Over Board

 

Since I like to write about life in “metaphors” and “allegory” I would like to directly confront any haters by describing my life as a big Carnival cruise ship.

When you spend 33 years steering your ship with the same beliefs, illusions, escape mechanisms, denial and self defeating behaviors, you know how to steer, because its the way you were taught. It’s the way you always have done, the way your parents and even their parents taught, a map passed down with just one compass, a set group of working members that trust you to steer the way they taught.

Rejecting their way of navigation is to reject them, to question that any idea outside the script they have written for you is rebellious and ungrateful. By asking to maneuver this ship, your own, the way you hope, the way you dream, causes narcissistic panic and rage, for such a request slaps ingratitude, defiance, and no amount of love by either party changes this fact at all.

It is their fear of all fears, to lose control.

But you cannot dance for them, steer for them, look at a map that has nothing to do with you and pretend you are doing a job GOd made you for, not even for the love you feel for them.

It is too great a cost.

Trying only comes with their reminders of your past navigations, life boats of passengers that would leave, that little failed  marriage, financial irresponsibility, their hearts heavy with concern, so naive and desperate for love and approval, you believe them.

The drama and unhealthy anxiety and loss of weight and who had to bear such a thing watching you destroy yourself?

Your heart sickened and you would agree especially when the trump card fell, like how your children were at stake, and as my mother said when I excitedly announced my acceptance to Photography school, “But honey, your children need you. A good mother knows  you can’t ever get back your children’s childhood.”

But I had waited till Lola was in Kindergarten, my heart felt it true that I had real gifts, people had told me about my writing and photography, something my mother claimed she wouldn’t read.

It was just too unbearable for her.

Not to mention being the family laughing joke, the dating disasters, financial dependence, and so you went along, so you laughed with them.

So crazy, how could YOU be qualified to run your own ship?”

They meant to shut up, find a good man, stop causing drama, and do not ask questions that make them feel, look, or examine pain, but one last thing. DO not take front seat or that would mean that they may be put out of a job, a job they invested 33 years in keeping. One thing I have learned is that nothing is more important than their own illusion of control, that you somehow are responsible for the emotions, existence, needs, and life path of another simply by being born.

In your birth, you are their ownership.

But, what if they were right?

They always were.

Could you possibly be that arrogant, even crazy, to believe that something inside you knows more?

Read their map, take passenger seat with their compass, and they promise, you will always be safe, loved, and in God’s loving hands.

In many small moments of defiant self assurance and your own part brave, part powerful, part narcissistic inner guidance, you throw the compass over the side, rip their perfect map and do horrible things like go to school, take on boyfriends not of their knowledge or choosing, at 33 mind you. You refuse calls, break cars, and cry over missing your babies.

They tell you that this is abuse, this defiance of role, the writing, and you failed them by not taking the destination they paid and invested financially and emotionally for you.

In your young naive attempt for all that you have fought for, you throw up the middle finger, rip their map, not just in half with a clean line you can tape back later for emergency, but in many teeny pieces throwing them up in the air.

You clearly have no idea what you have done.

They watch in horror, announce insanity, and so you hear the many heartbreaking lies from the ones who KNEW you, who were watching, who cried and held you, so you dive deep in denial as your reputation is smeared, like a knife you know is cutting and bleeding in your back, but you refuse to pull out.

Sometimes pretending the pain isn’t really there is less painful than the wound itself.

And sometimes, this exact point causes you to never fully examine your wounds, your life, your loved ones, I believe, is a promise that you will in fact, become them.

The repair is not possible you realize as your heart slices to pieces, your children are no longer called or seen, even the ex that supported them is deleted next to you off of facebook, birthdays and holidays are ignored, with the exception of a lovely card, only for the grandchildren, who have been left to you for the explanation of why an entire extended family, aunts uncles and cousins, are gone. I couldn’t bare it. My babies most claimed to being loved were now pawn to a woman who claims I will not let her see them.

And so, you have what you have asked for, a ship, gulp, and no one to control the many anchors and nets, food preparations, or storm safety regulations.

