The Beginning of the Ending- part eight.

The next morning I was out of the house by 6:00 AM because I was determined to find out where he was. Grabbing my car keys and getting into my car I went to go find his truck.  I was careless, I was reckless, I was a mess. I didn’t care. Nothing mattered besides my kids at that moment, but I knew that I was going off the deep end and I also knew that I had to be at least half sane to be a mother to my children. Lighting a cigarette, I rolled down the window and I started to drive down the road. As I drove past his mothers house I saw his truck in the driveway. I immediately pulled into a road and backed up and pulled into his mothers driveway. I got out of my car, not remembering opening the car door and walked into the house without knocking. All was quite. I walked through the kitchen, through the dining room and into my mother-in-law’s living room to find my husband on the couch sleeping. I was so hurt but at the same time I was so relieved that he was there and I hated myself for feeling relieved because I wanted to hate him so much. I wanted to ask him, what did I do that would make you do this to me? Was I not a good wife, was I not a good mother, was I not a good friend? Why did you do this to me for, but I didn’t ask him any of those questions. I looked into his eyes and I went to hug him, not understanding why I was doing that. He looked at me confused and tried to back away. I looked at him and I had such pain in my being because I didn’t understand why was he backing away from me when I did nothing to him. I walked towards him with confused and compassionate eyes. “Why are you backing away for me Joey?”, I asked. I began crying because I didn’t understand. Joey looked at me and said, “Let’s go home. “ He grabbed his keys off of his mothers table and we walked outside.

I never shut my car door and my car was still running. I backed out of his mothers driveway and drove home. I could see his truck in the rear-view mirror. Pulling into our home, the kids were still sleeping upstairs and I knew that they would be up soon for school. I didn’t want them to know what was going on so I got them dressed for school, made breakfast and smiled as I kissed them goodbye and prayed over them silently, asking God to please watch over them.

Joey was sitting in the living room on the couch, just staring at the wall. He looked a mess. He had new clothes on that he just purchased at the Dartmouth Mall I learned. I sat in the recliner across from him and there was total silence. I could hear the clock hand ticking. I looked over to the photo that I had been staring at the night before. Who were those two people in that frame? Because that sure was not me and that sure was not him in that picture, that was my false interpretation of what I thought our life was.

I looked around the living room, remembering us putting down those wood floors, installing the new windows, celebrating our home. We purchased our home when we were in our early 20s. We were hard workers and were planning on paying our home off in only 15 years. That was the one thing about Joey though, you know, I still to this day, have never known a harder-working man than my husband. He worked and still works hard, always doing side jobs, working overtime, we never went without because we were both determined to never have a life like what either one of us had had as a child, always a struggle. We didn’t want our children to have to face that. Every generation that comes is supposed to get better and you don’t see that much in life, but from a very early age, I was determined to make sure that if I had ever had kids and got married, that I wasn’t going to be like my parents, no way. Yet, there I was, at the 13 year mark, just like my mother was when she had decided that she had had enough of my father’s infidelity. I couldn’t believe I was sitting in my living room, at that moment, dealing with the same situation that my mother did at the same exact point in her marriage. It was like I was in a nightmare. It was like I was looking at somebody else’s life. It was like I had put on the TV and I was watching a movie of somebody else’s reality, but it wasn’t somebody else’s reality, it was my reality and I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to know that my husband was sitting across from me and I knowing that he had been with another woman. My own demeanor began to confuse me. Because at that moment, I did not know where the woman was that said, “not my marriage. ”

I wanted to yell at him, I wanted to hurt him as much as I was hurting in that moment. I wanted him to show some kind of emotion that he was a human being and that he had hurt another human being, but he didn’t have any reaction he just sat there. I felt like I was in one of those carnival houses where there was mirrors everywhere and I felt like it didn’t matter where I was going I couldn’t find my way out and I kept walking into my own grief. There was no escape and I didn’t want God. No, I was done. I had been strong for so long, for too long. I was 30 years old, feeling as washed up as the pulled away sand from the shore.

For years as a child, I needed to find a reason why my mother had abused me so bad. As a child, I needed to find a reason as to how my dad could have just walked out on his only daughter for another woman and to be with his buddies, just like my husband did. I had to try to find out what is it, that I did, that made this come to pass. I grew up with a tattoo in my brain that I was the reason why my parents got a divorce. I was the reason why my mother was so angry all the time, I was the reason why my dad didn’t want to come and see me. In that moment, I was every age within a one minute period. I felt the grief, the hardships, the self blaming and then I found myself in that same minute, saying how could anybody ever love me? I was nothing because everybody in my life that ever said they were supposed to care about me, hurt me. Every time I tried to put my trust in someone, they would hurt me. There comes a point in your life when you feel that you really are nothing. You really are not a good person because if you were, how is it that people can continue to be abusive?

“What’s going on?”, I asked. He would not look at me. “Where were you last night? “, I asked. After a long silence, he answered me “I was at my friends bachelor party. They had it at a pub.” I looked at him not saying a word and knowing that I wasn’t getting the whole story. The pain was too much in that moment that I couldn’t ask him if he was with another woman because I knew he would lie to me. I knew that I could have sat there and asked him continuously but I also knew that that ran a risk of him leaving, and instead of me thinking that I had done something wrong, I was afraid of that. I remember kneeling in front of him and wanting to hug him. I just put my head down and he grabbed me underneath my arms and pulled me up to him onto his lap. I began to cry, but I was so happy at the same time because I loved him so much, he was my everything. I had never loved a man in my life like that. Joey was my true and only love. I used to picture us growing old, taking walks together, having early dinners together and playing with our grandchildren. He looked into my eyes and said to me, “I’m just going through some stuff right now Melissa. But I love you and I have to get ready for work, please go eat some thing because you’re getting thinner.”

I was getting thinner because my stress levels were out-of-control. There were times when I would just drink tea and coffee trying to get through eating one package of peanut butter crackers a day. I was so sick to my stomach that eating became a cross for me.

To this day, even as I sit here and write this, I’m not sure why my reaction was what it was – not being angry with Joey. I was joyful that he was still there, that he didn’t leave and I don’t know if it’s because I thought that he was choosing me over her and in my ignorance and being naïve, I accepted that truth because I really believed that truth – that he chose me over her and I could live with that, I told myself, even if that was a lie.

The Summer was coming to a close and Autumn was on the horizon. My favorite season. In my neighborhood, I was known as the lady who decorated her home for every single occasion and the Autumn was the time that I went completely out, even more than Christmas, because the Autumn would bring several months of celebrations. I would celebrate from September 1 through November. I always ordered craft kits for the months of September, October and November because every single Sunday we would sit down as a family and we would do autumn decorations and crafts. I always made a special dessert on Sundays during the Autumn and a special dinner because I loved family and because I hadn’t had this kind of a family life as a child, I was family oriented as a mom and as a wife. There was no greater joy than sitting down with my children and doing crafts and having a beautiful Sunday dinner. I established something when the kids were young that was called ‘Family Sunday Night’ and we would set aside 2 to 3 hours on a Sunday. We would have a family meeting where we would all go around the room and talk about the past week, the goals, the trials, and we each shared some thing with one another that we were thankful for from each other. I would read from the Bible passage and then we would talk about the passage and what each one of us thought the passage meant and how can we attribute it to our lives. After that, we would hold hands together as a family and we would each say a prayer and we thanked God for His goodness. I lived for Sundays because it was so beautiful to be together as a family. That year, Joey was not around for much of the Family Sunday nights and when he was present, he was absent.

The next few weeks were difficult. Many inconsistencies with Joey’s schedules, missing hours from his paycheck that he said he was going to find out what happened because he had worked those hours, to him coming home late from playing soccer and me not saying anything because I didn’t want him to leave, and I thought as long as I didn’t ask him where he was and I believed everything that he said, he would stay. I learned to not question where he was because it would make him upset and I didn’t want to make him upset.

The kids were doing good in school, they were happy and in afterschool sports. Andrew was playing soccer and Ryan was working. I was working quite a bit and happy. But there was always this incomplete feeling inside. I was left with a forced truth that my husband was not cheating on me and I had to accept that truth because in reality, there was no hard-core evidence, even though I knew different.

I would go on to make sure to have his clothes out every night, to making sure that he had ironed clothes for work the next day, to having his dinner ready for him as soon as he walked through the door on the table with something to drink and I thought if I just kept doing all of those things, I would be perfect in every way and I did do these things while I was working, taking care of the kids, taking care of the home, taking care of the bills, taking care of everything that had to be taken care of and during that time I also ran myself into the ground with my health.

I was in the busy season at my job and I was working 13 to 14 hour days, having just enough time to get home with takeout. Sitting with the kids and doing their homework and then having to clean my home to making school lunches for the kids I would have just enough energy to wash my kitchen floor at 10 o’clock at night because I was not going to allow my home to get out of control and to know that I could have a few things in control, like being able to keep on my home schedules, that was important to me.

I remember as a child, my mother was always meticulously clean. Our home was always in order and there was never a dirty dish in the sink. The floors were always beautifully clean. Mom put baby powder in our sneakers at night so they would be fresh for us in the morning. That was the interesting thing about Mom, that was that while she was savagely abusive, she also kept our home beautiful. But along with that clean home came ways that were very unhealthy. When I was 10 years old and living in Walpole Massachusetts mom would have some really bad days and sometimes things were just not clean enough for her. 

Mom sent me to my bedroom to go clean it one day and I always loved to clean my bedroom. It was something that brought me great joy and happiness because I really liked everything that I had in my bedroom. I had my ponies and my Strawberry shortcake dolls, my Cabbage Patch kid dolls and accessories. I enjoyed my unicorns and just keeping my room in a nice clean order. 

I never knew when mom was going to have a really bad day and I remember on that day, she didn’t seem to be too upset but I could tell that she was agitated about something and so when she sent me to my room I was happy because I didn’t have to be in her presence because I just never knew when the tide was going to turn with her. Mom could be very sweet to me one moment and then in the very next moment she would change. I would see that look in her eye. She would be good to me for a day or two and then the next 3 to 4 days would be horrific and she would always change very quick and I understood that this was part of her having severe bipolar which back in the day was called Manic Depressive.

I cleaned my bedroom as I always did, making sure that everything was nice and neat and in order. I didn’t check inside of my bureau drawers because they generally were kept nice and neat. I knew what mom liked and what was important to her and I wanted to make sure that I could please her. Taking a quick look at my bedroom and making sure that everything looked nice, I looked at my white walls with the unicorn posters and my white bedspread with the rainbows on it. My furniture was white and I really liked my bedroom. I thought it was pretty. I was very proud of my bedroom. Feeling confident, I went out into the hallway and looked for mom, she wasn’t there so I went downstairs into the kitchen. Mom was standing by the stove cooking and I’ll never forget the song that she was listening to, “Holding Onto The Years” by Simply Red. “Hey mom, my room is all set for inspection.” I looked at her and said. She didn’t turn around. She just kept stirring whatever was in the pot. “Mom?”, I asked in a hushed tone. Oh no, I thought.

Mom would not turn around to look at me, she just kept stirring whatever was in the pot. I looked at her back and just put my head down and walked away into my bedroom. I was not expecting mom to go into my bedroom that day to come and check on my room, but she did about 10 minutes later. 

“Hi mom. “, I said smiling. I looked to her face. She was not smiling. I remembered swallowing hard but there was nothing there to swallow because my mouth was so dry from anxiety. I looked around my bedroom really quick to make sure that there was nothing even showing from underneath my bed. I knew there wasn’t because I inspected every inch of my bedroom because I knew what was to come if my bedroom was not clean. I was very proud and very sure that she was going to be happy with me and my bedroom. I even cleaned my door knob on the way out with Windex and a paper towel to make sure that it was very shiny. “What’s this Melissa?”, Mom asked me. I looked to her hand to see where she was pointing and she was pointing at my pink backpack with the black straps that was sitting in the middle of a chair in my room. I looked at it and I said, “I’m sorry mom, I’ll put that into the closet now. “

I walked past mom hoping that she was not going to hit me, because usually she would take a strike but she didn’t do that this time and I thought maybe she was happy with me. The last bedroom inspection went pretty good.

