Monthly Archives: November 2011

weirdly grateful

i’m feeling weirdly grateful as i sit in a coffee shop playing hooky from life.

i don’t want to be at home planning my holiday dinner to make everyone else feel as if we have all met some crazy criteria and checked off some box of “there, that’s done”.  its not making me feel good at all and am wondering why do i’m doing this to myself.  i have to stop the planning that is making me feel crazy and get in touch with what is making me feel mean instead of just saying no, this is not what i want.  there are so many layers of issues here and i must go somewhere to sort them out, so here i am figuring out what hurts before i can find gratitude.  and to top it off, i don’t feel eloquent.  i’m not inspirational right now and my essence isn’t shining through.  the words aren’t really flowing, they feel stuck in my throat and i want to cry.

first and foremost, i miss my daughter.  i haven’t completely adjusted to not having her in my life, she is forever angry at me and even if she shows up to the holiday gathering, it won’t be like she is really there in spirit or with love.  that is the part that i miss.  the sweet little girl who drew cards for me for my birthday and shopped for my christmas gift on the sly, the tiniest of gestures that i recall as monumental. slowly rotating that thought,  i’m grateful to have the most wonderful of daughters and for the moment of balance where i surround her with love during her time of confusion and questioning.   a huge gift for the both of us.

second to that, i miss my family.  not my husband’s family but mine.  my tribe, the ones who have the same blood running through their veins.  i appreciate and am grateful to my husband’s family.  they have provided me with a security and a comfort that i have never known.  their longstanding history of stability and enough money has benefitted me greatly and for the most part, that is where i want to be.  but sometimes, i want my own people.  even though i know that they aren’t good for me, that most of them are in a seriously amount of denial about the incidents of abuse in our family and even though that i have to look hard to find anything in common with them.  many of my family are smart and have bright, sharp minds and wit.  but what they do with their god given talents is where the true sadness of the story lies. they can’t see their gifts, they can’t love themselves enough to stop perpetuating the cycle of isolation and ignorance that was handed to us.  i was the one who got angry and got out of there and not only handed that cycle back, i threw it at their faces and shot it from a gun aimed directly at their hearts. so, i’m grateful for my family that i grew up with and the ability to know what is good for me.  kind of the serenity prayer of the wisdom to know the difference.

next, i miss my tribe of women, the alice’s of my life.  marianne and i were ruminating over this last night on the phone about how life changes and moves forward and we lose some friends/husbands/lovers/children, hold onto some and gain some new ones.  a bittersweet movement that we have become accustomed to its comings and goings, noting that it doesn’t sting like it used to.  the first time i experienced that kind of rejection, betrayal, loss, it knocked me to my knees, i couldn’t breathe for weeks and felt my legs were made of jello.  i didn’t know what to do with that crazy amount of hurt, it suffocated me.

but now, i’ve weathered divorce, parental deaths, injury, loss of health, recovered memories of abuse and a daughter who finds me intolerable and while this all sucks big time and often sends me the bed to pull the covers up over my head, it doesn’t suffocate me any longer.  i can breathe, not great, not strong or not deeply, but i still function.  for that i am weirdly grateful.  now i know the difference between regular-i’m-human kind of hurt and trauma that cripples and maims because i’ve survived it.

so i sit here and force myself to write about feelings.  it helps to know that one of my heroes, Martha Beck, isn’t a party person either.  her post today reveals something i would have never suspected about such an successful and together woman as herself; she struggles with social anxiety.  wow. i would never in a million years judge her as less than because of this, yet continue to judge myself for needing solitude at this time in my life.

can i be grateful just to have learned this for today and begin to start knowing myself well enough to accept this? can i be grateful for the courage to write my words while stammering and awkward?

i continue the search for purpose behind the madness and gratitude where i’ve only known anger and fear.  this is why i left the house, this is why i can’t stay there and risk hurting my gentle husband. i have to be the inspiration i need right now. i say no to the party and yes to me.

Rev. Randy helps me sing…

Peeking in...

