Monday, August 31, 2009

Fallen by the Wayside


I don't know what it is about me in particular, but I suppose I have been pegged an easy target over the years. Fodder for comedy, the butt of the joke. Made to feel forever inferior no matter what I accomplish, not matter how hard I try.

When things go wrong for me, they don't just go slightly askew, the entire world shifts on its axis creating chaos and loss of gravity. I don't know which way is up or how to get my feet back on the ground. It happens all at once, like a giant bucket above an invisible doorway is filled with problems and I am the unlucky sap who happens through that very moment, sending them showering upon me, monsoon like until it feels like I'm drowning.

It could start off as mundane as they come, a hangnail maybe, a paper cut. Some everyday nuisance that sends off a domino effect that will then snowball into the avalanche of tragedies that are to soon follow and envelope my entire existence for how ever long I am sentenced to the punishment.

Nothing always so simple. From the outside looking in, those who know nothing of my life, nothing of these trials and tribulations scoff. Tell me to change the way things are. As if I wouldn't if I could! Oh for things to be different I would rejoice! I would dance the streets if it were that simple.

There are things in life you cannot control. The past actions of others, certain matters that affect your health, your family. Death. Certain stresses that are unavoidable. Building, like a prison, block by block over you until you are suffocated. Completely consumed by it all. And then just when you feel like all you need is a friend, that one tried and true source of comfort and familiarity, you open your heart...your voice....and nothing. They are gone.

You are forced yet into a harsher reality; that you are alone. More alone than you had previously realized because backs have been turned. Insults have been uttered, your thoughts, your feelings, your insecurities all fallen by the wayside. You stand, shivering in the shadows of your own solitude.

Never once had you turned your back in times of others needs, even when your own life had been in ruins, never once had you been biting, insulting, harsh. Never once had you needed to be reminded to help a friend in need, a family member when called upon. They needn't have asked, you offered.

Why then do I suddenly feel like I have nothing left? That it had all been so shallow? Hollow, like a movie facade...not what it actually seemed? Had I imagined it all? Had it been a dream? Now replaced with the fitful tossing and turning of sleeplessness?

And yet those who know nothing, chime in. Speaking cantankerously as though they know. As if they'd been there all along, when in fact they know nothing. The ones who do lay dormant, silent. Offering shallow words of advice, tattered clich├ęs. Nothing substantial. Nothing that helps.

And in the irony of it all, nothing that changes anything.




Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Honor: Officer Michael Davey


On Monday, a hero was killed. He was a police officer, a veteran, a husband, a father and a friend. He was a man I knew. Kids birthday parties, Halloween. Countless seemingly minute interactions you would take for granted in every day life, now remembered with great sadness and fond memory.

He was the quintessential hometown hero. He was what books are written of, what movies are made, and what every little boy grew up wanting to be.

He made his life in the town he was born and raised. He married his high school sweetheart. He served his country with pride, honor and dignity in a war to keep the freedoms for his children that he had come to know and cherish.

His uniform of camouflage fatigues of the ARMY changed to the deep navy's and blue's that allowed him to don the badge his father had donned before him, his grandfather before that, as an officer of the law.

He wanted the life he had for his children, in the same wholesome neighborhood he grew up in, where everyone smiled and waved. Where cutting the grass on a crisp Saturday morning was a thing of normalcy and you actually knew your neighbors.

He was a hero to his children, to his wife. He was a rock to those who knew him. A solid citizen. Even those knowing him vaguely could feel that they had been touched by greatness. He was a man you knew could make a difference.

Words cannot begin to express the tragedy of what happened to Michael Davey. A man who in his 34 years had clearly touched so many, and yet still had so much to yet to give.

A Soldier, an Officer, Father, Friend.

A Husband, Son, Brother.....a hero until the end.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Where Are They Now?


Is it really a test of friendship when you realize how much time and effort, how much blood, sweat and tears you put in for other people with out even a thought, a notion only to later realize it's usually one sided?


