On Fan Fiction

The most embarrassing part of my life, in some ways, is how I coped with things. By writing.

 

But I now know that was my OCD running wild in response to trauma, so I can forgive myself. Better to write or type until you can’t feel your hands, and your knuckles ache, and Mick is yelling at you to get off the computer already. Better to do that, than slit your wrists or try to take too much Tylenol. I don’t remember when I stopped, or started, cutting my chest with razor blades. Thankfully they were small cuts and not deep.

 

I didn’t want my breasts to grow, on some instinctive level, because I didn’t want to be a woman. Women got raped. I wanted to be “butch.”

 

But it’s much harder to forgive the adults around me for never noticing anything. About any child, ever, most of the time…including me. And pretty much all of my friends. They didn’t see the dance of social isolation, bullying, mental illness, abuse and pedophiles…all lurking beneath the surface of what appeared to be middle-class America. After all, these were private school kids mostly. Though Baldwin was better, and Waldorf was best.

 

And Unity was called Unity Church. So it didn’t seem abnormal on the surface of things. But there was more weirdness around than I was old enough to realize at the time.

 

You just expect more out of an adult, you know?

 

 

Waldorf, Grade 5

 

A few of those Waldorf students were stuck-up rich kids, but they were hardly the problem. The problem, with an adult’s hindsight, is that Waldorf just didn’t have a bus monitor to keep the bullies off the weird kids like me. That bully dogged my every step some days, but the bus was the worst part…and I was just never able to communicate the distinction to Glenda between “hating the bus” and “hating the school.” I really just hated the bully. I don’t even remember the girl’s name now, just that she was physically large, in my class, and had a terrible glare. Her name began with an “A.”

 

The bully threatened to kill me a couple of times, and I was so young and brain-damaged and literal all the time that I thought she might actually do it. So I started throwing up in the shower.

 

This was the first time I’d ever rode a bus, so it never occurred to me that bus monitors even existed. I didn’t find that out until about 2013, when I saw a news story that involved a bunch of bullies who directed all of their taunts and attention towards the old woman who was in charge of monitoring the bus. They said some pretty horrible things, but I remember thinking, Hey, at least an adult was there!

 

And then I started shaking, and I didn’t know why. It was because a bus monitor would have allowed me to stay at Waldorf.

 

At the time, I tried to overcome my stutter by drawing a picture of the bully dead, and showing it to Glenda…it was just a ghost, nothing graphic or anything. A ghost, and a headstone with the words, “Rest in peace, for all our sakes!”

 

I had a weird sense of humor, even at twelve.

 

Glenda got confused by the drawing and said, “Why are you showing me this? Why do you hate people so much?”

 

I got embarrassed, and scared, and destroyed the drawing and never mentioned it again.

 

She had already built up a narrative in her head, and I just lay prone before it. Which I still regret.

 

 

From Waldorf, to Catholic Schools

The stories I wrote after that rape when I was 14, at St. Anthony…they were full of whipping, forced sex, heroic sacrifice, slavery, magic, and Star Wars imagery. Because I was just that far gone. I’m too embarrassed to dredge up the names of the characters or the stories, except for Shmi. I called her by a different name, but I pictured her the same way, and in more vivid detail than I care to elaborate on. Citrine, the stone, was involved somehow…in Unity, things like that had magic properties.

 

I hung onto that story for a long time. I shared my stories with friends, and with Glenda. Because that was just my way of communicating with the world at this point.

 

Everyone thought of my stories as weird, understandably, but just the product of an odd yet creative child.

 

I do know that I had Elena, a Mary Sue character. And she became a concubine or something, so that Shmi could be saved. Planets were destroyed through sheer human carelessness.

 

And there were alien rapists with a penchant for human women…oh, man, even now, it’s embarrassing to admit that I wrote such drivel, and I don’t know why it’s embarrassing. But from what I’ve been told, that’s pretty typical of people in my situation.

 

I was constantly enacting my own rape, in fiction…just to get it to go away. As I have done throughout my life…up until recently. Now I’m talking about myself.

 

In sixth grade, I was in Christ the King school. We wore green uniforms there–that is, the shorts were green, and the shirts white. I thought we looked like leprechauns. But hey, at least we were leprechauns together! And the kids seemed pretty friendly.

 

There was Charles! Charles was fat, so everyone called him Charles Colossal or Charles Cholesterol.

 

But I was so messed up in the head I gave him another nickname, the poor guy. I decided to call him “rabbit molester.”

 

Somewhere between the old hippie doing his thing and me writing “After Midnight,” Julia gave me a large-sized Lola Bunny stuffed animal! Because although no one was aware of my OCD, it was pretty clear that I loved Space Jam.

 

And that she was my favorite character. Glenda only allowed me smaller, cheaper Space Jam items, in a vain attempt to control my OCD. Or maybe it was cheapness; who knows at this point.

 

No one knew that Lola was my “imaginary friend,” the one I summoned up in my mind at night to protect me from the old hippie who had recently cornered me in a garden and licked my face. The old hippie…who my fractured brain called “Him” or “lizard-man.”

 

It was a very sweet gift, from a girl who was doing her best to make friends. The other kids were looking at it, and Charles took its shirt off and exposed the little stuffed-toy breasts!

 

Poor guy was just playing around, but I was so sensitive about that stuffed animal that I grabbed it out of his hands and ran from the classroom!

