Quietly Waiting

“But I don’t have any stories that aren’t awful,” I whined.
“Then be quiet and listen,” he said. He promised one day I would have good stories. One day, the life between the shit and the present would have had time to grow, slowly stretching out into my childhood dream of just being free of my cage and doing as I pleased.
The truth is, a lot more shit happened, but not only shit. Some really amazing things happened too. But… I realized, in the midst of accomplishing long standing goals and seeing years’ worth of plans become reality, I never really learned to be happy and some of the shit that still happens is a direct result of my mentality.
This is the phase we’re in. I can tell better stories now. I have experiences aside from the ones that make people’s skin crawl to hear about. There was that time we got sucker punched by the ocean. The time we met that other family that lived in a bus and we got our own sugar gliders. There was the guy in the middle of nowhere Wyoming who gave us a thousand dollars. I realized acid isn’t scary at all and, in fact, my beloved mushrooms are far more sinister. I learned there are girls who hold their liquor far more classlessly than I, and that even a little wine can lead to shattered elbows, or something like that.
But in the midst of living, you have to be able to “sit with your feelings,” as they say, and I still hate that. And past damages and decisions reverberate and, until I learn to deal with old trauma without being traumatized anew, this is cyclical.
How do you learn to live with certain consequences? Certain reverberations. I live right now in a state of mourning the way things are. We’ve reached self loathing, I think. I’m grappling with my brain misfirings and yes, I know, as much as it feels like more acid will make everything just make sense, that’s far from the truth. I’m back on the medication ship with a cbd lifeboat and now what I feared in the beginning is another part of my new reality – not having the pills now is way worse than the pre pill worst. And the bad parenting I so loathe? I’ve done plenty of that.
How do you live with That?? Genetics are a beast too, but hot damn how does one recover in the midst of fucking up a child? In my experience, and my husband’s and pretty much everyone else we know, the adults barrel forward, admitting nothing, until the kid in question is old enough to be blamed for everything. We’re improving on that method, but every angle of working through parenting fuck ups and plain old, “I’m too insane /depressed/manic/exhausted to parent right now, just eat the Lucky Charms for dinner and wait it out,” is miserable. Spoiler alert, when you’re eighteen and think creating the family you wish you’d had will make your life all better, you’re Wrong. And, if you’re a decent human being in spite of being debilitatingly stupid (or just naive, if we’re being generous), round about your mid twenties you’ll fall onto the rough patch of, “Dear god what have I done?”
Sorry can be a really big word. No one ever really used it at me. It’s one of my only comforts-I am a mother who says she’s sorry. I am a mother who is always honest. It’s the least I can do.
And while I’m stumbling along, trying to figure out what “mental health ” and successful parenting look like, I’m quietly watching for the good stories. They’re waiting in the elephant plants where the kids like to dig, in odd places amidst bus breakdowns like Kaycee, WY, and right now stories are just days away on the Pacific coast or, at the very least, more practice sitting with my feelings is floating on the surf.



I drink my coffee with heavy cream
like she taught me to love,
Every cup the perfect
And the art of the whimsically arranged windowsill
is a novelty I picked up
from her many eclectic homes.
We see sunlight in the same way,
Because of the unique darkness
we weathered,
Something only she
can understand with me.
This darkness is the cause
of our separation
despite being our common ground.
The strings between us
are razor wire;
We can follow them
to one another
but never make it
without bleeding fingers.
Once a sister
now a key
to reassembling a perfect portrait
of misery.

