Tag Archives: Spirit

Reclaiming Myself


After a far too lengthy “sabbatical” from my blog, I am planning my return on the New Year. For those who’ve befriended, followed & supported me along this path, I am deeply grateful. After the “When the Map Flies Out the Window” & “…the Crazy Lady Entered”, I kicked my reclamation of self into high gear! WOW!

I fled my shrink- not without a certain amount of trepidation- and began a new path. My time and my energy, often hindered by Fibromyalgia & the accompanying “Fibro fog”, was spent on this massive and challenging new path of my journey through this world. Thus far, the choice has proven excellent, if not a bit strenuous; somewhat emotional and containing a little side of “grrr” at the previous years wasted in a stupor of meds and non-productive therapy.

I am now ready to return.. a few short days away..and hoping that I find my voice has gained clarity. A part of me feels my words may have come from one pill or another and that it is no longer there. The reality check comes from loved ones, who’ve retained writings of mine from so long ago, unfettered by a fog-bound mind & spirit. Again, thanks to all who’ve stuck by me and to those new people who’ve found me & not been acknowledged.  I haven’t checked in for awhile, so I didn’t realize you were out there. My lack of acknowledgement, though out of ignorance, is nonetheless rude.

See you in a few days! Happy New Year…and dare to throw that map out the window, it’s an incredible journey when uncharted!

..and then the crazy lady entered


Just like moons and like suns,         
With the certainty of tides,                                           
Just like hope  springing high,                                                                                                             Still I’ll rise.

                                 Maya Angelou        

I have ruminated on the things that I once loved about being me, just me. More than anything, it was a spirit of adventure, of following the journey wherever it led….and it led to some amazing places.

When I left that little town  back east, roaring into the night on a 1942 Indian  motorcycle  in which  I had  been at least halfway responsible for rebuilding and restoring with my own  small sixteen year-old hands, I never looked back. We rode hard for New Hampshire, a child’s romantic teen dream of escape from a world in decline and into a marriage about which I’d no concept. Small town New England held no charm for me. I was a high school drop-out with a mechanic husband and a little second floor flat in an old duplex. It was comfortable enough and I tried to teach myself the rudimentary tasks of being a housewife. I was a far better mechanic. The town itself was picturesque, with little squares, a diner where the locals held court and the fresh mountain air was foreign to my New York and New Jersey nostrils and lungs. I actually missed the smell of bus exhaust, the noise of traffic and the anonymous hustle by which I’d survived. I was not accustomed to being Mrs. (fill in the blank), the friendly and all-too-familiar local charm. It was 6 months before I demanded that we return to the world I preferred…not that dreadful little town that my parents chose but something more familiar. We again embarked on a night’s journey, this time towing the vintage bike behind a newly restored vintage car. My husband…a term so ridiculous in retrospect, considering my age, obliged me in every way possible. Three months later, a friend of his introduced me to pot…in my mind, akin to heroin! It was not.  It was good and I began to look at the world around me and realize that it was 1968 and everything was changing. There was an excitement in the air that had never been and I wanted to know , to be part of it. I did the only thing I could..I called my mother and her fiancé and requested refuge. My mother was delighted to accommodate me and sent Charlie, her soon-to-be husband, to get me quickly, lest I change my mind. It didn’t take long to realize that I had no forgiveness in my heart for the past and the situation with my mother grew untenable. My step-father was the only buffer in a simmering war between us. I had no money, no prospects, no aim but I left.

