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I keep coming back to the cutting thing.

I was 13 at my first cut. I'm not sure where I first heard of the idea. Maybe I read it somewhere. Maybe a friend showed me. I don't remember the circumstances of the first cut. I do remember taking a safety pin and, in some moment of frustration and self-recrimination, making the lightest of scratches on my wrist. Barely an abrasion, hardly enough for blood to seep up at all.

But it made me feel better and after that, I always kept a safety pin on me.

The real cutting, the real razor-and-knife damage didn't come up until I was 15 and desperately fighting the abuse at home. Scratching no longer did the trick. It was a cry for help, a medication. It was a way to do all of the things to speak from the inside that screaming from the outside couldn't accomplish.

But as with any addiction, one builds a tolerance and must increase the dosage to get the same result. Cutting may have very well been the first addiction. My first addiction, because by 15 there was more wounded flesh on me than whole skin.

At my second teenage psych ward, the admitting nurse said I was the worst case of self-mutilation that she'd seen in 15 years. For well over a decade, I was almost proud of it. Now it just makes me very sad.

There is a biological side to the appeal of cutting, small as it is. Any wound immediately sends the body into painkiller and repair mode. Usually we are too surprised by the injury to notice it (no one feels better after stubbing their toe), but if you're aware of and expecting it, you can catch that wave of white blood cells and ride it out like a surfer.

I often wonder what the difference is between people who ARE able to do that and others who aren't. Masochism obviously plays a role, but what wires in the brain are crossed where one person is relieved by MORE pain than by less? Like, biologically, what makes the difference? Surely there's an answer, but in 20 some odd years, I've never bothered to research.

As I found drugs and alcohol, the cutting slowed but never stopped. It always remained a second option. When I gave up the drugs and alcohol, it became closer to a third or fourth option, as I was sober enough to realize the goal was to not hurt myself at all, but was without the proper tools to fight the real urges.

At 21, hunched over in the bathroom of a friend's work, came the cut that I thought would be my last. Funnily enough, it came from a safety pin, as I'd been wearing a skirt a size or two too large and had hooked it up. I don't quite remember what prompted that cut, either. I do remember, though, an overwhelming feeling of rejection and loneliness.

Rejection, frustration, loneliness...but never hopelessness. Never like a few weeks ago. Cutting always felt like I was doing something, an action, something I could control, no matter how badly a controlled action I knew it to be. This time around? It felt as if the choice had been removed. As if that was my last option. I knew better, knew it enough to weep at my own weakness at purposefully choosing a bad way of dealing with a bad situation, but the hopelessness had already swept me out to a turbulent and bloody sea.

Hopelessness. Maybe I'm not so much hung up on the cutting thing as I am the hopelessness that accompanied it. That was new. That was completely, absolutely, new. I'd never felt that level of defeatism before. And it's amazing to me just how fast it came on, how deeply pure and perfect in its clarity it was. It sounds waxing poetic and even like I'm dangerously glorifying it, but the sheer lucidity of the moment bowls me over even now.

I always say that if there's one thing I'm good at, it's getting help for my mental health. I am resourceful, having taught myself from 15 on how to get mental health help. Where the meetings are, where the free therapy is, what friends to reach out to, what crisis lines to call for help.

I saw no help that night. I saw nothing but an endless void of bad days, non-functional days, and that void swallowed every previous example of getting help before. And this time it wasn't a safety pin, it was a razor, and the scars will stay for some time.

Switching addictions had come up in yesterday's meeting, and I'd said "I can be sober from drugs and alcohol for all the years I want. But if I'm hurting myself and scaring my loved ones, then I'm not really sober - and I want to be really sober."

Yes, the hopelessness and the giving up of cutting sobriety time. I think that's what's got me hung up on all this. Not the wounds themselves. Those will heal. What I remember feeling in the bathroom that night - I'll never forget that.

I wish I could. Maybe I ought not to.
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"I'm sorry I stayed married to a child molester."

"Jimmie, what your father did does not reflect on you. It never will. You are not him. His sins are not yours."

"I don't want to kill Jim. I want him to get his karma alive. Then he can die and become a tree. Everyone's recyclable."

"They have 35 guns in their house."

"She was a child, mom. What's with the Teressa hate parade? What good did burning all her stuff do? She was just a kid.

And for the first time in years, I feel sorrow for my mother. Not pity. Not quiet disgust. Sorrow. This is where she put herself. This is where she will keep herself. Is there ever anyone too far gone? I don't know. Her case seems a good one to argue that some people do, indeed, slide too deep into the abyss to ever claw back out of.

Cassie is back, healthy, wise, clean. And full of things that I knew, in my heart, in my head, simply through history and practice, that still shocked me when I heard it.

The first quote my mother told Cassie in a brief moment of lucidity. She tried to get off her methadone, had 48 hours of clarity, before Jim forced her to take the drugs again. Cassie did not react well, furious that our mother knew the whole time, ripped apart by the level of cowardice that my mother is awash with. This is what finally caused her to cut them out.

The second quote is what I wish to tell my kid brother, who has cut out Cassie and I due to these accusations, no matter how many times his father tries to kill his mother. I can understand his rage. He cannot understand my compassion.

The rest? Things Cassie said. I knew these things, as we all know these things after all these years talking about them. Even if I didn't KNOW these things, I knew these things.

I am overwhelmed by what I didn't know I knew.

All that anger I felt towards Cassie? Gone. Melted away. I guess I shouldn't say "melted away." It's been over two years since we've talked. I've worked it out, though I still worry about pitfalls. But the rage and resentment?

Maybe being sick made me realize that feeling all that towards her, carrying it for her, just made me sicker. All I feel is gratitude that she is back and she is better.

She wanted to hear the emo music I've been listening to. I guess as a way to connect. I didn't want to share that. It's mostly two Icon For Hire songs. One's an anthem about the strength to not cut. Another asks herself who she will be when she gets well.

Did I choose cutting as a way to sabotage all of the positive letting go and becoming a better person that I'd spent weeks thinking about, because of becoming so sick? Was that even a little part of it? Or am I thinking too hard about it?

Did I sabotage myself at all, or was it a slip? Why is what it was important? I haven't felt the need to cut since. Why can't I just put it up as something I did out of desperation and let it go?

My mother always knew. I knew this. I just didn't know this.

Xanax makes me jumps subjects. Or else there's just so much to write.