 

I hung on to that doll for years, like a port in a storm. Didn’t take it with me when I left Jonathon though.

 

At the time, I slept with that stuffed animal. I held it close and stayed up nights, as though Lola could protect me from the old hippie, somehow. I was twelve or thirteen.

 

We had mass in Christ the King, but I would get so bored I’d zone out for long periods, daydreaming and staring at all the stained glass. Still, it was peaceful enough, compared to later.

 

I tried to sneak in a Garfield book once; just to give my OCD brain something to do other than chase itself in a circle. It fell apart in my pocket because I tried to cram the whole thing in there! It was really old. And those pockets were quite large…but I overestimated how large.

 

The book fell apart, and I was such a shy kid I got embarrassed and tried to hide the paper remains in between a bunch of hymn books on the back of the pew in front of us. Amy, my best friend, handed me a big chunk of crumbling Garfield on the way out the door after Mass and called me an idiot. Well, we still got along.

 

The teacher, who we called “Mr. U,” because it was short for something like “Uetake.” It took me years to learn the variety of local dialects and inflections found on Maui, and then a couple years to unlearn them when we moved back to Oregon. My damaged brain learns deep, but slow.

 

He was an oddly under-qualified fellow–he played the guitar well, but could not spell or type! He taught everything except for “language arts,” which he outsourced to a younger teacher who taught the previous grade. Yes, grade five! She was blonde, Mrs. Lauden I think. Louden?

 

I would actually proofread Mr. U’s handouts sometimes! Because that’s how bad his punctuation was. Sure, my proofreading was an OCD symptom, but he was actually relying on a kid to spell stuff for him. A twelve to thirteen year old. I still beat myself up over letting Glenda think I hated Waldorf, when I was really just confused about it.

 

Then, when he made mistakes in the handouts that went home, Glenda wondered why I was correcting those! She just perceived it as me being overly critical of people. And I believed her; and beat myself up for it.

 

I stopped correcting his already-completed handouts, but I kept correcting his handouts on the computer before he distributed them!

 

He also threw temper tantrums. That is, the level of noise in the classroom would build, and he would say something like, “Hey, guys, you’re getting loud…” So of course everyone would ignore him. Then it would build until he couldn’t stand it anymore, and he’d start yelling. Then everyone would be quiet for a while.

 

Mrs. Lauden taught fifth grade. She wondered why I was crying all the time, and asked me if it was “something at home.”

 

It was a really insightful question from a well-meaning woman. It just wasn’t the right one. I was just so fractured that I interpreted the question literally.

 

If she had just asked if it was “something at church…”

 

Train wreck averted. But, that didn’t happen.

Longest Post Yet!

In case this isn’t obvious from the context here, Glenda was my NMom. Estranged, Narcissistic mother. Nancy was her own mother, making her my estranged grandmother.

Glenda knows that she gave me a traumatic brain injury, without meaning to. By opting for a home birth and refusing a c-section, and giving birth to a very sick and yellow preemie. Well, that preemie was me. Now that I’m in therapy, I remember everything that has ever fucking happened in my life!

I know that I got the symptoms wrong before; or at least the names of the symptoms. But my doctor, me, and my therapist, we’ve all figured shit out. I have a traumatic brain injury, and I meet all the criteria for PTSD. I also have OCD, but the medical care is helping so very much.

At present, if she knows anything about me, it’s only that. She has nothing else. She is living with Nancy in Grants Pass, Oregon. I think they still attend the “Center for Spiritual Living” together. I have no idea what those people talk about because I only went a couple times for a choir recital and once for a drum circle.

I ran from the building both times…I mean ran. Once I didn’t know where I was going, but I tried to head North. Ended up going South.

And Glenda was clueless. Why would I leave a drum circle in a panic? I was so weird.

She has no idea that I’ve basically had my body used as a punching bag all my life…and Glenda will never admit to having any part in that.

She will never, ever admit to doing it herself. For being an immature god-child who never forgot that she wasn’t my big sister. A Narcissistic hippie creature with no empathy for others.

A woman who would let me shower in peace eventually, but insisted that if I wanted to have a conversation with her, it had to happen while she was in the bathtub!

A woman who gave me tests all the time. IQ tests and things like that. And then later lied to me about the scores.

It took me years to figure out how weird that was. I still treasure the idea of having my own bathtub and locking that door so fucking tight that the St. Anthony High School Trojan Army couldn’t break in! Well, they can’t. Not anymore.

Glenda called me her “playtoy” all the time, when she was in a good mood!

While she hugged and kissed me and touched my butt…always through clothes, always playfully, and erratically over the years. Way, way more so when I was young and we were living in a series of trailers in Oregon. But she still fucking did it.

We lived in a trailer in Ashland when I was five, and she threw me a really huge birthday party! I mean, the woman rented ponies for everyone! And I not only rode them, I followed them around while the other kids were riding them! And then fell down. I loved those ponies.

But the ponies…went around in a circle. In a vacant lot. Above a trailer park. And then, eventually, everyone went home.

Except me. And I had to go back to a mother who couldn’t keep her hands off my ass. In a double-wide trailer.

I only know this because I saw a video of it years later. I was chasing the ponies around in a circle, but tripped! I wanted another turn!

But then, Mick turned the camera to Glenda. And two children started playing in horse manure. And they both laughed it off. I don’t know much about what happened after that.

I think I saw a picture of Glenda hugging me way too close and kissing my cheek when I was fifteen or something. But I’ll never dig that fucking thing up.

