Trying To See The Light Through The Flames

I have to admit I am still searching for the light that is missing in this box into which I have crawled. Sadness seems to be the one emotion that I still feel. I am weary of being with a man who no longer loves me. The weariness lives in the marrow of my bones sucking them dry the richness of life squeezed out of them.

This weekend I was suppose to have a girls get together at my house on the coast. Everyone bailed. There was one reason or another and with this; I realized that there was not one person I could depend on. Not my husband, not my kids, not my friends…and I vagely thought about how I had better start depending on myself alone. So I headed up to the house. Me, myself and I.

As I got closer to San Francisco the air became thicker, filled with the smoke of the fires burning in Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa. Some of my favorite places in the world up in flames. You could smell charred houses, burnt grapes and the bodies of those who were unaccounted for. Lives once vibrant and hopeful now trying to figure out what they will do without their homes,without their jobs and all their earthly possessions gone. Ninety six thousand displaced people all living in survival mode.

I took the back way on Hwy 1 instead of my usual route through Santa Rosa knowing that the I did not want to witness all the devastation. Nor did I want to get trapped on a highway that could become an inferno. So I drove along the blue waters of the coast, skipping all the unpleasantness except those kinds of thoughts rattling around in my head.

I arrived here in time to watch the sun set on the ocean with bats dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in the nighttime sky and the waves of the ocean beating like drums as they broke against the rocky shore. I grabbed a bottle of vodka and drank to 30 years of marriage that is in the same predicament as  Thelma and Louise hitting the gas and driving off a cliff into uncertainty.

The next morning was beautiful and as I walked the cliffs I started to feel like myself again as the mist in the air washed over me, cleansing my soul. As I ambled on, the winds began to pick up and I thought about all those firefighters 50 miles away who would soon be battling them along with the intense heat of the ash as it rained down from the sky.

Soon an old lady came into view. I judged her to be about 80 and she was carrying a jet-black cane over her head. We passed one another with a smile and a nod; each continuing our own way with our own thoughts. A mile later we met again as we retraced or steps but this time I asked her “Why are you carrying your cane over your head?”

“To remind me how strong I am,” was the answer.

“Why do you need reminding of that?” I asked “you look strong enough to me that I wouldn’t want to take you on in a back alley somewhere.”

She chuckled as she began to explain that she was a fire evacuee staying with a friend. On Sunday, in the dead of night, she was awakened by the fire fighters from the station two doors down who were banging on her door.

“You have got to get out. You have got to leave now,” they ordered.

She wrapped a house coat around herself, grabbed a pair of pants, a shirt and her shoes,  went into the bathroom and grabbed her toothbrush. Then she picked up her purse, called the dog and left her house.

“It’s all gone now,” she tells me with not an ounce of pity in her voice.

“Why did I get my toothbrush?” she looks at me and asks the question as if I might provide an answer that would satisfy her.

“I needed my medicines but left those behind. Yet, I took time to get my toothbrush. A $1.50 toothbrush,” she says with a shake of her head and a laugh. “Crazy isn’t it!”

She tells me that her Grandmother’s china is gone along with her deceased husband’s favorite books, her wedding dress, and everything else she owned in the world. Pictures of her children on their first day of school, her collection of salt and pepper shakers, all her clothes and her piano at which she sang to start every morning.

“But I will sing again,” she assures me with a smile. “For I am strong and I am happy and I am ALIVE!!!!” she says with a great belief in herself  and sense of joy that literally takes my breath away.

“I will begin again and who knows what I will become? Opportunity is banging at my door just like those firemen did,” she says with determination and grace as she heads off down the trail.

“It’s never too late to re-create yourself,” she yells back at me with a smile.

Later that day I offer my house up to any family who might need it. I talk on the telephone to a man who skirted the police blockades just to return to his house and sift through the ashes that now contain the contents of his entire life.

“I found my son’s bronzed baby shoes,” he informs me along with a few other trinkets of a life that felt meaningful and alive to him.

“We will just have to start over,” he tells me a sob stiffelled in his throat.

And although he cannot see me I find myself nodding my head at his words. For many times in our lives we are forced to start over, not of our own choosing, but because of forces that intrude unexpectantly. We can choose to see sorrow as an opportunity or we can wallow in our own misery until the end of time ultimately robbing ourselves of our accomplishments and the ability to morph into something we might not have expected… Someone better. Someone Kinder. Someone Wiser. And Someone who depends on themselves for their own happiness and to create a satisfying life no matter what is thrown in our way.

Today I met so many amazing people…. survivors and volunteers alike. And in these meetings I came away blessed. I hope they will be too.

