I was never set free by the truth

John 8:32 “and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Growing up, I was continuously reminded at every opportunity that lying is literally the worst thing I could ever do. This Bible verse was repetitively hammered into my frail bones like it was the answer to every adult problem I could ever face. I will never forget the first time I was caught in a lie. My brother and I had been playing in our backyard and we decided that it might be fun to play our version of Power Rangers, a show we weren’t allowed to watch out of fear that it was too violent. A little while later, our mother appeared on the scene and demanded to know what we were playing. I was too afraid that I would get in trouble for playing an innocent game she disagreed with, so I lied. If I think hard enough, I can still remember the taste of the bar of soap and the way it made me gag as it was shoved in my mouth as punishment for my lie. The scraping of the top layer against my teeth. The bitter taste burning the back of my throat and making me dry heave. The acid that burned my stomach. There was no calm reprimanding. It was threat level midnight on first offense with my mother.

Or the incident a few years later, when Harry Potter became a mainstream obsession. Shortly after the first movie came out, I remember shopping at Target with my mother and brother. They had a television in the kids section that was playing a loop of the movie on silent. Our church had banned Harry Potter out of fear of the presence of witchcraft in the books and movies. As we were shopping, my mother noticed my brother had begun focusing his attention to the movie looping on the screen. She told him several times to stop watching it, and he assured her that he wasn’t. He was caught in his lie. Returning home, he was gifted with a fistful of belt thrashes.

There were endless conversations about the consequences of lying. The reminders that those who lie are hell-bound. The assurance that even white lies count, and yes, there is never a lie that is ever effective to keep anyone safe. Because lies will never keep anyone safe.

The troubling thing for me now, as a survivor, is that lying seems to be the only way to keep myself safe. The only thing that lets me sleep at night some weeks. The troubling thing for me now, as a survivor, is that lying seems to be the only thing keeping my shame at bay enough for me to even perform the act of surviving.

..for me to even perform the act of surviving.

You see, I spent 19 years holed up in a vortex of silence. The echo of truth banging against the walls inside the black hole we called a home. I was told that the life we were living was the truth, but no one else could have a look inside. Those who did not live there were not allowed to have access to the keys. They were shut out–metaphorically and literally.

Indoctrination does a funny thing. It brain washes you. It convinces you that what you are being taught is absolute truth and there is no point in questioning, because it is just the way it is. It makes you feel that the world is actually a warped Picasso painting, and that you are obviously a righteous, stable statue of perfection and purity outsiders are not quite ready to accept. It is an absolute mind-fuck of epic proportions. I watched as my parents told me over and over that I should despise those different from us. “Be not of this world. It surrounds you, but do not let it become you. ” Reminded that I was alien, not born of this world, but of a blessed bloodline I should be terrified others would taint.

Apparently, so blessed that I was not allowed to discuss my problems with other family members with whom I was extremely close with. Once it was discovered that I was having knowledgeable conversation with my cousins about topics other than the Bible, we were discouraged from spending time alone together. We were constantly interrupted, for fear I would be someone who removed the blindfold. I was repetitively wrist-yanked by my mother into the bathroom for harsh scoldings about my behavior. I think they were afraid that I, as the oldest, would be the one to make them all aware of the blindfolds that had been placed on our eyes in the delivery room. That somehow I had figured out their big secret, delved beneath the poison of their indoctrination and found fresh air.

The troubling thing to me, as a survivor, is that the truth has NOT set me free.

This week I have struggled with just making it through the long days. I have fought with sleep overrun with nightmares about the abuse I suffered, waking up in panic attacks that feel like I am being choked from the inside out. I have found my head in a constant cloudy reminder that my shame will always be the strongest chains, binding me to the past. Chains that I currently do not have the tools to break, so I do my best to paint them pretty colors so other people don’t notice their ugly hue clashing with my attempt at a bright exterior. Chains that I try to disguise by pretending their existence isn’t hindering my daily life, yet knowing they are.

