But, she’s not most people material.
But, she’s not most people material.
My sisters and I, we like to love Mad Men. Seriously.
We are Crazy Women.
The Mad Men we love are always mad at the world and we spend way too much valuable time trying to make them calm and happy…
We are old-fashioned, cooking and cleaning while working full-time, loving our man all night, kinda women.
It doesn’t help very much.
Turns out Mad Men don’t want the all night loving after they get you. They are too busy being Mad at you.
But Mad Men don’t always tell you when they’re Mad…they just make you pay in a million little ways and then tell you it’s your fault.
Can you say Gaslight?
The Mad Men think everything revolves around them and I’m being brutally honest here, Crazy Women agree.
Splitting up is as common as Full Moons in our homes.
We certainly know how to leave, we just don’t know how to stay gone, so reuniting is also on our agendas just as often.
Fight. Cry. Talk. Don’t talk. Pack. Leave. Talk every night for hours. Agree on a fresh start. Pack up. Go home. Unpack. Pack. Leave.
We put up with a bunch of bullshit, but luckily the Mad Men are all different, so our phone calls and visits never get boring.
We got rid of the Mad Men who hit many years ago. I give us credit for that.
However, there are thousands of ways to hurt another human being without hitting them.
We watched our mom maneuver this same road with our dad, a truly certifiable Mad Man, and we vowed that we’d never marry a man like him.
But we did.
We are not weak women.
We are strong, intelligent, creative, loving, caring, beautiful women.
But once we fall in love, we give of ourselves until we break and we do not accept defeat gracefully.
My dad begged my mom to leave him before he killed her in a drunken stupor, which he was working on every night, the killing and the stupor.
He would try to wrap the phone cord around her neck and strangle her while my twelve-year-old sister sat on Mom’s lap and stopped him.
My mother’s most famous words were, “Go to bed. your father is not going to kill (or hurt) anyone tonight.”
Our strongest model of reality and she told us we were safe when we were not safe.
Dad even stood over our beds with his hunting rifle now and then. Pondering killing us.
Reality has been confusing for us, at best.
As young girls, we all had a turn sleeping in front of Mom’s bedroom door trying to listen under the crack to see if she was still breathing.
If dad got quiet, she would say, “Go to bed, Ray.”
You would have thought she’d stuck a hot poker in his side because those words would spur the Mad Man on for another hour.
When I write it down and then read it back, it sounds insane and it was, but that was how we lived.
My dad would rant and rave until the sun came up and then we would all try to go to school and my mom would go to work…
It wasn’t hard to find a better man than my father, but I know for myself it took me a long time to realize that on a core level, I was recreating the dynamics of my childhood home and trying to make it come out right.
Four divorces between us, one of us married the same Mad Man twice, not naming any names, baby sister. I would have married mine twice too, but I never got brave enough to divorce him.
I did leave my Mad Man five times, six if you count spending a few nights (alone) crying in a motel. I think that counts.
Serious enough about not going back to buy my own place to live, twice.
I’m in the second place I bought right now, packing to go back home, again.
My sisters and I, we like to love Mad Men. Seriously.
We are Crazy Women.
I have the beginning stages of Fuhgedia or as its also called on the street, Fuhgeddaboudit.
It’s a very peculiar illness and quite common in codependent women.
We go through life blocking out our daily experiences and feelings so well that we start to fuhged who we are and what we are doing, who you are and if you are related to us.
We don’t remember who we were before someone told us who we needed to be, what the desires of our heart really are and how we would like to wear our hair.
So you might have to tell me things more than once…things like the day my newest great-grand baby is due, your birthday, my birthday, what day of the week it is…stuff like that.
Otherwise, I’ll just fuhged about it.
Jeanne Marie, 2016
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.
Cry until you laugh…Women Who Think Too Much by Jeanne Marie
A No Help At All Handbook
one rose strong against the wind
you think you stand alone
but you are surrounded
by other generations
in every stage of bloom.
they stand with you till
their luscious petals drop
to the ground along the way
together in the garden
alone on your stem
your thorns attempt
to keep the pickers away
life prunes and trims
until you feel
as if you are gone
but that isn’t so
every leaf grown
from your limbs
reaches for the sky
they keep your blooms alive
so bloom for them my rose
and thus your sweetness
continues to live on and on
and you will never die.
Okay, I have been taking flak from my family all winter because I live in Florida… Well, it’s time to set the record straight.
