A CHAPBOOK

We Have to be Fine, Right?

A CHAPBOOK

This is a chapbook I wrote based my years of dealing with domestic abuse with two children. There are 18 poems total. I would love to hear your comments.

I’m sorry

I’m sorry 
I don’t think that I heard you right
A mass in his brain that’s impeding his sight?

I’m sorry
How has this affected his mind? 

I’m sorry 
Have you already said,  will he die?

Do you think this explains things, do you think this is why?

I’m sorry 
Remind me again of its size 
Where is it located, what do you advise
Inoperable since it’s too big to excise 

Yes, I’m still his wife until the papers are signed
The restraining order allowed for more time 
Thank you but I should apologize
It’s a lot to take in, a convenient surprise

I’m sorry to doubt you 
but I can’t surmise
Your confidence that he will most likely survive 
That he’ll live with a golf ball size tumor inside 
His angry and violent, unpredictable mind 

I’m sorry
forgive me for speaking with spite
But what you are saying just doesn’t sit right 
Yes he told me first but that asshole is sly
It’s ok you can tell me it’s another damn lie 
Tell me I’m dreaming and that I'll be fine 
I’ve come way too far for this to arise

Im sorry, forgive me 
I don’t mean to cry 
Of course I’ll take care of him, I am his wife 
I’ll get the kids moved back into his life
Maybe what happened was caused by this blight 
Maybe he’ll change now that he knows why

Maybe 

Maybe I’ll survive 
Maybe I won’t die 
Maybe he won’t be mean now, I mean, maybe he’ll try

I’ll put down defenses  
and we will be fine 
We have to be fine

I have to at least try 

Right?

A Ghost Town

It’s quiet here 
At least during the off season which is most of the year
For the first time I feel the dark noise fading 
The dark noise that has taken over my mind and polluted it with 

You 

Have I gone deaf?

Mom

I’ve heard this sound a million times but this is the first time I actually hear how beautiful it is
So clear and pitch perfect and I don’t think I ever want to hear another sound
My daughter speaks with ease
Her words are

Comfortable

This is my first time to experience her speech without the underlying darkness of fear and insecurity pushing her words out in a desperate attempt for some solace or stability 

At night I no longer hear my son’s teeth grinding away the anxiousness and unease that has haunted his 4 years alive

I finally hear his heart 
his soul calming with each breath 

I love the sound of his soul 

The dark noise is hiding 

For now 

Our bedrooms are connected by a hallway and we can see each other with the doors open

The doors are always kept open 

I hope that this place will help alleviate the fear
I hope that this ghost town is enough to help them through the long weekends they spend with the dark noise 

You 

So I take them to the beach
And we let the wind play with our hair
And we let the crash of the waves drown out our thoughts
And we are invisible 
The ghosts here take away our fears and memories and allow us to be alive 

Momentarily 

Some nights darkness hovers over us 
Reminding us of the noise 

You 

An unwanted reminder that we will hear it again 

Hear you, again 

These nights we sleep with the doors open and the lights on
These nights we sleep in the silence of this ghost town and just survive until morning

The Smallest 250lb Man

You are nervous and I am not

It’s unsettling that I am this close to you and I’m not scared

It’s unsettling that I know the peace that lives in my home may decide to leave once it meets you

My place is too small for you and a month ago you wouldn’t have fit in the door, but today you mesh with the ants  
You eat the crumbs off of the floor and crawl with effort to sit somewhere eye level with me only to avoid eye contact

The uncertainty of your mortality has made you small 

You ask if I mind if you sit in the chair I just watched you exert all of your energy to climb onto 

You wonder what to do
Who to be
Who you are
Who you’re with

Are you thankful? 
Resentful?