And I let her do it. Because it made Glenda happy.

I finally know her well enough to know that she will find a way to blame me for all of it. For every single moment of neglect. Every ridiculous and inappropriate thing she did. For ever being afraid, especially of her. Because, after all, Glenda is so tough. Glenda loved and forgave and everything! She’s so strong. Glenda is so wonderful. Why, she even got molested by an uncle when she was eight…and now, she’s a social worker! Isn’t Glenda amazing? Doesn’t she have a lifeline to God or something?

She was a social worker, periodically. I don’t know what kind of job she has now, if any. I’m sure it won’t last.

And that’s okay. Let her pray about it…her incense and thoughts can’t get me here in Canada! Neither can Glenda’s God, though I don’t know where she stands on Jesus at this point! She’s just talking to herself, and will continue to do so until she and Nancy both die.

She doesn’t know that some old Baptist Sunday School teacher threw me in a closet and made me feel like I was going to die. In Elementary School. And threatened me with hellfire. At one point I hid in the bathtub crying.

She doesn’t know that when I was twelve, one of her hippie friends chased me down in some tropical garden at one of her hippie gatherings. He cornered me, and I was crying.

Then he started licking the tears from my face.

I was so fractured in my head that I had nightmares after that of being chased by a lizard-man! Because the man was so old, and I was so young, I thought of him as a freaking lizard.

My nightmares manifested themselves so vividly, I wrote about them. The story I wrote was called, “After Midnight.”

In my story, the Lizard Man died….the story didn’t make sense, of course, but when you’re twelve, what do you expect?

I showed Glenda that story. In fact, I showed it to every adult I knew. But they all saw it as nothing more than the product of an odd, yet creative child.

And they just handed them back. With a few minor corrections for grammar and plot. Fuck.

She doesn’t know that I got raped by my religion teacher when I was 14. And that he brought another teacher, his friend who taught the older kids.

And she never noticed the signs, because she was too busy being a hippie all the time. She never noticed the violent stories I wrote after that; stories full of horrible rape and heroic sacrifice.

She just said that I was morbid and obsessed with sex.

She doesn’t know that it was the rape at the hands of a teacher that made me never succeed in school again, get my GED, and finally stumble through college to get a “Landscape Technician Certificate.” Maybe I’ll go back to school; maybe not.

She doesn’t know how many jobs I’ve had. She doesn’t know that I’ve been so afraid of my family all my life; I started working as a call girl to feed myself and get a minimum of medical care; even if I had no insurance. Fucking American health care system.

She doesn’t know who I am. But I know, I’m not her.

Maybe she’ll read my book. Maybe not. Maybe she still only reads whatever is on Oprah’s Book Club list, and Oprah will also die before too long. She’s over sixty now.

Oprah had a bad life herself. I mean, horrible. There’s a reason Oprah made the movie “Beloved,” and starred in it! And that movie was an unmitigated train wreck. Which Glenda dragged me to go see in 1998.

Yes. She dragged a fourteen-year-old girl to a movie about slavery, whipping, rape, infanticide, and some kind of spirit baby with a fucking exorcism! I don’t remember the details now.

But my teacher raped me around that time. A religion teacher. And just imagine the confusion that would cause, in the head of a 14-year-old with a traumatic brain injury. On some level, I was always trying to exorcise the guy away!

But Glenda never saw that.

Oprah had her own issues. But that’s no excuse. She never had any business dispensing medical advice via television, nor “spiritual advice.” Because way, way too many of her viewers believed every word! And they couldn’t tell the difference between the two, either.

I don’t know how many of those viewer’s kids ended up in expensive graves that their New Age, hippie, Baby Boomer parents paid for. I’m sure the kids were missed, and loved, and their parents might have had a horrible time when they died.

But the kids were still dead; of one form of neglect or another. One lie or abuse or another killed them.

At least Oprah let me know that Maya Angelo existed; and I appreciate that. There are no words for how inspirational that woman was to me, when I was sobbing on my bed around age fourteen and couldn’t stop feeling as though Mr. Mendoza was actually fucking my ass all over again. Constantly. Every night.

Maya Angelo’s story is not mine to tell; she did a damn good job of doing that herself during the entire eighty years of her amazing life. But I read her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and I understood it on some level. Yes, I actually slept with that book at one point.

Maya Angelo was raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was eight years old. Her mother found out, and the matter went to trial. I can’t bring myself to look up how the trial ended, I think the man was found guilty, and one of little Maya’s relatives killed her.

Sounds good, right? One less pervert in the world?

Well, it was actually bad. Children blame themselves for everything. Maya had the courage to speak out, at the age of eight. Then, with a child’s perspective, the poor girl thought that her voice had killed someone.

So little Maya didn’t speak out loud for years. Two years or four years; I don’t remember how many. But she was a mute child.

And then a teacher gave her a book. And told her that she could read it out loud…she didn’t’ have to do it for anyone, she could just read it.

So little Maya went down to the basement of her mother’s home, and read out loud. She found her voice.

And so have I. My voice; not Glenda’s.

Perhaps she’ll find out eventually, and I don’t care.

Before I broke off contact with Nancy, she was still talking about auras and spirits and magic.

It doesn’t matter. They’ll both die eventually. Leaving more room in the world for better people.

