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With Sugar and Spice, Everything’s Nice

Queen Anne's Lace

by: Jim Dollar Photography

The last time I wrote a blog entry, I had planned to write about, had even previously posted a warning for my lesbian friends regarding, the numerous guys in my life. Yes, I have had many men, and they have been WONDERFUL! Make no mistake. I’ve had guys who were macho…and intellectually challenged. I’ve had guys who were just intellectually challenged, except for that important, seemingly-un-teachable bedroom prowess. I’ve had guys who were fully intellectual and soft like the underbelly of a kitten. I’ve even had guys who were girls, trapped inside the body with the penis. I’ve had nerds, of both sexes, and lots of nerds, and were I not in a monogamous, committed relationship (with a nerd, I might add), I just might be agreeable to hunting up some more of them because I LOVE ME SOME NERDS!

I’ve come to realize, though, that this is not what I first want to write about. This may be a factor in my not coming back to this space for a while. I needed some time to settle in and discover what to talk about next. It’s not that I don’t want to talk about or remember the guys. I do that, and I’ve done that, and we will do that here—but not now. Not now, because that is not what my “now” life is about and, no offense meant to the many amazing men out there, they are not my calling. Not the men with penises anyway. No, I’m made up of the stuff who likes a woman with a little bit of man in her. That’s not a “cutsie” way of referring to a threesome, either.

I think that the people I most admire in this life that we’re living, are the people who encompass characteristics of both genders. It’s not just in the way that they look, but in the way that they carry themselves and the activities that they choose to pursue. There are lines that are crossed by many intellectual males that cause our cultural judgments to label them as more feminine, and I’m not sure that this is a truth, but it is how they are perceived. I don’t know if being a “thinking man” who likes to care for children and keep himself groomed is truly “feminine”. I know plenty of stupid, dirty girls who are horrible mothers, and we don’t label them “masculine”. Nevertheless, when we see a man like the one I’ve described above, we think of him as feminine—and I’ll take it! LOVE men like that! They aren’t LESSER men. They’re BETTER men.

On the flipside, if a girl doesn’t like to wear makeup and lace, if she’s good with tools in her hands, and I don’t mean in the bedroom-prowess way, if she doesn’t mind grease, bugs and ballcaps, she’s often culturally seen as masculine. We even have a phrase for that: tomboy. I’m here to tell you that not all girls like these girls feel boyish at ALL. If you were to ask them to describe themselves on the inside, you’d find them to be just as moody, sensitive and romantically-inclined as any girl with fake nails, plucked eyebrows and a short skirt.

My point is this, I don’t know or understand all of the differences in the masculine and the feminine, and I’m not sure that anyone does. Once one starts to delve deeper into these labels, they make less and less sense. What I do know, is that there is an undercurrent in some people, there is this coating and slathering of energy that reaches out to me and says, “I am both male and female; I am a complete being.” All wrapped up in that neat little emotive package is also the sexual energy of the individual. It’s this plus some kind of pheromonal concoction that draws all of us to one another when we wish to couple-up.

I’ve encountered, as I’m sure have most of you out there, sexual energy in people that has transcended anything else that they might be sending out. This has nothing to do with gender, and often, nothing even to do with sexual preference. Some people are just SEXY! It’s a part of their makeup, and I’m not sure that THAT has anything to do with the business of being masculine or feminine either. I can say that, from certain folks, I feel very drawn to something that feels like masculinity, and from others, something that feels like femininity. There’s no proper way to really describe it, because I’d need words that we don’t have in this language; words to describe the emotions and energy exchanges that pass every day, unnamed (and this is not the same thing as unexpressed), between people. It’s not about what they do, what they wear, or even how they choose to act.

We humans like to think that we are long past the acting of hormones and the wild call of mating desires that throb through our species—but this is simply not the case. At our core, we are animals, and there is nothing that puts me more in touch with this fact than when I’m in the room with a certain type of woman. If there’s a butch lesbian or a transgendered man (a man who resides within the physical body of a woman) around, I know it. My mind and body find her/him. My spirit senses her and turns our energy to her. And she finds me. The same thing is happening with her. I can not tell you how many times I’ve looked across a crowded room full of “normal” folks, and briefly met the eyes of a woman that our culture would label lesbian, then looked—quickly—away. But the look is enough. From even before the look, there is this connection that reaches out, the connection that sparks the look, beyond any awareness of ourselves, and links us together. It feels to me, like destiny. It always has.

I’m not sure what this means, or if it “means” anything. I’ve long thought that there is a balance of all things in this Universe we currently occupy. If a thing exists, then so does its counterpart. As a matter of fact, it would not surprise me to learn that the moment a “thing” springs into existence, its counterweight spontaneously appears. This type of reasoning, I apply to my own sexual leanings. There are, in existence, human beings who are everywhere on the gender scale from male to female, and everywhere on the sexual orientation scale, from heterosexuality to homosexuality (and may I remind you that gender and sexual identities have nothing to do with one another). For each of these individuals, there is their counterbalance in the form of a partner who is seeking out that which they are able to give. For me, the individual that I am most successful at lock-and-keying-it with is the woman, as I said before, with a little bit of man in her. —Or a lot.

This is not to say that there aren’t people who don’t fit that description to whom I don’t also find myself extremely drawn. Sometimes, that’s because they’re one of the “just-sexy” people. Sometimes, frilly and feminine women with no expressed hint of maleness attract my attention, because I am a lover of ALL women, and not limited in my appreciation for the feminine presence and form. There may be other things about myself and another person that mesh; a joining of intellectual energies, moral commonality, spiritual journeying, or other shared traits to which sexual expression has attached itself and strung along the lines of other-connectedness. However, when it comes to raw, animalistic, almost-unfailing sexual energy, it’s the girl/boy who gets my attention the fastest, holds it the longest, and fills-me-to-the-brim with intensity.

I remember the very first time that I felt this phenomenon, and from that first awakening, it has never, not ever, stopped. Nor do I expect it to—or even want it to. There’s no reason to wish for things to be any different. One of our greatest challenges as beings, here, is to accept ourselves—learn to recognize, and rejoice in, that which we are. This doesn’t mean that we can’t take side roads, put on a coat of a different color, try something that we never thought we’d try. All too often, people put themselves in little boxes with these unending sides, with only previously-approved allowable contents. This includes their self-professed gender and sexual identities. It seem silly really, for why else are we here but to experience ALL that life has to offer? What God would gift us with all of this, set a bowl of confection before us, and beg us not to eat of it? Well, the God of the Christian Old Testament would, but that’s a complaint (maybe a blog post?) for another time!

For now, and first, I plan to share with you the wonderful sweets who have been the girls of my life, some of the girls who’ve been boys in my life, and I’ll probably throw in a couple of “just boys” (if there truly, really IS such a thing) as I go along. We shall see which stories come to the surface, and I’ll hope that you will enjoy with me the delicious tales that make up the experiences of the whole of the entity: “The Deneen”.

Thanks, as always to Jim Dollar Photography.  You make my blog, not to mention my life, pretty!

Posted in My Life Today, My Loves and Lovers, Where Am I Now?.

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We Had a Dream

Milkweed Pod

Milkweed Launch by: Jim Dollar Photography

This morning, I had the privilege to be presented with the vision of two more of my personalities. I was dreaming of them when I awoke, and at first mistook it for an ordinary dream. But, as I ran my mind over the details of it, from inside of me, someone piped up and said, “That’s us.” I knew, right away, what she meant:

“Get her out of here”, the matronly woman sitting at the head of the kitchen table says to the strong and authoritative man standing before her. He nods in acquiescence, gently placing his hand on the crook of the arm of the waiting young girl — to whom he looks, and feels, like family.

They are gathered in the kitchen of the old farmhouse, a summer day pouring through windows that wear minimal curtains, even those flowered bits of cloth being shoved open in tight bunches against the end of their cheap, white rods. The table itself is nothing of fashionable note; its woodsy-green veneer supports a half-filled pot and a growing stack of peelings as the older woman works-up potatoes in preparation for some future meal.  Momma’s face is round and soft like her body, her light-brown hair caught up into a sensible bun, her build a bit portly. Her dress is a non-descript thing with a distinctively home-made look, short sleeves cutting into her ample arms a bit. The faded pattern of her old-timey clothing extends down, right to end of her knees, the whole, straight skirt tucked tightly underneath her legs so as to prevent them sticking in the summer heat to the cheap vinyl chairs that complete the dining set. Her hands are her most remarkable feature. They are round and dainty, with well-kept longish fingernails.  Already, they are beginning to wrinkle and knob with age and hard work, but strength exudes from them. Their strength is what has brought the work that has etched itself into their surface, and when these hands gesture and point with an order, not a single person in their presence would ever question the authority they, or their owner, conveyed.

“Wait!” the young girl protests, casting a furtive look from deep-brown eyes into the matching eyes of the Man-At -Arms who would command her away, and out the door. “What about her?”

The sound of Momma’s knife against the skin of the root-vegetable stops, and the man steps forward a bit and turns so that all eyes are focused on the other end of the rickety table, directly across from where Momma sits at the head.  The girl, at whom they all stare, is looking right back, somehow managing to gaze deeply into all of their eyes simultaneously. She is younger than the rest of them, and seems even tinier than she actually is as she postures herself tightly against the back of the chair, almost fading into it, and exuding a barely quelled fear. As everyone looks on, ghostly figures approach the diminutive form, the wall behind her becoming first transparent, then, fading away altogether. She doesn’t break the visual connection with the others, even as abject terror begins to form in the deep, dark pools of her eyes in response to the, growing ever louder, murmuring sound of voices starting to engulf her. The translucence of what has become an approaching crowd is beginning to dissipate, as two figures, gaining solidity, step to either side of the younger girl, each one firmly grasping an arm while gazing down upon her with stern and disapproving looks. Holding the right arm of the little girl is a woman who seems to be in charge, and her mouth moves, giving muffled and indiscernible orders to those poised and waiting.

“Get her out of here!” Momma’s voice breaks the spell, repeating her previous directive with more force. “She doesn’t need to see this.” Man-At-Arms only nods, turning away from the younger and more helpless of the two girls, tightening the grip on his charge. He turns, attempting to turn her with him, and point her out through the open, wooden door-frame.

“NO!” she protests, trying to jerk out of his grasp, looking back to the scene at the table’s end. “We can’t leave her!”

“Child, you have to,” Momma says, not unkindly.

“I’m not going to leave her. They’re going to hurt her!”

“Now, you hush up and go on out there. She’s stayin’ so that you can do that. You have people outside, right now, waitin’ on you. You have to go and talk to those people. That’s what you have to do. Don’t you worry, now. She’s gotta’ stay here for you, and she’s agreed to stay here, and she’s gonna’ stay here, and that’s just how this works.”

Momma looks at Man-At-Arms. “Taker her on out now – and hurry!”

The older girl struggles a bit against the strong man, glancing back at her other self, all the while distracted by the feeling of other attentions that are, indeed, tugging at her from somewhere, far outside herself, leaving her with an uncomfortable feeling that there is something she’s being called to do.

The younger girl is becoming smaller, fading with her accompaniment into the background, and beginning to lose her focus on the scene in the kitchen as more and more hands grab at her, pulling her away, holding her down, beginning to produce hard metal instruments, cruel looking corkscrews and levers and a basket full of mysterious things.

“No! I can’t let them hurt her, NO!” still adamantly affirming herself, the girl looking on, nonetheless, complies allowing Man-At-Arms to orient her towards the door outside as, deep in some other part of herself, she knows that the hurting can’t be stopped. The best that can be hoped for is that it is endured. She casts one more desperate look into her escort’s immobile face. He has short, soft brown hair. He is taller than her with a broader body that is well-muscled without being bulky. Self-assurance exudes from him, along with a toughness of spirit, and an unquestionable air of authority. He is purposeful, but not unkind. In fact she can feel the empathy from his warm and soft eyes, feel it even in his touch, as she attempts one last plea. “Please! They’re going to take it all out of her!

