I know people have wondered about it: the way that one of my dearest friends passed out of this world in silence almost a year ago now – without a word from me about it on my blog. I have gnawed a hole in one cheek over her death and the subsequent silence that has been attached to its deeply reverberating shock waves.
Teela was like a sister to me…she will always be like a sister to me.
The reason behind my lack of public response to Teela’s death is complex:
My late friend has children, the notable forces behind her strength and perseverance, the driving factor behind her survival for many years out of her life, the most recent years. Her children, as innocents, have undoubtedly been victimized alongside her throughout her domestic violence Hell over the years; they have also been subjected to loads of trauma and grief that no individual should have to carry, especially not alone.
I have been (im)patiently waiting to hear from any one of the three of them since Teela’s shocking death, to no avail. This has been why I have not openly mourned my friend’s passing yet – as I wanted to get in touch with her children, I wanted to allow them to have time to process and grieve. It was hard as Hell to wait without any word from them, and without any way to find them either.
I have been worried sick over the younger two (a boy and a girl – both still underage) since I learned that Tee was gone; I have been feeling things on a personal level in regard to their well-being (or lack, thereof), as Teela spent so much energy and time in carving out the taste of freedom and goodness that she was able to give them in the half-year or so leading up to her passing. I know that she would have looked out for my babies if the situation had ever called for it in our history together, and I have felt as if I needed to find her babies and look out for them now…in whatever capacity Life allows.
Teela’s daughter, (2 years younger than my own) finally reached out to me last night after all this time; and let me tell you it was one of the most surreal and touching (in ways both good and painful) experiences I have ever had. She is a beautiful young woman with a heart that mirrors her mama’s heart perfectly; she is a soldier just like her mama; she is struggling more than her mama would have ever been able to bear knowing – in so many various ways. But she reached out; and I intend to support her as strongly and undeniably as if she were Tee.
I was validated in my fears of what has become of Teela’s babies, that they have been forced through necessity to return from the Bat Cave to their father’s home in North Carolina…a fact that makes me want to wretch.
I confirmed many negatives and very few (if any) positives last night regarding the status of my late “Right Hand’s” surviving children…and I feel compelled to make it known to the world: the ways that these two underage and grieving children (of a TRUE mother bear that many of us knew and loved here at WP) continue to fight for the simplest of comforts and safety and security. I will write more on this topic after work, but in the meantime here’s how we can help Teela Hart’s Survivors. I thank you in advance for any humanity you might show these young people who have lost the ONLY positive force they’ve ever had.
If I were more like a tree
I could spread my roots deeply
I could sway every day in the forgiving breeze
I could grow old and die in solitary
If I were more like everybody
Life would not hurt quite as badly
Because I don’t find the same kind of misery
In any of the other creatures that I see
If I were more like I was meant to be
I’d do a better job at fixing everything
Things wouldn’t be toppled all around me
I could climb from the hole in which I’ve been buried
If I had been any easier to lead
Around by a tether and bound hands and feet
Id understand better the rest of the sheep
And be happy to forget my own individuality
If I were more of the woman I set out to be
Life might feel more like a warm homecoming
As it is, I stumble and struggle endlessly
Not to stray too far away from the ilk that shames me
I have these dawning moments when: everything around me tightly closes in tunneled down by a tornado’s spin – and at end of the tunnel – lies the booming realization; I have these dulled down memories: so very many once meaningful things carved, imparted on the dark heart of me – but I have let them fade away – no new recollections to retrieve; I know of some of the sacred divinities: many thing shown to me by the elderly drawn like a map amidst the Mysteries – however, the mystery is gone – what fills its place, tastes bitterly; I live amidst a sense of danger and doom: like a shadow cast by a permanent gloom no matter where I go, it’s in the room – it’s impeded upon a part of me – not likely to change anytime soon; I display a die-hard tendency: hardens the hardness of the people I see deepens the darkness of the world around me – to lead the horses to the water – and wait there until each one drinks; I am modified by the things that I’ve survived: skin on my body grown from cells that were not mine ears pinned to my head like Frankenstein – these things were never easy – but they’ve sure made me feel alive. I try my best to look ahead: not get tangled up in any said and done webs not worry about what he or she might have said – no matter they say about the end of another day – we’re all just one day closer to being dead.
As a survivor, I can say that the word “recovery” gets thrown around an awful lot in the medical community, be it in regard to surgery, mental instability and/or impairment, a plethora of varying ailments and illnesses, and of course – alcohol and illegal drug addiction; we hear the word used to describe our economic status from time to time; we hear “recovery” used as a term to describe what occurs during police raids and hostage situations – in the context of anything from tangible assets, to living, breathing human beings. We hear the word used mostly in a productive element, as opposed to a dark or terrifyingly surreal one; the sound of the word “recovery” evokes a sense of upward motion or a confirmation of something’s very existence.
For me, hearing the word so often created a void of meaning, in the human context, at least. I’ve met too many “recovered” individuals that give me nightmares to believe in the idea of “recovery” being a universal one; I’m very keen to the fact that my recovery might not look a god damned thing like the next guy’s form of it – I know from personal and painful experience also, that the next guy’s version of being “fully recovered” might only slightly resemble one of my own first stages of the notion of fully recovering.
