Lost and Found: Meet Virginia-Part 1

You know what I’ve found? Writing from the cheap seats of unfiltered bitterness and rage is easy. Give me Racism, or Narcissistic Abuse or Spiritual Abuse, or Sexual Abuse and the volcano will flow. Novelist James Baldwin said that clinging to our anger and hatred is easy because once it’s gone, we’re left to deal with the pain. I think that must be true, because as I write, and the laws of energy (Can’t be created. Can’t be destroyed) turn the anger into something else—hello pain. Which makes it all that much harder to sit down and write again. It’s an unexpected cycle that I didn’t see coming: the closer I get to those coveted front row seats of letting What Is and What Was, live as a mostly peaceful whole, the words and emotions get stuck. Because that’s what pain does. Gets stuck in our  minds and bodies like gum in the sole of a waffle bottom shoe, picking up so much lint and dirt along the way that we can barely tell what it is. At times like this, I sort of miss that ratty old low end seat with it’s peeling upholstery and half chewed taffy stuck all up underneath, because the story I’m about to tell is still riddled with scabby sores and bruises. It’s also full of indescribably joybut to feel it, to own it, to make it mine and mine alone—I’ve learned that pain has to take the first swing if I want peace to be the last batter up.

When I don’t know where to start, I open up a book that I bought on a whim at a New Age crystals and voodoo shop in NW Portland. I think it’s funny that we call anything “New Age” because the tricks we use to make sense of the fact that we’re spiritual beings, having a human experience that can be downright terrifying, aren’t new at all. We just keep reviving them like an old 80’s sitcom. Or giving them a new and improved poster child with whiter teeth, a better car, a bigger house, and a Ted Talk.

The book I found in the Not-So-New-Age store is called “A Year of Writing Dangerously365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement”. I knew I needed it from the moment I saw it because every time I sit down to write this blog, that’s exactly what I feel: DANGER. As if my stories are captive children who have been chained in a dark basement their entire lives, relentlessly begging for light. If I let them all out at once how can I keep them safe? What if they accept candy from a stranger or go wandering into the street. An entire book of encouragement from other fearful and doubtful writers brings me a comfort I can’t describe.

The pages that spoke to me this time were #187 and #188. They have big letters across the top titled  “Owning your story” and “An Army of Doubts”.

“A writer’s duty is to register what it is like for him or her to be in the world” says Zadie Smith.

“I wish I had written more” laments Cynthia Ozick. “I wish I had been more prolific. I wish I had had less fear of writing, more self-confidence, less terror of it.

I’m on it Zadie.

Me too Cyndi.

So I guess this is it, Virginia. After 49 years, our story is about to unfold. Are you afraid? I’m afraid. But I’ve got you and you’ve got me, so lets be afraid together, and see where this thing goes.

Virginia is my birth mom. My only mom now. I used to have two moms. Then I had no moms. Now I have Virginia. She’s with me all of the time, which is weird since she’s dead. I call her Mama in my head because that’s what my daughter calls me.  I like to pretend that’s what I would have called Virgina if the Mother/Daughter cards we were dealt weren’t from the trick deck of life, stained with tobacco and meth and shame.

I wanted to write this back in May, and publish it on Virgina’s Birthday, but here we are Mid-August and it’s still  eeking out slowly, in 20 minutes here or there. Timing has never been our thing. It took us 41 years to meet after all. She was only 15 when she got pregnant, and since they hid me away the minute I popped into the world, May of 2010 was the very first time she ever held me in her arms, or looked into the eyes of her first born.

The way I just said that sounds dreamy doesn’t it? Like one of those TLC shows where good looking entertainers with botoxed faces and teary eyes nod in approval as long lost family members run across flowery fields and fall sobbing into each other arms. That’s not how it happened for me. I met my mom on an overcast day on the Oregon coast in a run down park filled with dandelions and dog poop and a gummy eyed Tabby with a crooked tail yowling at my feet. She was mostly drunk with rotten teeth, sores on her face and the remnants of a botched surgery to remove a melanoma on her nose. The hole that was left gave me a whistling black view, clear into her right nostril.

Lying Rat Bastard Shows.

I used to meet with a group of adoptees, and not a one of us had the capped tooth, plastic smile, TV version of a birth mom meeting. Ok one guy did, but we managed to like him anyway. We weren’t the stereotypical sad-sack, poor-us lot who sat around in a circle singing “Somewhere Out There” in our tiny Fievel Mouse voices with our matching blue caps pulled low over our big teary eyes. We were a flippant bunch who inhaled frosted cookies and donut holes as we did backstrokes through black humor, and swam olympic laps in irreverent laughter while we joked about buying Bastard Bonds, or being that one unmatched sock left in the bottom of the Lost and Found pile. Looking back now, I think it was our way of declaring that we had survived, and of convincing ourselves that our pasts didn’t matter. And that it didn’t hurt to find out that your birth mom sold you and your 13 siblings for $300 a pop. Or that your heart didn’t break when you tracked her to another state, but were told she didn’t want to meet you, so you never got any closer than watching her thump a watermelon while you hid behind a tower of Pringles at her local grocery store. It worked in the moment, but it didn’t sustain me for long, because I still didn’t know the difference between the thoughts and feelings that kept me attached to trauma, and the ones that led to healing and peace. I don’t think any of us knew the difference, which is why the second our truths came up, we soothed the burn with camaraderie and laughter, and hoped it would be enough

In the beginning, I  felt like I landed somewhere in the middle of the meeting-your-birth-mom experience. Drugs, alcohol and mental illness had stolen any chance for a relationship, but at least she hadn’t sold me. And she didn’t tell me to get lost when I showed up out of nowhere on that Memorial Day weekend with four of my closest friends, over 8 years ago now. But as time has passed, I don’t think I’m in the middle anymore. I think I’m one of the lucky ones. Not because the facts changed and my story became perfect. But because it didn’tand I figured out how to stop needing it to be perfect to find the joy and purpose that had been waiting for me all along. And because almost every day now, I sit in awe of the miracles and the magic that led me to the exact time and place, with the exact people I was supposed to be with, to open the door to the family I’ve always belonged to, and begin the life I was truly meant for.

Even from my earliest memories, I knew I was adopted, but I don’t remember knowing I could have an independent thought or emotion about it. Looking back (from my own, limited perspective) it’s as if the Baby Brokers of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s gave everyone in The Triad a script that none of us knew to question. Birth Moms were to expected to schlep away quietly in their bad-girl shame, have their babies, and then curtsy dutifully back into their old lives as if they hadn’t just sacrificed their bodies to grow a tiny human. Adoptive Parents were encouraged to take their new lump of pristine flesh and mold it and make it into thine own family imagein spite of that pesky little intruder called DNA. Nothing a good beating couldn’t get rid of anyway. Adoptees were to supposed to sit like pretty little dolls in their matching dresses, with colorful yarnies that held fat pigtails in a perfectly sympetrical loop, and repeat “I’m a very lucky girl!” with a grateful  smile when the string on their back was pulled.