Indeed, the older girl doesn’t even have to look back at the younger, because she can see through her eyes, feel her spirit the same as if it were her own…because it is. “They’re taking the carrots!” she finds herself blurting in panic. She doesn’t even know what that means, but she feels the giant corkscrew being laid lengthwise along her abdomen.  As the sadistic crowd surrounds her, looking down, her seating dissolves in a smooth motion that lays her upon the floor, and someone begins to turn the handle of the device, inserting it into the meat of her. The basket appears to slide its way, in a floating fashion, through the crowd that it seems to be a part of, its journey coming to completion in the hands of the female leader.  Carrots flow out of it, and other vegetables wait, mostly hidden as they form a line out of the basket, disappearing into the crowd.  As the metal device begins to turn, carrots are being forcefully and painfully wound through, up and out, as it rips its torturous way into the girl’s opened flesh. She begins to scream –

–But Man-At-Arms shoves her through the door and out, into the open air, and the scream of her other self evaporates along with their psychic connection as other voices command her attention. She becomes aware of the presence of many smiling people, milling about in the happy and brightly juxtaposed back-yard of the house. Man-At-Arms is no longer holding onto her. He is behind her, keeping and guarding her back. “These people,” he says, “are expecting you. You must go out and talk and mingle with them now.” The young girl can feel the truth in his words, feel the safety with him at her back. The painful screams, still exuding from her other self, are but a speck on her awareness and will soon be faded to nothing.

Even her protector is forgotten as she steps off the porch of the house, into the real world; out into the sunshine, her face genuinely beaming at the waiting guests with happiness, and a lack-of-concern. All pain is forgotten. All suffering is gone.

“Oh, you guys!” she says, opening wide her accepting arms. “It’s so good to see you! I’m so glad you came!”

Man-At-Arms waits in the wings, unnoticed and unacknowledged, arms crossed across his broad chest, watching her proudly. When she has to interact with the outside world, she really brings it! He smiles, secure and delighted in the knowledge that this part of her, is also a part of himself. Momma steps up beside him to look out, wiping potato juice from her hands with a checkered, kitchen dish-towel. The two exchange a nod, and gazing out into the summer yard where stands their protege, a smile.

“Our girl,” Momma says, “she’s doin’ good.”

“Yes, she is,” concurs Man-At-Arms.

“We’re all gonna’ be alright,” she adds, wincing, but not doubtful as her awareness hears the continuing screams from inside the kitchen. “We’ve all just gotta’ keep our parts.”

We wish to express our eternal gratefulness to Jim Dollar , for he is somehow able to capture the spirit of the feelings within our soul, and lend them to images in his photographs — which he graciously allows us to use.

Posted in My Personalities.

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Tree Gazer

Fall Trees From Ground

Tree Tops: by Jim Dollar Photography


It should come as no surprise to me that most of my life, I’ve been afraid of being alone.  Whenever I am alone, the shell-overlay that keeps me together starts dropping, disintegrating, and I am left with the shattered pieces of what makes up my selves, all vying to have their voices heard and their needs met.  I can remember, when I was a younger girl, getting an extreme sense of panic whenever I was alone.  Not always, though.  At times, I craved that time of sole being, connecting with nature and the world around me; connecting with what I then called “God”.  There do seem to be more parts of me that are afraid of being alone than that revel in it, though, and there is this underlying lack of being able to catch my breath that streams out from me whenever I am left to my own thoughts.  It is confusing, to even me, this frightening unknown regarding which of these thoughts, which personalities are going to come barreling through – and face forward.

It always surprises me when I meet a new one.  There are so many facets of me that are yet to be discovered.  I’m not exactly a diamond in the rough, instead, I am cut by some mysterious jewel-maker into differing reflecting sides.  These sides aren’t all symmetrical, and they aren’t all polished.  Some don’t seem to be sides at all, but little juttings-out or material that form a small ledge, or bump, off the main formation.  Often, they are sides that I’ve never seen, having equally, no idea of their existence.  In the quiet, when only my inner voices are heard, when the distractions and confusion of my outer world grow still, a small voice can sometimes make its way to the surface of us.

As I am outside doing menial chores in the crisping air of descending fall, this is just such a day, as it brings out another of us while I am taking care of the animals that make up so much of my present life.  One of those very rough-cut or jutting sides surfaces — comes forth from within me.  It begins with the changing out of the waters for the wolf-dogs.

Whenever I am using hosepipes, the smooth rubber molding sliding with a familiar fit into my smallish hand, whenever I am dipping animal foods from bags, the powdered scent of the processed bits clouding up to assault my nostrils, I am taken back to periods of time from my childhood, spent in the barns and coops and pens, yards and woods and pastures.  I see the hoses that we used on the farm when I was a child.  The animals of my memory come and take drinks.  I see the rusting metal bowls, the upside-down hubcaps, the wooden troughs.  Dogs walk through my mind’s eye and lick up the cool liquid:  Jo-Jo, the German Shepherd, Chigger, the feist, Terry, the Bulldog lapped the water as it emerged from the spigot, Sirius, the old, sick stray that I’d befriended, daily delivering water – right up to where he sat.

Water slides down from the pipe in my mind’s eye, filling to overflowing the containers, as Hogs push each other with dirty snouts.  Gathering in the ensuring mud, they jostle for the prime positions for the best fare being slopped from my father’s metal bucket.  The splash of water against the side of stainless-steel bowls calls to multi-colored, glittering yard-chickens.  Coming in an awkward run, they dip down their feathered heads, lift orange-yellow beaks to the sky as the cool well-water slides down their parched throats, and my eyes scan the grassy tufts from which they emerged, trying to decipher there the hidden nests of fresh eggs.  Cats weave and twine betwixt my legs, attempting to trip me up as I progress from one animal’s station to another.

This youthful environment provides innumerable opportunities for me to join with, and appreciate, the soul of nature.  Skip forward to the current scenes that make up my “now” life, and it is easy to see that my current environment, full of dogs and cats and woods and sun, reflects this same connection.  These similar experiences build bridges that, inadvertently, drag me back and forth across times.  Flashbacks start.  My senses are confused.  I’m not sure where or “when” I am, or who I’m connected to.  I’m not sure which of my personalities is supposed to be “facing forward”, and I may even forget who the important people in my life are.  I have lists of people who are critical to me at any given point – but the lists are rarely ever tied to any independent feeling of where they belong in time.  I depend upon outside, experiential, environmental clues for that.

I stand at the home where I reside in what you all know as the current time.   Above the enclosures for the wolfdogs tower large trees and my eyes are drawn up the length of them to stop where their branches meet the sky.  The sight of deciduous leaves and evergreen needles create a lace fabric, fractals upon fractals revealing their primordial patterns in this limitless, visual canvas.  This day, as my eyes fall upon the pattern made by the deep green of the trees against the bright blue of the sky, I morph.  I shift.  I become a thing, a beast, stopped in time — my gaze locked on that beautiful mystery of nature that must have invoked feelings in the innermost heart of those who originated our species, from the time when our newly opened eyes first ever saw the scene.

Looking up into this tapestry of nature, some primal self awakens within me.  I am drawn up, into the trees, my spirit, my very existence seeming to bond with them.  My body, on the ground, is frozen, as affixed to its spot as any rooted tree ever was.  I am immobilized – – outside of time.  Everything is stillness, and stillness is Everything.  The air blows through me, the very act of my breathing a thing of non-happening.  I am one with the earth, therefore, in flesh, I am nothing.  I am Tree Gazer.

I’m not sure what has gone on in the life of Tree Gazer.  I’m not sure why he looks at dissociation into the trees as an escape from events in this mortal plane.  He can see nothing around him; only above.  He is aware only of the fact that he is an invisible part of Earth.  Nothing can touch him, nothing can harm him; he cannot move, for he is not.

As soon as he slips into our primary train of conscious being, I know him as myself and my brother, both.  For The-Me-Who-Is-Speaking-To-You-Now remembers stepping aside, and back, letting Tree Gazer come in to become one with the beauty of the forest, to become invincible in his nothingness so that goings-on did not affect us.  The-Me-Who-Is-Speaking-To-You-Now suspects that these days were days at school, in the forest behind the playgrounds, or at the farm, past the pastures, lying atop fallen leaves on the gentle, tree-laden hills that led to the creek in our woods.  Then again, perhaps, at our Grandmother’s house, behind the old out-buildings.  These are places where our physical form was most likely lying – while Tree Gazer stopped our pain, taking us up – – to join beauty, up and away into the most majickal of places where the trees meet the sky.  Where all is well!  All is well when All is nought.

We are stuck, Tree Gazer and I, staring into the treetops, and as liquid begins escaping from the top rim of the metal washtub in the enclosure of the wolfdogs, Jupiter and Merlin, there is a part of us that is aware of what you all perceive as “now”.  There is a knocking at the door of our awareness from some unknown someone else inside who is saying, “You must re-engage with this life – for there are other living beings who need your waters, and there is a bill for it that will have to be paid, so you mayn’t stand here, staring into space like one devoid of your senses!  WAKE UP!!”

And with a sigh of resignation, deep down in our spirit, we climb our awareness up to the top, and out, and descending, falling from the Heavens, slowly, ever so reluctantly…we Awake.

Thanks to:  Jim Dollar Photography, for this beautiful representation of what Tree Gazer sees!

Posted in Dissociative Identity Disorder, My Life Today, My Personalities.

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The Cutting Edge

Trout Lilly

Trout Lilly on Black by Jim Dollar Photography


I’m going to be put to sleep again.  Another surgical procedure – though this time it’s only a biopsy and a couple of lights and cameras.  At times past, the repercussions to my body were much greater.  Every time that I face being put under, I ask myself the questions that are probably normal questions for everyone to ask.  What if I don’t wake up? What if this night is my last night on Earth?

After all, there are people who don’t wake up.  One has to sign that “Waiver” that basically states, “If I don’t wake up, nobody has the right to sue you because I know that those are the risks I am taking.”  Still, I don’t think anyone ever PLANS to not wake up.  Maybe some people have, and it would be interesting to know whether or not those people woke up.  The one time that I planned to not wake up, life thwarted my plans — but that time had nothing to do with a surgery.  After that rude awakening, I walked around feeling like a ghost for months.  Looking at my life from the parallel place that would have been my non-existence, trying to imagine how the world that I was reluctantly seeing before me would have performed without my physical presence in it.

Surviving operations, having health problems thwarted via modern medicine, these experiences have left me with the same sort of perspective.  If I had been born in a time or a place without modern medicine, I’d have died as a teenager, while giving birth to my first daughter.  Most likely, she’d have died as well.  As it was, it took a valiant effort and an extreme amount of suffering to bring her forth into this world.  When it came time for her to birth her own first daughter, it again took a team of people to help my granddaughter arrive here safely, and alive.  I think about how this is against the evolutionary progress of the species, realizing that my genes would have been culled out from those of the fittest, the most survivable of our race.  I ponder what it means that we are a people who take care of the weak, the injured, the deformed, the imperfect.  It’s unclear to me if this is evidence of our becoming stronger as a species because we are showing compassion, thus an elevated plane of “living”, or if it only serves to weaken us so that any beings we encounter who do not share our reverence for human life will slaughter us quickly, mercilessly.

