To shelter you in true security, to laugh with you at funny things, to cover you when you fall asleep, to comfort you when you’re in need, encourage you to do the right thing, push you ahead when you’re faltering, keep you tucked away in secrecy, wrap you inside warmth for eternity, to take you places that you like to be, show you a world free from captivity, to emphasize your own worth individually, to make you understand all of this, finally, to demonstrate the big picture clearly, to express with a most thorough accuracy, hold you close to the broken heart in me, until the day that the thing refuses to beat, to let you know of the alternate way it could be, in the place where you have abandoned me, to sit you down and show you the hard reality, the line drawn in the dirt that will kill us both, eventually.
I’ve written in the past of my professionally given label of “a medical anomaly” when it comes to my physiology/immunology/genetics. This handle was given to me via a Stanford University medical conference luncheon, in which one of my former doctors highlighted my case in his widely received presentation on ‘reconstructive maxiofacial tissue surgery and uncommon obstacles’. Since that moment in time, most, if not all, of my loosely interwoven healthcare team have adopted the name for my reference. In fact, the nickname seems to be a kind of industry-driven joke from which all humor is lost on me, completely…but what the fuck do I know?
But, I digress.
One of the elements rendering me as such is something known as “Raynaud’s Phenomenon” – a multitude of micro-vascular spasms occurring simultaneously in the digits (and the nose for some people, as well –though I am not one of those thank the Gods…) affecting gangrene and, oftentimes, the loss of one or more dead fingers or toes. You’ll note the word “phenomenon” in the title of the ailment that I foster; this is because there are TWO forms of this thing: one, the most common type, being called “Raynaud’s Disease”, is a chronic and life-altering disease that appears in exceptionally cold environments and/or in the users of regular operation of machinery such as… let’s say – a jackhammer, or the likes. Some doctors even say that this condition is exacerbated by “stress” (in which case, I’m fucked!!!).
I am a beach bum in California with no prior jackhammer experience; so when I was first (and finally, after many initial months of painfully spreading gangrene in all ten of my shriveled toes) diagnosed in 2003, I was defined as having the more difficult type of the ailment known as a “phenomenon”, based solely on the elusive cause and randomly occurring symptoms. The archaic doctor who was on call at the ER where I was FINALLY properly diagnosed and treated called every physician and support staff into the pocket room where I sat with bare feet on an exam table and said to the group of about twenty young med-school graduates,
“This is something you may never see again, so I want to make sure to share this…this Raynaud’s phenomenon; do you all see the skin blanching that happens when the tissue is prompted?”
He pinched and prodded my raisin-esque toes to reveal an odd renewal of color immediately beneath my skin there: they began to oddly shift from black – to dark blue – to a deep, angry red – to a yellowing, white-ish color wherever they were pressed.
“Oooooh ahhhhh.” the young students all cooed.
Very riveting; just give me some pills so my toes don’t fall off, please. Anyway, thankfully the old quack knew his shit and I was finally given the gift of balance and mobility back – not to mention, I was able to keep every toe in its original form.
I have been stricken three times by this “phenomenon” thus far in life; the second time was upon my landing at the Oahu International Airport on the most recent real vacation I took in 2005. The key is in Angina treatment, typically a vasodilator to thin the blood and break up the tiny spasms so far away from my heart. I am currently to the point not being to balance myself or walk normally due to loss of feeling in my feet, especially the right one. My toes have already shriveled quite totally and are shedding entire layers of epidermis as a snake sheds scales – fully intact toe-sized chunks that are being held to my feet with bandages and lots of salve. Warmth only creates a swelling that becomes so uncomfortably shiny and plump that heat offers no help at this point, either. I finally sucked it up and went back to get a script for some good ol’ Nifedipin.
…And, while I shuffled myself down an endless corridor to the pharmacy hidden in a basement of the hospital in the middle of the night – last night – guess who I spied in a bed, unconscious from an attempted suicide by means of drug overdose?
You called it; there was the one and only Boo, my only child.
I dreamed again last night
of your younger life
of visions I saw
when things were alright
when the future ahead
was laid out, bathed in light
and the time hadn’t yet come
to hold my own defeat tight
I dreamed of open ended places
where anything stood possible
in its own living right
I dreamed again of nothing
but bathing you in sunlight
and opening the doors
that you’ve kept closed in life
I dreamed again of motherhood
in a victorious bond held high
I dreamed of never knowing you
as you’ve come to slice my pride
I dreamed again of rescuing you
from the darkness where you reside
and redressing wounds, unhealed
wiping blood from those beautiful eyes
I dreamed again of your newborn face
and all the promise inside if your smile
I awoke on fire and screaming aloud
a visit from my long-lost child.
I’ve been going to bed earlier and waking up later…I have somehow allowed myself to detach again…I couldn’t tell you how such a thing is even possible, considering everything that has happened and likely continues to happen in the world from which I have detached…but I have, and it is.
My feelings are not hurting now, not in the slightest; my senses are as far from sharpened or honed as is humanly possible; my thoughts are grey and soggy; my heartbeat exists quietly in the background noise of everything; my memories seemingly evaporating with slow certainty.
But I’ve been here before, it’s not some recovery set out at the edge of the woods; it’s not the end or the beginning of anything else; it’s just how I get through the unbelievable, it’s how I bear the unbearable, and it’s the only thing I know how to embrace without fear anymore.
All that is happening now does, indeed, go back to the incident in Arizona. The surgeries that she has already undergone and recovered from have each been in attempt to separate scar tissue that has grown around Boo’s trachea from being cinched by a belt for nearly two days; also – her inability to speak has finally been de-mystified as well. The same thing is happening at the base of her vocal chords, as a result of scar tissue build-up, only the vocal cords have been permanently affected by residues left from the chemicals that Boo had been forced to drink during her captivity. The doctors have done what they can without sending her to a specialist for what is considered as “delicate surgery”; the next step to come.
