Medical History

My stepmother has been finding things to get rid of since my father passed. Last weekend she led me to a filing cabinet in her garage, and inside was a file with my name on it. Not one for my brother, just me.

Inside were notes I had written for friends, lists of my friends and their phone numbers, and medical evaluations written about me. I have read through three of them so far- evals written just after I turned fourteen. I am going backwards, and I hope to find some good stuff from when I was twelve and committed to a hospital.

I had called that hospital upon reaching adulthood and requested the file but it was no longer in existence. A legal rep for the entity informed me that all patient files had been destroyed.

So far I have found some interesting things. I was recommended to be placed in foster care and given intense therapy instead of going back home after I completed my survival course for troubled kids. My father’s parenting style was not working for me and was affecting my health, and I was considered to be isolated- which again is about my father’s parenting style.

I am hoping my proof of virginity is in here. Not because I need it, but because it is so fucked up that I had such a test done at age twelve that it seems unreal and I want to see it, even if in billing format.

Maybe I was predisposed to PTSD.

Dave Egar

Dave Egar was a street punk in Uptown Minneapolis. He already had a long and interesting history by the time I met him. I was only thirteen at the time, while he was about twenty-two. To me he was a sort of mythical figure. I know he was more faceted than I understood at the time, but my perception was limited and I couldn’t get into Williams Pub to spend a lot of time with him.

He was in charge of the squat we lived in on thirty-seventh and Garfield, and he was not terribly comfortable with that role, so he asserted his authority as little as possible. He did have his own room, and there was a bed in it, a luxury no one else had. But he was only in the squat when the bars were closed and he was tired.

He was beautiful. He had long hair when I met him and a short beard, his face was classically handsome. He always wore all black that winter, and typically had the tight jeans that punks always wore.

Everybody knew him. From the street kids to the crack dealers to the crazies hanging out on the corner that we called Pops or Grandma or whatever title seemed to fit. He knew everyone, and he spoke to all of us in the same manner. He never made the little kids feel little. I learned a lot by watching him interact with people.

When the police showed up during the Thanksgiving blizzard he stood in front of our door and tried to pass off our room as though no one were in it. Right up until the cops reached around him and shoved the door open. There must have been a dozen of us kids in there, all runaways, and none of us wanting to go home. He was smooth enough that the police wished us all a good night after asking if we felt safe. They let us stay.

One night around two in the morning he took the entire lot of us to Curly’s and bought us all a hot meal. Each of us had our own plate and we had cokes with it and none of us left much, even though shrunken stomachs had little room for a full meal. I remember the red light on the sign out front matched the red straws in the drinks, and they glowed even though the interior lighting was dim. He claimed he got the money off of a drunken yuppie. Not sure how true that was.. but we sure appreciated it. I doubt he kept any. He wasn’t like that.

But he did tell me one day while we were alone and keeping warm in the mall, after a long conversation, that I didn’t belong on the street and that I should go home. It wasn’t condescending and it wasn’t flippant. It was considered advice. He said I was too nice to be out there, it wasn’t safe for me.

I was arrested not long after. When I got myself in order and I managed to get back to Uptown a few months later he recognized me immediately and was a bit upset. He asked me if I was back and I told him I was visiting and he was relieved. He told me not to come back. He said “I can’t tell you what to do, it’s not my place, but don’t come back here to stay.” He was one of few adults who could get through to me. One of very few who knew me at all.

He hopped a train to New York, they told me. Aaron hung on my leg inside First Avenue and started to cry, years later. He told me Dave had died, someone had given him drugs and he didn’t make it. Dave never did drugs, he was a drinker, and the whole thing was suspicious. I was seventeen. It broke my heart. Every single street punk I was close to in my teens died from drugs. Some of them years later. But all of them are gone, before hitting thirty.

I tell my children about him. He has no equal. He is still missed.

