Through the Door

While the background noise is distracting, the visuals are great and the reader’s voice is truly magical!
(or listen here)
Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s a tree, or a wood,
a garden, or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face, or an eye, or the picture of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only the hollow wind,
even if nothing is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.

By Miroslav Holub

There is a door to the outside from my basement. It’s level with the ground on that side of the house because I live on the east side of a large hill at the southern end of a mountain range. Foothills for the Appalachian mountains. Like many areas of the world, it is quite lovely here. I very rarely use that door in the basement – maybe once a year. It needs replaced. The kick plate area on the door is very damaged. I know that I should fix it – it looks awful. I am starting to wonder if I keep broken things around as some sort of penance flagellation or something. Is this a thing that people do?

Perhaps you are wondering why I think it is my punishment to look at that hideous kickplate area of the door every time I drive up and down the back driveway, take a walk around the property, search for wild turkeys and baby dear, or study flights of the bumblebees? Sharing is caring and so I will do it. It is painful and hard, but… I keep hearing about doing hard things, getting out of the comfort zone, and the eternal “fuck it.”

(insert tea break to work up the courages)

My friend, who is not really my friend, from high school, used to hate it HATE IT when I would dive into a joke, make a funny face, or find a silly spot in a tough situation or conversation. He did not like it. “Not everything is a joke or funny,” he would say, very seriously with reproach overtones. I just could not understand how that could be true. I get it now, of course (the maturitys). However, for the most part, it is me being me and I cannot not be me no matter how hard I try. And, believe me, I have tried so very hard that if there was a “tried hardest to make things be something else” award, I might be asked to stand before the final judgement table with a few of you other contestants. SOLIDARITY floating in that boating. Admittedly, though, my unwavering commitment to pull-up-your-big-girl-panties look-on-the-bright-side and move on crap, did almost get us killed. *sigh*

The kickplate on the door happened during the almost got killed times. I have told no one about this before right now. Not my attorney. None of the therapists. Not the police. None of my friends or family. It happened between the time MrexH had been removed from our home, placed into a twelve day psychiatric hold at our local hospital, and the 5 terrifying months later when he was remanded into custody of the State. I believe that he damaged that kickplate.

When SonHerisme was 5/6 years old we were still sleeping in the same bed in the main bedroom of the house just above the side of the basement where the door to the outside is located. I hardly slept during those times because I was terrified about what was going to happen to us. I didn’t know if MrexH was coming to kill us that day, that night, or maybe the next day. BrotherHerisme put an alarm system on every door and window, a motion camera at the end of the driveway, and security bars on all of the doors. I would awaken at any little sound in the house, and still do most nights. Although at points in just the last few years, my brain and body eventually give out and I fall so deeply asleep for an hour or so, that I truly hear or feel nothing.

When MrexH was MrH and lived in the house with us, he had a collection of sports memorabilia he kept in the basement. A hoard rather. When he was no longer in the house, the thing he wanted the most, other than to control us, was the sports stuff in the basement. Our attorneys made arrangements for him to pick up the sports stuff, but I didn’t want him back in the house at all. By this time he had destroyed things in the house and threatened all of my family and a few friends. The agreement was for me to take all of the sports stuff outside.

It was raining on the day this was to take place and I got worried about the stuff getting damaged (ha!) and about SonHerisme being outside with me in a thunderstorm to move all of the stuff. SonHerisme was so full of trauma at this time that he could not bring himself to leave my side. Unless it was absolutely necessary for us to be separated (court appearances, attorney phone calls, police interviews etc) I let it be okay for him to be with me at all times he needed me. I’m sure I messed everything up on occasion, but my go-to was to do whatever kept SonHerisme safe and healthy (including mentally). With the rain, I decided not to take anything outside and I phoned my attorney to let her know.

This last minute change did not go over well with my attorney(she had some words for me on the phone and in her office, Mercenary Athena fuh reals y’all). It also did not please MrexH. There were nights after this that I thought someone was pulling into the back driveway and walking around the house. I was too paralyzed with fear to do anything about it. I was too afraid to leave SonHerisme and check anything out. I was too afraid to look out any windows and I was too afraid to even phone the police.

