T-Bird (Part III)

March 17, 2005 at 12:01 am (Uncategorized)

*Scroll down for Parts I and II*

I was very much surprised at T-Bird’s “resilience.” She’s not a weak person by any means, but working your way through a trauma such as the loss of child is trying on the most solid of psychologies. I talked to Bob a few times to find out if she was fibbing to me about how she was doing. I talked to her mom too. No, she was doing good, compared to what could be going on.

Nate and I drove to Michigan in March, 1998, as a surprise to celebrate her birthday. She was very heavy. The heaviest I had yet to see her. Being five foot nothin’ doesn’t get you far. When she was diagnosed bi-polar, she was placed on lithium, which caused horrible weight gain, not to mention the other side effects. It was good to see her though, even if the time was super short.

I believe we may have visited two or three times until Christmas of that same year and she had lost a little weight. During Christmas she told me that she had gone off the pill. I didn’t say anything and neither did she, but two things hung over us that evening. The first was Tori, the second was that it had taken T-Bird almost three years to get pregnant with her. (T-Bird hadn’t used birth control in five years, but she was with Bob three years prior to conceiving Tori.) No sooner had they returned to Michigan than they had to turn around and come back due to a death in the family.

While here, she stopped by my place. She didn’t look so good. She said she had been throwing up. *Eyebrows raised* She said, “No, I took a piss test. It was negative.” Uh huh. So was her first, second, and third ones with Tori. Schorrrrrrrr… uh huh. Right. Next baby… due October 9.

T-Bird had it rough. She went to a specialist who recommended a cerclage. Cerclage you ask? A great big staple for the cervix… to keep it shut. He believed premature dilation of the cervix caused the tear, leakage, etc. I raised my eyebrows. I believed that as much as I believed the moon is made of cheese. Yes, he’s a specialist. Yes, he goes to fancy schmancy seminars. I got something on him though… I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I was there. He’s looking at medical records from individuals who were in a stressful situation. The Nanner knows. Trust me. M’kay? Tori got here with T-Bird dilating to a whopping 5-6 cm.

T-Bird and I kept in very close contact, to the point when I would answer the phone it was a race to see who blurted out, “What’s wrong?” vs. “Nothing’s wrong!” first. She made it through the cerclage. Then developed gestational diabetes. Then high blood pressure. She couldn’t eat sugar, pasta, or potatoes. Had to give herself shots. Wasn’t allowed to climb her steps more than once a day. No driving and… no sex. That’s right. With the cerclage being a foreign body it is more susceptible to infection… so no sex. No getting hot and bothered even.

We all breathed a little easier as she eased past the 25 week mark. I went to Michigan for the baby shower and then it was just a matter of waiting. T-Bird called me the first week of September. The baby was head down and doing fine. Her blood pressure though was another story. She was starting to swell and develop pre-eclampsia. They removed the cerclage. The doctor was putting her in the hospital for a non-stress test, ultrasound, and amniocentesis. She had always told me she wanted me there when she had Tori and now, her son, J3. I told her I would make plans and for her to call me following the amnio. She called the next day around 10 o’clock. The amnio was good, J3’s lungs were developed and it was time to induce labor.

I left West Virginia by 6:00 p.m. and should have been to the hospital no later than 1:00 a.m. That is until they let T-Bird have the phone while I was trying to find the hospital. She turned me around within a mile of the hospital and sent me into downtown Detroit. Downtown. Detroit. At. 1:00 a.m. Every time I would try to make my way out of center city I would be on the wrong road and almost went to Canada a half dozen times. Finally, finally… I made it back onto the right road (by ignoring the directions of the people at the hospital) and by the time I got there, it was 2:00 a.m.

I met her mom in the hallway and she had the “worried Mom”look. She waved me into the room. T-Bird was not doing well at all. They had oxygen on her, more wires and cords than a motherboard, and I watched as her eyes slid open, hazy. Her stomach was trembling as she contracted but she was hardly on this planet. I left the room and faced down her mom. I knew something was wrong and why weren’t they doing a C-section?

KCZ (T-Bird’s mom) said they were just waiting for the doctor, he was on his way to do an assessment. Damn doctor. Assessment my ass. She was stuck and had been stuck at 5-6 cm. (thank you VERY much). Now her blood pressure was spiking into stroke range. The doctor came down the hallway, disappeared into her room, came out, and proclaimed, “We need to do a C-section.” Duh. KCZ’s friend punched me in the arm, hard, and hissed, “Somebody was just waiting on you to get here.”

I went back into T-Bird’s room and she was much more coherent. I took a hold of her hand and she pulled me close to her, pulled her mask off and said, “I’m scared Nanna.” Tears seeped out of the corners of her eyes and I reassured her that she had made it this far and comparatively, J3 was doing much better than her. He had just started showing signs of distress when they took her in for the C-section. We all collapsed in the waiting room. I pulled my knees up under my chin and fell asleep.

I woke up when the door to the waiting room opened. It was Bob. We had a healthy baby boy and one very ill Mommy. J3 lay red and squalling like the whole world was his enemy. Music to our ears. T-Bird was still hazy from the anesthesia but her blood pressure had now bottomed out and she was put in intensive care. It was 7:00 a.m. before Bob and I staggered back to his and T-Bird’s apartment. I collapsed on the couch and he stretched out on the floor. By 11:00 we were back up and on our way to breakfast. (Nanner must have breakfast… Bob knows this.)

