Telling Hands: Side Two

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Chapter One

I Love You But

     When you realize that it’s not you, it’s them… sometimes, like in my case, you are lying on a concrete bed in a jail cell listening to a Jason Isbell song some guard was playing. Even more illustrative is that the Isbell song was “Something More Than Free.” You’re cold and hungry and thirsty and dirty and humiliated. You’ve just been told to bend over and cough. June 29, 2016 to be exact, ten days after the act of violence was committed against me.

And, I thought I was pregnant from the forced sexual encounter with my so-called husband of fifteen years. He’s the one who had me put in jail.

As it turns out the last few years weren’t at all what I expected. After surviving the tornado, and near fatal car wreck, and finding my passion for all things creative, I thought I had it all figured out. Man, was I wrong.

Living my life was never easy. Understanding my life was always hard.

Then, I realized that I had been surrounded by people who didn’t know how to love. They didn’t even know what love was. At all.

The trials I had faced all my life of not feeling like I fit in, of not understanding my place were in part, because of them. They didn’t love me. They didn’t welcome me. They tolerated me. And were full of “I love you, buts.”

Just fyi, if anyone ever tells you “I love you, but” get away from them. Close the door and never open it. I wish someone had told me that. I wish someone was around that didn’t ‘love me but’ to tell me that.

So, when the deputy came to handcuff me, I sobbed. I was there seeking their help and protection and instead, got thrown in the slammer. They took my legally stowed pistol, the very one that saved me a week earlier. They confiscated a handful of the knives I had been working on, 1,200 dollars, and a hatchet. I was fingerprinted just like I had been when I took my drug addicted cousin’s baby in foster care to give him a loving home.

The men in the cells peered out like animals at me and made noises. One was threatening to kill himself and the several were speaking directly to me. I didn’t flinch.

I was put into a cell by myself. It was cold and dirty. I laid on that concrete bed. I thought about the false imprisonments of our time. I went to sleep. Adam had come at me while I was sleeping days before and hadn’t slept much since. But in jail, I was pissed off, and sad, but I knew I was safe from him so I slept like a baby. I had used my one phone call to call my daddy Wayne. I had been staying with along with my three boys for the past few days. A, B, and C were with him.

The events of the last few weeks ran through my mind. Arms wrapped around me felt like lies my whole life.

Everything was off, just a little, just enough to never feel safe, to never feel loved.

All my life I had been told: “I love you but…”

What came after the ‘but’ was never a surprise. Either, “I’m busy,” “I’m tired,” “I’m drunk,” or “you’re not good enough,” ‘you’re not strong enough,” “you’re not smart enough,” “you’re not here enough,” “you’re not something enough.”

I lived through a forced sexual encounter on Father’s Day of all days, June 19, 2016, from the unprotected man whom I’d shared much of my life with, my then husband Adam. When it was over, he got up and left. Said nothing, did nothing. He just left.

I gathered myself and went to sit on the back steps of my little house. Shock was starting to take over.

Our marriage was based on lies and only held together by our shared children. I wasn’t raised to take that shit. Over the years, he’d turned up the heat slowly. He chipped away at my freedoms, at my soul. He used his religion as a weapon.

I gathered my children and got the hell out of the house. I suspected that wouldn’t be the last time he’d bruise me and that wouldn’t be where he’d stop. I left the scene of the abuse, seeking refuge at my father’s house two days later on June 21. I stayed up all night holding my pistol waiting for him to come to the door and try to finish me off. He had a tarp laid out in the yard the morning we left, straps in the back floor-board of my truck, and wheels in the bed of the truck that I’d never seen before. What could he have been doing?

I’d just lived through a rape with my children only feet away and I sure didn’t want my final fate to be drowning in the Tennessee.

He didn’t show at my dad’s house. I call it a house, it’s a concrete fortress and I bet that was why he never showed. My dad lives in an apartment he’d built onto the shop that was blown away by a tornado when I was a little girl.

I tucked the boys into bed, and stayed up all night. My daddy Jimmy Wayne may be a few things, but pussy, he ain’t. I reckon I’m named after him. Jamie. We are a lot a like. I knew daddy would protect his little girl if it came down to it. He stayed up to.

The next day, June 22,  I went to open the store I own, The Grove Oak Store. Adam should’ve been at work in Huntsville by that time in the morning. Shit though, he showed up at my little store. I was by myself. He was driving my mama’s car and sped into the front parking lot. He slammed on the brakes of the Impala stopping adjacent to the corner of the store. I heard the door shut and looked out. He looked very mad, flustered even. Adam always carried his 1911 pistol in the back of his pants and he was stomping right at me. He entered the door.

I pointed my little pistol at him immediately ignoring whatever he said. I had it ready for him. I clearly stated, “This is my land. I never want to see your face again.” I could see the fear in his eyes and rightfully so.

Adam put his hands up and slowly backed out. I followed him to my mama’s car he’d been driving for weeks. He left.

I wasn’t harmed that day but I came within a quarter of an inch of killing a man. I would have done it, too. Have you ever wondered if when it came down to it, you could kill a man? If you had to protect yourself, could you? Well, I know I can and I will. I couldn’t in good conscience shoot him when he put his hands up and backed out but if he would have come after me, I know I would have emptied that chamber.

