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Life by fives: My testimony

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  • Life by fives: My testimony

    This will be will be posted in five separate parts...mainly because I'm just flaky that way. It hasn't been beta'd and I can't guarantee a lack of poor grammar or spelling. I wrote it in only three days, taking little effort to make a proper work of art out of it or spend any significant time on it's creation beyond letting it pour out for a half hour each day. It's probably going to be a difficult thing to read and will probably come across as considerably too honest, but I'm of a mind that this is the way it should be.
    I imagine it will be painful and shocking for those of you who choose to suffer through. I apologize for that. Again, I feel that necessary. Some of the material covered is mildly graphic, something I tried to minimize but it's a part of my nature that speaking honestly of myself tends to result in graphic imagery. I apologize sincerely for any offense that could have or should have been avoided. It truly is not intentional.
    Lastly, I can't help the dry humor that pervades this thing. Please overlook it. It's a defense mechanism and one that has served me well.

  • #2
    Life by Fives: 1980

    In 1980 I was a toddler.

    During this time I was more or less preoccupied with making messes and cacophonous noises. By all accounts I accomplished both quite well. I must assume the early acquisition of these skills must have been strongly encouraged by my parents. I seem to have carried on with making messes and noise well into adulthood, eventually becoming quite the master at these skills.
    To aid me in my endeavors my parent bought me a puppy. To this day I don’t know what that dog’s name was. I can’t recall it, no living relatives seem to remember it and I can’t find the name written or referred to anywhere among the mounds of family records and assorted memorabilia I have. He was very skilled at mess and noise, though. Something for which I’m sure I admired him.
    It continues to disturb me deeply that I can’t recall the dog’s name. To someone who’s suffered early traumas and has already shown a propensity for editing one’s own memory this can be profoundly disturbing. Typically when you can’t remember something from your youth that you know full well you should remember there’s a nagging, anxious concern that this is a trigger you’ve buried. Triggers tend to blind side you, leaping out from the shadows to throw you headlong into an anxiety attack. It’s like forgetting where exactly you buried that land mine. Always fun.
    Even more so the neurosis evident in this obsession. Was my loving and faithful companion’s name connected in some way with some horrible event? Have I suppressed even the cherished moniker of my dearly beloved whateverhisnamewas? Or did I just forget the name of some dog that died when I was a kid?

    Ah, neurosis. The spice of life.


    • #3

      Life by Fives: 1985

      In 1985 I was a kid.

      I first attended kindergarten around this time. Can’t say I recall that either, which should relieve me of concerns surrounding the mystery of my beloved whateverhisnamewas. It doesn’t though, because my beloved whateverhisnamewas died around this time. This was my first experience with death and this I do clearly recall. It is probably the only clear memory I have of anything in my preteen years.
      I remember coming around the corner of the yard looking for whateverhisnamewas and finding him laying on his side in the grass. His eyes were glazed over, his tongue hanging out and foam flecking the rim of his muzzle. I vividly recall his legs were pumping furiously, for all the world as if running despite the fact that he was clearly at the wrong angle for that. I remember my first clear thought was that he was sleeping and “chasing rabbits” as dogs are known to do. He didn’t look like he was having fun, though. He looked like he was running in terror. Like he was having a nightmare. And he was whining softly.
      I tried to wake him up at first from whatever bad dream he was having. It was then of course that I realized whateverhisnamewas wasn’t sleeping exactly. Something was very, very wrong with him. I ran screaming for my parents quickly enough, crying without really understanding what I was crying about. At that age it isn’t necessary to understand what you’re afraid of. Fear itself is quite enough.
      Now I don’t remember why this came about but I recall that I ended up sitting vigil with whateverhisnamewas. We didn’t take him to the vet and daddy didn’t fetch the shotgun to put him out of his misery. I really can’t remember how or why the decision was made to simply let him die but that was the decision made. Regardless, I stubbornly insisted on sitting with him and holding his head in my lap. I cried and petted him, confessing my love and begging him not to die, until the vigorous running and soft whining tapered off and he finally was gone.
      I think the reason this memory sticks with me isn’t due to the obvious sniffle-factor here. It was because this brought forth the realization in me that living things that you care for do actually die and that your caring matters not a whit. They say the universe doesn’t care what you think. I would add that it doesn’t care that you care, either. I didn’t understand that up to this point, having never had any experience with death first hand. My mother was sick, I knew. She was very sick. Gravely sick in fact, judging from the reactions of every other adult around her. I knew she was expected to get even worse. It never had occurred to me that she could actually die…like whateverhisnamewas did. That she could lay down in the grass, foam at the mouth and whine painfully until she was simply, suddenly gone.
      I later learned that whateverhisnamewas had gotten into some antifreeze somewhere, probably left out by some mean old bastard who got sick of dogs pooping in his yard. My mother had cancer and, though most likely not poisoned by any mean old bastards, she was nevertheless poisoned. By the universe itself rather than any particular bastard, in my estimation.

