Jackie Rizo – Fear

Here is the moving and vulnerable story from Jackie Rizo on childhood violation, loneliness, shame, and forgiveness. She told it at Tenx9’s October theme “Fear.”

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.” 

― Yann MartelLife of Pi

As the summer night began, she gracefully entered the home as a young, teenage girl.  Her long curls bounced back and forth as her and her friends danced the night away with Dr Dre, Meatloaf, & Ace of Base.  It was a party of firsts for her.  Her first time to be at a party with no supervision.  A party where the boys shot guns & where many drank alcohol.

It was the party that changed her course of life.

She was your average, Small Town Girl, well-known in her community for her role in sports.  Her family was poor, probably the only ‘somewhat’ homeless family in the town.  But it didn’t stop her from trying to rise above it, instead she hid her home life from the world.  No one needed to know that she lived in a house with no utilities, no food, and an absent father.

As the night grew late, she was escorted into a room by her boyfriend.  He was clearly drunk and she was clearly naive.  As quickly as the door shut, his arms restricted her with each heartbeat.  She was forced to give him something that was never his to begin with.

And from downstairs, she could hear the Eagles sing “Desperado” while her tears puddled the bed sheets.

She left the house much differently than she had arrived.  Out the front door, there was a new road awaiting her.  It was dark, lonely, and expressed itself just as she had felt.

And that is when she took her first steps….steps that led her down the road of despair.

Small town living is rather beautiful.  A place kind of like “Cheers”.  You know, “where everyone knows your name & their always glad that you came.”

But, that quickly changes when a girl looses her virginity at the age of 14.

No, it is at that moment that it becomes a brutal place to live.

Rumors spread quickly about her.  Feeling helpless, she said nothing.  For it was far too late for her defense.

The years passed and her void became a black hole, sucking her into a life spinning out of control.

She was the type of girl that masked her hurts with drugs, alcohol, and a handful of partners.  One that tried hard to do right, but kept filling the void with instant gratification that only left her soul famished.

Shame laid heavily on her head.  Her eyes felt comfort in the floor.  Her best friend, well, we all know her by the name of “Loneliness”.

She was the type of girl that taunted trouble & that trouble loved to chase.  And if I’m honest, there were times that I, too, would bask in her careless spirit.  From spotlight parties to the country back roads, we’d dance & drink the cares away.

But, in reality…..I absolutely hated her and all that she represented.  She found her defense in her false reality.  Her lies were told out of self-preservation.  She would cover the truth for fear of being exposed, alone, and unloved.    Hope, well, you wouldn’t see hope shine on her path.

She spent her entire life in hiding.  A place where only loneliness knew of her childhood, her abuse, & her poor choices.  She would throw the memories in her prison cell, lock the door, and pretend to forget.

But we all know, no one can run from their past.


I can no longer run.

From my bathroom mirror, I see her eyes stare back at me yearning to be free.  She silently cries and I tell her to stop.  Her tears are not wanted here.

This is MY here.  I created my “now”.

It is a place where I single-handedly laid each & every thick, cement brick, in order to mask the screams of a 14 year old girl crying out for her innocence to return.

A place to hide past & present mistakes.

A place for this wife to throw her shame.

I pushed the old me in that cell & tried to keep her locked up for over 13 years.  But she is an escape artist.  Her bruising is permanent and smells of filth.  She is a carrier of shame, regret, and bad experiences.  I threw her in there because I didn’t want to look at her.  I didn’t think she deserved to exist.

It’s funny how the truth will set you free regardless if you ask it to or not.

This past year has been a long one for my marriage.

My husband knows her, my past.  He has fought for me to bring her in the light, to expose every hidden corner within my soul for healing to be found.  But to do so, would mean that I would have to tell him the present truth…. I am still her.

If exposed, I just knew he would see my lies, my loneliness, my void, & my shame.  He’d know that I still hide & that my heart desired to look for something outside of marriage.

For 13 years of marriage, fear was winning.  If he knew, I was convinced he’d leave me.  He’d stop loving me.

So one by one, I laid false bricks around my inner world & waged an unnecessary war to protect it.

But to my surprise, he fought back harder, uncovering me until there was nothing left to uncover.

I spent years in fear of losing the one person who loves me with such tenderness.  The one willing and desiring to love all of me.

I’ve heard it said, “Love conquers fear.”

Not in a fairy tale kind of way.  But in a way that gives a hurting husband strength to reach out in forgiveness to his broken wife.


