The danger of wishing and other forms of false hope

If there is something that I can’t abide it is false hope. Wishing, wanting things to change, seeing the buoy thrown out to your drowning self, and finding that all the air has gone out of it. Give me no hope at all, rather than hopes dashed. I am not one to let myself be comforted “it will be ok, I just know it, Paltry,” patted Billy. It will be ok. It will all be fine, don’t worry, don’t struggle, don’t keep your own head above water. Relax said the spider to the fly, it will all be just fine. Except it won’t. It never is.

I am guilty of it. I shusshed children, telling them Mama is fine, Mama is ok, Mama isn’t hurt. It will all be ok. We will get out. We will be safe, I drip drip false security, deceit. Plain lies. It was not ok. Mama was injured. Brain scans showing Mama had a patch of damage on her left frontal lobe once we had half escaped into a hospital that would see me. Doctors peering into my eyes telling me my retina was partially detatched, dilating my pupils making my world go to a blinding blur. The mirror had cracked from side to side, my sugared medicine, whispering that I was safe, I was fine, I wasn’t really hurt, it looked worse than it was. It was all ok. Just ok. We would get out, don’t worry, we would get out and we would be together and everything, just everything would be A OK. If you say it often enough you believe it. You are ok. Because really you have no choice.

I wished it different. I wished my tibia not cracked. I wished my brain to heal up, I wished, I hoped that wasn’t brain fluid dripping out of my ear, straw colored, sweet smell of death upon me. I wished it and it was rejected. I started to tick off body parts: left leg, left eye, left ear. I started to get indignant. The left side of my body always seemed to take a hammering that it could not bear, my right side wanting to divorce the pain and freed, go off alone, fractured, split off, limping hunk of flesh to a different place where chairs were to sit on not hit women with.

I started to dissociate. That poor girl, I’d think to myself. That poor poor girl! As I cooked supper, or washed clothes, or read Swallows and Amazons to eager faces. That poor young woman can’t take much more of this, I tutted…It was everything I could do not to lose myself entirely.

I told Billy before I ran, I told that man: No false hope, Old Man. No false hope, no fake comfort, no wishing well dreams. Give me reality or give me death. He chose to whisper sweet lies, and chose for me. Not death, but it won’t be as promised. It won’t be the wish you made. It won’t be a divorce, a safe marriage, it won’t be more babies, or a house in Minnesota with forty acres and a cairn terrier for you to love on. It won’t be washing machines or fishing in that little steel boat on lakes. It wont be safe, it wont be protected, or supported. It won’t be. I jumped, and I jumped on false hope and broken wishes. I jumped and survived. To wish things were different, to go down a different path, to stay, would be churlish. “You have SOMETHING to thank me for!” he drunkenly declares at the other end of the phone line. I disagree. I never would have left and that would have been my choice, damnit. Didn’t I deserve to be mistress of my own future?

Still I’m in thrall to false hope. I hope my VAWA visa goes through. I hope people will be kinder. I hope when they Boy finishes growing up, I am not left entirely alone in this world after giving all I have. I hope that we find housing and can leave the shelter. I hope we can stay in the shelter as long as we need to. I hope we can continue to eat. I wish that I could have one day for me: a date with a woman I find cute and who thinks I’m sweet too, a Perrier water in a bar. I wish I could play lead in a punk band again, jumping up and down with a cherry-red tele in my hands. I wish I wish I could feel more like me, and less like a punch drunk prize fighter wondering where the time went. I hope and I wish and I fear…it is all for nothing, and everything will fall in ashes before me, just like it always does. Joni is on the stereo, she sings “you are too raw.” and I agree with the Woman of Heart and Mind, that she is quite right. No more silk stockings on the bedposts, no more, no more. It is a restless farewell to hope and dreams and possibilities but at least it is my own. At least it is real.


  1. Ruth

    At the risk of irritating the hell out of you Paltry, not all hopes are false and not all dreams impossible. I’ll believe and trust on your behalf if you like, burnishing the hope like an Aladdin’s lamp!

  2. Ruth

    Yep! Your lamp of hope is gleaming like a gleaming thing. Trimmed wick and filled with oil. I might knit a nice tea-cosy cover for it so that it doesn’t tarnish through (temporary) lack of use. Lack of knitting needles or any knitting ability won’t stand in my way.

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