This morning, my worry isn’t about this survival of our species, but about my personal survival.  Surviving has presented a conundrum for me all along since I seem to have been born without that basic appreciation for life that I’m told I should have.  Mostly, it’s about the suffering, these feelings in me that my living is a thing too difficult to be borne by the mere mortal that I am.  It seems that I need more than this one lifetime in order to work out why the living is worth it in the balance, or that I’ve lived enough lifetimes to know that it is not.  That is not to say that there are not times when I am exuberant about living!  Excited about living!  The mere present made to me of a full-of-color fall leaf, or a multicolored stone, the breathtaking landscapes of Earth, the overpowering brilliance of a sunset, I suspect that I drink these things in more fully than most humans do.  Perhaps it is this lingering at death’s door that makes me even more appreciative of the miraculous beauty in every part of living that I make it through.  I would not trade any of those sorts of time in my living for dying.  It’s the remembering them when I am so overwhelmed that is the crux of my problem.

I also suffer from survivor’s guilt.  Isn’t every woman some mother’s daughter?  Every son, some father’s son?  It seems unfair to me that I have access to modern medicine, that when my gallbladder and ovaries and uterus all went haywire, I was able to have the offending parts removed and continue living the life that is deprived of others who are not so lucky.  Not just the people who lived in our past before our surgeons got this good, but the people who die in the here and now, today, in the jungles, or on a cot lining the halls of a non-sterile building in a non-air-conditioned medical center, their faces, their presences, the ghosts of them flit through my mind.  Who decides who lives and who dies?  Who decides who gets to live when, and who gets to live where?  I’m not the only one who ponders these questions.  These are questions for the ages.  Even if these questions are answered in my next incarnation, I am certain that other mysteries will come to replace the present ones, and I will still be left wondering.  This seems to be a terminal condition of my now evolving life-form.

Another thing that some might consider an oddity is that I have wondered why we allow ourselves this act of sleeping through the violence done to our physical form.  I firmly believe that our higher self is awake and aware of every thing that ever happens to us, and that these realities are ingrained within our soul whether we are conscious of them or not.  That has certainly proven to be the case with my Dissociative Disorder.  As a child, I asked myself why people wanted to be put to sleep when it was obvious that their bodies would still KNOW what happened.  It seemed better to go through it consciously, so at least one would understand WHY there was damage to their psyches.  I was determined that if I ever needed surgery, I’d want to be aware of what people were doing to me.

A friend of mine has been unfortunate enough to have woken up during surgical procedures, and hearing her tell the tale makes me know that I would not want to be awake!  I’ve read enough true and invented tales of people who are aware and alert while losing limbs, being disemboweled, having layers of injured skin peeled away, that I know my childish idea was one better left dismissed.  I’m not even saying that it isn’t true, the thing that I believed about our knowing all that has happened to us physically being better in the long run, but I’ve experienced enough of my own suffering to know that my naive notions of wanting to KNOW what has happened to my body at all times is a flight of fancy better left fanciful!  There must be a mark left upon our overall being, though.  There must be some residual, “What the fuck was that dissociation through medicine that you just did, and then you let a stranger poke knifes in me and carve me up while you were gone?” feeling left over in our bodies somewhere.

Being alive in the time that I’m in is a thing for which I’m grateful.  Having doctors who can repair bodies is a thing for which I am grateful.  My son would not be alive today if surgery had not been performed on his tiny form, barely a year old, and as he makes his own way down the path of a medical career, I realize that he is a part of the perpetuated cycle.  Modern medical techniques save a life that would have been lost, and that life continues to study more in the annals of medicine so that future people can be saved and contribute more to this world.  So, what does this mean for us, this fact that we now sometimes get to decide who lives and who dies?  Because, that’s really what it is.  When my gallbladder attacks got so bad that I could barely eat and was in a constant state of pain, because I was born in America, because I was smart enough to work the system and obtain a physician, because I acquired the resources to pay someone to cut me, and because someone agreed to cut me for a fee, I got to live.  At that same moment, I’m sure that elsewhere in the world, another girl, in the same physical circumstance, lay dying.

The point is that with all of our “evolved” thinking, with all of our progress, I’m not sure that we are making progress in the way that I would consider true goodness.  We live with blinders on.  Some of us on this planet live with so much to eat that our health is affected in very negative ways.  As a person who is overweight and who has type two Diabetes, I’m only too aware of my own participation in this system.  Others of us on this planet live with so little to eat that our health is affected in very negative ways.  Intelligent, worthwhile people, people like my son, those people starve to death or die of untreated diseases and afflictions every day.  Tick, tick, tock, tock……  Lives wasted.  Opportunities wasting away.  It’s not just the people who are dying who are losing out.  We are all letting the geniuses of our species go undiscovered, wasting away, suffering into little evaporating pools of nothingness due to the mere circumstances of their births.  Who knows but what we might have already discovered immortality for us all if we truly knew how to harvest those richest of intelligence treasures amongst us?  It is true that the people who are dying in Africa have the most diverse genes, the most potential for helping the whole of us.

It leaves me to wonder if our species here will ever get it right.  When a problem as simple as one side of the planet getting too much to eat, or too much of the wrong things, and another side getting not enough to eat, so much so that they are never really viable humans, (which leaves me to wonder why the pro-lifers aren’t worried about THIS type of death), when seeing something this glaring not being fixed, I have little hope that our quest for enlightenment will ever come to fruition.  We are like worried mothers who complicate things well past any plausible solution.  We make excuses for ourselves and we blame others.  I know this technique well, for it’s one that I’m currently attempting to face head-on and outgrow in this microcosm that is my selves.

So, what do I want my legacy to be?  I ask myself this question as I go to the table, as I go to sleep and go under the knife, yet again.  As my unconscious body cringes inside at the things that I’m allowing to be done to it, I wonder what would be said about me if I didn’t come back.  After all, one day, I won’t.  One day, I will sleep my last sleep, sing my last song, write my last word, draw my last breath.  Death is coming to us all.  This is the one appointment that we all must keep, regardless of which side of the planet we find ourselves being born, regardless of what type of medicine we have access to, because, currently, we have not found that way to physical immortality.  Recently, someone said to me, “I think that you are an interesting person.”  I guess that’s as good a legacy as any.  Perhaps I can at least mirror for others what it is like to connect to life’s spark – even though I often do it reluctantly.  Maybe this act of being fully engaged, fully “awake”, makes me stand out from the crowd.  Maybe I can inspire someone else to have the courage to be considered “interesting”.

This life is all that we know will ever matter to ourselves.  It’s the only thing of which we can be sure:  The present moment.  It may be that whatever we plan to do with that doesn’t mean anything in the long run.  As a friend of mine said, “If life means nothing to you, if you don’t want to be alive anyway and none of it means anything, then why would you care what other people think of what you do?”  It’s a good question.  A fair question.  Something inside of me must not fully believe that this moment is all that exists.  But, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what else does.  I do know that being asleep later today, on that table, some part of me will be looking out, wondering, “What the fuck?”, and waiting to awaken, yet, again….

This post is dedicated to:  Those needlessly dying, in acknowledgment of their suffering, and as witness to their having lived at all.

With Appreciation to:  Jim Dollar Photographywhose images always stir my soul to appreciative living.

Posted in My Life Today, Where Am I Now?.

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Shaky Girl


Oak Limb in Fog

Oak Limb in Fog, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC by: Jim Dollar Photography

I now know that I must intellectually come to terms with the fact that some very bad thing happened to me.  I don’t want this to be true.  It’s a good thing that I’m not in my right mind, because who, in their right mind, would want to come to such a realization?  If one had the chance to forget, to lock something bad away so that one could live one’s life without the haunting memory of the thing, wouldn’t that be the reasonable path?

Well, that’s what I’ve done.  Must have done.  The problem is that The-Me-Who-Is-Speaking-To-You-Now doesn’t exactly get to escape the ghost of my/our past — because, inside of me reside the people who KNOW what happened.  Not only do they know, but they are stuck.  They are encapsulated in the moment of the terrors, forever in that shocked state of the denial of a reality that was so much for them to bear that they broke off from me, sacrificed themselves for me, so that I could go on living the normal part of our lives.

In the wee hours of this morning, I awoke from a dream that was fleeing my conscious mind, as dreams are wont to do, and the dream itself had nothing to do with reality and didn’t even seem that symbolic.  There were emotions though, in the dream, and such was their nature that they left me feeling helpless and hopeless.  I’m not sure if that’s what triggered her, or if she was just there because of built-up stresses over the last couple of weeks, (for I’d felt her timid presence trying to break through several times), but something reached far into the sleeping depths, and awakened Shaky Girl.

Some people might take issue with the fact I give my personalities such odd titles; mere descriptive terms instead of proper names.  It’s even tempting to imagine that they might get offended by the sheer silliness of how I chose to refer to them.  The thing is that they/we understand that to become more and more integrated, to become all one big person, this is the goal of our communication, and so we try very hard not to make people who are more and more distinctively separate from myself.  Our lives are actually one life, broken into snapshots, better yet, little time-elapsed reels of experiential video.  We are all the same person, but we cannot all access the memories of the entire being.  Thus far, in our lives, this has been a very good thing.  Without it, we would most likely be already insane (more insane?) and at an even less functioning state that what now serves us.  As it lies within us now, there are still differing parts of my selves who have contracts to deal with certain things that we encounter in our lives. The Me-Who-Is-Speaking-To-You-Now isn’t aware of all of the terms and conditions of the contracts.  I only know when someone nudges at the control center of the mind, pushes on the membrane of the symbolic wall that separates those who are in control of the body at any given moment from those who are not, letting me know that someone else has something pressing that they must say or do.

As I was awakened this morning, this was apparently the case, because I came directly out of a sleep state into the State of Being that is Shaky Girl, my body jerking and spasming.  She is what she sounds like.  Someone who shakes and shakes, and shakes some more.  From an outside perspective, it looks as if my body is having a seizure.  It’s as if I something cold has stricken me to the core.

I believe that Shaky Girl is more aware when things are wrong with me than I am.  My entire lifetime has been built around hiding from myself what I am feeling.  I’ve gone to such extremes to do this that I’ve invented people who can hold certain pains for me, and I’ve constructed various Shell People that I can wear so that I appear to be functioning to the outside world when, inside, I’m not functioning at all.  Inside, there are always people screaming.  Perhaps Shaky Girl is closer to the core of my true self than my “presenting” self is.  I believe that she can hear the people screaming and knows when trauma needs to be dealt with.  She allows herself to be used as a release valve for all we are running through our already overloaded capacitor.

Shaky Girl has not revealed to me where and when she was born.  Perhaps she doesn’t know, herself.  When she comes into my being, as she did this morning, I’m not even sure that she is aware of me.  She locks her spirit into the body-shell that we share and overlays herself.  She takes the body and I can not get it back until her shaking is finished.  I’ve tried speaking to her and telling her that I need the body back (especially when this has happened in the presence of a person who is distressed by my apparently seizing self), but she does not seem to hear me.  No one else would hear me either, for our speaking to one another always happens inside my head — all the better to hide from the outside world how disjointed we truly are.  Once, during a time that I really needed to come back, I tried singing to her in my mind, with the same melodious tunes that I had used to comfort my birth children when they were infants.  To my great surprise, this worked!  She never responded or gave recognition to my presence, but she did begin to calm.  She was able to let go of the body and go back to where-ever-she-goes, and I was able to stop shaking.

After a visit from Shaky Girl, I am left exhausted!  Often, my muscles are sore from being drawn up so tightly and shivering all over.  When she is needing to express herself, I can feel her for days, tapping at me, wanting to come out.  My clenched teeth will be noticed, and a background, constant hum of calming will be running through my mind.  I’m not sure who the gatekeeper is, who decides who manifests and gets to control the body and who doesn’t, but I know that it is not in my conscious control.  Whomever is the gatekeeper, this entity is apparently aware of when it is safe to have someone manifest who cannot function at all, or when it is best to let no one function (as is the case when Skeleton Man shuts us down in order to prevent acts of self-harm to the body).  This Master Controller doesn’t agree to let Shaky Girl out when I am driving, or standing in an office surrounded by potentially dangerous strangers.  When sleeping in my bed, I guess it is deemed safe enough to allow her the time she needs to process her traumas.

