Musings on Addiction & Recovery

Abortion Tales


Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth like sweaty

skin against hot leather seats in August. 

The taste of last night’s indulgence blasted through

her senses as she worked to regain consciousness. 

Glancing at the clock, she saw that it was 4:00 am.

Soaked in sweat, sheer terror overcame her and rose

into her throat, almost  choking her. A wave of

questions; Where was she? Where was her car? How

did she get here? Why was she not sleeping in her

room? What had she done, said, and to whom? She

felt sick with the unknowing as she crawled out of the

bed, moving to the window to see if her car was

outside.   It was pitch black out, except for the street

lamp that radiated a golden glow over her front yard.  

Her car was in her parking space, where it was

supposed to to be.   She returned to her bed, thankful

that she was alone and hadn’t brought home a stray

man, and attempted to pull together the pieces of last

night. Her own self loathing prevented her from falling

back asleep, as she wrestled with her inner demons of

vile disgust, and a soul-sickness that had no cure. The

half-empty cup of wine on the bedside table remedied

the raw emotion long enough for her to drift back out

of consciousness. The sun rose in the window as she

once again folded herself back in to oblivion.

Venus in Color

Diary of an alcoholic

Girl Lost

The Soul- $295.00

Staring at Ceilings

September, 1982

September, 1982 Brad’s room was dark and cozy, like a cave, with

its stained cherry walls that sloped like an attic. It served as a

respite away from the hostile eyes of high school with its heavy

air of deprecating disdain. Brad’s room was an escape from the

everyday pains of life. He was the neon band aid that covered the

daily scratches that would wear away the rocks of her soul like

water on stones. At 14 years old, she didn’t have the capacity to

ponder deeper on this. Her pain was immense and the relief the

boy provided was impossible to ignore. Her old mind couldn’t

remember if she actually enjoyed the sex, or if the tenderness of

two bodies blending was conveniently mistaken for a warm hug

in an inhospitable world. Laying down on his bed as he entered

her, she stared up at the Motley Crue’s album cover, with the guy

in black leather lace-up pants shot from his navel down to his

upper thigh. When it was over, he would Smoke a joint and listen

to this album, as each sad, angsty song fused from one into the

next. Lost and moody as it spun towards the end of the album, the

needle beginning to jump on the vinyl. Sadness enveloped like

smoke from a bonfire that would follow her everywhere she went,

burning her retinas. Only a short time later, she would stare up at

the water-stained acoustic tiles of another ceiling, when her mom

took her to the gray brick building on Computer drive off of Six

forks Road. The lady who greeted her handed her a gown, but

really it was just a piece of blue paper that tied in the back. She

was allowed to keep on her bra and shirt, a yellow Burt's surf

shop tee that he had given her at the beach last summer on a

warm evening when the sand was starting to feel cool to the feet.

She slept in it and made it hers like all girls do with their

boyfriends t-shirts. She sat in a row of chairs along with the other

girls until it was her turn to go into the little room with the shade

drawn over the window that looked out over the gray pavement

of the parking lot. The steel bed was covered with a sterile blue

plastic cushion and rigid, unyielding paper pulled down over the

top that made a crinkling sound as she moved. Her feet sat

cradled in the cold metal stirrups as she lay on her back and

stared up at the ceiling tiles, old and brown with years and water

damage. She heard a voice telling her to relax as the long tube

was inserted into her cervix. She felt it expand as it went it, and

with it, the wave of cramps and the urge to vomit, and couldn’t

help but notice that the same feelings of emptiness were present

as any other time she found herself on her back. It would all be

over soon and there would be no more of the crippling nausea.

On the way home, they would pull into the drive-through burger

king. Her mom ordered all of the comfort food for her. A double

cheeseburger with ketchup, a large fry and a banana milkshake.

