Ding Dong the Witch is STILL Dead

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Two years after the death of my Stepmother I found myself weeping with joy. She’s gone. She’s really really gone. The woman who left my half sister in a bathtub face down (and I had to revive with CPR) and then punched me in the face for telling her that she had nearly killed her own little girl is never going to hurt me again.

You can get mad at me if you want for being happy over someone’s death, but if you are, perhaps you’ve never been hurt and abused by someone to the point I was. I’ll share some of my memories of her since I’m sure that my half-sister will be telling the world how sad she is that the mommy who nearly killed her on repeated occasions is finally out of this world.

Lets start with the basics. My stepmother was an abusive alcoholic who made…

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Death, Grief and the Damned

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My brother is dying because of extreme alcohol abuse. His liver and kidneys are dead. I’m told it’s a matter of days at best.

How do you deal with it when someone used to be close to you who was abusive and horrible to you your whole life is dying?

I’m trying to think about the good times only and not the bad.

This is some of the bad: My brother made it clear that he didn’t want me in his life. He told me I wasn’t good enough to get to know my niece and nephew. He hung up on me and laughed when I called him when I was young and begged for him to come and help because I was so so scared for me and my little brother.
There’s this enormous hole. Like a rotten tooth that’s caused you pain for years and is suddenly being…

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After All These Years My Abuser Still Tries The Same Tactics He Used When I Was Five

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A round of applause for the man who abused me in every way for fifteen years and then when I ran away from home convinced my whole family that the only reason I ran away was because I was mentally unstable. My Father has accused three people of being crazy: Philip Mann, My mother and me. I’m the only one of the three still alive. The first died by a gunshot that was ruled suicide and my mother died in a bizarre accident that was suspected as poisoning.

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I didn’t know why everyone acted so oddly towards me until someone made one too many slips and then I found out the truth. This is the same man who convinced me that Philip Mann, a good friend of mine was schizophrenic and when I finally, just this year read the coroner’s report found out that HE HAD NEVER BEEN IN…

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Letter to ICBC

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ICBC:
run over right leg side few swelling continues to spread down leg
I have already said all of this to your reps before I was treated badly enough that I finally sought legal council. All of this should be on file.

I was run over on a lit crosswalk on July 16th at around 11:30 pm in Dawson Creek, B.C.
I was looking very closely when I walked because it was late at night but a friend of mine was in town to go to the Journey concert.
A white car stopped in the near lane (on my left). We did the little ‘acknowledged’ wave to each other and I looked again and there was nobody coming from the right. I started walking, when I got past the near car he continued on his way, I looked right after him and into the far lane. There was still no one coming. I glanced to my left and then back to the…

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How the Hex Was Won

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How the Hex Was Won

By Virginia Carraway Stark

It was time to go into the market. Our colony was proud of how self-sufficient we had become. We had worked hard, that was what we did: Work hard.

Nevertheless, there were many things that we had to go to market for even now. The lands Catherine the Great had given our family in the south of Russia had been rich and fertile but had few people in it. She wanted someone she could trust to live there and farm it and make it even richer than it was naturally. Having known of the people of Menno Simon as a child growing up in Prussia and Pomerania, she had known of our ways and trusted the great swathe of land to us. She had trusted rightly and we had diligently worked to make the lands more fertile and to guard the…

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My Global Apologies

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My Global Apologies
By Virginia Carraway Stark

There was no majesty in how she picked up her laptop and started writing, there was only a girl. A girl with red hair and blue eyes that people found beautiful. Her red tiger striped pajamas and her pink tank top were poor armor for the letter she was about to write. She started off slowly, with what she knew had to be said.

“I would like to apologize to the world at large and to the people in particular who have found it necessary to repeatedly describe me as ‘too’,” She started. Her apology was a farce. She wasn’t sorry for it except in how it brought misadventure to her and jealous green eyes staring from the eyes of those who had been friends.

