Burdens…

I’m losing all ability to stay in control. My mind is racing and I’m questioning everything about myself. I used to like who I was. Completely in control and confident in myself and my roles. I was an amazing wife who kept a beautiful home. I was told I was a great mother over and over, that I ran a tight ship and my kids were so well behaved and polite and smart. I wasn’t afraid of paving my own path and doing my own thing and bucking the system here or there to prove I could be different from where I came from. I was proud of who I was.

I didn’t know what was lurking inside of me. I didn’t know I was a fraud and a fake. I didn’t know I was a shell around a ticking time bomb of dysfunction. I didn’t know that really, I was just like them. I have made mistakes. I have done horrible things. I think I have destroyed people’s lives for the sake of trying to save my own. I didn’t know my actions were because I so desperately needed to be seen and be loved. No one stopped me and told me they cared. I was told to just conform and let it all go. They looked the other way. And now, they don’t even look at me at all.

I didn’t know I would become the greatest burden I never wanted to be. I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to keep it together. I didn’t know I wasn’t fit to be a good mother. I didn’t know I wasn’t good enough to keep my husband faithful. I didn’t know I wasn’t worth the time or effort to be loved and honored and cared for. I didn’t know feelings weren’t acceptable. I didn’t know I would be so rejected. I didn’t know my brain would fail me and deceive me. I didn’t know my heart would either. I didn’t know!

If I had known, I would have never brought children into this world. I would have never gotten married. I would have never adopted another child. I would have never tried to confront those who have hurt me. I would have never attempted to heal. I would have never become the burden that I am right now. I would have never allowed myself to lose control.

I didn’t know I was weak. I didn’t know I wasn’t worth anything. I didn’t know I didn’t matter. I didn’t know I couldn’t be different. I didn’t know I couldn’t be better. I didn’t know I was invisible. I didn’t know I couldn’t endure. I didn’t know I couldn’t be me and everything else they wanted me to be. I didn’t know I would need to be known. I didn’t know I needed to be listened to. I didn’t know I needed to be loved. I just didn’t know…and now that I know, I feel like the burden I never wanted to be.

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My Soul Cries Out…

Outside my body is numb. Motionless. Expressionless. But inside my heart is sobbing. It aches. It mourns. It pounds in agony…over and over…like a fist hammering in desperate rhythm when words are trapped inside. With each beat of my heart its blood stained tears pulse and course through my veins and the despair is felt in my entire being.

This feeling has become my norm. It sits on my shoulders and weighs me down. I continually try to lift it off and set it aside but it grabs my hair and wraps its ankles around my back locking itself in place. It’s comfortable up there. It doesn’t want to leave or get down. It just wants to sit. Forever. Looking out at the world it feels like it never belongs in.

We go about our day as one. I pretend I’m strong and perfectly ok and prove to the world my resolve is greater than this weight on my shoulders. But lately, my strength is deteriorating. My shoulders are tense and sore. My back is aching right along with my soul. My smile has faded and my breaths become labored as I fight to stand up straight. My eyes look down and away from the world I feel like I never belong in.

I collapse into bed at the end of my day hoping to find rest and relief. But this feeling, it breathes down my neck, it whispers in my ear, it twists it’s fingers up through my hair and plays with my mind as it tries to go to sleep. It tells me stories of hope in a different world…one I always thought was the darkest path to take. But the lure of something new with no pain to feel, and freedom from it’s weight, soothes my soul.

As I drift off to sleep God sometimes intervenes and untangles the grip my thoughts have on me. I make it to the morning. I try putting on a new outfit that doesn’t coordinate with the yesterdays, but like a monkey trapped in a cage with only one place to go, this feeling climbs up my legs, grabs my shoulders and heaves itself right back up again, twisting and locking his legs, securing itself in place. The weight is felt at once and my heart sobs once again.

My eyes look out to the world and my soul cries out in desperate attempts to get me to run to the freedom this feeling continually whispers about. But the weight is too heavy and I can no longer move. My body goes numb and my fists take form. Someday, they hope to have the strength to pound like my heart, refusing to be in this place anymore. But for now, my eyes look down and away from the world I feel like I never belong in and this feeling looks out from it’s perch as I put on my mask waiting for the day to end once again.

