Bittersweet

bittersweet

Forcing myself to write…even if it’s not good writing. My hope is that by forcing myself to do it without ant concern or worry of the quality, the tone, the content, or the value, then I might slowly regain my voice again. I need my voice. I need my voice even if no one ever reads my words. I need my voice even if no one believes me. I hope to someday think and feel eloquently again and write that, but until then, forced it is.

Living in my daddy’s big old house is an experience that fully defines the adjective, bittersweet. I head into the kitchen where my dad spent the majority of his time in the 24 years he lived in this house… I head in there to make something for lunch. It is, like me, a contradiction and maybe that’s precisely why I’m so comfortable within that very discomfort? However, this goes far beyond a mere contradiction straight to bittersweet…all contradictions at one time – a simultaneous infusion of emotions, memories, thoughts, words, expressions, situations, and people…pushing right up against each other, smacking each other around the edges of what defines them.

I head into his kitchen… and standing in there as I think of what I might want to whip up for lunch, the urge to be given one more chance to cook for him stings. It stings like 5,000 wasps have landed on my heart and my gut…and they’re angry. They sting all at once and so viciously that my eyes water, screaming for that moment of relief tears would bring. I usually fight them though, almost as though I don’t deserve to cry; as though I don’t deserve that millisecond of relief when the tears finally roll. And I want so badly to just call out through the house into the living room where my daddy is watching golf, some old western movie, or maybe a country music video, Hey Daddy? Can I make you some lunch?  I want to so badly because I think of the million times I could have hollered that out…and didn’t. And from there, I think of the 200 zillion delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that man made me over my lifetime. I think of my favorites. I think of him asking me what I would like to eat as though I were in a restaurant and anything could be whipped up at my desire. I think of later years as an adult how every single visit to daddy’s house was greeted with, Hey baaaaaby (that BIG SMILE lighting up his whole face)! There’s some beef stew/spaghetti/steak/biscuits and gravy/ Hamburger Helper/tuna salad/prime rib/barbecue ribs/potato salad (enter any number of delicious Southern dishes in here). Are you hungry?

I need to DO something FOR HIM….do something without asking anything first or in return or anytime within the next week or month or best yet, year, from him. I’m hit with the undeniable, painfully fervent need to do for him…take care of him…serve him… you see, this was who he was. He did this all my life for me and then when I had two children, he simply added two more people to serve up his kindness and generosity, his time and undivided attention, his compassion, his wisdom…all things that he could serve us laced with his love. And my daddy had a great big love for us. In fact, great big doesn’t really even begin to describe it. This man – this old-fashioned, hardworking, traditional values, classic southern man would serve us like a slave maid. And always did so with a BIG smile and happy heart, with never a single complaint or a whine or a tiny hint of much-deserved martyrdom guilting techniques or sighs. No. He served us like princesses and was unbelievably joyful to be doing it. Nothing was too much for him to do for us. Absolutely nothing.

 

(Side note: a great irony to this massive, unlimited, willingness to give and serve we three girls he loved so great big are the hundreds of stories my mother told me growing up about my dad. There were countless ugly stories where he was some kind of chauvinist pig demanding maid, cook, and personal service while selfishly not contributing whatsoever. Actually, worse even than simply not contributing, the stories were more along the lines of, “Your dad didn’t care one bit if we had food in the house or if we all starved to death. There were so many times I didn’t know how I would feed you two kids. Your dad would go on binges for weeks at a time when I didn’t know where he was or when he was coming back or when we would eat again.”)

So, as I step in that kitchen where the majority of 24 years’ worth of memories were made, I desperately want to serve him even just for one split second…serve him as unselfishly, joyously, and eagerly as he did me and my two children. I want to show him how happy I would be to do for him even if it’s just bringing him a cup of coffee.   I’m learning so much about my flaws, my weaknesses, my shortcomings throughout the nightmare of the past two years. In my daddy’s kitchen, I realize the bottomless depth of my fears…and I grasp the fullness of my excuses. I may not be one for blame so much, but I’m certainly the queen of excuses: legitimate excuses, ridiculous excuses, emotional excuses, any number of those pesky little stupid explanations for why.