I think you are too afraid to know 

You are different but you are the same 

You ask for a glass and pour yourself whiskey from your own bottle 

And I secretly hope you will die 

push

Welcome 
to the home I made after you destroyed ours

Welcome 
to the home that enabled me to silence the continuous strain of insults that swarmed around my mind 

Making your lies become truths 

Validating all of my insecurities, underestimating my worth

Keeping me complacent because I was too lazy or stupid to cook or clean or be a mom or a wife 

This is my new home  

It reminds me that I am strong 

Welcome 

There’s love in here and I’m allowing you to enter 

Of course the pantry is full

Your assumptions have always been for you to justify your actions 

I agree, it’s a nice place
It hasn’t seen the ugliness that our home endured 

Are you shocked? 
Maybe a little disappointed? 
You’re impressed you say? 

My competence is cute 
I’m an actor in this little place; amusing you with this facade 
Entertaining everyone before I fall and you pick me up 

How long will you wait before you get impatient?

Watching me on my feet won’t be cute tomorrow

How long until I fall down? 

How long until you push? 

Proof

I know what you're thinking
I can see it in your eyes
They emphasize your sighs
They patronize my lies

The think is I know the truth of the matter
This proof I bestow upon you to shatter 
The chatter won't matter now 
I got a free pass
served up on a platter to batter the past. 

So 
I can blame it on the rain 
I can make my claim and stain
this story to fit my name 

I can take every single drop left of bitter and empty it into this hole of dirt 
and seal it up with concrete hands 
and tight lips with finally smirk
at the rarity of it all; 
the absurdity 

I know it wasn't always the tumor 
but from now on 

it was

always 

the tumor

Each shot he took 
with hands that shook
with hands that steadied once his brain didn't work
Stronger hands 
Weaker minds
Stronger shots that plot this crime of passion in which he did not do time 

proof

Now you see it? 

Proof that validates every claim I had
aloof to the shame and all of the blame 
and as the truth is untied and blind eyes become wise 
to my proof I realize
how this all seems obtuse; like
some story you'd read in a fictional sleuth  

In a bind
by betrayal 
designed
to play back memories that aren't mine
I blame myself so much that this proof isn't the truth but made up by my mind
that has Stockholm Syndrome 
or has been brainwashed 
from a past that won't stay behind 

My believability without proof isn't as high as I assumed
and my believability now is just a facade of necessity 
because you all owe me

So you can sigh
roll your eyes
but this time you can't deny 
me 
my life back 

because I have proof

and you have to believe me
when it happens

again.  

salt

This shouldn’t be regarded as permanent  
But to me it makes sense 
Because it never should have been what it was
It only took a tragedy
To get back what I want

I can see the man he once was 
The father they used to have 
or the one they wished into existence

Did the treatments do more than stop the growth?
Have you come back to us? 

Because each night I dream of a life that flows
Evenly through the wind
That carries us all up and down and we are always laughing
Going with the flow
Sometimes my dreams show me a monster on a movie screen
And I’m not afraid because movies don’t scare me
And I laugh at the absurdity that I could be scared of something so unreal
And I wake up laughing 
I float out of my bed to go about my days now filled with ease and comfort

And love?

However 

Disability is short term and 
Decisions are needed

The kids are so happy
The kids are so happy
Will I stay happy and keep everyone happy?

Trusting in you is not easy 
And dreams aren’t real but I want to believe 

One last trip to the beach
Say goodbye to the ghosts
Blinded by hope and desire to trust 

I feel the sand 
The wind 
The water 

And then the sting 
An unhealed wound on my arm

And a familiar reminder

Salt.

football sunday

The first game in the new place in the new town in the new future 
But the kids are reluctant to watch and if memory isn’t going to remind me why then I only have about 10 minutes 

before

You 

Will

scream into the television with a sound so alarming that it’s hard to know if it’s the actual game invoking this anger 

This isn’t a typical sound

This sound comes from somewhere dark and it’s scary and the fear is back 
I try to wish it away
my kids are too aware to be so stupid    

You notice reluctance and it makes you more angry 
I try to change tune but you will always know what we can see  

