“Come out and take it, you dirty yellow-bellied rat, or I’ll give it to ya through the door!” – James Cagney partial quote from the famous film “Taxi”1932

Scene 1, Take 1000 ROCK Leans Against Lm’s walls of pain and reminds us all that she may crumble but she is one tough cookie.

As many of #RealStuffbyRealMe readers know Lm has been a bit unhinged lately; ROCK has been trying to take a breather and sighs as he remembers with unbridled compassion her earlier feisty days. Okay, you are right, stones don’t need air. Rock is more like a highly trained navy seal and would fight from the bottom of the big, blue sea for Lm. She has sunken on dry land however and he can only protect her from selfish indulgences she turns to when masking her pain. He shares in his best Cagney impression a memory he hasn’t thought of in years. There is so much about Lm that others don’t know. At nineteen, or was it eighteen?… she sailed with two licensed sailors in their early twenties from the well known Annapolis, Maryland, USA yearly boat show to Fort Lauderdale, Florida! There was TJ, with light brown, sea-salty hair, soft blue eyes and a reputation for knowing everything one is to know about sailing; he was a ladie’s man of sorts, one who knew the ropes of the sea but had a deficient vocabulary and well, Lm found him simple. The captain was sly, short, and had quite the interesting nose; he was boastful with a big mouth, pushy and an extremely mysoginistic character that Moby Dick would have spat upon. He learned quickly that Lm would not comply to some unspoken norms that went with the gig. Lm being completely daft and desperate to escape her home life jumped for the opportunity to go along. Apparently, many galley gals were expected to entertain the captain at sea with more than just their singing. She ducked his sexual advances, refused to laugh at his flirtatious nature he called “joking” and was on guard fully after the forty foot Nordic left the Chesapeake Bay and entered the Atlantic. The boat had been bought by a wealthy Floridian and the crew was to be paid very well (except Lm, another story, another day). In many ways she was running away from BaD Dad and Elle’s impending divorce and the non stop crying and yelling, yet she was also running away from a broken heart. Her first major boyfriend who damaged her trust as much as her father in all future relationships had called and advised against her going. This only gave her more incentive as he doubted her ability to handle life at sea. He was a jerk and in all facets of the definition of a decent human, he failed. Lm will most likely go on and on about him to you later. Now caught at sea with the creepy captain and his side-kick, she was in a storm that they were warned about by the radio weather monitor; it was approaching fast with wild winds and waves from four directions. On a sail boat with no way out she had to brace herself and go through it and believe in someone she despised. Storms are nothing to scoff about at sea. Harnessed in at the stern and both hands tightly on the helm she did exactly what captain said, “stay on this precise course and don’t let go.” The winds were steadily building while the guys worked the sails. She ducked as the boom swung from side to side and despite the captain being a very conceited man she was literally praying to God she would never sail again if he just guided these two sailors safely inland. After the storm they took an unplanned pause at the port in Beaufort, North Carolina. She and the guys got off the boat speechless and ran straight to a bar full of fellow wild water sailors. Drunk and scared she met a curly dark haired girl named Tilly with ankle bracelets and a big heart. Tilly was not afraid of anything and was as free as the winds which Lm believed could have killed them all. TJ and Tilly were seasoned and tanned by their multiple yachty-ness experiences and hooked up that first night; they were in full crush mode and she was welcomed to finish the journey with him and the captain. The captain was even more cocky toward Lm now that TJ had a pretty girl in one night and grew more and more agitated over the slightest things. In a snarky voice he barked at Lm to bring him a sandwich. Lm had been hiding out below in an aft bunk for as long as she could. Frightened yet angry at his savage ways she took two pieces of bread and peeled plastic away from the fake processed cheese food, then slapped some ham on it. She was not happy about his behavior toward her although she was grateful he chose to listen to TJ and take the intracoastal waterway and navigate toward St. Augustne, Florida. She looked at the sandwich and took a bite off the corner and spit it out as she was a strict vegetarian. Nextly, she took a squirt bottle of French’s mustard and wrote RAT on his sandwich in bright yellow and orange. She stepped up from the cabin, handed him the sandwich on a paper plate and quickly went to sit with Tilly who was dangling her legs over the side starboard. The captain had one hand on the helm when Lm gave him the plate and he didn’t notice it’s appearance or say thanks as usual. Both girls giggled. Then they heard “Bitch!” and watched a ham and cheese sandwich fly over there heads and into the salty waters and float away. Lm was not asked to make any food for him again. Believe ROCK when he tells you that when Lm says she smells a “RAT“, she is spot on. She does adore all other rodents however.

Drifting; Lost at Sea or Found?

