Would you like your coffee here, or there? Would you like to have it, with some flair? Would you like it in a cup? C’mon Sailor, bottoms Up! Oooh! Bottoms… blush… Would you like your wench, to serve, your cuppa Joe with a lil’ swerve? Would you like it with a wink of her eye? Would you like it, with some (bacon) pie? Aaah! Pie… tee hee… Would you like it with some ‘spice’? Or should I add a little ice? I could oblige your salty, here, or there, I can accommodate you, anywhere! Oh! Even there…? wink… Would you like your coffee on your boat? Though from this lake we cannot float, there. We’ll just have it, in my lair, sorry ‘bout that curly hair! OhMy! Good morning Sailor ;) Writing and Images: All Rights Reserved.
I (re)bid farewell to a Sailor,
then I stacked wood and cried.
I was tempted to talk to a Sailor,
so I swept the deck and cried.
I pined for the touch of a Sailor,
but remembered my heart and cried.
I ached for the wit’n winks of a Sailor,
so I ran the stairs and cried.
I re-read fond words from a Sailor,
wanted to burn them and cried, cause they’re in my damn phone and lappy!
I remembered the ‘delete’ features of modern technology,
smiled wistfully at self and realized holy shit I’m a grown up,
And then I laughed and laughed,
‘cause it’s all such a fucking ride!
There is something so much less satisfying about a more grown up perspective to romance, love, sex and knowing more about how we work, and don’t. Acting in my own best interest, despite the requisite pangs I know it brings is sad, because there is something a little more self-righteously gratifying, in the immediate discomfort of the moment, to childishly expounding on another’s un-virtuous behaviour, than in owning one’s own. Knowing, accepting, that I went into something that probably wouldn’t work for me over the longer term, but being willing to have a go anyway, eyes truly wide open, is so damned mature, that I’m angry about it because it takes away the previously noted gratification of stomping my (fifty)six-year old feet. Someday, other than this one, I will publish the (for real) ‘Dear John’ letter (yeah, I did that) and other correspondence associated with this most grown up parting of ways, for it holds all kinds of ‘interesting’ in relation to the psychology of love and the human folly of romance, but for now;
Against all odds and my own attempts at not, I am Adulting today. Who fucking knew?
Momentarily dry-eyed and temporarily in my right mind,
~Marcela: maturely unfiltered.
Photos and writing: All Rights Reserved
This is not a pretty story; you should know that up front.
Have you seen that meme floating around out there, the ‘Unfuckwithable’ one? A number of folks who love and/or profess to know me have sent it my way since it first made its appearance in our social media worlds, but I receive it most during times of personal human struggle. It is always intended as a compliment of course, and to remind me of how ‘strong’ I am. I appreciate and know the intent, but as a rule, I do not allow it on my social media timelines/feeds/profiles, for I cannot buy in.
My friends, my family, the folks I serve in my social-worky worlds, other professionals, often call me things like Warrior Woman, Rebel, Superhero, even, and I repeat: I appreciate and know the intent, but it has all sat rather un-well with me, for a good long while now.
All of those same folks are the most diverse group of people you ever want to meet, and for all their diversity and difference, they have two things in common in regard to who they think I am. 1) most of them believe I was/am, in many ways Unfuckwithable, and 2) they could not be more wrong.
I have always known it to be a fallacy. For a never-give-up mindset, plain old attitude, an indelible will to survive, thrive, make lemonade out of those proverbial life-lemons, and Unfuckwithable, are not even remotely related, at least not to my mind, and not to my heart. My attempts to live up to the other-created image known as Unfuckwithable came with a very dear price; a 3 year odyssey which cost every last shred of self-esteem I have worked to build over decades, every penny in my bank account, and damage to every relationship I hold dear. It harmed me in a way that very few other experiences ever have, which speaks volumes given I have lived a life fraught with lemons the size of tanks, literally with the tanks, and metaphorically speaking. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a very long time ago that we do not live in a benign world, and this is not about whining, and it is not a poor-me story.
The odyssey of which I speak is to date, the thing that has hurt me most, changed me most, jaded me most, aged me most, and grown me up most. And in keeping with my contradictory self, it is the thing that has led me back to the amazing kid inside me, the one who has always grasped the value of contrary stances: wisdom and innocence, knowledge and naiveté, normal and crazy, intelligence and ditz, boxed and creativity, power and fragility, even love and hate. I’ve never really let go of that kid, but too often I have hidden the ‘real’ her from view in an effort to live up to a lie. A lie that sounds and looks good on the outside, but is damaging beyond words to my inside, and quite likely, a great many other ‘strong’ women, just like me.
