Category Archives: inner child superhero

shining Father’s shoes

This is going to be one of those stories that makes me queasy to put down on paper.

I already have a tightness in my stomach and my head is starting to swim.  I don’t feel eloquent and words are not flowing from me.   I  feel little, vulnerable, and so desperate. But I need to write about this and force myself to go forward with it because to truly release the hold that trauma and shame have on one’s soul, you must drag it into the light no matter how difficult that is.  It must be removed from the rat’s maze in one’s head, doomed to run the same rutted path.  Once its out, you can look at it, dissect it, let your loved ones look squarely at your worst fears and help reassure you.  Otherwise it stays inside and festers into illness of your body and soul.

Somewhere as a little girl of 5 or 6, I got the idea that men liked having their shoes shined.  I’m thinking that during the 40 and 50’s that may have been true when men dressed more formally and wore dress shoes as daily attire.  I’m sure it was considered a treat to sit at one of those stations and have someone spiff up their shoes a bit and most people’s houses I knew had a tin of shoe polish and a shining cloth as part of their household items.  I must have seen these items lying around or saw a scene in a movie of men having their shoes shined and internalized this thought.

This is where my thinking goes astray.

Why on earth, would I consider myself to be so subordinate and subservient to put myself in a position that I would kneel in an attendant position in front of my father, voluntarily lower myself to an inferior status, is a question that I haven’t completely answered yet.  I  know that I would practice on shoes that he wasn’t wearing, rubbing vigorously as if on a time schedule, practicing my efficiency. I don’t remembering him ever asking me to shine his shoes, I just wanted to. I’m guessing I thought it would gain me some approval from my ever distant father, the father whose only attention came at night, in secret, in the dark.  

I wanted to do anything, including prostitute myself to gain his affection and admiration.  This I know for sure, my motivation was his approval.  I would wait for him to come home, having rehearsed and practiced my craft and convince him to sit on the upper part of the picnic table while putting his feet on the seating area.  It was there that I would kneel in front of him, apply the polish and pop the buffing cloth showing my expertise until he would smile at my skills.  Even at those moments when  had his approval, I found it still wasn’t enough and proceeded to spend my lifetime trying to fill that leaking sieve of a psyche that would spill its contents as fast as it would come to me.

Adding insult to injury, my family, so very cruel with words, reinforced my shame by reminding me that I was a deplorable, pathetic girl who couldn’t get enough attention.  “you are a spoiled rotten child who always has to be the center of attention”  echo in my mind. Those types of scenarios set the stage for a lifetime driven to fill the emptiness by doing anything to gain approval from my father and subsequently other men throughout my life.  Shining shoes was just the beginning.

My daddy taught me to be comfortable kneeling down in front of him, being servant-like in my approach to him, letting me humiliate myself with so little regard for my dignitiy.  Weren’t you the one who should have instilled a sense of myself instead of teaching me to be your dirty little slave child?  You had already stripped me of the innocence  of my body and now you were closing in my soul.  Damn you.  I hate you so much right now.

I see that beautiful little girl with her rag and polish, waiting for you to come home so she could endear herself to you by lowering and subordinating herself and all the while you were perfectly, fucking fine with it?  How come I can look at her and see her beauty and you can’t? 

Thank God for my anger because it is my fury that sets her free.  Here’s where she and I rewrite the story.  I tell her to get up and I hold her tight, whisking her away to a place where she is honored and cherished and not depersonalized.  I set her down in a soft place to heal and teach her ways to find her beauty.

You never thought I would grow up to be intelligent and courageous about all of this dysfunction, did you?  You never thought that I could outsmart and outwit you by escaping far into my brain only to thaw out later.  You had not idea of my strength as I tackled all the screwed up thinking given to me by you. BUT I DID.  Guess what? You are dead and I’m over here finding and claiming my power.  Little by little, memory by memory, I am blotting you out, I’m blotting out all of the men you let near me, I’m reprogramming my brain, one tiny detail at a time until soon, I will have a completely new way of seeing myself and the terror I grew up with.

So yeah, I knelt before you, like you were some savior or God to me.  I did that.  I was a child that didn’t know any better and relied on a monster for a father for some shred of attention..

But that was then and this is today, I’ve long gotten her out of that cesspool of existence.  

Kiss my ass and shine your own fucking shoes.

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she’s ranting again…

Good Lord, I don’t even know where to start.

Here’s the thing about a rant.  It zig zags around, not  following any particular order, a cathartic serving of bottled up emotional energy and other crap.  Its taken me months to put this certain stream of events in order and now that I have, I’m pretty pissed.  Perhaps some of the folks who subscribed to this blog are expecting only my visions of beauty and introspection and yes, there will be some of those.  But, here’s a spoiler alert for the faint of heart, bail out now, cause i’m pissed.  This is about my anger about betrayal.

