Cycle of Abuse: Lover’s Lane

Several months after my grandmother’s death.  After the discovery of my father’s misdeeds.  My mother who had started becoming more and more incapacitated with delicate bones, infirm lungs, depression, anxiety, domestic abuse…etc, etc.

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I had set into a routine of going every other day to the, little, almost log cabin, in Canterbury.  Cleaning, walking dogs, doing laundry, being transcended back to childhood.  Reliving life as a ten year old.  Witnessing my father forbid my mother from leaving the house, driving a car (when she was capable), talking to her friends, going to church, with holding certain required nutrients, scolding her for not letting the dogs out, scolding her for burning dinner, accusing her of making him out to be the bad guy.  The five or six years I took care of my mother, which in turn meant, keeping an eye on the devil in father’s clothing; most neighbors did not realize my mother had two other adult children.  Those children were rarely seen.  They children were rarely heard from.  That situation arose from my father’s need to control my mother.  Though, I would hazard to guess that it would be easy to forget of the difficult parents in a small New Hampshire town.  Far away from life on life’s terms…In my brother and sister’s life.

My grandmother had been buried in the dead of winter.  Just like my grandfather, before, her…dead trees, solid frozen ground, impenetrable landscape.  It seems that is how the Irish come and go.  Hard times in life.  Hard times in death.

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Sometime in mid May, my wife and I had made arrangements for taking my mother to Waltham.  So she could see her mother’s grave.  So bushes could get planted.  So the rosary could be said.  So the heavenly father would understand my mother’s remorse.

This was not to be an easy trip.

Calvary Cemetery, is filled to the brim with Irish immigrants…Past and not so present.  It also resides in the out skirts of Boston.  Finding the name Quinn among hundreds to perhaps, thousands, of other impregnated with the blood from the motherland…is not simple.

It had been Megan, my spouse and my, chore to play detective.  How much had my mother known about the ‘murder?’  Had my father ever divulged, in between the threats and physical abuse…

What he had actually done to his first wife?
Where had he and my mother first met?

How much of his former indulgent and psychopathic life…did she know about?

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Digging the past out of my mother was never easy.  She always remained guarded about her history.  Her transgressions were meant for the confessional and no where else.

But with this secracy, what had been the cost?  Having driven my brother thousands of miles away.  Having forced my sister into her own form of shallow narcissism.  Having driven me into infidelity, lack of nearness, addiction and anger.  How much the cost of guarding the truth?

‘Did you know he killed his wife?’

‘I knew something.  Your father never liked sharing much about his past!  He didn’t have a good childhood you know.  And, look at where I was at!’

Meaning, she had been in the midst of a nervous breakdown when they met.  Meaning my father was brought up during the depression and his family very poor.

Meaning, to me, WTF!  You married this man.  You were at the state hospital.  You were a victim of abuse.  You needed to get your children out of an orphange…

Meaning, you didn’t ask questions?

Even now, several years later, I can recall the day.  Sybil, my sister declined coming with us.  Having said, she couldn’t get time off from work or, if she did it would cut down on her vacation time.  There seemed always to be an excuse.

You guys always do stuff with Mom during the week.’

‘We always go with just your friends!’

‘I don’t want to see that movie.’

Etc.  Etc.

Sitting adjacent to the graveyard.  Side by curb side with the neighboring flower shop.  Watching trash blow back and forth across a well traveled street.  Finding myself at wit’s end.

My wife, Megan, poked me in the thigh.  She gently patted my leg.  Meaning…calm down, you’ll get nowhere if you push.

She, as always, had been correct.

With this slight interogation, I did not get far.  Very little information came out of my mother.  Her exact words will never escape me…

‘After all, look where I was.  I wasn’t well.’

Laughing to herself…The only other sentence had been seemingly a joke…

We met at Lover’s Lane.

Having been a product of the 50’s and 60’s.  I shunned my mother’s attempt at levity.  Oh, how I wish I had known what the truth had been.

Janice, my mother, gave off such fragility, that one did not push.  If an argument was on the horizon.  Somehow, she appeared as though a light wind would blow her over.  She turned inward.  As if, another question or loud word, would disable her completely.  Janice, had always been this way.

No more questions were asked.  My only statement being…

‘My mother and father met at the New Hampshire State Hospital.  Great.  No wonder I’m fucked up!’

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I cannot convey, in words, what it is like to wish to not have been born.  To sit in awe in my own instability and wonder, what if.

