I Need to Know

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Photo credit: Scott Liddell

I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked, Brother, about 4 months. Here’s why: I’m struggling. I don’t feel like I can talk to you about normal, everyday shit until I have some answers. I was there for your last court appearance. I heard what you said. But I don’t really buy it. I feel like there’s got to be more to it than that. So can we finally talk about it?

You said in court that the reason you all decided to rob and eventually kill her is that you wanted some money for pot. Is that the truth? I don’t believe it. If you wanted some cash for drugs and somehow thought that robbing someone you know would be something you could get away with without killing her, that doesn’t make sense at all. Because if you knocked her out, robbed her, then she woke up and would know it was you who did it. So were you planning to kill her from the beginning? If so, then WHY?

I understand that your partner was jealous of her and that serves as her motive, but what the hell was yours? Why would you do something so terrible and so stupid over drug money? And you weren’t even under the influence of drugs at the time! That does not compute. I’m not an idiot. I know there’s more to the story. And I need to know. Can you tell me now? Now that it’s been 2 years? I can’t wait for the trial for answers, and I doubt I would get any then either. And you didn’t even seem remorseful on the witness stand. You shed no tears. No apology. Does it not seem real to you? Do you not realize the depth of what you’ve done?

I’m so MAD at you. I’m so damn disappointed. I’m filled with so much anger toward you, toward everyone. I feel like I don’t know who you are. I can’t reconcile the Brother that I know and the Brother that was up there on the witness stand those months ago without further explanation. I can’t talk to you on the phone and pretend everything’s alright because it’s not alright. I’m not alright. My heart is broken. My mind is confused. I’m racked with guilt. I don’t know what to think about anything and I’m tired of not knowing. I need to know in order to get passed this and move on. I need to know in order to have a relationship with you.

Can you please explain?

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You Killed Him

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You killed my brother.

You told him he was nothing and he believed you.

That’s what you do. You kill people. The very people you were given the responsibility to protect.

You terrorized your child who depended on you for love and survival and starved him of that love. You convinced him that he will hunger for love for the rest of his life because he is undeserving of it.

You beat him at the drop of a hat. You berated him. You humiliated him. You taught him to hate himself.

You instilled fear in him as you tortured and broke the dog he loved so dearly.

You made his mind sick with the chronic trauma you inflicted on him in his childhood years.

You were glad that he was locked up for murder as a child because you were free. Now you could play the role of the victim and the saint.

YOU KILLED HIM. YOU KILLED HIM. YOU killed him.

You haven’t killed me.

Death

“Your sister’s dead.” – Text message from my mother. 7807695890_90e7f24c3f_z

We were training for a sky dive when I told my brother I thought he might be making a big mistake with this marriage. I told him something to the effect of two wrongs don’t make a right – he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia not too long before and I had some serious concerns about her mental health as well. Our father had convinced him that his schizophrenia had been a misdiagnosis, so he never received any treatment. I was afraid that without either of them getting the help they needed that this marriage would be a jump without a parachute. He just laughed and told me that that’s exactly why they’re so perfect for each other – they understand each other better than anyone else ever would. So, terrified, we leaped out of that plane.

Their marriage was certainly rocky. They were children, she was only 17 and he was 18. They beat on each other. They both abused drugs. They’d have a fight or temporarily break up, and my brother would be jumped by a gang she was affiliated with, axe-wielding members taking aim at his face. They’d forgive each other and begin again. Shortly after they were married, my brother put a baby in her. She was very pregnant when my brother filed for divorce in June. She had the baby shortly thereafter, and in mid-August, I got the text while I was at work. A TEXT MESSAGE. My sister-in-law, 18 and with a newborn, had committed suicide.

I’m not sure if they would have gone through with the divorce or if it was just another little fight. I know my brother absolutely loved her. And now he was left with a beautiful baby girl who looks just like her mommy, a broken heart, a sick mind, and so much uncertainty. My sister’s death really fucked my brother up. I’m sure he felt that it may have been partially his fault having filed for divorce a month or so before, and her being pregnant. I’m sure it hurt to look into his daughter’s beautiful face. I’m sure he had no idea how to be a father or how to live without his wife.

