Tumbleweed

The legendary tumbleweed is really a nurse crop that protects the growth of prairie grasses under its shade, and then sacrifices itself and blows away.

Almost everyone I know has something of an ancestral house. Somewhere they can always go back to from wherever fate decided to move them across the globe. A place where they could reunite with their families and friends and talk about childhood memories. Somewhere they feel safe and truly belonged. Most people have hometowns, alma maters, reunions, people they grew up with and neighbors who know them from babyhood. I know people who married their childhood sweethearts, the next-door neighbor or a sibling of their best friend. Their children know each other and go out together forming the next generation of youngsters who will follow the footsteps of their parents. Most people have a family and a home where their roots are firmly planted in a solid foundation, where their history lies and written. I don’t have those.

I don’t even come back to the place where I was born since we left before I was even a year old. Alma mater, what is that? I changed school like I change underwear. Same with hometowns. If I would like to visit where I grew up I have to go to hundreds of different places and meet thousands of different people who may not remember me at all since we leave before everything gets too familiar. Roots? What’s that? I was a tumbleweed rolling where the wind blows, no destination, without purpose.

Family is something alien to me. Not only I don’t have a place to go back to, but I have also no one to come back to. Don’t ask. It’s just the way it is. Likewise, with friends, I don’t have them either. What I had were familiar strangers whom I shared a one time experience with before I move to another chapter of my existence. Go back (even for a visit) I can’t. Somehow I always managed to burn bridges one way or the other. If I don’t someone will do it for me. It’s just the way it is.

Family, friends, hometowns, alma mater, childhood sweethearts, ancestral house, roots, If you have them, I envy you.

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The Perfect Mother

Children are knives. They don’t mean to, but they cut. And yet we cling to them, don’t we, we clasp them until the blood flows.

My daughter always said that when the time comes she will be a better mother than I am because you see when it comes to motherhood (among so many other things) I am a failure in her eyes.

Well, she’s a mother now and her baby is four months old, so far, she didn’t manage to take care of Oona on her own yet. Every day she needs someone to be there because she cannot stand being alone with her daughter. Too demanding, too energy-consuming, too tiring too difficult too scary too everything according to her. She got a list of people (cleaning person maternity help and such not included) in her network and she shuffles their schedules to fit in hers. No questions asked. Just do what she says and everything will run smoothly. That simple. That easy.

She complains that Oona cries a lot and taking too much of her time. In fact, she said she has no life anymore. Duh (eyes rolling) you wanted a baby, suffer the consequences. In fact, Oona cries because she is making her nervous, stressing the baby (and everyone around her) with her regimented rules and schedules. Babies fall asleep when they want to, no need to force them to lie in a darkened room because you find it is time for them to disappear. In my country, we leave them to drop down whenever and wherever they please no matter how unconventional that might be. Like my father said if they fall asleep in a strange position whichever corner they choose, it means they are comfortable there so let them be.

Babies cry when they are hungry so please don’t force-feed them in the hours that you deemed right. Oona is not even allowed to hold her own bottle. Against the rules. The other day She said that Oona is under the weather and agitated. I would be too if I don’t take a bath for four days. She cannot put Oona in the bath alone. Too scary. Besides, Oona doesn’t like water. I wonder why. Probably the same reason why Oona doesn’t like to be dressed up. She squeezes her into clothes that way too small it restricts the baby’s movements. I can imagine how painful it is to wear a romper that there is no room to stretch your legs without putting pressure on your neck. She said she suspects that Oona has pain in the neck. Another duh. If you are a perfect mother, you will notice that you are squeezing your baby into clothes that don’t fit. No?

And if you are too scared to put her in the bath for whatever reason, at least freshen her up a bit, give her sponge bath, start with playfully wetting her hands and feet in lukewarm water either in a basin or under the softly trickling water from the tap. You can apply the same method to wash the hair. Hold her head under the tap but not the face or you can use a plastic cup so you can pour softly and slowly while talking to her describing what you’re doing to distract her. Do it playfully and lovingly as not to scare her. And if you are really worried you might drop the baby or something, do it if necessary in bed putting a waterproof sheet underneath the bath towel. Anything but leaves her unwashed for days!

Not sure what to do? Google it for crying out loud. For sure there are loads of materials out there to get ideas from.

