The Reason Is You

Even during the darkest days, when the clouds were black and threatening, and I felt lost inside myself, panicked and scared, I held on. When those things happened, even though they happened a lot,  I held on, and caught my grip even when I thought I couldn’t.

You, Brian, my older brother, kept me out of harm’s way, when you could. You were always my hero. My protector, when dad’s abusive arm would try to attack me, stinging my cheek until it was raw and bloody or when he threw me across the room after drinking too much, you tried to help. I wanted you to get out too. Mom was no help, she drank too.

I wept when you joined the Marines,

you knew I would, and yes, I tried to be brave. I tried to stay at home after you left, I lasted six weeks. After that I ran away. I couldn’t live with him drinking night and day, hitting mom, hitting me.

I didn’t want to leave mom but she wouldn’t go with me, she wouldn’t budge. She started drinking even more with him. That was her choice and I knew what my mine was,  I had to leave. You always said I was strong, I trusted you, I took a bus to Seattle, the first bus out of the station and left.

Of course I didn’t want to live on the streets, do you think that’s what I wanted? No, I

looked for jobs every single day but there were many people like me there, the temperature was mild, it was a little rainy but that was okay. I made friends, someone taught me how to play the guitar. Brian, I had no choice, please don’t be mad at me.

I’m here, waiting for you to come find me.

I’ll do whatever you want me to do but please come. I swear I don’t do drugs or nothing, I don’t even drink like most people here do. I live near the picture, sometimes they let me drink coffee, when they need help like washing dishes I help them and they pay me in food.

The only thing I won’t do is go home to them, our horrible parents, never will I do that. How could our parents expect us to live with them? They shouldn’t have been allowed to have us if they were just gonna drink and slap us around.

They should have had classes for people and make them take them before they let them have babies. Check them out, you know? Test them for drugs or alcohol, or watch they see their real personalities. I would never do that to my kid and I know you wouldn’t either Brian. You wouldn’t even let them do it to me when you were home.

Please don’t be mad at me, please. You are the only one I have in my life that I love.

love you,

Samantha

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#Free Write Friday, Kellie Elmore

Credit: We Heart It

 

Nowhere To Go, In Time Or Place

I felt the tears of uncertainty and dread spring to my eyes. I quickly wiped them away with the back of my hand because if I didn’t they would stick to my face like hot glue. Change hasn’t happened in our lives for years but I know, in my gut, we will be saying good-bye to the world as we knew it, forever.

Saying good-bye to the past, yet clinging, pathetically, to the memories that I hold dear. Old memories that rust in time but bloom in my brain like day lilies.

Another chapter will be beginning but we don’t know when or where.  Getting older is not easy unless you are a sweet, innocent child. Children love to turn another year older, there is no death in their future, just presents, and  cakes with candles, hope, fun and friends.The aged lack hope universally.

For us, their parents or grandparents, it takes on a whole other realm of closing a chapter and warily beginning another, the last third chapter or the beginning of the end. We don’t celebrate parties in the same way anymore; birthdays come around, it feels like, every few months. There is no happiness in aging when you can’t go back in time. Even memories become stale, photographs, blurry.

Our bodies hurt, pain clings to us like Saran wrap on cheese, transparent, almost impossible to remove. It holds us hostage in our weary, broken bodies

I hold on to the wooden stair rail, going downstairs slowly, sticky over time, but now I am fond of the predictable stickiness in certain areas. I have walked up and down these stairs thousands of times, with sick babies, and naughty toddlers, with gleeful children and with young adults I was proud to call my children. I walked with my husband supporting me and me supporting him.

I am not sure of the timeline, of when we will leave. It could be as early as six months but it could be more like a year, maybe two. The jittery nerves inside me says it will sneak up on us like a deer crossing our path in front of our car in the dead of the night.

I have practiced saying good-bye to everyone I love and have to leave behind in my shaken heart. I will be leaving this home, this carrier of memories. I know I am on my way, still clutching to some false sense of security.

Entering into another phase of my life, of our lives. I have to control myself from me not to sob out loud. I know this tiny, white house which in six months could be painted navy blue or brown. I don’t know, I will never know. But it will never be my house again. My children will not grow up here, the trees we planted for the children will stay and the two big gray rocks other people’s children will climb on.

We are homeless, we have nowhere to go although we can stay for a little time in a few places but never like this again. The locks on the doors will be changed in two days, maybe three, new owners will eventually move in.  The FOR SALE sign on the front yard seems to deface our property. It has already defaced our home.

