Jimmy Cliff and How He Saved Me

I have one horrible summer back in my teens…everyone does, don’t they? I was a teen, early teen, at summer camp. To be blunt I was raped by a fellow counselor I had a crush on actually and the rest of the summer was absolute torture as I stayed much to others confusion years later. (I didn’t dare tell a soul until nearly a decade later out of self-perceived shame.)

Anyhoo, the reason I write is not to purge or revisit those feelings today, rather to pay homage to the magnificent Jimmy Cliff. It’s funny; I was just sitting here also recollecting that the only writing I ever wished to do was to work for The Rolling Stone magazine. It was the only periodical I ever subscribed to well in to my twenties until alcohol and drugs took precedence and I gave up on my dreams.

Back to Cliff.

That summer I found extreme solace in “The Harder They Come” soundtrack. “I’d rather be a free man in my grave than living as a puppet or a slave” and lyrics like these rang true. “The harder they come, the harder they fall” had never been lyrics that had been seared in to my soul before with perhaps the exception of James Taylor and a few others when I was depressed and seeking understanding.

No one and no lyric since then had come close.

“Sitting here in limbo” was also another great one. I remember all of these songs cradled me as I grabbed my knees and hugged tight. There were no arms of my mother and I truly felt ashamed. “This little boy is moving on…” I may not have been a little boy, but I certainly was a little girl who had changed overnight from a little girl, a virgin I might add, to a bitter, surly girl whose “faith will lead me on” was definitely in question. I was holding on for dear life but “sitting in limbo” nevertheless.

Thank God for Jimmy who understood me. I had “many rivers to cross” not only as insight in to my impending future, but an immediate directive as well. It was all hurling at me like a deadly ball of fire which would stop and move slowly enough so I could examine it. I knew I had been altered – naturally not for the better.

It was also on “The Harder They Come” soundtrack where I learned that I must get my fight song. I learned that I could “Get it If You Really Want” and that meant me. I knew Jimmy Cliff spoke the truth “you’ll succeed at last” and that he was speaking to me too. And thank God for that. I was in need of dire help. But “you must try and try and try…you’ll succeed at last.”

Perhaps listening to that soundtrack until I burned down the motor on my Walkman gave me false comfort; maybe I should have left. Still, my decision stands if for no other reason that it’s what I chose. You see, I’m not one to back down and no matter how much he tortured me mentally afterwards, I had Jimmy Cliff cheering me inwards. Sure, there were ions of therapy sessions years afterwards and again, sure I re-write history, or counsel someone else, I would not suggest this path. It was simply mine.

Thank you, Jimmy. I hope someday I can inspire someone, a little iota of a life raft to cling on to, as you have given me, countless times. Or, at least once would do.

God bless you, Mr. Cliff. You will always hold a special place in my heart.

-Wendy K. Williamson www.wendykwilliamson.com


6 thoughts on “Jimmy Cliff and How He Saved Me

  1. Words can’t come close to expressing how sorry I am about the ghastly rape. I could actually see myself staying at the camp after such a traumatic incident – you were traumatized, attacked, in shock – you never have to defend your choice! easy for me to say, I know….I only mean that in some way I can understand why you’d make that decision.

    When you mentioned your Walkman, I chuckled – so many people don’t know what they are anymore, eh? If it wasn’t for my Walkman to drown out sounds of domestic violence every night, I don’t know what I would’ve done.

    I’m so, SO, so glad you found Jimmy Cliff’s music as comfort & a true inspiration. And guess what? YOU’VE been incredibly inspiring to countless people, such as yours truly. You’ve given us hope, you’ve helped us feel less alone and “not crazy just bipolar”. Many of those people are ones you’ve helped unknowingly – lot of of folks can’t reach out to a Famous Author to say “thanks, you really helped me get through a hard time” but I know for a fact they’re out here, there and everywhere!


      • You got it, Madame Vice President, DBSA Santa Cruz County Chapter – add *that* to your resume! :))))

        No, seriously, I don’t remember if you wrote about the horrific camp experience in your 1st book – if you did, please forgive me for not remembering because my memory sucks. It kills me to think of you in pain after such a thing. I’m so glad you made it through….and went on to not just help yourself survive but you helped a helluva lot of people through the books and the advocacy and you ain’t stopping anytime soon! XOXO

      • ooooh VP huh? WOW! so cool. You’re cool and if you ever need anything for Santa Cruz, you let me know. I can autograph books and send them out for fundraisers! I can give away free audiobooks too! 🙂 woot woot. Bring on the fundraising!

      • YOU are super-cool, Madame Vice President!!!!! I miss you!

        I have Wendy K. Williamson and Two Bipolar Chicks stuff (notes/coffee cup/books) scattered all over the house and think of ya all the time.Thank you for your gracious offer to contribute to future fundraisers!!!!!

        I go to the writing conference next week and I want to email you before then because I’d like just a little bit of your your advice about something. I think you’ll get a kick out of the latest drama queen dilemma I’ve concocted.

        Off to work out – my Seroquel belly is still making me look 4 months pregnant. But of course I do it for my mood, not vanity. Heh heh – yeah right! ;)))))))))))
        Love ya, my little cupcake. Please give my warm fuzzies to your other half!

      • no I didn’t Dyane b/c I tried but no one understood it. It’s very hard to re-create a rape scene. Some people didn’t understand that it was, some thought only rape through intercourse, not oral sex, was what constituted rape and the whole debate angered me as much as not being able to correctly depict it through my words. So, I gave up and ended up pulling the whole camp chapter. I felt it was a tad off subject – though imperative to my character development – it was a bit off the bipolar subject. Also, my two bipolar friends got stuck on that chapter, both of them, so that is what ultimately made me decide to scrap it. IT’s my peeps I care about, after all. The whole debate though was what truly angered me. I was infuriated and felt very invalidated. One of my friends was raped through intercourse, but still, to demean me felt like the whole Bill Clinton thing. It made me think a book on rape was needed. I still think that.

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