Thursday, December 26, 2013


One year when I was married to my first husband, his mother (and I think this is how the story goes) got a picture of me as a child from my mother and had it and a picture of her son as a child blown up, framed them and gave them to us for Christmas. That was the picture of me. A cowgirl cradling her new baby doll and for the life of me, I can't remember that doll although it would appear that even at such a tender age I knew exactly how to hold a baby safely and close. 
I think the hat was red. 
Anyway, Hank has those two pictures and he fixed some scratches in the one of me and printed out a copy for me for my gift. The picture of his father is pretty awesome too. He was probably about nine or so, all decked out in nice clothes and hugging a microphone on a stage like he was born an Elvis. 
And here I am, still holding babies and there's my ex, still singing and playing music onstage. 
Guess there's no fighting fate is there?

Oh my god. Wait. I DO remember that doll. She was a bride doll- a very, very popular toy for little girls in the late fifties, early sixties, when it was a well-known fact that every female's dream from birth was to grow up and become a bride. Obviously. It's all coming back to me. She wasn't a baby doll at all. And I know I wanted a bride doll with all of my heart and soul and that was my Christmas present. I am certain that I also recall my mother sewing her other outfits. 
I have no idea what happened to that doll. I think I got it the Christmas that my mother had to flee our home in Chattanooga in the dead of night  on one of the last days of December because my father had gotten a gun and his drinking had accelerated to the point where she feared for our lives. That doll may have been left behind with all of the other Christmas presents. She did go back to my father a few months later but he'd destroyed the house in a drunken fit, slashing furniture and god knows what else. I don't remember a lot of it. I was five. 
But that picture- that's proof that my mother was trying to make things as normal and good for me and my brother as was possible under such horrible circumstances. 

The news I just got last night of my stepfather's death has stirred a lot up in me. As I wrote a friend this morning, it's as if it has ripped some of the scab/scar from the wound. I look at that picture and I could cry for that little girl whose life was about to be so torn up, cry for her brother, her mother too. And not just for all of the immediate trauma but for the years following. The resettling in a tiny village in Florida, my mother finding work as a school teacher (for which she was not at all well-suited), her continuing her education during the summers, meeting a man who looked completely perfect on paper, falling in love with him, marrying him and then...well, that's when the real tragedies began, in a way.


I feel itchy and weird and completely unsettled today. It's gray and cold and Mr. Moon is already on the road to Georgia to hunt, leaving me here in what should be perfect peace and yet my soul is far from peaceful. I looked up the online obituary for my stepfather (I hate even typing that word- "stepfather") and it was brief and not one person left a comment on the guest book. Not one. Only one of his sons, my half-brothers, was listed as a survivor. My other half-brother, the one I spoke to yesterday, has long-since actually legally changed his last name- one of the ways in which he has tried to break free from the connection with his father. I think he was brave to do so and I'm proud of him for doing it but I know that nothing can ever take away what happened to him as a child any more than the death of the perpetrator of evil can remove it. Not from him, not from my other brothers, not from me.
And the evil couldn't be taken away from my mother either, even though she was long divorced from the man. A few days before her death last January when she was doing that horrible sundowning thing she proclaimed that she wished she'd never met that man. She thought about that, what she'd just said, for a few seconds and then she said, "Well, if I hadn't, I would never have had Chuck and Russell."
A few more seconds passed and then she said, "That would have been alright." 
She was out of her mind but in insanity, just as in wine, there is often truth.

This is the thing that has me squirming like a maggoty hunk of rotting meat (sorry but that's how I feel at this moment)- his death has nothing to do with making me feel safer or better or more whole. The damage was done. It cannot ever be undone. Even after years of therapy and what amounts to most of a lifetime of so much goodness and love and just a damn incredible life, I know that at best there are parts of me which are far less than adequately stitched together and most of the time I feel as if it could all come undone completely. Most definitely right now. 

Well. I won't fall apart. I never have and I won't now. I will do laundry, I will sweep, I will make the bed, I might go to the store. I will carry on. This is just another step in the process of my life and I am not the first person to go through it nor will I be the last. 

