A hate-filled house – Anger dripping from its beams – Is a decrepit house Rotting at the seams. That selfish wrath we spew All the “I haves, mine, and this is only for me” All … Continue reading A House Built on Hate
“We need to fix her!” He exclaimed bemusedly “But I don’t know how She’s so lost. So far beyond reach.” At a loss for words I simply thought Who are … Continue reading Broken Things
Are We Living in a ‘Post-Factual’ or ‘Post-Truth’ World?
During my commute yesterday morning, I listened to the audio of the Shorenstein Center’s 2016 Theodore H. White Seminar on Press and Politics, and it made me really think about this idea … Continue reading Are We Living in a ‘Post-Factual’ or ‘Post-Truth’ World?
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
Wake Up, White Liberals.
Oh, for the love of god, to all the white liberals who with one breath criticized BlackLivesMatter, then Ferguson, and the “I Can’t Breathe” movement, and who are *now* crying … Continue reading Wake Up, White Liberals.
Earn Our Vote
I have to start this post with an apology. I truly try to keep politics out of my writing and blogging, but I feel the need to break my silence … Continue reading Earn Our Vote
And from the deepest shadows of her mind That dark beast rises, gnawing, ravenous, It searches, searches, until it finds That little girl, all wrapped inside Her little globe, her … Continue reading Self-Doubt
Love and Laughter
So, I still haven’t begun editing my second draft of Waking Dreams. I am finally through with a course of antibiotics for the nasty sinus infection I’ve been battling, but the fact that I am up writing due to a coughing fit, well, that means I may need to go for another round. Oh well! Who needs sleep anyway?
And since sweet sleep is elusive, I thought I would write about something else – love. I am incredibly lucky in this department. For whatever else we lacked in my home growing up (t.v., toys, gadgets, or most nifty things that “money” could buy), my mom poured love on us. I knew what it felt like to have someone wrap their arms around me when I was sick, who would stand up for me if she thought I was being treated unfairly, and I experienced the duality of the safety and ferocity of a mother’s love. It makes me so sad that so many out there have never experienced that love.
Then there are my siblings – my God, I am lucky there, too. I have three of the most amazing siblings I could ever have asked for. My older sister has always been a constant encouragement, allowing me to feed my dreams. Oh, the dreams we dreamed! And continue to dream. My younger brother is one of the most solid guys I know – he always speaks his mind and wears his heart on his sleeve. And since he lives with me, he endures a lot of older sister abuse. (ie: “Hey, D? Can you hold the baby for a sec? PSYCH! She’s got a load in her shorts!” *older sister runs away* This is somewhat similar to the age old “Hey, want the last bite of the Snickers bar? Psych! It’s just the wrapper! mwa-ha-ha-ha!” *runs away leaving younger brother to throw away the candy bar wrapper*) Seriously, though, my bro? He’s also one heck of a baby sitter. My youngest sister is the sweetest lady you’ll ever meet, and is now expecting her second little one. She has a lot of love to give, and I am so lucky to have her and that she put up with all my cruddy “The Green Hand” stories growing up (Don’t ask about this story! Just know, everyone dies in all variants. I think my older sis told it to me, or I just adapted and readapted it from the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” short stories. I was a sick kid.). I could go on and on about each one of my siblings, but know this – mess with my siblings, and it is on. We may annoy the heck out of each other on occasion, but, well, that’s family. I wouldn’t change anything about a single member of my family.
I am lucky in love in yet another way. I found the love of my life when I was only 16 years old. Now, almost 16 years later, we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. It’s more than a little amazing. He’s as funny, silly, loving, thoughtful, handsome, and snuggly as ever. It’s funny to think that so many people don’t really see the real Nick – they see someone who always has a crude joke ready for any occasion, but don’t see the man in the background, quietly supporting his friends, family and wife. Someone who convinced his mentally ill soon to be mother-in-law that she needed to go to her daughter’s wedding, in spite of the awkwardness. Who later stood up to her when she kept attempting to break into our house, because she was convinced we were trying to poison her. He screened those ugly phone messages, so I wouldn’t have to hear the hate in my mother’s voice. In spite of everything, he still treated my mother with compassion and respect, knowing how important it was to me that he not define my mother by her illness. Later, as she was on hospice, my mom fell and he picked her up (a woman slightly taller than him, and heavier, even though the chemo and cancer made her look stick thin) and laid her so gently down in bed, I would never have guessed that there had ever been a tumultuous history there. The look of love and tenderness on his face – that memory still makes me cry. If he had known I was watching, I am not sure I would have actually been able to glimpse that… I am so happy he has grown into the man he is, and that I got watch him as he grew. One thing, if you are growing up with your spouse, you learn that you do need to give them a lot of room to grow. I am not the same girl (thank god! Dear emo Raven, you can stay tucked back in the past, thank you), and he’s not the same boy. I am so thankful that the wonderful boy I started dating all those years ago grew into this wonderful man and father to our little girl.
