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.”

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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?

Broken Trust

How can I ever trust anyone’s emotions?

When they cry to me?

When they tell me that they love me?

When they say that they’re thinking of my best interest?

Nobody knows me

I’ve made sure of that

Because the one person that knew the most

Used it against me

Set me up for failure

Reveled in it

And took my success as challenges to break me

She must’ve said:

“How can I break her if she keeps coming back up?”

“Why can’t I just drown her in her sorrows?”

“Why isn’t she tired enough yet?”

“To let the torrent take her?”

“To give up her fight to get to the other shore?”

“When all I’ve done is place my hand atop her head every time she surfaced?”

How can I believe anyone’s gaze?

Anyone’s touch?

How can I ever NOT feel alone?

She has taken it away

My faith in love

The one thing that remains broken, trust

The Patterns

So I do have patterns that are very visible. Those that know me, know this. I pick people that don’t work for me and then it doesn’t work out. Do I know at the time that they won’t work out? I think that deep down I know that I do. I’ve been trying so long to heal old wounds, to establish a connection with someone, anyone, I know would have a hard time loving me. I’m not saying that I’m unlovable, that’s what I’m trying to prove time and again. I’m saying that I’m trying to get that one win, a person that swears they’ll never love again, or doesn’t want a relationship, for that person to fall into the worship of me. Maybe somewhere in there I’m also picking these people because I’m afraid of a true connection where someone will see all of the sides of myself that I hide. Either way, it’s still a defense mechanism.

It’s the same thing, repeating, like clockwork. I’m so tired of it. I accept that I was not loved. I do not want a person in my life as a partner or a friend that makes me feel like I am pushing them to care more for me than I do for them. I deserve better. I deserved better when I was a kid and I deserve better even more now because of what I’ve survived.

There are people who do see in me the value that I carry, in a relationship and in my character. I need to flock to those people and stop trying to gain acceptance from people who don’t really care about me. It’s hard for me to discern though because I was taught to seek a love that I was never going to receive. Sometimes the lines blur between what I’ve known and what I’ve been taught. What I mean is that people are not always against me but my anxiety tells me that they are; this is derived from abuse. My mother told me frequently that none of my friends were really my friends, but people looking for what they could get out of me.

Some people have kept their love dangling like a carrot in the air while I, the jackass, chase it relentlessly, as I dream of how sweet the victory will taste. That is a bitter dish, I’ll tell you. People push you to “gain their trust” to “work for their desire to be in a relationship” and then they devalue you and discard you. They do this because they are users and abusers. They make up stories, twirl around bits of truth as twisted as their minds are. They use pieces of truth to create the believability of it all. If they use parts of the truth, then it is easier for them to look you in the eyes and tell you what they want you to accept. It’s hard to spot them too. In my case, I just have to accept attention from an unknown person and try to date them, evidently.

These people are master manipulators and they use shame and humiliation to get what they want. They refuse to take accountability for their actions, always diverting the attention back to something about yourself they know you are sensitive about, any target can wound. They do this to distract you from the subject, from talking about themselves and what they could possibly improve. Complacency, that word I used in the last post, that was about feeling as if I did not need to take a look at myself because I felt that I was doing well. Surprise bitch.

I only prosper when I don’t second guess myself. That doesn’t mean that I don’t analyze my thoughts, actions, and emotions but that I stand by all of it because I know who I am. I know what I feel and some people make me feel like garbage. I don’t like that feeling. “You always do this.” That statement carries a lot of weight. Yes, I always walk away from men that don’t care to lose me. I walk away from people who invalidate my feelings. I walk away from situations that no longer serve my growth as a human being.

I’m fucked up, from how people have treated me and from how I’ve treated myself. That still doesn’t mean I don’t love myself. Any of you that say I don’t, don’t know a thing about who I really am and your viewpoint of me is superficial. I love myself enough to cut people out at any point that they try to make me feel like I’m wrong for expressing my feelings. I cut out people that tell others lies to make themselves look better.

I love myself enough to know what I deserve.

I love myself enough to know what I’m worth.

I love myself enough to fantasize not about killing myself, but killing the game.

I’m true to my feelings and I’m not afraid to tell the world what I want.

Uneasy

The times that I feel the sanest are when things are complacent. Then what? It always feels like something is going to happen to bring it all down again. That sunny disposition has its seasons. When the rain comes, the cold, it chills you to your bones. What warmth shall I find that can get me through the weather? Will I feel like a forest nymph when the Spring comes, and nature calls me back to my roots? I don’t even know where to go to find that place. I feel like maybe it was lost in the forest, with my childhood. The only good things that I can muster up from my childhood home came out of that place. It transformed me into a world where I could forget about the life that felt so much more like a bad dream than when I ran around the woods, feral and untethered.