Let me be clear: I am not holding those who deem(ed) me Unfuckwithable responsible for the harm, it was me, partially trying to live up to that image, but it goes deeper than that, much deeper. The depths of that darkness is what I will endeavor to throw a beacon on in this tale, which is really a story of abuse. I cannot tell the story without also analyzing the Myth of Unfuckwithable, because to my mind, they are closely related.
Months ago, I wrote these words: “I have to, absolutely have to tell you the story of abuse, the vile, vilest abuse that I partially co-signed, until not that long ago. My recovery from it has been one of my longest, toughest, darkest, loneliest trudges, to date. His name rhymes with Peter (which he has also used as an alias), and I don’t give a fuck if you know him, tell him I said so. His actions were deliberate, planned, cruel, and I repeat, Vile. It is a story that MUST be told, over and over again, so that none of us, not a single one, ever start believing it’s OK for other humans to treat us this way, in the name of love, no less. And more importantly, so that when we do fall prey to his ilk, we get out before, way before, I did. I will tell the story soon.”
Fast-forward to October 24th, what would have been my original dad’s 82nd birthday, had he made it past 36, and I find myself working up the courage to tell it, this story of abuse, with some clarity, and without the agony of months past, more than an entire year, in fact. It is only in the organization of preparing to leave the space and place I literally, hindsight being what it is, escaped to from the tyranny of his ‘love,’ that I am finally able to do so. So hot is the fire in my brain and heart to put these words on a page, that I cannot do anything else until I am, literally, done with it.
Done with him. Done with abusing myself for having let him, touch me, in any way. Ever.
And I laugh aloud as the hot tears flash to my eyes and roll down my cheeks, again… but this time, they are the hot tears of joy, at knowing a new self. You can read about her here: As is… Finale.
But let me digress back to unfuckwithable, which in this story of abuse, starts here: manipulation, the art of the sociopathic con. It is not my default, not how I function in the world, not my expectation. Therefore, I am con-able, manipulate-able, fully fuckwithable.
Trite little platitudes the likes of ‘you’re too strong to be fucked with,’ are fallacious at best, and damning at worst. They often serve to set up powerful women (like me) with the unrealistic expectation (internal and external) that we are not impacted when people treat us badly, or worse, that we are too smart to let it happen, so when it does, and it does, all the time, we suffer in silence. We do things like gouge holes into our arms in the privacy of the shower, or in the woods, when hiking, running, posting pictures of our adventures, our ‘love affairs’ with our tormenters, to our unsuspecting friends and family, because to them you see, we are Unfuckwithable, and not being that way, will bring victim-blaming judgements, opinions, and most tragically, has created deep-seated shame, because we have chosen to be with this person and brought it upon ourselves. When I say we, it means me. It means I did all of these things. It means I felt this way.
If you know anything about me at all, you will know that I quite despise our culture of DSM-diagnosing everything and everyone to death, but if the box fits, get the fuck inside. In this case, I have no other way to describe his actions toward me (and people around me) than Gaslighting, and to tell you that he was/is an absolute genius at practicing his self-described Narcissistic Sociopathy. Why oh why did I not believe him when he said so??? I really thought he was being funny. That joke, was on me, so big!
The thing that has come back to haunt me most often during the time since my escape from that hell, is the palpable memory of a really wise intuition, of sinking feelings, gut-wrenching doubts, which I experienced shortly before I literally moved him into, and allowed to take over the life I had so painstakingly, so grindingly, so manically built over the past 35-plus years, out of rubble, over and over again. He was pushy in a way I interpreted, (partially because he convinced me I should), as his mad, passionate, love for me. Please read that with the sarcasm and irony I intend. In my defense, I repeat: he was damn good.
You should know, it is not that I cannot live without a man that I continue to date. It is not that I am desperate to be in a relationship, for I quite enjoy my own company, and prefer living alone. It is that I spend my life caring for others in the nastiest human follies imaginable, and sometimes, I just really fucking want someone to give me something back that I cannot get from family, friends, or friends with benefits. He made all the right noise, and I repeat: manipulation is not my default, so I don’t automatically look for it in others. And that’s the last time I will defend myself in this story.