Within the month, she will be going to Stanford for such things…and I have little doubt behind her strength or ability to deal with it. She remains in care still – a milestone in and of itself; she is bored beyond description, covered in bed sores, and must be feeling pretty low…yet, she hasn’t left again. Her little boyfriend (the one who do not necessarily like so much but cannot deny his humanity in comparison to the other men she has surrounded herself with in the past) comes to visit her now; I know that makes her feel like the world isn’t ending, after all. Anything that helps her to stay put and ride out the road ahead through her physical recovery – I am on board with it.
She has grown up so much…in such a short time…she is so jaded and darkened by her own experiences, that I watch her struggle with simply being cared for by another human being…it’s rough. But she’s letting it happen – as hard as it may be on her.
Apparently, she thought that walking downstairs and meeting “a friend” at the hospital was safe enough.
All I know is that within the hour of her leaving the hospital, her trach cap had been taken away from her and she was unable to speak and barely able to breathe. She spent almost 36 hours away from medical care with a brand new, unsettled tracheotomy that needed attention.
She has returned now; out of sheer necessity of course…and she has further complicated her own condition by allowing the trach to become clogged and dirty. Now they will need to replace the original trach with a new one – another surgery, another gamble with her life.
“Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper.”
~ W. Rawley
When you have a daughter like mine, this is the element that destroys you:
The incurable death wish that transcends even a hole in her own throat; Boo left the hospital last night at some point with an unknown couple and has not returned.
Granted, it is her M.O. to disappear from a recovery unit in the hospital, she has always done that. But never before has she had something as serious as a tracheotomy to worry about. She was notably struggling to breathe in the hospital – what is she going through out there? I don’t understand…I don’t believe it…but I am forced to accept the fact that she intended it. She apparently walked out by her own free will once again. She likes to think that she knows everything and has it all under control, somehow…and…well, we have all seen how well she keeps things under control…
So once again, as of the instant I woke up this morning:
My heart has disappeared to an unknown location outside of my body but still pumps and beats painfully.
Today I helped my somewhat coherent daughter take her first “shower” in ten days; it was the first time I have seen firsthand – the residual extent of her wounds from being kidnapped and tortured in Arizona…it was horrendous for me; but it was like heaven for her to feel clean.
I shampooed and conditioned her now shorn off hair; I found a deep and permanent divot left in the back of her skull from a hammer blow: a half-dollar sized strawberry colored sphere smack dead in the center of the back of her head. My throat tightened up so badly I began to wonder if I might start to hyperventilate.
All over her shoulders, arms, belly, chest and back are huge burn scars as long as the sword that was used to leave them; her arm has been pinned in three places, she’s been given a tracheotomy as a result of 1) Being forced to drink caustic chemicals; and 2) Having a belt cinched tightly round her neck for almost two days.
At one point, I looked down at the floor and asked what the mess what all about; don’t they have a janitor who comes and sweeps the floors? She said yes there is a janitor, and he never cuts corners on her room – she raised her feet both up in the air across from me and I saw the bottoms of her feet for the first time…I had not been made aware of what they had done to the bottoms of both her feet…my heart just hurt so bad. Her feet were burned the worst of all…they burned the bottoms of her feet into mush. What I was seeing on the floor was simply from her feet shedding skin layers endlessly. I just didn’t even know what to say to that…I didn’t say anything; just rubbed lotion on them for her.
She was laughing, smiling; still somehow trying to glow from underneath the mess on the surface…today was a very emotional day…but she’s coming around we hope.
My thoughts seem to go,
from climbing high – to dropping low;
no change is made to the present, though,
and the present moment drags my heart below…
like a leaf blowing by,
slowly on the other side,
of the locked and barred window;
so many ups falling back down,
my very nerves coming unwound;
all that I hear is the drumming sound,
it’s my heart as the parts slowly shut down…
nothing holds any promise,
the darkest hours upon us,
these unwinding and unraveling sounds.
Boo is in ICU again; she was found last Wednesday unresponsive and alone on the track in Oakland…she went for an unknown amount of time without air to her brain…she is on life support: a breathing machine, feeding tube etc. Her outlook is not good. Things are not good.
a yarn ball made of questions,
unrolls before me;
a tangle of answers form,
tripping up my feet;
the theme, unchanging,
surrounding the inquiry,
how and where is she?
unanswered for me,
tears that eat away the years,
as they pass slowly.
Traveling swiftly, along in between, the shuffling feet, dropping and lifting, to static frequencies, over the threshold, off of the streets, into the bustling, and humming, of a million machines, fostering, the very needs, of broken human beings… over the sounds, of the technology, tubes and dressings, Hallmark blessings, I hear her breathing, ever-steadily, in the darkness, over the chorus, of the ticks, clacks, hisses and beeps, she breathes her way, through the night, thankfully, to see another day, that she’d preferably, rather not even see, which is sadly telling, told by the many injuries, outside and within, the broken bones and skin, all of the gods damned, technologies and, cures known to man, won’t change anything, the hand, she’s been given, the Hell, that she must live in… this was once my baby, and she will, always be, worth so much more, than what she perceives, as reality, no hope anymore, of something in store, hidden from the sight of me, I hold my breath in, unintentionally, if I fail to register, rhythmic machines, over it all, the patients in the halls, the button to call… the sound I faintly hear, here and there, along a stream-flow, of the hospital air, it’s dull and low, but a sound I know, all too well, it’s the rewound, haunting sound, high-pitched, helium, voice to the face, of my baby, saying things like, “Mommy please help me.”
I received a package containing all of my daughter’s school papers, notebooks and any other miscellaneous documents that she collected over the years of her incarcerated teenaged life. I have had possession of the box for almost a month now and only opened it the other day because my mother was seeking out a particular photo that she assured me was inside.
