The Other Side of My Cardboard

God has really worked on me today…this morning I woke up so unable to celebrate the Easter holiday, apathetic and still buried in sorrow from the loss of my children…

My heart is broken. That hasn’t changed. But, I have so many reasons to celebrate Easter. I know that Jesus is my Savior. I love God, but God loves me a lot more.

If I can add to this cardboard testimony….

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Happy Easter To My Children

ImageLast year was the first post-divorce Easter. It used to be my favorite holiday because one of my children has a birthday right before it and one has one right after. It was much harder last year than today, although I still can’t bring myself to celebrate the rising of my Lord and Savior.  I’ve had two years now to adapt to parental alienation and to life – as if there is one – without my four children.

He may have won custody, and he may keep us from contacting each other, but he can never replace me with a new girlfriend or new family traditions.  I know that now. I guess that’s what I didn’t know last year, and since I can’t be with my children today or hear their voices, I decided to honor them by remembering our family traditions.

  • Waking up to squeals of delight as children found their Easter baskets at sunrise.
  • Homemade French toast and syrup for breakfast.
  • Dying boiled eggs and hiding them for the kids to find.
  • Making deviled eggs and tuna salad sandwiches from the “found” eggs.
  • Visiting family or calling them on the phone.
  • Blowing bubbles outside in the sunshine
  • Looking for new four-leaf clovers, and finding caterpillars and budding flowers
  • Watching old Bible story movies.

To Amanda, Kaitlyn, Austin, and Katerina:

Mommy loves you all. You keep on growing. Develop your own opinions. They have merit. You will always be my babies. Nothing your father can do will ever change my love for you. Enjoy today. We will see each other and speak to each other on the first Saturday of the month, like every month, when we will have Easter on April 6th, and celebrate two of your birthdays.

Signs of Equality

8545_10151845914042468_2116655436_nI love the equal signs that have flooded Facebook today!  The message is warm, and ultimately respectful. I so want to see Congress grow a pair…and take action to allow equality in every aspect of life, and marriage is only part of that picture.  How sad it is, that we must rely on a government that was built on freedom from oppression, and developed with fierce diversity….to dictate to us… who we can marry, who we can legally kiss, hold, live a life with, parent with, cherish the golden years with, and die beside.

If you need a social comparison of how bizarre it is…to judge people by who they love…to understand it..

I wasn’t prejudiced in the 70’s growing up, when integrated schools were “new” and “being tried out experimentally in various school systems” in Alabama. I was raised to be open minded, to form bonds with people based on their personality, not by their skin color, not by what they wore, not by what they believed in, not by what political party they supported, or who they married…by my grandparents, who were all born in the 1910’s-1920’s – who must have been raised to be equally respectful of others by their parents and grandparents (born in the 1880’s-1910’s), despite societies norms which purposely divided people according to race in the time of my grandparents and parents, and according to sex in the times of my great-grandparents.

In this day and age, it’s almost ridiculous to think that white women were not treated equally, not given an equal chance as a white men to have an education, or to vote, or to work, or to make an equal wage. It’s almost absurd to think that people were once separated in schools, or assigned to different classrooms, simply because their skin colors were not the same. I remember not being able to share a classroom with my neighborhood playmates in the first years of elementary. It’s painful, but it was real. I saw it.  Alabama was one of the last to integrate. It blows my mind personally, to think that if you had the unfortunate experience of being born a natural descendant…if you were of the 3rd or 4th, or 10th generation of a person who was kidnapped and sold off the docks of Africa in the 1700-1800’s, and you were born and raised in the USA, and you worked here, and raised your family… and you were even able to fight for the country in war and die with pride doing so, you were still not allowed to cast a vote in my country until the 1960’s.  You couldn’t even use the same bathroom or drink from the same water fountain.  That sounds so painful to read in black and white. The “you can’t be gay” rule is no less ridiculous, absurd…painful.

Please let today be a new beginning for equality in marriage across the USA. Many of my friends and some of my family have been waiting on this moment.

Some of them for a very long time.

Reflections of Vietnam

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Vietnam War Memorial, Washington,D.C.  Visual credits http://www.crazywebsite.com

When the rebellion attacked our battalion, the issue wasn’t communism. They were simply people, who wanted to be left alone.  Blood oozed from my friend, and he died as the rain fell. That’s what I remember.

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That’s in response to this weekend ‘s 36 word Trifecta challenge. When I was 21 years old, I was able to visit the wall. It had been a lifelong need, to go see it. I don’t know why. I was born in 1970, and my father never fought in that war, so why would it affect me so deeply?  But it has.  The day I went to the wall,  and I touched it, I felt such loss. There were voices crying out “wronged” and souls searching for peace. When I gathered my self and was able to walk away, which took a while… I saw a vendor selling T-shirts, and the painting on it depicted exactly how I felt, so I got one. It was a copy of this same painting shown above. That was in 1991, and I still have it.

And on the 36th day, she rested.

And on the 29th day, she rested.