T-Bird was not doing well at all. She had even yet to hold J3. To have gone through so much, now she wasn’t even capable of holding him. Her mom and I took turns sitting beside of her bed with J3 propped up in her arms for short periods of time. She was running a fever. Somewhat coherent. She knew she had the baby. She knew he was okay. She knew this because we repeated it every time she woke up and asked. By the next morning her fever had broken and with the assistance of us and the nurses, she was able to hold and start to care for J3. I left that Sunday and told her I would return the following month.

Little did I know, little did any of us suspect… the shit storm to come.

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T-Bird (Part II)

March 16, 2005 at 9:03 pm (Uncategorized)

* Scroll down for Part I*

Six weeks to the day after Nate was born, T-Bird moved back to Michigan. She left Bob behind as he wasn’t certain he wanted to go. I watched as she packed and hugged her tight.

The phone lines burned between WV and MI until she came to pick Bob up a few months later. OY, they burned a lot. We were both pretty strapped for cash though and honestly, I can’t remember if she came back to WV before August of 1997. She had called me a couple of months before and asked me to be in her wedding. Then she called a few weeks after that and said, “Oh, you’re going to be an aunt… and a godmother.” Wow… a new little one and just 17 months younger than Nate!!

I made my first trip to MI in August. It was a late trip and I got stuck behind one of the trains which delayed my arrival into the early morning hours. Didn’t matter! I met her then best friend and maid of honor (MOH) from MI. We stayed up and chatted until the late morning hours and got some shut eye. T-Bird was right at 20 weeks so I could actually tell she was pregnant. She was quite heavy anyway but a pregnant heavy is different. It would be my job to get her to the manicurist on Friday to prepare for the big day. That night we tried to turn in early but the MOH pissed her off over her sister, and tensions flared.

We ended up on the curb at an ungodly hour when we should have been sleeping. T-Bird was having serious doubts about marriage. It had nothing to do with Bob, but rather her own insecurities and basic unwillingness to be tied down. I told her it wasn’t too late and then I just listened and hugged her and we made fun of everyone and cussed and cried a bit. She decided, yeah, it was worth it. I can’t say I talked her into, I just let her talk herself into it. Morning came early… and it was off to the hairstylist, make-up, getting dressed, photos, and the wedding, which was performed by her father, who came in from California.

While at the reception, MOH and I had to help her use the bathroom. The bathroom was about the size of a port-a-potty and there we were, squeezed in with this big dress. Basically, we held the dress and T-Bird did the rest. Being in such close quarters, it was kind of hard not to notice what was going on below me. T-Bird, at that time, was severely addicted to Mountain Dew and with the stress of everything I was a little worried about her. I noticed her urine was really dark and made mention of it. I told her to drink some water and she scoffed and said it was always like that because she drank so much Mountain Dew. I let it drop. Damn… hindsight is 20/20.

Her mother, brother, and I were the only ones who knew where she and Bob were spending their wedding night. Her brother and I went by and delivered some sparkling grape juice and a few other things they had forgotten. I was leaving after breakfast the following morning. I laid my hand on the top of her belly and the baby kicked my hand. Wow! I’ll never forget that. Fuck… hindsight is 20/20.

On Tuesday morning, August 12th, the receptionist at my office told me as I walked through the door that T-Bird had called. She was in the hospital, could I wait on her phone call. While I was quizzing the receptionist she called back and I went into the conference room to take it. I picked the phone up and said, “Hey.”

T-Bird said, “Hey,” with tears in her voice. I laid my head on the desk. Fuck. Devastated and heartbroken she told me that she hadn’t been feeling well since the wedding and by Monday evening was having contractions. The amniotic sac had developed, what they believed to be, a small tear which did not heal. Which, yes, may have accounted for the dark “urine” which I saw in the toilet.

An infection had developed around her uterus, causing contractions, and premature opening of the cervix. No amount of antibiotics will cure this type of infection. Once it takes hold the only remedy is to deliver the baby and save the mother. So, my little goddaughter, Tori, was born at 20 weeks. Perfect in every way – blond headed, her little eyes fused shut, head barely the size of a lemon, weighing in at just under a pound. She was just … too small. The doctor said had she been 22 or 23 weeks … maybe.

I desperately wanted to be back in Michigan. There was just no way I could make the trip though. I have to say, out of all the bare financial times of my life, that hurt the worst. Not being able to return to Michigan when T-Bird needed me was just plain, damned ass shitty. I had never experienced anything like this before and had no idea what to do or say. I just… listened. I worried more because T-Bird is bi-polar and only time would tell how she held up against the loss of her daughter.

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T-Bird – Part I

March 16, 2005 at 3:10 pm (Uncategorized)

We have a love/hate relationship. I’ve blogged about her before. We had the most dubious of beginnings. I believe it was in the parking garage of a local mall when she threatened to kick my ass. Yes, this was our first meeting. She and I babysitted the same little boy while his mother whined about being single and… oh, yeah… lied to us about each other. She was just that type. So, that was our beginning.

The Bitch moved to North Carolina and left her son with me. I can’t recall exactly how long it was before she finally came back but it was long enough. She then would bring him back to T-Bird and T-Bird had him at one point for a month. Finally the Bitch came back and got him and then just sort of disappeared with this little guy that T-Bird and I had practically raised and nurtured as our own. This is the reason we started talking. When the Bitch stopped communicating we would call each other to see if the other had heard from them.

Eventually, we did start talking about more and by the end of the year, we had shared why we felt such animosity for each other. Trust me, there was no love loss on either side. I hate for someone to lie about me. I can give you plenty of reasons not to like me, don’t make any up. It was the Bitch. I won’t get into what all was said… it was not flattering. No wonder she didn’t like me. The Bitch came home for Christmas that year and I, three months pregnant, told her to fuck off.