Yes, I live in the only warm, perfect little piece of the United States.
Yes, I have year-round sunshine, plenty of rain for my flowers and just a few cool nights when all the plants have to come in the house.
Yes, I have a yard full of tropical flowers that are gorgeous and there are no gardening limits beyond my imagination.
Yes, we have flowering hibiscus trees in every color. Yes, the blooms are as big as a salad plate.
Yes, I have a pool that now has a solar heater so I that I can swim year-round because I am NOT getting into 60 degree water!
Never mind that I swam in the ocean in New Hampshire with water that had permanent icicles for thirty-six years.
Never mind that my sister and I once streaked naked through that ocean in November. My body has changed and it does not like cold.
Still, I would stand beside you all, stand right by your snow drifts with you, if I could.
With all that said, let me tell you what I have been through this winter.
I have been snowed-out while you are all complaining about being snowed-in. I have been kept out. I have been kept out of Maine, New Hampshire and Oklahoma. I have been stopped from visiting my sisters and their families, my son and his wife and their new baby, my brother, my granddaughter and her baby boy, my newly found niece and my daughter.
I have been trapped in this sunshine and it hurts and I don’t want to hear no more hoo-haa about living in the land of sunshine while you are a living in the land of six-foot snow banks and having to put your kids out in the parking spaces with cones on their heads to save your parking spaces after you shovel.
No, I don’t have to shovel but I have to sit here and miss everybody and I am snowed-out.
You know, we have problems here in Florida too. We are expecting a cold front tomorrow, record lows in the 70’s.
So, the next someone says squat when I post my pictures of flowers glowing in the sunshine, they are going to get a smack upside the head because I miss you, my family and I am snowed-out.
It’s not my fault. I tried to move back to New England. I sold my house. I put a contract on a house in Laconia, NH. Both deals fell through. I would have been moving January 31st, just in time for the first big snow storm, but God said, “No, you just stay right where you are little Missy,” and that’s the way it happened…
Family, I love you, I miss you and I would love to be snowed in with you instead of being snowed out, I promise.
So please shut up.
Ten Questions About Blank Spaces
1. Love it?
2. Hate it?
3.A Totally been there?
3.B If so, hope to fill another Blank Space soon?
4. Done some of that?
5. Woke up in restraints with no memory of the night before?
6. Not admitting anything because you’re still on probation?
7. Married him?
8. Had his children?
9. OMG! None of the above?
10. OMG! All of the above?
you might see a pink and blue hibiscus
and you can rest under a lavender tree.
Purple lace drapes the branches above
as you stroll through the violets and lilacs
happy forever, dancing in a forest to love.
Imagine a forest where the colors run free
where the rain drips pink marshmallows
and Swiss Hot Chocolate always is free.
A little house you could call your own
with thousands of books waiting to be read
and never, ever, the sound of a ringing cell phone.
In the last 30 years as hair dyes have become available to the nonprofessionals, we’ve learned to color or bleach our own hair. In the first stages it seems so innocent. We can go to the drugstore or Wal-mart and select just about any color we like! It started simply enough for me. I was fourteen with drab, brown hair and I wanted to jazz up my hair a little. So, I bought a package of Flaming Red dye. When I un-capped the bottle and got my first whiff of peroxide, I was hooked.
The fun didn’t stop there! I tried every shade of red, before my addiction progressed to blonde. As a teenager, the reds seemed to satisfy my thirst for color. However, as I hit my twenties, I began to roam the streets searching for a beauty operator who would bleach my hair blonde. I begged and I pleaded. I told them, “I know you can do it!” Hairdressers just turned me away. They told me to go home and accept that my hair was dark brown and could never be lightened to blonde. I didn’t believe any of them.
Well, that’s when the real heartaches began. I decided to lighten it myself. I progressed from tints and dyes to the hard stuff. That’s right. Bleach. It nearly broke my mother’s heart. “Jeanne,” she’d say, “I gave you your natural hair color and it’s so pretty. Why do you abuse your hair with those harsh bleaches?” I would hang my head, unable to answer. I will never forget my first attempt to use bleach. It was such a disaster. Oh, my hair turned blonde, all right. Very blonde! However, it was scattered all over the floor. As I looked at the hair on the floor, I cried. Most people would learn from an experience like that. I, on the other hand, did not. My compulsion to be fair-haired ruled my life. My husband began to plead with me, “Jeanne, please don’t burn your hair again!” He didn’t understand that I just couldn’t stop using.
