Say it Out Loud


Say you love me

You don’t have to mean it

Or love all of me

Or love me all the time

Just say you love me

When you see me turning away

Turning inside toward darkness

Toward my own monsters

Rattling my own locked doors

Where only I have keys

Say you love me

Scream it out loud

Where I can hear you

Inside my own dungeon

Locked in the ice of my heart

Where my soul might be safe

My spirit dances with monsters

Even as they flay me

With memories of pain

My blood and tears paint walls

Brilliant in scarlet and silver

Rescue me, say you love me

Out loud, where my soul hears you

Maybe, if I hear you I will believe

Maybe I will reach for you

If you say you love me



Not Strong

1343863240_3320_fearIt is all I can do not to stay in bed all day every day. That seems to be the safest and most secure place in the entire world, my bed. I do not want to get up, for anything but a fresh cup of coffee and now and then some instant soup. Once a week I strip the sheets, replacing them with clean linens. I have a king sized bed, covered in pillows. I sleep on one small part, the furthest away from the door. It takes me less than two minutes to make the bed in the morning because I barely move in my sleep, barely wrinkle the bed covers.

It is all I can do not to stay in my bed all day every day.

I am on the brink of throwing my hands in the air and giving in, giving up. Just saying fuck it all, why bother.

It has been seventy-six days since my husband, the one I called Dearly Beloved walked away from our marriage without a backward glance or a good-bye. It may be more but that is how long it has been for me.

It has been fifty-eight days since I have had an income. I will admit this is my choice, but who knew it would be so difficult to find another contract. Who knew, certainly not me or I might have chosen differently. I might have chosen to continue to be miserable, bullied and treated disrespectfully for the privilege of a paycheck.

At my age, perhaps that is the best I can hope for, the market certainly seems to be telling me I have no real value and my experience is not worth a damn.

It is all I can do not to stay in bed all day, every day. Some days, I give in and I do.

I am becoming what I do not want to be, what I fight hard not to be, what I never wanted to be.




A recluse.

I am unable to find my way out of this fog. Every ‘no’ feels like a nail pounded into my body sending me deeper into hiding, into my self imposed and designed hermitage. My fear is overwhelming, some days I wander through my home and wonder, when will I lose it? When will I lose everything I have worked for my entire life? While I was busy taking care of everyone else, making certain everyone had what they thought they needed, what they wanted and then throwing it back in my face as not enough; now, when will I lose what is left?

I can’t breathe.

I am so tired of people telling me I am strong. Yes, I get it I am strong enough to have survived all the world has thrown at me. I have picked myself up and slogged through the quagmire. I have done that, often I have done it without help from any damned person who was supposed to be there for me. I did it without getting hardhearted and mean-spirited, for the most part. At least I think this is true. I have to be honest though, the next person who tells me I am strong, I will get through this I am liable to throw them to the ground and kick them till they take it back.

Does anyone understand I am not strong? I am what the world made me, but I am not strong. I am just me, weak, tired, afraid and alone. I could win an Oscar for the front I put up, making certain everyone around me sees what they expect to see and gets what they need. I have only one question…….

When is it my turn? When will someone step up to take care of me?

Okay, that was two. After all these years though, aren’t they fair?

I can’t breathe and I am afraid.

Red Hat: Doctors Pride

redhatTwenty years ago, someone hurt me, we have been all through this and I am not going to bore you with the details. Twenty years ago, my body suffered a significant amount of damage that has cascaded into more damage over the years. Twenty years ago I had surgery to repair some of the most egregious of that damage and provide me with some relief, my spine from T2 to T5 were fused, we used human material, my choice. At the time, I thought the doctor was a miracle worker and the surgery a true miracle, my pain went from a nine on a scale of 1-10 to an average of three immediately, I was in heaven on earth.

That was twenty years ago, this is today.

I have been pondering my reaction to recent events with my doctor and his referral to ‘the best neurosurgeon’ in Dallas. Really, this clinic and this surgeon treats members of the Cowboys!

Let me tell you why this is my Red Hat of the year, my friends.

This has been a hard year for me pain wise. Last year it started to escalate. I know what is wrong; my regular doctors know what is wrong too. We have all been down this road for a very long time now. This time though everyone said, ‘no more injections it is too much and too far-gone, time for something else, time for an expert to take a look at the damage and determine next steps.’

Not really what I wanted to hear, but I didn’t disagree. My last MRI’s were 14 months ago, so when the new clinic called to make the appointment they said, ‘no the DOCTOR will want new film, don’t bother to bring what you have.’ I thought this was odd, but I did what they said and I didn’t throw all of my Cervical and Lumbar MRI film into my purse. On the phone, I asked did my doctor explain the referral was for both my Cervical and Lumbar; the nice young lady happily responded in the affirmative and explained I should set aside enough time for x-rays, MRI and a consultation.