When I come directly out of a sleep state into the Being of Shaky Girl, my body having been hijacked, quakes ripping through me as earthquakes do the planet, this is a frightening thing to have happen.  It is especially frightening because I do not know what it is that is wrong.  I cannot hear or see anything through her.  I’m not sure that she hears or sees, either.  Our experience is that of an intense emotional state, the tension of which causes painfully knotted muscles giving me great incentive to get Shaky Girl to stop her control of the body.  It isn’t a comfortable feeling to have one’s self taken away from oneself, and while she is relieved to be able to process and manifest, I am unable to move or speak —  or stop shaking.  That’s one of the irritations of sharing a body.  What affects one, affects all of the others.

There also is no assurance that allowing Shaky Girl to come forward will actually help me, or her, in any way.  She seems just as “stuck” every time.  She doesn’t seem to be able to be reasoned with, and when I allow myself to meld with and become co-conscious with her, I can see or hear nothing beyond the emotion that is happening.  I have no idea why she is distressed, why she can’t speak, why she is shaking.  I have no idea what has happened to her, what has birthed her.  I would like for this to change.  I would like to help her to get “unstuck”.  I think that whatever experiences she holds for me, they must be pretty horrific to her.  The thing that I want her to understand is that “we” are no longer stuck wherever she is stuck.  That things that were unbearable for her might not be unbearable for us now.  I want to be strong enough that she can trust me to handle whatever knowledge might come forward from her.  I hope that I am.

This morning, for the first time, Shaky Girl parted her lips – and made a noise.  To my knowledge, it is the first sound that she has ever uttered.  It is the first time that something other than shaking has come through.  It was hardly a word.  It was a guttural, animal, low calling out.  A distressed beginning of a shriek; but it was something.  At least she is trying.  I am proud of her for that.  I’m proud of her for having borne up to the task of holding some awful secret for The-Me-Who-Is-Speaking-To-You-Now for so many years.  I would like to find a way that Shaky Girl and I can be there for one another, comfort one another, share experiential memories with one another.

In a lot of cases where one person is divided into many, as we are, the separate consciousnesses of the self fear that to integrate is to die.  Since I can’t really access any thoughts from Shaky Girl, I have no idea how she feels about this.  It is my guess that her only fear revolves around her memories, and like the others residing in this form co-consciously with me, she is not afraid that she will cease to be when we are, at long last, all of us, merged.  Most of us have realized that we don’t have to be afraid of becoming One.  Becoming one continuously, linearly remembering/experiencing person does not mean that any of our individual selves will cease to exist.  To disappear into the whole does not mean a total disappearance of any one self, because that one self must exist in order to construct the whole.  It only means a difference in the way we function.

It is the same sort of thing that will happen to the whole of the human race in the eventual.  We are all already One — tied together in an inescapable, undeniable way, hurling through eternity, each of us needed to produce the glorious manifestation of our vastly different experiences.  All of the positive, all of the negative, all of the traumas, all of the victories, all of the living, all of the dying, one day, we will all remember.  This connectivity is already there, and we are all, already One; it is a simple dysfunction in our communication that makes us seem otherwise.

Dedicated to my now departed friend and fellow writer: 

Paula Arnold

~ with whom I appreciate being joined in the great One, and with thanks to her presence in the place where so much of her heart still dwells:  Heartfriends Inn

Heartfelt thanks, as always, to my brilliant fellow traveler, who lends me his beautiful imagery for visual representation of my story (and who tells great ones of his own):  Jim Dollar Photography

Posted in Dissociative Identity Disorder, My Personalities.

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A Way To Life

Multnomah Panorama

I did a very brave thing.  It’s not a thing that seems that brave.  I mean, if anyone else had done it, it would probably have been no big deal.  This weekend, I actually drove down the driveway of the house that I lived in when I was growing up.  Well, was driven down the driveway, to be more accurate.  The point is that I went down the driveway – at my own request.

Now, it doesn’t seem like a brave thing, to go down the driveway of one’s childhood home.  People do that sort of thing all of the time.  I’ve even heard fairy stories about how people return to these places because they feel SAFE there.  For most, I guess it’s not that traumatic or unusual an event.  For a select group of us, however, it’s a bit like going to sleep and saying, “Hey, I’m going to close my eyes and lose consciousness specifically so that the nightmares have something to do tonight; I invite them into my head and my desire is to run the night with them, toss and turn, getting no real rest, finding no peace in the quiet.”

Don’t get me wrong.  My entire childhood was not horrible.  That home where I lived from the age of five until the age of fourteen, it taught me a lot of lessons, and made me fall in love with a lot of things in life that have served me well.  On that forty-acre farm I learned to love the land.  I became a part of the animals, a part of the plants.  I learned to feel the heartbeat of Earth, herself, travel her flowing waters, traverse the very veins of her that give life.  I’m sure that it was there that I began to feel the stirrings of the web that was woven around me, and the particular fibers spun out from me that would be followed by some, tugged on by others.

Many of my personalities were developed there, and they were created to enjoy or perform certain tasks, so in some ways, I think I got a fuller experience, was able to manifest interest in more areas than my friends and family who are all stuck in one mode of being.  If this mental disorder that I have is responsible for making my life today difficult, it also has come with some blessings that I never fail to recognize and even, on the good days, be grateful for.  I’m sure that, on more than one occasion, my dissociative disorder has saved my life.  Our lives.

The thing is that when I return to any place from my past, I’m not only returning to memories of a past time, but I literally become the person from my past.  It’s not the action of watching a movie; it is being the action.

I will attempt to explain for people the difference in how someone might react “normally” (and I use this word reluctantly but can think of none to replace it) to returning to a place that invokes childhood memories, compared to what I experience in such a place.  There are triggers in seeing certain things that wake up in me states of being that were present at the time that memory tracks were laid down.  The Awakened One turns his or her face up and out, vying for a portion of my thinking consciousness.  When I am faced with stimuli that spawns many different presences to come forward, then they are all speaking, feeling, being, all at the same time.  Things don’t feel as if they are in my past, but in a current, present moment of beingness.  That state of being is very different from my “normal” (there’s a form of that seemingly inescapable word again), current self.  My “now” self gets lost and I often can’t even feel parts of my body.  The first things to go are my face and my hands.  My mouth has no feeling, and my speech seems forced through lips of wax that don’t belong to me, my fingertips numb and are unable to send signals to my brain regarding the things that I am touching.  Perhaps my brain is too busy to devote precious resources to things like mere physical feeling.

It works like this:  As I take the gravel-covered dirt-road to the old farmhouse, I see that the mailbox has moved.  It’s on the opposite side of the road – at the top of the driveway, and not across the road.  The Artist me sees it and remembers crossing that road many, many times, admiring the details of everything, longing to take out a graphite pencil and trace the lines of it all onto paper.  She would sit and look at things until she could merge into them and BE the thing.  She‘d then try to spit that experience out on some sort of canvas using all sorts of mediums.

As we turn into the driveway, the Little Girl me who used to walk to the bus, the one who was terrified of everyone and who cried before school almost every morning, is surprised at how short the driveway seems and that it is not at all as steep as she remembers.  The cold feeling, structure, and even the smell of the green metal bus seats come back to her as she recalls boarding the bus, plopping down and immediately staring at the ice crystals formed on the glass of the window.  She loved creating fantasy kingdoms in her mind and making up the people who lived there – while hoping that no one would speak to her and draw her back to the real world where there were no beautiful Ice Castles.  She remembers the tears running down the cheeks of her mother on some mornings, and her mother saying, “But, you HAVE to go to school, Deneen.  They’ll put me in jail if you don’t.”  I don’t know why she was so frightened or upset, this Little Girl me – but I remember her being so as those feelings are brought into the “now” of my existence.  The “now” me feels sorry for the mother, and understands better now the mother’s position.

Glancing at the bank that lines the red-muddied & graveled road, I remember climbing it, pretending to be a mountain climber.  I fantasized about actually being a mountain climber, and in my mind, my feet KNEW where to find the small outcrops to gain leverage  to propel me up the side of steep cliffs!  All of this practicing made me unafraid of heights and jumping off things.  I became one with the earth that I was using as my personal gym.

Once, while I was playing on the bank in this manner, I encountered a snake and met the “Me Who Fears Snakes”.  She screamed her first scream, my not knowing where the sound was coming from until I puzzled out that it was emitting from my own open mouth.  Silly, really, because “I’VE” never been afraid of snakes.

The Male personality, who is somehow tied to the mountain-climbing-person, sees the curve of the drive and pays attention all the way down because he LOVES riding his bike down this road!  He goes very, very fast, can ride with no hands, can ride standing up on the pedals – with no hands – just coasting so fast, the wind whipping through our hair, laying into the curves with our body and feeling the delicate balance of being caught between fast motion and the gentle pull of gravity.  We come to a gravel flinging skid at the bottom of the hill.

The side of me that loves burying her toes in freshly turned soil, who loves picking ripe strawberries, hot from the sun, and popping them into her mouth, who brings her mother the huge cucumbers thought to be past their prime with a request that they be peeled for her, this Earth Connected part of me mourns the loss of her gardens as she sees the barren soil to the left of the driveway, bearing only fences and grass as its current fruit.  Where are her grape vines?  Where are the mounds for the strawberry vines?  Her heart sinks as she recalls losing more and more of her blessed plants on other occasions – but those are other stories and will be told, some god or gods willing, at another time.

The Suicidal Girl barely can stand to rest her glance upon the spots where she sat, wishing to die, trying to not want to die, crying into her skirts, or wetting the fur of her dog’s coat while she murmured and wailed into his side, muffling the sounds from those who might notice or come to ask her what was wrong.  She’d learned a long time ago that she should never REALLY answer that question.  No one really wanted to know what was wrong.  People wanted her to say that nothing was wrong, that she was fine.  She was expected to avoid people, or if caught up by one, to smile and express her joy so, when so caught up, she’d go away and step aside for one of us who could properly handle the social interaction.

There are more people present than these.  Some of them are smiling and playing.  Some of them are screaming.  Some of them are cutting grass or kissing boyfriends.  I think that the above descriptions are enough to reveal to you.  I’m aware that most people aren’t used to dealing with the idea of a constant parade of people marching through their skulls.  Especially simultaneously!

For most people, they may see their childhood homes and be stricken with overwhelming memories and images – but they aren’t thrown into several States of Being at one time as I am.  At least this sort of thing does give all of the people inside of me a chance to try to all be present at the same time so that we can all become aware of one another and the parts that we all play, and that can lead to co-consciousness and better cooperation inside this splintered head of mine.

This visit was only possible for me because I had a strong, accepting person along for support.  It is critical for any person with any sort of psychological or metal disorder to have supportive people around.  Without them, we rarely have the strength to begin traversing the frightening and difficult roads to facing our demons.  After all, my personal demons are so disruptive that they literally split me to pieces – and I have yet to even meet all of the pieces I am, or gaze full-face upon all of the demons who helped create the me’s.

Now that the voices of the people inside me are awakened and all jostling for attention, now that even more memories are pouring in, I wonder how long this road will be and who and what events I will encounter.  Living a life where one can crumple into a ball of dysfunction over things as simple as spotting a certain stitch on a quilt, or hearing a certain phase, enduring the internal screaming and the overwhelming panics that plague the inside of my head (because God forbid that we show the public our ACTUAL state), it all begs of me certain questions.

