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.

 

 

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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Letting Go Of Suffering

I have to admit that I have struggled since I wrote B the letter I shared in my last post. In this letter that I wrote to him, I told him exactly what I needed to hear from him…love words. I have yet to receive a comment from him about what I wrote nor have I heard the words that I long to hear. Frankly, it hurts and it has been bothering me for the past few days. Instead of enjoying what I have been given here in Michigan; I have been ruminating on what I don’t have back home.

Luckily, I woke up this morning to find something meaningful on my Facebook wall and it was exactly what I needed to see. It read:

“If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow.”

What wise words! Suddenly it took the sting out of this disappointment that I had been feeling for the past few days.  I realized that by allowing the hurt and disappointment I was feeling to cloud my day; I was indeed suffering and I was creating this suffering of my own accord. In fact, I was suffering more as every hour went by wishing for some sort of something from B…anything. So instead, I began to focus on the lessons I might find through this instance and found that there were many lessons that I could learn from if I chose to do so.

  1. The first lesson I discovered was that by acknowledging my feelings and then casting them aside I didn’t have to urge to carry them around with me like a suitcase stuffed full of heavy negative emotions. Yes, I was disappointed. Yes, his lack of response made me feel abandoned and scared. Yes, his withholding something from me that I plainly laid out that I needed from him made me feel anxious and wonder if he would still be there when I got home. Yet, by learning to view these feelings dispassionately; I was able to put the suitcase down and walk away from those hurtful actions and the resulting feelings I was experiencing. The lesson was much much valuable than the suffering could ever be.
  2. The second lesson I thought about was that I didn’t need B to acknowledge my heartfelt letter to be happy. Instead, I went about my day appreciating all of the people and things that I found around me. I was happy and didn’t need his lack of response to elicit any sort of reaction one way or another within me.
  3. The third lesson I concentrated on was that B will never be able to give me what I need because that is not who he is and that I have to learn to find happiness in what he can give instead of what he cannot if I want to  stay married to him.  B saying loving words is about as probable as a frog being able to bark like a dog…it isn’t going to happen.

 

After these discoveries I spent the day with my 82 yo father and 92 yo aunt. We went down to Lake Michigan and enjoyed the water, the waves, and the boats as they cruised through the canals.

I really treasure spending time with these two when they are together because they bicker like little kids. Nothing long and hard but just snippets like from when they were children. The things that they gripe about tickle my insides and I always break into a big smile as it happens.  Why, I wonder, is it easier to listen to them than to my own children when they go at it?

As I watched the two of them it occurred to me that my aunt has gotten to the place where the small hurts no longer effect her. She realizes that we all have flaws and for the most part she recognizes that we all do our best with what we have within us at the moment. But she wasn’t always like that and that in itself gives me hope that I can still change into the person I envision myself being. Someone who is at peace with the world and more importantly herself. Someone who grants grace rather than find fault. Someone who does not expect things from others and is disappointed when they don’t appear. Someone who wakes up each day grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow some more.

So as the day winds down I am counting my blessings. Glad that I am here with two people who are willing to share what they know and the love that they have for me willingly.

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Blink Of An Eye

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This weekend was fabulous. Well, any weekend is fabulous if you are at the beach…how could it not be? We hiked the cliffs and just enjoyed spending time together. I worked in my garden, watched a few sunsets and sat on the back deck watching the marine layer slowing edge its way to shore. Our raven visited carrying a huge egg in his mouth which he promptly cracked on the shed and ate. Several furry antlered bucks grazed in the woods and I heard the wild turkeys in the hedgerow. Oh… and the seals were out with their babies zipping through the water…first here and then there as slippery as can be.  Really, it was lovely especially after last week with B which I will probably go into later this week.

We were heading home and for once the kids were not fighting in the car. The sun was setting with the pinks and oranges filling the sky. Then in the blink of an eye everything changed.

