There was a game she played as a child, it was a night time scary, silly, giggling tradition with Lm and her cousins. With a flashlight on and one kid holding it upward under his or her chin, the bedroom or basement doors darkened and it would start. Announcing in the scariest voice one could muster up, one would call “I’m on the first step”, giggles in the dark, then the imagined curmudgeon would say in an even creepier tone, “I’m on the second step”, then more squeals. On each step this creature would say something to the likes of “I’m going to eat you all up” or “I hate little children” and maybe let out a growl. Blankets were pulled over each head and huddled together everyone felt safer. Once on the top step, the door would swing wide open and the tickling began. How do we get ourselves worked up into a frenzy over someone we know, playing a spooky game yet when real life frightens us we clam up? Lm opened door 26 without thought. Who would help her through this real life game of truth and fiction? Inside the door the sun is so bright that sunglasses are needed. This memory is from the Bahamas where the evening breeze was welcomed. The shutters to her and her father’s room stayed wide open, screenless and at street level she could see crowds of white pale tourists clashing with the beautiful brown and deep chocolate skin of the Bahamians. The ocean burst upon the shore and the heat made Lm doze in and out while her father went out on the streets, crowded with laughter and accents she’d never heard. He bought her a stack of postcards with a pen. He said they were going to a fancy dinner show. The man’s name was Milton Berle that was to make them laugh and drinks and such were served at the table near an aisle. Lm had been to a lot of interesting places but this sounded much more exciting than a trip to the drive in movies or a ride on the ferris wheel at the county fair. When they arrived they were seated close to the stage with Lm near the aisle where the busboy’s catered to tables and BaDDaD although laughing a lot, also drank a lot. She knew by now this was the good side of BaDDaD, as long as he was kept happy and the drinks kept coming he’d get them back to the bungalows lining the beach. None of what Milton Berle said was funny to her but she was certainly the youngest person in the crowd. He had a sweet face and big white teeth, a tuxedo and shiny dark hair that was combed back with what she would guess to be “Dippity Do”. She consumed several Shirley Temples and watched the young men rush up and down the plush carpeted rows, from table to table they bowed and filled their trays and took away all the dirty dishes and uneaten food. Suddenly, a bus boy tripped on a step and his tray went flying toward Lm and landed by her feet. She scrambled to help him and picked up cracked plates, rolling grapes and chunks of melon. All at once a bright white light shone on her and all the people stared. Milton Berle asked the audience to have a good look at the sweet and helpful young lady helping out with all the clamour made from the shattered mess. She looked at Milton Berle and he blew her a kiss. The audience was cheering and BaDDaD was beaming. Afterwards, he would take her to a place where machines were rolling with cherries, lemons and people were using up coins to spin them around. She was weary. BaDDaD told everyone about her being spotted by Milton Berle that night. Someone who worked at this noisy place full of adults came up and said Lm couldn’t be in the room. Lm saw his face turn red like the cherries 🍒 rolling round and he called a taxi to send her back to the bungalow. He gave her a key and said for her to go to sleep. She climbed into the cab and he sent her off, through streets unfamiliar, a country unknown to her and she tried the key. It didn’t work. Luckily the shutters had been left open and she climbed up and over into the now cooler room. She felt scared and closed the shutters and latched them from inside. The fan hanging above the bed was whisking around and she watched it spin until she fell asleep. In the early morning when light was creeping in through the shutters she opened one to look for BaDDaD. Soon he appeared and gave her a smelly kiss and too tight hug and fell onto the bed to sleep. She was quite hungry and fished through his pockets for some change. She found a little bit and went out and straight to the street where dogs ran about barking, people were stirring and saw the cart where a happy faced dark man with a straw hat sold things and called out to tourists to come see him. In his rich Bahamian accent he asked what he could get the “little miss” staring up at him. Lm asked for breakfast and he laughed. “Oh, I don’t have breakfast miss, but I do have some cola!” She put the coins up and he said he needed more. Lm explained her father was asleep and told him all about Milton Berle, the busboy, the new word, “casino”, the spinning cherries and the taxi all by herself. The man softened and then handed her a cola and a small cup of lemon ice. “This will cool you off.” She took the lemon ice and her cola and went back to the bungalow. She sat on a stool and got out her postcards and pen and wondered how she could write all of this down and to whom she should send the cards. She finally laid down next to BaDDaD who was sleeping with pillows over his head. He always did that no matter where they were. Lm knew it would be a long day waiting for him to wake and resolved herself to watching the people stream by and finally her eyes closed as the sun and sky slowly changed to yellow, orange and pink.
