Saturday, December 5, 2009


Lately, many of my thoughts have been surrounding my mother.  I have never given much thought to our relationship or who she was as a person.  Perhaps wrongly, I have given her the designations of... she was mean...she hurt me a lot... she let others hurt me too.  Beyond that, I have thought very little about her.

I was the firstborn.  I have always wondered how she felt when she was pregnant with me.  Was she excited?  Did she dread becoming a mother?  Was she nervous?  Did she feel much of anything?

She always told me that she wished I had never been born, she should have aborted me, I was the result of an affair, I trapped her into being married to my father, and when my sister died she told me that she wished it had been me.  Not knowing what to fully believe, these things she spoke have defined me as a daughter. 

I am someone's wife and that is good.  I am someone's mother and that is good.  I am someone's daughter and that is devastating.

I have allowed myself to think beyond the surface of my mother.  I remember going into her bathroom as a child and spraying her perfume on myself.  It was Chanel No. 5.  I can still smell it faintly.  Having her scent on me was like a hug.  It was the closest I got to a hug from her.  When she caught me smelling of her expensive perfume, I paid.

But it was worth it for a hug from her.

I remember watching her get ready for a party; I was sitting on the corner of their bed. My mother was a beautiful woman.  Thick and straight blonde hair, fair skin, a beautiful smile... I look nothing like her.  My sister did.  I am the lucky one who looks exactly like my father.  Her hair was perfect, her makeup was flawless, her dress was red, and she was wearing her perfume.  She called out a goodbye as she walked past me and they were gone.  No hug, no kiss. 

So I sprayed my own hug.

It's funny; the smell of his various colognes will still make my stomach lurch or worse.  But the smell of her perfume still gives me a warm feeling.  At best, perhaps his evil was different than her evil.  In reality, it is probably because he gave me too many hugs while she gave me none.

More frequently than not, I have hated my mother more than my father.  I also find myself loving him more than I have ever loved her.  I feel badly about this.  My mother was broken far before I came along.  The remaining shreds of her sanity and dignity my father ripped away.  Pity isn't the right word for what I feel.  I try but I cannot put my finger on what I feel toward her.

I just don't know.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


My past is my present. Or more accurately; their past is my present. D.I.D. is a complex coping mechanism where the file cabinets of my past contain dusty files that are old by years but new to me. These files are pulled out and opened in a number of ways.

I have a flashback. Something triggers a file cabinet to open; a smell, a touch, a glance, a sound. A drawer flies open, a dusty file is shoved in my face, and I am in the exact moment. I can feel him grabbing me, I can smell his aftershave, I can see the hate in his eyes, and I can hear the sound of his footsteps. I am there. Yes, this is just a memory but it feels all too real and many times it is new to me. This can happen anywhere and anytime; at home, at work, in a car.

I have a nightmare while sleeping. It seems that these occur more frequently when I neglect the other "parts" of me. It's the same as a flashback; the sensations are real and in the present. It unnerves my husband when I wake up screaming, punching, kicking, terrified and it takes a moment to return to the present.

An alter and I have a conversation. We discuss, matter of fact, their past and it infringes on my present. Suppose you learn that an old friend passed away a few years back. Are you less sad to hear of their death just because time has passed? Probably not. Perhaps you even have a greater sadness because you missed hearing the news and grieving when it happened. So despite the time that has passed, many files are new to me and the feelings, the abuse, and the grief are lived in real time.

I spent years pretending that nothing happened. I thought it normal that I could remember few events of my childhood. I thought it normal to have voices in my mind and an unbelievably poor memory because I missed hours, even days because I was dissociated and someone else was running the show. I ignored the physical scars that covered my body. It wasn't until I was forced to have a c-section because physically I could not give birth to my daughter naturally because of such extensive scar tissue that I began to unravel and participate in my past.

So here I dissect their past and merge it with my own present. In therapy I talk, re-live, feel, and give credit to their work of protecting me. It is a bitch of a process. I get frustrated because I don't feel that I am making any progress. I feel stuck. In the past. However, in my frustration I am learning to see that re-living, acknowledging, and embracing the past is the quickest route to the present.

And even the future.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


A year or so ago, in my city, a young girl was strangled by her stepfather.  After she died the truth came out.  She had been abused for years by this man and there were records to attest to her pain.  In talking with my therapist, he asked me how I thought this girl was probably feeling.  In her life I imagined that she felt sad, alone, hurt, etc.  And in the end, I didn't even have to think.  I knew.  She felt relief.

