free thought ramblilng

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I’m missing something, inside. It’s something that was never really there, but having him in my life made me feel as though it was. The pain he caused made my insides feel full…bursting at the seems at all times. I was an emotional Roman alone in my vomitorium, awaiting the next course.

Tonight, I feel the vacuous me that I am. Neither drug, nor drink can stir any emotion but dread. The dread one might feel as they stand at cliff’s edge, wondering if someone might come along and give them a push. Because that’s all I need. I need push. A reason. The lightest tap will do.

In my wildest dreams, I never thought he’d die. I wished it, begged God for it…There were many times that I was close to dispatching him, myself. The love his sons had for him saved his sorry ass. I think that’s part of why I feel like I do. I am shocked that I didn’t kill him. Is that bad? I don’t know anymore. I honestly don’t. He always said I was a sociopath. If I were, he’d have been gone long ago. I’m only a woman who has lived with a fucking pain machine for three decades. That’s all. I. Am. Only. A. Woman.

I feel as though I’m dying, too. I can feel the cold of the Darkness inside of me. It’s all consuming, and something I haven’t felt in a very long time. Even as a child, it was there. I was a child living in a world of degenerates. Every minute of spare time was spent tagging along from one bar to the next with my grandparents, who raised me. It isn’t easy for a girl child in those circumstances. My Darkness saved me. It allowed me to recognize the Darkness in others and, knowing mine was always stronger, as my grandmother taught me, I was able to deal with them. These disgusting men with their wandering eyes…hands…stealing kisses from a child. Disgusting maggots. I wish I’d had the ability to kill every, single, one. I never told my dad because I knew that he WOULD kill them. My grandmother knew, but did nothing about it. I quickly learned the art of being frozen in a smile. I was a mimic; a puppet with no emotion of her own, only that which she adopted from others.

I don’t understand how his death has brought these things up in my mind and heart. I don’t allow these thoughts in my world. They are lighting in a storm, already raging. Perhaps it’s because I have never had a moment on my own. Truly on my own. I went from home to being a wife, mother, reconciled with my own mother…the list is long. Maybe the pain was good for me because it occupied my mind. And there was love. There were good times. Great times, even. But things didn’t end well between he and I. And, the second he was gone, I felt it…the Darkness at my shoulder. Within a week, the memories came to the forefront, tired of their home in the recesses of my brain, I suppose. They seem to have mixed quite well with the guilt and sorrow and grief. I feel like a playground for devils and fallen angels. Overrun and pushed around. Yet, I know that nothing they do can compare to the damage I can do to myself, of my own free will.

I’m tired now. Meds are finally beginning to do their job. I hope to sleep tonight. I hope he stays put and leaves me alone. I want him to go on to wherever he is supposed to be and leave me be. I want to close my eyes and see nothing but blackness. No faces. Not his, not anyone’s. I just want to be left alone to figure out who I’m supposed to be. It has to happen soon, or I’ll cease to be.

f.u.

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I miss Bennie today. Can’t put my finger on why. I just do. Fuckin bullshit. He’s dead and suddenly I give a shit. There was a time when I’d lie awake at night praying for his death, fully expecting that, sooner or later, it would come by way of my own hands. Now, I’m falling apart without him. I’m so angry with myself for that. I did love him. From the second I ever laid eyes on him. But, that’s the problem with me…Once I love someone, I won’t let them go or let them down if there’s any possible way to avoid it. I’m what you call a stupid bitch like that.

Jay called yesterday. We were talking about our phone plan and he mentioned that he had taken his dad’s memory card out of his phone. I told him that it was ok, I’d pick it up next time I was down there in case there was anything special on it. He said, “No, Mom…I still have his laptop and I put everything you need off the card onto it.” Sonofabitch! I knew there was shit on that card, but I didn’t want to see it. I wanted to keep our boys from seeing it. All the time, Jay was worried about what I’d find. I love that kid. Both of my boys are good men. But, I’d never have put that on one of my sons. Never.

 

…and then he was gone. – Pt.2

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At 9:30 a.m., on the morning that they say Bennie died, I was asked to leave his room so that they could perform a sterile procedure. Minutes earlier, I had given written consent to one of the ghouls to allow him and his cohorts to attempt dialysis. I made it clear that this was their only shot. I could not bring myself to pull the plug, nor did I realize that it was within my legal ability to do so, at the time. Honestly, the thought did not cross my mind.