During one of my visits, I had to take Oona for a walk (and Mary the dog) so my daughter could take a rest she said. It was cold, I wear a double hoodie but Oona didn’t have a cap. My daughter either forget to give it or didn’t find it necessary. I know better than to question her judgment. Any question raises about her choices is guaranteed to be met with hysterics that lead to teary arguments and finger-pointing. We had disagreement already over the cap of the perambulator. She wanted me to close it completely sealing Oona in the darkness. What is the point of walking outside if she is not allowed to see anything? A few meters from the house I opened the pram’s cap halfway, picked some yellow flowers that were bending over the fence and hang over the hood where Oona could see them. She liked it.

When we came back, my daughter commented about Oona’s sudden changed of mood. The baby looked healthier and obviously happier she said. I think to myself: Of course, she is. Any fool with half sense would know that like with anybody, babies need to go out too. To relax, not to party like my daughter seems to prefer upsetting her own structured schedules for Oona whom she claimed a hypersensitive baby therefore susceptive to too many stimuli. But that’s another of my daughter’s many amazing characteristics; putting her wants and needs first above anyone else. A modus she practices from babyhood with her brother who learned from the cradle it is best to give way than be subjected to teary confrontation. Wonderful.

She’s suffering from post-natal depression ( she said) which costing them money going to a psychiatrist (or is it psychologist?) and all. And guess whose fault is that, her being depressed, mine of course who else. Me and my ex failed to give her a proper upbringing (emotional blackmail anyone?) and all that jazz. Excuses I find. She’s 31 years old. She is married to the boy she had been chasing all her life. They now have one of the four babies she planned a long time ago to have and bring up perfectly, they have a decent house and okay relationship, man up for God’s sake! She practically living her dream. What’s the problem then?

Sometimes I suspect her of using Oona, deliberately agitating the baby and God knows what so she can justify her claim of how difficult her situation is and how brave how wonderful how good how perfect she is to withstand the ordeal of motherhood.

Look around for God’s sake! How other mothers are doing. Are they being overly dramatic? And I mean mothers who had survived a more traumatic experience in their lives than her. There is one among her circle of friends for example. Are they using their history as an excuse to cover their inadequacy?

When I gave birth to her I was barely in my twenties, alone in a foreign country where I didn’t understand nor able to speak the language, living in a tiny studio in the marginal part of the capital with little else to go on. The only view I had was an abandoned building that put fear in my soul. My drunkard thoroughly abusive husband disappeared on weekends leaving us alone with no food and locked me and my daughter outside in the middle of the winter whenever it suited him. I had to beg milk for her from the cafes in the neighborhood and ring bells of various apartments and pleaded to let us in even in the hallway so my daughter will not freeze to death. How’s that for a reason to have post-natal depression?

With all of the horrible things I had experienced, not even once I blamed anyone and feel nothing but love for my children. I never saw them as a bother, upsetting the balance of my life or costing me energy or blaming them for not having a life. Something my daughter is constantly talking about when it comes to Oona. One time, I asked her if she once looks into Oona’s eyes and feels that whatever troubles she’s having taking care of her is all worth it. She said; “I don’t have that. I don’t feel anything. I don’t enjoy motherhood, I don’t see her as all of you see her, she’s costing me too much energy and demanding all my time, I have no life anymore, yada-yada-ya.”

I can’t believe it. What did she expect? A walk in the park? First of all, she wanted to have a baby. So much so that when they cannot conceive the normal way they went to a lot of trouble to ensure that she gets what she wished for. Wish granted. What’s the problem then? The reality doesn’t fit in her perfect vision of how it supposed to be? Motherhood is not as easy as she thought it would be? Or the idea of her failing in her lifelong quest to do better than me terrifies her more than anything.

For the record, Oona is a sweet child in nature, calm, agreeable and happy. Only cries when it matters and not at all demanding. But like all normal babies who are in tune with their surroundings and susceptible to the moods of their mothers, Oona feels what my daughter feels and it makes her nervous, agitated and traumatized. She suffers under the constant quest for perfection, order, and control of my daughter who forces Oona to learn to roll over, lie on her belly, this and that because she finds it is about time Oona does these things. I thought: For God’s sake leave her alone. She will rollover crawl and walk in her own time. My son didn’t walk or talk till he was two and a half and turned out to be a multi-talented gifted individual. Each baby has a different pace when it comes to developing. There is no one size fits all (written or not written) rules for these kinds of things. If you are a perfect mother you ought to know that you can’t give your baby a textbook upbringing. Let them do their own thing. All in due time. And if there is indeed something wrong with your baby, no amount of forcing can change that so leave them alone.

