Fight vs. Flight

Flight Won

I was never much of a fighter anyway.

And so I fled.

The decision to leave my not so home anymore of a hometown wasn’t one that came without consequences. Many consequences would follow but for now just a few nay sayer’s was what I had to endure.

“Leaving to go where?”

“Are you seriously leaving?”

“You’re a girl, a Haitian girl. You’re not suppose to do things like that.”

Some of the things I heard when revealing my decision to move out-of-state. I was fleeing and there was nothing anyone could do or say to stop me. My intention, my plan, was to take whatever money I had, say my goodbyes, then head to the south where eventually my “unofficial” godparents path and mine would cross then some version of happily ever after blah blah was to manifest itself.

I was to head out alone leaving behind the turmoil that had become my life. A close friend decided her life in Boston was not for her anymore as well, so she, her boyfriend, and myself packed up and headed south. But first one last stop. One last goodbye. Again.

With fresh flowers in hand to cover my guilt, I took steps towards the spot which held my mother’s tombstone. With everything she owned still in a storage in my name, the thought of being completely disconnected overwhelmed me. I knew for some time I was leaving but now, before the representation of her, it became clear I was leaving that spot, her spot, as well. Stupid huh? Did I ever think I could take it with me? Not really but when you cross a bridge you had been putting off  you never really know what the outcome would be. I couldn’t take her with me. I couldn’t take the tombstone with me. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. So I snapped a pic. Should I have done that? Who knows. It felt weird doing it then and weirder remembering that I did now. Don’t ask why, all this was new to me.

My friends gave me all the time I needed to say goodbye but knowing we’d be driving, or at least they would since I hadn’t learned yet (don’t judge me, it was Boston and as long as I had the bus and train schedule I was fine l.o.l). I expressed my love to a piece of rock engraved with the portrait of her face. I laid down flowers which I’ve never been good at picking out, I turned and left.

The feeling of freedom I thought would come from saying goodbye and driving away from it all did not transpire. Quite the opposite in fact. At that moment, had I packed up the whole of Massachusetts and drove off with it, it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. Everything, everyone, every agony brought on by this tragedy, every last bit of it all, was in that car driving to start a new life with me.  There was no need to turn back as most do when moving away from all that they’ve known, turning to see the homes they wouldn’t see anymore and the stores they’d no longer visit, and thinking of the reasons for the move. My stuff, all of my stuff was coming along for the adventure. My baggage would have front row seats to the new me’s next move. My baggage had already begun forming the new me. I didn’t know it or I didn’t care. I’m not sure. Mostly, I didn’t want to care.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

…Sometimes we wish we knew the plans that was mapped out for our lives. When we have children we sometimes try to shape their lives with our own plans. I thought I had a plan, as unclear as it was, I thought I had one. Living blindly in grief leaves so much unnoticeable room for a plan. God’s plan. Thank God for His plans.

Wearing black…

I’m pretty sure this tradition has died down in this country if it’s not dead. I’m referring to the custom of wearing black for a period of mourning. Now a days it’s more common to see t-shirts with a portrait of a deceased loved one in honor of their memory. This however, from what I’ve witnessed, only lasts during the wakes, funerals, and any ceremonial gatherings, then end up being worn to bed or around the house etc.. To be honest I never quite understood any of it. For me it’s just one of those things we do because well because we do. I didn’t and still don’t understand what clothing has to do with honoring a loved one but I tried it and to each his/her own.

My black wardrobe journey was to last 6 months to a year from what I was told. Now if any of you, my readers, are as oldish 😉 as I  am you may remember the t.v. show  ‘Punky Brewster’. It was about the girl who never matched her clothes and loved colors. She was a regular bag of skittles to say the least. From her clothing, hair accessories, and even her room, a variety of colors were her signature look. If I remember correctly, it was an era before the rainbow was taken as a symbol of being homosexual. Punky was all about all colors of the rainbow. I was never as bad as she but I did and still do enjoy colors.

