Narrator: RealMe. Little Me needs to step away for a good long while. I am by the North Sea where I have spent several special occasions in this very old gatekeeper’s cottage; it’s familiarity soothes something deep within me, a place so primal and eternal that I feel reintroduced to my own heart, my dogged determination and please bare with me when I whisper to you my secret idealisation, a very old soul called ME. From my bed with floral bed curtains in green, muted red and golden hints I sit carefully propped up to convalesce both my body and my mind. I look out of the iron crossed windows, down to marshy meadows where the inlets water is smooth; no winds have begun to blow which I often enjoy as they give me a natural resource to recharge my vitality . Tuesday I fell in the bathroom in my beloved 1700’s farmhouse injuring three ribs and spent the better part of two days in hospital and Doctor’s appointments. This has occurred one week short of my flight to the best CRPS, that is Chronic Repetitive Pain Syndrome, rehabilitation hospital in Sweden. I have had fear of how I’ll manage with my additional pain and travel with out conflict, yet when I woke this morning to the foggy gray skies, the solitude of the sea and the ease of no no frustrations a wisp of hope wrapped around me like the arms of an old friend and gently said, ” you can do this”. It is true, I can and I will. This special cottage is strong, durable and has seen centuries of storms. The spirits here unite and gather around me and lift my head up, warm my heart that was growing bitter and sway me so gently that I know I can control Little Me and face the new year with hopefulness. So, to you my readers I send simplicity, a lot of love from one survivor to the next. May a season of bliss welcome us into 2023.
Rock watches from the corner of his eye as Lm takes a long inhale of a pretend cigarette. She is satisfied she is back in her dank quarters, just the two of them without disturbance. Rock has told her she is far from healed and that acceptance of her past eases her presence and will lead to a healthier future. ” Oh yay”, Lm replied, ” a healthy future is so enticing!”. Lm is not believing in Rock or the future full of smiles, love and peace anymore. She is overcooked, baked to a crisp and hard. Rock assures her that if she continues to tell her TRUTH, her story, that she will overcome all of her pain. Lm knows that even if one person saw beyond her soft blue eyes she’d be leary. Everyone, every single person in her world is backing away, and she knows that she has only her pain mentally, physically and emotionally to count on waking her at three a.m. She pulls out a drawer full of photos and sees herself at seven with BadDad and the nice girlfriend at a protest. She’s sad, looking down and he is oblivious. The word of the day, her life and relationships, with her mother and father is oblivious. Obviously oblivious.
“I really thought I’d lost my grip on you Lm!” Rock doesn’t sweat; he has kept a solid eye on Lm. “You’ve been out cold; this was your first setback in years.” Lm scoots close to Rock, leaning her weak frame against his rawness, his realness and stares blankly. Lm was triggered by chronic pain, severe non-stop agony, her attempts to keep herself together crumbled. She ran away from herself which is when the hauntings of BaDDaD and a feeling of distrust take control of her persona. She is edgy, frightened by her own meltdown. Rock pulls her up the dank stairwell and let’s fresh air in through the doorway to her soul. She inhales and shivers with small tears of disappointment. “I’ve been doing so well Rock, you are supposed to keep me safe! It’s your fault you asshole. You are an ugly piece of old cement, all dried up into the most pathetic piece of whatever. Who cares? Not me. Why do you scowl at me? Why can’t I lose you or better yet throw you into the sea where you belong. Stupid Rock! “I am part of you Lm, in fact I am you.” “Holy crap, now I’ve heard everything, you are me?” Rock is still and listens as Lm curses, throws handfuls of small pebbles at him and she pushes him down the stairwell. Rock is not hurt. He lies there in the dark while she rants and raves about what a fool he is. Finally she slams the door shut and bolts it herself then one step at a time she carefully goes to the dark, sad place where Rock is lying patiently. She lifts him up and stares at him. It’s a lonely place without him, the all knowing piece of her, the one that takes over the helm when she is wrought with pain, physical, mental or emotional. She wants to thank him but chews on her fingers instead. Her hair is a tangled mess, just like her heart. Under her breath she whispers, “I love you Rock.”