I am almost tempted to try and get my hands on some psilocybin mushrooms and take them. Some studies are showing that low doses of psilocybin can be used quite successfully in the treatment of both depression and PTSD. I know that when I was in my late teens we "discovered" psilocybin mushrooms (they grew everywhere there were cows in Florida) and I did quite a few of them and I honestly and truly believe that whatever sanity I had in those days may have been aided by my ingestion of that drug. I never did do them recreationally, but always knew that in some way, there was a spiritual component involved and that I should treat the taking of them with respect. 
But I am so much older now and somehow, it would take so much more courage. 

I know I could get some. Probably within the hour if I really was serious. I know people...

But. But. But. 

Probably better to clean the toilets, right? 

I don't know. I'm feeling pulled in a million directions. And quite frankly, I do not feel in the least cheerful that Charles Stum is dead. That fact is almost of complete unimportance to me. The fact that he lived and that his life intersected mine is the crucial one. I do not celebrate his death. I mourn his life. 

All right. I need to stop talking about it for this moment. I almost feel as if I am tripping now but not in a good way.

Here's what it looks like here today. 

Sort of sums it all up in some bizarre, almost psychedelic way. 

I'll check back later, y'all. Meanwhile, I'll continue to cowgirl up, cupcake, and hold my babies close.

But man, it's been a strange fucking year.


  1. Mary thinking of you this morning and how remarkable it is that the internet has given us this-the ability to get glimpses of others' lives to have this electric extended family to be able to tell our stories to have those stories recorded and read and how we then become authentically entangled in each others' lives in the best of ways. I struggle so with isolation and I believe the existence of this flat blue world has saved my life.

    The Johnny Cash Psychiatrist once told me that it is more difficult harder when a parent from whom we were disconnected dies the grieving process more complicated than when a parent we love dies.

    And so I am holding you in my heart on this weird fucked up zero bubbly day the day when the noise dies down and we're forced to listen. Thinking of you there as Mary now and Mary then who already knew how to hold a baby bride safely and close.

  2. Dear Mary, I am not at all surprised that his death has stirred up the ghosts for you, and not surprised either that it is of no healing value whatsoever. I wish I could sit with you there today and hold you the way you always knew how to hold those babies close and safe, so you would know that you are safe. I love you so much and I hope in the hard moments of this day you will know that I am here, several states away, holding you close and loving you and I hope you will feel less alone as you struggle with what this all means, as you struggle to grasp what you are feeling, as you struggle still to heal.

  3. Damn. Can't think of one thing to say. Just want you to know I'm reading/hearing you. Shit.

  4. In my opinion, there was an ignorant comment left in response to your blog post last night about how now that he is gone, whatever you feel is all in your head. I don't think this person intended to be thoughtless but I don't think they understand that what you experienced is not only something that fucks with your mind forever but it is a body memory. I don't know if you ever completely heal from it. It is something you can cope with better at some times than others. I know for myself, the death did not take it away, it left me feeling strangely conflicted. For the most part I don't think about it but when I do, I can get very sad. You have moved on in in ways that are remarkable, most strikingly in raising a family of your own that is loving and kind. I hope you keep that accomplishment in mind as you are dealing with the complicated feelings you are surely having. One has to be a pretty strong person to handle all the comments made on a blog as it seems that some can leave you feeling misunderstood and alone and others, like Angella's above, can provide the exact thing I imagine you need to most hear at this time. I am thinking of you. Sweet Jo

  5. Rebecca- This flat blue world has saved my life too. I swear it. I'm so fucking glad you live in it. I can't even tell you.

    Angella- I am struggling to understand what I am feeling. And I know it will all pass but while I am in the middle of this process it is of unbelievable comfort to have you there. Here. This close. Thank you.

    Ellen Abbott- Too fucking true.

    Bethany- Thank you, sweetness. Thank you.

