Archive for cruelty

A Conversation with Stephanie

Posted in life story, Ramblings with tags , , , , on 2010/03/26 by R L Burns

i just listened to my sister for an hour. 

she says all of “this” is not my fault.she says it was all a lie, too.  and that i shouldn’t want him to be in my life where he will hurt me, my family and my son.  he’s the villain of the story, not the hero.  he takes advantage of people and spits them out.  he is not the one.  he is the one who lies.  he is the one who is a jerk.  he is the one who abused you then threw you away like yesterday’s newspaper.

she says it is not me.  it is him.  he used me.  maybe it was a mid-life crisis…although we thought the other girl was.  she says he is in the same category as jeff, the rapist, the true abuser and beater.  he is untrustworthy, irresponsible, and not worth it.

 she tried to “see” him and she said that he has accepted his life and his choice and is fine with it.  he doesn’t really care – about me.  he has built a very thick wall around himself and will never return.

she really believed that one day he would call her to check on me.  or mom or someone.  she can’t believe that he has left me out here alone to drown and isn’t throwing me any lifesaver whatsoever, and she can’t understand that.

 she is horribly angry with him for seeking me out, luring me in, promising so many things he knew he could/would never do.  he used me up, he took away everything; abused/used all my family, really; he got what he wanted from me (strength, power, praise) and then, bam! he was gone.  i was no longer useful to him, no longer fit into his fucked up plans.  and on top of that, he left everyone in my family no recourse; gave no one any – whatsoever – explanation so that they could help me through all of this, help me understand.  hel p me want to continue to live.  help me not feel destroyed and next to nothing.

 she says he doesn’t really have any power over me/us.  the only power he has is that i won’t let go.  she says i have to start thinking that he treated me like shit and i am better off without him, and i am done with it.

she says she loves my spirit and my kindness, my care of others but i need to start putting my belief where it belongs.  not on him.  stop worshipping someone who is really just a lying lie face.  she says i am not invisible.  she said he did love me.  he did want to be with me.  but he was bad to me.  he treated me like cattle, like a dog. he obliterated all my preconceived notions and then devised a nuclear attack on what remained of me….

she doesn’t want me to lose my mental and physical health over him because he is not worth it.  he is not a knight in shining armor, not the great person she saw on the cliff protecting me.  he is really the shadow sneaking up behind me to put a knife in my back.

there was nothing i could do to change this.  i approached it in innocence and love.  he is the one who used me – maybe to find his way back home.  he doesn’t respect me at all – or my family.  had he spoken to me once, in kindness, since that email in august, she could perhaps feel not so angry, but he hasn’t.  he has been cruel and mean and now i am haunted and sick,  want to die all the time.

she says i am still a queen.  i am still me. 

the good thing, she says, is that i can keep all my good feelings about him, but i need to put them in a golden chest and not let them rule my life.  i can call it my “box of truth” – my truth, anyway, because everything i said was true, i meant it all — every word i spoke, wrote, or said with my body.  all of it.  he didn’t.

he has made it abundantly clear that he will never cross the barrier again; that people who are what i always thought he was (loving, intellectual, heroic) would never treat me this way.  if he really loved me he couldn’t do that to me.  she hates it that i have lost my (already minimal) self-worth, my motivation…that someone has again done this to me: used me, abused me and then abandoned me.

she says stop destroying myself until there is nothing left – which she knows is where i am.  he is not worth it.  i believed in something, i invested heavily in it – with everything i had – and it didn’t work out…he was just a guy, she said, not Jesus. 

she asked me what i was looking for in the nuclear fallout?  i couldn’t answer.

i want him back, i said.

she siad he’s not coming back, so what do you want?

i don’t know!

well, what do we know right now?  hes’ gone.  and you have to remember that he is the one who set off the bomb, he orchestrated it, he made it happen and then he went back to his little hovel down the road, laughing.  he detonated the bomb but knew he could run and that his family was safe, but he didn’t know what would happen to me; yet he left me anyway.  i could already be a ghost, and he would never know/care. and my family is left trying to call me home again.