Bound by societal conformation we adorn our fingers with proof we are part of another; we have consigned within ourselves to be part of a whole. As a pair, wedded or not, both persons give part of their sentient “SELF” away. Inside the heart’s overflowing bloody pool many are tredding and desperatly clinging to reach the shore and shake off the idea of identifying themselves as seperate; like a wet labrador retriever humans often dedicate their entire lives to this bigger entity called marriage. Leashed, we toddle along and are faithful to our significant other in roughly 75.9% of human to human relationships. Yet, what if you were never whole on your own to begin with? Entrapped like a caged chimpanzee, your inner being never came forth. Lm was and is still hidden under layers of sediment and has never been set completely free. What does freedom really mean? How does her dedication to another feel when she is only a ghost of herself? Lm is not bound by religous doctrine and her insecurities wrestle with her pride daily. Why do people hide behind their roles, children or religion? What exactly is friendship? What makes one fear being who they are? Rock allows Lm much freedom to explore without guidelines. As far back as I can remember I have been shocked when others hurt me. It’s as if I have no shield between the real world and my heart. If I am betrayed I am not very good at forgiving. Where does this come from? I recently opened a door to a haunting memory at a southern USA summer church camp. I had one good friend joining me on this adventure and there would be new youth from all over the state of Tennessee to converge into this lovely, peaceful setting. I had my menstruation as I recall and was in much pain and couldn’t get in the pool. In the girl’s dorm before lights out I wrote in my journal and slipped it under my pillow each night. I described breakfast, vespers by campfires, the piney smell of the forest and my activities of the day. Each night at the campfire there was a boy who I thought was very cute and had a mean crush on. Note to all blossoming empathetic beings, never leave your journal where it can be found by others or in particular, don’t trust that good people won’t do bad things. I looked daily at the activity sign up sheet and made sure I was in whatever group he was going to be in that day. I laughed at his jokes, smiled with my shiny braces and always looked to see where his eyes wandered around when we met for campfire sharing before bedtime. My friend who came with me was very outgoing and had a sense of confidence I did not. She was the oldest of in her family of three sisters and one foster brother. We did not attend the same school however so my relationship with her was built on our both being in the loosely labeled ” Non-Denominational Christian Youth Group” in my part of the state. She would call me and ask if I was going to youth group each week and if I was going our mothers took turns picking us up. We also took ballet, tap and jazz dance lessons together and mall walked on Saturday nights together sometimes. She would become to me the monumental meaning of ” two-faced”, a term used in school amongst clicks talking about who could and could not be trust worthy. The depth of my innocence and lack of competence in social circles hadn’t hit me yet. I was not only the naive one in most situations but also the silly one. If I had no idea what to do I would make others laugh. Laughing was and is a good thing unless you become the target of others cruel wit. As camp neared the end of the two week stint I shared with my friend who had taken the long bus trip to western Tennessee with me that I had a crush on this boy. Unbeknownst to me was she already knew. Customary at camp was to give our new friends our addresses and many took photos. I asked my friend to please get a photo of me with this sweet boy and I would then suggest we exchange addresses. I stood as close to him as possible and he draped his right arm behind my neck and over my shoulder in full camp pal mode. I got his address and ran back to tuck it into my journal. What? Where was my diary? A sting swelled in my cheeks as if I had been slapped and tears broke loose. We were to all sit on the cabin steps for a group photo and I didn’t go back out. My youth counselor came in to find me and asked me why I was upset. As I told her my journal was missing she said that surely it must have fell behind my bunk bed when I was packing my things to go home and she would help me find it after. Teenage or middle aged trigger warning bells are chiming. I sit down and my friend asked me what was ” that all about?” and I told her. After the group’s picture was taken we were to pick up our lunches prepacked in the dining hall to eat on our buses home. I ran to get mine and as I was heading back to my room I saw my counselor with my journal in her hand; she always had a happy smile that all youth group leaders have, “I found it on the lower bunk.” I was grateful but certainly confused. We loaded our bus to the Nashville suburbs and my crush boarded his bus to far eastern Tennessee. My friend sat next to me and we ate our Lay’s potato chips first and giggled about different things we’d experienced all the way home. When we got off the bus I gave her a hug, never expecting it to be my last. I gave my film to my mother to have developed when she was driving. She stuck it in her purse and asked me lots of questions. I couldn’t find words to talk to my mother. I