He tried to work, but would have to miss here and there when his daughter was sick or daycare plans fell through. He got fired from his job for his absences. He got fired from his next job. He’s grieving, trying to figure out how to be a father, battling the demons in his mind, and now can’t pay his bills or hold on to a decent job. He lost his mind, spiraled into the darkness. He committed armed robberies of convenient stores and robbed other drug dealers, and dealt some himself. He was arrested and sentenced to hell on earth, decades in prison, missing the entire childhood of his daughter and then some.

In prison, he continues to deteriorate. He starves, eating food off the floor if he has the chance. He’ll experience episodes of psychosis, and hears demons telling him that he’s the Anti-Christ. They tell him to eat his own shit. That he should just kill himself. And he tries. During these episodes, he gets put into solitary confinement, the most excruciating torture imaginable. Leaving him to face his demons alone, screaming.

My brother is not dead. He still has a life to live. But I seem to be grieving him. It feels as if he’s been completely lost. Like I don’t know him anymore. When I talk to him, I’m talking to a stranger. He’s more and more frequently attempting suicide. I haven’t spoken to him in weeks because of this. I’m terrified that one of these days he will be successful in his attempt. This fear looms over me each day. With every phone call, my heart skips a beat. I don’t know if I could handle another text message from my mother.

Letter To My Brother, A Murderer

8655428106_1f26bf2ccb_zToday is your 17th birthday. I can’t believe it. Looking back at old pictures of you as a little boy, your face is just the same. Only now, your eyes are sadder.

I’m sorry I haven’t written you back. I’ve been desperately searching for the right words, but I don’t think they exist. Please forgive me if I say something stupid.

I too wish that we could go back to the day of my wedding and the dance we shared. It is one of my favorite photos. It reminds me of how much fun we used to have when we were younger. Do you remember the songs and poems you used to write and recite for us? Or when you used to try and break dance? You were such a goof, always making us laugh. Your eyes sparkled, your smile beautiful.

I love you so much. I’ve always cared about you so much, worried about you, wanted to help you. Did you know? Did you know that I loved you all this time? It used to hurt me to see your social media posts about how absolutely no one cared about you. Because I did. And I thought I had made that clear. But it always felt like you just wanted to push me away. I felt like I would stick my neck out for you, or try to help you or love you and you didn’t care. Or it didn’t matter. And I wonder now if you even knew. Or if I went about it the wrong way.

I wish you had trusted me enough to let me in. I wish we knew each other better.

I won’t lie to you: I’m angry. I’m beyond angry with you for what you did, what has happened. I’m angry with our parents too, for both what they did and what they didn’t do. I’m mad at myself for not having had the answers to everything, for not knowing how to help or make things better, and for not being a better sister. I won’t be angry at you forever. But I am now.

I wonder if you can have any idea of the ripple effects of the decisions you’ve made. I wonder if you’ll ever fully know. How you affected her family and friends and friends of her family, how you’ve impacted our family and friends. How it’s affected me, my relationship with my husband, my work, how I relate to people in general.

But mostly I wonder why. WHY? Maybe you don’t even know the answer yourself. Maybe why doesn’t even matter. But the question haunts me.

What do you think lead you up to this point? I could certainly make some guesses, but I want to hear what you think. What were the things that lead you here?

No matter what, I am your sister. And I will love you. I hope you know that your life is not over. The life you knew is over, yes. But your life still has purpose, even if most or all of it is lived in prison. So don’t give up.

Happy birthday, baby brother. You’re not alone.

I hope to hear from you.

Magnetic

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Is it me? Am I the crazy one? Or is it happenstance? Does everyone else find themselves surrounded by truly unique, bewildering, and sometimes incredibly frustrating individuals? From discussions I’ve had recently, I’m finding that I may have a higher-than-average ratio of strange:ordinary characters running amuck in my life. There is of course, the clusterfuck that is my family. But I’ve included a snippet of the others below. You be the judge.

