Wednesday, February 23, 2011

broken things


one night the doorbell was well after midnight. we heard mens voices. peeking down through the dark stairs to see police officers talking back and forth with our mom. 
our dad had been in a helicopter accident with 2 other men. one man was dead, the other a paraplegic. our dad had broken his back in 3 different places. dad was broken? flying was the one thing i knew that my father truly loved. i'm certain that the knowledge of his never being able to do it again hurt him more than his physical pain.

he was at home now with a back brace and 4 teenage girls. i was 13. while mom was unaware and working full time to get us all through, dad was at home tearing it all down. because he didn't want to be the broken one, he decided to break his children instead. 

he hollered and chased us. he threw heavy things at our heads. he dragged us by our legs across floors. he threw us off the deck. forced us to eat when we were full. forced us to stay awake when we were tired. forced us to stand when ached to sit. he mocked us, humiliated us. he laughed menacingly, ridiculed often, shamed intentionally. sometimes from his big lazy-boy chair he'd slide his glasses down his nose and glare over top of them at us, like he wished we were dead. i remember being most afraid of his eyes, when his eyes caught mine i felt myself shrink quickly into absolutely nothing. 

what coping skills do most young girls have? what about the girl's that have been told they are stupid, ugly and worth nothing by the people they trusted? what happened to these girls? weren't dad's suppose to make you feel special? drive you places and tell stupid embarrassing jokes? weren't they suppose to be vaguely interested in who you were? weren't dad's suppose to keep their daughters safe? weren't they even suppose to love them?

we usually played outside till mom came home. said nothing. she was tired already. i didn't want to make her upset.

finally came the nights of raised voices downstairs. moms wooden rocking chair in a face off with dad's big i'm the king of the house chair. strained voices, tension, pleading and finally crying when i think she realised/confronted him about what was actually happening to us. then finally i remember hearing her scream 'you CANNOT hurt my kids jim!' 'you can't and you bloody well WON'T!' and the following evening crying and his acting like she was crazy...and her screaming  out 'lets just get a fucking divorce then and be done with it!' my eyes open wide in my bed. i wonder if any of my sister's heard? i felt relief. was she really going to make him stop? she was so tired and used up. his heart was black and her's was gone. but even that wasnt good enough....he wanted to conquer and control the only things in the world that meant anything to her. us, her kid's. and suddenly like an animal her strength came back to her. a neighbour and friend helped her, J. to this day mom sends an elephant to J every year on the day she left dad to say 'i wont forget'

i felt excited and scared for my mom. where would dad live? it soon became evident that he wasn't planning on actually going afraid and frantic was being told to get out. it was 'his' house after all. 'his' money. 'her' girls.  she walked out the front door. he held the house and her treasured photo albums of all of us growing up hostage threatening to burn them. we slept at the pastors house, the hospital wing where she worked in empty beds/rooms, neighbours. she made sure we knew to stay away no matter what.

canmore was a small town and it seemed smaller now. everyone knew. as if they didn't know earlier though....i remember years before being slapped in front of the entire school yard by my father. he had yelled 'you stupid little bitch' i was humiliated felt my face go red from the sting of his handpring and of my own shame. the bell rang and i had to walk across the entire playground past all the kids outside starring and into the school. i hoped his hand print wasn't still showing when i sat down at my desk. i hadnt processed it yet. i held back tears. a girl named L was the only person who came up to reassure me that day. she said it was ok that families sometimes fought, although i was sure her's didn't.she was pretty and popular and in my eyes perfect. i will always remember her kindness. that day haunts me. 

so instead of of just standing there in all the stupid, awful, broken pieces... instead of accepting the fact that my dad did this to us, that he hated us all... instead of feeling humiliated and dirty and embarrassed staying in shelters of strangers homes with my weeping mother....i exploded with anger at being let down, being hurt, at being abandoned. i seethed from every pore a hatred that was so intense i wanted to scream out. a hatred so deep that only a teenage girl can know it. a hated that consumed everything and everyone in my path. i completely shut down. my heart stopped feeling. i stopped being. i figured if nobody cared about me...i sure as hell didn't care about them. 

14. i went to school. i stayed with friends. on weekends there were bush parties down by the river and always a house party somewhere if you knew people. i lost my virginity to a remarkably beautiful boy named C. i discovered alcohol. drinking made me feel full of love and energy and purpose. drinking helped me forget how bad i felt about my life. it allowed the edges of my memories to get fuzzy and drift off as if they had happened to another girl and not to me. i felt accepted when i drank. i felt in control and cool. i felt dangerous and amazing. i felt beautiful and free.

