Heart Strings

A song, a smell, a sound, a memory
This wave’s impact, comes in fast like a tsunami
It hits you in the chest and takes away your breath
The overwhelming sadness that comes with a loved one’s death
It’s taken this long to listen to songs that he used to
I cry in public places, knowing there’s things we can no longer do
There’s some that I still can’t, too much for my heart
Collapsing a little each time, the strings fall apart
How long must I survive him and go on as if I could
When I fall apart at Merle Haggard’s “Are the good times really over for good?”
How long will I regret all the words left unspoken
As I grow older than he was with a heart that is broken

The Shift

I was going through my writings, examining the words that came from a very dark place and some that screamed, almost maniacally. I get those times and I’m glad that I was able to move through them. I have been through a lot these past few years. With my brother’s death, though utterly devastating, I have reached a time of abundance.

I think of what it would mean if I were still in the same place and had abundance. I would have wasted it, squandered it all. I am not the same person I was two years ago. I’m not even the same person I was last year. Now that I have gone through a period of solitude and grief, I’m ready to explore the chasms of my soul a little more, inch by inch.

I do not delight in the death of my brother however, I have found a spiritual release in it all. I do feel as if my brother was a part of me, tied to my very soul, and that when he passed, so did the intense weight of all the pain that made us who we were together. He took that part away for me, I feel.

I recall my brother looking at me with a deep sadness and saying, “I hate seeing you like this; it’s like you’re not even here.” I looked at him, barely coherent, with a crushing weight in my chest, and started crying. My voice caught in my throat and I wanted to tell him, “I’m dying” but I knew that he wouldn’t understand.

I thought it was me; I was sure of it. I felt ill, my blood had been rejected by a blood bank, and I had had a strange call from the CDC, asking me questions about my health as well as my lifestyle. It struck fear into me, the dread of mortality. I was in Wisconsin when this all moved me. I had to go home; it was time.

I brought paperwork to our bar, an advanced directory, and I told my favorite bartender to “give it to my asshole brother” the next time he saw him. I asked my brother about it later and he told me that he threw it away because it was “weird” and that he didn’t want to think about it. I felt an urgency to do more but he was adamant about not preparing for our demise before the age of 40.

I spent my days as drunk as I could be, not only because it was the only way that I could spend the most time with him. It was also because that was the only place where I felt I could operate. I knew a change was coming and I was deeply afraid of its consequences. I knew that the life that I knew would end very soon, and it did.

I spent the last year of my brother’s life trying to spend it with him as if I were dying, not really knowing why until the day I saw him walk into the bar that I found myself at first. He told me about his chest before, but this time there was a sincerity that rested on the verge of real, existential fear. I had seen that fear a few times right there in the expression in his eyes, when he had his coughing fits. My brother thought he had a mass. That mass was his heart.

He told me that he felt a pressure but he always said it was on the right side. Sometimes I wonder if he only said it was that side because he knew we’d freak out about his heart. We had a real conversation about it that day. I looked him in his eyes and asked him why he would not go to the Doctor and see if it was something that could be fixed. He looked me square in the eye and said, “If it’s something that can’t be fixed, I’ll just go harder and then everyone will be mad at me for not trying.” I nodded my head in resignation, that this was his choice and told him that I understood.

I kept feeling like things were going to be the last. The last Thanksgiving, the last time he saw my daughter, the last time we drank together. I had quit drinking again for the hundredth time and I couldn’t stand it. I told him, “I want this to be the last, last time we drink together.” We had a great night together but that wasn’t the last time I saw him.

I had come to the house he was living at. He was laying on the couch and wouldn’t look at me. I asked him if he was going to go trim with me up the hill and he declined. He wouldn’t get up to even hug me. I remember crying my eyes out to his friend as she was giving me a ride. I said, “He doesn’t even know. That could be the last time we ever see each other.” It was. I knew. I knew it in my bones and it hurt me more than our mother ever could.

I’ve only known that feeling with my brother, the knowing, the premonition of where things will go. There were times where I knew where he was. I texted him five days before his death, asking him when he was going to come up to Seattle to live with me. I texted him a month earlier saying that I felt nervous and thought that it might be about someone. I told him I loved him in the next text.

