The Color of Shit
This is a journal entry from a few years ago. I was going to break it into two parts to make it more palatable, but I figured, why drag it out? Be forewarned, it is not for the faint of heart. My future posts will not all be this dark, I promise, but it feels important to shine the light on everything, in order to make it whole. There is no shame in pain, and from this dark night of visiting the demons came incredible transformation.
My goal now is simply to share, with the hope that my story, in its rawness and its healing, will inspire healing in others. There is light after the darkness, after all. There is even light that comes from the darkness, a beautiful new branch of the same crooked tree…
Sunday, 4:00 a.m.:
It’s not such a great night. I’m having some strong feelings, and I hope I can describe effectively the intricacies of the shadow. Of my shadow, if I’m honest. I am not in the mood to take such ownership of it, but I suppose I must. It is a shadow that, while we all possess one, belongs solely to me, and it’s a doozy.
Yesterday I visited (my daughter and her boyfriend), and I got to see the two of them together in the way that they are, laughing, snuggling, talking in their easy way. They weren’t putting on a show, they weren’t on the up end of the downswing. While they fight like normal couples, they just ARE that happy and comfortable with one another. That is their normal. Writing it brings tears to my eyes. They are tears of sadness, but not because I’m sad for her. The fact that my daughter, a person of my battered lineage, is in a relationship so healthy and fulfilling is a dream come true. It is beyond anything I could’ve imagined. My joy for her goes beyond words, and every time I leave the two of them, I am tempted to say to Seth, along with my goodbye, “Thank you,” for being so amazing to my child. To my baby.
That she gets to experience this life, where she knows such love, abundance and calm, is astounding to me. It’s actually difficult for me to wrap my brain around, that at the age of 20 she can experience such peace and have so much power over her world, as I have only my own perverse life as an adolescent and young adult with which I can compare. Me at her age, spending nearly 10 years pining after a boy to whom I meant absolutely nothing, a boy so damaged that he would eventually serve a life sentence in maximum-security prison for shooting a woman in the face and leaving her body in the gutter. That personifies the depths of evil and disempowerment with which I am familiar. My daughter knows of this evil only from movies, and for that I am eternally grateful.
As I feel the darkness of my experience alongside the light of hers, I grieve for what I didn’t have, and I grieve for what I did have. I don't have the strength to move, and yet I want to run, scream at the top of my lungs, clamor out of my body from the pain of it. The malevolence of it. Not from my ex alone, as he wasn’t the cause, but the symptom of a dysfunction planted long before we ever met. The love that my daughter is able to experience is the antithesis of the covert hatred that was the only love I had ever known, the only love I thought I deserved. Oh, I wish I had better words. Maybe I can come back and articulate it more clearly. Honestly, I don’t have it in me to be creative and eloquent right now. It’s all I can do to get the words out. I’ll make sense of it later, for the book.
I am in what I call the Unlove, and I can’t find my way out. I know that the combination of triggering experiences I had yesterday, including watching Isabella and Seth so easy with one another, are contributing to the feelings, but I can’t make my way to the place where I can find the Love. I can’t find the doorway from the pain to the awareness of my own worth. Often there is a path that I can hook myself into, an aha, a tool that transforms the pain into understanding, even transformation. For me, getting myself out of the spiral is sort of like solving a math equation. I have a formula. I acknowledge it, trace it back to the Original Pain, honor it and allow myself to feel it from the perspective of Love and nurturing and then, blam, I get it. I am led to the solution, the light, and off I go, happy again, growing and moving forward in my new-found knowledge, a level higher than I was before.
But I can’t find it. I simply feel like I have been hit by a truck. In the depths of the night, where my darkness lives the strongest, the events of the day have metastasized, and I am overtaken by the atrocities of my past. There aren’t really words to express it, because it’s less about memories and more of just an energy for me now. The same energy as Ted Bundy being a handsome, effervescent man AND a gruesome murderer all at the same time. Not only does the murder and the murderer have an energy, but the paradox has its own energy, its own gruesomeness. My life was so normal, dehumanizing acts of violence aside…
In times such as this, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by my pain, I have been known to compare myself to people who have experienced barbarity such as watching their family members murdered in front of them, or having been gang raped by solders, etc., and I think, “Who am I to say that I have experienced such darkness?? My dad sexually abused me, my mom ignored it and wouldn’t connect with me. Big fucking deal. Nearly everyone is sexually abused at some point, in some way. I had food, shelter, a stable home. My mom had a yummy dinner on the table for us all at exactly 5:30 every night. My dad was an engineer, loved by all. We went to Disneyland every year, for God’s sake. Why do my nights, and days like today, feel this INCREDIBLY dark???”
Sometimes I can’t connect with the answer to that, lost in the mindfuck of it all. But today, I think I can. Today, only because I’ve written, I can unwind it and feel the depths of what I’ve gone through. I can start by saying, simply, that not being loved alone just feels like shit, period. It makes you do nutty, desperate things. It makes you lose your way. And my personal Unlove oftentimes feels like… murder. As dramatic as it sounds, I’ll honor it, as for me it is truth. In my heart, pieces of my childhood have the same dark, perverted, sadistic, vile, paralytic qualities as murder. I wonder how it feels for others.