Officer Allen from Geraldine PD showed up a few minutes later as I was going to the courthouse to file a Family Protection Order. I had been advised by neighbors that was the thing to do to keep us all safe. Officer Allen agreed and let me go.

I went to Pam Simpson’s office in Fort Payne. My hands talk through the form and spill their proverbial guts. Writing it out, so clear, so obvious, I’d been married to the devil for fifteen years. Sometime in our marriage, Adam started researching different religions online, and had given way to the tin-foil hat crowd. I wrote on the PFA all about how he wouldn’t “let” his family celebrate Christmas or Easter. I explained how he doesn’t have the love of Jesus in him. He tried to force the tradition of fasting on the boys. I interceded. In the first book about my life “Telling Hands” I told of how he is the exact opposite of me in every way. All the good I try to be and do and live, he tried to stamp out, destroy, and forbid.

That’s a tough pill to swallow.

“Go back home”  the clerk’s office told me. “Go back home and wait.”

It takes weeks to get a Family Protection Order approved. I couldn’t file a restraining order because we were married. None of that made any sense. Go back home and just wait for him to show up again? How is that protection for my family? Like hell I was, I went home to my daddy’s.

At the time, I was having trouble sleeping. Adam had cleaned out the checking and savings accounts. I still had my store account and some store money but it wasn’t much. Business had slowed down immensely since the closure of the local State Park. Staying alive was the top priority, feeding my kids was the top priority.

Try feeding three boys on nothing. Try having to return to the place where you’d just lived through the most traumatic events of your life and live.

Add on top of that my ex had been carrying a clip board around visiting all my family. One by one, pleading with them all to have me involuntarily committed for my own safety. And one by one, they all turned their back on me: the mother of three boys, the creative, loving, humanitarian. All because they “love me, but…”

At this point, days had passed. I slept off and on. My boys and I were staying at my father’s house. Paw Paw Wayne made sure we ate. He made me milkshakes because we both thought I was eating for two. I was trying to heal. Adam called me constantly, so I had to put my phone away. There was barely any service in Wayne’s fortress anyway.

I was trying to live, constantly watching over my shoulder, hand on my gun. I was trying to continue in my daily tasks and it was extremely hard.

My friend Michael Burns in New Orleans suggested months earlier that I attend a John Prine and Amanda Shires Isbell  concert and write about it. I had set up an interview with John Prine’s guitarist at the Travoli theatre in Chattanooga, TN on Friday June 24. I had been involved in the music business some for the past few years. I had a popular radio show, held concerts at my store, and did some music journalism.

Wayne agreed that it might be good for me. So I did go to Chattanooga for the day. I drove around Ruby Falls, and saw an old Cherokee cabin. Got lost a little on the way to the Travoli theatre, but I still arrived too early. The heat was making me tired and I wondered if I should have left my boys. I walked right past the ticket counter and through the doors.

John Prine, his guitarist, and Amanda Shires were on stage warming up. I’m sure I looked ragged and horrible. I didn’t care. Amanda Shires Isbell was very nice to me. She knew I’d just let myself in.

Amanda laughed and said “Sometimes its better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” and starting warming up her fiddle. She also asked me not to take any pictures cause I guess I wasn’t really supposed to be in there.

I told her my name and that I was supposed to interview John Prine’s guitarist. She looked around for Jason Wilber who then denied having an appointment with me.

That’s great, I thought, and just stayed. Wilber’s agent had sent me a copy of latest album and asked me to play it on the my radio show. I liked getting some face time with artists and recording some chit-chat to go along with it. I didn’t get that, what I did get though was a front row, private show from John Prine and Amanda Shires Isbell. And that’s hard to beat.

Shires was playing songs off her just released album, “My Piece of Land.” I smiled and listened. I had just two days earlier told my abusive husband at gun point that he was standing on “my land,” and it was beautiful. I smiled and felt better about life in general. I wished I had a hotel room close by where I could go take a nice bubble bath but I hadn’t slept in days and honestly my beauty routine wasn’t top of the list of my concerns.

I stayed the whole time they were warming up. When it was time for the concert though, I went home to my babies. I was a worried mama and there was no way I could get a better show that what I’d just received.

Got to the shop and my boys were fine. They had been playing all day with their paw-paw, great-grandmother, and great-aunt. I had to go feed my chocolate lab Cocoa at my tiny house behind the store, so I left Wayne’s fortress to tend to her. She is a good old dog, went deaf a while back from a snake bite. I felt empowered. I felt as if everything was going to be okay for the first time in a long time.

When I drove up to my store and tiny house it was surrounded by trucks. Someone was inside and had all the lights turned on. I was being ambushed. I didn’t know who all it was or what they wanted.

It was a surprise attack from my ex. I had just made him leave and demanded to never see his face again and thought he could just force himself back into the picture? Well, if I was ever going to be able to return to my normal life, I knew I couldn’t live in fear that he would show up anytime he wanted and take anything he wanted.

“It’s okay.” My old self-proclaimed witch neighbor Lighter told me. “Me and your great-uncle Wendell are here to make sure he only gets his stuff.”

Oh, Lighter Mae, it is not okay. Neither she nor my uncle had my permission to effectively take ownership of all my property to be able to supervise Adam taking any of the things from the house or store.

