1.142 – Away We Go

Tomorrow will be my first time ever visiting Disney World. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m antsy. I am many things. I look forward to feeling like a kid again. I look forward to seeing my son laugh and have a level of joy I have yet to gift him with.

But this trip means more to me than dressed up characters and amusement park smiles. If you told me, one year ago, that I would be taking this trip with my sister and her family…I would have told you that you were full of shit.

My family has always been broken. Someone is always not talking to someone else. The words “you’re dead to me,” fly around like a normal family’s “hello.”  I can’t count the number of times I was disowned in my adolescence. Hell, it still happens now. It’s as easy as saying “go ahead and block me,” on Facebook. Because, apparently, social media determines whether you act like you give a fuck about your family or not.

But this isn’t about the dark shadows. THIS is about something much more important. You can always talk about what you don’t have or you can treasure what you do. And what I have is a family vacation. A family bonding time. Children unified because their parents could get over their shit. Because everyone can look back and say, “I did fuck up and I’m sorry.”

When I was a kid, my mother was accused (and rightfully so) of stealing something from my dead uncles casket at his wake. That was the final straw and she was banished. Her siblings and her own mother detested her. In turn, my sister and I lost just about lost all contact with our family. Uncles and aunts vanished from our lives…not that we were ever close but fuck if we didn’t become nonexistent. Years passed without hearing a word about our cousins, babies born or any happenings of these people that were supposed to be family.

I blame my mother for this. I equally blame the adults who chose to give a fuck less about children who did nothing wrong. You don’t have to think I’m a great person…you don’t have to like a damned thing about me but at the end of the day; I was a child and those people gave up on getting to know me, being an influence or showing an inkling of humanity. For that I say: FUCK YOU AND THE EXCUSES YOU LIVE ON.

I swore I would not be like those people. But I was. I harbored pure hatred for my own blood. I swore I would never forgive for the pain I felt.

And then my father died.

I will protect my son from every source of pain, anguish, and unnecessary stress. That includes me. There is no reason to burden my child, no reason to stifle him, punish him, or deprive him because of mistakes made decades ago. And for that…in knowing that no day is guaranteed and I may never get the chance to be forgiven for all of the wrong I’ve done…I opened my heart to the possibility of things being okay. Of breaking the cycle. Of refusing to be like them.

I’m going to Disney World tomorrow. I’m going to share experiences with my family. I’m going to make memories. I’m going to see my son bond with his cousins and laugh the greatest of laughs. That is worth hours of self-reflection and compromise. Of hashing things out and admitting to mistakes. That is worth every damn tear I have ever shed. He is worth it.

Thank you Dad…for showing me what’s really important. For giving me back my sister. For giving my son family. For all of your love. I will do my part to keep this bond strong and return the favor.

And now…I’m off to my vacation. SEE YOU IN A WEEK!!!!

Much love, readers. To each and every one of you.

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1.137 – Invisible

When I was seventeen, my mother figured out that I was living with an eating disorder. I don’t say suffering, I don’t say struggling, I don’t say battling. I was living with it. I ate. I threw up. I hovered over the fridge at 3am and engulfed everything in sight only to vomit it in a toilet five minutes later. I’d gotten so good at it, I evolved from using my fingers to just thinking about it.

“Vomit, damn it.”

BOOM.

It was that simple. But I was discreet. Yeah, I’ve always been skinny but at that time, I was convinced I’d only stay that way if I kept my body as empty as my heart felt.

But she figured it out. She sat me down in her poor attempt at being a mother and asked “why are you doing this? What do you want from me?”

I never threw up with my mother in mind. I never thought, “this chicken thigh is for you, ma!” I threw up because it felt good. I threw up because I could control something. I threw up because I’d failed at trying to be a cutter so I needed something that was mine. I threw up because I didn’t feel so dirty. I threw up because I was convinced someone would love me if I was tiny. I threw up because  I didn’t have any other great attributes. I threw up because it felt good to flush away garbage and not have to carry it for years on end. I told myself I didn’t do it for her. I didn’t do it because I hated life, the world, myself.