She continued, “From the first time in kindergarten when I took my top off because the boys took…

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The Irregulars

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The Irregulars is one of my favorite collaborative projects that I’m currently involved in. It’s the story of eight children without homes or families and it’s also about the trauma that has come with that. The kids form a family unit together and as so often seems to happen these days, it isn’t the family you’re born with that counts, it’s the spiritual family along the way that gets you through life, the world and everything.

Along with their traumas, they each have special talents. They aren’t regular street kids, but their powers make them hunted by people who would exploit their powers. I came up with the idea for the concept of the story behind The Irregulars but Jason Pere, one of my co-authors helped in crafting biographies and talents for each of the kids. After that we recruited a crack team of writers to take on the perspective…

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Thoughts in an MRI

Thoughts in an MRI

By Virginia Carraway Stark

“I read what you wrote,” She said. Her flame of red hair was ringed in platinum, making her look like an angel as she pulled broccoli out of a shopping bag to make a salad.

I scanned my mind, such a loaded statement, I couldn’t think about which ‘what I had wrote’ my Godmother meant but I suspected. How she would have found it was what surprised be as I rarely saw her around my Facebook page and I had never told her about my blog.

molly and charlie

My Godparents

The machine whirled around me while I thought over our visit with Molly and Charlie.

Chug chug chug chug whir whir whir

mri scanner

I had dosed myself with sedatives and I wasn’t feeling particularly anxious or upset. I had the stoic feeling that settles on me whenever an ordeal befalls me, this too shall pass.

I had always had a huge reserve of stoicism to me, it was at odds with my delicate nature. I’m not build for endurance physically but mentally I have always been unstoppable. The physical world was something that put my will on pause from time to time throughout my entire life. My basic belief structure is that the world is made up of good things, good time, love and beauty that are occasionally disrupted by waves ‘real life’ happening. It happens to everyone and it is always in my mind this too shall pass.

My eyes were closed in the machine. They had offered to put a face cloth on my face and I had looked at them like they were insane. One of the worst feeling of claustrophobia is having your airways obstructed and having my nose and mouth covered and being shoved into a tiny loud tube seemed absurd to me even in my sedated state.

mri

They argued with me and insisted that it was the sight of the machinery was what would be upsetting for me. I had heard a lot of people who comment about their MRI experiences say that it felt like their brains had been ‘rifled through’ and had laughingly said that this must be what it would feel like to be probulated by aliens. One person said that if you listened closely you could hear a robotic voice saying ‘taking picture’ during the loud whirling part of the noisy procedure but I sure didn’t hear anything like that.

All alien probulations aside the machine itself wasn’t as bad as all that and I thought about dinner with Molly and Charlie Mumert to distract myself.

Molly had been referring to the letter I had written to everyone who knew me as a child. It was a hard letter to write and her first words to me were an apology. Uncle Charlie didn’t say anything, he just hugged me extra hard.

The problem with abused children is that there is no way to sweep them up into your arms and away from danger. No matter how much you know or guess, the best you can do is cause a disruption through social services and possibly put the child into strange environments and possibly new dangers that could be worse than the ones that they are already dealing with.

I remember one night when I was very young, only about three or so, we were driving home to Dawson from the Mumerts and my Dad asked what we would thought if anything ever happened to him and mom if we went to live with the Mumerts.

My first reaction was a totally disloyal feeling towards my family. Live with the Mumerts?

It was the equivalent of being sent to Hogwarts or some other magical place. I thought of the regular meals, of the massive library where I was encouraged to read and allowed to read any book on any of the shelves. I thought about their safe hugs and picking raspberries with Aunt Molly I thought of Charlie and his endless patience, not just for me but for every child, animal or human in his presence.

I terrible feeling came over me in that moment. I moment where I wished my parents would die. Just die. Just leave me alone. Just go away. Just be part of this too shall pass.

In the back seat of the car I choked on my ability to speak. My brother Leonard was the first to reply, “I guess that would be okay, I’d rather stay with Emily and Jerry though.”

