The Dread of A Dozen Roses
I write you with much apprehension, yet I am compelled to out of my love for Thomas. It's been roughly a year since I began dating him, but somehow he remains in my life. Why? Why do you allow him to be with me now, when the two boyfriends before him, you decided to brutally remove from my life, and subsequently sent me four black roses each time you made one disappear? I want to be free of you, but I notice your reflection in every window we pass, and never miss your car outside my house most nights until Eleven. Is this a game to you? When will you finally learn I'm not interested? It's been four years since you and I met, and you've forced yourself into my life everyday since; I assume by design, but I can no longer fathom the thought of losing my sweet Thomas, and if you cared about me as much as you have ruthlessly demonstrated, then you would continue to let us to live on, in love. I beg you to leave us alone, and stop following me. Don't hurt him like you did the others. I wish I could say that I would do anything to protect us, but that's not true, because I will never choose to be with you. Please find a way to move on. I know that your love for me feels real, but it's not. So, this time please don't send me flowers.
Depression comes to me like secondhand smoke comes to kids whose parents leave the cigarette in between their fingers even in the car, I’ve only been hurt by people already dying from the diseases. People whose hearts have already turned the color of a smoker's lungs. I know I am worth more than the hurt of the hurted but man, the punch in the gut I get when he walks into the room. The wind is completely knocked out of me, and the earth stops spinning for just a moment. Not in a I miss him oh how he makes my heart explode way but in a I do not think I'd cry if he stepped on to the street 5 seconds before the walk sign came on. Of course, I wouldn't want him dead but him never being able to use his legs again might just put a tiny smile on my face. Waiting for karma can get kind of exhausting. Accidently and subconsciously watching their life be okay while they left you to pick up the pieces of the puzzle. a puzzle they drove you to the store to buy so yall could solve the puzzle together. A puzzle that was very unfamiliar to you. Especially when they knew they were the first person you had ever bought a puzzle with, yet insisted you get the 1000 piece. Then when the puzzle takes you longer than expected, even the easiest part of connecting the edge pieces - They leave. They no longer want to solve the puzzle. They throw it on the ground. They tell you they'll come back when there no longer busy and then you never speak to them again. My friends say it's for the best and I believe them but part of me wonders how good it would feel to let those two words slip right off my tounge into their eyes. I wonder how good it would feel to let the divinity of my feminine rage make you cry. I am starting to think short men are the spawn of the devil , I neveer met a good one in my life. I am tired of walking on ice , I wanna walk on solid ground . I want depression of my own , not something that reflects the reflection of the person who cause another person pain.
Be real. How many times have I been fake?
I'm always fake, I tell everyone, does that somehow make me less fake?
I say one story to one person and a different thing to another. And then I go back to the person I spoke about and say it's not true.
I'm a mess. And I want a clean start. But now he's gone, and I know I messed up. It was my idea, for him to be gone.
I told my friends he pressured me when if I didn't say anything, was that really pressure? I could've stopped it. But I believed the lies I conceived.
I told one person I did truly love him, and my closest friends I didn't. Am I just scared of their judgment?
How many times has he told me not to care what other people think?
At times, I know he was good for me.
But in my head, I'm a mess, knowing and believing that he is bad.
He waved at me. Yesterday, when I fully thought he was done with me, after all, it was me that blocked him and didn't respond. I turned around. And looking at the other people in the room Why do you always care what other people think?
I turn back, and see his playful shock what? not gonna wave back?
I smile and wave back.
Today, I didn't see him. I tell my friends, yesterday was traumatizing. But was it?
Truth be told, I was ashamed of being with him. I do care what other people think. But while at the same time, I do truly know that he wasn't all that good, neither am I.
But have my deceits made me believe I'm not in love with him anymore?
Because now I look at him and don't feel a thing.
please be gentle, this is my deepest secret.
This will not be like my other posts, this one will lack poise and refinement, but it will be as raw and real as anything I have ever written. The morning is cloudy, it's just rained, but the clouds linger over us. So, what's special about this morning? Nothing. I had plans to go out with a friend, a friend who won't reply. My dad asked me, "How's college? How are your friends?" and all I could ask is "What friends?". My adventures are always alone, but my deepest secret is that I want a group of friends in college more than I could ever imagine. The last few weeks have been a steady stream of people ditching me for something better, reinforcing the notion that I will always be 2nd in someone's life, even if they come first for me.
