Night; and once again The while I wait for you, cold wind Turns into rain. -Masaoka Shiki
Asian voices have been speaking out with dignity, respect, and stoicism from every continent on the globe for eons, and are as yet, still ignored. White people, we must decenter ourselves from this conversation and how it affects us because our feelings are fucking irrelevant. We must sit in our discomfort and allow these festering wounds we’ve created to drain and cleanse or nothing will ever change. And only when we listen and HEAR what they are asking of us, should we use our privilege to take action.
I’m so tired of white supremacy. I’m so tired of terroristic misogyny. I’m so tired of rape culture. I’m so tired of evil white men getting treated with kid gloves after they mow down multiple bodies because they had a “bad day.” I’m so tired of guns. I’m so tired. But, I have the privilege of birthright and beigeness in a blinding, cruel society that punishes any color that shines too brightly in dark spaces. So, I don’t get to be tired. Not while bodies are still dropping on the daily.
Lang has several publications available for purchase and she can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and her personal website at:
I had this muscle car for fifteen years or so. She’s my girl. She reminds me of the ’67 black Impala. You know the one. Baby. Yeah! But even more pristine. She was a dream. Super Sporty. Sexy. COOL AF! Gorgeous and tough. But I need her gone as she’s a guzzler to extreme.
Years ago, when I found her, I thought I could handle the cost. But ever since It’s been a Night. Mare. Breaks my heart. I can’t afford her and have enough to live. What can I do? I’m no grease monkey. She needs the kind of love I can’t give. I can’t fix shit. I hate the part of me-I’m so hard on things. And she needs work. Popular Mechanics took a peek and broke it down.
It would cost a small fortune if I wanted to keep her. And if I didn’t have it STAT- I need to put her up on blocks… The word they used: indefinitely. She wasn’t safe to drive. And I could get hurt. Or so much worse. Without airbags, dash cam, OnStar, GPS. Not even a decent seatbelt.
Total. Death. Trap.
And I would never know what might happen next.
Whiplash was the easiest. I’ve seen her turnover by herself and roar to life to run me down. I must be fucking crazy, right? Seriously, though. She backed me over. A couple too many times. And when I could walk again, I took her in to have them check her out. And they broke the news that changed my views on what I’m willing to do for such an old friend.
Beautiful but damaged, perhaps beyond repair. I thought we were a perfect team. For so many years, I saw her parked in places where I wanted to end up one day. The good times were great. But broken bones and empty homes are habits I gotta shake. Moving. On. High maintenance cars-not my expertise. And besides, I’ve got kids. Responsibilities. There’s not enough room in her to hold everything that comes with family. Not by half. She’s bad-ass for the world, I think. Fossil fuels. Rubber trees. She’s got carbon shit kickers for footprints. Kids need a future. Gotta go green. You get the drill. So, here’s the deal.
You can have her for free, if you’re a good fit. I’ll even cough up all the fees. Tax, title, registration, accessories. All the bullshit. Because I’m done. She needs a lot of paint and polish to keep her growl and sheen. Strip her weekly. Wax her more. In layers. She hates sunlight for a reason. The custom paint fades faster than you’d think. She likes to get dressed up how she must have looked like off the lot. It helps if you only drive at least three hours after dusk. I like to think it’s The Misfits and Maiden that spawns her burnouts and all the smoke, blood… the too tough love. But for whatever reason, the factory radio won’t even turn on.
Anyway- here’s the key. I’m late and need to run. But just one more thing. Kind of cool story, actually. You can tell your friends she’s notorious. And maybe Demon Speed. The night before I found her by a power stroke of luck, I had the craziest dream. An odd guy, older, glasses- I think he was from Maine? He came out of nowhere. Just sort of appeared from fog. With her. Threw me the keys. Yes, the night before. Same damn car. I swear to god. He said his car was a gift. But there was a trick-I could never lift the hood-especially in the dark. No tire kicks. No road rages. Never DUI.
His words were: “Careful. The racing stripes are actually mean streaks.”
I know, right? Funny. I asked him what that meant.
“I couldn’t really say,” he said. “But Vegas is only six hours of desert, and this ride will take you where you need to go. You should fill up before you leave, though. Just in case. There aren’t enough rest stops along the way.”
Still gives me chills to this day. He didn’t say his name. He gave me hers, though. I think he said Kimberly. Or maybe Christine. I couldn’t quite remember when I woke up from the dream. So, I used both. I just called her KC.
