Richer

Inspired by Sadje’s Sunday Poser #3 & The Sunday Whirl #483

with wind prodding me towards home
tender reminders and gratitude 
fill my essence as

feed on the love shown me 
no frill or pomp and circumstance
nor silver spoon of connections born 

my friends, my tribe
they flow alongside my road traveled
no words mince, no hearts break

i transfer a kiss to my finger
with a smile and gratitude, place it firmly
on the lips of my family

Her Spirit

my face in the mirror reflects
a ghostly reminder
this leathered skin
has endured hardships
just as she did

except

only her contentedness
beamed through
she was always glad to be alive
her adventures many and
her strength evident

as i remember her fondly
my weariness etches slightly less deep
i won’t allow my defeatist demeanor
to harshly pigment my day
thank you, gamma

#Whatdoyousee
Image credit; Pisauikan@ Pixabay

Falling From The Tree – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

I continued the dinner preparation, letting my thoughts of the past go by the wayside until I’d put all the ingredients in the crockpot. Sitting down shortly after that, they resumed.

The tragedy of growing up in a dysfunctional household is that the vulnerable and innocent ones must eventually deal with their past and unburden themselves of learned behaviors. Usually, it takes years of trying and failing to overcome them, dealing with false starts, and making pitiful attempts at healthy relationships. It isn’t always pretty. This legacy has played out repeatedly not only in my personal life, but I’ve been a witness to it with those enduring a similar upbringing. So much hurt, so much pain to get past. One can consider themselves lucky to survive it and create a somewhat sane life after dealing with it. I was fortunate in that I had the strength to deal with issues head-on.

I always wondered how my life would have turned out had I been nurtured and cared for when I was a child. What would it have felt like feeling loved growing up? I would imagine I’d made much better choices in men and probably would have attracted less damaged people. Having mature, healthy relationships requires knowing how to behave in them. It seems to me, having had more stability and genuine care, those connections would be with people who weren’t dealing with emotional scarring or baggage. At the very least, not quite as much as coming from a dysfunctional household. They would have been safe havens, not the merry-go-round of perpetuating my past. So happy to be past most of that.

The death of my mom in 2012, and my dad’s death in 2014, really set me free to be fully in charge of my destiny. Of course, it always was, but the trials of life endured in the beginning put roadblocks up along the way for far too many years. I’d successfully untethered myself from my mom and our dysfunction, or so I thought, back in 2002, and my journey had become a bit easier from that point on. It still amazed me, though, how residual angst still cropped up occasionally. Life is nothing if not always needing to address problems, I guess.

When my dad died, my sister and I were at once free to be the top of the hierarchy and then immediately became estranged. I guess for her, it was time to be honest with herself – there was no love lost between us, nor did she ever really care. Maybe it was just too much effort now to continue to pretend we were family? She let me go, and honestly, I was okay with that. I deserved acceptance and respect, not just be at her beck and call when it was convenient to her and her needs. It was a one-sided relationship, and it was over for me as well. Blood or not, if you can’t thoroughly enjoy and love the people you are connected to, why are you even with them? The same goes for actually wanting to have children. My parents never had any business creating children together. Neither was capable of providing that bare minimum standard a child deserves – love and acceptance.

2014, and other events between my mother and father’s death, solidified my resolve to be happier and healthier, more than ever before.

TO BE CONTINUED ON THURSDAY…

Falling From The Tree – Part 2

Part 1

But that’s all we had. We arrived at our adulthood but didn’t know how to function as women who cared for one another. Sadly, I think it was mostly because our mother pitted us against each other any chance she could. I call them cruel mental exercises she liked to practice on us. It helped my sister, and I engage in war with each other. We had counseling in our early 20s, and I think it helped to some extent, but it wasn’t long-lasting. One positive, we got off the drugs we were both partaking of, but we still didn’t have a relationship where we trusted each other. She and I weren’t each other’s go-to person. Nor did we ever become that.

Sadly, we didn’t have much of a genuine relationship during our 20s either. Thanks, Mom. When she needed me, my sister made me feel a part of the family, but otherwise, no, she was not someone who would confide in me, or vice-versa would I share things with her needing resolution. She just wasn’t someone I would entrust with my deepest feelings. That was our norm. Our relationship was superficial, at best.