There were nights when it felt like someone was stomping around the house. There were nights when I thought someone was banging on the doors, including the garage doors, to get inside the house. Like a scene out of a spooky movie, I would pull SonHerisme as close to me as I could and pull the blanket up over our heads and hold my breath for as long as possible, silently counting the seconds to see how long two minutes felt. It would take two-five minutes between when police were notified the alarm went off and an emergency responder would arrive to the driveway on a typical night. I would calculate how much damage MrexH could possibly do in two-five minutes. Would he stop to grab his sports stuff before he came upstairs to get us? Would he stop in the kitchen and grab a knife or would he just bring a baseball bat from the collection? Could I say something to distract him from hurting us until the police could get here? Once here, could the police get inside in time to save at least SonHerisme? If I squished SonHerisme and myself underneath the bed, could he reach us before the police arrived, or would that be a big enough delay? Should I use a blanket when I did that to keep SonHerisme in a softer cocoon? Is this the day that we die? Did I lock all of the everythings? Should I pick up SonHerisme and run for the car? Except the car is downstairs in the garage… Am I fast enough? Is this how we die?

Yes, we are still in the same house.

Yes, I have thought about leaving.

Yes, I know he can find us here or wherever we go because I do not live in a made for cable movie/series.

MrexH is far away at the moment. So far that he cannot drive here. For now, we are safe and SonHerisme is a 6ft athletic 12 year-old. A bit different than a few years back.

After MrexH was placed into State custody a few months later, and the seasons left Summertime for Autumn, I noticed that there was a dent in the garage door which was new, and that the kickplate area on the basement door had been damaged to the point of paint kicked off and rust settling in spots (which are now very evident). This aknowledgment is chilling and making my teeth numb.

This is how I know I am in a place of deep anxiety or fear: my heart rate slows to a loud thumping in my left ear, I do not feel any temperature (I see you in your parka and I am in short sleeves, or I see you in short sleeves but I have somehow worn my parka), if I can think about them at all – my legs and arms feel detached from my body, I hear my eyelids softly click click when they blink, my throat closes to a voice whisper, and my teeth go numb. I should add that my biggest and first clue is always numb teeth. When My teeth go numb, I know the other things are coming. This has taken me years to figure out beyond the numb teeth. But I’m sure if you are in my real life community, you have wondered to yourself, “it’s 90 degrees out, why is she wearing a big coat?” or, “It’s freezing out here, where is her jacket and why is she in a short dress?” Of course, I am awkward without the anxiety so that probably explained it for you 😉

I used to try to harness control by taking some naproxen as soon as I could feel the wave coming over me.  
It didn't take away the effects of the anxiety, but it did help keep me functioning to get into the car.  
Drive to the courthouse parking lot.  
Remind myself of how Oprah got out of her car to face white cattle people in court (I know - not the same at all, but it helped me at the time, somehow).  
Get out of my car. 
Get into the elevator.  
Push the button.  
Get out of the elevator. 
Walk across the alley.
Enter the courthouse basement area.
Walk through security.
Get into the courthouse elevator.
Push the correct floor button.
Exit the elevator. 
Veer to the right to find a safe spot on the far wall until I spotted my attorney or stepped inside the State's Attorney's office area.
You know, the usual.

I do not use naproxen for anxiety anymore. Although, I can’t say if push came to shove with some new lethal scenario, I wouldn’t use it again. Maybe (?). It is unlikely at this point that this would occur, but …? Who knows.

It is the door better left unopened.