I did just that, I took the entire day off to make certain I had the time blocked. Well that isn’t quite what happened, indeed that is nowhere near what happened.……..

There are eighteen doctors at The Clinic. They are apparently very proud of themselves, very proud of the fact they treat professional athletes and others of wealth and influence. Their clinic is a model of efficiency when it comes to your sign-in, making certain they have all your financial information that is.

This was not my Doctor, dammit

This was not my Doctor, dammit

Perhaps those with a great deal of money, or those who wear professional football jerseys don’t care how they are treated by their medical providers. Perhaps, they accept a lack of courtesy as part of the game.

On the other hand, I have a standard, even for professionals considered to be at the top of their field. Part of this standard is do not under any circumstance treat me as if I am stupid, unaware, beneath your contempt or not worthy of your time. Despite your years of education, the accolades of your peers and the worship of those professional athletes you have treated I am still paying you! Between me and my insurance cold hard cash is leaving our pockets and entering yours.

I am not a charity case; you aren’t climbing down off your effing ego mountain, wading through the muck to treat me. Indeed not, I drove to your clinic after spending the better part of an hour filling out reams of paperwork, providing you not only with my insurance information but also with my personal financial information and then waiting for you for 45 minutes after my appointment time because your time is clearly more valuable than mine is. After all that, you Herr Doktor had the unmitigated gall to act as if I wasn’t well enough informed, smart enough or perhaps interesting enough to be sitting in your treatment room.

First, you had not bothered to read the Referral sent over by the doctor who has been treating me for eight years.

Then you callously observed my throat and arms had been sliced open and demand an explanation. Frankly, Doctor, none of your business but since you must know my ex-husband tied me to a bed and took a straight razor to me.

When you finally got around to looking at the x-ray you couldn’t figure out what those strange ‘pathways’ in my neck and into my spine were. Had you read the referral you would have known they were bullet entrance and exit wounds, but you couldn’t be bothered so I had to explain it. Your comment to this, oh yeah; “I healed up nicely.”


This was the first ten minutes; we spent another five exercising my right arm, which is periodically numb, periodically paralyzed, and periodically so painful I wish I could cut it off. You my good doctor, your diagnosis? I have arthritis in my shoulder and need a better painkiller and some physical therapy. When I explained I try to avoid painkillers so I can live a full life, you suggested I simply take more Motrin and handed me a ‘prescription’ for physical therapy, told me to go wherever I wanted and come back to see you in March. Are you even aware the damage 2400 milligrams of Motrin will do taken daily?

Mind you, I have never had arthritis. There is not a damned thing wrong with my shoulder and never has been, movement hurts because my cervical spine hurts and I have nerve damage you numbnut. Did I fail to mention, he didn’t have time in the first consult to deal with both the Cervical and the Lumbar, I would have needed to make two appointments for that. He didn’t order MRI’s. What he did say to me as he left the room…..

“You win for the best story of 2012.”Kickm

Well, Dr. Andrew Dossett of The Carrell Clinic wins for the worst bedside manner, least compassionate, worst listener and most egotistic medical provider it has been my experience to run into in many years.

Was this a bit incoherent? My apologies. I am between terribly peeved and in pain, have been for weeks now. I am also between a rock and a hard spot, so is my regular doctor, we will work it out but in the meantime I am stuck with how do I get through the day.

I don’t often call out names in my Red Hats, but in this case well I just thought it was worthy. How does a Doctor, a person who takes an oath to ‘do no harm’ act in such a callous and uncaring manner. Wasn’t I in a big enough puddle on the floor? Did I not show enough abject misery?

Sorry Doctor, it isn’t my way to weep and gnash my teeth. But it should be your way to show compassion and treat the patient in front of you not your effing assumptions.

History isn’t Mutable, But we are

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 22 January 1973

It is an important date, the reason this is date is important? It was nearly a one year after I lay on that cold table begging a doctor and two nurses not to perform an Instillation Abortion, while my mother waited impatiently in the waiting room. They did not have my agreement or permission, they apparently did not need it, they had what they needed, hers.