Abby: She lives for the shock factor, for the attention. Her boss considers her a “visionary” in what she does for homeless kids. My experience with her causes me to question that description. This is a woman in her mid-to-late thirties who has two children of her own. At our place of work, I’d lock eyes with her occasionally as I pass her in the cafeteria with a group of first graders eating lunch and she’d hump the air while fake-grunting with her tongue sticking out. When a child tattles on another, she’d respond “Snitches wind up in ditches.” I come to her with a suggestion on how to improve a process that would help us serve more children and serve them better in the long run, but she responds “Oh, I don’t care about that. I won’t be here any more than 5 years – let’s just leave it as is.” She comes to work often with stories that illustrate what a terrible mother she is, seemingly proud of that fact. She tells us she screams at her 8-year-old daughter and tells her she’s a little bitch. She is “training her son to be gay” because it would be hip for her to have a gay son. I once bought her cheap flowers as her “secret pal” for her birthday and when she saw them, she started yelling on and on about what a cheap bastard her husband is and always has been for getting her cheap, ugly flowers. She also has a Poop Problem that she is oddly proud of. She drinks nothing but coffee and liquor and is quite constipated. However, a nice, hot shower is what can make the magic happen– in the shower. Then, she has to stuff the poo down the drain. Occasionally, there are plumbing issues which terrifies her – she doesn’t want her husband to know. Also, sticking a finger up there and wiggling around is another viable option that works for her, she says. She claims the Poop Problem has given her PTSD. Her Facebook feed is full of close-ups of her face (she’s the selfie queen) and snapshots of a glass of alcohol next to her latest knitting project at a hip bar, with a caption like “Cheers to you, Friday, love of my life.”

Maddy:This is a woman that reports to me, and keeps a regular appointment of rolling around on my office floor at 3:00pm each day to relieve stress or complain. She keeps toys on her desk for stress relief. Her therapist tells her to blow bubbles from a bottle to calm herself. She’s in EA (Eaters Anonymous) and calls herself “sober” and discusses her disease as if she were a drug addict (so eating badly/too much is considered “using”). One of my first experiences with her involved her telling a story to myself and the CEO during a meeting about a boil on her vagina that she cut off while her husband held up a mirror. She feels that everyone in the office treats her poorly/unfairly/rudely, and won’t consider that she may be coming off as abrasive herself.

Boss Lady: This woman hired someone with social work education and background for a social media job, and hired someone who has lost 4 loved ones (one right in front of her) to suicide and is extremely emotional (hasn’t processed her grief fully) for a director-level suicide prevention gig. And when that doesn’t work well, she feels very frustrated. She’s a sorority girl who is a leader of an organization, and focuses her efforts on fun and games and personality tests and parties. She began talking with a man on a phone app game and it led to email exchanges, and when the man’s wife found out, she began harassing her at work and home with threatening calls. Boss Lady says it wasn’t cheating (she’s married herself), but she’s sure her gamer friend would have had an affair with her if had the chance and it felt nice to have the attention. She asked me if this whole fiasco made me feel better about my child brother being a murderer.

Alexis: She slapped me across the face on the first day I met her, apologizing, saying she’d always wanted to do that to someone. She was my best friend throughout high school, and we drifted apart in college. Our friendship mostly consisted of her crying and my trying to figure out what was wrong. She struggled with depression even into her adult life, crying at the office every day and not knowing why.  We’d go dancing and she’d cry because no boys wanted to dance with her, then she’d cry when a boy would dance with her but she couldn’t feel that he had a boner- feeling she wasn’t hot enough for him to get one. Without telling a soul, she started online dating and drove by herself to another state to meet her now-husband for the first time who was living in a basement of someone’s house with a 22-pound cat and stayed the weekend with him, losing her virginity. Now that they’re married, he’s the stay-at-home dad who convinced her that it’s illogical to go to the theater to see a romantic comedy (her favorite). It’s so expensive – you have to see an action flick, otherwise, you’re not getting your money’s worth. She made a huge deal about designing and building their first house, which took over a year. A few months after moving in, she decides she’d like to change things up and move to another state just because she’s bored with her life. She always used to talk condescendingly to me because she comes from a wealthy family, and I come from a poor, broken, dysfunctional family. Knowing how painful my family situation was for me, she’d say things like “Well, the good thing about not really having a family is that you don’t have to waste your vacation time visiting them, right? Isn’t that nice?”