The only good group of friends I have is scattered across the country, weekly facetime calls are the only thing that reminds us that home is made of people, not a place. And under the veil of my online identity, I will tell you my biggest secret. Last week, one of my friends asked us, "If you could be granted one wish, right now, what would it be?", and that was the first time I've ever lied to my friends. We laughed, more happiness, more freedom, maybe some Taco Bell, we joked. But here it is, here is what I wanted to wish for, so horrible that I haven't even been able to say it out loud.
I wished everyone would forget me. I wished that no one would feel pain if I left. I've wanted to run, disappear, leave, drown, and the harshest one of all, I once wanted to leave this earth. But there is a thought in my head, that the people who really love me, might feel a irreversible pain. It's like a safety net, and they will never know how deeply, they are the only thing tethering me to this world. But, by god, sometimes I wish that no one knew me, so it would hurt them when my feet break out into a run and I disappear.
It's a horrible thing, I know, but I can only be lonely for so long. I'm sure it doesn't feel like the end of the world to you, but to me, I think that the world would keep spinning and it wouldn't make a difference. The only thing that stops me from just disappearing is that it might cause more pain than my freedom is worth. Will this be my life? Adventuring alone and telling myself that I like it better than being with people? What is it that makes me want to run away? I'm looking for something different out of life and people my age aren't seeking the same things. I can't pretend the alcohol makes me feel full, it only leaves me feeling empty. I can't cope the way they do. Because if I do, and I reach the bottom of the bottle, it'll be as empty as I feel.
I'm sorry, if you are reading this, I am sorry. I am sorry for the tears that are falling from my eyes and I am sorry for the pain I feel. I know you don't have to be reading this, but my god, I appreciate it. It means the world and more to me. This is my safe space. This will be the secret I take to the grave. It's a cloudy morning, and I still can't see the sun in the sky.
Write - Print - Type - Trash - Start Over
The title pretty much says it all.
I start with a thought and a blank page in hopes of creating that end all do all story. You know, the one you can't put down, and even when you do, you pick it up a week later and read it again.
I have yet to create that story but my waste basket next to my desk is brimming with wrinkled, crunched sheets of paper. Some have a sentence, some, a paragraph. I think there might be ten or twelve discarded pages with one or two words.
I have the thoughts, the ideas, the characters, and the plot but for some reason I can't get up the steam to get in a strong enough gear to make it flow.
I ask myself, "Is my head in the right place?" Do I want to introduce Donavon right away or later? He's central as the villain who has a thing for Jeanette who is blind. Then there is David, Jeanette's brother, a cop looking for the "Sunset Killer" which just happens to be Donavon. Basic plot. Good guy, bad guy, innocent victim. Right? But is she innocent?
That's where I get flustered/ I want to give her a vested interest to the criminal mind with a twist. I just can't figure out how to set up a blind girl for that type of character.
And that's where I'm at. What to do, what to do.
I may do what I've done with dozens of other ideas over the years and shelve the idea completely or leave it on the backburner for a couple of months and try it again.
Meantime, I must empty my waste basket. It's starting to scare me.
When In Rome
"I'll give you a wish," the woman said, leering at me. "Only five hundred lira." It was a crowded day, the oppressive sun of Rome beating down on we who braved the marketplace in order to buy the stuff of life. But this woman, inexplicably robed in black, seemed to be looking at me alone.
"Sold." I could buy this whole market if I wanted to, and five hundred lira is a pittance for a genuine wish.
"So? What do you want? I can do love, money, jewel-"
"Make me beloved of all." For once in my life, I didn't hesitate, didn't stumble over my words. "Make them love me. I am sick and tired of being used for my money or my status, when I know they secretly despise me."
"That's a difficult wish," the woman mused. "I'll do it, of course, but you must realize that my wishes are non-refundable, not-returnable, one-and-done..."
"Do it now, woman, and don't doubt my intelligence again."
"Of course, signore."