“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.” Hunter S. Thompson
When people who gaslight you about true nature and intentions (yours and theirs) in order to use you to make themselves feel superior, they will promise you they love you more than everyone else in your life because they are your “tough love friend” while everyone else is enabling your terrible behavior.
They need you to believe they are the only ones who can show you how wrong and flawed you are and how great they are in comparison, so that they can continue to delude themselves into believing that nothing is wrong with them, they’re wonderful people who deserve applause and accolades and whatever they steal from everyone else so they can set aside their own cracks, decay, and toxic waste without having to attempt to change their ways or lose anything they truly care about.
When they finally get bored and walk away, they would do well not to look over their shoulder to see if you’re still crying over their departure-especially if you know their darkest shame and secrets. Inevitably, their mask slips, the paint job, no matter how pretty, washes away, and you can see the monster with distilled clarity and you realize how lucky you are that you forced them to give up and run.
Watch out for long-term peroxide blondes who seem to have everything together and everything they could ever want. I had two in my life for a very long time. They need that hair that they don’t have naturally pretty damn bad… to hide something sinister and get their foot in the door to places they don’t belong in.
Just meditating on my favorite poem by my favorite living poet… because it’s the only comfort I can find when I again, as always, lose someone and they tell me I am a curse. I am a drain. I have too much scar tissue and too much rage, and it exhausts them because of my illness (CPTSD) and how it affects my overwhelming emotions and reactions. I cannot be softer. Not for long. I cannot be pretty for long. I cannot hide my fierce feelings. I can’t crush them either. I can’t suffer a bridle or gag. And so I just keep losing people. Warsan speaks here of intimate relationships with men… but for me, it’s everyone. You get to a point, if you have this diagnosis, where you feel like maybe the monsters that stored their trauma in your body and gave you this rotting all-corrupting albatross have turned you into a monster too and everything you touch gets broken. Everything turns to ashes in your mouth. If not today, then eventually.
you are a horse running alone and he tries to tame you compares you to an impossible highway to a burning house says you are blinding him that he could never leave you forget you want anything but you you dizzy him, you are unbearable every woman before or after you is doused in your name you fill his mouth his teeth ache with memory of taste his body just a long shadow seeking yours but you are always too intense frightening in the way you want him unashamed and sacrificial he tells you that no man can live up to the one who lives in your head and you tried to change didn’t you? closed your mouth more tried to be softer prettier less volatile, less awake but even when sleeping you could feel him travelling away from you in his dreams so what did you want to do love split his head open? you can’t make homes out of human beings someone should have already told you that and if he wants to leave then let him leave you are terrifying and strange and beautiful something not everyone knows how to love.
Be a lady they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Your pants are too tight. Don’t show so much skin. Don’t show your thighs. Don’t show your breasts. Don’t show your midriff. Don’t show your cleavage. Don’t show your underwear. Don’t show your shoulders. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. Don’t wear those sweatpants; you look like you’ve let yourself go.
Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. Skip dessert. You need to lose weight. Fit into that dress. Go on a diet. Watch what you eat. Eat celery. Chew gum. Drink lots of water. You have to fit into those jeans. God, you look like a skeleton. Why don’t you just eat? You look emaciated. You look sick. Eat a burger. Men like women with some meat on their bones. Be small. Be light. Be little. Be petite. Be feminine. Be a size zero. Be a double zero. Be nothing. Be less than nothing.
Be a lady they said. Remove your body hair. Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Shave your bikini line. Wax your face. Wax your arms. Wax your eyebrows. Get rid of your mustache. Bleach this. Bleach that. Lighten your skin. Tan your skin. Eradicate your scars. Cover your stretch marks. Tighten your abs. Plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles. Lift your face. Tuck your tummy. Thin your thighs. Tone your calves. Perk up your boobs. Look natural. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be confident. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard.
Be a lady they said. Wear makeup. Prime your face. Conceal your blemishes. Contour your nose. Highlight your cheekbones. Line your lids. Fill in your brows. Lengthen your lashes. Color your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. Your ends are split. Highlight your hair. Your roots are showing. Dye your hair. Not blue, that looks unnatural. You’re going grey. You look so old. Look young. Look youthful. Look ageless. Don’t get old. Women don’t get old. Old is ugly. Men don’t like ugly.
