creativity · Love · poetry · relationships · writing

A Thousand Whys

In summer they were rock,
a picture poured
of woman wanting,

but men are lazy,
could drive me to ask
a thousand why’s

Is it her play?
& will these drunks
blow through
or licker?

(Friday is magnetic poetry.  The Oracle provided me with a little pun there at the end.)

creativity · Family · poetry · relationships · Uncategorized · writing

Adult Child

So my luck –
father’s favourite child,
me, no boy for him…

he drinks –
thousand morning scold –
knows I respect, make peace
and, you’d think
protect them

star – wishing god
was there, us
together, working it.

(Friday is Magnet Poetry online.)

adversity · culture · Family · poetry

Gains and Losses

The mistress, meticulously groomed
glows a sun-kissed bronze shimmery
invitation, promising seductive
sensations of pleasure and release.

The husband, tense, overworked,
emotionally overwrought
heeds the call like a sailor
following the lure of sirens.

The flirtation begins in innocence,
he sips from her splendour at a party,
tastes her bittersweetness and
feels himself losing all control.

She is a master, a pupeteer
mesmerizing him with her smooth,
easy ways – lulling him into compliance
and alone; for private indulgence.

The wife, tired, lies awake
the empty space beside her
echoing the hollow place within-
she no longer holds his desire.

Spent and reeking from his illicit encounter,
the husband stumbles into bed,
reassuringly reaching for his wife in the dark.
Unresponsive, she feigns sleep.

They’ll not speak of it tomorrow-
awake and re-engage in the routine they call life.
Not tonight, he’ll tell himself,
Not tonight, she’ll hope.

The mistress sits smugly in waiting,
a never ending supply of liquid gold,
bottled with a promise – subliminally
conditioned to bring personal gain.

(Gains and Losses first appeared here in December of 2014.  As a child of alcoholism, the Christmas season is always a reminder of the pain.   Some gains are just not worth the cost.  If you or someone you love has a problem with addiction, please make it a resolution to seek help.  There is so much more to life.)

abuse · Family · poetry


Be done short patience,
chores!  I need libation
(preferably organic) –
not that I’m dependent

I’m just a bit anxious,
could use a boost of fun,
imbibing makes me less
mechanical, loosens edges

none of that hard stuff,
a little nip will do, keep
the dream alive – feeling
a little lame here, seems

my supply, having waned,
needs replenishing, and since
I’m semi-aware with spirit,
and my driver has left me

I’m making social calls –
won’t be repeating any
dangerous family patterns –
this outage’s unscheduled

seems no one is home –
surely, I am capable, I mean
this need is understandable,
allowances can be made, right?

Maybe if I just go quietly,
without causing a scene –
I really need a shot of patience
just to get through this day.


Family · memoir · new project · nonfiction · writing

Four Voices

At the age of four, I moved with my family into a new house that my father had built, on the outskirts of town.  The day of our move my mother disappeared, and left to my own devices, I defied my father’s rules about staying out of certain parts of the house and discovered secret places, the beginning of my awareness that all was not as it seemed.  When my mother returned, she was carrying a new baby sister, and all was seemingly well, until one day she too discovered that the walls had secrets.

Four Voices tells the story of growing up in a family where secrets defined us; and examines the relationship between a daddy’s girl and her father, split between two worlds.  All names have been changed for this story.  Part I, starts at the end of seventeen-year-old Betty-Ann’s home life, and can be read here.

I have attempted to write this story for most of my life, however; I was always missing an essential piece – my father’s perspective.  Now, armed with new understanding, I offer you a tale of tragic misunderstanding and hope for healing.

Feedback is deeply appreciated.


dreams · Family · recovery

Fall from Grace

The proverbial can has exploded –
transparency of our deceit now lies
like swarms of glass snakes writhing
at our feet – litany of hissing truths.

Bent on keeping innocence alive,
I strategically attempt avoidance,
point to wealth, abundance, nurture
focus – the onslaught continues.

Slivers of slime, maggot-like hoards
mobilize – a sea of protestation, I
overwhelmed by filth and disgust
encroaching on my sanity – helpless.

Familiarity colours the devastation –
have witnessed it before, watched
as my mother bit into the same
serpent defiled apple – turned away.

There are no barriers to block out
the vile beasts – no refuge for broken
souls, whose lives – twisted in denial –
have mercilessly fallen to betrayal.

Family · recovery

Ocean’s Legacy

My father’s eyes were the ocean,
hypnotizing, alluring, and I desired
to know their depth, their mysteries,
certain that true love dwelt there.

Volcanic was his temperament,
a constant fiery, churning nature,
that both awed and frightened –
danger always lurking: precarious.

He was the mountain, and we; his
offspring cowering in his shadows,
smothered by his darkness, only
dreaming of light: tortured souls.

Impotent in the face of his angst,
sought reparation elsewhere, looked
for his soul in the heart of others,
longed for healing from his disease.

Found eyes like his, mannerisms
that mimicked, aspired to love,
encountered unspoken truths:
learned of addiction’s demons.

Ran from one man to another,
constantly confronting same
wall of denial, dance of anger,
insurmountable debilitation.

I am my mother’s daughter,
congenial to a fault, driven
to please, pleased to submit,
an alcoholic’s dream mate.

Like my mother, I long for
something indescribable –
certainly unattainable – believe
that I am fated, unlovable.

