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The Belt of Lies

The Belt of Lies

Some kids tell lies and get told they will go to time-out, some kids are told that they will get a spanking – some even do. My cousins and I were told that if we didn’t shape our shit up, we would get The White Belt with Silver Things on it.

Truth be told, there was a white belt with silver things on it, but it never made contact with my skin. It was ammo, a threat, an “I dare you.”

My mother worked for the head-start program at my elementary school while we still lived in Colorado. For most, “normal” kids, this might compel them to keep some act right in their back pocket. Me? I wasn’t normal.

I am affectionate. I like to touch, hug, kiss, etc. Friend, family, whomever really. I will punch your arm, hug you, touch your cheek in adoration, or brush your hair off your face. I can’t help myself, really.

One afternoon, while I waited for my mother to collect me, I was in an exceptionally weird state. I was in second grade, lacking boundaries, and in the mood for a hug and testing the waters. Margaret, who was probably 5, was not in the mood for a hug. I chased her around my school’s cafeteria, just so I could wrap my arms around her, making her fall out and cry. I was told to knock it off immediately, so I retreated to the stage, dangled my legs over the edge and proceeded to scoop paste from the tub and eat it.

the belt of lies, kids, past life stories, ava truckey

Did I want to eat paste? Not quite. In retrospect it was overwhelmingly obvious that I was having a pay-attention-to-me moment. After some time, the woman with the over-processed frizz framing her face and ill fitting lingerie, PAID attention to me.
Fucking finally – insert eye roll.

She simultaneously jogged and stomped her feet in my direction, snatched the paste covered popsicle stick out of my hand and declared, “THAT IS IT! I’m telling your mother everything”!
Being that my mother worked with children herself and that listening to adults was common knowledge, I did the only thing that seemed the most sensible. I burst out into academy award winning tears, “NOOOOOOOOO! You can’t! She’ll get out The White Belt With Silver Things On It.” The woman froze, a horrified look on her face. “Oh, okay. Um, how long has this been going on? Where does she hit you”?
I lapped it up like a lost kitten lapping up warm milk from your grandmother’s hands. I told her, pouted lips and big-eyed that I couldn’t remember, it had been going on so long…

I got all the there-there’s I had been after. The hair stroking, the hand patting, and the attention I had been seeking was finally there. The problem was that I wasn’t a stupid seven year old. That pit in my stomach that was only there when I had lied or I knew I was in big trouble starting growing up into my throat. This was bad.

Finally my mom came and got me. There were no words from the Frizzy Haired Woman, nobody ratted out my behavior, there was no mention of any belt. Phew, I thought to myself, thank God that’s over.

The next day got off to a fairly normal start. Immediately after lunch I was approached by a gentle looking man in his mid-thirties asking if I was okay with talking with him.
And so it began.
I fixated my eyes onto the floor, between my feet. Gum had been stuck to the shitty, flat school carpet at one point and was now just a black mass. Tears stung the corners of my eyes and that familiar lump in my throat returned. I wasn’t holding back tears because I was finally safe, I was holding them back because I knew I fucked up. Big time.

A slew of questions ensued. How long? How often? By whom? Where?
I knew how large the lie I created had become. But then all I could muster was “I don’t know’s” and “I don’t remember’s.”

When we arrived at our apartment that afternoon there was a business card wedged into the door. The card read something about protective services and my mother whipped around with that what-did-you-do look.
I sank to two inches tall.

The questions at school stopped. About a week later, I arrived at home to see my mother already there. She was curled up on the end of the couch, closest to the sliding glass door that had been cracked. The smoke from her cigarette billowing through the sun rays had casted a screen around her face. I remember thinking of it as a shield that she couldn’t fully see me through. At least I hoped she couldn’t.

She was calm, asking me what had happened at school. If I had any idea why Child Protective Services wanted to talk to her…
She asked if I had any idea what would happen to me if I got taken away? I still played stupid, complete with shoulder shrugs and side-eyes.

I don’t remember too much about the incident after that day. My mother had never spanked me with anything other than her hand and truth be told, I don’t remember a lot of spankings those days. My childhood was backwards in a lot of ways, something I’m grateful for now I suppose.