You have a few passengers to take leadership of, all watching with careful scrutiny as to how this captain will maneuver without any map, an illogical quest for certain, and you can feel some of them smug at their obvious belief you will hit the rock of Gibraltar, or drown the entire boat from your selfish, ignorant, irresponsible and reckless decisions.

They are waiting to be right.

The others left are a little scared, with life jackets all on, you notice, a fact that makes you wince, seeing as there is only bright sky and little waves, but they have swimmies, goggles, inner tubes and helicopters on call.

So you will prove them all wrong. You will prove you are the Captain, the first to use an inner guidance and new technology from within. You are living your destiny, you say in the mirror at night, certain the gods will protect you and the ripple effect of your intentions will lead you and your girls to freedom.

You believe with all your might you are called to do so.

And in front of them all, in front of yourself, you run your ship directly into a glacier.

And another one.

You see with terror that the water has began to fill the first cabin of passengers and it is your fault, these passengers you have grown to love as your own family are all affected, their money and resources drained, their thoughts of your motives and choices are murmured below, but you can hear them all.

They are losing trust, amongst the chatter, you feel their worry and anxiety over you, causing great pain and a responsibility greater than you ever knew before.

That is the worst part of being a captain.
Letting down the ones you want nothing more than to love and protect that have no choice but to drown or get hit amongst the rocks with you.

I was in the McDonald’s drive thru, with Lola my cheerleader, Kat my critic, and I saw her eye me in my rear view.

She must have noticed I buy nothing for myself, even food, something she comments on, aware at too young of an age that mommy has had an excruciating break up, must move out without any idea where to live, needs extra work and fast, and is heartbroken mostly over missing them and wondering if in fact, everyone was right, once again.

“Mom,” she said, with authority in her voice, even at 10.

I was scared to look up.

“One day mom, you will have a big house and a man that is your real soul mate, you’ll see. You will go on trips and buy things and mom, you can do it. One day mom.”

“Yeah!” Lola cheered from the back, shouting, “YOU WONT ALWAYS HAVE NO MONEYS!”

She kept eating her fries while I said nothing, afraid to show the tears sliding, the belief they have in me had nothing to do with my past behavior, all to do with what they knew I was capable of.

“And a child shall lead them.”

I had already took on a first captain, one with a snarky spitfire of personality and courage, to test the waves, an open book of brilliance and psychological passion which she has mysteriously gained at such a young age.

Ya’ll know her as Thelma.

I hired her to research and build a new map you see, my courage and passion to my cause quickly passing, so I asked her to find a much better working compass, a growing regret was quickly coming with the realization I threw away with the first one with little indifference at the time.

She has bad news.
She cannot give me a new compass.
She WILL not give you a new compass.
She says it like the truth blazer she is, something I often brag will make her the greatest forensic psychologist of all time, but with me, you see, I demand she change the very core of what makes her beautiful and unique.

I explain carefully that I just want her to say it is okay.

She explains details over my ship with little patience and logical direct blows. She tells me I am the leader of this ship, not her, and not the ones before, and I have a choice. I will lead the ship I call my life, for good or bad, or not.

My knees go weak, not knowing I had unconsciously looked for the exact replacement of what I knew for all my life. I just saw pain, blinding white light, and an evil girl who cut up souls and served them on strawberries.

It took a lot of time to see the real Thelma, not the woman I only projected upon as “mother.”

On many occasions I imagine I might have challenged her to first deck where I would wrestle her lady like uppity ass to the ground, but in fact, something worse happened.

I realized she was right.

What the fuck was I thinking?

I did what all confident self seeking freedom fighters do and cried, begged, demanded she do it, fell faint on the floor from the magnitude of it.

She just rolled her eyes.

Until the breaking.

Something had to be changing for she was evolving into the nurturing and kind friend, the co caption I was used to was not empathetic, even harsh.

It was the first time I saw her as she was, and had always been, but from my own dysfunction and terror of being abandoned had blinded me to ever seeing the real her.

I saw after a year that she had no life jacket on or life boat pulled to the side, nor had she ever.

How could I have missed this?