In many ways, I was “a very lucky girl”. And in many ways, I am also grateful. I had toys and dresses and dogs and trips to Disneyland and never wanted physically for a thing. But I also lived with the looming suspicion that I was terminally out of place. Like being piece 10,001 in a 10,000 piece puzzle: Not meant for that box. Not the right size or shape. But since the alternative was the trash can, I never stopped trying to shove myself in anyway. Until one day I did stop trying. Which is how I ended up where I am today. Even now, I find that deep sense of loneliness is easier to identify in books and movies than it’s ever been to put into words. Like when George Clooney floats off alone into the vastness of space in Gravity. Or in that Dr Sues Book “Are You My Mother” where the lost bird can’t find his mom. I still hate that book to this day. Before opening it when I was little, I’d shelter somewhere safe—usually under a chair in the corner, on a shag carpet that was olive green, I think. Even though I knew that Baby Bird would find his mom, watching him get rejected, page after page (“I am not your mother, I am a dog.” Of course the cat didn’t bother to answer) still made my insides shake like they were going to fall out. The part I dreaded the most came at the very end of the book when the rusty old backhoe picked him up dropped him safely back into his nest. In that moment I always knew there was no loud Snort coming to solve the mystery and show me where my mother was.

“I have a mother” said the baby bird. “I know I do. I will find her. I will. I WILL!”

Yes Baby Bird. We will.

It’s not like I was ever told I couldn’t find my birth mom, but since I knew my role (indebted adoptee and family dumpster. Hate something about yourself? Give it to me!), and was given a way to think about being adopted, and to talk about being adopted that kept me from knowing how I felt about being adopted, setting out to find my birth mom, wasn’t something I seriously considered. Most adoptees I knew at the time were raised with a similar ideological framework: “Your birth mom couldn’t take care of you, so she loved you enough to give you away” or “Other parents are stuck with their children, but we picked you so we’re luckier than them”. It clearly wasn’t an era known for it’s psychological awareness, but I believe the heart behind those messages was good: You were loved not rejected. You were chosen, not an accident. Then there was me. My messages, while similar on the surface, were more like Lucky you! We picked you! But never forget that you’re damaged goods and our perfection is all that can fix you. In return for this salvation, you will supply our ego until the day you die and do everything we dictate without question or we’ll disown your thankless, broken, disrespectful, mentally ill ass. If it weren’t for us, you’d be ‘nothing but a druggie in a ditch’, anyway. So remember that, darling. Ok?. I had the added bonus of being told that adopting 5 kids was the initial plan, but having me made them not want any moreand that adoptees who looked for their  birth parents were “Intrusive” and “selfish”.

Fast forward to May of 2010: Selfish, damaged, unfixable adoptee who belongs in a ditch and makes adoptive parents hate children, intrudes on drug addicted birth mom. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, a lot. But after an almost nine year journey that began as a secretpaved with guilt and shame, and  pockmarked with fear and doubt—I can finally see it for what it was: Absolutely. Positively. Exactly where I was supposed to end up.

We KNEW it Baby Bird. We KNEW it.

In January of 2010, the life and the family I used to have, had essentially disappeared. I won’t explain it all now, but if you read my older posts (Yes. Parts of them are angry), you’ll probably get the gist. But you know what? I refuse to turn my back on a single line that I wrote. That anger motivated me and protected me while I learned to have healthy personal boundaries for the first time ever in my life. I may not be the same open sore who wrote those stories when I began this blog, but they’re still who I am. And I love them. Because who I was then, who I am now, and where I’m going in the future have all agreedwe never want to be apart again. One day I hope my kids will find this blog, and read it cringing and crying and laughing and understanding with a great big bottle of wine. Because like it or not, my story is their story too.

In the beginning, people assumed that I found my birth family as a reaction to the one I’d lost. That simply isn’t true. I’d had the request for information from Waverly Baby Home for almost 10 years before The Great Escape from Cult Religion and Narcissism. Up until that point, all I felt was guilt when I wondered about my mom. But after my son Anders was born, and I was socked in the head with crippling morning sickness, a 60 lb weight gain, and an all encompassing, borderline mental, stab-you-in-the-eye-if-you-even-LOOK-at-my-baby, kind of love (followed by a month of postpartum depression. Ya think?), I had an overwhelming desire to thank the person who had done the same for me. At the time, I was seeing it all through the lens of a new mom who had planned her pregnancy at 29 instead of doing an Ooopsie at 15 years old. I would have died for my son. I couldn’t imagine giving him away to someone else, let alone never know what happened to him. If there was someone out there, still carrying that burden, then I wanted to release them from it if I could.

At a distance mind you. Like in a letter. Where we may or may not ever exchange names.

When my daughter Annika was born a few years later, I was overwhelmed with thoughts of my birth mom again. What must it have been like for her, enduring the panic and pain that I found so hard as an adult, when she was only a child? Then one day, I read an article about a man who was adopted from the same agency that I had been: Waverly Baby Home. We were referred to as Waverly Babies back then. He and his Birth Parents had put their names on the agency adoption registry and were gifted a fairy tale reunion. Adoption registries were still fairly new because up until the early 1990’s, adoption records in Oregon were sealed. The battle between the rights of Adoptees to know their origins and the rights of Birth Parents to keep their privacy resulted in grief and gnashing of teeth. Oddly enough, I voted against Adoptee rights, and in favor of the Birth Parent’s privacy. Not that I had a choice. I wasn’t just told how to think and feelI was also told how to vote. The information in the Waverly article told me how to request the paperwork to put myself on their registry. But the feelings of guilt won again, along with the fear that my Birth Family wouldn’t want me, so it sat in a file labeled Selfish Intruder that I didn’t touch for several years. Then in 2007 when I was cleaning a drawer, I ran across the article again. On the verge of throwing it away, I reconsidered at the very last moment and sent a request to the agency for registry paperwork instead.

It came within a weekand then sat for another 3 years.

All of this is to say, that the journey to find my family had been in motion for many years. Slow motion is still motion. I was just waiting for the right catalyst to move me forward again. In my last post, I introduced The Whisper. You can read more about who that is to me here. But that post is long (who am I kidding. They’re all long.) so for now I’ll just say it’s the way I hear God. From here on out, the voice of The Whisper becomes a central part of this story. You’re welcomed to believe it, or not believe it, but it won’t change the truth either way.

