Black Stove, Purple Lamp

More from Vol. 2 of Present Tense


We are standing in the living room. We are moving our belongings out of the house because my parents are fighting again. My brother is now married and lives in a nearby town with his wife. He is helping us move.

My father confronts my brother in the living room with a baseball bat and threatens to hurt each of us if we do not leave the house immediately.
My father swings the bat to show his intention. Lands a blow on the free-standing wood-burning stove. He leaves quite a dent in the black sheet metal exterior. A dent that will live with us for all time.
He then swings again to assert his presence and smashes my mother’s favorite lamp. It was a beautiful purple lamp. Two lights, beautiful hand-painted designs on the glass shades and delicate gold filigree edging. Gone with one blow.
He smashes the lamp, I imagine, to see the pained look of surprise on her face. He wants to see her hurt.

Tiny little shards embedded in the carpet. Gouges torn in the wood of the end table. Hearts shattered at the violence, but not for things. Splinters of feelings scattered and strewn.


This would not be the last time I would see this house. It should have been.
The house is gone now. Swallowed up in time. Rotted with weather and neglect and turmoil. But it housed our violent, chaotic family for nearly 20 years. It existed and so did we. A new house stands in its place.
So long now. But the violence persists in my mind.
Sometimes, I wish my mind or memories would rot, but they are rock solid. The negativity built on unshaken cliffs of time-battered trauma.

Memories can be swept away like sand on the shore, but this bedrock is immovable. Formed in liquid lava and cooled to stone for all time.


We moved back very soon after this incident. Perhaps 1-2 months later. We left several times, but never for very long. Unfortunately.

’66 Chevelle

More from Vol. 2 of Present Tense.


I am 14 or 15 years old. Saturday morning. I’m lying down, but awake. I am in my bedroom with the door closed. There is one loud voice and one scared voice in the next room.
“Where is she?”
He is choking my sister. He is pulling her hair. He is threatening her. He is hurting my sister because my mother isn’t there to hurt.
He leaves her bedroom. I stop moving, thinking, inhaling in the hope that I will not be next. Not quickly enough, I hear the back door bang.
I hear my sister stir. I hear her muffled, wet breaths. She is crying.
I hear my father opening the hood of my sister’s car, the car that she shares with my mother.


’66 Chevelle Malibu. The one with the rusted-out hole in the floor board. The one with white paint and blue vinyl seats. The one with jagged rear window posts that cut your hand when you’re not careful. The one that an old lady drove to church and the store and only had several thousand miles when we bought it almost 20 years after it was made. The classic. The sweet-ass sportster. The muscle car from Malibu. The one that will take a beating.


I look out the window of my bedroom and see my father ripping wires out of the engine. He slams the hood closed and now takes a hammer he must have grabbed on the way out. He pounds the metal repeatedly with quick, powerful blasts and leaves at least two dozen or more marks.
These are not dings. These are not dimples. These are deep, hate-filled holes.
“Get out of here.”
My sister calls my brother and we leave. We wait at the end of our driveway for my brother to pick us up. We don’t speak to one another. I am powerless to change what is happening. I can only follow, obey and relinquish any hope of being normal.


Every time I tell this story, it makes me afraid all over again. But. I lived. So I am thankful for this story. It reminds me that I can survive. And that I never have to live that way again.

Vol. 2

The plan was always to release a Vol. 2 of my book Present Tense. But, as with most things, I was unable to complete the final version. I have many stories to publish and I thought, “Life is too short to leave them unread.” So I’m publishing them here. One by one. They are just little snippets of childhood. Sometimes, difficult to read. But all real, all precious. Mainly because they show my heart and where it’s been.


This new house is where I will spend the rest of my adolescence and teenage years. This is the house of sunken tubs and cigarette stains. This is the house of deep divides and dark, fake paneling. This is the house where I decide to kill myself.
I am lying in bed, shaking. I can’t stop shaking. I am some age between 5 and 15. I am scared. For mom and me. My parents are only 10 feet from my bedroom door. The door is shut, but it is cheap and he is screaming.
She is crying. She begs him to leave her alone. He keeps verbally attacking her, calling her a pig, threatening to kill her. I can hear him pushing her down. I can hear her land hard on the sofa. I can hear him hitting her. Spitting words through teeth. Seething, growling, possessed and angry.
I can hear every agonizing detail and only until I am shaking violently do I realize I’m shaking at all. I can’t stand it. I resolve to defend my mother and end the encounter. I walk quickly into the room and I scream at my father to stop. I can’t remember anything that happens after that.

Another Planet

Where am I?
How’d I get here?
This is my worst nightmare–
My greatest fear.

Not just living once,
But experiencing twice
The excruciating anguish
Of my heart in a vise.

Broken homes.
Parents screaming.
Shattered lives.
Splinters gleaming.

I am kidnapped on the ship
That takes me back to Then.
I am rock-bound shipwrecked
Instantly on that When.

