Yes I Can (Poetry)

Yes I Can
Flesh torn with jagged scars.
Reminding me that this battle is hard.
The sun reminds me that light wins over darkness.
And the little things remind me of how I’m blessed
All of this brought forth by music and a pen
Telling my story about where I’ve been
Their pictures with beautiful smiles
They never fade even after a little while.
I love them so and this is true
Two little boys that say, “Mommy, I love you.”
So, I choose to continue fighting
Because their love is so inviting
One assignment after another
Because I AM their mother
As I walk with them hand-in-hand
Signifying to them…” Yes, my mommy can!”
#thispuzzledlife

Road To Heal (Poetry)

Road To Heal
I cry and tears fall;
Wondering how I got myself in this place at all.
My stomach churns not feeling good enough to eat;
My life looks like it’s been put on repeat.
Again I end up in a place of chaos;
Knowing that she took over again and I lost.
When will this torment end?
I will do it once and never again.
Hell, I live and Hell I received.
But this time is different because there’s no reprieve.
Dear God, get me out of this horrible deal.
So, I can get back on the road to heal.
#thispuzzledlife

Her Name Was Sarah (Poetry)

Her Name Was Sarah
Very few people come
Into your life and leave a footprint
on your heart

She was the one that would start
By taking me under her wing.
She would also take my heart.

Our relationship was special and many
would see how incredibly
special she was not me.

She would first love me as an addict and
then as her daughter you see.
There was a special place in her heart that
was perfectly made for me.

Her tough love was strict
But I respected her so.
She wasn’t just a person
but one shedding hope.
She taught me many lessons,
and some were very hard.

She loved me through good times and
sheltered me from the bad

Who was this lady that never made me sad?
She was my rock and without her
I am lost and the grief I have for her
came at a great cost

She would first love me as an addict
And then as her daughter you see

There was a special place in her heart
that was perfectly made for me
Her tough love was strict, But I respected her so
She wasn’t just a person
But one shedding hope

She taught me many lessons
and some were very hard
She loved me through the good times
and sheltered me from the bad

Who was this lady that never made me sad?
She was my rock and without her I am lost.
And the grief I have for her came at a great cost
She would be disappointed at the
things I have done to the kids and Mel.

I can hear her saying, “Now what you’ve done has hurt both
Mel and the boys. You will learn a lesson and it will be hard.
Be careful about other people that love you,
you don’t put up your guard. You will end up
bleeding on people that didn’t cut you.

I still love you now like I did then. Don’t use my death as an excurse to drink, do drugs

and push people away. You pushed Mel and the boys so hard that they didn’t come back.

Think before you act, I’ve always told you. And don’t worry

every time you’ve failed. I’ve wrapped my arms

around you and given you a hug and helped you up.

It’s nice to remember such a beautiful person
and I loved her so much.
So much that it seemed to physically
and mental destroy me to lose her.

The day she died I lost the only rock I had.
It was very clear, and I was glad.
I can describe her in one word…. BEAUTIFUL.

It was nice to have a break from
the evils of the world we live in.
She was my everything and things
have never been the same since her death.

The number of tears I’ve shed
over her could fill up an ocean
She was a very special person to
me and her name was Sarah.
#Thispuzzledlife

Peace (Poetry)

Peace (Poetry)
Peace is something sacred that many don’t find;
You can get pushed to find it and leave the pain behind.
The monsters destroyed us and that is a fact;
Peace is among the living when it gets too difficult to carry
the weight of the world on your back.

When life becomes to difficult and the pain is too real;
You must come to acceptance of the pain that you feel.
Life seems too hard and the pain I can’t describe;
And no matter where you go there’s no place to hide.

So you have to accept that this pain is here to stay;
Peace is what you find even if you’re no ok.
God won’t have me and the devil just laughs;
Where do I end up on this god forsaken path?

Nothing is given neither life nor death;
I’ll just have to see when and where I take my last breath.
Peace is what I feel with like walking in glue?

Tears fall and my chin begins to shake;
How much more am I suppose to take?
Peace takes over when nothing else will;
And I will take my last breaths when
I’m too tired to continue climbing this hill.

Or maybe peace I will find on the journey to find me;
Peace takes over when your will is through.
I find it when I wake up knowing
there’s nothing more I can do.
The weight of the world just seems to disappear;
Then peace envelopes you when your time is near.
#thispuzzledlife

Safe Place (Poetry)

Safe Place
A place that has no hurt and no pain
A place where I can go without emotional rain.
A place where the sun shines all day long
A place that could easily become a home

A place where I can hide from things that are bad
A place where I can go and never be sad.
A place where I run to where the monsters can’t see
A place that allows me to be me.

