Jannette Blair, author of “The Tears Behind my Smile” shares, life lessons, she learned from her long-life journey of an, abandoned, girl and then an, abused woman, who faced challenges in every walk of her life and the strength she gains from each experience she suffers.
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Life lessons from abandonment
The book, The Tears Behind my Smile is a long-life journey of an, abandoned, girl who faces challenges in every walk of her life and the strength she gains from each experience she suffers. It is not an autobiography with an ordinary beginning and a predictable ending; instead, the book depicts a series of emotions occurring in the author’s life and how she alters herself from a self-pitying girl into a strong, resilient woman. It will enlighten the readers on not to depend on anyone and become the superhero in their own story. Jannette shares the, life lessons, she learned along the way
Myrna: Janette, please give us some context of your, life story, and the, life lessons, you learned along the way of the, abandoned, girl becoming a superhero. Fill us in on the, story of your life. .
Jannette: I was born in Jamaica, and just a little it’s a small community in one of the smaller parishes. And while growing up, I didn’t know a mother. I was always wondering, who is my mother? Where’s my mother and why have I not seen one? And so, it was it was a hard life. I went through where I had tons of step mothers, who was not really mothering material at all.
While growing up I was the, abandoned, girl. I was not allowed a certain person’s house because this man had a beef going with my father; they had a fight and he decided, okay, this child can never step foot into my house and this child will never eat food from my house. And so, there was a time when my sisters would hide food around the house to feed me and I’m talking when I was a baby. I would stay outside the gate, just looking at all the others children playing, but I couldn’t play with them.
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I felt like nobody’s kid abandoned by my mother
I was like I was nobody’s kid. The, abandoned, kid that nobody wanted. I remember one day getting a small cup of tea and a piece of bread. And I looked around and this man was coming. And he said if you put that bread to your mouth, I am going to slap you. I was so afraid so I just stood there shaking. He came over he took the cup and bread from me and poured the tea on the ground. Now I am fighting fears, I can’t even cry because I would get a whipping. one of my, life lessons, was not to cry when you are hurt.
After that my father brought in a woman to help look after me. And she was even worse. She hated me. I remember one night this lady that was supposed to be taking care of me lit my favorite dress on fire out of spite.
Myrna: That is an amazing story of cruelty to a child. I’m understanding is that your dad was looking after you and you didn’t have a mom and we know that women or men or whoever is the step child is you have the Cinderella story where they don’t want to treat the other person’s child well. It’s a common occurrence in the Caribbean.
That behavior is not that prevalent in North America because you always hear about these blended families. The father has four kids and he married a woman with four kids and they live like the Brady Bunch. So, I understand the women treating you badly. But I don’t understand this guy that was so cruel to you that didn’t want you to eat at this house. Who was that person? Do you remember who that was? What was the, life lessons, you learnt from this event?
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Life Lessons from growing up without a mom
Jannette: Yes, until this very day, I still don’t go close to him and he’s still alive. That guy was the stepfather of my sibling. And so, what had happened? So, I became the fat that he used to fry my father. And he transferred the grudge against my dad on me.
Myrna: I hope he’s suffering today because you know all that bad karma. Why would you hate a small child? That is that is a despicable thing to do. I don’t even understand the woman who was supposed to be your mother and set your dress on fire, because she wanted to hurt you. Wow. Now I’m very interested to hear how you transitioned from this cruelty into adulthood. Did you ever find your mom?
Jannette: Yeah, she didn’t want me. So, it’s not like I didn’t have a mother. She didn’t want me, she, abandoned, me. She was mad at my dad for not marrying her. And so, when her mom heard that my dad refused to marry her, her mom came and took her and my other siblings, they left me. I was the fourth child but at that time she had five children. So, she took the others and left me.
After going through so many different step mothers, I finally found one who was good to me and she was murdered in front of me when I was 15.
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I witnessed my step mom being murdered
Myrna: Oh, my goodness, your story keeps getting worse. What happened?
Jannette: They came knocking on the door one evening and I told her not to open the door because we had a blackout that evening and there was no light. So, she didn’t open the door. But they used someone who she knew to come and knock on the door saying hey, I need your help. But something within me was saying something’s wrong. They fired one shot through the window and the bullet hit her in her mouth and she was died at my feet.
Myrna: Wow, what was the reason?
Jannette: She had a witnessed a robbery and so she could have identified them, so they killed her.
