putting myself out there
open and freely
may i always be honest
with you and myself
when you read me
will you understand who I am
can you see beneath the shell
polished by years of dysfunction
and decades of destruction
aimed towards oblivion
when you discover me
will you let me be who i’m meant to be
an incredible, unique, flawed, special, human
meant for better than what i got
can you risk yourself opening
to a world shared and supported
will you grasp that it takes love and nurture
to be whole with me
would you trust me
on this journey
laying on her side
focusing outside herself
outside the window
at the moon
him on her bed
on her youth
close to her face
intimate, like she’s his wife
laced with beer
scaring this ten year old
into a world
for which she was not equipped
fear gripping every inch of her
‘leave already’ she wishes to herself
not knowing what to do
when he, whom she trusts,
severs the line of decency
*Note – While this was a true event, the child was not raped, thank goodness. However, it left some emotional scars, and trust was broken as certain boundaries were crossed.
Shielding Kylie, Kathy, who was trying to remain calm but beginning to lose it, yelled loudly, “What the hell did you do to my daughter, Susan?!?
Tom hadn’t been able to get anything out of her because she couldn’t stop saying she was sorry and crying hysterically. Kathy’s demand snapped her to attention.
“I went into her room to check on her, just wanting to look in on her,” Susan said hoarsely, the tears still flowing from her eyes. “Is she okay?”
“WHAT DID YOU DO?!?” Tom piped up; his agitation was very evident.
Susan’s gaze dipped down, “I took her out of her swaddle blanket. It looked so warm. I thought she would be more comfortable and could move her arms better!”
Tom and Kathy looked at each other guiltily, realizing they had entirely overreacted, thinking Susan intentionally hurt Kylie. They immediately calmed down. Susan was only trying to be considerate of the baby. Kylie had managed to wedge herself up against the rails independently, not due to anything Susan had done.
“Oh my gosh, forgive us for yelling so harshly, we thought you had done something to Kylie because you said you didn’t mean to hurt her! We thought you had done something to her! But it wasn’t your fault that Kylie was crying, not at all!” Kathy looked at Susan with remorse on her face, hoping Susan would calm down.
Tom squeezed Susan on the shoulder. “Yeah, please stop crying, it’s okay now. Kylie is the one who got herself in this mess. She was probably wriggling more freely, managing to crawl towards the mattress’s edge, and lodged herself in tight. It’s totally not your fault!”
Susan looked up at Tom and Kathy, sensing they weren’t mad and her crying eased up. “When I heard her screaming, I got so worried. We all know I’ve have not always been the best person in the world. I thought you would hate me or, worse, leave. I was terrified of that happening!”
They immediately took Susan in their arms. All was forgiven, and smiles returned to all their faces. Well, not Kylie’s.
Later in their bedroom, Tom and Kathy snuggled under the covers.
“You know, Tom, I believe you can say we were ‘dipped in yellow’ tonight!“
Tom looked at her funny. “Huh?”
“Do you remember when I told you what my friend Jennifer, the psych nurse, said? They nicknamed unstable people that since yellow tended to be the mentally ill’s favorite color. Ring a bell now?”
“Oh, yeah!” Tom replied. “We were a bit extreme today, weren’t we? I guess this was the other shoe we thought had dropped.”
“Gosh, we were stupid, weren’t we?”
“No, we were protective parents, and there is nothing wrong with that. But I am glad that Susan did nothing wrong.”
“Yeah, me too. We need to start believing that everything will work out.”
Tom yawned, “Can I get a rain check for our planned roll in the hay?”
“Well, yeah, it’s not like I’m in the mood anymore!” Kathy laughed. On that note, Tom kissed Kathy good night and rolled over.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Thanks so much for your participation! See you next month!
Six months later
Kathy got real serious and turned to Tom, “You know I hate to say I was wrong, but I think I spoke too harshly about Susan previously. I’m sorry I fought you so hard on moving in with her in the beginning. We’re all getting along; she’s so wonderful with Kylie, and everything I was worried about before has just not materialized. Our living arrangement is working out beautifully! Would you forgive me?”
