Fogged up and Damp

If I remember correctly it hadn’t been 3 months and I was back. It felt longer but the type of longer that didn’t make the heart go fonder. At least by the time I had settled into my stay anyway. The moments before that was cool. Getting ready for a trip no matter how tight things may be, or how uncomfortable the trip itself will be, is an exciting pass time. But like I said…then you get settled in.

Goodbye to sunny palm trees of turmoil, hello fogged up and damp well of woes. The chill of the air infused with my deepest grievances overcame me the moment I stepped off the plane. The thrill of packing for a trip was over. The measure of excitement was equal to the measure of knowing it was a “have to trip”. While the reason for the trip was being handled, yet another struggle in itself but it wasn’t mine to enclose in this blog, I had to partake in my own personal realities.

Forms and signatures. Being that I moved, they came as I came. I came and there I was. Various forms had to be signed. Forms that when signed on the dotted line closed a chapter of her life for good. Various forms that finalized everything. I no longer sign my name that way. Not sure how much of a conscious decision that was.

Visiting family and familiar faces after a tradgey…my opinion…take small bites. It doesn’t matter what stage you are in finding peace, rubbing two open wounds together can never be a good thing. And it wasn’t.

With hugs and kisses genuine enough one wouldn’t realize the CA-BOOM! that was about to occur. I knew better. I’m good for that, knowing when the slip was coming, no matter how slight the implication. The emotions were brewing and it was a matter of time. I either reminded every one of the one they lost, the one I lost or their grief brought on the ever popular yelling and the blame game. They reminded me of who I was sorely lacking in becoming or ever could be. I reminded myself of that as well. I lacked so much. I lacked the ability to deal with it. With them. Our emotions were like a can of soda being shook everyday since I was there last and now that I was back, well you know what happens to shaken cans. Drowning our sorrows, laughing and yelling through the elephant sized void we felt so deeply, we all dealt. Dealt with it all one way or another.

I dealt.

…But all the while Jesus had already won the game on my behalf, over the pain, over the anger, over the blame.

…Jesus been dealt.

From peace to wandering feet.

So I said to Amithys, my furry child, “you left your peace to chase feet.” You see she had been lying atop the large sectional, head stretched out peering through the window, just plain ole’ chillin’, til’ I made a movement that is. Next thing I hear is the sound of her bell from around her collar, jingling as she followed behind me. She had no regards to her own comfort and peace. She didn’t bother for a second to stay put and continue basking in the warmth of the sun that shown through the large window. Her peace wasn’t as important to her as it was to follow my wandering feet. It was quite cute and funny as she stretched out each step to fully awaken herself.

As the words, “you left your peace to chase feet” left my lips, I giggled but quickly thought to myself, “Goretty, how about marinating on that for a while yourself?” I don’t take credit because I’m not that brilliant. My Spirit, however, loves to convict me, no matter how silly the reference. You gotta admit it was a profound thought for early in the morning, pre-caffeine.

I mean think about it for a sec. How often have you found yourself soaking in the warmth of peace and harmony, looking good, feeling good, having somewhat of a balance in life then all of a sudden BOOM! You, yourself stray to follow whatever peace hindering whim that comes about. Some may say, “oh that’s just you being you” or even “she’s spontaneous and goes after things”, which may look okay from the outside but what are you chasing? I had to ask myself some important questions. Do I subconsciously crave drama? I don’t believe so. Do I fear calmness? Maybe but why? Do I feel worthy of peace? Sometimes… I mean why do I deserve it? Asking myself these questions and digging a little deeper than comfortable to seek the answers is helping me to reclaim and hold on to my peace for longer periods of time. Of course I have to continue to ask myself these types of questions and be honest with myself. You can’t lie to yourself about yourself. At least you really shouldn’t because if and when you start to believe those lies yourself… ohhh boy…To regain peace, you’ll have to have your pieces not someone else’s or made up pieces. Imagine two different puzzles. The pieces from one cannot complete the other. When dealing with yourself, it’s all about you, the true you.