I have avoided opening this box and exposing myself to the mess of utter bullshit that it encloses, as I know that there is very little about her persona that is her own; the lies that she cultivates and maintains regarding her real life events and the real family associated with them. It’s been a few years now that I’ve had to digest the fact that my only child is a compulsive liar who seems incapable of telling even simple truths in the most casual of contexts.
I can imagine what it must feel like for the mother of a serial killer or a fucking terrorist who has been identified and detained before the world to see: the inconsolable shame and regret, bewilderment and lack of any ability to relate to the actions of one’s own offspring – much less: be able to account for any of those actions as the mother of the creature in question…I don’t need to imagine what it feels like to go through the later part of one’s life in absolute shock and faltering denial pertaining to the finally produced grown-up version of what was once her child; the child she never understood or related to, the child that boggled her mind and trampled her heart in the long run.
But yeah, my good ol’ mom insisted on sending me to swim with the jellyfish yesterday, and asked me to look for the photo in the box…and…
Was I surprised by the horse-shit chronicles that I found inside?
Does it hurt my very core to its hollows upon being reminded how very fucked up my kid is as a human creature, to be able to put such miserable dishonesty in writing?
Hell yes it does, every time…to read such disillusion in her own words always stings and burns like it was the first time reading it.
Yes, the box is chock-full of lies and delusions in written form; horribly non-believable versions of her life story that paint not only me – but my parents as well – as warped, mutilated and fabricated versions of ourselves to fit the varying purposes such documents were meant to serve. These constructs of penned deceit written by the hand of my only child are not something I take lightly – on any level; as they have come to serve as written proof in my mind that my child has been lost to me and my family for a long, long time already. And, somehow – as crazy and unhealthy as this may come across to my readers, to be reminded of exactly the depths of character incessantly displayed by her at the cost of her own family – the only people who have ever given two real fucks about her – is a comfort to me now; as I have no idea whether she is dead or alive, anyway.
Well, I’ve been trying to find out exactly how to put into words what I’ve been experiencing since my return from seeing my daughter (possibly for the last time ever).
On the day after her eighteenth birthday, she disappeared and left me to swallow the reality that she could truly care less about our extremely strained relationship ever getting better. I spent the next day and a half alone and in tears, until it was time to catch my flight back home. I knew it would only be a matter of time before she burned the bridges (as rickety as they were to begin with) between she and her “girlfriend’s” family and people; before she found herself excluded from whatever setting she had been so compelled to ditch me for.
Of course, I was right. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done to actually leave that place by my own will, seeing as how I truly feel as if I’ve walked slowly away from the arena in which she will be tortured and killed eventually. The years of her teenaged life have been spent with her running away – running away – running away…and now that she’s an “adult”, there’s no chasing her anymore. And, that’s what it all comes down to for me I guess, is the fact that I’ve spent so many years in having to “force” my way into her life, if I wanted to be there at all…which is anything but a good feeling when it comes to one’s only child.
Boo has found her way, once again, to right where she undeniably wants to be: a place where she is regularly treated like an animal by grown men who buy her for a few hours at a time to use as they like, before tossing her aside (if she’s lucky). The lies that she spent our time together in telling me only make my blood boil in retrospect:
“You never have to be on the street, Boo; you know as long as I have a roof over my head, so do you…”
“I’m done with that lifestyle Mom…I know that I deserve better than that…”
Her father was the master of telling me what I wanted to hear in order to get me to fall in line with his bullshit…and the older she gets – the more she makes his ways seem so feeble and small. I haven’t heard from her since that day…May 14th 2015; and now I am once again living in that mindfuq place where I am afraid to answer my phone again. I am back to waiting for that call in which I am told that she has been found dead somewhere in a garbage pile. It hurts. Bad.
so many times,
so much love,
this heart of mine;
I’ve seen the light,
I’ve read the lines,
I’ve lost the hope,
I’ve gained insight;
what it should’ve been,
what it was meant to be,
when your life began,
the pretext of,
the tragic story,
of your mother’s love,
her broken heart,
her saddest song,
the hoarsened howl,
as it leaves my lungs,
this song’s for you;
these words written true,
by the mother of you,
the tail spinning blue,
throttle my womb,
ran straight into,
my very worst fears,
as each one comes true,
nothing for it,
can’t ignore it,
may as well,
dive willingly into:
the losing battlefield,
my life has come to,
can’t look back,
won’t turn around,
for one last look,
you’ve grown into,
I’ve primed your wings,
I’ve tried my best,
to maintain your roots;
I’ve stroked your ego,
I’ve broken my back,
I’ve jumped through,
and don’t fly home,
until you’re true.
A very fitting ending to my week might have been an explosion that swallowed my entire section of gridlock in rush hour – nowhere to escape to – no matter if you use your blinker, or not; another fitting scenario just as easily could’ve been something along the lines of having my limbs tied to four horses that were subsequently giddy-upped four different directions; or I maybe should have ended up asleep in some dirty crackhead’s tunnel inside of that horrid “sculpture” thing that I spent several days of last week staring at from a cush hotel balcony…that would have sucked.
The ten days leading up to yesterday seem like a dreamscape to me now, somehow – in a surreal and foggy kind of way; the entirety of the emotional expenditure on my part has left me drained, and sensing a question mark floating above my head when I try to think too hard about why that is. I have decided to let it roll off my back for now – all of it; it’s too diabolical and dramatic for me to wrap my head around, anyway. All that I know for sure is that I have lost my focus lately, despite my progress in therapy and my expanding comfortable environments (good sign!), it is suddenly clear to me that I have been quite “functionally” dissociated and detached throughout.
It’s the final “other shoe” that needs to be dropped before I can possibly breathe again like I used to. The tension and anxiety that are attached to Boo’s upcoming 18th birthday and release into a distant community, on her own and without any preparation or real world social skills – well…the underlying dread and fear have rendered me bassackwards on pretty much a daily basis for so long now that it has come to feel “normal”, almost acceptable on some days. But in truth, this ongoing stress factor for me has done a good job at riding me hard; and these days, I guess it’s time to try like Hell to put me away soaking wet.
