Tag Archives: sexual abuse

Sacrifice

She thanks me for
the sacrifice
I made
so she could live her life
uninterrupted
by the truth
by consequences
or by pain
she’s grateful
that I kept it quiet
and that I do not
blame
her
or my father

It’s redemption
that she seeks –
she longs to know
they did not fail
and I turned out okay;
at least the parts that show
so they could not
have done too badly
after all
and surely
no one does the job
of parenting
the way they thought they would
surely
no one does it
any better

She claims
she’s always loved me
always will
and she prays
the love she has for me
will fill
the cracks
and wounds
unintentionally
inflicted

It’s in the past
she’s quick to state
where it should stay
but surely God
will use it
to bring good about
of that promise
there’s no doubt
so I should cast
my cares on Him
and let it go
these long ago
dark secrets
and get on with life
I did the right thing
when I made
the sacrifice

Yet –

something in
her rhetoric
disturbs me
in some deep
unsettling way
hard to identify
not visible
to the naked eye
it touches something
buried in my mind

What kind of love
thinks of itself
first
using a child
their own child
to fill their needs
or worse
taking
abusing
never noticing
the devastating blows
it is releasing
the devastating
wounds
it is inflicting

The damage
not intended
surely doesn’t count
against them
does it
I could not
hold it
against them –

and while I don’t
while I have worked
long
to forgive them
still I am a prisoner
of their sordid
ugly
“needs”
twisted desires
rejection and neglect
for I am
yet tangled
in the tentacles
of their abhorrent deeds
done in darkness

This “sacrifice”
she claims I made
was just a child
doing what she had to
to survive
their crushing abuse
a vain attempt
to try
to stay
alive

And even now she cannot see
in truth
they’re the ones
who sacrificed
me

 

 

The Invisible

We walk beside you.  Work with you.  Go to the same class you attend.  Watch the same shows.  Cheer for the same teams.  Drive the same roads.  But you don’t see us.  Don’t notice us.  We are the invisible.

The abused.  Trying to blend in.  To look and act “normal.” To deflect attention. To be noticed is to be scrutinized and judged.  Rejected.  Mocked.  Because no matter how hard we try to be normal, we are different.  We have seen, experienced and felt things that we weren’t designed to see or experience.  We aren’t equipped to handle the gut-ripping emotions; the overwhelming and intense pain of the soul.  Fractured, we become the walking wounded.  One of those pathetic, disturbing creatures who should surely be avoided at all costs.

We try to fit in.  We laugh when you laugh, hoping you won’t notice that it took us a split second longer to react.  The computer in our brain is always analyzing as it seeks to produce the correct response. To find the proper words.  The correct facial expression for the occasion.

If we are good actors, you will never notice us beyond a passing glance.  We won’t stand out.  We will remain invisible.

The old.  We’ve nothing to flaunt.  We can’t shake our head of shiny, thick hair in the sun to demand attention because we no longer have a lush mane.  Our shorts are longer so as to hide skin that has lost elasticity.  Our tops have sleeves to camouflage our flaccid arms.  Parts of us resemble a Sharpei.  Mid-drift tops are shunned and low necklines have long ago been abandoned.  We may still wear fashionable clothing and have a spring in our step.  But your eye will not be drawn to firm buns or toned calves because we don’t possess them.  In fact, it is likely your eye won’t be drawn to us at all.

We move through the grocery store unnoticed.  At best, we do our shopping without leaving a trace of ourselves behind.  At our worst, we are sometimes in the way.  A pest.  Quickly assessed and then disregarded.

The un-pretty.  We don’t fit the proper mold.  Our features are not perfectly symmetrical.  Our eyes may be too close together or too far apart.  They aren’t blue and our hair isn’t full and blonde.  Our legs are too short.  Our feet too big. Our smiles crooked or too generous.  Our ankles too fat.  Our thighs rub together and our stomach protrudes.  We turn heads…in the other direction.  No one smiles when they see us coming.  If they notice us at all, they look away, avert their eyes, find someone more pleasing to watch until we have passed by.  Someone who is impressive.  Who is worthy of adulation.

The abused who are also older and who don’t meet…and likely never have met…our societal standards for pretty – well, it’s a triple whammy.

Silent.  Invisible.  Here and gone without leaving a ripple behind.  We don’t even imprint on your retina.

I’m sure there are others who feel this way.  Refugees.  The poor.  Who can’t afford a cool car or trendy clothing.  The obese.  The unintelligent.  Those who never had an opportunity to go to college.  There is an army of marginalized members of society lurking in the peripheral vision of the masses.  Those who failed the test because of factors that were and that remain far beyond their control.