I received a text from my best friend. It read:

Mary is at the hospital. Her husband is in ICU. He was in an accident and cannot feel his legs.

Mary is my niece. Seems her sweet husband was out on a four wheeler which flipped. He has broken ribs, vertebrae and possibly paralysis. Surgery in the morning.

Now I am not a big prayer because I think God knows what is needed but if you are so inclined I am sure a few prayers would be appreciated for this young man and his young family.

In the blink of an eye it can all change. We all know this but when it comes home to roost it makes you remember just how precious life is and just how important it is to love and be loved.

And so I leave you with this quote that I read earlier this week. I cannot think of anything better.

“The purpose of life is to convert time into love.”-David Roberts, Puyallup, Washington

What shall you do with this second and what will you convert it into?

 

Please Leave

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This week while I  spent a week away at the ocean I wrote a “Dear John” letter to my husband. It was five typed pages, single typed. That’s what you should expect when you marry a writer I suppose.

This was not a letter I wanted to write. Six kids, several grandkids, 30+ years, lots of great times and discovery as we traveled the world together. Until recently, my heart still skipped a beat when I saw him. He is still sexy and the most handsome man in the world to me.  Other women think so too. So this is scary. It is sad. It is heart wrenching. No, this is something I never in a million years envisioned. I mean we got married in an old castle so our love would be timeless like the stones that held those old walls together. The castle remains standing while our relationship crumbles, the dust rising up thickly through the rubble threatening to choke us both.

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In the letter I told B that I would like him to move out preliminarily for a month so we didn’t have to say anything to the kids and disrupt their lives until we were positive of the direction that our relationship was going to take.. We could tell the kids that he is in China. I asked that he try to figure out who he is and what he wants the rest of his life to look like. I asked him to increase his sessions with his therapist. I told him to date, get laid or something. It’s time to move on for both of us. If you don’t know by now if you want to be with me then they way we are living is not giving you the clarity that you need. We need to shake things up a bit. But also just because you might decide you want back into my life there is a very good chance I will not be there and that that door will be closed and locked to you forever. For I am tired of you holding the master key to all the rooms in my soul

I was waiting until I got home to give the letter to him when we had time to spend together. However, on Wednesday night he told me his therapist suggested that we go back into marriage therapy. That triggered me and I told him I was no longer interested in attending therapy with him. I told him I wasn’t sure I wanted to be with him anymore, my love for him was quickly diminishing and that it was time we separate. He was shocked. He told me he loved me. I rolled my eyes over the telephone. I began to cry. He wants to keep trying. I don’t want to continue to suffer. Eighteen months is a long time to keep someone on a string. Eighteen months of wondering if today was going to be the day B walked in the door and said he was done was, in my opinion, 17 months too long.

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“It is awfully hard to admit that our relationship has expired but we both have felt it draining us and I see that we are getting resentful, frustrated and are losing hope if we have not lost it already. Sometime it feels like I’m “the other woman” waiting for her lover to choose between her and his wife. Loving him fully but he cannot commit to her fully because he wants both worlds. You want the world of having me for the business side of things (taking care of the kids, house, doing the things that make your life easier) but you don’t want to give your heart to me. You want to keep me on a string until you decide what you want and whether or not you judge me capable of giving it to you. Frankly, I am tired of that game, having to prove myself over and over again to some weird sets of arbitrary conditions that you change at your whim. It is time for me to get off this merry-go-round.”

I still love the man but just because you love someone doesn’t mean you should be together. Most woman would love to be with the man I was with for the first 25 years of this 30+ year relationship. It is hard. This is not what I expected as a come close to turning the corner on 60. I want happiness for him. I seek peace for myself…happiness will come later and that is okay with me.