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Rock, Lm and NOW. Alone with vivid memories, I don’t move. I am here like driftwood waiting for someone to kick me around or discover my unique beauty. I am lonely and tired. I feel desperate and afraid; I am so tired of being “OKAY” for everyone in my family who doesn’t want to hear the TRUTH. I do not care if BadDad is being a “better” father to five other siblings; I am not one of them. I am the branch that broke off during the storm, free floated through salty teared seas and landed in a secret safe space. I am no longer negotiating for love, understanding and playing by others rules. I stopped caring today. I have no grand words to cultivate, no more deals to make. I AM. I RELEASE. I SAY GOODBYE TO THE PAIN THAT STEERED MY LIFE. I am loved for who I am by very special people. I will never again reach out across the globe to make others feel nice. I am not NICE; I am Honest.

Inner Galaxies; Undiscovered Black Holes Within Lm.

Constellations of memories light up Lm’s brain, she can’t sleep as they flicker on and off stopping only when the sun rises and even then there is a only a tiny dimmer switch to rest with her pain. Physical pain was once easier than the psychedelic light show her mind set loose just as she tried to sleep. Now the two sources of pain have made a unique blend that she must try and swallow and go on with each day in conscious repression. Steven Hawkings would be proud of her discoveries, even if she hasn’t shared them with others. She is like a small wild flower in a glass vase much too big for her beauty to be noticed. She lies at the bottom, her petals dancing with color and no one sees her. The pain is like over watering an African Violet, she is drenched and can not do anything about it. Entering her thoughts is risky, for one could be sucked in and not find their way back to safety. She will hold on to you, beckon you not to go and the swirls of ruby fire lit asteroids will attach to you. Escape plans must be made and to survive her pull and force of neediness you must be strong.

Masked; LittleMe Defies ROCK

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Where has ROCK been? Why no writing? Lm rose above his domineering persona and said, “Fuck Off!” She pushed him into a hidden closet on the fourth step. She is OUT! She is running, diving, jumping, rolling, shouting, sobbing, vindictive, angry, broken, lost, alone and we must help her before……before she doesn’t turn around and trust us anymore. Her team is on the sidelines and she is sufferring. If you see her be gentle and slow to approach her skinless, impaired and descending self execution. She is so tired, she is so burnt, so ready to yank off her mask and spare no one a break. She is running numbers,scanning through all of her files; 001001001001001001001001001001001001 and Lm will reveal every single detail of her deeply buried pain. She will name the names, she will spit at you and she doesn’t care anymore. She hurts everyday, all day and all night and with ‘kin, not one cares to know, hear and show they respect the TRUTH. If the Onekin, (her description of her siblings are numbered as she runs a virus check through her brain NOW), stood up. If Onekin really wanted to be part of Lm’s safety net, well let’s just say Onekin has had a whole lot of information and still adores BadDad. Hurt? Hell yes it hurts. And there is more for Onekin to know. Lm is debating opening the door with so much sickening pain that it would hurt dear Onekin. Lm does not want to hurt Onekin. Or Twokin, or Threekin, or Fourkin, or Fivekin, or Sixkin, or Sevenkin. Lm only wants TRUTH. To be seen as the survivor she is. She is so insecure and was doing so well. What happened? Triggers do not go away. A gun was drawn that set off memories and Lm is wildly spinning into a tornado of such sorrow that she may not ever make it back to ROCK. She can’t live a lie, she does not trust anyone. SHE DOES NOT TRUST ANYONE! 001001001001001001001001001001001001001001001001……..

Fallen Angel; Accepting I can not Fly Alone

In this show, on this stage, a giant yet fragile marionette is lowered slowly; as the black velvet curtains part one can see what appears to be an angel flying, sustaining herself with her own elegant wings; no one would surmise that she was not magical at all, nor that she was so delicate that any moment she could break into bits destroying the opening act. She was held together like all puppets with strings attached to, well every part of her. Above her was a monster both good and bad, one who could help her move and also yank her off stage without notice, ending her performance so swiftly that she lost her breath. The monster was made of a slew of chemicals, medicinal ones that gave her just enough energy to be amongst others and move. Some days the monster although well meaning didn’t move her at all. The monster called in her true protector, her friend since childhood with hopes he could guide her with the grief she swam in. Rock said, “other’s are also struggling to perform, to get out and do their best, to live with no strings attached. Some strings are superficial and some are real. You must learn to accept the monster made from the God’s as your friend to live a better life; Morpheus is the monster’s name.” Although Morpheus was powerful, some days even he was not enough. Some days Morpheus lifted her with ease and she glided across the stage, in flight with next to no pain and yet other times she lay in a wooden, splintered heap in her lonely marionette box. Her wings were her freedom. When she was flying she smiled and saw the world as a beautiful place despite it’s absurdities, when her wings ached and she couldn’t even flutter she sank deeper into her box and Morpheus would close her eyes awhile and there she would stay, dreaming of the old days when she flew and saw green tree tops with baby bird’s nests, lover’s hand in hand sitting on picnic blankets and all the colours on the spectrum called Life.

