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.


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.

Everyplace. And Noplace.

The day I almost died probably wasn’t the first. We spend our entire lives almost dying in the hundreds of mundane decisions we make every single day.

Go here, not there.

Do this, not that.

One destination or decision over the other is really all it takes. The only difference on that particular day, is that I actually saw it coming.

The story I’m about to tell, is about souls and spirits and miracles and magic and premonitions and the afterlife and everything else I know almost nothing about. Depending on your upbringing, biases, filters, and beliefs, your opinions here may be strong. That’s ok. I’d still love for anyone who’s willing, to feel free to come along. That being said, there are a few things that I need to make perfectly clear up front.

I don’t need permission.

I don’t need validation.

I’m not ashamed.

I’m not deranged.

I’m not psychic.

I’m not being “attacked my Satan” or “led astray by The Enemy”.

I have nothing to justify.

I have nothing to debate.

I want to know what I know, and feel what I feelwhich means the experiences I’m about to share don’t belong to religion, or to anti-religion, or to any belief factory in between. After thirty five years of loaning them out to all of the above, I’m simply claiming them as my own.

When I was growing up, the Bible was a book of hidden landmines that only the extra saved knew how to navigate. One wrong step could blow you straight into hellbut if you were extra-lucky, then the extra-saved, would share their super special secrets with you.

The Extra-Saved could talk extensively about the rules, but when it came to the supernatural, they were the last people you wanted to ask. On paper, we believed in The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In action (or inaction) we treated Holy Spirit like that unhinged relative who chews their nails and burps at the table that you hope doesn’t show up for Thanksgiving.

Because spirits are ghosts.

And ghosts are Satanic.

An invisible God was fine. So was a Savior who died, and rose from the dead. But a Ghost or a Spirit, even a Holy one I guess, was clearly the line in sand.

Outward displays of worship (like love and joy) were frowned upon as well. They weren’t controllable, or qualitative, and couldn’t be put in the weekly bulletin as proof of our success. “Three more baptisms already this month! Only 7 more to go to reach our goal!”, as if our souls were Target Red Cards, and they were aiming for that corporate bonus. Every now and then, when a stray emotion wandered through after hearing a favorite song or verse, I’d feel a flutter in my chest, or a sense of hope from deep inside. I learned early on what to do: pretend it was the holy jalapenos from my nachos the night before, and keep that spirit stuff where it belonged. With the “crazy” churches. Who weren’t extra-saved and special. The ones who held their hands in the air and their faces towards the sky like a child begging for attention. Adoration unashamed. The thought of it made me shudder.

Until the day I almost died, the most supernatural experiences I’d ever had, were getting gifts in December from a fat, voyeuristic stranger who could apparently see through walls, or finding a quarter from a magic fairy, when I lost a tooth. So imagine what it would be like, to wake up one morning with a terrible premonition, that you knew was going to come true. And from that moment on, it’s like a doorway opened up, to a place you couldn’t possibly understand. And in that place, you knew things you shouldn’t know, and felt things you shouldn’t feel, and did things you shouldn’t do.

Like talk to people who are dead.

When I first started writing this blog, I made a promise to myself: I either write it real, or not at all. No filtering for a certain audience. No branding or labeling a thought, feeling or experience, to fit an ideology, religion, or belief. No pretending to know or understand, what I will never know or understand. At least not until this life has passed, and maybe not even then.

That being said, I’m a Jesus Girl. Not a particularly well behaved one. Or the kind that most other Christians accept, apart from a patronizing pat on the head. I don’t do sects, or memberships, or affirmations, or affiliations, or prayer on-demand, or food-for-your-soul ministries, or dogmas, or committees, or casserole baking, or ladies class, or group sharing of any kind, and listening to Joel Osteen radio for all of eternity, is my ultimate idea of hell. But a Jesus Girl is still who I am. I get it though. Claiming to belong, without being bagged, boxed and branded has a way of making people mad. But that kind of belongingwhere we filter thoughts, feelings, and experiences, to look like we fit inis the exact kind of belonging that I never want again.

My favorite bakery downtown has a punch card. Collect 12 heart shaped holes, and you get one piece of cake free, as in “Yay you! You’re a cake eating superstar. Just a few more to go, before you and your insulin resistance win a free trip to Diabetes!”

I handed the cute Millennial in the blue apron and the fully tattooed arm, my almost-full card, for the second time that week.

That’s when I heard it. The metal punch, clicking through the card stock. It was a sticky click, where she had to turn her wrist and wiggle it a bit to coax a slow, reluctant release. It sounded just like the metal click on the crumpled paper card I used to carry to the fields, on those early summer mornings when I went strawberry picking as a kid. Except those cards weren’t a pristine blue and pink with cupcakes and ribbons on the front. They were smeared greasy red and brown with berries, warm bologna, and mud. And instead of a free piece of cake, the hole that was left, meant a Band-Aid tin full of dollar bills at the end of each picking season. If you saved your dollars, that is. I usually spent mine as quick as I  earned them, for Lemon Heads down at Sam’s Drug Store, or on an Orange Crush in a cold glass bottle that sweated cool drops of forehead heaven, or on a red, white and blue rocket-sicle, that always melted before I could eat it. One year though, I saved every single penny, and bought a lavender velour jacket to match the Shawn Cassidy bell bottoms that I got for Christmas the year before. His child bride face and Palomino hair covered the bottom left leg, from the knee clear down to the hem.

At the start of each season, it took me a week or so of distraction to remember that there was no lemon candy, or melty popsicles, or pastel velour until ripe berries actually made it into the flat. And that didn’t happen if you sat in your row and ate them. Or if you army-crawled between the rows and peeked your head up just long enough to pelt your friends in the back with the rotten ones. Or if you took an entire handful and smooshed them in each others hair, yelling “strawberry shampoo!!!” while hurdling over flats and maybe landing in one or two.

I can still see the field boss, with her work gnarled hands and a choppy Scandi accent, pointing to me with my red stained face and berry filled hair, and yelling at my sister.

