*~aww, 4/16/14, it does not define me~*

Pepe and I arrived at the Muddy Creek Greenway. We parked in the small gravel parking area on Robinhood Road. Pepe sat beside me in the passenger seat as my copilot. He gazed out his window; I'm sure he was eager to walk and sniff and make his marks letting other critters know, Pepe was here!

He looked at me with his hazel eyes...filled with trust. "I love you too, Pepe," I responded.

I climbed out of the driver's side of the 1999 gray Ford Explorer. I walked around the vehicle and opened Pepe's door. "Stay," I commanded firmly as I donned my green parka and my multi-jewel-toned woven cotton scarf. The weather was cool today. Pepe obediently waited like he knew I had his safety in mind. I clasped his leash onto his collar, picked him up, and placed him all fours on the gravel. Pepe is a small dog, white and fluffy, probably some sort of miniature poodle mix. He reminds me of a little human boy, always in discovery mode.

We made our way down the small gravel parking area onto the paved Greenway. The Beatles were singing "here comes the sun" through my Bluetooth earpiece. The sky was crystal blue and the sun bright; the time was around 5:00 PM.

My body felt heavy as I moved along. Thoughts meandered through my mind.

The movie "Gravity" that I saw last night in 3D at the $2.50 theater - when Ryan Stone was losing oxygen; I could hear her wheeze. I could feel the fluid build up in her lungs. I know what that feels like...to not be able to breathe. When Ryan Stone was back on earth, after landing in the water and finally making her way to solid ground, her legs wouldn't work at first. I could feel that too...I know what it's like to pull myself out of the water wherein my limbs are buoyant and then non-buoyant as they hit the air. Neuropathy can cause one's limbs to feel so very heavy.

I joined the YWCA last week and started a water exercise program. On my first visit to my first water class, I climbed into the pool from a side wall, instead of using a ladder. I was instructed I need to use the ladder when getting in and out. At the end of my the class, I struggled while using the ladder as I climbed out of the water. My arms were barely strong enough to pull my body weight up as my non-buoyant body hit the atmosphere.

Pepe and I walked along the Greenway. Absorbed in my thoughts, I didn't notice the heaviness of body as much. Thoughts continued to meander.

I've again been pulled back into reading and thinking and conversing about and writing about cults. I wonder what some people think when they read my blog. Do they think I'm 'stuck' in my cult past? Does my past define me? I really don't like it when people say things like, "My illness does not define me," or "Such and such trauma does not define me."

My life lived defines me. That includes all of it...from jimson weed to my children to my marriage to my decades in The Way to the illnesses to my dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

I wish that was what defined me, that dream of thru-hiking the AT...that somehow the dream will turn into a reality.

More thoughts regarding Victor Barnard...and influence...and The Way...and...

On March 1, after learning about two young women that had come forward about their experiences with Victor Barnard and River Road Fellowship, I published a blog entry. Back in the 1980s, Victor Barnard was associated with The Way International; he is a Way Corps 14 graduate.

Victor Barnard again made the news this past week. As of April 11, 2014, Barnard is a wanted fugitive in a nationwide manhunt. Hopefully, the search will prove successful and Barnard will be found.

On April 15, at around 11:30 in the morning, I learned about Barnard's April 11 warrant. Apparently, the news had just been made public. At that time, I found only one article regarding Barnard's warrant; it stated he had 59 sexual misconduct charges against him. As the afternoon of April 15 rolled along, the media machine and world wide web got the information out to the public. Over the subsequent couple days, more details have been forthcoming. There has been a flood of articles and news clips.

I've read, and read, and read.

I've watched and listened.

I've weighed and Wayed...inside my heart and mind...weighing some of the similarities between Victor Barnard's abuses and past abuses of certain Way leaders.

And I've thought....

Victor Barnard used the scriptures to justify followers meeting the sexual needs of the "man of God." Wierwille, The Way's founder, did the same; and Wierwille taught Martindale, Wierwille's successor. Certain top Way leaders had an inner circle teaching that adultery was okay; to my knowledge that part of Way history is still hidden from loyal Way followers. Wierwille taught that every woman under King David's rule belonged to the king. King David's sin wasn't the adultery he committed with Bathsheba; King David's sin was putting Uriah, one of "the mighty men of valor," on the front line of battle with hopes that Uriah would be killed.

