Being home day after day following major surgery (I will write on the more in the future) gives my very active brain too much time to think at times. It likes to go in to overdrive. It doesn't help that I have such a good memory, and over 25 years later, I am left with memories, ghost of the past, still haunting me.
Each morning, now when I look in the mirror, I feel more of my "spark" fizzle. At first, when I saw the ileostomy bag, like with anything one might experience post-op (bandages, stitches, drains, etc.) my brain immediately processed it as TEMPORARY. You heal,and the bandages come off. It took me about 11 days before it hit me. It hit me Christmas night, like a bolder to the head.... This is not temporary. This is it. This is who I AM now. This is what I will always look like. All hope to be "fixed" another way is gone. I sat in the shower and sobbed until I had no tears left. My face was streaked red, but the droplet dripping from my chin were now just droplets from the shower head, and all of the salty remnants from my mourning were gone. Seeing the bag daily makes me think more and more about the past.
I think of silly, stupid things that annoy me. For example, I think of the pants that I can no longer wear, that I was trying so hard to look amazing in. I think of how just 2 years ago, I still looked decent in a bikini. I think of how horrible my hair looked in the family pictures we took a few years ago. Silly, stupid things. I get annoyed over that stupid red dress hanging in the laundry room...
Joe travels every year on Valentine's Day. He promises to make it up to me with a date on another night, which he did in 2015. Last year while he was traveling, I bought a sexy red dress with long lace sleeve, and it was short, which Joe loves. I bought an amazing pair of heels to match. I sent him pictures to show him that I was looking forward to our date night. The date never happened, and the dress sits unworn. I cannot wear the dress with this bag. It angered me. It was a waste of money. Joe will not be traveling this year, but we also seem to have a full schedule, with no time for us, so the fact that the red dress just will not work on my body anymore makes it a bit easier to deal with, as I plan to bag it up and say "goodbye". I won't be searching for a replacement.
I think of all of the dreams I never accomplished, and now never will. I am getting closer and closer to 40 years old, and so much time has been lost. I have come to accept some, and feel anger with the rest.
What has really been on my mind and heart regarding the past lately, are my past relationships. Relationships, and the ways in which I went about protecting myself and my friends, or so I had thought, during so many hard years.
I begin looking back and seeing just how easily I fell into controlling relationships with boyfriends as a teenager. I also realize that it was a way of protecting myself. The men who hurt me worse had no rights to me. They did not have permission to touch me, to invade my personal space, and yet they did. I found boyfriends who needed a long-term, dedicated girlfriend; a girlfriend who was broken herself and wouldn't easily leave, and then did all they asked of me. If they wanted me to cancel on my girlfriends to go somewhere with them, I did. If they wanted me to change who I was and what I enjoyed doing, I did. They kept me safe from others, and I just had to deal with their level of abuse, alone. I could balance out handling one. I couldn't go back to being uncertain. I couldn't go back to not knowing who would hurt me, and who was a friend. Those relationships made my life go down a path I wish I had turned off of.
I look at my high school years. A big part of high school was spent in the band room. I think about my relationships with my fellow trombonist. I laugh when I think about Ryan telling my sister, Chettie, that she needed to have a talk with me. I was an goofy Freshman, and he was a Junior. He told Chettie that I kept starting at him, and that he thought I had a crush on him. I didn't. Later we became good friends. I was staring at his ears. They freaked me out a bit. I was offended that he thought I was crushing on him, and I plain out told him that his big ears were completely full of blackheads, and they bother me. We shared a music stand, and when I would be staring at the stand I could see his ears out of the corner of my eye. He kind of laughed, and then got sullen for a few days. Then all was good. He grew his hair long. Problem solved.
Brandon. How I loved Brandon. He was my first trombone partner, and our friendship blossomed in middle school. He was goofy and awkward, like me. But he was also confident. He continued to be one of my all-time favorite friends, and the only friend that took a picture with me at our High School graduation. On graduation day, I felt the loneliest I had ever felt. I wonder how I could have changed things, how I could have lived High School differently. Adam also joined us as a trombonist. He came to the "dark side" after seeing how cool it was to play a brass instrument. Those days were so simple. I remember feeling happy at times. I remember laughing. Why does it seem like so few moments were spent laughing in high school and middle school?