There's always so much to write. I could write for 30 years straight, not a sip of water, not a bite of food, and still not get it all down. I find this maddening. How many missing stories are there in these pages? Places where I say there is so much to write, but I don't, and the stories and events get lost in the interim?

She's asked me not to share the details here, but what Cassie's been through in the last two years....there is no word in the English language to express what the pain has carved into her. It doesn't matter what she did to herself and what others did to her. The scars, the burns, what is inside is gouged and clawed.

I left her alone to all of that. I didn't know, this I truly didn't know, but I recognize the empty spaces where things were ripped out. Places that may never be filled again, through no fault of her own, but out of what happened itself.

As a child, you want to know everything. As a teenager, you think you know everything. As an adult, you know there are things that you never want to know.

Sometimes the line between what we do or don't know know blur so fantastically that I can no longer tell the difference.
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I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but yes, it is possible to put too much cream cheese on a bagel. Had to scrape some off this morning. First time for everything.

As I've been eating toasted bagels, it reminded me of an old cartoon PSA that has always stuck in my mind. Strongly. At the end of every Inspector Gadget episode, there was a mini Public Service Announcement, usually reminding children to not do things like dive into the shallow end of the pool or get into cars with strangers.

This one was about getting electrocuted. Inspector Gadget was trying to get a stuck piece of toast out of his toaster and because he has the world's most inconveniently placed Swiss Knife on his head, he attempted to use this gadget. Because that gadget is made of metal, he of course gets shocked and falls over.

That's when Penny steps up to the camera and tells us to never, ever use anything metal in the toaster. Since then, I have always kept a plastic utensil, a fork, a knife, sitting right next to the toaster. And every time I have to use that plastic utensil to dig out a tilted piece of bread, I hear Penny's voice, congratulating me on doing the right thing. It is so strange, the childhood PSA'S, that stick with us.

It is part of why I like iZombie so much. At the end of each episode, there is usually a fourth-wall-breaking revelation or thought that the character shares directly with the audience. While it'd get annoying for EVERY show to do that, a show with some heart works it very well.

Adventures in Cat Burglars: Or, how I accidentally used a cat to perform a break-in yesterday )

I signed up for some service work with AA. Once a year, we will go to four high schools to talk about alcoholism. While most of the kids will have no experience with alcoholism itself, some of them will be going home to alcoholics. A few more of those kids will have temporary but painful drinking binges.

But a few of them, the smallest percentage of them all, will either already be or will become alcoholics themselves. It's kind of like a pre-emptive 12th step, or at least a chance for education.

It's usually done by old-timers. Real old-timers. Old white guys in their 40's, 50's, or older. And that experience is not at all to be discounted. But I know as a teenager, it's hard as hell to listen to people "that old."

I got sober at 19. I'm thinking this might give the kids a slightly different perspective on the whole deal. Or at least the idea that (1) you don't have to be old to have this problem and (2) you don't have to be old to work on this problem.

I remember how frustrating it was to even convince anyone that I had a problem at that age. I knew it 17, knew it in the back of my head that all alcoholics know the first time we take a drink. But all of the grown ups - my teachers, foster parents, social workers, etc - thought I was just partying it up like a normal kid. Only one of my friends had any experience with alcoholism, a friend's mother, and while a few other classmates tried to reach out, all I could get from other people was "Just don't drink so much. Slow down. Just have a few shots. You're young, you're just rebelling."

It was, like, the LEAST helpful thing I could hear, and for the most part, that's what I heard. If I had heard a speech, a story, a goddamn PSA from someone near my age at that time, it would have saved ME a lot of time from the constant, internally tormented questioning of whether or not they were right.

I knew they weren't right. I knew they were dead wrong. But when the world tells you one thing, and you know another, it's easy enough to go along with the crowd. And the crowd told me I didn't have a problem.

It's funny how that stuck. The whole "you don't really have a problem, so you don't really need the help" thing. Because I was so young, a part of me worried that I was just reaching for attention, and so I drank harder and harder in an attempt to show that something was really off. That didn't get me the help I needed, so aside from the basic biological workings of addiction (that we just keep going and going and going), I fell into other drugs.

Hell, there was a time when, even when I had needles sticking out of my arms, I questioned whether or not I was acting out of sheer drama-making. Like I wasn't "worthy" of help. Like I'd be taking away help from someone who REALLY needed it.

Turns out that help from addiction is not finite resource, nor does one have to hit the bottom of an OD to deserve help. There's a reason why we (at least officially) limit our definition of who belongs in AA as "those who have a desire to stop drinking." Doesn't say anything about what you have to lose to get there.

Not that I desired to quit drinking at 17. I just wanted some confirmation that yes, I had a problem. Some kind of reassurance that I wasn't crazy, that I had some kind of self-awareness worthy of note.

I think everyone needs that last one.
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I will never sleep.

I mean, of course I will. Eventually. The body will drop eventually, like it or not. I took a handful of meds a few hours ago....I have no idea how many, what pills exactly, followed all of the "take this at bedtime" pills, but I took my Seroquel, Lamictal, and I think I accidentally took TWICE the Xanax. That puts me at like 2 mgs? Shouldn't I be out like a light?

But nope. Three hours later, I am shivering my balls off, awake and....well, I'd be unhappier but I really just don't seem to know what else one would be if not...just...fucking awake.

I'm cold. I am so damn cold. I am also....ooozing. The edema is still tremendous, but I was able to mostly move yesterday, and so they let me out. It's not FUN to move, but I can walk, and last night, I noticed that my underwear was a bit....damp. There had been no fun time underwear movers-and-shakers, so when I yanked down the fabric, I saw pustules. The skin finally hit its breaking point and has begin to physically split. For some reason, it'd be less grosser if it just BLED. But it's not BLEEDING. I'm just gooey.

I'm Eeeewy.

Jesse and I got it cleaned up, wrapped up and dry. Will be calling doc about that here in a few hours.

I'm on TWO steriods. That's why I can't sleep. I know that's why I can't sleep. Cannon's office opens in 5 hours. That is 4 hours and 45 minutes away from me getting into the car and driving myself to sit in the lobby.

There's other things.

Cassie's back in my life.

It's my mother whose been reading my Livejournal all these years.

Yesterday marked 18 years to the day I ran away from home for the last time.

How do you begin yourself when you need all of the endings that came before you??? Can you skate by life playing a golden fiddle for an old friend named Faust???

