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That Pig Ornament On Our Mantel

Growing up, my mother was obsessed with christmas, or, more accurately, she was obsessed with attempting to recapture the feeling that christmas used to give her when she was a child and her life hadn’t descended into the all encompassing masking of her depression and unhappiness being forced into a marriage that was nothing more than a mere state recognized version of “babysitter” for my stepdads kids and ended up becoming addicted to pain medication. But ya know, yay christmas.

Anyway, every single December, she’d bring out box after box of christmas decorations, up to and including things like a small reindeer that pooped brown M&Ms by pushing on it, a Beatles Yellow Submarine tree ornament and a Santa holding a chalkboard where you can write how many days left until the magical morning. The most memorable one to me, however, was one we got before she even married me stepfather. It was (I’m assuming ceramic, I am sorry I am not more informed) a pig laying on its side, with a wreath around its neck, and it had a big grin on its face. It wasn’t cartoonish in the least, it was very realistic, and it sat on our mantel place every single christmas.

I’m not entirely sure why this one is so ingrained in my mind, as if it’s been branded on my brain like a mark onto a cow hide, but it is nonetheless. My stepfather dumped my mother on christmas eve after 12 years of marriage, the same christmas that was the first without my grandmother, who’d died soon before. My mother stopped putting ornaments out after the divorce for the most part, but the pig always made an appearance, and while I probably haven’t seen this ornament in over a decade now at the least, I can still recall it perfectly.

I think the reason I remember it is because to me it, it is the physical manifestation of how I think my mother felt about the holiday in the end, even after the good times associated with it were over. Much like a pig is happy slopping around in its own shit, she was happy being in a holiday that had turned to such shit because of the good memories it brought to her. I think there’s some clarity in that, which says a lot considering how much clarity she lacked when it came to damn near everything else.

When I was a little girl, my grandma used to give me advent calendars during December. I haven’t had an advent calendar in a long, long time (likely even a while before she died), just as I hadn’t really celebrated christmas much until I spent it with my girlfriend at her parents place the last few years. We decorated a tree and everything, and we had an actual christmas with her family there. While I still don’t like the holiday the way I did as a kid, I still can’t forget that goddamned pig. Sometimes I wonder where that pig is, if my mother even still has it or it broke or she threw it out. In the last few years especially, pigs have become some of my favorite animals, so it only makes it harder not to think about it.

Wherever you are, christmas pig, I hope you’re okay. At least one of us can still enjoy this holiday, and thanks for teaching me to try and enjoy what’s happening to me, even if it is utter shit.

[This is a repost of a Medium article.]

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I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I’ve done, like my 2015 novel “You Ruined Everything”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

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Milly & The Ghost: A Novel

https://payhip.com/b/1rui

A novel I wrote in 2016 is finally available, just in time for Halloween! Just kidding, it’s not spooky. It WILL make you cry though.

(2016) Milly Barnes is 11 years old and just lost her mother. After she tries hurting herself, her father becomes worried for her mental health, but she quickly finds solace in a new friend at school named Velma, a young artist named Chad, and a ghost living in her house named Milton, who says he just wants to help her. MILLY & THE GHOST is a story about losing what was the most important thing in your life, and doing whatever is necessary to keep moving forward, even if it means believing in something others might not. (53k words)
Anyway, there ya go. I’d be VERY appreciative if you bought/read this book. I’m also running a special over at my Patreon right now where if you sign up for the $5 dollar and up tier, you will receive a 10% off coupon for the book, plus other goodies! Anyway, enjoy!

Buy My Book!  Support Me Via Patreon! Donate To Our GoFundMe!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

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They Used To Be Nice

I was cleaning some papers from my time in school recently and come across two different e-mails my mother and stepfather sent to a woman who was dealing with my cases at school regarding my mental health and whatnot. The first comes from my stepfather, and was sent in 2005. It reads:

As you know per our phone conversation last week, both my wife and I were very disappointed with the results from our daughters IEP meeting on Monday, at [REDACTED], at which you attended. But honestly, we were just as disappointed in your own services. At our initial meeting, you led us to believe that you knew how to take care of the issues that we were concerned with, You stated that you have dealt with many school districts before, in vases that may not have been exactly the same but were similar to ours. You said there shouldn’t be any problems finding the correct educational laws that would apply, and we should be able to come to a happy resolution with [REDACTED]. You gained our trust.