Tom’s look conveyed that he could relate, and his hug reassured Kathy that he wasn’t in the slightest upset about it. “Yep, totally agree with you. This whole situation turned out a lot better than I thought it would too. The main suspicions I had are gone. But do you have this little voice in your head saying, ‘When is the other shoe going to drop?’ like I do?”
“Yeah,” Kathy nodded in agreement, “I do. I’m very proud of Susan; her turnaround has been remarkable, but still.” She let out a big sigh. “The bonus is that you got your sister back, and Kylie has gained an aunt who she clearly adores. Maybe we should just focus on the fact that we are very fortunate in that respect.”
“You’re right. I will do my best to tell that voice to shut up,” Tom said with a smile. Kathy laughed and kissed him on the forehead.
“Good!” Tom pulled her down for a deeper kiss that was suggestive of things to come. Right then, a loud, high-pitched cry came across the monitor. Kylie, with her perfect timing, interrupted what decidedly wanted to head in a different direction. “I’ll take care of her, but you remember this when we go to bed tonight,” Kathy said with a wicked smile. She turned and started walking towards the room, just then Susan came running down the hall, yelling, “Get out of my way!” almost knocking her down. Kathy steadied herself with her right hand on the wall.
“Susan, are you ok, what’s the matter?” she yelled back. Susan didn’t stop. Kathy yelled for Tom to intervene because Kylie was still screaming. She required her attention first. As soon as she stepped into the room, she could see Kylie was pinned up against the crib’s slats, desperately arching her back to get free but not succeeding. ‘Poor baby,’ Kathy thought, ‘this explains your screaming! You were probably terrified.’ Kathy picked up Kylie and realized the wood had left a deep red impression on her face. Kathy rubbed it gently to soothe her. As she calmed down, Kathy’s thoughts turned to Susan. ‘What the hell was going on with her?’
Kathy went looking for Susan, but thankfully Tom had already reached her. He had heard the commotion too and sprung into action as soon as Kathy yelled. He was comforting her. She was sobbing, visibly shaken, and her fingers were twitching uncontrollably.
“You gave me such a fright, Susan!” Kathy said, concerned. “Are you ok?”
Between sobs, she said, “I didn’t mean to hurt Kylie!”
TO BE CONTINUED ON FRIDAY…
Hello Readers – Now it’s your turn! Please cast your vote in the comments below for the type of ending you would like to see. Try to have your choice noted by 5PM CST.
Here are your ending possibilities this week:
I look forward to writing how the story will end! Here’s hoping you enjoy it! 🙂
The first evening in Susan’s home
With dinner finished, the dishes were washed and put back into the cupboards. Kylie’s bedtime was soon after, and Kathy put her down for the evening. Tom, Kathy, and Susan planned a quiet rest of the evening to reconnect. Naturally, talking about the new living arrangements and laying down the ground rules was first on their list of things to discuss.
Tom started. “Okay, Susan, let’s talk honestly about the past. You do know why we had to take a hot minute to even consider moving in with you, right?”
“Of course, Tom,” she responded empathetically. “I’m not proud of the things that happened in the past, or the things I’ve said and done. Those were some pretty dark days for me. I totally understood your hesitation at the beginning; that’s why I didn’t push. Honestly, if the shoe were on the other foot, I’m not sure I would have agreed to move in with you if your past was as shady as mine was then.” Susan gave them a look that reflected a genuineness they’d not ever seen before. Tom and Kathy were relieved to see it.
“Okay, I hope you understand it’s not our intention to shame you for that, but we do want to make sure that you understand that Kathy, myself, and Kylie are in a very vulnerable position right now. Our lives depend on you right now on so many levels; we’re just worried that things might all come crashing down around us again. We don’t want that to happen.”
