Going on living

Photocredit: mtsofan on flickr
Photocredit: mtsofan on flickr

As part of my ongoing quest to stop I’m starting gradually to getting back into both doing things I’m passionate about and letting others witness me doing them. Tonight, I’ll be meeting to jam for the first time with a friend of a friend who plays the guitar. We’ve been discussing material and will be putting together some jazz and folk numbers, perhaps to perform. This is probably a good thing to do this week, continue to unfurl the sprout and reach for the sun rather than focus on worrying about how my mother will react.

I realized why I have the fear my mother will kill herself ‘accidentally’ in a car accident driving while sleep deprived (she works two full time jobs)  in reaction to my letter. It’s happened before.

A few years ago I decided to send altered father’s day cards to my abuser, reminding him of how his actions had affected me. I’d read this thing that talked about how under partriarchy the consequences of actions all flow downhill – boss yells at worker, worker yells at wife, wife yells at older kid, older kid hits younger kid, younger kid teases dog. I decided to make the ball roll up hill. I bought and doctored up a couple of these fathers day cards and sent them off in intervals. I forget if I sent one or more than one, I know I intended to send them every few months. I have a few left somewhere. It helped me deal with all the mushy  mushy we love our dads stuff around father’s day, by formally acknowledging my remembrance of daddy is quite different.

Anyhow, later that year, on my birthday no less, I get a call telling me that dear old dad had drunk himself into a .4 blood alcohol reading (in the range that causes death) and driven his car into the wall.  The two family dogs were with him and one died. The other was found unharmed. My abuser was in intensive care with a flail lung. (50% mortality rate) Coincidence he did this on my birthday a few months after his wife left him and I started sending him regular reminders? I think not. He almost died before some idiot doctor dropped by, spotted the flail lung and put him in intensive care, saving his life. In ICU, he was diagnosed with liver cancer  and contracted a flesh eating disease  (that almost killed him as well. Then he had to quit drinking, a virtual impossibility, and find a liver donor (also hard for an old drunk) to get a transplant. All of this news was spread out over the next several months. I was a wreck, getting news every couple of weeks or so that he was on his deathbed. My wife wouldn’t let me go visit him – she thought I might be tempted to kill him. I wouldn’t have done it, although I might have yelled at  him a bit hoping it gave him a heart attack or something.  I went to the cancer centre for these relaxation groups for family members. Blessedly, they didn’t make you say anything so I didn’t have to say I wasn’t actually hoping he’d survive. Then my mother, who had left the bastard a few months prior, moves back in with him to nurse him through his transplant and I was afraid she was going back permanently. She didn’t and recruited my abusers’ sisters to take second shift. She noted that they went as a pair, so neither would be alone with him. The family really pulled together to save his life, which felt like a slap in the face.

What seems like divine intervention to me (Goddess only knows why) is the following:

  • Death rate from .4 blood alcohol – unknown but high
  • Death from serious car accident – unknown but high
  • Death from flail lung = 50% mortality
  • Death rate for Liver cancer over 5 years =94% mortality rate
  • Death rate from flesh eating bacteria = 73% mortality rate

Why are the Gods keeping this guy alive these past 5 or so years against all these odds? To give him more time to suffer (I approve) , give him more time to get to remorse (he’ll live forever…) or to give me time to prepare? I’ve been banking on at least the last one.

You can see now why I’m expecting him to die any time now. Particularly as he’s had a recurrence last summer and still smokes and drinks.

So anyways, tonight I’m going to sing. I’ve lost almost 20 lbs of camoflage so far and I’ve mailed a brave letter to my mother. One day soon I’m going to set up a sword dance lesson with the teacher I researched.

I can do this.

This is a song I wrote several years ago:

When the world is full of pain, and there’s no way you can stop it.
The truth’s a bitter shame, and the holy has been stolen.

When there’s no safe place to go and there is no-one safe to love
And you have to hide your face to survive.

Remember, there’s no reason to go on, but you must.
The world makes no damn sense but you go and live there anyway
When you remember, there’s no reason, maybe no hope and no reward, go on living, loving, hoping anyway.

