When I met Anita I just felt that I had met a woman with the most incredible amount of love in her heart. So full of colour and creativity, her strength of character shines and illuminates the love and beauty of a life that had seen its fair share of darkness. Anita has published her own biographical book, "Blood on the Mirror"- True story from the streets to redemption, where Anita has bravely laid out her life, and speaks of her saving grace, finding the fellowship of christian church, as well as her creative practise.
To celebrate the opening of Us Projects first exhibition I am honoured to share Anita's amazing full transcript from our book.
Blood on the Mirror can be purchased here: The AM Foundation Facebook Page
"Us" book of stories will be available on this website soon.
It was really, really, hard for me growing up because I didn't know who I was. I just felt like everything I did was wrong. I remember seeing my mum and dad fighting a lot, and that just became my normal. We moved homes a lot, well they were meant to be homes but they weren't. They were just different places that we were in. I remember play fighting heaps with my brother, and that was just the daily process.
When dad left, that's when I really believe my protection on earth left, because that's when I re-member people started touching me. I remember the first guy, he was a friend of the family and he wanted me to sit on his knee, so I did what I was told and then he put his hand inside my panties and started playing with me. I just remember this huge rush of excitement, but at the same time there was another huge rush which came with the thought, ‘you’re dirty, you're a slut…’ Those were the words that I had heard, you know? I just thought I was so naughty. I was so bad. I was so confused. That became our little secret. I was left with this insatiable desire within myself that I couldn't fulfil. I also didn't know how to deal with the self-hatred that was coming in at the same time. I began wanting to feel the huge pleasure that was contradicted with the feelings of self disgust. Huge pleasure but also pain and confusion.
Then it happened again with another friend of the family. And again with the boys at school....And then I started really wanting it. I really didn't know what was going on in my world. I got to the point where, after another shift from home, and another school, and more and more chaos, somewhere in it all I told my mum. She didn't believe me. She slapped me across the face and called me names. It made me think, wow, I deserved it ? After that I started to really hate myself. I really believed that I was the one in the wrong. And I was completely filthy. So I just decided to keep it all secret. After that, I just acted out. I became that girl behind the sheds. I started really enjoying it, I was just having sex as much as I could. I was only nine, I was just messing around with whoever came along. It was just my normality, I couldn't see there was anything wrong with what I was doing on the surface, but deep down in my heart I knew it was wrong.
I just pushed it to the side and dealt with it, because I wanted so badly that feeling of satisfaction. I just couldn't seem to get it from anything else. There was more shifting houses, more different men in mums life, more accusations. We ended up moving to the country, and I just thought I was in heaven on earth. I was so happy, but at the same time I ended up going down to the river and burning myself with a magnifying glass. And in the process, I discovered what real pain was. The exhilaration that went with it was insurmountable. At age 12 I started cutting which somehow made me feel freer than the effects from burning myself. The most freeing thing I could do was see my own blood. We ended up getting ripped away from that home.
Mum had a new relationship. I couldn't under-stand why mum was with this new guy, He was crazy and creepy, I didn't understand what was going on, I hated my life. He would parade around the house in these ugly white jockeys, yelling and calling us names. He chased me with a machete once, he was just a real arsehole. Once he stabbed our cat at the dinner table. He used to beat up mum a lot. She would always be knitting, and doing stuff for him, and he would always just destroy it and unravel all her beautiful work. He hated us kids, but he never actually physically hurt me. The emotional abuse on the other hand was devastating . I had gone from heaven at the farm, straight to hell.
