Poetry Friday ~ Within Walls

There’s no such thing
as home;
haunted shambles,
words spat in circles,
pictures on fire,
and the years simply
pass by.

Settled within walls
like ghosts
passing through an old house
but it’s not the same;
walls fallen down,
spider webs as old as time,
dust collected, elegant
upon broken glass.

A gypsy heart
belongs nowhere.
There was a time when
She’d do anything
for people who keep
stabbing old wounds
just to leave as if
scars were never there.
She is only a ghost to them,
settled within walls

Within haunted shambles,
words spat in circles,
pictures on fire,
dust collected, elegant,
and all she can see
are the years passing by.

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Photo by Lavinia Thompson

Monday Musings ~ When the Cycle Circles Down

I remember cheap hotels and dark empty highways. Somewhere in the crevices of a little girl’s memories are terrifying nights and shattered glasses and brokenness. There is screaming and uncertainty and never knowing what she was coming home from school to. Stench of whiskey or beer, depending on how enraged he wanted to be that night. Headlights in the drive that induced a breathless fear like no other I have ever known since. Bruises on my mother’s skin. She was a stone wall built to last through storm after treacherous storm.

Those flashbacks don’t cross my mind too often anymore. But eleven years later, I know a trigger when I feel it coming on. Shaking hands. An anger so unbearable I want to break the first thing I see. Sudden crying. Rage. Pacing the floor like I am waiting on those damn headlights. Buildup of anxiety in spite of not being an anxious person.

I am watching my brother repeat the cycle, spinning circles endlessly and not even realizing the damage he is doing. After years of drugs and alcohol, he is spiralling and there is nothing anyone can do about it. He got into a fight with his girlfriend on our mother’s front lawn yesterday and later called our mom a dumb bitch when she confronted him on his escalating behaviour. After years of her doing everything for him, he is 32, jobless, lives between Mom and his girlfriend, and for some reason thinks the world owes him something, and often treats our mom like she too owes him everything.

If anyone remembers my rant about Mike Huckabee’s comments degrading single mothers a few years ago, you will know that I am incredibly protective of my mother. And if I got angry over some comments from an irrelevant old man, imagine my rage when I learned about my sibling’s behaviour. It was both infuriating and triggering. Conversations from over the years come to mind, in which I said multiple times that he has only been getting worse instead of better.

Domestic violence is called a cycle for a reason. It circles the stormy skies like vultures awaiting the kill. Even when it’s over, it reaches down into the next generation and poisons the children it impacted. Some choose to be better in spite of the toxic injection into their lives and some don’t. There comes a point where you have to stand up and ask for help and be better, do better. I had my moment almost six years ago in the midst of a suicidal episode while coming to grips with the sexual abuse I’d experienced as a kid. My brother was impacted in different yet equally as damaging ways and has been at this cross roads for a few years now. No matter what anyone does for him, he would rather pretend he doesn’t need help than admit he has been wrong. He goes through jobs faster than he goes through girls, though he has girls much more often than he does a job.

It took a few minutes after hearing about yesterday’s events to process what I felt. Slight irritation turned to familiar anger rather quickly. It has been a long time since I let a trigger get the best of me, but I did. Hands shaking. That destructive feeling I let take over. I grabbed the first glass within reach and threw it angrily at the kitchen floor. Sometimes the sound of shattering is satisfying, as much as I hate it. Then the crying started. Pacing the floor. Anxiety. Being so irate that the abuser could still reach into my life like this and still make me feel so helpless. And sad at the tragic mess my brother has become. Disappointment that the cycle isn’t over yet. Sometimes I sit back and wonder if it ever will be. Abuse and addiction has been tangled into my family for generations. It’s like it has become hereditary in the men.

But with a deep breath, I take a reminder that nothing lasts forever. At least that’s what I tell myself. It hurts to watch him spiral. He doesn’t see it like everyone else does. Until he does, there is no helping him. If he continues on this road, my brother will end up like my alcoholic uncle: alone, drunk all the time, and no one around because he damaged his entire family and pushed them all away.

In spite of standing up for him in the past and trying to be supportive and caring, I have had to do something I don’t like doing. I had to cut ties. We rarely talk as it is because he is toxic to be around. This is the same kid I used to play hockey on the creek with, spending hours out in the dirt piles playing, and the one who used to stand up to mom’s ex when things got bad. I don’t recognize him anymore. This is not who he is but this is what he has chosen.

And I choose to not have that in my life. Never again.

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Caturday! Baby Albus

Welcome once again to Caturday. My apologies for the lack of Monday Musings and Poetry Friday this week. I am terrible at keeping this blog updated. For now, here is Baby Albus who is looking less baby-like every week. He was curled up on my house coat on my favourite chair when I came home on my lunch break yesterday. <3 

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Caturday!

