Part I – The truth
I’ve seen abject poverty, absurd wealth – caste systems – been tugged at by hungry, filthy, beautiful children in India “Baksheesh!”. My white skin and light hair touched uninvited, brave small hands reaching out to make tangible the encounter.
I’ve climbed onto a wing of a plane and let go.
Lain on a table as a life ended.
Pushed life into the world while apologizing to a room I had screamed for hours in prior.
I’ve loved and lost.
Hated and forgiven.
Held onto innocence as long as I could, the only ways I knew how.
Delved into debauchery to test my limits and punch out at the world.
I am educated – and so ignorant.
I thirst for truth and seek it. Hunger for good and dissect things until I find it.
(Dissection … a quick tangent here.
It occurs to me that when people tell me to ‘let it go!’ or ‘Just get over it’ the simple fact is that they just don’t want to hear about a current problem or hurt.
For me, I must dissect. So that when I let go, I let go of all of the parts.
It takes me longer, but in the end I’m rid of, and understand ‘the thing’.)
I ache at injustice.
I have a bad habit of flight in lieu of fight.
I need solitude to really be me – and in that solitude I ache for a partner. One I can miss.
I’ve been a good mother, an awful mother. A good friend and an awful friend. A good daughter and an awful daughter.
I’ve self medicated, self mutilated and despised myself.
Lashed out – fed my pain with my own cold served dishes.
I hit my knees nightly saying ‘thank you’ to a God I don’t believe in.
Spiritual me, with hands clasped – and God forbid I forget, perhaps in a state of fatigue. My OCD pulls me from bed and I snap out a prayer – offer up sincere thanks and what I mean to be true – then sabotage my blessings almost daily.
I don’t reciprocate the love of my friends demonstrably.
She who used to gift everyone to be in their favor, won’t leave her home anymore to visit the important, unwavering people in her life. And they still love me.
I hole up in my nest. Only really feeling safe when I don’t have to make eye contact, or be funny or upbeat. Where I’m not too thin, not too deep. Where I’m gloriously, unapologetically me!
I go deeper into myself. Talking to myself.
Not eloquently – but my thoughts are. I open my mouth in public and hear myself trying to fit in and failing.
I see patterns in my behavior, faces in my food – beauty in the reprehesible and ugliness in Saints.
I see truth.
Part II – Deeper truth
I watch the news and cringe at the biased reporting.
I read quotes slapped up on pages and various social media ‘walls’.
I sneer at the generic, pedestrian sentiments of the ‘Hang in there’ cat poster variety.
“Come on! Catch up! I’m past that life stage!”
Then end up feeling sanctimonious and rethinking everything I think I know again.
I want to say “You! You there! With the prefabricated opinion – have you looked into that? Do you even know if it’s attributed to the correct author? This original opinion that you found on the internet?”
“Have you weighed both sides through careful and passionate research?”
But I don’t.
Because then I’m told I think too much.
But should I ever be asked the same question, I hope my answer can always be an authentic ‘yes’.
I’ve written some terrible posts lately – just typed out for the sake of posting something. I’ve been so uninspired.
Then I watched Nymphomaniac Volumes I & II last night and today.
Lars von Trier inspires me.
(The photos above are stolen screen shots from his movie Antichrist)
Lars von Trier pulls me deeper.
He puts no decorations on his points. It’s raw.
I don’t have to pretend to ‘get’ him. Pipe in the corner of my mouth, leather elbowed jacket – discussing the 100 things his movie could mean. No. None of that.
His cinematography is breathtaking and writing succinct.
I used to love Poe. I think because of the depressive complex nature of his topics. I was young. And full of angst. I think I also pretended to understand him.
I never understood Shakespeare. Okay, some of it. But then I’d get snagged on a sentence – like a blouse on a branch. The more I tried to pull free, the more entangled I became – the more the sentence could mean.
This reminds me of the joke about the blue curtains.
In Nymphomaniac, I loved that Joe – while listening to Seligman’s metaphors politely and even contemplating their validity – carried on with what she meant to say.
Nymphomaniac was not erotic for me. I don’t think it is supposed to be. But then – porn does not arouse me.