I wandered back into New York where I found everything imaginable happening! Being born in Brooklyn, it was always home to me and my love affair with New York has never waned. I love the noise, the people, the 24/7 life that I’ve never found anywhere else. At that time, movements of all sorts were afoot: civil rights, women’s rights, anti-war and everything in-between. I attended the first Earth Day in Central Park! I still look at old news footage of marches, so many in New York, knowing that I was among the thousands of faces in the crowds. The reality, though, was that I needed money of some kind, so I found a receptionist position in a county office, which led not to the drudgery I feared but to more freedom. I worked for brief periods but most of my time was spent on activism, hanging around college campuses, experimenting with minor drugs and living on and off in a commune. When I grew restless, as was my habit, I would hit the open road with my thumb out and off to parts unknown. During one of my trips to see my family for the holidays, I happened into a store where I met a Puerto Rican conga drum player, all looks and charm, living in Hoboken,, N.J. and there I was again. I had a great apartment on the first floor of a brownstone, the park featured in “On the Waterfront” across the street. I took a job in the garment district and spent six months in a crazy life of playing it straight by day and spending nights in Latin clubs with my heroin addict and barely English-speaking lover. Then I woke up. He disdained my politics, my commune past and my feminist ways and I abhorred his drug-addicted, womanizing failures. Again, I left. Back to the farm in Canada, to heal my wounds, regain my wits and grow restless for more travel…and yearning to be free of the sub-zero temperatures and hip-deep snow. The farm was spectacular in other seasons but winter was brutal and I was not made for that…nor am I a farmer. So, I rolled some cigarettes, a little weed, donned my hiking boots and layers of clothing and headed to the Trans-Canadian Highway with the first person willing to drive me the 15 miles out. On it went…

More trails than I could have imagined, more people who became friends, still fondly remembered, more impulsive but priceless experiences. I met another love: he on his post-college summer and me with my thumb out. We married in Los Angeles and, lo and behold, I once again ended up in suburban New Jersey! What were the odds? I tried my best to be a suburban working wife, converted to Judaism and had cocktail parties for people who I considered vapid and annoying. I lied my way into a management position at a chain bookstore, where I worked for several years…my respite from the Short Hills Mall women by whom I was surrounded. I soon found a guru fresh from India and that, along with my ongoing consumption of pot, kept me there for six years before the dam broke. It was an emotionally wrenching time: I was leaving a man I did not want to hurt but staying was worse; my father was dying a long and slow death from a broken heart which he drowned in alcohol and my company had me under pressure for transfer to the second largest store in the chain…in Los Angeles! My divorce was final in March, my father passed away in May and I took my transfer in July. I left all I knew to begin again. Success was short-lived. I was still grieving, trying to fix a business that I was sent to troubleshoot and one day, I tossed it all. I ended up living in the desert, trying my hand at alcohol. The party didn’t last long and I did get and stay sober for many years. Life settled into a pleasant groove.

I figured it was time for that G.E.D., followed by college and an Engineering degree. I acquired a nice vintage (of course) restored Mercedes, had a townhouse at the beach  and , best of all, a great group of people in a 12-Step program. I married again, moved to Oregon where I found love at first sight in Portland. It was the first place since childhood that felt like home to me. My marriage didn’t last but life in Portland did.

I made wonderful friends, took up activism on other fronts, returned to college and then university. I majored in Political Science, minored in Journalism and Creative Writing; transferred on to another school and left to work full-time on a major political campaign, followed by a stint in the Senate Majority Office. When I left, I went to an art school.I was independent, outrageous, self-appointed “Hostess at the Party of Life”. I worked and lived among many dear people who were at the center of the HIV/AIDS crisis and lost many friends to this still ongoing plague. I still thrived until I made one last, really bad choice.

I returned to my family of origin, thinking I had a place at the table. The results of that have been recounted in earlier posts. I am back in my beloved Portland now, blessed with an exceptional man who loves me as I am, a cat and a companion dog round out our little family. As I’ve noted before, it has been a decade if curses and blessings, about evenly split. I am still healing, the emotional and physical toll remains and while my spirit rises, my body has taken on the burden of the trauma. My material possessions are few and I teeter on bankruptcy, living below the poverty levels, but I am alive and blessed. I have regained extended family that I believed lost to me forever and these things buoy my spirits on the days when I think I cannot face another sunrise under these circumstances. Gradually, in spirit anyway, I am re-entering my own. I try not to look too far ahead, but stay close to present. It is what I must do if I am to succeed.

Oh yes, and laugh..more at myself than others, often irreverently, sometimes sardonically, but laugh nonetheless. If I lost that capacity, I would truly be mad. The jury is still  out on that.

PORTLAND: UNIQUE, OPEN & PROUD…BUT NO WEATHER EXTREMES, PLEASE!


