Tag Archives: Terror

To the Left of Me

She lives just out of sight
to the left of me
I catch glimpses of her
from time to time
her battered wounded body
bruised and broken
a quivering mass
helpless
repugnant

My eyes do not linger long
not wanting to look too closely
not wanting to see too clearly
not wanting to know
what has been done to her
to make her appear
so horribly ruined
She is little more
than a pulpy mass of torn and beaten flesh
So grave are her injuries
she cannot escape the moment
where she is frozen
forever
in time

I’m not sure of her age
don’t know
her features
for I never look too attentively
Yet, even if I could bear to study her
I doubt I could describe her
in any detail
she is too badly fractured
she is too deeply wounded
she is too hideous to carefully observe

I do not acknowledge her
in those rare moments
when I catch sight of her
out of the corner of my eye
there to the left of me
I do not give her
even the slightest
friendly sign
Instead
I look away
turning from her
quickly
telling myself she is not my concern
not someone I want to get to know
or spend time with

Sometimes thoughts of her prick my mind
and I wonder about her
what she is like
why she is there
what happened to her
who she is
But I sense the answers are intensely painful
causing apprehension to shoot through me
like liquid ice
causing me to squirm inside
to sweat fear from my pores
So I quench the questions
before I can finish the thought
swiftly close the door
turn the key
in the lock
and I walk away

Yet when I am alone
in the deep darkness of the night
I can’t help but ponder
her
I can’t help but
contemplate her fate

I sense she is a child
with unruly golden hair
one who used to love to run with the wind
whose limbs were strong and growing
I believe she danced in the sunshine
twirled in the cool green grass
caught snowflakes on her tongue
breathed deeply the crisp fresh air
I believe she was alive once
inquisitive
sensitive
I think she must have laughed with delight
at the beauty she saw
in rocks
and leaves
in stars
and trees
in clouds
and fields
She was a child
who was fully alive
like the wriggly trusting puppy
she loves
with all of her heart

She was animated
and knew the joy of life
until
abuse stole her spark
left her dark
and pulverized
She could no longer dance
or laugh
and she watched the wind
run
without her

I think she withdrew
deep within herself
in a vain attempt to protect herself
from the crippling blows
the horrible physical
emotional
sexual abuse
the violent environment
the nightmare of her world
The lack of love and nurture
broke her
into a zillion pieces
annihilated her
mutilated her
decimated her
crushed her
and left her as she is
today

She is bloody
trapped
isolated behind her walls
She is deathly quiet
shunning oxygen
existing on emptiness
surviving
but not thriving
not living
not alive

What does she want from me?
Why is she there?
I feel her watching me
feel her pleading eyes follow me
as I go about my day
She is like a scratchy sweater
too warm and too tight
pricking, itching, scraping me
binding, squeezing, restricting me
I am so uncomfortable with her
uneasy
wary
wanting her to go away
wanting her to leave me alone
to release me from her prickly
painful touch

I fear her
for I am afraid
she is not simply an elusive ghost
haunting and unsettling me
dwelling where I can’t quite see her
to the left of me
I am afraid
if I look too closely
I will find
she wears my face
shares my heart
sees with my eyes
cries my tears
tastes my fear
and that it is my blood
she is bleeding
my blood
running through her veins
spilling from her wounds

I can’t bear to look at her too closely
because I fear
this broken
horribly disfigured child
is me

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

 

 

Goodbye. Farewell. See Ya.

I lost them long before they died.  It made it easy to say goodbye.

They were broken, selfish, narcissistic people.  Only their own needs mattered.  Everyone existed to serve them, to make them look good, to give them what they wanted and needed, to validate them.  They were not stable, often allowing emotions and anger to take control.  Causing them to lash out.  To hit.  To push and shove.  To yell.  To say horrible, soul-breaking things.  To ridicule.  To demean.  To reject and belittle.

Both were abusive.  Both had their own way of doing damage.

The mother unit was so self-focused, she didn’t remember me as a child.  I asked her once what I was like when I was small, trying to gain a different perspective on myself as I attempted to put the pieces back together again.  I received letter after letter, 20 or 30 pages long…or more.  About her feelings, her struggles, her disappointments during my growing up years.  But not one word about me.  Not one.  Not one single word about what kind of a little girl I was.  I finally called, thanking her for sharing her own journey, but told her I was trying to get a little insight into what others might have seen when they encountered me as a child.  Silence.  Then finally, she spoke.  “I don’t really remember you.”  And she was off on another tangent, telling me about how horrid her life was and how disappointing I was to her, having not fixed all of her many problems.

