Monthly Archives: October 2011

just open a vein and bleed…

*I always struggle with writing. For me, the process is very much like the famous quote from Red Smith: “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”

I hadn’t heard this quote before but it certainly got my attention.  The process of re-creating this jumbled up, riddled with holes kind of journey is tough.  It was tough the first time through and pulling it back up, sifting through and analyzing it isn’t so easy either.

Many days I just don’t want to; it just hurts too much.  But my severed parts scream at me, their phantom pain so raw that they compel me to keep moving forward and keep my eyes on the prize.  So I do.

I have to believe it will work  because I know that all the crazy stuff I’ve done before hasn’t.  Numbing, stuffing it down, staying crazy busy; none of this works so I really get the “open a vein and bleed” concept.  It also has an appeal to my dark and morbid side.  The association comes easily to the dark child reared with pain as her best friend and who comfortably seeps over to dance with her demons.

I’m told that writing is the path to recovery.  At the very least it gives me a place for the scattered debris of words and thoughts to go.  And putting it on paper seems to relieve the burden for me and the small child who carried it all these years.  Maybe it will all come together at some point, I don’t know for sure.  I will trust those who urge people like me to write their stories, they’ve run the marathon and are sitting with the prize.  All I have to do is stay here, write and bleed.

*Post from The Gift of Light on Brene Brown’s blog, Ordinary Courage

terms and conditions

she wants to be here and she’s ready to speak, more than ready.  she reminds me again and again and again. and very strongly i might add because she’s upped the ante on my lack of attention to her by giving me all kinds of crazy body feelings.  she is so miffed at me that my ear swells and becomes hot and red, my energy level bottoms out until i’m forced to lie still and be with her.

to some she may sound annoying but i love her stealth and tenacity.  it makes me smile to picture her, nagging and tugging away, when one way doesn’t work she finds another until finally she is heard.  when we were both her age, our tenacity was labeled as “spoiled, bratty, dramatic” offending and shattering the silence and secrecy of the familial cult. when a family is trying so hard to keep the lid on their abusive nature combined with the all out fear of making change or looking at a situation differently, the last thing they wanted was a blaring loose cannon of a child threatening their silence.  so they beat her down physically and spiritually until she broke and split into several pieces.

but here’s the part that the family didn’t bargain for because ignorance doesn’t see at this level, at the level of love. the greasy filth of ignorance and fear didn’t win against love and tenacity.  love wins, it always does. this little girl had the absolute hutzpah to continue to wriggle out of every situation thrown at her, like a cat with more than nine lives, she just popped up somewhere else continuing her job of getting herself out, finding the life she was intended to have and then doing her part to stop the deeply embedded cycle of abuse.

she flies into my dreams with purposeful intention and i’ve finally figured out she is a force not to be ignored and i submit.  her agenda wins and i feel in my bones that its the correct one.  so we’ve agreed that i will give her part of my day for at least the next month.  i will wrap her in quiet, the soft quilt comforter and a bag of dark chocolate and wait. wait patiently while she continues to speak to me.  its only a a guess from the heart of how to proceed to earn her trust although i’m sure she will tell me as we go along.

giving her space and reverence is the first part of our terms and conditions. i would like her to learn to speak openly from her heart, i would like her to know how much i cherish and admire her strength and tenacity in a situation where most adults would have folded. i want her to know that i pray for her trust to build and her anger to wain; that there is nothing more important than her, to release the sad poison that shaped her most delicate years.  she marked time in that emotional prison unprotected and isolated,  holding all the darkness of our abusers.  we made the wrenching decision to split as there was no safe space left in our combined consciousness, no place for us to be together.  

so, she, the tiny little girl stayed while the other left to forge the path out of their hell. i did find a way out for us and i’m so sorry that it took so long.  it was very hard work and i lost my way many, many times.  but i’m back to retrieve the part i had to leave long ago, no matter how angry she is, how mentally unhinged she becomes at times and no matter how long it takes.

but you will be better soon….

“But you will be better soon.”

“But you are getting better.”

I’m so weary of this phrase chirped over and over to me, friends and relatives refusing to see me, to really look at me, skimming along the surface like water bugs.

