Inside The Picture

Sitting on a porch swing
at her country home
I never saw a face
that looked so all alone.
She gazes into space
her eyes are far away
I wonder where she is
she isn’t in today.
I see a little girl
in the woman’s eyes
a hurt and lonely child
I hear her softly cry.
The pain of dreams now lost
the scars that still remain
when I look at her picture
all I can see is pain.
She captures my heart
I want to hold her tight
I run to save the woman
the girl hides in fright.
The girl plagues the present
with all her musty fears
if I could console the girl
I’d end the woman’s tears.

by Jeanne Marie, 1986

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Does It End October 31?

My first question was, why not everyday? Several women (angrily) asked me that same question when I posted or re-blogged articles related to domestic violence, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse. Well, I told them that I wondered that too, and that I didn’t name the dedication, I was just trying to honor the victims and the survivors because I come from that country and I am fluent in that language.
The question I have asked myself repeatedly this month is this: What does national awareness do for the victims? Does it change the abuser’s mind? Does he (or she) say, “Damn it! I’m not going to swear and scream at you until National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is over, you lucky bitch!”
Does he pay the bills, buy some food, keep his hands off his daughter because it’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Will the family have a month of peace? Will her neighbor buy ice for her black eye?
The abusers and the victims are all too aware of what domestic violence is and the people who don’t acknowledge it all year long because it’s easier to look away, well they don’t give a flying fig that this month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month either.
The women who go to shelters expecting to find a way out, expecting someone to teach them how to stand on their own two feet, hoping for training so that they can get a job that will support them and their kids in the future, what do they think about National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
How about asking the ones who returned home because the shelter was lacking in anything but a whole new set of rules, a bed and some used clothes.
The shelters where women in my family have gone provided a time out, nothing more. If you run a shelter that provides therapy, job training, education, legal representation and daycare, I apologize and I’d also like your hot line phone number.
I will post articles about abuse in October anyway, hoping that even one woman might find the courage to grab her babies and run for safety.
I have read the survivor’s stories and I have read the  “he killed her” stories.
I have a “he killed her” story. I had a cousin who was murdered in front of her young son, while living in a shelter.
I cry and I hold every victim’s and every survivor’s story that I have ever read or witnessed in my heart. Including my own.
Victims and abusers, survivors and inflictors, well, to them every month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. They just don’t talk about it.
So as this official National Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins, I feel helpless. I have no answers, no help for the millions who will go to bed hungry, crying and/or bruised tonight. For those who will sleep in their cars because it is safer than their home or because they have no home and friends and family are sick of helping them only to see them go back to the abuser.
I have tears, but Lord knows, they already have enough tears of their own.
Maybe we could make everyday Domestic Violence Awareness Day.

WWTTMFinalFinalcover copy

Cry until you laugh…Women Who Think Too Much by Jeanne Marie
A No Help At All Handbook


by Jeanne Marie

We choose a corner table in the cozy country restaurant, two grown women, yet…I feel that we are playing dress-up. Pangs of guilt and anxiety needle me. I had to sneak away from Mom to steal this time with my sister. She looks as guilty as I do.

My sister and I are two pieces of a puzzle, day and night, the sun and the moon. We complete each other. Years of clinging together through the dark nights, years of my father’s rage, my mother’s silence, dysfunctional machinery that welded ropes of love, hope and faith that even we have not been able to destroy.

It doesn’t matter how long we’re apart; we begin our conversation where we ended on my last visit, as if no time had passed. Once, after a serious argument, we didn’t speak for three years and still; when we made up, it was the same way.

We talk about how we are workaholics, always working for (or loving) men who try to control, use, abuse, manipulate, annihilate and dominate. She tells me that at least I always fight back and stand up for myself. It’s true.

However, we agree that I accept the abuse too. I just make a lot of noise and end up quitting or running away. I’ve never resolved the situations. My life is paved with unresolved relationships.

I talk about starting my hypnotherapy to quit smoking and how when I am under, I always end up in deep, murky moats, smoky castles with walls built from bricks of terror and abandonment. I tell her that they dumped a baby out of a shopping cart into the smoke and her eyes open wide. I didn’t know if it was Sue Sue or me in that carriage. It felt like we were the same baby. I start to cry and light another cigarette. Two years of therapy and I’m still smoking.