Daily Dose- Bottle

via Daily Prompt: Bottle

I nearly drown
Way back then,
My head held under the surface
of years
of your inability to cope with your own shadows.
You struck fiercely
Out of fury at your own brokenness.
You inflicted the kind of misery
That made eighteen years seem insurmountable ;
Absolutely not worth pushing through
To see what comes when dawn breaks.
For years afterward I would tell myself
What a childish fallacy
That perspective had been.
Life outside your walls was magnificent,
Smooth sailing freedom.
What I couldn’t know,
Recognized too late,
Was that my demons should have been faced immediately,
Not left in boxes in dusty corners of my mind
To grow
Into beasts that fill all corners,
Gaining strength beyond my own,
waiting, until their victory was guaranteed,
To stage their coup.
What I didn’t realize
Was that my demons would not simply pause,
Tamely allowing their vessel control.
They quietly pulled the strings,
Hiding behind all my seemingly innocent desires and motivations
Until it became impossible to ignore any longer –
The Truth
That my younger self bottled up
And clutched tightly
On nights when the end seemed more promising
Than endurance.
She knew
What I wanted to forget.
She knew
That some stains are set deep
In the fabric,
Some stones
Can’t be chipped out of the foundation
And no matter how wide open
The future seems,
Sparkling before me like a crystalline sea,
You tied a stone around my being
That no matter how fiercely I paddle,
How desperately I try to stay afloat,
My soul will be drawn to the ocean floor
As if by magnetic force.
My younger self knew, too,
That survival was an option,
A definite possibility,
But unlike my featherweight counterparts,
I would require significantly more emotional muscle
To perform the same mundane daily tasks.
“Normal ” for me,
Would be a struggle,
A dogged attempt to keep my head above water
Across a never ending sea,
And to give in to exhaustion
Would be the end
Of all I worked so hard to gain.
You see, my younger self had a tangible enemy-
You stared her down with shifting eyes,
Controlled her every move.
Your opposition was obvious.
But your pitiful girl
Grew into a thing that forgot
To fight.
I find myself wondering, was it worth it, after all?
Can I learn to see the unseen forces
Guiding my actions,
Enough to overturn the mutiny,
Like you never could?
Do I know who I am,
Apart from the demons?
Do you wonder the same,
As you stare at the phone,
Knowing it won’t ring,
On a day your daughters have only escape
To celebrate?

… Like a motherless child

The only thing worse

than the death of someone you love

is the complete and utter failure of that person

to fulfill their role in your life

while there’s breath in their lungs.

They’re walking about,

talking to others,

sharing glances and smiles with people

who are not you.

My mother won teacher of the year,

I was told,

and I wonder why it is the children of others

she came through for.

I guess it’s easier to speak up on behalf

of children whose demons are not of your making,

and whom you are paid to tolerate.

I wonder if she thought of me at all,

the child who desperately needs someone to talk to

and is left to call an 800 number and say,

through tears,

“This is the kind of day you call your mother, but mine is dead. ”

It’s easier than explaining that she just doen’t care,

the person who was supposed to love me forever,

like me for always,

as long as she’s living…

I guess dead inside counts too.

Daily Dose: Denial

via Daily Prompt: Denial

My husband closes the full screen window,  starts looking for something else to watch.

“I don’t think anything like that ever would have happened,” I say in reflection. “I mean, he was violent sometimes, yeah, but he was more just pathetic .”

My husband laughs  dryly, without humor. “We just watched, what,  four things, about how pathetic men kill their families. I know you don’t want to admit it, and you’ve distanced yourself from it, but you Were just the same as those women.”


The gaps your mean spirit

and lack of nurture left in me

burned a deep desire across my heart;

I would create the family you couldn’t.

I would build the love you never gave me

What I couldn’t see,

in my flawed child’s logic;

What I couldn’t know,

without creating examples,

was that some holes are not mine to fill.

It was your job

to give me the basic building materials

and you let me down-

all the way down,

raised at rock bottom.

(Aren’t homonyms fun? I could say that you razed me,

rather than bringing me up.)

So there I was,




a partial human, convinced I could do your job for myself,

as sort of an afterthought,

like a brick house

with white aluminum sided additions;

I can tack on all the rooms I want,

but the ones you built will forever be empty.

And then there was this infant,

this glowing orb of soul

coated in the finest layer of flesh

and golden hair.

This ill gotten treasure

I thought I could stuff into the cracks, and it was then that I knew.

The rooms were not empty.