When the chips are down, when the world is collapsing around you, and maybe yes no one else can see it, but still it's happening. Every ounce of sanity you once knew, everything you once held in the highest regard now lies dormant inside you. No one there to check on you, to pick you up. You were there for them. You didn't need a reminder, you didn't need to be asked.


Why is it that in times when you need it most you are reminded of all you have done for others?


I have never thought of myself as a selfish person. I have always put the needs of everyone else, even those I have never met in front of my own. I have found a sitter for my own child to help take care of someone else's. I have put aside my own needs time and time again to help those I care about. Without so much as a second thought.


Why is it I find that when I need it, that I am a second thought? To jobs, to responsibilities? I have them too, yes, but none of them were as important to me as those I cared about most.


I'm not trying to pen myself as a martyr. I'm not trying to paint myself a picture of a perfection in the friendship category as I am sure there have been many mistakes made on my part, but I have always done whatever I could to be there when it counted.


I am not sure I can even put into words how I have been feeling as of late. The undaunted feelings of sadness, of loneliness, of disparity, stemming from heavens knows where. Perhaps from repressions of all things past, present and even future emotions I have kept bottled up. Like a human volcano, suddenly erupting and now its all flowing emotional lava, melting everything in its path.


I found myself this past weekend, immobile. Unable to move myself from my bed. Not only from the pain I was in physically, not that. It was more like invisible straps bound me there, like I had no choice. I would look around at everything that had to be done, the few boxes I had gathered to fill with my life messily tossed around my apartment and I was paralyzed by it all. I couldn’t cook, I couldn't clean, I didn't touch my phone.


My poor son, luckily entertained himself in his room, as I lay in an emotional prison I had no idea how to escape from. I had no motivation, I was drained. I have no idea what has come over me, or why. But I noticed in my solitude, that it was silent. The only time my phone rang was my mother to say goodnight to my son.


I have never felt more alone, more neglected. As if my existence didn't matter, to anyone. Not so much as an invitation to make plans, or even to have idle chatter. Nothing. I was alone. Just me, in my emotional prison, alone with my thoughts, which lately has not been the greatest of company.


I think of the 3 weeks I have left to pack up my life. The life once shared by what I thought were my friends. People I have gone to bat for, put everything on the line for to help out. Helped move, sat with all night in hospitals, held their hair back for when they were sick. I think about everything I have done. Stayed up all night listening to them in their times of need. Was just there for.

There were friends who were there through the years when I needed them, yet they seem to have fallen by the wayside. Sucked into some time-warped abyss. As though the calendar came to life and lost all concepts of time. Like years, months even days have all been erased and time has stood still. Like I am suddenly living some through-the-looking-glass existence, starring into a one-way reflected image of my own solidarity.


I realize people all have lives. They have jobs, responsibilities, spouses, children, etc. But when I helped them, so did I.


I wonder where they all are now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Skeletons in the Closet


There is something daunting about packing up your life into boxes, bags and bins and moving. Weeding out everything you are and everything you own into "keep" and "throw away" piles. Reminders of things you have forgotten, either purposely or not, surfacing after years of neglect.

Procrastination seems to be my specialty as of late when it comes to the thought of it all. Compounded by back injury, I am haunted by what may lurk in the back of those closets. Those proverbial skeletons waiting to pop out and conjure up things that may have been better left where they are.

The last time I moved was out of necessity, it was an escape. From a place that had been my first home. Well, rented home, but it was mine nonetheless. 6 years of memories, mostly good. Until it all got ripped away by someone who decided that keeping a sturdy roof over my sons head was only second best to snorting heroin up their nose. That violent mood swings and mental abuse became a way of life I wasn't cut out for and I needed to get away, for the sake of my sanity and more importantly the safety of my then 1 year old son.

Now close to 4 years later, circumstances may be different, but there is still a necessity. And all those things boxed up and all those emotions bottled are surfacing. I had my father's help before. I had his support, his guidance. OK, so I had him yelling at me to do things "his" way and a rented Brazilian, but still I had him.