Love is not limited by time, that is certain to LittleMe. Love is expansive, complicated, messy and impossible to keep contained. Control is not Love. A homeless teenager who carries her baby to full term and knows she wants to find a right fix for her socially perceived wrong places her soul, her breath, her entire heart out on a cliff and closes her eyes, praying, convincing herself she is doing the best thing for her creation. The how’s and why’s of her pregnancy are irrelevant because it’s her Love that kept the life, gave the hope and healed from another’s broken promise. Or maybe she sees two special people, man and man capable of Love and no longer silences Love to man and woman. She in her bravery embellishes the essence of Love as Birth Mother. She never walks away. Never stops remembering. Baby placed in another’s arms please be safe from the real worlds harm. Each birthday she remembers you. Each birthday I remember, too. I love My child from another’s time, another’s eyes and not just mine. I don’t want to share but I do. LittleMe reminds me blood is not family often, but without the conscience of one amazing human that I don’t know, I would not be the selfish Mother that I am. I do not want to share, or recall or feel linked in this triage of Love. Then there is more, a brother, too. You are not for me to contain, hold back nor own. And Love, well, my way is always possessive and greedy when I am afraid of being forgotten; be it by my child, my lover, or my Love never given openly to another, I will covet and feel weary. I know no one is really mine. It’s a broken part of me that ROCK believes is ready to open the door and spread some goodness. I hope this is true. I think of the woman who healed when my brother was placed in her arms and want him back. I want to scream for BaDDaD to “go to hell”. I lost someone, too. My heart sees the face like mine in a strange far away and terrifying reunion and I cry. I keep you brother in my pocket and I wish you were more than an image of genes and mistakes. People like me go on loving their abusers, their users and the Truth is simply that we didn’t know we had a choice.
NOW. Exhausted yet awake LittleMe is so sad she can’t shut down her pain. Pain that is tied not only to BaDDad but also to MeanMom. I have worked so hard to make you satisfied with me, grateful for my devotion despite your ugly words, reminders of that harsh leather belt stinging my bare skin, your icy glares of disapproval and my whole world being about you. It had to be. You, too were a narcissist. I understand your childhood was hellish yet why did you take It all out on me, your only child? I remember how everyone loved you, your beauty, charm and wit. No one would believe that you were more like a “Mommy Dearest” behind closed doors. I learned very early on to try and please you and it has followed me all the way through life. I try way too much care too much, love too much and always wonder how normal it might feel to live without this muslin blanket around me that squeezes out every bit of me until I am trapped in my own repetitive way. I turned to spiritual growth as I tried to cut the proverbial cord from you, and truly thought all decent humans want to become morally cognisant, continually bettering one’s behaviors, rough edges, just fucking grow the hell up. But it’s not like that. I have loved atheist and thought they would see that you don’t need the Bible Belt literally to whack you into bettering yourself. One can simply get old and not care or think about the reaper’s shadow. One can hide their entire lives and just get the mail, drink wine and read book after book and never once allow the pit of existence to meet the ID. You wrote a letter to me before you visited seeking redemption, claiming to know why I left you to go live with BaDDaD but you broke us apart. You told me I had done very bad things, made wrong choices and was the cause of your breakdown. I luckily have been using mindfulness techniques and meditation more and handled you gently like you were the broken porcelain doll that dropped from the window sill. I left your bedside quivering and wondering how fast you could snap. I have removed a pawn, retreated, lost in the darkness of youthful anguish and guessing games. I have tried to hold onto you despite your never admitting the depth of abuse you invoked. I had chosen the lesser of two evils long ago and repeatedly I’ve forgiven you. It doesn’t get better despite your efforts because there has always been two moms, maybe more. The mom who gave me lists of chores so long everyday that I couldn’t be a kid and certainly couldn’t do my homework. You invaded my personal boundaries, and still do. You, the mom who was hurried and had no time to listen, the pincher, slapper and owner of such a ferocious temper that it squashed LittleMe down into such fear of you I quit eating, ran away from home and have kept trying to please you out of fear of rejection for fifty nine years. My birthday is in two days. I always imagine how it should be. I wanted you here to feel loved by you, to feel better about us and all I want is for you to go away. I will be tolerant until the end of your stay but this is my home and you can’t stay here again. Ever. You broke my hope. I don’t want you to sing for me when you can’t own the words that burned me. I am growing and see that some of my family here doesn’t “get me” either. I am not the same person as yesterday or the day before. I am holding my boundaries and not afraid to start reliving my life alone now. It is supposed to get better. That has always been my plan. The story unfolds and I am in charge of my ending. I am a powder puff mushroom, you can kick me and watch as I disperse. I will grow back and stronger every single time.
Our abusers, be they family or not leave an imprint. BaD DaD could play the harmonica and the good times were real. Keeping the “Healing Contract” of NO CONTACT is very difficult during the holidays. “LittleMe” and ROCK know this time is often painful, melancholy and bittersweet. If you feel weak, buckle down, as this is your time to share Safe 💕 Love. That means caring for your own heart with delicate and real life protecting mechanisms. No matter what good you might recall, toxic and selfish parents, spouses and relatives do not get immunity because of any special holiday you might celebrate. They will never change. YOU must be the one who continues to heal, protect and promise that you, like “LittleMe” will remain strong and enough. Love YOU first.