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Pills, Pills, Pills

Sending me to a shrink

Was easier than just talking to me.

Even I was blind to

The depth of my struggles.

I could never express

The violence in my head-

Only lashing out when

It all got too much.

But you weren’t concerned-

You always were the focus-

Your issues, your disease

While your baby

Wilted away locked inside

My mind.

No one to talk to.

No one who believed

My struggle

To be more than

My lack of control.

The doctor prescribes

Pills after pills.

And you force my compliance

Even when I voice

My concerns.

I tried to tell you

How little I felt

The pills turning

Me into a zombie.

Apathetic to all,

Motivated for nothing,

My life a foggy dream-

Nothing seemed real.

Unable to voice the changes

To anyone.

All my hope slowly drained.

Only when you noticed-

Months later

After the pills had snuffed

All feeling out,

My tendency to sit

In silence staring at nothing

For hours

Do you question.

Pills pills pills

They cleared away

The mess of human emotion

So I could see

The inevibility of everything.

Life to death

And all the suffering

In between.

Part II

I had survived

For years

Using a mask

To hide

The chaos

Raging in my head.

The nagging voices

With all the faces

Of everyone around me.

Friends, family

Clueless to my struggle,

The irrationality of my moods.

The peaks and valleys,

The constant tug of war.

Shame, blame, doubt,

Self-hate, abandonment, fear-

Questions and only half

Memories wrecking havoc.

FADE IN:

INT. A CROWDED MUSIC BAR

ESTABLISHING SHOT of the dimly-lit bar with a rock band playing onstage, some people dancing, some standing around talking, some sitting at the bar.  A diverse crowd, young and old, hippies, hipsters, and everything in between.

MERCY, a 20-something skeptic, is sitting alone in casual wear at a bar stool on her second long island ice tea, observing the crowd.

TRAVIS, a 40-year old drummer with a blond beard flecked with gray, wearing cowboy boots and a red and black shirt with embroidered roses and metal buttons, SAUNTERS over to the bar, orders a drink and sits next to MERCY. 

                                    MERCY

Ugh, can you believe this crowd tonight? Look at them, poor, deprived, lost souls, every last one of them. Every single one of them with their own sick, sad little story, ya know?  Each one of them drowning their issues with booze.

TRAVIS

Hmm, what was that? What are you drinking? I’ll buy you another one.

MERCY

Take the group of girls just there, yeah the ones dancing together up by the stage. First, their dresses, if you can call that scrap a dress- it doesn’t even cover her ass, and her tits look ready to pop out and say hello to the whole bar.

TRAVIS

                                    I just started playing drums for the headliner, first tour with them.  My buddy emailed me a link with a video from one of their shows saying they were auditioning drummers.  I was at the library and couldn’t turn the sound up on the computer, but when I saw all the hippie chicks in the crowd, I told him to give them my number.

MERCY

                                    What kind of men do they expect to meet, really? And really those shoes? No one can walk in those, let alone really dance in them.

TRAVIS

                                    My last band played half our shows for the opening bands and the wait staff.  Been on the road for the better part of 20 years and I’ve never seen this many women in the crowd, night after night.  One time I met this prostitute on a tour in London—

MERCY

(cuts him off)

                        Oh and looky here, a brave bastard with wandering hands. See the way he presses closer than he really needs to while saying something in her ear? Not like she can hear him- see there she goes just smile and nod and hope you haven’t just sold your soul.

TRAVIS

(leans in to shout in her ear)

What were you drinking again?

MERCY

Ugh, not PBR, how can you stomach that?

TRAVIS

(not hearing, smiles, snaps fingers)

Alright, PBR.

MERCY

                        What? Oh look, now they’re “dancing”, more like he’s dry humping her while standing. Nobody dances anymore, not really. And now look at how she lets him get away with touching her body like that, disgusting, all because he was the first to get the balls to approach her. Screams desperate and lonely.

TRAVIS

                        Yeah, it can get lonely sometimes on the road.  Smoking a little jib usually takes care of it though.  One time I got pulled over in Detroit and had an eighth of pot on me, so I swallowed it all before I stopped the car.  I was smiling away when the cop came up, knowing he had nothing on me, but he just started laughing and let me off with a warning.  I thought, “that was weird.” When I got home, I looked in the mirror and saw little green flecks of pot all over my teeth. 

