Bird has a job.

I’ve been struggling all day with how I am going to break this story down and give it to you in short form. This weekend I went to the Bronx for my first official research trip. *trumpet blast*

It was a trip full of deep emotions and strong words. Words like;

Villain. Deliverance. Refract.

Other phrases followed me in the door as I arrived home. Like the scarves you tie to luggage to help you identify your belongings in a crowded baggage claim, they wafted off of handles and out of pockets.

The Land of Make Believe. Parallel lines.

Let’s begin this story with a new platitude that I feel very strongly could become the next big thing.

Nothing bad ever happens over a slice of pizza.

pizza

Like all other platitudes and positive affirmations, there’s exceptions to this rule but dang, don’t you agree that this should be a universal truth. If bad stuff happens, it should never happen over pizza.

Good friends make excellent mirrors. Jena & Me.
Good friends make excellent mirrors.

Over a slice of pizza, my friend Jena told me that she was shooting a wedding in New York and asked me if I’d like to come along. I said I’d check my calendar and see if I could swing it.

“I have to do some research there anyway.”

It took a few weeks of moving things around on the calendar but in the end, it worked out. I didn’t tell anyone I was going. If you know me, you know that there’s not often a thought that passes between my ears that I don’t blurt out.

I was nervous.

Technically, this was the first trip I had accidentally planned for the specific purpose of researching my father’s life. At the time, it seemed like a convenient, economical way to begin the process. Plus, I’d have the support of my friend to help me through any of the rougher spots.

Every idea seems like a good one at the time. (It was a good idea but we’re not at that part of the story today.)

After 15 hours of traveling, Jena and I approached the city in our rental car. She squealed, “Yaaay, we’re almost there.”

I sheepishly squealed back. Or maybe I said,“Baa…”

Nope. It was definitely a squeal.

Suddenly a tsunami sized wave of self-doubt came crashing into me. Hard. I felt a shortness of breath as I looked at the city stretching out around us for miles of darkness marked by sparkling lights. I was suddenly confronted with a very harsh and unrelenting interrogator.

Who do you think you are? You think you can just come into this city and ask questions? Who do you think you are that you deserve answers at all?

The voice in my head kept berating me and I slowly leaned over, put my head between my knees and started to do some deep breathing. I steadied myself and eventually, the voice quieted down a bit. At least it quieted to a volume that allowed me to hear my own thoughts.

The days that followed found me challenged. I asked questions that resulted in 3 different reactions.

  1. Here is your answer.
  2. You don’t want to know.
  3. I don’t remember.

And maybe there was one more.

4. You’ll never understand.

For the answers, I was grateful. For the rest, I was insistent. I tried to balance being respectful of a place in time many didn’t want to revisit and honoring my own right to know about my father.

In front of my Great-Aunt Catherine's apartment.
In front of my Great-Aunt Catherine’s apartment.

It felt like balancing on a tight rope at times. The tension in my own spirit was difficult to carry and the self-doubt kept revisiting me every time an answer was hard to extract. Always reminding me that I would never find the answers I was looking for. Always cajoling me to move on and let it go.

I cannot.

I was not my father’s only victim. I have known that for a while but I was not aware of the full story. I was able to hear more than I ever heard before. I was able to look into eyes, hold hands and drink in the energy in the room.

As a side note, that story only came to be known through my willingness to share my story. From that, there was a seeking of deliverance and healing.

Dear Self-doubt, Suck it.

I learned that they called my dad by the nickname, ‘Country.’ He came to the city by way of Anderson, North Carolina. He was a big, strong, country boy that people feared and loved. I saw the hospital where he was born. I met friends who knew him as a teenager. When I asked one friend about his gang life, he told me that my father was a villain but he loved him very much.

It lead us to have a conversation about how we all have a dark side. It made me think of all of the people in my life that I had loved regardless of serious character flaws. It made me wonder how his friends would feel if they knew what he did to me.

I didn’t tell them. I’m not sure why.

I think we all tend to think of good and evil as parallel lines. We think of them as living in a 3 dimensional space and never intersecting. But they do. They are as intertwined and inseparable as bones and flesh.