“Christy! You gonna have to do someth’in ’bout your ‘lil sister!”

I used to wonder what that “someth’in” could be. And from the look of despair in her well-behaved blue eyes, so did my poor big sister.

It doesn’t take much, does it?  A sound. A smell. A slightly familiar object. To transport us back to a long forgotten time and place, that feels so right now, we think we can reach out and grab it, if we only tried hard enough. In that one sticky click of metal through paper, I could smell the wet, muggy warmth rising off of the fields as the sun came up over the trees. And I could feel the hot summer sun, baking my back as I picked (or ate) my way up rows of fat red and ruffly green. Standing at that bakery counter, absently pulling a loose strand of hair, I was almost surprised to look down to find clean adult fingers with manicured nails, instead of the chubby stained nubs of a child, sliding globs of mud and berries from her head.

The entire month of March, with it’s slow blooming trees, both bitter and sweet, and the feel of warm, wet days, that end in cool, dusky evenings, release a gauntlet of memories for me.

When I tried to write this story back in March, I couldn’t follow through. It felt too intimate. Too invasive. Like a close talking uncle on his fourth glass of sherry, who leans so far into your face, you can feel his breath across your cheek. It left me recoiled in my chair, thinking of polite ways to leave. So I shoved in April and May as a buffer, like that empty seat in the theater, to keep a shoulder, or a leg, or heaven forbid a hand, from accidentally touching someone else. But even that wasn’t enough, because here come the tears again. The super concentrated kind, like those cardboard cans of frozen juice, they sell five for five dollars at Fred Meyer. Just add water, or the truth, and you’ll end up with a whole lot more.

There are parts of this story that I’ve told out loud, many times before. Then there are some parts, that until recently, I’ve never even said to myself. I’ve learned that telling a story, and feeling a story, aren’t the same thing at all. Feeling it out loud, as I am right now, is like waiting for the trap door to open on one of those free fall water slides, with words like Death and Insanity in their names. Even though you know you’ll probably be ok, there’s still that lingering doubt in the back of your mind as you smile and wave goodbye.


You’re at the mercy of gravity until you reach the end.

-March 6, 1983-

Chores. My older sister and I were fighting over chores. I was 14, and she was 17, and for as long as I can remember, we fought over chores. Mostly because she did hers, and I didn’t do mine. Or at least not all of them, which meant that most of the time, she did mine and hers both.

“Christy! You gonna have to do someth’in ’bout your ‘lil sister!”

The usual, not-nice words were exchanged. I don’t remember exactly which ones, but I know they weren’t nice, because we weren’t nice to each other in general. Some of it was normal, but the majority of it was not. I like to believe that the love was there, but a relationship would never be possible. Not all parents want their kids to be friends

I was leaving for a church swimming party that morning. Not with my own church. My church was over an hour away in “the city”, although it wasn’t a city church at all. It was a suburb church. But since we lived in “the country”, anything not in the country, was the “the city”. Where we were going, was a town in-between, that wasn’t the suburbs, or the city, but it was a bigger town than ours and had an indoor swim park and a pizza parlor.

The argument over chores came to an abrupt end when I heard the dog barking out front, and I knew a car was headed up our long wooded driveway.  I grabbed my bag to run outside, but then right as I opened the door, an overwhelming urge to hug my sister and apologize kept my hand paused on the knob.

Apologies didn’t happen in our family. Not for real at least. Especially not the hugging kind. And definitely not between my sister and I. We’d had an unsaid agreement for as long as I could remember, to touch each other as little as possible. We shared a bed when we were younger, with two Yorkies and a pile of dolls, and the nightly ritual went something like this: “G’night. Love you. Don’t forget to say your prayers………AND DON’T TOUCH ME.”

I practically had to chase her down for a hug and an apology that morning. “Love you…..and uh…..sorry” is about all I got out before she wrinkled her face and pushed me away like she’d just smelled something foul. Not that I blamed her. Huggy and sorry isn’t who we were. But in that moment, I desperately needed it to be us, to soothe the ominous sense of knowing that something terrible was coming our way.

As I ran out to the waiting car, and crawled over the front seat and into the back, the second part of that same premonition came barreling in out of nowhere.

“Wear a seat belt” it said.

“It won’t matter” came the response.

We were country kids in the early 80’s and as far as we were concerned, seat belts were for weaklings and whiners who couldn’t brace themselves on the dashboard, like normal people did. I ran my finger across the shiny silver buckle that was lying in the seat, but didn’t clip it in. There was an empty glass bottle on the floor and a curling iron in the back window. I grabbed them both and shoved them up under my seat, so when the car rolled later, they wouldn’t hit me in the head. That wouldn’t matter either, as it turned out.

Why this supernatural frequency opened up to me, is something I may never understand. Unless chronic fear was a spiritual gift, I had nothing special to speak of. I was just an emotionally constipated church kid, who worshiped eye shadow and flavored lip gloss and thought a lot about feathering her hair. But like the prints on my fingers, or the color of my eyes, it’s become a part of me now. I can’t explain how, but I knew what I knew, to the tips of my rainbow striped toe socks: something awful was coming our way, and we couldn’t have stopped it if we had tried.

We drove to the neighboring town, while I waited for IT.  We swam, while I waited for IT. We ate pizza while I waited for IT. Then we laughed and joked on the way home, while I still, waited for IT.

Our older teenage driver was so good. Heartbreakingly good. She kept both hands on the wheel and her eyes on the road, even with the distraction of three middle school girls who couldn’t sit still in her car. She was no different than the rest of usthere was nothing she could have done to avoid what happened next.

About half way home, the three of us girls fell asleep—almost instantly it seemed. One minute, my friend L was waving her hands and telling a story while bouncing up and down in the front seat, and the next thing I remember is waking up with clammy hands, a racing heart, and a desperate need to escape. The third and final act of the premonition had arrived, and I had never felt so much fear in my life.