There will always be the shame. The first emotion poured into the empty vessel of my soul as a baby, and the warning about not numbing my conscience. I think I will always feel guilty for exposing the truth about my past. I will feel forever consumed with the worry about what my abusers will think, and the inability to come to terms with the remainder of healing I still have yet to accomplish as a result of that denial.

I have always felt like I am being choked by a force far greater than myself.

When your parents are your abusers, you wonder if you will ever be able to untangle the complicated weaving mess of your relationship. If you will ever be able to dissect the shame and decide if you want to have a real relationship with them despite all those feelings or as a result of them. You will spend what feels like centuries, wading through old conversations in your head trying to pick apart the moment you realized that you were drowning in a sea of shame so deep you worried you would never be able to breathe again.

As a survivor, the truth never set me free. The truth only tangled things.

 

The repeating dream

Here’s an interesting dream I’ve had off and on for a few years.

I somehow manage to find myself in a bad part of town. It’s dilapidated and broken down, signs on the buildings are sad, and there is a weight all around. There are no one on the streets but some dirty, aggressive men leaning around shouting assaults at either me or the people without faces who are walking around. I try to pick up my pace, to blend in like one of the faceless people. I walk down an alley way. It is narrow. On each side of this pathway there are doors. Each locked up with padlocks, or gates, or they look terrifying. Tonight, I noticed a few of the doors were pathetically decorated with pretty paper or decorations to try to make them look lively. Finally, I enter one the buildings.

As I begin walking around, from apartment to apartment or room to room, I notice that they are dark and dimly lit. They are often dirty. Very dirty. Once I enter the filth I am always floating, because there is so much stuff everywhere that walking is impossible.  I rarely see tenants, but if I do hose that live in these places never talk to me. (I know this is difficult to explain. I’m doing the best I can right now). The places contains a depression and brokenness I can feel and it is extremely heavy in the air. Tonight, I dreamt that there was a “specialist” going around to the apartments discussing to the tenants why they are so sad. (for some reason I can’t decide if I was the specialist or if it was someone else I was observing.) The specialist in my dream began asking the tenant why she was so sad, what happened that parts of her home were closed off from being used. She said that her sister had died there and she was unable to grieve. 

In a different part of this building, I entered someone else’s home. The woman on the chair in the living room was so desperately broken she couldn’t get out of her chair. There was a gruesome fact that I will spare you, but she looked sickly and sad. Just so damn sad. There was a dachshund quietly walking around. The carpet was so disgusting. 

I don’t remember much else of the dream, but there have been different versions in the past. One of them is the same dream, but I don’t remember talking to anyone else, and the homes are always hoarded. I don’t often see people in the dreams. Another version is the same thing, but in a hotel. A rundown hotel and I sometimes hear people in the shower or mulling about, so I hide.  The other involves a house. I never know what it completely looks like but the first part of the dream, it is clean. I think that there are children in other rooms playing, but somehow I find myself in someone’s clean closet, amidst their clothes. I push the clothes aside to find a hidden doorway. It’s big enough for me to crawl into. I do so, and there are levels and levels of undiscovered rooms. They are empty, but there are big windows on the top floors. Some reason, I am afraid that those on the outside will see me. When I go to the basement of this house, I find rooms of hoarded things. I can’t figure out why, but usually my great grandmother is standing at the door way to the basement with me in this part of the dream. When we cleared her house, she had hoarded generations of treasures. She grew up during the great depression and there were times in her life when she wasn’t sure when she was going to eat next. She stands at the top of the stairs with me, and below there are piles and piles of the things she hoarded, broken and covered in filth. I may have ventured down to this part of the dream before, but I am not entirely sure. I don’t remember anything happening after this. 

 

This could be someone you know

Has anyone ever told you
what it feels like 
to be two parts of one whole? 
To not be sure 
of which half you’ll wake up as
in the morning? 
to feel your heart
constantly wedged in your throat
for fear of saying
what’s on the mind 
of the sad half of you? 