She could also lash out in anger.  She tended to slap hard or drag me by my hair.  Crying the whole time because I was so horrible.  Telling me what a failure I was and how badly I let her down.

I loved to sing.  I made the mistake of asking her once if she thought I had a good voice.  She said, “No, not really.”  Years later, when I was an adult, I discovered I was actually a pretty good singer.  Found out my mother was comparing me to Barbra Streisand.  That’s how good I had to be in her eyes to rate encouragement.  To be worthy.  Anything less than her idea of perfection meant I was a total failure.

I was always less than her idea of perfection.  I was always a failure in her eyes.

As a small child, even when I was a baby, she told me all her problems.  Ran at the mouth constantly.  Couldn’t shut up.  When I turned 11, I was crushed when she told me I was a huge disappointment because I wasn’t as mature as I should be.  All because I couldn’t fix what was broken in her life.  My job, you see, was to please her and make everything okay for her.  But I was never good enough, no matter how hard I tried.  I could never make everything okay.

Sometimes, she would hide in the closet, too paranoid to come out and talk to anyone.  I was to make excuses for her.  To explain.  To make the abnormal seem normal.

The father unit was even worse.

He hit too.  Hard.  With fists.  Not as often as the mother unit, but when he exploded, it was terrifying.

And there was the sexual abuse.  Ran the gamut from bad to worse.  It permeated my childhood from around age 4 or 5 until I was 14.  A good 10 years of being used as an object.  A nobody.  Nothing.  Keeping the secret.  Living without air.  Without hope.  Living in fear of the darkness because that was when he would most often come to my bedroom.  Trying to be invisible on the days he was off work when my mother was working.  Or the times he molested me when she was reading a book while sitting in the same room.  Not willing to see.  Refusing to believe her “knight in shining armor” was anything less than perfect.

He was sick.  He infected everyone he touched.  And he touched me often.

I walked in dark shadows.  I existed in Netherlands.  I tip-toed through silent and terrifying days and prayed for the sun to come quickly while I lay wrapped in the darkness of night.  Tormented by demons both human and supernatural.  Paralyzed by fear and ravished by anguish.  Pain skewered my heart.  There was no place to find refuge.  No safety.  No protection.

He died in 1998.  I have yet to shed a tear.  I was actually relieved to say that final goodbye.  To never again have to hold my breath while I was around him.  Bracing when he came to visit.  It was finally finished.

She died in 2002.  Still haven’t cried.  Not even once.  You see, when you lose someone 40 years before they actually pass away, you have a long time to adjust.  You learn to live without them long before they are gone.  Because you never really had them to begin with.

It’s hard for a child to understand.  Even for an adult.  But you do eventually get it.

You say goodbye to what you never had and what will never be.  To parents who never loved or protected you.  You slowly realize the bond most kids develop with their parents simply isn’t in the realm of possibility in your reality.  So you let go.  Of hope.  Piece by piece.  Dream by dream.  You bid your abusers farewell one moment at a time until there is no longer any connection between you.

You cry your tears when you’re 7, 8, 10, 12, 15.  So when they do finally leave earth, all your tears are gone and your eyes are dry.  You don’t feel anything but a quiet release.

You can’t miss what you never had.

You just say goodbye.  Farewell.  See ya.  And you keep walking.  Alone.  Like you’ve done every other day of your life.

 

No Words

There are times, times when I’m trying to tell my story, trying to get it out of me, to piece together foggy memories so as to account for all the black holes…oh, there are many, many times when I can’t find words.  I can’t find the words to explain, to express what I felt, what I experienced, what I survived.  What I endured.

I can’t find the words to describe what it was like as a child, lying in bed at night, waiting.  Listening to every creak, praying not to hear the floorboards of my bedroom floor bending, straining, popping beneath the weight of someone stealthily entering under cover of darkness in the dead quiet of the night.  Someone who was supposed to protect me from the boogeyman, but who was worse than any boogeyman I could ever possibly imagine.  I would hold my breath as I lay there, clutching my flashlight like a life preserver as if my life did indeed depended on it, nose below the blankets no matter how hot it was in the room, praying for the night to end quickly.  For the first hints of daylight to come to my rescue.

