Tag Archives: ashamed


Darkness is everywhere.  It comes in many forms.  Hides in plain sight.

Sometimes it is most extreme in the middle of a bright, sunny day.  When it is felt more than viewed with the eye.  Sometimes it is most profound in the middle of a cold, lonely night.  It creeps in during a too-quiet morning.  When a person responds harshly, in anger, in selfishness.  It comes on a stressful, chaotic afternoon.   On a rainy day.  Slinking in with the  setting of the sun.  The rising of the moon.  On the first rays of the morning.

Turning on the lights will not banish it.  Nor will smiling when in pain, ignoring it or willing yourself to disregard the overwhelming fear, loneliness and anguish that envelopes you.

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 all locks, seeps beneath every defense.  When darkness targets you, nothing can save you.  It won’t rest until it has you by the throat, strangling you with long, cold, persistent fingers.

It wants to destroy you.  To imprison you.  To enslave you.

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

It plants its seed deep in your soul.  The seed sprouts forth engulfing pain.  Anguish.  Terror.  Emptiness.  This unholy garden grows in the soul until it splinters you.  Then, it effortlessly harvests your hope and leaves you without a single spark of life in your eyes.

Darkness comes when least expected.  During a wedding.  In the middle of a church service.  At a Christmas party.  During a family reunion.  While you’re reading a book.  Taking a walk.  Shopping.  Suddenly it comes, out of nowhere, taking you by surprise, dragging you under the cold water, drowning you.  It sucks all the joy out of your world.  Your soul.  Tainting everything it touches.  Pulling you ever downward. Suffocating you.  Until you are ruined.

Sometimes it comes when you are a child, during an innocent afternoon spent with your father, your protector, the man you adore.  It comes.  It belittles and mocks you.  Breaks you. Until it finally destroys you.  Darkness reaches toward you with the father’s deviate hand when 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.  Gloats in its victory.

It takes you.  Has its way with you.  There is no escape.  And once you have been infected, impregnated, there is no cure.

Darkness comes when the man you love with all of your heart, the man you gave your life to, tells you he doesn’t love you.  And throws you away.  When he tells you that you are so much less than everyone else.  That you are inadequate, defective, disgusting.  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 filthy shame while nothingness swallows you whole.

Light cannot penetrate this darkness.  Hope cannot endure it.

Darkness comes.  It destroys you; your life.  It steals away everything that matters.  Everything that was good about you.  Everything wonderful that might have been. It steals.  It destroys.  It takes.  It demands.  And it snickers with delight and triumph as it watches you wither away.  As you are consumed by numbness and emptiness. As you are utterly decimated.  Beyond redemption or restoration.

It rejoices while you are devoured by the dark seeds with which it impregnated you.

Wisdom cannot defeat it.  Nor can willpower.  Or logic.  Self-talk. Or fact.  Only love can overcome this kind of debauched, consuming, evil darkness.

But love can’t find you, cloaked as you are in shame, broken and decimated, hidden by the night.  And if love never finds you, you are doomed to dwell in that unbearable darkness forever.

And so, the years pass.  Your lifeblood flows from you, droplet after droplet.  The droplets form a river, an ocean.  Flowing and flowing.  Until time runs out.

Darkness comes; stealthy and persistent.  It comes.  There is no escape.  And it will never let you go.




I have always been the “big” girl.  I’ve played that role, though against my will, for most of my life.  I’ve been the biggest of my classmates, my church friends, my coworkers, my (ex) husband’s friends wives.  I was always the person others observed while exhibiting an expression of disbelief and horror.  As if I had leprosy.  Or worse.  They rejected me for my outer wrappings.  And had pity for my ex.

I was the freak.  The one who didn’t fit in.  Because I was big.  And that made me ugly.  Unworthy.  Disgusting.

The first time someone told me I was fat, I was 7 years old.  They told me I couldn’t be the princess.  Princesses were little and pretty.  Dainty.  Adorable.  They weren’t big.  They weren’t a fatty.  Like me.

Big girls never get the prince.

