Tag Archives: ashamed

Zombieland

I sometimes have weird revelations.

I’m not thinking of anything in particular and suddenly, a fully formed concept pops into my head.  As if I’d been working on it, trying to figure it out for days.  Then at long last, the insight is simply there.  Crystal clear.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had these unsettling mini-thoughts; thoughts that flash into my mind almost as fast as they disappear.  Thoughts about my life.  About where I’ve been and where I am now.  And where I’ll never be.  Because I’m stuck in Zombieland.

I’ve had goals, dreams, aspirations…whatever you want to call them.  Things that I’ve been working for and towards my whole life.  They’ve kept me walking.  Kept me putting one foot in front of the other.  Kept me looking ahead more than I looked behind.

Now, I can’t avoid facing what I’ve denied for decades.  Now, I am compelled to look behind.  Now, it’s hard to find a reason to keep walking forward.

I’m not sure when things changed.  But I had one of those weird, fully formed revelations.  And I realized with certainty, I’ve come to the end of the road.  I’ve passed the point where dreams die and I’ve reached that place where I can barely recall a time when I had dreams.  I suddenly see I’ve been foolish to believe I could actually realize any of the dreams I’ve been striving for so arduously.  They’re not going to happen.  They will always be nothing more than a dream.

I should have seen the truth much sooner.  I have deceived myself  and now, with nothing to reach for, my soul withers and rots.

I’ve arrived in Zombieland.  It’s where I live now.  Always have.  But I used to believe I was somewhere else.  I used to have hope of escaping.

No more.  This is where I will die.

Little by little, I have had to let go of everything that was sacred to me.  I’ve had to let go of all that I had hoped would resuscitate and restore me.

I used to love to sing.  In the car.  In the shower.  Around the house…at every opportunity.  I had a good voice.  Not extraordinary, but I was a great backup singer.  And if the song was right and in the right key, I could sound like Karen Carpenter.

Along came ED.  The eating disorder that I thought was as harmless as a dormant volcano.  Something set it off again and now, I’ve all but lost my voice.  Purging keeps my speaking voice raspy.  My singing voice has been silenced completely.  I’ve lost one of the few things that brought me happiness.

I’ve struggled to accept my body.  I’ve struggled to accept who I am.  But there was one thing about me that I liked.  One thing that was special.  I had gorgeous hair.  It was long, thick, shiny, soft and beautiful.

I don’t know if the aging process changed it or if the eating disorder contributed or if it was a combination of the two.  But now, my hair barely grows.  It has fallen out at an alarming rate for no detectable reason.  And it’s thin, brittle, dull and frizzy.  I’ve lost the one thing that allowed me to feel a little bit good about myself.

I had an extraordinary memory.  Now, I can’t remember what I was thinking or what I was doing from one second to the next.  If I don’t write things down immediately, they’re gone.  I make lists for the grocery store, to-do lists at work, set reminders on my Outlook calendar, all in an attempt to remember things I once would have never forgotten.  Thoughts are gone almost as quickly as they come to me.  If not captured in ink, they sink back into the murky waters of my brain.

One by one, the few things that gave me a small sense of worthiness have all been stripped away.  The list of the pieces of myself I’ve left behind and lost is long.  The list of what remains is nothing more than a blank page.

There were other things, more practical things, that have fallen away.  I wanted to have enough money so I would never have to worry about making ends meet.  I wanted to have enough to retire early so I could finally leave the struggle behind.  The struggle of pleasing bosses who only want more and who are never satisfied with what I accomplish.  I wanted to be able to do some fun things.  Just for me.  Ride in a hot air balloon at least once in my life.  Lay on the beach for as long as I want and splash in the waves.  Let time pass me by without making demands.  Without requiring me to do something that makes me valuable to someone.  Without having to fight for the right to breath air or to constantly apologize for my lacks and defects.  For wanting to be the lucky one for a change.

I dreamed of having a great job.  Before I retired.  A job where I was recognized as having value and where I was allowed to be part of the team.  I wanted so badly to make enough money to chase the fear away.  To belong.  To feel good about myself.

I hoped for love.  Someone to love.  Someone to love me.  And this, this is where I wanted pure extravagance.  Excessive love.  Deep and vital connectedness.  Unending acceptance.  Tender.  Committed.  Sustaining love.  Love that would make life worth all the pain and wounds and destruction that came before it.

I wanted to be pretty, but there’s not much that can be done.  It is what it is.  And age steals even what little there was.

I wanted to find emotional healing.  To be free of mental illnesses.   Sadly, it also is what it is.  Effort doesn’t count and prayers haven’t moved this mountain.

The revelation that hit me was interesting because I was unexpectedly able to clearly see I am no longer working toward attaining or reaching any of the things that have previously motivated me.  They’re gone.   All of them.  The hopes.  The dreams.  The desires.  Even the desire for restoration of what has been lost.  Gone.

Now, I exist.  I get up, do what I have to do, go to bed, try to sleep, then get up and do it again.  And again.  And again.  And the emptiness of it doesn’t even matter.

I’ve given up.

I’m in Zombieland.

No highs.  No major lows.  Nothing to look forward to.  Nothing to cherish from the past.  I’m numb and have run out of things to live for.  I’m existing in the land of the walking dead.  Nothing moves me.  Nothing can revive me.  I watch life go by while remaining untouched and empty.