I have a very unhealthy view of intimacy – the result of a multitude of inappropriate ‘experiences’ I did not choose to be a part of.
The emotionless rutting makes me sad. Especially in this movie – her never-ending quest to be filled. To feel.
Her blank stare as men thrust inside of her on the train.
Carnal, desperate and mechanical.
She tells her life story, unedited, to a man who has taken her in after she has been beaten.
Of all the characters – Seligman the virgin, in my opinion, was the most reprehensible character of all the men.
And not just because he kept interrupting her story while trying to validate her actions in order to feel better about himself …
I vehemently feel disgust for those who misrepresent themselves.
At least the other men did not hide their intentions.
People who hide their intentions frighten me.
I was very happy with the ending to the movie.
When I was little, and someone I loved very much was being hurt – I fantasized about doing the same thing.
It was always the same fantasy – the person would not be taken by surprise.
They would know it was me – look directly into my eyes and know my intention and that I was going to follow through.
Never for me – but for someone I love – I would kill.
I can know that about myself and I feel less guilty for not leaving my house to visit.
I also know I need to offer what I can to those I care for while there is still time.
I know this.
But I also feel I need to improve what I have to offer.
I’m still dissecting.
I still look in the mirror and don’t understand what others see. I do not find myself aesthetically pleasing most of the time – and when I do, I feel prideful and vain.
But the most important things that I see when I look in the mirror I am comfortable with.
I meet my own eyes and see someone who is willing to admit all of her faults.
I see someone who is willing to work on them.
I see someone who I would like – someone I would visit and not expect a visit from in return.
I’d probably also post an arbitrary prefabricated quote on her wall and tell her not to take herself so seriously – that we’re all in different stages of our life’s journey, and hers is just one of many.
Knowing she’d dissect it.
It was windy today.
I leave the front door ajar for Butters so that she can exit and enter when she needs to. It opened and closed with each gust and outdoor furniture slapped and thudded against the porch.
Butters is not brave, but what she lacks in courage she makes up for with volume. Startled barks peppered the morning and when startled turned to alarmed, I would go to the door and check that it was in fact just the wind.
I don’t always assume she’s barking at nothing – and try not to get frustrated at the nine out of ten times that she is.
After all, she’s guarding her territory. And, in turn, us.
No one needs to know she’s all bark and no bite. It’s comforting that she is on duty, albeit, over zealously most of the time.
One such zealous bark had me looking out the front door and that’s when I noticed the man in the road.
He sat past the nearest cross street – his legs out in front of him, in the dirt.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this at first glance. A jogger resting? No.
He looked like he was injured – perhaps wincing. His hand on one leg, his head moving back and forth.
Then I noticed a pattern to his movements and the repetitive motions made it clear he was having some sort of a seizure.
I called out to Nic – to come with me to see what was the matter. Then decided the man needed help quickly – threw my flip-flops on and headed out the door.
I went through my gate, shut it and started toward the man.
As I passed by my neighbor’s house, I noticed that two men were outside working on their cars.
How are they not seeing this?
I continued past them and called out “Are you okay?”
As I got closer – a voice from behind me “Be careful.”
I turned to see one of the men looking toward me.
“He needs help …” I kept moving forward.
“That’s his brother.” The speaker thumbed in the direction of the other man.
Why are they not helping him??
I came closer to the man in the road. Noticed the spittle and drool on his chin, his denim shorts caked in dust, a sheen of sweat on his contorted face.
“Are you alright?”
I saw his eyes – wild and unfocused.
“He’s got mental issues.” A different voice.
“Well, he seems to be having medical ones right now – is he having a seizure? What can I do??”
The first speaker suggested ice water, and both men now had phones in their hands.
I assumed one of the men was my neighbor, but didn’t know which. I really only hear him, when he’s yelling at the children.
I don’t see much of the people living next to me.
Regardless of who was who, it appeared they were calling for help, so I turned to head back to my house for ice water.
I found a cup I didn’t mind not getting back, filled Nic in on what was happening and headed back out the door.
I saw now that the man was no longer in the road and felt a little better.
Until I reached my neighbor’s house and saw what must have been the brother (my neighbor – the puzzle pieces were fitting now) yelling at him.
