Thursday, July 2, 2015

This is what they call a breakthrough.

Intake.
I hate the initial intake before seeing a psychiatrist to get a steady medicine regime.  Today, it's talking to a psychologist who is fresh out of school, all but glowing with the desire to help.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not ungrateful.  I just see this as merely a business transaction.  I need my anti-depressants, and she needs to make a difference.  I answer the standard questions, and when the interview is finally wrapped up, and my appointment scheduled, she asks me about my twins. 

I throw her a bone, tell her they're two, and briefly mention that my fiancé calls me 'the fun parent.'

"You know, having the kind of childhood you did, it's common to want to make up for that, by giving your children the things you missed out on."

That sentence, how she cut through and saw something about myself that I never realized, hit me right in the heart.

--

It stays with me the whole day.  I turn it over in my mind, try to find out why that sentence hits a tender place in my heart, and makes me blink back tears.

I think about my twins, one boy, one girl, the absolute best of both worlds.

Bath time, and I blow bubbles while they play with their toys.

Taking them out on the weekend, to the park, to the splash pad, sunscreen smelling like the sweetest perfume on their skin.

Waking them up early on Saturday morning to get ready for a trip, or a prize, or whatever it is I've planned the week before.

--

It isn't until today that I realized what an impact those words have on me.  I went from almost nightly drinking, to making it a weekend thing.  Then, just a one day thing.  Sometimes Friday, sometimes not.

It's as if those words made the craving less.

Whatever it was, I've started participating in life more.  More chances, more changes.  More trips with the kids for ice cream, and swimming.

More sweet moments, less hiding my sober mind from the things I can't face.

--

I don't know if I can ever be truly free from the abusive relationship with alcohol that I have, but this seems to be a period of remission.  The love of my children, the ability to speak about the past, and clean the infection of my soul by (painfully) remembering past hurts and wounds; I'd like to say that this is the end of my addiction.

Each day, I live a little bit more.  I'm less afraid, and more willing to open myself up to failure as a means to success, than to hide within myself, drinking and brooding.

I see how beautiful my children are, what promise they have, and it brings tears to my eyes.  It also fills me with a joy so big, there are no words. 

Love is the strongest (and strangest) drug of all.  It's also the only thing in this world worth building a life on.
--

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Home of the Whopper

He was a lot of things. Womanizer, beer drinker, writer of smutty songs, expert on the best kinds of sin.

He was also my best friend.

To call him a womanizer isn't really fair. It's true, but sometimes even the truth doesn't paint someone in a fair light.

He wasn't your typical womanizer. I think he went through so many women, simply because he was a connoisseur of living in the moment. There wasn't anything ugly or demeaning in his behavior, and womanizer, though he was, through and through, he had the kind of charm that you couldn't deny.

Sometimes, when he'd look at you just right, that open and honest look in his eyes, like he was an eight year old, wanting to show you something he'd drawn, you couldn't help but fall into his charm. Even I wasn't immune to that.

--

We both came together at a time when we were mourning the end of our collective relationships.

Mine was uglier, more bitter. My ex and I kept resuscitating a relationship that I should've given up the ghost on a long time ago.

I don't remember when we decided it, but when J and I joined forces, it was a mutual decision that we could be drunker, sadder, and more pathetic together.

--

Normally, when girls talk about being a wing man, a good wing man, they really aren't. There are some points about being a wing man that girls tend to fuck up.

Now, I knew J needed to get laid. So, when we went to our regular bar, he'd case it. I usually tried to get him laid every time we went out, because girls and guys have different mourning styles.

Mine involved being curled up in a ball, listening to Dido songs and eating ice cream while naming nonexistant children me and my ex would never have.

His was more...hands on.

I'd stay around until I knew he'd sealed the deal, then I got the fuck out, like a good wingman should.

He'd always call me after. Usually, wanting me to come over and hang out.

I remember once he slept with a girl named Mika. He couldn't wait to tell me all about that one, and insisted that I come right over.

He met me at the door, in his boxers. "Dude! You won't believe what she wanted to do. It was the first time we had sex and she wanted me to do anal."