So this was the breaking, the pounding of my knees to the ground, the layers of unworthy unloved messages and beliefs began to take over, and I had nothing left to fear.

In that moment, I had and was nothing,

The interesting thing about pain is that some pain keeps you stumped for years, and I had the tears of a clown with the make up dripping off, only my true sad self to let through and all of it, all of it, had been not my fault, but my responsibility.

I wasn’t stumped at all. I was aware I had done nothing I had set out to accomplish, that intentions mattered nothing, that I was in fact, the scum on the bottom of the scummiest bottom.

So the reality I had been missing was that she had not changed into anything, for I saw her, my biggest defender, fighter, support and friend. It was I who was the one changing, the parts of me who kept her and the world away were the ego and I had none left, not anymore.

Then I heard some music, coming from bottom deck, Justin Timberlake I believe, blasting on the radio, my girls coming up to shake what their mama gave them, the ship half burned, ship wrecked, void of food.

True deliverance comes not when we are accepting mighty awards in front of all the people who didn’t believe in you, our shadows and ego convinced OUR truth will be rewarded, maybe even a podium or Ted Talk might come our way.

It just is never going to be that way for me.

It is in the destruction, when the tides have turned and all is lost at sea. It is in the shipwreck and pirates who betray again and again, so you find treasure in your laughter, in your glories, in your unforgivable mistakes, and if you have a lucky break, all you can see and feel is just peace.

These are the finest of any treasure a captain can find, when her ship becomes eerily still while the  dolphins came to say hello, jumping in perfect circles. One by one they come, dressed in costume, Kat and then Lola, Thelma and Dad, all the ones who love from a broken heart come to dance.

“You are the captain of your ship, the captain of your soul” is a quote I scribbled down way before I took on this journey, and I will not begin being grateful when I find the destination, the flag, the written map the gods reveal before me.

Sink or swim, with maybe one float left to hold on as I watch my boat burst into flames, it doesn’t matter.
I will dance just the same.

For everyone on board, from past to present to unknown to future known, this is the song I am dancing to, hoping you all are blessed, touched, and loved. It is you who have been God’s touch on my shoulder.

Enjoy!

Michael Franti & Spearhead LIVE

 

Three Amigos

There is nothing like deleting old emails all morning only to break out into the ugly cry, Lola and Kat at first concerned,

Mom, is it Sammy?

He died two years ago, my 14 year old dog.

 

Mom, you can put these blankets around your shoulders to make it all fancy,” Lola consoles, of course, by fashion wear. She once told me she was in my tummy and the whole time she was thinking, “When, oh when, are they going to let me change my clothes!”

Kat studies me when I cry, analytically, like she has never seen my face before, or if she were logically counting tear drops for a homework assignment.

The only thing worse than having a broken heart is your kids knowing it.

Then, they put on my “favorite” song, despite the fact I hate Katy Perry, go figure, and did a dance show until I laughed so hard the snot didn’t even bother me, the pain burning in my heart was numbed like someone slapped vapor rub on it.

Before you know it, the moment passed, they were fighting over the wi remote, my puffy eyes are all thats left, and I say loudly, “Act like a real writer!

I was going to write about something serious today, and actually you know, edit, or read it, for the love of God.

I was, I REALLY was, but I found this in my email account, no date, before I had a blog I suppose.

“Wow. So, we were running a “CRYSTAL GIRL” errand, which Kat, Lola, sometimes Nana and I, are the Crystal Girls, an exclusive group, and Kat and I start scheming. So, I say, “Kat, you know where B lives?”

“Whittaly.” No, I say, “FLORIDA,” with a smile. Lola first says, “When I see that nice man B, I am gonna kiss and love him and hug him” she said, eyes so big!

Kat said, “Yeah, and HE is a NICE man, and DADDY likes him, and on the chatter went…
Then it hit.
Lola crumples her face and says, “And B will NEVER ever Eat Bad Stuff and TURN his HEART BLACK and leave us or die, Mommy! NEVER, EVER!”
Knocked the wind out of me…… 

I pulled into the QT and parked the car, and looked at her.

