You’re Really Not Alone
There’s something very lonely about surviving child abuse. A beating from my mother wasn’t just physical, it was emotional and all-consuming. In my memories now, it was a hell on earth that I could only dream of escaping one day. A torment ever-present in my mind that would not let me breathe, grow, blossom, to become, well, Me. I think now in my 50’s the rest of Me is surfacing. I can’t explain how this is happening, or what is influencing it, but nevertheless I find myself stronger than ever before. I mean to tell you, I am a very spiritual person. Truthfully, I don’t really know what that term is supposed to imply but if this is it: ‘I believe in God’ then why not just say that? Well, I am a believer. In fact I am a messianic Jew. I’ll let you google that one.
I have a lot to say and I can’t wait to get it all down. I feel safe here, knowing someone might read this and let me know what they think. I have written much in my life, hundreds of pages of stories, memoirs, poems, prose and 3 pieces I am very proud of but as yet have not doggedly pursued publication thereof. That’s not to say I haven’t done my share of perfecting my craft: Writing for Children courses, blind submissions, blogs, private tutelage with a published author; I even wrote paragraphs and paragraphs of word-repetitive mind-numbing dull content to draw traffic to websites…none of which made me rich but I learned a lifetime of useful information (some of which is still accessible as it has not been totally pickled by arthritis medication, pills, booze, and weed). Dull jobs aside, money is money and I had two babies 16 months apart in cloth diapers and eating a vegetarian diet. I was a trifle busy.
Yep, that was a hook: arthritis. Coupled with the child abuse (I told you I’m an only child, right?) I was pretty much done for with that first breath. Simply stated, I was born to a woman who proved to be incapable of nurturing another being if it presented any kind of threat to her. Literally, this means that while babies are sweet, albeit noisy and demanding, with Grandma’s help she made it through my toddler years.
Then she met husband number two, providing a distraction. He adored me but sadly he was infinitely much weaker than she was. I find it funny that most of my memories begin when I was 5. That’s when new dad came into the picture and changed everything. I’ll never know for sure if that was a good thing or not. Him coming. I suppose she would have remarried, if not him someone else who might have been worse. Or better? She was so strong, enough for two, so he didn’t have to do much to please her. Just let her take the reins, and drive. He became a passenger in his own marriage, ironically, sitting in the back seat. The only part of him being in my life, in a beneficial way, was that I was no longer completely alone with her. Someone else would always be watching. Someone else would witness what happens when an adult, infinitely unhappy and resentful, loses control of her mind at times and notices one thing that can relieve her of this all-consuming need for revenge against the wrongs, so many wrongs in her life. (More on that later.)
As I recall most vividly the beatings began when I began to speak my mind. A five-year old has a lot to say! I imagine I must have been so annoying, so un love-able, just the worst child ever and therefore deserving of her wrath. And what a wrath it was. Mommy Dearest has a scene in it where the daughter is forced to scrub the bathroom. Do you recall? (It’s on YouTube). Something quite similar to that happened to me when I was not even 6. It was so horrendous and at the outcome, my mother discovered she had made the error in fact, not me. This drove her to inconsolable tears and locking herself in the bathroom. We gave it a name: the Skate Key Incident.
Is Anyone There?
Everything I write here will be off-topic. That means I’m going to jump around in my thoughts and purge. You can’t live for 50+ years and not learn something you deem worthy of sharing, right? I also have to keep reminding myself to chill; less editing. Be natural. Let it flow. Let the blood flow… Just a little something my husband says. (You have to say that with the right accent and tempo or it’s not funny). He’s telling me to relaxxxxxx.
At bedtime one night, I realized I had left a chore unfinished in the kitchen. I was 7 years old, mother and dad worked, and us latch key kids of the 60’s had our own way of life: hold up your end. My end was cleaning, cooking, dishes after dinner, and laundry. Aside from that, after school we could scavenge the streets at will, doing as we pleased. Getting into trouble (stealing from the local grocery, mostly cigarettes), hanging out in alleyways behind buildings in our area, picking up coffin nails thrown out car windows hoping to get a puff. 3 or 4 little girls just hanging around doing nothing. Oh, there were the schoolboys naturally. Spin the Bottle. Truth or Dare. But no drugs, booze or heavy petting. And Godforbid no real sex. See, I got off-topic.
Quite suddenly I remembered what I had forgotten to do and I was petrified. The fear of Her filled me with such adrenaline I was instantly alert and taut like a Stradivarius string; man, I was scared shitless, just waiting for the inevitable. They were both awake and most definitely she would find it, or most unlucky that He wouldn’t find it. I lay there in my twin bed quaking, saying out loud “God, please help me. Don’t let her find the (whatever it was), please God.” That’s it, simple prayer. No promises of convent life, of never touching a drop of whatever again, no begs for mercy. Just a total belief that He would hear me and grant my prayer. My Grandma believed strongly in God. I spent a lot of time with her growing up, many wonderful joyous days at her homes…yes, I adored her. Apparently her belief downloaded into me, yet unlike her, I am not prejudiced against other religions or peoples. So many of my upline, sadly, many are missed…so many were outright bigots. I never liked that. Funny being a Jew still can make one feel just not right. I can’t explain it. People don’t jump for joy and holla Whooo-eeeeee that’s fabulous! A terrific Jewish person! Yay! So glad to meet you, drinks all around! At least not in my lifetime, which never experienced the heartache of say, Anne Frank? My comfortable, Vanilla Jew (google it) pampered life.
