Cracks // The Household

*Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed (here and in other posts) regarding churches I attended are only opinions. My recounting of experiences is only as I remember them and should not be taken as the only possible experience someone had. My home life was not dictated by anyone other than the people in my home. This may have come from misinterpretation of teachings or other sources. It is not meant to be a reflection of the churches themselves as a whole and should not be taken as such.

These two grew up in different worlds; Mary from a Christian household and an only child. She was not the most popular girl but not an outcast either. She preferred reading books or participating in band to other activities. This was true throughout college where she lived in a scholarship hall, played French horn in the band, participated in KU Navigators, and various drama endeavors. It was in a musical put on by Navigators that Mary and Marty met. He was from a very liberal “hippie” family having one younger sister. He was popular and athletic throughout school and generally well liked, though he did have some conflict with coaches and others in authority. He also had a bad boy side growing up, with participation in a rowdier group of boys calling themselves the “Barker street gang”. He became a Christian in high school when he was interested in a girl who dated only Christians.

I do not know exactly how they fell in love or how long they dated. I do not know what they thought when they first met each other or even how exactly they were introduced. These are questions I was not able to ask them both. I do know they married in 1979 after graduating from KU. They experienced what I assume to be a rather happy first decade of marriage before having their first child in 1990. That was me. I was the first born and showed every sign of it. I showed up a month earlier than on July 10 rather than August 30 and at a convenient 2:50 in the morning. Apparently, I was ready to conquer the world. Two years later they had my brother and only sibling. He showed up two weeks late on September 13 and a little less confident about his place in the world. I was my father’s daughter; charismatic, charming, loud, and athletic. I did get blessed with my mother’s musical ability and enjoyed singing and acting while growing up. I thoroughly enjoyed bossing around my little brother who was more apt to wander around outside building railroad tracks in his imagination than kicking around a soccer ball. He had my mother’s brilliant, soft spirit. We both enjoyed reading and playing with neighborhood friends, though our responsibilities at home were very different.

As we got older I excelled socially, in school, music, athletics, leadership, and in general being the first-born golden child my parents loved. My dad particularly seemed to revel in my “successfulness” and paid special attention to me. My mom was happy I was happy. Matthew had friends, though they were not exactly the “cool” crowd. He started off going to a special Montessori-style school and doing well though he had trouble paying attention. He was not too keen on sports, though he did possess athletic ability, and he struggled to stand still during choir practice though he was not un-talented. He seemed to always be trying to get more attention from my dad but enjoying every minute he got with my mom. In the eyes of many it was a perfect match-up for a family; each parent related with a particular child in a “special” way. It seemed, at the time we had a rather pleasant childhood. I did notice we lived a little differently than some, but never realized how bizarre the world I grew up in was until I came to college.

To the eyes of many in the outside world we had an ideal American family. A two parent, two income household with two children. My mom worked at Watson Library on the KU campus and my dad owned his own woodworking shop. He hated to call it a carpenter’s shop because he saw himself as an artist and not a distributor of simple cabinetry. He named his business The Carpenter’s shop. Mind you, the apostrophe in carpenter made all the difference. Jesus was a carpenter and it was really His shop. It was still not the shop of a carpenter though. Makes absolute sense, I know. That’s the other thing about our family. We were religious. We were members of the same church for the first 12 years of my life. Let me paint a picture for you, of the environment we grew up in, spiritually speaking. We attended a conservative church in Lawrence that I later learned, is considered a cult (or close to it) by many in the community. Some highlights of my Christian upbringing in this church were women always in head coverings and a dress or skirt. The only place women participated was in teaching Sunday School and cooking meals. Men were the head of the household and the church did not get involved. There was a typical church service on Sunday mornings and we would come back on Sunday night for the breaking of the bread. There was no pastor, only a board of elders who rotated giving sermons. We did not believe in the production of music so we sang only hymns with the accompaniment of a piano or children’s songs with a guitar. I did not realize the rigid thinking and emphasis on some old testament ideals and rules was strange because I knew nothing else.

Nobody, including me, realized what went on in our house. I did not realize the way I was spoken to and treated constituted emotional and spiritual abuse at times. I did not realize the way my mom was spoken to and treated was manipulation and emotional abuse. The same was true for my brother who experienced these as well as physical aggression (even if in the form of over-enthusiastic spanking) from my dad. I though being responsible for my parent’s bookkeeping and the majority of the household chores was a norm, though I still did so grudgingly. I knew the strict eating habits we kept were strange but did not notice the over-arching sense of control in our household as unusual. The countless rules about food and clothing were absurd, even if well intentioned at times.

