Waterlogged Journal; 6/26/15

June 26, 2015

Sometimes, life sets out to humble you. A tidal wave knocks you down, sending you tumbling without knowing which way is up. Your lungs burn from the strain of holding your breath. You ache for air. You surface, inhale, and see another wave. This one smashes you harder than the first. You tumble, weightless and unable to do anything to stop the terrifying ride. Eventually, life spits you out and you land, clinging, on the shore. 

Each breath hurts. You throb and feel the pounding heartbeat in places you didn’t know existed. You’re filled with a mix of anger, disbelief, gratitude, and humility. Now, you are woefully aware of how fragile you are. That single strand of knowledge causes intense pain. It stings. It throbs. Your nerves send lighting bolts of pain to travel down your spine. 

You are insignificant and the center of the universe all at once. It freezes. Racing down the gauntlet of human emotion, you ran as hard and as fast as your broken body can manage. At the finish line, you emerge badly wounded and exhilarated by cheating death. It is a paradox, a profound oxymoron, and a staggering puzzle that manages to make complete sense when the blood and sweat is wiped from your eyes. 

The fragile body that you laid claim to bleeds. Tears pour down your face from overfilled eyes. Scorn radiates from your posture while you shout joyful gratitudes to the universe. A moment. A pause. Fists lifted, angrily shaking at the unseen deity that allowed you to be beaten by the waves, the gauntlet, existence. Hands, folded reverently in prayer, knuckles turning white as lips move in a frantic chant of thanks. 

After unfolding stiff hands, you beg. You please. You make offers of compromise, you beg to trade this current existence for something, anything, else. The adrenaline and shock set in; the body begins to tremble violently. Another loss. Another stumbling block. Square your shoulders, push yourself up. Extend the muscles of your legs into propelling your body upward, pretending the burn, the ache, strain are figments of your imagination. Standing, chest heaving, eyes straight ahead, you will one foot to move. Now the opposite foot. Three small steps. Four. Demanding more, the number continues to increase until you find yourself sanding on your sandy salvation once more. 

The salt breeze whips hair across your face, entwining in your eyelashes and making it impossible to see without rubbing the heels of your hands into your eyes to attempt to clear the strands. The water continues to tumble forward, draw backward. Memories of salt water invading your nostrils demand respect. The inability to tell up from down causes fear to rise in your gut. Courage fuels the taunt muscles that quiver as the white crests crash into your feet. 

It’s another day. Another goddamn beautiful day.

Owl Journal; Entry One


It is a startling realization to make. You aren’t the crazy one. You are the normal one. What happened wasn’t okay. It wasn’t right. It seems impossible at first. The thought feels like an ill-fitting shirt.

When I think of my childhood, the home that sticks out the most is an old white farmhouse that sat nestled between acres of pine trees. We moved there when I was (eleven?) twelve; a girl balancing on the cusp of adulthood and childhood. It was a terrifying and exciting journey.

We moved right before fourth grade finished for the year. We spent a few short weeks in an Alabama school before a teacher hit my brother. Aghast, my mother pulled us out. We would spend the next school year being driven for over an hour to our old elementary school. In 6th grade, my mom decided to homeschool us. I’ve worked hard to repress memories. They hurt to remember them. Logically, I know I need to sift through and work through the memories. Mentally, I know this is the next step in my growing recovery. Emotionally, I’m terrified.

I used to lie in bed at night and imagine an iron safe. I would give my memories shape and toss them in the box. Memories of harsh words would transform into bubbles. All the things I didn’t want to think about were crammed into my imaginary safe. As I stared at the ceiling, I could picture myself wrapping yards of thick, shiny chains around the safe. I would wrap thick sailor’s ropes and add locks. To make the safe vanish, I would shove it into the depths of the ocean or a never-ending black hole. It would sink into inky darkness, never to be seen again. I always assumed these memories would be gone for food and that I would never have to relive them again. Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will eventually be forced to go on an expedition to find these safes. I will have to construct a deep ocean sub, outfitted with bright lights, and begin my descent into the never-ending black. This is my expedition, my journey to find my buried safes. Take a breath and jump.

One of my clearest memories from childhood is filled with a keen sense of frustration and disappointment. I was five and a huge Little Mermaid fan. I had the Barbie and was playing with her outside. I remember digging a whole and burying her bright purple seashell top in the soft dirt. I can’t remember why, just that it was an important part of the play unfolding in my head. I remember coming back later and being unable to find it. It was maddening. I was certain I had buried it near my swing. I just wanted to find my buried treasure!

The next two memories are filled with hurt, fear, and anger. I remember the worst fight I ever witnessed between my parents. The exact beginning isn’t crystal clear and neither is the end. I recall my father yelling at my brother and me to sit in two chairs, unmoving, eyes glued to the argument. I remember squirming and wanting to leave. At one point, I had to pee. I close my eyes and imagine my small five-year-old body’s bladder sending frantic urges to my brain. I can feel the hard seat underneath me, my feet dangling as the urge to go grew stronger. I vaguely remember a Coke can being thrown at me. The rest is blurry and I don’t know if I am mixing two separate occasions together or if my five-year-old mind simply shut out parts. I remember my mother ushering us to the car. I remember the house being a mess. Things were thrown around. We went to a hotel. It hosted a pool and a hot tub. When we came home, I remember seeing clothes thrown across the lawn and dresser drawers across the porch.