The darkness that my life has gradually resigned to, as a result of the past six years of Living Hell in a Waking Nightmare that is directly attributed to, as well as executed by – the local courts and government funded agencies – remains as a hue that my words cannot possibly describe with any justice or worthy depiction; the needle went off the vinyl so many years ago and there has been only the hideous, brain-aching sound of the resultant scratching ever since. The professionals charged with protecting my child have collectively gang-raped me (metaphorically speaking) in succession for over six years – legally, and without shame. They have broken my pockets through repeatedly relocating my Boo further and further away in distance, and then denying me the agreed upon (prior to any of the relocations, of course) financial assistance with the lodging/traveling expenses required to maintain any kind of real “relationship” with her afterwards. These so-called professionals have been the CRIMINALS more often than not, the in the grand scheme of it all.
Yet – nobody gives a second fuck about it…because it is unbelievable right? It only happens to people on TV or in a different state than ours, right? Sadly, anyone you see in the news with similar stories is only even shown on the news because something irreversibly tragic and impossible to sweep under a carpet somewhere has happened to that person’s child(ren). I would love it if someone – ANYONE – could successfully show me any form of lasting justice in the Juvenile Court System, nationwide. I search and search these days for any documentation that sways an opinion in the direction of such a notion; one thought of Boo, and my blood starts to boil, naturally. Yes – Boo has FINALLY seen a small piece of the justice due after the Living Hell that she has been forced endure for the last SIX PLUS YEARS…but it’s hardly enough.
Notably, these crucial and trying years have been spent being forcibly separated from each other by the very same individuals and agencies that set Boo on top of the burner to begin with all that time ago. Notably, the tragic and disgustingly long line of events that have transpired as direct (and indirect) results of the Judge as well as the local DFCS’ initial fuck-ups through Failure to Protect/Failure to Act/Failure to Follow Procedure continues to be swept aside to all corners by every “professional” involved. Notably, anybody with any empowerment to have helped Boo receive said justice when it still might have meant something to her – as a child victim to a Pedophile on the county Payroll – has opted NOT to exercise such powers in the sake of a child’s fundamental human rights to be unmolested while under the COURT ORDERED “care” of an institution.
Theoretically, last night should have brought me the best sleep that I have had in some time, after hearing a jury’s guilty verdict of the man who ruined my daughter so long ago.
As I lay there in darkness with buds tightly squeezed into each ear playing Ben Bonetti’s “Hello Spider” meditational gig, I began to think about the Pedophile’s family (he has a wife and two children the same age as my own), and was overcome with grief.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen his wife various times in passing- on the news, and other places associated with the common denominator between us; there are ill feelings in the air during each of these instances, almost naturally. I have watched the Pedophile’s aged and decrepit mother hobble up and down three floors with her cane to trial so many times I couldn’t count them if I tried; I have seen the toll taken in the faces of his kids as they have become young adults, just like my own has; I have watched his family disintegrate into dust amidst the chaos of what he has done.
These things do not give me a sense of peace or fairness in any way…two shocked and completely torn children who stopped showing up at trial days altogether about halfway through…the jolly smile gradually fading altogether from his ancient, crippled mother’s face…the last string of hope attached to his poor wife’s perception of his innocence just falling away into nothingness…
the many scenes that would undoubtedly be enacted most dramatically for a movie; the parts in which the viewers would be pumping fists and shouting “Yeah! That’s what they get!”
But reality tells me differently now… “they” don’t deserve this at all. They have been victimized also (especially the kids) and have been also been permanently damaged and traumatized by the actions of their’ Pedophile father. His wife, who stood by her man for years before finally becoming so jaded and embittered by the proverbial “bag” that she was left to hold after her husband was arrested, she has been traumatized as well by the causes and effects of her husband’s Pedophilia; she has truly been changed in many ways by this circumstance – and I am not even someone who knows her, but it’s that apparent, even to a stranger, how heavy her burden weighs in on her back – it shows in her face, her disappointment and shame…and, that isn’t fair – she isn’t the Pedophile. Last night, I found myself wondering about her; about what she was doing in response to the news that lifted my spirits to new heights yesterday…what thoughts was she spending her night playing through her mind?
Anyway, I am obviously relieved beyond words that he has been convicted of many counts (not just Boo), but the verdict and its permanence holds many more facets to its shine that I had originally been prepared for, I guess.
I’ve been walking on wire
high above a horrific crime scene,
looking down at the sheer
size of such a bloody tragedy
the yellow tape is stretching
for miles across the trees
and the vultures circle
the tight rope
I’ve been walking.
I look down, muted sounds
while little dots of people
mull their ways around
most of them don’t care
that I’m watching
from the air,
but a few, I see
have taken notice of me
magnified by a cross-hair.
They will try to kill me,
they’ve tried so many times
to shoot me down
from the heights I’ve found,
but they can’t seem
to tap that bead.
And so on I look
bullets flying right at me
I do not falter,
just too desperate to see
the object of this circus show,
the victim of this scene…
Is it my baby that you
have down there
amongst such a
All I want answered
is this simple query
put down the rifles
and answer me.
They know what I’m after
and they know just as sure
that I won’t be going
a damned place without her.
But, I’ve got a shocker
Folded into my sleeve
and it’s something that
none of these cowards are
expecting from me.
This is what happens,
with all of this time
they’ve given to me,
my mind has mapped
its very own crime scene,
and mine’s filled with bodies
of them, not her and me.
from my high place
above the green trees,
and once it’s all done
I’ll climb down finally
for my only baby…
I know that she’s here
I can hear her calling to me.
But I never could find her
amongst so many
other dead bodies,
she screams to me
The haunt of my dreams.
