"When you think of lawyers you just think we're all out for your money."
"Well....... kind of."
"Exactly, but there are good ones."
"And what do people think of psych majors?"
"That you're all girls with daddy issues."
I laughed because God knows nearly everyone in the lecture hall probably had some traumatic or difficult life experience that spurred them on to caring for the weak and downtrodden.
Come all ye heavy laden and we shall see if your insurance can afford you rest.
Seems like a long time ago I was looking at my mom's pale face across the table in the behavioral unit of the hospital.
She gave herself a bottle of pills for Christmas.
And I wasn't sure if the texts she gave me were real or not.
"Dad, I think something's wrong." I quietly said to him while were at his mom's.
He was so upset with her, I remember that.
Grandma sobbed that if I didn't hurry and get to the house that she was disowning me
Shakily trying to get gas
Snow crunching under my feet
While my ex was home using.
"Stop!!!!!" I screamed into the silence of the car
White puff of air exploding from my mouth.
Racing the 20 miles to my house.
But I never cried.
Expressing emotion was never something I allowed.
That was the Christmas where I ate too much and played hours of Nazi Zombies on Call of Duty.
It lives in my memory as the living room of his house basked in the soft glow of the TV
Looking down the dark hall towards the bedroom,
Opening the drawer to reveal one less spoon,
Sitting on the edge of the shower with my head in my hands,
Him saying he was trying to stop, but filing in shame to the bathroom to use again.
"You're breathing too loud." "You're walking too hard." "Someone's outside, that car drove by already."
In the end, only the last statement was the accurate one.
He was arrested in April.
"Get away, run away, fly away."
Friends telling me to leave him
But the nights I did threaten it, I was back in bed by midnight.
Rather, it began to inhale frosty breaths from between snowflakes of seasonally depressed mania.
Of course, there were the days like those when I would lay on the uneven couch cushions,
Sinking into the crack like chasm
Wearing my pale pink tank top,
Worn but faithful shorts,
No make up
Hair in a thin, messy bunned ponytail.
The glass bowl I came to always use could fit in your palm
Large enough to hold a little
Small enough to contain the guilt
and was as full as I packed it with strawberry marble ice cream
Smoothing the top with the back of my spoon,
Getting the surface just right with a smooth layer before licking it off the concaved back of my silver spoon.
Looking at the pair of hip bones holding elastic up above my lower stomach,
Shivering in the air conditioning and thin skin.
This was my one indulgence.
Finishing the bowl, I would get up from the couch, absently placing the bowl in the sink,
Maybe my mom fussing about putting it in the dishwasher.
Glancing back with glassed eyes, I would wave dismissively,
Just so tired.
Feeling unsettled by the steel chill settled in my bones.
Before sliding open the glass door to our porch.
The air was hot, dry, slight wind.
I made my way through the tall grasses
Fingers softly skimming the tops
Maybe I was reassuring them that I was still alive...
Out to my horse who munched lazily just inside the fence
Feeling his velvet nose search my hand for more,
Feeling dead inside.
My dad and I never got along.
"Church and politics" I say when I remark on the only things my dad and I could discuss civilly.
Funny, those are the two things normal people can never seem to talk about.
He had been a wild child, drinking, doing drugs, promiscuous.
Grandpa had been a physically and mentally abusive alcoholic throughout his life and my dad's life reflected that.
Then, by the power of Jesus, Dad was a changed man.
I believe He heals, but when we run from our vices, we often times run into the arms of something else.
I sat in a church pew before my legs could touch the floor
Growing up on a steady diet of fire and brimstone.
Pentecostal by birth.
We were always present at every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening service.
Mom taught Sunday school, Dad was studying to be a pastor.
His testimony something hope inspiring.
And I frequently looked at the floor through my swinging legs, time seeming to drag on.
Mom loved music and our church played a generous amount.
She didn't play and she didn't sing especially well or especially bad, but she would sway with the words, eyes closed, blissful smile on her lips.
Escaping my father's abusiveness for that moment.
Jesus often expects us to take the first faith spurred leap out of our situation.
That leap took twenty years.
Sometimes she would pull me in front of her and make me dance with her, clapping my hands as I laughed.
I still think she's beautiful, even when she's feeling weak.
Other kids played the tambourines, hands of the adults in the air.
And I knew He was there, really there, for the first time during a worship service.
But as these stories go, there was an ugly side we all expect of the perfect church going family.
They would scream at one another, make up, then fight again.
Paste the smile on as we walked in the sanctuary doors.
I never liked that.
Seemed to me that's what church was for, letting others love
Letting them help.
Independence suited my little family more.
Someone once told me that being a father is so important because that's the first impression of God we have as a child.
God loved me.
I knew that.
He just had a lot of rigid rules and sometimes I had to be afraid because my actions could ultimately result in hell.
"You don't have to be perfect to be loved by God."
I still remember my mom saying that in Sunday school to us kids.
It didn't matter then because when you're 7 you don't care about perfect, not like when you're 23.
Dad didn't want me to be so involved in things.
Too many sports, too much 4-H, piano lessons on Wednesdays, couldn't stay at friends' houses, had to be home before some early time.
My mom fought him all the way.
Said I needed these things because I was the type of active kid that would get in trouble if left to my own devices.
I'm sure she would have been right.
I looked up into the stands or into the rows of chairs at every event and would see my mom and my grandparents, but no dad.
He was busy providing for us or he was tired from providing.
He didn't support the biased coaches.
He had a sermon he had to prepare for.
"No child should have to tell themselves to get over the fact that their parent doesn't care."
Tears streaming down my cheeks.
Being the typical tattooed and pierced girl with "daddy issues."
Sometimes I still check the ridges of my spine
Along the hollow of my collar bones
Checking for emptiness.
They send little girls and boys out into the world
Telling them to grow up
When they were inhibited, stunted, growing in weeds under a sun that's too bright.
I flip the text book pages endlessly in my counseling program.
Reading about being aware of our own needs and the client's needs
Learning to not fix, but to listen and promote healing.
Not to control the situation,
Just to promote healing.
Listening to the gentle urges of our professors to seek counseling ourselves when we need it
To make peace with the wrongs and tie up the loose ends.
We can't throw out the life preserve when it's still around ourselves.
Under the fluorescents they remind us that things get worse before they get better.
"Change is hard."
That and an uphill battle on a mountain sometimes.
I keep working to resolve to resolve.
Change is necessary, I know.
It's just that sometimes I remember the past like looking at photographs.....