Be a lady they said. Save yourself. Be pure. Be virginal. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t flirt. Don’t be a skank. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around. Don’t lose your dignity. Don’t have sex with too many men. Don’t give yourself away. Men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be so up tight. Have a little fun. Smile more. Pleasure men. Be experienced. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virginal. Be sexy. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls.
Be a lady they said. Don’t talk too loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. Be pleasing. Don’t complain. Let him down easy. Boost his ego. Make him fall for you. Men want what they can’t have. Don’t give yourself away. Make him work for it. Men love the chase. Fold his clothes. Cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job. You’ll make a good wife some day. Take his last name. You hyphenated your name? Crazy feminist. Give him children. You don’t want children? You will some day. You’ll change your mind.
Be a lady they said. Don’t get raped. Protect yourself. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that. Don’t show too much. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. Have a buddy. Walk where it is well lit. Stay in the safe neighborhoods. Tell someone where you’re going. Bring pepper spray. Buy a rape whistle. Hold your keys like a weapon. Take a self-defense course. Check your trunk. Lock your doors. Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes. Don’t look easy. Don’t attract attention. Don’t work late. Don’t crack dirty jokes. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.
“From the depths of the water I cried out to you, and from the depths of the earth I will call to those who pass by me. Watch for me. See me. And if you find another who is like me, I will give him the morning star.”
From the Aurora Consurgens manuscript, 15th century
I have spent my entire life suffering casualties of war. Not just during my teen and adult years, but honestly, my entire life. Since the day I was born; when Hitler was a corporal. Before I learned to walk, before I could utter human language, I’ve been a soldier of misfortune in an involuntary vanguard; engaged in nuclear hostilities and napalm death. And I have always been Awkward Squad.
When it comes to interpersonal relationships in a family dynamic, complete honesty is not something merely excruciatingly hard won with intensive and empathetic therapy and learning proper communication skills. No. “Oh, my sweet summer child.” 2 The probability of its existence is Pluto-remote, if not out of the orbit of possibility altogether. Cognitive dissonance “is a helluva drug.”3
Calling for accountability from people in your personal life on a public platform is never, ever, ever a canny idea; particularly on a space wide open to anonymous invasion from strangers’ eyes staring out from the darkest depths of the internet and beyond. Especially if the people you are playing j’accuse with are always the last ones to see themselves for what they really are. On the contrary, they are in fact overly obsessed with their social standing and what people think of them. They won’t tolerate anything from anyone, no matter how close, not even if blood related, if it jiggles or scratches at the flawless and enviable Jungian personas they purport to the world.
Their worst fear isn’t losing loved ones to death or suicide, their worst fear is what their peers might think of them if the truth came out. At forty-three, I’m still not sure what this “truth” is, really. I suppose everyone has their truth; the truth they don’t want anyone else to see. I’ve only caught glimpses of their truths, enough to know that I couldn’t emotionally compensate if their personas disappeared. I have a shuddering suspicion their full Monty is something akin to a Lovecraftian nightmare.
So, I’m not interested in crucifying guilty parties, here. Or trying to hold anyone besides myself to account for the tatty suitcases full of damage and agony that I drag around with me every day. Pursuing that goal is without merit for me at this point. I’ve established beyond all doubt that it’s utterly pointless and offers me no emotional probate or sentimental assuagement, anyway.
I will say that if you have one narcissist or superiority complex in your immediate family, you are pretty well in a state. If that narcissist is personally responsible for your emotional and physical wellbeing and development, well, you live a life on the tenterhooks. But if you’re like me, those comparisons aren’t quite even or just so. Seriously. Not even a little bit. I had three parents. Two are surviving. One, who died in 2012, was highly likely suffering from an illness or illnesses like what I deal with; caused by the pain and invisible keloid scars from layers of trauma and family violence. I’ll never know now. She never accepted that she had a problem. She drank herself to death instead. That was the most comforting and nurturing parental relationship I had, and she could be a real waspish, spiteful shrew when she wanted to be, let me tell you.
The other two are more of a sinister nature. I had not one suspected narcissist in my immediate family responsible for my care, but two. Two. In all things, despite the rarity of narcissistic personalities partnering with others of the same sick bent for a long-term relationship, they were always a united front against not just the world outside our family, but also against me personally. And to this very day, they still readily (and not without glee) embody the title I gave them: The Best Heavyweight Gaslighting Tag Team Champions in the World.