This is just the beginning
You’ll let it go 
This time 

I no longer care who wins
Even though I have to care
it will determine your attitude
The amount of alcohol you consume
What time dinner will be ready 

Tonight will be fine
But tomorrow is coming

The kids are hiding in their rooms and I’m pretending not to notice 

You

Creeping back. 
An Olive Branch

the last ditch attempt

My Husband

I could never fully imagine what you go through. You and I have been using alcohol to get through shit for as long as we've known one another. I have zero judgement. I would never say that you can or cannot use alcohol to cope with your situation. It's ludicrous if I did.  The problem only arises because of your daughter and your son. And as you and I have become aware of our drinking and its effect on the kids, it has become really manageable. As long as we don't have a huge fight your son is great. Your daughter knows that you drink alcohol because you have been through a great deal. She loves you and only wants you to be happy. And she has been able to assess situations as well. You are the father and caregiver of this family. We need you and we love you. We will never fault you. 

Your Wife 

Do you remember this? 
I remember it well
Back when I still thought I could find a way through to you
And again when I was trying to ease your anger
I held onto this like it was my shield  

Look at how sympathetic I am!

Look at how I’m taking the blame too!

Look!

Look!

Look!

Please Look!

Please come back

I don’t know where you are

I don’t know who this is next to me

But he scares me

So I give him this

He never remembers so I give it to him often 

It’s all I can do if I want to keep hope. 

a dream, a wish

Our son told me of a recurring dream he is having 

I imagine it’s quite scary
Not knowing who is who
What is what
And when?
Dreaming of you as you
And the other you
How scary for a child to not know which you you will be 
Today. 
Such a complicated thing
For a small child to wrap their mind around
You. 
In his dreams. 
You
Making you go away. 
It’s a happy dream because he’s saved in the end
By the you he’s made up in his mind
The you that could have been 
Should have been
Showed up in his dream
To save him from you 
A son who needs a father so badly 
He’s made you into something imaginary 
Because he doesn’t remember when you weren’t you. 
He just wants his version of dad to show up 
Like in his dream
He wishes for a different you
Protective
Understanding 
Loving
Waiting for you to show up and save us
Each time you come your stay is shorter than the last
I’m afraid eventually you will stay gone
And we will be stuck with this you forever. 

fun

I’ll take what I can get 
Because sometimes I get you back
And I remember
No
I forget what you’ve turned into
Because it’s easy with you
It’s easy because we both do it so well
Everything is fine
That was yesterday
Today is about having fun

And man we sure know how to have fun

Rocky Part 1

This is the part where I digress
I pause the story and I confess
Victimization isn’t always obvious
Especially to a man as proud as my ex. 

A victim of society
expectations he lived with quietly 
Born a man to take care of his family
Never quite living up to reality. 

I’ve never seen anyone so fearful of life
So fearful of failing, 
Of falling
Of strife. 
Of missing a step or a small oversight
I wanted him happy not understanding his fight
This turmoil he lived with all on his own
And tried to endure it 
With all of his strength
With all of his might. 

He should have been praised 
For his efforts displayed 
For his motivation ablaze
For his intent to amaze

His efforts would not satisfy
Expectations he set way too high
Attempting to grasp at the sun in the sky 
While dying inside 
While dying to try 

Bloodied and chained, a struggle to be freed
Keys within reach still no will to proceed
All hope he had left, his mind would impede
All energy expelled, and he let himself bleed

Rocky Part 2

When he was diagnosed with the tumor 
And the radiation treatment took his vision in one eye
And he lost his job
And he began to panic all the time
And was unable to drive
He said it was because of his depth perception but it was because he was having panic attacks 
In his mind
He was no longer capable of taking care of his family
Not financially
Not physically
He was defeated 

I can continue to tell a thousand horrible stories
But they are all the same
The most painful thing about all of this 
Is that he stayed down. 