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P.S. Thank you to all the fire fighters, healthcare workers, inmates, sheriff departments and all the volunteers who have saved lives while risking theirs.

 

 

 

 

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Roadblocks-10 Minute Poem Challenge

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Sometimes I think

You should be wearing

A florescent orange vest

And hardhat to protect

Your thick head

As you direct our relationship

Through all the roadblocks that you set up

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Your boulders of anger

Stopping the natural flow

Of traffic as we make our way

To the end of the road

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You hold up warnings

Reading: DO NOT ENTER

That push me further beyond

Our agreed upon destination

Creating detours away from

Intimacy, connection, and deep love

Leaving me traveling on an empty road

Towards a dead end

Out in the middle of nowhere

Where I can neither go forward

Nor turnaround

 

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Sometimes I think

You channel

Muhammad Ali

As you bob and weave

Dancing across my heart

Yet coming nowhere near it

Your left hook throwing me back

Against the ropes

Flattened and dazed

Seeing stars and two of you

One, kind and gentle

The other, a brut

Intent on winning

This fight

At all costs

Numb to the pain

That you have caused

And you tease and jab

As I wait for you

To deliver

Your knockout blow

 

Other times I wonder

If you are really a mason

Placing brick on top of brick

Day after day

Building a wall

 

With a hidden gate

That keeps me out

But lets others into

Your inner sanctum

And lets them experience

Your deepest feelings

That you have walled off

From me

But leave you

Standing alone inside

Of your fortress

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And me standing on the other side

Of those immense walls

Of Yours

We both know that

You view me

As the Big Bad Wolf

Huffing and puffing

Until I leap over the wall

Only to be burnt

By the fire in your soul

And your repressed

Anger towards me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acceptance Or I Need More Gray

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This week I walked into my therapists office and told her that for this session I wanted her to pick a topic I needed to address and that I had been avoiding. A topic that would help me look at things from a different perspective and encourage personal growth.  Being that my therapist and I have been in contact with each other almost every week since “I Think I Might Want A Divorce Day” two years ago; I figured whatever she said would be something that I could easily wrap my brain around. I should have known better. What she chose was the notion of acceptance and opening my door wider to welcome it into my life. That BITCH (I say that with all the love in the world directed to her)

She began by stating that I needed to accept the distance that I feel with B so that I can create my own stability. It doesn’t mean I have to like it but that I need to acknowledge that it is what is true right now, and while my expectations of two years ago did not pan out, there is value in seeing what is in front of you and not trying to challenge or change it all the time. And what I discovered throughout this talk is this:  I truly have difficulty with the concept of acceptance, let alone the actions, that must accompany it.

Unfortunately, for me, I realized that acceptance means defeat. It means surrender and laying down. It means something “bad” vs. something “good.” And therein lies the problem said therapist tells me.  Acceptance is just a thing and I don’t need to assign value to it, like “good” vs. “bad.”  It is just what is. Nothing less and nothing more. According to her this either/or thinking complicates my life and does not allow for the possibility of acceptance. In fact, according to her I need more gray areas in my life and not as many absolutes and right vs. wrongs. Furthermore, this lack of acceptance on my part effects my relationships and I need to question whether this is where I want my resources to go. Is fighting acceptance worth it? she asks.

UGHHHH

So my assignment is to work on acceptance by just seeing all that is around me and not assigning meaning to it. She challenges me to acknowledge that by labeling these past two years as an exceedingly crappy set of circumstances (something “bad”) it means that I am giving up on seeing further possibility through letting go and experiencing all the gifts that acceptance brings with it. So I am giving this acceptance thing a try, while secretly hoping, that one of those gifts turns out to be a vintage VW bus.

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I’m Depressed

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I’m depressed. There. I said it. I’m depressed.

Frankly, it worries me as I have never allowed myself to go there. With so many people depending on me and a sister who spent time in a mental hospital; I have never before let myself plumb the depths of the despair I am feeling. However, now I am trying to give myself permission. Permission to explore what is on the other side of two years of marriage chaos and confusion. Permission to grieve for dreams that have been pushed aside by reality and for children who struggle due to the challenges of autism. Permission to just feel what I need to feel, even if it hurts. And permission to feel those deep rooted emotions and to not intellectualize my feelings as all the intellectualizing I do just makes me hurt worse.