The pitfalls of doing this kind of intense, soul searching work are few and the possibilities and benefits are great.  I would be remiss if I didn’t have some awareness of how this dark information is received by those who care about me.  I often feel my writing should carry a warning label because it is the one place that I do not under any circumstance censor myself.  I can’t and I won’t.  I must leave the responsibility to the the reader to set their own boundaries and decide what is too much for them.  And actually as part of my therapy it is my responsibility to not try to control this for others.

That being said, I do wince a bit when I hit the publish button thinking of certain friends of family who will find this information disturbing or sad.  I really don’t want to be a bummer, I want more than anything to reach the women/men who have been altered and defined by the trauma of sexual abuse, incest or violence and help set them free.  This gives me purpose to a life that has for the most part has felt expendible.  I know people weep for me; they write me and tell me so.  Yet, I continue writing because above all I have to give this child her voice.

Rev. Randy wishes he could have done something when we were children.  I know without a doubt and have told him so that having a caring soul of an elementary classmate in my circle was enough at that point.  Knowing the deep and incidious system of violence that threads through families is not something that a wide eyed first grader can take on.  But still I know he wishes he could.  But I want to say this to the Rev. as well as the others in my life that each and every one of you have held a different task in the the unraveling of this family dynamic for me.  Each gift is unique and deeply recognized and appreciated.

This little girl is learning to do many things that she’s never been given the space or love to do.  She can now look up and make eye contact.  Every once in a while she will peek out from behind the dark curtain to see what’s out in the world that she may be curious about.  I make her world soft and quiet which allows her to let the tension ease from her tight little body.

She’s never enjoyed music, at least most music that she’s been exposed to.  The string music of my daughter’s orchestra years always left me in a corner of the auditorium weeping, it felt so emotional and beautiful.  The little girl felt too raw and overwhelmed by it even though it seemed to be played by the angels in heaven themselves.  Folks always found it odd that the little girl preferred silence or the sounds of nature to music, after all everyone was plugging into music for as long as I can remember.  But it often felt like an assault, something else to assimiliate into my already overburdened senses, something that was put upon me against my will.

Recently something has shifted.  I’ve watched Rev. Randy and his love for music.  I’ve listened and followed a musician on a mission, understanding that song with meaning is something that the little girl seems to have a peeking curiosity about.  Maybe I just needed this concept presented to me in a more personal and basic way for me to understand the capabilities of music, which for me now is love with a tune.  Its led me to other musicians who, with careful and tentative consideration have begun to delight this little girl.

She’s been humming to herself lately and yesterday, some words formed and I heard her singing. A repitative phrase sung over and over, the release was intense.  She cried and laughed straight from her heart.  I sense warmth and movement from a once frozen iceberg, I see love spreading through her with song.  Who would have thought?  A huge, huge step for a silent, mute child whose only sounds were crying and whimpers.

So Rev. Randy, thank you. You can now unburden yourself from the notion that you weren’t helping because now you can see the gift you’ve given me.  By going ahead in the world and creating love through music, you’ve helped me at exactly the right time that I’ve needed it.

drowning kittens

Kitten Love

i scare myself alot when i remember too hard or too much.  i would prefer that i see tapes of waltons mountain or disney movies played across the insides of my eyelids but instead i see roaches crawling out my skin or shadows of a fiendish demon child.  this particular one drowns kittens.  so removed from her beautiful gentle soul, she finds a litter of kittens recently swept away from their mother by a powerful rain storm and attempts to hold them under the water until their eyes pop out and they stop struggling.

i watch myself as i fade back and forth from me to the one watching me.  the ground is soggy and full as i walk across the yard, puddles everywhere, my shoes are already full and the water up to my mid calf.  i hear the kittens before i see them and make gestures toward saving them, plodding toward them, hearing their tiny mewing, no mother in sight.  i’m suddenly impacted with what they feel; lost, too small to make it on their own, disoriented from recent events.  i gather them up in my dress holding them close and think about starting back toward the farmhouse.

i stop and look back over my shoulder for several reasons.