My background was a perfectly diabolical Agatha Christie set up. I never had a chance. Not even an atheist’s prayer of a hope to avoid disaster and catastrophe. So, when I moved to Arizona in the year 1999 after giving birth to my first child, my life took an even darker road. I stumbled through a self-perpetuating series of victimizations in abusive and exploitative intimate relationships full of vicious psychological ill-use, physical battery, pathological control, repeated rape and sodomy, physical torture, and accumulated and compounded near miss almost murderings.
Then, every relationship after, apart from one, was abusive too. I walked away from my last abusive relationship in 2018, and it took a widowmaker heart attack to get me to do it. All these mentioned events were also punctuated and stricken through in every part with multiple attempts to end my own suffering full stop. Even that widowmaker heart attack was self-induced.
The end results? Fifteen years of looking into a clouded, warped mirror and sorting through the DSM-5 searching for shadow answers that never fully clicked. A chronic struggle with the toxic side effects and exacerbation of symptom severity because of the countless number of psychotropic medications that were casually thrown at me in massive doses by ethically questionable psychiatric professionals with compassion fatigue, using almost pure guesswork and random experimentation to see what, if anything, might stick.
Until finally, in utter desperation and total defeat, I reached out to a trusted friend and PhD Childhood Trauma Specialist. She knew me very well from our long-time connection on social media, and she told me exactly what was broken in me and why; that it was not my fault at all and never had been. And as I sobbed in relief, she then said to me emphatically that despite me being told to my face by a licensed therapist (during a session) in the past that there was no hope at all for “people like me,” full remission was not just possible, but even probable and highly likely.
I accepted her diagnosis of Complex Trauma Disorder, or CPTSD, and fully committed to one-on-one therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy groups twice a week, every week. And I will go on with these self-improvement pursuits forever and a thousand years, or so long as I live, like that abhorrent Celine Dion “Titanic” song, if that’s what it takes.
After just ten weeks of treatment, I now have some real perspective. And hope. And faith. And trust. And I love myself, I think. Maybe. Since starting therapy, I haven’t had any suicidal thoughts at all. Not even for a moment. Astounding. For the very first time in my entire life of over four decades, I believe I’m going to be okay and that being okay is positive and life affirming and feeds itself and will eventually grow. Like Boston ivy, maybe. But even so, CPTSD is no uncomplicated thing. If you want to know what it’s like living in the headspace of someone like me, someone who has an Italian Timpano di Paste of Trauma inside of their body, scarring their psyche, and a very haunted, aching, throbbing heart, I have a finespun metaphor that’s straight from the legends, myths, and lore of the fathomless sea.
People like us, people like me, we’re all drama school alumni; our first starring roles after graduation are the titular characters in the 2003 film “Open Water.” The film follows the true story of a couple on vacation who get on a boat to go scuba dive and explore a local reef. But they swim too far out and are gone too long, and the boat captain doesn’t count heads as swimmers return to the boat. The rest of the scuba divers and crew don’t notice anyone is missing, so the boat calls it a fun day and goes back to shore, leaving this couple all alone in the middle of the ocean to tread water until they exhaust themselves to death, are eaten by predators, die of exposure, or drown, whatever comes first. Supposedly, they lasted three days. No trace of the divers was ever found. And we cast mates, who took these parts as our first gig, are on location at this deep-water set doing our very best, but we are all method acting in spite of ourselves and our would-be lofty duty to craft, because we all have extreme and unrelenting thalassophobia.
And if it’s not bad enough to tread water that stretches as far as the eye can see without rescue or even a second of rest, we’re constantly all too aware of the inexorable: that at all times, we await The Kraken and the other monsters too colossal to see. They live in the pitch black of the Mariana Trench and wait for us. And when we come, they rise from the belly of the deep blue to swallow us whole and drag us down to Davy Jones’ Locker for all eternity.
To further season our character and for the amusement of a capricious and cruel Poseidon, there are also incessant Category 5 hurricanes, fetid red tides that stretch for miles, Fukushima disasters that come bearing freakish tidings and Minamata disease, tsunamis, and perfect storms that swallow any and all would-be friends and empathetic rescuers, just like the Andrea Gail, in one single gulp.
We are all of these water elements, and more, all of the time. Rampageous squalls, waterspouts, maelstroms, doldrums that induce primeval and fatal ennui, and finally, just to add more salt to the water in our mouths and lungs, we also get Megalodons and Moby Dicks. And no one can save us from ourselves. No one can rescue me.