I love Portland, Oregon! It was love at first sight for me…it had everything I wanted: enough city to meet my soul’s need for that; a very mixed population from business to artists to Deadheads; museums, coffee houses…little individually-owned ones where one could read & write for hours without snarky looks. There was pride in the different identities of the various neighborhoods in a city divided by quadrants; a bus mall & transit system that got me out of my car for the first time in eons & there was greatness: Powell’s City of Books…nothing like it anywhere else in North America; a library system that is actually well-used and greenspace…you could be in the rainforest without ever leaving the city. it had one other thing unique to Portland: weather-phobia! Oh, yes…fear of unexpected weather. Psychology has not given it an official name and , in this case, it seems a mass phobia.

I, like most people, had many pre-conceived notions of Portland: small town, unsophisticated, place where hippies went to die and , of course, rainy. Endlessly, always rainy. I was wrong on all counts. Yes, it rains…actually more mist and drizzle than real rain and ,even then, mostly in the winter months. You see, Oregon has some mountain ranges and Portland happens to sit between two in a green belt known as the Willamette Valley. Being between two mountain ranges keeps the weather quite temperate, no extremes. Being an East Coast native..New York to be specific…I like this. Moderate, somewhat grey winters, equally reasonable and sunny summers. Rare is a snowfall or a heat wave, but watch out if there’s either. EVERYONE FREAKS OUT! ALL CHANNELS GO TO 24/7 REPETITION OF WHAT IS OBVIOUS! STORES ARE TEEMING WITH AN ANGST-RIDDEN PUBLIC FEARFUL OF BEING TRAPPED WITHOUT AMPLE……(FILL IN BLANK, DEPENDING ON SEASON).

The first year I lived here, there were mad predictions of a snow storm. Busses were parked on the mall, getting chained….I didn’t know tire chains were still made or used anywhere; people either stayed home or left work early; weather was wall-to-wall on all stations and citizens were assured that the city was prepared to throw something by way of de-icers on the roads. I drove to work. I arrived to find 1 other person, my boss.. and received a hero’s welcome. Oh, did I fail to mention that at this point it appeared like talcum powder from a clogged container sprinkling down? I thought I was going mad! Where were these rugged individualists? Where was that Oregonian can-do attitude. Apparently, clearing supermarket shelves and scurrying back to the safety of their homes. Schools and businesses closed, sometimes a whole day in advance, based on the Magic 8 Ball of weather. I laughed hysterically at this mania along with my fellow transplants from states that had real winter. Life went on, spring and then summer came…

“HEAT WAVE HEADED OUR WAY!” It blared from televisions to print media and , again, I saw the stores selling ice and water….in a city of water fountains from which to drink everywhere and decorative fountains in which anyone can play…on either side of the river. Fans, as though a new concept, were swept off store shelves; people headed in droves to any of the several rivers and lakes around us and, again, media were there to remind us to hydrate, dress accordingly and check neighbors. Coming from a place where the humidity allows everyone to enjoy a steam bath and at least one reporter will demonstrate how fast an egg can be fried on the sidewalk, I was once again astounded. Had everyone lost their minds? Not to mention that for a place as moist as Oregon in winter, it is wonderfully dry in the summer…virtually no humidity. I don’t tolerate heat well as a rule, but it has been a fact of my life always. We went to Coney Island, the Jersey shore or stayed in air-conditioned apartments and cars….and complained. Again, cheap entertainment for those of us from less temperate zones. My main issue with the heat is that I have a low threshold and I don’t actually sweat..a weird malady that leaves me to bloat like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon. Not fun!

After a cumulative 20 years here with a brief  madness of 5 years back east, I have realized that these events of winter/summer extremes…usually 2-3 days long…occur about every 4 years. Right now, we are in the midst of a 100 degree weekend and aside from my sweltering apartment…my family back east: “Don’t you people have air cnoditioning?”…and non-sweating bloat, I can take comfort in watching the mêlée around me. Oh, if I do go out, my fair skin requires SPF 1000, so I don’t have that healthy Oregon tan/burn look.

I don’t drive in the snow, can’t use chains and don’t care to mingle among the frantic. I don’t go to the rivers in the heatwaves because I’m not big on being decapitated by someone’s motor boat or drowning among the hoards of people swimming, tubing and getting caught in currents. One big thing I don’t share with many of my fellow Oregonians and that is a propensity for the outdoors-y life.

I’ll shower 20 more times today, sit in front of my fan and kvetch about the heat and wait for tomorrow, when everyone and everything returns to normal…until the possibility of a flurry six months from now and the shutting down of the city…or I move to the glorious coast, whichever comes first!

