Dejah, The Warrior

This is a re-post for my dear friend, Glo, in tribute to the amazing life and soul of her baby, and their loved ones. It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years. Already. I can’t say exactly how it feels for Gloria, Robert & Rayne, but I would like them to know we remember with them. We share in their heartrending memories and in support of their amazing capacity to move forward in strength, purpose and love for each other and for life. They couldn’t live a better legacy for their son and brother… 

I hardly know this young boy who impacted my life and so many others so profoundly. What kid is all that interested in their mother’s friends anyway? And so, I came to know him mostly through her, our Glo.

She is that quintessential statement of strength and courage, which can almost sound like a cliché, but it isn’t when it’s applied to a parent facing one of our worst fears.  Which is what happened to her and she, true to character, faced that nightmare fully and head-on.

He was only three years old when they were told he had cancer.  It was horribly bad news.  Most kids who get this kind of cancer have a pretty good outlook, but for some the challenge will push  to the limit.  This was to be the case for him.

I can’t imagine having to look at my baby’s sweet innocent face, and into his trusting eyes, knowing what they knew was to come for their son, and try to prepare for that.  How unbearable could it have felt to know the awful truth of what was in store in some ways, and not have any idea or certainty about anything else?

The only thing that turned out to be absolutely certain is that this kid had something else too – a hell of a fighting spirit. Those innocent eyes masked a strength that could rival a grown man’s, and that was good because he used it fully. It was what carried him beyond the lines of expectation.

As it turned out, his backup arsenal was also beyond outstanding.  His shield of steel was the love and faith of his mother, and his dad and sister were the center of his phalanx.

Phalanx is a perfect word for his story.  I’d stumbled around for a while looking for a way to describe all the people who joined the power of this boy’s circle. My son said, “That sounds like you’re talking about a phalanx, mom”.  I asked what that was exactly. After he explained, I thought yes, that’s exactly what they are.

A phalanx is defined as a compact or close-knit body of people, a formation of infantry carrying overlapping shields and long spears.  Perfect.  That’s what they were – overlapping shields of love and spears of hope. The rest of that foundation was formidably filled out by all the family and friends who rallied around them.

No matter their role as those weapons of love and hope, every one of them, including the calvary of determined medical personnel was there in common spirit.  All were there to throw everything they could at that God-damned tumour.

They did it well for ten amazing years.  It wasn’t a smooth trip for sure, but they fought those ups and downs with purpose. He and his family were also determined to instill something meaningful into what would seem to be a senseless, painful ordeal.

He moved to the center of an organized effort to finally stop cancer in children.  He and his family charged alongside an organization called Kick For A Cure, whose role is to fund the research that will finally “kick cancer where it hurts”.

Part of the fight for a full life was trying to be just a boy who could play and learn like everyone else. Why should any child have to fight to be just a 5 year old or an 8 year old? The balancing act to just be and to be a helper in the bigger picture becomes another unexpected fact of life, a new normal.

The day came when balance was made impossible, and it became an effort to just hold on – to a few more hours spent wrapped in the bond of fighters who’ve survived together for so long.  To a few more minutes of saying I love you, and for that one more heartbreaking second to look into each other’s eyes.

When children get so sick, when they die, we are all devastated.  We cry and feel deeply because for those moments, born to us or not, they all become our babies.

Maybe we ask God or the Universe, why or how?  Maybe one day we’ll have all the answers, but for now, at this moment, I need to believe that the Universe said these things to him:

Thank you, Dejah.

Thank you for enduring the pain of the fight for so long.

Thank you doing for so much work in such a short period of time to inform and teach about childhood cancer.

Thank you for all that you’ve given and taught to your mom, dad, and sister.

Thank you for all that you’ve given and shown to your family and friends.

Thank you for the sacrifice you gave to medicine that will one day make this illness less devastating for another child.

Thank you for the way you brought your community together over and over again, and got them all thinking about love, and for reminding them that, it is the only true purpose.

Your work is done Dejah, and it was done in superhero excellence.

You’re finally pain free; dance wildly in joy.  You’ve earned it, kid.

You will always, always, be a kick ass hero.

Dejah Milne
February 4, 2000 – October 5, 2013

dejah

Photo by Cher Milne Gennaro‎, Memories with Dejah

 

RL

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The story of how Dejah affected his community and the people around the world was captured during his beautiful service tribute and in how his story was shared around the globe.

 

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/
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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

That’d be right, Babe

Gili Copy

He was a little less oblivious than she believed.  He’d feel it now, without seeing anymore, how her expression would change from the melancholic stare out at the water while she washed dishes or while they were out on the sand and she casually sifted it through her fingers to pick out shells or sea glass for photo projects or perhaps something poetic. Yes, he knew she was already gone across oceans.

He’d known for some time, watching as she drifted into her dreamscapes within the screen, feeling the sweet release of understanding from him – the other hims.