I didn’t have much black until the death of my mother. One of my aunts took me shopping and got me a few things during that time. From then on, Goretty was in black. It didn’t faze me during the funeral, the wake, and even after all the ceremonial things were accomplished. When the dust started to settle however, and it was less about gathering people for various dinners and memory get-together this and that and became more about my day-to-day life and emotions, I honestly believe that the wearing of black became less about honoring my mother and my mourning period and more about drowning in the pit of my own sorrow. It made everything worse. It forced me to remember, and you know how much I love that (sarcastically). Each time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, which I was consciously not doing as much as I could help it, I was reminded of why I was in the dark garments to begin with. I respected tradition to a point and I was doing what I felt I had to in order to please others, by no fault of their own, and to honor my mother. Was I being selfish to hate this tradition?

At the time, wearing those dark clothes formed a blanket around me, a dark harsh, burden-filled blanket, that separated me from the rest of the world or so I thought. At first I thought I’d might enjoy it to be honest because when people knew you were in mourning they tend to let you just be, in fear of saying the wrong things, again or so I thought. Not only was I feeling already on display from having been on the news and everything else but now, wearing these dark clothes was like having a billboard sign right over my head that guided people’s attentions back to that horrible day. I could barely stay in my own skin little-lone the dark materials I wore.

It wasn’t until after I moved did I decide to shed some light to my wardrobe. At first I was torn then came a bit of guilt for not lasting more than a few months. The brighter more vibrant clothing did little for my mood but I can’t say it added any more negatives as the dark ones did. That alone was a small source of relief. Very small.

I now know without a doubt that I had nothing to feel guilty about. I now know my mother didn’t require me to suffer in such a way. I now know Jesus only wants me to feel joy in my heart. I came into this world not in dark materials or colorful attires but as me. Just me. They both, my mother and my God love me for me. Goretty.

Moments that followed

So there I was, my mother had been murdered. My younger brother in a coma. My home was no longer. People either treating me with kid gloves or like a fish in a tank to be gawked at. Friends behaving as if they’d never known the real me. My then boyfriend in jail before, during, and after the tragedy of my life. And all I saw before me was the cold shadows of gloom that my home town had engulfed me in. The tall buildings caved in on me. The few trees were no longer colored in vibrant autumn hues. Smog overtook everything in my view. Not only was I buried deep inside myself but now the world around me wanted to swallow the outer parts as well. I couldn’t breathe.

Even the simple task of riding public transportation became an ordeal. A display of pitied eyes and over zealous displays of affection from random people became part of my norm. Imagine riding the same few buses for most of your life and sitting next to the same people each day, having casual conversations and random small talks before your stop to get off. Imagine those same people now unable to look you in the eyes or worse can’t stop looking. Imagine a new passenger getting too close to you on that bus which being public transportation is bound to happen. Imagine forgetting to shut your eyes to the bus stop that let people off right in front of your once apartment building, the very same apartment building you no longer resided in because your mom had been brutally murdered there. Imagine those passengers glancing over at you, anticipating a melt down once you come to that bus stop in front of that apartment complex. How did I forget to look away? Why did I not shut my eyes? Would taking the train be any different? Would it be more of a chance to bumping into people I knew? Who knows? It was unclear. Nothing these days was clear. Nothing made sense. Was this now my life?

Ugh, the feeling of uncertainty was becoming my frien-emy (friend and enemy), more so enemy, now that the thrilling spontaneity of the unknown was no longer part of its equation. Uncertainty, now was just that, uncertain, unknowing, unsure, unclear, fear-filled vagueness, and those qualities, those qualities, were not friends of mine. I was secretly afraid of them but my life now possessed nothing but. Everything was uncertain.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

…Letting go and letting God, what a concept. You mean I have to give Him those fears too?… I guess, no I’m sure, had I done that even just 3 years ago, I would be so much closer to fulfilling His destiny for me. So much wasted time holding on to stuff I honestly wanted to let go of anyway.

 

My once home

It was that time. Boy, how things moved along. We were in a special category since her death was what it was.  They couldn’t exactly kick us out in the streets. We were relocated to a much smaller apartment in another part of town. Our once 3 story apartment was to be a 3 bedroom, section 8 whatever. I had nothing against section 8 but it was just another slap in my already bruised up face. I am grateful however that we were at least of age enough to be on our own. Kinda. We all know early 20’s ain’t really adults, might as well have been 16, 17, but yea.

