The New Course Begins

In silence I sit and realize that half of my breath is absent.

The air enters my throat but doesn’t seem to completely fill my lungs as it once did. Something is missing.

As my thoughts attempt to follow the same path traveled for so many years the absence of full breath redirects their progress and brings them to the developing brick path that is being newly paved over a more solid foundation, I cannot go there anymore, all detours have been closed and the old path has worn away.

There’s a numbness to this pain. So many years, waste is a word that has begun to enter my mind as I look to where the new path might possibly lead and yet even that word is numb as it enters my thoughts.

It is real this time, it has a momentum that is pressing my sanity and my growth. And so I sit in the silence and know that this absence of breath is real, it is not numbing, it is empty and lonely and silent and curious all wrapped up together. It is real.

This Was Real

Today I woke up very melancholy. The day unfolded from there and I came upon a letter I wrote some where between 2013 and 2015.

This is the letter.

I have wanted for so long to see you love me,

to hear you love me,

to feel you love me.

My mind has so often tricked me into believing that someday, in some moment it would happen…the light would shine in your heart and through your eyes and the receptors would trigger in your mind and you would reach out for me and kiss me and hold me tight.

You would let me hold you and love you as I so desire to hold and love someone, for so very long now, you.

I can feel the beauty of your body and have waited for the moment when you could feel the beauty of mine.

This fantasy is at some of the deepest depths of my pain. I tried so hard. I wanted it so much and I worked at it with every ounce of energy and sanity I had.

I wonder if it will always live in me

and I wonder why it ever has.

We had a lot of life together, 20 years and it is now done.

It ends with such a huge hole of questioning… what it really was all about…

there really is nothing to show.

The way we lived…so apart… I was so lonely all of the time…never feeling good enough….honestly never being good enough.


A Letter to My Sisters

Dear Sisters,

I’ve spent a lot of time in mind with you both. From the early times when I used to go to the place of believing that if I was always there for you, at least telling you that, that I would make up for the time that destroyed what was supposed to be a family, our family. Through all of the separation and pain that was brought on us by the people who were our parents, through all of the mental health calamities and all of the co dependency through the death of our mother and through the continuation of life after that with all of it’s drama and pain. You see, as with the other aspects of our family I see all of the moments in time in our past as moments of pain. In the insanity, some way or another, it always came back to pain, someones or everyone’s. I look back and there isn’t a moment that I can remember even with times of smiles and laughter that isn’t linked back to pain for one or all of the people in our family.

It all begins at that moment in the court room. That was my second birth, and yours, I believe. A whole new life began then. and while for many years I believed that that moment was a mistake, a terrible horrible mistake made by evil forces at work,  I lived with the guilt of my decision, the decision of a 13 year old girl who had lived nothing but insanity all of her life, I was made to believe that it was my fault, my choice caused all the suffering that would then take place for all of the years to follow; up until that moment in the driveway. The moment when I first clearly heard Gods voice in my head telling me “Alaina this was my plan all along, I put you in your mothers life when I knew you could give each other what you were able too in the right way. You would never have survived being together at any other time in your lives” and it all lifted away. All of the pain and the past and the guilt I now had my answer and my place to go when I faltered or questioned the truth. God sent me his message at a time when I needed it the most and could hear it the best.

So where does that leave the “sister” relationship. Well this is the thing there is no relationship. The dysfunction and pain and refusal to see or deal with the reality of our lives. The refusal to be genuine and present with each other speaks bounds to the absence of anything real or true between us. I know for myself I have tried. I have attempted presence with each of you only to be hurt over and over again with words or non action. The narcissism that remains within you both is so overwhelming for me I choose not to let it be in my life anymore. My own co dependency on you all financially makes me sick with myself and what makes me even sicker is that it has always been as though that dependency was always in someway “payment” it seemed for me being who I was in the relationship. While it does make me sick with myself that does not mean that I will hold on to that sickness. That is done as yesterday is done and I don’t have to be that person anymore. I have spent to much mind space trying to define what it is that our ? really means and to no avail because it really doesn’t mean anything.  There never was a family. I believe that any more energy placed here will only be a detriment to myself. It shouldn’t be so hard, LOVE shouldn’t be this much work and pain.


So here’s the thing. Accountability. Do we get to be in a place of forgiveness and forget because of our need to be spiritual? I don’t understand right now what is the middle ground. When is it that we say, as human beings, I believe in what I am supposed to be, in Gods eyes, but I know that this human life leaves me with people and circumstances that I have to presently deal with. When is it that I am able to be OK with truly having feelings about something and when I’m not not the judge and jury.

