Volcanoes and Poisonous Trees :: I Was An Abuser

I was emotionally abused for years.


For as long as I can remember nothing I did was ever good enough. The mental and verbal abuse was awful. 

Nothing about me was right.

I felt all the wrong things and never at the right times.

Sit down and shut up.

Who the hell do you think you are?

You’re never going to amount to anything.

Nothing you say is worth listening to anyway.

You like to perform, huh? Why do you like to perform on a stage?

Probably because you’re a narcissist or something.

What the hell is wrong with you wanting to be on a stage?

You think you’re smart but you’re really not.

You’re just an imposter and everyone knows it.

You’re fat and you’re ugly and you’re not worth loving.

Sure. Real nice idea. It’ll never work.

Oh great, pulling your hair out again. You're so gross.

Oh great, biting your nails again, what are you? Five?

Oh great, playing with razors again. You're so weak.

People don’t actually like you. They just put up with you.

You know, they’re just too nice to say so.

They just put up with you.

Life would be better without you messing things up for everyone.

Your life could’ve been great.

Your life should’ve been awesome.

They just put up with you.

Everyone puts up with you.

They just put up with you.



On and on and on.


My abuser was -- is?—me of course.




Years of this and I didn’t know how to stop it. On top of this was my endless rumination on past hurts, past moments, past regrets. I ruminated on what I could never change instead of focusing on moving forward.

Rage would build up in me and, like a volcano, I would blow.

My fire raining down on my husband first. A torrent of abuse towards myself that grew into a torrent of abuse towards him.

It was never intentional. But. But. But -- instead of learning how to stop the eruptions, I wasted time trying to build channels to direct the heat away from him, away from our kids. It was exhausting trying to keep from erupting and then furiously digging channels when I did.


I was, and still am, so ashamed of myself. I had grown so accustomed to the heat myself, my “skin” so scarred, that I could not see how badly it was burning them.


A leprosy of the heart.


Our home became one of eggshells. Everyone, including myself, stepping around gingerly, to not cause a crack. Do not cause a crack because then the whole thing will fall down.


One night my beloved husband, Zack, with tears in his eyes said, “I didn’t kill your mother. I wasn’t there when your life was hard as a teenager. I wasn’t the one who abandoned you. But I’ve become your punching bag.”


“Beautiful; talented; intelligent – and as mean as a snake,” he said another night.


I could not hear him for the roaring in my ears.


He was right, of course.


I scared myself with how easily I could turn on a dime. My Hyde overtaking my Jekyll. My Hulk taking over my Bruce. Never knowing when all hell would break loose.


It was a night in early July when the eggshell house finally broke. Where all the channels I had been building turned to dust. Where the ash of my own fucking pain was wiped away enough to see how badly, how very badly my husband was burned. How hard he had been trying to love me through the lava.


And so here I am, almost five months later, and I am trying to rebuild the house I burned down.


I am an emotional abuser. I am an abuser.


I was an abuser.


Learning how to forgive myself.


Hoping that those I love can forgive me.


I am hopeful and scared and joyful and terrified all at once.


You see, I have a way forward. The poisonous tree I had been trying to cut down with a proverbial butter knife is now being laid waste by the proverbial chainsaw I have learned (still learning) how to wield.  


Volcanoes and poisonous trees. Channels and chainsaws.


My friends, I fear I have lost everything in this burning. The house that I turned into eggshells is gone. Nothing but a place full of rubble now. Now to clear it.


But what will be built in its place? Will we survive this?


I am hopeful. 



She started shooting herself first.

With a silencer

Round after round

Into her stomach

Where the bullets piled up

And weighed her down

Scar tissue growing around them

Till the hardness felt normal

Became a comfort

To feel the numbing

Of mental bullet verbosity.


She started shooting herself first.

With a rocket

Round after round

Into her head

Where the thoughts rattled off

And flew around the rooms

Till the shrapnel felt softer

Became a blanket

To cover the bleeding

Of words running silently by.


She started shooting him next.

With a love letter

Round after round

Into his heart

Where the missives stacked up

And paper cut-ted his aorta

Till the slicing felt subtle

Became a caress

To wipe away longing

Of ever being a good enough good enough.


She started shooting him next.

With an armament

Round after round

Into his hope

Where the missiles laid waste

And covered the land

Till the soil grew weary

Became a desert

Too parched to find meaning

Of fighting without much life.


She started shooting the children last.

With a projectile

Round after round

Into their lives

Where the worry grew wild

And covered their eyes

Till the light made them wary

Became a blindness

To stave off the hurting

Of walking so as not to tremble her earth.