Addiction, Forgiveness, Guest Posts, healing

I’m A Misfit.

December 28, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Treva Draper-Imler.

I am not pretty. I am damn funny, silly and a bit quirky. Those things make me too cute, as my friends would say. I tried being pretty, but the cost was my soul. I’m fine, really fine, where I am.

My Dad, Paul Draper, is handsome. He is a classic “Steve McQueen” type. He has a sculpted chin, dark hair and green eyes. My brother David is handsome. He was a model in college. The fact that my brother was a model probably added 5 years onto the time I will spend in therapy. My mom is pretty, She has red hair and sky blue eyes. Her skin is so china bisque fair, dotted with a freckle or two. misfit

My earliest memory of my father is him beating me till I urinated on myself. I was four, and he caught me chewing on a doll’s foot. I was in my Pj’s. He struck me until the floor was soaked in urine. He then made me mop my urine up.

My father was raised by an alcoholic father and a distant mother. There were 6 children in 8 years. The foothills of Maryland aren’t conducive to raising a garden, much less children. When my grandfather did work, he was a talented stone mason. A fireplace he crafted stands in a room at Camp David. My dad and his brothers would gather poison snakes, and sell them to a moonshiner. He paid a dollar for every live snake. When you are hungry, in 1939, a dollar bought a lot of food. I am not making excuses, believe me. What has kept me sane are facts. It is a fact, my father grew up hungry, and longing for more than a full belly. At 17, he lied about his age and joined the Air Force.

My mother moved to Columbus, Ohio when she was 19. Right out of high school in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. US 23 north seemed like her yellow brick road. She met my father at a jazz club. He was stationed at the local air force base. That Thanksgiving, he called home to Maryland told his mom he wasn’t coming home for the holiday. My Grandmother Draper hung up the phone, went to her refrigerator and threw the thawing turkey away. Every story, even dark ones give way to levity.

Christmas brought more than presents: my mom was pregnant with me.

She and my father wed on St Patricks Day 1962. My older cousins tell the story about our Aunt Von getting drunk. She tried to pick up the preacher. In her defense, he was single.

My dad had traveled the world, seen the sights, but if your girl was pregnant, you married her. Maybe he felt trapped, maybe hunger was still ravaging him, but in 1962 you got married.

I was born that September. Pale skin, ice blue eyes. I was given the name Treva. My father said he heard it in Europe. Treva is an odd enough name, add in my looks and the forecast was dim. My brother David was born 5 years later- he is still stunning.

My dad beat my mom, my dad beat me, David not so much. We moved every 18 months, base to air force base. This was during Viet Nam- my dad worked on plane engines. Maybe it was the stress, maybe it was the war. He just beat what he couldn’t cope with.

I was awkward, crooked teeth, frightened of my own shadow. I lost on the gene, and compassion pool.

I never wanted to meet other fathers, or any men at all.

What saved me? Books, reading; reading saved my life. Reading gave me hope, a place to hide, solace.

I devoured them, because I couldn’t eat with my family. My father decided in 6th grade that I was getting chunky. Most evenings , he made me get the bathroom scale and weigh myself. Dinner was on the table, getting cold. I was going through puberty. Did I mention that I has cystic acne?

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If I didn’t weigh what he wanted, I didn’t eat. It was my fault, he said. “How could you do this to him?” My mom would say. By the time I was 16, my hand had been broken, lips busted , jaw bone cracked. I was told very patiently in the ER to “Try harder with your father.”

“Oh, What goes on inside our house stays here.”

When asked about my injuries, I repeated what I was told, “It was my fault.”

I did tell my high school guidance counselor about the abuse. My father’s anger was escalating. He threw a skillet at my head. I was lucky that the skillet missed. His fist didn’t. My jaw still clicks, and pops. The counselor did nothing.

No matter how Paul hit, or Jewell reinforced; I did not fit. I was in school plays, in band, youth group. My brother was starting to play sports. He had white blond hair. His skin would tan . Oh, David. (Sigh)

“What are we going to do about her?”  My dad would scream that to my mom. He had hit and bruised her till resistance was futile. My mom wouldn’t have known her own voice, or her own opinion if she had one.

The verbal abuse was worse. I knew he couldn’t beat me forever. He had to go to work, coach David’s football team. Work on our yard. (Did I mention our yard was perfect? Yes, we had a curved walkway with roses.)