They were full of dark water,

murky with your filth

and floating debris

and this

would make me forever insufficient

at achieving my deepest goal-

I am the masthead of this new family ship

and what a gnarled and awkward interpretation of beauty

am I.

My ability to love

and be loved

is shrouded in your shadows

and though I can work,


burn my heart

to cast light in all the dim spaces,

that darkness will always linger

requiring compensation.

You succeeded.

You win.

Your mission of dominance is complete.

I can never have what I wanted.

There is a tribe,


and beyond my wildest dreams

but what I didn’t know

was how hard I would have to hold the wheel

to correct for your imbalance

and that I can’t,

for one moment,

stop pulling;

likewise I mustn’t over correct,

which is my most frequent mistake, and then

we find ourselves careening towards the shoulder

as I seek again, to find the middle.

I thought there was a time when I would move  past you

as though you never existed.

Now I see the truth

which is:

You will always be here.

I am formed of the same clay as you

and the best I can do

is stoke the smouldering hatred I have for your horrible spirit

that the flames may burn bright

over the lives I seek to protect.

I am better than you

can ever take credit for.

I am not yours.

I live with your failure,

as do you,

but I will not live with your shade.

Daily Dose-Controversy (Not my usual fare)

This is a long and nasty one, not what I strive for, but this topic motivates my lifestyle and my thinking. I would really appreciate it if you could read all the way through and by all means, comment!

I’ve never had a strong opinion on a major subject changed so quickly. There was a woman in my small town of residence at the time who  we’ll call C. H. It was one of those small towns where the interstate became a main drag through down before proceeding at high speed on the other side of town, a mile away. C. H.  lived right off this road with her husband and their three kids. Her two year old was frequently seen playing in the busy road, or grabbed up after  throwing rocks and sticks at cars, and carried back to the house. Everyone in town knew about C. H. Which is why, when she became pregnant with her fourth and fifth babies, twins, and rumors of her continued intoxication  swirled, and then the boys were born at a respective one and one and a half pounds, very little money was dropped into the collection jars placed in stores around town.

I was raised a good little Christian girl. Long straight hair, Mary Janes and panty hose. People frequently asked if my sisters and I were home schooled. Despite being an apple that fell quite far from the withering tree, that little girl will pops out from to time. And it was her who reacted, at work at the gas station, when C. H. came in. She’d just left bingo at the legion and come to buy smokes and lottery tickets with her winnings before proceeding to the hospital.

“Yeahhh, ” she grumbled,” I gotta fuckin drive to town cuz one of the kids died. I had to leave bingo. ”

Tears  pricked the backs of my eyes, but the sweet little Sunday school girl politely handed C. H. her change and mumbled condolences. She left and I ducked into the back room to cry. Little did I know she wasn’t even a unique sort of horrible. Women like her are a dime a dozen.

Maybe a month later, I’m at my other job, and the sweet little child is back to fiercely stand against my coworkers in a debate on abortion. “Poor, innocent babies” is my platform. And then someone says it, the most obvious truth : “So C. H.’s  kids are better off alive ?” It hit me like a ten ton truck. No one engaging in the debate had that smug look of having shut down an opponent. No one was proud to have changed my mind.

And since then how many children have I met whose mothers’ thoughts I can only assume were not fully formed regarding the genesis of the lives in their care. There was baby S. While pregnant her mother was regularly heavily intoxicated. I saw her when she was two months old and her drug addled father forgot her food before being driven way out into the country with her, to a house in a place with no stores open late at night. He asked me to rock her to sleep so she would stop crying. I was a teenager, freshly out of my parents’ house and naively in the wrong place, with the wrong people. I didn’t know who to call and I couldn’t  drive. I laid the baby on my chest and cried with her. The next day I declared a social work major, but my school cut the department, in the middle of a semester no less. I dropped out.

