Monday, December 28, 2009

Perfectly Still

Something inexplicable jolts me. The physical sensations - pounding of my heart, taste of tin in my mouth, shallow irregular and rapid breathing – are intense.

The blankets lay perfectly positioned atop me as if someone had only a few moments ago said ‘sweet dreams’ and tucked me in for the night. The air, shadows, small jewels of light that dance along the ceiling, down the walls and back up again do not move.

Despite the feelings that pulse through me, I can not fully discern my being; who I am, where I am, whether I am asleep or awake.

I can see and feel myself lying upon a large primitive wooden cart with roughly shapen platform, axles and wheels. I am being pushed or pulled along by everyone and no one, in and to a stark white place that is both familiar and nowhere I have ever been before.

The panic wells in me. Like a large inanimate object my body does not, will not, move. I am sure that I am dead. The fear settles into relief ever so slightly as I hold my breath and scan the room.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Writers Block

Lately I find that I am thinking of things about myself and my childhood that I'd rather not recall. On one hand I hear myself say that it's okay to remember, to process, to share. My other inner voice says something much different: 'these are private matters'. Yes, these are the mothballs carefully placed deep in the back of the linen closet with the unused wool blankets, wildly out of date and potentially dangerous should they be handled incorrectly or by the wrong person.

I see the images and begin to craft sentences - as I drive, in the sweet space between the light and the dark of sleep, while people watching. But when I sit with purpose at the computer and begin to write my body becomes rigid. My mind flits from memory to memory with no pause, nothing but a cursory review. The sights, smells, feelings don't appear as words. The sentences aren't there any more. They melt into one incoherent, confusing, jumbled mess. The memories have been buried, tamped down, covered with something almost impermeable - as quickly as they reveal themselves, a switch is turned on to make it all disappear. What is it? What is it? Fear that in reliving it I will become That Child again; helpless, hurt, trapped and angry, with no real sense of self, ripe for a beating of one kind or another...? Fear that you will see me as a grown woman who is helpless, trapped and angry, with no real sense of self. That I will believe - again - that I am helpless to stop a beating of one kind or another?

When did we learn to craft our thoughts as complete sentences - those of us born in the late 60's & early 70's? Seven, 8, 9? Whenever that was, I also realized that pencil to paper would be a good way to process productively all of the things that I had no other outlet for. So, I took all the rage that was inside of me and put it on paper. When I was emotionally spent and able to move on, I put it away. Safely in the top drawer of my desk.

Soon thereafter, my truth was exposed by my mother who had previously dismissed as unimportant, irrelevant, unworthy of discussion, any of my thoughts and feelings on her transgressions against me. She went rifling through my drawers while I was away at school and read my journal - my feelings disregarded yet again - because it was her right as the parent to do so. Upon reading my journal, my rage became hers tenfold - 'you hate me? I'm mean? You wish I was dead?' - my body was instantaneously and for some time that afternoon, the target of her anger.

My real feelings were not to live in perpetuity in her house unless I was willing to risk a beating. And yet, here I am - 40 years old - still afraid of the 'beating' that writing private matters for anyone to read may bring me. I try to remember, whenever I feel my body tightening as I begin to explore or make my experience real to other people through writing, that these are MY private matters, memories, truths. That I am That Child - no different now than I was then: strong, independent, unique and willful. Willing and able to dig deep, push past my comfort zone, to explore and experience deeply so that I can share and gain something ultimately important. Me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Note: I'm writing to write tonight. In order to get something - anything - on the page, exercise and editing are not part of the equation.

Walking to school in the morning provided ample opportunity to explore the beauty of the world. Those four long blocks with the creek and front yard flower gardens offered polliwogs and frogs, ladybugs, daisies and roses. Few children walked along the same route in the morning and those that did were much faster than I was so the early mornings were quiet times filled with self guided discovery and much needed solitude.

She found a husband and home for us. No more little apartment, late nights slinging drinks, or limited capacity to manage the toddler pushing her beyond her one-person limits. Her new life meant that she didn't have to work in a bar or restaurant any more or call on others to meet my needs, and she could focus on being a stay-at-home-mom.

But her new family was born of rape, grown in violence, and nurtured by divisiveness.

She must have conceived on or near her birthday. The pregnancy was not likely a happy time as it was forced upon her in the ugliest of ways. Who says that a marriage license cancels out rape?

The new baby arrived nine months later - two days after my 5th birthday and about a week after we moved to our new house - and after considerable time and effort had been spent ensuring that we knew our respective places. He was in charge and she was his pawn. I was lucky to be there and was not part of the family.

I was as invisible as any precocious and inquisitive 5 year old could be; I spent my time playing in the creek, wandering the neighborhood, talking to anyone that would listen, trying to be as invisible as possible at home.

The family next door was large and welcoming and they had a pool. There were three girls, two not quite teenagers, one almost grown and ready to move out, all welcoming. Their teenage brother lived in their backyard pool-house. Away from his sisters.

One day, when the girls weren't around and I had no one to play with, he kept me busy for a while. I don't remember all of the specifics of that day in the pool and pool-house. Or why everyone became suddenly angry with one another. Or why not long after that day a very large fence went up between our houses and I was no longer allowed to 'go play at the neighbors house' as I had been before.

Kindergarten an oasis away from home. The white hair, powdered complexion, ruby red lips and sweet perfume of Mrs. Forward was absolutely gorgeous. Her clothing was bright and bold, sparkly and consistent with each and every holiday for days before and afterward. She hugged and kissed each and every one of us, to tell us that we were smart, special, and wonderful. She challenged our curiosity and urged us to do good.

I always liked school. Swimming ain't really my thing. Sometimes I wonder why I'd rather be alone than with other people.

This is the real work. And (excuse my language) fuck if it isn't amazingly difficult to write it. There are so many thoughts rushing through my head and feelings coming to the surface as I wrote this that it's been hard to focus. It feels choppy and as a result I feel like a 5 year old! I'm angry and taking it out on my husband in the context of having looked at an elementary school for our 5 year old today. He's too young and I want to try to protect him from the real world. I'd love comments on the way that the information is conveyed. Prompts on what to write about next, alternate voice considerations, perhaps an idea for a completely fictional subject?!. Some other work I can do to better prepare myself? Thank you. Be Well, Wonelle