MERCY

                        And there, sitting at the middle of the bar, trying to look nonchalant, the same thirty something guy who comes here every other night on the prowl. Not realizing A. his hair had way too much gel, and B. that shirt should be buttoned properly.

TRAVIS

                        I kinda got run out of my last band after five years.  Before this one came along, I was sleeping on a couch in Hamtramck, working construction jobs in the ‘hood in Detroit.  Thought maybe it was time to give it up, find a woman, settle down back home in Elk Rapids and start a family.

MERCY

                                    Course we’ve got the whole array of bar hoppers tonight.

TRAVIS

(thinking to himself now)

I’ve got women in towns all over this country.  I should call up Julie in Chattanooga, we’re gonna be there next week.  I really liked that young little hippie in Indianapolis too . . .  

MERCY

                        Over there, in the corner to the far side of the stage, that group of middle aged and older hippy types. Well you’ve got the hippy, the hobo, and the biker types.

TRAVIS

When I was her age I was following The Dead around on tour.  Now those were some great years…

MERCY

                                    You know the ones, the ones who are in here every day from the moment their outta their same boring, mind numbing jobs to last call. The older generation who’ve been apart of bar culture since tha beginning.

TRAVIS

                        (raising his glass and singly loudly) Tennessee, Tennessee!  There ain’t no place I’d rather be. . . baby won’t you carry meeeee . . .

MERCY

                        Now those people, they’re the ones that really have a story to tell. I wish I could hear it.

TRAVIS

                                    Makin’ memories.  You know, it’s really all about makin’ memories.

FADE OUT:

Just Dinner September 2010

“When are you bringing your boyfriend over?” I listened to my mother drone on and on about having us over for dinner, the topic of every one of our daily phone conversations for the last couple of weeks, while I looked out over the balcony at the neighbor kids playing in the streets below. They were playing tag.

            “I’m not sure,” I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. “Let me talk to Eban when he gets home, he’s at the store.”  Even as I was saying this, he was taking forever picking up milk and butter I needed to cook dinner.

            “Fine. Tomorrow, then? Make sure you call me to let me know.”She reminded me, exasperation clear in her voice.

            “Alright, I’ll call you after I talk to him. Love you, Ma.”

            “Love you, too sweetheart.”

            The kids below began picking on the smallest girl in the group, who lived with her mother in the apartment below us. Their taunts carried on the wind up to me.

            “Where’s your dad, Hailey? Doesn’t he love you? Our dads love us.” They teased on and on as the girl began to cry. Sighing sadly, I walked back inside, making sure to shut the door behind me.

            Curled up on the couch, I flipped through the television channels to find a distraction and settled on a history program. Soon enough, the sound of the front door opening could be heard through the small apartment.

            “Honey, I’m home,” sang Eban from the kitchen. Smiling, I walked to the kitchen, ignoring the carefully framed and placed photos lining the hallway walls. Eban was already putting groceries away; he had, as usual, bought way more than what we needed, but paused to kiss me lightly before finishing the chore. The kitchen was utilitarian in the way of decoration; the only splash of color were the dozens of pictures of our friends stuck to the fridge doors, next to take out menus and post-it reminders.

            “My mother wants us to come for dinner tomorrow night; I said I’d talk to you,” I told him quietly as I set about cooking. Eban leaned against the counter next the sink, watching me carefully as I puttered around the small room, his eyes burning a hole in the back of my head.

            “Do you want to, Tessa?” He used his pet name for me. It was a rhetorical question, we both knew it. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my mother, or was ashamed of Eban, but I cherished what we had and dreaded the role my mother would play. I didn’t talk about my mother much to Eban, and for a reason-- my mother was both my biggest hero and my worst nightmare all in one.

            “We’ll go, I suppose, but I have to warn you that she can be a bit,” I pulled my bottom lip between my teeth and stirred the water in the pot in front of me while I wracked my brain for the right word.

            “Overwhelming?” Eban offered.

            “That, among other things. Hopefully she will behave tomorrow; I’ll call her after dinner.” That thought depressed me.

            Our dinner was short, eaten on the threadbare couch in front of the TV watching the news. I called my mother later on and made arrangements for dinner the following night even as the ball of dread in my stomach grew. We tried to watch a movie after dinner but I was too restless to sit still for very long.

            I lay in bed, curled next to Eban and still my mind raced with possibilities of all the disastrous outcomes for the dinner. Memories swarmed in my head of every time my mother had failed me until I could no longer lie in bed for fear of waking Eban.

