All My Dirt.

I am randomly typpling (type babbling), yes, I know this… my personal Microsoft Word screen seriously could fuck me with all the secrets and truths it has seen at my hand, fuck it though…transparency is the new thing isn’t it?

I have given up my appearance altogether, I suppose…couldn’t tell you when the last time I looked in a mirror at myself…hmmmm…the possible causes behind this fact aren’t lost on me, either…
Something is happening inside of me again; although I couldn’t possibly describe any of what those “somethings” may actually be in the big picture of things; and I am not trying to find any way to describe it – there’s just a slew of mental data on upload at present; and my mental data down-link seems to be broken, too. There’s just a fuck-ton of shit coming in, and nothing moving aside to make room for it; if that even makes sense to anyone reading this.

Failure:
Failure is something has come to define my every moment of each passing day for me; it began slowly when Boo was put into “residential treatment” almost a decade ago and only snowballed from that point on. The many things that have subsequently gone horribly awry since then have accumulated into a vast and freezing cold tomb; each instance of my own perceived failings stacking up against the previous until the room shrinks. Failure has been something that I struggle with regularly, and I often lose the fight with it because of its overwhelming and constant presence. I go to a psychiatrist based on this failure (and its many facets and faces); he repeatedly instructs me to “just let it go”…
Abandonment:
Abandonment is another key element that is deeply embedded in my marred psychological profile; this element is born of my inability to “just let it go” when it came to my inter-personal relationships with parents during infancy and childhood (most notably a then ever-absent mother). It has mutated the human being that I was born as into a different version of who I might have been in a “healthy and/or intact family setting”; over time, it has warped my perception of others who I feel any closeness to – a mechanism of the emotionally fearful and unstable. I am extremely insecure inter-personally, and it only becomes an exacerbated symptom when I give two shits about the other person involved. I am afraid of people in general; not in a physically cowed way though…I am terrified of interacting with others because of the emotional traumas that inevitably attach themselves to each and every experience with closeness to another human being (or the socially mutated versions of one).

Truth:
Truth is another crucial piece of who I am from one moment to the next; it has come to burn in my veins like molten lava these days, and growing increasingly more important to every nano-thought in my head. Acceptance of truth is part of this element; and as painful as this aspect often is for me, in my own experiences, the truth carries weight that is undeniably addictive to my heart, spirit and mind somehow…
Perhaps after all, “the truth shall set me free”.

Teeter.

I have come to several understandings over these past few weeks while I have been MIA from my blog; I do not fully comprehend every element of every understanding I have found and tucked into a mental pocket – on the contrary, I have only been collecting these understandings to sort through on another day.
Boo was released from the hospital a week ago pending her next major surgery at Stanford (the one that focuses on the scar tissue building up at the base of her vocal chords and keeping from speaking on her own); she came home to my parents’ house because that’s where she wanted to go. My parents were gracious and forgiving enough to allow it (at the time that the decision was made, everyone was so desperate to keep Boo from returning to the track and many acceptations were made as a result of that desperation); it only took a matter of hours for Boo to begin to fall back into her old routines after being released from the hospital: wanting to go here or there on a whim, spending countless hours on my phone with any one of the stupid people she calls “friends”, being secretive and sneaky, dishonesty, shadiness, and eventually stealing again, too. My parents made her leave and I tried to let her come with me – but she proceeded to steal from Dice, my roommate right away. I can’t allow her to spread her affected instabilities to the realm of my ONLY safe haven; she had to leave my house as well.

She hasn’t changed; despite all of it, there isn’t even a slight shift into a more mature and/or personally responsible creature in regard to who Boo continues to be.

