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.)

adversity · aging · creativity · Humour · life · poetry · writing

On Snakes in Drawers

Moving on – it’s top priority,
sorting through the collected,
the unused, the forgotten –
ready to let it all go, but…

there’s a snake in the drawer
and the temptation is real –

to do the irrational, flee
in a panic, shoot the beast,
or set the house on fire –
I’m overcome with anxiety

there’s a snake in the drawer
and it sure is getting to me.

Practicality says this isn’t helping,
hasn’t got time for the drama, says
let it go, re-prioritize, focus on
what’s important, making progress

there’ a snake in the drawer,
and if it got in, it can get out

I’m terrified now, my skin crawling
with the certainty of confrontation –
the cold-bloodedness of a reptile
immobilizes me, and I’m certain

there’s a snake in the drawer,
and it will be the end of me.

Common sense directs me back
to the task at hand, uses distraction
to dissuade panic, promises to deal
with it tomorrow, tucks me in, but

there’s a snake in the drawer,
and I won’t sleep a wink, only…

I do, and in the morning light
it’s clear the snake didn’t make it
a lifeless body, coiled in death
revealing a harmless garter –

there’s a snake in the drawer,
dead now by my own negligence

an unfortunate serpent, lost
and afraid, misinterpreted
by a woman desperately trying
to move on, apparently still afraid.

(Day six of NaPoWriMo focuses on line breaks.  It’s not to late to join in
for National Poetry month.

life · poetry · recovery · spirituality

Letting Go

One hand clutches expectations
while the other clings to walls,
desperately seeking purpose

I have prayed for direction,
a driving need for acceptance,
a longing to be acknowledged

look for openings to procure
success, willing to commit
to hard work, self-sacrifice

have dreamt of a doorway
backlit with brilliant promise,
radiance waiting for release

Am I on the right path, will
this stumbling hope lead me
forward, help me find the way

I could not bear another fall
hands too full to stop the hurt
I am burdened by this quest

Not paying attention to the ground
before me, hit a pot hole, lose my
footing, knees buckle, arms flail

hands release their coveted hold
reflexively reach out, I am down
forced to look up, shame burning

startled to witness a single ray –
a beacon of light in the darkness,
signalling a turn in the road ahead

I pick myself up, hands smarting,
feel the openness of heart and mind
renewed inspiration guiding me

(Image: jackeavesart.deviantart.com)

aging · culture · life · poetry

A Wounded Pair

Depression desires a move –
maybe east, where the sun rises
and views are more picturesque

but espoused to Disability ensures
limitations – no multi-level dwelling
just a single story, easy access home

Surely, there is a place, where both
tales can co-exist, and Depression’s
suppressed flamboyance can soar

and Disability’s plentiful talent
can escape the darkened confines
of four dimly lit walls, be witnessed

She is actress and he is victim, and
a fresh start is required – ownership
that’s less costly – discovery a possibility

gorgeous, inebriating abundance –
a foundation of hope – no more
lowering themselves to circumstance

Yet, both are married to responsibility,
clutch it with terror, personal cravings
a menace – store their dreams in boxes

basement buried – the family home
a weighty treasure – ignore the niggling
call to downsize – prefer to embrace

their fateful fortunes with loyalty –
a wounded pair, reluctant to let go
fear an insurmountable barricade.
(Image: skydancingblog.com)

abuse · life · mental-health · poetry · recovery

Bundled Memories

I carry my past
in a long, white sack –
canvas like a sailor’s –
as if my life depends on it…

or a laundress toting
bundles, tied with string,
promises of toil and
recompense to come.

My contents are not
sustainable, though,
only sorry tales,
entangled woes
mutated into plastic
figurines, more comical
than menacing,
torment born of
pretense and shame.

I am eager to set
this burden down,
loosen the binds,
but self-assurance
and management skills
are just out of reach
a level above me

preoccupied with
organizing
appearances,
disinterested
in healing
old hag’s haunts.

Common sense says
let go, but I’m not sure
I can handle the repercussions,
fear there is more to suffer
for their release

can’t be sure I won’t be
feeding these frailties
to a bigger beast –
the stuff of nightmares –

once exposed will become
bait for a lascivious predator
who toys with ruffled emotion,
a vulture for vulnerability.

Is it not better to cast the
damned so far as to be
forgotten; to be free
for once and all, board
a bus on out of here
find comfort in masses
following a common drum?

My husband has license
to drive a bus, if I take
my chances, could we
prevail together?

How I wish I knew
the protocols of social
etiquette when involving
baggage, am so afraid of
igniting rage in anyone else
but me.

(Image:  www.ebay.co.uk)

adversity · dreams · Humour · life · poetry

Business Venture

Victim, whose season is always Autumn,
bloodied tears like fallen leaves trailing;
and Martyr, for whom worship and self-
sacrifice is a dietary requirement; propose
to venture into retail ownership – recreating

a former failed attempt; believing that if
you build it (again) they will come, as Ego
has promised.  “Well, it worked for that
Kevin guy,” Victim agrees; Martyr’s eyes
shine with adoration and eager anticipation.

