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I got my living room and dining room ready to paint last night. It was a loooooot of painter’s tape. Like, a lot. I was spent by the time I finished. I headed to bed and decided to read a little of my book about Abraham Lincoln and John Brown and then go to sleep. I was soon interrupted, however, by my son telling me the toilet was flooding the bathroom. And it was.

I stood in 2 inches of water while plunging the toilet with one hand and holding up the ball float with the other. Tried to turn the water off but the valve wouldn’t budge. Once the toilet was unclogged my son helped me construct a duct tape sling to hold the ball float up while I researched how to fix it. I got out my single lady fix it guide

and it was fixed in no time. Well, it was a bit of a struggle but pretty quickly anyway.

I also replaced the P trap on my kitchen sink recently. And laid some flooring. In the past couple of years I have dealt with mice and bats, sewage back ups, the moving of numerous heavy objects and setting up of various electronics. And it makes me realize how much I let myself rely on other people to do so many things, basic things. Not just plumbing and heavy lifting. I spent so many years feeling like there were only a few very specific things I was capable in. There was always a dad or a husband to depend on. And that’s what I chose to do.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find my person and have a long term relationship but if I do, it will be very different than it always has been. Because I’m very different than I always have been. I used to want someone to take care of me and someone I could take care of. In a childlike way.

Dependent on each other, chasing and being chased by one another, idealizing and devaluing one another. Anything to avoid stillness, connection, intimacy, vulnerability. It’s not just romantic relationships. It’s with everyone in my life and even with myself.

So many people went mad with the pandemic because they were left alone with themselves. In silence and stillness. And so many of us fear it. Because we fear knowing ourselves. We fear the shame, the weaknesses, the parts we’ve been taught are unlovable. We fear ourselves. Because we are the ones that have kept us from getting that hole inside of us filled. Surely it must be our fault. And who would want to know someone like that? Spend time with someone like that?

Judith Herman says trauma is being abandoned. By everyone who was supposed to protect us, humans and God himself. But who is the one who ultimately failed us? It was us. It was me. I made my choices. I just didn’t know how bad it would get. Didn’t know it would never end.

I have a ritual I complete each time I move. My therapist taught me that when I was fixating on something I should picture taking that thought and putting it in a box and placing that box on a shelf for later. I was fixating on The Ordeal at the time so I took the court transcript and literally put it on a shelf in the hall closet. It worked. Now each time I move I take that box and put it in the hall closet of my new house. And if there is a day I need to take it down for a while, I do. And when I’m done I put it back.

My ex-husband reads this blog and looks for things to use against me. I wish he wouldn’t but such he life. My therapist asked me recently why I keep writing it if it bothers me. There are a lot of facets to that answer. One being that trauma is lonely. If you were in war or a natural disaster, you have other people who went through it with you. But most of us who were raped went through it alone. And sometimes you need to talk to someone who knows what it was like. And that person doesn’t exist. And for me, this blog, I know it reaches other people who’ve been through the same thing. Not a lot, but a few anyway. I feel like someone might be listening who understands. And sometimes, when the box is off the shelf, I really need that.

I do my best to forgive myself for the choices I’ve made because wallowing in guilt does no good and is insincere. It is an indulgence. I sit with myself, but sometimes it’s okay to need someone sitting there with you in the darkness. Not because you can’t be alone but because it would be nice to not be alone for a while.

I hope you are out there sitting with me. I hope you know I’m sitting with you too. He did unspeakable things to me. Maybe someone did to you too. I tried to not write about trauma today. I tried to write about how proud I am of myself for fixing the toilet. But I would be lying if I said the box isn’t down right now. That I didn’t read through his appeals last night, late into the night, long after the toilet was fixed and the water mopped up.

a room of one’s own

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I told you in the course of this paper that Shakespeare had a sister; but do not look for her in Sir Sidney Lee’s life of the poet. She died young—alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the cross–roads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here to–night, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. This opportunity, as I think, it is now coming within your power to give her. For my belief is that if we live another century or so—I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals—and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting–room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky. too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves; if we look past Milton’s bogey, for no human being should shut out the view; if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who were her forerunners, as her brother did before her, she will be born. As for her coming without that preparation, without that effort on our part, without that determination that when she is born again she shall find it possible to live and write her poetry, that we cannot expect, for that would he impossible. But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while. -A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf

I am no longer sleeping on the left side of the bed.

