Homesickness at 106

I’ve been so homesick lately.  It’s been almost four months since I moved into this new home, and I’m finally getting homesick.

Over the last few days, I’ve been looking around this home, and I realized that nothing about it feels like mine.  Nothing about it feels like the comfort of home.  I don’t see any of the useless trinkets that adorned my last home.  Instead, I see items that belonged to another person in another time.  The sugar bowls above my cabinets.  The ceramic that clutters my counter by the stove.  Inherited, ugly dishwear that we eat off of.  Foreign pots and pans that I prepare food on.

At first, it was like an exciting vacation home.  It was an escape from my ramshackle house that had strings like Pinocchio.  I was a puppet in my own home, and eventually, I was forcibly removed from that home with the final passive-aggressive jabs in a long, relentless series of them.  I had broken free of my failure to launch syndrome and was on the road to becoming a self-sufficient adult.

Now, I feel more helpless than ever before.  In my hometown, I could free myself of the bondage of my house whenever I felt like it.  There was a wealth of places I could go and see.  Here, I am trapped at the end of a beautiful, scenic private driveway in an idyllic little town.  To get off of this mountainous terrain, it’s a mile’s walk straight down a series of steep hills.  And even if I were to make it into town, there is nothing to do and nowhere to go.

I don’t miss the cramped nature of 511, with junk brimming from every tiny storage area there was.  But, now, I feel that there is no place of solace for me.  My bedroom was my bedroom.  All of my stuff was comforting, and my space was adorned with knicknacks of years past.  It was a representation of me.  I feel like this place is completely devoid of that.  This place feels devoid of me, and I’m beginning to feel lost.  I’m beginning to feel like I’m losing myself, instead of finding a place where I could discover myself once again.

There’s too many negative memories attached to that house.  So many, that they actually outweigh the positive ones.  In that house, I lived with Avi, without heat, in the most brutal winter I can recall.  I lived out of boxes, surrounded by piles of garbage and junk.  I was estranged from that house in warmer months as a means of escape.  I hit the bottom of the barrel with a miserable labor job, a serious drinking problem, and a completely hopeless future.

It was in that house that I was coerced into having immoral sex with Simon in a sick, twisted threesome.  I hardly remember it.  Most of what I can recall from the situation has a haze over it.

There were good things.  It was the place where Xan was partially unconscious in my lap on New Years’ Eve, and I fed him a special New Years’ Eve pretzel I made in the bakery at work.  It was the place where I first realized that I loved him.  That was the house where Xan and I first lived together as a couple.  It was the first place we made love.

That was the place where we started our life together.  It was the place we went back to after our wedding.  It was the house that our child was conceived in.  We brought our little bundle of joy home there, and slept on the living room floor next to his bassinet for the first month.  There, our son took his first steps, said his first words, and grew from a baby to a child.

Again, there was the bad and even the ugly.  Too much violence happened there, both physical, verbal, and self-inflicted.  It was a breeding ground for negativity.  Xan and I used to have these knock-down, no-hold-barred fights there.  I recall too many moments where I stormed up the stairs to escape him.  The whole last four months of our residence in that home was a complete disaster in our marriage.

In essence, I escaped that place.  But, is the devil you don’t know worse than the devil you do?

Positives.  Think of the positives.

This house has the potential to become my lifetime home.  Maybe I am just homesick because I spent six years in the last house, and only four months here.

This house is located in a safe area for my son, and provides a calm, free environment for him.  In addition, it has a better school district and provides better learning opportunities and support for him.

This house has additional space.  I don’t feel as cramped and caged, even if I do feel lonely and secluded.

Even though this house contains a lot of foreign items, it won’t forever.  I will acquire more items to replace the old ones that feel more like me.  It will become more familiar as time passes.

This house is not a money pit.  It is in good condition and was well built.  I do not spend a large amount of money on utilities, and there is hardly a threat that I will ever be without.

I will never be threatened to be evicted from this home.  There are no strings attached and the owner is very hands-off.  I will never find myself threatened or harassed over this house.

Xan and Beast are happy here.

It is easy to clean and requires little maintenance.  It might be a little more overwhelming, since it’s a bit bigger than the other house.  But, I don’t have to look at torn out walls and feel a sense of hopelessness and fear toward the condition.

I can be happy here.  I have been happy here.  Summers are far more temperate and beautiful here.  Autumn is gorgeous with all of the foliage.  Winter might even be nice with fresh white snow covering the yard and the woods.

It’s quiet.  I can think.

And one day, I’ll be able to get around on my own.  Even if there is really nowhere to go.  I’ll be less lost and I’ll understand the area a little better.

I’ll find my place here.  I know I will.  It’s just going to take some time.

Advertisements

The Friday Confessional : Romancing Suicide

 

 

Though I confess the things that are most intimate to me, I don’t know if I am accurately painting the picture of the real me.  To everyone here, I am Lulu Stark, the writer, the mother, the wife, and most importantly, the woman who bares herself in the name of mental health and disorder awareness and advocacy.  But, I wanted to put some truths out there.  The uglier side.  The real side.

I only Lulu Stark in the persona.  The one that you read about.  The antihero, the antagonist, protagonist, the victim, the perpetrator, the survivor and occasionally, the hero.