15. when i realised the rate at which i could rebel i was truly amazed. there wasn't just cigarette's and alcohol and boys. there were cars and drugs and older men. my friend E and i equipped in our skinny jeans and sexy tops would drive into banff. we partied our underage faces off. waking up in seedy hotel rooms with people left over from the night before. smoking a pack a day, drinking constantly, hitchiking, sleeping with anyone who had something we wanted. i dropped out of school, worked hostessing in pubs, housekeeping. all i wanted to do what keep forgetting. the only way i knew how was drinking.

one night E and i had hitchhiked to the jasper turn off. it was 1am and a trucker let us out. he had been weird with us the whole way. E had her knife in her boot but we didn't know how to actually fight. we quickly thanked him and hopped out said we'd be fine. we scampered off up the exit. waiting for the truck to pull away. it was snowing. he hopped out and darted towards us. we went further into bush. i always thought he came to rape us knowing how alone we were...but maybe he was coming bak to say 'you morons nobody drives by here at 1am your gonna freeze' but we hid far into the bush and we froze. by 3am the warden picked us up and let us stay at her cabin an hour up the road. she was beautiful and quiet. i think she was in complete awe of our stupidity. when we woke up she was gone. we made a point of not stealing anything. we partied in jasper for the next 2 days. dancing, laughing, forgetting how young and afraid we actually were.

i worked at a coffee shop in canmore. met a hippy guy and flew out with him to gabriola island. his mother was out of town for 2 weeks. all i remember is cocaine, campfires and having no money. all i ate were oranges.

16. i met S, he was 31. a solider with the british army who was in canada training other soilders in outdoors adventure training programs. i don't know how it became official but it did. a boyfriend twice my age. statutory rape obviously not a concept i fully understood at that point. sure there was that aspect of the relationship but...
we climbed. we kayaked. we white water rafted. we camped and hiked entire mountain ridges. he wanted to be with me. he wanted to be with... me. he would take care of me. wasn't that love? my mother wanting me to stop my path of destruction, although hesitant of the age gap, eventually let us live in the basement when the lawyers finally evicted dad. we hung nepalese prayer flags and read books about mexico. nothing broke...not for awhile..... be continued. xo ~hea

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

thrice is nice

peek. hello again.

i had a conversation last night over supper with my husband N about this blog. i told him that it felt good to write. he said great but also cautioned me that opening up my life would invite both negative/positive responses. now for the record i'm not blogging for feedback...i honestly truly to the very bottom of my little over caffinated heart don't give a shit what you think... BUT being a self admitted classic 'over share', i immediately got to much of what i reveal is truly mine? who does a memory actually belong too anyways? what is the actual truth, mine or your's? will it heal or will it hurt? and most importantly, what is sacred? it's value possibly diminished by telling it here.

would my mother be angry if she knew i was disclosing her emotional breakdown and hospitalization to the online masses? if i close my eyes and ask her in my mind...i see her shuffling her feet and quietly responding 'i dont care what you do heather' 
truthfully my mother wouldn't know a blog if it ran up and hit her square in the face. also i think she'd understand because she also writes theraputically and purges her own thoughts, albiet onto paper. besides if she wanted to kill me surely she would have done it by now.  the things i have done that trump this. my mother was my true beginning, she is the strongest and most honest person i have ever encountered. so much to the point that i shy from her so that i wont have to go back 'there' i am in awe of her resilience and ability to endure. i do not judge her, i have no right. she is the only one absolutely exempt from this in all regards. she made me and i am thankful. 

now if your not my mother here's the deal. if we know each other, if we're related, if you love/d me, and we shared a portion of life together somehow and i make reference to you in my writing; if i say something that comes too close to your heart, i ask that you forgive me. i will only use a capital letter for you. example...M is for my mom's first name. that way a sliver of anonymity remains your's. if someone is able to identify you by your actions, thats your own fault. my intent is not to scar, my intent it to rid and to remember things that have such beauty and meaning to me i cant believe they've never once surfaced in text before. lord knows they've certainly gasped for air throughout the years. 

i guess a part of my self deprication and silence about the beginning is connected to the fact that one of my earliest lessons in life was to stay quiet and to keep back. back from my fathers rages, his punishments, the immense trajectory of his own unhealed past. his father M used to take him and whip him with a long leather strap behind the barn. horrifying to imagine my dad as just a small boy being hurt like that. where does a child put pain like that? most boys keep it inside. it changes you. eventually it finds an outlet. the silence surrounding child abuse is almost deafening. out of respect for myself and my sisters i will say only that the abuse from my father consisted of only physical and emotional, never sexual and that to my knowledge he never once hit my mother. when your a kid it's very scary seeing your mom helpless and crying...because if she's not ok...what's going to become of you? i used to keep all my special things in a box in the bottom of the closet...only now have i thought back enough to imagine why. why i hardly played with them, or left them about on the floor, enjoyed them...i kept them all in the same place in case i had to grab them and leave. i didn't feel safe.