Because it was too grueling to comprehend what my father was doing to me, I began to fear ghostly, malevolent spirits that were real and terrifying to me.  Spirits I alone could see.  Spirits that would invade my bedroom each night, terrorizing me, teaching me fear beyond what my brain and body could assimilate or withstand.  They rode the rocking chair from the living room to my room.  I could hear it creak, creak, creak as it slowly made its way to the doorway of my bedroom, where it sat rocking, mocking, watching at me.  As every “creak” became louder, closer, I lay petrified and terrified beyond reason, knowing there was no escape.  Knowing the darkness would win again that night.  That all hope was lost.

I was an adult before I finally realized the rocking chair was but a clever disguise for my father, one I used to shield myself from the horror of my reality.  For it was my father who crept down the hall into my room, the floor creaking beneath each step.  Sadly, I was over 40 before I realized he was the malevolent spirit that had his way with me, taking what he wanted, using my young, undeveloped body to meet his twisted, lust-filled sexual desires.

There are times when I run out of words because words seem woefully inadequate.  No words can sufficiently paint the picture.  It seems futile to even try.

But I am driven to try.  And to keep trying.

There are times I strive in vain to paint the picture of what it was like to grow up in a house where my only defense was to be invisible.  Where my best hope was to become a ghost who moved through the rooms unseen.  Because when I was noticed, I was hit.  I was slapped.  I was derided.  I was used.  I was told that I was nothing, worthless, a failure who never lived up to expectations.  I was molested and raped.  I was neglected.  I was dragged by my hair.  I was ridiculed. The slaps and fists left bruises and red marks on my body.  The words slit my soul and cut it into pieces.  The sexual abuse pounded me into powder.  Many of those marks and slits, the ones that went deep inside of me, remain.  Some have scarred over.  Some are yet fresh and oozing, infected and ugly.  They attest to my defilement.

And the fragmented pieces, the dust?  The dust lives on.  The dust lives on even though much of my being does not.

I lived in a dark, horrible, lonely, frightening world when I was growing up in that house.  It has tainted the rest of my life, the life I ran to once I graduated from high school and fled my parent’s reach.  I could never run far enough away to escape what they had done to me and the results of their abuse and neglect.  They had infected me and there seems to be no cure for the deadly infection.

There aren’t enough words in the universe to describe what it is like to grow up completely alone and unloved.  There aren’t enough words in all of the languages of the world combined to tell you what it was like to be abused and rejected by the people who gave birth to you, who were supposed to want and cherish you, who were charged to protect and nurture you.  In that distorted world where I matured, I lived in isolation, in a vacuum, in a deep fog and in such intense, unbearable pain, it had a physical, as well as psychological, impact on my body.

There are times when it seems pointless, when I feel there is no need to struggle to write or speak the words anymore.  Once spoken, they were supposed to set me free.  Writing them was supposed to bring healing.  I am tired of working so hard to say something just right; right enough that I will finally find release and wholeness.  To finally receive wings on which to fly.  To finally taste freedom.  I’ve been at this for a long time.  The promised liberty has not materialized.  My brokenness continues to cripple me in far too many ways, even now.  The telling of my story has not washed me clean.  It has not healed my festering wounds.

Yet, here I am, once again, trying to find the perfect words to purge me of the toxins I was force-fed during my nightmarish childhood.  Pointless though it may be and as hopeless as the venture may prove, I can’t stop myself from spilling, pouring, raining words out onto paper in hopes that I will finally find a way to escape the prison in which my mind and soul have been locked for all these many, many years.  I can’t stop myself from writing a blog most people will never see nor want to read, even if they do, by chance,  discover it.  I can’t refrain from creating poems and songs that are laced with my pain and crushing emptiness.  I fill blank pages with black letters to discharge my tears as I strive to spell out the words that I hope will unlock the cage and, at long last, release me from the darkness where I have been trapped, lost and alone.

 

 

What I Would Not Give

Graduation DayWhat I would not give to be graduating from high school this year.

It wasn’t that long ago that I did.  Graduate.