Taking Charge of My Own Roadshow


                            

It’s taken only about a decade and wondering where “I” went to begin putting the pieces back together. It was a case of Dylan Thomas being right, for me literally: I could not go home again, but I tried and ended up very broken.

letting go

The hardest part is acknowledging that I set myself up for the long fall. I can grasp the concept of having a certain respect for my birth parents for being the vessels by which I arrived here. I could not grasp what they found so objectionable as to deeply disrespect my presence.I am beginning to accept that their issues were not my business. The fact is that I do exist and am obliged to live the best life I can. I have not been doing so. The past decade was one of brutality to myself beyond what another could commit.  

At every turn, I chose incorrectly, recklessly and in doing so, I  paid dearly. The Laws of Attraction, as one new friend reminds me, are there for our higher purpose. My own Laws of Attraction were bringing moving through ...tragedy and trouble from all corners and I became mired in my punishment. How can one expect the greatness that is all around to penetrate a prison of our own design? The answer is simple: it cannot. The prison becomes a solitary cell built on victimization and deceit. I became a victim of circumstances and deceived myself as to my part in the building of the cell.Choice was always present. I walked among the living but remained untouched by them. I had all the world to travel the good road but I stayed in the increasingly darkening alleys until the only safety was the cell..or as told by physicians, PTSD and Panic Disorder.

I believe that all emotion, all choice of action come down to two emotions: fear or love. The capacity to live in love has long been lost to that of fear. Fear manifested as judgement, lack of compassion, unkindness to the point of cruelty and a plethora of other negative manifestations…I gave as good as I got and then heaped more upon myself. Lack of compassion for oneself is as egregious as lack of compassion for others. One cannot offer what one does not own.

                                         

Love and Fear
Love and Fear (Photo credit: SavingE)

I have turned a corner and begin healing. Instead, I regressed and my world grew smaller, thinking it was me. Then I found the compassion, beginning with myself, as I believe one must. For many years I trusted others…mostly medical providers…to point me the direction of  healing only to be moved  in the opposite direction. Recently, a bell went off in my head. For all the years I wanted me back, I was taking all the wrong roads. “I” was not  to be found inside the blue-green, blue or white pills. Nor was my compassion, a commitment much beyond my own four walls or my soul. That little shaft of light creeping through the crack of my cell was a lifeline and I grabbed it. Soon, I was researching, prying at the door, finding myself stepping out onto the dark paths that led here…and as I took my first tentative steps, I found more light ahead! I kept moving towards it. I was soon at a crossroads and I chose the lighter one finding the tools  I’d been dropping along the way.

I began to research and found that many of my symptoms could be exacerbated by the very medications that were intended to help. After extensive reading and comparisons, I called the prescribing doctor and advised that I wanted to begin the delicate path back by being properly withdrawn from these addictive and dangerous pills. This option, in itself, is apparently a long and very carefully plotted process. Though I had brought this option up before,it was as though I had never mentioned it! I began to feel resentment: that I wasn’t fully apprised of the ramifications; that they could have played a hand in my worsening symptoms; that I may have been better served by being referred to a more specialized provider and, above all, that my previous attempts to discuss  options of stopping these substances had not been heard! I, however, have neither the time nor the luxury for resentment…they could only worsen things. Next, I contacted my family physician to review my current physical challenges as well as to discuss my mental health treatment decisions, She was delighted and helped me find the next turn in my path. I was elated, especially at having some validation of my new decisions.

I look forward to this new path. I am to meet with a new provider, be re-evaluated and then move on to someone who can help me to acquire the coping skills I’ve studied up on, be weaned off the pills that have taken me from a world view to a pinpoint of vision and take the baby steps that will lead me back to myself…only better. I would say 2.0 but I’ve already been through too many changes to count.

Now, I’ll get to return to me and back on the path of aspirations that I held before the tragedies set in, the downward spiral picked up enough speed to bring the meltdown and I was medicated into near-somnambulance. For the first time in a long time, I am excited about life and what’s ahead. I’m as excited for those around me to finally meet the real me and be part of my progress.Blessed with amazing people and I look forward to being among them and not just being in need of them. I’ve got a lot of giving back to do!

