As a child, I heard the story of Humpty Dumpty many times.
I read it in books, I saw versions of it acted out on shows such as “Captain Kangaroo”, and I heard it from various adults. The story of Humpty Dumpty has followed me through the years, holding different meanings at different stages of my life.
As a child, I thought that Humpty’s story was so incredibly sad. He was broken, shattered into smithereens, and nothing could fix him. He was over, through, finished, dead.
I sometimes had mental images of bits of his face lying on the ground, like broken pieces of a mirror or something. I could even see one eye in a glittering fragment, and it was crying. Jagged little pieces of a life. Not that I could put words together to form such sophisticated thoughts, but the thoughts were there.
I guess that when my father got sick, he was a little bit like Humpty Dumpty. Nothing the doctors did seemed to work, nothing made him any better. Surgery after surgery, I watched the pieces of my father become more jagged and scattered.
All of the king’s horses, all the king’s men, and the finest surgeons in the state of Georgia all failed to fix my father. This strong man, reduced to something so broken and somehow ruined, was as tragic as that oversized but delicate egg lying in pieces in the grass next to that wall in some distant kingdom.
As I grew older, some of the more subtle implications of Humpty’s story revealed themselves to me.
I developed this idea that, no matter what, I couldn’t fall off of the wall. I didn’t want to be broken. I fought for many years to convince myself that I was still sitting there on that wall in some beautiful paradise, and that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men wouldn’t have to come to my rescue.
I resolved that I would never become that shattered, that broken. I promised myself that I would never become so delicate that I was at risk of becoming all of those little tiny pieces of a life lying on the ground in some faraway and otherwise perfect kingdom.
For many years, I was able to convince myself that I was indeed sitting on a wall in some idealized paradise—a world that looked something like Ireland or perhaps even OZ. I managed to persuade myself that I was balanced, in control, that all was well.
I was Humpty Dumpty, only better—I wasn’t lying on the ground in a million tiny, jagged pieces.
Somewhere, I managed to make it into a bit of a joke. Something about how if I ever did break, all those motherfuckers would have a hell of a time putting me back together again. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men would have a hell of a time fixing that shit.
In the end, I slowly began to realize that I was not this perfect egg, balanced on a wall in some perfect kingdom.
I started waking up to the fact that I was the illusion of this perfect egg, balanced on a wall in some imagined and perfect kingdom. I began to convince myself that as long as I held the illusion together, I would indeed appear to all of the rest of the world to be this perfect egg, balanced on a wall in some perfect kingdom—balanced, in control, that all was well.
I held on to this illusion for a long time; so long, in fact, that it became delusion. I managed to convince myself, for a short while, that all was indeed well. I managed to hold the broken pieces of myself together for some time, believing all the while that I was whole and perfect and sitting on that wall as the king’s horses and the king’s men paraded by.
One day, I woke up and realized how tired I had become from holding all of these pieces together.
I realized just how exhausting all of the pretense and charades had been, and I looked around at all of the tiny, jagged pieces of me lying on the grass. I looked at all of those broken pieces of my life, lying there staring up at me like some shattered funhouse mirror image of myself.
I cried for all of the wasted time and energy. I cried for all of the pieces of my broken father, and the broken bits of my family that his death had left behind. I cried for all of the broken bits of goodness that lie there in the grass, twinkling like jewels in the harsh glare of the reality of daylight. And I realized that all of the king’s horses and all of the kings men would never ever be able to put me back together again.
Today, I am okay with that.
Today I am wondering what in the hell I ever thought I needed with the king’s horses or the king’s men. What good were they, anyway? They couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again, what use could they hold for me? Today, I don’t need them. Today, I realize that I am the only one who can pick up all of those pieces and put myself back together again.
Thank heaven I have y'all to help me.
February is all about The Happy.
We here at Band Back Together know that winter and the holidays can feel overwhelming, The Depression starts rearing its ugly head.
We're saying goodbye to depression and hello to Project Happy.
So, The Band, what makes you happy?
What brings a smile to your face? Is it a memory? The thought of the future? The brilliance of a sunset? We want to know!
I'm on my sixth day of a migraine, so I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't coherent in the least but during this blistering monster of a headache, something wonderful happened.
My boyfriend of two years said that I'm the strongest woman he's ever met and that he is always amazed my ability to fight through things, and that he doesn't ever in the least know what to do to help me but he'll do it if I'll just tell him. That probably doesn't sound like much to the average person, but to someone who's fought through endometriosis, fibromyalgia, serious injury, and migraines, that's enough to make you want to break down, cling to his ankle, and cry.
I always worry that everything I say comes off as whining. And yeah, sometimes I whine but sometimes I just vent because keeping up this charade of being a normal person is a lot.