(Okay, it was a long time ago.  I just can’t comprehend the passage of time.  I still feel 17.)

I worked hard to get there.  To make it to that moment.  To graduation.  I believed.   I believed I could change the course of my life.  I had so much hope.  My life was there in front of me.  Beautiful.  Exciting.  Wonderful.  I believed the right things would happen because my heart was in the right place.  I believed I could change the ending, even though the beginning had been set in stone.

What I wouldn’t give to have the opportunity to go to college.  To walk the campus of a university I would call home for the next four years.  Not knowing where my steps would take me.  But believing they would take me somewhere that was incredible.   Somewhere with endless possibilities.

Somewhere good.

What I would not give to be graduating from that college, having proven myself, having attained something others would recognize as being worthwhile.  Something that would give me a sense of validation, even though it really didn’t make me a legitimate human being.

What I would not give to have a purpose and direction.  Meaning.

What I would not give to be able to start over.  To go back to that place where I totally screwed up. Where all of life was before me and to be able to return to that point where very, very little lay behind.  Where possibilities stretched in front of me endlessly.  That place where hope and excitement prevailed.   In spite of the difficulties I needed to overcome.  In spite of the horrors of my childhood and all the damage it had done.  In spite of those terrible things that had wounded and shaped me thus far.  In spite of those things that had broken me.  And decimated me.  In spite of what my parents had done to me.  What they had made of me.

What I would not give for a chance to start over.  To do things differently.  To be wiser.  To make better choices.  To approach things differently.  To take care of myself and treat myself as if I mattered.  Or even as if I might possibly matter.  To someone.  To me.  Somehow. Some day.

What I would not give to be able to recognize I at least had a small amount of value, even though I was terribly imperfect. Even though I was terribly flawed. Even though I was horribly wounded.  Even though I was a mess.  Even though I was challenging to love.

Or impossible to love.  Even though I might be unlovable. Because of the damage.

I spent most of my life sleepwalking through the days.  I spent most of my life completely numb and sound asleep.  To get by.  To make it through.   I spent all of my life simply trying to survive the moment.  Sacrificing who I was.  Sacrificing all of my dreams.  Sacrificing my desires.  Because I thought I was nothing.  I thought I was worthless.  And it cost me everything.  I lost all the important moments.  I lost almost every single thing that mattered to me.  I lost my life, even though I am still technically alive.  I sacrificed myself, not knowing the cost.  Not understanding the price.  Not understanding what was going on.

What I would not give or sacrifice now to be able to start over again.  To make different choices.  To walk a different path.  To undertake a different journey.  To choose a different road.  To see things differently.

Oh, God, what I wouldn’t do to be able to have another chance.  One.  More.  Chance.

Can you really turn all these curses into blessings?  Can you really give me a future?  A good future?  Filled with hope?  Even though I’m old and my life is almost over?  Do You really want to bless me?  Can you truly turn all the horrible nightmares of my life into good?

Do you love me?  Me?  Worthless me?  Unlovable me?

What I would not give for that chance.  That chance to change the course of my life.  I have nothing much to give, truth be told.  But I would give everything…everything…everything to have that chance.

I have grown old.  I have frittered away all of my days.  All of my opportunities.  All of my possibilities.  I didn’t mean to be so stupid.  I didn’t mean to be so screwed up.  I tried hard to succeed and to avoid failure.  But it was not enough.   All my effort was not enough.  Everything I had to give was not enough.  I was never enough.

What I would not give to have the chance to begin again.

I’ve been around for quite awhile now.  For more years than I can comprehend.  More years than I want to admit.

I have nothing to show for all that time.

I would give anything to roll back the time.  To that time when there was time.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to start over again.

I would probably still screw it up.  But I would like to believe I could change my destiny.

I would like to believe things could have turned out differently.  Better. Much better.

What I would not give to have the chance to try again.  Just one more chance…

One.  More.

 

The World Will Spin Without Me

It will be as if I was never here.   As if I never had been. As if I never mattered. At all.

There will be no one to hold me when I die.  No one to mourn.  No one to miss me.

I will die alone.  No fanfare.

The world will spin without me.  It will go on.  The footprints I have made in the sand of time will quickly be eradicated.

