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.

Stuck…

I had a conversation today that left me feeling weird. Unsettled. Like I was more stuck than I actually felt I was to begin with. I can’t pinpoint exactly what spun me out of control. In my world of chaos nothing seems to make sense. I try to process and address the issues that come up. But then something else barrels in that throws me off balance that I wasn’t expecting and I need to reprocess everything again. To make sense of it or try to understand, even if there is no way to do that. This sounds very vague, I know, but I want to believe there is someone out there that understands exactly what I’m saying.

Why is this a bad thing?? Trying to understand trauma and process it is hard. Especially when you don’t always believe yourself or have confidence in your own memories or experiences, past or present. When I have been taught over and over and over that my reality isn’t true, perceived correctly, or am manipulated to think my life is normal and nothing is out of sorts, why should I just assume when you tell me it’s not, or something that happens “was totally expected,” that your voice is the right one?

Because I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know it was going to happen or that it follows the pattern of abuse because I don’t always connect it as quickly and I don’t want to believe this is happening to me. I’m still learning this, remember? Why does it feel wrong for me to want to be sure about something before believing what you tell me? Why downplay my feelings in the moment and say something dismissive like I just need to “move on” or “focus on me?” Aren’t I doing that by trying to gain understanding? Is it really that hard to listen to me process out loud or revisit something again?

Maybe I just need to hear over and over and over that I’m not crazy. Maybe I need to hear more than 5 times (or 100) what the pattern of abuse is and that’s what was happening again. Maybe I need to hear it like it was the first time hearing it. Isn’t that how I learned to conform before all of this chaos began to emerge? Maybe it will take me 5 years of hearing this to really believe it when that information competes with 40 years of learning and hearing something different. Maybe I need to stay in this spot a little longer before “the next step” in my healing so I really understand what has happened and can begin to accept it because I feel really confused and unsure right now about everything. So why would I move to the next thing when I’m not even sure where I am in this moment?

Maybe after having a brain scan that verifies and validates I have trauma markers from the past and present was really a lot to absorb when all along I’ve been trying to find ways that I was wrong that this all existed. Maybe I need more answers to my questions about that because a ten minute explanation wasn’t really enough. Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is that I feel like I was hit by a truck two times this week, even though what happened in the first incident and what I learned in the second were both “expected.” But it doesn’t mean that it is as easy for me to move forward and move on as it is for you.

I still have voices in my head that yell at me from the past. And they still yell at me in the present to try and maintain control of me. I’ve just learned to recognize these voices. I’m still learning that maybe those voices are not what I’m supposed to be listening to or following. It’s a process. It’s my process. Sometimes I just need to revisit and reprocess and think about it again. Not because I’m trying to spin my wheels and stay stuck. But because I’m trying to spin them out of the mud, and sometimes that means moving backwards to reposition the wheels so the treads can grip something new to pull me out.

If Walls Could Talk…

If the walls that surround her could talk…they’d tell you this…

“There have been some who have hurt here before, but this one…she is lost, she has no hope. She’s confused and scared, ambushed by many, and she is cornered. Her eyes dart back and forth…she’s lost in her thoughts, unable to make sense of her world. She doesn’t know which way to turn or where to go. She’s alone. She has no one to hold her. Her husband leaves her feeling empty and cold. He is unsafe. There is no love or kindness from him. She cannot feel it.”

“She’s a child…but she’s not. She cries in her sleep and she screams out in terror. She lays still with eyes wide open, frozen, while the touch across her body transports her to a world of confusion and distress. As he moves about her, his words smooth and sly, the panic rises inside of her and she is overcome with anguish, no longer able to take anymore. She trembles and cries, curls up, and is unable to speak. He looks at her and says simply, “you’re ok…”  and turns over, leaving her, cold and alone again. He’s blinded by himself, she’s not ok, but he got what he wanted from her. She shakes, trying to gain control, and wonders what she did to deserve to be so hated. She wonders why she is so inadequate and if he’ll ever really see her. She feels used. Invisible. No one sees her. No one rescues her.”

“She escapes from her reality and cries out to God. She clings to the pages of His word, caressing them methodically back and forth, a momentary calm washes over her. Her peace disappears when they enter..searching for her companionship. She breathes deeply and returns to her tasks. She worries she does everything wrong. She feels like she’s failed as a mother. Her confidence is waning. Nothing she does satisfies her. She counts the minutes until her fingers can run across those smooth pages again. She is weary.”