Number one:  Will I ever be well, or is “normal” (that damnable word again) functioning a pipe dream to me?  Is trying to integrate the right task, or should I further suppress everyone inside of me and smother their voices and panic and build a “functional, dissociated” me?  A walking shell that seems normal?  Should I be the literal manifestation of a zombie?  Living without life?

Number two:  And this all follows the attempted logical thinking of number one – Was going down that driveway, searching out my demons ACTUALLY brave?  Or, was it simply the stupid act of a woman desperate to try to fit into a life that makes no sense?  Am I destined always to be the square peg beating the crap out of myself, trying to get into the round hole that is “normal” functioning?

I don’t even care if I function normally.  Just help me function any way!  Any way at all!  And help me not to die.  I’m not praying to any one.  I’m just making a general request as is my right to ask the Universe since I am a being who has been given the spark of life and conscious thinking.  Help me to use it.  Help us find a way to life in some sort of consistent manner.  Help us to want to live the life we‘ve got – whether or not we can EVER make any damn sense of it.

Dedicated to:  My Support System (You know who you are.)

Thanks as always to:  Jim Dollar Photography We love your work – and we love YOU!

Posted in Dissociative Identity Disorder, My Inheritance, My Life Today, My Personalities, Where Am I Now?.

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Gestation: Reflections On the New Year

Louisiana City Cemetery Scene

City Cemetery, Louisiana by Jim Dollar Photography

So, it’s that time again.  Time for a New Year and the wonder over whether or not there will be a new me.  Perhaps, several new me’s.  It seems that I have a brain and a life that is always reinventing itself.  Sometimes to my betterment, sometimes to my detriment.  Still, I’m never that.  Never “still”.

I search behind me and in front of me, looking for common threads.  Common events and relationships that define the base me.  Something of stability to hold onto in this shifting plane that is my life.  I have lived so many, many lifetimes, and I’m not talking about having been reincarnated.  I mean within this lifetime.

All of the lovers.  All of the different times, and the different ages that I’ve lived with the souls that interact with me as my children here in this place that I call life, on this planet that others call Earth, in these years that I’ve called “now” in the stair-step progression of the thing called time – that thing I flow through like an unfamiliar, alien liquidity to my awareness.

I awoke again last night in a familiar panic.  It’s a panic that I’ve felt on and off since I was at least as young as five.  Perhaps even earlier, but I clearly remember the panic from when I was five.  Then, like now, I became aware of myself trapped, here, in this physical form, owning the experiences that happen to these senses that are attached as input receivers in this physical self I occupy.

I panic because I don’t understand WHY I am in here.  I don’t understand WHAT it is all for.  I’m confused about this idea that my hand is my hand, and that another person’s hand is his or her hand.  I’m acutely aware of the fact that others feel, when they look down at their selves, this same sense of being trapped inside of something and looking out and wondering, “Why?”

Except, I’m told, most of them don’t.  Most of them aren’t wondering.  They’re just living.  Taking their being, and their right of being, for granted.  I envy them, really.  I envy their peace and the fact they aren’t awakened in the night with these troubled dreams of a spirit in chains to a physical reality that feels all wrong for them.  That feels like a pair of ill-fitting clothes smeared with heavy grime and mud and history.

Just as soon as that happens, though, just as soon as I get that feeling that I can’t breathe, that I’m suffocating in this flesh, that my life is a purposeless torture, a personal hell from which I cannot awaken…as soon as this perception of reality becomes the dominating factor in this organic machine that is my brain, I find the valley before me open onto a brilliant sunrise.  I come to feel the arms of Earth wrap around me, and the energy of a soft, rolling mountain range gather me to her bosom and hold me tightly until the blanket of night replaces her, wrapping Orion’s starry, shining gaze upon my comforted countenance, the eloquent music of Ocean’s tide lulling me back to peaceful slumber.  And then, oh, then, I am right, exactly right where I belong!

It is then that the wonder at the miracle of my being juxtaposes the knowing, painful mystery of it.  I am grateful for the fact that I am AWAKE, no matter how hard reality has had to pinch me in order to keep me so.  “One day,” I tell myself, “one day it will all come together and make sense to you.  One day, this same awareness that is you will be looking back at you, just as you look back upon your childhood self of this brief lifetime – and when you do, you will feel love and compassion for the confusion of the child that you currently are.  One day,” I tell myself, “you will be large enough to contain both the beauty and horror of existence in equal degrees, and this will pose no conflict for you.”

Until that time dawns, I guess that I shall continue to wake up in the dark, my heart pounding, a cold sweat dripping it’s salty burn into my recently opened eyes.  Until then, I’ll soak in the wonders when I can, spread my arms with loving as wide as they can go, and take my comfort from what ever pitying source crosses my path to offer it.

As I map out the ticking of the clock to show me into a New Year, a New Me, I keep in mind that it is but a mere shadow of another, important countdown.  The one where I find myself in that place called Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise.  That one where my AWAKENESS comes into synch with the reality I occupy, and I can and will, at last, don the clothing that fits exactly upon Me.  At least for a spate of rest, until I broach, yet again, another unrest.  Another spurt of discomfort whose purpose, like now, spurns me to grow again, and again, and again into the endless, wondrous, birthing process that we all must labor through.  The forever, neverending birthing of Me!

Special thanks, as always to: Jim Dollar Photography

Posted in My Life Today, Where Am I Now?.

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The Reality of 4-EVER

Cape Hatteras at Daybreak

CAPE HATTARAS AT DAYBREAK by Jim Dollar Photography

I step out of the shower and look down at the painter’s helper, a little stool with a handhold cut in the middle.  It used to be hers.  Here it sits, in another woman’s house – just as it sat in storage at yet another woman’s.  My mind travels over the times, touches on the visual memories of how it was, what it went through, what it was used for and saw in the home that I shared with her.  The home that I shared with my Denise.  Soon, it will be four years since she left me.  Four years since she died and left me to deal with the kind of unrequited love that we people are destined to when we can not stop our love for one who still holds onto our hearts from the beyond.

I don’t know what this thing called love is, much less what this thing called “unconditional love” is, much less this kind of love and pain that reaches from beyond the grave to wrap around my heart and knock it around with some sort of never-ending comfort/pain/knowingness.

I want to be over her.  Sometimes, I want to be free of her.  Sometimes, I want a break from the pain and the tragedy that she and I became.

I say it over and over and over again:  “If she were here, if she were still alive, I know that she and I wouldn’t be together.”  It’s the truth.  A sad truth, but truth nonetheless.  For you see, I’ve grown since her death.  I’ve become the independent woman that she wanted me to be.  The kind of woman who would never continue tolerating the kind of abuses that her alcoholism and drug abuse put me through.

I’m not one of those people who makes others into saints just because they’ve died, just because they are no longer capable of making the kind of huge fuck-ups that we all manage to accomplish while we are traversing this rocky road that being alive is.  Death doesn’t erase our mistakes.  What we are/were, remains.

No, I WANT to remember her in her pure humanness.  All of her flawed beauty thoroughly intact.  After all, if she were perfect, if she hadn’t struggled, how would I justify the ways in which I failed her?  How could I stand my own imperfections?

None of us are supposed to be perfect.  Our cracks and scars are a part of what make us unique.  They map out the places we have traveled through, where and what we have been, the dirt and calluses on our feet bearing testament to our effort in climbing up the steep cliffs, taking the falls upon the sharp rocks that are always waiting below when we slip from our attempts to top the mountains of trial that are always before us.

And slip she did!  Just like me, she had parents who were deeply troubled.  Just like me, she had a childhood that shouldn’t have been visited upon anyone.  Just like me, she started off way behind the mark as life dealt her challenges that no person should have to bear.  Especially no person who is a little, tender-hearted, sensitive child.  Like me, she felt things so deeply that, at times, it was too much to bear.

Is this why I love her so, still?  Is she simply a reflection of myself?  I see this in almost every person, features of my own self looking back at me through the universal mirror of the eyes of others.

There were so many parallels of her life and my own.  Ridiculed by others for different reasons, I escaped into the books that dyslexia only served to make mere mocking, further dysfunctions for her.  She escaped into violence, and into alcohol.  I created worlds, even people, inside my mind, into which I escaped.  She made lines of white powder and snorted them up her nose so that she could skew her perception of her world into something bearable.

I used to get so angry when she was alive with me!  I would get so angry when she wouldn’t TRY to get better!  I wanted to be worth it.  I wanted US to be worth it.  I wanted her to know that SHE WAS WORTH IT!!

She didn’t believe it.  She didn’t feel it.  I don’t think she ever felt it.

Wherever she is now, if anywhere, I hope she understands, knows, at last, that she is worth it.  So what if she was transgendered?  So what if she was dyslexic?  So what if she was alcoholic, drug-addicted and bi-polar?  It makes her no less wonderful, no less a miracle for surviving as long as she did – and all the while, her tender heart intact, as covered over with bravado as it was.

I knew her.  In her glory.  In her failures.  In her humanness.

And I loved her.  Love her still.  Am as trapped as any trapped person has ever been.

We are intertwined, she and I.  In the awfulness and the wonderfulness of living and dying.  So, I guess that what I need to come to terms with is a simple acceptance of it.  An acceptance of the fact that when I was born, a part of her was already born into the history that would become the events of my life.  A part of her was born into me as my light came on in this world.  She was always, even before I met her, a part of what fueled my light.

For, if she is a part of the darkness and pain that has been brought to my self here, in this world, she is also, most definitely a part of my light and if it is evermore in no way except to burn the fuel that is me – – shine Denise Ansley!  SHINE!

Further Musings On Denise’s Death

…And More

…And Ever More Musings

Dedicated to: My Denise

Jim Dollar PhotographyThanks for your beautiful photographs – and all of the other beauty that you’ve lent my life.

Posted in My Denise, My Loves and Lovers.

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Suicidal Reflections

I’ve promised myself to write today – and it’s not been an easy thing to accomplish.  My days, these days, are filled with grandchildren and children and mundane worries about laundry and homework and bedtimes.  Mostly.

Still, nothing takes out of my head the worries that I have about other things that aren’t so trivial.  Things like, “What does being ‘in love’ really mean?  What will I feel like at the exact moment of my death and, come to think of it, how will I die, anyway?  What would the lives of my children look like if I’d had the proper resources to devote to their educations, and what if I’d never met and married an abuser?  Why did I get my parents, and why was I born where I was in North Georgia, and not in Africa as some starving infant?  Why don’t human beings put more value on, and show more respect to, things that are alive?”

In the mind of The Deneen, there is always a litany of questions and a mountain of analysis going on.  I just can’t seem to shut the damn thing off.  I try, very hard, to be in that “state of being” where I’m just in the moment.  That creates problems for me, though, when I can’t see time as that linear.  I’m not sure if that’s a manifestation of my DID, or if it’s just that some of us are more aware of the fakeness of time.  The ludicrousness of it.  I just have to ask myself what it all means and what it all is for.  What is all this living?  What are all of these moments?  What are they even FOR?

Some of you are probably saying right now that being in the moment, one is not aware of linear time anyway, so there shouldn’t be a conflict where this is concerned, but I’m not so sure about that.  I’m not sure that we can ever just totally leave any moment.  It seems far more likely to me that we are pulling in all of our moments to us, so that we are everything that we ever are and could have been and are going to be, all at the same time.  That’s a LOT of beingness, and I’m just not sure that more of “being” is really what I want and need right now.