The invisible sea of individuals who don’t measure up.  Who are odd.  Who have no hope of acceptance because of how they look, what has been done to them and a pathetic lack of resources.

I am adrift in this sea.

I am one of the abused.  Badly abused.  Rejected.  I am older.  Old by the standards of youth.  I have never been one of the beautiful people.

Not only has the outside of me failed to measure up, no one has been able to find beauty in my soul.  Or in my heart.  No one has been able to accept me for who I am.  My warts are somehow far, far worse than those of most others.  My flaws too horrible.  So, I go through my day without acceptance.  Without touch.  Mostly without notice.  Without anyone to care or to assure me the difficulties and hurts I’ve encountered will somehow work out.  That I can and will get through them.  In reality, they probably won’t work out and I’ll only get through them if I can find the strength within me to keep walking in spite of the agony.

You don’t see me, but that slight breeze you felt on your cheek may have been the air I stirred as I walked past you.

We are the invisible.  Imperfect creatures.  Broken.  Not as successful as is expected or required.  Certainly, not as glamorous or physically pleasing.  Our deficiencies are often hard to mask.  And so, people block us from their mind and gush over the more perfect among us instead.  Worshiping youth.  And “hotness.”

It’s actually not too terrible…not be recognized as being a person or of having value.  I’m certainly left alone.  And though no one speaks to me beyond what is necessary, though they cut me off in line and seem surprised to see me standing behind them if I have the courage to speak up, for the most part, life’s transactions can be conducted in the shadows with a certain amount of efficiency.  And without too much hassle.

There was a time when I wanted someone to see me because I prayed there was someone special in the world who would love and accept me despite my flaws and brokenness.  I have learned.  Reality has replaced fantasy.  And reality is empty of most everything, though it is filled to overflowing with isolation.

Now, I am content if people don’t bump into me and knock me down.  If they don’t cut me off.  If they lower their eyes as I walk by.  I am content when no one is hurting me.  No, not content.  But grateful.  Grateful no further damage has been done.  That I have returned safely home.  Have made it through the day without additional wounds and scars.

There is something to be said for being left alone.  There are worse things than being invisible.  I am trying to find the good in it.  Or to at least ignore the bad.

I’m trying to embrace invisibility.  To hold it close, even as I have always longed to be held.

 

The Tree Remembers

There is much truth in the African proverb, “The ax forgets. The tree remembers.”

 

The ax forgot, if he ever acknowledged, the impact of his hands upon my prepubescent body, probing forbidden places; private, sacred places that fathers should never touch on their daughters.  Not in that way.  Not with lust dripping from his penis.  Lust that caused his voice to tremble, his breath to be short and quick, his hands to move with cold deliberation, his eyes to watch greedily.  The ax 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.  The ax forgot, if he ever considered her at all, 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 to the floor.  His memory only lasted as long as the marks, 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.  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 ax forgot what it meant when she averted her eyes, refusing to see, as that same timid child was being sexually used 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.  To this day, she remembers.  Yes, I remember.

The tree is forever altered.  Laid to waste.  Barely able, if able at all, to remain standing.  The tree no longer flourishes.  No longer lives.  All of its energy and lifeblood is spent attempting to heal the ghastly, horrific 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 and 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, the tree is deformed, stunted, 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, 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.

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.  All that came before.  It’s over.  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.  It will never be what it was meant to be.  The ax doesn’t understand why the tree won’t “get over it.”  Why it doesn’t simply go on. But the tree doesn’t know how.  It doesn’t have that kind of magic in its limbs.

The ax forgets.  The tree remembers.  It longs to forget.  But it can’t.  It remembers everything.  In pieces and fragments, like watching a movie, with memories fading in and out of the darkness, but it remembers. 

Oh, how the tree wishes it could forget.