Not that there will be many footprints left behind.  Not that there will be many…if any.  I haven’t left much of a mark.  Even though I have tried.  Even though I have desperately tried to leave a piece of myself behind.

No one will weep.  No one will hear the words I have written.  Or miss the words I might have written.  All the painful words  The honest and painful words I might have written.  I will leave no mark.  No permanent mark.  I will have no impact.  I will usher in no revelations.

I am a mere insignificant blip in the overall timeline of the expansive universe.  I mean nothing.  I am nothing.  I never have meant anything.  I never have been anything.

The stars will still shine at night.  The sun will still rule the daytime sky.  Clouds will still float as they are blown by the wind.  The seasons will still change.  The years will still pass.  My eyes will not see it.  I will not feel the heat and the cold and the wind and the rain and the snow.  It will continue, but I will not.  It will all spin.  Without me.

Time leaves us all behind at some point.  When we step out, when the door closes, when time ejects us from the stream, it’s over.  It’s done.  The world will go on.  It will spin without me.  The world will spin without me.

I will cease to exist.  I will cease to matter.  Not that I have ever mattered.

The one thing I wanted of life…the biggest and most important thing…was to be loved by someone.  Because if you are truly loved and cherished by someone, you are never alone.  You go on in the  heart of those others even after you are gone.  I wanted to leave a little piece of me behind.  I wanted the world to stop, even if just for one nanosecond, when I stepped off the planet.  I wanted to matter for that nanosecond.  I wanted to be someone.  Someone who left a mark.

There is no one here who will not experience that nanosecond.

We all know life goes on.  We all know we are going to die someday and that life will leave us behind.  But we want to believe the world will slow its spin and that someone will mourn our departure in that moment when we cease to exist.

But there is no one to mourn me after I am gone.  There is no reason to stop, or even slow, for a moment to grieve.  There is no one.  I am…alone.  Alone.

The world will spin without me.  The only thing I ever wanted is not to be.

To be young again. To have another chance.  To be loved.  Wanted.  Cared for.  To be able to do something that will make the world a different , better, more palatable place.  To leave something good behind.  I wanted so desperately to leave something worthwhile behind.

The world will spin without me.

It always has.

It always will.

Life goes on.

Whatever that mean.

The world will spin without me.  Long after I am gone.

 

Heigh-Ho

My brother has a life.  My brother has a wife.  Heigh-ho the derry-o my brother has a life.

My aunt has a life.  A very active life.  Heigh-ho the derry-o, my aunt has a life.

She’s 80, by the way.  At that stage where she should be winding down. Where she should be more isolated and alone. But she isn’t.  She just keeps going and doing.  Church.  Groups. Friends.  Events. 

She makes me tired.

She is involved in more activities than I’ve ever been involved with.   She has…a life.  She has purpose.  She has a reason to get up each morning.  Even if she’s kind of depressed.  Because she’s 80.  Nearing the end.  And that’s a hard place to be.

I, on the other hand, have no life.  Never have.

I, on the other hand, don’t have a reason to keep going.  Or doing.  Other than my dogs. 

I have no reason to keep trying.  To be alive.  Been trying for a long time.  A very, very, very long time. 

I’m tired of trying to find a reason.  To keep going.  Tired of trying to find a purpose.  Tired of finding none and coming up empty over and over.  Tired of grinding everything out by nothing other than the power of my will.  Doing everything because I have to.

Oh, I guess I have a life of sorts.  Pathetic as it is.  Mostly it consists of just trying to get through the week.

I go to work.  Do the best I can within the parameters of the very limited authority and space I have been given on the job.  It’s the only place I have any hope of contributing.  The only place I have even a minimal amount of influence.  Not really much influence at all.  Not many options.  Not much hope.

They pay me very little.  I make barely enough to survive. 

Actually, I don’t make enough to survive. I’m going the hole.  Every month.  I’m going down the drain. 

Which means…

There’s no hope.  No hope.

And I’m old.  Which makes it ever worse.

I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic.  Because I’m going down the drain. Because there is no hope.  Because I can’t change my destiny.  No matter how hard I work. No matter how hard I try.  I’m doomed.  Nothing is going to change that.  It never has and therefore, it’s impossible to believe it ever will.