Four days before he died I was living with friends. Three of those nights I got absurdly drunk and sat there with tears rolling down my face, looking like a weirdo. One of those days I looked at my co-worker and said, “If I don’t show up to work just know that it’s not in my character to do so.” He looked at me and said, “So I should assume that something bad has happened?” I looked at him somberly, pursed my lips, and nodded, as if in resignation.

The last night with my roommates I told my long-time friend that I wanted to die. I felt it; I really could not handle how much I hurt inside. My friend showed me where the gun was in his couch, as if to dare me. That night I called another friend and asked if I could go to his house to stay. I told him that I didn’t feel safe. He picked me up with all of my things the next evening and I slept on a blow-up mattress in his living-room.

The next day at work I felt increasingly nervous, as if I was going to lose something important to me. I kept trying to read into things. My co-worker took over work that I normally do, they’re going to fire me. I told my other co-worker that I felt extremely insecure that day. During my second break I was alone in the warehouse and I saw someone in the chair next to me. Problem is that no one was physically there when I turned to understand what I saw.

I got the call when I got home. The sound in my sister-in-law’s voice was urgent, “Jessica…Jessica…” Trepidation in my voice, “What is it?” I could feel my heart sinking. Before I knew it I was walking down the sidewalk, hyperventilating and balling, walking to the store to get cigarettes. I cried all night long, and I’ve cried nearly every day since. I miss him so much. I felt him in every part of my being. It doesn’t feel fair that things are going so right right now. I want to share it with him…in some way I’m sure I am.

 

 

The Broken Matter

I’m awake late once again, swimming in a pool of my own self-doubt and these thoughts that encircle my mind. I’m trying to figure out how to make it through in a system that keeps me stuck and a life that makes me feel captive. I have had my fight or flight response enacted so many times that I’ve become a wild thing, unable to stay tethered in any one place. I migrate with the seasons, in my mental health and in my locations. I’m so very close to getting a truck but I still can’t get my license. I can trade my fifth wheel for something more taken care of but them I’d have to give up the truck. I do not want to do that.

The fifth wheel suits me, barely functional but worn down with age and neglect. I try to fix each thing as it comes along and it feels as if that is all that I can handle in my day to day life. I’m struggling financially, mentally, and existentially. I think about all of the people that have been struggling with housing and find myself so blessed to at least have this, still knowing that there is a time constraint and a countdown toward my inevitable move. I wanted to stay, and then I got triggered by an abuser of power.

I got a job right away but I can’t keep it. The darkness that comes with caring for those that are stuck in an in-between makes me think of myself entirely too much. I don’t belong here, society enforces that with my everything I do. I am being punished for mistakes and the system has made me a prisoner. Everywhere I look there are obstacles that I try to skirt around and hurdles that I am too handicapped to clear. I was failed by a system that paints me as a person that should pay, but at what price?

I want to start a narrative, a story of others who are experiencing the same agonizing fate. This Sisyphus curse that keeps me in a never-ending cycle of rising to the top, only to slide backward under the unbearable weight that I keep attempting to get over. I want to watch the weight disappear into a ravine on the other side, never to be seen again. I want it to no longer be a part of my world.

I spoke with a friend tonight who also has PTSD and we marveled at how ineffective we have been in retaining stability. We also both agree that we must’ve done something terrible in a past life and now is our reckoning. I said that we are broken, but we are not completely; we are recovering. I don’t have the tools to do so however, and I need something more. I’m reaching out for it in the dark, looking for a beacon of light to guide the way. I’ve been here for so long that it seems normal and that’s what scares me the most. I’m tired of running from; I just want to run to. I wanna run toward something new and hopeful, not visit the dying every night and be reminded of being stuck inside of a body and mind that doesn’t work in congruence. I will not stop drinking from life’s fountain. I have not lost my appetite for life. I cannot join them in their fate.

My appetite is longing for true sustenance though. I am no longer interested in living a life of discord, where I go to a job every day that slowly breaks me, to dwindle minutely with each punch of the clock. I am going to start looking for another woman like me and write about it. I will choose a new person every block of classes (8 weeks) once I obtain my license. I’m going to share this person’s story along with mine. Just because we cannot tame our beasts, does not mean that we are feral. Or maybe we are. I want to take a true journey into the causes of trauma and how it’s led us to where we are: on the side of the road, sticking our thumbs out hopefully, wondering if anyone should care to give us a lift. Where will it take me? Can I even get to the starting point? All I know is that it sounds better to me than wasting away inside four walls, unable to express myself, lighten my load, and see the world that I have been denied thus far. Perhaps I can take some of you with me. As you read line after line, you can follow along to see what destination I might reach.