So here’s how he got me: he presented me with enough ‘real life’ evidence for who and what he was, how/where/with whom he had lived, and how he ended up in his current life, including in terms of money. The ‘evidence’ to prove my ill-feelings about it, about him, was so vague in comparison, nothing to ‘sink my teeth into,’ so instead of doubting him, I doubted self: exactly as he had planned, exactly as he intended, exactly, I learned later, according to the minutia of the agenda he had painstakingly laid out.
And it grew. His deliberate, meticulously planned and executed manipulation of my very core. He picked apart every.single.thing about me, about my family, about what I believed in, about my emotional, psychological, creative and intellectual capacities, about what my money was for, about my physical appearance, about his distaste for me sexually, and he did it right after expounding on how I was all that and then some. And he did it all so insidiously, so covertly but in plain view, so contrarily in every way, that I really started to believe I was truly THE problem in this ‘relationship,’ while that same intuition kept trying to yell muffled screams that I was being played, in the most sinister of mind games.
It all grew inside me to the point of a physical, emotional and financial ruin that even my serious bout with drug addiction many lifetimes ago, cannot touch, when compared with this ‘broken.’ This fractured, was simply easier, and somehow more necessary, for me to hide from the worlds I occupy, than that other battle, because at this juncture, I had become Unfuckwithable to so many of the people I care about, who care about me.
By the time I started to put it all together I was so plagued with anxiety and self-doubt, which of course was part of his plan, and which he used as weapons against me. He purposely incited doubt in the minds of my family about me, and hurled all of it like so many grenades when he threatened to ‘take me out for good,’ in the four walls I was trapped in with him. The ones I paid for, along with everything else in his world for the better part of two years.
I began to think that not seeing another day sounded like a good idea, so I reached out. I called a helping professional. Someone I thought knew something about me. It didn’t go well. I got a bit of a psychobabble-platitude and words like ‘you’re too strong to let him get to you, Marcela,’ and of course the famous, ‘why don’t you just leave’? Well, I had no money left to leave with, nowhere to go, and no-how left to get there. You should also know that I know something (too much), about the statistically proven reality of women (and men) dying, after they leave abusive spouses, partners, whatever word you wish to call them, at the hands of said spouses, partners, whatever word you wish to call them. I will use the word perpetrators; of physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological and financial manipulation, abuse and violence.
But I digress again, sorry, no I’m not, this is not a neat and tidy story and I cannot tell it truthfully, in a neat and tidy package, in any orderly fashion, for it was a nasty, messy affair. So I come back to the falsehood of ‘unfuckwithable,’ and the words of that helping professional and the painfully invalidating (m)utterings of others, however well, or jokingly-intentioned.
Such a conversation was born of a post from me, which reflected my sarcastic truth, when someone I know was liquidating their clothing store, and selling off the remaining accoutrements of said store. It was a powerful example, at that point in my process, of what I am attempting to articulate in these pages.
I really wanted what I named the Good(Man)nequin, yes, I anthropomorphize, and play with words, among other things… in any event, I really really wanted it, for so many reasons, including that I just like odd things, things that speak to my creative (some say eccentric) sensibilities, but alas, she had already sold it by the time I saw her post. So I posted the following, along with the photo she had in her ad:
“A friend of mine was selling my potential next boyfriend and I missed out…. quite sad about it, he’s so reminiscent of many a past suitor and both ex-husbands… no head and no balls… …he would’ve made the perfect addition to my oh-so-stylish and eclectic home decor… multipurpose too, I could decorate him at Christmas, use him as a clothing rack in my closet-room… the possibilities would have been endless… ”
My friend GR, a woman I have the utmost regard and respect for, made the following comment, which at that time, felt more like salt in the wound, than anything else. Please note, I own that feeling, her words did NOT ‘make me feel.’
She said: “What a cruel tongue you have my friend.”