            I remembered the fights my parents had, the harsh words and the angry fists. I both admired my mother and hated her. On one hand my mother always made sure to protect me in her own way, putting herself in harm’s way, yet she stayed in an abusive marriage that not only endangered her well being, but her child’s as well. It was selfish, to risk her child’s safety because she was too afraid to try and make it on her own. I remembered my mother’s downward spiral after the divorce, the times I had to finish dinner or clean up my mother’s mess. I never brought friends home, well I wouldn’t have even if I had had friends, I was too ashamed of my mother, and of the way they had lived. I remembered all the times I tried to help my mother, how many times I ran to her side, but it was never enough, my mother only cared for her unending procession men and booze.

            I remembered my open house after I graduated from high school all too well. We had held the open house in an open air gazebo in the middle of Riverside Park. It was eighty-some odd degrees out and the air was filled with pollen. There were blue and gold streamers and balloons covering each pillar holding the gazebo up. My mother had even brought our grill into the park to barbeque for our family and friends. A banner wished me congratulations and pictures of me, ranging from baby pictures to my senior photos, were arranged on the tables around the food.

            All had been going well, until about four or five beers in. My mother had promised me that she wouldn’t drink that day, but of course, that only lasted for the first hour or so. There were about fifteen people arranged around the four long tables eating and talking as I moved around the group trying to talk to everyone. I was talking with my former AP Literature teacher when my Aunt Alice tried to slow her twin sister’s drinking. My mother hadn’t been very receptive to the advice to say the least. She started yelling about how it was none of her business, how she had paid for everything and she could damn well enjoy herself if she wanted. The truth was that I had shouldered the cost for the entire party with my part time job; I had put together everything, made sure that we had everything we needed. I remember my face flushing and my throat turning to dust as I excused myself from my teacher. Her voice rose and rose and she started to blubber and cry as I got closer to her. Wrapping my arms around her shoulders, I guided her about ten feet from the guests.

            “I thought you weren’t going to drink today mom, you promised.” I knew my face was red with embarrassment, my whole body shook with rage.

            “It was only three beers.” She slurred yet her unfocused eyes wandered to the ground in guilt.

            “The promise was for none. Why couldn’t you keep you promise just this once? Why does it always end up about you? Can’t you just for once show me you’re proud, or that you actually care?” I had tried to keep my voice down, but I knew that the guests were listening to us. My nails dug in my palms from the effort to keep from screaming. “You know what? Never mind, I don’t know why I thought it would be different this time, but for some stupid reason I did. It’s time for you to go home and sleep it off before you get into more trouble.”  I looked over to my Aunt Alice again, and she trudged over and looked at me so sadly that I wanted to scream even more. I hated the pity, all I wanted was for someone to understand or instead of pointless apologies I just wanted someone to tell me that it sucked. I ended up crying myself to sleep that night, while my mother slept soundly on the couch, her shoes still on her feet.

            That memory faded way and a new one formed. The dinner table at Aunt Alice’s was packed with food for Thanksgiving- turkey, pie, potatoes. There were six seats around the table, enough for Aunt Alice, mom, Alice’s husband and two kids, and me. There was a TV on in the background with the Detroit Lions’ game on it, they were losing of course. The hardwood floors were scarred from years of use and I resented each one of them, a reminder of the family home they had. Mom had snuck whiskey to dinner and was well on her way to blitzed when she started in on me.

            “I don’t see why you can’t just go to nursing school like you always wanted, why would you want to go into accounting? You’re awful at math.” She slurred each s and spit when she talked. Her eyes were puffy and her breath reeked like one of the homeless men downtown. 

            “I never wanted to be a nurse- that was what you wanted to go for, and as for math, it’s always been my best subject. I had to teach you fractions remember?” My voice was soft and I just stared at my food with my fork in hand, trying to ignore the boiling rage that was welling inside me. 

            “Are you calling me stupid? You think you’re so smart, Miss College. Well I’ll tell you, you don’t know shit, you don’t know how to survive on your own, you’d come running back within a month with your tail between your legs.” She huffed at the end of her tirade and began to eat her food, shoveling fork full after fork full into her open mouth. I continued to ignore her but I had lost my appetite. We ate in silence for a few golden moments. “What not gonna say anything? Too good for me now are you?” Aunt Alice looked up and caught my eye pleadingly, as if I could do anything to stop my mother’s drunken babblings. I had a hard time believing that Alice had once been as bad, if not worse, of an alcoholic than her twin Abby.