“Oh my gosh, Tom! Yes, of course, I get it! 100% understood! Honestly, I would never even offered if I didn’t think this would be a good thing for you, your family, and me!” Susan looked at Tom and Kathy sincerely with her hands crossing her heart. She almost looked like she was on the verge of tears, but she held it back. “You know that I’ve been to hell and back, and believe me, I do not intend ever to take up residence there again!”
Kathy took Susan’s hands in hers and smiled sincerely. “You have given us a precious gift, Susan. One that has saved us from despair, and for that, Tom and I are genuinely grateful. So, let’s agree that all of us came to the right decision and talk about each other’s needs in this new living arrangement,” she said with a big grin.
And with that, they set about laying out how to best co-exist in this setting, not having had such a close connection for so many years. Of course, Susan, Tom, and Kathy realized it would take a little time to acclimate to one other. They put their heads together for the next few hours and locked down rules to respect each other’s privacy. The goal was for everyone to feel comfortable as well as happy in this situation.
For now, all the Grants were relaxed, and their future together looked hopeful.
TO BE CONTINUED ON THURSDAY…
“Hi, guys!” Susan said, called down excitedly, opening the front door upon their arrival right as they’d got out of the car. “I hope the drive wasn’t too arduous?” Tom and Kathy looked up to see her beaming with genuine happiness. Her demeanor displayed nothing over the top; not even her clothing was odd or bold, usually the case in the past, putting Kathy at ease as they walked towards the house. Let’s hope this time it stays that way, she thought.
“Oh, no, it was fine. Kylie got a bit fussy having to be in her car seat so long, but she eventually fell asleep,” Tom responded. Kathy stood behind him quietly, deciding to continue to observe first.
“Well, I’m glad to have you here finally! So happy to see you all. I can’t wait to spend some quality time with Kylie! It’s been long overdue,” Susan said, just like the perfect aunt.
Upon hearing her name, Kylie turned towards Susan and smiled broadly. And just like a proud aunt, Susan’s face lit up even more. She approached gingerly with her arms outstretched and hoped that Kathy would let her hold Kylie.
“Maybe you want to freshen up a bit, or lay down and rest for a few? I will be serving dinner in about two hours; maybe I keep Kylie with me while you do?” she said, nodding, waiting for permission.
Ever cautious, that’s when Kathy spoke up for the first time. “Oh, I don’t think we need to rest; after all, we’ve only been sitting. The ride wasn’t strenuous. We’re not tired, but thanks for suggesting it, Susan,” spoke up quickly, but graciously. “Plus, Kylie doesn’t do well until she gets to know a new person first.” Susan seemed to take it in stride.
“All right, that makes sense. Then let’s get you all situated in your room first, shall we? After that, I’ll get started in the kitchen preparing for dinner. Sound good?” She turned and led the way.
They entered her gorgeous home and struck by the fact it seemed so normal. Tom and Kathy knew she lived in Broadmoor, a posh suburb of Seattle, but were bewildered by that fact. Susan’s inheriting it was still a mystery. Considering her life was at critical mass at times, it seemed odd that she could be this fortunate. The family couldn’t believe she even knew people like that, considering where she had ended up after her variety of fiascoes. Maybe that person was just as disturbed as Susan? After all, her friend had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, so maybe.
Since Susan had let down her family so much with the drugs and erratic behavior over the years; their thought was she’d end up in oblivion if she carried on that way. Her getting involved with some pretty shady activities prompted her family to kick her out of their home finally. Susan even spent some time in jail for prostitution. She’d sunk pretty low. After that, she had no money and lived on the streets.
But seeing how she lived now, maybe she had turned it all around finally? Tom and Kathy hoped so.
