Tag Archives: stress

Brain Damage

I waited a very long time to get help.  This was partially because it took me forever to get to a point in life where I could afford professional therapy.  It was certainly delayed by the pressure  my (then) husband used to avoid involvement, unpleasantness or difficulty.  He told I needed to act “normal” and “keep it to yourself” because he didn’t want to be bothered with the darkness and brokenness inside of me.  It was also somewhat attributable to the heavy sense of shame I carried within me.  Shame for being defective and dirty.  For being repulsive and unsightly by simply being.  Because I wasn’t like everyone else.  And since I was working 10 or 11 hours a day as I tried to prove my worth to various employers, it was also partially due to exhaustion and an inability to make time for myself.

I learned early I was undeserving of space, care and acceptance.  Abuse, particularly when you’re a child, drives that point deep.

In truth, I didn’t make a serious, “all in” attempt at healing until a few months after my father died.  Suddenly, it felt as though the time had come to deal with the festering wounds I continually attempted to hide beneath layers and layers of makeup and masks.

At the time, I didn’t realize there was any need to rush.  I didn’t understand healing might not be attainable if the wounds were left unattended for a long period.  I didn’t know coping mechanisms, shattered perceptions of worth and self were being cemented more permanently into place as I aged.  I thought healing would happen “someday” when the stars aligned and someone finally valued me.  I certainly didn’t know my brain might actually be working against me as I slogged through all the ruin.

Did you know that child sexual abuse actually causes brain damage?

I didn’t hear about the results of this body of research or its implications until I was years into the healing journey.  I was in weekly “talk therapy” sessions with a gifted psychologist, giving the process everything I had to give.  I journaled, prayed, attended workshops, went through a few abuse and sex abuse recovery groups, completed 2 different yearlong Celebrate Recovery groups and allowed a couple of different psychiatrists to experiment on me by prescribing every different antidepressant on the market in various combinations and in ever higher dosages. Nothing worked.

The most frustrating part for me was expending so much effort when I had little energy to spare, yet it changed nothing, in spite of all I put into it.  In spite of the time and money spent.  I became dejected  and deeply dismayed, occasionally shedding a few tears because of the lack of progress or results.  I knew I wasn’t a stupid person, so why couldn’t I grasp the information I was being given and bring it to life in my soul?  Why wasn’t I being transformed?

I’ve always felt damaged.  Like I’m faking it, hoping to someday make it.  But it never occurred to me my brain was the part of me that had probably sustained the most damage because of my abusive childhood.

I was told by my counselor that I needed to reprogram my thought processes.  I tried.  For years.  But I slowly began to realize, what I needed was more encompassing than this.  In actuality, the sexual abuse, in particular, overwhelmed and fried the circuitry in my brain.  What I need is not to be reprogramed.  I can load new thoughts all day long and run them through my head again and again, but it’s never going to make a difference if the program can’t run properly.  And it can’t.  Because the problem isn’t so much the program as it is the wiring.  It’s been incinerated.   Nothing is going to process and transmit the way it should with smoldering, shattered and scorched wiring.

It was a small relief to learn I wasn’t a failure for failing to reprogram my thinking.  Though hard to believe and comprehend, I started to glimpse the real problem.  It was deeper than poorly written and executed programming.  I had experienced a circuitry overload that burned my brain, creating a philological barrier, changing how I process data and interpret experiences.  The two hemispheres of my brain aren’t as integrated as the brains of people who haven’t gone through the trauma I survived as a child.  Perhaps this is due to an engulfing need to compartmentalize and isolate.  Or maybe it’s simply the way brain development is affected by continual trauma, abuse and intense stress during childhood.  Regardless, I have begun to realize I’m not merely fighting old, wrong programming.  I’m fighting a brain that has been singed, seared and annihilated by severe, horrific child abuse.  It’s no longer capable of making the connections I’ve long tried to make as I’ve sought to be healed.

Trauma is biologically encoded in the brain in a variety of ways. Considerable and often negative changes in structures like the hippocampus, and the coordination and integration of neural network functioning have been identified. The nervous systems of children who are abused runs on a constant high because of the continual anticipation of further danger. There are documented alterations in cortisol production in children with histories of abuse and neglect. And this state of chronic ‘hyper-arousal’ persists throughout adulthood, so even when the abuse and violence has ceased and the environment is “safe,” adults who experienced childhood abuse perceive the threat to be present; their fear is maintained and becomes pathological.