He knew all about her yearning explorations, racing off from the edge of her keyboard to faraway places of sand-groping windstorms.  He knew that she whispered with them all about his limitations, searching for commiseration and to be desired at the same time.  Daring and challenging any of them to be her answer.  She loves him, but…

Yes, Davis knew all about her whole other world and he knew it would only be a matter of time before he told her he knew. It was only a matter of time.  He loved her, but…

RL

The Daily Post Prompt Challenge to write about the experience of being outside, looking in – short story form.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/the-outsiders/

 

Songs of Small Town Mothers and Daughters

Once in a while, my mother plays for me an old country song called, “Idol of the Band”.  One of the chorus lines speaks to a brief bittersweet period of shining glory for a young woman from humble beginnings.

sheet music with red rose sepiaWe always have a little laugh with it, but within the mirth is a little wistfulness too. I think that song reminds my mother of a funny moment or two from the bad old days. I share those feelings, but I also feel traces of poignancy that can’t quite be defined.  They are flashes of the heartstrings that join us more by fate than by our blood.

I’d heard forever that I am my mother’s daughter.  I look a lot like her, and I put her temperament on display now and then, but that was the absolute limit to the comparisons that I was determined to live out.  I loved her, but I had every reason not to repeat every aspect of her life.

My mother was that young small town girl that did not dream of escape to the bright lights of the big city.  Maybe she’d become a nurse, maybe even a nun, but in the end she longed only for a simple life of family, and hearth and home in the same little town. As it always is, it was about a boy.

Her dreams were devastatingly reshaped when step one of her plan led her into the arms of that handsome young man who soon became an abuser who drank too much.  Step two in the unintended reality was giving life to me, and then pulling me along on the path to their hell.

By the time she left him, I’d already learned a lifetime of what not to be. There was no doubt that meant being everything my parents weren’t.  What I had no way of knowing then was how deeply the sins of the father and mother had already been woven into the fabric of my future.

Like my mother, I was mostly raised in small towns or a very insular sensibility within a city. Maybe partly because of that I grew up craving the promise of anything but simplicity.  I was going to be one of those bright lights in the city. I intended to be the people I saw on TV or read about in books about success.  I used the same success examples my mother did, but unlike novels of romance, I was not going to depend on a man, or have babies anytime soon.

I was desperately eager to be in that new life.  Desperation was probably mistaken for boldness and so, at almost sixteen I went off in search of those bright lights. I hugged my mother goodbye.  She armed me with a little money, those lessons well learned, and a crock pot.

The years to follow were harder than I could ever have imagined. I began them by piling on loads of makeup and lying about my age to be able to work long days analogous to slave labor. When the realization grew that I could be stuck there forever, I added night school to the schedule.  It took years, but eventually I got my business titles.

I succeeded at school, I succeeded in work, and I succeeded in social status.  I was nothing like my mother’s life.

Not until I was.  Not until I realized that there was just one thing missing for me, and I would wholly embrace the answer to that, and it would gut everything I’d worked for, including part of the spirit that had carried me away from small town nightmares.

I fell madly in love.  He said that I was the smartest, most beautiful woman he’d ever known.  He asked, “What can I do to make your life happier”?  He said, “I promise, I will take care of you”.

He eased the deep thread of emptiness so common in the fabrics of my kind of past. It was really an unraveling, but I’d grown used to pretending that strand of vulnerability didn’t exist anyway. That was a necessary evil to confirm how much more ahead of my mother I was.  So, I ignored the red flags that waved and I said, yes.  Just like my mother did.

He swept me off my feet and back into hell.

It was a little over three years before I was able climb out.  By then, almost all of my relationships with friends and family had deteriorated, along with all the other areas of my life.  The only miracle within the madness was that I didn’t have children with him.  Not that we didn’t try.

I moved from the immediate brutality of that time, but it turned out I wasn’t completely out of those woods yet. I was always a bit of a slow learner for anything that required my heart to assess what was not in my best interests, especially where love was concerned.

I hadn’t learned yet that honest trust for anyone else can only come from honest esteem for self.  I still had to learn what that looked like. I still had to learn that betrayal hides in plain sight for the unwitting, and sometimes it’s disguised as your best friends and your closest confidants.

It would take another turn on that shaky dance floor before I could really see under the masks. This second teacher was far more subtle, but just as oppressive with his demand to control.   That three year dance was a constant and chaotic struggle to change him/them, but it was clear that this one was about accepting that all the changes needed were mine.  I accepted finally that it wasn’t my job to love someone enough to become a better person or to make them be better people.

Time moves every story along, and it became more of my friend this round.  My bright future lay tarnished on the ground, but I was finished with the idea of gleam anyway. The only choice I could face was to go back to the beginning.  A revisit to that place that gives you the so called strengths you depend on to survive, but really are old scars that need to be opened in order to be properly closed.  I was taught that healing me was part of healing the whole of humanity, but it was the only part that I was, or could be, responsible for.

I reworked how I defined success and my revised ideals created the roads to more meaningful ways. I learned to accept that healing is never really over, but the lessons begin to bloom more in joy than the scrapes of sorrow.  I worked my way to a life that is different, quieter, but true; to one that matters.  Just like my mother did.

And every now and then, we sing together the words of an old country song that plays to our fated heartstrings and we smile at the notes that we more than survived.

RL

This story was partially published as a guest post for JT Weaver.net in September 2013. Revised May 15, 2014