What’s the problem then?

The problem is responsibility. My daughter cannot handle it. An aunt (and uncle) cushioned and pampered her for twenty-six years- something she never appreciates (what it is she appreciates anyway) someone devoting all their lives at her beck and call- something my daughter endlessly and shamelessly practice even now among her friends and family. I may not be the perfect mother but I don’t use and manipulate people to suit my needs. I’m afraid the trait comes from the side of my family. My mother was an expert. She thought she had everything coming. I called it Annalyn syndrome. Annalyn is my sister who unfortunately has the same character as my daughter. They love to put the blame on anyone but themselves and play the victim. Own your fucking mistakes for crying out loud and stop blaming people for your own failure. If everyone uses their imperfect background as a starting point (foundation) which to build their future, then everyone would be a criminal.

I for one have plenty of reasons from all sides but I don’t go on bothering people. I’m not saying I am better than my daughter or anyone else. I am probably worse in some areas. What I’m saying is the opposite. Don’t think you are perfect when you are clearly not. Don’t claim you’ve done it on your own and don’t need anyone when you can’t even take care of your own child and need an army just to survive a day. And appreciate the help you get and be grateful instead of acting high almighty I am better than the rest. And please decide what it is you really want to do with your life instead of jumping from one interest to the other confusing the people around you. And stop using your background and upbringing as excuses if you lost the motivation and don’t succeed.

My daughter spent 31 years of her life trying to decide what it is she really wants to do and achieve. So far she is in the middle of yet another endeavor with so many on the sides that it is unclear what is her ultimate goal and where she gonna go from there.

She said she wants to have a practice (a part of a conglomerate of experts housed in one building) giving advice to families on how to run their lives and bring up their children properly. She said she has the perfect background to do it. I told her practice with Oona first and at this moment she is the one who needs advice.

And that is another problem. My daughter cannot take advice or tips (especially from me but she will gladly pay a ridiculous amount of money to a stranger telling her what she wants to hear) on how to run her life without taking it as a grave offense and switch on to the full battle defensive mode.

I understand the difficulties of motherhood. I’ve been there, haven’t I? I know that each person has their own manner of dealing with any given situation, I understand that my daughter has some trouble coping with the responsibilities but she made the choice so snap out of it and shoulder on. There are people who are in a more desperate situation that she is right now. Millions of them. She has a supportive family, an understanding brother, willing in-laws, a patient husband, a network of helpful friends and a dream of a daughter whom I will gladly take on if given a chance. So stop being a ninny, step up to the challenge and show some respects where respect is due.

And most of all, stop the quest to be the perfect mother or perfect anything because perfect doesn’t exist. She had already a dose of reality check from every corner and had to swallow almost every word she once swears she was not going to do so learn from it instead of clinging on to her unrealistic ideals that exist only in her head.

I hope she man-up soon for the sake of Oona before it is too late.

I’m not holding my breath though.

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Parallel Lines Don’t Intersect

The poem at the bottom reminds me of the time I was convinced I had a crush on a senior in high school. I was a freshman, we were both in pilot classes. The best of the best.

I was there by brain alone. No prestige no wealth not even looks. He had all of those and more. Naturally, he didn’t want to be associated with me. Avoided me like the plague. I remember enrolling in the woodworking class because I thought he would be there but no, he was in embroidery class. Joined the gardening class hoping to catch him there but what do you know__ he was in the baking class!

He grew up to be the most successful individual I know past and present. Traveling around the world for his job and belongs to crème de la crème in his field. He is never married. To his job by the looks of it. He never stops studying. A Ph.D. here, there and everywhere and still going. I wonder what his motivations are. Anyway whatever it is, he made it.