So that’s how we moved forward. We continued to do what was best for us as individuals but never quite figured out how to make our relationship whole, making our connection meaningful. I’m not saying that it was all her fault, but I can honestly say I never felt she was working towards that end. I made my internal peace with her after my father’s death in 2014, but I don’t think she has with me. But I wouldn’t really know since she hasn’t spoken to me since then.

My father, an irresponsible and emotionally distant alcoholic, wasn’t much of a better role model than our mother. Nor was he hardly ever in our presence during our formative years. It’s not like any real bonding took place with him over the years. Because how could it when you are dealing with someone who was never really invested in you nor wanted to get to know you? I always wondered, was that the case or was it just hard for him to connect? It’s seriously a mystery how my sister and I ever matured at all with my mother and father as our parents. But we did.

I can honestly say my best friend made the most positive impact on my life when I got to know her in the 7th grade. She was my best friend but also, such a mentor to me. And it wasn’t until much later that I realized how impactful she was during those early years. How wonderful is 20/20 hindsight? Of course, I say that sarcastically because it certainly would have been nice to know how influential the lessons were as they occurred. But they didn’t, and I guess that’s okay now; we ended up all right from what I can gather. At least, I think so.

TO BE CONTINUED ON WEDNESDAY…

Falling From The Tree – Part 1

A random thought flitted across my brain. And I wondered why it would come up after all these years, especially while I’m cooking dinner—no rhyme or reason for it even to surface. My sister and I were teenagers then, and I’m an old woman now. Random and bizarre. Brains are so peculiar.

As I was peeling potatoes, I recalled my sister had slept with my boyfriend—such a juvenile move on her part, I thought. Just because we had broken up didn’t give her license to bed him. But what should I have expected from her when she didn’t have the most couth in the world. Plus, she hated me so much when we were younger; I guess this was like a feather in her cap to get back at me. Paybacks for when I punched her or any number of things I had done to her previously?

Having moved on years ago, it made no sense this part of my past surfaced. It’s not like I even have any allegiance to the boy/man anymore. That relationship eventually reconciled, and we even got married and had a child too. But I don’t have any residual thoughts or feelings, good or bad about it now at this stage in my life. Another husband and another child later, I’m so over my first baby-daddy.

But then I consider how my sister and I grew up; I shouldn’t be surprised at all she did what she did. It’s not like we had any good role models. She wasn’t the only immature one in that family. I did a whole lot of crazy things myself. Certainly wasn’t proud of it, upon reflection, but could definitely understand us becoming dysfunctional human beings after the background we both endured.

My mom, the narcissistic, mentally challenged, and often hysterical woman, didn’t offer us much hope of getting a proper upbringing. Sure, we had food in our bellies, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads. We weren’t growing up in the Ritz, money was tight at times, but we weren’t desperately poor either. What was lacking was sanity. It could become chaotic at any given moment. And you never fully knew where you stood in your relationship with her. Tip-toeing and caution were traits I learned early on. It always felt like my mom did her best to fill our lives with dysfunction, head games, and uncertainty. It was disgraceful if you were a witness to it. Why would a mother, of all people, behave in these ways? All her antics managed to produce was so much vying for her unstable attention so you wouldn’t be her target. That was it. Add to that the continual negativity and criticism, it took its toll on our psyches. After all these years, I still ask myself why my sister and I didn’t band together to become allies rather than become the enemies we are now, and not speaking with one another for quite some time. Emotional abuse and manipulation certainly took its toll on us. I guess I shouldn’t wonder and realize it makes perfect sense of why we don’t have a relationship today. Having a mature connection was impossible to nurture in the environment that we got exposed to and survived. Quite sad, but like I mentioned, we survived.

TO BE CONTINUED ON TUESDAY…

Hot Breath In A Cold Room

laying on her side
focusing outside herself
outside the window
at the moon

him on her bed
crushing down
on her youth
babbling incoherently

close to her face
intimate, like she’s his wife
exhaling utterances
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.

Dipped In Yellow – Part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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.

THE END

Thanks so much for your participation! See you next month!

Dipped In Yellow – Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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:

Sad
Unexpected
Happy

I look forward to writing how the story will end! Here’s hoping you enjoy it! 🙂

Dipped In Yellow – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

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.

“Yes!”

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…