“I’m almost fifty and I don’t want to deal with my childhood anymore, I just want to be okay. I just want to quit smoking.” I tell her. Tears fill her eyes.

We order breakfast and settle in with our coffee, letting it soothe us as I light another cigarette.

We need to talk about Mom, the reason I’m home this time. Our oldest sister has already agreed to take responsibility for Mom when the time comes. I’d always planned to be the one, but find now that the time is near, I’m not able to take care of my own needs, let alone imagine caring for anyone else.

“Is she still able to take care of herself?” I ask Susanne. “Keep track of her medicines and her doctor’s appointments? She has cried wolf so many times that I don’t know if she is honestly too confused to function on her own, and even though I just spent a week with her, I still can’t tell. Isn’t that crazy?”

“Alice in Wonderland,” says my sister. “Alice in Wonderland. I have been Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party my entire life. Nothing is ever what it seems.”

She talks about the falseness of our “loving, nurturing mother.” A mother who nearly destroyed her by trying to be the man in her life, her father, her husband, her daughter’s father.

I cringe as she talks, remembering my sister trapped, pregnant, the husband to-be my mother drove away, how I helped my sister work and escape when she turned eighteen. How she ran away into a world crazier than the one she left behind and preferred it still.

“Do you remember when dad was ranting and raving and he used to tell us that someday we’d find out that Mom was the reason he was crazy? Well, he was so right. My life has been nothing but a Mad Hatter’s tea party.”

She has mentioned Alice a lot these past few days. It has been years since I heard about Alice, so I know there is something she needs to say.

“Don’t you know?” she demands. “Don’t you know that Mom is your father figure? The dominating male figure in your life? How could you go through years of therapy and never figure out that your inability to deal with men is her fault?”

I know by the frustration in her voice, that she has wanted to tell me this for a very long time. I start to cry. Her words cause my stomach to flop over, my heart pounds with panic.

My gut knows that she is right. I just can’t believe that I have never seen it for myself. If my sister is Alice, I must be Sleeping Beauty.

“With all the therapy you’ve been in, haven’t you ever focused on Mom?” she shouts.

“No. I didn’t. I knew what she had done to you, how she controlled you and kept you a prisoner with Danielle ‘till you were eighteen, but she never wanted me. I was always the one that could handle her. Now I can’t handle her anymore and I realize that when I thought I could, it was only an illusion, I never had control. It was all just part of the game. She controls me too.”

My voice is soft and teary. Her voice is shrill and full of angry emotion. Her pain is the lighter fluid that sparks our conversation.

She cries out, “I can’t handle being around Mom. When I’m around her, I start to pull all of my eyelashes out again.”

I am startled, shocked by the degree of my sister’s torment. Yet, as she speaks the words, she is touching her eyelids in a familiar way. I have seen her do it a million times. How could I have ever thought that she had mascara in her eyes so often?

She continues, her voice taut with pain. “Mom is not normal. She hates everything about babies and childbirth. She hates kids. She is so sick. You know how I eat so fast? Well, one day when we were eating she said, ‘Watch me eat. Watch how I chew each bite slowly. Eat like this. Watch me. This is how you eat your food. Look at me.’ It was awful.”

“When you were little?” I ask.

“No! I was forty-one years old!”

We sit surrounded by elderly couples who pretend not to listen as we talk about our mother, our childhood.

Do they wonder if their own children sit in crowded restaurants exposing family secrets?

I feel as if I should shush my sister because the details that are pouring from her mouth are dirty and tattered, personal, best left to a therapist’s couch.

Her passionate grief, the shrill horror in her voice, the way she touches her eyelashes as she speaks, all these things freeze my words.

I decide that she is the only person in this room that I need to be concerned about.

“Why can’t you see the way that she has damaged you too, why do you think you never feel good enough? You had the same mother as me! You suffered the same things that I did. Do you think you escaped her mind games, her torture? Nothing was ever good enough for her; we were never enough for her. That is why you can’t deal with the men in your life, the same as me.”

My blind eyes are wide open now.

“We are so strong to have even survived, don’t you know that? We are both miracles. We are both so special, so gifted and she has not been able to destroy that in us. We are survivors.”

As we stand, we hold onto to each other for a long moment before we walk away with our heads held high. You can almost hear the people in the room let out a collective sigh of relief.

“Do you think we should have charged admission?” I ask her.

She laughs as she says, “Ya, cause then we could have used a microphone and sat in front of the fireplace.”