DOES THE TYPE OF RECOVERY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Well, duh….
Granted, the basic concept of “recovery” can be stitched loosely and tie together many types of circumstances and people who would otherwise have NOTHING as a common thread; however, the struggles and challenges of recovery that define a person who is recovering from a tonsillectomy for example, as opposed to a person in the grips of a recovery surrounding something along the lines of say: a traumatic injury, a behavioral or mood disorder, or a recent round of Chemo-therapy, forge a line in the dirt between two separate parts of reality. There are vast differences in the goals and time-frames that represent the recovery process of a post-op maintenance knee surgery patient, in stark contrast to the goals and time-frames in question for someone that’s also in medical/psychological recovery, and continues to suffer from the additional challenges presented by ongoing manifestations of anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder – resultant of violently traumatic physical injury. For example, let’s compare:
someone who is lying comfortably within the drug-induced haze of a post-op ward after a routinely performed surgical knee or back or shoulder repair procedure – one that had been scheduled by a specialist months ahead of time, having had plenty of associated information exchanged between healthcare providers and patient as a means of mentally preparing the patient as much as possible prior to surgery and, in turn, “recovery”. This patient will be detailed a strict rehabilitation schedule upon leaving the hospital, typically complete with a slew of exercise class and various physical rehabilitators that will ensure the complete and accurate recovery process. TO…
someone who is in the drug-induced haze of a trauma ward or I.C.U. – post-op for an unknown length of time, enveloped by physical shock and acutely aware of the ease at which another individual is capable of harming her at will; unable to process the trauma that she has just endured and survived through somehow – unable to trust the safety that continues to be promised to her by the strange people she must depend upon to keep her alive from one long, pain filled day to the next. This patient does not know her surgeons, she does not know what they are performing the up close and very personal surgeries on her for, and this patient is confused, afraid and forlorn. There is no outline set forth for “recovery” upon the release of this patient from the hospital; she will be on her own to forge through the turbulence that awaits any victim of violent trauma.
The people along the way during the process will make an important difference in the overall outcome for each recovering patient, as well. Those with heart and humanity are the silent saints that have been scattered throughout the healthcare industry to somehow balance out the presence of those that represent the polar opposite of such kindness and compassion – and there are more than enough of that type.
For me, my experiences with “recovery” from the Ripper and my traumatic injury would have undoubtedly been defined much differently, had I not been pitied by the specific people who pitied me and in turn, offered me the gift of their attention. When I look back on the long and harrowing process of “recovery” from a near-fatal marriage that ended violently in a gore-fest that could have easily been ripped out of a low-budget horror film, and I recognize the alternate routes that it could have taken – based solely on the influences of outside stimuli that I was constantly exposed to during such a crucial time in my own physical, spiritual and psychological battle of “recovery”.
I am still far from fully “recovered” from my own experience fifteen years ago; it’s been a perpetually domino affected chain of events that have followed the day that I was finally released from the Hot House (the local ICU burn unit) – the day that I was technically deemed as being “recovered” and well enough to go “home”. Little did the prescribing doctors and specialists realize, I had no home anymore – and so the road to TRUE recovery likely began sometime around then, when I was faced with an overwhelmingly unwelcome reality that left me more or less speechless for months on end. Those days are the days that I consider to have been the bulkiest loads carried through my own recovery process so far – the days when I wasn’t sure what I was doing or why, just waking up and shuffling my feet for ten hours before falling back to sleep fitfully.
I had the blessing of motherhood back then; and somehow, I also had the ability, desire and presence of mind to appreciate such a gift – my only thing in the world that made sense and gave me purpose. Being a mom motivated me to carry on for something, it enabled me to escape my own world of confusion and the unknown; it healed me better than any of the days in the ICU ever could have healed me. I feel 110% certain that had I not had Boo and her existence to dive completely into like I did at the time of my “recovery”,
I wouldn’t have made it through the darkness and pain – I wouldn’t have even tried, I wouldn’t have wanted to.
Recovery has come and gone in varying fashion and multifaceted manifestations since the earliest days of my Cut-Throat Survivor’s birth; there are times when I feel so far from “recovered” that I laugh out loud at the prospect of considering myself a “survivor”; other days, I feel like I could mow down an entire task force with my saliva if I spit in that direction; it’s a relative to the current state of my own being, I suppose. I spent a lot of years in trying to fit into some type of “recovery” category or phase, to fall in line with some pre-defined step in a book of instructions on how to recover; I traveled into high and quiet places in attempt to clear my own mind and focus myself better; I’ve gone to prayer groups and spoken at huge seminars on domestic violence and chaired board meetings to outline legislative plans of action against child sexual assault. These things have each played a small part in my overall picture of “recovery”; but not one thing anywhere can ever be the solution in itself – for anyone.
RECOVERYis a path, a road to something better, whatever that might be for a given individual. RECOVERYis a haven for the souls lost to the torment of emotional shock; RECOVERY is a step in any direction when you haven’t been able to walk for a while; RECOVERYis the solution to the things that keep us lying awake at night, unable to rest our minds. RECOVERYis yours, and it is mine – and it will NOT look the same on my plate as it does on yours.
And…that is okay…we can still digest the contents of it together.