wanted to say I had a crush on a boy and I froze. I never could openly talk with my mother and I wasn’t about to start then. Days before school was to start my mother came home from work with my camp pictures developed. Excitedly I looked at each one and threw away the ones blurry with my big thumb also in them then, wait! What was this? My mother was near but busy making dinner yet she heard my outburst of tears and saw me run to my bed and do a full face down on my mattress kicking my legs and sobbing. She couldn’t understand my words but kept asking what was wrong. She looked at the picture and didn’t see what I did. As my photo was examined my TRUST, my Loyal Beagle friendship myth was broken. There I was with the boy who I had a secret crush on that only one person knew about. My holier than thou church pal who’d taken the photograph had also not only read my journal but given it to him to read also. There I stood like a fool, the rush of being close to this boy had my eyes reflecting my giddiness and well, the boy with one arm around my neck hanging over my shoulder had his other hand pulling my journal out from under his tee-shirt from the back. Yes, my friend took this photo and had shared my secret. Trust crumbled and I was unconsolable. On youth group night I overheard my mother speaking to my ex-friend’s mother about who was driving and I ran to her and motioned for her to cover the wall phone’s speaker. I blurted out I wasn’t going because I had a headache. My mother finished her conversation and hung up. A headache. She felt my head. I didn’t feel warm. I got out of this one night of humiliation yet I did not get out of my life sentence of anxiety when attempting to make new friends. To this very day that memory still comes up. I still take on the smiling persona that Rock helped Lm build to bravely navigate through social situations and sadly, this would not be my first lesson on friendship and meaningful communication. I would be hurt again and again because I cared too much. Today’s goal is strengthening my boundaries and my family which I have built on one solid foundation, Love and Trust. I am a good friend to hold onto however, without doubt I will remain in my stairwell peeking out at anyone new who wants to try to know me. I am still recovering. Still easily bruised and I am still fighting to understand what makes Lm happy.
It’s key is hidden, I misplaced it among my own feelings again. I am alone inside a body that lets me down, hurts me and I can’t get out. I see me walking like Jesus across the sea and then sink without a fight, drowning in my mysterious mind. I am so grateful yet undeserving of salvation. Sanctuaries for Love should be everywhere, not just for those seeking redemption from our earthly delights that were indulgent or a sinful play that some grand Creator would frown upon. The gates are always open to love more, release ourselves from our own arrogant beliefs. I am burdened by carrying me through life; how then can I carry some one else? I see a white wooden columned southern USA colonial home with a long drive and weeping willows, a big porch and spinning ceiling fans. I am the youngest broken one there and I try to cheer my southern company with kind regards and smiles. I am in a sanctuary where I no longer feel like a worthless woman. I make a difference because I am not in the agony that I rise and face each morning. I can quit because I will no longer ruin other’s good times or my own. I can be quiet. I can be kept and have tea and maybe sometimes I will wonder about Jesus and God and bad and good but I will be my own judge as my heart is pure.
Soon he would say goodbye, doubtful his first taste of love would wait; boarding on the longship would begin at sunrise after two more nightfalls. He was not at ease nor feeling dutiful to set sail, his rough, calloused hands had been assigned to row, his grey eyes already set on defeat. In the chilly night he and his lover kept warm under a sheath of tanned hide; a warm fire encircled with stones lit up their faces. His lover was cold, she had been sweating earlier and she shared with him that perhaps she was carrying his baby. It had been two moons since her last cleansing. He held her close and rubbed her hands in his own. All night he stayed up, keeping the fire crackling and he called for a wise woman to look at his betrothed. He was given garlic for his neck and a tonic that tasted bitter as nettles to sip. He must prepare to board the longship and not fall ill. The woman wiped carefully with cool cloths the forehead and the nape of his lady’s neck and said she should be moved to the women’s tent so he too might rest. He was reluctant yet never questioned this miracle of her gifts from the God’s and believed in the sunrise of his departure his love would encircle him with the other strong women and sing a prayer to the heavens. At last he fell asleep and the fire dwindled. He was a large man, of long height with a wooly red beard; for years he had been called to help others lift heavy logs, roll stones and fell trees for boat building. His stomach grumbled and his dreams brought him no peace. His eyes closed, his mouth agape, a gurgling snore erupted. Deep within his dream state he saw his own mother, her pale white face, her eyes weary yet loving; she spoke. “Son of Gudrun, son of Ove, lift your spirit up to see. It’s been eighteen moons since we saw you. Your sister Ulla is here, too. Their faces were like a portrait in beautiful pastel