(Yes, I mixed those metaphors. Did it on purpose. COME AT ME BRO.)

I keep crying. I keep feeling elated. I keep rapid cycling. I feel so much like a me that is is nearly terrifying. Normal for sick people, even more normal for sick, crazy people like me. I just have to keep writing. I just have to keep writing. I just have to keep writing.

I am having immense trouble getting up. I never really got the whole "fall risk" thing before. Earlier this evening, my ankle slipped and I went to my knees on the floor. I tried to get up. Y'know, foot under you, propel yourself up, grab the chair for leverage.

Couldn't do it. Felt as if my body weighed an 100 pounds extra. I tried and tried and it did not respond. I had no idea something so simple could wind up flattening an otherwise functional human being.

In total of the edema, it's still there. I went from 140 pounds to OVER 200 pounds in less than a month. It'll ease. I keep telling myself that if I look at it the right way, it's way less scary and more just FASCINATING that the body can do that.

I might be able to sleep soon. Or at least catnap. Finally, finally my vision has devolved into double and triple.

God thank you gys for listening to the ramble. Oh god, thank you an I love you all. Each of you, even the ones who don't comment, I FUCKING LOVE YOU.
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Summer used to be my favorite season. Even in Arizona, where the sun literally liquefied the asphalt on the road, I was madly in love with summer. Moving to the Midwest, where they actually HAVE seasons (other than just "hot" and "holy shit my face is on fire") summer still remained my favorite season. I donned every combination of Daisy Duke shorts and ridiculously tiny tank tops I could find. I loved the oppressive, inescapable press of the heat. I felt the natural, spiraling power of Nature as she raced upwards. If it got really hot for a week or two, well, that was okay, too. It WAS summer, after all.

And then one summer, it got really hot for three weeks. And then the next summer, it got really hot for a whole month. And now there is this summer, which is the hottest summer on record, because EVERY YEAR is now the hottest on record.

Summer is just not fun anymore.

It makes me wonder how on earth I managed to do half the shit I did as a teenager. I walked 10 miles barefoot on the desert highway. Not because I couldn't afford shoes, not because I was fleeing an unsafe situation. I just decided to take a ten mile walk on streets were puddling from asphalt to tar. I think I was trying to prove something. It apparently wasn't all that significant, as I don't remember what I was trying to prove.

I wonder how on earth I managed to dress in black long sleeves for most of my adolescence. And yes, I know the Bedouins wear black as well, but they have flowing black garb, whereas I covered every inch of ripped up lace, leather, and skirt in heavy jewelry.

But then, teenagers are teenagers. When you're aiming for a specific image, practicality goes right out the window. I'm glad to be well past that age. Black lipstick looks ridiculous on anyone over the age of 16 and besides, black clothing collects waaaaay too much cat hair to wear as fashion standard.

On news of the sick and not-dying: I need your guy's help with food. Recipes. I've got me a new renal diet. (AHAHAHA "RENAL" SOUNDS LIKE ANAL AHAHAHA!).

Franklanguage, it occured to me the other day that vegan food is a good place to look for non-dairy, low sodium stuff. What do you do for your diet??

The strangest, most surprising aspect of this is finding out I need emotional support on how to adjust to a new diet.

I swing from elation at being able to try new foods and then crash into outright hostility about being limited. Food is way more emotionally complicated than I'd given it credit for. I was like - "Cut down on salt? Sure! No biggie! Cut down on potassium and phosphate? Well, I guess I don't eat a whole lot of bananas anyways. WAIT A MINUTE I HAVE TO RESTRICT DAIRY AS WELL?! WHAT KIND OF WORLD IS THIS?!"

And then someone reminds me that this is my world and if I don't start treating it with respect, I'm gonna lose it. And by "lose it" I mean die.

So let's not die.

Dead wrong

Aug. 3rd, 2016 10:23 pm
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Time does not heal all wounds. Loss does not diminish with time. The only difference between retching and gagging on trauma and being able to swallow it down is the illusion of immortality. The one that says that someday we'll be able to fix it, that we'll get another chance, that we can make it up later.

This is such a dangerous, dumb idea. A lie. A lie we, as adults, can easily believe in, because all the things of adulthood make the perfect smokescreen. Can't cry, have to go to work. Can't rage, got to call the electric company. Can't collapse, the floor needs vacuumed.

A necessary lie, as we'd all lose our minds otherwise. I know this.

I miss her. This is not new news. What's news is that I just now realized my phone number has changed, so if she's tried to call or text, I would not have known. I spoke to my father briefly. He says she has a job. That's good. I keep asking myself what harm could one phone call do? Just one call, assuming she has a phone, at least.

I lost my first friend to suicide in 2001. We'd met in NA. She was 30 years old and fighting to get her two children back from foster care. I went with her to the counselor's office where she disclosed, for the first time in her life, the abuse her father put her through. It was a thrilling, beautiful, and exhausting time.

She called one night. I was very tired and told her I'd call her back tomorrow. Things and life went as it goes, and I did not return her call. Not the next day, not the next few days, not the next week.

Two weeks after I told her I'd call her, I got a call. Mikki Sagan Ramsdell had overdosed in her kitchen. They put the time of death the day I was supposed to call her back. I didn't call her and she killed herself.

I lost the second friend to suicide in damn near the exact same way, later in 2007. Rebecca Rossiter, who had called me high and insane, said she wanted to talk to me. I was tired. I was sober. I didn't want to handle someone's crazy high ass. I told her I would call. I did not call her back.

A month later, I get a call. She hung herself. Her two kids found her body. I didn't call her and she killed herself.

I know I did not kill these women. I know that whatever they were facing in that moment was far more formidable than I would have been able to stop. It was out of my hands, from the very beginning. I know this.

But I also know the guilt that will stay, hidden inside of me, until the day ***I*** die. I also know that to question this, to wonder if you were what could have saved them, if you were part of the final blow that made them destroy themselves....is normal. Is natural.

Is human. And we - Mikki, Rebecca, and I - were and are so very human.

If I don't call Cassie soon, will she kill herself? Will she be yet another call that I will forever curse not returning? Will that be another secret shame that I will bear? Will I have to make more room in that dark little hole where I keep my terrors and empty reassurances that I did nothing wrong by not calling them back?

We don't live forever. I won't always have a second chance - and even if I do - she might not. I'm busy enough these days to tell myself I will.