The brain is so damaged, it begins to dismantle us.

The experiences of childhood abuse cause changes that are reflected in physiological, psychological and interpersonal experiences.  Adaptation to trauma, especially early in life, becomes a “state of mind, brain, and body” around which subsequent experience organizes. Research has even documented significant changes on a genetic level.  Every function of mind, body, heart, soul, emotions, logic and even cell structure is altered by the abuse experienced in childhood.

The brain governs everything.  And when the brain is damaged, certain functions become impossible.

When I say I was forever changed by the abuse I survived during childhood, or explain that my path was eternally altered, I’m not speaking metaphorically.  The damage is comprehensive, large-scale and wide-ranging.

Who I was and who I was meant to be was obliterated before I entered grade school.  That destruction changed every fiber of my being and shaped me into someone far different than the person I was created to be and become.  My life and an ability to truly live and enjoy life was massacred by abuse.  My brain has been extensively damaged on a physical, as well as mental and emotional level, just as surely as if I had experienced a horrendous car crash that fractured my skull, leaving me barely alive and unbearably traumatized.

Brains don’t bounce back.  Once damaged, the consequences will be noted in various aspects, both minor and momentous.  The entire personality is altered.  Health, both emotional and physical, is compromised as various bodily and cognitive functions are short-circuited.  This is the gift my parents gave to me.  This is what I have been fighting against and attempting to overcome.

No wonder I am weary.  No wonder the results have been limited and the path too difficult to traverse.  No wonder I feel as if I’m damaged goods.   A failure.  My heart knows, even if my brain can no longer comprehend the extend of the mutilation.

My wiring has been short-circuited.  I’m trying to change what has already been radically, fatally altered.  I’m attempting to transform myself into a normal, healthy person, but I am not normal and my health has been broadly compromised.  My brain has been unspeakably damaged.  And it’s quite likely healing isn’t a reasonable expectation or probable outcome.


All The Tears I Never Cried

Psalm 56:8  New Living Translation (NLT)

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

The message is clear; touching.  We have heard it repeated and expressed in many different ways.  Through songs, blogs, stories and in inspirational articles.  In sermons and poems. God has our tears.  Every tear we’ve ever cried.  Not a single one is lost.  Not a single one went unnoticed.  He collected them each one.  He recorded them in His book.  God is moved by our weeping.

But what about all the tears never cried?

All those tears I was never able to release.  All the pain still held behind my eyes.

Most of my tears haven’t been cried.  My eyes have stayed disturbingly and resolutely dry.  The dam I built when but a child remains strong.  No water is released, no matter how great the need for relief.  No matter how much the pressure behind it.

It wasn’t safe to let them flow freely; not when I was a preschooler.  Nor when I was in junior high. Not when married to the man who rejected me.  Who didn’t love me.  Never loved me.  It wasn’t smart to release them to form rivers that would drip from my cheeks and drop off the tip of my nose.  It wasn’t safe to feel.   I held them in and kept them sealed tightly inside, carefully hidden in the darkest depths of my soul.  Until I forgot how to open the floodgates.

There they remain.  Tears never cried.  Stagnant.

My heart has been in deep pain most of my life.  My journey hasn’t been easy.  It hasn’t had many ups.  But the major blows have been plentiful.  I’ve encountered too many difficult challenges that beat me to a pulp until I was too numb to respond.  Until it was all I could do to get up off the floor.  Take a step.  Then another.  I’ve had abundant reasons to cry and I’ve longed many times to weep uncontrollably.   But showing vulnerability has never been safe.  Feeling such raw emotions has proven to be foolish.  Letting someone see my heart has always been idiotic.  When I slipped and exposed my weakness, the repercussions were many and they were terrible.  So I have swallowed the pain.  And the tears.

They have remained dammed up behind a massive wall of numbness.  Repressed for years and years.  Every blow has caused the wall to be built higher.  Wider.  Stronger.  The ocean of tears to grow deeper.

What about those tears?  The ones I’ve never cried?

Are they of no significance?   Hidden and unexpressed, have they lost their authenticity?  Is unexpressed pain of no importance?  Do only the tears actually released have meaning?  Are they the only ones that count?  The only ones God collects and treasures?

The tears we cry matter. He sees.  Has compassion.  Wipes them away.  Holds each one.  Knows the reason for them; for every single one.  These are the precious tears that are kept in His bottle and recorded in His book.

Are they the only tears God cherishes?