You’re out of time” kept saying the powerfully soft voice in my dreams. “If you ever want to find them, you have to do it now.”

Then one morning, bleary eyed from another night of tossing and turning through urgently spoken whispers, I knew what I needed to do. Which is how I found myself standing in the medical marijuana line down at the Multnomah County Court House. I was so anxious and disoriented, it took me 20 minutes to realize that the window to request a pre-adoption birth certificate was on the other side of the room. When my certificate came in the mail a few weeks later, it was like the Secrets of the Universe had been revealed. I was white. And my mom had signed her name Virginia Lee Smith in the most elegant handwriting I had ever seen. Then right below that, she had written “Mother”. I stared at that word for the longest time. Even if it was only for the few seconds it had taken her to write a name and a title, I had been someone to her.

From there I sent the agency my birth certificate, along with a request to be added to the adoption registry. I fully expected that my mom had been writing me letters, dropping them like breadcrumbs through the woods for the last 40 years so we could find each other one day. I knew that’s what I would have done. But isn’t our own lens the one we look through first when we don’t know any better yet?

March became a blur as I waited for a response. I spent countless hours searching the internet and didn’t find a trace of her. Sometimes I thought that was good. At least she wasn’t an axe murderer, which was one thing I had going my way. On the birth certificate she listed a home town on the Oregon coast called Florence. My friend Crystal showed up towards the end of the month, to drive the 3 hours there to help me begin my search. We were careful in the beginning, not wanting to raise suspicion, as if members of my bio-family were going to pop out from behind a bush and run me out of town with their pitchforks and rakes (Git’ on out you mangy rat! Run back to that ditch you just crawled out of!) We went to the Pioneer Museum first. The people who worked there were exactly her age, and had lived there most of their lives. Not a single one of them had heard of Virginia Smith, and oddly enough, the year books we needed to find her high school picture were the only ones missing that day. From there we went to the library, city hall, and pretty much any business that was open and would let us in. At first I tried not to seem pushy, but after hours of  having no success, I was bleeting like a baby goat to anyone who would listen “My mom is Virginia Lee Smith. Do you know her? Do you know her?!?!?”.

No one did. It ended up being a 6 hour drive to find nothing but two so-so lattes and a junky chair from an antique store that we crammed in the back of my van.

I had given in to that eerie pull to the town on the coast. I had obeyed the relentless whisper in my dreams. But the way people were acting felt like The Smiths had never existed, and the door that felt so open, had been slammed in my face as if  a mean little kid with bucked teeth and a smirk said “Hey, want some candy?”, and handed me an empty wrapper instead.

I spent the rest of the month searching the internet, looking for names on Facebook, and sending messages to strangers who either ignored me completely or were flat out insulted at times.

“NO. I won’t ask my dad if he fathered any illegitimate children. Don’t bother responding. I’m blocking you right now.”

But there was one woman named Rose, who was also an adoptee, and had found her birth family as well. She wasn’t a relation, but she did become a key encounter that kept me from abandoning my search.

I’d like to encourage you not to give up” she wrote. “Finding out the truth gave me a stronger sense of personal identity. I really hope you find her. It’s been over 3 years for me and so far I have no regrets. I’m grateful for even the painful knowledge: it’s a true part of me somehow.”

I still tear up at those words. And I’m still amazed that it was the kindness of a stranger who gave me the strength to continue when I was so overwhelmed with disappointment and doubt. Then again, she was Facebook friends with her dog ( Bruno Isadog) so I knew she had to be a good person. She may not have given me the information I was looking for, but her empathetic words of encouragement ended up being equally as valuable in my search.

As I continued punching different combinations of people, places and dates into the Internet Oracle, I was also getting help from someone I’ll call AD. I didn’t know if she’d want me to use her name, but without her, this story would have ended right here. She had an Ancestry account and was nice enough to use it to help me with my search. We had both come up with several leads, but in my heart I knew they weren’t right. Then came late April when a response from the adoption registry finally came in the mail.  I sat in our laundry room for over an hour, with that unopened envelope in my lap. I’ve had some of my best breakdowns on that floor. It connects to the family room and if I braced my feet just right, I could still hear the kids in case either of them were dying, but they still couldn’t open the door. The envelope I wanted was thick. Like the one I would be given on the lying-rat-bastard TV show, stuffed with letters, and pictures of my birthday that had been celebrated in my absence, with hats and a cake and one of those You-Are-Special plates, because they had remembered me all of these years.

The envelope I held was thin.

I rocked back and forth and screamed “It’s thin. IT’S THIN. IT’S THIN!” from the depths of my innermost core, without ever saying a word. It wasn’t the envelope of a little girl who was loved and remembered. It was the envelope of a ghost.

When I eventually opened it up, I already knew what was going to be in there. The same worthless page of non-identifying information that I’d read a million times before. My mom was 5’3″ with blue eyes. My Dad was artistic and his father was a drunk. My Maternal Grandmother was a tiny 4’11”. My Maternal Grandfather was a giant over 6 feet tall, and he operated the lathe at a mill. But here’s what’s interesting, that last bit of worthless, non-identifying information that I’d read a million timesabout my grandfather and the millwould make all of the difference soon.

My kids were thankfully gone, because after opening that envelope, I became a foot-dragging, snot-wiping, middle-finger-flipping, shell of a person for 3 days straight. The only time that I wasn’t crying was when I was sleeping, except when I was crying in my sleep. There was nothing. NOTHING. That would keep me from my child. How could my mom not feel the same way? Yes, I knew there were situations that could prevent someone from looking. Like being dead. But I knew she was alive because I could feel she was alive. Not well, because her energy felt sick and weak, but I knew she was still in this world. Then one night while Eric and I were watching Animal Planet, it all hit me at once. On the show, a mama mountain goat had lost her baby. With a hand over my eyes and sweaty palms, I watched her risk her life as she separated from the herd to go back and find her baby. As the realization sank in, I turned to Eric with a beer in one hand and a tissue in the other and said “Holy shit. That’s it! My mom may not have the maternal instincts of a freaking mountain goat……..”

We both started laughing. Me hysterically at first.

Then crying.

Again.

For the 10th time that day.

In the following weeks, I painted the bathroom, rearranged the living room, made 62 batches of brownies (and ate them all) bought another expensive purse that I couldn’t afford, and tried to start my search again. My fire was virtually gone. I didn’t understand why the voices in my dreams and The Whisper in my ear kept telling me that this was my destiny, when it seemed like no one wanted to be found.

I prayed for answers. On my knees. In my car. Flat on the laundry room floor with my feet braced against the door. Not to the God of my youth, with the disapproving glare and the belt raised in anger who hated me for being bad and who seemed to wish I was never born. I prayed to the God that I heard other people talk about and hoped he or she would like me better.