And, took stuff he did. The night before I left, Adam was up meticulously folding his laundry and sorting his items. He got those things and the rest of his guns. He lifted the air compressor from the store, and the Skil-Saw he’d been leaving out. He took the boat and the disabled BMW. That asshole took my Dremel and Chop Saw. Lots of the tools I used for knife making. Seemed to me he was trying to cover his tracks.

My great-uncle, really? Blood betrayal is what I saw. Great Uncle Wendell and Adam had a special bond. They both share the same Old Testament views on feast days, fasting, and dietary laws. They both don’t understand love.

I was aware that Adam had been sending my address to people who I didn’t know. I had no way of knowing who was in the accompanying trucks, what they were loading up, or what they were doing to my house. I was particularly tired of being afraid on my own property. I was tired of being ganged up on. I stood my ground again. I ran Adam off again. And everybody else that was there. May have chased them off. A little.

I had been waiting on the system to work. Waiting like the Circuit Clerk told me to. Yeah, that was real good advice. Great job protecting women and children from a psychopathic narcissist.

I went to the bank to make sure Adam couldn’t clean out my store account, and what little money I had left, then I went to the Fyffe Police Department to ask for help. I explained to the older lady, Jo Nelson, at the front desk a little about what had happened. She told me to make sure I had my pistol on me, at all times, and to go to the County Sheriff’s Department to find out if I could have the Family Protection Order hurried along.

It seemed like honest advice from the older women, so I took it and went to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s office to ask for help. To seek protection from my abuser, Adam Brooks, the man I had been married to for a span of fifteen years. He’d slowly gained control over almost everything, often putting me down, trying to make me feel worthless He told me I couldn’t sing. He told me if I ever left him, I’d die in a cave alone like my daddy. And had just crossed the line from mental and emotional abuse into physical abuse. I don’t say that lightly. My whole world shifted when that happened.

At the Sheriff’s office, they informed me that Adam Brooks was there and he has issued a warrant out for my arrest. So, yes, I was afraid and I cried. Weighing in at only 120 pounds, likely pregnant, I was charged with Reckless Endangerment. It was because he “loves me so much” and for “my own good.”

I just did what I had to do.

 

Chapter Two

My Way Out

     At the end of “Telling Hands”  the first book I wrote about my life, I was ready to do something. I was dreaming. I was basking in the sun and wondering what could be next.

I put Adam through college. I worked the whole time. I worked till his college loans were paid off, but that was back before we had children.

I had been blessed so much to be able to stay home with my children for the past 10 years. Bless their little hearts, they needed me. We tried Alabama’s failing public school system with all its problems. I knew I could do just as good, likely better, at educating them, and certainly couldn’t do any worse. They had vision problems, and the glasses that were being prescribed to them weren’t helping. So, I started homeschooling my three boys and wanted the chance to get a degree in business. I could take the classes online and when the time was right, I’d start my own.

I looked into taking some college courses. My then husband Adam didn’t think that was a good idea. He said it would cost too much and wouldn’t agree to help me further my education or career.

I found myself stuck with no support system, and half the state away from my family.

Adam had prescribed to another faith, with a strict Old Testament flavor. As a Libertarian leaning person, I saw no threat to his decision taking over my rights to worship freely. Over the past few years though, it had and I started pushing back.

I pushed back often. I knew his buttons and I pressed them. The sharp tongue I had developed as a child with a mean older brother was put to use. I kind of enjoyed making Adam lose his shit over my irreverent tone. He would throw his arms around and pull at the little hair he had left. He just shouldn’t have messed with me.

One day we went camping back home in Grove Oak, AL, at Buck’s Pocket State Park. We were visiting family, and forgot marsh-mellows. The closest store to the Pocket was fifteen miles away and on the way there, we passed the old Grove Oak store, known as Smith’s Grocery back in the day when it was open. The store had been closed for 12 years and had a for sale sign on it.

Diane Smith, who used to run the old store, was a brute of a British woman picked up by a local trucker on the road somewhere, and settled as a transplant to Grove Oak. Some local men called her Lady Di, some called her Tits. I expected to have to deal with her to inquire about the property but come to find out, it wasn’t hers. The old store was owned by her brother-in-law who resides in Atlanta.

Diane was mauled by a pit-bull and suffered from a stroke. The years of drinking had caught up with her, is what I had been told. I was actually relieved to not have to deal with her.

So, when I called to find out what the price was on the property, I knew full-well that George didn’t want the old abandoned store in Grove Oak. I cut his already very low asking price in half and bought the store outright.

A state park was sure to bring in enough traffic to keep the bills paid. I’d just bring Grove Oak back. Skipping business school altogether, I started the renovations, focusing on keeping overhead as low as possible. I could home-school my boys and run it. I’d be close to my entire family and leave Adam in Montgomery. My grandfather had drilled it into my head that family would always be there for you, and that was going to be helpful.

I’d found my way out.

Determined as hell, and ready to leave his controlling, ‘living for the Jones’ lifestyle behind, I also held another mentality: do what you’ve got to do. I was leaving him…for myself, and for my boys.

Adam had a cushy job of BMW Service Manager. He thought he’d bought me. I guess what he didn’t know is that I ain’t for sale.

I didn’t want him treating me like he owned me, and he couldn’t take that.

He sold his quarter of a million dollar new house, quit his job, and followed me back home. It seems his job of constant manipulating and managing people had gone to his head.

