100 Days of Poetry

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten,

eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, 17, eighteen, nineteen, twenty,

twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty,

thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty,

forty-one, forty-two, forty-three, forty-four, forty-five, forty-six, forty-seven, forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty,

fifty-one, fifty-two, fifty-three, fifty-four, fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine, sixty,

sixty-one, sixty-two, sixty-three, sixty-four, sixty-five, sixty-six, sixty-seven, sixty-eight, sixty-nine,

seventy, seventy-one, seventy-two, seventy-three, seventy-four, seventy-five, seventy-six, seventy-seven, seventy-eight, seventy-nine, eighty,

eighty-one, eighty-two, eighty-three, eighty-four, eighty-five, eighty-six, eighty-seven, eighty-eight, eighty-nine, ninety,

ninety-one, ninety-two, ninety-three, ninety-four, ninety-five, ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one-hundred

I’ve been clear. Do not cross this line.

More than a decade ago I wrote this post and what followed has been an arduous walk alone. My birth-father called to take me out to coffee after this post went live, sat me down and in not-so-many words told me to shut up. A couple of my siblings had sat him down (his account) and read parts of this post to him.

My reaction in person, at a coffee shop, was to start crying. I said out loud “why do they hate me so much” and I shocked my birth-father with this reaction. Clearly he was there to tell me how it was and then I went and just told him how it actually it is … with my son next to me.

I hugged him in the parking lot and I knew deep inside that I was done. I was never going to do this again. The relationship was rocky for my entire life, but I was no longer going to show up for this kind of ‘love’. Because it wasn’t love at all. He was protecting himself, mostly. The story of his life was more important than the impact all of his actions ever had on the people he was supposed to protect, who he clearly never cared to.

I grew up in a very abusive household. Physical, yes. Verbal, absolutely. Sexual, yes. He silo’d us so we wouldn’t compare notes. But what was really effective was making us believe we deserved this lack of love, lack of respect, lack of care … and he loved telling us how much the others in the family ‘really felt’ about us. Why would I go and talk to my sister when I was being told she thinks I’m a spoiled bitch?

He positioned himself as the savior, because “he cared so much” and wanted us “to know” so we didn’t walk into situations that would ultimately hurt us, he pitted us against each other. Silence was his currency and I bit every single time.

This man has been my stalker since I can remember. During my parents ugly divorce we would find him dressed in black, sneaking around the woods outside our house watching us. He carried this through to my adult life. I kept forgiving him, because “we’re supposed to honor our mother and father” and I was anything, if not, a good Christian girl who didn’t want to smite God and go to Hell for turning away from the first representation I ever had of a “father”.

More than once he showed up at my school and requested the school counselor remove me from class so I would be forced to talk to him. In high school, I finally had enough and told my counselor that if they ever did that again I would go apeshit. They needed to protect me, this man needed to leave me the fuck alone.

So he waited for me in parking lots, instead. Sneaking into my car, leaving notes, walking into my home when I wasn’t there. Taunting me, but of course – he would call this “love”, “Looking out for me” and his favorite of all time … “But you’re MY DAUGHTER, I’m YOUR FATHER, and later, those are MY GRANDKIDS” usually in all caps, because for some reason text-shouting it meant more? I am not, nor have I ever been, his property.

It took some rocky years to solidify my boundaries but once I did, I was married to them. I finally felt free of this oligarch. I blocked his number(s) but he still tried to get me by re-routing his phone number through different states. He continued to call my mom until I was well into my thirties telling her it was time to “straighten me out”.

One time he looped my step-mom into the fun and had her call me from the hospital with an emergency. When I called back out of concern and worry – she said she never was in the hospital and why wouldn’t I talk to him? She handed him the phone.

This man is a retired airline pilot, who used the mission field has his loophole to flight school. He started visiting prostitues while married to my mom, in Nigeria. The last time he cheated on her and she caught wind of it, she finally left him. I was 8.

My step-mom, after 25 some odd years, finally left him, too. Last year.

Since then, he’s ramped up his efforts to try and engage with me, my brother, my sister. He even brought a rifle to my sister’s property, where her 3 youngest children live, and has threatened on multiple occasions, and to multiple people, that he would kill her.

She has a PPO on him, and I have a police file. We don’t post photos of the front of our houses anymore, but he still found us. He showed up on Dec 18 unannounced while my kids were outside shoveling the driveway.

He engaged.

All bets are off.

All he had to do was stay away, leave me alone. I would have stayed quiet. I would have just let him die in peace so I could live in my own kind of peace without him.

He doesn’t want to be known as a Diddler. (His words) But what else do you call a man who can’t keep his hands to himself?

Certainly not Dad.

this moment, I declare myself capable

This post is part of a series called 100 Days of Poetry.

I want to be done performing for you. Bending in all the ways I don’t fit inside of myself just to be palatable for your preferences. You should have preferences and know the kinds of people who you want to be around and you should find those people and invest in those relationships, but asking me to be your surrogate scape goat of comfort isn’t fair to either of us. To any of us. I’ve gone rigid in my defiance to stand tall near you, unmoving, unable to waver. And I want to be able to dance again, to move my body and manage myself in a room without worrying whether or not you approve.

So I’m done. Right now, this moment, I declare myself capable.

You will feel neglect and shock and anger at my unwinding from your tightly coiled hold on my agency and you will want to fix this. But I am not for fixing. 

I am for living. I am for loving. I am for leaving all of you behind.

You are the ghost

This post is part of a series called 100 Days of Poetry.

Am I afraid of ghosts? (Laughs to self)

Oh honey. They’re my favorite companions. Fables of another time, prophets of love, legends of time. 

They tell the BEST stories. They’re our entire collection of fear, packaged as lessons in love.

They tell you your favorite version of the worst story over and over again like kids around a campfire. By the end of your disassociation: you end up the hero of your own horror.

Showing you the way back to your own self. She’s here, she’s there. She’s everywhere. 

You are the ghost.