How can music save us from…ourselves? This week we hear from Ena Marie Abel-Mireles, a music teacher from Portland, Oregon. Ena laughs and sings and is open about the fact that she regularly has suicidal ideations. When Ena was 13, a traumatic life-altering event happened to her. That one moment has directly affected her passion for living, giving and teaching people how to sing.
Her story is entitled. “I have my mother's voice.”
Content: suicide, suicidal ideations, musical therapy, bipolar
September Event: Join us this September for our first, live online event. Our theme for this series is Major Life Changes and our special guest is Sister Monica Clare (episode #10). Sister Monica is an Episcopal nun who has a Tiktok following of 170,000. She’s been highlighted by Oprah and the NYTimes. And she’s a lovely human! During the event, there will be an open Q&A and you can meet other incredible women from around the world.
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This episode was produced by Jamie Yuenger and Piet Hurkmans.
Music in this episode by Blue Dot Sessions.
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Host Jamie: Hello, I'm Jamie Yuenger. And this is 'If You Knew Me' a podcast about the inner lives of women every week, we walk into the heart and mind of one woman, each guest can choose to share her real name or to remain anonymous.
I wanna remind you that we will host our first live online event, this September more information about that at the end of this episode. So stay tuned.
This week we hear from Ena Marie Abel-Mireles. That's her real name. Ena is a mix of sunshine and storm clouds.
Host Jamie: She laughs and sings and she is open about the fact that she quite regularly has suicidal ideations. When Ena was 13, a traumatic life altering event happened to her. That one moment has directly affected her passion for living, giving and singing. Her story is entitled 'I have my mother's voice'.
Ena: My mom, was born in 1955. She was the fourth of seven and then eventually nine children. her name was Beverly. She, didn't grow up with very good life skills. Um, she struggled with intense depression. I actually think my mom may have suffered with bipolar and I didn't know it and nobody would've known it.
Ena: My mother got involved in really unhealthy things. She met my father when she was 15. and, uh, she, she had some bad men in her life. She had, uh, drugs in her life. She had alcoholism in her life but in the seventies and eighties, that's how you coped. You, you couldn't tell anybody you were depressed, you would be blacklisted from society.
So that's what she did when she was 15, she broke her back. Literally had her back cut from her neck to her tailbone when she was 15 and had two vertebra fused. She married my father. She got married when she was 16, she got pregnant. She wanted to abort me because she was so scared. She was in chronic pain.
By the time she was 15 years old. But she did it. She had a baby and she worshiped everything I did, everything. She loved me. So fiercely that people would say it all the time. I've never seen a mother love a child, like your mother loves you. And I still feel that love, but my mom had a silent killer inside of her.
She was dying inside and she was suffering. And she took her life when I was 13.
And I am so brave I did her funeral and everything, but unfortunately, the day of the funeral, my father changed,
my parents were separated and divorced before it was like a year old. So I never knew parents that loved each other. I only knew parents that wanted to destroy each other
My father started beating me senseless.
So I learned through my mother's actions that my life wasn't worthy,And then my father reinforced by telling me that I was worthless and my father beat me, all the time for five years. He wouldn't give me asthma medicine.
He nearly killed me several times and the, since I've been 13, I I've struggled with suicidal ideation. I've wanted to die. even though I'm not struggling with her right in this. I still, I'm not afraid of it. And, if, and when it comes, whenever it comes on, I welcome it because I want to be with her.
I want to be with those. I love, but I won't do it because I love so many people here and I don't want to do that to them. But I just, I guess I wanted to just be a voice to others that if you've lost someone to suicide, especially a parent, and you're thinking about it and you struggle with ideation, it's okay.
When I was 16 and I got a car, I drove to a counselor's office and I said, I really need you to help me. so this is 1989. And, uh, I said, I need help. I don't want to be a messed up adult. mom committed suicide three years ago. My dad is beating me up and I need help And, I started counseling when I was 16.
Ena: I turned 50 on Thanksgiving and, uh, counseling has been amazing to me.
Um, the other things that have kept me going is, uh, music, my mom and I have the exact same voice. Uh, when I say. It is exactly the same voice as my mother. And so hearing that voice, um, and being involved in music, I'm a music teacher.
I've been running my own music studio for 18 years. Um, my business is called Bloom Music Studio. Music has saved my life. I owe music my life. and I it's an honor and a pleasure to give, the love of music to kids, but also cats. Um, I had a lot of cats with my mom and cats make me feel connected.
And so I've had a lot of cats and they are my therapy. They keep me going, they give me something honestly, to live for.
I've had to create reasons to live. So those are the things that have saved me. Um, I take excellent care of myself. I don't want my mom's struggle to be in vain. I don't want to live with self doubt and self hatred like she did.
Um, I want to end that cycle and. I want to live my best life because she didn't or couldn't and I want to change the energy. and I just want to create a positive space for women and for young people,
So my mother would look at me as if, when she looked at me, it was like she was holding the sun in her hand. Like she had created the most beautiful, precious thing in the world. And, um, that love keeps me going. That love that still lives within me. And so she would take songs and change them.
Ena: And she took a song, um, a song called Venus and she changed it to sound like this: my Ena, in blue jeans, Mona Lisa with a pony tail. She's a walkin' talkin' work of art.
