Ashes of Roses
I hold the
Dried rose petals
Whispering a prayer
I strike a match
To incinerate memories
By words and blows
Out of the
Ashes of roses
My sons called you Aunt Sheesh. You were my sidekick through life; an early birthday gift the year I turned four. I can’t forget having to leave you and our poodle NiNi when I ran away from Mobile, AL in July of 1979. You’re both dead now. I have survivor’s guilt. It’s still hard to write the word dead for the two of you; deaths caused by friendly fire on the battlefield of the family wars.
I flew away in the middle of the night, leaving everything that was precious to me behind, except for my independence. I could not live a prisoner of war, home is a foreign place, an enemy camp. I failed you and NiNi. I could not keep you safe. The grief is deep in my heart for the way you lived the last eleven years and two days of your life. I feel you and NiNi waiting for me. You did nothing that requires my forgiveness.
Dear First Mate V,
You did not want to live without Kabtn Khawaga when he destroyed your world and left you without a backward glance. He physically, verbally, mentally and emotionally abused you, but it was his infidelity that broke you and you finally divorced him. He continues to mentally, emotionally and financially abuse you for what he perceives as your rejection of him. Kabtn wanted his Kate and Edith too. What he’s doing to you is called Coercive Control.
It is time for you to have a good life for yourself again. The best gift you could ever give me is yourself and your illustrations of stories I’m writing about your life. I admire you for your devoted and selfless care of my brain injured sister. You two were abandoned and neglected by Kabtn. Left without financial support, homeless, and zero emotional support from Kabtn and his merry band of fraudsters.
Sadness, anger, hurt. I felt these emotions and more when you told me you tried to kill yourself; not to hurt anyone, but to stop hurting. It felt like you wanted to abandon us too. I did not run away from you, our Mama/Momma. I ran away from V. Now I understand so much more. Please forgive me. I forgive you.
Elements in relation
Daughter’s water douses
Boils daughter’s water
Dear Kabtn Khawaga,
The unforgiveness that burdened me for decades almost killed me. Feeling like I had to prove myself worthy of your love and attention, to not be excluded from your life.
2015. Comprehension of your contempt for your first family. A vengeful storm brewed, wreaking havoc in my spirit. Spewing toxins like an oilfield, poisoning my environment. We three females of your first family were only discards in your poker hand. I wanted you to pay with the only currency that matters in your world. Cold, hard CA$H. Dollars earned by any means necessary. Your money is blood money, earned with the life of my sister and the shattering that created V. V. Protector of our mother, found guilty of loving and believing in you.
Dangled carrots, bloody turnips. You, Kabtn; dropping in and out of my life, on a whim. 2007. You realized I was no longer buying your lies and bankrupting myself in the process. You tried to drop back out when I returned to America after my visit to your family home in Alexandria, Egypt. I fight for my family, Kabtn. Your sister the Bulldog and your fourth wife the Diva hide you behind their skirts. You like to keep your harem stirred and fighting, it keeps them distracted while you do whatever floats your boat. In the days before my departure from your home in Alex, I felt the freeze as you retreated, turning colder. I watched in disbelief when you ” played” with Sunny the way you “played” with me. Diva was there the three times I witnessed it, but you were so brazen the last time…outside, in the ground floor flat’s garden. Under the window of the Atelier owned by Sadat’s family. The gates had bars and we were at the corner of two busy streets. People looked through those bars at the Khawaga married to his Alexandrian Diva. This time, I knew why. I found all I needed to know about you as the Familiar Stranger, the International Deadbeat Dad.
You are Kabtn Khawaga in my memoir. I am your Khawaga Kid. The daughter holding onto the grief of my dead family; I was destroying not only myself, but the lives of my loved ones. I end this letter with words that lead to healing for the health of my family. Please forgive me. I forgive you.
Aswan in August
Boarding our felucca
To cruise the Nile
You point to a word
“What does that say?”
You ask. I reply
“Captain spelled Kabtn”
A good memory
Of a good day
The word game
A man once called Daddy
Played with his first daughter
Part 2. This story was finished on December 7, 2018. The author is a work in progress. 🙂
You must not only survive after catastrophe and trauma, you must extend yourself; thrive, flourish, nourish, sustain, maintain. Cultivate your own seeds of faith and patience garden. Stand up for yourself, especially when you stand alone. Respect other people; expect respect in return. Someone who does not respect you has no place in your life. Have NO CONTACT with the perpetually dysfunctional and/or the perpetrators of abuse. Realize that if a pattern of abuse is working for them, they are highly unlikely to change of their own volition. They may say things like, “If you really loved me, you would want to be in my life.” Remain silent, do not engage in their quest for negative attention. Any response gives them their “fix.” The truth is, if they respected you and your personal boundaries, they would change their behavior toward you. Accept the fact that some people will never change. If you want change, be the change. Make waves when waves are necessary.