There have been so many people over the years who said variants of “Puppy love? That will never last.” Well, it has. And it’s awesome. I know people think they are helping by trying to nay-say, prepare the youth for heartbreak, etc, but you’re not. You’re spreading your negativity and telling youth that because your love didn’t last, theirs shouldn’t. Listening to the radio this morning, I heard the radio personality say that some celebrity should “Get a room” for saying cutesy things to their boyfriend in a public forum. This always has annoyed me. Nick and I heard it all the time in High School (we did receive the distinction of “Most Public Displays of Affection” so I may be prone to bias. Maybe.). I wonder about that – people think showing love is somehow something that should be hidden away. It’s okay for people to kiss on TV or a movie screen, but heaven forbid they do it on a sidewalk! *gasp* Society somehow has the right to squelch others from holding hands, hugging, or kissing in public for “decency” or “respectability”. Why? Are we afraid of the intimacy? Why does it offend us that someone else is comfortable enough to do this in public, that we feel it’s necessary to shout or otherwise deride them?
Personally, I think it’s fu*&ed up that it’s more acceptable to spew hate and ridicule than it is to spread love. That we (and I think this is human beings, not just Americans) find it easier to mock people than to see the good in them and what they are doing. Perhaps this is just the Hippie Rambler talking. But really? Next time, you see a couple kissing, with that doe-eyed look in their eyes when they look at each other? And you want to say “It won’t last”, “That feeling will fade”, or the all time classic “Get a room”, ask yourself this: Who the fu*& are you to tell anyone anything about what they feel and how they show it? Back off and let them rejoice that they found love. Love is precious, and yes, it can be fleeting. You never know when it will be gone or, God forbid, taken away from you.
On Darkness, Negativity, and Other Broken Things
Okay, I had intended this blog to be solely my writing blog, something to help keep me motivated in my endeavors to write… But after quite a few responses offline and conveyed to me by TMiYC (The Monster In Your Closet) about my previous post (When you know a friendship is toxic), I now realize that there may be some merit in actually posting my own personal musings. Or perhaps all that internal dialogue may be useful to others… (And, yes, I used “dialogue” intentionally – it would be a monologue if it was one voice, instead of a myriad clammering simultaneously:”Why did you say that?” “Why did you x?” “Should you have done y instead?” “What if this choice has z effect?”)
Perhaps this blog can help quell those doubt-filled voices in my head. Or air them out to dry, so they’re out in the open and I can see them for what they are and not let those niggling doubts drag me down. Especially since I am a mom and my choices now effect that precious squealing ball of happiness that is currently napping spread-eagled in her crib.
Since I posted about NPD, I have felt as if this huge weight has been lifted from my chest. But that has more to do with my being open and acknowledging that I have negative feelings about someone. And that’s okay. For some reason, I have always hated speaking negatively about anyone. Whether they deserve it or not. I do want to be really clear about something – the friends I have, the real ones who are not NPD? You will never meet a more amazing, loving, thoughtful group of people. These are the people who banded together to bring me and my family food when my mom was dying, who took me to coffee, went on long walks, or just hugged me and let me cry during that period and YEARS before that when I finally confronted the fact that my mom was struggling with a mental illness that could no longer be ignored. Some of these friends may be a generation or two older than me, but that age difference does not change the fact that they have my admiration, love, and respect. Nor does it change the fact that they rock my socks off.
My discomfort about “rocking the boat” was really my fear of making a messy, awkward situation for my friends. Combine that fear with my discomfort saying anything negative about others? There is so much darkness and drama in the world, and I hate to cause any drama unnecessarily.
Perhaps it may help if I laid all my cards on the table. I was the victim of abuse. Sometimes, it seems so long ago and far away, I feel like it happened to a different person. A different little girl.
I watched my dad beat my mom on several occasions. I hid under the bed when he broke the bedroom door down to get at her. On one occasion, my cheek got cut when my mom tried to grab a wire hanger from the closet to defend herself (and she didn’t realize I was hiding in the closet at the time). I witnessed her get beaten while she was pregnant, and only later learned that I would have had one more brother had it not been for that attack. I am 32 years old and I still cringe when I hear people raise their voices in anger.
Add that to watching my mother slowly lose her battle with a mental illness that made her increasingly paranoid such that I often lost friends because they looked at her wrong… Well, you can bet that I will probably be the last one to speak up if something is bothering me. I am so used to compartmentalizing, because, heck, how the hell was I supposed to know what was normal growing up? I got used to playing the peacekeeper with mom – stepping in and telling her that her long-time friend and my godmother was not trying to insinuate she was a second class citizen by saying or doing x, y, or z. No, the pastor didn’t intentionally look at her at x point in the sermon. He was looking at everyone. It was gut-wrenching stress for a child, but it was what I knew.
