I’m a lucky Na Na…
I’m a lucky Na Na…
Do what you love. In-between the pain and hardship, there is joy. Even during the years where my family of origin limped along trying to be a family, or I tried but felt alone anyway, there were moments of pure joy. Sitting on the edge of a pool with my leg in the water, the crisp sparkling water making rainbow bubbles as I splashed my foot up and down. I never forgot that moment.
I love the water. I always have. And as much as I have grievances against my mother, she did some things right. OK, many things. One was insuring I learned how to swim. I love water, the deeper the better. She grew up by a lake and thought nothing of swimming across it. I haven’t done that, but thanks to her, I do love the water.
I won’t travel to St. Croix in February for a month to escape harsh NE American winters. I could battle the challenges of PTS, and my fear of small places. I could battle it and win. But I am tired of battles and won’t put myself through it. Somehow, Samuel and I will have to contend with winters where we spend too much time inside with each other and hopefully not do each off.
Instead we bring the Florida room to us. Or I do. I bought a pool! Above ground. At first an in-ground seemed so luxurious but the cost is prohibitive, so I happily settled on its alternative. After checking out one place, dusty and old, as scattered and pre-occupied as the salesman, I went to another close-by where the salesman looked me right in the eye and never wavered. There is something so special and rare about a person who does that. Someone who doesn’t try to escape my glare, my search for realness and truth.
We went back yesterday and paid our down-payment. I’m so excited with something to look forward to until the grass greens. We had one all through the kids growing up years. A used one that dear Samuel and friends actually went and took down from another home. They somehow re-erected the rusty braces and voila! A summer resort. Oddly, once the kids grew out of it, so did I and there it sat after they left home. I don’t think I allowed for play time anymore as I grieved their leaving.
But now, to soothe that restless feeling of loss… the ‘if only’ I didn’t develop phobias due to the early years of my life and what my brother took,’ I replace the coast of Florida or St. Croix with a pool right out the back door of the screen porch. My own Florida room. My own piece of joy.
What is your joy? What are more of mine?
They don’t have to be as complicated as a pool. Simple joys are some of the best. The sun on my body as I work at the sink. Breath. Even in in the safety of my own home, my body tends to tighten. I live past the moment, either in the past or the future. It is true that the past is over and the future hasn’t happened yet. Thinking about it, as if I could control either, is not possible, and only makes me lose the moments of now. Being in the moment takes effort but is worth it.
The sun on my body, the muscles relax…the breath.
I had a very hard time putting what I wanted into words yesterday. I am not a murderess, nor will I be, and never was one. Though cherished parts of me were murdered, trust, innocence and safety for starters. I’ll never get those parts back.
I am speaking of the right to say whatever a girl of eight might say, and maybe I would have said I wish my brothers were dead. Maybe I would only have said if asked, “I don’t like them.” I surely spent most of my life wishing I were dead until Samuel said how hard it was for him to hear that. So I said instead, “I wish I had never been born.” That is the piercing and shattering of childhood sexual abuse.
As a girl of eight, I remember desperately needing the freedom of that expression while being interviewed in the princess competition my mother put in, “Do you love your family?” the interviewer asked kindly, of course expecting any little girl to show her love and warmth.
I held it in like a balloon about to explode. I knew Mother wouldn’t want me to say anything bad about my brothers. She wanted me to win so much. I felt confused, torn— alone. I said nothing or very little or maybe a soft, “Yes.”
The first violent attack had occurred and another sibling had held me down and begun his torture. When the interviewer asked me about brothers now turned monsters… that is when I needed help and a voice but it was already taken when my mother didn’t help but instead blamed. I needed to speak the truth, but the feelings of shame silenced me just as Mother planned.
I didn’t win, furthering the very bad feelings I had about myself curdling inside. Now I had let my mother down. I was not pretty enough to win. I didn’t love my family enough. I had not answered the question properly. I was bad, bad, bad. Nothing ever escaped me about what they had done. I contained it all.
How is that possible? How is a child able to? What does that do to a child? I blamed myself for it all. Rage grew with the charade I felt forced to portray. I have felt forced all my life and don’t know freedom, only moments, bits and pieces. I want more. I want to stand up and say who I am, the truth; a fighter, a warrior, a survivor of unmentionables that need to be mentioned, shouted to the world. Wake up and listen, dam you!