I am tired today. I’ve spent much of the weekend trying to do the opposite of what I want to do: shut down.

I’ve cooked healthy foods for myself. I’ve allowed myself to get completely sucked into mundane tasks. I’ve listened wholeheartedly to my children. I’ve been to yoga and gone on walks. I’ve returned to my blessed present.

I even watched a few movies and was hit by this phrase from Cold Mountain.

Bird has a job. Shit has a job. Seed has a job.

As I stood outside of the housing projects my father lived in, I listened to others talk about their experiences living there. I remembered how much my father wanted the lives of my brother and I to be better. He never wanted us to return to the place where he lived as a villain.

11147903_10203134145953987_9193105674401880192_o
Aunt Deborah & Me

He wanted us to live in a home where the Cosby’s were our role models. He wanted us to live in a community where drugs wouldn’t be involved in our daily interactions. He wanted us to speak properly and stand up straight. He wanted us to be educated and took us to museums we passed on road trips.

He gave us a good life amidst the evil he was doing in secret.

Shit had a job. 

On Sunday afternoon, I practiced yoga in the back of the class with 3 young survivors of sexual trauma and their parents and guardians. On their way out the door, I gave them new art sets and neon sparklers. I chose not to write them a note inside it. I left the pages blank in honor of their ability to tell their story in the way that they want to.

Like me.

Seed has a job.

After my travels were over, I said goodbye to my friends and sat on my couch. Other than to meet my basic needs, I didn’t get up again until that yoga class forced me up and out the door. I sat shell shocked watching episodes of Parenthood.

If you’ve ever seen that show, you probably already know that as far as a tool to wrench choked back tears from your body, that show is the top of the line. On a normal day, I cry at the end of every episode.

Seriously. The show has some tear inducing magic spell attached to it.

There’s always a sort of hangover effect that comes with doing this research. It’s like my heart gets locked up, my tears are frozen to the inside of my eyelids and I can feel my body twisting into the knots sailors must’ve used to keep their sails tied down in the worst of storms.

I have learned through this process that it’s my job to unlock, defrost and untie. It’s my job to unbind myself from any negative energy, any scary remnants of the past and any emotions waiting to be released in a safe space.

I sat on my couch and I waited to cry. It took an episode or two but sure enough, Max got into that really great school and I cried. Once the dam was broken, I jumped into the waters that rushed through. I was gone. Crying my eyes out and it felt good.

Bird has a job.11268367_1040474219326260_1577484150989361945_n

Sincerely,

signature1

 

 

 

The Girl Who Got Up

Everyone, I’ve been brooding.

It has not been pretty. It’s been days of unwashed hair, regular napping and whining about the things I need to do but haven’t actually done when I should really just admit that I have no intention of accomplishing anything more than this run on sentence.

In an advanced move of mental health, I decided that meditation was a step in the right direction.

I can’t even recall why, other than to say that I have been really working on creating a lovely start to my day. It’s a part of my regimen of self-love.

Oh. You don’t have one of those? Weird.

I work hard. As I am sure you do. I’ve noticed since the launch of The Firecracker Foundation I was born that I have an issue with riding the waves of adrenaline like it’s not a tsunami of disorganization, deprivation and denial. Dishes stack up, bills go unpaid, and relationships suffer because I have the gift of single focus.

If in the first semester of the year I came home with a low grade in a class (Math. It was always in math class.), I would spend the next grading period going to tutoring, studying, taking crazy good notes and not failing. To no one’s surprise but my own, that grade would go up and inevitably, other grades would go down.

Laser focus.

I can rock a set of blinders like no one else.download

On the exterior, things go very well. I meet goals and exceed expectations. I accomplish something I’ve set out to do. I let nothing stand in my way.

Nothing. Not a solid night of much needed sleep. Not a single plate of breakfast food. Not an hour to myself or a clean load of warm laundry. Not a fucking thing because who needs rest, sustenance and good hygiene?

Not a person who’s working on something so STOP INTERRUPTING ME!