What if I had not been born to a psychopath?  Someone hospitalized due to insanity.  A person who conceived of the act and followed through, with the murder of his wife.

Or, a woman, so distraught.  So saddened by herself that suicide seemed the only option.  I have tried on numerous occasions to explain to others…The saddness provoked by their joining together.  By the severe disappointment in choices they made.  By the decisions I could have made differently…Had I known that from the get go…my life had no chance of productivity.

This year, after some research.  After documentary upon documentary.  Article upon article about psychiatric institutes of the 1960’s.  Pictures, data, recourse, etc.

After much forbearance from my siblings of law suits, insults, threats, etc.  Family secrets must remain secret…after all.

After all I discovered ‘Lover’s Lane.’  The place in which I had been conceived.  Where my parents, with total disregard for repercussions, engaged in producing…me.  Me, the addict, lesbian, wanderer.  Me, the poet with questions…

My mother, had been in the Brown building.  My father, the Kent building.  I was conceived in the catacombs!

The population continued to rise every year until 1955 when over 2,700 patients resided at “the State Hospital”. The crowding was extreme. For some years in the 1940’s and early 1950’s each psychiatrist had an average of more than 250 patients to treat. While kindness was still the philosophy, providing individual care of any type had become impossible. And, for the most part, society had come to view the mentally ill, not as people who needed humane treatment but had consigned the mentally ill to a dark and humiliating corner of American life. State hospitals became the physical reflection of that attitude. Books like “The Shame of the States” and “Asylum” or movies like “The Snake Pit” drew attention to the plight of the mentally ill. The annual reports make clear that despite the best efforts of staff and administration the New Hampshire State Hospital had become quite a different place than the Asylum of the nineteenth century. In New Hampshire as well as nationally, the “problem” of mental illness had become a simmering pot, waiting to boil.

A Walk to End Guilt

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To castaway…

The sweats.

The shakes.

Take long morning walks.

One sided talks.

And,

it is not the toll of death…that bring forth the tears.

Nor,

the let’s make pretend and forget…years.

 

Why is it the fractured limb…seems always the last to fall?

Why is it the large than life…pray on the smaller than small?

 

This life of…walking and rolling with the punches…

This feel of…your self motivating guilt…has lost it’s usefulness.

 

I can no longer take hand me down trips.

I may have been bred sick.

But I can choose to not live in your illness.

That is my prayer…as your god is my witness.

 

Zen n the Art of Moped Maintenance: Rte.132

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It is not as though I haven’t been this route before.  The best word, which isn’t so eloquent to describe my feelings… had been, green, greener and greenest!

But after seducing my biker butt back into a more comfortable enviroment; certainly, green does not do it justice.
When you ride there is a feeling of isolation.  As if, you and your steed, were the only beings in the world.
As a tear begins to puddle in your sunglasses.  A tear that is aroused by wind, dust and bugs…As that little production of waterfall surfaces to a distraction, you begin to think about…what else can make me cry so quickly?  When was the last time I cried?  Than, of course, the mind wanders.  As is often the case, alone but not lonely at about 45 mph, down an outcast piece of pavement.
Distorted thoughts, faded images, freedom and the feeling of being in a mobile confession booth…hits the rider.
I like my confession booth.  It and the fresh air remind me, this is it.  This is what you’ve done wrong with your life.  And, more prolifically, this is where all the love you’ve given out…has brought you.
These images that fade always leave me curious.  Like the old barns that are dim but still cathartic…placed poetically up on a hill.
I wonder to myself; Did it shift?  Have I lost track of time?  Are the vines that engross it, possibly, more beautiful than before?
I know down deep in my heart of souls and soul with heart…this Norman Rockwell picture will never be the same as, yesterday or tomorrow.
Sad you cannot bottle this feeling.  Take it out and taste it…in the dead of a New Hampshire winter.
Route 132, however, will always be a part of the ride.
Lesson learned today?
You can never out run the storm.  You can elude it for a short while.  You can curse it with bad thoughts.  Your only true friend?  A bridge’s under pass.  A shelter that seems so trite and routine.  Yet, something that can bring solace from the menacing rains.

Friendly Fire Faith

Is it so freeing…

responsibility?

Spirit?

To hold the tongue…

To succumb to vanity?

Her bedside manner is no…

bed after all.

It has become

a handmade straight jacket

five monkey arms, long.

She smirks and

she smiles.

