Victory at Home

I was standing on Fulton street waiting for the Number 15 to take me to the corner near my home. The wind was brisk with an occasional chill, but the lifting of the hood of my sweatshirt over my head blocked most of it. This particular stop homes three buses headed out and about town. It feels quite familiar as all three round the corner coming out of the transfer station down by Van Andel Arena. I switch feet. I look across to Veteran’s Park where I danced with wild abandon at a Thursday night drum circle held after the Jazz concert at Ah-Nab-Awen park. The Main Library is behind that. I spent hours of research in those rooms. Everything I was looking at seemed familiar, but with a dream-like quality.

I came to the conclusion that I was but a drop in the puddle in their eyes, but in mine, I was so much bigger.

When I moved away from West Michigan in 1989, I had no idea who I was; broken, discouraged, full of lamentations. I had no direction or purpose. I molded myself into the ideals that I believed I was supposed to be. I became a fair wife, a devout church goer, a preacher of God’s love, a model citizen in every way. I provided Christmas for impoverished children, took them on camping trips, advocated for their protection always seeking approval from outside sources. I was miserable.

After the loss of Jordan, I began rethinking my life and the choices that had brought me to a point where I could no longer stay. My marriage was a disaster, my friends were there but they were all much younger than I so their freedoms were different. I still had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be or do. At 25 years old, I decided to find out who that woman looking back at me in the mirror was. I left everything behind. I cut ties with family, friends, acquaintances, and moved back to a small studio apartment in Kentwood. I married again but it crumbled basically from day one. I moved around the country for about a year, using Greyhound as my means of travel.

By the time I ended up in Arizona I was a disaster. I married for a third time. I found a group of friends that, for the first time, not only saw me for who I am, but encouraged me to be everything I was meant to be. I felt like a toddler whose parents delight in the antics of the little one, but at the same time, I was an adult. I radiated humor and enthusiasm. I decided I was strong enough to move, so I did. I moved across the country again to Tennessee where I lived with my father for a brief time. He was a miserable human being that rejected me just as fast as he embraced me. It was constant mixed messages from him which led to uncertainty and instability.

I found God living in a little church tucked away behind a natural shade of trees. I was told to go there and I’m glad I obeyed. It was like coming home. It was the first group of collective people that not only appreciated my wildness, but saught me out for companionship, help, and entertainment. I imagine it’s what being a rockstar feels like. What’s even cooler is that I adored every one of them right back. I couldn’t help it. I’d waited my whole life to know what it was to be me. I learned it at their knee. It was the most difficult day when I had to say goodbye to them and return to my hometown of Grand Rapids.

Only, it wasn’t my Grand Rapids.

It wasn’t the place where the broken little girl made up ridiculous fantasies of being the President of the United States or curing cancer with a brightly colored cardboard box and a stick found on the playground. This wasn’t the city where I dealt with childhood tragedies with self destructive behaviors. Nothing was the same, including the absence of the monsters that didn’t live under my bed but were under the same roofs as me. The dark secrets were held up to the light until their power whimpered into submission.

This city doesnt know me, power in my words, body thick with laughter, hair demonstrably wild, my secrets laid open to the beauty of rainbows once forbidden from my fingertips. This city is unaware that within its limits, there is a woman with courage as deep as a wristcutters truth, but as furious as a hurricane battering abusers with education. Grand Rapids has yet to understand that I, that had all along existed but had been nearly crushed by history, rose up to find my feet.

I’m standing in the middle of Division and Fulton in my mind, screaming with laughter at the pure wickedness of possibilities to be reached. This may not be my Grand Rapids, but it is my home.

Fifty year drought

babydoll

I had a baby.

Her name didn’t/doesn’t matter.

She lay in her stroller with her arms outstretched.

I smiled down at her, cooing gentle words of love.

I swaddled her a bit tighter against the chill.

As each car passed on the nearly vacant street,

I’d sing a little louder so they’d know I was a mom.

It’s all I ever wanted to be.

INTERLUDE

The MMR wasn’t created when I was born.

When my brother came along and got his,

nobody thought to inoculate me.

At twelve years old, my throat and neck hurt so badly.

My mom gave me a dill pickle (LOVE THEM) but I couldn’t swallow.

Diagnosis: The mumps.

Aged and married: Clomid, Pergonal, temperatures, acne, painful periods,

nothing. nothing. nothing.

Failed adoption. Ectopic miscarriage, failed adoption

GUARDIANSHIP x two!

Rejected for violence. Rejected for drugs.

nothing. nothing. nothing.

PART TWO

ultrasound

You can’t possibly know how many times I’ve been gracious,

how many times I’ve oohed and aah-ed over black gray blobs

What it’s like to see beautiful mothers holding their beautiful babies

while my arms hold back my sadness, my longing, my relief.

