abuse · adversity · poetry · recovery · writing

Cracking the Code

Adept at uprooting,
conditioned to follow chaos –
know my place there.

Kindness unsettles –
each ray piercing
cracking the crust

unleashing a prism
both painful and joyous –
legacy of dysfunction.

(Poem from Twitter @Vjknutson.  Image from personal collection.)

 

 

abuse · Family · mental-health · poetry · recovery · writing

Weighted Down

Weighted down.

I swallow rocks
to anchor this restlessness –
no exit available.

Would love to re-locate,
check self-assessment
into a sunnier place –
but the room is not ready.

I shove it back down –
am a silhouette
against stormy horizons.

My sister and I meet here,
at the edge of denial,
both seeking calmer waters –
she swims; I crave a shower

we are haunted in our sleep –
shadows clouding dreams –
projections of mermaid possibilities
and electric blue skies, dimmed

I gain ground, sifting
through basements, tossing
old ideals, reminiscing cynic;

she breaststrokes through debris
of family storms, ignoring the rubbish-
polluted pool, maintains motion

I am submerged, trying to work out
a relationship with father –
long since deceased, still present

have opened the contents
of our stored horror – no choice
but to carry on…

we are bit players in a staged drama –
no fame to add acclaim – just misguided
endings, fragile audiences, and
a sisters following
a different light

weighted down.

(Weighted Down first appeared here in September of 2016, and has stayed with me, begging to be revised.  Today, as I was playing around with images, I created this one (featured) and felt that it depicted the essence of the poem.   It was time.  I am also submitting this for V.J.’s weekly challenge:  shadows.)

 

 

 

blogging · nonfiction · relationships · writing

Finding Light After Divorce

Jilted by a philandering husband and defrauded out of my share of the assets, I made a convincing victim.

“You are righteously angry,” a friend counselled.

Perhaps so, but something niggled at me.

“A man does not stray unless there is a reason,” someone said, and I felt as if she looked right through me, could see the flaws at my core.  My mother’s repeated warnings came back to me:  “No one will ever love you.”

What is wrong with me?  my broken heart wailed.

Urgency drove me to find answers.  I never wanted to go through this again.  I had to know why my life had turned out this way.

I read.  I read Daphne Rose Kingma’s Coming Apart, and Susan Anderson’s The Journey from Abandonment to Healing, and The Mastery of Love by don Miguel Ruiz:  all offering glimpses of insight and understanding – something I could hold on to.  So many books passed through my hands and desperate to learn more, I turned to a galley copy of a book I’d received as a bookstore owner.  A commercial piece, now released, but that I’d never bothered with in the past, having stashed it beside many other soon-to-be published editions.

It was Relationship Rescue by Dr. Phil McGraw.

“Too Late for this, really,” I told myself but I decided to give it a chance.

Dr. Phil wrote the words I had suspected all along:  good relationships begin with the self.  His advice made sense, and more than that, I felt like I was finally onto something.  I attacked the book as if reading a how-to manual, highlighter in hand and pencil at the ready.

Relationship Rescue delves into the different “bad spirits” that we bring to our relationships, and as I read along, I began to recognize bits of myself in the “scorekeeper”, the “fault-finder”, and the control freak, but when I reached the eighth category and began to read, I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach and wanted to throw up. I was the “bottomless pit”.

I told myself that I didn’t need anything so that I wouldn’t be a burden.  What I was actually doing was sabotaging my partner’s chances of ever meeting my needs.  “He should know without me telling him,” was another one of those false beliefs that I measured by husband against.

The spirit I brought to my marriage was ugly.  I had so many expectations about what I wanted and didn’t want based on my parents failures that any partner was destined to fail.

With understanding comes change.  It would not be easy, and I am still a work in progress, but Relationship Rescue gave me solid understanding so that I can be accountable and achieve a healthier relationship.

My challenge this week is to write about (or submit images of) a book that made you sit up and pay attention.  What book(s) made a difference in your life?