Mom opened up my bureau drawers and in that moment I knew I was going to be in trouble because one of my draws was not exactly as it should’ve been, the way that she wanted it to be and I remember that it was the drawer that my pajamas was in. I always had a hard time folding my long pajamas because they were long and so I would traditionally roll them after I tried to fold them to fit everything into my drawer but I knew that mom didn’t like that.  I was afraid because I saw the look in her eyes and I knew that it was not going to be good, whatever was going to happen. So I prepared myself to get hit but mom didn’t hit me this time. Instead, mom would open up each one of my bureau draws and she would throw all of my nice neatly folded clothes out of my draws and into the middle of the floor, she did this with all six of my draws. I watched her as she threw all my clothes on the floor aggressively in a pile. Then I watched her take my nightstand apart and she dumped what was in my nightstand into the pile and then I watched her take all of the sheets off of my bed and my blankets and she threw that into the pile that was on the floor. I watched her open my closet and she took everything out of my closet and then she took all my toys that I had fixed so nice and my ponies and she threw them all into the pile that was in the middle of my floor. “Now young lady, get this room cleaned the way that it supposed to be cleaned. “, She said and she slammed the door behind her. I stood by my bed and looked at the pile that was literally as tall as I was and I stood there as tears rolled down my eyes and I started at the top of the pile and began to hang my clothes back up on the hanger but this time I had to make sure that they were just perfectly right because I was so scared of her coming in and saying that maybe my shirt was crooked to the point that I almost wanted to get out my ruler to make sure that all sides were even so she would be happy. I painfully put everything back, twice as neat as I did the first time when I cleaned my room and the whole thing took me four hours to do. The last thing that I did was to finish making my bed and I walked around my bed several times to make sure that everything was nice and neat and that I made the hospital corners just right on my bed. I looked around my room, even more perfect and I was very proud of it, but I had been proud of it before. I opened up my bedroom door and I walked out. I remember I was shaking and I was nervous. I walked up to my mother and I told her that my bedroom was done and did she want to come in and inspect it. She looked at me and followed me into the bedroom. I was waiting for her to find some thing wrong but praying that she would be happy with my room. I waited for her to go check inside of my drawers and the closet remembering that it was my bureau drawers that made her upset. Mom didn’t look inside the closets. She never saw how neatly that I hung every shirt and every pair of pants. She never saw how I straightened my shoes just perfectly in the bottom of the closet. She never saw how each of my stuffed animals was sitting neatly – even the bunny rabbit ears were nice and sticking up. She never looked into my draws. She never looked under my bed. She never complemented about how nice that the bed looked. She didn’t say anything she just said that it looked okay and she walked out of the bedroom. When she left, I just remember sitting down to play with my ponies but this time I couldn’t really play with them, so instead I held them very close to my face and I remember crying into my ponies mane and the silky hair was absorbing my tears because I needed somebody to hold me and to comfort me and I had my ponies and I had my dolls and I grabbed them and I laid in the middle of my floor in a fetal position making sure to not make any noise but I cried so much that afternoon I cried without making any noise but I cried to the point that I fell sleep on my floor. I just could never get anything right it seemed, no matter how hard I tried, and there I was, years later, with my husband, trying to make everything perfect and I didn’t get it because what was I doing wrong? How come I couldn’t get anything right? That would go on for years with the way I felt with never being able to be good enough for anybody. 

Christmas was coming and I was sure that everything was going to be perfect and our marriage was getting better I said.

…. December 31, 2005 would prove to be the worst nightmare of my life…. to be continued

Every time I ran from Him, I ended up at the front door, to only open it – and see Him standing in my doorway. I could never escape Him.

(continued from last nights blog)… I slept eyes wide open, but the mattress was too kind and after soaking half of my pillow with tears and flipping it to the other side, I must have drifted off because I woke up to the sun blaring in my eyes. Thinking what a bad nights sleep that was, I then instantly remembered. I remembered picking up the phone, so happy, no more than 24 hours ago, that summers afternoon, just getting home from work and taking a fresh shower and slipping into a sundress – I had just finished spritzing on my perfume, when I picked up the phone – and Joey told me that he wasn’t coming home – that he needed a break.

Sitting up and looking over at the clock, 6:25 AM. I had slept for less than three hours. My pillow was still wet and then I realized that what I thought had been a bad nights sleep, was reality. It was my reality. I had fallen asleep in my sundress. I didn’t want get out of bed and so I laid back down, feeling dizzy. I turned to the right and I grabbed the pillow that Joey would have been sleeping on and I embraced it so tightly. I was curled in a fetal position on my bed. I had just turned 30 years old and I knew that I had been through the ringer too many times. At that point, in that moment, I was damaged goods and I knew it. I knew that I was two steps away from selling my soul to the devil to get rid of the pain that I was feeling in that moment or that I was going to be on my way to sainthood by trying to get through this – because I could no longer take what God was dealing to me in my life. I couldn’t do it anymore and every time I would say I couldn’t do it – I knew that I was going to keep moving forward – but this time – this time – I was a different kind of tired. I thought about my kids and I thought about how I really probably wasn’t being the best kind of mother that I could’ve been because in reality, sometimes I felt like that little girl standing in front of my bed when I was seven trying to change the channel in my head to make everything stop. To make the screaming and yelling of my parents stop. To stop the sounds of the things being thrown in the kitchen, to wanting to hear and praying for tornadoes to go through because there was a cyclone in my life every day and there was never a time of peace and here I was 23 years later, I still had no peace. I was still struggling. I was still suffering. I was still waiting on that promise that God showed me when I was 17 years old. I wanted to call out to God in that moment, “Where are You? Are You really real? Have I been taken for? Are You a fantasy God? Are You someone that just makes people feel better, to get through a bad day like my bad day right now?” I wanted to ask Him all of those questions, but I didn’t want Him to answer me because I didn’t want to hear the truth. Because every time that I did pray for an answer, I got it and He was always right and I knew what He would tell me to do in that moment and I didn’t want to do it. I reasoned with myself that He lied to me again. He let me down again. I’m here again crouched, crying again God. Will it never stop God? It will never stop, right God? When is it ever going to stop? Because how much more God? How much more?! I was so angry with God. I was so angry with Him! I was alone again. I was alone. I was alone because I wanted to be alone and I cried so badly because the pain was too much. I could smell his aftershave on the pillow and I embraced it because I was so confused because I didn’t understand what was going on. The man that had just made love to me that morning and as we kissed each other goodbye he said that he would see me that afternoon for a dinner that we had planned while his mother was going to take the kids for us.

For 13 years, I awoke and fell asleep next to my husband. But this morning, this morning I was waking up to a new reality I did not think I would ever experience. When Joey and I first met, we spoke about our lives. He told me about his life and I told him very little about mine. The only thing I told him was about my father and mother, explaining to him that my fathers extramarital affair did irreversible damage to my mother, when what I wanted to really tell him was that while it did irreversible damage to her, it’s damage to me was beyond my own comprehension.

I would’ve rather my mother been suffocating me again, causing me to die than to have lived through an affair. You see I was that woman who just would make everything work. It didn’t matter what it was – give me a challenge and watch me rise to the top. I was the woman that would wear white gloves while putting Ketchup on a burger. I would just make it work, and I was truly flawless every time. As a child, when your innocence is taken away from you, again, and again, and again, in every kind of abuse that a child can endure, you learn construction in destruction, you learn to build your foundations out of tungsten. But this time, this morning, I didn’t have the welts from my mothers beating from the night before. No. I didn’t have anything to feel and that was the scariest thing to me in the world because I was left with my rawness. I was left with the truth that I gave a man 13 years of my life and during those 13 years of our life, there was more chaos than there was peace. Our first date did not work out as Joey had to work late that evening and no call to tell me that he could not make it. Our second date would not be because his parents had taken away his car from him and he wasn’t allowed out – no call and the third date, I believe that he knew that he was about to lose me and I believe I learned something about myself that day as well too.

I had just turned 17 years old. We were working together for several weeks but never spoke to each other. One of his friends came up to me one day and told me that there was a guy who was interested in me and was wondering if I was dating anyone.

I wanted to laugh and tell him to tell Joey that I was only steps away from entering into a Convent, but I didn’t say that, because I remembered sitting in that first pew and talking to God and understanding that I was going to marry and that I was going to have children and that I was not going to have what I wanted but I was going to have what He needed me to have. I also understood that the choice would be mine to either decide to walk with God or to go down my own path and while the rebellion in me walked away from God – it seems – 1000 times – down my own path …He would never leave me. I tried to run from Him. Every time I ran from Him, I ended up at the front door, to only open it – and to see Him standing in my doorway. I could never escape God. He was always Present. Always right there. I always felt His Presence. I could shun Him and He just would not leave me and I felt angry in that moment, lying in that bed, I felt angry that He was there because I didn’t understand how can you love someone so much and see them go through so much hurt and not try to stop it. It was nonsensical. God knows that I am His feisty daughter and He knows that I fight Him on everything and then He knows I love Him like anything and He knows I would go to each corner of the earth and slay every demon for Him, and we have always had that kind of a relationship. The broken girl in love with Jesus. The Love of her life, hanging on a Crucifix, just as bloodied and broken as she was. My Bloodied King with The Crown of Jewels, shining so brightly, reflecting what is to come, cover me, complete me.

Jesus is the only Man that can break me and hurt me so badly with a clear understanding that pain is part of breaking myself of my own will – to conform to His.

I got out of bed and went into the bathroom. Looking at myself in the mirror, the eyes that were in the mirror were reflecting a woman’s soul that was nonexistent.

I started having flashbacks when I was in high school and being judged by girls who didn’t even know me. I was being judged because of the way that I looked. Because of the way that God made me. I never understood that. How can another woman judge another woman by the way that she looks and they don’t even know who she is? Because she put some make up on and she dresses nice? When was that ever a crime? And so I suffered in every area of my life because when I tried to have friends all was well until their boyfriend would meet me and I was always respectful. I wasn’t stupid, I knew what I was dealing with. I grew up with a mother that lived it and dealt with the same exact thing but she took it to the extreme wrong while I took it to the other extreme trying to avoid any of my friends boyfriends and sometimes it would work out, and sometimes it would not. And when it would work out it would be great and when it was bad, it was bad. I was in high school one day, walking with my friend and I hear coming from behind me “You’re a disease, Brian.” I turned around to look and this girl was making a scene because her boyfriend was staring at me with his friends and he turned around and told her, “and she’s my cure.” So even though I did nothing to provoke – I couldn’t have friends because even that was tainted by who people thought I was.

At the age of 13, a man who was 21 took my innocence away while he held a butcher knife to my neck and I have to wonder if it was part of a generational curse because the same exact thing happened to my mother at the same age but she ended up pregnant and having a child and then giving the child up for adoption. I did not become pregnant, but what would follow for years to come would be difficult.  The person who did this to me was brought to justice.

My mother taught me about being a lady, but she never taught me how to protect myself, how to look out for certain signs and my father did not either. I was left alone to figure those things out on my own. I trusted too easily. This man who did this would tell me that he didn’t believe that I was that young because I was too beautiful to be only 13, but I was only 13 and I was always told since I was young that I looked older than I was as a teenager and as I’m older – looking younger than I am as an adult. The same thing that my mother dealt with. I couldn’t escape anything in life it seemed because I looked like my mother, I was abused by my mother, I was abused by my mother up until the day that she passed away. My mother taught me without telling me how a young girl was really supposed to be. And I learned it by watching every single thing that she did and I made sure to do the opposite of that. I was 11 years old, in the McDonald’s parking lot with my mother. We had just finished playing with the balls inside of the McDonald’s little gym area. I was so happy to have my happy meal cheeseburger and my favorite thing in the meal that day was A little pony and I knew I was going to be adding that pony to the corral with the rest of my other pony’s.

All of my Chapstick was taken off by my cheeseburger happy meal. And so before I got into the car with my mother, I took out my cherry Chapstick and my strawberry shortcake mirror and I began to put my Chapstick on as I was looking in the mirror. As I was done, I looked up and I saw my mother looking at me and she was smiling. I wasn’t too much shorter than my mother but she was still taller than me so she was looking into my eyes and smiling. And I knew that smile because that was an admiration smile that I would only see once in a while and that was when she was looking at something that she was happy with. “Honey, look over there. “Mom said. I raised my eyes to see what Mom was looking at and mom was looking at two men that were outside of a truck. I looked and they looked like my dad’s age. I looked back at my mom and was quizzical and she said, “Honey, they are looking at you because you’re putting on your Chapstick, they like that.” I was 11 and I knew that what she was saying was not right because those men looked the age of my dad and I looked at my mother with caring eyes because I was already in the stage of protecting her, as I had seen her go through several bipolar episodes and I understood at the age of 11 to not take account of what it is that she was saying.