I was interested. "Well, did you?"
He wrinkled his nose in disgust, "No way, that's just...no."

--

We met at work, but after that initial meeting, neither one of us really worked much. Sure, we'd show up, exchange emails, talk shit about our co-workers, then we'd leave to pursue more important things--beer, mostly.

One of the rare days when I actually worked, I ended up with my first work crush. His name was James, and he was really cute. Dark, tousled hair, dark eyes, and shy. I have a thing about shy guys.

After hearing me talk about his not-so-slack slacks for a few days, J and my friend Ari decided to help me with my James crush. They both talked to him, so I could figure out what kind of shit we had in common.

The next day, I came to work early. I was pretending to work, all the while keeping an eye out for James.

I heard Ari let out a strangled caw of laughter, and when I looked at him, trying to see what the hell was so funny, he had his face in his arms, body convulsing with supressed laughter.

I stood up in time to see exactly what got him laughing.

James had just got in, and he was wearing a full leather trench coat. I could hear it creaking when he walked. Trenchcoat, black wrap around shades, combat boots, and I swear he was walking like there was a techno song playing in his head. He looked like he'd stepped straight out of the Matrix.

I wanted to die.

My crush evaporated, like it never was.

I had to listen to jokes about the Matrix for the better part of a week, and J, thinking he was hilarious, would send all of his emails twice. "I think your email is fucked," I told him at break, "I keep getting two copies."

"Is it exactly the same email?" "Is it giving you de ja vu? Because de ja vu means there's a glitch in the Matrix."

Fucker.

--

We carried on that way for the next couple of months. He'd leave me voicemails, singing Pussy Control; I'd buy him candy, and then we'd share the last couple of bites. It just seemed to taste better when we shared.

Of course, this whole being around each other every day made it seem like we were a couple. All of our friends thought we had this secret relationship going on, that we were sleeping together (we weren't) or that we were in love and just afraid to admit it.

We weren't in love, but there was this intense current of sexual tension underlying everything we did. We liked the same movies, we drank the same beer, and it got to the point where we could finish each other's sentences.

So, we did the only thing you can do in a situation like that. We ignored the attraction in the hopes it would go away.

--

Things came to a head on New Year's. The things you try the hardest to ignore usually find a way of shouting their presence, I've found.

He had a date with this gorgeous dark haired girl. I was taking my other best friend, Shayna along with me. We ended up going to a party where I knew no one. So, Shayna and I went into the kitchen and did shots with some of the boys there.

J's date hated the party. She looked at everyone toasting and having a good time and just sat there and glared. For some reason, this amused me to no end. I kept trying to get her to loosen up and do a shot, but she refused. Finally, she made J take her home. "Do you get to keep your sense of humor, or is she taking that with her when she leaves?" I asked him on his way out the door, snickering as he shot me a 'shut the fuck up' look.

I did enough shots that I lost track of time. In another hour, the ball was going to drop. I didn't want to spend another minute at this party. Somehow, it was too much. Too many faces I didn't recognize, too many people I didn't give a shit about.

I just wanted to be back at my house with J and Shayna, drinking a few more shots with the two people I loved the most.

I tried calling J, but his phone went straight to voicemail.

Twenty minutes until midnight, and I made a command decision. As much as I didn't want to, I called my ex. He made it in time to pick us up, and wouldn't you know it? J got there just in time to see me drive off with the ex. I gritted my teeth, knowing this wasn't going to end well.

I got to my house, and predictably, the phone was ringing as soon as I got there. Three guesses who, and the first two don't count.

It was the first fight I ever had with J. Every time I said something he didn't like, he hung up on me. After the third time, I unplugged the house phone, and turned my cell off.

Shayna spent the rest of the night drinking with me, and when I woke up the next morning, she'd already left.

I felt disconnected from my body, a little hungover, and a lot sorry that I'd fought with J.

About nine in the morning, someone was knocking. "It's open," I yelled from the kitchen. The knocking continued, so I put down my sandwich and opened the door.

It was J. Standing there, looking shy, with an aw-shucks expression on his face, a case of beer next to him, and a bottle of tequila in his arms. In J-speak, that was 'sorry' and 'let's put our beer goggles on' all rolled into one. So we did.