Romancing Pain

Dancing with Eyes Closed; Accepting Pain as Part of Me.

In the morning there are yellow dandelions surrounding me, lifting me up with a wash of spring hope. I am rinsed in the sun’s warm rays and feel determined. I always think I will feel better than I actually do. Is that my own stupidity or perpetual stubbornness? I dress and make it to the rich Italian red wine sofa and prop my legs up on a stack of pillows. The pain starts just after I proclaim, “I am better!” and I succumb to my surroundings. The walls are a light gray panel of wood, the ceiling white, the old barn’s tin roof I can see from the sofa is a rusty burnt red with brown dried clumps of moss separating it into unsightly squares. My pain I feel is visualized as an electric zap of steel, sharp silver, shooting up my legs and my silent scream is a maze of terrestrial hues. Pain shares with me every drop of it’s colour, of it’s beauty and it’s sorrow; like the northern lights and milky way it is so breath taking and hard to believe that it is real. Living in a state of chronic pain is anxiety provoking. My mind is a puree of sounds and I am often perplexed. Why can’t I be fixed? Why must my colours be so rare and overworked? My self portrait is black and white as I spilt any hope of beauty out onto the porous surface beneath me. “My pain”, I said to the chronic pain psychologist, “I’ve accepted.” My mind lied that day. I hate it, I hate my body and my bruises both superficial and within. No amount of prayer or drugs give me peace and like the wild scribbling made by a toddler with crayons I lay in a chaos of colour; I am a bottle with layers of dripping wax from many different tints of candles. I am beneath the surface, beneath the beauty, buried in a colour of pain. My eyes close and I stare at the daylight as if my eyelids were window shades. I don’t see why I should open my eyes except to write this pathetic complaint that haunts me. I want to be a happy rainbow one more time. One more moment of brilliance is all I ask. Like any desperate lover, Pain beckons me back, takes hold of me and says, ” I will never leave you alone again.”

Words Unspoken; Is Withholding LittleMe Back From the Frontlines of Truth Worth the Work?

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Batter, batter, SWING! LittleMe is Fine. JustĀ Fine. she has landed in the far left field and sees her emotions and truth fly onto paper and form words that not a whole hell of a lot of humans care to see. She redirects her energy repeatedly to NOW. Mindfulness is becoming easier yet we all have days when we must sit on the bench and rethink our game. Lm loved listening to baseball with a very special elderly woman she once cared for. It was soothing and lightened the stagnancy of the moss green velvet drapes which broke the afternoon sunlight into tiny seedlings, highlighting the dust on the woman’s cluttered dressing table. Glass bottles with hints of perfume, a small basket of lipsticks and a silver hairbrush and comb for her silver long hair. Lm took the brush and tried to push it through her own thick light-brown and reddish locks then opened all the lipsticks to see and smell their colours. She went to the old, tired woman who was being held up by several pillows and touched her hand, checked her pulse and then took a moist sponge on a stick and carefully wiped around her mouth and lips. The woman smiled a bit. Lm then took lotion and rubbed her hands gently as her hands were covered in a thin layer of bruised, rice paper thin skin. The woman smiled a bit more. Next, Lm brushed her long and thin white hair and pinned it up nicely and picked out a soft sea berry red for her lips. She held the mirror that matched the soft hair brush up to the woman’s face and asked her to look. The woman opened her eyes and said, “you are so beautiful”. Lm said her name which was always prefaced with Mrs. and the woman opened her eyes again. Lm held up a small plastic syringe and pressed an electrolyte mixture under the woman’s tongue and held her neck from behind and asked her to swallow. The woman said again “you are so beautiful”. Lm reminded the fragile woman that in the mirror was her face, not Lm’s, then the woman said, “I know what I look like, I have seen my face in mirrors for over ninety years.” Lm smiled and tuned in the baseball game; it was the Baltimore Orioles against who cares. Mrs. “I know what I look like” began to drift into slumber and had a soothing baby like snore. Lm watched as the sunset, how the shadows changed and her mind was restless; she turned on lamps adorned with knotted tassels and costume gems and the soft light comforted her. The Orioles were tied and she was drawn to study her own face in the mirror, it was still young, perhaps twenty-seven and her white uniform fit perfectly. She saw her eyes in a way that no one else could, the pain and fear, the worry and silenced emotions and turned away. What good is beauty without truth? She was running constantly in her mind away from her experiences with her now and then father, her self focused mother and clung to the shining bedrails which ensured Mrs. would be safe for the night. It would become an obsession of self examination, rewinding her memories and it would take thirty plus more decades to find her self. She knew nothing then. She only knew there was something hidden within her that had to be expelled so she could look at herself when she turned ninety and say, “you look beautiful”.

