memories

All posts tagged memories

Above, Fading, Internal 

Published July 11, 2017 by Chloe Madison


This tree towers above the gravesites of my dad, grandmother, and grandfather. When my dad died, my mom had me climb that tree and put orchids and bromeliads up there in honor of my dad. The orchids didn’t last, but all those bromeliads are still there. For some reason, this makes me feel full of mixed negative emotions…not sure why. 

I made this for my dad when he was being decimated by cancer. The letters are shaky and messed up. For the first time ever, seeing this hanging in my mom’s house irritated and angered me.

I passed by this and was struck by how much it reminds me of myself- deformed, dejected, despondent, frumpy.

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Smiles… 

Published July 2, 2017 by Chloe Madison

I’ve spent the week with an old friend and several other families whom I don’t know. We were in an incredibly beautiful place and I feel so fortunate to have experienced that with them. I’m truly grateful. Here was my morning devotional spot for the last week:

Beautiful, huh? 🙂

Unfortunately, everyone was in hard core vacation mode, so most every single adult was perpetually inebriated and obnoxiously loud. I was annoyed within minutes with all these loud, drunk people I didn’t even know…and this lasted nearly a week. I never got to have any kind of a private discussion with my friend. I really needed that. It sucks- but what can you do? 
What’s good is that I got to spend time with her kids, who are wonderful! We had lots of fun conversations with several of us- myself, my friend, and 1-2 of her kids. The one person I got into a deep conversation with was her 16 year old son. We talked about his future and his motivation for why he wants to sacrifice himself and commit to serving others. He’s such an inspiration! I encouraged him to pursue what he felt called to do- even though his parents want him to pursue an entirely different path. I was in awe of his selflessness and his positive attitude toward life, helping others, and his future.  

My friend kept encouraging me to stop in and visit our old neighborhood. 

But I refused to stop in my hometown. I didn’t want to relive or be reminded of any negative memories. I know maybe seeing my childhood home might bring back some happy memories, but with things going the way they are, I didn’t trust that my mind wouldn’t go down a dark path or focus on just the detrimental experiences or memories from there. I mean, so many horrendous events occurred there!! I just didn’t want to go back.

I did, however, want to go visit the cemetery where my dad is. I wanted to tell him out loud, “I’m mad at you, Daddy!” But when I got there, I just couldn’t do it. I don’t know why I couldn’t say that. I thought it- then my eyes went straight to my grandma’s name on the tombstone and in my head, I said, “And I’m really mad at YOU, Grandma!!” But again, I couldn’t voice it. That was so disappointing to me- like I was so weak that I couldn’t stand up for myself or something. I’m not sure why that disappointed me so much. It’s not like they’d hear me. 

I blurred out some names and dates to protect the not so innocent.

I brushed off the tombstone and put a tiny bit of flowers. I didn’t know what to do with myself there. I left, started to drive off…then turned around and came back. I don’t know why. I wasn’t ready to leave, but didn’t know what to do when I stayed. 

As I was driving to the cemetery, I began reminiscing. I remember my mom catching me rummaging through her closet numerous times. She’d always ask me what I was looking for. I’d tell her “my adoption papers.” She would get so mad! 😂 I feel so guilty saying this, but I had always wanted different parents. Geez, I feel really terrible saying that. But it’s true. I had always fantasized that I had different parents- even as a child, I wished there was more out there for me. Is that selfish? Immature? Worldly? I’m not sure. I also remember fantasizing about running away (I only did that once in real life)- but I’d think I could take care of myself and my little brother better than my parents. I would even picture us homeless, living in a shack in a wooded area that we built out of scrap wood (like an old school tree house) and thinking that would just be the greatest, most liberating experience. I know…I was a weird kid. Still am. 

When saying good bye to my friend’s children, I accidentally told one of them that I’d never see them again. I was thinking it to myself as I was saying good bye, but I never meant to say it out loud. I immediately caught myself and acted like I was joking.

Smiles all around…everything’s just fine!  😣


Had to edit this post. I was in the wrong and it wasn’t fair for me to say some of the things I said. I am deeply sorry. 

