When memories try to drown you…

Today has been hard. Like, every past mistake, missed opportunity, multiple moments of abject failure kind of hard. Excruciatingly bad even. I have come to the realization that I truly hate my job, I hate the town I’m living in and I certainly can’t imagine growing old in this part of the country even. Something has to give. And, after decades of it always being me who gave up everything, the thing I want most is for the looming specter of unpleasant experiences, trying to choke out my few cherished memories, to go away for good.

I never intended to stay in this godforsaken place for so long. After graduating from high school I wanted to hit the road, attend college in another state and create the dream I always had in my head of how my life was supposed to be. I was going to be a journalist or a writer, whichever, I was going to be successful and happy. Instead, I followed my much older, very damaged boyfriend to a state university that was entirely too close to the darkness that made up my childhood. Granted, I had a mother who told me not to expect much out of life and that should have been my first red flag on things yet to come. Fast forward 34 years and I’m still stuck, still being pulled in all directions by negativity, anger and dysfunction in this same dreary town, this same immobilizing state. To say I feel depressed and hopeless would be an understatement because now I have moved into the territory of anxiety and despair. It’s a crushing feeling, like all the weight of my past is pressing down hard on my shoulders, drilling me further and further into the ground so my feet can’t move.

It never dawned on me, until now, that I even had the right to say NO to a life I was neither excited by or inspired to live well. I was simply going through the motions of breaking free from one bad relationship just to jump right into another because the thought of having to go back to my childhood home would be mortifying. That was one of the few things that did spark a fire under my feet, a fire hot enough to make me say yes to moving in with someone I didn’t know well and then once again, 4 years later, when asked if I wanted to get married. My parent’s ugly marriage should have made me shy away from the idea of wanting to tie that noose around my neck but, the fear that saying no might send me but back into that hell left me feeling as if I had no choice. Take what you are being offered, do the bare minimum and look for happiness later became my new motto. Each day dragged into months, into years, into decades until it seemed as if my chance to be happy had been thrown away. I lost my shot because I chose poorly. At least, that’s what I believed until today.

So, the reason today has been hard: my one good decision in life, my daughter, came to visit this past week. When she first decided on a college almost 7 hours away I won’t lie, I panicked a little but, I was not going to hold her back. I did not want her to feel the disappointment and regret I felt for letting my dreams slip away so I loosened my grip and let her go. To have the ability to make that time slow down so I could take in every moment with her, to savor every last second would have felt amazing! I live a lot in my own head at times but when I spend time with her the only thing that matters is making sure she knows how much I love her and how proud I am of her. She is a big reason why I hang on, why I endure living in a place that holds so few good memories, aside from the amazing partner I’m lucky enough to have now! She loves him just as much as he loves us both and I am grateful she has one positive male role model in her life. Her father, my ex-husband of almost 12 years now, still lives in the same town as does his stepfather, our daughter’s only sane living grandparent. But, that could change at any moment, leaving me the one left behind again. That is why I slid head first into that old familiar darkness, the dread, the absolute belief that I failed miserably at life.

I MUST have failed after all! I settled for financial security over love and happiness and, despite knowing I was making a huge mistake, I tied myself to even more dysfunction than the family I was originally born into. Most people long to trade up or do better than their parents but I just swapped one screwed up situation for another and then lost all courage to walk away. In looking back the thing I regret most was bringing my daughter into that pain, uncertainty and resentment because it was no place for either of us to be. The promise of stability was a lie and sabotage of self-esteem existed around every corner, which was the favorite past-time of my former mother-in-law. She too, was a horribly damaged person with many similar childhood experiences as me and so I thought that might help us bond but, I was wrong. I horribly underestimated the level of petty vindictiveness residing in that barely 5 foot frame and quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be allowed to be a successful wife or mother for that matter. The first time I told her no was the last time I received any kindness or cooperation from her. I was on my own and every milestone, from the birth of my daughter to all accomplishments after that time would become a power struggle. God, it wore on me; to the point where I wanted to check out, completely and finally. I just wanted it to stop.

My daughter’s 1st birthday marked the beginning of the long war waged to establish who the real ruler of the family was going to be. It wasn’t me, my ex-husband or his step-father, it was my ex mother-in-law and she always made sure I knew it. She had an opinion on everything from all of my daughter’s clothes and toys to where she would eventually go to kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school and so on. Once those opinions were verbalized they quickly became law and I was overruled at every turn by my daughter’s father. “Just let her do this. She’s just trying to help! If you just let her have her way then I can keep getting gifts too. Why do you have to ruin this for me?” My ex-husband completely ignored her purposeful interference and sided with his mother because if she was picking at me then she wasn’t criticizing him. I became a non-person, a surrogate, a womb for rent and a complete nuisance to my then spouse and this woman who must have her own way, always. Her opinion of me stayed negative until the day she died and I never had a chance to show her who I really was. I don’t think she would have cared, in hindsight, but I feel I deserved to at least have my say.

