The Woods

At an early age, I began collecting odd things like rocks, a bag of dirt, a lock of hair, a cuff-link, or anything that I thought would provide proof of my existence. I hid these things in safe places all over my room. I didn’t keep too many of them in one place for fear that someone would find my cache and I would lose my whole collection.

I thought these artifacts could prove where I was, what was happening to me, and who was with me. In my mind, these were my smoking guns.  I was already trying to gain control over my young life and circumstances. I couldn’t have known that years later, these would be precious breadcrumbs for me to follow as I began recovering my repressed childhood memories.

I was living in a world of secrets. I was born into a family with a strong European bloodline. I was indoctrinated into the family rules at a very young age, at the hands of my grandparents, uncle, aunt, and father. The secrets involved inter-generational abuse, incest, and seasonal secret society rituals.

At a very early age, I’d learned to disconnect from myself and either watch what was happening to me from afar or try to project the pain outside of my body. When I was abused at night, I would find a window in the bedroom and imagine the house next door on fire. I saw the flames shooting up the sides of the house in vivid orange and red; the heat and the spiky flames consuming the house. I found a way to externalize and dissociate from the pain and humiliation.

That fire raged outside my window most nights until we moved to Sheridan the summer I was nine.   That fire and my dream of living alone on the lake were my golden thread of survival. That thread kept the pieces of my shattered soul together and gave me the strength I needed to wake up and face another day. My raging fires were imaginary, but there were countless times in my young years that I had witnessed real and frightening rituals. These took place in the fall and spring with a group of six men, five others and my father.

They took place in temple basements, houses, or the woods and once, even in a mausoleum. They were held in the fall and spring of each year around full moons or holidays. They seemed very elaborate in my young mind. The men were dressed in robes, with candles burning and someone holding a staff with an ornate gold medallion on the top. In shadows cast by the candles, they chanted, sometimes handled snakes, and engaged in ritualistic child abuse.

The fall rituals were held in the woods. I may have been taken to the woods before the age of seven, but that year was a turning point for me. I began to understand how dire my situation was becoming. It was a sunny but cool autumn day with brightly colored leaves on the trees. I was sitting next to a teenage girl who told me her name was Jennifer. She looked beautiful to me, with long blond hair that would blow back from her face with the wind. She was wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. She looked to me like a free spirit who belonged at a folk concert singing and dancing, but instead, she was on edge. Just like me, she was a frightened child watching the men in the clearing.

Without warning, Jennifer got up and started running onto the trails to the left of us.  My only thought was to run after her. She veered to the right and I stayed straight. From the sounds of leaves crunching behind me, I knew someone was closing in on me. Before I had time to think, one of the men caught up with me, grabbing me from behind.

He pulled me along the path to meet up with the others who had run after Jennifer. I saw the men standing in a semi-circle. Jennifer was on the ground in front of them. She was lying quiet and still, her pretty blond hair covering her eyes. I don’t know how long I stood there but I do remember one of the men saying to me, “This is what happens to girls who run away.”  As a man led me away from the clearing, I remember wishing that I could have pushed Jennifer’s hair away from her face. I didn’t want her pretty hair to be so messy in front of those men, and I wondered how could she see what was happening to her, with her hair over her eyes.

That thought and her image haunted me into my adulthood. I don’t know for sure what happened to Jennifer that day.  She may have just been knocked out or something more sinister may have befallen her. The men weren’t done with their rituals for the day. They built a fire, carried in a tiny goat that made sounds like a baby, cut its throat and did more ceremony. I remember watching the men with the smoke rising and the smell of burning animal flesh and blood. I remember feeling terrified. Everything seemed to happen so fast that day. What horrified me was that Jennifer was lying in a clearing in the woods, and the men never stopped their perverse festivities.

A few days after the incident in the woods, I took the chance to stray from the safety of my backyard.  I was sitting on my neighbor’s front steps looking at a little mirror with a red plastic case. I looked up and saw my mother storming down the street yelling at me. I panicked when I saw her, dropped the mirror and ran; but not before I heard it shatter on the concrete. My mother shrieked at me as she followed me back to our house. She came in and stood in the kitchen with my father, and I lost it. I started screaming at them that I knew what happened in the woods and that they had killed Jennifer.