We had been staying with an aunt but it was time to clear out our home. The scene was no longer a part of the investigation or what have you. So my older brother and I set out to dispose, clean, and sort through 3 floors of a lifetime. As we got closer to our destination my chest reverted back to the puking feeling I dreaded, an odd feeling that resided deep in me since that day. The feeling I got the minute I was put in the back of the cop car, naked, wrapped in a sheet a female officer handed me from the house, and watched as they rolled my mother out on a stretcher. She was covered as well, completely covered with a sheet not from our home. My stomach twisted and turned. I refused to express the emotion, especially to my older brother who was dealing with his own feelings, I’m sure.

As we stood in front of the building before entering, he inquired whether or not I was scared. I said nothing. He assured me that our mothers blood should have been cleaned up. I said nothing. He then continued to say not to be afraid of ghosts or anything because if anything it was the spirit of our mother and she was all good. How I wish we had smoked before this. Or did we? That’s all I ever did anymore, well most of anything I ever did. It was whatever. So in we went.

We came through the bottom level, the living room, which I wonder if it was strategic on my brother’s part. The back door, the middle level, which we could have come in was the kitchen, where it took place. Maybe it was me, for having gone through the ordeal, but the smell of my once home was so different now. The faint smell of real authentic Haitian cooking was once a staple in our home. Now, the walls bled the odor of death muddled with the hint of bleach or whatever the city’s cleaning people used. I decided to close my senses to everything but the memories rushed over me like a wave. I wasn’t fit to ride this wave. My brother handed me an industrial sized black trash bag. I should’ve just jumped right in because that’s how I felt, like trash.

Psalms 34:17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

…I wasn’t ready to cry out to Him, not then, not the way He wanted. If I had I wasn’t sure I’d ever stop. I was a leaky faucet of emotion. A slow drip that made its appearance during appropriate times, nothing more. My few outbursts were reserved for me alone. Otherwise, I’d…I’d drown outwardly as much as I was drowning inwardly. I was fine holding it together the way I had been. I was… I was fine… I was fine.

…I held on to that lie for what seemed like forever.

3 Worst things…part 3

One So Called Friend

I always had a feeling in the back of my mind that she wasn’t a true friend to me. I should’ve went with that feeling. I was one of those who held on to friendship. I need very clear signs to know when to let go, at least then.

It was about a month and half or so, give or take a few days, since the day of burying my mother. As you know living in blissful ignorance and whatnot had become my life. Anyway, it was my dear friends birthday. If I do the math, she was about 2 years older than I so it would’ve been her 22nd or 23rd birthday. I just wanted to bury myself and self medicate. But it was her birthday and she had confided in me that her boyfriend sold marijuana. Why not kill two birds with one stone. Support my “friend” and lift my spirits as well. Her mom gave her the run of the house for the evening. My one thought was on dulling my senses.

As the small gathering continued on and more guests started to arrive so did her boyfriend. She was aware that I was looking to get high and had intentions on speaking to him about it, so when I got the opportunity I spoke to him and gave him my number for when he had what I wanted. Soon after, I left with the people I came with and went home. As we discussed the nights events, and waited on a call in anticipation on getting high, my flip phone rang. “Yes”, I thought! But when I answered it wasn’t my dealer for the evening. It was my friend. Maybe she was making sure we got home okay, but nope! The question to me was, “Did you give such and such (her man) your number at my party?” Now, not that I had a reason to for any unseemly reason, but by nature I tend to tell on myself. I don’t know, I’ve just always been that way. Anyway, so I said, “yea”, and reminded her about what I wanted and reminded her of the fact that she knew. From what I heard and understood it was clear she had never discussed it with him that I wanted his services; so great job on his part for telling her that  one of her friends passed him their number at her party; but did you tell her what and why? Put him aside, #1 You knew because we discussed it, #2 Your “friends” in the background are pumping you up ruining your vibes at your own party and #3 which hurt me the most every time I thought about it, not only did I put aside my feelings to come to your party but I was raped not even 2 months ago and all I wanted to do was self medicate and you’re accusing me of trying to get with your boyfriend. Really? Was that really how this was going down? Was this my so called friend telling me how stank I was. So called was right. I was livid and since she clearly wanted to just listen to whatever was being sung in her ear, I told her about herself then hung up. She called back. I answered and hung up. She called back. I answered and hung up. That continued for at least ten pick ups and hang ups til I finally just turned the ringer off. It was either drive back to her house to really get into it or find another dealer. The dealer was worth more of my time.