Some Miller Household Rules:

No shorts before the thermometer reads 70 degrees

No sugar or artificial sweeteners (natural flavoring only)

Potato Chips only on Sundays during football

Brown rice, vegetables, and protein (fish, eggs, turkey) for breakfast

No dairy (soy and rice products only)

No red meat or pork

Breakfast must be finished before the timer goes off (I waited out everyone finishing breakfast and threw away what I did not want to eat, hiding it in the trash can or flushing it down the toilet).

I think the idea is there. There were many rules and they were taken to a different level than that of a “healthy” household. There was a chart and we earned “tokens”, known to the rest of the heathenistic world as poker chips and obviously in turn, a sinful gambling piece. Thank goodness our innocent minds were sheltered from that knowledge.

Perfectly Incomplete

About three weeks ago, I got engaged.

Holy smokes.

Is this real life?

Maybe I should back up and tell you a little about Will. He’s my permanent boyfriend aka soon to be husband. He’s also my favorite person on the planet. Bold statement, I know. But I hope the person I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with is my favorite. There are many reasons he’s my favorite but a few you should know. He continues to love me extravagantly. I think he’s hilarious (point of tears, can’t stop laughing hilarious). He’s also extremely thoughtful, kind, and intentional. He has chased me down while I remained clueless for a little too long. He’s also super attractive. Like, woah. Don’t worry, he has flaws and I have a lifetime to continue to learn those. His positive attributes far outweigh the negatives though.

He is my biggest fan.

He was not thwarted by the unknown answer in asking me out. He did not give up when I didn’t fully understand his intentions. He was not scared of the rather ridiculous chain of events in my life. He waded into the muddy waters. He did not confirm my fears. He did not reject me. He did not leave. He did not expect perfection. He willingly joined me in the mess. He did not run. He did not even turn around. Eventually, he decided to choose me to love above all others for the rest of his life.

I’m in love with him and all that he is.

“You complete me”. Jerry McGuire said it. We all wanted to hear it at some point. I used to think one person who was just right could make me whole. It’s a very romantic notion. I think that notion is a recipe for disaster though. In all circles there seems to be this popular idea that one person out there will complete us and make us happy the rest of our life.

That person does not exist. The expectation is unrealistic.

Expecting one person to complete me is too much for another to handle. We are all meant to love each other well. We are meant to fall in love. We are meant to laugh together. To cry together. To live life well together. We are not meant to complete each other.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of someone else’s unrealistic expectations (pretty much all of us have) it is infuriating. It is frustrating. It is often damaging and detrimental to the relationship.

There’s one thing I love most about Will. He does not complete me.

I do not need him.

Will is many things. He’s many things to me. He is my favorite. He is my partner. He is my chosen person. He’s mine forever.

He is my greatest love; hold one thing.

He cannot replace the One who has been present from my first moments to now and will be there beyond my last. The One who knew my steps before I took them. Who made me and claimed me before I knew my first words. Who knows me more deeply and intricately than anyone else ever can or will. The One who loves perfectly. The One who has walked every step of life alongside or carrying me.

I need Him.

Without Him, I am incomplete. I am unable to function. I am unable to love others, or myself, or life completely. I am allowed no grace, no forgiveness, no freedom without Him.

Will does not complete me, nor I him. I do not need him and he does not need me. But…

I want him.

He has, for some reason I still don’t quite understand, chosen me and I have chosen him. I could function and live life without him. But I don’ t want to. It would be much harder without him. It would be right near unbearable. But I would come out alive and okay. I have the gift of not having to live without him.

I get to choose him today, tomorrow, and everyday after.

The minute I look to Will for completion, he will fail. I’ll have failed for putting him in a place he was never meant to be. He will fail because he won’t be able to handle the impossible expectation. Sometimes, we may both fail in this way. It is then we get to run back to Jesus, our only completion.

Will makes me happy now. He’ll continue to make me happy in the future. There will be times he does not make me happy though.

Feelings are fickle. They come and they go. We’re not always happy and that’s okay. I cannot evaluate my relationship with Will based on my feelings. Yes, they are important. They should not be ignored. I will not always feel happy because of Will. I will not always feel in love. I will choose to love though.

I think the choice to love is so much more special.