I responded with the following:
“I will admit that my tongue is slightly more acerbic than usual, even for my unfiltered self. However, I fail to see the point in extolling the dubious virtues of, or worse, staying silent about, men who thought it was necessary or even OK, to resort to violence of every ilk and variety when they realized I was not on this earth to do their bidding (sexually, financially, emotionally, psychologically), and while I’m up for almost any adventure, using and abusing me is not OK, ever. The level of male violence and abuse I am party to in my work world right now, and have been subjected to in my own life, in further and more recent pasts, is beyond anything I am able to filter, co-sign, or even forgive in some instances. And I believe I am finally done and done trying to be compassionate about everyone’s ‘context.’ With the exception of deliberate thought about their actions, there was nothing brainy or ballsy in the actions of both of my ex-husbands, and my most recent longer-term-live-in-liaison. Cruelty to others is the epitome of cowardice to my mind, and the acidity in my words rings more of truth, to me, than cruelty. Coates and Wade have a significant body of over 2 decades of research on this and related topics, and I have written an academic paper, or twelve, on it myself. The sharpness in my words speaks to those individuals only, who have used manipulation, control and violence, and by no means reflects my thoughts and feelings on all the men in my past, long ago or more recent, and most importantly, is not a generalized descriptor for all males of our species, from my viewpoint. My recent and current dalliance with the Sailor included, I know, have known, and loved, many a beautiful man.”
Today I would add, I have also raised one.
That comment/conversation was the beginning of the turnaround, but their initial impact, much like those of the helping professional, felt at first as though they just broke me more. It’s called Negative Social Response and there’s a huge body of research on it as well. Slowly though, those same words became the fuel to provide the flicker, which eventually (re)lit the fury of that little girl inside me. That child who learned more than any child ever should, by way of life’s most vicious and dramatic, yes, dramatic slaps, about how to a) survive, b) rebuild and c) fucking thrive not despite, but because of, those very bitch slaps, and the humans(?) and systems we choose, or end up around/in, who deliver them.
And as life will, she presented my then 25 year-old son with a bitch-slap of his own, which in turn presented itself, in the form of him, as my salvation, again.
It was his temporary presence back under my roof, which helped me find enough of the strength I am so often credited with, to make a move. A move I knew I was now safe enough, literally, in the physical sense, to follow through with. For the sociopath could not fuck with me, through my child, but especially not with that beautiful soul of a young man, in my immediate midst. For months before ‘Sunny’ came to stay, I no longer considered the roof over my (and the sociopath’s) head our home, and in the safety of my own mind considered myself single, long before I told him I was, long before I busted that all important move. But I could do it now, for this hu(man), my son, has always given me a courage and will that are not my own. Fret not at this statement, I am deeply and profoundly aware of the pitfalls of making other humans my strength, my power, and as such that is not what I mean.
And while my son’s presence in my home did not prevent the sociopath from attempting to continue his manipulations, what a narcissistic sociopath cannot possibly know, is how real love works, the kind my mother has always had for me, the kind I have for my child, the kind he has for me, the kind I have had and received from other men, and ultimately, the kind I have grown for myself over decades of hard core personal work, and the sacrifices I have chosen to make in the name of that personal work, and for that child.
It is all that, which his presence in my home, brought me back to, and while perhaps not back to my senses right away (see above under ‘trudge’), I remembered who the fuck I am, and that it was NOT, what and who the sociopath had worked so diligently to make me, and others, believe, in order to serve his own ugly ass and heart. Yes, he has an ugly heart. And perhaps someone will dig far enough into that dirty to uncover something else, but it will not be me, not even in ‘pretend-friend-land.’
This is how I became unfuckwithable (by him) in a recent, the last, text communication:
Him: “bla bla bla bla bla”
Me: I would much prefer it if there was no further communication between us. After all, I don’t even actually like you.
And then I blocked his ugly ass number.
Fast-forward to December 31st, 2017 and it is pushing 11 p.m…. I do not put much stock in New Year’s Resolutions and the like, but I have been sitting on this, with this essay, for far too long now, and while it may not be wearing its best and final edits yet, I feel a burning desire to be rid of it, the way I have exorcised myself, literally, of him, the sociopath.
On December 31st, 2014, I started an essay called ‘The year of Fly.’ Turns out, I made a series of decisions shortly thereafter, which when combined with some lifey-life-slaps, and (too) many bitch-slaps from a conscience-less-sociopathic-bitch, dressed in lover’s clothing, turned my anticipated ‘Year of Fly’ into ‘Four Years of Flop’n mop – up the tears and other messes.’
So I will press ‘publish,’ while in my head and heart, I hear and heed the words of that same glorious friend who noted the cruelty in my tongue, GR. She recently reminded me that:
“You are in possession of a cast iron Spirit, and a matching mouth… I’m sure you will prevail, after all, you’ve conquered your own demons… “
So with my well-dented but solid, and beautifully seasoned cast-iron spirit, and clad in super cozy lounging attire on this Eve of another New Year, I sense that I might actually finish that ‘Year of Fly’ essay, this day next year.
