New girl

A broken bottle

a discarded hairbrush

totems within totems

effigies of past and present

a light knock on the door

she’s wearing a French halter dress

her ankles are slim like my mother’s

she’s not my mother

her skin is brown like my mother’s

she’s not my mother

her black hair is curled like my mother’s

she’s not my mother

her perfume speaks of wanting passion

it belies the faux expression on her face

attempting trickery

she bends to me and pretends to be enchanted

by childhood photos

they are not her photos to touch

with her careful, manicured pink nails

a color my mother always hated

she had more style in her little finger

the one with dupuytren’s contracture

more a question mark than deformity

it didn’t stop her playing the piano

carving her place in my father’s heart

and this imposter? Flicking her way into our life

like a cheap fan you buy, because you are sweating

I want to tell her, using grown up words

I may be six, but I know what she’s up to

with her shifting glances toward my handsome father

with her endearing crossing of espadrilled feet

if she touches my mother’s hairbrush

I will burn

this happy house down

Revelation

I have little family but I have an aunt. My aunt reminded me today of the prayer of St. Francis. To give to others what you most need. She is not a Christian but she said it’s an apropos relative to karma and that awareness kills karma, once you learn the reason for something, it has no power over you.

Years ago I would not have imagined my aunt, whom I was close with as a child but did not see as a young adult, would be such a guiding force in my life. She told me people come into our lives, even those who damage us, as much because we ask them to, as they want to. That doesn’t mean if you are victimized, that you ‘asked for it‘ (you didn’t) but you play a part. Not meaning you are responsible, but you are not outside of the experience either and when you see that, you can see the flipside of the trauma and the value of the lesson.

By lesson, I do not mean, if you are victimized, that you are ‘being taught a necessary lesson’ because who the heck wants that lesson? But if you experience it, there is a way to turn it into a positive. I wholeheartedly agree. My dear friend Susi Bocks and I talk of this often.

I admire my aunt very much. I was always told not to admire those whom I have and they were open to derision by people who felt it their place to judge. But I’m listening to my gut on this, and I know who I admire and why. I feel it is not my place to judge, it is my place to be a positive thing in this world. That often helps me personally too. I admire her because she has literally gone through hell and not only succeeded, but flourished. She is one of the wisest, brightest, most likable people I have known and it saddens me that I didn’t know her as well earlier, but I’m so glad I know her now.

My whole life, I thought if I did something wrong, ‘karma would get me‘ and I had some fear related to that. But nothing good comes from fear. I now see that we have some power over karma, that it isn’t this force that can wreck us if we slip up, but something we can engage with. By being aware, we can play a part in how karma manifests. After all, we all make mistakes.

One of my ‘mistakes‘ I thought, was letting people into my life, who my gut told me were not healthy for me. I did this relatively recently and deeply regretted it. From the start I knew it was a mistake and the person was not who they said they were, but I felt sorry for them and wanted to help. Rather than regretting this and believing my having to walk away from them, as they became more unwell mentally, would lead to some karmic rejection in my life, I now see, I let them into my life to learn a lesson.

The lesson was I am not the same person was I was at 20 even if I didn’t realize that until recently. It would seem obvious? But in many ways, I focused on how similar I was to my 20 year old self. It’s only now, I see how different I am. My 20 year old self would have gone down the rabbit hole, would have pitied that person until they had power over me, and led to bad experiences of narcissistic personalities trying to dominate and control good people. I wouldn’t have walked away because I would have been triggered by ‘abandoning‘ someone.

The person I am today doesn’t let people do that.

Not long ago I felt if I turned someone away who was pushing my boundaries, I was abandoning them the way I had felt abandoned. I see now that if I carry this martyr complex of being abandoned, around as my yard stick, that’s what I will attract. I also see that from abandonment comes positive things like, compassion, and being a good friend and learning to do things for others because I wanted them done for me when I was young (be the change you want to see and all that).

When my mom initially left, I did not blame her. I understood her needs. I still do. When she rejected me later, people told me I should hate her, because she was ‘doing it again.’ I defended her and said: No she didn’t reject me then. it was what she had to do. I believe this, especially as a feminist. As for now? True, I can’t explain it. The reasons she gave didn’t seem enough, but as I have learned, what seems ‘enough‘ is subjective. Likely for her, it was the last straw. You may ask; What could you have done that would be a last straw? But it’s not about actual wrongs, so much as perceived wrongs. If she perceived things I did in my childhood, to be a litany of wrongs, there could be a last straw. My therapist said this wasn’t true, as at some point people have to do the right thing, which she believed was being a mother to me, but that’s a judgement statement really, as not all of us are born to be mothers.