I pulled myself up between the two front seats, with an arm over the back of each. I listened for noises. A bump, or a rattle, but the air was calm and quiet. The radio was on low, and I heard that song by Nazareth, Hair of the Dog, begin to play on KGON.

“Heartbreaker. Soul shaker. I’ve been told about you…..”

I stayed perfectly still, like a fly on a window, with the shadow of a swatter hovering over it. Then we headed into a straight stretch, gaining just enough speed to pass the person in front of usand our car began to shake and weave.

“Make it stop!” I remember begging. But I didn’t mean the shaking. I meant the IT, that had been gathering strength all day.

“I can’t….” I heard her say with her arms locked on the wheel as we drifted towards the ditch. Then there were bumps, and a fence, and we were headed straight into a field.

“This is it?” I remember thinking, with a momentary flood of relief, that we were landing out in the grass. Then we lifted off the ground like a plane rolling down the tarmac, and we were flying through the air.

Even when a car rolls multiple times (they put ours at around 6, end over end) the worst of it is over in 30 seconds or less. But time as we know it, isn’t the same, when Death decides to show up. It’s like a hidden doorway opens to a secret roomthat’s neither Here, in this world, or There, on the other sideand seconds and hours feel exactly the same.

The first thing I remember, is the sound of metal grinding on pavement as we flipped back towards the road. Then there was the crack of my skull on every roll, that hurt so bad I could barely even feel it. The firework show behind my tightly closed eyes looked just like Disneyland at nightand I knew if I hit my head one more time, that Death would be taking me away.

Then a sliver of light began to open in the distance, like a mouth full of braces, yawning in the dark. As the light became wider and began swirling with color, I felt a deep, ancient pull that I had known forever, like the tides must know the moon. Some dark fuzzy figures like a Rorschasch Inkblot, began hovering off to my right. Not good. Not bad. Just detached workers, with no authority of their own, waiting for permission to start their workas if spiritual housekeeping, can’t clean your room, until the Do Not Disturb sign is gone from your soul. 

Then a Voice who felt the way lightening looks, filled the entire room.

“It’s ok, Alyssa, this is supposed to be happening,” was all it said, and I wasn’t afraid anymore.

“Can you please get me out?” I immediately asked “I’m going to die if I hit my head one more time.”  The next thing I knew, I broke through something solid, and away from The Room and The Voice. I saw the pavement spiraling towards me as I flew through the air and the car rolled away in the distance. I was still fully conscious when I landed face down, in the muggy wetness of that old country road.

I’ve spent my entire my life, wondering who Lightening Voice was, but up until recently, I’ve never bothered to ask. Religion would give me it’s opinion, then Anti-Religion would give me theirs, but neither of them would know the truth. Then one day, not long ago, I got brave and asked God itself.  “It was The Whisper in your ear, who’s been with you all along,” was the answer I received. In my heart I know it was Holy Spirit, although now I just call it The Whisper.

The first thing I did after landing in the road, was to take inventory of my bits and pieces. Besides one hanging pinkie, my hands and arms were still there, which was a surprisingly positive start. Patches of hair were missing and my body felt sticky and wet, but I could see, and crawl, and I assumed I wasn’t dead, which I was still finding hard to believe. I laid down in the road, with my cheek on the pavement, afraid to move in the eerie quiet. Then I heard the windshield wipers scraping over broken glass, and Hair of The Dog was still on the radio, blaring at full volume now.

“Now you’re messing with a…..Son of a Bitch!”.

I still hate that song, more than I can say.

The details of what came next, aren’t completely mine to tell, but at the very least, I need to say this: my friend L, with her jokes and her stories and her effortless charisma, died when the rest of us didn’t. I’ve rewritten that last sentence over and over, using Oprah-eque phrases like “crossed over the veil”, or “stepped into the light”, to try to spruce it up a bit. It’s a compulsion I guess, to give the ugly truth a new suit and tie, and hope no one sees it for the mangy rat it is.

There were no cell phones back then. No Trauma System to alert. No Life Flight to swoop in.  No Level I Trauma Hospitals with teams of nurses and surgeons waiting for us at the ER door. So my friend N and I sat by the road in the dark, with cloth diapers held tightly to our heads. Then the volunteer ambulance full of friends and relatives, bandaged us, and consoled us, and kept us safe, until we reached the community hospital, almost an hour away.

In the beginning, before help arrived, my friend N and I had gone to search for L. We were worried that the car was going blow up, like it always did in the movies. The man from the car that we tried to pass, had already found her first. “Don’t come down here!” he begged, with his arms open wide and waving back and forth, like he was trying to herd confused ducklings. But there was no amount of pleading that could have kept us awayshe was our friend, and we weren’t going to leave her.

When we finally found her, each of us grabbed a hand, but then we both stopped pulling in unison. With her perfectly feathered hair, and that smile on her face, we thought it best to leave her “sleeping” until help came.

Even later on, as we saw shaking heads and the  blanket that was reverently put over her, we still believed our friend was “sleeping”, and would wake up when she was ready. Then sometime in the night, between stitches and x-rays and being left behind curtains under bright florescent lights, we got the news that our friend was gone. I didn’t learn the truth of what had happened to L, until that following summer when I overheard an EMT telling a friend about what she had seen. She said the beautiful vision, that both N and I saw, had never existed at all.

So how did two separate sets of eyes see the very same image of peace and joy, shining from the inside out? This is what I believe: we were given the gift of seeing our friend as she was from the moment she died, safely on the other side. And it was an act of mercy, from a God who cared, who created a memory that we could both live with. Even after 18 years as a medic, that vision has never changed.

So if your God is so caring, then why isn’t everyone protected like that?

And why did your friend die in the first place?

And why are some babies sick and starving while others are healthy and fat.

And why…….????

How’s this for an answer: I don’t have one.

What I do know is that in 6 rolls of a car on pavement, my world was divided into two realities.