Emily was Molly’s sister and she had two pretty girls around my brother’s age. I loved my Aunt Emily nearly as much as I loved my Aunt Molly and she too had a library. A narrow staircase made more narrow by being lined on both sides with books, books stashed in every room. The little house with it’s attic bedrooms was filled with books, whole shelves lined the area behind the toilet in the spare washroom.

She taught me how to spin on her spinning wheel and we made cookies together while Jerry smoked a pipe and told stories.

I loved Emily and Jerry but Molly and Charlie had my heart. They were kindred spirits. Their house was filled with quietude and oddities. Molly’s grace and elegance and the love she and Charlie had for each other were hallmarks I held for myself in any relationship I would ever have in the future. I saw the looks between them, the way he held her, the love and trust between them and that was the gold standard of love to me.

grandfather clock molly

Their house was filled with silence, only the ticking of the grandfather clock telling the time and tolling the hour interrupted hours of reading in the many nooks of their house. When we arrived a half wolf dog would greet us. Inside dachaunds ruled the roost. There was a drawer at the bottom of an ancient sidebar filled with coloring books and toys that would change from time to time, but the only time I played with them was when I wanted to listen in on the adult conversation. The rest of the time I was a spirit in their house, roaming from room to to room. Marveling at the wonders on the glass shelves that lit up and lined the hallway to the basements. An ostrich egg that had been collected, a rock with eyes glued on it, a dozen stories inhabited the things that lived in that house. Quiet or loud, the house had a way of silencing the noise and making it a place of hallowed sanctuary.

If I made it past the fascination of the wonders on the hallway shelves I would be sure to be found in the first door on the left where the library hid. Behind one of the shelves was a semi-hidden doorway that I made much of in my mind and played out stories of magic and wonder of castles and forbidden labratories and the libraries of magicians. In reality it was where Molly kept her freezers and her preserves but in my mind it was a secret place that could become anyplace.

secret passsage mother and child

Upstairs was the kitchen, and the heart of the house that beat every minute around Aunt Molly. Her laughter penetrated the walls and her food held her happiness and her prayers in every mouthful.

I would often navigate past the kitchen and into the living room if haunted laboratories and secret castles passages were not what interested me, or if my brother Leonard was being a bother big brothers so often are, and into the living room. This was where the grandfather clock lived. I would watch the chains move slowly as the seconds at them up. They were an invitation to my mind to think of perpetual motion machines and my heated disputes with my brother that you could too make a perpetual motion machine, most of those discussions started by that clock.

In this part of the house it was nearly always dark but there were chairs, couches and lamps placed anywhere a young girl might want to read. A piano sat in one corner and a perfectly sculpted ‘infinity’ sculpture of a mother holding a child sat under the picture of the moon. An owl haunted another wall that guarded the way to Molly and Charlie’s bedroom. A sacred room that I had never been in and had no wish to explore. The owl watching would have warned me off if my heart hadn’t already been happy to leave their secret safe and untainted from the blight of my parent’s marriage that I had no doubt followed me like a cloud. This part of the house was always silent. Even when the adults retired from dinner and on the rare ocassion they went to the den, their voices were quiet and thoughtful. It was a good thinking room.

cozy molly

(Room not actually pictured, it was quieter than this but as close as I could find)

Those were the thoughts that I choked on while my brother prattled on about the benefits of living with Emily and Jerry and I, for one, evil, heartfelt moment, wished both of my parents dead.

Those thoughts, congealed like a jello mold were what flooded my mind when my Aunt Molly apologized after all these years for not doing more. How to explain to her what she had one for me in showing me how love could be. How to explain that I knew, even as a child that there was no way for her to scoop me up in her arms and to keep me.

“There was nothing you could have done,” Was all I replied. All these thoughts hammering at my heart. All the peace she gave me, all the ideas of what a home could be, what love could be. How her example, her grace, her fortitude, her love and her smile and helped me to sidestep the pitfalls that turn children into their parents. How could I explain to her how closely I watched her ever movement when I was a child, how I internalized her as my mother when my own mother failed me. How I would never let a man treat me the way my father treated my mother or how he treated me because of their example.

