You are only as sick as your secrets.
We’ve all heard the platitude.
Yet buried deep inside each of us are two compartments…the one we hesitantly dust off and open up when we get into recovery – full of skeletons – but none so shameful as to mark us for life; and those that we bury just beneath the surface of the last dig. It’s this cache that is the most dangerous – it’s a trap door. We will keep falling into it until we rip the lid from it and explore what is underneath. Like an archeologist frightened by a supposed curse of the tomb, we just don’t go “there.”
What if we unleash the curse?
But what if the curse is in the “not going there?”
What if we are marking ourselves for life by keeping sick secrets? What if opening up our crypts brings fresh air to heal the curse?
What if healing the curse helps others to heal?
I very rarely re-blog here at The Beggar’s Bakery. But my friend and fellow writer Karen Perry just inspires the crypt-keeper in me, and this particular piece spoke to my spirit.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse myself, I applaud her candid transparency. I wrote about the subject on my own blog a while back (“Daddy’s Girls – the Healing”) but I am still actually doing a lot of healing. And a lot of trying to bury the site of excavation. I’m not proud of that, but it’s a process.
In my travels giving my testimony, I am astounded at the sheer number of women who have experienced this horror. Night terrors, anxiety, depression, substance abuse … can all be rooted in this abuse. It is a VERY BIG DEAL, it shapes who you are.
I’ve been watching you , keeping up with your feelings. I know you imagine I watch you from my throne in Heaven, so far way. But in reality, I’m as close as you as your own heart, the one that’s been broken; the one that has been skipping beats lately. I am as close as the breath you have a hard time catching when you try to cry quietly. I am right there with you.
You’ve been a bit down lately, really kind of “attitude-y Judy” if you will, and I know it’s because of Father’s Day. Well, really, your blues started to settle in around Mother’s Day, just last month. You have been out of whack ever since.
You are estranged from the mother that you dearly love, because you heart has decided that healthy boundaries must be in place, but your brain has decided those boundaries were not being respected. At your heart-brain summit – trying to figure out what to do – there was only chaos. I feel like maybe it’s time to let it go.
Father’s day is an even more loaded occasion. Aside from celebrating it for Your Beloved husband, you have no dog in this fight. The man who was most like father to you (besides Me, of course) was your grandfather, Papa. How much he loved you, and you loved him! It is a beautiful thing so witness so much devotion this side of the Kingdom. Does my own heart good to see.
But when, my daughter, are you going to let go of the others who “fathered” you? The one whose DNA I chose to combine with your mother’s to weave you into being, and knit you in her womb? I am sorry he did not stick around. Is wasn’t about you, you know. Ahhh, perhaps that is the biggest problem – his indifference made it about you.
And others in the “father” position, like the others who volunteered to step into that role. You simply have to understand that it is a tragic thing that he took advantage of his position and that you were hurt. Oh, my child, you were only very small.
In love, I want to suggest to you – instead of focusing on the loss and estrangement, the hurt and the trauma of your earlier life …you could try to consider things from another side? I will not force you to let it go, child. I am quite a gentleman, in that I insist you must make the choice. But when you do, I am here to help you move on.
You, my daughter, are a survivor! Strong in heart and in mind. And what you’ve lost in this life, you can see I have given back to you ten-fold, if you stop only looking back. Your cup is overflowing with blessings … Look around you, my child! Look forward.
All the issues with parents (who are, after all, just human beings like you) cannot dilute the love you receive in your life every single day. Let go of the relationships that make you feel lost, orphaned, alone…and look around at this life I’ve given you!
What you lack in relationship with your parents, I have given you 1,000 times more, through circles of friends whom you love – and love you – like family. People I have purposely brought into your life (again, not by orchestrating from a different galaxy, but from within and with-out and all around you) cradle you in more care than you ever imagined you would experience in this life.
When have you gone through a time of sorrow or joy that you were not surrounded with friends that rush toward you, to climb in the trenches and sit with you in your sorrow, or rejoice with great exuberance when celebration was in order?
In your husband alone, I’ve given you a best friend and confidant, a lover, a helper; and a wonderful father for your children, as well. In all the world, I chose him for you, so that you would never feel lost, orphaned, alone again.