A place where I go when I’m not wearing masks
A place that I go and no one else asks
A place where I can go for my own soul’s sake
A place where I go that’s always safe.

#thispuzzledlife

Adjusting To Home

Adjusting to Home

“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Today is the two-week mark of me having moved back home to Mississippi. The timing of the move was to ensure that I was home for the holidays and that’s exactly what I did. I came home and was soon greeted by my little boys making the first week filled with love and happiness. Anytime you move from one place to another there is an adjustment period usually filled with frustrations and my time back has had those times as well.
For me there has been a mixture of emotions that I was somewhat prepared for but have also been surprised by. With my dark past in this small town and trying to get settled the stress of it all has brought tears to my eyes. The stress of being back in a town where there are some difficult memories to face mixed with the stress of getting new doctors, reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, developing new routines and the death of a family member has left me emotional and a bit edgy. All-in-all I would consider the experience thus far normal.

In the best of circumstances, the stress would be a noticeable factor. But coming back to the place where all my trauma occurred with still very vivid memories has made the transition a little more difficult. The difficulties where they are uncomfortable are not impossible to overcome. My initial thoughts about moving back where that I would face a lot of judgment and harsh criticisms as I had in my younger years. What I have found is that I instead have faced people who still are supportive and who love me even knowing my past. And those who send their judgmental stares and comments my way have been drowned out by hugs and words of support and compassion. Me and old friends have sat while we all laughed and cried together with stories of difficult days from the past and the near future. And my aching heart is always soothed by the words of my children saying, “Momma D, we’re glad you moved back because we missed you.”

IMG_2272

My spiritual life which has held a lot of contentment for many years has been met by people who just want to love and support me while I find my way here in small town living of the Deep South. And thanks to coach before leaving Texas I was already learning how to let people love me again. Likewise, I continue to be supported by my friends from Texas who only want to see me succeed as they saw me in the days of barely putting one foot in front of the other to keep surviving. The best advice I was ever given as a child and an athlete that’s kept me going was, “Never ever give up.” And the words I always tell coach is, “Don’t ever give up on me.”

IMG_7406 (1)

Two of my hardest but most rewarding years of my life were spent healing in Texas. And it’s where I feel like I got my second wind in life. I love being able to smile a genuine smile today. I love feeling like I now have the capability to be a mother to my children. I love knowing going forward that my relationships with people will be ones that are genuine instead of superficial. And that they can be relationships that are healthy. I love knowing that my hard work has bought me something more rewarding than a degree could ever give to me……LIFE. And I love knowing that no matter how many times I wanted to nor how far down I got physically and mentally…. I NEVER GAVE UP. The miracle happened and I’m alive today to enjoy it.
#thispuzzledlife

Through The Eyes Of A Child (poetry)

Through The Eyes Of A Child

We Started our lives tiny and cold
Bright lights and loud noises only a few days old
We would have two mommies and the world to see.
One of our mommies would come with an extra scoop
of “special” the one called Momma D.

We know that you love us and most of the time you’re fun
But momma you scare us when you talk about guns.
Your scars we would notice and excuses we would hear
We saw the blood on the floor and your
yelling would hurt our little ears.

Momma Mel cried a lot and things you said weren’t nice.
You had expressions that scared us because your heart seemed cold as ice.
We didn’t know who had hurt you

because we didn’t understand your tears

But we did understand on word and that one word was…FEAR.

We were both born into this world for you to teach us and to guard
Why does this concept seem to be so hard?
Many times, we ran to you because kids get scared.
But the one we looked to for protection, only her body was there.

As a child we need protecting and that’s your job to do.
If you had looking into your own eyes would you
Know who was looking back at you?
One minute you were our mommy acting like a funny clown
But a lot of the time you wore a big frown.

We don’t know what they did and we’re still too young to know.
The big, scary figure we just wanted it to go.
We know you didn’t mean it but if you could only see.
That the people that hurt you were now hurting me.

If you could only understand how much we love you and
Know that our love is free
We are not the ones that hurt you, momma, open your eyes,
break down those walls and see.
Our names are Marshall and Copeland we are ages 7 and 3.
Please momma get help and be who we need you to be.

We are separated for now because there’s work that needs to be done.
And at the end of this time we will still be your loving sons.
But at the end we will proudly say, “Look at Momma D now and the person
She has become!”

You’re setting for us an example about how we should live
The ones that look up to you are two little kids.
And once day your tears will be nothing but smiles
Because you learned many lessons through the eyes of
Of a child.
#thispuzzledlife

“Hey Pot. This Is Kettle.”

