1. Barbara Keller says

    It’s difficult to always have the answer that is not current, or popular or cool, but my answer is the same. The idea that changed my entire life was the one that said my sins were forgiven. Not “could be if..” Not “might be.” Done. My sins weighed heavy on me. I had made some dreadful choices. I had chosen to hurt my parents, to have way too much sex with all the wrong men. I had been pregnant and aborted. I had gone down the wrong road so many times even I was surprised I was still alive. Then someone told me it was all paid for. They didn’t say it didn’t matter, or that it wasn’t my fault, or that my life and circumstances had left me no other choices. They said God loved me, and He had provided a subsitute to pay the penalty for my sins. I didn’t believe it, not at first. But I think it goes like this – God calls to you. I don’t think we can believe it on our own. So, He called me and it got better. The sense of judgement and guilt for my sins were not so heavy, and in time they were gone.

    I know this is tough to hear. Thanks for your tolerance. It’s the true answer to the question. Nothing else in my whole life has been this significant. The proof is in my face. When I was young I never smiled. I hardly knew how. Now I smile a lot. I go salsa dancing and I smile.

    • says

      Barbara, all I can say is that part of wishes I could have that certainty and absolute knowledge of having “a clean slate.” Mostly, I have to work at forgiving myself for all the stupid and hurtful stuff I’ve done in my life. And it works for the most part. I’ve gone from self-critical to cutting myself a lot of slack–except when I need to change, and then I really try to change. I loved the image of you going from unsmiling to smiling and dancing. Thanks for sharing that image with us.

    • Beverly Boyd says

      Whether you experience was current or popular is not important. It allowed you to smile and dance…and that is “way cool”. Thank you for sharing with us.

      • Jenny says

        Your world is perfect as it is. I cannot say that my way is better than yours, only different. I like how it has made your heart glad.

  2. Fran Stekoll says

    In 1968 My Mother shared a dream with me. This idea changed my entire life.This came about in the year 1924, in Goshen, N.Y. My Mother, then six years old, would pass the local drug store on her way to school. One day the usual display of apothecary jars filling with amber-colored liquid had been replaced by a large bottle of Pluto water, a popular laxative of that time. Mother was fascinated by the trademark, a huge red devil with fierce face, pitchfork, and barbed tail and she quickly moved on. That night and for many subsequent ones in her nightmarish dreams this giant red devil would jump off the bottle and chase her with his pitchfork. Over time all this was forgotten. Fifty years later, as a therapist she attended a workshop at a desert retreat. During a meditation she sensed footsteps approaching reminding her of the devil she’d dreamed about as a child. Suddenly he reappeared; but instead of a frightening devil, he was now both devil and elf. His face and body had completely changed and had become plump, impish and friendly. The horns and 3 pronged pitchfork were no longer threatening. Instead, they represented the five senses: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. The barbed tail too, had lost its sting and symbolized intuition. This little being, part devil. part elf, became appropriately known as “The Delf” -a symbol of the opposites, the mixed feelings, the struggles within each of us. He reappeared periodically to my Mother, and each time she saw changes. Currently “The Delf” appears as a transformational being. His horns have rounded into “Wisdom Bumps” and the pitchfork and barbed tail have disappeared. His body is red because the love from his heart penetrates his entire being. He is open to share his wisdom and love with all who are mindful of awareness and change. Through him you can find balance in your life!
    This being has opened up new life in me. I have copyrighted gotten a Domain and am in process of creating a Blog to publish “The Delf” through
    “Wisdom Bumps” with verses written through time which everyone can identify with. “Think the banks unbalanced? Thought you had more wealth?Best thing to invest in is balancing yourself!” “Can you say you’re doing OK? Better today than yesterday? HOORAY!!!” I’m quite a surprise
    behind this disguise. It’s a hard task peeking out through my mask.” “Sometimes I’m bubbly; sometimes I’m really blue, Just accept me as I am,
    Cause you’re a Yo Yo too!” “There’s no such thing as a fool-proof diet. On this I firmly stand. Best exercise, if you’ll try it, is gap ‘tween mouth and hand.” “Want what you want when you want it? You’ll get what you want when you get it!:”Sometimes bad times are good; good times sometimes bad. Depending on the attitude you have toward what you had!” “Finding faults with friends? Try compliments and praise; Soon you will discover A
    change in both your ways!” “Think the grass is greener? Is this your complaint? What looks good outside- Inside. maybe ain’t!”