From that moment on, something in me changed to be sure that I would always dress as conservatively as I could. I was in the fifth grade, Mrs. Netos class and I used to get to school early so I could help the teacher get the class work assignments ready. I absolutely loved being in the classroom and being with my teacher and helping her to get everything prepped for the day. And she was so kind to me and she had so much patience for me. And I remember the people in my life that had patience for me. I remember when times got hard with my mother she was one of the teachers that I was able to confide in and I remember she was the only teacher that I was able to cry in front of. For me to cry in front of somebody, it was a vulnerability to me and I either crucified myself afterwards for being vulnerable or I thanked God that He allowed me to be vulnerable in that moment but it was always black-and-white, there was no gray area. I either trusted or I didn’t.

As the students walked into the classroom, my back was turned and I was standing in front of the taupe tall steel cabinet. I was sorting the paperwork to get them stapled and I heard one of my friends say, “Is that a substitute teacher?” I was not a substitute teacher but they thought I was because of the way that I dressed. After that incident happened with my mother I made decisions to do everything to not be anything like her -especially when I knew that what she was doing was wrong. When I heard my friends say that, in my heart, I had already known that I wanted to be a teacher from a young age. To be able to teach somebody something they never knew before, whether that be a skill, or a poem, or if somebody just needed to know their worth, I was there, because I had a storehouse of love to give and I had a shipyards storage for everybody’s grievances so I would give and then take. I would give and then I would take and I would walk away always taking something from them and carrying it with me to lighten their load.

I could never lighten my own load in life. And I was faced with this reality.

I walked back into the bedroom and opened up Joey’s bureau drawer and under his socks I found a card for a divorce lawyer.

…. to be continued.

The Numbed Soul

… (continued from prior blog) The Summer of 2005 would come and go. Mom went back to Milford and I stayed on Cape Cod. That Summer would be the year that my life would forever change as I knew it. My marriage was changing, I knew it, my husband knew it. Our children were beginning to feel things, to hear things. My sons would walk past me and glance a little longer in my eyes and I was making extra trips to the drugstore to buy eyedrops to take away the red from sleepless nights and repressed tears.

I was in a glass house. I was in a glass house where there was no transparency. A sublime state between sanctity and insanity. I was living life by just purely existing. I could not escape my reality. I could not change what was happening. I could not run from the truth. I wanted to unzip my soul from my body and give it back to God before I unintentionally would hurt Him because I no longer cared anymore. I was the good girl my whole life, always following by the rules, no drinking, no drugging, the girl who would give her shirt off of her back to the person that was sticking the knife in her side.  The good girl who always dressed sweet, the good girl that would bake cupcakes and cookies for everybody because she loved to see people happy and smile. The neighborhood Mom who the neighborhood kids would come over and was known as the candy lady because she always gave candy and snacks and sweet treats – and I did all of these things because nobody would do them for me – and I gave, and I gave, and I gave so much to the point that when I looked behind me I couldn’t find me anymore. I was distributed among different people. People who in reality, would have never given me a moment of their time – but I always gave a moment of my time because I knew what it was to be alone. So I filled all those empty spots in my life with kindness and love – to give away, only to have the recipients take, and take, and take. I wanted to be reckless. What my heart did not want to accept was something that my soul already knew. I had reached a point where I knew that something broke in me. I had to escape my own skin because to be in it one moment longer was unbearable.

I met Joey when I was 17 years old. I was working two jobs. Not having a car, I had to walk everywhere and so I would walk miles and miles a day in the morning after weekday Mass to get to my first job which was cleaning a high end resort on Cape Cod. After my job was done at 3:00 PM, I would walk to my second job which was in retail. When that job ended at 9:00 PM I would walk home. I had only known hard work my entire life, so working two jobs was something that made me happy. I enjoyed being independent and making my own money. I relied on no one as I had my entire life. When I needed groceries, I would go food shopping and I would have to carry them home and walk miles just to get home. When my laundry had to be washed I walked my laundry down to the laundromat and then walk it back home. I never once felt bad for myself because this was normalcy to me. Independence became my drug. I craved it. I needed it for control, because everything else in my life was out of control, my independence grew in my DNA and in the end it would overtake my being. For me to rely on someone was weakness and in my early 30s, God had had quite enough of my ways.

September 2005, the kids went back to school. Ryan began the seventh grade and Andrew was in the first grade. A new beginning for the children as Ryan was starting junior high and Andrew was a first grader. It was an exciting time for the kids and to see their joy carried me a lot that Autumn going into the Winter.

Six weeks prior to the beginning of school that September, I would get a phone call from Joey. “I need some time.” , he said. Thinking that he was being funny, I asked him over the receiver, “What are you saying? “ ”I’m not coming home tonight.”, Joey said. “Excuse me?”, I asked, my mind racing and my heart beating out of my chest. Silence on the other end of the line. “Joey?”, I said in a hostile voice, “what is going on?”  I began thinking to myself that this was not really happening. I must have walked in on someone else’s life in that moment because as I was standing in my bedroom, holding the cordless phone in my hand, I was completely nauseated. The biggest fear of my life was happening in that moment. The reality that I was feeling for almost a year, every sign that I had seen, every late work day, every call sent to voicemail too quickly, hit me like a Cyclone and I had nothing to hold onto in that moment. I was completely alone. I was completely alone because I was insistent on being completely alone. I looked to the Crucifix on my wall and I looked into the Eyes of Jesus Christ. I raised my eyes to the ceiling and I bit my bottom lip wanting to taste my own blood as hot tears streamed down my eyes and there was nothing in me. I was not human in that moment. I was nonexistent. My life had never been. I was being sucked into this black despair and I didn’t care. I wanted to take the hand of darkness, I wanted to feel what It felt like to be every single person that hurt me, how do you become like that? I wanted to know, I needed to know, because I need to become that person. I wanted to take the Devil’s hand and to tell him OK this time you can have me because Heaven cannot be worth this much pain. 

”Do what you have to do Joey.”, I said and hung up the phone. Grabbing my Marlboro Lights and going out to the deck I lit a cigarette and by the time I was done with that cigarette I was going onto my second one. I didn’t remember smoking the first one, only going in for the second one. I looked over to the fence in my yard, a weathered Cape Cod gray. I looked over to the right, beautiful gazebo. I looked to the lush florals that Joey and I had planted as a couple, the flowers that would bloom every year, the plants that we purchased together for our anniversaries. The dreams, the promises, the lies, the deceit. Me thinking that if I was just the perfect wife. I thought that I was the perfect wife because people would tell me that I was. The wife who would cook meals for her family every night, who worked a full-time job and took care of her children. A home that was always clean, children that always had ironed clothes and good mannerisms. I was two steps away from a Stepford Wife.

I walked back into the house and I made dinner for Ryan and Andrew. Not a tear fell. Smiles that were truly genuine when I looked at my children. I was being held up by angels when I look back because that night would not turn out to be the worst night of my marriage. That night would come on December 31 of 2005.

“Hey Mom, do you have a second? “, I spoke into the receiver. “Of course baby girl, what’s going on? “, Mom asked. The kids were sleeping in bed and I walked back outside on my deck, lighting another cigarette. “Mom “he’s not coming home tonight. “, I said trying to maintain a steel demeanor. I was desperate for someone to tell me that I was not a bad person, that I was a good wife, that I was a good mother, that I was just a good person. I needed to know that I was human. I needed to know that I was visible. I wanted to know if I was worth fighting for. I was desperate to know if I was worth living. I didn’t understand, perhaps there was a sign on me that was invisible – that I was not aware of – that kept on saying, “hurt me, hurt me, because I will always come back.” And I knew that that was the truth – that was my reality. I wanted to know if I was worth fighting for. Was there anything good about me?

“Melissa, what? “, Mom asked. Sipping on Bacardi and Coke and lighting another Marlboro light, I put my palm to my head and rested my elbow on my knee. I heard the mosquitoes around me and they were so loud, the crickets seem to have been singing this insane instrumental orchestra. Everything was so loud in that moment. All the sewing back of myself that I had done, was coming unloose. I felt the breeze going through me and I pictured the wind opening up the seams of the sewed back broken girl. And I was okay with that. I no longer was the woman that I was earlier that afternoon. I was in a moment of surrealities. My husband was in the arms of another woman. I was sitting on my deck, selling myself for an emotional need as I was settling for the woman that I know would give me the worst advice in the world. I understood that I was signing a disclosure the moment that I decided to pick up my phone and dial her number. I didn’t care. Why not go back to the root of the problem? Why not believe all of the lies that she had said when I was a child because my husband was not seeing me as any better than my mother was supposed to and the two people who were supposed to love me the most, well, if I was bad in their eyes, then my reality was was that I was truly nothing and I accepted that nothingness in that moment. I was defeated. I was tired. I was lost in that moment. I didn’t ask for God in any of those moments that day.  I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be loved anymore. Love came at too high of a price, my entire life. That price tag became too much to hold on to. My whole life, I was trying to live for everybody else but myself. I felt disintegrated. I was dandelions in the wind. I was absence in presence. I was arriving to only depart. I wanted to become carefully careless. I was dying every day of my life to only live in a hellish reality of wanting to enter into an exit. There was nothing left of me in that moment. The pain was so deep and the feeling was too painful.  

Opening the slider door, walking inside and looking around my living room, I saw the photos of the happy faces hanging in frames. My eyes went to a photo of Joey and I. I sat there in that moment and stared at that photo from the slider. Remembering that afternoon that we smiled so much in the photo and believing that love was real. Believing that God had really kept His Promise to me, after so many years of a painful life. After me deciding to not enter a Convent to become His Bride. I had a flashback to when I was 17 years old, sitting in the first pew at my Church and telling God, “Yes God, if You choose for me to get married and have children, I want only what you want and may Your Will be done in my life.”

I walked through my home and turned off all the lights and walked up the stairs to my bedroom. As I walked into the bedroom I looked at our bed. I looked at the bed that had conceived our children. I looked at the bed that I shared with the man that God had chosen for me. I looked at Joey’s clothes that I had gotten ready for him and were sitting at the end of the bed in a nice neat pile as they always were for him. I walked over to the clothes and put them away. I went over to my bureau drawer and grabbed my clothes for a shower. As I was closing my draw I looked up and my eyes met the Crucifix. I stood in front of Jesus Christ completely still in my body and I looked at His Broken Body and then I felt my own brokenness and I felt nothing. There was nothing there. No emotion When I looked at the Crucifix. I then looked to my reflection in the mirror. Nothing. I felt nothing and I was okay with that. 

I went in for a shower and then got dressed. I walked to the side of my bed and looked at the made bed, knowing that my husband should be in that bed, but understanding that that night – he was in the bed of another woman. I knelt down by the side of my bed and only got halfway down and then I stood back up and got into bed. I did not want to talk to God that night and it would be many weeks until I would speak to Him again.

(my husband and I discussed this part of the blog and the publishing of it. ”It is part of your journey, you need to write it.”,Was his response.)

… to be continued

The Summer Of 2005 – The Beginning Of The Ending Part VI

It was the Summer of 2005 and Cape Cod was as beautiful as ever with it’s intoxicating beaches full of golden flecked sands and tremendous waves. I watched as waves assaulted a woman by the shoreline. The older lady with the yellow bucket hat sitting in a white striped chair was smiling out at the ocean. I looked to the side of her face. What great laugh lines, I thought. I looked at this woman with white cool-offs that went just below her knees. She sat deep in her chair and her legs and feet planted cooly in the wet shore sand. Glistening rocks reflected the women’s pearl shimmer nail polish on her toes. I looked to her hands. Wisdomatic, I thought. Her nails matched her toenails. I admired a hue of lavender and thought about the new bedspread I bought to cover Moms bed for when she came to visit me for her annual fourth of July weeks vacation to Cape Cod. I saw the view of a mini size wave coming towards the shore. A childish smile came across the womans face as I viewed her from my fluorescent pink towel that had a cool blue sailboat floating off into an orange and pink hued sunset that was reflecting a washed out green palm tree branch. The wave came in and went just below her knee. So close, I thought. I looked to her pants again to see splattered ocean water making a darker pool of white on her white cool-offs.