Then, my wife dropped some papers with [REDACTED], case manager at the school, and ended up having an impromptu meeting concerning our daughter. Also attending was [REDACTED], our daughters counselor, and a school psychologist who has worked with our daughter. My wife informed them that we had an advocate, and their response was that an advocate would not know the laws pertaining to the school or the school system and that it was a waste of money on our part. My wife spoke to you that day, informed you of what they said, and you told her not to worry, that you would be studying the law books that very day.

We spoke the next week, at which time you told us you had found the correct law that applies to our case, and everything would be taken care of at the following IEP meeting. Once the meeting started, you began by reading the code section that you had found. [REDACTED], the program specialist, informed us that the school was a Title 1 school and because of this, to the best of my understanding, it received federal and state grants, and thus the code section you found did not entirely apply at this time, but that the school system was “working on being able to comply in the next couple years”. You dropped it by that point. The rest of the meeting was just a battle of wills because the school officials, my wife, my daughter and I. Where was this supposed advocate that we hired to speak in our place?

Upon our phone conversation last week, you informed me that you had not known that the school was a Title 1 school, and even apologized for it. We trusted you to do your research, not only in the educational laws, but also in the school district, especially after their warning that you not know the laws that pertained to this school. We trusted that you would know what questions to ask, and be totally prepared for this meeting. Instead, you dropped the ball and left us fending for ourselves. Yes, we came up with a plan for our daughter, for home schooling, but that was on the table before you were ever hired.

Not only did you betray our trust, but you caused us to betray our childs trust in us. After we initially met, we told her everything would be taken care of, and not to worry. We told her that again after you informed us that you had found the correct law for a case like this. Now we have all let her down. I find it irresponsible to accept a clients trust in issues like this that are so important to a childs welfare, if you are not able to follow through. We will be notifying [REDACTED] to inform them that we do not think you should be trusted to be an educational advocate, We paid you 500 dollars. I don’t know how, in good conscious, you can ask us to pay another 316 dollars. I feel like I should be asking you for our money back.”

Then, I found my mothers email to the same woman, which reads:

I have been so angry since my daughters IEP, I have not been able to call you to tell you these things person to person. I am appalled at your performance and your technique as our advocate.

First of all, you PROMISED us that you found these laws to accomplish the goal we were after, but you did not do the homework necessary to know that [REDACTED] is a Title 1 school, and that these laws do not actually apply. My disappointment is not my main concern. I am a big girl and can deal with it. My daughter, on the other hand, had so much faith in you and you let her down. She is now so worried that she will not graduate and go to college. She is even more sure now that she will quit school than she has ever been before. I cannot even mention your name around her or talk about it at all.

The extra anxiety that you have added to her life by dropping the ball at this meeting and letting [REDACTED] walk all over you, has been a  major source of stress in our life. I could have handled the meeting myself as I have done in the past.

I don’t know how you can feel you advocated for my daughter when you did nothing more than talk big game and then accomplish none of what you said you would. If this is how you do business, then I feel sorry for anyone you have been with, or may be, hired by in the future. And if you think it is right to charge us more money to have been at this meeting when you accomplished absolutely nothing, then you surely have no concern for these children or their families. I’m not sure how much I want to do to prevent you from doing the same thing to anyone else in the future, but don’t be surprised if you hear that I have pursued that avenue further. And if you feel that we still owe you that additional balance, you can bill us again.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This makes my parents sound fantastic. Look how involved they were! Look at their anger, how much they care! But there’s two things I took away from this.