    • Ilana says

      Fran- I love the story and the imagery as well as the clever lines. I was so entertained that I did not realize the lesson I was learning. There is good and bad in everything and nothing is beyond repair. Thank you! IM

  3. Jenny says

    I entered the grounds of an old colonial era house, one of those that surrounded a park on the outskirts of town. I observed how the colonials enveloped the beauty of nature within sets of their buildings and yet could not do this with the homes of the colonized. The house was set back from the road and as I walked in I wondered what was I going to find.

    I don’t quite remember what drew me to this appointment on a Saturday afternoon, but now I was looking for the Trinidad & Tobago Parapsychology association. All I had was the notice in the newspaper inviting those who might be interested, to attend this gathering. And here I was following the directions to a space at the back of the building.

    I opened the door into a fairly large room with chairs set up in a semi-circle facing a small table on which a doily and vase of flowers sat. There was a side table along a wall with refreshments laid out.
    “This event was becoming more friendly in every moment.” I thought.
    There were about 8 men and women actively engaged in getting things set up. The atmosphere felt calm and friendly, lots of smiles and laughter among the folks. I let out a breath I did not know I was holding and said, ”Hello!”
    Everyone turned, with smiles and a group “Hello!”
    “Is this the Parapsychology Association?” I asked.
    “Oh yeah,” came the reply almost in unison, “Come in. Come on in!”

    I walked into the room as a slightly built man came forward arm outstretched in greeting. He was followed by a woman who looked like she was in her thirties. That made me look closer, I seemed to be the youngest in the room. The man reached me, shook my hand, and led me into the room. Then he led me in an introductory “waltz” around the room so I could meet the others. They were indeed happy to see me. I was the first new person to arrive. Fortunately two more people arrived soon after and caused the excitement in the room to increase, they were visitors.

    By the time the meeting began twenty minutes later there were ten members and four visitors. As the members told about the organization I learned that these were all people who recognized their “psychic” selves, cautiously used their abilities in their lives, did not talk about it much in the everyday world. They formed this organization five years before for support, to help each other enhance their practice with their gifts, to be buddies for each other, and to work at being helpful in our society as much as they could. I was happy this was a piece of good fortune. The members described how their abilities manifested and I was amazed by the variety of forms and strengths. They talked about what they did which was a lot given the cultural risks they took. Our culture formed through slavery and colonialism, housed a line of thought that deemed anything too “powerful” or “non-religious” or misunderstood, done by the colonized as threatening and therefore evil with all the requisite punishments inflicted. We were on the edge of independence and changes were happening slowly.

    I was impressed that there was this group of people who believed that their abilities were normal, not evil, and capable of being helpful in society. Moreover, they were willing to go against the current grain of thoughts beliefs and ideas to develop, enhance and use those abilities. That made me very happy. I decided to join this group. I had heard among the presentations some of what I had been experiencing since childhood and some that had begun to appear as I matured. I also heard some I did not know about although I had been reading as much on the subject as I could get my hands on. I began to feel at home.

    More importantly I was opening to the idea that this was a normal, natural part of the human experience and that I was not alone in the experience, I had found my tribe. What excited more was the possibility of strengthening my abilities and actually learning how to put them to work for the benefit of others. I was a member of that organization for about 5 years. I learned a lot, I participated in some efforts that excited me and strengthened my comfort in this arena and also gave me a sense of family that I appreciate to this day.

    My experiences with this group changed my perception of the world, especially the world beyond the physical. It has allowed me to experiences of other dimensions, although I must confess some dimensions still throw me for a loop at the first interaction. It however led me into some life changing and life-affirming places that shore me up as life becomes crazed as it can sometimes on this physical plane. It has led me to some dynamic adventures. It was wonderful to have had these experiences when I became interested in Tibetan Buddhism. In a word it totally changed my life and my understanding of life. For that i am externally grateful.

    • Ilana says

      Jenny- It sounds like an amazing experience. I really enjoyed listening to a point of view that I had never considered before and stretching my own mind to understand it. Thank you for sharing it. IM

    • Laura Davis says

      So happy you found your tribe–and had your gifts enhanced and supported rather than having to bury them underground.

