Category Archives: Relationships

Love…  by Andrea 

This post was written by Andrea and I am honored to publish it here for her.

Love you, you wonderful wanderer.

   These feelings are always so strange and foreign to me, even though they are feelings that have constantly passed, like waves, through my mind. I can never figure out why they are always so hard for me to digest properly and why they return, over and over, no matter how many times I try to analyze them.  Like a lump in my throat I can’t seem to swallow. What is it about the constant pressure from society to settle down and procreate I can’t agree to, yet secretly a part of me longs for it?

   Maybe I have been designed to live a life most people don’t understand. A life that I don’t understand and that I can’t seem to figure out. A life of solitude with a  longing for things that simply no longer exist in the pure state I am looking for.

   So many days I wonder how it is possible that I can be surrounded by so many people yet feel completely alone. Searching the crowds of people for someone to hold me. To provide me with that sense of reassurance in life we are all looking for. Yet, I constantly struggle with the thought of being viewed as property.

   How can one be alone in a world filled with so many people?

  Is it me who simply chooses this and has driven myself to become accustomed to this life style? To driving those away who might actually be worth letting in? To not being able to accept the fact that, over time, love fades and what you are left with is a comfortable nothingness? And this is what love actually is – OR- is this where I belong in life? Is this how my path was written from the beginning? To travel this world alone searching for feelings  that aren’t real anymore? Seeking the true connection to another soul, never to find the one that was created solely for me?

   At times I am overwhelmed by the affection from suitors coming at me from all directions. Yet, I can’t seem to find that person whom I feel I share that desired connection with. Or the person whose affection I actually want to embrace and return as one “should”.

   Maybe this is because love doesn’t exist.  It’s a fantasy that from an early age we are taught to yearn for. Or perhaps it does exist and I’m just blind to it -OR- quite possibly I’m just a fool and can’t see it when it’s right I front of me. I’m so busy searching for a feeling yet I have no idea what the feeling actually feels like. Searching for this “idea” of love I have in my head. This “feeling”.

   How does one feel an idea, anyways? Is it even possible?  And then we come to the part of always wanting the ones that don’t admire us in return.  The ones that have no need for our affection.

   As I sit here, in the silence of an apartment that belongs to a man I flew 1/2 way around the world to to see, that I’ve spent the past 6 days with, yet we’ve barely managed to speak 6 full sentences to each other, I wonder, why is it I still merely desire his affection?

   The affection of a man who didn’t even have the courage to say goodbye to me when he left this morning, knowing that I’d be gone by the time he reached home, with no plans of returning anytime soon. A man who had no trouble expressing his desires with wandering hands in the dark of the night.  Yet, he is the one who’s affection I seek?

   I long to know how his day was spent. What he did. Who he may have met. Where he went. To sit and share a meal with him. To simply sit on the couch together letting the electricity of our connection bounce off one another’s skin. To hold his hand in silence or feel the protection of his arms wrapped around me in the middle of the night. To learn his desires, his passions, his dreams. To watch him sleep peacefully as my mind wonders imagining what he might be dreaming about.  To breath in the scent of his skin.  To keep the scent tucked away so I might be able to someday associate it to a distant memory in the far off future.  To do all that is necessary to foster a meaningful connection.  To know him and let him know me.

   The affection of a man who, to me, appears to be so lonely in life that I cannot understand  his unwillingness to return these desires or to acknowledge mine for him. To make the smallest amount of time for me when we only have a few short days together.

   Could it be possible his loneliness is contagious? Is this why, once again, I am struggling to digest these feelings that are flooding my mind? Filling my mind? Or maybe, as I stated earlier, maybe I am the lonely one. The one that is so lost in being alone that it is my feelings that are contagious. Trying to fit into the idea of a society that was not meant for me nor one that I fit into.

   There is never courage in running away, yet, time and time again, it seems like the best possible solution to me. Jump on a plane to a new destination.  Fill my life with new people and new culture. New experiences.  Maybe then these feelings will make sense? Maybe there my Prince Charming is waiting. Or maybe it is just another lonely place.

   Again, perhaps I am the one running from him. I do seem to be the one who is always running. The one unwilling to put in the extra work to make him see his importance to me. The one who is not capable of giving or receiving the proper affection and attention needed to sustain a relationship. Maybe, after being alone for so long, his wandering hands were the only way he knew to express his affection towards me and I didn’t give him a fair chance, rushing straight to judgement and rejection.

   On a side note, as I once again jet off to a new destination in search of something I am unsure exsists, the two beside me on the plane seem to be so madly in love with one another that I can’t help but have faith in a love like theirs, but for me.

   If love is to be seen in a spectrum, just as most emotions are, my empathy and experience have given me a broader view of the gravity and intensity love has to offer. I have seen heavy depths. The pressure in that dark sadness can truly turn coal into diamonds. I have seen humanity triumph from hopelessness, overcoming death and disease. Strangers raising forgotten souls from the dead. Children who were anonymous and unknown being given a chance at life from a person who grew up on the other side of the world using love to guide them to their good and philanthropic tasks. I’ve seen a variety and a vastness that many can’t comprehend and it has given me the burden of desire for a deep and heavy love. 

   Why would I lay that load on someone who couldn’t hoist it? My search will be harder but, in the end, I hope it finds me in a love more worthwhile. Real. Pure. Grand. Having nothing to do with proximity and common interests and everything to do with a spiritual connection and the true admiration of souls that see each other through the flesh and bone of bodies. A love that lives. One that’s eternal. One that exists now because it always has, outside of the temporary anatomy I was born into, in the realm of the everlasting subconscious that has endured over millenia and shall exsist in many forms until the end. A love that is both effortless and exhausting. Both immensely thick and heavy but, also weightless. One that stays outside societal parameters so it can carry it’s meaning through all of space and time as all unending things do.