A couple of years ago, his cousin – who used to be my classmate – and I came across each other online and since she was just across the border from where I live we decided to meet for old time’s sakes. I heard he will be there as well. But at the last moment, he dropped out. I concluded that even after all these years he still doesn’t want to be in the same room with me. I retreated inside my walls and never heard of them since then.

you said you like old stuff
so I bought a vinyl player
and a typewriter.
I thought it’ll make you like me too,
how could I be so futile?you said you’re into painting
so I enrolled in an art class
and practiced drawing.
I heard you wrote him handwritten poems,
oh god, this feels like drowning.you said you’re into bad boys
so I tattooed a dragon across my chest.
I saw you date your nerdy classmate.
guess I’m all too late
again.

see? no matter how many times
I change myself for you,
you still can’t see me.
no matter how fast I chase you
I’m still miles away behind
your
free-versed heart.

you said you’re still a virgin
so I stopped watching pornography.

I heard he banged you hard.

God, I deserve a drink.

~from Postcard Promise via Facebook

5

The Past Comes Peeping Out Again

By accident, I came across a familiar name online, a name I know so well. A name I’ve seen written on railway sleepers outside our house once upon a time. A name which was converted into numbers as a part of coded messages written on walls around the neighborhood meant only to be understood by me but meaningless to others. A name that has now an extra name added to it, inserted in between and belonged to a familiar face of a stranger. How did it happen?

The face belonged to a friend. A son of one of my father’s workmates and buddies. His father was trying to couple him with me even before I set eyes on him. I always nod and politely smiled whenever the topic was brought up but deep inside I was not the least interested. Judging by the appearances of parents and siblings, this phantom boy who worked in the city will never be anything to me. And so I thought.

Till one sunny afternoon, I was trying to read and heard a commotion outside. Peeping through the slit on the wall I saw two young men carrying air guns chasing each other across the train tracks. I found their accent funny. Clearly, they were from the south and speaking a dialect I heard my father used sometimes. I wondered who they were.

I saw the older of the two boys again during an old fashioned barrio fiesta dance. He was more good looking than I remember, looking like a city boy that he was, fresh and modern. I was charmed.

I wish he wasn’t a show-off. I wish he didn’t dominate the dance floor, I wish he wasn’t so sure of himself the one hundred percent crush I initially had for him reduced by twenty-five percent after his performance that night. On the way home, he deliberately stayed behind to have a word with me he said and I thought: This is it! He gonna professed his undying love for me. But what he actually said was he got an eye for my friend Rose and could I possibly help him to win her heart. The seventy-five percent crush plummeted to fifty after that revelation. When I heard that he was the phantom son of my father’s co-worker, the remaining fifty percent went all the way down to zero and we became best of friends. That’s the face the familiar stranger belongs to.

The name is totally another matter.

It belongs to someone else entirely. Same town, same neighborhood, same young dreamers club (he was the president, the other the vice) but different looks, different age category; he was older. Twenty-six to be exact. I knew right away he fancied me. Actions speak louder than words, right? He showed it in so many little things but he never made an attempt to voice out his feelings or formally court me. I confronted him with it and to my surprise, he didn’t deny what I already knew. When I asked him why, he said he was not a teenager anymore to give in to impulse, too old to be foolish. I was a handful he said. Starting anything with me was like picking a rock to bash your own head. I was too much for him he said. I called him a pussy and he laughed about it. We laughed about the whole thing. I was not the least insulted nor angry. The whole conversation was bordering on funny, a joke. But we understood the seriousness of what being said and not said. We accepted it.

He was a frustrated engineer to be, dropped the dream in favor of drinks. He carries a big scar across his stomach. A souvenir from a street fight which almost killed him. If he learned some lessons from the experience, it didn’t show. Life goes on.

I went away in search of a better future. I lost track of the people I once knew. Forgotten almost. Never seen them again nor I set foot on the once familiar turf once more. Now I saw online a stranger who is carrying his name wearing a familiar face of another.  Too much of a coincidence. It piqued my curiosity and started to dig deeper.

Well, it turned out to be this: Mr. Frustrated Engineer married a sister of my once best friend. (Why they all ended up together eventually? Too little choice? Too lazy to cast the net wider? Whatever) Mixing the name and the looks perfectly well. There are six siblings to the familiar stranger. All good looking, all degree holder. Three of them engineers. Not bad I thought. And the familiar stranger who is bearing the name of his father, well, he is an engineer too. Surprise surprise. Kudos to him and to the sister. Despite circumstances, they managed to raise a family of well educated talented young people who will be parents to more successful future generations from my past. Making me wish I am thirty years younger and back to the place I tried all my life to escape from. Fancy that.

