My Thoughts From Last Year’s 10th Anniversary of 9/11

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On this, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I remember where I was that day and the events that occurred in the days immediately following it. I’m sure that every other American who was alive that day (and who was old enough to remember it), remembers the events of that day as well. I remember watching the morning news on CBS, as I waited for my sister-in-law to pick me up and take me to the ISU Daycare; I was being evaluated that day to see how I interacted with the children, and I was evaluating whether or not my MS (Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that attacks the body’s autoimmune system) could handle working at the daycare.
My sister-in-law picked me up immediately following the first plane being flown into a tower at The World Trade Center. When I left, I was still under the impression that there was a communication problem between the control tower and the planes flying into New York. It wasn’t until around noon, that I figured out that something more was going on. The majority of the international students at ISU took their children to the university daycare for childcare. In fact, most of the children in the class who weren’t American were the children of my Middle Eastern friends.
So, when my third friend came to pick up his two children, I asked him what was going on. That’s when I learned that a second plane had flown into The World Trade Center, and that a plane had hit the Pentagon, and another had been crashed in a Pennsylvania field. My immediate thought, was fear that my brother-in-law might have been hurt. He was a Marine who worked at the Pentagon, but luckily he wasn’t at the Pentagon that day.
The head of the daycare told me that I was free to leave for the day if I wanted to, because so many of the children had been picked up by their parents, I wasn’t needed. My sister-in-law picked me up and I decided to stay with her until my husband arrived back in town from work, and to be honest, I was a little nervous. It somehow felt “safer” to be with family. When we got back to my sister-in-law’s house, I found out that a bomb threat had been called into my oldest daughter’s elementary school. My second grader attended the elementary where the international students’ children attended; apparently, someone decide to call in a threat because they knew that “Muslim children” were there.
My husband decided to comeback into town early and pick my daughter up. The children at her school had to deal with two terror attacks that day, the planes that crashed and the bomb threat that led to them being evacuated from their elementary school.
Don’t get me wrong, I was terribly worried about the events that the hijackers caused that day. I was worried about all of the people in New York, and I felt a sense of pride at being a citizen of America, where First Responder’s were willing to risk their own lives, in order to save other’s. A country where our First Responder’s will rush into places where most people would run out of. A country where people rushed out to give blood and to sign up for the military, where the majority of it’s citizens came together as one, putting aside their differences. I think this is the point where my experience started to differ from the majority of my fellow citizens.
The next day when I arrived at my house, pushing a double stroller, I was greeted with the sight of 5 police cars. I approached two of the officers who were standing in front of my house, and tried to find out what was going on. However, when they said nothing was wrong I said: Look, my father was the first African American police officer in the town where I grew up, and there wouldn’t be 5 police cars in front of my house if there wasn’t a problem. So, WHAT THE HELL’S GOING ON???? That’s when I learned that there were a large number of bomb threats being called in about the mosque, which was located directly across the street from my house.
I lived in an Indiana city that had an average of 60,000 citizens; I wasn’t scared that “Muslim” terrorists were going to attack me. In fact, one of the perpetrators of the first attack on The World Trade Center was being housed at the federal prison in the town where I lived (the same prison that the terrorist Timothy McVeigh, was executed at). However, I was in fear of different terrorists; I was scared of the Terrorists in my town, the one’s who would dare to call in a bomb threat on that horrible day.
These were the Terrorists who were calling in threats to the mosque that was directly across the street from my house. They were the people who were threatening my Muslim friends, even the one who was white and obviously born in America. My friends were being terrorized whenever they tried to leave their houses’. My husband I had friends who were asking if we thought they would be safer if they shaved their beards, to which we told them the sad truth, that it wouldn’t make any difference. Their skin tone’s would also give them away and there wasn’t anything they could do about that.
My husband and I had to get basic items for some of our friends because it wasn’t safe for them to leave their houses. One of my friend’s had just given birth to a beautiful daughter, who had dual citizenship for the United States of America and Egypt. I also had a new fear; countless times I’d watched my daughters’ play with their friends who were Muslim. And you know what I realized after 9/11, I realized that my multiracial daughters’ had the same skin coloring and hair texture as their friends.
That’s when I realized that the terrorist I feared, where of the homegrown variety; the terrorists that I feared, where the people who were calling in the bomb threats against the mosque that was across the street from my house. The terrorists’ that I feared, were the one’s who would look at my daughters’ and be unable to tell that they weren’t Middle Eastern, and might hurt them when they were away from me.