Last night, at around 8pm, my phone started ringing in my pocket; I was surprised to see Boo’s name brightly lighting up the screen through the dimness in my lap, playing the custom ringtone “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd loudly to the vibrating beat. It made so many wrong things feel right to talk to Boo on Christmas, last night…
It has been since our dog Ozzy died in late June, that we last spoke. Since we have seen one another, she had a birthday…our relationship truly couldn’t be any more estranged and alienated. The more time that passed by without any contact, the more guilt was stacking up behind each minute spent separated from each other like we have been forced to be. It’s been so, so long this way…inhumanely long. She writes to me often enough, robotic letters that hold no meaning – just words that she thinks she’s expected to write to her Mom at a given point in time. I admit, I have been withdrawn from her; which is inexcusable, so I won’t bother with coming up with any excuses behind this fact; it is what it is.
Last night, we talked for 37 minutes straight! This is by far the longest I can ever recall having a conversation with Boo (in person or on the phone) without some type of major drama or explosion on her part. We are typically like fire and water; and the older Boo grows, the less often have we been able to even remain in the same vicinity for very long without combustion. She is very different than I am, always has been. She thinks that I am a “goody-two-shoes” somehow; this is a truth that still just blows my mind. I’m not sure where she ever got that from, but that’s her perception of me. It is what it is. I think she is a disloyal and conniving, beautiful and intelligent little blonde, long-lashed, doe-eyed creature; who has unfortunately come to epitomize the poster child for the self-imposed cycle of traumatic experience; she wouldn’t even begin to know how to break down that label into anything that made any kind of sense, though…she barely reads. It is what it is.
We talked last night about all kinds of stuff that I wouldn’t have expected to talk about with her. She has decided that she’s gay again – which is a song and dance that she has played with me since she was thirteen years old – for a reaction that I can’t believe she hasn’t learned by now, she isn’t gonna get from me on that score. I always tell her without fail (and I mean it, too) that she can be with whoever she wants to be with and have my approval so long as it’s a healthy and somewhat “normal” relationship. I couldn’t give a shit if she’s gay. It is what it is.
We talked about her caseworker and how useless she is, which led to other conversations that got my blood boiling, as usual, in the context of that good for nothing, stinky bitch caseworker assigned to my daughter’s gig. Boo said, “I wish I could just get myself arrested somehow so I would get a probation officer, instead (of the caseworker)…”; a remark which at first made me cringe, until I remembered having once said the exact same words from a juvenile holding cell…damn…it is what it is.
I have this plaster hand…
Likened to yours;
Hanging above the kitchen door…
The one we made so long ago…
On Christmas Eve Day, just bored…
I have a poem written…
By your tiny hand;
As tiny as the one that hangs…
Above the kitchen door frame…
It says “Mommy I Love You”…
And the Gods help me…
If when I pass it by, I don’t hear the words…
In a sigh, a whispering…
I keep a tiny, silver jewelry box…
The one you saved up for;
Inscribed across the dusty top …
Is chiseled in, beautifully:
“I Love You Mommy”…
And “Mommy” dies a little more…
I have all these haunting memories…
Of having future plans;
Fulfilling hopes and dreams…
Just you and I surviving…
Getting back up to stand…
I saved these Christmas things…
Yours and mine;
Stored away like a box to mourn…
Every year, when it’s opened again…
And looks the same…
As the years before…
I held on to your special ornaments…
All of them;
Though I never hang them high…
I never get a tree anymore…
I see no reason why…
But I keep these things…
To remind myself…
Of the twinkle lost to my eye…
I held on to so many things…
To keep you somehow, near…
Closer at least…
Than wherever you are…
I have this little butterfly wing…
You brought home;
You flew it behind you like a kite…
A colorful ghost that chased you…
Right out of second grade…
I find these notes you wrote…
To me; To Mommy;
They read your apologies…
For spilling toothpaste on the rug…
And I want to come find you wherever you are…
And tell you that rug never mattered to me.
It is December 5 today; 20 days away from the worst day of every year. In twenty days, I will spend another Christmas holiday alone, without anyone considered as family – without anyone who really cares one way or the other about the status of my presence – by 20 days from now, I will again be wishing for death, fast or slow.
All of the days leading up to that day will be filled with bad feelings and experiences, triggers and recollections that make me on edge and cranky as Hell; not a single day between then and today will leave me feeling even semi-complete, as I shop for gifts for the normal people in my life who celebrate the holidays like normal people – pretending.
All of the nights in between Christmas and last night will suck just as badly as the days, no rest for the wicked…or broken-hearted. I will dream of things that will never be and never could’ve been – wake up with that gut-empty feeling and feel afraid for three straight hours with each sunrise – never learning to put my finger on the source of these feelings to stop it, despite my frustrating efforts.
And Christmas Day, itself:
I will sleep as late as I can in an indentation at the edge of my cold bed – between it and the cold wall – I will force my tear-singed eyes to remain closed for as long as I possibly can because I won’t want to open them on that day, I promise. It feels as if the vicious cycle of my existence always gets close to erupting at this time of every year; everyone knows to leave me alone, everyone knows that there’s nothing they can do for me – there’s no solutions to offer or insight that’s worthy – everyone knows.
If I were stupid or lonely enough to expose myself to my extended family on that day, I’d regret it rather quickly; and eventually wind up saying something fucked up to a member of my own family in an over-anxious, depressed and defensive state, before storming out in tears. Been there, wrecked that. I call this entire song and dance “The Circle of Holiday Death” – it happens over and over and over and over. Each time that my heart, mind-state and blood pressure begin to “normalize” after the re-opened wounds, it’s Christmastime once again, and it all starts over.
People will ask me if I am okay until I will begin to respond with anger and irritability; they will not understand. Even my closest friends will avoid me because they simply CAN NOT offer me comfort in any way and they know this (the friends who have not already become totally overwhelmed by my reality and disappeared, altogether, that is).