If you haven’t noticed yet, this is going to be one of those posts that feels like a rant until about the end when my emotions cool off. If you are not comfortable in the inner sanctum of my brain, I would like to direct you to the upper right hand corner red X. That is your escape hatch. Bon Voyage!

I decided about a month ago to delve into militant self-care. Some may call this discipline and boundaries but I don’t like people who use bad language. I decided that I needed to learn to nurture my laser focus with compassion for my mind, body and spirit.

Things like reading for leisure, midday yoga and meditation.

(A point of personal clarification: Facebook doesn’t count, day drinking is not yoga and napping is not meditation)

I honed in on what I would consider a regimen of self-love for the thing I struggle with the most right now.

Mornings.

They are just the worst. I hate their sunshiny faces. I hate waking up and I hate being woken up. I don’t want to rush off anywhere. I want coffee in bed and a good book to read. I want to write. I want to cuddle. I want quiet.

All things I can have.

With the exception of not waking up – hopefully, because I would be dead if I didn’t – I can make all of these things happen. I can require more quiet in my home. I can have coffee in bed. I can read, write and cuddle with my little dog if I just acknowledge that I need to wake up a little earlier to have it.

I choose. Or not.

I mapped out my office hours and started counting down the hours I was giving to the foundation. I had set out with a goal of 30 hours per week and I was exceeding it by  a few hours every week. I have placed margins around my meetings for preparation and follow through.

I made choices that felt like risks.

If I don’t respond to my constantly dinging notifications, will I still be able to coax success out of the foundation. If I’m not always right there, in the thick of it all, will it still be okay? It comes down to a simple reflection of ego. Do I really believe that I have to be in control of it all and if I do, what does that say about the people who work with me?

There is a culture that I set out to create. Who better to lead by example than me?

My life has begun to resemble that of a quirky, professional adult and I dig it.

Annd then the shoe dropped. Suddenly, the meditation practice I had welcomed into my life began to start grating on me. It itched. I didn’t want to sit. I started avoiding the comfortable spot in the corner of my sectional. I started to let the time slip by. I was having a full on, physical and emotional reaction to the very idea of sitting still and breathing.

What. The. Fuck.

I started to panic. I am trying to accomplish something here. I need peace. Why won’t my body let me have it? What kind of shit is this? What kind of person has an allergic reaction to mediation?

10384660_10154555950065626_4027924760770639560_n

This person.

I started calling on the friends who knew something about meditation. Friends who teach yoga and meditation in their daily lives started getting messages from me like:

Hi there! I am having an allergic reaction to meditation. Is that a thing?

And then I went to therapy.

11046803_1000384706668545_8175881728527681963_o

I sat in a comfy chair and regaled my therapist with all of the amazing ways I was taking care of myself. I rambled on and on about how good I was feeling about it even if it wasn’t perfect. I shared that my handy meditation app reports I’ve meditated for 3.5 hours. Even though I didn’t do it every day and I didn’t have a perfect system down, I felt like I was making progress. I told her that I loved the quiet space I was carving out for myself when my boys weren’t home but I hadn’t found a perfect way to protect that peace when they came home.

My boys + Quiet = not a thing.

I then expressed my concern with the physical rejection I felt towards the meditation I had been enjoying. 3.5 hours worth of enjoyment and suddenly my body was all – this is dumb and I don’t want to do it anymore.

After some discussion, she asked me if I noticed how many times I’d used the phrase “not perfect”.

The discussion led me to a memory.

He used to knock me out of my chair. I would be sitting at the table eating dinner and then I wouldn’t be. I’d be on the floor. Sometimes the chair would land next to me and other times, the strike would come so fast the chair would sit unaffected by its loss of me. It was like one of those magic acts where the table cloth is pulled out from underneath all of the dishes with dramatic flare.

I would find myself on the floor with a stinging cheek and hurt pride. The table would be awkwardly silent. Violence has a funny way of inviting silence. I would slowly gather myself up on little legs, right my chair and sit back down at the table.

This time I would be better. This time I would stay focused on what mattered. This time I would chew with my mouth tightly closed and then I would be worthy to stay at the table.