After all this time, I finally realize that there was never just one road awaiting me that night back in 1993 or any night thereafter.

For many years, I blinded myself from this simple fact.

I continually chose to find comfort in my own despair.

Missing a road where hope is found.

Where honesty reigns.

And where forgiveness wears no chains.

Jacques Sirois – The First Time

Here is Jacques’ brave, compelling story from January’s Tenx9. This story was featured in The Tennessean.

Before I get to “My First Time” I need to give you a little background of my life. Born a Yankee from VT in a French Canadian heritage , the 8th child in a family of 13 which include 9 sisters, 3 brothers, living in a house that had only ONE BATHROOM. Brought up Roman Catholic until the age of 21 when I committed the Mortal Sin of leaving the Church to become a Protestant. Living a very safe and uneventful life until I turned 58 when everything changed.

  • 58 I decided to retire from a job I worked at for 39 years, sell the Homestead that had been in my family for over a hundred years
  • 59 decided to leave VT. and move to Franklin, TN. a 1,000 miles away
  • 60 got my first and only Tattoo, at this point my family really started to get worried!
  • 61 decided to got my ears pierced.
  • 62 walked my first 5K race, and bought an airplane ticket.
  • At 63 I plan on running the next 5K race and using that airplane ticket to go skydiving.

Coming from a large family was more like growing up in a village, there was so many of us fighting to getting the love and attention we all needed. We  had to make sure that we behaved properly as not to bring shame to the family. Things like not getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant before marriage, having an affair, or being GAY could never happen in our family because of the shame that followed. As hard as we all tried not be bring on the shame, we still brought it to the table. Our actions lead us to believe would bring shame to our parents, disgrace to the community, which made the  fight all the harder for love and acceptance. This battle is still on going, even today with both of our parents decease.

Around the age of 12 I knew I was different, I was attracted to older men, I was gay and I had to keep it a secret. In the early 60’s the word was not gay, but queer, faggot, homo and a list of other names that made one feel  less than human. I needed to keep this secret hidden to protect a little boy who had no one to turn to, from a family who were afraid of what the community would think, from a Church that already had me condemned for my sin.

About the age of 15 I did get some courage to go to confession to the parish priest with my sin, instead of receiving absolution, I receive a heavier load of Guilt and Shame. Using this information,this man not only molested me but convinced me that it was my fault and I could not tell anyone what happen because it would ruin his life. For over 40 years I believed his lies.

Once out of high school, living in the closet with my secret, I would come out only when I needed to fulfill my sexual needs and run back in, closing  the door real tight. I was never able to find the intimate relationship I wanted or needed. As time went on I sought  therapy to change my thinking pattern. Even tried to live a life of absence, which you can bet never lasted long.

What I did not realize at the time that being Gay had nothing to do with who I really am. I maintained a job for 39 years reaching many awards for my performance. Was the primary care giver from both my parents for over total of 32 years, allowing them to die at home, not in a nursing home. My  mother died at 94 in the same room she was born in. Some Churches was very accepting as long as I did not act out. Most of these Churches never covered my shame but were willing to take my tithes.

It took over 50 years to come to this freedom I have today. I’ve had enough of the shame that held me in bondage all this time and now it’s time to throw open the door of my life and really start living.

There are 2 “First Time” that started this journey that I now travel:

My primary “FIRST Time” was the day I finally had to courage to say out loud the name, ………….., the man who molested me, convinced me it was my fault and told me I could not tell anyone because it would ruin his name!

Hearing my voice as I spoke that name felt like I released an air bubble that had been stuck in my throat not allowing me to breath. For once I could breath, feeling alive and knowing that I was not a bad person.I repeated that name over and over, and over and over, feeling better about myself each time I said it.

I still carry shame and guilt for some of the things I have done along the way, but I am not ashamed of who I am as a person: I’m a good and loving person who need love and support just like anyone else in this room.

In the children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, the Rabbit asks if it hurts to become Real. The Skin Horse replies, “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt” He goes on to say, “ Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been love off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once your are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand”.

At the age of 63 I want to start to be real, not living in the closet, hiding from everyone out of fear of rejection. Rejection will happen, but it will come from the people who do not understand. I’m looking for the day when I can have the Freedom to finally be free!

Now to my Second Big “First Time”. I stand in front of you tonight announcing for the first time in public that I am a gay man.

This may be uncomfortable for some of you and you may not agree with my stand. All I ask is that you give me the FREEDOM to BE FREE and allow me to REAL and not UGLY.

Thank You.