Here I am 13 years old, and I have just had a shot gun pointed at my face for fun by him, aside from all this he occasionally used to make me sleep with him and mum. One night I was in the caravan outside when he came out and said, “The fucking bitch has gone, you're going to have to sleep with me tonight.” I was stalling and I said,“Can I watch Dallas first? I remember trying to watch Dallas, but I could see him in the corner of my eye, standing there in his jockeys, and he began to start smashing things. He was freaking out and getting things into a big pile in the lounge floor. He just kept saying, “That bitch, that slut, that whore.” I was scared and I said to him, “Can I go get my brother and sister? Can I leave now?” And he just said to me, “Get the fuck outta here.” I went to their room and I grabbed them, we went out to the caravan. He took all of mums stuff, And put them in a big pile on the front lawn, and set them all on fire.
All I can remember is, the next day mum was back, and we were standing on the front lawn looking at everything we owned, destroyed and everything smelt like stagnant smoke. After that I ended up getting separated from my brother and sister, I was sent to my Nan. Over the next two years I was sent to my fathers, my mothers and nans so many times and I just went chaotic. I was just becoming more and more rebellious within myself, I just wanted to be free from all the shit. I hated life. I just felt like everyone in the world was lying. People were lying all the time. At the time I was on to my 18th school. I ran away after I smacked mum over one night. She had asked me what I thought of her boyfriend, and I had said, “I think he's a wanker, and he's going to rip you off.” She punched me. I went nuts, I just knocked her to the floor and just booted her.
And I just kept booting her and booting her. I was so angry. I just stormed out, and from that point on I pretty much left to be free, and began life on the streets for several years. I was 15, going from the streets to some random home to the streets to different cities. Going from guy to guy to guy to guy, and occasionally girls. I started drawing about all the twisted things I saw in this world and I started drawing all of the hate that I had within me. During that time I had abortions, I tried to commit suicide, it was just a never ending cycle of destruction. I could still never find any satisfaction anywhere. I got myself immersed within the punk scene and I just loved it. I love the realness of those people. They became my friends, and they became my family. In 1990, with my boyfriend, who was a singer in a hardcore punk band in New Plymouth, we were coming back around the mountain after a gig one night, and a corner just came out of nowhere.
I took the full impact. I died.I was bought back to life, I ended up with temporary paralysis and mild Stroke, (nothing mild about that) I had severe multiple brain injuries and apparently I was lucky to be alive (I sure didn't feel lucky). I had to learn to walk and talk all over again. It was insanity plus. I couldn't talk for over a month. They had transferred me from Taranaki Hospital to Auckland to be with my mum, that in itself had its own dramas. I remember being in this room in Auckland Hospital on my own when all these memories started coming back. They were memories that I just hadn't had before. I had purposefully blocked them out of my head, and out of my heart. But here in the hospital they all started flooding back. I started thinking, ‘Oh my god maybe I really am crazy’. It all seemed to fit like a big jigsaw puzzle but I couldn't work out why. Then I just started seeing holes in people's discussions, I saw details changing. I started noticing things going missing, everything seemed just so much more alive for me, and yet surreal, but I couldn't explain it.
The thing I guess I should mention was that before the accident I felt like I was just starting to get to a good place. I hated myself, but it was starting to get better. I had a boyfriend and everything was going sweet. I had found a place for myself within the New Plymouth hard-core scene and I had just put in a claim with ACC about my sexual abuse. After the accident I was back to hating myself. I was back in new Plymouth and I didn't understand these people any more. I wanted what they had. All of these people smiling and laughing and having fun. Now all of a sudden I was watching everything and thinking, ‘this isn't right’. I could see so many holes and so much hypocrisy. All I could see was what I believed to be people hurting each other. I couldn't understand what was going on and I just started lashing out. One nightI just ended up getting so angry I smashed my boyfriend in the head with a bottle. I smashed myself up. I smashed my room up. It's just the kind of thing I used to do. I just kept running. I just kept running and running and running. In my head and my heart I just didn't know how to fix anything. I tried to commit suicide again and even that didn't work. I just wanted to die. I was out for blood, but it was my blood. I just hated myself so much and nothing I did was ever good enough.