We moved this week to a beautiful house in the country with big, old pine trees. Like the ones I grew up playing in. It’s my forever home. It’s home. Finally home.

There is room to spread out in this house. We still spend a lot of time together but when we want to be alone, there are lots of lovely spots to go to. I sit in the screened in porch and watch the deer and the chipmunks and sometimes a fox. And my bedroom has a sitting room that I have made a little cozy gym. I have my own bathroom. For the first time in my life. I take long relaxing baths now. And I spread out in my bed and take up space. The luxury of space.

My heart has felt the words of Virginia Wolf for so many years. A room of one’s own. When I am overwhelmed by all the needs I am asked to meet everyday I find myself saying, can I just have ten minutes to myself, can I just have one inch that is mine alone. And now, now I have an acre. And a room. A screened in porch. A whole big bed. That is full. Of me alone.

I used to be afraid to be alone. It terrified me. I felt like I was falling into a darkness so deep and wide, with no bottom. That I would just fall forever. Afraid of hitting bottom but more afraid of never doing so. Its the fall that is intolerable. It’s a terrible thing to be afraid to be alone. You keep company with wolves because being eaten seems a better fate than being alone.

I used to be afraid to be selfish. To not be omniavailable (yes I just made up a word) to my kids, my attendings, my patients, my family, my friends. But that’s no good. Ten minutes to myself, sometimes hours or days to myself, is a beautiful thing that makes me a better mother doctor friend. And space. Space that is just my own. Whether it be my tree house in Jamaica or the back room of my office in Grove City or my Mini or my queen size bed.

I wish I could give this to my female patients instead of medication. Space to themselves instead of tiny falling down houses with 6 or 7 people on top of each other. Time. Without kids or work or toxic family. But a lot of them would be terrified by it. We are raised to be this way. To stay small and not take up room. To give ourselves away. Inch by inch, moment by moment. Chipping away the boundaries. To be terrified of our own freedom, afraid to declare our time and space and bodies and thoughts and feelings and wants and needs our own.

And words. To claim our words, our voice, our writing, our ideas, our cadence, our beauty.

There was a time in my life I read Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac and dreamed of all the life that lay outside my little town in the country. All I had ahead of me. The life I would live. Of revolution and gorgeous poetry and art and fascinating people slightly mad but mainly genius burning brightly, so bright.

I have lived intensely and now I am ready to be content, back in the country. Back to my own bed in my own room as it was then. Time to myself, to read and savor and enjoy. My kids are the ones heading out into the world. Beyond the pine trees and the covered porch and sometimes a fox. While I spread out in my bed in the quiet of my room and write you these words of my very own. Send them out into the world and hope they land where they’re meant to. Here in a room of my own.

i would be a terrible dance teacher

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I’ve done this dance as long as I can remember

(not the foxtrot. We did that in Gym and I was awful)

This dance of give and give and be who they want and not who they don’t and when they step on your toes don’t say a word because they might leave you and dance without someone else, someone who doesn’t complain when they step on their toes. So even if your toes are raw and bleeding and you can barely stand up, you keep dancing, because the only way to win is for the dance to last Forever

But

Inevitably it gets to be too much and you realize how messed up this dance is and so you leave. It’s always better to be the one who leaves. And if you should find yourself in that old familiar black hole, well, you’ll figure that out when it comes

They used to have these dance marathons for charity on sitcoms where the couple who stops dancing last is the winner and they’d dance all day and all night and wacky funny things would happen. But really what happens when you lose if you quit dancing is that you get so damn tired and bitter and hopeless and then that’s all your children know of life

They need to know it is not healthy at all to dance all night and all day no matter what the cause. They need to know the Baker bunion is not inevitable just because every other female in the family has it. And so, you sit and rest. You know now in your bones that there are a lot of ways to win, not just dancing forever. Know that bone that is your bunion has been trying to tell you this all these years but you wouldn’t listen. Maybe you thought you deserved to live that way. Maybe you taught them they deserve to live that way. But not anymore.

I was so afraid she’d disappear and never come back. And she did. Afraid if I said even the littlest thing out of line and I was right.

I was so close to invisible I thought I’d found heaven when I heard those words that day. To be so watched you must do everything right and yet not seen at all. And so I see them dancing the dance. And I hope I show them that the way to win isn’t to never stop. That it’s just a silly show and at the end of the day the best part is getting to rest with your feet up at home with the people that love you. And to choreograph your own life to your own song with an audience of one.

