Category Archives: Prose

Once Upon a Time…

I learned to read when I was very young, I went into kindergarten knowing how to read (which, let me tell you did not make me a popular kid). The books I gravitated towards as a kid were always those I could get lost in, ones that created a new world for me to be part of. I was a quiet kid, kind of shy and pretty awkward so books became my friends. I lived in my imagination, maybe that’s what draws me to write now.

Even as I grew up and learned how to be social I still loved getting lost in a book, I’d spend hours reading alone in my room. I always had at least one book I was reading and most of the time I had more than one. I read a lot of Nancy Drew and Goosebumps and other mystery and horror books, those still remain some of my favorite types of books. When I was in fifth grade we read The Hobbit, this was the first fantasy book I’d really ever read and I loved it. When the Book Fair came through my school that year I begged my mom for the money to buy that book. It is easily my favorite book, I own at least three copies of it.

I identified with Bilbo, this awkward, fearful character who was suddenly thrust into an adventure he wasn’t even sure he wanted. I felt that way about life, I was so happy when I was by myself because it was easier. I didn’t know how to relate to other kids, it didn’t help that my home life was so much stranger than everyone elses. My parents were divorced (that wasn’t really odd) but my mom was sick, everyone knew my mom was sick and that she walked with a cane. Yeah, that makes you the weird kid.

When my mom died when I was 12 years old I delved further into books. I read The Lord of the Rings and I started reading other fantasy books. I wanted to be in the worlds I read about, I wanted to be with the characters who made me feel less alone. There aren’t a lot of things more uncomfortable than being the new kid in school (I was in my new school for 6 months) and having your mom die. I can’t really blame the other kids for not knowing how to act around me, parents aren’t supposed to die when you’re 12 years old.

When we moved back to Los Lunas in 2000 I thought it would be better because I already knew all those people, they all knew my mom was sick and that she had died. It wasn’t much better because again, kids aren’t really equipped to deal with things like losing a parent. I was in eighth grade when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. My Step-Dad had brought the book home and told me I’d like it. I devoured it, here was a character I could really understand. I was so lonely and there wasn’t anyone around me who could even remotely understand what I was going through, but there was this character who felt all the same awkwardness and uncomfortableness about being different.

I read the first four books (the fifth didn’t come out until I was in high school) over and over to the point that I can quote those books like other people can quote movies. It wasn’t just that I liked the story or that they were entertaining, or even that they created a world I could so clearly imagine and fall into, no, it was that I related so well to Harry and I understood so much of what he felt.

As I’ve gotten older and the HP series has become one of the most famous series of books in the world I’ve seen a lot of bashing of not just the books but the fans, calling us a cult and telling us we don’t know what “real” literature is. I used to get angry when I read or heard stuff like that but it doesn’t bother me so much anymore.  I know so many people who read those books and felt things similar to what I felt, that when reading them they felt less alone. The characters and the stories relieved us of the burden of our everyday lives, let us forget our own hurt for a little while and made us feel that it was possible to find someone out there who would understand. One of my closest friends is one of those people, we can have endless conversations about Harry Potter, not just because we’re nerds (and we so are) but because those books helped us, gave us a sanctuary when we didn’t have anything else.

When I about growing up I think a lot about the books and I read and the ones that always stand out in my memory are The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series. Those books were my friends when I had none, they made me feel less alone and they made me realize I wasn’t alone. If I felt those things reading those books chances are so did millions of other people, maybe we’d been through different things and had different reasons for reading but all of us found comfort in those characters and settings.

Even now, as an adult when I read those books I feel like I’m visiting an old friend and I feel comforted. I still love to read, I feel disconnected if I don’t have at least one book I’m reading and I feel better when I have at least two. I love getting lost in stories and meeting new characters, but I always come back to my oldest “friends.”

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Choosing Myself

I want to talk about something I’ve avoided for a while not just on here but in my regular life.

Violence, specifically domestic violence.

A relationship I was involved in for 5 years ended due to domestic violence. I was choked and hit. This is something I still have a hard time talking about and something that still has an effect on me. Everything I have written about what happened was written from the mindset of saying goodbye to the relationship. I have done that and I’m now ready to talk about how this has affected me.

The first thing I want to say is I really don’t believe violence is ever the answer to an argument. I don’t believe using physical strength to overpower and scare someone weaker is not acceptable. If violence is being considered as a serious option in an argument or as a way to express emotions the relationship is over. I don’t believe in giving second chances after that line has been crossed. I did give another chance and all I really did was give that person another chance to hurt me and he did.

What happened to me terrified me. In that moment when his hands were on my neck and they were squeezing I knew fear in a way I had never known it before. I was in shock and I became afraid of this person I once loved. As much as I wanted to leave I also feared leaving, I feared what would happen and if violence would again become an option.