I will seethe will anger at certain thoughts during this time of year: the people who have created this Living Hell for Boo being able to happily celebrate around a table with their own loved ones, their own precious children; my baby spending the day alone in a locked cage while being told that she’s unimportant and that everything that’s happened to her is her own fault.
IT HURTS ENOUGH TO MAKE ME DERANGED…
And through it all, I MUST keep my grip on composure; for I am NO good to the (Gods willing) older Boo if I end up in prison or dead before she turns 18. I do not plan on abandoning Boo ever again – – no matter how fucking bad it hurts me to follow through with. SHE NEEDS ME; even if she doesn’t know it yet. I have long been aware of the fact that I can’t undo whatever it was that did Boo; I can only build from where we stand, upwards. Our “relationship” is so far gone that I don’t feel as if it’s even possible for us to grow any further apart anymore.
So I guess there’s just one direction to go with it all, when it comes to Boo.
It was almost a full year ago – the last time that I laid my eyes on my only child, my daughter…Boo.
I struggled not to fall apart the entire time that I was blessed by her physical presence that night; the circumstances were, as they tend to be when it comes to my daughter, next to unbearable for me…but I remember how grateful I strangely felt the whole time that she lay unconscious in my lap at the Emergency Room. I was quite dissociated during the entire holiday season last year (every year for the past six years); and when I found out that Boo had finagled her way into a “home pass” from the facility in which she is court-ordered to remain, out of state, high security and with no socializing included – I became even more detached as a means of cushioning myself emotionally from the inevitable train-wreck that I associated with the “home pass”. I somehow remember the last two times that I saw Boo so vividly and clearly, it stabs my belly to reflect upon either instance, though.
The last 10+ “home passes” that Boo has been given ended in catastrophe, and I am not exaggerating. It began even before they moved her out of state and out into the sticks (when she was still somewhat socialized from her former life with me in a family unit): the disappearing act; she has it down to a science, and always pretty much did. Boo can POOF! Be gone within the blink of an eye, before you even know what hit you, she’s off on another death-wish driven expedition that she may never return alive from. Boo has always been uncontrollable by nature, I don’t know how else to describe her – she’s explosive and impatient as Hell – she’s a chameleon, and has her mother’s total lack of attention span – she has no sense of Self at all, she just goes with the flow that will lead her to the most trouble and danger – unfortunately, that’s just Boo.
Last year’s “home pass” was no different: I picked her up at the airport on the 28th of December (close enough to Christmas for me to have actually been okay through the day without her on the 25th), she was gone by the 31st. She remained missing that time for nearly two full weeks with no word of her whereabouts or well-being…it was sheer Hell, fucking Hell. I wouldn’t wish that shit on my worst enemy, I swear. When they found her that time, she was in bad shape…bad, bad shape…wow. She ended up being involved in a serious sex trafficking bust and returned to the county where I live by the police to the hospital, from which she left again almost immediately – before I could even get there. Boo knows how to betray me better than any living soul that I know, even when she’s not trying to. This happened three consecutive times over the duration of the following month and a half: Boo missing for unreal amounts of time – my not knowing whether she was alive or dead – HELL.
The final time that they picked her up on a highway in the desert somewhere, half-naked and so fucked up on drugs that she didn’t know who or where she was, beaten and burned with cigarettes, two busted ankles – unconscious and dehydrated – was the last time that I saw her face. I went to the hospital at around 10pm and held her until the morning, at which time she had been deemed stable enough for transport out of state, back to the locked facility that the courts leave to her in to rot. She was hardly coherent for any of the time that I spent with her that night…in and out of delirium and on heavy duty painkillers…ankles both freshly plaster-cast, eyes both swollen closed. I saw cigarette burns all over her arms and shoulders and hands. My heart broke the rest of its way into two separate pieces that night; I know that much to be true. As much as the whole thing was terribly painful and trying on me to endure – I could only imagine what her process of endurance for these things must be; I remember thinking: “Just rub her hair and don’t let her be alone…”, so I did.
I would like my readers to chew on something for a few moments upon reading this post:
Boo, who has a very over-bearing and highly involved mother, and always did – from the first day that she entered the miserably broken system – has been treated horribly as a result of being brave enough to speak up about something that she knew was very wrong on some level or another;
Boo has been ridiculed and labeled as a liar and a wayward, targeted by a county-funded, judicially backed agency as a source of trouble as a direct result of being victimized by a child sex predator.
Boo has been moved farther and farther from me over the YEARS since this incident occurred, by the courts – while they totally tried to sweep the whole thing under the carpet for TWO years.
Boo was only vindicated as VICTIM #1 (nearly 3 years after she was called a liar, deemed unfounded, relocated twice, the second time: OUT OF STATE, after the facility up north failed as well due to her inability to feel safe there) when another little girl who was at the place with the pedophile was brave enough to speak up and say something about what he was doing to her regularly.
Boo has paid the ultimate price for the short-comings of the Child Protection Services and Department of Family & Children’s Services: she has paid with her own chances of any real relief in this life.
Now, with those reminders being noted – think about this:
Most of the children in this broken ass system are there because they have NOBODY. Most of them are pretty much alone in a system that operates in the ways in which I have been detailing in this blog…can you imagine what the future might look like for those kids? The ones who have NOBODY to speak up for them, to follow up on them, to stand on someone’s chest for them, to be arrested (seven times and counting) in order to have their needs heard…? I can. This notion haunts me day and night, and always has since I realized the living Hell that these kids are legally bound to by this bullshit, perversely incensed, systematic failure of a court that claims to protect their “best interests”.
The next piece of this tragedy is one of the MOST UNBELIEVABLE aspects to the entire nightmare; it is the point in which everything slipped from my control permanently; the point in which I lost Boo forever – I was still too fucking blind to realize it.
I remember after taking her to the facility (I had already been arrested for not returning her when I said I would and been held in contempt of court orders etc.) and making certain that the pedophile would not be on shift, going to my parents’ house and unloading my fears and giving them a recap of the conversation with Boo.