“I just want you to see me,” I replied.

FUCK ME RUNNING…IT WAS ABOUT HER!!!!

WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just wanted her to see me. To acknowledge me. To say I was wanted. To say I was loved. To admit she messed up but she did care. To show one ounce of loving me more than she loved herself. To show some sense of pride in having had me. I wanted her to see me…as something good. She never did.

The story of my mother is a book all on it’s own. One I could not write because it’s one I couldn’t ever reread…relive. Not just for me. For my sisters. For my nieces. For my nephews. For my son. I cannot relive it all. Because poison kills. I made it threw once…just barely. I wouldn’t take my chances with a second go-around.

I haven’t forced myself to throw up in years. I think about it. Sometimes, I know this sounds stupid as all hell, I miss it. But I haven’t. Because I don’t care anymore.

Quite frankly, sometimes, I’d be happier if no one saw me at all.

1.129 – A Million Petals

“Someone gave you flowers”

When I was in middle school, I had a really grouchy music teacher named Ms. Diaz. This woman scared the ever living piss out of me and everyone else I knew. But she loved what she did. And that was making us sing and dance like friggen smiley puppets. For our first performance, we had to sing some god awful song that I can’t even remember. But that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that my parents didn’t show up. Yeah, that sucked.

The second performance of the year was the holiday set, which I was unbelievably excited for. My father was a self-proclaimed JewBan (Jewish and Cuban) and I was thrilled to have learned “This is Hanukkah.” The curtain went up and I was ready. We sang several holiday songs and I could see my mother and my father sitting toward the back. We’d just finished a set and the Hanukkah song was next. And that’s when my mother stood up, whacked my father on the shoulder and made her way out of the auditorium. Trying not to cry, I watched my father follow my mother out of the crowded venue. “It’s not really my thing,” she’d explained later. My father apologized when she was out of earshot. Yeah, that sucked too.

My mother and I fought the morning of my senior graduation. She’d called my father some awful names and I came to his defense. She slipped into the typical martyr act and hooped and hollered about how I showed her no love or respect…how I only regarded my father as if he were a saint. We went to my graduation and I left my parents in the car. The music played and I made my way to my seat. I got in line to receive my diploma and noticed that my father sat alone. My mothers seat was empty. When I got onstage, I looked around the gymnasium…only to notice my mother standing by the back entrance for a second. And then she walked away. Right before my name was called. Yeah, that sucked.

When I was in college, I was elated to get the role of Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. I invited my mother. Why, I still don’t know. She called with 20 minutes to showtime saying she couldn’t make it because she was in the hospital after suffering a stroke. “Well, you sound fine,” I’d said. “Well, I don’t feel fine.” The show must go on. And it did. After the show, I called my mothers friend…to check in on her progress. “What do you mean hospital? I just got off the phone with her…um…she’s been at her boyfriends.” By the way, opening night was my birthday. Yeah, that blowed.

What the hell does any of this have to do with flowers?

Nothing.

And everything.

Before he passed away, my best friend used to listen to me talk…allowed me the chance to vent and babble on about these types of moments in my life. He listened until there was nothing left to say. And then, he’d say the same thing: “Here’s a flower.” It was an imaginary flower…a figurative flower.

The first time, I asked what the hell was I supposed to do with a pretend flower and I am trying to tell you why I am upset and you are not being a very good friend right now you butthead.

I’m giving you a flower, he said, because you cannot see the beauty in the world. You are too fixated on picking apart everything until all you see if something of uselessness…of ugliness. Even in the bad, there is good. I’m giving you this flower so you can pick at it to your hearts content…and then you can let it go.

He gave me a field of flowers.