We choose to make the choices we do as human beings and at some point we have to be accountable for those choices when is it OK to to acknowledge that those choices are what we have to live with. When is it OK to say “no this isn’t right any longer and I’m not going to sit back and say it is”.

Accountability. Something I feel has been spoon fed to myself but has never been seen anyone around me to really wrap their head around.

How did you Feel?

I wonder in this moment if this is how you felt.

As I sit here lost and alone it came across my thoughts, is this the same pain you felt.

Is it why on that day when hospice came to the house you accepted your path with such open arms? That day I saw a peace and a smile of happiness for yourself come over you for the first time, you saw an end to your suffering, an end to all of the pain you held so close within your soul.

It was always a mystery to me. They say you don’t really understand until you are there yourself.

I just found the pictures you left again, from when you were young, up until the time you left. I’ve looked at them before but never really saw them. You smiled then with such happiness, then when we were young. Then the shift becomes more apparent, you were so sad, you can see it in your eyes in the pictures, in the later pictures after you came here to this new world that you said you wanted so much. The same memory I have of you through those later days, until that one day, the day hospice came and you saw the end.

Why?  Such a subjective question. It set the tone for all 3 of us.

Did you ever realize what you were doing to us? How you were feeling, the energy you put into all of us? Is that what I’m doing? I wish I new how you felt.

Maybe if you had shared it, in a way that didn’t bring the guilt and pain that your expressions always brought, maybe then it wouldn’t be present now, maybe I would have understood and not been in this place now. Feeling like it’s possible, that this was how you felt, how you lived your life on this earth, ending up somewhere that was encompassed with all of that pain that I cannot even know, except for knowing my own.

I don’t know where you are because while you found relief in the final diagnosis it all remained in those last moments, all of the pain, the book at the hospice house said people die as they lived and certainly I think that was your case. We all then brought it forward with us. You died with all of it in that bed. You thought it would relinquish it all, to just leave here and to leave us because you were who you were, you thought it would all just go away, but it doesn’t work like that. You left it here with the 3 of us. You left it in that bed that night after we sat and watched you take that final breathe after such a struggle for so long.

None of it died with you. It manifested, it grew, it became who we are. It will do the same with him if time doesn’t provide the opportunity to change it. That will be the absolute end or maybe the very beginning. Both of you gone could possibly wipe that significant part of the slate clean. Then we will have no choice but to decide the direction we will take. To give you, and he, back the control that has taken the meaning of love and family and created  a world we have lived in, of pain, suffering and distortion, or will we try to find a way to begin what was the intention of the Lord so many years ago, the intention that you all took away.

I think this is how you felt, pain that is so often distorted. I would not be here right now if it wasn’t, mirroring what I learned.

I love you, I love him. I ….. me. Please take all this pain. Please don’t leave me to mirror how I think you might have felt. I’m scared. Please help me to see everything is going to be OK.

Chapter One: Holy Family

I was born on December 15 1966 in a small town in rural Illinois, about 100 miles outside of Chicago. Surrounded by corn fields to the South and West and the Illinois and Vermilion Rivers to the North and East, Oglesby was a small ethnic community with one main street that maybe stretches a mile long.

My mother was from England and my father was from the little town where I would begin to be raised. They met when my father was stationed outside of Bradford, in Yorkshire, where my mother was born and lived the beginnings of her journey. I have few if any real memories of the first ten years of my life. I have feelings that are invoked as I try to focusedly think back on that time, but no real specific moments in time with any faces and bodies and connection and definitely no memories of ?*.

I went to the towns Catholic grade school, Holy Family. I guess I remember as much as I can about the experience. We were middle class, I suppose, but I remember always feeling like we were much poorer than the other kids at school. I don’t know if it was because we lived in an apartment, the whole top floor of a building my grandfather owned in town, or because it seems to me that I was never really allowed the new and trendy things that all the girls around me had. My mother sewed, I remember that, and she made a lot of our clothes. From pictures I know that my sister Shannon and I were often made matching outfits by my mom which it seems was fairly commonplace in that day and age, especially for the children of mothers who sewed their clothes. I think my mom really loved to sew, I remember her with a sense of great pride when I think back to that time, not a feeling I can say I attach to my mother with many other things in the life, or should I say journey, I experienced with her. There was a group of us at Holy Family that I always seemed to be just on the fringes of, hanging on in ways that you hear about in today’s open communications about what the world is like growing up and being a kid. We didn’t have that open thought.  Waiting for the party invite or the sleep over call, trying so desperately to be included. This was definitely true for me and I very much empathize with any and all young people, and old I suppose, who have that feeling of trying to fit in. I was different though, I guess that that is as well something I knew, could feel, from a very young age.