The first 9 years of my dear daughter’s life were a blur of hurt, disappointment and growing anger for me. I couldn’t make friends with any of the parents of my daughter’s friends because my mother-in-law got there first, whispering to each one about how I worked and didn’t have time to do play dates or school events…but she could. And then, it metastasized into, “I’m more of a mother to her than she is. I’m more of a wife to my son than she is.” As sick as that last one sounds it rang pretty true since she did actually buy all of my ex’s underwear and socks until he was well into middle-age but, I digress. It never got better, she never let up and I just grew more and more distant from everyone except my daughter. The loneliness and despair I felt must have been evident because her need to know where I was at all times while she was young turned into panic if I was more than a room or two away. I feel great regret over that. I worry that everything I thought I was hiding inside somehow spilled over onto her, creating a sensation of anxiety that would not have otherwise been felt had I been stronger. Again, I felt I had failed.

Each year this gnawing emotional sickness chipped another bit of my self-determination, motivation and mental well-being away until I had had enough and no longer cared what anyone but my daughter thought. I was not going to let her think all relationships were as one-sided as mine was with her father nor was I going to let her see me get trampled by her grandmother any longer. After more years than I care to admit, I walked away. I filed for divorce. I took back my life. So why do I still feel as if I have never really lived for me? Can I chalk it up to old habits or damaging ways of thinking being hard to break? In the beginning, of my New Beginning, I wrestled with the notion that I wouldn’t have had my beautiful daughter without accepting all of that drama into my life. After several years of therapy, where my therapist told me that was utter “horse shit” I stopped thinking in such black and white terms. It wasn’t a suffer with or without her situation. Whether I had her with him or with someone else I still would have had her and while she may have looked different she would still possess all of my intelligence, quirkiness and imagination. Of this, I am very certain!

Yet, today I still felt gutted and utterly drained, like I was just floating aimlessly. After my daughter drove away I went for a walk in a neighborhood close to my office. It was the neighborhood I first lived in with her dad, the place I settled when I felt I didn’t deserve more. Today I was back there and as I walked by that old apartment complex my head was swimming. What if I had said NO? Or, rather, “No thank you. I need to make it on my own.” Could I have said no? Yes, I could have and just acknowledging that should be enough but today that little self-affirmation wasn’t enough. My mind zeroed in on conversations I had, emotions I felt, places I went and it all led me straight back to emptiness. Maybe it’s really just self-pity and given the fact I am no longer young and my daughter is now the age I was when everything went so horribly wrong it’s logical to feel a bit of fear for her as well. Don’t do what I did! Don’t settle and never, ever let anyone talk you into setting your dreams, your life and your power aside! I want to scream this, and I do, in my head. Always, forever, living in my head but never out loud. Today is the day to stop that, right?

Yes, today is the day. I find myself, once again, unable to take anymore. The negative self-talk stops here and now because I am ready to be free of this damaging legacy set forth by people I wouldn’t even give the time of day. They hold no power over me and, to that I say, finally, “No thank you! I will make it on my own. I will make it without memories of you dragging me down.”

We deserve to break the chain, once and for all.

© 2021-2022 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chopping Down the Family Tree of Misery…

Just when I think that old gnawing discomfort caused by mentally reviewing the past has finally gone away…something else occurs to bring it back to the forefront. It may never be done because there is just too much misery to go around and too many players who failed to get the memo that we were planning to improve ourselves and our lives.

That something else, which recently occurred was tragic, saddening and completely preventable. It came out of the blue and if I had been asked whether I thought such a thing could happen I would say, no, even though anything awful is highly possible with my family. I’m still processing why it came about at all and remain puzzled as to how I even talk about it because no matter how I word it I will always, forever, be part of the problem with this one. To say I didn’t know things were so bad is a lie and to say there wasn’t anything I could have done different is just the same old lip service we apply to every negative cloud following us.

Misery does indeed love company

A little over a week ago one of my adult nephews died. The circumstances remain uncertain and they probably always will remain so because his father, my oldest brother, chose not to have an autopsy and the local coroner hastily called this senseless death “natural causes.” Case closed. We have no way of knowing one way or another what really happened but I do know for sure that it was, in part, a death caused by emotional and mental neglect with 100% certainty. The death of our father was expected and, if you’ve read any of my other work, that event was greeted with relief but this? This loss was shocking because of my nephew’s young age and also because it took so long for anyone to even notice he was dead.

I feel like I need to provide a bit of back-story here but honestly, I have very little additional information to provide. You see, I didn’t know this nephew very well and had only been around him maybe a handful of times over his sad, short life. None of this was his fault, it was entirely my fault for not trying harder to be present in his world. I fell into the “judging” trap that my family so despised from outsiders yet they gleefully heaped judgment high within family ranks without hesitation. Tearing each other down is a familial pastime after all and the sins of the parents get readily transferred to any offspring in this ragged clan. It’s not an excuse. It’s a huge part of one of our many problems.

Because of our less than warm relationship with our oldest brother the negative feelings felt for him impacted the way we interacted with his children, our nephews. It was one side of the family against the other even though we were all just as damaged inside. It made no sense but here we are now, standing amongst the rubble of yet another life destroyed by generational anger, abuse and neglect of soul. To an outsider we would appear cruel but to us it was just “normal” behavior. “Oh, you won’t talk to me? Well, I will just shun your whole family!” We reap what we sow…still.