He wanted control. He fought me daily for it. He knew I was tough, he knew I was a little mean, he knew I was a Godwin. He’d just let himself forget it.

Fighting is something I can do.

Chapter Three

Writing

     Writing took me from uncertainty to certainty. I wrote my first book “Telling Hands” and could see it. I could see the things I hadn’t seen before. When you’re honest in your writing, the truth will unravel itself as you go like a ball of yarn. If you read that book carefully, you will the see the hints I dropped about the state of our marriage. He insisted that I let him read the book as I wrote it, so I hid them. He didn’t even know.

So, I moved and started my own business. It went really well for several months. Until, the governor of the state of Alabama, Robert Bentley, made good on his threat to close the local state park, Buck’s Pocket. He used our public park to get taxes raised then closed it.

Bentley, when I confronted him about the issue, publicly thanked me for being the backbone of America, then privately pulled me over to the side and patted my head and made empty promises to pacify me. Just like a politician.

When I was in the fifth grade at Henagar, in Mr. Stewart’s class, I thought I wanted to be the first woman president. After studying Lucy Stone, the out-spoken advocate for women’s rights and suffragist, to write my first book report for Mr. Stewart, I had some hopes for being able to make a difference in my lifetime.

As I grew up though, the thought of actually running for office hasn’t offered the same feeling of hope.

Mr. Stewart would also let us listen to Garth Brook’s “The River.”

“You know a dream is like a river

Ever changin’ as it flows

And a dreamer’s just a vessel

That must follow where it goes”

We’d sing along sometimes and I guess it stuck with me. I haven’t known where I’m going but I still believe that its going to be wonderful. I told someone recently that I’m eternally positive like the sunshine. I reckon that’s true.

Buck’s Pocket is where I was baptized and where I had birthday parties, it’s old Cherokee land. I wrote an article saying that the ol governor may have the power to close the Pocket, but he couldn’t close me down… in the usual Jamie fashion.

I knew my marriage was done for and my business was going to slow way down. I tried to forge my way another gig and started hosting a radio show for the internet channel American Crossroads Radio with a friend from Texas, Joel. He had the idea but not the vision, so I became a Creative Producer as well and started rowing. I’d grown up listening to Country Music and had a certain disdain for some of its current direction.

Joel is like a little rooster. He gets worked up and thinks he’s bigger than he is. He started picking at me about my song choices. I pulled from different genres to fill the need for female artists. I believe the female voice should be better represented in the music industry. Joel no longer respected my freedom to play what I wanted to. It was in the contract that I would have complete creative control over my own show. I played an Alicia Keys song and he had a come apart. So I walked away.

I’d started writing some music blogs and entertained the idea of being a television show host for a local production. As it turned out the man who wanted to put the tv show together couldn’t keep his hands to himself. I slammed that door. Sorry Fort Payne, it just didn’t work out.

I played around with the idea of song-writing for a little while, trying to fill the need to help provide for my children. I watched the local musicians, looking for a place I might could utilize my strengths. I played some local songs on my radio show and used my store as a venue for songwriters nights and musicians to play. Most of the musicians were generally nice and fun-loving. They were happy to work with me.

I had read Rick Hall’s autobiography and met him once. He was a tough man and his book told of a tough music business. I did get a taste of the ruthlessness via some musicians. I had kind of expected it.

I continued to write, run the business that was beginning to slow down so much, even while taking care of my sons who were finally correctly diagnosed with juvenile cataracts.  I wrote a second book inspired in part by a musician, and what I observed of his ideals… it was different. I added in differing people, ideals from society and life advice I’d received as a child. Not sure if anyone liked it. It was my second novella “More than Nothing.”

Chance Gray was the only songwriter I knew at the time, he was working for Jarrod Neiman back then, 2014, and writing for Jacob Steifel. I didn’t care for the music they were generating. To change the sound coming out of Nashville, we had to start getting some different songs in there. Some songs about the realness of women, the realness of life. Not just a bachelor’s idea of a good time. The songs being played on the radio were teaching the public a different version of reality, one I consider to be unhealthy.

I thought then, and still do that its high time Nashville start taking some responsible steps towards setting a better example. Every fire starts with a small spark, who says the spark couldn’t come from a small town Alabama girl? I studied all of the musicians, their songs, their attitudes. Hell, you got to understand a problem if you want to fix it. Chance moved on to work for Taylor Swift, then Jason Isbell. The Nashville Sound started to change.

I wrote a third novella inspired by my own imagination, a Pink Floyd song, and hopes for a better relationship, one day. “The Music of the Stars.” I wove into the book a thought or five I have about physics, based on Einstein’s work.

I began writing when I was stuck in an abusive relationship. I couldn’t talk to Adam and I needed to be heard. I needed to say things. I have read somewhere that writing is the fight against silence. I think that is how my writing began. Talking to Adam was like stepping in fresh dog shit, it really was and I told him that.

Adam had his mask on and slithered in close to several of my family members. He started carrying a big gun, a 1911. I asked him several times to put it away, because I was afraid of him. He wouldn’t. So I carried one too, a Keltec .32. I knew it was all going to end somehow, and I’d hoped to get another job going before it all blew up. Adam was acting more erratic every day and I was getting more desperate to get away from him with neither myself nor my children being harmed. He’d isolated me and I didn’t know if I could trust anyone.

