"If writers possess a common temperament, it's that they tend to be shy egomaniacs; publicity is the spotlight they suffer for the recognition they crave." Gail Caldwell, from her book "Let's Take The Long Way Around"

"To look life in the face, always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. . .always the years. Always the love. Always the hours." From the movie "The Hours", based on the book of the same name by Michael Cunningham

"Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly." Baz Luhrman, "Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen)"

"A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibility of their own souls." Walt Whitman

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant or talented?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


It's not too late, only about 20 min to 11pm.  I'm off work tomorrow and Deril is horribly sick with the flu or pneumonia or some kind of infection he'll be diagnosed with tomorrow afternoon because his immune system is shot.  I'm only minorly fighting the sniffles, but now I find myself fighting the sniffles for other reasons and it's a hard feeling to shake off.  I can't do this without a glass of wine.

I just finished watching "Reviving Ophelia", one of Lifetime TV's better book-based movies (another one is "Odd Girl Out" which is also very meaningful to me and should be watched by all parents of daughters).  In a nutshell, "Ophelia" is about a teenage girl who is being physically and emotionally abused by her boyfriend.  It all ends in a neat and tidy and I guess meant-to-be-feel-good way, but I can't help being saddened by it.

I'm diverging from the chronology of my main story a little here, but please indulge me.  When I went to college and I left my mom and brother and sister with Direll, I went through a sort of - who's kidding here? - post traumatic stress.  I lived in the dorms and girls were constantly running through the halls at all hours, laughing and squealing as teenage girls do.  At nighttime when this would happen, while I was sleeping, I would wake suddenly to their noises and immediately react as though it were my mother screaming in pain and fright at being hit by Direll.  I reacted in such a way that upon waking, I didn't know where I was at first and started to get out of bed to defend her, when I would realize that I was safe in the dorms and it was just silliness going on outside my room.  I was so used to being awakened by the sounds of Direll beating on her, bullying her and their constant arguing that I expected it, waited for it in the night.  Toward the end of high school and the summer before college, it was uncommon to get a solid night's sleep.  If nothing else, we were all sleeping on edge, waiting for Direll to come home at some point, shuffle around the kitchen, maybe make fried bologna and rice, pots and pans clattering.  He was in full-fledged cocaine psychosis by then, paranoid, talking to himself.  He would creepily walk to me and Julie's room and look in on us while I pretended to be asleep.

Anyway, what I started out to say was that when I went to college and my mom finally left him and moved to Arizona, secretly with my grandfather coming to get her, people would ask me why my mom stayed with him for so long.  This was, of course, after I tentatively started telling people the truth about my life.  The thing is, I don't know and yet I do know.  I mean, I understand how women can be belittled and emotionally beaten down to believe that they truly deserve to be treated like dogs, worse than dogs, and that it somehow is their fault for letting it happen.  The physical abuse hurts, leaves visible marks, but the emotional abuse and manipulation is the most harmful.  "Reviving Ophelia" (the Lifetime movie - please withhold judgement here on my choice of TV entertainment) depicted this very well.  It just happened to wrap it up all nice and neat in about 2 hours.  It took my mom 10 years to get out of her relationship and sometimes, 20+ years later the scars still show.  It makes me angry that Mom stayed with Direll for so long, that she made the choices she made, but it makes me angrier to hear people judge women who stay with men who abuse them.  It's a slippery slope (excuse the cliche) but I learned at a point that my mom was not going to kick Direll out until she was ready to do it.  Like any addict or alcoholic, she had to hit her bottom and it took her a long time to bottom out.

I got a couple of responses to my last post about Christmas from friends who expressed sympathy and empathy to me about my experiences.  I so appreciate that people are following this blog and that in some cases, people can identify with what I went through in their own way.  That is always helpful to find someone who has a shared experience.  All I can say is that it only gets worse from there.  I used to joke, in my cavalier way, that I could never turn my life story into a book because people would never believe the things that happened, they are so outrageous.  Or rather, what seems outrageous is that all these things happened to one family.  But if they happened to mine, then they happened to hundreds of other families in the world.  And then, when I think I had it bad, I watch a movie like "Precious" which is technically fiction, but clearly a compilation of many realities, and I think, I didn't have it bad at all.

I guess it's all relative, no pun intended.

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing what a human being can take and how difficult it is to change a situation. So many people have been emotionally and physically abused and no one else can know their anquish and why it happens and how extremely difficult it can be to get out of it. Fortunately, for some, the need to survive and hope for something better does open a hole to crawl out the darkness and into the light. The strength it takes to do just that is tremendous.