“It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can take a hit and still get back up” Rocky Balboa

That was his favorite quote. 

He thought he was Rocky,
He always thought he could take the hits
He was the tough guy
The guy who can fix everything 
The guy who has everything 

It was so important to him to have everything. 

But life knocked him out
Cold.

He never got back up. 
And he never came back

My ex is still alive 
He still has a presence in this world 
But he is a different man
Defeated
Delusional
Knocked out. 
Gone  

Goodbye my old friend. 

Tally

All trust went out the door when you forbade me to get help for her
It was the last string we had 
And once it came unstrung
You became unhinged

My ear still stings
And I can’t hear as well
I will always touch my neck to make sure it’s still there
There will always be the concert
And the restaurant
And that soccer practice
The time you walked to her teacher’s house in the middle of the night
When you called her a bitch
When you told her you would be happy to never see her again
When you made him feel he was at fault for your behavior
When you said he was a wimp and needed to man up

I just found out about the chair
That thought hurts more than your fist

Christmas Eve
And the next one after that
And the next one concreting the tradition it now held 

A hole punch sealed up on every single door we have ever had
The mounds of food on your plate 
The smell that radiated from your body 
In the elevator
In the car
The manipulation
The lies
The fear
The dread

And then there was the text
“If we don’t go out there, he is going to kill her”

Nothing mattered after reading that text 

I will never hear the clanking of ice the same way
He will never have a drink
I’m afraid she may have too many

You are a drifter
You deny your present like you deny your past

But now you do it on your own
We are gone
left only with broken memories
And  uncertain emotions
Uncertainty that holds us physically hostage
Can you speak up? 
I’m having trouble hearing you

the plan

There you sit 
In your chair
That will be the first thing I get rid of 
I am stopped at the door
You’re angry 
Like always 
The ground is littered with eggshells and I’m unable to move for fear I will step on one and you will realize 
I am home. 
I just need to make it to my room
She’s in her room 
Door shut
He’s in his room 
Door shut 

I walk past you and your chair and your glass of vodka and the sound of clinking ice 
Fat Slut
As long as the ice is louder than the shells 
Fucking Bitch
And I may just make it. 
Worthless Whore
You grumble something and my step quickens 
Pathetic
You get louder 
I hear the glass hit the table
I hear your heavy breathing as you attempt to stand
Ugly
Slut
Bitch
and I shut the door loudly behind me
Locked
Safe

This is all going to be over soon 

I will strike 
Not before you get me a few more times 
But it hurts less now that I have a plan 

I have to stay alive just a little bit longer 

Tumor or alcohol 
We no longer try to figure that out. 
We focus only on survival 

One more month. 
And we are going home

home

That four letter word elicits mounds of emotions 
I believe it is one of those words that is universally accepted as good even if you’ve yet to experience a good home 
We hear the word and we imagine an idealistic place to rest your head somewhere 
that accepts you without judgment 
somewhere you can be yourself 
home is a concept 
love 
comfort 
understanding 
forgiving 
home is undeniably unrealistic 
however I’ve never had to look for my home 
I’ve never had to find it or try to understand it 
my sister was 10 years old when I was born and has been my home ever since 
my sister 
my home
my rock 
my solace 
my reason 
my sister always has room for me 
she always accepts me 
loves me 
understands me 
forgives me. 
My sister validates me 
she thinks i’m funny 
smart 
good. 
My home 
My sister
There aren’t enough words to write a poem that could encapsulate all that has become of me because of her. 
Thank you for saving me. 

victim card

I sit here 
Again 
And it’s blank
My mind remembers everything until I try to remember it and it all gets hazy and I think I’m talking about someone else when I try to talk at all because there’s no way this happened to me. 

What’s that? You want my victim card. 

I guess it’s hard to explain myself when I can’t conjure the words to admit what I let happen. How can I be a victim if I let it happen so here’s my card again, can you help me get groceries so the kids can eat? 