Chapter Four Breaking the Cycle of Abuse

I had asked Adam to leave. Many times. I told him I wanted a divorce. His response was that if I ever left him I would end up alone, living in a cave. He always told me I couldn’t sing, and that no one would ever, could ever love me. I knew that wasn’t true.

The last few months was nothing but one continuous fight over all the problems we had. I wanted to provide a safe place for my vision impaired children. He started leaving the Skil Saw plugged in and laying on the ground in our path. He started building a detached garage out of the kids trampoline safety net poles. He had the boat resting on a peanut can. He took his gun out and played with it. He wouldn’t help me. He wouldn’t clean it up. He wouldn’t clean up the broken glass around the burn pile. He wouldn’t fix the lawn mower. He wouldn’t stop leaving that damned saw out. He broke my truck door’s key-less entry, both of them. He had cut me out of financial decisions, and had hidden our money. He had a disabled BMW five series on faulty jacks, on gravel, in the driveway right in front of the tiny house I had purchased to get away from him. He had always despised my creations. He broke my first hand-made glass flower, he deleted my first book that I had to rewrite. He was threatening my store creation, and most gravely: now my greatest creation by threatening my children’s safety.

On Father’s Day of 2016, sleeping in my bed, I woke to Adam forcing himself on me. I wasn’t safe. I wasn’t safe anywhere. Overwhelmed and in shock, I went outside. I had to breathe. I had to come to terms with what had just happened. I didn’t think he would stoop that low. But he had. He left bruises on my legs that would be a reminder the next few days of what all could happen.

Adam had made plans for Father’s Day. He didn’t make plans with his children. He made plans with an old high school friend, Russell Lingerfelt. He wanted a have a picnic with Russell and some woman. Russell was a family counselor or something and we talked about travelling. His friend was a counselor of troubled teens. I gave her some advice. It seemed like Russell was angry with me and tried to monopolize the conversation. I didn’t let him.

After the picnic was over I told Adam that would never happen again. I meant it. I don’t know if I realized then that I was referring to the forced encounter, the picnic, or the past 15 years. But it was definitely over, right then, no matter the cost.

I had to get away from Adam, but I didn’t have anywhere to go. Tuesday, while he was at work, I made my get away. I had decided to go to Wayne’s shop. The place that always felt like home. My Daddy’s. I was scared. I was hiding. I barely had enough time to consider the possible pregnancy.

Adam tried calling me when he came home to an empty house. He sent messages. He sent emails. He said he contacted everyone, even the police. But, I couldn’t talk to him. I didn’t want to. I didn’t have to. I just wanted him to leave me alone. I didn’t sleep. Daddy Wayne didn’t either.

I went to open the store the next day after Adam had enough time to go to work in Huntsville. I was trying to resume my life, running my store, selling things to provide for us. I had turned my phone off. I didn’t want to have to face my abuser. But he sure wanted to have it out with me. He rushed in, pistol on him, and started straight for me. I had no choice but to defend myself at that point.

Concerned only for the safety of myself and my children, I went straight to fill out a Protection From Abuse form then went back to the shop.

 

Chapter Five

 

You think that it’s over? You think that’s all it took, huh?

People who assume they are in power work very hard to stay in power.

My kids and I had to endure Adam’s wrath.

I couldn’t sleep, ate barely, didn’t have money cause he had cut off my access to any. I know Adam had been talking to my mother, my brother, my uncle Shannon, my great-uncle Wendell, my cousins, ect.

He had to give the court 15 names to petition to have my mental competency checked. He sought to have me involuntarily institutionalized. He had been discussing legal maneuvering with his friends. One Amy Slayden instructed him to fill out a PFA before I had the chance to in order to cancel mine out. He was never abused. He was confronted. He was stood up to.

I’m not a mental health professional, but I think I understand the word “projection.”

He gave my address out to Albert Hicks in Birmingham and I don’t know why.

Adam texted “You are loved” to me. Exactly the same words Russell Lingerfelt’s “girlfriend” said she was taught to use to set boundaries with the children she counselled just the day before. Exactly the same.

I couldn’t file a restraining order because we lived together. It was going to take literally weeks to get the Protection Order looked at, thanks to Pam Simpson’s office not issuing an immediate approval. Maybe she held it against me that my hair looked messy. Maybe their office is used to turning their backs on crying women with children looking for help. But a woman in the elevator saw us as we were leaving and gave me twenty dollars to take the boys to McDonald’s. She could see it. She pulled it out of her own wallet. I cried even more. Thanks, lady.

So, he came back again. I ran him off again. Don’t regret it. Best thing I’ve ever done is stand up to that idiot.

I reckon he felt threatened and complained to Zac Aldridge, Groveoakian and the county deputy who took the report.

I went to Fyffe Police Department and talked to Jo Nelson. She sent me to the sheriff’s office where I walked right into custody. They held me overnight on a reckless endangerment charge for an appearance at the Court House in the morning. Yep, led me into the courthouse in shackles and chains.

Porter and Porter in Scottsboro, AL was the law firm Adam hired to do his bidding and use the system as leverage against me.

If I’ll just come back to him though, it would all go away, he tells me.