i couldn’t be more than 4 and yet i’m out here far from the house and no one notices.  for a brief moment i’m wondering if i am in trouble for being gone too long or too far.  yet i remind myself again that i am invisible.  its not a new feeling; one that will continue through adulthood;  i will always remain invisible to my family.  for one to be noticed, one would have to see or have vision, and neither of those characteristics my family possesses.  to put it another way, more accurately, children are simply livestock; at least in my world they were.

stripped of any unique characteristics of our personhood ,we got fed and clothed.  then the adults waited for us to grow up to become worthwhile in terms of our service to them.  time couldn’t be wasted on companionship, reading, learning, talking; our worth was determined by the chores we do, meals we prepare, amount of vegetables picked from the garden, or for our bodies given to the men for their lowly and despicable gratification.  for generations, this family has failed to make any movement from even the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; its been this way always.

the shadow clouds my memory here, the heaviness spreading across my eyes leaving me with the quick, kick in the gut feeling of a memory so painful that my conscious just erases it.  selectively my brain intuits the bad information and the door slams shut. i suspect the little girl feels the kittens have no future without their mother and death seems the humane option.  the child’s reasoning is black and white only; no mother for love and protection equals pain.  death is preferred over that fate.  as an adult, it is so difficult to hold and speak for this tortured child whose brain has been forced to cope more in the dark side than the light and cannot see options other than provided by the ignorant.  her act of drowning the animals was a merciful one meant to relieve the inevitable suffering.  and even though her sweet gentle soul has already been splintered into a million tiny shards, she is unyielding.  she won’t stop sending messages through the mundane or the divine to get the help she needs to achieve grace for her broken soul; this lifetime or the next twenty, it doesn’t matter.  and that’s what i’m here for; to put us back together and stop this insane cycle.

i snap back and i’m holding a kitten under the water in the deep puddle.  it struggles with all its might, scratching my small hands and writhing for air.  i watch myself bear down on it harder and push down further, seeing small red lines appear on the backs of my hands, listening to the other kittens mewing hysterically.  i feel nothing.  absolutely nothing.  i should but i don’t.  i want to vomit while i write this because it isn’t me, not really me but yet it is and this is my attempt to let her tell her most awful secrets.  now she gets to say that things happened to her that made her do awful things that she so desperately wants forgiveness for, to be entirely heard and understood.  i will let her tell her story to me and i’ll repeat it for you.  i was and still am her host.  she lives within me.  her hands are my hands and we did this together, we tried to drown kittens. she must say it over and over because to know what it would take for a little girl to be so spiritually devoid of feeling, because the men continue to leave her in such intense pain that her brain splits only to return to take the tiny innocent creature to its death, making it part of the cycle of pain and relief.   i’m gone again.

my sister slaps me across the face and grabs the kitten from my hands.  i’m glad.  i look up at her with my face burning but am still glad, the hot pain of the slap is so insignificant.  the kitten is saved and for this one moment there is a presence out there who is monitoring us.  my sister in on guard and taking action.  not sure how she got there, but feel that i can rely on her for the moment to carry us through this.  she is so angry and annoyed with me but i don’t care, it doesn’t matter what she feels toward me as long as she continues stay present as i attempt to make sense out of me coming and going in the hellish existence of my brain.  i realize that my clothes are soaked and i’m shivering from the cold but still no one notices. my small shaking body are of no consequence but i do have the presence of mind to consider that i might be yelled at for adding to the laundry pile should i decide to change from my wet clothes.

my sister has the kittens wrapped in a blanket and is attempting to feed them some milk.  she will do this for weeks until they grow strong and able to make it on their own.  i join her in warming them and feel a strange spark of compassion that keeps me present while i nurture the feeling of wanting them to live.  i’m shaken to the core at the gigantic swing of my emotions; from dead and unfeeling to sobbing for them to live.  my actions are coming back to me, washing over me in hot waves and i begin the familiar routine of hating myself.  the heaviness is here, the type that comes from emotion so exhaustingly polar that i feel the sudden need for sleep.

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