      This was an age of profound revelations for me. I’m sure it is for everyone, of course. The age when you first begin to understand those abstract concepts that never had any concern for you before.
      Dogs die.
      Mothers die.
      Sometimes daughter are relieved, even glad, when their mother’s die because they grow sick of waiting and watching it coming, year after year. Just another kind of poisoning I suppose.
      I never did grieve her, never really missed her and only occasionally have the fervent wish that she were still alive. That usually because I have something especially vitriolic to say to her and want her to hear it in person. Oddly enough I find being aware that my feelings toward my mother are utterly and completely unfair doesn’t alleviate them one bit. I still despise her for dying, for taking so long to do it and for doing it so badly.

      I am acutely aware that I honor the death of a dog who’s name I can’t recall far more than I honor my own mother’s death. I could give all the reasons this is so. Explain myself as it were. In the end though, I’d just be appealing to your pity and that’s something I don’t put up with from anyone else. There’s no pity for such a thing. It is better that you despise me for something despicable about me. I wouldn’t want you to ever accept anything so honestly despicable.


      • #4
        Life by Fives: 1990

        In 1990 I was a girl.

        By then my mother was gone, something to which I snapped my fingers and shrugged. It was just my father and I alone, as I preferred. No other family came around that I can recall. There weren’t any family friends that I can remember dropping by for a visit. We didn’t have much contact with anyone really and largely relied on ourselves exclusively. Daddy worked at the paper mill and made a respectable living working long hours. I kept the house and did the cooking.
        I attended school like any other girl my age, didn’t really have any friends and never especially associated with the crowd all that much. They didn’t have goth girls in those days, at least not in my neck of the woods, and I’d never even heard of such. If they had though, I’m sure I’d have been one. The idea of people leaving me the hell alone was one I favored strongly. Emo-kids likewise were unheard of and even they, I understand, tend to socialize with one another in order to share their misery. That would have been intolerable to me.

        Somehow during this time I became my father’s wife. Not sure how that came to be exactly but I’d hazard that it began as something of a joke. A tease. I remember that I encouraged my father to find a new wife, reasoning that it was something of a shame that such a wonderful person (I did truly love and admire my father) shouldn’t go to waste. I imagine he responded by teasing me about acting like a wife.

        I really want to somehow root all this in him but on honest, objective reflection I imagine it more likely that this slightly twisted portion of our relationship began with me. I’m sure that I did indeed take on that role. There was vacuum there after all, only natural to want to fill it. Likewise my attempts to encourage him to remarry.

        My father clearly didn’t see it the same way. I try very hard not to make assumptions about what he was thinking and how he came to the decisions he did. My counselor has opinions on this but I’ve so far refused to consider it closely. I honestly don’t want to know how or why he made the decisions that broke me as a person. I’m perfectly comfortable with the fact that they were evil and that he was evil by extension. For now my judgment rests comfortably there.

        Over the course of several months our relationship evolved from this slightly twitchy wife-surrogate relationship to a level of inappropriate affection. Eventually it was accepted that I had indeed taken on the role of wife, to the point that we both openly spoke of it with the assumption that it was so. In time we shared a bed and soon after that, an incestuous relationship.

        I really do want to try to explain what this was like for me. I realize I make it seem as if it were perfectly consensual and that was fine and dandy with it. It wasn’t and I was not. I honestly just don’t know how to explain what I thought or felt at that time.
        To begin with I never said “no”. I never disagreed with doing this thing or with our relationship developing to this level. I truly wanted it to progress and become more intimate. I relished the intimacy I shared with my father, I just couldn’t comprehend how sex was the best way of going about it. Certainly it felt good, at least usually. It also felt incredibly wrong. Shame and guilt were constant companions and I remember I used to furiously ponder what was so wrong with me that I would feel this way. Clearly daddy didn’t. I could never figure that out.