And to him, he made the right choice by not choosing me. It would never work out. I am too much of everything for somebody like him. For anybody for that matter. The best way to keep me is to set me free. Something my husband understands so well. And by the way, he’s also an engineer.

Well, Mr. Frustrated Engineer… Do you still remember the song you used to sing to me while strumming your guitar?

This is it:

Something New In My Life 

by Stephen Bishop

I guess I wanted something new in my life
A new key to fit a new door
To wake and see a different view in my life
The one I’ve been waiting for

Dreams like everyone I had a few in my life
Who knew that this one would come true in my life
I knew the moment when you touched me
You touched me

You’re like a sudden breeze that blew in my life
A new face, a new smile, a new song
And now I know I wanted you in my life all along

You’re like a chance I had to take in my life
I found you and couldn’t lose you
And all the difference that you make in my life
The feelings I never knew

I guess I must have saved an empty place in my heart
For you to come and fill the space in my heart
That long before I said, I loved you
I loved you

Whatever happens, this is true in my life
When all the springs have come and gone
Whatever doors I may go through in my life
Whatever else that I may do in my life

You’ll always be the something new in my life
From now on
I know there always will be you in my life
From now on…

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Oona

“As I gazed in awe at my newborn granddaughter, all I could think about was the wonder of God’s handiwork.”

A month ago I became a grandmother. A milestone. Not only for me but for everyone involved. They say nothing beats the novelty of the first experience no matter what the situation is. I have been told it is difficult to forget and will always hold a special part in one’s life. Well, let’s see…

I always said before that I prefer to have a grand/son than a grand/daughter. I even said in jest that if it is a girl I will drown her in a rain barrel, something I will never do in reality of course but it says enough. Preferring a boy to a girl is a combination of my upbringing, tradition, culture and personal preference (what else). And so I thought. I had also once believed that I will never be a doting grandparent like most, a baby is just a baby. Till I held my first (and so far) my only grandchild in my arms and feel something I never felt in my life before: an overflowing love for a stranger.

She is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I am not saying this because she is who she is, I’m saying this because it’s the truth. Beauty for me is beyond appearance alone. It is a combination of character, aura, and something undefined. She has a certain je ne sais quoi about her. She is magic. Just a couple of days old and she can look at you with knowing eyes as if she understands. Her expressions are something I never saw from a newborn before. She perceived her surroundings with an equal measure of knowledge and curiosity, comprehension and enjoyment. Her smiles are reflective and if a baby has a sense of humor, she has it. She’s so unusual that you can’t help but love her. I love her.

My mother said I am not capable of loving somebody. She’s wrong of course. Perhaps what I was not capable of is being blinded by love and losing myself in the process. It’s true, I didn’t know how it is to miss someone. I’m okay with myself and don’t need others to make me happy. But since my granddaughter was born I know now how it is to feel a longing to be with another human being, to see her and hold her in my arms, to give her a kiss and just touch her soft silky skin. To feel the overwhelming desire to care, protect and give her everything in my power. That is all new to me. I never felt that strongly about anyone, not even with my own children.

It’s scary.

What is scarier is the fact that I am having unspeakable thoughts (or fantasies if you prefer) with just one purpose in mind: To have my granddaughter for myself. How scary is that? I will not elaborate for obvious reasons. Let’s just say that__

I want her with me, to love to cherish and to hold. You know… the clichés…

When I heard that they are going to stick her in the crèche in a couple of months before she is even three months old, I cried. I thought: Why have children if you don’t have time to care for them yourself? I don’t understand it and will never understand. Oh, I know it is all for practical reasons but I am not happy with the idea. I even offer my help but of course, it was denied. I understand why. But even then.

Babies need love and care I thought. Especially during their first years. They need to be cuddle cherish and brought up by their own family, not strangers. I imagine my granddaughter is a very special person, full of character and free-spirited. I am afraid growing up in that environment will affect her personality later on. That she will learn to suppress her natural emotions, reactions, feelings, and instinct. Much like a wild animal that held captive in a zoo. I don’t want her to grow up like most people I know here: cold, emotionless and distant.

But who am I to know what is right and what is wrong. I fucked up my own duty as parent choices or no choices. So, I try to shut up and keep my thoughts and feelings for myself.