  4. Ilana says

    The Truth That Changed My Life Irrevocably

    Oddly, when I first read this prompt I thought, ‘There is no truth that can change my life irrevocably. That’s too dramatic.’ Then the truths that have done just that began to hit me one after another. Truth; the way I cried myself to sleep every night in high school was not normal. Truth; what my brother did to me was not only damaging but actual incest. Truth; none of it was my fault. Truth; I am no less deserving of a happy life than anyone else in the world. I believed none of these truths until recently but it’s the last one that changed my life irrevocably.

    Let me tell you something about Little Ilana M. By virtue of the fact that she was Ilana M, she was a bad person. She did not deserve to be happy. She did not deserve to feel safe or loved. Every breath of oxygen she took in was a favor those around her were doing for the pathetic, dirty and disgusting, little creature she was. She should take up as little time, energy and space as humanly possible because she was deserving of nothing. That’s why she was always apologizing. That’s why she was always begging your pardon.

    I’d been working for almost a year to dispel this belief. It was one I’d used to define myself for more than 30 years. Then, on July 19, 2012 I realized that I no longer believed it. What happened on July 19th? A painful lesson was taught. A vicious blow was delivered but Little Ilana M stood up and said, “That was wrong. I deserve better.” I looked around and realized that the world hadn’t fallen apart. I hadn’t been struck down. Even more shocking, I realized that I believed it myself and I wasn’t going to back down. It wasn’t an easy situation. The people around me would have been very happy to pretend that nothing had happened but I didn’t shut up. I kept saying it until everyone, even I, was forced to hear it.

    Shall I tell you the story of this shocking event? I’d ask your permission but tonight I just don’t think I want to. I’ll tell my story and if you don’t want to hear it, please, feel free to stop reading here. That is your right.

    My story begins at 2:15 on that fateful day. I was at my incest survivors’ support group. It had been a difficult meeting because it was mishandled yet again and Kelly had talked about herself and her problems for a record hour and ten minutes. This week’s episode of ‘The Kelly Show’ was a continuation on last week’s theme. How unfair it was that after five hours of accepting drinks from strangers in a Los Vegas bar, she had passed out in the restroom and woken up in the hospital. “The worst part is that this time what happened is not a consequence of my own actions.” When she finished we had a little under half an hour left to devote to the chosen discussion topic. As we were wrapping up the meeting Donna, our somewhat new facilitator, asked us how we felt survivors of incest should approach sexual intimacy. Only the two of us were there to respond to the question. The only other member who had attended group that day had left early. I answered the question with a quote that had become very precious to me. It got me through a lot of anxiety about how I approached my healing. “Whatever you’re doing, if it’s working for you, you’re doing it right.” Kelly responded with these words. “I don’t agree with you. I’m very biblical. You have to do what the bible says. Besides, that’s exactly what Adolf Hitler did. He did what worked for him.”

    At her words, I became dizzy and a bitter taste filled my mouth. Closing my eyes, visions came unbidden to my mind. I was back in Auschwitz, walking through the gas chamber. Then I was in the middle of the camp, praying Mincha, the afternoon service, on the block where the prisoners were forced to stand for hours every morning for the agonizing roll call. This woman, who knew I was Jewish, had taken something so precious to me and attributed it to the man who had authored the horrors I’d spent my life studying. I started to argue but realized I was too upset. This was not the time to react. I asked Donna if we could talk after the meeting but she said she had to get going. Would I please e-mail her? I said I would.

    I still remember the way it felt, walking out that day. I rushed down the hall, leaving Kelly and Donna with a quick goodbye. This was very different from my usual, lengthy, goodbye wishing everyone a good week. I went home and e-mailed Donna not to worry about me. “I’m fine, was just triggered by something Kelly said.” She responded saying that had noticed some tension as I left. The next day I called the main office to speak with Tracy, Donna’s direct supervisor. I told her that because of financial issues I was considering leaving the group and going to one closer to my home. She was very supportive and understanding. That made it more difficult for me to lie to her and part of the truth came tumbling out. I told her about the hour and ten minutes we had spent on one person. She said that she would definitely deal with that but if I still wanted to leave she’d support my decision. We ended the conversation with me saying I would think about it.