In one, I ate Doritos and Pop Tarts at sleepovers my friends, and I would have sold my soul to watch MTV. I also had a blue satin jacket that wasn’t soaked in blood, and children didn’t die.

It the second one, I was left with visions and voices from a place I didn’t understand. Dreams became night terrors. Fears became phobias. Rage became outbursts. Anxiety became self-destruction, compulsion, and recklessness. And guilt for surviving fed that old time religion, of shame for being alive at all.

No one did counseling back in the 80’s. It was half-heartedly offered, but even if I would have wanted it, I knew the right answer was an indignant “no way”.  Counseling was for weak people. For crazy people. For people who weren’t Extra Saved. Not that I didn’t talk about it. I talked about it incessantly. Exhaustively. To friends. To family. To complete strangers. Even more in my later teens, when I found the comfort of a boozy oblivion.

The best part about being hammered, was being able to talk about ghosts and spirits, and a Lightening Voice in a Secret Room, and how sad I was all of the time without ever having to feel a thing. As an added bonus, everyone else was wasted too, and they wouldn’t remember anything you said. Talking didn’t mean feeling, so for the longest time, a drunken ramble in the middle of the night was as real as this story ever was. And by never being able to feel it out loud, it became an alcohol soaked network of risky compulsions, that tried to destroy me in a different way. I know I wasn’t the only one.

I still grieve for the kids, who walked single file down the steps of our school, past the playground, and the baseball field, to the church. We said goodbye to our innocence and to our childhood friend, and then marched back to class to take a spelling test.

I still grieve for the boys in the pew behind me, with tears streaming down their faces. It was the first time I had seen any of them cry.

I still grieve for the families, so paralyzed with pain, that they never knew what to say. And I hurt just as much for all of the kids, who mistook their silence for blame.

I still grieve for the siblings, who lost their sister. I didn’t know how to tell them I was sorry.

I still grieve for the parents who lost their child. I hope they know how much we all loved her.

I still grieve for the friend, who’s name we stopped saying, to protect all of the hearts that were broken. But pretending she didn’t die, hurt worse in the end, because it felt more like forgetting she lived.

L came to visit me a couple of years ago. Dead people still do that sometimes.  I was sitting in the parking lot of my daughter’s school on a miserable, rainy evening. As I stared at the trees, checking off a laundry list of failures, I felt a familiar tingle down the back of my neck.  The Room was open, and L stepped through as if we did this all of the time, instead of it being the first time in thirty some years.

“I’m sorry……” I said, starting to cry. I didn’t even know what for. For living when she died? For everything we had done without her? Like drinking hot chocolate on sleep overs with the mini marshmallow she loved. Or buying dresses for homecoming and prom. Or graduating from High School, and picking careers and spouses and homes and curtains and baby names….

“Stop”, she said, in an older sister voice, that sounded nothing like the girl I used to know.  “You’re spending so much time on the things that don’t matter, you’re missing out on the ones that do. Like your daughter’s game, that you should be at right now—you’re already 10 minutes late you know.”

I looked at the clock. It was 10 minutes past 6. I gave her a watery thanks and dried my face on my sleeve. My friend Denise says when Souls are on other side, that God gives them jobs to doI like to think that maybe L’s job is me. As I ran towards the school, I heard a sigh of relief rush through the trees, that “‘lil sister“, heard the message loud and clear.

In her newest book, called Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown describes “the wilderness” as the metaphoric wild place, where we all must go to feel what we feel, and know what we know, and tell the truth about who we are. Even if no one validates us. Or believes us. Or agrees with us. Or wants to hear what we’re saying at all.

“Belonging is being accepted for you who you are” she writes. “Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else. If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.”

We all want to belong. We need it, crave it, feel like we’ll die without it. We want our stories and our experiences to fit into everyone else’s boxes, as proof that we’re normal and ok. But unless we live in our own truth first, we lose the sacred parts that make us unique, in our insatiable desire to fit in.

In an interview in the early 70’s, Maya Angelou once said this: “You are only free when you realize you belong no place. You belong every place. And no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

Everyplace. And no place. Being a part of it all, with the courage to stand alone. For the first time in 35 years, I know exactly where this story belongs.

Teeth Cleaning. Truth Telling. And a Bowl of Cold Gray Mush.

“I’m so sorry” yawned the super sweet hygienist who was digging on my teeth. “I just didn’t get much sleep last night. I have a dear, DEAR friend who insists on keeping me up. I mean, I LOVE HER TO DEATH, but she knocks on my door at almost midnight, several times a week, even though she knows I get up early for work.”

“Hath you athked her to thtop?” I drooled, trying not to disturb that pointy hook thing that I was starting to worry would end up buried in my brain.

“Yes” she punctuated with another quick scrape, “But for some reason, I end up feeling guilty. She really has done SO MANY NICE THINGS FOR ME, and I’m sure….no, I’m POSITIVE, because she’s THE GREATEST PERSON EVER, that when I tell her I need to sleep, and she reminds me of all that she’s given to me and done for me, she’s NOT TRYING TO MAKE ME FEEL BAD. Sometimes she says that I must not want to be her friend—AND OF COURSE I DO—but she’s starting to affect my work, and my health, and no matter how nicely I ask her to stop, I feel like I’m being mean.

At this point I’d had it. Not with the pirate claw, chipping at my teeth, BUT WITH THE STORY—not the one she’s saying out loud, but THE ONE SHE WASN’T, about the clearly abusive person—IN THE BOLD TYPED WORDS, that were the opposite of the truth.

How did I know? Because I had been there myself, in the Upside Down, Good-Means-Bad/Bad-Means-Good, Find-Muckery, of the Greatest-Ever, Done-So-Many-Nice-Things-For-Me, Malignant Narcissist “friend”. And once you’ve experienced it yourself, it’s pretty hard to miss in someone else.

So let’s pause right there to allow two key words to soak in: 

MALIGNANT 1.) Tending to be severe and become progressively worse 2.) can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

NARCISSIST: One who has an inflated sense of their own importance, an insatiable need for power, control and admiration, and a lack of empathy for others.