What solidified my relationship with T-Bird was when we had our January blizzard and she and her boyfriend (then husband, now ex-husband, live-in) brought me groceries by walking up The Hill (where the trailer park was) because it was just impossible to leave. Before long I was going to their apartment every Saturday for breakfast. I’d call and ask if Bob was up because he was the morning cook.

Those were good times. T-Bird and Bob were my best friends throughout the last months of my pregnancy. T-Bird listened as I cried and bitched about SD. I can look back now and say she was pretty stable psychologically at that point.

Around July 4th of 1996, she left for a trip to her home state of Michigan and instructed me to not have “that baby” without her. *Salutes* Yes, ma’am. As luck would have it, one of my friends from college, a mother herself, had been the one to go to my childbirth classes with me instead of T-Bird and she was at the beach for July 4th weekend.

Even luckier, I went into labor July 7th at 4:00 in the afternoon while I was on the phone with my sister. I had called to wish my nephew a happy birthday. I knew it was a labor pain as opposed to Braxton-Hicks because I had been in labor in May. Plus, SD had just yelled at me and made me cry… which is also the reason I went into labor in May. T-Bird took me to the hospital then too. I called Bob about 7:00. He said T-Bird had left Michigan about the time I went into labor, maybe a little before.

I puttered around, struck with that “nesting instinct.” Kind of hard to nest though when your belly looks like it has two basketballs in it. T-Bird called and told me she had just gotten home and would be to my house directly. She came in wanting to know where my luggage was and still I puttered.

I was wearing a dress she had given me, which even in my advanced stage of pregnancy was still very, very comfy. She made me some toast and urged me to hurry up, which I didn’t. I had no desire to go to the hospital. I was willing to wait it out as long as I could. Finally, I made one last trip to the bathroom before leaving for the hospital.

T-Bird yelled down the hallway, “Hey, my Mom thought she had to pee and instead her water broke.” Yeah, just guess what happened!! I called her a variety of unbecoming names and was now forced to walk around with a towel between my legs. Oh yeah, this joy was just starting.

Nate’s birth itself and aftermath are a few posts unto themselves so I’ll just tell you that T-Bird was there during my labor, part of which she slept through (lucky her), she was the one who helped shove my ankles to my earlobes, and she was right there as they laid Nate in my arms the first time and we cried together.

Life though… takes funny turns.

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Things I Thought

March 14, 2005 at 9:41 pm (Uncategorized)

*Ring* *Ring*

Nanner: (looks at Caller ID) *groan* Hello

Sperm Donor: Didya get that newspaper?

Nanner: Yeah, its out in the car.

SD: Whatta you mean its out in the car?

Nanner : I mean, numb nuts, its out in the car.

Nanner: I went and picked it up this morning and forget to get it out of the car. Nate and I got busy. I’ll have Nate go get it.

SD: What the fuck is wrong with you?

Nanner: I was young and stupid and co-dependent… got no other excuse.

SD: Your son’s name is in the newspaper and you can’t fucking be proud of that?

Nanner: Geeeee… your son was BORN and you refused to sign the paternity papers… let’s talk about proud here fuckerrrrrrr.

SD: I… I… saw it this morning and I’m sorry I wasted my time fuckin’ callin’ you.

Nanner: Damn, what is that under my fingernail… gross… Oh yeah, sorry you fuckin’ called me too putz.

SD: You can’t fuckin’ just get the goddamn newspaper!

Nanner: You can’t get a life?

SD: Heh, well fuck you bitch. I never had my name in the newspaper.

Nanner: Excuse me? How ‘bout when you were arrested for assaulting your girlfriend? How easy we forget.

SD: So my parents could tell me how proud they were.

Nanner: I’m beginning to see the reason for that.

SD: You never fuckin’ tell him your proud.

Nanner: Fuck you Jeff. You don’t know what I say.

Nanner: *Note to self* Call Trashman.

SD: I see I fuckin’ wasted my time calling you. I fuckin’ wasted my time.

Nanner: And you have now wasted 10 minutes of my time that I will never regain. You’re also using my oxygen. You’re so pathetic.

Nanner: Nate, your dad’s on the phone.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
What was so important, you ask? Why was I being such a bad parent? Because they list the bowling league scores every Sunday from the previous week. All 400 of them. Nate’s name was about this big squished among 399 other names, with his bowling score beside of it.

I’m all for praising my son. There is such a thing called “false pride.” Making a big deal out of something very small, which the child then knows is over blown. Nate looked at me as I was leaving the room, giving me that, “MOM!! Come and get him off the phone” look. I shook my head. He nodded his vigorously. I shook mine vigorously as he answered, “Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh.” I skulked off to the computer room but Nate was not to be outdone.

He followed me two minutes later. “Yeah, okay, uh huh, uh huh, yeah, okay wellIgottagohere’smymom.”

Nooooo… I shook my head at him and he shook his head at me and pointed at the phone. I rolled my eyes and took it from him.

You done?

Yeah.

Bye.

*Click*

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Cycles

March 13, 2005 at 3:20 pm (Uncategorized)

That is the number one reason I have worked hard at getting my life on track or, a different cycle. Once I separated the co-dependency from the empathy, I set out on this journey to change my attitude, change my life, change the way I looked at life, the people in it, and to become comfortable in my own skin and my ability to make good choices. Once I had a name for it, I felt like I could fight it or embrace it, which ever worked better.