When I Was Stolen

When I was fourteen, I was stolen, twice. I didn’t think of it that way at the time, I was sure I knew what I was doing, but they were adults. Now that I am a parent I know it was abuse, even if I considered myself complicit.
If I had a loving home and support from both my parents would I have made those choices again? No. I don’t think so.
I get hazy on the details, which might be a blessing.
But I ran away when I was fourteen, to be fair, I ran away at twelve and thirteen, too. I ended up squatting, nearly right away this time, in a suburb close to home.
I was in an abandoned apartment. There were no tools for survival or cleanliness besides running water and heat. There was some half eaten chicken that I recall, and I can still remember the smell of it- which was not pleasant. I don’t know if I ate any. I might have been vegetarian.
His name was Mike. I don’t know how I met him, but somehow I ended up in this abandoned apartment with him and then we got into a beat up old truck and there was another man in there named Tom. Those are their real names, though they sound made up and generic. It was really cold out, and it was the middle of the night.
We went to a house in the city that a couple with a new baby had just bought and were renovating. They let us stay a few days, it wasn’t bad, Tom and I babysat and Mike did odd repair jobs and it all seemed fine.
But after those few days it came out that Mike, a felon from Leavenworth, had a pistol. I think also he figured out Tom and I had been intimate. The couple in the house did not take kindly to unsecured firearms around their baby and Mike did not take kindly to my involvement with Tom and there was a fight on the front lawn. Very civilized. I sure can pick some winners.
Tom, outsizing Mike by quite a bit, won. Mike left, and I think he took his gun with him.
Days later Tom “borrowed” the couple’s older car out of a snowdrift and drove the two of us to Canada, right after I had given my age to the young mom, who had assumed I was an older teen until that point. I did not realize he was stealing a car. I had his ex-wife’s security number memorized with her birth date and we got through customs without issue. I passed for an adult. We were nearly to the first city over the border (about 120 miles in) when he turned around and brought us back, because he realized he had no work permit. Maybe he realized he had just committed international kidnapping. Not sure if he was smart enough to keep such a thing to himself. I spent a lot of time hiding in the car, though, so perhaps it had occurred to him.
We returned the car and of course were kicked out of the house for stealing it in the first place. We had been gone three days.
We went into Uptown and ended up sleeping in the back of a movie theater (they had an unused hallway on the side of the building) for a few nights before they realized we were in there and started checking for us at lockup. Tom got a job working under the table at the pizza shop next door and sometimes we slept there, but other nights we slept at a squat at 37th and Garfield.
There were tons of kids at the squat, one punk, and some crackheads. The heat was on, the water was not. The upstairs was not too bad, but the basement was awful. It was not a well maintained squat.
This was where I spent most of my time away from home during that run, on the streets in Uptown and sleeping in that squat.
My mother’s wife spotted me on a street corner there and mentioned it to my brother, who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone in my squat. So he had me arrested.
After they let me out of jail I asked to go back to the Bridge, a home for runaways. My mother had found a letter from Tom and read it at the hearing. Tom might have been there, I don’t know. I suppose I must have known him for a long time, as it was a twelve page letter, but I can’t remember how. Maybe I ran away to him, a second time, and am confusing the two as one. It seems telling to me that I cannot remember. Like my brain is trying to protect me. I spent a few weeks there at the Bridge before they sent me home.
I didn’t see Tom again as a kid.
He called on my eighteenth birthday. He described the cars in my driveway and asked who was in the house with me. I knew, right then, that this was not going to go away. I only had a two weeks before I was back out on the street but I wanted to nip this in the bud.
I invited him to dinner. At a restaurant. I invited every one of my friends over eighteen and every one of my brother’s friends that I could find-even the ones who couldn’t stand each other agreed to come. I think a dozen people showed up and they all knew the deal.
We all had breakfast (yes, at dinner, what’s better than all day breakfast?), with this bastard sitting at one end of the table and me down on the far right and all my friends in between being loud and obnoxious and laughing a ton. He never called my mother’s house again and I never spotted him after that, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t there. He had been there for four years I never knew.
I had some very good friends. I still owe them.

Still Floundering

It has been five years since I took off my headscarf. I don’t wear it anymore, but I did for about sixteen years.

I can’t stand my face without it or a turban. I wear neither, and I wish I did.

I hate my body. I miss covering it with shapeless oversized clothing. Form fitting clothes are very comfortable, easy to exercise in, but they are revealing. Everyone can see my issues.

I took a quick online test for body dysmorphic disorder and I scored just below- I probably don’t have it. I am currently working on processing trauma and I haven’t touched on how I loathe myself for being myself yet with my therapist.

When my hair gets longer and the wind blows it in my face it feels good, the sensation of wind is pleasurable after not feeling it for so long, but it also feels like it is an insect attacking me. It always gives me a start. I can’t get used to my own hair.

Last fall I shaved my head for my daughter when she got hers clipped short, so we could grow our hair out together. I thought it would force me to accept my face. Nope.

No Inkling

I never, ever imagined as a child that I would make it this far into adulthood without a tattoo. It was something discussed from middle school on, what sort of tattoo one planned to get.

I was born in a dragon year, and that was my original thought-a dragon, but as I got older I wanted a tree tattooed on my spine. An actual tree found at the junction of 494 and 7, a twisted yet full thing that never seemed to leaf out, standing alone and defiant on a hillock in the cloverleaf. Blackened and twisted from trunk to sky.

Something on the outside to show the pain inside, the literal scoliosis, arthritis, and also the emotional futility of my reaching towards the sky. I had it quoted back then, at half a month’s pay. Cheap as I am, I never went for it.

When I converted I cast that goal aside, tattoos are frowned upon in the faith. I have no such constraints, now.

But now I don’t see myself quite in that way. I mean, it all still hurts but I balk at having pain define me.

I wonder what does reflect me. I seem to look back and see different people at different times in my life, and only right now do I bear any resemblance to myself, my personality, as a child. I mean my feelings, not my behaviours.

