trauma bunnies

We can work it out, the song says. But no, maybe not, not always.

Trauma bunnies together. Walking. Why would you walk with me, I am so down? Oh, you are a trauma bunny too. Walking on the beach, slowing down, looking at rocks. The walks get longer and longer. You bring FOOD and tell me I have food insecurity. I laugh. But it is true.

Comparing notes about childhood. You say yours was worse. Yours was terrifying. You ran away over and over and over, but came home. Small children need food and shelter. You get older. A neighbor says if you run away now, you will never stop running. You do not run away permanently. But you still run.

My childhood has no bruises to the skin. But the bruises to the heart are a nightmare. You finally say that I win, my childhood was worse. But I was not trying to win, I want to say. I was just telling you as you’ve told me.

We have both survived damage and coped. I have the resource of a grandmother with money who paid for medical school. I apply without telling my parents, after my mother says, “You don’t want to be a doctor. It’s too much work.” I am a poet, a writer, being a doctor so I can study people and have children and be certain there is food. Job security. And food security, true. With a husband or without.

You fight school all the way, but when you are told that you will be a failure or in jail, you decide that you will prove them wrong. You are still proving it. You won’t tell how you make your money, not to the locals, but the new car every two years tells them you have money. And it’s the wrong kind of car: a liberal car for a professed conservative. It stands out.

We start playing trauma bunnies after six months. You want me to come to dinner and I turn New Yorker and direct: is this a date? You are surprised. I set the boundaries and you think about it. And say yes.

But trauma bunnies is not as much fun as the beach. We get close and intimate and then you run. When you run, I run too: the other way. I don’t chase you. You haven’t experienced that before. You keep coming back. Why aren’t I chasing you? Because I too am a trauma bunny, remember?

Back and forth: close and far, together and apart. All holidays become times when you run, so that I will not be part of the family. I announce that I am now your mistress and you can’t be with my family either. Back and forth. Closer and then you refuse to come to my son’s wedding. Far again.

You say the summer will be very busy. You say your focus is music. You say we can go to one beach. One beach? For the whole summer? I run to europe and you are surprised. I ask, are you too busy to have me around? No, you say. But when I return, you have a friend staying with you. Intimacy disappears.

I am tired of it. My daughter is here.

At last I bring up sex: are we done with that?

No, you say. We have visitors.

Wouldn’t stop me, I say.

You say, sex is still on the table. Then you hem and haw. You say sex is not important, you can take or leave it. The friendship is more important. Well, the friendship is most important, but sex IS important to me and hello, it’s damn insulting of you to say you can take or leave it. Leave. This is all triggered by your yearly family get together. You need me at a distance so you won’t be tempted to invite me. You don’t want me there so I am distanced again.

And I am done, done, done. I dream of a small child, a wild woman, a woman doctor and someone new: a quiet woman. I think about the quiet woman and I ask the other three. Yes, they say.

The quiet woman is the adult. Not the mask of the professional, not the wild defense fighter, not the small child. The small child has healed. She is the connection to the Beloved, to the source of the poems. She blesses the others. The quiet woman takes over.

The quiet woman takes over. She says goodbye, farewell, Beloved keep you and bless you, you may contact me any time.

You are in your cave alone and do not answer.

You may end up there, alone, alone, alone. You want freedom most of all, you say. Another song: freedom is another word.

Yes it is. People can change and grow. But some want to and some don’t and sometimes we don’t grow at the same time.

Yes, says the quiet woman. Sometimes we don’t grow at the same time.

Fade to quiet.

______________________________

I took the photograph from a canoe at Lake Matinenda in Ontario, Canada.

Ogre

I am now a full grown Ogre

We mature at a different rate
than you humans
I don’t really pass as human
but since I am 5’4″
no one guesses I’m an ogre

I have been an Ogre since
before birth
my mother ill
attacked by antibodies in the womb
luckily the illness does not cross
the barrier of the mixed mother daughter
the placenta
but the antibodies do cross

I am born with my immune system
red hot and ready to fight

my maternal grandmother is an Ogre too
she cares for me while my mother heals
you are right to refuse help she says
you may feed yourself
and she lets me
I am four months

Two grrl cousins are also stressed from birth
one arrives early and survives
smallest child to live in that city
all they have for premies is a warm box
her parents are warned
she might be slow

the other is born in Bangladesh
mother very ill
mother damaged by illness
she survives too

three Ogres?
No
different mitochondria
from three different mothers different immune systems different parents

Ogre, dark angel, and martyr

And the others wonder why we fight

A woman says “I like you when you’re well.”
to me when I am sick
and my partner disappears
he says, “I can’t have a disabled partner.”
I snarl, “I am not disabled.
I am just on oxygen.”
But it is not true
I am disabled
And very annoyed

I avoid the woman for a year
and think about it
I am never “well”
if it’s an antibody disorder
and if I got it in the womb
what would I be like if I did not have it?
no one knows
and I don’t either

So I have done well
in the end
to survive a chronic illness since before birth

Ogres take longer to mature
but once we do
we are hell on wheels

And at last I accept it

I am happy being an Ogre
and I will be the best Ogre I can

And it will be fun
At least, for me

Which?

