I feel like I need a quiet place to sit down and reflect on all that has happened in the short (yet so very long) 25 years I’ve been here. The truth is, a quiet place doesn’t stop the bombardment of memories, the instinct to protect myself, to protect those around me, and to stop looking for clues of abuse and trauma in those I meet.
There are a lot of gaps in my childhood, most of which I’m thankful for, but there are moments that are so drastically burned into my memory that I cannot erase them no matter how hard I try or fight.
I remember the drugs – being locked out of the house, beating against the locked front door, screaming as loud as I possibly could for my mother to let me in, while inside there were people doing drugs. Locking me outside was their way of “protecting” me.
I remember fights, words so explicit I could only imagine what they meant. I remember fists meeting walls and flesh; I remember locking myself in my bedroom trying to keep myself out of reach from the drunken and drug-fueled rages my stepfather would fly into. I remember so vividly the pot full of spaghetti sauce flung against a dining room wall, splattered red, the pot lying sideways on the carpet…it looked like blood.
I remember my mom’s screams every night for a year, protesting his advances. I remember wanting to turn on the small radio next to my bed so that I didn’t have to hear it, knowing his rage if he heard it. If I cried, I knew I had to stop, otherwise he would surely give me something TO cry about. I remember my mom disappearing for days on drug binges, leaving me with him. I remember wanting to escape, to run away.
I remember him trying to rape me. I remember fighting him off and telling him that I would tell my grandmother. I remember him being almost too drugged to care. I remember running and locking myself in my bedroom and hiding while he beat on the door. I remember him coming into the bathroom while I was showering, sneaking peeks behind the curtain.
I remember being touched and molested by a boy in the same apartment complex who said that we were playing doctor. His brother molested one of my friends at the same time. I was seven years old.
I also remember the sounds of the ferris wheel, the smell of the funnel cakes and cotton candy, and the laughter of those walking around the LA County Fair, one of maybe a handful of “good” memories. He promised that he would protect me, that he would be a shoulder and a guiding light in my life, a support structure. He should have been. Instead he took the trust of an impressionable little girl and twisted it and abused it, just like he did to his wife.
He turned the parts of my childhood that should have been filled with sugarplum fairy tales and gum drop play scenes into nightmares. Nightmares of beatings, threats and scars. Scars that, while not visible, lie under the surface causing trust and emotional issues in that once 8-year-old child who has grown into a 24-year-old woman. I sat there as he told my mother matter-of-factly that he was going to blow up her car while I was in it. I stood up for my mom and told him that he wasn’t allowed to threaten her anymore and if he didn’t leave I was going to call the police. I was 8 years old.
I heard a few months ago that he died. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I can only assume it is with the lifestyle that he lived.
My mom was afraid to tell me. She was afraid that I’d actually care, afraid that I may have actually cried at the news. To be completely honest, I was so incredibly relieved. No longer would I have to hope that some unexpected person or family would have to deal with the disaster that came along with him. Not another child would have to go through nearly being raped by him. Not another woman would be raped, beaten or threatened with murder. Not another little girl would have to spend a Halloween inside the house in her costume, peering out the front window at him screaming and yelling at her mom. Not another child would have to go through any of that, ever.
At the same time, I have to thank him for it. I’m not sure if I’d be the person I am today if those things hadn’t happened.
I hope he got what he deserved while he was in prison.
I remember living on the streets in my mom’s car. I remember sleeping on her friends’ couches, floors and empty bedrooms. I remember moving in with my grandparents, giving my mom yet another shot to get on her feet. I remember it not working, her disappearing for days, only to come home in the middle of the night strung out. I remember her moving out of the state with her disgusting, attempting-to-be-intimidating shell of a man who abused her emotionally, verbally and sexually. I remember telling a children’s lawyer that I wanted my grandparents to have custody of me and her willingly signing the papers. I was 9 years old.