Are we the Sob Sisters…or is it really just being Celtic?


Harry, the 4 lb. bada**                                                                                                                                                                                                

                                     K.M.                                Mumford

My darling cousin E and I speak at least every two weeks and, almost every time, one or both of us cries. She called a few days ago to tell me that the last post I’d written had made her cry as it brought back such great memories of the great times of childhood. As is usual, we were both crying by time we were done. It is rarely based on negativity  or sadness but, rather, on a shared memory of our childhoods among our huge and somewhat eccentric Celtic clan. As I’ve written in earlier posts, removed from my family through circumstances not of my choosing, reunion was decades to come. One evening, about 8 years ago, I happened on a genealogy website with one little query including the names of my paternal grandparents. I was so excited, my heart was racing…after all these years! It was E and she was looking for family members. I responded and soon we were talking and we grew to be four of us woring on it.

Before the Brooklyn Navy Yard closed,  2 generations of family had lived & worked in Red Hook. Our paternal grnadmother was a strong woman. She was the mother of 18, 12 of whom made it to adulthood,  8 of those being boys. Each served in one or both wars and in every branch of the military. My grandmother became well-known on her own right at home.  She donated more blood than anyone in NY; collected infinite amounts of silk hosiery, rubber and whatever else needed. We never knew these things about her growing up. Just like we never realized how hard our Dads worked at the Navy Yard…I still cannot see “On the Waterfront” without heartache. I never heard complaints or saw a hint of what each day was like for my Dad or uncles. No one complained, it was just life on life’s terms.

E’s dad was among my favorite uncles, incredibly hilarious and the entertainment for all the kids. When we were young, there would be an annual gathering at an aunt & uncle’s in New Jersey…they had a huge piece of property that could accommodate the entire brood. It was in sharing these fond memories as well as re-connecting with one cousin after the next that brought up the concept of the reunion. E & I, along with a couple of others, began tracking down names and addresses or whatever contacts we could. She & I are alike in that we both seem predisposed to organizing, planning, playing Nancy Drew…or in her case, Lois Lane…The Golden Age Lois Lane and Superman, from th...

and getting the task done. I did it in politics where she’s done it in life on a grand scale and , I suspect, we love it equally well. Unfortunately, we can only control so much. I knew before we began that I could not attend due to personal constraints. Many others were enthusiastic until it was a reality and then, one by one, they begged off until there were just a handful. E is the most optimistic and upbeat person I know &, God knows, she’s gotten me through some storms, but I know what family means to her and I knew this was a big disappointment. As always, she made the best of it but I was incensed! Most lived within driving distance, a couple a day or so by car and then one in the mid-West and me in Oregon.A stitched panorama of downtown Portland, OR a...

I pray that next year, I will have the resources and that others will show a legitimate effort to attend. Our parents are gone and I hate to see the family history of certain animosities and pettiness be carried on. Most of us who have spoken have talked about the little family feuds and skirmishes and spoke of gratitude that we would not travel that path. I would like to believe it sincere. In the meantime, E has demonstrated reaping what we sow. Although I don’t know  her family, their devotion to each other and the bonds that exist are amazing. It is an almost abstract concept to me as I didn’t grow up with it and have spent most of my life seeking. Unconditional love came from one person and all animals. E & her husband have worked hard and earned all that they have,no one takes anything for granted…neither the people in their lives nor the comforts with which they are blessed. E is a person of optimism, commitment to those around her, generosity and kindness to all with whom she comes in contact and an unfailing faith and spirituality. She never fails to inspire me at every turn and has seen me through these last dark & challenging years. I retain a certain  amount of N.Y. cynicism, sarcasm  and snide comment when I consider it necessary. I aspire to that which seems innate to Elaine. I do have a soft heart and a spirituality of my own, but if I wanted to catch up to her, I’d better hurry….I’m not getting any younger, I just look that way!

Clan Tartans:

Kilt (or Dress) Tartan

Casual Tartan      Hunting Tartan

The Warrior Morrigan, one of the three incarnations of the ancient Celtic Goddess. She is usually accompanied by three ravens. The warrior version that I have tattooed on me is different and I’ve not gotten the third one.