So what if I eat slower than I used to or sometimes lose my thoughts easily….they will eventually come back or they won’t. What’s the rush?  Where does everyone need to be?  Does me getting better mean that I join you in a world of injured souls eating bad food and ignoring the pain in their neighbor’s eyes just because you are in a hurry and have a million things to do?  No thanks.  Instead I will accept this illness with grace as the gift that it was given to me that I can know the world in a way that most folks can’t or won’t.

I know Emma’s favorite cracker to make bread crumbs; she reminds me often when i see her at the market and I thank her each time.  She tells me with such a gleam in her eye that her husband loved her cooking when he was alive.  I know that Barney the dog prefers the green treats to brown ones and that he will sit up on his hind legs when he sees me coming around the corner while walking Rosie in the evening.  I know that the pierced kid who has shown up for drama every day this semester, who doesn’t speak much, looks so surprised when I compliment his artwork that he wears on his skin.  What’s the equivalent of that knowledge mean to you in your world?  Masters or PhD?

Your efforts to entice me back into your crazy empty world do not go unnoticed, its just that your currency holds no value. Conversations on your latest purchase/home remodel/trip abroad/over entitled children’s latest example of lack of gratitude sour my stomach.  Who decided that your way was better?  You don’t seem that peaceful to me.

My dogs will wait patiently, accepting, sniffing, while my erratic gait interrupts our walking pace.  They don’t ask or care about my creditials or bank account balance.  I prefer their company these days as I tune into their frequency instead of the skimming water bug people.

I know I’m tough to look at these days.  Illness has that effect on people, I get it.  So I scare you a bit and you have to glimpse at yourself and your own mortality and yes, it will freak you out.  Seeing your reflection always does when your psyche is mirrored back to you for the first time.  Especially so when you don’t want to look.

But you will be better soon, you are getting better they chirp.  I say “what’s wrong with me the way I am?”  

“What’s wrong with me now?”

boy torture

i am ready to channel and write down one of the most painful, repetitive childhood traumas that i actively remember.  none of this is speculation as i have it locked in my memory, ready to replay over and over , which it does often.  i also have it on a DVD by a fool that actually included it in a home movie collection because my family of origin suffers from ignorance that would be unbelievable by most.

this memory is one like a swirl, a whirlwind kind of feeling, a merry-go-round that you run around and around and then just jump on.  it requires me to consciously summon up a place that is dirty and haunting, a place that i hated then and hate going back to now.  when i do go there, its effects are immediate. i feel them instantly and completely.  this memory has many facets to it; betrayal, child abuse, powerlessness, ritualistic and premeditated cruelty.  there aren’t enough vile words to describe how i feel about these occurrences; evil, ignorance, insane, devoid of any conscious, sociopathic in nature…

my nephew was only six months younger than me because my oldest sister got pregnant young and my mother got pregnant old.  that put us less than a year apart even though i was technically from the generation above him.  none of this mattered because he was my little brother, my buddy and pal, my best friend in the whole world, an extension of myself.  i can’t remember a time without him, i felt the feelings that siblings feel of just always being there.  i mothered him and clucked over him as we grew up together and he loved it, he was kind and sweet, would play any game that i thought of because i was the thinker and he was the doer.  boy innocence wrapped up as a gift to me, i couldn’t get enough of him and he loved me the same way.  sometimes, we would just walk through the yard holding hands because that is how life felt the best to me…

somewhere around four or five something different started happening around us.  a switch flipped and suddenly we weren’t being left alone to explore the world together, we were being prepped as if our status had changed.  the men from the farms around us started paying attention to us, i suppose because we were no longer babies and under the care of our mothers but now separate beings left abandoned for younger babies in need; small persons for the men to amuse themselves with.

in the farming world, late afternoon meant coming in from the fields, taking a break from the heat; a pattern that i knew well and even though i knew it was coming, would fill me with dread as the summer sun started to make its downward turn.  these vile, sweat stained animals called men would stomp in from the barn where we would hear the tractor engine turn off, the instant silence of that engine noise fading left an eerie void,  giving me a cold tremor up my spine.  then came the beer can flip tops hissing, they would guzzle one down quickly and have the next one ready to sip with not much conversation at first.  they had to catch their breath which they eventually did by leaning up against the car or a tree, then slowly they migrated toward each other usually forming a semi circle and facing one direction.  looking toward the field or standing with their backs to the sun, these vile men would look for a distraction to the chores that they had been paying attention to all day.

