Write? How?!?

When my anxiety is at peak performance I feel like I am being smothered with bubblewrap. If I move it will pop pop pop and my face will cringe, my fists will tighten, my heart will beat faster.
That’s how I feel now.
I woke up dandy! I feel great! I just don’t want to disturb the force!
I feel like ending everything I type with an exclamation point!!! Because I’m anxious!!!!!
See? Can you feel the stress of nothingness as you read that?
My anxiety has given me writers block.
It’s driving me crazy. The kind of crazy that comes along when you’re weeding a garden and find that never ending crab grass. No matter how much you yank, cut, pull…it’s there, mocking you!
I know this dose of jitters will end when I find the words for what I’m avoiding, or over compensating for.
What am I afraid of and distracted by? Everything or nothing. When I figure it out I am sure the drops of words will turn into the waterfalls of wisdom, words to live by.
For now, it’s just heavy. It’s hurting. It’s lonely.
I don’t feel it. But IT is there.
My inner human is acting like a child. I want to be out in the world, while my take charge brain screams to shelter in place. Beware. Stop. So much happens out there. In here is where safety is found.

Stuck at the Gate

I arrived home, realizing I’d been avoiding my mailbox like the plague. My life has been busy lately, and busy tends to be translated as anxious x10 to my worrisome mind.

I killed our lawn mower. My husband killed our SUV and my van nearly died. All in that order over a three week period. While I’d like to say I handled this and the heating element of my dryer also dying with grace and patience…I did not. (But I sure thought I did!) It’s was all well and good until I showered a few nights ago. Then the tears fell – over my inability to use the soap dispenser with my ‘write’ hand. I sat down and sobbed, which made it worse, which made me sadder still. (Holy shit it’s been a ride. So glad I can’t repeat the past.)

Air drying towels and jeans should be a sin. There’s nothing I hate more than crispy towels and crunchy jeans. I can only compare it to stale cereal. Just yuck.

Anyway. That’s not what this is about.

In my mailbox was a letter…from my mother. Her cursive writing that spelled out my name and address made me feel heavy, like a laundry basket full of wet towels. I just placed it under my arm, walking inside feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders…

As I opened the envelope and pulled out the card I could see through the light blue background more cursive, more wordy thoughts, more glaring, dead references about my life, because judging is what she has always seemed to do best when it came to me. There wasn’t a bit of space left. Words were everywhere.

Not now I thought. I just can’t. I put the baby to sleep. I did dishes, folded clothes. I could not forget I’d gotten it.

Mom wrote…

Dear Bits, I was in a car accident in December in Portland. I was on my way to see my friend, my best friend since preschool. She took her own life. I didn’t know. It happened in October, but her husband hadn’t told anyone. He sent my Christmas card back, writing on the back that she’d passed. I called him and he told me everything. Just so sad.

I felt like the world had swallowed me up. 

I felt like an asshole.

I felt like a selfish asshole.

I read the rest. Out of guilt, out of remorse, and because my shame compelled me to.

Deep breath. It’s just words right?

My mothers parting lines – 

I want to ask your forgiveness and begin the restoration of our mother/daughter relationship. Let us cross over the bridge together that has kept our relationship apart, and move forward.

In my 35 years of life, not once has she said ‘I’m sorry’ for the things she’s done. Though she raised me to say it, believe it, bleed that forgiveness from every sorry pore.

I’m not ready

Deep breath

I don’t want to put away that list

The one filled with pain

Of abuse and manipulation

That one that keeps me here

Standing at the gate

My mother, filled with religion, with blame

The abyss I see just before the bridge she asks me to cross with her

I can’t

I know I should. I know that. Everything I have ever been taught, by her no less, has shown me it’s better, easier, right to cross that bridge. Everything , every Thing she’s ever done has only led me to a road void of love, and laden with the pot holes of her heavy hand, my burden to lay bare here.