I hadn’t considered my size.  Not until that day.  I still remember where I was.  In my grandparent’s driveway.  Riding my bike around in circles as we haggled for a star role in our pretend game.  And when they told me I was too big to be the princess, unacceptable to play the role of the fair maiden the prince would rescue and fall in love with, I rode away with tears running down my cheeks.  Hidden away in a quiet place, I thought about what they said.  I started to compare myself to them.  And I realized they were right.  I was bigger, taller, looked older. There was nothing spindly or fragile about me.   I was not petite, girlish or cute.  Certainly not worthy of being rescued or loved.

By the time I graduated from high school, I was well on my way to being seriously overweight.   My band uniform pants were the largest size they made for junior girls.  Even my feet and hands were big.  And though I was no longer the tallest in my class, what I lacked in height, I made up for in bulk.   If anyone saw me at all, they quickly turned away.  To talk to the cute, popular girls.  The girls who were a size 3.  The princesses.

My parents told me I would be such a pretty girl, if only I would lose weight.  My great hair was my only redeeming feature.  And your hair can only buy you so much acceptability, even with your parents.

When you’re the big girl, you’re nothing at all.  And nothing can compensate for your repulsiveness.

I went on a diet for the first time before I started Junior High.  And my life has been one long diet ever since.  An endless battle, shunning the foods I enjoy and eating salads without dressing instead.  Of eating very little, yet still gaining weight.  Of watching others devour in one meal at least three times the amount of food I consume in a day…but they were still princesses because they never got big.  I ate only one healthy meal a day and still packed on the pounds.  Denied and starved myself only to be transformed into the wicked witch.

When you’re overweight, people don’t believe you when you tell them you don’t eat that much.  They think you’re lying.  They smirk and assume you eat in secret; eat massive amounts of fattening foods behind closed doors.  But it’s not true.  If only they would be forced to exist on the quantity of food I consume!  Then they would understand.  Wishful thinking.  Where is karma when you need it?

I have only been princess-sized twice.

In my late twenties, I began to strictly control what I ate because I couldn’t control anything else in my world.  I started walking.  Then running.  And then, I was running 13+ miles a day.  I weighed and measured my food, counted every calorie, refused to eat unless it was at times I deemed to be acceptable and only allowed myself small quantities of food, none of which was enjoyable.  I even counted calories in the gum I chewed.

Miraculously, I lost weight.  When I hit 90 pounds,  I started to feel really good about myself.  For the first time ever, I wasn’t a big girl.  I didn’t have to be ashamed because I took up too much space.

But it only lasted 6 years.  I broke my hip in two places, the result of the strain from all the exercise.  Turns out, I didn’t have big bones.  Turns out, my bones were on the small side.  You could see them pretty clearly at 86 pounds, the lowest weight I reached as an adult.  And I loved to look at those bones.  Because it meant I could be the princess.  It meant I wasn’t a big girl.  Nor an abomination.

I had never heard of anorexia.   Wasn’t until much later that I learned about eating disorders.  Took even longer before I realized I just might have had one.  One that abandoned me when I needed it the most.  For after I was forced to stop running, I started to gain weight.

I got bigger and bigger and bigger.  No matter how little I ate, how much I walked, the pounds accumulated.   I hated myself.  Was buried under layer after layer of shame and self-loathing.

My ex was ashamed of me too.  After years of living with his rejection, disgust and shaming, he finally decided to do some running himself.  He left me for someone younger, blonde and much, much thinner.

The switch suddenly flipped again a few years after he dumped me.  But this time, I learned a new trick.  I ate like a lumberjack, but threw up everything I ate.  Sometimes 5, 6, 10 times a day.  And I lost the weight; it all but melted off.  This time, I was older.  My body wasn’t as resilient.  I began to have some major physical problems about the time I hit 92 pounds.  Problems like not being able to stand up or walk without falling over. Crazy cramps from potassium depletion.  Irregular heartbeat.  Unable to control my muscles.