            My mother ended up in my backseat passed out at the end of the night and I drove her home and tucked her in and made sure the house was locked before I left again. Every family holiday followed a similar cycle.

            As each memory played over in my mind, my anxiety grew worse and worse. Around two or three in the morning, Eban wandered into the living room looking for me.

            “You’re gonna burn a trail in the carpet babe.” His voice was groggy from sleep as he leaned in the doorway and watched me pace.

            “I’m sorry, hun, I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to keep you up.” I wrung my hands nervously.

            “Babe, it’s just dinner, it’s not going to be that bad.” He walked over and grasped my hands pulling me down on to the couch next to him.

            “I wanna believe that, I do, but my mother has this way of making something so small, a complete and utter disaster.” My anxiety shown through my voice as my leg bounced restlessly. I knew going at this rate would just cause a panic attack but I couldn’t seem to relax.

            “Babe, just breathe and relax, ok. If things start going badly we can just leave, ok?”

            “I just don’t want you to have see her like that, and she’s a genius when it comes to pushing buttons, and I don’t want you to see me like that.”

            “Tess, I promise you that no matter what happens, or what doesn’t, that it’s not gonna change how I feel about you.”

            “I know that, I’m just….scared.”

            “Well there’s no need to be, now come on, let’s go to bed.”

            The next day I managed to sleep in while Eban had to wake at 8 A.M. While he was at work, I did some homework for a couple of my classes, including an essay that was supposed to be about my childhood. The essay only brought up more memories that had my anxiety rising all over again. I gave up after not being able to focus and decided to clean the apartment. I was in the process of scrubbing the living room walls when Eban got home.

            “Umm, dear, are you ok?” he looked at me quizzically as I attacked the wall with a wash rag.

            “I’m fine, just finishing up actually. How was work?”I asked as I began to put away my cleaning supplies.

            “Work was the same as always. You’re not fine, you’re still worried aren’t you?”

            “No, I’m fi-“

            “Don’t say fine again, please. I hate when you say you’re fine because when you say you’re fine you’re actually anything but fine. Tell me what’s going on in that pretty little head of yours will you?” he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into a hug.  I sighed.

            “I’m still worried, obviously. I know my mother and I know she’ll do something to mess this dinner up. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, I mean I love my mother, I do,  I just know that she has a tendency to make an ass out of herself and me. And I really don’t want you to see that side of my life. The last time I spoke to her I was carrying her from my car to her couch because she, once again, got wasted at the family reunion. And of course, the entire family sat there and judged me, blamed me for it, like I had some control over her actions, I’m not the damned parent!” At this point I was crying and freaking out. “Oh, god, I’m scaring you aren’t I?” I looked up from where I had buried my head in Eban’s chest. He looked back down at me calm as ever and just smiled sadly.

            “You’re not scaring me; I’m just worried about you. I didn’t expect having dinner with your mom to be such a huge fuss. We can still cancel you know?” I considered it for a moment as I tried to calm down.

            “No, this has to happen eventually, I can just pray she doesn’t prove me right.” The smile on my face was strained. “Let’s just get ready.”       

            An hour and a half later we pulled up in front of my mother’s modest apartment on the West Side. It was across from a medical supply company, it had no yard to speak of, and the stairs were badly cracked. My mother’s five foot cactus sat in a pot on the small porch.

            “You ready?” Eban asked squeezing my hand. I smiled tightly up at him and nodded once. I lead the way across the street and up the stairs to the first floor apartment, but hesitated just before the door and watched my mother at the stove through the window in the door. “Tessa?” Before I could change my mind my mother turned and saw us. She waved us in with a large ladle in the other hand.

            Stepping through the door, the first thing I noticed was the half assed attempt at tidying up and the underlying smell of stale beer.  Looking at my mother I noticed the slight sway of her body and the puffiness in her cheeks and my stomach dropped.

            “Mom, this is Eban, Eban this is my mother.” I looked at him apologetically.

            “Well, hello, it’s nice to finally meet you.” Eban held out his hand but my mother, being who she is, slapped his hand out of the way.

            “In this house we hug, hand shaking is too impersonal.” I flinched at the shocked look on Eban’s face, I knew that he would be able to smell the alcohol that close to her.

            “Mom, try not to over whelm him, eh? Eban why don’t you help me set the table while she finishes up?”                