   Something like that is the love I seek.

   Indulging in what my body craves does not satisfy my soul it merely quells the hunger pangs. It tides me over as I wait for the thing that will truly satisfy what this vessel’s soul is in search of.

   I have a thirst for a love with a lack of worldly conditions but a need for godly ideals.  It is filling and smooth and immediately recognized.  I want Mana from heaven not mcdonalds.  

   I have the patience. I have the determination. I have the knowledge of what I truly need.  But, the question that always lingers is, do I have the time in this body, in this place?  Do I have the time?  I have the courage but I must continue to pray for the sight so it doesn’t pass me by.

Dating myself again.

I took myself on a date and I have to say,  I’m quite a gentleman. 

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I’ve often been accused of being a loner.  Or antisocial.  Or a man hater.  I’m none of those things.  I like being alone from time to time.  That is true.  I like to think. For me, that’s best done alone.  I’m not afraid of silence or introspection.  In fact I prefer it to meaningless noise and small talk. Being on my own feels natural.

As a small child I often played alone in my room as my imagination was vibrant and strange and my sister had a quiet and gentle presence whereas mine was rambunctious and wild. I felt no need to force myself on her as I was perfectly content on my own.  We played plenty.  She’s my best friend, after all.

I have often found it difficult to truly relate with most of the people I’ve met, though.   I was usually at level 10 and most wanted me to be at level 2. And for me everything has to have meaning,  including the relationships and friendships I take great effort caring for and nurturing.

I like people just fine.  Don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes it’s fun to be part of a loud crowd.  I’m comfortable there,  as well.  I just never found it necessary to have a hundred friends and a thousand interactions as the few good friendships I have maintained have always been fulfilling enough for me.

I don’t understand why people feel bad for me as I eat alone in a restaurant.   I don’t mind it at all.  Everyone has to eat.   I could hide in my car and eat fast food to spare their feelings I suppose as they imagine I’m lonely or sad.  Some have made the assumption that I’ve been “stood up” or that there must be something wrong with me.  I don’t carry much concern for the opinion of strangers,  though.  So I’ll gladly go on a solitary date with myself.

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My unimpeded view was magnificent under the stormy skies. The chairs were wicked bouncy and the air smelled nice.

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I settled on the Butcher’s Cut and ate it in it’s entirety.  All alone.  Happily.  Without having to pause for conversation or attempt to be attractive with grease on my face.  Let’s be honest.  I wouldn’t have attempted to be attractive eating a burger if I had been sitting across the table from James Dean.

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I devoured this masterpiece in silence.  As a mother of 3,  silence is as rare as the inside of that delightful beef patty.

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I wasn’t self conscious,  though strangers stared with looks of wonder.  I wasn’t bummed to be on my own.  I fought hard for my independance.  No tears will be shed today because of it.

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When I had sufficiently stuffed myself full of truffle oil and frites, I hit up my favorite book store for some much needed inspiration.

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Then off I went to see a movie. I heard the dudes behind me whispering.  “Sad” they said.  For you or me, Pal?  I don’t need a chaperone.  I assure you,  I can handle myself just fine. I’m not certain if anyone else is capable of that task, though.

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Here is how the date ended.  Back in my bed.  Alone.  No expectations.  No inappropriate advances.  Treated myself like a lady all night which is a welcome change from what I had become accustomed to. I didn’t get kidnapped or raped either, so, that was nice.

On went the leggings and t-shirt and cartoons. 

If all dates were this easy and someone would treat me as well as I have learned to treat myself, maybe I would consider dating an option.  But,  for now,  I’m cool with this arrangement.   I’m fine with the assumptions,  murmers,  and sad stares.   I’m fine with me so I’m cool with you. 

Freedom.

A great lie

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That’s me.  No filter. No make-up.

I was never the girl who couldn’t wait to wear make-up. Nor had I been one who wanted to shop for trendy clothes and look like all the others. I remember wondering why women wore that stuff and all of the boys and men got to continue being themselves.   I was in the 9th grade when I realized how superficial standards would drastically effect my life.

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9th grade. Still hopeful. I was only just beginning to feel the weight of what I grew to believe the world expected of me but it hadn’t yet begun to choke the fire and life out of my young soul yet. It was after I grew out my awesome nerd ‘fro that the other kids started to take notice of me in one way or another.  Late into middle school I was basically forced into one of those supremely awkward and speechless “relationships” that were common during that age in the mid 90’s.

A “cool chick” I knew who eventually became a pretty righteous homecoming queen suggested my dorky behind be girlfriend to the jock type’s less brawny friend. He was a stellar freckly faced ginger boy, adorable, skinny, and according to the other’s we would be just oh so cute together.  Okey doke.  The problem was he and I were both as shy as anyone ever had been in the history of time.  Ever.  In all of the years that man had existed.

We never spoke.   NOT ONE TIME from what I recall.

I remember he and his friends called my house once.  I basically just let his more extroverted friends speak at me. Occasionally I would interject a one word answer in response but, I still don’t know what my first boyfriend’s voice sounded like.

That relationship dissolved amicably enough.  We just stopped being together.  I didn’t want a boyfriend anyway to be honest.  We never held hands or kissed.  There was no physical contact whatsoever outside of the one time we slow danced at school.  It seemed to be a huge deal for everyone but the two of us.  They even made sure to take a photo of this magical moment in prepubescent awkwardness and put it in the yearbook.

I remember that we were both so sweaty that we could barely hold on to each others hands.  That’s right.  Hands together, the other hand on the shoulder.  I’ve always been a classy broad.  I had seen that sh** in the movies and I assumed that was how this was done.  I felt gross, we both smelled bad, and it was the quintessential depiction of puberty in all it’s bumbling glory.  That was enough romance for me, thank you very much.

The next year things changed even more and with an even greater sense of dis-ease and discomfort.