Empathy is innate. It can be controlled or turned off, but what fun is that? Co-dependency is a learned response. I had to re-learn healthy responses to situations. I had to re-learn boundaries. I had to learn to recognize the triggers which invoked unhealthy responses. The biggest of those is the fear of abandonment. I’m sure a lot of people believe abandonment is a physical manifestation. Someone in your life walks away. The reality is that its also an emotional stiff arm. They withdraw and become moody, no affection, won’t speak to you, if you do try, they will say, “Its not like you care,” or other similar things. This conditions a response to acquiesce to their demands, to “give in” so as not to lose that person or to quiet the home.

I’m not sure about other people, but that started very early in my life. I was very young and can remember being put in the position of my mother’s emotional crutch. The guilt trips, the sobbing, the alienation between my father and I because I had to be on “her side,” the manipulation of my feelings by her telling me liked my brother better… it all boiled down into how I responded to situations.

Its always easy to blame someone isn’t it? My mother was merely continuing the cycle from her family, as her mom or dad did from their family and back to wherever it started. My mom is what reformed alcoholics call “a dry drunk.” She carries the characteristics of alcoholics, but doesn’t drink. Given the number of alcoholics in my extended family… I can see this very clearly. She was conditioned and she passed it along.

When I recognized the cycle, I recognized my son as being “at risk.” Regardless of how much we don’t want to, it is a learned behavior, and it will be passed on unless the cycle is broken. Until I learned to think differently, until I learned to react differently, I was going to pass it on. I was going to sentence my son to my own prison. Its bad enough his dad is an alcoholic, let’s not add insult to injury.

No one is going to have a charmed life. Anyone who says they do is hiding something sinister in their soul. They’re the normal guy next door who turns out to be a serial killer or the lady who kills her kids.

I was going to put this off and perhaps not even write about it. I knew why I had done what I had done. It was as much for me as for Nate. What drove it home though, was the death of my cousin. Little Gabriel, who I blogged about in September of last year. He was born severely premature and had numerous problems. Bowel blockages, laser surgery on his retinas, and a host of other medical conditions inherent to premature infants. When privileged to the intimacies of familial relationships, it is quite evident, starting with Gabriel’s great-great grandmother (my paternal grandmother), the cycle which has perpetually repeated itself.

My grandmother, according to her sister, became a different woman when she was told at the age of 18, the man she believed to be her father, a man she loved, respected, and by all accounts, adored, was not her biological father. My grandmother was the oldest of several children, the exact number fails me and was placed in charge of her younger siblings while her mother entered into marriage after marriage (ending with number 5). I can’t imagine what effect this would have had on her. I just know what kind of woman she was. Hard and harsh; loving came much later and much too late.

She in turn had six children in seven or eight years and her eldest daughter, my dad’s sister, was placed in charge of them and basically raised them even at her young age. She married young to escape that responsibility, stepping right into a relationship with a man who was merely the male version of her mother. She stepped right into the responsibility of having her own children, stair steps themselves, and again, placed the care of those children onto her eldest daughter and first child, my cousin Jo, while she catered to the psychologically and physically abusive, emotionally withdrawn wretch of a husband.

Jo married young and had her first child by 17 or 18. Her husband was an alcoholic, abusive piece of shit. I can remember Grandma and us, my mom, brother and I, going to pick Jo up because Ray was threatening to kill her with a shotgun. My Grandma always drove a Cadillac… the monster Cadillac with the bench seat in the back big enough for all of her 13 grandchildren (at least it seemed to a 9 or 10 year old). Jo eventually left him but didn’t take her son because Ray, again, threatened to kill her. He lost custody of Scottie a number of years later to the State and he was adopted by another family.

Jo went on to marry three more times and have two more children. Her second son committed suicide about three years ago, maybe four, when he became depressed over his inability to provide for himself and his pregnant girlfriend. Her daughter, Gabriel’s mother, was born severely premature herself, and likewise had both of her sons’ prematurely.

Jo and her daughter, as a great number of mothers and daughters, have a love-hate relationship. They believe in self-medicating what ails them by whatever means available. Let’s say that Jo used to and Angela has taken over that position. Angela’s first son (he’s two or three years old) has been sexually abused by his father and he’s currently facing charges on that. And while little Gabriel lay dying in his crib, his mother was so screwed up on drugs, she had no idea her son was in mortal peril. At this point, I don’t have enough details to rule out the possibility she PUT him in that mortal peril.

I’m disgusted. I’m saddened. Perhaps little Gabe is better off. Its a recipe for disaster when you have a special needs child and an immature, drug abusing, reality bending, parent. I’m also angry that the State would put him back in his mother’s custody. But, we should all realize how difficult it is to place such a special child, even though Jo was more than willing to take him, like she’s taken his brother to protect him. Jo can see what is happening. She’s street wise and has finally woke up to what is happening and what has happened. The weight of it is slowly killing her. Her grandmother took no responsibility and gave no love. Neither did her mother. Neither does her daughter. Her grandchildren are innocent. She’s standing in the middle, watching it revolve around her.

Where will it stop?

For me, it stops here. No ones life is perfect. We cannot create a perfect existence for our children. We can only give them our support and the tools in which to make informed decisions, to hopefully make the right choices, to be self-aware, to dodge the worst of situations, to not repeat our patterns, while still giving them the space they need to make their mistakes and learn from them. How can something that sounds so simple, be so difficult? Good in theory, harsh in reality? Life is certainly not for the squeamish.

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QUICKIE!!!

March 11, 2005 at 11:43 am (Uncategorized)

Grrrrrrrrrrr… I’m so menacing aren’t I? I got too much stuffs ta do. Clients irritating the shit out of me!!! WHINING!! SHUT. UP. SHUTUPSHUTUP!!!