When I was a kid I lived in squats when I could, and hung out with squatters on days off of school when I was living at home. I ran away countless times and I did my best to stay gone, usually. There were a lot of reasons for that, but this post is about symbols and self identity.

I have always wanted to make a squatter sign quilt (it would be a sort of inside joke, for what squatters can sit down and gather material and do a months long project? Probably only European squatters, who don’t have to move so much.), but arthritis is not conducive to that hobby.

I googled it, to see if that was still what people used for squatting, as it is two decades and some since then, and I found it quite readily. But not as we used it. We added the female sign to the tail, and in my search I did not find it that way, anywhere. Who would think equality was more prevalent and conscious in squatter culture back then? At least in my city.

If I were to pick a sign today for myself, would that be it? Probably.

Maybe I should major in subcultures- I test into college next week.

Everyone focuses on the wrong word…

4:34 Surah An-Nisa
But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them.- Sahih International Version

In my opinion the key in this ayah is “fear”, and indeed I have never seen it without that word. Fear is not proof or witnesses or even any tangible thing. Fear is a man’s paranoia, his personal issues, his deep-seated insecurities, his mental illness, his worry, his stress. Fear is the justification, here. Fear alone makes it permissible to beat your wife.

Everyone looks at “strike”, which is often translated as “beat” in English versions. I have seen that word picked apart, worried over, given alternate meanings, historically analyzed, excused, justified, and explained away. Daraba, the root of it. To hit.

The ayah is not simply a license to hit, as they claim and also deny, depending on their sympathies. It is a license to use fear itself to justify physical and moral authority over an adult female.

You can reach your own conclusions. You know what mine are.

So I am out, and now you know.

I Thought About It..

One of the side effects of stopping my daily hormone pill is that I became less afraid. Being less afraid made me more outgoing. Being more outgoing made me feel more lonely…
I toyed with the idea of joining a dating site. I even wrote a tiny blurb and put a photo out on a site that is very very low traffic.
Then I went and read the profiles of the men in my selected age group (yes, my own age group!).
There was one very long profile on there, very well written. The guy was not a model, and that was fine with me. What I liked was his writing. One of the things he mentioned was how he had kids and it would be a long time before he introduced anyone to his kids and he expected the same. This makes sense, anything less is irresponsible.
This also makes dating impossible for me. I can’t afford the sitter. I deleted my profile.

Festering..

I admit to having some unhealthy unresolved resentment about my relationships.
My first husband was promoted because I did most of his homework while he was at work.
My second husband did work while we were together but I pitched in a 100% of my income to support him and his siblings while they were attending university. They never had to worry about anything. When his parents handed us money I used it on their medical bills or put it into my in-laws accounts. I never took it for myself. I tried to keep his family living at the level they were accustomed to, and it was a huge mistake on my part. I never thought he would divorce me, I thought we were in for life. So when he did divorce me, I took nothing but what I went in with, which was my possessions and his debt (he years later paid it off) and a car loan.
My children’s father I put through vocational school, and paid off the cost for eight years-three of them after I left him- because it was in my name as well as his. Letting it fall behind meant that they would look for me, to collect. Finding my information on a joint account means he can access that information. It was my responsibility, AND my safety.
It all seemed like a good idea. You invest in your family, right? My second husband and I even had a deal, and his entire family had heard me say that I would go to school when they were done, like taking turns supporting each other.
I was a skiptracer when I was younger. I spent all day, every day, finding people to collect on their debt. It’s a habit I retain, unfortunately.
Today I found my ex-sister-in-law’s new house. It is worth so much money that I could buy about six houses with it where I live. I paid for her living expenses for her first few years here. I am not jealous so much as I am angry. With a house that big, she must have children. Do her children get told no for just about everything they want, like my children do? Does she have to juggle daycare fees with swimming lessons? No.
I am the drowned fisherman they all used to get out of the water. I was so stupid. I should have secured my own fate before tying it to theirs. Now I have to watch my children being raised below the poverty level because of my own mistakes. I am enrolled in community college but I work so much I don’t know how long it will take me to finish. I haven’t even started, yet. I still have to test in.

Don’t Ask For Help

Don’t put a general plea out there for help if you don’t really want it.
This is what I do for a hobby, is help women get free.
If you really are trapped in a house etc etc I can help you. But if you are just pissed off because you want to marry some guy and your father won’t let you and the laws of the country you are in require his permission…
Don’t ask.
I won’t help a woman trade jailers.

Always a Rod McKuen Fan

I sing for people I can’t have
people I meet once and will never see again.
It is for me a kind of loving.
A kind of loving, for me.

I make words for people I’ve not met
those who will not turn to follow after me.
It is for me a kind a loving.
A kind of loving, for me.

It is for love that I live all alone.
Because the lovers I imagine
are safer then the ones I’ve known.

I make rhymes for people who won’t hear
some who will not turn their faces to meet mine.
It is for me a kind of loving.
A kind of loving, for me.

Rod McKuen