But Treva, “You like me yelling at you, don’t you?” “If you would lose weight, if you were a cheerleader, if you were pretty, I would stop hitting you !”

“You are so selfish, Treva. You are so fat, and so selfish.”

A boy walked me home from youth group. My father called me a whore.

Rob kissed me good night after a date. My father called me the “C” word. I don’t know why he was abusive. If I found out today why, to what avail? Flannery O’Connor wrote, “Not to adjust our stories for someone else’s comfort.”

This is mine: Shit-storm and a Glimpse of Glitter.

I won college scholarships to schools close by but my father needed me gone. I was sent 8 hours away to Milligan College. The people I met there became family, saved my life, kept me whole. I did not know this until I tried to kill myself in 2010.

I graduated college, taught kindergarten, got married, had babies, got divorced, got breast cancer. My dad was right, you know. He said “I hate you ! No one will love you. God doesn’t love you.'” All things said from the pulpit of Paul Draper.

Breast cancer was the sign for me. Not that God hated me, but Paul Draper was right. Paul Draper was bigger than God. My brother David played college football for Vanderbilt. Did his masters at Emory. David did what Paul said.

So I began to drink, lots. Vodka looks like water, you can’t smell it.

Cosmopolitans are vodka with a tiny bit of pink. They are cute, and I am kinda “cute.” So when I drank them I got cuter.

The Bexley Monk made the best cosmopolitans ever. I started dating, some. I had sex with men more. Newly divorced, dating, breast cancer survivor, what’s a few drinks and a one night stand or two?

First off, I drank so much that I couldn’t stand.

And a one night stand is a span of hours. The walk of shame?

Remember the part about not adjusting your story for comfort? Giving a blow job to a total stranger is not a date. Whether the drink is pink or blue, its not cute when you don’t know where your clothes are. It’s worse, because you don’t know where you are, or what his name is.

You were acting out your pain, Treva !

Bullshit.

The Bexley Monk was still a bar whether it had a piano or not. I was a drunk. Lost trying to fit. Drowning.

Ask my children about their mom during her “wild oats” time. I stole my daughter’s identity so I could get a credit card. I needed tires for the car. I had people who did care I could have asked. I stole my daughter’s identity, I called my son names. How’s that vodka working now? Paul and Jewell are retired , doing very, very well. Beautiful home in the mountains of Tennessee. David married a doctor.

Paul was right about Treva.

There is a thing about the truth: you better own it all. Because if you don’t, it will crawl back somehow.

Secrets make us sick. So breast cancer hadn’t killed me, it just made me suffer, like Paul said.

I didn’t fit, I can’t fit, so I swallow 50 pills and drink a bottle of Grey Goose.

I text out to friends “I am Brave. I did it.”

Grace showed up, the invisible thread. Two friends from college and one close by called the police. I woke up three days later in Grant Hospital. The first voice I heard on the phone was my mom’s. She said I was a lying disgrace. A nurse was on the line and heard her. She came into my room and said, “Stop what you are doing, you are going to die.”

I asked her,”What do I do?”

She said, “Don’t listen to your mom ever again.”

The next call was a friend from college. He said ” Get well, we love you.”

I started going to AA (still do). Making amends to my children and friends was not easy. I was a hot mess.

Soon I found out that God didn’t hate me, and I had the world’s most awesome friends . They called, flooded my mailbox with cards, the good stuff. Therapy wasn’t easy, owning your story means all of it. I hurt and disappointed so many people. AA tells us to make things right, help others, be thankful. I started every day with thanking God aloud for something.

In 2012, my daughter had a grand mal seizure. My mom was here visiting Tabitha. While she was unconscious in the hospital, my father called from Tennessee. My mom had gone out for coffee. I answered her phone . My father was an explosion of venom and expletives. He went on about how no one could rely on me. I hung up. When I told my mom, she defended him. She said, “He was scared.”

I think that was (and still is) the truth.

Can you imagine having to gather snakes to sell so you could feed your family? Because I can’t. My dad lied about his age to get in the service to help feed his brothers and sisters. Can you imagine being that fearful of something so basic like hunger?

I don’t speak to my father. There is no need. He is not in my atmosphere. I have great pity for him. I know that fear- he passed it on. Who does a girl trust if her own father says he hates her? What do you do to find love?