I did leave, I was gone for 3 months and then I came back. I let myself be hurt again by allowing him to blame me for his actions, by allowing myself to believe it really was my fault. The fear I developed stayed and it affected the way we interacted, it affected my mental health and when violence again became a way to end an argument I knew I was wrong to come back.

I left again. For good. I thought being away from it would make the fear and the sadness go away. It didn’t. For a long time it intensified, I still dislike being touched unless I specifically allow it. I thought saying goodbye to the relationship was enough to say goodbye to the emotional and mental scars I was left with. I’ve learned it’s not.

I also learned some valuable things about what domestic violence does to a person inside and why so many victims choose to stay. For months after I left I was harrassed and called names and so many times I thought going back would just solve everything. I was made to feel guilty for leaving, for choosing myself. My interactions with men changed, I saw everyone as a potential abuser and expected violence during even the smallest arguments. In some ways I was comforted when a man reacted in the way I was used to, that began to scare me.

I had to force myself to be aware of the behaviors of those around me and I had to force myself to say it wasn’t ok for me to be with someone who behaved in an abusive way. I had to keep putting myself first, to keep choosing myself.

I still am uncomfortable talking about what happened and admitting that it did happen. I hate weakness in myself and for quite a while all I saw was weakness. I finally realized it took strength to leave, it took strength to choose myself.

I’m still learning how to be ok. How to move past what happened and let the internal wounds heal. It’s not easy but I realized I needed to talk about it, I needed to admit it happened. So here it is.


A Sort Of Death

“You people always hold onto old identities, old faces and masks, long after they’ve served their purpose.
But you’ve got to learn to throw things away eventually.” -Death (Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman)

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m feeling a tad introspective. I’ve thought a lot about the last year and the way things changed. Twenty days into this year I faced a truth I had been avoiding for a very long time, it forced me to leave my entire life and try and start over alone and very afraid. I made mistakes, a lot of mistakes. I found and lost someone I thought was a true friend, I faced the sad truth that a person I loved and cared about did not see me as anything more than a convenience and an object to be used. I looked at myself and realized I was becoming a person I didn’t like. I took all the pain I had been through and turned it inward, allowing myself to become cynical and bitter. I stopped hoping and became content to be used and hurt. I felt that was all I deserved.

At my absolute lowest point, crying on the floor of a former friend’s bathroom I realized I needed a change. I realized that despite how much I was hurt hurting myself more was never going to be the answer. I was holding onto that pain like a security blanket because I was comfortable being in pain. When I left that former friend’s house I wandered right into the person who showed me I don’t need that pain anymore.

When Ben and I first started dating I was asked what I liked about him. I couldn’t quite explain what it was so I said he makes me feel good. That was both correct and an understatement. He makes me feel good, positive, happy. He takes my insanity in stride and calmly tells me when I’m being a crazy person. He’s the only person who has flat out, point blank told me to stop allowing myself to be a victim, stop victimizing myself. My initial reaction to that was a flash of anger, I worked hard NOT to be a victim, I ignored my pain, ignored the trauma, I was stronger than that. Who was he to tell me I was a victim? For once I kept my mouth shut and thought about what he said.

He was right.

As much as I wanted to not be a victim I turned myself into one. I let myself be used and abused and hurt. Hearing that was like a shock, being slapped in the face by my own hand. I cried a lot when I realized that despite my internal mantra of  “I am NOT a victim” I was. I had been through relationship after relationship where I was abused either physically, emotionally or in one case, both. I had gotten to the point that I was uncomfortable with relationships that didn’t center around me being hurt. Ben called me out on that, told me I needed to stop that because he wasn’t going to hurt me and I needed to accept that.

Letting go of feeling like I deserve to be hurt hasn’t been easy. I look back on the people I loved and when I objectively look at those relationships I see they were all full of pain. I don’t like admitting I failed horribly, but I did. I did exactly what I said I never would, I let someone else dominate me and hurt me. I’ve always said I want a partnership in a relationship, I want an equal, a friend. I never had that until I met Ben.

I was so used to dysfunctional relationships I was terrified of one that actually might work so initially I ran away. I’m glad I turned around and when I did he was still there. This year has been a year of letting go, of moving on and of starting over. I have always hated change, I’m not good at it but I don’t think anyone really is. This time though, I’m happy for the change, glad I had the courage to see it through. I look back at this year and I’m so glad it’s over. I’m glad I’m starting 2012 in a happy place.


Mother

I think anyone who has read anything on this blog is well aware of the fact that I lost my mother when I was a child. It is a grief I’m not sure ever really goes away. Yes, it gets easier and nearly all the time I can think about her and not feel sad. There are some times, however that I can’t.

I am six weeks pregnant with my first child. I’m happy, really happy. But there is a small part of me that is incredibly sad. I will never be able to share this with my mom. She won’t get to know her grandchild. This makes me sad. I know how much my mom loved me and my brother and the older I get it becomes clearer how much I really do miss her.