But I've thought that before...and I was wrong.
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I wake with a headache. Normal enough, at least for my life. I also wake with the sound of screaming in my head. Some kind of nightmare in which I screamed endlessly. I don't know if I woke up screaming. I'll ask Jesse when he wakes up.

The radio sent me to the wayback machine yesterday, playing Collective Souls's "World I Know." I was 12 when that song came out. I remember watching the video, in which a suicidal man wanders the streets, colored gray from his own despair. I remember weeping as he climbed up onto a building, teetering on the edge, only to stop himself from falling at the last second. The video explodes into color at that moment and he laughs, crying in joy at his renewed sense of hope. I remember also weeping, also laughing, along with him.

I talked to myself, as I do, especially when driving, about the video. And I found myself saying "It's kind of amazing how deeply that video affected me. I, at 12 years old, knew why someone would want to jump......"

Long pause. Loooong pause.

"...off a building."

Another eternally long pause.

I was certainly not suicidal at 12. But I remember understanding, in a flash, watching that video, why someone would be. I understood the base level of grief someone would have to feel about their lives to attempt suicide. At 12. At twelve years old.

I shook my head, astounded at the ways that mental illness shows itself so early. I shook my head, astounded at the ways the abuse had wrapped itself around my head. I shook my head, astounded, so awed at the knowledge that these feelings would jostle themselves to the front of my mind so. damn. early.

Looking back, I believe it was more the beginnings of what would, decades later, be diagnosed as bi-polar. Mood swings and washes of emotion are generally typical in teenagers. I just know mine were MORE moodswingy and MORE overwhelming. We as a collective, though (those around me), wouldn't figure that out for years.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the tobacco shop I buy my cigarettes from, I decided not to turn off the radio. I sat in my car, waiting for the last refrain of that song to wrap itself up. When it did - and when I opened my car door into the cold night - I also understood that for whatever I understood then, I understand far, far better now.

Maybe that's something to grieve. This morning, it feels a sort of permission, a way to give myself a little extra room about the mood swings and seizing up into emotions. I knew enough at 12 to know why someone would want to end it all.

I know enough at 34 to know why someone wouldn't.
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Jessica Jones. Spoilers. Triggers....or madness.

Take your pick. )

It just makes me someone who knows herself.

Cool kids

Nov. 20th, 2015 09:53 am
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Lately, I have one good day on and one bad day off. Sequentially, it seems. The sun coming out would be good. There have been far more cloudy days here than not. I hear you, Simon. It makes it harder. Why do so many mental disorders rely on the rise and fall of the sun? Why does mental illness, across the board and universally, grip us so much harder when the light of day fails?

I imagine the answer is some vitamin goes into hiding. Vitamin D. Vitamin C. Vitaman-My-Brain-Is-Normal. Things that most people have in some sort of excess.

We don't have that. This morning, as it is cold outside, as the sky just gets grayer and grayer with every hour, I am wildly envious of them.

I listen to Echosmith's "Cool Kids." I remember wanting to be one of the cool kids. Still do, sometimes. As my high school expulsions shunted me to smaller and smaller schools, I did eventually wind up being one of the cool kids. At least one of the cool-rebellious kids.

A few years after school, I'd run into people who marveled at how I just didn't care what others thought of me. Of how I just did what I wanted, opinions of others be damned.

And I think "Are you kidding? Do you not see that everything I did - EVERYTHING - was a bid for attention? Everything I did, every damn thing I did to earn me a detention, a talking-to, an expulsion, a counselor visit, was to make people think I was wild?"

I was wild. I was also desperate for high school celebrity status. I would never be one of the popular ones. I knew that. But I knew I could be the most famous odd man out on campus and thus I strived to achieve that - every day, every damn day that I attended school.

It may have been a case of "Teressa was going to be a fuckup no matter what, so I may as well make it work for me." I'm convinced that had I not been shot to some sort of high school rebellion, I would have still found myself constantly in trouble.

But I cared. I definitely cared about my image. I would never be one of the popular kids.

But one of the cool kids? One of the cool kids who DON'T fit in? I could be that. Turn it all into a loud drama, make sure they don't forget me, make sure I don't fade into some kind of peer-obscurity.

This is normal in teenagers.

I just don't get how the other teenagers around me didn't see it.
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I wish Cassie was safe to call about these things.

In 1995, my stepbrother lost his mother, his best friend, and his pregnant girlfriend inside three consecutive months. It changed him forever. It also changed us as a family forever, as he was living at home and we were close to all three of these people.

I was 13, Cassie only 11. Shell-shocked as we all were, my mother and stepfather just....stopped. They holed up in their room, emptying entire bottles of Percocet down their throats. This is when the worst of the neglect and then further active abuse began.

This is when I began to spiral. This is when Cassie stepped up to them and began to hold them together.

I was 33 years old before I knew that my stepfather sexually abused her. He'd gotten to her at 9 years old - years before his hand had reached me. Years before I had any clue that his hand even could reach her. I could not comprehend why she, at 11, would cook for them, would encourage them to bathe, would feed and change their newborn son. It continued for years.

It still continues, though conflicted as she is about it these days. The 32 year old woman she is now still tries to hold them together. I did not understand. I STILL do not understand.

But I do know why. I may not understand, but I do know. She didn't know any other way. They had made sure of that.

Without the journals from those years, my memories rely on on stilted moments, moments of visual clarity. There are so few - far fewer than I would like. The seeping line of red that welled out of the first cut I ever made on my skin. Twisting and turning uncomfortably in the bathtub. The showerhead had broken. Taking a bath meant spending more time naked in the house than I felt safe with. I nearly stopping bathing entirely.

Moments few, feelings overwhelming. I want to remember more. I have to remember more.

This is where I need Cassie. This is where the empty spaces would fill in. As young as she was, surely she would still remember other moments from that time. Arguments, dinners, family outings, SOMETHING. Something other than blood and fear.

....except I'm certain that that is what she remembers, too. She was younger than I and definably more abused by then - her memories are bound to be even more wavering and uncertain than mine. But I want the chance to find out.

God, I want that chance so badly. I. Cannot. Have. It. Not so long as she is insistent on killing herself in degrees and leaps. Not so long as her madness continues to inflict pain on her own children, both now the age when their grandparents began the worst of abuse on their mother.

I need these memories corroborated. I need someone to fill in the gaps. I don't think I'll ever get that. And maybe that's a good thing. Maybe that's a blessing. Maybe the heartbreak of remembering the suffering in full would crush me.