But I would forget. My mind would dance around with the happy thoughts of the day or I’d get squirmy as 7 year olds do. I’d dig my fork into another bite only to find myself on the floor again with a stinging cheek and a fallen chair.

And I would get up again. Usually it only took two solid smacks out of my chair before I remembered that my mouth was meant to be closed.

After my father died, my mother took me to a dentist to have my teeth checked and I was diagnosed with a cross-bite and an overbite. It was a feat of physical control for me to close my mouth when I ate.

Single goddamned focus.

I was reminded by my therapist that meditation is creating new neurological pathways in a brain told a violently reinforced lesson: You are not worthy to sit at this table.

And every time I settle into my couch for meditation, it is the equivalent of me getting up off the floor and saying, “Yes, I fucking am.”

Love from the girl who got up,

PS – I’ll have more on what I’ve learned about mediation in my next Open Letter.

PPS – Click here to Vote for The Firecracker Foundation in the Big Bang-quet Challenge!

This is my difficult.

My grandmother approached the topic like an airplane coming in for a landing. She circled the point with a story about a talk show episode she’d seen. As I listened, I met a friend at the door and silently motioned for her to come in.

Fridays have become an experiment of accountability at my place.

I’ve created a writers group of sorts. I’ve set aside a large window of time and offered an open invitation to some friends that I deem “writerly”. I’ve promised free wifi, hot water for tea, coffee and at least one clean bathroom. Aside from the recent string of snow days to have hit the Torok household, it is going well. I use the time to write and when necessary, to do some research.

On this day, I had called my grandmother to ask her about who my father was. This month is all about building his personality profile.

  • Who did my family think he was?
  • What does it mean to be a pedophile vs. a perpetrator? Which was he?
  • Was I his only victim?
  • What did he like to do?
  • Where did he like to go?

You get it.

To tell a better story, to understand him, I need to think about who he was beyond my abuser.

Yes, to answer the questions rolling around in your head, this is creepy. No, it is not fun. Yes, I do think it’s necessary. My mother says my dad* is worried about me, which in our family is a sign that you may be going to far. I’ve added some #militantselfcare to my life and I’m okay.

Dad, if you’re reading this, I promise.

My grandmother told me that she had been watching Maury Povich the other day. Their was a little girl on the show talking about a man who touched her private area. I wasn’t sure where this was going and then she landed.

“I’ve never asked because I didn’t want to bring it up,” she said. ” But is that what your father did to you? Did he just touch you or what happened?”

This is what happened in my head.

giphy

Shit just got real. I turned on my heel to head upstairs and away from my guests. In that moment, I realized we’d never talked about this before. When I was 21 years old, I told her that my father had sexually abused me. Most people who knew me, knew this to be true but because of distance and a bit of a strain on our relationship since my father died, she didn’t know and neither did any of my father’s family.

If you were to ask me now, I would tell you that using terms like sexually abused or molested are correct and socially acceptable but they don’t define an experience. Those terms don’t tell the whole story. How could they?

When I was 21, I chose to tell my grandmother because I realized that I could never be fully me if she didn’t know. I realized that if I truly believed that the abuse was not my fault then I deserved to live shame free and in the truth.

CAN I LIVE?

Damn straight I can.

So sitting on my little stoop, sunning my legs, I nervously told her the truth. Only after she very directly told me to get on with it. She knew something terrible was on its way and she wanted me to let her face it head on.

Once the words tumbled out, she was sorry for me. She told me that she wished that she could have been there for me. There were probably more words that I can’t recall now and then I quickly got off the phone to escape the awkwardness of telling your father’s mother that he was a child molester. Because good times, am I right?

Now she asked for the details and I found myself saying, “Grandma, he raped me. Often and repeatedly.”

She said, “Didn’t he hurt you? How could that have happened? Weren’t you such a little girl?”

“Yes, grandma. I was six. The only thing I can say is that it must’ve happened so often that it didn’t hurt anymore. I think it probably started happening before I could remember.”