Just what we all want burrowing into our soft spots, right? And if you think that sounds fun, when the stage is set, and their players are cued for action, the story of your life becomes “Absolute Hell on Earth”.

You know how germs that have mutated past normal medications are called Superbugs? Well Malignant Narcissists are resistant like that too, except they’re resistance is to the way that normal people (the kind who don’t get off on hurting others) function in society. They’re more than a typical, self serving Narcissist, (who also hurts other people without remorse, to get their needs met). They’re a predatory Super-Narcissist, and because causing people pain  IS their need, asking them to stop any harmful behavior, is  met with mental, physical and social consequences that are so well masked with fakey, falsey goodness, people on the outside may never see it for the abuse it is.

The minute my mouth was empty, I sat up, wiped my face and asked her one simple question: “So what do you think would happen, if you quit coming to the door?”

There was a long sigh as she (thankfully) put her gum harpoon down, and said what may have been the first honest assessment of her twisted situation out loud.

“I know this will sound really weird (it didn’t), but I think she’s trying to push me to a breaking point (she is), so she can use it to make me look crazy (she will). She’s always setting up these impossible situations, where no matter how awful she acts, you look like the bad guy, and she either looks like the hero who saved the day, or the victim who everyone feels sorry for. If  I stop answering the door, she’ll make me look like the jerk. She’s literally in charge of everything: our friends, our families, Ladies Bible Class, Baby Showers, Women’s Ministries. She even takes our pastor on vacation. People practically worship her, but none of them know what it’s like when she doesn’t get what she wants. An entirely different person shows up….and that one is downright mean.”

That’s what I thought. Because no fully mature, middle aged, professional woman, tells a total stranger this kind of bizarre story (especially when they should be gagging them with that strawberry sand polish, and buffing their teeth to a glossy finish) unless the absolute misery of living your life under ownership, has finally outweighed the risks of telling the truth. And when it gets to that point. Even a drooling patient will do.

So who are these Super-Malicious, Super-Malevolent, Super-Bug people?

Malignant Narcissists (or what I call Super-Narcs) are pathological predators who get a sick satisfaction from other people’s fear, pain, humiliation and misery. You know how Cookie Monster says “Nom! Nom! Nom!” with his big googly eyes, bugged out in joy as he uncontrollably shoves cookies in his face? That’s what a Super-Narc does, except their cookie of choice is someone else’s suffering. 

It’s not so different from the fix a serial killer gets when they have complete control over their victim. The empty hole in their soul is temporarily filled with a godlike feeling of the power over another human being. Super-Narcs have just figured out another way to get it—minus all of that unpleasant jail time.

And look. If you think these people show up with horns and a pitchfork, you’re wrong. They show up with a rent check when you’re running short; or a job offer; or jumper cables when you’re stuck; or a great deal on a house; or with a super elite, VIP party invitation; or with a sunny day out on their boat; or as a nurse during your health crisis; or with a paid vacation; or with a door that’s open and a shoulder to cry on; or with a freezer full of casseroles when your kid is sick or your spouse breaks their leg. But unlike normal people, who do nice things because they’re actually nice, Narcs only do “nice” things to benefit themselves. They’re like a computer, always on, scanning the crowd, searching for an in, on the hunt for a useful tool, mimicking empathy and compassion in a shockingly real way, to look like your dream come true. Until the mask eventually falls off, and the Super-Narc Nightmare begins.

Showing up under the pretense of goodness and kindness, benefits them in several powerful ways:

1.) It lowers our defenses, while giving them a front row seat to our lives. This is where they do their best Market Research. That’s right. Just like advertisers do. They collect an arsenal of information to manipulate emotions and behaviors, or magnify our biggest wants, needs, fears, failures, and vulnerabilities, so they can market themselves as the solution to our problem. Either that, or they feed us a constant supply of subtle cues and warnings, of what will happen if they’re not given what they want. 

2.) It gives them the power to turn relationships into weapons. Using the information they’re given, they create an intricate web of relationships where everything we hold sacred, hinges on the approval of a group that is owned and controlled by them. Once that happens, they have the power to give and take, or punish and reward. If we’re on their side, (i.e making excuses for their bad behavior, and giving them the power, control, money, adoration, or status they demand), we get rewarded. Sometimes it’s with a share of their spoils, but most of the time, it’s by not being targeted–which for most people, is really all they want. But the minute they sense that one of their Ego Suppliers isn’t loyal, they make themselves the victim, accuse the defector of being the abuser, and turn the rest of the group against them—often damaging kids, marriages, neighbors, jobs, school relationships, church status, social standing, or anything else we hold dear. Simply put, they use emotional blackmail to keep us in a constant state of fear, confusion and denial, which is why otherwise good people, will stand by and say nothing, while abusers do what they do best: lie, destroy and manipulate, to get their needs met.

3.) It creates a high level of anxiety when they switch back and forth from generous and helpful, to cruel and abusive. Which is really the whole point. People who are anxious and confused don’t make good decisions. They also question their own instincts, which keeps them from trusting their inner voice, that in all likelihood, has been pissed off for awhile. Mine used to rant when I was vacuuming and scrubbing toilets. It took me awhile to realize that it was more than just the fumes from my Clorox Clean.

4.) It’s gives them entertainment. When you’re an empty, sadistic psycho, People Puppets are fun.

5.) It leaves you feeling beholding and indebted, and a lot less likely to tell the truth. Not that anyone would believe you if you did. Look how “kind”, “loving” and “giving” they’ve been! You should really should be ashamed of yourself.

Ummm. No. You shouldn’t.

And since I’m not ashamed either, lets talk about some pretty common behaviors, that you may be convinced are a figment of your toilet cleaning imagination too.