English: for sale sign

A chapter in our lives is about to be over, a new chapter has not yet been written, the lines blur together. We are standing, clutching on to memories not yet ready or willing to create new ones. I am not sure I will ever want to make new ones.

We step aside, we cling to the naked walls and to each other with the depths of our depression in our hearts beating slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FWF Kellie Elmore

“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.” — Louise Erdrich, TracksPain Teens (album)

I was weary, weak beyond anyone’s mind could see. It wasn’t just my physical pain that had failed me, I was used to pain. It stayed with me like a shadow every day and night of my life. This was different, this was emotional, mind pain that wrapped itself around my neck and pulled tight. I knew I could breathe but I felt like I couldn’t, like some evil demon was choking me, I could practically see inside myself, red, raw lines around my throat from the choke marks. This would be my undoing. I hoped it was.

I knew I couldn’t fight and the hysteria that I felt came bubbling up like a spring on a hot, dry day. I was out of control, lots of pills, lots of pills. Weed too. I could see the water but I couldn’t taste it or feel it. As much as I knew that logically, it didn’t prevent me from continually trying, again, the pain getting deeper, the vice holding my throat deepening every second. I was only thirteen but I had lived a thousand years already, I wanted to die, I was not scared of death. That was not a fear I had.

I knew what I was up against, I already had been living on the streets my whole life. It didn’t matter. No pills I bought from the street, that I dry swallowed, could lessen that inside feeling of feeling out of control. It was a horrible feeling, so I tried more pills, pink, blue, white, lots of colors. Like in a magazine, little pretty children wandering alone, not being able to find their mother in the middle of a busy city, constantly calling out, yet nobody would answer them. They were lost but not found. It did not have a happy ending. All these children could do was cry and be afraid and the story would finish just the way it started. I knew better than that. I kept popping more pills, nothing was happening to me. Yet.

Sometimes that’s the way the world works. Not everything gets tied up perfectly with a pink, lace ribbon, curled on the ends. Not everyone is a tiny ballerina on stage, showered with perfect red roses after a performance on their pointed pink ballet shoes. No, that was for dreamers and I was no dreamer. That was for people, the very tiny amount of people that lived in the rich life I never came in contact with but I heard about or read about it. My mother was a junkie, she lived on the streets, sometimes but not with me, no. I saw my mom who I called “Destiny” shooting up heroin in a corner, on a street. We didn’t say hello to each other. Usually she was so out of it she wouldn’t know me. When I recognized her, I pretended I didn’t. Me, popping pills, her doing heroin.

I was a street child, a crazy one at that. I lived here and there, whatever place I decided was mine for the night. The only name my mother ever called me was “gutter-child.” That’s the only name I knew.

Free Write Friday: Kellie Elmore

Rich Man, Poor Man

Rich Man, Poor Man (Photo credit: kcnickerson)

Name is John, most people around here call me Johnny D. don’t care much what people call me but I like Johnny D. better than John cuz it sounds less like Catholic school and more like my life now. I haven’t been to a church in years, not sure they’d want me anyways not with the life I lead. I live in the streets, and when warm it’s good but when it’s cold and snowing not so much. I huddle in doorways where people with their leather boots step around me, “hey don’t judge me asshole”, and sniff. So what if I smell bad, maybe you smell bad but they are just plain disgusted that a man could end up like me, living on the street, black garbage bag as my rent. What do they know, they know nothing, I’ll tell you. They judge me but they don’t know me, not one bit.” Hey, YOU, “I scream sometimes to get their attention,” I WAS you once” and then I take a long drag from my filter-less cigarette and keep laughing, that really makes em move fast, real fast.

Yep, I was walking in expensive, brown Italian leather shoes, carrying a briefcase and heading down to the city to a big- shot job. I made good enough money in banking until the world tipped over on its head and the stock market crashed like an airplane into water. Casualties everywhere, people drowning, hell, they were the lucky ones. I wish I had drowned but God kept me alive which to me was more punishment than having just killed me. I wasn’t lucky, I was cursed. I saw men and women who told me their plans to kill themselves with drugs and jagged lines up and down and across their wrists so they would get themselves good. They didn’t want to make no mistakes in dying.