Cha cha cha

christofascism

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Nowhere in the Bible does it say life begins at conception. Nowhere in the Bible does it say 10 year old girls ought to carry and birth their father’s baby if he chooses to rape her which fathers sometimes do. To think this is what God would want says an awful lot about a person. And it isn’t good.

Howard Zinn says you can’t be neutral on a moving train and so I want to hear from my Christian sisters today. I want to hear them screaming for the women who will die, the girls who will die, for the dreams that will die. They asked Jesus the most important commandments and he said love God and love one another. Why is that so fucking hard for so many ChRiStIaNs?

Contraception is next. Do you know I didn’t use contraception for years and I’ve never been a fan and it’s failed me on occasion and I still will give my all to defend our right to it. Do you know the horrors I have seen come of lack of access to effective contraception? Where are you my fellow Christians? With your youth groups and your worship songs and your testimony? Jesus hung with the prostitutes and the lepers. She had two beautiful kids and a hole inside of her so wide and so deep because she’d never been loved and only ever been hurt and that third baby done did her in and now all three of the babies are with someone else and she is in jail detoxing meth psychosis and I miss her so damn much. She chopped wood at 8 months pregnant to try to make enough money to keep the water on. And where were you? At yOuTh GrOuP

I sat in my car and cried for the world we’ve given our kids. I tried. I believed. But here we are. Poor lost children of Eve banished from Eden. But Eden wasn’t enough. Or maybe it was too much. We wanted that apple and who could blame us? How boring a perfect life must be. So huddle together in this Whale with me and let us tell each other tales until the light goes out.

addicted

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all of my patients are physically dependent on opioids. ICD 10 F11.20. some of them are addicted to opioids. a lot of them aren’t.

maybe you’re physically dependent on something. for which there is no ICD 10 code. caffeine, zoloft, dopamine, adrenaline. maybe you’re addicted. coffee, zoloft, social media, shopping, toxic relationships, speeding, gossip, little debbie Christmas tree cakes, work, success, sex, HGTV.

maybe you think I’m being cute. or metaphorical. just making a point. no one goes to rehab for gossip addiction (maybe they should). no one goes to jail for possession of little debbie Christmas tree cakes (maybe no one should go to jail for possession of anything. maybe the jails are a crime)

addiction is an escape from the pain of being human. being human is more painful for some than others. but it is painful for all of us. and if someone tells you it isn’t, that is because they are so deep in their addiction, they have lost touch entirely.

eve and adam ate that apple and it all went to shit, you see. our eyes were opened and sickness and pain and toil entered the stage. we all fell down, down, down. and ever since, we have very logically sought to numb the pain of it. because there is no way up, up, up. not in this life anyway.

we are afraid. to hope, to love, to ask for love, to speak our truth, to share our pain, to need or be needed, to want or be wanted. we are afraid to take up space and that we might disappear, to be silenced and to be heard, to be alone and that we might make a genuine connection. we are afraid we are unlovable and that to be loved would be the most unbearable pain imaginable. or perhaps, worse than that, ecstasy.

in addiction we connect with other people. no we don’t. we are with people and we are less lonely and so we think we are connecting. logical. understandable. but let me tell you a story about the time my friends let G die when he overdosed because they were high too and didn’t want to get in trouble and i knew they loved drugs more than they loved me or each other. and the time i went back to my dopamine adrenaline filled emotional intimacy free relationship because right at that moment i loved it more than my kids and i do not want to tell you that but how else can we do better?

and they told me my son played next to other children but not with other children and that he was too old for parallel play. but tell me how much time adults spend engaging with other people and not engaging next to other people? are we connecting spiritually or are we churching next to one another? and those residents we work 90 hours a week with that we save and lose lives with, do we know them at all? and so pass the pipe and hand me that spoon and we will share a hit of Netflix and yoga and pumpkin spice latte next to one another in this Fallen World.

there is no ICD 10 code for the unbearable lightness of being but maybe there should be

Fuck Ted Bundy

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Flesh of my flesh

Bone of my bone

Leave your parents cleave to me 

I am your new home

Home forever

Til death do us part

And if I make you yearn for that end 

Why that’s hardness in your heart

For if you love God

You love marriage, you love me 

And you know when God joins together

You’ll never be free

Free to be who you really are

To follow the fate signed in your stars

No you are mine and I am yours 

Don’t lock your phone 

Don’t lock your doors

We are one in heart and soul 

We are both driven by the hole 

left behind by the barren wombs that birthed us underneath the moon

Mother moon has cried for us while Brigid’s fire inspired us 

To reach for something better than us 

Wait Did I say us? 