If so…

I have a million uncried tears rotting in my soul and they will never have significance.  They are worthless. The battle I fought to contain them is meaningless.  The struggle I went through to carry them, to prevent them from inconveniently raining down on others, is inconsequential.   I carried them when sharing them would have been easier…if riskier.  I held them back and pasted a smile on my face to survive.  And when surviving became all I knew how to do, the uncried tears multiplied until they were legion.

They are legion still.

But they are not in His bottle.  They are bottled up in my heart, a painful reminder of all I have suffered alone.  Of how my life has left me with nothing more than regrets and toxic memories.

“He knows your name
Every tear you cry
He knows the pain
How you feel alone”

 (Moriah Peters, “No Shame”)

When I do not cry, is He unable to know my pain?  Does He not discern how alone I feel?  How the nights are empty and silent?  And the days are wrapped in rabid isolation?  Does He continue to absent Himself, uncaring of the hurt that rips me apart and stomps me helplessly into the earth where I am ground again to dust?

When I can’t cry, does He not care?  Is He untouched by my tearless brokenness?

I wish I could cry freely and let God collect the tears in His bottle and record them in His book.  I wish I could believe my pain moved Him, whether I managed to shed the tears or remained too afraid to let my guard down; to open my heart.  To be that vulnerable.  Revealing weaknesses through tears is risky.  It can give those who are intent on hurting you a way in to your most tender places.   Places where they can do the most significant amount of damage.  But I cannot cry.  I am imprisoned behind this wall.  I have waited too long to seek release.  The ocean of tears I have held in for a lifetime know the boundaries set for them so long ago and no longer cross the line.

They are contained in my bottle.  A dead sea.

All the tears I have not cried.  That I’ve held inside trying to survive.  That I’ve choked down while they almost choked me.  The only bottle my tears reside in…is the cavern of my heart.  I am drowning in them.  Their salt stings my eyes.  I taste them in my mouth.  But God doesn’t gather them.  He does not hold them in His hand.  There is no comfort to be had.  Only this ocean of sorrow.  Growing larger, deeper, wider with every passing moment.  And I do not know how to swim in the foul waves any more than I know how to weep until this endless sea of tears is finally drained dry.

Watching the Clock

We don’t start watching the clock until we are about…four.

That’s when we figure out it takes a long, long time for Christmas to arrive.  For our next birthday.  By the time we’re six, we realize school lasts forever and summer comes and goes at lightening speed.  Recess is fleeting.  Daylight hours never last long enough.  The alarm clock goes off too early each morning.  Yet we watch the clock.  Waiting.  Always waiting.  For some future event.  For some point in time yet to come.

We can’t wait for the time when we can date.  Drive a car.  For the time we graduate from high school.  Until we can vote.  Drink…legally.

We are a strange race.  We spend our days watching the clock while the moments we should treasure, the life we should cherish and fully experience, those precious moments tick away, always out of reach.  The seconds slip through our fingers.  And as a result, we never truly live.  We’re always waiting.  For something.  We wait and we forget to live.

Oddly, the things we wait for go by so quickly, we can’t seem to grasp or appreciate them.  They are gone before we even realize they have arrived.  Yet, the things we can’t wait to end, that drag on and on and on forever, those things seem to last beyond eternity.  Beyond our ability to endure.

Sadly, the things we look forward to, those things, we can’t slow them down long enough to appreciate them.  We can’t slow them down enough to wrap our arms around them.  The things we want to last forever are gone before we can even focus on them.

It’s like eating oysters on the half shell.  We swallow whole the things we should savor and as a result, never really taste the precious minutes of our existence.

One day, I was a young girl of 15. The next, there was an old woman looking back at me in the mirror, face lined with wrinkles, limbs tired and mind confused.  That old woman barely resembled me…the me that will forever possess my heart.  For you see, the 15 year-old still lives inside of my sagging body.  Life has happened, one tick of the clock at a time.  The moments are gone forever.  The memories are fading, just as my eyesight fades.  Fear causes me to look away.  To deny. To forget the reflection I saw in the mirror…the reflection that surely can’t be mine.

There comes a point where we are waiting for the inevitable.  That moment we must all experience, but that most of us dread. The moment we slip beyond time. When the breath of life leaves our body.  We want to stop the clock, but we can’t.  The ticking is deafening.