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I Thought You Were Different, But I Was Wrong

fuck

fuck (Photo credit: shellehs)

I don’t want you to feel responsible for me; hell, no one’s done that since before 1993
All I have to do is close my heart off more to the world
For some reason, I let myself believe that you would be different; you were for awhile, you were my rock
But then one day you moved me to my personal hell; still, I was supportive of you
You didn’t even notice that my soul  was fading away
You threw me into the arms of my abuser, but that wasn’t even enough pain for you
Why would you tell me the stories where he laughed about the way I suffered; the answer must be because you love me
After all, that’s what I know of love; actually, you hadn’t hurt or torn me down nearly enough to love me, yet
It’s got to be something pretty big to out do the bat that was shattered on my back
Perhaps, somehow I made an involuntary movement and you took that as my throwing the gauntlet down
It’s your turn to etch pain into my soul, but it’s got to be something really painful to get through all the scar tissue around my heart
Do you think you can do it; do you have it within you to tear me down and rip me to shreds
I was mistaken, you did indeed have it within you to darken my heart
But, unlike all the other people that i’ve ever loved, I gave you the tools to hurt me
I trusted you, and that was my biggest mistake; I allowed myself to believe that I was lovable
Or maybe my biggest mistake, was thinking that for some reason my love was valuable
By this point in life I should’ve known that my love had no value, that in fact I had no value
When something is valuable it is treated with great care, steps are taken to make sure valuable things remain unbroken
Steps like a parent protecting a child when the other parent is hurting them; instead you were worried about who paid the bills
Bitch, I am the one who paid the bill

I’m the one that he broke the bat on, because I was trying to protect you

Now, you are somehow miraculously unable to remember any of the incidents of abuse that occurred under your watch

You even said that you were never scared of him until you left; it must’ve been someone else screaming for help that December morning
Don’t you see, my value decreased EVERY-TIME that you chose a man over me
You carved out the chunks of my heart every single time you promised to be there to protect me, but showed up late
It was easy for me to stay with a guy who would threaten to kill himself if I didn’t have sex with him, hell at least he had some feelings for me
It didn’t bother me at the time that I let him hurt me so that I’d have a place to stay; he wasn’t supposed to love me, you were
What did you think would happen to my soul; did you think i’d suddenly figure out how to love myself
I learned how to survive, that I’d make it through any abuse or hardship that was placed in my path
A fact that managed to seep into your pathetic brain, you’ve acknowledge my strength in overcoming the trials that I faced
That’s not completely true, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that you’ve noticed my “strength” in the face of medical adversaries
I guess i should be thankful for that acknowledgment, lord knows you seem to have forgotten anything else that i did over the last 37 years
I don’t blame you, how could I…I was raised to believe everything bad that occurred was my fault
Did you even realize that as I cried at HIS funeral, I was crying because I’d realized that I was totally alone in the world now
I know, I’m fucked up
I was sad because a man who caused my PTSD is dead, and suddenly I realize that there is no longer anyone in my immediate family that loves me
The most perverse part of the situation is that even though HE beat the fuck out of me, deep down I knew HE loved me
I’ve been trained to believe that even the few fucked up moments of love from HIM, was better than to have no love at all
I sit here and all I can think of are the ways that the people that I loved and trusted the most, have betrayed me
My heart is filled with pain and sadness now, as I sit here pondering my marriage
For even he, was a participant in the scraping of my heart
I can’t get past the betrayal that occurred last year, at this point i don’t even know if it’s possible
I do know that: you hurt me, ruined both of my parental relationships, rejected me when I tried to discuss my desires to you, and betrayed me when you talked to my mom
I guess you must love me an awful lot; most of the other’s have only caused a crack in my heart
When you made your mark, you treated my heart like it was being swept up and battered in a tsunami
Guess what: I’M TIRED OF TRYING TO HANG ON TO A PIECE OF DRIFT WOOD WHILE KICKING MY FEET

Daddy’s Little Girl/ What I Wanted to Say but Couldn’t

Deutsch: Polizeihauptmeister MZ (mit Zulage) a...

