My Religion is Honesty – What’s yours?

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I just can’t help it.

I simply can’t lie.

I also have a hard time discerning when other people are lying to me.

Lies confuse me.

To me honesty is a way of life.

If you ask my opinion on something  you will get it.

Whether or not you’ll like it is another matter entirely.

But at least you will never walk away from a conversation with me wondering if I’m carrying some kind of hidden agenda.

 

Welcome to Why

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In  the beginning it was just a game.

A silly little game of solitude that I played all on my own.

Until one day, it jumped up and took over my thoughts, in the wink of an eye.

I know, for it was my own eye, that winked it in.

You see, I love words, or rather I did, back when they were whole beings that orbited the planet of my thoughts.

They would fall off my tongue and fill the silence all about me with their pleasing tones and meanings.

Then why came along and I found myself struggling just to hold its tail.

I started saying the word why, over and over.

Again and again.

Just like any word when you  say it too many times, it stops being that word.

Its letters melt into each other until the sound of it no longer sits correctly on your tongue.

So foreign does the sound of it become to you, that you even begin to question whether or not you are even saying it properly.

Then along with the melting of letters and the dislocation of a words sound, comes the disintegration of its  meaning.

It no longer sounds the same, looks the same or even portrays the same ideal that it once held, back when you said it only once and knew, just knew, the nature of the word and all of its derivatives.

Well why is like that.

I started asking why?

Why this?

Why that?

Then I found I couldn’t stop.

Too late I realized my own mistake as all  of the answers I once smugly thought I knew tumbled out of the sky and rained down on me in a stream of incomprehensible noise.

I know it sounds absurd to say that you have been drowned by a lack of meaning, but there it is, that is what has happened to me.

The more I asked, the less I understood.

The less I understood the more I asked.

It has  become a disease in me.

This constant need to know WHY has stolen from me all of my once strongly held truths.

You see all that I am, or have ever been, was being pulled agonizingly apart in a string of whys?

So far apart that I found I no longer knew myself to be the person  I’d thought myself to be.

You see this endless asking has led me to a barren place.

A place in which the oasis of understanding  lies shimmering,  in the distance, leading me ever on, further away from myself and deeper into the desert of the unknown.

Am I a child at war with myself?

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I feel often as though I am in the wrong country.

That the language I have is incorrect and yet I do not know how to fix it.

There are no travel guides here and even if there were I wouldn’t be able to read them, for they’d be in that other language.

The one that I have lost.

Perhaps it is not my family that’s a country at war with itself .

Perhaps I am at war with myself?

Perhaps I am. Perhaps indeed I am.

With few parting words from my mother I was placed in the back of a car and driven for what felt like years away from the home that had held me captive for all that time.

My eyes grew tired from straining to take in all that there was to see.

My body ached and my head wanted to lay itself down and rest.

But there was no rest, not with the questions of why still racing through my mind.

Why was I going somewhere new and who would be there to greet me?

So I sat in the back.

Trying to blink in the colours of the deepening sky and the sparse trees that doubled in number and then grew into a forest of greenery the longer we travelled.

All those colours clashed and collided inside of my head.

I tried in vain, to count the number of guideposts that it took to get there, in case I should not like it and wished to return back to my other home.

But there were too many and they flew by my eyes like hail.

Hard,

White,

Upright splinters

Fencing me in,

In a pen of their choosing.

I must have been asleep by the time we arrived. I remember nothing of entering my new home but rather I simply woke up in a new room with a translucent stranger hovering over me.

The figure smiled. ‘My name is Vonnie and I’m going to help you settle in and show you around. How would you like that?’

I must have smiled for she nodded her head at me.

Vonnie helped me up and showed me where the bathrooms were. I clutched my small bag of belongings to me as I scurried off to wash myself clean of the sins of reading .

For was that not what had gotten me into this mess in the first place?

My love of books?

To my mind at the time the answer was quite obviously yes.

I was there, in that very place, for that very reason.

I was being punished, once again, for loving beyond apparent reason,  that which others did not,  comprehend.

Childhood Taken Out Of Context And Transationally Lost.

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Some days being in my family felt like living in a country constantly at war with itself .

The bomb shells of my father’s yelling.

The shrilling peel of my mother’s crying and the thudding of a million doors slamming  that always made me jump.