I was reporting. These were facts. The hard kind but the kind I know as my past. This is my story and I am, not comfortable but accustomed to the truth of it.

She is not. This was the first time she’d heard it. These truths were landing around her for the first time and I could almost hear them shatter as they hit her skin and fell to the ground. There was the sound of anger and pain in her voice.

“He would have gone to jail,” she raged. “Grandma would’ve seen to it.”

And it was those words, spoken to me as if I were still a little girl that broke my heart again.

Just this week, I spoke to a class of sociology students at Michigan State University and one of them asked me if I had forgiven my father. This topic comes up a lot. We know that forgiveness can offer healing. We are told that it is about you not the person who hurt you. I believe those things to be true.

However, painful, brokenhearted moments like this one is why I also believe that forgiveness is not a one act play. It’s a long running series. Forgiveness is kind of like the never-ending run of those tragic daytime soap operas that we have only recently given up.

Unless you have the Soap Opera Network. In which case, #neverforget.

Forgiveness for me has had to be approached with the acceptance that it is a process for repeated, long term injuries.

When my children offer to include my father in the list of the dead they want to pray for, forgiveness prevents me from screaming that he doesn’t deserve their prayers. It allows me to sit back and recognize that if there’s any one soul in need of prayer in the afterlife, it’s probably my father’s. I can’t imagine there’s much peace or rest for him.

Forgiveness is not pity or absolution. It does not mean there are no consequences. It just means that I forgive. Rage, sorrow, relief – everything else is still on the table.

Grandma, cannot see to anything in the past. I can tell you that her assurances that she would have seen to it if given the opportunity, spoke such kindness to the little girl in me. There’s some comfort in the idea of my grandmother pursuing justice on my behalf.

I never imagined that she would choose me over her son. Before I told her my story, it was the burden that weighed the heaviest on my heart.

Why would my father’s family trust me? Why would they choose me?

As we begin to end our phone call, I headed down the stairs and towards my friends.

“You call me anytime. I know that what happened was horrible but I love you. Please don’t shut me out.”

And there is the answer to it all.

The answer to who I am, how I have survived and why anyone would believe me. The answer to why I do what I do and go where I go is in those words.

I am tremendously loved.

I have called her anytime. I have chosen not to shut her out. I have chosen to pull the tentacles of darkness that have seeped from my father’s legacy out of the relationship that I have with his family because to forget him, I have to forget them. That would be my easy. To remember him, is to remember where he came from. That is my difficult.

“Goodbye, Grandma. I won’t. I love you.”

I sat down at my desk, turned to my friends and said, “Guys. My grandmother just asked me what happened for the first time.”

Stunned I murmured, “I guess I’m not the only one asking the difficult questions around here.”10996165_10153101408618588_3173392778831113365_n

Sincerely,

PS – I know I opened lots of room for discussion in this one. It’s only going to get deeper. Hit me up in the comments.

* For clarity here, I will admit that the man I call dad now is my stepfather. He will hate reading this. (Hi dad. I know I’m your baby girl. Pretend like you didn’t see this!)

Dear love, favor me.

Good afternoon Ms. Torok,

I don’t always have success when searching our archives, but was able to locate your father’s obituary. It published Oct. 18, 1988 and I have attached a screen shot of the page. I hope this helps.

My father’s funeral was on a Wednesday afternoon. I didn’t know that. This is not exactly headline news but I enjoy the details. Our family greeted visitors between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. After nap time but before dinner. I wonder if that was a consideration.

 

He was addressed as Sgt. and I was called Tashmica. That seems formal for a time when everyone called me ‘Tasha’. A little girl nickname for a little girl.
 
There’s more. Names I recognize and a few that I don’t. The name of the jump school where he died. The information about military services performed and by whom.

 
Every sentence, a snapshot of our lives at the time.
 
I didn’t think I would be able to get this information. I don’t know if you guys know this but, it is now the year 2015. Why in the world do they even keep this stuff?
 
Answer: People like me.
 
People who make the phone calls to ask the questions that may lead people to laugh at your foolishness. Turns out, no one laughed. Not the obituary staffer and not the funeral home representative.
 