That is literally all she knows about my life at this point. But I confessed that much, and her response was,

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

I laid the smallest bit of medical neglect at her sandaled, hairy, tanned, hippie feet, and that was her response. So, as you can imagine; she will never know anything else.

And she’ll die. And I’ll live.

Welcome to the world! :-D

Message for Dad

Sent this message to my Dad recently. Still can’t believe this is happening.

Part of me keeps wanting to apologize for the facebook thing, but the better part of me knows that you forgive me and I love you for it. I’ve apologized for everything way too much…but this time, it’s sincere! I promise. :-)

What happened was…I felt shattered, and in an attempt to reconstruct my life, I made too many wrong assumptions.
I don’t expect any member of your family to forgive me for that, and that’s okay. What amazes me is…I still have my Dad!
And I never thought that would happen. It almost makes me want to cry with joy some days. All those times at Unity, all those days writhing on the bed with migraines and flashbacks while Glenda was lecturing me to do chores…I just figured I had no Dad.
And I can’t believe that I do now. It’s awesome.
I will never pry into your relationships again, if that’s what you want. I need to see you as your own person for the first time. And that person…is a person I love.
Besides…this is my story, not yours. Bits of my life that never made sense before are now unfolding. I’m using writing to do it, and it’s helped, and so has Erica. I was so desperate to just talk to Erica that I made a tired mistake.
Anyway, I finally realize that you can tell your own story! I don’t have to do it! That’s Glenda talking. And that’s all she is to me now; Glenda. That’s like losing a million pound albatross in my book.
I told you that I wanted to talk about the Star Wars Prequels. Man, you have no idea how good this feels to talk about!
I can’t believe that you remembered Shmi…and that I used to mention her. She was a tiny, bit-part character whose name wasn’t even mentioned in Episode I, and she reappeared just long enough to die in Episode II!
But, I talked about her anyway. There’s a very long story behind that.
I have always dealt with my traumas, whatever they happened to be, through movies. Because my traumatic brain injury makes it so that, at times…it’s just that what’s happening on stage or screen seems more real than reality does. That’s why I always seemed so fantasy-prone to you, and other adults. Also why I LOVED that “Wolf Tales” thing! Bummer I lost the shirt eventually, because I kept it for years.
Also, I mentioned that huge church on Maui, the megachurch that had the Christmas play. Of course you and Glenda couldn’t understand why I was crying. You thought that it was just because the play was violent.
The truth was, I was about 11 or 12 or something, and my OCD made me love any kind of theater…I could focus! Same reason I loved video games so much, and still do.
Well, that megachurch Christmas play on Maui included a scene with flashing lights, while Herod’s minions were slaughtering all the firstborn babes or something like that.
The flashing lights made me think everything going on…on the stage…was real! Like, happening all around me.
In my head, I called it a “bad trip,” because I’d actually heard Glenda use that phrase before. But she used it in such an inconsistent context that I couldn’t tell if she was referring to a spirit visitation, a fever, a migraine, a nightmare, a dream, or actually being high on acid!
She really believed…that if you have an experience, and it feels good, it’s real. Even if it’s an auditory hallucination caused by sleep deprivation, and it’s her dead father reassuring her that everything will be okay.
Man, did she ever talk about that shit all the time! Her dreams, too, and her cat, and the secret magic signs she saw in things.
That stupid “DARE” campaign that was popular during the 80s and 90s actually confused me further. Lumping all drugs into one big pile…and I never realized that Glenda was a lot deeper in that pile than I had ever dreamed of. Boy, is that a long story.
And I had experienced fevers as a child that were very similar to what had just happened. I was trapped in the Hell that I was raised to believe in, during Glenda’s brief Baptist phase!
You know that Calvin and Hobbes comic, where Calvin says, “My upbringing is filled with inconsistent messages!”
I said that once to Glenda, and she basically told me to shut up. But that was what I was talking about.
I was using fantasy to communicate reality, as always. Erica is my best friend for helping me understand that I was doing that. I’ve recently stopped doing that, and finally started talking about myself. Oh, all those silly stories I wrote as a kid! They were a damaged brain’s attempt to survive, by writing.
I don’t know if you remember the dumbass stories I wrote about Elena, a character with magic powers! Star Wars imagery was involved…oh god, the evil rapist monster was named Lord Astarn!
I’m too embarrassed to dredge up the names of any other characters.But he was a monster, and he was after her.
That’s just how I was coping at the time.
If you ever have time to look up old Disney movies…look up “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” There is a character, the Disney Princess, Esmeralda. She was my favorite. If you look up Frollo, the bad guy, you can probably connect the dots.
Elena, and Esmeralda…were both me. There’s a name for it nowadays on the internet, and it’s called “Tragic Sue/Mary Sue Fan Fiction.”
It’s so common there’s a name for it.
What’s even worse…that name is bandied about as an insult among college and high school students! Like, “Damnit, Kara, you’re creating another Mary Sue again. Kill her off, okay?”
People get abused, and they have to release it into writing. That’s just how some people are, including me.
You only got glimpses of me, through my writing. And I still beat myself up for not drawing a freaking picture like a kindergartner would.
I have so many symptoms I’m continuously sorting them out. The best thing is, I have a doctor and a good therapist for the first time ever! And that feels so good. I never trusted doctors or therapists before, because of Glenda and Natalie…and Aylah, boy was she crazy!
But, Aylah was crazy in a very sad way. She was working through her own traumas, used me to do it, and I was so confused that I believed every word she said. Aylah had untreated split-personality disorder from her own abuse as a child…or maybe it was semi-treated? Anyway, all I know is, it wasn’t treated enough.
I think Karen knows part of this story, and you might. As I was leaving Jonathon, and the escorting shit, I felt my flashbacks re-emerging…I just didn’t know what they were called. I ran to Aylah to talk about them…and she hypnotized me.
Hypnosis is weird, and hard to define. But it was very, very common at Unity. It was just something I was used to by then.
Also, ever heard of “Courage to Heal”? Karen probably knows that people like that are a sham, a media sensation, a flash in the pan on Oprah.
But, when I was a child, Oprah was pretty much all I could watch! Glenda controlled my TV privileges to that extent. No teenage mutant ninja turtles were allowed; too violent.
But, she had to have me in the room with her while she was watching some pretty terrible shows. She had to keep her eyes on me. And then she would literally forget I was there, watching TV with her, for long periods. Some of that shit was worse than you can imagine, to someone that young.
And, I didn’t get a TV in my bedroom, or a computer of my own…until I started escorting. What a mess, eh? My symptoms are such that I pretty much need a computer as much as I need medication. Call me Stephen Hawking, whatever! Better than being trapped in a chair.
Anyway, Aylah was there while I had a flashback, but she kept feeding me details! The wrong ones. And I was so shell-shocked I believed her. That’s where the whole, stupid, “molested at age 4″ story came from. It was the dumbest one I’ve come up with yet…but it wasn’t really mine. It was Aylah’s.
Brent Shields, the shrink? Remember him? I ran to him with that story, and he blamed it on the cannabis I was using. But only cannabis and clonazepam keep my flashbacks under control. I have a wonderful doctor who understand this. We’re managing my symptoms together.
Dr. Shields also said I was Italian, and that I needed support from my husband…oh, man, Dr. Shields had his mind up made about me as soon as I entered the room. I gave him permission to talk to all family members and ask them anything…but he didn’t!
I’ll say one thing about Sheri-Lynn, she’s smart and goddamned thorough! She’s great.
Aylah was the woman who performed the handfasting for Johnathon and I…oh, I never want to look at pictures of that ceremony again.
But at the same time I was holding onto Johnathon, and smiling, because he was my only reality check at the time. And boy, did I pick a bad one!
But, his childhood was really bad too. And he’d done this before…it’s just the nature of being very sick.
I’ve been very sick for a long time. But I still love you, Dad. And I want your help to get better.
I know that Karen sent an e-mail, but I can’t bring myself to read it yet.
I just hope I haven’t lost another family member, because you, Dad, are a better one than I ever anticipated before.
Love,
Kara

