I have two hands Of my very own Both are strong Able to lift and squeeze And both are weak Too soft to do all That they need. Yet they … Continue reading My Two Hands
I’ve been pondering the way our personal narratives and sense of identity shape our actions and our inactions. Most of us have an idea in our heads and hearts of … Continue reading On the Importance of Questioning Our Personal Narratives
These are angry times. These are hate-filled times. They are perilous and rocky, but none of this is new to us or our generation. History is doomed to repeat itself, … Continue reading Choosing Hope
Whew, the last couple of weeks have been exhausting and I haven’t quite been able to pinpoint why. I mean, aside from a flurry of visitors, visits, raising two small … Continue reading Emerging from a Funk, or “Love and Peace, Y’all!”
It has been a long time since I last wrote, but as my son approaches his very first birthday, I’m feeling a little uptick in energy that means my fingers are itching for something new, and Facebook is just not cutting it.
But, the thing I want to write about today isn’t my son or daughter and their adorable antics – it’s about forgiveness, and a point when I thought things were at their darkest. My sister recently wrote a post about forgiveness and asked me about a dream I had after a tragedy in our lives. You can find her post here: Until I was Free.
As background, well over a decade ago, my husband and I were married. It was one of the happiest days of my life. It wasn’t perfect, because my mother showed up that morning and told my husband she wouldn’t be at the wedding. I was in my room getting dressed, but I heard her, I could hear the panic in her voice, but before I could come out to plead with her, Nick had used his compassionate powers of persuasion to convince her she had to be there. After the wedding, my mom’s illness became worse. She would show up at our house and rant and yell. She left voicemails for me telling me I was the devil incarnate, demonspawn (her most used adjective for me) and she wished I had never been born. Nick began screening and deleting these voicemails, because it had become just too much for me. It was bad enough watching my mom slip away mentally, but to be the object of such hate was more than I could bear.
Our honeymoon was the first chance for me to escape. For three weeks, I didn’t have to worry that I would be woken up in the middle of the night by the woman I called mother yelling under my window, the rattling of her trying to break into my house at 3:00 a.m., to do who knows what. It took a while for me to unwind, but I think it was about 1.5 weeks into the honeymoon before I felt I could breathe and let go of all that hurt, fear and anxiety I had been clutching close to my chest. For the first time, I felt like the world was actually going to be okay. And I reveled in the beauty of Greece, the food, the relaxation, the different culture, and did I mention the food?
When I returned, my world was turned upside down. While I was off re-learning to enjoy myself on my honeymoon, a friend from high school, Lucas, had killed himself, and murdered Skye, someone else from my high school. I wanted to say he had “taken someone else’s life”, to dance around the sheer brutality of it, but that’s what it was. It was murder. It was suicide.
I was simultaneously racked with guilt and angry at Lucas. I had known Skye in high school and from ballroom dancing – he was a rare soul who just radiated kindness and compassion. I never saw him without a smile on his face, and I never saw or heard him speak an unkind word about anyone, no matter how deserving. The reason I was racked with guilt is pretty simple – I had grown up with mental illness in my life. I knew the signs. I knew when someone was drowning in a darkness of their own creation. I saw Lucas lashing out at people, I saw the spark in his eyes slowly disappear until it was entirely consumed by an emptiness. It was the same aching emptiness I saw in mom’s eyes when she sank into a depression, and would hurt herself. I once found my mom sitting on the stairwell to the basement with a kitchen knife in her hands, crying. I was maybe 12 or 13 – that’s when she confessed that the scars that run up and down her arm that she had always told me were from her attempt to take a knife away from my autistic uncle when they were children – she had lied. She said that sometimes she would “hurt herself so she could feel something – anything.” As a kid, I didn’t know what to do when someone I loved was hurting, so I took the knife away and held her and told her I loved her. I made her promise me to never hurt herself again. We never talked about the knife again.
Lucas‘s emptiness was also deep, but he would hurt others so he could feel. I started to see the pattern, as he became less charming and more focused on mounting verbal attacks, in tearing me (and others) down so he could feel better about himself.
I recognized this on some level, but, I think 20 year old me couldn’t cope. So, after he had verbally abused our brother, and I found him licking the ear of a sleeping under-aged friend, I blew up. I just couldn’t take it. For the first time, the mousey-Raven blew up and, more surprisingly, held her ground. I confronted him, told him his behavior was inappropriate. When he tried to tell me I was over-reacting and being hysterical, I stuck to my guns, I remembered my self-defense class and identified exactly what he was doing that was inappropriate, and when he still wouldn’t believe me, I swore. If you know me, you know I *hate* being angry, I hate confrontation of all kinds, but I yelled at him: “Get the FUCK out of my house.” He said his friend lived there, too, and I said “I don’t give a fuck, so long as I live here, you are not welcome. Do not talk to me, do not speak to me, get the FUCK out, and don’t come back. If you don’t get out now, I’ll call the police.” I literally walked forward, yelling at him to get the fuck out of my house until I had backed him out of the door and slammed the door on him. Then I ran to my room, shaking and crying. This all took place in front of our friends, whom I think were totally surprised, and possibly horrified, because his behavior was so commonplace. It was just Lucas being an asshole.