When Will got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife I said “yes” without hesitation. I actually said “yes” twice. Because I do not want to spend the rest of my days with anyone else. Because I cannot wait to choose to love him for the rest of my life. I cannot wait to experience everything happy, sad, exciting, disappointing, day to day, and all that’s in between with him by my side.

I want my marriage rooted in friendship, love, and desire; not necessity.

I will still hold him to a high standard and he will hold me to the same. We will have to work. It will not always be easy. I have no doubt it will be rewarding though. It will be the greatest adventure we’ve been on yet.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Cracks // Tragedy

What is a tragedy? A car accident? A school shooting? An abduction? A natural disaster? A Shakespearian story ending in ill-fated lovers’ suicides? The dictionary defines tragedy as “an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress…” or if we want to take the more theatrical route “a play dealing with tragic events and having an unhappy ending…”. Where is the line drawn between tragedy and depressing? Is tragedy an alternate reality while depressing is too much reality? Is there a line between the two? It seems to me that a tragedy is depressing and for whatever reason, we are so often entertained by others’ tragedies. Is it the drama attached to a tragedy that pulls us in? We seem to enjoy “putting things in perspective” and being able to find comfort in the fact that someone else’s life is worse than our own. I’ll be the first to admit I too, have been sucked into the entertainment of a so-called tragedy. Some of my favorite shows are Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Criminal Minds, and NCIS. Some may say these shows are disturbing, depressing, or even morbid but all of these terms are rather synonymous with tragedy for me. Tragedy has been “lightened” by us but in all reality it’s right there on level with down right depressing.

Tragedy took a whole different meaning for me when I was fourteen. I thought my life would be one string of events that caused great suffering, destruction, and distress. I thought it would have an unhappy ending. It hasn’t though. So why is my life continually labeled by many as a tragedy? I certainly don’t find it depressing. My story is still being written and the future seems much brighter than the past. Maybe it will bring you comfort, maybe it will bring you tears, maybe laughter, anger, or a myriad of emotions. It is certainly dramatic, but it is no tragedy.

It’s hard to know where to begin. Do I begin with a bang and grab your attention quickly? Or do I ease you in and take on you a chronological journey from the beginning to the “end” thus far? Let’s start from the beginning.

The first things that typically come to mind when anyone learns I am from Kansas are tornados, sunflowers, farms, vast expanses of flat lands, and of course, The Wizard of Oz. If I would have been paid to hear the various phrases from strangers, new acquaintances, and even old friends such as “you’re not in Kansas anymore”, “follow the yellow brick road”, or “there’s no place like home” I would never have needed student loans, or college for that matter. These are particularly popular when I am lost in any area not within the state of Kansas itself. Add to these phrases the fact that I have brown hair and people seem to see the perfect equation for Dorothy. Mind you I have never owned a dog of any kind, nor have I ever named a pet Toto. I also do not have a habit of knocking myself out during tornadoes and dreaming of places where the majority of the inhabitants cannot grow above four feet tall.

I escaped the “typical” Kansas upbringing (meaning, I did not grow up on a farm in the middle of nowhere surrounded by cows) due to the fact that I was born in the lively city of Lawrence. It does not take long to realize Lawrence is essentially it’s own little world within the state. Just about any stereotype or “norm” within the state is broken in this small city. Flat? Hills. Republican? Hello no. Agricultural? Not really. Tornadoes? Okay, yes. Drive down Massachusetts street any given time during the year and you are likely to see at least one sign that says “free hemp”, a handful of posters encouraging the legalization of marijuana, many Pr-Obama posters, tattoos, dreadlocks, colored hair, and individual styles for clothing taste. This is not to say it is a pot-smoking hippy town, but it is certainly not the bible thumping, agricultural oasis many people expect. I myself am somewhere in between bible thumping and living solely off of “peace and love”. Much of the individuality and uniqueness of Lawrence is thanks to the University of Kansas (KU) being our main boasting point and something anyone who is a native “Jayhawker” can agree on despite any other difference in opinion.