At the courthouse, Ms. Millican interviewed me, my lawyer wasn’t present. I refused to visit with my mother or my brother who were sitting with Adam, waiting. I talked to my Daddy though, who bailed me out of jail.

Ms. Millican asked me about the time my brother Jason Godwin body slammed me at my mother’s house. About how he sat on my back and pulled my head up saying he was going to break my neck again. I told him he was going to have to kill me. He said he would. All this is because I didn’t have my own deer meat processed the way he said I should. I know, I know. Brotherly love, right? Well, his wife Jennifer, my sister Hannah, step-dad, mother, and Adam all watched it happen and said nothing. Did nothing. I knew for years that I wasn’t safe.

Jason came to Daddy’s shop the night before I went to jail. He was crying and then screaming. I know he’s on prescription meds but they don’t seem to be helping him. He acted like a basket case. I stayed up late listening to him clobber over some bullshit because I was afraid he might commit suicide if I didn’t hear him out.

I guess his conscience was getting to him. He had been collaborating with Adam, you know. Jason said I had to be at least depressed, just look at how few possessions I own compared to him. Said all I would have to do was go see Dr. Decker and get on medications, Adam would forgive me.

Guess what, y’all? I’m perfectly sane. Ms Millican, the lady that examined me said I seemed fine. Of course I am fine. I’m better than fine. And I am certainly not paranoid schizophrenic.

While I was being held in custody, Adam took my boys from my Dad. He held them at Rita Brooks’ house a few days. I couldn’t go to her house as a condition of my release from jail. While at Rita’s, the boys were held in the house full of dogs and cats, my youngest son who had always had some allergies, developed a strong allergic reaction. So when Adam tried to go behind my back and enroll the children in Geraldine school, my youngest son got so sick he was throwing up and they couldn’t proceed. My lawyer stepped in and had the judge order my children to remain in my care and that is where they have stayed.

While they were gone those few days, I burned a few things. Things that reminded me of the awful traumatic time I had just lived through. Cleaned things up a bit, had the store closed for remodel. I had to burn the five hundred pound oak counter my back stabbing Uncle Wendell made for me. I don’t regret that.

He used the fact that I wasn’t wearing make up and didn’t have my hair tamed as part of why I he thought I was crazy. I burned my make up bag and all my hair products after I found that out. Consider my year of looking not so polished as my own personal protest against such attitudes and societal pressure for women to look according to other’s standards. Fuck that.

Adam actually told people and actually said that I believed myself to be one of the two witnesses in the Bible. And I needed to be locked up for my own protection. He quoted some religious prophetic strawberry moon you tube video that I had never even seen as his evidence. All of that is nonsense. I never claimed such.

I took a big, sharp scythe and cut almost everyone out of my life.

We went to court. I had filed for a divorce but Adam was hoping to somehow make me remain married to him and filed for a legal separation. I have voice mail messages from that time where he was calling me leaving serenading messages, one demanding I stop telling people we were going through a divorce that I “was the one TRYING to divorce him.”

His lawyer Porter resigned citing that Adam has “unrealistic expectations.”

I was given full legal and physical custody of my three boys and was told to live my life. Adam picked up a billboard lawyer who threatened and cussed my lawyer, Steve Bussman, in court. It was a little like my grandmother’s funeral service when two of my aunts got in a fist fight at the funeral home. Security had to be called. It slowed everything down.

Adam asked me to marry him again after calling me a great mom and amazing humanitarian, at Jack’s in Fyffe’s parking lot. He had a card and a ring and everything.

“Uhhh.. no.”

I told my mother of the things that was happening to me. I tried to find some common ground a few times. First, she was only concerned with me being in trouble, then she wished me luck in court. That was the extent of the support I received from her for a year and a half. When I think back over my life, part of what I was missing was feeling loved by her. I have thought a lot about that very thing. I watched all our old home movies and searched through all our family photographs. Not only was the memories of a loving mother not in my mind, no evidence existed of a loving relationship anywhere. I don’t have memory problems as a long-term side effect from the wreck, coma, and broken neck. I actually really believe I have a photographic memory. What I was looking for just wasn’t there.

My sister, Hannah, didn’t have time to talk to me and only said “people go through divorces everyday.”

Wayne kicked us out of his shop after a couple of weeks. It was tough love. He was pushing us out of the nest, so I’d fly. When he complains now about me not answering my phone, I just say I was flying. I’m sure he loves that. Wayne comes by now all along to warn me about something or help me with something or run an idea by me. He told me I had balls. So, I’ve got that going for me.

He says, “A man will just jump out in the middle of the woods and get by on nothing in a divorce but a woman usually always already has a man lined up to move on to before she’ll divorce. ” That is a compliment coming from him.

My last remaining grandmother might be afraid of me.

Lighter Mae, the old woman across the road keeps to herself now. She was called to testify against me. Pretty sure it helped me instead of doing damage. Lighter said I ran over and told her “I had to defend myself.” Well, I did.

The boys and I have been doing better than ever. They have grown so much and I have been able to put my weight back on. I now have a low blood sugar problem. You see for three months or so, I didn’t eat much of anything. I made sure the boys were fed and pushed myself back from the table. After that, I went and got on food stamps. The boys were over-joyed to go get food and not have to eat my biscuits for breakfast every morning, it was pitiful. I was glad I didn’t let my pride get in the way of caring for them. Adam wasn’t helping us and I have three growing boys. I cried then too.

