Familiar ground

I lived like a child, only enjoying what gave instant pleasure. What’s wrong with that some may ask? Well when you’re a childlike adult who thrives on pleasure and instant gratification, many things can and did go wrong. I made such poor decisions that I found myself in similar situations I was running from. One of my deepest fears was repeating that day but my new beginning in Florida became a sun-shinier version of the one I left behind.

My life was becoming an endless cycle of nothingness wrapped in my own gross misconduct to cover up my ball of anguish. And as much as I went searching for pleasure I was ending up wallowing in despair, fear, and anxiety. Not enough words to explain the eye of the tornado I was living in within myself. Emotions I felt that day wrapped in the new ones I created through various horrible actions, decisions and my masochist behavior was destroying me. I was destroying me. I was helping the enemy in his quest and had no idea.

I recall a time, the feeling, the fear, the not knowing what was to come of this particular moment in time, it was all rushing back with every breath, and every step forward. If it weren’t for God’s grace I know I would’ve been raped…again. Why was I surprised though? I had been living blind, decidedly blind, not realizing I was putting myself back in those same sort of circumstances. You know, sometimes it was almost as if I was giving away pieces of myself, time, money, heart, whatever was left of it anyway, just giving pieces away so I wouldn’t feel as if it was being taken. Giving of oneself not wholeheartedly, to be able to endure and avoid the feeling of being seized, captured, or possessed. Give so you won’t feel like you’re being taken advantage of….but you are. That was my new beginning. That was my existence. Living to avoid reliving but walking a fine line on familiar ground.

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

…The former things were stalking me and had made their way into the present. I didn’t perceive what He had planned. I was too busy trying, on my own, to escape. My now, then, was that wasteland. It was so hard to forget. I later realized not dwelling in it didn’t mean I had to forget or that I should. I wanted to though. I think. The pain I felt was overwhelming but like the memories that haunted me, they were mine. Or so I thought.

The sounds that plagued me

I thought I’d be terrorized for the rest of my days. Memory is something else I tell ya. For a while I thought perhaps I was one of those people compared to an elephant because my memory was so in tack. I realized my mind had another mind, one of its own. That mind was selective. Drawn only to those memories that rendered me a coward, jumping out of my skin at every turn at what seemed to birth a déjà vu moment. Numbing those senses was my only refuge during those in the valley moments of my life.

The crashing of pots and pans that resulted in her facial disfigurement. The sounds of feet, in haste, rushing down flights of stairs to her rescue. Rescue from what, at that  moment, we did not know. Those are the sounds that plagued me. The meeting of metal to the skull then the resounding clanging as that piece of metal hit the tile floors. The slamming of a bathroom door. The rummaging of a not so much a stranger aimlessly looking to destroy whatever crossed his path. Those are the sounds that plagued me. The shouts to go away and what are you doings spilling out from a crackled voice that was my own.

Many more sounds followed but the two that haunted me to the point of…I couldn’t speak of them were the laughter and gargling. The laughter, the sick almost clownish, empty giggling laughter of a once welcomed individual, that sound, that horribly frightening sound, followed me even as I slept. There were many horrific sounds. None however, can top the gargling. The gargling at times brought me to my knees. Not to pray but to force the noise out by squeezing my ears against my head tight enough between the palm of my hands, fighting back tears and hoping to pass out into a deep dream-free slumber. A vain attempt because I longed for dream-free rest that never came. Remove my innermost memories was my wish, my only wish, in those times. Gargling, trying to breathe through a mouthful of ones own blood. I misspoke, or mis-wrote…whatever, what tops that sound was much worse. The sound that tormented me more than the agony of hearing her struggle to breath as she choked on her own fluid of life was the sound that followed. The sound when she was unable to struggle for life any longer. So now the sounds of silence had its own torment to dish out.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers (Goretty, readers, you) whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.

Being able to put aside memories that stalked my every waking and sleeping moments was a far more difficult task for mere puffs of smoke and or gulps from a bottle could handle. But what grace. What mercy. What honest to goodness breath of fresh air it is to be able to sort through the silence and noise and hear my Jesus. He calls on to me through it all. And now, now a shower behind closed doors with my children on the other side making various noises and slamming this bedroom door and crashing that toy truck against the other, those noises are exactly what they are. Just that.

Philippians 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Back up to Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Very deep sigh. Jesus is so awesome ya. So very awesome.

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.