Oh, and, if you have someone you dearly love with CPTSD and you’re thinking you’ll just wriggle a couple of floaties on your biceps and jump for it, fucking don’t. You cannot. The first rule of life guarding is when a drowning swimmer jumps on top of you, you must push them the hell away or risk your own death. I also need to point out here: we do not come from the factory with any lifesaving accoutrement. No rafts, no floatation devices, no wooden dinghy with a hole in the stern and a handy bucket, not a one. Not one solitary inflatable boat to be had aboard this vessel, mateys. Sorry. It might be best for you to go ahead and start tuning your violins for “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”5 I only hope you can someday forgive me. If it brings you any comfort, you are not the first casualty, and you won’t be the last. And every single one breaks my heart to pieces and forever after, I will grieve. I must live every single day with that too.
All these woes aren’t even personal crucibles that we can collect and count off as triumphs as they accumulate. They merely test our spiritual resolve and emotional fortitude: Sink or swim, dude. This is fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.
“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim. Swim.”6
When faced with all of this emotional intensity and the giving of my flesh and blood in personal efforts over my life just to continue to breathe, all I really know about myself, the very core of me, is one thing: Mystery. Writers and poets (me included) seem to throw out the term “mercurial” a lot in their work, too many times, in a very blasé manner. I’m here to tell you: that word and this shit is not a fucking game. Having mercury in your veins is not pretty, fascinating, romantic, or alluring at all. It’s toxic. It poisons absolutely everything.
It’s not a melodramatic, intensely hued dream full of introspective journaling, intellectual repartee with attractive people, emotional ecstasy in film noir, spine-tingling poetry, and inexplicable crying fits after fantastic sex. It’s not Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. It’s a living nightmare. I am nothing if not a force of nature, right down to my mitochondria, platelets, and white blood cells. And what is striking in that is the word force, because it distinctly lacks the essence of both choice and consent. And nobody, nobody, ever finds that “good times,” margaritas, and smooth sailing with Jimmy Buffett tunes playing in the background.
And although I can create beauty and charm and crease people up, I also love harder than love has ever loved, and it comes with an extortionate price. It’s a supple love, yes. Strong-boned. Hard wired. Nearly impossible to dissuade once it entrenches itself in my emotional folds. It can heal and levitate and overjoy and endear. And yet, in the very same strokes of over-saturated passion, it can cripple, eviscerate, maim, and kill. It has before. And will again, no matter that my heart might desire otherwise. No matter how I feel.
I’m not a source of light. I’m a vessel. I’m a vacuum. I’m a conduit for the elements. I’m a chasm hellmouth of need. The love I bear comes with it an equal measure of malevolence that I cannot fully control, because the malevolence was carved into me by those that were supposed to love me unconditionally but intentionally chose not to do so. And no matter what I want or intend, or what preparations, disclaimers, and reparations I might make in hope of avoidance or remaining need for recompense, I don’t just devastate… At my heart, even after all the skin, gore, scar tissue, and necrosis are surgically excised and pulled out of the way to fully expose me as an open wound that hemorrhages sensitivity, empathy, need, and vulnerability (often fatally), I am still elementally and utterly annihilating.
“If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.”
-Sylvia. Fucking. Plath.
“Underwater Bride” is a song by the Brighton-based folk artist Passenger AKA Mike Rosenberg, off his 2009 album Wide Eyes, Blind Love.
Quote by character Old Nan from the book A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. HarperCollins. 1996.
Quote by musician Rick James referencing his personal cocaine abuse. Interviewed on The Chappelle Show on Comedy Central. 2004
Quote by character Dory from the film Finding Nemo. Disney Animation Studios. 2003.
Alleged (by A first-class Canadian passenger, Vera Dick, and several other passengers) to be the very last song played by the doomed band on the sinking Titanic.
Featured Cover Photo: Artist: Toni Frissell, Title: Weeki Wachee Spring, Florida, Year: 1947
“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.”
So, I…. cannot write my novel, presently. My PC took a dirt nap midway through Chapter One, and I cannot make it do what I tell it to even ten minutes after I tell it to do it, much less five seconds before I tell it to, as is the proper joy sparking way. I am heavily pregnant with words, more full of ideas than I’ve been in years, and I bloody hate pregnancy. And also, I’m really bloated and crying at stupid things, and there are cramps and I really want something to eat but fucking hell, not that! Hork. But, no. No baby. I’ve been told by my stupid turkey desktop that even if I am fully dilated and in hard labor, I just have to clench the curtains tight and… “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down…” hold the baby in for a bit. Everything’s fine.