The next day, I stepped out of my carriage to market. Immediately, the masses swarmed around me.
"He's mine!" a young man shouted.
"No, he belongs to me!" the old woman yelled, throwing chrysanthemums.
The crowd swelled, crushing the death-blooms. My poor lungs, buffeted by the crowd, could not draw breath.
Citizens of Rome, don't lay flowers on my grave. After all, like the gladiators of old, it was your love that killed me.
A Hard Pill To swallow
Time. Time keeps passing by the way you turn on and off a light switch, the way the sun rises and sets like clock work each day. I’m stuck in the same place, for years my feet have been planted like cement. I’m trapt in my own mind like my own personal cocoon thats constantly on fire, offering no semblance of growth or protection. The caterpillar cocoons out of instinct, no rule book, no play by play, it just knows when its time. I unfortunately and not a caterpillar, each day when my eyes open i dont have any instincts any sense of self, i just am. I wake up and think about how to get through the day. How do i deal with all the thoughts constantly rushing at me, in me, thats a skill i have not mastered yet. I grew up in a home where the walls constantly burned, smoke filling my lungs no matter which way i ran or which room i hid in. There was no hiding, i was in a see through cage not of my own making.Take a breath, my mom loves me, my dad loves me, my parents failed me, take a breath. My parents never intended to cause so much irreparable damage and yet here i am, my pieces strewn left and right, here and there. They failed at their most basic job as a parent, protecting me. That’s a hard pill to swallow, and every day i try to swallow it without water, my throat dryer than sand, raw and bleeding from all the times iv tried and failed. I keep trying to make peace with things, i think one day ill get there but right now the hurt is just…all consuming. The person who was supposed to be a protector, a best friend, a confident and partner in crime, obliterated me and obliterated my life. It took me a really long time to admit what happened, to be able to say the words “I was Raped”. Not once, not twice but a number I’m to afraid to even know. I was sexually assaulted for years.Then i have to add all of the other things in to the recipe of things that screwed my brain up. The name calling, being made to feel like i was the most disgusting, vile creature that had ever dared to set foot on this earth. The amount of hatred i formed for myself, because someone who was supposed to love me and be my family, thought so lowly of me than i really must be awful. My home was not much of a home. There was no semblance of safety, creating an environment where the only warmth i knew was the anxiety that burned inside my chest.The dinner table,resembled a fight ring. Mom would put down the mashed potatoes, id get a death stare across the table. Down goes the corn, “stupid cunt” was mouthed over the pads of butter, the pork chops are done cooking and hell breaks lose. My ears ring to this day, wooden chair legs scraping across the floor, plates being flung, my father doing his best to parent a monster that wears a human skin. My mother, the house wife who tries to fix all, tries to cover it all up and pretend the damage never happened.I often wonder if her ears ring like mine.Ring, ring ring. Someone please help me, i cant do this all on my own, ring ring ring…dial tone.Im alone. I often still feel that, I’m the only one who was willing to finally stand up and try to change, try to change, try to better. Ill hold that trophy till the day i die, i was the brave one.
What Will I Find?
If I begin to unpack my thoughts in this way, allowing thoughts to flow directly from my mind to my fingertips to the screen, I am not entirely sure what will appear on said screen before my eyes. What if I don't like it? what if the unabridged, unedited version of my mind is repulsive to me? What if it is to others?
But -- isn't this why we write? To find out what lives inside of us? And not only what lives inside us as the writers, but to discover what lives inside of all of humankind? Isn't that the point of it all? I write to learn things I didn't know I knew until I began to write them down, and this, too, is a surprise to me even as I write it.
I am supposed to write until my head is empty, and a part of me worries that will never happen because a writer always brims with more words waiting to be spoken. Well, written, I should say. And yet -- somehow, I know my head will empty itself. Because I know so well the familiar feeling of writing in my journal, almost frantic, scribbling lines of thought into existence upon my page in black ink, desperate to pour ideas and feelings and the very idea of being alive, onto a page and capture it there, where it will remain, stained in ink, long after I've forgotten I ever felt that way or had that epiphany or underwent that experience. I know the feeling of dumping myself onto page after page after page, and then, suddenly -- it's enough. I'm done. My pen drops, I let out a breath, I scan the last sentence of my page, I give a shake to my aching wrist, massage my cramped fingers, look at the window, and bask in the feeling that my innards are now clinging to a page, rescued from the abyss of the mystery of my being and held there to paper for me to look back upon later. My head is empty in that moment. My words have run freely, and they have run out. In those moments, I feel overflowingly full, yet marvelously emptied and unburdened. It is that sweet moment of both. Both empty, and full. Reminiscent, and hopeful. Clearheaded, yet awed at the mystery. Both the excavator and the hidden treasure, at the same time.