Although I did not grow up going to every single basketball game (that’s right, not football) or attending every other sporting event or camp offered, I was still raised to be a Jayhawk fan through and through. We could not afford season tickets but that did not stop us from cheering from our home while watching on the television. Both of my parents attended and graduated from KU. My mom had been employed on campus at Watson Library for years when everything…happened. We’ll get to what “happened” in a moment. Let’s start by giving a description of my parents. First, we will begin with Mary ‘Mershon’ Miller who was born in Hutchinson, Kansas in 1957. She was small, very small, mild mannered, somewhat shy, and very kind. She was also incredibly smart. I still do not know exactly how smart she was on a scale of genius to mega-mind but I would imagine she was somewhere in that range. How someone like my dad managed to snag her is beyond me. That is not to say he himself was not intelligent. He was quite the mastermind but in a much different regard. Martin “Marty” Kenneth Miller was was born in Champagne, IL (I believe) in 1958. He was a man of medium height and build, fairly attractive appearance, charisma, and charm. He was also a man who loved power and manipulation.

Daddy Issues

We (sort of) recently celebrated father’s day. It tends to be a bittersweet day for me. It is a reminder of both good and bad. I love that we have a day to celebrate fathers. I love that we have days to celebrate parents. They should be celebrated. They have a hard job.

Parents have a profound impact on our lives.

I often wish I could say my (biological) dad had no impact on my life. Or that I only have happy memories of him. Unfortunately neither is true. Someone once told me that as a girl my father was my “first love”. It sounds a little weird but I get it. He was the first man I loved. As much as I may not like it, I probably would have been considered a daddy’s girl growing up. I loved my mom and was close with her but I spent more time with my dad. I was the first born golden child that did everything he wanted. I excelled in school, made friends quickly, was musical, did well in sports. I was also a leader and he liked that. Probably because he saw himself in me. I was who he wanted me to be I put on a great outward performance.

I am my father’s daughter.

I got his sense of humor. I got many of his characteristics. I even look like him. I also took on some of his not so desirable characteristics. I loved control and often successfully controlled and manipulated those around me. I liked to live both sides of the coin: multiple youth groups & lots of time in church pedaling the squeaky clean image while also stealing, lying, bullying others, & spending time with people who were less than a great influence. I loved to live to the brim in hypocrisy like him.

I often hate that I am so much like him. I look in the mirror at times and am literally faced with the similarities. I spent so much time being angry with him and myself. I was angry with him because the first man I loved ended up betraying and wounding me so deeply. I was angry with myself that I was affected by his actions and that he had any impact on my life period.

I didn’t want to admit to any happy memories at all. It was much easier to hang on to anger when there are no “happy” connections to that person. I often laughed around my dad. I learned about leadership. I became better at things because of his coaching.

I didn’t want to admit his words hurt me. They cultivated shame in me – how could I think that about him? They cultivated a hatred for my appearance – it was never good enough. They cultivated deep insecurity – I was never quite perfect and that was not okay. I learned to fear, distrust, & disrespect males in general.

In taking my mother he changed the course of my life forever. That kindled a fiery anger.

I learned my anger only affected me though. It made me an unpleasant person. It made me unwilling to feel anything. It hindered my relationships with friends, parents, & Christ.

In letting go I walked into light.

Because of Marty’s actions I am liberated. I am liberated from the abusive, manipulative, & controlling environment he created. I am free from being fed lies. My mother was liberated. My brother was liberated. And on top of that – we have a new family. We have new siblings & parents. We have a new father.

No parent is perfect and my life is a testament to that. Most do their best but they fall short. We all fall short at some point of some thing (usually multiple things). I do have a Father who is perfect in all ways though. Who sat with me in the tears, in the anger, & held me in the times I fought everyone else off.

There’s a worship song I love & the chorus sums up where I rest:

“You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, It’s who you are
It’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, It’s who I am
It’s who I am”

I am my Father’s daughter.

Therein lies my comfort. There is my perfection. There is all the things I cannot and do not need to be. There is the place to bring my sorrow & pain where it is transformed into joy. Into light.

The Lies We Love

“Truth is free”. I have it tattooed on my wrist. Why there? Why a tattoo? Because I need a permanent reminder that I cannot earn what is true. I need to be reminded that the truth of Christ’s death for me is not because of anything I did. It is there, a fact I cannot change based on anything I do.

What about beyond that though?

What about truth in general? It’s this thing we all seem to be seeking. We’re told from a young age “always tell the truth”. Regardless moral convictions or spiritual path, everyone wants to know what is true. In all things whether mundane or life-altering. We want to find it. We want to hold onto it. We want to remember it. And we want to share it with the world.

That’s what we make it seem like at least.

But I think I forget – the truth is often uncomfortable. It can be hard. It can be messy. It can be painful. I say I want it, but do I really?

No. Not all the time.