“Lola, love, tell me where it hurts.” She shook her head, “NO!”
Kat put her hand on Lola, who put her head into the leather, and I said, “Lola, my heart hurts because of Papa, does yours?”
She gave me one eye from her pudgy baby hands, peeking in, through the tears. “And I don’t know if Daddy or Nana or my boyfriend B will die or leave, but…”
I was about to launch into one of my Mommy speaches, and I am one of those moms that has to annoy even a seven year old to death to make sure its all said,
so Kat interrupted, “Lola, she said.. You’ll always have me.”
And they hugged and I wept.

This morning ended up a lot like that, no babies, now big girl dance queens, in my heels and sunglasses, on a fake stage, but even the same, it hit today. And no mommy was there to give a fake speech, but who needs fake speeches, and living dogs, old boyfriends, dads, holidays, phone calls or birthday parties? Not me. It is far overrated when you have Katy Perry twins, singing badly and loudly, my words from the email blurred into one as I cried all over again, reading the last line.

And they hugged and I wept.

Annihilation

If words were a weapon, I just got dropped the nuclear bomb, the big daddy, the one our government would never let us know about, certain it is for our own safety.
A childhood friend and I are trying to reconcile our distant relationship, for the sake of our kids. She has always been everything I am not, or ever been. She runs her home like a well oiled machine, never forgets appointments, runs late, cancels plans, or forgets to send out a warm Thank You note.
She is Anne Taylor but without a clearance rack, something I marvel at with amazement, my dollars land on the Goodwill counter, the thrill of my life is finding the girls a steal with tags.
She is the woman who had so many clothes for her child they all lined the closet as big as my room, hanging, the tags I touched in amazement, her baby could never wear them all, even if she changed him ten times a day.
She is neat, orderly, and cooks according to her little weight watchers booklet, the teeny book she holds as she counts points, remembering with perfect accuracy what she has to do to maintain her perfect health, my mind blank in trying to recount breakfast, if I had it, a book that tiny would have been lost in seconds in my possession.
Ever since I have known her, I have wanted to be her.

She is the example of what a good wife, hard worker, and ideal mother represent.

Her child was in school at two, has had swim lessons and been passed around more adoring hands than I have known to exist in one country, much less one room, and he is so lovable and adored, especially by Kat and Lola, but most by me.

The things that she said to me were all true, Divorcee and I on conference call, both wanting to fight for the relationships we believe matter, for nothing is more thrilling than knowing your kids have people in life who love them.

She said I was a bad mother, and it is true. They have never deserved to witness divorce, have never been given the things they deserve. I never know if I am doing things the right way, feel guilt over all they have missed in my own search for wholeness.
I sob thinking of how I promised Disneyworld, a trip I starve hoping to save for, a fact I am 90 pounds, which is not true, but I am too prideful to admit my weight loss is from overworking my body, her child has seen the ocean more than I have seen bank account draft fees, which is a lot.

She said that I am selfish, leave the children so that Divorcee can’t leave if he wanted to, something he assures me is not the case but I did have a boyfriend that smoked pot, have been up for days and manic, and no one more than me wishes I knew how to manage life without becoming depressed or afraid, my regrets are bigger than my self help book shelf, all wrapped in every truth she gave, pointed out in exasperation.

She has never in her life woke up and wondered if she had been loved, her Daddy is at more functions of my own family than my sorry excuse for DNA, her parents are in 30 ish years of marriage, regular attendees of weddings, bearing gifts and kindness wherever they land.
I hear of her shopping trips with them and cringe, wondering if I can ever make it up to my own babies, who literally have no one but the tight circle in which we hold on to, for dear life.
She met the man she is married to in college and I doubt she has even loved anyone else. I doubt she goes to bed alone ever, her times away from him shake her, and I only dream of having a relationship, divorce and abandonment have never shaped her thoughts, a life I could only dream.
She has never had the threads of life ripped from beneath her, and how I am glad, to date with such fear and tread such waters of loss and destruction make me sure she is right. I can not know what she has always had without question.
She said she knows plenty of single mothers who do it better.
She says she does not use anxiety as an excuse for poor choices.