On February 15th of this year, the love of my life got very sick. It was some sort of stomach flu. It was going around at the time, hitting people pretty hard. Some people we knew had already had it for weeks and were still fighting it. I got it too, but my immune system is pretty strong, so I only had it for a day. Adam’s was really bad. He came out of it on March 16th. He should’ve gone to the hospital on many occasions, but he kept refusing because he has no health insurance. That being said, I had my work cut out for me. I guess it was a good thing that I was unemployed at the time, because there were some days, especially between the end of February and the first week of March, where he needed round the clock care and monitoring. He lost a lot of weight through the ordeal, and was extremely dehydrated. One of the strangest symptoms of this particular flu strain is the inability to lift your head or stay even awake, depending on how severe your case is.

I’m listing the symptoms below to warn people about it. This is nothing to play around with. If you get these symptoms, or your loved one does, go to a doctor immediately if you have the means. I really wish I had just knocked Adam out cold,and called 911 instead of respecting his wishes, because his body was already weak from having just years of living hard, and any time you have an illness for a long time, your organs are damaged. SO, be on the look out for:

MILD

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • heavy head feeling
  • nasal congestion/runny nose
  • lack of appetite
  • lack of thirst (even when dehydrated)
  • no desire to move

SEVERE

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • dark colored urine
  • inability to control body temperature
  • loss of weight/body fat
  • inability to get up
  • excessive sleepiness/drowsiness
  • sleeping all the time

I honestly believe the only thing that saved his life was prayers for his healing. Within a day or two of the prayer chain, he came out of this on his own. He started eating and keeping it down, and probably more important, drinking water by the gallon! Within a week he regained most of his strength. We were looking back on things earlier in the week, and talking about all that’s happened in the last 6 weeks. I kind of half-jokingly said, “You do know that you basically slept for like 1/3 of the winter, right?” He wrapped his arm around me and we walked, slowly because at the time he was still a little shaky and weak. He kept saying “Thank you” over and over. For every day when I would force him to drink water and take bites of food, even on the days and nights when he was throwing it back up and had no desire to eat or drink anything. For being patient with him as he slept when he wasn’t vomiting. For just being there when he would open his eyes. That was one thing he did when he came out of it, was just look at me for the longest time! I finally asked him after he wouldn’t stop looking at me for like ten whole minutes “What is up with you?” 😀 He said, “I haven’t seen you in a while.”

The picture I took tonight and shared with you is very special to me, because its proof that he is OK.

I actually took a nap today. I started my new job this morning, came home and rested. When I woke up, he was making dinner.

The man is making dinner 🙂 The crisis is over and he is OK!!!

It Happened To Me

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I’m not going to spill a sob story. I am going to say things that are hard to read, but what I’m really talking about between the lines, is resilience. Not victimization. Want someone to pity? Find another blog.  That being said, I do want to talk about it, get it out, and close the book on it.

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All my young life, I was a wild, spirited person, living in a quiet outer shell.  I was an intellectual child, wise beyond my years, who loved reading, who loved doing my older aunts high school algebra homework by age 7, and who loved writing. I started writing stories when I was only 10.  It was an escape. But, I had started the habit of escaping at a very young age. I was drawing with charcoal on concrete from as young as…. well, old enough to grasp my fingers around the lump of charred firewood.

From as far back as I can recall, I loved the thrill of a high. After being raped at age 14 by two boys from the high school I attended for just one year in Alabama, I moved to Virginia to live with my mother and, despite her being a chemical dependency nurse at a local mental hospital, I started using drugs like marijuana, and massive amounts of liquor to achieve the escape I longed for.  I became an EMT at a local rescue squad at age 15.  I wasn’t popular in high school. I wasn’t high maintenance, didn’t care about owning only one pair of jeans, and didn’t spend hours in front of a mirror getting ready for school. My priorities were schoolwork, and fulfilling my need to escape reality however I could on any given day. I went through boyfriends left and right between the ages of 15 and 18.  I had been married twice by age 21. I was intensely sexual, and secretly loved every moment of it. I didn’t know why I had always been different from other women my age, but I would find out when I was 22 years old and pregnant with my first child.

I think that the buried memories of my young childhood came during that pregnancy, because it was the first time since it happened,  that the part of my physical body that had been damaged so bad as a child, was once again being controlled by someone else, and like then, I was having constant abdominal pain.

The memory came in my 10th week of pregnancy. My cousin was digging in the closet and pulled out a ukelele that once belonged to my great-uncle Ray, who died when I was 7.  I had always remembered him fondly.  He was gentle and kind to me. He used to find great pleasure in feeding me candied orange slices. I was crazy about those things. He would entertain me by playing this old ukelele. He would sing and play, and I would dance in my little dress that my mother had hand stitched. I can still recall, looking down as I twirled around at his request, watching my little feet turn in my black dress shoes. That memory must have been of a holiday like Easter, because I hardly ever wore a dress.

My cousin playfully strummed the ukelele. Something stirred in the pit of my stomach, and my blood turned ice cold.  Every internal warning bell, every heightened sense of awareness crept through my body starting from that cold pit, until it reached out into every pore of my skin, and I started to sweat. In that moment my ears were ringing, and I was breathing like a stalked animal hiding under a rock, praying to not be seen. I was outside of my body, watching what happened next.