I was escorted to the waiting room where I encountered a woman I’d met the night before. She and her sister were there for the duration, as their brother was receiving a liver transplant. Both were very kind and sociable women in their late 50’s. I politely engaged in light conversation with them for a few minutes, then turned to the window and tried to pretend I was somewhere else.

The scenery was industrial and, to me, beautiful. I greatly enjoy the shape of things meant to work, maintain or create. Those things interest me. And so I sat in total silence, listening to the sisters giggling and staring through the glass. Suddenly, a flutter caught my eye. It was a sparrow that had flown from beneath a nearby overhang. I watched fly for a second, maybe two, then it fell out of the sky onto the roof of the building below. It flipped and flopped for a good half minute before giving up and dying. I even took a picture of it. I was so shocked I couldn’t even call the sisters over to have a look. All of everything inside of me was focused on the sparrow and I knew then, more strongly than I ever knew before, that Bennie had died.

I couldn’t help but cry when I saw this terrible confirmation of my feeling. It was a bit after ten, so I called the nurse’s desk and she said it could take a bit longer, not to worry. I got lost in the blue sky that presented itself so gloriously on the other side of the window. You could see beyond the buildings, all the way to the Gulf. Pelicans flew their patrols in groups, as always. My eyes could not get enough of them as I sat there wondering what was going to happen once he passed. I tried to remember all of his funeral songs and which tee shirt he wanted to be dressed in. I couldn’t remember a thing, but it gave me something to occupy my brain with.

The younger sister had gone to visit her brother in his room for a few minutes. When she returned, I heard her saying that there was a big commotion going on ‘back there’. She said someone was dying and that every doctor and nurse on the floor was in the room. I turned and asked if it was the first room on the left. She said that it was. I told her it was Bennie and that he wasn’t coming back. I let more time pass before I called again. It was around noon. The nurse told me the same thing as before. I thanked her and hung up. I wondered if they were preparing his body, somehow, since I knew he was dead. I thought that they might be taking the tubes away and whatsuch. The sisters kept asking if I was okay and if I wanted cookies or a sandwich from the giant bag they’d packed. I tried to just be quiet and think.

Two more hours rolled around before I called the nurse, again. There was noise in the background this time. Her voice was shaking as she reassured me, finally telling me she’d send a person to come get me soon. The older sister had, by now, gone back to see her brother. She had trouble walking and complained quietly to the younger sister that she had to take the long way ’round because the hallway was blocked with machines and people. I could still hear her, though. They began to speculate on whether, or not, Bennie would survive. Then, out of nowhere, a young girl appeared. She asked me to come with her. As soon as we cleared the waiting room, she took my arm and said we’d be talking in the conference room. Everyone knows what that means. Oh, shit…

I walked into a huge room with an equally huge conference table. At the end nearest the door sat the anesthesiologist and, across from her, a doctor. The girl that brought me there pulled the seat at the head of the table out and asked me to sit down. The doctor immediately began his routine…’Ma’am, we’ve been doing chest compressions for two hours and he is not responding….’. I went crazy when he said that. I told him to tell those bastards to get their hands off of Bennie NOW. The doctor just stared blankly at me like he didn’t understand why I wasn’t thanking him. I repeated myself, even louder, until the anesthesiologist finally got off her ass and went to tell them to stop. I asked the doctor if they could please removed the machinery before my sons arrived. He agreed, and left the room. I called both of the boys, but told neither that their father had passed. I didn’t want them driving with that in their heads. They would find out soon enough. I called my mother…

I’m not sure how long I spent in the conference room. It was so quiet and serene in that room. But, when I came out and went into Bennie’s room, my mother and older brother were already there. A very attractive young doctor came in to explain that they did the very best they could. I asked him to stop the bullshit because the best they could have done was let him die with some dignity. I told him that I did not want to hear another thing about it and I wanted him to leave. He asked if I’d sign papers donating organs for research before he left. I told him that I would not, since they’d experimented enough, already. Again, he came back with more soft voiced reassurances that they were, in fact, a team of heroes who’d given their all. He just could not stop himself from trying to paint the situation into a pretty picture. I told him that they are only people and that there was nothing good that came from what they did and that they knew they couldn’t save him. I asked why they’d do chest compressions on someone with no brain activity…someone they already knew would be paraplegic. Not to mention that they did that on someone who had a chest full of microscopically attached arteries and such. Did they plan to send home a biologically functional meat sack? Was that the goal? Would they have considered THAT a success? Why would anyone do that? Dr. Goodlooking didn’t like my line of questioning and he did finally leave the room. Thank God.