Ghost of Christmas Past

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
For some.
For others, it’s a lonely, painful time.   A haunted time.
It’s a time of unfulfilled expectations.  Of laughter that never reaches your heart.  Happiness that never makes it to your soul.  Because it’s supposed to be a time of families and close friends getting together, celebrating, sharing love, magic, joy.  Perhaps for a lot of people, that’s what happens.  But for many of us, it’s just another empty, disappointing day.  One that feels even more empty than normal because it’s supposed to be full.
 And then, there is the dark side.
I have a memory from when I was a young child.  It’s Christmas break.  My father was a teacher, so he was home with my brother and me.  It was a few days before Christmas and it had snowed…a big, deep, delightful (when you’re a child) snow that turned the world into a wonderland.  My father was born and raised in Michigan.  It snowed a lot there.  And while this wasn’t a major snow by Michigan standards, it was pretty significant for Missouri.  The snow was thigh deep in the shallowest of places.  It was almost waist deep in the drifts.  My brother and I could barely contain ourselves, we were so excited.  We bundled up and rushed outside to enjoy the miracle.
 My father didn’t often play with us.  But even he seemed enchanted by the beautiful snow that shrouded the world in clean, frigid white, like icing on a cake.  Being from a state where snow in the winter was an everyday affair, he knew lots of outside winter games.  He asked us if we knew how to play fox and geese.  We both shook our heads no, shivering with anticipation as well as with the cold.  And so the fun began! He instructed us to clear a big circular path in the snow in an open area of our yard.  We kicked and dug and packed and tramped, working up a sweat.  Once the circle was complete, he had us make an “x” path through the circle, dividing it into 4 equal quadrants. 
 He was the fox first.  We were the geese being chased around and through the pathways we had created in the snow.  The goal of the fox was to catch a goose.  Once tagged, the goose would then become the fox. We ran for our lives!  Laughing.  Falling.  Laughing some more.  It was so much fun!  We played until we were soaking wet and freezing cold and totally exhausted.  Then we all tumbled back into the house to change into dry clothes and warm our runny noses, red ears, and stiff, numb fingers and toes.
 This is where the memory changes for me.  This is where the darkness made itself known.
I was in my room, having just opened the drawer to my dresser.  I was trying to decide what sweater I wanted to wear.  As I poked through the 4 or 5 sweaters I owned, I was startled when the door to my room opened and closed.  My father entered and he was acting strangely.  Playful daddy had turned into what I later came to know and label as “sick daddy.”  He sucked the air out of the room as he entered, breathing heavily.  Quivering with anticipation.  I was enveloped by an overwhelming sense of dread that I didn’t understand.
 “Let me make you warm,” he said quietly but firmly in his new odd voice.
He removed my clothes as I hopelessly pleaded with him.  Begged him not to.  Kissing, fondling, groping, invading me.  And when he was finished, he said, “There, now isn’t that better?  Don’t you feel warm now?  Get dressed and come on out to the kitchen.  I’ll make us all some hot chocolate.”
And he was gone.
I remember standing in my room, unable to move for a time.  Then picking up my discarded clothes and placing them in a pile.  I dressed quickly.  Quietly.  I felt numb.  Frozen by ice that was colder than the snow that covered the ground.  Once dressed, I picked up my wet things to put them in the laundry and cast a glance back into the room before walking out the door.  I wanted to make sure everything was in order.  But what I most remember…vividly remember…is seeing myself still there in my room, hopelessly broken, barely breathing, laying on the floor.  I remember leaving that shattered little girl behind.  I left her there, a pile of gore and broken bones, shattered spirit and heart, where my wet clothes had been laying, hideously destroyed, fractured beyond recognition.  She wasn’t able to walk out of that room.  She wasn’t capable of facing the monster that waited down the hall with hot chocolate and marshmallows.  She couldn’t pick herself up and go on; couldn’t stop screaming.  She was in a million pieces and I left her there to fend for herself, half angry with her for leaving me, for making me go out into the ugly world alone.  I saw her body, ripped, torn, decimated.  And instead of rushing to her side and comforting her, I turned away.  I walked out of the room.  Closed the door.  And joined my brother and father as we sipped steaming mugs of freshly made cocoa.  As if nothing had happened.  As if nothing had changed.
Why do I remember this particular memory so clearly; so vividly?  It wasn’t the first time my father sexually abused me.  Nor was it the last.  It wasn’t one of the worst memories I have.  Certainly there are far more horrible memories of perverted things he did to me. So why is this one day, this one event, etched so deeply and perfectly in my mind?  Why can I still see it as if it happened only yesterday?
Several things seem pertinent.  For one thing, when my father started sexually abusing me, I was probably around 4 or 5 years old.  The memories I have of that time are shrouded in fantasy.  I didn’t have the maturity to understand what was happening.  I didn’t like it.  It scared me.  It felt wrong.  But I didn’t have the ability to grasp or process what he was doing.  Because of this, I created a fantasy world and escaped into it.  As an older child, this was becoming more difficult to execute.  And I believe I had finally reached an age and a point of understanding where it was no longer possible to ignore, warp, or wrap what he was doing to me in a make-believe world. Secondly, having come to an age where I could no longer deny or shroud in fantasy what my father was doing to me, I shattered. Completely shattered.  I believe the memory I have is of the day, the moment in time, when that horrible shattering took place.  So even though what he did to me that day was not the vilest thing my father would ever do, it was a significant moment in time because of the internal impact.  It was the moment he utterly obliterated my soul.
I didn’t stop loving Christmas.  Though I hate snow.  But Christmas was never a carefree or magical time for me afterwards.  I was always looking over my shoulder.  Waiting for everything to morph into that other unspeakable reality.  It was never again wonderful.  There was a hidden razor’s edge, cutting into my deepest and most vulnerable parts and places.  There was always pain mixed with the happiness.  Fear mixed with the laughter.  Terror mixed in with the carols that were sung.  And I stopped expecting it to be special.  Because everything that was special had been taken away from me.
Guarded, posing in front of the Christmas tree at age 12.
Me in front of the Christmas tree at age 12.
Magic no longer existed.  The lights were not as bright, the ornaments weren’t as shiny.  A hideous monster hid behind the bows and colorful paper that covered the gifts under the tree.  I knew the monster.  The monster watched me, waiting, pouncing, taking.  Christmas that year was when I finally understood what he was.  And then, I closed the lid of the brightly wrapped box in which he hid and smiled, carried on, acting as if everything was as it seemed.
He is long dead now, this ghost of Christmas past.  But he haunts me still.