I do not even want to be the person that ever had that door at all, but here we are. *tap dances with jazz hands for effect*

On a much lighter note, another door I occasionally peek through leads me into the other side of the world to the Asian Continent via Twitter where I am often mistaken for one country’s prominent life-long politician and current foreign minister. Sometimes I’ll open up the twitters with hundreds of retweets and mentions woven through threads of whatever is happening over there of which I have barely a novice understanding of. This has been going on since shortly after I joined the Twitterverse. Honestly, I like being misTweeted. There have been many days, much like some of you, where I have felt completely disconnected and unseen. There’s no relief from that except for putting it out of mind as best as I am able since it is much too painful to sit with. On those days I especially enjoy being misTweeted and when I am up to it, I do respond to some of them. Through the years I have only had one person respond to my comments, and it was with an, “alhamdulillah,” and a laughing emoji. The twitttering usually goes something like this:

Them:  Such-and-such political party is causing me to have the angers for the reasons which I will now express to you @(me)
Me:  It's my party and I'll cry if I want to #somistweeted #checkyourselfbeforeyouwreckyourself #carryonpeacewarrior
or
Me:  You have reached @(me). I am unavailable at the moment due to staying alive stuff. If you have inquiries as to my availability for champagne on the deck, please leave a msg. If you have inquiries of a more serious nature, kindly redirect yourself to @(the politician's tag) #carryonbeveragewarrior #pleasebringachampagnesword #imtheoneinglasseswglasses

Links between the two? Nothing. Just very different doors of experiences. Although I am fairly certain that DV experiences are sadly universal…

DON’T go through the DV door, it has too much darkness ticking. I do not recommend it at all. There are a zillion other doors – choose those. Choose all of those and open them all. When you open mine, I’ll wave back 🙂

Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo

ps my door is oversized, deep red brown wood surrounded by a concrete/brick frame with a rounded top, and pop-open peek-a-boo shutters. There’s a bit of black wrought iron somewhere and lots and lots and lots of greenery and flowers with a cozy swinging bench or two.

(my real door is on-purpose yellow on a regular American-style brick-front black-shuttered house but you’ll find me around back on the deck or the trampoline)

also, I share my hard stories in the hopes that your hard stories will perhaps not feel as lonely, and that mine will not feel as lonely too.

Tweality

(or listen here)

This morning I awakened around 5:30am. I have trouble sleeping. I was awake at 2:30am the first time.

What I did not do – I did not check Twitter. I did not check Twitter at 2:30am, I did not check Twitter at 5:30am. I have yet to pop over to Twitter this morning (currently 9:22am).

I checked my email this morning at 9am (post celery juice, lemon juice, egg in the nest with avocado, and very dark very smooth very elixir of the g-ds coffee breakfast natch) and saw that I had not checked any of my email accounts since 2pm yesterday.

I did go to the supertastic plastic Facebook and ‘liked’ all of the people’s cute pics of their inaugural celebrations! Instagram was a hard pass because of the ads. Something has changed with Instagram, and Facebook, over the past few months and they seem to be pulling algorithms maybe from everywhere, including my connections lists to pop certain ads into my feed. Most of the time I can scroll on by, but sometimes the ads just punch me in the gut (oooh, look at the people falling in love on this show! look at the child being abducted on that show! look at this gorgeous holiday destination that you will never ever ever go to!). Somehow it’s more obvious on Instagram to me. Probably because I get so distracted with all of the cute pics and updates on Facebook of my real life connections. Whereas my Instagram feed is more design, architecture, museums, books, authors, social justice advocates, poets, artists – so perhaps a bit more bohemian than the everyday.

Aaaaaaand my Ms. Distraction Delilah point is… that I did not need instant Twitter this morning. I did not need my email instantly.

Since April 2014, I have used social media and email as pieces of protection for SonHerisme and myself. MrexH was on there posting vague threats for some time (which became more specific and in writing later). Email was my lifeline to my attorney and SonHerisme’s attorney. I had to keep myself aware of what was going on for safety, as a touchstone with the reality of what was happening because everything was very disorienting and honestly truly unbelievable.

About 18 months into that untenable unpredictable potentially lethal situation, we had a presidential election where we voted into office a narcissistic abusive asshole. My parents, knowing my situation, observing me in real time and supporting me, voted for that abhorrent human anyway. More disorienting brain twists.