I will confess this intense feeling of sadness scares me to my core. Not because I am afraid to feel those lows but because when you have had a family member who has experienced hospitalization due to her mental health issues and you have spent years dealing with hers…well, I just don’t want to put my family into that vat of pain and helplessness you can’t help but feel when surrounded with all of that. Yet, my therapist said to me that I have the skill set to survive if not thrive while looking at those things that make me uncomfortable and sad. And after reading Thomas Moore’s The Dark Night Of The Soul I know that there is plenty to be gained by going there for a brief respite. But still, I hesitate, my feet in cement for fear of going in too far or deep. For fear of becoming like my sister. Of letting people down.  Of not “performing” the requirements that are expected in this one act play that I am living.

I know I need to take a look at what is coming up from the depths of my soul. I know that I need to allow myself to feel these intense feelings. I suspect that it is similar to drilling for oil while trying to contain the amount that surfaces at one time. And its also acknowledging  that what comes up will have to be refined in different ways depending on how it will be used. And I acknowledge that any spills that occur will give me new skills to better contain the overflow the next time.

If I had my way I would stay in bed for a week and pull the covers over my head. I would play every sad song I have ever heard and have a Bailey’s on the rocks sitting on my bed stand sipping it over several hours. Oh hell, maybe I would guzzle it instead. That is what I wanted to do today. BUT…I had to make breakfast and lunch for everyone, take them to school, take a kid to the doctor and another to get her allergy shots. I had to wait for the dryer repairman, do the dishes, and mop the floor. I had to pay bills, get the oil changed and attend a meeting. Tomorrow it is more of the same.

So, here I sit, one toe half in and half out of this deep sadness. This depression. Perhaps if I am brave enough I will step on in and let it take me where I need to go.  To places I have never visited but probably should. Only afterwards will I understand that there are things to be gained from examining things below the surface. And who knows…I may just strike the motherlode while I am exploring with the sheets making the perfect tent in which to hide away from the world.

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Route 66 Or Flat Tire Soul-A 10 Minute Poem Challenge

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The sadness I feel

Circles the earth three times

And travels from Illinois

Straight into my strangled heart

Like old Route 66

Following towns that have died

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Their 1940’s hotels

Deceased

With doors opened wide

And nothing left in those vacant rooms

But tarnished dreams

And a solitary piece of Wrigley’s gum

Which shall remain for eternity

Because it is non-biodegradable

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Next door pieces of theRoy’s diner sign

Remain

Paint peeling blood-red

The only thing left

Of Roy… Born in Brooklyn resting in Boot Hill

Is that dilapidated sign

Promising hot flapjacks

Slathered in broken dreams

Which you can find spilled along the highway

Today my heart looks like old Rt. 66

Full of potholes

Beer bottles littering the road

And tumbleweeds which barrel across

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This empty stretch of wasteland

Which held so much promise

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And like a once beautiful lady

Turned old, calloused and slightly bitter

Sitting on the porch of her

1950’s trailer

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Roof about to cave in

Sides sand blasted by years

Of exposure

I look towards the dark clouds

Gathering in the east

Wondering whether the storm in my heart

Will unleash a torrent of tears

Or if there are no longer

Any drops left to fall

For a deep unrelenting sadness

Seems to be percolating

Across the plains of my heart

Depressing any movement

Out of this hell hole

And like a useless old tire

A nail driven deep into it

I sit idle and unable to travel farther

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Along this old road

Which runs from Chicago to LA

And ends here

Somewhere near Bakersfield

On the corner of

Lost and Hope Streets

My heart split in two

Like this road

Which leads to the dreams of the dead

And to my future

Which lays in the middle of no where

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Plan C

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The night before last B texted me:

Maybe we can do something tonight

I have to confess that my anxiety went through the roof and the acid reflux started immediately

My response:

“Are you wanting to have a serious talk? My stomach just dropped.”

“Sorry,” he replied.  “No, I just wanted to have a little fun.”

 

And we did. We had a nice evening full of laughs and kind words. An evening that reminded me of all that I love about this man BUT…I am tired. I am tired of wondering if he isn’t going to walk through our door. Tired of wondering if he wants to talk of divorce. Tired of all the stress of living with a menopausal man.

For these reasons and more, I have to confess, that I have begun looking at a Plan C for myself in the event of a divorce or “whatever.” Several ideas have come to me during the past several months as I contemplate a future without B. I will say unequivicably that it scares me…the thought of giving up on a 30year + marriage… but…it also excites me at the same time as it gives me something to believe in again.  Because at last I am beginning to make myself and my feelings a priority instead of putting B’s ahead of my own in an attempt to win him back. For B’s wishy-washiness about our life together has recently become exhausting and it sometimes it feels like I am selling my soul in order to keep reaching for something that B is making unobtainable. Finally, I am beginning to understand that I can never win this love game and I am ever so slowly beginning to admit defeat. So while it breaks my heart arriving at this place of giving up and giving in; it feels more honest and courageous than living in denial.