I don’t hate my mom, I never have. I don’t even think she hates me, I think she just can’t stand me. Which isn’t the same thing. And whilst yes, it will always hurt, especially if I outlive her, I know she did what she had to do (to live well) and I don’t put her in a demonized role, where I play the martyr. This frees me to live my life (yes, without a mom) and be glad of those positive things I did get from her (and there are so many). Literally a day doesn’t go by when something she did/said doesn’t cross my mind in a positive way. I may have wished for her approval, but deep-down I know I am every bit as good as she and do not need anyone’s approval to see that.

Going back to recent events: Narcissists especially, know exquisitely how to push boundaries, they are fat on the idea they’re terribly clever, when in reality they’re following a trope that most Narcissists follow. Often a Narcissist will disguise themselves as an empath even as they are the complete opposite. When I began to feel uncomfortable with intrusion and daily pushed boundaries, I bought into the idea if I did something I would: 1. Hurt them 2. Be incongruous to my ideas of being supportive.

I have learned that while I want to give to others what I most need, as a form of being that change I want to see, and a valuable human being (defined as, someone who helps others and cares) I don’t have to take it to an extreme. It is alright to step away from someone who doesn’t respect me. When I did, I was proud of myself, but they continued to disrespect and demand. Since not being in touch I have felt myself again. I didn’t even know how much they weighed on me until they were gone.

Those of us who do care for others, especially those going through hard times, through no fault of their own, are particularly vulnerable to abuse. When you carry your former abuse with you, you paint a target, unwittingly. Whilst it may be hard not to see through that abuse lens, I see how if I continue to define myself by my losses, disappointments, regrets, sorrows, I will probably live in that place.

This may seem patently obvious to those who do not struggle. But before you judge me, consider, when you suffer from depression it is hard enough to move through the world, let alone think of others, or do the right thing. Coupled with health issues and no family, it is easy to fall into the woe-is-me trap. I am endeavoring to do this less. I can’t say I will stop doing it, or not fall backward, but I am trying. That’s actually all I can do.

As for Narcissists, stalkers and people who play mind-games. Thanks to my aunt I think I have the wisdom to recollect who I was years ago, a strong little girl who gave to others, what she had needed, out of a pure heart. And combining that with an adult who knows people can abuse that kindness, have more boundaries and safety-guards in place, to prevent being taken advantage of again.

You make your own karma. I choose to make mine by caring for others, but not letting them trample me. Hopefully, as we give what we need, we also receive. I believe this. Having met some wonderful people here on WP. Thank you all.

(This doesn’t mean I’m quitting writing out feelings, good and bad. No recovery advocates shutting down those, they’re better exorcized).

And tell her to stay

cotton-in-braille

My mother sits on the side of the bed, it is 1980 or 1999 or never or sometime in the seventies or perhaps she’s not really there …

Her indent remains after the door closes, after the light is extinguished in the green hall way, where usually people go to sleep and she goes away, away, away …

Even then I could not see well, I squint into the half light, I look at the painted gypsy caravan wardrobe my parents picked up in a flea market before I was born, the cheap thin wood which now, years later, would be considered ‘antique’ – oh the absurdity of those things.

I think of them, crouching on elastic knees, abundant youth, painting, red and blue and yellow. I think of the song I learned in nursery about a rainbow, I think about gays appropriating rainbows later on and how ‘gay’ is not how most of us felt. How appropriation is always ironic.

When I began to stop wetting the bed, my father bought a calendar and stuck it on my wall, he would let me stick stars on the days I did not wet the bed, when I got enough stars he said, something great would happen. It had to be better than the machine I’d had the year before that ‘buzzed’ when I wet the bed and woke me up. I didn’t see how sesame seeds and electric buzzers would stop any child peeing in their nightmares.

A week later I opened my curtains, there was a stuffed toy rabbit on the windowsill, it was slightly damp from being there all night, and it smelt like fur and home. I still have it. It still has me. I never named it. How do you give a name to the earning of pain?

We lived in a basement, it was moldy in the Winter and cool in the Summer. I couldn’t see the sky, I grew to like the idea of living underground, of burrowing deep into the earth beneath city concrete, where the bodies murmured against river mud. I believed in Ghosts. Ghosts most certainly believed in me, they were my companions.

