Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Scarlet Letter ~ Imperfection is OK?

Well, the reindeer games can get pretty intense - dancing, figuring out the parameters of relationships. 
So often, I feel like I don't belong here; that I really don't fit anywhere.  The feeling is always present.  I don't think I'm enough for anyone to want to be with.  How is that possible?  We all belong.  Yet, some days I miss the mark. The pursuit of perfection is infuriating and paralyzing.  Every fiber of my being physically shakes from the intensity in  situations that I cannot prepare for.  The upset is so extreme that I'm unable to calm myself for a few seconds.  Calm down. Nothing is worth this anguish.
Organized on the outside, frazzled within.  The fierce pursuit of exactness in word choice and foot placement is exhausting.  Every mistake is exaggerated to the extreme making perfection that less achievable.  
I concede.  Where is my strength now?  I tried to stand my ground to no avail.  Damn it.  Why is the cost of freedom, no matter what the level, so high.  I choose to step up and be counted to be thrust back once again. 

I will not give up.  

I'm headed back to the mountain again, seeking the summit. As I top the last rise and absorb the breathtaking valleys below, I envision serene peace.  I have to do more.  Trying before, wasn't enough and I know that now.  I may not be able to execute with perfect, definitive steps, but I'm certain to reach my destination.  The only thing to matter at this point is 'get it done'.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Opening The Box ~ Not Enough, Yet

My reflections are grave at this point.  Recently I have come to recognize the extent of denial I allowed myself to accept in order to recover up to this point.   But now, admitting what was done to protect me was NOT in the best interest of my child also forces me to accept the action that separated me from my abuser wasn't enough!  I do understand that publicity of the tragedy of my life at 16 would have added unfathomable criticism to tremendous injury.  But want lie beneath the decision, truly?  Survival of the family? Obviously, not. Survival of the victims... maybe.
Some where in my recollections, my Mom shared some things she did at the time to help her decide what the right thing to do would be.  She met with two small town medical doctors who blew off her inquiries with 'Aw, don't worry about it.  It happens all the time'.  Her shock to the responses was apparent . She never dreamed she would hear what these men said when she made the appointments to discuss the incest discovery.  I imagine her level of disbelief was as unfathomable as my own when I heard her say those words to me.  
Trigger... flashback...
David Fowler, 'Why do we need a bill like this?  This only happens in poor families,' said matter-of-factly to one of my attorneys in the early Tennessee legislative session of 1996 in reference to my bill before the legislature that would extend the statute of limitations for child abuse survivors to 35 in his home state.
How have I rationalized and desensitized myself to the thought that anything short of criminal punishment is all right?  My fire WAS just smoldering, but NOT today.  My fire is blazing.  I am prompted to action: letters to Senators, House Representatives and other advocates.  Is it time to mandate at the federal level, NO statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse for all states?  Is that possible?  Around 35 years of age is when victims of child sexual abuse start to understand the depth and breadth of the damage done and only then, can they start to heal from the trauma.  
One letter already sent.  Another e-mail sent just a few minutes ago.  I'm scared, yes.  But, if I don't speak out, I'm letting the perpetrators win.
I fell into a pattern of excusing the abuser, what ever the situation ~ how twisted is that? I have to consciously  recognize how I allow people to stomp on me, take advantage of me, squish me out like I'm not important. My self worth isn't listed among their priorities, therefore, what is important to me doesn't warrant even my own time and attention.  How do you get that back?
By doing this... plummeting to depths of depression into the most horrific memories to arise strong enough to battle.
Challenging what, you might ask? Some laws of this land. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Scarlet Letter ~ A For Abuse