The thing that has driven the biggest and longest standing wedge between my daughter and me in more recent years has been BOO. Boo is 110% incapable of owning her faults, much less her personal actions…it is increasingly more impossible to try and reason with her at any given time because she has this obnoxious entitlement issue that causes her to fly off the handle defensively whenever she fucks up – which is often. As soon as she becomes aware that I’m onto her, or as soon as I call her out on anything shady or dishonest that she does, she blows up and leaves (especially now that she can play her “I’m eighteen” card). It’s always been this way though, even when she was very young – her best defense has always been a good offense. And she makes certain that by the time she’s ready to come back into one of our homes, we are so happy she’s alive and safe that one of us will bend and let her in.
I am sick of it. It is unhealthy. I see what it is doing to my parents again, mentally and spiritually and financially, and I can’t let it continue. The question now is:
How will I clarify myself on this issue for all to understand and perpetually respect? Is that even possible?
I will not allow my child to hold my family hostage through her outrageous behaviors anymore; things have changed for me since she turned eighteen, also, and it is a card that I can now play as well. But where is the line that defines dead and cold from wounded and bleeding out slowly in the snow? All that know for sure is that I will not spend a single year more of my own life in feeling as if my very existence is hinged upon Boo’s behavior and the things that her behaviors create in the lives of those around her. There was a point when it dawned on me: how her father continues to abuse me through her very actions…I escaped her father and have risen above his reach, such abuse cannot continue in any context.
At what point does it become okay to admit how unhealthy my own child has been to my own livelihood and how destructive she continues to be in the midst of the tiny village I have managed to construct and maintain in her absence?

Digestion.

At this very moment in time I am so overcome with love for Boo. There’s not a particular reason why besides that she’s my daughter. And despite it all, she’s so brave and so strong. Even if she has a complete lack of her own self-worth…she is beautiful.
My best friend Sam (more of a guardian angel the gods have blessed me with for whatever reason, I don’t ask questions) helped me to understand a key element of this nightmare situation a few weeks back…and yes its only barely setting in now.
She said,

“Babe, the Boo you are waiting for is not going to come back. She’s gone.”

Admittedly, this was NOT an easy conversation for me to digest; and luckily I have a best friend who understands my slow computation process; part of her likely expected me to explode at such a statement. But between me and my best friend, anything can be said without such lingering negative affect – and so the story goes. After my conversation with my best friend, I went through some different things: types of mourning, grief, and acceptance of a loss so deep that it cannot be treated or cured.
During all those trials and emotional roller-coasters, things continued to play out with the current situation surrounding Boo and her status, reinforcing the fears and sadness and loss. And then, something happened. The last time Boo was found unconscious and unresponsive – right before they gave her the first tracheotomy – my perspective and/or perception had shifted somehow.
Now, anytime I spend with Boo is different, but not in a bad way. I do somehow see her as a different girl from my own, yet, she is still my daughter. And, all I can do is try my best to be a good mother to the Boo before me today. She will not be the things I have been hoping to see her become…now at least, maybe never. But should the Boo I have today survive through this, there’s hope for a relationship with her, instead. Which is good enough for me.

More Letters to a Dead Man.

Dear Dead Man,
Perhaps I should have simply allowed you to do to our little girl, all that you did to me back then…maybe I should have been right in front of her every time you stomped me unconscious, sexually tormented my body, rearranged my facial features, gave me new temporary navy blue tattoos…
I guess after all the bullshit I endured to try and protect her from you and the effects of someone like you on another human being; it mattered not, in the end. If you were still alive and able, I would that you might find your way to where your now grown daughter has landed herself and let the wrath I lived with unleash itself amongst the animals who your little girl sees as worthy of her time and attention – worthy of her own life…one teetering so precariously on the ledge that it hurts my very spirit.
Where are those horrible back kicks, throat punches, jammed guns and fishing knives now Tough Guy?…when your own flesh and blood needs to be protected from guys just like you? After so much shit you spent your entire lifetime talking about protecting your daughters and how they’ll never have to be afraid of anyone…look at her now, you Fat-mouthed Dead Pig…she’s tenfold as bad off as I was at her age, when we were married…
I can almost even make the statement in honesty:
that you might have even somehow been a better creature than those who she has deemed worthy of herself…you might have managed to have a little teeny bit more humanity towards your victims…and, remember when I make this statement you useless fuck, that you cut my throat open in the end, when all was said and done…but you were somehow not as bad as the men who hurt my baby.

Dear Dead Man.

Dear dead terrorist man,
AKA: my ex-husband,
I wanted to confess to you,
your continued presence in my space,
a circumstance of Déjà vu,
black and blued our daughter’s face,
I thought you should hear it,
since you’re not here to have to,
look in her face,
with her eyes like a raccoon’s;
it’s only fair,
that you be,
burdened,
and bothered…
to learn,
what she’s again been through,
you still fucking linger,
in the carbon atom,
and well-hidden,
unbidden…
forgiven in an innocently executed ruse,
she has your eyes,
impossibly long lashes,
to bat away told lies,
you’re a Dead Man now,
no sweat left for your brow,
you’re gonna have to handle the truth;
you’re gonna have to know it,
hear it all, through and through…
I wish you were living,
can you believe I’d say so?
Just long enough,
to walk in all tough,
you like to think,
nobody,
can make your eyes blink,
but if you had to see,
if your eyes,
had to perceive,
such atrocity,
as our own,
smiling baby,
all full-grown,
and battered,
just like you battered me…
you’d die again.

