“Running in Heels,” by Mary A. Perez, Chart House Press, LLC, 2015, paperback

By the time Mary was 4 years old, she knew her family was dirt poor. Hungry everyday and every night, she was even hungrier for love and acceptance. When her parents divorced, Daddy took her brother and her mother got Mary. A conniving neighbor moved in and her mother and her live in boyfriend, Jimmy, left Mary home alone to enjoy bar hopping.

She remembered stealing the stray cats cold cuts. Even after her father began sending money it went to buy liquor. When Mary was 7, her mother birthed a baby sister. Mary became Anna’s “mommy.” She finally found someone to love who loved her back. Because of  Jimmy’s neglect, 2-year-old Anna was killed by a car.

Mary’s happiest days were when her grandparents took her home with them. But her mother would take Mary back to take care of herself. Her grandmother fixed regular meals and taught her their strong faith in God.

As an innocent teenager, Mary became infatuated with Donny, who was twice her age. They married against her family’s advice. She found herself right back in the same life she had grown up in. Donny turned out to be a mean drunk and they moved around the country. Mary was trapped in the marriage with three children and a 10th-grade education.

She went through the motions of dealing with Donny’s alcoholism, caring for her girls and keeping house while trying to stay sane. She was the epitome of insanity: doing the same thing, expecting different results.

Most of Mary’s life was anarchy. She recognized that her only hope was to forgive herself and everyone who had mistreated her. She found that she was a better person because of what she had endured as a child.

JoAn Watson Martin is an educator.

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