A friend of mine asked me if I had started my blog yet, and I said 'Yes'. She asked how come I hadn't shared the site with her and my immediate answer spouted 'embarassed and ashamed'. 'Of what?' she asked. 'How the hell I ended up where I was that night I went to jail.' I responded.
She quoted my previous entry 'that's what it took for you'. Clearly, a comrade who had traveled a parallel path. Then she said, 'this is for you, right?' 'The blog is. Right', I answered. 'Then don't worry about what other people think' she chimed with an attitude she had picked up from her own treacherous, hell-filled past.
My scarlet letter - the intense feeling that surely someone could SEE something was wrong with me, that I had been damaged... much like the scarlet letter sewn to the bodice of Hester Prynne's dress, an uppercase "A".  Hawthorne's  The Scarlet Letter "A" symbolizes her sin of adultery for everyone to see.
I carried a similar badge of shame and embarrassment only my "A" stood for ABUSE.  Hester Prynne's attempts to break free of  her past is similar to the path I walked then.  She is shunned by society and I grew up with extreme sense of estrangement from the human race.  I felt so different, it seemed I would never fit in anywhere.  I had to keep friendships at arms length; too close and my secret could be revealed and then, there would be all kinds of hell to pay.
I remember once I was shocked to hear a friend say to me, "you're so closed and aloof most of the time.  I really don't know you at all".  Apparently, I didn't let anyone close to me.  It's the only way I felt safe.  The abuse was a tremendous betrayal of trust and I couldn't bear going through the loss of stability and love again.  Distance afforded me that safety net.  More on this later.
No longer a badge of shame and embarrassment, but a badge of courage signifying perseverance and strength.  Marked forever, but not defeated.  I do not wear my badge proudly for no one should suffer child sexual abuse.  I no longer have to hide the trauma.  It did make me who I am today.  And I am proud to have survived!

Friday, November 4, 2011

21 Gun Salute ~ Amazing Grace

I must admit coming back here and recalling this memory on paper has been tremendously difficult.  I realize I've been silent for a bit, but that's the reason ~ I couldn't bring myself to write what follows. 
I recently attended a memorial service of an acquaintance and relived moments of the day my own father was buried.  
The sound of music flowed through the doorway like a magic carpet floating slowly, wafting silently into the pew filled viewing room.  Bagpipes projecting 'Amazing Grace' startled me.  I was unprepared for the tears that followed...  For forty-five minutes, steady droplets escaped uncontrollably from the outer edges of my eyes to be captured by tissue-holding hands.  I tried desperately to stop, but could not.  Why now, why today?
Please don't take me back there... to his funeral long ago.  I am reminded of the turmoil I felt that far ago day.  Go, don't go!  Go. Don't Go. Not realizing I had options, choices that I could make that were good for me, healthy choices, I went.  The obligation stood fore front and pushed me onward that day.  Scurrying to the graveside, peering at the casket, gently stepping into the place allotted for me, I stood and listened as the music soared, loyal supporter of the military man who fought for 'freedom' for me and my country. The man who fought in two wars: Vietnam and Korea.  The man who moved in and out of lives according to orders he received.  Gone almost as much as he was present.    Mistaken by the honor guard as the flag recipient for this veteran, I redirected a symbol of my imprisonment to his second wife sitting 3 chairs from me. 
I was conditioned to obey when he lived.  I was conditioned to go places I did not want to go and do things I did not want to do.  His conditioning would impact my life long after he was gone.  A part of me needed to be at my Dad's funeral.  The rest of me wanted to make sure he was dead; to confirm he would not hurt ANYONE ever again.
When the first round of gunfire blasted into the summer air, my body jolted as bullets catapulted from the seven rifles pointed skyward.  I turned to see a formal line of soldiers awaiting their command 'Ready, Aim, Fire' again and then again, one last final time.  A twenty-one gun salute ~ that's what this soldier received.  Burial in a veteran's cemetery with honors with the American flag flying high... 
While I sat listening to childhood stories of a mother's love for a daughter, there was no 21 gun salute, yet I felt as if I were standing in the sun watching my father's graveside burial in a time decades ago.
Looking back, I understand how important it was for me to face this monster one last time.  I shudder now thinking of the power his corpse seemed to hold on me that afternoon when I went alone to view what others would witness later that evening.  An overpowering compulsion overtook me.  I took a picture of his lifeless, medal adorned uniform encased body in the casket before me.  How morbid is that?  Not sure what that was about with the exception that I had proof he was dead.  Gone forever.  Never to harm again.