inks. The heavens were soft as the first spring day when the sight of white and purple forest flowers burst through the edges of the footpath, gay as the laughter of friends when the sun was long in the sky, days were easier, their heart’s lightened by the dark winter’s end. Time for merriment and the smell of baking bread, the homecoming of the longship, strong fermented ales and hearty stews and loaves of bread with berries he could taste so sweet; stirred he woke with a gasp. One sunrise had come. He stood and walked to the women’s healing tent and the flaps were sewn shut with thick leather. “Naaaaay”, he screamed and he ran to the morning fire keepers boiling coffee and sharing porridge. Breathless, he asked if his lady was in the tent still. Blue eyes looked at one another and down. He knew the answer. He kicked the first iron pot and it swung from it’s iron chains molted flawlessly by the black smith and his apprentice. Hot scalding water splashed and the men jumped back. An old man who laid on sheep skin by the fire called for him to sit by him. His heart rapid, his cheeks red with rage, he succumbed to his elder. ” What can you say to comfort me?” The man, thin and weak voiced motioned for the giant, frightened man to sit beside him. “Are you the son of Gudrun and the sister of Ulla?” The old man already knew but asked even so. “Ya, I am.” Do you think, son of Ove that your father created such acts of arrogance when the God’s called his wife and daughter up?” Silence. “What name did they leave you?” “I am Per Ove’s son.”Well Per Ovesson do you dare to guess the will of the heavens? Are you in fear of the sea and hunger? Are you a messenger or do you serve?” ” I serve.” The so very big man, Per, son of Gudrun and Ove, brother of Ulla wept. The elderly man handed Per a smooth stone to rub and called for porridge. The big man, the thin elder and the fire keepers stood close. One by one they placed a hand on his shoulder and walked on. Night fell again and he laid by his fire alone sipping the bitter nettle tea. He did not want to dream and the silence soothed him. It had been nine cut logs when a woman he’d never seen came to stand before him. “You may see your lady now”. His lips felt numb, his eyes ashamed and he said, “Why do you want me to feel more pain?” The woman outstretched her hand and he stood. When they came closer to the tent the woman lifted the flap and there lay a clump of deep red flesh upon his lover’s abdomen. He moved closer and felt confused. Take the flesh and all of it’s blood and bury it deep in the forest. His lady did not breathe and small stones were on each eye. He did as told by the healer. Without sleep and it being soon the second sunrise he fought to keep focused on his task. Big tears from a big man with the heart of a child fell steadily down his face. When he returned he went to his fire to sleep and there sat the woman again with a white bundle of heavy fur. She stood and handed him a baby. “How can this be? My lady only missed two moons.” The woman smiled and said, “the God’s were good” and asked him to bestow a name before he sat sail. In a state of both sorrow and beauty he said, ” this is the son of Per, the son of Lea. He shall be blessed with the name of Liam.” The woman promised him the babe would be well fed and when he returned the baby would be his comfort. Per kissed his son’s forehead and slept with him in his arms until sunrise. The healers had prepared Lea’s body to be sent to sea where she would be taken up to the God’s quickly. He held one side of his love’s canvas and birch sewn raft. He did not weep for she had left him reason to believe that more would come to be good. The women sang as the longship prepared to launch. The sky was yellow and afire with sunrise. The horns blew and he pulled in unison with his mates. By sunset they placed Lea on her raft and she floated away from the boat, away from the father of Liam, the son of Ove, the son of Gudrun and the brother of Ulla. In the night the high waves plunged over the stern and wailed upon the starboard, the longship albeit strong rocked with brutal fervour. Per was the lead, each pull he thought of Liam, each horn he heard his mother calling. The God’s were trying his strength in a way he never had experienced, he was not only strong in his body now but also in his soul. The storm settled and he was sent to rest. A cool wind soothed his sweaty bruised hands and his lips cracked from the salty winds from the North Sea leaked sweet bits of blood. His thirst was mighty and he was given water with herbs to keep him quiet. His cough came on fast, deep and he heard other’s coughing, too. He spat green, thick phlegm into the sea. He hung his head over, the winds cooling his dizzying state. The head of the ship was also spewing a sickness from his body over board. Few men could guide the longship, and one by one they fell, coughing, wailing in pain, and now hope had no place for them. Another night would come, a morning with many deaths and each one was set free to float amongst the creatures that both fed on them and nourished their loved ones. Per Ovesson would be the last man to go. He ensured all were met by the God’s who knew better than he the true meaning. He would fall into a deep, long sleep, he would dream of Lea, mother of Liam and he would die proud as his father had bravely done before him. He drifted off further to sea and the sky above would open it’s arms and his soul would rise up, up, up into the arms of Ulla.
