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Thoughts of Not-Being

I’ve just stepped off the Suicidal Ideation Rollercoaster. I visit it every now and again. I should say “we” visit it. The person who steps us into the carriage is her own self: Suicidal Girl. She gets triggered when we hear those voices of our past play over and over…and over and over…in our head.

If The Deneen System has made a bad decision, encountered a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, missed a deadline, been extremely ill, felt trapped in any way or, gods and goddesses forbid, caused pain or inconvenience to someone that we deeply care about, the carnival lights start flashing and the internally mocking music starts up on a loud loop of degrading self-talk.

It’s a strange thing: this living your life while constantly encountering the overwhelming desire not to be alive. Not to be present. Not to be crushed under the weight of being a caring and conscious being stuck in a flesh-bag of seeming not-self. I don’t know where the beings are that made me, if indeed, anyone even did. Perhaps I just sprang into existence at some point, like a sprout shooting forth from a broken hull, pushing its way out through the dirt to seek once again the light that is its food; its Source.

We find ourselves constantly wanting to go back to Source. Because, this life here doesn’t really make sense, does it? This thing where we have to take the lifeforce out of other plants or animals to maintain our own. This thing where we can’t spontaneously dump our emotions, knowledge and intent straight into the receptors of other beings. This thing where we are all so separate and apart with all of these boundaries, and appendages, and base needs. It’s all really hard for a Being of Light to navigate. Having other Beings of Light to appendage hold with, to, however-awkwardly, exchange information and love with, it really is a soothing balm for the wound that living this life seems to be on us.

This current dance with our thoughts of not-being worked out far better than some. Our fiancée helped us do self and crisis care at home so that we wouldn’t have to hospitalize and risk The COVID. And she brought up this idea: suicide as selfish. “You can look it up,” she said. “You can read about it. It IS selfish! I don’t want you to leave me!”


We have looked it up and we have read about it, and we have talked to people other than ourselves who have the suicidal ideation. We’d not been able to find the selfishness of it. Hearing and feeling it from someone who loves us so very deeply? We came close to understanding that point of view. See what I mean? Nobody’s been able to dump that feeling and reasoning into our brain-pan before, though we’ve encountered the conversation so many times!

These bodies are slow. And lumbering. And painful—oh, lately, so very, very painful! These bodies aren’t efficient at understanding others’ points of view, experiencing their spirits through the heavy masses that make us up. These bodies are stuck in time, with only the linear life to look forward to, the previously-experienced to regret, relive, obsess over. It’s a very artificial state.

We’ve just got to believe that we chose all of this, and for a very good reason that we’ve asked ourselves to forget. All part of the play. Maybe a part of a bigger something. Maybe just distraction from the boredom of infinite life and infinite power.

Whatever the wherefores and whys of it, we’ll try out best to stay. It’s all going to end one day, in spite of our best efforts. In spite of what we believe about death and the Whatever-Comes-Next. We’ll know soon enough. Or we won’t—because we’ll be in The Nothing. Unrealized potential for Being once more.

When the darkness comes, when every breath is a struggle that our whole selves want to snuff out, this is when we remind ourselves that Death is already rushing toward us quickly. We’ve no need to rush it.

Posted in My Life Today.

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Where Have You Been?

I’ve realized one thing. I’ve realized that this “Writer Person” is actually a personality state that visits us, comes out of us, and at times, refuses to come out of us. I’ve missed her. I can only hope that others have missed her too.

One of the things that happened is that we got ourselves involved in a relationship. Inside that relationship, sharing oneself and one’s life with other people really wasn’t a thing encouraged. Our being the morphing beings that we are, we tried to accommodate this lifestyle, to honor the not-always-silently expressed desire of the chosen partner to be private. Guarded. Anti-social. It’s not really our thing. We shouldn’t have compelled ourselves to try and fulfill this type of life.

Fast forward to today. That relationship is gone. The years spent in it have dulled our voice. It’s a relief that it’s over–but we didn’t feel that relief part for quite some time. No. We felt the heartbroken, anguished mourning part. Some days, we mourn still. Especially for the time that we lost with our beloved furkids. The time that we still are losing with those of them left alive.

But life is this way, isn’t it? A series of changes. Of losses. Of grief. Of rebirth.

And are we all reborn? Certainly not! We’re still the same old revolving door of selves. Some more present than others. Some more vocal and forceful. Others dormant. Still others, still screaming inside our belly, trapped in a torment that they can’t share. Not even with us–the ones who carry them forward through that thing called time. We all doubt now that our Screamers will ever be free.

Because, we’re old now, aren’t we? Old and sickly. More sickly than we want to be. More sickly than we think we should be. More sickly than we all think this body deserves to be.

It’s said that the body takes on unexpressed pain. That even artistic and creative expression trapped inside serves to make the physical vessel sick. If so, then having our Writer Person trapped, our Artist Person trapped, our Singer and our Dancer trapped, all shut down for years, perhaps this is the reason for the unwellness and auto-immune issues that plague us.

If the above is true, then we can but pray to the gods and goddesses of our dreams that starting this writing bit up again will help us to heal. Help us to come together better as a working unit. If we don’t obsess over getting things right, reading and re-reading, editing and agonizing over word-choices, if we will but WRITE! CREATE! DANCE! and SING once again! Oh, great joy, then, oh THEN, perhaps we can awaken again…and LIVE.


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

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The Ghost Trees of Boneyard Beach 01/28/2015 04 -- Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area, Edisto Island, South Carolina, January 28, 2015

The Ghost Trees of Boneyard Beach  by Jim Dollar


I miss touch.

I miss the touch of a man. I miss the touch of a man who’s housed inside the body of a woman. I miss the softness. That touch that strokes my outsides but reaches into my soul and starts some sort of chorus there. A call and response.

I miss soft hands. Do they have to be? Calloused are just as good. Sexier. Calluses caused by guitar playing? Even better.

Never mind their casings, I miss hard working hands that will work hard for a life with me. Hands that think a life with me is worth something. A cherished thing.

Being a cherished thing. Yes. That’s what I miss most of all.


For me, a balanced lover is the best lover of all. Not balanced in the mind. No! Nothing so ambitious. As a matter of fact, a bit of imbalance makes of us seekers. Strivers. Improvers and students of ourselves. Of life. Of meaning.

I’m talking about balance in roles. Of gender. Of occupation. Of good and evil. Darkness and light. Domination and submission, Expectations of self. Of others. Balance that unleashes the feminine and the masculine that reside within us all. Those who can roll with the roles. Slide in and out of them with the ebb and flow that eases their multi-layered soul, nestles it, within the layers of my own.

And once wedged there, how to get it out? Is such a thing even possible?

As a single person, as a single person who has been in love with so many powerful souls, how do I find that powerful in me? In myself? Alone? Not influenced by the seeking of like minds that has thus far been my forte?

What do I do…with the ghosts?


Thanks and credit to the wonderful Jim Dollar at: Jim Dollar Photography.

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

The Mute

Pine Tree

A Pine Tree’s Triumph by Jim Dollar Photography


We don’t know where she comes from and we don’t know who took her voice. Sure, there have been times when not-speaking was the answer. There have been times when opening the mouth was the exact wrong thing to do. Did she come to help? Did she come to keep shut the mouth of a stubborn and willful child whose utterances would have subjected us all to extreme punishment?