The Light on the Sill

When I think about life and the things I’ve been through, I wonder how I’m still here. I question when that one last straw is going to produce that forewarned break. I struggle to make it through every day. Some days are a reprieve and some just keep piling on more pain. It physically hurts, this loss. It permeates the space around me, and I feel like others can feel it too. It’s heavy and debilitating. I keep waking up every morning wondering what’s next, as my life continues to know no certainty. I just said earlier that I have gone through hard times before and that when life was good again, I would look back and thank myself for pushing through. I don’t know if I have the longevity anymore; I question that incessantly. At what point should I just call it, the flatlining of my dreams, the inevitable death of my strength. I don’t have enough; I keep waiting for something beneficial to remain, the reward. It only feels that the demons whose grasp I so desperately tried to escape pursue me without relent. I continue to discover their presence, no matter how hard I try to run and hide. Every time I feel like I’ve got it, I slide back into the darkness with them, into that perpetual forbidden dance. Adorned with this shroud of black, I struggle to perceive the light. The light, the places that I want to light, I have to get back there. Maybe when I can breathe, I will find the gumption in myself to continue on. But for now, in this transition from a life I once knew, to the one I must bear, I will allow myself to mourn.

I’m reminded of a dream that I used to frequently visit. I was a middle-aged woman who lived near the sea. My window used to look out at the shore, and I would always place a lit candle in the sill when the year grew dark. That light was meant to illuminate the way for someone that I loved. He would leave the shoreline in a vessel, drift out of my sight, and I would be left engulfed in the throes of fear. My fear being that the day would come that I would watch him leave, and I would never witness his return. The time transpired when the candle’s light in the window brought no one home, for that vessel had long sailed on. It meant only to remind him that there was still an emptiness in my life and that I thought if him every single day. It meant that my heart would never fully mend until the day that I could join him in the vastness beyond, adrift toward another place not yet explored. I understand that dream now so much more than I ever could before.

Disquiet

Is the source of my unease inside of me?

I want to grab my breastplates and rip them outward so that I can release whatever this is

It consumes me, and I am captive to it, a proverbial cocoon

Feeling like I’m supposed to be doing something

I’m thinking that I forgot something important and I can’t place it

Then I wonder what is truly important, if settling down is really an answer

Because what’s the point? Life never goes the way you plan it anyway

I wanna run, hear my feet hitting the ground, to match the racing of my heart

I want to get on a boat and never look back, leave the shores and explore without reason

It feels that no matter what course I’ve steered toward, that I lost my ability to navigate

I’ve been drawn into this spiritual and mental black hole, having been on the event horizon

That enormous star, having collapsed in on itself, taking away with it all the light

My head pulls me in different directions, defiant toward the moment at hand

I hear the clock ticking, taunting me with the concept of time

My heart keeping right along with it nevertheless

Uncertain of my own veracity to continue on in a similar manner

I dream of being saved from the relentlessness of my mind, from this agony

Where I can shoot a gun, drive a truck into the mud, make love to someone in the moonlight

Or set up a tent in the woods, then stare into a fire until its intensity simultaneously burns away

And as it dies, I’ll scream like the way I constantly have been inside of my head

I can take the ashes with me, a symbol of what’s recently passed, as the warmth undeniably fades away

Always feeling like I’m not enough, that my lively side, the fun-loving side, is gone

That that side was what he represented in the flesh, yet another thing I cannot hold

I heard the songs that made us silly; I thought to call him, to let him know he was there in my moment

But the moment to call is gone and there is no one there to tell a thing

All my innermost thoughts, all my emotions that I never shared with anyone else

What sounding board do I have now? How can I stand to supply my own validity while I crumble?

There were things that made me feel useful, needed, significant

That disappeared the day I repeatedly said no, as if it would change the outcome

There must be some mistake; I’m the one that feels dead

Sometimes I wish it were me because I wouldn’t be the one left here, affected

I’d commonly been alone, however still a part of something beyond myself

What do I have now?