All of it rests upon the anniversary of his death. The anniversary if Dylan's father once again choosing drugs over his son and causing chaos in our lives, although this time, THIS time in front of my child. And Dylan's 5th birthday.

I know I should look at moving as a new beginning, as all you perpetual optimists keep trying to tell me. But as I stare at the unending task of packing it all up into labeled boxes and bins, as I try to reassemble my life into a new one, compartmentalized into some sort of twisted organization, I can't get past it all.

Everything comes flooding back to me as if it were happening all at once and I am overwhelmed by it all at once. My father's death, Dylan's father, my health, single parenthood, my son, money, feeling alone, taking care of my mother; all things that seem so insignificant to anyone else, that seem so harmless and yet right now I feel so fragile. Like as if one more tiny crack is all it would take for me to shatter into a million tiny pieces.

And so nothing is done. I stare at it all, knowing it needs to be done, and I freeze. I cower before the task, afraid. Like a child afraid of what lurks under the bed in the dark, I fear the ghosts of the past, what I will uncover while I slowly remove the layers of dust from the shelves. Will these stigmas follow me? Will I only re-pack them and carry them with me to where I am escaping to next?

Or is this a chance to leave it all finally behind me?




Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Superman Flew Away

So I reached into my way-back machine and conjured up the only piece of actual "published" work I have ever done. An Op-Ed published in The Burlington Free Press, Vermont's answer to the New York Times, November 4, 1997, when I was 18 years old.

So, you had to much to drink. You're at a party, have a good time when you see an extremely attractive guy. Tall, dark and handsome, with a gleam in his eye, and a smile adorning his flawless face.

The two of you get to talking. During an intermission, you get up to powder your nose. In your absence, you so-called Superman has slipped something into your drink. Later, you and Mr. Wonderful end up going too far.


You might think this was just a one-night stand; a drunken act of false intimacy. In reality, what happened to you was rape.


By definition, the word rape means a violation. Though you weren't beaten up, abducted, tied down or brutally forced, you were under the influence of drugs and alcohol. You were taken advantage of; you were violated; you were raped.


Facts about such rapes are hard to keep straight and even harder to prosecute. With date-rate drugs becoming more common, these rapists may never be charged.


Rohypnol (roofies) is a colorless, odorless pill that dissolves quickly in liquid. In 10 minutes, it can cause a drunk-like effect that lasts up to eight hours. It also enhances the effects of alcohol, causing loss of inhibition, extreme sleepiness, relaxation, and perhaps worst of all for its victims, amnesia.


Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is also a popular date-rape drug. In its purest form, it is odorless and tasteless. It swiftly depresses the respiratory system, causing memory loss due to lack of oxygen to the brain.


In August of 1996, I experienced what many of these victims have gone through. I was at such a party, surrounded by people I thought to be my friends, but apparently I was wrong.


Rohypnol was slipped into my drink. Before I was drugged, I remembered everything...conversations, people I held them with. I had been fully aware of everything.


Later that evening, I was raped. It wasn't forced. I wasn't beaten or tied down, but I was raped. I was drugged and taken advantage of, and that's something I can never change.


More information of roofies and GHB should be made available. More cases of rape caused by these drugs should be prosecuted. More girls who experience this turmoil should be believed. Without public awareness about the drugs, there will be less chance of these rapes being prevented.


While brutal and fatal rape incidents make major headlines, rapes like mine are seldom reported, due to the amnesia caused by the drugs and their ability to flush themselves out of the human system in 24 hours.


What happened to love involved with sex? What happened to respect? Those movie-like, white-laced, candle-lit, wine-sipping, romantic experiences meant to take place on a beach at sunset have been replaced by the intoxicated, unilateral participation, unconscious, beer-slugging experiences that leave no sentiment..or memory for that matter.