Why… is always such a painful question.  Ouch!
You see, I realize so much now that although I am by nature as giving and loving as my daddy (thank you for that characteristic by the way, Daddy!), I’m the laziest perfectionist you could ever know. Therefore, in spite of my eagerness to do for others – and particularly my beloved daddy – I would rather do nothing than do something in return that could never come close to measuring up to the gift I’ve received. And it always seemed anything I could have done for my daddy would be akin to putting a drop of water back in the ocean after taking enough out to fill 500 Olympic sized swimming pools. If I can’t return a favor equally or better yet, in spades more than I have been given, then I typically don’t do anything at all. Pretty flawed logic, huh? And the bottom line truth of me is that I never had any remote degree of physical, mental, emotional, or financial abundance to ever come even close to matching what my daddy gave and did for me and my children all my life. So, I typically did very little in return other than chronically express my hopes and prayers that “someday” I would be able to do something great big and wonderful in return. I mean, I expressed gratitude and gratefulness, love and appreciation daily, I honored birthdays and Fathers’ days in every way I was able albeit usually smaller ways than I’d have liked and constantly professed my love for him, and I did most everything he ever asked of me which was very rare and usually minor. And meanwhile, out of my desire to match up to his giving magnitude, I did practically nothing of those little daily graceful kindnesses in return. Never realizing how much those little drops in the ocean could have been accumulating over the years…before time ran out.
Standing in my daddy’s kitchen deciding what to make for lunch, the sheer volume of his grace and blessings on me over my 44 years wash over me like a fresh splash of a gigantic salty ocean wave. I am humbled to my knees by it. And as it washes over me, it stings a million tiny cuts in my skin of all the lost opportunities I didn’t get to do for him and burns with the dreaded realization that death makes those little and big opportunities gone forever.

Advertisements

No words…a quietly violent death

when_there_is_no_words_to_say_any_more_by_delawer_omar-d6069cr

I want my voice back! I want…no, NEED…to write of these things. The breathless pain, the torturous injustice, the made-for-tv-movie drama filled bullshit, the nightmare I can’t wake from.
I need to tell my story and share my truth. I need to whine incessantly, bitch and moan annoyingly,…I am so desperate to write it…spew it all over the pages like filthy projectile vomit…throw it out there like a slab of disgusting rancid wretched meat into the cesspool of anonymous oblivion.
Why can I not? Why can’t I get it OUT?
It’s as though I was sucker punched in the gut taking all wind from my body and before I could breathe again to get that out on paper, I was sucker punched again in the head this time so I couldn’t breathe OR think to tell about it…and as I tried to catch my breath and regain my senses this time, the blows just started pummeling me non-stop, chronic sucker punches from all directions…turning my already delicate world upside town like my earth became a blender and I the sole lonely contents…viciously being grinded, smacked, punched, kicked, ripped, shredded into a puddle where there once was at least the shell of a human being with a soul, a heart, and internal organs floating aimlessly inside. Now a puddle of nothing… what would I even be a puddle of now? Tears, blood, scar tissue, liquefied brain mass, and picked scabs? ….all inside this skin of a shell holding the random, chaotic leftovers of the human blender. Deceptively with no signs of the inner sheer pandemonium from the outside.
But where is my voice? The dust has settled a bit. The desperate reaches of my mind make daily attempts to reassemble in some sort of working order… They’ve not succeeded yet, but with some coaxing and reminding, I can take breaths here…and there….when my brain remembers to remind my body to breathe…. Breathe…. Take a breath. There you go. Deeper….release…repeat. but my voice is still feeble and my brain mass still too confused to write.
And dear Lord in heaven, I so desperately need to write of this! I’m suffocating and paralyzed with jumbled emotions, tragedies, and a chronic sense of sheer and dark doom. It’s choking me moment by moment…all right there…but so disorganized and outraged, bleeding and messy…that it shuts up my voice. My god damned voice. The only fucking thing I’ve ever ALWAYS had. My voice which when couldn’t speak, would write…and write…and write…til the wee hours of dawn or midnight candles burned into non-existence. When my mother choked me with fear and hatred, read my journals, and punished me for them, I wrote at school and saved them in my trusty old orange locker, tossing them in the garbage on the last day of school. Or, I wrote poetry, cleverly disguising truth with whimsically mysterious words that only I knew the meaning, rhyme, and reason… Pretending it was just a magical DisneyWorld of words
But I fucking spoke. I spoke with pen and paper, my passion for words and an inner fearless light that no one could shut me up from there. Not that place. Not my place; my only place in the universe where somehow the quiet horrors or indescribable pain came to life and existed. They existed like the thoughts running through your mind exist and skip and frolic fearlessly. And no one could deny them there or punish them or twist them into something they never were.
I had a fucking voice.
Now, I am wordless, voiceless, a scattered being tossing about on the wind like my daddy’s loving ashes…and yet I’m not emotionless.
I do not exist…and yet in the cruelest irony of them all, somehow I do still exist within that very blender of pummeled non-existence.
Without a voice, I don’t know how…or why… I’m forced to exist at all.