The initials on the side of my rocket are P-T-S-D.

Where’s my preserver?
Where’s my rope?
I’m already wrung, hung and dried.
There’s absolutely no hope.

Getting off of this horrible world?
No escape for me.
My map was tossed, pilot jumped clear,
The capsule crashed at sea.

I may never see home again.
I can sit, give up and die.
Or I can make my way back to you
And fashion a means to fly.

Find tools.
Bang out a space.
Write a manual.
Picture your face.

Soaring over the ice,
Breaking the gravity of Past.
Riding out the rocky belts,
To land by you at last.

I’m home.
Sorry I left.

knee-deep

This is not the surface of Mars. But I wish it was. A sci-fi Bradbury story and not my life.


Scared and Scarred
I am 6. Tender. Overly sensitive. Idealistic. In the living room watching TV (listening to my parents scream).
My father is chasing my mother from the bedroom to the living room. She sits on the sofa by the window. He grabs her leg and drags her from the cushion. Her pants rip and she awkwardly falls to the floor, pinned between the sofa and coffee table.
My brother jumps up and tangles himself with my father. My brother is 17 and a full-grown male. He might be one inch taller than my father. He weighs less, but not by much and has anger and youth on his side. They wrestle and fall into a window. The glass breaks and the fighting continues. They push each other away and stand panting and snarling, waiting for each other to make a move.
My brother walks out of the house into the yard and my father follows. They exchange violent words and my father threatens to stab my brother. He holds his hand in his pocket, standing at a distance from my brother, claiming to have a knife.
I will cut your gizzards out.
One of the many delusional things my father utters. It makes little sense. He is embarrassingly profane and foaming at the mouth. He taunts my brother to attack again. I can’t remember how it’s resolved.
Sometime later, I crawl up on the sofa to look at the broken window and wonder why our afternoon was disturbed. I cut my knee with a shard of broken glass hidden in the cushion. I still have the scar today. It looks like a soggy piece of puffed rice
cereal landed on my knee and stuck.

The cut was deep. Huge beads of blood. The emotional hurt was even deeper.


Complex PTSD is real. This memory was written in present tense to show how real memories can seem. You can relive some trauma at the slightest trigger: smell (cigarette smoke), action (washing hands), word (gizzards), threat (humiliation), similar circumstance (injustice). Reliving some nightmare from the past isn’t easy. In fact, it’s soul crushing. Mind melting. Scariest thing a person ever has to do–walk into the past like a darkened, grimy hallway of a forgotten house of pain. With no skills, lights or way to defend yourself. Anyone with C-PTSD does not want to be permanently haunted with ghosts. But the mind can’t erase severe hurt. It tries, but those imprints have power. Evict those ghosts with the Holy Spirit and this link: Self-Help Strategies for PTSD Visit this site as well: AnxietyBC

And get help. Talk to someone. Anyone.
This weekend I realized–I am serving my past, not my professed master Jesus. I am serving horrible memories and failing as a wife. I don’t want this. My past is not something to cling to in the storm. Jesus is.

FREE

If you go on Amazon right now, you can get my book/play for free!!! Go!

Here’s the link: House Full of Hope

It’s stories of real-life examples of domestic abuse and shelter living. Please support this play and hear these stories. I want to bring the message of these women to the stage and to millions of eyes. Thanks for taking just a few minutes to read. I promise, you will find something inside.

If you do read it, you’ll need the app to download and read electronically. Normally $9.99, but FREE today and the next 4 days. Please review online, if you liked it.

HURRY! 🙂 Don’t wait, it will return to its regular price by the end of the week.

House Full of Hope

Illustration credit: Pencil Princess! Awesome job, Lil. I love it.

Be on the lookout! My new play is done and published. It’s in review, so as soon as the link is live, I will publish the link to Amazon. It’s $9.99, but that includes the rights to perform.

It’s a one-act play about domestic violence. Real-life stories inspired this honest, hard look at domestic abuse and the affected lives. Hope you have a chance to read. I hope someone has the chance to produce. You can read an excerpt here.

This is the article I wrote in 2016 and what inspired me to write this play.

Craftie Beaver

Background


I was abused for 19 years by my father and others. Physically and emotionally. Then my dad died in ’92. For 6 more years I would be physically and emotionally abused by my sister. At 25, I moved out, got married and I was free! From almost-daily emotional abuse.

But.

That day, that I was free? I started recovery. Which is just as hard some days. If not more so.

I most likely have complex PTSD. I say most likely because I am undiagnosed and haven’t seen a mental health professional for several years. But in the late 90s and early 2000s when I was seeing mental health professionals, no one ever thought to delve into PTSD, let alone complex PTSD. The first mention of complex PTSD by a professional was in ’92, the year my dad died. (BTW, weird!) But it’s not even widely recognized as a…

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Present Tense

My book, Present Tense, is available on Amazon tomorrow for free. February 9-13! Normally $2.99. Check it out. It’s a quick read; probably finish in one go. Or if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free anytime. It’s a vignette-style memoir with a glance at PTSD and how it starts. It does not answer the question of recovery, but it gives an emotional starting place.