Later that week after working a shift with my friend Mary’s husband (I was a medic at the time) I told her I was ready to to make peace with the fact that finding my Birth Mom wasn’t meant to be, and give this pointless search up for good.

“No” she said, “That’s not happening”, and spent the next week cold calling people with the last name Smith. Even I hadn’t been brave enough to do that. Then one day she sent me an address she had found that matched the one that was on my Birth Certificate. It was a few miles up Hwy 101 in another coastal town called Waldport. Yes. I was tired. Yes. I wanted to give up. But I was also seeing a pattern. Every time I told myself it was the end, I was sent one more person to say “No. No it’s not. Now stop your whining and get at it again.”

I called AD the very next day and asked her to go to Florence with me. I was willing to give it one more try. By this time it was mid May, and I knew the schools and offices would be closing for summer soon. When Crystal and I were there in April, Florence High said they didn’t keep year books. I didn’t believe them anymore. AD and I booked a room at the Three Rivers Casino, and put the high school on our hit-list first. I was ready to grovel, cry, stomp, beg, do whatever I had to do to get them to help me.

When we walked into the High School, I could still feel the block that had been hovering for several months. “I hate you.” I told it under my breath. The staff were very nice, but told us we couldn’t be in the library during school hours. They said the only way we could look at the year books was if we came back at 3 when school was over, but that the library closed at 3:10. Ten minutes. That was all they were giving us, and it wouldn’t be nearly enough time. Just about then, a student who had overheard the conversation said “Why don’t I go in and find what you need, and bring them back here?” The staff seemed ok with that, which was great, but none of it even mattered. Just as we had found at the the Pioneer Museum when we were there in April: the only years that were missing, were the ones that Virginia would have been in. Another loud clunk, from another closed door thudded dully my mind. “I hate you” I told it again.

A woman in the office, suggested we go to District Office and talk to a friend of hers who had lived in Florence for most of her life. Even though I wasn’t looking forward to another dead end, we headed over anyway and talked to her friend for quite awhile. She couldn’t help us either, but not for lack of trying. Then right as we were leaving, I heard a Whisper in my ear say “Show her the piece of paper from the hatefully thin envelope, with the worthless, non-identifying information that you’ve had since you were a child”. I handed it to her slowly. After thinking for a moment, this is what she said: “Your grandfather worked at the mill? The biggest mills were Mapleton. They’re all shut down now, but there’s a school down there that I’d look at it for sure. They’ll still be open if you hurry.”

It was the moment that changed my world.

As far as we knew, Mapleton was no more than the little store by the river that sold flannel shirts, Copenhagen and fried chicken in a basket that we had passed on our way to Florence. We would have never considered stopping there. Now we had a choice to make. Mapleton or Waldport? We didn’t have time for both. We had an address to search in Waldport, that I already knew wasn’t a match, but it still seemed more promising than Mapleton.

I hung my head like flea bitten dog. “Even if we make it to the school, they probably won’t let us in. I just don’t know anymore….”

“Well if you won’t decide then I will.” said AD “Put on your big girl panties and get in the car because we’re headed to Mapleton now.”

It took us less than 10 minutes to get to Mapleton, and as we followed the signs to the school, my heart started to flutter. “This is it….This Is It….THIS IS IT!” I kept hearing.

As I walked up the steps of Mapleton High it felt like the iron doors of a castle, were being blown open by a storm. Pictures of the graduating classes lined the walls. “I want to see if I can find her before they throw us out!” said AD as she took off down the hall. But for the first time since I had started my search, I wasn’t worried a bit. It suddenly felt as if the sole purpose of people I was about to meet was help me the rest of the way. Like the cruise directors of the SOS Finding-Your-Birth-Mom. “Watch your step! The dining room is to the left! Shuffleboard and The Secrets to Your Existence will be starting on the poop deck at 4pm!” I went to the front office and stared the man behind the glass in the eyes. “I’m looking for my birth mom. Do you have any year books you’d let me see?”

“Sure” he said, “but if I was you, I’d talk to Connie first. She’s lived here all her life”. I walked across the hall to the room he had pointed to and stood in the doorway until she looked up. Then for the last time ever, I said the words that I’d been saying for months. “I’m looking for my birth mom. Her name is Virginia Lee Smith. Is there any chance you know her?”

She looked startled at first, then her eyes became teary and soft “I knew your mother. And your Uncle Jack too. You look just like them in the eyes”. From that moment on it felt like I was floating through a warm fuzzy dream, from center of a superpuffed marshmallow.

We hugged and sobbed and hugged and sobbed and talked for quite awhile. She said that she was better friends with my Uncle Jack, because Virginia was only there a short time. “She disappeared one day and never came backnow I’m staring at the reason why.” As we talked a bit longer, I could tell that as much as she wanted to continue, Connie was also walking a very thin line between privacy policies and trying to help. While she couldn’t go get the year books we needed for us, she could tell us where they were, and suggest some years that may be of  “particular interest”. We found my Uncle Jack almost immediately. He was so handsome with a sparkle in his eye.  I couldn’t believe he was mine. It took me a little longer to find Virginia, but when I did, it was only her name. There were 20 or so girls lined up in on some risers and I tried to guess which one she was without counting positions and names. The first girl I picked had a striped sweater (I like stripes too) and features that I thought might match mine. Then my eyes landed on another girl’s face—second row up, second in from the left. We didn’t look as much the same, but she had a stance and an expression that felt strangely familiar. I brushed my finger across the page, gave her an unsure smile and said hello to my mom for the first time.

There were so many more questions that I wanted to asklike the names of my two aunts, and of my grandparents, and if she knew where any of them livedbut I could tell that we had worn out our welcome; it was time to photocopy what we could and leave.

On the way back to the hotel, we decided to stop where the mill used to be. There wasn’t much left besides a big dirt lot and shack that said Davidson’s on the side. The man inside was talkative and friendly, but said that Jack and Virginia Smith weren’t names that rung a bell. Then just as we were leaving, I paused for a moment and heard The Whisper say softly “Show him the pictures you just copied at the school”. He recognized Uncle Jack right away. “Hey, that’s Jackie! I know him. His parents live just up the road. Their names are Cora and Harlan. Let me get you their address”.

My Grandparents.

Less than 5 minutes away.

AD and I stared at each other in disbelief. After months of searching with nothing to show for it, we now had names, pictures and an address.

We said our thanks and headed straight for my Grandparent’s house, just to spy a little without getting shot would be nice. After winding up a hill, I saw a sign at the bottom of a steep, tree lined driveway that had their name written on the front of it. I was so nervous that I got myself stuck, and instead of easing out slowly like I’d always been taught, I slammed on the gas and dug us in worse. Gravel was flying and we were peeing ourselves laughing as I spun a crater in the bottom of their driveway. At that point I figured that yelling “Don’t shoot! I’m your granddaughter” probably wouldn’t have helped us that much.