She would sleep the rest of the day. Brad eventually moved on to

someone else, and she had a string of different ones, each

promising comfort and love but always filling her with a feeling of

transience. And more of these procedures that promised relief

from the consequences of a pregnant body and a life with a

baby. She learned at a young age that her body was a form of

currency to use with boys to get the attention she ached for, even

if it was the wrong kind. Years later, her fiancé at the time, Rhett,

would bring home all of the left-over liquor when the bar he

owned would close. The booze was kept above the black glossy

refrigerator in a cabinet that she had to stand on a stool to reach

. The assortment, he said, was crap that no-one would ever drink.

Cheap Scotch and Ouzo. They had been living together in that

loft apartment overlooking the lake for almost a year by the time

she finished the last bottle and had the last abortion. Please don’t

misunderstand. The abortions were not birth control, but

moments from drunken evenings when they couldn’t fathom how

the sponge or diaphragm could possibly fail, and she could not

wrap her mind around the life she would have given to a child.

The only moment she was capable of living in was the one of the

present, and beyond that was nothing. She knew he wasn’t for

her during the one of her rare lucid moments as she sat on the

back porch staring out at the water on a mild, beginning of fall

afternoon, just as summer was yielding, and a cool breeze was in

the air. She had just come home from an abortion, and had not

had time to begin the daily drinking. The air was crisp, and so

were her thoughts, for once. This was where this journey for love

had found her? Empty and alone and more than a little broken.

She had no way of knowing at the time how unconditional love

would eventually heal her, from the the maturity and growth of

an expanding heart that is capable of love as a gift to be given

rather than received. It would be ten years later when she would

experience agape love, through the birth of her only child, her

daughter. She had so much to overcome first, and that would

come many sober years later.

Untitled photo

Diary of an alcoholic

                                              June 1979

The heat of the summer always reminded her of her dad. He would always appear

as the temperatures warmed, and by the time the leaves began to change, he was gone. He

came over that day in June, and hugged her as he wept on her shoulder. The day was warm,

 and the smell his cologne mixed with Pal Mal cigarettes and the rough feel of his beard

against her cheek was comforting in a confusing kind of way. She was 11 years old , and

smelled of summer sweat, chlorine, and Pepsi. He came to the home at Fairway Apartments

that she shared with her mother and her younger brother. He told her that he had given up on

finding a professorial job at one of the many local universities in here in tobacco country; the

triangle area that encompasses Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Since his divorce from her

mom and his subsequent move from Richmond, he had followed her mom, who insisted on

moving back home to be near her parents. He was the first person in his family to earn a

college degree and escape the cycle of poverty, and had left Durham and swore he would

never return. But return, he did. And he stayed for a year, to be near them, he said. He

whispered to her through tears that God had led him to Dallas, Texas, to teach at the

University of North Texas and Dallas Theological Seminary. This move meant she would see

him sporadically, mostly at Christmas and on Summer vacations. But her dad, being the

genius of the quick sell, painted a thrilling picture of what an amazing adventure this almost

cross-country drive this would be. She jumped at the chance to be included in his world, and

a few weeks later, they hopped into his 79’ blue Buick with no air conditioner and began their

journey across the country. The heat was suffocating, at around 104 degrees, and her legs,

clad in my cut-off Levi shorts, were completely stuck to the old blue vinyl of the bench seats.

She took photos with her brand new One-Step Polaroid camera of the Great Smokey

mountains as they passed through Tennessee, and burned with excitement of the signs

warning of the possibility of falling rocks. Her dad, the music lover, told her all about Buddy

Holly and Elvis Presley as they listened to Blue Suede Shoes and drove through Memphis,

windows down, his cigarette smoke softly lifting up and out through the window and into the

hazy, blue sky. He explained to her the difference between A hotel and a motel when they

pulled up to the Motel 6, just off of I-30. He gave gave a quarter to put in the machine on the

headboard of the bed to make it vibrate. The TV had only rainbow lines and a static noise

since it was after midnight, so she drifted off to sleep in anticipation of tomorrow’s journey.