I’m trying not to focus on how much I miss her. I know it will get easier again, but right now when I think of questions I want to ask I realize I don’t really have anyone to call or visit and talk to. Part of that might be my fault too, I don’t let people in easily. I don’t really trust easily and I don’t like other people to see me vulnerable. I know this sort of compounds my problem.

When I think about having this baby I want so much for my mom to be able to see him or her, to be able to share that with her. I see how happy my nephew makes my dad and I wanted to be able to see my mom happy like that. I guess in some ways I just feel gypped. I know she’s with me, and if she were here she’d be happy. I guess this just sort of added another layer of grief I wasn’t really expecting to deal with. It’s not like the grief I felt when she first died, that was sharp and hard. This is more subtle and quiet, kind of like the way warm soup feels when it hits your stomach. You feel it and it’s familiar but at the same time kind of uncomfortable. I don’t like feeling sad and missing her. I especially don’t like feeling sad right now. I want to just be happy and excited but I can’t seem to shake this little sadness.

I guess there’s another layer to this feeling as well: Fear. Everyone I know who has kids has their mother to provide some kind of guidance and example. I do have memories of my mom, but I’m afraid I won’t be good at this because I’ve spent half my life without my mother. Ben has already told me I shouldn’t worry about this, that I’ll be a good mother, that I’m a good person and a kind person and that will translate to my parenting.

I am glad I have him, every time I’ve gotten sad and cried he’s reminded me that my mom is with me and that even if she’s not here she is happy. I know I’ll probably cry some more and miss her some more but eventually I think I’ll be ok again. And above all else, I am SO happy I’m pregnant.


Gypsy

What is home? I’ve been looking for home for a long time, in that time I’ve found a lot of things it isn’t.

For instance home is not the vacant former home of one of your friends, neither is it the RV you shared vodka bottle after vodka bottle with said friend. Home is not the bedroom floor at your best friend’s house, no matter how nice it is to pretend you belong to a family it is not your family. Home is also not the mobile home you grew up in after your mother died.

But what is home? Is it a place, a person, a feeling?

Since I was a child I felt like I should be a  nomad. My family didn’t wander, yeah we moved a few times but really no more than average. I felt like I needed to run, needed to get away and experience things I couldn’t experience here. I still feel that way. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt home except when I was with my mom. I was fascinated with gypsies and other wandering folk. I wanted to just pack up and leave but another part of me saw that as selfish. I had people here who needed me, relied on me. I still fight that urge to just run away, to just pack up the few items that mean something to me and run.

I’ve always been fascinated by gypsies and other nomads but gypsies were the top of the list for me. I think if I could be anything I would be a gypsy. Yes, this is just a childhood fantasy but wouldn’t it be wonderful? See new places, meet new people and never feel the restrictions of a “normal” life. I desire the feeling of home more than almost anything, but I’ve determined home doesn’t have to be one set place. I felt at home sitting at Roosevelt Park at 11 0’clock at night drinking cheap beer and talking about life with a good friend, I’ve felt at home playing Magic: The Gathering with my boyfriend at Denny’s. Home is a feeling, not a place.

Home is the comfort of knowing whoever you’re with, you belong. So home is the vacant former home of one of my friends, home is the RV we shared vodka and beer, home is also the bedroom floor of my best friend. This is what gypsies knew that us “normal” people don’t know, home isn’t the house you live in it’s the people you love who love you back.


Dear John

You had my heart, I gave it to you whole and full of trust. You returned shards that have been splintered with the worst kind of heartache. Every promise I made to you I kept, every time I said I’d be there I was there. There was never a time when I was too busy, too stressed, too anything for you. I didn’t do the things I did so I could later throw them in your face in that argument, I did them because I care about you, because you were my friend and you needed me. Yes, I felt more for you than friendship and yes, I wanted it to go somewhere but in the end what I wanted was your friendship.  I wanted those nights we sat in Roosevelt Park, drank cheap beer and talked about everything. I wanted the days we drove in my car singing Cee Lo at the top of our lungs, I wanted the nights we sat in the RV listening to Mumford & Sons and talking about the crappy hand life had dealt us.

I needed you, this wasn’t just my problem it was our problem. We dealt with it together until the aftermath and then you left me alone. You abandoned me when I needed you most, something I had never done to you, would never do to you. I loved you in every way one person can love another. It wasn’t romantic the way you thought it was, it was the kind of love people have for one another when they’ve been to hell and back together. I told you I’d always be your friend, always be here for you and I meant it. I still mean it. I want so much to forgive you, for you to care that you hurt me so deeply.

I miss you so much it tears me apart every time I think about it. Every time I hear a song we listened to or I make a joke about something we did my heart breaks a little more. I trusted you so completely I never thought I’d feel these things and it would be because of you. I’ve given up hope that I’ll ever hear from you again and that breaks me apart inside. I wish what we went through together made a difference to you.