But you just bought him a computer and you bought her a car and last month you gave me $300. How do you have $300 when all I have is a card? 

I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you mad. You see I didn’t want to make you mad so I didn’t ask for any support. What did my lawyer tell the judge to get you out of responsibility? It’s hazy again but this I have on paper. So I am always reminded of how hard you can hit before I fight back.
If I fight back. 

It’s kind of tiring to fight back when the noise is so loud I can’t think and I can’t remember which part I’m just now deciding to fight back. 

If I think really hard and the haze clears up I panic so I focus on the fight I won. That was for my kids. See they have cards too but I don’t need to see them. Their cards will always be a glowing light that illuminates their being everywhere they go because I let it get so far and now my kids are victims. 
Of you
Because of me

Don’t tell me to be quiet

I want to say you lost that right but you never had the right in the first place.  
I’m just starting to talk and the words are coming easier and 

DON’T TELL ME TO BE QUIET 

I’m blocking you now. 

By the way I lost my card.  
As I’ve begun to speak the unspeakable I realized that nobody once has asked to see it.  

Why do you want to see the proof of something you are trying to deny? I don’t have a victim card, you made me a victim so that shit shows all the time and trust me, nobody looks in my eyes and needs proof. 

Reality Check

I’m not looking for a reason for it all 
I have been fighting life as if it is a separate entity from me, an entity that is trying to hurt me and that I am to conquer and control
I like to blame
And if I admit the synonyms 
Me and life 
Then I am fighting myself 
Then I’m blaming myself
I cry and yell and curse out loud to a vast universe of stars that have been dead for millions of years and a moon who is too busy shining to coddle the grown woman who cannot just let go and understand that this is not about 
Losing
Waxing and waning year after year
Losing connections and losing my mind
Fighting anger with anger and losing my balance at the whirlwind I create because that is a cycle that does not end
Well
There is so much power at my disposal and yet my eyes won’t dilate leaving me in the dark unable to see past it all
 Unable to understand my own voice
Or they dilate too much and it burns 
I can never find the balance that is right in front of my nose. 
I’m so busy opening and closing my eyes and I am looking through prisms and they are forming a hologram and I don’t appreciate the beauty in that balanced perception because I don’t have any perception I can believe in
I can’t see what I see and I get dizzy because it is all an illusion 
Everything is an illusion
I am playing a game of chess with myself calling checkmate only to watch
Me 
Struggle
To stay ahead. 
This isn’t a war
There are no enemies

He says I am always angry 
I thought I was fine

and now

And now I’ve got it all
Right? 
It’s over and I won the fight
I can go back to who I was before 
my life was torn 
I am reborn and I’m brand new 
But I won’t tell you 
The sad parts 
Waking up in the dark 
Fear clenching my heart 

But it’s been a while now 
Don’t be a child, now
Why can’t I remember how 
To fake others out
Of my emotional business 
I feel so crowded
Shrouded with resistance 
I need everyone to back away 
Of course I’m afraid but 
This is just how I do things
Which brings me to reality 
I am not starting over because I am never going to be who I was 
Again. 
I need to clarify what I won’t pretend
So that there are no more misunderstandings about why I am 
Who I am is a mystery I only figure out in hindsight 
Which means that presently, I’m just a lost soul trying to mend. 

I'm starting over with a new past

Do you have any suggestions on how to change that?

Because I don’t have a clue.

4 Comments

  1. mickeyb46 says:

    Wrenching and powerful piece that effectively forced this reader to confront some of the specifics of abuse and better understand the suffering. the legacies and the challenges to healing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shanna says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’m glad it’s effective. The writing process was much more emotionally draining than I had anticipated. But it was helpful in the healing process by the end.

      Like

  2. Shanna says:

    I can’t wait to read more!

    Like

  3. Herman says:

    Hi Shanna. Thank you for visiting and following HoB. Much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

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