Music

Thursday, July 2nd, 2014

George Carlin once said that the only good thing to ever come out of religion was the music. And as much as I hate Unity now, and almost all of the adults, I do appreciate one of them.

I was telling my Dad today that you pick up on things as a kid, like the guru clothes. I could pretty much tell, from how someone was dressed, whether or not they considered themselves omniscient!

Our minister did. The many “speakers” often did. Glenda and Nancy did. The old slobbery man did. Natalie absolutely did. Oh, Rosalind sure did! And she was a starving, spaced-out vegetarian scrawny thing who tried to be my music teacher.

Rosalind was a Vitalist, and believed in reincarnation of course…among a million other things that changed daily.
But, to his dubious credit, Greg Tamblyn clearly didn’t consider himself omniscient.

He was just a funny, clever musician who usually wore Hawaiian shirts and wrote songs for the hippie/self-help crowd. This was one of his songs: http://www.broadjam.com/artists/songs.php?artistID=19924&mediaID=505299

He has a website now. http://www.gregtamblyn.com/

Greg Tamblyn was brimming with self-help lingo; that’s why Unity loved him. But at the end of the day he was just a sweet man who played the guitar.

After getting raped by that teacher…it was like all I had was my OCD. And I used it to cope.

I used it to memorize every word of certain songs, but they weren’t all Disney songs. There was one by that Unity Musician. I’ve since found the lyrics and title online, though I never forgot them.

Dad remembered Greg Tamblyn once I brought him up. He’s been so helpful in healing my memory, because he can sometimes confirm when I’m right! He doesn’t remember everything, but he remembers more than I anticipated. He didn’t remember this specific song of course; he wasn’t a little shell-shocked girl with OCD. But he thought the song was a beautiful sentiment.

 

Stand Like Mountain, Move Like Water

At the foot of a mountain, in a bamboo cafe
Sat an old Asian lady with eyes full of grace
I felt myself drawn to her calm, quiet way
And as her story started to flow
I was carried away

She told of a night when soldiers appeared
And chained her in darkness for seven long years
There’s a wall in her country a thousand miles long
And they wrapped it around her
For thinking and speaking all wrong

Stand like mountain, move like water
Earth and heaven have this to offer
Strength will flow from life with honor
Stand like mountain, move like water

She knew in her heart she’d committed no crime
And a story to tell is what kept her alive
In a cell with no windows she nurtured the seed
That one day the light would shine in
And people would see

I thought how her life was so different from mine
And the insight that came has remained in my mind
Here is a woman who knows who she is
Through good times and bad she’s the same
The way that she lives

Stand like mountain, move like water
Earth and heaven have this to offer
Strength will flow from life with honor
Stand like mountain, move like water

At the foot of a mountain in a bamboo cafe
We bowed to each other and I made my way
And I carry with me like the seeds on the wind
Her spirit and her story to tell, and so it begins

Stand like mountain, move like water
Stand like mountain, move like water

 

I told myself two stories today, in a sense. The first one was when I spoke with Dad. I think today was the point when I really saw Dad’s perspective…though I may never understand everything completely.