Elephant in my living room!

I can’t talk to M about much of anything anymore and it scares me.  We are moving so soon and so much rides on him for that…. 

I keep trying in a delicate, but honest, way to point out my concerns, but just like 13 years ago, everything is an “attack”.  Every word of concern gets met with, “I AM NOT A BAD PERSON!!  I AM NOT A BAD PERSON!!  I AM NOT A BAD PERSON” screamed repeatedly over my trying-to-stay calm voice and words, until I have no choice but to hang up the phone.  Obviously, this doesn’t result in anything productive and does the very opposite of reassuring my fears. 

This experience throws me clear into full force PTSD as I’m hurled instantly to 13 years ago…trapped, scared, nervous, with a 3 month old child to care for.  My knees shake, my head spins and the frustration at not being heard, not being counted, not being considered, not being able to even TALK is overwhelming and terrifying to my core.  What am I doing?

Mark, he who I’ve watched struggle and kick for years, fighting his way past and beyond all that once haunted and controlled him, is yet again unreachable, irreproachable, impossible to reason with. And I am left feeling two options:  return to that horribly handicapping environment which threatened my sanity or continue raising my children far away from their loving father.  

Even the choices alone don’t feel like choices.  They feel like steel walls closing in on me fast, boxing me in tight, with the “rules” written in graffiti all over them in bold black paint.  Rules from my childhood; rules from my relationship with Mark 13 years ago. 

The rules:

  1.  No matter what M does or says, it’s always absolutely fine.
  2. No one is to question, doubt, or worry about M’s behaviors or choices.  They are all as close to perfect as could possibly be.
  3. No one is to point out (kindly or otherwise) any fears or, God forbid, discrepancies in Mark’s choices.
  4. If you see an elephant in the living room, no one is to speak of it, question its presence, or for God’s sake call it an elephant.  Nothing is what it appears and only M knows what it really is, so he cannot be questioned or expected to communicate with the rest of us. 
  5. It’s M’s world…only his reality counts…the rest of us are just graced with the opportunity to live in it…so SHUT UP.
  6. If you speak or imply any of the above, it is a direct “attack on M” and he will kick and scream accordingly, deftly playing the offense is the best defense game to the point that you’re wasting every word you can actually get into the conversation, trying (in utter futility) to insist that you’ve not attacked or insulted M.
  7. Every word you say that is not an ass-kissing “M, you’re the GREATEST!”  is, in fact, going to be considered an attack.
  8. Your actual words will not ever matter.  They are ALL an attack on Mark, unless they are a direct and undisguised compliment of his person and character.
  9. M will hear what M hears and it’s not up for discussion…  What M hears IS what you said, no matter how far off it may seem (to you) from what you’ve actually said.
  10. Questions, doubts, fears (authentic or otherwise) will NOT be tolerated or spoken of EVER.
  11. Unless you are complimenting M on how wonderful he is, you must SHUT UP AT ALL TIMES.

I am afraid.  I am rendered paralyzed to act and terrified to speak of my concerns…while the walls close in tighter on me.