How can one love and hate so much, in a single moment?  This conundrum never dies for a survivor betrayed by someone you trust. We'll leave this for another day.

In the future I hope to be able to listen to 'Amazing Grace' and not break down from the physical reminders that flared unexpectedly just a week ago.  I'll know where it is coming from and, hopefully, I will remember to self-affirm, that is not what rules my life now.  And I am thankful.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Opening The Box ~ Found: Exhibit 1

FOUND: Exhibit 1 ~ A Collection of Letters.  A couple of days ago I opened the box and I spent about an hour sifting, wondering which direction the next blog entry would take.  You know, I have to make myself sit in the floor, very close to the work, breathe, and then, take the lid off.  Each pass seems to be more than I want to bear.
I began to leaf through the letters... there were so many... 32 pounds of mail according to Judge ML ~ of which she was responsible for reading every word.  Tears started down both cheeks.  I auto-shifted into full scan mode.  My eyes filled.  The pages blurred beneath trickling tear drops.  I didn't get up for a tissue because I knew I wouldn't sit back down.  My t-shirt sleeve would do for now.
The page turns to Bill's letter to the court.  I discover he's a fellow alumni, as well as one of the university's campus psychiatrists in the early 80's when he was getting started with his now prominent career.
Bill explains to Judge ML that during the time in the months following the accident, he prescribed antabuse, a drug that has been used by alcoholics to help stop drinking since the early 1950's.  He also reveals that antabuse shouldn't be continued indefinitely due to it's toxic nature - ahem, what?
Toxic? I never knew. Trigger...
I am reminded of Jim asking me "what would I do, what could I do" as we sat there the first day we met.  To be honest, I don't recall an answer.  Seems like "I'll never drink again" entered my mind, but I don't remember saying the same out loud.  I do, however, remember Jim's suggestion.  He recommended to my doctor  that I take antabuse.
Another drug to fix me.  Surrounded by drugs to alter this and cease that behavior runs a mind bender on someone if they have never taken drugs.  I didn't like being given these things and much less being expected to take them without question.
The generic name of antabuse is disulfiram.   If you drink while taking antabuse, you get  sick to your stomach, not just nauseated, vomiting sick. All I knew is I'd do anything to stay sober.  And so, I took it.
I also prayed that night for God to take the urge to drink from me. AND HE DID!
I have not touched a drop of alcohol from the day after the accident to this one.  There have been moments, sure, when stinkin' thinkin' pops into my brain, and I'd be lying if I said there weren't.  But, the physical addiction that I've heard some speak of was not an obstacle for me.  The urges were gone.
I knew that I must follow Jim's directives.  Ingesting drugs to prevent me from drinking seemed just the thing to prove I would do anything to get better.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Scarlet Letter ~ You're the Daughter

So many little things impact the experiences of our life.  I reach over to refold the RED t-shirt slung over the back of my office chair. Yes, RED. I never wore red, ever, before. Freshman level high school reading included Nathanial Hawthorne's THE SCARLET LETTER which left me thinking that all the world would know my secret if I wore a crimson-shaded color. No letter required, red would bring attention and as I tried vehemently to blend in with all the normals, I thought it would make me stand out and that's the last thing I wanted. Damn it - every slant of self-recrimination lends to it the idea I am the result of the sum total of my experiences. How do I contend with that moment by moment?
"You're the daughter" was just one of these moments.
Jim stopped mid-stairway with an abruptness that startled me as I sat waiting in the foyer of his massive law office with anticipation. He pondered the possibility, "I know who you are..." What did he mean? How did he know me? Jim tread down the remaining steps closing the distance between us.  There is nothing that prepares you for the truth like it was presented to me that day.  I had become a bit unnerved.  It was like he knew my secret somehow. But how could he?  Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what came next.  His remark, "your the daughter!" made no sense to me.   He continued by saying he had been my mother's divorce attorney.  How does that happen?  Divorce attorney turned criminal defense attorney?  What can explain the chain of events that had to have occurred to be in that moment in those circumstances - I have no explanation, only faith, that this is how it was supposed to be.  Me here, needing this man to help me get my life back.  Someone who knew long ago that "I was the daughter, being abused".  Recently, I learned that my mother and Jim decided that publicity of this story would destroy my life.  Little did we all know at the time, the horror I survived had almost done that already.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What It Took ~ Handful of Heroes

