On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Perhaps Today

How am I?

I'm pacing inside a delicate china shop, being ever so careful not to break or bump or disturb anything.  It's considerably challenging.  I was asked by the proprietor to check my bat at the door but I have big backside, wide hips, jabbity elbows and huge feet.  And I really don't like to be without my bat.

I don't like to leave home without my bat because it's the only way I know how to protect myself.  Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far, Roosevelt said. [1]  Good advice.  There's never been a time that I haven't felt like I needed protection.  There's also too few times that I felt like someone had my back.  One hand. I can count on one hand who my staunch defenders are.

I laugh because then I don't have to share my pain. I don't share my pain because it has no limits.  It has no limits because I've only known pain.  So I laugh.  I wield a stick.  I ...

I pace in a china shop being certain that I break nothing.  Delicate items just scream at me, "You're such a stupid idiot.  You can't have nice things like us.  You don't deserve it."  I pace and admire, hands clasped behind my back, my feet dragging on the floor because I have enormous clown feet that trip me and get in the way. A dangerous physical trait in a china shop.  I verbally declare how pretty the items are knowing the compliment won't be returned.  I avoid seeing my reflection in the polished silver and crystal because my likeness on those surfaces will decrease the value.

I think to myself, all I have to do is make a mad dash for the entryway, snatch my bat and charge through here, destroying at will.  That's all that stands between these precious momentos and their anhilation: my will.  I chuckle to myself.  I know how strong my will can be. Strong enough to hold back my own anger and pain.  The Hoover dam has nothing on me.

I walk past something especially poignant that captures my attention.  A carved figurine of a mother holding a newborn infant.  She is embraced from behind by her spouse.  I twist my fingers around the invisible leather grip of the bat in my hand, the bat that I've left at the front door.  Yes, even THAT has been taken from me.  THAT.  That moment.  Stolen.  Not retrievable.  No restitution. No apology.  Just "in your face bitch, you can't have this.  ever.  NOT EVER.  You will NEVER get this."  Maybe a tear fills my eye.  Maybe I bite my lip.  Maybe my hand makes a fist so tight that my nails dig into my palms and leave a mark.

The salesperson approaches me, "Can I help you with anything?"  I am pulled from my darkness back to reality, the lights of the shop suddenly too bright.  Can she help me with anything? She has no idea what she is asking me.  No. No she can't help. No one can.   I pause and say politely, "No.  Thank you. I'm just looking."  I walk to a nondescript corner of the store that has a generic product display of some colorful mass-produced flip-flop adornments. Useless crap that ends up in the trash.  Why do people spend money on this shit?  To make a flip-flop look pretty?  What's the point?  I look at the price tag. $17.99.  I snort.  I can't afford a flip-flop that costs $17.99 let alone the interchangeable pink polka dot ribbon straps with plastic gem stone in the center.  If this is the kind of crap a woman is supposed to buy to make her look pretty and desirable or to make her feel good about herself I guess I'm no kind of woman at all.

I leave the store, grab my bat and head for home.  Next time I tell myself.  Next time I'll let this bat make a hole in my self will and I'll fly through there like a wild banshee and destroy it all.  Next time I'll be brave enough to let that glass menagerie know that I deserve to be heard.  That my pain is real.  That I count too.  Then I remind myself that I'm barely making the mortgage and how the hell am I supposed to replace a store's worth of expensive merchandise? And do I really want to go to jail? Or end up on "Snapped" on the Oxygen Channel?  I turn on the classic rock, roll down the windows and crank it to full volume.  Ozzy is singing "Crazy Train".

I get to my driveway and put the van in park.  I turn off the engine and sit.  I sit in the silence until my mind isn't shouting angry thoughts anymore.  I sit until my hand is no longer itching to throw the bat around.  I sit until my eyes stop watering and my nose stops stinging and the lump in my throat melts away.  I sit until I can count out 10 blessings that I have in my life currently.  I sit until I can remember that there is a woman on this globe somewhere who would gladly trade my pain for hers because she's been through so much more than I could ever dream of.  I sit until I'm back in the present, the broken record of hurtful, stinging words and memories has ceased to repeat and is replaced by the chatter of the squirrels in the pine tree over my head. I sit until I can hear the wind whisper something soothing in the crest of my neighbor's fifty year old oak.  I sit until I see the face of my chihuahua peer through the front window and scratch at the glass, beckoning me to go inside.  I sit until the front door opens and WG comes running out saying, "Mommy!  Guess what animal I am today?"  I sit but I turn back the key in the ignition so I can hit the power window button on the driver's side door, letting it automatically roll down at just the right moment so WG's face and arms lean in through the open window to kiss and hug me.  I sit until she says, "Mom? Are you crying again?"

"No." I wipe my cheeks with my sleeve.

"Mom.  Yes you were."

"No.  Really.  Just allergies."


"OK. Maybe just a little WG."

"It's going to be OK mom.  I promise." I hear my words coming back at me from my eight year old daughter.  I chuckle.  Do I really say stuff like that?  Geez.  I'm so fucking optimistic.  What a pain in the ass.