“Hey Mom!”, yelled Andrew. “Hey babe, how was your swimming lessons?” I asked him as he was running full speed towards my towel and specks of sand began to fly at my leg. “Did you see me swim, Mom?!”, Andrew asked with a hoping smile. “Yes, babydoll, I did. Those waves have nothing on you honey.”, I said, as I grabbed his sandy towel, shook it free from all the sand and reached up to him to embrace him in his towel. “So, we have to go food shopping because nannys coming down tomorrow.”, I said. “But first ice cream Mom?”, Andrew asked with a cheesy smile on his face. I looked at him and raised my eyebrow, “Listen, good thing your cute kid. Yes, let’s go!”, I said.

Standing in the deli line at Stop & Shop, I looked at the nine people in front of me. Give me patience Lord, I prayed. I was going over the ten lists I had in my head while looking at the one list I had in my hand. Half paying attention to nothing, I looked at the strawberries from my spot in the deli line. Nice and plump. My eyes went to the blueberries making mental notes about the the traditional Fourth Of July cake. Cool Whip and this year will be a premade pound cake, I thought. Looking to the deli case, I scanned for Liverwurst. There it was. Mom loved Liverwurst. I tried it once and never had to buy a pound and a half , only one to get her through the week. I decided on honey ham. We would have our lunches on the deck of my home on Cape Cod and the Islands. Falmouth is across the ocean from Martha’s Vineyard. When one lives in a town for a good part of their life, one takes their town for granted. I was growing tired of Cape Cod. My soul longed for New Hampshire. I spent Summers in August running through the woods of the Dolly Copp Campground, exploring the brooks, playing with little creatures I would find as I would go off on my own. What freedom I had that one week in the woods every Summer. The adventures! The pure joy! The sheer delight of looking up to the Sun with my eyes closed and letting the heat warm my face. I would smile to the Sun when I was alone. As I sat next to the flowing brook I would touch the water and feel life flowing. I was free. I was so alive. I didnt think about the abuse that I knew I would have to go to when I went home with Mom. I was free in that week. When I would pass by the Old Man On The Mountain, I looked at him. I threw my heart to him and told him to hold it and I will take it back when I see him next Summer. The Dolly Copp Campground I went to as a child, my Dad always chose the best spot. I would awaken to unzip my tent and see The Old Man Of The Mountain greeting me to a new day full of possibilities. I would draw on these Summers in moments of needing to escape days when Moms abuse began to become heavier. I was eight and pleaded with God to please let me live in the White Mountains when I was all grown. Nature was my medicine as a child and as an adult, even more so.

I loved to be alone in nature from the time I was a baby, even when I got lost in the woods of Maine at the age of two. No one could find me, but when a Priest was called in after dark and prayed,  I was found in a spot by my Dad that evey rescue crew had already footed. I was clean and smiling, I was told.

“Hi.”, I said to the young man behind the deli counter. “May I please have one pound of Liverwurst, one pound of Boars Head Honey Ham and one pound of Land O’ Lakes cheese.” I looked to the potato and macaroni salad. Tempted to make my workload easier, I decided not to. Homemade anything was better, I reasoned. Andrew tugged at my side, “Mom! Can I have a ball?!” he asked with so much excitement. His little finger pointed to a metal tall cage with a hundred balls of all colors. I fancied the peach swirl colored ball the size of a baby watermelon. “We’ll see how you are in the store.”, I said. “Okay he smiled.” Bakery hamburger and hot dog buns or the ones from the bread aisle, I thought, as I saw the young man putting the honey ham on the slicer. Bread aisle I decided.

Gathering the deli meats and deciding on the Pepperidge Farm rolls, I grabbed a box of Swiss Cake rolls and put those near the hotdogs. Looking into the carriage, I decided that the Swiss Cake roll box would get wet by the hotogs so I moved the cake rolls near the strawberries and blueberries.

Having food that Mom would eat was important to me. She was having more frequent periodic episodes with Anorexia. I could always tell. She would tell me she wasn’t really hungry or she forgot to eat. But when Mom was with me, she did eat. I enjoyed nurturing her, taking care of her, making sure she was content. Some people may think me to be crazy to love a woman who brought me into this world and tried taking that life that she brought into this world, several times. For me, Mom is God’s Daughter. I saw her as a sick woman, yes, but I always saw her as God’s Daughter first. If I cried when she hurt me, what was God going through in that moment? I was hurting, yes, but Mom was hurting too and if we both gave up on one another, where would that leave Jesus? Broken, all over again. Hurt and bleeding. His Death would have been in vain if I did not look upon my mother with Mercy. Because no matter what, God chose her to be my blessing. And yes, by the end of this series of blogs on my childhood, you will see why.

Putting the key into the golden doorknob, I opened the door to our three floor home. Joey and I bought the home when we were twenty four. Andrew was a year old and Ryan was tuning six. I put the too many carried bags at once on my kitchen island and hung my keys on the key hanger next to the white phone that was on the wall. Six voicemails, the phone flashed. Later I said to myself. Opening the slider, all my plants were on the deck sunbathing after I gave them a water bath that morning. Monstera deliciosa, Dracaena Massangeana, Anthurium Andraeanum and two others that I didn’t know but one looked like a Spider Plant. Mom loved plants and had the best green thumb I had ever seen. Grabbing them all I placed them in their due spots and went to the basement with Andrew as he put his swimming gear near the washer. I put a load of whites in and in fresh clothes, Andrew went to play outside with his new purple and white swirled ball.

The house was quite besides a fan that was blowing in the living room. I looked around. Clean. Orderly. Thank you Jesus. I walked up to the third floor to my bedroom, walked into the closet and grabbed a long peach colored casual Summer dress and slipped into it. I looked to my bed. The white bedding looked so inviting I thought. I was tired. Walking downstairs I opened the front door and stood there for a moment. The hot heat that was trapped between the storm door and the main door warmed my naked toes. I wiggled my toes on the cold tile trying to capture the heat. Thank you Jesus, I said to myself. I looked out the front door to my favorite tree. A huge Oak with the biggest green leaves. I opened the door and stepped out onto the top step. I looked to my annuals and made a mental note to water them after the sun went down in two hours. Mom, I thought. She will be here tomorrow. I began having flashbacks about how every Summer that she comes down, there was some sort of disorder during the month of July. The last Summer Mom would come down would be the Summer of 2005. She would never make her way back down to the oceans of Cape Cod, MA again.

“Baby Girl!! I’m here!!”, yelled Mom with two Dunkin Donuts medium iced coffees, made regular and donuts, as she came through the front door. “Hey Mom,”, I smiled. “How was the drive from Milford?”, I asked, as I took the iced coffees and placed them on tiles in the kitchen. We hugged each other and smiled. I saw Mom only once a year usually. Some years I would see her up to three times, but that was rare. She lived only an hour away. We spoke weekly on the phone. “The traffic was light until the Bourne Bridge.”, Mom said, looking exhausted. “Cape Cod in the Summer”, I said, smiling. “Why don’t we get your bags and bring them to your room.”, I asked. “Maybe later baby girl.”, Mom said. “Okay. Want to come out to the deck?  Andrews out in the back playing.”, I said. We went out to the deck and sat in the deep chairs. Andrew  who was six was digging something with his play truck near the corner lot of the yard. I looked to Mom. Beautiful, I thought. She never aged. She was 58 and was mistaken for a woman in her late thirties. She was always so well groomed. Her nails to her shoes. But she was a jean wearing loving girl who was a self proclaimed Flower Child from the sixties. I often caught her dancing by herself to Janis Joplin. Her favorite, Piece Of My Heart. She loved Janis. Moms long blonde hair and cunning smile hid a woman who just holding on until the next suicide attempt. She was beauty in madness. She was every mans desire and she knew it. I knew it. Summers on Cape Cod would have to entail us driving past the Falmouth Fire Department in my car and her hanging out the window as the Firemen were sitting out front in chairs. “Mom, please don’t this year.”, I pleaded with her as we left the Falmouth Library with books on whales and fishes for Andrews Summer Reading. “Oh honey, live a little.”, Mom said. I opened the door to my Pontiac GTO and put the seatbelt on Andrew as he placed his books next to him. It was a hot Summers Day. I opened the sun-top and rolled down all the windows. Summers on Cape Cod were beautiful but the humidity was oppressive at times. Key in the ignition I pulled out of the parking lot and made my way to Main Street. Dear God, please let the Firemen be inside, please, I said to myself. No, not on this day. The Firemen were outside in their chairs, sipping on something cool. Good Lord I thought. Can’t drive quick because it’s on Main Street. “Hello Boys!! I love you!!”, Mom yelled. They all laughed and waved at Mom. I wanted to be the coconut air freshener hanging from my cars vent that resembled Mom dancing to Joplin by herself as the sunset in my backyard. Laughter coming from the back seat broke my thought about being the coconut air freshener. “Nanny! Your crazy!!”, Andrew giggled. Mom looked back at her third grandchild. “Yeah honey, I am.”, she smiled. Looking forward and wanting to get home as quick as I could, I couldn’t. Main Street traffic in one of the biggest tourist areas in MA, Falmouth Cape Cod was unforgiving. We were coming up on the Police Department and I decided to take a nice long drive through the backroads to get home. Falmouth Heights beach was quite intoxicating that afternoon. Moms hair was blowing out the side of her window and I glanced at her as I turned to look to the right. Sunglasses on, white t-shirt and no earrings. The smell of the ocean air was consuming the car with thoughts of 4th of July on the beach. Falmouth, MA, the place I came to when I was nine. The place Dad and Mom would move to after their marriage almost ended. Moms last time to give Dad another chance. Mom lived through marital affairs. Cape Cod was to bring a new beginning after Dad found comfort in the arms of another woman in our last town. The affair would drive Mom to a state of raised arms and high walls and rightly so. The pain of an affair never leaves. It only gets easier, but it never leaves and a marriage cannot and will never go back to purity. What was Sacred turns into a shadowed happiness, a falsified reality. For some, it becomes their Vocation through God and that is the only thing that keeps them holding on at times. When love is gone – it is truly gone. Sure, love to love, you know, we are all called to that, and in marriage, you love because God calls you to. Smiles, hugs, happiness … yes, you have to live while your trying to heal. Mom was trying for the family. She wanted to divorce Dad many times and I am sure Dad had the same sentiments. In the end, they would divorce when I was thirteen. I was happier I said, and I believed I was. Fleetwood Mac, If anyone Falls, came on the radio. Turning it up, I stepped on the gas, we were coming up to the rocks where I could see there was many people fishing and Mom may just yell, even louder to them.

Starting up the grill to make dinner, I looked to the clock. Joey had been out of work for over an hour. No calls. I texted. No answer. Called work, “Hey Melissa, he left an hour ago.”, said his supervisor. These incidents were coming more and more. I opened the slider and walked into the kitchen to husk the corn. Looking at the plastic bag that looked like it was bursting from the seams, I exhaled as I picked up the corn. I grabbed a piece of corn by the bottom and began to peel the silky strands. Where is he, I thought. Please Jesus, no, I prayed silently. A tugging for weeks had been at my heart. A gentle knock from God. A knock that I didn’t want to answer. A knock I feared so much, more than anything to answer. A knock that had been there before. Please God, I just can’t, I ‘m so tired already. Joey and I had just celebrated thirteen years of marriage that March. Pushing the thoughts to the side, I composed myself as I heard Ryan walking down the stairs. “Hey Mom where’s Andrew?”, Ryan asked as he looked in the bags of dry food. Pulling out the freezer pops he put them in the freezer. “Hey honey, he’s outside playing.”, I said. I shuffled my hands through his hair. Haircuts, I made a mental note. “Okay Mom, I’m going to play with my friends.”, Ryan said. “Keep close honey.”, I responded. I heard the screen door open and then slowly close. I listened to the compression of the screen-door slowly close. What a genius idea to make a door like that. No noisey slam. One for that guy, I thought. Grabbing the silver pot and not remembering husking half the corn I inspected it well. Little pieces of silky threads were in between the kernels. Please God, let my marriage not end like my parents, please Jesus. I can’t do this, please, please. Let my marriage be as tight as these silky things in the corn. Grabbing a steak knife I tried to remove all the silky pieces with the tip of the knife and I couldn’t but in that moment I had to and I did. I cleaned every piece of corn perfectly. Victory. I put the corn, butter and sugar in the pan and turned the stove to number seven.