Thoughts.

Theoretically, last night should have brought me the best sleep that I have had in some time, after hearing a jury’s guilty verdict of the man who ruined my daughter so long ago.
As I lay there in darkness with buds tightly squeezed into each ear playing Ben Bonetti’s “Hello Spider” meditational gig, I began to think about the Pedophile’s family (he has a wife and two children the same age as my own), and was overcome with grief.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen his wife various times in passing- on the news, and other places associated with the common denominator between us; there are ill feelings in the air during each of these instances, almost naturally. I have watched the Pedophile’s aged and decrepit mother hobble up and down three floors with her cane to trial so many times I couldn’t count them if I tried; I have seen the toll taken in the faces of his kids as they have become young adults, just like my own has; I have watched his family disintegrate into dust amidst the chaos of what he has done.
These things do not give me a sense of peace or fairness in any way…two shocked and completely torn children who stopped showing up at trial days altogether about halfway through…the jolly smile gradually fading altogether from his ancient, crippled mother’s face…the last string of hope attached to his poor wife’s perception of his innocence just falling away into nothingness…
the many scenes that would undoubtedly be enacted most dramatically for a movie; the parts in which the viewers would be pumping fists and shouting “Yeah! That’s what they get!”
But reality tells me differently now… “they” don’t deserve this at all. They have been victimized also (especially the kids) and have been also been permanently damaged and traumatized by the actions of their’ Pedophile father. His wife, who stood by her man for years before finally becoming so jaded and embittered by the proverbial “bag” that she was left to hold after her husband was arrested, she has been traumatized as well by the causes and effects of her husband’s Pedophilia; she has truly been changed in many ways by this circumstance – and I am not even someone who knows her, but it’s that apparent, even to a stranger, how heavy her burden weighs in on her back – it shows in her face, her disappointment and shame…and, that isn’t fair – she isn’t the Pedophile. Last night, I found myself wondering about her; about what she was doing in response to the news that lifted my spirits to new heights yesterday…what thoughts was she spending her night playing through her mind?
Anyway, I am obviously relieved beyond words that he has been convicted of many counts (not just Boo), but the verdict and its permanence holds many more facets to its shine that I had originally been prepared for, I guess.

Denominator.

I guess I just have it in my blood to trust the wrong people throughout my time on Earth amongst other human beings –or whatever you’d call those carbon-based, sets of bones with a thin layer of skin stretched tightly (or loosely) around each one, with seemingly emptied out, bobbling heads attached – I sure as Hell hate to call those things “people”.
I have mastered the unrewarding, often self-masochistic, pseudo-“art” of choosing the most shallow and self-absorbed individuals on whom to place importance and on whom to martyr my dwindling ability to trust. At some point in my life, I got to where I can no longer blame the vernacular beasts that I choose to surround myself with for such miserable incompatibility; sooner or later, I had to swallow the realities that I find consistently staring back at me through the eyes of my own reflection.
I eventually began to accept the fact that if I am incompatible with so “very, very many” of my own species, the likelihood of that incompatibility being born of the “shortcomings” of that group of “very many people” is low, if even in existence. I have truly realized and began to accept that I am the faulty common denominator in the countless equations of social arithmetic that I pathetically fail to wrap my thick head around – the continual negative sum in the mathematics of human behaviors and relationships – worthy or otherwise, I am the common denominator. PERIOD.