I slowly realized how dangerous my new friend could be.  It took a while because I hadn’t had any physical problems “before,” during my first encounter with anorexia.  But I didn’t care.  I downed electrolyte enhanced drinks, ate teaspoonfuls of salt and kept losing.  Staggering along the treacherous precipice while attempting not to fall off.

Just as suddenly, after 10 blissful years of freedom, the switch flipped again.  And when it flipped, I gained.  My greatest fear became reality.   I was nothing but a big girl in disguise.  And I was being unmasked in spite of starving myself.  Can’t fight who you are.  Can’t hide it forever.

The ugly, worthless, disgusting big girl revealed herself once more.  The despicable, stupid, piece of crap fatty began to take control.

But I can’t.  I don’t have the strength to keep fighting.  I simply can’t.  I can’t be THAT girl ever again.  The girl who is too big to be the princess.  The girl who is repulsive to the prince.  The 7 year old on the bike, rejected and teased for her size.  The big girl.  I can’t. I can’t live in that body.  I have reached the end of my ability to deal.  I can’t go back to that place. I can’t go back to being that person.

I won’t.

If I can’t be small enough to be the princess, I would rather die.


Child of Pain

The world that I was born into was a dark and lonely place.  I figured it out pretty early.  My life wasn’t like that of other kids.  My parents weren’t like their parents.  The things that happened behind closed, locked doors, out of sight of those my parents sought to fool and impress, were very unlike those experienced by most other children.


I was a child of pain.


The very first thing my eyes were able to see, blurry though the image might have been, were the faces of my parents.  The people who created me, so to speak.  They claimed they wanted me.  But these people who struggled to name me, who never really adjusted to having me, who were supposed to love and protect me, introduced me to a hostile, chaotic, dark world.  A planet where pain ruled and thrived.


Pain claimed me at birth and never let me go.


It became a way of life for me and it wore my canyons deep.  When I awoke, it greeted me.  And it held me as I would weep.  As my life went on, it became my song.  It was all I knew.  It was the way I grew.  It penetrated my bones and as my soul grew numb and cold, it wrote on my heart of stone. Marked me forever.


From the womb that bore me, that grew, ripped and tore me, to the abuse, the out-of-control screaming and hitting, the demands and expectations that I could never meet or fulfill, through all the ugly and despicable things I endured, I became pain.  Pain became me.


There was no safe place of laughter, no nurturing, no dinner conversations about my dreams…or my day.  My world was lists of chores, front and back, 30 items or more long that were supposed to be completed every evening before my parents got home.  It was straight A’s, or else, smiling on demand, keeping my mouth shut, and hiding from their violent outbursts whenever I could see them coming.  I didn’t laugh together with my parents or act silly and have fun with them.  Instead, I learned about secrets and how to keep them.  I learned about monsters who hide in plain sight, who wore masks of respectability, but who snuck into my room at night to rape and abuse me.  I learned about double standards, surviving the darkness and nightmares all alone, keeping my head down, and trying to do as many of those chores on the never-ending lists my mother made for me without complaint.  But nothing I was or did was good enough.


I learned slapping leaves a big red welt, but it fades pretty quickly.  I learned that you can be knocked across the room with one punch, but you can still get up, go to your room and do your homework.  I learned that being alone, totally and utterly alone, was crushing, but being with people who trampled and molested you was even worse.   I learned about the power of words to cut you to your core.  To leave you bleeding and deeply wounded.  I learned about pain.  Pain provided the only air I was allowed to breathe; to take into my lungs.  It was the blood that flowed through my veins.  It was my skin.  And my eyes.  For everywhere I looked, pain was there, waiting to take me down.


I stumbled through endless days, trying to avoid land mines.  Trying to stay alive…physically and emotionally.  I succeeded to a degree.  I physically endured.  But my body was the only part of me that made it out alive.


Child of pain.  It ate my soul and devoured my heart.  It permeated every fiber of my existence.


Fate spun her web made of poisoned thread.  I have a multitude of scars to show for it.