“Where’s Joey, Melissa?”, Mom asked. “He said he was running late, Mom. May I get you anything?”, I asked her trying to forget the raised eyebrow I just saw on her face. “No, I’m all set.”, I said. Please God no, was my silent prayer. I couldn’t hear another talk about how Dad cheated and how my fate will be that of every woman who has been hurt. Please make her go outside God. I looked to the pan. The condensation from the cold water was evaporating. “Melissa?”, Mom asked. I looked up to her with a smile. “When was he out of work?”, Mom asked. The pan with the corn was becoming hotter, the cold condensation was almost gone. “Almost two hours ago, Mom.”, I answered her without looking at her. She became quiet. I wished I had had a torch to stick to the outside of the pan to make it rapidly boil to drown out the sound of her sigh that I now have with with her raised eyebrow. Two for her, I thought. “Hey, Mom, will you get the burgers and hotdogs out of the fridge?”, I asked her. “Sure babygirl.”, mom said. Plates, forks, knives. Where is he? My soul knew. Hot tears came to the brim of my eyes. Late night calls, spent money, empty embraces and empty eyes. I don’t want to be me God. Why now God? When Moms down too, why? I was the wife who did everything for her husband, everything. I wasn’t going to end up like mom and dad, no. Never. And, besides, God called me to this Vocation and not that of being His Bride, because with all my heart, I know I would have been so Faithful to my Groom. He will be home soon, I said to myself.

The 4th of July would come and go. We had a great time as a family. Cookout and fireworks. A Hallmark family in a way. If people only knew, I thought. Turn me inside out, I thought. Will you stay? Will you run? Is it too much? I am broken. A falsified failure, I said to myself.

Friday afternoon. Mom was getting ready to go back home on Sunday. Her annual departing day. I had a good time that Summer. Not too much craziness with Mom. She was working and moving on with her life. She had a nice place and was involved with a local day home for adults where she had many friends and happiness. Joey was due home that afternoon after work so we could see his family before Mom went back home.

“Melissa, what is going on? Where is Joey?”, Mom asked. “Mom, he’ll be here soon, I’m sure.”, I said, pairing together socks. One sock had a hole in it. Usually I would throw holey socks away. Screw it. I put them together. She was right. She was right. God, shes’ right, right? Right God? Because how much more God? Right? My soul was accepting a reality that my heart would not touch. I wanted to be back at Saint Anthony’s Church when I was 17 and sitting in that front pew and tell God that I take it all back. I take it back about Him choosing for me. You made a mistake God, did You?

I broke down crying right in front of my mother. I was in so much pain inside. Breathing stopped in that moment. These cries that I had never experienced in my life, came out of me. My mother grabbed me and held me. She rocked me back and forth like I used to see her rock back and forth after a suicide attempt. I sank into her and I don’t know how long she held me for. I don’t know how much I cried. I needed her in that moment and she was my Mom in that moment, not my daughter. It was this out of body experience between the pain and truth about my marriage that I had in me and the woman that hurt me the most, was comforting me during the worst crisis of my life. I was so naked in that moment of everything. God stripped me naked of everything in front of the woman who stripped me naked of my everything as a child.

Mom fed the kids dinner and brought them to my mother-in-laws home. I stepped into the shower and faced the showerhead. I made the water cold to stop feeling the hot tears. Moving the knob to the blue C, I stood there, the water hitting me. Jet black Mascara  pooling at the bottom of the shower. My eyes burned as I forced them to remain open. Give me pain God. Let this showerhead crash onto me. Let the walls fall in. Clenching my fist I punched the side of the shower wall. My knuckles red. Another hit. I didn’t care. He told me who would never cheat on me. He knew my childhood. No way. This guy who vowed to me a marriage. Kids, a life. I gave him everything and he knew it. Everyone knew it, including my friends who knew I laid out his clothes for him every evening after his shower, to starting up his truck so it would be warm and told me I was crazy. I am crazy God, huh? Yeah, I am one twisted and sick person who gives everyone everything and I am shit upon every time. You love me God?! One more hit. Crouched on the shower floor, the water was cold hitting me. I didn’t want to leave the shower. What happens when the water turns off, I thought.

“Babygirl, I’m back, are you okay?” Mom asked after knocking on the bathroom door, “The kids are set. I’ll make us some tea.”, Mom said. Clearing my throat, I told her okay.

I threw on leggings and a long tank, threw my hair up and put tinted cream on my swollen hand. The early evening air was cool as I made the way down to the sitting room. Mom was sitting with her legs under her and holding a mug of hot tea. “Come sit here honey.”, Mom said with kindness. Thank You Jesus. Thank You. I sat at the other end of the maroon sofa. We had nice things, so many things. As I looked around, we had a comfortable life. We worked real hard from a young age. Joey and I had that together. In the bedroom and out, life was good, never a reason for an affair and I worked damn hard to be sure of that, because I always said from a young age that if I ever married, – not me -not my marriage – no divorce – no affairs.

There goes that power couple, people would say. I wanted to yell, …. “Hey, you have it all wrong my friend! This smile here – that you see on my face – nah, that’s just me holding it together for the kids and him. Turn me inside out. See what I really look like!”I was the biggest deceiver of all. Fake smiles holding together a broken girl.

“Honey, listen, I am sorry for what is going on with you and Joey. He’s a good man honey and he loves the kids and you. Men will be men though.”, Mom said. I looked at the steam coming off her tea and had a flashback to the coconut air freshener swaying in the car near the AC earlier that week.

Here we go, I said. I just knew it. Here we go. I wanted the tea to be Bacardi and coke. I wanted to be sipping on a cold drink. I wanted to light a Marlboro Light and deeply inhale and then exhale all the circles that were going around in my head which I had picked up on and off since I was twelve. Mom would buy me my first carton of Marlboros when I was thirteen. I was on my bed reading a magazine and she walked in and threw the carton on my bed. “Thanks Mom.”, I said. I wanted to be anywhere but in that room.

“Honey, you are at thirteen years. I decided to divorce your father when I was at the thirteen year mark. He cheated on me too. A man will always be a man, and honey, it’s part of life.”, Mom said. Am I really here, I remember thinking to myself. Is this a generational curse, God, I asked Him in my interior.

“Mom, my marriage is not your marriage.”, I told her, looking into her eyes. I was about to lose it and scream at her. Gods gentle reminder with my fist still pulsating, made me remember that there is a better way to handle this than yelling. Get yourself together, Melissa, I demanded of myself. I was unraveling by the moment. I was done being strong. One more word and she’s out of here, back to her place, so help me God. I can’t do this. HOW MUCH MORE GOD? I looked to the Crucifix and dared God to try me because I was walking out on Him next. I was thirty years old. I remember driving over the Bourne Bridge, twenty nine years old. One day from thirty. My words to myself as I was watching the sunset as I drove over the bridge into Falmouth; Well God, I am leaving my twenties. The thirties will be the best decade, not doubt. I smiled and drove towards the ocean that early evening, knowing my thirties would be my best …..

 

… to be continued ….

part 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadows The Beginning Of The Ending Part V

The way that the shadows played under the door, I could see that my favorite tree was gracefully dancing in the wind. The sunlight shot like a laser beam into the closet. “Hey, let’s play shadow puppets.” I whispered to my little brother. “Okay,” he said.

This time, his lips only turned a small shade of blue. My brother faced his head towards me and I made myself look into his eyes, holding my own grief so I could contain his. I remember looking at my mother and wondering if this time was it, would she kill him? She would always stop -before she would suffocate him.

Mom had bad days. Her children were the face of every single person that day that had hurt her, that had let her down, a family member, an argument with my Dad. My brother and I never knew when our turn was going to be for mom to release her anger. I always wondered when it would begin. Would we be able to have the comfort of the closet, would we be able to see the closet this time around? That was always my hope. Mom would always begin with me. I would lay down on the sofa and she would put a pillow over my face. She would then sit on top of me and she proceeded to suffocate me. I always turned my head to the wall facing away because I knew that my little brother was there in the hallway. I never wanted him to see my face. I never wanted him to see the fear and sometimes even the hope – that maybe I would die.

I remember times I would stop breathing and a comfort would come over me, it was this silence but there was also a comfort and when that comfort would come, all of a sudden my mother would get off of me and I would have to stand in the hallway as my little brother would walk past me with tears in his eyes. That was one thing about my brothers and I; if we cried, we would never make noise, tears would just come from our eyes and that’s how we learned how to cry – we learned to cry by making no noise – we knew as children that if there was ever a noise to escape us, the stakes were higher.

When the abuse would be over mom would make my brother and I go sit inside of the closet in the same room that the couch was. She would lock the closet door. Maybe she was afraid we would tell on her. I wondered if my brother was experiencing the same comfort that I had when I would see him begin to lose consciousness – that comforting peace when his lips would turn a different color. I wondered if maybe he would be able to leave this life and be safe away from her.

For the first few times, my brother and I would cry a little bit in the closet, but then, I wanted to make it a happier environment for him. I thought of some games that we liked to play and having just the light from underneath the door, it was enough light to be able to play shadow puppets. We never knew how much time had passed by. I would try and tell the time by the way that the shadows of the sun off of the leaves changed their position on the rug. I was learning about the sun in science and I had learned that during certain times of the day, the sun moves. There were a few times when we would meet dusk as Mom would unlock the closet door. Mom wouldn’t talk to us for a day after and my brother and I never once discussed it. Perhaps because we had so much time in the closet that we didn’t really have to speak and to speak would be an acknowledgment of each others reality.

Years of abuse would happen before the above incidents and after the above incidents.

Being the only female out of four brothers, looking back, I was naturally inclined to be a mother like protector over my brothers. From a young age, cooking, cleaning, taking care of my brothers when my mom was not able to, became important to me. I wanted them to have some kind of normalcy, the normalcy I would see at my friends house when the mom and the daughter would be playing with the baby in the kitchen, when the brother and the sister were being silly and fighting, when the mom and the dad would just hug the kids because. Our parents weren’t able to give us what they didn’t have themselves. My dad was an alcoholic and my mother had major depression, severe Bipolarism, and severe PTSD . We were all living daily, playing Russian roulette with each other, knowing that my mother and my dad were the ones that held the guns and we never knew when the barrel would face us.

Being able to maintain a clean home, a cooked meal, laundry that was folded and an ear for them to listen to became my goal. I knew how to keep a clean home, cook, keep up with my studies and try to function the best that I possibly could.  I learned how to live life without feeling. I learned that as long as I could make everyone around me happy, I would have peace, and that was a terribly disoriented survival method that I learned when I was a child. If I could just please my mom, maybe she would not hold the dinner away from my brothers and I that I made. If I could just make my dad happy, maybe he would not stay out at the bar and he would come home and be with us so maybe mom would be happier.

My brothers and I never spoke about the abuse in our family to each other.

I knew the way that she was treating us was not right, and at the same time, I knew that she had to be ill in her mind to do what it is that she was doing to us and so I decided to protect her, instead of turning her in – and in protecting her over time, I was able to get my brothers away from my mother.

The earliest childhood memory that I have of protecting my mother would be when I was six. I remember seeing her rocking back and forth with her arms wrapped around her legs. I stopped as I was walking into her bedroom and looked at her from the side of the closet that our towels were in. I looked at her small face, mom was always tiny, she suffered from Anorexia Nervosa since she was brutally raped at the age of thirteen by her adopted mothers boyfriend (her perpetrator served 40+ years in prison as he was drunk and left mom on the side of the highway naked and killed her dog. She sustained a very serious head injury that would end up leaving her having a major seizure disorder her entire life.)

A jogger found mom naked on the side of the road. She gave birth to her son in a home for Catholic School girls in the Boston area (mom attended all Catholic schools as a child up until her freshman year as the school only went up to the eighth grade.) The child would be given up for adoption. Mom thought she was keeping her baby. She was given a paper to sign one day back in the early 60’s and unbeknownst to her, she signed over her baby to a couple that was awaiting a newborn. This would go on to play a major role in her PTSD.

Not many people ever understood my love for mom. Many said I was sick for taking care of her and walking away was my best choice. When I was six years old and I saw mom that day rocking back and forth, not understanding and mom not telling me about the rape until I was in my late teens, in that moment, I knew there was something wrong with her. My being just knew. I would go onto view mom doing this rocking back and forth thing several times which I came to understand was a result of her PTSD. Mom had a hard life. She would go onto have several major crisis in her life. But for me, for me, I couldn’t just walk away. I knew my entire life that she was mentally ill, but I also knew her past. I could not walk away from her. She was my mother. The mother who God chose for me.