Grrrrrr… Anyway…

Short stuffs:

I did forget to print out the map to Nashville before I left last weekend. Oops. Now I have a KY/TN map and I found an awesome little atlas for 10 dallah. I rule.

Go to Cybeles and wish her friendTim’s friend Jim a big get well. Jim is having a nasty time with his pancreas. See if you can make your get-well note funnier than mine. What? I’m not telling you what I wrote!! I wanna keep the advantage. Also check out her buddy Tim’s comics. Hilarious.

I almost fell asleep face down on my keyboard last night.

I’ve been smiling a lot lately.

I’m getting a little nervous about my trip to NOLA/Houston. I’ve never driven that far by myself before. Alone. But, I know I’m never truly alone. Just wish those spirits could take over at the wheel occasionally.

I got pissy last night when I realized that… I still feel that little pull towards where I used to be… or rather, the feelings that could take me there. Then I remembered this:

“We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4am of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.” — Joan Didion

I’ll just keep nodding. From a distance. Not up close. I’ll just stay back here and raise my chin silently, maybe give a small wave. But from back here.

I gotta go. Duty calls. Keep smilin’.

I am. :o)

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What It Was Really Like

March 9, 2005 at 4:19 pm (Uncategorized)

I turn the corner and strain to see the two blocks to my house. Is he there? Its Friday. Its payday. The first butterfly starts fluttering. In the house, there is a damp towel in the bathroom and the smell of his cologne still lingers. Bastard. Fucker takes off so he doesn’t have to face me. He doesn’t have to work tonight. There is no note.

I make dinner. Nate chatters away about his day and I force myself to take a bite but I’m sick to my stomach and I push the plate away. I watch the clock. I jump every time the phone rings. I let Nate stay up late. After he drifts off, I wander the house, picking up one of my favorite books. I find myself barely reading, just skimming. I know all the words anyway. I wash dishes so I can see him when he comes home. The phone is right behind me if he calls. I leave the front door open as I try to watch a movie and when I hear a car, I stand up and walk to the door. As the car goes past, I stand there for a long time before I step out on the porch, as if this will bring him home sooner.

I sit on the top step, the phone by my side. I smoke. I stare. I push the feelings welling inside of me down. I pet Smokey, who purrs against my hand. I talk to him as though he can understand. Maybe he does. Maybe he feels my anxiety. Its bad. My stomach is tied up so bad I feel sick. I try not to cry. I try not to strain to hear the sound of his car. I try not to look… again…again… and again down the street. I finally go in the house and turn on another movie.

I’m tired but the more my stomach twists, the more I want to cry, and the more I keep myself from crying, the more my stomach twists. I lay down on the couch, facing the door, and I pray for sleep. My eyes snap open with each car passing by. I walk to the door and look out again. The slam of a car door. I wait and hear the neighbor’s talking in their smooth Spanish. I walk back and sit with my head propped against the back of the couch. I have a headache now. I keep talking to myself, but I’m not listening.

I’m paralyzed by fear. I’m paralyzed by his absence. I hate him. I love him. I hate myself. I lay down again and close my eyes.

I open my eyes to thin grey light. I have merely floated through the night, one eye open, one ear cocked, and I’m exhausted. I stumble to the bed and curl myself in a hard little ball. He still isn’t home. I lay staring at the clock, watching the minutes tick off. My stomach hurts so bad, if I don’t cry I’m going to puke and I hate puking. I quietly let them trickle out and I hide my face against the pillow. My body is shaking and I’m cold. I imagine he is there, holding me in his arms, his warm and solid strength, but still the tears come, until I sleep through them.

Someone is shaking my arm and I just can’t wake up. I can hear Nate talking, saying my name, but I’m still paralyzed. My body won’t move. Its as though someone has a blindfold over my eyes and I keep trying to tear it off. I can tell the room is bright with sunshine. Its too warm. I swim out of sleep, desperate to see. Nate has climbed on the bed and hugs me and I pull him back with me. We lay and talk, and I tickle him. His laughter makes me smile.

I can’t stay in this house today. I take Nate and go to the park. I wear dark glasses to hide my eyes. My head is pounding but the sun is so warm I can’t make myself move to the shade. We eat hotdogs. I eat as much as I can. I dread going home. I dread finding his car there. I dread finding it gone.

He’s not there. My stomach kicks in again. I check the Caller ID. No one has called. I sit on the porch while Nate plays, the sun sinks, and finally the air is cool enough to chill. I fix leftovers but I don’t eat. I’m afraid to look at the Caller ID when the phone rings. I’m beginning to believe it will be bad news. He’s crashed his car. He’s dead. He’s killed someone else. He’s in jail.

Nate hangs close to me. He hasn’t said anything about Holland being gone. Jessie, our Yorkie, hangs close too. She’s Holland’s baby. I turn the TV on, but don’t watch it. I have a book in my lap, but don’t read it. I have a phone beside of me that’s not ringing. I’m trying to be numb. I’m trying not to wonder if he’s dead. Yet, part of me hopes he is gone. Nate falls asleep in the crook of my arm. I get up and carry him to bed. I turn out the lights. I lay down in our bed. I stare at the ceiling. Then the clock. Then the wall. Then the ceiling.

My eyes fly open. Through sleep and distance, I heard the key in the lock. I scoot off the bed and meet him, staggering, in the living room. The smell hits me before he stumbles into me. The sickly sweet smell of alcohol evaporating from his pores along with sweat, smoke fumes, and… perfume. My stomach rolls as he pushes me aside and I let him go. I stand in that spot as I hear him collapse onto the bed. He doesn’t yell for me. His keys are laying on the floor.