But the kicker, as unique you and your ‘what matters’  are and no matter how unique others are and their issues we have a chance, an opportunity to receive peace if we accept a gift that only God can provide and when that gift speaks decide. Decide to be still and listen. Peace is coming. When The Holy Spirit speaks it may be hard to listen at times. Amithys is a mere kitten and we are mere human beings. Like Amithys however, when I said lay down and stay still she continued on, still unfamiliar to my authority and commands, she purred about, jingling behind my feet when my commands were clear.

For so long in this journey, a journey to me, a journey to peace, each coming with their own set of struggles and continuing growth, a journey to my Jesus and his gift to me, The Holy Spirit, I was unfamiliar to the voice. I blatantly ignored nudging warnings at times. I dulled the voice of the one who held my peace and kept it safe for me. I would find a sense of peace for a while to only find a new thing to chase which brought on its own particular brand of misery. Of course some of these times, these so-called peace moments, overtime proved to never have been to begin with, peaceful I mean. And some instances, I believe you’ll find you’ve strayed way too far and dulled your senses too profoundly to even hear the loudest call of the Spirit. Those are the scariest parts of life in my opinion. But even those times, even those unbelievably scary moments in life, you are not alone.

Be still, call out to Him, and listen. Don’t remove yourself from God-given peace. Because the rest, well the rest are just other pieces to someone else’s puzzle. They mimic happiness and contentment but in truth they won’t fit. You are unique and only He can give you your brand of peace. He has the missing piece. He is the missing piece.

…I’ve written a few blog posts now and I don’t know why but this one had me a little more than kind of nervous. Hope it was a blessing 🙂

 

As time went on

It bothered me for many years.

I never understood why I had to carry this particular burden.

The burden of memory.

No matter how selective, no matter how much consumption of the world around me, the memory was mine and mine alone.

My mother could never be a reliable witness and my younger brother’s coma caused memory loss, to this day he remembers very little. I use to think him lucky. I, not only carried the burden of remembering, but always lacked the knowledge of why. Why do the memories conceived that Sunday morning have to be carried by me? For a while I thought it was my punishment. After all it couldn’t have been a reward, right?

It wasn’t fair, I thought. I would never put this burden of the mind on anyone.  And it was lonely. It was so very lonely. The gruesome scene, which tore apart my sense of safety and shredded any happy moments that occurred in my home prior, replayed itself bit by terrifying bit on a daily basis in my mind.  My life quickly became ridiculous, to me anyway, but it didn’t matter.

The awe and newness of sunshine, palm trees, and orange farms quickly dissipated. Trying to settle in a new place and meet new people always came with the agonizing question of where are you from. And yet again another rewind of flashbacks. My overly blunt responses, “she was murdered”, became a shield. That unfeeling, guarded mask of an answer seemed to stop the flood of memories, for a while, and any further questioning of my past. Saying it and not feeling it was a great deterrence for a short while. That is until I started to feel like I was living in a much sun shinier version of Boston. The walls were brighter but closing in all the same.

So let’s get a job and party on weekends and as much as possible. We needed a job or else how would we party?

If you’ve ever heard of a functional alcoholic then you can understand what I mean when I say by the time I was truly settled in Florida I was a functional partier. The only time I felt sane enough that my  loneliness, insecurities,  fears and memories didn’t attach me was when I could drown it, smoke it, and forcefully laugh it away. What a miserable time that was.  What liars laughs can be. What dishonesty a smile hides. What turmoil dancing feet carry. She was murdered. Quick, simple truth that bear no feeling but held every emotion all at once. Most responded with  blank, confused for a moment looks. Some with, “are you serious?” I couldn’t say which I preferred. Even now. No response could have made me feel any better in all honesty. Nothing could.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

…I walked and talked through my lie, my fear-filled lie. The on point smile and just the right amount of laughter did more than just keep questions at bay. It enclosed my heart and prevented my eyes from truly seeing. He was there. All the while He was there.

…Tears form as I remember how much time I wasted in the pits that kept me shut off from my life, from my God.

…Today, gratefulness.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.