Why does she come now? Why is she here today? Is she simply memory-echoes of an old muscle that forgets it’s no longer needed? That the pulling of the proverbial cart has been replaced by no need to move things? Has our stability in life not been acknowledged? Is it not believed? Or does she have needs and desires outside our system? Are her needs not being met?

This time of “quiet”, is it the energy of our original introversion rebelling, needing recovery from the life that we’ve given ourselves to live? The tasks we must do require interaction with other entities. Entities who can’t be trusted. Who might cause us harm. Entity interactions that call up the defense of our system in the Smiling, in the Measuring of Reactions, in the Negotiating, in the Talking, in the Intellectual Unraveling of “Social”.

The tired seeps into our bones and the heaviness lays a weighted blanket in our arteries. Our heart slows, so tired of maintaining the steeled defenses that surrounded it in futile hopes of protection—our higher selves recognizing those walls as a colander.

If we refuse rest, she makes us. We cannot work if we cannot speak. Writing? This we are allowed, but only in certain forms, the ingredients of the recipes being kept from the whole of us.

She visits and we’re sure that it’s the omen of a silent life to come, that no sound will ever cross our lips, no new friendships made, no old ones retained, familial ties falling by the way-side in the wake of our quiet resolve. Our lips sealed forever, the muscles surrounding our speaking-box forged from the same metal that fills our veins.

But a shift comes and the metal was but gold leaf, a thin covering to keep out the storm, preventing corrosion and erosion of our base selves. The layers peel back and we will bloom again into the noise, into the speaking…into life.

Until them? Today? There is The Mute.

Our thanks, as always, to the wonderful Jim Dollar at Jim Dollar Photography.

Posted in Dissociative Identity Disorder, My Personalities.

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Denise’s Last Night

Bethany Church Cemetary/Sunrise

Bethany Church 02 Panorama by Jim Dollar Photography


The following piece has long been accessible via Shared Words: Denise’s Last Night but I realized that I really need to centralize and put it here. It’s the thing that I wrote directly after My Denise died. Yes, it’s sad. Yes, the expression of the sad was very necessary. So–here it is:

“Denise’s courage to end her own pain, freed you up emotionally to do the things that God has in store for you to do.”
— Reverend Julie Strope in conversation with Deneen Ansley the last night that Denise Ansley’s body existed on this earth.

Through Death

Through Death: Hand in Hand


“What does it feel like?” someone once asked me, “when you want to kill yourself?

When you are wanting to die, I mean, what process goes through your mind? What are you thinking?”

Well, it feels like pain. Like unbelievable emotional pain. Like a cup filled up with water, a balloon pressed to fullness of bursting with air. The water is going to spill over. The heart within the chest is going to split and fly in every direction. Red bloody, messy flesh stuff is going to coat everything. It’s too much to contain. There is no appropriate container–least of all a fleshy one. It’s too much to bear. It is death.

That’s what it feels like.


“A cowardly thing to do,” you say.

“A selfish act.”

You tell me, how many of us, if told to take a loaded gun, put it to our throats and pull the trigger, would be able to accomplish that act?

What if, in our heart of hearts, we believed that the act would make better the lives of many that we knew?

What if we truly knew that those who loved us would be better off without us? Safer, more secure?

Could you do it? You tell me? Would you?


“Here, Baby,” she used to say, presenting her head to me. “Rub my head until you put me to sleep.

“Ooohh! That feels so good! You’re giving me chill-bumpers!” She’d cackle and smile and do that little half-lick of her lips thing. Her deep brown eyes always bore into mine.

Here I now sit, rubbing the hair on the top of your cold head that feels no tingling. Skin that can no longer feel the chill. Eyes that are closed and can’t see.

You are dead.


Kissing your cold and unresponsive face reminds me of kissing it so many times when you were down. In bed for days sometimes, curled into a warm, comforting ball of humanity–and I would come in and straighten your covers, gaze on your unconscious face. Lean over to kiss you gently on the forehead, the nose–at times, even your eyes–and you would not wake up. Even to lightly lay my hand upon your face. I would grok you. Feed you and feed from you. With you it was an even exchange. An act of balance. We were yin and yang.

My sweet, sweet love. Will we still, one day, make Universes together?


This is the face that I love. It’s the face that has brought me comfort on so many cold and otherwise lonely nights.

I know that profile like I know the profile of my own hand.

My fingertips know the little dip and bumps in the oft broken nose.

The knuckles of your fingers and toes are memorized and familiar to my own fingertips as I caress you and remember…

Those lips so often kissed…

Those hands so often held,

Those eyes whose tears I have so often dried–

And would have done again–f given opportunity.

Again, and again and again….

“How many times would you have rescued her?” I was asked.

As often as it takes.

My life, my heart, my soul was yours.

Is yours still

As I cry out and beg your spirit not to leave me, though you’ve chosen to leave yourself.

Your face so perfect that you needed no makeup. Your look of peace so absolute that my dear friend, your embalmer, was not called upon to alter your expression.

Though you wear a half-smile, this is not a joke.

Your hands wanted to be at your side, he said.

“No girlie sweet crossing of hands demurely across the chest,” I thought.

Perhaps you needed to be able to come out punching if the mood struck!


I take pictures and thank you for allowing it. I’m indebted to you for the fact that you didn’t actually blow away your face–as you’d threatened to do. I’ve held that face, caressed it. Even in death, your skin has a wonderful and unusual tone. Your right breast, on the side with your “opened-by-the-bullet-neck”, is hard to the touch – the nipple erect and at attention.

The tissue of the left breast is still soft and pliable, still sporting the tattooed nickname of your first love: “Wen” for “Wendy”. You’ve born the scar of Wendy’s heartbreak and betrayal ever since. This, you say, is your reminder that she was not what she appeared to be.

You were what you appeared to be. Some of your actions may have been hidden to me, but your heart never was. Your Aquarius band around your right arm still holds its color. It’s a water sign, like my own: Cancer.

You purposely had it placed high enough that you could cover it with a sleeve while working–so as to appear more professional.

My hands still want to trace your creamy hips and my mouth has the memory of taking you inside it as I’ve held those hips like handles, joining you in one of the many ways that we became one flesh. I can still hear the small sounds that escape you with your orgasms–the hot, wet breath of you against my neck as you molded and thrust into my own innermost self.

My fingertips trace that familiar line of dark hair that trails to your pubis, and your hair is all sticky with glue as my friend tried to plug those incisions left by the brave folks trying to save a braver you, who was too determined to die.

I gently trod across your labia, the darker, inner lips pouting out so dry and cold where my hands had before found such warmth and life. I take a bit of your hair there–to join it with your other hair in a locket–knowing full well that you are the sexual counterpart to me. You are my balance and there will never be another person with whom I fall through the stars.

Not like with you.

The universe will never fall away from me again and leave me floating, bodiless –

But–Oh! Never mind!

It has done!

You are gone.

My universe gone away and I am free floating–falling in despair and begging your spirit–

“Please, don’t leave me. If you can please stay a little while! Don’t forget me in your new existence! Don’t get so busy that you can’t let me need you anymore. I NEED YOU! Stay a little while!”


I can see the sun. I can see my grandbaby’s face. I can see the beauty of the trees, the brightness of the colors in the world.