Breakfast was Fritos and Funyuns out of the machine on the way to the car, as they set off for

another 12 hours. Dallas brought them country music as the landscape changed to flat, and

men in starched Wrangler jeans and cowboy hats appeared as foreign to her as actual aliens

from outer space. It also brought her Taco Bueno, her dad talking to her about Mexico as she

ate this sloppy thing called a burrito, swallowing it down with a Dr. Pepper. He showed her To

the Galleria, one of the glamorous malls of Dallas, Texas, and had stores like Saks 5th Ave and

Bloomingdales. She did not belong in this world, being a pre-teen in shorts and tee-shirts,

surrounded by the glamorous women of Dallas, with their big blonde hair and long red nails.

Her dad was woman-crazy, mom said, and he flirted with all of them at the cologne counters

that were scattered about Macy’s, repeating the same old lines to each one, as she stood

there bored and embarrassed. He slowed down only to remind her that if she didn’t start

watching what she ate, she would be sorry soon. No man wanted a fat girl. He took her to

Bloomingdales, and she felt like somebody as the overly made-up girl at the check-out

counter handed her a “Little Brown Bag”. She rode on his excitement and energy that week,

flying high on the newness of it all. He woke her up one morning at 2:00 am to go to IHOP for

cheesecake. As confused as she was, she loved his spontaneity . Their week together ended

the same way it had started. He leaned down and hugged her as he cried. The weight of his

emotion felt like a cement block , threatening to slam her into the shiny tiled floor. She turned

to get on the airplane, and the flight attendant attaching a little set of Eastern Airline wings to

her t-shirt. As the “big bird”, as her dad called it, lifted up and over Dallas, she marveled at

tiny houses stretched out across the board, with little blue swimming pools in each back yard.

She was lifted up and out of the sadness and confusion, with her ginger ale and pretzels, if

only for a few hours. September 2015 She went to visit his grave today. She and her husband,

and her 10 year old daughter. It’s in Durham, a place he wanted to never return, on a little

piece of muddy earth that appears to slide down into the street. She couldn’t believe he was

under her feet, and she wondered why humans devote all of this land to bury their dead. It

seemed like such an odd tradition, she mused. He didn’t even want to be buried. He had

confided in her , the way he often did, in his syrupy way that always seemed like bull shit, that

he wanted to be cremated. On the way home from the cemetery. we happened drove by an

old pre-war apartment complex and an odd sensation came over her as She looked at up the

large, wrought iron windows, that she had been there before. She was slammed with a

sudden rush of memory. This was the apartment her dad lived in that year before he moved

to Dallas, before they left on our trip together. One summer day years ago, it was her dad’s

weekend to have her and her brother. They were together, in that living room of those old

apartments with its hardwood floors and massive windows that let the sun shine in like a

glowing orb, reflecting off of the shiny floors and white walls. The sparseness of the place

made it seem spotlessly clean. He had an old blue sofa bed, and a big TV sitting on a tray, the

kind people used to call “TV trays”, because they would pull them up to the sofa and eat their

frozen dinners on them. The two siblings were fighting over the channels like two dogs

fighting over a tennis ball. The next thing she knew, her dad was storming through the room,

words coming from his mouth in a series that she couldn’t even comprehend. He was wearing

nothing but a pair of white boxer shorts, the TV in his arms, rabbit ears wrapped in aluminum

foil smashed to the floor. He called her mom, who immediately whisked the children up and

out of there, terrified. She would see him several more times before he died, never knowing

which dad would show. Returning to the present, she glance into the back seat at her 11 year

old daughter, and try to imagine what she would do if she saw her own dad pulI off such a

dramatic feat. She couldn’t She can’t imagine her feeling any of the burden and heaviness of

having to deal with the emotions put upon her by an adult. She had barely escaped that

reality for her daughter. But still, he was there, alone on that little hill. All of the other

tombstones were decorated with old photographs, flowers, balloons, little trinkets from loved

ones, while his was lonely and bare. She became aware of the little flower attached to her car

radio. It was a fake red daisy she bought at the Charlotte IKEA the week before and still had in

her car. She took it out and put it on his grave. It was the best she had, and while she didn’t

really want to go out of her way for him, the poor bastard needed something. She would

return one more time in her life. She didn't see the point in going back.

I Am Not The Art

1970's photobooth

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