The rest of the afternoon and evening went much as you’d think it would. Now, it’s…now. I’m alone. The boys are doing fine. Life goes on. I left some details out of this story because they are simply too painful to recall. I have never witnessed anything as horrific as I did in the 14 hours I spent with Bennie’s corpse throughout the night and morning after his surgery. I know that I’ll never be the same again. Maybe life feels a little more valuable to me, at this point. Moreso, the end of life seems more precious to me. We have a right to die with dignity. No doctor should be able to rush us into emergency surgery that we don’t want simply because they can’t legally give you some pain medication and put you in a quiet room until the event occurs. They knew Bennie would die that day. By their own account, he’d have been dead in five seconds after the aneurysm burst. Instead, they subjected him to what was supposed to be a twelve hour procedure, even though they closed him up after eight, then put him on life support just to cover their asses, as far as I can tell. His kidneys had stopped functioning during surgery. That certainly coincides with the cause of death on the death certificate. Then they did two hours of chest compressions to finish up the show? I haven’t seen anything that says that’s protocol. I’m so disturbed by it all that I can’t sleep well. It’s just all too, too much. And it always will be.

a monday evening sing-song

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people gather ’round, like sheep

where bloody, broken bodies keep

laid to rest, beneath our feet…

tell me this, love

tell me true

are you happy now?

what say, you?

do you think  you’ve finally won your race?

did you run it well…keep the pace?

or is your peace tainted by regret?

my love, were you not ready yet?

did the Reaper catch you by surprise?

did he show Himself, or bear disguise?

you must answer, sweet love of mine

for, i fear, that i’ll not have the time

once my own clock starts ticking down

to make my peace ‘fore He comes around

there is much i have not finished yet

’tis too soon for me to go, my pet

but when the day comes that i do

i pray God keep me far from you

now answer my questions

tell me true

what have you to say, love?

what say, you?

666 Memory Lane

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It’s a peaceful morning here, as usual. Miss Cocoa has taken up a spot in the litter box and the girls are outside rolling around and playing in the sunshine. As for me, I’m just smoking and waiting for my pain pills to work so I can clean the kitchen.

I haven’t cleaned since Bennie passed. I keep putting it off, thinking that, if I take his cup off the table by his chair, he’ll be gone for good. But he’s already long gone and I’m being silly. In the back seat of my truck are two large plastic bags, full of the work clothes he took with him when he left for his last job. My brother loaded them up for me when I came home two weeks ago. I need to bring them in and hang them up, wash what needs to be washed, and find someone who could use them. They’re all fire retardant and are very expensive to buy. I know there’s a young hand out there needing work clothes and feel terrible about keeping them. I just don’t want to bring them in. I don’t want to touch them. And I don’t know why.

Life with Bennie was difficult, to say the least. He made sure of it. He cheated on me before our first anniversary, and never stopped. He seemed to enjoy ‘accidentally’ letting me find out. It hurt so much, at first. I thought I’d die, honestly. But, I was busy raising our boys and they worshiped their father, as he did them. I could never justify hurting them by taking them away. I even asked Bennie if he’d keep the boys and let me go. He said there was no way he’d do that. So, I stopped taking his cheating personally and went on with life.

I think what I hated more, much more, than his cheating was his bullying. He hit me a few times over the years, shoved me around, spit in my face. Just bully shit. Once, he got a butcher knife out and I figured I was about to get it. He had it raised over his head and I was just staring at it. I knew that, coming downward that way, it was gonna hurt like a motherfucker. I saw his arm start to move and shut my eyes, but, instead of stabbing me, he brought the knife down and stuck it into the kitchen table. When he did, his hand slid down and it cut the shit out of his hand. I was shocked. He was shocked, too. I grabbed the first aid kit and wrapped his hand up for him. Things were very quiet after that and, a few hours later, we went to his mother’s house for gumbo. The boys were already there, as they spent most weekends with his mother. His whole family was there, as well. They thought the cut was a defensive wound and they were very outspoken about it, even in front of my boys. I couldn’t tell them the truth, so I left.