“Hey Pot, This Is Kettle”

“I decry the injustice of my wounds, only to look down and see that I am holding a smoking gun in one hand and a fistful of ammunition in the other.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

One thing that most people will tell you about me is that it’s hard to have any kind of a relationship with me unless you have thick skin or can separate behavior from the truth. Why is this? Well, I can only say what I believe to be the truth. I most often self-sabotage relationships in order to keep from getting hurt. This doesn’t mean that the person I sabotage the relationship with did anything wrong. Sounds odd? Trust me it is.
So much of my life has been about wearing masks that being on the hunt for my authentic self is proving very difficult. Everything about relationships scares me. I fear people leaving and/or dying. And I also fear people hurting me. Not so surprising if you take note of my trauma history. Confusing for me and other people yes. What makes me angry is that before all the chaos in my life began relationships held very high priority for me. They were never replaceable. The relationship that I had with that person was as individual as they are.

When this sabotaging happens it’s because I’ve gotten scared. Either the person has seen someone other than “the clown.” When people begin to see me as someone other than that friend they like to hang out with and laugh I get very scared. Because in my experience those that see the nice side of me first might leave me at the first sign of trouble. I fear judgement. And I fear their rejection if they don’t like the truth. So, instead of just waiting to see the outcome, I control the outcome.

pot calling kettle black

I had good relationships at one that that once they saw the effects of abuse on me, they run. Once they’ve seen the scars, been around my extremely intense mood shifts and paranoia they leave. As a result, I bought into the belief that “I wasn’t worthy of good relationships because everyone leaves eventually.” This in turn adds fuel to the fire of self-hatred and my self-harm escalates. Next relationship the cycle continues until you get tired of the painful emotional toll that it takes, and you become a prisoner of to your home to keep from having contact with people out of fears. I then sabotaging through self-harm and isolation further worsening my condition. This then leads to more depression and anxiety and lack of social stimulation. Therefore, anytime I try to be around other people, in public, the overstimulation is just too much because I live a rather bland existence.

This is something that coach and I face with me. Not to mention the scared alters always paranoid and looking for danger at any turn. But I continue to work towards a more permanent solution so that I can keep meaning relationships in the future. First, I must get used to being in public around people and all the different verbal and visual stimulation of everyday life. Fingers and toes crossed that this goes well. I can promise you that I win the “Most Harded” award every year.  Not something to brag about but always true.  I always chuckle when I tell someone that they’re being hardheaded. Their response, “Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” All I can say, “Why yes, it is.”
#thispuzzledlife

The Pistol”

“The Pistol”

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”
—-Michael Jordan

As a young athlete most of us will assign a professional athlete the title of “HERO.” I don’t even know when I first was told about Pete “Pistol” Maravich. But when I heard about his accomplishments and training, I knew that he was the basketball player that I wanted to be like. Pete was the Michael Jordan of basketball before Michael Jordan was a big name. With his slender frame and slouchy socks Pete became an athlete that was also coached by his father Press Maravich.
He ate, slept and breathed his sport with dedication that very few know. He always had a basketball with him practicing his ball handling skills everywhere he went. In the movie, The Pistol: Birth of a Legend, it describes his training methods and accurately portrays the dedication to the sport. In the days that he played both college and the NBA the 3-point line had not taken effect in the sport. Had there been there’s no telling how many records would stand alone even today.
His ball handling skills still amaze the childish athlete in me that wishes he still was alive. Though even as a great player Pete was a very private man. At the age of 35, Pete became a born-again Christian which he proudly acknowledged. But suddenly at the age of 44 in 1988 Pete would die, playing a pickup game of basketball from an undetected heart defect. Pete has become to be known as the best ball handler of all time. And while I was still playing high school basketball, I would always watch a movie about him or articles on the internet (dial up) to give me that little motivation I needed to propel me with the right attitude and centerness throughout the season. Of course, I had to read quick because if anyone called the house phone, I’d get kicked off the internet.

When I was in my undergraduate work at William Carey University, Jaeson Marravich, Pete’s son, came to play for the school. The moment I saw him and his resemblance and ball handling style of him my eyes filled with tears. On his left his upper arm where he proudly wears a tattoo that says The Pistol. I still get chills from that moment. And at the time I was looking for something positive to help me keep going since I was still in an abusive marriage.

But of course, the other great moment only 2nd to seeing and meeting Jaeson, was attending my first ever basketball game at LSU’s Pete Maravich Center, in Baton Rouge, LA where his father coached him the four years he played. Inside the coliseum has pictures of Pete and displays of his records both in college and the NBA. It would also be the day that I stood side-by-side with Shaquille O’Neal with my height measuring to his waist as he ran out the tunnel. What a big guy he really is!