Not only that but during the last month, I've worked full time and taken on the job of remodeling a house. Friends have been coming out of the woodwork to say "I do not know how you do all that. You're amazing."
I don't feel amazing but I'm so, so very glad that people see how hard it is, and maybe I'll inspire other people to not ever give up. Believe me, giving up crosses my mind more than I'd like to admit. I can't keep up with normal people by any standards, and that's what I'd like for other people to do.
Find a limit.
Do what you can.
And never, ever, ever give up.
Child abuse often happens behind closed doors and can have effects that linger into adulthood, lowering self-esteem and doing irreparable damage.
This is her story.
When I was a child, my mother called me Maggie.
Maggie, short for maggot.
She also called me Winona because she said I whined too much, and Gertrude because I reminded her of a slow, crotchety old woman. Then, of course, there were the equally unsavory but much less creative names: bitch, cow, slut, whale, whore, asswipe, trash, disgrace.
She rarely called me by my proper name.
I was a bad taste in her mouth, sour as a green persimmon, something to be spat out and spat on. She'd look at me and say, "I don't know why I put up with you. I should've thrown you away the minute you were born," or "I don't want perfection, just common human decency." She'd even make up little ditties about me:
"Nobody knows the hell I go through, living each day with scum like you."
In high school I was shaped like an hourglass: five feet, two inches tall and 132 pounds. I was far from fat but I didn't know it, because my mother would stand on the other side of the bathroom door and make mooing noises at me while I dressed. She'd loom over me and sneer after she knocked me to the floor and I struggled against my weak muscles to rise again.
"Look at you wallow, whale. You can't even roll over."
"Mr. Brown can moo, can you? Let me hear you moo, cow."
She hated to see me walk. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and have the characteristic spastic gait: one foot dragging behind the other, elbows lacking full extension so that with the concentration required for movement, I would forget to mind my arms and they'd creep up with every step, fingers splayed for balance, a severe limp produced by a lopsided pelvic bone.
When we were in public together she'd walk as far ahead of me as possible, trying to distance herself from the embarrassment of being seen with Igor. "Pick up your feet!" she'd hiss. "Put your arms down! You look like an orangutan! You look like a retard!"
Even my extended family picked up on the name-calling. My grandmother and her sisters had a little rhyme they'd chant when they saw me:
And after a while they were right: I was mean.
I didn't start out that way.
It took me years and years to get there. I was one of those tenderhearted, sensitive children who cried over dead birds. The slightest hint of harshness in anybody's tone would make my eyes fill up with tears. I only wanted to be good, to be loveable, to be loved, to be accepted.
I was the type to play nursemaid when my mother was sick, holding back her long auburn hair while she vomited, making her tea, making sure she had enough blankets. I loved surprising her with little gifts: wildflowers in a water glass, spontaneous back scratches, even breakfast in bed, carrying a tray to her room and then going back over my tracks to clean up the milk that had splashed over the side of the cup.
I wanted her to look at me with affection. I wanted her to say I was good, that she was glad after all that I was hers – and a few precious times, I almost got it.
Something always went wrong at the last second: I'd pull her hair while I was brushing it and suddenly find myself with a bloody nose, or get a homework problem wrong and end up sprawled out on the floor holding my hands up to guard my face as she picked up the chair I'd just been sitting in and hurled it at me, after which I'd be subject to another beating for breaking "her" chair. If I spilled something at dinner, she'd make me get down on my hands and knees and eat it off the floor like a dog.
I will never forget the taste of Pine-Sol and shame.
I had a little brother, three and a half years younger. He didn't suffer like I did. Neither did the family dog, for that matter. I was below them both. My mother never would have thought of kicking the dog in the gut the way she kicked me, or allowing me to break a dinner plate in half over my brother's head with no consequence.
Everything he did was golden. His grades were better than mine. His extracurricular activities were worth her time and effort but she only attended my choir concerts so she could show off what an excellent mother she was to the public.
Everything was about her public image. In the presence of others she'd coo and praise me, but get us alone and she was literally spitting in my face. She told me she didn't care one whit whether or not whether I went to college, but when it came my brother's turn she was towing him all over the state to look at the best schools.
I'm 28 years old now.
I have moved to another state and found another family.
This past May, I walked across a stage with my head held high and accepted the Bachelor's degree I'd worked so hard and so long for, no thanks to my mother, whose only input was to criticize me for not being done already, as if she had been paying years of tuition instead of giving every penny to her precious little boy and once in a while sending me a box with some cookies in it to soothe her conscience.
That's what I am to her: an afterthought.
A few months ago, I heard her voice for the first time in four years. I called because I'd heard she was dying of cancer. The news hit me like a runaway train. In spite of all she did to me, in spite of all the scars, both emotional and physical, that I still carry, I cried myself hollow for three straight days over a woman who would probably dance for joy if I magically ceased to exist!