Two Worlds

There are two worlds.  Two worlds that exist side by side here on this planet that revolves endlessly around the sun as it hurtles through space.  A planet that is but a pinpoint of light in a deep and endless darkness.  A galaxy filled with light year after light year of eternal night.

This is where our lives play out.  On this speck of a planet surrounded by a deep airless void.

Two worlds.

One where love is.

One where love is not.

Two worlds.  They exist side-by-side.  But they’re worlds apart. Touching shoulders with each other.  As different as night is from day.  Neighbors.  But not friendly neighbors.  Distant cousins who have never met.  Who don’t want to meet.

I come from the 2nd world.  The really dark one.

In my house, on the side of the street where I grew up, there was a lot of yelling, hitting, anger, pain and rejection.  There were so many expectations, I couldn’t keep up with them.  Fix my parent’s life.  Fix my parents.  Make all A’s.  Be popular.  Be silent.  Don’t cause trouble.  Have blonde hair.  Be cute and petite.  Don’t be a bother.  Don’t ask for anything.  Don’t need.  Do the dishes.  And homework.  Keep the secrets.  The many secrets our house held.  The secrets the curtains cloaked, shielded and guarded.  Don’t tell.  Don’t call attention to yourself.  Act normal.  Do what you’re told.  Make everyone happy.  Make everyone feel better.  Make the hard stuff go away.  Solve all my mother’s problems.  Be her confidant.  Affirm her.  Take care of my little brother.  Shut up.  Smile.  Don’t ask questions.  Don’t stir anything up.

An endless list.  Nothing was ever removed from the list.  Much was added…often daily.  Much was expected without being spoken or defined.

In my world, the world where love wasn’t, acceptance was never achieved.  If I made all A’s, I should have made A+’s.  If I got all the housework done and done well, it was never good enough.  I was  always at fault and deficient.  Because I was defective.  I was a failure.  Flaws could easily be thrown in my face.  And of course, I couldn’t solve their problems, fix their lives or make them feel better.  Nor could I make the darkness go away.  Instead, the darkness swallowed me whole.  And refused to spit me out.

I was fat, ash blonde and getting darker by the minute.  I wasn’t popular or petite.  I didn’t have answers.

I saw the kids who came from and lived in the other world.  I saw them daily at school.  They were foreign to me.  I couldn’t begin to imagine all of the ways in which we were different, but we were very, very different.  They were better.  I was inferior.  I was worthless.

They laughed without restraint.  They had confidence.  A voice.  They mattered.  They were special.  Wanted.  Worth caring for.

I was not.

I did keep the secrets.  That’s one thing I did extremely well.  One area where I exceeded expectations.  The people from the other world never suspected what I endured behind the closed and locked doors of my parent’s house.

Abuse.  Constant.  Abuse.

Where there is abuse, love is absent.  And there was always abuse.  There wasn’t much, if any, love.

They told me they loved me.  Then hit me.  Slapped me.  Knocked me down.

They told me they loved me.  Then demeaned and used me.

They told me they loved me.  Then rejected me.

They told me they loved me.  Then ignored me.

They told me they loved me.  Then neglected me.

They told me they loved me.  Then my loving father sexually abused me.  Raped me.

They told me they loved me.  Then detailed all the many different ways I disappointed them.  How I let them down.

In my world, winning was no more of an option than was being loved.

Two worlds.  Worlds apart.  Vastly different.  Day and night.

My world lacked air.  Warmth.  Light.  The laughter that existed was forced, guarded, cautious.  Required.  No belly laughs.  No joy.  Not even a little sliver of happiness.

Lots of caution.  Silence.  Darkness.  Cold.  Anger.  Disappointment.  Fear.  Anguish.  No one to turn to and no safe harbor.  Danger lurked.  Lunged.  Ripped me to pieces with razor sharp claws.