Looking back, our relationship was very abusive. He knew I loved him with all of my heart, and he used that as a weapon against me. Eventually, I just stopped feeling a lot of things. It’s funny…the things you can get used to just to get by. I really hated the screaming. Bennie would get so angry that his face would turn red and he’d shake. He’d get right in my face, almost touching nose to nose, and he’d scream at the top of his lungs calling me every name he could think of. I was raised in a violent home, so it probably never bothered me as much as it should have. I had no natural fear of violence…still don’t…so I’d just sit perfectly still and zone out while he screamed. Spitting in my face was always the grand finale. I knew that, if I had moved an inch, he would have beaten my ass, so I almost feel fortunate that I was raised the way I was.

There is so much more to recall about that man. Things I don’t want to recall. I guess that I need to accept that he never loved me like I loved him, even in the end. One of the last text messages he sent was to a woman who he’d been seeing off and on throughout our marriage, long before we were separated. She wanted him to leave me and be with her. He told her that he couldn’t, or I’d get half of everything. The thing is, we were going to hire surveyors to split this land in half after he got off of this job, but I told him that I’d be fine with the back eight acres and a tiny house. That parcel is on a separate deed and he could just do a family sale to me. Done deal. That was the plan. He got everything but just one little bit. He’d have lost virtually nothing.

Bennie passed on a Friday, so it was the following business day, Monday, before I could do anything like an obituary. I went on his FB and let his friends and relations know what had happened. The next day, I checked his FB and the woman I mentioned had posted some pretty harsh things about me not caring enough to get an obit done. I messaged her, reminding her that I couldn’t take care of that over the weekend, but that I was getting it done that day. She messaged me back telling me how miserable Bennie was and that is why he died. She said he worried too much about supporting me and, were it not for that, he’d be alive. I told her that wasn’t true, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She said she knew A LOT about our marriage. I informed her that she knew what he wanted her to know. I also let her know that for five years, he’d been free to live with her, date her, whatever he wanted, without any reprisal from me because we’d been separated all of that time. Yep…I guess ol Bennie failed to mention that to her. I haven’t heard from her since then. Score!

Well, I’m gonna wrap up this lil walk down Memory Lane. I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but I really need to get some perspective on who I’m crying over. Bennie was my own personal pain machine. It ran all the time. I went dry inside keeping it fueled. That’s the man I have been married to for the last twenty years. That’s why I feel empty inside. Not because he’s gone, but because the part of me he killed off left a hole inside of me that is no longer filled by the daily pain of living with him. I always say he was my best friend. In many ways, he was. But in more ways than that, he was anything but a friend. Maybe I need to remember THAT.

 

…and then, he was gone. – Pt.1

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Seventeen days ago, today, my husband of thirty years, Bennie, died during an emergency surgery that the doctors knew would kill him. I suppose it was the oath they took that compelled them to attempt to save this dying man, in spite of all odds. I’ll never know. But, I do know that what resulted from their attempt to save him was the most ghoulish, twisted, sickening mockery of life that I have ever witnessed.

Three years ago, Bennie went to the ER in extreme pain from what he thought was a kidney stone. It was then that the doctors found a serious dissection in his downward aorta. By the time it was discovered, his chances of surviving the corrective surgery hovered at the 20% mark. He told them to fuck off. That was in October of 2013. They assured him that he would not see the new year.

Bennie made it far beyond the new year before having further problems. Then, one day at work, he literally fell over from pain. He was rushed to the hospital, where he spent a month in CICU. The dissection was too large for a stint, just as it was the first time they saw it, and, again, all they could do would be to replace the artery. Again, Bennie refused. He was put on medication that the doctors felt would, at least, contain the damage.

Throughout, life was pretty good, in spite of the legal difficulties we were going through. Bennie saw the birth of his grandson and they became great friends. His career settled into a good place, and he made peace with the thing that he knew would kill him one day. Around this time, his addiction grew and his health began to fail one tiny bit at a time. During the last six months, he started losing weight, finally dropping 28lbs. He looked gaunt and unhealthy. Obama’s EPA had begun to seriously effect the oil industry in a way that had a direct effect on his job as a turnaround planner. Competition was fierce and he was not up to playing the game.