Spirit says:  Let it rest.  Leave the past
where it belongs; there is a time for
everything and with patience your
future will reveal itself.  No need to
grasp; learn from failure and move on.

But Victim is headstrong, has something
to prove, believes her finest moments
are in the past, is certain she can change
it all if given another a chance, and Martyr
well, she goes along willingly, has faith…

They’ll serve the public, create a niche
that no one can ignore, save the world
with each item they sell, market health
and cure-alls, and invite miracles to
grace their square footage and forget

about reality, and bills, and licenses –
refuse to let overheads dictate downfalls,
convinced they are divinely guided,see
evidence in the motley crowds drawn
to their recycled vision, scheme to find

a new location, mooch off the unsuspecting;
Victim swearing not to repeat old patterns,
Martyr offering up her life, her family, to save
the dream – It will be okay, Ego says; It will be
okay,
Victim echoes; It will be okay, Martyr beams.

Spirit emits a silent sigh, has watched this
carousel ride for some time now, has a strong
inclination as to where this road will end, yet
knows that lessons can only be offered, and
perspective only gained through release.

 

 

health · just because · recovery

She is Ready, God

Ushering the last of the condolences out,
she turns and slowly shuffles her way back
down the grayed barren, institutional halls –
a shock of white hair bent over metal legs.

She pauses at the doorway – hesitates, feels
weight descending – the finality of her loss –
recalling the years of companionship, how
they were the Ma and Pa for staff and alike.

Wondering who she is now, willing herself
to pass, once occupied, now stripped bed,
the abruptness of silence accosting frailty –
at 88 she’s survived three husbands. Alone.

Laboriously, disrobing, hangs her mourning
dress, unrolls stockings past swollen calves,
winces at the pain of bloated feet, stiffens –
wills past the stark emptiness once more.

Routine carries her through nightly rituals,
and numbed with weariness, she slumps –
a bed-for-one poor remedy for what ails –
she turns to the wall – shunning harshness.

Tomorrow, reassurances and guilt-ridden
faces will hover over the arrival of another,
erasing memories, eradicating familiarity –
Too soon! she cries to unheeding darkness.

Take me too, she pleas to her unseen God.
I’ve had enough! But like the dawn she’ll rise,
comply with changes, adapt to new tides –
find her compassion, forgo self-indulgence.

She is awe-inspiring, this mother of mine,
a tireless sentinel of peace, selfless crusader
for love – acceptance her chosen weapon –
having navigated unimaginable adversities.

The buoyancy of her steps, now subdued,
the flames that framed her face – symbiotic
with passion – now extinguished, age spots
disguising freckles – yet her smile remains.

Do not mourn my passing, she instructs,
know that I have lived fully.  I do, I respond,
wishing her an effortless transition, silently
commanding courage, offering up a prayer:

May the angels that receive her wear red shoes,
and may they whisk her away in the flourish of
a big band chorus, inviting her to join the dance –
sprinkling the essence of her beauty as they go.

May she behold – clarity of ecstatic revelation –
the light that she has spread in this lifetime,
witnessing the masterpiece of her existence,
understanding for eternity, that she is love.

 

 

Family · life · mental-health · nonfiction · recovery · relationships

Simplicity: A Noble Quest

At thirty-one, I had to learn to change my approach to life, because the old way wasn’t working.

th-2The old way put me at the center of the family (even though I was fifth born), listening to and attempting to resolve every family issue:   Do you think your younger sister is okay living out there in isolation?  Your older sisters are not talking to each other.  I can’t talk to Mom, will you?  Why do men always leave me?  Your brother thinks I abandoned him as a child.  I can’t talk to Dad; he’ll listen to you. Your brother is coming to stay, and well, you know about his wife.   I can’t live with your Father.  And on and on.

The old way was me constantly trying to run from my problems, striving to be better, to do better, and to get ahead.  I was invested in the belief that if I could just do the right thing, my life would be perfect.  I beat myself up trying to reach some magical destination where peace would prevail, and all would be well with the world.

Attachments, chaos, interference, and desires were destroying me.  I lived in a perpetual state of strife and discontentment.

And then the blessing came:  my mind snapped.

As I picked up the pieces of my life, I had to learn to simplify.

th-3I was gifted with new objectivity.  I realized that even though my own life had come to a screaming stop,  everyone else’s went on without me.  The chaos and drama of my family continued, and for the first time in my life, I recognized that I had no ability to control it.  Never had.  My need to feel important and responsible in the midst of that whirlwind was my own sick way of coping.  Nothing I said, did, or sweat over was going to change the outcomes.  I learned to detach and stop interfering.

Mom and Dad are trying to run my life.

“You are strong and have supports.  I trust that you can deal with this.”

Find out what’s wrong with your sister.