I feel betrayed.  I feel betrayed on several levels by comments made to me by family/friend  that “you drive people away” with my disassociative  episodes.  So here’s is where I’m gonna break that apart and maybe someone else can get the benefit of this mess.

One of the first things I remember learning in Sunday school (of all places for me, since I’m a very infrequent church attender) is that one didn’t assign judgement to the person but instead to their behavior.  I learned that day that people aren’t bad but sometimes do bad things.  Susie isn’t a bad girl for hitting the boy on the playground but Susie did a bad thing by choosing.  (Of course, I always figured that Susie didn’t do a bad thing and the boy most certainly deserved it and had it coming, but that is another character flaw meant for another blog post)…..Now this is a really broad statement that can be debated forever by great legal, philosophical and ethical minds but for here we are keeping it simple and going with the fact that people aren’t bad but their actions sometimes are.

But what about in the case of someone having an illness that causes them to do something that is uncomfortable, inconvenient or even frightening?  What then?  Is the diabetic “bad” because she lapses into a coma in public causing everyone to scurry around and tend to her?  I wouldn’t think so.  Do we scold and shame her for not watching herself closer and tell her she is driving her family away with her condition? That doesn’t even sound right.  But that  is the scary reality of those with fragile diabetic conditions, among many other conditions, that if not monitored they could become unable to care for themselves and need help.  And I hope always that their families approach them with compassion and care.  

Is the elderly person moving slowly through the grocery store doing that on purpose to anger those around her who believe she should keep up the pace?  God no.  But there are those with huge egos that will look upon her with scorn at the very prospect of her getting in their way.  And again, I hope we always can view her as human being moving at the cadence perfect to her at that moment.

But what about the invisible mental illness and specifically disassociation?  When a child is subject to repeated trauma, there is an inevitable and glorious place that their brains take them to survive the horror where they can camp out until the danger passes.  Then once the trauma is over, they can gradually find their way back and piece themselves together.  Hopefully and ideally this is how it works.  I find this whole concept of beautiful design and thank God for creating such a beautiful place to go amidst such ugliness.  The brain becomes familiar with this escape route and uses it whenever necessary albeit sometimes with faulty implementation, meaning one can become overly dependent on escaping.

But what if that part doesn’t learn to re-integrate and gradually over time becomes stuck in that limbo, that in between purgatory place?  That splintered part can become dead to our conscious selves, silent for years or decades and for some folks, it never appears.  The disassociated self becomes so adept at splitting and creating its own personality/personalities but continues the entire time to record any and all events, smells, light, and energy, down to the tiniest detail of the traumatic events.  It stores them and hides them so well that often we don’t even know that other self/selves are there, its as much of a surprise to us as it is to the family who surrounds us who watch us behave in ways seen in the worst horror movies.  When that tiny self decides it is time to emerge, that their surroundings are safe enough to come out and that they don’t have to stay cloaked and cloistered any longer, it can be a small tiny drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet or it can be a tsunami taking down everything in its path or something in between.

So are we to blame?  Would we ever ask the disassociated among us to keep that part inside or somehow hide it because its ugly, unpredictable, “not done in our family”, messy or just plain freaky?  Some will say yes to themselves because the thought of having such reality thrust into their lives just sends them spinning.  Most will say no, that we shouldn’t hide those people away but silently thank the universe for not putting those troubled souls in their world for them to deal with.  Maybe because I’m in the population of the “split and fractured” that I’ve decided to embrace this tiny little girl for the freaking superhero that she is and not only revere her but defend and spout back to my people that they need to look at themselves closer if they can’t handle looking at her.  I think she rocks and I’m done hiding her even if she appears ugly to some, she’s beautiful and courageous to me.  And I’m looking the world straight in the eye now, for her and for me.

Now in the end, I will settle down about this.  Will I find another word to replace betrayal?  Probably, because overall I do have a huge tendency to see the other person’s side as well as smooth out differences with anyone I’ve gotten crossways with.  I also want them to understand that judgement in this situation is trauma layered with more trauma to the very confused survivor trying to make sense of the insides of their own soul.

Will I forgive the people who don’t understand?  Maybe in time, but I know I will forgive them more for me than them.  This is a concept that I continue to learn about but have a really difficult time with.  The example that made the most sense was Oprah‘s comment that “not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting it to hurt the other person” or something close to that…but you get my drift.  I know its the right thing to do and will continue praying for my ego to melt enough for forgiveness to happen.  

But, I have also learned a very valuable lesson as I search out who to trust and who not to.  Survivors are awful at trust.  We want to so badly yet often choose people that we shouldn’t trust or at least trust so entirely when we should have pulled back the reins a great deal.  I can’t speak for all survivors but this seems to be the general trend for myself and as I’ve heard it from others.  But here’s the thing that I have gotten from all this soul searching and pain, I have to trust myself fully and others somewhat.  This will give me the most peace and serenity.

Done for now.


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