For a long time I think I am a werewolf, but I am not controlled by the moon. But I can get angry. And then I remember this poem and think “Not a werewolf. An ogre.”

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Butterfly Girl Comes to Visit

She is so beautiful with her wings
multicolored many splendored lights caught and multiplied
as she flutters

I freeze
I am an ogre
Huge and clumsy
I know from past past many times
Not to touch you
My rough fingers have brushed the tiny feathers from your wings
You cry in pain and your flight becomes erratic
My kiss is just as bad
Rough lips
If I move the wind of my passing blows you against a window
You fall stunned

I hold and crush
the box of feelings that can hurt you
Sorrow, anger, fear, dismay
Even fatigue turns my aura red
And scorches your wings

I hate to cause you pain

Fly butterfly girl
My baby needs me, my pager rings
My ogre husband stirs
The effort of holding still plain on his face
I can’t hold still much longer

Butterfly girl
Fly on home

defiance

I am listening to the Offspring today. Because I have a friend who is not behaving like a friend.

It is what people do that matters, not what they say. They can say they are my friend all they want, but if they treat me badly, I will walk.

The Offspring are fabulous for defiance. Though I need to change the genders on this one.

And not only that: they are fighting opioid overdoses and death:

Bravo, Offspring. Blessings and peace you.

silence

You are silent.

I try a little more but I am tired. I am tired of drama, trauma drama. I dream and dream and dream. I dream that my ex touches a live bat. The bat changes in my dream, from a tiny brown nose bat to a huge fox bat with fur and stripes. It is unconscious.

“Don’t touch it! You touched it! Now we have to take it to the Health Department!” I am eyeing the bat and thinking of throwing something over it. A container. It’s huge.

My ex laughs. “No we don’t.”

“Yes we do! Rabies! It could have rabies! If we don’t take it in, you’ll need rabies shots!” Poor bat, I think, it will be killed to test for rabies.

My ex keeps laughing. “I’m not going to be tested, I won’t have shots, and the bat is fine!”

“WHAT!” I say, “No, you could die!”

I wake up. What was that dream about? Oh. It’s about you, refusing to test for Covid after being exposed. You said you would hike with me. “Not if you won’t test,” I say, “I can’t afford to get Covid again, I can’t be around you for 15 days if you won’t test.”

And you go silent.

And I try a little more and I let go. You will have to break the silence if you plan to keep your promises. Will you or won’t you? I am supposed to trust you. But people say trust me, and then sometimes they are drunk, and lying, and you can’t trust them. “I will never hurt you,” is a lie. Try this instead: “I will try not to hurt you and I will listen if you feel hurt.” And change, maybe?

Maybe.

________________

Dreams are funny. Fox bats ARE the largest bats in the world, but they do not have stripes: https://allthatsinteresting.com/giant-golden-crowned-flying-fox.

Embodying a dream

I wrote about the two dreams I had one night, with seven people. Two babies, a boy and a girl. Two professionals, a woman physician and a male policeman. Two rebels, a woman and a man, the man lying or at least misleading the rebel woman. The rebel woman trying to do something that she suddenly realizes is not important and is, in fact, foolish and dangerous. And a quiet woman.

I have been thinking about the quiet woman ever since. My Meyers-Briggs type in medical school came out INTJ, but we are not one thing or another. We have preferences, but we all have to use all the skills. I can be extroverted. I had to work on feeling, that was the really difficult one for me after a frightening childhood. I can pay attention to facts though I sweep them into the intuition very quickly. Medical school is facts and facts and facts, except then there are parts that turn out to change as science changes.

The eighth person is a quiet man. He is not present in the dream. I am thinking about him. I wonder if I will have another dream when I am ready.

I am attending some workshops on line for treating trauma. It is quite fascinating. They talk about working with clients who have aspects like my dream: a small child with trauma. A “fake adult”, aka “adaptive child”, with the tools that the child develops to survive in their childhood. Helping the “fake adult” recognize that some of coping tools may not be helpful or necessary any longer. First, they thank the “fake adult”, for protecting the traumatized child and for surviving at all and for not giving up. I think this is so important, to acknowledge that we have to thank that part of ourselves that did what it had to, that did what it could, to survive. And this can include things that we are ashamed of or fear that others would hate us for if found out. We had a temporary doctor at the hospital who described being a boat person escaping Vietnam at age 8. They were picked up by pirates. “We were glad to see the pirates, because we had run out of water. If the pirates had not picked us up, we would have died.” So there is perspective: death by dehydration or pirates? And she went from a refugee camp and then through medical school and became a physician. Survival and success and I hope that she is thriving.