Here it is: the weekly cuteness overload. This week is what I have called the Stretchy Kitty Feature! Both Belle and Albus had rough kitty weeks and required some massive stretching. 

Belle (below) stretching while in the midst of a heavy nap.

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And Albus, always growing, stretching out on the kitchen floor.

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Have a great weekend!

Poetry Friday ~ Sobriety’s Every Breach

Domestic violence has been the discussion on the blog here this week, so I figured we’d tackle Poetry Friday with a poem out of my poetry book, “Melted Candles”. 

Sobriety’s Every Breach

“Never again will I touch the stuff,” he said.
Three days later, it was sobriety’s first breach …
His fist pounding her face, hands clasping her neck …
I still hear her screaming.
Blood forever runs red.
His lips drenched in whiskey,
his knuckles crushing bones.

Eyes turn away.
They don’t see the pain in her eyes
as she walks down the street.
Only silent bruises, rumours are flying …
Won’t somebody stop the pain?
Sobriety’s next breach: bellowing at me
through a locked door as Mother’s blood
would pour slowly like a melted face
reflected in that stupid broken bottle.
Eyes spinning different directions;
anywhere but at the home
where she is beaten every night.

Blood forever runs red.
Crumpled against the wall, my brother stood,
jagged half-bottle in hand, tears of rage on his face.
How dare you touch my mother?
How dare you come into this house?
He was still trembling, knife scraping the sink.
This world has come undone again.

Eyes unruly; no other direction to look
but the hotel bar. Whiskey runs from his hands
to the sweet skin on her bones.
Stains; remnants of violence the next morning,
the cop shaking his head, said:
“I’ve never seen anything this bad before.”
Headlining the front page
was truth no one could deny.
He left bruises over
her pretty hazel eyes.

Sobriety’s hundredth breach.
Talk is cheap;
you are but the monster under her bed.
Set ablaze that old house, sit laughing on the street,
watching it burn.
What goes around comes around.

Mother wiped the war paint
from her face one last time.
Staring at the burgundy sun,
“Never again will he touch me,” she said.
I remember her smiling for the first time.
She was always stronger than his hands …
Eyes turn in a new direction,
away from sobriety’s every breach.
Full moon stands elegant in the sky.
Blood will forever run red but love
is thicker than blood.

“Melted Candles” is available on Smashwords and Amazon

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Monday Musings ~ The CFL’s new rules tackling domestic violence

CBC News came out with a pretty spectacular update out of the CFL on Friday:

“The Canadian Football League is taking a lead role in tackling violence against women with new rules that ban players for life if they’re caught in domestic violence.”

It not only applies to players, but to everyone employed by the CFL. It involves bringing in domestic violence training throughout the league, stemming from the Ray Rice case in the NFL last year. Video evidence showed him smashing his wife’s head against the elevator wall. He did so with such force he knocked her unconscious.

“It’s clear that the CFL condemns violence against women in all of its forms — domestic violence, sexual assault, verbal abuse and the disrespectful and damaging attitudes that can form the foundation of violence itself,” CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said on a conference call. “We all need to do our part to combat it.” (TSN)

The BC Lions took the initiative with their “Be More Than a Bystander” program in which the players will use their public profiles to raise awareness about the issue.

This is significant for a few reasons. These new rules are a big step in the right direction and I would personally like to see other leagues follow suit. These athletes are people who our kids look up to and seeing them in the news with stories like Rice’s is a terrible influence, especially if the leagues don’t acknowledge these cases. Punishments for breaking these rules will include lifetime bans and suspensions. The CFL is really coming down hard on this issue and it should be appreciated.

I am not a football girl. I don’t follow the CFL or the NFL. I am a hockey girl, however, and I really think the NHL should take an unprecedented page out of this book and do the same, because it is not just football players or even athletes in general this effects. It is everyone. Most domestic violence cases don’t even make the news. We never hear about most cases, even when a victim dies at the hands of their abuser.

In October 2014, LA Kings Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely on domestic violence charges. The NHL made an example out of him by suspending him before news even broke of his arrest. The defenseman was sentenced on July 29, 2015 to 90 days in prison and three years probation.

The most current case shaking up the NHL is the rape accusation against Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane. He has yet to be charged with anything. It is only being investigated at this point.

At this rate, I think such a program as what the CFL is implementing would benefit the NHL. While these cases aren’t common, they are common enough and completely preventable. Once is too often. But education does wonders. And it will set an important example to kids who want to be athletes and young fans. It will send a message not only to players but to the people who avidly follow and cheer for them:

Whoever the hell you are, abuse is never right and it is never, ever acceptable behaviour. And there are consequences.

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