I will love her from a distance. I have to. I cannot be too involved. I am not allowed anyway. I just hope that history will not repeat itself. Loving from a distance I mean. One get used to it and become the norm no matter how painful it is…

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Understanding Madness

“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.” 
― Philip K. Dick

Very dangerous Idea. Imagine omitting the “sometimes” from the above sentence and what you got is a powerful conviction (or excuse) to do something outrageous.

Having said that, There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when the reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind. I guess that is what happened to my sister, she has gone insane to escape the sick reality of our lives.

Later on, she will choose to live on the streets than to face her responsibilities, leaving her six children behind. I’ve tried countless times to change her mind, fostering her kids, sending them to school, but although she will play with them and stay for a while, whenever I brought up the topic of her settling down with her children again, she will get hysterics and tell me she doesn’t want headaches anymore and she will disappear again, back to her old habits of moving from one place to another.

It hurts me to think of the horror she had been subjected to being the way she is and living the life she has chosen for herself. Sometimes, she will have deep cuts on her arms or bruises on her bodies. Other times, her hair had been chopped off badly and she was bleeding. Rumor has it she had been gang-raped in the cemetery… It breaks my heart but I am powerless to do anything. You cannot help somebody that doesn’t want to be helped.

I’ve nightmares about it and like her, I avoid thinking about her situation too much for the fear of joining her in her never-ending quest for peace of mind.

Yann Martel said: All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.

Maybe that is what my sister is doing, saving herself in the only way she knows how. It might seem insane to onlookers but to her it makes sense. I hope someday she will find what she is looking for. I hope she will find someone who understands her and will take care of her and show her how it is to be loved. She needs it. Love is something she never experienced in her life. Certainly not from my mother who hated her from the moment she was born. Hate she passed on to anyone and everything that has something to do with my sister including her children. I don’t understand it. I will never understand how someone let alone a mother could differentiate her love between her children? 

They say all parents do it, they love their children in different ways, seeing each child as an individual, each one with their own unique characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses and may find it easier to understand one child from another. That I could understand. But to hate and shun your own child calling her ugly among so many other derogatory terms is to me unacceptable. 

Maybe my mother had her own twisted reasons for doing it. She never told me when she was alive and now that she’s dead, I will never know why. Perhaps that is the madness of my mother, favoring one child among her children.

Maybe we are all mad here in Wonderland.

Emilie Autumn said:

Some are born mad, some achieve madness, and some have madness thrust upon ’em.

I believe the last one is my sister.

Her mind is too weak to cope with our dysfunctional family situations. But she’s not alone. None of us siblings survived the ordeal of growing up without scars, visible or invisible. The traumas manifested in all sorts of bizarre behaviors which in turn have lead into more compromising circumstances breeding the next generations of the likes of us.

God knows where it will lead.

According to the experts___

When you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness. Madness is the emergency exit.

I will keep this in mind.

When things become unbearable.

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Home Is Where Your Heart Is

I discovered that what most people call creepy, scary, and spooky, I call comfy, cozy, and home.― Zak Bagans

They say we feel more comfortable in a familiar environment. With the people we know.

Studies have shown that we are all attracted to what is familiar to us and that repeated exposure to certain people will increase our attraction toward them. This is a subconscious process that we’re not even aware of or have any awareness of making such a choice. We are attracted to familiar people because we consider them to be safe and unlikely to cause harm. Even when someone’s behavior or personality is hurtful, on a subconscious level, some part of us finds comfort in the familiarity of that behavior. Good or bad, the environment in which we grew up is the only home we’ve ever known.

This is why it’s so difficult for people to leave hurtful relationships. It’s easy to criticize someone for staying in an abusive relationship and to blame the person for staying, accusing them of being weak or wanting to be treated badly. But no one wants to be treated badly. It is hard to leave because, besides the issues of having nowhere else to go, we are tethered to bad relationships as much as we are tethered to the past by our subconscious minds. [source: Psychology Today- The Familiarity Principle of Attraction]

I am a product of this principle though not by my own choice. I suffered from Stockholm Syndrome and still suffering the consequences nonetheless.

Going back to where I came from, I always seek the familiar environment of my youth even though I’ve long escaped that situation and now belong to another group. That makes me susceptible to horror and ordeal of the past which my family and most people are trying to escape and will gladly trade for my privileged position. Difficult and incomprehensible as it is, that environment could evoke feelings from me when nothing could and will forever be miss and long for against my better judgment.