Littleme, that is Lm, has a very bad drawer full of horrible, never released from her grip memories. They come from so far away but changed her entire life entirely when three words were said to her, “I love you”. By now she’d moved north to the east coast, the Mason Dixie line and Maryland’s capital, Annapolis. She was so stuffed with emotions, drowning in her regurgitated pain and felt smothered. She hoped this move would save her from hiding in the closed gymnasium during lunch, standing on toilet seats quietly, stealing cigarettes and never eating without self punishment. Sit ups and runs and more sit ups and excuses to hide her body from an ounce of flesh. It was her last chance at control. When walking along the city docks she loved the ting-a-ling sound of sailboats moored in neat rows, the fisherman pulling up baskets of crabs and the liveliness and freedom she’d not known before. Walking shop to shop, discovering alleyways and for once, even if BaDDaD had no time for her she was breathing calmly. A solemn walk around the historical homes, perfected gardens and boys eyeing her felt good. She was registered into a Catholic school as it was nearby and she could walk there in the morning sun or fog from Elle and BaDDaD’s home and her soft and sweet smelling sister that Elle had blessed her with. She loved her uniform which made her fit in without much judgement but make-up was frowned upon. Only three other girls wore make up in school and they were pushing buttons and perimeters. She didn’t want to push anything, just be loved. The one who got her attention was sly. Not that great of a young man but his younger brother was in her class. He was a straight A student and she had been also until she stopped caring. One sunny spring day, late March, perhaps it was St. Patrick’s Day, two older guys were sitting drinking canned beer from a small boat at a prime spot to see all the passersby. Lm walked past and a guy called out to her with messy blonde hair with eyes that looked like shiny blue gems. He asked her if she knew his brother and introduced himself. Both of these rowdy over twenty- one year old guys were brothers to a boy her age in her religion class. She presumed they could not be dangerous and obliged them with coy and polite conversation. The tornado of events and fucked up-ness that was unleashed from that point changed her entire life, her belief in Love, yes, the one with a capital “L” ; shame was all she felt. Her father was sometimes trying to keep the two apart but what could he do really? Parenting is a full time job and he couldn’t hold one down in his past so it was obvious he wouldn’t have the answers. The boyfriend pursued and among one of the places he lived was on an old fishing boat with his best friend at the time nicknamed, “Mo’. Lm hopped off her bus often just before her own stop over the drawbridge downtown. She had a craving for Love and he was meeting her needs even if he was a lying predator and a drunken druggie whom she obliged on a sinking boat. He always had weed and every drug imaginable. He told her how he liked her hair, what clothes suited him the best and mostly how to satisfy his sexual needs. What she didn’t know was he kept an entourage of young women to keep him happy and his demolition of Lm’s mental health would benefit him and confuse her for years to come. Nobody was stepping in or up to save her. He gave her an STD of some kind and she was terrified of seeing a doctor. She was absolutely nothing. Ruined. Used. Lost and lost again and again. To this very second Lm has not forgiven him or his friends who lied and withheld his sexual meanderings. Not even now can she let go. He soaked her in lies and words so tender yet he was the true definition of a monster. BaDDaD and this guy were much more alike than she realised. Within she had this desperate pleading need for her father and soon she would transfer all of her attachment issues onto this very bad man. She began failing classes, running away from her BaDDaD’s often to see her very unhealthy “boyfriend”and she would lose many opportunities for fun with good friends because she was always afraid of losing him. Eventually she did; his father intervened and he was sent to Maine for his Captain’s license and planned to join the merchant marines. She wrote letters, called often and even took me of BaDDaD’s credit cards and flew to Boston and then took a bus to Maine. The sheer vulnerability she carried was taking her down. She was on the Titanic and no one was going to throw her a life vest. It was one of the most pivotal changes she would go through and at her lowest point she had no one to talk to or see her suffering. BaDDaD just wanted her to be beautiful and continue to idolize him, which she did for many rocky years. Putting this drawer away so Lm doesn’t dare to dream of the nasty, cruel boyfriend. There will be much more on the wild, unreigned years of her life. No one knew, NO ONE how bad she felt inside and she would learn much later that men hurt you. The nice ones didn’t want her. A sweet friend paraphrased her redundant lack of genuine suitors as, they perhaps felt “out of their league” and intimidated by her beauty; she would carry a sense of a strange faithfulness to the horrid sleazy guy who used her nativity for his personal gain. The #METOO movement has brought Lm to her demons door and she will forge straight on telling her TRUTH. Rock will help her from swirling down the drain.