--

For my pre-birthday celebration, he gave me the movie High Fidelity. He was pretty sure I'd love it, and I did.

Later that day, about the time we usually went to work, he took me out for dinner. We ended up drinking margaritas and calling in. I remember how great I felt. The sun was shining, the drinks were delicious, and I was with my best friend. All was right with the world.

J told me he wanted me to experience something wonderful, something that not many people had experienced. Being drunk in the daytime.  It wasn't just for alcoholics.

We ended up shooting, and on top of all that beer, bad decisions were natural to follow.  He ended up smashing the webbing between his thumb and forefinger somehow.  Instead of the emergency room, we went straight back to his house so we could take a picture and commemorate this moment the right way.  By watching his bachelor party tape, and seeing who could outdrink the other.

--

I thought I heard him today, while I was getting fuel.  I could've sworn it.  There are some voices you never forget.  But, like the Temptations sang, it was just my imagination, running away with me.

He doesn't live here anymore, and we're not even friends anymore.  Too much water under the bridge, and too much history.  It was my fault, like a lot of things in my life, just pure stupidity and the inability to say two words that go a long way towards fixing things.  Sometimes pride is the only coin I carry.

Do I miss him?  All the time.  Especially when the beer is cold and there are shenanigans to be had.  Were we good for each other?  No fucking way.

Still, through everything, when I think of him, I want to chug some beers and blow stuff up.  Whatever he's doing now, I bet he's as irreverent and hilarious as ever, just the way I will always remember him.

--


Admission = free
Beer = cheap
Memories = not too clear.  But, probably priceless.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Absolution and Reprieve (2)

You stop watching TV. You'd think that would be a mindless outlet for everyone, but things bleed through.

You find out that everything does. The worst isn't the bad acting on reality TV (Snooki is actually one of the most pure hearted people-- I don't know if that makes the knowing better or worse).

If you're me, instead of seeing what movie your favorite actors are playing in, I sense what they were going through at the time the movie was filmed. There's that one actor who is a household name.  That golden voice. He didn't do anything newsworthy,(although the tabloids would have you believe otherwise) it's what he lived through. It makes me wonder why he never talks about that night, the smell of gasoline, the screams. How he never faltered, not in his heart, or his actions. What a warrior's heart he has, and yet, he doesn't ever mention that night. He never speaks it, but he lives it every day. That's the real story. The things we can never bring ourselves to speak aloud to a single living soul. The things that make us remarkable are the things we lock inside ourselves. Makes me wonder why humanity has survived as long as it has.

I listen to Beatles songs obsessively. Each song is like a snowflake, more beautiful than the last. It's hard to find just one to love, but I have my favorite. The best part about listening to the fab four is simple. They were on different planes of (thought) the whole mind thing. Drugs and smoking keep the worst of it out. Like a buffer. God bless the smokers and the tokers. And the Beatles.

Growing up this way... I could sit here and try to tell you. I could make analogies and apologies and anecdotes. I could tell you what you want to hear-- that it's great and I make such a big difference in people's lives and that I'm here for a reason and I touch lives.
That's not the truth.
 I think more often than not, I hurt the people I love when I interfere. Sometimes I'm the thing to fear. I don't talk about my dad much. When I do, I bring the good memories to the surface, share out the vagaries, and let the family members I still talk to rest a little easier. I share out those lies like a winning hand of black jack. And they swallow it gladly.

Tomorrow is yet another day. Yours probably stack up like a deck of unremarkable.
 I envy you. I envy your monotony. I envy your complacence. I envy you your differentiation of the weekends.
Tomorrow for me is work. Work, where thoughts bleed.
Somewhere over the rainbow...

Today the boss is thinking of divorcing her husband, but to be fair, she's always thinking of divorce. Today, he took out the trash and kissed her. So, she's thinking that he should get a second chance. He's a hitter.
When I see/feel her replay his abuse in her mind, I want to take a hockey stick to his danglies.
Bad is how she divides the abuse into categories.  Worse,  is the category she labels 'deserved'. That includes kidney punches, being slapped across the face, and the cheating. Like she's given him a reason to do this. He's the reason she's such a good boss. She's stern, but fair. But she suffers at his hands. 
Suffers.
It's the things like this, the knowing that my 98 pound boss gets the shit kicked out of her every other night that make me want to put a plastic bag over my head and call it good.