The first one is notice how they talk about how my anxiety from it brings them stress. Notice how they both bring up the additional fee she charged them. Yes, she certainly didn’t do her job, and they should’ve been mad, but they were mad for THEM, not for ME, alright? They were mad that now I was even worse, and thus putting more stress on them because of it, because they only ever cared about themselves, and they were mad that they had to pay even more money because of it. Had they genuinely cared about me, they wouldn’t have said either of those things in the e-mail, especially if they knew I might have my hands on them down the road.

The second thing I took away from this is something I’ve been leaning for a while now, and that is that just because an abuser does something seemingly good doesn’t erase all the pain they caused you. Recovery is hard, and it’s hard to not feel like you’re simply blaming others for your own problems instead of yourself. But no, this erases and changes absolutely nothing. And just because they may, in some small way, felt bad for me, they were more thinking of themselves. They were embarrassed that the school was right, they were mad they wasted money and were pissed that this was going to continue causing them stress. They never used to be nice. They just, at a certain point, stopped pretending to be, especially since at a certain point, I wasn’t a “kid” anymore and so they had no reason to pretend to care, and instead just blame me for not getting my shit together, despite all the evidence I had multiple learning disorders and mental health problems. I guess it’s easier to just be an abusive piece of shit instead of putting on this facade that you’re something else.

You are not responsible for your parents behavior, and just because they either pretended to, or did genuinely every now and then, care about you doesn’t make all the terrible things they did go away or become less terrible. That’s been the single hardest thing for me to accept in my road to recovery. I keep thinking every day that things are really bad, and things aren’t great, it’s true, but god, after looking at some of these papers and remembering what my life was like back then…

…I’m way more of a whole person away from them than I EVER was with them.

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I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

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Sadie Says Goodbye To The Classroom

technologiesShe hadn’t been in the classroom since she’d last spoken to Miss Rogers. She’d actually planned on coming back and teaching in this very room, but with the school being sold and torn down, that was no longer a viable option. Sitting here, on her old desk, in her 4th grade classroom, Sadie could remember every single moment of her childhood clear as a bell.

She could remember the way Miss Rogers smelt when she leaned down to help her with a math problem, or the way the laughter of the students used to fill the classroom when they’d watch a movie every Friday afternoon. She longed to go back to these days. No other days in her childhood, just these days, in this classroom. Sadie stood up and walked to the desk where Miss Rogers used to sit and touched it with her fingertips, picking up lots of dust. She smiled as she remembered how she used to bring an apple to her once a week, thinking that was what you brought your teacher, and then the one time she brought her an entire box of chocolates during Valentines Day. She felt embarrassed because nobody else got the teacher anything, but Miss Rogers seemed pretty appreciative, and her smile…god her smile.

This was where Sadie became the person she would be for the rest of her life. Discovering the things she really loved, like reading and teaching, and how badly she wanted to be a teacher herself one day. This was where Sadie learned that how others felt about her didn’t matter so long as she believed in herself. This was where Sadie had learned she had a crush on her 4th grade teacher. This classroom was her life, her home away from home, and soon it’d be nothing more than a pile of rubble. The best years of her youth were spent here, and where would she spend the best years of her adult life? Certainly not where she was right now, living in a tiny one bedroom apartment, pining over her next door neighbor, the pretty brunette with the blue streaks in her hair and always smiled at her when they saw one another. No. She needed something more, something equal to this classroom. She’d thought about staging a protest; handcuffing herself to the desk leg or something dramatic like that, but she knew it wasn’t a good idea. She did want to get hired as a teacher eventually.

Sadie walked over to the chalkboard and ran a broken, run down piece of chalk along it, writing her name in cursive, and then over to the rack where they hung their coats and then to the cubby hole where they stuck their bags. God. This all seemed so fresh, like it’d just happened. Nothing else seemed so fresh. Is that what makes your best memories your best memories? Because you can recall them so vividly, comparatively to everything else? Perhaps. And what she’d give to speak to Miss Rogers again, just one more time. Tell her how her crush on her teacher allowed Sadie to realize it was okay for a girl to like girls, and that she inspired her to become a teacher herself. But that was also impossible. Miss Rogers had been in that car accident a few years back, and the last thing she’d ever told Sadie through their various e-mails while Sadie was at college was, “lol this cat is so stupid!!!”