My obsession has led me down some multicolored roads. I’ve turned my hair green twice and melted it to cotton-candy texture more than once. Occasionally, I’d go back to my natural color. I wanted to see if I could dry out, go cold turkey. It never lasted long. I’d go into a blackout and suddenly come to, walking out of a beauty supply store, a brown bag in my hand. I wouldn’t even remember driving there! I spent the grocery money on bleach; I spent the bill money on conditioners and shampoos that promised to repair the damage I’d done. I knew my habit was out of control.
Frantically, I searched the phone book for Hair Dyer’s Anonymous. Surely, I couldn’t be the only person hooked on hair dye? There wasn’t a group listed, and without help, my illness progressed. I found a new chemical–permanent wave solution.
I began by having hairdressers give me my perms because I thought I could control my new habit that way. It didn’t work. I went back for more, over and over. After the cosmetologist would look at my hair and pronounce it healthy enough to handle a perm, I’d climb into her chair. As the black, plastic cape went around my shoulders, I would shiver with sweet anticipation. The odor of the perm solution would send a warm flush through my veins, comparable to a shot of Jack Daniels. Sitting in her chair praying for a miracle, somehow I knew–she would burn my hair. Still, I couldn’t stop asking to be permed, and since I had money, the hairdressers never turned me away without my fix.
I guess you want to know where I stand with this hair-threatening addiction now. I wish I could say I’ve been cured. The truth is, I don’t want to give the stuff up. I want to keep my blonde hair. My grandsons wouldn’t recognize me with brown hair. Friends would pass me on the street, no recognition in their eyes. But with age comes wisdom and so as I enter my 40’s, I limit my use of hair dye. It’s strictly for medicinal purposes. I would need to be medicated, if I had to look at those streaks of silver!
Deep inside my brain, this illness waits, not cured, simply in remission. I tremble as I walk through the mall; my husband pulls me past the delightful aromas that emerge from the open doorway of J.C. Penney’s styling salon. Just for today, I won’t go in. I won’t ask to be permed and I won’t ask to be bleached–just for today.
by Jeanne Marie
P.S. I wrote this story 20 years ago. Today, at age 61, as my hair thins…I am thrilled to have gray hair or any hair!
She wearily stumbles on past
Blinded as survival fogs her path.
Her broken soul aching to reach
Beyond this endless haze,
Desperate to free
What she can no longer see.
Burning with pain
Her aimless arms reaching,
Pulling together strength enough
For one last try.
Fear takes over, for at last
She has felt beyond her gaze,
Fallen into a piece of past.
Even as a small hand clings to her own
Ever so quickly fear becomes shame
As the soft little hand slips from her hold,
Letting smoke turn to roaring flame, and
Still, the shadowed room remains so cold.
As her worn body falls
With unexpected relief
She gives in to the memory
Lies down with the unconquered grief.
One last tear streaks her face
As a terrible blackness drags
Her broken soul to another time,
Another place. A woman-child,
An abusive man, three years dead
Who lives on in nightmares,
That dance through their heads
A little boy, his crying face,
Another time, another place.
Jodie Lynne, 1994
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.
Loved you until I was drained, empty
nothing left of the love as I recall,
refuse to lose my mind, so it is over
bruised brain won’t survive another fall.
Driven quite mad, aching for your touch
spirit crushed by your negative weight
splintering my weakened, damaged bones.
Set free? Set free? Shit, it is too late.
Too late to be an innocent little girl
too late to chase the passions of 17
too late to write that frigging book
but all my floors are sparkling clean.
My womb has left, cut from my body
so, too late to be a better mother
loved ones from my hands I dropped
always ran, hid beneath the covers.
Some other day, some other love
some other life, any but my own
thought I had time to find happy
old came first, please leave me alone.
Hopes shattered and then returned
laid to bleed in my hollow heart
the doors I had no will to open
never found the strength to depart.
Windows I painted closed, proud…
I held my ground…I took a stand
never seeing what would be forfeited
manipulations, I did not understand.
Never added up the sinister expense
of investing in a love already lost
relying on vows of a better tomorrow
never analyzed the enormous cost.
Driven by deceits, the knife sliced deep
guided by the sharp edges of yesterday
writing a check for the lies I believed
emptied the piggy bank, how will I pay?
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 AT NIGHT…
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…