I remember being trapped in a community pool bathroom – held against the cold tile wall. I hadn’t slept for days before this and was too weak to fight back, not able to scream loud enough. Not that the screams would have done any good – we were the only ones at the pool. I said no, I said stop, I said get off me, I said don’t do that, I said no. He didn’t care. He was older, a bad boy, a friend of a friend. I had already lost my virginity so I guess he thought he wouldn’t be taking much from me. I still cringe or turn around and swing when someone touches my back or grabs my shoulder. I was told he was murdered a year after, and I felt relief. I was 15 years old.
I try to find validation in every relationship. I try to fix the man that I’m with, try to make him see that he can be better than he is. I tell myself I deserved the shit I put myself through. It’s hard for me to trust people, to comprehend the way they function rather than the way that I function.
In two of my relationships, the men overstepped their boundaries and threw me into a completely defensive mode. I threw them into a wall. I question whether I am now becoming the abuser instead of taking the abuse, but then I feel that even though I did physical harm to them, I was put into a bad position and took the action necessary. I still don’t like being cornered or pinned against a wall with someone screaming in my face.
The doctors didn’t expect me to make it through the birth process, let alone actually live. But I lived. My whole life I’ve struggled so as not to become a statistic, not to follow in the footsteps of my mother – to beat the odds. I made it. I made it this far and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up now. I have a child on the way; I am nearly 5 months pregnant and it’s a girl. Now I get to try my hardest to protect her from all of the things that happened me.
I’m excited … and absolutely terrified at the same time.
A post about some of the difficult things going on in life…
Why is it that writing about shitty things in your life is so much more difficult than writing about positive things? I can think of a million reasons why I shouldn’t write about them, and 999,999 of them are bullshit anxiety reasons about how my problems aren’t important enough to voice.
Someone you write about will see it and recognize themselves and be upset with you or be hurt.
Someone you wish would see it never will and it won’t help to say it if they don’t.
The worst offender for me is the idea that my problems are insignificant and I’m not important enough for anyone to truly care about how I feel. I am lucky enough to have family that loves me, even if they’re the cause of a lot of strife in my life. And most of them would be surprised if they knew how often I fantasize about suicide and how I could do it. How I’ve thought of driving to a field in the country and swallowing a bottle of pills in my car.
How I thought about how I should bring the lawn and leaf trash bags to sit in so that when my bodily functions cease, I don’t permanently fuck up the car seats when I piss and shit myself.
Even worse would be the fact that I most often think about these things when my kid is going off on me. My own kid. I love him and I would die for him, and he’s had a really rough shake in life.
And right now, I am all that he has. Family is an entire state away, he’s had shitty luck making friends in a new(ish) town, his dad and stepmom have abused him, he was raped by a cousin before he hit double digits, he’s been bullied in school. So I am his rock. I am the bucket into which he dumps his overflow of feelings, and often those feelings are full of sharp, painful words.
All the ways in which he feels I’ve failed him, my own insecurities, all thrown in my bucket. And these days, my bucket is often almost at capacity.
My bucket has always been the reliable one into which others could dump their excess and lighten their own load. I always found ways to lighten my own bucket, and now I realize it was probably a convenient slow leak – things just tended to cool down with time for me, I could sleep on things for a night or two and generally the bothersome feeling ebbed on its own.
As I’ve grown older, it’s like the wood has expanded and the slow leak has resolved itself.
Or perhaps it’s that feelings filled my bucket that were too big to drain through that small leak. Feelings that I had when I found out my boyfriend was sexting four of his exes, telling them he loved them, telling them terrible things about me. Feelings I had when I found out that while I was at my grandmother’s funeral, he was at home saving pictures of one of his exes to his Google Drive. Feelings about how he would gaslight me when I confronted him. Feelings about how shitty he was with my kid.
Feelings about how I shouldn’t have let it happen, how I should have ended things the first time I found evidence of his infidelity and read the saved texts to one ex saying he had a dream that he asked her to marry him and she said yes.
On top of those feelings are all the feelings that settled in that bucket surrounding the deaths of my grandparents. They raised me from birth and were parents to me, more so than my birth parents were while I was growing up. I was the only person with my grandpa when he went to the ER with severe abdominal pain. I asked the doctor if it was an ulcer, and I’ll never forget the feelings that crashed in the bucket when he said, “Oh no, we’re pretty sure it’s cancer.”