And the way my father’s voice boomed too loudly at me as he stood in my doorway and told me that ‘after Christmas things would change’.

Change?

Like spare change?

As in money, I thought.

He must have meant that we’d be getting more money I reasoned.

We didn’t get more money.

Instead what I remember most about Christmas that year was my growing sense of displacement.

It was not anything new to me for I had always felt that way about Christmas.

But this year I expected more, for with more money, I expected books. At last. Finally.

Every year, in that house at Christmas, with my pseudo mother and pseudo father, I’d always wanted books and I’d always got clothes or a school bag, but never any books.

Yet this Christmas, despite my expectations, still, there were no books

So I stayed alone in my room.

Just me and the walls.

The walls and me.

It was an ordinary day.

It came.

It went.

Like so many other days in that house.

On boxing day my pseudo parents came into my room and told me that they’d finally decided what was best for me.

I was to be sent to a home in the country.

It sounded nice.

‘What country?’ I asked them.

They stared at me.

I was used to being stared at. That didn’t bother me.

What bothered me was not getting the answer to my question.

How am I to know what country I am in if I am not told?

Their responses made me feel as though I were an ancient text that had been translated wrongly.

Just a few symbols out-of-place here and there and the meaning of everything changed all around me.

Do you see yet how easily I have been taken out of context and slotted neatly back in where other people would prefer me to be?

Or perhaps it is the other way around?

Perhaps it is not I who has been lost in translation but rather  the world around me that has been placed out of the reach of its own meaning.

Mum always tells us to hold hands when we go out in public so we won’t get lost.

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We were sitting in the sun.
On the rocks.
My mum, as usual, has gone off to buy us strawberry slushy cones.
She knows we love coming to the beach.
She calls us her little gems.
Lucy and me.
She says we sparkle so much that sometimes we make her eyes hurt.
But that’s ok she says, because no matter how brightly we sparkle, she’ll never, ever be able to stop looking at us.

Sometimes I get scared that she might go blind.
I wonder if that’s what people mean when they say that love is blind?
I will ask her when she comes back.
Lucy is building a sandcastle and talking to a man.
He has a pink bucket and spade.
He is digging with her now.
She waves at me  with a lollypop in her mouth.

Shouting at me to hop off my rock and come over.
The man smiles at me.
He pulls a lollypop from his pocket and says that he has lost his dog.
Could we help him look for her?
Mum has told us not to move.
But I reckon she’d be ok if we just went a little way up the beach to help.

Lucy takes his hand.
He offers me the other.
I feel like I shouldn’t take it.
But I do.
Mum always tells us to hold hands when we go out in public so we won’t get lost.
That, she’s always telling us, is how to stay safe.
So I guess it’s OK if we hold hands.
We walk a little way and he points to his car.
“Maybe she’s gone back there” he suggests.
My head is feeling funny as I suck on the lollypop he gave me.
Lucy is going all wobbly as she walks.
He opens the car door to look for the dog.
Then suddenly we are inside the car and the beach is gone.
The motion of the care makes me feel sick.
I look at Lucy but she is asleep.
Then the car stops.
The man pulls Lucy out of the car and drags her across the ground.
I try to tell him to stop but my mouth won’t make a sound.
He slaps her face to wake her up.
Then puts a hand over her mouth when she screams.
He rips her swimmers off……
I fling out my hand but I can’t reach her.
My fingers find a wrapper on the seat.
I clutch at it.
The feeling of the wrapper comforts me.
Then he comes for me…..
His hands are everywhere they shouldn’t be.
I want to tell him not to touch me.
I try to call for my mum instead.
But my mouth still isn’t working.
So I stare up at the sky.
At the light from the sun as it dapples the earth and me below it.
I am still crinkling the wrapper in my hand.
Searching for a sense of comfort that has long since passed my by.
And is now gone forever.

Please…. Please….. Please….. Make it Stop.

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I hate these clothes.

They are not mine.

They mark me out as something other than human.

They itch at my skin as though my whole being is allergic to them.

Rejecting them as they reject me.

I want my old clothes back.

The ones that welcome me with the touch of softness against my skin.

The ones that smell like my mum and the sun.

I will not be who they are making me be.

And now we are being shoved on trains in the dark.

Packed in like animals and carted away.

The man next to me has soiled himself.

There is no toilet.

Not even space enough to turn around.