In the middle of last year, Bennie went on a job up in Montana, I believe. He had a great time and saved plenty to be able to take off all of deer season. We’d moved up here in April, so we were settled in and he enjoyed being off in the place he loved most. I noticed that he spent a lot of time sleeping. That was due, in part, to his constant pill popping. But, it did seem that there was more to it, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

When it was time to get back to work, work was scarce in a way it hadn’t been before. Ever. Money problems ensued and stress came on top of stress. It was awful. Finally, he found a turnaround back in the Galveston area that started April 7th. He packed up and went to stay at Mom’s house while he worked. He had been complaining of a pain in his side for months. It came and went, sometimes a dull pain, sometimes a sharp. We both knew what it was, but constantly danced around the truth. We decided it was a pulled muscle…a lie that we could both live with. On April 14th, he woke up to go to work at 3am. When he stood up, the pain brought him to his knees. He got dressed for work, but decided to go to the hospital, instead. He called me at six o’clock that morning complaining about the idiot doctor and that they were going to have to do another imaging to make sure that they were seeing what they thought they were seeing. I knew then that he was a dead man. I think he did, too. As soon as we hung up, I called Jay, our youngest son, and told him what was going on. He got to the hospital in a half hour.

After his arrival at the hospital, and a lot of hemhawing around, Jay was finally allowed to go back to see his dad. He had just gotten to his father’s bedside when the doctor came in. In blunt language, he told Ben he was going to die that day if he did not have the surgery. The aneurysm in his stomach had doubled in size and his entire aorta was involved, from above his heart all the way to his groin. He told him that, with the surgery, were it successful, he would more than likely be a paraplegic. The doctor told him that it would be a good idea to say goodbye to his loved ones, just in case. He couldn’t get reception on his phone, so he texted our oldest son, then, me. He instructed Jay to take care of me and the girls, (his dogs, Pepper and Jezebel). Minutes later, he was taken to surgery and I was in my truck driving as fast as I could to get there.

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Bennie never woke up after surgery. He died one year, to the day, after we moved here. There is a lot more that I have to say about what went on in that room post op, but I just can’t face it right now. It was, without question, the most horrific thing I have ever witnessed. I cannot stop seeing it. It’s as though the sight has taken up physical residence in my eyes and, at times, I just want to pluck them out and stomp on them so I never have to see it again. Nobody should be put through that Frankenstein bullshit. Nobody. He died and I feel scarred for life. I don’t know how else to say it. People assure me that I’ll get over it, but I don’t think I will. It’s like when I was little and this old lady hit a Bandido on his motorcycle. As we passed, I saw blood and his intestines on the pavement where he lay. I remember every detail. And I’m sure I will remember this.

I’m going to finish up and have a drink. Whatever transpired between Bennie and I, I never wished that on him. I think people deserve to die with dignity, not as a science experiment. I am angry. I am disgusted. I am lost. I want to know more about what happened to Bennie, but I’m afraid of the answers. According to the death certificate, he died of natural causes resulting in brain death during surgery. Yet they brought him out, after closing him up eight hours into a twelve hour procedure, hooked him up to a ventilator and a heart pump and told us he was alive. My God…Oh, my God…Why would they do that to someone?

 

 

where true power lies

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i awaken to you

filling the darkness

and i am afraid

even so, silently, you watch

you gorge on my fear

you mock me

no consideration, no mercy

relentless, as always

my peace, stolen

as my mind races throughout the night

imagining the possibilities

of different beginnings…endings

questioning myself

blaming…hating

and i cry

~~~

remembering your weight on my body

your big, rough hands…other things

on the longest night that i ever lived

and i realize now

that it was all just a show of force

a temporary action meant to unlock a particular door

the words that you whispered

like a demon, in my ear

daring me to defy you

telling me to ‘give you a reason’

~~~

i couldn’t possibly have known then

that your true power would wait patiently

slowly revealing itself in shadows

and bumps in the night

that it would watch me, in silence

from the darkness beyond my sight

and i would feel it

evermore

throughout the decades of my life

for, had i known this truth to be

i’d have given you a reason

to deny me another breath

more than enough reason

to take whatever was left

thinking about randy

36164[1]i recall your scent

your sound

the shadow you cast

but i cannot see your face

the pain of your grasp

your hands in my hair…tearing it away

i can feel those things today

but i cannot see your face

i remember the night

you put your gun to my forehead

as i stood awaiting the trigger

i clearly recall the look in your eyes

and the fear in that place

but i cannot see your face

brent in the rear-view

fear was a part of it

of you and i

our reason to exist

together

it pushed us together

in the night

the fear of losing

something that had already slipped away

we were just too preoccupied

with the technicalities

 of our particular brand of lust

to notice when we lost it

now, at the last

a stranger will fill your spot

play your part

but will never replace

you

“You’re A Hard Woman.”