I do not think it would. But I'd like the chance to find out.

I wish Cassie were safe to call about these things. I really, really, wish she was.
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The stays in the psychiatric wards weren't really all that bad. It wasn't home. I was two hours away from my parents. I felt safe there. I didn't fit in with most the other kids there, who were streetwise. (I was not. Still am not.) But I did manage to make a few friends on my ward. One girl who would even sing me back to sleep if I woke up from a nightmare. There were good kids there on the ward.

A few of the staff members were unmitigated assholes, like the one dude who refused to let me go get a pad when I'd started my period at breakfast. I asked if I was supposed to bleed on the chair. He had me sit on the "time out" table for talking back. There was another staff member who straight up stepped on my sprained ankle, on purpose, and told me to hurry up walking back from gym. That was the same staff member who wound up killing a young girl through improper restraint methods, closing the entire institution down forever.

But overall, the staff members were nice. They wanted to help. They tried to make the hospital environment feel something like a home. Most of the staff members listened when we came to them about a problem. I doubt most of them were professionally trained or had degrees (shockingly enough, you don't have to have EITHER to work in psych wards), but they were able to recognize and sympathize with our troubles and traumas that brought us to the ward.

Most of the staff were also okay with me self-requesting "one-on-one". One-on-one was the term for requiring a patient to be within arm's reach of a staff member at all times. This was usually something the staff or doctors issued edicts for. Patients could, however, put themselves on one-on-one, if they felt they were in danger of hurting themselves or others. There were several times I put myself on one-on-one, not trusting myself to not sneak into some corner of the room to hurt myself. I always sort of expected to be told "Grow up, I'm not your Mommy, go away."

They never said that. They never even implied it. Good people, most of the staff. Very good people.

It was also in that psych ward stay that I began learning concrete therapy techniques, such as CBT. I did shittons of CBT work in Desert Hills (the second psych ward). Working with staff, getting their daily feedback - and sometimes hourly feedback - allowed me to start identifying triggers that sent me into panic-and-self-harm mode. It was there I was able to be free in talking about the abuse. The hospital even made recommendations that my mother and stepfather NOT be allowed to visit with any sort of regularity - a recommendation that the state took seriously. Thank god.

Obviously, it was not an all-roses experiences. Thanks to my newly acquired habit of throwing everything in reach anytime my mood spiked (and thanks to medicine being dumb, it happened a lot), I spent a lot of time on "lockdown." Five minute showers, fifteen minutes to eat your meals (and eating them on the 'time out' table away from the other girls.) One phone call a week. Sitting on the floor. (Sitting on furniture was a privilege that could be taken away. This is why for years after I haaated sitting on the floor for any reason.) Staff would be posted outside the bathroom door, which you could not close.

Your day consisted of sitting outside of the staff's office, on the floor, and you could not talk to any of the other girls. If you were lucky, they'd let you read a book or write in your journal. Your gym time was spent pulling weeds. They moved your bed to the room immediately follow the staff's office, or if they felt you needed closer watch, they'd have you sleep on the office floor itself.

I spent a lot of time on lockdown. Months. And yet, because it wasn't home, it was better. Safer. Even I knew that, as furious and hysterical about the forced confinement I was. Even as I hated and occasionally feared a few of the staff members, I knew I was still safer than being at home.

When it was time to be released, the hospital recommended that I was placed into what was called a "therapeutic care" foster home. Basically a regular foster home but with people who had official training for kids displaying disturbed behaviors. Again, thankfully, the state took that one seriously, and I found myself interviewing a woman named Linda.

She was to be my first foster mother. I was extremely excited at the idea of being able to "interview" her. It made me feel like I had some control over my fate, and after years of abuse and months of not being able to sit on chairs, I really, really wanted to feel like I was controlling something.

I asked her all kinds of questions, such as what would she do if I came to her with cuts on my arms, or how she handles it when her kids have nightmares. Her answers were healthy, insightful, and honest. When I cut myself, when I had nightmares, when we encountered anything that we'd talked about in that interview, she did exactly what she said she would do.

Consistency - turns out that's important when it comes to raising kids, even if they're not your own.

So yeah, my psych ward stay wasn't a bad experience. Overall, it was a good one. It kickstarted my habit of seeking therapy, of seeking help, of being willing to be open to trying what the shrinks say. I do wish that we'd known better about medications, though. Like you said, Dani, Zoloft is no longer something we give 15 year olds, like they gave it to me at 15.

God I wish we'd known better.
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Psychiatry was dumb in the mid 90's.

When I was 15 and in my first psych ward, I was given some orange colored pills at breakfast. I refused to take them, since they wouldn't even tell me the name of the medication they were shoving at my face. A few hours after I'd eaten my meal of institutionally rubbery and bland pancakes, I saw the doctor. He told me the name of the proffered orange little pills was Paxil and he told me it would help. Help what? I said. Your depression, he said.

I'd heard the word depression before. Even had a little bit of actual knowledge about the subject. (This was before easy access to the internet. I'd gone to my school's library and read encyclopedias and medical journals on depression.) I told him I didn't feel depressed, didn't feel mired in lethargy or sadness or blankness. He was the doctor, though, and I was in his hospital, so when he insisted that I was depressed, I nodded. I said I would take the orange little pills called Paxil for this thing I had called "depression."

I began winding up. And up. And up and up and up. I started talking. A LOT. I spent more time pacing my room at night than sleeping. I started snapping at the other kids on the ward. I stopped eating. I didn't understand what was going on and neither did the doctor. It was assumed I was just feeling safe from the abuse at home and thus my negative emotions were finally surfacing.

I was in there for 10 days. I don't think I was released with a prescription, or if I was, my parents never filled it and I never stayed on them. It didn't matter much, as a week later, I was put into another psych ward by the state. I would be there for six months.

They discarded the Paxil prescription altogether. The morning of my first day at this ward, the nurse gave me another set of pills, this time blue little tablets called Zoloft. I didn't argue. I wanted to feel better. Doctors know what pills to give you to make you feel better. And so if the doctor gave me Zoloft, then I knew I'd feel better.

It didn't take but a few days before I went off the deep end entirely - and stayed there for most of my six month stay.Everyone knows a little more these days )
quirkytizzy: (Default)

"38 days clean. Uncharted territory. Baby, take it easy. My veins ache only sometimes now. My arm doesn't hurt at all. It's not torn enough to.

