Before I ever dreamed of not pleasing my father (and this was before his hair turned gray, although he tells it otherwise) I filled hours imagining the ways I was better, superior to my sisters, mother, all others who could not dream the way I dreamed of being Daddy’s favorite –the golden child The Unmarred, The Worthy. I am none of those kinds of child I am no longer child, golden, unmarred or otherwise. I have, with great reluctance, accepted my position of adult, mother, Woman. My dreams now revolve
It took me ten years to work up the courage to write about my childhood. In that time, I explored every field except nonfiction, earning an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) with a thesis my husband describes as “stories in which girls don’t act quite the way they should”. Fiction was a safety net-a space where I could address my sexual, physical and emotional fears without honestly admitting to them. During workshops of my short stories, I often felt personally attacked as my writing was critiqued. While my peers were
The Letter No One Wrote My Mother was well shared. It had and continues to have international readership. Several of the people it has reached (with your help, thank you!) have contacted me to say that Fact Seven resonates with them. Fact Seven: I am an almost-abuser. I choose every day not to abuse my child. Becoming a parent is terrifying for any number of reasons. For many of us, those fears center around 1) losing ourselves or 2) our child getting hurt. Fact Seven is a combination of those fears.
It’s a shame that writing about past abuse has the power to hurt people in the present. I did not tell anyone in my family my plans to write about my home experience. The Spire is open to the public, my family reads it, some of their friends, colleagues, etc. Two days after posting The Letter No One Wrote My Mother, I have been told that feelings are hurt, and that relations are now strained. Out of courtesy to others, I shouldn’t write these things. I was also told that
Dear Mother, There is so much I need to say to you, because you are a sister to me. In a new way, now. We share a fear of seeing anger in a man’s eyes. We share a fear of those we love being hurt, and hurting those we love. We share a fear of hurting. This love is beyond friendship. We are betrayed. I want to hold you. I want to make myself safe for you. Always, you can cling to me. For hours, I have walked my floors
I woke up wanting to tip my hat to tornado survivors today. I grew up in Tornado Alley. I remember standing on my porch as the wind whipped and changed and the sky turned green. When we lived in a house in the Ozarks, we would look left at the bull pasture, to see what the heifers had done. If they were gone, it was time to go inside. Once, we saw a small twister touch down in the field, bounce back into the sky, and puff into dust.
As a teen, I once was grounded when my mother found a story I had written about sexual exploration. That incident catalyzed a series of events that resulted in me living a double life for years: I kept fake diaries; I lied to my friend; I shamed myself daily because I had desires that I couldn’t seem to control. My body was developing. I had been open to the rawness of being. But I closed myself down piece by piece in an effort to stay safe in an emotionally hostile
We drove out to the dunes in a caravan of rusted trucks and shitty 80s two-door sedans. I was with Rusty and Dusty, not twins, but inseparable since childhood. They sandwiched me between their heavy bodies and lit up a joint, the windows rolled shut despite the high heat of summer and a faulty air conditioner. It took about 40 minutes to reach the dunes, a miniature, unexplained swath of fluid desert where we local kids drank and made out around bonfires. That day, it was a cookout, followed by
My kids are parked in front of Frozen. Again. To be honest, I love this movie. I cry beginning to end. It taps directly into my deepest hurts as the child of an abusive household. Conceal, don’t feel? That could have been the mantra of my youth. Watching this movie is healing for me. It stirs my emotional trauma in a way I can access. It’s safe to wander my mental jungle while watching a cartoon. When Elsa sings that she doesn’t care what anyone is going to say, I
I had reason to search for paper. I went looking for clean, lined sheets. In my room, there stands a bookcase filled from the top down with materials related to my life as a writer. The top shelf holds my collection of self-help books, words of wisdom for growing my creative mind and maturing my writerly process. The middle holds the journals I filled with poetry beginning at age six. Then there are foreign language books–German, Arabic and Spanish, because they stimulate my desire to learn more. To continue growing