“I have my own relationship with my sister, and would prefer that you do the same.  Let’s not get them confused.”

It was the first step to learning to breathe again.

Losing my mind also put a stop to all that rushing around.  I was forced to stand still, which meant everything I had been running from caught up to me.  Egads!  I went into therapy.

th-4My family, I came to understand, dealt with dilemma’s by creating more distractions: new problems.  Our momentum came from the next crisis and there was never any shortage of those.  The problem with this way of living is that the underlying message is that there is something so wrong, so unmentionable, that it is not safe to relax, and so we hang on until the next cliff hanger.  The only control I had in all of this was to no longer choose to be part of it.  Peace, I discovered, was an inner journey and not an outer destination.  Boy, had I been on the wrong track!

“What is it that you really desire?”  the therapist asked me one day.

“I don’t know,” came the response, and it was true.  I had been driving myself so hard, I had forgotten what it was that I was aiming for in the first place.

Life, I concluded, is not a game in which the person with the best ideas, and the most responsibility wins.  It is a journey of moments, and discoveries, and connections, which if we’re not careful, we will miss.  Simplicity, my heart’s actual desire, is being able to minimize the attachments, resist the need to interfere, and be the calm at the center of the storm.

I’m still working on it, but at least now, I am more aware.

Uncategorized

Day 150 “Daily Loss”

I was just twenty-two when I met my children’s father.  With one failed marriage behind me, I was grateful for this man that considered me worthy of sharing a house and raising his family,  so when he took me home for the first time, as a new wife and mother, I wanted to make a good impression.

Stewart’s mother had passed away the year before we met, and his father had been to visit prior to us making our vows, but his siblings were a mystery.  We arrived unannounced, having flown eight hours with our four-month-old daughter.  His father greeted us with open arms, thrilled that we made the trip.  We had barely settled in when his first sister and husband arrived.  I waited, out of sight, giving Stewart a chance to say hello.

Squeals of delight accompanied the greetings, and I gathered that the couple had just returned from a vacation in a sunny locale.  In response to a question about their trip, Stewart’s sister responded:  “It was lovely, except for those bloody northerners.”

I felt my face begin to flush.  My father’s family came from the north of England.  I had no time to compose myself before they were ushered into the kitchen to make my acquaintance.  Thrusting out my hand, I declared:  “Hi, I’m your new sister-in-law – one of those bloody northerners.”  It was not a good start.

The day progressed in much the same way.  When my husband’s older brother arrived, I noticed that his loafers were missing one of their tassels.  Trying to inject some humour into an uncomfortably stuffy situation, I blurted:  “Nice tassel.”  All eyes were immediately upon me. 

“Pardon me?” the tone was incredulous.

“You are missing a tassel.  I was just trying to be funny.”

My new brother-in-law looked at me with a glint in his eye.  “Do you know what the word ‘tassel’ means to us?” 

I didn’t know, but I was certain it wasn’t good.

“It means penis”  his wife chirped in.  “You’ve just admired his personals.”

If I hadn’t felt so close to tears, I might have found it funny.

Stewart’s youngest sister just came right out and said what she was thinking.  “We don’t honestly know what to think of you – we never thought Stewart would marry, and now here you are and with a baby as well.”

After a night’s sleep, I was ready to try anew.  Having settled the baby, I busied myself in the kitchen, making a hearty breakfast for the others.   The smell of bacon and sausages lured them in with murmurs of appreciation.  Freshly brewed tea was sipped in anticipation of the feast to follow.   I heaped the food onto plates, added fresh toast, and watched as my new family happily consumed my offerings.  Brushing aside yesterday’s disappointment, I felt renewed hope.  When the food was all gone, and everyone was sated, Stewart’s youngest sister offered to clean up.  I went to retrieve the now waking baby.

“You’ve ruined a perfectly good pan,’  my sister-in-law confronted me when I returned.  “What kind of an idiot are you that you would use a steel spatula on a non-stick pan?”

I didn’t know, was what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t risk responding – the tears were threatening.  I had never used a non-stick pan before.  At home, we had cast iron.  “Sorry”  was all I could blurt out.

“I should think so!”

I knew in that moment that I would never be good enough for this family, and I felt and all the guilt and shame that had shadowed me all my life, as the daughter of dysfunctional parents.

* * *

“You must look back and forgive that young woman,”  my therapist advises.  “See it from a new perspective.”

Let go of some of your clutter, Derek Lin writes in today’s reflection.  Let go of something everyday. 

The clutter I need to clear out is emotional and psychological.  Every time I cook eggs, I am reminded of that day and how I was such a disappointment to that family.  We are divorced now, and they are no longer a part of my life, but the guilt and shame obviously live on.

Today, I will let go of the guilt that serves no purpose.  I will recognize that making mistakes does not make me a bad person, and let go of the shame. 

Today, I will let go of those emotions that stop me from enjoying life, and make room for self-acceptance instead.