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I’d been an awesome nerd all of my life.  Tomboy through and through. I spent my early formative years in the library at least once a day.  It was only a few blocks from my house and there was a kick ass park outside of it.  My friends and I always sported scraped knees from bicycle accidents and playing “War” in the yard with my walkie talkies.  I had a bag full of nail polish but my favorite thing to do with it was to chip it off after it had been applied.  I played the clarinet in a marching band, man.  I had not been what most would have considered “cool”.

Hitting high school was rough. I was skinny and short in middle school but grew several inches the summer before my sophomore year.  I wasn’t waddling around on my size 9 duck feet with a 4 foot frame anymore.  Boys who’d never seen me before from the grades ahead of me began to take notice.  Soon after the popular type, male and female, began to take notice, as well.  I’ll never forget the day when “they” sent one of their henchmen to my locker.

She told me, and I’m paraphrasing here, “You know, you could be so cool if you just dropped all of your geeky friends.”  Gulp… I’ll never forget those words or the feelings they made me feel.  Invisible was comfortable.  Being noticed was terrifying.

Her words angered me greatly, though I know it wasn’t her fault.  They weren’t really her words, after all.  Those “geeks” were my best friends.  So I simply stated, “If my friends are geeks I guess that makes me a geek too. ”

My friends were awesome. They still are. Individual, kind, good people. They were all a part of the positive force . I love them dearly. They were, and still are, incredible people. These flawless creatures were being talked down about by girls who were cool because years ago someone decided that they were cool. I honestly don’t know how we all came to that conclusion. I denied their offer and “They” had it in for me after that.

My school was very “cliquey”.  Some of the chicks in the cliques were nice enough.  Some had been friends of mine when we were small.  They were kind, sweet, good people.  But, some were insecure, cruel, vain, and vicious. Those b****** and I had words from time to time throughout high school.

Having someone say those words to me got into my head.  I wasn’t any different than I had been when I was younger.  At least not at that point.  I was brainy, wild with my friends and reserved around strangers, kind, always willing to stick up for the underdog. The only thing that had changed was my hair, clothing, and the powder I had started wearing on my face.  Suddenly, like some kind of s*** out of the Devil’s Bible, a spell had been cast and pervy old dudes were harassing me left and right.

Sophomore year was f***ing hell.  A senior boy liked me.  A senior boy who had been dating the same girl for 3 years, nonetheless.  He’d pop up in the windows outside of my classrooms to make strange faces at me.  He’d leave notes in my locker.  He stood outside of the door of his classroom that was on my way to choir every day just so he could say hello.  I had been to his house once with friends and he talked my ear off all night, told me that a boy in my grade asked him to put a good word in for him, all while he flirted his ass off and in return only received a shy yes or no answer to his millions of arbitrary questions.  He even fooled me into thinking there was a “Hug a Senior Day”.  I hugged him, he giggled, I felt stupid.

I worked at a pizza place at the time.  He worked there too.  I honestly can’t remember who got there first because his employment there was of little importance to me.  My best friend worked there and they had no problem hiring a 15 year old.  One night he took me on a delivery with him so he could talk to me.  He told me he felt he’d led me on, I said nope.  I told him we were cool.  It didn’t turn out to be so cool though.  After he graduated sh** hit the fan.  Hell got even hotter.

His girlfriend was a senior now.  She. F***ING. Tortured. Me. And the b**** was merciless.

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Junior year while working one night she and the entire softball team she was part of, all in the cool kids club, took turns yelling sh** like home-wrecker, slut, and b**** back into the kitchen through the buffet line.  I cried because of their cruelty.  It didn’t end there.  They harassed me at school and sporting events, anywhere I was and anywhere they saw me.  They keyed my car.  They would park so closely to it that I couldn’t open the doors to get into it unless they moved their vehicles.  They spread rumors and smeared things on my locker.  Ripped pictures in my locker down and stole from it.  They were relentless.

I’m a nice girl, forgiving and empathetic.  I knew what she thought had happened so I didn’t retaliate.

In the meantime I decided to take up drinking to numb the pain of all of this bullying and to take a break from thinking about the identity crisis I was trying to find my way through.

Boom.  I was immediately great at it.  I was praised for the volume of booze I could tolerate.  I was a gold medal Olympian in the sport of intoxication.  Why not do it as much and as often as I could?  It shook the shy right off of me.  I could finally corner all of the scary b****es I hated and scream obscenities at them during parties.  I never actually remembered doing it but I heard plenty about it at school the next day.  Jesus.  I quickly lost my sh** altogether.

Shortly after turning 17 I started dating a dude.  He was cool and all, but romantic feelings were never really in my nature.  I submitted to his persistent requests to date him because he was funny, sweet, and, well, persistent.  We broke up every 2 weeks for one reason or another. He’d get me flowers and we’d date again.  My favorite thing about him was his patience.  He was a good guy.  At that point I had never kissed a boy and he was never pushy about it.  He continued to treat me like a valuable individual despite the absence of affection. He waited without making me feel pressured.   But, while he waited it seems others were plotting.  His best friend stole the first kiss.  What a jack ass.

One night after work we were all drinking and his buddy decided I needed a shoulder rub.  Sure. Why not?  Just as long as I can move my arms so I can drink copious amounts of this lime flavored vodka. When I had had enough, I turned around and thanked him.  He said, “You owe me more than that.” Mother F*****, I don’t owe you SH**.  These words were bouncing around between my ears but before I could open my mouth to say them aloud, he kissed me.  On the lips.  My very first time.

I ran up the stairs and told my boyfriend what had happened.  He punched a hole in the wall.  I cried under a table in the dark all night.  We didn’t date anymore.  Men were too much f***ing work.  They were also terrifying beasts with carnal urges I simply wasn’t willing to fulfill.  See, all the while those girls were calling me a slut, their boyfriends were calling me a prude.  What the f*** was I?  Good God, I was confused.