Truth and grace, friends. While my child was still unconscious, I sent one text message: “Pray”. I had so many messages, my phone lit up like Christmas at Bloomingdales. How lucky and blessed. In a dark, garbage can of a situation my daughter was loved. Church, friends, college friends, people who didn’t know us, friends of friends…invisible thread of truth and grace.

Once, when I was away at college, I came home to see my brother play football. He was a senior in high school, all state defensive lineman. I went up to sit with my parents, in the roped off section. A gentleman said, “Honey, You can’t be here. This is just for athletic booster families.” I introduced myself to him, his face looked dumbstruck.

He said “I didn’t know the Draper’s had another child.”

I didn’t fit, but I didn’t disappear. I don’t have to fit any puzzle except mine.

My parents were horrific to me. I wasn’t much better to myself. I had to learn a lot. I also couldn’t forgive myself, if I didn’t forgive them. Forgiveness is not about giving a pass. Forgiveness is about humanity.

If I wish ill will or maleficence on someone, what does that say about me? I want you to be in pain, is what that says. I don’t want to know people who wish pain on others . I heard a lady in AA attempt to explain forgiveness to a room of newly sober people. She said “It’s wishing that rotten SOB peace and getting on with your life.” I love that.

You cant be well and hold hatred in your soul. You will fit no where, hate will bloat your being. I do not excuse and I do not hide. Forgiveness, ah!

This is my story. Whoever, wherever you are, find your voice. I have started writing. I get paid a pittance, but I get paid to write. Don’t know where to start? Just show up ! No one in my tribe of friends fit the mold. We are people, not jello, damn it!

I still don’t fit, even with Spanx on. That’s the good stuff, friends.

Treva Draper-Imler: a Lip-Stick Junkie, Do Gooder Liberal, See Small Things and knows They are Mighty, Loves Jesus, Has a Swear Jar, In Love With Sting Since 1978….

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52 Comments

  • Reply Brooke Lee Smith December 28, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I loved every bit of this. I loved the honesty, the realness and relations that I can find in your story.
    I will be following!
    Xoxo

    Brooke

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      It is an honor to be featured. It is humbling to be understood. I thank you

  • Reply Anonymous December 28, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Your writing has me in tears this morning. Between my own story and those of my friends, your words are the truth of what I’m working through. Thank you for writing this.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      believe me…you are brave! thanking you from Ohio! peace my friend

  • Reply I Want To Share Something With You | Teacups of Teardrops December 28, 2014 at 8:12 am

    […] felt that way this morning reading this post on The Manifest-Station. Go read it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s raw, honest, and […]

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 29, 2014 at 10:16 am

      TEACUPS OF TEARDROPS…..You are a joy! Thank you so much. Every story matters. I am pleased to be in your atmosphere. Ever True, peace..Treva Draper-Imler

  • Reply Laura Dekkers December 28, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Loved, this piece. Thank you so much for telling this story.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 28, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      Laura, thank-you…ever so much.

  • Reply lisa December 28, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    I can’t stop crying. Amazing and honest, I send the author so much love and a high five for surviving.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 28, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      High Five back at you!

  • Reply brenda December 28, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    I now know what courage is~~ Your courage amazes me!

  • Reply Alaina December 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks, so much for writing. I don’t know how you do it, but your realness is so empowering. I think it’s the most real piece I have ever read, and there is something very relatable about that, whether or not our experiences are similar. Thank you.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 28, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      I am in awe. Value means much..thank you.

  • Reply justjeannie December 28, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I lived your life. My parents were horrific to me as well. I am now 52 and still not accepted by my mom, I never will be but, that’s okay. One day recently, we were talking and she said “I wasn’t that bad” She has no clue what she did to me. I am a survivor, I am still here, I will never be normal, I will never love me, I cannot shut off the tape recorder that plays in my head when I am given a new task, but, I sing over it and do it anyway, I am not stupid, I am not ugly, I am not useless……..I am justjeannie and I am a survivor.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 28, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Keep writing your own song and publish the lyrics! I am going to sing along!

  • Reply Ewa December 28, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    You are beautiful Treva! Love your piece! You are a rock star!

  • Reply Barbara Potter December 28, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Your story is so powerful and raw. Thank you for sharing it. I know the feeling of being told that you are hated and no one will ever like you. Boy does that stick. Believe me I know what it does to you. I am so glad you found your path . Much love to you.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 28, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Ewa, thank you lovely friend!