They went to work. They did some research and now I have more answers that inspire even more questions. As a matter of fact, I have strong indications that a gentlemen may be searching a secondary location’s files to help me answer questions I never mentioned to him.
 
Curiosity. Gratitude. Progress.
 
Although I am a little disappointed that I won’t live up to the romantic image of visiting some library basement and sifting through microfiche to find clues about who my father was.
 

Oct. 18, 1988 pg 2 clip

 
I am processing the information. I’m thinking about the leaves in October and the dirt road that led us from my grandmother’s house to the funeral home. I’m hearing the gun salute that shook my mother into tears and the flag folded in her lap. I am also wondering how many other clues will be so easily uncovered.
 
“Love, like Fortune, favours the bold.”
E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly
 
Dear love, favor me.
 

 

 PS – New mantra: Your addiction of choice is boldness.

 

I don’ run clean outta January.

I drank a glass of warm, red wine while I folded laundry tonight. I slowly folded and stacked the clean clothes waiting in baskets all around me while watching The Fall on Netflix.

This boring and uneventful update has been brought to you by a cycle of breakdown and rebirth. January. I’ve heard others calling this time, January.

This month brought me the loss of my beautiful boy, Charlie, the end to my regular roller derby habit and a move out of my current office space.
image

While all of these decisions and a few more less important ones were being made (or made for me), I was also embarking on a period of research about my father’s death and funeral.

If you want to see a control freak flinch, change something.

This is me: flinching.

I carefully weighed my priorities. I sliced and diced until I found wider margins. I felt at peace as I let go of what I did not want. I made room for what I wanted more.

image

Although I am content with my decisions, I feel unsettled.

I loved deeply those things I lost or chose to sacrifice.

image

This week, my foundation scheduled therapy sessions for a seventh child survivor of sexual trauma. I’m still rehearsing for the Vagina Monologues.

image
Shameless plug. #sorrynotsorry

Today, I added two thousand words to my memoir and spent the rest of the day mentally reordering my words. My house is clean(ish) and I have room to breath.

This is good.

This is the moment where you ask me if I’m trying to convince you or me.

Maybe both of us.

I have a good, whole life. A life where I am privileged to pursue my dreams within relationships that hold more magic than practicality.image

Welcome, February. Come on in.

January. I’m done with you.

Bye, Felicia.

I am a dream.

Today I told my therapist something I’ve never shared with anyone.

I didn’t even tell her that I’d never told anyone. I just left the information there. I stepped over it like a crack in the sidewalk. I hugged my therapist and she kissed me on the cheek. Before I could let her go, she turned her head and whispered into my ear, “I am so sorry.”

The pain sunk in. It sat in my stomach, crept into my body and filled me with exhaustion. I thanked her wholeheartedly, paid my bill and left. Climbing into my car, I paused and then I didn’t move. I just sat there buckled into the seat and breathing. I looked at my phone and tried to think who I should call.

This was not a panic attack. I wasn’t crying. There was no emergency. I was just in pain.

Just. 

Right.

Just a little pain. 

As I mentioned last time, I’ve been taking notice of my memories of my father’s funeral. I’ve been trying to nail down the timeline and remember who was there. Part of this process is like time travel. Or maybe it’s more like a possession.

I sit down and I ask my 8 year old self what it was like.

What was it like to stand over your father’s body? What did it feel like?

I sink my mind into my little self and I open my eyes. I look around. I sniff the air and feel the weight of my feet on that thick, funeral home carpet. I remember the kiss on my father’s cold cheek and the delicate white rose I was given for my grandmother. I remember the things that were stolen.

Today, I admitted something. That’s what it felt like; an admission. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed and the secret made me want to curl into a ball and disappear. I came home nauseous and nearly lost my dinner.

I rarely vomit. I’m not exaggerating. I have a very strong stomach. This tidbit is to explain to you that I don’t do this. I don’t get sick from memories. This one, this horror I lived came back swinging knives.

It was the kind of moment that made me want to get into a bathtub with a large cheese pizza and a six pack of beer.

