Writing for me, as of late, has been difficult. I’ve been trying to delve into more personal narratives… to write about my past and exorcise the demons that still mercilessly stalk its dark and cursed forests. I have found that memories from that time are like water-soaked wraiths, patiently waiting for me to call on them so that they can emerge from the shadows and drown me.
I start to write. I stop. I get angry. I delete the wretched words on the page. I start again… rinse and repeat.
Yesterday morning — while trying to write about my abusive relationship with my first husband (for the third day in a row) — I finally snapped. My mod decided to die in the middle of a particularly difficult passage, and I am desperately attached to it (as most of you know); and then Mitch got up and started his daily routine, and I lost what little concentration and focus I still had. I got up, put the laptop away, and curled up in our bed entirely despondent.
When Mitch realized I had left the living room, he tiptoed into the doorway of the master bedroom and said quietly, “Honey? Are you okay?”
“Do you wish to be left alone? Do I need to give you space?”
My ever-patient husband braved the walk across eggshells to my side of the bed and sat down. He reached his hand out slowly, and began to rub my calves (which always fucking hurt). He said, “Baby, I know you want to quit smoking; but with what you’re trying to accomplish in your writing right now, I don’t think it’s a good time. Why don’t you get up and take a shower? We’ll go see the boys, and we’ll get you a new mod.”
“I’m a fraud! You know that?!”
“What? Why would you say that?”
“I put on this pretty lil’ mask of feigned contentment every damn day. I claim to be sober, and yet I continue to smoke and to sometimes binge-eat. It’s ridiculous!”
Mitch stifled a melancholy laugh, “Honey, that doesn’t make you a fraud. It makes you human. And considering the shit you used to do, food and cigarettes are a blessing in the pantheon of your addictions. I’m proud of all you have been able to give up; and you should be too.”
I snorted derisively.
“What’s really going on? Something triggered you, and we need to talk about it.”
I sighed and rolled over on my back, “Why is it that when I attempt to write about the monsters from the past, I feel as if they still have power over me? It’s like… it’s like… fuck, I don’t know what it’s like.”
“Try again. Take a deep breath, and try again to tell me what it’s like.”
“It’s like if I write about them, I’m giving them power. Admitting that they still have a hold on me.”
Mitchell grew still, deep in thought. After a long pause, he said, “No. No, I don’t think so. I think that you have to write about them to let them go.”
“Then why do I feel haunted every time I attempt to get it all out on paper? Why can I feel the bastards breathing down my neck?”
“Because those memories are steeped in trauma. That trauma makes them vivid, yes… but they’re still only memories. The important thing to remember is that you have already survived them. You have already won, because you’re still here; and you’re one of the strongest people I know. Most folks wouldn’t have been able to endure half of the shit you have. What were you trying to write about this morning?”
“The day that bastard held a pillow over my baby’s face….” and that was it. I began to sob uncontrollably. Between fits and starts, I yelled, “What kind of a mother stays with a man that has that kind of evil potential?!”
Mitch climbed into bed beside me, and held me close. “You didn’t stay with him. You left him because of that moment; and because of that decision, you and Bug are both still here.”
“But I left my baby with my parents, after that! I fucking left him! Who does that?!”
“Someone who’s young and struggling with the fall-out from abuse. Someone who doesn’t want to subject their child to the instability of active addiction. And more importantly, you went back for him.”
I called for Tocho, and he came bounding onto the bed. I cried and cried into his fur, while Mitchell rubbed my back and whispered over and over, “It’s okay. Let it out. Just let it all out.”
When I had wrung myself dry of tears, Mitch said, “Honey, you were a better mother than you had any right to be. Bug is an incredible young man, and he loves you. And you love him. He always comes to you when he needs help, and you have never turned him away. The way you two can laugh together? The way you forgive and forget his mistakes; and he yours? You’re both pretty damn amazing.”
In the quiet following that moment, I almost felt like my husband could be right.
He tapped me on the fanny, and said, “Come on. Get up. Take a shower, and let’s get moving. We’re gon’na get a new mod!”
So we did. We got a new mod, and had brunch at the local Denny’s. Then we came home and watched funny movies all night.
I thought I might try and write about my past again this morning; but it’s too close to be far enough away right now, and I have to acknowledge that. Instead, I choose (for now) to write about the life that is right in front of me… the wraiths will continue to wait, and the words needed to destroy them will come in time.