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Barbara…and everyone of you… KEEP TELLING YOUR STORIES! Cheer one another on! Cheer for yourself the loudest. Thank you…Peace, Treva.

  • Reply Peter Tóth December 29, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Beautiful story. Thank you.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 29, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Thank you Peter..Thanks to Jennifer for posting it, believing in us all…there is much to be grateful for.

      Peace, Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply Kristen Delphos December 29, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Hi Treva,
    You are a beautiful soul and you have a true gift with words. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Kristen

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Kristen…Thank you for your time spent with my words. I am pleases you are in my atmosphere.

      Peace,

      Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply Tabitha Douzat December 29, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Great story! You are brave!

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 29, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      I thank you! I am ordinary, but my tribe is extraordinary… Ever humbled by your kindness…peace, Treva Draper-imler

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 30, 2014 at 10:01 am

      My daughter’s name is Tabitha. I am grateful for your sweet words.

  • Reply Adrienne December 29, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you, Treva, for sharing your story. My childhood was filled with lots of worry & fear & pain….inflicted by a parent who was suffering from their own childhood. It has been a lot to overcome, & like others mention here, memory is selective & history seems to be re-wrtitten. It helps to know I am not alone & inspires me to continue my own work on myself. Blessings to everyone here who shared.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 30, 2014 at 10:00 am

      You are not alone, ever. I am proud to know you.

  • Reply Danielle December 30, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Wow! Powerful, raw story. At times I felt my own shame as I read on imagining how you must have been feeling at peak times. Lost. Feeling Unloved. Desperate for acceptance. I can feel your strength and healing in your words. So moved by your story. I hope I find my happy ending also. Bless you. xx

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 30, 2014 at 9:59 am

      Believe in you. I do! Thank You..Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply deb December 30, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    I wish I were as brave as you.
    I had always been afraid.
    Your strength is empowering.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 30, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Deb,
      I am afraid too! Every day, I think am I good enough, strong enough…Promise me this, try each day saying ” I am enough”! Then show up to whatever it is. Take a cooking class, take a walk..give back to a stranger. You are enough my dear! I promise if you take that first step, you can do it! Stand up and say “I AM ENOUGH!”…. friend me on FB if you would like…

      You are Enough, Splendidly Enough.

      Peace,

      Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply Alis December 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    23 minutes to New Year in London. I have waited a long time for the final piece of my healing puzzle and here it is, your beautiful story. I can begin January 1st 2015 cleansed and hopeful.

    My father died two years ago and I never got to tell him or my mother how their verbal and physical abuse caused chaos in my life. I have found much gold in the darkness of my childhood not least the ability to be a loving mother to my own daughter, vowing every step of the way not to recreate the shattering mistakes my parents made.

    If you have space in your tribe, I’d love to join.

  • Reply Treva Draper-imler December 31, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Dear Alis,

    I can not begin to thank you. My words seem ineffective at best. I can not believe that a girl from Ohio has touched a girl’s life in London. I believe with all my heart in the invisible thread of Grace. My tribe works because we are all not crazy at the same time. Join, my dear, you are already a part of it. I wish you such an amazing year filled with joy. Grow, Be Fierce, Wage Peace….Happy New Year, Treva Draper-imler

    I am on Facebook under the same name

    • Reply Alis January 1, 2015 at 8:52 am

      Thank you so much, Treva. I will find you on Facebook.
      Much love,
      Alis

      • Reply Treva Draper-imler January 1, 2015 at 2:19 pm

        Alis,

        I cant stop thinking of your message…we can change the world…so pleased you reached out. Promise to find me on Facebook…

        Peace in Abundance,

        Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply Caroline January 3, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Thank you Treva for your raw honesty. I can barely type as I am trying to keep tears falling…I can barely see what I am writing. You opened something in me that I tried to keep so far away…tears just keep falling. I have been rejected by my mother before my very own first breath. I had to get her out of my life so I could live my life as normal as it can be. I tried to be so different with my kids. They don’t (still today) understand the depth of the pain my mom caused me…and I am grateful for that. A child should never understand this pain. Now, the pain is getting better to live with but I am still struggling with guilt. When does ever go away? I wish I knew. I hope I can, one day, forgive. I know I will eventually have to, for my own sake…but right now, I just can’t. I can’t and I won’t. Its just not that simple. I have not reach to curve yet. I still have a long walk to do before I get there…And thank you for being with me while I walk. Please walk again with me?