Your eyes no longer open.

Your eyes no longer open.

Your eyes no longer see.

I lend you my eyes for the rest of my life.

I’ll let you see thru me.

The birds outside are sweetly singing. Can you hear them? Use my faulty ears, my love… or is your universe now so magnificent that my experiences, my bodily senses are like mere child’s play to you in your new form?


All through the night I awaken in my chairs fashioned into my own crude couch beside your casket.

I awaken, twice, when I glance over and see your familiar profile on my left.

–The wrong side, but still there and familiar. For a second, I can almost believe that you are alive, in our bed, sleeping peacefully.

What a gift this is to spend one more night with you! I want to hold you! Lay my head upon your chest.

I want to build a glass case and keep you in it so that I might look at you forever. I tell you so.

“Denise! Just get up! Just get the fuck up out of this casket and come home! Just come home!”


I don’t ever want to wash these fingers that have touched your skin for the last time.

I don’t ever want to wash these lips that last connected with your physical body.

Now, I watch the extreme heat alter the atmosphere around the chimney as you go up in smoke. There is the ripple of “mist-that-was-you” dipping into the atmosphere.

The smell of the embalming fluid still pervades my nostrils–co-mingling with the residue of ash-that-was-you. I burned your profile into my brain–looking over at you all through the night.

We open the cremation chamber to check your progress. Your skull is outlined in ash–still beautiful–until the rake pulls your hips forward onto the throat air, collapsing the little pile that was your face.

You are gone.

Posted in My Denise, My Life Today, My Loves and Lovers.

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About A Dream

Bridge to Rough Ridge 03-Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville Falls October 12, 2014

Bridge to Rough Ridge–03 by Jim Dollar Photography

I dreamed last night about My Denise. I didn’t get to see her. No, it was after her death. That’s what I dreamed. I woke up this morning very, very sad. She’s been dead for years and years—but that doesn’t matter. It will always feel as if it was yesterday.

I think I may jump from dimension to dimension, or from parallel universe to parallel universe in my sleep. Maybe I even do it when I’m awake. I have been accused of such. In my dreams, I sometimes interact with people from here, this awake-world. Sometimes I interact with people who FEEL like people from here, but look nothing like them. Sometimes, I interact with people who feel familiar, like they’ve always BEEN there, but who have no relation to anyone in this world. This is how it was last night. I was interacting with members of Denise’s family, some amalgamations of people, some familiar people who don’t exist here. It was a reunion after her death. Some sort of gathering. We were all sad—but they were still misunderstanding her, just like was really the case with most of the actual people in this reality. That was making me even sadder. It was hard to “get” Denise, even for me, and it’s usually easy for me to get hard-to-get people.

I come from a fucked up family. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it has given me lots of insight into fucked up people, and since those are usually the kinds of people I date and become friends with (duh! because we go to what’s familiar!), it’s made me better able to deal with them. It’s a curse because I don’t even REALIZE how fucked up people are until it’s too late, plus, “normal” people FEEL WEIRD to me. Being around too many normal people all at once, especially loving normal people with healthy relationships, frankly, it gives me the willies. Sadly, I probably don’t get the willies often enough.

Partly because of my familial environment of fucked-uppedness, partly because of my familial genes, I’ve had to deal a lot with suicidal ideations. I know, firsthand, what it’s like to want to die. I go there a lot. Other people I love go there a lot. This month, I’ve had one family member who attempted suicide, another one hospitalized who was suicidal. I don’t blame them for wanting out. I’m not mad at them for wanting out. I don’t even understand how people get so mad at folks who want to die or try to die. They are already so miserable that they don’t want LIFE! They don’t want sunrises or chocolate cake! They don’t want to visit a beach or the desert. They don’t want the smiles of babies or the purr of a kitten. They’ve given up on booze AND coffee! How is my anger even a thing that I think would make a blip on their radar? How can I be angry in the face of such deep and utter sadness? How can anyone feel anything but pity? No, it’s the non-understanding that I don’t understand.

This part is also very important: If someone you love decides to end their life, it is NOT YOUR FAULT. It’s not their fault either. It’s an unfortunate circumstance. I think it’s from being born with too much feeling. Yes, too much feeling can be a detriment. Ask any empath. Trying to work the blessing out of having been born with too-much-feeling, well, for some folks, a lifetime isn’t long enough…so they give up. I don’t blame them. You shouldn’t either.

If you are wanting to die though, if you are considering it, you’ve no idea the pain your death is about to leave its wake. How could you? You’re already hurting so badly and feeling so worthless that you probably can’t imagine anyone caring. Believe me, they do. They may not even know it themselves and may tell you otherwise. Don’t listen. The people saying they don’t care are big fat liars. They care. Otherwise, they wouldn’t waste their breaths trying so hard to convince you that they don’t. They’d simply walk away, and you’d hear nothing from them on the subject.

My mom called me to ask why I hadn’t let her know about Denise’s suicide when it happened. I hadn’t because I truly believed that she wouldn’t care. My mother is a fundamentalist Christian who thinks that all gay people are doomed for hell, that they are of the devil—or that their actions are, at least. Her reaction was a mixture of compassion and belittlement. I expected her to say, “Good! One less gay in the world.” That’s not what she said. She talked of her own experience with violent deaths, how hard it was for her, how she still had nightmares, how it never leaves you. She was right. It was a bonding moment with my mother that I wish I’d never had to have. She also made sure that I realized that My Denise was in Hell for eternity. See. A mixture. Like someone offering you a cocktail, and then your finding out it’s a Molotov one.

The thing is, Denise wasn’t even gay. Denise was transgendered. That’s not something that people were talking about very much when she died. It was a really, really hard thing for Denise to talk about. She didn’t want to disappoint her mom or stepmom, or dishonor them. She loved her family deeply. Deeply was the only way she knew how to love.

Denise was also a man who slept with men. I’m pretty sure that she was ashamed of it. She didn’t really want me to know it. I only know it now because I’ve heard the stories and actually talked to one of the men who gave me lots of details (who is STILL in love with her to this day; as am I). I know that Denise had sex with men in the manner of men-with-men because inside my DID system, there dwells the Gay Male and I’m mostly co-conscious with him (as far as The-Me-Who’s-Speaking-To-You-Now is aware). I don’t think that part she was ashamed of. Since my body is female, and since that was happening before my DID diagnosis, I’m pretty sure that she just filed that in her head under “kink-in-the-bedroom”. No, Denise had sex with men in the way of a woman having sex with a man. I’ve read other testimonials of transgender men who’ve talked about their body craving the act of being penetrated by men. Those tales were tales of anguish, of a body betraying the host. I’m not sure how Denise felt about that because we never talked about it. You may have already guessed that My Denise wasn’t much of a talker.