I do what Zombies do.  Exist; nothing more.   I no longer care that I’m a Zombie.  I’ve stopped fighting it.  Stopped trying to get from where I am to somewhere else.  Stopped trying to become someone else.   I no longer hope for much of anything.  I’m simply grateful to survive the day without trauma.

Tomorrow will come and go.  My life in Zombieland will be tomorrow as it is today.  A vacuum.  A place where nothingness thrives.

It is the space in which I live and it is the place where I will die.  No reason to fight it because I’ve already lost the battle.  Nothing to hope for because what is will always be.  And I will always be a Zombie.

It’s done.  I’ll be a Zombie until my physical body finally joins my heart and soul in death.

All I have left to leave behind is Zombie dust.

No Justice

At various times in the history of our country, there have arisen groups of individuals who were intent on ferreting out some dark truth while exposing lies.  In some cases, these groups have changed the way we respond to issues and have obtained justice for those who didn’t have a voice and could have never found justice on their own.

Sometimes those who have risen up have been journalists trying to follow a story.  Journalists who were determined to follow that story through to the bitter end.

I watched a movie a few nights ago about a group of journalists who began researching priests in the Boston area who were suspected of abusing children.  Initially, they believed there were 13 priests in the area who had sexually abused children who were under their spiritual leadership.  These journalists were outraged to find there were so many.  To them, it was unthinkable.  But as they kept digging, they found at least 89 – a number that stunned them.  They became intent on exposing these priests for what they were and they were determined to bring them to justice.  They were sickened by the depravity of those priests and agonized over the children that had been damaged as well as those who might still be in harms way.  As a result of their efforts, a huge cover-up was exposed.  The Catholic church was called into account and hundreds of priests were prosecuted.

Justice was served.

When I was a little girl, a little girl who was being molested, abused, preyed up, raped, fondled and used as a sex toy by my father, people didn’t talk about incest.  People didn’t even whisper about such despicable things under cover of darkness or in the privacy of their homes.  Fathers wouldn’t do this to daughters, or so it was believed.  If a child was abused, it was physical, not sexual in nature.  If it was sexual, a stranger had to be involved.  Not a family member.  Especially not a parent.

Even if I had gone to a newspaper, they wouldn’t have published my story.  Because mine was a tale of a child who was indeed sexually abused by their father.  Sexually abused in every way and manner that can be imagined.

All these years later, the outcry against incest has been much quieter than the protest against other types of abuse.  The voice has been hushed.  For the most part, those who speak about this atrocity have largely gone unheard and unacknowledged.

Incest is still a vile word that is rarely spoken.

This is extremely unfortunate because it has been proven that the most damaging form of childhood sexual abuse is that of a father sexually abusing a daughter.  The damage goes deep.  It rips apart the foundation of that child’s beliefs about life, others and self.  If the child was brave enough, strong enough and healed enough to have shared their stories in hopes that someone would listen, they have been disappointed when their revelation was met with rejection and denial.  At best.

There have been a few movies that attempted to depict the horror and long-lasting annihilation of those abused children.  The fragmentation of their heart and soul.  But for the most part, people have turned away from them, blamed the victim and refused to acknowledge the depravity of the abuser.  Few have embraced the broken child, especially when that child became a broken adult.

Justice is not often served.

One of the barriers to obtaining justice is the statute of limitations.  This statute determines the length of time that can pass once a crime is committed after which the perpetrator can be held accountable for their offense.  It doesn’t matter how strong the case may be.  If too many years have passed before the abused was able to speak of their pain and shame, nothing can be done.  The offender effectively gets away with murdering the soul of their own child because the law gives them a “get out of jail free” card.

I reached out twice before it was too late.  Not that it did any good.

When I was 13, I approached the pastor of the local Baptist church.  I told him my father was sexually abusing me and that both of my parents were emotionally, physically and verbally abusive.  I didn’t know all the right words to use – I had never heard the word incest at that time.  But I told him what was happening to me.  The sexual abuse started when I was around 5.  I had survived a great deal, but I knew my ability to cope was slipping.  This pastor calmly shut the door to his office, then forcefully told me to go home and to never, ever, ever lie about my parents again.  The church offered no refuge or help, and in fact, made me feel even more strongly I was at fault.

The second time I reach out, I was 14.  I tried to tell my favorite teacher, but she did not believe me either.  After her rejection, I gave up.    I realized my story was not one that people were willing to hear.

There were seasons in my life when I opened the door a crack and tried to reach out in an attempt to heal.  I even forgave my parents, though I could never have a safe or genuine relationship with them.  I read books…the few that were available at the time.  I sought counseling, hoping a professional could help me put the pieces of myself back together again.  But it is difficult to find your voice and tell your story as you try to heal when the people and events that significantly shaped you either cannot be revealed or the listener can’t or won’t hear.

I tried to release the pain by selectively speaking of what had happened to me.  It was long past that magical line that the statute of limitations draws in the sand of time, so justice was not an option.  Nor did I seek it.  I didn’t want anyone to pay.  I only sought wholeness.  My desire was to experience a life that was worth living.   But my shy and cautious attempts to tell my story led only to more rejection and isolation.