And I've thought...

Victor Barnard quoted, "To the pure all things are pure," justifying his sexual atrocities. I remember, as a young woman, sitting in the Big Top with over 1000 other committed believers in Word Over the World Ambassador training, intently listening as our "father in the Word," "Dr." Wierwille, stated something like, "No unbeliever's penis has any business being in a believer's vagina..." as he talked with us WOWs, his "kids," before we went "on the field to move the Word over the world." The Way taught "the age of grace" and "happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth."

And I've thought...

Victor Barnard gave his "maidens" rings and gifts. Kristen Skedgell shares in her memoir, Losing The Way, that Wierwille gave her a ring. Wierwille was married at the time; Kristen was young enough to be Wierwille's daughter. Kristen was presented her ring on the motor coach after one of her rendezvous with Wierwille. The ring came from a box which appeared to have held others rings. Did other women get rings too?

Victor Barnard would call a "maiden" to Barnard's lodge when Barnard wanted sex. From what I've read, Wierwille called women to his motor coach; Martindale called women to the Way Corps chalet in the Way Woods.

Victor Barnard instructed his "maidens" to tell no one about his sexual relations with them. Wierwille taught the "lockbox;" there are things that a person doesn't share. Other believers may not be spiritually mature enough to understand certain situations. Some may not understand the freedom we have in Christ; such freedom might present a stumbling block to those less mature believers.

And I've thought...

Victor Barnard had his "maidens" take a salt covenant with him, that they would be loyal to him until death. The Way teaches salt covenants are taken only on special occasions, for specific reasons. To break a salt covenant made one worthy of death; to break a salt covenant meant one's words were not salted. I took two salt covenants while in The Way; one at my wedding and another as part of a Way Advanced Class Advance. That Advance was held at a camp in Reidsville, North Carolina, in the summer of 1981. The Way didn't hold "Retreats," only "Advances."

Victor Barnard's sexual victims were underage females, a most heinous act. As far as I know, that wasn't the case within the Way inner circle that engaged in sexual improprieties. Still, those Way inner circle leaders abused their power of trust. Such is not an affair; it is abuse.

And I've thought...

The Way isn't responsible for Barnard's actions anymore than the Seventh Day Adventist Church is responsible for Koresh's actions.
Or am I incorrect on that?
I mean...how much influence did The Way have on Victor Barnard's morphing into what he has become?
Or was Barnard always that way...simmering beneath?
But then Koresh is a few generations removed from the Seventh Day Adventist Church; whereas, Barnard is like a direct offspring of The Way International.
Without Way influence, would Barnard have committed these same or similar acts?
I know we'll never know for sure.

Links to my blog posts regarding Victor Barnard:


Staying Alive

prompt or not: "staying alive"
aww ~ 4/16/14


A year ago, in April, 2013, I wrote a poem entitled PN.

I gave it that title because I didn't want people to think I'm a complainer or a dismalist or a whiner or a downer-in-the-mouth. If I give the poem a title explaining exactly what I am referring to, people might think I'm attention seeking or playing the victim card.

I posted the poem online, in a support forum for people suffering with PN, that is peripheral neuropathy. One of the responses came from a man who suffers with this dastardly disease; he stated something to the effect that this illness does not have to define our lives.

My immediate internal response was, He's right. I *shouldn't* allow this illness to define me. I *shouldn't* be negative; I need to be hopeful. Mine was a knee-jerk internal reaction, like an automatic reflex programmed from somewhere deep in my brain. I'm wrong; he's right. Am I allowing this illness to define me? I didn't publicly respond with a comment, but I did click the "like" thumbsup button, because I felt I *should*...that I *should* be more positive.

The man then posted a response poem - words to encourage. I felt he was trying to help me out of a gutter. But I hadn't asked for help, had I? I don't even know if I was in a gutter. And even if I was, so what.