It wasn’t long after that I experienced something that further solidified my idea of men and what they thought my purpose was.  I had developed an idea of this as a child.  After being molested, bummer, I repressed the memory of the event but all of the concepts and feeling lingered.  Men were dangerous.  Men were beasts.  Men were expecting things of me I wasn’t willing to give.  I had high defenses and, to me, men were all the same.  Every man I didn’t know well or trust was to be treated as a suspect.  A dangerous predator.  One got by me, though.  He snuck right by security and did some damage on the inside.

I’m going to need to explain something here.  I no longer hold any bad feeling for this boy anymore.  I am, by NO means, excusing his behavior.  But, to be fair I feel I need to disclose that in that time acquaintance rape and date rape were hardly discussed.  Even now the laws regarding this matter are being debated and reformed.  As it stands in most states now, a person who is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol are not considered able to give consent.

I got wasted with a person I thought was my friend one night.  I don’t want to smear this man because he is a man now. Not a boy. He is no longer who he was then. But this event deeply impacted my life so I feel the need to speak about it.  I remember telling him I wasn’t interested in “fooling around” before we started drinking, but, with each drink he pushed further past my boundaries and when I woke I was no longer a virgin.  I don’t remember much about it.  Only flashes.  And at the time it was pretty common for people to get their date “loosened up” with alcohol.  He was just a kid.  But so was I.  When he denied that it had happened when my friends asked about it, I felt he was ashamed of me, not of what he’d done.

I felt at that point that I was just a conquest, a prize, a trophy on a mantle, a plaque on a wall, something to be looked at and used up.  Further and further down I went. “F*** being cute”, I thought.  This make-up.  These jeans.  Nothing but trouble.  Who the f*** was I?  Am I a slut?  Am I a prude?  Am I an angry belligerent beast on a crusade for justice like I am after 12 beers or a liter of vodka, or am I a shy and nerdy introvert like I am when I’m sober? What the f*** am I and where do I fit?

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Years and years and years of struggling with my identity, my purpose, and my traumas went by.  I barely made it out alive. The added torture of recalling bits and pieces of my childhood rape while blacked out felt like a rotten cherry atop a sundae made of vomit and dog sh**.

Based on what I had seen of the world, what most of the folks around were showing me, I had one purpose.  To be a toy.  To be viewed for pleasure and not heard or referred to with respect.  As they say, my insides didn’t match my outsides but every time I dyed my hair brown and wore glasses people called me a poser.

When I started putting that make-up on I started hiding the most valuable parts of me.  It was a literal mask I felt left a film no astringent could wash clear.  When I put on the make-up my true sense of self was concealed and I allowed it to smother my soul for decades.

There was a discord between what I thought people valued in me and what I actually valued in myself. I had no chance at happiness.  No shot at comfort.  Inevitably, I had no desire to live.

It took a long time and a hell of a lot of pain, but, at 200 pounds I finally realized that my outsides were only there to protect what lies within.  The skin protects the flesh beneath it.  The flesh protects the bone.  Bone and flesh protect the organs that create and use the fuel that carries my precious soul through this particular plane of existence.

All of it will rot.  All of it will change constantly and decay eventually.  The only thing that will last for eternity is the spirit I carry inside.  I know that for a fact because, as confused as that part of me was for all of those years, it stayed essentially the same.  Brave, kind, forgiving, solicitous, empathetic, impetuous, wild, humorous, emotional, hot tempered, sensitive, etcetera.

New behaviors can be learned and bad habits can be broken but I have to be who I am at the core in order to feel a necessary sense of self fulfillment.  That is what seems to drive me forward with stability and a sense of safety as I’ve seen all of that that is external waver and flicker in and out of my personal existence.

I have been lucky. I’ve had some incredible friends who are truly angels on Earth.  The difference between the one’s who’ve stayed and the one’s that went away was an unconditional appreciation and acceptance of who I REALLY am.  Some walked away, with great difficulty, as they were watching me destroy my true self.  No one should be forced to watch that. But, when I returned, there they were, waiting for me to return.

People I’ve been desperate to keep around, people I was convinced were good for me destroyed me slowly to bolster their own survival.  They fed on me and siphoned my energy.  When they were taken away I was made free, one piece at a time so long as I was willing to do the work to reclaim what I’d lost.

Then there were those that I lost but truly needed.  With their departure they left me great gifts.  In the wake of their loss I learned I was more than I had previously thought.  I inherited parts of their spirit that I now honor by allowing it to live inside of me and in my actions, words, and mindset.

The great lie I once lived has been proven false by circumstance, experience, and triumph over cruel turns of fate.  I have realized I need to maintain my sense of self.  I fought for it.  I’m keeping it.  I will nurture it.  It would be selfish of me not to.  Harming myself to suit the needs of others will do no one any good.  If they truly need me and I’m not truly me I am lying to them and dying inside.  No one can benefit from such an arrangement.

I knew who I was and then, I forgot.  32 years old and I’m back.  I’m finally able to be a real benefit to those I encounter, confidently aware of my assets, humbly recognizing my weaknesses, and, most importantly, unafraid to let everyone see it all in it’s entirety without the illusion of that worn out old mask.  Ready, willing, able, and unafraid to let some go or let some in because, within myself, my spirit is whole enough again to live without the ones I lose and strong enough to stand tall in the presence of any other.

All I need, I find within myself.

 

 

 

 

 

Dad

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I’m a single mother now.  This is new for me.  Sort of.  I was prepared.  I knew it was coming.  Even still,  I sit here,  exhausted. 

Three kids,  one woman,  and my 66 year old father.  We live in a trailer.  I’ve recently applied for food stamps.  I’ve been a stay at home mom for 10 years so the job hunt isn’t really panning out at the moment.  I’ve even applied for fast food and chain mega stores.  No word. 