I got the message.  My story was unspeakable.  I was repulsive.  I needed to keep my mouth shut and my story to myself.

I’m thankful there are brave individuals who have doggedly pursued those who have abused children.  I’m thankful that in some cases, they have obtained justice for victims.  But I can’t help but think about the children who, like me, will never obtain justice, who will never have their anguish validated, their shame expelled and whose hearts will never heal because they are forever required to hold within them the toxic and damaging events that fragmented their souls.

These children, these children who are like me, will never be able to speak because our words are swatted away and disregarded.  We are rejected.  Few are willing to listen to even the most basic generalities of our experiences.  There is no one to act on our behalf or to set us free of our anguish and shame.  There is no one to stand beside us, the broken, and help us rebuild all that has been lost, stolen and crushed.

There will be no justice.  Not that justice is what we long to achieve.  We would, in fact, be grateful if only someone would take the time to listen and hear our story.  To connect.  To care.

That is all the justice we require.

 

The Scary Thing

The scary thing is simply this:  We were all young once.  And innocent.  And then, we aren’t.

We all began at some point, a point at which we were incredibly vulnerable and insecure.

We will all end at some point, a point at which we will be incredibly vulnerable and insecure.

Between these two point of utter vulnerability and insecurity, life happens.  Life happens as we travel from birth to death.  Whatever it involves, one thing is certain.  It’s a grueling, confusing, painful process.  For many of us.

A long time ago, but not that long ago, I was a newborn baby, laying in a nursery in the hospital where I was born.  Hours old.  Knowing nothing.  Unable to focus or to comprehend what had just happened to me.  Trying to take it all in. Cold and crying.  Hungry.  I had never been hungry before.  There had been nothing for my eyes to see.  Now, there was too much to see for me to take it all in.

This is where we all begin.

I didn’t know who the people were who were staring at me through the nursery window.  I didn’t know about love, hate, fear, abuse, rejection, shame or disgust.

I learned.  I learned too soon.  I learned and grew.  Aged.

I discovered how eating made the pain of hunger go away.  I discovered my own hands and feet.  Fingers and toes.  Developed a sense of being.  Of being me.  Unique.  A human being apart from my parents.  I took my first steps.  Stopped pooping in my diapers.  Was awestruck by the lights and the magic of Christmas.  Found out I could run.  Enjoyed the wind, the sun, the stars and the clouds.  Bonded with toys and learned how to play.  I grew.  Matured.

Didn’t bond so much with people.  People were too dangerous.  I learned that early. Very early.

Then, I went to school and another kind of learning began.

But before I was old enough to enter kindergarten, the bad things had already started happening.  They had already started eating away at my soul.

My father had a side that was hidden from most people. A side few ever saw.  A sick side.   It wasn’t hidden from me, though I wish it had been.  That side, that hidden side, was a big scary thing.  He touched me in scary, wrong ways.  He would also explode with anger and hit me – he said it was because I was bad and I deserved it.  He taught me things that he said I needed to learn.  About sex.  But now, looking back, I’m not sure that any little girl needs to learn any lesson that abuse has to teach.  I still knew my own fingers and toes…knew they were mine and mine alone.  But I forgot what it meant to be a unique person.  An individual.  The sick father taught me I was nothing but an object to be used.  He taught me that the reason I existed was to please him and my sick mother.  The sick mother who rejected me, hit me and belittled me.  I was supposed to please them both.  To fulfill them. To satisfy them.  To make them happy.

But I could never do or be enough to please them or make them happy.  And there was no way I could ever fulfill them.  I could never make their world okay.

So, when I went to school and started a whole new kind of learning, I was shy and fearful.  Awkward.  Different.  Ashamed.  I made a few friends, but I never fully connected with anyone.  I was too afraid.  Adults were especially terrifying to me.  I knew I must please them or suffer the consequences – and the consequences were terrible.  So I studied and got good grades.  A’s, B’s, even some A+’s.  But I was never good enough for my parents.  Never did good enough for my parents.  I was always expected to do and be more.

I always failed.  Failed them.

I grew.  I aged.  Matured some more.  Passed grade after grade with flying colors.  Sick father and sick mother continued to teach me I was worthless, pathetic, and such a disappointment they could hardly bear it.  They destroyed me.  From them, I learned depression and despair.  Brokenness.  Emptiness.  Hopelessness.  Nothingness.

Now, I’m closer to death than to life.  Youth is further from me than that point in time when I will cease to exist on this planet.  That, too, is a scary thing.

The scary thing is, it all went by too quickly.  Without my even realizing life was slipping through my fingers and toes.  I let my parents tell me who I was…nothing.  I let them warp my thinking until I believed with all of my heart that I was unlovable.  Despicable.  I tried not to listen to their message, but it happened, I did, and after a time, I couldn’t fight it.  I took it all in.  I believed them.  Even though I knew they weren’t trustworthy.  They told me abuse was love and I believed that too.  They told me it was all my fault and I believed it.  I still believe them.  The message they placed deep inside of me when they raped and abused me bore much fruit.  It was planted so far inside of me, I didn’t even know what they had done to me until it was too late.  Until it was over.  Until I believed.  Until I became what they told me I was.