1.)  Never-ending Drama: Wherever a Narc goes, their three best friends, Misery, Discord and Chaos will always be there too. If Narcs have a Super Power, poisoning relationships is it. They plant covert seeds of mistrust, anger and hatred; pitting friend against friend, church member against church member, family against family, co-worker against co-worker, and without even realizing it, they all become actors in a shitty, low budget drama, that was written, and directed, by a truly malevolent person. Then guess who they all go running to, to be “the voice of reason” or “the calm in the storm”. That’s right. The Narc who created it in the first place. And with a hand to their chest, and a fake tear in their eye, they’ll say “It really hurts my heart, when you all can’t get along.”  

2.) Never-ending Gossip—under the guise or real concern: “Just between you and me, I hope their marriage lasts….she doesn’t really seem to love him.”; “Her husband gives me the creeps…we really should watch him around their daughter.”; “Let’s just pray that God makes them better parents…..those poor messed up kids”; “Being an alcoholic must be such a burden….but at least he’s finally fighting it” (as they relentlessly push the booze).

3.) Picking and Grinning: They choose certain kids and adults within the group, to be the “Bad Guys”. They make these people the butt of their “super funny jokes”, and encourage the rest of the herd to make fun of them, randomly ostracize them, or pick them apart when they’re emotional vulnerable, afraid or weak.

Not that I have any examples or anything.

I mean really. I’m just pulling these out of nowhere.

-So how about a grown woman who encourages a table full of  kids, to kick and hit a 3 year old and a 6 year old, and tell them that “no one likes them”—as she stands by and smirks when they’re forced to eat on the floor.

-Or maybe a grown man, who pulls a little boy’s pants down in public, and encourages an entire group of adults to shame and embarrass him. Then when his mom gets upset, he calls her a “freak” who “can’t take a joke”.

-Or what about the guy who leaves a bunch of little kids bloody and crying after tossing them at high speed on a boat; and then he and his wife blame the kids for getting hurt, and ridicule the parents who are angry. 

By the way, when it comes to them and their family, you’d better treat them like gold. Especially their kids. Unless, of course, they’re the disposable ones–like the “annoying” step kids, or the “thankless” foster kids, or the adopted kids who aren’t in a constant state of Savior Worship, or their “underachieving disappointment” kids who haven’t figured out that their only purpose for being born, is to be an extension of the Narc, and support their delusions of superiority.

4.) Innies and Outies: They purposefully invite one or more “Outsiders” to gatherings so there’s someone for them to low-key shame, ridicule, ignore, and ultimately feel like a superior “Insider” to. And here’s a little side note: if you ever have the feeling that you’ve been invited as an Outsider. You have. Instincts never lie. In fact, the Super-Narc has been picking you apart and priming her audience for days. My advice? Cancel at the last minute, so they don’t have time to invite an alternate. Of course, the lowest person on their group’s Psycho Pole will end up being the substitute. But that’s not your problem. They have choices too.

5.) Musical Friends: A revolving door of friends is created as “Unusable” people are run out of the group, to make way for better behaved Supply to come in. Because see, people are not people. They’re tools, that either give them what they want, or are thrown away without conscience or thought. People become “Unusable” in several different ways. A.) They don’t have enough toys, money or status to supply the Narc’s vacuous need for power, adoration and superiority, B.) They don’t give them enough personal information to allow themselves to be controlled or manipulated, C.) They don’t give them emotional reactions that can used against them in some way D.) They don’t follow the herd, or take commands, E.) They don’t buy the Narc’s bullshit. Seeing them for who they are, is a one way ticket out.

6.) Destruction of Sacred Relationships: Sacred relationships are especially attractive to a Malignant Narc, because nothing gives them more pleasure, or a greater feeling of godlike power, than destroying the relationship between a husband and wife or a parent and a child.

One of the ways they do this, is by forming an inappropriately close bond with a spouse, child or parent, or by making themselves indispensable in some way. They may encourage us to take that new job and offer to watch your kids for free. Then the next thing we know, we’re dependent on them financially–while they’ve become our kid’s second mom, or an influential third party in our suddenly crumbling marriage.

Another way they do this, is with a constant, low frequency negativity towards the people we love most.

Many years ago, one of my closest friends (Loose term. No real meaning) stood in my dining room and gestured towards my rambunctious 3 year old son.

“How do you even STAND him?” she asked, with fake empathy and a sneer disguised as a smile. Then she stared at me expectantly like an open mouthed Dementor hungrily searching for a soul, as if I should immediately nod in agreement and tear him apart myself. “Ya! The little jerk. And what was up with all of that morning sickness. I’ll never eat Jello salad again thanks to him….”

In different ways, and to varying degrees, she trashed all of the kids in our group.  But here again, is that extra element of evil that sets a Super-Narc apart: she not only wanted us to dislike each other’s children, she wanted us to dislike OUR OWN children. It’s all about the rush of power and ownership; and having the ability to control something so against nature, like separating families—especially a husband from a wife, or a parent from their child—floods them with euphoria like a vein full of Happy Juice, to a jonesing Malevolence Addict. AHHHHHHH……..

8.) Feeling Great Pleasure, from Bad Fortune: Super-Narcs are highly jealous, and downright sadistic, so witnessing or creating another person’s failure or misfortune, lights their pleasure centers up like a Disco Ball. Unless of course, they can take credit for our good fortune themselves (“I’m so glad I could get them that house. With their income, it never would have happened without my influence“). If that’s the case, they’ll pimp our accomplishments all day long.

And here’s a creepy little extra: You may have noticed that the people within those groups start to look strangely alike. They buy the same clothes, or furniture, or purses, or cars, or cameras, or dogs. That’s because anything that isn’t the Narc’s idea is targeted as “cheap”, “stupid” or “inferior”. But anything that is exactly the same the Narc’s, is “rewarded” (by not being targeted) since the brilliance of it all can be credited back to them.