She's that girl who stole my heart. My Ena in blue jeans is everything I'd hoped she'd be. A little darling from above and she belongs to me. Look at her. Oh, look at her. So warm, so sweet, so shy. Look at me. Oh, look at me. I can't believe that I'm such a lucky mama to have Ena-ha, Ena, all for my very own. It's much to wonderful, so very wonderful to know that Ena is mine alone.
She was so beautiful. She was so beautiful. And I had a walk in my garden this morning. And I just talked to her and I don't know about all that stuff about them seeing us or changing things in our human dimension that, you know, they can affect us. I don't know. And I don't need to know, but I do talk to her as if she hears me because it comforts me and I spoke to her today and I told her your choice.
It hurt me. It hurt me, but I forgive you because I know how much you were hurting and that when you're in that much pain and you're struggling and you want to die, that you can't, you can't see anything but yourself. And I forgive you, mama, I too, I forgive you, but I am hurting and dad didn't help. He didn't help.
And the choice you guys made, it affected me. It affects everything. And, um, I've worked really hard and I will live out my life and I will always do my best because you were only a 16 year old girl with a man beating you and treating you terrible. And, uh, yet you, you persevered as long as she could.
And. I just really want to be my best for her because she did the best she could for me. I know she did, even though it ended in something tragic. I hope that we can all get there.
When I lived with my dad for five years from. When I was 13 to 18, was a very, very angry young person. And, uh, who I've had a lot of hate in my life. I, uh, I actually cut. I was actually cutting a, um, a piece of wood last week and I used an axe and boy oh boy that I let some stuff out about my dad.
He was abusive. Um, so abusive. I mean, just, um, really literally just till the day he died and. I had to work through a lot of stuff with my dad, just so much vitriol, so much hatred, so much nastiness from him. And, uh, in the last few years of his life, we worked really hard to find peace with each other.
Ena: And we both came to each other with some humility. And, um, and we healed our relationship we had peace with one another. He died in 2021, in four days after getting COVID, my dad lived in Israel. Um, uh, I am Mexican and Jewish and, um, my dad died in Israel. I hadn't seen my dad since 2008, so, um, you know, he died and I hadn't seen him in 13 years, so that was hard.
I had to say goodbye, uh, through FaceTime and he was, uh, unconscious. So that was, yeah, that was big. But. I am just grateful that I got to heal some stuff with him
I've struggled a lot but it seems like an angel always keeps coming into my life. I had a woman named Leanora in my life for three years that she was, she had lost her son to suicide and.
Ena: So we connected through the suicide thing. And then, um, she was a musician and she loved cats. She became my mom for about three years, and then she died of cancer and I took care of her. She died in 2017 and then right before she died, she gave me her house and her entire state. I'm just blown away by it still.
And she reminded me of a mother's love. So that was big. And I've used every single time and every single square inch of this house to create something for young people to create a place of refuge, to create a place of gathering to a place of love, a place of acceptance. just a place of warmth. I don't know.
It's just, it's been a, it's been hard, but like these angels, like Lenore. Like through love. I get saved. Like how many people, somebody gives a beautiful, I mean, not just a house, uh, and insanely beautiful and insane house that just like will bloke would blow your mind. And I just don't, I don't understand why the universe keeps giving me all these blessings.
I just don't. So I'm insanely grateful and I honestly wouldn't change a thing about my life. I wouldn't change my dad hitting me. I wouldn't change my mom. I wouldn't change anything because I am resilient. I am strong. I am love. I am goodness. I am integrity. And, uh, I had to have those experiences to be this person and I don't want to be anybody else.
We have to tell the people in our lives that you have to be uncomfortable. You have to listen.
Ena: You have to be there for me because I don't want to take my life. I want to be strong, but I need you. I have a couple of people in my life, my friend, Kevin Jackson. I can come to him and say, Kevin, I feel like dying today. I want to die today. I just want to die all I wanted to die and he will just be with me.
He doesn't judge it. He doesn't say it's uncomfortable. He just holds my hand and he says, tell me everything. I'm right here. That's what everybody needs. That feels these faith things with ideation. We need somebody to just be with us. And, Kevin Jackson saves my life so many times because he'll just be there.
He doesn't do anything, but it's just there. And, um, I just hope everybody can have a Kevin Jackson.
Host Jamie: Thanks so much for listening to this week's episode. Ena Marie Abel-Mireles is a music teacher. She owns Bloom Music in Portland, Oregon. She is also an historian and writer. She hopes to one day write her memoir and start her own museum. links, to find and follow Ena are in the show notes.
As I shared at the top of the show, we will be hosting a live online event, this September. It will be our very first live event with a prior show guest. Our theme for the series is 'major life changes' and our special guest for the kickoff is sister Monica Clare. Sister Monica is an Episcopal nun who has a TikTok following of over 170,000. She's been highlighted by Oprah and the New York Times. If you've been listening to the show for a bit, you likely remember sister Monica's story.
Her episode, number 10 has become a favorite of so many listeners. Sister Monica has a TikTok following of over 170,000 and has been highlighted by Oprah and the New York Times. But this fall she'll be with us at this exclusive intimate event. She will share more of her personal story and be available for an open Q and A.
Monthly supporters of the show will get a free event ticket. To find out, more, sign up for our newsletter. We'll be giving out all the details there.
This podcast is produced by me and my husband, Piet Hurkmans. Thanks so much for listening to, 'If You Knew Me'. We'll be back with you next week.