Some days it burns
Some days it aches

Every day it lingers
Every day it weakens
Every day it exacts

A toll

Accessing parkways to meander
Accessing highways to faster

But this toll
Accessing fatigue that drains
Accessing despair that pines for death

I just do not know
if I have what it takes
to pay this toll

My pouch approaches bankruptcy
Time for a loan



Waiting for a sign?


This came across my computer screen yesterday.

A sign! Two, three, four, five signs!

I like these kind of signs.


Losing Touch

prompt or not: "losing touch"
aww ~ april 9, 2014


My mind swirls when I think of the phrase "losing touch."
Of Dad in the 1980s and 1990s. Living as a quadriplegic with no sense of feeling from his shoulders, down his torso, into his groin and thighs and knees and calves and ankles and feet and toes. For thirteen years, his body never responded with startles to our touch when we would physically clothe him and change his external condom catheter and put his socks and shoes on his feet and position him in his chair or in his bed. Sometimes his legs would jerk, but not because he felt our hands; his limbs would simply spasm. Sometimes he'd laugh and say something like, "Watch out there!"

My mind swirls when I think of the phrase "losing touch."
Of my own body back in May, 2011. My limbs turning to rubber as this damnable disease of neuropathy invaded my nerve tissue, squelching its sensitivity and ability to perform; wreaking havoc on my muscles, depleting them of strength. At at that time, my body and mind waking in the mornings as my eyes would open with a blink and I'd be faced with immediate fear. Oh god, another day. I wonder how well my legs will work this morning. For balance, I would reach for the bookcase beside the bed; I refused to use a walker. My arms weak, my hands feeling so very heavy like I was wearing boxing gloves, though I'd never worn boxing gloves. I despise this illness with a passion.

My mind swirls when I think of the phrase "losing touch."
Of Mom in the 2000s. In her catatonic state sitting in the chair beside her hospital bed, her eyes glaring at me as if I was the devil himself, though she had no knowledge of herself at the time. I had to remind myself she wasn't there, in her mind. Even when she bluntly stated, "Take off my glasses." Those were her only words for what seemed months but was probably only weeks.

My mind swirls when I thinking of the phrase "losing touch."
Of my own 15-year-old mind and body in 1974. Possessed by the terror of datura stramonium, jimson weed, the devil's weed. Hallucinations in full 3D. Rape in an open stadium. Institutionalized in a circular asylum. Black cock roaches crawling my body in a flesh feast. Witch doctors dancing round and round my bed. A secret world where I only was on the inside.

My heart grieves when I think of the phrase "losing touch."
Of my own dream, now at 54 years old in 2014, to thru-hike the 2184 miles of the Appalachian Trail. My call of the wild. My high school dream that I first gave up in my early 20s. Gave it up to serve God and then had to let it go because of decades struggling to survive my own internal drowning fluids. A dream resurrected in 2010. Perhaps a silly and superficial dream, but still...a journey I often find myself longing for. I haven't totally given up the dream. But slowly I'm letting it go to the realm of never-to-be-fulfilled. I think something in me hopes that if I let go the dream...maybe, somehow, it will find me again...


Going Outside

prompt or not: going outside
aww ~ 04/09/14


Today, I walked alone downtown, making my way from Holly and Poplar up to Fourth Street where Mellow Mushroom is located across from the indie cinema, Aperture. I had a craving for some Mellow pizza.

I felt somewhat foreign among the people on the sidewalks - foreign but alive.

I usually walk trails and woods, not city sidewalks.

I thought, I am among the living; they have community. I don't feel I fit, but I'm comfortable with not fitting. Maybe I should do this more often.


Worst Case Scenarios

prompt or not: "it's not over"
aww ~ 4/02/14


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hubby had gone to bed at his regular hour around 9:15 pm. Before laying down he helped me undress my upper torso, carefully and gently pulling my shirt up over my head and arms and then doing the same with my bra. He placed both items of clothing on one arm of the wooden coat tree in the corner of our bedroom along with other male and female garments straddling the tree arms. From the coat tree, Hubby retrieved my purple, long, tank top night shirt. While I held my arms straight over my head, Hubby gently pulled the night shirt over my arms and and down my upper torso.