I still feel pangs of shock when I think about what happened to me. Its hard to understand. But there are no answers. I know its not my fault, and I feel that the more people know, the less likely they will have to go through what I did.


A month later, the paper dedicated a letters to the editor section to my article. I also got letters from Vermont residents who just simply wrote my name and the town I was living in in Vermont from the by-line. It was the only time in my life I have ever felt successful writing.

I used to be invincible


I used to be invincible.

At least, I thought I was. I was a woman with a purpose, a passion, a power. A natural prowess that commanded every room I dared to enter. I had no fear, I had no shame. Why should I have? I was cool, calm and collected. I was rebellious and reserved. Mysterious and out there. I was an enigma.

I had confidence in everything I did. I got what I wanted. The job? Yes. My dream job? Not at the time, but it let me sleep late and stay out into the wee hours. The men? Oh the men. I would see the ones I wanted, saunter to them with an arrogant air about me and just talk to them all. If they were single it was fair game. If they weren't? Well, a girlfriend was a obstacle, not a wall.

I never thought poorly of myself. I would surround myself with my circle of friends. Several circles. Broadening my horizons. Forever meeting people, for I was never shy. Was I the prettiest in my eyes? Not entirely, but I did alright for myself. I oozed sex appeal. I had it all. I was happy...once.

Sure I had a lot of ex boyfriends, but in hindsight, it wasn't so bad. They weren't all dysfunctional relationships. They ran their courses. They were lessons learned. Growth experiences. We laughed, we cried. We got over it.

A decade later I stare into the mirror and try to remember that girl. I think of those memories they seem more like a movie I once saw than my own life. I long to remember that confidence. I long to remember that carefree gal with the come-hither glare who made men weak in the knees.

The relationships of latter years weren't growth experiences, they were harsh and often brutal. Full of verbal and mental abuse. Insults and degradations. Tears more than laughter. There was distrust and cheating, lies and hidden drug use. Having the sins of former girlfriends taken out on me over and over again.

And I, once invincible, was starting to disappear.

I felt myself slipping away. A shell of me still shown on the outside, maybe. Inside that confident stride had been broken. I used to look at myself with pride. Now with disgust. What once was a body I was proud of, ravaged by childbirth and age. Hidden now not only by clothing, but sarcasm and self loathing.

Friendships have changed, suffered or ended. The world around me has paired off and moved on, and I feel even more alone. I immerse myself in solidarity, even when I'm surrounded by people. I smile and nod and play the game. Yet wonder why everyone else has found happiness but me.

What happened to that carefree person who had it all? Where did she go? I feel so powerless to the feelings of self consciousness that overtake me. Of not being good enough, or smart enough anymore. I used to feel I had to all. And now...I just don't know anymore.

I would give anything to go back, to go back in time and bring MYSELF back. The old me. The me who would stand up to myself and snap me out of this. Encourage me to go one. Get stronger. People try to tell me all the time how string I am, and I'm not. I've gotten by on dumb luck and fear. And I don't know how much longer that threadbare kind of existence will hold on before it breaks.

I used to be invincible.....


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Drift Away

I slip I slide I drift away
My thoughts awry
No fears at bay
I coast I cry
I try to find
A piece of myself
I left behind
A stronger self
Cool calm collected
Within the mirror
Once reflected
Gone is poise
Dignity
Replaced by shame
Insanity
Concealed in silence
I try to hide
Recluse myself
My time abide
Eyes are heavy
Thoughts a curse
Fear surrounds me
Superfluous
Solitary in thought
The future slight
Each word I utter
Another fight
I slip I slide I drift away
A shell of myself
Stands here today

Monday, August 17, 2009

Changes....




September is a month of changes. It’s a month of anniversaries for me that do not necessarily harbor the greatest memories. Dates that changed my life forever and have left permanent marks on the way I live my life, not always for the better.

It’s amazing to think that one month could have wrought so many feelings. There are so many emotions and changes. Like the changing seasons that happen so quickly, you wake up one day to notice the plush greenery you had grown so accustomed to now replaced with reds and gold’s, like scenery on fire. As if the world exploded overnight. The warm air replaced with a chill. It’s almost telling.