1421876244430-1Naturally, the majority of “relationships” that I can stake any claim to throughout my scarce and, undoubtedly warped experiences within the realm of human intimacy have each been notably unhealthy in at least one major aspect. I do not know what it looks or feels like to be in a healthy relationship with anyone in a romantic context. In spite of the insatiable hunger and longstanding desire I remember always harboring to have this elusive, healthy thing. At the end of the day when all’s said and done – I wouldn’t recognize a healthy relationship if it came up and bit me in the face…how could I recognize something I’ve never seen before? I have only misidentified the chances that I might have had in the past at healthiness in a committed relationship with someone; I have only mistreated the good standings I’ve had with men who may have been exceptional if I had given them a fighting chance. I just can’t trust the words that people choose to waste on me anymore, at all – not women, not men – not anyone – ever, in any circumstance. My issues behind the inability to foster commitment run so deeply entrenched at this stage of “the game” that I have truly started to question whether or not any amount of therapy, strenuous physical exercise, or exhausting mental stimulation by the opposite sex could ever actually change my perceptions back to what I think that they once must have been.
I do not know if I find this revelation a good one or a horribly life-altering one, either. I have been behaving so ambiguously the past few years in general, in all honesty. It’s been very strange to feel so indifferently over everything – another HUGE shift from the person that I used always like to think I was; Life’s formerly Technicolor scenery has been replaced by a drabber, grey-scale version of it. The white noise of my existence resembles the constant, bellowing rolls of thunder that accompany the bolts of constant lightning that crack like live wires of energy gone awry: a chaotic soundtrack that perfectly mirrors my psyche and syncs naturally with my soul. During nighttime the soundtrack only shifts into the noise of a low-volume baseball game’s announcers and noise.
I have not lived a perfect life by any means; I don’t claim to have, and I am also much too self-aware to dare try. I know that I have let many people down along the way to where I stand now in life, and death. I know that my combative spirit is NOT the ONLY reason why I have survived as long as I have; I realize that I hold no special title to the world’s shallow, robotic inhabitants, nor would I like to if given the chance to hold one:
…a bunch of fuck-heads…
People disgust me with their’ all-consuming need to rise in rank – to “ever-aim-higher” – to continuously yearn for what ISN’T in a given existence…bigger, stronger, faster – better and worth more money…
Me: I don’t have this parasitic social handicap I suppose; because I could honestly care less about having bullshit possessions that I can carry around and flaunt – to show off to my heartless “friends”. I do not count the monetary value of my possessions against my own cha-cha in the Universe; I don’t ever let my head fill entirely up with the environmentally poisonous, bullshit hot air.

MMMM MMMMM MMMMM.

MMMM MMMMM MMMMM.

I’d trade anything I own in a nano-second in exchange for some sort of true comfort that Boo could eternally call hers – that nobody and nothing could ever steal from her. The rest of the world and the bullshit happening in it just seem so insignificant and muted to me – while my daughter spirals downward into what should have been her future. Her eighteenth birthday quickly approaches now – in May…and I carry so much fear and dread as well as excitement and relief over her coming of age and being set free. I’ve only recently opened my fucking eyes and seen the striking similarities between Boo and I in regard to commitment issues, somehow…not sure what the fuck I have been paying attention to, but it’s like a metric fuck-ton of bricks from the top of the Empire Reality Building have crumbled and landed on my head, in terms of Boo’s shiftiness.
Basically, somehow I have managed to totally overlook the FACT that despite my painstaking efforts when she was a baby and her father and I were together still – to protect her from seeing things that he’d done to me, in a wide and creative array of ways, trust me – she still KNEW. She always knew. Even before she knew that she knew, or what it was that she knew – she knew. I’ve always known this deep down in my heart, for obvious reasons…but as with my former drug addiction during the same era of her life, there’s nothing I can do un-do any of it, so other than to simply try and persevere onward and upward from those past mistakes of mine – there’s little I’ve ever been able to process surrounding any of it. Of course, she and I have always had issues over her father’s sudden and permanent absence from her toddler-hood; she remembers him being there always and then one day just not ever being there again. In her perceptions however, she does not recollect the FACT that I also disappeared from her life at the same exact time as he did – only temporarily. All these years later as a full grown woman, I see the unacknowledged trauma that must have created for Boo, in itself. She doesn’t deal with it properly because she has somehow warped her perceptions into something other than what they actually were. She would tell you that her father “just up and left me and my mom one day…”, which anyone who knows anything about our story knows wasn’t even close to how shit went down. She hardly ever even talks about my absence/injury/hospitalization period at all – never has.
These thoughts of mine have me wondering things about why it seems to be so much more difficult to really get through to her about ANYTHING. I’m realizing that her entire perception of all things shared between our life experiences, together or separately, is contrasting to my own.

math_friends…which brings me back to my original point with this:

Who then, in these instances between Boo and me, is the common denominator?