Grooming

Published June 12, 2017 by Chloe Madison

Today I thought about some things that used to be special to me between my dad and I. On multiple different occasions he would take both my brother and I or sometimes just myself out to get ice cream. For whatever reason, he’d stop at Dairy Queen right before dinner and then make us promise to not tell our mom. I also remember that after he was diagnosed with cancer, he took me out of school early one day. We went fishing. I remember that day very clearly. I thought it was special that he was taking extra time to spend with me, knowing that his time was limited. There was a time before he got cancer that he took me to a local art shop- we looked at paintings and he showed me one that he had already picked out. It was a painting of a clown. He made a big deal out of the painting and of us going there. Because of that, I thought the painting must have been really expensive. He also made a big deal out of keeping it all secret- a special secret. I still have that painting. But I hate it now. Even though I hate it, I can’t let go of it because it’s the only thing I have that my dad gave me. 

It’s blurry because I zoomed in (it was in the background of an old photo) and a portion of it is blocked, but this is the actual clown painting.


Over a decade ago, I went to a counselor and received therapy. I told my therapist about the special, secret things my dad did for me. She shook her head and informed me that it’s part of “grooming.” 

I was devastated. 

I remember thinking that maybe she wasn’t entirely correct. That maybe just because my dad did something for me in secret, doesn’t necessarily mean it was grooming. But this revelation is what led me to despise that painting. I will never truly know my dad’s intentions. 

So today I was thinking about all of this. And with the new fact that my uncle was also a victim of my dad’s, I wondered if there was ever any grooming done by my dad toward my uncle. I don’t think I’ll ever know. 

The other thing I also thought about- was if I don’t make it through this…how many lives would be taken as a result of the actions of one person. 

It’s mind blowing. 

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Published March 9, 2017 by Chloe Madison

MacGyver. That’s mostly what I remember. One of my all time favorite TV shows as a little kid. I was about 10 years old and MacGyver was on TV. It had to be a rerun because it was really late at night. My dad was lying on the couch and I was sitting on the very end of the couch near his feet.

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All of the sudden, it began. He started telling me to do things and I blindly obeyed. I moved as slowly as I could, resisting the only way I knew how. I was in a sudden state of shock and confusion. I absolutely could NOT believe what was happening. I couldn’t believe that it was my own dad doing this. I was also incredibly bewildered and perturbed. I knew what was happening was wrong…didn’t I? I knew that what my neighbor did to me a year before was really, really wrong. That’s why I never told anyone. But now…my DAD???

Wait…maybe it wasn’t wrong.

No, no, no…it’s definitely wrong.

I was so confused and my mind raced back and forth about the morality of what was happening, how I could get out of the situation, and how to deal with the fact that it was my own dad this time.

It seems like it lasted forever. I remember twisting my neck to awkwardly stare at the TV, pretending like it wasn’t bothering me. I stared so hard at the TV. Just kept staring…didn’t even blink. It was the only place I could look. I started involuntarily trembling. It slowly got worse and worse. I kept my neck twisted toward the TV to the point that I was in pain. Shaking…then, the tears. I couldn’t stop shaking and I surely couldn’t stop the tears. I think (but I’m not sure) that’s what made him stop.

He coldly told me to go wash up. I did. I couldn’t scrub hard enough or use enough soap. I stayed in the bathroom a long time. I was afraid to come out, afraid that it might not be over yet. When I did get the courage to open the door, I darted into my room.

I can’t remember anything else. I could tell you that I cried myself to sleep that night, but I don’t remember. Honestly, I’m glad I don’t remember. I’ve prayed so many times that God would take these memories from me. He never does.

The next thing I remember is the next day. We were driving over to my grandma’s house. I can’t remember who was driving (it must have been my dad), but I remember sitting in the front seat, looking out the window. I remember hearing the words, “we don’t talk about things like that.” He was referring to the night before, essentially telling me not to tell anyone. I remember knowing that he was just trying to shut me up. I continued looking out the window and rolled my eyes.

