Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just When You Thought You Were Safe

It has taken me nearly three days and a couple of nights of scattered sleep to be able to write this.

For those who don't know me or who haven't read anything else on my blog, let me give you a little back story. My father was a raging alcoholic. Emphasis on the raging. Fuck it. Emphasis on the alcoholic too. Let's not mince words at this point in the game. I spent a lot of my childhood feeling scared, cowering, afraid to speak up or out, and ultimately, feeling that I was responsible for everything wrong in the world. If I would be good, if I would be helpful, if I would play piano better, if I would... even though the drunken monster liked to tell us that we were no good.

That was then. I grew up. I spent a lot of time sorting out my feelings and dealing with them, after first deciding that it was okay to have any and all of those feelings. I worked hard at not allowing myself to be a victim. I even got to the point where I could separate the monster from the loving father. I forgave. I forgave both him and myself. I learned to love myself. I learned to be loved by others. I found peace.

*screeching discordant halt*

Fast forward to this past Sunday night at around 11:30. Steve and I were snuggled up in bed, feeding our House of Cards addiction. We heard the front screen door rattle and shut. At first we shrugged it off. It had been a windy day. Then we heard it again, followed by someone fumbling with the dead bolt. Steve launched from the bed and, in what can only be described as ninja panther style, was down the stairs.

I heard him hesitate, listening for a moment. Then, using his foot as a brace to keep the door from opening all the way, he flipped the deadbolt and yanked the door open. The surprised person on the other side thumped against the door, and managed to get an arm inside along with a slurred, "Thfuck?" Steve, baritone voice set on no-nonsense, barked, "What the fuck do you want?! Leave now, I'm calling 911!" The drunk voice answer, "Z'my fuggin' aparmin..." At this point, Steve realized it was our neighbor, Lad. He yelled, "You live two doors down. Get the fuck out of here!" Lad persisted, "Nuhnuhnuh... z'my aparmin... I live ear..." Steve flipped on the light, opened the door and said, "Does this look like your apartment?! It's my apartment. I live here. Now get out and go home." At this point, Lad spied the sofa and decided it was going to be a worthy receptacle for his inebriated ass, "I'm juz gn laydown..." At this point, Steve turned him around and shoved him out the door, slammed the door shut, and shot the lock back into place. It should be noted that Steve has lived here going on 10 years, and Lad has lived in his place for over 5 years. Lad lives in the end unit, we're the third unit in. What I'm trying to say here is that it wasn't a mistake on his part, it was pure, way down deep in the bottle(s) drunkenness.

Steve came back to bed. There was no further incident. We snuggled up and finished the show we were watching.

Except.

I've been feeling off the past couple of days. The frightened little girl raised all her concerns again. All it took was a drunk voice and an angry voice, even though neither were directed at me. I wasn't even in the room (but then, I often wasn't even way back when). I've felt unsure of myself. I've been questioning my judgment and ideas. That's not like me, not in this decade. So, I've spent several hours dissecting stuff I thought was long gone, re-suturing and bandaging and murmuring, "It'll be okay. It'll be okay. Shhh... it'll be okay."

What changed it for me was recalling two words that Steve spoke when he came back upstairs. He said, "Poor Lad." As angry as he was, he felt sorry for someone who was that far gone, someone who clearly has no control over his life, no tools to help himself, no joy, no love. Poor Lad. Indeed.

That was when I realized, this isn't mine to claim. I am loved. I am loved and I have someone who will be my advocate. I am loved and the person who loves me will do everything in his power to protect me. I love, and it isn't just a warm-hearted thing. I love - myself, that scared little girl, Steve, poor drunken Lad, my father, my mother, my friends, my enemies - I love all the way out on the limb down to the tiniest, tender branches.

And that is one safe place to be.

8 comments:

  1. I love, I love, I love - a mantra made from Manna. Thank-you for sharing from the heart and eyes of the child and the woman she has become. I love...

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  2. Barb, that was soul-baring. Beautiful. And you are, indeed, loved.

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  3. Wow - I felt like I was living it with you. Very well written - so honest and vulnerable and beautiful and loving. Thank you! <3

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  4. Oh boy. A young man was shot to his death last week here in Tricities for doing the EXACTLY the same thing. He was at a party, stepped out to smoke a cigarette and wandered around the corner and tried to enter the wrong house. He was 6'5" tall and when the homeowner answered the door at 2:30am with his gun in hand, the drunk guy entered and when told to leave, he wouldn't and now he is dead. Alcoholism shows up in many different ways on a death certificate, for sure.

    I come from both sides of this coin and can tell you that your words went right to my core and I felt the pang of "it". I've been recovered for 12 years now and if I could take back the hurt I caused my loved ones, I'd do it in a NY minute. We don't want to hurt anyone, we never set out to do that. But everyone gets hurt in this disease.

    Love IS the answer. You got that right!

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  5. Reading your blog makes me feel like I'm coming home. Love...

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  6. Barb - You are an amazing person. You are an amazing writer. Your capacity for love and honesty is overwhelming. I hope I will one day be able to free my demons as you have. You ROCK! girlfriend!

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  7. That hit home, Barb, did it ever. I'm 51, am proud of the strong, happy, independent "take no shit" kind of woman I have struggled to become. However, just a couple of weeks ago, my partner and I had a dispute. As he walked towards me, instinct, from oh-so-many-years ago, kicked in, and I RAN around the bed in fear, no thought in my head but to RUN. Now, I know he would never hit me, never in a million years. The look of shock on his face... What a horrible reminder that sometimes we will always have that child inside of us....

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  8. That hit home, Barb, did it ever. I'm 51, am proud of the strong, happy, independent "take no shit" kind of woman I have struggled to become. However, just a couple of weeks ago, my partner and I had a dispute. As he walked towards me, instinct, from oh-so-many-years ago, kicked in, and I RAN around the bed in fear, no thought in my head but to RUN. Now, I know he would never hit me, never in a million years. The look of shock on his face... What a horrible reminder that sometimes we will always have that child inside of us.... But love IS the answer to overcoming so many of those fears, and realizing we're not that same powerless child.

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