When we are young, we can’t even fathom that this moment will arrive.  And then, we age, time begins to slip away and we can’t fathom the moment not arriving.   We know.  It is only a matter of time.  We watch the clock. We can’t help ourselves.  And then, suddenly, the clock tells us that time is running out.

Still, we can’t stop watching.

Sad Movie

I had it all planned out.  The happy ending.  Tears of joy and the final inspirational moment that made everything that came before it worthwhile.  The outcome that made sense out of the suffering.  Yes, my movie started sad.  It started bad.  Maybe it wasn’t the worst beginning, but it wasn’t going to becomes the kind of movie people would want to watch.  Or acknowledge as being real. It was filled with rejection, physical and sexual abuse, anger, fear, terror and pain.

The beginning sucked.  It was a sad beginning.

A sad beginning…that’s one thing.  But a sad ending?


No, the movie has to end well.   Otherwise, it’s not worth watching.  Otherwise, It’s not worth living.  Certainly not worth sharing with anyone.  Certainly something that should remain hidden.  Forever.

Nobody likes a sad movie.  Not even me…

Unfortunately, my movie is sad through and through.  And all attempts I’ve made at writing a Hollywood ending have resulted in failure.

I expected to be able to rewrite my future, thus freeing myself from my past.

I wanted to end up in a different life.  In a life filled with love and acceptance.  A life with connections and meaning.  A life in a warm place by a beach (okay, that was a big stretch, but that’s always been my dream).  A life where I am wanted (even bigger stretch).  Where there is a lot of love and real and deep connections.  Where I can be who I am without hiding, even though I’m imperfect and flawed.

I wanted to end up being a different person.  A person who overcame all the bad beginnings and who transcended the hurt and brokenness.

I wanted the movie of my life to be one that made people stand up and cheer when they reached the final scene, even while the tears rolled down their cheeks.

I wanted the movie of my life to have meaning.  Purpose.  I wanted to leave behind something that would last.

Instead, my movie is and has always been nothing more than a sad, pathetic, depressing movie. A movie that will vanish the moment I die.

There’s no happy ending.  No great love that redeems me and sets me free.  I was broken as a child and I remain broken into old age.  Broken and hopeless.   There isn’t a shred of inspiration to be found.  Only regret and revulsion. Revulsion because I’m not an inspiration.   Not an overcomer. I’m more of a cautionary tale.  “Don’t walk this path.”  “Don’t be this person.”  “Don’t go this direction.”  “Don’t.  Become.  Me.”

I knew my movie would be a drama rather than a comedy or a beautiful romance.  I knew it would involve a depressing amount of sadness.  But I expected there to be a certain amount of romance, redemption and restoration.  Happiness.  Love.

I expected my life to have value.  To be worthwhile.

So, I tried to rewrite the ending to my movie.  I tried to persevere and overcome.  But that Hollywood ending…it never happened.  And now, I think, I fear, it’s too late.

It seems as if the production of my life’s story is doomed to be nothing more than a sad movie.  With a sad, uninspiring ending.  So I will leave nothing of value behind.  I will not accomplish my goal of making the world a better place.  I will not find redemption.  Or healing.  Which is the saddest part of my tale. The saddest part of all.

I’m nothing but a sad movie.


Ghost of Christmas Past

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Or not.
 It’s a lonely time.  It’s a time of unfulfilled expectations.  Of laughter that never reaches your heart.  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.  We 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 intense, 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 rather than 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, which 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.  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 my room and he was acting strangely.  Playful daddy had turned into what I later labeled “sick daddy.”  He sucked the air out of the room as he breathed heavily. I was enveloped by an overwhelming sense of dread.
 “Let me make you warm,” he said quietly but firmly.
 He removed my clothes as I hopelessly 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.”
 I remember picking up my discarded clothes and placing them in a pile.  I dressed quickly.  I felt numb.  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 behind me, hopelessly broken.  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 move; 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 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 was done to me that day was not the vilest thing my father would ever do, it was a highly significant moment in time.  It was the moment I was utterly obliterated.
 I didn’t stop loving Christmas.  Though I hate snow.  But Christmas was never a carefree and 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 dead now, this ghost of Christmas past.  But he haunts me still.

Betrayals of the Heart

Betrayals.  Little betrayals.  Wedges.  Things that make trust impossible.

At least for me.