The man who was no longer in the road, still looked awful. Shaky on his feet and eyes still wild.
I didn’t understand why this was a good time to yell at him.
I held out the water and it was taken. I can’t recall who reached for it, but it ended up in the right hands.
“He needs help, not reprimanding!”
“He has mental problems.”
Again with this!
“Regardless of any mental problems, he clearly needs help!”
“Go back inside your house lady.”
It wasn’t said with any room for debate. My racing heart and hot body suddenly felt chilled. I had been dismissed and I was not to continue questioning or inserting my opinion.
Having had a past with these particular neighbors, and knowing what they’re capable of, I once more headed back to my house.
As I walked away, the man who was in the road said to me “I’m sorry … I’m sorry.”
The walk back was uncomfortable, surreal and daunting.
I felt like a child who had awoken to fighting in the house – seen someone they cared for being hurt, only to be commanded back to bed by the aggressor.
Some time later, Butters started barking again. This time at my back door.
I peered out to see only a hand and the cup I had taken over earlier.
I told Nic to hold Butters and slipped outside.
It was the woman who lives in the house.
The one who yells at her children almost every night:
“GO TO FUCKING SLEEP!!”
The lullaby of dysfunction.
The one who told her children that daddy was trying to kill mommy – and then brought them back in the house.
The one who said she was leaving when she could, and never did.
As time has passed, I notice that she is an instigator in the chaos.
I am not saying she’s ‘asking’ for any of it – I just notice (from my couch, yes, she’s that loud) that she does the majority of the screaming and yelling.
So she’s standing on my back porch with the cup and for some insane reason, explains to me what had happened.
The man in the road had been staying with them for four months while he sobered up.
She explained with feigned ignorance of the topic “He does those rocks, you know, the ones you crush and smoke?”
Just say CRACK woman! I see your teeth, I know you know what it is!
He relapsed apparently and what I thought was a seizure was – but of a drug induced kind.
“We were trying to get him sober.”
“You know you can’t get someone sober? He’s going to have to want that for himself.”
I suggested a local mental health location in our town as a possible resource for her.
The whole time I stood there – holding my cup that now had crack saliva on it – and hating her. Hating her for having that man in an already horrible environment around her children.
“You should be careful – having him around your children.”
Oh God. I said that out loud.
She nodded at me – much like she did when I offered my home as refuge in the past. But I knew she wasn’t really listening to me.
I said I hoped things would be okay – and I meant it. She went down the steps and disappeared.
I tell you this knowing my house is made of glass. I share my anger because I can, I have already been in their shoes.
My past is not perfect.
The difference is, I made a choice to change.
Even after I learned that the man in the road was there due to drugs, I hoped he would find help.
Even after I hear the woman screaming at her children, I tell myself “She’s lashing out at them because she is unhappy and feels powerless.”
Even when I hear her partner being violent in the house, I think “What horror must he have come from to end up so angry?”
Nic and I had to leave the house to visit my parents shortly after the woman left.
I was uncomfortable leaving as there were repercussions the last time I spoke to her.
I decided they wouldn’t try anything in daylight and Butters could be trusted to deter anyone from entering the yard.
(I’ll admit, I fear for her too though. Who knows what they are capable of.)
In the car, we spoke of what happened.
“People like that should be wiped off the planet.”
“Nic, people can change … there’s a reason for their behavior. They were once children perhaps in that same environment. Besides, I’ve done drugs. I drank. And I changed. I chose good. “
I love that he knows this. I love that we can talk about anything. No skeletons in our closets.
“But you always had that in you.”
“Are you saying you think they’re inherently bad? Do you believe there are some people just born evil?”
I hope not.
But I just don’t know.
My favorite quote by W.H. Auden comes to mind once again:
I find myself from time to time almost pleading Earths case to God.
I’ll share with you my nightly prayers. I always say “Thank you.” I always end with “God bless all those in my heart, on my mind and in the world, Amen.”
The meat of my prayers is usually me asking for guidance – praying for strength in areas I’m lacking.
Sometimes I pray for more patience, the increased ability to love – to be tolerant. I pray to know which path I should be taking.