I go out to his car. I rifle through the empty beer bottles, snuff cans, snack wrappers, cigarette packs, a fast-food bag. I find a couple of unopened beers. I pour them out. I find a half empty bottle of Crown Royal under the driver’s seat. I hate it. I know how expensive it is. I pour it out and shake the bottle. I want to smash it on the street. I throw the bottle across the fence, onto the railroad tracks. The sound of shattering glass breaks the silence. Nothing happens. No lights come on. No doors are opened. I close the car door and go back in the house. My feet are cold and wet from the dew.

I walk into the bedroom. He’s laying face down, fully clothed, shoes still on. I wrestle his shoes off. He doesn’t move. I’m glad. His wallet is still in his back pocket. He’s so very picky about it. I know he’ll be angry if he catches me going through it. He’s so fucking drunk, he’ll never know. I turn the light on and sit on the edge of the dresser, my feet propped up on the bed. His eyelids never flicker. I sit and watch him sleep, his raspy snores and stench filling the air.

I know its dangerous, like reading someone’s diary. You may find out things you wish you didn’t know. I don’t care. It takes a bit of tugging to get it out and he shifts. I feel guilty but it doesn’t stop me. The wallet is warm and wet. It smells. I pull out his check stub and then his money. He has $17.00 in one dollar bills. From an over $450 paycheck, he has $17.00. In one dollar bills. Seventeen. 17. One. 1. Dollar. Bills. I wonder what he paid for. I wonder if she is prettier than me. I wonder if this is the first time. Are her eyes bluer? Her skin clearer? I’m sure she has no stretch marks. Is her hair longer? Does he love her? I fold the bills.

I wonder if he fucked her. If it’s the first time he’s fucked her. How long he’s been fucking her? Is he going to leave me for her? Does he make fun of me to her? I’m so embarrassed to think of the secrets he knows.

My stomach hurts so bad I double over. I can only crawl across him and scoot myself against the padded frame. I lay my cheek on the mattress, the swell and recede of the water soothing me. He has all the pillows. He’s laying on the covers. I pull the sheet over me and tears run from the corner of my eye, over the bridge of my nose and slide down the other side. I stare at him for a very long time.

I’m being pulled across the bed. I reach out for the railing but I miss it. He’s not awake, but he’s alive. I’m wide awake. I know what he will do if I let him. His hands are on my hipbones and I push down on them. I know better than to struggle too much. It just makes him tighten his arms. I start talking softly to him. Sometimes its enough but he’s just too drunk. He’s acting out his past. He’s acting out his pain. I can’t let him though. He pulls on my underwear until it bites into my skin and for every inch he pulls them down, I pull them up an inch. His left arm snakes around my shoulder and neck, pulling me back against him.

So many thoughts in my mind. I can’t breath. My hands go to his arm. I know I can breath. I’m just scared. His right hand pulls on my panties again. I can’t fight a battle on two fronts. I pull my feet under me and push against his thighs, moving my lower body up and away from him. He’s supposed to stop by now. The pressure around my neck is loosened. We are both still. I feel his hands tighten, and he jerks me back against him. The snap and open zipper from his pants are digging into my cheeks. He tries to remove his penis but I keep pushing against him with my feet and he can’t. He relaxes his hand on my hip. He has tucked me against his body but he is relaxed. He’s not alive anymore. I’m exhausted and afraid to move. I finally wiggle my panties back in place. He’s not letting go.

Something is wrong. He’s laying half on me. I know what has happened. I can only scoot out from under him. The back of my panties, the back of the shirt, and part of my hair are soaked. The acrid smell of urine is nauseating. I crawl out of the bed. I’m crying before I reach the bathroom door. I strip and throw the clothes in the garbage. I run the water and wash myself as though I’m covered in fire ants. I can’t clean enough, fast enough. I don’t realize until my skin stops crawling that I have been sobbing out loud. I rest my head against the shower wall and cry. I keep talking to myself, but I’m not listening.

****************************************************

That was me three years ago. I don’t want your sympathy, nor your pity, and I hope to God you cannot empathize with anything I wrote. If I could turn off comments, I would. There’s nothing left to say other than, that’s not me anymore. It will never be me again. Do not ever think that I haven’t learned what is good for me and what is bad

**************************************************

Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.
And it is well you should.

-Kahlil Gibran

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Fear & Forgiveness

March 8, 2005 at 9:58 am (Uncategorized)

One of the multitude of things I thought about on my trip to and from Nashville was forgiveness. Not just forgiveness towards others but also forgiving ourselves and letting go of any fear associated with the mistakes of our lives, and the fear of repeating them.

I have done a lot of stupid things in my life. I have done things that have hurt other people. Some of these have been bigger than others. Sometimes I was the one who facilitated allowing others to hurt me.

I own my pain. It is mine. In as much as I allowed others to chip away at me, the person I am, my self-esteem, and assisted in building the wall of self-doubt and mistrust, it is I who chips away at that very thing. I have gotten somewhere, finally. It feels good to look back and say, “I made it.” I recognize the ways these things have shaped me and why I am sensitive about particular things. I have also learned that people coming into my life have no idea why and its time I open my mouth and say it. I don’t seek sympathy. Life sucks sometimes, we all know it.

What I do seek, is to share for the purpose of understanding. Understanding why and how and looking beyond the surface. Fear, in my opinion, only happens when one of two things happen: 1) The situation is, or could be, very, very bad; and 2) The situation is, or could be, very, very good. It dawned on me that when one fears happiness, its not the happiness we fear, its the fear of losing it. Its the fear of giving ourselves over to it, and the fear of it biting us full force on the ass.