I talked to Jim yesterday... just felt like reaching out to him to ask some questions and did. No hesitation. Of course, he was in court. I didn't expect a return call until afternoon. Well, now I had time to ponder what to say... why get anxious?
Jim is one of, what I like to call, a "handful of heroes" in my life. He is one I asked for help. He did everything in his power to lessen the severity of this mess I was in. I decided to dive into some work to keep me from isolating on the conversation to come. It worked.
When Jim returned my call, I had forgotten about it all together. He greeted me with "what are you doing now? it has been some time since I've seen you. How are you doing?" I caught him up with the phenomenal work situation. I could hear his smile through the phone line. He sounded pleased to hear about my Master of Accountancy milestone. I never dreamed I would be able to get through a master's program. I have been so rewarded.
Jim reflected that I would just be getting off parole right about now if things had turned differently. I stopped and let the reality of his statement sink in, but I didn't grasp the emotional connection until the very moment this was written. WOW. That would not have been a show stopper, but a life stopper instead. Why the second chance?
There were seconds of silence that hung on the wire, yet I saw this opportunity to open up the reason for my call. I let Jim know I had googled him about 6 months ago, had driven by his old office and saw it vacant. I double checked google days ago with the same search and discovered Jim's new office address.
I asked, "do you still have the records for my case?". He answered that the records were in storage and he couldn't ensure the condition of the records because the storage began before environment and temperature controlled storage existed. Estimated cost = $100.00. Jim told me Laurie is the go to for setting up the details. Complete chronological ordered proofs for supporting the finer details going forward - another box to get the lid off of. An entire collection of related materials for future research all in one place. So, gathering this collection is all things accident. Sifting, I expect, will be tremendously difficult.
Lastly, Jim asked "Could you do me a favor?" He went on to explain the judge that heard my case was retiring in the near term. He asked me to write Judge M L with an update on where I am today. He thinks it would really make her feel accomplished for the second chance she gave me. My God, how do you tell someone they are a hero. I am writing the letter... taking action these days to be the better me I can be! Tomorrow I follow up about the second box that needs a lid to come off.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Opening The Box ~ Every Day Meetngs

Jim was going to have to do an awful lot to get my smile back. I had really done it. Six counts in various forms and degree of charges all consisting of vehicular assault were staggering to me when he finally shared the severity of the circumstances. The words began to blur and finally, I don't think I even heard large chucks of what was being said. I was astounded by the charges and could not fathom how there could be six.
And more importantly, why was this man willing to help me? I had agreed to pay him all the money I had. I still found it hard to believe at the time. 
There were two or three people I knew that I could count on up to this point in my life. Why had they chosen to help me?  Did they see promise in me?. I didn't feel it myself, but they had faith that I was worth it. They recognized something in me that I didn't see in myself. I was worth saving?
So, how did I even begin to tell this stranger what was below the felonious charges. Did it matter? Certainly didn't seem to at the time. There were forms to fill out and documents to sign. "There are certain things you need to understand", he said. 'If I catch you drinking, or in a bar, even near a bar, I will fire myself from your case", he continued. "attend 12 step meetings every day..." his words trailed off as I jolted from the suggestion.
Did he say meetings a day? Yes. He had.  Without hesitation.
How in the world was I going to do that? I had a job to go to and bills to pay. There were already 2 and 3 psychotherapy visits a week since April that year. And I had joined a closed group that took one night a week too. I was up to my eyeballs with talking. I was tired of it... carrying it... thinking about it....discussing it. But I was being told the only way to get past it was to go through it. it? The pain, the memories and what it caused. That's what I was doing here in the hospital: focused, direct work specifically designed to deal with trauma.
And now, more? Sure enough, that very night I traveled to the lighthouse. There was coffee and cookies and circled chairs into which I was herded for the top of the hour silence signaling the beginning: Hi, I'm Ginger. Not so freeing a statement as one would expect. Sounded kind of anti-climactic since there was so much more. How could I tell these people what was the source of my drinking?
I couldn't imagine working this program based on what I was hearing from the group either. How could I possibly be exonerated from the charges against me with all the honesty required here. I'd be nailing my own coffin shut. The truth sounded like 6 years x 2 in jail by default. Can you say rock and hard place?  Bleak outlook is all I could think about.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Opening the Box ~ Uncovering Skeletons