Roberta: This one is far superior to her husband and wants everyone to know that. She repeatedly tells her favorite story to coworkers about how her mother asked her if she was sure about her choice of husband on her wedding day years ago, saying she could do much better. She comes to work each day with a new complaint about something her husband forgot to do or something else he screwed up. She complains constantly about everything. Her mother favors her sister and buys her way more stuff than her mom buys for her. Her smoothie cup went missing at work one day and all hell broke loose. She went nuts for several days – not working- just complaining loudly for all to hear, interrogating suspect coworkers, sending passive aggressive emails, all for her $6 cup. There was a repeat episode when a few of her string cheeses wound up in the garbage. She also comes in and VERY LOUDLY announces that “man, I worked so late last night. And then I worked from home. And then I woke up early and worked before I came to work. Man, I work so much. OMG, more emails in my inbox? ARRRGHHH, they never stop coming! I work so hard! Ah!”

Marva: She is a past supervisor who would always attempt to take credit for my ideas and work. She spent most of her time gossiping with coworkers and “stirring the pot”, sitting back, and watching the drama unfold. She once told me “I don’t think the Receptionist should be introducing herself to people when they walk in. It’s weird and unprofessional.”

What’s the ratio like in your life? Are you also a magnet?

Degrees of Responsibility

Whose ultimate responsibility is it when a child commits murder? Is it solely their own? The parents’? The teachers’? The community?

My brother, a minor, was charged with first degree murder. And these are only some of the questions that keep me awake at night.

Prior to this charge, I would look into his broken, tortured eyes and remember his younger self. Images of his sweet, happy face would haunt my mind. I could see him, aged somewhere between 5 and 8, gleefully trying his hardest to break dance in the middle of the living room. I remember the poems he wrote, beautiful. The songs he would write. The laughter. His smile. His face so innocent. So earnest. I, a child myself, was his primary caregiver until about 8. Life was difficult, but he hadn’t been completely broken yet.

Fast forward to his early teen years and the difference in his countenance was extreme. He’d continued to go through years of abuse and neglect even after I’d left. Our father was physically, verbally, and psychologically abusive to us all. Our mother was seemingly indifferent and asleep. It took me a couple of excruciating years to get my younger siblings removed from that place, placing them in my mother’s care. Then, in a devastating blow, my mother gave up on him and told him to go back and live with our father because she didn’t care anymore.

My brother lived with our father from then on, knowing that neither of his parents wanted him around. He felt so alone. His older brothers went off and developed drug addictions and criminal records and struggled with mental illness. As for me, his older sister, I struggled to cope with years of trauma and withdrew from everyone, in a sense, abandoning him as well.

At school, he was constantly in trouble or suspended or expelled. Teachers hated him. He lived to be accepted by his peers, a “rough” crowd. The more trouble he got in, the cooler he seemed to be with this crowd. He saw their acceptance as his only opportunity for a sense of belonging. Teachers and counselors should see these behaviors as cries for help. Yet, no one bothered. He failed classes. He got into drugs. He became addicted. He began stealing things for cash because his parents didn’t provide for him and the cash also helped his addiction.

There was a period of time where there were a slew of suicide attempts. Still, he received no help from anyone. More and more unimaginable trauma continued to stack up.

I begged our parents to get out of their own asses and do something. For the love of God. I researched programs. I called child protective services. I pleaded with them without success. I pleaded with my brother. He would just look at me with those sad, broken eyes. He would say something like “Why even try? What’s the point? I’m just worthless. And I don’t give a shit.” He’d say this with tears in his eyes, red-faced, but with a small, fake (defeated) smile.

So I don’t know if he committed the crime or not. I have no idea. There is no conviction at this time. I find myself going round-and-round in my mind trying to make sense of it all. The sweet, tender-hearted boy I know would not be capable. But he wasn’t that boy anymore. He was broken. Drug addicted. Beat down. Out of his mind and hopeless. Lost.