They shimmered past in half-light, caught in doorways and shining windows and dour corners. They contorted into devils by the astigmatism of my eye, becoming faces with fangs, fingers reaching upward. I wondered even then, why I feared the unseen more than the seen. Why what was not real felt more real than real? How ghosts could become my torment, when the world outside felt equally remorseless? Why not put them away and tackle that which existed? Perhaps that is exactly why. For a child who did not know how to make things right.

My wardrobe was little for a child, I was little for a child, my bones were plastic and breakable, they snapped when I folded myself tightly into corners, and the four cheap velour rabbits bought one Easter sat alert and watchful on the windowsill with a half moon shining in and lighting the face of the wardrobe into a grimacing creature.

The rabbits and I heard things. We saw things. Through bad eyes and deaf ears. The sound of my mother leaving, her presence skirting the room like a flamingo dancer, her lithe form, her long graceful arms with impossibly thin wrists, the smell of her on my skin because I was born of her, and then born not at all.

A clock did not exist on the wall, it did not tick down time, it did not remind us of what we had lost, it was not there, it left only the outline of its being like a circle set by sunlight on fading paint. A sundial without hands, without notion of time. Existing as planets exist, not realizing they circle the other.

My clothes grew tight as I elongated and sloughed the years, I kept an empty bottle of my mother’s eye make up remover by my bed, it smelt of her, as her hairbrush did, I wondered how she could live without her hairbrush. I did not wonder how she could live without me.

The tenants of the tall building were unhappy and they smiled a lot to cover it up. They said things like; We will be glad to look after your little girl. When my father cycled away, relieved, lighter, seeking a woman, seeking freedom, I stood on the doorstep and watched and the ache in my chest felt like a piece of lead piercing unnamed parts and I thought of my mother, how when she was my age she watched her parents sail back to Africa whilst she stayed still and I realized … how she and I were interchangeable and only the years were different.

Once, my mother said her mother put perfume on a handkerchief and left it for her and she kept it under her pillow. I kept my mother’s hairbrush under mine, it smelt of the oil of her curly hair, and the damp of my tears and the dust of time, sweeping her skirts along the empty floor.

I am alone now. As I was then. It feels the same. It feels worse because there is no illusion. Nothing like the future to hide behind and solace yourself with. No ‘things will be better when you grow up’ after you have grown up and realized they are not.

Again we are back in my bedroom. She is standing up. She is sitting down. The moment of her departure is fuzzy like my eye sight and I tell her, in years to come I will lose my eye sight and you will gain yours and my father will still be cycling away not knowing they piled on top of me and beat me to pieces, or that three little boys could throw marbles so viciously until a little girls heart burst and she ran away.

She turns to me and says something but it was twenty years ago. It was never. It was yesterday and I cannot see what she says or how she says it, to know if it was meant or just words spilled onto temporary carpet. I cannot know because she did not know, and our act was just a part of a grander outcome, both of us have forgotten and remembered many times since.

I love her in a way that slices through the fat and gets to the bone. I love her in a way I cannot articulate meaningfully but she knows and that’s the worst part, she knows. Maybe ever since I have found my father’s bicycle and learned to follow his trail, looking for her, looking for myself, seeking the way out of the high rise and the pinching boys and the ugliness that turns away when they see what is happening because maybe they are glad.

It is a day later, a year later, a decade past. We sit on roof tops in the weak sun and eat boiled sweets. Ants pick at our toes, dandelion’s die and float in their seed form to be wished upon and we leave them alone, already knowing, wishes are foibles.

You say it won’t hurt but it does and I knew it before it happened but I let it happen because of the ache inside that needed anything, even if it was pain.

The roof top is strewn with the debris of childhood, and my mother’s brush no longer smells of her, it goes through my hair like it was only my straight, boring hair it had to brush its entire life, as if she never existed and we did not sit on the bed together, the curtains closed nearly completely, only a hint of darkness spilling through.

If I had remembered I would have told her then, do not leave me when the time comes in twenty years, do not say goodbye a second, a forth, a nineteenth time. No matter what you think I have done, how disappointed you are in me, what disgust you hold in your heart. Instead remember this, the moment we sat quietly and I put my hand in yours and said it was okay and you cried and I cried from then until forever, without using my eyes or my ears or my mouth.

My father is cycling away from me, he is squinting ahead as if he sees something worth seeing, and I am turning, watching my mother close the door, asking that it be left open just a crack, to let the light in, hearing her steps in the corridor, not quite believing she will never come back. Because children always believe in magic. And Ghosts. And Monsters. And boys with marbles in their cheeks and demons in their eyes.