For the past several weeks I have debated telling B about PLAN C but last night I decided that I should be honest and put some more of my cards on the table. I began by telling him that I believe him now…that while I used to want him to change his mind about me and our relationship, that, in fact, I owe it to myself and him to believe his words. Words such as: “I don’t love you or have the passion for you to sustain a relationship” or “I love you but not in the way that I want to” or “I want a separation.” At some point, you have to take those words at face value and I am beginning to. I can no longer just wish them away. I can no longer pretend that they mean something other than what he says they mean when he looks me in the eyes and let’s them leave his mouth. No, I have to begin to take them seriously and have decided that I cannot wait another 2 or 3 years in hopes that he begins to feel those things for me that he says he wants to feel. It doesn’t mean I don’t love him but I am beginning to love myself more.

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So PLAN C looks like this: Andre will be graduating from high school in 2019. There are very few college programs in the USA that offer degrees in what he wants to study; especially at a BS level. So I am contemplating moving to Wyoming, Montana or Idaho next June in order to establish residency so he would not be considered an out of state student when he goes to college. It is a good plan except for the fact that I would have to leave my two youngest…the thought of that just about kills me…but this is one way in which leaving would have a positive impact for one of my children anyways. Frankly, I know myself well enough that I do not want to be around to see B date and marry someone else so being out of the picture feels like a kind and loving thing to do for myself while making sure Andre gets the degree he wants. It seems like a winning situation all the way around if there is that type of thing in a divorce.  And so I told B about Plan C. I also told him that he had until May to win me back. To say he was shocked is an understatement but an important one because I am beginning to take back what I have lost…ME…and it just feels right! And while I have no idea what will happen it feels good to be considering different options and planning for a future alone should that be the route that is taken. For fear and indecision just isn’t an option for me anymore. I don’t want it and I reject it. Besides that, I just haven’t got time for the pain.

 

WE

 

We have built houses together

Planted a vineyard and gardens

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Raised six kids together

We have survived your mother

The death of parents

And your brother

We have moved

Numerous times for your career

Starting over again and again

Just knowing each other

In a city of a million faces

Finding comfort and love in that

And we have stuck together

Through so much adversity

Pain and sorrow

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We have traveled the world together

Had much happiness and joy

Done things as a couple

That brought us closer

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We have struggled

Raising two boys with autism

Put their needs ahead of our own

Done everything possible to give them

The best chance for a good life

So why it is now

After all the hard years

After all the time we have sweated and pushed

And fought the school system

After life and death

Hardships and pain

You want to abandon

Our future

And all the good times

We dreamed about

For so very long?

We’ve slogged through

The Rough Times

Taken so many wrong turns

But you don’t want to share

In the best that is to come…

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The walking along the beach

Holding hands

Visiting Grandchildren

Kayaking the rivers

And taking art classes

Working to save the river

And the seals

Old age sex

And wrinkles

And watching with a tender heart

Fingers intertwined

When one of us takes our last breath

Being there for the other

As one passes to the other side

To the unknown

The other left grieving and lonely

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We’ve been through the hard times

Why can’t we share the reward

Of all we worked for together?

When life is finally getting easier

Why should a future wife

Get all the benefits

Of our hard work?

I do not understand

I will never understand

And don’t expect me to…

Don’t ever expect me to!

 

 

Yesterday I had a private therapy session with our third and final marriage therapist. He was highly recommended by my therapist and she believes he can help because he does in depth therapy examining both partners pasts and seeing how they effect the dynamics of the relationship. He looks at attachment in childhood and how that influences attachment within the marriage.  I think he is a good fit but I was exhausted after our session. I felt like I had run a marathon and got run over by a truck at the end. Working on psychological/relationship issues is hard work if you are honest with yourself and others.

Recently I have been reading the book Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. The book jacket says ” Forget about learning how to argue better, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, get to the emotional underpinnings of your relationship  be recognizing that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing and protection.” It is an interesting book and I see B and my relationship on so many pages and it saddens me. But we both keep trying.