He…just tended towards strong women. That’s how he put it. I think he would have married Hillary Clinton. She was someone Glenda admired, by the way. I saw pictures of Hillary Clinton around the house growing up, and Glenda had a few of her books.

That was why…oh, I remember the Lewinsky trial so vividly! How it unfolded in 1998. Because I was that confused about sex after I got raped.

I didn’t even know what sex was. I thought that intercourse itself, vaginal and anal, was a form of punishment…but people were willing to perform oral sex on each other? Somehow, I couldn’t grasp my head around that simple fact at 14.

And then later, when I tried to have relationships…that was the only kind of sex I could have, for a while. What a mess, eh?

Anyway, Glenda never understood why I always defended Bill Clinton. I could sympathize with him! I would have run away from Hillary as fast as I could.

Now I know that Hillary is probably not that bad…but, she was an icon of Glenda’s like Gloria Steinem. So older women tend to terrify me, still. Working on it.

Whatever Mick’s past, I won’t pry anymore. But I know how he behaved with Glenda.

Mick learned to be helpless in her presence…because that’s just what kids do. They learn to lay prone and wait for the storm to pass. I know that feeling in my core.

Glenda was a bitch. She didn’t care what Mick did for a living, so long as he was a man who was meek, obedient, smiled, nodded along, and never made a decision without her.

I have a vivid memory of second grade. No one really figured out that loud noises would cause me physical pain, or that being surrounded by other people in close proximity would stress me out so badly I’d have a panic attack. Because all they saw was that when things got too chaotic in class, and when people were too close to me, I would throw what looked like a temper tantrum.

It was my second grade teacher, Jill Joos, who provided a solution…without even knowing it. She sat with me, talked to me calmly, and tried to figure out what was going on. At some point she said something like, “You know, if it gets too loud at your desk, you can get up and go somewhere else.”

My face lit up. “Really? I can? Like, anywhere? Over to a corner or someplace? I can go where the cushions are?”

She smiled warmly; I still remember how Jill had dark hair and perfect teeth. She also wore knitted sweaters a lot. “Of course you can! Anywhere you want.”

I don’t think even Jill understood why I threw myself into her arms and hugged her. It was such a novel idea. Because up until that point, Glenda had controlled my movements to such an absurd degree–where I could go, what faces I could make, what I could look at, where I could stand, what books I could have, when I could eat and bathe and everything! Not to mention all the TV and everything else I was forbidden, that the other kids got…anything she considered violent. I had very limited media privileges for a very long time.

Jill was the first adult to openly give me permission to move about a room freely. So I hugged her so much I cried.

I told Dad, as best I could, that I knew what it was like when you’re that controlled. You learn to pick your battles. You learn when to be a mountain to survive, and when to just become water and let them rush over you until they’re finished.

When your every facial expression is cause for some kind of lecture or some chance to wear you down…you learn to be helpless.

I know what he was feeling. Because that was how I felt living with Glenda, and that was how I felt every day at St. Anthony. So, I forgave Dad.

The problem is, I keep coming back to that same situation and seeing it from a different angle. It’s myself I can’t forgive.

I was a fourteen-year-old girl who got raped in a Catholic school and no one took her seriously…but “no one” meant one guru-counselor and two parents who were different types of Narcissists, but both of them were. So she just decided she had to survive on her own.

And that was so stupid.

I could have walked to a hospital. I could have found a cop. But instead I just sat in class afterwards, every day, singing to myself. I just figured, Well, I might get a “rape punishment” again at any minute, so I’d better just persevere. Stand like mountain, move like water.

Then, later, I spoke to Erica. Spilled my guts to her. She said a lot of things, but the most important thing was that she said I wasn’t being stupid. I was being brave. “You did become that mountain. You made yourself unbreakable. You think you need to be more than you are, when you’re already more than some people could dream of being.”

I think I love her like a sister. And I never knew what it was like to have a sister before.

There was something I wanted to say to Dad…but I think he understands it, even without me putting it into words.  The words were on my lips…but I’m putting them here instead.

Dad, if you remain a river, that’s okay. I still love you. But now, I’m a mountain.

I have a name.

This will probably be my shortest blog post yet.

My memory is improving every day, thanks to the treatment. I mean that literally–every single day I remember more things, and write them down.

Well, I now remember names. And faces.

And I think that the (primary) religion teacher at St. Anthony Junior High who raped me is still alive. And still teaching there.

Well, I’m making phone calls.

I’ve been wrong about so many things, so many times in my life, that the last thing I want to do is ruin the life of a man who is not guilty. So I have no intention of singing his name from the rooftops! But I’m talking to someone at Survivor’s Network for those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. And some of their legal allies. I just want to get everything sorted out.

Because if he’s still there…well, so are other little girls. If there is even a ghost of a chance that I can save them, then my life will mean more than I ever imagined it could.

A Close Encounter of the Honest Kind

Author’s Note: As my treatment progresses, so will this blog, so I will be getting into memories in more detail. It may not always proceed in a linear fashion, so anyone is free to reply with any questions. I won’t mind. I’ve heard it all at this point! :-)

Image

After the rape, my life was lived just as much in books as out of them. But occasionally, I emerged for cult meetings. Unity was a kind of sanctuary, in spite of everything. That’s the nature of such things I guess, when you’re fourteen.