Sometimes I think I shouldn't think like that. Sometimes I end up thinking I'm not torn enuf to hurt.

And I really, am.

Now )
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Last night I briefly shared about my last summer I spent in Arizona back in 2003. The summer right before I moved to Kansas City. It was a rough one. I'd just gotten back from my two year stint in Oregon and was having trouble adjusting to being a live-in girlfriend again. (With Pat, who had waited and welcomed me back, even years later.) It was also the one summer Pat fucked around with responsibility, quitting his job, not getting a new one, and borrowing thousands of dollars from his parents.

The only reason the bills got paid was because of one of our roommates, who dealt weed on the side of his crappy part time job. I also had a crappy part time job that I walked to, five days a week, in the blinding, 110 degree Arizona afternoon sun. I don't hold any grudges towards Pat for that summer - I kinda feel everyone gets a period in their lives when they act like petulant children. (But just ONE and it has to be out of the way EARLY, unlike Mr. David, who had years worth of it in his 30's.)

Patrick got over it very quickly, inside three months, once we finally got out of the hellhole that is Sierra Vista and into Kansas City. And besides, it was, like, twelve or thirteen years ago. A near lifetime, really. Both Pat and I were young, still Figuring It Out, and total newbs at Supporting Ourselves. That is fine enough.

Jesse noted that I don't talk about my life in Arizona that much. That surprised me, as life in Arizona makes up almost 14 years of my past. Childhood, adolescence, and then a couple of years into my 20's. But I realized he's right. I don't share much of anything about my time then and there.

I have no idea why. It's not as if that time of my life is horribly traumatic. Well, I mean, it IS, because that's when the worst abuse (both from others and myself) was inflicted onto me. But it's not as if that trauma is anything I hide or am ashamed about.

I'll just chalk it up to the idea that talking about my childhood, or the specifics of my life then, are pretty boring. Okay, not boring, because again, Abuse Central, but rather that it's just not that exciting for me to TALK about.

I figure that someday I'll have to go back to that town. A funeral, most likely.Home is not where the heart is. Thanks, Mom. )

I wouldn't have all that if I'd stayed in Sierra Vista. Hell, I might not have any of that.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
Jesse is watching Angel. I dreamed that I was working with Justine and Holtz, the creeping feeling that Holtz was not what he said he was, the fear in confronting Justine about it. Makes sense, given the show's plot and the mirroring thoughts about my years past with family.

There's a line in the song "Wrecking Ball" that caught my attention yesterday. (You! Yes, you in the back! Shut up! I LIKE Miley Cyrus!) It goes "I never meant to start a war." That is how I felt. How I still feel. I did not mean to be the domino that started the knocking down of everything in the family. I did not mean to be the one who sounded the trumpets, who forced everyone into gathering swords and choosing sides.

I just wanted to get away. I had even begged my mother that summer, begged to her to please just let me go live with a friend, anyone, anyone but here. As abusers do, it just made her hold on harder, cut deeper. They - my mother, stepfather, Cassie - all thought I did it to punish them. To start a fight. To start a war.

I just wanted to get away. Years later, when the anger came, I DID want to punish them. The anger remains, but the fire for revenge has now burned out. Back full circle, I just want to stay away. Thankfully, as an adult, it is easy enough to do.

I had a thought concerning the war bit yesterday. I am free of them, but the war was not won. It is still being fought, now in the hearts and memories of Cassie's children - and in some ways, still in Cassie's heart herself.

I did not defeat my mother and stepfather. I just chased them into hiding, where all they had to do was wait for the next set of children to come wandering in their den.

You can push evil into the shadows. Away from you, you can live your life in the sun, but there in the dark, it gathers strength. You can pull evil into the light. But it will always run, shrieking, in flames, back to the darkness, where it will lick its wounds and wait.

Yeah, I've been watching a lot of Angel. Vampire themes abound.

We are in Season 4, in which Conner is present. It hits Jesse hard, who is estranged from his daughter and his eldest son. His eldest is 21, from a long ago marriage that dissolved inside a year, and he just recently reconnected with that son. There is wonder in that. His daughter, 19, is still wounded from the end of her mother and father's relationship. I tell him he has to wait for her. Don't push, I tell him. She will come to you when she is ready.

Having been a confused 19 year old with Daddy issues, I'm pretty familiar with this. Had my father pushed at that time, it would have taken years longer for me to approach him. Jesse's sent out several messages over the last year, all mostly ignored. Give her time, I counsel. It frustrates and grieves him to have to wait - but it is what needs to be done.

His youngest son, 12, is a joy to have around. I adore that kid. He will visit every few months for the weekend. The kid's a total nerd, very polite, and absolutely hilarious.

Jesse was a stay at home father with all three of his children, and with his ex-wife's son as well. I have no doubt that this makes up a great deal of his wonderful husbandry.

Still, the separation from his children hits him hard. Since the divorce from his previous wife (who also had a son), he finds himself living without children for the first time in nearly 20 years. The quiet is appreciated, he says, but it leaves him adrift. I do not have children, but I can still sympathize. I know when Audrey and Julien leave, when I take them back home to their foster parents, there is relief, but there is also sorrow. Every time, no matter how at wits end I may be (caring for children does not come naturally to me), there is still a huge part of me that wants to keep them forever.

When Jesse's youngest leaves, he always needs a few moments to cry. I hold Jesse and tell him that his son loves him no matter what. I don't know if it helps. Missing your child must be such a tremendous, private grief. But it is still something that makes me ache for Jesse, especially as I now have something similar to relate to with Cassie's children.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
I want to apologize for writing such long posts lately, guys. This weekend with the kids, though...it jogged loose some heavy damn things. Just...thank you guys for putting up with this. And as always, I am receiving comments. I'm putting a date down for getting net back in this place. At least, I have to get it this month. I can't keep writing without commenting and god knows, I am starting to go stir crazy without being able to read YOUR journals.

Anyways, cut tags, word pad, on and on and on.

It's maddening to heat up some cheesy, deliciously subtly spiced, melty mashed potatoes, settle on the couch to eat it, and then realize if it touches your lips you will melt your lips off. Science and heat conduction, stop being such a bitch! (And yes, mashed potatoes for breakfast? YES, MASHED POTATOES FOR BREAKFAST!)