Many of the betrayals I’ve experienced have been major.  Things like being told I was nothing by the people who said they loved me.  That I wasn’t worth knowing or loving.  Things like abuse.  Sexual.  Physical.  Emotional. Things like infidelity.  Falling in love with another woman (or other women in general) and leaving me because I wasn’t them.  Wasn’t as good as them.  As beautiful as them.  As amazing as them.  As worthy as them.

As normal as them.

It has happened over and over again.  In big ways.  In small ways.  Betrayal has been a frequent occurrence. A repetitive theme.  A painful, repetitive theme.  With people I thought were my friends.  With people I believed to be soul mates. Partners.  Parents. Friends.

Big betrayals.  Small betrayals.  Betrayals that added up.  That made me wary.  And closed.  And broken.

Most recently, a person I have just recently come to trust in a fairly minimal way, a person I have come to feel closer to than anyone I’ve been close to in the last 20 years, betrayed me.  Not in a huge way.  But in a way that reminded me what a fool I am to trust. Anyone.

I thought she was a friend.  Of sorts.  But I’ve come to realize she is only a friend to my face.  Behind my back, she talks about me in less than glowing terms.  She questions my worth.  Behind my back, she is disappointed in me.  And she doesn’t believe I have value.  Not really. 

She is very determined that I will pay my way.  In everything.  In every way.

Which I’m trying to do.  But I can never pay enough.  I can’t buy my way to acceptance.  I can never be good enough.

She is careful when she is with me.  She is careful about what she says to my face.  It is others who tell me of her doubt.  It is others who let me know she has been talking about me and that the things she has been saying are not positive.  That the things she has been saying are actually very negative, rejecting and cutting. That she is disgusted with me.  That she doesn’t feel I’m worthy. 

Of love.  Of acceptance.  Of being valued.  Of knowing.

As betrayals go, hers are small.  But I was enjoying her.  Her company.  A small connection.  The only connection I’ve forged in the last 20 years.  And now…now I must once again guard my heart.  Hide behind walls.  Because she is not really the friend she pretends to be.  She doesn’t really like me.  Or accept me. Or value me.

I want to trust.  I want to be able to relax and know that despite my imperfections, I’m still a person who is worth knowing.  Worth spending time with.  Or maybe even liking.  But that is not reality.

That is not my reality.  Not even close.

What is reality?  Reality is…I’m not normal.  I’m not worth knowing.  I’m not worth spending time with.  I’m not.  Not.  Worth.  Anything.  And reality?  Reality is that I can’t trust.  Anyone.

I’ve got to keep my guard up.

I’ve got to keep the walls high.  Intact.  Strong.

I’ve got to stay disconnected.  From everyone.

Behind my back, she says I’m not doing what I should be doing.   Not fulfilling my obligations.  Not doing the right things.

She’s probably right. 

I’m a failure.  I’m so imperfect, it’s painful.  Disgusting.  I try.  I try very, very hard.  But…

I thought she cared about me in spite of my obvious imperfections.  Those glaring, horrible imperfections.  I thought she accepted me.  But I was wrong. 

I’ve been judged and found lacking.  Again.

Judged and found worthless.  Again.

I shouldn’t have let my guard down.  Not even a little bit.  I should have know better.  But I wanted to believe she was my friend.

I wanted to believe.  I wanted to trust. I wanted to believe someone could like me for who I was, in spite of all my deficiencies.

I was wrong.  To trust.  Again.

I knew better.  I should have known.  Better.  When you’re worthless, you will never be wanted or accepted.  You will never be valued.  Or cared for.

I opened my heart a crack. 





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

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

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

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

It was a standout feature.  My only standout feature.

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

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

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

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

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

It was the only thing that made me okay.

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

Gone.  As if it never was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

When will it end?  Will it end?

I used to have great hair…

Don’t Blink

The days are long.  Endless.  They drag on forever.  Well, unless they are days of the weekend.  Weekend days seem to go a little faster.  But work days?  Normal days?  They drag on so long, sometimes I think I will never get through them.  I long to close my eyes and let the time wash over me without my awareness.    I am weary of counting the seconds and minutes.  Weary of doing so many things I have to, but don’t want to do.

The years, however, oh my!  The years are short.  They whiz by, time spinning like a ceiling fan on high speed.  They march along, month by month, ripping pages from the calendar and leaving them scattered about in my memory.  A year is quickly spent.  Suddenly evaporated.  Then ten.  Twenty.  Where did the time go?  How did so many years escape so rapidly and without notice…until I looked back abruptly to find they were gone without a trace?!?