 

 

A Knight’s Myth

 

You are no longer mine

Even though you are still here

In this castle you don’t want to be in

With a woman you don’t want to be with

With children who, well,…. who knows what they realize

But soon their lives will change

Their innocence forever gone

Wiped away by male menopause

That dreams of lusty new love

Perpetual hard-ons

And fireworks that light the night sky

With love’s first kiss

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You insist you are not angry

“Look how quite I am”

“Look how composed”

Head down, eyes masked

Yet the words you CHOOSE sting

The heat charring them before they leave your mouth

I know that you will not admit the anger

Because it would make you appear

Flawed to yourself

And you cannot have anyone think you are

Anything less than

Perfect

Gallant

Charming

Noble

A Hard working

Self-Sacrificing

Christian Man

With all the Qualities

That a knight is supposed to possess

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And you have to see yourself in this way

To like who you are

Because if you really looked deep inside

You would be devastated

By the little boy inside of you

Who cries out from pain of

An abusive mother

And an absent father

And a self that has been lost for so many years

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You think you have found yourself

Now that you have found your voice

But you have only skimmed the surface

Of your deep lake of hurt and anger

That drives you to change

EVERYTHING

But your deepest self

Because you are afraid if you really had to examine

The truth of who you are

And where you came from

Your tears would flood this earth

And there would be

No one there to dry your tears

And stop the carnage that you are creating

Maybe someday you will become like

That Knight you so desperately try to emulate

By being brave, true, and loyal to yourself alone

And by slaying that ancient dragon

That lives within your soul

But you will have to cross deep rivers

High Mountains

And Low Valleys

To get to the place

Which brings you peace

But by then

The castle will be empty

The princess gone

And you will have fought the battle

But lost the war

Everything you once loved

And everyone who loved you

GONE

And you will be

But a mere man seated at

The Roundtable all alone

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Deepest Darkest Secrets

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We all have them. We guard them, we make light of them, analyze them and minimize them. They are our deepest darkest secrets.

I’ve always been pretty much of an open book. A what you see is what you get kind of girl. No pretenses. No airs. I often spoke without thinking in the name of being honest and open.  Unfortunately, it took me a while to learn that everyone didn’t have to know my business and that being honest doesn’t matter to those who do not know you intimately.

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When I met B, within three dates I told him my deepest darkest secret. In looking back I am not sure if it was because I felt I had to be “honest” in all aspects of my life or if I felt he was safe enough to share the burden, maybe even lighten the load. Whatever the reason, I never heard about it again until this weekend when he told me he felt that he needed to discuss it with our new therapist.

My first thought was anger….how dare he!!!!

My second thought was that he was trying to obtain some sort of psychological advantage with the therapist.

My third thought was that maybe, just maybe, he had to work this out for himself. That my deepest secret had effected him too. Exposed rawness in places that a boy off the farm was unfamiliar with and he hadn’t known how to deal with it 30 years ago and was angry at himself now because he had not handled it in a way that was helpful to him.

Secrets are a funny thing. They eat at you. They can paralyze you.  Or they can be used to motivate and do good in this world. But whenever you have one; you become vulnerable if you let it be known.  You give someone power over you and I can honestly say I always felt save with B knowing it. Until now.

But the fact is also that I no longer care. My secret is no longer relevant to me or this life I lead. I have overcome it and so much more. I have used it to do good things and I gave up its power over me so long ago. So if B has to discuss it, discuss it I will. For I am no longer that young girl without a voice and I can roar now if I have to.

 

 

 

Slow Death

 

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I have swallowed dirt

As you have drug me

Down this road called DIVORCE

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I have eaten pain

Which is razor-sharp

For Breakfast

Lunch

And Dinner

Stabbing and slicing

My mouth bloody, gums raw

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I have swallowed my pride

As I have attempted

To be that confident 20 something woman

I once was but am no longer

The one who gave you fireworks with each kiss

But now just lights an occasional Sparkler

Which burns out

Just a fast as a child’s temper tantrum

In the face of a Hershey’s kiss

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I have drunk in the distaste

You have for me

Like vomit…

It stinks and is rancid

Eating up my insides

As it slithers down into my gut

Which now lives in perpetual

Anxiety

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I have tasted your anger

For past deeds done to you

That I had no idea hurt

Because you were never truthful

About the feelings you had

That are now erupting from you

Like all the acid ash released from a volcano

That covers me with sadness, distaste and dislike

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I have choked on all that you expected of me

The changes you wish for

That smother my free spirit

And are against all I stand for

Things I cannot agree to

No matter what

You still feast upon my body

And soul

Saying you have no passion

Which strips away my dignity

And tears my confidence to shreds

Right now you have the power

But slowly I am beginning to grab mine back

And when I do

The Phoenix that rises from the ashes

Will breathe fire

As I claim all I am

All that I hope to be

And leave you will the shell

Of that person you destroyed

I will then be whole

And you will be left with my dust/bones

To bury inside your unconscious mind

And it will be too late

To make up for all you have done

While creating something

So much stronger

Than you

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