Audrey made it. She's a goddamn wizard in the kitchen. Takes after her mom in that sense, who is also an amazing cook. Audrey loves to cook, loves to mess around with tossing in random spices and ingredients. I've never, not even ONCE, been disappointed with her culinary creations. So when she gets the urge to go into my kitchen and start throwing things in a pot, I let her. It always turns out delicious.

I had what felt like a very, very important discussion with Julien yesterday, even though it was very, very brief.

Julien doesn't talk about himself. He almost never talks about his life, his thoughts, what he's doing for school, etc etc. Julien talks about his toys. This is normal in children. What is not normal is that toys is ALL he will talk about. Getting him to share anything about himself and his life is like pulling teeth. It can get outright frustrating, the way he relates only to his toys.

Part of this is that as he gets older (10 this year), it's becoming obvious he's special needs. Like, brain-wise. His mannerisms and approaches to the world are that of a 6 year old's. His ability to read, to do arithmetic, is also on the slow-developed side. Another price Julien has paid for his mother's abuse - she used meth with him almost up until the day she gave birth.

But part of this is also that Julien does not trust people. He trusts toys. Toys won't leave you. Toys won't beat your mom up. Toys won't make you cry. Toys are always there. You can always have friends as long as you toys to make up stories about. Toys are safe.

People are not.

So last night, while at the mall, I took his hand, looked at him, and said Safety and September )She has to know that. And September apparently brings home all of the not-going-home, as not only is that the month I and Cassie left home, that is the month that Audrey and Julien were removed from Cassie's care. BOTH TIMES. In September.

You know that Greenday song? Wake me up when September ends? Yeah.

quirkytizzy: (Default)
I did not have nightmares. I thought I might, after talking about Jerry. They weren't bad dreams, either. Just...serious. I, of course, can't remember at all what they were about - just the lingering feeling of somber words, somber deeds. But still, no waking up screaming. Small favors of the universe.

It was Pat who put to words why my experience with Jerry is more embarrassing today than traumatic. I was a mess at 19. I was at the end of my rope with my addiction, cutting almost everyday. I was sleeping with anyone and everyone that I crossed paths with. It wouldn't occur to me until years later that I was finding ways to hurt myself, just to have something familiar. Something like the abuse at home.

I had signaled for help at 15. I had taken immense steps towards health, faith, and recovery as a teenager. But as teenagers are wont to do, I got it all mixed up and at about the age of 18, hit the ground running in a desperate attempt to annihilate myself.

After having worked SO HARD at being a champion of getting out of abuse, that turn-around mortifies me. It makes me feel a bit of a liar or weak or otherwise that I did not do the work I said I did.

It's not fair of me to judge these things in hindsight. I was doing the best I could at 19 with the resources I had. I had managed to get away from the abuse. I did not yet know that there would be "getting away" that would need to be done inside, as well.

Pat also once remarked that this is something that must be difficult for me concerning David, too. THAT is on target. I was 27 when I met David. I knew better. So having found myself enmired in a web of lies and excuses, for years on end..it becomes a very real source of shame sometimes.

No one around me judges me for that. No one around me judges me for any of the abuse that I stuck through with. But sometimes, just sometimes, **I** judge me. This is normal in these situations. It does not always make it easier to wade through.

The positive news with all this is that I've learned from it. I've taken the bad parts of these relationships and have moved them on up in the world. The bad parts of my relationships NOW are not the same horror show they were then. I know what to look for now.

It really is better late than never.

For the random, I finally broke down and bought some sole-inserts for my work shoes. It was a little overwhelming, actually.Feet, Boobs, Poverty and Part Time Work )
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Jesse came to a realization today that shocked me. It shocked me not only because it came from him, but because it came from a man. Until today, Jesse did not understand why I am so hesitant about walking around outside after dark by myself, or why being catcalled makes me frightened instead of angry, or why I have a momentary but very strong quail-in-the-face-of-danger reaction when alone with a strange man. He did not understand why I have often said that I might NOT fight back during a rape attempt.

He said I was living in fear. He said I was such a firecracker, I could take on anyone I wanted. I told him I was living by experience, not fear. And I told him that it's easy for a 200 pound, 6 foot man to say their 5 foot, 150 pound girlfriend could take on a grown man. It's NOT so easy for that 5 foot girl, however, when she can't even arm wrestle a dude and win.

It's an entirely different world, I would tell him, when 50% of the population can literally, physically FORCE you into doing whatever they wanted. It's an entirely different world, I would tell him, when you live as a creature that is not only seen as lesser, but assumed AS lesser by sheer accident of birth.

This is an extremely common argument between feminists and the men we love. Even the most enlightened of men often have a hard time understanding this difference in how the other half lives, and WHY we live this way. For me, the most enraging part of this struggle is that despite living as women for our entire lives, feeling and experiencing as we do, it's rarely to be taken seriously. Surely, it's not all THAT bad. Those men who do eventually get it usually come to it from witnessing some kind of brutality, either to themselves or to a loved one.

In Jesse's case, it was watching the one episode of Angel that I can't watch.

"Billy" is an episode about a man, dark with evil energy, who can draw out and inspire abuse in men towards women. The show gets violent and the show gets graphic. It'd be one thing if Billy made men only hit the women in the show. But Billy can do so much more...in the men he is near, he makes them demean women. He makes them verbally abuse them. He makes other men dehumanize women.

The subject matter is disturbing for even the most healthy of individuals. For someone like me, who spent a year with a man who must have trained under Billy directly....it's why I can't watch it again. It's beyond triggering.

Jerry was my Billy. TW: Domestic Violence )
quirkytizzy: (Default)
One truly aggravating thing about this job: The tiny but multiple lacerations I seem to get everyday - usually on my hands and fingers. I never slip with the boxknife, but I'll get cardboard paper cuts, or I'll accidently pick up a set of lawnmower blades the wrong way, or I'll accidentally swipe my stapler over the tips of my fingers while I'm putting two products together. I'm clumsy as shit.

I once fractured my elbow as a teenager, being a dumbass and deciding to break into an abandoned, 2 story building through the skylight. While on lunch break in high school. While drunk.

Teenage intellect in all it's glory.The grownups were smart )

I don't think I ever thanked those teachers for what they did for me. Teenagers are dicks like that. I don't think they would hold a grudge about that. But I'm not a teenager anymore.