Betrayal

Published February 14, 2017 by Chloe Madison

Memories are like that…like those chocolate chip cookies my grandma and I made…the cookies are your sweet memories and they’re sprinkled with bits of bitter darkness.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

What a great day to write about love. Or betrayal…

Don’t you just adore your grandmother? I adore mine. She was always one of my most favorite people on the face of this Earth. I have so many fond memories of her taking care of me when I was sick (and my mom had to work), us baking chocolate chip cookies from scratch, playing on her property…climbing trees and running around wreaking havoc. Sprinkled in with these great memories are a few bad ones as well. One incident occurred that caused a great rift between my uncle and I. (This is the same uncle that committed suicide.) My sweet, ol’ grandma had Alzheimer’s and entered a phase where she started wandering off. She was at my house with me (in da hood) and we were the only ones there. She suddenly took off, went out the door and down the street. I panicked because she was a little old, white lady in a very bad neighborhood. It wasn’t safe at all and this situation was not good. I ran after her, caught up with her, and begged and pleaded for her to come back inside the house. She kept walking and so did I. As a last resort, I even tried taking her purse from her, thinking that she would follow her purse. I was going to use it to entice her to turn around and head back to the house. It didn’t work. She became furious that I tried to take her purse and I quickly folded. So, this being before the time of cell phones, I left my grandma and raced back to the house to call my uncle for help. He was staying at her house about 4 miles away. I asked him to come help me, to drive her car to us and pick her up. Mind you, this is in the sweltering heat and humidity of South Florida, where people literally melt if they stay outside too long. Not only was I concerned that my sweet grandma was easy prey in da hood, but I also knew it wasn’t good for someone so old to get overheated. My uncle denied my request and we got into it. He refused to come get his mom and I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I yelled something at him on the phone- can’t remember what- and I hung up. I had to get back out there with her to protect her. If nothing else, I would be by her side. So, I raced back onto the street and ran my little heart out to catch up to her. We walked (at a slow old lady pace) for what seemed like hours. We were over halfway to her house when my uncle pulled up in her car and got her to get inside. He took off and left me standing there on the side of the road. I was relieved he finally decided to come help her, but I was still so furious at his cold initial refusal. And it didn’t help that he LEFT ME there! He left me in the middle of a terribly dangerous neighborhood where gun shots regularly rang out. I figured he must have been mad at me too. We didn’t speak for years after that…so many years, that I actually lost count.

So, this past Christmas, my mom and I had a heart to heart discussion about the past. She told me things I never knew and I did the same with her. One of the things she told me hurt me so badly that I refused to believe her. It’s been stewing in my brain for nearly two months now. My mom told me that my grandma knew that my dad sexually abused me and that she worked to keep it covered up. It looks like she was more concerned with keeping her son’s (my dad) reputation flawless than with making sure that her 9 year old granddaughter was OK. I was in such shock when my mom told me this that I couldn’t even fathom it being remotely true. Perhaps my mom picked up on my disbelief because she repeated it and then expanded on the situation. She said that somehow in the conversation, my grandma offered to pay for therapy down the line, if I would ever need it.

Ever NEED it?!? Ha! I sat back in the midst of being dumbfounded. I am f**king ready to kill myself over this sh*t and IF I ever needed help, my dead grandmother was supposed to be the one to pay for it. Thanks, grandma.

I’m still processing it all…I still wonder how true this really is. The fact that I distrust my mom and now, my dear sweet grandma… I just don’t even know what to think!

Tears are streaming down my face as I write this…as the betrayal of someone so precious to me sets in.

All my fond memories…are sh*t. If she was so ready to betray me…to cover up her granddaughter’s sexual abuse, to leave her granddaughter in silence, with no support, no nothing, then that means that everything we did together was a lie. It was probably just her guilty conscience trying to amend things. And that’s giving her too much credit.

I’m not going to lie. My family sucks. Nearly everyone passed away when I was little anyway, but the few family members I knew and interacted with sucked. It’s a good thing that my pastor just did his sermon on the topic of family last Sunday. I guess I need to try to cling more to my church as my family.

Matthew 12: 49-50

Ephesians 2:13-22

I can’t even think of a good way to end this…my mind is fractured and I’m trying to tend to the various pieces. I can say that I’ll never look at a chocolate chip cookie the same way again.