As it turns out, I wasn’t pregnant. I would have carried that baby and raised it and loved it but I wasn’t pregnant after all. Adam may have been trying to keep me barefoot and pregnant, so I’d feel like I had to stay with him. Wayne says that’s a very common thing.

The radio show was really beginning to take off, I had so many listeners I was shutting down the TuneIn App. Adam was always threatened by my success.

One of the times, I tried employ a band, the manager wouldn’t even give me a price to come and play the grand opening at the Store. (I had money back then) Same band, Jacob Stiefel, refused to be featured on my Texas-based radio show.

He refused an interview, refused to work with me at all on anything. It was all very peculiar. He is from around here and tries very hard to have a presence in Texas and it would have been great for him. I went and saw his band perform two times. The second was better than the first, but I wasn’t impressed enough to take it upon myself to write anything about them. Stiefel doesn’t connect with the audience well. He performs like he thinks he’s above them.

I did see that Jacob Stiefel’s band decided to go on ACR a few weeks ago, now that I am no longer affiliated with that brand. Leads one to conclude Jacob Stiefel must have some personal problem with women in the music business like Joel from the station. It is all too prevalent.

Go online and look at the ratio of men to women in the Country Music Hall of Fame, listen to a country music radio station. It’s mostly all men you’ll hear and they sing the same old tired song devaluing women.

Russell Lingerfelt hasn’t been back. But I did receive a phone call from the Gadsden Mental Health Facility where his girlfriend is employed. Whatever her name is. I just hung up.

Chapter Seven

     After all that, let me tell you where I was and we’ll try to get to where I am now. In an old store with a huge dip in sales due to the State Park closure, bills piling up, and those three growing boys. I was minus a husband and the fifty to sixty k he was concealing.  A general public weary of the events that had unfolded, with just a few good friends left in the world.

The first Christmas after I kicked Adam out, I had to sell calendars of myself to pay for the boy’s presents. Most people liked it or was at least indifferent,. Except Nub, this big kinda yucky guy, he made fun of me and Lisa Dollar.. I saw that once. Asses.

Shout out to Jessica Berry for not letting me sleep on the floor after burning my bed and both her and Nicole Stone for being willing to testify that I’m not crazy.

And, Darren Camp helped me. He sent me a message saying he had a counter from an old grocery store in Tennessee he’d come upon and asked if I was interested in purchasing it for $500. I was, as it were, without a counter in the store. I agreed but let him know I had fallen on hard times and didn’t have the cash. Darren was generous and kindhearted in the deal and delivered it out to me anyway. He is a musician friend that I had known for a while, ever since he played at my store with one of my cousins he used to be in a band with.

We worked up an agreement where I would model in a Broom-Stand commercial shoot he was putting together in exchange for the grocery counter. Darren had recently been diagnosed with MS and had just gotten out of a bad relationship as well. He told me that he was impressed by my writing and business abilities, that he was opening a recording studio at his lake house in Guntersville. He said he knew I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to and asked if I’d like in on it.

Darren believed in me. He helped me have hope in a very difficult time.

I’d already quit American Crossroads Radio over the breach of contract, hadn’t heard anything about the state park reopening anytime soon, and my writing wasn’t bringing in much cash. Darren knew I had a good ear, he was a regular listener to my radio show. I agreed to go in as a partner and made him put it in writing.

Just a couple of weeks after I agreed to help start the production studio, I had an idea.

It was early September, 2016. I had seen some posts on social media about the North Dakota Pipeline Protest. I think most of us realize mainstream media covers stories up or doesn’t tell the whole truth most of the time. I wanted to know more about it. I wanted to find out the truth.

“Hey, let’s see if anyone has any donations, and we’ll take a truckload up to North Dakota and find out what’s going on with that pipeline protest. Maybe.. film a documentary?”

He said “Hell yes.”

As I earlier mentioned, I have some experience in interviewing people: Dick Cooper, Adam Hood, Rock Killough. I have been on set filming movies, I have a stage presence from my time hosting an Open Mic night for a while. Seems like a documentary would be right up my alley. Y’all know I love a good story.

We got a few donations, I donated most of the truck load myself. People around here didn’t seem too concerned with what was going on clear across the country with the Native people but what I know is that if the government wanted to take over my land without permission, I’d be mad as hell about it.

We made the trip out there. I knew I was going to be Jamie the Cherokee from Alabama so I wanted to go to the Cherokee Nation first. In some way, I felt like I was representing my tribal heritage. The Lakota had issued a call for the gathering and I was answering, but under my own authority. If there had been other Cherokees in the Nation going, I wanted to team up with them. Not saying there wasn’t any, I just couldn’t find them. It was overwhelming. My 5th great-grandmother was forced on the Trail of Tears out to Oklahoma. Bless her spirit, she was counted among the displaced nation and moved her ass back here. Such history, such a powerful story of survival.

So we went on up to Cannonball, North Dakota. We drove up Route 66 part of the way. I felt torn between worrying about what I was about to step into and wanting to have fun on the road. I fell in the water, sang along to the radio, fed a whirlwind of birds, and flew by the seat of my pants the whole way. We had to stop for gas and eat at greasy spoons.  I changed clothes in bathrooms, and Darren and I took turns driving.

