Siblings

Excuse my mini rant yesterday. I was hurting quite a bit and it was the end of a long, terrible day. I’m still hurting but it’s the beginning of a new one and I’m going to try to keep it together a bit better.

My brother has been on my mind a lot lately. He’s been great, He tried to call me yesterday, the only person who did, but I missed his call. We texted and he’s going to call today. When we were kids I always knew it was my responsibility to take care of him. Mom left when I was eight and I had to start taking care of him. He was two. For a while we were supposed to switch off between mom and dad but that didn’t last.  Our father was an abusive asshole so it’s always been the two of us, and I was the older sister. There are probably more incidents than I’ll ever remember. We visited an aunt years ago and she reminded me of one I had forgotten. Our mother had gotten a trailer in the same park as our aunt, probably four or five streets away. I have no idea where our mother was but I was watching my brother. I was nine and baby brother was three. He was hungry and there was absolutely nothing to eat there. This may have been right after she got the place, I really don’t remember. I remember he kept telling me he was hungry. I was trying to distract him but he kept coming back to “hungry”. I don’t know how long this went on for but I remember the helplessness and anger I felt.
I was nine and not stupid, and I overheard my father’s family talking crap about my mother. And I did not like it. At all. Our aunt was my father’s sister. However, my baby brother was hungry and I had no food. Finally, I bundled him up in my pink sweater because it was cold outside. Again, I have no idea where his coat was. So, I bundled him up in my pink sweater, took his hand, and walked him over to our aunt’s house. I knocked on the door and she answered.  I asked her for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my brother but would not come in the house. When my aunt was recalling this she said she tried to get me to come in and get something to eat but I refused. I told her it was because I was embarrassed. Recalling this, I remember the shame and anger that filled me on having to ask her for a sandwich for my brother. I may have been nine but I knew they would see this as proof of our mom being a bad mother, which I did NOT want to hear. It pissed me off, to put it plainly. I remember the anger I had when our mother finally returned to the trailer and I told her what I had done.

Our dad was the abusive asshole that I feared all my life. Our mother was never anything but loving and understanding with us. She certainly did not get upset with me for taking him to our aunt’s house, although looking back I’m sure she knew that would give the family more ammunition to use against her. It never occurred to nine year old me that it might get her in trouble. I was just trying to get my brother fed. He was always my responsibility.
Our mother died two weeks before I turned eleven, and my brother was four.  He doesn’t remember her or much of what we went through, but I think he has to still have it in his subconscious. Sometimes I think he remembers more than he lets on. He hears snippets of what it was like for us but I don’t think he remembers screaming while I was being beaten. I don’t think he remembers our father’s systematic destruction of our sense of self worth and confidence.
Our father remarried when I was 13-14 and my brother was seven. I have photos of his seventh birthday. I was thirteen and had recruited a friend to help me throw a birthday party for him, if you can imagine two thirteen year old girls trying to handle a house full of seven year olds. Our stepmother is in the photo, and if I remember correctly, she brought me the decorations. After they married our father chilled out some and the abuse lessened. It didn’t stop, but I was grateful for the better atmosphere and also because she started taking care of my brother.  For the first time, I didn’t have to be solely responsible for him. I moved out when I was seventeen, but felt badly about leaving my brother. I told him to call me if he needed me, and that when he got old enough he could come stay with me.

There is so much more, but this is it for now. The sandwich incident was on my mind for some reason. They tell you to write what you know. I think about writing a book about our experiences, but to what point? It doesn’t really have a happy ending. It’s not inspirational. Who wants to read that sort of thing? So I don’t. I could work my experiences into a fictional character, but then I have a hard time thinking of what sort of story to tell. I think if I were to just write maybe something will come, so that’s what I’m trying to do. So, if I have the occasional post ranting about some painful incident, like yesterday, maybe it’s worth it to push through. I kept trying to write over the past year but would cry every time. So I would put it away so I could get myself under control again. But I was doing it for him, so he wouldn’t hear me crying. I think it’s time I started doing things for myself again.

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I haven’t spoken to a single person today. I’ve been crying off and on and don’t seem to be able to get it under control. I’m already depressed as hell but last night’s shit show just really wrecked me. Not sure why it’s so bad but it is.

The dryer belt broke and it was the end of the fucking world, of course. I could hear him bitching and moaning at the top of his voice from the other end of the house. I get it, it’s aggravating and frustrating, but you know, it’s life. Suck it up and move on. Throwing tantrums really doesn’t help. Anyway, I was doing something in the living room. He told me the dryer was broken. I had laundry to do so I went to see what was going on with it. He was sitting at his desk looking up parts or something. I asked him what it was doing. At this point all I had was ‘broken’. He told me the belt broke and bitched some more. My cat was laying on the bed ignoring all this. I went to pet him. My cats always give me something to smile about. I was in an ok mood and smiled a bit as I pet the cat. Then I hear “Go away’. I was petting the cat and wasn’t even paying attention to him at this point so it shocked me. I mean, I sure as shit hadn’t done anything but ask what was wrong with it, so it startled me and I said “Are you talking to me?” (because he’s always telling the cats this) And he nodded and said it again. And he said it with such incredible pissiness and rage. So yeah there went my mood, shot to hell. I left and went out to the porch to cry and yelled ‘asshole’ at him. And I’ve been crying ever since. Happy Fucking Birthday. It’s like he can’t fucking stand it for me to not be as miserable as him. Well congratulations, I am now.