The truth cannot always be controlled. And I want control. Instead, I lie. I lie to myself. I lie to others. I accept lies. I think many of us do this. I feel more comfortable living in lies than I do living in truth, in freedom. Freedom brings ambiguity. Where do you go with it? I want it so badly but it scares me so much. So I lie. I am free, I tell myself.

Don’t get me wrong sometimes truth is nothing but daisies and rainbows in which case I tend to willingly accept it. But sometimes, I feel more comfortable living in the world I’ve created. I’m fine. You’re fine. Everything is happy always. Nobody can hurt my feelings. I can’t say anything stupid to hurt yours. It’s all good. I don’t worry about how I look or what others think of me. I’m rubber, you’re glue…

This world is called denial.

I fear people knowing the truth about me. That I can be incredibly insecure. I can be harsh towards others (whether in my head or out loud). I am harsh towards myself. That I forget I am created to be loved. That I forget every other human is created to be loved. That I lose sight often of who I am in Christ. That I have a past so messy I never thought anyone would dare wade through those waters. And I didn’t think they should have to. I embrace the comfort of control over the joy of freedom.

I feel like my biological dad was a prime example of this. He had two worlds, both of them full of lies. They were strung together by intricate tales and lies. He was comfortable with the control he was allowed in his lies. He could have the perfect church-going all American family with his church leadership positions and Christian school board charimanship, while still having his world of affairs, addiction, and BDSM. I don’t know what kind of lies he told himself to rationalize the lies he told others. He needed his lies so badly he was willing to kill for them.

I think if he had embraced the truth though, my mother might still be alive.

I think telling the truth would have been hard. It would have been messy. It would have been painful. He would’ve suffered consequences. But we know the alternative. He wouldn’t be sitting in a prison cell. It was bound to be messy either way. There would have been less pain. The chain of events spurred on by telling the truth would have been so very different than those of a murder to conceal the lies.

Because either way, the truth comes out.

So I will try to embrace the discomfort of the truth. I will face it. I will probably still fear it. I will at times struggle to seek & share it. But the freedom it allows will be so sweet compared to the false & weighty comfort of lies.

Here is the truth:

“…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, ESV)

I don’t know much. I’m not in control. And that’s okay. All I really need to know is the truth of Christ’s love for me stands free. Not impacted by anything I say or do. And that’s enough for me.

Cracks // Summer 2004

Summer 2004

It’s business as usual this warm summer evening. We’ve already had dinner and mom is behind me in the kitchen making tuna grape salad for lunch tomorrow. Dad is in the living room with me watching TV, drinking Dr. Pepper, and eating potato chips. Every time I hear the chip crunch I type a little harder on the computer. I don’t understand why he gets to drink pop every day and eat potato chips when the rest of us aren’t allowed to drink pop at all and can only eat potato chips on Sunday. Granted, I will sneak all the junk food and pop I can when I’m out with friends, but it’s still annoying to be at home listening to him chow down on something I can’t have. I’m just glad I have my own laptop to escape into when I’m at home. I open my multiple AIM conversations and reply to my friends. Of course, I’m paying special attention to the window of Crazy76Monkey. I just saw him when we were working at Vacation Bible School but I cannot get enough. He responds quickly and I swear my heart skips a beat every time I see that blinking message box. I ignore the food preparation and chip chomping behind me and sink into my own little world again.

Matthew is already back in his room having fallen asleep on top of his Hotwheels. My mom finishes putting the food away and cleaning the kitchen then heads off to bed reminding what time we have to wake up to be at the church. We’re doing arts and crafts at Vacation Bible school this year. My dad stays up a little longer watching TV then in his office on his computer before heading to bed. When he heads off to bed he reminds me I have thirty minutes until I myself need to be in bed. I nod my head and say goodnight knowing full well I will stay up far beyond thirty minutes. I continue to chat with my friends as they sign off one by one. Finally, it is just Liam and I chatting. I know we could do this for hours, he definitely doesn’t have to sleep since he lives with his grandma. Plus, he’s sixteen so he has more freedom than I do.

Crazy76Monkey (11:47): You’re going to be at VBS again tomorrow right?

Gomelodie99(11:48): Ya are you and Dan going to help with music and arts and crafts again?

Crazy76Monkey(11:49): Ya

Crazy76Monkey(11:49): We should all go downtown after VBS tomorrow since it’s the last day

This is only one of the single greatest suggestions I have ever read.