We are so tightly wedged, against each other.

Forced to breathe in each others skins.

The smell is vile and it grows more vile every hour.

Fear and perspiration.

Dread and defecation.

I can no longer stand the odors of my own life.

Nor the constant touch of others.

It has become an abrasion on my soul.

Like sandpaper eating its way into the core of me.

I cannot imagine ever wanting to be touched again.

By anyone. Anywhere.

For any reason.

The train has stopped.

My dad tells me not to look anyone here in the eyes as we are herded out.

He says to do so would bring bad luck to all of us.

No one can be trusted.

Only family.

Or what little we have left of it.

He told my little brother the same thing.

Today a man spoke back to the guard.

He looked him in the eyes and called him a pig.

The guard shot him where he stood.

His head exploded.

There are bits of teeth and blood in my hair, on my arms, in my soul.

I cannot wash him off me.

They say there is a room of showers here but I am not permitted to go.

They say “one day little one” with a sneer, but not today.

Today it is the women’s day.

All I can do is stare and pick at the leftovers of an unknown man who now remain stuck, too strongly to me.

One thing is for certain.

I will never look anyone in the eye again.

Not even my father.

No one is to be trusted.

No one is safe.

There is a new smell today.

At first it is moderately sweet, like the smell of release.

Then it stirs into the smell of decay.

Word passes that a child has died  in the night and the sounds of wailing begin.

Wave upon wave of sorrows paint my skin with every scream.

They fills my ears, my eyes, my nose and my mouth.

I cannot breathe.

I do not want to be here in this living death.

Please….. Please…… Please…….

Make it stop…..

Down the Rabbit Hole

 

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Once down the rabbit hole I fell back into being the child hiding behind the chair, staring out at the world, her eyes, as all children’s are, born adult sized, taking in too much without any accurate way of deciphering the subtleties of this life.

Subtleties for me were things that blended and smudged into the crevices of floor boards, hung covertly behind curtains or were stacked away neatly with care into the book shelves of any given room.

Then I remembered what it was that I’d come back to ask this child of five, being made to sprout out words to delight and charm her adults like some perverse parlor game.

Performing word tricks of no great importance merely for the entertainment of  ignorant of others.

She didn’t know then that invention of the mind, like creativity of the soul, should never have been made to seem so cheap or easy.

All the same it sent forth in her feelings of mistrust.

Feelings that eventually became so strong that she started hiding from others and stopped saying that which until she chose to open her mouth, would remain unspoken.

Neither wanting the attention, nor sure for what reason it was being given, she remained in hiding.

In some ways we are both still hiding.

Though this hiding of the self is now being done in very different and more sophisticated ways, it is still no more effective than the act of standing behind a chair and wishing to no longer be there.

‘Give me back my words. The ones that formed so naturally, tangibly, without encouragement or coaxing. The ones they made me want to pack away and  leave to starve un-nourished amidst the foreign land of adulthood.’ I shout

For I suddenly remember that this is what I’ve come back down the rabbit hole to ask her.

Yet as I see her cowered in the corner, behind a chair, hiding herself away from the eyes of others, I understand why it is that as a child  she had to slip away somewhere else.

Some place deeper in.

So deeply in, that parts of her are still there.

The Beginnings of a Lie

 

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I watched you as your eyes began their inventory of my life.

Me, a sleep deprived, emotional wreck with cargo still yet to be hauled to shore and you, more confident in appearance, more correctly put together.

Your cargo so obviously already landed that the puzzle pieces of your life were now beginning to fit together.

The only thing that confused you and even remotely shook you at all was the fact that you seemed to have too many bits left over.

I told you that you only feel that way because your pictures still expanding.

And so too I think,  is mine.

Though you’d never know it from the way you’re standing over me.

Suited up as you are in a life that is so uniquely your own that you carry no space for the opinions of others.

My life on the other hand  has been so covered by the finger prints of others that I’ve forgotten that I could even  once have had a life at all.

But now I’m talking about a time so way back in the long ago that even I can barely remember when it was that I’d first realized that I’d  failed to see the forest for the trees so many times that I’d stopped  looking at the surfaces of things and started instead looking down.

Looking down the rabbit hole is where I finally began to find the roots of it all.

The beginnings of a child’s lie can be so simple.

So small that you can’t see it, even with adult sized eyes.