The feelings started feeling like rocks when I got a call from my aunt in the middle of the night telling me that my grandpa had died, just one week before my birthday. I always joke, even though it’s not a joke, that I must be the Angel of Death because so many people in my life have died the same month I was born. I will never forget walking into that room and seeing his waxy pallor, his eyes closed, and his mouth open, slack-jawed. He was bony and thin, because the cancer had eaten him away – literally. It ate a hole in his colon, and it was inoperable because his type of cancer could be transmitted through the air if they had tried to operate.
When we told my grandma, she closed her eyes and moaned, “noooo” over and over again. One week later, the night of my grandpa’s funeral, she was brought to the ER and it was discovered that one of her diabetic ulcers developed gangrene. If they amputated the leg, she likely never would have recovered. She opted for hospice instead. My bucket could barely hold the feelings I had when I had to work instead of being with my family at her bedside because just a few months prior, my old job had to lay me off due to miscalculations by the CFO. So I got a day of bereavement leave for each of their deaths, and any other time off was unpaid. As a mother who barely made enough, I couldn’t afford not to work. So my anxiety swam through that full bucket every day, waiting for a call that I had missed it. Missed saying goodbye. Thankfully it happened while almost all her family was by her side, myself included. And I had the good fortune to sing to her to try and help her relax so she could let go. And I held her hand while I watched her face, wide-eyed and mouth gasping, take her last breath and finally release into peace and stillness, three weeks to the day after my grandpa.
My grief was handled alone as I became the rock to everyone else. Handled isn’t even the right word for it. It went ignored as I let everyone else pour their excess into my bucket. And then all the terrible things began to happen. As it often does, death brought out the worst in some family members. Money became a motivator, and they acted as though each red cent of their painstakingly maintained insurance policies was a gasp of oxygen and they needed it to live. I wanted to strangle the breath from them and give it back to my grandparents. I wanted to punch them and scream that I’d give every dollar to have them back. More big feelings as I watched the ugly sides of my parents, the people I was supposed to lean on, show themselves. I cannot forget it, and I cannot let myself fully trust them ever again.
Then the blow that no parent is prepared for – finding out their child was abused. I can’t describe the feelings I had when my son told me, but I remember it like it was yesterday. And he asked me not to tell anyone who didn’t need to know. He was already afraid to tell me, because his abuser threatened to kill him if he ever told anyone else. And so beyond people who were necessary, no one knew what had happened. I respected his wish for silence, and I wouldn’t take it back for anything. But the weight of what happened to my bright, lovely, sunshine child was heavy. And fighting for justice within the legal system, alone, was hard as fuck. The justice system doesn’t do much when the perpetrator is a juvenile, and my son ended up having to jump through more hoops than anyone which led him to develop the feeling that he was being punished for what happened to him. He’s never truly recovered from that, and it infuriates me whenever I think about it.
He was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and talk therapy wasn’t working. I decided to try medication to help him cope better with daily life while we continued talk therapy. Eight months later, he was on Prozac and his doctor doubled the dosage because he thought he was metabolizing it too quickly. He was wrong.
One night it was like a switch flipped in my son, he went off and was threatening to stab us, laughing in my face as I cried, and more. I told him I was going to have to have him committed to a treatment facility, and the switch flipped back. He broke down in tears, and begged me to get him help because he couldn’t control what was happening. I brought him to the ER to be admitted to inpatient treatment and the doctor said it was from too many video games and treated me like an idiot when I explained it was from an increased dosage of medication.
We spent three days and two nights in the ER waiting for a bed, and were finally discharged with a referral for outpatient treatment.
Happily-ever-after dies when his suffering takes center stage. There is no room in my home for me. I am not enough or I am too much. HE TAKES EVERYTHING OVER. There is no room for my anguish and sadness. There is no place to hide my face. There is no safe place. He has taken them all.