I meant me. 

You conjure planks in all our eyes 

But yours are fine 

(It’s a disguise) 

A pleasant reflection outside of you 

Rot and decay is what is true

What god has joined together I will put asunder 

For how can we be one when your trunk is putrid and diseased at its core?

Swoop up the fruit before it hits the floor 

If you can tell a tree by the fruit it bears you’ve done a damn good job of fooling God 

For our children are precious fruit indeed 

Owing little to your bitter seed 

They grow and bloom in spite of you 

Soaring so far past the height of you 

Knowing there is something not right with you

People look at the women that fell in love with Ted Bundy

Stood by Ted Bundy

Accepted a proposal in a courtroom from Ted Bundy

And they think these women are naive or dumb or victims themselves

But has it ever occurred to you that they were there because being in love with Ted Bundy worked for them?

Instead of looking at him as this charming manipulative sociopath fooling these women

Has it occurred to you that she was manipulating him too?

Judas and Ted Bundy and Jeremy Noyes 

Sinners that God so loved he gave his only son 

God and Abraham would sacrifice their sons for the sins of the world

And so do you think yourself holy when you hurt your kids to hurt their mother? To punish her for leaving? For putting asunder what You joined together?

Because it was never about God 

And always about you 

And you, are a jealous and vengeful little demigod 

So easily beat by Brigid and Mother Moon

Viva la Revolucion

Two years ago today I did a brave thing and I’m so glad I did. The world may be collapsing right now, but it’s collapsing around us, not in on us. We are safe inside together. Laughing, crying, fighting, forgiving, growing, playing, creating and eating whatever we damn well please. Thank you God for delivering us.

silver gray honey

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We got engaged in December. It was cold and clear. In front of cameras of course (it doesn’t count if no one’s watching).

The next day, it began. It was cold and sharp. In my car along the Turnpike (with no one watching, of course).

I wouldn’t say the real you came out because I don’t think there is a real you.

You are honey mixed with gray silver micah. Lacking form and shape. You cannot be held but you stick and don’t let go. Clinging to my hands and I cannot quite get all of you off my skin. Dirt and remnants of what was and what wasn’t latched on.

I soak them in water. Warm and clear. And I watch as you dissolve and wash down my drain.

An ee Cummings poem for your Monday

i like my body when it is with your

body. It is so quite new a thing.

Muscles better and nerves more.

i like your body. i like what it does,

i like its hows. i like to feel the spine

of your body and its bones, and the trembling

-firm-smooth ness and which i will

again and again and again

kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,

I like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz

of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes

over parting flesh. . . . And eyes big love-crumbs

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new

-ee Cummings

the tap shoes daddy spray painted silver for your first recital

waiting

for the other shoe to drop, to drop and disappear

waiting

for the dust to settle, to see if you’re still here

is it still you or someone else

someone with fangs and claws

someone from the darkness

see that’s why I need this pause

the earth and the wind and the water and the fire

spinning round and round and round

down the hill arms crossed hitting bumps, rocky ground

and once I hit one of those rocks just right

and

it knocked the wind out of me

and I was so scared that I might

never breathe again, might die right there and then

might have already had my last breath

but didn’t know it when

I drew it because I hadn’t hit that rock

and I never saw it coming

tumbling down the hill so innocently humming

the songs that go round and round your head

when you’re young and stupid and

sleeping in your twin bed with

your Kurt Cobain poster on the ceiling above

on the phone til 1 AM because

you’re so fucking in love

the way you love

when you’re young and stupid and

don’t see the rocks coming

the ones that will knock the wind right out of you

as the end of innocence comes running

to take away

your naivete

go head and pray

it’s end of day

now you’ll find your way

in this brand new play

whose lines you don’t yet know

a different kind of show

all the other players, though,

seem to know which way to go

and so you follow along

mouthing the words to the songs

Mama said don’t watch the other girls dancing

don’t copy them

You know the dance

So, dance

the way mama taught you

But those days are over

and

you’re standing on a a new kind of stage

you can look but there’s no lines on the page

it’s a brave new world you’re making up as you go

now on with the show