Once, when we were pretty newly together, I made a grave mistake with Denise. You see, in the bedroom, we were (almost) always boy-with-girl. She was the boy. I was the girl. I began to worry that she would think that I wanted a “real” boy, that I was only into sex with role-playing a thing that she wasn’t. Not really. Back then, I didn’t as fully understand how the mind of most transgendered people worked, and I don’t think she’d ever SAID to me that she was trans. (No talking; remember?) So, I took an occasion to get serious with her and I looked her in the eyes and I said (how in the world could I have been so naive?!), “I hope you know that, even though we play the way we do, I don’t really want a man. I only want you and I would never betray you by actually going out to find a man.” I thought I was being reassuring. For you people out there in a relationship with a person who is transgendered, do NOT ever say anything this stupid! You should have seen her face. No, actually, be glad that you never have to see pain like that on a face—and I hope you never do. Denise didn’t cry easily, but there were tears being tightly squeezed behind her eyelids, some escaping down her reddened cheeks. “How can you say that to me? I can’t believe you would say that to me. I AM a man!!” She stormed out of the room. (Well, don’t you all be upset with me, too! She should have TOLD me! People, talk to your partners! They can’t read your damned minds!)

From that moment forward, I only treated her like a man. I couldn’t see her, wouldn’t LET myself see her as anything else. Why am I still saying “she”? Because that’s what Denise wanted as far as pronouns were concerned. As long as her mother was alive, she didn’t want to be referred to by a male pronoun. She thought it would be too hard for her mother. Even though her mother has since died, Denise has just always been a “she” in my head in terms of language. Not in terms of actuality. As a matter of fact, this caused me confusion and stress on a couple of occasions.

Once, when we were visiting Georgia and Denise was very drunk (which she ALWAYS was in Georgia—but those are other stories for other times), she said, “Show me what you can do with that.” “That” was a device that was “hers”, a prosthetic body part we’d chosen for her. I would never have DREAMED of “treating her like a woman”. Not after that night when I’d so hurt her feelings. It was a very confusing night for me, I didn’t want to do it, and I was quite ineffectual with “that”—I’d like to think due to my emotional distress around the subject and not my lack of experience with “it”. As a matter of fact, when it was man-on-man time, I had no such qualms. I could treat her like a “man” with no reservations. This “woman” thing was something weird to me. Surreal. Not as surreal as a time yet-to-come.

The above incident ended with Denise stopping me and saying, “It’s okay. I just wanted to see.” I marked it up as her being curious about what being a girl felt like. She had told me that her sexual encounters with men had always been forced. I’d been really scared that I would traumatize her, even though she was asking me to do this thing. Apparently, my concerns were unfounded.

One of the most terrible things that I experienced with Denise centered around this dichotomy that she carried so uncomfortably within herself. This other event was my being witness to her having another woman actually treat her like a woman. (A different, longer story for another time.) The most uncomfortable thing to me was that she wasn’t uncomfortable with it at all. The sight made my head, and heart, spin. Since that night that I’d hurt her feelings, telling her that I wasn’t interested in having a “man”, I’d made sure to put her in the category of “male”. I couldn’t un-see her as a boy. I’ve also never been able to “un-see” what I saw that night. Every thrust into her seemed a stab into my heart, and what I was afraid it was doing to the “man” inside of her. Apparently, I sometimes worry more about other people than is warranted. She was absolutely fine with it, asked for it, wanted it, wanted me to do it to her. I never could. I just could not. Why did it hurt me to see her female form being used like a female form when it wasn’t hurting her?

The Me-Who-Is-Speaking-To-You-Now, I know that sexuality is fluid, and that people want different things at different times. The “me” in control of things then, she was thoroughly confused and out of her element. I feel the haunting these events hold for her still, as I’m writing this.

“Why are you telling people all of these intimate details about Denise,” you may ask. “Do you really think that she’d want people to know?” Probably not. She probably wanted all of her secrets to be buried with her. Maybe not, though. She was really into helping people, even strangers, so she might give permission if she thought it would help someone. Thing is, Denise doesn’t get a say, and here’s fair warning: If you commit suicide, people are NOT going to stop talking about you, and you can’t defend yourself or sue for libel. If you kill yourself, I’m taking that as an indication that I can tell anything I want about you. You just might show up in this blog with me willy-nilly spilling all of your secrets. How’s THAT for an incentive to stay alive?

One day, these things that tormented Denise (and these types of things were not the only things to haunt her), they won’t be a big deal. We’ve a generation coming up that finds gender and sexuality a much more fluid thing. I wish I could live to see the day when there IS no stereo-typical male or female for people to plug themselves into. When there is no “sexual-orientation” but just “sexual relationships”—or the lack thereof, which is also, absolutely okay. I want a world where everyone is an oddball and unrepressed, so that no person can be singled out by the rest of the persons, cast into an out-group to be ridiculed, sometimes to death.

And if you ARE one of an out-group who is being ridiculed for whatever reason, please know that it’s not you. It’s really not. It’s us. It’s all of us who want to fit you into a neat little box, and who’s OCD really acts up when the creative bits of you puff up out the edges of said box. Our society has a problem appreciating your ruffles…but our society is made up of individuals who CAN, on a person-to-person level, appreciate the beauty and enrichment that you bring to life. Please, if you want to give up, if you want to drag yourself out of the box-you-don’t-fit-in, take your toys and go home, well, I can’t blame you. I’ve wanted to do it a million times. Hell, I want to do it RIGHT NOW! But then, who will teach the young folks tolerance? Who will help us dismantle the boxes, or at least build lots of new or bigger boxes so that there are more box-options into which more of us will fit and be understood?

Speaking of which, being understood is over-rated. If you’re understood, then you’re not teaching anyone anything and you’re not adding anything new. In fact, I will be so bold as to say that if everyone around you understands you, you’re not doing your job as a human-being. So, come on folks! Go out there and proudly BE misunderstood. Stand stubbornly outside the box and shake your head and declare, “Nope. Don’t think I’m going in there.” Then, turn around and look at all of the other people standing out with you, those who don’t have a box to stand in…and give them an out-of-the-box hug. It will make this world we’re all stuck in on its way to being a better place and, not now, but eventually, and maybe when you’re long gone—but this is a long game—the Denise’s (and Deneen’s) of our world will thank you for it. And maybe, just maybe some of them will choose not to be dead, and some of the nightmares will cease.

Much gratitude, as always to the wonderful Jim Dollar @ Jim Dollar Photography

This Post is Dedicated To: All the People Who’ve Ever Wanted to Die, and the Families Who’ve Lost Them

Posted in My Denise, My Life Today, My Loves and Lovers.

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A Note From Child Helper


Dandelion, Blue Ridge Parkway

Zen Dandelion Too Poster*

Hello Everyone. I am gonna be writing for you for the first time ever in my life. I think it is the first time I ever written anything. I am a helper child. She has named me that, “ Child Helper”. Some people call me a Little. I’m not sure exactly when I was borned so I can’t really tell you that. I can tell you the first time I knew that I was good and helpful.

My Mommie, and I thought I would call her that and then I thinks about it and I realize that she cannot really be my Mommie. She really is my Deneen instead of my Mommie, cause I live inside of her. But alls of us in here, she is Mommie to. She runs the show (when other people will let her), except sometimes, she can not run the show. Sometimes, she gets very sad and she can’t hardly move. Sometimes she has a bad thought of a thing that happened to her, or some other part inside of her (like what I am, but not me—cause, so far, I don’t have memory thingies that shut me down, but I do has some bad, bad memories and I just hafta go away when they come, and if any shuttin down needs to happen, a grown up takes over to do that so I don’t have to worry about it). I jus realized that mighta confused some of ya’lls, so I will tell you a little bit about how it feels when I hafta leave.

