Man, not monster

My dad is not a monster.

It might sound like I believe this based on some recent posts, but I don’t. Like I told my older son when he was newly five years old, I don’t believe in bad boys.

In “An abridged history of my hate,” I wrote that I learned compassion for my dad by recalling pictures I’d seen of little boy him:

In the first image, I saw my dad as a little boy whose first grader’s eyes were full of light and hope. In the second, I saw my dad as a slightly older boy who still had a little hope in those dark eyes, but whose jaw had hardened in what I read as grim determination to survive what he suffered at his own home. In the third, I saw my dad in fifth or sixth grade. The light had been extinguished and the mirrors to his soul shuttered.

The way my mom told it, her difficult childhood was only a fraction as horrible as my dad’s, so that:

Seeing those pictures helped me understand how much he, too, had lost to hardship and abuse.

I have written a lot recently about how I want to stand not against but for. Read more…

Prescribing Joy: Joy Is

Kim (Little Bits of Heaven) and I have only known each other for months, but it feels to me as if we’ve known each other since before words. She writes with great love woven through with strands of bittersweet, her compassion today a conscious, considered departure from bitter befores. We don’t share a family tree, but to my heart, she is a sister.

prescribing joy

Joy Is

A cool breeze on a hot day
Watching it roll through my daughter’s hair

A warm puddle for my cold toes on our walks to school
Waiting for my son to jump in

Dirt on my hands from planting seeds
Wresting to keep baby from eating them

Joy is
After the storm
When we know we’ve made it through
Perhaps better than before

In the cold times
When our hearts are not hardened by our loss
But made stronger by our faith

When fire rips through our lives
And through the smoke we see the new
New beginnings, new life, new hope

Joy is
Finding that someone whose laugh is worse than yours
But knowing it’s all you want to hear

Celebrating a sunrise
Because you’ve seen it one more day

Toasting a sunset
Because the clouds have gone away



Categories: Family, Love Tags: , , , ,

In which I reluctantly “choose” Hillary


Mom, always

My mom “chose” rape.

I want you to sit with that for a minute.

Please, do. No matter how uncomfortable that feels, please, do.

Her ex-husband, my dad and an officer of the law, forced my mom to choose between rape+child support or no rape+no child support. He could do this because he had power. My mom did not.

My mom grew up believing that a woman’s worth was in her capability as a wife and a mother. She strove toward being an A+++ in these areas, even after my dad made clear that he didn’t give a fuck what she did. He would always hate her, and he would always hurt her … because he could, with impunity.

She had a high school degree, but she didn’t have a college degree. She had a husband who didn’t care what happened to his kids, as long as he hurt their mother. That was what she was up against: a conservative Christian man who said he’d tried to make his woman see the light, when what “tried” meant was “abused her so diligently that he hadn’t yet discovered any abuse tactic that would make her agree he was superior and it shouldn’t matter, then, what happened to their kids.”

When my mom divorced my dad, he was intent on making her suffer however he could. He opted not to pay his child support, and then raped my mom–coerced her into having sex with him–as incentive for him to relinquish court-mandated child support. Read more…

I dream the world for you

Oh, sweet child born into poverty and abuse,

I have a story to tell you.

It’s a story about me, but it’s also a story about you.

My mom was twenty years old when her then-future husband–my dad–tried giving her away before their wedding.

She stuck with it. She stuck with him. Back then, she believed she had the power to change him. She would win him over with her love, her cooking, and her tender, joyous care for the children she would bring him. Read more…

on finding “for”

A husband and wife
sit in near darkness and
discuss history and politics
over unfolded laundry
heaped between
them on their
dinner table

Why are you so angry
right now? The past is the past,
and now–now is what it is.

I am angry
because I thought
my suffering in childhood
was anomalous; to see now
that it was widespread,
systemic, is crushing.
It should never
have been
like that.

Totally true.
But that was true even
before you understood it. Read more…

Love will win

I read 41 books in 2011.

Of those 41 books, I marked three in bold as “top picks.”

Of those three books, I mentioned that I’d quadruple-bold one if I could.

I bought copies of this book to send to friends. I then looked at my own copy and decided it would do more good in someone else’s hands than on my bookshelf. I sent it off, too.

My review of the book was a single sentence: I run on the verbose side, but about this book I can only say: it is heartbreaking, breathtaking perfection.

My husband, Anthony, and older son went to the movies yesterday. Read more…

I will shield you

My blog’s most popular post to date is the letter I wrote to my deceased mom.

Entitled simply “Dear Mom,” the post is what poured from my fingertips when I wrote to her as if she was still alive. While I wrote, I felt her presence with me, so that I would’ve written for days if I only the constraints of my life permitted it.

Yesterday, my curiosity was piqued when I saw a LinkedIn editor’s pick called “Dear Dad, Please don’t vote for Donald Trump.” Its author’s dad is still alive, but he’d chosen the medium to enable him to present his thoughts in a fluid way that supported linking content. I felt in his words tendrils of the same force that nudged me along as I wrote to my own mom.

I debated whether or not to read the post’s comments. I decided it should be safe; with LinkedIn being a place for professionals to network, I was curious what considered points commenters would raise in response.

“Buffoonery,” read one of the kinder, more thoughtful comments. Read more…


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