Then there was the other thing – the thing I used to never mention for fear of people finding out just how broken I was. Starting in the 3rd grade, I was molested by a family friend. For years, I told the court and my mother that he had threatened to hurt my mom and siblings, and that’s why I didn’t tell anyone that it was happening. This man came into my mother’s house (before the mental illness had really even done more than make her unpredictably irritable) and pretended to be a friend to her while assuming the role of the gentle father to me. My mom was elated. Finally, a father figure was taking interest in her second daughter ! The daughter whose actual father never remembered her (the same father showed up on her 7th birthday to take the older, favored daughter shopping for My Little Ponies. (Thank you, TMiYC for sharing them with me!). This guy, hereafter dubbed “Pervert” (as an homage to my mom who yelled this loudly while pointing at him whenever she ran into him on the street, in the library, or at a restaurant), used my mom’s brokeness against me. After that first time, when he touched me (and I knew it was a “bad touch” because my mom had told me about it), he asked what it would do to my mom if she knew what he’d done? How would she feel if she knew just how unwanted she was, that he chose me over her? Wouldn’t it hurt her, break her to know what she had let happen to her child?
I was very good at putting on a game face. My mom didn’t suspect a thing for years. Pervert and mom drifted apart naturally, and I couldn’t have been happier. I got to be a kid and do kid things without feeling like I was living double lives. My mom had finally kicked my dad to the curb, and he had finally been forced by the State to pay child support, so my mom wasn’t terrified of losing the house.
It wasn’t until I was 10 and at the Country Fair when Mom went to go get me lemonade and returned to find me sitting cross-legged on our blanket, looking up at someone with absolute terror etched across my face. She dropped the lemonade and dragged me and all our things immediately back to the car with no more than a “Get away from my daughter” as a greeting to the Pervert. Over a course of several days, she asked me repeatedly and quietly, “What did he do to you?” When I insisted he didn’t do anything, she refused to believe me. I had no idea what to say – what was I supposed to say? When I was 7 I started lying because I was afraid to hurt you? You were happy for the first time, and dad wasn’t hurting you anymore and all I wanted was for you to laugh and smile, because when you were laughing and smiling the world could be whatever we dreamed it could be?
In the end – I broke. I told her everything, with the slight tweak on my own little lie. And I watched with a broken heart as her world crumbled and shattered around her. She had given up everything, worked multiple jobs at the same time, buckled under her own feelings and accepted food stamps (she hated charity), pushed to get each one of us into alternative schools so we could have every opportunity, and then this. The Pervert was right. Where Dad had failed, he had won. She broke and she broke hard. Did she hit me when I finally confessed, like somehow the D.A. convinced her she had? Hell, no. She held me, cried and said “I’m so sorry, my poor baby” over and over again. The crying didn’t stop for several weeks. The number of times I heard “I’m a terrible mother” coming from her room, sometimes punctuated by a dull and rhythmic thud as she hit her head against the floor, well… That broke me. For many many years, I carried a guilt around with me. I blamed myself, not the Pervert. I should have told her after that first time, my so much smarter ten-year-old self tried to tell my seven-year-old self. It was the years of letting it happen that was what destroyed her. I had broken my mom where my dad had failed. Little me and my big lies.
Counseling helped, and boy did my mom choose a good counselor. But nothing helped quite so much as the entry into my life of one person who believed in me so fully, and whose gentle support and guidance helped me learn to believe in myself. I don’t know how a 17 year-old boy possessed the wisdom, grace, humor, and comfort to bring the solitary Rambler out of hiding, but he did. I am forever grateful to the love of my life, my husband, for that.
As a sidenote, I never did tell my mom about that big/little lie. Even as I held her hand and she breathed her last breath., there was always that lie between us. The guilt created a huge gap that I didn’t know how to bridge. Right before she succumbed to a three year bout where she gave in to her mental illness completely, and barely recognized us, my mom had walked up to me and begged me for forgiveness. I blithely hugged her, laughed and told her she didn’t need my forgiveness. She was my mom, I loved her, and she had done nothing that needed forgiveness. She looked at me with such sorrow, that it haunts me still. She begged that someday I would find it in my heart to forgive her, and everyone who hurt me, because forgiveness was so important. I wish I had said the words she so needed to hear. I didn’t understand what she wanted me to forgive, but she needed it. How hard is it to say “I forgive you”?
Anyways, this is a rather dark post because I have, like so many people out there, lived through some dark times. It has made me who I am. Am I emotionally scarred? Sure. We all have our scars, whether we choose to hide them, bare them, or flaunt them. I used to cling to positivity like a lifeboat. I had to believe people could change. I hated how much people talked about my mom, and rather than lending a helping hand, they pulled her down with criticism. I hate to feel like I could be one of those people, standing on the sideline and judging someone as they struggle. It just feels ugly to dwell on anything negative. Add to that all the doubt of “is this just me being sensitive because of all this baggage?” The simple truth of it is that there is ugliness out there. Just as I try to deal with in my novel, there is darkness out there. It hides within us all, and we get to choose how much of it we let in and influence who we are and who we will be. While I may often choose not to comment on those glimpses of shadows I may observe in others, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s there. It doesn’t change the fact that I know it’s there.
I know now that speaking about it won’t make me a worse person. If anything, it makes me a stronger person.
– The Rambler laid bare