Yet,

is she part of the

religious conscientious few

or…

just plain old conscious contact…

over swept?

Rumor has it

she had stuck herself with faith

Rumor has it

she had adhered to her amends…

to confess to others mistakes.

What is in her that is….

as they say,

so…

out of reach.

faith 1 faith 2 faith 4

Seven long days,

they say,

without meditation…

makes the meek weak.

She became black

She became white

Within the fifth day…

she had done away with the gray.

All in the name of…

angry justification.

All in the name of…

the moral fiber plantation.

Farmed before the end of tomorrow began

Reaped, sowed, faith-less-ness, had a soap box and a…

traveling roadshow stand.

She, had never started anything knew.

Faith had forever been a place to

box a thought

Check down the street.

Gone girl to the neighborhood store.

Empty spaces, crated faces,

unguided and vacant…

do gooders at the Icon’s door.

On the sixth day, of the tenth hour.

She gave in to not bitter but sour.

Her spirit had tread lightly all the days gone by

Inert and conflicted, She couldn’t give up on why.

The walks, the cops, the daily drudge of farming the freak stand.

On the seventh day…

Faith the wanderer came and took her hand.

A Broken Sash of Sloth

Slash me with your sloth…father, and I will prevail with my GOSPEL
 

‘Too tall to feel this small’

‘Wholesale dysfunction…one size fits all’
‘Love a dangerous drug’
‘Who died and made you King of anything’
 
No one should live someone else's lie
Bad Karma: living someone else’s lies!

Often I am so afraid of writing…of…the shit.  The abuse, the excuse, the reasons, the life that had been laid out for me.  
Sick and tired of being…sick and tired.
My family is such that ‘preferential treatment to undisclosed bad behavior’ should and always will remain…not discussed.  That through rite of passage, someone else’s poor choices and illness of soul…should be our cross to bear.  Like a second-hand pair of worn sneakers.  Needing repair, lacking in luster and essentially, useless to the human race.
Funny how,
We find our true selves on the road to avoiding it.
Seems to me…many of us…were sent to a church in order to purchase a receipt of absolution.  Confession of the sins of youngsters.   Weren’t we barking up the wrong tree?
I had been sent to a catholic church every now and again, by myself or with my siblings…Not a parent to be found…within secular sight.
I wonder, now, had we not been sent there to be freed of childhood sins?  Or, had we been instructed to lose the sin of handy me down crimes?
Indeed, childhood transgressions of white lies and false alibis…were only a shielded veil to the catastrophic family affairs that lay in wait.
By chance, I had entered a non denominational church, last week.  A Reverend with a smile.  Prayers and meditations of eternal life being a friendly experience.  Thoughts of… who and whatever greets us at  the end of this the ‘tunnel of love’ is not angry.
I walked away with a sense of peace never derived from the Icon/Idol/Image that would leer down upon me…as a child.
Also, by chance, I discovered a list of requirements to be checked off at will…on the bathroom wall.
How common is it for those who are abused to continue on?  Why do we?  And, how do we break the chain of fiendishly foul family non fiction?
Dear Mom, dear sister, dear wife, dear…everyone and anyone who is a victim:
love a dangerous drug 1
Silent Nights and Deadly Days
Do you feel threatened?
Are you constantly being criticized?
Are you being told how to act?
 
The list is ongoing.  But my question,is…Ruth, why do you have to continue the family tradition of…pretending, defrauding, masquerading…the fact you were abused.  Why must, from the angry God to years of neglect, you carry the rosaries on?
Am I scared?  Will I be alienated?  Would others who once pretended with me…never forgive me?
I am the problem…with past, present and future domestic abuse…if I do not seek a solution.  Half of my baggage isn’t mine to begin with.
From the time I could crawl…I ran!  From the time my mother could cry…she lay in a fetal position…before my eyes.  From the moment my father would quarantine my siblings and I with his persistent and constant remarks of belittlement…I had been told to HUSH!
I cannot remain HUSH any longer.  And, possibly, the most vocal critic will be those who wrote the lines to my youthful play.  
I am now the writer to this line.  I am the orator to the ‘Ghost’ story.  I will no longer be ridiculed into silence. The Buck-et of Abuse will stop only be the means of one single strong voice…one by one by one.  We need to stand alone to rise together.  Break the silence!

Sometimes we find our true selves on the road to avoidance
Sometimes we find our true selves on the road to avoidance