Exish and I had a really good time making the trip to the coast and back. We talked about so much, even about things we never talked about. That’s a trick when you’ve been together since you were both teenagers. Just before we made it home, he looks at me and says, “You’re a hard woman. I like that.”  For a moment, after his words hit my ears, I thought that I might slap the shit out of him…

You know what makes you into a hard woman? Cheating men, liars, dope fiends and boozers. Stick a woman into a pot and add those ingredients in the form of people in her life and you get one hard bitch. That’s life. That’s me. But what I wouldn’t give to go back to being a softie.

My upbringing should have made me hard, but it didn’t. I don’t know why. It’s just that, after I met Exish, I thought I was safe. I really figured all of that bullshit was behind me. As I’ve said before, I have always felt that I owe him a debt of gratitude for rescuing me from my home life. I didn’t see any other way out. Not then. But, he came along and I fell in love and he took me out of the environment I had been dying in. It was the first time in my life that I was able to let my guard down and just exist. We got married when I was fresh out of rehab, so it was a clean slate. I absolutely loved it.

As a child, I was an extreme self preservationist. It was necessary in order to simply get through a day at my house. Violence hung in the air like a thick fog. Though my dad never hurt me, I was the object of my grandmother’s frustration and anger. That bitch. Dad came down on her, she came down on me. She couldn’t stand the fact that Dad loved me so much.She hated me, and the feeling was mutual from the first I can remember. As soon as Dad, (my grandfather), left for work, she’d start in on me. It didn’t bother me, at all. Even as a very small child, I could sense her weakness, and it disgusted me. No matter how hard she hit me, I would not stand down. I remember looking up at her as she lifted her arm high and came down, striking me in the face with her hand. Fuck her. I’d fall down, but I’d get right back up. There was nothing she could give that I couldn’t take.

As I got older, my grandmother abandoned beating me with her bare hands. When she’d flip, she’d grab anything close and use it as a weapon. It’s amazing how many household items can be used to inflict pain. Even so…I never let her win. She never saw me cry. The only thing that she ever accomplished was strengthening my resolve. I was as tall as she was by the time I was in the fourth grade. She couldn’t knock me down anymore. She’d still give it a good go. By then, I was so numb, (next level out of body numb), to her bullshit that I’d just stand there, or I’d laugh at her, outright. Yes, it hurt…the things she did. It always hurt. That’s what beatings are meant to do. But I always hurt her more because I never, once, gave her the satisfaction she wanted…the ‘respect’ she demanded.

I should note that I was a very good kid. I was reading by age three and excelled in school. I did my chores, never sassed anyone, was all about the ‘Yes, Ma’am, No, Ma’am’. All of it. I sat through endless hours of her making me into her little doll. She’d pull my hair into ponytails that were so tight they gave me a headache. I had to look nice to spend every available hour at the bar with her and Dad. Even after I started school, as soon as I was picked up, it was off to the local bar. I never had friends my own age. (Surprisingly, most parents don’t bring their children to the bar with them, even back then.) No matter. My friends were mostly the old men who’d sit at the table with Dad. Almost all of them were veterans and I’d sit quietly for hours on end, listening to them talk about WW2. I loved their bravado as they relived some of the most terrible things I could imagine. You’d never know that the war left a single scar on them. The women who came in always seemed to have red lips and tobacco stained teeth. Far beyond their prime, they’d sit cross legged at the bar, smoking and drinking cocktails, hoping to draw the attention of some random man. They rarely had time to share a story with a child. What would they have talked about, anyway? Their fifth husband’s porn addiction? Seriously…silly bitches.

When it was far past my bedtime, and I couldn’t hold my head up any longer, I’d be taken to the proverbial ‘back room’ and put to bed. We were always at one of three local bars, and they all seemed to have the same back room. There was the requisite dirty bed where patrons who were too drunk to walk to their cars would go to sleep it off until closing time, or until they could drive, whichever came first. And there was a tiny black and white tv that never seemed to get reception. The rooms all smelled like vomit and stale beer. A lot can happen to a little girl in the back room of a bar. But that’s a story for another time.

This tale is getting long and tedious. I guess that, when Exish said that, I just felt so insulted. It reminded me of my failure as a woman. Ultimately, what made me so hard were things I could have controlled or escaped. It was him, mostly. His cheating ways and lying and addiction. It was the decade-long battle with Dope for the life of my son. It was allowing him to drag me to depths that I could not fathom in order to keep my family together. After all the bullshit I’d been through, in the end, it was him. And, in spite of it all, I still love him. He’s as much as part of me as my children are. I hate myself for that. Always will.