Here is where I admit I hate the things she did/didn’t do. My own seething anger for all the times she beat the shit out of us because she wasn’t stable, able, willing to love – it leaves a taste of bitter fruit. The thought of letting go is at first so enticing, until a bite is taken and the drip of reality hits my palette. I can’t…

…But I will.

Imprint of Anxiety

Hands tense
Muscles tight
Stomach turning

The sun fades
Behind the trees

My heart
How it aches

The pit of my soul
Is trying to break free
From the roots
Which hold me

Hostage in my world

The corners are closing in

Worthless words
Meaningless love

These roots are suffocating me

Time holds no key

My eyes
They are ashamed of me

Father, Teacher, Friend

He made them a fortress on the wood line, on a broken oak from the storm two years ago. Hobbling on the knees that caused him so much pain. He cut most of that tree, a little each day. Rolling the trunk chunks to fit under the corners just so. A look of pain in his eyes but a smile upon his face

He goes to work each day, EVERY day, without complaint and always/only for his family. For 18 years. Without fail, without expectation of grander dividends.

He goes to the school plays, graduation ceremonies, family outings and fishing trips despite his desires to escape the crowds. He throws the parties and sings the songs even though he’d rather find a quiet mountain to stand on.

He holds his children when they cry and picks up his babies when they reach for him, all while hiding the pain in his back. 

He teaches our children to fish. Teaches them to defend themselves and others. He shows them how to make cookies, pie crust and pasta, even when he’s been up all night tossing and turning. He sows the seeds and teaches our children how to make them grow.

*****

Bravo, thank you for the days, months, years, of being present in our children’s lives. Thank you for the life lessons, momentous occasions, small moments, and life you have helped to provide for our seven children. Each one of them have the best of you. You never hesitate to stand up for them, and give them what we didn’t have most years of our lives…a father. Loving, playful, hard-working, hilarious.

Happy Fathers Day my love. 

Remember Why

 

General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, promulgated General Order No. 11, which was the first official promulgation of Memorial Day. General Order No. 11 provided that flowers be placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers on May 30, 1868.
“Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

President Ronald Reagan remarked on a Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery –
“…the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others.”
President Reagan on the soldiers of the Viet Nam War –
“They chose to be faithful. They chose to reject the fashionable skepticism of their time. They chose to believe and answer the call of duty … They seized certainty from the heart of an ambivalent age; they stood for something.” “We owe them something, those boys … a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, know that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.”

Unfortunately, the ravages of time have yielded not only neglect, but also forgetfulness. In 1971, the fatal error occurred – the Uniform Monday Holiday Act fixed the celebration of Memorial Day to the last Monday of May. Congress, botching up its own creation, corrupted it with a three-day weekend. The “most sacred day of the year” was perverted into an empty excuse for barbecues, sales, and mini-vacations.
(Judge Michael Warren/Co-Creator of Patriot Week)

 

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Now that you have a brief history about Memorial Day, I’d appreciate your indulgence for a few more paragraphs…

To those misguided but life-loving souls that protest what our country was built upon and is still protected by – please remember that the sales you’re shopping this coming weekend were built upon those same graves, same loss, same love, same dedication to something/someone greater than themselves.

The bigger picture if you will, is that every service member who dies while enlisted CHOSE that. They chose our Republic and what they feel it should stand for. Their choice was/is one of such selflessness, bravery, honor. The fallen deserve more than just a day but for just one day please, please acknowledge that what you/we have is because someone you may never know fought for it. Blood, sweat, tears.

To those who’s family members have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom to love who we choose, live how we choose, God Bless You. You’re loved ones are never far from my family, our prayers, our time. We love you. We are here for you. Come what may – war and peace – we will never turn away from you.

 

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To those who will enjoy a three day weekend, a barbecue with family/friends, enjoy it. Be present for every moment. Stand in awe of what you have and take a little time to be remember  WHY you have your little bit of heaven.