So here I am, having failed at something I wanted to do. I couldn’t even die. Couldn’t even put myself out of my own misery. Well, shit, why I don’t know. People say it wasn’t my time to go, but I sure felt it was. I wanted to go so bad and not embarrass my wife and my baby girl and son anymore. They used to be so proud of their dad but now they referred to me as a “bum.” I was never any “bum” I was just down on my luck but my wife she didn’t stick up for me, not once.

Well, I guess she didn’t like the alcohol problem I was having and the drugs but I was trying to quit, I swear. She threw me out and that’s why I started living on the streets, not that I had too much of a choice.  Once or twice in the winter I stayed in a shelter for people like me, good people, until I got on my feet again. Just not on my feet yet. But, I will be soon enough. I’m determined to get help and walk straight up again, just need some good luck, someone to give me a break and a job. No, I haven’t been looking for a job myself but soon someone will find me and offer me a job, I can feel it. Then, I will get paid money, instead of collecting it here on the street with a cup, shave off my beard, change my clothes and stand straight and tall and go home so that my little girl can run and hug me and my son will jump on my lap and my wife will want to have me back because I have dreams. Aint nobody gonna take away my dreams.

walmart man

Photograph credit to photographers

Kellie Elmore and K. Nickerson

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It Matters (Carry On Tuesday – After All, Tomorrow Is Another Day)

Shandi-lee X {pieces I}

Image by Shandi-lee via Flickr

After three days of cold, grim weather and not wanting to get out of the comfort of my bed, today I saw the first suggestion of sunshine, still hidden behind the trees. It was a hint, a mere lighting of the sky but it gave me hope. I stood by the window unclothed until I saw lines from the white venetian blinds stripe my body as if I was a lioness; I threw back my head and laughed with delight. I marched straight for the shower, feeling empowered just by the light of day, not held captive anymore by the banal, grey, humorless me.

I dressed quickly, as if I had a purpose, and rounded my dog up, leashed her and took her outside for a walk. “Come, girl,” I said, “I know, it’s a surprise for me too.” She chose the route and I breathed in deeply for that first attack of the fresh, cold, crisp air, like the first bite of a fall Macintosh apple. We passed a tree that had small, round inedible, red berries on it and I stood there for a few moments looking at them through different angles of my cold hands through the frail winter branches against an intensely rich blue sky.

I thought of what I had been through the last year and the first thought that entered my mind was that “it matters.” People don’t truly understand that when you promise something, and you give people your word, they believe you. They may never bring it up to you again,  but, they do remember. It’s not some hazy questionable memory either, it’s with alarming clarity. “You must come for dinner” people told us when we had no place to live but a single hotel room, “I will call you this week” they said soothingly as I sobbed on the phone, feeling utterly helpless, my husband just having had surgery, believing them.  They never called, they never came through on their empty promises or the promises they made at the time, apparently off the cuff. Next time, busy people, try to think it through because for people who feel homeless or displaced, we cling to the thought of an offer of a home-cooked meal, an offer from your heart when we feel we have nothing left.

“We’ll miss you, we love you” said the young replacement friends in the temporary home and of course, I am too gullible. I am too sensitive and too thoughtful and I take things too seriously. I believe people and even at my old age, I still have not learned that most people, the majority of people say things that they do not mean. Even one of my best friends knew I was in trouble and yet she did what most people would do and pushed me off into a corner until she had more time on her hands. I know my standards are high, too high, but I could not do that and sleep well at night; actually I could not sleep at all. Even when I was crying out for help albeit weakly, people acknowledged it and said “after all, tomorrow is another day” and turned their heads away.

Be careful of your words, be careful of your intentions, be kind to one another. Don’t offer things unless it is with a true heart  especially if they are vulnerable and lost unless you KNOW you can carry through. We have all felt lonely and sad and desperate one time or another. Remember that feeling when you see someone suffering like a child gripping her mother’s hand in fear. Remember too, that it could be you someday, that it could be you.

2011 in 12 Sentences

HERE’S HOPING FOR A BETTER 2012

old house

January 2011, I’m so damn cold, I can’t get warm.

February 2011, I’m still so friggin cold and I hate the ice.

March 2011, Weeping because my son is graduating High School

April 2011, Stress in the family, college stress, grandma stress, she feels poorly

May 2011, A two-week vacation in Spain with my husband, heaven (except for the pick pocketing incident)

June 2011, My son graduates, more tears, but he got into a good college and he is happy, he works at his old camp, away the whole summer.