No sense of direction

No confidence in my actions

No best friend to relate to

No conversation that feels worth uttering a word over

My voice caught in my throat, as if it has barbs and means to stay

My shaking, I can’t help it

Is my weakness the symptom or the cause?

So many choices to make

Yet I’m crippled with immobility

Because moving forward means that he’s left further and further behind

Until the day when looking back, I can no longer see his face clearly

Or hear his voice and know he’s near

Or know if my mannerisms are a subtle mimicry

Or if they’re simply physical depictions of my resolve, asking myself to keep at least something with me

As the details woefully fade, blurring into the distance

I wave goodbye to a big part of my life, a huge part of my existence

Then try to fill the empty spaces that appear in his absence

The Pain of Death

I never knew how much death could affect you until it was someone so close to me that I couldn’t ignore it. I can’t deny it; I’ve tried. It’s real, and it’s broken me. I talk to my friends that are mutual, I spend time with those that feel the loss as deeply as I do. I communicate with the ones that I cannot be present with. All the while, they feel his presence with them. We talk to him, we still send him messages. I have conversations with him in my head and sometimes out loud when I get the chance. I don’t know how to exist without him. He was every part of my life, even when he wasn’t there. Every thing that I do, every song that I hear, every show that I watch, there is something left of him right here that breaks me in its recognition.

I want to be happy that I have that but it just hurts, more than any hurt I’ve ever felt in my life. He was half of me; I’ve lost a huge part of myself, and there will never be anything that will fill that void. He left a big hole in my heart and my life that can never be filled or repaired. I can lick my wounds after a long hiatus, but every time I wake up the realization comes to me that he is no longer here.

I can attest to the fact that I don’t feel him every day. I experience life now, knowing that he’s included in every single thing that I do, and I don’t know when the recognition of that will lose its sting. It hurts, more than any pain I’ve ever felt in my life, and it makes me not want to love one more person in my life ever again. He was like my twin; we knew when each other were going through it, and we were there for each other, always.

I remember the times that I was leaving my daughter’s father and my brother would show up out of the blue. He’d assess the situation and ask me where we were going, because he wasn’t going to let me leave alone in the vulnerable state that I was in. He showed up when I tried to commit suicide, when the hormones of birth and the after affects of drug abuse had taken its toll. I wanted to die; I thought that my daughter was better off without me and my weak ass mental state. I didn’t think that it would subside because the trauma that I had been through was constantly triggering me as I was trying to be a new, young, loving mother.

We didn’t have that; our mother didn’t want us around. She used us as a bargaining tool. She used us as a means to hurt our father, the only lifeline she held that anchored him to her. I never wanted that. I loved my daughter’s father, even though he was not the best person when she was conceived. He is better and he is the best thing that she has at the moment and I’m okay with that, even though she is not wanting to connect with me because of the mistakes that I made with her.

It’s not easy, loving people and losing them. I lost my shit when I lost my daughter, when I knew that she was never going to look at me in the same light. I did that. I take accountability for that, but I shouldn’t pay forever. I’m not sure when I’m going to be good enough for her. I’m not sure when I”m going to be good enough for my father, or my sister-in-law, or my nephew. I feel like I’m in a conundrum that will never resolve itself. I feel like they don’t want to admit that they are just as vulnerable and capable of folly as I am. Were they to admit that, then we’d be on the same level, and I’m certain that they hold themselves higher than I currently am.

Certainly I feel lower than everyone else right now. I’ve lost everything that ever mattered to me, even things that I pretended to give importance to. I feel unlovable because the only person that could look at me and hold me on high, was my brother. He knew me like that back of his hand and he saw and felt that I was worthy of so much more. Together we threw our middle fingers in the air and lived the lives that we wanted to without concern for the future or how others would decipher our decisions. We were on the no plan, plan. I didn’t realize that I was going to be left alone with that plan.