House Full of Hope

Background


I was abused for 19 years by my father and others. Physically and emotionally. Then my dad died in ’92. For 6 more years I would be physically and emotionally abused by my sister. At 25, I moved out, got married and I was free! From almost-daily emotional abuse.

But.

That day, that I was free? I started recovery. Which is just as hard some days. If not more so.

I most likely have complex PTSD. I say most likely because I am undiagnosed and haven’t seen a mental health professional for several years. But in the late 90s and early 2000s when I was seeing mental health professionals, no one ever thought to delve into PTSD, let alone complex PTSD. The first mention of complex PTSD by a professional was in ’92, the year my dad died. (BTW, weird!) But it’s not even widely recognized as a thing yet.

I’m pretty sure I have it. I have alot of the symptoms. Panic attacks, triggers, sensitivity, nightmares, flashbacks. I’m sure that the next decade will reveal that many abuse survivors suffer from complex PTSD.

What is it?

Complex PTSD is not necessarily worse than what a soldier might go through, but complex PTSD indicates that the PTSD comes from ongoing abuse that happens multiple times. A soldier might endure years of traumatic violence in the line of duty, or he might suffer one tragic episode. Either way, he might develop PTSD. But if it’s ongoing exposure, with multiple incidents, he might develop complex PTSD.

Many abuse survivors develop complex PTSD because they suffer daily or almost daily violence for years. YEARS! The complex aspect indicates the severity or frequency of exposure to traumatic events. There are other numerous factors to distinguish complex. I have only just started hearing about complex PTSD. I’m sure more information about C-PTSD will emerge over the next decade. Children can develop PTSD by being forced to live in a chaotic situation. Even if they are never touched or injured, simply by living with out-of-control adults can make them feel unsafe. Even living with abuse, and not being abused, can make it hard to trust.

If you are in an abuse situation: You have to get out. And stay out. For yourself. For your kids. Cut all ties with toxic people and get help. Physical and mental and emotional help.
Don’t stop.

Why? Because your life has worth, value, meaning, importance. You’re strong enough to survive this. And even thrive after this.

Prayer is Powerful


God is real. Prayer works. A better life is waiting and there’s someone nice to love you. Or just a life where you can love yourself.

If you’re wondering if prayer works or you’re sure it doesn’t? A coupla evenings ago, when I was feeling really low and asked for prayer, I got the most wonderful surprise. My family was preparing to move unexpectedly because they found water damage and mold in our ceiling and I was feeling ill. I don’t have a thyroid. They took it out due to cancer last year and my doctors still haven’t figured out my medication levels. Well. Guess what? I was laying on my bed, resting and feeling blue, wondering how to move our entire apartment in just a few days while feeling so sick, when I got a call out of the blue.

It was Hope House. My husband and I tithe to this domestic abuse shelter that helps women and children. To be honest, I thought they might be calling to ask for more money. I am ashamed to admit that. BUT! Cortney said, “Hi, I just started here and I wanted to call and thank you for your generous donations throughout the year.”

Well, I told her through tears…we give because I came from an abuse situation. And I know what it means to those in need, those who are scared and have no place to go, to have peace of mind and a safe place. It’s a question of survival and the most basic human needs, security and shelter. Except, I said it more confused and slobber-y. But that was the gist. LOL

She thanked me again. I wish Guy C. Maggio was there. It’s his hard-earned money that goes to them, he gives for my sake and my history. What a wonderful man. Thank you, Honey. And Cortney thanks you, too. 🙂

Anyway, she said, without me asking, “I’ll say a special little prayer for you tonight.” And I told her the same and for those at Hope House-I would be praying for them. At least, I meant to say that, I said I would pray, but again, I was super blubbery.  It probably came out as a sloshy mumble of something about “me pray too”. LOL

I needed prayer. I had just asked friends on Facebook to pray for me that morning. And out of the blue, God showed me that my messed up life can make a difference for someone else. And he showed me a person who would pray for me, unasked. PTL!

I used to ask God, “Why me? Why did you give me this family? What have I ever done to deserve this?” or “Why am I sick? Why do I have cancer? Is it something I did?”

And the answer is: He didn’t choose this, but He knew I would be strong enough to withstand it, survive it and on top of it all, give back to others like me some day. All with His help. He knew I would find my weary way home and make something good out of something so bad.

Prayer works. A voice in the wild will whisper on the wind, “Thank you, I’m here, don’t give up.”

We just need to be still. And pray.

Thank you for your call and thank you note, Cortney. You helped me. You help alot of people I’m sure. Keep going. After I move and feel better physically, my daughter and I would love to come and visit. I wish my family had access to a place like Hope House when I was a child. That’s why I give. So a child, like me, can get out. And stay out.