There was no escape.

I endured.  Survived.

When I left home at the age of 17, I tried to leave that shadow world behind.  But growing up there had damaged me on a cellular level.  There was no leaving it.  I left the slaps, but not the rejection.  I left the sexual abuse, but not the lack of love.  I left the darkness, but the darkness grew inside of me.  It stunted me.  Left me broken and empty.

Two worlds.  I drew the low card.  The short straw.  I came from the wrong one.  I could see the other world, but I couldn’t touch it.  It is and has remained forever out of my reach.

Two worlds.

One where love is.

One where love is not.

My world is the one where love is not.

I Am One of the Old Folks Now

I feel as if I walked a long road from one end to the other, and as I was walking, someone held the ends together.  I stepped from a time far past and distant into this moment today.  Back then, before I crossed the fold, I was one of the younger generation.  Back then, I had years in my pocket and dreams in my heart.

I am one of the old folks now.  My pockets are almost empty.

I remember that past, that past so distant, the one I lived before I took my final step across the fold.  I remember how it felt to live in that world, to have that mindset, to possess time.  I remember it so clearly, so vividly.  I feel it in every particle of my body and deep within my bones.  I remember almost nothing in-between.   I fact, I often wonder if I, like Rumpelstiltskin, slept through those between years, waking old and confused and dreamless.

Back then, my grandparents were the old folks.  At some point, they handed the baton to my parents and they stepped out of the fabric of this world, through the veil and into the next dimension.  I vaguely remember my parents becoming the old folks.  But I am still unsure when most of the generation before me departed or how I came to wear and walk in their shoes.  I don’t recall the moment when the baton became mine.

I believe it has something to do with the way I have survived.  “Let me get through this, and then, then I’ll start living…”  I have hunkered down, braced, shielded myself with mighty walls I built to protect me.  I have guarded my innermost being as I walked through each minute, each week, each month, each year, hoping only to get through what that minute, week, month or year held.  Hoping only to get to the other side mostly in one piece.  But the joke is on me.  There is no other side.  There is only the end.

There is also no such thing as surviving in one piece.  Mostly or otherwise.

How strange it is that I feel that young girl intimately close to me now.  Now that she is so very far away from who I am today.  So far in the distant past.  Yet I feel her breath on my neck.  Her nimble limbs that could run fast and strong stir mine now stiff and weary .  I can almost touch her hope for the future.  A future where abuse would be a distant memory and love would become a reality.  She walks with me, reminding me of all that has been lost.  All that never came to pass.  All that has fallen to the ground in shattered pieces and perished in the dust.  I feel her, but I am not her any longer.  I remember her, but I do not resemble her.  I am one of the old folks now.  My time has come and gone.

Were I given the chance to go back, to become  that young girl once again, I would do a million things differently.  I would not stay with those who told me I had no worth.  With those who hit, rejected, used and abused me.  Those who judged me and found me lacking.  I would not cast my vision toward some distant future where everything would finally be set right and where everything would be set right in the end.  Where happiness supposedly waited.  Instead, I would grasp each second, grasp it with both hands, and milk it for every thought, experience and emotion it held.  I would not stop my eyes from crying or my heart from feeling pain.  Because in numbing the pain and drying the tears, I also stifled the laughter and choked the joy.  I would live the now.  The good and the bad of it.  And I would not seek only to get through to the other side.  I would not so easily be tricked into frittering my hours away with only the goal of surviving.  I would not trade living for existing.  Nor would I walk across the folded ground between then and now to spare myself everything I hoped to avoid between youth and aging.

I look back at this point with the same longing I once had when I was always looking forward.    I look back with such longing because there is so little left ahead.  I am one of the old folks now.  All that is left for me to do is to pass the baton and step over the next wrinkle.  Into that place where time is no more.  Where the old folks go after they reach the end of the road.  Pockets empty and turned inside out.

Silence Speaks

place-of-silenceSilence speaks to me.  It whispers softly in my ear, a faint, cool draft.  A breath that can barely be felt or perceived.  An inadequate breeze that offers no relief.  Like moonlight on the lawn.  Almost light.  But it dissipates and disintegrates, then evaporates the moment you look in its direction.

Almost sound.  But not.

Silence speaks with a voice that can barely be heard above the noise of life.  It is there, always, behind the scenes, in the background,  hovering around the edges.  It holds me at night.  It wraps me in ghostly arms that offer no comfort.  Cold arms.   Shrouding me like a thick blanket, smothering me.  But this blanket offers no warmth or tenderness.  There is no comfort in the hollow, echoing emptiness of its grip.