I know that none of that is an acceptable reason to take someone else’s life. And I am so completely horrified that this person is gone. That this family has suffered such a terrible loss. And that my brother could have had something to do with it. I am simply in such shock that I cannot even process the implications of this.

I’m just wondering aloud about the responsibility. This child, my brother, was raised under such horrendous circumstances. For the most part, without love and without guidance. Only beaten and broken, physically and psychologically. Is the blame solely his? What about the father who beat him? What about the mother who neglected his needs? What about the teacher that felt he wasn’t worth teaching? The brothers that left him in the dust and set terrible examples? The community that saw signs of abuse but didn’t report it? What about me? I knew he was on a destructive path, but I didn’t do everything in my power to intervene. Are we all responsible?

Bloody Mess

So there we were. Everything was perfect. Too perfect, maybe?

Do you ever get suspicious when everything seems to be going well? Like at any moment I’m going to rip a deafening fart in front of a lot of people in a quiet room or I’m going to be humming along having a great day and get a TEXT message that says- totally unexpected- “your sister-in-law is dead” (yes, that happened).  I’m always suspicious of any span of time that seems a little too happy-go-lucky. But I think I have justification to be the total paranoid freak that I am.

Anyway – there we were, my husband and I. We were on vacation in Key West, back when we were only dating. We were young, hot, care-free, and enjoying some serious rays out on a motor boat in the ocean. We were on a little parasailing excursion with about 10 other people. It was very relaxing as we waited not too long for our turn to fly. Then, up we went. Oh, this is so fun! Oh, the wind feels so nice! Oh, this is a lot more fun than the last time when I went parasailing and fell through the restraints that hadn’t been properly put on me and was hanging on for dear life!

Then, they reeled us in. They did that fun little thing where they have you float all the way down and hit the water splashing and pop back up before they pull you on board. So we’re dripping wet when we get back on the boat. Oh yeah – important plot point – I was wearing nothing but a tiny white bikini. I had no other clothes with me out on that boat nor a towel. But no biggie, it felt nice – I’ll air dry.

We reclaimed a seat on the padded white cushions along the perimeter of the boat as the next couple got up to fly. As we were instructed, the remaining 8 of us scooch over so that we’re rotating our position allowing for whoever is next to be seated right next to the parasail equipment. As I slid, I noticed something awful.

BLOOD. Whaaaaaaaaaat? I look down, alarmed, and realize that yes, this is my life. My period has begun full force. As I scoot, I’m leaving behind a watery blood puddle on the white cushions from my white bikini for others to scoot onto. Is this a nightmare? Sadly, no. I begin to panic. I look around frantically trying to see if anyone else has noticed my situation. I see some eyes darting away from mine. I’m paranoid. Everyone knows.

It’s time to scooch again. I lean over to my then-boyfriend, and command him to grab the tiny little half-towel that is also WHITE that I spot under someone’s seat across the boat. He gives me a quizzical look – he hasn’t noticed yet. I give him the “don’t ask questions just freaking do it” look and he gets up to grab it. Some more people notice this strange activity as he is likely grabbing a fellow passenger’s teeny towel – was it a freaking wash cloth? So I snatch it out of his hands, ball it up, soak up the existing blood trail, and stick it underneath me. AWKWARD. I’m now straddling this white (ish) towel between my legs outside of my white bikini on my white cushion. And when we scoot, I have to scoot in this very intense, purposeful way so as to not have to move the towel with my hand and bring more attention to it.

I went into this “zone” that didn’t allow me to fully comprehend what was happening – the humiliation- to protect me from imploding. I was focused on getting off that damn boat and on to the bigger sail boat where I had no change of clothes, but at least a normal-sized towel to wrap around my shame.

Finally, it was over. I had to carry my bloody mess of a towel that I STOLE with me off of the boat for all to gawk at. But it was over.

I regaled my cooky coworkers with this story some time after, and they were horrified for me. They said that they really didn’t think the situation could have been any worse than that.