With all of my Maddest Madd love and appreciation for those of you who continue to follow me here, and support me in any beautiful way, anywhere in the worlds I occupy,
~Marcela: Not fully Unfuckwithable, but so much smoother and more non-stick.
PS: Please feel free to do your own research, I have, and continue to do mine. The links are added for your convenience only and intended as a starting point, if you feel inclined to look further.
And as the waves crash onto the shores of my beloved bay on a blustery-warm, almost end-of-summer day, so the wind blows through away the remnants of the havocs and hatreds you wreaked, upon every square inch of my world.
It is not that I still writhe in the agony of your countless and sundry tyrannies, it is my astonishment at the brilliance deceitfulness and deliberateness, with which you so expertly executed them, that prompts me to waste my words thoughts on you again.
And as the last of the summer-people roll up the dirty mats outside the glamping monstrosities they rolled into this tiny bay on, so I endeavour to roll up the dusty track upon which I have trudged, in my efforts to expunge the dirty, self-hating demons that set up camp in my person, when I realized who what you were are, and what your mission was is.
It is not that I am regretful of my suffering over these 14 months, for it has brought me to the wisest, fiercely-softest incarnation of me to date, it is that I am bewildered at the calculated depravity with which you pursued orchestrated the demise of my core, in order that you could take from me that which you came for: my stability, my worth; emotional, psychological, intellectual and economic.
And as I pack up my favourite things and sort through turf the last vestiges of you from my being, my home and my worlds, so I prepare, with peace and gratitude, to leave the place and space I escaped you to, for one with nary a trace of your existence… and I leave dispose of you, for good.
And as the Maples and Cottonwoods drop their riotous fall colours, and frost and snow hit the tiny Bay with the same vengeance with which you collided slammed into my being, so I drop the frozen weight of your revile and it shatters on the ground into a million tiny ice crystals.
It is not that they are sharp, broken shards; it is that they have landed on my new ground, formed created frozen images, beautiful, like the hoarfrost I marvel at, fragile, powerful, and vulnerable to the thaw which inevitably occurs, at the end of a period of iciness, frostbite, even.
It is not that you held me hostage for the 14 months since I fully uncovered your sociopathic duplicity imposture and ran limped away, it is that I held myself captive, with self-reproach and other useless recriminations, and it behooves me to end the ‘As Is…’ saga with this, my final message to you:
Your dirty, narcissistic misdeeds have backfired, for I am the exact opposite of what you so purposefully endeavored to tear me down into.
And while I have very little but pity and the DSM diagnoses I normally abhor left for you, I hold myself, in the highest, kindest, esteem.
November 29, 2017.
Images and Poetry: All Rights Reserved.
As I pluck, the stray hairs from my face, I try to ponder with some grace, this crazy thing, called Aging. As I take my locks, from gold to dark, With silver strands just for the lark, I smile, for I have Lived. As I view the lines on this visage, every day is vernissage, and mostly, I care Not. And as I judge this culture, youth obsessed, no more couth do I possess, than (T)rump-a-dump, himself. In this world, where absurd is King, I wag and wonder at this thing, the phenomena, of Stupid. We're teaching children, to regurgitate, are raising mindless reprobates, in bubble-wrapped, Entitlement. I yell at them, to read a book, get your brains back off that fuckin hook, you call a life, on-line. And as I sit, with 56.5 I rejoice the years I am alive Live(d) and Love(d), with frenzied fire’n Passion A youthful spirit, in its tweens the wise chick in me hears’n gleans that this body, doth Protest! In recent words, to my well-(b)read child I spoke of this my big wild ride, and uttered this, fair Warning: If tomorrow, I should die, know that my life was not all pie, but holy fuck me, what a Ride! Lose no tear, for my time lost here, I sped through akin to Buzz Lightyear, had no time, to sweat the small Stuff! No such burden, as regret, for NO dull moment did beget, a single breath, I Took! And so I enter, this next phase, In a blur of crazy-dayz, and with electrifying, Verve! I ought to warn, you faint-of-hearts, my new grand plan will have no chart, to map out how this goes! So if you love me, in all my glory, you will know that this next folly, will be, of proportions Epic! BOOM. FALLOUT. AFTERSHOCK. SPLASH. SMILE’n WAVE, like the Queen I am. Quack-a-fucking-doodle-dizzy and with a brand new energy, for an old(er) chick! ~Marcela. October 21, 2017 Photos and Poetry: All Rights Reserved.