    I read the group ground rules a few extra times to figure out how to deal with the situation. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I could follow rule #16 and bring up problems I had with the group in group rather than outside of group with individuals. I e-mailed Donna again and told her I would be doing this. She e-mailed a thank you for the head’s up and promised to be a kind and effective facilitator. Then at the next meeting on July 25th, we opened our meeting by reading the ground rules as we always did. Donna started to say something and I interpreted that as an attempt to start the meeting before I could talk. I didn’t allow it. Instead I cut her off and said I’d like to talk about rule #14. “I understand that our members come from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. I agree to be respectful of other people’s beliefs.” Then I said, “I have to say this and if it means this is my last five minutes in your group then so be it. I know that I am alone as the only Jewish person in our group. I am the only one who does not believe in Jesus. Still my beliefs are no less important or worthy of respect. Last week someone took something that was very precious to me and attributed it to Adolf Hitler, the man who authored the destruction of six and a half million of my people. I’ve been to the camps. I’ve stood in the gas chambers and prayed on the block where they did roll call. It was horrible to have something that meant so much to me attributed to that monster.” I finally looked up from my lap. In my periphery I could see my shoulders bouncing as if I were having a seizure. That’s how hard I was trembling. Lily, another group member, looked at me and said, “I am a Christian but I have different beliefs from some people and if anyone had done that to me I would be devastated.” Kelly packed up her things. “I am feeling very uncomfortable and I think I’ll leave now.” She threw one more jab at me before reaching the door and stormed out. I looked down at my lap again. “She was the one who said it. That’s why she’s so upset.” We spent the rest of the group processing what had just happened. I apologized to the Lily and Karri, the only other members there, for bringing this up in their group. I knew how supportive everyone has always been of Kelly so I was expecting to be punished. Lily looked at me, “If you are waiting to be kicked out of our group then you’ve got a long wait in front of you.” Karri also said that no apologies were necessary.

    An invitation was issued to both Kelly and me to meet with Donna and Tracy to talk out what had happened. I said that I needed some notice about when it would happen but I’d make it a point to be there. They said they’d let me know when Kelly got back to them. Donna e-mailed me to say that Kelly did not want to meet and planned not to be at group the following week. The morning of the next meeting, August 2nd, Kelly changed her mind and wanted to meet. Tracy tried to tell me but because I did not check my e-mail in time, I did not get her message. I walked in early for my regular group to find that I was just in time to meet with Kelly, Donna and Tracy. Again, trembling and sick I sat and listened to all Kelly had to say. Frightened as I was, I responded with strength and appropriateness to every accusation that Kelly threw at me. Each time, I calmly explained my reasons for my actions. Each time, she had no answer and moved on to another accusation. When it was over I felt like I had stood in the middle of that room with Kelly hitting me and for the first time in my life I had refused to fall down. I had refused to apologize when I did not feel I was wrong. I had refused to pretend the other person’s behavior was acceptable when it wasn’t. I was still frightened but extremely empowered.

    A few days later we all got an e-mail from Donna saying that she was stepping down as our facilitator effective immediately. She said it had nothing to do with anyone in the group but she did not have the strength to say goodbye in person. At our next meeting, on August 9th, Tracy introduced herself as the new facilitator and apologized for what Donna had done. Everyone was upset and frightened. In stark contrast I felt empowered and safe. Kelly made an announcement that she would be leaving the group as well. Many people were there who had not been around for the events that transpired between Kelly and me. They didn’t know why she was leaving. When asked, she said there’d been too much upheaval and she needed a group that was more stable. At first she said this would be her last day but then she changed her mind. She wanted a goodbye party but she wanted to do it when everyone could come to see her off. I sat watching the scene as if from the outside. Nothing she could do was going to hurt me. Nothing was going to scare me. If she stayed in the group, fine. If she left, fine. It was decided that we would be told the date of her party when it was set up.

    I believe our group has been through enough upheaval. What Kelly is doing is wrong. She should have her party right away and let the rest of us settle down into a new routine with our new facilitator. There are members of our group who are very frightened of change and desperately need the stability she is delaying. I am not one of them. I will not be hurt by anything she does. If she continues to come to our group I will continue to have the right to be there anyway. If we have a big party and celebrate her I will be there and I will sign the card. I am safe. I am strong. I will always be okay. The truth has changed my life irrevocably. The truth is I have a right to exist. I have a right to feel safe and I have a right to enjoy my life just like anyone else in the world.

    • Laura Davis says

      Ilana, I’m so glad you stood up for yourself–and am so sorry that your group was so poorly facilitated by leaders who clearly didn’t have the skills not to let one group member dominate–during her tenure in the group and in her departure.