The most scary thing is that we all start out innocent and full of hope.  But it doesn’t last long.  Everything that happens to us after the moment we are born drains a little bit more innocence and hope out of us.  Inch by inch, everything that makes us wonderful is destroyed.  Until we give up.  Until we are nothing but a zombie.  Until we have nothing to live for.

The most scary thing is that, when we reach this point, life doesn’t matter. We’re too numb to care.  All we can hope for is that we will be able to endure.  All that we can hope for is that death will be merciful.  The most scary thing is that the innocent child dies long, long, long before our flesh begins to rot.  That it’s over long before it’s over.  No matter how hard we try.  No matter how hard we fight.  We die years and years and years before we stop breathing.

That, that, yes that is the most scary thing.  The scariest thing of all.

Silent Ties

It is so quiet, every small settling of the house causes the aging wood to cry out with a sharp, loud “pop” that echoes through the dark room where it sit.  I can hear the wind chimes as they are harshly caressed by the brisk north wind; a wind that howls loudly as it licks the roof, as if trying to lift it off and sweep it away.  Clouds are low and gray.  They run swiftly across the sky ahead of the wind.  It is a gloomy sky and the house is in dark shadow as a result.  I should turn on a lamp.  But I am bound by the silence that surrounds me.  Unable to force myself to move beneath the heavy weight of those dark clouds.

A train whistle sounds in the distance.  Several yards away, a dog barks and my two Schnauzers perk their ears in interest.  Then, they lay their head back down on my lap.  I listen to the ambient sounds.  The raging voice of silence.  The language of isolation.  The substance of nothingness.

I have spent most of my life alone, cloaked in and smothered by heavy silence.  Aloneness has been my one faithful companion.  Such as it is. 

Life is nothing like what I pictured it would be. It has not turned out the way I thought it would turn out and has not become what I expected.  I am not where I believed I would be at this point.  I do not like where I have ended up.

I didn’t expect this ever present and oppressive silence.  I didn’t believe the pain and isolation would continue for so long.  For my entire life.  I didn’t believe the emptiness would remain a constant, nagging dagger in my heart.  I didn’t expect the brokenness to persist for a lifetime.  I fully believed I would be whole by now.  Happy.  Healed.

I believed I would know and be part of the noise of a real, full, rewarding life.  I believed I would overcome.

Why is life so bleak and meaningless for me…yet so rich, cherished, full and beloved by most others?  Why does my world resemble a dry desert without oasis or shelter from the scorching, unrelenting sun?

The silence of life binds me.  It ties me up.  It insulates me from all that is good, wondrous and worthy.  There is no life-giving water in my desert, yet I am drowning.  I am drowning in the noise of silence.  Drowning in the endless quiet.  Silence screams at me, holding my head underwater as it shouts.

I can’t help but wonder if this is all there will ever be for me?

I struggle in this muffled, empty world, fighting my way through, trying to survive.  The life I yearn for was ripped from me when I was but a child.  It was torn from my grasp before I could take even a single sip of unfettered joy.  I have chased that joy all my life, but what was taken from me has not been restored.   

I can’t help but wonder if this, this empty, soundless existence, is what my life was meant to be?

I wanted so much more.  But the silent ties that bind me have not loosed with time.  In fact, they have tightened like a boa constrictor until they are now unbearable.  They strangle all that is good.  Pain is amplified as it echoes across the sand of this desolate wasteland.  I am overcome by the vast barrenness of my life.  Overwhelmed by the unrelenting noise of silence.

I am saddened to think this is all I will likely ever know.  All I will ever experience. 

I know we are promised more in the next world; the eternal world that lies just beyond our own.  But you see, I had high hopes for this life…at least in the beginning.  And so, I’m disappointed.  I’m disappointed that silence still imprisons me in this hollow, isolated wasteland I am forced to call home. 

I long to be set free from the silent ties that bind me in this noiseless, desolate world.  I long to move on.  I am ready for random sound and laughter.  I want to live noisily.  And joyously.  Unfettered.  For once, flying free.

If only silence would release its hold on me…

Darkness Comes

Darkness comes in many forms. 

Sometimes it is at its deepest in the middle of a bright, sunny day.  Sometimes it is most inky in the middle of a cold, lonely night.  It creeps in during a too-quiet morning.  On a stressful, chaotic afternoon.   On a rainy day.  Slinking in with the  setting of the sun.  The rising of the sun.  Of the moon.

Turning on the lights will not banish it.  Nor will smiling when in pain or willing yourself to ignore your fear, loneliness and anguish.

When darkness comes calling, you can’t lock the doors to keep it at bay.  Nor can you run from it or hide yourself away.  It penetrates all barriers, breaks through all locks, seeps beneath all defenses.  When darkness sets its sights on you, nothing will deter it.  It won’t rest until it has you by the throat, strangling you with long, cold, unflinching fingers.

It wants to destroy you.

Darkness persists.  It permeates.  It putrefies.  It rapes, beats you and leaves you for dead.

It plants its seed deep in your soul.

Darkness comes when least expected.  During a wedding.  In the middle of a church service.  At a Christmas party.  During a family reunion.  Suddenly, in the middle of a celebration, it is there.  Sucking all the joy out of the room.  Out of your life.  Tainting everything it touches.  Drowning you down. Suffocating you.