Fallen, as I have, as she had,
into the mesmerizing blue
of his ocean, craving to know
the love that surely dwells there.

abuse · Family · memoir

Commanding Love

“Come sit down beside me,” my father pats the floor commanding my presence as he would a dog.  I hesitate.  The glass in his hand tilts dangerously, threatening to spill the amber contents, and his voice slurs slightly.  A dangerous scenario.

“Have I told you lately that I love you?”  He reaches a hand out towards me, and I know it is useless to object.  I accept the invitation, settling in at his feet.  He pats my head, absentmindedly stroking my hair.

“I am proud of you, Squeegie.  Did you know that?”  I have an idea.  I’d overheard Mom and him talking the other night and he’d said as much, but he seldom says it to my face, unless he’s been drinking:  a double-edged sword.

“My father was a brilliant man, you know.”

I nod my head.  I’ve heard this story before.  “I never got his brains, but you did.”

“Oh, that’s not true, Dad, you’re very smart.”

“No, no.  Not as bright as you are.  There isn’t anything you can’t do in this world if you set your mind to it.”

“Thanks, Dad.”  Where is this going? I wonder.  Last week Dad chastised me for only getting 96% on my math report.   How does anyone miss four percent? he blasted.  Sounds like you were carelessto me!

“The thing is, Veej, it’s not enough just to be smart.  You have to have goals and ambition.  You have to work hard.  Me, I wasted my life.  I let my demons take over.  Don’t make the same mistakes as me.”

I never know what my father wants from me when we have these conversations.  I feel more like his confessional than his daughter.  “You haven’t wasted your life Dad; it’s not too late.”

“Oh, yes it is.  I have been weak; a fool.”  Looking up I see the tears forming in my father’s eyes.

I remain silent.  This really isn’t about me, I realize.  My father is seeking reassurance.  I pat his knee, and let him ramble on, my mind glazing over.  The thing is, I’d actually built my hopes up for a moment, thinking that my father was going to praise me.  Of course, he wasn’t; it’s not his style.  I should know that.  Day after day, I watch him debase my mother, cursing her ineptitude.  Then he turns that venom on us children, yelling about our incompetence, and reminding us how we will never amount to anything.

“You do love me, don’t you?”  Dad’s winding down.   This is my signal to break free.

“Of course I do, Dad.”  I rise and gently kiss his cheek.

He catches my wrist and pulls me towards him.  “Look me in the eye and tell me you do, Veej.  Tell your old man you love him.”

“I love you, Dad.”  Pity floods me, temporarily whitewashing the underlying anger.

Later, I lie in bed letting the numbness of disappointment overcome me.  Praise never comes without a hitch in this house.


abuse · Family · life · Love · recovery · relationships

Distinguishing Past from Present

My father had a habit of tilting his glass in such a way as to indicate that it needed refilling.  He would perform this ritual without saying a word, but the accompanying look would speak volumes:  I am the Master here, and you are to do my bidding.

I hated it, and I fought against him, but the reality was that he did hold all the power.

When my husband was laid up, I took on the role of caregiver.  One morning, he tipped his coffee cup and gave me a look of appeal.  I felt myself cringe.  He is just like my father! my mind screamed.  I felt the weight of years of oppression and depression hovering over me.  Have I married my father?  Is there no hope for me?  Is my joy always to be squashed?

th-1My therapist recommended Perfect Daughters, by Robert Ackerman.  It reveals the struggles, characteristics, and patterns associated with adult daughters of alcoholics.  I learned that women of alcoholic fathers will often enter into relationships where they see an opportunity to heal the original father/daughter rift, and that this attempt is seldom successful.

What I have gleaned from experience is that I often tolerate behaviours for a long time, and that instead of seeing fault in the other, I will be quick to blame myself.  I know that I do not like confrontation, and that I feel like my complaints are trivial in the light of the bigger picture.  I have also learned that I often project unresolved feelings about my father into my current relationships, and  I recognized immediately that the gush of emotion over Ric’s innocent gesture was just that.

Many feelings related to childhood have bubbled up as a result of the stress of the past years.  I have been feeling the despair of never seeing an end to the hurt.  Ric, tired of his predicament became more defiant, pushing his limits, and striving to regain control over his life.  My response was accelerated anxiety and as much as I understand that he is an adult and makes his own choices, I find it hard not to react, spiraling into a dysfunctional dance of feeling like a child again, caught in a cycle of chaotic impossibilities, destined to be crushed.

Then I had a dream.  I don’t remember what it was, but I awoke with sudden understanding.  The panic I had been feeling is a product of my child’s need to finally feel in control.  Somehow, she believes that if she could just control my father /Ric’s behavior, then everything will be okay.  Her desire to control stems from a need to know that there is consistency in life, and that the process can be trusted.  She needs to feel secure and know that she is loved no matter what, not only if she behaves herself, or manages not to upset anyone.

The adult me knows that none of this is possible.  People will always behave and make choices outside of our control.  It is not a reflection of their love for us, but a product of their own inner workings.  Ric’s struggles and his attempts to resolve them are not about me, in reaction to me, or more importantly, because of me.  If his actions have consequences that affect me, then it is up to me to look after myself and make sure I have taken appropriate protective measures.

I am reminded of something one of my university profs once said.  It went something like this:  Where there is power over, love cannot exist.  Where there is power for all, love exists.   My father behaved as if he was the only one with power in the family.  I did not feel loved.  My marriage to Ric is a partnership and a sharing of power.  I feel his love for me.