By the time we made it back to the hotel my brain was crackling like a spider on a high-voltage web. There was no way I was sleeping, so I spent the rest of the night stalking all of the new names we had foundand it wasn’t long before I realized that there was something off with my Uncle Jack. I couldn’t find him in any of my searches, and I couldn’t “feel” him like I did Virginia. Not that I could sense her that strongly, but with Jack there was nothing at all. Contacting him first had been my initial plan in case my Grandparents didn’t want to meet me.

On the way out of town the next morning, we made a pit stop back by the mill. I just knew that guy had a little more in him. But when we walked through the door, Mr Information seemed a lot more reserved than he had been the day before. He said that he had talked to his wife (which explained a lot) who said that yes, she remembered Virginia, and reminded him that Jack had died back in the 90’s. He didn’t elaborate, and I didn’t push, so we stared at each other awkwardly for a minute. Then right as we were leaving he mumbled one last bit of information, with two names and a marriage, that ended up being the final piece of gold we were mining. On the way home, we planned to stop by the Marion County Courthouse to scour their birth, death, marriage and property records. It was there, after matching the last two names that had been mentioned, to a marriage on public record, that I found my beautiful Aunt Sue.

“It’s her” said The Whisper. “She’s the one I’ve been leading you to all along”.

From what I could find, I knew she’d had several last names. I also didn’t know if she went by Sue, Susan, Susie or something else entirely. I sat down on Facebook the minute I got home and promised myself that even if it took all week, I wouldn’t move until I found her. As luck (not that I believe in it) would have it, I didn’t have to wait that long. I heard the name Susan B. whispered in my ear so I immediately typed it in. Even though page after page of stranger’s profiles popped onto the screen, I knew my Aunt Sue would be on the first one. Five faces down, I saw her. Her eyes (our eyes!) stood out to me first, but from the names on her friend list alone, I was absolutely positive it was her. I sent her a message the very next day. “I’m a normal person (if you don’t count the pound of chocolate and bottle of wine it has taken me to write this), and I don’t want to be invasive. I’m just hoping to make contact with anyone who could tell me about my birth family and help me find out where I come from….”

I never heard anything back.

Now I know it’s because she was never on Facebook, but at the time I assumed the worst. They’re mad at me. They don’t want me. They’re too nice to say “Piss off you mangy rodent! Are you still not getting the message yet?” But then every time I focused on my aunts and my grandparents, I felt a warmth like I’d been wrapped in a soft cotton blanket and rocked in a hammock in the sunwhich made it pretty hard to fully believe that they were cold or uninterested or mad.

The Blog Name for my therapist is Saint J. When I was a medic, people used call us life savers; but after being dead inside, and then brought back to life, I know the real heros are the ones who heal our hearts, souls and minds.  I remember telling her one day that I sensed my family so strongly that it felt like I knew who they were. Then I told her that I had lied when I said that I only wanted to meet them. “I want them love me. What if they never love me…..?”

My 4 closest friends and I used to spend the Memorial Day Weekend at the beach in Neskowin. On that weekend in 2010, I was distracted and depressed but was trying not to let it ruin our shopping and eating and movie watching slobbery while we inhaled bags of Peanut M & M’s in our sweats. We’d usually drive over on a Friday and spend all day Saturday at the mall. I remember sitting on a bench in a sun spot, and telling the girls that I’d catch up with them later. With my eyes closed and my face turned upward, I felt my friend Nika’s arm go around me. “We know you’re not ok. We’re all getting up and driving to Florence tomorrow, so matter what you find, it will be alright, because we’ll be with you the entire way.”

 *****

That’s far as I can go for now MamaI’m going to have to stop for awhile.

“I believe in you, Baby Bird. I believe in you. And I’ll be right here waiting when you’re ready again.”

*****

Stay tuned for Lost and Found: Meet Virginia Part 2. Hopefully not too far away in the future.

The Itty Bitty, Big Things.

If a page in Open Office could be ripped out of my computer and tossed in the corner, you wouldn’t be able to see my floor right now. That’s how many times I’ve started this post.

And stopped.

And started again.

This is what happens when an agoraphobic story, desperately wants to be heard, but still isn’t convinced that it’s safe to walk out into the world. No matter how times you dress it up pretty and have it almost coaxed to the door, it may just as easily turn back around, and spend the evening on the couch, with a stale bag of Fritos instead.

So here’s the thing. Not only do I love stories. I need stories. Even if they never make it outside of my head, they’re my long walk on a stormy beach. They’re my wander through a sun-dappled forest. They’re my Prozac. My Zantac. My Xanax. They’re my prayers for peace and understanding: my arms lifted in gratitude for everything I don’t deserve, but I still, miraculously have; and they’re the unbreakable thread that binds my heart, to the entire rest of the world.

Tell them, and I will listen. Listen, and I will tell them. Put me in an uncomfortable position, and I’ll make stuff up that I probably shouldn’t say out loud. Like when I’m flying. I spend the entire time, with my face buried in a book, blasting 70’s classics or 80’s hair bands through my ear buds as loud as my neighbors can stand it. Then the book and the music, merge into one, and become a story of my own.  On my way to Chicago last Fall, entire scenes from Outlander fell victim.  Like the one where Claire leaves Jamie in the 17th century at Craig Na Dun. In my vodka spiked version, just as she slips back into 1945, the rocks morph into jumbo versions of those fake stone speakers that they’ve hidden all over Disneyland, like the ones that blast banjo music while you’re having your spine re-arranged on Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster. Then The Scorpions lyrics “Always Somewhere…….Miss you where I’ve been…..I’ll be back, to love you again….” roll into the Scottish countryside as Jamie runs back to fight the battle of Culloden. In red leather pants. And a long auburn perm. With an electric guitar raised in the air. And the battle cry “Je Suit Prest!”. In a voice that sounds exactly like Klaus, as he closed their last set to a sweaty, screaming, half naked crowd in 1989, at Monsters of Rock in Candlestick Park. (Which is an entirely different story on it’s own).

On another flight, a few weeks later, I birthed a Helen Redy /”I Am Woman”/50 Shades of Grey, mutant story-child, that came out looking like a Jim Carrey/Vera-De-Milo/Buffed, Beautiful and Bitch’in version of Anastasia. It talked like me, but with a baritone Vera lisp—and bent Christian’s pinkie back the minute he tried to spank her, and told him if he ever tried it again, she’d rip it off and pin him to the wall, like a bug in a science project, with his fancy leather riding crop. To which he immediately replied “I’m so very sorry. I respect your boundary. Can I buy you a Greek Island in apology?” Then Me/She/We tap our bucky front tooth in thought, and say “No thanks, but a new pair of Manolos would be nice.