But he was right. In every performance, I got to perform…despite seats being empty. In graduating, I reached a goal so many in my family did not. In theater, I got to play a part I respected and worked hard to get. I did not see the beauty and wonder of each moment because I allowed myself to tear it apart and fixate solely on the negative of it all.

Very shortly before he died, my BFF said something that sticks with me even now. “I hope there comes a time when I never have to give you a flower again. Not because I don’t want to but because you will have no reason to pick any petals away.”

A time when I can just admire the beauty and find no reason to dwell on the bad. Sadly, I think I live in that field…continuously dwelling, worrying that something terrible is just around the corner. Because things don’t go well…can’t go well for people like me.

Despite a lifetime of being a Nervous Nelly…I hope there comes a day when I can walk in my field of flowers…and just enjoy the view.

Prompt taken from A Creative Writers Kit by Judy Reeves

1.123 – The Letter

To my beautiful baby girl….. On Feb-16-1984 I gave birth to you in an unconventional manner. First you came into this world too soon and too little, weighing only 6 pounds and 1 ounce. At 6am in the morning, after they made the incision in my stomach, I didn’t care I just wanted to look at you and hold you. But I only had a glimpse and I kissed your head. You stared at me and I felt small. It didn’t matter that you weren’t a boy at all only that you were so small. My love for you knew no height. My guilt was even greater. Why did it happen? How did it happen? When you were inside of me I loved you, I didn’t take good care and that was wrong but no amount of self indignation can ease this pain. The next day I went to see you and I knew fear. And I prayed. God please…don’t punish me this way…its not her fault she’s so tiny, It’s mine. Tears wouldn’t make it better but every time I see you they just come out. It hurts because you’re so special. I dont want to lose you. I’m so afraid I wish that I could take your place and let me go through the agonies that you are going through now.  I need to hold you very very bad. I need to kiss your tiny body, to hug you tight. I want to give you my life, every ounce of breath. Please….fight because if anything happens to you, some part of me will die. Please….understand that I love all of my daughters the same but you U love all the more. And every time I visit you without ….incubator and see you all I have put you through I want to break every damn thing around me. And those needle marks do not help to make mother better. Love, today I visited you and saw that you had gained a tiny portion of weight but you were under that infernal light and I still had no pride because I shouldnt have allowed for you to be brought into this world so easily in time and with so little defenses.  …..you’re my last child. The baby of the lot and I don’t care that you’re my fourth girl only that you’re health improves and you come home but until you are really stable, I will have to be able to leave this pain and need to hold you. 

This is the first page of a four page letter my mother wrote to me after I was born. It is a letter that I have kept for 28 years. It is a letter I can’t force myself to throw away. It is the letter that tortures me. Angers me. Saddens me. For so many years, I couldn’t figure out why my mother had so much guilt. What had she done to be so remorseful for? It took many years and many conversations to figure out. Someone recently said it was hard to believe that I had avoided a drug infested life because of the odds against me. This is true. I was a junkie before I understood what walking was. My mother brought me into this world dependent on her drugs and alcohol. Her addictions forced my out of the womb, into a world that wasn’t ready for me. And a world, based on my many months in the hospital, that I wasn’t ready to be apart of. For so many years, I thought I should have been a boy. I needed to hold on to as many masculine attributes as possible. Because thats what everyone really wanted…what everyone really would have loved. It’s okay you weren’t a boy…doth thou protest too much. This letter saddened me for a really long time…how could this apologetic woman never really love me? Forsake me for any man that looked her way? Ignore the mental/physical/emotional anguish I was battling? Inflict so many scars? But now this letter just angers me. I am not a perfect mother. But I will not knowingly inflict pain upon my light and then say my bad. If my son says someone touched him – I will believe him. If my son needs me – I will be there. I will love my son unconditionally without trying to live his life. I will not inject my son with poison. Period. This letter gets me all fucked up. But I hold onto it as a reminder. Of what not to be. A reminder of why I fight every single day. A reminder of my goals, my duties, my privileges. Some days, I question whether my son was blessed or cursed with having me as his mother. But this letter pushes me to be the best damned mother I can be. That was the best mother she could be. Was it good? No. Was it right? No. Did it hurt? Yes. Does it still hurt? Of course. Am I a fucked up 28 year old because I have mommy issues? Probably. Will my love for my son surpass my hatred for those who abandoned me? Ya damn right it will. I wasn’t planned. I wasn’t wanted. I may not be wanted now. I’m okay with that. Because this life aint about me. Never was. Never will be. This life…this one is for my boy.