But you know I disagree.

I Wish I Could Ctrl + Alt + Delete You?

Ctrl Alt Del

Clusterfuck

/ˈkləstərˌfək/

noun

A disastrously mishandled situation or undertaking.

As in: I recently visited my prison brother, and the experience was quite the clusterfuck. Let me set the scene…

On the night before the visit, my husband and I attended a concert at the state fair. My husband was terribly bored, leading us to leave early, and somehow turned into an incredibly stupid fight. We both anger-walked out to the car, hardly speaking, and then were pulled over shortly after leaving the parking lot, making the evening even sweeter.

The next day, I left work early for the visit. I pull into the lot much earlier than required and for a split second, I was feeling peaceful, happy to see my brother, and glad to be early to something for a change. I was ready to jam out to some music and collect my thoughts. Then, I realized – SHIT. I don’t have my FREAKING driver license. I had put it in my pocket for the fair and it was left on my nightstand. So I immediately enter panic mode and race home like a maniac, sprint inside, grab my I.D. and drive like a mad idiot all the way back. I’m late, but the visit time hasn’t begun yet so I may be in luck.

I run to the prison doors and enter. A very strange lady prison guard is standing by the metal detector, and continues to have random abrupt fits of laughter. I get through and head to the visitation room. The woman in charge sees me and exclaims, “Oh, no. You can’t do visitation in that.” WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, LADY? She responds, “Don’t you know our dress code? Nothing see-through is allowed”, referring to my (new) blouse I wore to work. See-through?? “It’s just my arms!” I say. It’s my freaking brother, for crying out loud. She says it’s not allowed, but fortunately is feeling generous so she also mentions that there is a dollar store around the corner if I hurry.

I have minutes until visitation starts. So I whip around, power walk out to my car and remember that my husband’s jacket is in the trunk. I don’t know if it will work, but I throw it on and run back inside. The aggressive laugher wiggles her finger at me and says jackets aren’t allowed either. EFF. Now I have less than minutes to get to this stupid dollar store. I run back to my car, and pull out my phone to GPS to wherever-the-hell it is. I take off. I’m raging out in my car now, yelling profanities, angry at myself for not knowing the damn dress code, trying not to murder pedestrians with my driving, and fly into the dollar store parking lot.

There are a strange amount of people loitering, having full, pleasant-looking conversations in the parking lot. They all freeze and stare at this maniac that just screeched in. I run into the store and find the clothing section. I grab the first shirt I see, run to checkout and there’s a line. When it’s my turn, I start to swipe my card and freeze. I realize that this freaking shirt is see-through too! I ask the checkout lady to wait and run back to the clothing. ALL THE SHIRTS ARE SEE-THOUGH – WHAT THE HELL IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?! Finally, I see a crappy blue t-shirt that seems solid enough, grab a large, and check out with the sweet little lady as she tries to make polite conversation.

She looks at my shirt, squeals delightfully, and exclaims, “Well isn’t this just the cutest shirt EV-ER! Is this what you do to people on the Facebook that you don’t want to be friends with anymore?” I realize then that the shirt says “I Wish I Could CTRL ALT DEL You” in ridiculous glittery lettering. Dear God. There’s no time. As politely as possible, I snatch the shirt from her and run out the door. I screech all the way back to prison, rip off my nice blouse, throw on this stupid shirt. That’s when I realize that I had grabbed a CHILD’S large. It was stupidly tight and short, making me look even more insane as I sprint past the Giggle Box to visitation, with only 5 minutes left – I made it. The officers try not to smirk at my appearance.

Finally, I’m able to see my brother via video chat. YES, it’s video chat. I get there just in time to pay for the 15 minutes I missed, and add an additional 15 minutes, totaling a $20.88 charge to visit my brother on a computer screen. Absolute robbery. It also costs $10.44 just for one 15-minute phone call. He looked happy to see me as I tried to focus and collect my thoughts after the clusterfuck that just occurred. He asks me how I am and what I’ve been doing, and I reply something IDIOTIC like “Well, not too much, it’s been pretty BORING and uneventful lately – tell me about what’s been going on with you!” Yes, I told my locked up brother (potentially 45 years to life) that I was bored with my freedom. Because I’m an asshole. He actually found it funny, and pointed out the stupidity, which I appreciated.