I am in kindergarten and I love my teacher.  She says I'm good at reading and she gives me stickers.  She doesn't know that I am really a bad little girl.  I am bad and if she knew she would probably take away my stickers.

My mom is sad.  She looks like she will be mad if I keep doing bad things.  I am taking a bath and she is in the other room.  I have bubbles.  I love bubbles.  I can take the bubbles and cover my body up; I can hide my face with them and no one will know who I am.  I can be a man with a beard.  A man with a beard is much safer than I am.

I have to wash my hair.  I have very long hair and I hate when we have to wash it.  So does my mom.  She hates my hair.  She also hates me. 

I am going to help her; I am going to wash my hair myself.  The shampoo runs out of the bottle like honey.  I capture most of it with my chubby hands.  I lean my head back and rub my hands through my hair.  I am doing it right; my mom is going to be happy.  The bubbles grow in my hair and I hear the shampoo crackle in my ears.  My hair will be really clean and my mom will be happy.

But now the shampoo is running down my forehead and into my eyes.

I did not use my baby sister's shampoo and now my eyes are burning.  I am a stupid kid.  I splash water in my eyes; water with more bubbles in it.  My eyes are burning more and I am splashing lots of water.  My mom hears me.

She walks into the bathroom and sees me.  I have made her mad.  She kneels down next to the bathtub and I tell her what is wrong.  She is going to help me.  She leans me back to get the soap away from my eyes.

My head is underwater.  Soapy water rushes into my mouth and nose.  My eyes burn less but I am scared.  Even underwater, I can hear my mother's muffled screams. 
Rotten... miserable... stupid... hateful... ugly... wish you were dead... child.
I try to sit up and I cannot.  Her mommy hands are on my chest.  I lurch forward again and this time I steal a breath.  I can see in color again.

Dead... dead... dead...!
She screams louder and louder.  Color becomes black and white and screams are muffled once again.  I feel my body move with the water and there is peace.  I do not struggle.  I rest.  I relax.

I feel relief.  All I hear is the water and it is a peaceful sound.  Relief means that the pain will stop.  Relief means that I am no longer bad.  Relief is murky bathwater pouring in.  Relief envelops me.  Relief means that my teacher will miss me at school.

My mouth is open and fresh air is invading into my lungs.  The water is cold and the bubbles are gone.  My mother is sobbing in the corner of the bathroom.  My eyes no longer burn.  I shiver but I dare not move.  I feel cold but I feel so much more.

I am alive and I feel despair.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


There are times where beauty surrounds us.  And there are more times where there is little beauty to be found.  I grew up in a cold, dark, and ugly museum.  Those who know me and know even a snippet of my past seem surprised that I grew up in a wealthy family.  For some reason, abuse is often perceived as a lower class problem.  Child Protective Services visited my family on a few occasions and they were met with a facade of beauty. 

Abuse could not be happening here... not in such a beautiful home... not with such a beautiful family.

Bullshit.  It was happening and I believe that our money made it worse.  There was a perception of beauty; a deceitful view.  Beauty really is skin deep.

There is false beauty and there is true beauty.  True beauty is hard fought.  It is foraged from ruins; from devastation.  When beauty does not surround you, you become creative.  You are forced to.  Some of the most gifted and creative people came from despaired lives.  They were forced to become creative; a compensation to survive.

I have a hidden talent.  I am creative.  People are always surprised when they find this out.  See, I am logical and analytical.  So much so that I solve math problems for fun.  Yeah, I know.  But I have a whole other side to me; a side that draws, sews, quilts, crochets, etc.

I discovered my love for quilting a few years ago.  There is something fascinating and soothing in taking fabric, cutting it into pieces, piecing a quilt top, quilting it, and then making something useful out of previously cut apart fabric.  I create my own beauty.  I have had to do this my entire life; previously out of necessity and now because I love it. 

Much like a quilt, I have been cut to pieces.  I will never be the original fabric I was created to be.  But now I have the chance to piece my life into something beautiful and useful.  It is an amazing opportunity.  Quilting is a painful process; needle pricks, calluses, and punching through multiple layers make the process hard.  It takes patience.  And love.  The thread pulls and holds everything together and what else could that be other than love?  My thread is those in my life who love me, contribute, stabilize, encourage, inspire, and create a beautiful and intricate quilting design. 

I could not do this without my thread.