When I woke next to you and you asked me if I had a bad dream, I watched you as you sank back down into sleep and your hair fell across the pillow, the tangle and darkness of it against white linen. You could have been her, I could have been him, we could have never had a child, I ask you not to, please, do not, I don’t need to be born.

That’s why I was late, and why you struggled for 40 something hours in labor, they should have cut you, small as you were, small like me, but they didn’t, maybe it was cruelty, we have seen a lot of that in our life haven’t we and it wouldn’t surprise either one of us, or maybe it was the belief that women were strong enough no matter what, and we know that to be true also, even as we think it’s a damn shame sometimes.

You were strong enough and I was strong enough – to survive or endure but never really thrive – maybe you did – perhaps you were the only one who could – I had my eyes set on a future that never came, and a bicycle turning the corner, and my grandmother waving me from the street as I climbed the stairs to my class, and just as she turned to go, I ran back and I came outside and called her name and she said; Why aren’t you going to your classroom? And I wanted to say; Why would I go into a classroom? I’m not going to learn anything there? I have learned more here sitting on this bed, watching my mother leave, hearing her say things she did not say, wishing I were as powerful as the God of the wardrobe and not being able to eat my marzipan frog she brought me last. Because she gave it to me and I could not consume it and for it to be gone.

And you would have understood because you had your emotions close to your skin as I have, which makes you easily despised and sometimes admired. Because you were a coward as I have been, letting her be crushed by your absence and thinking it nothing at all, when you set sail again and again leaving her with a handkerchiefand a loneliness the size of Africa. I could not fill that loneliness although good God I tried many, many times, but when you break someone, you can put them back together, it does not mean they can hold anything you then pour into them.

She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw, and that from a child who didn’t yet know how to lie. I compare my lovers to her now. Wonder if they could beat her at chess and laugh because I know they could not. Think on how she managed to stay strong even in the harshest currents, when I cannot always stand without leaning. I look nothing like her, there is only sometimes in the cast of light, a glint of her in my eyes, looking back and when I see it, I ask her, why didn’t you spit me out before I was whole, so that you never had to be disappointed and I never had to lose you, then and now and never.

My grandmother taught me to swim in a basement, I dreamed the river would break its banks and my little home would be drowned. I dreamed my father was on the bottom bunk and I on the top and every time the water receded he was lifeless and I could do nothing, except scream impotently underwater for him to live. My grandmother died before I was old enough to let her know the truth, that I was not her grandchild but a water sprite dredged up from the river mud and set to swimming in dreams not of my own. That I had no parents but the marzipan figurines of night terrors and mares and I peed in my bed until I was too old to tell and old enough to lie.

Learning to swim was the only thing I learned fast and well, everything else came slow and difficult, just like trying to love someone who doesn’t love you, or expressing things too painful for words. I could sit with my parents and paint my wardrobe but I could never, ever, close the chink of light coming in from the slightly opened curtains, spilling on the floor where she walked across, soundlessly, growing dim and incomplete like the china dolls set back on a distant shelf somewhere.

Now I wear heavy glasses and even that is not enough, I cannot drive at night, I see things that are not there, and do not see what is. I think that is quite ironic really all things considered. My stomach hurts to think of how easily the brush goes through my hair, and how girls with curly hair never needed hairbrushes, so how hers became mine, seems like it always was, and the bottles she left behind were empty when she was here, when she was gone, when she never was.

If one day I am asked, I will say, I tried my best, I learned to swim well and I could pick up one of those weighted bricks from the bottom of the azure swimming pool but nobody came to see me swim so I did not compete well and soon I gave it up altogether. I will say I remember my grandmother running after a man who had broken in to watch us swim and bellowing at the top of her voice she scared him off, all 5’1 of her. I think my mother would laugh at that story, she has a wonderful laugh, it lights up her face and makes everyone else in the room join in.

We will not invite the shadows, we will not ask the ghouls or the disappointments to attend. We will stay the two of us, and wait it out. The past, the present and the future. We will talk on other things and not linger on those that prick and make us bleed. We will circumvent the pain like a sleeping lion and I will make her smile at my stories, the way I did once, once some time, some where. I have forgotten exactly when. The two of us, so alike and so different, sisters, strangers, with love the size of a river, with regret as deep as a drowning. Things never said on the tip of my tongue, burning with love, as we are quiet on the edge of the bed, with my mother about to leave and yet, still there, and me, always leaning, leaning towards her. Wanting to reach out. And tell her to stay.