I thought my courage to survive was all I’d ever need,
but the world I re-emerged to I could no longer believe.
When you’ve seen the very worst there is the greatest feat of all is to

Remember, there’s no reason to go on, but you do.
The world makes no damn sense, but you go and live there anyway.
When you remember there’s no reason, maybe no hope and no reward,
but go on living, loving, hoping anyway.

(Copyrighted material (C) 1991 All rights reserved. You can quote it but always credit the source.)

Photocredit: Ecstaticist on flickr
Photocredit: Ecstaticist on flickr

19 thoughts on “Going on living”

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  5. Passion and allowing others to see us in our passion. Hmmm. How truly profound. I will have to work on that, it is hard.

    I know a lot about what are my passions, but sharing them are hard. I am used to being ridiculed. But I firmly believe that when people find their passion and revel in it, that makes the world a better place.

    A survivor festival movement. I would love to be a part of that. Perhaps to start, perhaps a online instant message conference party? We could decide on music to play in advance and something fun to do or watch together. Anyways it might be a place to start. Or to have a post that can be an ongoing survivor festival, not sure if that is a good idea or not.


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  9. butterflysblog

    I think a survivor festival is such a wonderful idea. I mean, you know – why shouldn’t we all gather? There has got to be a lot of us. It could be for all of us and our supporters (like your wife and my husband).

  10. It’s not that I’d be taking care of them, I’d be trying to manage (control) what happens so the experience is the way I’ll need it to be. With more people that gets harder and harder. When I got married, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t all stressed on the day, and could just enjoy the experience, so I had a binder with info for all the people helping set up and whatever. I didn’t really have a maid of honour to do that stuff (I had a man of honour and he didn’t take that on). People laughed at the binder, but agreed it worked (or maybe they humoured me).

    A survivor festivall would be great though. I’ve been thinking about doing something, even organizing an dance class, survivors writers groups or a art making party or something with other survivors, more on a social ‘out of the survivor closet’ level, than therapy. But who am I kidding, I know maybe three survivors in my city (I used to know lots, when I was going to groups, but those were my early recovery days). I think you should start your ‘survivor baby sitting’ club too.

  11. I had to laugh at the part where you were worried about taking care of everyone else first, all while planning this sacred ritual. It is so true, isn’t it? I could totally see you as the type of person that worries about everyone else first. I love the idea of a survivor festival though, where we all learn this sacred dance.

  12. I like how you think – I think it would be fabulous to have a festival of survivors, rent a bus to drive up there for some grave dancing, but I’ll have to see if I can actually engage people to drive 11 hours away to do that. I’d need a tour manager, to make sure I could focus on my own grief/process and not be looking after everyone else (I have been thinking about it.) I’m trying to take things one step at a time – re-learning to do the sword dance is high on the first priorities list both for doing it properly myself and for teaching others. I also might go visit shithead’s home town (I like calling him that!) and talk to his sisters and other people who might be able to give me some information to help me make sense of things. I want to be careful not to get too overwhelmed with it all. Right now, singing, confronting my mom, losing weight, tomorrow the world! (grin!)

  13. I think it matters not the number of people there to support you, but rather the fact that people are there to support you, whether it be 1 or 100 or 1000. I so love the idea though of survivors coming from far and wide to witness this beautiful ritual, and knowing that at least in death, we have some power. Maybe it would give the rest of us some power in life as well. And then after that, we could all be strengthening and changing the world such that no other little girl or boy has to suffer what we went through.

    Thank you for posting the link to the Orthodox Judaism newspaper – I hadn’t noticed it. I have to admit, it felt really good to read that. And I love where you put it too: Allies. That is such a mouthful, isn’t it?

  14. At first I was going to do the sword dance publicl. I wrote an announcement to put in the local, kind of to shame all the teachers and adults who hadn’t seen and helped, and raise awareness, but also to claim space in my home town. I think shithead will be buried there as he still lives there, but I haven’t been back in decades.