I remember how horrified I was about being taken away from her. I knew I had fucked up when I lied, but THAT?! Taken AWAY?!
I could never be away from her. After all, the whole situation transpired over a HUG.

Man, I was kind of an asshole.

High for the Holidays

High for the Holidays

Christmas has not always been merry.

I think the majority of the world can attest so I say it matter-of-fact like.

Since I was young, as far back as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of Hallmark. “Lay it on thick” I say! The comfy-cozies, the tree lightings, the music, the whole kit-and-caboodle.

Count. Me. In.

However, that wasn’t the majority of my Christmases growing up. Unfortunately, like most Americans, I sometimes live up to my privileged expectations and often reminisce the negative. One Christmas, a particularly shitty one, stands out.

It was my first year of high school. I was visiting my mother and her then-fiancé in North Dakota. Supposedly, I had been promised, my mother was clean and on the straight and narrow.

That week is a blur. As I begin to write again, I’m realizing that things are hazier than I originally thought. Seemingly vivid memories are hard to put together and I find myself head-scratching.

What I DO remember is what a shit-show my mother was. She was strung-out, pain-killers being the drug of the month, and I could see it a mile away.

Her fiancé was a recovering alcoholic. I don’t have numbers for you, but I remember him being sober for a solid chunk of time. What I remember more is his zero tolerance, how much he really did love her and boy was he duped.

And he knew it.

We went to his father’s house for dinner on Christmas Eve. That too, is mostly fog, except remembering how long my mother was in the bathroom. I got good at playing oblivious even when I was on fire on the inside. I knew exactly what she was doing, because I knew her. She was rifling through the cabinets of her in-law’s bathroom, searching for whatever she could get her hands on.

She got her hands on something, alright.

In the photos that were taken that night, her eyes are pinned, cheeks flushed, the hair around her face starting to look greasy with sweat.

She was high as a kite.

When we got back home, he tore into her while I retreated to the bedroom he had made for me. For a long time I felt bad for him, sometimes I still do after all these years. Just another sucker my mom sucked and she was good at it too. I got used to going to sleep to the sound of my mother weeping for a number of years.

Christmas Eve wasn’t off limits.

The next morning, doing our best to put on nothing-to-see-here faces, we opened presents. The gifts from my mother were somewhat bizarre. They weren’t absolutely alarm-sounding (she was raised by a Stage 4 hoarder and I was used to her eclectic taste) but they were definitely weird. Used thrift store make up, newspaper clippings, costume jewelry, earrings missing their mate.

A crack-head’s grab bag.

I don’t remember the gifts I received from her beau. He had done well for himself and my mother had sniffed that out like she did with all her men the older she got. I don’t remember other than it must have been worth some monetary value, because the next day they were gone.

My mother took them and she pawned them, and not for milk & bread money if you know what I mean.

Aside from my mother’s spastic, strung-out bullshit we all had to endure, I don’t recall much from that Christmas. I remember riding in his truck on the way home from dinner that Christmas Eve. I remember how bitter fucking cold it was and digging my gnawed-on finger nails into the palms of my hands to feel something. I remember silently crying Christmas morning, blankly staring at the tv while Lord of the Rings played. I remember how much I hated her for shitting on my Hallmark dreams.

These days? I love Christmas.

Christmas didn’t wrong me.

Christmas didn’t get my mother high or abandon me or take my shit away. The majority of us struggle around the holidays. Our families suck, we’re broke, we struggle with a wide variety of our own addictions, the list goes on.

The good news? You write your book, your own story, and you have the capacity to change your legacy.

I’m hellbent, man. I mostly stay away from the EXTRA that is the American Christmas these days, but I DO Christmas.

Family traditions? Check.

Decorating? Check.

The music? Check.

The community serving, the cooking, the Christmas activities, the lights. I do things that fill me up, don’t add stress and that I can pass down to Scarlett. I want Scarlett to feel every part of Christmas just as I had longed to really feel Christmas.

I’m not preaching, folks. I’m explaining that I’ve changed my Christmas legacy and you can too.

You want to eat Chinese and swear off stuffy dinners because that’s what your mom made you do and you HATED it? Do it.

You don’t want to break the bank on shit that’s going to end up in the return bin? Excellent.

Do it for you and your re-written legacy.