You know how when you go to sleep, you shut your brain off and you try to get it to stop talking? Like maybe your favorite pet died and it is on your mind and you keep seeing the image over and over and it won’t stop and it makes you sad? Well, you want to stop being sad and thinkin about the bad thing, so you push it back into your mind. Maybe you pile other stuff on top of it to stop the thinking. You might watch a movie or read a book, or have sex. Yes! I know about sex even though I am a Little! Deneen doesn’t really allow any of us to deny things about sex. We have to all know them and talks about them and keep the bad things of that from happening to any of us. This is one way my whole system works together, and I am very proud that we do that, even though some of us have to suffer and be unhappy because of it. It’s the best way for us to do it and where most everyone is safe. That’s our jobs when we are out running the body. We have to make sure that EVERYONE is safe. That’s very scary and hard to do because we don’t all know each other in a way that we can all sit down at a table in here and plan or complain or tell our stories to each other. I hope one day, we can do that. I think that most of the people in here in our system are very nice people, and they like me.

Back to my stories, though. Okay. So, when I have finished doin somethin I needed to do, or if someone is around that makes me uncomfortable, or if someone sees me and tries to start talking to Deneen, well, its time for me to go. I WANT to go. I only have a few functions and I am very good at my job. VERY good! As a matter of fact, Deneen leaned on me heavily the last time she got out of the hospital. That was about five years ago. One of our Littles, she had very bad memories come where people were very mean to her. She got panicked and thrown back to when she got borned. Deneen let her have the body to try to work her things out and it turned out not so good for nobody could get back out and do normal things that we have people for. Like walking. Like writing. Like answering grown-ups questions. So, you see, it is possible to get “stuck” out, and you can’t get back in. That has happened to me a couple of times and I got really panicked. I tried just relaxing to go back, but it didn’t work. I got very scared and sad and stressed. I knew Deneen needed to be out talking, but I was out stuck in the mouth.

Oh! That’s somethin else that happens to us! When Deneen is doing the thing C-o-c-o-n-c-s-i-o-u-s, Deneen says it is, when she does that with us (and with some she can and some she can’t, and some always and some just part of the time), we have all of her big words available. They are here in the mind and we know the meaning, and we know it is a good word and the right word…but we are stuck in a time when we didn’t know the word and our mouth cannot say it. So we have to think of simpler words our mouth knows how to say and say it that way. It is slower and it takes longer—but everything does with us. We will get to that in a minute. We were trying to tell you when we go back inside and stop running the body.

It’s like when you are trying to fall asleep and you just shut things out, like closing doors. In my case, I open a door, and I fall into it. Like anti-gravity. Like a cool movie set. I almost feel the wind as I pull back into the mind and through the darkness of the door. Sometimes, other things pile in after me, cause you see, I have become the thing that needs to be squashed down and to be hidden. I have to be held down and put to sleep so that the body can call up someone else who can run the show. The show that is the Deneen Show! That’s kinda funny! That I AM part of a show, like on TV. Except the TV is this body, walking around doing things.

When I first comed out and stayed and put my foot down about letting me do things is when some of us thought the body needed to go down. The people who are there the most when that happens are Suicidal Girl, Skeleton Man, Shaky Girl, one or some of The Screamers, and Mute. As their names give away, most of them can not help the body to function and do working tasks when such tasks are needed to be done. Sometimes, when Deneen would be taking care of her grandchildren, and she always wants all of us to see them and play with them and talk to them and do things with them, she would got flashbacks sometimes that were very, very bad for her. Or she would get really upset and over react to some thing that hurted her feelings. SHE would go back through the door and start going to sleep, and she had a list of things that needed to be done! She knew that there was all of this stuff to be done, but Deneen could not do it. That’s when I started to come in a lot more. This is where I am most helpful to our system.

I can focus on one task at a time, and I love doing work! I can go inside to Deneen’s list and ask her the most important thing. She kinda’ mumbles it to me and I know she can’t feel her lips or her hands or move the body at all. Let’s say we had a picnic planned for the kids and she has gone to sleep over some trauma memory. I can fix the food for the picnic and put it in the basket! I have humming songs and I talk to myself a lot, but these things keep me very calm and focused and on task. Then, I ask the next thing on the list. Maybe we need to load the picnic things in the car, and then pack swimsuits for the little girls, and a swimsuit for me. I do only the ONE important next thing! I cannot multitask like Deneen does. I do one thing at a time, very carefully and very slowly. When everyone else is screaming inside, behind the doors, and when little people are trying to climb out of the pits of the screaming and get closer to the top (I hope they are coming to tell us their stories, and that this is their goal, though I can’t speak for them), when all of this is happening, I am still able to move the body and make it do the working tasks. It may take me a whole hour to do something that other people do in five minutes, but the fact is that I have a lot of weight I am carrying and lugging around while I do the thing. So far, it has helped us still keep to our needed things being done, and things that are important. I hope that my helping my system this way is something good.

One other thing that I want to talk about, and then I need to go back and drink the tea that I just made Deneen, and I got cheese and crackers for her. Shaky Girl is right under the surface, and nightmares are creeping in, and the screamers and groaners keep opening the mouth to make their starting noises when she starts to fall asleep. It’s important that we don’t scream and wake the partner in the bed, so we try to drive the screamers back under. One day, it needs to be their turn, but I don’t know if anyone will ever be able to sit and hear them and let them scream and flail and bang things. Maybe they SHOULDN’T come out. They might hurt the body. I don’t know. I’m no expert. They cannot speak yet except to repeat their scared statements in a loop, which gets nobody anywhere. I feel bad for them because I have fun doing the things I do, and I am very proud when I finish a task for Deneen and all of the others. The screamers, they have no goodness for them. I wonder if this will ever change.

The last thing to say is that I’m glad that I got to write and I think I got a little better at it just this time! We can learn fast because some of us get access to information we didn’t know from some of the others. If we all knew how to do all of the things, that would be good! But, when would I know that Suicidal Girl was getting dangerous and that the body needed to be put down so it can’t act? Only Skeleton Man can make that call, and I would hate to think of us without him to BE our protector like that. His job is boring and not pleasant for him, but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t feel anything anyway. We are lucky to have him. He knows that he saves us all, and has many times.

Okay, here’s me with that “last note” again! Deneen’s partner doesn’t like children. Their energy wears her out. She likes them in small doses, maybe, but not large doses and she needs recovery time. She barely tolerates grown-ups, so the children should not feel bad (and Deneen is creeping in through me and saying things when it is supposed to be my turn!). The bottom line is that her partner doesn’t know how to act when I am out and running things. We are still trying to work on that one. I got stuck “out” once for a couple of hours and she was not at work (usually when I’m out) and it was the most stressful couple of hours in my life! Other than when I did have a flashback that was shared with Deneen and I almost took the body running into the bushes to let the screamers out because they were begging me to. Thank god The Male came out and saved us all from embarrassment. Deneen was gone for a long while that day, and I hung back watching, not buried behind the door, but not wanting to take control either because I was afraid.