Sometimes it comes when you are a child  during an innocent afternoon spent with your father, your protector, the man you adore.  Over Christmas break.  Or summer break…he is a teacher.  Or before he leaves for work.  It comes.  It diminishes you.  It breaks you. It destroys you as his perverted, horrible lust takes control.  When he touches your breasts.  Your clitoris.  Pushes his fingers inside of you.  Buries his penis in your mouth.  In your vagina.  Again and again.

Darkness comes.  It cackles with glee.

It has you now.  You have been infected.  There is no cure.

There is no escape.

Darkness comes when the man you love with all of your heart tells you he doesn’t love you.  When he tells you that you are so much less than, inadequate, defective.  When he tells you to keep the ugliness of who you are to yourself.  To keep it all inside.  Because he doesn’t want to hear it.  Doesn’t want to know you.  Doesn’t want to be bothered.

Darkness comes.  It comes cloaked in abuse.  In rejection.  In disdain.  And it, in turn, cloaks you in shame.

Light cannot penetrate this darkness.  Hope cannot endure it. 

Darkness comes.  And it destroys your life.  It steals away everything that matters.  Everything that was good about you.  It steals.  It destroys.  It takes.  It demands.  And it snickers in victory as it watches you wither away.  As you are consumed by numbness and emptiness. As you are utterly decimated.

It rejoices as you are devoured by the dark seeds that impregnated you.

Wisdom cannot defeat it.  Nor can willpower.  Only love can overcome the darkness.  But love can’t see you, cloaked as you are in shame, hidden by the night.  So the years pass.  So your lifeblood flows from you.  So time runs out.

Darkness comes; stealthy and persistent.  It comes.  And it never lets you go.

 

Pretty

Some girls just are.  You know.  Pretty. 

There’s no question.  They know it.  Everyone else knows it.  They have something special that others don’t have, even when the others try really hard to fix themselves up, spending a lot of time on how they look.  And whatever that “something” is that they have, it clearly sets them apart, causing them to stand out without even trying.

They stand out.  They get preferential treatment.

Men notice them.  Women notice them too.

They’re the right height.  Their legs are the perfect length and shape.  Their hair blows exactly as it should in the gentle breeze.  Their face is the right shape, their eyes are the right size and best color, their nose is cute and perky, their lips are shapely and luscious, their chin is short and adorable.  They have the right curves in the right places, flat stomachs, firm, ample beasts and they are the perfect weight.  Their feet are the right size and their ankles are small and fragile.  They dress right, move right, look right, act right, laugh right and talk right.

They are exactly right.

They certainly don’t have any wrinkles.  Or obvious flaws.  They are perpetually young and gorgeous.

Things are easier when you’re pretty.  You hold the cards.  The winning hand. You can wrap people around your little finger.  Just because of the way you look.

People fall at your feet.  They get in line to worship you.  To elevate you. To win your favor.  They adore you.

Not that I know from personal experience.  Just from observation.

I have never been pretty.  Never.  I have never held the right cards.  I have never had a winning hand.  I have never received favor.

My mother used to tell me I had a nice face.  She would say, “If only you would lose weight, you would be so pretty.”  She said this with great longing; with disappointment dripping from her voice. I let her down.  By not being pretty.  I humiliated her because I was plain.  Or worse.  And fat.

I tried hard to lose the weight.  Sometimes, I was successful.  Fell in the “normal” range.  But for a lot of my life, I was really overweight.   Obese.  Unacceptable.  Rejected.  The opposite of pretty.  The opposite of okay.

Things never came together for me.  Not in the looks department.  Not in the life department.  Life has always been a frightening struggle for me.  Nothing good has come my way.  No matter how hard I worked for it.

There has always been something “off” about me.  And off-putting.  Something disgusting.   Something that keeps me on the outside.  Something that keeps me from being accepted.  Something that makes me unworthy.  And unwanted.

I’ve never been good enough.  Never been pretty enough.  Never been cool enough.  Never been…you name it, I’ve never been it.  Life has not gone my way.  I am, and have always been, unacceptable. 

Not pretty.  Not even close to pretty.  I have never met anyone’s expectations, no matter how hard I have tried.

Some people don’t have to try.  They just are.  And they win without even working at it because they simply are.  Pretty.  Adorable.  Popular.  Cool.  Beautiful.

Then there are the people like me.  People who will never be acceptable, no matter how hard we work at it.  I’ll never be normal.  Wanted.  Desired.

“Pretty is as pretty does” is a load of shit.  Pretty is.  It’s an outward thing.  It has nothing to do with what you do. Who you are.  You can do ugly things when you are pretty.  You can get away with disgusting things when you are gorgeous…on the outside.  The outside seems to make all the difference in the world.

The inside?  Doesn’t even factor in.

Doesn’t. Factor. In.

Nothing matters.  Not effort.  Not intelligence.  Not ability.  Nothing matters unless.  Unless you’re pretty.  Then everything matters.

Thin makes you acceptable.  Pretty makes you worthy.

And I’m not pretty.  Not thin enough; not at the moment.  So I’m not worthy.