My parents became enraged. My mother started toward me and I instinctively turned to run down the two steps leading to the back door, not thinking about the basement steps to the right of me.  I thought I felt a push and the gut-wrenching surprise of losing my balance and falling down the basement stairs. I grabbed the railing to stop myself and felt my hip come down hard as I tugged in the other direction to stop my fall. I groped my way to the bottom of the stairs, hurt and stunned only to look up to see my parents standing on the steps.

My father looked down at me and said, “You are dead to us, and you will never talk about what happened the other day.” I was in pain, confused and terrified but I knew they were serious. They had looks of utter disgust on their faces. I vowed to myself that I would never talk about what happened in the woods and I believed I was dead to them. After what I had witnessed in those woods, I had every reason to believe anything they said. I only was seven years old.

Excerpt from Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

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Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

 

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It’s A Blog-O-Ween! Let’s Party!

Have some fun and meet some new people over at acookingpotandtwistedtales.com/2016/10/29/its-a-blog-o-ween-lets-party. I have met some amazing people during Jacqueline’s meet-n-greet parties.

a cooking pot and twisted tales

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Welcome to my house. I’ll try hard not to terrify you to death 😉

We’ve got Black Magic, Bloody Mary ,Skulls and Bone, Flesh Juice, Crushed Bones, Pickled Veins, Marrow Worms, Boggle The Eyes’ Scary pumpkins etc, etc, Just talk to the ghoul in the house and choose your poison.

Let’s meet & mingle, shake a leg & jingle, connect & interact with other awesome folks in here.

If this is your first-time visit, the house rules of play are outlined below, if you are an old-timer, you know the drill.

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Just some little party rules:

  1. You must mix and mingle with others. Don’t be a wallflower. Go say hello to someone and you can participate in the Tag a poem, a thought or quote below.
  2. Let us know where you are blogging from.
  3.  Please leave your blog link or post link in the comment box below along with introductions.

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Embers of the Afterglow

Turning around to see where I had been

I noticed the sun tending to

the embers of the afterglow.

Etching the memory deep into my mind, and spirit

I walk away with a sigh while filling up with strength and courage

knowing that this is a perfect moment. 

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©Alexis Rose, photo:pixabay

 

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

 

If I Could Tell You How It Feels

It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, hot sunny, snowing or raining.

There is no telling when it’s going to strike.

Are they alive or dead?

Is that pain echoes from the pain long ago that resurfaces with memory?

It’s like being held hostage by your mind

Thinking that today will be the day I am free.

 

I look like everyone else.

I know the difference between right and wrong.

Yet in my head I often can’t remember

the last ten minutes of my life, or what day, year or time it is.

Are those smells real or is that a smell from a place and time when I

Was being held hostage against my will?

Am I really hearing the sounds of helicopters, planes, cicadas and birds?

Or is that the sound coming from a place that no longer exists

and should never be talked about?

 

I want so much to be like everyone else.

So I will keep pulling myself up the rope

Out of the clutches of PTSD

and the skeleton hands of the past that keep trying to pull me down.

I am like everyone else

only my job is to live, so I can live.

That’s all I can ask of myself some days if I’m going to have a future.

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photo: pixabay

 

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

The Waves of Emotion

So much emotion!

I feel thankful, I feel  happy, I feel stunned.

I feel tired, I feel  confused, I feel scared and sometimes terrified.

I feel a sense of peace and connectedness to the world around me.

I feel hope, I feel calm.

I’m full of anxiety, fear, doubt, restlessness.

I am up, I am down, I am happy and I am sad. I feel fear, I am content. 

I feel so many emotions that sometimes I’m not sure how to deal with any of them. So instead of trying to deal with them, I’m learning to let each one pass through me as they come.

Emotions; We all have them, and they come and go like waves. Some of them are little sets of gentle ripples and some are as intense as a tsunami. Waves come and waves go, each breaking on the shore and each is time limited. 