she loves me endlessly and she hates how i am now — which i hear from everyone, by the way.  she said i am a good person, with a wonderful heart, and many people love me, and that i am not alone, even if i think i am.  she is amazed at how hard i can be on myself.  maybe i’m not the greatest disciplinarian with alex, but i sure know how to wield the hammer against myself…

she said i am stuck in the hate-myself mode and i have to get out of it because it is killing me.  they think i had a stroke,now.  i’m on all these meds now.  i barely make it through each day at work…gramp and mater and everyone want me to survive, i have a lot to live for…she says i am beautiful and smart and cool…

she says, stop punishing robin.  stop beating her up.  i will have to arrest you and put you behind bars if you don’t! (i asked if she meant that she was going to send me back to the looney bin,  she laughed – but she also didn’t really answer.)

 she said i’m like pat benatar – hit me with your best shot.  then he did and i went down.

she says if i could stand up to my second husband, i can stand up to michael.  she says if i could stand up to jeff (the abusive first husband) in court, then i can stand up to michael.  ir’s a matter of personal safety!  i can’t let some guy (she often calls him that fucking guy), take away everything i have fought for, everything i fought through, the perosn i have fought to be…he is like the bad egg in willy wonka. 

she says i have to let go of this albatross around my neck.  i am psychotic to keep thinking about it everyday.  she says it is not me, it is him.  he detonated the a-bomb right in front of me and left me to die, or survive, irreparably scarred. he didn’t care which.

maybe, she said, imagine you are standing at the water’s edge and he and his whole group are on the party boat.  push the boat away.  he can look at me longingly, if i want him  to, but he is long gone already, rebuilding his whole life with all the new tools i gave him.

she said it’s like i am in a coma and she just wants me to wake up.  it’s like he beat me up from head to toe and i can barely breathe.  she hates this.  life is short, she says.  please don’t leave me, or alex, she says.

she says one last time, i love you and it is not your fault.  you did nothing wrong.  you loved him and you gave him everything, absolutely everything you could possibly give.  he was a jerk and he fucked with you.  he looked for you, he cried to you, i heard him call you endlessly when you were here visiting me…what the fuck was up with that? quit hating yourself and quit blaming yourself.  he had a great part in the demise of this situation.  i am only saying all this, she says, because i want you to see it from other sides and maybe if you can be angry at him and recognize that he had a big part in all of this, too, and that he abused you, then you will know it’s not you.  he promised to marry you, to take care of you and alex forever.  he initiated it, he continued it, he left you in the cruelest way possible.  he lied to you about everything.  he’s just some guy, you loved him with all your heart, and she doesn’t want to see me lose my whole self over this person.  she says i deserve better. she says i can mourn the loss, six months is long enough, though.  she says i am valuable and meaningful and that she doesn’t want to see me throw the rest of my life away over someone who isn’t going to reciprocate or be kind.  he has had all these days to be kind to me, and he hasn’t.  she wishes there was a different answer, but there isn’t.  it is over.  i can’t fix it. 

elvis has left the building.

it made me sad. 

but she was probably right.  but how do i face that?

i just wish i could go back to the day before he contacted me on myspace.  up until then i had learned to live without him.  i had my little golden chest of memories and i was special.  i was still his princess and his lady, even if i was his secret princess. 

now…i feel like i am nothing.  all the good things my love for him and his love for me had created in my mind and heart are gone.  and there is nothing i can find to replace them.

anyone know any stores where i can buy some self-reliance and self-worth?  or some peace of mind?  i could really use a piece or two as there is not much left of mine.

Falling Down the Stairs…Again

Posted in short story with tags , , , on 2010/02/07 by R L Burns

The next time she fell down the stairs, Rose didn’t trip on her pajamas.  She tripped on her husband’s fist.  She was twenty when it happened, and they had been married for nearly a year and a half.  Already she was disenchanted and was trying to find a way out of it.  Actually, if she was honest, she had known the day she married him that she was making a mistake, had cried throughout the entire ceremony, knowing she didn’t love this man, that she loved someone else…but somehow events had worked against her and she didn’t know what else to do. 