What I don’t talk typically talk about is one of my darkest, sickest secrets of all.

 

Suicide.  I regularly have suicidal thoughts and occasionally ideation.  The little voice goes through the back of my mind, sometimes as an unintelligible whisper and other times as clear as a bell, I want to die.  I want to kill myself.  It would be so easy.  No one would miss me.

I imagine ways it would play out.  I idealize all of the scenarios of suicide.  In a way, it seems I’m under it’s spell.  It seems like the only way out of this torturous world of disorder and dysfunction.  I am more crippled by my illness than I let on.  I feel pathetic in my bones, and I desperately search for my solace in this place of distress and despair.  An endless string of hopeless days and bottomless pits.

I fall deeper, clinging to my last shreds of hope.  I am flirting with suicide, with his silver tongue, soft, familiar caresses, and honey sweet kisses on my neck.

I see a sturdy rope swung around a rafter in my basement, tied with a tidy slipknot instead of an impossible noose.  I stand on a rickety chair, dressed in my Sunday best, leaving a pretty, cold, lifeless corpse behind.  The shell of a woman who never really existed.

I stand with a glass of juice and a bottle’s worth of blue pills in my hand.  I am ready, stripped to nothing but a bathrobe.  Down the hatch, the medication leaves a bitter aftertaste.  I draw myself a hot bath and arm myself with a razor.  And then, I wait.  I wait until I am almost seeing double, and world starts to blue around the edges.  I dig the razor into my wrist and drag it with all of the force I can up to my the bend of my elbow.

Or, I just await death.  I lie in the tub, feeling myself slip away under the surface of the water.  In my mind, I imagine all of the people that would be thankful that I am finally gone.  How in a year or two, I will become a distant memory that only leaves the tiniest pang.  How my sullen face starts to fade from everyone’s mind and any trace of me begins to disappear.  I think of how easy the clean up would be.

Or maybe, I would clean myself up to begin with.  I would be powder fresh in a pretty pastel little girl dress I bought for the occasion.  I would empty all of the contents of my medicine into my stomach, washed down with an entire bottle of vodka.  I would tuck myself into a warm bed, and swaddle myself in blankets.  It would look like sleep at first.  My final sleep.  My resting place.  The only place in my life where I ever felt warm and safe.

 

For the record, I’d never do it.  There is an uglier side to suicide that I’m painfully aware of.  It could possibly be the most selfish act I could ever commit.  The finality of it all is too much for me to even wrap my head around.

My son asks where I went when I am gone for an hour for class.  I imagine his confusion and sadness when he comes to see that his mother will never return. I imagine the possibilities of who would raise him if I were to be gone for good.  He would likely fall into the hands of my own parents, and I would be sentencing him to a similar fate that I experienced.

There would never be enough of an apology for my Xan.  A piece of him would die inside, and he might go mad himself.  There wouldn’t be another out there for him.  He couldn’t possibly recover.  Leaving him to his own devices at work, cutting off communication, it’s too much for him to bear for a few hours.  What if I were to be gone for the rest of his lifetime?

And then there’s the matter of the afterlife.  What comes after death?  Through my Christian upbringing, I fear the day of judgement and the sentencing to an eternity of hell, separated from my friends and family, endlessly tortured in unimaginable ways.  Ways that are beyond my comprehension.

But, what if there is nothing?  What if I sacrificed my life for a world of nothingness?  What if a person just dies and there is nothing behind?  What if I am condemned to walk this Earth as a true ethereal being, and not just the kind I feel as a flesh and blood person?  I stand there and watch as people file in for my funeral.  I see my family overlooking my lifeless body, consumed with grief.  Then, I get to watch my family and friends mourn the loss, as someone irreplaceable that met a tragic and unfair end at my own hand.

Sometimes, I feel as if I am condemned to life.  Sometimes, I feel like I’ve chosen life over the alternatives.  Sometimes, it’s for the sake of my family and friends.  And there are those brief shining moments where I live life as the gift it was meant to be with the promise of tomorrow.

Forget Family : 30 Days of Truth

(Note:  Originally Authored on June 14, 2012.  Since, read The Family Furnace and The Scorpion and The Frog).

Day 10 : Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

This is a rather difficult post, because most of the people that I could’ve written about in this topic were let go years ago throughout certain circumstances.  A lot of things change when a person gets married, and even more so when a person has a child.  Many people fall away, as a result of the social structure changing. Even so, many people were disassociated voluntarily, most through unfavorable circumstances.  That being a marriage to a highly desired man.  Or, a certain amount of jealousy toward my family and the woman no one expected me to become.  And lastly, over interpersonal struggles that had been present for many years.

Plainly said, I don’t allow a person to exist in my life who does me harm.

With one exception.

Family.  An antiquated notion anymore, and yet we all still are drawn to the traditional definition of such.

What is family?  It has different meanings to different people.  For some, especially many that were raised by people that are not related by blood, family are the people closest to you, care for you, and treat you as if you belong.  They are the people who love you unconditionally, and would do anything to oversee your health, safety, well-being and general welfare.

For others, family are the people that are kin by blood, or by marriage through blood.  These are the same people that share genetic matter with one another.  It is the blood that bonds, and should generate those protective and loving emotions.  The family contains a mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins (however distant), and grandmothers and grandfathers (however prefixed with great or otherwise).  It is the hierarchy that provides the structure and governs the family system.