Deutsch: Polizeihauptmeister MZ (mit Zulage) am Hamburger Rathaus. English: A senior police officer of the Hamburg police on assignment at Hamburg city hall, Germany. Français : Capitaine de la police de Hambourg en faction devant l’hôtel de ville de Hambourg, en Allemagne. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL
One of my earliest memories took place at this church; I was walking with my mother when a woman stopped us and said that I looked like my mother. I looked at her and said with the simplicity of a child: No I don’t, I’m my daddy’s girl!
As young girl I was my dad‘s shadow; to me, the sun rose and set with my father. If my dad went somewhere, I was always right there by his side. I was there when we got into his truck when it was still dark outside, and we stopped to pick Frank Tribble up, so we could set off on one of our 5a.m. fishing trips. My dad had a secret spot on the northern end of the county. On my first trip, I of course caught the largest & most fish. I can remember the excitement that I had when I described the “big mouth” bass that I caught. My dad just smiled and didn’t even tell me that it was really called a large mouth bass.
Then there were all the football practices that he took me to; I would yell at the players to get their legs up higher as they ran through the tire drills. I can’t forget the nickname that he used to call me, Little Bird. He painted the wood trim around our rock garden white and I got into the wet paint. He told me that it looked like a little bird had gotten into it & thus my nickname was born.
When I was little I would get scared every-time he went to work because,I didn’t know if he would return home safely. Well, I paid attention to all of the lessons that I had at daycare on calling 911 to call the police. In fact, you could say that I learned the lesson too well. I would always call 911 & ask if I could speak to my father. However, that all changed the day the 911 dispatcher called my house and spoke to my mother. She asked my mom if she could teach me the non emergency number for the police department, apparently they didn’t feel that my wanting to speak to my dad was an emergency….ooooooppps!
If you knew my father in a professional way or if he was ever your football or wrestling coach, then you know that my father could be tough. He wanted you to give him 110% of your effort, because that’s what he always gave. I’ll be the first to admit that at times it could be frustrating. But to this day, I can still feel the pride he had when he told me that he’d heard my name on the radio after I’d won the 300 meter hurdles, at my first high school competition.
However, my father wasn’t always tough. I can still see the tears that ran down his face on the day of my prom. You’re probably thinking that his tears had something to do with me growing up, but you’d be wrong. He was really crying because the thing he wanted the most for his birthday in 1992, was for his little bird to get better from my paralysis. So for his birthday, I was able to walk to him unassisted and I saw my father cry. He also cried when he held each of my daughters’ for the first time. I may not be my Daddy’s little girl anymore, but I will always cherish the memories of when I was.
THE WORDS THAT I COULD NOT SAY
I read the above words at my father’s funeral, I spent a lot of time thinking of what to say. This was the last day that I was going to have to publicly live the charade, the last time I would have to publicly act like my father was the amazing man that everyone else thought he was. The real quandary however, was to write a heartfelt and loving commentary without lying. I think that the words that I couldn’t say at the memorial are the words that best describe the truth; the words that describe the legacy of pain, sadness, self-doubt and anger that my father gifted to me over the past thirty-six years.
For example, I couldn’t stand at the front of the church before three ministers, the mayor, several judges (including a judge from one of the states highest courts), family, friends and countless people who knew my father and say: You want to hear something funny? Well, I actually thought my friend was teasing me over a Facebook status, but it turns out he was trying to tell me that my father had died. If I’d said that, then I would’ve had to tell everyone that I hadn’t talked to him since December. Because, then I would have to tell them, that courageous man who had become the first African American police officer of our town, had also become such an verbally abusive ass, I couldn’t try and assist in making medical decisions for him any longer. I couldn’t say that each time that I went to his house I had horrible nightmares.
While standing at the front of the church, I couldn’t say: My father was not the man that you thought he was; he was a great police officer, a caring and wonderful coach, but he was also the creator of my personal hell. After all, I was in a state of confusion and turmoil during the period starting with his death until about the one month anniversary of his death. As sad as it sounds, the first thing that I said when I was able to truly comprehend that he was dead was: Well, hopefully now we can both have peace.
Unfortunately, peace was the farthest thing from the feelings that I actually had; I was painfully sad, I could actually feel an ache of sadness in my chest. For the first four days, I could barely think of anything besides the fact that I would never see my father again, he was just dead. I would look at my daughters’ and see characteristics in their features that I knew came from my father’s side of the family. This thinking began to take a circular motion, because I would then start thinking about a time when a man I didn’t know came up to me and said that I had to be Charlie Brown‘s daughter, because I looked just like him. Then I started thinking about the fact, that the person that I look the most alike in the whole world was dead. I always arrived at the same conclusion,the same words that I didn’t want to admit:

I always thought that somehow, we would miraculously become a part of one another’s lives again, and my father would once again be the wonderful father that he was when I was little. I couldn’t admit it to myself at that point, but what I really wanted, what I needed and craved was to hear my father tell me that he loved me.

However, I wasn’t allowed time to process any of the feelings that I was having about my relationship with my dad. I needed all my strength to deal with my mother and sister. I couldn’t ask my mother why she even wanted to come to my father’s funeral. My husband told me that she should come to the service because she was the former wife and mother of his children. When I told my mother that I was surprised that she would even want to come to his funeral, she told me that my sister wanted her to come and everything suddenly made sense.
Of course my mother wanted to be at the funeral, I’m sure my sister convinced her that she wouldn’t be able to make through the service without her support. I repeatedly had to fight back the words that I wanted to say to my mother and sister, I understood that the important thing was to lay my father to rest.
So many times I wanted to say to my mother and sister : You may have been married for twenty-six years, but for the last 17 you’ve barely said hello to my father, mom. You know at all of the birthday parties that I had for my daughters’, or when you attended my college ring ceremony, or my college graduation. Hell, he couldn’t even come to my wedding because you forbid it. You told me that if my father was going to attend then you wouldn’t come, but since your current husband was the minister performing the ceremony, what choice did I really have? And you, why did you come?
Yeah, I know you’re his daughter, but did YOU know that you were his daughter? It sure as hell didn’t seem like you remembered it after the first stroke, when he was first diagnosed with congestive heart failure, when he caught his house on fire. Was there any time during the last six years that YOU remembered that you were his daughter? Hell no you didn’t; he didn’t have any money then, so his usefulness to you had ceased. Do you know how many fucking times I listened to him bitch, or cry because he couldn’t see YOUR kids. Yeah, it got really old, but of course you were still the fucking golden child.
What the fuck was I, was I not important too? I was the one taking care of him; go figure the one that he beat was the one who tried to make sure he was alright. Did you really think that it was helpful to me when you told me to take care of myself? No shit, but in the real world sometimes you have to place someone else’s needs above your own! I didn’t have the luxury of living in Ireland and acting like none of the problems I was dealing with existed.
I was never the “golden child”! I was never the child who got private music lessons, never the child that our mom cared about. I was the scapegoat in our family, the person that EVERY problem was blamed on. I was the one who got beaten while trying to protect everyone else, and the one that nobody cared about enough to protect. Wasn’t it about time that you had to deal with some of these problems? But, I still tried to do what was in his best interest.
I was a prisoner in my own fucking house, hiding when he would knock on my front & back door. I had to train my girls to be quiet whenever there was a knock on the door, because I never knew if that was going to be the day that Dad had the energy to go around my house. He would somehow manage to walk around my entire house. He would knock on every single fucking door or window in my house. And you know what, unlike you, I took care of things because it was the right thing to do. Because no matter what happened or what demons I was fighting from my time growing up in his house, I wanted my girls to know that sometimes you do what’s right, just because it’s the right thing to do.
I’m wondering if perhaps you thought there would be some kind of will, that somehow the two of you selfish and uncaring bitches thought he was going to leave you something. God, just the thought of it makes me want to laugh. There we were sitting in the front row, the ex-wife and the daughter that couldn’t stand him, the grandchildren who loved him, and me, the daughter who’s pain was evident. The daughter who actually cried during the service & at the burial….neither one of you had so much as a tear drop from your eyes. The daughter who’s gone through her whole adult life and teenage years, wondering what she did to make the person she loved the most not love her.
I also couldn’t say:
Mom, where the fucking have you been for the last twenty-five years? Where were you when I needed you to protect me, just like you did all of your child protective services clients. I try to maintain some semblance of a Mother/Daughter relationship. But, it’s very difficult when you still have the audacity to say the stupidest things to me. For some reason, I thought I’d try to understand and see things from your perspective. God, I even asked you if you stayed with my father because you were scared of him. Honestly, if you had said yes I still would’ve thought that it was a cop out. But, you said that you were never scared of him while you were still living with him.
Boy, I really wish I’d known that before I yelled at him when I heard your screams; it would really have been nice to know before I grabbed that baseball bat. Who would’ve guessed that he would’ve broken on that damn thing on my back? Who would’ve guessed that after he broke the bat on my back, that you would show how pathetic you really were. For some reason, I had still been holding out hope that somewhere in your microscopic soul, you had an ounce of radiant awesomeness that is required to be an amazing mother. I was horribly wrong. Go figure!
Honestly, I didn’t think that it was possible for you to say something that could make me think any less of your mothering skills. When you said that the things that occurred when I was a teenager weren’t fair, I was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, you were going to be able to redeem yourself to me. But I should’ve known better. You opened your mouth, and when you began to complain that it hadn’t been fair because , you always had to be the adult. When I responded that I always felt like I had to be the adult too, you must not have understood me.
You actually went on to describe how hard it was for you, always having to show up to court during the time the state removed me from your care. Guess what bitch, it was pretty fucking hard for me to go around my school with fingerprint marks around my neck from where your husband choked me. It’s funny how you don’t remember any of that. Nor, do you remember how you’d promised me that you’d be home when I got home from school that day. Since you have the memory of a fly on a piece of shit, let my tell you what day I’m talking about:

I’m talking about that day in January, of my freshman year of high school…You know, the day I called you because your husband had just finished telling me he was going to beat the hell out of me when I got home.

I don’t know why I thought you would help me when I called you. I still wish that I hadn’t gone home on the bus that night, like I’d originally planned. Because, maybe if I hadn’t done what you said my father wouldn’t have almost choked me to death; most importantly, I wouldn’t have known how much you didn’t care about me. It would’ve made it a hell of a lot easier for me to love myself; if id known then that there truly was nothing i could do to make you love me. But, when you and the Golden Child walked through the door,( at a time that was later than you normally got home)you had already failed me. I’d already learned that holding your breathe like on the movies really can make the person who’s choking you, think that you’re dead. I’d also learned, that to you my sister would always be more important to me.
But alas, I couldn’t say any of those things to my Mother or sister because my husband said it wasn’t the right time. So instead, I welcomed the Golden Childand my mother into my house with open arms. Of course, I couldn’t say any of those things at the funeral.
For some reason, I felt that it was important for my father to be recognized for the sacrifices that he’d made, and acts of bigotry and hatred he’d had to overcome. I thought it was important for the city that he served to honor him. The little bit that he shared with me about his early days as the first African American police officer, left me with the knowledge that things had been very difficult for him.
I guess the most important things I wanted to say to you or ask you, are as follows:
Dad, what happened while you were in Vietnam? What were the demons that you couldn’t escape, that changed you from the shy and somewhat quiet teenager that people say you were? What is it that you saw or had to do there, that kept you up almost every night? Dad, what caused you to change? Why did you stop being the man that adored me and become the man that I feared? What was it that you learned as a police officer, that made you scared to let me grow up? Do you know that because of the way you treated me, I was willing to sell my self short just to make sure that YOU couldn’t hurt me anymore? Do you know that I have scares all over my left arm, I got them when I would cut myself because I couldn’t handle the emotional pain. Did you know that all of the fucked up shit you did, causes me to have night terrors? I rarely remember any of the dreams that I have; the only “dreams” I remember are the one’s that involve you trying to hunt me down and kill me.Do you know how much guilt I’ve carried around for the last 26 years? Guilt, that was caused by you; I felt like a slut through all of middle school, because some asshole that was mad about you arresting him, decided to molest me at the beginning of seventh grade.
Yesterday, was the first time you birthday occurred since your death. Understandably, I experienced periods of sadness, and also periods of anger. I’m angry because I never got to experience the father you were before May of 1986, again. I’m angry because no matter what anyone did to try and help you during the last year of your life, YOU WERE AN ASSHOLE!
I’m also sad…I’m sad that I never got to say good-bye to you.