      • Liz F. says

        Here, here; just because some group is dysfunctional, and/or their “leaders” are, does not mean that their stuff has anything to do with us. Bravo for seeing that! I know in the thick of things, however, survivors may not be able to see this due to the effects of being a survivor. It sounds like you are moving right along in your healing….. Bravo!!

        • Ilana says

          Thank you, Laura, Terry and Liz, for your kind words. This triumph meant a great deal to me but being able to share it with this supportive community enriched it so much more. IM

    • Beverly Boyd says

      I saw a great bumper sticker today that reminded me of this story and of some of the other stories that have been shared by you and others on this blog:
      “Speak up…even if your voice shakes!”
      I admire your courage and also that you took the time to check the groups ground rules to guide you.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you Beverly, this was a huge step for me. It has meant so much to share it here and feel you all standing beside me. IM

  5. Terry Gibson says

    Bravo, Ilana. What a triumph over a marathon of having to assert yourself. Your strength inspires me; I still have trouble facing situations that require similar of me. As the song goes, “Keep on. Keeping on.”

  6. Debbie says

    Death is not the end. This realization cracked open my atheistic view of the world which prevailed through my teenage and young adult years.

    I was twelve years old when I formally left the church; organized religion. After weeks of classes in preparation for my confirmation the final task was to meet with the minister. I remember being nervous at the pomp and solemnity of it all. I listened quietly as he explained what the ritual of confirmation meant, the commitment and life choice I was making. When he was finished, he looked expectantly at me for the required acquiescence to his greater knowing.

    I think I tried to smile to in order to soften the blow as I stood up, thanked him for his time and let him know I was not prepared to make that level of commitment to religion and his church in particular. I turned and left the room quickly, the minister still speechless that this “good girl” had rebelled against his creed.

    By twelve years old I already had plenty of reasons to reject religion. My father’s sudden heart attack at age 42 and his descent into full blown alcoholism. And even earlier than that, at age seven I had witness first hand the bigotry and hypocrisy of those proclaiming to love God but unable to love their fellow man.

    Not long after my sixth birthday my family had moved back from Upland, California to LaGrange, Georgia – a small south Georgia town on the Alabama border. Even at six, I experienced the culture shock of moving from a progressive, urban environment back a good twenty years in time. When a young man from Kenya, who had lived with us in California on a student exchange program, came to visit – I can still remember the gunshots blasts aimed up the long driveway toward our home and hear the racial epitaphs being shouted against my father, mother and our guest.

    I was surprised to overhear my father saying these had to be folks from church because how else would they have known. For months after that, every Sunday I would carefully watch the men in the church looking for some careless clue that would give away their true identity. A couple of years later , the preacher of my parent’s church suggested that they would “fit in better” in another town. This was after they had already been stripped of their coveted youth leadership roles due to their progressive views on racial equality. Not too long after that, we did move to Atlanta, Georgia, back to a much larger city.

    I think I understand today how much my father had hoped that the bucolic life on a fifty acre farm would be his legacy to the family. I, myself, have to come to realize the trade offs of small town living are often personal freedoms and privacy.

    So by the time I was twelve, I was well versed in the hypocrisy of religion. Frankly, when I returned home from the final meeting of my confirmation training and announced I was not going to join the church, my parents were much too distracted by the dysfunction of addiction to pay much attention. Late in my teenage years and early twenties, I experienced the more direct cruelties of sexual and emotional abuse in my own dysfunctional marriage.

    By my mid-twenties I was firmly ensconced in my belief that death was the end. The flame of the candle went out and that was it. It had been and was no longer. End of story. I was comfortable with these ideas. Sometimes even comforted to think it could be over like blowing out a candle; no more pain, no more cruelty, no more tears.

    Then, at twenty-six, my father died of cancer. I was able to keep my promise to him that he would not die in a hospital “stuck full of tubes” with the help of hospice. I was able to participate in his care and be at his side when he died. There were no deathbed conversions, no epiphanies of faith. I was a scientist. I needed facts and replicable experiences.

    Two days before my father died he gave me one of the most precious gifts of my life. He suddenly regained the ability to speak which he had lost about six weeks earlier. We thought, as most families do, that he was getting better. I know now that he was rallying to share with us one more time before he left.

    He looked at my sister and I and said “I don’t want lots of tears at my funeral”. At which point we both immediately started to cry. But somehow the words from the hospice team found their way to my lips and I was able to ask him how he felt about what was happening. And he said “I’m kinda scared but I’m also kinda excited.” The last great journey for a man who had longed for travel and adventure all his life. Those words, that sentence, was his gift.