TO BE CONTINUED ON WEDNESDAY…
With Tom losing his job and Kathy being a stay-at-home mom to a newborn, things got tight and desperate. Even though he felt like a complete failure, it wasn’t his fault. The company had decided to downsize because sales had slowed drastically; his job and many others were cut to keep it operational. After a long debate about the most prudent thing to do, they decided to accept Susan’s generous offer to live rent-free in her home. It was the best option until Tom could find another job. She had plenty of room to accommodate them in her gorgeous home and lived in a decent little town.
But Tom’s youngest sister was the least sane of the Grant bunch. Was this really the best idea given how erratic Susan’s behavior had been a few years back? She was unstable to the point they had been out of touch for quite a while. Tom and Kathy had limited their interaction with Susan drastically for their sanity and safety. On occasion, Tom was heard to say jokingly, “Her circuit board is short a few connections!” She was eccentric, weird, and yes, a bit dumb. But that wasn’t even the worst part about her. Wherever she went, the drama was right behind her. The stories of her behavior in her town were legendary. Living with her now wouldn’t necessarily be the best scenario if she were still unstable, but Tom had reassured Kathy that Susan took medication now, which seemed to keep her under control. Having a newborn, they just wanted to make sure they were protecting her at all costs.
Ultimately, they decided they had no other choice as they were losing their apartment and desperately needed a place to live. Obviously, who can pay rent when they don’t have money coming in consistently? So, they packed up what they needed and held a garage sale with the items that weren’t necessary. Downsizing seemed the best thing to do rather than putting their stuff in storage; it would cost money to do that. Plus, they could use the cash the sale would generate to go towards their contribution for food and miscellaneous expenses. Tom and Kathy wanted to be as little a financial burden as possible to Susan. They also didn’t want to give her a reason to be resentful in any way. It might set her off.
The garage sale ended up being a great success, having sold pretty much everything they couldn’t fit into Susan’s house. Tom was glad the big stuff like the living room furniture, a large freezer, and all the storage shelves sold at reasonable prices. But Kathy was sad to see their massive book collection sold. There were so many favorites, and now they weren’t hers anymore. She kept every book she’d ever read since her teenage years; many of them autographed. Kathy sighed heavily when the last book sold.
Tom and Kathy were satisfied with the cash they collected the day before. Although, they still felt slightly unsure about their future as they gathered their personal items and headed to Susan’s.
TO BE CONTINUED ON TUESDAY…
always the dread at midnight
assuming a million attempts at slumber
closing my eyes with hope
shutting down my mind
oblivion is beckoning
when i finally do
i can’t stay asleep
waking every few hours
yet still hoping for a longer stretch
that never comes
then the light fills the room
and all i want to do
is stay in bed
sinking in deeper
to the dreams which also keep me awake
is this the prelude
to wishing for my demise
slower starts every day
feeling the energy drain away
as sleep doesn’t revive me anymore
I’m grateful to Barbara for her platform to discuss the important topic of generational trauma, one I feel has impacted not only mine but so many other lives. Life is hard enough, but when those we lean on during our vulnerable years for support do the exact opposite, it sets us up for so much more negativity. Thankfully, we can escape our past and live a good life. I hope being open about it can help others. Thanks again for sharing, Barbara!
I have a new poetry podcast on the Memoirs, of Susi Bocks. You can find it here – https://meelosmom.podbean.com/e/memoirs-of-susi-bocks/
This episode features the memoirs of Susi Bocks, who courageously shares her painful upbringing by a dysfunctional and abusive mother. Grief and anger hide in wait for illumination when Susi’s heart opens to reveal her self-worth, which was so beaten down over the years. Susi shows us that we can come to terms with our past and overcome parental abuse, which often results from transgenerational trauma.
Susi Bocks, writer/author/poet, has self-published two books: Feeling Human and Every Day I Pause. You can find her work atIWriteHer.comor follow her onFacebook athttps://www.facebook.com/MyHumanityInWrittenForm/, where she invites you to read her thoughts and get to know her. Bocks’ work has been published in the anthologySMITTEN: This Is What Love Looks Like: Poetry by Women for Womenand inVitaBrevis
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