Here I stand..Strong, yet delicate. I look in the mirror wondering why I am judged so harshly. I’ve been down many roads in my life and as your eyes map your judgement of me, I stand stronger and prouder than one could ever even fathom! Everyone has their own version of what one thinks I may have been through and all I can say it is truly worse than anything one could ever imagine or assume. My life, to me, is easily summed up as a Miracle.
Let me start from the beginning. I don’t want anyone’s pity, because I’ve never even felt sorry for myself. I’ve taken my trials and tribulations and turned them into the most beautiful of scars that made me the woman and the mother that I became and continue to thrive and prosper.. I truly embrace the “Beautiful Disaster, Perfectly Imperfect” woman that I am. So I begin... When I was a young girl, like many, I never thought I’d see the hardship of life come at me so furiously as if it had a personal vendetta with just me. I was somewhat of a loner and pretty much kept to myself. I have an older sister and a stepbrother.
My parents separated when I was very young; they had an extremely tumultuous relationship. For some reason unbeknownst to me I believe my mother saw too much of herself within me and began neglecting me at a very early age. On top of that she had a very difficult pregnancy with me and her and I almost did not make it through and I believe she blamed me for that so even before I was born I was being blamed for things that was out of my control. I tried getting her attention and doing great things however to no avail it didn’t work, so I began acting out rebelliously. I was treated as a complete outcast, the “black sheep” of the family. I was sent away to boarding school and when I came home after finishing high school my stepdad and I did not see eye to eye, so my mother and him thought it was best that I leave my home at the age of 17. I moved in with my boyfriend at the time and his mother and I began drinking pretty heavily and smoking a lot of weed. Things were not working out between him and I and I ended up staying at an extended stay motel for a while until I found a cheap room to rent. I was able to find a job here and there.
One job I was waitressing at a small restaurant when my grandfather (who was my love and light heart and soul) was brought in by his nurse to see me at the restaurant where I was working. She took one look at me realize how alone and depressed I was and how much I needed help! Shortly there after they helped me find an apartment, however my immediate family still did not speak to me and my depression was worsening as the days went by. I was blessed and fortunate enough to have extremely loving grandparents however they were old and did their best for me.
I started hanging around the wrong crowd and that is where my story really begins. I was a young woman living alone and doing my own thing I never thought these little decisions would bring me to the biggest fight of my life. On March 8, 1992 my world as a young lady had come to a horrific climax. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people! So cliché but guess what, because of the decision to hang with my “friends” that night my entire world was turned upside down. I was shot with a 9 mm handgun and fighting just to breathe, which was not happening. I was in the car with some guys and a girl pulled up behind us in another car and the driver of both cars got out and begin conversing.
The driver of the other car yelled so they got back into their cars and we drove to residential area in Baltimore city known as “chocolate city”. The drivers started conversing again outside of the vehicles when I got out of the car to let the driver of the car I was in know I had to use the bathroom. He told me to be patient but I didn’t listen and I took my purse and walked down an alley. I begin urinating right in the alley when I heard a small voice tell me to just keep walking, get in a cab and go home. Whatever I didn’t listen to that voice and went back to the car and that’s when the terror began. The other driver was handed a small clutch bag by the young woman in the backseat, then he pull a gun out of the bag and verbatim said “you all have been here this is a stick up”, he then open fired on all three of us. We began running and that is when he started shooting at me.
I felt bullets flying all around me and then one bullet hit the top of my right shoulder crushing my entire clavicle and instead of going out when inside my chest cavity collapsed both of my lungs and lacerating my pulmonary artery before it laid dormant deep in bedded in my chest cavity. All three of us had been shot. It was at this very moment that I knew I wanted to live more than I’ve ever wanted to live before. I was in so much excruciating pain and I could not breathe at all. I went across the street and sat down on somebody’s porch, my right arm was dangling on the side of my body and my whole hand was swollen up. It was as if my arm was severed from my body, I could not move it at all. Later I realized it’s not like that because of all the severe nerve damage the actual bullet initially caused when it crashed and entered my right clavicle.
As I laid on the porch all I wanted to do was breathe it wasn’t coming I wanted to go to sleep because I couldn’t breathe and I was in so much pain and as I lay there my great grandmother came and sat down beside me. All I know is I kept hearing her say don’t close your eyes please don’t close your eyes fight fight fight and fight!!! So that is what I did!!! I’m too stubborn to have let myself go in such a horrific way. Hey phoenix was born this day!! I was finally put in an ambulance and sent to University Hospital in Baltimore Maryland. When I got to the hospital they had to cut all my clothes off of me and with no anesthesia they sliced me with a scalpel and shoved a chest tube into my lungs. Woke up several hours later after what is called an emergency thoracotomy.