We were not normal then and we aren’t normal now…

To the point on why it took so long for my nephew to be found: one has to understand that peculiar deficiency in humanity we all inherited from the Grand Patriarch, my recently deceased abusive father. Indifference. We all, at one point or another in our lives were indifferent to the suffering each one of us experienced. Granted, some hurt and got hurt more than others but the inability to express that pain in real-time or recognize it in each other is but one of the many side effects of abuse that went unnoticed for decades.

And so, because we were brought up in “every man for himself” mode we don’t always see how disturbing it may be to fathom someone’s son, nephew, cousin, and grandson going to bed one night, passing away and then not being discovered until 24 hours (even possibly 48 hours) later. To care so little as to simply not see the importance of checking in, paying attention or, giving a damn.

I see it now.

The horror is setting in.

To be so broken yet unable to see the multiple layers of cracks and sharp edges ready to cut and maim.

Sickeningly broken.

I don’t know the exact events that led up to my nephew’s passing and I won’t speculate on his life because I wasn’t part of it. Also, neither my brother nor my mother will speak to me about it because I am effectively dead to them as well. I DO know that this occurred as a continuation of the misery perpetuated by this particular DNA chain, a tragic chain that needs to be broken, reconstructed and fortified with kindness, patience and love. This didn’t have to happen and I know I don’t bare all of the blame but I still feel leveled by the extent of damage one man started and the unfortunate progeny who continue to carry on his harmful legacy. To say our experiences combined had nothing to do with this particular loss would be foolhardy because pain begets pain and until it’s healed it won’t stop.

Please, let it stop!

It must stop for my nephew’s sake and for every other potential casualty of this family tree strewn with hollow, disease ridden limbs. Let the suffering stop here and now because we can be better than this.

We MUST be better than this!

© 2021-2022 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Are We Good?

No. No, we are not.

“But, can’t we all just come together and be one America now?

No.

Really? So much for being tolerant and kind!”

Yeah…that isn’t how this works anymore. Bygones can no longer be bygones, especially when Facebook, Twitter and now the off-brand version, Parler, continue to breed trolls who both covertly and overtly advocate for the harassment, injury or death of anyone non-MAGA. It appears we are now a country of Americans and MAGAcans, or MAGAs or MAGAricans? Either way, you idol worshiping, false flag waving, tacky Trump merch buying twats have drawn a pretty deep line in the sand. It’s your line, I will respect your wishes and not cross it…even to pee on you should you find yourself on fire. It’s a matter of respect of personal boundaries, you know?

https://www.businessinsider.com/arkansas-police-chief-lang-holland-resigns-parler-posts-threaten-democrats-2020-11

For 4 long years, the toll exacted by taunts, insults, and blatant threats of violence makes this request no longer reasonable or doable. Anyone on the receiving end of the massive shit sandwich that is 2020, coupled with the snarling vitriol lobed on the daily, would be utterly foolish to fall for this glaringly amateur manipulation. To use our kindness, empathy and desire to help others against us now that the reality show has been cancelled is really quite laughable. And you call us sheep? We aren’t the ones who fell for a spray tanned con-artist who is so vain he wears lifts in his shoes and has dried out cotton candy for hair. The same con-artist who presides over a family full of equally humorless cons that are just as eager to take advantage of their adoring cult followers and casually toss them aside when they are no longer necessary.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/11/ivanka-trump-was-my-best-friend-now-shes-maga-royalty

That increasingly uncomfortable “reality show” was setting the scene for rampant paranoia, unbridled anger and for every nasty human trait, and their possessors, to be lifted to a standard of respect they do not deserve. There is nothing respectable about a group of Americans chanting and cheering for violence to be committed against other fellow Americans. There is nothing respectable about a group of Americans turning their backs on facts, truth, science, human rights, civil rights, and basic human decency in order to march to the tune of whack-a-doo conspiracy theory bullshit.

And, there is definitely nothing respectable or decent about gleefully bilking taxpayers while simultaneously goading your rabid followers/dupes/marks into turning on fellow Americans. Nothing to see here! Now go “Yeah, but” and gaslight the sane populace until they no longer know what’s fake or real, what’s truth or fiction or whether they are living in an alternate universe where everything is horribly backwards.

You stepped in the shit willingly and made it your new life. It’s not our job to help you scrape the shit off your shoes. It’s not our job to re-educate you. It’s not our job to re-humanize you. We tried, you mocked, threatened and dehumanized us so now, we are merely taking the not so subtle hint. We know you will turn on us again, in a heartbeat, and have decided to take a page out of your grubby rule book and build a WALL of personal protection. Snowflakes may be kind and gentle but they ain’t dumb…we paid attention in school.

I don’t have to smile, wave or respond to your now timid greeting if I feel my time would be better served attending to my own best interests. I still have the right to mistrust the untrustworthy. Isn’t that what good MAGA boys and girls would do too? Attend to their own and to hell with everyone else? I’m confused as to why my doing the very thing you ranted, raved and preached about would upset you now. Because it was really a, “Do as I say and not as I do” kinda thing? Got it! What’s good for the MAGA is good for the SNOWFLAKE now. Grasp page from play book and RIP!