“I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and Support and Defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means.” – John Adams (1776)

 

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For The 22 We Lose

 

For him some days are harder than others. Behind the green eyes I fell in love with is another time and place that I cannot go. Hidden deep within his heart so very broken are the lives that have made him unbreakable. The men whose names are forever etched in his mind and closer still as he paces, smoking…

Some things are best kept between him, God and his infantrymen. A loss that I can never fathom but that I have felt, often, as he sleeps – at times running to those he’s lost, to the one he still searches for. In all these many years there are finally heavy moments which quickly fade…or so he would have me believe. I know it is the silence he fears. That quiet goodnight that allows the demons he fights to strengthen. Still after all this time he wakes to check on his brothers. Like a photograph – he lives in a world paused by the scars he has endured. The body he pushed to save all those beside and behind is now turning on him. His heart beats harder, faster. His new knees buckle. His back aches.

 

For several years after I met my husband I saw his struggle with the service he chose and the severe PTSD he did not. It is never easy to watch someone we love make an enemy of themselves and as a result…those that love them.

Through it all his ability to laugh at himself and the shit and mire he went through with his brothers was unchanged, and is what I love most about him. Bravo and I have spent many long nights talking about those he has served with, and in many ways still carries the load for. Loyal and tough, my husband has done well hiding his pain from us, but it lingers behind his smile and beautiful eyes.

As with most of the brave men he has served with the desire to remain in the fight ebbs and flows with the tide. The internal conflict between his sense of duty and the resounding effects of being abandoned by the government and civilians whose freedom he chose to fight for does not leave him. There is rarely a night that his battle goes quiet while he sleeps.

My husband decided to write down the angst bottled up over the years a long time ago but his heart had always stopped him, or the symptoms of his PTSD would be just enough to push him from the paper. When he finally dove in I was proud of him. I understood the long sleepless nights ahead would in the long run be healing…even if in the short term I knew the man I love would fight his demons all over again.

It is never easy to stand by while our husbands relive these stories, and writing them, reading them over and over takes its toll. My husband has lost years to his past and his present is once again filled with nights pacing our deck. Tears for those moments he will never share but that play like a broken record in his mind. He keeps going for his fellow men, and for those that can’t tell their own story. He has shared many things with me over the last 17 years, but to read of the life that most nights haunt him, well, truly breaks my heart…but never have I been more honored to be his wife.

I am not sharing this for what I feel is deserved gratitude for my husbands service but for the battles that never left him and for those who’s fight with combat related PTSD has ended needlessly. 22 United States Veterans commit suicide each day. In 24 hours, 22 amazing human beings will have their struggle end and for the people who love them, a new struggle begins. 22 men and women-fathers/sons/brothers, mothers/daughters/sisters die each and every day fighting with the same heart beat as my husbands. Wives like me lose their best friends and children like ours will never again get to hear their fathers laugh. Their deaths are not to be ignored and their lives still stand for those they protected even in such tragic loss. Their sacrifice is not in vain. Their beautiful souls simply couldn’t contain what they felt every moment of every day – saving those who wanted a life of freedom and choice – while seeing the very worst of humanity.

I love you my sweet husband. Do not think I don’t see you struggling tonight. I am here, always. I will never give up on you. Thank you for standing tall, and for showing me what it is to be human.

*Please take the time to watch this. Thank you.*

 

 

 

 

Of Pain and Pressing On…

 

 

**{ For those that are survivors of sexual assault/abuse please be aware that the following  may bring up the trauma of your past/present. This post is not for the eyes or minds of children. Thank you. }**

 

 

There is a deep, throbbing, hypothermic kind of loneliness that gnaws at my soul. The kind of chosen exile a victim seeks and though no fault of their own, feels guilty for wanting as they grow older. Though the moments of such pain are fleeting with the change of each season…the off putting desire for isolation rears its ugly head from time to time.