In 2016 the statistics of people living through such trauma was less than 10%, and this was all the way back in 1992. All I can say it was definitely not my time once the paralysis medication wore off I could finally see what kind of condition I was in with a tube down my nose, a tube down my throat, IV in my neck two chest tubes on each side and I was cut from sternum to belly button. Mother and my stepdad were on the side of the bed looking at me in disgust! What I didn’t realize was that night was a joy ride gone completely wrong. It ended up being a drug deal transaction that went insanely wrong. As I am writing this and breathe deeply I can feel every ounce of airflow my once deflated and lifeless lungs could not. Not only was I a shark in fighting for my life I was also fighting for my freedom now as well due to the fact that I was arrested with a $500,000 bail hanging over me. I was in the intensive care unit with shackles on my ankle, you talk about humiliating and humbling. I know this was the day that I was reborn. When in my life that I wanted a better life for me and amazingly that I knew I was capable of creating through the grace of God. I already had the mindset that I was going to fight with every ounce of my being to get what it was and is that I wanted, needed, desired and deserved. So along the road of recovery I did my best to find myself and the real reason why I am here.
After being released from the hospital I was automatically sent to Baltimore City Detention Center still severely physically mentally and emotionally damaged. I’m a fighter, a warrior, a survivor, that is exactly what I did, I FOUGHT!!! My grandparents were able to help me through this situation I was able to get the bill reduced with stipulations fought through all of that, and when I finally went to court several months later my lawyer actually used in my defense how alone I really was and had been. I was looking at several years behind bars due to one stupid decision to get in a car that night. I had never been in trouble before was green to the whole experience and so not only did I almost lose my life, I almost lost my freedom.
I went in the courthouse that day with my head held high and the aftermath was three years probation with time served so now I knew the real journey of my life was about to begin. At this point on I was fighting to find me, fighting to find my purpose knowing I have one and it is my job to fulfill this! So before you look at me and judge me please understand that one’s judgement of me really means nothing to me. I’m a true believer of energy and in light, in love and the magic of the universe. I’m not perfect and as “disastrous” my life once was, I am truly twice as "Beautiful” today!! Not all my choices in life were the best and I know that but I own all of my choices that caused from the scars you can see to the ones you cannot. I am definitely a one of a kind masterpiece and an INCREDIBLE "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER”.
I gave my life that day in order to blossom to what I’ve become and continue to become. Grateful for second chances, grateful for my undying soul, most of all grateful for my continued blessings that are always forthcoming. I am a mommy to two beautiful and amazing children whom I refer to as my “saving graces” my “angels”. They are both scholars in school straight A-students. They are both so incredibly beautiful from the inside to the out they truly were given to me to save my life. I am a fitness instructor, a yoga instructor, a personal trainer and I also work at a casino so I grind hard and take care of me and my children every day. I’ve been in the fitness industry for years and because of that my nerve damage to my right arm is actually in better condition now than it was even 5 or 10 years ago.
Cardiovascularly I’m great I take excellent care of myself to keep my lungs and my heart working in mint condition. I never will forget that life changing day, whatever instead of dwelling on it or use it to build me up and I use it to build up other people as well, I talk about my story to my students in to anyone who is willing to listen and maybe in some sort of internal pain or turmoil themselves. I still carry the bullet in my body, a souvenir that I used to remind me that I am more than anyone’s judging eyes. I am a Phoenix... my soul Burns deep with love and with passion. I have such an incredible respect for life so I live every day with such gratitude. I go hard in the gym and for my kids even in the way I have chosen to decorate my body through my ink, which is also another way that I have learned to cope with my tragedy.
I am an adrenaline junkie - through working out and training in the gym, and my tattoos, embracing the pain that goes along with all of that is definitely in endorphin releaser henceforth a stress reliever. My tattoos bring me such pleasure and comfort in my own skin, they tell my story without me having to open my mouth so when one looks closely at me and really sees me then they could know me a little bit and see and feel my soul. I have several wonder woman tattoos on my body because when my son was a little boy he saw her on the TV and went up to the TV and said "that is my mommy that is my mommy.” So when your son thinks you're wonder woman you have to step up to the plate and be wonder woman LOL;) I’m going to end my story by saying failure was never an option for me because I’m a fighter a warrior and a soldier - Andye Jennifer Kitt 💪🏼❤️