We won’t starve due to the generosity of my daddy,  my hero.  We won’t be homeless either because of his kind heart.   But,  he’s not responsible for these kids.  I am.  I feel like a leech with three baby leeches attached to me just SUCKING EVERY BIT OF LIFE OUT OF THE OLD MAN’S BONES.  Christ. 

I have an abundance of faith helping me sleep at night and my father shares the same virtue so he walks around sharing the same smile I wear.  Which is nice. I just can’t help but wonder when I see him mowing my lawn,  when will he get his day of rest?  

He loves helping us.  He was born to serve.  A United States Marine in his teens and a dedicated father throughout my life.  He’s amazing.  It’s his birthday tomorrow.  I have nothing to give him.  He won’t expect anything but I feel bad,  nonetheless. 

When I’m exhausted it’s become a tendency of mine to focus on the plight of others because sometimes I’m just too tired to be optimistic and focus on the good stuff. Its everywhere.  It’s easy to see.  It’s all around me literally screaming in my face but when my wretched soul gets weary,  I have a difficult time focusing on it.  It’s just easier to look at the struggles of others and feel grateful in that sense while doing whatever I can to help them rise as altruism is a state of mind most fulfilling.

And my father,  he’s the closest.  The nearest and dearest. Someone who has sacraficed great things and has basically been forced out of retirement to help myself and my children survive.  He’d never complain.  He doesn’t show any sign of pain.  Much of the empathy I’ve felt for him is based on what I would feel in his situation and have surmised.

The thing most unfair for him in this situation isn’t in the work,  physical labor,  or financial worry.  He has watched his daughter suffer,  too long,  too great.  As a parent myself,  I can tell you that sh** hurts.   I would do,  and have done, incredibly painful things to make sure my children won’t suffer but,  sometimes we’re helpless in the struggle to keep our kids safe.  Sometimes,  they’re in God’s hands and it hurts like hell to turn over that control.  To allow an angel to guide and guard them.  To let the Creator form and mold them through pain.  It hurts.  It hurts like hellfire. 

My entire family feels helpless.  They’re so far away.  Here I am,  fighting for my life, and they can’t reach me.  But,  I believe I was meant to do this mostly on my own.  I have had tremendous help and support.  We’d be homeless and hungry without my father.  But,  for the most part,  this fight is mine to wage.  I’m not alone in it.  The back up and support I’ve received has been life saving and some of it has rained down from God Himself.

Tomorrow is my Father’s birthday.   I have nothing material to give him.  So instead of material nonsense,  I’ve decided to gift him with words.  They’re all I have to offer,  as usual.

I have always been a daddy’s girl and a tomboy.  I followed him around the garage with eager ears as a child.  He taught me to fix things,  properly,  to last   and to be reliable.  Most of all,  he made me laugh. That has been an invaluable gift for me throughout my life,  as I often found it difficult to smile from the inside.  

If I had a question,  and I had many,  he always had an answer.  Sometimes he made the answers up entirely,  as I discovered when I learned to read,  but with his willingness to be ready with these responses,  often humorous,  he showed an attentiveness and interest in my learning that created this knowledge thirsty beast I’ve always been. He never shushed me or turned me away,  he always answered.  He always answered with a proud smile. 

He worked hard everyday and he did it for us and refused to carry stress into our home.  He didn’t have the heart to punish me,  rarely ever raised his voice.  He was wrapped around his girl’s little fingers and he didn’t care who knew.  

He loved my mother,  with all his heart.  For a little girl,  that’s an important thing to see. He treated that amazing woman like the queen she was,  every day,  every way,  until the day she died,  he never left her side.  He made it damn near impossible for my sister and I to find any man good enough for us as he treated us all so well.   But,  he also taught us that we didn’t need to go looking because within ourselves we would find everything we would ever need. 

As a child,  his life story amazed me.  I couldn’t believe anyone could be that good and that strong.  To briefly sum things up,  as if I’m any good at that,  he’s a total badass with a soft heart and selfless nature.

He left his family when he was 15.  Never graduated high school,  dropping out in the 9th grade,  but he had to take the military intelligence test twice because he had such a high score that they thought he had cheated.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps as a minor and went to Vietnam as soon as they could send him.  He stayed for over 2 years in that jungle.   He hasn’t said much about his time there.  The veterans of that war rarely do.  He came home to cruelty and dishonorable treatment, but he still went where directed as an honorable man does,  battling forrest fires with his fellow soldiers.   They were the only cats crazy enough to drive into the flames.  Thank God for brave men like my father.

He had some wild years then.  Some turbulent ones.  I understand it all too completely.  And his understanding of my trying times was something that kept me alive.  There was real empathy there,  between him and I,  and it was the only thing that made me feel I wasn’t alone.  It kept me from giving up when he’d tell me,  “You’re strong and you’ll make it through this.” I KNEW he knew.  I KNEW he felt it.  I KNEW he meant what he said and even though he had to say it hundreds of times,  those words, from him, never lost their meaning.  His words saved my life,  many times.

He has always been present.  He has always been kind.  He has been my biggest fan and comedian during very dark times.  He’s come to my rescue every time that I’ve called,  even if the best thing to do was to make me suffer my own consequences.   He had, and still has, the strength to let me fall and the intelligence and knowledge to know just when to step in. 

He’s my hero and the only real hero I’ll ever have because,  to this little girl,  he has been and will always be, the picture of exactly what a man should be.  He’s been treated poorly so many times but he refuses to be unkind.  He has had to endure incredible suffering but he still laughs from his belly and makes sure others smile.  He’s cooked my meals and tucked me in without shame or any fear that these acts would damage his masculinity.  He made sure we knew that a man’s measure isn’t in muscles,  bank statements,  or power.  His ability to love and protect the lives he’s been charged with caring for is what really matters in the end.  My Daddy,  well I measure his ability to do this in the way his daughters and wife love him in return.   