I would doze on the branch of a large pine and savor its sweet, sappy smell. I didn’t even care that it was all over my clothes; it had become a part of me. At times, I would hear my name being called and I would lackadaisically saunter on home, saying farewell to each plant as I brushed past, hands outstretched with jazz fingers. I would feel every leaf, every stem that I could grasp before I had to go back. It was only to find that once I was home there was no greeting for which should have been subsequent to the beckoning that brought me there. With a smug, questioning look, she would ask me, “What” as if I were breaking up some important endeavor of hers. It was only “As the World Turns”, which my father called “As the Stomach Turns” and ironically, my belly would do just that. That look was too much so I answered as quickly as possible so that I would be dismissed, per the usual. “You called me.” She would always make this sound as if she were intent on meowing, “No, I did nothing of the sort.” My eyes would widen, and I would have nothing else to say as I lowered my head in disbelief. “I don’t know who called me then.”

I DID however have an idea of who, or what may have called though. I’d see them, in the halls. They walked up and down them all night, nearly driving all hopes of slumber straight to the netherworld from where they must have come. I could see every detail, right down to the strands of hair the appeared to flow in a wispy wind that I could never feel. It felt dark, and if felt anxious. Sometimes I would pull my covers under the bed in order to get some sleep before school. I didn’t like seeing them; it scared me, and I knew that no one else could see them, which made it even scarier for a kid in kindergarten. This was the reason why I loved Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street the most. They never acknowledged me though, just wandered up and down the halls, like the river Styx ran right smack through the center of the structure that my parents decided to settle into. I didn’t get the settled feeling though, it was quite the opposite. I remember my stomach being in knots and being scared to breathe, lest I alert them to my presence.

I rarely often feel uneasy anymore. There are times where I feel like I can feel a presence. My whole being seems to sense something that’s not supposed to be there. Then things happen, like watches not working anymore, clocks turning on on their own, once missing items appearing in plain sight after months of searching, things like that. Writing about my past makes me feel uneasy. Talking about it to other people makes me feel like I can never be understood. I’m afraid that my story is only meant to be a solo one. I haven’t known this type of loneliness since I was young, however. When I knew that things weren’t right, and things just kept getting worse, I thought that there would be no one that would comprehend the agony that was derived from that place where I was supposed to be brought up innocently. I was supposed to be loved, and nurtured, and interacted with, God damn it. Instead I experienced existing in a place where I believed that I was sent to. I believed it to be punishment for the life I lived prior to this. I was convinced of this because of the gruesome, unfathomable abominations that I experienced and partook in, almost every night in my dreams. The events, the locations, the people, they all had a story and names that I knew. I’m still not confident that that isn’t really an accurate explanation for the occurrences of unspoken agony that I still had yet to be bestowed upon me. Maybe I was dreaming of the spirit’s lives. Maybe I was lost to reality because of the abuse. Maybe it was all real. I don’t know anymore.

There were times that I wanted to go back and burn that house down myself. I’m glad The Valley Fire took it. I will not, however, recover from the loss of the sanctuary that I once had. I cried more for the plants and memories that meant something to me; the only things that had remained pure in my heart. Now it seems as if it is all just one charred, frail piece of myself that I cling to as its swept away from the banks of my memory. I don’t know what I have left really.

What We Carry on Our Shoudlers

They say that when you go to prison, there’s something you carry in your shoulders, like a constant tension. You see it on the tattooed backs of soldiers, tense in their awareness. It’s a PTSD thing. It’s a traumatic experience that forever changed you and made you this ancy ball of pent up, nervous energy. It’s like the next sign of danger is around the corner and you have to be ready for it at all times. It doesn’t go away. Someone once told me that my brother looked like he had been to prison. He really asked me, “How much time has he done?” Our whole lives partner, our whole lives.

There’s no way to explain the heartbreak of loving a parent because you are a part of them and having them simply reject you, belittle you, imprison you, or abandon you. She kicked my brother out when he was a teen, just a kid. I had gotten up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and she woke up. She waited until I walked through the door and immediately slapped me. Screaming in my bewildered face something like, “I’m trying to fucking sleep!” How can I now? My brother couldn’t either. He came out with a fury inside of him for such an atrocity, for the sound of her open hand connecting my cheek was what jerked him from his slumber. Big brother defended me and basically told her that she was in the wrong. You should never want to experience the look on the face of a person who knows that they hold the fate of your life in their hands, at least, that’s how she saw and orchestrated things.