My daughter, if you would just realize this … maybe you would be lifted up. Maybe you could be a bit of a “gratitudey– Judy” – ya think? (I knew you’d get a kick out of that one!)
Let things go that do not matter, look around you and realize what you really do have.
And if you do… if you really see it, your epiphany might help me to have the best Father’s Day ever.
I love you.
I don’t even remember where we were are going, my mother and I … just she and I alone in the car. I must have been ten years old, right on the cusp of Mommy Worship and Mommy Disdain. My young mother still in her late twenties – a beautiful, volatile, ball of energy and light. I catch a glimpse of her sideways as we rolled down the road. She smiles, turning the radio up.
Baker Street, her favorite song. We hand-crank the windows down – Gerry Rafferty’s tinny vocals blasting us like the wind. She sings:
Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well, another crazy day
You’ll drink the night away And forget about everything.
Filaments of her blonde hair whip about her face, and I feel a pain for loving her so much. She looks like an angel with a Dorothy Hamill haircut. I take a big breath to sing along with her, but the air is full from the smoke of burning leaves from someone’s yard, and I cough. We laugh.
You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re trying, you’re trying now.
She reaches over to the passenger seat and takes my hand, smiling. She is proud that I know the words to the chorus. I remember when I was very little and she would tell me it was me and her against the world. The world was antagonist; we were invincible. My hand didn’t swim in hers like back then, it fit perfectly.
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re crying, you’re crying now.
We did very bad air-saxaphone routines with our voices, just for the sake of being silly. All of the elements for a perfect mother-daughter moment, all serendipitous-like. She lets go of my hand to light a cigarette in the interlude.
Way down the street there’s a light in his place
He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face
And he asks you where you’ve been
You tell him who you’ve seen
And you talk about anything.
We sing at the top of our lungs, her words sometimes coming out in smoke as she exhales.
He’s got this dream about buying some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one-night stands
And then he’ll settle down In some quiet little town
And forget about everything.
At stop lights, people stare at us. We sing louder! We are beautiful, volatile balls of energy and light. Of course all the other drivers wish that they were as cool as we are, singing Baker Street. Mom flicks her cigarette butt out the window absently.
But you know he’ll always keep moving
You know he’s never gonna stop moving ‘
Cause he’s rolling, he’s the rolling stone…
A single car ride, burned into the filament of my spirit. I don’t even know where we were going, and it doesn’t matter. I feel the same pain from loving her so much, when I remember it. What I wouldn’t do do have the three or four minutes on a Fall afternoon in Houston, my hand in my mother’s – fitting just right. Before another crazy day.
To talk about anything.
To forget about everything.
Before the world was antagonist.
And when you wake up, it’s a new morning The sun is shining, it’s a new morning And you’re going, you’re going home.
Being a child in the 1970’s at Halloween was just the best. Am I right?
If you are a 40-ish person, you know what I’m talking about.
This is not a blog post about Halloween as a celebration of evil, because in 1976, I had no idea that there was a dark side to the day. It was not about evil (or breathing or seeing in a mask.) I am no fan of modern-day Halloween, or what it represents, but when I was seven years old, it was all about the candy. And all about fun.
If you were a child in those days (oh Mercy…did I just say ‘in those days?’ Also, did I just say ‘mercy’? OLD) you might remember that:
The coolest thing was to be ‘ready’ to trick-or-treat at 6 p.m. That was the earliest acceptable time, because “you wouldn’t want to interrupt anyone’s dinner.”
You gladly wore the standard plastic and vinyl costume (see photo above. I assure you it is not photo-shopped. No, not even the plaid couch is photo-shopped.)
While in costume (mask must be engaged before leaving your house,) your eyes never lined up with the holes. They were not really for seeing out of; just holes punched randomly in a factory, and seldom over the actual eye design.
Actually, “pants” weren’t part of your costume at all. It was, more of a Onsie made from a good-quality lawn bag – with other holes for your limbs, and a tie on the back of the neck that your mother always tied way too tight.