The days are long.  The clock ticks unhurriedly, second after second after second, painstakingly meandering around the dial.  The minutes accumulate at a snail’s pace.  I feel their weight.  They are a heavy burden, one building upon another.  When I finally lay my head down on my pillow at night, it is with a sigh of relief and a prayer for a better, lighter, less tortured tomorrow.

How is it that seconds seem to pass more slowly than minutes?  That minutes pass more slowly than hours?  That hours pass more slowly than days?  That days pass more slowly than months?  That months pass more slowly than years?  That years pass more slowly than decades?  And that it all flies by in less than the blink of an eye or the beat of a heart.

I am frightened by how sluggish the minutes pass and how dawdling are  the days.  I am terrified by how hastily the years have raced by me leaving me so little time ahead.  At how the decades have passed at super-sonic speed.  I have accumulated far too many decades without ever living a moment of them.

How can a day be so full of things that must be accomplished, but the years so void of progress?

Life is built by minutes that are boulders and decades that are sand.  Boulders that are heavy and hard.  Sand that washes from my hand, instantly wiped away without a trace.  I was a girl of 16 who turned her head but once, only to then find myself suddenly transformed into a woman of 50.  Sand.  All that sand.   I lived the boulders; they were harsh and painful, but nothing came of them.  Or everything came from them; perhaps that is the problem.  I only know, I didn’t get to live the sand.  It was gone before I even knew it had arrived.   Washed back out to sea.

Existing through the tedious minutes. One by one by one.   Trying in vain to hold back the rapidly fleeing years.

The days are long.  The years are short.

Life is but a second long. 

Don’t blink.

Not Going to Make It

I have a fear of being without resources; particularly without financial resources.  No, it’s not just a fear.  I think it actually falls more into the category of absolute abject terror.

I was a sensitive child.  When I was growing up, we didn’t have much money.  Until I was 9 years old, my family of 4 occupied an 8 ft. x 24 ft. prefab trailer that had a couple of small rooms added, built on by my father around the time I turned 6 or 7.  Those rooms didn’t have finished windows (no sills or trim), nor were there any baseboards, pictures, or fancy decorations.  And tar paper covered the outer walls to protect thin, bare wood walls from the weather.  We had one couch to sit on and it was a little couch that was moved from the trailer into the new lean-to living area.  There was one small table that held our old black and white TV.  We made do with very little, my father supplementing our meager grocery budget with the dove, rabbits, quail, squirrels and bass or trout he shot or caught.

I’m not sure why we were so poor.  My father was a teacher, and while teachers don’t make great amounts of money, I was always mystified at our continual lack, even back then.  My mother also worked as a commercial artist until I was 15 years old.  With both of them working, even though they weren’t working in high paying fields, I would have thought we would have had more to live on.

My clothes were homemade, if I was very fortunate.  More often, they were hand-me-downs from my aunt (who was 20 years my senior) or purchased at the Goodwill store.  And back then, Goodwill didn’t offer much. There were no music lessons or other activities that cost money.  If we did it, it had to be free.  My grandparents had a large garden and we ate lots of fruits and vegetables that they grew.  Our trailer was on a concrete pad on the back part of their property, so one would think our modest living arrangement would have allowed us to make ends meet.  Yet, I still remember the financial crisis we faced each month, without fail.

“We aren’t going to make it.”

This was my father’s standard frantic declaration at around the midpoint of the month.  And it sent shards of ice and terror through my heart.

Honestly, I didn’t understand what “not making it” entailed.  I was too young to grasp the full implications.  I just knew it was something akin to the world ending in a massive catastrophe during which all of us would surely die a horrible death…or worse.  It meant no food, no shelter, no warmth, the end of life as we know it, and having no way to survive.

Discussion would ensue.  What could we do to stretch what remained in their bank account to get us through until the end of the month?  Inevitably, my father would announce that he would sell his shotgun.  The shotgun that he used to hunt.  To provide food.  A shotgun he had sacrificed to buy in the first place, for which he professed great love, but that he would forfeit…for us…because it was the only thing standing between us and horrific disaster.

I was only 4 or 5 when I first became aware of this monthly crisis.  I would have nightmares night after night as a result of our frightening dilemma.  I didn’t want my father to have to sell his gun, but neither did I want us to “not make it.”  And since there was nothing I could do to contribute, other than to perhaps not eat, my fear would grow with each passing day as I dreaded reaching the end of all things as I had come to know them.