Forty years, that is how long it has been, forty years and some months. Until this weekend, I haven’t really thought about the reality that I had an illegal abortion. I guess in the back of my mind I have always known, always had in one of the boxes I kept safe from examination, but until Friday when I first started writing this trilogy in Broken Chains, I hadn’t really put the pieces together. I had always wondered why even when I begged them to stop, they didn’t; I knew the law yet they didn’t stop. I had always wondered why, what amounted to induced labor and then a D&C was performed well past my first trimester, I knew the law even in the early days of Roe v. Wade, this wasn’t the norm. I sometimes wondered how this happened, why my pediatrician the doctor who had cared for me my entire life did this to me with only my mother’s signature and why that little hospital allowed it, never reported it just turned a blind eye.

By the time I returned to and thought to ask, my doctor was dead. His practice had been taken over by two other doctors, two young and enthusiastic doctors and all new nurses who were more than willing to answer my questions. I asked for my files, they weren’t so happy to hand those over, this was 1979 and there was nothing to force their compliance with my requests. I explained my request though, what I was looking for and why I was looking. I just wanted answers; I wanted my mother’s signature and the explanation. I would have done anything, begged, crawled across fire, walked on glass, offered my body as a sex slave for those answers. I was so raw and I believed I deserved to understand why two people who should have cared for me brutalized me so terribly. Finally, one of those young doctors took pity after listening to my story, he told me I could read the file in his office but I couldn’t have copies and I couldn’t take anything with me.

There was nothing there!

Oh, there was a positive pregnancy test and a sad note, because he had known me all my life. The next entry was the night I was admitted to the hospital, February 11, 1972, it said I spontaneously aborted (this means I miscarried) a Male Fetus, there were measurements in the file, I don’t remember them anymore precisely; he was nearly 5 inches and nearly 3 ounces. I never knew, actually I always imagined, but I didn’t know they documented this information or even cared, now I had another nightmare, did he draw one breath?

Next I went to the hospital, I asked for the records. They told me the same thing, they didn’t exist I was never there for an abortion. I was never there. I gave up. I had an illegal abortion but there was no proof, only that I had spontaneously miscarried, that was all it would ever say. Perhaps only I would know the truth. No one else, only me.

Choice is being able to say NO

Over the years I had hardened my heart against the empty place in my homes, my marriages and my life called childlessness. At some point I became a misopedist; putting it out convincingly I did not want children and was not unhappy with the turn of my life. This was not the truth, not my inner truth but it was the only truth I had that would stop people from handing me their children.

I have been told many times, we are never given more than we can bear, never more than we can survive. I suspect this might be true, I even suspect there are reasons why some are forged in much hotter fires. What we do with the wreckage determines who we become and how we will live our lives. It is rare that anyone has an epiphany changes direction and turns their life around entirely. Letting go of every injury, releasing every painful memory and creating a new person to stand in the place of the old one, victim to survivor is much slower and harder.

There are many vigils we sit as we mourn our lost innocence, lost childhoods and then finally kicking in the doors protecting memories. I write these as trilogies to show clear paths not just of terror, pain, suffering or horror; but of growth, recovering and even sometimes joy (I promise). I will get there, I will write them. This was the worst of it, the hardest to write the hardest to remember. This short interval, just over 1 year of my life set my feet on a path towards so many other life choices I all too often look back at this single year and ask;

What if?

The truth of what happened, it created in me some beliefs and truths that to this day I believe, they have never changed they are immutable.

‘Forgiveness isn’t free, I don’t owe it.’

‘Choice isn’t just about Yes, it is also about No.’

‘I will never do to anyone what was done to me, that is a choice that I have.’

‘Survival is not for those without compassion, you can never live entirely inside yourself or for yourself.’

I built strong walls and I was fortunate to have a good mind. I was able to escape behind the persona I built without much challenge. Much of that person was the true me; strong, smart, hardworking, driven even and sometimes funny. Unfortunately, that person was also guarded, stubborn, quick to cut a person out of my life, quick to walk away, unforgiving even. There are many things I grew to like about myself over the years; many things though remained hidden even from my friends, there were also many things I never loved, things I believed did not deserve to be loved. Now, as I explore my history I am learning that just maybe I was wrong in my judgment.

So now I am walking down the hallways of my mind, shaking the locks and rattling the doors. I didn’t get here all alone I know that. It wasn’t all bad, it couldn’t have been. These are just those pivotal moments, those points of darkness that I decided to finally shine light into. With that I leave trilogy II in Broken Chains with this quote which I think is apt:

‘Our life is always deeper than we know, is always more divine than it seems, and hence we are able to survive degradations and despairs which otherwise must engulf us.’