I’m not resentful that they have my dreams wrapped in their love.

I’m not angry that their wishes came true. I’m not even upset.

PART THREE

birth-control-1

Am I less than a woman for not showing proof of fertility?

Am I less than a woman for my body’s refusal to carry life?

I feel betrayed each time blood flows from my barren womb.

All of the pain, emotions, heating pads, and carb stuffing…for what?

Another reminder that I’m not like the others. Another storm trooper miss.

 

 

The Black Hole Swallows

You gave to me the end of forever

The taste was bittersweet

Our humble time no longer together

Our lips can’t ever again meet

The black hole has spoken

It’s taken our life

Just a void that is broken

On the edge of a knife

 

I sing for the afternoon that we met

The sun barely shining, we wept as it set

We crawled in our walking, our first baby steps

While the world spun around us the time

We forgot

To be careful and then

We fell to our deaths, in love

To the end

of us.

I am all yours

Go ahead and take

everything that you want

You can do anything

that you want to me

I am all yours

Be the one who is

everything that I need

I’ll give you anything

that you want, my love

I am all yours

Understand that I promise you

whatever you ask of me

I can’t go back to then

when we fought so hard

when we nearly lost our we

Take my hand and I’ll give you

peace of mind trusting us

Together we’ll move on

forward through our life

breaking the world for us

Facing faces of my family

I have stood within the fires of my community

Feeling their judgement with their vigilant scrutiny.

My skin has been scarred by the guilt of my actions

Withdrawing, re-birthing, questing my faction

I have stood dripping the blood of my kin

The impression of their prudence slicing at my sin

My spirit fiery with the perdition of my birth

Refusing their wisdom, not knowing its worth

I have slithered slyly a slippery slope

Seething such squalor swiftly to scope

My disdain for the mundane, my refusal of love

Was my born albatross that I couldn’t get rid of

But now I have faced the faces of my family

I’ve found them not to be of my enemy

I’ve been wrapped in the warmth of hearth-side chats

Covered in the laughter of loving habitats

Return to the tribe, return to the fold

Swallow your pride, be not undersold

Be everything you are without any fear

Because those that love you will hold you dear.

 

 

The gray

(Verse One)

Don’t cry to me of imagined slights

Don’t fill my ears with dramatic fights

You wear your crooked crown based on obfuscated lies

Terrified to pack up your own desecration’s prize

(Transition)

HEY! HEY! HEY!

 

(Verse Two)

Wash your hands of every wish you made

Pack them in the old musty suitcase

Load it up and remember where you could have been lost

Break open the latches, rusty locks at what high cost?

HEY! HEY! HEY!

(Chorus)

Take a turn on reality’s wheel

Won’t you tell me how you feel

Even though it’s hard to let things go

Nobody wants tickets…to your show.

HEY! HEY! HEY!

(Verse Three)

There is nothing to be done your bones

You must choose your adventure alone

Cascading fury of your self-righteous self-loathing

Stripping down naked of your emotional clothing

(Chorus)

Take a turn on reality’s wheel

Won’t you tell me how you feel

Even though it’s hard to let things go

Nobody wants tickets…to your show.

HEY! HEY! HEY!

HEY! HEY! HEY!

HEY! HEY! HEY!

Flee

Maybe if I pretend I’m not breathing.

Maybe if I scream loud enough.

Maybe if I can get out of this room.

Maybe if I can get the clip away from him.

Maybe if I can tell him I need water.

Maybe if I can make it out the door.

Maybe I can make it to my friend’s house.

Maybe if I call the police they’ll protect me.

Maybe if I ducked fast enough I’d be okay.

Domestic violence isn’t funny. It doesn’t happen once. It terrorized me.

My things would come up missing only to be found burned in the back yard. I wasn’t allowed rest because of the mocking from outside my bedroom door that I had to put a lock on to keep him from raping me again. I couldn’t go to my friends without having to check in frequently to make sure I wasn’t doing anything inappropriate which I didn’t.

The first time he hit me was with both of his palms smacked into my shoulders pushing me backwards. I was so surprised that I didn’t respond. When he started going for the face, that was the most difficult. When he pulled the gun I’d gotten for personal protection, putting it to my head, I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want him to be the cause of my death. I chose to flee.

I read years later that he said he didn’t want a divorce. Then why would you beat on your wife? Why would you pull a gun on her? Why would you blame her for your shortcomings? I don’t regret leaving him. I only regret not doing so sooner.

If you’re in a domestic violence situation, or are uncertain whether or not your experiences are abuse, please contact Domestic Violence Hotline, or call 800-799-SAFE (7233). If you have been sexually assaulted, yes, even by your husband/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend, you can find help at R.A.I.N.N. (Rape And Incest National Network) by visiting their website at rainn.org or calling 800 656 HOPE (4673)

You are not alone. Help is out there. You will be okay.