change · creativity · life · mental-health · poetry · writing

Letting Go is Complicated

This confined life –
carefully construed –

ingrains order,
commands discipline.

I can free myself
from urbanity,
declare adventure
as prerogative, but

how long before
I release the need
for control, unburden
internal restraints

let go, and open
to divine rhythms?

Doubt I possess
the trust required
to live with such
uncertainty.

(Submitted for Twenty Four’s 50 word Thursday.  Photo is part of the prompt.)

abuse · Family · poetry · women's issues

Daughters

You think we don’t know
what happens in the darkest hours;
that somehow slumber blankets,
plunges us into oblivion….

The same slamming of fists
that awakens you, alerts,
drags us from deepest sleep,
thrust into the violence

No amount of denial shields
from the trail of bloody droplets,
witnessing his arm on your throat,
threatening….always threatening…

we have risen to burning rubber
watched with the same submissive spite,
powerless to call for help, muted by
the futility of endless abuse, bystanders

cowered by a caregiver’s venomous spittle,
estranged witnesses,  marginalized,
held hostage by the choking reality
of an offending appendage.

(Image:  Pinterest)

 

life · nonfiction · spirituality

The Drive Behind the Quest

I was nine, when I first asked God to let me die: I’d had enough of life. By the time I was fifteen, I was pleading: “Really, God. I am happy with all the experiences I’ve had. You can bring me home now.”

Once I realized that my mortality (suicide aside) was not negotiable, and convinced that God had forsaken me, I was determined to control my own destiny. Intolerance and judgment became my life maps. I went into overdrive to “get there”, wherever “there” was. I worked long hours, partied hard, and grasped at opportunities. I forgot to pack an emergency kit, so when life broke down, I was not prepared.

One thing I did know: my life wasn’t working for me.

That is when my quest began. I hungered for a deeper sense of purpose and an inner peace. I wanted to feel bliss and live from gratitude.

I first encountered the Tao through Tai Chi. “Tao means ‘how'” the instructor told me. “It seeks to explain the Universe.”

“Yes!” I thought. “This is what I need.”

I embraced spirituality with a great hunger, consuming philosophies and teachings with unbridled enthusiasm. My mind thrilled to the challenge of cryptic codes believing that I could find meaning and order in everything, and everyone, I encountered. My compulsive need to fix thrived under the poorly masked guise of “love and light”. I really hadn’t changed; I’d just chosen a different vehicle to drive.th-3

Until it all blew up and those I felt closest to walked away.

I still quest, but now it is for simplicity and contentment. I am tired of complication and drama. I have seen too much. I am focusing now on letting go; and supporting others in their choices, allowing for the beauty of life’s natural order (and disorder) to unfold before me.

Truth is, whatever control we think we think we have is an illusion for the most part. Self-control, maybe, but never where others are concerned. For me, my mishmash spirituality helps me hang up that hat: my chauffeur’s cap. I am not driving anyone anywhere these days. Instead, I hope that others invite me along because I am me, and that me spreads love, acceptance and support.

As I learned long ago, some choices in life our not our own, but how we live is.
I still have a lot to learn. Guess I’ll be around for a while.

(Feature image:  thejesuschick.com)(Other: www.inquisitr.com)

Uncategorized

Day 185 “The Desire to Control”

In the bedroom, my mother is trying to settle the baby.  I am in the kitchen trying to clean up when a gust of wind, followed by a wall of water hits me.  The floor around me is quickly filling up with this flood of elements and I push my way through to find the source:  the sliding glass window on my third story balcony is bent and off the track, unwilling to close. 

“Grab me duct tape,” I yell, but no one hears me, so I rush to find it, trying desperately to minimize the damage. 

Duct tape is no match for the storm brewing outside.  There is no way to fix this problem.

This dream has unsettled me.  I can’t shake the image and the feeling of hopelessness.  Too many responsibilities.  Too many things in need of repair.  How did everything get so out of control?

I know it is a dream, but the need for my inhaler coming out of it is real.  I have been struggling for weeks, no months, to get my breathing stabilized, and it is weighing on me.  I am the same age my father was when he was diagnosed with emphysema; is this to be my fate also?

I try to go back to sleep, but can’t shake the image and the feeling that there is no solution.  This is the end, my dream self realizes.  When I do slide back, the images are no different:  my baby daughter drowning in a pool and no one reacting but me, and I am too late; trying to take a shortcut home through the woods, only to find it is a dead end, blocked by police who turn me around, then realizing I have lost everyone, including myself. 

Deep despair.

The dream is flooded with images from my life.

The setting is reminiscent of the apartment I rented after my first divorce.  Marriage was to have been my salvation, but instead, here I was, more broken than before thrown back into the turmoil.  Just released from the hospital, my sister Mai came to live with me.  She was too fragile to live with my other sister, but the two were often present, adding to the chaos in my home.

The kitchen was how I defined myself at the time.  I could cook – had cooked at home for the family – and I became the mother figure for all lost and single souls looking for a home cooked meal and a warm place to land.  No one seemed to mind that my schizophrenic sister sat rocking endlessly in a chair in the corner, nor that my ailing (mentally as well as physically) older sister would drop in unexpectedly, bringing with her a constant storm of drama.   Maybe it was dinner theater for those whose lives were comparatively tame.