But I don't.  There's work left for me to do.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A life repurposed


 

Sometimes, I think I've lived a thousand different lives, as a thousand different people.

Some of those lives were capable of bravery, and heroism.  Others, I try to forget. 

Today, I had one of those bumps with the past, that nasty jolt, and it all comes back.  2004 was one of the years I started over, broken heart fragments clinging to everything I touched.  In hindsight, I was begging for a bad relationship.  I had no trouble finding it.

In the aftermath of all that not-so-interesting domestic abuse, I found myself standing outside of a women's shelter, a ripped trash bag with a few of my things, wearing pajamas. 

I stood outside, looking at the door and realized how much a home matters.  A home matters, especially when all you have in the world is a trash bag, filled with uninteresting shit.

I think I might've stood out there all night, trying to talk myself into crawling back to the life that I had before.  I might have to beg a little (or a lot), and while I was mulling it over, one of the workers welcomed me in.

I felt like a fraud.  Most of the women had a string of abusive boyfriends, or abusive parents.  I wanted to tell them that I chose this asshole who put his hands on me, because I was grieving the man I loved.  I wanted to tell them that this was my punishment for losing the one good thing I had been given.  Instead, I said nothing.

The problem with saying nothing is everyone assumes the worst.  It must be so bad that words can’t even cover the horror.

Part of me was so disconnected from everything, almost like I was watching the bad choices of someone else, someone who should know better, but still kept on fucking up.

Tori was was the first person I met there.  We shared a room.  She had a fargoesque accent that completely clashed with her California upbringing.  She was the first person who treated me like a person, and showed me around.  Neither one of us had anyone or anything to go back to.  Her family lived in California, and other than sending her money from time to time, they wanted nothing to do with her.

Living in the shelter was comforting, at first, with the structure and chores and days of bland nothing.  One day, Tori told me about a place she’d heard about, a women’s shelter in a prominent part of town She would have to pay $125 a week, but it was a house.  Almost a home.

When she asked me if I wanted to come, I said yes.  I was just waiting to be asked. 

Some of the decisions I’ve made were bad, some stupid, but this was one of the worst I’ve ever made.  It all just kind of spiraled out of control from that one yes.

Part of me knew better.  I had a bad feeling about the whole thing.  Having to pay to stay in a shelter?  It seemed wrong to me, and I couldn’t fit the pieces of why together in a way to say it out loud, so instead, I said nothing.

The house was beautiful.  Four bedrooms, a huge basement area, two bathrooms and a lovely kitchen.  I felt my heart lift a little, and thought my gut instinct was wrong.  I wanted to be wrong, and find something good for once.

I worried most about how I was going to come up with that $125/week.  I wasn’t working, and had no job prospects.  Luckily, Janey (the head of the house) had a way for us to earn that money.  We were expected to work  for an organization called “Save a life, give a phone.”  The premise of it was that we called people, scheduled drop off boxes so cell phones could be donated, reprogrammed, and given to women in domestic violence situations, pretty much like the shoes I was now standing in.

The premise sounds pretty amazing, right?  It was, at first, considering that we got to work, live in a nice house, and help other women in our situation.

I got blindsided by the shiny wrapping that this particular dog turd was wrapped in.  First, we only worked a few hours a day.  I later figured out, it was exactly enough hours to pay for that $125/week rent, with nothing left over.  Talk about going from one abusive situation to another.  Second, since I had a lot of computer experience, the head guy, Domingo, decided I could be his secretary.  I really enjoyed that work, getting to be his right hand, typing out invoices, scheduling press releases to get as many phones as possible donated to our organization.

That gnawing feeling of unease never really left me, and I felt like the bottom would drop out of my situation at any time.  Every night I’d go to sleep, and dream I was falling.