Tiny Little Ghosts…

The smell of smoke is potent and it draws me out of my sleep, I pull myself out of bed, every time, fearing the house is burning down, but can never find where the fire is. The doorbell rings and startles me out of my sleep or my thoughts, in that moment I freeze, never brave enough to go see who might be there. I’m numb, and my body is stiff, I cannot move but my mind races a million miles a minute and my heart pounds out of my chest. Sometimes, I’ll wait hours before regaining a sense of peace that there is no one standing on the other side, waiting for me to answer.

I screamed and cried out in my sleep the other night “STOP!” “I don’t like doing this…” “no, no, NO!” and “Can we please just go home..?” I try to wake up and speak again as he pulls on my arm but I fight and push and pull away. I’m silenced and scared and no words can come out. They violently try to push and punch their way to freedom but they are too tangled in the web of excruciating fear. My body panics and my mind shouts and screams yet no words or sounds ever escape.

When I drive out of my neighborhood, there are two ways I can go. One way leads me to drive past the restaurant where he began his last affair. The other direction leads me down a path he walked with her hand in hand one night while I was waiting for him in our bed. I automatically dart my eyes but my body knows the hurt is still there. I’m trapped in the middle. I can never get away. I cry. I sigh. I wonder. I get sick. I push it all away. I’ll never be good enough anyway.

I can hear the whimpers and crying in pain. I feel the shards of glass all over my body, in my clothes and hair, and the cold dampness from my pants on my skin. I see his bloody, contorted face and his twisted, mangled body when I close my eyes. I hear my Dad’s laugh and my sister’s voice of casual indifference. When hot tears roll down my cheeks they look at me and roll their eyes…telling me I’m overdramatic once again. I feel shame and fear and guilt because it was me that wanted to go there in the first place.

The taste and smell of alcohol transports me to a weird emotional world of anger, frustration, and disgust. The smell of cigarette smoke makes me want to throw up. The shrill, shrieking sound of a referee’s whistle blowing sends chills up my spine and I can feel his hand on my head, through my hair, around my neck, and his thumb touching my cheek. My face gets warm, my legs tense up, my mouth feels dry.

When I drift off to sleep I startle and panic when I feel his touch. I wait in frozen silence as I wonder what is coming next. This time it’s only a gentle kiss goodnight. But sometimes, that’s where it all begins. It’s the beginnings and middles and sometimes the ends that trail around behind me, following me, shaming me, guilting me, scaring me…floating in and out of my consciousness unsuspectingly, tormenting and haunting me…like tiny little ghosts.

The Death Of Me…

Stay alive and die or take my life and die…?

Is there even a reason to stay? These thoughts get louder and louder and louder as the days go on…it’s a fierce battle within…question upon question…and I can’t get the volume to turn down. The pain is intense. I can’t turn it off. I don’t want it anymore. I’m tired. I’m alone. I’m dying inside. It’s slow and agonizing. Torture. This is hell. This must be hell. How do I get out of here?

I find it hard to understand how I will ever be able to escape from this madness in my life. It permeates everything. EVERYTHING. “Keep fighting.” “Keep going.” “You’ve made it this far, don’t give up now.” WHY NOT? What am I even going to gain in this battle I am in? There’s nothing to gain. I have lost so much already and will continue to lose. What is there left to fight for?

I don’t even know how to live a normal life. I don’t even know what normal is. My normal is messed up, twisted, hard, pathetic, exhausting, and hopeless. I’m afraid I won’t even recognize “normal” if it hit me upside the head. And who defines normal anyways? What am I striving for? My whole life others have been defining my normal. Do I have a normal? Do I even get to make that choice ever as to what my idea of normal is and live it out?

I’ve never had choices. I’ve thought I had choices but I’m eventually reminded that what I wanted or desired or felt didn’t matter, only what others wanted of me, that’s all that mattered. That’s the extent of my worth. That’s what I’ve been taught. Over and over and over. I have no say in my life. I never have.

I want my life returned back to me. Is that selfish? I’ve been told I’m selfish when I fight for a voice or want to do what’s right for me. I want to make my own choices and choose what’s best for me. I guess that sounds selfish, but I don’t see how sitting through this agony is best. I don’t see how I’m useful or contributing to this world. I want to go. I want to get out. I want peace. I want quiet. I want the pain to stop. I want the nightmares to end. I just want to sleep. Forever.

I’m not living right now. I’m dying and I’m giving up. I’m going to die anyway. I will die someday. Right? So why not die the way I choose to die? Why go through this torture and live in this hell? Can I at least have that choice in my life? Probably not.