There are some days
I never touch down to reality
some days I feel the clouds
of my ancestors
begging me to be brave
and stand strong
but it’s so hard 
when you’re weak 
from wanting 
to wear the paths 
of your prayers
like circles 
around your fingers
because then there’d be proof
that you’d been searching
for the map all along 
and people might stop thinking 
that maybe 
your just listening 
to the beating 
of your own 
misunderstandings. 

I’ve spent so much time 
becoming acquainted 
with the hole in my pillow 
my head leaves 
when I just want to be left alone.
I’m so afraid 
that if I share the riverbeds
beneath my eyes ,
reveal all the joy 
the darkness
has stolen from me 
that someone 
will start seeing false cracks
in my smile
the way the moon 
saw my tongue 
and tried to fill it with it 
with visions of the fields
so I could run
away with my depression
and build a home for us 
beneath the weeping willows. 

I find it’s better 
if I stay home 
beneath the covers
because then 
I don’t have to explain 
to broken faces
why I can’t find the beauty 
anymore. 

I can’t wake up 
another morning 
with lead in my bones. 

I guess this is my cry for help

 
 

The way grizzly bears are more like fire flies.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what love looks like. And how often that word carries with it the weight of a thousand definitions and reasons and complications. Too often we make love selfish, and wear it on our wrists like a fashion statement, when love is the most beautiful, astounding thing I have ever seen. Someone who is really attempting to live a life full of love–now that is truly a sight to behold, because once you really begin to try to love the way love should really happen, your heart becomes a wellspring. It’s indescribable. 

I just think of the inside of a person who is learning to fight is a nighttime in summer. Within lies all the potential and greatness, floating around as lightening bugs, waiting for the moment they can pour out of their mouth and shine. 

Last night I learned a powerful lesson. It was a difficult lesson, but I knew something was changing inside of me the moment I chose to find peace instead of anger at the position I had been placed in. Let me explain. I was working my job in retail and a woman that has been known to cause trouble in our store came in last night. Generally speaking, she’s downright mean and bitter. Nothing you say will calm her down or make her compliment you. She just gets a rise out of her harshness. I am definitely not one for confrontations. Especially from people I don’t know. Last night, she unloaded on me, big time. Her ranting and raving lasted for quite some time. But something inside of me screamed louder than anger and told me to bite my tongue, stand up for myself a little in a kind manner, and let it go. 

After she left I was kind of overwhelmed. As the minutes ticked on, however, I wasn’t angry, I felt sorry for her. I had seen her in our store before. She looks lonely and miserable. And honestly, as I began to ponder the circumstances for her arrival last night, I began feeling regrettably empathetic towards her plight. 

I have been addicted to watching the show Hoarders for quite a while. I quite enjoy psychology, and comprehending the reasons behind the way people behave when they have had difficult challenges in their life. One of the things that is a common theme in the reason why I have observed people hoarding is their desire to keep people out. They have been repetitively wounded in various ways for so long, that in their desperate attempt to deal with the pain, they hoard stuff that is useless to build barriers between themselves and other people. That at least the objects would love them always, that it would be there when they cried. That happiness could be found in another sack of papers or useless shirts. But no matter what they could somehow manage to find peace in something that couldn’t hurt them. It’s not that they didn’t want people in their life, because honestly most of the time the stars of these shows are so lonely you can see their breaking heart worn in the crooked way they smile. They are just so damn afraid of letting anyone in that could hurt them, that they feel keeping then out is the only way. 

And this is exactly what I felt about this woman last night. It was like she had been wearing the weight of generations of pain and all of these traumatic things that had happened to her in the direction of her step, in the cut of her words, in the bite of her anger. There is one thing I have really learned these past few months, and it is that most of the time, that anger is all a front. It keeps the people out. Anger does a good job of scaring others to stay away. It’s a defense mechanism. It happens when we are afraid to see or deal with what we are capable of inside, when we don’t comprehend that healing can happen. 