Meanwhile the machine whirled around me chugging and whirling and being entirely inexplicable. It was like being a child all over again. Subjected to noise, not understanding the purpose of the loudness or discomfort but trying as always to be very very good. Trying not to move, it would blur the image. The surge of happiness when I was told through the nearly inaudible microphone, ‘You’re doing very well, Virginia. Just a little bit longer.’

That was the mantra of my entire life ‘You’re doing very well and the pain will only be for a little bit longer.’.

There were times I admit, when things were very bad for me that I went to a facsimily of my godparents house in my mind. I could listen to the godfather clock ticking and believe in the endless possibilities of perpetual motion machines of mother’s holding their children and having only love in their eyes as they looked down at the baby they held in their arms.

When my own mother refused to move or feed or clothe me I would think of Molly and her endless grace and I would find a way to be my own mother. I would find food, I would find clothes and I would seek out others with the resonance and kindness that she emitted like a beacon to me. She showed me that there was always good in the world and even if I couldn’t stay with her and Charlie forever I could align myself with them in my heart and mind. I could find my own way to grace and love and happiness because I was a good girl and this would be over soon.

mother mary

They finally let me out of the machine. I could barely stand I was so dizzy and as soon as I left the ‘safety zone’ area my husband was waiting for me. The husband I had found for myself that looks at me with the same sort of love that Charlie looks at Molly with. The husband I know I can trust and who would never do any of the things to me that my father did to mother, especially when she was weak and vulnerable like I was now.

I had formed a life for myself that lacked the stability and grace of my godparent’s life. My life is dynamic and terrible and wonderful things are a staple in my life but nearly always, the good things outweigh the bad.

Even after being run over by the minivan people tell me they are jealous of my life. I laugh and ask them if they’re sure of that and to be careful what they wish for.

Maybe one day I will master the peace my godparents exude and that I was never quite able to capture for my own understanding. Maybe one day I’ll figure that part of things out, or maybe my nature is too much to ever be like that. Maybe I will never have an angel’s corona of silver to give my flame a halo. Maybe I’m made of a different sort of substance too dynamic to ever find that sort of quietude.

little virginia

(Picture of Me, too dynamic to be held down for long, my life has an air of the ‘curiouser and curioser’ that  better angels are not cursed with)

Maybe I wouldn’t be happy if things were ever that calm. Maybe my nature is so dynamic that to imitate her peace is to betray myself. Understanding such things, coming to the wisdom that we can learn but we cannot emulate is something else entirely. I have learned that stoics learn wisdom even if it often comes to us the hard way.

Katy’s Delusion: Children of Alcoholics

 

truth

I saved my half sister’s life when she was a baby. I didn’t think twice about it, I grabbed her out of a bathtub of water that was spilling over the edge of the tub and flooding the hallway. She was face down in the water, her mother drunk and passed out on the couch.

What did I get for my troubles?

Well, my half sister Katy won’t talk to me now because I criticized her mother for being a bad person in the present.  In the past, my step mother punched me in the face when I told the drunken hag that she had almost let her baby die.

Yep. That’s the thanks that I got for saving a human life. My sister never said ‘thank you’, no one did. My older brother spread stories about me and said I ‘lived the wrong lifestyle’ and wouldn’t let me talk to my niece and nephew. I think he says that because I ran away from home when I was just about sixteen as a result of being punched in the face and telling social services and the police about it. I’m not sure of his real reasons. He’s never told me to my face, only whispers behind my back.

My half-sister is a big girl now and she thinks she is the only one who ever lost a mother. I lost my mother eight years ago while I was gone from my family to escape the abuse. My mother wasn’t perfect either but I still lost her. Why is my loss less important than Katy’s loss?

When Katy was about three or four the woman delivering the mail heard a baby screaming in the house. She looked in the window and saw that the house was filthy and could see my stepmother Judy passed out in the living room. I would imagine it was in about the same spot that she was passed out when I woke her up with the crying and recently resuscitated infant in my arms and got punched for saving her child’s life. She liked to swan dive onto the couch.