I have sat on my bed, many many many nights trying to write a ‘story’ about being a sexual assault victim, but it’s just not going to happen. Unlike the things I usually write about, even after all these years, it’s just so hard. It’s more than just a small moment in time. It’s the smells I fear. It’s the music that haunts me. It’s the man that took a part of who I was, and not just my body. It’s the things I will never get back, that he still takes from me. The people who still blame me, who use it as a means to bleed me emotionally.

Writing as if I was old enough to understand the intense trauma that was happening to me is impossible. I was thirteen, just a child. To say that the man who raped me was just some guy is not realistic. He is a predator, a man who worked for my father, and, looking back groomed me, gained my trust for several months. My father too busy, my rapist would offer to pick me up if I missed the bus, wanted a ride into town. He was 29, had short brown hair, clean shaved. Light eyes and tall. Unassuming.

I was told it was my doing, as I went there with his promise to buy my friends alcohol for a party. It was New Year’s Eve. He lived in the building my father owned. The Chaplin lived below him. I was told I deserved it, that I got exactly what I should have. By adults, by people that should have loved me, by people that say ‘I love you’ even now.

He made me a screwdriver, in a big gulp cup. He turned on The Cranberries song so popular for the time, and told me to relax. He walked out of the room. It smelled of overly ripe fruit…and Palmolive dish soap. A man I didn’t know left, closing the door quietly behind him. After a few drinks I started to feel sick, not drunk, but foggy, things became blurred. I remember trying to smile as he walked toward me, but I couldn’t move my mouth. I remember trying to talk…nothing. My arms were heavy like they had been weighed down or tied.

As he raped me, I could see out the window across the street. My friends were on the porch celebrating the holiday, drinking, laughing. I prayed one of them would look up and see me. Praying for help. Silent.

My mind was screaming for them. I tried but could not fight. My body was worthless, and he made it so. Like molten glass against my womb I screamed and screamed. Nothing. I felt my eyes bulge as I tried to move. The strain of my muscles searing in pain to escape. I could not move. Silent. Petrified.

I don’t know how long it lasted, or how often I faded in and out. I know I don’t remember everything. I remember the pain. I remember the smell of sweat, fear. Life altering pain. All consuming fear.

My friends were suppose to pick me up 15 minutes after I got there. I don’t know when they showed. In my younger years I would’ve said an hour, if you asked me now I would say hours, a lifetime, eternity.

They began pounding on his door. One friend found me on the couch. The other confronted him. Two more blocked the door. I was picked up, pants down, and brought to the bathroom. Cleaned my face. Held me up and carried me down the stairs while someone called someone and then I was whisked away to a home I lived in briefly, while I came to. The sun should have been up by now, but the world was dark. The police were called, I was taken to the hospital, a rape kit was used. I was stripped. I was photographed, swabbed, nails were dug in to. Prescriptions were given to prevent pregnancy, and to protect from std’s. Statements were given by the friends who showed too late. Blood was never drawn.

The man that raped me ran. He drove far away, stealing my fathers police scanner from the funeral home, and ran like a coward. He told someone a few weeks prior to raping me that he ‘liked them young’. I was young enough that I looked like a little girl. I was maybe 5 feet tall, blonde hair, 90 lbs, and I was wearing Levi Silvertab jeans, faded light blue, and an oversized Columbia ski vest over my white t-shirt. I was a child. I shutter to think that perhaps I wasn’t his first. God I can’t think about it.

I was told my father tried to find him, he wanted him dead. The police interviewed the Chaplin. Devastated when he realized it was his friends daughter, he later told me he cried. Beside himself he said if only he had known. He was a good man, a military Chaplin. Covered in tattoos from a life far gone but always given away with his sad, loving eyes. Detectives tracked down the roommate, who never looked at me, and he said nothing. Nothing. My rapist turned himself in some time later, hours away, and was brought back to be formally charged.

I remember walking into the prosecutors office. It smelled like copy paper, and freshly printed paperwork. Terrified. Told it was my fault I said nothing. Only that I wouldn’t testify. My mother looked at me with contempt…disgust. I was a child.