Silence speaks.  Bounces off the walls.  Deafening.

It follows me everywhere.  Haunts me.  Ever nipping away at what little is left of my world.  It hammers me.  Colors my view.  Beats on my eardrums until I can barely stand it.  Silence shouts with an empty, hollow voice.

Silence speaks in a language that is unlike any other.  It is a language I have heard so often, I have begun to understand it, reluctant listener that I am.  It envelopes me.  I feel it in my bones.  I taste it in my mouth.  No shower can wash the residue away.  It permeates my pores.

Silence stalks me.  I sense it watching.  Waiting.  And sometimes, when I least expect it, silence comes.  Up close and personal.  Heavy.  Unyielding.  I could go mad in the deafening quiet of its presence.

I spend far too much time in the presence of silence.  Far too much time in isolation.  I am numbed by the exposure to its frosty quiet.  It accompanies me everywhere.  Walking beside me, even while I sit in a crowded room.  It dulls all other sound, there, in the midst of the clamor and conversation that surrounds me, but of which I am not a part.

It is my companion in the middle of the night, when sound is dampened and while darkness is complete.

Silence speaks.  It tells me I do not belong anywhere or to anyone.   I sit alone, watching families, friends, lovers gather, laughing together, talking happily, kissing, touching.  I am an outcast, silence reminds me.  And as I sit on the fringes, it finds me, dogs me, taunts me.

It comes in the winter when days are short, nights are long and the cold is relentless.  It follows me during solitary walks.  Sits with me during lonely meals.  It fills empty rooms.  It joins me as I lay down in my vacant bed, longing to be held and wanted by something other than overpowering quiet.  It rides with me as I drive the busy expressway on my way to work; my car is an island surrounded by people who have full and meaningful lives.  It even sits in my office at work, reminding me that I’m different.  That I do not truly fit.  That I am not a part of the social hubbub of the work environment.

I am forever and always an island, no matter where I am or what I am doing.  I remain separate.  Disconnected.

Silence fills my heart and overwhelms my soul.  It is the white noise of my world.

Silence sits and watches, toying with me.  It draws strength from my pain, feeds on my agony.  It is my constant, distant, numbing companion.  Taints all it touches.  Certainly taints me.  I am drawn ever downward into the whirlpool of despair that it creates in the hearts of its victims.  For silence goes beyond solitude or simply being alone.  It is unrelenting loneliness.   A disturbing dimension that is both unsettling and destructive.  Solitude is temporary; it can be healthy.  Silence is the dark fiber of the life I live and it lives in every cell, every thought, every broken dream, every empty night.  It is emptiness.  Nothingness.  And it is endless.  Its massive doses provide no nurture, no hope, no light, no joy.  It eats away at all that is good and life-giving.  It thrives on our emptiness.  And I, surrounded by its cold vacuum, offer it a feast from which to partake.

Silence speaks.  Weighs me down.  Drains me.  It buffers all attempts to connect with life; with others.  For within me, where silence sits, it whispers to my soul that I have no value.  I am just as empty as the silence that poisons me.  It has stolen all I held dear, all that ever mattered and numbed me to my bones.

Silence keeps me bound.  Alone, insulated and unable to reach out to find meaningful companionship or friendship.  It whispers, always whispers.  “If they knew who you REALLY are, they would not stay.”  “If they knew how broken you are, they would run from you in disbelief and horror.”  “If they knew your history, they would walk away from you and never look back.”  “But I am here.  I will not leave you.”

Silence is my enemy.  My only companion.  We have a sick relationship, but it is my only lasting relationship.  Silence holds me tightly.  This is the only hug offered to me, painful and chilling though it is.   This is the only touch my cheek receives.  And its kiss upon my hungry lips is the only kiss that is given me.

Silence speaks.    I am ever so weary of listening to its voice.


The “Daddy Did Me” Club

I am a member of the “Daddy Did Me” club.  Not a proud member.  Not at all.  This is not the kind of club you want to join or about which you are happy for having earned membership.  It’s the secret club to end all secret clubs.  For it harbors a dirty secret.  It is a dirty club.

Members, you see, have all been introduced to sex by their fathers.  Learned at his penis instead of his knee.  Swallowed the ejaculation of the man whose sperm brought them into being.  Had his sperm swim inside of them.  He, the man who was supposed to protect them from such things, was their first.  Taking their virginity, often before they even knew what virginity was.  Not content with the kind of sex men usually crave, these fathers prey on their own children, performing despicable and unnatural sexual acts with them, against their will.  Because, you see, they are too young to have a will.  To give consent.  Too young to understand.  Too young to process the pain and shame.