In this setup, certain rules of conduct exist.  Family members are expected to treat others with a kind regard and respect at all times.  Family members are not permitted to have all-out fights, as it insinuates contempt for another, and spells a potential of a deviation from the family.  Although, if there is a deviation from the family system, that person is excluded, because they abandoned their duties to the family, meaning that they have not the love required.  Family members are obligated to each other, even when there is a dislike between two members.  Dislike can exist, but can never be expressed openly.  And family members are private, to be kept within the family system.  No outsiders.

The second is my family system.  The family system that attempts to replicate those of 1950′s television families, and falls incredibly short.  The reality of a family and the fantasy of the television family cannot intersect, because there is no commonality, except the tradition of family.

Now, I come from a heavy Scottish heritage.  Scots are notorious for their clans and said allegiances.  The thing about clans is that they are often family.  And the thing about rival clans is that they are often family, too.  They are several branches of family that had irreconcilable differences, due mostly to conflicting views and stubbornness against compromise.  Scots are a proud people and intensely loyal.  And that’s how a Scottish family system operated.  Family looked out for each other, because if they didn’t, who would?  And chances are, if you weren’t affiliated with a clan or didn’t follow a clan’s way, then you would be abandoned and left for dead.

What does this all have to do with someone I need to let go of?  I need to let go of the antiquated version of family I grew up with.  I need to expel the notions of the Cleaver family, and realize that it is nonexistent.  Well, in my family anyway.

Everyone in this world has at least one secret desire that they know is absolutely impossible for them.  That is exactly why it is a secret.  One of my secret desires is to have family that unconditionally loves me, and treats me like I belong.  I have always desperately wanted parents who treated me like they appreciated my individuality, and could come to terms with the fact that I am not the child they envisioned.  I’ve always wanted them to be proud and express positive emotions toward me.  I wanted loving parents, who weren’t afraid to say they love me, and show physical affection.

I wanted an extended family that I could really know.  Scots are notorious for their huge families.  I mean, that’s how you grow the clan, right?  I have a huge extended family.  I’ve stated this before, but my “sister” is not biologically my sister, from the same parents.  We are related by blood as third cousins.  Yes, my family is close enough that I know my third cousins.  My son and her son will likely grow up as family, cousins, although according to the state of Pennsylvania, they are not related.  (5th cousins.  Who can say they know their 5th cousin?)  But, as my extended family goes, my sister is the only one I continue to have a good relationship with.

I knew my Pappap.  We had a fantastic relationship before he passed.  I miss him.  I really do.  The anniversary of his death is coming up – 16 years ago.  And he was the head of our clan.  Hell, he was the head of two branches of our clan.  (That’s how I know my sister’s family at all).  And when he passed, the glue of our family started coming apart.  He was the only thing that held it together.

But, just because my Pappap held the family together does not mean we were apart of each others lives.  In fact, quite the contrary.  My aunt, also serving in the capacity of my godmother, made the attempt.  The fact was, she just didn’t like children.  Another aunt of mine lived in distant California.  Another aunt of mine was just too jealous of the fact that my mother had a daughter and she had two unruly boys.  Another aunt of mine was a part of my life, and really was my friend.  Until she met her now husband and moved away.  Then, there was my young uncle, a bachelor and professional.  He hardly made an appearance at any of these events.  We were quite estranged for many reasons.  Many that I couldn’t understand at the time.

As a teen, the question always lingered in my mind; Why don’t I belong in my own family?  If I didn’t belong anywhere else in the world, why couldn’t I seem to fit into my family.  In theory, there should have been a guaranteed spot where I would be accepted, understood, and loved unconditionally.  But, as I grew more symptomatic, the more I was pushed away.  The gap was noticeable at that point, and I came to the realization that I didn’t fit some kind of mould that was created for me.  I wasn’t a lovely blonde girl with big blue eyes who spoke softly, smiled sweetly, and was brilliant in a humble way.  I was something entirely different, almost monstrous.

It was at that time that I discarded any sentiments that I could fit in, because I knew it was just not possible for me.  And I stopped trying.  It actually inspired me to attempt to embody everything that was the opposite of what was expected of me.  I didn’t want to conform, because I did not want to “belong” to anyone.  Love should not have contingencies, and I should not be expected to be anyone but myself.  That should be more than good enough to people who call themselves “family” to me.

That does not mean I discarded my longing for family.  Family are the people who love you, no matter what.  Feats or failures.  Achievements or disappointments.  They are the people who help you, not out of obligation, but because they really want to see you in a better place.  They don’t judge you.  They don’t hold grudges or debts.  Family should be the people that are guaranteed confidants, supports, fail safes, and friends.

I longed for parents who would provide me with support, affection, and guidance.  I longed for grandparents who would fawn over me, and lend me wisdom.  I longed for cousins that could be friends.  I so desperately desired aunts and uncles that could teach me about life, give insight on my parents and adulthood in general, and be confidants.  Instead, I got parents that berated me for being me, and gave up on parenting altogether when I turned seventeen, because in truth, they didn’t really want to be parents at all.  I lost my grandfather young, and ended up with a grandmother who was indifferent to her grandchildren.  (According to my mother, she was indifferent to most of her children too.  I don’t take that personally).  I had cousins who held a grudge because I was “the baby” and the only girl on this coast.  My eldest cousin resented me for having the responsibility for looking after me during family events and vacations.  I had an aunt who despised my existence, and another who attempted to use me as a surrogate child, and later decided she wasn’t cut out for kids.