This body is very tired now and in a lot of pain, so I’m going back in to sleep and I’m asking Deneen to please post this for me tomorrow, but make sure to ask me opinions of Jim Dollar’s picture to go with it (we love his pictures and we like to look when Deneen is looking through them. We love pictures!) and other things. And also, do NOT change our sentences to be perfect and YOUR sentences! Cause you said we could write it, so this is us writing. Apparently, I have a helper because we keep saying us. Maybe Child Helper has a Helper, too? Maybe writing more will help me, Child Helper, figure out who the “we” is who keeps sharing in the making of this. At present, I do not know. Maybe “The Writer”? I do want to go on and on and on! Back pain is putting this to a close.

Thank you for reading me! I’m not out much here, but tonight, I was needed, and I helped!

*From The Deneen: Child Helper would like for me to let you all know that she chose this photo of a Dandelion, by Jim Dollar Photography (our thanks and thanks again and always to this remarkable artist!) because when we were all children, we loved to find these flowers. Below is a link to what they looked like BEFORE they turned into the remarkable miracles represented at the top of the page. The thing that made them miraculous was that if you blew on them, and blew all the seeds away in a single breath, all while making a wish (we usually closed the eyes), the little parachutes with their seeds attached would go out and find a way to make it come true! We made a lot of wishes! Some of them even came true. Some, we’re still waiting for. A lot of us came out for that blowing event, or watched from inside. It was very special. These are nice memories.

Zen Dandelion by Jim Dollar Photography

Dandelion In Full Bloom: Zen Dandelion by Jim Dollar


This post is dedicated to: Child Helper. The rest of us don’t know how we’d ever make it without her. We’re very grateful for her birth, and her continued help inside the system that is The Deneen.

Posted in Dissociative Identity Disorder, My Personalities.

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A Whole Lot of Gentle

Spruce Tree House

Kiva Ladder by Jim Dollar Photography

I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around human beings. What we are. What we do. Why we do it.

You’d think that last one was the one I’d have the most trouble with but, as it turns out, it’s not. No, I can usually understand the motivation behind what people do—even if I don’t like it, and even if I’d rather they didn’t do it, or better yet, didn’t WANT to do it.

No, the part with which I am having trouble is that second one. What we do. –And what is that? We judge one another. We hurt one another. We take each other for granted.

You want to know the hardest part about accepting what we do? Confessing that I, too, am a human being. I like to think that I don’t act like them…or most of them. I’d like to believe that I don’t hurt people, say or do things out of ignorance. I’d like to believe that—but I don’t. Even my tone of voice, that thing which I learned as a wee babe living with my family of origin, even THAT can set people off. Only some people. Just like the tone of some folk’s voice sets me off (or several of the “me’s”).

Sometimes, it all seems too complicated: living with being hurt, living with the knowledge that I hurt people, knowing that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is most likely talking shit about everybody. Even me, both in the doing and the being done to.

So, why do we complain about others to others and not to the people themselves? There are lots of reasons. Maybe we are blowing off steam so that we can stop being mad at someone. Maybe we’re saying things out-loud to see if they feel right and correct once we say them. We may have gotten the message, at some point in our lives, that confrontation is to be avoided at all costs. Perhaps the other person is too sensitive, young or stupid to take criticism in any productive way. Intellectually, I understand these things, but they’re still hard to wrap my heart around.

Every person that I love, every person in whom I’m invested, they have the potential to harm me, to stomp on my feelings, to throw our relationship away. It happens to me more times than I care to count, and will continue to happen as long as I live. That’s one reason for being EXTRA careful about how much of ourselves we choose to invest, and in what people. It’s a reason to keep our hearts close to ourselves in terms of loving ourselves, valuing ourselves, and listening to ourselves. I promise you that you are made to do this. You have to DO what is in you and not expect loyalty, not expect reward, not expect that people will like you or what you do. You have to KNOW that the value in what you do is in the fact that you are driven to do it, that it was born inside the miracle of the life that you are.

You can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to please you. This is in our fundamental design because we humans have to exist across the spectrum of possibility. We have to be like the atoms of the future—alive and vibrant with the potential of what we can become upon being observed. What’s observing us? Who the hell knows!? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Probably whatever you expect/create is. What does it matter anyway? You’re alive. That seems enough of an observation in itself.

I’m not suggesting that we should not care for others. I’m not suggesting that we should, or are even meant to, walk alone. Far from it. I’m suggesting that we learn somehow to expect that people are going to disappoint us, that we are going to disappoint them—and that we are going to sometimes disappoint ourselves. Others are going to hurt us, and we are going to have to forgive them just as we must learn to forgive ourselves when we hurt others, accidental or otherwise.

We all have evil in us.

Let me say that again.


Another’s harm to us is but of a reflection of our own potential to harm them, and somehow, we’ve got to acknowledge that, be okay with it. I’m not finding it easy.

I want to think that I’m better, I want to do better, and I don’t think there’s a damn thing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, I think that’s the thing our entire species should be doing. I’m not going to say that we should move away from being animals, because I think animals understand the nature of things and, except for traumas brought on them by mankind, they seem to suffer through and recover from negative events pretty well.

I think that we need to be MORE like animals. We need to move away from being so “human”, and just be okay with the nature of things and stop denying it.

I’m not sure what humans are becoming, but there has to be something out there for us, something in our future that is better, more sensical than this. THIS! This is hard, and my prayer (Universe? Are you listening?) is that this existence amongst all of this illogic and pain is but the labor that precedes the birth of us into something that can understand what the HELL “it’s” all about.

Because from where I sit now, this life? It’s just too damned hard. I want to live in a Universe where I can trust my own potential to do only good, and KNOW that those around me are manifesting like desires.

This future world? I can’t wait to get there! It’s going to be great! Right now…? Right now, we humans are crossing the scary, flimsy rope-bridge hanging over the chasm of deep returning-to-our-starting-point. It’s a bridge strung up by the blood, sweat, tears and, yes, good intentions, of those gone before us. We’re adding to its strength even now…and me? I’m afraid of heights. I need a little hand-holding and a whole lot of gentle. I don’t think I’m the only one.

Jim Dollar at Jim Dollar Photography really out-did himself with the perfect photo to fit this post! Thanks, Jim!

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

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This Ohio Move

Linn Cove Viaduct

Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway by Jim Dollar

This move to Ohio is making us all not-very-happy. It’s not that we don’t like adventure. It’s not that we don’t like Ohio. It’s that we KNEW where we were and where our friends were, and what to do to remain stable enough to at least get up most of the time back in our old, North Carolina home.

After our hospitalization a few years ago, we were invited to live with the person who would become our partner “as long as you need to”. Apparently, the need is still there. But the PLACE isn’t. We are all having to leave the place we love, and many of the animals that we loved are gone now and we will never see them again. Many died. Others are in new homes or new foster homes. Human relationships ended, or got put on hold. It’s just not a good place. Not a place we want to be in. Everything is just SO, SO up-in-the-air. Our things are, once again, spread across different states. So are the people we love. The person we know best here is our realtor. That’s sad.

This house that we’re in, it’s an awesome house! It’s a writer’s house and we love it. But it’s also big and dirty (because our physical health is such that we can’t really clean it quickly or thoroughly). It’s really overwhelming, all that there is to do. Plus, it’s been REALLY hard on the animals to give up the home they knew, the land they knew. Most everyone is adjusting, but some of our neighbors hate our animals, are afraid of them, and that’s another stressor.