“I know that putting myself through the discomfort of losing you and the changes that go along with it will not be easy. Separating will be hard and there will be times when we both will feel insecure, needy and totally off balance. I am sure the first time I see you with a new love my heart will shatter in a million little pieces. But I am also trying to remember that change is empowering because it will allow new things to enter our hearts and our minds. Things that we are obviously lacking as a couple may become available as we become single or enter into new relationships. Endings just set the stage for something new and allows exactly what we are needing or seeking to make its entrance into our lives.”

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So there it is. New beginnings. Painful endings. But I am okay and I will be okay. I am strong. I am invincible.  I am ready to move on from what I have today. I am not sure what the future looks like and I am okay with that. I am just trying to wish the best for all me included. I do worry for my children. Kids with autism do not do well with change and he has been an awesome dad. But…what is…is. And so everyday I have started my day with a meditation to bless myself and everyone in my life. Even B.

“I wish you happiness and that you are free of pain and suffering.”

It makes it easier to face the day and it makes me feel better.

I think it is time for me to get that dignity & grace tattoo

Sitting With The Pain

Since I started seeing my therapist she has been urging me to just sit with things and honestly I thought I had been. But these past two weeks have been a real revelation to me as I finally understand what “sitting with things” really entails.

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The first thing is that I am just sitting and observing my feelings in a detached sort of way. Not depressed, not numb, but just watching as if my feelings were a movie. Watching the shadows, the lighting, the words that come out of the actors mouths and the body language that accompanies these things. And I have to say that it is one of the most freeing things I have ever done for myself. No explosive reactions just observation and the time needed to think things through without a time line.

Another thing that has happened as a result of my sitting with things is that I have no need to determine the outcome or push for what I think the outcome ought to be. I realize that I have wasted so much of my energy over the years trying to bend things to my will. I have always tried throughout my entire life to produce the desired outcome I envisioned at all costs.  The result of letting this go: more energy, more happiness, less anxiety and frustration.

Sitting with things as I am doing it now is delightful. I feel no pressure to make immediate decisions. I feel that reflecting at my own pace instead of reacting instantaneously  is allowing me to have a deeper experience that is bringing greater understanding as to how we have gotten where we are. And even if we separate it is bringing a much needed peace to my heart in knowing that I am better off for this entire experience and can bring a whole person to the table when this is over; instead of just a shadow of my former self, as a result of taking time for deep self-reflection.

So although I will confess that ending a 30+ year relationship is not what I thought would be on my radar just a few short years ago, I find I am growing in ways I have not in a very long time. Important ways which my soul desperately needed and of which I was unaware. I have no idea what is ahead but I suspect there will be many tears which will water the flowers in my soul’s garden and bring forth the life hidden in seeds I am planting for the future. I know not whether we will walk this path together or if I will be journeying all alone but either way I now know that I am stronger than I was when this all began and that is a gift that I will always treasure.

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P.S. My first biggest fear my entire life has been heights. I hate them. My second biggest fear has been divorce. But on Friday, February 17, I have decided to take on my biggest fear and jump out of an airplane. I have two notions about this:

  1. I figure if I can take on my biggest fear than anything my second biggest fear throws at me I will be able to handle.
  2. If the chute fails to open I just avoided a potentially messy divorce.
  3. Either way I win
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  5. If she can do it so can I

Ch-ch-ch Changes

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We are in a restaurant discussing the fate of our marriage. The cards are on the table and the chips fall as they may. We spend the next hour talking about finances, what our lives would look like sans one another, and what this rupture would do to our innocent children.

He says: ” If we were to stay together there would be a lot of changes and I am not sure you would like them.”

“What changes might those be?” I ask.

“Well, I’ve never told you this before  but I am pro-life like they house I was raised in. I might want ours to be a pro-life household too. I would want our children to be raised this way.”

Whiplash has slapped me hard because I have shaken my head so violently trying to make this man come into focus again. You mean after 30 years of togetherness you felt like you couldn’t say something about this? WTH.

“And I want to be treated like the man of the house.”

Somewhere I hear the words obey mentioned.