Jannette: When I was born, I think I lived a rough life, I also think life was hard throughout my entire life. But I was able to put the pieces together and laugh about stuff. And when I was told by my mother that I would not become anything, I said no I can’t believe that person.
My mother told me I would never amount to anything
I asked my mother to help me with school and she said, you will not become anything, so I will not spend my money on you. So, I had to pick myself up and ask one of her sisters if I could move in with her. She said, yes. She took me with her to her job while she was working, and I was the one doing most of the work, but I didn’t care. Because I saw a shining light. I see your brighter days ahead. Plus, I’m no longer in this house with my mother. Yes, another of, life lessons, was that you had to work if you wanted to be successful in life. I have to work; but it was a better aim for me to get to what I want to become. I came to America in the year 2000.
Myrna: Was life better for you in America?
Jannette: Yeah, it was better, I was working. I met a guy and at first, I thought, oh, I’m not going to get into a relationship. By this time, I’d had a daughter. I dated this guy for almost two years. I was traveling, I went to Indiana. I spent a year and four months there. I went back to Jamaica. And then I came back and I went to Mississippi and I spend maybe six weeks in Mississippi. It was not for me
Myrna: Right? Okay. Yes, down south. So, what happened to this guy?
Abandoned girls become abused women
Jannette: Okay, he sent me a ticket to come to Las Vegas and I visit Las Vegas. I decided to stay and got a job within the first week. But then as my luck would have it, my work permit expired so I couldn’t work.
So, now I can no longer work. And he did a 360 switch. I can’t work and I don’t have any money coming in. I needed to get married, I need papers, blah, blah, blah. You knew that I couldn’t stay in the country without proper papers.
So, he said, okay, let’s do this. I really don’t want to lose you. So, let’s just get married and get your Green Card, but that was not true. Because we got married, I think it was October 28 2001 and by Thanksgiving one month later, I was beaten and kicked out of the apartment that I paid for. I was taken to the hospital and then I ended up in a shelter for domestic violence. The, life lesson, here is than men want you to be dependent on them.
Myrna: My goodness. All right. I can’t wait to hear the end of this story. You’re still in America. So, what happened?
Jannette: So, there was a restraining order filed against him. Of course, I don’t have my, Green Card, and my husband started calling me because he wanted me to drop the charges. He’s promising me everything that he never did before. I tried to drop the domestic abuse case, but after the OJay Simpson case, they didn’t allow me to drop the case. So, the domestic violence case went to court and my husband had to go to anger management class for a few months and he was mad about that. So now he’s not hitting me anymore. But the abuse turned to verbal and emotional abuse.
Deciding to stay married with abuse
Myrna: So, you guys got back together. You’re still married?
Jannette: Right. Because I needed this paperwork, my, Green Card. So, when the, abuse, wasn’t physical anymore, it became mental. And so, I have to talk myself through days and nights. I had a childhood friend; I would call her every day, every night. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t cry, a night that I didn’t cry. My husband was just ruthless.
But fast forward to everything else, I was able to get my, Green Card. I stuck it out. I became silent to everything that was going on. It didn’t have a say in much of what was going on. I learned to drive because I couldn’t drive and I had to pay to learn to drive, he refused to teach me. One day after I learnt to drive, I was taking the bus to work so I asked if I could drive one of his cars. He had 2 cars, and he wanted to charge me to use his car.
Myrna: Wow. I can see why your book is called Tears Behind My Smile! So, yeah, that is an amazing story. What made you decide to write the book? You’ve gone through these horrible things, you were born into that situation with your mom and dad, then you went into, abusive relationships, but you know something in life that’s basically how it happens. You know what I mean? When you are not nurtured as a child, for some reason we also get into these, abusive relationships, as an adult.
Writing the book Tears behind my smile
Your husband was obviously a, narcissist. And you attracted him, narcissists, are attracted to people that they think they can abuse. He chose you.
Jannette: One of the reasons I wanted to write the book, I know that I am not alone in this. I am not the only person going through what I was going through. And for me if I can help someone to say, don’t take your life, because sometimes people kill themselves because they were going through certain abuse and they don’t know where to turn. And I said, if I can help somebody to let them know, hey, you’re not alone, you’re stronger than you think you really are. Now, so get up, pick yourself up.
Jannette: Yes, and I tell them to turn to God. With all that was going you have to hang on to Jesus. Because most of the time, you have no one else. Believe in God and yes, he will help get you through.