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Protected: Des souvenirs fantômes

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Burning without fire — @ hijacked amygdala

Last night I scalded myself Mama and as the boiling water ran down my arm I saw you through the pain and you were smiling and everything was wrong how you are alive and yet gone, how you exist and yet don’t, how I was never right and somehow always mistaken If I don’t come […]

via Burning without fire — hijacked amygdala

Fear – Candice Louisa Daquin — FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

Fear for a child is very different to the adult and exactly the same the child inhabits another decade, in the past, another life before they knew they were who they become the child wets the bed because she misses her mother who is beautiful, ethereal, slender and absent the smell of her still lingers […]

via Fear – Candice Louisa Daquin — FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

Too many

What do father’s say

To their knock-knee daughters

Not able to sit on their lap and learn to shave

Their distant allegory

A return of themselves in female form

What would they?

A daughter born

Looks up at he who holds the world

Why do men let me drown Daddy?

Her eyes speak of hurt and scorn

Her belly wasted and torn

Why do they tell me I am no good for?

He who reaches

Into ether

Does not know the words for his daughter’s heart

He wants to break the necks of any who hurt her

But there are just

Too many

Short respite

When I wrote about the grief inside myself

It wasn’t me I described

But you

The two of you who made the me

And then like rice thrown at midday wedding

Scooped me up and put me to boil down

On a high flame with no watchers

I burned to nothing

Leaving a sticky rim around the pan

Reminiscent of starch and glue

Like your clothes always pressed, clinging to your neck in hot weather

Or the piles of things he began and disguarded

I stepped

Out of the hot pan

Walked through greese and debris

Every step I took something stuck

Bits of dirt, jam, floss and mud

Moments

Pressed like thirsty flowers to dry flat between books

What would you have done differently, with the benefit of heindsight?

Too late for that ironic idiom, pass the parcel

Til you’re the last without a chair and resolve is bare

Just a quick ticking heart, searching in shadow

Unended furniture where they left, in a hurry to escape, what they had yet to learn

I was hungry for you to care

But you birthed me on sweltering tarmac and took off

Your quickening feet on fire

I melted into pitch and asphalt, rising

Like a badly fixed road will buckle and bow, emptying hunchback, the misshapen and malformed

Limping its circumference at night, skin tapping, indigo beetle hide

Like a fantastical shaman with shaded eyes of a moth and fingers of water

Dips his fountain pen, scrawls my fate in runic blood

You who were ill prepared and unwilling, gave up the burden of your consummation

To thrive or drown, two choices thrown with skittering dice

Take your place at the wheel of Fortune, await your turn

When the heat of days lessens and short respite from hurting

Can be found

S.O.S.

28514640_10155366958932338_2887770778102742777_o324300484.jpgI wanted to

open my mouth as wide as it will go

no .. even

further

disarticulated and gaping

for maximum sound

a fog horn

and implore you

describing

the itch in my throat

the lump that turns to anchor

pulling me down to ocean floor

no oxygen, just humiliation

It says

Help me

I’ve never asked before

hot-faced and ashamed

I’m all grown up and lost

wandering toward your call

Help me

unpick my mistakes

return to the scattered fold

but every time I begin

something in your tone

heeds a warning

and I go back to

holding in

sore like spring cold

my throat is not meant for singing

it is a lump hardened by knowing

you will not hear.

(After becoming so sick I decided my only option would be to move back to a country with socialized healthcare. I basically said as much to my father, the first time I have ever asked him for help as an adult. I felt so guilty for asking. Some of my pride comes from being independent, not relying upon others. I find it hard to ask. But what was harder was his lack of response. I could blame many things, maybe he was in shock, maybe he didn’t know what to say. But parents are parents for life, if their child at any age needs help, and you know they may not be able to help themselves, I would think most would help them. Now I feel stupid, ashamed and embarrassed for asking. I hadn’t expected too much, just some type of support in moving back, if indeed a way could be found. But he stayed pretty negative, he doesn’t want to make an effort or get involved. I realized then I had long thought family meant we were all in it together, helping each other through this life, but it’s more ‘them’ and ‘me’. If I could, I would help myself. I’ve done it every other time. But being sick means you can’t always help yourself. There is no worse feeling than asking for help after feeling so bad for having to ask for help and then feeling absolutely ridiculous for having asked. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, it’s just challenging because it would be better if I could live in a country with socialized healthcare at this point, being swamped by bills I cannot afford. I suppose like many who do not have that option I will have to find another way. I don’t feel hard done by, I just feel like I don’t have that familial support that I half believed I could have, if I asked for it, that feels very lonely but also I feel stupid, for expecting, or asking anything of anyone, I wish I had the strength by myself but I just don’t).