Love ya Dad.  You’re my hero.  The words “thank you” can’t express what I feel.  You’ve saved many lives while you’ve lived your own with integrity and decency and you saved mine a hundred times with your kindness,  encouragemnt,  unfailing love,  and clear example of exactly what a person should be.

Losing a mother.

I’ve never experienced pain like I felt when I lost my mother.  People who haven’t experienced it will not understand until they feel it themselves.

   A mother is special.  A mother is irreplaceable.  That bond. There is nothing to compare to it.

I knew my mother before I was born.  She is deeply set in my memories.  Her heartbeat and muddled voice were the first sounds my developing mind ever heard.  She held me in her belly before anyone had the chance to place me in their arms.  She was the only familiar one I met when entering into my new life. The only one that needed no introduction.  The only one I had ALWAYS known.

It was her voice singing me lullabies.  Her face peering into my crib hour after hour,  night after night.  She woke repeatedly to feed me,  change me,  bring me comfort if she could figure out how.

I was a fussy baby so this bond was very strong because she had to spend extra time holding,  bouncing,  swaying,  rocking,  singing,  patting,  burping,  feeding, smiling,  crying,  breathing calmly while she wept furiously in exhaustion so I wouldn’t sense her fear.

She continued to grow in patience,  strength,  and love as I grew in inches,  pounds,  and feet.   No matter where I wandered or wondered, her watchful heart was with me.  No matter what I said or did,  she loved me openly,  loudly,  without conditions. 

She was the one who did the most so she was the one who took the most blame.  When my rowdy teenage years hit,  this woman who was in charge of figuring me out, well, she just couldn’t.  So, of course, in my desperate state, I blamed her.  I blamed her for not fixing me.  I blamed her because I was broken  though she tried every possible thing to mend my broken heart.

I couldn’t see how much love was in every gentle nudge and hard shove that led me in the right direction until I became a mother myself.  Looking down at my baby who was crying in that crib, I’d wondered if she felt the same.   The overwhelming amount of affection and protection that are born in a mother when given a child to care for.  She had it,  I have it,  we bonded again.  This time as mother’s,  the two of us.

Then I moved away to try to keep my family together, for the first time my hard heart missed someone.  Not my hero,  my daddy.  Not my best friend,  my sister.  But the woman I was just starting to know as she really was.  My mother.  I missed my mother.

I remember the first time that missing someone brought me to tears.  I got sick and used chest rub and the smell overwhelmed me.  Euphoric recall of some sort set in.  I felt like a child.  I remembered the soothing sense that came as my mother rubbed it on my chest and sang over my bed.  I finally missed her.  I finally knew her.  I finally appreciated her as ALL of the memories flooded in.

Then the bad news came.  I was desperate to keep her.  Desperate to be with her.  It just wasn’t possible.  They said she had 6 months.  I was on my way to the airport.  She died before we got on the plane.

I felt shame and guilt like never before.  Impossible for my softened heart to bear.  I felt like I’d hurt her.  I owed her my LIFE,  literally.  I was supposed to be there. All of the years I had struggled while blocking out her voice must have felt like torture.

I heard that as she lay dying she hallucinated about me.  About myself and my children being in that room.  That thought killed me inside knowing how badly she wanted me and sadly,  I wasn’t there. Later on,  I reflected,  I felt grateful for her imaginings.  To her,  we really were there.  

The most powerful thing I inherited from my mother was not money. I got her fire and strength.  And as I battle real demons,  as I fight for my own,  I intend to use it.  Without hesitation. 

She’s with me when I need her still.  Butterflies and red birds appear every time I feel weak.  Every lesson she taught me flooded back to me. 

Her words have been uncovered,  once buried in my subconscious,  no longer lost under resentments and fear.

I miss her every day.  I will never be able to thank her.  No one with a great mom can truly repay what’s been freely offered.  The sacrafices,  the hours,  the damage to her body,  the exhaustion on her spirit,  I cannot repay.  But,  I can do my best to be as loving as she was with my babies whom she loved as much as she loved me.

I’ll repay her by being the woman she raised me to be.  I’ll repay her by making her proud one more time by being her reflection,  using the lessons and gifts she gave me to make the lives of her grandchildren great.  By making the life of her baby girl great.  By being happy,  joyous,  and free as I was when she rocked me in her arms as a child. Because,  as a mother I know,  that is our one greatest desire.  For our children to be whole and happy as I finally am.  Because of her.

Even as I sit here now without her I realize, she gave me everything I need. She protected me by teaching me how to protect myself and anyone else that I feel needs protection. I suppose she did as I have done. Whispering promises into an infants ears. I won’t fail because of her. She never failed me.

I was crying on the steps as a blue bird came near. Honestly. It sat close by. Closer than a wild bird should. It looked at me. It stayed still. Then I smiled and said, “I love you” outloud. THAT is when it flew away.

Thank you, Momma.

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Darker than the darkness

Silence woke me today.  The darkness became even darker and jolted me from my sleep. I looked outward, pillow in my peripheral, still and silent.  Afraid to move.

The feeling of oppression lingers.  Heaviness that labors my breathing lays atop my chest.  It feels like my heart is barely beating at times, then it begins thumping wildly. It’s about to burst.  I can hear it pounding in my ear drums.  I can feel it’s frightened rhythm banging on my brain.

There’s a shadow in the pitch black and it stares at me. I feel it and wonder when she’ll leave me as I lay petrified there, in shock.

I recognize her essence, lonely-dark and angry.  She’s fearful, lost, and worthless.  Broken without bandage.

Her eyes, they never open, though they’ve seen it all.  All terrifying, awful-dark. Like a black hole absorbing light.

She’s trapped within her memories. Too afraid to peer past the lids of her eyes. Afraid to make any more.