She worked for a video production company and had been up since four in the morning.  She had been on a shoot at five, working hard, pulling cable, setting up equipment, assisting one of her favorite cameramen, Rick, as he climbed all over the newest addition to the Saudi Royal Navy’s fleet of ships.  It hadn’t all been hard, dirty work. There had been a few light moments such as when two of the Saudi sailors had offered Rick two camels and a great deal of gold for his assistant.  They had been quite insistent, too, until Rick (who was like a big brother or uncle to her) had finally put down his camera and grabbed Rose in a huge bear hug and told them, “She’s mine!”  Kiss on the lips.  “You may not have her, not even for fifty camels!!” 

They had escaped the ship then, amidst a flurry of laughter.  Rose always enjoyed working with Rick, had no idea how sad she would be several years later when he suddenly collapsed and died on the set of a nationally popular religious show.

After the shoot  had come the clean up, the long trek back to the studio where everything had to be put away.  Bill and Jim had begun the arduous task of editing the footage from the day, and Rose knew that in the next few days she would be busy getting copies transferred from the United States NTSC standard to the Saudi PAL and SECAM.  This night, however, she had to clear up some client billing paperwork before she could make the forty minute drive home.

By the time she arrived at her mom’s house, it was after ten o’clock, and she was exhausted.  All she could think of was a shower and bed.  She had to be back at work by eight thirty the next morning.  She pulled up to the house, turned off the car, and just sat there, eyes closed, gathering the strength required to carry herself inside.  She was surprised to see that her mother’s car wasn’t in the yard, but thought nothing of it.  She looked up to the window of the bedroom she shared with Jeff and was sorry to see the light still on.  Damn, I was hoping he would already be asleep, she thought to herself.  Finally she opened the door and exited the car.  It was dark out in the country, but the moon was full and she let its silvery shimmer guide her to the front door. 

As she walked up the stairs, she could hear the television in their room.  As she reached the top of the stairs she forced a smile to her lips and walked into the room.  Jeff was lying on the bed, a beer can leaning haphazardly on the bed beside him, two more, empty, lying on the floor.

“It’s about time you got home, Rose”, he snapped. 

“Sorry”, she replied sarcastically, the smile fading from her face.  “I was working.  We had a Saudi commissioning today and I told you I would be late.”

“Did you bring me any cigarettes?” he asked angrily.

She felt annoyance begin to rise within her as she responded.  “Uh, no. I worked until after nine and I came straight home.” 

As she said this she looked around the room and noticed the ashtray was overflowing with his cigarette butts.  She hated the way he smoked his Marlboros down to the filter. She didn’t know why it pissed her off so much, just knew that it did. 

“Couldn’t you walk to the store to get some?” 

The store was only a mile away, no big distance for a corn-fed country boy, as he liked to call himself.  More like ” fucking redneck”, she thought whenever he said that.

“How was I supposed to get to the store?” he shouted.  “You had the fucking car all day!  And then you come home without any cigarettes for me?  How selfish is that?”

Now Rose was really angry, but she tried to remain calm.  Confrontations repelled her.  “Path of least resistance”, that’s me….”Sorry I had the damn car, Jeff!  Sorry I was working, but someone has to.” 

She turned away from him to put down her purse in an effort to stop herself from saying anything more.

“Oh, so now you’re giving me shit because I don’t have a job?” he yelled.  “What the fuck is up with that?  I look for a fucking job every fucking day.  Don’t you dare treat me like that, Rose.  Who do you think you are, your mom?” 

“No, I didn’t mean it like that, Jeff.  Look, I am sorry I didn’t bring you any cigarettes, but I didn’t know you needed any.  I am sorry I had the car all day, but I had to work.  I should have thought of bringing you something on my way home.  Sorry”, she mumbled, defeated. 

When anger was directed at her she just folded.  She didn’t know why she couldn’t get angry back, but she just couldn’t.  Once she had known someone with whom she could get angry because she trusted him.  She didn’t trust Jeff, though; or anyone else for that matter.

“I had to walk to Brinkman’s, Rose!  It’s a fucking mile there and a mile back!  Luckily I could stop at mom and dads on the way for a break and to get something to eat since there is never anything here in this fucking house!” 