        In the end though, it seemed worth it. Daddy clearly greatly valued this thing from me and so I took a measure of pride in providing it. It was our secret. We shared it secretly and it made him love me. He would shower me with affection, gifts and favor for participating in this. By all accounts it should have been a wonderful thing. To the best I can figure it shouldn’t have been a bad thing. And yet oddly it was.
        I loved this man and I depended on him. I thoroughly enjoyed and strongly desired intimacy with him. I valued him as a person. And yet this ultimate intimacy utterly ripped me apart. It hurt so terribly and wounded me so deeply that my love eventually turned to hatred, of him to a degree but mostly of myself. Eventually even the question of whether or not I should feel so badly about it was lost in the anger and self-loathing.

        I began to resist. I started saying mean things and rebelling. Eventually I threatened to go to the authorities if it didn’t stop. So he beat me with a belt until I recanted, continued beating me until I cried and admitted I loved him. You’ll pardon me if I’m still a little proud that this took nearly a half hour for him to accomplish. You’ll pardon likewise if I sneer a bit and say this should also have been a clue to him that his days were numbered.
        Surprisingly perhaps, it was only then, laying beaten and emotionally broken on the kitchen floor, that I began to realize maybe there really was something wrong with my father. I had kinda skirted around this realization for a long, long time but by then it had become rather hard to continue avoiding.

        After this turning point the semantic argument of consent made a glorious pratfall off the kitchen counter and broke it’s neck. It twitched a bit, to be sure, but eventually died altogether. The next several months were characterized by routine visits to my room at night, where I’d taken to retreating again. Ofttimes I was literally dragged down the hall to his room and his bed. Many were the beatings and scoldings I suffered for failing to meet my obligations as a wife.
        I couldn’t even argue this, having not only accepted that position freely but having taken great joy in the opportunity.

        My father took up a new hobby then. Up until this point his hobbies largely consisted of Nascar racing and amateur carpentry. Now he added verbal and physical abuse with the added dimension of emotional abuse, all having the end goal I think of keeping me too preoccupied with self-loathing to muster further attempts at rebellion. I did muster such attempts, of course, being quite the rebel as it happens. I didn’t manage anything beyond token rebellion and such things as forcing him to drag me from place to place by my hair now and again.
        Eventually my rebellion at the abuse and my honest, sincere love for my father conspired to work together, motivating me to concoct a plan of action that I hoped would fix everything that was wrong in my life. I was quite an idealist too, I suppose. I began to toy with the idea of returning to the salad days of our prior relationship and how to accomplish this. Certainly we both seemed much happier in those days. Of course, I was still lending to my father the presumption of humanity. A grievous error.

        But I realize I’m only delaying the inevitable here. The thing I don’t want to talk about. So let’s cut to the action scene at the end.

        My father was a lover of pornography, his collection growing in leaps and bounds after my mother’s death until an entire shelf of videos and a large pile of magazines occupied his bedroom. It really was quite an amazing collection. He was quite proud of the rare and classic films he had acquired. Among these were several amateur homemade videos of which he and I played starring roles had been given a seat of honor. I took three of them and hid them, then waited for him to notice.

        When he did and confronted me on it I launched into my well-prepared speech, alternately threatening to take the videos to the police and offering an alternative of working together to fix our broken relationship. I intended to extol the virtues of our love in those days, something I was quite confident that he secretly longed for. Surely he couldn’t be happy with things as they were and we had already proven we were capable of true love. An appeal to that…how could it fail?
        I got to the “I took them” part when he punched me in the mouth and knocked out a tooth. The beating proceeded from there with my attempts to address the subject at hand largely ignored until I finally succumbed to the pain and told him where the videos were. He fetched them while I bled on the floor and he burned the lot of them in the back yard.

        After that several days passed with barely a word spoken between us. The nightly visits stopped and he even muttered something almost kind to me in passing once. Hope kindled that reason might prevail and perhaps my tearfully screamed proposition during the most recent beating hadn’t fallen entirely on deaf ears.

        Two months later I lay dying in the snow over a hundred miles away, my throat cut and bleeding freely. My father had carved the word “whore” in my back with a buck knife. I had a concussion, bruised ribs, a fractured tibia and detached retina. I was missing a total of four teeth, three knocked out and another falling out on it’s own. The multiple cuts here and there on my body had become infected from exposure to urine and feces. I was delirious from fever even to the point of actively hallucinating. A urinary tract infection had worked alongside other physical injuries to render me infertile. The various cuts, bruises, burns from cigarettes and welts from being whipped were largely negligible in contrast.
        Suffice it to say my plans went awry. As often happens when one attempts peaceful negotiations with evil people.

        Hours later I awoke and, according to various accounts (I honestly don’t recall), I crawled back into the cabin, found my father’s shotgun along with a box of shells and shot my father in the stomach. After he died I used all the shells that were left in the box and focused on destroying various joints, the groin and the face.
        I maintain that this was the proper approach towards resolving this situation.