 

Even my first period at age twelve started the exact day of Unity Church Camp…and I went anyway, because I was kind of excited to casually mention it to Joel and Alana. It was only a weekend, but it was a fun weekend, because I loved those kids.

 

A period meant I was an adult now. It was a milestone! In spite of the cramps, I enjoyed the hikes. Joel and Alana were like cousins to me at one point.

 

A few months after getting raped at age 14 I was talking to a Unity Youth Group leader named Charlotte. She was a very sweet, middle-aged woman with a good sense of humor. I do not remember how often I saw her…but I wish it could have been more often. I might have been able to talk to her.

 

I’d read books in fantasy settings where blacksmiths, and other tradesmen, sometimes had apprentices. Even scribes had them if I recall correctly. We were just chatting before a meeting or something and I said that I thought that was a much better system.

 

Charlotte rested a soft hand on one of my own, a gentle gesture, but one of those, “Oh, the stories I could tell you, young one!” kind of expressions on her face.

 

I can’t remember her exact words, but she said something like, “Have you heard how tough it was to be an apprentice?”

 

I blushed, looked down, and pulled my hand back. I think I was staring at the floor when I said, “Oh, I think it’s worse on average to be a student.”

 

She looked puzzled, and I suppose changed the subject. Charlotte could never have known what was going on in my head. I thought that “punishment sessions” like the one I’d received recently were typical between teachers and students! I thought that students had to accept being whipped with belts, then anally and vaginally raped as a matter of course…not all of them, but the really bad or unlucky ones like me.

 

I figured that apprentices, long ago and far away, may have had it better. There’s no point in trying to explain my reasoning at the time. I was 14, brain-damaged, meat-starved and rail-thin. I’m surprised I wasn’t shitting myself.

 

Looking back on it, now, I can laugh about this a little.

 

I don’t recommend that course for everyone; you may not have reached the point of being able to laugh at your trauma yet And you might not reach it, for decades.

But for this person, at this moment, it’s helping. And that’s a good thing. :-)

On Being Wrong

Author’s Note: I didn’t chose the cult life…the cult life chose me? In any case, now that I’ve gone over my terminology for what it was like to grow up in Unity, I can start to let the story unfold.

Image

 

At some point between Fifth Grade and Freshman year of High School I was at a Unity Church Service–or, rather, at my favorite part of it, which was after the minister or speaker was done and everyone could mill around and talk to each other. As with most similar things, this was also when finger foods were provided.

 

My blood sugar issues were such that I could scarcely eat anything too early in the morning, but after Unity meetings on Sunday I was ravenous. I ate more than my share, with stealth, while the adults browsed books and tapes.

 

I’d try to conceal all my eating, talk to everyone as much as possible, make sure my closest friends Joel and Alana didn’t leave before we could at least touch base about seeing each other again soon, and of course I’d do all this in whatever hippie-style floral dress I thought would make me fit in best!

 

At least until the rape happened. After that I switched to jeans all the time and avoided swimsuits at all costs. Glenda, the jock, never understood why someone would stop swimming…in Hawaii. Or stop moving around much, or eating. It was because I was trying to disappear.

 

In any case, at the end of one Unity meeting I did have one of my chances to disappear, briefly. I had pilfered all the needed food and my friends were elsewhere. I sat in one of those padded chairs that they lined up to serve as pews, in the remade bungalow that served as a church. It was non-traditional in appearance, but nothing unusual at first glance, and the tropical plants surrounding the bungalow gave no doubt that this was a pretty, friendly, Hawaiian church. The following picture is not my own; it was taken in 2011 and credit goes to Google Maps, street view mode. But I can see that not much has changed about the building at least.

Image

I sat in a chair/pew and relaxed, knees tucked into my chest. I’d noticed all my life that adults periodically forgot you were there if you were quiet enough.

 

My little mind listened to some rich woman talking to someone else about God. The woman wore complex hippie silks of a sort with expensive jewelry, and with every gesture she was incredibly assured that God had led her to where she was in life–God chose her career, formed her opinions on social issues, even dictated who she voted for.

 

I recalled that another Unity member, this one a stranger whose guru shirt often seemed dirty and whose face was deeply tanned, had recently said the exact same thing. But God was telling him to support the opposite political party, among other things. He was also clearly following God’s orders by donating a larger percentage of money to Unity, while the woman kept to a strict ten percent!

 

That was the funny thing about Unity–everyone spoke to God, but no one ever got the same answers. If I ever tried to broach the subject to an adult, they would get those odd forced smiles, shrug, and say the same phrase, “Well, many paths up the mountain.” This was even the response to bigger issues, like what kind of afterlife a person could expect, whether there was a Hell, fate and all that. Although I’m almost certain that no one in Unity believed in Hell; they were in a sense Boomer runaways from traditional American Christianity I think. That’s a topic for another day.

 

So, my small and compromised brain made the wrong connection. They must be talking to different gods!

 

I was too young to see that everyone was just having a chat with themselves.

 

It was my Fifth Grade teacher who put the notion of polytheism into my head, though he didn’t intend to. He taught at Haleakala Waldorf.

