Turning Corners …and Tossing Blanket Excuses

Street Art, say hello to my little Haiku…

Chortles for healing Chortles for healing
Yes, another truth cliché’
Eyes wide open; cured

Chasing fiends togetherPain’s scales fully cleared
Nothing’s like smiling with you
Cleansing fiends away

createdbyrcwNice doggy...good doggy.JPGProffered disclaimer
“Stimuli response creature”
His faults “in stasis”

Ah, ha ha, behold
How sweet to laughably view…
Saps teach ogres wordsSaps and Ogres

createdbyrcwBefore the morning coffee finally kicks in.JPGSadly, pulled below
Into sulphurous kisses
Temporary bath

createdbyrcwLady of the LakeFool’s paradises
Repelled for solid grounding
Upscaled to real life

createdbyrcwGlorious colours on a dank day2.jpgElevated me
New knowledge; true tenderness
Freedom completed

An exercise in summer re-discovery. A former summer’s draft of haikus met up with a friend’s last summer street art photography. Great fun matching up those thoughts to these illustrations of chance.

Outside of that, I’m guessing at this point in the year, many of us are in a need of some seasonal change. I’m definitely hungry for more sunny experiences in sunny destinations.  I’ll bet you are too. Let’s get at ‘er, mon anges et amies!

RL

All photos – various Toronto, ON street/graffiti art and graciously leant to me by photographer and writer, Randall Willis, of  CreatedByRCW and So, What’s Your Story

A Man’s Perspective On Abuse by Ned Hickson – “Real Men Have Mastered Control of Themselves, Not Others”

I often say my one true purpose in this lifetime, and my main desired goal, is to raise one good man.  I’m not sure my son feels my purpose is as much heavenly ordained as making him my beast of burden.  I kid of course, but I’m sure he would say I have not made his growing up years a piece of cake either.

Outside of that, I am confident that he does feel seen, heard, and that he matters.  It’s these points that I’m hopeful he’ll gently pass on to the next generation(s) in our family – that would be the cake icing.

When I come across positive qualities in a man, I love to point those out to my boy.  One man who remains constant in those examples is one of my favorite writing pals, popular syndicated humorist & author, Ned Hickson. I’ve re-blogged a couple of his humor columns before, but this one really resonated with me in another way.

It spoke to me because we share the desire to overcome similar childhood experience. As he commented to me in typical Ned style, “As you know, we are kindred spirits in a way. Not just because we both have good hair and occasionally wear glasses, but also through our past experiences with abuse.”

It’s in that vein that Ned tackled the topic of abuse from a man’s point of view.

This post was originally published on Ned’s website and was featured on the Good Men Project, April 9th. I can’t recommend enough reading Ned for consistent quality in humorous perspectives and for his occasional, very eloquent approaches to some tough subjects.  I give you Ned…


Control Box - Ned Hickson

Anyone who reads my weekly newspaper column or blog posts knows I try to keep life in perspective through humor. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the reasons my children are still alive today. While I joke about that, for many years humor was also part of a coping mechanism from a childhood witnessing both verbal and physical abuse by the men in my family—specifically, my father and older brothers.

The good news is that each of them eventually turned themselves, their lives, and the lives of the people they loved, around. It wasn’t until I became a father that I realized the impact that a childhood witnessing abuse had on me, and how some of those wounds—as both a witness and recipient—had never truly healed. I know this because I occasionally saw reflections of my father and brothers in myself as I fought to avoid making the same mistakes with my own children; I also know this because I came to realize that as much as we want to tell ourselves we can choose not to take any baggage with us on our journey through life, ultimately it’s always somewhere waiting to be claimed.

There is no getting rid of it completely, only a conscious decision to leave it circling on the carousel.

Because I am a father with teenage boys and girls, I stay hip to the way they communicate.

Wow. Did you just feel that? It was their eyes rolling.