I have darkness lurking wherever I turn, and no one I can fully trust, am imbalanced, forgetful, late, selfish, and at the best imperfect.
What I am not is my father, a claim she said several times, in addressing my sick impulsive behaviors, a point I did get props for is in pursuing counseling, no doubt I need.
My father did not work at Chilis and slave all night to buy her Coach bags at Christmas, Divorcee shaking his head, my heart only desiring to see her light up, her face a sunbeam when she is given a gift she loves, my purest joy.
I see now that in doing this, what I have asked for is love.

“Please love me,” I scream.
“Please accept me,” I fall on my face in my offerings, a place I want in my deepest cracks to believe she does, but maybe if not, a Coach bag is what she really wanted, with her favorite color lined.

I was too ashamed to tell her I could not afford 30 dollar shoes for her child when given Christmas gifts, so I worked harder, and maybe, just maybe, one day she will see the symbols of love, to forgive all the mistakes, and I was certain my latest success, a job that would lead to real independence would impress her.
I hoped, like a child wishing to be adopted does, waiting for the right family to love and see them.
I see now adoption papers come to those who are doing it better, and I wonder if she knows I don’t want to be this, that I know I am broken, she doesn’t have to point it out to me. Just in being her, I am aware of all that I am.

I don’t understand why her husband can leave for days to do work in the world, important work, and he is a hero. Divorcee is the stable nurturer at home, a man who loves his children and keeps them in perfect regulation, cooks and cleans, but to be me, it is not acceptable because I am their mother.

That is considered selfish, unloving and unnatural, when I am just the same as her husband, the flip side of the same coin, but to be a woman, it is selfish and wrong. He throws his child in the air and is admired.

I throw mine and Divorcee is felt sorry for, praised and marveled at, his work in doing the laundry and setting up play dates makes him appear selfless.
But the truth is, we are in the roles we belong, just without the fish bowl, eyes looking in and judging, the two of us want what everyone else wants.

She regularly attends church, and I do not, but I must say, if anyone knows they are lost, guilty, or broken, it is me.
I AM the woman who threw herself at Jesus’s feet, asking to be healed.
I AM the woman who would adorn him with my most expensive cologne, in hope to be healed.
I wish this so deeply my heart might just break in half, and to be the seeker I am, I ask God to show up, to tell me, to reveal himself and I will go. I just haven’t found him, or at least she does not see that I have. I realize today, in my sorrow and tears, my shame is the very thing she does not carry, but real love is not conditional, is given times 70, is not earned, is not deserved. Loving people is what I do, no matter how they behave, and I only live by falling on my face and asking for grace.
I wept like a child in my bed last night and prayed that angels be posted to the doors of my mind. A little girl woke up, a little redhead named Lola, her fingers ran down my back scratching, her little intuition must have seen and felt me grieving, her love so big, the ocean can not contain it.

I want to love like the ocean too, like the man named Jesus claimed, but mostly, I want to be loved not because I did anything to deserve it. I want to be loved simply because I am.
I will go to the ends of the world to give my children the things they deserve but the only gift I know to be priceless is to love with compassion and mercy, that every mistake they make is already forgiven, that love and worth are not ever proven or earned.

It is free.

Now if only I can find it for myself….
Everything that matters in life is.

Introducing “The Other Woman”

I just received a comment from a reader beneath a blog I wrote about my father, one in which I expose my hurt, my pain, the loss and destruction of being his child.

I am not one to like my personal truth being read, much less on such public display, my idea as a writer was to heal my wounds.

Little did I know it would become material read by over 10,000 strangers, a thought that makes me want to vomit, but I write to heal me, and if in any way

possible it helps others not feel so alone on this journey, I am grateful.

I also know that to expose myself comes with consequences, some good, some bad, and I do not publish anything without thought to the people affected, a reality that weighs heavy on my heart. I am indifferent to most comments, try my best not to think of them, never wanting to write for an audience, always striving to focus on my art, my truth. I feel my writing is just a projection, that a computer screen is capturing one moment of emotion or thought, so to be loved or hated, I do not feel personally attached to either thought. I write not because I want to, but because I must, and I let the readers do or say as they will. It is their right.