Within an hour, I was sitting at my laptop, writing an email to the facility’s supervisor, director, clinical director, house manager, therapist and Boo’s case worker – describing the conversation and its details in full. I closed this email with the demand that: 1) the individual in question be separated from Boo totally until further notice, and 2) that my concerns were immediately addressed.
RED FLAG #1:
I heard nothing for 2 days; and when I did finally hear from my daughter’s therapist from the facility, it was to be informed of the sexual assault that had occurred the day before. (The sexual assault against my then 13 year old daughter, one executed by the VERY SAME MAN that I had sent warning about only 2 days prior.) The incident had taken place in between the time that I had emailed the warning and the time that I received a response, in the form of a “formal investigation” that was quickly deemed “unfounded” and dropped.
Boo had, like many, many child victims of sexual assault end up doing during the investigatory stage, recanted her initial allegation – she suddenly claimed that the person with whom she had sexual intercourse with over the previous weekend – had been a boy from school that she had supposedly snuck into the facility through her window; a story that I NEVER believed for a nano-second. My feeling has always been founded solidly that she was trying to protect him from being in trouble; and that she immediately experienced and saw the way in which the few people she had confided the truth in had reacted to her allegation of a grown-ass male employee having sex with a thirteen year old child “client” on grounds – and was essentially intimidated into changing her story (she now claims that this was an accurate assertion on my part).
RED FLAG #2:
EVERY SINGLE “professional” involved with my kid’s so-called “treatment” and “rehabilitation” was perfectly okay with accepting Boo’s sudden change of stories, without question or a second thought towards further investigation of what had the potential (and sadly, ending up becoming) a huge breach of the children’s safety – Boo was “Janey Doe AKA Victim #1 of 17, years later, in court documents that came way too late.
Secondly, the facility (nor a single one of its handfuls of legally mandated child abuse reporters) didn’t find it necessary to involve the local police, and wanted to handle things “internally” along with the concurrently running CPS “investigation”. The police would not have been brought into the scenario AT ALL, had Boo’s school principle (who was incoincidentally already a stationary figure in Boo’s middle school career) not taken his own role as a mandated reporter seriously, and reported my report to him – “out of legal liability to do so”.
RED FLAG #3:
Location! Location! Location!
Upon the allegation being made and the police finally being dragged into involvement, Boo was consequently asked to leave the facility within seven days of police involvement. Her social worker claimed that there wasn’t time to find a “placement” that was legally in-line with the court’s order regarding her specific treatments needs and goals – that the only option we had was to send Boo four hours north from home. Once again, the case DFCS omitted details as serious and life-changing as sexual assault and harassment against the very child it was claiming to protect and rehabilitate. Again, I had to get myself arrested in order to be heard by anybody who had any power (the judge). Unsurprisingly, the judge claimed no knowledge of the events unfolding outside the courtroom, despite the fact that she is technically my kid’s legal guardian while Boo’s on her caseload.
The restaurant was dimly lit and the mood was calm and easy, hushed voices whispering stories to one another throughout its interior. It was the place where we had celebrated my daughter’s past few birthday dinners, at her request; she had taken a liking to seafood as she grew up. Personally, I don’t care for it too much, but like most things in motherhood, that factor washed out the window with my child’s stated wishes. There we sat, talking about school and her wide array of “frenemies” there; her face randomly becoming lit by the shadows of light dancing around the archaic candle at our table – her increasing beauty affecting a slap in my face from Good Ol’ Father Time, I recall.
“Can you believe you’re already thirteen?” I teased her across the table, snickering and rolling my eyes in an effort to provoke her into a response.
Our relationship had been heavily strained leading up to this night: her thirteenth birthday – an estrangement that happened as a result of the local courts and child welfare agencies. We had been separated for nearly a year at that time, the very first year of our two-unit family’s still unrecognized, yet inevitable demise; the very first of a long string of years lost down the drains of time.
An imposing wedge in the form of a gavel had been forcibly squeezed between us with a shoehorn. We had suffered a trauma to our daily lives when she had been court-ordered to “residential treatment” at a nearby facility for children who suffer from behavioral issues (which Boo most certainly did).
“No…..it feels like I should be turning sixteen already…” was her response from across the heavily lacquered shine of a redwood tabletop, her large, hazel doe eyes shot up again to meet mine “…feels like I’ve been gone forever…”Boo’s reply was not one of anger or bitterness, as is often the case when it comes to the things Boo says.
And so it goes: A simple observation of Boo’s reality regularly and innocently transforms into a crushing blow to my own.
I reached over and grabbed her greasy hand, locked my fingers tightly around the little fingers so likened to my own, and said, “This’ll all be over before you know it, Kiddo…hang in there, we’re almost done.” Boo smiled, a smile that has the ability to melt away every bad notion that’s ever entered my mind, body or soul, and simply said, “I know, Mom.”
The rest of our dinner had been eaten without incident; and when the waiter and some random servers from other tables came around with a slice of cake topped off by a candle and an obnoxious level of un-harmonized singing, she happily accepted the attention and dessert offering. It was during this last part of her birthday meal that everything changed forever.
She began to talk about her counselor, a man with whom she had grown very fond of and close to over the time she had been at the facility the judge ordered to go to; a man in whom I had always secretly harbored a deep distrust for and could not put my finger on exactly why that was. The details remain blurry but the end result stands out like a black sheep among newborn albino lambs:
– My daughter proceeded to absentmindedly and unintentionally (by attempting to show off how mature she was becoming while away from home, I believe) spend over twenty minutes describing to me in a bragging-like manner (because she was not yet old enough to even comprehend that a crime was being committed against her) – the gut-stabbing realities that defined a new direction being taken in the “relationship” between she and her “one-to-one counselor “at the facility, and it was anything,but acceptable.