He then proceeded to tell me the most interesting prison stories. He and his roommates have been making trash bag “hooch” with oranges, sugar packets, bread, water, and other stuff. Apparently, the oranges bring the yeast out of the bread, and when it ferments, it tastes like total shit but lets them get crunk. He also filled a trash bag with loads of water and uses it to work out with, which I thought was very creative of him. He’s thinking of getting some prison tats, and promised me he’d make sure the needles are clean – so that’s nice…

Most interestingly, he told me that he’s been doing a little dating. A couple of floors above him is where the women stay. He and his roommates have been communicating with them via toilet pipes… Yes. Toilet dating. He said if you stand on the toilet, and talk loudly into the pipes, that you can have actual conversations with the ladies up there. He said that you can actually write them as well. How you ask? Well, he said he wrote a little bio of himself, put it in a plastic bag, and flushed it in the toilet. He refers to this process as “sending a kite”, which I feel is a real missed opportunity (why wouldn’t you call it “flying a kite”??). He said if you hold the flusher, that the message goes up a couple of floors and the girls pass it around until someone is interested in him. Then, they begin their courtship. Sounds magical.

And yes, my brother does have schizophrenia, so this story may not be real. But I’d like to think that it is. It seemed real when he was explaining it. My husband suggested that maybe the pipes are full of water, and when he puts the message in the plastic bag, the air carries it upward to the women’s floor. Who knows. It’s prison romance.

And too soon, my visitation time runs out. I’m in my stupid-ass-too-small shirt, and do the walk of shame back out to my car feeling the eyes of many onlookers. I had another engagement to attend after this visit, so I take off my shirt to put my blouse back on and see that when I ripped it off, I also ripped a huge hole in the delicate fabric.

So I decide to call it a day.

Best [Blank] in the World

My husband and I visited my mother the other day at her apartment in the city. It’s small, dingy, and fairly empty inside. It reeks of smoke. We have a seat on the lone living room couch and are having ourselves some small talk. Then I see it. Up on the wall, next to the T.V. There are three framed pink certificates. Quite ornate and very official-looking. I squint my eyes and look harder, trying to read what they say. I see the word “Lover”, panic a little, and avert my eyes. I continue my conversation with my mother while stealthily peaking back up at the center certificate and look away again in horror. I glance at my husband. Yes, he’s staring right at it, unable to turn away. So I just go ahead and put it out there.

“So, uhh, mom, I see you have been awarded a very prestigious award” I say.

“Heh?” she says.

“Best Lover in the World” I respond. “In the WORLD. Wow. What’s the, uh, criteria for something like that, eh?”

“Oh” she laughs, embarrassed. “My girlfriend made me those.” (YES, the girlfriend she is referring to is the same one referenced in Engaged Against Her Will).

“Wow. That. Is. Immmpressive. Best lover in the world.” To my husband I ask, “Where’s my certificate? Certainly, I’m the best in the world at something?” Wink, wink. He responds with awkward laughter. I ask my mom, “How is she these days, your girlfriend? How’s that going? I’m guessing pretty well, judging by the certificate?”

She says “Oh, you know, the usual… we break up, we get back together, fight, break up, get back together, I call the cops on her and get her arrested…”

“Say what?” I ask, interrupting. “What was that last piece you said?”

She proceeds to then tell me the story of the last time they had broken up. Her girlfriend was upset, drunk, and trying to get my mom to let her into the apartment. My mother refused to let her in, so her girlfriend banged on the doors and windows and yelled and cursed for hours until eventually busting one of her windows. So my mom had her arrested. But then, she thought about it and decided that her girlfriend must really love her a lot to have spent all those hours banging and yelling at her door. So they are back together now. You know. The usual relationship stuff.

Later, I think to myself- best lover in the world? Good for her. At least she has that. Because she definitely doesn’t win the “Best Mother in the World” award. But then, I immediately feel like an ass for having that super snarky thought. I’m still working through some of my anger and resentment I feel toward her (see Blood on My Hands).