Unfathomable surplus- (in)human cruelty, suffering, crisis…
…compassion fatigue settles deep- into my bones.
Even this- watery place, loved and trusted, denies me solace…
…betrays- this beleaguered soul.
New- this anguish, and frighteningly familiar…
…tables turn- this crisis, is mine.
Bereft- until the next incarnation… only…
~Marcela. July 25, 2017
All Rights Reserved (image and written content).
-Mama Marcella at 20-ish -Marcela Jr. at 20-ish
I want to tell you this story. I have told you the untold story of my original dad, the hero status I raised him to, because most of us do, when folks die young, tragically, dramatically. And because his heroism was brash, in your face, and because we as a culture have this bizarre tendency to idolize the dead, forget their misdeeds, while we ignore the living, breathing heroes who walk among us, every single day. My mother is one of those silent heroes.
She turned 81 today, and I need to tell you this story while my mama Marcella, yes, two L’s in her name is still with us, because she deserves more than a eulogy, because she deserves more than me extolling her virtues, waxing poetic about her loving (mis?)deeds, when she can no longer hear me.
It is far less cumbersome to paint a balanced portrait of a dead hero than a live one. For a dead hero cannot take offense, be hurt by, feel misunderstood, when I shed light on the dark side of their humanity, or my experience of it. The telling of these truths as I know them, shining light on all of our human parts, is a significant piece of the indescribable thing which drives me to write anything, about anything, in the first place. It is about normalizing humanity again, in all of its glory and folly. It is about refusing to buy into culturally-boxed ideas of what is real, what is appropriate, what is worthwhile, who and sadly what, we ought to idolize.
My mama Marcella is a Warrior Woman. One of a much subtler ilk and variety than the outwardly visible, unfiltered rebel-rebel style I inherited from our mutual hero, my original dad. She has known more strife and hardship, worked harder in her life, waded through more shit than you and I combined have ever flushed. She has trudged up more hills, bled herself dry for my dad, for my step-dad, for my brother and I, our children, and so many others, more times than I have the mathematical skillset to count.
She grew up in war-torn Eastern Europe with a mal-adjusted, alcohol-loving, violence-inclined father. When my grandmother finally managed to get them the hell out of his reach, with nowhere to go and no-how to get there, she learned by the same quietly tenacious example of her mama, Žofie Ševčíková, that I have experienced and learned from her, my mama Marcella, with two L’s.
When my babi Ševčíková forbid her to date my über unruly, leather clad, motor bike riding, womanizing, Czech Casanova of a dad, she up and married that boy, with my big brother Tom already in her womb. Keep in mind that this was 1960 in Eastern Europe, and nothing about him or their love story, was ‘appropriate’ or ‘acceptable,’ but especially not in my very strict and proper grandmother’s world view, and the hopes and vision she had for her only child.
When my dad was up against an extended jail term (for various political and other rebellions) she lessened that term by several years, doing what a good, loyal wife would do and made sure the authorities did not find everything they were looking for; she shoveled coal in our basement for days, to ‘obscure’ the immediate visual existence of various artifacts of interest to them.
When the Soviets rolled their tanks into our lives on that notoriously famous day in 1968, she quietly went about the business of being my dad’s right hand, in the complex affair of ‘getting him out of jail,’ think about that, and all of us out of the country. She literally bled her hands dry when she went to work with him in a metal toy factory in Germany while we were in hiding, because they were looking for him. She did it again when we finally got to this country, working at night producing and repairing the massive anchor lines used in the Port of Vancouver.
When he died two years later in a mysterious mining ‘accident’ in Stewart BC, she found herself standing in a world completely unknown to her, with two kids under the age of 12, no language, no job, no money, and no family support to speak of. We had fled former Czechoslovakia ‘illegally’ and going back was not an option. So like the Warrior Woman she is, she chose to put down his rifle the day they came to tell us he was dead, she chose to stay alive, and make the life for me and my brother that he always dreamed of, for all of us. I don’t think she ever thought of it as making a life for herself and her children, it was always about making sure my brother and I had what we needed, and then some. She slaved at several jobs to give us what our two-parent Canadian friends had, and so much more, always. This has never changed.