            “I’m sorry, hun, I just knew this would happen,” I whispered to Eban as we carried plates and silverware over to the secondhand dinner table.

            “It’s not your fault, you didn’t know, we can leave if she gets out of hand, okay?”I nodded. She did it, yet again. I was torn between wanting to scream at her and just crying. I motioned to Eban to stay put as I went to talk to my mother. There wasn’t any privacy and I would have killed for a wall between the kitchen and the dining room. I could smell the Canadian LTD © whiskey on her breath before she even turned to me.

            “What’s up, sweetheart?” she asked, her eyes struggling to focus on my face.

            “Mom, how many drinks have you had?” I asked quietly. She frowned slightly, her brows furrowed together.

            “Just two of my normal. I’m fine, I’ll behave, I promise.” Even as she said the words, she swayed on her feet.

            “Please , mom, I’m begging you, just this once.” I closed my eyes to fight of the tears welling up.

            “I said, I promise.” He tone was annoyed and I felt my stomach bottom out and had to fight the temptation to throw up. I just had to calm down, everything would be fine if I didn’t agitate her; she hated it when I pointed out her intoxication.  I realized even as I rationalized my behavior to myself that my mother had a grip so tight on my conscience that she managed to make me feel guilty for her wrongs, and yet no matter how much I told myself that her behavior wasn’t my fault, there was a part of me that would never see it. That part of me that was so accustomed to taking care of her, making sure she didn’t hurt herself or anyone, that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to stop taking care of her. I grew up taking care of her, I never had a chance to be the child, to be anything other than her babysitter, and I resented it but even though I knew she was at fault and not me, I couldn’t stop the guilt and shame at my inability to help my mother.

            I finished helping Eban set the table then helped my mother carry the food to the table for fear she would spill it in her drunken state. Once we were all seated and food was doled out onto our plates she started a conversation.

            “So where did you two meet exactly? All Tess told me was that you had a class together,” her resentment was so evident that even Eban noticed.

            “We had a history class together. Western Civ to 1400. We sat next to each other on the first day of class and started talking.” He smiled at me and squeezed my hand in encouragement. My smile was tight.

            “She always did like history. Wanted to be an Egyptologist when she was little, remember Tess?” I tried to relax my smile more as I laughed lightly and nodded my eyes unable to focus on anything but the glassy reflection of the light in my mother’s eyes. I couldn’t count how many times I tried to get her into AA or a program like it. There was a time when I had become a ward of the state due to her drinking, and still she continued to drink. I knew that to really quit that she had to want it, really want it, and not just say it. The problem was that she never wanted to get better, to try and be better. I remembered when I was younger I used to think that if I just did good enough in school, behaved well enough, that she would stop. I don’t remember when I stopped lying to myself; I don’t know if I ever did.

            “It was because of a CBS program I watched on TV with Allen after school one day.” I remember the old TV with a bunny ear antenna attached. The gold artifacts and intricate hieroglyphs keeping my attention while my father attempted, unsuccessfully, to drink himself to death. The old carpet was rough against my little hands. I remember the world map they used to show where Egypt was, and all I could think of was how different my life would be if I could go there.

            “The bastard let you watch TV, that’s a shock,” though her words were angry I knew some of the pain that lay beneath. I shrugged in response hoping she’d drop the subject. She tended to burst into uncontrollable fits of tears alternating with anger when she talked about Allen while drunk, and then the anger would turn to me.

            “This fettuccini is amazing Mrs. Stevens.” Eban attempted to change the subject, and I squeezed his hand in thanks for the effort.

            “Thanks, make it all from scratch, ’cept the noodles, Tess doesn’t like the homemade noodles, says their too thick.” She looked at me in triumph, like she had just won the greatest argument in the world.

            “I just don’t think they’re the right consistence to go with the sauce is all. They’re great in your homemade chicken noodle soup though.”

            “Oh, Eban, you absolutely have to try my homemade chicken noodle soup the next time you’re over.” She put her hand over his and leaned towards him over enthusiastically

            “I’d love to.” His smiled charmed her the same way it did me the first time I met Eban. I finally started to relax a bit. My mother was notorious for schmoozing anybody I brought over, and it looked like she was going to behave after all.

            “How’d your doctor appointment go last week, Mom?” I knew the moment I finished the question that I had said the wrong thing. She sat up straight and looked at me across the table for a moment while I braced myself for her outburst. Instead she just blinked a couple times, as if trying to clear her head.