5 years ago I gave birth to my amazing little boy. I went from a singular being to a mother. I was no longer just concerned for myself, but now living my life entirely for someone else. I learned that love at first sight existed. Even through a hellish pregnancy, a horrible relationship (if you could even call it that) and a traumatizing labor, that this little person, this mini-me could be so perfect and calming. That my son could make me feel so overwhelmed and yet so amazed at the same time. I was yet a single mother, alone from the start.

3 years ago I suffered the death of my father. It was so sudden, so shocking. Like having the literal rug pulled out from underneath me. Driving blindly to the hospital to meet the ambulance. A bat out of Hell. Collapsing to the floor when the doctor came towards us with the news. Not believing. It was a bad dream. It had to be. My dad couldn't be gone. He was the Rock. The one who fixed everything, made everything ok. There was no way his big heart gave out. A man larger than life. Not in stature maybe, but in spirit. Boisterous and loud, funny without trying. And now he was silenced.

1 year ago, my son’s world turned upside down. A scene you imagine only in movies witnessed by an almost 4 year old boy in the back seat of his father's car. Undercover police, drug busts, guns blazing. A whirlwind of state custody and court battles. Restraining orders and nightmares; both his and mine. Fear of everything. What happens now? Such a long road ahead, just the two of us. My son now seemingly fatherless, so young and confused. Aware of what happened, yet so unsure by his age and his devotion.

Now a chance for a new beginning. Able to move into a new place. A place whose walls haven't heard the cries after the funeral of my father. Who's paint doesn't echo the sounds of the screams of a child who wakes in the night with terrors of all he's seen and climbs into his mother's bed for comfort. Perhaps more peaceful.

And yet still scary. As I enter the cusp of this new month, pending back injury....pending cervical cancer biopsy I enter it with fear. Will I need surgery on my spine? Could it be debilitating? Will my second biopsy show more pre-cancerous cells? Will it affect my work? My income? Can I do it alone? I stress, I cry, I recluse myself from the world. I hide.

The person who could calm me is gone, the child support that could ease my financial burdens hasn't come in a year. I get anxious, saddened that no one understands. That even as I write an explanation, I am lost in my own interpretation of my emotions. Caged in my fears and anxieties.

I stare off at my invisible to-do lists. The daunting tasks of packing up my life into boxes and bins and transferring memories from one house to another. Will bad karma follow me yet again? Is it fixed in my possessions like a cursed talisman or is it within me? Fated to follow me like a black cat in the shadows of every move I make?

Everything from failed relationships to failed vehicular inspections. The serious to the minute. It all seems to plague me. It gets harder and harder to bear to me. And I feel I often suffer it in silence, afraid that its only magnified in my own delusions. That opening my mouth about my fears will cast me out farther like a pariah among those who already think I am one. Or think I exaggerate or over-react to what others may think is a nothing situation.

Perhaps it is, but nothing is all I seem to have left, so I hold on, whole heartedly. Misinterpreted, maybe. Misunderstood, most likely. All that I am is all that I know. I can not change it, But I fear the fall, the Autumnal season that is now upon me....full of the unknown and most definitely full of changes.




Friday, August 7, 2009

Road Rage Barbie




Ok, deep breath…

I am about to admit to you all something that is difficult for me to say out loud. Why I chose now to do so, who knows, but alas, here I am after a tedious morning commute sitting gingerly at my desk, where I should be doing work....yet I feel I should be confessing. Yes, feel free to don your best Priestly attire...I, my friends, have road rage.

Phew, what a relief to get that out in the open!

Now it’s not like the typical angry man you see on the news who will get out of his car and beat someone on the side of the road kind of road rage no, but I somehow turn into Road Rage Barbie behind the wheel of my car and I have no idea how this transition happens exactly.