Ironic. When Dad was screaming, we used to hide in the old, unused fireplace in our bedroom.

I am grieving the loss of my sister even as we drive away from the restaurant together because I’ve learned that each time I leave her and fly home to Oklahoma, she will wipe me from her heart, erase me from her mind and that I won’t exist until I walk back in her door. I have to accept that it is the only way she can deal with her pain and her anger when I leave her.

Sadly, I know that one day I will knock on her door and she will not open it. She will erase me along with her past, leaving me behind as she runs away to another Mad Hatter’s tea party, an insane event that makes much more sense than her reality.

My baby sister Alice and me, Sleeping Beauty.


blogblue6 (2)

blog3 (2)

Imagine a world
where the flowers are blue
the sky is Cinderella pink
and your heart is brand new.
Heart never been broken
never kicked to the ground
a home built on rainbows…
awesome flowers surround.
Tears are never shed and
willow trees do not weep
when you close your eyes…
your soul He does keep.
Imagine a world
minus cursing and screams
imagine a world
where kindness beats mean.
Rose colored angels
waltz through your dreams
while dainty butterflies dance
on clouds of whipped cream.

blogblue1 blogblue5

Words & Pictures: Jeanne Marie, 2014

Daddy’s Bottomless Black Pit

Daddy’s Bottomless Black Pit
Clean my face, wipe dripping tears of blood that come from deep within. Born black and blue and forced to pay for my daddy’s kin. He was raped and abused, treated like a piece of shit. Little baby girl born to that unhealed victim, I had no place to grow, to learn or to run. So, I lived beneath the ground cradled ungently, in my Daddy’s arms, no place I fit…except deep down inside my Daddy’s bottomless, black pit.

Sometimes At Night…


The scars of abuse, any abuse, are permanent. Like a tattoo, they may fade with time, but they will always be there, just under your skin.


Sometimes as I drift off to sleep, my mind wanders back in time and I’m a little child again. The last conscious thought I discern is my voice calling, “Mom? Mom?” She doesn’t answer now, just as she didn’t answer back then.

In reality, I’m fifty-five years old, but as I fall asleep I lose track of time and I feel eight or nine. Terrified. Alone. A jolt of fear runs through my veins and I struggle to pull back from the drifting darkness of sleep where I’m trapped, helpless and afraid.

Losing the battle, I fall off the edge of awareness, tumbling through sleep’s doorway. The faces I see are familiar, but I fight the memories. I can’t bear to see what my subconscious wants to show me and the little girl inside of me is so afraid. I run from the illusion, crying, sobbing my heart out.

It seems to last forever, but as I open my eyes, I see the fluorescent numbers on my alarm clock. It’s been less than an hour since I fell asleep. I sit up in my bed, shaking, still afraid. My husband lies sleeping beside me, but I don’t wake him. Many nights, I have screamed until my commotion has awakened me and he has slept on, unaware. I don’t know how. I’d awaken him if he could comfort me, but he can’t.

Going out to the living room, wrapped in his bathrobe, I get my Marlboros, and make a pot of coffee. Then, I sit in the dark; my eyes squeezed shut, trying to stop the tears from leaking down my face. The aching for my mother is so strong that I actually pick up the phone to call her. Hesitating, I don’t dial the number. Holding the receiver in my hand, reality comes back and I hang up the phone.

My mother can’t bear my pain because she carries enough of her own. I don’t hold it against her; but, I’m so alone. All I want is for my mother to help me to feel safe. I’m vulnerable as a small child and that child doesn’t feel safe. My mother’s hugs and reassurances didn’t make the fear stop when I was a little girl; maybe that’s why I long for her to console me now. “Okay Mom, let’s agree to do it over and we’ll make it come out right this time!”

I’ll call her tomorrow and barely touch upon my fears, my need last night to hear her voice. I’ll hear the discomfort behind her words and I’ll change the subject. I don’t want to hurt her and she still can’t save me. The answer beats in my heart and on a conscious level, I know that. I’ve been blessed with that knowledge in my recovery from alcoholism, which also helps me to understand my father’s alcoholic rages, my mother’s co-dependency. Still, sometimes at night, I get lost in my past, tangled up in my nightmares.

My dad was so scary, ranting and raving until dawn, screaming that he hated us and threatening to kill us all. I would hide under the covers holding my baby sister, planning how I’d protect her if he came into our room. I wanted to kill him before he could kill us. Sometimes at night, he’d come into our bedroom and just stand there beside our bed with a hunting rifle in his hands.