I believe I have confused some, not just in my life, but in Blogland with my attitude. I think its lead some to believe that I have become so effective at “moving on” that I am callous, unfeeling, and I have numbed myself to any type of emotional pain. Here is where I share for the purpose of understanding, not necessarily so you understand me better but so you may understand everyone better.

I have worked my ass off in the past nine months to get where I am. Actually, its been much, much longer than that. The past nine months of blogging have pushed it further than it has ever been. Can I just say, I’ve learned from the past? I’ve learned to trust that inner voice? I’ve learned to heed the tap on the left shoulder? I’ve learned to listen to myself as opposed to the voices of others? And by voices I mean those from the past, the ones that cut me down. Its not easy. It will never be easy, but its getting easier.

It easier to make decisions without questioning myself. Whereas before, I may have bent over backwards to make sure you liked me, anyone for that matter. (Not singling anyone out here or in real life, just speaking in generalities) You may have sensed the fear in me of losing you. It wasn’t you though, it was the fear of you leaving me. Why would anyone want that kind of love? That’s not love, that’s fear. Living under a cloud, the cloud of abandonment. It tickles still. Before it was like a case of poison ivy, now its just a tickle.

Excuse me if I have learned to finally see, as clearly as possible, those things which are unhealthy for me. I have learned if it is unhealthy, I don’t need it. If I don’t need it, I can forget it. I make no excuses for shutting the door on anything which could set me back on my path forward. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel pain, or disappointment, I’ve just learned to assign them as much worth as is due them. Do not think there aren’t people in my life who if I were to lose them, through whatever means or ends, that I wouldn’t be devastated but it wouldn’t be because I’m afraid of losing them because I’m psychologically sick. It would be because they mean so much to me, to my heart, and because they hold my heart just as dear to them.

I have a letter to write. This is what brought all of this to mind. Its time to close the door a little further on a rough chapter in my life. The Holland Chapter… that’s the Ex-Drunk-Boyfriend. The one who is sitting in jail, awaiting his turn for a personalized prison cell. I have every reason to wish him a long and difficult life. However, he’s had enough of a difficult life. I could blame him for everything and get by with it. I won’t though.

I know that he feels guilty for what happened between us. I know he feels guilty for walking out on me and leaving me with all of the debt he had promised to help pay. His AA sponsor told me recently, “He knows we are probably the only two people in his life who ever loved him for who he was, instead of who he could be.”

We’ve each had enough. He should not have taken advantage of my love for him. I should not have let him take advantage of me. I have forgiven myself for allowing it to happen; for facilitating it even. I want Holland to know that. It doesn’t mean I’m happy about him shirking his responsibilities, but the time for finger pointing is over.

I want Holland to let go of any guilt he feels over me, Nate, and our relationship. I also want him to know that Nate still talks about him, almost three years later. I want him to know that Nate loved him just because he was Holland. Because he took time to let Nate help when he was more of a hindrance. I just want him to have that to hold on to. He made the remark six months after he left, that he was surprised that Nate remembered him. Nate has never forgotten. Nate will never forget. I think having the unconditional love of a child is worth holding on to. I just want him to know that I’ve forgiven him and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him having been in my life.

As for me, I’ve spent most of my life, not all, but most, either being in unhealthy relationships or recovering from them. I don’t ever want to forget that. I never want to forget where I have been. For 34 years I’ve learned how adversity, pain, poverty, unhappiness, and unhealthiness can change me and how I can change myself. I’ve learned how one child can bring out more love and inner strength than I ever imagined.

Its time though, to find out what love can do. Its time to learn how sharing the inner machinations of myself doesn’t have to make me vulnerable in ways I don’t want to be. Intimacy is born from vulnerability. Intimacy cannot be achieved without revealing our innermost workings, desires, dreams, disappointments, insecurities, and trusting the other person will realize when we reveal ourselves, they are then entrusted with the most fragile seeds of our heart, as we are their’s. Tend their garden, yet tend your own just the same.

And think not you can direct the course of love,
for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.

Khalil Gibran (from The Prophet)

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You Are Soooo Ugly!

March 7, 2005 at 10:38 am (Uncategorized)

Yes, that’s what AJ said to me in the parking lot of my hotel as he was climbing out of his car at 1:00. I hugged him anyway! Wow, what can I say about Mr. AJ? I had talked to AJ on the phone on more than one occasion so I already knew what his voice sounded like. Appearance wise, he’s thinner than the picture on his blog right now. He has just gotten a haircut so he looked especially spiffed up. And… we were wearing the same thing… blue jeans and black turtlenecks… weird. But let me say, that AJ is a very attractive man who doesn’t look close to his age.

We left and took the five minute or so ride to his house where I met his wife, Michelle, and I was lucky that his daughter Amy was in from college so I got to meet her too. Michelle is a very warm, very, very pretty lady. She was happy to give me the ten cent guided tour around Casa AJ/Michelle and share their decorating schemes and her incredible collection of Longaberger baskets. She and Amy were going to the mall so we said good-bye and AJ showed me his dungeon, I mean loft, where he creates his masterpieces.

We were then off to Frist Museum (ahem, that is after AJ realized he had locked his keys in the house and had to, you know, “break in” to retrieve them. THEN, we left for the Frist Museum.) They had lovely photographs on the walls leading around of Holocaust survivors. It would be worth it to just go back for those. I saw a great many quilts and other artwork and beautiful costumes made by clothing designer, Manuel. Naturally, we talked the entire time about everything. Everything.