So, because I know this feeling, I am not worried that I will have to keep tapping away at this keyboard for eternity. I know there will be a moment in which my words have run their race and my head is, for an instant, empty.
What a gift this challenge has given to me to be able to freely write until I reach that point. A mess and tangle of words usually reserved for my journal will appear for all the world to see, and that thought does not make me afraid.
This is one of the greatest gifts of being an artist, of any kind, and writing is art -- this not being afraid. Most of the world is afraid to show their vulnerabilities, and we are, too. But we cannot give in to that fear. To create art is to embrace vulnerability. it is to expose it in others, too, to bring out the worst and the best in humans.
Sometimes I am afraid I will never be able to do that -- that all of my writing falls short, and always will. That I will never write something that perfectly captures a moment, the essence of a perosn. And I am right to think my writing will fall short. I know I am. In part because I am a human, and in part because existence is to broad a thing to be captured into words, no matter how expertly spun. The thing that is wrong is for that to make me afraid. If I choose not to write because I am afraid it will not be perfect, that would be like choosing not to live because life isnt perfect, and that is unthinkable. Life is unbearably, achingly beautiful, and is the furthest thing from perfect. What if my writing, too, then, could be both? What if it could be so wonderful it makes my heart ache, and yet be flawed, at the same time?
Isnt that what it means to be alive?
I hit my sweet spot. I havent yet realized the meaning of my words, but I found the spot when my fingers wanted to stop, and my brain had no follow-up thought.
Signing off, L.
I did not have mercy.
My dad was mentally ill.
He beat my mom to a pulp. He psychologically tortured everyone he ever loved. He started hitting me, too, because I was a woman- and he thought that was just what men did. He thought that's what women deserved.
I haven't the slightest doubt that he loved me. He loved his children. He loved so hard it destroyed him. He held so tight. He couldn't let us live. He was a monster, clutching a bouquet of flowers he loved to look at, squeezing so hard that he crushed them.
When I was little, he told me stories of his childhood.
I don't think he ever imagined that I would remember.
He'd grown up in a kind of poverty one doesn't even imagine possible in the United States. He was one of six children.
He never owned a pair of shoes.
He never owned a clothing item that fit. His long limbs outgrew the length of his pants, but starvation made even the smallest sizes fall off of his boney hips.
He used to talk about sharing a bed with two younger siblings who would pee all night. His parents never helped. The children would lie in the urine all night and go to school with sores on their small bodies, smelling of piss and rot. It got so bad that the springs of their shared mattress started poking through. The sores became wounds, dug by rusty springs. If they tried to get out of bed, their mother would beat them. She made them lie in the urine all night. Every night.
Dad used to tell a story about falling into the outhouse- they didn't have indoor plumbing.
He was six years old. It was stormy out, but he snuck out of bed, trekked outside and went into the little wooden shack to use the bathroom. He hadn't wanted to soil his dry corner of the bed. The outhouse had a latch on the outside to hold the door shut in case of a wind storm. Well, he pulled the door shut and he went about his business, only to find himself locked inside. He was six. He panicked. He somehow ended up down the hole, sinking into feces. He sunk up to his neck in sewage before his feet hit solid ground. He couldn't get out of the hole, crushed under the weight around him. He stood in there all night. No one knew he was gone- or nobody cared. His older brother found him in the morning when he went in to relieve himself. He peed on dad's head... and dad screamed... and eventually, they got him out. It's a miracle he didn't die that night. It's a miracle he didn't drown in shit.
His mom beat him for going outside.
These are but two of the stories he told. These are the milder of those which I heard. And they were true. There were photos to prove it.