        • #5
          Life by Fives: 1995

          In 1995 I was a young woman.

          By now I had already spent a short time as a guest in the East Louisiana State Hospital, which is where they put you when you do such things as shoot your father in the belly. Once it was determined I had a fairly agreeable reason to shoot my father there still remained concerns that I might shoot myself, so I was transferred over to the Southeast Louisiana Hospital. There I spent the majority of this five year period.
          During the first year or two of my stay in SELH I spent most of my time in a daze, unable even to fully accept that many of things that had happened had actually happened and that they were every bit as horrible as I perceived them to be at the time. In many cases I discovered they were far worse than I perceived them to be and that I might well have some work to do on my perception of what is and isn’t horrible. The ability to perceive the horribleness of any given thing being rather important to one’s self-preservation, as you can imagine.
          I learned many astonishing things during my stay at SELH. It seemed every day that I faced some new revelation that both confirmed my initial instinctive reactions while shaking the world view I had adopted in defiance of those same instincts. Yes, it turns out that it really is bad for a father to have sex with his daughter. No, I didn’t actually deserve to be tortured until I nearly died. Yes, there are alternatives for dealing with difficult emotions other than biting your hands until they bleed. No, having recurring erotic dreams of being eaten alive by dogs isn’t quite normal.

          Yes, you really did kill your father and shoot his corpse over and over again with a shotgun. No, it wasn’t just another bad dream.

          More than anything else the most favorite and amazing thing I learned is that there isn’t a damned thing in this world that you can’t survive and grow stronger from other than death itself. Every experience, no matter how good or horrible, no matter how profound or insignificant, carries with it an inherent opportunity to become a better person or a worse one. The awe inspiring core of this simple truth being that it’s entirely up to you which direction you go each and every time. Not only is it your choice, you can’t even honestly blame your choice on anyone else, even those who might force the experience on you.

          But as I may have indicated, I didn’t accept these truths. I recognized them and carefully filed them away for future reference, but I was not at all willing to embrace them and go about the overwhelming task of overhauling the self. The task was simply beyond my ability to comprehend and I had no particular desire even to attempt to comprehend it. Instead I accepted only what was absolutely necessary to continue surviving, learned to be “healthy” enough to get by and achieved, in the end, the bare minimum to warrant my release from the hospital after four years.
          Rather amazing to me now to find I was essentially correct. We humans truly are incapable of being good and it really is a wasted effort even to attempt it on our own. Nevertheless, this was meat I could not stomach, having trouble even with milk in those days.

          During my stay I also met the two people who would influence my life more profoundly than any others, my father aside. One was Shan, who would become my first lesbian lover. The other was Matthew, who I already knew but hadn’t seen in well over two years. This is the guy I would eventually marry. Now, can you taste the irony here? Oh, but it gets much better I assure you.
          It was summer when I finally managed to win myself a bunk on the “open” ward, which was more or less the “we’re pretty sure they won’t kill anyone” section of the produce aisle. And there was Shan, the second person I met after walking through the door with my small plastic trash bag containing all the material objects I could lay claim to in the world (predominantly toilet paper).
          The very first person I met was, of course, the old woman who lunged at me and screamed at me to return her man to her. Her “man”, as it happens, turned out to be a roughly eight inch long piece of shaped Pyrex that the aides were rather busy at the moment trying to figure out how in the world she managed to procure in the first place. If I had known it was they who had her man and not I then I would have pointed them out to her.
          Shan came to my rescue and pointed them out to her in my stead, being already aware of the ins and out of the Pyrex-man incident rather than having just walked through the door into the utterly confusing mess. I was naturally grateful and quite open to making friends. We spent the first few minutes of our friendship sharing the very amusing scene of four large men carefully wrestling with an elderly schizophrenic over a phallic bit of plastic. One would think it the start of a beautiful friendship.