I’ll never be pretty.  I’ll never be acceptable. I try hard.  I’ll keep trying hard.  But I’ll never win.  It’s crystal clear.  I’ll never overcome.  I’ll never be…enough.  Not the way I am.

Never.

No matter how much effort I give it.  I am repulsive.  And the repulsive are judged harshly.  The repulsive are rejected.  Overlooked.

People like me live in the shadows.  Longing to be what we can never be.  Always longing.  Longing to be pretty.  Longing to be  accepted.  Longing to be wanted.  Longing to be loved.  Longing to be all the things that will always and forever remain just…out…of…reach…

Water

My ex husband grew up in “The Land of Enchantment.”  It’s beautiful country.  A place I always wanted to live.  But he wasn’t keen to move back there. 

He told me there wasn’t enough water.

It was a land where water was rationed.  A land where you had “ditch rights.”   Where water was used to gain power.  Where you only had access certain days of the week.  For very limited times.

He had this funny habit of frequently licking his thumb and index finger.  It was a habit he picked up living in the land of little water, a place that was always dry, a place that burned your skin like an oven.  He licked his fingers to make them wet.  He liked wet.

We lived in a place where water was plentiful and he never tired of making everything wet.  He liked cleaning the kitchen counters because he could use water while cleaning; lots of water.  He left them dripping with a layer of water.  Clean, but covered with a film of wetness.  He rejoiced in that wetness.

He liked his hands to be wet.  He liked making things wet.

He never stopped licking his thumb and index finger.  Never stopped during the 22 years of our marriage. Even though he no longer lived in a place where water was rationed.  It had become a part of him.

This is the man who insisted…no, demanded…that I keep the impact of being abused by my parents – physically, emotionally, verbally and sexually – to myself.  I couldn’t “lick my fingers.”  It was unacceptable.  That kind of involuntary ingrained response to their destructive parenting indicated I was defective.  Affected.  Damaged.

Growing up in a land with little water had an impact on him.

Growing up in an abusive environment had an impact on me.

He had no problem admitting and accepting that the lack of moisture experiences during his childhood changed him and caused some quirks in his personality. Caused him to do certain things that he probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.  To be someone he wouldn’t have been otherwise.

He had a huge problem believing that the abuse I experienced in childhood changed me and caused me to have some quirks in my personality.  Caused me to do certain things that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.  To be someone I wouldn’t have been otherwise.

It made me into a person I wouldn’t have been.  Shouldn’t have been.  Just like the lack of water he grew up with caused him to be someone he wouldn’t have been had he not experienced a water shortage during his formative years.

It was okay for him.  To be affected.  But not for me.

I wasn’t allowed to have any reaction to my past.  I wasn’t allowed to have been changed by it.  To have been wounded by it.

Until I started writing this blog, I spent my entire life trying to deny my past and the impact of that abuse.  I was (am) ashamed of how my childhood changed me.  I was (am) embarrassed about the way it damaged me.  I tried over the course of most of my life to be someone other than the person I am.  Because being me wasn’t allowed.  Being me was disgusting.   I was ugly inside and out.  Or so I was told.

My ex let me know I was disgusting, ugly and worthless after we had been married only a few months.  My parents let me know I was a huge disappointment early on, when I was a child too small to fully understand the message.  Everyone I have ever known has let me know in various ways that I should shut up and not talk about “it.”  Because “it” made me a worthless piece of crap.  “It” was deplorable…and made me deplorable.  “It” was something that should be kept hidden away in the darkness.  And “it” should never, ever, ever be talked about.  Never.

“It” was something that should always remain a secret.  That I should always keep to myself.

Growing up in a land of little water marked him.  And that was understandable.

Growing up in a home that was terribly abusive marked me.  And that was not understandable.  It was shameful.  It was my fault.  Somehow.

It was never my parent’s fault.

It was my secret.  Never their secret.

My shame.  Not theirs.

It was acceptable for him to be touched by his childhood in the land of little water.

It was not acceptable for me to be touched by my childhood in a home where I was abused by my parents.  Where abuse flowed like a river of bountiful water.

He was starving for water.  And it affected him.  He licked his fingers.  For the rest of his life.

I was drowning in it.  In the water.  Of abuse.  But I was a bad person for being affected by it.  I was bad for “licking my fingers.”  For the rest of my life.

I don’t understand how this makes any sense.

But I’m still trying not to lick my fingers.  At least where someone can see me.

 

 

Cry

“Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.”  ―Carl Sandburg

It’s been a long time.

I don’t do tears.  Not well.  Not easily.

I need to do tears.

I’ve been peeling the onion for a very long time.  One layer after another.  Until all the layers ran together, couldn’t be pulled apart and I no longer understood or could comprehend the intricacies. Or the associated feelings.

I need to weep.  I need the tears to wash my face.  My soul.  I need the healing purification.  But I’ve forgotten how to cry.  The tears elude me.

“Crying relieves pressure on soul.”
― Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

The pain is crushing.  I need relief.  But still the tears won’t come.  I am too lost to cry.  Too ashamed to cry.  Ashamed that I still need to cry after all these years.  After all this time.  I’m ashamed that I’m still broken.  I’m so ashamed, so destroyed, I’m numb.