The Number Red…

A soft white glow surrounds from all sides. I feel myself resting on the bed, my naked body shivering cold. My tiny wrists bound above my head. I writhe in fear and try to cry out but my voice has been stolen. My tongue is dry from the cloth shoved in my mouth. I tried to get away. I’m stunned into silence and stillness. My face burns like fire as my head whips to the side from the force of his hand. I don’t understand what is happening to me. I must have done something terribly wrong.

Daddy stop….please no…Daddy please no….

I don’t like what’s happening. How did I get to this place? Why can’t I move? Is this a dream? The red numbers on the clock gleam behind your arms. You growl with anger and everything begins to fade. All feeling is lost as I see your body tower over mine like a silverback in his protective stance.

Hello? Who is that standing in the doorway…? HELP!!

The numbers on the clock are a blurry mess of red. Hot tears flow as I shiver uncontrollably. The wet sheet sticks to my cheek. My eyes roll further back and I am lost in the trees through the window, surrendered and frozen in time once again…the world fades back to black. She didn’t rescue me.

Dear Baby Sister…

Two weeks ago your baby turned three. We had such a fun day celebrating her. She beamed when she awoke and found her playroom covered in streamers and balloons. She belly laughed with excitement when we sang “Happy Birthday to you…” She squealed with delight repeating over and over “for me..??” with each little gift she opened. We told her about birthdays and she had imagined in her head what hers would be like. We knew we had high expectations to fill for her. I think we did well and met every single one her little heart desired.

I was sad on that day too, though. I thought about you often. I wondered what you were thinking and knew I could not even imagine the heartache you must have been feeling knowing you could not enjoy her day with her. My heart ached for you too. I thought a lot about your last words to me…“you are not her mother, you will never be her mother!!” I thought about the countless times you have blamed me for your failures and accused me of stealing your only child. I felt guilty beyond measure and I hurt for you and your loss.

I miss you, baby sister. You were my best friend. I’ve missed you since the day you ran away from home 22 years ago. I cried for you in my bed when no one knew where you were for weeks on end. I cried again a year later when I visited you for the first time in rehab. Our conversation was awkward. I didn’t know what to say or how to help you, I was hurting too. I just didn’t know what we had gone through wasn’t normal. I didn’t know what we did together ourselves was wrong. We were just little girls. I didn’t know I was supposed to protect you. All I knew for sure was that I wanted you back.

Throughout the years you also broke my heart. You made promises and didn’t keep them. I tried to let you know how special you were to me and how much I wanted you in my life. I was disappointed when you ran away again and bailed on attending my first daughter’s baptism. I had chosen you to be her Godmother. I had to find someone else to stand in at the very last second when you never came. Why did you do that? I eventually became used to you not showing up, though. I expected it. I even empathized with you and was proud of your self awareness to not be around my family when you were in no condition to be an example to my children. It still made me sad, though. I always thought you’d be the perfect “cool Aunt.”

Your addictions have taken you over. Drugs and alcohol have become your best friends now and your way to cope with your pain. You seem to have no control anymore. In some ways, I can relate to this. I feel crazy and out of control everyday. I wish I could tell you why and I wish you could tell me your story too. You blame me for ruining your life. You blame “the system” for setting you up to fail. We all tried so hard to help you. I hoped this baby of yours would be a turning point for you. You were so excited and I know you loved her. You were so proud of her, always asking me “what do you think of her..?”  But she wasn’t enough motivation for you.

I wish you would stop letting her Dad beat you and abuse you. I wish you would run away. I know your choice to leave is so hard. You are far too deep in a hole to do it yourself and you can’t find the strength to stay away. I understand completely. I want to leave too but I too am scared. You think I am perfect and you resent the life I now have. I know that makes you angry. But, I’m just like you…stuck in a world so tangled and dark that I cannot see how it could possibly be any better or different. It has sucked me in too. I’m just better at hiding it. I cope alone in secret.

I want you to know I love you. I want you to know that your baby is safe with me. I know my life is full of crap like yours. It’s different crap, but it’s there, and I won’t let it get in the way of her flourishing in life. I know I fought to adopt her out of foster care against your wishes, even with all this crap…if you only knew how counterintuitive it felt. I know you wanted her to stay with Mom and Dad so she wasn’t so far away from you. But I know things about them that I don’t think you remember. I’m just beginning to remember myself and realize we were not ok. They are not the god’s they make themselves out to be. They were awful to us. They still are. I don’t want one more child to have to endure what I, and maybe you, did. I blame them for your addictions and your pain sometimes. I couldn’t let it happen again. Not to your baby. No way. She’s a little shining star and so, so sweet.