The baby is my middle daughter, who traumatized by illness during pregnancy, struggled in the first years of her life, unable to sleep and constantly screaming in pain.  For three years we dragged her from one specialist to the next desperately looking for an answer and eventually found one, but I remember the daily heart wrenching  feeling of inadequacy as a mother who couldn’t meet her child’s needs.

The path into the woods was the one I took so many days as a child to find solace.  Deep in the shelter of trees, there was peace and tranquility and it filled my soul many days and gave me the courage to carry on. The path is long gone and many have been lost in my life, myself included.

All my life, I have fought to overcome.  Overcome failure, dis-ease, dis-order, and in-sanity.

Bottom line, as the dream so eloquently points out, is that there never is a way to fix all that.  There is no sudden solution or ending.  The storms of life rage on, ready to unleash their power at any time, and the only hope – the only answer – is to hold ground through it and humbly pick up the pieces afterwards, knowing that this is the best anyone can do; the best anyone can be.

Control is an illusion.

disability · Family · health · life · memoir

Path Rights

Born underweight, and with a hole in her heart, my oldest sister seemed doomed from the start.   By the time I was born, her condition had deteriorated, and she spent most of her time in hospital.  My parents were told to expect the worst.  Open-heart surgery was the great new procedure that saved her life at thirteen.  She got better.

Two years behind her peers at school, she was hell-bent on catching up.  Years of being pampered had not helped her emotional development, and she was not afraid of acting out.  She loved being the center of attention, and didn’t care if it was for being good or bad.

Eleven years her junior, I found my sister’s volatility scary.  It was almost a relief when she would lock me out of the house, or ignore me for long periods of time.  Our relationship didn’t really develop until she gave birth to her own daughter, then she needed me.  I was a built-in babysitter.

I watched my sister jump from one bad relationship to another.  I witnessed my parents rescuing her time after time, and I was dumbfounded at her disrespect and lack of gratitude in return.

She could be sweet as anything when she wanted something, but if she wasn’t interested, or changed her mind, look out.

When she got sick again, I decided to explore ways to help her.  The more I learned about the body-mind connection, the more I was sure I could save her.  She laughed in my face.  You are so naive, she would say.  Or, You are playing with the Devil.  Personally, I’d always thought she was the devil.

One day, I decided that I would just let her be, and stop trying to change her.  I told her as much.  She tried to fight with me.  I stood my ground.  She cried.  Then finally, we talked.

“Everything I’ve been studying and doing is to help you,”  I explained.  “But it’s not working, so, I’m not going to push anymore.  You are sick, it is your life, and you have to do what is right for you.”

“You don’t understand,” she said.  She was right, I didn’t.  “I don’t know how to be any different.”

“What do you mean?”

“If I did what you say, and got better, then what?   Being sick gives me power.  It lets me get away with whatever I want.  How could I do that if I got better.”

She had a point.  Being sick gave her enormous power.  How could I argue with that.

In all the years that I had judged, and fought with my sister about her life, I had not appreciated that it was working just fine for her purposes.  We all have the right to our own paths.

adversity · culture · Family · life · memoir

Abuse and Money

I arrived home from school one day to find my mother sitting in a corner trembling, her face face blotched red and swollen from crying.  “Mom?”

The eyes that stared back at me were distant.  This was not my mother.  I took stock of the situation.  It was 3:15.  My little sister would be home from school in half an hour.   Dad would be home at 4:30 and expect dinner on the table.  Nothing had been started yet.  I dropped my books and got down to business.

“Mom.  You need to talk to me.  D is going to be home soon, and we have to get dinner on.  What’s going on?”

She nodded slightly.  “I can’t do it anymore.  Your father……..”  Her voice trailed off, but she didn’t need to say anything.  I knew how brutal my father could be.  I heard daily how stupid she was, and how she never cooked anything properly, even though that was her only job.  I wanted her to leave him, too.

“I’ll do whatever I can, Mom.  In two years, I can quit school, and get a job.  I’ll support us.”

Was that a faint smile?

“We’ll make it work, Mom.  We’ve got each other.”

Reaching for the pots and pans, I added, “Now what can we get started for dinner?”  There would be hell to pay if dinner wasn’t on the table the moment my dad walked in.

* * *

At twelve  years of age, I learned that money was what kept my mother in an abusive relationship.  It never occurred to me that she had the option of getting a job; she was a stay at home mom.  Five years later, we would go through a similar scenario, only then I was already living on my own, and had enough sense to get her to a lawyer.  In the end, my father convinced her to stay.

Years later, I would find myself a stay at home mom, with a husband who controlled the purse strings.  Like my mother, I felt powerless, and inferior.  Unlike my mother, I left anyway.  I braved poverty in order to find my worth.  Nevertheless,  I struggled, seldom able to give my children the material things they craved.  I felt guilty, worthless, inadequate.  After six years, I had a serious talk with God.

“God,” I said, “I want to make a difference in the world, but I can’t do it if I don’t even know where the next meal is coming from.”

I tried affirmations:  All my needs are always met; there is enough for everyone.

Eventually, things turned around. Yet, my relationship with money has not yet healed.  I want to be able to say the money’s the money, the way my new husband does.  I want to be able to see money as a means to an end, and not the end of my means.

My attitude towards money still needs work, but I am ready for change.

(Image:  empoweringparents.com)