Me being me, I couldn’t leave it alone.  On this particular Monday morning, Domingo had left his computer with me.  I was supposed to compose a couple of memos to the rest of the staff, but as soon as he was out of my sight, I started going through the files on his computer.  I checked his email, sent, trash, documents, hard drive.  I found a big old nothing.  Part of me felt a little relieved.  I wanted him to be legit, even though my gut told me he was a douche.  I started composing his memos, when that little devil on my shoulder whispered, “Check his recycle bin.  Couldn’t hurt.”

Everything I’d felt in my stomach for weeks, was in that folder.  Emails, documents, all the things he didn’t want anyone to see.  He’d been selling the high end phones to buyers.  There were negotiations on price, a complete list of email addresses of the various buyers who were making him rich.  I forwarded all the information to my email address.  Then, I did a little internet research and found out that this kind of thing wasn’t new to him.  He was a scam artist.

I shouldn’t have said anything; I should’ve just moved out and went on about my life.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

The girl I told ended up telling him everything.  He was waiting for me when I got home.  He told me that I needed to get out, because I was spreading gossip.  I just smiled at him and said ok.  Watching his face when I told him I’d found his special folder made my day.  I think he wanted to try to negotiate with me, or maybe bribe me, but I ran out of that house, into another life.

It was cold, and the wind was blowing through the sweatshirt I was wearing.  I had only the clothes on my back and nothing in my pockets,  but that feeling of dread and unease was gone.  Maybe I didn’t know what my next move was, and maybe I had to sleep under a bridge, but I’d make it.

Survival was always part of who I am.


http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/ok_cell_scam.html

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tornado

tor·na·do
a localized, violently destructive windstorm occurring over land, especially in the Middle West, and characterized by a long, funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground and made visible by condensation and debris.



People who have never lived here don't understand. Those of us who have never lived anywhere else, well, tragedy can occur anywhere.



You tell yourself that you have a storm shelter, and common sense. You prepare, and you believe preparedness is safety. You fool yourself, because as adults, that's what we do.


Children are the brave ones. They believe in monsters under the bed. Childhood is honesty, and the older we get, the more we're taught the lies and uncertainty of adulthood.
The monsters are still there, but we think that with enough foresight, we can somehow keep the horror at bay. But monsters don't have rules. They're everywhere. Sometimes, behind the faces of people we trust.



September 13, 2011 was my own personal tornado. It was darkness.  Once something like that happens, moving past the tragedy is impossible, the tatters of the life I knew fell away, and every day was the day of the tornado.  I lived in the eye of the storm.  It all seems quiet, but on every side, the tragedy is still happening.





--


I like a good beer buzz, early in the morning.


Drinking was the sign of adulthood in my family.  Beer was for barbecues, champagne was for New Year's, and vodka had it's own seat at the dinner table.


I'm a drinker.  Sometimes, I'm a drunk.  I like the taste of beer, and I love the way it makes me feel.  Blurry at the edges, wanting to laugh, fuck, and maybe pass out.  Beer.  That's the name of my God.


I know I'm not the first person that kind of thing happened to, and I won't be the last, but there was such surprise.  That's what I'm most ashamed of.  The surprise that something like that could happen to me.


You wouldn't believe the amount of shame that I carried around.  I'd spent my days off watching shows like Law and Order: SVU.  I would watch it and think about the tornado.  About sleeping with all the lights on, and checking the door to make sure it was locked at least fifty times a night.


Anyone who could take away something like that from another person, to turn pleasure into horror and pain, doesn't deserve to walk in the midst of people. 


What was stolen from me is something I'll never get back.  It wasn't just my torn body, it was the way I used to trust.  The way I could love anyone, completely, and selflessly.  I miss myself.  I miss certain things about the woman I used to be. 


The worst part, the one that anyone who's been through it knows, is that one memory you can't bleach with therapy or booze or antidepressants.  Mine is the sound of him spitting into his hand.  Just typing that last sentence makes my stomach clench, and my lunch flutter in my stomach. 
There are some nights, that I wake up to that sound, him spitting into his hand, and think about that being the last good moment in my life.  That spitting sound, and then we have now.