It Is What It Is.

Last night, at around 8pm, my phone started ringing in my pocket; I was surprised to see Boo’s name brightly lighting up the screen through the dimness in my lap, playing the custom ringtone “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd loudly to the vibrating beat. It made so many wrong things feel right to talk to Boo on Christmas, last night…

It has been since our dog Ozzy died in late June, that we last spoke. Since we have seen one another, she had a birthday…our relationship truly couldn’t be any more estranged and alienated. The more time that passed by without any contact, the more guilt was stacking up behind each minute spent separated from each other like we have been forced to be. It’s been so, so long this way…inhumanely long. She writes to me often enough, robotic letters that hold no meaning – just words that she thinks she’s expected to write to her Mom at a given point in time. I admit, I have been withdrawn from her; which is inexcusable, so I won’t bother with coming up with any excuses behind this fact; it is what it is.

Last night, we talked for 37 minutes straight! This is by far the longest I can ever recall having a conversation with Boo (in person or on the phone) without some type of major drama or explosion on her part. We are typically like fire and water; and the older Boo grows, the less often have we been able to even remain in the same vicinity for very long without combustion. She is very different than I am, always has been. She thinks that I am a “goody-two-shoes” somehow; this is a truth that still just blows my mind. I’m not sure where she ever got that from, but that’s her perception of me. It is what it is. I think she is a disloyal and conniving, beautiful and intelligent little blonde, long-lashed, doe-eyed creature; who has unfortunately come to epitomize the poster child for the self-imposed cycle of traumatic experience; she wouldn’t even begin to know how to break down that label into anything that made any kind of sense, though…she barely reads. It is what it is.

We talked last night about all kinds of stuff that I wouldn’t have expected to talk about with her. She has decided that she’s gay again – which is a song and dance that she has played with me since she was thirteen years old – for a reaction that I can’t believe she hasn’t learned by now, she isn’t gonna get from me on that score. I always tell her without fail (and I mean it, too) that she can be with whoever she wants to be with and have my approval so long as it’s a healthy and somewhat “normal” relationship. I couldn’t give a shit if she’s gay. It is what it is.

We talked about her caseworker and how useless she is, which led to other conversations that got my blood boiling, as usual, in the context of that good for nothing, stinky bitch caseworker assigned to my daughter’s gig. Boo said, “I wish I could just get myself arrested somehow so I would get a probation officer, instead (of the caseworker)…”; a remark which at first made me cringe, until I remembered having once said the exact same words from a juvenile holding cell…damn…it is what it is.

That Way is ‘Up’.

2014-12-02_22.17.44It is December 5 today; 20 days away from the worst day of every year. In twenty days, I will spend another Christmas holiday alone, without anyone considered as family – without anyone who really cares one way or the other about the status of my presence – by 20 days from now, I will again be wishing for death, fast or slow.

All of the days leading up to that day will be filled with bad feelings and experiences, triggers and recollections that make me on edge and cranky as Hell; not a single day between then and today will leave me feeling even semi-complete, as I shop for gifts for the normal people in my life who celebrate the holidays like normal people – pretending.

All of the nights in between Christmas and last night will suck just as badly as the days, no rest for the wicked…or broken-hearted. I will dream of things that will never be and never could’ve been – wake up with that gut-empty feeling and feel afraid for three straight hours with each sunrise – never learning to put my finger on the source of these feelings to stop it, despite my frustrating efforts.

And Christmas Day, itself:

I will sleep as late as I can in an indentation at the edge of my cold bed – between it and the cold wall – I will force my tear-singed eyes to remain closed for as long as I possibly can because I won’t want to open them on that day, I promise. It feels as if the vicious cycle of my existence always gets close to erupting at this time of every year; everyone knows to leave me alone, everyone knows that there’s nothing they can do for me – there’s no solutions to offer or insight that’s worthy – everyone knows.

If I were stupid or lonely enough to expose myself to my extended family on that day, I’d regret it rather quickly; and eventually wind up saying something fucked up to a member of my own family in an over-anxious, depressed and defensive state, before storming out in tears. Been there, wrecked that. I call this entire song and dance “The Circle of Holiday Death” – it happens over and over and over and over. Each time that my heart, mind-state and blood pressure begin to “normalize” after the re-opened wounds, it’s Christmastime once again, and it all starts over.