There is no excuse for what he became, but when I look at his upbringing, it isn't hard to imagine why he ended up that way.
When I was little, he was actually a wonderful father. He made many mistakes, but he never meant to be cruel. He doted on us. He took us on vacations. He played with us for endless hours. He took me on special dad and daughter times. He gave me nicknames and told excellent dad-jokes and braided my hair before bed. He drove hundreds of miles every week so that I could go horseback riding. He did the best he could. I know that in the core of my being. His insanity was mild then, only rearing its ugly head on rare occasions, easily dismissed as someone who perhaps needed a little therapy, but wasn't at all a bad person. But then, I got older.
I started wanting to go over to my friend's house instead. I started getting angry at the endless list of chores I was given during each visitation, while my brothers were allowed to play. I started seeing things I hadn't before. I started hearing words about women that made my stomach churn. He started to hate me, for what I was becoming: a woman. I wasn't dad's little girl anymore.
He wanted her back.
The abuse escalated. He became deranged.
My brothers were the last to admit it, but finally, one fateful afternoon, after he'd threatened to kill my older brother with true intent, given him a black eye and thrown me into the wall as I'd stepped between them, clung to his shirt, begged him not to murder my brother.... They finally admitted the truth.
We severed all ties.
His madness grew.
I would lie awake every night and wonder if this was the night he'd break in and kill my whole family. I didn't sleep for a decade.
I got a call one night, eight years after I'd last seen dad. It was my sister.
"He's really sick, Pearl..." she'd said.
I hadn't spoken to my sister in ten years. She'd clung to our father, refusing to see what he had become. She'd shunned me for leaving him alone.
"Shan, It's not my problem. I'm really sorry you're going through this. I have to take care of my family now," I'd said.
"No-wait-- Pearl--" I could hear her trying to stifle the tears on the other end of the line, "Pearly, he will die soon if you don't help."
The words had hung heavy for what seemed like a lifetime. Finally, I whispered, "I can't." She was angry.
"He can hardly walk! It's ridiculous to think he could hurt you now. Please. PLEASE. . I need your help. I live too far away and you're still in town. I just need you to feed him. He is on a special diet..." When I just stayed silent she continued, "Pearly sue. Please. I-- He's different now. He told me what he did to you kids. He told me he's sorry-- His disease...." She'd paused, giving weight to the bombshell she was about to drop, "his disease... it affects the brain. He has been being poisoned for the last ten years... by his own body." I'd started shaking then, and I'd ultimately decided that I had to help. If there was even a slight chance at redemption, I'd offer it. I knew I would hate myself if I didn't.
I went and saw him.
And he had changed. He was on medication. His blood had been cleaned. He was on biweekly dialysis to keep his system from overloading with toxins. He was reasonable. He was kind. He let me bumble about his kitchen and dutifully ate the nasty kidney diet food he needed to survive. He told me how sorry he was.
My heart was mending.
I was going to introduce him to his grandson.
He'd met my husband and told him how lucky he was to be married to me. He'd gone on and on about what a wonderful woman I was. How proud he was. How sorry he was. He was getting better.
He was going to live.
He was going to have all of the love he'd deserved as a child.
I was going to forgive it all.
He wanted to write a letter to my mother.
He wanted to tell her how sorry he was.
I had a father. His mind was clear. It wasn't toxic.
A week later he missed a dialysis appointment.
My sister was supposed to pick him up but she didn't.
The poison in his brain took root again. We got reports of him wandering around town, assaulting people. He was placed in the psychiatric ward of the hospital.
They got him back on track.
They forced him to go to dialysis.
But the damage was done. His brain was ruined.
He'd started hearing voices and they were telling him that the hospital staff were poisoning him. He begged us all to sign release forms.
He needed more time. He needed the toxins flushed from his system. He needed to get back on his medication.
My sister went in and signed his release.
He only got worse from there.
I fought with my sister. We severed ties. And I never did see my dad again.
He went back to insanity. She let him.
I stopped being updated on his condition.
I didn't know how bad it had gotten. I got a text one January morning: hey. Dad is not doing well. He's in the ICU at OHSU. Today is the day to see him.
I didn't go.