Its a scary metamorphosis really. Like my Ford Focus becomes some sort of super alien pod that sucks me into a new and unusual personality and I am instantly a more aggressive and angrier person. Speeding and swerving and swearing like a sailor.

Now I get it, I live in a city. Well, I work there at least. And they say that Boston drivers are some of the worst most offensive drivers in the country. And I guess the best defense is to have the best offense right? Right?!

Well this got me thinking this morning. Yes thing morning, as I cruised in and out of lanes, bobbing and weaving like a boxer, listening to Bittersweet Symphony and thinking of that late 90's video, the lead singer much like myself in my Focus, pushing his way where he needed to go, not caring who was in his way, clad in leather, cool and collected....

Ok so I wasn't cool and collected, I was yelling to myself at the idiot in front of me on the highway who decided the brakes were as good as the gas. I was also not wearing a snazzy leather jacket but you get the point...

I was thinking about the whole offense being a good defense and how I think I have transferred my road rage into my real life.

Have I become so adjusted to making my way, to making sure I get where I am going and not getting hurt that have become so focused that I have the mindset of being that guarded? Am I like a traffic lane, in my head? Not letting anyone else in for fear it may cut me off? Cause an accident? Derail me?

I know I know, the metaphors are killing you. But have I become so callous and jaded that I too have become a Bittersweet Symphony?

I know the road has been rough, bumpy and well, downright full of dead ends a lot of the time. I think I need a new map. Screw maps actually. I have a GPS with the voice of Darth Vader!! I should be able to find my way out of the Dark Side no problem shouldn’t I?

Maybe there's hope for me yet.




Monday, August 3, 2009

National Friendship Day? Are you kidding?



So apparently yesterday was National Friendship Day. A day proclaimed by Congress in 1935 to honor the importance of these relationships.

Seriously?

The first Sunday in August is a documented holiday to celebrate friendship. SO clearly you are off the hook for the rest of the year. Much like with birthday's and anniversary's, where the rest of the year can go by you only need one calendar day to pay attention to.


Unless of course, like me, you are named after a month. Then you get attention for an entire month, and along with it pointless jokes. "It's not April, it's June", "If you were born in September would your name have been September", or old men singing "April in Paris".


But I digress.

Its sad to me really, that they created a specific day for you to celebrate friendships. To me a friendship should be cherished daily, but then again, over the years I have noticed the changes that friendships have taken.

Those late night gossiping phone calls disappear. The frequency of all conversations generally cease. Sometimes the phone doesn't ring for days.


Oh sure some are still there, but not
there anymore. It changes, its different. It morphs into this pseudo adult persona that we call a friendship still, but to me generally feels lacking a lot of the time.

There are spouses now, and children sure. And jobs,
careers even. Things that take precedence over what was once an elementary school chum. Those friends who saw you through your first bad perm, your first zit, break-up, training bra.

You were in their weddings, at the births of their children. Yet still, as you grow older, some times the distance grow greater. There are some that are immune to this fate sure, and they are few and far between I can assure you. Those lucky enough to have those friends, THOSE are the people who should celebrate this holiday.


The friends that drop everything, even for a moment, to cheer you up on a bad day. Talk you down from those emotional ledges, even if they may not think you need to be on them. To hold your hair back when you throw up, whether its from chemotherapy or the cocktail flu.


The ones who no matter what, will leave their kids with a babysitter to sit with you in a hospital all night. The ones who put even your family first. THOSE are the ones who deserve this holiday.


Not those superficial ones who send you a Christmas card every year just to get one back. Not the ones who you grew apart from, even if you still remember the "good ole' days" fondly. The ones who you know secretly look down on you. Who disapprove of the choices you made in your life.


So what if you had a child out of wedlock. So what if you are a single mom living paycheck-to-paycheck. So what if you made bad decisions. You learned your lessons and you are a better person for them, a better friend. You learned to stand on your own to feet, learned to get back up when knocked down. And learned what a real friend looks like.

Learned who really deserves a holiday.
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