Moving wasn’t really a choice thing. Not for us or for our partner. Especially caring for this many animals, having just purchased new cars (both of us because the old ones were breaking/broken), there was no way that we could survive without the good income my partner’s work provides. So, we had to move where the work was. I know it was necessary. I know that this is just another grand adventure…but I miss my old life! I miss my bedroom, which was supposed to be the living room. I miss my living room, which was supposed to be the dining room. I miss having our animals out in big, rambling, enrichment-filled pens! I just miss, miss, miss.

We thought, my partner and I, not the collective “we” that is “me”, that we would place our fosters, and as our elderly animals died, we would have a chance to sit back and enjoy that place in North Carolina. It would have been nice to be able to enjoy it without the responsibility of “too many critters”. Even now, even having moved, we have “too many critters”. It’s an awesome responsibility to place people that you are in love with! I love and miss every animal we place, and even as my responsibilities lessen, even as I have more time to do things like write this blog, I am SO, SO very sad! I hope I get to see them all in Animal Heaven. I hope I get to live there.

For now, though, for now, I hafta live here. Ready or not! Here it comes! I sure hope we can rise to the challenge. Or, at the very least, keep rising from this damn bed every day to do a little, love a little, dream a little, grab a bit of happiness in each of these days that only exist for me here, now…once.

Thanks to Jim Dollar Photography for the most PERFECT image to represent my journey!

Where I am now: Dayton, Ohio

Where I came from: Eden, North Carolina

Where I grew up: Cornelia, Georgia

The city that has my heart: Greensboro, North Carolina

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

Red Haired Boy

Red by Jim Dollar

Price Park, Greensboro, NC            Red by Jim Dollar

She passed him almost every day, trying not to look. He was a strange one. He wore tee-shirts that he’d creating himself, patterns cut into them that moved, revealing pale, gaunt skin. The glaring sun in the quad reached in and found flesh tones to illuminate, his auburn hair also taking on a bit of the fire. Taller than the other boys, thinner, he walked like a symphony. There was nothing, absolutely nothing in him that tried to hide. Not like her.

There was a lot that she tried to hide. Of late, that most abundant feeling being crammed under the nearest heavy, darkest of things was her sadness. Her absolute devastation. She presented an odd mixture, for even with downcast eyes and this air of attempted melting-into-shadows, she cut quite the picture of fashion. It was the eighties after all, and she did have her ideas about beauty—just like the boy in the courtyard of the college. –And, beautiful, he was!

Every day, she changed her clothing over and over in her newly acquired dorm room, trying to find just the right statement and just the right fit. It was so much so that one of the counselors (who wasn’t even hers) took it upon herself to take her aside and pronounce, “You seem to have your priorities mixed up. If you paid as much attention to your studies as you do to your sense of fashion, you’d be at the top of your class! Why don’t you?” It was a good question. Without her three children, without her husband, with only the sparse decor of her dorm-room, her music, and her clothing to keep her company, she did give dressing a good portion of her attention. It was a distraction from an unbearable pain.

Oh, and then there was the sex. Lots of sex. Lots of boys, a couple of men, but mostly men who felt like boys (don’t they all?). In a funny way, her sexual activities were just another way of hiding. Hiding in the open. Hiding in the act. A losing of herself. A drug.

She felt herself living multiple lives—all of them new. The silence in the dorm was deafening. The lack of children’s voices was an echo of torture. Her empty bed was a mockery, so she rarely touched it. Most nights, she fell asleep in her car after perusing the nightlife. Sometimes, she slept in the bed of another, but her own bed within the cold-block walls of the dormitory got no action at all, including that act for which it was meant.

Even with numerous other men to think about, the Red-Haired Boy began to occupy more of her attention than she would like to admit. Crossing the courtyard in front of the building where the nurses studied, she would always hope for a sly glimpse. Or a feel. More accurately, a feel. For, she could feel him. His spirit, his energy, it bounded out like a puppy looking for a pet, and she longed to be the owner to give the token his soul desired. She loved his loud, self-assured laugh when he’d let it go, chatting with other boys who were his friends. She wondered what he was like. How he’d manage to come by such self-assurance. She wondered what else lay beneath the peeping holes of the shirt…and the super-tight pants below.

What was he studying? Did he have a girlfriend…or boyfriend? Was he gay? The easy way he reached out to his friends to touch them, the slightly effeminate curve to his cheek, his flowing walk and sense of fashion, all indicated that this might be the case. No matter! Gay men seemed to love her, and she them. His greenish-brown eyes told her of a complicated story, even though she’d never had the gall to look directly into them, or let him catch her sneaking peeks. She thought that a boy like him must be attached. There was nothing for it. He was very young and full of life, she, a soon-to-be-divorced (again) mother of three. Her tired, post-babies body would never attract the attentions of a butterfly on his flight to alight on flowers. She considered herself more a bit of vegetable, long past the flowering state.

—But, it didn’t stop her thinking. In her mind, she’d undressed him already, slowly rolling away the last dregs he’d left of the shirt adorning his body, his arms over his head—and the shirt too, hiding his eyes from her as she took in the full, exposed sight of the sexy nipples that had teased their way to her notice, peeking out from drooping lines of fabric. In her mind, her hands had followed the slim lines of his waist, her mouth on the pale skin of his hairless chest, her grasping his buttocks with a grip as firm as the cute cheeks they sought. She could smell him. She could taste him. Not because those things had happened on the physical realm. Oh, no! She was quite sure that he didn’t even know she was alive…but that couldn’t stop her drawing in his essence. His not knowing her had not stopped her knowing of him, and his inability to keep his spirit in check had been met with her own’s great pleasure.

Thinking about things that weren’t her real life, those were the only things that made her real life bearable. She seemed to live through series after series of events that were out of her control. Never mind what the philosophers said. There were sometimes things that were not in her control. When one lives this sort of life for a long-enough time, one gravitates toward grabbing the little moments, the blooms opened before the path. Never mind that the petals might be poisonous.

This night, the thing that was wrong was that she was wanting to see her son. She was desperately needing to see her son. He was still a baby and it was he that she worried about and missed the most. Not that she didn’t miss her daughters, because not a second went by that her heart wasn’t breaking over her not being able to live with them at the moment—but they were in a safe place with trusted family and she could see them at any time…that was a decent hour. Not late at night, not on a night like this when her spirit could not find a bit of rest. Her daughters had school in the morning. What could be done is that she could try to make arrangements for a visit with her son.

Money was tight, and even money for the pay phone in the student lounge was hard found…but rummaging through her purse and the pile of receipts and things on her desk, she managed to scrounge up a couple of quarters. Clutching them tightly, before she could think too much and talk herself out of making the phone call, and without taking the time to fix herself up, she made her way down the echoing hallway to the stairs. The industrial smell of unpleasantly scented cleaners assaulted her as she sharply in-took, then held, her breath. It happened every time she hit the stairwell. It smelled worse than a hospital. It smelled more like a jail.

The activity room was silent, as always. Folks just seemed to walk through it, and never actually stopped to DO anything. It was a relief when she pushed on the metal bar of the glass door to outside, a breath of perfectly temperate night air replacing the stale air in her lungs. The night’s crickets serenaded her on her walk up the cracked sidewalk, the fireflies barely showing themselves amongst the trees, their back-ends losing the competition, drowned out by the artificial lights of the campus. Fiddling with her coins all the way to the student center where the payphone was, she kept her hands in her pockets.