My phone rang at 3am.
"Sis. Dad died," my brother- the one who'd almost been murdered- said.
"...We knew it was coming... are you okay?"
"Yeah. I will be."
I said bye and hung up the phone. I was not okay.
And right there, 8 lines back, is where I would have re-written.
I got a text one January morning: hey. Dad is not doing well. He's in the ICU at OHSU. Today is the day to see him.
I packed up the car, put my 6-month-old in the backseat, and drove for 6 hours. We had a hard time finding parking at the giant hospital, but finally caught a shuttle and rode over to the entrance. My feet echoed down the hallway, my gait strange as I lugged along the infant car seat. I found the ICU and they escorted me to his room. He was still awake when I arrived.
He loved his grandson. I laid my son next to him and he stroked his fuzzy head.
Dad looked at me and smiled, "I love you, Pearl girl."
"I love you, Dad," I said. He closed his eyes. I sat in the uncomfortable chair and nursed my son to sleep. Then I put my baby in his car seat and held dad's hand. I prayed over him. I forgave him. I asked God to let him come to heaven anyway. He squeezed my hand one last time before his soul left. I said goodbye and I took my baby and I cried, but I wasn't broken anymore.
There was peace.
But that isn't what happened.
Dad died alone.
No one was in the room.
The nurses kept going in and comforting, because....he was aware until the very last... and he cried for his children. He cried for me.
And then they left his side.
And he died alone.
With no one to hold his hand.
I hate the part of me that let that happen.
I didn't just rob him of a good death.
I robbed myself of healing.
I took my suffering and I spread it around.
Just like he'd always done.
I did not have mercy.
And that is my greatest regret.
My dad is trying to reach out to me. He contacted my aunt a few days ago over a Facebook message request. She still sounded shaken up hours later when she called me to tell me. I knew from her voicemail that something was wrong but still she tried to pretend that everything was ok by making small talk about what courses I'm taking this semester. I think that I've been afraid since her first missed call, I was certain that she was calling to tell me that my sick family member had died.
I took the news rather apathetically, as I've learned to be as far as my father is concerned. If I don't care, he can't hurt me. That's how I got over the grief of him leaving the first time. Granted, it took me years to accept it, but I was a child then, still learning the survival strategies that I'd need to get cut my way out of the webs of manipulation.
I never was a fan of spiders. Any bugs, really. I live on my own now, with no younger brother to come kill them for me. Last year there was a huge one in my living room, and that fucker was fast too. I managed to trap it under a glass, but couldn't work up the courage to lift the cup and kill it. I suppose it's a little bit cruel, or maybe just cowardly, but I left it there for weeks. I'd check on it sometimes, hoping that it had died already and I could stop walking around this cup every day. But he was persistent, clinging to life even after I'd trapped him in with what must have been such a confusing and odd barrier for him. Eventually a friend of mine came over, and offered to kill it for me. She lifted the glass and finally put the poor thing out of its misery with a bunched up Kleenex.
According to the screenshot of the Facebook message that my aunt sent to me, my dad is still blaming my mom for "keeping the kids from him." I don't remember much about him, but I do remember that he was never able to admit fault for anything. There's a lot of things that my memory is blocking from me, and I can't ask any of my family for help filling in the blanks. But, I remember how I felt. I know that I was scared to walk to school in my new town, and a part of me still panics every time a car slows down next to me. I know that he lied to me. I know that I felt betrayed by him. I know that he hurt me.
My heart still aches for the younger version of myself who was so confused, and couldn't figure out why their own father couldn't love them. Didn't know why he didn't care enough to figure something out.
I want to forgive him, but I don't even know what he did. I want to have a relationship with him, so then maybe my eyes won't tear up in the grocery store when I hear a father tell his little girl "I love you." He missed so many of my milestones, so many of my accomplishments, and now he wants back in my life? Now that I'm an adult and can sneak around behind my mom's back?
The worst part is, I know that I'm going to do it. I'm still not entirely sure on how I can do it safely, or how I'm going to protect my own mental health. Maybe I'm just setting myself up to hurt again, but I want to try.
Maybe if I care less, it wouldn't hurt so much.
Maybe this time will be different.