“Size 9. Extra Wide. Bunions. You understand.”

Then he looks at us like that’s the hottest thing he’s ever heard, and donates a few million dollars to the Malala Foundation. The End.

In these situation, keeping myself completely distracted until the last bit of turbulence has finally rolled through, is the only goal. Along with making sure that those tiny Matchbox wheels, that have no business supporting the weight of an entire plane, don’t pop off the moment we land, or get ground to smoking nubs before catapulting us end over end.

Yes. Telling stories helps me cope. But these particular ones, and this type of coping have nothing to do with why I’m here.

Which means I’m stalling.

I use stories to do that too.

* * *

It’s been an entire week since I wrote that first part. I’ve caught myself on the verge of Googling “How do I write this damn story?” twice now. Not that it would do me any good. I never find my damn keys that way either. It’s the reason I can go months between posts. It’s not easy to sit in the bug-crawly discomfort of a stage-frighted story, let alone set it free, to run amok, outside the safety of my own person.

As a last resort, I asked Siri.

What am I afraid of ?!?” I half yelled into my phone, because sometimes it feels good to yell at something that can’t yell back.

Interesting question, Alyssa” she said in her superior, un-bothered way, and then sent me to an online game, where the pictures you choose, reveal your unconscious fears.

The first time around I got Fear of Death. Not a big revelation. I’m afraid of those creepy clown, pop up music boxes for the very same reason. Knowing the demented clown is coming out of the box, isn’t nearly as scary as not knowing when the demented clown is coming out of the box. So I took it again, and got  Fear of Failure.

WA-wa. Disappointed face.

I was hoping for something new.  They may as well have told me that I’m afraid of palm sized spiders. Or of accidentally swallowing that placenta-wad, that lurks in the bottom of my Kombucha.

But as I kept scrolling down, it was the obligatory pep talk at the end of the game, that suddenly caught my attention: Many of our greatest fears are unconscious beliefs, attached to untold stories, that may or may not be true. Tell the story. Challenge the meaning. Overcome the fear.

Which weirdly enough, leads me right back here, to the story that wants to be told. About a little girl. And a lost dog. Stuck way back in the recesses of a grown adult’s unconscious mind, creating shadows, and monsters, and limitations, and fears, for no other reason, than she didn’t know it was there.

And of course it’s afraid to come out.

It’s about a little girl.

And a lost dog.

And in the broad scope of childhood trauma, it ranks slightly above falling off the Merry-Go-Round or a badly stubbed toe. Yet here it is, calling daily, with the persistence of a telemarketer who won’t piss off, using every trick it knows to keep you on the phone. “But wait! That’s not all! For just $9.99, your Social Security Number, and the name of your first pet, we’ll include a free set of nose hair clippers!”

Which may be the entire point: Maybe it’s not the bigness, or the smallness of an event that defines the trauma. Maybe it’s defined by the person experiencing it, and their ability to know what they know, and feel what they feel, and to store what they know and feel in a place that they can find it, and name it, and make sense of it. Because when we’re not allowed to know it and feel it, our emotions, and beliefs, get warped and twisted and stuck where we can’t reach them; and before we even realize it, we’ve become a living, breathing legacy, to things that no longer exist.

*ITTY BITTY*

Bitty was my first child. The eat-you-up-adorable Yorkie runt, who was dropped into my world as I held her pregnant mom in my lap. One minute I was watching Donny and Marie, completely conflicted as to whether I was A Lil’ Bit Country, or A Lil’ Bit Rock n’ Roll, and the next minute, I was a new mom, to a blind, grunting ball of black fur and slime. I immediately named her Itty Bitty. Bitty for short. After she opened her eyes and weaned from her mom, she and I were inseparable. She slept with me, rode my horse with me, and shared Shwanz ice cream, straight from the tub, and a jumbo sized Sugar Daddy, as we watched Adam 12 and Emergency 911, under an orange and brown crochet afghan after school. She was Team Johnny too.

Then one day, I came home from school, and Bitty was gone. So were her brother and sister, that we’d named Fat Boy and Fat Girl, because they looked like black and tan sausages, with thick, grub-like tails, that wiggled non-stop. I knew they’d be going to new homes soon, because most of our puppies did, but not my Bitty. I was her Forever Person, and she was my Forever Dog.

No one knew what happened.

Maybe they ran out the door before anyone knew they were gone. 

Maybe they’re lost in the woods.

Maybe an owl or an Eagle carried them off.

Maybe they were picked up off the road.

Don’t get your hopes up looking. You’ll probably never see her again.

To a frantic little girl who had just lost her child, all of those possibilities brought unimaginable grief. Every day after school, I walked up and down our old country road, or combed the woods, calling her name. I slept with a picture of the two of us; her on my chest, me with a candy cane in my mouth, while she pulled it from the other end. I saw her in my dreams, hiding under a wet, mossy, rotted log, shivering in the rain.

And crying.

Always crying.

For me.

Her mom.

After not finding a trace of her, on the road, or in the woods, or from the people I showed her picture to at the drug store, or at the market, I knew I would never see her again. The ache in my chest kept me up at night, and when I did go to sleep, that deep feeling of  infinite loss, even followed me there. I didn’t speak of her again.

A few months back, I was driving my daughter home from soccer, when we saw a dog in the middle of the road with a massive head and paws and an awkward puppy body. He ran sideways, weaving in and out of traffic, tongue hanging out of his mouth, completely oblivious to the danger he was in. I did a U-Turn in the road and followed him down a side street.

We whistled.

We clapped.

We called down the road in those high pitched, Good-Dog voices, that only pet owners know how to use.

He ignored it all, eventually disappearing  into the maze of the neighborhood, and we didn’t see him again.

“If I ever lost Riley, I’d never get over it” said Annika, after we were on our way home again.

Riley is our rescue terrier. Although he’s older than us in dog years, he’s still the baby of the family. My husband is his person, but Annika is a close second. He sleeps on. Or by. But mostly on. Her bed every night. She says she knows what he’s feeling by the twitch of his feet, or the crumple of his ears, and we absolutely believe her.

“Have you ever lost a dog?” She wanted to know.

Thoughts of Bitty, were stashed so far down in my Bank of Things Remembered, they had almost disappeared, so my first response was to say “No”; followed by an ancient ache in my chest—and a painfully reluctant “Yes”.

Then I told her the story of Bitty,  with so much detail, color, and emotion, that I actually surprised myself.

She was quiet for awhile, biting her cheek, and glancing out the window, before finally turning to say, “You know you call me Bitty, right? Don’t you think that’s weird?”