Kids were kids even then. Not quite being a part of the group was emphasized by being picked on and called names. Frog Eyes and Fog Horn and Ape Arms still  give me a little twinge inside. My eyes were big, when I coughed, which I did fairly often as my chest was my weakest health link, it was deep and rough and still to this day sounds like a fog horn, and the amount of hair I had on my arms as puberty set in was extreme (now I am happy to see that hair still growing because it shows I have the testosterone needed to have a great sex life :)), they were the reasons for these names.  The worst of these tortures though, and I know there’s worse out there but it was still devastating, was the deliberate contortion of my last name. KISS BUTT!!, KISS BUTT!!, was a regular chant. It would make me cry and bring me so much pain I, and I’m sure everyone ever with that name had to go through, it was simply aweful. There was one family, the Safranski’s, who were unrelenting with the abuse, They lived a block behind us on 1st street and in that small town of 2000 people many of us had to walk to and from school. We did, we always did, my parents wouldn’t pay for us to ride the Holy Family school bus, which was driven for many years as I recall by a man named George(just remembered that), so I was ever determined on finding routes to and from school that would not put me on the same path as the Safranski’s. Do you know how hard it is to retaliate against a name like Safranski when your last name is Butkus! IMPOSSIBLE! I remember I used to try and use the argument “No you’re not pronouncing it right. It’s BOOoooT KUSS not BUTT KISS” trying to appeal to the ethnic roots of all of us in this small community in the middle of the corn fields. They would just laugh as kids do and continue with the torture as they received exactly the reaction they wanted, my tears and obvious pain.

Remembering back the thing that had the most effect on me is the difference I felt from all of the others because of my mothers accent. It’s so funny how when you have a parent of non-American origin you yourself don’t hear them as the rest of the world hears them. I don’t remember when I recognized that my mom was from a different country, I guess because we traveled to England as young children and she was just my mom, I never really thought about it, but I do remember when everyone else realized it and they were unrelenting. In the small, all white town that was ironically made up of so many different ethnic backgrounds, Poles and German, Lithuanian and Italian, you stood out like a sore thumb if you weren’t one of them. It was when my mother would come and volunteer at Holy Family in the library. The kids automatically picked up on the difference in her accent and they tortured me with it. She was different, she wasn’t American, they would mock her and I just remember not knowing what to do. I remember it wasn’t just the kids in my class of 15 or 20 students it was the older kids as well, especially the boys, and I still feel that pain to this day. I think I still feel the pain because we as a society are so quick to assume the differences in people, the negative differences, instead of the commonality of our light and our spirit.

I don’t remember ever receiving any comfort from anyone about any of these things. I remember one time in maybe 4th grade we were learning about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims and I asked the teacher “So the first people in America were from England” and she of course said yes and I replied “so we all have English blood in us” I very clearly remember the feeling of vindication I felt in that extremely young and naive moment and it still to this day makes my heart smile knowing I gave myself that moment of comfort.

This feeling of difference remained throughout my time at Holy Family. It’s actually remained throughout my whole life. My parents’ divorce when I was in 5th grade was one of the very first in the school and I felt like even the parents, most of whom carried the same prejudices as their children about my mother, and my father I think, all looked at me differently. It was a catholic community, it was the 70’s and to be honest we were different.

Holy Family was no different for me than probably for any other kid who had circumstances in their lives that were different from what is thought to be the norm. It was the beginning of my journey and I am not at all complaining or have any regrets, those things are counter intuitive to what I know now to be true. I had my best teacher ever there. Mrs. Marzano. She is a memory of comfort, and the girl and her family whom I consider to have been my best friend, Mindy. They were the people in my life that I believe gave me the sense of family that I have built upon to get where I stand about it today.  There is a great fondness that I have when I think of them. The memory is like in a movie and I am standing and looking through a window at a mother and father and their four children sitting down to dinner and everyone is smiling and eager to discuss there day and there is a light that glows above as if  it is holding them all in tight and safe and together. That is how I remember their family. It too is a memory of comfort.

There were other things that happened during this time, a whole life was beginning to be lived with many other characters, I will write what I can remember in the next chapter, I will try hard to remember.