          I met Matthew three days later when I finally won the privilege of attending the canteen, the small store on the grounds, to purchase candy and cassette tapes. I should give a Thank You to the taxpayers who contributed the five dollars I used to buy my first strawberry flavored licorice, I suppose.
          Try to imagine now the intensity of my awkwardness when confronted by my old neighborhood friend, several years older than me, escorting the male lunatics to the canteen. He in a blue zippered jacket that marked him as an aide and segregated him from the insane people. I in my paper slippers, clutching strawberry licorice. I think I never before had any particular reason to actually admire Matthew until that day, when his character truly had an opportunity to present itself. Though I was ashamed and embarrassed to be discovered a patient on a lunatic ward he showed no awkwardness in greeting me nor the slightest hesitance in acknowledging our acquaintance. He grinned sincerely and greeted me enthusiastically. This was the trait I had always liked in him and had won my friendship when we first met. This ability of his to automatically enjoy anyone’s company who hadn’t yet proven themselves completely intolerable. I find I’ve always been quite the opposite, assuming intolerability in others and requiring proof to the contrary.
          I recall that the second to last thing he said to me brought the realization that he’d already known I was a patient there for some time and had only now had a chance to greet me. It took perhaps a total of two seconds for me to realize that he most likely already knew all the details of what had brought me to that place. Yet here he was being friendly and inquiring with interest on the subject of my mental health. Naturally I assumed he wanted to have sex with me. While that idea may have fatigued me deeply I nevertheless allowed his interest, as I found I desperately needed the illusion that someone was honestly interested in my well being.
          Perhaps I missed the mark on that one but hell, at least I hit the tree.

          On returning to the open ward I took company with Shan once again, having developed a fast friendship with her already. It wasn’t long before a casual remark from her revealed that she was a lesbian, something which shocked me quite a bit. Shan naturally found that mildly humorous and was more than eager to answer questions once the shock had worn off. I admit she wasn’t at all what I expected. I suppose having never met a real, live homosexual before I had always assumed the obvious deviance would be visible in the demeanor somehow. It was quite surprising to find that Shan appeared in all respects quite normal. I found it difficult to really believe that she was a lesbian at all. In retrospect I find this mildly amusing myself.
          During the course of our discussions over this it became clear that sexuality was something I hadn’t had much opportunity to reflect upon. Sure, having sex with my father was something I had extensive knowledge and experience on. Sex with anyone else…not so much. I hadn’t even given it any serious thought before, really. This is why I think Shan’s sexuality fascinated me so. Looking back on this I can see that my verbalizing this to Shan was the turning point in our relationship. I didn’t recognize it at the time of course, any more than I recognized the various turning points in my relationship with my father for what they were. It seems clear to me that Shan responded to my sexual confusion with physical affection in order to gain a new lover. I can’t honestly say she was even aware that this is what she did or, if she was aware, that she even viewed this as wrong.
          We shared our first real kiss within a day or two of that discussion. Though it was admittedly strange it did indeed awaken something surprising within me. You can imagine that kissing quickly became my new favorite thing. Better even than strawberry flavored licorice, which is something I think can’t truly be appreciated outside of a mental institution. Within a week she had me convinced to further our investigations into my sexuality and we eventually visited “the bushes”. The bushes, you understand, were the closest equivalent to a make-out spot available in such a structured setting. Interestingly enough, there were actual rules concerning “the bushes”. Since the matter of sexual liberties among mental patients had been under debate for quite some time the administrators of the facility had instituted a policy of willful blindness concerning what occurred in “the bushes”. So long as you weren’t running for the “the woods” to escape and no one was being harmed, what happened in the bushes stayed in the bushes.
          Our first visit to the bushes wasn’t, as you might imagine, especially enlightening. It was rather awkward, uncomfortable and largely frustrating. After some prompting and encouragement by Shan however, we eventually perfected our technique with subsequent visits to the bushes until we finally forced the nurses to violate the unwritten bushes policy by actually restricting our visits to said bushes. I’m fairly sure they never had to do that before. This was probably due to the fact that Shan was 19 years old and I was…well, I was somewhat younger than that.

          But I insinuated the plot would thicken and promised the irony would abound, did I not? Enter stage left: Matthew once again. Matthew, you must understand, had just become a Christian only a year or so prior and was known around the place for that very thing. He was quite vocal about it and eager to share his beliefs with anyone who cared to listen and was the one others sought out concerning tidbits of bible trivia. As he seemed to spend every available moment with his nose buried in his little pocket sized bible he was a veritable font of biblical insights. The guy had memorized whole sets of verses, for crying out loud. This was the man who would introduce me, some ten years or so later, to the idea that homosexuality should be recriminalized as a capitol crime, that adulterers should be stoned and that rapists don’t require an appeals process so much as a swift and public execution. All of which I now acknowledge as true.
          In conversation with my old friend it was to him I first spoke freely concerning my budding belief that I was a homosexual. I told him of visits to the bushes with Shan and shyly confessed that I felt I was falling in love with her. My concern of course being whether this was some terrible mistake I was making. What did the bible say about this? I was naturally quite aware that this was typically considered more heinous than any other conceivable thing to the Christian community. Why exactly was this so terrible a thing? I found it wonderful and felt as if my whole being had finally awakened. I felt joy and love again, things I thought lost to me forever.
          It was from Matthew that I learned that the biblical prohibition on homosexuality was merely based on Old Testament Mosaic law, you see. Such things were done away with in the New Testament and Christ’s sacrifice. There were new rules to go by now and they concerned themselves with love, acceptance and tolerance. The harsh laws of the old way had their place in that age that had passed away but in these modern times Jesus Christ would never have us preach such an exclusionary and judgmental thing. This was of significant relief to me, so much so that I rather glossed over the whole “Jesus saves” thing that followed after. I had the assurance I was looking for and was satisfied with that. Putting Jesus out of my mind, I returned to Shan to make plans on how best to continue our explorations now that access to the bushes had been restricted.