July 2011, Husband and I are stressed because daughter is not working

August 2011 Husband breaks Achilles tendon, needs surgery, I drive alone to bring son to college. We plan for a new kitchen and instead our house falls apart, termites, carpenter acts, wood rot, deception. We have to move and share one room with daughter and dog in a hotel. (For over 3 months.) Daughter starts to look at colleges. Husband is out of commission for over three months, on crutches.

September 2011 It cost us financially, emotionally and physically, we are all depressed.

October 2011 My birthday sucked, August September, October sucked, most friends forgot about us, broken promises, “out of sight, out of mind?”

November 2011 Life still sucks.

December 2011 Still in hotel for first half of the month, back home in second half. No money for Christmas presents. The house is still a construction site; but at least we’re home. Gratitude and love for those who helped us and invited us, never will be forgotten.

Can’t wait to say good-bye to 2011.

Can you blame me?!

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Gratitude (Chronic Babe Blog Carnival) November

Heart bokeh 2

Most everyone in our caring Chronic Pain community knows that the last three months has found my family renting a small room in a small hotel having been harshly betrayed and ousted from our house by termites, carpenter ants, and completely rotted wood. Everywhere. What started as a simple kitchen renovation became the nightmare you would imagine in a horror movie. That horror show was mine. At the very same time, my husband ruptured his Achilles Tendon while running to catch a train. It’s like one of those scary novels some people read so when you are finished reading you can clap the book shut and be thankful that the book is over and you can return to your own life. Not this time.

Facing emotional, physical and possible financial ruin for the house (no, insurance did not pay a dime) I had to adjust to our new circumstances and yes, I did cry a lot. But, in order to maintain my sanity and hold it together I decided, with a lot of pushing and prodding, that I needed to focus on something, anything positive. I was grateful that we didn’t have life-threatening diseases to deal with in a hospital. Truly, I gave thanks for that every day, sometimes every hour because while the situation we were in was uncomfortable and sad and draining, no one would die because of it (although we all felt terribly violated). I felt bad for my daughter, a senior in high school, who had to room with her parents on an uncomfortable cot in the same room. I felt bad for my husband, on crutches, non weight-bearing, hobbling around the room. I even felt bad for myself who got the brunt of everyone’s dissatisfaction. I managed. I even found the strength to drive my son to his first day of college and back, all by myself; I even felt proud ( because if you knew my sense or lack of sense of direction I’m lucky to be back home now.) IF I HAD TO, I COULD DO ANYTHING; a great lesson to learn.

Of course I wept, and I was cranky and felt sorry for us but that wouldn’t do me any good for three months, nor would it help my family, especially my husband who was bed -ridden or on crutches for most of the time, unable to work. I needed to know that, despite my own intense pain and flare-ups from Fibromyalgia and an auto-immune disease (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) I could do what I HAD to do. I was grateful I could do it even if I paid for it later on. It didn’t matter. When my husband had to be pushed up a hill in a transport, I was the one who did it. I don’t know where I got the strength but my mind and my guts and my determination became my strength and my shaking knees and shoulders made me even more determined to get up that hill. I managed and it felt good, my husband smiled and was impressed and I was happy too. All that talk about doing things for others? It is so right on.

I was grateful that I could help my husband, he who has always, ALWAYS helped me. I wanted to show him  that I could help him too. I’m not saying it was easy, it wasn’t. But, it was well worth the effort for the internal strength I got from within. It was worth seeing the smile on his face, the kindness of strangers who helped me manage the steps. It is a person that has heart and knows kindness. I’m convinced now more than ever, you either have it or you don’t.  You don’t necessarily need to know people for a very long time to know who they are. They will show themselves to you, very quickly, just watch and listen.

That new study that showed people had their own friends and considered Facebook Friends, also friends for support and trust? I am totally grateful for all my different types of friends because they can not be grouped, in just one group. My Facebook Friends, they are a special bunch, very dear to my heart. I hope I have told them enough times that they truly believe it. Gratitude? It comes from within. I sprinkle bits of my heart in my e-mails to my Facebook friends. From mine to yours and back. I’m grateful.

Grumpy, Sleepy, Droopy, Cranky? Yes, That’s Me

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Image by Jenn and Tony Bot via Flickr

I haven’t had a good night’s sleep for a long time and I want sleep NOW! I need a good night’s sleep because I have Fibromyalgia and an auto-immune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and a tendency towards anxiety when sleep deprived. Lately I feel I have jet lag every day even though I haven’t gone on an airplane or visited fascinating foreign cities. I feel bad: achy limbs, stiff muscles and joints that roar with pain. My eyeballs ache, the soles of my feet throb, even my finger nails, unpolished and raw, hurt.

