Guided Writing Sessions

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Guided Writing Session: February 9

Thanks to all that joined the session.

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Writing Prompt 1: What aspects of your narrative do you misrepresent, or spin, in order to avoid vulnerability, embarrassment or shame?

Writing Prompt 2: When are you willing to skim off your integrity, or compromise yourself, in order to get what you want? Be specific.

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  1. When are you willing to compromise yourself, to get what you want? Be specific.


It was Bastille Day, 1969.  I’d put myself in the compromising position of wanting to begin life on my own.  I was nineteen.  I’d been home from college a few weeks.  I was assigned chores I hated, like  weeding, and stripping the old wax off the linoleum floor.  Tedious, repetitive tasks with no thought required.  It felt like I’d been sentenced to indentured servitude.  

That was the heart of it.  I felt there were conditions to the welcoming and tender nurturing I’d been promised, as the nuclear family, when I was seven.   My mother’s second marriage was supposed to make my life more comfortable, like the lifestyle I’d been placed in, as fostercare.  I’d adjusted to that  steady life, eventually.  

I think my mother saw my fondness for my fosterors, though I tried hiding it.  I could sense she didn’t want to hear about my time away.   She winced slightly when I spoke of my foster mother.  Did she worry I loved my other-mother more? 

Now I see my mother as adrift in failure.  My brother’s death had sent me into care. She felt judged and labeled bad-mother. Second-rate...Oddly, that’s how I felt about my place in Donald’s family.  I was never enough.  

I thought I’d earn first-class treatment through finding my own way in the world.  I was doing that, or so I thought.  I’d gotten my college scholarship on my own.  Donald didn’t believe in education for women.  Why ever would we need it?, he asked.  Our job was home, sex and babies.

I wanted to return to the freedom of college life.  I’d stopped focusing on classroom lessons.  I was sampling the social life I’d felt blocked from during high school.  

I made plans to visit  Joel, my boyfriend.  We tricked my parents into thinking his mother would supervise.  Joel’s older sister impersonated her mom.  

I was young, missing sex, and wondering if I was in love.  The solution to all my problems seemed waiting for me in “the summer of Love”. I thought  I’d die without it.  The magnitude of my wanting seemed to justify my lies.  

Things moved along easily towards my freedom plan.  When we got to O’hare, Donald came in with me. Odd.  I was set to fly student-standby.  It was announced there weren’t enough seats. My spirits sank.   Before I could process my feelings, Donald spoke.   He had a first class ticket for me.  I jumped at the opportunity, without thinking.  

I’d just settled into my window seat, when my seatmate boarded.  It was Donald.  What was going on?  He said my mother would want him to accompany me to San Francisco.  It seemed a great expense.  A call saying I’d gotten there could do.

Yet I wanted this experience of traveling in style, like I was Princess.  I dismissed my something’s funny sense.  It didn't function.  I’d no conscious recall of Donald’s fumbling night-time visits, during my childhood.  Just a vague discomfort I couldn’t justify.  

Something felt off.  I had no words for it.  I didn’t like it.  

I really wanted to be like the daughters I’d seen on television.  The girls called Princess, honored by their beneficent father.  I wanted that, yet feared it.  I didn’t trust it could be true.  

That trip, I tried on feeling loved as a possibility.  The idea I was being celebrated, simply for being me, beloved daughter.    I ignored his eyes.  I attributed their strange glow to his drinkIng. 

Joel wasn’t due for several hours.  Donald had an hour lay-over before his trip home.  We sat with my duffel bag.  For a second, I thought I saw deep sadness in his eyes.  They clouded over, impenetrable again.  

Then, with six words, Donald knocked the happiness out of me.  Princesshood was over.  He stammered “I want to sleep with you.”  

These words screamed I had no father to protect me.  I remembered Donald, pinching me while smiling, or tickling me,  way past the point of tears. Mind-rapes.  Incidents that said “Your reality does not exist.  Only mine does.”  

The male I needed to fear most was the one called father— that was crazy!  How could it be true?

My instincts said to push my feelings to the side.  My amygdala was sounding. There was  energy coming from his body,  like a nuclear wave blast. I worried he might kill me.  The shining in his eyes wasn’t connected to reality.  I didn't want to believe what was happening, yet I did.  

My mind scrambled for a way out.  A flattery to distract him with. Laughingly, my  voice said “How clever!  You’re checking my virtue.  No worries there.”   I paused, smiling.  When it came to Donald, I could lie.  I had to, for survival. 

Donald suggested we take advantage of the time before his flight left, to rent a car and see the city.  The last thing I wanted was to be alone with him.  I didn’t trust him to drive, with this strange energy.   His eyes seemed unanchored from the world.  He might kill us.

The people nearby seemed not to notice. I felt confused, yet part of me was feeding me instructions of what to do.  A momentary deus ex machina.  

I said  “Let’s call Mom!  Let her know you got me here safely.” My cheery words belied my state.  Within me, both fear and rage had formed.   I’d no time to feel them.  I focused on survival.

My location was known, as well as that he was with me.  These facts would keep me safe. Part of me just wanted to run away.  I hid her in an imaginary closet, while I puppeted my body along. My conversation was an act of ventriloquism. I was two places at once, as both marionette and master.  

I kept my act up until he departed,  My time of terror simultaneously lasted eons yet was over in the blink of an eye.  


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Deleted user

Thank you for this riveting story, Devon. I am impressed with your ability to write about such memories; amazed how much healing you have done by doing so! Bravo! Onwards!

  • Thanks Ro!  I agree that the process we learn here is amazing.  Thanks for witnessing my work.  I’m just back on line after several days of power outage, or I would have replied sooner.