    At first it was just a small fissure in my belief system. If my father, hovering between two worlds, felt there was more ahead – might there really be something more? My mind, once stretched to this idea, could not return to the complacency of before. And over the time life experiences jostled open that crack with each passing year until, eventually, there was enough warmth and light for a budding sense of spirituality to grow.

      • Debbie says

        Thank you. It was a gift to me and totally reframed my concept of death. I appreciate the venue to share a moment so special to me.

    • Ilana says

      Debbie- You have stretched my mind too. I have learned in this forum to open my mind and hear what seems foreign to me. I need, right now, to feel safe in the belief that when I die it will be, as you originally said, then end; no more tears, no more pain. However, listening to what you went through and what your father shared with you, now us, I cannot help but give credence to the possibility that there is more out there. It’s a scary thought for me right now. Maybe after I read this a few more times I will get comfortable with it ;). Thank you for sharing and helping me grow. IM

  7. Terry Gibson says

    This story is a continuation of my post under “An Elegant Solution.” It isn’t finished but I needed to pour some of it out. Explore and feel that energy it stokes in me, some of which I hope will be released. * Another note, there is racism in this piece. It is what I grew up with and I include it only for accuracy and to help further the confused state I lived in. It does not reflect anything I believe personally.

    “What’s your name?” he asked, while keeping his eyes on the road. I snuck a glance at him. His hair was dark brown and parted just like the drummer in my uncle’s band. He reached over and turned the radio up a bit louder.

    Suddenly, I had a flash of the words Mom regularly hurled at me over dinner. “What you need,” she spat, “… is four big black guys to hold you down and show you what it’s all about. Her blotched furious face was too close to me. I felt trapped and wanted to swing at her. “You think you’re too good for what a woman is all about!” I felt like I was suffocating. Imploding. “If one of you kids ever hit me …” she vowed. “I’ll kill you.”

    “Terry,” I answered, cutting off her rant in my brain.

    ‘Rape.’ She used that word. When she said it, I felt my stomach and facial muscles twist, tighten, and hurt. I wanted to look it up but with my luck, Mom would catch me digging in the dictionary, let alone removing it from her bookcase. I didn’t know what it was or how it happened. I did know it would make me a slut, something I suspected had to do with that thing I didn’t talk about. And never would. A bad thing. Dreams. A kaleidoscope of colour, the only time I ever felt happy. Maybe I already was one because I took a ride with this guy. Wait. I was a ‘slut’ anyway because of my brother.

    “I’m Tom.” He said, startling me, snapping me back to the present. When he wanted to shake hands, I backed away. I never shook hands before and was sure I would do it wrong. Inside, I winced. I was so nervous. I didn’t think or calculate. Out my hand went. I did it right! I was so happy! His hand was warm and strong. I let go quickly.

    He was too nice, I decided. He wouldn’t do a rape to me. I let the thought go, let worry fly out the open window. Bob went nuts on Sunday drives when I was finicky about my hair and wanted the window rolled up. I turned my face full into the wind, which sent my long hair shooting off in all directions. I laughed as the wild breeze lapped at a paper on Tom’s dash and almost sent it sailing out the back window. I caught it for him while he yanked open the glove compartment. I stuffed the mail safely inside and he slammed the door shut. We laughed.

    Four hours later, I sat down at a bus stop in downtown Toronto, keeping my cosmetic bag safely secured between my feet. I didn’t know what to do; the only city I had been in before was Trenton. Toronto was new to me. The blaring horns, knee jerk motion of the cars and trucks, and hundreds of people crossing the street at all different corners. The heat radiated off the street and I wanted to swim at the tiny beach in Brockport.
    I started feeling too conspicuous. I pulled out the old newspaper I brought with me. Running my finger down the column, I easily found where I had written down the address and phone number. I had no map or clue where I was going. I felt very thirsty and a bit like I was going to throw up.
    A flash went through my head from two years earlier—of Mom staying with me in the bathroom while I puked up her bottle of Anacin. That was probably the nicest she had ever been to me. She usually offered us potato chips after they kicked over the kitchen table and he beat me with his fists. I laughed suddenly, remembering that that was the night I refused to eat the huge stack of potatoes Bob put on my plate. True to his promise, he picked up a half-potato and smashed it right into my mouth and down my throat. With his hand clamped over my mouth, I gagged, red-faced, not able to breathe properly, crying, and wanted to puke all over him. When I realized tears stung my eyes, I stopped them, still trying to swallow, screaming at him without a sound, and felt my eyes narrow and my chest burn with a pure hatred of him.