A couple of months ago, I decided, once again, that I’d had enough of this “being”.  Once again, I faced a time when I no longer wanted to be alive.  Sometimes, when I’m feeling like this, I can talk myself out of it.  I can remind myself how futile death is because of how futile life is.  I remind myself that I am but a strand in the great web of the Universe – but that every strand is there to hold others together, and integral to the intricate design and execution of the whole.  I think of the faces of my children and my grandchildren, and think of the legacy that I would leave them if they had to say, “My mother/grandmother committed suicide.”  I think of Denise.  I mentally bring up the pictures of the people filing past her coffin.  I replay the voices, full of pain, of those who talked to me about how horrible it was that she had taken her own life, how she hadn’t understood how loved she was and the emptiness that she was creating in the hearts of those she was leaving behind.

The truth is, and this is something that people who’ve never been that low don’t ever seem to understand, that when you’re feeling so worthless, helpless and hopeless, it’s hard to imagine or believe that your life, or death, has ANY impact on the world as a whole, much less individual people in it.  This popular idea that is today being put forth that suicide is selfish is misguided.  One can get into a state where one has no real sense of self.  One only has the sense of PAIN.  Pain, sometimes, that one feels one’s existence brings upon others.  Even saying this, I realize that to think that one can cause pain to another does represent ego, and that does represent a sense of self – but what I’m trying to get across here is that the person who is wanting to die is not wanting to die in order to get back at or torture anyone else.  They simply want the torture to stop for themselves.  They want the pain, the dysfunction that their life has become to come to a close.  A stop.  They don’t want to go to heaven.  They don’t want to go to a better place.  They don’t even want to rest.  They simply want to NOT BE!

Trouble is, after One has “been”, and since time IS artificial and everything that ever has existed exists infinitely, there is no UNBEING.  There is NO escape.  Not even in death.

I think this is the one that gets me.  That’s the one that keeps me here.  Death?  It’s like drawing with a yellow highlighter on bright yellow paper.  You’ve not accomplished a damn thing.  It’s still just yellow.

Posted in My Life Today, Where Am I Now?.

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Blood Cousins


Veins by Jim Dollar Photography

I won’t tell her name but some people will work it out.  It’s not that I’m trying to expose her, or anything about her life.  Really, I’m trying to expose myself.  I’m trying to understand my part in all of it.  I want to unbraid the tight bindings of that night – including the knots around my vocal cords.  I want to break them open, and unfurl my voice into the silence of the night when I had my first remembered taste of penis.  She is integral to the story because she is also a victim of the story; a victim of our shared circumstance, our shared family fucked-uped-ness.

She really is amazing, this cousin of mine.  She has the most beautiful natural breasts of any woman that I’ve ever seen, and they emphasize this tiny, tapered waist and slim, firm bottom.  She bears dark, brilliantly flashing brown eyes, topped off with the dark hair of our shared Cherokee ancestry.  She has long beautiful fingers that might, in other circumstance, play piano well, or hold an artist’s brush.  Her skills aren’t applied or tested in that regard.  Not in any regard, really – except in that of staying alive and in comparative safety.  Compared to what, I don’t know.

The parties at her family’s house are infamous, and rumors abound about what had gone on there behind the closed doors of my beautiful cousin’s not-so-beautiful childhood.  It is said that there was copious drinking, a movie camera, a projection screen, fists….  Suspicions abound regarding the imbibing of lots of Cannabis, along with harder things.  Lots of hard things.

“When I was a little girl, I used to crawl out my window and hide in the woods,” she tells me.  “I had to get somewhere safe to stop Daddy’s friends from trying to touch me.”  I suspect that the “trying to” part has long since passed from her life and that she is watering the circumstance of her story down for me because she doesn’t want me to have to hear the painful stuff.

We all tend to do that.  Water down our stuff so that other folks aren’t made discomfited by our pain.  Maybe that’s why I split into different people.  Maybe I needed someone to hear my pain and I didn’t want to bother anyone else with it, so I made more of myself in order to give myself an ear.  She is doing that.  Trying to protect me.  She is always trying to protect me.

She is a little older than myself and so full of joy and life!  She remains joyful, even as childhood leaves her.  She’s to become the sort of woman that simply lights up everything around her!  Especially the men!  She is one of the little survival story miracles with which I fill my head to remind myself that none of us have to have our light and goodness destroyed by our circumstances.  I like to think that she and I have that in common.  That our common history intersects with the good and the bad things that come from being who we are, with the genes that we got, having grown up in the soil in which we were planted.

I am fourteen and she lets me come to her house and try on her clothing – including the pants that my mother’s religion disallows me to wear.  I pull on her bluejeans and turn a slow three sixty, checking out my ass in the mirror while wondering what it would be like if I were a normal kid who was allowed to wear them.  I wonder what the kids at school would think, and if people would think I’m attractive, or that I have a nice figure.

She has hats and pretty shirts and jewelry!  She has wonderful lacy bras that can’t go through the regular wash and have to have special care.  She has good smells and bubble bath and a stereo filled with fun music.  As two teenagers playing together, we put her jeans on me and a button-down shirt to knot up under my breasts, showing my tummy.  She hands me a hat and I grab a hairbrush to use as a microphone.  We crank up the pop music and dance about on top of the bed, singing along while checking ourselves out in the mirror atop her dresser.

These are such fun and innocent, memory making times!

I beg to be allowed to spend the night with her.  The infamous parties at the house of her parents have long since gone, and her house is considered a safe one.  Since she is older, she already has a boyfriend.  He is older than her and very cute!  He looks like Sylvester Stallone’s little brother.  I admire her.  Envy her, even.   Everyone tells her how good her life is, and how lucky she is to have such a brilliant boyfriend who is so good-looking.  I certainly think she is lucky.

Having run through all of the arguments against it, giving in at last, my mother tells me that I am allowed to stay over with my cousin for the night.  We have a fun night planned!  We are going to put on clothing and maybe even try some makeup!  We are going to search for new songs that we like and practice our dancing.  We might even get a visit from her cute boyfriend!  I am so thrilled that my heart is fluttering with excitement!  I like practicing for being the grown-up that I am trying to become.

On the night of our slumber party, only a couple of hours in, our visit is interrupted when she gets a phone call.  It’s her boyfriend’s sister.  He isn’t coming to see us.  In fact, he apparently isn’t even thinking about my cousin at all.  He is drunk and “riding around town” with some other girl!  “I like you and I want you to know because it’s not right for him to treat you this way,” the boyfriend’s sister says to my cousin.  I wait with baited breath as the two exchange more words via the phone line, and I see my dear cousin’s face contort with pain, and she tears up, her voice chocking with emotion.  At the completion of the call, my cousin slaps the phone back into it’s cradle on the kitchen wall, turns to me and says, “Come on, Deneen!  We are going!”

“Where are we going?”

“We’re going there and I’m going to find that son-of-a-bitch and find out.  If he’s with another girl, I want to catch him!”

At that, I hear this nagging voice inside my head.  It is the voice of my mother.  I wonder what she will think of it, my going clear to a neighboring town with my cousin in order to chase down her boyfriend.  It will be dark soon and my mother is probably already in bed.  My right to even be here has been hard won, much less my chance of gaining permission to leave the home and drive somewhere else!  I could ask my cousin to take me by my mother’s house and drop me off, and something inside of me tells me that this is what I should do, but I’ve not yet learned to recognize that Voice of God inside of me, and sometimes, I don’t want to listen to it even when I do recognize it.  This is something with which I will continue to struggle.  I think that all Human Beings do, and that some people never even learn to hear the Voice of God inside of them at all.

Deciding that I will take the risk of angering my mother by coming along, I get into the car with my cousin, and we begin the climb up the long and winding country roads that lead to the town where her boyfriend lives.  The altitude and tree-covered mountains cause the radio to keep fuzzing out to white noise, and my cousin turns the dial with irritation, searching for new stations as she fusses and complains with a worried look, talking to me about her boyfriend.  He is an alcoholic, she tells me, but he’s promised her to stop drinking.  She put up with her parents’ drinking and she doesn’t plan to spend the rest of her life with a drunk.  He’s been seen with other girls since they have been dating.  This isn’t the first time.  She is going to find him and give him “What for?”!

Eventually arriving in the neighboring town, an entire twenty miles distant, we pull into the driveway of an old large, white, multistoried Colonial style house that her boyfriend shares with his family.  “Wait here,” my cousin tells me, exiting the car and disappearing into the house.  She isn’t gone long.

“He’s out riding around, driving drunk!” she angrily exclaims.  “I’m going to find him and find out if he’s with that girl!”

Spinning fast out of the driveway, we travel a little way down the street before joining the other cars that are driving in a loop, up and down the middle of the pretty, tree laden small town.  Dusk is falling, but there is still enough light to see.  In the middle of everything here, there lies a railroad track, slicing the roads in front of the mom-and-pop shops into one-way streets on either side of itself.  The scattered houses boast people on front porches, leaning on railings, sitting on rockers, even in front of the shops, waving to one another in friendly fashion.

I’ve rarely been to this town, and I’ve rarely participated in this activity called, “cruising”, or more often where I am from, simply, “ridin’-’round-town”.  This is what young people do in small towns in order to be seen, and to hook up with one another; like a social club on wheels.  One starts at one pre-designated spot and rides in a circle, going up and turning around at another pre-designated spot and riding back the other way.  Over and over and over.  Different people choose different turn-around spots, and even where one’s spot is can be the jump off point to further conversation between bored folks in an otherwise sleepy town with not much to do.

In this town, cruising is more of a challenge because the railroad track sometimes block one’s vision.  People have to wait until there are flat areas where the roads are closer together, or one has to see the people in the other cars at the unofficially designated turn-around spots.  It is at one such spot, crossing the rise of the railroad track, that my cousin spots her boyfriend.  He has a passenger in the car.  She floors it, and we’re off!  She spins the car around in a parking lot in order to catch them up from behind, and as we approach, we can see that the person in the car with him is another man, a lean, nice-looking black man, not the woman my cousin is expecting.

Honking her horn and yelling to him, my cousin gets her boyfriend’s attention.  He pulls over in a parking lot and comes stumbling out of the car.  Slamming on her own brakes and jumping out to meet him, I can hear my cousin saying, “What are you doing?  You are drunk!  You stink!  Why are you driving around and why are you drunk again?  Did you have some woman in the car with you?  Your sister called and told me!  Yes, your sister!”

I can’t hear his side of things, and he is slurring his words anyway.  Eventually, they both approach our car, and I see his friend walk around to the driver’s side and get under the wheel of the other car.  Leaning down to my open car window, my cousin tells me, “He’s going to be riding around with us for awhile,” and she opens the door, allowing her boyfriend to slide into the back seat, reclaiming the driver’s seat for herself.  Taking off more slowly this time, we drive away, resuming our laps through the sleepy town.

My cousin is very angry, and that is putting things a bit mildly!  Her face is tear-stained, and her thick mascara is running rivulets down her cheeks.  She is asking her boyfriend, “Who was the girl you were with?  Who is she?  What do you even want with me?  Do you even care anything about me?”

He is replying with barely comprehensible, slurred words, “Damnit!  What are you fucking talking about?  There was no other girl, Baby!”  Now, calmer, “Come here, Baby!  Come here Baby!  I’ve got something for you to take care of, Baby!”  He’s doing his best sultry whisper which, in his current inebriated state is actually pretty pathetic.  His hand is on his crotch, and its easy to see that he has a raging hard-on, straining against his zipper.

His attempts at seduction are temporarily halted when he spouts, “Pull over, pull over!”

My cousin complies and he opens the door, half falling out of it, vomiting onto the pavement of the parking lot.  I’ve never seen anyone this drunk before.

“Oh, God!” my cousin wails.

“Oh, God!” her vomiting boyfriend slurs.  Then, “I’m okay now, I’m okay now.”

