I Know Shame Well

I know shame well. It held my hand and comforted me for years. It kept its arm around my shoulder whispering its daunting and controlling words of shameful self-doubt. I listened hard to shame, afraid to stand up to it, fearful of its wrath. I sought freedom from its grip only to find myself weighted down by a ball and chain, heavy in weight, unable to move, unable to escape its tightly woven links.
I danced with shame as I dated boys and let them touch me in places that were too soon to be touched. I let their fingers shamefully search my womanhood, though I was still not much more than a girl – I wanted them to like me, to approve of me; instead I shamed away as they laughed and gossiped to each other of how big my tits were, how well endowed I was for an almost twelve-year-old girl. I thought they wanted me, the me who feels and cares and cries and hurts and laughs, but they wanted the shell of me, the external, the flesh – just like he, my father did. How I felt was irrelevant to him, myself was invisible. It was my flesh he sought and in doing so he controlled all that I felt, my every move, as I learned to barter sexual acts for my freedom, a blow job so my friend could spend the night; my friends presence a shield from his nightly visits to my room. I learned to barter for my friendships and learned the shame of a blow job in the kitchen while my friends waited on a cup of tea in the living room. I learned how to look shameless when shame riddled my body and how to hide shame in the core of my soul.
We were friends, good friends, shame and I, for many years, all through my teens and into my late twenties, until a random phone call prompted a long hoped for conversation – an apology, ownership of his wrongful acts. I was brave enough to speak my truth, to show my pain, to ask the simple question, “why?” and with his response of, “I’m sorry, I was the adult.” came my unexpected divorce from shame. It wasn’t dirty, or difficult, it was clean and easy. I took my freedom from shame with a deep sense of pride. I fought for my freedom, I suffered for my freedom and I thank my dear departed father for taking my shame with him to his grave.

Time Waits For NoOne ….

I want to stop time! Life is too fast. Years are rolling by so much faster than I care to embrace. There is no time to feel, to heal, to reflect, to ponder, to regret, to abhor, to adore. Time is intangible. I can’t grasp it, or twist it, or taste it. Instead, I let go, I give up, I surrender that life is passing me by, that time has left me behind, that I will never catch up or catch a breath, or sit and listen to the birds singing or the waves crashing, or a thunder rolling and lightning flashing, rather I catch glimpses of a far away feeling, a memory just out of reach, a love I used to know, a pet I called my friend. I gather sadness as though I am picking daisies in a field, I chase rainbows only to find at the end there is no pot of gold, I follow paths that lead to nowhere and search for a stop watch so I can stare as the hands pass by the numbers, all the while ticking and taking away time.

Why I Step Over Ants ….

I was probably 6 or 7 when I first rescued a living thing. It was a fly. My brother John and I were walking to school and as we passed by the small grass lot at the bottom of our street, there on the ground was a fly, wobbling, falling and struggling to fly (no pun intended.) One of its wings was missing. I remember the feeling of sadness that washed over me and the strong urge to help and to save. I could make it better and I could save it, I just knew I could. Out on the road was a matchbox. I picked it up and looked inside to find several used matches. I threw all but one of them on the ground so I could use it to poke holes in the matchbox which would allow the fly to breathe. I gathered some grass, half-filling the matchbox and gently picked the fly up from the pavement and placed him in the matchbox. I placed the matchbox up under some grass wanting to keep it safely hidden until I could check on him when we got out of school later that afternoon. For now the fly was safe and he was warm and he could breathe. When the home time bell rang at school I couldn’t wait to get to our street. I ran all the way down St. George’s Road, my heart happy, the sun beating down on my face, my hair falling about my shoulders, the joy of knowing I had saved the little fly, but I didn’t … when I opened the matchbox he was dead, and I cried. I held him in my hand and cried, telling him I was sorry that he died. I don’t know what I thought would happen to him in that matchbox, maybe a new wing would grow, maybe Jesus could heal him, maybe love could have saved him … but it didn’t and Jesus didn’t and I didn’t. What did happen though was that I became aware of all creatures great and small , I became aware that everything that lives has a place in my heart, that all living things are equal and they are subject to suffering and struggling, just like the fly without its wing. It’s why I don’t eat animals, it’s why I don’t kill insects and it’s why I step over ants …

She Saw “ME” and melted my defenses ….