“Crying wasn’t like riding a bike. Give it up, and you quickly forget how it’s done.”
― Alice Hoffman, The Ice Queen

I stopped crying when I was far too young.  I’ve held my tears in for so long, I can no longer remember how to cry.  My tears have dried up.  I’ve forgotten how to cry.

When you hold your emotions back, when you bury them, stifle them, suffocate them, they die.  And suddenly, you find yourself unable to feel.  Anything.

My heart has turned to ice.  And I hate it.

“One by one, drops fell from her eyes like they were on an assembly line – gather, fall, slide…gather, fall, slide…each one commemorating something she had lost. Hope. Faith. Confidence. Pride. Security. Trust. Independence. Joy. Beauty. Freedom. Innocence.”
― Lisi Harrison, Monster High

When I was a child, I used to hide my face in my pillow at night to smother my tears and wipe them away.  I denied them.  Sobbed into the feathers to muffle the sound of my agony. I buried my suffering there.  My despair.

I tried to believe I hadn’t lost my entire life at such a young age.  That everything hadn’t slipped through my fingers before I even started living.  Tried to believe I had a future.

I wanted to believe there was hope.  For me.

How I long to feel again.  How I long to be ripped apart by my emotions.  Even destroyed by them.  Destruction would be better than this.  This purgatory.  This place that is and is not.  The place in between.  Where all that is worth living for and all that is worth weeping over is lost.  This place of the living dead.

It has been a long time since I cried.  I’ve given up on peeling the onion.  It doesn’t touch me any more; doesn’t burn my eyes.  Doesn’t cause my eyes to water. 

No moisture.  No relief.

No hope.

I no longer need to bury my face in my pillow to swallow the agony.  I’ve swallowed it so deeply, it’s untouchable..the pain.  It’s unreachable.  Petrified.  Rotting in my soul.

I thought I had a chance.

I was wrong.

And still, I can’t cry.

“Crying in the rain. No one sees your tears and your pain gets washed away.”
― Elizabeth Bourgeret

How I wish I could cry in the rain.  How I wish I could weep and sob and let the tears wash my pain away.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

I loved them.  Loved them as only a little girl can love.

Especially Illya Kuryakin.  Napoleon Solo was too cocky and full of himself for me.  Too egotistical  Too suave.  He was the guy who always won.  I loved the underdog.  Kuryakin.

I spent my meager allowance to buy posters, pictures and books.  Man From U.N.C.L.E. posters, pictures and books.  Books that I read again and again.  Pictures that I looked at, soaked in and memorized.  Huge posters that I adored and hung on my wall.  The show was a happy place in my otherwise unhappy world.

Robert Vaughn.  David McCallum.  Leo G. Carroll.  Especially David McCallum.  Illya Kuryakin.

I often pretended to be an U.N.C.L.E. agent.  I had an army green messenger pouch I bought from the Army Surplus Store and I filled it with secret documents I was tasked to deliver to fellow agents in enemy territory.  I had a gun, made from a carved wooden stock with a piece of pipe for a barrel.  I carried out my missions, barely escaping T.H.R.U.S.H.

I loved Illya Kuryakin.  I loved  The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

They watched me.    I pinned their pictures to the walls of my bedroom because they made me happy.  They watched over me from there.  From the walls of my room.  They saw everything that happened in that room.  Everything.

I grew up in a small town outside a small city.   We…my dysfunctional, abusive family and I…would often go to that small city to shop and eat on the afternoon before The Man From U.N.C.L.E. would air.  I would go on one condition.  One condition only.  That we would be home in time for me to see my show.   My special show; the highlight of my week.

Back in those days, when I was 9, 10, 11, you couldn’t record a t.v. show and watch it later.  That technology didn’t exist.   If you missed it, you missed it.  I couldn’t bear to miss it.  I loved The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  Loved. Them.

The black and white posters watched over me and made me feel a little safer. 

The show was the one positive thing in my life.

I liked it, mostly.  That they watched over me.  Except.

Except when.

When my father tip-toed into my room at night.  Breathing heavily. When he abused me.  Sexually abused me.  While they were watching.

I was so ashamed.  So ashamed.

I wanted to marry David McCallum.  I was disappointed when I found out he was married.  But I was 10.  I was 11.  That’s the way it is when you are a kid.  Reality is relative.  Reality can be hidden in fantasy and they can easily intertwine.  Especially when reality is too painful.  When you’re a kid.  When the truth can’t be faced.

Most recently he’s called “Ducky.”  He is so old.  As am I, though he is even older.  It was a long time ago.  A long, long time ago.  I can’t believe how long ago it was. But even now, I remember.

I still like him.  In spite of the fact he saw the ugly things; the shameful things.  He saw my father abuse me., hanging there on my wall with his open, staring eyes .  He watched it all.  All of the abuse; the sexual abuse.  He saw.  Everything.

The posters all watched, unblinking ,while it happened. The posters I bought with my allowance and hung with care.  They saw.

I was so ashamed, as time passed, I couldn’t look them in the eye.  Because I knew they knew my terrible secret.  I knew they could see.  They could see him do those sick and awful things to me.

I felt as if it was all my fault.  All my fault.  Somehow.

The shame was overwhelming.  It was so overwhelming, I escaped.  Into nothingness.  I turned over and retreated into darkness.  I faded into a place of total numbness and emptiness.  I couldn’t bear the shame.