I decided who to call. Somehow, it was decided for me. I looked down at my phone and my keypad came up with a name. The right name. The person who would ask me a simple question: “If you were the friend of that little girl and she told you the same story, what would you do for her.”

I answered:
Tell her I love her.
Give her a big hug.
Buy her an ice cream cone.
Make sure she has everything she needs to heal.
Give her a nap.

I later added a bubble bath and a glass of wine because I’m an adult and the boss of myself. #amiright

I am still in pain. As I write this, my body is still in turmoil. Trauma is a formidable, haunting beast. This has been a rough night but I’ve spent it huddled up with my beloveds. I looked at them and celebrated that if my father was a nightmare (and he was), I am a dream.

Every day my planner prompts me to finish the statement ‘I am grateful for…’.

Today I am grateful for the fact that monsters can give life to Firecrackers.

Ever defiant,

Inconvenient.

I have a plan.

It’s a loose one with one end result in mind: 2015 is the year I finish my book.

Making goals is so scary. Once I say it, then I feel like it’s a matter of pride. My name is now Inigo Montoya and I have made an oath. I don’t know about you but Inigo and I take our oaths very seriously.

Don’t fret. No one needs to die in the process.

Over the course of last year, my writing stalled. I wasn’t sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I was building my dream nonprofit, skating and being a family lady. Not necessarily in that order.

It wasn’t just that I was busy. It was also that I am a master of the art of avoidance. It’s a gift that I have perfected by binge watching netflix and scrolling endlessly down my Facebook newsfeed. If you need lessons, holla!

It wasn’t the writing I was avoiding. As 2014 wound down, I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I hoped to achieve in 2015 and what obstacles seem to  be tripping me up the most.

I, Tashmica Torok, am afraid of being an inconvenience.

As I sift through my childhood memories, I am left with a pile of questions. I have these dots that are vivid but nothing to connect them. They’re each floating without a number and members of my family who were adults at the time are the only ones who know the order of things.

I have to ask questions.

I have to be a bother. I have to make phone calls and remind the people I love that my father was not who he said he was. To get the answers I need, I’ll be pulling the bones of betrayal from the skeleton in the closet.

I’ll be risking secondary trauma for myself and for those I love. Even if I recommend that everyone go see a therapist (PRONTO!), I cannot enforce that they do. And still, I will be there with my questions.

I have this need. It’s been pulling at the hem of my sweater for years. It’s a question with an elusive answer.

How did my father sexually abuse me for so long and no one ever noticed?

This may appear to be a question intent on shifting blame. It is not. It is not about blame. It is about understanding because this story – my story – is not unique. My family’s inability to see the symptoms and diagnose the disease is not their inability alone.

It is a significant blindness that effects the human race globally.

Maybe my story will help lift the veil. Maybe it will help other survivors heal. Maybe it will help family members of survivors understand trauma so that they can be a better support system.

Or maybe, somewhere in my spirit, there is a need to write the little girl that I was a love note that says – I noticed.

As of today, I am giving myself permission to be a total bummer. I am allowing myself to inconvenience a few people. I am devoted to drawing lines to create a fuller picture of the consequences of my father’s actions.

I’ll likely be using this space to track my progress. If this is boring to you, I’m so sorry for the inconvenience.

Except I’m not.

Tonight I listed my cast of characters and printed off what I’ve written so far. Every month, I intend to tackle one vivid memory for investigation. This month, I’m thinking about my father’s funeral.

The ultimate equalizer – death. The moment when I realized that he was gone but his secret remained in my 8-year-old hands. Mourning is meant to be done in community and instead I felt isolated with the burden of one man’s reputation. What an incredibly cruel legacy.

As I’m asking questions, I invite you to comment with your own. I’d love to hear your thoughts. At the end of the year, I hope to have a powerful collection of stories to offer.

This is my plan.

You, dear reader, are now my accidental accountability partner.

I feel like I should offer you swag or something. 10421337_10152916021378588_1898813583640583186_n

Inconveniently,

 

 

 

PS – Don’t forget to check out this new way to connect. Totally personal. Just for you.