So, I can’t make any progress until my new laptop arrives. But, I thought I would post the introduction, because there are no spoilers, and I am wondering if it’s truly as effective as I feel it is.
Before you read it and then comment and start arguing with me about my statements, slow your ponies. This introduction has a formal tone, because I am using it to set the tone of the story, the testimony, I’m going to write down. I do not hold these beliefs as accurate facts. I leave that fuckery up to our government. I also needed to put some sort of subtle, non-spoilery Trigger Warning before people run across what’s coming and get incredibly hurt and disturbed without warning. No further ado:
Family violence is not a blood puddle of aberration that lurks in the dark psyches of certain criminal minds: society’s shunned dregs; those labeled as personified evolutionary misfires, the few rather than the many. Monsters and predators are the rule rather than the exception. Domestic and sexual violence and the iron fist of patriarchal entitlement will never die or fully disappear from civilization. It is too effective. It is too efficient. It is too easily done. It is embedded in the genomes of our species. It is our most natural, albeit horrific, state.
We cannot win a fight against our own biology. Not with feminism. Not with compassionate parenting. Not with safety and support systems. Not with courtroom justice or the rule of law. Not with honesty. Not with vulnerability. Certainly, not with psychiatry. The theories of nature versus nurture are just semantics. Pointless arguments that we will continue to use to dialectically soothe ourselves with in perpetual intellectual pushes and pulls; verbal and philosophical confrontations comparing and contrasting the best and worst of ourselves until the end of us all, with no purpose and no final key to the puzzle of why we fall in love, marry, fuck, give birth, fight, murder, and devour our own young.
No one tells this bedrock truth. For good reason. Not the social workers or the police. Not the healthcare workers. Not the trauma therapists or the medical examiners that autopsy the victims unsaved. How could we ever go on breathing and thinking and carrying through if we women actually admitted the truth to ourselves about what is truly inside of the partners we need to be able to love if we want to survive?
In the broadest perspectives of Darwin’s Origin and how we two legged creatures measure time, the castes of our society whose missions are to identify, observe, record, educate, prosecute, and attempt to alter our cultural belief systems to mitigate and eliminate intimate violence and child abuse ultimately serve no purpose at all in the scope of the human condition and will never succeed in progressing our consciousness or teaching us permanent change. The only thing that distills the most concentrated and proactive forms of empathy and compassion is extreme and prolonged suffering. And only loss, pain, passion, cruelty, and crime do that. We homosapiens all delude ourselves into thinking our personal crucibles have spiritual meaning and scope and cause lasting change. Our hard scrabble climbs up to the summits of abiding peace, contentment, transcendence, and acceptance of ourselves and each other is such a slow, brutal, and perilous ascent that most never achieve it.
Even when we do manage to miraculously achieve it, acknowledging that it does not matter to anyone except our own selves is something not even one existentially aware being can fully face, especially alone. And so base predation and victimization of each other, particularly those we claim to love the most, persist in spite of our noblest efforts. Not just alongside of us where we watch it happen to other people, but also inside of us, until it has completed its natural purpose in every generation: biological perseverance of the physically and mentally strongest members of the species. The engine of that biological compulsion is distilled in our subconscious Ids and stored in the gristle and gore of our bodies in the form of unwavering and inexorable adherence to the codex of instructions carved into our bones by the Prehistoric DNA that constructs our cells… That we must personally do anything and everything it takes to make sure the blood and bone in our bodies survives our deaths, above anyone and everyone else. Yes, it is a competition. It is a race we are not allowed to scratch out of or intellectualize. Our genetics win or our species dies. And every blood cell, nerve end, synapse, and autonomous physical response in our corporeal forms are knitted around that crux. And we will do anything to achieve it. Absolutely anything at all.’
And there you go. There you have it. I must say here that this book has a more ambitious premise than what you are being led to believe by this brief piece. It won’t all be grim and dark. I have a plan, people, you’re all just going to have to trust me. I have not just one major redemption arc, but two.
I have a lot of opinions on domestic violence, and I’ve been through the cycle many times over many years, since before I learned to speak, up until two years ago when the man who said he loved me was so vicious and malevolent towards me that I attempted suicide and very nearly succeeded. My choice of poison induced a massive heart attack that medical professionals have nicknamed a “Widow Maker,” because not many people survive it. When I woke up, my cardiologist, with a deadly serious look on his face, told me “I’m surprised you’re alive.”