The mail carrier tried the doorknob and it was unlocked.  She came into the house and followed the sound of the screaming baby to the bathroom where Katy had become stuck behind the toilet and was covered in her own filth and waste. Nobody knows how long she was stuck there.

When my stepmother died last year around this time I posted a meme that said, ‘ding dong the witch is dead’. I was so relieved that the insanity was over. Judy would stalk me, drive around and around my block, park outside the house until the cops chased her away.  I worried for my safety and the safety of my family and pets. I found poison set out for my dogs. Hearing that she was dead was exactly like hearing the boogeyman wasn’t real and being able to truly believe it. She was truly the most wicked of witches that there ever was.

I wasn’t the only one who suffered from her abuse. I ran away and Katy lived with the abuse her whole life. When Judy was alive Katy would call her and yell and scream at Judy and alternately extort large sums of cash out of her as an ‘apology’ for something her mother did when she was drunk. She obviously had a lot of anger to do that. T

The thing that confounds me is that Katy defends her mother now that she is dead. Her mother died because her body was failing from the alcohol abuse and she fell over in a snowbank and didn’t wake up. She brought her fate upon herself and yet I am banished for speaking the truth about one of the most horrible mother figures in the world.

At first glance this seems to be another injustice visited upon me but I think it goes deeper than that.

Examining Katy from a neutral perspective it is easy to see that she hasn’t accepted her mother’s death. Her mother never tried to stop drinking. She could barely admit, even at the very end that she was an alcoholic. By extension, Katy since Katy never accepted her mother’s death, she also never really accepted that her mother was an alcoholic.

More and more I see her sliding into her mother’s patterns. The first of these patterns is in demonizing me in the same way that her mother did. The second way is by increasingly the rumors I hear about her becoming a ‘party’ girl. Just like her mother, her career comes before her family and is only interrupted by binge drinking and in Katy, an observer can see this leaning increasingly towards alcoholism.

Katy is not only embracing all the mistakes and evils of her mother, she is also glorifying them and putting her mother on a pedestal. If Mommy drank, Katy always got gifts and money afterward. Judy would do anything to make it up to her and my Dad. This set up a cycle of punishment and reward that resulted in a pattern of endless dramatics. By making her mother into a saint and me into a demon she negates the truth that her mother was abusive, not just when she was drunk but when she was sober as well.

This is a common trait in children of alcoholics and it is part of what perpetuates the cycle of abuse. If Katy admits for one minute that her mother hurt me, she will have to admit that Judy hurt her too. She will have to admit that if it wasn’t for Katy and my Dad enabling her behavior Judy would have died drunk and on the street the same as she did even after they put her through every counseling and rehab program available. Katy would have to admit that if I was right about her mother that she had been left behind the toilet for days covered in filth and screaming. She would have to admit all the times when her mom didn’t show up for important events because she was drinking. She would have to admit that the only reason her mother is dead is because she refused to stop drinking.

I don’t have much in common with Katy. She doesn’t have a sense of humor, she isn’t creative, she isn’t adventurous and most important of all, she isn’t a realist. I don’t want or need a friendship with her.

I am glad that I saved her from drowning that day. I’m glad I knew first aid and got her breathing, I’m glad she got to grow up and make mistakes. I forgive her for her treatment of me because she is bound in a world of delusion and she can’t even see me.

I forgive her for being Judy’s daughter. I forgive her for using that fact to get special treatment and rewards after mommy was drunk. I forgive her for everything. I won’t get a chance to say that to her face, at least I would be surprised if I ever did. She has a hate on for me that rivals her mother’s hate for me. What did I ever do to Katy?
Well, I told her the truth. Sometimes that’s too much, especially for children of alcoholics. I feel a deep pity for Katy and her inability to face her reality because I see her walking her mother’s path and I see no sign of her waking up and realizing that she is becoming the same as her mother.