1.116 – Never Grow Up

He will be a mess

playing with his food

pretending it’s a volcano of peas and carrots

He will thrust himself to the floor

because not getting a toy

really IS the end of the world

in his eyes.

He will say no

and mean it

despite your inability

to realize he has

an opinion.

He will yank off his clothes

and profess his undying love

for nudity.

He will ask for the coolest

most expensive clothes/shoes/technology/toys/fill in the blank here

and hate me

when I say no.

He will laugh at inappropriate times

and touch EVERYTHING in sight

because his palms have eyeballs

that only he can see.

He will be the ruler of a far off kingdom no one knows about

the slayer of dragons and a makeup artist

trying on my makeup and shoes without any thought

of orientation and those labels of gender the world

is obsessed with.

He will have an imaginary friend

that knows all of his secrets

his hopes and dreams

that which I will struggle to keep up with

through the years.

He will wiggle and jiggle and roll and tumble

climb and crawl and run and dance

and sing when silence and stillness is in order.

He will color on the walls

and call it art

break the most expensive thing in the house

and blame the dog

we dont have.

He will fib

because he’s scared of diappointment

make up stories

and call it truth.

He will stay up way too late

wake up way too early

take up way too much of the bed

and piss it twenty minutes before the alarm is supposed to go off.

He is accident prone

needy

hyper

confusing

grumpy

and all sorts of exhausting.

He is lovable

brilliant

pure

imaginative

expressive

perfection.

He is the magnificence of childhood.

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1.111 – Did You See Her?

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Did you hear her tears as she wept Did you see her? Did you feel the pain in her heart Did you know her? This is general and this is specific. This is for every man and for no man at … Continue reading

1.88 – No More Casualties

Dear Hunter,

I knew, when I carried you in my belly, that this life would be a hard one for you to live. It’s becoming harder and harder for people much younger and younger. Today, mommy read something about a young girl who ended her life because people were mean to her and she felt alone. Which is why I’m writing this letter to you, one of the hundreds I will write over the years.

That young lady took her life, in mommy’s opinion, for many reasons. People were not nice to her. She felt alone. Her parents missed the mark. I know I will mess up as a mother. I will fail you and in turn, you will make mistakes I should have prepared you better for. But I’m going to try my hardest to make those failures as few and far in between as humanly possible.

Baloo Bear, you’re not always going to like me. I’m not going to play the part of one of your “buddies.” It is my honor, duty and privilege to be your mother, your soldier, your advocate, your confidant. After all of that, I am your friend. But never before and never in its place. I cannot and will not give you everything you want.

I will do my best to teach you how to defend yourself with your words and physically, because sometimes, you might have to defend yourself against the ugliness of peoples hearts. I will do my best to teach you to be kind to others, to base your reactions on actions versus assumptions. I will do my best to teach you that you are loved no matter if you are straight, gay, artistic, non-artistic, soft spoken or loud as all hell. I will do my best to give you what is lacking in this world right now.

I will push you to be your best. I will be nosy. I will ask you where you are going and with whom. I will probably drive by to check. I will not let you have a computer in your room. You will not have a cell phone unless you can foot the bill. You will buy your first car which will probably be a piece of shit. And you will value it that much more because you will have earned it. I will remove your door if need be. I will not get you the newest whatever when you already have things JUST BECAUSE your friends got the new junk. I will encourage you to be yourself despite the crowd. I will nurture your passions to the best of my ability.