The past week had been rough physically. The weakness and pain in my limbs exhausted me. Usually I didn't ask Hubby to help me dress and undress; I push through the pain and then rest to regain strength after clothing myself...though my strength seldom felt gained. But the past few days, I was tired of pushing.

I crawled into our king size bed around 11:00 PM. I got positioned while grunting and mumbling. "Damn it," I whispered while working with my weak and painful limbs. "Okay there," I responded with a whisper. Between my whispers, I breathed deeply feeling that somehow the breaths would help me deal with the pain and weakness and give me energy and strength to get situated. Hubby stayed fast asleep to the left side of my body.

I lay on my back with my eyes closed, unable to fall asleep.

I get my shots tomorrow. What if they don't work this time? And even if they do, what do I do when the effects wear off again? What if I'm getting worse? What if the neuropathy is progressing? What if I loose functions in all my limbs?

Visions went through my head of life as an invalid; of the strain it would put on the family - the financial struggles, the emotional struggles, the mental struggles. I lived those struggles up close and personal helping care for dad when he was a quadriplegic. Day in and day out; day in and day out. I knew the details.

I can't. I can't. I can't do that to my family. If somehow, I could be put in a nursing home and be cared for, I could accept that. If it could be done without breaking us financially. But no way, no way could I put so great a burden on Hubby...to have to care for me as an invalid at home. How could we pay for me to go somewhere without losing all our savings? Maybe we could divorce on paper; that way our money would be legally separated and I'd qualify quickly for Medicaid.

My thoughts and mental images continued as I lay in bed, in the dark, eyes closed, the clock ticking toward the midnight hour.

I'd rather die than to burden Hubby and the kids with my care. I could go to another state that has right to die laws, assisted suicide. I don't like the term "suicide" for right to die. It's not suicide...it's assisted death. I have to think of it like that...not suicide, but rather death...on my terms.

What about the guilt that would lay on my family? I would have to assure them somehow that it is my decision. That I blame them in no way. But I know that wouldn't stop the guilt. Which would be worse? Them having to care for their invalid wife and mother...or me making an exit on my own terms?

What about a funeral? I have no church or even really a social group. I want my body donated to science and the rest of the remains burned. Then I'd want my ashes spread along the Appalachian Trail at Grayson Highlands, with the feral ponies, and with the tokens I buried there for Alex, the aborted life from my womb. Hubby and Son and Daughter could read one of my poems...maybe "A Child's View."

There would need to be another memorial for the family and friends that don't hike; there needs to be some sort of closure for others. Folks could come to our house, and order a pizza and share stories. Maybe some of my stories, written by my own hand could be read. It wouldn't be a big crowd; I don't have many close friends or relatives. I wouldn't want a big crowd even if I did have lots of close friends and relatives.

How cowardly Carol, to want to choose death over disability. Lots of people live with disabilities; what a coward. But I have not fight left; I'm just too tired. I don't have any fight left; I just don't.

As I lay in the dark on the right side of the king size bed, I felt literally scared. I often think in worst case scenarios because then, if I can accept those, all roads lead up from there.

How ironic that just three weeks ago I was thinking, more like daydreaming, about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail...planning in my mind how to pack my supply boxes for Hubby to ship to me. How I'd pick up those boxes from the drop stations and then pack leftover contents and drop ship to my next stop where I'd repeat the process.

I rolled over in bed, feeling like a fish floundering as my arms flopped with my grunts as the pain would shoot through my biceps. I spooned against Hubby's backside flopping my right arm over his torso. "Hubby," I whispered through tears, "I'm scared. And I'm so sorry." I had said I'm sorry hundreds of times the past week.

Hubby awoke with those kind of guttural and sighful sounds that people make when being awoken out of sleep.

"It's okay," he gently responded. "You have nothing to be sorry about. This is important. Let me rouse myself and we'll talk a bit."