So much evil from out there has entered her. Her hatred can’t be contained.  She doesn’t want to hurt anyone but unfathomable cruelty left ugly stains on her, inside of her tiny soul.

She’s confused and locked inside that space. Desperate for freedom but unfamiliar with it. She wonders if what she is used to might be safer than the new place.

I’d like to tell her what sunshine feels like when it rests upon her shoulders but I can’t explain her out of there. She’s hiding for a reason.  We’re all liars who can’t be trusted. We’re dangerous and she’s afraid.

We need to stay away from her so she can learn to break the shadows that swallowed her. They’ve been chewing her up but she’s one to savor.  There’s no gulping her down as she keeps changing flavors.  She won’t give up her fight.

I could never leave her there, but over time she’s needed less of me.  As I grew she used my energy. She stepped back and further away. Wishing me the best as the distance grew between us.  I’ll never say goodbye.  I refuse to chase her away.

Her presence still alarms me as she appears inside these desperate nights.  But, now her visits are brief and haunting, meant to remind me of things inside of me that I left behind and despise.

She’s going to be hiding in that corner, in my shadow as I walk away.  But, I’ve outgrown the need for her company, and she sees her future in what I have become while she’s visiting from that other plane.  Her view of me now may be the only reason that I never did give up.

I’m sad when I see her over there. I’m afraid I’ll let her in. But she doesn’t claw at my feet anymore or beg for me to hold her.  She doesn’t cry when I won’t pick her up and allow her to cling to my skin.

I think she’s here tonight so I’ll remember.  A warning. A memory.  A ghost that lives beside me.

Beside me, outside of me, resides with me, alongside of me.  No longer inside of me where she doesn’t belong.

That shadow, darker than black, that used to rush toward me.  She stands still now sending me forceful feelings but no longer impresses, only refreshes the stalwart soul we share.

I still want her to open her eyes so that I can see the gray and green in them, but history and this story would change completely if she did. We like how it is here now.

Even with her lingering there, longing, lonely, and lost.  We like it here, with her sightless gaze upon me, wordless.  She’s too sleepy for those but her exhaustion never applied to her emotions.  They are effortlessly expressed between the two of us.

She’s quiet.  My aura silenced her.  My eyes closed as I felt hers opening.  We smile together as I rock us both to sleep using the hope that we divide.

There she goes.  Here I am. Neither of us know where we are headed.  Only one of us knows where we’ve been.  Both glean necessary strength from the other in weakness.  Both living parallel and separate lives.  Completely connected.  Absolutely independent.

Now, I slip back into the space between awake and asleep where I am able to clearly see every part of me.  I wish I could hold a pen in this place. I wish I could remember all I see before I fall in too far.  But the feelings I gather while visiting there, they leave a lasting mark.

The dark little me in the corner and I, we’ll meet again, another day. She always sensed she was needed though she never knew by whom. Now she realizes clearly, though, as she falls back to sleep, here, in her room.

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Words from a boy

I just asked my oldest son if he knew I kissed his cheek and whispered “I love you” into his ears while he slept every night.  His reply made me cry for the tenth time today.  He told me that often in his dreams,  someone he’s talking to will whisper those words to him, in my voice,  and then carry on the works of his imagination without regard to the comment I’ve implanted in his slumbering subconcious.  He recalled it instantly,  genuinely,  with amazement.  He responded as if a great mystery now made sense. 
I guess my work is done.  All I have ever wanted for my children is that they KNOW,  with certainty,  that my love will never fail or flee.  He knows.  I’m sure his brother and sister know as well.  I can’t stop smiling and looking at their sleeping faces with awe.
I have had a rough mother’s day.  I miss my mother greatly,  though her strength lives within me.  I want her,  especially now.
Now that I have found some of the memories, hidden away. Not hers, but his.
I found a movie stub for “Juno” and a familiar phone number and name on a scrap of paper I have saved for nearly ten years.  They brought back too many memories for me to keep from rolling forth from my eyes. 
I saw how my motherhood began and compared it to it’s current state.  I have to say,  I’ve become one of the best.  But,  I’m only human,  still seeking approval,  validation,  and praise.  No,  I don’t need it,  but it would feel nice.
I’m never lonely,  always dripping in hugs and snuggles,  but I’m aching to be held by someone bigger than me.  Cradled,  protected,  cherished.  I haven’t had that in such a long time. 
That’s the biggest problem with being a tough chick. No one seems to realize that you desperately need the reassurance of a soothing embrace. I’ve often shuddered as many have tried to hold me, force me into a place of warmth. Help is uncomfortable for those who are unfamiliar with it, especially those who have fought long and painful darkness, years unending, to become self sufficient, knowing that needing someone often causes more pain when they fail.
I can metaphorically say God is holding me,  because he is,  but it’s not the same.
But,  I’ll be patient this time.  I’ll wait.  I can now.  I’m not the lost little girl I once was.
I’m a woman,  with abilities and assets that shant be wasted,  unappreciated, unloved anymore.
I can’t be hasty.  I need to be free again.  Freedom can be lonely when looking back at what’s been lost.  I’m not going that way,  though.  So,  eyes forward for now as I’ve managed to turn another house into a home,  lifting furniture like a beast and working all day,  into the night,  to create comfort in a time of disturbance. 
I fill my lonely spot with memories today,  ones I won’t insult with the terrible taste of tears.  I’ll feel the joy fill me without the thoughts of how it could’ve been, because it isn’t,  it just isn’t.
Happy mom’s day, beautiful creators.  Let my son’s words reassure you.  No act of love,  ignored or small,  goes unnoticed or to waste. Every bit lives inside of them,  even if you never know it.  So keep loving them like only YOU can,  Momma.  They need it.