“Oh, come on! I was only teasing when I said all Democrats, BLM supporters and civil rights protesters should be shot between the eyes.”

There is no going back to benign pleasantries. You reap what you sow and while this isn’t an eye for an eye, law of retaliation type of action on my part it is a refusal to associate, do business with or otherwise extend an extra helping of grace to those who wished literal harm to befall me and those I love. Keep flying your ridiculous idol worshiping flags and memorial signs of a campaign lost (fair and square) though. They will forever act as your mark of Cain so that all may see who you really are and what you willingly support.

© 2020-2021 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Death of a Family

It has finally happened. The day has come. A tiny bit of me feels uneasy because I just recently wrote about wondering when this day would occur and now, it has come to pass. Am I clairvoyant? No. But, if I were and could see where all of this was heading years ago don’t you think I would have hit the road sooner?

The man we once called “Dad” is dead. And now, the dilemma over how to react, or not, starts. Do we fake grieve or do we expel a long overdue sigh of relief? Do we cry and if so, how hard and for how long? But, if we do cry is it for the one who has left this earth or is it for what we never got in the first place? It’s impossible to know for sure but the one thing I do know is that I’m not sad he’s gone. I am sad, however, that we never had decent, loving parents. That, I have mourned for the past 30+ years.

There I said it, and while it may sound harsh to those on the outside looking in, the fictionalized version of this long dead family my mother so desperately wanted everyone to believe in never existed. You were duped, or maybe you always knew but just never said anything. Anyway, the instigator of great pain and personal torment is gone. And, here we are, still standing tall despite decades of bluster and boasting from the man who regularly berated, belittled and abused his children and grandchildren. He is gone and I feel no sorrow. How could anyone even ask me to?

The man who used me as a punching bag.

Gone.

The man who enjoyed grabbing a fistful of my hair so he could pull me across the kitchen floor to show me that I put something in the refrigerator WRONG.

Gone.

The man who dutifully went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night in order to cement his superior status as the righteous man.

Gone.

How should we remember him? As the smug, sneering know-it-all with a disturbing sadistic side or, as the dream of a kind and loving father we held in our heads? He wasn’t the latter, not even a little bit. Oh, he tried to be jovial at times but what started out in a joking vein usually disintegrated into a cruel strike to the jugular. When asked to come closer to him the first question that always popped into my suspicious mind was, “Why?” Near or far away, it didn’t matter which, he still had the ability to inflict pain. Even in his frail last few years the ever present shame, guilt and anger that he created in each one of us signaled his legacy was still very much in control.

I stopped talking to both of my parents in 2016, for a variety of valid reasons and, it wasn’t until a year or so later that I knew I made the right decision. At first I wasn’t sure and would go back and forth but became very certain upon learning that this man, this self-proclaimed Christian man, who my mother said so deserved his heavenly reward, was revealed to not only be a child abuser but also a child molester. There would be no turning back and I held firm because for so many years I always “overlooked” their past behavior and tried to live by the let bygones be bygones principle. I now understand that this was exactly what they were hoping for, a “just get over it” proclamation with no recourse for any of their victims and certainly no apology. Again, they controlled the narrative, standing together in twisted unity, and we were just whiny children who deserved everything that happened to us. No love from a mother and certainly no love from a father.

Speaking of mothers, mine obviously took great care in writing my father’s obituary. She was his greatest enabler and protector so it’s no surprise that “liberties” would be taken and the truth would be fabulously stretched. I found exactly what I expected when reading the glowing heavenly recommendation for this deeply damaged and morally bankrupt man. The manner in which he was now being eulogized/fictionalized could lead one to think the Earth’s trees should all bow in sorrow to honor the passing of such a great man! Such a godly man!

Great, he was not. Good at manipulating and posturing? Yes indeed! Sure, he held the various positions listed among the multiple conflated exaggerations but did he excel at any of them? No, he did not. This I know because I was there when he held most of these “prestigious” posts but I must have missed the day he was proclaimed “well liked” and “respected in the community.” Was he really? Be honest now. He can’t hurt us anymore so speak freely! We moved around a lot not because he was in such high demand but because he was either running from one bill or another or, possibly, trying to get out of being held accountable for any number of wrongs he may have committed. Who really knows for sure? The expert “Editor” made sure all tracks were covered well. Bravo mom! Good job.

Now, here is where things start to get a little bizarre, but not totally unexpected. When airing grievances about ones own children and grandchildren it is best to keep track of what lies you told to which people. Did you remember to exhibit just the right amount of confusion and innocent wonder over why some of your children did not rush to your side or “at least call” for heaven’s sake? It might have something to do with you vehemently striking out in absolute defense of an abuser and child molester but, it could also be due to you calling me and other siblings liars and embarrassments while expressing that you now know why certain animals chose to kill their young. Good stuff there mother! Good stuff.

Oh, and the person you lamented to? They knew you were lying. Just thought I should point that out. Use a flow chart dammit! It makes tracking lies so much easier. Gosh! Stop being so lazy with your hate tactics.