Where hands are clasped, cigars are passed, well, now seriously. Even I can’t see it and I am an optimist. Mostly there is just a split second of pensive thought and then a formulated response. If you’re talking to an adult, that is. Children, God bless us, are the best things in life. Yours, anyone’s, just go be around some. Their innocence is just captivating; they make time stand still when you’re with them. But the best part is they don’t judge: they just BE. Free and unburdened, they really make you feel that someone is there. My grand baby will focus on the (angel, perhaps?) above my right shoulder and smile, so many times it doesn’t surprise me now. I always knew someone was there, she just confirms it. I became a Messianic Jew (you know the drill) in 1983 when I turned 25. It simply put, it just ‘made a good thing better’. I have felt complete in my spirit, unanswered human ways persist always, but my spirit has always answered back to me when I have asked: “No, you are never alone. I am here.”
He never did find the mistake that night. I had been protected. Someone, somewhere, had heard my frightened child’s voice whispering, pleading in the dark. My prayer had been answered.
More to follow…Please excuse drabness of pages. I started writing before I knew what the website required. I was jammin’.
A Sisterhood of Suffering
I have chronic pain from RA. I’ve had symptoms since I was 14 but wasn’t really diagnosed until I was 30 and even then it wasn’t carved in stone. Recently, under the care of a new rheumatologist, I have begun to feel better. I take a lot of risky new-age drugs but honestly, I’ve said it time and again: I’d do anything to feel like I used to. The past few years, being the worst, have really gotten under the skin of my marriage. After four decades together, I expect certain things but therein lies the problem. Apparently, I have expectations that only I understand. Last week, this was demonstrated to me with such clarity that I couldn’t help but see the point of view of those partnering those of us in pain. That was a run-on sentence, BTW.
After the end of a long day on our feet and an hours’ drive home, we stopped at the liquor store. He pulls up to let me out and I’m thinking ‘I am so tired and cold, I don’t want to stand up…’ but I do. Back in the car I complained “How could you let me get out and do that, I’m so achy?” I’ll never forget the look of surprise, real surprise, as he says “But I had the heater on in the car for an hour, how could you feel bad?”
People suffering from chronic pain are so misunderstood and we always say it’s because you can’t see the evidence of our pain. Where’s the blood, or the cut, or the bruise? It’s all inside. Dummies. With as much info on the net, some good some bad, you can still glean a lot of insight if you’re looking in the right place. I mean really looking. It’s pretty hard when you watch someone you truly love just suffer with no end in sight…I get that. TMI; who really wants to hear the gory parts. But what I really only want and need is compassion. Or sympathy. Or empathy. Or all three. I wonder what it’s like for other women in my situation, but since every body is unique I will never really know. I only wish I had a comparison sheet, with the exact parameters of my life, so I could tell, you know? How is my life measuring up to the one I could have had if I had made other smarter choices. I don’t mean husband choice. He really is great. He is just a man. Which means his progress in so many areas of personal growth will be stunted or unformed. Men just naturally come deformed and that’s why it’s Soul Mates, Love at First Sight, True Love. For every defective guy is a woman who thinks she can fix his particular set of issues. Because he’s cute or funny or smart; well, those were the hooks. But why we stay? We are getting just enough, that’s why. Some of us could get more, but we are lazy and afraid to assert. So be it. Being Me with all its faults is still loads better than being a Noteworthy Person with all it’s bling and fun and stress and divorce and crying and backbiting. Yup.
Women, on the other hand, well we are rocks. We all have stories, even the young ones. That’s why I still believe I hooked up with the best. The ones who are still at it, like me, years later we are just getting it aren’t we? I remember reading in Good Housekeeping years ago ‘Why My ___’s are the Best Years Ever’ and fill in your decade, then go read that section with quotes from Real Women Not Actors. I recall how the 50’s and 60’s aged women just had this ‘been there done that, don’t give a sh*t anymore’ take me as I am attitude, and now I’m getting it too. Who cares what anyone, I mean anyone, really thinks if you are putting out your solid gold 100%? If it’s the best you can do, only you know for sure. I apply this to my marital relationship currently knowing if I didn’t I would seriously lose my sh*t on a daily basis.
Life is not for the faint at heart. I know I feel better just getting this out; remember, that was my initial intention to begin with. Finally getting some of this down helps, and I haven’t even started in on the real meat of the story. Which was of course, sharing how I survived living at the hands of a mentally ill mommy-monster. Mostly I do this for sympathy, you see? JK. Thanks for being there, friends. More soon. Be well.