And between all of these people, throughout the years, silent grudges and resentment started opening up.  I had realized that I was caught by accidental crossfire, but it hurt just the same.  All of the trauma still follows me, and I’ve felt like the only resolution would be to have that ideal family.

I need to let the notion of family go.  The only way to resolve that trauma is to understand that definition of family is not the only definition of family.  I didn’t have a mother for guidance.  I stumbled around adolescence and had to find my way to womanhood alone.  I didn’t have a father in the traditional “daddy’s little girl” sense.  I had a dictator, who wasn’t much of a male role model for later men in my life.  I had to fumble my way around dating and men myself.  And in the end, I still ended up with a man much like my father, without the hands-on approach to family.

I need to give up on the idea that my parents will suddenly become parents, even though their sudden appearance as grandparents gave me false hope.  They are who they are, and they’ll always regard me as the person I am, no matter how much I grow and change.  My mother said to me, with a sigh, “I see a lot of myself in you.  A lot of the things that you tell me about your . . . mind, it rings a bell.”  It gave me false hope.  It gave me this idea that she would become my mother and help me in hard times of my marriage and parenting.  But, I know she won’t.  My father will never be a father to me.  He hardly ever was.  He is at least a friend now, anyway.  But, he’ll never brag to his friends about his beautiful, intelligent, talented daughter.  He’ll never express pride or admiration toward me.  Neither of them will.

That’s the way it is.  I need to let go of my family and let it be what it is, instead of hoping that it will suddenly turn into something it never was, and never will be.

Flirting with Suicide

Warning: This post has strong themes of suicide and self-injury within. It may contain potential triggers. Reader discretion is advised.

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths.1

An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.1

Essentially, statistics indicate that there are 380,578 reported cases of attempted suicide each year.  Personally, I see this as a gross underestimate.  The botched attempts are the ones that end up in the hospital.  But what about the folks who take a handful of pills, pass out, and wake up like nothing happened the very next day?  It is in my personal experience, as a person who has never ended up hospitalized by a suicide attempt, that I would jump that number up by at least 20 times the amount of completed suicides.

Today is suicide prevention day.  And today, I wanted to bare my soul and share my sordid past with suicide attempts.

Is suicide common among children and young people?

In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.1 Of every 100,000 young people in each age group, the following number died by suicide:1

  • Children ages 10 to 14 — 0.9 per 100,000
  • Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 6.9 per 100,000
  • Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.7 per 100,000

I started in the earliest age group.  I was a deeply troubled young teenager.  I have only written about this in a personal journal, but I feel it’s time to share.

It was a warm March Friday, humid after a fresh rain.  I was rather excited for that Friday, because it would have been the first Friday I was released from my grounding since January.  It was the truth that my grades had slipped into the toilet.  But, so had my mental health.  I dressed in my funeral best daily.  Every single day was a day that I had wished, nay, prayed for death.  Only a merciful God would release me from this suffering, I thought constantly.  And as a result of my downward spiral, I felt the entire verbally abusive arsenal my parents had to offer.

Another bad progress report.  I was failing math and gym.  Truthfully, I wasn’t good at math.  And what teenage girl in the entire world wants to be seen in front of all of her peers in a swimsuit?  My “excuses” fell on deaf ears.  This warranted more time in isolation.  I begged.  I pleaded.  Just this one Friday, and then I will begrudgingly accept my punishment.  I had surely earned it, after all.

I was berated for not trying hard enough.  “Are you lazy or stupid?  I can’t decide anymore.”  The words stung, like a clean slap across the face.  I lost my temper and started to storm up the stairs.  I called back to my father, “You’re an asshole.”

“Get your little ass back down here!”

I glanced backward to see the furious, crazy look in his eyes.  But, I was beyond caring.  I was beyond fear anymore.  I continued up the stairs as he screamed after me.  Do your worst.

“You little bitch, come down here and face me!” he challenged.

I did.  He grabbed my by my collar and snatched me up so close to his face that he spat every angry word at me.  “Come on.  Take a shot.  The first one is free.”

I knew better.  If I were to take the shot, that would justify any beating I would have received after that.  I was only 4’9″, and he towered over me at a grand 6’3″.  I was a little girl in comparison to this adult man.  I stared into his eyes defiantly, gnashed teeth and a snarl.  I never lost his gaze in that moment.  I refused.

With one twist of his arm, he dragged me down the last three stairs.  Violently, he pulled me into the air by my collar and thrust me into the kitchen wall.  I was terrified, but I would never show it.  I would not give him the satisfaction.  I looked behind him to see my mother standing there, doing nothing to help me.  She looked at me with these vindictive eyes and a satisfied face.  He screamed in my face about disrespect, what an ungrateful piece of shit I was, and how I didn’t even deserve all of the things they had given me.  I started to lose my air as my collar choked me.  I panicked, as I started to black out.  His words faded.  I closed my eyes.