Give thanks and be grateful. I am thankful for the opportunity to write today, practicing the Art of Becoming. Become beautiful from the inside out. Contrary to popular opinion, appearance is NOT everything. Sometimes beauty is only on the surface. Choose a beauty that endures and grows within. What will you have left when your “youthful beauty” fades? Always be willing to change when circumstances deem change necessary. Bend but don’t break. Become fluid, like water; no longer petrified like a piece of wood turned to stone.
November 27, 2017. I was homeless, jobless. I was no spring chicken. The security and stability of the safest home I ever had went up in a puff of smoke. That morning, I was filled with hope that the dysfunction and effects of trauma, abuse, coercive control, were losing the battle for my family, my very life. By nightfall, I was in a state of grief and shock, unable to comprehend the sudden devastation. I had to let go to hold on, focusing on the changes necessary in my woman’s heart. Healing must begin with myself before I can help anyone else.
The Sea of Humanity calls me; it is my last day on IsLand. I found my buried treasure and I wrote my own message on the Wall of Words. I cross the Pool of Reflection and gaze one final time into the Inside Out Mirror. I have no idea if my hair looks perfect, or if the outfit I’m wearing makes me look fat. Inside, I see the true beauty of a joyful, forgiven and forgiving woman’s heart. I can leave the cave called UrHere since I have crossed the abyss to the other side of dysfunction.
Words written in sand were words that had to be acknowledged, but not memorialized. I leave them here on the shore of IsLand to be washed away by the tides of time; they have served their purpose and will only sink me. I push my canoe into the waters and paddle away. Looking forward, not back, I wave.
Enjoying life and feeling joy in simple things is still very important in my life. This morning I want to share some of my mushroom pictures from this past week.
Even in the midst of personal problems, when you feel small and unnoticed, know that you are not alone. Find something to bring you out of yourself and back into the world. Walks in nature do this for me. I always feel better after I clear my head in the great outdoors
Sometimes, you have to allow happiness to find you in little ways when there is no great happiness in sight. Feeling helpless and hopeless makes and keeps people sick.
Personal experience has taught me to create my own action where there’s been no action. When you hear, “There’s nothing you can do.” don’t believe it. Your life experience can be an important way to connect with others who feel isolated and alone, scared, intimidated, humiliated, exploited, worthless.
Creating the Coastal Coercive Control Coalition, aka C4, during Domestic Violence Awareness month is how I decided to fight for my own right to live abuse free and also share my journey to wholeness. Naysayers, get out of my way!
This is the poem on my sister’s grave:
A Prayer for the Helpless
Let me be a voice
For the speechless
Those who are small and weak
Let me speak
For all helpless creatures
Who have no power to speak
I have lifted my heart
On behalf of the least of these
I am voicing their pleas
If I can help any creature
Respond to a desperate call
I will know that
My prayers have been answered
By the God who created
Often we try to separate our personal lives from our spiritual lives. Many see Jesus as a way to Heaven and the solution to spiritual problems, but they fail to see that He is the solution to all of life’s problems.
We don’t have to be prominent in the world’s eyes to be an influential person. Through your example and testimony, you can help others understand who Jesus Christ is and what it looks like to live for Him.
Daniel was a godly influence not only on his friends but also on kings. Even as a youth, he was committed to obeying God’s law. When Daniel was offered food from the Babylonian king’s table, he requested vegetarian meals instead, to comply with Jewish dietary restrictions. His commitment to the Lord outweighed any fear of reprisal for rejecting the royal provisions. And God protected Daniel by giving him favor with his overseer.
Most of us won’t have an opportunity to influence global leaders but our example can impact a workplace, neighborhood, home, or future generations. A godly example is rooted in obedience to Scripture because it’s the source of wisdom. In a world tossed about by upheaval, fear, uncertainty, pandemic, our confidence in the Lord stands out and influences those around us.
I have chosen to be honest about my life behind closed doors. The truth of family dysfunction, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and in the course of my own healing, I pray that sharing my knowledge gained through decades of experience will fulfill the mission of my new endeavor called…
The Coastal Coalition on Coercive Control. Awareness. Education. Prevention. Prosecution.
I called her yesterday because I rescheduled my appointment in town. I bake a pan of cornbread for her and she freezes it. Despising V does not keep me from loving our Mama/Momma.
I call my mother our Mama/Momma in my writing because her girls spelled it differently. When I write to her on cards, letters, gifts, I spell her name Mama. When Sheila wrote to her on cards, letters, gifts, she spelled her name Momma. Yes. To me her name is Mama and Mama is another word for love.
But that V!!! Anyway, I knew I had to let her know so she wouldn’t be waiting and wondering about me and her cornbread. Our conversation went well. I really do miss my Mama….
Khawaga Kid. My memoir. I can write freely now, not blocked by the last secret. The secret of V.