So, where were we? Oh, yes, documenting the long, slow, painful death of a family. We were a “family” after all. Born of the same parents, sharing DNA, physical resemblances and all that jazz. We started dying the day each one of us became caught up in whatever torment the two of you drug into your too young, too dumb and highly ill-conceived marriage. Each child was placed on the alter of your respective mental fuck-ups and each one of us was sacrificed as an offering to your egos. We had no say. You brought us here and you both worked together to try and destroy us. When it became evident that this was working too slowly another plan was hatched. Why not get us to feed off of one another? Why not plant the seeds of your own angry dysfunction in each one of us and then poke and prod until the fighting begins? Brilliant plan really. Just so deviously exquisite!

For the past 60 years this game has proven quite successful because, fast forward to today, it’s pretty crystal clear when you tally up the hurtful words, personal slights, abusive behavior and our blatant trampling of the feelings of one another. In that regard, dad has won spectacularly. Few of us talk to one another now and even fewer have anything to do with you, dear old mom. Did you see that coming? Dad really fucked you over with that one! Such precision. So much so that you didn’t even realize that the man you deferred you whole life to would see to it that, in the end, you were left with nothing but crumbs.

Game, set, match…

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Is This The Day You Die?

On my way home from work yesterday this thought went through my mind. Driving along, looking up at the blue sky, watching the soft white clouds bounce on by.

“Is today going to be the day you leave this Earth?

Rarely do I allow myself to ruminate or stew in the past anymore. I have done the recovery work and am, daily, working to forgive for myself and release anger and pain. It’s been a long learning process but I think I have found multiple ways to distract or refocus myself to thoughts, projects and people more deserving of my attention. It has worked well the past 3-4 years and I have grown to rely on my new-found skill but today I added, “I hope you made peace with your maker and confessed the true ugliness committed at your hands.”

Let me get you up to speed here. I am, essentially, an orphan. I have no family to speak of even though there are at least, maybe, 30 people out there that share some DNA with me. That I know of anyway. I could be wrong about the exact count because my family of origin LIES a lot. I arrive at my number by counting parents, siblings, their kids, their kid’s children and the few cousins I know about. I have physical contact with none of these people and that isn’t because of the corona virus, it’s because of purposeful cruelty and generational dysfunction. I have limited verbal contact with just 3 of these people so, in my mind, that qualifies me as an unofficial orphan.

Cue the balloons and streamers!!! Now, where is my crown?

Back to the initial, depressing title of this already worn out tome. It really is tiresome when the past won’t stay where it belongs so when you find out a family member is currently in the hospital, a member who doesn’t deserve your kindness, all kinds of surprising conclusions are drawn. Do I still care? How should I feel about this information? How do I react when asked about this family member? Will anyone who isn’t related to me even ask about this family member anyway since this person isn’t well-liked in their community? Anyone who truly knows me is aware of why I feel the way I do about this family member. And, those who don’t? Well, let them ask and they too will learn the truth.

I have no desire to edit anything or soften the jagged perimeter of this family plot turned garbage dump so my truth will be imparted without hesitation. “Is this the day they died?” Honestly, it could happen this way. Someone unrelated to me could be the one to inform me of the passing of a person I came to terms with years ago. A person I reserve no conflicted feelings for and have no desire to pretend grieve once they pass from this world. I wish them a smooth passage, which is more than they would wish for me and, once that has been accomplished, I wish to think of them no more.

If this is the day that you die please know that I am still standing. I am not bowing to the wind of judgement because none is blowing my way. That storm is reserved for you so be ready. Make amends, if you can and if you can’t bring yourself to do this before your last breath then that’s okay. I’ve done my part and let you go a long time ago.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You Are Permitted to be Angry…

With a few caveats of course.

For all my years of touting cute catchphrases like, “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” or expressing my resolute determination to no longer remain silent, I forgot one thing. The power of commiseration.

I don’t need you to use your sympathy voice every time I share something that makes me angry. I want you to be angry with me!

I GET IT NOW!

There is great power in numbers, as the current protests around the country have shown. I know this to be true. I talk about it, A LOT, within my professional space yet skim right over it in my personal space. And, for that, I am so very sorry. In this, I realize that I am no better than all the assholes I rail about, the ones without even a minuscule amount of empathy in their bitter bones. I, a person who has too much empathy at times, still forgot the therapeutic efficacy of a good bitch-fest. The legitimate airing of grievances, but without having to observe Festivus.

I will be angry with you.

I will listen to what you have to say without doing the, “Awww” face.

I will join your venting session, not because I’m mad at the same person, place or thing, but because YOU ARE ANGRY and I want to support you.

It’s okay to be angry because anger is an energy that can cause change just as easily as it can cause destruction.

I support your right to FEEL all the feelings that go along with being human.