My cousin, who’s jumped out of the car, calls through the window for me to hand her a napkin from the glove box.  I comply and she passes it to him, along with more insults.  He pulls himself back into the car, clumsily wiping at his mouth.  My cousin helps him shut his door, slides back behind the wheel and immediately resumes her verbal throttling.

“You are disgusting!  Look at you!

“Who was she?  Did you do something with her?” she asks.

He’s looking at her again, staring into her eyes through the rear-view mirror, the lustful look returning to his face.  Throwing the soiled napkin into the floorboard, I see him return his hand to his swollen crotch.

My cousin also notes the action.  Her driving is erratic and I am a bit afraid because she is paying more attention to her boyfriend than she is to the road as she spits back at him, “You are disgusting!  You just want somebody and you don’t care who it is!  You don’t want me!”  She looks over, noticing me in the front seat beside her as if she’s forgotten I am there.  “You probably don’t care if it’s me or Deneen who gets back there with you.  You’d probably be just as happy with her.”

His eyes turn on me.  He’s looking at me with the same deep, carnal look of desire that he’s been projecting at her.  He grabs hold of the back of our seat with his hands and pulls himself forward, closer to my face.  “Yeah,” he says, in a way that’s as sultry as his current inebriated state can muster.  “Send her back here.  You!  Come on back here!  Come on!  Come on, Deneen!  Come on back here!”

“Yeah, Deneen!” my cousin insists.  “Just get on back there!  Let’s see what he’ll do with you, just get on back there with him!  I just want to see what he’ll do.”

I sit forward on the seat, twisting my body back and looking back and forth from one of them to the other.  “What do you mean?” I say quietly to my cousin.  “You really want me to get back there?”

“Yes!  Yes I do!  Go on!  Get back there!”

What am I thinking?  Why do I crawl into that back seat?  I wish I hadn’t done.

Do I feel some sense of loyalty to my cousin and her “investigative opportunity” to see whether or not he WILL try something with me?  Have my previous experiences with Lib and Ray and the games that we have played together led me to think this is a normal request and will somehow be okay?  Have I been so conditioned to follow orders in unquestioning fashion that I do whatever is asked of me without thinking?  Am I just STUPID?!  Do I think he is cute?  Do I miss the touch and attentions of the boyfriend who dumped me and think the touch of this man would be better than no touch at all?  Am I a little turned on by the idea in my head of what might happen here, or do I have this weird fantasy that he might really LIKE me because of the look of desire that he is boring into my soul?  Do my naiveté and youth make me vulnerable?

These are hard questions, some of which I don’t want to ask.  Some of which I don’t want the answers for.  I feel a deep sense of shame and responsibility in that I don’t say, “NO!”

With another long look at my cousin to make sure that she knows what she’s saying, and being unsure about what it’s supposed to accomplish, I begin the climb over the bench front seat to the back, where her boyfriend sits.  The car is still rolling along the highway, and she is watching his face in the rear-view mirror, but he’s not looking at her anymore.  He’s totally focused on me.  He takes hold of my arms to “help” me into the back seat, and he’s looking into my eyes with a face filled with longing, his breathing deep, his touch sexual and clingy.

As soon as my bottom connects with the seat, his lips are on mine, his tongue in my mouth.  With my boyfriend I had done a lot of elaborate kissing, and French kissing was a part of that experience – but this is very different.  For one thing, this is my cousin’s boyfriend, not my own, and my cousin is watching and what is taking place here is hurting her feelings.  For another, this is aggressive and forceful – like Onion Sandwich Guy had been.  This time, the tongue in my mouth is tainted with an alcohol/vomit mixture.  Her boyfriend is not a bad kisser.  He’s a good kisser in fact, but the circumstances make the experience very unenjoyable.  Feeling my negative response and my hesitation, he reaches up and places one hand on the back of my head and pulls me into his mouth while his body tenses and wriggles.  As he stops the kiss, he pulls my head back a little and places his mouth close in to my ear.  “Here,” he says.  “Suck it!  Suck me, I want you to suck me.”  I realize what all of the wriggling is about because his zipper is down and his erect penis is exposed.

His name escapes my lips with a begging tone.  I’m begging him not to ask this of me.  I’m begging him not to want it.  I’m begging him to stop the tears of my cousin and her pain at having her suspicions confirmed.

Taking a firmer grasp on my head, he shoves it down toward his crotch, lifting his hips up to meet me.  He leans his head back against the seat, closes his eyes and lets out a soft, deep moan as my lips connect with the tip of his penis.  His moan soon turns to one of frustration as I keep my mouth closed, and he’s pushing against my lips and sees that I’m not fully cooperating.  His head snaps back up, his eyes pop open and he starts talking to me again.  “COME ON!”  His words now bear a tone of irritation, and his wandering eyes fall on the back of my cousin’s head and he seems to tune in to the fact that she is distraught.  She’s crying and wailing.  For some reason, this enrages him.  “SHUT UP!” he orders her.  Pushing me out of the way, he focuses his attention on her and, sitting forward on the seat, he releases the hold on my head, balls his hand into a fist – and with no further warning, smashes it into the side of her head.

Jolted from the blow, she screams, as the car swerves dangerously, and he begins to pummel her, hitting her about the head and shoulders, both fists in full, if badly aimed, swing.

I am only frozen for a couple of seconds.  How I come back around so fast, or how I think what to do, I can’t say.  Perhaps it is another personality, coming out and helping me.  Perhaps it is the fact that I’ve been with men like him before at some point in my history and know best how to calm them – though I’m not consciously aware of it.  Perhaps some survival instinct kicks into my being, or the voice of God whispers suggestions into my mind from way down in the depths of me.  Whatever it is, wherever it comes from, I get the idea that I have the power and can stop this.  Sitting forward on the seat beside him, I put my mouth up close to his ear – no small feat since he isn’t holding still.  I say his name, touch him at first gently, and then with growing insistence, calling his name more loudly and pulling his face around to mine, searching for his mouth with my own.

He responds, and I feel his arms go slack as he looses interest in hitting my cousin, and begins to slouch back in the seat, arms ceasing their swing to wrap around my body, pulling me back with him.  Taking hold of my hand, we together put my hand on his cock, and I begin to stroke and play with it, while kissing him deeply, pressing myself against him.

Soon enough, this doesn’t keep his interest, and in his angry stupor, he notices my cousin’s crying once again, pushes forward and renews his attack.  My cousin is screaming and we are swerving from one side of the road to the other when I suddenly realize that we are running a stop sign!  Brakes slam on and I’m thrown against the seat in front of me, our almost having crashed down a deep gulley.  We are off the road and now, I’m really scared!  I think that we should all exit the car and get off the road!  This situation is serious!  My heart is pounding faster than ever!

The boyfriend responds to this new circumstance by yelling at my cousin and telling her she’s crazy and blaming her for having missed the stop sign.  His face is contorted with anger, and red and I can see his fists balling up again already.  I realize that I need to step up my game.

My cousin is looking back over her shoulder, backing up the automobile, and she’s gotten control of her crying for a moment.  I think that she is probably scared, too, and I don’t understand why we are still driving.  “I’m taking you home!” she announces to her boyfriend and a sigh of relief passes through me as I know that this ordeal will come to a close.

“No.  You’re not,” he counters – and I move into action.  Putting on my best sexy attitude, I place my body between his and my cousin’s, blocking his view of her and placing my face in the line of his vision.  “Hey,” I say softly, and I lean in and plant a kiss on his lips, steeling myself against the tastes in his mouth as I hold his head in my hands and slip my tongue inside.

He forgets my cousin, reaching up to grab my head in return.  His eyes close and he again begins making little noises of pleasure as I press myself into him and slip one of my hands down, grasping his penis.

“Yes!” he breathes against my mouth.  “Come on!  Come on, Baby!  Suck it, Baby, suck it!”  This time, I don’t hesitate, swooping down and opening my mouth over the bulbous head of his circumcised penis.  I learn quickly that if I suck hard at the top and continue the action down the shaft, forcing him all the way into my mouth and pushing past the gag reflex in my throat, he becomes totally focused in on what I’m doing and the sucking and stroking I’m applying to his cock.  Any hesitation on my part, or if I begin to apply my oral manipulations with less vigor, his attention begins to waver and he shoves his body forward so that I can feel, more than see, the tightening of his fists again, his eyes returning to glare at my cousin’s back, preparing their next assaulting strike.

There begins this surreal, dissociation that is a dance between my paying intense attention to his sexual body language, his distracted, balled-fisted violently potentialled body language, and my own feelings and responses to the sexual act that I am performing on him.  I try to suck for only a bit, and then come up to get a breath and gather myself for the next gulping.  I find myself unable to shut off my mind, or my thinking or my processing of the information bombarding my heightened senses.  One of the things that is happening is that I am finding myself comparing the differences in this penis and that of the boyfriend with whom I’ve recently split.  His skin had been lighter, near translucent, his penis lined with beautiful blue, pumping veins, the shaft long and thinner, curving back toward his flat, hairless tummy.  The man with whom I now find myself is darker skinned, his member red and ruddy, setting thick and straight amongst copious dark hair.  I note the difference in their movements, the subtle change of thrust from the hips, the tonality of the sexual moanings.  It hasn’t occurred to me before this instance that sexual acts, sexual organs, sexual expression can be so different from one man to the next.  I find myself experiencing this profound sadness regarding the fact that I’d never even performed oral sex on my boyfriend, that I didn’t know, would never know, the taste of him and how it might have been different to have performed this act as a loving expression instead of a manipulative necessity.

From my position, head down in the man’s crotch, I can’t really see what is going on with my cousin, or where she’s looking, or where we’re going, but I eventually hear her declare loudly, “There’s your car!”, and even as I am too frightened to stop my machinations upon her boyfriend’s member, gratitude fills me as I realize that I will soon be released from this impromptu and necessary duty.

In a bit, I feel a couple of turns, and we slow, pulling into some place to park.  The minute the car stops, I remove my mouth from his dick, slide across, away from the man, reaching for the door handle with a desperation that I somehow manage to keep from showing.  Popping open the door, I spring out and say a silent prayer of thanks as my feet hit the pavement.  It’s over!

My cousin exits the driver’s door, opens the other back one, and our companion stumbles out.  Immediately, the two begin arguing.  In the parking lot of the gas station where we’ve come to rest, I see the car from which we had retrieved our passenger what seemed like a lifetime ago.  The door of that car opens and the tall, handsome black man who’d been riding with my cousin’s boyfriend approaches us slowly, standing back from the main action a bit.  I find myself instinctively gravitating toward his calm presence.

“Deneen!” my cousin is shouting my name.  “Deneen, come on and get back in the car!  I’m going to take his drunk ass home!”

I shake my head, “No.”  Inside I’m thinking, “NO way in HELL are you getting me back in that car!”  I’m very confused about why SHE would choose to do so.  I can still taste his cock in my mouth, feel his saliva coating my tongue.  “No way in HELL!” I think again.

“Well, what are you going to do then?” she asks, angrily.

“I’ll stay here,” I say.

“Okay!  Do whatever you want!  I’ll come back and get you when I get him home.”  With that, I watch my cousin open the door and pour her drunken lover, who for one horrid moment had been mine, into the front seat, climbing in behind him and slamming the door.  I watch in frightened-for-her silence as the car takes off down the street at break-neck speed, wobbling between the lines as it goes.

A few minutes tick by, and I note the silent calm descending.  I turn to the friend, the guy who’d been left standing in the parking lot near the abandoned car of the boyfriend’s.  He smiles at me shyly, ducking his head a little due to what seems a sudden interest in his feet.  “Well,” I drawl out, “I guess its you and me.”

“Guess so.”

We stand in silence, and I hug myself with my arms because I’m cold.  I say so.  “I’m cold.”