Drat! The building was full of people! She could see through the large, glass windows that lined the snack area that she was not the only person of restless spirit tonight! Not wanting the others to notice her eyes reddened from crying, not wanting to be asked questions too awkward to answer, not really wanting to “hang-out” with the younger “kids”, she kept her head down and barely nodded as she passed the gathering of people. It was a careful trick to be social enough not to be targeted for not speaking, but not being inviting enough to have people begin a conversation she couldn’t break away from. Once people began talking with her, she often found it impossible to end it and walk away. She’d never been good at that part. –And tonight, she was on a mission!

The telephone was in a room a little to the side, in a quieter corner of the building, and for that, she was grateful. She wouldn’t have to compete quite so much with the noise from the tables in the snack room. This was an important call, and it took a lot of courage. It was hard for her to speak about her son without breaking down. It was even harder for her to navigate the timetable and logistics for arranging a visit. Time was always hard to manage. It always seemed to slip away, to disappear into this dark, unknowable hole. What with work and school, and her late-night activities, what with her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s unbendable rules, would she be able to work out a way to see her son anyway?

She missed the sight of her baby’s smile, and his beautiful, light eyes…so unlike his two older sisters’ deep American Indian brown ones. She missed the scent of his head when she buried her nose into his dirty-blonde locks. She missed caring for him, and for her daughters. She missed the messes. She even missed the presence of the husband who had annoyed her so much, hurt her so much that she had decided to leave. She missed the family. Her identity as a wife and mother was the thing that had kept her grounded. Who was she without that role for herself?

Taking a deep breath in preparation, she knew she wouldn’t be able to breath, really, for a while, she picked up the receiver, stuck in the quarter, waited for it to clang into the mechanical belly of the phone, got a dial-tone…and punched in her husband’s number.

The next thing of which she was aware, she was outwardly sobbing and blubbering things that didn’t, to her ears, seem to make any sense. She was trying to get the receiver back into its cradle, but her hands wouldn’t work right and she couldn’t see, so it took a few tries. Shoulders hunched forward, she had to, literally, use the brick wall of the building to lean against to keep herself from hitting the floor. Her body had that all-too-familiar feeling of bearing the dead weight of thousands of pounds, all while her mind floated somewhere above her, dissociated, uninterested, not-involved. She felt the flatness in her face, the blankness come to her eyes. She reached into her pocket to feel for the other quarter.

She wasn’t exactly sure what had gone on, what had been said, but the one thing she was sure of is that she had failed her quest. There was going to be no meeting with her son. Her baby son. Her precious baby son. The sobs that had subsided returned with full force, her awareness snapping partially back into her body. The pain came flooding through her system and her mind began to immediately plan things without her. “Call Devin,” it said. “No, he’s too far away. How about Josh? Do you know the number to his dorm? Will they go get him? You’ve only got the one quarter. You’d better not try it. Call Ray. Tell him you need to come over. He’ll say yes. Go right NOW! You’ll have to have sex with him, and it was awkward last time, but this time, we’ll make it better and it will all be okay. He’s safe. Put the quarter in the slot! NOW!”

She might be noticing the people speaking in her head, but outside people were beginning to notice her. How could they not? She’d made a spectacle of herself after all. Carrying on as if she were dying! (Why did she do that?) She had to get herself under control. Oh, no! They were going to speak if she didn’t hurry. Yanking her hand out of her pocket, she stood in disbelief as she felt the precious quarter fall, as if butter-coated, through her fingers, and then…nothing. No sound of it hitting the floor. No sign of it bouncing. It was GONE. Just like that. Vanished into thin air.

—And the people were here! Talking to her, asking her questions. At least it was welcomed now…because now, she needed help. “Honey, are you okay?”

“What in the world has happened?”

“Can we do anything for you, Sweetheart?”

“I’m okay,” she lied, feeling bad because everyone was trying their very best to be nice. “Just problems with my ex. You know. We’re getting a divorce.”

The friendly faces nodded all around. They did, indeed, “know”.

“You can help me if you can help me find my quarter, though. It’s my last one and I dropped it. It has to be here somewhere.”

“Yeah, sure! No problem,” a helpful voice offered. “I mean, it can’t just ‘disappear’, right?”

Things got busy for a moment while people diligently looked…and looked…and looked. In spite of dirty knees and kinked backs from odd positions looking under things, no coin appeared. Neither could anyone else produce a quarter, in spite of pockets being turned out. There was no change machine for bills, pennies were useless, and a dime would no longer do it.

It would be weeks later, while doing laundry, that she would find that pesky coin folded into the cuff of her pant. It was a place she could not have dropped it into if she had tried a million times! It’s not a place she would have dreamed of looking. This event would always make her think of fate, and timing, and destiny.

Things in her mind were getting louder. “You have to go now! We have to cry! You have to get us away from these people!” The feelings and the voices were most insistent–and, they were right. She knew it. She had to get to safety, to a place where she could let lose her emotions. That is not the same as to say that she needed to feel them. Sure, she’d feel some, but mostly, she’d be the sea upon which the storms raged, her floating above and through them, not actually “of” them.

Thanking her new-found friends for their help, she stepped through to the snack room and, because she was in social mode, her head was now up. She was actually seeing the people before her eyes. One of the searchers had stepped through here to inquire after coins, but she had not seen the occupants in the room, not really seen them, until this moment.

There he was. With the friend that he loved to touch so much. The one who made him laugh so much. It was the Red-Haired Boy. For a second, their eyes touched. He saw her. She knew it.

“Oh, my god!” a voice screamed inside her head. “I look like shit! I have on not one speck of makeup and my eyes must be so swollen and red, plus…what am I wearing? What the heck am I wearing?” She realized, with a start, that she didn’t even know. She sent a weak smile his way, then looked down again immediately, embarrassed and very eager to make it to the door as soon as possible. He was between her and the door, though. She would have to walk near, and past the table where he sat with his friend. She could smell him again. His musky essence radiated through the place.

He was still looking at her. She could tell. Walking by, she noticed a flurry of motion. His chair made a scraping noise as he pushed himself back from the table and, wonder of wonders, he stepped toward her…then past her…and opened the door.

There he was, standing in the doorway, waiting, and not getting out of the way, as if purposely making the space close. They were “close”, very close, as she reached him and looked up to say a simple, “Thanks.” Nothing came out. Not a word. There was no chance to screech out the sentiment stuck in her throat. With a half-step forward, he pressed his body slightly against hers and bent down (he was quite taller than he’d even seemed), planting a warm, sexy and lingering kiss, directly on her trembling,long-awaiting lips.

Releasing her lips from his, hers left limp and unresponsive from the double-shock they’d just received, he stepped back, jammed against the doorway, holding it wide for her with his lanky arm. Her looking up, his eyes danced their way directly into her as he stood so close that she smelt his actual breath. His eyes had a slightly Asian flair that she’d never noticed, and they were smiling. The rest of his face followed suit, his lips still wet from the kiss. Frozen in place, it seemed that an eternity had passed them by, all in the blink of two seconds.

She realized that she didn’t even know his name.

Dedicated to: Red Haired Boy…wherever he may be.

Warm and Wonderful thanks to my friend, Jim Dollar, for the most perfect photograph, as always.


Posted in My Life Today, My Loves and Lovers.

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