--


“Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”—Unknown


I hate helpful, huggy quotes.  "Fuck your forgiveness.  There are things that should never be forgiven. "  -- Me


The first time I tried to have sex after it all happened, was so awkward, it was like regaining my virginity.  I didn't want to have sex.  I didn't desire it, but I wanted to know that I was capable of still deciding.  It was the decision that I was most worried about. 


I talked to one of my best friends and nagged and pestered him so much, he finally agreed to have the most awkward sex imaginable with me.


Getting hard wasn't the problem, it was staying hard.  When you're trying to have sex with someone who has a Sports Illustrated archive worth of issues below the belt, it's impossible to be in the mood.


A year or so ago, he told me it wasn't the worst sex he ever had, which made me laugh so hard I let out a monstrous, honking fart.  We both laughed at that until our stomachs ached.  It felt good to know that I still had the ability to laugh. 


--


"It's a way we had over here with living with ourselves. We cut 'em in half with a machine gun and give 'em a Band-Aid. It was a lie. And the more I saw them, the more I hated lies.'' -- Apocalypse Now


I won't tell you a lot of the clichĂ©s you hear from most people.  Those are like the religious pamphlets zealots hand out.  Take a look, and then throw that shit out.


Either you'll survive, or you won't.  I think there are strengths in me that I never realized.  Was it worth what I went through?  Not on your fucking life.  I drank until I alienated family, friends, strangers, everyone.  I remember waking up on a pile of beer cans for about six months straight.


It was ugly.  Hell, I was ugly.  After I made it through, I didn't have much left to go home to.  It's a good thing I know how to start over.


Some nights, I wake up and have to tell myself that it's over.  I lived that one day for years, as much as I'd like to leave it behind, it's always going to be with me.


I'm still going.  Maybe I'm too dumb to quit.  Whatever it is, I can live now.  The eye of the storm is finally behind me.




--


“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. ”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick





Saturday, October 5, 2013

Home

It's been almost a year, and I still haven't quite settled into my new role.

All the things I thought made me so unique and wonderful were a crock of shit.  I was lonely, and the only thing I had to keep out the cold reality of life was my own illusion of how great I was.

Until October, there were things I'd never known, and was unable to fathom.  In so many ways, I never really lived until October 27th.

The 26th was the longest night of my life.  I remember watching the clock, and the hands never moved.  Seven a.m. was all I could think about, because that was the time I was scheduled to be wheeled to the O.R. for emergency surgery.  Surgery.  That was something for other people.

The nurses were in and out, and when they would smile and say, "Get some sleep," I'd think how impossible that even was.  Knowing how dire the situation was, my blood pressure being near the stratosphere, my hands and feet swelling, best of all, the thirty pounds of sheer water weight I'd put on in a day.  All of that made sleep impossible.

My best friend and my boyfriend were there the whole night.  While I sat awake, my blood pressure being taken, I watched them sleep.  I thought about seven a.m. 

--

We sleep like parentheses.  Me on the outside, him blocking the other side of the bed.  Between us, something I was told would never happen. We sleep like this, trying to block everything else in the world out.  The things that make the news and make you glad it wasn't you.  We sleep blocking out the bad, with everything in the world that's right and beautiful between us.  We tell ourselves we're different and nothing bad will touch us.  Our feet press together, The warmth of it puts me to sleep.

--

Seven a.m. and I'm ready.  I've never been less ready in my life.  Anesthesia is a funny thing.  Euphoric.  I think about how if I die, I won't really mind, because I can't feel anything.
My fiance's there with me, dressed in scrubs.  I can tell how worried he is, and I hold his hand.  Try to tell him how much he means to me.  I try to tell him that what we have is something that steals my words.  I love him.  I've given him something no man has ever gotten.  He has everything I have to offer.  I think all of this, and can barely manage to mouth "love you."  He squeezes my hand.

I've done everything I'm supposed to.  Exercise, eating right, drinking enough water to keep me on the verge of pissing myself.  I never felt any kind of emotion I thought I was supposed to. 

As they were cutting me open, I felt the tug and pull, but no real pain.  I wondered if I was supposed to feel something, and then it happened.

