Broke at the Gate
Written by
Rhonda Talbot
July 2012
Written by
Rhonda Talbot
July 2012

“The past is never dead. It’s not even Past”  Faulkner
Life was never very good and neither was I.
I will never feel safe. You can’t when your biggest fear is losing your mind. Instead you mimic behavior of people that seem fearless, successful and undamaged.
This story is a story about survival, not the kind where you are stuck on a mountainous cliff and starve for 28 days, then live, but the kind where you are stuck in a filthy ditch, starve for many years and live.
Even prosper.
I have to believe over the course of our lives that despite our best efforts to eradicate certain talismans that cling around our necks, passed down to us by earlier generations, they are here to stay, often for good reason.  Embedded forever. Whatever the reason, that is your lot, to wade through life, grappling with this force that out does you. An unseen energy; sinister, devious and mocking with this voice, “You can’t win. Why are you even trying?”  
The collective theory from educators, pop gurus and learned psychiatrists is to shake off the past, as though dust from an old attic, and just live in the moment. Yet, living in the moment while being choked by the past is not exactly a pleasant way to go about it, shamming your way along, pretending to see when you are blind.  Yes, quite dangerous.
For many years, I did not know the past, underneath my own, that netherworld from whence I sprung; this mysterious darkness no one ever spoke of.  I knew as early as age four, a black cloud of evil hovered over my family. Sometimes I saw this cloud, like the insistent cluster of bugs that often congregate on otherwise pristine beaches. No amount of swatting makes them disappear.
The older I became, the faster I would try to out run this thing.  But there is no running from your own dark shadow. Nonetheless I tried. I have triathlon medals to prove it. I was congratulated on my strength, perseverance, admired for my indefatigable energy.  They had no idea the accolades were not my goal. Not one bit.
When I learned more of the truth, finally, in my early 20’s, some blanks were indeed filled in, but with each bit of information came an avalanche of unknown discoveries.  Knowing certain knowledge, all of it, in its gory, ugly detail, the knowing of it, did not suddenly clear the skies, reveal the sun and cast me into the light. It was more like a translucent curtain had been tacked over my soul. A temporary measure that alleviated some of the pain, some of the mystery, but overall felt flimsy at best.
Armed with more knowledge did nothing more than destroy any fantasy I held onto to achieve normalcy, my dreams were put under a spotlight, examined, laughed at and ultimately put to rest.  All that time and effort trying to “fit in” “get a life” and “pretend to be human” essentially wasted.
Over a short period of time, more dread set in, there was no way out, I was going to be dragged to hell with the rest of the lot. Inherited evil does not go away. Ever.  But I preferred this truth than the long phony stretch of make believe.  I could give in to it, but not give up. What became quite clear was this: my children did not have to inherit any of it.  They would be unscathed. That was my purpose. To unlink the terror.
When you start out at, say at dirt level, and make your way up the middle of a tree, it feels successful, yet all around you live tree top dwellers as though that were a simple thing.  There they were perched, thriving, seemingly without a care or worry, knowing how to live life and live it well. I would never get to the top of any tree to be any kind of normal.
When I aspired to climb further up, marking my body with deep scratches and scars, I soon lost all strength, often the will to live.   There was no further climbing to be done.
At 21, a successful tree top dweller said to me: “You are like a prized race horse, rare and baffling in your agility, poise and ease at winning, then you finally get to the Kentucky Derby, the hands-down favorite, the big money, the 2-1 bet, a shoe-in,  everyone is there to see you, to profit from you, the gun goes off, cheers go up, then you unexpectedly break at the gate out of sheer exhaustion. No one knew you had already been running for years at an uncanny speed in order to enter the gate.”  Then he wanted to fuck me. 

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