I have learned to sit with the emotion, to understand that even the most intense feelings will soon ebb. The emotion won’t take up all the space in my body, mind, and soul.

When I feel them begin to rise, I try for control. I want to balance perfectly and ride them to the shore with ease. That’s not life, even the most eloquent and prophetic surfer wipes out. It’s okay because soon another emotional set of waves will come soon enough. That’s normal, natural, human nature. 

I feel grateful.

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photo: pixabay

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

 

What’s a house got to do with it?

Most of us remember the nuances of the houses we grew up in. We know the nooks and crannies, and the sounds the house makes when it settles and groans. We know the clicking noise of the furnace kicking in, the whistling sound of the wind blowing through the windows, and how the gate slams as someone makes their way to the door. We can trust our way in the dark during power outages or to sneak food from the refrigerator at midnight because we know where the furniture is and where the stairs begin and end.

I lived in three different houses growing up, the first two in Michigan and the third in Minnesota. Each move brought more carpeting.  I lost the early warning system that wooden floors and creaky steps gave me as the carpet grew wall-to-wall.

The first nine years of my life I lived in Grant. I remember everything about that house. I could draw it in great detail; actually, I could draw all three houses in great detail. I liked this house the best, not only because the floors and stairs were wooden and creaky, but because I shared it with all my siblings at the same time. My parent’s attention was divided between the four of us children. When I was nine and we moved to the suburbs, the attention shifted away from my siblings and the spotlight fell directly on me.

Inside that first house, my bedroom was my refuge because of the windows. My sister and I had beds beneath the two windows looking out towards the front of the house. There was another window with a window-seat on the side of the room that faced the neighbor’s house. During the day, I would sit on the window-seat and read. Most nights as I lay in bed, I would turn my head towards that same window and imagine fire consuming the side of the neighbor’s house; intense bright orange flames licking high into the air. I was young but I was already finding ways to externalize the pain that was coursing through my body.

The living room was large and filled with gray furniture covered in thick plastic that you stuck to in the summer and froze on in the winter. The dining room had a fireplace along one wall, double glass doors leading to a porch, and a swinging door leading into the kitchen. That swinging door would make an earsplitting banging sound when an angry parent would smack it open when coming into or going out of the dining room. The kitchen had ugly dark green linoleum and two steps leading from it that either led you outside or if you turned right, led you down a steep set of stairs into the basement. The basement had a large room where the boys would use their wood burning sets and a corner where my father had his easel set up, a place where he would draw charcoal portraits of the family and neighbors.

Aside from the linoleum in the kitchen and the concrete of the basement, the rest of the house had hardwood floors and stairs. A few area rugs covered the center of the rooms but they did nothing to mask the sound of people walking or climbing the stairs.

The backyard seemed huge to me as a little girl.  We had a few apple trees, cattails growing behind the garage, and a round swimming pool. I remember the wild raspberries that grew against the chain link fence.

I played alone in that backyard for long periods of time. My refuge was behind the garage in a corner along the neighbor’s fence. There I stayed hidden, out of sight from all the windows on the back of the house and the porch. Standing behind the garage, hearing my heart beat like a hummingbird, I petted the cattails that grew by the fence. I picked the tiny purple violets to make bouquets that I would grip as tightly if they were my last friends in the world. I didn’t care that they wilted with the heat of my hands; I just wanted to look at the delicate petals and drink in their color. It was a solitary existence but solitary was far better than any kind of attention that I received inside of that house.

The energy inside our house was super-charged. Tension crackled in the air like electricity, no matter how many of us were inside. If there wasn’t some kind of abuse going on, there was a silence that hung so thick and heavy that I would find myself looking down at the floor, or fidgeting, not knowing what to do with your hands. Opera or classical music sometimes blared from the stereo, a macabre contrast to the silence. At other times the volume of the music would alert us to what was going to happen next; the rising crescendo seemed to egg my parents on and steel us for explosive abuse.

excerpt from, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

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Thank you for reading Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856