healing

Me & My Pussy

As a young teenager, my playmate was my grandfather, my mother’s stepfather, who came to live with us when my grandmother died.  He lived in the basement of our chalet on the pond, a house that my dad and his friend Reme built so that we could all finally live together.  The “we” had not included my grandfather at the time of the building but one of those times when Grammy called drunk and said she was dying, it was true.  She did.  And so my parents made a bedroom and a living room and a bathroom downstairs that belonged to Grampa   

He worked at my high school as a janitor and drank the rest of the time.  

At first, when we found out he was coming to live with us, I was happy.  I loved him as long as I remembered.  He’d treated me kindly, bought me candy, took me to the beach and let me ride with him in his tractor trailer truck.  I felt special with him and, with the exception of accepting money from Tommy Lombard for the baseball of mine he whacked out of the yard and lost (we don’t need other people’s money, his face red and disapproving) I’d never made him angry.  He and my grandmother were kind to me.  And they were fun as in we did not have a bedtime with them and we could basically eat whatever we wanted and we could swim even if we had just eaten.  They fought a lot with each other but it did not seem to make a difference in how they were with me.

After my grandmother died, he stopped driving a truck.  I think something may have happened involving him and drinking and his rig but I can’t be sure.  I just know that he showed up at our house in Vermont without it and started the cleaning job shortly after.  And we started going to the drive in.

All of this is a lead up to tell you that he became a pussy grabber and I became a drunk.  I also became ashamed of myself and my pussy.  And my grandfather.  

He eventually found another woman and moved away to live with her.  Some years later he developed a palsy that lived primarily in the left side of his face.  I drove to New Hampshire to visit him but while I tried to carry on a conversation it was nearly impossible for me to feel him actually being there.  Dirty drool leaked from the left corner of his mouth, leaving a shiny path along the crack down his chin.  He asked me to sit by him and as much as I didn’t want to, I did it.  He reached his mottled hand to my knee and, while I do not doubt he simply meant to rest it there, I seized up on the inside and do not remember the rest of the visit.  I did not go back to see him again before he died and when I heard he was gone, I felt nothing.

And that’s the thing about pussy grabbers.  They’re only powerful in that they make us feel bad about ourselves and nothing for them.  I had loved him for his kindness and generosity and his happy red face and his big truck.  In the end he meant nothing to me and I had a lot of work to do to find what I meant to myself.          

 

Enough by Kristin MacKenzie

When I was ten years old, my parents divorced and I and my siblings spent the next year living with my grandparents on the farm with our cousins. All five of us slept in a newly built addition on an unheated second floor, three bedrooms and a long, drafty attic where my eldest cousin slept in a space of her own; the boys had one room and my sister and I shared another. The third room was reserved for my uncle who visited frequently. The main house below was the old, original structure: kitchen, bathroom, master bedroom and furnace room with a covered porch connected to it where the woodpile was kept. Broken windowpanes let the wind in and bark covered the floor around the carefully stacked firewood, but the furnace room door was strong and thick and the warmth of the big black stove kept the cold away. The hallway outside the furnace room and the bathroom that opened up off of it were the warmest places in the house, but dark, and I, at ten, was still afraid of the dark. When Christmas came, my mother brought her new boyfriend to stay for the holiday, making their bed in the living room on the fold-up sofa. He was in construction and had wide rough hands and barrel-chest, a beard and balding head. Before dinner dishes were washed and bedtime stories were read, I’d felt his hands more than once, resting on my shoulders and sliding down my back, heavy and insistent. I went to bed feeling sick and uneasy and woke in the middle of the night, needing the bathroom and dreading the dark. Go by yourself,” my sister hissed from under the covers on her side of the room when I woke her, asking for help. She turned back over, falling to sleep again immediately but the pressure on my bladder wouldn’t allow me to do the same. I know I counted the wooden stairs under my feet as I made my way in the dark, thirteen steps and the last one onto the carpeted floor and into the narrow passage through the kitchen. There was no nightlight to mark the way to the bathroom, and no sounds from the rest of the house. I know the dark there was warm, but I don’t remember that. I remember hands from behind. I remember the feeling of wind and the broken quality of light through the windowpanes of the covered porch. But that’s all. I woke up with my pink Sleeping Beauty pajamas, buttons up the back, fastened wrong, gapping, and a pain between my legs. When I saw my mother’s boyfriend standing next to the table, watching me, my legs started to shake and my stomach wanted to empty out, even though there was nothing in it yet. By the next day, when I went to the bathroom it felt like fire coming out, more pain that made little sense to me. I tried to explain to my mother, to my grandma, but there wasn’t anything I could explain. Just dark and cold and hands I didn’t see coming and pain that was beginning to feel shameful the more I tried to explain and to ask my own questions. There still aren’t any answers. When the same thing happened five years later with another boyfriend over another holiday weekend, more darkness and pain and confusion, I stopped explaining and left home, moving across the state to live with my cousins again in a home where no boyfriends visited. I don’t know what to call my experiences and likely won’t ever fully understand why my mind has them locked up where I can’t reach them but I’ve found a peace with what I can’t know about those nights. I know who I am and how to find warmth and safety and the kind of love that doesn’t press down on me or fragment my memories. And for now, this is enough.