The adult, more seasoned part of me knows that this feeling comes as the result of having been deprived of an inalienable right, of not being seen and loved for who I am, deepened by the helpless terror of being victimized by the very people who were supposed to love and protect me from harm. Oh, and add to it the layer of having not a soul to whom I could go for support, or validation, or even a different perspective than the one I was forced to own. The grownup in me knows, and these days she is mostly in charge. But right now, in the depths of night, without the safe, warm glow of the sun to envelop me, the little girl and adolescent who experienced it all first-hand just can’t see her way through the darkness.
At this moment, and many others in my life, there is one memory in particular that overtakes me. Interestingly, it contains no other people and no horrible actions. It is simply the vision of my childhood living room. I shudder just thinking of it, which is strange, considering how calm it is. I’ve mentioned it over and over in journals, I am certain, because that single memory captures so much…
There is no beginning. I do not walk into the room from another room. In my memory I am simply there, looking towards the east at the darkly stained oak record cabinet on the back wall of the tiny space. A light is on somewhere, but I have no idea where. I don’t know what kind of light it is that could cast the sickly orange glow that permeates every space, every crevice. It isn’t the glimmer of moonlight streaming in through a window. It isn’t the warm glow emanating from a lamp bulb somewhere in the periphery. It isn’t the kind of light that throws a shadow. This light IS the shadow, and the whole room is shrouded in it. Its source feels flat and unnatural, like when you mix together all the colors of paint and are left with that murky, lifeless brown. It is, simply, the color of shit.
In the instant that I’m there, I feel both like something is coming after me and like whatever it is doesn’t care enough to come. I am alone in a way that can only be described in the context of who should be there but isn’t. The room signifies danger and emptiness all at the same time. It is ugly, and lifeless, and reeks of the finality of hopelessness. Don’t bother trying to call out, it is of no use, no one is there to help. This just IS, stale, flat, void of soul. It is futile, trying to make it anything other than what it is, a small orange box filled with depravity and contradiction, the container of my life for 19 years.
That word, depravity. It has rung my bell. The definition:
moral corruption; wickedness.
· a wicked or morally corrupt act.
· CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY
the innate corruption of human nature, due to original sin.
The innate corruption of human nature, due to original sin. It is the Unlove. The loss of myself to it, to them. There is no one who cares to help me, let alone to know me. Not only are they not going to provide me with the wonderous delight of reciprocity, they are also not going to help keep me safe, because they are the ones causing me harm. My saviors are the darkness.
Lying here, pinned under the heaviness of it all, I’m searching for the position in which I can find comfort. In doing so, I can’t help but remember the way that it felt, physically, that innate corruption, having my body become an inanimate object. The memory of my ex coming home from the biker bar that was a block away from our house in Venice, or wherever he’d been for the two days he was gone. When he entered the room I could see that he wasn’t there, his eyes dark and crazed, the indicator that his soul hadn’t come in with him. Being trapped on the wrong side of the door to the bedroom, I held out hope that I was wrong about that, that his twisted smile was instead a reflection of his relief at finally being home. I was wrong, I soon learned, as his smile grew more odious, and my fears were confirmed.
I remember only pieces of what happened next. The nefarious look in his eyes as he penetrated my soul, making sure I knew that what was happening was inhuman, that he didn’t see me as human. Making sure that we were united in that. His dark brown eyes were black then, simultaneously sharp and hyper-focused, but also dull and blurry, gone; black holes sucking me into a void of nothingness.
I remember the way everything was happening in slow motion, his rising up and down on top of me, the smirk on his face as he peered into my eyes, stealing my essence like a thief. Were they filled with terror, my eyes? Or was I glaring at him? Or, perhaps, they were lifeless, glazed over, as I fixated on the smell of his breath, acrid and sour from half-digested alcohol.
His eyes, the smell, the sound of his breath, of his skin slapping against mine, the thickness of the air in which I was suspended; this is what I remember. The sound of my own voice, fighting loudly at first, then fading as the energy drained away and emptiness filled the space, like being in a car as it settles to the bottom of the ocean. I surrendered to it, just like that, and all that was left was hopelessness. Hopelessness has a sound. It’s the absence of sound, really, a cacophony of vacuousness so loud it is deafening. I can imagine that’s what it sounds like to be floating out in space, untethered from your ship and left to die.
Then, the end, what was left after he groaned and … what happened then? He probably rolled over and fell asleep, leaving me to clean up the mess, but I don’t remember.
Just like in my living room, it is the emotional desolation that I remember most. I look at my body now, in particular my hips, and think of them being treated as if they did not house a soul. My ex and father, both, they wanted me to know the effects of them inside me, overpowering me, robbing me blind. That was the fun of it. That was the whole point, the taking. The replacing me with them.
And again in the morning it happened, in the light of day, by my mother, in her feigning ignorance. Hiding behind her pearls and nightly scotch on the rocks, emotional desolation, same. In her absence, in her refusal to acknowledge it, me, all, she stole a very precious part of me.
Thank you, God, for helping me get it back.
I am just so sad. So incredibly sad. It’s all I can do to sit here and type. I can barely make the words come out, but I have to describe this while it’s up, while it’s fresh, while it feels so real. I spend a lot of time in the light, surrounded by so much love and appreciation, but there are times when my experience is bigger than my consciousness, and I drown. Tonight, I am drowning, and I suppose that’s okay.