            “I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment last week.”

            “I thought you had to see Dr. Austin for your back? Last Wednesday, the twelfth? I could be wrong.” God, I should have dropped it, why didn’t I drop it. I had to ruin it, didn’t I? It was going so well, too.

            “I must have missed it then,” her voice hardened.

            “Oh, ok, just wondering.” I looked down at my food in hopes she’d forget about it, but I wasn’t that lucky. I was never that lucky with her.

            “What? Do you have something you wanna say Tess, dear? Gonna accuse mommy of getting drunk again and being irresponsible?”

            “No, that’s not-“

            “Don’t you lie you little bitch,” I flinched involuntarily as she showered the table with spit. “Come on let’s hear it then, hmm?”    

            “Mom, that’s not what I was saying, I was just-“

            “Quit lying,” she pounded her fists on the table and I jumped. Eban was looking rapidly between the two of us, trying to figure out what to do. His eyes were wide in panic.

            “Mrs. Stevens, I’m sure that’s not what-“

            “You shut the hell up, too, College Boy. Looking down your nose at me, who the hell are you to judge me?”           

            “Mrs. Stevens I wasn’t-” Eban sputtered but I squeezed his hand to tell him to stop trying. Attempting to apologize or explain never worked, she saw and heard things the way she wanted to.

            “Mom, stop it.” I said evenly as I looked at her. “Eban hasn’t said a single thing wrong, and neither have I, why don’t we all just relax and eat our dinner, ok?”

            “Fuck dinner,” she yelled as she swept her hand over the table knocking the contents into a heap on the floor between her and Eban. My anger boiled to the surface before I could get a hold on it and tears welled up in my eyes.

            “What the fuck is your problem?! You wanted us over for dinner, so we came. You’re drunk when we get her, you reek of booze, and this place is a fucking pig sty.” I was shouting back at her now, knowing it wouldn’t help the situation but needing to be heard.  “Did you invite us over here just so you had someone to bitch at?! I’m fucking sick of your bullshit, this is why I don’t come over here! This is why I fucking moved out, because I couldn’t take anymore of your hypocritical, self-loathing bullshit!” my fists were clenched on the table in front of me.

            “Don’t you fucking blame me for that bitch, I kicked you out cause you never helped with anything!” she stood up as she screamed, her face turning an angry red.

            “Never helped! Never helped! Are you fucking kidding me? Who the fuck did you think was paying your rent? Your phone bill? Your gas, your electric? Don’t pull that never helped bullshit, if I wasn’t for me you’d be sleeping a damn box down by the river with all your bum friends! I fucking did everything for you, you drunk bitch! You’re the mother, not me, why don’t you start fucking acting like it?!” Eban attempted to take hold of my hand but I pulled away from him, shaking with rage. I never fucking helped? I did fucking everything for her! I gave up my dream of going to off to college for her, ungrateful bitch.

            “I was a great fucking mom, it’s not my fault you turned out an ungrateful little bitch! I wouldn’t drink if it wasn’t for you! I wouldn’t be alone if it wasn’t for your ass!”

            “Oh fuck you, you were shit as a mother, you didn’t give a fuck about me, just your booze and the guy of the week! Jesus Christ, if you fucking cared about me, you would have never gotten me taken away! But no, you chose your man and your booze once a-fucking-gain, that’s not a mother, that’s an alcoholic.”     

            “That wasn’t my fault, if you weren’t such a little whore-”

            “I was nine fucking years old you dumb bitch, how is not being able to protect myself my fault? I came to you, you were supposed to protect me, you’re the fucking parent!”  Eban edged around me and took my hand attempting to head for the door, but my mother, with amazing speed for as drunk as she was, blocked our path to the door.

            “Where the fuck do you think you’re going? I’m not done-“

            “Well I am, dammit you’ve taken out your shit on me all my life and I’m fucking done with it.” Why did I fucking have to say something? Why the fuck was I so fucking stupid? Eban was now standing behind me, attempting to pull me as far from my mother as possible.

            “You little bitch,” she snarled as she launched herself at me, knocking my back into the table in the kitchen, shoving it back a couple inches before I regained my balance. Her hands swung, again and again, hitting my face, my sides, and my stomach while she screamed. “I gave up everything for you, you ungrateful little slut.” Eban attempted to pull me away but I pushed him back as I took hit after hit, it wasn’t the first time. This was my punishment for failing, this was my fault for upsetting her, why was I so fucking stupid? Why couldn’t I have just kept my mouth shut? Her nails scratched my face. My heart broke more with every one of her swings.

