Cloud Passing: Closing the Book

Ugh, I don't really want to bring this up again, but I have to. It's what's on my mind, and it's what needs to be talked about for me before I can move on and talk about other things. It's why I haven't talked about anything else for over a month. It's essentially stalled me, on the writing front. So, let's get it over with, shall we? Nail in the coffin and be done with it, eh?

Bryon does this really amazing thing when I run off the rails. He asks me, “what can I do to help?” It’s really simple. In that moment, when I’m in cuckoo-land, having a meltdown, I can ask for anything in the world, and he’ll do it. He just makes it better. He knows that it focuses my brain into figuring out what I need, right then, to calm down.

For someone with bouts of depression and anxiety, it makes a world of difference. Sometimes, it’s a simple as realizing I need to just take steps to get out of that moment. Maybe, I need some tissues, then I need to wash my face, and then I need to be held until I get my breathing under control, and a drink of water. But, soon I need someone to listen to me, and help me work out what’s really bothering me. This makes me sound like a train-wreck, but it’s not on the daily, obviously.

A few weeks ago, he took a day off of work to spend some much-needed husband-wife time with me. It was weird to add the “with me” part, wasn’t it? Who else would he be with? Duh. Bryon’s job keeps him really busy, and has him traveling a lot more now. He’s more like a passing visitor that we occasionally see, than a fixture in our home these days. We like him, and we wish he was around more, but we understand that he can’t be. Those are the breaks when you’ve got an important guy in your midst. Still, he’s important to us too; so, he decided to take a day off for us.

About midday, unfairly, I got pouty. I had no reason to be. Nothing was wrong. But, then again, everything was wrong. It was one of those days. There’d been a rain cloud hanging over me, of late, that needed to be shed; and, that rain cloud: my family. Suddenly, I was in tears. Bryon had been asking me questions about my family, and what we should, ultimately, do about them. It turned our day sour, and before I knew it, I was blubbering. The most painful misconception, to me, that I believe my family has about me, is that none of this causes me pain.

He asked a simple question, “What could they do?”

It’s the same question that he asks me. It’s so simple. But, there are so many years there of misunderstandings, misconceptions, hurts, wrongs, abuse and pain. I’m sitting here now, in the same position that I’ve been in since I was a little girl. I’m the one who’s ruined everything. I’m the one who no one understands and everyone dislikes, the one who is selfish, self-centered and arrogant. At least, according to them. But, is there anything they could do?

Well, since age ten, I’ve grown as a person. Thus, I’m not prepared to return to a relationship where I’m still seen as the person they have labeled me as. Nor, am I prepared to return to a relationship where I’m continuously forced to accept less than I deserve, where I’m forced to be hurt and disappointed by a lack of understanding and compassion. I’ve been waving my arms in the air for almost forty years, in a distress signal, to the two people who should care the most about me, and I’m exhausted.

When I was about seven, my mom dragged me out of bed, after a particularly bad day of whatever argument we’d gotten into, and told me that she’d had enough. She pulled out the yellow pages and pointed out the phone numbers of all the boarding schools that she was prepared to send me to. She told me she’d already called some of them. She told me that I was ruining the family and that it was my fault that everyone was so unhappy.

I was hysterical, of course, and I kept scrambling down the stairs, from my upstairs bedroom, pleading not to be sent away, or trying to explain that I was sorry, or that I loved everyone so very much. I remembered writing in my journal, how much I wanted to be good, to be better, to be loved.

For a time, I thought maybe I’m crazy. Maybe my memories of my horrible childhood are skewed. I’ve got lots of memories that my mom claims are false…but she lies…a lot…right? She told people I was failing out of school. She told people I had a baby that died. Then, she checks with random sources to try to prove me “wrong.” Gaslighting me on my childhood memories wouldn’t be the craziest thing she’s ever done; and, frankly, she may not remember. She’s blocked out worse. I mean, who lets her vulnerable daughter stay overnight with her own abusive mother, and pedophile brother? And hell, it’s probably a team effort now. The group delusion protects everyone’s psyche, at this point. It’s easier to hate me, than to hate any part of themselves.

I began to think that maybe my memory of this journal where I wrote some my memories was wrong. So, when Bryon asked me that day, what he could do, I asked him to find my journal. I knew it was in one of the boxes in the garage, and I knew what it looked like. I even knew that the day of the boarding school incident, I wrote about it on a pink page. It was burned in my memory like fire.

All my journal entries when I was "in trouble," are about how I will try harder to be "good." It's actually quite sad, when you think about it. It's burned into this sad little girl's mind that she's not good enough, that if she just tries harder, her parents will love her and stop hitting her, stop telling her she's ruining everything. If only I could tell her that nothing she'll ever do will be enough for them. It doesn't matter how many times you stay in your room, they'll still hate you, sweet girl.