I used to think I was the only one, back when I was a kid.  When “it” was happening to me.  But then, I learned.  The truth.  It was shocking to realize there was actually a word in the dictionary for what he was doing to me.  A word that seemed far too benign for something so horrible.  “Incest.”  Doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, considering it’s akin to getting cut into a million little pieces with a hand saw, then trampled into the dirt.

It never felt right.  What he did.  Though he told me he was “teaching me” for my own good, his words never felt genuine or truthful.  There was too much lust and evil dripping from his naked body.  His breathing wasn’t natural.  Nor were his desires.  I begged him to stop.  Pleaded with him.  But a father in the grip of his twisted, licentious, perverted desires didn’t care about natural.  Natural, if he ever embraced it, was years ago and many prior evolutions before my birth.

And so, I became a member of the “Daddy Did Me” club when I was but a preschooler.  That dark and covert club no one would willingly admit actually existed.  The initiation shattered me.

How many little girls will be whisk into this hideous underground club where they are utterly destroyed before we stop the madness and depravity?  Before we challenge those who hide beneath the cover of darkness and who wield intimidation like a bomb?  Who put themselves before all others.  Who use their penis like a sword, taking what they want, destroying the innocent.  When will the decent people take a stand for the victim, encouraging them to come out of the nightmare where they have lived for far too many years, ushering them into the light, freeing them from their prison of shame and secrets?  There have been too many victims.  Too many broken souls.  Too many destroyed lives.

Isn’t it time to finally plant our feet in the dirt, to expose the perversion of the sick men who play in the shadows, who eat the heart of their own child to satisfy their tainted cravings?  Isn’t it time to end the shame and blame we have placed at the feet of these innocent children?  Isn’t it time to finally say “no more.”  No.  More.

Ricochet

Ricochet  ric-o-chet
Noun:  A shot or hit that rebounds one or more times off a surface.  (The action or movement of a bullet, shell, or other projectile when rebounding off a surface.)
Verb:  Rebound one or more times off a surface.  (A bullet ricocheted off a nearby wall.)

 

Crazy thing about all that abuse when I was a kid so many years ago.  The gun was loaded.  The bullet fired.  Head shot.  And one point blank to the heart for good measure.  But the damage didn’t stop there.  Those bullets ricocheted around inside of me for decades, causing more and more damage.  Until the abuse that happened years before took an irreversible toll, leaving me brain dead.  And my heart, what remains of it, lifeless and numb.  Destroyed.

Did a number on me, as they say.  Ricocheting all over the place the way bullets do.  The shots fired by my parent’s abuse changed me.  Forever.

As such, the bullets that ricocheted off the wall of my head and heart during my childhood were massively destructive.  They bounced from one thought to another, laying waste to any particle of a healthy ability to see myself through eyes of acceptance.  Or to have the ability to find any worth within me, if there was any to be found.  They tore through me, shredding my heart and leaving me in unbearable pain.  Pain I could not process.  The backlash was ugly.  Healing was limited.  Diagnosis: impairment permanent.  The numbness felt like relief when it finally enveloped me.  Until it became my normal state of being.

I didn’t know at the time what was taking place inside of me.  I didn’t realize I was forever being altered by the shots that reverberated through every piece of me, slicing me to bits as I fought to hold myself together.  Fought to keep walking.  To keep going, in spite of my deadly, mortal wounds.

When you’re a child, the walls of your heart and mind are pretty weak.  Ricocheting bullets created bloody holes, weakening any protective layers I’d managed to devise before they bounced again, ripping through tissue, personality, thought processes and emotions.

In spite of the mortal wounds, no one could tell from the outside how damaged I was within.  The blood I bled was not visible to the naked eye.  No one knew the secrets I kept and how much those secrets were hurting me.  No one could see the impact of the ricocheting bullets that tore through my soul again and again.

Now, things other people can do…they’re really hard for me.  Things like taking showers.  I have to close my eyes and curl up my toes just to step in a bathtub.  Because the feel of that wet porcelain takes me right back to when I was a kid.  My dad soaping me all up before he slipped his penis in me. Or rubbed it all over me.  Made me dirty, in spite of all that soap.  The kind of dirty you can’t wash off.

Even eating is hard.  More damage from the ricochet.  I’ve struggled with eating disorders and food almost my entire life.  And I’ve had them all. Binge eating disorder.  Anorexia.  Anorexia bulimia.  Food and I, we’re all mixed up.  A total mess.  Don’t know why, but the simple act of properly nourishing myself is not permitted.