It is not just opening the box and discovering the past that will contribute to this blog, but also sharing conversations I'm having with those close to me. Those who knew me when my life was dealt so many horrible blows. And those who knew me when I was out of control and contributing to the trouble I faced. I had the opportunity to spend a tremendous amount of time with my mother this past weekend and uncovered extensive details related to some of the documents that I have "filed" (separated into stacks) from the storage box. Previously I blogged about some medical records. The ones I passed over several weeks ago were mine. Those that I spoke to my mom about were my father's. See, he was killed in a motorcycle accident 19 years ago, shortly after my recovery journey began. One of the civil cases removed from the box is a wrongful death suit. The trucking company responsible for the truck driver that ran over my dad, was sued by my dad's second wife. I joined the wrongful death suit in a separate filing so as NOT to have to consolidate my efforts with his widow. We didn't see eye to eye, she and me. As a result, my attorney requested my father's medical records to determine his state of well being and health. Much to my surprise, I read how depressed a man he was. He didn't want to do much of anything... and he was on anti-depressants and anxiety medication when he died. I also discovered where he had a second vasectomy. This little detail and correction of a problem which happened with early vasectomies lends itself significantly to my story and therefore, is mentioned here. Mom had no clue and was shocked to find out. And here I thought, all this time, she knew. She in turn surprised me with a shocker too. My father had been institutionalized for 30 days after returning from war in Korea. Guess two tours of duty, first to Vietnam and then to Korea may have been to much for him to handle. Come to find out, she said, they wanted to kept him indefinitely, but he manipulated them to think nothing was wrong. I never expected to hear about the shape he was in on returning from war. This truth endorsed what I already knew.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Opening The Box ~ Sorting Rquired

Back to the box for more sorting I go. I’m determined to surface scan the letters and quickly place it the appropriate stack by case to avoid tangential thoughts pulling me away from my task. I’m counting five so far but scanning tells me there is more here than even I imagine. Some letters contain only court filed case documents that update this case or that. Filtering quickly to words referring to plaintiff and defendant and appeal becomes rote. 
Damn, hidden in amongst the letters were medical records. ‘Don’t open it’ is my first thought. I’ve looked at it before. I would not see anything that I had not read before.  I sit quietly for some time just holding the envelope. 
Dr. Curtis, I remember the name now that I scanned the first page. 
Stop… put it down… choose not to go there today. 
I visualize Bill’s handwritten note ”Stop doing what you are doing; by definition you will be doing something different.” 
Focus on sorting. It's all I can do to put it down on the thinnest stack. I feel a pull toward the mystery, do I remember everything that happened to me? NO. Is it important now? NO. Putting it down. 
What is important is confirmation of my truth. Yes, I was battered and bruised and scarred for life. I am sad that this burden must always be carried by me.  You made me think I was the one at fault - guess that is the most difficult part - it was NEVER my fault!
There will be a time when I will be able to share the details, but not now. It's too personal, still.
Sifting becomes easier once I start recognizing names: Jim - criminal, Duncan - civil, Rob - estate, Wanda - civil, Joe - Senator, whoa, wait, he's not an attorney. There are more letters like these... hmmmmm... separate category all together... legislative effort. 6 stacks so far. Geeeeez. Overwhelming.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Perspective ~ Summer 78

Life to Death

Time is wasted,
things are abused,
lives are destroyed;

Time doesn't matter,
things are unimportant,
life is meaningless;

Time does matter,
people hold importance,
life has meaning;

No matter ~
all ends in death.