    Sweet Jo- You know, no, those words didn't upset me. At first I thought that my reaction would be complete relief. That makes sense in a way, doesn't it? It has come to me as a shock that I am so NOT relieved. I guess this is something you have to go through to really understand. And it IS a body memory as well as an everything-else memory. It's all tied up together in the same rusty barbed wire, isn't it? And of course, everyone reacts to situations differently. Mostly I am blown away by the comments people leave me in their caring. Always by yours. Thank you, Jo, and how I wish you didn't know what this feels like. How I wish no one did but we are legion and we go on and we make it through and time helps but we never get over feeling sad, do we? Love you.

  6. The images you gave in your writing these past few days have been trippy for me as well dear Ms Moon and I am grateful for your sharing. My thoughts at this time are also difficult sometimes, dark and's a part of me, a part of all of us, I suspect. So the images that worked their way into my imagination may not be explainable but were beautiful...They involved images of the true wholeness of our being, the grooves and gouges we experience in this life parts of patterns that help to create a whole we never see here/now, but experience as single tracks of deepest pain, fear or melancholy, etc. The highs are also parts in the whole.Twas wondrous. And methinks the little mushrooms may allow some a glimpse or feel for that wholeness. I am glad there is more that I understand, it does give comfort..not all the time, but sometimes.

  7. I agree it's not all in our heads, it's knitted though us, in our muscle memory, in our nerves. This is the problem.

    The man he was in your adult life was probably not anyone you would have had trouble dealing with, is the thing. It's the little girl who had the problem.

    Ugh, I wish it were all different. Or that there was a way to erase and restart those memories. This is a hard time of year, one way or another.

    I read about the shrooms, it's so interesting. I hope they get to develop the experiments further. I never did them because I have a Fear of nausea, but my brother was a big fan - they're plentiful where we live too.

    I hope this new year is an easier, sweeter one for you, Mary xxx

  8. Ms. Moon - my second comment on your blog so far. I wish I could reach through the screen and give you a hug. I too had horrible things happen to me (and my sister) as a child. My brother was the offender (does it really matter who ripped our souls out - not really) I know that itchy - unsettled feeling - I get it too. What is that anyway?I am so sorry you had to live through such pain as a child...I suppose it has made you the person you are today...loving, kind, funny - a mother, wife, MerMer...but really - did we really need those awful things to happen to be the people we are today? I would think not. Always feeling not quite whole or good enough for this world. :( I am so sorry you are struggling. I am sure you have said over time on your blog - but why do you not want to be on meds? (paxil saved my life many years ago) Blessings to you....Marcia

  9. Big Mamabird- I know without a shadow of a doubt that what I am feeling many more have felt and do feel. That gives me the permission to write it out. I just don't know if I have the courage to take the sacrificial mushrooms. Well. We shall see. Thank you for your words.

    Jo- I never had the nausea problem with mushrooms but I've never experienced sea-sickness either. So maybe that's just me. I've often wondered about future-treatments where they can go back and erase memories and my opinion personally is- make it happen. I'll sign up.
    Until then, I'll just deal as I can. As do we all.

    Marcia- I feel as you do- that old worn-out philosophy that we are who we are because of what happened to us makes it a good thing- fuck that. Who would we have been if it hadn't?
    I've been on anti-depressants before and they have helped and if I get to the point again where I can't-live-like-this, I will try them again. I promise.

  10. I will always be grateful for mushrooms. I could easily see doing them today if my liver wasn't so shot. Quite seriously.

  11. It's always amazing to me, when I read stories/books/blog entries about people who have persevered, made their lives better in spite of childhood trauma.
    All the self-help books would tell you that you need closure. Maybe you should have a little ceremony. Not for your stepasshole, but for the little girl in the picture! Celebrate her. Who knew that tiny little girl in the cowboy hat would be so fucking resilient?! She's my hero. Bake her something and pour her a nice glass of wine because she is a force to be reckoned with, someone that needs a little pampering, a lot of love and a ton of respect.
    She's a survivor. A Survivor!


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