Gomelodie99(11:51): That’d be fun!!!

Gomelodie99(11:51): I’ll talk to my parents but it should be fine

Crazy76Monkey(11:53): It will be a group of us. Ask Allie if she wants to come too.

Gomelodie99(11:53): Ok

Gomelodie99 (11:55): brb

This is my tactic if a conversation ever begins to lag. I wait a little bit then see if he’s come up with something else to talk about.

Crazy76Monkey(11:56):Ok

Gomelodie99(11:59): Back!

Crazy76Monkey (12:00): Hey!

Crazy76Monkey (12:00): What’s up?

Gomelodie99 (12:01): Nm, u?

Crazy76Monkey (12:01): Nm, excited for tomorrow

Gomelodie99 (12:03): Me too

I hear someone moving around in my parents’ room down the hall. It’s probably my dad. I am not supposed to be awake right now. He cannot find me at the laptop.

Gomelodie99 (12:04): Oh crap, gotta go!

Gomelodie99 (12:04): See u tomorrow!

Crazy76Monkey (12:04): See u. Goodnight

I slam the laptop and take two giant steps to my room shutting the door so it is open just a crack. I leap under the covers and close my eyes as I hear footsteps nearing my room. I know it is my dad because he is the only one who ever gets up in the middle of the night. He checks the front door, I can’t tell if he opened it. I think I remembered to lock it. He then opens my door and checks on me. Since it’s dark I open my eyes as he’s leaving to make sure it’s him and not some crazy person from the street. My night-light gives me enough light to confirm it is in fact my dad. I know people would think I was crazy if I told them my fears but every time I hear a floorboard creak in my house, I think something is going to happen. I’ve just had this feeling for years that something bad is going to happen in my house. I thought there were vampires under my bed until I was ten; I guess I’m just prone to paranoia. I hear my dad start up his computer in the office that shares a wall with my room. I hear the beep signaling power then the sound of Windows XP chiming in. I drift off to sleep thinking about seeing Liam the next afternoon.

What in the world? I wake up with a jolt and open my eyes. It’s still very dark outside and it takes me a moment to realize why I’m awake. I hate being awake in the dark. It freaks me out. I can hear my mom screaming from my parents’ room at the end of the hall. “No! Please! Don’t, no!” She must be having a nightmare. It’s not a high-pitched blood-curdling scream, but it is frantic. Unfortunately, thanks to my paranoia and frequent sleepless nights yelling for my mom it is sort of a norm in our house to yell out when scared. She continues to yell her pleas and I think about going back to their room to check on her. Maybe my dad fell asleep in the living room and can’t hear what I’m hearing. Then I hear his voice repeating “Sh, calm down. It’ll be alright”. Well, that’s good everything must be okay. I think again about going back to their room just to double check on her because she still sounds upset. It’s the least I can do after waking her up so many nights with my own terrified screams. I start to swing my feet off the bed to go back but instead I fall back on my pillow and fast asleep.

When I wake up in the morning I am again confused and wonder if I dreamed everything last night. The huge knot in my stomach would tell me otherwise. I look at my clock and am surprised it is six in the morning. This never happens during the summer; usually I am sleeping until eleven if I can talk my parents into leaving me alone. It sounds like there are voices at the end of the hall. Is the back door open? It is then that I hear the sirens. Immediately, I know what has happened.

The Last Word

You’re going to learn a lot about my story as this blog continues but I’m not typically one for anything other than cannon-balling right in. I was inspired to start this whole thing to potentially gain a platform. I recently wrote a letter to the editor of my hometown newspaper. I don’t know what they will decide to do with it. I have decided to publish it myself in the form of my first blog post though. Read on and see.

To the Editor:

My name is Melodie Ozorkiewicz.

Yesterday, my biological father Martin K. Miller was sentenced again to life in prison for murdering my mother. Typically at a sentencing hearing family members are allowed to address the court. Since I was not able to be there physically I wrote a statement to be read aloud by the prosecution. It was reported this statement was in support of a strong sentence for Martin. It actually wasn’t (this was not the first inaccurate report regarding this trial). I saw this as my opportunity to address the court and give a final statement concerning this entire re-trial. Unfortunately, the defense attorney did not allow my statement to be read aloud. I haven’t attempted to be publicaly vocal about this trial because I did not think it was necessary. However, I do not appreciate the defense silencing my last few words regarding an event that so dramatically impacted and changed my life. So, I am sending you a copy of the statement I intended to be read to the court yesterday. I hope we don’t have to do this a third time and can all walk away with a sense of closure.