However, in this case, I have decided it is my right to reply in anyway I please, not in spite, but in addressing the child within, the outrageous injustice that she has endured will be heard and if it comes out politically incorrect or even a tad sarcastic or angry, so be it.
She has been through enough.

And here, is what this stranger had to say:

lea hickman
lhickman3158@gmail.com
71.236.12.232
Submitted on 2011/04/01 at 12:03 pm

“Katie, You are certainly entitled to your opinion about your father; however you are his daughter and he loves you. Reaching out is never easy, especially after a divorce, but your dad wants a relationship with his kids and granchildren, and you should consider his feelings. STOP being selfish!”

And this is my reply, of course, in Dear Abby blog form, but just in a more “OBVIOUS”
fashion.

“Wow. Lea Hickman. You certainly know how to make an appearance. I suppose introductions don’t seem to be needed here since my letters never received a reply, but I guess you know that. I never really thought my personal blog would be the place for a mistress to have a platform, but you are not just any mistress, but one who actually gives advice as well? I should be so honored.
Well, here is your moment and so lets just open up this can of worms shall we?
First off, please don’t be offended that I have not included you in any of my blogs or invited you over to personally say hello because it has been my impression since I was a small child that you were the psychotic ex girlfriend of my father, imagine that?
Yes, he said many times that you were prone to jealous rages over his adoration of my mother, that you could never be one to recover from his rejection.
I never knew he was such a stud.
Lucky girl, you are.
I wondered many times if all those calls and appearances in my childhood and adult life were fatal attraction, and funny thing about a woman’s intuition, I truly did give you the benefit of the doubt.
Perhaps he was just in denial.
It just seemed strange that my mother, who was of course, “THE love of my Dad’s LIFE, and THE ONLY love he EVER had,” normal gross announcements he made to her almost daily, was not apart from him even a day for my entire life.
I just didn’t know how to prove you, understand?
I will say I never thought about electronics, like say, computers, the one thing my mother doesn’t know much about, so I apologize for not connecting sooner.
I think it is lovely that you care about his relationships so deeply, I mean really, to reach out to me in his name is well, so kind of you, and effective for sure.
What daughter doesn’t want to run to Daddy when his ex girlfriend psycho perhaps mistress appears on her blog to defend him?
It is romance at it’s best.
I know. Maybe you can come by, the two of you, the reunion will be just beautiful, and I’ll be sure to vacuum. We shall all hug and cry and sing with joy, my two daughters love any excuse to eat cake, but it might want to be in secret you know, just in case, our party were to “get out” and upset family members.
People are so sensitive about these types of things.
Did you know my Dad and Mom ate a lot of cake, together, like 34 years of cake, gosh, that adds up to how many cakes a year for how many special occasions?
Wow. That is a lot of cake.
And I do appreciate that call to not being selfish, and I know I struggle here, I certainly do.
What do I call you again? Oh, Lea.
There I go again, being selfish. Maybe Grammy could be a pet name, just between us?
I am working on that selfish thing. My father certainly could have used more help in raising me. He told me what love is, but maybe you have a better view.
You are a fine example of exactly what my mother should have been you know, to get and “keep” a man as kind, selfless, loyal, and honest as my father.
Oh, but I would keep an eye on the credit card when desert comes.
Between us, he may have stolen it, so just proceed with caution, perhaps take your purse with you to the restroom, and lock it in your home if he accompanies you.
He is known to have 38 aliases and prone to using other people’s social security numbers. Whew, what a handful he is!
But listen, I do want to congratulate you on defending him, and perhaps you also are aware of the 22 page hate mails, mostly stripping my mom of all her dignity in outrageous lies meant to hurt her, not us. I mean who can blame him, right?
Oh and how he loves his grandchildren.
I think he met, no, not sure about my precious nephew, but he did get my little girl a train set one year. Kind of confusing to them, this overwhelming love.
Perhaps it overwhelms them, I don’t exactly know.
I suppose it is hard to blame him, even though he is definitely responsible for years of therapy, and along with the stalking, broken promises, and forgotten boundaries, you may need to give him a loan to help him with this healing Lea!
Not to mention the occasional run from the IRS, abandoning his family over a car, a nice one, the one in his mommy’s driveway? I know I am just his little girl, but really, that car smells brand new, don’t you think?
He used to love to joy ride with mom and I in that thing, and we would go to Bruster’s and get ice cream, and this funny thing happened once, he played this song by Chris Isaac, “Somebody’s Lying,” and I just poked him on the side of his arm, while we just laughed. He always thought I was just hilarious.

