Poetry Friday ~ Black of Night

Motel nights,
contemplative,
curled up in a strange bed,
Mother drinking weak coffee
while standing strong
after running again.
Young and restless,
wondering why
after all the bruises and pain
it felt like running in place
on an endless road
and the rain fell down.

The years went by
and we kept moving
as storms still followed.
Broken dishes,
echoing screams,
one more step through a door
only for him to slam it
in her face
like she had no choice
but to live with his fists
and the whiskey on his breath.
Small town roads
can be cruel when you’re
the child of a broken home
and you don’t know where to go.

Neon lights,
alluring
to a wild spirit
when one can finally break free.
Can’t count how many times
I saw the bottom of a bottle,
stumbling home in the dark
to the outside light
Mother always left on
when her kids were
too far from home,
when we wandered,
when we drank and smoked,
and we screamed about
all the things we couldn’t change
long after he was gone.

Years have gone by
and we keep on moving
even when the ghost
lurks in shadows beyond sight,
phantom of a man who
destroyed everything
like shattering bottles on the floor
when I just couldn’t live with it
anymore, when bar lights became
a numbing haze of colours
indistinguishable from nightmares,
coloured glass scattered,
kaleidoscope shards
like shot glasses lined up
to kill the pain.

Motel nights,
contemplative,
to fulfill a gypsy soul
left me empty,
scribbled pages,
empty bottles and no more
cigarettes to ease the seizing pain,
so drunk you can’t breathe,
so lost you can’t think,
so desolate you wish
curling up in the strange bed
would comfort you the way
it used to.

But after all these years
you keep moving instead
when weak coffee reminds you
of Mother and the way
she stood even when the world
just started snowing around her
and there was no stop sign
for the road leading to destruction
and the crash exploded into
a million little pieces,
black of night afire
and still she kept moving.
I guess it’s time
for this gypsy soul
to do the same.

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A late Monday Musings

There isn’t much in the oceans of click bait articles and videos on social media that hits me right in the feels. I usually ignore most of the silly things that end up in my newsfeed. However, Thursday night, a dear friend who has been enduring struggles of her own posted this video. A rapper who made a suicidal video to the Adele song “Hello”.

And hitting the feels is a severe understatement for this one. This rapper gave a song that is well over-played a new meaning. He turned another break-up song into something much more heart-wrenching. How deeply lyrics can strike with someone and the various interpretations that can be made from a song.

I had to go back and listen to the original song of Adele’s and it became a whole new listening experience. I heard it differently. The rapper’s version brought me back to a dark place of my own from years ago. January 2010 was the last time I was suicidal. Weird to think that it has been six years now, and how much has changed. The song brought me back to moment of sitting in an empty hallway at the college I was attending, feeling desolate and desperate and a million spinning versions of pain all at once. I was reeling with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and the years of being silent that were finally catching up with me. Memories that came flooding through after so long of having them blocked out. Triggered by covering news stories of the notorious Graham James case and a local high-profile child porn case that was in court. I was passionate about getting those stories out but at the same time, it was damaging to someone who hadn’t been in counselling since junior high school. Even then, when I talked to my school counsellor then, I denied anything was happening. I was a terrified 12, 13-year old girl who didn’t know where to turn or who to trust. I couldn’t even trust myself and my own mind let alone seek help from someone else. I’d lived my life in silence and denial. Even after my abuser burned the house down and left town, I remained poised in the barricades I’d put up. Stubborn that I could deal with it alone. I was alright with being by myself with this complicated box of feelings I had stashed away in a pile of rotted skeletons.

But after almost ten years, I was sinking in the oblivion I’d let myself stay in. No steps forward and no light to be seen. When the various ways of how to kill myself started parading through my head for weeks on end, I knew logically that it was time to clamber out. To somehow take my life back from my abuser. He still had a firm hold on my life after all those years.

So I called my old school counsellor in one last attempt to reach out. He was still working at the school, though he was no longer the counsellor. Still, he kept me on the phone for half an hour and talked me through it. The tears. The hurt. Every old scar. I told him everything, from lying about the sexual abuse to the severe suicidal thoughts I was having then. How lost I was and that I truly didn’t know what to do and that’s why I called. I didn’t know who else to turn to or who else would understand.

It was a phone call that saved my life. He referred me to the college counsellors and I spent the better part of my two years of college in therapy. I don’t know what I would have done had I not made that call. If I would have walked into that office on my own. If I would have turned to anyone else for how lost and alone I felt.