We have been living in one hotel room, my husband, my daughter our dog and I for the past six weeks. We’re doing the best we can since our house has been destroyed by rotted wood, termites and carpenter ants. It’s a horrible situation not to mention the emotional and financial stress. We have stress layered on stress.

We get along fine and try to respect each other except for one annoying factor: cell phones. I don’t understand this generation of teenagers that get text messages all hours of the day and night. My daughter’s alarm, also from her phone, shrieks loudly, picture loud buzzing bees meeting chain saws every ten minutes. It’s hard to go back to sleep after that, my husband and I are old now. We can’t just fall back asleep like our children can.

We drink free coffee from the hotel stand in the morning and snack on food we have in the room and then we have one meal, dinner, out. We can’t afford to eat three meals out a day nor do we want to. I dream about being back in our old kitchen planning a simple meal. When you have to eat out all the time, it’s not that much fun.

We have a favorite diner and it has a dozen pages of every single meal you could want and we still go from page to page not wanting a darn thing. We eat out of boredom, planning where we want to go to dinner can take hours. It’s alright, we have nothing else to do. My husband is still on crutches so during the day I drive him places he needs to go. His ruptured Achilles tendon is healing but very slowly. It’s been five weeks for that too. Why do bad things happen around the same time? Or is it just us?

I cannot see my computer keyboard, my eyes are closing, eyelids thick, thoughts are mixed up and frazzled. Our dog who now rests on the bed is snoring softly; even she knows that 5am is way too early to get up and that we still should be sleeping. I try to nap later on, sometimes I dream that we are back in our home but when I wake up I am sad and upset. I have to remind myself, we’re nowhere close. My dog lies next to me, licking my elbow, laying her head on my hand.  Last night she started nibbling on my toes, tickling me enough to get me to laugh. Sometimes, you have to just be grateful for those special moments.

Unhappy Birthday To Me

birthday

I generally savor my approaching birthday all year-long. As soon as I have one birthday I start the countdown to the next. I love birthdays, anyone’s birthday, it’s a celebration of Life. I had thought briefly about having a party for my 55th birthday in our house; there is no way THAT is going to happen. First, I don’t have a house. We are homeless at the moment. It’s under construction, five minutes away from demolition if you ask me. Second, I’m a little depressed and I don’t feel like celebrating now and third, while I like being the center of attention once in a while part of me is very shy. The side of me that loves attention is totally unreliable and generally lasts a mere five minutes. Fourth, I HATE surprises. I plan to skip my birthday totally this year and it is not because I am turning double nickels, I don’t care about age; I care about feeling happy.

Our tiny cozy house is not a home anymore. What started as a kitchen renovation became a total house renovation. We are not living there but carpenter ants and mold are. Not healthy living conditions for us, and the fact that there are no bathrooms that work makes it just a little more complicated. There was a lot of hidden damage in our house, unbeknownst to us, so imagine our horror when one room after another needed work. Long ago, there was a movie called “The Money Pit.” Basically, we are those people.

This year, my birthday will be just  another day. My husband will still be on crutches after his Achilles Tendon surgery, we won’t be back in our home and overall, it’s been a very rough year. In addition to the non-house situation my birthday falls on the most solemn holiday in the Jewish religion, Yom Kippur. While my family does not belong to any temple, nor are we particularly religious, celebrating my birthday on the most solemn day, the Day of Atonement, just does not feel right. Besides, my mother would kill me.

I hope some day I will get back that child-like feeling about birthdays. It seems so sad to have lost that. Our house? I hope that I can also love it again the way I used to. Our house betrayed us, people we’ve trusted have ignored us. I accept that not being happy on my birthday is okay. There’s always next year.

Haiku Heights

Apple heart

Image by Mammaoca2008 via Flickr

ALONE:

The unspoken word

We are homeless in our town

An empty bird nest

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FANTASY:

Dresden, blue and white

I dream of a country home

Beside a green lake

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Autumn:

Soaked and cold and wet

A sniff of crisp, red apple

Seasons are changing

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WEDDING:

Country music sounds

Radiate joy, a pink rose

Clap your hands with love

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MEMORY:

My blonde, baby girl

Velvet, gold curls down her back

Sleeping with the moon

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