    However, since it’s actually a pretty important ritual for me, personally, and I sincerely want to feel that his spirit has been disowned and bound from a religious/spriritual perspective and I’m going to need some focus for that, I’m thinking all that organization and other energy might be too distracting. I have a friend who is an artist and she was going to video it for me, and then I had planned to release the video more publicly.

    I’ll see how I feel when he actually dies, since I’m not sure which I’m going to want to do at this point. If I have lots of pagans/feminists/survivors to suppot me I might be able to do it as a public ritual, which I think would be better, but since he’s likely to be buried where he lives now, or where his relatives are from, I won’t know anyone there really. I’ve checked out the laws in my province/state, and they actually have a law that says it’s illegal to interrupt a ‘grieving ritual’. Since shithead is my relative, and it is genuinely a ‘grieving ritual’ of sorts, I think this would qualify, and would mean that no-one could interrupt once I started. It all depends on whether the cemetary (which has a rule that they can kick out people ‘disturbing the peace’) and the local police are sympathetic (or clueless) enough to enforce it. The more advance warning and publicity I give to the ceremony, the more likelihood that it will get disrupted in some way, but it could also be powerful.

    My fall back is just to do something referred to to cemetary staff as ‘the daughter of the deceased doing a traditional dance from the family’s scottish heritage as a grieving ritual’ at dear old dad’s gravesite, and then video it and release the video. Once I’ve done this ritual for myself, perhaps I could help other survivors do their own. I’m pretty good at helping other people do the rituals they want to do, regardless of their own religions. My artist friend has an abuser/relative who’s dying too, and I’ll be helping her do whatever ceremony she wants to do around that.

    I love Andrea Dworkin’s speech. Its easy for non-survivors to pretend it isn’t really as bad as all that, but when you’ve felt it in your body, you know it is. I’d love to find a way for supportive men/non-survivors to participate, perhaps by holding a solemn circle of bodies around the dancer.

    Did you see the new link I posted? I came across an Othodox Jewish man talking about sexual abuse survivors in a supportive way and added his article to my blogroll under ‘allies’.

  15. You know, if you think about it, there are rituals for so many things. To mark occasions we want to remember. The birth of a baby (in Judaism) comes with ritual, marriage and death come with rituals, coming of age (in Judaism, 13 years old), in other places 16 and 18 and 21. I mean, really, why shouldn’t this be a real ritual for all survivors to learn? Wouldn’t it be beautiful if you did perform this sacred ritual, and survivors came from far and wide to dance it with you? Or at the very least, bear witness to your doing it??

    Do you think if we got some organizations involved that maybe this could be an actuality? Feminist organizations, survivor organizations, etc? I suppose the only real problem with getting others involved is that it opens one up to others opinions, and you certainly don’t need that. This is sacred, and it doesn’t need other people mucking it up. But at the same time, maybe instead of mucking it up, it would take something beautiful and make it even more beautiful.

    When I was in college, I told my best friend about Andrea Dworkin’s “24 hour truce” speech. She made it happen on our college campus, and Andrea Dworkin came to speak at our campus. It was beautiful and amazing.

  16. What a gift to read this from you. Thank you.

    I have a dream…
    Of survivors everywhere, holding events where they dance on abusers graves, of troupes of survivors learning the sword dance and dancing it on related occasions as preparation for battle (maybe as support before court cases trying abusers) or celebration of victory over an enemy (after we kick their asses in court or they die).

  17. I love the words to that song!!! You are such a beautiful writer through this blog, I should have figured that you also create beautiful music. You are amazing, and an inspiration.

    Sometimes when I am feeling especially empowered, I imagine you doing a sacred dance on shithead’s grave, and it makes me feel so good. Sometimes I imagine I am there, standing there and witnessing the beauty of you performing this ritual and knowing what it means to you, and what it means to me to watch such a thing happening, and I feel beautiful too.

  18. Jamming last night went great. I have some pieces to practice for next week and some other ones to figure out what keys I sing them in. The next step in not hiding is to practice every day. Here goes!

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