But, not to put a damper on anything, cause I am uncertain to your status, on facebook you see, the status of your relationship is what makes it official, anyways, keep this one little thing in mind. If it does go a little sour, don’t be surprised to find dead roses in your mailbox, surround your entire family for holidays with weapons, but use bats so the children aren’t nervous, and always tell him how selfless and wonderful he is, that he did the BEST he KNEW to do, over and over until your eyeballs fall out and every bit of life force has been drained out of your ever loving soul.

Oh, and do tell your daughter I said hello. In high school, she once told me we could be sisters but I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, not until today that is.
Maybe you should mother her since I do have one of my own.
You should meet her one day, or I believe you have.
She is not perfect, but she did love my father very much, as we all did.
He just never saw the value of real love, a perfect offering even in all his failures, until it was way too late.
I’m not sure how any love is more pure than a child for her own father, especially mine, because I wanted to die before I lived one day believing my daddy, the man who hung the moon, could become this. This is the unspeakable crime to a child, this is not the man I remember nor he is the man I ever wish to know.
But perhaps I am just selfish. Perhaps you can give him the love he never had. Perhaps you are the perfect woman to show him love, for trust me, every woman till now, his own daughter, can not. Perhaps you were the only one he loved all along? Perhaps he doesn’t know what love even means? Perhaps you can teach him.
Perhaps.”

Choices

I left Divorcee years and years ago, a young mother, barely able to understand herself much less the vows she took. I stayed and so did he, neither of us able to look at our life and imagine a day without our girls in it. We settled and didn’t even question the distance, the cold empty space between, the void, the growing ball of self hatred, the elephant I pretended not to watch just stomped me instead, over and over again.

In the leaving, I saw two girls so heartbroken over their daddy, I could die from just the memory of it, a stain so drenched in shame of their innocence, the smell of their blood on my hands could make me vomit in their presence.

I knew I had made choices that defined my life early, choices that led me to stay home, daddy coming home to the bills and a mortgage, my shirts drenched in breast milk and baby vomit paid my homage, a role I believed I had to endure. The truth is I loathed him for his freedom, the flippant way he hated his job, my thought of working and providing made my heart flutter like air. My very shame in wanting to work was the bondage he could never seem to make peace with.

And so, with my father vanishing, Divorcee’s tears and heart gripping hugs to them, I couldn’t take it anymore. They didn’t ask for this pain nor did they ask to come into the world to a young mom shocked and horrified at her own unconscious life, a life I couldn’t remember choosing, the constant look of longing and questions, their little hearts longing for the Daddy I knew loved them. And so, he moved in to take over, paid the bills, fed and clothed us, my mother and brother roommates as we all passed by, the girls in the circle, a circle I depended on for refuge.

And so they have soared, my little angels, healing and growing, Kat’s reading conquered, Lola’s first day at Kindergarten a blow we took together, friends and mostly a team, Divorcee and I. I told myself the room I had was worth it, the tiny little room with a mattress I did not own, a side table and lamp borrowed, my home long gone, all the “stuff” we collected together a vague memory of what was. It was worth it, the pain easing over time, the work of forgiveness and healing showed up like little lights in their eyes.

Only he knows what this cost, the harsh criticism, the judgments and assumptions, the weird looks, and strange distance of potential relationships, a blow I took for not having known my worth or passion. This new roommate role I settled into felt more comfy, like my favorite converse shoes, and was a better trade, so I took off their pain and wore shoes that said more lost than comfy, a bewildered zombie of a woman I did not know ran and ran, watching them grow from a different angle, but it was all just the same.