I will fiercely protect her. I will love her like we never were. Whatever path my life takes in the coming years, I will put her needs first before mine. I will fight every battle for and with her. I will always let her know that she matters and is loved because I know that that is what we both so deeply desire ourselves. I am praying for you. I did not steal your baby. Someday I hope you will understand that I saved her.

Winter…

His hand moved toward my face and his thumb rested on my cheek, fingers wrapped around the back of my neck. He pulled on the sleeve of my red jacket and laid me down. The snow was falling. I watched it through the window of the car door in the orange glare of the light post. I felt the cold fake leather of the front seat on the back of my head where my hair was parted. My head pressed up against the armrest of the door.

His cold finger penetrated my body…his belt buckle jingled. The snow…the fat flakes drift down from the sky. They dance in the light and swirl and twirl in circles around each other. It’s peaceful and quiet out there and I too drift away with each and every flake into another world.

Is this a dream? Can I even trust my own mind? Where is this coming from? Daddy? What are you doing? ? What did I do wrong…?

Oh God…what is this? I feel so crazy. Am I making this up? Take this away from me. I need the snowflakes again…please..give me snowflakes…

Run Wild, Live Free…

I cower in fear in the corner of my mind. I’ve been beaten and battered and twisted and tattered so many times this is my safe place. Stay back. Stay quiet. Don’t feel. Don’t move. It’s too dangerous. I feel trapped…even though I’m not.

Freedom is an elusive thought for me. I don’t even know what it means or what it looks like. How can I know if I even want it? At least here in this corner I know what to expect and I know how it feels and I know how to self soothe. Go out into the world? Run? What are you even talking about?? That’s “crazy talk.” That’s for brave people. Not me. I don’t belong out there. I don’t deserve that.

I’m like a caged animal. I’m not under anyone’s control anymore and my door is open to go out but I can’t. I’m too scared. I’m afraid I’ll be alone…even though I’ve never felt more isolated and as lonely as I do now. I’m afraid I’ll fail. I’m afraid to tell my story and live out in the world free of the pain I’ve been in. It’s terrifying. But I want it SO badly. But I can’t. No one would understand why I walked away. Would anyone even believe me? Everyone else has been trained to see the facade he’s built as well. I would be the crazy one. But no one knows, that right now, I’m already crazy inside my head. Maybe the freedom takes the crazy away. But what if I’m hurt again? I can’t take anymore. I just can’t.

I’m numb. I can’t move. I can’t even get the words so desperately needing release out of that corner of my mind. I pray to God to help me. But does He even hear me?

God? Are you there? HELP! Give me strength to endure my own emotions. Understanding and wisdom to see how you will use this for good. Patience to be still and learn. And love…help me understand your love…your perfect and pure love. I don’t know how to receive it. Father, take my hand. I’m too afraid. I don’t know where I’m supposed to go or what I’m supposed to do. My hurt is deep. My fear is strong. You know this. I need you…

Gasping For Air…

It’s been three weeks since I set this space up. I want to use it to get things out of my head and in to the open. But ironically, the secrets stay stuck inside of me. And even more ironic, this doesn’t reveal the real me…it’s just disclosure in secret. Secrets. Everywhere. I hate secrets. They represent darkness, isolation, hurt, and fear to me. All things I want so desperately to gain freedom from.

I’ve lived in a world too painful to ever tell. I’ve lived with relationships too hurtful and humiliating and shameful to ever show their reality. I’ve lived in darkness for as long as I can remember and sometimes not even knowing that the darkness was even there. I’ve been lied to, betrayed, abused, rejected, and misled. I’ve been taught that my worth and ability to be loved lies within earning it, being controlled, manipulated, agreeable, or looking a certain way.

The person I thought I was has crumbled all around me into a big messy heap and exposed more of who I feel I really am sometimes. I’ve been hiding…wearing a mask of strength, steadiness, perfection, and order. But underneath I really just feel weak, damaged, used, insecure, uncertain, and like a failure.

I need freedom from the hurt. I need life returned to me. I need air in my lungs. I want to believe that I’m ok. But I feel like I can’t breathe.

God? Where are You?? Why so much ugliness? Why so much pain? Why so much confusion? Why so much loneliness? Why so much fear inside of me that even You don’t love me like You say You do? I’m fighting to follow You and bask in Your grace and glory but the darkness sits inside and holds on to me like a prisoner held in place by chains…