Right, Rose thought.  You stopped at your folks’ house and then your dad drove you the rest of the way to Brinkman’s and then brought you back here.  You damn fucking liar…She said nothing, however, just stared at him.

“I can’t believe you didn’t think of me at fucking all!  So, why don’t you go to the store now?”

Rose gave up.  It just wasn’t worth the fight.  “Whatever.  I’ll go, but dammit, you are such an asshole!” she yelled as she picked up her purse and turned to leave the room. 

He was behind her faster than she could imagine.  He grabbed her arm and glared into her face; she realized for the first time that his eyes were glazed over, his pupils the size of pinpoints. 

“What the fuck did you just say to me?”  He whispered menacingly.

Now she was truly afraid.  “Nothing, Jeff” she said as calmly as she could.  “I’m going to the store to get you some cigarettes.  Would you like anything else?” 

She tried to sound as conciliatory as possible, tried to be soothing.

“You hate me, don’t you?” he snarled. 

“No, Jeff, I love you.”  In her head she was screaming, damn straight I fucking hate you!,  as she surreptitiously moved backwards towards the door.

“You’re a liar!” he screamed at her. 

When he lunged at her a split second later she almost got away.  She made it out the bedroom door and was nearly to the steps when he grabbed her hair and swung her around to face him. 

“You are a fucking bitch!” He yelled.  “Go get some cigarettes!” 

Then he did something he had never done before:  he hit her.  Hard. In the face.  She felt pain, surprise, and confusion as she stumbled backwards, and then suddenly she was tumbling down the stairs.  Her back, her hip, her head, all slammed repeatedly onto the wooden stairs and into the stucco covered wall.  She landed in a crumpled heap on the first floor landing.  She was never sure if she lost consciousness, but the next thing of which she was aware was looking up to see Jeff glaring at her from the top of the stairs. 

“Get me two fucking packs”, he yelled.  Then he turned and went back into the room.

Oh Christopher, she thought as the tears began to fall and the pain set in.  What have I done and why aren’t you here to save me?  A few moments later she got up and headed to the store, wanting to get there before the bruises began to show.

The Iron Door Leaves Its Mark

Posted in Poetry, Ramblings with tags , , on 2010/02/05 by R L Burns

You know, you are an ass.                     

Even though it’s less than two days

From being a year ago that we first reconnected,

And it has been nearly as long

Since you last spoke to me

As it was that you actually spoke to me,

You still manage to wreak havoc,

Cause damage, crush dreams,

Bring pain.

Did you know you are that powerful?

You hurt me quite a bit.

You damaged my son.

You’ve mangaged, somehow, to bring my sister

To her knees as well.  Have you any idea

Of the decimation of souls for which

You are at least partially responsible?

Do you ever think about that?

On this end, no one would quarrel with your right

To make the decision you made…but to

Close the iron door on all of us –

With no preparation, no hint of an after care program

For those left behind?  You were wrong

No matter what your reasons, there is no excuse

For such bad manners, such cruelty,

Such incomprehensible insensitivity.

Especially when you knew, without a doubt,

That closing the iron door like that was the worst

Possible thing you could do to me – to us.

You knew, always, that disappearing in that manner

Would exacerbate every feeling of self-hatred

And worthlessness.

And now, my sister cries and pines for her brother –

For the sister so destroyed, the nephew so confused.

She cannot understand how you, like her father,

Could just…POOF! Act like we never existed,

Throw us out with yesterday’s trash –

And go on your merry way with no thought

Of her.  Or me.  Or Alex.

With only thoughts of yourself.

She / We thought you were different.

You swore you were.

You were wrong to do it this way –

Especially since, like always,

YOU started it all –

YOU opened the iron door you had closed

Sixteen years before.

Yes, like always, YOU start it, then

Leave me to deal with the aftermath.

Oh, what difference does it make?

I just cried with my sister and said,

“Hey – welcome to the Land of the Lost* –

Where are you Cha-Ka?”


But there was no response.


* Land of the Lost – 1974 tv show;  Cha-Ka is one of the characters.