Thud.  He dropped me three feet to the floor, and I hit the ground hard.  I crumpled onto myself as he stormed off.  I looked up at my mother who was looking down at me.  And without a word, she walked away.  My last hope of salvation had betrayed me.  And I curled into a ball and cried.

(This part I have to omit because it is going to be in a future installation of “The Friday Confessional”.)

After I had been dragged home, I took refuge in my room.  All hope was lost.  There was no escape.  There was no one who could save me from this.  There was only one way out.

I went into the medicine cabinet and grabbed an entire bottle of Advil and another of Tylenol.  I washed it down with another bottle of Nyquil and waited on the edge of the bathtub.  This was going to be my way out.  If God wasn’t going to come to my rescue, and the authorities felt this was a gross exaggeration of the truth, then I would take matters into my own hands.  Let me be damned to eternal hell.  It couldn’t be much worse than this.

I filled the tub and waited some more.  I undressed.  This should make the cleanup convenient, I thought to myself.  I sure didn’t want my death to be a major inconvenience.   Everyone would celebrate my departure.  Everyone would be happier without me.

Botched.  I woke up a few hours later and crawled into my bed for warmth.  And I slept for over 24 hours.  No one took any kind of note at the missing medications or my inexplicable hypersomnia.

That was the first in dozens of attempts to take my own life.  At the young age of thirteen.  The idea of suffering the abuse and neglect of my parents for the next five years until I was a legal adult was too much to bear.  And I was absolutely convinced that I would be dead by my seventeenth birthday at the rate I was going.  I had tried so many times that I eventually started calling it, “Flirting with Suicide”, just because there was something of a romance between it and me.

And every single attempt was the best I could possibly manage with the materials provided.  I suppose a person can call that parasuicidal if they choose.  Maybe it was.  I’m not sure anymore.

I’m nearly twenty-eight now.  All of that was nearly fifteen years ago.  And the last time I attempted suicide was over a year ago, a few days before I started writing As the Pendulum Swings.  In that year, I learned that I had a relapse back into a more serious cervical cancer.  And it dawned on me that there was a possibility that I could one day die from it.  I had resigned myself to life.  If I couldn’t die on my own terms, a survivor of multiple attempts, then I would live.

In the end, I chose to live.

What are some risk factors for nonfatal suicide attempts?

  • As noted, an estimated 11 nonfatal suicide attempts occur per every suicide death. Men and the elderly are more likely to have fatal attempts than are women and youth.1
  • Risk factors for nonfatal suicide attempts by adults include depression and other mental disorders, alcohol and other substance abuse and separation or divorce.5,6
  • Risk factors for attempted suicide by youth include depression, alcohol or other drug-use disorder, physical or sexual abuse, and disruptive behavior.6,7
  • Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention. A person who appears suicidal should not be left alone and needs immediate mental-health treatment.

Educate yourselves.  Realize that every suicide attempt is serious and should be treated immediately.  Realize that suicidal gestures, ideation, and plans are all extremely serious and significant.  And find the courage to find yourself, a family member, or a friend immediate treatment.  Suicide is completely preventable when people are educated.

Thank you for reading.  Take care.

The Friday Confessional : First Edition

Thanks to C, writer at Seasons Change and So Have I, I have taken on the idea of the Friday Confessional.  There’s something so cleansing about it.  I am not Catholic, nor have I ever been.  But, I can see why confessional is an important part of their Christian denomination.

October 25, 2000

It was quite an eventful day.  Not even a week earlier, I had come out to a teacher about my cutting that had gone on in secret for two and a half years.  I was on psychiatric suspension until I was able to see a doctor.  I suppose that was probably a punishment that was meant for my parents.  Their only respite from me was school.  It was likely intended to force them into seeking treatment for me, rather than ignoring the problem, as I confessed in that principals office.  They had known about it for more than a year at that point.  And it was my father’s taunts about it that gave me the little white scar with two teeth just under the freckle on my left forearm.  That was the nasty gash that led me to this very day.

My mother cautioned me before we left.  “Don’t say anything crazy, or else they’ll put you in inpatient.”  I was going to an inpatient facility for outpatient care.  It was twenty minutes away from my home, and filled to the brim with all likes of troubled kids, far worse than me, from all around the area.  I heard the horror stories of that place from friends that had complete meltdowns and whose parents were scared out of their wits.  “I roomed with this girl who had fifty stitches around her neck.  She tried to slit her own throat.”  Talk about cutting.  I was an amateur digging at my wrists with a dull steak knife.

My father was a bastard the whole way there.  I always hated being in the car with him.  It felt like I was trapped, forced to listen to him go on and on about whatever was grinding his gears, usually me.  It seemed like there was something I had done or not done that set him off on a raging tangent.  Today, it was the fact that I was going to therapy.  “This is a waste of fucking time and money!  I’ve been in therapy for 20 years, and do you know what it got me!?  A fat sack of nothin’!  So wish in one hand and shit in the other, girl!  See what fills up faster!”  At least I can say that he was memorable in those states.

