Friday, May 27, 2016

The Choice - Flash Fiction


         The hall light came on in a flash the moment the fifteen-year old stepped through the front door. The hand that once helped her across the street slapped her across the face. The smack rang out in the quiet house, as did the daughter’s laughter. Angel didn’t feel the pain of her mother's hit. She was high on cocaine.
         The mother screamed, “You selfish bitch! Where were you?”
         Angel’s tone was flat when she replied, “Out.”
         “I know you were out! Where? Were you with him?”
         Angel wondered if her father was really sleeping through his wife’s yelling or was he too afraid to get caught in the middle of the two of them. “You already know I was. Can you move so I can go to bed?”
         “You’re late! I was insane with worry! Don’t you give a shit about anyone but yourself?”
         Angel let out a loud sigh, “I’m not even ten minutes late, Ma.”
         “You’re grounded.” She stepped aside so Angel could move up the stairs to the solitude of her bedroom.
         “You’re kidding, right?”
         With a smug look her mother replied, “Maybe you’ll think twice about being late and laughing about it next time you come waltzing through the door.” She brushed past Angel, then said over her shoulder, “Don’t treat me like a second-class citizen. I’m your mother.”
         “Ma, I was ten minutes late, you’re really gonna ground me for being ten-“
         “Yeah, I’m really gonna ground you. Go to bed, you selfish little whore.” Her mother shut her bedroom door with a slam.
         Angel sat on the edge of her bed. She was too wired from the blow to fall asleep. Not to mention too hurt by the sting of her mother's words. As she undid the laces of her tennis shoes, she looked around the room. Her Prince and Billy Idol posters stood in stark contrast to the Barbie dolls she just couldn’t seem get rid of yet. Those dolls reminded her of a better time. A time when she played with such carefree abandon. A time before her mother started throwing verbal daggers. A time before her parents couldn’t protect her from her uncle’s touch.
         Angel was jolted from those dark memories by the crash of her bedroom door being thrown open. Her mother’s face was red as screamed, “It’s either him or us! Your choice! We give you everything you could ever need. Clothes, food, shelter, and all you do is come home to eat and sleep. Well, I’m tired of being treated like a hotel. I’m done! So it’s time to choose missy! Him or us! He can have your selfish ass!” The door slammed shut with another loud bang as her mother left her in peace again.
         Silent tears ran down Angel’s face. She reached inside her pocketbook searching for the folded piece of notebook paper she prayed was in there. She whispered, “Please God, just one bump, just til morning, just to help me get through this night alone.” She dumped the contents of her purse onto the bed. No packet of leftover coke to be found. Damn!
         As she sat on the edge of the bed again, she eyeballed the diorama she made in junior high. Yes! She flipped over one of the little dolphins, and bingo! A joint. Thank God for emergency stashes. She cracked her window open and allowed the calming effects to numb her from her pain. For now.
         As the night wore on, her mother continued to barge in and scream obscenities at her until she finally calmed down too. Or maybe, just maybe, her father had had enough. Eventually, the sun rose and with it a new day and new opportunity. Angel found a note on the kitchen table in her father’s writing:

         We’re at the diner getting breakfast. Join us if you’d like. Love dad.

         As if nothing had happened.

         Angel flipped the note over and wrote:

         I choose him.

         As she walked out the door she spotted a small white packet lying on the floor by the front door. She smiled brightly as she picked it up and snorted it’s contents. The high was instant. It was going to be a good day. It was going to be a good life. 
        Or was it?

          Remember my dear readers,"It takes a thousand 'atta girls' to erase one 'you selfish bitch'." I speak from experience.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Kintsugi and Cover Reveal for Steps Along My Shore

Kintsugi is a Japanese word meaning to repair with gold. Rather than throw away a broken piece of ceramic, it's mended together with a golden lacquer making it more valuable in the process.

Kintsugi is also a Japanese philosophy about embracing life’s changes and one’s flaws, rather than hide them away in shame and embarrassment. They understand that our experiences, even the bad ones, make up who we are as individuals. We should not cower from them, but wear them as badges of honor. Those flaws can make us more valuable people too.

I agree with this philosophy. Almost. I understand I am who I am today because of all I went through in my life and I would not be that person today without the triumphs and without the traumas. However, I don’t know that I’m able to display that golden badge proudly on my chest for the world to see just yet. Being anonymous is one thing. Being not-so-anonymous is another.