I have someone else to call Momma now, but deep down I'm still that little girl who only wants to be good and loveable and loved, carrying breakfast in bed to a woman who despises me. I don't know why, but I can't stop loving her.
I hated her for a long time, but even underneath the hate I loved her, though I never would have admitted it then. Sometimes it's so lonely, this loving, like there are a million tiny cracks in all my bones and the wanting of her approval has seeped into them and set itself into the marrow. In spite of all I have accomplished, when I look at my life all I can see are the things I haven't done, the things at which I've failed.
I'm 28 years old now, and I don't think I'll ever be good enough.
You wouldn't know it to look at me now, but I used to be a runner.
Not a very good one, mind you.
Back in 2007 I was living in Wisconsin and training for the Danskin Women's Triathlon. Yes, despite my fear of putting my face into the water, and fears of falling over on a bike, I found myself training for the damn thing.
And liking it.
Okay, so maybe I was more comfortable on the bikes we used for spinning class. And maybe I could only swim a half mile on my back wearing goggles and a nose clip. You'd be right.
But the point is that I was trying - and succeeding - in my own way.
The one thing I didn't need accommodation for was the running. Initially it was the part I hated most about training. Quickly, running became my favorite thing. The treadmill bored me to death so I ran on the bumpy, uneven indoor track where the cold air made my lungs burn pleasantly.
I started by running half a mile, congratulating myself afterward. Little by little, I worked my way up to three miles, then four. Before I knew it, I was running four miles most days in addition to swimming and spinning. I couldn't believe I was actually running, but I was.
I was never a very fast runner - my best time for a 5K hovered around 30 minutes - but I loved it. Even when the routes took me out to the lighthouse where my hair whipped my cheeks like crazy, or to the Shamrock Shuffle in Madison where there was still snow on the streets, I loved every minute.
I miss that now.
Living in Chicago, I spent all my time walking to and from places so I gradually stopped running. I missed running, but there just never seemed to be any time. Also, part of me thought that if I was going to be outside moving around, I should go do something productive, like walk to the store and drag back a 35-pound tub of cat litter.
(Unless the cat litter in question was on sale, then I borrowed a friend's car because I'm a cat lady and we can never resist buying seven or eight tubs when they're cheap.)
This year, I decided to stop missing running. I'm doing the Couch to 5K running plan, and so far it's kicking my chubby butt. The treadmill is incredibly dull and my cardiovascular stamina is very low, but I keep after it because I want to feel the way I did back then.
I'm going to run a 5K this year.
I'm going to make it across the finish line and I'm going to raise my arms above my head and say with what air is left in my lungs that I did it. For myself and for Misty, gone far too soon, who inspired me to take back that feeling.
I'm 18 years old. My step-dad raped me multiple times before I even started kindergarten. In fact, I was still going to play school.
It's blurry and fuzzy but I remember crying when my mom would leave for work and I knew I would have to stay home alone with this monster while my older brothers went to school.
I never realized what he did was wrong, not until I got older. He was gone by then.
I remember how it would start, then I don't remember anymore. I know for a fact he raped me, though. Maybe it was so bad God blocked the image and feeling out of my memory. I just remember he would lay me on my mom's bed and I would have to put a pillow on my head and he would do whatever he did. I could never look at him.
I was embarrassed but I didn't know it was wrong! It's so hard to try to explain but I hope you guys could relate in some way.
He was also very mean to me, he always hit me and yelled at me when my mom was around. But the minute she left, he was nice and caring. He was a sick joke!
I have dreams of finding him and killing him. He took something away from me, as a child and a teenager.
I have the lowest self esteem you can imagine. I can't let myself get close to guys because I'm scared of getting hurt or being rejected. Ever since being a child, I've never done anything sexual with anyone and I'm 18, almost 19. The farthest I've gone is to make out, and I can only make out with guys when I'm drunk.
It's horrible that I block myself from guys. Even my guy friends - I won't approach them unless they come to me and the whole time they're talking to me I smile and laugh and joke around but I'm always out of my comfort zone. I just can't be close to any guy. It's weird. He messed up my life and I know he will burn in hell.
I read about rape trauma symptoms and I have almost all of them. I cried reading them.
I don't have a close relationship to my mom. When I told her about the abuse, she didn't believe me. She said she thinks maybe I watched a movie and for some reason I got it stuck in my head that it happened to me...
Now that I'm older I can only yell at her when I'm intoxicated. She has said she's sorry and there's nothing she can do about it now. I have so much hate towards her and she wonders why!
What's wrong with me? I feel like I'll be forever alone because I cannot leave the bubble I have created around myself.
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