Now, having said all of that, and I meant all of it, I just know there are miserable shit-stirrers out there itching to rail against those who express the desire to FEEL. You know? The FUCK YOUR FEELINGS dickheads. The rest of this is directed at you. Everyone with historically documented reasons to feel angry, you can grab some popcorn and relax for a bit. You earned it…

Yes, fuck my feelings! That’s so mature, so human, so kind of you! And, it’s exactly what I would expect from people who don’t think anyone else is allowed to be angry but them. What exactly are YOU mad about? Didn’t your whiteness provide, abundantly, everything all those other white male politicians promised if you supported their agenda? I know what everyone else is mad about but, please, tell me what’s REALLY troubling you. And, can you do it without calling me names or threatening me with violence? It’s a novel idea but try it, you might like it. And, while you are trying that maybe stop and picture what it really means to be the “good Christian” that you keep calling yourself. Are ya, really??? Can’t be Christ-like when you’re calling me a loud-mouth liberal bitch that needs to know my place. All-seeing God my ass, you don’t know me at all! Let me introduce myself, I’m you’re worst nightmare because I can see who you really are and that’s what you really hate, not me, not them, but yourself.

photo by Andre Hunter

It’s the truth about ourselves, the stuff we demand stay hidden, that really pops up in times of anger and strife, whether we like it or not. It isn’t hidden anymore and if the truly oppressed in this country can put up with your racist, homophobic, misogamist bullshit for centuries then I guess the LEAST I can do is get my privileged white ass up in their support. I stand with them because standing with you is limiting, exhausting, debilitating and completely on the wrong side of history and humanity. I will not side with vile hatred so stop trying to sell me on the garbage you keep peddling.

Yes, I believe Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, No Human is Illegal, Science is Real, Love is Love and Kindness is EVERYTHING! On the flip-side, to those who do not believe in the things I just listed? You are the real problem and you are the one stoking the fire of hate in this country and around the world. Lying, cheating and stealing are really your areas of expertise, not ours but you jump at slapping those projected labels on us, which is laughable. Don’t like what I just imparted? Let me use some of your own medicine on that burn…uh, fuck your feelings! Ah, that felt refreshingly satisfying.

I can guarantee one thing for sure, in this current moment and moving forward, if ANYONE directs hateful vitriol and violence towards anyone I love, I will rain the entirety of my FEELINGS of anger, disgust and rage down on you! I was subjected to physical and mental abuse as a child and young adult and can only keep that raging beast of revenge down so long you know? Count on me coming for you because, hey, when you dismiss my feelings of empathy and kindness what’s left? Yeah, just the NASTY parts, the ones you identify with most and you can’t fuck ALL of my feelings. Who’s got that kind of time?

Illustration by Sefira Ross

Oh, you don’t like that I’m expressing a desire to treat you as miserably as you treat others? Huh, it doesn’t FEEL good does it? Are you afraid of my rage? My words that I can freely express without the need of a gun to back them up? Or, are you really terrified of my ability to size-up your obvious inner conflict and verbalize the issues that I see standing in your way of being a decent person? No one acts the way you do without channeling some fucked up dysfunction from childhood that leads to the near debilitating self esteem issues you clearly exhibit. Do I want to be right about you being a shit person? No. But, 9 times out of 10, I am right and it hurts because I know humanity can do better.

You see, I am willing to listen to your angry outbursts, just like I listen to those I love vent. The only difference is that I know one of those complaint sessions will lead to greater self-awareness and inner calm and the other will lead to personal ruin. Without a willingness to see the pain of others, to listen, learn and actively understand why they have a right to be angry nothing will change. You will stay miserable and stuck. You will never be happy. You will never be a healthy community/society member even though you have this warped impression that this land is YOUR land and not anyone else’s, especially those with darker hued skin. To hold onto those ideals is to hold onto quicksand…your made-up “identity” is being exposed as you slide down, down, down.

I’ll offer you a hand if you want it. Do you want it?

Or, does going down with the rat infested ship seem more palatable than letting a dirty liberal offer you kindness?

Sad.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Oh, Sister of Mine?

When people ask me about my family of origin I pause and take a deep breath. “How much time do you have?” I ask. It’s never a matter of rambling on about all the amazing memories I have (or had) with family, it’s a matter of, “How much do I tell?”

Do I talk about the feelings of despair, the urgent need to get as far away from my childhood home and town as possible or, do I simply compose a quick verbal synopsis? Even that would be a task destined for failure since there is zero possibility of a speedy deposition because anger, pain and darkness go too deep and have traveled too many generations to be given just a cursory glance. This is a disease that must be examined with the keen eye of a scientist or, at minimum, with the paranoid skepticism of a rabid conspiracy theorist.

“Show me your proof.”

“It’s all made up!”

“You have an agenda!”

Who doesn’t, pal?

I wish I had made up everything I felt compelled to share about my childhood and the people enlisted to birth me and then failed to raise me properly. I wish I had made up the interactions with my many siblings that drained the rose color from my preferred view of the world. The dream of a life I felt excited about as a five year-old was the same one ground to dust at eight by a brother who acted entitled to be doing so without explanation or recourse.

If only I could recall, rewind, rework and then reissue my life. But, I can’t and it must stand as a work unto itself with no revisions because truth is truth no matter how dirty and the lies of others, desperate to silence you, have no power anymore. That, right there, is what sparks the greatest fear in former oppressors, instigators and apologists. I will TELL. I will say it ALL. And, my truth will follow them to the depths of every self-imposed hellscape they find themselves in or into any carefully curated tale of a supposed “life well-lived” they may attempt to create.

It’s the price we all pay for pretending.