Micah 7:5 Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words.

…Nothing else need to be said.

Now in reading these latest posts on the worst things said and possibly future posts, I need you, the reader, to understand that I no longer hold any negative feelings towards the people it references. That’s one of the best things I love and appreciate about God, when He gives you peace it truly surpasses all meaning and understanding. People are people. He can move mountains, surely He can move hearts to forgive.

…And He has.

…In hindsight He was really teaching me not to rely on other means for comfort. I was a bit of a slow learner in that aspect as you’ll come to learn as you read on.

3 Worst things…part 2

IS THAT TRUE?

So this was kind of ridiculous to me but please read on. A high school acquaintance, whom I hadn’t seen since those days when the only things that mattered was if I remembered to bring my homework assignments, bumped into me at about a month or so after. I had been drowning. Drowning, almost willingly in any and everything but the truth and reality. I was doing just that when he noticed me, bumped right into me as I was headed to dance and grind away the horror that was now my reality.

It was a club we’ve been at before. It was a club in which my mothers murderer had been to as well. I never actually felt comfortable or safe there even before the incident. The people there were a little aggressive. Well, no, the women there who enjoyed the company of other women were a little aggressive, correction too aggressive. Anyway, this high school acquaintance saw me and without a breath or missing a beat he asks, “Hey is what I saw about you on the news true?” That was it, his words. With every careless word he spoke in that one question, which was more of a statement, a harsh shove and kick back to reality was what I had to endure. I wished he hadn’t been so long winded with it? I mean he could’ve just said, “Sup, you good?” His words made it clear to me that yes Goretty you are a statistic and yes people all over know about it. You can’t escape. “Yea, its true”, followed by a walk to the make shift bar was all I could muster up. I had to get away from that blunt reality he shoved me into and quick. The spot where the murderer had sat then danced was becoming all to clear to me.

Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

…Again, I’m just sayin’

 

What I need.

Right after my mom passed and everything was fresh and happening, various people and relatives feared that I wouldn’t speak after the tragic end of my mothers life. It had been a few long muted and deaf hours. I was a zombie-like form. Things moved around so fast around me. Noises blared such a high pitch that I heard nothing. My pulse raced. I knew why but didn’t at the same time. The word statistic was all that rang deep within me. Was I really that girl? Was this really happening to my family? Has what surrounded finally touched me?

After what felt like an icy cold eternity, had passed, the things slowed down. They were people. Doctors, nurses, relatives, policemen and women, and of course lets not forget the bystanders. The deafening high pitched sounds became audible. The nothingness ceased for the moment. It was the various conversations, cries, prayers and questions. I remember being shook to speak. From what was said, someone from the various groups of people desperately needed me to speak that instance. They feared I would never speak if I didn’t utter a word right then. It was the thought process of a relative. More so to stop the shaking and prompting and the being touched, I said something. Something quick like, “I’m fine.” I wished to be deaf again. That’s what I needed, or so I thought. I was too aware. Too aware of what just occurred. Too aware of the smells. Too aware of every conversation about me and my brothers. Too aware of the freezing cold that crystallized every atom of my  being. I was too aware. I hoped whatever the nurse was going to give me could minimize that feeling. That restless, overly alert feeling. No such luck. I wanted to shower. I was refused. I wanted to escape everyone, this whole moment, this whole ordeal. And where was my younger brother? None of this. None of this was what I needed.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

…I didn’t realize it then nor was I willing to accept it but He was all I needed.