Actually, I’m not “hip” as much as I am privy to how they talk to each other. While social media has opened the doors to communication in some ways, it has swung too far in others. Verbal abuse still takes place; it just happens in hushed Tweets and SnapChats instead. The result is the development of a disposable sense of emotions—a disconnect from face-to-face that has been replaced by Facebook-to-Facebook.

As a result, spotting the signs of abuse has become tougher while becoming an abuser is easier. Thanks to social media, those opportunities are literally at our fingertips. For those with a hair-trigger temper, every Tweet, text or post sent in anger pre-conditions abusive behavior and makes it harder to recognize in ourselves.

It becomes a conditioned response in a cycle that gets harder and harder to break.

For young men, their teens and early 20s are a time when they are defining themselves and establishing their place in a male-dominated world while, at the same time, trying to understand the intricacies of communicating with the opposite sex. How do I know this? Because, statistically speaking, I was a young man once. Trying to appear tough among your peers while still holding on to the part of you that is thoughtful and caring feels contradictory to what we’re taught about being a man.

We see it in movies and advertising; we hear it in music:

Being a man means being in control. In charge. In command.

Of life and our relationships.

It’s a social stereotype perpetuated mostly through media and advertising. Why? Because it sells. Body wash. Albums. Movie tickets. Clothes. Video games.

It’s baggage our culture has been carrying for generations.

Being a real man does mean being in control. But not of others. It means being in control of yourself enough to understand, acknowledge and accept your strengths and weaknesses. It also means never using your strength—physically or verbally—to overpower others. Particularly the women in your life, whether it be your wife, girlfriend, mother or daughter.

A real man provides protection, safety, and acceptance; a weak man dishes out pain, insecurity, and denial. In either case, they are reflections of your inner self.

The question is: What kind of reflection do you want to see when you look in the mirror each day?

There’s no denying sexism and a male-dominance mentality are still deeply woven into the fabric of our society. And while we have made strides in some areas by recognizing and discussing matters of physical and verbal abuse, that baggage is still out there circling on the carousel.

As men, we must make a conscious decision each day to avoid claiming it.

-Ned Hickson
Ned

Ned is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist and editor for Siuslaw News.  His weekly column appears in dozens of newspapers in the U.S. and Canada as a syndicated feature for News Media Corporation.  He is the author of “Humor At The Speed of Life”. Look for his latest upcoming book called, “Pearls of Writing Wisdom: (From 16 years as a shucking columnist)” through Port Hole Publishing.

 

 

Ordinary pearls

Nedism Wisdom  (Thanks, Ned)

Half-Breed to Metis – My Return from a ‘Savage’ Wilderness; PART 2

 Click here to read part one – How I acquired the title of dirty Indian…

Aside from having to dream up a name to match any exotic ancestry I could claim, my real family history was more colourful than that anyway. We were the stereotypes of typical Indigenous life. Those lives scorned without understanding of the history behind the creation of those stereotypes.

It was a life loaded with issues around unsteady work, alcohol abuse, abuses under every heading, police visits, child apprehension, foster homes and a single mother on welfare. We moved a lot – always new towns, new friends, new crosses to bear.

So, by the time I could think a little for myself, I couldn’t wait to move on.  At nearly 16 yrs. I did move – onto a grown-up job and night school to get a better job, all in the name of getting as far away as possible from my childhood hurts.

Several years later my life had taken shape in a measure of success and definitely I thought I’d finally escaped being a poor and dirty little Indian. It seemed like I’d escaped the legacy of that drama. As it turned out, despite education and job titles, that wasn’t exactly the case. The various abuses never really ended regardless of the dressing I put up around them. I became even more desperate for a sense of value, meaning and peace. 

It was a bit incredible and maybe even miraculous from where the answers to my prayerful pleading would begin – searching the internet for a history project.

While I was doing that search, I stumbled across some family tidbits in the history records. It was astounding to me to see names I knew connected to others I’d never known about. Inexplicably I began to hear the call of my grandmothers in them and I quickly became obsessed with genealogy. Something was being filled in me that I’d been completely unconscious about missing.  I found the past. I continued in my search for years, able to trace my family back to the 1700s.