    I felt myself sinking with the memory, both good and bad, but turned it off in a split-second. I was good at that and could do it well. Take that, Bob. I was doing my running away well too. I would show the bastard. First, I was really hungry.

    I didn’t get a chance to eat before I left home and had no food with me. I had to get there. I had no idea how much time had gone by and needed a bathroom. Sucking in a deep breath, I regained my composure and remembered this was the happy I dreamed about for so long. All those hours I ground away, pumping my bicycle for an hour, to the whine of that broken radio we found in the garbage. Everything was for this. Yes. It was a whole lot more relaxing than five minutes at home on a Saturday in summer.

    As I wiped the sweat from my forehead, I noticed a man about Bob’s age who leaned against the wall of a red brick grocery store. He wore a wrinkled white shirt and blue jeans, something I could hardly wait to get–given denim was banned in my house. That was looking in my direction. No. He was looking at me and smiled when our eyes met. He seems nice, I thought, and averted my eyes.

    A policeman stood on the corner talking to people. When I looked back, the man was gone. There were so many people. Wait. There he was again. I spotted him right beside the elderly woman crossing the street. I watched her struggle to walk but saw she was arm in arm with a girl who could’ve been her granddaughter. I saw the blue jeans guy drop his cigarette on the ground and crush it under his shoe while lots of people hurried along their way.

    I yanked at the handle of my bag and got up from the bench. He wasn’t watching me. I always overreacted to things, stuff that was really nothing. What was I going to do? I was starving so I walked right up to the Officer and set my cosmetic bag down beside me. I was so flustered, I don’t know what I said to him. My eyes were glued on the guy who approached and was only a couple feet away. Looking through him at first, I dared to meet his glance and broke into a big smile! I gloated at him, from my new place of safety. Inside, I laughed and my spirits soared.

    The Officer handed me back my paper and directed me just around the corner. How lucky. The Police Station was only one hundred feet away. “Somebody there will know where you’re going,” he said with kindness.

    • says

      Terry, I’m amazed at your recall. It’s great that you have the kind of memory you have! Obviously this is a first draft–I had some trouble following the characters and the events at first, but underneath that, there’s a passionate strong character developing, and I’m already rooting for her. I’m excited to see the larger piece as it develops.

    • Ilana says

      I love it, Terry- Your last installment of this story left me wanting more. I hope you will continue the story in future posts. You, again, wove painful details in with the safety of hope. Great job! IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      Laura and Ilana, Thank you both. Yes. It’s as first draft as it gets. Sorry for confusion. Everything was confusing so maybe it works? J/K. What is underlying is what I see too. I’m excited as I see it develop and where my instinct is taking me. You two are an amazing support team to have!

  8. Bobbie Anne says

    I like the idea of a mind being stretched and full of new ideas. I was the middle child and the most ‘responsible’ one given adult responsibilites. My mom was an alcoholic and abusive, and my dad was codependant and abusive. I endured verbal, mental, and physical abuse. At one point, I wanted to be a ballerina. I was told there wasn’t enough money for dancing lessons. Yet my sister had guitar lessons and the other family members had music lessons. I’d like to share this with you:


    Youthful dreams of
    becoming a ballerina
    mind full of fantasy
    while doing dishes
    middle child of seven
    so many chores
    a baby to mind and
    hand-me-downs to hem
    dancing on my toes
    while baking bread
    the mop was my partner
    while cleaning floors
    pretending to be in the ballet
    gave me a chance to escape
    lost in rhythm while
    laundry waited to be hung
    now I can dance
    anytime I want to
    danciing away my troubles
    dancing away my pain
    won’t you be my partner
    and dance with me?


    • Beverly Boyd says

      Bobbie Anne,
      I’m so glad you went back to this earlier prompt and posted you poignant reply. I was the oldest of five, the responsible one, mother’s helper, but I was fortunate to have parents who did as much as possible within a limited income to give us each the opportunities to develop what we were interested in. I had seven children and always tried to help them find a way to do what they were interested in.
      I’m glad you are dancing now! That feels so joyful!

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