Again I was outside a life I did not want.

And like all things, courage came, the death of a dream in another form, the understanding that I wanted to live in a home I owned, with little towels that smelt like me, sheets I paid for, a bathroom I could visit without a turtleneck and deadbolt, which is pretty much how I feel every time I sneak to the community shower, never knowing if Divorcee or Baby Bro will have beaten me first.

I am an artist and nothing here is owned or decorated by me, strange glass vases and foreign colors make me weary and depression came down like a whip lash, my girls laughter in the back yard was nothing less than the cost of myself, my eyes vacant and hollow, joy a feeling I had lost long ago.

Until now. I found me. I found my joy, the passion for a work I could only dream to want much less own, and truly the shock and gratitude comes and goes like a slap, the pain and longing for my babies just as strong, my inner pull to do what I love.

The truth is I did not choose this job but it has instead chosen me, my body and soul a channel for the demand to create, no matter the cost.

I have not eaten from having spent my quarters, prayed as I shake from the gas tank on empty, not even able to buy the birthday presents much less the big party, I watch in sick envy as Divorcee clumsily picks the Halloween costume, nails the Christmas list, works tirelessly as a single Dad while I come home deathly afraid I have missed it, and the fear is not an illusion, but a truth, because I always miss something, every story or lesson plan or book read is a shock to my system, and I watch Lola miss me in her baby love, Kat shrug away in her silent anger, no longer a hero at her ripe age of 9.

And has it cost me. God, it has cost me everything. I eat, breathe, sleep, think work and art, my own presence vanishing off the map, my little girls holding my legs and crying for me not to leave, the hours have been brutal to them, and so I have promised them.

I have promised a girl house, with girl stuff, where girls where panties and dance and laugh, and this house has been the taste of freedom I seal the wound each night I miss the bath, the reading, the stories off the bus.

So, I have this passion, this creative talent and unheard of passion and drive, but for what?
You never get Mrs. Smith’s second grade concert back.

Kat has struggled the most, her needing me screams like a cat caught on fire, my heart screaming no as she turns her back to me, my sixteen hour day has nothing but “YOU LEFT ME” written, a pain I cope by working harder, certain the dream and the house and the ability to own a bank account certainly will make it all worth it.

Perhaps I will fail, miss every moment for a poor substitute, a dream is a waste for many or all of us would pursue ours.
I don’t blame them. I sometimes hate my own.

I tell them about Disneyworld and the house of girls and i see myself disappear in their eyes, and only God knows how I don’t just bury my soul in the grief, the guilt, the belief it has to be worth it and so I push, and push.

I can’t decide if living with them poor and broke when they are on their own paths, a cord they can never untie for needing to carry my weight is the destiny I am avoiding or if the truth of my mission will one day reveal itself to me, all these broken promises made good, a pride for my work and courage renewed by our love.

Until then, I sit in a room written with words of affirmation, words written to convince me I could do this and be happy, dependent on a man that never wanted me, who is releasing my title, living my dream, the one I have to go make space for while he is brushing their hair and hearing their stories, and I feel like a ghost, my life playing through a window pane, but he is in it while I am chasing it.

I sobbed and sobbed with Kat tonight, a breaking I had to have, my forgiveness I beg, my title of mother not worthy of such a precious little girl, and she is going to let me hold her tonight, a rare thing for her growing pride, to watch a movie in my teeny room, and yes, no closet door for extra storage space, my mission to make a magical sleepover in this once fearfully loved home, a space I never occupied but pretended to love.

The truth is, no space or dream can take her away, for without her I am nothing, and so I silently weep, a grief I know must be shared by millions of women all over the world. But right now, I hear nothing but the shallow ache of a hollow heart, wondering if any dream or art could give me back her, all the days, not just the moments, and I can not hear my own voice, the echos of these women I assume know answer not, and I sit in the breath of my choices.

I sit in the weight of my dreams.