When we first landed in Canada I felt completely alien and in an effort to fit in, decided to change the spelling of our shared first name, Marcela, to Marcella with two L’s. My 1st grade friend Michelle had two, and I thought if I did, I would be more like her. My mama agreed because she needed her daughter to be happy. When I started to figure out who I really was in my mid-thirties, I changed it back to Marcela with one L, announced it to her, and the woman who hates profanity said ‘fuck you,’ I’m not changing it again. I’m keeping two.’ Insert that accent we all love so much and boom, you know where my feisty comes from. She may be a silent hero, but she ain’t no pushover!
When a millionaire wanna-be-hobby-pimp turned me out and she heard what I was doing for a living, she combed the known strolls in Vancouver looking for me in the middle of the night, and when I started to pump my veins full of poison to kill the pain of inhuman judgement, she never did, judge. She just wanted me to stay alive. When my brother wanted to get married at 18 and needed her signature, she may not have liked it, but she signed, because she wanted to support her son.
When she finally made the decision to pursue a life of her own again and married my second dad Mickey, there was not a moment’s hesitation, when I asked to follow her to Switzerland less than a year after she had moved to be with him. I needed to escape a life I was seriously unprepared for and she needed her daughter to be safe. Naturally she took me in, right into the middle of her new marriage and life. I was so happy for her. It was so short-lived.
You should know that we both cared deeply for him. He was lovely. That phrase is a standing joke between her and I, because in actuality he carried decades of anger and negativity that had nothing to do with my mother or our family, and she was where he directed it, more often than anywhere else, because he knew she would suffer in silence. In the beginning, for the first 20 years, she defended him almost as fiercely as she had defended the folly of her one true love, my original dad. Later, during moments of profound unhappiness and intense vulnerability, she talked about her sadness, but like so many of our species, was afraid of ending up alone in her old age.
So she stayed, stoically, in what I believe was a deeply unhappy union for both of them, for over 3 decades, until he died in 2012. She cared for him for months, brought a hospital bed into their living room. She slept on the couch so he wouldn’t be alone in his illness and fear and anger. We spent a week together sleeping on the floor of his hospice room, so he wouldn’t be alone and afraid and angry when he died. I learned something from her during his illness and ultimate passing, which almost defies description. I believe it is connected to human dignity, in profoundly undignified moments, and complete and utter un-conditionality and commitment.
This very generosity, loyalty and dedication to the well-being of her children and others, continues to be one of her greatest strengths and pitfalls, all in one. I recognize this characteristic well, because I, her youngest apple, have not fallen far from, am still clinging fiercely to parts of her tree. I share her tendency to stay loyal to individuals, organizations even, that by virtue of their less than stellar behaviour toward her or I, have rendered themselves undeserving of said loyalty.
Giving undeserved loyalty is my mother’s Achilles heel. I have learned from her about getting out of really bad situations sooner than later, and I am beyond sad that I had to learn it by the heart-wrenching example of her prolonged suffering.
Máma, I know that my deep sense of empathy, compassion, and to some extent a sense of obligation to others, come from you. I love you so far beyond these few paragraphs, for they are but a mere snapshot into a life most folks would be challenged to imagine, never mind survive and thrive in. I feel that you cannot possibly comprehend the extent to which you have informed some of the best parts of who I am; they are not the outwardly intense and obvious bits I get from my rebel-rebel father, they are the stoic, silent inside that I so often feel is going to break me, but I know is part of the core, the very root system of that apple tree I come from. For you have always been the roots that keep our family tree healthy and strong, and bearing crazy-ass Ševčík-Mrnka-fruit that defies anything like normal, when it comes to categories.
This story is a work in progress. The task of attempting to portray your heroism is one of proportions most epic, and I am overwhelmed with anxiety about getting it right. There are so many more parts, so many more pages in the story of your life that I feel must be included, but it is important that I release this draft from the vault of my beloved writing lappy, before I am paralyzed with the enormity of painting an accurate word picture, of your beautiful soul. The figurative ‘stick people’ I have managed to draw on this page, will have to do, for your 81st birthday, my dearest máma.
I have faith that we will both continue to flex that never-give-up-muscle we have in common, and while another 81 for either of us is a bit of stretch, I choose to believe that we will enjoy many more years of life, love, learning and growing old(er) together.
More filtered than usual, for I know you hate it when I swear, and with all the love I have:
PS: Thanks for the style, we do love our hats and clothes and shoes’n things!