And that was my moment. I woke up alive and this man had failed to win the game he was playing with me. I won. And then the song “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac came to me in my hospital bed and I just nodded my head to St. Felicia and walked the fuck on.
The cover photo you see is upsetting. I know. It’s horrific. That was the point. Years ago, I tried to launch a domestic violence charity. I have always had a strong connection to the character of Ophelia from Hamlet and most Shakespeare nerds try to disagree with me, but I feel like what happened to her was because Hamlet was a domestic violence abuser. He was a bully. End of. Her death was blood on his hands.
The dream was a charity that supported all victims of domestic violence. The women, the children, the men who aren’t allowed to be a victim but get abused anyway and then aren’t allowed to talk about it… and the animals, who are usually the first victims of these monsters, because they are absolutely helpless and without a voice to speak for themselves. I couldn’t launch it. The expense and planning and legal paperwork and staffing and investment made it impossible for me to pull off on my own, with the income I don’t have. But maybe, if this book hits the right key with the right people, I will bring it back again.
P.S. Yes indeed, that is Tom Hardy in the top left of the graphic, haha. If Tom Hardy weeps, you know that shit has gone really wrong and something must be done immediately. This graphic was just a mockup of an idea and never meant for any official use. I have lost the official graphics that I had designed by a professional that turned out gorgeously (I will never forgive myself for doing so, they were just beautiful and devastating and bold), so this had to do.
The graphics were used on the charity website I had made. The theme was black and white photographs of victims, grave stones and sculptures much like you see at cemeteries like Pére Lachaise in Paris, and painfully round, heart’s-blood-red blooming roses, with tears of dew on their bloodied petals.
I had hope of eventually contacting Tori Amos to ask if she would allow me to use her song “Ophelia” to play on the website. This song was another inspiration for my soul, and very much the charity. It is just so perfect and so very me.
The Fairy Goddess Mother, Tori Amos, who I have mentioned on this blog before, is a massive sponsor for RAINN and has been for as long as I can remember and I first discovered her music at fourteen. In my personal interpretation, this song tells Ophelia’s real story, all of the parts about Ophelia that Shakey, as a male playwright existing in a patriarchal society supporting his male main character hero, decided to omit.
I built the charity’s now long defunct website with this song on repeat. Ironically, when I was still seeing that beast that tried to kill me dead two years ago, I dumped him at a cheap hotel to sulk all night while I went to see Tori live for my first time in Mesa. Yes, sobbing was sobbed. I went with a dear friend, I bought us tickets for her birthday, and when Tori began the first refrain of “Ophelia,” I couldn’t. I tried as hard as I could to keep it in, but the sob punched past my throat and came out as a very bizarre noise that was somewhere between a strangled goose honk and a sneeze. Feelings were felt. I saw Tori play this song. It felt like she played it just for me.
I have decided to legally change my name again (for the last time) to finally free me of all of my abuse and family violence trauma… I’m dropping the hyphen in my surname and deleting the middle name my mother gave me after herself that I’ve always hated, and I’m replacing it with the French name, Ophélie. Because I will always have Paris.
I lived in Paris for a short while, when I was young and fresh; on the cusp of sixteen. Some of my most sacred memories of my life are of my time in Paris. Halcyon days, really. I spent many afternoons in the gardens of Musée Rodin in the Parisian air, hearing the birdsong and the metropolitan hum of the City of Lights, sketching the people and the statues, fully mindful in the embrace of tranquility. That is my safe place, the place I have trained myself to go to in my mind when flashbacks from my abuse kick in and I need to put the brakes on or else. That park bench is everything. I will always have Paris.
Finally, (sorry this was so long), I want to end this post with a little darling of mine that I wrote years ago, now. I’ve written a lot of poetry to be proud of. But, for whatever reason, this teeny little sharp-shaped box of precisely neat words is my all time favourite.
Happiness is a wild animal that I only glimpse for seconds at a time before it bolts for its own well-being. When the fox and the wolf and the roe actually approach and lie down in the dark forest next to me, I am so profoundly grateful for their fragile trust and desire for my company that it crushes my heart into a fine powder and I can only wrack in agony. I freeze. Can’t even breathe. For fear that they will realize the poison of my mercury and lose all faith in me. This is what it’s like to live with Complex Trauma Disorder.