But, what happens when the pretenders stop and stand still within their game? What happens when the camera, the one meant to capture a staged joyous moment, starts documenting reality at every press of the button? Sure, we can smile for the camera but we have no control over the image projecting from our eyes. They are the real keepers of truth after all.

I entitled this “Oh, Sister of Mine?” for a specific reason and to document a specific hurt. I have two sisters, born from the same parents and both subjected to the same dysfunction (at varying degrees) I was yet each approaches their wounds very differently. One chose the stance of a pacifist or rather, a “compartmentalizer” and the other, further down the pedigree chart, chose to morph into a volatile cat o’ nine tails ready to inflict as much mental punishment as humanly possible on anyone she decides to level. Did I see that coming my way? No. Am I really surprised in hindsight? Again, no. Some people learn from their pain and some carry it with them like a weapon to be used whenever they need self-soothing. It was just a matter of time.

Now, here’s the rub. From time to time I see strategically posted vignettes of their “and a fun time was had by all” soap opera. It hurts, initially, that I have been purposely cut out of their lives but, in a way, I also see it as needed medicine. The depiction of how their lives easily go on without being invited to share in any joy or pain can feel scalding but, it is also the hurt I need to heal, if that makes sense? The more I see of these surface only interactions the better I feel about my decision to untangle from the diseased spiderweb. I can’t go back to pretending anymore. I won’t go back there yet, at the same time I am irritatingly human enough to still long for closeness and also feel bad for all of them.

https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/people-are-revealing-truth-behind-their-happy-looking-social-media-posts-its-heartbreaking.html

And by ALL I mean ALL, even the parents and other siblings who worked so hard to grind my soul into the ground. I wish things were different but, they are not and they never will be. That wish is now released to the wind. It floats away, along with pieces of my regret and anger, to be replaced by a satisfying self-awareness I never even knew I could posses. By “self-awareness” I mean I own up to my faults, my lies, my rage now with zero shame or embarrassment.

It’s never embarrassing to be authentic.

The TRUE shame is in continuing to willfully live that lie.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The place where loyalty and forgiveness lies…

At one time I placed a great amount of loyalty in the hands of people who constantly drove over me with their jealousy fueled anger bus and people who saw betrayal as a means to an end. An end that benefited them only and cut me to the quick, slicing deeper and deeper until I no longer recognized myself.

And, in failing to recognize who I truly was I also failed to see those who flipped on me, those who extracted a perverted measure of satisfaction from my pain, for who they truly were as well. The words, “They are all you have” echoed through the pain and still, I went back. Forgive and forget! Just move on! Are you STILL hanging on to this?

You bet! Not getting let off the hook that easy you psycho…

That place, the sovereign soil of heritage over honor and blood over truth remains contaminated, an inhospitable tenement with no safe harbor. Each trip I made to its doorstep ended in an unsettled feeling of impending tragedy, or, so as not to seem overly dramatic, a nagging sense that I absolutely did not belong there.

Why is it so hard to let go of things, places and people that no longer work in our lives? Letting go of those who hurt us over and over? Is it because we fear being wrong to stay angry or is it because we might be very right to not forgive and admitting this comes with a large dose of regret and embarrassment over not doing it sooner?

How did we come from that place? How did we come from those people? Where is our place in this world now?

And, what about forgiveness? Oh, yes, the ultimate selfish demand from those with every intention of never changing, never apologizing and every intention to do harm again. Who is forgiveness for again? You? Them? Or, is the saintly Mother Forgiveness and the warm glow of salvation she’s rumored to bring just a myth?

“Oh, you MUST forgive or you will live with anger and bitterness!”

Okay. Are you sure about that? I heard once that anger is an energy, a motivator, a teacher. I also heard that angry women are _________, choose whichever derogatory term, typically men, apply to women who refuse to bend, break and, refuse to…forgive. My refusal is no admission of guilt. No, it’s a firm foot being placed solidly on the ground that says, “No sir, my life will not be played out on your terms.” This is my life, my choice and I’m perfectly content knowing there are Forgiveness Soldiers out there that demonize me for being strong.

I owe you nothing.

The anger I felt inside moved me forward. The anger I felt inside pushed me to look at people closer. The anger I felt inside urged me to listen to my gut. I am not stuck, bitter, sad, tortured or any of those negative things promised by the pious. Its almost as if they want us to be unhappy…just so they can feel right. Go figure.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thoughts and Prayers for Christmas….

I tried.

Hard.

Now, I don’t have to anymore and I’m relieved!

For the past 2 years I swore that I would continue being thoughtful, dutifully sending cards and gifts to family that despised me because “I’m better than that.” I wrote about it in a declaratory tome announcing my status as a saint after all! Jesus, it was easy to fall for the guilt trip then because I desperately wanted to be the bigger person but now I accept the real, hideous bigger picture instead. Also, I don’t want to be like my mother and continue a tradition of sending Cards of Lies with words I knew weren’t true because her actions always said otherwise.

It was never about how they would view me at all. It was about how I viewed myself.

Ego led me to believe someday they would care and so, I sent cards, money and gifts not out of true love for them but out of fear that I would be seen as a shitty person, prone to pettiness and grudges. I see that now and give myself full permission to stop. The way they view me will never be swayed by cash or gift cards anyway so the time to cease and desist is now. It was long overdue and is hard to accept but accept it I will while also wishing them well, silently, on each momentous occasion.