I hear the things people say about her. That she says cruel things, that she has a ‘mean’ mouth on her and it’s the same thing as her mother… generation to generation. Unless you are very proactive, self-aware and willing to examine any delusion you may have the curse repeats again and again. I forgave Judy before her death and am at peace with my relationship with her. Katy never forgave her mother and without facing the reality of the situation, she never will.

I forgive Katy now. I forgive her for hating me. I forgive her for the horrible things she says about me. I forgive her for not loving me. I forgive her for following her mother’s path. Being the child of an alcoholic is a tragedy and forgiveness is the only cure. Forgiveness and bringing the wounds that were caused by it into the light of day.

white feather

The Anatomy of Abuse and Forgiveness

Anyone who says it is impossible to love your abuser has never been abused by someone in authority. There are other ways to love an abuser but this is about being a little girl who loved her parents very much and was betrayed by all of them: this is about me.

In our house we were spanked. These spankings went by several names: whoopings, thrashing, beatings… they varied by what was used too. It could be a wooden spoon, a hand, my Dad’s belt buckle or my least favorite of all, the willow switch where we were forced to pick our own doom.

I would be sent out to pick a willow switch and cut it myself when I was a child when it was time for a thrashing. I remember it well. I would be sent out with a jack knife and usually there was no time limit on it. It didn’t matter how long I took, I found it was best to go out and pick one of the first ones I found and take it back. If you picked a brittle switch it would bruise a lot more and be damaging but if you picked a green one it would sting more and leave bigger welts on your naked butt and back and legs. If you picked a switch that was too thin and would break you would be sent out to pick a new one and your punishment would be doubled.

This is now considered terrible child abuse but for me, it was just life. I didn’t fear my Dad. There were rules and if you obeyed the rules you weren’t beat. If you disobeyed you were beaten. It was clear cut and easy to understand. Some of the rules would seem draconian and insane to anyone not raised with them but I was eager to please and to do well. I worked hard for the smiles my Dad gave me, for when he picked me up and held me on his shoulders, for when he picked me to go into town with him and I was the only one who got to go with him. The terror of the beatings were eclipsed by my joy at his joy and pride in me.

When he called my name in the morning I was up and dressed and full of smiles. When I hurt myself I would bravely continue and if he noticed after that I was hurt he would tell me, ‘that’s my girl’ and praise my bravery. I always brought home good grades, I worked diligently and hard at my chores and tried to take care of my mother and keep the house clean when she was ‘ill’. Before I was six, with the aid of a chair, I would do the laundry, make dinner and bathe and feed my little brother. I didn’t feel that this was unfair at the time, I was proud of myself.

When I was eight I told my Dad that I wanted to have a serious conversation with him. He came into the rec room with me. I wasn’t very scared to talk to him then, it was only after my stepmother came into the scene that I became actually afraid of him.

“What do you want to talk to me about?” He asked, he was smiling at my earnest and unusually serious tone. Nothing had happened lately, I hadn’t been in trouble, but I had been thinking about things very hard.

“Daddy, I think I’m too old to be spanked anymore.”

His eyebrows climbed and he leaned back in shock, “What?”

“I’ve been thinking about it and I am very reasonable. I think from now on you should have a talk to me about what you want me to change. I think that would work a lot better and it would also be less work for you.”

“You’re telling me not to spank you anymore?” He was still incredulous but I could tell he was thinking about what I said.

“I’m not telling you not to spank me, I’m asking you not to spank me,” I had to pause here. I knew it was important to keep it together at this point. If I started to get upset or cry he would laugh at me and the conversation would be over.

“You’re asking me,” He reiterated.

“Yes. Please, Daddy, I would really like it if you didn’t spank me anymore. I’m a good girl and I would rather talk to you about what I’m doing wrong than get hit for it.”

“What if I say no?” He asked.

“Then that’s your answer. I can only ask,” I didn’t dare say any more. He was thinking about things from every angle. He was never a stupid man and he knew that I was a very good little girl. I rarely ever complained and most of the beatings that I got were for waking him up by accident or for fighting with my older brother. It didn’t matter who started the fight, we were both beaten equally.