Today is my birthday and I’m wondering why I’m even here. I’ve had a huge fight with one of my oldest friends, who I’ve never had an argument with before. I’m listening to upbeat music to try to cheer myself up a bit so I can stop bawling before I leave the house. I should be at the pet store already to help the cat rescue I work with but I’m not sure I’m going to make it.

I keep trying my damndest to shove everything down and I think I’ll be doing ok and keeping it together and then something will set me off and I’ll be a fucking mess again. Right now I’m incredibly stressed for several reasons.

God damn it. I thought this might help but instead I’m bawling.

Eulogy

I’m still struggling with the depression but I’m trying. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago but never got around to posting it. I received word that a lifelong friend of mine died.

When I was fourteen I met my friend George. I first saw him staring at me at the carnival. I had just moved to the town and was alone, walking the carnival circuit. I saw a big biker guy working one of the rides. He had this intensity to him even then that drew me to him. When I first noticed him, I froze for a moment. I remember I was wearing a Harley Davidson shirt with the neck ripped out so it hung off one shoulder, “Flashdance” style. (I’m dating myself but yes, this was the 80s.) It’s funny the things you remember. We didn’t speak. He just stared, and I was shy so I didn’t approach him either. Then I saw him in town and a few other places, always stopping to stare at me but not speaking. Finally I saw him at the County Fair. I was there with my brother and stepmother and we were about to leave. I was heading in one direction of the fair and he was heading in the other when we passed. He turned and came up behind me and said “I see you everywhere I go but I still don’t know your name.” Fourteen year old me thought this was romantic. He was three years older than me, a big biker/teddy bear of a guy. He was good looking but a little heavy, with dimples, biker boots, a leather jacket, a great smile and a shitty attitude. I think I may have written about him before. If so, bear with me. I had a crush for a while, as did he, but we didn’t get together. We became friends and sort of dated a little, but more friends than anything. I used to run around with him and another mutual friend named Scott. There were nights spent drinking and nights spent running and days spent hanging around.

George stayed a friend. When I broke up with my first serious boyfriend and fiancée at 22, George cut the engagement ring off my finger. I remember him asking “Do you wanna keep the finger?” while laughing with this demented expression. George was always funny. That was probably his best attribute. He briefly got a gig doing stand up comedy in Baltimore. I’m not sure what happened but it didn’t work out and he never tried again. George helped me move into my first apartment after breaking up with David and while moving I remember him in the bathroom singing “Roxanne”. It had gotten to be somewhat of a running joke between us and I got the giggles so bad I couldn’t breathe. He lived with his grandmother and I picked him up from there many nights. We fought once in a while, but always made up. Sometimes he would crash on my couch, or other times he would come wake me up to go do something ridiculous

He came to think he loved me, and was charming and persistent in trying to get me to be with him, but it wasn’t working. I don’t know if he actually did love me, but he thought he did. I remember him singing various songs to me, riding motorcycles, and being in a riot in Pennsylvania with him. I remember being angry with him one night and screaming at him from my balcony. My apartment was on the second floor and I remember flinging everything I had of his off the balcony and then throwing two liter soda bottles at him. He could do that to me… make me so angry that I would see red and lose my temper completely. I had quite the temper back then too. I beat up a girl at the carnival one night. We had history that’s not really relevant, but I had been after her and she had been hiding from me instead of facing me. George was with me that night. We were hanging around a little before I had to go into work. When I saw her at the carnival I laid into her and I really beat the crap out of this girl. The carnival workers jumped on me and two of them pulled me off her. They had me on the ground with my arms pulled back when this girl’s husband came after me. He had his fist drawn back and dropped down on his knees to hit me as I was pinned, when George stepped in and told him to back the fuck off. (Yeah that guy was a giant pussy, trying to punch a girl who was pinned down.) Then we ran before the police showed up, with me high on adrenaline and victory, and George trying to get me out of the carnival without getting into another fight with some friend of this woman who thought she might try to avenge her. It was not my finest moment, I admit. I was young, wild and pissed off.

I remember being at the apartment I lived in after that one and George showed up one night. He was drunk and was at the foot of my stairs proclaiming his love for me –loudly and at length. He had someone drop him off at my place specifically so he could do this. I had to drive him home again because I would not let him stay the night. I remember being scared for him and hunting for him in the graveyard late one night. He had left his truck on blasting Ozzy’s “No More Tears” and had wandered off into the graveyard. I was so worried. I remember him trying to get in my pants at the gravel pit, standing in the moonlight with his pants pulled down. I turned on the car and drove away, leaving him there like that, and giggling like a banshee. I remember taking him to his friend’s house and being absolutely furious with him when I realized what was going on (activities I wanted no part of). I remember spending time with his son, who had developmental problems. I have so many memories of him. I could go on like this for a few pages telling George stories. My best friend used to say that we’d be in our rocking chairs and he would still be after me.