When I started thinking about the incident after, all I could do was be humbled by the prospect that she is still in the darkness with a blindfold, feeling around the cave. Something settled on my heart and made me feel stunningly aware that anger was not the appropriate response. Love will bring light. Pray for your enemies. Smile when it’s hard. And for goodness sakes, be brave. Love is never easy, but it’s worth it. I will probably not change her, but she changed me. Even if it was just because she was angry for the millionth time. 

Like I say, there really is beauty in everything you see. 

Until next time,

Rosie

This is not a pretty story

This is not a pretty story

 

This does not have a happy ending.

 

I know there are valleys

and there are mountains

this is the rhythm of life.

I know not every moment

will strike my heart

in wondrous awe

because in order to celebrate

there must be nighttime,

but what happens

when you are traveling

between both at the same time

when there is beauty above

and darkness below

 

..I cannot find myself

I do not know where I have gone

 

I cannot find myself

 

When I grow old

and I tell my children

tales of my youth

what shall I tell them

about my twenty fourth year?

Shall I tell them

that I spend three-fourths of it

working until my bones were dry

and the rest

lying in bed

wondering

if I will ever

be worth something.

 

Will I ever be worth something

or will I constantly fight

the inner clockworkings

of this battered heart?

 

I cannot find myself.

I do not know what shadow

all my happiness has fled behind

even when goodness

overwhelms my heart

like gold

I cannot find myself.

I do not know

where I have gone.

 

Ravishedbrain

I know it has been a while since I’ve taken the time to write here. I apologize for my absence, but life has once again begun swirling about my feet like a whirlwind. Sometimes I wonder if I’m manic. Not seriously, but inquisitively. There will be lulls in my life in which getting out of bed seems as though it is the hardest thing I have to do all day, and I will live for the moment to get back into it, to escape into that non-existent reality of dreams. Other times I feel that there is so much life pushed behind the bars of my ribcage that at any moment my heart may go flying and hurdling through midair as I try to contain all of the dreams and passion coursing through my veins. 

I am unstoppable. 

My being is an entire beautiful universe that some day an astronaut will make millions learning how to explore. They will write about their discoveries, mostly entailing the vast unearthed space of my brain, that will cover hundreds of huge thousand-page books in hurriedman scrawlings. There will be documents released about the whereabouts of certain planets, the cosmos of my brain entirely new territory, and they will talk about the creation of my being in school, as each brain cell, all of its matter will be undocumented territory. There will be no explanation for the insurmountable desire to unearth all of its mysteries. 

There are times where wading through the endless stream of thoughts in my head feels like I am tugging at a drapery that will inevitably pull me into quicksand and the only memory that reminds me that I should be bedpartners with fear is the one that tells me that thereisnogoingback. A voice that says: remember lasttime? You’ll get lost out there somewhere in that vast universe of your infinite mind and never return to reality. 

But then I awaken and wonder firmly if I am even in reality. What defines my heart from the vastness of another? I cave into myself daily, feel the pressure of society pulling on each tendon of my body, in different, varied, hurried, painful directions like a vice. I cannot make up my mind sometimes. There are segments I feel that I must discover, today, now, immediately, but somehow the access code to this library of imagination is gone. 

I’m floating. 

Wilderness never felt more beautiful. But I could not be more complete in the feeling of being lost. For months now my compass has been leading me in different paths, so intertwined yet so confusing that I have believed the lie that I was going nowhere. And therefore in comes the feeling of being lost. Am I aimlessly wandering through life, and the only reason I am later discovered is because no one has ever failed at life so miserably? That’s not it. I know it. 

 

God what is this shit I’m writing? 