Well, of course I knew I called her Bitty. It’s the name I gave her the moment she was laid on my chest, right after she was born. I just didn’t know it had anything to do with my little lost childhood dog. And yes, I suddenly thought it was weird.

If it was a matter of just being weird, I could have stopped right there. Weird and I go way back, and we get along just fine. But it was more than that. What I hadn’t realized, until that very moment, is that a 40 year old story of fear, loss, and grief, had been showing up for an encore performance, in a fully grown woman’s life.

From the time my kids were born, I’ve had a paralyzing fear of losing them. Like on a playground. Or in the store. Or in their own bedroom. I wish I was kidding about that last one, but at least the other two I know are normal. Most parents worry about losing their kids in public. Especially when they’re little. Then as they grow, and learn, and have the ability to protect themselves, and make safe-ish decisions, we as parents, begin to let those fears go.

Unless you were me.

If you were me, you had two teenagers, and still felt inexplicably panicked when they left for school, or walked to a friend’s house, or were in a public rest room for more than 5 minutes. Then in nothing flat, you could escalate from, “Wonder what’s taking so long…” to a vision of lying awake at night, knowing you’d never see them again, completely consumed with unimaginable grief, without ever stopping to consider, the far more likely possibilities in between.

Like hair gel.

Or lip gloss.

Or Snapchat.

Just that day, as I’d been watching Annika play soccer, I found myself searching for her repeatedly. If I didn’t see her familiar run, or the one brown ponytail, in a sea of brown ponytails, that I somehow knew was hers, my hands felt sweaty, and my guts felt jello-y, and my vision felt tunnel-y, and it only went away when I spotted her again. Those feelings had become so familiar, I’d never stopped to question their sanity. They just were.

Except now, I was doing more than question.

That ache in my chest, with it’s nose in the corner for all of these years, was suddenly free from time-out. It was just as painful as I remembered; and for the first time in my adult life, I saw how powerfully present, that decades old story had been.

The ultra-simplified, not-a-professional-so-do-your-own-research-or-get-your-own-therapist, lay-person version, of how this happens, has been explained to me like this: The Conscious part of my brain, that should have been saying logical things like “Of course she’s still on the field. She’s the height of a grown woman, not a teeny, tiny, purse puppy that can disappear without a trace, the minute your head is turned”, was completely oblivious to the story being told by the much deeper, Unconscious part of my brain. This part has no concept of time and place, or even a language of it’s own to say “Pssst! All is well. That terror you’re feeling right now, happened 40 years ago. Relax and Google crock pot meals like everyone else is doing“. Since it can’t tell the difference between what happened then, and what’s happening now,  familiar stimuli (like searching for your “lost” child), can cause us to think, feel and experience it, in the same jello-y guts, and tunnel-y vision way. As miserable as that is, the Unconscious brain doesn’t give two hoots about how it makes us feel, because it’s primary job is not to make us happy. It’s first job is ensuring our survival, so it stores events, feelings, emotions and beliefs in a way that it registers as “safe”—even if it keeps us attached to a painful story, in a clearly dysfunctional way.

This is how the memory of Bitty became trapped in a maze of sadness, loss and grief; a repressed sorrow, that was being told and re-told through an invasive, irrational fear. And blocking it’s path to awareness, was a single question, that created so much shame and despair, I’ve spent a lifetime shush-ing it down: “How do 3 expensive dogs, disappear in one day, without anyone knowing where they went?” Even as a little girl, I didn’t believe that no one knew. But by never admitting that I questioned the story, even to myself, I buried the painful possibility, that the god-like people who I trusted the most, may have sold my dog with the other two—which  kept the reconciliation of that loss, out of my reach as well.

Our pain hates to be shush-ed. It’s like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. “It won’t be ignored!”; and one way or another, it will have it’s say—in either a fully accessible, agreed upon story—Past with Present, Conscious with Unconscious, no boiling bunnies or jacked up hair. Or as an anxious, obnoxious mom, counting heads like Rain Man by the side of the field, or pacing outside of the men’s bathroom and calling “Are you done yet, sweetie?”, to her mortified teenage son.

Every now and then, when I’m at the doctor’s office, and they see that I’m a retired paramedic, they’ll say some version of “Wow. You did that job? I wouldn’t want to do that job. Have you ever needed therapy for all of the bad stuff you must have seen? Here, go pee in this cup”.

Then I respond with some version of “Nope. I’ve needed therapy for everything else, just not that. Do you want a fill job, or just a splash?”.

They look at me out of the corner of their eye, like I’m in some sort of denial or have a trailer full of bodies in my back yard; which sometimes makes me wonder, as I’m shifting in discomfort on that crunchy tissue landing strip, in my gaping floral gown, if I should come up with something else.

“Well, it’s been a struggle, but I do try my best”.

Then we could nod to each other knowingly, with a face that’s appropriately sad, and it would all make perfect sense. But the truth of it is, I don’t struggle. Not because I’m in denial, but because of the exact opposite, I think. Anything sad or mad or painful or gross from the years I spent as a medic, sit in a small, accessible box, on a fully conscious shelf, which means those thoughts, feelings, emotions and beliefs, don’t need to stomp their feet for attention, or get unruly, and misbehave, to be heard. Not the way Bitty did.

When my kids were little, I had a solid reputation as a Grizzly Mom, who most  didn’t cross more than once. I did what I knew was right, and didn’t apologize for standing my ground. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Unless it shows up where it’s not invited.

And it did.

More often than I wanted to admit.

I used to catch people rolling their eyes, or hear them whisper behind their hands—”It must be her job, poor thing……”. Like I had a terminal illness that I wasn’t aware of, and no one wanted to break the news. Being a medic would have been an easy excuse, if I was ever inclined to make one. I do admit, I was way more cautious than most other parents, for pretty obvious reasons. But when rational concern, turned into scary monsters that I couldn’t explain, I knew it wasn’t “my job—I simply had nothing else to call it at the time.