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler January 3, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      Caroline…you arent alone! Tell your story, find people who love you! Do what you can for you everyday. Put on your oxygen mask first, if you cant breath no one else can. Fine me on Facebook, if you like…you deserve joy!

      Peace,
      Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply Ginger January 3, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Treva, I’m in recovery right now. I didn’t have the same daemons as yourself, but, never
    the less, they hurt me to the core. At 57 years old I’m looking for some peace and hope.
    I read your article this morning upon first arising and found a little hope.
    Thank you SO much for that.
    Sisters in recovery.
    Love, Ginger

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler January 3, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      Ginger,

      Age only matters in wine and cheese. I am 52. You deserve peace and hope…You!

      Peace&Love,

      Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply Alissa Leenher January 3, 2015 at 10:03 am

    A stunning piece. Empathy, even though. Strength, even though. Honesty, even though.
    You are so many things, beautiful things.
    You chose forgiveness which is the strongest,bravest thing you could do.
    “Misfit” has a negative connotation, yet in this piece, it is a badge of honor. Instead of the path set before you of abusing others and stealing power from the weak, you chose to be different.
    I would hug you and cheer with you if I could. Thank you for this.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler January 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Alissa,

      Let us cheer together then. You are so wonderful for posting… I am very ordinary, with an extraordinary tribe.

      Peace,

      Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply Stephanie Crowley January 3, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Treva, WHOA is the only word I can come up with to describe how I feel after reading your story. Thank you for your honesty, your bravery, and living your truth. I am forever changed after reading about your incredible journey of survival and forgiveness. With deepest love and gratitude.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler January 3, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Wow! I cant believe this is me. Thank you for your kind words Change is a wonderful thing. Thank you for coming along with me.

      Peace,

      Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply BEcoming ME January 3, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Gratitude bubbles from my depths for your story.
    Your honesty.
    Your truth.
    Your lines…secrets make us sick…& …threads of truth & grace… Resonate so fully with my journey – which I trust is truly humanities journey.
    You are a blessing.
    Holding you in light & peace.

    Thank you.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler January 3, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      Thank you..the road runs both ways..I am pleased to share your journey. Thank Thank you,

      Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply Ashley January 3, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Your story touch me so deep within my soul. I have had constant battles with figuring out how to forgive my parents for the damage they’ve done to me. I’m going to be twenty-two years old and I seriously cannot get over the amount of pain I suffered all my life. I honestly give you so much props for pushing through treva. I didn’t go through what you did, but we all go through our own hardships. I do have to say the one thing we have in common is being told no one is going to love me. I have began to believe it. How do you get over parents who will never say sorry? How do you deal with that? How do you eventually forgive? I feel like I’m going to go mad If I don’t begin to get rid of these demons. Thank you again for your story. Makes me feel like I’m not alone in my thoughts.

  • Reply Treva Draper-imler January 3, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Ashley,

    Find a safe place to put your words down. Journal, even. Tell someone. Secrets make us sick. I promise it will get better. You deserve Joy! Friend me on Facebook, if you would like.

    peace,

    treva draper-imler

  • Reply Afton June 2, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    My sister Autumn just told my family about you and shared the link to this. She was so affected she wanted to spend some more time thinking about your story before writing much more to us but wanted us to know about it and how amazing you are to carry on and your attitude. We really never do know what others are going through, it blows my mind that you experienced so much pain and horrible actions and heartache in your life, I can’t really fathom it all. I had a hard time reading past the part about your dad in the beginning, made me sick to my stomach thinking there are children that go through things like that. I wish so desperately that I could know who the people are that are around me that are suffering like that so I could lend an ear or help in some way. Since I don’t, I’ll use this as a good reminder to know that we never know what others have gone through and what their story is, to always try to show compassion and kindness. I’m incredibly moved by your desires and progress in forgiving and finding peace, your story will stay with me. I’ll keep you and others that have commented in my prayers.

    • Reply Treva Draper-imler June 3, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      Thank you is not enough. Humbly and most heartfelt, I am thankful to be in your atmosphere.

      Peace,

      Treva Draper-imler

  • Reply Gayle Tabor July 24, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Treva,
    Just read your story again. I’m so proud of you! And so blessed that our paths crossed all those years ago in Sutton Hall.
    Onward and upward, my friend! Always onward and upward.

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