When I’m afraid I typically appear that I am angry. Not so much now, but certainly up until my early 40’s. I can’t say I fully understand how that translates from my childhood, but it’s a coping mechanism that I was first busted on by a late and precious girlfriend I had.
I hadn’t been in America too terribly long, I don’t even fully recall what the event was that triggered my fear, my sense of security felt threatened, and she was there with me when it happened. I started speaking out loud, protesting and arguing against whatever the incident was. I remember my heart was pounding and I was fearful of being able to stay in America. My mind was racing and in turn my body responded by getting busy. I went into the kitchen and started washing the dishes. I was talking incessantly (always an outward sign that I am feeling fear) and she came up behind me and put her arms around me and rested her head on my shoulder. At first it irritated me; I wanted to push her away. I felt my insides squirming, wanting to wrestle away from the warmth of her comforting arms. My eyes stayed focused on the soapy bubbles in the sink, I was physically uncomfortable. I felt restrained, not so much by her arms, but more her tenderness. What was I to do with gentleness? How do I embrace such a stranger to my soul? Why isn’t she responding to me with angry words and demands to calm down? Rather she started to cry and asked, “what are you so afraid of?” Those were the first words in so many years that were able to penetrate my solid steel defenses. She saw “ME.” She wasn’t afraid of, or turned off by my apparent anger, rather she moved herself toward me with tender arms and soft-spoken words. I clearly and emotionally recall how that felt to my twenty-something year old self. I remember how my body came to rest, how my heart stopped pounding, how my chest eased from its tightened stance. I felt “seen” and I started to cry. The relief was immense, the freedom to drop my guard and to feel safe with a human being was unrecognizable to me, I’m still unable to articulate those feelings and a place inside me still longs for how that felt.

Repeating myself …. sort of …. allowing for comments

A friend asked today, “do you have a blog?” I responded that I didn’t and she encouraged me to start one…

Today’s conversation was food for my soul. It wasn’t deep and heavy, it was rich and real! It was a two-step, two-person kind of conversation; both people offering and sharing with an openness on both parts. I crave that and sadly my regular daily life doesn’t afford me that luxury, so maybe I can create it here…

So why Faces On The Wall? Well, while most kids I knew were out playing football, jumping skipping ropes, playing elastics, hide-and-seek, tag-your-it, wrapped up in the joy and laughter of their sweet youthful innocence, free, simple and unknowing; I was hanging over the top of the cellar steps, being penetrated from behind by my father, facing darkness, inhaling the damp aroma of a white-washed coal cellar, the black coals before me, but black cannot be seen in the dark.
Sometimes it would happen when my friends were in the living room, my dad and I in the kitchen (behind a closed-door) under the guise of making them a cup of tea. Behind the closed-door, I would be guided to the top step of the cellar steps, the light always kept off, he would slather his dick with Vaseline, pull my pants down or my skirt up, and force himself into me, his hanky in his hand to catch his sperm. It took all of two or three minutes. He had it down to an art. I on the other hand was numb. No words were ever spoken, just a finger to his lips, signaling me to be quiet. We’d finish making the tea for my friends and walk back into the living room like nothing had happened. Was he ever afraid that he would be caught? Was the thrill of being caught a thrill for him? Did my friends ever wonder why we closed the kitchen door just to make tea? Did they believe him when he said, ‘we’ll close the door to keep the draught out?” Did they ever see the shame in my eyes? The split that took place – being fucked by my father on the cellar steps – walking back into the living room like nothing had happened. How did I hide that? How could no-one see me? I am still the same today, unseen and un-showing!

First time blogging …

As a novice I’m floundering here in the dark … kind of the same darkness when I hung over the cellar steps. I don’t like to be caught off-guard, just as I don’t like not to understand, even a small thing like this blog page; not understanding it causes anxiety. I have little patience for myself and oftentimes too much patience for others. Its how we are sometimes, those of us who endure unimaginable things. We are tolerant of things that we shouldn’t be, and intolerant of things that we should be. Ambivalence runs rampant at times!