In all of the years I spent doing what many would call a traumatic job, I only carry a handful of calls with me, and even fewer names and faces. Not because they didn’t matter, but because they did; and one way or another, they were laid to rest instead of being left to wander, like homeless ghosts in the door wells of my mind. Do you know what I do carry with me though? The way the ambulance smells in different weather; like oil, metal and pavement when it’s hot, and like a big, un-bathed rodent when it’s wet. And the weight of our block radio, as it hung from my peeling leather belt. And the grid of the city, like a GPS tattoo, etched into my brain. And the cloudy scratched plastic, blurring the buttons on the Lifepack, like a kid’s candy fingerprints. And the clunky laptop, pulling on my shoulder, as I lift it to write a chart. And the smell of 7-11 Nachos after being stuck for twelve hours, under the drivers seat. And the taste of a lukewarm Venti coffee, with chunky swirls of Half and Half, floating on the top. And the way my waffle bottom boots squeak when they’re wet, across the shiny ER floor. And the early years of Fail-Safe, blaring in our ears, when we took a corner over 40 miles per hour. And the bare dangling wires, when my angry lead ripped it off the wall, and threw it out the window. And the laughter of my favorite partners. Or which ones snore. Or who would only eat a one kind of Pad Thai, from one single booth down at Saturday Market. And who would eat anything, from a withered carrot found rolling on the cab floor, to a day old McRib, left in their work bag overnight. And the pure fun of driving code 3, especially when it’s dark. But there are no pop up surprises. No painful stories left unresolved. Nothing forgotten that should be remembered. Nothing remembered that I should forget. Which is my best explanation, for why a big traumatic job, left a much smaller imprint, than my black and tan Yorkie runt.

The events in our lives are funny that way. Whether we know it or not, they’re constantly weaving a fabric. When we can feel what we feel, and know what we know, the threads become part of a strong, resilient whole. But the ones we snip back, (or that are snipped back for us through shame, guilt or fear), are fragile, and weak and eventually leave a hole. The hole that’s left, becomes the untold stories that live on and on, through our destructive thoughts and behaviors, our liming fears and beliefs, our unexplained anger and control issues, our self-sabotage, addictions and relationship failures—and so much more. Like a highly anxious mom, who doesn’t know she believes, that her two beloved children are destined to disappear, like her beloved childhood dog.

I’ve always said that I became a medic because it’s fun. You learn real quick (like after you’re slapped down on your first ambulance ride-along), to never say “because I like to help people”.  But it’s ok to say it’s fun. And for more reasons that I have room to explain, it really was fun. But on a deeper, and yes, unconscious level, I know it gave a voice to some very different stories, that I also couldn’t tell out loud. Like chaos. And abandonment. And betrayal. And unimaginable loss. And being taught to believe that I was a disgusting, worthless, un-savable worm who was hated by God. And a crippling fear of death (For obvious reasons. Like burning in hell forever.Duh.)

If fear, anxiety, worthlessness, and visions of being flung into the pit of hell by a laughing, vengeful, god-monster was the disease, being a medic was the cure. When I entered that realm, I felt indescribable peace and calm, because when other people were depending on me, fear and anxiety lost their power. There were tools. There was a plan. There was a way to control the chaos that usually seemed to work; and when it didn’t, I knew, that the dying aspect of living, was completely out of my hands. I hadn’t caused it, or created it. I was only there to help.  And someday do something so heroic, that god would forget that he hated me. And hopefully pay my penance for being a disgusting, worthless, un-savable worm.

I ended my career, never feeling like I succeeded in that, but the one thing I did understand: in allowing me to tell my story in a way that my soul understood, it’s my patients who really saved me, instead of the other way around.

You know that saying, “When the past comes calling, don’t answer it. It has nothing new to say”? Well I think it’s exactly the opposite. When the past comes calling ANSWER THE DAMN THING. And then invite it over for coffee; and ask it to tell you everything it knows; and then tell it everything you know; and then keep inviting it over until the conversation becomes so incredibly boring, it doesn’t want to talk to you anymore.

Because here’s the thing. Dealing with our past isn’t like removing a tumor, where the bad part is cut away, and the good part gets to stay. The good and the bad are fully intertwined, and in shunning our past to escape the bad, we lose the rest of our lives as well. In knowing what we know (even if that means shaking your fist at no one, and screaming into the air “You sold my eff-ing dog?!?), and feeling what we feel (even if it means ancient tears, streaming down your face, that you haven’t tasted in 40 years); we not only preserve the fabric, but we create new fibers of meaning and belief, that weave in and out, through time and repetition, to eventually mend that hole.

“Letting go” doesn’t mean spinning around an ice castle, singing a Disney song. If we really want to let something go, we have to pick it up, first. That means facing our stories, grabbing them tight, holding them close, listening to what they’re saying, over and over, like a child who’s afraid of the dark, until we fully understand; and then, and only then, can we truly set them down. Feelings from our past, don’t go away, just because they don’t make sense in our present lives. Neither do the holes from the stories we’ve left untold. We may call it choice, or destiny, or being cursed, or “this is how I’ve always been” or “I don’t know why I feel like this but…”, or “how do these same things keep happening?”, when the truth of the matter is, it may just be an Itty Bitty story, that’s so desperate to be heard, it does whatever it thinks it has to do, to simply be invited in.

Finding Peace and Understanding, in the Gross, Spongy Center of Life.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post that was kind of about the B word (Bigotry) and kind of about the R word (Racism), and then sort of about some other things that weren’t doing me a bit of good to keep carrying around.

So I threw them out.

Into cyberspace.

why? Why? WHY?

Almost 5 posts down The Road To Blog, and I continue to ask myself that same question, right before I close my eyes and press Publish anyway. And I still don’t know the answer to it, any more than I know why I buy a 3 Musketeers and peel the waxy chocolate coating off of that gross, spongy middle part, and throw it away. It’s just a compulsion that brings me peace. Reason enough, I guess. Continue reading Finding Peace and Understanding, in the Gross, Spongy Center of Life.

Sinners, Honkys and Misfits.

I never have loved to run. But for whatever reason, every Spring, I try to convince myself that I do. That’s how I ended up here. Staring from the top of these old concrete stairs, completely out of breath—not only because I’m overweight and out of shape—but because of the staggering flood of memories that have just come rushing back in. Continue reading Sinners, Honkys and Misfits.

It’s More Than Just the Poopy Revenge.

 

 

 

 

The first time I saw The Help, I fell in love with Minny. She was a Truth Telling Nightmare, who fought back, regardless of the risks; and shined a light so bright, that the Doers of Darkness, had nowhere left to hide. And while tale after tale of bravery and heroism had me cheering the whole way through, nothing compared to Bad Ass Minny, taking a dump in a Narcissist’s pie. Continue reading It’s More Than Just the Poopy Revenge.

Dear WordPress. You’re the only one who truly understands me.

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Dear WordPress,

So here we are again.

You: still waiting patiently.

Me: cursing and crying and digging a hole in the wall in front of my desk with an anxious big toe, as I Write. Erase. Repeat. And then press my fingers into my eyeballs as far as I can without causing permanent blindness, and think “Who even does this?”

Like really. What kind of person feels the burning need to vomit words into space where anyone.

Or no one.

But mostly anyone.

Can read them?

For the last month. Every time I’ve tried to write this post, that’s the only thing that comes out. Continue reading Dear WordPress. You’re the only one who truly understands me.