"Yup. OK.  I'm coming."  I unlatch my seat belt, bend behind me to grab my purse out from it's hiding place so it won't be stolen in my absence, take a deep breath and open the door.  All the while WG is chattering away about the dog she is going to pretend to be for the rest of the day and I bite my lip as my eyes well up because she's blessing number one on my list, always. One day, I tell myself, One day I'll be brave enough to let people know what has really happened to me without the fear of retribution from the people that have hurt me. One day I'll be strong and not be afraid.  One day I'll be important enough to myself to no longer roll over and take it. 

One day when I get fucked off on facebook by my sister because she got pregnant a third time without being married and I just didn't want to read her messages on my facebook wall about how hard her life is and simply asked that we take a break from talking on facebook and after all the years of her shit I just couldn't deal with it, I'll defend myself. 

One day when I find out my former spouse and his entire family knew that he was sterile when he was 15 from a severe case of the mumps but no one bothered to tell me, i'll stand up for my rights and ask for an annulment instead of a divorce.  Because it was never a legitimate marriage if he never disclosed his sterility.  Because I didn't find out until January of this year, a month after I left him. Because just last October his own mother was still crooning that she knew, just knew that one day God would bless the two of us with biological children...

One day when my mother asks me what happened to me and my sisters and wants to know why we turned out the way we did, I'll tell her that when dad died, all the parenting we were ever going to get on this earth died with him.  One day I'll tell her that her emotional, negligent and mental abuse of the three of use remaining in her care after his death nearly cost her our custody on numerous occasions but the people that always asked me if I wanted them to report her to social services always got a "no" response from me because I was afraid that my youngest sister would be separated from us and put up for adoption.

One day when I am stalked at college by my mother's ex fiance who is psychotic, I will call the police to protect myself instead of calling her to tell her i'd seen him so she could deny that it could ever possibly be HIS brown, 1982 station wagon with the five trillion bumper stickers all over the back and HIS fucking fedora upon HIS fucking bearded head behind HIS fucking steering wheel, driving 10 miles an hour down the exact road that I had to cross at that exact time of day to get to my next class.  

One day I'll tell people that last fall the ex called me a fucking bitch in the morning because I pointed out that he never met our son's developmental delay specialist, a doctor that has been treating our son since he was three but by four pm that afternoon he was posting on his facebook wall  that I was the best wife ever.  One day I'll make people understand that he does shit like that so you won't believe me when I tell you the TRUTH.  So he can laugh and say, "What?  That's nonsense.  She's crazy.  I never said that to her.  Didn't you see what I put on facebook just this afternoon?  She doesn't remember how things really happen.  Her whole blog?  It's a complete exaggeration.  I only told her I was proud of her for writing it because I knew it was a good emotional outlet for her.  Of course I never called her a fucking bitch.  I've met AB's doctor.  Many times.  We have always been equal partners in the responsibilities of raising the children."  

And you'll say to me, "Wow.  I don't know what to believe.  he seems just as certain of his truth as you do of yours."  

One day I'll say to that, "Hopefully the integrity of my character speaks for itself.  If you don't know me well enough to see the truth, then you don't know me and we don't need to continue being friends.  Or family."

One day I'll tell you all of that.   And more.  One day I will matter to myself.  One day the burden of carrying my pain and anger will outweigh the burden of pain it may cause others when I tell the truth.  One day I'll actually use the big stick I carry when I speak softly and that bat will come flying through the air and smash the facade to smithereens. One day.

Perhaps today.

Then I remember that WG is still chattering away at me about her doggie plans and I look down at her and smile.  My left hand smooths down the hair at the top of her head and I kiss her on the forehead.  I take her right hand and enthusiastically say, "That all sounds like a really great idea!  What will your dog name be?"  We go through the front door to see Sissy picking at our black lab's hemangioma again and I sigh, still standing on the threshold of the doorway and say, "Sissy.  Room.  Now." And  she screams and wails that she hasn't done nothing, she's always getting blamed for everything and I only take up for WG and it's not fair.  I hold up my right hand and begin counting down from five.

"FINE!"  She screams again and  stomps to her room.  WG pulls on my left hand reminding me that she is still standing there just as AB paces past us, mp3 player in hand, headphones on, asking me without stopping or making eye contact what we're having for supper.

I turn to WG and smile."Well little beagle named Tawny, I think it's time to eat. What do you want for supper?"

*BARK* is her reply.

[1]Big Stick Ideology


GB's Mom said...

Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. You are you, regardless.{{{Hugs}}}

kristib said...

You are just so amazingly strong.

Sammie said...

You are such a good person and don't deserve any of this. You are strong and will be OK, you are healing.
Big HUG.

Jgirl said...

It can be so hard when we KNOW the truth about the people we were with, yet it doesn't seem "so bad" to the outside world. He's so wonderful and helpful, they say. But they don't know...

My thoughts are with you, through all of it. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. Sometimes that is all we can do.