My friends refused to be totally honest about why and how we all ended up there, surely because they feared being arrested.

My mother went to the hospital, and the police station to retrieve my belongings from that night. I told her I didn’t want them. A few years ago she was still wearing my ski vest. It’s tan, with an aged black and brown zipper. It’s soft and comfortable. She wears it without a care. It makes me ill.

The man who raped me pled guilty to statutory rape, was sentenced to 3-5 years. I don’t know when he was released, but I remember seeing a man that I thought could have been him years later, and suddenly I remembered the smell of his apartment. His walk. His breath. Terrified I left the store.

A young man with the same first name as my rapist touched my belly when I was pregnant with my first child and I had my first panic attack. I was beside myself. Frozen in time. The young man wasn’t a bad person. He was mortified at my response. I hit him so hard that my hand was bruised. I had hurt someone because I was so very wounded, after all that time.

About five, maybe six years ago I received a check in the mail for just over $800. It was from my states victims compensation fund. The man who raped me had been arrested, and in order to be released he had to pay his bail…and restitution. My mind, my heart, my body, was worth $800 and a note in the checks memo…my case number I think. That child remained terrified. After all those years, I could see his face.

I remember after I was raped that I would constantly walk out of my bedroom to make sure I wasn’t alone. I remember how conflicting that was with the need to escape myself. I began cutting my wrists, the inside of my thighs, never too deep. Enough to feel a mental release of my emotional torture. To wound my sickening body. It was euphoric, yet I cried. I was afraid of myself. He took everything from me, and I hadn’t even begun to live. I showered constantly and scrubbed myself until I was raw, until hives would appear. I needed to feel clean. I wanted to die. I wanted to find him and cut off his dick. I wanted to torture him. I wanted him to die so that I wouldn’t have to in order to survive.

It’s been many many years since I was forced to carry the title of rape victim. My life has changed. I was given a family of my own. I was baptized, and found Gods Grace. Rarely do I think of my sexual assault. It’s been a hard and painful road. Climbing up a steep and burning slope before I could see the light of day, of God, of a future I wanted to be a part of. I have little value in myself, and to be honest I’m not worthy of love in my heart, my mind. But in my soul…deep within where only God can touch, I’m beautiful. I’m whole. I’m loved. In that small place, I’m not a victim but a survivor. It is with that still small voice, and my faith, that I’m able to let that small light shine bright. I made it. I’m here. And for those who suffer alone…I won’t be silent.

 

 

**{ You are not alone. You are loved. You are beautiful as you are. Time, as it is, will pass on and can become part of your healing rather than  the still burning embers of your loss. }**

Catching Hell

I am struggling
I tried
I’m hurting
Why is that my problem
You’re hurting me
I can’t help you’re perception
I love you
You love me
I need you
I don’t want you
Please stop
I want this
You’re damaging me
I don’t care

What’s your problem
….

Why can’t you just be happy
I don’t know
You’re so fucking ungrateful
I’m sorry
This is all your doing
….
You’re fucking warped
I’m sorry
You’re a fucking control freak
I need to trust you
I don’t care what you think of me
Why am I here

Please give me reassurance
It’s okay to feel threatened
I’m begging you to stop
It’s your fault…just keep your fucking mouth shut.
I’m not okay
Everything’s fine until you start in.
I love you
….

Put in Place

The line fades…
…hair falls,
…shadow closes in.
The ears ring…
…door slams,
…heart breaks.
The days few…
…hope little,
…power gone.

Taking what it wants,
…Leaving empty handed,
…Needing what it hasn’t…

…Never alone,
…Never forgotten,
…Never release,
…Never loved…
…And never over.

The color faint…
…fear lingers,
…dark remains.
The pain forever…
…waste builds,
…filth is seen.

The memories felt.

The time frozen.

The life broken.