I didn’t say a word. I gave her no warning. I was in a strange haze. I simply grabbed the instrument out of my shocked cousins hands, and smashed it into pieces against the wall…and without any explanation, walked out of the house, crying so hard I could barely see the ground in front of me. I was shaking, feeling vulnerable and betrayed. All I knew was that it was something that I recognized, but I knew it was from a very dark place that had no name… and I knew I hadn’t felt since I was very young.

When I was outside, I wrapped my hands around my pregnant belly, as if by doing so, I could check on my baby.  The air felt different.  I was no longer innocent, and the sky somehow knew it.  I didn’t feel alone either.  I felt the love and support of my family, even before I knew why.  I immediately told my mother. She broke down in tears. She had known all along, hoping I would never remember.

Very quickly after that day, memories came. Little flashes here and there, triggered by different things.  Springtime brought memories. That Easter I was hospitalized for dehydration because I couldn’t stop vomiting. I didn’t have morning sickness. I had constant all day and all night sickness. The usual joys of preparing for motherhood were not there.  I would get sick just by going shopping, triggered by looking for a crib, buying baby clothes, a car seat.  Although the clear memory of being raped by my great-uncle was of when I was  4 years old, other ones, of just being touched inappropriately and feeling helpless, or of fallacio , were pre-verbal, before my first steps.

When I was 20 weeks along, I found out that I was carrying a girl.  I had known from the beginning, just because I felt very close to my unborn child. I had this undeniable connection, and I was becoming a tiger. I wanted to protect her even before she was born. I was scared to death of the world she was being born into. My only solace was that my abuser was dead, and he had been for a very long time.  I joined a child sex abuse survivors group when I was 30 weeks along.  I started seeing a psychiatrist regularly. I still wanted my memories to be made up, but you just couldn’t make up the things I was saying, and unfortunately they were being validated by surviving relatives who knew my great-uncle.

It turns out I was probably his last, in a long line of children including his own, who he violated. He was never arrested for it, even though he was caught several times and thrown out of where ever he was living at the time. He was always the first to volunteer to babysit. That was how he got me. My mother was in college to be a nurse at the time I was born. He babysat me from about age 6 weeks, when her maternity leave ended, until I was 4.  Uncle Ray was thrown out of my grandmothers house when she walked in on him and me.

It happened the day I was wearing the dress, and spinning around and around, looking at my shoes.  It’s no wonder I never saw that dress again. My mind blocks out the blood stains that I’m sure were there. I remember it was trimmed with red velvet stripes, had white lace under the skirt and on the sleeves, and had a bell sown into the hem, that I lived to jingle. I would spin until I got dizzy to hear it. I remember abdominal pain afterwards. Burning when I urinated, back to back unexplained urinary infections that concerned my pediatrician. I was an insomniac until I was about 7 years old, afraid of the dark and of what was around the corner.

Huh….7…..maybe on some level, at that tender age when I found out he was dead, I knew it was safe, even though I had already buried the memories of what he had done. He was my favorite uncle, when I was 7.  Knowing now, that he could’ve destroyed my tiny womb and my ability to have children, by violating me with his adult body when my body was so small, still to this day I want to kill him.  I’m 43, and that’s a waste of my energy.

With this cleansing breath, as I type this, I give that to God.

Safety

It’s something we want to always feel. It means so much to so many people.

Today’s been such an emotional day. A lifelong friend who was incarcerated two decades ago, walked out, free, and was finally reunited with his family, as of about 9 am this morning. His son, now an adult, snapped a picture of his father this morning and shared it with me. I love their entire family as if they were my own…it’s been such a blessing to have had them in my life the last 27 years.

In my friend’s eyes, I saw such pain and such relief, an almost disbelief…raw, numbness. It made me think of how a person must feel when they lose their legs. When the moment comes, immediately after the crisis is behind them, when they feel so scared because they know the ground beneath their feet will never feel quite the same. When the realization hits them, they think they can never be able to do the things the neighbor down the street with two legs – with a lifetime of never questioned certainty – can do.

I want to tell my friend, you can make it, and it’s OK to feel like you can’t move during the days ahead when you don’t know how. Half of your life has gone by and the view hasn’t changed out your window. Your legs and feet knew every step of the shadows. It must have felt like an eternity. Minutes feeling like hours, and hours feeling like days, which turned into decades, and for that eternity, your family’s love for you never changed. You have such a support system. Your family, your good friends, have never stopped praying for your safety, for your health, and your freedom. We who knew you before the dark days, wept for you then. The tears of joy are here now, across the miles!

I want to encourage you to write, to sing….to cry…to scream. Cry and scream! It will feel so good. You’ll find your feet, feel the ground in a new way, and your body will move, and your mind will free itself from the last two decades.

You’re safe now. You hear me? God’s got His arms around you. He always has. Keep your eyes forward. Don’t look back, and live everyday knowing you’re treasured.