Parents. They gave me life, shelter, food, and a little guidance in preparation for adulthood. Now they’re both old, so I kind of owe them, right? What’s a little incest, black-eyes, bruises and hurtful words among family? Those rough days are over and I should never speak of them again. Right? I shouldn’t be a downer or a whiner, people HATE that kind of artistry. I should be buoyant and light in everything I write, yes?
Nah! Collective society has been wrong at so many turns, their credibility is shot as far as I’m concerned.
Right now, while we all sit comfortably tapping on keyboards or perusing the internet, a child on this planet is being raped or starved or punched by an adult. As we blithely go about our days shopping for milk, eggs and bread, or making an appointment for the next oil change on our car, some man or woman is suffering under the unyielding weight of their depression. As we channel surf the television, some teenager is contemplating suicide.
I am absolutely certain that all my suffering as a child is meant to do some good in this world, is meant to offer a pinch of hope to someone out there who might be feeling hopeless; or someone else pretending for the world that everything is just “fine.” So I’m here, doing what I do best.
Hold on! Life can be DELICIOUS. Don’t even THINK about giving up.
I am shocked to see the person I am today compared to the person I was twenty-four months ago. Shocked.
The two me’s are like night and day.
June 2015 Me— Self-deprecating, friendship groveling, self-loathing, shame-consumed, contortionist. Contortionist? Yes, I would bend into any shape to make you feel comfortable in my presence. I would plug your nose (if you let me) to prevent you inhaling my shameful stink. I didn’t want to get my rape fumes on you or drop any of my abused and neglected child crumbs on your clothing. I overcompensated with friendliness, generosity and kindness to make up for being so unloveable, my own parents ignored every emotional need I ever had. Contortionist.
June 2017 Me— I am worthy. I am worthy of a blog with my name on it. I am worthy of a blog that’s all about ME. I am worthy of a blog replete with selfies. Everything I write, I write from my heart and primarily for myself. I care way less what anyone thinks about how I look, what I do and what I say. I say fuck if I want to. Not eff, not f-bomb, not frig or freak— fuck. I am unashamed of the dark side of my personality. I feel joy exponentially on frequent days. I still have fear, but it doesn’t consume me. I still have shame, but she no longer reigns over me. Demons, which I bribed long ago to be quiet and hide, no longer terrorize me in sleep and awake states. Oh yes, sure, occasional bad dreams come, but they are rare and afterwards, I don’t wake up panicked, ashamed and sweaty. I have peace.
In May 2015 my mother chose our daughter’s graduation day to throw a spurned woman’s tantrum in lieu of celebrating with the family. By spurned woman standards, her ex-husband (my father) had the gall to bring the new wife. Before that day I had no idea that I was living a stranger’s life. I was so busy pretending to be everything everyone else needed me to be, I had lost track of who I really was. (Hubby, thanks for waiting for me to wake up. Daughters, once again, I am so sorry. Teenage years are hard enough without having to deal with a crazy mother. Thanks to you all for your patience).
I saw this woman. She was an incredible fake. She was terribly sad behind all her smiles. She was full of rage. Holy shit! She was me.
The ride of my life presented itself, so I hopped on. I was terrified and excited all at once: I knew my life was about to change forever. I hung onto the rails, white-knuckling, heart thumping, full of hope and excitement. That fuckin ride slammed my body into rumbles and rattles of trembling bones and chattering teeth. Wait! Wait wait wait, hold on— but it was too late. There was no turning back, forward motion only. When a thirty-plus year old mask gets ripped from the front of your heard, the place where there’s a hole to speak and eat, nose holes for breathing, holes for eyeballs— it hurts like a motherfucker! My heart— oh shit! — my heart was in a vice, something was squeezing so hard. What was happening?
Well let’s see: you made a deal with the devil, Maria. No, I didn’t. Oh yes, yes you did. You sold your little girl-self out, no different than hocking a wedding ring to buy a bottle of vodka. I had no idea. I thought— You thought what? You thought there would be time? You thought the devil, your parents and you would eventually return to the table and renegotiate a better deal? Naive. And what, in the meantime? Drink yourself into an early grave?
But it wasn’t just me. Uh huh, what? You thought, because they were older, you would just keep following their lead until what, one of you died? Rape, incest, beatings, verbal abuse, cunning manipulation— yes, you made them stop on several fronts. But sweeping all of it under the rug as if none of it ever happened, and then pretending to be a loving, functional family. Oh honey, you may have well have guzzled gasoline and lit a match, you were dying inside for thirty years.
Ugh! The agony of letting that sink in. It was wrenching! When I could see my life for what it had become— Where was everybody? I wanted to scream. I wanted to holler. Look here, where are my people? Can any of you see me? Can anybody HELP me? Am I the only one who felt the earth trembling? Pain pain pain!
Nope. It was just me. I woke up to an entirely new world and quickly realized I had to keep moving, keep waking up and going to work, keep cooking and washing dishes, keep bathing and brushing my teeth, keep being mommy to daughters, and wife to husband, friend to friends. While I kept acting as if, as if I was alright, I had to keep moving and holding myself together.
I didn’t know that ride of my life, the one which filled me with terror and excitement all at once, I didn’t know how bad it would make me hurt. I didn’t know I could howl through crying. Howl?! Listen, bawling has got nothing on howling. When you howl you are like a wounded animal. It’s a terrible sound: high-pitched wailing and moaning, your stomach clenches, your head throbs. You hiccup and you shudder with shame. What is the matter with meee? Why do I reek? Why am I so abnormal? Some of you know what I’m saying here. And you want to murder all the seemingly functional and law-abiding citizens of the world. All those seemingly lucky suckers whose grass looks a whole lot greener than the one you’re standing on.
The first twelve months were the hardest, but the days got easier.
I never imagined I would live a life devoid of parental relations, even while the parents were still alive. Never thought that would happen unless I was damaged by some kind of irrational rage. But no, it’s nothing like that. I love my parents. They are simply too toxic to be in my life. I’ve discovered how to love myself more than I love my parents (for my sanity, for my physical health), not just them, but the idea of them, the fantasy of having them around me as caring and nurturing people. Not everyone who is a parent possesses the ability to love children beyond themselves. It takes practice.
Today I am better. I am SO much better than I was. I hope someone reading this will be inspired to do something scary and new to take their lives to a whole other level, a level they know nothing about yet. Because that’s the secret: you have to be willing to let go of everything you thought you knew, every familiar thing in your world, in order to have extraordinary dreams befall you. The ride will get raucous, bumpy and scary, but it will be totally worth it.
I’m still on it. Not white-knuckling anymore, mostly cruising, enjoying a few dips and also enjoying the calm.
Picture: My 2015 journal