When mom would finally end up hospitalized with no chance of her ever coming back home, I pleaded with God to just let me please be released from the responsibility of taking care of her. The abuse, even as an adult, was too much. “God, please, I would do anything for You, but please, not this, not seeing her dying, I had to see her suffer her entire life. Please release me from this.”, was my prayer, my plea. I knew she was bad this time. I also knew I would be the only person to help her in the family. I can’t blame my family for walking away. Mom was vicious.

“I will never make you do this My daughter,” was God’s Answer to me, “but My daughter, I want all My Children back Home with me.”

In that moment, nothing else mattered to me. To know my Lord would cry, would be sad, I couldn’t do it. “Okay God, You and I have been through some stuff, huh?” was my response to God, “Okay, send me extra Angels God. I love her too. I will fight for Your daughter, thank You for always fighting for me and never giving up on me. Let’s do this.”

My life, my everything is for God. My love for Jesus, Our Lady, the Saints, the Angels, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, my life is a walking sacrifice for Yahweh.

part V

The Breaking The Beginning Of The Ending Part IV

I walked into the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet. I picked two out of the six bottles. A large white bottle and a see through bottle with a white cap. I shut the medicine cabinet. The sink had toothpaste splattered on the chrome faucet. I looked up and met my eyes in the mirror. A splat of toothpaste obstructed the view of the yellow Chrysanthemum on the wallpaper behind me. I followed the stem of the Chrysanthemum under an oak cabinet that held the q-tips, floss and razors. I caught a reflection of the sun on the gold tone towel bar. I looked into the mirror and then down to the sink. Without looking into the mirror again I grabbed the two bottles and walked into my bedroom with memories of earlier that afternoon.

“Why did you call Dad for?”, I asked her with tears in my eyes. Mom stood there in my bedroom looking at me sitting on my bed with no expression on her face. “Why did you do that for?”, I asked. Planting my right arm into my bed to sit up straighter I looked at her. The bottom of her bell bottom jeans became ball gowns on my orange and brown plush carpet. I thought of Cinderella and her pumpkin. I looked over to the clock by my bedside before looking out my bedroom window. I looked back up at her, my vision distorted from the sun.

She stood in front of my bed with her arms folded. Her hair was down. Her nails were painted a pearl white sheen color. I looked at the reflection of her backside in the mirror. I wanted to throw my blue piggy bank at the mirror and smash it into a thousand pieces and then lay in the broken glass. I wanted to bleed into the mirror until I absolved away.

“Do you really think he cares about you, Melissa?”, she asked with a straight face. “Where is he?,” she asked again with a straight face. Maybe he’s working I thought. Maybe he’s going to come home soon, I hoped. Maybe he will call me, I said to myself. “He does care about me and he loves me.”, I said quietly looking down. I was eight years old. Her words were burning. Her words were a half truth.  “Your precious father doesn’t love anyone besides himself Melissa Marie!”, she said as she placed her right foot forward towards me.

Her voice began to change. Her eyes were changing. I saw her left foot move towards the bed. The bell bottom part of her jeans made the carriage wheel to Holly Hobbys wagon on the bedskirt. She stepped closer to the bed. I put all my weight on my right arm again and lifted myself towards the corner top of my bed trying to get away from her. I should have jumped off my bed and stood in the corner of my room instead, I thought. I looked at the pillows on my bed. I felt the heat on the edge of the bed from where the sun was hitting.

I looked at her as her right knee made an indent in the mattress as she began to come towards me. I swung my right leg off of the bed and ran to the corner of my room where my bookcase was. She walked over to me.

Mom had different kinds of anger. The anger that scared me the most was her quite anger. Her being as a whole would change. Mom wouldn’t hit though, not during these times. She would get close to your face. Her eyes would become angled like almond slivers and her teeth would clench together. Her voice would change when she would speak. This low growl. Those were the moments. Her silent, scary moments.

When there was no physical pain to comfort afterwards, emotional instability would set in. I began to see myself as unlovable. I remember playing with my Cabbage Patch Kid doll and telling her that I wouldn’t be sad if she couldn’t love me. I told my doll that I understood. I told her that I would love her even if she felt she didn’t like me.

In my childhood, just as in my adulthood, my mother would use my Dad as a weapon. She knew how much I loved him. I spoke of him often as a child. I asked her what her happiest memory was one day when we were driving as a child of Dad. She said that Dad stopped to get her wild daisies one day on the side of the road. She was so happy. I watched her face to just absorb her happiness when she would speak of Dad and the daisies. It was not often that she had a kind word to say, but when she did, it was ice cream on a Summer’s day to me. I only remember one happy memory of my parents together. One Christmas when I was a small child. I remember the way the sun reflected off of my brothers new race car set that Dad was putting batteries into. My Dad was smiling and Mom was standing by the kitchen table smiling. I smiled so much and not just in my heart, it was all over my face. What happiness, what joy in that moment.

Mom and Dad always fought. Echos from drunken arguments, chairs being flung across the kitchen, my mother yelling and my Dad yelling back. I was in my bed, looking out the window at the trees, the moon and the stars. I would sing to the stars, trees, I would sing to the night about my dreams. For a moment I wasn’t there anymore in the midst of the two people that I loved so much. Love. What was it? Marriage? This is marriage? Family. This is family? I decided from a young age that I would never get married or have children. I didn’t want it.

Looking at Mom, her face was an index finger from my face. “Oh babygirl, what?! Are you afraid that your precious daddy won’t love you anymore?! You think he loves you, like he loved me, right?! RIGHT?!”, Mom looked at me and I said nothing. I was so afraid because I knew what was coming next. It’s what always would come next. The reason I jumped off my bed and into the corner of my bedroom. I couldn’t answer her, I was close to throwing up. I began to tremble and put my right hand on the wall to balance myself.

Putting my head down, I listened as she gathered a mouthful of spit. My eyes began to water. The deafening silence would be awoken by her spitting in my face.

She left the room. I stood in my spot. I don’t know for how long. I was afraid to aggravate mom. Afraid she would come back upstairs. Walking over to my mirror with the stickers of cupcakes and rainbows, I looked at myself in the mirror. I stared. I always just would stare. Two globs of spit stuck to my face. Moms spit was on my right cheek. Thick, white spit with so many little bubbles. I always remember the look of the little bubbles. The second glob was above my left eyebrow. I stood in front of the mirror and let the spit fall down my face. I felt nothing. I felt like a rock I said to myself. A rock can’t feel anything. I had to know that I was not alone in that moment and a rock brought me solace. Nothing was real in those moments. I was there but not there. I was living, going through the motions by the age of eight. By the age of six I was tired. I wanted out. Nothing mattered. I felt nothing. No happiness. To stay alive for my brothers was hard. I thought about them as I sat on my bed that afternoon as I walked back from the bathroom.

Lithium. Acetaminophen. I would find moms bottles of pills often in her bed. My brother who was a baby would often lay in moms bed as I fed him his bottle. Grabbing the bottles of pills out of the bed and putting them onto moms nightstand so my baby brother wouldn’t get hurt. I knew of suicide. Mom tried to take her life a few times. Her pain must have been bad I always thought as a child.

The bottle of Lithium wouldn’t open. They were smaller from what I saw then the Acetaminophen. I thought to myself when I couldn’t open the bottle of Lithium that it was probably better because I didn’t want to be like her anyways. I saw moms lips begin to curve and purse. I heard her breathe in deeply to get as much mucus as she could.  I opened the Acetaminophen bottle and poured eight into my hand. I was eight and I reasoned that eight would help me to die.  I began to swallow one at a time with a Dixie Cup that I had grabbed by the bathroom sink. I heard her nose begin to snort. Six down, two more to go. I heard the shooting sound of spit being rocketed from her lips from her body. All eight were gone. I felt the warm spit cling to my face. I looked at my baby doll and kissed her.  I tucked her in and rocked her cradle.  I walked over to my bed and laid down. I put my hands on top of my chest folded. I was sad, but not as sad as when Mom spit at me that day. No, I was happier because I was almost free.

“Melissa Marie Wooding!!”, I heard her voice. I remember awaking in pitch black. I was dead I reasoned. But I wasn’t because I saw the red numbers from my alarm clock and heard her voice. It had been exactly three hours since I had looked at the clock. I began crying at hearing Moms voice again. I swung my legs over the bed and proceeded to go downstairs.

“Why are your eyes all red?’, mom asked. “I fell asleep.”, I said.

  • My Mother called my Dad that day to tell him I had not cleaned my bedroom due to me being outside and playing. When Mom would call Dad about me, she would look at me as she was calling him and smile at me. She was so sweet to him on the phone and then when she would hang up she said cold and callous things to me about him. It was confusing.  She would often tell me that he didn’t love me and when she would call him and tell him, for me as a child, to know that my Dad may have not loved me because he thought I was bad, caused great anxiety in me as a child. My Dad was the only real thing I had as a young child. He was an alcoholic but he was not my mother and I was grateful for that. I never told my parents about my suicide attempt. To see them get upset would have been too high of a price. I did not get sick from the Acetaminophen. I did fall into a deep sleep and awoke physically fine.

Franklin The Beginning Of The Ending Part III

… I walked up to Mom as she was standing in front of the register at the thrift shop. Her navy blue Dr. Scholl’s wooden and leather slides were planted firmly on the weathered forest green rug. The right sandal appeared to be covering a beginning hole that exposed a dark brown wooden floor. Her mauve colored toes were beautifully painted. I looked to her neatly manicured hands and her natural long nails rounded at the tips. Stepping towards her with the purse I was hoping to buy I smelled her Jovan White Musk mixed with the smell of her Marlboro Light cigarettes. In the front window by the register I looked to see an antique doll made of porcelain sitting in a small rocking chair with an aloe plant that had the longest stems appearing to aid in keeping the rocking chair steady. The right leg was stiffened in an unnatural way. The right eye of the doll looked no better. I looked to the side of the dolls face as a breeze flew through the door with the entrance of a man. I looked away from the doll as I looked to the older man. His shoes looked old. I saw some men shoes in the back near the umbrellas. I hoped he would find a good deal. I wondered if he felt as alone as he looked.

I looked back to the right eye of the doll. The eye went up and down, up and down as the swirl of wind that accompanied the older man violated the dolls eye. I stood on my toes a little and leaned over the solid wood checkout counter trying to avoid the huge brass bell to see what the left eye was doing. Nothing. It was wide open. I looked to see what it was looking at. A green fuzzy frog the color of a lima bean hanging in the upper corner of the window. Twenty five cents. Maybe I would ask Mom if I could get the purse and frog. The frog had big black shiny eyes and a smile that was too big I thought for his little body but I giggled a little because he was not like any other frog I saw before. Maybe I would get him only instead of the purse I thought.  I looked to the side of the dolls face again. Missing eyelashes on half of the eye and the painted on eyebrow made the eye seem softer.

I looked to the short woman behind the register. Her and my mom seemed to be the same age I thought. Mom put her four pairs of jeans, two shirts and a silky long white nightgown that had frilly lace and a border of little pink roses around the bottom. Two of the roses looked more pale pink than the others. “Here Mom,” I said, handing her the purse. She looked at me. Thinking that maybe it was too much money I thought of the frog for twenty five cents. I looked up at her and she looked down at me.  I saw her eyes were changing and her lips. I looked to her beautifully manicured toes and her middle toe was curled up making the little steel buckle protrude up. I was hoping that her feet were not in pain. Mom had painful Rheumatoid Arthritis to the point of her not being able to walk at times or to be able to open jars. I remember her having to use a grip like device to open most things in the kitchen. And then I got the look. I knew the look because she would give it to me in a flash and it was a pre-warning. Mom looked at the lady behind the register. I looked to the doll by the register then back to Mom then back to the lady who was removing  a tag from the pair of jeans I found for mom.

$2 ~ the tag read. I watched as the woman slipped her index finger through the cotton string to meet her thumb that was waiting to help her index finger complete the task of removal and into the pile of others that laid next to the paper bag. I saw how the string looked frayed and how the little white pieces of cotton soon would be a white piece of aggravation on someones clothing. I watched as the woman picked up the jeans and folded them. I heard the paper bag being opened more than it should be opened. I watched as the paperbag began to crease and the fibrous pulp began to become tired. It was going to rip. Maybe it could have been my book cover for school I thought. I would have made pretty rainbows and heart balloons on the cover and back. It would have been the prettiest book in the classroom I said. But it was meant for moms jeans.

