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  • Writer's pictureAnnMarie Tornabene

Closure - June 26, 2023

As the Kickstarter campaign begins to come closer to the end, I have been sharing excerpts from My Body Collective - the short autobiography that I have written last year "commemorating" 25 years that I am on this artistic path to self-healing and acceptance with the use of self-portrait photography as well as my career as an artists' model. In the book, I talk about my childhood and the abuse I endured starting with my mother, then classmates, then men and others that I had relations with and more. I talk about the effects the trauma from these experiences have done to me - in aspects both bad and good and how I have managed to live with it all and how my art has basically saved me in so many ways.

Yesterday was my mother's birthday. She would have been 87 years old. She passed away at the end of 2016 and while I had very little emotion from her passing, I do think about her when her birthday arrives. I have also received some news the other day from my sister that the house is finally sold. My sister had lived with my mother her whole life and after my mother's passing, she lived there longer trying to figure out her own life. She has now moved out and sold the house and when she told me, it left a pause in me. This is the house that I lived in until the age of 35, although by the age of 23, I was really only there for basic needs of sleep, shower, eat...I spent most of those years in university and at the houses of men whom I may had been involved with. However, this was the house where it all started - I was born there and grew up in a toxic environment. It started with my father's official diagnosis of schizophrenia at a time when little knowledge/support was there and then problems with my oldest sister which led her to move out of the house. My mother had very good reasons for being angry and upset. However, those emotions should not have been taken out on her other children. Unfortunately, they did and she did until the day she died.

I suppose there had been some happy moments there (there are photos that appear to show them but they were tainted and often completely overshadowed by the anger, jealousy and more. The fights between my mother and father would escalate to verbally violent proportions and were a constant. The mean, hurtful words that my mother used toward me every day would go deep inside to the point where I believed everything she said. The "funny" thing is that as the years went by with this constant abuse, she would often say she loved her children and how she had children to take care of her when she got old and as I got older, I thought about that. If a mother does not show her child real love nor take care of her child the right way - meaning beyond the basics of feeding, clothing, etc. then how can the child care for the mother? But sadly, my sister tried in spite of what was done to her as well. I feel for my sister and I wish she had the courage back then to find a way out as well.

None of this matters now. The house is gone. My sister said she had blessed it all that she could so that the new family moving in would not feel any of the negativity that was harbored there. I, too, wish whoever is living there now peace and love and a real home filled with happiness. These are things that I truly wish I had and that I am now working to have. I finally have a truly loving husband whom I love so very much but the scars of my past still run deep and it is taking lots of effort to reach that goal of true happiness. All is not lost though and as I close that chapter of my life by writing this book, the selling of the house cements it. It's time to finally breathe.

This is the last photo I took of the outside of the house in January 2017. It had gone through some outside renovations over the years and not quite what it looked like when I was a child.

This was my mother's recliner in the living room. It was her throne in what I had named the dragon's den. In this chair, she sat day after day, with a cigarette in her hand, lashing out at all of us, abusing us, telling me that I was fat, ugly, grotesque and other hurtful criticisms about how I looked. It was all the time and you could not walk past her at all without something bad happening. Of course none of it was solicited. She couldn't control herself and had to say these things to make her feel better about herself, the situation, whatever it was in her mind. When I saw this chair for the last time, it was the only moment I cried. I cried almost happy tears because I knew I would never have to pass her in that throne ever again.

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