And then, suddenly, miraculously, we survived.  We made it through another month. 

Though we would somehow manage to make it, I never felt secure.  And it was very confusing when my father would come home after some of these monthly calamities with a new, better, more expensive shotgun.  A shiny  and lovely gun that he had managed to buy after trading in the old model.  The old model he never had to sell.

Is it any wonder I am terrified of financial lack?  Or that I have an underlying sense that disaster is always waiting for me just around the corner?

If I don’t have a few thousand dollars in my bank account, I start feeling very uncomfortable.  When I get below the thousand dollar mark, I begin to panic. 

I haven’t been in the safe range for a very long time.  Haven’t even been in the panic range.  I’m so low on resources, terror is my constant companion.  I live paycheck to paycheck and there are many times I don’t think I’m going to make it.  For real.

I don’t have a shotgun to sell.  Everything I can sell has been sold, other than the jewelry I made when trying to start a side business.  Before my current crisis, I made occasional sales and those sales provided a small, but nice bonus.  Yet for some reason, no one wants to buy anything now that I really need the money. 

Besides being systematically deconstructed by the continual abuse I suffered while in the “care” of my parents, I learned that a person could never count on anything or trust in anyone.  I learned needs probably wouldn’t be met.  That love was painful, cruel and selfish.  That security was a fairy tale.  That life would throw disaster after disaster into your lap and…you just might not make it.

I’ve been trying. I’ve been trying to make it my entire life.  But I’m not certain what I’ve accomplished could be called anything close to success.

I’m still not sure I’m going to make it.




Always waiting;
for what
I do not know.
For something I do not have,
but need


Much of my life has been spent in the state of waiting for something I do not have, but that I need desperately.

I am weary of waiting.

Lately, I have been waiting for a job.  Hopefully the right position will become available.  But any real opportunity will do.  I have nothing.  To begin to rebuild my life, I must have a job.  So, I am waiting; waiting for a job I do not have, but need desperately.

For many years…more years than I like to remember…I was waiting for my husband to finally love and want me.  I needed him to want me.  To love me.  I waited, believing the day would come.  Instead, he pulled the plug and walked away.  Leaving me waiting for love I did not have, but that I needed desperately.

I still need it.  I’m still waiting to find someone who can love me.  Someone to want me.  I have waited a very, very long time.  My need is intense.  My hope is miniscule.

I wait for redemption.  For restoration.  I sit in the darkness and wait.  I need a fresh start.  A wave of hope.  I bit of strength.  A new outlook.  A second chance.  Or maybe it is a fifth or sixth chance.  I am waiting.  For that which I do not have, but need.  Desperately.

I have waited for things I could not put my finger on.  Things I couldn’t easily define or explain.  For things that were vague and foggy and undefined.  Happiness.  Expectancy.  Joy.  Freedom.  Purpose.  Self-worth. Words that held great meaning; meaning that was so complex and encompassing, it was not easily expressed nor quickly understood.  I wait still.  I wait for these important things I do not have, but need desperately.

I wait alone.  I wait without anticipation.  But what else can I do but sit here in this moment of time that is “now” and linger.  Hoping without hope.  Believing without belief.  With want and desire so vast, I dare not even fantasize a conclusion.   My need is great.  So I wait.  For things I do not have.  Things I desperately need.

Minutes have slipped unnoticed from my hand.  Years have spun about me, painting lines upon my face.  I am empty and numb.  Tired and dejected.  Without dreams.  Hoping only to survive. Still seeking some brighter future.  Some reason to live.  My need is great.  I wait. I wait for a reality I do not have.  That I have never known.  I wait for these things that I need desperately.

So much of my life has come and gone.  So much brokenness.  So much pain.  So few highs.  Too many lows.  Too much darkness.  Far, far too little light.  The sun and moon have done their dance around me for decades.  Stars have been born and stars have died.  Fall has been swallowed by winter, winter by spring, spring by summer, summer by fall.  Repeatedly.  Until I lost count of the years.  But I have watched.  Waiting.  For things I do not have, but need desperately.

Now, with so little time remaining, still I am waiting.  The seasons for things to have come to fruition have come and gone.  Much of what I needed will never be provided because that season has passed.  Long passed.  There aren’t so many options available now.  Not many roads that can be taken.  Not many dreams that can be realized.  Sometimes, I no longer know what I’m waiting for.

Still I wait.

For something I do not have,

but need desperately.

Even though

I fear I mostly wait to die.