Letting the Light In, one ray at a time

The best of me, you, them, us, and all is Hope. One steps in and out of light, some of us even crawl as we are so broken and dark within that we need others to pull, push and not give up on leading us into streaming rays of what many see as simple “Better-ness”. The closer we come to our own Truth, our ability to grow stronger begins. The realisation that most of the modular examples of humans do not want to go into the depths of who they are is a reality that the evolution of western societies have placed us in. We are “what we do”. We are subjected to a deceptive construct of expectations and judgements. What is really inside your heart, your soul, your mind? Can you say how you truly think, feel and free your voice for other’s to hear or is it too risky? In my five decades plus I have learned a little bit, but Oh! there is so much more to take in. I discover so much more in each moment that I am hypnotised into being a servant of “More”. More than I knew this morning, more than I knew yesterday and I laugh at the rays of sunlight dancing across my heart’s steady beat. I am a painting, a structure framed in bone and my emotions blend into my visual perception of what colour truly is. I am orange, like a clementine imported from Spain. I am as yellow as the lemons which fall along the streets of Amalfi, green as the the stem of a daffodil. I can be black as the coffee grounds I push through the petite glass press each morning, or as rich of a brown as the newly turned soil where the potatoes and garlic are growing now. I, too can be a shade of blue that only can be seen near dusk over the forest’s treeline where night and day blend into a pale magical phase. My palette is as varied as my experiences, some days I feel wonderfully whimsical as a lilac and others I am like the brooding, burnt, melancholy ochre dug from the dry sun baked earth in Morocco; this is my portrait and it changes as my life flows from one hour to the next. When in physical pain I find the most healing hues are tossed like a salad, spread across me like an old quilt and as they dance my suffering returns to gratitude. How did living with severe pain lead me to being thankful? What began as a diagnosis, a prognosis and then a turbulent period of misery led me to my inner oasis.

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My ego was a rhinoceros ready to kill all that made me feel good. I sank in deep mud and stayed there as if cooling down on the banks of the Nile yet my spirit’s nakedness unleashed a depression that no drug could take away. I had to rip my own canvas apart, rebuild who I could or would be and it took years. My fifth decade will always be one of my life’s most valuable periods of renewal. I have discovered that my pain led to the closing of many doors that should have been locked years ago. During this new abstract version of myself I would dwell on my losses, the life I led being stolen from underneath me and envy able bodied friends who slowly were shed from my company. No more deep forest dives, no more hiking for miles and climbing up mountains or cross country skiing; the smallest of movements need to be considered before engaging in every single step of every single day. “Guess-timating” what sort of pain level I will endure from any decision made each day has led me to sculpt a very fine mental map that is virtually traveling within me every second. I did not know in those early days there would be a shift in my endurance and mental health. In the NOW, most days I can not sit at all to eat with my family much less indulge in my love of cooking and painting. I can rarely sit for a dinner party, nor manage restoring a sense of order in my home, lift a potted plant, follow a conversation, make my bed, sleep soundly, wake fresh and be ready for a productive day, meaning how I once described the essence of productivity. I had found my new sketch repugnant, my emotions were entangled balls of wool and I quit. I just quit. Whilst laying in the quiet of each day, I began to face my deepest Truth, a kind of pain so blinding that it was as if I were staring directly into the sun with my eyelids pinned back as intentional torcher. All I had run from, all I had never wanted to face lay with me in my muddy rhinoceros hole. I remembered. And I remembered more and more each day. There was no where to hide and I had to lie next to my past glaring at me night after night, dream after dream. I will never be able to give this process enough credit for saving my NOW. I had to be heard, seen, held and pulled up and it would take re-breaking my heart one memory at a time and a team of guides to rescue my future. The cork popped and like an unexpected flash of rain I would be soaked in seconds with what I assigned a name, terminal despair, or TD. I knew I had to break through my mind’s window, walk on shattered glass, and return to my truest self. In doing so I would fall into the arms of my grandmother’s spirit, call on wise women and old souls to push me into the tiniest bit of light and learn to trust enough to honestly love another human being without resurrecting fear. Fear of betrayal, of being left, of not being good enough. The one who managed to pull me into the light a little more each day was ROCK, my alter ego, and the whispering spirit of Nature’s call to revisit her beauty each day; her majestic sunrises, her wild North Sea storms that are never to be reckoned with and her profound ability to try and recover from humankind’s blatant abuse. I meshed my being with the fight Mother Nature is up against each day as her water’s become spoiled by selfish beings, as her protective layer in our atmosphere dissipates and she keeps reminding me to engage in “Bettering” myself in any way I can. I am part of a rainbow, I am a healer and she is mine. I also have learned that no matter what I have been through, I am in charge of the rest of my life. I still doubt if I am loved as much as I want to be, I still have weak streaks but the colours of me and my new portrait are fierce. And on the horizon I can see that my final sunset will be peaceful. Blessed Be.