Now I have to plan for my own future, one that doesn’t include my best friend. It’s one that doesn’t include the love of my only child. It’s one that has been ostracized by everyone that I thought would be supportive of my grief, people that I thought would understand how lost I am. I don’t know how to exist without my brother. It’s like I’m missing a part of myself, and the song “No one’s gonna love you” by the Band of Horses and it seems to toss my mental well-being in the wind like Thanos got all of the infinity stones and snapped his finger, and my mind was a part that vanished. I turned around and he was gone. I was waiting for him to follow me, like I had done throughout all of the years, he told me so a couple of months before he passed.

What I wouldn’t give for some magical solution like the one I viewed in “Infinity Wars”. That movie was so hard to watch. It was only two days after my brother’s memorial at our favorite bar that I saw that movie in the theaters. I felt personally attacked because I had stopped brushing my hair, let it dread, and began drinking once again after a month of pure sobriety. I never did it for myself; I did it for the people that told me that I wasn’t good enough due to the simple fact that I choose to drink in my free time instead of doing things like hiking, running, and spending my life being a fitness nerd. I’m fittin’ this 12 pack of beer is gonna make me feel numb enough to lie down without my thoughts eating me alive.

Imagine your thoughts as an invisible infection that you can feel, coursing through your mind and your body. I could feel them in my shoulders, making them itch without any recourse. I could dig as far as I wanted to with my nails and never reach to the depth of that irritation, that undeniable sensation that forced me to acknowledge that something was bothering me deeper than any physical motion could reach. The psychological impact of losing everyone that you ever held dear, barring the few that serve as your lifeline, life being otherwise unbearable.

I am thankful for the people that have held me up when I was treading water. I am thankful for the people that excused themselves from my consciousness so that I could have room to come to terms with the fact that my life will never be the same. I will never again waste my energy and my time on the people that do not understand and/or support my gradual decline in strength. I will only hold those that have supported me through my confusion and erratic behavior. I need these people. If I didn’t have them, I would surely perish in my own grief. Though it is sad to see others grieve for my brother, at least it lets me know that I am not the only one that is affected by his passing. I will always have a hole in my heart and my life. I can only hope that those that feel the same can empathize and share their feelings freely with me as well. This is what my brother made me understand, that without people to connect with, this life is a lonely world that has little meaning. Tell the ones that are close to you that you love them, because that is what my brother had always done. Whoever you are, “I love you”; you are worthy of that.

The power of saying, “No”.

It’s always been so hard for me to say that word. I was raised to not know if I could ever say it; I didn’t really think I could. I was groomed to think that it was a word that only bad kids told their elders. I’m an adult now and I can’t count how many times I’ve caught myself with that word in my throat, wondering if it was going to affect someone more than it would affect myself. I think it’s time to look at it a different way. I’m finally seeing it. If I don’t say no, what happens to ME? How is not doing what I want going to affect ME in the long-run?

I spoke with my non-paying client, the paraplegic that I take care of for free. He knew that I was leaving for my own good. He knew a month ago that I was looking for work. I told him that I was not going to be able to work AND go to school AND take care of him. It’s not that I couldn’t pull all of that off but I owe this man nothing and why would I do that to myself when my cause is something greater than one man. The agreement was that I work for my room and board, period, and I’ve been having to buy my own food too. He’s the one that’s stuck for life, not me; I am able-bodied and this body can take me anywhere I want to go.

That’s the beauty of my freedom. I can leave whenever I want to. He seems to think that I am obligated to give him more time. He actually told me NO, that I could not leave yet because I didn’t give him two weeks notice. I told him a month ago, on exactly February 13th. Wanna guess the day that I’m leaving? I’m leaving March 11th; the first of three days I would have had off, what do you know? I remember that Monday I had been quite upset in learning that I did not have enough funding for the next year of school. I told him that I was going to need to find work and that I would not want to live here any longer. I specifically said that I would be looking for a place to move into once I received my student loan money.

I started looking online for rentals and somehow found the place that I want to own…the place that I will do anything within my power to own. That’s what started all of this. First, I was looking for something better after getting back in school and leaving an abusive boyfriend. It turned into being compelled to move to Washington, just looking for anything to tide me over until I got my student loans and figured out what my next steps were going to be. I thought that I could do this forever AND try to help suicidal youth but I’m not a saint, I get tired, and he lied about the amount of time and effort that I was expected to dedicate to him.