It didn’t matter.  That day was about me.  It was the overdue response to all of my distress calls.  They took to prepping me in the car.  I was not to say anything about the family.  I was not to smack talk anyone, or else I was going to get taken away.  If I lied or exaggerated in any way, they’d go to jail, and my brother would be put in a home.  It would be all my fault that they broke up our family.  The fate of the family was in my hands now, and I’d better now screw it up, or else I’d never be forgiven.  They would leave me to rot in a foster home.  Eighteen was still two years away for me.  Two years is a long time in your teens.

We arrived, and I was greeted by a woman who looked to be about my mother’s age.  She was thin and had bright eyes.  Her name was Dr. H, but she preferred Ann.  I was hesitant.  It was impolite to refer to any adult by their first name.  It was a sign of disrespect.  She handed my mother a huge stack of paperwork and told me to come right in when my mother was finished.  My mother looked through the stack, and then started thoughtfully.  I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t signing my own consent, and then I realized I wasn’t of age yet.  It looked too large to be consent.  My mother leaned in to me and asked, “You don’t torture animals, do you?”

I was astounded that she even asked!  What the hell was on that form?!  She explained it was just an assessment, and that there would be ridiculous questions on there.  Some kids were a lot worse than me, she noted.  Clearly.

I went into her office, and it smelled like lavender.  The lights were dimmed, a candle was lit, and there was an inviting sofa with pillows and a blanket next to her desk.  “How are you feeling?”  I burst out crying.  I couldn’t stop.  I spilled everything.  All of my misery and isolation fell from my eyes and mouth into her lap.  I purged, like word vomit, until I felt empty again.

She told me, “This isn’t your fault.  You have a disorder.”  It was a relief.  All of these years, I had known that I wasn’t like other children.  Children aren’t sad and scared.  People don’t go around crying every single day of their lives, wishing they were dead.  She continued to explain was Major Depressive Disorder was, and assured me that I would see a doctor about getting medicine for relief.

“Will I have to be on this medicine for the rest of my life?” I asked.

“Sometimes, medication is just a crutch until you can get better.”

Famous last words.  (I’m on five psychiatric medications as of right now.)

I went home and went to bed.  Bed was home.  Bed was the only safe place there was in the entire world.

My boyfriend showed up later, and we went out to celebrate his eighteenth birthday.  When we came home later, everyone was gathered in the living room.  My mother announced to me, “We’re taking your father to the hospital.  We think he had a heart attack.  Your grandmother is coming to watch you.”

Fine by me.  My boyfriend and I went into the game room in the basement and had sex again.  He stayed pretty late, as my mother announced he had to go into emergency open heart bypass.  And all I could think to myself was, “Good.  I hope he dies on that table.”

Taunts of Absolution : 30 Days of Truth

Day 4 : Something you have to forgive someone for.

In years past, my relationship with my parents was far beyond dysfunctional. Although we are building a mutually respectful relationship as adults, I do not feel as if I am considered a daughter. I am a family friend, the mother of their grandson. That extraordinarily detrimental relationship created a schism too great to have a distinct parent-child relationship. I have resigned myself to the notion that I will never be my parents daughter, and they will never be my mother and father.

I have touched upon the subject in prior posts, One Day, I’m Going to Grow Wings, Spitting Fire, and The Real Demons. Mostly, I fear I will remain unable to absolve them of the responsibility for the suffering they caused me, directly and indirectly.

I have to question every aspect of my childhood. The problem arises, because I don’t remember the greater majority of my childhood prior to age twelve. I could never figure out the reason for such an impenetrable block. It was only very recently that I discovered the numerous reasons for such incredible repression.

My brother has moderate autism. My mother was a raging alcoholic. And my father is a war veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As if that wasn’t dysfunctional enough, it accumulated into an overall bad home life. I have fragmented memories, drudged up by raising my own son.

My father was largely absent prior to age twelve. Most of his time was spent in the psychiatric ward in the Veteran‘s Affairs Hospital. And when he released back home, he isolated himself from the family. I was far too young to understand what was happening. All I knew was that my daddy was sick, and he was never going to get any better. To me, it felt like my daddy didn’t love me. He didn’t love any of us.

required special accommodations. I was lonely, and felt as if I were nonexistent to them. Completely transparent in their world. I did everything I could for recognition. My grades were perfect, and my standardized scores were well into the 98th percentile. I had taught myself my instrument in one summer and My parents were busy handling my brother. He had special needs that ]gained first chair. My attendance in Sunday School was spotless, and I was a devout Episcopalian. What more could a parent ask for in their own daughter?

All of these achievements bred resentment among my classmates, and they alienated me from their social groups. My mother made it crystal clear when I was just a little girl that she had no desire to play with me. My brother was nowhere near my level of functioning to participate in games. I spent many nights in solitude, alone in my room with only my dolls and stuffed animals.

When I began middle school, I finally began to make friends. It was the best thing that ever happened to me! Finally, I wouldn’t be so alone. I was incredibly enthusiastic about the prospect of friendship and all of the wonderful kinship it entailed.

It was short lived. Only a year later, I began to suffer my first symptoms of bipolar disorder.

And that is the precise time my father emerged from his decade long hibernation. The man was disgusted with everything about me. He was certainly a far cry from shy about vocalizing his opinions. The criticisms ranged from my appearance, to my friends, to my music, and my hobbies. I was hurt. It was more evidence to strengthen my theory of his lack of love for me, as I was, instead of his idea of me.

I was also enraged. Who was he to come bursting into my life after so many years of absence?