As a result, you stumbled around over your plastic pants like some kind of wonky-eyed mutant cousin of whatever character you were trying to portray.
You collected candy from strangers who weren’t really strangers, because all the neighbors knew each other, at least casually. Nobody checked your candy for razor blades or poison, because such a thing nearly never happened (and, if it did, it was the stuff of Halloween-lore instead of a daily news event.)
Your parents told you ahead of time – before you set out with your friends unchaperoned – which houses to skip (“Don’t go to that house….the man that lives there gives your mother the creeps!”) Every other home that displayed a lit porch was open for business, and that was nearly every single one.
You trick-or-treated with the standard-size orange plastic pumpkin. No pillowcases. Greed was not a virtue then, and greedy children were frowned upon.
If you dilly-dally at someone’s door to check your stash, it was considered rude.
Also … if you dilly-dally at a door, you might walk home with an entirely different group of kids than you set off with (since there were many Caspers, princesses, H.R. Puff-n-Stuffs, and yes…sheets with eyeholes cut in them ala Charlie Brown.) Somehow, that was okay. You eventually wandered home, having only lifted your ill-fitting mask to stuff candy in your mouth.
No self-respecting teenager would caught trick-or-treating. That was for babies. Sure, every year there was a random sprinkling of young teens in lame costumes, trying to milk the last Milk Duds from their childhoods. But there were not roving gang going door-to-door, comprised of people old enough to vote in an election (or run for an election, for that matter.)
Driving to other neighborhoods for better candy was not groovy. It was tacky.
You always said thank you, even when there were no parents around to nudge and remind you.
If you were the kid whose front tooth was lost in a caramel apple, yours were ultimate bragging rights on Nov. 1st.
And yes, you ate genuine candy apples, and bobbed for the regular kind – in a bucket of water, and without wearing a life vest or having your parents sign a waiver prior to bobbing. Quaint in retrospect.
Your neighbors held Halloween parties in their living rooms, and you were invited to them without social media. All you had to do was ring the doorbell, say “Trick-or-Treat!” and you were invited in for purple punch and cookies with icing-spiders on them, while Monster Mash blasted from the speakers from an 8-track. Nobody issued an Amber alert for missing trick-or-treaters, because it was a different world.
When you were a tween, it wouldn’t have occurred to you to dress as the “naughty” versions of superheroes, cartoon characters, or inanimate objects. You didn’t try to sex-up Raggedy Ann, not even ‘just for Halloween.” Childhood icons were not fodder for making naughty, and if you did – you were perverse.
(Sidenote: It’s sad to me that any beloved character can be made “naughty” now. That Raggedy Ann – perfect in her innocent doll-ness – is so often sluttied up with stilettos and a gingham bustier, and society is A-OK with it. It’s not sad because I’m a prude, it’s sad because, well – it should make all of us sad.)
When you were a trick-or-treater in the ’70’s, things got real at dusk, and legit scary at dark, when the “older,” 8-12 year-old kids made spooky ghost noises in the dark.)
There were no store-bought, life-sized Frankensteins from Lowe’s adorning the porches in your neighborhood, mechanically raising zombie-menace arms. Inevitably, one of the Old Fart neighbor dads would have painstakingly painted a Monster-face on, giving you a personal (but purely fun) scare.
You traded candy with your friends on somebody’s front lawn after trick-or-treating, and after divvy-ing it up, took care to wipe the blades of grass off each piece.
After the swapping, you didn’t feel entitled to better candy ..,.an “all-Hershey Halloween.” Your parents had just sanctioned the pillage of sweets from the whole neighborhood! How could it BE any better?
By the end of the evening, you returned home thoroughly winded – mostly from breathing in your own carbon dioxide – infused with the smell of plastic – from wearing your mask for hours. But, who needs oxygen when you have this much CANDY?
So. Much. Candy. And evil-free fun.
You didn’t get treats every day, which made the veritable sugar buffet even sweeter.
I’m not a fan of Halloween now, because it’s a different world and there is so much wickedness on the daily. Back then, when I was seven, the only dark thing about Halloween in my young life was the Mounds bar in my orange, plastic pumpkin.