Cleaning Out My Heart Rooms
There are a few more Sisterwives than you see here. Laura played a very large part in this blog coming to life. It is only fitting that she should be the first to post a submission here, although it doesn’t seem appropriate to refer to this as a guest post.
Laura is a part of our every day support group and, while we understand that she is busy working on other projects, she is with us….heart, mind, and soul. Her writing is exquisite, which you probably already know. If you don’t, you should.
Laura is, and will always be, a Sisterwife.
If I sit back and imagine the rooms of my heart, well, it’s not a pretty thing. I mean. There’s some scary shit in there. There are dark corners, locked doors, padlocked doors, triple padlocked doors…I mean, you’re not getting in some of those places. There aren’t Beware of Dog signs – there are Beware of Owner signs. Shoot, all my dog memories are pretty nice.
I like to open up my rooms.
I’m a writer, so I’ve found this way to open them up and start cleaning. I unpack a box at a time and when I’m done scraping away the dust and setting everything out pretty again, I’ve got a poem or a story sitting there all shiny and new and heavy with the weight of whatever darkness it’s now carrying.
Those are strong words. They heft the burdens. They make the pain in those places into something manageable.
My husband doesn’t write. I often wondered what he did with all those little rooms.
He was sitting across the dining room table from me when he told me about the time he was beaten with the metal head of a belt…about the blood that ran down his legs. I hurt so bad hearing it, I couldn’t finish my meal. He just told the story, empty of any embellishment, between bites of his food.
He was driving, as he usually does when we are going somewhere together. We had just found out that his father had died and we were on our way there to claim the body, when he told me the story about his father leaving him and his brother in a hotel room for four days. They were just children, terrified and alone, and hungry. Their father came back after a few days with a stripper he’d met and passed out on the couch. He told me about them going out for waffles later together and how good those waffles tasted after a few days of nothing but the crackers and cereal left in the hotel cabinets. Within the next hour, I watched him cry softly over the man who has failed to raise him.
We were lying in bed, his arm under my head so that my head was there across his chest. We’d been together for almost four years and our wedding date was fast approaching. The bedroom was pitch black and his breathing had steadied to the point that I thought he was asleep. His voice broke the silence suddenly, and he told me the story of the drunken man who hit his brother and how his neck had broken on the windshield, how he died before my husband could get there. When he finished, he rolled over and went to sleep and I stayed up half the night mourning a young man I never knew.
My husband had all these rooms and it bothered me that I felt he had no way to clean them out. Not like I did, at least.
Aren’t I so arrogant?
The whole time I was worrying over his rooms, he was opening the locks, emptying the boxes, giving me his stories.
Piece by hurtful piece.
Sure, they weren’t pretty poems or captivating prose. I take all my pain and wrap it up in the packaging of a writer. It makes it a bit easier to swallow.
I should know nothing about my husband is going to be easy. He gives me his stories, and finally, almost five years later, I started to write them for him.
He never asked me to. In fact, I was terrified he would be upset that I was doing it. The thing is, my heart has made rooms for him, and for his stories. I feel responsible for them. I have to clean them the way I know how.
I tried to explain that to him, to ease the blow up I was afraid would come when he found out that I was writing his stories.
“Do what you do…just remember, I was the good looking one,” he said.
Which reminds me of the only way we do have in common for this sort of cleansing…Inappropriate jokes and a lot of laughter.
I’m the liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, secular, outspoken feminist you were warned about.I haven’t traveled the world. In fact, I’ve never even been on an airplane. My upbringing has been a sheltered view in a static, rural town. But I’ve lived enough lives for twelve people. I’ve gone through stages of names, tearing them off like a badge on my shirt and replacing them just as easily. I’ve got battle scars.
I didn’t wage war against domestic abuse. My fight or flight kicked in and I ran. I hid, cowering and broken, and spent years trying to get the needle threaded, to stitch the holes in the patchwork quilt of my self-esteem. I never fought the demons of drug abuse and alcoholism. I spent weeks on my sofa, weak and thin, while my mother made me grilled cheese sandwiches and I tried to figure out if I wanted to live or get high.
I survived my teenage years, not by resilience, but by pure luck that my attempts to end it were never fruitful. I didn’t learn to love me until every man I’d chosen had managed to redefine “love” as some twisted, ugly thing. Loving myself was never pretty. I wasn’t the hero in my story, I was the human. And this human is writing that story and she’s got a hell of a lot to say.
Laura A. Lord is the founder of History of a Woman. She is the author of Wake Up a Woman, History of a Woman, The Telling, and Perjury. Lord has also authored a children’s book, The T-Rex That Ruined My Day. She is currently working on a collection of poetry about her hometown’s summer festival.
To connect with Laura, which we highly recommend, you can find herTwitter: @LauraAshleyLordInstagram: @historyofawomanBlog: historyofawoman.com