July 17, 2017
All Rights Reserved
March 22, 2017
This day last year I stood on your doorstep, and told you that Miller had died. Four days ago we stood with so many others and celebrated Matty’s life. They were both your age. Kids you knew, kids we both had significant connections to. And they both died the tragedy which your very existence provided me a most narrow escape from, so many years ago. I owe you Thomas. It has been a bizarre little year, and hard to believe how much changed, in only 365 days. How much you have changed, in only 365 days. How much ‘we’ have changed.
We shared a roof again for the first time since you flew the mama-coop almost 7 years ago, and you got to experience my home world in a much different capacity, as an adult. During that precious, though most difficult cohabitation (we know why, but this isn’t about my ill-fated romantic escapades), I was gifted with many insights into who you have become, a view that I could not have glimpsed in the course of a less closely-quartered relationship, consisting only of weekly drive-by-huggings. I treasure that unexpected and challenging time we shared.
The kind, sweet, compassionate parts I have always known were readily visible, as always, to my ever-biased eye, and came as no surprise. They have been an integral part of you since the moment you took your first breath, and broke my heart so beautifully, on this day 26 years ago. At 1:29 p.m., Central European Time, to be precise.
Sharing space again was not the challenge, rather the battle we each waged with our respective demons-of-the-moment, which then manifested in our adult-child/childish(?)parent duo. A most welcome revelation during that brief roomie-relationship last spring and summer, was witnessing you put into practice, under highly inauspicious circumstances, some of my oft repeated, and most relentless teachings:
- Stand up for yourself and above all, for others when they cannot!
- Question everything, use critical thinking skills to analyze everything and everyone in the world!
- Be willing to re-think and revise your own beliefs, always!
- Question and challenge me, and mine!!!
That last one was/is hard for you, and I am tempted to apologize but I won’t. You did, you do good with it! I don’t make it easy. I know.
To my utter chagrin, I also watched you demonstrate some of my ‘best parenting,’ in a number of your habits, confounding, even provocative and head-strong ways of being! I can but express my remorse and regret for those bits, and forge ahead to lead by a different example than the one I obviously provided you at some point in time. Neither mama-flagellation nor Sunny-bashing is the purpose of including this piece, it is important though, to me, that I live with a more balanced view of my heroes. For not even you, my most beloved, all-time favourite human on this planet, in the galaxy, the universe, are perfect. And for me to live with that skewed perspective is a set-up for you, and for me. Because it damn well hurts when our heroes fall off the lofty pedestals, upon which we situate them. That in mind, I will only raise you to an altitude we can both withstand a fall from. Because we will, fall. Splat.
Watching you this last year, the softness you had for your babi during her painful struggle, and for me, having you close, through some of the hardest times you/we have experienced to date, and holy moly Bat-boy that says something (because have you met our life?), has yet again, been my ultimate saving grace. Once more, I owe you Thomas.
Twenty-six will be fabulous BabyCakes, and I look forward to more! More surprises, more challenges, more of everything we have always known together, more crazy, and more learning, about ourselves, each other, and how to evolve and function even better, individually and as ‘the set,’ we have always been. I can only beseech my atheist Ungods that we will always be, that set. ‘Always’ being so fully and inadequately impermanent and all, but you get my point!?
No words, no language (not even profanity), suffice to describe the gift of your presence in my world, for 26 years and counting. Who says I can’t do long-term relationships?! Our relationship has evolved, and not without serious growing pains, to something it has never been before, something I am loathe to label in any way, other than to say it is more grown up. On both ends. Which means you’re right on schedule, and me, well, sorry, bit of a late bloomer in some areas of life…
High five SunnyBoyManChildBabyCakesSnookemBooBabyCzechThommyCzechBatBoy (did I get them all?), we did well! No, we did fucking awesome! Yeah, that’s better, we did Fucking Awesome!
Happiest of happy birthdays to you child!
With the Maddest of Madd Love,
She, Valkyrie cradles tattered remnants a slaughtered spirit, in her intrepid care. Goddess vision greets wounded gaze and I beseech her, to choose life, for an oft wounded, heart. To Valhalla for mead, and her. Salve for the psyche, soul and flesh, of gods mythical, and mortal, and their concubines. ~Marcela: beautifully lost, in a real-time myth, of my own creation. February 18, 2017 Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkyrie