being.
Never knowing why it happened or why it had occurred to me. I was left wondering with the questions, “Why me?”, and “What did I do to deserve this?” Blaming everyone around me, thinking it was their fault and they were to blame for my misfortunes. During my hospitalization for this short time I became a person unknown to myself to the point of isolating myself from the world and my family and friends. Early on I spent time alone crying, eventually becoming suicidal from being depressed. When I was not doing this, I was constantly sleeping all day and refused to do my daily living activities.
Being diagnosed with PSTD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression, and insomnia from my hospitalization, I could not leave my house unless I had two or three people with me, my neighbors would mostly do my grocery shopping, and when I did leave my house it was only to go to my counselling sessions or doctor’s appointments. It was through this experience, I was forced to take a good look at myself. I soon found myself trying desperately to regain control of my life.
(This story was taken with permission, from The Spider’s Web, December 2009, published by the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition (ONLC).)