Fate smiled upon me..in a weird way…when I moved into this building. I had a reclusive neighbor who spoke to no one and grumbled at everyone. One day, he deigned to strike up a conversation and I discovered that it was the flags of Scotland & Irelamd, along with our family crest, that drew him. As I leanred, he was a writer, historian & fact-checker who freelanced his services. He moved away 2 years ago and passed suddenly but before he did, he presented me with a gift. Unbeknownst to me, he had spent countless hours documenting, annotating and gathering over 900 years of family history! I was speechless…how rare. I could not believe he had done all this and the details were amazing and , so far, proving to be accurate. I passed them on to E to distribute. Unbelievalby, it is the last 3 generations that are the hardest to sort out. In Journalism, I first learned the who,what,when where and why. With our combined research and educations, it is hard to believe that those basics are the stumpers. That, however, is for another day.

It has been an emotional roller coaster in recent weeks and last week ended on a sad note. My cousin (more like my brother)Ralph, on the maternal side of the family passed away a few years ago & I always miss him. About three or four years ago, I found his childhood best friend on FB and we began sporadic contact. He remembered me as the bratty five-years younger girl with whom they were often stuck. I remembered their 45 vinyl records and learning the words to all their late 50’s early 60’s music and my natural flair for dance.

I received an email from a mutual childhood friend telling me of Pat’s sudden death and found myself overwrought as my mind  flooded with memories and of missing my cousin. I wrote to Pat’s family though they’d no idea of me and they were appreciative of the memories I shared of his youth. Then I called E…as always, it started out tearful but ended with laughter.

There are a small number of people who can bring that kind of  bond to our lives; give us laughter and tears in the same few moments; have compassion for our difficulties and true joy for our happiness. I don’t know how many anyone gets nor do I know who they’re supposed to be…parents, friends, lovers, extended family? For me, there have been a very rare few and almost none related by blood…then there’s my cousin, E. I am more than blessed.

s

When the Map Flies Out the Window….


Misleading Road Sign

You’re driving down the road with the top down, best friends along for the ride, top down and, though you’ve hit some bumps and had a few minor breakdowns, the trip’s been great. You’ve got the top down, you’re with your best friends, it’s a great day and you’re making your way to the next exciting destination when, suddenly, the map flies off in the wind! Shit!

Now you’re in the middle of nowhere and you realize that you’re travelling alone.The beautiful day, the best companions you know were a daydream that abruptly ended when that map left your car…not the convertible gliding along on the breeze but the clunker you bought for $500, driving through some blighted area long since deserted by

  

anyone with any semblance of a brain and the only places in sight make the Bates Motel look like a spa vacation. Suddenly your Janet Leigh in a blinding rainstorm, running from a life no longer bearable  and with few options available. What are you going to do? That was how I felt about one the singularly most pivotal moments in my life…except that, unlike Janet Leigh, I had neither a crisis of conscience nor  intention of turning back. Given the circumstances few people would. My back story was different and what drove me was not a crime….at least not one I perpetrated.

In this most unlikely of places, the pre-pubescent shy girl that I was, already feeling that she was an unwilling traveler on the wrong road, found it could be worse…much worse. As I tried to acclimate myself to my strange surroundings, the hands of strangers reached out. Actually, it wasn’t a reach so much as a grab…I was being kidnapped! Yes, kidnapped! Four grown men had seemingly decided, as one, to yank this young stranger off the bleak Main Street on this drizzly evening…from this, the “safe” and small town, away from the Brooklyn,N.Y. neighborhood that had been home to generations of family. My gut always told me this was wrong but what say has a child? Now, here I was, being restrained and driven who knows where and for what purpose?

The drive ended deep in a wooded area. I was dragged from the car & thrown to the ground. They talked among themselves, passing around a bottle of schnapps, from which they eventually forced me to drink. This is when I learned that one never knows what one’s reaction will really be until placed in a situation where “fight or flight” becomes part of the scenario.  Logic would dictate that a petite 12 year-old facing 4 grown men intent on violence would be best served by submission. What I know is that logic played no part in what followed, pure instinct took control of this child. When told to strip my clothes, I refused & found my clothes being roughly torn from me…each garment followed by a demand to strip the rest; each demand refused.

Finally, naked, being told to get on the ground. I did so and as they again talked among themselves about what was to follow, I began scrambling-part crawling, part running. I had no direction but to escape. I didn’t make it more than a couple of yards before being dragged back. My failed escape followed by the first rape and another escape attempt. 