The phrase “it gets better” comes to mind here. It really does get better. So please, if you are in this situation, make that phone call. Turn to someone. Anyone. It could make all the difference, even if it feels like a long shot in the dark. I made that phone call not even knowing whether the counsellor still worked at my old high school. I just knew he had been helpful during that time and I simply needed help again. A reach into what easily could have been an empty space but it became the light at the end of an incredibly winding tunnel.

Don’t give up. If you don’t have someone to immediately turn to, call a suicide hotline. Because you matter. You. Matter. You deserve the help to get through whatever is happening in your life. You deserve to smile again. To laugh again.

You deserve your own “it gets better” story.

The video can be found here:    

https://www.facebook.com/851840354930977/videos/903084209806591/

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Poetry Friday ~ Blue Motel

I look
in a mirror.
She stares back at me.
Look back to the door;
she is there after all these years.

She is the child in me
wondering where to go from here,
washing dishes and staring
out to skies that should be
blossoming in spring.
All I see is winter.
This May I turn 21
with a sigh of bitter discontent
it all looks the same after a while.

Duties of a mother
set to a ten year old.
She always made things proper.
Not a crumb on the plates.
Not a stain on the glasses.
Not a wrinkle in the beds
for fear of something out of place
was the reason he’d make her
scream at night.

Nostalgically she remembers
much more than I ever will.  
In a letter to me she says
there’s that blue motel where
Mother used to flee with us.
I’d be in the back seat with a bit of
grimace at the neon sign in the dark.  
Mother would be lucky to have time
to pack overnight bags before ushering
us out the door into the car;
running.

Sometimes it seems you’re  
so far in somewhere there is no
getting out.
There are days it seems
I should be 30; days it’s like
childhood never existed.
It was there…I know it was
but like the moon in vanquishing phase
above motel rooftops
it was gone…leaving me here tonight
washing dishes, looking out the window.
There’s a whisper in the winter storm
saying you can’t go back, don’t ever look back.

Not a crumb on the plates.
Not a stain on the glasses.
Not a wrinkle in the laundry.
Life’s like an hourglass of things
that can’t be left for tomorrow.
It’s a lot like yesterday.

I muse to random snowflakes clinging
to the kitchen window.
Where is my childhood?

From somewhere in the room
a little girl’s voice whispers:  
Behind you.  

“Blue Motel” can be found in my poetry book about domestic violence and child abuse, Melting Candles.

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Monday Musings ~Equality goes two ways

So I found an article last week that really, really, really pissed me off. It discussed a couple who experienced a role reversal in their marriage. The long-time stay-at-home-mom went back to work when her husband’s business closed and he wound up staying at home with their four kids.

I had a hard time dealing with this woman’s petulant, whiny attitude. She goes on and on about how smug she felt with her husband’s difficulty adjusting to home life with the kids as she would go to work every morning. How she’d constantly nag at him to get a job. That she was so happy being at home while her husband took care of her. How she wanted to be taken care of and missed it so much when she went to work. How she doesn’t find her husband attractive anymore because he isn’t in a suit and expensive aftershave every day.

On the flip side, he was talking about how his self-esteem and sense of masculinity just crashed. How he feels with his wife not being attracted to him. He is the one who is learning anything from this experience in how hard it is to stay home with kids.

But this woman irks me with her attitude. Entitled, spoiled, demanding and degrading. This is not how you treat your husband when he is going through a time when he feels bad enough. You are single-handedly destroying your marriage. Quit degrading him and being such a bitch and maybe, just maybe, he might get his confidence and self-esteem back. This woman has power issues. It is not about whether the “old ways” work better. It is about making it work and being a team, not one person being better or more hard working than the other, which she has always seemed to think she is. This is a man who has never gotten credit for what he does and continues to be degraded. I understand it is a tough position but hurting your partner is no way of coping.

And I’m sorry, not sorry, but if a suit and expensive after shave are the only reasons you were turned on by your husband, then you have issues. What is so un-sexy about a man who takes care of his kids? Who tries his best to make you and those kids happy in spite of the hard time he is going through?

What about if a man can’t work? I have been a housewife for about six months and love it. My husband let me walk out of my job to stay home and work on my books, which I appreciate immensely. He is hard-working and incredibly understanding. However, my hubby has been put on long term disability due to his bad knees and Marfan’s Syndrome worsening. Our doctor is sending him for knee surgery this year. He isn’t thrilled about it. He loved his job and as a team, we had a good system worked out. It’s an inconvenience, but in perspective, it is only temporary. I would rather have him be able to walk for a while longer and not be wheelchair bound before he is 35.