          Over a decade later I sat next to Matthew on our couch in our home, confronted with the startling realization that he was completely oblivious to this. He had utterly forgotten this conversation had ever taken place. This small interlude that had played so large a part in my life and given me the courage to pursue what I mistakenly assumed was love. This apparently insignificant moment upon which hinged a full third of my life spent in misery and perversity, not as a victim but of my own free will.
          I couldn’t blame him for any of this, that was not my concern. My concern was whether I should prompt him to recall that conversation years ago, to make him aware of it’s impact on my life…or simply remain silent. The irony here, the one I promised you earlier, was that this man had taught me the real value of truth and honesty. Because of his influence I couldn’t simply brush this away and pretend it never happened. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right?
          Well, no. That’s not right.


          • #6
            Life by Fives: 2000

            In 2000 I was a woman.

            I rang in the dawn of the last year of the 20th century on a beach, fairly drunk and working diligently on seducing a lovely young woman named May in order to ease the discomfort of dumping Karen, my girlfriend at the time. Karen had proven rather resistant to the idea that sex should be engaged in more frequently than once a month, something I found to be intolerable. I would follow a similar pattern through short-term relationships with roughly 15 other women during this period, not including two others prior to 2000. This also does not take into account various “one night stands” and other radically short-term sexual relationships, though I’m happy to say they were few.

            In 2000 I was still waiting to attain legal drinking age. This despite the emancipated status my grandmother had helped me attain in order to facilitate my continued “out of sight, out of mind” condition in regards to the rest of the family. As such my plans to make a living through music were initially put on hold. Instead I focused on surviving day to day on the charity and favor of lovers and friends, a short stint as a cashier in an adult video store and an even shorter stint as a fry cook. I did manage to learn the lesson that redheads should not shave their heads, so it’s not as if my time as a bohemian was entirely wasted.
            If I may have insinuated a lack of commitment to lovers earlier then I should now outright admit I totally lacked commitment to any particular geographic location during this time as well. This phase of my life was predominantly characterized by my moving randomly back and forth between Louisiana and California, with a few stop offs here and there in between for variety. Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure I spent two weeks in New York somewhere in there before deciding living there was not an option. Consequently to all this I developed a small cadre of close friends and personal acquaintances in my home state of Louisiana to complement the rather large collection out west. Unfortunately I made the mistake of integrating Matthew and Joanna (my 2nd cousin) into the Louisiana bunch. Over the next three years or so I was forced to endure the stop-motion horror show of watching the two of them convert nearly the entire lot (that weren’t already) into Christians. Those who already were believers were graduated to a rather horrifying brand of Christianity known as “fundie”. Those few who managed to avoid either of these two reviled fates quietly disappeared altogether and lost touch, most likely holding me personally responsible for the whole mess.

            During this interim I continued with the practice of self-mutilation to maintain emotional equilibrium. My preference for this being to bite the palm and edge of my hands until blood flowed freely, so that elevating my hands above the elbows caused blood to run down the forearm. I especially valued smearing the blood in my hands onto my face and neck. This brought me a significant amount of peace and serenity that was often much needed in those days, as well as providing a perception of control over myself that was in reality wholly lacking. This along with marijuana and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity and the emotional outlet of my music most probably were the only things that kept me from committing murder or suicide.
            Nevertheless I managed three arrests for assault, one for destruction of public property and another for battery during this time. I spent a total of about one year behind bars for the various convictions and time in custody resulting from these arrests. I managed to avoid being taken into custody over two separate incidents of attempted suicide, one involving cutting my wrist and the other blowing a hole through my cheek with a 9mm round. I also lost the ability to fully control four of my fingers from nerve damage, which further limited my musical career, while achieving my life long goal of marking each distinguishable section of my body with a prominent scar or tattoo.
            I addition to all my self-abuse I managed to convince another person to strike me in head with a blunt object hard enough to cause brain damage, resulting in mild visual-spatial impairment and measurable left side loss of control/neglect.