The uncovered voices of my ancestors undid the pain of my childhood humiliations.  Unlike the shame-based history the old input and my fearful imagination had originally filled in for me, I learned that we came from fiercely able, independent, inspiring Peoples.  I learned, in addition to Cree and Metis, my people were also Mohawk, among other nations.

I learned my ancestors were skillful and adept providers who worked the land, and they were warriors – from the war of 1812, to the Louis Riel uprising, to World War 2 and the Korean War.   They were explorers and guides for famous European explorers; they were leaders and treaty signors.

They were exactly what one might dream their forbearers are.  It was breathtaking discovery for me, but I later realized that, as wonderful as it was to feel the pride of their accomplishments, they didn’t need to be all that for me to feel found.

It would have been just as healing simply to find where I came from; to learn who my people were as a people, not as the butt of the jokes so common then on the western prairies.  Not as the people we learned about in school who were so low that even as kids, when we played cowboys and Indians, none of us wanted to be the Indians.

Fast forward some decades to when my son and I were going to a western-themed party.  We got all geared up in our cowboy boots and hats, jeans and checked shirts.  When we got home, my son was a little miffed.  His history lessons have been quite different from mine. He wanted to know why we hadn’t instead dressed up as Indigenous.  It was a good question, but I couldn’t find a good answer.

Although I’d identified as my Metis and First Nations ancestry for several years by then, I began to feel I was falling too short on the allegiance that my grandmothers deserved. Especially with the amount of public misinformation about the Indigenous still the norm in general.

However, despite the longing, I still had one foot out the door, just in case.  Old fears take a very long time to heal, if they ever do.  When I finally decided to stand up and be counted, I applied for a Metis citizenship card.

I’d like to set the record straight about how one goes about claiming that card.  Many comments in those newspaper and social media arenas revolve around thoughts like “well, pretty much everyone in Canada can claim some kind of Indigenous status now”.  No, they can’t.  You can’t just make a call and say, “Hello Government, I’m part-native, send me a card, thanks, and can I get free gas now like that Beiber kid”?

The application process took several months.  Actually, it took years counting the time it took to accumulate the various required records. I had to provide a genealogical history of 5 immediate generations of Indigenous ancestry with proof that included birth, baptismal, and marriage certificates.  It included scrip records, Hudson Bay Company work records, and other various historical records.  At a minimum, I had to link my direct ancestors to records known in western Canada at approximately 1860. Then all of this had to be verified by the society historians.

So that’s what I did, and now when I look into my mother’s eyes, I proudly see my history for thousands of years.  When my son looks in mine, he will see his own.  I turned away from that all those years ago when I thought I was meant to disown my heritage.

We talk a lot about how much the entire continent needs the true education on its own history, and that is absolute fact, but that’s just as true for many, if not most, of the Indigenous too.  We had our history taken from us long before we were even born and we know how terribly that changed us.

I can only feel sadness for that walk in the wilderness now, mine and all my relations of the last 5 generations who actually had our culture taken and even made illegal.  I know it doesn’t do any good to wonder about things that might have been, but sometimes I do.  I still have far too much to learn about them, and our ways.

On the day I received my official stamped Metis card, I stared at it and cried.  It was real, it was done, I’d stood up.  I really didn’t know then or even now, what difference in my life this official recognition will make.  I only know how I feel in those old wounded places in my heart.  I feel my grandmothers surrounding me now.   My grandmothers called for PiPiSiw and I’ve come home.

Grandmothers

Miyo-W_hk_htowin
(All My Relations)

RL

I want to add a little thank you so, so much to the people who have emailed me to tell me how glad they are for any of us able to speak out. You are a huge part of what makes these efforts meaningful. You are the people who allow my heart to feel full and worthwhile.
Hiy hiy….