 

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or in part without the author’s sole express permission.

 

OVERWHELMING SADNESS, INTENSE ANGER AND A BUNCH OF LIES

As I write this, I am somewhere along the feeling line of physically painful heartache, pissed offedness (Yeah, I’m making up my own fucking words now), and feeling that I’m living a lie everyday. Last night, a beautiful 15 yr old girl died in my town. It would be one thing if she died in a car-wreck or some other type of accidental manner, but Tori’s death was entirely preventable!
I can’t help feeling like we as a community failed this beautiful soul; you’d think one of us “adults” would’ve been able to see the pain she was in. I know that someone in the high school she attended had to know she was being bullied. I can only imagine who alone she must have felt to consider suicide her only method of escape. I’m not just saying I know how alone she must have felt, to be empathetic; I remember being the first time I considered suicide an option, it was the time my dad choked me on the stairs and I held my breath so he’d think I was dead. But for me, school and classmates weren’t my personal hell like they were for Tori.
School, it was like my fucking fortress of solitude; perhaps part of the reason I got a degree in education, was so I could help provide someone else with the safe haven that I had. There were times when I literally slept outside of the auditorium doors; I knew if I went to hang with one of my friends who had an apartment, I wouldn’t be dragging my ass back in the morning.
In the last 24 hours, I’ve heard or read comments from a myriad of people who were upset with the school administrators for not doing anything. Yes, I feel their anger but I can’t fully embrace it-You know why? Because they had crappy ass counselors when I was in Middle & High school too (Not all of them, Martha Street rocked!). Shit, my mom and original guidance counselor met and discussed how I got along with almost everyone, from every “clique” in my school.
Here’s where the failure part comes in, they never once discussed the hand shaped bruises across my neck or my black eye. If they weren’t “capable” of preventing that, how can we honestly expect the majority of these people to help our kids? We can’t, well at least not completely on their own. If you’ve ever seen a teenager with a phone in their hand, you know they could type out a manuscript for the modern day version of Moby Dick, in the amount of time it would take some administrators to whip out their phones. Can you imagine all the rumors and innuendo that could spread via facebook and Twitter by 10 teens, in the span of an hour?
Now, imagine you are the person who the lies and rumors are being spread about….who do you tell? Do you meet with that same school counselor, a group of friends—although, you never know how many lies have been made up about them, using your name of course. At first, I thought maybe the bullies had been through something traumatic themselves and that is why they’re bullies.
But, that’s a fucking bullshit copout! I experienced some really painful & fucked up things, but I never intentionally hurt someone. Instead, I’ve always tried to be nice to everyone (I did say try. Every once in a blue-moon, you run into someone who is generally just mean, and even I can be persuaded to give up my attempts at kindness……
This piece will be ongoing, as I’ve got many thought’s about this devastating situation….but I also had surgery last week, and I’m already pushing it ;).