 

He was quite a character; a man with a full head of grey hair and a full beard, glasses, and what I remember as a professorial smile. In my research to come I hope to dig up his name…but in my memory I call him Mr. Gentle.

 

I still beat myself up over hating that school so much, when it was really just that one bully on the bus who made my life difficult–and of course my symptoms would have made life difficult anywhere. If Waldorf had just had a bus monitor, some adult to run to when things got really bad on that long stretch of road between Kula and Kihei that I had to face twice daily…I could have avoided the mistake I ended up making.

 

But there’s not point in blaming a prepubescent girl for wanting to feel safe. Even though it couldn’t have been a worse decision on my part to pressure Mick and Glenda to switch me to another school. That ended up being Christ The King, which graduated pupils to its sister school St. Anthony’s.

 

In any case, that Waldorf school was unique–after recess Mr. Gentle, with his big glasses and grey beard, would read stories to the class while everyone performed simple crafts like knitting.

 

A boring teacher would have read, “Where the Red Fern Grows” to everyone aloud. Mr. Gentle read the Epic of Gilgamesh, the stories of Krishna and Radha from Hindu mythology, the labors of Hercules, Odysseus’ long journey home, and most of all it was the stories of Isis and Osiris that touched me the most deeply. They stayed with me for life.

 

Of course, Mr. Gentle didn’t read directly from dry tomes meant for adults. I actually don’t remember seeing him holding any books while he regaled us with ancient myths. But that could just as easily have been because I usually kept my eyes closed while he spoke, or looked down at my knitting. It let my imagination run wild.

 

The best way I can describe it is that when you’re a kid, especially a kid with frontal lobe damage, you take not only your imaginary friends seriously, but everyone else’s as well.

 

Once, in elementary school, I sat in a tree outside whatever condo we were living in at the time. It was summer. The tree was bursting with greenery, full of shade, and its bark was cool to the touch. I imagined two small fairies dressed in green so I could talk to them. I liked to stare at those serrated, baby-soft leaves and make up stories where leaves became little couches for my two fairy friends, and together they taught me magic.

 

But then…silly as this sounds to my adult brain, I actually got frightened and stopped imagining them. I even apologized out loud.

 

Glenda would crush me around my actual friends. Usually for talking too much, being rude, or more often just making the wrong face. Untreated TBI symptoms.

 

What if she somehow found out I had imaginary ones too? What if her father’s spirit, her God, or one of her ghosts spied in on me and reported back to her about me being rude to those fairies?

 

I actually climbed down out of the tree and ran across the street to where the neighbors had a basketball hoop and a ball they let me use sometimes.

 

Basketball, yes! A physical activity. Exercise. Sure I was terrible at it and didn’t do it well, but Glenda would approve if she found out–whether through some type of spiritual informant or by just deciding to come outside and check on me. I took Glenda so seriously…now, if I imagine her commanding flying monkeys in New Age gear, I can at least finally laugh about it a little.

 

I mention this because it shows how inextricably intertwined family and religion can be, in the right cult environment. And because my most honest reason for choosing polytheism is also the most embarrassing one.

 

It’s easy for a Christian to take one glance at me and say, “Oh, you’re just an atheist because you had a bad experience with a Christian.” To which I always reply that this is simple psychobabble and could be turned around in an instant. I could just as easily say, “Well, you’re only a Christian because you hate your real father!”

 

The truth is I’m now an atheist (among other things) because that’s where the evidence has lead me. But I did, in fact, become a polytheist (later Wiccan/Pagan) when I was a younger girl…because I wanted a better mother.

 

Mr. Gentle painted pictures with his words, pictures of multiple gods. They didn’t always seem much fun to be around–Hades with his kidnapping, Zeus with his libido…but there were a few really beautiful stories in there. The Egyptian goddess Isis was beautiful, resourceful, loving, and such an iconic mother figure that for a long time all pharaohs claimed to be sons of hers as a matter of course. She was the mother to everyone, the provider, the beautiful goddess who had arms of feathered wings to wrap you up warm and safe.

 

She seemed the opposite, in every respect, to Glenda. Warm where Glenda was cold, mature where Glenda was a child, safe where Glenda was dangerous. Loving and always calm. She also seemed like a better person by any standard than either Glenda, Glenda’s personal God, or the God of the Catholic holy men who thought that they could use little girls like tissues. If any of these gods were real (and I thought they were), they seemed like absolutely terrible individuals.

 

Flashbacks to the rape would sometimes reach their peak at night. Some nights I’d be writhing on the bed just sobbing, doubting everything, blaming myself for everything, reliving every moment. And of course Mick and Glenda had already ascribed everything to my overactive imagination…so I lay there alone, praying, hoping that Isis would either come rescue me, help me get through the night, or make me somehow safe every day after so that no one would ever touch me again.

 

If it were in my power, every child would have the actual arms of real-life adults to protect them from ever being treated like anyone and everyone’s plaything. And if a child was hurt in spite of this, they would have those actual arms to comfort them afterward for however long they needed it.

 

Yet it is because of those nights that I’ll always understand why some people are never able to turn away from religion. Realistically speaking, until you have some genuine human arms, it can be psychologically impossible to abandon the imaginary ones.

 

It’s been so many years, I can’t believe I was able to find a scanned image of the simple devotional card I used to hold in my hand, illuminated by a single flashlight, studying and praying and crying and trying to calm my mind until I finally fell asleep.

But I did find it. That little drawing is unforgettable to me.

Image

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.