i’d rather you not know . . .

Eve covers herself and lowers her head in sham...

Eve covers herself and lowers her head in shame in Rodin’s sculpture “Eve after the Fall”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night we wrote with 14 women, each of whom had breathtakingly raw and honest things to say about who they were, have become. And, in keeping with the prompt, shared what they wish someone might see about them; as well as what they would prefer remain hidden. What follows is TD’s quickly-penned response to the full prompt: “what would you not want someone you respected but didn’t know well to perceive about you?”

There are things I’d rather you not know. It’s how it happened that’s shameful; and having these feelings crop up at just the thought of you finding out makes me want to run and hide. While you jump and shout about, stamping, your hand flailing, and I envision your voice getting louder as I start to shut down and your lips are no longer moving.

I feel selfish, too knowing you are my father and you were the one who watched me grow; and how would you of known, it was hidden so well.

Standing before you, I feel so awful and my own pain is just too much to try to even begin to feel; but watching your whole world crumble as the tears flow just makes this even more confusing.

I don’t want you to remember this, but we have really no choice. The things I didn’t want you to know came out. My only thoughts are: can you still love me the same; and are you still going to be here to support me? I’m scared to death to be alone a minute longer to all the hurt and shamefulness that’s been going on inside of me. There is a void within me that has shattered my perception of who I am and what it is I should be.

Sometimes I wonder if it was meant to happen, these things I keep within me. I’ve realized over time how to push the pain and fear deeper down, just for the sake of my own well-being. On the outside, I’m looking like the woman who’s reached her beauty; but inside is the killer. I’m all these mixed emotions, bottled up tightly, trying to figure out if I let out the true thing I feel within me, will you love me, accept me and fill me with your pride? Somewhere along the way, I got lost in others’ plans; but today, with your help, I can better begin to plan how to feel like a woman of self worth and confidence.

color blind and chainsmoking

Most of the time, we post words from the incarcerated women with whom we write inside Vermont’s prison. However, we also have a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers who accompany us.  [In fact, we just expanded our numbers through a recent training.] Last week we opened the circle with ‘My Father’s Neckties’ by Maxine Kumin in honor of Father’s Day. As so often happens, one line from that poem struck a close-to-home chord with one woman in the circle – our assistant that day. Here is her tender writing to the line,  “.. my color-blind chain-smoking father…”

Daddy was such a conundrum.  CEO of a successful company who arrived to board meetings in a mismatched madras suit, if allowed to dress himself.  Daddy, who always had either a cigarette, chainsaw, or beer in hand at all times when not at work.  My sad, depressed alcoholic father who used to sit on the stairs and weep, sad, so so drunk, as he listened to me playing the piano.  I was his last ditch effort at having a male heir to the throne.  Had I been a boy, I would have had his name and followed in his footsteps.  You are lucky to have been born a girl, he would slur late at night:  I would have been a bush pilot in Alaska if I could’ve.  And I kissed him on the forehead before he passed out, mumbling something about mom spending all of his hard-earned money.  He drank too much, took the boat out on the lake and slipped into those dark waters forever.  The phone rang and he was missing.  Gone; in an instant, fatherless. 

Except in my dreams, where he calls to say he is sorry he is caught on a business trip in Europe.  Or when I snowboard and see him in the crowds of skiers below the lift, or crowds in the airport.  He is always the same, perpetually 45, and handsome as ever, but it is never him.  27 years without a father, but never without love for him in my heart. 

– JP