So I am back at work. I don’t understand what is so bad about this. Why there is such a stigma to househusbands. It depends on the couple but marriage is always, always teamwork and it is about what works for you as a team. It makes no less of a husband to stay home. No less of a man. Things happen and you deal with them as they come along. Together. With respect, compassion and empathy. He has issues even getting out of bed some mornings. It is hard to watch and I can’t imagine what it is like for him. The best I can do I is make sure he doesn’t have to do too much to strain his knees and take care of him as I can. It is a blow to any man’s confidence to have your doctor tell you that you physically cannot work anymore. If someone told me I couldn’t write anymore, I’d be devastated.

But it doesn’t mean I love him any less. I don’t see him as any less of man. In fact, it is quite the opposite. He has spent months getting up early and going to work in spite of needing a cane to walk most days. In spite of me telling him repeatedly that if he needed me to go back to work and he needs to stay home, just say the word. He didn’t admit defeat until our doctor admitted the defeat for him and handed him a doctor’s note. That is far from weakness. I admire him even more for pushing through like he has. As much as I enjoyed staying at home, it is my turn to step up as a wife and equal party in this marriage and ensure our bills get paid and we have food on the table. It is as much my responsibility as it is his. It is teamwork.

You take that on when you take those vows. It is not an excuse to become a petulant, bitchy, spoiled brat and degrade your husband the moment he hits a rough spot in his life. Men are not perfect. Men have feelings too. Men can be brought down by bitter words and toxic attitudes, especially when it comes from a woman who is supposed to love him. Respect and understanding go a long way. It is not the role reversal that is killing their marriage. It is her self-entitlement and the way she cuts her husband down simply because he did something every human being does once or twice in a lifetime: he failed. There is nothing worse when your dreams crash in around you than having a wife there who reminds you in such hostility of it every day

There is nothing wrong with househusbands. John Lennon did it while Yoko went off and worked. He stayed at home with their son, Sean, and apparently quite enjoyed it. Just because society shoves the conventional in our faces all the time, doesn’t mean the unconventional is wrong or any less masculine. If you can’t treat your marriage like a team and be an active, understanding member of your team even when things get tough or change, then you shouldn’t be married.

Full article can be found here: 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3419901/You-never-fancy-man-house-husband-breadwinnner-raised-children-Ursula-husband-swapped-roles-devastating-verdict.html?ito=social-facebook

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Poetry Friday ~Watercolour Flowers of a Sombrous Earth

Where are watercolour flowers dripping purple wine? 
Paintbrushes of satiny petals
across a sombrous earth.
Lovely gypsy grace; runaway in strange shades.
Rain down on me astounding colours through my hair.

trickling down the sidewalk to the gutters.

Just to see the eyes of the painter,
the face of genuine propriety, 
symphonies of gentle movements
across the soft-lit room. It’s in shades
melting through hands; to be more
than anything you’ve ever known,
textures of vibrancy soaking flower stems.

while dreamers count each petal that lands in their hair.

This is more than a place. It is wherever you are.
We are like portraits whispering secrets upon
the canvas which we are painted on,
smudging blooms of pinks, blues;
every other hue at soul tips. We are poets.
Our words enliven moon-dusted flowers,
tinge the strangers of crimson.

for skies to drip silvery lyrics, elegantly poetic.

So soak me up like rain.
We are artists of eloquent destinies, 
children of watercoloured flowers,
runaways of paint-dripping stars. Thriving glances

of the patchwork gypsy, petal-sewn silk in your hands
raining through my hair, astounded to be
every shade of everything I could ever dream.

Somewhere in surrealism is simplicity of a sombrous earth.

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A rant ~ Graham James gets day parole…

Irate. So unbelievably irate is how I feel about the latest progression in the Graham James saga.

As if a two-year sentence wasn’t a mere slap on the wrist for destroying the lives of so many kids, this child molester has now been granted day parole.

Day. Parole. Because that doesn’t scream we are simply giving this sex offender a wide open chance to re-offend, does it?

“I don’t think I can change attraction, but what I can change is my behaviour,” is what he told the parole board.

Child molesting is not attraction. It is not a sexuality and it is not a lifestyle choice. He is not gay. He is CHOOSING to molest and rape these kids with no regard to consequences of any kind or regard to their feelings and how this ruins their lives. This is not about attractions. This is about a man who continually and without consideration, continues and will continue to re-offend when given opportunities to so. And the parole board has once again given him the opportunity.