I like it when a dream has such recognizable symbols. My now retired Unitarian Universalist minister says that we can sit with dreams for a time. What do the symbols mean to me? What is the dream telling me? My dream is in part telling me that I do not need to have the rebel woman lead: she can rest and let the quiet woman take over. And that I am very tired of rebel men who mislead me or run away. I woke up and thought, oh, yes, I see! I am tired of that and ready for change.

Change and transformation can happen throughout our lives, at any age. I welcome it.

Blessings and peace you.

___________________

The photograph is Sol Duc and Elwha enjoying doll bunkbeds. And acting like siblings do sometimes. And then they curl up together.

quiet woman 2

mirror mirror

I am culpable as the mirror
hiding hiding hiding
curious about you
what is it you want to see?

I am always surprised
when a man lays his fantasy over me

I have hidden and studied people
for many years
now realize that that is why
the fantasy gets overlaid

I did not know
I was hiding behind a mirror

I think about four men
serial monogamy
over fifteen years
a year break after each

a mirror reflects
a man’s own anima: his ideal woman

all four so different
yet there is a thread that binds
trauma like my trauma
and closer and closer to an opposite

I do not want to be a mirror
any more

the connection of the damaged child
I tried so very hard not to trigger
until the mirror broke
I hold pieces up in my bleeding hands

they leave when the mirror breaks
now I understand

this time was hardest and least hard
at the same time
I could almost see what was happening
almost

and now I can see
and break the pattern with the mirror

my friend says
why don’t you let them see
who you really are?
they would never have let me work

I had to wear the doctor mask
even with other doctors

the nurses and the staff saw through it
right away
they’d call me for patient needs
and knew I’d answer

did I have to wear the doctor mask
or did I wear it to feel safe?

water over the dam
but it’s time to take down the dam
and be myself
and not a mirror

I didn’t know this quiet woman is me

_________________________

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: ART!

Arty scores some ludes

Trigger warning: non graphic mentions of date rape, child abuse. A dark story for the Halloween season.

_______________________________

Mr. Smith is telling me about his daughter’s addiction to meth when the commotion starts.

He doesn’t seem to notice. I ignore sirens because the fire house is 6 blocks up the street, but I hear hooves. And people in the waiting room. Loud.

And Mr. Smith…. appears to be frozen mid-sentence. Uh-oh.

I am not frozen. I open the exam room door.

Artemis is there. Breastplate, feather headdress, inlaid turkish recurve bow, and she is not wearing a lady like toga. She is wearing armour. She is grinning at me.

There are lots of people milling around the exam room. Horses outside. I suspect 200. Or more.

“Quaaludes.” says Artemis.

“Ok.” I say. “Um.” I am thinking about the DEA. I get my paper prescription pad. Controlled substance, of course.

“We’re going to do a little pillaging.” says Artemis. “Kind of like date rape. Only in reverse.”

“Happy to help.” I say. “Uh, Bill?”

Artemis grins. “Well, he’s not the only one. You’d… well, you probably wouldn’t be surprised, would you.”

“No,” I say grimly. There are men in the waiting room too. That’s a bit of a surprise. I know two of them. Attended their funerals. Aids.

“I need enough for all 200 to…. well, discourage date rape and Cosbying.”

“So 600? Or 1000?” The DEA will throw me in jail. I write the prescription. Artemis touches it and it blooms in her hand, to 200 prescriptions.

“Don’t worry. The pharmacy is in Hades. The earthly DEA won’t have a problem.”

My receptionist is frozen too. I nod towards Artemis’s band. “I thought it was virgins?”

“We were all virgins once,” says Artemis, fierce. I can’t argue with that. She smiles again. “Thank you. We are going to have some fun. Sweet sweet revenge.”

I don’t really want details. My imagination is way too active. “Blessings.” I say.

“You too.” She turns, holding up the prescriptions. “Mount up!” Two women are riding velociraptors. Some of the horses have wings and other have horns. Three glow red and breathe fire. Some people are riding stags. They all have bows.

“You do need a bow.” says Artemis, looking back at me. “You’re a good shot.”

“Ok,” I say. I watch them leave in the air. The air starts looking a little thick and I go back in the room with Mr. Smith. I return to my position as best I can remember and then…

Mr. Smith is talking again.

__________________________

First posted elsewhere 2015.