            During the last migration from California to Louisiana prior to my moving here permenantly I secured the rights to “crash” at Matthew’s house, the only friend in Louisiana still willing to tolerate my company for significant amounts of time. This, I was convinced, was because he still desired to have sex with me. Yet again it would seem that I missed the mark but hit the tree.
            While staying there I found Matthew’s attempts to proselytize progressively more and more unbearable than ever before. By the end of the third day any lingering appreciation for his misguided concern for me was utterly lost and I decided to pick a fight. As the argument elevated and it became clear that he was not going to beat me bloody as I had intended him to do I became desperate. Despite all my efforts he continued to prove infuriatingly committed to engaging with me rationally. Frustrated and disgusted at the complete lack of intent to punish me physical I played my trump card, pointing out that I had no interest in him sexually and that his continued attempts to curry my favor through the guise of a righteous minister to my salvation were completely pathetic.
            I must pause in this part of the story to relate that there is a peculiar phenomenon that’s rare enough as to go unwitnessed by most people. In certain instances normal people can be driven to a degree of rage and fury that transcends anything rationality would dare to even associate with. In most cases they simply lose control and behave violently. In some few cases they lose all ability to feel anything much in particular and are driven rather to merely react against whatever drove them to that state in the first place in a completely unfeeling, emotionless manner. I’m pretty sure this is the next progressive step beyond what we typically refer to as “seeing red”. I presume it’s the state of mind that allows otherwise normal people to take axes to close family members.
            When someone achieves this state there’s a peculiar affect that accompanies it that’s pretty evident. You can’t really miss it or mistake it if you’re paying attention at all. It’s rather a terrifying thing to behold. Matthew achieved this state before my very eyes and I was stricken with pale-faced terror at the sight of it. I was rather reminded that, despite all my efforts in the gym, he still outclassed me in muscle mass by a respectable amount. While I may have originally desired a good, bloody tussle that would spell the end of my friendship with the only person left in the world that still cared about me, being murdered barehanded by him wasn’t anywhere in my plan. I’m exceedingly grateful that whatever tenuous grasp on rational thought he must have somehow maintained allowed him to merely throw me physically out of his house instead.

            If you don’t mind too terribly we’ll skip past the last few minutes of that incident, having covered all the high points well enough. Flashing forward a bit we come to October of 2004. By this time I’d somehow managed to land a few poorly aimed stitches on the fractured mess that remained of my friendship with Matthew, someone I’d never in my life considered anything less than my very best friend. This was probably the only man I knew who could touch me without causing some measure of nausea and hold me without causing irrational fear. These delicate strands of affection allowed several hesitant and awkward telephone conversations with him from the safety of California and a last ditch attempt to salvage our friendship. Yet in the end I found myself nearly one month out from Matthew having very kindly but firmly rejected any further pursuits.
            In a stereotypically seedy roadside hotel well after midnight I left my latest lover passed out drunk in bed and slipped as quietly as I could into the bathroom. After taking a last long look in the mirror to confirm that I was indeed a worthless and disgusting excuse for a human being, devoid of any value whatsoever beyond corruption and destruction, I set about thoroughly brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth to reduce the risk of infection. I sat on the floor, leaned back against the counter and proceeded to gnaw away at the pain one more time. Blood flowed and I emptied, until I could feel nothing at all any more.
            As I spread the blood on my face and neck as I’d done countless times before I began to cry. I had never done that before at this stage, that I can recall. Too empty even to muster a proper suicide attempt I couldn’t imagine where this originated from within me. I wanted nothing more than to simply cease to exist and for all the pain and madness to just end. I cried harder and harder, lacking any control over it at all until I found myself biting deeply into my palm of my hand solely in the attempt to stifle the sounds. I suddenly felt a very real physical ’snap’ within me as all the darkest emotions I had suppressed over the years of my life gushed out. This snapping sensation was so hard and sharp that it threw me face down on the floor in a boneless heap.
            In those moments, in my mind’s eye, I had a very clear vision. I saw a dense, sticky, tar-like ball of blackness within me, a virtual representation of hideousness so focused and sharp that it consumed my entire perception. I could barely feel the cold floor of the bathroom on my skin I was so focused on this thing, entirely against my will. I knew without any shred of doubt that this was the source of all my misery. It was the source of my every impulse to self-destruction and the enemy of every good thing I might conceive. I knew down to my very bones that I would never escape this thing. I had created this black beast and had fed it too long and too well for it to ever wither. I knew with crystal clarity that it was far too densely packed to ever bleed away, even were I to bleed freely every moment of every day for the rest of my life.