Gave up a dear friend, she was toxic to our relationship, but I loved her like WHOA. When my mother passed away in 2007…Michele would have known how to be present. She would have known what to say and when to be silent. She would have reminded me of things I had said. She would be encouraging. But I couldn’t reach out to her. When all doors where closed and all paths were blocked… I turned to Jesus… the first place I should have gone.
Work becomes more important. I am valued here. I am celebrated for my vision, my word, my inappropriate humor. I am secretly trying to think of ways to work overtime and contribute more to after hours events.
I explain my desires, my needs. I dive deep, despite the risk, and ask for him to play the role of Daddy and let me be the little girl who needs to be safe and protected. He shames me. He has starved me out. I fall deep into self loathing and hatred. Trust has been severed. Heart has turned stone. I have shut down any trust I ever had. I never speak of my sorrows or pain to him anymore. Initially he’ll try to help…. But then…. In the next couple weeks, when we’re arguing, he uses it against me — ultimate betrayal.
He is constantly nudging me and giving me looks to act appropriately.
I can’t be me…when he’s around. I celebrate with joy when he leaves the house.
I run around foolishly and make a huge mess.
I confront him. Air out my grievances. He doesn’t remember any of it. I am in a puddle of hormonal rage and anxiety. I AM NOT CRAZY! God speaks to me clearly and tells me to commit to doing a 40 day fast. During the fast, he shows me his favor. He shows me my strength. I emerge as a warrior. If I can fast for 40 days, I can fucking do anything. My faith is stronger than ever. Jesus will never fail me. I need to commit to only relying on him for all my needs. Mortal men are the most pitiful of creatures. Why was I so blind?
He leaves me a note by my nightstand. It’s this long paragraph of lovely words I’ve heard before; Something about him recommitting to us, to me, and becoming the man he needs to be for me.
((( Pause for rolling of the eyes )))
The time and energy for him to write that letter, he could have just taken action. He is all talk. TALK TALK TALK TALK!
If he wants to be the man for me… then bring me coffee in bed, don’t let me worry about putting gas in my car or its maintenance needs. Remove money as a concern for me. Obtain employment that can carry the family and cover us with health insurance so I don’t have to … be the man of the house. Be the spiritual leader that we need. Be the captain of the ship. Be honest about who you are what you need. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t be so chicken shit. Run interference for me so I can be the wife, mom, and Christian that our family and community craves.
((It’s not too much to ask.))
Emergency room visits, doctors that are worthless, procedures and surgeries that do more harm for his crippling debilitating disease. Come to terms with the fact that I will his caretaker. Make plans for WHAT IFs. Keep accurate medical records. Organize it all. Learning to be knowledgeable about his health conditions. Understand his lack of memory is not his fault. Pain is all consuming. Find a support group. Learn to ask for help. Cry more. Learn to be ok with anger but try not to let it consume your soul. Ask Steve the hard questions. Write down his eulogy. Face the facts. Time is not on our side.
He comes in this morning and interrupts my workout. I take my headphones off and he informs me that he can hear me laughing all the way on the other side of the house… it’s a 2800 sqft house. So what? I can’t listen to my podcast and laugh in my house now? HE FUCKING TAKES EVERYTHING FROM ME!!!!!!!!
I asked him about having another baby. Nope. He took that away from me too.
I mentioned Viagra and invoked world war three!
His only autonomy in our relationship is the ability to say no. No to my advances. No to all my solutions.
It’s the only real strength and control he has. He builds constant brick walls in conversation.
When he looks down on me and berates my music choices because there is swearing… that does not make me want to be better or do better. It just makes me feel as if I’m in a play and I have no idea what my lines are, what role I’m supposed to be play.. He just makes me feel like a total fuck up.
A rift, a fault line separates us. We are on divergent paths. I don’t know where to go from here. I have read all the books, signed all the contracts, invoked all the spells, prayed and fasted, repented for my wicked ways only to cover my face and cry, “ABSALOM, ABSALOM!”
This person was my whole entire world for three years. This was My Person, the love of my life.
They loved me.
All my flaws.
My Person made me feel whole.
My Person calmed the negativity I had in my life.