Let’s not forget, this is the same National Parole Board who gave this monster a pardon back in 2007, a little detail no one found out until the Canadian Press announced it in 2010. They keep giving this high-profile child molester free tickets to go back into society and re-offend. Don’t start with me about his “rights”. He lost his rights the day he laid hands on someone’s innocent kid. Children are innocent. They don’t ask to be molested or raped or abused and Graham James continually took advantage of his coaching position and that he had this access to children. He served three years in prison and then was given a pardon so he could disappear to Mexico and we have no idea how many kids he victimized down there. Or how many he has victimized here in Canada since.

By continually giving James pardons and day parole, the National Parole Board is re-victimizing not only those who survived his abuse, but every single sex abuse and rape survivor in this country. This tells sexual abuse survivors like myself that we don’t matter to society. That the justice system is content with letting men like him prowl the streets, a predator. That these crimes simply don’t matter to them. That two and three year sentences are perfectly acceptable for these men while marijuana users, who do nothing more than abuse food in the fridge, get longer prison sentences than people like Graham James. Where is the justice?

My heart broke into a million little pieces yesterday when I saw this news. My best friend sent me the CBC link as she knows I have followed this case closely over the years. My heart broke for every survivor and every one still enduring abuse at the hands of monsters like James. The ones who both speak up bravely and stand up, and the ones who suffer in silence. Scared to come forward and days like this it is hard to blame them for that. You cannot tell us to come forward and then humiliate us and treat our horrific ordeal with this joke Canada calls justice. Because humiliating is an understatement.

I never charged my abuser. Sometimes I think I should have but I look at days like this, when I am shaking in absolute rage as I type, when the very headline of a CBC article made me throw my phone down and storm out of the dining room, leaving my husband and our roommate to sit there awkwardly. I pull at my hair and I delve into a rant about James and this continuous embarrassment of our system. How can you expect us to come forward and speak out when we know damn well this is the end result? We know because this, with a high-profile case, is the precedent you have set. The justice system had a prime chance to make an example out of Graham James and prove to sexual abuse survivors and victims in Canada that they care about us and show us that they can put the hammer down to punish these pedophiles. But what do they do?

A few years here and there in prison as victims get brave enough to come forward.

A pardon.

Day parole.

This. This is how the justice system treats a high-profile case. This how they send a message to victims and survivors. This is how they let people like me feel, time and time again as Graham James continues to walk away from his awful crimes. Every. Damn. Time.

Angry doesn’t even begin to cover this. It doesn’t touch on how deeply this hurts everyone who knows what surviving abuse is like. What a slap in the face it is to us. A blatant disrespect of what we have gone through and what we continue to go through.

Because Graham James can walk out of that parole board hearing into his new freedom. He still doesn’t care about the children he hurt and he never ever will. Abusers don’t give a damn about their victims. They will just keep looking for more. He can walk away like nothing ever happened and continue to take advantage of a justice system that gives him that get out of jail free card.

But survivors live with it forever. We don’t get to walk away from what we have been through and just forget about it. It has been well over a decade since my abuser has been gone and I still live with it. I still get absolutely irate at cases like this. The triggers are still prevalent.

I cried last night. For survivors. Those who are still victims. How we keep getting forgotten and pushed aside by this justice system. How the fight to get heard and to get these monsters put away remains a struggle. That there will never be words enough to express how it feels to watch a man who destroyed so many lives embrace a freedom he doesn’t deserve. Wondering how many others suffer in agonizing silence.

Theo Fluery said it best yesterday in a Facebook post: “As I am reading all the comments and articles from the media about today’s decision by the parole board to allow repeated rapist Graham James day parole I am reminded of the phrase you can’t fix stupid.”

And that is just what this continues to be. Stupid. Something we apparently cannot fix in this country when it comes to punishing sex offenders.

The full CBC article can be found here

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Caturday!!

Welcome back to Caturday, where I share the best of some cat pictures I have taken throughout the week and posted over on Instagram under Sir Harold’s account (@sir_harold). You also follow me on Instagram: @brokenflashbackgypsy

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Mama brings home the best boxes from Costco! This one has been hanging around in the kitchen for few weeks. It’s our fort. 

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That moment when my best friend says Sir Harold needs to get fabulous for a Bring Your Own Cat party and Harold is over like… (anything but fabulous at this moment).

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Sleepy Baby Sassy

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5 a.m. I was working on rewrites for Edge of Glory 2 and Harold was sleeping nearby on my notebook.