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Habibi

Dear daughter,
if you’ve inherited my heart
then don’t be ashamed
of how desperate you sometimes feel
or how you stain sheets and shirts
that you are sopping wet
a walking hemorrhage
curious hands in the shower
the first menses of a young girl
a virgin writhing on a bed
you are on fire
you are like your mother.
So how could I ever talk about sin or damnation
when you have legs like creaking doors?
you welcome ghosts home
so I know you will know hell intimately
men who like to punch women in the face
who tongue kiss girls who look like their mother
men who hold you down, face in the mattress.
Daughter with a soft body
the hardest ones will fall for you
and you will usher them in
seek out their sharp edges
the abrasion
and by the time they’ve finished
you will be bloody and sore
teeth marks on your thighs
your torso a burnt house of worship.
Habibti, you do not deserve it but
you will be loved in fragments and fractions
until you no longer look like yourself
until your mouth is just the shape of his quiet name
oh my little girl
rip him out of your body
you come from a long line of women;
Hawa who doused herself in petrol
Ayan who pulled out her own teeth
Khadija who fell asleep in the river
forgetting is the hardest thing in the world,
remember that.

– Warsan Shire

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Paper Boats Forever

“We are what we remember. If we lose our memory, we lose our identity and our identity is the accumulation of our experiences. When we walk down the memory lane, it can be unconsciously, willingly, selectively, impetuously or sometimes grudgingly. By following our stream of consciousness we look for lost time and things past. Some reminiscences become anchor points that can take another scope with the wisdom of hindsight. 

Some details in life may look insignificant but appear to be vital leitmotifs in a person’s life. They may have the value of “Rosebuds” of Citizen Kane or “Madeleine cookies” of Marcel Proust or “Strawberry fields” of the Beatles. People regularly walk down the memory lane of their early youth. The paper boats of their childhood are recurrently floating on the waves of their mind and bring back the mood and the spirit of the early days. They enable us to retreat from the trivial, daily worries and can generate delightful bliss and true joy in a sometimes frantic and chaotic life.

When the shimmer of the past is melting into the presence, spreading a scent of attentiveness and inquiring ness, our mind may ask for a new reading of the story of our life. An innocuous flicker from a hazy sequence in our memory lane can affect our current awareness, making us raise questions, throwing new light on our expectations; crafting an airy vision of the future.”

― Erik Pevernagie

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Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood

Adults who were hurt as children inevitably exhibit a peculiar strength, profound inner wisdom, and remarkable creativity and insight. Deep within them – just beneath the wound – lies a profound spiritual vitality, a quiet knowing, a way of perceiving what is beautiful, right, and true. Since their early experiences were so dark and painful, they have spent much of their lives in search of the gentleness, love, and peace they have only imagined in the privacy of their own hearts.” 

― Wayne Muller

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Family

“One of the problems was my belief that family were always there for each other. That was the cause of my pain and my guilt. The fact that I no longer had them in my life meant that I was going against a code I held close to my heart. I had to modify that belief. I had to change my definition of family. It was no longer those to whom I was linked by blood. My family now became the friends who had been there the whole time. People who I knew I could count on when things went wrong… Finding and surrounding yourself with people who truly care for you is your gift to yourself. You deserve that. You will be okay. I no longer believe that I have lost my family. I have only now finally recognized who they truly are.”

~Anonymous

“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” ~Edna Buchanan

A few years ago I ended all contact with my parents, and I have not seen or spoken to them since then.

The truth is I am actually okay with that. Initially, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I had been brought up to believe that family comes first. Children should respect and take care of their parents. Family should—and will—always be there for each other.

Those beliefs were based on love, and I cherished them.

I wanted so much to feel that connection—that unconditional love those beliefs promised. It was never there.

Our lives were filled with so much fear, pain, hurt, betrayal, and lies. Manipulation and deceit were at the core of our home.

I told myself that all families have degrees of dysfunction, and our family was no different. I could not allow myself to believe that our family was different. I believed that one day my parents would realize what they were doing and change. I desperately wanted their love and approval.

On the night when my husband and I ended up inside a police station explaining why I thought my father was about to come to my home and hurt me, while my two grown sons waited in the car, I realized I had to wake up.

My fantasy was over. I could no longer go on pretending our family was just like everyone else. That night I said my last goodbye to my mother as she lied to protect my father. The next day I spoke the last words to my father as he screamed into the phone repeating the lies from my childhood. It was over.