He was merciless in his punishments. The greater majority of my teen years were spent incarcerated in the very same room I was isolated in as a girl. These were typically for minor infractions – “talking back” (which I considered to be expressing an opinion), disrespect, messy room, “feigning illness”, lying, etc. All because I wanted some independence and to assert myself as an individual.

In heated arguments, he would rough me up. He was careful not to do this when my mother was around, or leave any evidence. One time, I called him an asshole. Insistently, he got in my face and demanded I take a free swing at him. I refused. It would only provide him with an opportunity to lay his hands on me.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. He grabbed my throat in one hand and pinned me against the wall, and lifted me high into the air. I tried to scream, but there was not enough air in my lungs. He screamed in my face, leaving me soaked in spit. He let me go, and I crumpled to the ground, nearly in tears.

I won’t cry. I won’t give him the satisfaction.

My mother found an even better excuse to take figurative and literal swings at me. She’d get belligerently drunk and deliberately provoke me. I would attempt escape, but there was nowhere to go. I wasn’t even allowed the privacy of a door on my room.

There was an instance where she followed me around the house, insulting me as I went. I begged her to leave me alone. I attempted escape to somewhere, anywhere I could possibly manage in the house. I ended up heading to my room, of course. She taunted me, saying, “You’re just a lot of fucking talk, you little bitch. I’ll teach you a lesson about that mouth of yours.”

She swung at me, and caught me across my right jaw. Instinctively, I pulled my right hand back, and swung down toward her face, backhanding her as hard as I could. Disoriented by the blow, she stumbled backward, nearly falling down a flight of stairs. (It wasn’t the first time, and wouldn’t be the last). I grabbed her arm and pulled her forward to standing.

A look of shock and malice spread across her face as she spewed, “Just wait until I tell your father.”

So many things were said. Hurtful, awful things.

My father:

This is not a democracy. This is a dictatorship, and I’m the dictator!

I wish you were never born!

How dare you defy me, you little bitch!

Go on! Run up to your room and play that gloomy noise you call music. I dare you to cut yourself! Cut to your hearts content, I don’t give a shit!

My mother:

You are the little bitch that ruined my life!

Go on out there and be the little slut that you are.

I am ashamed to even take you out in public.

If it weren’t for you, your father and I would never fight. You’re going to tear our family apart. I hope you’re happy.

These haunting words still have a faint echo in certain corridors of my mind.

– Staind

I cried out for help. I was dismissed as spoiled, going through a phase, and attention-seeking. I did need attention. By the time I was in high school, I had attempted suicide twice and was cutting at least weekly. And still, they turned a blind eye to it. I had to force their hand to get the help I needed. I can’t help but feel if they were more involved, they would have noticed my behavior was amiss. They failed to get me diagnosed correctly.

For a great duration, I held them accountable for my screwed up mind. In my eyes, all of the neglect and abuse made me crazy. I went on to have dysfunctional and abusive relationships. I was devoid of self-esteem and vulnerable. My baggage would have been too much to check at the airport.

As I have grown, I have come the realization that certain things were beyond their capacity for parenting. They could not have been better parents, given the circumstances. It’s not as if there weren’t moments where they tried. By that point, the damage had been done.

I have tried desperately to forgive them for those awful behaviors. But, each time I find myself getting close, another hurtful experience comes to pass, reviving old memories that I relive in my mind over and over again. Some scars will never fade. I can never forget. But perhaps, one day, I will have the capacity to forgive all of their wrongdoings.

The Scorpion and the Frog

In one of my previous posts, The Family Furnace, I described a situation happening with my family, and came to some conclusions about the situation.

What I failed to mention is the circumstance of the situation.

Prior to the last month, I had lived in one of my family’s properties for six years.  I went to live there in the summer of ’06 after I was facing certain eviction from my apartment.  When my parents heard about that predicament, they offered to help me fix up the property, so we (my ex and I) could live there.  In preparation for our arrival, the bathroom was completely gutted.  The only bedroom with a remaining ceiling was plastered, and an extension cord was run from their house to mine.

Temporary patches to a desperate situation.  Which became more critical as time passed.

The house was fatally flawed.  Winter started to approach, and I started to inquire as to how I was going to get heat.  I was told that I faced thousands of dollars of work, replacing the furnace, hiring professionals to install a furnace, water heater, and rewire the entire house in order for it to be up to code with the electricity company.  It took me by surprise.  The only other option was to improvise.

I lived in one room with a futon mattress in the corner, and a kerosene heater in the middle of the room.  The floors were bare, and the house was not insulated.  My ex had the place covered in garbage, wrappers, used glasses, empty bottles, etc.  Essentially, we were squatting in a hobo house.  The only luxury we had was running water, but it wasn’t hot.  The rest of the house was so cold that the water in the toilet would occasionally freeze.

When I was not thinking about the misery of the weather, I brainstormed ideas on how to improve my life. That’s when I discovered that constantly wearing a hat increases body temperature, but has the unfortunate side effect of making me dirtier with sweat.  I learned how to warm a bowl of water over a kerosene heater so I could sponge bathe.  I also came to the conclusion that this was rock bottom.