I held my breath, he gauged me, “Alright.”

“Really? No more spankings?” I asked.

He smiled and held out his hand to shake my tiny hand, “No more spankings.”

He broke a lot of his promises to me, but that was one he never broke. He let a lot of bad things happen to me, he abandoned me to a stepmother who did horrible things to me and a mother who was a pharmaceutical junky and needed more care taken of her than most toddlers.

My older brother was not immune from such beatings, in fact at that point his ‘thrashings’ got a lot worse. He was an arrogant boy who felt a need to challenge my Dad at every opportunity and he would say horrible things to our Mom. I recall a day not too long after our conversation with my Dad about spankings that I overheard a similar but very contrary one that he had with my brother.

He had my brother up against the wall, his feet dangling off the floor. They were nose to nose and my brother had his chin lifted but his eyes averted to the ground, “If you badmouth your mother, I mean one word out of line you little shit, I will punch your face in so good you’ll spend the next month home from school waiting for the bruises to heal”.

When I grew up and ran away from home I had a lot of time to think about the promises my Dad broke and the ones he kept. Of all the promises he made to me, this one was the most important to me. No matter how angry he was at me, he never spanked me again. Those days were behind us. It proved to me that he respected me and that he did think about me and love me.

My Dad was horribly abused by his Dad. He was beaten, he was thrown in a pit, he was starved. He ran away from home when he was the same age that I was when I ran away from home: 15. He was also abused by his mother and by other family members and casual friends of the family. His whole life he wanted to be better than his parents. He wanted to give me a better life than the one that he had and I watched him actively seek out good influences in his life and learn how to parent from them as best he could.

He had a long ways to go but he listened to me that day and he never went back on it. My life was better than his life was. His parents drank constantly and my parents never drank at all. In fact, I didn’t even know what a drunk person looked like until I met my stepmother.

He has learned in life and the truth of the matter is that other than learning from his mistakes there is nothing that he can do to fix the mistakes he made in raising me. He smashed something and it was only after my stepmother died that he even realized fully what he had done. How evil he had become. How much he had enjoyed humiliating me, working me like a slave and believing my stepmother’s lies about me. I ran away from home and he was sad, but when I came back nearly a decade later he let my stepmother pick up the abuse exactly where she had left off. He avoided responsibility for it and said there was nothing he could do and that I was the one who was the trouble maker.

After Judy died, he said he didn’t know what he had been thinking. That I had been a delight to raise and had never caused trouble in my life.

He looked at the smashed plate that he had thrown to the floor, the plate that was his beloved little girl, his princess and he cried. He wept for his many sins and I forgave him.

I will never be that plate again. I took the bits of myself, gathered up all that I could and I glued myself together. When I couldn’t figure out where the pieces went or found I had lost a piece of myself together, I went to my friends and my writing to find myself and repair the damage.

The ‘plate’ I have become is nothing like what I would have done if he hadn’t smashed me to the floor and if my Judy hadn’t smashed me and if my mother hadn’t smashed me. I have cracks and flaws, I have more dimensions than if I had been left whole. I can see the breaks in other plates and I have compassion for them, sometimes I can help heal some of those cracks or at least buy them a tube of superglue.

My Dad is the same. He too was thrown to the ground. He was smashed and unlike me, he didn’t have the capacity to fully patch himself together but I can see that he tried. I can see where he put a piece back and the glue that holds him together. I can see the chips where he never got that part of him back. I can see where his friends helped him to find pieces that are missing.

That is the anatomy of abuse and of forgiveness. Abuse is smashing and nothing heals that but part of putting ourselves back together is to admit we have been broken and then to find out how to heal ourselves by seeing how our abusers have been patched together too.

We don’t need to let them smash us again to discover this. You don’t even have to go close to them, but if you can find that compassion to see where they came from, the ways that they tried to do good and maybe even forgive them, you’ll find more pieces of yourself.