Lost Letters

As I was going through some boxes that have been packed up for some time, I came across a bundle of letters. There were nine of them. They were all dated throughout the year of 1993.

I had just left college in Tennessee and moved to Washington State. I was in a foreign culture and in varying states of emotional trauma. I was pregnant with my youngest son and had a four year old child to care for. I felt alone and scared. Morning sickness was rocking my body. I was in deep need of support. The life I had imagined I was moving to was not as I had pictured.

I sat cross legged on my bed the other night, excited to read the letters. I couldn’t remember their context so they were new to me. During that time was the first that my sister and I had been separated by miles, since we’d left the cult. She was now married and off living her life.

I must have been writing to her about the despair I was in, based on her responses. The first couple of letters from her contained the average “Hi! How are you doing? I am fine.” generic theme.

Then I read on and became internally disturbed. My first irritation rose at her continual referring to my unborn child as “Shanaynay“, due to he/she (the gender of my infant unknown then) is a multicultural child. Every letter had the same line in it at some point.

So how’s Shanaynay doing?”

I cringed every time I read it.

I opened the sixth letter.

Hey Bitch! Relationship this! Relationship that! Don’t you have anything else to write about other than your fucking relationship?”

No, I thought. I didn’t. I was alone in a strange city. I had left my whole life, family and friends in Tennessee. I was in cultural trauma. I was having panic attacks. I was arguing with my partner. Things weren’t as they were supposed to be. I was rocked to my core. I had no one to talk to except her.

Letter eight made me wince even more. It bothered me when she called my unborn child Shanaynay. This reference felt intentional and racist.  I had obviously expressed this to her at one point.

So how’s Shanaynay? (Does that still bother you?)

I sat reading all of the different jobs her husband was going to have.
Refinery. We’ll be in the money!”

Job after job, fake happiness after fake happiness, to the point that she had to continually say it in the midst of my own churning hurtful life.
I am so happy with my husband.”

I sat with the letters in my lap. Twenty five years would pass by. She would call me panicked, vomiting out the years of verbal abuse she had taken from him. She would leave and go back. She would ghost everyone who ever fought for her. She would do it in the same coldness from which she had written these letters.

I sat on my bed realizing why I had held my family at bay in those later years, always feeling different, set apart, standing in the shadows of my own broken heart. She had chosen the other spectrum; the one filled with things that make people feel they have worth, and I chose to face the hurt.

I am wistful for dreams we had of lounging on beaches with drinks. I hurt for the cruel words thrown out in spite and the loss of a sibling who is still alive.

I have come to live in acceptance. I keep my spirit attached to my tribe, growing, healing and expanding. Yet, when she drifts my mind, I wince a bit. The cult broke her into pieces, and she walks behind a mask, unable to gather the shreds of her own greatness.

And I hope. I always hope, that she will return to who she was before they stripped us and tore our family apart.

All Of This Is Just a Hologram

Endings become beginnings sometimes, and frankly, it doesn’t always feel good. No. It feels like being a valuable crystal ball, dropped and shattered, then listening to the one who drops me saying,

“Ah. It’s just stuff.”

Yanno what?

My heart isn’t monetary. I’m not just stuff.

“Well, I paid you back.” does not erase the abandonment, because my emotional well being doesn’t compute out as dollar bills. I’m not a soul stripper. Lines on an accounting spreadsheet do not equate to heartbeats.

You have thrust me back into the wake of my mother’s mind control, choosing me for rescue when you needed me, then throwing me away to return back to your abusive Handler. I am sitting here in the dining room of the tabernacle, again, and you are my robotic mother, a puppet choosing to ignore me because that is God’s will.

You find a million reasons to make villians out of anyone who reminds you of what you should face in yourself. You’ve done the same as Mama did, without a care of your aftermath. What a selfish and self-righteous act, but as I always do; I bounce back.

There’s a pattern in this process of disregard, greed and apathy. It manifests as suffering; the wicked dying slow deaths of cancer and pain. Some call it karma. I say it’s self manifestation.

I am ignored just like Mama chose to do to me, justified inside because I am sin and everything that makes the world bad, harlot and whore, tainted child not good enough for the righteous ones standing on the pedestal of hypocritical judgment.

Yet, still I win, because sister, I am free, and as much as I struggle; as often as I stumble, I am my own now. I answer to no man or woman. I am free to be who I want to be. I am not bound to any one else’s opinion of me. And yes, for me, THAT, is ultimate freedom.

I never belonged to a group, as lonely as it got at times. It just never felt right to be inside of one. I’ve become at peace with it now; being the worst of the bunch; not fitting into the image of your pinned down scarves hiding the beauty you cant see in yourself, and the denial that your existence is sub-human to his.

You chose the cult of an isolated marriage riddled with religious gossip, drama, angst and pain. It must all feel familiar. I used to understand. Manipulation began at seven. Pain numbed by eight and the rest just a silent hoping that the truth doesn’t have to exist. That’s how you’ve always handled it.

I grew up in handkerchiefs and bonnets hiding my baby face from long hours working in sun drenched fields. I need my hair to flow free and not let my mistakes own me. We will always be Celie and Nettie, but this time, Nettie walks away on her own, because finery becomes more important than family. And Celie continues her rising because if there’s one thing I know, its thriving inside the layers of surviving.

I will not hide myself away; not like you. I am not worthless. I cannot be bought, and that makes me priceless. We are the remnants of what was done to us, and this time, I won’t deny the depth of the loss you have created. I will ride it to the moon, become cloud and mist because all of this is just a hologram.