A simple thing, like talking to people, is fraught with danger.  Especially people with power.  Seems the fear of people and authority figures in particular makes it really difficult for me to feel comfortable enough to simply be. To quietly exist. I always have to prove myself.  Work harder.  Longer.  Do more.  Provide more return on investment.  And even then, I can never let my guard down.  Because those people, the normal ones who rule the world, quickly discover I’m worthless. An object to be used.  Abused.

That’s what my parents taught me.  When they fired the kill shots.

Those steel bullets that pierced my heart and sliced my brain all to bits just keep bouncing around inside of me.  Tearing more flesh.  Ripping fresh holes.  Keeping the old ones open and bleeding.  Time hasn’t taken the bounce out of them.  If anything, their dance has become more frenzied with time.

I feel the bullets still bouncing around inside of me.  I try to catch them in my hand.  To stop them.

They ricochet off my fingers as I vainly attempt to grasp them, slicing through my soul yet again.  Undeterred.  Doing what bullets do.  Still ripping me to shreds.

 

Death on the Breeze

winter-comesFall is coming.  Death is in the air.  You can feel it when the wind howls through the tree branches.  Smell it on the breeze.  Mold.  The scent of decay.  Leaves have already started to drop from some of the trees, even though a few late blooming flowers still provide nectar for the hard-working bees.  Birds congregate.  Talking in excited squawks and squeals about their upcoming journey south.   It rains more frequently, as if the sky is crying tears while mourning what is lost and grieving what lies ahead.  The earth seems to sigh in sadness and with great regret.

It’s cool enough most nights to need a sweater.  And the high temperatures of the day do not rise anymore into an unpleasant range.  Sweat is a thing of the past.

The days are already significantly shorter.  Darkness consumes the light earlier with every revolution of the sun.  And gives it back later.  Optimism fades in the waning sunlight.  Suddenly, light is in short supply and we are all the worse for it.

Headlights (those that aren’t automatically turned on and off for us) are again in use each morning.  Extinguished later, at times when they would have been unneeded but days before.  Indoor fixtures are required earlier each evening. They provide our only illumination during darkening times.  In this season, we never have enough light by which to see.  No matter how many lamps we switch on or bulbs we install, the night presses in from all sides.  Presses heavily and persistently.

When one is in the spring or summer of their life, while there is a dislike for the infringing darkness, there is also knowledge that the season can’t fully penetrate the soul.   The cold may be hard to bear, but when one is young, when there is so much ahead and so little behind, the temporary inconvenience of fall and winter are not an unbearably heavy burden.  Life will go on.  The flowers will bloom again.  Trees will bud and leaves will unfurl once more.  There will come a point when the light again overcomes the darkness and the sun will warm our face and bones.

But when this season of impending darkness is also the season of our life, the season where we currently reside, it is not so easy to forgive or endure.  Hope does not flow within us like a mighty river at this frightening stage.  It’s more like a fragile spring that can easily run dry if not continually nurtured and diligently protected.  The lack of light echoes our lack of time.  It is a constant reminder our own brief moment is quickly fading.  Running out.  At some point, we will slip into the deep darkness of an unending winter, never to awake.

The world will continue; spring, summer, fall, winter.  Season after season.  But at some point, our eyes will not see it.  Our bones will not feel the warmth of life returning.  The sun will no longer bring a smile to our face or hope to our heart.  We will become a part of the night.  And leave this place behind.

Wherever and whatever lies ahead exists in some other dimension beyond our earthly comprehension or imagination.

My prayer is this new reality will not be one in which we suffer and carry agony within us that can’t be shed or resolved.  My prayer is that it will be a place of sunshine and unending summer.  A place without seasons.  Where darkness has been banished, our tears have already been cried, our broken hearts have miraculously been mended, our wrinkled bodies have been astonishingly restored, made strong and perfect.  Oh, how I pray it will be a gentle place.  A place where all my beloved dogs, those who have slipped away before me and the two who sleep on my lap now, will be waiting for me with wiggles that can’t be contained as they jump for joy at the sight of me.

I have no hope left for this world.  I’m perched on the edge of a long, trying winter and winter holds little good, nor brings many joyful moments.  What I worked for in this place where I’ve existed for more years than I can grasp, will never be realized.  I fought the darkness, but the darkness won.

My only hope now is that death will never come to call on a breeze in that new dimension.  I hope I will never smell its smell again.  I pray eternity will be far sweeter, kinder and gentler than this world has ever been.  And that once the leap is made from time to timelessness, all the burdens, brokenness, hopelessness, hurt and darkness will finally be left far behind.  Forever past.  That the sun will always burn in a beautiful blue sky.  That the breezes will always be gentle and filled with light and life.  That the flowers will never go dormant.  And that the dark of night, anguish and death will be a vague, fading memory.  One that tickles my mind, but that I can’t quite recall.  No matter how hard I try.