I went to a concert with our friend, really my brother’s best friend. I was allowed to go but not him; she had other plans for him. I did meth with my brother’s friend at the concert and thought Dave Mustaine meant me when he looked my direction, crouched slightly and squinted at the crown, then said, “Welcome to Lollapallooza, where you don’t know if it’s a dude, or a chick.” I had short, burgundy hair and was wearing Earth-toned clothing, and I absolutely did not have any tits. It very well could have been me he was talking about but perhaps it was merely the sun, lack of hydration, and the drugs. Either way, I fucking hated him after that concert. When I got home, my mother said my brother had run away. I’m sure there are a couple of other moms that took him in that would testify to the contrary. She abandoned a child that she bore and raised; what kind of monster does that?

She knew how close we were, and she knew that without him I had no one to defend me and no voice. I remember having to push her car with her fat ass over speed bumps in the morning before school, just so she could jump start the manual in second gear. Bullshit. Then we moved into a client’s house before I turned 15, where I was held captive without hardly any outside contact. I got to go for a walk twice a day, which was good for the dog, and I would immediately spark up a joint that I had rolled for such a lovely occasion. One time I went to the park and found some teenagers my age, so I though I’d let them partake. One girl in the group kept looking at her friends and nudging in my direction with her entire head while saying, “Dude” in an accusatory tone. I left immediately and frowned at the fact that I had been called “Sport” by my mother’s 72 year old client. It was why I wore makeup that day.

I wasn’t allowed to go to the school that was two blocks from the house. My mother told me that it was because they didn’t have enough proof that she lived in the residence. There is nothing that could have stopped a person like me from vehemently disputing the subject, were I placed in her position. Instead, I was placed in an advanced home school. I remember the entrance test only for one reason, it containted the personality test constructed by Jung and his wife. INFJ, the rarest personality type, making up less that one or two percent of the population, was the verdict. I was accepted in and excelled. During my Sophomore year, I was asked if I wanted to be valedictorian. I was so excited when I came home, I ran into the house and screamed, “Mom, they want me to be valedictorian!” “Why the fuck are you yelling, this is a senior’s home,” yelled my mother.

I wanted to go see my friends and tell them, and get hugs of pride. There was nothing like that from her; she just loooked at me without moving her face or eyes and said, “So.” Each time she did stuff like that a little piece of me died inside, or so it felt. How could she not be proud of me? I was told that I couldn’t get a ride to go see my friends, but each time had only two hours in which I was allowed to be gone. I always tried to make her time limits. I was the only one who listened and abided by her ever-changing rules. It took 45 fucking minutes to ride my Coaster to the park where my friends kicked it. I’m sure I threw a fit, and I was fired from being my mother’s respeite worker for the weekend. No more money for drugs!

That night my mother came to my door. I heard the turning of the knob and was knocked out of my sense of solitude after such an unfair moment. Had I only known how much more unfair it would become is what makes it so much more memorable. Slowly, the door eerily creaked open as she imosed her presence into my space, and met my eyes with a somber gaze. “I called the police. They told me that if you don’t turn yourself in to the mental hospital they’ll send an ambulance to come get you and forcibly remove you from my home.” Slack-jawed, I held my breath and her steely gaze, as I only interpreted those words as, “Checkmate.”

Apparently, some psychologists can’t read through facetiousness in the eyes of extreme irony. Here I was, about to graduate high school a year early as valedictorian, and my mother is making me go to a mental hospital on the accusation that I told her that I was going to commit suicide. Every stupid ass question that he asked me I met with extreme disgust, frustration, and fully precedented, yet misplaced anger at the situation. He believed every word I said because I said it through gritting teeth and dared him to try to understand through seething, rage-filled eyes.

I was placed on a 72-hr watch, which is called 51/50, something my mother and I knew a lot about already. We had watched her place a previous husband into Mental Hospitals under a 72-hour watch, time and time again. As the door closed, separating me from my mother, also was the door closing to all the opportunities I could have had as a valedictorian. I growled in my Pantera voice as I watched the corner of her mouth slightly raise, her head shake from side to side in conquest, and her hand raise in a wave that came from just her fingers. I wrote a poem called “Wishes of Death” the next night inside the drawer of my dresser while high on acid. Turns out the orderlies didn’t do their jobs very well either and didn’t thoroughly examine the wallets of their patients back then.

Today, I celebrate my Independence in an entirely different way. I’m celebrating a different kind of freedom. Though both my brothers and I share the same gait, we also share the same sense of relief. We’ll all tell you that an old woman with frail actions and demeanor, donning short, curled and sprayed hair will raise the hairs on the back of our necks and cause us to gasp as we stand at alert. Loving our mother was like going to war, you can never come out the same person that you were before. I envy the people that have never met her. We fought for our independence and won. Like dragon slaying soldiers, we became our own Heroes, yet the shadow of that demon still haunts us.