            “What the hell did you give up for me? A husband who beat you nearly to death for twenty two years?” I spit back at her.

            “You’ve used and abused me for the last twenty years.” That one sentence shattered all hope and respect I had for my mother and I felt myself go numb. I abused her, since before I was born? When she went to hit me, with a closed fist, I put my hands up to block my face and attempted to push her away from me. She truly believed what she was saying to me. She stumbled back and hit the fridge, knocking my graduation picture off.  She looked over at me, her eyes cleared as she realized what had just happened.

            “I’m done. I never want to speak to you again. I never want to see you again. You will never be a part of my life ever again. As far as I’m concerned, my mother is dead. Goodbye Abigail. Eban, we’re leaving now.” I didn’t recognize my own voice, void of all warmth and emotion. My hand was on the doorknob when she reached out to stop me.

            “Wait, please, sweetheart, I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened.” She was crying heavily.

            “Don’t touch me or I’ll call the cops, understand? I’ve always taken your shit because I always thought I deserved it, but now I see. You’re a drunk who doesn’t know what’s she’s had all these years. I’ve given you hundreds of second chances. Never again, I won’t do that to myself again. I’d say I’m sorry but I wouldn’t mean it, now goodbye.” I grabbed Eban by the wrist and dragged him out to the car. My mother threw open the front door behind us.

            “You can’t leave me! I’m your mother!” she screamed on and on from the doorway, a sad, disheveled mess. Neighbors were looking and listening but I didn’t care anymore. I couldn’t care.

            “Tess…?”

            “Eban, just take me home.” I stared straight ahead and tried to block everything out. I could hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears.

            When we got home, I went straight to the bathroom, Eban close behind me. I shut the door in his face and walked to the mirror. I didn’t recognize the woman staring back. Her hair was a mess, she had raw, red scratch marks on her face, and she was pale, so very pale.

            “Tess, honey, open up please. Are you alright? Tess?” Eban asked from the other side of the door, fear in his voice.  I took a deep breath and thought about it, was I alright? No, not really. Would I be? Maybe, I thought so. I fixed my hair as best I could and splashed cold water on my face, the water stinging in the open cuts.

            Opening the bathroom door, I found Eban pacing back in forth, wringing his hands. When he saw me he grabbed my shoulders.

            “Tess, are you ok? Please talk to me.” His hands wrapped around me and pulled me into a tight huge.

            “I’m ok, I think. I’m not sure yet, but I think I’ll be ok.”

            “I’m so sorry, Tess, God, I’m so sorry.”

            “Why? You did nothing wrong. I finally stood up for myself, after a lifetime of abuse and neglect, I stood up for myself.” I sounded amazed even to myself. Eban looked down at me worried. “Eban, I’m fine, everything is gonna be just fine.”                                                                                                                                       

Chronicles of Grief January 2011

Part I

12 years old

Cheboygan, MI

95° and the heat suffocated

the first time I met

a would-be stepsister

unwittingly I helped him reform the relationships he had once lost

He raised me.

He was there-

When I was sick,

To buy my prom dress,

To nag me to study

A year after Allen passed-

His ghost still following me

The father I didn’t have.

My hero learns his expiration date

The cancer not caught

Until it was too late

Too soon, only 2 weeks

He had to suffer through his pain-

Finally ended

So he could sleep in peace

Part II

Grand Rapids to Ludington

A full car

A sunny day in June

Too nice to bury another father

I was surrounded by

Friends turned to foes

The anger in their eyes

Felt in waves

Over the grave

Of a man we all loved too dearly

But his hawks, his guides

Calmed my aching heart

Gave me strength [eased my pain]

To be the rock my mother needed

Part III

Dismissed by the mother

Of his grown children-

We went into loving arms

Of his son- his namesake.

They welcomed us
comforted us in our pain

His great-granddaughter

Just an infant in my arms

Her big blues gazing

Innocently into mine

Part IV

The months that followed

Filled with pain

My mother’s sickness

Weighing like the world on my shoulders

My forced calm façade

Masking a black so deep

Light no longer visible

I almost didn’t survive.