I should have realized it was a bad decision anyway. You know what a whole slew of good social workers have in common? They quit. They go in wanting to help and find themselves overloaded, hands tied with red tape, unable to do the things they came to do. I should know from my own childhood, after having it gently explained to me by one such social worker – there are so many kids who have it worse than I did. The ones on the brink of starvation, or being hurt badly enough to be hospitalized or draw attention from teachers are the children who get tossed into the gamble of foster care and group homes. While people like my father, from his twisted mind to his testicles, rejoice in the freedom to behave as they please, because the powers that be are busy.

There’s R. He’s five now. He still poops in his pants.  When he was two something happened, but no one will ever know what. He started aggressively touching other’s private parts. His suburban grandmother vilifies the other children. “We can’t punish R forever. Just let the others play with him.” His mother stays proudly silent, saying things like, “Yeah, I was waiting for you to talk  to me  about this,” when other parents come to her about what her son did to their kids. She’s lost relationships, been kicked out of homes, R has been kicked out of day cares. R’s mother is not seeking help for him, dragging  him from one place to the next, going from one boyfriend to the next. R has begun hurting and violating animals. He’s gotten smarter with the other kids. Instead of being violent now he calls it “Playing Privates,” and he asks the other kids to go somewhere secret with him so he can see them.

There are a startling number of girls I was friends with in high school who became teen mothers. I know every once in a while, despite everyone’s best efforts, there’s a kid who just won’t live like they were raised, but isn’t it safe to say good parenting could probably cut down the number of teenage parents, maybe even significantly? Instead I see all these girls’ parents thrilled to become thirty five year old grandparents, offering jobs, free lodging and babysitting, even watching the kid/s while mommy goes out daddy shopping and comes back knocked up by someone else. A lot of girls follow the teenage mother m.o., as indicated by the cutesie “look how creative I am” names they give their children (maybe a subject for another post. This is a topic that Really gets me), the cute little outfits and the complete and total lack of effort exerted to do any actual parenting.

One girl in particular from my hometown has three children, two of them born before she was twenty. They may not have matching fathers, but you can tell they’re a set by their cute matching names. All she ever talks about is herself, using relationship after relationship to seek validation without considering the effect it has on the small humans who have no choice but to strap in for the ride. The youngest is four, the oldest not quite nine. They have seen at least four men they knew as “daddy” come, stay for a while and then leave. Her middle child makes me think, in the next ten to twenty years we will see a name for the condition so many children now live in- being the only truly fatherless child in a batch where the others leave for visitation, but they’re always at home with mom and whoever she’s dating now, watching Thomas the Train wondering if anyone will ever come give them a second Christmas, or take you away for a weekend.

I could go on and on and on like this with one horrible example after the other, from the women I met in Washington who talk, in front of their three kids, about the other three they “adopted out,” but here they are, trying again, despite no change for the better in their circumstance, to the quiet little suburbs where “nice men” do meth and don’t talk about being molested as children, until their wife gets so drunk she accidentally brings up how that might be the reason her son demonstrates some odd behaviors. Oh, the Silent Suburbs make me sick. Below the poverty line there’s little to no hope. You’re generations deep in lack of education or opportunity, having grown up from one of these children I’m talking about, into an adult who creates more of the same. But the p.c. white ladies who give their children pills to make them behave and think they’re good people because they have jobs, while their husbands hide out in the basement watching internet porn and dreaming of a time when they thought life was full of possibility, those people I out and out hate. They have a choice. They know better. They could do something.Maybe after this drink, or after Ellen is over.

I want to see change. I want to see people respect themselves and therefore be capable of healthy relationships where they wait until they know what they want and with who to procreate. Creating little human accessories you get bored of once it quits being easy is unacceptable. Ladies, birth control is FREE if you have no money! Do I believe death is better than many of these kids’ lives? You bet I do. The only time anyone wants to talk about “sanctity of life” is during an abortion debate, not throughout a child’s actual life. Does this mean I think abortion is the answer? Fuck no! I think a little forethought is the answer. Just don’t get knocked up, for child’s sake!