All my journal entries when I was "in trouble," are about how I will try harder to be "good." It's actually quite sad, when you think about it. It's burned into this sad little girl's mind that she's not good enough, that if she just tries harder, her parents will love her and stop hitting her, stop telling her she's ruining everything. If only I could tell her that nothing she'll ever do will be enough for them. It doesn't matter how many times you stay in your room, they'll still hate you, sweet girl.

Another day, mother gave me a bloody nose before church. We were running late, because she’d burned my ear with a curling iron. I’d screamed, and tried to pull away, when the curling iron hit my ear. She was so concerned with her girls having perfect, matching curls that she hit me when the prospect of a misplaced curl appeared on her radar, and yanked my face back into the burning iron. She didn't believe that I was being burned, simultaneously bloodying my nose, and further burning my ear. I vividly remember the day, because she told me, in the car, if I told anyone about it, she’d do it again. She loved the attention that we got for looking adorable with our curls, and wearing matching dresses that she made herself. Because I was no longer wearing a dress that matched Sara’s, having spoiled it with my bloody nose, she was pretty angry.

This entry isn’t from that day, but a different day I got smacked and bloodied. Apparently, I was sassy, and got smacked and got a bloody lip from it. When you get smacked enough, and bloody enough, often enough, that you write about it laissez-faire, as if it’s just part of the daily grind, that’s a pretty rough go.

Planted some terrariums, played with some kids, got a fat lip, you know, the usual.

Planted some terrariums, played with some kids, got a fat lip, you know, the usual.

The saddest entry in my childhood journal is this one, because my parents, especially my mom, called my sister many adorable names, such as Sara-Lamb and Tender-Heart. Sara was sweet and gentle to everyone in public, but we were, essentially, enemies, in private. It’s a pretty common scenario in siblings raised in abusive homes. Since I was often punished with having to write sentences, I pitifully self-inflicted writing sentences where I wanted to be a tender-heart, like my sister, if only for a drop of affection that was clearly being doled out on her.

It's like a fucking Lifetime movie of the week in just these three pages. For realz.

It's like a fucking Lifetime movie of the week in just these three pages. For realz.

Oh, and a final nod to my childhood abuse wouldn’t be complete without my touchy-feely uncle, which got me the most grief last time I mentioned all of this. See, everyone gave me the most bullshit for not considering anyone's “feelings,” because of his daughter and son, despite the fact that he’s dead, from an overdose no less. While that was inconsiderate, calling me a liar was perhaps worse. As, any survivor of sexual abuse knows, coming forward is terrifying; namely for being accused of lying.

So, let’s call a spade a spade and point out that one of the first entries in my childhood journal is the one below, which catalogues, in a seven year-old’s way, the time we picked up my uncle, drunk, and strung out on heaven knows what, from under an over-pass on eight-mile, talking to either a transient woman, or a prostitute; it’s difficult to know which. It was such a special moment that we shared, as he was obviously a treasure to all who knew him when he got his life together…wait, that never happened.

Sorry, but you don't get to pretend people are saints, just because they are dead. We can focus on the good qualities, but we can't pretend they weren't whole people, especially when those "whole" people hurt other people.

Sorry, but you don't get to pretend people are saints, just because they are dead. We can focus on the good qualities, but we can't pretend they weren't whole people, especially when those "whole" people hurt other people.

So, when my husband, fixer that he is, asked what my family could do to fix the cloud that was hanging over me, it finally occurred to me: nothing. There’s nothing to be done. I live with the knowledge that my mother refuses to acknowledge that she did little more than make a few parenting mistakes; and, a father who’s too proud to admit that when he divorced my mother, he moved on from me too. Furthermore, he cannot acknowledge he played any role in what happened to me in that house, that he was a willing participant by allowing any of this to happen. There are no innocent bystanders.

I have my own family now, and my own new life to get on with. I’ve spent enough time and sadness on the life that was dealt to me then. It’s time to let that storm pass. The more that I let go, the better I feel, both emotionally, and physically. It's taken me all of these years to finally be brave and strong enough to stand on my own two feet like this, but it's time.

My health and wellness depends on releasing them. One day, I’ll get brave enough to burn the journal. I have, in mind, one last thing to do, to close the chapter, but that’s for another day. For now, this book is closing, and I can start a new one.

They say that forgiveness isn’t for “them,” but for you. Frankly, I don’t care who it’s for. I don’t forgive. I won’t and I can’t. I can’t forgive what people aren’t sorry for. And, even if they were, I don’t forgive. I nothing. There’s nothing to be said for nothing. I give forgiveness to those who deserve my recognition. Those who hurt children do not.