William James (1842 – 1910),  pioneering American psychologist and philosopher

Trilogy II – Broken Chains

Part I – No Bastards No Choice

Part II – Never Again, I will hate you

Broken Chains – Start at Part I

Opening the Secret Box

I said I would tell my mother’s story, what I know of it at least. I do this not to make excuses for her but to show the lineage of abuse. I am one that believes we always have a choice in our actions, no matter our history, no matter what has been done to us we always have a choice. My mother’s choice was to hold her bitterness and pass on to me her anger, her bile and her self-hate. I was the empty vessel she poured all her stored resentment into; I was bottomless; different from her in my emotional make-up, proof that we can be greater than our environment.

My mother was born in 1920; the first of two daughters to German immigrant parents, her sister would be born four years later in 1924. The two sisters were as different in looks, temperament and intelligence as it was possible to be. My mother was short, stocky even with a ruddy complexion, thin hair and her father’s prominent nose and thin lips. My mother was never what would be considered terribly attractive, when you added to this her plodding intellect and lack of curiosity she was simply an average person.

The two sisters

Her sister on the other hand was handed all the best physical features of her parents, tall and willowy, with average more feminine features and most important an above average intellect. The differences between the two daughters was apparent from a young age, the favoritism shown to the younger daughter was also obvious from a young age.

My mother was raised in a German enclave of Cleveland, Ohio. The house she was raised in still stands today though the neighborhood is no longer as nice. My mother and aunt attended public schools though they generally were not in the same schools due to the four-year gap in their age. They grew up surrounded by extended family and friends and both of them were bi-lingual, speaking German and English. It was a hardscrabble existence during the twenties, work was hard to find, money hard to hold onto but my grandfather supported his family throughout the depression.

Sometime around twelve years old she was molested by a neighbor, he may have been a family member. This molestation went on for months before she told her mother. According to the story I heard, her mother didn’t believe her at first. This man was a ‘pillar’ of the church and the neighborhood and so my mother was punished for ‘making-up stories’. Then something happened, I don’t know the full story of what happened to bring to light the extent of what this man did, not just to my mother but to other young girls in that neighborhood. It was several years though after my mother had told hers what had happened to her. The man disappeared and nothing more was said. This was the first time my mother’s parents failed her.

My mother told this story in a group therapy session where I was present. I was fourteen at the time. I held that story as ‘close hold’ for forty-four years. I suspect it was supposed to make me ‘okay’ with her treatment of me, it did not change my view that we make choices. Even at fourteen I knew she made a choice to pass her anger down to me.

As my mother matured she sought ways to escape, to leave the enclave and the family that so favored her sister and had failed her so completely. Each choice and opportunity was blocked by her parents and met with ridicule. My mother was not one to scream her fury, not like the daughter she would ultimately raise. My mother was in all respects a conventional daughter, obedient to a fault and more than anything else she sought the approval of her parents, most especially her father. One of the choices that still stand so poignant, that she told me about more than once is this conversation with her father;

Mother: I want to join the Navy, be a Wave and see the world.

Grandfather: Only unnatural women join the Navy. I will not give you permission!

Mind you, she didn’t need his permission at that point in her life she was legally an adult. If I remember correctly she was at least twenty-one. Nevertheless, in her mind, without the blessing of her father she could never follow her dream to see the world, to join the Navy. I think she would have been great!

She had already been quashed in another desire of hers; even uglier in my mind than her desire to join the navy was this one:

Mother: I want to go to college I want a career.

Grandfather: You aren’t smart enough for college; I am not wasting my money. Your sister is going to college you need to find a husband and have children it is all you will be good for.

My aunt did go to college and received her Bachelor’s degree. She also married well, according to my Grandparents. My aunt produced three children in fairly short order after her marriage, another feather in her cap. My mother floundered, sought to find safe footing on land in a sea of disapproval.

My Mother & Father on their wedding day 1951

She met and married my father, who did not meet with my grandparent’s approval and was likely the one thing my mother ever did that was an act of rebellion. That marriage was fraught with heartache for both of them; if ever two people were divinely mismatched it was my parents. If ever a marriage was proof of why it is a bad choice to stay together ‘for the sake of the children’ it was their marriage.

Before embarking on the adoption journey my mother suffered five to seven miscarriages. She failed at the one thing her parents had told her she was good for. Her failure would haunt her. Her loss would haunt her and eventually would haunt me as well. Her loss of her natural children was as if thorns had been driven into her heart that never stopped hurting, never lost their grip. Adoption did not change this for her; I did not replace her children though my brother was a balm for her pain. My mother told me once many years ago, she did not want to adopt she only did so for my father but she was glad she had my brother; I believe her.

That is my mother’s story.

Part One :

Staying in Bed

There are simply days when you don’t want to get out of bed, feed the dog, pet the cat or say hello to the world.