When it’s a particularly sad news day though, when atrocities have been committed and we’re made aware of them – I don my humankind legal defense cap.
As if God doesn’t already know, I plead “God, there is such GOOD in the world too.” As if I’m afraid he’s going to shut the whole event down because of evil.
I have a favorite quote, by W.H. Auden.
“Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table …”
I love that quote. I love how the words feel coming out of my mouth – how the thought provokes – the simple eloquence of it.
And it, for me, is truth.
I watched a documentary this morning called “Hitlers Children.” (If you have Netflix, it’s a streamable selection. )
One particular storyline resonated with me.
It was that of Rainer Hoess – grandson of Rudolf Hoess.
He looked at photographs of his father standing in the garden of the family home on the grounds of Auschwitz. Other photos showed his grandfather in that same back yard.
Later in the documentary, he took a trip to Auschwitz – his first one.
One of the questions he pondered, while staring at a photo of his father standing by the garden gate was, how could they not have known – not have seen?
He was afforded entry into that same garden and stood at that very garden gate. The house was cleverly designed with no views of the crematorium – textured glass windows on the side of the house that might let some truth in.
The garden itself was surrounded by tall walls, offering only a glimpse of outlying buildings.
I wondered what it must have felt like to stand in that location. To know that your lineage included a monster. I didn’t need to wonder for long – when Rainer lost his composure, I did too. I wept on the couch with this man who was riddled with guilt for a crime against humanity that he couldn’t possibly have anything to do with.
During the tour, he agreed to speak to a group. He was nervous – understandably. At one point, a holocaust survivor, from that camp, wanted to shake his hand.
My already wet cheeks were wet anew when this old man took his hand and told him, ‘you didn’t do this.’
They hugged and my heart wanted to burst.
There is good.
There is good everywhere if you look for it – take time to avert your eyes from your problems and worries and choose to see it!
On a personal note, I have a friend, who takes care of not only her grandchildren – but her bed ridden mother and her disabled brother and reached out to ME to offer ME help to send my son to England! She is the epitome of selflessness to me.
She smiles and though she gets tired, she’s happy and grateful and is of service to others.
GOD! There is SUCH good.
I’ll be praying tonight to be a part of that good.
In the news was a story about a missing 10-year-old girl. The news now tells us that a seventeen year old boy has been arrested in connection to the abduction and murder of that little girl.
The teens mother called the police and he turned himself in. I know in my head and my soul that was the right thing for her to do, but for the life of me – can not imagine or begin to fathom her pain!
It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes by W.H. Auden
“Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table”.
I then think of the definition of evil. Profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, esp. when regarded as a supernatural force.
Are people who commit murder evil? Or are they ill? I’m not talking about self-defense, I’m talking about taking someones life intentionally for no apparent justifiable reason.
Each one of us is capable of murder. But we’re wired to NOT.
So what is happening when there’s nothing in your head, heart or soul that shouts “NO!” And what must it be like to go through life that way?
I’m not excusing, justifying or siding with murderers, please don’t get me wrong!
But I struggle with this. If someone is born without the ability to understand right from wrong, void of the ability to empathize or sympathize and is capable of taking someones life – aren’t they too victims? Wired differently – from birth.
It boggles my mind.
When I’m in public, especially a large chain store – I wonder who just smiled at me, who just brushed past me. I passively interact with hundreds of people, and among them, statistics dictate there MUST be a sampling of child molesters, rapists, murderers … that man who held the door open for me, does he go home and beat his wife?
I drive to work and see children waiting at various bus stops to go to school and wonder which ones didn’t sleep well the night before due to abuse in the house.
Bullies. Well, of course I hated them as a child. But I know now they’re projecting their own pain onto others.
There’s just so much more than meets the eye. Definitely a topic I probably shouldn’t dwell too much on. But I am fascinated by human behavior.
What courage it took for that mother to turn her son in. I don’t know if I could have done that. I think a part of me would be in such denial – my first instinct would probably be to want to grab my ‘baby’ and run! Run away with him and try to make him well!
She did the right thing.
My heart aches for that little 10-year-old girl and her family.
My heart aches for the confessed murders family.
But is it wrong that my heart also aches for that 17-year-old who can never undo the life changing horror he committed?