The emails stopped coming, and soon enough Sadie heard the news, and was understandably devastated. You rarely get over your first major crush, but much more rarely do they DIE. This hurt on a number of levels. The first person she’d ever liked and the person who inspired her to choose her career was gone, and she’d never gotten around to thanking her for either. And now? Now her classroom would be gone as well. It wasn’t bad enough she herself had been ripped violently from this mortal coil, apparently, no. They had to rip her classroom from it as well. She sighed and then walked over to the rack, took her coat and walked to the cubby, took her purse and then stopped at Miss Rogers desk and placed her hand on the top of it, a few tears finally escaping and rolling down her eyes.

“Thank you,” Sadie whispered, before leaving.

Sometimes a room doesn’t even have to belong to a house to have had an enormous impact on you. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a classroom as well. She knew the demolition was scheduled for a few hours from now and figured she’d go grab lunch, come back and take a seat to watch it. This way it’d be a clean break from her past, and maybe she could finally move on towards her future.

Buy My Book!  Support Me Via Patreon! Donate To Our GoFundMe!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

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Close To Monsters #30

CTM03

This weeks comic is brought to you by the fact that you are nothing but an amalgamation of all your parents flaws and problems.

Wanna write your own caption for this comic strip? Then head on over to my Patreon, where for a mere 25 dollars a month, you not only get all the previous rewards, but also get the write a caption for one of these, and get credited for it!

Buy My Book!  Support Me Via Patreon!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

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This One Goes Out To You

Wanna hear quite possibly the most ironic thing of all time?

When I was a little girl, my mother used to play a lot of music in the house and in the car. I have to give my mother some credit for exposing me to a lot of media and helping widen my knowledge of pop culture, especially when it comes to music, so. One day, the song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns ‘N Roses came on, and I can’t remember where we were or what the situation was, but I distinctly recall her saying to me:

This was the song your father and I picked for you. This is your song.

If you’ve read my blog, and you know anything about my parents, my childhood, my relationship with my family or anything pertaining to that, you’d recognize this statement as full on fucking hilarious. Like, Emmy Award Winning Best Writing in a Comedy Series type of hilarious because it evokes so much foreshadowing and irony that nothing beats it. My parents are NOT the kind of people who believe in the lyrics portrayed in this song.

My mother, back in the day, was fairly okay. It wasn’t until she really got re-married when I was about 8 and started living with a psychologically abusive stepdad that she took a turn for the worse. There was a time when she was rather enjoyable and loving, but that all quickly changed and now, no matter how much she swears up and down she has changed, I cannot believe a word of it because I’ve been at the firing line firsthand. My father has never cared about me, at least not outside the abstract sense. He cares that someone exists who will carry on his last name (Taylor is not actually my last name), but seeing as I’m infertile, there’s hilarity in that as well. He has rarely reached out to talk since I was a young adult and often left me wildly depressed and disappointed as a little girl. I was usually nothing more than a bargaining chip between the two of them growing up, especially for my father, and it’s taught me to be extremely wary of people in general when they say they care for me.

When you dedicate a song to someone, you do it because you honestly, genuinely believe that song encapsulates how you feel towards the person you’re dedicating it to. We’ve all heard it said, that couple that goes, “Oh, this is OUR song!”. The song they play at their wedding, that they had on the radio on their first date or something. That one tune. But to dedicate a song, especially one as ultimately schmaltzy as “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, to your newborn daughter and then turn around and abuse her for years to come is completely insulting to the entire concept of dedicating songs to people. I mean, imagine taking lyrics like this:

I hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain

and turning right around and inflicting that pain on your own child. You hate to see an ounce of pain? Then stop fucking hurting me. I know. I know. Every kid grows up to hate their parents and eventually realizes how much they loved them and blah blah blah. No. Some kids actually grew up in a broken fucking home. My home might’ve been lavish and we might’ve had money, but that didn’t make it any less goddamned broken, alright? My parents often fought about me right in front of my bedroom door so I’d feel bad, they often allowed my stepsiblings to make fun of me openly without defending me one bit, they often made fun of me THEMSELVES, which was hilarious, given that I actually put in the effort to get to know my stepfather and we shared more of the same common interests than his own children shared with him, and yet he STILL treated me poorly. Gee, I wonder why I don’t get close to people anymore? Hey, Maggie, why don’t you open up and let people in? Because if my body is a temple, then you fuckers are here to desecrate it.

…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get that emotional. I’m just sometimes in utter awe at the fact that people can be that two faced. That deceptive, especially to themselves about themselves. I was a scared, somewhat challenged little girl. All I wanted was a mom and a dad, any dad, who loved me. Who believed in me. Who supported me. Who wanted to be with me. You know what the end result in this is? By dedicating that song to me, and then not following through on loving me themselves, sometimes it feels like Guns ‘N Roses loved me more because, oh, it’s MY song. Think about that. I’m a 28 year old woman now, and I have a more parental connection to a fucking 80s rock ballad than to my own paternal figures. How is that ok.

I am nobodies sweet child.

Especially not yours, mom and dad.

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The Name Tape

s-l1600When I was a little girl, one of the things my mother got me was this tape. It was blue, and it had your name on it, and about 5 songs in total. I was able to find a picture of it. Now, granted, my name isn’t Kevin, nor am I a boy, but this was the only image I was really able to find of these things.

I had a walkman, and I often listened to music when going out somewhere because the noises of society would be far too overwhelming and often distress me. I have very clear memories of sitting in front of our air conditioner in the mornings before my mom woke up, listening to this tape on repeat. Why? Because the songs on these tapes made me feel special, like someone had created it just for me, because kids are dumb and believe stupid shit like that. But, there’s another reason why it hit me so hard, and that’s because I had nobody else telling me I was special, at least not for some other reason, like academically or whatever.

See, when I was very young, I was often told I was bright or articulate or special because I had excellent memory, could recite entire stories at the drop of a dime and did fairly well in school, and thus a ton of praise was heaped on me. But nobody ever told me I was special just. for. being. ME. I know. I know. I can hear the hateful masses clammoring to be the first to tell me, “Waaah! The ‘everyone gets a trophy’ generation didn’t get pampered enough!”, yeah yeah, whatever. Fuck off. First of all, as kids, we didn’t create that concept, okay? That was for the parents so they didn’t have to deal with their kids crying because they didn’t also win something, alright? Our parents created that shit, not us, okay? And secondly, yes, being told you’re special as a child, especially when you’re a child like me, would’ve actually been very helpful because when someone tells you long enough that you’re NOT special, guess what? It decimates your self esteem and you stop ever being able to believe in yourself, and being that I never understood why everyone was mean to me or didn’t like me, it made me feel absolutely worthless, because nobody was telling me I’m special even without those strangers acceptance, and that I just need to focus on believing in myself.

Believe it or not, that shit MATTERS.

So I would listen to this tape, because this tape at least believed I was special for just being me, and that was something. Here were these singers who, despite obviously paid to do this, were telling me that I was actually special. That I did matter. And for fragile broken 6 year old me, that meant the WORLD. Nostalgia is a fickle beast. Some shows I rewatch from my childhood, they really don’t give me the same feelings I had when I watched them originally. It’s cool to rewatch them, but it does ultimately nothing for me beyond the “enjoyment” factor. But this tape…I can go on youtube and listen to the songs (granted not with my name in them), and it’s like a punch to the gut. I nearly start crying. It all comes rushing back to me for just a half hour and afterwards I feel so much better, so much more grounded.

In the end, a cassette tape raised me more than my family, and there’s a lot to be said about that.

Buy My Book!  Support Me Via Patreon!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!