Heigh-ho…

Hannah & Zoe 9-7-2015 fb1The good in my pathetic life is my dogs.  Hannah and Zoe.  They are the reason I keep going.

But beyond them, well, there’s nothing.  I sit here alone, typing words on this blank screen, hoping to connect with some unseen person out there.  Someone who will hear my heart.  Someone who will understand. Who will care.

I’m listening to TV without watching, drinking a glass of wine to dull the pain.  Or to anesthetist the lack of pain.

Maybe even drinking a couple of glasses.

Maybe even drinking three.

Because not being able to feel is just as painful as feeling.  Or maybe it’s even more painful.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work I go.

To a place that is hostile.  That place where I work.  Where I’m under attack.  I’m trying to hang on.  I’m trying to get through.  But it isn’t working out.  It isn’t working out because this isn’t living.   Not at all.  This is barely getting by.  This is really not even getting by.  And I’m tired of barely, not even really getting by.  Tired of just surviving.

Just like I’m tired of being alone.

Just like I’m tired of not being able to find a reason to live.

Heigh-ho. 

The only reason I keep hanging on is because I want to leave a record behind.  A record of what happens when a person is sexually abused.  By their father.  When they’re a child. I want people to understand what it does to that child.  I want people to know it destroys their soul.  Their whole life.  Everything.  All that they might have, could have, should have been.  It’s gone before they even got started living.

All that I might have been, could have been, should have been.  Gone.

It destroyed me.  In spite of all my efforts to heal.  To overcome.  I am hoping it will matter.  I’m hoping what I went through will make a difference somehow.  To someone.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work I go…

I go to work where I make next to nothing.  Where I am nothing.

Then I go home to my Miniature Schnauzers.  They’re happy to see me.  They think I’m something.  They love me.  They think I’m wonderful. They dance and wiggle when they see me.  My heart comes alive when I see them.

But I don’t matter.  I don’t think I’m anything.  I don’t think I have any value.

So I drink wine.  Too many glasses sometimes.  I hold them on my lap and love them while I drink my wine.  To dull the pain.  To dull the lack of pain.

Then I go to sleep. 

And do it all over again the next day.  Hoping against hope that tomorrow will be different. Better.

That the weekend will be better.  Will make life better.

Heigh-ho the derry-o, I want to have a life.

But all I have is this pathetic imitation.  This pathetic imitation of life. 

I live in a vacuum.  I try to deceive myself into believing I have a reason to keep living.  That life is worth living.  Or will be.  Tomorrow.

Heigh-ho.

It’s not working.

I don’t have a life.  Or a reason to live.  Beyond my dogs.  Beyond loving them. Taking care of them.

I need a real life.  I need to finally live.

Heigh-ho…

 

 

 

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.

 

Chess

I feel as if I am a pawn on a chess board.

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

I am apprehensive.   I fear the other players.  They have confidence and authority.  They have purpose and options.  I have none.  I am lost, confused and afraid.

I didn’t expect to be the queen.  But I certainly didn’t set out to be a pawn.  I would have liked to be a rook or a bishop. A knight, perhaps. Maybe if I were of greater importance, someone who had more strength and value, I would have a better understanding of the meaning behind the competition. But as it is, powerful people are vigorously playing the game with great intensity and focus.  They are waltzing all about me while I stand on my tile, fearing their next move, waiting to be eliminated.

I am of no consequence.

Others thrive, make daring exchanges, take opponent’s pieces.  Others lunge forward with purpose and conviction.  Others gain important ground.  The queen, the powerful, mighty queen, flaunts her authority, knocking irrelevant players from the board.  Caring not.  She is the queen, after all.  How dare lesser men defy her!  God help me if I find myself in her way.  She will sacrifice me without a thought.  I am nothing to her.  Nothing.

I am nothing to anyone.

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

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

They want me out of the way.

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

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

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

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

My Mother Gave To Me

I read an article written by a woman who talked about her relationship with her mother.  She shared that the relationship was shaky for a time.  She felt rejected by her mother for a good part of her life until she finally found a way to break through the barriers that divided them.  Their relationship wasn’t terrible or abusive – she just felt she didn’t measure up to her amazing, beautiful, special mom.  But once they connected, she was able to be proud of her.  The mother passed away a couple of years ago and was now desperately missed. She summed up by noting, every time she received a compliment about her prematurely gray hair (which was just like her mother’s), she would thank the person and tell them, “I got it from my mother.”  That statement became a symbol to her of all the positive things her mother contributed to her life and how they were still connected.  