I will remember that I was a kid once. That I was self-conscious of my apparent poverty, of my looks, my thoughts, my feelings. I will remember that I wanted my independence but I also wanted to know my parents cared. I will remember that I thought I knew it all at a very early age. I was wrong about a lot. But I still believed. And it took lessons learned to show me otherwise.

I will live my life and let you live yours, under my guidance and helping hand. I will let you stand alone to be the best damn man you can possibly be.

I will emphasize education, articulation, respect for yourself, for women, for elders, for animals, for this earth, for children. I will teach you that respect 9 times out of 10 MUST be earned. I will emphasize that you only get ONE life.

I love you, Hunter Daniel, to no end. I will fight the good fight for you, beside you. You will resent me, hate me, call me mean and evil. I hope, someday, you know – I will do what I can to give you something better. I don’t need you to think I’m cool. I need you to respect me. To appreciate the message I hope to spread.

I will lay down my life for you, if thats what it takes.

I will not, and I repeat, will not bury you.

Love, Mommy.

This letter is for my son. This letter is for every child I have never met. It takes a village to raise a child. Our village, this country, is failing as our children become bullies and victims. We fight terrorism around the world. Our neglect as parents is the true terrorism. I fight for the end of the casualties. 

1.79 – I Am Angry

Papa Bear,

It’s been five months since you left. I think about you every day. I have so many mixed emotions. Just when I think I’m through the grief; it comes back to me. it tackles me like a beast. There are times when things feel so hard, life feels hopeless and I wish I could call you. I wish I could hear your voice. I wish I knew you were with me. But I now have more doubt than I ever had about what lay on the other side.

If anyone could reach out to me, break the barriers and show me that something else exists…it would have been you. But I don’t feel your presence, Dad. You are gone. And that kills me. I don’t believe people when they say they “feel” their family members, spirits, ghosts, whatever. Why would something reach out to them and you don’t reach out to me? Where are you? why the hell did you leave? I want to believe that you watch over me. But now I doubt that. That kills me. I am angry. 

When things are good, you are not here to share in the joy with me. When my son does something wonderful, you don’t see it. You don’t hug him. You don’t hold him. You don’t tell him you love him. That kills me. You left us and I’m mad at you for that. 

I know I shouldn’t need you. I’m an adult. I should be fine. But I’m not. You broke your promise. You promised you would never leave me the way they did. You would never abandon me. But you did. 

I had to walk into the house you died in. I had to walk down that hall. I had to walk into your room. I had to see your empty chair. I had to see your empty bed. I had to hold the clothes you died in. I had to carry you in a box on a fucking airplane. You are a box. A wooden box.That kills me.  And I’m angry. 

Christmas is in two days. I won’t call you. I won’t send you a card. I won’t get the one present I want. I will watch the ball drop on New Years and for the first time, you wont call. I will visit home in February…and you wont be there. I am angry. 

I work so I don’t think about this. I write so I don’t think about this. I read so I don’t think about this. I wont drink because I know I will go off the deep end. And I want to know when this will end, Dad. When is the pain over? You will never answer me. And I am angry.

I know I didn’t get my shit together in time, Dad. I wanted you to come live with me but you couldn’t. Didn’t want to. I didn’t have the comfortable life you got used to. I’m sorry I failed. I’m sorry I didn’t progress quick enough. That kills me. 

I would ask you to watch over me, to help me make it to the next level, to succeed. I know that’s pointless. I am many things. But now that you’re gone…I have no parents. I am a 27 year old orphan. I am no longer a daughter. I am angry. 

I will keep the mask on, Dad. I will try to figure this out. I will struggle to be better. I will fight to give more to my son. I will promise to never leave him the way you left me. And I will fail. That kills me. And I am angry. 