 I fought all four with all my might but the horror of multiple rapes, sex acts I’d never even knew existed and more fighting and escape attempts. I’ve no idea how long this went on but it seemed an eternity. I was oblivious to my injuries as I wondered if my life would end here…and, if so, I wanted it known that I fought. Then, it was over. They threw my tattered clothes back at me, instructed me to dress and drove me to a dirt road. As they let me out of the car they advised me that this was my chance to survive, to find my way home. It came with a warning that this act came with a warning: should I tell the story or identify them to anyone, ever, they would return and this time, it would cost my life. 

I did make it home that night. There was no hiding from my parents…it was 3 a.m.; I entered the house battered, clothes in tatters and refusing to speak. I finally had to tell the tale; spent 2 weeks recovering in an isolated pediatric hospital room and the perpetrators caught. Unlike today, there were no advocates & poor counseling available. My family was left to our own devices and they were not good. In fact, they kept it secret & just tried to move on. The unexplained absence of our large & close-knit clan was unknown to me until 3 years ago, when tears were shed by those who would have helped had they known. To them, my mother’s leaving was not a shock; my father’s decline into the bottle was stunning & my leaving home, the act of an out-of-control teen whose world collapsed.

The hearings and final trial took almost 3 years. In that time, I endured being ostracized by the locals because I was new and these were 4 well-known guys, washed-up post high school jocks with little potential; my father began drinking and spiraled down into alcoholism and eventual death; my mother ran away…from the situation, from her own guilt, from a family that was never her wish to have. She lives alone, isolated & bitter, turning on anyone who attempts to bring the world in or her out. After many periods of no contact, our estrangement seems permanent, she unable to look at me…a mirror of all that went wrong; me tired of being the hated child whose presence was always just tolerated. I have many family members, both blood & not, who love me as I am; value what I bring to the world and teach me self-acceptance. I no longer need to seek out a mother who will never love me and always see me as a reminder of a life she never wanted.

So, the map flew out the window long ago and it was the best thing that could have happened. I left the wreckage of my family at 15, had a crazy brief teen marriage; found myself in the ’60’s, no longer the timid girl. I participated in the various movements of the time; moved to a commune in Canada..where I found myself  keeping  journals, where I lived on and off for 3 years and would leave on hitchhiking trips….no maps, no destination. I managed 48 states; Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula on one of those crazy buses filled with locals & livestock. I married 3 more times…all great guys. My wanderlust was too great to stay settled. I’ve had several amazing careers; attended several colleges & universities…my thirst for knowing about so many things and writing, always writing. Reading old entries and amazed at where life has taken me and certain in the knowledge that all experiences that take us out of the status quo are part of who we are today. To change any one of them would be to change ourselves in unknown ways. While the kidnap/rape brought years of tragedy, it also freed me to go on a journey far beyond my imagination…no regrets & no do overs needed. Writing is marking life in the present and leaving amazing reflections for the future.

 Until this blog, it was my secret. With the exception being long letters to extended family, resulting in “you must write!” phone calls, I hid what I believed would wither when exposed to light.

the next four journals

Now, my uncharted trail has led to another place I never thought I’d be…online, writing for anyone in the world to see & I am so happy right here, right now! From Brooklyn, N.Y. to Brooklyn, Portland, OR…and the journey continues.

The Cleansing Storm of the Raging Spirit


 
 
 The sea is where I find serenity, realize that I, in retrospect, occupy just the most insignificant portion of space and time in an infinitely large and ancient universe. This perspective brings peace to my mind & soul; the vast beauty of living where the mountains and forests meet the sea, each day brings perfect sun &sky or fantastic storms..all are fine to me. For just the time I have, it quiets the cacophony of PTSD or miraculously mutes my Agoraphobic tendencies and, in those moments, I know a quiet that exist nowhere else for me. I truly do feel emotionally & spiritually refreshed…a rare gift in these difficult years.
 
 
 
The Cleansing Storm of the Raging Spirit

I see myself in the tossing hair, scarlet dress rebelling against the blue-grey storm clouds reflected back by the sea. Wrapped in the winds and awash in waves,I stand strong,
Serene in the beauty with a soul’s rage receding on the tide, I breathe peace.