We were both starving and stopped at… uh… that place with the band.. AJ can tell you and I had an INCREDIBLE fried catfish sammich. So good make ya wanna slap yo momma. Half-heartedly went shopping, although we did see some outrageously funny shot glasses. One said, “Give me another, you’re still ugly.” *Laughs* We walked back to the car and left to tour Opryland Hotel.

Wow! What an impressive piece of architecture! We took pictures on the sweeping double staircase (think Gone With The Wind or Titanic). The atrium is incredible. We got Ben & Jerry’s and sat on one the multitude of benches in the quiet atmosphere. I’ll post pics sometime this week.

Then we went to 3rd and Lindsley to see the band Fab, who are a Beatles cover band. Incredible musicians and singers and revealed to me the simplicity and the complexity of the Beatles. AJ and I drank a few beers and sang along with the tunes. That pretty much did me in and we went and checked me into the hotel and agreed to meet in the morning at 8:30 for breakfast.

I woke up at my normal time, except it was an hour earlier in Nashville. I was ready when AJ got there, I checked out, and we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. The waitress there was kind enough to take pictures of us together and our massive morning spread. We took up a table for quite a while, running over our allotment of 1 1/2 hours. It was close to 10:30 when I hugged him one last time and told him I would be back in May for the Rennaisance Festival. Since then, I realized that I will indeed be back through there on my trip to NOLA and plan on stopping in Nashville on my return trip.

AJ and I discussed many personal things and, of course, things about the Blogosphere and especially the perceptions that other bloggers have of us and our perceptions of each other. I thought AJ was a bit more serious than how he came across on the phone but we were discussing fairly serious subject matter. Then we got a few beers in us and we’re sitting there singing along with the Beatles. I could say more, and perhaps one day I will when AJ is ready to blog about that serious subject matter. AJ is a great friend; someone I can agree to disagree with and know that will be respected. I look forward to seeing him and his family again.

Well, damn. I miss you AJ.

**********************************************

Stats:

Total mileage: 866 miles/1393km.
Gas mileage: 43 mpg.
Travel time: 13 hours
Time with AJ: 14 1/2 hours
Sleep/personal time: 7 hours
Cups of Coffee: 10
Beers: 5
Meals: 2
Average speed: (Southbound) 62 mph. (Northbound) 78 mph.
# of police spotted: (Southbound) 2 (Northbound) 2
Detours: 1 on I-64 West due to tractor trailer accident.

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Oh, How I Love Thee…

March 4, 2005 at 12:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Sorry, no audioblogger today. I just couldn’t get my shit together. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. My excitement level has escalated over the past few hours as I realize that tomorrow I’m going to be hugging AJ. And Jamie will be getting to ESC’s place and Aimee will be at her Scrapbooking Expo. What’s everybody else doing?

Back to AJ and my trip to Nashville. We’re meeting about noon and going to the Frist Museum then… anything goes… then dinner and drinks. Considering AJ and I are the human incarnates of the Energizer Bunny, can you imagine? All day, non-stop gabfest. Gab, gab, gab, gab, gab, gab. No laying about, vegemiting in front of the tube. Can’t wait… giddy, giddy, giddy, giddy!!! Hope everyone drives safely and all is well.

************

I was looking back over some of my old posts and re-read my 2nd Christmas post. I thought at the time that I had adequately documented my day but I found it woefully lacking regarding the time that I spent with my niece Annie.

I go through life feeling as much as I go through life seeing. Nate and my nephews, J1 and J2, have the same type of energy. Its an alert, hyper, spastic, intelligent, seeking, searching, scanning, questioning, move, move, move, go, go, go, motor driven, mind never stops energy. Reminds me of someone else I know, but I can’t think of her name.

Annie though, Annie is different. She has the intelligence but she’s watchful as opposed to seeking. Her alertness is not a head turning alertness, but an internal alertness as though she’s contemplating everything. Her smile is warm and happy. J1 was somewhat like that, but J2 was not. J2 is such a cranker! Nate had a warm happy smile but … its hard to explain the difference in the energy behind it. Its so rare when my brother and SIL come to my parent’s house to be able to hear yourself think. After we opened gifts though my dad took the boys up the holler, SIL went to get ready for New Year’s Eve, my brother went to Wal-Mart, and my mom cleaned the kitchen.

I did with Annie what I did with Nate numerous times as a baby. I laid on the floor, my head propped up by pillows, and sat her up against my raised knees. She was already trying to sit up and she wobbled around a bit as I talked to her.

“Look at those fingers and toes and little elbows my Annie girl. You’re Aunt Nanna’s girl aren’t ya?” *Exchange smiles* She reached for my hair and I wrestled it out of her tiny but firm grasp. I picked her up and swung her in the air over my face. (Yes, this is very dangerous. You never know when you’re going to have a tummy revolt.) I lowered her until our noses touched and she reached again for my hair and I threw her up in the air and as I caught her she had a little belly laugh. I did it again and again, smiling at her and laughing at her laughing.

Then I sat her up against my bent legs again and talk non-sensical things to her and rub her belly with the doll I got her for Christmas. Then I rolled us over in the floor and sat her against my shoulder and watched her little fingers as they flexed and grasped. They learn so much so fast. I marveled at the shape of her forehead (like mine) and the shape of the back of her head (like mine), and her little red, perfectly curved eyebrows (like my brother). I got up and left her sitting, before she realized she didn’t have any support and tipped over.

I caught her and laid her on her belly, hoping to watch her turn over but she was more interested in a rattle and was content to kick her legs and gurgle. I laid down facing her and she looked up and gave me a wide gummy grin and scrunched her eyes up and gurgled and babbled. I reached out and smoothed her hair across her head and wished she were mine.

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