1.77 – My Dad Was Santa Claus

Once upon a time there was a pig named Humphrey. I ate him. The end.

I’m about as likely to tell my son this story as I am to tell him about Santa. You might think me a cruel mother. I’m not. I’m just one that thinks a lot about these types of things…the lessons I’m going to teach my son.

We teach our kids not to take candy from strangers. Then we take them trick-or-treating in which they knock on strangers doors and…take candy.

We teach our kids to dial 911 in case of an emergency but encourage them to sleep tight on Christmas Eve while a pudgy man slides down the chimney to walk about their house.

We teach our kids to not be gluttonous, to eat healthy, to never waste since their are starving children…everywhere and yet we cook abundantly for Thanksgiving only to throw away enough food to feed a nation.

We give our kids money for their teeth but what about all of the meth-addicts who lose their teeth? They are just misguided children trying to get some dough.

We stuff our kids with chocolate and make them search for eggs scattered about by a massive bunny for Easter. RABBITS DONT LAY EGGS! Where the hell is the Easter bunny getting these things from?

I’m the first to encourage a vivid imagination. It flows through the very core of my being to be imaginative. However, I don’t ever recall a time in which I believed in Santa. Santa was a story. A fun story. A story many people believed in. But one I always knew was just that: a story. Maybe its because I grew up on Gun Hill and Hull in the Bronx. There was no way you were ever going to convince me that a chubby white man climbed into peoples houses to deliver gifts and lived past apartment number 2. Not on my block.

To be honest, I don’t think I missed out. I don’t regret knowing that my dad busted his ass to get us all that he could. I don’t regret knowing that my father went without to make sure we had something to open at midnight. Why give credit to someone who didn’t exist when my father was my Santa? And my Santa delivered gifts year round. He loved me. He wasn’t a stranger. He was a jolly, pot-bellied man with a white beard and white hair. That is not a story. That is truth. A truth I have enjoyed thus far and a truth I will continue to enjoy.

In keeping with tradition, I will tell my son that story while simultaneously being my sons Santa. He can choose to believe in the realm of pure fantasy until his heart says otherwise or he can choose to enjoy the story and appreciate the reality.

1.69 – Expendable

Whenever my son  gets a little too rambunctious for my liking, I tell him the same thing: “Cut it out or I’m going to stick you in a box and send you to China.” Obviously, he has no idea what I’m saying but the ongoing joke always calms me and lets me see that my child is just that – a child.

By the time I was five, I’d lived with my mothers sister, my mothers youngest brother,  a couple named Laura and Barry and a woman named Evelyn. My mother left me behind, taking my older sister with her. I don’t know where they were through the years, but I’m sure my sister didn’t have good times. I’ll never know what she saw and went through…I don’t admire her predicament.

When I was 13, I left my mothers house and moved in with family friends. My mother decided to join me upstate, along with my father. When I was 15, my mother vanished. Well, she didn’t exactly vanish but that is a story meant for another post. My father wasn’t doing well health wise, so we moved back to the city. He moved in with one sister and I moved in with another. The sister I lived with got evicted. I moved in with my friend Christina, her mother and brother.

I’ve slept on many couches. I’ve stayed out way too late because I didn’t actually have anywhere to go. I’ve been left behind. I’ve been sent away.

I’ve got mixed emotions about this. Has it always left me with a sense of not belonging? Yes. Have I met amazing people along the way? Yep. Do I struggle with feeling thrown away… expendable? Yes. Do I know that the road I traveled brought me to my son? Yes. Do I regret that? Not one bit.

When my son gets to be a handful, I tell him I’m going to stick him in a box and send him to China. He acts like I’m saying nothing. As he should. Because I’ll never send him away. He will not move around the way I did. He will not wonder whether I love him or not. He will not question why I left him behind. I will not be sending my son away to China nor will I send him to wait for love on anyone’s doorstep.