I didn’t want them to see; my heroes.  I hated it that they saw my nakedness.  It was too much, knowing they were watching and that they could see him penetrate me.  And so, I blotted out the room and their faces.  I blotted out the universe.

I didn’t want him, my father, to do those things to me.  I begged him.  Begged him not to.  But he did them anyway.  He didn’t hear my pleas, nor did he consider the pain in my voice.  He didn’t know the posters of my heroes witnessed the abuse.  He hid in the night and thought no one knew. He thought no one was watching.

But they saw everything.

I still have good feelings about that show.  I still have a soft place in my heart for Illyan Kuryakin.  For David McCallum. 

I still feel the shame of the abuse.  The sexual abuse that destroyed my soul.  My father was the perpetrator.    And they saw.  They watched.  They knew the truth.  The Man From U.N.C.L.E. agents knew the truth.

Silent witnesses. 

They’re doing a remake of the show.

Wish I could remake my life.

And change what they saw.  Change what was.  Change what happened.

But reality can’t be changed.  It can be disguised.  But it can’t be changed.

In the end, my heroes couldn’t save me.  They could only observe in silence in the middle of the night as the one who should be protecting me raped and  abused me.  They could defeat T.H.R.U.S.H., but they couldn’t deter my father’s lust.

I wish they hadn’t seen.

But if someone had to see, I’m glad it was them.  My heroes.  Heroes who will always have a special place in my heart.  Heroes who watched a little girl being destroyed.

I like to think they wept as they watched.  I like to think they wanted to protect me.  That’s what they did.  The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  They saved the world.  They would have saved me if they could have. 

But they were only posters tacked to my wall. In the end, they were as powerless as I was.  There’s only so much posters, even posters of heroes, can do.

 

 

Hair

When I was younger, I had the most incredible hair.

I didn’t have much going for me.   Who am I kidding…I didn’t really have ANYTHING going for me.  I was overweight.  Totally uncool.  I wasn’t pretty.  I wasn’t popular.  I wasn’t the kind of person anyone would ever want to be.  I didn’t have a bubbly, warm personality.  I was so shy, I was invisible.  I was different. Odd.  An outcast.

Robin Singing 1979 fbBut I had incredible hair.  Really incredible hair. (That’s me with the guitar.  When I was a lot younger.)

It was thick.  Long.  To my waist.  Glossy.  The kind of hair that made others envious.  It was a really lovely color of ash blonde.  Straight.  Beautiful.  Thick.  I got comments about my hair everywhere I went.  Restaurants.  School.  Work.  Stores. 

It was a standout feature.  My only standout feature.

Because otherwise, I was plain.  Fat.  Dumpy. Not at all desirable.

When you are nothing, having one feature that makes you special is something to hold on to.  It’s something that sets you apart.  It’s something that makes you okay in a very small way, even when everything else about you puts you in the plain, worthless and unwanted category.

When you’re nothing, you take what you can get.  And you’re thankful for whatever little scrap comes your way.

I was nothing, except for my hair.  It was all I had.  It was the only thing that made me a real person.

Well into my 40’s my hair was the one thing that caused me to be noticed.  It was the one thing for which I received compliments.  It was the only reason I was pretty at all.  I cut it shorter, though I kept it mid-back in length.  I colored it, permed it, stopped perming it but continued to color it, layered it.  Trying to fit in.  But  regardless of what I did, it was still thick, shiny and beautiful.

It was the only thing that made me okay.

I don’t know what happened.  But something did.  Age.  Weakened immune system. ED.  Stress.  Extreme distress.  Isolation.  It took a toll.  On my hair. Thinning.  Darkening.  Texture change.  Graying.  My one asset disintegrated.  Evaporated.  It seemed to happen overnight.  I noticed it when my hair became frizzy and wavy.  Then it started falling out in handfuls.  Then it lost it’s beautiful gloss. Suddenly, the only thing I had ever had going for me was gone.

Gone.  As if it never was.

Which is why it’s so hard now.  Now that my hair is not…special.  Now that nothing about me is special.  Now that nothing about me is notable.  Now that nothing likely ever will be.

My hair is thin.  It’s brittle.  It’s short.  Well, short by my standards.  Below shoulder length, but not long; not long like I want it to be.  And I have a lot of gray.  Gray that I color every few months.  To try to appear a little younger. A little more vibrant.  The texture has changed, and not in a good way. It’s coarse.  I battle split ends.  I take vitamins and use shampoo to promote growth and health, but my hair continues to fall out at an alarming rate.  By the handful.

Suddenly, it’s not special in even one small way.  I’m not special in even one small way.

I know.  I was never really special.  But my hair was.  Once.  It wasn’t just normal; it was extraordinary.  It made me appear acceptable, even when I wasn’t.  Now, I can’t even pretend to be human.  I can’t pretend to not be completely abnormal.  I can only hope I don’t go bald.  And become even more of a freak than I am already.

I can’t hide behind my hair anymore.  And it can no longer hide me.  Or make me acceptable.

In fact, instead of gaining ground, I seem to be losing.  Losing ground.  Losing hair.

When will it end?  Will it end?

I used to have great hair…