The article caused me to contemplate the things my own mother had contributed to my life.  To examine the ways we are yet connected. To think about the things I “got” from my mother.

The first thing that came to mind? She was a mess and she was depressed, as am I.  But for very different reasons.  We are alike, but not alike.  Connected, but not connected. Similar, but not.

Let me illustrate. The end result was the same (depression), but for very different underlying reasons. 

My mother believed she should be loved and she got very angry when she wasn’t or didn’t get treated the way she thought she should be treated.  She projected blame outward, striking out at others. 

I, on the other hand, do not believe I am worthy of being loved.  I am so unsure of my personhood, I don’t believe I’m worth time, trouble, or consideration because I have too many issues.  Unlike her, I project blame inward.  My anger is aimed at myself. 

So while her depression was likely largely due to what she saw as grave mistreatment by others and from not receiving what she felt she was owed in life, mine is more of an outgrowth of self-hatred. We were both depressed, but for very different reasons. Alike, but not alike.

There are some strong physical similarities and characteristics we do share.  My eyebrows are just like hers were.  As are my thick ankles.  Then there’s the propensity to gain weight by just looking at food.  Our poor posture.  These things would mark me as her daughter.

But I realized, unlike the author of the article I read, the things that have most shaped my life are comprised more of what I didn’t get from her. And those marks are not as readily visible.

One of the things I didn’t get was love and acceptance.  Instead, I received rejection.  Along with physical and emotional abuse.  Over time, continually being told I was a major disappointment beat me down.  I was supposed to fulfill her and I failed.  I wasn’t pretty enough, cute, fun, or popular enough.  I didn’t fix her life or make her look good.  I didn’t perform the way I was expected to perform.  She undermined my value day after day, year after year.  In some ways, this was more toxic than the physical blows.  Never measuring up, her rejection, anger, and physical outbursts, along with the abuse I suffered at the hands of my father, all became part of the experiences that caused me to disbelieve I was a person.  I learned from my parents, from my mother, I was an object to be used.  I existed solely to provide what others required of me.

She taught me well.  I still struggle to believe I’m a real person who has any value.  

Another thing I didn’t get from my mother was a sense of safety or security.  I was terribly afraid, never knowing when the bottom would fall out of my world.  When I would be hit.  When she would turn into a screaming maniac.  When the violent fights would erupt.  What kind of craziness I would encounter.  What would set her off.  I had nightmares about the world coming to an end, about horribly destructive tornadoes, massive disasters, fires.  I walked on eggshells and tried to be invisible.  And while the intensity of the terror has dulled, her influence caused me to be a fearful, risk-adverse person.

I also didn’t receive nurture, protection, or support.  I was used, abused, left to fend for myself and to figure out a very complex and crazy-making environment.  I learned quickly that I wasn’t supposed to ask for or expect anything from the adults in my life.  I wasn’t supposed to need or be any trouble whatsoever.  The less disruption I caused the better.  So nurture and protection weren’t at all available.  I attempted only to survive. 

I am still trying to find ways to survive without creating ripples or requiring anything from others. 

As a child, I was always told I had “better be sick enough” to deserve expensive and inconvenient intervention and care.  I still have difficulty determining when I have crossed the line to “sick enough.”  For example, when I had pneumonia, I waited until I was so ill before I finally sought a doctor’s care, I needed to be hospitalized. And because I often didn’t get essential care as a child, I now think it’s wrong for me to even consider wanting, needing, or seeking it.  I think I’m supposed to tough it out.  Do without.  Find a way to keep going, no matter what.  Without help.

Without bothering my mother.

Ultimately, what my mother gave me by not providing what I needed was a very confusing and conflicted view of life, love, myself, and others.  So as Mother’s Day approaches, even though she has been dead for many years, I can’t help but think of her with great sadness and pain.  Not because she isn’t physically here with me now.  I’m actually thankful that phase of my life is over. But rather, I feel sadness because she is still with me in so many ways.  I don’t have her gray hair, but her handiwork is evident and painfully visible, manifest in the immeasurable damage within me that she left behind.