His determination, dedication and focus to his sport is what I still admire about him today. And just writing about him and giving in to those beautiful feelings I had for him as an athlete is going to help me a little bit with my confidence. Guys, I’m up against a big opponent in my therapy life. I’ve got a great coach at the reigns. And I’ve got Pete and the words of former coaches and family to lean on. I’m in the fight of and for my life.

http://www.petemaravich.com/

This is the link to the movie The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend.
#Thispuzzledlife

Hope In A Rock

Hope In A Rock

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage.”
—Unknown

Hope is a topic that I have a hard time acknowledging. In my years of experiencing trauma in most forms “hope” was not a word that was familiar. After recently having to be hospitalized, yet again, I entered the hospital feeling like I had to drag myself in the doors. This time, though, I wasn’t worried about the locked doors, as much as, I wanted someone to be there in case I collapsed from sheer exhaustion. I took my aching soul and body back to one of the only safe places left for me. And this time I was determined not to fight the process but to be grateful to be behind the locked doors that I fear. Now my mind and body could just collapse if it needed and someone would immediately be there. And collapse is exactly what my body would do. I wouldn’t have any temptations in my immediate surroundings and “safety” was there.

After 4 days, the medical needs of my body that I have neglected for so long would finally come to a head and collapsing is what happened. Luckily, I don’t remember much about that happening. I would soon be informed in a local medical hospital just exactly what happened. I would wake up to the piercing sting of a nurse starting an IV on my upper right arm. “Shit that hurts! What are you doing?” I asked. I soon realized that I was sweating profusely and felt like death. I don’t even know or could realize the running around and tests being ordered or even how serious the situation was. The next thing I remember was being in a room having been admitted to the hospital. The nurse informed me that I was so anemic that I needed a blood transfusion. I was also told that my thyroid levels were so bad that I needed a Thiamine drip. She said, “You have severe anemia and your blood pressure was extremely low when they brought you in. It’s still very low and we will continue to monitor it overnight. But what’s could kill you is your thyroid levels.” My blood work show that my levels were 8X what they should be. And it was all because I hadn’t been taking care of myself. Once again, I’m in another predicament and no one’s fault but my own. My self-destructive path had almost caught up with me permanently and I just didn’t care. I was tired of fighting my demons.

Hope

After 24 hours, I was taken back to the trauma center and the safety of locked doors. The flashbacks I would experience for the next several days were horrendous. The color in my skin was now almost normal instead of grey. My demons always know where to find me and find me they did with a vengeance. I had no cannabis to help with the symptoms. I had no razors or any other maladaptive binkies that I could turn to for comfort except my eating disorders. I found myself gagging and running to the bathroom from the gruesome images and smells that no one saw or experienced but me. The migraines from constant switching were just another complication that I deal with most days. I had to find a way out of the physical and mental torture. I seemed to have just tripped over a bag of feelings and fell in. I kept my humor, but I could see the worry on the faces of staff and patients alike and I didn’t like it. These guys were my “trauma tribe” and wanted to help protect me from myself and the effects that evil deeds had cost me. I eventually left “trauma camp” and walked through the exit doors feeling better but still shaky. And then…addiction reared its ugly head and I was facing it instantly as almost to say, “You’re not protected anymore. I’ve got a surprise for you.” My next actions I didn’t even think. I just gave into. Failure again.
I finally arrive back at my house and those four walls were calling my name. I didn’t want to leave them for a long while. When I opened the door to my bedroom fear consumed me. The energy in my room was one of hopelessness and it was strong. I seemed to just collapse in my bed. My haven of craziness was waiting, and it seemed to be welcoming me with open arms. My confidence that I had leaving had been crushed instantly.

As tears filled my eyes and the chest pains of anxiety grew stronger, I laid in my bed sobbing like a child. I felt like a defeated athlete who had worked so hard only to fail again. It happened so quickly that I couldn’t stop the additional spiral downward. My head hurt was hurting so bad that I became nauseous. Nausea seems to be the one symptom that I can always count on arriving before most others. I smelled the rotting flesh of dead bodies. And I heard someone calling my name. Before I even tried to find out if it was real, I shouted, “What do you want from me?! Do what you want to me but make it stop!!!” My breathing became erratic and I knew that I had to let whatever was happening run its course. I was completely hopeless again. I felt as though something was surrounding me like a bunch of bullies. I was scared and needed something but couldn’t name it.
After several minutes of horrible memories and visions, I was again sweating and found myself scanning my room for details. I was looking for something to hold onto. My soul was hurting, and I didn’t know what I needed. I look over towards my desk where I have my scrapbooking projects and saw a rock that had been given to me. Written on the rock was the word “HOPE.” Finally, I could breath a sigh of relief because hope was what I needed. I stared at the rock for several minutes from the now safety and comfort of my bed. And I tried to absorb any and everything that seeing that was bringing to me. Hope had been found through a rock.
#thispuzzledlife

Keep Trying (Poetry)

Keep Trying
7.30.19
Many nights alone I spend crying
Accomplishing nothing but forward footsteps towards dying.
Replaying the events of my decorated past
Hoping and praying that I’ll go someday……and fast.

