A few days ago I had the pleasure of talking with Jillian Bullock, author of the captivating, Here I Stand. I’ve had the pleasure of reading her memoir and would like to share my thoughts…
Jillian Bullock never had a conventional home or family. Her mother was black and the only father she ever knew was white, and a member of the mob. Or was he? Jillian saw things no little girl should ever have to see. Things that gave her nightmares. Things that gave her an ulcer. Things that made her question every detail of her life and what she believed to be true.
She lost people she loved, people she loved changed without warning or reason she understood, and she was hurt and traumatized by others she loved and thought loved her back. She went from not knowing whom to trust, to not trusting anyone. At fifteen, through no fault of her own, she was forced to live on the street where she ate out of dumpsters and stood in line for one of only twenty beds each night, sleeping on a park bench when she didn’t get a bed. She fought off the cold, hunger, sexual advances, and her own depression.
When it became impossible to survive on the street, she did what so many young runaways do – she turned to prostitution. She learned how to turn off her emotions, detach her mind from her body. She swayed between determination for a better life and giving up. She had mastered Tae Kwon Do and if not for that ability, may very well have ended up dead on several occasions.
Jillian Bullock was damaged. Emotionally and physically damaged. But, from somewhere deep inside of her, a place her stepfather saw, she pulled out the drive, determination, resiliency, and grit needed to break free from a life forced upon her and become the person she was meant to be. The obstacles in her young life might have been insurmountable to many. Truth be told, I doubt I could have survived as she did.
Even when she believes she has lost hope in her dreams, from a spark within, she rebuilds a life that seemed all but lost. Jillian writes with candor, raw emotion, hope, despair, and a confidence that even she loses sight of a time or two. Jillian shares her accomplishments, her losses, her pain, her feelings toward those close to her, and her own transgressions in a strong, unshakable voice able to pull emotion from the most detached reader.
From within the embrace of a loving family, to a world feared by many, through her own strength and diligence, Jillian Bullock rises above.
The writing was wonderful. I could not put it down. I applaud Jillian first, for turning struggle into success and second, for having the gumption and courage to share her story in a clear and objective voice. I believe that anyone who might be feeling helpless or hopeless or at their end would benefit greatly from reading this story.
Here I Stand is a lesson in perseverance, hope, and redemption.