With great gratitude to Dick Garneau, whose years of work compiling centuries of First Nations & Metis journal entries led me to more family discoveries than I ever dreamed I’d find. Hiy hiy, Dick. Thank you for your amazing work and generosity. May many others be as blessed as my family was with his work.  http://metis-history.info

21 things you may not know about the Indian Act – The Indian Act has been in place for 140 years:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/21-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-indian-act-1.3533613

Artwork credit, with permission: Grandmother’s Prayers:
Simone Mcleod, http://www.fisherstarcreations.com/simonemcleod-acrylics Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anishinaabepaintersimonemcleod/info/?tab=page_info

Half-Breed to Metis – My Return from a ‘Savage’ Wilderness; PART 1

(Originally partially posted in 2013 and revised 2016)

My name is Pipisiw.  That’s what my grandmother called me. I’ve loved her, all my life, even though she died when I was three yrs. old.  I sometimes imagine I can remember hearing her call out to me… “Pi-piiii-siww”.

Now it makes me smile, but after she died, when I grew a little older, I came to hate that name.  I hated when my mother or uncles would call me by it. It came to represent all that was shameful to me about myself.

metis-bear blue-edged2That shame was really about my childhood and it was deep and even unconscious. I blamed most of it on the fact that I had been born of “Indian” ancestry.

Whether or not being Indigenous actually was the overall reason for the issues didn’t really matter because it was what was driven home to me as a child. Whatever bad that happened, was mostly because of that, regardless of where we were.

Neighbours, strangers and even friends reinforced that belief by at times calling me racist names or treating me with a certain disdain reserved for those considered lesser. I overheard countless comments on the general uselessness of Indians.

As an adult, it was astounding to hear occasional comments in my business world that continued those views. I’d thought the more educated could be held to a higher standard of decency in general.

Although communications was always a major role in my jobs, and most definitely, a full-on accusation as a child, I never spoke up when anyone said anything like that.  Along with the shame I carried was a belief that, for the most part, those comments were true. I’d come to believe we were lesser and despite innate defensiveness, my heart still carried it.

It took decades and a long look back for me to heal enough from those wounds to feel like I could truly stand up in recognition of my history and my own people.  I made that recognition statement by applying for Metis status.  I didn’t have a home band to call my own for the Cree/Nehiyaw side of our family, but I did I qualify for our Metis recognition.

My decision to apply was partly spurred by much of what I’d read in the papers and on social media over the last decade on how Indigenous issues are somehow an old idea and we should all be over it by now.  I’d hear a voice in the back of my head saying, that’s complete bullshit; no one tells anyone to get over the Jewish holocaust, what about ours? And why then, does this continent still have government departments to oversee the ‘Indians’? Then that voice asked, so where’s your voice in this?

There was a burning anger building in me and it fueled me to face my fears and delve into my past to answer that question. When I did, I still got butterflies that a broad, official declaration, ‘I am Cree, I am Metis’, would somehow affect me negatively.  In the end, the sense of injustice overwhelmed the fear; if anyone were to come for me and my boy, I’d rather go with that than live in shame any more.  Mostly though, I was able to stand up with pride by finally learning I did not come from some shame-filled abyss. None of us did.

It’s true that there are many issues that need attending to in Indigenous communities, the road of healing from the consequences of long-term colonialist oppression is still too long. Part of that healing needs far more awareness by most North Americans that those same oppressive systems are still in place today.

On the personal side of it, I really wonder if any community can truly fully grow if its foundation is unintentionally made flimsy by too many of us that feel like I did, sub-par and lost in a kind of black hole.

It took that long trek into the past to climb out of that hole.  I had no idea that walk would be over three centuries long and the first steps began with some of my earliest memories of being an “indian” child.

Those earliest recollections of being told what I was, not by family, but other people who were around us was normal and many of those lessons were taught in school. In class, among the typical stories and songs we all regularly sang were things like, “One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians”, (apparently still popular with the uninformed). Right up there with Three Blind Mice. Hard to imagine that changed to 10 little Irish or Jewish boys.

At around Grade 5, at 10 yrs old, I remember being more conscious of learning about how those Indians who kept getting in the way of the settlers were really quite awful. It was that year that my relationship to those awful Indians was cemented after an incident with a non-Indigenous friend.  It’s here where I really started my journey back to the beginning…

“Get out of here, you filthy little Indian”!  The echo of those words screeched at me when I was 10 yrs. old never left the recesses of my heart. I was chased out of the home of my best friend by her mother, who accused me of doing something to dirty her home. I don’t remember the exact details of the crime, but I remember being very confused; I remember being made to feel dirty and small.

I ran from her and with each step my humiliation and devastation deepened.  Her words continued to boom loudly behind me as I raced up the street.  She made sure that everyone knew what I really was. She very nearly made sure I’d know what I was for the rest of my life.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been called some pejorative statement about my ancestry.   I heard them before I even began school: half-breed, squaw, redskin, savage…  The incidences lessened around 11 or 12 yrs. of age.  By then we’d learned to call each other squaw and savages anyway.

The name calling decreased more when I was about 15 yrs. old.  I’m guessing it was because it was becoming more largely politically incorrect in the late 1970’s. It wasn’t a daily or even weekly event anymore, but I wouldn’t be completely free of it at any time in my life, so far.

As I aged people would often ask me what I was and in return I would ask, what do you think?  They would give me all kinds of guesses, usually something Mediterranean, sometimes Eastern European, or even Eurasian when I moved to the coast.  I would always tell them, yes, that is correct – good guess!

One time someone asked me if I was Greek.  Of course, I said.  Well, what’s your name then?  Oh great, I had to come up with a Greek name.  I just barely found out what tzatziki was!  My panicking wit managed to squeeze out, “Athena” – that goddess of love kind of thing.   “Athena what”?  Oh, good grief!   “Acropolis, I am Athena Acropolis”!

I’m pretty sure it was then that he knew I was lying, but I just kept eating my tzatziki and pita as though it had been the first solid food fed to me as a baby by my definitely Greek parents…

Click here to read Part 2 – …What a search through history solved and  finally gave me… and it didn’t include a Greek anything…

RL

With great gratitude to Dick Garneau, whose years of work compiling centuries of First Nations & Metis journal entries led me to more family discoveries than I ever dreamed I’d find. Hiy hiy, Dick. Thank you for your amazing work and generosity. May many others be as blessed as my family was with his work.  http://metis-history.info

A short note just to add some context to how the Stereotypes began:
21 things you may not know about the Indian Act – The Indian Act has been in place for 140 years:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/21-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-indian-act-1.3533613
Artwork credit: Bear/Woman portion- Bear: Clan Mother, 2012  Jordan Thompson, mohawk-art-design.com;  Metis addition – Robyn Lawson

19 Women and A Guy Had a Chat In 27 Sentences and 50 Shades of Black & White…

19-suckers-44

A couple of years ago I wrote about a voracious online predator who tracked vulnerable blogging women and the aftermath of his being found out.  I cautioned then about the need to use extra care when interacting with people we really do not know.

A group I encountered recently schooled me in how easy it can be for people of any openness to be used by someone online.  It doesn’t matter how street-savvy or educated one is, if someone is trawling for someone to fill whatever needs, they will find a way to the heart of your matters.

They will find the route to your trust. They work only to find the one(s) who will say yes to their invitations in trust that will further win your heart and other supplemental prizes like boob pics or even Skype sex. Not every friend of this friend went so far, but the fact of the matter is, betrayal on any level, as these women experienced is bitterly painful.

The methods and motives of these people vary, but I believe the one for the man I write about here, while a person of many sides & talents, is a social predator and unable to build a real life of any meaning.

They couldn’t have found a more sincere and kind supporter.  Why would they think otherwise?  His words were so soft, so deeply kind, and so well designed to flatter and draw in comradery as quickly as possible.

He spoke to their vulnerabilities and oh, how vulnerabilities long for understanding and care. Without a doubt, you’ll never find a more tender and understanding soul.

They’d all heard them…those loving words of admiration he’d wrapped their hearts in; verbal ribbons of plush velvet, colored with 50 light hues of shady.  27 interchangeable lines for each woman of the hour:

I am in love with your mind.
I  love your heart.
Love yer shit! You’re brilliant!
I just fell in love with you.
You really are a talented funny intelligent inspirational bugga, arentcha!
Oooh, you’ve got them legs eyes smiles.
Do you have an email address?
Do you Skype?
Would you like to chat privately sometime?

Of course, he told them it was just to share ideas and thoughts about life in general… not anything inappropriate… after all, he is a married man.

Still, it won’t be long before he initiates chat about the sad state of affairs in his relationship(s), and then soon after he will seek commiseration along with their sympathy and most certainly, will want details of any distress within their own worlds. He’d say, as a former counselor, he’d be happy to work through that with you.

If I could do anything, I’d be there.
I’d do anything to save you.
*wipes away a tear*
Six feet whatever & 2 hundred blah pounds of protective love & hugs comin’ to you.
What’s his name?  Send me his address, I’ll have a word with him for you.
You deserve so much more…
You’re so strong, I so admire that …
You seem to know me so well…You’re the only one who really gets me.
You’re a hottie! Spunk rat!

Oh, how he does seek and then loves the protective sympathy that he so easily sweet-talks out of his followers. He only has to mirror it back and the game is sealed for this made-to-order knight.

You are a ‘chooser of the slain’,  the long awaited savior of we depleted warriors,
(Specific to those with surgical scarring)
You are beautiful…an artist,  a muse…
You are so wise & sweet…I love that.
You’re not a blogger! You are a writer!
I love you, < insert 19 or more women’s names >

I miss you, < insert 19 or more women’s names >
You’re such a special lady – legend!
You ‘have to’ come visit me; we’ll show you the time of your life, & I’ll even pay for your ticket.

Say yes to all that or similar and you’re in for an absolute full-time, hours per day, obsession –  unless you question him. Then that charm blows up at nuke level and you’re yesterday’s news before it’s even printed.

Interestingly, no man received the same level of support or invitations.  No variation of those statements was made to any male writer he followed.  Just a lot of, “Hey man, good stuff”.

I suppose one mind can come up with only so many lines for the same sorts of honeyed support, hence the repetition. That’s the least these women could concede, when they learned how, out in the real world, they weren’t so special after all.

Oh sure, he could say in his defense, which he did, that it was their own replies that gave him permission to carry on to where they went. That he did mean those things, just to different degrees.  Of course, one has to wonder who got which degree, and they did.

Well, he had to play it safe. It’s a delicate balancing act isn’t it?  Even if his hands were currently full with one or more, he’d still have to endeavor to hold onto the others at a safe distance. Just in case any of those in hand should drop off.

The feminine power he relies on to exist isn’t much different from how a car needs petrol to run, so a re-filling station is necessity. Note that he didn’t approve of his closest also having their own male variety servicing centres. Wonder what that was about?

Of the known 19, only a small few will stick around, insistent that they can heal his twisted heart because their own hearts are just that much deeper than the others.  They really are the real saviors of this poor, beleaguered, wannabe Norse seafarer.

After all… he said so.

True story.

RL

Shortly after this story was published, a group confronted this man and wanted to share his replies, which were decidedly less heroic than what he normally hailed to the public. More in line with the type of men he’d claimed to want to protect them from.  I chose not to publish the copies.
30 RED Flags of Manipulative People
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/03/the-secret-language-of-narcissists-how-abusers-manipulate-their-victims/
——————————————-
For the average personality, here’s a great guide to supplement your gut checks on whether or not your online convos are appropriate:  When Does Flirting Become Cheating? 9 Red Flags

That Time I Saved Me From Him

RED sky

Sometimes life has you re-visit the worst experiences of your existence. Maybe there’s something in them that needs refining or a new understanding. A friend’s post about a near-miss with a likely abuser found me in commiseration of that place, a truly surreal, soul-sucking misery.

I’ve been aware of all forms of abuse since growing up in a home built on them. Unfortunately, as an adult, I re-lived them in a couple of relationships.  Even if you’re lucky enough to apply what you learned from those experiences, you can never really be certain that you won’t meet up with an even greater insidious player at any time in your life.

My last encounter came up against a well-practised talent for speaking to the heart of one’s fears, desires, and beliefs – a red-hot champion of all those things. In hindsight, despite his delight and proficiency in the game, I do believe he truly wanted to be those things for me then.  I think he truly wanted an ‘honest us’, at least for a little while.

I think he wanted that not only because I came to him unexpectedly and from out of left field, but because I came from a place of the real deal, a genuinely open heart. I’d not shared in any of the usual repartee he indulged in where he normally scouted.

The world he had built for himself before meeting me was a cadre of women who were at various levels of need and were also quite willing to rationalize betrayals or were so lonely that any word of kindness was seized with the same frantic grasp for water in a parched desert.

However, by his standards they weren’t ‘true heart material’. One of the kinder things he said about them and given the history he detailed, I agreed readily and then some. It’s a numbers game for him, more than quality.

Still, regardless of how much he may have wanted it, it’s hard to maintain a wishful façade for any length of time and his began to crack within months. An ingrained habit of lying is impossible to hide from someone close over time. His resentment at being found out was too difficult to check indefinitely and so when it surfaced, it was cruel and of course, my fault. Our last month together was a stunning whirlwind of shock – from exceedingly gentle charm to baffling nightmare.

He wasn’t physically violent, but he became utterly ruthless in emotional and mental turmoil that included brutal name calling, ridiculing those same fears, desires and beliefs that he’d originally treasured, and complete dismissal of my every thought.

Because there wasn’t anything physical, it permitted him to wallow in complete denial of abuses. He said his lies, broken promises & lurid pursuits were cause for merely, “some hurt feelings”.  To his mind, my angry responses were the real crime. He was the one really suffering in this and I was just so “wrong” about him, except for the fact every wrong was in plain and copyable typeset. He was thorough with his online chronicles.

I know this is about an ugly sickness as is, but there was more to come. Even as I strove to get away, concerned friends asked me to try to persuade him to seek help.  I did try, because even when you should run like hell, when someone says help, most of us will try, especially for someone you’ve loved.

He only responded with more derision, blaming me for other distresses in his life that I had no part in: his financial situation, an illness, an apparent lack of concern for threats to his life. He continued by furiously and jealously insisting every man I had contact with only wanted to sleep with me, including professional counselors. Nearly every talk ended with him calling me vile names.

More vengeance included OK-ing one of his deceptive divas to taunt me, then he descended further, claiming my dead father was responsible for trying to kill him.

By this point, I knew I should’ve stayed gone the first time.  On the other hand, I did act when I began to see the truth.  I did pull away and stood up for myself without the self-doubt & castigation I would have once indulged to justify attempts to ‘save him’.  This time I put me first.

Sometimes, the only way you can save yourself is to expose the rot and that was his only true Achilles heel. I swallowed my humiliation & spoke out – including to his cadre, and that was the one legitimate & unforgivable sin in his mind.  That was when he declared himself, brokenhearted. “Strange kind of love you’ve got”, he said.

Cowardice hides its image in the dark; it needs to ooze its poison undercover. When this insanity was revealed, it opened the door to light, back to sane.  I was freed, and he took nothing from me that I can’t get back.

He gutted me and broke my heart, but he didn’t close it. He may have discarded any value for me, but that love was real to me and it didn’t die the minute our life went off the rails. I will always hope that someday he’ll be helped toward the man I believed I was with. Maybe someday, all the stories he tells about himself will  actually be true.