I walk the meadow head down, feeling the battle of winter against spring as brain chemicals begin their spin to more daylight. Breathe. Oh, that is luscious, earthy and clean, not like the dull browns and greys as my boots suck at the mud mixed with pale bland grass.
I look up, noticing the robin following me from branch to branch, stuck in my thoughts just as thoroughly as my boots stuck in the mud; a moment of joy realizing that robin is protecting a nest near-by, a spark of what’s to come once the grass greens, the feeling of wholeness that takes a back seat during the winter months; a feeling of presence, of aliveness.
Freedom is on my mind, or lack of it. I feel victim to my days not master of them. Even now, fifty years later, I am ensconced within my own world and feel defined by the invisible chains of childhood.
Never has there been a time when I said publicly, “My brothers raped me.I hate my brothers. I wish them dead.”
I use the word rape loosely. The time real rape occurred was so vicious it is blocked from my consciousness niggling on the periphery of memory, but all other memories are rapes too in that my body was taken, used and abused without my consent.
Honest expression of the horrors I suffered needed to occur when I was eight years old. And if the attacks had happened by a stranger on the street, it could have. Who wouldn’t feel that way? Feelings are not facts. Wishing someone dead doesn’t make them dead. But it does a lot to relieve the horror and pain done by the evil acts of others. A mother of character would have allowed such expression not quelled it, would have seen to it—would have protected me in the first place, not blamed me into silence and a life of shame. That is family?
The chains of childhood bind me. Chains of conspiracy. Chains of silence. Chains of keeping silent to protect the name of the ‘family.’ The word family disgusts me. I wasn’t in a family. I was in a group of people that acted out, and acted out on me.
Three out of four are dead. The eldest, who hurt me the most, may outlive me and I don’t care. He’s done very well for himself, better than the rest at least financially. Not only does he own a place in Mexico by the sea, but is emotionally capable of getting there. I cannot fly unless drugged into oblivion. So I don’t.
There is a part of me that feels safer with three dead. My mother would say, “You should be ashamed of yourself.” And, “That’s not nice.”
These are the drones of sentences she used early on to control me, to make me meek, to quell her daughter’s natural instinct to speak out against wrongs. They bind me still. So much so, I more often do not know how I really feel. It’s out on my walks or during meditation that I go beyond and below the early chastising to find and feel what is really there.
And yes, there is a part of me that feels safer with them dead. I didn’t kill them. I stopped raging and hating. I hate what they did because I still suffer the effects and always will. They suffered too.
As much as I hate what they did, I feel compassion. To act out as each did on their little sister meant they felt unloved attacking the only girl child who may have seemed loved. That’s my take on it. It wasn’t personal. Yet it was all personal for me.
Freedom. I don’t usually know what it is because the chains of silence still bind me even long after my mother’s death, seven years now. She did her job well, silencing her daughter. I want to stand at the podium and say this happened to me. And maybe I will someday. Maybe that is my destiny if destiny is going to my center and leads me there. I feel compelled to move forward in whatever way feels right. Speaking out about the truth feels like where freedom lay dormant waiting.
During the process of finding my own pearls within, the crossed boundaries that once went unchallenged become intolerable. A person who said I was her best friend used me. Her voice, though sweet, spoke bitter blades that swiped and cut. I was used as her personal trash bin and allowed it.
In the last few years, I spoke up about it. I see her less because I’m less useful to her since she cannot dump on me any longer. I won’t allow it. I saw her in the store today with her daughter. A chill permeated the embrace I instigated. I hugged her with warmth, forgiving, and not even mentioning her complete absence when I was so sick— no call, no card, no nothing.
I’m slow as to friendship and what that means, and when it’s over. And it’s OK if it’s over. I’ve gone months without anything from her and have been fine. I’m better off without those who feel more like my worst enemy than my best friend. She used to describe our relationship that way until I began speaking up about what hurt(s) me.
I don’t care to keep a ‘friend’ who really is just a learning tool, a person to learn to speak up to. That’s not a friend but a stone wall. I respect myself too much to allow her to use me that way even if it means losing what seems already lost.