            I knew with utter and complete certainty that I was damned, not only in the afterlife but for the entirety of this life as well.

            I could feel that the Holy Spirit was there with me at that moment, quietly and insistently calling to me. I didn’t know what this force was, beyond the awareness that it was beyond myself. So peaceful and yet so persuasive was this small, still voice that it took every last fiber of my will to resist it. Amazing to me now to consider that even in that moment, of all moments, I could still muster such incredible resolve to remain in hellish torture where I was so sure I belonged. And yet it eventually did occur to me that I could let go. I could simply stop fighting. There was no logical, rational reason to continue to resist. My deserving of that healing peace or this hellish agony had nothing whatsoever to do with the matter. This holy voice offered deliverance regardless of deserving, motivated purely by unimaginable love and boundless mercy.
            So I let go. I cried out and begged for deliverance.
            It was granted me. More completely and powerfully than I could ever possibly have hoped for or imagined.

            I live now today to make the claim, with all confidence and surety, that there is no human being alive on this earth, not one who will ever live, whom God cannot and does not strongly will to forgive and wash clean…if they only, merely, simply accept it.


            • #7
              Okay, so I'm going to go have a panic attack now. Again, all necessary apologies are freely and sincerely offered.


              • #8
                I'm about halfway through reading this, and have to say: Praise God!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MaryContrary
                  So I let go. I cried out and begged for deliverance.
                  It was granted me. More completely and powerfully than I could ever possibly have hoped for or imagined.

                  I live now today to make the claim, with all confidence and surety, that there is no human being alive on this earth, not one who will ever live, whom God cannot and does not strongly will to forgive and wash clean…if they only, merely, simply accept it.
                  HALLELUJAH! PRAISE JESUS!!!!

                  Thanks for sharing that sister. I know firsthand the amount of guts it takes to go back into all of that. Someone will read this and be encouraged, and that is worth whatever other responses it might receive.

                  God bless you sister!


                  • #10
                    Wow. Sheesh. Err. Man, I'm sorry, I just don't know what to say... *gets a tissue*

                    Praise God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                    You've called me out of death
                    You've called me into life
                    And I was under Your wrath
                    Now through the cross I'm reconciled

                    Discount Maternity Clothes | Children's Books | Baby Gear | Coupons | Batman


                    • #11
                      Wow Mary,
                      All I can say is wow. You are my hero, a few steps down from my wife, but still a hero. To revisit those parts of your life with such candor is incredible. I pray that this was a release for you and that you can use this testimony to rescue others.
                      God is good and He is all merciful!

                      God bless you!
                      God invented distortion to use on really cool guitars!!
                      Suffering is Gods megaphone to a deaf world! C.S Lewis

                      Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!


                      • #12
                        Mary, I am awed that you were courageous enough to open your life for us to read. God is using you in mighty ways. In light of everything you posted, I feel like anything we say to respond can sound trivial and trite, but please know what a blessing you are, and what an amazing story of redemption you have.

                        Hatred of sin is a family value.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Prolifeguyswife View Post
                          Mary, I am awed that you were courageous enough to open your life for us to read. God is using you in mighty ways. In light of everything you posted, I feel like anything we say to respond can sound trivial and trite, but please know what a blessing you are, and what an amazing story of redemption you have.
                          That was what I was trying to say.. Just couldn't find the words .
                          You've called me out of death
                          You've called me into life
                          And I was under Your wrath
                          Now through the cross I'm reconciled

                          Discount Maternity Clothes | Children's Books | Baby Gear | Coupons | Batman


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MaryContrary View Post
                            I live now today to make the claim, with all confidence and surety, that there is no human being alive on this earth, not one who will ever live, whom God cannot and does not strongly will to forgive and wash clean…if they only, merely, simply accept it.

                            This testimony touched my heart in so many ways, Mary. I realize now that I may have been a "Matthew" to a lesbian friend. I showed her the love of Christ, told her that I worried about her well-being, but I didn't tell her that her choices were sin. Would it have helped? I wonder about her & pray for her frequently. Every now and again she wanders across my path. How shall I proceed? I never know.

                            Thanks for courageously posting this remarkable story of your life.


                            • #15
                              WOW! Powerful stuff! I've never read anything like that before. I'm absolutely speechless.... I really admire you for all you've been through! Praise the Lord for bringing you out of the deep pits of despair!

                              You are a brilliant writer too. Have you considered getting your story published?