Once you are wounded and marked, once you have been saturated by pain, it doesn’t go away when finally you physically escape your abusers.  Abusers who gave you life, then sucked it right back out of you.  It stays with you.  Sometimes forever.  Once a child of pain, always a child of pain.  The scars don’t fade easily, if at all.  Pain enjoys torturing and destroying. Playing with you.   It finds you wherever you go, delighting in the chase.  There is no escape.


Some things cannot be repaired.  Some wounds can never be fully healed.  Some pain is so deep, you drown in it.  You are absorbed into it.  It changes you.  And once you know pain this intimately, you are joined with it forever until you become one with the agony and anguish.


Born into pain.  Living with the shame, sorrow and heartache, trying to build a life in spite of massive damage and debilitating brokenness.  Living with the emotional encumbrance, longing for escape, until death ultimately marks you, claims you and carries you away.


Child of pain.  Until death do us part.



I am a pawn on a chess board.

The game is heated, complex and heavy, for there is much at stake. I have no idea what is going on. I don’t know which direction to move. Or if I should move at all.  I am but a pawn. A lowly pawn.  Expendable.

I do know my place. 

I am apprehensive.   I fear the other players.  They have confidence and authority.  They know how to play the game and move with purpose.  They have options.  I have none.  I am lost, confused and afraid.

I didn’t expect to be the queen.  But I certainly didn’t want to be a nobody pawn.  I would have liked to be a rook or a bishop. A knight, perhaps. Maybe if I were of greater importance, someone who had more strength, power and value, I would have a small chance of winning.  Perhaps if I knew the meaning, the reasoning behind each move, I could survive the competition. But as it is, powerful people are vigorously playing the game with great intensity and focus.  They are waltzing all about me while I stand motionless on my tile, fearing their next move, waiting to be eliminated.  And crushed.

I am of no consequence.

Others flourish, make daring exchanges, taking opponent’s pieces as they move onward triumphantly.  They lunge forward with purpose and conviction.  Some easily gain important ground.  The queen, the powerful, mighty queen, flaunts her authority, tossing irrelevant players from the board.  Caring not.  She is the queen, after all.  How dare lesser men defy her!  How dare they try to restrict and defeat her!  Or block her. God help me if I find myself in her way.  She will sacrifice me without a thought.  Barely noticing my demise, should she in any way register my defeat and sudden death. She is all about the plan.  And winning.  I am nothing to her.  Nothing.

I am nothing to anyone.

Players move in predictable patterns, but in ways and at times that can’t be predicted.  I am frozen on my small square, watching them stride with assurance and composure.  They know where they are going.  They understand their purpose.  They demonstrate self-confidence, strength, and power.  They understand the game and know how to play it.  They play well.

I pray they do not see me.  I am fairly certain they are the predators and I am their prey.

They only want to use me.

While they travel precisely about the board, their movements a dance of daring, authority, and certainty, I stumble, stagnate, and stall.  It is only a matter of moments until I will be taken completely out of the game.  I, who have no power.  I, who can offer nothing worthwhile.  Who is of no significance.  I have no meaning.  I add nothing.  I exist to be sacrificed.

I look up to them.  They look down on me.  They push me around and brush me aside.  They determine how to best position me to their advantage.

This is my life.  Complex.  Frightening.  Intimidating.  Overwhelming.  Terrifying.  I am powerless and unneeded.  Unwanted.   I do not know the rules.  I do not have the moves.  I am not able to take the leaps they take.  Not even when they manipulate me into a corner.  Not even when my life depends on it.

Pawns always lose.  I am a good pawn.  I lose often.


The Ax Forgets

“The ax forgets. The tree remembers.” African Proverb

The ax.  Cutting.  Destructive.  Powerful.

The ax forgot, if he ever acknowledged, the impact of his hands upon my prepubescent body, probing forbidden places.  Touching private, sacred places that fathers should never touch on their daughters.  Never.

The ax stands and cuts, with lust dripping from his penis.  Lust that coursed through him, caused his voice to tremble, his breath to come short, jagged and quick, his hands to move with cold deliberation, his eyes to watch greedily.  Hungrily.