This was the true beginning of my own Living Hell, making the time and ALMOST the life I had lost to Boo’s father pale in comparison to the grief, despair, hopelessness, helplessness and injustice that accompanied this night’s discovery of a pedophile on the county payroll, counseling children in a facility to which 90% of them are court-ordered to be.
I saw Renee today; all grown up and covered in dark make-up, hair twisting down to her ass in shiny, sleek braids and tresses; she looked beautiful – sixteen and a half years old already and driving her father’s beat up old blue pick-up truck…
Renee and Boo used to be best friends for like – EVER, in the ‘hood. They went to different schools but played every day after homework was done, took each other on family trips and so on. By the time that Boo had to leave home in exchange for a “residential treatment facility” because of her increasingly unruly behavior, the girls had grown apart for the same reason: Renee is a tried and true “angel”, without a mean bone in her body; Boo is natural-born and rightful Hellraiser.
Seeing Renee today, so happy and full of life and promise and bright futures wide open to her, I have to confess I was stricken by some sort of jealousy or envy – CORRECTION – I was nearly consumed by it.
I spoke to her for a few minutes about her dad and dogs and whatever other things I could think up to say as I watched her eyes dart everywhere around us, looking for Boo – searching for Boo with so much hope and excitement barely contained behind her eyes. It always goes this way when I see one of Boo’s friends, or better yet: a parent of one her friends – someone who knows very little about me and my daughter’s trials and tribulations – someone ready to spit venomous and projected judgments at me,
I finally shot out my hand and grabbed Renee’s arm, surprising myself with my own sudden decision, and said,
“Renee, you and Boo might be totally different and worlds apart these days, but she’s been MIA on the run for almost 2 months and just found out that her father died; yeah – her father died, yeah, the one that’s been in prison – he died; she just returned from AWOL yesterday morning to hear that news, and…well, you know how she is…she could probably use a friend, a real friend right now…”
My eyes stared down at the concrete where we stood in front of the donut shop, my grasp still tight on her arm. Her response was almost immediate, and painfully sincere; she said,
“I love Boo and always will, but I guess it’s because of that, well that’s why it’s too hard to be friends with her…you know?…because she hates herself so much…”
I choked up, but covered it beautifully behind my dark sunglasses; I smiled down at her, my grip loosening slowly and gently, so as not to imply any offense or resentment towards her. “I know, Kiddo…” I said, “I understand…”
Today I have felt like the biggest failure of a mother possible…because I’ve been reflecting on the continual tragedies that have plagued my experience of motherhood…
I have been going through the archives of my daughter and I’s life together (and apart) and trying in vain (the only thing that I know to do) to make sense of such senselessness; to reason with the unreasonable. I feel resigned to the permanence of desperation and devastation today – I haven’t felt resigned for a while – not to this reality, at least. Accepting a reality of the life and future existence belonging to somebody other than me doesn’t feel at all “right”.
I’m somebody’s Mom…
but I’m no longer a Mom to anyone…
so I walk around feeling half-ass finished with my tasks each and every day – I can’t braid my daughter’s hair or paint her nails; I can’t buy her clothes and shoes that fit her comfortably (with a little room to grow into); I can’t cook her a meal or go through her phone – I can’t be her Mom because she’s out there being something meaningless to some heartless, shameless and most likely dangerous grown man who is just as likely to end her life when he’s finished with her, as he is to drop her off naked and shivering in the rain at a public bus-stop, in a state of sleep-deprived confusion and drug-induced delirium.
These are the types of people with whom she repeatedly chooses to keep the company of – as opposed to a warm, safe, consistent and nurturing – even semi-normal – life with me.
So, I live in a mind-fuck paradox in the land of Cause and Effect – when it comes to my kid and my mental stability (or lack, thereof)…
When she is around and accounted for, I can move mountains if I need to; when Boo is safe (no matter how pissed off she may be about having to be), I am able to be more productive and to maintain momentum like I swallowed a bottle Dexedrine, just begging someone to step up and take a shot at the Title, to try and slow me down.
But when Boo is missing; when my heart is out there walking around outside of my body in places unacceptable to me, I am virtually paralyzed and non-functional in general. It is impossible for me to carry on with day to day shit like everything’s ok, when it’s about as far from ok as it could fucking be… I’m a train wreck – no clarity, no security, no direction – on the verge of not-so-spontaneous combustion.
This morning I woke up to see a text message from a +1 phone number waiting on my cell phone’s screen for me…
When I open it, I see my only child’s face staring back at me through hollow and soulless eyes – a “selfie” she took and sent to me for whatever reason – no message, no text; just a reminder of her lasting beauty and dwindling potential. She’s been missing again for 5 days, today – after returning from what I believe had to have been her most near-fatal “adventure” on the streets of our over-populated and world-famous busy city. She was lucky to have made it back alive last time…
The number she text from traced back to an escort service about 30 minutes south from where we live – again. She holds no respect for herself at all; and always finds the most degrading and self-destructive circumstance available to her. She is perpetually on self-destruct mode.
PAIN = your only baby on earth, in whom you have poured every last drop of your being and energy – gradually growing older to defy the idea of nurture and sway to the side of nature – becoming someone too much like her father, who nearly killed you before your escape from him.
FAILURE = your only child, your “legacy” to the world: slowly fading away to the Dark Side of life happily and willingly. Your only child has no original ideas, dreams, goals, opinions or standards; her existence is the epitome of “simple”, requiring no morals or empathy as a human being to function properly. She is unable to even feel for her own mother for Christ Sake…she is lost and seeming to loving it. I try so hard to relate but can’t.
REGRET = your worst decision ever: the girl’s father, who you spend every day of your life regretting in every possible way – shining brightly through the smile and eyes of the daughter you had belonging to him. Despite the fact that he has never spent more than an hour with her as a young baby, she has grown up to resemble him uncannily. I must have been Hitler or Genghis Khan in a former lifetime…maybe a cruel slave owner or a Spanish Inquisitor…just fucking shoot me already please!