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Gone

My heart has been hurting these last few days as I swing wildly from ecstatic freedom down to the depths of mourning frequently now.  None of it is debilitating but all of it is uncomfortable.  I loved him too much, because that’s the only way I know how to love, truthfully.  It’s become obvious that I loved him far more than he loved me.  S**t, I loved him more than I loved myself or I would’ve been gone long ago.  I’m stuck in the “why’s” again.  Like that’s any of my business.  Many opportunities were given to do the right thing.  None were accepted, so here we are.  Today I miss him.  We’ve all missed him for over a year.  We’ve grown used to the type of longing that feels strangely similar to the feelings I’ve had for the one’s I love that i left behind when we moved away.  There is hope in that loneliness.  We grew accustomed to it.  They still live in that illusion because I’ve padded the truth, as usual.  I’ve explained things, as I have always done, in a way they can accept and understand.  They don’t suffer.  Today that agony is mine.  I miss him.  I miss that stupid throat noise he made when he was over joyed as he grabbed one of us and held us closely to his chest.  I miss the warmth in that chest. I miss the soft heart held within it.  I miss the thoughtful acts.  Like the surprise trips to the bookstore before taking me to a movie.  I miss how he’d make me laugh while I tried hard to be angry.  I miss him dancing like an idiot just to make me smile.  If he’d always been my monster, I never would have loved him but now he’s the creature that only lives in my nightly nightmares. I miss him more when I wake up sweating and crying, looking for his arms to hold me.  I won the battles that caused the fear and am fairly certain I’ll win the war but damn do I hate doing it. I hate what has to be done but I’ll never hate him, or them.  The cold shoulders and silent stares are painful, true. I loved all of them too much.  I always will because that’s who I am.  I’ve only ever had the capacity to hate myself. I’ll continue to show them this love even as it goes unrequited because I know no other way.  In my opinion, the point of loving someone isn’t to gain anything, not one thing at all, but to show the one receiving that love how worthy they are of it all. I’ve finally come to a point in my life where I actually love myself.  I love myself enough to know I don’t need everyone else to.  But, some days it hurts to know that he probably never looked in through the window at me teary eyed because of the gratitude he felt for having me like I’ve done so many times. It hurts to know that he’s gone forever. Like Mom. Like Uncle Roger. Uncle Loran. Aunt Shannon. All gone within the last 4 years. I’ve become a professional griever. I’m going to make it through this.  I have to move forward though he stands still as stone.  Trapped in a tortured statue. Encased and suffocating, surrounded by thick and heavy concrete made up of all of the deadly sins. He’s gone forever and I’ll miss him everyday, but he’s not him anymore.
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I cried last night

Last night was a rough one for me.  When things are quiet and dark, with no distractions and no interruptions, my thoughts flow furiously through me.  I was forced to face reality again.  I cried last night like I haven’t in weeks.  Waiting for justice is exhausting.  Fearing an unfavorable outcome, grieving the loss of someone who is still alive, resisting the temptation to dwell on the “fairness factor” that seems to still be missing in it all, I was overtaken and the tears burst free.  They came in ugly sobs and pitiful whimpers.  I was like a damned lost puppy.  I have my moments.  I’m only human.  I have searched for protection in every face, everywhere, for as long as I can remember.  My parents tried.  They tried hard.  Life and circumstance and my own poor choices made their efforts inefficacious and all of the others I chose for the job ran into the same problems.  My self hatred and tendency for self abuse and destruction caused me to accept situations and treatment undeserved because I intimately knew how much worse it could be.  I settled for the lesser of the evils far too many times, running into the arms of the alpha, even if the alpha was cruel.  I’d justify it and excuse it because, at least the alpha had some sense of control, telling myself it’s better to be abused by one than by many. I limited my potential by settling for these dogs and the small plot of territory they ruled over.  I’m not a dog, though. The suspicion that I didn’t belong among them has been affirmed and legitimized.  I don’t belong there.  I don’t belong anywhere.  I belong everywhere.  I am the alpha in a place I created.  Looking back, universal forces have prepared me to protect myself and to protect others as well.  I have been proven capable, strengthened and fortified by experience, given the wisdom needed to navigate any part of the world I enter into by choice or by force.  I had been following the rules of a dying generation and those rules no longer applied.  My elders had tried to lead me out of the darkness, bright lights shining on my face.  I couldn’t see past the glare and I got lost so I wandered and grasped at the walls.  I had to find my own light, it burns inside me brightly now.  I stumble and fall, frequently.  I will always have moments like I did last night because I have been blessed with a wonderful burden.  Too many emotions reside inside of me.  Too strong to contain.  While others can scarcely fill a drinking glass with theirs, I struggle to contain the ocean in a gallon jug.  I read something like that in Wuthering Heights and when I read it and realized there were others like me, that there always had been, it felt like someone punched me in the heart.  I cried last night.  I let the pain fall from my eyes because it had been resting atop my spirit for far too long.  I cried last night, looking for the hero inside of me but she was hiding.  She does that from time to time to let the lost girl out.  The vulnerable one.  The hero hides so she can cry alone, without shame.  I cried.  I cried hard.  I fell asleep.  In my dreams I saw my friend Andrea and she asked me for help.  I handed to her my abilities and assistance and was reminded of the toilsome task at hand, but, I was also reminded of the wonderful people that have been placed in my life to support, to guide, and to bring me joy, just when I had begun to feel the lonesomeness again.  My best friend, the one from my dream, my soul sister, lives thousands of miles away. Most of my proven friends do. But, she found her way into my dreams to bring me comfort and to make me laugh. She reminded me of who I am just as I was beginning to forget. I woke with a smile and sense of peace only palpable to those who have experienced true triumph over trauma. I woke, after all. How dare I frown being given the gift of another breath? I woke with a smile, and I’ll use that smile, to disarm and dissolve my oppressors.  I cried, but I smile, and over and over again, I am grateful for it all.wp-1461160936616.jpg