I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. (Psalm 77:1-2) ............................................ A journal chronicling my struggle as a woman, to find my way out of an abusive relationship, and to find myself again.

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Location: Georgia, United States

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Drama Queen?

The day Tessa drowned, I ran to Dale on the beach, grabbed him -- or maybe he grabbed me -- and we hung on to each other. I don't know how long. There was no time. And then it seemed I just didn't have the strength even to cling to him. I don't know what happened, really, but I lost my grip and my legs wouldn't hold me. Dale tried to hang on to me, but I just slid down and away, onto the sand. I vaguely remember someone identifying herself as a nurse, talking about being "in shock", taking my pulse. My Tessa getting CPR, me on the sand.

I feel so close to that scene, so often. But there's no one to hold on to, and so no one to lose my grip on. You can't just go outside and fall down. You can't sink to the floor in the grocery store, although I suppose some sweet someone would come and check your pulse, maybe put a cool cloth on your forehead.

But I'm not Scarlett O'Hara, I don't get the vapors, and I did, sooner rather than later, get myself up from the warm sand and follow the ambulance to the hospital. I made the phone calls, greeted those who joined our vigil, ate, drank, sometimes slept. When arrangements had to be made, I made them. I picked the casket, obviously made for a Tessa-sized girl. Pink embossed velvet on the outside, pink satin inside. And so small. When the clothes had to be washed, I washed them. When the children had to be fed, I fed them. When they needed to talk, I listened.

Oh, the drama! Sometimes my kids accuse me of that. Was that dramatic? Yes, our very own Jessica-in-the-well, just not as much media, and no happy ending.

When someone notable or important goes to jail in handcuffs and leg chains, everyone wants to vicariously live the drama. Note: Scott Peterson, Martha Stewart, Susan Smith.

Note: Emily is in jail. It may be a kids' jail, but it is most certainly jail. But I don't think anyone will be interviewing her family, friends and teachers for national media. No, this is our personal drama, and who gives a rat's ass? Maybe the national spotlight is a great thing, really. You get to hang on to someone as you slowly lose your grip, and no one calls you a drama queen.

Tessa was just as precious as Jessica-in-the-well, just as beautiful as Susan Smith's boys. Emily is just as notable as Martha Stewart, to me.

Add to that the fact that it is August 16, and all I have is a bit of change in my pocket, little gas in the car, I have to take Dale to the pain clinic tomorrow for injections in his back and pick Abby up from school, and I want some fucking cigarettes so fucking badly. There. Drama. You'd probably like me if I was on the 6:00 news. Or most likely, not. If you saw me stoic, you'd say I was a heartless bitch, poor Emily. If you saw me fall, you'd call me theatrical, poor Emily. You'd wonder if I was faking it, like dear, sweet Susan Smith.

So many theories on why self-abusers self-abuse. That's so stupid, because it's so simple, really. There's no one to hang on to, and no place to fall.

(She says, hand to forehead, with a sigh.)

And Dale's still checking out beach front apartments in Florida.



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