The memories and visions that haunt me
Are keeping me bound and not free.
Bound to my past I have remained
While being told that to heal I must reframe.

Doing my best, I still fall hard
Until I catch a glimpse of those friendly cards.
Because people are doing for me what I can’t do for myself
While I try to put the pieces together of my shattered soul and health.

Getting this bird back flying
I know that I must keep trying
No one can do for me and I understand this one thing….
I must once again find my authentic self, unashamed voice and sing.

#thispuzzledlife

Family Traditions

Family Traditions

“The most treasured heirlooms are the sweet

memories of our family that we pass down to our children.”

—Unknown

I said that I wasn’t going to write a separate post about Christmas but gentle pressure from my parents seems to have prevailed.  Truthfully, I was already thinking about writing something about my family’s traditions that continue today.  These are very important to me.  Not only does it show the sacrifice of family members that I never knew.  It also created and still creates an ongoing story that was passed from my grandparents, to my parents, to me and my sister and on to both of our spouses and children.

I can’t speak for anyone else in my family and their personal thoughts and feelings about traditions that may or may not be carried out.  However, Mel knows one thing about me…..Traditions will be carried out every single year no matter what.  This year they will be carried out in both Mississippi and Texas.  For me, it’s how I’m able to keep in touch with those warm and very happy times that I remember about my grandmother Alma Buxton that would be known simply as Nannie.

I have hours upon hours of funny stories about my Nannie and our trips to Wal-Mart and her horrendous driving when she utilized the motorized scooters.  Her personal view of road signs and regulations as mere suggestions for how one should drive safely.  But there was a time when my Nannie would sit with me for hours telling me stories about our family.  She and I would both get tickled about almost anything.  The filter that should’ve been installed was missing completely so random thoughts would fly out of her mouth at a moment’s notice.

Nannie

Most people that know me understand that very little can offend me. And that I will laugh at something’s that funny regardless of the appropriateness of the situation.  My Nannie and I laughed  A LOT while I was growing up.  And we laughed even more as she and I both got older.  But every year Thanksgiving and Christmas activities could be written with accuracy without being there because it was Family Traditions being carried out.  And it was the same way every single year until she died.

Our holiday would begin on Christmas Eve when our entire family (mom, dad, sister, aunt and Nannie) would go out shopping.  When I was younger the story was told that my grandfather, Samuel E. Buxton, who drove a big truck would come home on Christmas Eve and that’s when he would do all of his shopping.  His job made it where this was his only time to do his shopping for the family.  Then all would go that night to drive and look at all the Christmas lights and decorations.  Sadly, he would pass away 4 months before I was born and I would never grow to know him personally.  But my Nannie and parents always told both me and my sister how spoiled we would’ve been had he lived to know us.  I must admit that our family never had any problems spoiling both of us just fine.

Mel and I have both told Marshall and Copeland how spoiled that would’ve also been had they been lucky enough to meet some of their ancestors on both sides.  Marshall Lake Landrum-Arnold is named after Mel’s grandfather and Copeland Samuel Landrum-Arnold is named after my grandfather.  We take this time each year to explain Black Friday and how we would shop as a family starting very early in the morning.  And then tell them about what we both did as kids with our families on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve began once my Nannie and Aunt arrived at our house to have the sleepover into Christmas Morning. Almost every year my place to sleep was with my Nannie.  We would have whatever meal was created by mom and dad. And small town news was discuss for the first couple of hours.  We would then all pile into whatever car was available and head over to Chain Electric in Hattiesburg who’s windows would be decorated with some form of moving decorations complete with Santa and the reindeer with Rudolph leading the way.  There were also usually a family of bears with lights that were smiling and moving their paws.  The rest I can’t remember because they eventually moved so much that they fell apart and the business was closed.  But this little girl stuck in an adult body remembers the time that our family saw this as an important time and event complete with driving through neighborhoods known for their light decorations.

When my sister and I were younger sometimes we would have fallen asleep while looking at lights.  My daddy would gently pick us up and put us in our respective beds.  The years when we didn’t fall asleep we would come home from looking at lights and put on our pajamas.  We would then put out the milk and cookies with a note written to Santa thanking him for bringing our long anticipated toys.  We also left out Purina Cat Chow for Rudolph because everyone knows that reindeer feed on cat food as a snack.

A few hours later we would awaken before God and the angels to look at what Santa had brought us.  We also anxiously looked in our stockings where surprisingly Santa had some kind of inside information about us wanting grapefruits and walnuts in our stockings…every….single….year.  Our family cat always got a can of tuna that end up in the cabinets where it originated only hours before.

As we got older, Nannie wasn’t quite as slick as she had been for many years when she would wake up grunting and groaning with every step she took toward our stockings.  You could very loudly hear her stuffing the stockings with something in crinkle paper and having a hard time accomplishing her task in the dark.  Sometimes you could hear her saying, “Awwww…..shit…..just get in the damn stocking!”  I couldn’t help but giggle.  My aunt always had a stocking so big that you could’ve fit a clan of gypsies and a midget in it.

Then for several years before her death Nannie would say religiously, “This is my last Christmas.  I’ll be dead by next year. You better enjoy me while you can.” “Why, Nannie?” we would ask.  “Because I’m old.  And when you get old you die.” We would all chuckle but we knew every year that the reality of that statement could be true.

My mom and aunt also have a box that’s used for giving a gift between them every year.  I must admit that there was nothing quite as comforting as sleeping with my Nannie when I snuggled up to the warm hump in her back while her snoring sounded like a growling bear. There would also be Christmas music playing by groups such as the Carpenters, Charlie Pride, the Oak Ridge Boys or maybe even Alabama playing on a cassette or 8 track tapes.  Tears glisten in my eyes now just to think about how safe I felt with my family before I knew that the world could be so cruel.

Christmas Morning after gifts were opened and likewise recorded by my daddy either on cassette tapes or video tapes.  I honestly don’t know if those tapes even made it to 2018.  Some had the voices of my mamaw Susie Kendrick, my dad’s mom, who I dearly miss.  She was the direct opposite of my Nannie. She had a filter and luckily it never got damaged. If you’ve met my daddy then my grandmother was incredibly similar. The time was now about eating myself silly on my daddy’s Christmas morning breakfast complete with homemade biscuits, grits, eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast burritos, some type of jelly and of course sorghum syrup that he would mix a pat of butter with just prior to putting it on a biscuit and then being inhaled.

For the next couple of hours we would try on new clothes and I would take my new basketball outside and shoot some hoops before we went to our neighbors house to make sure that Santa had made it there as well.  Nannie and momma would’ve prepared the ham and the dressing the night before.  The topic of the size of the ham was apparently important.  Nannie never ceased to tell us how much both the ham and turkey weighed.  I grew up thinking that we must talk about the weight of these two types of meat until I realized when I got older that no one really cared about the weight as long as it could fit on the fork or between two slices of bread for at least the next two weeks.

The food I waited for every year was the sweet potato puffs that had a melted marshmallow covered by a sweet potato then rolled in cornflakes and baked.  And then………my Nannies’ sweet and sour onions that just seemed to hit the spot twice a year.  Ironically, I still cook these onions every year and for a moment I can smell my Nannie and hear her laughter when we would open her spices together, make faces and laugh like life was just simple.

Each year that our boys have been born we told them even as infants about the importance of carrying out our family’s traditions and what it means.  It’s not just about seeing decorations, eating good food, and getting presents.  For me it has always been the legacy of the importance of family that my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles not only spoke of but showed us through their actions the sacrifices that would be made all centered around one thing……the love of our family.

“I love those random memories that make me smile

no matter what’s going on in my life right now.”

–Unknown

#thispuzzledlife

Soul Murder

Soul Murder

“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.” 
― 
Louise O’NeillAsking For It

I have written and spoken several times about my life and domestic violence.  Under the umbrella of domestic violence are several forms such as:  physical abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse; economic deprivation; endangerment; criminal coercion; kidnapping; unlawful imprisonment; trespassing; harassment and sexual abuse.  I knew that several years after leaving him that something about our sex life continued to haunt me.  I didn’t know what it was called but I always knew what it felt like….SOUL MURDER.

In the conservative deep south, I was brought up like many children to “save yourself for your husband.”  This was not a tall order for me as sports was my number one priority.  I would meet him at the age of 17 which was 19 years his junior.  Naivety led me right into the cold awaiting arms of a predator disguised as “Prince Charming.”  He used the one promise that he knew I couldn’t refuse to set the hook and reel me in “I will help you find your birth family.”  Rolling off his silver tongue of manipulation would be the promises of a future with a man who would “treat me like his queen.”  But like most things that seem too good to be true his promises would turn out to be lies.

I guess what made this so confusing was that I NEVER saw my dad treat my mom with disrespect.  I was questioning the whole time, “This is what I saved myself for?”  He was my first and the guy that finally trusted in such an intimate fashion only to have that trust betrayed in a way that is still too difficult to handle emotionally.  I secretly wondered why I was never told about this side of marriage.  The truth despite his “brainwashing” justifications for his actions was that no this was not normal and healthy marriages do NOT consist of this type of dominating behavior.

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Many years later while looking for answers regarding the strange, threatening and coercive nature especially with the passages of the Bible about how a “woman is to submit to her husband,” I came across the term Marital Rape and I knew instantly that this was what had happened.  The term marital rape describes “any unwanted sexual acts by a spouse or ex-spouse that is committed without the other person’s consent. Such illegal sexual activity are done using force, threat of force, intimidation, or when a person is unable to consent. The sexual acts include intercourse, anal or oral sex, forced sexual behavior with other individuals, and other sexual activities that are considered by the victim as degrading, humiliating, painful, and unwanted. It is also known as spousal rape” (https://definitions.uslegal.com/m/marital-rape/, 2018).

I personally have not been able to make sense of such an intimate form of betrayal.  This type of violence destroys you from the inside out.  Remembering how scared I was as a young child when the first time I was introduced to sexual abuse the rules of these types of scenarios were still very clear.  The easiest and least painful way to get through the moment was to give in to their demands.  If you try to fight them the abuse gets worse.  If you don’t “perform” for them the abuse gets worse.  And as I was told many times, “What are YOU going to tell them Dana?  You’re the “head case” with the mental history, not me.”  The puppet master continued to pull the strings to make sure that his needs and only his needs were met.

leftovers

Even as I write this the nausea bubbling like a pot on a stove builds its way to the back of my throat as I think about and remember the vile ways that I was treated as property rather than as a human being. I was not a wife but rather a legal whore.  Being told what I was going to do for him and then berated with humiliating and very damaging body image comments afterwards just seems to further rake into your soul with the devil’s claw.  Consensual loving sex is not…

  • Forced sex. This should be obvious. But some men have the mistaken idea that marriage changes the rules. It doesn’t. If a husband holds his wife down, pushes her, or imposes sex by hurting her, it’s rape. Making love doesn’t include making someone cry.
  • Sex when the wife feels threatened. If a husband forces sex through verbal threats of harm to the woman or to people or things she cares about or if he comes to her in a barely contained rage, she can’t consent. She can only comply rather than risk being harmed either physically or emotionally.
  • Sex by manipulation. If a husband calls his wife names, accuses her of not being a good wife, or blackmails her emotionally by suggesting she’s so bad in bed that he will go elsewhere, he’s manipulating her. Some men even threaten to leave and take the kids with him if their wives don’t comply with demands for sex. When a wife falls for these tactics, it isn’t consent. It’s rape.
  • Sex when the wife can’t give consent. Loving sex is genuinely consensual. If a woman is drugged, asleep, intoxicated or unconscious, she obviously can’t give consent. Even if she says “yes” in such circumstances, the “consent” isn’t valid or truthful. She’s in no shape to consider the consequences or to participate as a willing partner.
  • Sex by taking a woman hostage. Some men keep themselves in a position of superiority by controlling all the money, by making contact with friends and family difficult to impossible, or by making sure there is no way for her to get transportation out of the house. The woman becomes a hostage in her own home. Like many hostages, she gives up and gives in to whatever he wants — including sex.
  • Sex when the woman feels she has no choice. Giving in isn’t the same as giving consent. When a woman feels that it’s just easier to give in to sex than to respect her own needs, she is being raped (https://psychcentral.com/lib/marital-rape/, 2016).

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF SUCH BEHAVIORS INCLUDE:

  • Short-term psychological effects include PTSD, anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression and suicidal ideation.
  • Long-term psychological effects include disordered sleeping, disordered eating, depression, intimacy problems, negative self-images, and sexual dysfunction (https://vawnet.org/material/marital-rape-new-research-and-directions, 2018).

COMMON WAYS THAT ABUSERS AVOID RESPONSIBILITY FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT

  • Denial: Acting as if nothing out of the ordinary happened, boldly stating that it didn’t happen, calling you crazy for saying that it did, saying he doesn’t remember.
  • Rationalization: “You must have wanted it” “You could have stopped me,” “A husband is entitled to it”; Rationalization is also blaming you: ” If you gave me more sex I wouldn’t have to force you”
  • Minimization: I didn’t really hurt you” “You’re making a fuss about nothing” “I just wanted to make love to you.”
  • Claiming Loss of Control: “I was too turned on to stop”, “You make me so angry” (https://pandys.org/articles/partnerrapeoverview.html, 2009).

To say that I’ve lacked a fulfilling intimate sex life would be the understatement of my life.  The level of fear that I experience even with the most supportive relationship cannot accurately be described with words.  Whether it be child alters, teen alters or adult alters who step in to try and make this very part of my life possible, it always becomes a disaster.  Oh and the mood gets squashed when you think, “Finally, I can do this!” But, yet, you find yourself running from the bedroom straight to the bathroom to vomit.

What I can say about this type of abuse over many years is this….

He not only raped my body, he also raped my mind and murdered my soul.  I was very fortunate to meet someone like Mel who is one of the most caring, understanding and compassionate people I know.  Our relationship has always been based on love and not sex.  I married someone who loves me for the shattered and leftover parts of someone who use to be a fully functioning human being.  It took me loving and bowing down to a monster to be able to recognize an angel.  She and I walk hand-in-hand often with tears in both of our eyes trying to find a way through all the destruction.  She didn’t ask to be married to a spouse with so many complex problems both physically and mentally.  She does it because she loves me.  Would I go through it all again just to have her?  I go through it every day.  The abuse has never stopped.

“Here, from her ashes you lay. A broken girl so lost in despondency that you know that even if she does find her way out of this labyrinth in hell, that she will never see, feel, taste, or touch life the same again.”
― 
Amanda SteeleThe Cliff

#thispuzzledlife

The Thunder Rolls

The Thunder Rolls

“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated.

When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally

heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears

the screams healing can begin.”

― Danielle Bernock, Emerging with Wings: A True Story of Lies, Pain, and the Love That Heals

And this…..11:45 pm and it all slowly stars to descend upon me like a searing napalm death throughout my mind and body.  Each night it is the same familiar torment by way of body memories and flashbacks.  The same ambulance calls of 20 years prior.  The same horrific scenes, smells and sounds from former abusive relationships.  The pounding words and actions of an adult’s abuse of power that scared the young teen so bad that now all that’s left of her is RAGE, and ironically, lots of jokes and laughter.  The agonizing physical and emotional separation from the one who only became the vehicle, by which, that baby would enter the world still, somehow an inconvenience just for being born.  All of this in a sense of organized confusion that’s been set on continual repeat.

I feel something changing in my soul that’s not comforting but more evil.  Physically, all “systems” (no pun intended), were on some type of “Red Alert.”  The wave of fear that also spreads systemically is met by a cold shiver all the way down my spine.  As if I were in a standoff with my demons, I look it in the eye as if to say, “We Meet Again.”  I felt like I was looking into the eyes of the devil himself.  I was frozen with the fear of another night of flashbacks. I don’t move only to be enveloped by the sequential events that unfold every….single…night, and unfortunately, a lot of days.  The torturous movie reel and flashes of scenes from another time and place would remind me of where and how I have both failed and survived.

energy.jpg

The humiliation and dehumanizing mind games I still seem to wear as clothing in my own little crazy haven of distorted safety and love.  The sting of being a verbal punching bag as some kind of demented sport riddles me like Swiss cheese.  I don’t care if I die, I just want it to stop I repeatedly think.  Suicide seems like a viable option until I imagine the tear filled eyes of my children and wife.  You “white knuckle” these nights that are long and dark. Someone please stop this haunted fair ride you scream silently from deep within.  Teens and adults worn down by years of this daily torment has left its mark on even the youngest of alters.  The fierce guardians with a “no one goes in and no one comes out” stance leaves this community trapped by its on members.  Only for those screams to silently falls on deaf ears once more.

Just before you cash in your chips and just fall where you once stood you hear from the dark recesses of your mind you remember……

“And one day when you’re scared and unsure of what to do….Pick the direction and just do the next right thing.  You deserve the answers that are rightfully yours.  And when you find them protect your heart.”

“Look at me and we’ll do this together, Charlie.  What you do affects your entire team.  Your team need you now!  Dig deep and come on! And when you want to give up you just DONT.”

“Everything in life is a gift.  It may not come with pretty wrapping

 and a nice bow.  But it’s still a gift.

“Feel your feelings and be safe.”

“Do not react when you are in your emotional mind. Find something to be used as a distraction.  If you don’t have a train get creative.  View your situation without judgment.”

Because some nights require your sharpest tools for immediate recall to use at a moment’s notice.  Your mind and body has been trying to return to some form of homeostasis but the shaking continues.  Your shirt damp with sweat need the help of a cold wash cloth to help with grounding.  Some of images are now like dissipating like lightening from a summer storm.  Your chest tight with anxiety very slowly starts to lessen.  Another night of battle complete with me standing but tattered. Another night that your demons think that they win.  And my response this very night was, “Oh you thought you won?!!!  Watch this!!!!”  Again I made it because I have the heart of a champion.  “Charlie…you played your heart out tonight and made your team proud.  Now take a rest.”

You catch a glimpse of the sun slowly beginning to emerge from the darkness.   This very moment is what they told us to continue to fight for….another day to do something different.

#thispuzzledlife