 

 

abuse · adversity · Family · mental-health · poetry · recovery · relationships · spirituality

Changing Direction

This path I walk is not my own;
it’s paved with genetic markers,
familial dysfunction, and ancestral angst.
Can you see them walking with me?
Those whose lives were cut too short –
the addicts, the tortured, the diseased –
none of us free – ensconced in blame.

If you walk with me,
I’ll help you carry your burden
and you can support me with mine.

I stand at the intersection
of broken dreams and hope for tomorrow
and in my altered state of awareness
see the commonality of our striving,
understand the patterns that divide,
and grasp the illusion of injustice
that denigrates our interconnectedness.

If you walk with me,
I’ll help you carry your burden
and you can support me with mine.

I stop and wait for an opening
to share this revelation
of underlying harmonious intent,
but the whir of societal traffic
complicates communication,
and I can find no voice to cut
through the din of the dead.

If you walk with me,
I’ll help you carry your burden
and you can support me with mine.

I turn the corner on my old life,
detach with loving sorrow
from a road that never served me,
a direction wrought only with pain.
Tiny arms await me on this open road,
eyes wide with wonder and possibility.
There is joy to be found along the way.

If you walk with me,
I’ll share this new adventure
and together, we’ll have much to gain.

(Changing Directions was originally published June, 2015)

abuse · adversity · Family · mental-health · poetry · relationships

Tired of Same Old Endings

Tired of same old endings,
in which hopes are slaughtered
and tragedy and insanity win.

Raised by the bottle, learned
to set standards low –
still afraid of heights –
have fallen as the ground
beneath my aspirations crumbled –
a certainty under alcohol’s rule.

Tired of same old endings,
in which self is battered by indifference
and ego loses the battle for control.

Mother’s denial a coping mechanism
negating children’s need, obliterating
safety, disregarding long-term damage;
even in the older years, when we tried
to get her out, were powerless against
his manipulation, his eternal imprinting.

Tired of same old endings
in which the heroine, resources spent,
succumbs to the madness, suicides.

Want to believe in a future, greener,
hopeful, in which relationships
are fulfilling, and life goals are
supported, in which encouragement
is not fodder for deviousness, and
personal best is rewarded, sustained.

Tired of same old endings
haunting my dreaming hours,
taunting my waking dreams.

 

 

 

 

adversity · life · ME/ CFS · mental-health · poetry · recovery

Hold Fast

Unity of thought fleeting,
overpowering potential –
adaptation never-ending.

Possibility articulated,
ridicule attached –
an irrelevant couple.

External/ societal motivators
destroy heart, fuel panic –
authority wrongly positioned.

Take hold of intent, mend
what lingers, forego paranoia
improvement is achievable.

Test urgency, measure reluctance,
stand firm mid-breakdown –
abandon doubt, calm thoughts

Like the sun and the moon,
life cycles; there is promise,
sanity will return, renewed.

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 · creativity · culture · dreams · Family · life · poetry

Zoo Life

How else would you define us but a zoo:
this ragged attempt to appear socially fit?

I drag my children with me, expectations
formed from still life exhibits, picture –

perfect cameos of happy lives, poised
as any good television family might…

Who hasn’t had a rough ride, disembarked
and vowed never to repeat sins?  Hold on

to what you have kids, I warn; be wary of
life:  it’s what I’ve learned – tried to change

the tableau, inject creativity into freeze
frames; snared in webs of my weaving,

like the black widow entrapping my prey,
instinct releasing venom, plots spiralling

out of control; am prepared to wipe clean
the past, but stumble, lose grip, shamed

beg my daughters to look away, too late,
tension mounts, threaten to consume us

our dreams, the source of our imaginations
and I listen to the screams, helpless, until

one child takes up the cry, offers herself,
as I would have once, forces me to sit by,

worry my only companion, while she sinks
deeper into the hell of this artificially caged

confine; our connection lost – unprepared
am I, with all the wrong resources, clinging

to damnable passivity, alone, wretched,
guilt-ridden, afraid for generations unborn –

and as I turn away, in despair, I catch sight
of her, my child, revelling in her story, vital –

no crisis – just a brilliant young woman,
unbound by the restraints of this zoo.

(Image: obutecodanet.ig.com.br)