Chapter 8

The road was long. The trip actually took longer than I expected. It felt big and important. My little red truck made it there with no problems. We pulled up to the entrance at Sacred Stone and they informed us that no filming or pictures would be allowed. That they were carefully trying to manage the message being sent out. We agreed with the ones standing guard.

I drove along the dirt path, winding back to the right. Spotted the donation tent and parked near by. I have been on site at many disaster recovery response areas and the resistance camp was run much like that. A tent for accepting donations, one for the cook shed, and everyone worked together. Outside the cook shed was the sacred fire.

I jumped in right away. After only a little while, I felt at home. Everyone slept in tents. We didn’t bring one so a Native brother let me borrow one from the donation tent. He let me pick out a quilt because it was very cold. It was a Cherokee quilt made from the clothing of a Redbird family’s matriarch. I will keep that quilt all of my life.

I had the honor of serving the guard. Ladonna Allard aka Brave Bull, the Lakota land owner the camp was on told me to give the guard extra food. A heaping helping of everything out of respect. These men stayed on the border facing down the government round the clock, protecting the land and the people.

I sat around the fire with them, talking and listening. I donated a hatchet for chopping wood and helped keep the fire stoked and fed.

Jamie the Cherokee from Alabama was the only woman to help lay the foundation for the permanent building to be erected for the camp to use.

We spoke with Brave Bull and asked for permission to film a documentary to share their story with the world. She agreed.

We interviewed several Native people. All were passionate about their land, their families, their tribe.

I followed a man named Cloud to his tent. We had spoken of technology, the information age, the coming era, and Black Hills history. Cloud had opinions about the Lakota Elders. I kept my mouth shut, as it would not be my place to chime in on their tribal affairs. He had a big golden dog that bled from the top of his nose. I bent down and pet the dog. Cloud asked me not to because someone had poisoned his animal. One moment later, Cloud looked at me in disbelief and said the dog’s nose was healed. I left his area a few moments later and we parted ways in mutual respect.

Darren and I went walking down the dirt path that led out of the camp and to the other camps. We were told that the FBI director had just been there the day before we arrived and to be careful for raids. We were going to visit the Red Warrior Camp. That is where the most lively protesting was being done. Our camp, Sacred Stone, was very peaceful. Halfway there, we stopped to speak to an environmental scientist, Lisa Colombe/Rosebud Sioux Tribe and were given another story. She worked as a U.S. Census taker, and told us of the injustice within the counting of Native Americans.

One man in Grove Oak actually counted me as half a person because I am a female, and I hated it. That was such an important revelation, we stayed there with Lisa longer and never made it to the Red Warrior Camp. Probably thirty minutes later, reports around Sacred Stone were that the Red Warrior Camp was raided and thirty plus had been arrested.

Darren has Multiple Sclerosis. MS is an unpredictable, debilitating disease. He told me he had it the first time we met. He said it was hell. He hurts all the time. I told him I wasn’t afraid of hell. I admit to not knowing a lot about MS, but have learned along the way. Darren didn’t feel well a good portion of the time while we were in North Dakota. He took naps part of the time while I got better acquainted with the gathering of activists.

I had never been close to anyone applying for disability before, either. Over the last couple of years I watched the process play out. Darren was initially denied, then had to appeal the decision. His doctor had to testify and said that Darren can’t do any job. Paying jobs with time clocks and the responsibility of ER Nurse aren’t a possibility for him anymore. It has taken him three years to get approved for disability and the checks haven’t started coming yet.

I reckon the thing to do in that situation is down-size your riverside studio to a paid for farm house and make the best of things. You’ve got to keep your overhead low when you run a small business. So, now we’ve changed the name from RiverBank to New Harmony. It’s sort of a working farm as I’m starting to breed rabbits, keep a few chickens for egg production, will harvest no telling how many buckets of blackberries soon. There ain’t too many things better than a homemade buttermilk biscuit and fresh blackberry jam. I happen to have the perfect place to sell these items because I’m still holding on at The Grove Oak Store. We’re fixing the farm up and recording there some.

The state park is still closed. A huge ATV trail has been funded for the park, but not built. They’ve been pushing the construction date back for years. I figure I’ve got a mighty fine piece of property when all the pieces come together and the park reopens. Till then, I work there part time.

It helps when you team up with someone. Darren has decades of musical experience, talent, and a good heart. He has helped us so much too. He stood up for me a few times, defended me, and kept us safe.  Darren was the one who discovered a bolt had come out of my lower control arm bushing on my truck and the other was half out while we were changing the oil in the yard one day. He fixed it and probably saved the lives of myself and my three children.

We don’t make a bad team. Except for that whole band management thing. I told him I’d help him with his music and I have but I hate booking and he doesn’t bring in enough money to pay me. Its the way the local live music scene is. I introduced myself to Hope Cassity once as his manager and she wouldn’t have anything to do with it!!! Said she wouldn’t be going through me. I wasn’t manager long and only a couple of my suggestions were ever implemented. I heard Hope got cancer. Hope she gets better.

The music business is a tough business, just like Rick Hall said. It’s even tougher if you’re a woman. I’ve been denied access for interviews and scheduling, just because I am a woman multiple times. Many people find a strong woman to be intimidating. I find it shows their weaknesses.

 

 

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