I knew I wasn’t getting the purse. It was okay I said to myself. I looked up at the green frog. Maybe it’s not a lima green color I thought. It was a spring days green and the spot from the sun in the window wasn’t worn out, it was going to be the sun, like on my favorite Care Bear, Sunshine Bear. I smiled as I gave this frog with the biggest smile and the sweetest eyes a name. He was Franklin the frog. I smiled. I wonder if he knew that I thought he was just lovely and that if I had had a quarter, I would have bought him.

“Are you going to get the purse honey?,” asked the lady behind the register. I looked at mom and then at my hand. I forgot I still had it in my hand. I was getting to know Franklin. “Um, I don’t know, Mom may I have it?” I asked looking at her. She looked at me. I looked at her lips. I saw her saliva glistening over the bottom half of her lip. Her glitter lip gloss was almost worn off. I thought about the glitter gold belt next to the crocheted plant hanger. “Do you want the purse baby girl?” Mom asked me. Her lips only moved a little.

How did I even hear, her I thought. “Yes.”, I said, looking at the lady and then Mom but when I looked at Mom, I knew. I knew. I was afraid. “Mom, your not going to hurt me are you?”, I asked her. I was done. I knew it in that moment. In that moment that she grinned at me and said, “Babygirl, why would you say that for?”. I just looked at her. I then looked at the doll with the one open eye. I looked at Franklin. I wanted to see the crocheted plant hanger one more time. The lady looked at mom. The lady looked at me. I smiled at her. I wanted to comfort her. Maybe she was hurt as a kid I thought. Maybe she could see the untrembling trembles. “Its okay.”, I told her from my soul to hers. I smiled again at her before we left.

I did get the purse that day. What I also got was one of my mothers severe arm pinches. She would grab my arm, halfway up and she would take her index finger and thumb and she would twist very hard, holding on until the skin would break several vessels. I cried because the physical pain was too much, it always was on my arms. I was small as a child in frame. I cried in the car and told her I was sorry. I told her I was confused because I wasn’t paying attention. I wanted to tell her about Franklin but decided not to. I feared she may go in the thrift shop and buy Franklin and kill him. I decided that he had the doll with the broken eye and stiff leg and they had one another.

When Mom was having her bad days, they were bad. For the whole day. I went upstairs with my new purse. I looked at it and put it near my pink school bag.

“MELISSA MARIE WOODING!”, Mom screamed. I was about to change my babys clothes and to feed her. I ran down the stairs almost forgetting to step on the last three steps. I made one but skipped over the last two. My arm was already passing the familiar purple stage. Three weeks I reasoned and I can wear short sleeve shirts. It was April and in New England it was cool until June. I had creative methods to hide moms bad days. “Sorry Mom,” I said, “I just heard you now.” My eyes were red still from crying. She looked at me and smiled. But it wasn’t that Mom kind of a smile. It was a satisfying smile. I knew she was well pleased with the red in my eyes. You see, I learned, I trained myself to never give her the satisfaction of seeing me cry because she would smile. I would have rather she had hit me. I felt in those moments of her smiles the saddest. Maybe that is why I cried the most. Because at least with the physical pain I could have the pain to embrace. It kept me company. It kept me from feeling the emotional stuff that would come after for awhile. The physical pain was a numbing astringent against the emotional giants that would come after. I had to deal with that on my own and after awhile that became too heavy for me. My mind began to unwind.

I was seven years old. In the middle of the night I would get out of bed and stand next to my TV set that had antennas on top. I would put my right thumb and my index finger to the right side of my head and I tried to turn the “channel” in my head. With my other hand I tried to fix the annetans to make her voice go away so I could have a clear mind. It didn’t work. I walked back to my bed and laid down. Tears quietly rolled down my cheeks onto the pillow. I thought about Franklin and the doll with the broken eye. I smiled because Mom didn’t know about Franklin. I rolled over and was happy I never asked Mom for a quarter.

part III

Baby Girl The Beginning Of The Ending Part II

…her eyes had not changed. Time had not made her better. The fantasy I was having as I was driving hour after hour to reach her was gone as quick as I saw the ten- thousand words she was not saying to me with the fury of her green eyes.

“Mom, can I have this purse?”It was a gorgeous suede purse that was black with a blue liner. It was three dollars. It was the Spring of 1983. She was in a good mood that day. The sun was shining when she walked into my bedroom that morning. I was playing with my ponies on the floor. I had just finished brushing their manes. All silky pink, white and golden. Wow, they really looked amazing I thought as the sun shined on the golden yellow pony with the golden mane. Cotton Candy was up next. “Which one is your favorite baby girl?” mom asked. I didn’t have a favorite. I had to love them all equally. I couldn’t tell her that. I needed an affirmative answer for her. I looked at Butterscotch. I was holding her. “Butterscotch,”I said. I looked at my other ponies, hoping they didn’t feel betrayed, hoping they knew I loved them.

“Want to go to the thrift shop today?” Mom asked cheerfully. I put Butterscotch in the beige plastic pony circle next to the white plastic water trough and a bale of hay that looked more like a cube of cheddar cheese than a bale of hay to me.

It didn’t matter whether I wanted to go and she knew it. I knew it. “Sure Mom,” I said. I looked at Minty and Blossom. Picked up the small brush belonging to each one of them and accordingly began to brush them again before they joined Butterscotch.  I took two more plastic bales of hay and placed them next to each pony and figured they could share the two water troughs. I petted each one of them and fixed a few stray hairs on their manes that were out of place. Perfect. They were perfect.

I made my way down the stairs. The steps creaking in the old house below my feet gave no one the opportunity to escape. I looked outside to see my favorite tree. The sun was hitting it from the east I said. I thought, I hoped I was right because I had a test coming up in school on Monday.

Mom was smiling from what I could see in the side mirror of the car, her long blonde hair blowing out the window in the April breeze. I jumped in the front seat nearly missing the pine tree air-freshner with my left knee. Mom lit her Marlboro Light and put on a Barbara Streisand cassette. Woman In Love played from the car speakers. I watched as the swirl from the cigarette artistically danced towards me. It drunkingly passed by me like my dad did the night before. “Hey Dad,” I said as I looked into his eyes. Maybe he could talk tonight. I wanted to tell him so badly that she was abusing us, all of us and he didn’t know. I wanted him to pick me up and look into my eyes and just know that I was in pain. I wanted him to hug me and to just know. Nobody ever knew. Maybe he was too tired to talk I rationalized. Maybe he was drunk or slightly buzzed. I chose the better of the three, he was tired even though I smelled the booze on his mustache.

The sun was shining off of this golden disco like belt that was hanging with a crotched plant hanger that was five cents in the thrift store corner near a neatly folded pile of fitted bedsheets. Spiderman, a sheet with cats and dogs was peeking from under a Rainbow Brite sheet. How do they get the ends to fold neatly like Mom did? The cheap five cent plant hanger shined more beautifully than that disco belt and I felt sad for the plant hanger.

Mom was in front of the jeans. Size 3-4 was my job to look for her. She was getting thinner. I put her size 5-6 jeans on her bed when I found them in my clothes a few weeks ago. Mom was always in amazing shape. She was serious about good eating. Shopping trips to the market were enjoyable for me because Mom had patience to teach me about what was good to put in your body and why certain chemicals in my most wanted Boo-berry cereal was bad. The older I got, the more I realized that she was right about good eating and vitamins. See that was the thing about Mom, she was good too. She was fire and ice. She was sadistic and sweet. She was rage and peace. She was the sacred and the profane. She was a giver of pain recycled. She injected the medicine with the venom. She was the night and the day. She gave the shirt off her back as she made mental reminders for emotional IOU’s. She was everything I wanted to be and nothing I wanted.

“God, let me cash in on the emotional IOU’s,” I demanded in my interior as I stood there looking into her eyes in her cream colored room. I needed a lifeline. I needed something to make her smile. Twenty people were outside the room I said to myself. If she tries to attack me I am safe.

I wanted my Cabbage Patch Kid Doll with the minty green summer suit with forest green delicate flowers that I took so well care of. My babygirl who I never abused. She was on a feeding schedule and I changed her clothes three times a day. She was my everything. I was the mom that I always wanted and I was a good mom.  I was good at taking care of people and things. It made me feel alive. It was pure joy as a child to even water a plant. To sustain life, to help a soul who needed something, anything. It was a need, a want, it was air to breathe. There was an invisible tattoo on my head that read… ‘let me help you because I am hurting so much inside that I can’t but not help anything or anyone who has a mustard seed of despair, want, a sad glance, give it to me. Let me harbor it in my ship yard.’

The shipyard was almost abandoned. I was healing from her abuse over years. God was in me and I was in Him. I united my wounds with Jesus Wounds and He bled my mothers venom from my veins with His and He gave me His Life. My True and Real Mother, My Lady. My Queen. My Rosa Mystica. My Salve Regina. My Blessed Mother. She was there with me. I could be weak in front of Her. She took my brokeness, just like she did for Her Son and She held me as a Mother should hold their child. I was no longer motherless. I never was. She was always there. She is always here.

I heard the nurses outside walking back and forth, caring for residents. It was just her and I. Where was her roommate?  In fear and old habit, I looked back down to the floor. I wished the floor was not so clean in that moment so I could focus on something. I looked at her. Her hair was just below her ears. Her face was sunken in. My eyes went to her lips. Still pursed. The same kind of look when she was trying to not lose control in the store over a fellow shopper who was in her way. I wanted to yell to the shopper, “She’s a thrower of things. Watch out,” but I reasoned that a can of biscuits is less painful than what she would deal to me so I was quite.

“I haven’t seen you in awhile babygirl,” she said with a lemon lime voice. “Hey Mom, I’m sorry,” I said.

What did I just say? “No,” I cried a little inside, “why Melissa? You promised yourself you wouldn’t say the word ‘sorry’ to her.” Failure. Failed. One for her I said. I was keeping count this time. I had fought so hard to get back up from her grip of emotional and mental games. “Work and life has just been so busy,” I said looking back down at the floor. I was a liar.

I screamed out in my interior as I looked out the window keeping my head tilted back just a little, “Hey Mom, let me tell you why I have been gone for a year and a half. Because, do you remember when you promised me you were going to stop calling my phone, Joeys phone, the kids phones Mom, do you remember? Remember all the non stop calls to all our phones all in one day because I wouldn’t answer because I just couldn’t. I needed a break. Well guess what? We were all right there, watching as one phone rang – then the next phone rang -and then the home phone rang – and it was like this freakish orchestra that I would hear as I was trying to sleep at night and I couldn’t so I had to drown out the mental insanity by sleeping with a fan on as I have had to my entire life Mom because my mind wouldn’t stop! And guess what? Your grandkids think your crazy and Joey does too! I told you I needed some time Mom! I told you life was becoming too heavy for me and I needed some time.What did you say to me Mom?! Do you remember??!!! What did you always say when I couldn’t talk on the phone because I had just walked into the house from a twelve hour day? What did you say Mom?!!

I wanted to scream at her, ANSWER ME! ANSWER ME NOW BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING LEFT!! You have bled me to death mom. I have nothing left mom. Let me tell you what you said to me Mom. You left messages after messages telling me to not forget the insurance policy that was in my name when you died. Do you remember the last call? “Hey babygirl, I added accidental insurance to the policy. Do you remember that?” I do Mom. Let me tell you what was happening to me as I stood over the answering machine and tears splashed on the black cover as I heard your voice. I felt nothing mom. I felt nothing because I was dead inside. Do you remember all the times you would call Joey to relay to me the messages about how your funeral will be taken care of and paid for when I refused to come to the phone? Do you know what that did to my mind Mom?! TELL ME!!!

I wanted to shake these damn demons that took over her life out of her life! I would have sold my soul to the devil to make her healthy again. I wasn’t living anyways. I was in her numbing world of Maureen. Another suicide attempt on the horizon. The pills didn’t work this time, huh mom? The moving train that you jumped in front of didn’t work and then the cops are at the door. I was seventeen and pregnant with both families first grandchild and you knew it! … this will be your sixth attempt, right? Right?! Yep. I wish you had died Mom! I wish this wasn’t my life! I wish I wasn’t here! I wish I didn’t feel this small again. …. But I didn’t say any of those words to her. I kept them in my fear box, put the bow back on it and stored it away and asked her if she wanted to go for a small stroll to the sitting room.