Mostly I wonder, if it will ever occur to him or them, that the only way to really protect your image is simply by living the way you want to be seen.

RL

If you need a place to read or talk about these issues in warm environments, try these lovely spaces: Deliberate Donkey or Better Not Broken

Someone to Watch Over Me…

It wasn’t a typical love story then and I suppose it’s not so much now either, at least not the kind we think about in this season of Valentine wishes and dreams.

broken flower 3jpgYou have to be this young to believe that you are this much in charge of life; that destiny has already been completely met.  To know that the only education you need to make your dreams come true is your own thoughts and a chat with your friends –  to be so heartbreakingly unaware of the precariousness  that will haunt even the babies to come.

She was a naive, pretty, eighteen year old small town girl who had no idea that so many of her dreams were going to turn into a lifetime of regrets.  She picked out her dream man, 20 years old, so very handsome and tall, and who held out to her a bouquet of the loveliest promises.

Not long after meeting, she became pregnant and it probably wasn’t much longer after that, that the first flower from that fragile bouquet fell.   The images her thoughts weaved for her future were simple, but meant everything – little home wrapped in the white picket fence of love, and lovely family dinners, family picnics and parties, and Christmas trees loaded with gifts.

She had intended so many occasions of wonderful for herself, and for me.  We were supposed to be that family that she envied in the movies, the love stories that she placed herself into in her favorite books, and in those images in Norman Rockwell paintings that confirmed how life was supposed to be. Sweet dreams sweet intentions.

They were slapped away brutally.  Literally.  He wasn’t ready for that dream.  Not at that time, not completely, maybe never.   He was more drawn to the calls of a wild party.  He had many more bottles to hoist up, and while he ‘owned’ her, he was nowhere near finished with his explorations of women.   Her resistance to ‘his way’ led to her learning that promises were only his dreams in the moment and they were nowhere near as real as those first black eyes.

I don’t know when I first heard or saw him hit her; I can remember that only from about age four.  I know that when it happened, I became very still as my heartbeat filled my ears.  I must have learned by then to make myself invisible.  The only way she could make herself invisible was to run away.   Some might say she didn’t learn how to do that right soon enough.

She did leave, many times, but somehow he would find her.  Us.  Sometimes her friends would tell him where we were; sometimes even her own brothers would sell her out during drunken party conversation or under threat.  Sometimes the loneliness and fear conquered her and she would call him herself.  She finally left for good when I was thirteen.

She didn’t leave her dreams though.  Not all of them anyway.  She still thought she could find that one good man. That’s how life was supposed to be.  Wasn’t that ever reinforced on every song on the radio, TV shows and magazine headlines?  So that’s what she pursued, even while the rest of her life was floating in a jumbled mess around her.

She had her share of boyfriends for some years, but no one could last for long.   They either owned their share of chaos and/or they couldn’t bear to deal with hers.  It would take years for the stars to align for her.  Maybe it was all the prayers she cried through to be delivered from that loneliness and to fill the need for someone to watch over her, because he came for her, finally.

It was not the typical script for a ‘let me rescue you’ love story.  He was just as messed up as she was, but somehow, eventually, this one wanted to get it together, with her, at the same time that she had reached her breaking point.

Somehow, armed only with whatever bit of guidance that was to come their way, they pushed through all the debris of their lives and rebuilt everything.  They did as best as they could, which turned out to be very well.  Their turned-around lives are far richer, and have lasted three times longer, so far, than their early trek over those fiery, alcohol-fueled coals.

Now she prays, hard and often, that her lessons of recovery from hell have been seen by her children, and their children, who learned all too well the modeled example of her youth.

Dreams do come true, but not from behind the wall of recriminations, isolated introspection, and avoidance.  The answers could be easy, but it’s still  work to carve out the road to them.  This can’t be any harder than it is to stay in pretension that all is well, to stay in hell.

I will pray that her prayers are answered for her. Again.

RL