Without digressing further, I tried to speak with him about it one more time, me leaving on Monday and he is giving me the silent treatment. He first said that I made up my mind and he only needed me for a little while longer so he’s not talking to me about it any more. A little while longer would have turned into months had I allowed him to use his manipulative tactics and gas-lighting on me. He’s not even paying me. For him to expect me to turn down jobs for staying here with no pay so that his other “worker” can go on a Christian retreat is beyond me. He has a mother, two brothers, and two sons that live in the very same county. How is my presence the only one that he can count on? Does it even matter? I mean, should it matter to me?

So when can I start giving up on this guilt? I know that when I look at it, it tells me that he’s being entirely selfish and non-empathetic to my own needs. I gave more than adequate notice, but he pretends as if he didn’t hear me. I had this conversation with him three different times in three different weeks leading up to this. The word will not lose its value if I say it, in fact, it will have so much more power than I’ve ever thought it could. I’m taking it back, my life. I’m proud of the speech that I gave him. “I told you that I was leaving, several times. Sometimes, I have to allow myself to be selfish too. I have to look out for myself because no one else in this world will do it quite like me. No one else is going to consider the things that I need more than me. This is not even a paying job and I can’t live in servitude any longer. I want to have the freedom to be able care for myself more than I need to care for another person. It’s time. It’s ME time.”

A Final Resting Place

What a strange thing it is to have to mourn a mother that your never had…to come to the harsh, bitter realisation that the person who you needed to raise you was not anything like what a mother is supposed to be. I had to grieve over the loss of a person that I never had, a person that was an illusion. My belief that she ever loved me was a delusion. Her love was a mirage in a desert that I endlessly tried to reach as I was brought to my knees, dying of thirst. I love the water; I need the water. I read in some Freudian dream interpretation book that dreaming of being in water was a representation of a deep-seated longing for being back in the mother’s womb. How much I wanted to be a part of her, for her to truly want to love me. It was never going to happen; it never will. She is incapable of such emotion. Maybe I do love the water because I see the Earth as my mother and I want nothing more than to be near it. Maybe it’s just the feral Earth child in me that used to run through the woods, barefoot and alone, that still resides inside this aging body of mine.

I found a place that I’m in love with. I found a home that I want to make my own…to settle down once and for all and pursue my passion: helping suicidal youth find their light again. My mother was a fantastic interior decorator. She had an eye for things and their placement and could make any house feel like a home inside of a homemaker’s dream type magazine. I see the same talent in this home…that eye for art, personality, and function. I stare at the photos of the place for hours and I dream of making it a part of my reality. Once, I even thought to myself, “This place is so cute, I wish mom could see it.” That thought made me crumble. It hurts in my chest and it makes it hard to breathe. My eyes start to sting, my head starts to ache from my temples to my forehead, and I start to get hot, knowing full well that my face must also be red. Then the air briefly catches in my throat so that I am forced to swallow quickly. She wouldn’t be happy for me. She would find some way to tell me that I could not pull it off, that I would screw it up somehow. She would make me feel like I don’t deserve it and she would do everything in her power to sabotage me if I still foolishly allowed her in my life. She will never change. I have to remind myself of that because I’ve learned that heart-wrenching lesson one too many times.

I’ve moved so much since she’s had time to herself without my daughter under her throes to use to break my heart repeatedly. She has stalked me, and sometimes I feel that it is a very real threat that she might try to kill me for telling my story; she is that vengeful. The most dangerous things that you could ever do toward a Narcopath is to fight them, ignore them, or go “no contact”. She used to stalk my oldest brother. She and her husband used to follow my oldest brother and his family and try to run them off of the road with their vehicle, her own grandchildren in the car. She stalked me when I started fighting her, called the landlord to tell her that there was a disturbance and there were people drinking outside the apartments. I had the landlord look up the phone number and a chill ran through me from head to toe. Why? For the love of God, why? She was trying to establish a record that I was drinking before noon (on my day off, enjoying the sun and a cocktail with my friends) so that she could use it against me in court? Was she just trying to let me know, “I’m still here and you can’t get rid of me, ever”? She is always around every corner in my mind and I can’t wait to be able to live without the fear of having her invade my life anymore. I choose to live behind locked doors. I choose to find places I cannot be found, all out of fear. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to show the world that I can still prosper, even with the threat of her insanity. It was a tactic, to keep me from rising up in my life. I won’t let that tactic work anymore.