Giving up the hope that things would get better was the hardest part. I was terrified that I was doing the wrong thing. I thought I was being a bad daughter. I was going against every cherished belief about family.

It broke my heart to know that my life had been based on an illusion. The picture I had created of my parents was shattered. They had never been there for me, and they never would be.

I had lied to myself to protect my fantasy and keep them in my life. Now I could no longer do it.

Over time I began to understand why I had fought so hard to live out the lie, and I began to forgive myself for not being brave enough to stand up earlier.

One of the problems was my belief that family were always there for each other. That was the cause of my pain and my guilt. The fact that I no longer had them in my life meant that I was going against a code I held close to my heart.

I had to modify that belief. I had to change my definition of family. It was no longer those to whom I was linked by blood. My family now became the friends who had been there the whole time. People who I knew I could count on when things went wrong. That was never my parents.

I also realized that I was afraid I was not lovable. In my mind if my own parents could not love me, there had to be something wrong with me.

I did everything I could to minimize disagreements between us, keeping quiet just to keep the peace. I knew that if I spoke up we would argue, they would get mad at me, and they would not love me. I failed to realize that this was something I only experienced with them.

It was hard work just to be around them. I was always on edge, cautious, and scared. That was not a loving relationship. I came to accept that if they could not love me, it didn’t change anything about me. I had created other loving relationships around me, and they were the scaffolding holding me up.

My first Christmas after was hard. I had always gone to my parents’ house to live the fairy tale of being surrounded by love.

It was always hard to ready myself for those days. We would act out the roles of happy family, hoping in some way that was our truth. It wasn’t. I had no idea how tense I was at these interactions until I no longer had to do it.

Part of the hurt was that I now had no tradition, so I decided to start a new one. Christmas is no longer a day of obligation. I now spend it with the people who are my true family.

I’ve come to realize that the love I had for my parents was based on a childhood need for safety and security. I had to see them as the parents who loved me, despite the things they did. I could not accept that the people responsible for my well-being were also responsible for my suffering.

So much of the world I had created around my parents was simply not real. I have had to accept that truth and move on with my life.

One of my fears was that by breaking contact with my parents, I was setting an example that my sons could repeat with me. I’d like to think this won’t happen because of my parents.

The pain of my childhood taught me how important it is for a child to truly feel loved, safe, and cherished. I’ve tried to live that truth with my boys. I don’t know what the future holds for us. I can only hope that the love I’ve shown them will have created a space in their hearts where I will always be thought of with love.

I try to imagine how I’ll feel when I find out that my parents have died. I honestly don’t know. I’m sure that part of me will be sad that we did not have a better ending. However, I know in my heart of hearts that I tried for over forty years to make it work. In the end, it just wasn’t enough.

My parents were never who I thought them to be. I have had to let it all go. The fantasy of the perfect ending with them is over. I am setting out on a new horizon where I have redefined my world.

As abused children, we may feel that it is somehow our responsibility to fix the broken parts of our family. It’s not. Sometimes there is no fairy tale ending where our parents realize how truly wonderful we are.

The hard part is recognizing that and moving on. Sometimes it’s the only way to find real peace. It’s heartbreaking. It’s not easy. Finding and surrounding yourself with people who truly care for you is your gift to yourself. You deserve that. You will be okay.

I no longer believe that I have lost my family. I have only now finally recognized who they truly are.

By Anonymous

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Pedigree

…mine is shocking. Both in tales and in reality. At least from one side. Father’s side. If I’m going to believe (which is very difficult not to when evidence is staring me straight in the eyes and based on my own personal experience I have no reasons to doubt) I came from a family of cheating conniving  incestuous gypsy witches and nomad warlords who were/are fond of betraying and molesting each other in all possible ways. From my maternal side, I can easily describe them in few words: They are a bunch of upper middle class (possibly even rich) educated prejudiced narrow-minded tyrannical self-righteous people who have written my mother out of a will (for marrying my -to their eyes substandard- father) and refused to recognize our existence till I married my (foreigner therefore rich) ex but by then I was a rebel enough already and only too happy to defy them. Our very own little family… Well, what can I say? You have to read few of my post to get a little bit of insight how dysfunctional and pathetic we are. End of my pedigree sum up.

 “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
― Mitch Albom

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