Looking at this scribbing astonishes me. If anyone had seen the way I described life, bells would have gone off. Surely there would have been recognition that something was terribly wrong here. But no one saw it. It went unshared until now. Looks pretty morbid to me.
I admit now, how unaware I was myself until that first meeting with Jim during my hospital stay. Jim visited to make sure I followed certain guidelines, but my past dictated something altogether different. And that's what Jim was told.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What It Took ~ I am amazed

I am amazed each day that is mine now, to live!
If you have been reading posts over the past month and wondering where all this leads, now seems to be the time to share where I am now. I AM AMAZED by all the support and assistance I was given to be where I am today. The biggest piece of advice I can give back is to ask someone for help, just ask for help. AND, be willing to do everything (interpreted, work very, very, very hard) to turn life in another direction. Give up anything that gets in the way of getting it right. And be ready to LISTEN and learn new ways to deal with what you encounter on recovery road.
I sit quietly sometimes to soak in the peace and serenity of the day. Long ago are the memories of hyper-alert jerking and hearing the ticktock of the clocks. I try to be receptive to the road presented me. Accept my greater good. I believe one person can make a DIFFERENCE. The hope is that I help ONE who has suffered, or may be suffering now.
Yeah, sounds a bit cheesy, but I'm driven to try to make a difference. The untenable circumstances and overpowering evidence that has been collected over a lifetime pushes me. I have proof of the traumas I survived ~ rare and damning proof of betrayal that spun my life out of control. Getting the lid OFF of the box is a regular event now. Transcripts and medical records collected over a decade ago, now making sense of those words reread. Some things remembered, some things not. That's to be expected.
My biggest news for the week is the offer of support I found in my e-mail. Out of the blue, an individual with similarities of life to mine, stepping up to help if she can. This time, I didn't even ask. I'm not the only one, there are others like me. And others that want to stand together for a chance to make a difference too. The empowerment is mind blowing.
I thank GOD every day!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What It Took ~ Bad Things Happen

No, he didn't handcuff me when he told me to sit in the back seat of the cruiser with the passenger door left ajar. There was no reading me my rights until well after arrival at the station. I was allowed to sit hands free in the bull pin where the officer took my statement. 'Walking in the street' was the only thing I clearly needed to relay. But the cop wouldn't hear me... he kept talking on his radio and to other cops in the room and then on the phone. What is happening here... the room seems hazy with cloudy air? I catch only one sided conversations that seem distant from all the thoughts swirling in my mind. It was an accident.
Yes, the strobe flash from the mug shot camera appeared like lightening bolts to my retinas. Geez, how many did they need, three, four... I lost count. The incarceration attendant commented about the smell perforating the tiny photo room. Next stop, holding cell. It was just me, at first, but the night was still young. The accident had occurred around 5:45 and daylight still shown when we arrived at the police station. I was certain by now it was dark outside, but that didn't matter right now because it was darker inside. I wanted to die. I wasn't a bad person. Bad things had happened to me, but I had always chosen to turn the other cheek instead of retaliation even though rage penetrated my every cell. Tears fell. I don't know for how long. Seemed endless.
How had I gotten here?
In jail, or to this point in my life, you ask?

This blog is about both!