The memories that truly haunt me, are those of my lost friendship with girl friends. I think that maybe, maybe if I told them what was truly happening in my world... but I remember the times they looked at me with pity.
You see, I was honest about the fact that my home life wasn't the greatest. A few times, instead of being hit, my dad lost his temper and threw a plate at me from the family room, through the kitchen to where I was crying. I was standing at the sink each time crying because I was once again doing my siblings' chores. They wouldn't do the dishes, and my sister would have left the house to be with her friends or to do Kickboxing, and my brothers just wouldn't do the chores. So, my dad would be mad, and tell me to do them. When I made a fuss, his patience was gone, and he would snap. I joked with my girl friends. I called the plates "flying saucers". They had a hard time believing that my dad, who seemed pretty cool, was also so hard on me. My mom was tired and depressed, and my dad was working or yelling. That was all I was willing to share with my girl friends.
When it came to light, that I knew more about male anatomy then most young girls my age, I couldn't deal with the thought of being seen as more of a freak than I already was. When we would sit by the canal discussing boys, and crushes. I lied. To me, it was better to say I had willingly gone further with a boy I liked, then to tell them I had been raped. When I talked about my "crush" it was easier to act boy-crazy about the redheaded 18 year old that seemed to have an interest in me and happened to be another one of my friend's older step-brothers, than to tell them that he tried to force himself on me the last time I was at her house. That he put his hand over my mouth and touched me. Or that he backed me in to a wall with his back to me, pulled my arms around to his front (as if I were hugging him from behind) and put my hand down his pants and on him to show me that "he wanted me". I was 13 years old. I then slept the rest of the night in my friends room, scared to get up to go to the bathroom, or leave the room without her for any reason. I never went to her house again after that. That story was too difficult to tell. It made me feel dirty. So I lied to my other friends. The friends I cared most about. The friends that I didn't want to judge me. I instead told stories of me being willing, instead of me being abused. As a girl in middle school, I didn't realize what my lies would mean. I would look older and mature, not a girl that was a freak, that remembers the pain of being touched by older guys since she was 5 years old. Eventually my best friend, whose birthday was only 2 days after mine, whom I cherished, but I had lied to, went her own way. I lived with the knowledge that perhaps I caused it by hiding so much.
My freshman year of high school, I could have really used my friend's support. As all of my relationships were crumbling around me, I was struggling alone, with the fact that 3 young adult males, stole every last crumb of who I was. They left me broken. They left me afraid. They left me that much more alone. My safe-havens were ripped from me. I would sit on the bow of the sailboats and stare out at the waves, and talk to the wind. I would hide in books. I would get lost ion sleep, and dreams. I was alone almost all of the time.
I continued to hold some of my other girl friends at a distance even when it seemed we could become closer. I never told them the truth. If a boyfriend was abusing me, he was still "the best ever". I didn't get invited to sleepovers after 8th grade. I wasn't invited with a group of girls to go to The Snowball, and I stayed home. I didn't get invited to any Birthday parties throughout high school. The only graduation party I was invited to was Brandon's. I look back now, and the walls that I had built were so high!!
I mean, partially, my solitude was due to living in the country, without any transportation, but the rest was due to fear. the rest was due to my fear of being hurt. I feared breaking rules, and getting in to trouble. I couldn't rebel with my friends, because the consequences would be too great. I feared the dark. I feared being alone. I feared being in large groups. I feared offending people. I feared being disliked. I feared being bullied more. I would line myself up with one person, one person who "loved me" and hide from everything else that could hurt me.
I still live in fear. I look in the mirror and fear the rejection that may come with this stupid bag. I question how I will put on a swimsuit. I question how I will ever change in a locker room. I question what my husband is truly thinking when he sees me naked. I feel the fear creep up my back and I feel helpless. I refuse to stand in front of a full length mirror. I cannot handle seeing who I have become. So memories enter my mind, I while wondering if there was a different path I could have taken, how I could have prevented this, I also remember other ghost of the pasts.
The direction of my thoughts make no sense. They truly are a web. today they are on people of my past. Lost relationships. Fear. I use to be afraid of ghost. Now, I seem to seek them out.