The obsessions started.  When those thoughts were not enough to occupy my mind, I considered all of the ways that I could die.  Exposure.  The constantly recurring infections I picked up from unsanitary living conditions, chronic health problems, and a weak immune system from inadequate housing.  I could die in my sleep from asphyxiation due to the kerosene heater.  Even better, I could be consumed by smoke and fire.

After living without heat through a Pennsylvania winter, I learned to appreciate the basics of life that others often forget about.  The essentials of life are not guaranteed, and sometimes, we are forced to fight for them.  I count my blessings each day to not be cold, hungry, and dirty.

However, I still have a problem counting my other blessings.  Particularly with people in my life.  I often find that I have difficulty letting go of wrongs and seeing clearly in the present without the past forming a cloud over it.  I despite being left to fend for myself, getting kicked out of the house that I poured thousands of dollars of time, manpower, and money into that pit, and all of the rest of things in the past, I was set on putting the past in the past, and working toward a better future with my parents.

I came to the realization that my parents were never parents when I was a child.  What would possibly make them such now that I’m an adult?  True, I have a Mommy and Daddy complex, so badly that I accidentally married a man under false pretenses of not being like my father, when it turns out that he is.  Worse, I spend time daily obsessing about the similarities between my mother and me.  And the worst, I attempt to find family in other people.

But, all of that is fine.  One day, I will be able to resolve that.  But, I knew that if I dropped the inexplicable unreachable expectations, maybe it would possible to move forward as friends.  Seeing as how we have had some time and space, literal and figurative.

I made an effort to drop my suspicions and stop reading into things my mother says to me.  We actually had a good conversation, and I was happy with her offer to clean out my refrigerator.  I was ready to resign my key to her when she asked.  She was excited to hear that we were stopping by in the evening, and she couldn’t wait to see Beast (my son).

We did stop by in the evening.  When I asked if she would mind watching him for twenty minutes so we could go to the store, she attempted to make up some lame excuses.  Her voice was noticeably displeased, although she was completely enthusiastic less than twelve hours ago.

I noticed that I accidentally left my keys at home, and requested Zen’s (hubby).  He put up a fight, and I became extremely frustrated, feeling as if this was going to become a serious battle.  Yes, my mother brought up the refrigerator, but never requested the key exactly.  My parents were pleasant enough.

Until we were going to cross the street to leave.  We were about to climb into the car when my father called after me.  “Hey, when are you going to have the rest of your stuff out?”  I carefully explained that we’ve been taking serious and unexpected financial hits, and we’ve had to take it weekly in our PT Cruiser.  That’s when he dropped the bomb of complete betrayal.  “Well, I need to get in there so I can fix the place up and have it rented out by winter.”

My mother had lied to me.  She told me that it would be impossible to have it rented due to the numerous code violations that stood between them and a renters permit.  My family was passively-aggressively bounced so they could turn a profit.  And, I was stung by the memories of living in abject poverty while they stood by.  The memory of spending my last two months of pregnancy alone, because my husband was fixing the house.  And all of the money siphoned out of our account by $700 electricity bills in the winter and repairs to every emergency situation that happened to that place.

Betrayal could never be enough of a word to cover all of the emotion coursing through every nerve and vein.  I was stung, and the venom made me lightheaded and nearly paralyzed.  I climbed in the car and assured him that we would do so swiftly.

I was quiet for a few minutes.  Zen asked, “What’s wrong?”

I replied, “It’s unbelievable.”

Zen said everything under the sun to try to make me feel better.  He attested how it would be impossible for them to get it rented, because nobody in their right mind would take it.  Even so, they would never be able to do it legally.  We could vindictively turn them in to the township, or repossess the furnace in the middle of the night.

“I’d rather draw up that contract for the furnace that they will inevitably default on, and have to drag them into magisterial court.  There would be nothing more embarrassing, and it would cost them more money,” I insisted.  Still, it was nice that he would go out of his way to settle my vendetta.

I asked, “Wait, why aren’t you upset?”

“Are you surprised?”

When I made certain promises to the man upstairs (my higher power), I asked him to give me a sign as to what I should aim for.  He responded, “Put others before yourself.” The problem is the inability to accurately anticipate wants and needs outside of the basics.  I assumed that my higher power would want me to forgive and start over with my parents.  But, after some thinking, I came to a realization.

There is a parable about a scorpion and a frog.  At the end, the scorpion betrays the frog’s trust.  When asked why, he could only reply, “Because it’s in my nature.”  Sometimes, we have to be reminded that there are ugly truths in the world.  And sometimes, things are exactly as they seem.  My gut reaction when my mother asked for the key was that she was intending on pilfering belongings she did not expect that I would miss.  Zen admitted that was the reason he withheld his key.  He knew better than I did, because my mind was clouded with optimism.

Optimism can be just as dangerously perilous as pessimism.  We can be misled into believing in the best in people, when it just simply nonexistent.  I realized that I am not a scorpion, and I didn’t have to be the frog either.  Instead, I know better than to play the game.  It is the exact reason why I am put off by gambling.  There is too much risk to be manipulated into losing it all.

I resign myself of that life.  And just because I can’t have the relationship that I want with certain people doesn’t mean I am unable to have a relationship at all.  I don’t have to hang onto the past to remind me to not let it repeat.  I only have to keep one piece of it, the least poisonous as a reminder.