People will ask me if I am okay until I will begin to respond with anger and irritability; they will not understand. Even my closest friends will avoid me because they simply CAN NOT offer me comfort in any way and they know this (the friends who have not already become totally overwhelmed by my reality and disappeared, altogether, that is).

I will seethe will anger at certain thoughts during this time of year: the people who have created this Living Hell for Boo being able to happily celebrate around a table with their own loved ones, their own precious children; my baby spending the day alone in a locked cage while being told that she’s unimportant and that everything that’s happened to her is her own fault.

IT HURTS ENOUGH TO MAKE ME DERANGED…

And through it all, I MUST keep my grip on composure; for I am NO good to the (Gods willing) older Boo if I end up in prison or dead before she turns 18. I do not plan on abandoning Boo ever again – – no matter how fucking bad it hurts me to follow through with. SHE NEEDS ME; even if she doesn’t know it yet. I have long been aware of the fact that I can’t undo whatever it was that did Boo; I can only build from where we stand, upwards. Our “relationship” is so far gone that I don’t feel as if it’s even possible for us to grow any further apart anymore.

So I guess there’s just one direction to go with it all, when it comes to Boo.

The Last Time.

Almost Like Me...Kinda(ish).

Almost Like Me…Kinda(ish).

It was almost a full year ago – the last time that I laid my eyes on my only child, my daughter…Boo.

I struggled not to fall apart the entire time that I was blessed by her physical presence that night; the circumstances were, as they tend to be when it comes to my daughter, next to unbearable for me…but I remember how grateful I strangely felt the whole time that she lay unconscious in my lap at the Emergency Room. I was quite dissociated during the entire holiday season last year (every year for the past six years); and when I found out that Boo had finagled her way into a “home pass” from the facility in which she is court-ordered to remain, out of state, high security and with no socializing included – I became even more detached as a means of cushioning myself emotionally from the inevitable train-wreck that I associated with the “home pass”. I somehow remember the last two times that I saw Boo so vividly and clearly, it stabs my belly to reflect upon either instance, though.

The last 10+ “home passes” that Boo has been given ended in catastrophe, and I am not exaggerating. It began even before they moved her out of state and out into the sticks (when she was still somewhat socialized from her former life with me in a family unit): the disappearing act; she has it down to a science, and always pretty much did. Boo can POOF! Be gone within the blink of an eye, before you even know what hit you, she’s off on another death-wish driven expedition that she may never return alive from. Boo has always been uncontrollable by nature, I don’t know how else to describe her – she’s explosive and impatient as Hell – she’s a chameleon, and has her mother’s total lack of attention span – she has no sense of Self at all, she just goes with the flow that will lead her to the most trouble and danger – unfortunately, that’s just Boo.

Last year’s “home pass” was no different: I picked her up at the airport on the 28th of December (close enough to Christmas for me to have actually been okay through the day without her on the 25th), she was gone by the 31st. She remained missing that time for nearly two full weeks with no word of her whereabouts or well-being…it was sheer Hell, fucking Hell. I wouldn’t wish that shit on my worst enemy, I swear. When they found her that time, she was in bad shape…bad, bad shape…wow. She ended up being involved in a serious sex trafficking bust and returned to the county where I live by the police to the hospital, from which she left again almost immediately – before I could even get there. Boo knows how to betray me better than any living soul that I know, even when she’s not trying to. This happened three consecutive times over the duration of the following month and a half: Boo missing for unreal amounts of time – my not knowing whether she was alive or dead – HELL.

The final time that they picked her up on a highway in the desert somewhere, half-naked and so fucked up on drugs that she didn’t know who or where she was, beaten and burned with cigarettes, two busted ankles – unconscious and dehydrated – was the last time that I saw her face. I went to the hospital at around 10pm and held her until the morning, at which time she had been deemed stable enough for transport out of state, back to the locked facility that the courts leave to her in to rot. She was hardly coherent for any of the time that I spent with her that night…in and out of delirium and on heavy duty painkillers…ankles both freshly plaster-cast, eyes both swollen closed. I saw cigarette burns all over her arms and shoulders and hands. My heart broke the rest of its way into two separate pieces that night; I know that much to be true. As much as the whole thing was terribly painful and trying on me to endure – I could only imagine what her process of endurance for these things must be; I remember thinking: “Just rub her hair and don’t let her be alone…”, so I did.