I’m certainly not the “Best Daughter in the World.” Or the best sister. Or wife. Or anything, really. I beat myself up for not being there for my brother more when his wife took her own life. Over the recent years, I definitely feel like I’ve let all three of my brothers down significantly at various times. I let them down because I was afraid of getting myself hurt again. Or I felt I needed to focus on my own healing or my own relationships. And my brothers looked up to me for support, growing up. I took over the mother-role during our mom’s absence through the years.

So is there actually much of a difference between my mother’s neglect and abandonment and mine in their time of need? I’m not so sure…

Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

vib-award

What an honor! A big thank you to Silence Shattered for the nomination. I’m a big fan of your blog and what it does to bring awareness to the correlation between child abuse and mental illness. I feel that you and I have similar backgrounds and experiences, and reading your blog encourages me to continue to tell my story. And reminds us all that we are not alone.

Rules for accepting the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

  1.  Thank you to the amazing blogger who nominated you, with a link back to their blog (above).
  2.  List the rules and display the award on your blog (here).
  3.  Share seven facts about yourself (below).
  4.  Nominate fifteen other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they’ve been nominated (below).

Seven Facts About Moi (Me):

  1.  I take a long, hot bath every day. No exaggeration. EVERY day. It helps me relax. I read. I meditate (or rather I try to meditate). And I love it. It’s my thing. However, I have the DRIEST skin because of this. My legs are practically scaly – it’s a little embarrassing…
  2.  I volunteer with adults with special needs – it’s my passion. One day at camp, a huge fly flew into the side of my friend’s head. She has Down syndrome. Naturally, she assumed that I had punched her (why would she think that?!). So she yelled, “Heyyy! You punched me!”, and slugged me as hard as she could right in the nose. After I had explained about the fly, she sincerely apologized. It was painful, but funny. Her mother was mortified when I told her.
  3.  I hate vegetables and I’m a grown-ass woman.
  4.  I used to be a hand model.
  5.  I have two Pomeranians. One of them loves to hump her toys. However, because of her size and how she positions herself on the toy, with every hump, she slams her face into the hardwood floor. It looks and sounds very painful and hilarious.
  6.  I am clumsy. I have had many concussions because of this fact. If there is a hole, I will fall in it.
  7.  One of these seven facts is false. The rest are true. Just kidding – they’re all true. Or are they all false? Are you confused?

I now pronounce my nominations for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award: 

  1. http://tinakmeyer.com/ A place, hopefully to inspire you to think, feel and ultimately, to create. It is in creation I feel most whole. I wish that for everyone.
  2. http://anchoredinknowledge.com/ Empowering yourself with Támara Hill, MS, expert on parents, families, & caregivers within the mental health system
  3. http://mziyan.com/ the greatest love of all is mine
  4. http://youllsoonbeflying.com/ Un [-] plugged Honesty while living in a wired world. Construct a life, not a profile. [Re] Connect your heart.
  5. http://theforestforthetreesblog.wordpress.com/ where depression meets ambition
  6. http://frommaybetoalmost.com/ One lost & confused 20-something’s nonsensical account of the nowhereland of not-quite-adulthood.
  7. http://empoweredgrace.wordpress.com/ Learning to Swim in The Alphabet Soup of the DSM
  8. http://feministepoetique.wordpress.com/ A fine WordPress.com site
  9. http://learningtoloveimperfection.wordpress.com/ Just A Girl Trying to Find Her Way to Recovery, Blogging as She Goes
  10. http://alicesperanza.wordpress.com/ Monster
  11. http://crissi23.wordpress.com/ Fighting stigma…living life after almost losing a battle to darkness
  12. http://notsocrazytalk.wordpress.com/ The rantings and life of a bipolar college student, (who is also slightly eccentric…)
  13. http://theartbagladyblog.wordpress.com/
  14. http://healingbeyondsurvival.wordpress.com/ A Blog About Post-Traumatic Growth
  15. http://shiningourlight.org/ Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

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