Friday, August 5, 2011

What It Took ~ Two Weeks Earlier II

I'm trying to ignore this particular post because of the difficulty I'm having putting my words down. These words have been written before. Do I go look for the handwritten sheets that carry with them a plunge to the past, a black day, the bottom of a spiral started the day before? Well, I'm off to look for some history to bring clarity to this picture. I was considered your classic 'GOOD GIRL': good grades and lots of extra activities including gymnastics, cheer-leading, track, newspaper staff, math club, choir and various plays and other athletics. You know, top 10% of my class kind of good. Type A++ personality (big pluses) to keep everyone from knowing I had a secret. My masquerade presented not a care in the world attitude with over-achiever energy and aggressiveness. There couldn't possibly be anything wrong with this picture. Right?
OK, I'm gone to look for it. Really.
The Pivotal Moment:
Pause... Yes, it took me over 24 hours to dig through the box to find DRAFT1 (Ch 1).
I had disabled system security for the departed coworkers the night before. The list of names weighed heavily on my mind. Long faces and depressed attitudes greeted me as I arrived at work the following day. Everyone was whispering about the previous days events. No one dared speak it out loud for fear that more layoffs may ensue. "We are the survivors!" These words echoed in my mind. As the day progressed, I grew more and more depressed. As the hours drug on, some broached the subject with caution, then later, outright discussion. As I reflect on that day, I realize the impact of management's word choice. Human resources put a positive spin on the event by implying being a survivor was positive. But my experience reveal something completely different.
I was almost home... the end of a long hard week... to my apartment up around the next curve. The maroon vehicle in front of me swerved abruptly into the left lane and then back. I topped the hill and as the hood of my blue Skylark leveled out, I saw a white utility van in the oncoming traffic headed my way. And then, on the shoulder of road in the lane I'm driving in, I glimpse a person. An instant was all there was to brake with no place to go.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What It Took ~ Two Weeks Earlier

Thursday afternoon the news arrived abruptly without notice, an organizational meeting in the auditorium for some sort of announcement. Not uncommon for a fast growth industrial contractor, but there was an odd air through out the room as we waited for the news of the day. Nutshell: there was a 20% reduction in work force at this location and the people that are missing in this meeting were being escorted from the premises while we convened in the company auditorium.  I scanned the room quickly to see if co-workers that I worked closely with were in the room. There's Shirley, Jim and Wayne. Where's Cathie? My breath shortened as the realization hit me that she wasn't in the crowd gathered here. Oh, shit. I felt really bad for her. I recall thinking "and she just bought that new house." Somehow trading places with Cathie was what I thought I deserved. I certainly didn't feel like I should have made the cut. And the carefully worded speech about how to deal with the layoffs was predefined to include an uplifting phrase "you are the survivors". That just seemed extreme in its description to me, a very strange way to spin the loss of so many that needed jobs. The numbness set in.

The following day at work carried a sullen demeanor. Everyone that remained got a little guidance about how to deal with loss of the previous day. Little idioms that were supposed to uplift our spirits were passed via e-mail.

"We are the survivors" were words Sharon spoke that echoed in my ear as I placed the receiver back in the cradle, totally unaware of the subsequent regressive transition from business professional to victim one bright, fall afternoon. Thinking, "you have no idea what survivor means" briefly flashed in my brain.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Opening the Box ~ The Carnival Ride

Who knew I'd be 12 steppin' before the end of this carnival ride. He asked why I hadn't been to any meetings and I'm thinking, well, I seem to be attending a lot of group sessions... and they certainly didn't seem to be meetings as was his reference. Drawing sessions, group discussions and team building exercises splattered without pattern each week with daily regimes tied to tight schedules. Can you say being herded like cattle from place to place hourly from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm? I got aggravated with no real down time through the days during my stay. And if you didn't respond promptly, well, let's just say, I did what I always did, exactly what I thought everyone else wanted. Go to a session, talk about issues. Draw a picture, recall some epiphany. Take a Rorschach test, discover you lean toward the mystical, dreamy side of life. Not a surprise! But sitting on the little white bus being carted around to meetings and back, well, color me surprised. Jim made sure I made every possible 12 step meeting I could go to by the time I departed the hospital. He said, "I'll get your smile back for you" was all I could remember for a long time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Opening The Box ~ First Glance Inside

From cardboard to file cabinet to plastic boxes, they moved with me: letters that recorded history, some unopened, many unread. Sitting down on the carpet and lifting the lid, feeling the heaviness of those years being too much to bear, I tossed the box lid to floor. It was done – I had opened the box of pain in pursuit of closure.

This is the journey.

I met Jim the first time while I was spending some quality time in a psychiatric hospital some years back. He was a yellow pages kind of attorney. Pure happenstance. Having not been in any trouble before; I figured “what could it hurt?” meeting with him here before I had to face the outside world again. His burly appearance only added to overwhelming height which intimidated me into silence. Speak only when spoken to seem to be the safest route at this point, so I waited for him to speak.