I ended up in the cells a few times. I always remember this Noddy song, “What have I done? What have I done? Everything I do is wrong…I can't seem to put a foot right. It seems like I don't belong.” And that was my Mantra. My life just seemed so crazy you know? 18 schools, 4 abortions, 2 miscarriages, not to mention prostitution, drug addiction, it was drama after drama. I thought I was trying so hard but I was just no good at anything. I was a dominatrix once for several months, I sucked at it. I tried to be a lesbian, I was no good at that either. I sucked at being a junkie. I was put on a methadone program, I really hated it. I saw all these people and I just keep thinking, I'm not like them. I absolutely hated who I was, and I believed it at all stemmed from the sexual abuse. From being violated. I believe that is where the root took hold.
The root of pain, hate, lies, the roots of shame, guilt and condemnation. One night, years later, my boyfriend was smashing up my house. He had planned to burgle my house and I had caught him out. So he was going crazy smashing everything up. I just got so sick of all this bullshit I just grabbed the biggest knife I could get and I went to kill him. And the bastard decided to move. The knife ended up just going straight through his arm. All I got was $150 fine. I still couldn't see how lucky or 'Blessed' I was, I continued to go insane. But what happened sometime after it all, I began to believe that all along I was being protected. But for what I didn't know. So much shit has happened all through my life, but when you look back each time, I was being looked after. I could have really gone down for that, when I stabbed my ex, but I didn't. When I had my third car accident I could've died. But I didn't. I could have gotten cancer, I could have gotten Aids.
I could have, but I didn't. I met a guy called David one day when I was waiting for a bus. He ended up taking me for a ride in his car and started talking about this guy called Jesus. I was thinking, ‘Oh my god!’. I couldn't wait to get out of the car. But for some reason, I stayed and talked to him. One thing led to another, I gave my life and my heart to Jesus Christ (ongoing journey that one) and here I am 16 years later, happily married, full time artist, children's illustrator, author, mum and loving helping others to find their potential and purpose in life. I have my son back after losing him to my family. I have managed to turn it all around after realising that nothing that happened to me is ever going to be wasted. There has been times, back before I began to discover who I am and where my identity lies, where I had been sleeping on pavements, or in the hallway of a mens hostel because I was that desperate for companionship.
I look back at those times now and think I could've been raped, been beaten or killed. I have been around when friends have been murdered or committed suicide and I just thought that this was just a normal part of life. I want to show others that it is possible to come alive after death and devastation, that there is Hope. It's seemed like a lifetime to heal and relearn to live life, to love life and it’s been a long hard road to get that contentment. But that's where my relationship with Christ has helped me. It's just a really real relationship. I have this little saying: “Love was the most difficult choice to make. But when I have exhausted all of my options, my hurt becomes hope.” I've had to forgive myself.
Forgiving myself was the hardest of all. One of the worst parts of being a Christian for me, is the music. In the punk scene I love the raw-ness, the realness, the intensity. At church it's always these ‘pop’ songs you know? Here I am at church, worshipping Jesus, and thinking to myself, this music is dreadful, but I love the words and heart. In 2010 I heard about an American group of Christ lovers calling themselves the Whosoever’s. A lot of the guys are ex junkies too. They are gang members, they are bikers, they are band members all covered in tattoos. They are ex prostitutes, hurting real down to earth 'grass roots' people. The music is awesome. It's alternative, it's hard core, but it's Jesus focused. I found I'm not alone here on this crazy planet, I fell deeper in love with Jesus, His Holy Spirit & crazy wild people who want to make a difference.
I have a huge passion for the likeminded people, the marginalised, the ones that most people look down upon. They are the real ones for me, you know? I believe I am now, who I was created to be. I'm using where I have been and what I know to help others. I know the hurt that other people are going through. People that are real, people that are raw, and people that are relevant are my people. That's what I love about this project. I have huge admiration for women like Megan who own who she is and where she's come from, but desires to be so much more, to help others like her, like me, and possibly you, to shine their lights, for Such A Time As This.