i’m not sure why they picked us to torture and tease, i suppose because there wasn’t anything else for them to do.  their lives were farming, drinking, sex with their wives or the current woman they were cheating with, sleeping and eating.  too early for dinner, the wife wasn’t finished with her chores yet and couldn’t be distracted, they turned to the children who held a status barely above a farm animal.  

as the beer began taking effect, it gave them a glazed, snarly kind of aura.  one of them would start picking at something about us, noticing us, summoning us over to their circle citing some random offense in their ignorant backwoods language…”look at that sissy boy picking flowers with the girl, he’s not a real boy…come over here boy…somebody oughtta teach that boy to toughen up”. . .it would go something like that, my sensitive friend and brother, demonized by his own father and laid out as fodder to the neighbor men;  the father maintaining his loyalty to the adult men over his own son.  slowly they would taunt the boy in, pulling on his good nature and willingness to obey his elders.  verbally they would begin to laugh and snicker at him as he stood before them, eyes filling with tears and head hanging low. i will myself to help but i can’t, i’m already frozen;  my body knows this scene too well from experience and has reacted accordingly.  i know they would soon escalate their taunting so i try to get my body to move, to stop being paralyzed and immobilized by what i knew was coming.  if i could provide a distraction, if i was bigger, if i could only stop them…but i was a very little girl, one tenth of the size and weight of these full grown men.  once they started it would be almost impossible to stop them but then again, i had never really seen anyone try, except me.  

when they bored with verbal taunting, hungry for something bigger,  they would move on to shoving the boy baby from one side of the circle to another, sometimes hitting him around the circle with switches from a nearby tree, and sometimes, when they were feeling particularly cruel, they whipped him until he got his own bundle of switches gathered to be used on himself.  my boy angel would grow wilder and wilder as the shoving and laughing continued; the more frenzied he got, the more frenzied they got.  when he fell to the ground in the powdery dust, they would kick and poke at him to get up and he would shoot up, full of rage, fists flying at the men one of which was his father.  they would hold him out at arms length by the hair on his head and let him flail the air with his rage.  once he was in a full blown hysteria, they might slow down a bit because the howling shrieks of the boy child had alerted his mother inside the farmhouse…or sometimes it alerted his grandmother whom neither would do anything to stop this horror but whose presense seemed to slow the men down.  maybe in some way it took the  fun out of it for them.  i’m not sure at all because try as i might,  i can’t begin to think like these animals do.  even as an adult, i can’t wrap my head around such evil.  

the one person would defend the boy at all costs to life and limb, was me.  i would flail myself at these men as i didn’t care if i got hurt, that wasn’t important.  i would throw myself between him and the men trying to shield him from the shoving and kicking, both of us getting covered the dirt that would puff up everytime we hit the ground. the laughter seemed far off in the distance and the only sounds we heard were that of our bodies thudding against the ground and the breath leaving our bodies….it seemed to go on forever, time stood still…. i would bite the nasty, sweaty flesh of those man arms that would hurt my friend…. their slimy, slick arms picking me up and throwing me in the air…my beautiful summer sundress falling over my head and blinding me…the smell of beer, stale breath, grimy sweat that hadn’t been washed off for days, lingering, lingering still, to this day.

at some point, they would grow tired of the game or the mother/grandmother would give them the look that said “even though i won’t protect these children you should probably stop doing that to him but i know you are the man and i shouldn’t question you because its just not done so instead i will just light a cigarette and avert my eyes from looking at my very own child being actively tortured.”  they would eventually shuffle off, throwing their beer cans at the dog, finding something in the barn that needed to be done next while i gathered up my boy child;  my tear stained, dirty friend who had wet his pants. we would go as far from the house as we could. sometimes i would sneak back up to the house to the water spigot and find a way to bring back a drink or a wet rag to clean him up a bit and hold him until his sobbing and gasping turned into a quiet blank stare.

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