The ax conveniently forgot, if he ever recognized, what it did to that daughter when he forced his hard, swollen penis inside of her as the pain split her apart.  When he came on her, covering her with his sticky goo.  When he came in her mouth, shooting his seed down her throat, causing her to gag uncontrollably.

The ax forgot, if he ever considered her at all.  He forgot how it destroyed her when he made her strip and dance before him or forced her into the shower with him.  The ax forgot how it hurt when he hit her. When he knocked her across the room or threw her to the floor.  His memory only lasted as long as he stood in the moment.  Only until he got what he wanted from her.  It lasted only as long as the marks he made upon her body, if that long.

The ax forgets.  But the tree remembers.  To this day, she remembers.

I remember.

The ax forgot the pain of her slaps on her daughter’s face and the humiliation of her angry, cutting, degrading words.  The fear of being dragged by the hair as that mother raged and ranted and told her how badly she failed to live up to expectations.  The ax forgot how cutting her words of rejection and disappointment were to the ears of her eager child; the child who longed to please her, who wanted to be accepted and held and wanted.  The child who sought her love.  The ax forgot what it meant when she averted her eyes, refusing to see, as that same timid child was being sexually used, abused by her husband.  When the daughter looked to her for help, but found only denial, demands and dismissal.  The ax forgot.  But the tree remembers.  Though the tree kept the secret, she remembers.

To this day, she remembers.   I remember.

The tree is forever altered.  Deeply damaged.  Laid to waste.  Barely able, if able at all, to remain standing.  The tree no longer flourishes.  No longer lives and breathes.  All of its energy and lifeblood is spent attempting to heal the ghastly, horrific, oozing wounds that resulted from the ax as it hacked deep into her soul.  The tree longs to forget.  Longs to overcome.  Longs to be whole again. But the wounds of the ax have done the unspeakable.  Those injuries are unbearable, horrifying, atrocious.  The ax has forgotten.  The ax moves on. The tree cannot forget.  Because the tree is not what it was before and it will never be what it would have been had it not been so dreadfully wounded by the vile ax.

The ax will go on to wound again and again in many abominable and staggering ways.  Over time, the scars in the bark of the tree are so many, it is permanently deformed, stunted, hacked apart.  Disgusting.  The tree cannot forget because the tree cannot escape the effects of the ghastly blows.

The tree tries to survive. Gone are the dreams of thriving.  Of providing shade for the birds and shelter for the squirrels.  The broken, now wretched tree is ruined.  Injured beyond repair.  The ax forgets.  But the tree, the tree cannot forget no matter how hard she tries.  She lives with the brokenness.  She carries the stink of her defilement.  She cannot leave it behind her because it is woven into every cell and memory.

It is who she has become.

So profound.  The ax doesn’t have to live with the damage it created.  Its steps are not hindered by the crippling blows it meted out.  By all that came before.  It’s over and never thought of again.  Everything…all of it.  In the past.  But the tree cannot escape the damage.  It cannot leave the destruction in the shadows of yesterday.  It has been shattered and dismembered.  Misused.  It will never be what it was meant to be.  The ax doesn’t understand why the tree doesn’t “get over it.”  Why it doesn’t simply go on. But the tree can’t undo what has been done or change who the ax has made it.  It doesn’t have that kind of magic in its lacerated limbs.

The ax forgets.  The tree remembers.  It longs to forget.  But it can’t.  It remembers everything.  In pieces and slivers, like watching old, damaged film, memories fading in and out of the darkness.  But it remembers.

It remembers, though it tries to go on as if nothing happened.  How the tree wishes it could forget.


In spite of the massive spiderwebs of scars splashed across her face, you could still tell she had been exceptionally beautiful.  Now, misshapen bones formed bulges in inappropriate places.  Even the thickest foundation couldn’t cover the mass of crisscrossed red lines where skin had been sliced to the bone.  Multiple surgeries had pieced her back together as best as they could, successfully returning her appearance to something less hideous than Frankenstein.  But they left her far from her previous beauty queen status.  And though the wreck was her fault, she was angry over the damage.   The unfairness of it.