I want to see people step up. I want to see people fight for an actual education for their children and stop this, “Don’t make the slowest kid feel bad” crap. I want the standards to quit being lowered and parents to rise to the occasion. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, all the world’s problems could be solved by good parenting. No one can stand in for a parent. I’ve had a long and miserable journey to that realization. Being failed by your parents leaves a permanent gap in your soul and any and every thing can happen as people grapple with and try to make up for that. Lots of people will repeat the very cycles I’m talking about just trying to get the family they never had, so motivated by desperation that they don’t slow down to see they’re creating another layer in the same mess they sought to escape.

Now I’ve been a lot of places, and met a lot of people from all walks of life, and the more well-to-do always seem shocked by my examples, as though this can’t be the majority. I assure you, I have not seen only one side. And, believe it or not, I don’t really like to stir the pot. (Insert catchphrase here: This is why I live in a bus.) I choose to change my reality drastically so as to raise my family as apart from the madness as possible, because I am painfully aware of my limited ability to enact large scale change. But how can you stay silent when THE CHILDREN ARE AT STAKE? Everyone’s future.

I was riding the city bus one day with my children and a man said to me, “You know, if you think about, the way you raise your kids affects the future.” I stared at him for a moment, agape. I said, “If you think about it? The children ARE the future. The way we raise them is EVERYTHING.” Do you know that? Do you realize there is nothing more important than your role as a parent? It seems our culture is moving farther and farther from this realization. Is it because, in this country (U.S.) the state will cradle you in its arms and carry your family, feeding them and paying for the doctor so you don’t have to work as hard? The decision to take on more children then becoming less of a burden for parents to shoulder? Not to mention, multiple fathers will just owe you multiple child support checks. Is there a way to offer help to those who need it without enabling bad, no the Worst, decision making? If you do well for yourself the government will just take a bigger slice of your pie, make you pay for overpriced services and accommodations yourself, making it nearly impossible to survive, leaving you with the choice to strain and fight to climb as close to the top as possible, knowing you can never make it all the way if you weren’t born into it and aren’t willing to fellate the right rich guy, or just give up altogether and live on the wealth of hand outs.

How did we even get here??? Again, this is why I live in a bus. This madness makes me hurt from my head to my heart to the deepest reaches of my soul. And we all know. The humor in family sitcoms now is all about how married people hate each other, kids hate their parents and everyone just wants to get laid. Everything else is about mindlessness and/or fear. We all know what’s happening. It’s right in most of our faces in some way or another but we just don’t deal with it. It’s rude to confront people. It’s painful to confront yourself. It’s hard work to shape up and fly right. We bounce between self loathing and the self perpetuated failure cycle, and telling ourselves to be confident until we’re just brazenly arrogant because we didn’t take the steps to have something to be confident about.

And, though I rant on and on, there’s one more vital bullet point. Child molestation is rampant and I have seen first hand far too many shame faced, tucked away secrets. Secrets that were tucked away by people they did not belong to! Mothers who don’t want to admit their failure. Fathers who would rather blame mothers. A string of boyfriends who can’t find a decent girl who hasn’t already been used up by thirty other guys and the only clean girl is his new girlfriend’s little daughter. I was raised on horror stories of little girls plucked from their front yards or routes to school and found in dumpsters and ditches. You know where I met monsters? Hiding inside a quiet old man hired to substitute by the principal, whose former school district just quietly let him go when he was found having sex with students; at my great uncle’s house when my mom took me to visit; at the neighbor’s when my dad couldn’t be bothered to wake up to take me to school so my mom left me next door when she left for work; and, as is incredibly common, in my own house, under my father’s wild, flickering eyes.

Do you know the three most important words here? DON’T BE QUIET! Children, demand to be listened to! Shout, cry, tell everyone until someone listens. Parents, listen! Be aware, ask questions, CARE. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I’ve yet to find a village I trust. If you’re still reading, thank you. I know this is disgusting to muck through, but it’s one of two things I care the most about and I’ve wanted to find some way to reach out for a long, long time. I don’t really know what I can do, other than live my life in the light, but it starts here, with my “voice.” What can we do?