Blue Midnight

Although Lm is forever appreciative of everything ROCK helps her through she has one major hang up which is the sense of being forced to get “better”. Life can seem to be so much easier for others and frankly it’s annoying.

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Blue Midnight hurts; my soul is regurgitating pain from those before me and those with me now in the shadows of darkness. I am silent yet my mind replays the choices, the sickness and the fear of never having a window that will open and allow me to breathe peacefully. Suffering has no boundaries, it seeps in through every crevasse of one’s inner room. From the corner where I weep I see from the doorway above reminders of lost loved ones and those still here who are waking in fear as they battle the demons of mortality. Disease, dictators, disasters. At this hour humanity is on it’s knees, begging mercifully to some entity they are half doubting or humbled into believing in as a last resort. Calloused knees from years of prayer, hands pressing palm to palm, grief calling in infinite screams. In the cellar of my heart I pull my knees up to my chest and count the steps it takes to find understanding and empathy within my relations with other dwellers in this existential well of echoed despair. Blue is brilliant when paired with gold and the moon dances across the ceiling as I lay in my pool of doubt and motherly concern for my inner child who sees clearly those who have trespassed her. The night is so long and sleep never comes easy. In a wavering state between rest and wakefulness the “gone wrong’s” of each day plague each cell of my body; my attempts to help pull a special loved one’s self esteem up and to show them there can be a day with goodness was thwarted once again. To lay in worry with the black and blue bruises of a beaten slave is my midnight. Oh, you damned mystery of all mankind, do you even hear me? Do you see how much suffering my loved one is enduring? How can you allow this? I have bargained and have even been willing to pay whatever penance you crave just to see my only child find revelation and self love. Are you abandoning her or me? Are you worthy of my sleepless nights full of fear? I wake each day to hope like a broken clock. Both hands are on twelve and I know not if it is night or noon; my heart is too heavy to pull another through this life. I carry the weight of my deeply broken daughter, my deeply broken self and I try to show the beauty that could be for her without success. I feel the swell of my own past, my haunted and branded scars of before and want there to be a magical spirit to protect my child from this world’s contradictions and horrors. I lay down and feel my baby’s heartbeat still and I beckon the universal dream of “LOVE” to envelope her and guide her to stand up and fight for her dreams. I call with my weak, strained voice for you to answer, please.

Easter Tremors; Tombs, Pain and Resurrection. Photo by Magnus Polla

And to the Earth we return. In fragments, imperfect beings who lived imperfect lives. All the efforts we bestowed upon the tangible, the acquired, are left to burn or salvage greedily or if lucky, sentimentally. Maybe we were loved and mattered. Maybe we watched safely from our hearths the unlucky fights of those who battled with disease, war, hunger; we watched those who didn’t dodge harm’s way because they were born into it. Did the image of Jesus jump out and lift them to the heavens just before the final breath, did they feel saved and hopeful in their death?

In my chronic pain I relive, resurrect, replay, re-die and retry every single moment to find meaning in this shattered shell of a body. Before my physical pain I struggled with emotional trauma and the realisation that I was factually facing what was a subconscious willingness to remain a victim of my traumas, that is, my sexual and physical abuse. I denied the abuse and bowed to it and ran away from myself, my memories until I flatlined. I, on this very Good Friday am proud to free myself from the shackles of my BaDDaD’s behaviours, the “Bible Belt” of submission invoked by my southern mother and the men who were to love me who used me. To the family that was to love me who judged me I will step back and have a look at what you give to me now from your heart. I am a beautiful, reborn and rare baby black lamb. I Invite you to sacrifice my old self with me; raise me up on the cross of your guilt, of your shame and let me lie under the stone, entombed, in waiting and let me rise again and far above your pettiness and lies. Tonight I am letting go of you.