“He sleeps soundly next to her, oblivious to her heartache and pain. Her chest heaves as she tries to breathe. Tears flow freely. The nights are hard for her. She’s afraid to sleep. Her pen moves furiously across pages and pages…pleading through unending prayers night after night. She finally relents and closes her eyes but her mind races still. She is so restless.”

“When the light peers in at dawn, he moves about in a fury and she startles out of her dreams. Her breaths are short and labored as her heart pounds through her chest. He leaves her and walks away in a rush. She sighs deeply. She’s a fighter. She rises again, embattled, though weak-kneed. Her shoulders hunch over somedays, weary of what’s ahead. She disappears into her day and we wonder if she is ok…there have been some who have hurt here before, but they have escaped. But she…she has no hope. She is confused and she’s scared. We surround her. We protect her. We hope for her because she can not.”

Please Rescue Me…

Dear God, today I’m not so sure we’re ok. I don’t understand what’s going on in my life or what it is you want me to do. Love my enemies. Surrender. Trust. Have faith. Develop a personal relationship? How can I? These buzz words and phrases I get tired of hearing. Tired of trying to achieve. I’m afraid I don’t measure up. I haven’t been praying as I usually do…does that offend you? Is my faith too weak and scattered? How can I be what you want if your standards are impossible to reach? I’m human. I don’t have the strength to handle what you’ve dealt me. It’s too much. My plate is full. It’s overflowing actually…it’s been dropped all over the floor and I’m crying over the mess of gunk I now have to clean up as well. I don’t know how to stand tall and reflect what you need me to because I feel like I am the epitome of darkness. My life is a mess. It wasn’t my plan. I tried to stop it but I failed. I tried to cover it but my blanket is too small. I’m trying to hide but exposure screams and beckons me like a fire does a moth but then it burns me up. Memories are flashing again and dreams are haunting and terrorizing me in my sleep. I don’t know what they mean. Why are they here again? What do I do? Where do I go from here? I have a million choices to make and I can’t hear your voice or know what you want me to do. I’m stuck. I’m lost. And I’m scared.

College Bound…

A violent bloodbath occurred in my entire inner being and my heart exploded into tiny, painful shards of emptiness as I hugged my son and told him with as much sincerity as I ever have that I loved him. I couldn’t even feel the anguish that was pulsing through my body because the intensity of this feeling was just too much to handle…it had been building up for weeks and I have been forcefully pushing it down each time it welled up. I knew if I looked him in the eyes I would lose the tiny shred of control I had left in me. I lowered my gaze and turned and walked away, heartbroken and empty.

I have an incredible sense of insecurity in all of my relationships. It seems as though every important being I have given the entirety of myself and all my trust to has turned against me with hurt and rejection tenfold. The few that have nurtured me, and I am invested in and proud of, I hold very close to me with a white knuckled death grip of determination to not lose the tiny bit of good that I receive from them in my life.

I fear I cannot handle any more loss in my life. And while this occasion was supposed to be one of happiness and joy, expectation and excitement, adventurous and liberating, it has left me, unexpectedly, with such a sadness that I can’t even describe. I wasn’t expecting this. I’ve been fighting for him to  get to this point, unscathed and in one piece; advocating for him and his ability to grow in his maturity, character, young adult wisdom, and wit. But amidst all that, all I want to do is crumple to the floor in despair at the thought that this baby of mine is gone, off to conquer the world and do great things.

Selfish me has a hole inside that needs to keep this precious one close so that hole does not spiral into an abyss of darkness where I fear I cannot get out. I can’t bear the thought of losing one more person in my life that I have loved so unconditionally. In my world of insecurities and uncertainties I want the relationships I have confidence in to stay close to me. It’s too hard to let them go when they are the only ones that keep me going in the midst of all the rest that break me down and kick me into a state of motionless defeat.

My children are my lifeblood. They keep me alive. I am so proud of them and who they are, even when they aren’t the greatest they can be. I love them with all of my being, even when I can’t find love for anything else. I am so proud and in love with this young man but so sad about this change and emptiness I must endure as he goes out and discovers the world with his own eyes without me. I didn’t think he would be the one who broke me down like this but I should have known…it’s always the ones I least expect that do.

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…