9.) Nice Try Loser, But You Still Suck: Nothing you do will ever be quite good enough. Did you buy them an expensive present? Throw them a party? Take them on a trip? Do them a favor? (Like repeatedly answering your door at midnight, even though you wake up early to buff and floss teeth?) No matter what, they’ll always make you feel like you’ve let them down: (“Thanks for having the party. I was throwing up all night. But I’m sure it wasn’t your fault”; “Oh look. Another pair of earrings. Did you see the beautiful pair that Nicole bought for me? She really does know me so well?”.) Watching their friends jump through higher and higher hoops, or run each other over to compete for status, or perform for love and acceptance, is another source of Super-Narc power, control and superiority. Every now and then, they may let us think we’ve finally nailed it. But be warned: it won’t last. They give just enough “Reward” to keep us coming back for more, so they can watch us fail again.

10.) Bullying Children. If anything is a Hallmark of evil, this is it. And as I’ve said before, Malignant Narcs are known for it. Because remember the formula: Pain+Misery+Vulnerability = Nom! Nom! Nom! Nark-y Pleasure Snack. 

It’s not like they do it outright. They’re way smarter than that. There’s usually an eye roll here. A snide comment or comparison there. Along with a “funny” (aka humiliating) story, with a “laugh” (aka disgusted sigh), at the end. (“Macy stayed the night, and peed her pants. Again. Shouldn’t she be potty trained by now? We sure do love that kid though. Even with her behavior problems and all.”) And all the while, every child is being covertly painted with a lifelong label: Stupid. Annoying. Bad. Delayed. Ugly. Fat—with escalating cues, that urge the entire group from kids to adults, to shame and humiliate them on command.

Here’s what’s even nastier: A Super-Narc goes to great lengths to make themselves appear to love and protect children. They’ll often foster, or adopt, or babysit, or teach, or coach, or volunteer, because it gives them unlimited access to their favorite ego snack. It’s important to remember that any “good” they show up front, is the opposite of who they are. A dead accurate compass, that points to the darkness inside their heart. 

Ok. Gross. But how does anyone normal fall for this?

It’s actually easier than you may think.

Believe it or not, Narcissists are a dime a dozen. They exist in varying degrees, in every group and organization, from families, to churches, to schools, to charities to governments. So what causes some people to be a gourmet meal, while other people look like a stale bag of chips? From what I’ve learned so far, although I still have a long way to go, a primary reason is this: depending on the role we were given as a child, and the type of environment we grew up in, many of our brains are wired, to be the perfect Supply for a Narc. Some of those environments include (but are definitely not limited to): A.) Being raised with sexual abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or with a highly manipulative Narcissistic family member. B.) Being raised in a cult-like family, or religion, (or both) that controls their member’s minds, bodies, spirits and souls. These environments teach us to fear authority, to find our sole identity in the approval of others, and that basic boundaries (like saying no to abusers) are selfish, sinful and wrong.

From as far back as I can remember, that’s exactly how I’d been trained: to make wanna-be elitists, feel powerful and superior; to deny or normalize their bad behavior so that they never had to admit they were wrong; and to be an obedient, submissive enabler so that abusive people, could do heinous things, under the guise of benevolence, altruism and good. 

We don’t repeat this cycle in our friendships because it brought us so much joy the first time around. We do it because the brain sees the chaos, dysfunction and misery of serving a Narc as “normal”. We know how it works. We get the commands. We instinctually follow their cues. And because the primitive part of our brain equates anything “normal” to “safe and survivable”, we subconsciously seek them out.

And here’s what’s even scarier. They seek us out too.

Wow. Just….Yuck. I feel like I need a shower. And I’m starting to  think I may have one. Is there any way to get rid of it if I do?

Yes. But it will hurt. They’ll make sure of it. 

There are several ways to skin this mangy, feral cat. My approach is only one, but here’s what I did first: Once the dots started connecting, I read every book and online article I could find about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Not just the Super-Narcs. All of them. Then, I took a brutally honest look at my groups and relationships—everything from schools and churches, to family and friends—and no matter how painful it was, I mentally circled all of the Narcs I could find. Kind of like a Where’s Waldo of my life, except instead of finding a gangly guy in a striped sweater and glasses, I detailed every source of chaos, misery, meanness, anxiety and dysfunction. And sadly, since up until that point, I had been a highly trained, lifelong provider of Narc Supply, there were a lot.

I mean, A LOT, a lot.

Next I played detective, and studied their actions, and my reactions, in all sorts of situations, and quickly learned exactly what was motivating them; because understanding what they want, is the best way to know how we’re feeding them.

Then I stopped. And started the long, painful, process of learning personal boundaries, and untangling them from my life.

One. Rotten. Root. At. A. Time.

I’ll save the specifics for another post, because there really was a different approach for each type of Narc, depending on the group and situation. But there is one, incredibly effective, universal tactic that I used for every single one. I call it going “Cold Gray Mush”. And for a lifelong feeder, it was also one of the hardest.

Since Narcs are Emotional Hoovers, it means changing your reactions from being a gourmet meal, to being as completely unappetizing as possible. And what’s less appealing than Cold Gray Mush? So here’s how it works. No matter what they say to try to get a reaction or response, and no matter how many speeches you’ve practiced in your head to finally let them have it. Give them nothing.

Not your anger.

Not your defensiveness.

Not your passive aggression.

Not your anxiety.

Not your fake friendliness.

And definitely not your honest thoughts or feelings.

Give the least amount of reaction, expression, or emotion you can, and get out of there. It may take some practice, but trust me on this. It’s worth every bit of effort, because once you know what a Super-Narc is, and how they’re fed, your real goal is to do more than stop attracting them. You actually want to repel them.

Going Cold Gray Mush, is the best Narc DEET I’ve ever had the pleasure to use.  

It’s not easy. Or painless. But just remember that nothing will ever be worse than having your life run by a Sociopath. And ya. A good family therapist who’s educated in NPD, is a good idea too. 