“Well, I am, too.”  Another pause.  “I don’t have the keys, he took them with him, but it might be warmer in his car – even though I can’t crank it up.  He didn’t lock it.”

“Okay,” I agree, and we walk slowly over to the car.  Trying the handle on the passenger door and finding it also unlocked, he opens it for me, lets me climb in, closes it and walks around to the other side, climbing in beside me.

We sit in silence again and I find it peaceful and a welcome break.  My pulse is starting to slow.  Except for the cold, I’m comfortable.  “Sorry,” he says, “that I can’t put the heat on for you.  He didn’t leave me the keys,” my new friend explains again.

“That’s okay, “ I say.  “I’m just grateful to be out of that car with them!”  I want to tell him what happened, but I’m afraid to speak of it.  Plus, this is his friend.  “Does he often get like this?” I ask instead.

He grunts a sort of  “Uhhmmm-hmmmm.”  He seems as shy as I am.

We continue sitting in awkward silence for a long time.  “Do you think she’ll come back for me?  My cousin?”

“Man, I don’t know what to expect!  Prob’ly she’ll eventually show up.”

Several more minutes pass by, feeling like hours.  My newly slowed pulse begins to quicken again.  I’m wondering if my cousin has wrecked the car!  I’m wondering if she is okay!  I’m wondering what will happen if I’m left abandoned here!  I’m wondering how I will ever find a way home and what my mother will say.  “I think,” I say, to him, “that I want to go to his house.  I’m afraid something has happened to her.  Do you know where the house is from here?”

“Sure.  You can just about see it.  I’ll take you over to the road and show you.”

“You wanna’ come along?”

“NO!  I don’t wanna’ get nowhere near that shit!  When he gets like this…” he shakes his head, looking down again.

Climbing out of the car, we walk over to the street and he points down the road.  “Right there!  Past that last house in the distance.”

“Thanks!” I say.  “I’m just very worried about her!”  I begin my walk up the sidewalk, looking for a place to cross the road.  Rubbing my arms and hugging myself trying to keep warm, I’m worried about what I’m going to find.  Looking back over my shoulder, I see the young man’s eyes still on me as he throws up a wave, then turns to head back toward the parked car.

With my brisk walk, it doesn’t take long for the big white house to come into view.  I breathe a sigh of relief that comes out as a cloudy, cold mist in front of me.  Redoubling my pace, I walk through it, and notice my cousin’s car sitting in the driveway, remarkably unscathed.  In my haste, I almost pass the automobile by on my way to the door of the boyfriend’s house, when I notice movement through the frosty window of the car, and muffled sounds coming out from behind the fogged glass.

In horror, I realized that my cousin is screaming for help from inside the vehicle.  Seeing me, she beats at the window to attract my attention.  Time slows down as I step towards the car.  There is blood running down her face.  He is sitting there, staring down at her, holding her nose between two fingers and twisting it, oblivious to all else around him.  “Let me out!  Let me out!” she’s yelling.  “Deneen!  Help me!  He won’t let me out!”  His free hand grabs the fist that was banging against the glass, holding that as well.

Horror creeps through me as I realize that she’s been here, trapped in this car the entire time.  Past that, I don’t even have to plan what to do.  A slamming noise directs my attention to the front door as a porch light snaps on, illuminating a short, stout, blonde young man.  He is barging through the front door from the inside, on approach to the car which holds my cousin captive.  He’s wearing nothing but tidy-whitey underwear; not even socks.

My mind seizes up as I become a spectator, dissociated, ghost-like.  I realize that I’m looking at the boyfriends brother.  My cousin had described him to me, saying, “He’s a blue-eyed blonde and I have the dark one, but they are both so damned good-looking!  You’d really like him!”

Here he is, standing in front of me.  He notices me, but only gives me a cursory glance.  His target is the car.  I don’t know how he got here, how he knows to come – but here he is.  He’s banging on the car window, yelling his brother’s name.  “Let her go you Son-of-a-bitch!  Let her the fuck go!  Unlock this fucking door!”

Amazingly, his brother complies, and my cousin comes tumbling out of the car.  The blonde youth reaches in and grabs hold of his older brother, pulling him out behind her.  The boyfriend is so drunk that he can’t stand up.  “His brother punches him as he’s lying on the ground.  “Get the fuck UP”, he says, under his breath.  “What the hell do you think you’re doing?  Take this shit in the house!”  He pulls him up by his shirt, and man-handles/supports him to the door, dragging him through it.  Like the automaton I’ve become, I walk behind them, stopping short of entering the door.  The men disappear from my view.

“Come on, Deneen,” my cousin is walking past me, from behind, into the house.  As I step hesitatingly through the door, more family members appear:  a mother, and the sister who made the initial phone calls that brought us here.

My cousin’s face is swollen, there is a horrible combination of blood, tears and mascara coating her beautiful features.  Her lips are busted and poofed all out.  Seeing her face, the women cry out.  “Did he do this to you?”

“Yes,” she replies simply, too tired or to numb, even to respond tearfully.

“Don’t worry,” the chorus of the women’s voices say.  “He’ll get his.”

I’m far enough in the house to get a view of the interior rooms now, and I begin to comprehend what they mean by their statement.  On the tile floor of the kitchen are the two brothers.  The one whose penis had recently been inside my mouth is on the bottom, lying, helpless, reacting to the blows that are falling on his face, his stomach, and other areas of his body.  His well-muscled brother is atop him, raring back and delivering fist after fist full of quiet rage.  I want to feel sorry for the nearly unconscious man on the floor – but I don’t.  At that moment, seeing my cousin’s face, remembering why my mouth is tinged with the taste of alcohol and vomit, why the musky scent of cock still floods my nostrils from the residue left on my own, swollen lips, I’m glad.  I’m glad that he is being made to suffer.  I’m glad that he will awaken with his own mouth large with swelling from the hits he’s receiving from the end of his brother’s fist.

After a time that the mother deems appropriate, she steps into the room where her two sons are entangled on the floor.  “Alright!  Enough!” her voice reaches her youngest, and he responds, if slowly, pulling his fist back, but stopping short of delivering the planned, next blow.  He stands up, and steps away from his brother, his body trembling with spent emotions, his breath coming in shallow bursts, rippled chest heaving and glistening from exertion and perspiration under the dim glow of the kitchen’s yellow light.

Later, the next day, I walk in the door of the home that I share with my own mother and my own siblings, and I find my mother waiting for me.  She is visibly angry, and I can see trembles underneath her surface.  She addresses me with a loud and accusatory tone as soon as I enter the door.

“Deneen, I heard you was with a black man!  Your aunt called me and told me that ya’ll went off last night.  Did you think I wouldn’t find out?  She said that ya’ll left and that your cousin was with her boyfriend and that you was with this black man.”  My mother’s voice chokes with emotion.

“You probably had SEX with him.  I’ll bet you had sex with him.  Did you have SEX with him, Deneen?  What did you do with that black man?”  She stands towering over me, her five foot ten to my five foot four, and spits the words toward me with her upper lip curled up in disgust, her shoulders slumping forward in defeat, eyes alternately glaring at me, then casting downward.

“NO, Mama!  I did NOT have sex with him!  I just sat in a car with him!  I just talked to him, Mama!”  Inside I’m thinking, “He was kind to me, Mama.  That black man was kind and friendly and made me feel safe.  Why don’t you ask me about her boyfriend, Mama?  Why don’t you ask me if I had sex with her boyfriend?  Why don’t you ask me what his white dick tastes like Mama, or what it feels like to have a tongue tinged with alcoholic vomit shoved in your throat?

“Why don’t you let me tell you what its like to watch someone you love beaten in the head with fists and to be powerless to stop it except for placating the perpetrator, distracting him with your mouth around his ruddy and ready dick?

“How could I ever tell you about what I have let happen to me?  How can I forgive myself for going with her, for climbing into that back seat in the first place?  For not biting his penis when he first tried to force it into my mouth?  How do I get over THIS, Mama? What about THIS?

“Why, Mama, are you not asking the right questions?  Why can’t I tell you about what actually happened to me instead of denying the false reality that you’ve built up in your head?

“Why, Mama?!  Why…?”  I don’t dare speak.  I don’t want my mother to have excuses to keep me from hanging out with my Beloved Cousin.  I am worried about her, and though I’m afraid of what else might happen while I’m in her company, I don’t want to hear my mother say, “I told you so,” regarding how safe it is to hang out with her.  I don’t want to confirm my mother’s fears in regards to that fact that I WASN’T safe.  I don’t know why.

Looking back, I can’t exactly tell what the particular emotions were that my mother was experiencing.  The entire time that she was yelling at me, she continued trembling, her muscles all bound up tightly.  Anger was certainly one of them.  Shame, too.  Probably some guilt was thrown in because she probably thought that she was responsible for whatever unacceptable behavior that she’d believed me to be guilty of exhibiting.

I have kept my silence with her on this point to current day.  For one thing, I don’t like making other people suffer, and it’s not an easy or a fun thing for me to be sharing these stories with all of you.  It just feels like a necessary thing.  The silence is WAY too deafening, disabling, disorienting to live in.  I don’t want other people to have to carry these sorts of secrets and burdens inside of them.  Whether we like it or not, the shame of having gone through these sorts of experiences and feeling that one can’t talk about them is damaging to us.  For some of us, it damages our spirits, and we live while dead inside, or may decide not to live at all and take our bodies out, the way that My Denise chose to do.  For some of us, it damages our physical bodies even if we chose life, manifesting in all sorts of aches and pains and cancers and illness.  For those of us who are like me, it manifests in mentally disabling conditions that blank us out from a reality that bears too much pain for us to live with.  Where would I be today if I had allowed myself to share and process OUT of me this inner pain?  Well, I wouldn’t be writing to you all NOW about it, because I’d have no great and paralyzing need of healing.

All things in their time.  All things to their own purpose.  If I can turn the events of my life into something positive and helpful for others, to show inside the depths of the tunnel that has trapped other Human Beings that there is a way up and out into the light, well, then I can be the meaning-making machine that God has created me to be, and I can put into perspective and positive viewing my made-up reasons for what I’ve gone through in my physical and spiritual growing.  This turns my horrible circumstances on end, turns them inside out to the point of their being a blessing.

Weeks after the above incident, my Grandmother greeted me at the door of her house.  “Deneen!” she exclaimed with elation.  “Yer cousin and her boyfriend have got engaged!  They’re agonna’ get married!  I’m so happy fer her!  He’s from a great family ya’ know.  He’s got a good mama.  They’re agonna’ get married!”

“Really, Granny?  That’s great!” I heard some shell person say with my mouth while I waited deep down inside.  Not speaking.  Fearing.  Not speaking.  Inside myself I was saying, “I will not go to bless that union.   Never.  It is an evil thing.  I will not go.”  And we (the we that equals myself and the others inside of me) didn’t.

I was told that it was a big wedding and that the bride was very beautiful.  I kept imagining her in her wedding gown, bruises covering her face, her nose bloody, streaming mucousy red fluid down the front of the white lace.

I didn’t go because I loved her.  I didn’t go because I am forever imprinted with the taste of his cock in my mouth, the taste of alcohol laced vomit transferred to me from his tongue.

We couldn’t have borne it.  We didn’t go to the wedding.  We stayed home, thought of our love for her – and prayed.

The following poem was written on a napkin at an all-night Café one late night, and inspired by the recollection of the above events.

Five Second Rule

This writing is dedicated to my dear friend Karen Lowe, who encouraged me to drudge up whatever needed to be remembered and, “Damn Gurl! If you know this is what God is tellin’ you to do, just start damn writin’ sumthin’!”

Thanks, as always to Jim Dollar Photography

Posted in My Inheritance, My Loves and Lovers.

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