i was the helper, the girl who found things people lost, the one who tried to make it better. i watched and listened. dad was angry and mom was sad. dad got angrier, mom got sadder. why was he angry? nobody talked too much about that. in the very beginning he left her for months on end, isolated on that remote farm miles from anything or anyone, with 4 little girls. no help. no support. nobody. were we bad? were we doing something wrong? how could we fix it? what should we do better? maybe mom hoped he'd change, maybe she thought it was her fault, maybe she was in denial and kept having babies to keep herself surrounded in love despite him, maybe she didn't know any different because of her own abusive father and upbringing. grandpa, something else that nobody talks about. mumble mumble...'he's changed, he's a better man, he's done a lot of healing in his later years'. he's almost 90 so you can't be too mad at him now can you? for fuck sakes i just cashed his christmas cheque last week, he even sent extra money for my 2 kids. i can't be too mad despite the fact that he beat my mom and never once said how sorry he was to her. he never once took accountability because men just didn't in his day. men were just like that. the fact he's nice now is evolution enough. bullshit. his anger trickled down...hurting everything it touched. it made my mom cower when she was bullied, it made he question her own worth, it made her not able to stand up for herself for years and years when she knew she probably should have, it made her stay with dad. it caused us to be in the very same position as her. 

there are so many good memories. mom's homemade bread, skating, the garden, our trikes on the back porch, the cats, playing outside, visiting neighbours, the long lane, our forts, exploring. today she describes raising babies up north to be the happiest time of her life and i don't doubt it for a second. it was an amazing start. what she doesn't mention is that although there were too many good times to count the bad times depleted her already limited reserves, made her emotionally unavailable to her children, and in time completely broke her spirit. 

i feel a very heavy weight on my heart when i think what it was like for her. now as an adult i realize how much she endured and how much more she deserved. my mother is one of the very few people who eventually broke the cycle of abuse.

i had already started drinking and smoking because i was mad and it felt good to do something bad. nobody was watching me, no roof above me, nobody to answer too. at the time i didn't see that mom needed us. i just saw myself. i slept on couches and in men's bed's. i hitchhiked to BC with my friend E and got chased and threatened by trucker's with knife's and old men in car's. touching your leg and smiling at you. i got picked up by police and fingerprinted for being drunk and somewhere i shouldn't have been. i stole money and clothing. i took advantage of people's kindness and looked out for myself. i was scared. i was humiliated and angry. the connection to my family caused a resentment because acknowledging them meant remembering why i felt the way i did, of who my dad was. i pretended i didn't know them because it hurt to be in our family.
did you know that things can be entirely shattered and actually keep on breaking? its unbelievable what a father can break inside the heart of a little girl. 

so it's decided i'm voyeuristic then in my writing this...latoya without a book deal. although its probally the tamest analogy of yoyeurism i have ever taken part in, considering the years of promiscuity, drug and alcohol dependencies/addictions and what my mother likes to refer to as my 'risky' behaviors that where soon to follow.

Friday, February 4, 2011

up north

well hello again. round two. get yer coffee.

if it's all the same with you i will start in the very beginning.
'up north' is what we called our farm in northern alberta where my sisters and i lived when we were small. i have 3 sisters. one older, two younger. we are each seperated by 2 years. the farm was many acres of land that my dad had decided to buy and rent out to actual farmers in hope of making a profit.

after meeting in the lobby of a bank somewhere in northern california, mom who was fresh out of university and had never been kissed...tells the story like this 'he was just standing right there in the middle of the lobby like he owned the fucking place...his long fabric pants and white cotten shirt....long hair and big beard. beads and amulets hanging from his neck, feather's and powders in his sachets, smelling of incense' her very first hippie! her original travel companion, her 2nd cousin who was at the time into eating acid and having orgee's was deserted for what she remember's being 'a safer choice' they all sort of blended in with each other as i'm told people did in the 60's and continued onto their destination. Mexico.
they returned home after months of travelling in the van unofficially married on a beach somewhere. ringing the doorbell of his mother's westside Vancouver apartment she supposedly whispered through the door before opening it 'oh thank goodness your not brown dear'