“ I knew you would come baby girl,” she said. “Yeah, I knew too Mom,” I said. I looked down at the white, clean, shiny floor as we walked to the sitting room.

part 2

  • This story of my childhood abuse is taking something out of me. I broke down three times while writing this entry and I walked away twice. I wish I could write more in a day but some memories and flashbacks are a little heavy. This is my third attempt at trying to write about my mothers abuse since she has died in 2016. I have never gotten this far.

The Beginning Of The Ending Part 1.

Walking down the hallway I looked at the tips of my sneakers, one foot forward, the next foot forward, striking black sneakers against the white laminated flooring. I was admiring how shiny, how truly clean the floor was. A sense of cleanliness came over me. I forgot about the daughter who I had become, the daughter who ran away for good this time at the age of 36. The sound of a buzzer going off in the distance took my attention away from the floor. It was a break from my own thoughts in that moment. I looked to see a doctor coming through the locked unit.

I had become the woman, the person I said I never would become and perhaps this was my punishment.

Looking back down, I saw the nurses shoes and heard the squeaks of the shoes against the white, clean, shiny floor. “God, forgive me, a sinner. How good You are to me and yet look what I have done.” I prayed internally with a low disgust.

The hard truth was that if I had cared, how could I have left her for over a year without trying to even contact her?

Not wanting to raise my eyes to look at anyone, afraid of the severe shame that I had in my eyes, would they see it? Would they know that I was that daughter that you would hear about? The daughter who picked up and left when life got too hard?

I told her I would never leave her. I promised her I would always be her Simon and she was left to drag her cross alone, without her only daughter, the child who promised out of her five that would never leave, that would never forsake her. I was no different than the Apostles who betrayed Jesus. My flesh and blood, the woman who carried me, the woman that God chose for me, His daughter, I left her.

The smell from the applesauce and jello and what appeared to be roasted chicken laying on the cart in the hallway mixed with the smell of cleaning supplies from an accident that housekeeping was cleaning up in a room ahead of me, mixed with the reality that my mother was in a nursing home five hours away from me, caused waves of nausea to overtake my being. I was walking down this hallway that felt like a hundred miles long and I wanted Hell to open up below me and to absorb me.

God could have condemned me to hell, and in that moment I would have held my head down and never tried to fight for my soul. Any good act as a daughter that I held onto disappeared. I wanted to find something, but in that moment, I didn’t want to remember anything good. I wanted to only know that I failed her. I failed her. I wanted to feel pain. I wanted to hurt for hurting her.

I asked for no Grace from God as I approached her room door. I looked at the nameplate on the outside wall. I focused on the gold part that the name slipped into. I stared at that nameplate. I don’t know for how long. Was this real? It was. It was real. My 63 year old mother was behind that half closed door, in that room. I began to shake. My entire being began to shake.

Never allowing anyone to see my despair, I put on the mask of strength as I always have had to with mom and I gathered myself together. I looked at only the floor as I was walking in to her room. I wanted her room to be a hundred miles long just as the hallway felt so I could be in the unknown for another minute. I didn’t want to see the reality of who my mother had become.

Would she be awaiting for me with a smile? Would she want to hug me? Would she look okay? Would she scream at me and tell me that I left her? Would she tell me that I failed her? Would she just look at me with shame in her eyes? Would she try to hurt me as much as she was hurting?

Entering into the half opened door, I saw the grey sky with raindrops rolling down the window. “Take my tears from me God. Mix them with the rain,” I begged God as the hot tears threatened to escape my lower eyelids. I tilted my head up and back and reprimanded myself in my interior, ”Get it together, dammit Melissa!”

A method I learned to sustain peace at home. Not a tear fell. I prided myself in that moment for a small victory. I still had it.

No tears meant strength in my home. Crying was a weakness in my family. Perhaps it is because all men were being raised in my family. I was the only female and I was treated as a male, but not when the requirements for a clean home and meals were to be made, then I was the female of the home when Mom was having a bad day which was every day.

I was a little girl living in a mans world. I learned to cook and clean on my own.  I was the chef, housemaid, friend and psychiatrist to mom by the age of seven.

I became receptive to the needs of others and I grew to love to take care of my brothers and a home and it was never a chore. But my greatest gift, my greatest most treasured accomplishment was protecting my brothers from her – from our mother- from our DNA – from the women that gave us birth – from the woman that was never supposed to hurt us – from the pain -to the feelings of nothingness – to the long showers because only then could I cry into the palms of my hands and cool down my stinging eyes from the thousands of tears I had to comfort all day so as to not unveil the excruciating pain that was so deep in me that my flesh had to purge itself of its self to maintain self sanity.

When I would get out of the shower the answer to my Mothers question, “Why are your eyes red Melissa?” Me, “Oh Mom, nothing, just shampoo in my eyes,” I said with a firm smile on my face. I was a machine in human flesh. I stopped caring about my emotional needs. I took care of everyone else and I preferred it that way. I was fulfilled and I knew that if I would live to see tomorrow, I had another day to protect my brothers from her.

The second bed was hers. A yellow curtain was drawn around her bed. I saw no legs. Was she there? This was all a bad nightmare. I am sleeping. But I wasn’t. I was still trying to get the cramp out of my leg from the four hour drive from Massachusetts to the Berkshires. “Why are you putting her this far out from where she lives in MA? “I asked that day on the phone a week earlier when the hospital contacted me to tell me Mom was tearing down metal doors at a local hospital and had been in a locked unit for three weeks by the time I got the call that day in CVS in the shampoo aisle. “There are no other beds in any other facilities. We need your permission Melissa,” said the social worker, whose reality I wanted in that moment.

I put my hand on the yellow thinned out curtain that had been overwashed. I heard the metal curtain clips slide along the ceiling to open the curtain. I stopped and felt the curtain for a moment. Anything to make time stop. My hand began to shake and my legs were going to give out below me. A thousand memories flooded my mind in a split second. I was that little girl afraid to come home from school in that moment, in front of the huge wooden front door, but that front door was a yellow curtain and I was thirty seven years old. My abuser, my fear, my weakness, my mother was on the other side of that curtain.

My eyes began to go from the floor to the metal bed. The black wheels were all facing different ways. My eyes went to the radiator where a saltine wrapper lay.  I saw a thin wire with a remote control attached to it wrapped around one of the bed posts. My eyes wouldn’t go up. I looked at the blue mattress that was showing through the white sheet. When would I look up? I couldn’t.  The edge of the white thin blanket was hanging below the blue mattress off of the bed. “Get with it Melissa,”I wearfully said inside. I could either run out of that room and drive four hours south back to the ocean waters of Cape Cod or I could raise my eyes just as My Lord did that day on Calvary crying out to God. Here Jesus and I were, both naked, both broken, both bruised from the carelessness of another soul. I saw His Broken Face and then I immediately looked to the body in the bed facing towards the wall. They made a mistake. This was not her. It was a shell of a person. The white blanket covered a skeleton. Where was her beautiful hair? Where was her body? I didn’t believe it. In a renewed courage – knowing it was not her, I put my hand on the bone thin shoulder. “Mom?” I asked. The body began to shift and the blanket began to wrinkle with the movement of the body. The right shoulder began to lay down. The only light that was in the room was from a window in the room by the end of her bed. “Melissa?” I heard the voice say.

“No, no, no. No. NO God. I can’t, I can’t do this. I can’t, Please take me away from here,” was my inner cry to God. God did not answer me. I was alone. He left me like when I was a child. He abandoned me. What the hell was happening to my rock firm faith in that moment?  I was a daughter of God and yet there I was questioning His Existence in a split second. I was in a battle with self, the devil and God all in the middle of a nursing home room, all within a moment’s time. I could still leave. She hadn’t seen me yet. There was the Bloodied Face of Jesus. “Yes Jesus,” I said in my soul.

“Hey Mom, yeah, its me,” I said with an uplifted tone underlined with a repression of tears. I made myself look at her face. I was done. I couldn’t do it. I regretted answering my phone a week earlier. This helpless woman who was so frail and little was my mother. Was this real? I didn’t believe it again. It was like I was there but not there. I didn’t want this reality. I didn’t want this woman to be my mother. I wanted to have a normal mom. I wanted the mom that I would see my friends have to go shopping with, not the one who was ruthless and careless and the woman that stole my innocence. The woman that would put a hot iron to my face if I didn’t do what she told me to do. The same woman who taught me how to walk like a lady with a book on my head just as she was taught as a child. The woman who told me I was the reason for my parents divorce and I believed it. The woman who chose to have me and then hated me for having me.

I felt more helpless than she looked laying in that bed in that moment. And then she turned around and began to sit up.

I was a mother looking at her sick child. That was my fear. What I didn’t want to see. Roles reversed when I was in my twenties. I became her mother and she was okay with that and she became my daughter and I had to be okay with that because God gave her to me to care for and in my state of caring for everyone, she was my third child. The daughter I never was blessed to have and the ‘child’ that would break my heart. She had nothing in that moment. She was alone. She was what I felt.

She was left alone in her maddening world of mental illness, a world that I carried every day of my life for her. I became her antidepressants. I was her therapist. I was her best friend. I was her batting cage. I was her release. I was her fixer. I was the problem. I was the reason. I was the excuse. I was every wrong and every right in my mothers life.

I was. I was all of these things because I allowed myself to be all of these things. It was a drunken world of me being the bottom of the bottle for her emotional dumps on my reality. Of me trying to be her savior, trying to save her life while my soul was dying. I no longer was an individual. Her world of psychosis moments became opportunities for me to see where I could repair myself to be a better person for her. I was her yes girl. I was her drug dealer for emotional and mental support, dealing her everything that enabled her.

I was her dealer and as long as I got my form of payment which was her not taking her own life, than I justified the behavior because I was an addict too, you see, I had become so conditioned to being my mother’s enabler, her happiness, that when I could no longer mentally handle the weight of her cross, I left her. I had no more to give to even my kids and to hide their nanas ways was hard.

“Baby girl, your here …” she said. She wasn’t that sick I said to myself. That familiar burn in her eyes met mine.

(Part 1.)

The Sound Of God

Definition of failure

1a: omission of occurrence or performancespecifically : a failing to perform a duty or expected action

A Failure of a relationship

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

 

A failure of a relationship. When I first read that, I thought, ‘At this moment in my life, where do I have a failure of a relationship?’

After applying that question to myself, “Where do I have a failure of a relationship?” I saw myself flash in my mind. What a funny thought,’ I reflected – and then rejected.

Busying myself with house chores, I thought about playing an audiobook or listening to the news.

There came a point in my life when having just a little bit of noise, even if that was an instrumental song playing, was just too loud in that moment.

At the same time, God’s Gentle Nod, asking me to please take some time in silence, to learn the in-disposable wealth of silence.


“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Saint Teresa of Calcutta

 

I remember feeling how overwhelmingly overwhelming that was going to be not having to listen to something. I thought, ‘What a waste of time this will be, being in silence.’

I remember the first few times, being in complete silence. I remember hearing things that I had never really heard before.

Hearing the way that the pipes sound as heat is distributed through them. The hum of the dishwasher and refrigerator.

I really heard my dogs breathing when they were sleeping. 

In time, silence has become my best friend. While the flesh always wants to be constantly entertained at all times, consistently wanting to bring streams of all pleasure to keep us on moving through the secular world, there is a calling for each one of us in the spiritual interior that God has called us all to. Perhaps you could call it the great banquet between you and the Holy Trinity. 

“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” – John 16:12-13

When we are invited to a friends home for dinner, that friend has taken time to think about the menu, shopping and then the execution of it. To picking flowers for the table, down to choosing the time that everyone will sit down to eat. Cleaning of the house and taking the time to get dressed and to serve, entertain and then clean. This all takes great effort … and why do we do this? We do this because we appreciate the people that we will be breaking bread with us around our table.

We must then believe that God created us to communicate with Him. There is a reason why silence is so beautiful, but yet so overwhelming at the same time. 

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15. 

The most difficult thing about silence to me was just getting used to wanting to try and be in silence. And so I set apart three days a week where the radio, videos, TV, music, etc. was off. This was not an easy task to do because my flesh rebelled but it’s that feeling of rebellion that we need to work out of our lives.

In silence is where God and the intellect meet. Where contemplation deepens. It is where God is the easiest to listen to. We wonder where is He in times of crisis? How come we can’t hear Him? How come we can’t see Him in the events that are taking place in the world?

He is everywhere and in everything at all times – ever Omnipresent.

Silence starts with the will and want. Pray today to become closer to God in Silence.