There are days when it feels as if you have been kicked in the shins one to many times and frankly, your knees hurt!

I am having one of those days today, my knees hurt. So does my back, my neck, hell even my fingers hurt. Now I don’t usually complain, certainly I don’t complain about all the things on my body that hurt me. I don’t complain about all the things that don’t work any longer. I don’t complain about all the things that don’t move the way they are supposed to move or in the direction they are supposed to go. Well, perhaps that isn’t entirely true, there are some people that hear what hurts, I hope not too often though.

There are some days when it just seems I shouldn’t have to get out of bed. In fact the only reason I do is I need coffee, a smoke and if I don’t move I am afraid I might never do so again.

I have had a particularly bad month. It happens this way sometimes when you work for yourself, but this month has simply been particularly bad. I know I am good at what I do, I am not inflexible or hard to get along with – this month I have been accused of both, by a customer no less! I do not use my hidden disability for special treatment; in fact I keep it to myself (the reason for the second accusation) unless asked and pay the price. I tell people what they need to know and only what they need to know so they understand why I do certain things and can’t do others.

While there is a three-month history leading up to the loss of two customers, two projects, actually nearly a twenty-year history now, for some reason this is hitting me hard. I am questioning myself, my abilities, my capabilities and even whether I have the wherewithal to continue on the road I have set for myself.

There are some days when I just want to stay in bed; today is one of those days. I think this week has been one of those weeks.

There are some days when I feel more than justified that I haven’t forgiven those that did so much harm to me, to my body. Days like today when I know every single day for the rest of my life I will hurt and I will have to demand of myself that I get out of bed and convince myself it is worth it, because it is better to live with pain than not to live at all.

Then I think, but I don’t have an income because I lost two projects, not because I am bad at my work but because my body gave out, again. Because I couldn’t work within the travel constraints a client placed; of course had they told me up front I wouldn’t have taken the project in the first place and I wouldn’t be in this position, but that is a different issue all together. I lost one project because someone rear-ended me and what someone else would have likely walked away from I received significant injury and had weeks of treatment for.

There are days, sometimes weeks when I wonder if survival is all it is cracked up to be.

There are some days that simply suck.

When Lightening Strikes

If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, you must accept the terms it offers you. T.S Eliot

Flickriver Image

I found that quote years ago while sitting in yet another doctor’s waiting room. It stuck with me. It had been eighteen months since the shooting and I was waiting to find out if I could stop wearing the hard brace. This was my third and hopefully last time with this piece of ugly that wrapped itself around my neck digging into my collarbone and leaving permanent bruises on my shoulders. There were days I felt like  one of the Giraffe Women of Burma.

Still Mad at the World

Up to this point, I had seen more doctors than I could remember. I had already had eight surgeries including the removal of the bullet in my

Not Mine But Close_Google Image

forearm which was a very public event attended by two police officers who took the intact bullet as evidence, that was a treat. I had seen the useless psychologist who specialized in victims of violent crime, his contribution to my recovery was an hours’ worth of, repeat after me, “you have a right to feel that way.” Well hell, I knew that when I got here fool, which unfortunately slipped out of my mouth before I could stop it, my bad. He suggested he might not be the best person to help me, really you think.

Now here I was, sitting in my Neurosurgeons office thumbing through a magazine and there it was my epiphany.

Wow, just Wow

What was I going to do with my new circumstances? I couldn’t change them; there wasn’t a single thing I could do that was going to undo what happened. The real questions I had to ask were these  –

Are you going to be a Victim?

Are you going to be a Survivor?

Or are you going to be something more, are you going to be Victorious?

The answer was clear, getting there not so clear. The path wasn’t at all obvious or straight,

My Road Image My.Opera

not then and truthfully not ever. In fact, even now, nearly twenty years later, I find myself on roads filled with potholes, switchbacks and what feel like insurmountable steep climbs.There are days I want to pull over to the side of the road of my life, curl up and give up. It isn’t fair I think in the back of my mind, that small voice whispers to me, ‘just lay down, someone will come along shortly’.  The truth is, though I have many wonderful people in my life, always have had, the only one that will come along is me. The only person that can force that next step is me, even when it hurts like hell it is still me.

From Victim to Survivor to Victorious

There is no life without bumps in the road, I accept that my life is no different from others. My bumps might be different they are still just bumps. I have been fortunate in my journey of discovery and recovery to meet some amazing people with similar bumps as mine, they taught me about getting up in the morning, breathing through pain, letting go of survivor guilt and most importantly getting too happy.

The Original Story

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