My Person held me when I needed to cry. They listened when I needed to yell. This person sat behind me and picked head lice out of my hair for 8 hours when I cried because no one else in my life would help me. My Person was so beyond good for me.
My Person believed in me and my worth and well… I really don’t know.
I have no excuses except I was young and dumb and influenced easily by people that should have been supporting me. I longed for THEIR approval and love and if I didn’t have that, why should I deserve anything else.
I left this amazing person with a heavy heart but headed in a direction I was being basically shoved into for many years.
Even after I left I tried to make it work. I mean, no one else would ever want me.
During this time I searched out My Person.
They’d moved far away to another land.
They seemed happy and from what I could see from my computer screen didn’t want me anymore.
I did reach out, I called, I emailed, I basically stalked this person.
But they had moved on. I was just a memory to them; that was okay. After all, I didn’t deserve them.
Fast forward a few more years.
I still watched My Person from afar. I was friends with their family but still had not contact with My Person.
That was okay. I was happy knowing they were happy.
I met someone, dated for a few years, got married again. And I am finally HAPPY! Well, at least most of the time. My old negative thoughts are all still there but I’m mildly successful at pushing them down.
A couple weeks ago, My Person showed up in my life again like a whirlwind.
They have never been far from my thoughts; I still watched.
But here they were in my inbox and we’ve been talking and it’s like the last twenty years disappeared and I am right back where I was, where we were; My Person and I.
And I am so so so in love. I always was.
And I’m torn: how can I love two people this much? What do I do?
I need this person in my life, they are a part of me has been missing for so long.
It’s like I got my right hand back. I need them to know I love them. Because I do…
…but we can’t be together.
I love where I am now, I love the person I’ve married. I love my home and my job. Right now? There’s half a century and twenty years between us, but I still need them in my life.
I find my mind wandering a lot lately.
The what if’s.
I find myself wanting to wake up in one of those stupid romcoms where everything is different but it just seems right and you don’t want to wake up.
I want to find a damn DeLorean and make different choices.
But I realized I’m not an angry person – I’m just pissed off at everything that has happened.
I’ve also realized I am not guilty or responsible for her demons.
I have my ways to beat the monster, to tame it. But ignoring is not one of them; neither is feeding it.
Quick wit can get you far, as will patience, but you can’t be tolerant because with tolerance comes more abuse. You have to show it that you won’t be broken down, that you won’t stay passive to everything it does.
Giving into the victimizing is as big a deal not as engaging in a screaming fit.
How can you deal with it?
The formula is simple: you don’t give it what it wants. It confuses the monster, and it puts it down.
This is a survival game; every day you’re on defense.
Every day, you need to examine the opponent, and every moment you have to be ready.
It can drag you down or make you stronger, whichever you choose.
I’m Tired I’m tired of acquiring but never keeping nice things; possessions I work arduously for that are torn up, soiled or otherwise destroyed. I’m tired of endless piles of laundry, clothes strewn across the floor, indistinguishable as clean or dirty, but washed again nonetheless. I’m tired of chaos, of the arguing, of the drama and constant conflict that ages my soul. I’m tired of being shown how for granted I’m being taken. I’m tired of never knowing if I’m coming or going. I’m tired of feeling responsible for the complete care of everyone else and sacrificing my own care of self. I’m tired of feeling chronically exhausted. I’m tired of my complaints and concerns being pushed aside, minimalized and marginalized. I’m tiring of knowing “things could always be worse” as a means to not being able to be entitled to my emotional journey. I’m tired of listening to others during their times of deepest sorrow, frustration or fear and being a pillar of strength for them but rarely being given my own time to grieve. I’m tired of being told I’m hormonal. I’m tired of having my emotions rationalized for me. I’m tired of being expected to “deal with it” and accept that “it’s just part of being a parent” or “being an adult”. I’m tired of feeling like I cannot still express my inner child, have big dreams and be encouraged to chase them. I’m tired of adults bullying other adults. I’m tired of divisiveness and actions that only perpetuate further trauma and