I was powerless, unable to even breathe, frozen with fear. He never pulled the trigger, but a part of my childhood innocence died each time that he stood there. As he’d leave the room, I’d wet the bed and begin to breathe again. No tears. Just fear and anger. I was so angry that he was my dad.

As he stood over our bed late one New Year’s Eve, I thought that he was Father Time or maybe Death. He robbed me of my childhood with his alcoholic madness. He stole years of precious time. I couldn’t even go to school, because I was afraid to leave him alone with my mother. I needed to be there to protect her. Of course, I can see now that I never could’ve protected her or my sister. However, I’d have tried.

Although I hated him, I still tried to earn his love because he was my dad. The only note he ever wrote me is saved, treasured, because he signed it, “love, Dad.” I remember that he showered me with attention when I was a very young child, but he’d pulled away by the time I was about five. I didn’t understand and it hurt. I always figured that I’d done something wrong. I didn’t know that it was because of his own fears and childhood abuse or that he loved me the best way he knew how to, by leaving me alone.

The men in my life have all been angry and it used to feel comfortable, familiar. I tried to earn their love too. If only I could be pretty enough, if I could just be a perfect wife. I’m growing past that now, but it isn’t easy. My roots go deep. I still want to be loved, sometimes at any cost.

At times, I believe I’m a grown woman, but too often I react like a lost child. Sometimes after a nightmare, I hide in a corner of my dark living room and try to ease the fear. I curl up into a ball, crying, and rocking and I say, “It’s over, it’s over, he’s gone. You’re safe now.” The fear is so real at night because I regress back to childhood as I sleep and I become absolutely defenseless.

Years of recovery programs and therapy have helped. I don’t accept abuse from anyone (when I recognize it) and I can function out in the real world. Today, I can hold a job and for years I couldn’t even do that because of my anxiety. I’m developing self-worth and gaining self-respect.

Writing down my thoughts and feelings during these difficult nights seems to help me. I’ve written some of my best poems at dawn. My husband tries to understand, but he really doesn’t. Maybe that’s because he’s not afraid. I wrote lyrics about that thought and he set them to music for me. The song starts like this:

She’s looking through a window

That time forgot to close,

She’s staring at some memories

Full of pain she never chose.

My poetry is like therapy because the words help me to understand and organize these haunting memories. Each time I write I sense the past letting go, I see the pain being processed and the old wounds being healed. Still, sometimes at night, I’m so disoriented, a lost, little girl, trapped in a woman’s body.

I’m recovering on a daily basis, from alcoholism, co-dependency, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, Adult Child of Alcoholic issues, depression and anxiety. I’ve spent a fortune on therapy and with all my “program” have managed to raise my children in a dysfunctional home, while I was sober. I started chain-smoking when I’d been sober ten and a half years. I also drank one night that year and then tried to kill myself in front of my children. There were many reasons that I was brought to my knees. It happened mainly because I wasn’t taking care of myself and I let an excruciatingly painful situation overwhelm me.

I was very close to my A. A. sponsor at the time and attending my home groups faithfully. Nevertheless, I could not see the hope or the love, all I could see was my pain and the pain my decisions had brought to my children. I lost sight of everything that I’d learned when I let my pain become the only emotion that was real.

My Higher Power saved my life that night and He set me back on my feet. He used that experience to teach me and to strengthen my foundation. He helped me to move on. I learned about co-dependency then, my need to be a caretaker, my urge to save and my obsession to maintain control, control I never owned.

I’ve changed in many ways, during my last thirty odd years of sobriety. Some people like it and some don’t. I like caring about me and letting my loved ones make their own choices. I cannot save the world and it feels good to let go when I’m able. I don’t have to try to save anyone but myself. The hardest piece of recovery for me to grasp has been finding the willingness to face reality and to deal with life as it happens. Also, I need to learn to accept that life is not always fair and that not all my mistakes will be forgiven on this earth.

I look back and wonder how I ever came so far and then I understand. My Higher Power has led me and every day He continues to love and to guide me. When I was at my lowest point and couldn’t even love myself, He loved me. When I screamed at life and scorned my sobriety, when I turned my back on him, He loved me. The nightmares are rare now and my Higher Power never lets me go; still, sometimes at night…