Part V

Fourteen months later

An uncle wasting away

I drove to Alpena

Allowing my mother and her twin

To see their oldest brother

one last time,

seeing Ron in the bed

The image of Herb in my head-

My inability to help him

Watching my only father fade away.

Tears came  quickly

I could do nothing to

Check myself-

the first time I cried.

Writer's Block: Confidences

Who do you think it is easier to talk about your problems with: your friends, your family, or strangers?
Honestly it depends. MOstly friends for sure, i have a bad history with my family and attempting to talk about my problems with them- love them, but not the best listeners. I had a really good friend that i meet and instantly clicked with and she knew everything about me, i mean everything, but we rarely talk anymore. My bestfriend and i dont really talk emotional problems for some reason. she still doesn't know about alot of the fucked up shit in my past, never seems the right time to talk about that sort of thing plus i have this HUGE problem with crying in front of people- a habit formed when it was frowned upon in my family.

Thank You

Your face comes to mind

When I can’t think

Of a way to distract myself

From the pain

And while I feel

The emotions in me waver

I feel you did me one favor

You made me hard as rock

I can weather any storm

In almost any form

As long as I stay detached

The day you drove away

Something in me faded

And now I feel so jaded

I can’t feel it anymore

Not the way it was before

Now I can only recognize

The emotion that would empathize

But instead of being true

I fake it for the sake of being fake

Too feel as I belong

With the rest of them

I don’t know feelings any longer

I can tell you the last time I cried

It was when the last of me died

Alone on my bathroom floor

Because I don’t have you anymore

You were the one I trusted

The one I let see me fall

In all the sloppiness that is emotion

You were the cushion that I landed upon

When I needed that plunge

But there alone I realized

That it was like this all along

You were never there for me

But for yourself, because you

Could believe that you were stronger

That you didn’t give into this

That you didn’t lose to your emotions

I’ve lost the ability to feel

But it’s not like I can’t deal

The numbness just makes it easier

To do what I have to

To hurt those I can’t avoid

And feel no guilt, no remorse

So I feel a thanks is needed

Thank you for your selfishness

Thank you for your betrayal

Thank you for your abandonment

Thank you for breaking me.

 

So Thank You Zachary Austin Kraushaar,

 

Cori Lea Selby

The Ring

the ring around my neck

the light shines in a heavenly way

but the secrets it hides

behind its golden facade

kills me inside everyday

the hate and the pain

the memories i don't want

and the ones i wish i had

It's my reminder

that love is fading

irrational

it is the equivalent

of pain

it feeds off you like a parasect

its needy and destroys good sense

it makes you selfish and unreasonable

And as soon as it recks your world

it fades leaving only the

desperate need to feel again

its leaves you broken

jaded, a freak among freaks

But i wear it with pride

and with shame

I know the leason i should learn

the one i've been taught before

and yet i cannot yeild

to want, to hope

that one day i can have

what is fake, what will fade

and for, if only for, a few seconds

feel that connection

to be cherished

and i know that i will covet it

and when it's gone feel

like i can't go on

but survival is instinct

and in me i do possess

a strength that i couldn't believe

to be real

but it's only when being strong

is the only thing i've got

that i can stand on my two feet

and with my chin up know

that i will be alright

no i won't ever be the same

but a smarter less idiotic me

So I'm dumb. Like completely dumb because i knew that i shouldn't hope, but i did anyway and with one sentence he crushed everything and i think he did it on purpose and that he knew exactly what he was saying and how i would take it. but then again i do read way more into everything than i should. maybe i should become a hermit. i dont think i could he comes to the house to often- too randomly. god im so stupid. so very stupid why couldn't i see that.

Writer's Block: Gamer's Choice

What is your favorite old-school video game?
Pong. You can't beat that. And possibly Pac-Man

Writer's Block: Confidences

Who do you think it is easier to talk about your problems with: your friends, your family, or strangers?
Well, it depends on the issues really. My family doesn't really understand my personal issues or relationship issues, plus i'd never go to them because i look at their personal lives and relationships and its a bad idea. they get my financial issues all too well tho, my sister is and investment analyst for the city and makes near 27/ hr and still is in debt for about 30,00. My personal issues, the deep dark ones are easier to talk to with strangers, like this shrink i saw when my doc thought i had adhd. [i ended up taking anti depressants for it that time, which only made people think i was going to off myself because i wasn't my bouncy self]. Mostly tho i talk to two people about everything. My ex/ personal dr. phil Zak and my bestie, Jackie.