Thoughts and prayers work for phony Christians when doing actual good isn’t desired so why not in this instance? The only difference is, I mean it when I say I wish them well. I do. It’s free and isn’t emotionally draining. To do anything else only shortchanges me and if this really is about how I view myself then I will continue the well wishes in private so my mind, heart and soul can remain at peace. To send or not to send a card will make no difference so I chose to spare a tree. It’s only right.

And, in the grand life-long scheme of things it doesn’t matter. None of it ever mattered because each puzzle piece never wanted to fit in their allotted spot. They only wanted to take chunks from the other pieces around them in order to fill the void and because learning how to be introspective was too hard. A word for everyone out there…it isn’t hard at all! Some people are just fucking lazy. Oh, and they are scared shit-less of the ugliness they’ve allowed to fester inside so they belittle others more successful, more kind and more loving than they are in an attempt to hide their ugly souls.

I shall pray for you…

Not really. I don’t do that. But even if I did it wouldn’t put a dent in the nasty so instead I will think of them often and imagine they are better people. People who actually care about more than themselves, people who aren’t so cowardly that they must hide behind cutting words and passive-aggressive memes. I mean, really! Who wants to be so phony that no one ever sees the real person, no one ever gets to connect with the honest heart inside and, instead, gets rebuffed by a hard, icy exterior devoid of a welcome sign?

I can ask that, and do a lot but I already know the answer. I’ve always known the answer.

© 2019-2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In the company of wolves…

It’s no secret that I was raised by a narcissistic bully and a giggling passive-aggressive with a searing dislike for anyone “more fortunate” than herself. I have written about this numerous times and after each soul cleansing admission the only player in this dark, twisted tale to change is me. As it should be.

Each time I lay it all out there, stripped to the bone and raw for all to see, my personal suffering lessens and I relax just a little more. I forgive a little more while remembering to forget even less. Catalog it for future lessons I say! In getting it out I am freeing myself from anger and shame. I am freeing myself from them.

And by THEM I mean my entire family, not just the ones who refuse to talk to me, who refuse to acknowledge my presence on this earth. Or, refuse to understand that I stood with them when they needed me most while I stood here alone.

Little Red Riding Hood has nothing on me…

It’s okay. I have great balance and an affinity for going my own way, on my own time schedule and without the assistance of unwilling companions. It’s truly becoming easier. I’m not alone anymore.

But, just because something is easy it doesn’t mean that it’s preferable or kind or right. This experience is none of those things yet, in a way, it’s exactly all of those things in the same token. It’s what I expected, it’s what I received and now it’s what I will glean knowledge from to learn and continue growing.

The mysterious, all knowing THEY in life have said that strangers will treat you better than family ever will and I have found this to be remarkably true. Strangers typically have no idea what your net worth is or your nasty secrets when engaging in acts of kindness to someone they see as “in need” of a brief kind gesture. Holding open a door, smiling for no reason other than something in your glance triggered their reaction. It’s nice and I appreciate it so much more now.

While growing up I was taught that each interaction with family produced only two things; anger or indifference. You either made someone mad or you didn’t exist to them. Nothing in between. Oh, I can say that there were times when it appeared we mattered to one another but, in looking back, I see now that it was more of a theatrical show for others so the normal family facade could stay in place. It was not sustainable nor was is real.

When I describe my family as wolves, at first glance it may seem mean spirited. But, in taking many decades worth of steps back I now see it as the ultimate coping mechanism, passed down from one generation to another, infinity. It had to start someplace, we didn’t invent devouring our own or lashing out in fear each time authority (or sanity) is challenged. We may not have invented it but our generation is perfecting it.

Each day, week, month and year that goes by connection is cut further and further and the string holding our family tree together is stretched beyond its limited capacity. It’s still tethered but the longer we go without contact the easier it will be to ignore, reject and justify what we do.

We do nothing. And, that is exactly the point. Nothing comes from nothing but doing nothing when something is required is the ultimate cruelty committed by a species that requires connection to survive. To know how to connect but to refuse to engage in it is madness, a self-fulfilling prophesy for failure.

And, yet, here we are, welcoming the wolves of jealousy, resentment, anger and pettiness around our doorsteps. They sit and dare anyone to attempt reconciliation. Come! They invite you to stand at my door to see what type of greeting you will receive.

Now, here’s the thing about wolves, they don’t always get it right nor do they recognize the evolution of people tired of traditional dysfunction. People so tired of grudges, so tired of secrets, so tired of lies that they stop doing all the expected things and replace the usual reactions with healthy ones instead. Becoming enlightened throws off the wolves scent for blood, and our becoming immune to the aggression and mind-numbing psychosis confuses them.

This is why I write everything down. It’s documented and it’s expressed in a way that leaves no room for alternate interpretation. I said it, I meant it, it’s done. Let the universe receive it for processing so I can go about my life. Let the universe determine the outcome so I can be free to live. No guilt, no worries and no looking back.

Yes, the invitation still stands and is sincere. Come to my door, it’s not barricaded against you. Just remember to leave your wolves at home.

© 2019 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.