Once the situation with MrexH abated somewhat, my mother asked to move in with me “for a few weeks,” in late 2016 (spoiler alert – she is still living with me) to get some medical treatment. Her medical situation evolved into a shitstorm where she refused to move back home with my father, and found her being treated through Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. It has been an adjustment we are continuing, despite going into her fifth year. drama, drama, drama Have I mentioned that she came with two little puppy dogs? I’m fine.

Driving into Georgetown is lovely, EXCEPT when you have an unpredictable dangerous abusive narcissistic racist misogynist president… Every single time I drove into the city, I would check my back-ups, my back-ups to the back-ups and their back-ups to make sure that no matter what craptastic storm of shit the president instigated, SonHerisme would be safe until I could return to him or, g-d forbid, if I could not return to him. I am the parent who gave my child a cell phone in elementary school. It is highly controlled by me, even to this day (he is only 12), but has brought both of us immense peace of mind on Georgetown days especially.

Every single time we heard helicopters fly over, I ran to Twitter to see what our asshole in charge may have instigated and if we were safe. My house sits on the side of a little foothill mountain in the flight pattern to Camp David. If the three military helicopters in formation flew over, I refreshed Twitter obsessively (I follow a lot of journalists, politicians, government agencies and employees plus the BBC because our media can be, let’s say, a bit nationalistic shall we?). The three helicopters mean one has the president inside, btw. I am not revealing anything to ne’er do wells – our airspace is fairly locked down around here since 9/11. When President Obama was in office, everyone would run outside when we heard the helicopters and wave like crazy. It was exciting. He was not perfect. I admire, but do not idolize President Obama, or his politics, but we were immensely proud to have him in that office and proud to host him in our area.

COVID-19 has brought a whole new way of life for us, but MotherHerisme’s Georgetown treatments have not halted, save a handful of weeks. As the election cycle ramped up the sychophant racists felt compelled to become more emboldened in their fervent support for the sitting president causing my safety alarm bells to ring on high alert. We saw them gunning down 270 with their flags waving. We saw them put large banners in their yards declaring their unwavering loyalty to fear-based white supremacy.

I checked Twitter more frequently. I had Waze on, watching traffic patterns into and out of the city for days before Georgetown appointments. I packed an emergency bag for my child in the event of some acts of violence which might prevent me from getting home from the city. I packed a safety plan bag as if we were back in the situation with MrexH. I packed a fucking g-ddamned bag. I might be holding some anger there with that.

On January 5th, I was in Georgetown. On January 6th, treasonous seditionists took over our Capitol building until our Governor sent in reinforcements to reclaim the building. All of those employees in the hospital parking garage, at the hospital, in the cafe, driving the buses, taking care of the hurting humans, doing the things that life asks us to do, were put into jeopardy because of those despicable actions at the encouragement of despicable assholes.

I was, we were, we are, fine.

As I recall my attorney telling me (she had to repeat this many times), “our courts cannot legislate degrees of being an asshole.”

Damnit it all

This is a hard lesson. While I do absolutely believe that lack of accountability for egregious behavior is a form of abuse, I have already had the hard lesson of learning that not all egregious behavior can be legislated. It may be that those we clearly see as responsible for inciting the violence of January 6th, among other deplorable behaviors, will not experience accountability exacted by a court of law. But, the law is not separate from us. It’s humans that work for and form our laws and the interpretation of our laws. This is where I know we can make a difference. We can hold those responsible accountable. We can educate ourselves, use our votes, write letters to our representatives, and withhold our passive endorsements (grab-your-wallet, again).

*steps off of another soapbox to say* I have been pleasantly surprised that today I feel I can Twitter at my discretion rather than as a knee-jerk emergency panic response. This is my sign that perhaps I can attempt to be a thoughtful planner rather than a panic-reactor. Or not. But feeling as if I have the choice may be enough for now.

How are you feeling?

Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo

ps – instead of Twittering: I read, I watched short comedy clips, and “liked” all of the people posting the things on Facebook

Random note: on Twitter I am frequently mistaken for a prominent Pakistani politician. This provides occasional hilarity for me as I sometimes respond. Good times.

I need a drink and some giggling

(avoids tagging the comedian bc I see you downloading across the waters which my friend suspects is due to the tagging of the peoples. It is a bit funny yet full of the awkwards. Also, “Hello!” and I am glad you are here because I like you and I want to visit all of your museums I feel nostalgia for, plus take a train ride through your countryside with a footnote seaside adventure, one day. Of course, now I am also thinking about a walk in a random park, a show, and chucking it all in here to move there and share a knowing kindred head nod with a neighbor *sigh* and *internally sings* with imagination, I’ll get there)

MisTweeted & Identity Crisis

IMG_2401

You Guys

I am having a complete identity crisis.

As revealed earlier today (in a private tele convo, so you are just hearing about it now, unless it was you I was speaking to), I could hardly tell when I was having fun in a situation until I was probably 30.  This factoid might enlighten you as a precursor to my current crisis.

I am calling it a crisis, because defining/redefining myself is having a HUGE impact on my ability to function.  Wait, maybe that’s the indicator for needing professional intervention.  Anywho, it is what I am currently experiencing.

I am unemployed

I am existing solely as a caretaker for my son

I do not have a profitable passion

I am not sure that I have any passion

I am not even sure if I like the tea that I am drinking

 

And now, after a few weeks of Twitter silence, the Pakistanis have returned to insult me.

Not really me, of course, because they do not know me.  They think I am some old male controversial Pakistani political celebrity elder statesman kind of person.

I have been ignoring them for months.

Typically what happens is that a Pakistani tweets something ‘@’ ing me, thinking they are connecting with the politician man.  Then someone else retweets, someone else adds comments and retweets, and their friends retweet and their friends retweet and so on.  For a few years, I would even be tweeted by news outlets as if I were this Pakistani man of political influence.

Yes, this has been going on for years.

Yes, I know that I can change my twitter handle.

 

Are you still with me?

 

For a long time, I used these ‘@’ tweets as my own personal entertainment.  Not to mock the feelings of the people tweeting their passionate political views, but more so to challenge myself to find tongue-in-cheek ways of responding that I clearly am not the person the tweet is intended for.

I would reply to the individuals who started the threads, and enlighten them that they were tweeting the wrong person on the wrong continent/time zone/interest level etc.

Then Brooke Shields did that Funny or Die with “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” I added that as a hashtag to most of my replies when I was mistweeted (poor mistweeted me!).

For example (handles changed to generic @soandso’s for them, and @me for me – words otherwise copied exactly as tweeted)

A Pakistani tweets:

@soandso @soandso @soandso He @soandso has also started rat race of inducting men loyal to him rather then party like @me

I tweet:

@soandso @soandso @ soandso @soandso it’s MY party and I can cry if I want to #wrongsoandso #checkyourself #beesrbuzzin

If the ‘@’ tweets turned scary or inappropriate, I carefully went through the threads and blocked the tweeters.  Sometimes this would take me days (500+ re-tweets).

After a few years, there was a tipping point where it seemed like most people recognized that I am clearly not a controversial Pakistani elder statesman.

One time, maybe three years ago, some men that I corrected in a mistweeted thread, even sent me notes back with some Insha’Allah’s, and a prayer.

On a few occasions I have included women’s advocacy links in my responses – where it seemed appropriate.

 

My family are all terrified that I am now on some government watch list.  Whatevs.  Maybe they can figure out who I am and report back.

 

A very few times on twitter, I have also been mistaken for a Canadian museum society.  Unfortunately, I do not speak or read French, so my potentially amusing responses really failed here.

 

The point is, I do not know what the hell I am doing.

I am not even clear on who I am.

 

Obviously, though, I am not a Pakistani elder statesman or a Canadian museum society.  So there’s that then.

THIS is what PTSD does.  This is what abuse does.

 Take good care of yourself and your neighbors.

Love, Ms. Herisme xo