We did finally have a serious falling out. It was about ten years ago and we lost touch after that. He got involved with someone and I got married and moved out of state. But if I had run into him again, I think we would have greeted each other as the old friends that we were. So now he’s dead. I don’t know what the cause was. A friend of mine that was unaware of my history with George let me know and it hit me pretty hard. I let Tara know, and that was even more pain. God I miss her. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. RIP George. I’ll always remember you fondly.

depression

I’m really struggling with depression lately, which is why I haven’t updated. I’m trying very hard to not let myself sink to the bottom, but it’s hard to try to swim while fighting it when you’re on your own. I miss my mom, I miss Wendy, I miss Tara. I miss lots of things. I try so hard to give myself goals and to work on achieving them, and I was making some headway. But now I’m sunk again, and it’s pretty bad. I struggle with the urge to self harm, but I am not at that point. It is discouraging that the urge is back though. I haven’t done that in a lot of years.
I guess this is a bit of a release valve. Nothing literary, or even well written for that matter, but it helps with the pressure.
just a bit.

Alone

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

~Edgar Allan Poe

 

 

Revival

“Revival” was written after my grandmother told me about going to a snake-handling church when she was younger. This was probably in the 1930s, and the church was in the Appalachian mountains. She wanted me to write her life story, but I don’t think she gets what that entails. Still, I should have done it, and should still try to do it. I loved to listen to her talk to me about her life and the hardships she had endured, and I always wished I had recorded it but I never did. She’s very old now and I know she doesn’t have much time. When she goes it will tear me apart. My mother has been dead for a very long time, and my father is probably dead (and good riddance). Anyway, this poem was published in a magazine called “Penumbra” and collected in my chapbook “Psychoentropy”. I hope you enjoy it.

Revival

They share the taste of strychnine,

liquid faith like crystal purity,

bottled in a mason jar

scented with the ghost

of last year’s peaches.

 

Dusty boots thump,

and patterned skirts swirl,

keeping time with the choir

of shivering tambourines,

as they cry with broken voices

of the rapturous divine.

 

The Reverend handles serpents,

armed with shining words of God,

and preaches fervent sermons

with the cadence of

the hissing snakes,

sliding coils through grasping fingers

scarred with memory of sin.

 

He sways,

moves with strange conviction,

and teaches salvation

to the undulating devout,

singing in blind ecstasy

in obsolete tongues.

 

They dance,

caught in serpentine embrace,

anointed by the Spirit

with sacred revelations,

as the congregation burns,

wrapped in spiraling religion.

 

~Julie Shiel

Fireflies and Twilight

I’m feeling quite melancholy tonight. I try not to think about these things but sometimes I get overwhelmed. I mean other than my normal depression. Sometimes I just get filled with such sadness that it takes my breath away. I keep hoping to see lightning bugs, or fireflies, depending on your part of the county. I haven’t seen them in years. I remember chasing them when I was little, and it’s something every child should be able to do. I remember being maybe five, and having a firefly in a jar. I smeared the phosphorescence on my fingers so that I would glow too. I showed my mother and she told me that I shouldn’t do that. I asked why, and she explained that it hurt the insect. Of course I cried, but I never did it again. I don’t think I even caught them any more after that because I felt so bad and was afraid of hurting another one. Five year old me wanted to glow like the fireflies and I never thought about the insects being harmed.

Earlier tonight I thought I saw a light flashing on the edge of my garden, but no. It was just someone’s house light flickering through. Everyone knows that bees are in serious trouble, or they should. It’s still not being taken seriously enough here in the US, but people are at least aware of it. This year there are hardly any. People are aware of the plight of the bees because we rely on them to eat. What people may not know is that fireflies are in trouble as well. There’s no big money being made from fireflies, and we don’t rely on them to eat so they are relegated to backpage news. However, while bees help us to sustain our bodies, fireflies do the same for our souls. Seeing the flash of fireflies in the night with the sound of frogs and insects singing is a peaceful experience. It’s quiet, but beautiful and it will move you if you have a heart.

There is something about twilight that has always sang to me. The fireflies are part of it, but it’s more than that. It’s a period of “in between”, a time of no time at all really. It’s not day and it’s not night. It is the transition, the shifting of universes, the curtain fluttering between acts. Everything has a blue tint that muffles the world, but it can also accentuate things. It’s like if you’re with someone, that person is a bright cut out against a cloudy sky. Maybe if I ever experience it again I’ll find the words. It sharpens my senses but smoothes my soul, providing me with a clarity that is hard to find otherwise. It makes me hyper-sensitive to magic and things that don’t exist under the blaring sun and that are hidden under the darkness of night. The natural world takes a deep breath

and exhales.

 

 

 

I should be writing a book but battling demons is messy work. Goodnight.

 

“I slept under the moonlight and set my soul free, caged within jars like fireflies”.”
― Prajakta Mhadnak