It’s funny the things you remember and it’s amazing the things you don’t! I don’t remember my parents ever being together. As far as I can remember my step mother has always been in my life. I don’t remember my mother getting married to my step-father but, what I do remember is the first time my step-father’s son touched me in a way he shouldn’t have. I was seven. In his room, just a little girl spending time with her older brother, or so I thought. It was a rainy day and we were cooped up inside talking and reading a joke book. Back and forth we would pass the joke book to each other taking turns sharing the joke of our choosing “what loses its head in the morning, but gets it back at night?” I asked him. “That’s a riddle” he says to me, I look and laugh “Well what’s the answer?” he pauses and looks at me and says “I don’t know”, “A PILLOW” I shouted with laughter, I was a child, it was so funny to me. Then he sat me on his lap, as he sat five years older than me, and started moving my body in motions suitable for his pleasure. I didn’t know what to think or what to do but I knew that this was not a familiar feeling. I was just seven years old, a child, a little girl unafraid of her “step brother” but unfamiliar with the feeling that was being introduced to me: violation. I remember that it did not stop! Not only did it not stop, it progressed and continued over the years and as I got older, his infractions got worse.
I was 11 years old when my mother told me she had cancer. It was just 6 weeks before my 12th birthday. What was I to think? My mother was a BAD BITCH! Fair skinned, 5’11” “A tall drink of water” was how I would overhear random men refer to her as they starred with lust in they’re eyes when we walked through the malls, stores and City. SUPERWOMAN is how I described her. She fixed all my problems and everybody else’s come to think of it. Naturally my mother would have fixed my little molestation problem but in my mind, the way she would have fixed it would have been to send me to live with my father. The thought of being away from her, being away from my room, being away from my friends and my life I had in Glenn Dale, Maryland just wasn’t acceptable for me. So, my secret about my step brother creeping in to my room at night, awakening me with his inappropriate touches and movements would come with me to my grave! I mean just to look at her was AMAZING, she was BEAUTIFUL, she was MY MOTHER!!!! So you can imagine my devastation when she passed away from breast cancer with me at the tender, vulnerable age of 14. It was shocking to me because I had no idea she could get so sick so fast. Cancer was NO JOKE!!! She had told me in August that the cancer had spread and by December 31, she was gone.
My mother, Mary Ann Myles, was a singer, and not just any kind of singer, the kind of singer who “would have made it!” This is a woman who was Miss Howard University of 1982. She did a one woman show in Dallas Texas performing over twenty-five songs when the headliner didn’t show up. She had a song titled “Nice & Easy” that went GOLD in Europe, and she even appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1985. I was fortunate enough that she kept me in the arts from childhood. Dancing, singing, and acting classes for as long as I can remember! But in my eyes who needed any of that stuff when I had her………. and of course Whitney Houston!
I performed at Howard University at the age of six, The Kennedy Center, in Washington DC, when I was nine years old performing along side Halle Berry, Eartha Kitt, Esther Role, Vicki Winans, and Richard Smallwood, just to name a few. I did my first talent show at Thomas Johnson Middle School the spring after my mother’s first
completion of chemotherapy and would you believe that she was there?! What I was learning at the time but may not have been aware of then was, GOD was in control and HE had/has a plan whether I could see it or not. In my little life, I had experienced an awful lot of trauma early on but what I discovered is I’m a fighter! My mom knew her weaknesses and was very easily distracted by the business of life. She could have beat the cancer but she was so consumed with providing for me [and my brother} that she didn’t take the time to take care of herself and get better. She prayed for GOD to deliver her from her sickness but she never considered what HIS answer would be. She never considered that her deliverance may not be given in this life. What she was able to do before her time here was over, was instill her gifts and talents in me. When my mother passed away I had to move to Delaware to live with my father and looking back I realized that my life’s tragedy was also my answered prayer. When I left that house, my house, I left the sexual abuse that had consumed my childhood and was quickly trying to have a hand in my teenage years but GOD had a different plan. My mother’s death saved my life. I was packed and ready to go the day after my mother’s funeral. I left 6508 Facchina Lane, Glenn Dale Maryland and headed to Wilmington, Delaware to live with my father full time and filled with my mom’s spirit.
Living in a new city, I had to find out who I was and come into my own abilities. It was hard living without her but I knew I had to “Find My Way”.I attended Howard High School of Technology, was apart of the drama league, and continued to sing and act performing in plays at Cheyney University, The Grand Opera House, and the Merrium Theatre. After graduation I was blessed to also be featured in two plays at The Philadelphia Urban Theater Festival with icons like Robert Townsend sitting in the audience. I attended Temple University for one year then decided to pursue music and acting full-time. On the stage is where I found freedom!
The biggest thing for me to learn and adjust to or even understand was that what happened to me during my childhood was not my fault. I was the victim! But beyond that, I had to make the choice that just because I had been a victim of molestation as a child and suffered through the loss of a parent, I was not going to victimize myself. I wasn’t going to live in a space mentally that held me in captivity. I wanted to be free. Free from pain and sorrow and I wanted to be at peace with what happened to me and with my mother’s death. Her death, as tragic as it was to live through, is a celebration of life. And now she is a woman who is free from pain and cancer. I don’t live through her, I live FOR her! I live because that is what she would have wanted me to do. Her dream was for me to live, sing, and dance. I perform, not only because its my talent and I love it but because its what she would have wanted for me and I owe her, she saved my life!
When I perform, I’m free. I am completely alive and free to touch as many as my voice can reach. This is not the journey of a victim this is the journey of a fighter. I can laugh thinking of my mom’s laugh. She’s laughing at all of my jokes, wiping all of my tears, and hearing all of my songs. She’s been at every performance, every play and every show, even if not physically. She’s with me, she’s in me, and she has always been with me. I perform for her, for you, and for myself!