abuse. I’m tired of being an angry white female. I’m tired of feeling threatened by PRIVILEGED WHITE MEN I’m tired of fearing for my own safety, bodily autonomy and well-being EVERY DAY. I’m tired of, when expressing my concerns and frustrations, being called names like snowflake, FEMINAZI, bitch and CUNT. I’m tired of working myself until I’m literally ill and yet still feeling immense guilt for purchasing that $19 shirt at Target. I’m tired of the pressure to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect daughter/sister/nurse. I’m tired of attachment titles. I’m tired of being expected to take a side when my beliefs lie somewhere in the middle. I’m tired of women having no safe place to candidly talk and share without fear of persecution, name calling or mean-spiritedness. I’m tired of male violence against women. I’m tired of watching so many of my fellow brothers and sisters continue to live lives full of anger, resentment and self-entitlement, oblivious to their own inner demons. I’m tired of Dr. Google. I will always side with evidence backed scientific studies. I’m tired of watching parents put their children at risk for a lifetime of illness because of a handful of conspiracy theorists. I’m tired of trying to explain facts to those same people and them finding a means to justify EVERY SINGLE TIME. So, I’m tired of selective ignorance where there is a literal WORLD of information at mere fingertips. I’m tired of reckless, self-serving decisions of others that may adversely affect countless people. I’m tired of online battles, egocentric conversations and people’s inability to say “I’m sorry” or “I was mistaken”. I’m tired of being oppressed because of my gender. I’m tired of being objectified because of my outward appearance. I’m tired of consistently having to maintain a stern exterior to protect my children and myself from pervasive predators. I’m tired of mean, bitter people. I’m tired of always being strong. I’m tired of being responsible for everyone’s emotions, blatantly disregarding my own. I’m tired of letting things roll off my back all the while knowing they will puncture me on the way down. I’m tired of pretending I’m always unbreakable. I’m tired of violence, both via the media and in the world. I’m tired of endless wars, of which neither party will ultimately win. I’m tired of our elected officials, having taken oaths to serve citizens and country, acting like nothing more than selfish, insecure middle school children. I’m tired of relentless mind games, fear mongering and empty threats. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of taking on all of this weight. I’m tired of being accused of attacking others when I can no longer keep it all in and finally break down and speak my mind. I’m tired of the fragile male ego and the need of constant reassurance. I’m tired of watching women lessen themselves to help a man feel significant. I’m tired of toxic masculinity. I’m tired of men trying to justify their bad behavior as “urges” or “needs” or the old adage “boys will be boys”. I’m tired of watching the world in its current state; its destroyers in utter denial. I’m tired of ALL THE GREED- It has caused abuse, war, human mutilation and countless children’s deaths. I’m tired of society’s RIDICULOUS expectations of the ideal female form. I’m tired of fake tits, tight asses and flat tummies. I’m tired of men expecting “perfection” in a woman while they fill their ever expanding waistlines with chicken wings and beer. I’m tired of the ass-patters, the at-a-boy-ers. I’m tired of seeing blame shifting, scapegoating and flat out lying all in pathetic attempts to save face and avoid accountability. I’m tired of feeling stretched far too thin, always dancing on the edge, but never actually jumping. I’m tired of cooking countless dinners, only to have them picked at by children. I’m tired of washing dishes with tears of frustration in my weary eyes because the dinner I made and threw out was the last of the food budget. I’m tired of pretending to be OKAY. I’m tired of never being allowed to own my feelings. I’m tired of sharing and being condemned for doing so. I’m tired of hard swallows and “I’m fines” through gritted teeth and clenched fists; anxiety attacks in the bathroom between motherly duties. I’m tired of pushing through my own emotions inappropriately in order to quickly address the needs of others. I’m tired of finger pointing; defensive, argumentative conversations. I’m tired of waiting for inevitable civil war, feeling riddled with anxious anticipation EVERY DAY. I’m tired of the pandemic that is disrespect, both for others and self. I’m tired of trying to fix everything. I’m tired, I’m tired. I’m tired… I think it’s time I rest.
I originally wrote this for my blog this past September and it remains one of my favorite writings to date. Thanks for reading!