I'm not a teenager anymore and I'd like to thank them.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
Frank, holy shit was that really the guy's name? That invented the Pap smear? That is a NAME! If I were him, I'd shorten that to "Pap", too!

My name is unusual enough that people have come up with nicknames. It's Teressa, but pronounced like Clarissa. Like "Ter-AH-sa". I've been named Tressa, Tress, T, Tess, and Ann (my middle name.) As a child, mispronunciations of my name drove me bonkers. Not so much these days. I joke and tell people "I'll respond to anything but cursewords, and even then that depends on how close we are."

It's something I discussed with Rayhawk and Sistersolace, actually. Names, especially online names, and how they often eclipse our actual names. It makes sense - if you've been calling someone one thing for years, (say by LJ moniker) - it's going to feel a little unnatural to call them by their real name. So in meeting these people who are terrifically close to me, it's funny to note that using real names, personal names, is tricky. I mean, you'd think someone so close could easily be called by their first name. Not so in the world of online relationships.

Although it turned out Rayhawk IS Rayhawk's actual name. I remember being incredulous when I found that out. It's such a cool name that I was like "Really? How is that possible? NEAT!"

I don't clearly remember how "Quirkytizzy" came about. Maybe from an old friend who said something along the lines of "you're quirky and you're always in a tizzy." A fair and accurate statement. And as Rayhawk said, "You're always going to be Tizzy to me." Given the amount of material, work, and intimacy I've shared in this journal, under the name Quirkytizzy, I find it a term of honor and endearment.

Recently Pat joked about LJ being full of angsty 14 year olds. I corrected him, saying that if they are still on LJ today, those 14 year olds are now in their late 20's and generally less angsty. I don't think there are ANY 14 year olds on here today. Livejournal hasn't been relevant in a long time.

But I find that okay, as it means those of us who ARE still here, who DID stick around, are in a very tight-knit community. Even outside of our Flist, the site itself is small and we circle each other. The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon abounds on LJ. And the nice thing is that no matter who I've talked to, if I disagree with that person's content or not, everyone seems to recognize that about LJ. We've drawn in on ourselves and as a result, the threads that connect us are strong.

Plus, the current managers of LJ are finally doin' it right. That's a relief.

And yeah, Cm, I am pretty much a crazy cat lady. My happy place is four cats. It would probably be five or six or ten, but space is an issue. I find cats to be regal. I know one of the draws of dogs is that they can be very human and connect on a very emotive, human level. I find the general alien-ness of cats comforting. And I like how independent they are. I generally have no need to entertain my cats (save for kittens, but kittens need the extra interaction), as cats entertain themselves. They are not needy. They also don't bark, which I appreciate. Loud and sudden noises upset me.

It's not that I dislike dogs. Dogs can't help but be needy and loud, that's just what they do. Can't blame them for it. It's just that they have characteristics that I'm not a fan of. Besides, apartment living is hell on dogs - even the little ones. There are scores of people in my building who have dogs. Big dogs. Even if you are walking them twice a day, it's not fair to confine a dog like that.

Cats have been, in more desperate years, my sole connection to this planet. Who would take care of them if I were to simply sign off one day? I have a responsibility, an obligation, to stay and be alive, be healthy, if nothing else to care for these animals I've taken under my care.

I do not want to be a mother to human children. That level of sacrifice in caring for something is far beyond my wish to do so. But I do like caring for living things, especially living furry things you can cuddle. Seeing as I don't want a dog and I have a black thumb when it comes to plants, cats are it.

I would have rodents (I looove mice and rats!) but there's no way to have rodents AND cats in a small apartment without stressing out the poor rodents. Not only would the cats be constantly staring at their cage, wondering why I've put their meal in such a complicated lunchbox, rodents need to be handled by their owners. They need interaction, too. Couldn't do that without risking the cats jumping in and biting off their little heads.

And a decapitated pet is just not something I think I could handle. Couldn't blame the cats for it if that happened, either - that's just what cats do. Best to just avoid the whole situation altogether.

God, I ramble about the most pointless things. It's part of the morning process, though, writing. Even if it is inane, banal, babble-y, it's still necessary to do so. This is the one part of "practice" that occasionally makes me laugh. I hold so dearly to the concept of practice, but in reality, my "practice" is and has been just decades of rambling. Writing down every passing thought in that self-obsessed way that journaling requires.

It doesn't always sound special. And while yes, it's work in that I occasionally have to force myself to write, it also feels like the most natural and welcome form of discipline in the world. Like, from the first journal entry I wrote in my first journal at 12 years old, it felt like I was coming home. I was excited to write every day - and did so, religiously. And I have continued to do so, religiously.

Is that practice or is that just finding the right thing? I guess it could be both. I consider myself exceedingly lucky that I found the "right thing" so young.

In a moment of infuriating irony, my stepfather once told me that God told him to get me that first journal at the age of 12. In my head, I went "Did God tell you to burn all of my journals when I was 17, too?" Yeah. I'll always carry a grudge about that. Wouldn't have been so bad but for the fact that they knew, they knew that those journals were the most treasured of all my things.

I have no doubt had I held something above those journals, that's what they would have burned. My books, my clothes, were returned to me in shreds. But the absolutely violent act of fire? Of burning something? It was the years of the loudest abuse that they reduced to ashes. The effigy of me, of what I lived through, of what they put me through. A shame it doesn't ACTUALLY erase those years. Then they would have been doing me a favor.

Oh well. In a most delicious irony, it was their burning of my words that made me hold fast to all the future words I would pen. They did tell me that they burned my journals - told me only a year or two afterwards, no less. My mother's voice held with it a sense of glee, of waiting for validation that their act of destruction had in some way destroyed ME.

But it was I who was gleeful in telling her that what they did only made me write more, only made me more willing to share what I wrote, made me all the more verbose. She actually sputtered. I mean, honest-to-God sputtered. It was glorious.

There but for the grace of God and abusive parents go I. Or at least, I and my continued need to write. I know enough to know that I would never have wandered away from words completely. But in their desperate attempt to make the words go away, it made the words all the more important to reach for.

Never let it be said that all things done out of spite are bad. What they did jolted the enjoyment of writing into a need to write. Out of spite, out of rebellion, out of a dawning understanding that words have POWER - power so strong as to make others respond to it with fire.

In my case, literal fire. They may have burned those journals. They may have destroyed my words into complete oblivion. What they did not destroy was the healing power of words. What they did not destroy was me.


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