they made it to northern alberta and started building our house over the next few years. during the build we lived in a canvas tent in the yard which we called the 'indian tent'. it had a picture of a very beautiful indian man hung above the wash basin. a 2x4 framed bed frame with matresses thrown up high like a gypsy camp. oil lamps, cotton robes, floodlights, old rocking chair, firepit, lots of blankets, generator, tanks of gasoline.
i liked how the indian tent smelled like oil and canvas. mom dipped us into the lake to clean us, if we came up with leeches on our skin mom had the salt ready. a few years later we got a white sink like the kind you find in garages. we played with nature and each other. we used the outhouse if it wasn't -40 below and went into a little metal pot beside our bed if it was. i remember being so free to roam. mudpits and vegetable gardens and skating on the pond. cats everywhere and the endless forrest and tree's and sky. poking at birds nests and listening the the wind. the old abandoned school bus we played in parked on the land and the swinging fence and stray dogs. the fireplace and ratty wintercoats and the rusty swingset. my sister in a potato box coming home from the hospital. mom slicing meat and cheese at picnics with her small hunting knife. the moose in the yard at winter time. sometimes a bear, then we had to run in quick.

dad flew helicopters for a living and in his spare time transported hash and god knows what else around the northern territories in them. he would be gone for long periods and when he landed his chopper in the backyard we'd run down to the dock excited and holler 'how many bags of money did you bring dad?' i remember him bringing home what he was usually paid in, furs. fox, polar bears, grizzly, seal, mink.

when your little you don't  understand the big picture. you just know that your dad is home and has brought something that you've never seen before. something very special with eyes and teeth looking at you. my dad had an untouchable feeling to him. he was kind of exciting and kind of scary all at once. he'd put the polar bear skin over his shoulders, chase us around on all fours growling. show us the bullet hole but claim a natural death. i'd pee my beds for nights afterwards thinking about being eaten alive. 'where did the living animal go from underneath the fur?' 'did it hurt for it's fur to be taken off?'

mom made us memorize our phone number. 494 2203. i will never forget it. she said if she fell off something up high and couldn't move or an animal got her or she got shot we needed to call the hospital then the neighbours. dad was barely home and mom had to maintain everything herself. she shot beavers out of the pond, kept the woodstove warm, chopped wood, shovelled snow, set snares/animal traps, baked bread. eventually after on and off help from dad over years of being left to raise her 4 babies without running water/electricity she had what the doctor told her was an 'overdue nervous breakdown' and was hospitalized for severe depression. a menonite girl named sarah came to help. i remember she had the longest hair i'd ever seen and proudly told us that she had never once cut it. it touched all the way down to her bum. we'd twirl it in our fingers and pretend it was reigns and she was our horsey. if we could we'd peek up inside her long skirt just to see. she played dad's music and laughed with us a lot. she stayed a long time and lived in the spare room. one time we went to a dinner at her house and i remember she had 14 siblings. it was like an entire town was her family. and they all were kind and happy like her. mom cried a lot and sarah played with us.

eventually we packed all of our things inside the old school bus and found seats thats still had buckles. we grabbed as many cats as we could find, our muddy feet and snacks mom had thrown in beside us. i remember feeling extremely sad and anxious to go and leave everything we had ever know behind. who would live at our farm? what would happen to our fort? would thedogs be ok? dad pulled the bus full of our entire lives out of the long front lane in 1988 and started to drive his emotionally distant wife and 4 little girls with tangles in their hair and dirty feet south, to a place called Canmore. dad had a job flying athletes and equipment for the 1988 winter olympics.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

1st blog ever

i will begin this journey by first apologizing to my father in law because although i know he prefers when i use capital letter's and proper punctuation. as much as i admire and love this man....i honestly can't be arsed to keep hitting the caplocks button at the beginning of each sentence. so if lower case bother's you...i'll turn my head so you can sneak out. if read on, for inside my mind there lives a great great deal.

i aim to blog about my every day life. my kids, my husband will no doubt appear endlessly as they are the one's who i live for. i will begin by telling you how i got to my 30th year, the things that changed me, the critical choices, the long lost memories, my inability to take care of myself, my son, his gift, my healing, and finally my i found my place in it all.
a main part of my blog will be about autism as it is something my heart has had to fully absorb the impact of. another part of it will be about addiction &recovery as this too has been an enormous area of what i have survived and continue too.
mostly this blog will be full of evidence of a neurotic captive mother who in desperate times turned to her computer as a companion. some of me comes out in a painting every 10 years, some of me comes out in an angry screaming match to the bitch at TD for not transferring my rent like she confirmed she did, some of it comes out in guilt but most of it will come out in love. because if i am melted down and separated into parts....the container that would  have the most inside of it would be marked 'Love'. note the capitals.

so.... it would be ok with me for you to peek inside, as scandalous as it feels right now. it's good to breath out every so often, so it begins.....934 Feathers.