Just so there are no surprises, here’s a small sample of what you can expect, when you replace the Steak and Lobster of Reaction and Emotion, with a bowl of Cold Gray Mush:

-They’ll Smear your reputation: by calling you crazy. Or Mentally ill. Or saying you’re on drugs, or dishonest, or a sex offender. Pretty much anything to tarnish you and your character. Let them. Like my 17 year old son always says. “If people believe the first, worst thing about us, then we don’t want them in our lives anyway”. One of the best byproducts of a first hand education in dealing with Noxious People? Wicked smart kids.

-They’ll Project: by accusing you of everything they themselves have done. Shaming other people, for the traits that they despise in themselves is Narc 101. Put up your Wonder Woman bracelets and deflect it right back. Then walk away, Badass and Free like the absolute Super Hero you are.

-They’ll Threaten: usually covert—and again—often targeting your family. “I sure hope your kids have fun while they’re away at camp. You know I’m very close with the director—and their counselor is my best friend’s son .” Don’t underestimate anything directed at your kids. Again. They love to hurt children, and a super effective, covert way of doing that, is by starting rumors about them, labeling them as “creepy” or “weird”, setting them up in lose/lose situations, or by manipulating their reactions and emotions. Even if it means missing something fun, keep your kids away until they’re fully educated, and know how read these situations well enough to avoid the traps and protect themselves. 

-They’ll send out the attack dogs: Spinning a sob story about how “mean”, “thankless” and “disrespectful” you’ve been. Anyone who believes them will call you, or text you, or email you to tell you how disappointed they are in your shocking behavior. Someone may even show up to your house, to pray the insanity, the demons, and the F-word out of your unforgiving Satan possessed heart. No matter who they are, don’t acknowledge or respond to a single one of them. If they’re defending a Super-Narc, they’re under the same ownership you once were–and the very worst thing you can do, is allow them to pull you back in.

-They’ll blast anything private you’ve shared, out into the Universe: And I do mean anything, from where you hide your box of naughty toys should you die in a fiery plane crash, to your weird crush on the blue Wiggle. I say beat them to it. Write your own blog and be shameless about what you share: Top shelf of my closet. On the left. And whatever. He was hot.

-Narcissistic RAGE: Ok, I’m not trying to be a jerk, but this one can be kind of funny. Especially once you’re free and they realize their power is gone. In a Narc’s mind, everything in the world revolves around them, so they still have this bizarre expectation, that their Past Possessions will serve them on command, no matter how much time has gone by. 

Awhile back, I ran into a Ghost of Super-Narc Past who I hadn’t seen in years. If you live in the same area, it’s eventually going to happen. I raised my hand in a base level of polite acknowledgement, and went about my day. It never occurred to me to talk, or interact, because at this point in my life, when it comes to Emotional Vampires, “Closed For Service” is the only sign hanging on my door.

The next thing I knew, she walked up behind me, grabbed my arm and I found myself staring into that narrow eyed, glittery “smile” that was typically used as a warning. Except it wasn’t a warning at all. Not to me at least.

In a Narc’s wet dream, I would have done one of two things: A.) Yanked my arm back yelling outraged obscenities, so she could accuse me of being “psycho”, or “abusive”, or both, B.) Snapped into my old role to serve her with awkward conversation, exaggerated reactions and an endless stream of information. 

I did neither.

I simply stared.

With zero expression until she dropped my arm in confusion and walked away. But it didn’t end there. Right as I as leaving the store, the Vesuvius of Narcissistic Rage finally blew as she came at me again—lips a-flapping, eyes-a-glitter, saying anything she could think of to force some kind of reaction. 

Which was nothing. Cold Gray Mush.

At this point, her rage was so out of control, she actually rammed me with her cart (which I have to say was probably an accident—but nonetheless—Shit Completely Lost.) The entire thing ended with her snarling her way out of the store, as she glared at me over her shoulder, yelling bizarre things about my husband.

Then I bought a Latte. The End.

The moral of the Cold Mush story? When the actors refuse the role, The Play Write becomes The Played, and is left to their drama all alone.  

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to the nice clean tooth lady, with the Super-Narc pounding at her door. Having a mouth full of steel and foam, I didn’t get to tell her everything I wanted to, although I did nod a lot, and say “Urh hur” as she picked and polished and told the same strange, twisted stories, that only someone who has been there would believe.

I know this post is long. It may be my longest one yet. So thanks to anyone who took the time to follow it all the way through. There’s so much more to tell than a single story can express. Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent most of my life on a chain, and I’m free for the first time ever, to finally tell the truth. I wish I could do it all now. Right this minute. Just scoop it up and fling it into the world like a turd being tossed from a litter box, in hopes that everything squishy, stinky and nasty, will transform into something else. Like hope. And healing. And validation. And encouragement. And the words “Me too!”, “You’re not alone!” and “I believe you!”.

The entire time I’ve been writing, a Henry Fielding quote has been running through my mind. “It is much easier to make good men wise, than to make bad men good”. At the end of the day, it isn’t our job to make Parasitic People “good”. Our job is to change ourselves. Because this kind of Darkness doesn’t just walk into our lives. Somewhere along the line, even if it’s on a unconscious level, we either accept it, encourage it, or invite it in. I know I did. With my arm held high waving a Christmas list of enabling behaviors, practically begging them to “Please pick me!”. As hard as that is to admit, I also know that the Road to Wisdom, can be long and winding, filled with Detours of Denial—and from here on out, the path I choose is straight and sure, paved with the Courage to Live in the Truth.




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.

Mostly Peace, Love and Light…….And a little F-You.

Every time there’s a big political event, our social media News Feeds fill up with fake news, ugly memes, and depending on who your friends are, flat out personal attacks, from people you thought were somewhat decent. Or at the very least, who had a base level of respect for highly regarded people–like say, a favorite High School Teacher–to not equate them to a “whore” for participating in a march; or call them a “cry baby” when they post their views; or tell them to stop their whining and “go make a sandwich”. Continue reading Mostly Peace, Love and Light…….And a little F-You.

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


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.