I want to move forward. I want to settle and be at ease. I want to wake up one day to the phone call I’ve been waiting for my whole life…that my mother is gone, and she can no longer reach me. Only then will I be able to exhale, and rest assured. Every time I see an old woman with that frail composure and that stupid, curled hair it sends shivers down my spine. I’m taken aback, and the world stops turning for a moment. That is my C-PTSD, from thinking that I might be face-to-face with the monster that held me captive until the age of 34, the one that still haunts me every day. It’s torture that still resonates inside of me, and I’m forced to do positive things for myself to compensate for its toxicity, lest I allow it to poison me. I want her gone from my life. I want my own life, a happy, fulfilled one. I want this new beginning for myself. I deserve this.

Standstill

“I just don’t understand, how could a mother ever do something like that? You’re her child; she gave birth to you. I just don’t see how that can possibly be true. You must be confused or maybe you’re not seeing the things that you did wrong.” I got it all the time, being dismissed and not believed because the things I went through are unbelievable. No person in their right head could imagine the monstrous things she did but there are monsters out there and we hear about them every day. How is this any different? Because she wears the mask of motherhood? I still get dismissed. I have a right to feel angry. I have a right to hate her. I have a right to never forgive or forget. Someone told me, “Well, she has a mental illness so you have to understand from her point of view, she’s sick and she doesn’t know what she’s doing.” She’s sick alright but she knew exactly what she was doing. There is the depravity that borders on the spiritual, the mythical, and I feel it in my soul. I can feel that energy. I felt it from her and I feel it from her sympathizers.

I’m not a sympathizer; I have things that haunt me regarding the abuse of others. One thought keeps popping up in my head and I’m angry with myself for not doing anything. I think about that kid all the time. I wonder if anyone ever thinks about me, if the regret of not having done anything haunts them from time to time. It’s been nine years I think and I feel the pain of it as if it were just yesterday. We were at the creek, swimming at a popular swimming hole in Middletown, CA because it was a hot day. We had been drinking, having fun, socializing and passing the joint.

There was a family that came, hell we were all families, theirs was just one that had a man in it. They came up, a woman, a man, and a teenage boy. We were smoking weed with them and all of the sudden the guy punched the kid in the mouth. You could hear the pop of it, it was so hard and we all just looked at him, stunned. The man knew his power and he knew that we were not ready to take that on too in front of our children. So to save our own children we sat there and did nothing. I remember looking at his face, struck with grief, and paralyzed with fear. He had his head down, he was looking at the ground, trying to regain his composure, knowing that we were all powerless, and my heart broke for him that day.

As a group, we were all women that had been abused. We all felt like we didn’t have any power. That man saw an opportunity to display that power that he had and it made him feel good. What a piece of shit. If I had had a handgun with me I would have pulled it on him. I would have traumatized everyone. What’s worse? Just sitting there and doing nothing or standing up and scaring the shit out of everyone? The person I am now, the person that is free from abuse finally wants to go back and scare that man, to hurt him. Part of me wants to go back and hurt my mother too. What do I do with all of these emotions? I don’t know yet.

So I feel like my mother’s abuse doesn’t make it okay for her to have abused me. Then I think of my kid. I did not abuse her physically but because I was abused there were many times that I was emotionally unavailable. When it was really bad, I was either crippled with depression, anxiety, or binge drinking. Am I also unworthy of forgiveness? How do I heal from it? How do I help her heal from it too? I wish I could give that kid from the creek a hug and apologize. I wish I could hug my kid and apologize too. We are all where we’re at because someone else didn’t stand up and say something when things weren’t right. Some people can change for the better. Some people are just always going to be a piece of shit. I’m capable of change. I hope that talking about it, raising awareness can save someone else. I hope it can open up someone’s eyes so that they can talk about it too. I want to sit down at the dinner table and talk about this, about the real things, not what meme I keep seeing on Facebook. We’re so disconnected. Can we start being more open about abuse? Can we keep up with this discussion so it’s not so taboo and so that we don’t fear talking about the subject? It’s a societal disease, a family parasite that destroys everyone it touches in some way. We need to start dealing with these issues as a community. Will you join me?