Sentencing Statement:

To say I am happy this is over would be a misappropriation of words. There is nothing happy about doing this trial over again. It unfortunately does not reverse the devastating events of 10+years ago. There is however, hope in it being over. Not just hope that we don’t ever have to do this again but hope that the second time around we can walk away with something new. The verdict remains the same, but our focus does not have to. Instead of focusing on the scandal that surrounds my mother Mary’s death, I hope we can focus on who she was as a person, not a victim. A woman who, though faulted as we all are, was who she said she was. She lived out her life through her faith as a woman who loved her family and those around her. I have no doubt she is now living in joyous freedom and I take great comfort in that. I cannot wait for the day I see her again. I hope we walk away celebrating the victory of life after her death. Although our lives were permanently altered, Matthew and I’s lives were not ruined. We were not only able to survive, but thrive thanks to an incredible new family and community. There is nothing happy about this. There are however, many bright points. I hope we choose to dwell on these rather than allowing the darkness of these events to overshadow those bright points. I so appreciate the hard work of the District Attorney’s office and judge Martin in fairly executing this trial as well as the support of this community and the continuing love and support we receive from our family. I’m hoping we can all move forward into a bright future.

For (semi-accurate) coverage of both trials you can visit: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/crime/murder/martin_miller_trial/

“Cracks” // Spring 2005

Spring 2005

I pick up the wooden jewelry box and throw it across the room with all my might. As it soars towards the wall the clasp comes undone and the hinges slowly give way to allow the lid to fly open. What look like thousands of little silver crosses, chains, and faces of Jesus fly out of the box full throttle like it couldn’t wait to expel them from inside. I can’t blame it. The whole box gives me the creeps. I didn’t know where it had come from. I didn’t remember ever seeing it in my parents’ room yet somehow we had come across it unpacking boxes from the old house. It was as if all the things hidden in that house were waiting to be brought out into the light. Once one secret got out they all followed as quickly as they could. When it rains it pours. I prefer to think Karma’s a bitch and what goes around comes around. I don’t actually believe in Karma or even that people get what they “deserve” but the idea is attractive when you’re holding a grudge the size of Texas. The hinges give way having been over-extended. The lid flies in one direction and the bottom in another as if unwilling to ever re-unite and hold what was once inside, not able to separate quickly enough.

The box collides with the wall creating an unimpressive thud. I hear the splintering of wood as the two pieces break into five. Maybe I should have picked a different wall. I was angry and breaking something was therapeutic but I wanted someone to hear. I wanted someone to come ask what the sound was and see me standing in a fit of hot angry tears with a dented wall and broken jewelry box. I wanted someone to ask what had happened. I would have shrugged them off and said nothing despite the evidence to the contrary. I also would have eventually given in to an insistence that this was not “nothing”. I would have acquiesced and said I was angry then accepted the sympathetic pat, hug or the shoulder to cry on. It would have meant more than I would ever let anybody know. Instead I was greeted by silence. My door remained closed. The rest of the house was asleep. I looked at my floor and saw everything that had been in the air now scattered across my carpet. It had nowhere else to go. There were many faces of Jesus with a crown of thorns looking up at me in agony. There were crosses and rings. There were chains I assumed were intended for the silver pieces now littering my floor. The box was broken beyond repair, and what was left behind were outdated jewelry pieces all mismatched and all some sort of Christian religious symbol. The fact that jewelry like this was made and worn was ridiculous to me. It was no wonder to me that so much of the world thought Christians were a kooky bunch. This stuff was creepy and over the top.

I look at the broken box and the pieces all over my floor. What a perfect metaphor it seemed to make of my life. Thrown into a wall and broken beyond repair spilling secrets everywhere. I continued to wonder where these strange pieces had been my whole life. I came to the conclusion they had been my dad’s and he had collected them in a fit of piousness feeling the need to have religious paraphernalia available to wear and throw in other’s faces at any given time. I decided he kept them in the box because these were no longer worthy to be shown in public. Maybe this box and these pieces were the keeper of his secrets now lying out in the open, fully exposed. As I picked up the pieces out of the carpet and made a pile I couldn’t help but imagine skeletons being brought out of a closet. Bone on bone on bone. Silver on silver on silver. If these were my dad’s secrets, there had to be another box somewhere. I had no intention of looking for it.