One cry.  That first cry, and everything spilled over.  It was my daughter's voice.  A minute later, my son.  There wasn't enough room in my chest for my heart. 

--

They're closing in on a year.  Just a few weeks away, actually.  I'm still the same old Sal, but I'm completely different.

Last night, my son got his first taste of a tostada.  He did pretty well.  I had one glorious bite left, when he started choking.  I looked into his eyes, reached for him, and as I was patting his back and telling him it was okay, he grinned.  Choking on his dinner, and he grins at me. 
Then, he threw up all over my chest. (I managed to save that last bite for myself before he erupted.  It's a fucking tostada, people.  Delicious.)

It's those kind of things that kill me.  That love and trust.  The absolute fucking trust that his mom will make it better. 

I have no idea what I'm doing.  I wake up every day, spend time with them, and try to show them how much I love them both.  I think about the things in my childhood that tore me down.  How it's so much easier to build up a child than to try to repair years of damage in an adult.

Just about everyday I think that I'm not enough.  I have no idea how a good parent acts.  I think that, chew on it all day long, and then I get one of their grins.  Full of shit and sunshine.  And I tell myself that maybe I can do this.  Maybe I am meant for this.

Just before I go to sleep, one head firmly lodged in my stomach, and one pair of chubby feet burrowed under my boob, I look over at him.  Eyes closed, with baby feet firmly planted in his side, he mumbles to me.  And that's what does it.  I can sleep, those words will make it possible.

"Thank you for all this."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day/Haunted

Since becoming a parent, a lot of things haunt me.

Now, if you had good parents, you want to be like them.  Teach your own kids the kind of invaluable life lessons your parents taught you.  You probably remember Mother's Day as a day with the smell of warm breakfast floating around the edges of that memory.  Maybe your dad made your mom breakfast in bed.  Maybe he took you and your siblings out for a day at an amusement park so Mom could have a day to herself to relax.  In my house it was much, much different.

Mother's Day always fills me with a sort of dread.  I can feel the impending holiday looming over me, like a storm that has the potential for tornadoes.  That heaviness that comes with humidity.  Potential disaster.  And in my growing up, there was a lot of humidity.  A lot of storms.  And disaster was always close.

On this particular day, I couldn't have been more than 7, maybe 8.  It was somewhere around 1987, months before my parents would finally call the time and pronounce their marriage DOA.

What I remember is it being one of those fantastic days with my dad.  He was bi-polar, and would sometimes wake me and my brother up at 5 a.m. to go to a little donut shop, where we'd have donuts and chocolate milk while Dad planned out our day.  These trips usually started with us getting our fishing gear, a cooler full of drinks and food, and a lot of driving.  Dad's fishing spots were well-kept secrets.

It had to be a Sunday.  The day that most things that can go wrong, do.  I remember Dad going to surprise her, and the fight that followed.

I can't and don't know what stress my mom was under.  I don't know what was weighing on her mind.  What I do remember is her words, because every Mother's Day since, I've replayed them, and I still feel a child's shame and helplessness.

"YOU never get me anything for Mother's Day."  "You NEVER make this day special for me."  "You never REMEMBER, so don't even bother."

I remember her eyes looking into mine during those words, and feeling naked.  I didn't get her anything.  I didn't remember this date.  I felt those words like knives in my heart.

It was me who went with my dad to go pick out a present.  I remember Wal-Mart.  I still remember what he picked out.  A rose attached to a glass bell.  It was hideous.  The kind of present that can only be given by a husband under extreme duress.

I don't remember her reaction to the gift.  I just remember that as the last Mother's Day I forgot about.  After that, I tried pouring love and affection into the black hole of her needs.  I did that for the next 24 years.

Today is my first Mother's Day.  That memory is so close.  I never realized what power it had over me, until I told it to my fiance.  The tears came.  I think he understood what I was trying to say.  That's part of the reason why I love him so much.  Love is it's own form of ESP. 

And even as I think about that day in 1987, and try to shake the ghost of that memory off, I want better for my own twins.  I never want them to have a memory of never quite being good enough.  I sit here, still haunted at 6 a.m. and think how words can carve out a heart.  I sit here, and I'm still haunted.