Years ago, she drank too much, then drove.  She and her little sister in her new Corvette, T-top open, unrestrained by seatbelts.  Typical youth; fearing nothing.  She was driving ridiculously fast, over 100, when she lost control in the sharp S-curve.  Went over the embankment.  Her sister was thrown from her seat and the car rolled over her, killing her instantly.  Beauty queen went through the windshield, then the trees, brambles and rocks, shredding her face and much of her body while breaking almost every bone.  Much later, when she regained consciousness in the hospital, she had no memory of the wild drive or the accident.  They had to tell her she had killed her sister the night she destroyed her face.

Years later, she is still furious over her lost beauty.  Lost supremacy.  Her looks now represent everything that’s wrong with her life.  Before the “accident,” she knew who she was.  Beautiful.  In control.  Powerful. Triumphant.  Confident.  People worshiped her.  Wanted to be close to her inner circle. Wanted to be her!  She was a daughter, sister, graduate about to head to college, life at her feet, waiting to step into a perfect future.  She knew where she was going.  She knew who she was.  She knew how to use her smile.

Now, she is nothing of who she was.  She is nothing like the worry-free “before” person.  And she hates everyone who looks at her, then quickly looks away.  Their glances speak of her losses.

Or perhaps she is the one who cannot bear to look.  Perhaps she is the one who turns away…before anyone else has the opportunity.

The young never believe bad things will happen until they do.  They aren’t wired to believe life will let them down.  Bad happens to others.  To those who are flawed, unlucky and lacking.  Bad doesn’t happen to ruling beauty queens who are adored and worshiped by the world.

Yet, her scars are visible for all to see.  Her tragedy is written on her face.  Plainly telling the story.

I am also scarred.  But mine don’t show in lines across my face.  They are just as red and ragged, but instead, they mar my heart.  My soul.  I have been changed by the wreck that occurred in my childhood every bit as much as the beauty queen was changed by the wreck she had that dark night when she missed the curve and crashed in a ravine.  People seeing her feel sorry for her.  They understand her anger and her loss.  But they do not understand my pain or brokenness.  Because the scars aren’t visible.  They are not physical, so are not an acceptable excuse for my shattered state.

Interestingly, because her story is written across her face with bold red lines and unnatural lumps where once were smooth surfaces, no one dares expect her to put her horrid past behind her.  She wears her tragedy.  It has become part of who she is today.  It is accepted.

But since they cannot see my scars, hidden away deep in my traumatized soul, I am not extended the same courtesy.  My scars are every bit as much a part of me today as are those caused by her night of terror.  That one night that changed her world.  Yet they do not provide an adequate explanation.

My childhood nights were filled with nightmares that couldn’t be escaped.  They did not happen once, but a hundred times, over and over again.  I couldn’t flee the wreckage of twisted metal and begin to heal.  I went off into the ravine night after night after night.  I was broken and ravished and used and tossed into the dirt and stones time and time again.  Healing wasn’t an option.  Yet, I am supposed to get up, dust myself off and walk away as if nothing ever happened.

She is trying to find herself again.  She, the ex-beauty queen.  She had a certain impact, left a certain fantasy in her wake as she walked the halls of her high school.  She knew how to get what she wanted.  And she misses catching her lovely reflection in the glass as she passes windows and mirrors.  She lost her magic wand.  The person she is inside doesn’t know how to respond without her fancy outer wrapping.  So, she wears anger and rejection like a blanket, layering on the foundation, as she struggles to adjust to her new reality.  It is understood.  She has lost much.

But I too have lost.  Much.  Everything.  The world where I lived before is gone.  My childhood, vanished.  My innocence, stolen.  My trust, broken.  My heart, shattered…more shattered than her once-lovely face.  I have died, yet not been reborn.  I was not provided with any restorative surgery.   I’ve not healed.  My pain has not even been acknowledged.   I am the walking dead.  No one will accept my wounds because no one sees them.  I hide them away, fully knowing they are horrifying.  Fully understanding I am to keep them covered beneath layers of smiles and empty, placating words.

We both cover our scars and hide away in shame.  Alone behind the mask.


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…