My mind has been swirling about like this for months. Or has it  been days that feel like months? I was convinced that taking that trip to California would be good for my insomnia, that I would be so exhausted upon my return that I would have no option but to go to bed like a “normal person”. To crawl under the covers, flip the invisible brain switch off, and pitter patter my eyes into dream land. I caught a cold when I got back that left me so completely drained that I had no choice but to submit my body to the sleep gods. I’m now on the road to feeling better. Last night I even made the attempt to shut off the computer early so that I could try reading to quiet my brain from the hundreds of senseless thoughts like above from thumping around my head like an unwanted ogre. Instead my eager heart wanted only to finish the damn book, not put it down. I willed myself one more page, then turned off the light and closed my shades. And then the thoughts started spilling out around the place that said I was too tired. Thoughts like: 

What about tomorrow? Job? What will I say to them? That darn book of poetry seeping out I need to work on. My goals. The future. Children. Marriage. 

And the list went on. It’s as though my brain knows, somewhere, that I’m desperately trying to rest and goes on high alert. A joke or something. Instead I spend the hours swirling around recipes for my life, throwing rose petals in the water hoping that the soothing splash will make the lights turn off. 

Fragmented. 

I don’t remember falling asleep last night. 

But I do know that the swarm of bees that followed me to bed last night, also followed my waking self today. They always do. At the end of the week the swarm is huge, and I have to take time like tonight, late in the night, to write it all down before something hard and deep inside me breaks. I fear that breaking. Fear that sometime my mind will go completely insane and everything good in my life will walk out and leave me desperate. 

The other half of my brain reminds me that some of the greatest writers and composers were clinically insane. Mad. Ill. And that their relationships were crazy, but no one really cared about that, all they cared about was the massive amount of amazing, prolific writing that poured from their endless cranial cavities. So there is hope if I the madness that I know is inside of me decides one day to boil to the surface and expand, volcano like. 

I wish I had a more stable blog post to present to you tonight, but my thoughts are everywhere right now. It could be as a result of a lot of things. The fact that I have had my nose stuck in one of the most amazing books, unable to resurface my brain from the ideas that are trembling within the pages. The notable curiosity that I managed to go so long without writing at all, here or most anywhere else, to let those rumbling thoughts out before they burst through my sternum and let my heart be splayed along the gravelstone like an archeologist’s dream display of beauty. Or is it the fact that somehow, I feel as though my head is constantly in a confused state of “Inception” wondering where dreams end and reality begins and if I could find that beautiful red cord that ties us all together what would I do with it? I do not know the answer to life’s questions. I can only come up with more. 

Ruptured

can I kiss you with my scars,

make love to the littlepieces

you leave tucked in your

missingletter crosswords?

would it make for a better story

when our souls go out at night

and you are left with nothing

but the pale shadow form

of your sweat left behind

in the shape of your heartless body

from the night before?

 

and when I make sense

of all these tribulations

will you extinguish them,

or will you peel back

the exoskeleton

and add me

as another slash mark

splayed in your wallet,

as another discovery

conquered,

nothing more?

 

I want to be what moves you

when the world is full

of languid desire,

a restless form

sprawled neatly

across the pillowcase

as time ticks,

disintegrating our heartbeats

in brilliant unison. 

 

There’s still so much youth

that needs to be aired out of my bones

and right now

it’s lying smothered beneath my frailty

finding itself

in the rings left behind

after shots

taken alone in the kitchen

after emptiness

is wept out in the wind

and whispered

in broken book ends.

 

world,

I’m ready to puncture

every imaginative impulse

you’ve attached my name to

branded on pieces of rocks

to weigh me down,

leaving me to wonder

why pride

was my bedpartner

taking half the covers

and more than that

of my heart.

 

I shouldn’t have to explain

what fragments

of my past

lie on the path of destruction

for today.

What moments replay

–monumental against

the grain of the sunrise

I’m swiftly running towards.   

 

so tonight

is it okay if I just sweat out

the pain

and breathe in the mist

of your frantic longing

until the cradle

of this bottle

exhales me

as a full blown woman

and no longer

a frightened need,

a mist on the seas of change

hoping one day

to blow like the lilacs

and change the tide of the world.