Imagine what our world would be like if we didn’t have to hide our past, or even our present? How cool would it be to talk freely about the things we’ve experienced as we’ve grown into own unique selves? As we've become so valuable to those around us.

It’s a shame it took me thirty years to tell my closest friend that I was sexually abused as a child. Something she experienced too. All that time we could’ve helped each other through it. Instead, we hid in our own shame and embarrassment.

Just as we did about our shared drug addictions. We each knew the other had “problems” with drugs but never to what degree, or when or if the other stopped using. She recently entered the program, and had I said something earlier about my experience, maybe she would’ve done something for herself sooner. Maybe. But I said nothing. Because I was too afraid of being judged…even by my best friend, who was in the same spot as I had been.

Perhaps one day I’ll be able to embrace the Kintsugi philosophy completely and reveal to the world all of my flaws without the need to remain anonymous, but for now, I think I’ll embrace my gold-dusted flaws quietly and discreetly.


Just like I'll reveal my cover quietly. No big parade or blog tour. Just little ol' me sharing my cover for Steps Along My Shore letting you know I'm stoked! Remember a couple of months ago when I mentioned I was putting the book on delay to get feedback on it from some fine folks who have "been there, done that"? 

Well, I've not only gotten some valuable feedback, I also got this fantastic cover too...which just happens to be my new profile picture. I love it that much! A big thank you to it's creator who requested least for now. You'll know who he is soon enough one day.

pardon the poor picture taking skills -  that's all me!

My target release date for Steps Along My Shore is June 30, 2016 if not sooner. I'm doing my final read through, and then it'll be ready for release to the masses. I'm scared to death, but I'm excited too.

Do you like the philosophy of Kintsugi? Have you heard of it before today? Any words of advice before I release my book?


Friday, May 13, 2016

Affirmation Cards

Footprints In The Sand
Last week I talked about the power of positive self-talk. One of my favorite tools in my toolbox when it came to positivity were my affirmation cards. Those bad boys helped pull me out of some dark times. I still have them in my backpack full of goodies…just in case.

The two purple index cards, although a little tear-stained, could just as well have been a full suit of armor; that’s how well they served me during the time I was recovering from Relational Trauma.

When I was going through a trigger, I’d whip them out and start to read. Sometimes it’d take ten times, sometimes just once, but reading them usually calmed me down. Many times I read them aloud, I didn't care what was going on around me. Hearing those words reminded me where I was - the present. It also kept me grounded. Eventually, those words reminded me that I had value too. I was worth something and so are each and every one of you.

Here’s what they say:

       I am strong
       I am beautiful
       I am confident
       I feel good about my body
       I am worthy
       I am worth only the best
       I am thinking loving thoughts about Devin and myself
       I am unique and special
       I am stronger than my triggers
       I am healing
       All is well in my world
       I am calm
       I am relaxed
       I am at peace
       I trust the process of life
       I am supported and loved
       I can handle this
       I trust in God
       I am powerful

       I didn’t cause it
       I can’t cure it
       I can’t control it
       But I can take care of myself
       By communicating feelings, making healthy choices
       And celebrating myself.

Between my affirmation cards, the picture Devin made for me, and Footprints, I always had something nearby to read.

Do you have a special poem or prose you like to read when your stressed?


Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Power of Positive Self-Talk

There is quite an age gap between myself and my brother so it’s only natural that he provided me with lots of pearls of wisdom along the way…which I promptly rolled my eyes at but secretly stored away for use later in life.

One of those gems was to write down the things I wanted for myself. Kinda like a wish list of goals. He said if I read it aloud each day, the more realistic they’d become. Don’t tell him (cause I’d never hear the end of it), but he’s right. (Love you, Teddy!)

It’s the power of positive self-talk.

It’s so easy to allow negative thoughts to take over. To run us down and make us feel miserable about ourselves. Why is that?

But if we remind ourselves of all the good things we have by writing a gratitude list, and then read that list each and every morning, we’ll have a better day. We’ll remember that things really aren’t as bad as they seem. There can be a silver lining if we look close enough. Something to be grateful for.

If we write down our best qualities and stop focusing on our flaws, and read it before we start our newest project at work or at home, we’ll remember how gifted we are. There are hidden treasures of talents within us just waiting to be discovered.

We can do the same thing for our partners. If you’re in a relationship with an addict and things have hit a rough patch, write down the reasons you fell in love with them…take the addiction out of the equation for a few minutes…and focus on the positive. It helps to remember they’re more than their addiction sometimes.

Do you have a gratitude list? Do you tend to do positive self-talk or negative self-talk?