Answers

Many many times I have stayed up all night with my children. Sickness, new teeth, heartache and loss. My fondest memories are always of them after they fall asleep. Even now, seemingly unneeded and often feeling unwanted by my son Jay, I peer into his room and for just a moment I watch him sleeping. He’s so calm, not a bit like the teenager I see briefly wander down the hall to and from his junior man-cave.

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life as a parent, and I’d like to think that I have learned from them. I keep reminding myself that this too is merely a season, all be it a really rough one.

Jay has anxiety (GAD). It’s a thorn in his side and an ache in my heart. We butt heads constantly and I am forever trying to reach out, let him know I’m here. His symptoms are so similar to mine at his age, but unlike my mother, I have refused to give up. I will never disown him. I can’t begin to describe what it feels like to be told that I was owned, and then thrown out time and time again….

I was given to a family at around 9 years of age, just down the road from my mom, and my brother. I remember the family very well. Both of their girls were adopted. For the first time since my dad had left I felt whole again. It was for lack of a better word ‘normal’…how I thought a family should be. I know my mom would stop by, usually to start a fight with me, eventually with the mother and then she would disappear again. Then after about six months I was back home – devastated. I remember thinking how bad I must be if they didn’t want me either. Then again at 11. When I was twelve I ran away from our tiny home (or as it was once called ‘the servants quarters’) to the home next door where my friend lived. I stayed there two nights, in her closet. A window in her bedroom faced the walkway to our door. Hearing my dads voice I crawled slowly from the closet floor and listened…

“What the hell is going on?” He said.
“She just wants attention.” My mom growled.
“I don’t have time for this shit, I have a life.” He walked away.

I was right there. Heart broken. Too afraid to say what had happened, what had been done to me as a child, I was frozen in time. Lost. Alone.

I left the closet a few hours later and walked through the alley-ways to my school, terrified I was going to jail… Or possibly to burn in hell. I walked straight into the office. The counselor greeted me. (I had talked with him a few times.) My mom arrived soon after. They disappeared into the back room and I was left toiling over the infinite possibilities for punishment. I knew it would be bad. A door ripped open, and my mom stormed out. She didn’t look at me once. Not even a glance. I was sent to class after I gave the counselor my reason for running away.
I didn’t want to go back. Home wasn’t home for me.

Again I was told I had no right to feel, and that I wasn’t forgiven though I pleaded with her to do so. She told me the school counselor was a fraud, a fake, and stupid. He had told her she was a terrible mother. Her anger grew and I felt this immense need to flee. Run. Anything. She swung at me and I hit her first. I was in shock having never hit anyone other than my brother…which usually led to mutual destruction. She froze. I screamed as loud as I could in her face…

“Don’t ever fucking hit me again! Evvvvverrrr!”
She didn’t.

After a few months of battling with her, watching her turn her anger for me to my brother, I stepped between them so she would stop smacking him, so hard, so loud it sounded like paper ripping, with a wet cloth, cornered behind our front door. Once again I shouted for her to stop. Face red, eyes filled with both rage and fear, she grabbed one of my arms and threw the cloth at us. It was fall, my favorite season. On Thanksgiving day she kicked me out.

This was my childhood, and eventually my brothers, although he seemed to be accepted more as a human being instead of a worthless, dirty piece of trash. I know our mom loves us, and she has taken steps to get help, taking medication for depression (possibly). To this day she stands by the claim that God told her to let me go, that it’s my fault. She has told my son she hates him. She had told me to send my son away.

Through the years, I have asked myself how I could not know I was suffering from Anxiety, OCD, PTSD. Why didn’t I see it. I suppose it’s hard for someone to wonder why I had a family at all. My answer is this –

You can’t know what you don’t know…and I thought, with every bit of pain, every heart beat, every skipped meal, that I was normal. It’s all I knew. It’s all I had.

I have a family because I’m worthy of one, and I love deeply and forever. Unfailing, unfaltering…My little bit of heaven.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…and my family is the most chaotic, loud, beautiful masterpiece I will ever create.