I stare at this man I’ve saved and who has saved me numerous times over the past 30 years. He looks the same on the outside but obviously there is a lot changing on the inside. I’m not sure I like it. Actually, as a feminist I know I dislike it…a lot.

“What does this mean to you? Man of the house?” I ask… while I am thinking to myself…so you are finding your voice and now you want to roar. Roar out all the misunderstandings. Roar out all your “unheard” convictions. Roar out life as you imagine it should be while you figure out who you want to be. You want to be heard after feeling unheard all of your life. A hurt that started with your mother and one that you feel continued on with me.

My eyes stare back, unblinking, both locked into a battle of silent conviction.

“At the end of the day I want to know that my word is the final word.”

And in the end the only thing I can say is nothing. Because talking to this man before me is like talking to a stranger who speaks a different language, has different values, and wants different things than I do.  Things I never knew about. Things I never guessed. They are not the things that delight me. They are sharp and they sting the inside of my heart and of my head.

So I look down at my feet and stare at my crooked big toe observing how it leans to the left, as does my philosophy, and the tears start to glide silently down my face as my awareness of how deep this situation dwells in a land of which I know not; and it seeps from the very center of my pores.

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Best Qualities As A Mother

UPDATE

Since B stated 18 months ago that he might want to divorce we have done a lot to try to save our relationship. This includes a Marriage Encounter weekend, his therapist, my therapist and a joint marriage therapist. I have decreased my yelling to a trickle, have kept the house in good shape and have lost weight. Frankly, things had been improving for close to a year but lately I have noticed that we have been regressing. More grudges, less sex, 66% less dialoging, etc. I am a very intuitive person and I “feel” these changes and recognize them for what they are and lately I have been feeling really anxious about them.

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I have never been an anxious person even when I have had plenty to be anxious about. For 57 years I have kept most of that anxiety stuff swept under the rug. But lately, it has occurred to me that as B distances himself my anxiety rises. It is an uncomfortable place to be. Sometimes it even makes me question my sanity because I tell him I am feeling the distance which he denies but then three weeks later at a therapy session he uses the words and admits that when x happened he distanced himself all the while denying my concerns for the past weeks.  It is a crazy way to live.

BEST QUALITIES

Recently, we had a dialogue question that asked each of us to talk about our partners best qualities as a parent. In the allotted 10 minutes I wrote about 7 qualities that B has that I think make him a great parent.

Now I know in dialogue you are not supposed to judge the other’s response because they are based on “feelings.” And feelings may be factually true or not but the bottom line is that they are what they are. So when B wrote about the qualities he admired that I had as a parent it basically came down to the fact that “I cared for my children.” To say I was hurt that this was the only quality he listed was an understatement.

Everyone cares for their children. You care for your dog. You care whether you have enough toilet paper in the house to last the entire week. Caring for your children really doesn’t get any accolades in my book. It is something we all do… even badgers, skunks and probably even one-cell amoebas.

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So I took this to my therapist. She wanted me to write down what I wished he had said about my good qualities as a parent. Here goes:

  1. I wish he had said that I am good about seeing or initiating those deep soulful and meaningful talks when they need them to boost their confidence, understanding of life or just need to express their concerns. I wish he had said he knew that most of the time they seek me out which shows that they trust my love and advice.
  2. I wish he had said that I love my kids fiercely and deeply and that they know that they can count on that love and can trust me to be there for them forever.
  3. I wish he had said that my children know I believe in them and that I think that they can accomplish whatever it is that they set out to do and that by knowing this it will take them far in life.
  4. I wish he had said that he knows I am their biggest fans and that I cheer them on with encouragement when they are lacking the spunk to make that “final touchdown” in whatever it is they are doing.
  5. I wish he had said I am a “good” parent far more often than a “bad” one and that even when I fail it is not intentional or malicious.
  6. I wish he had said that raising six kids, two of whom have autism, would be a tough job for anyone and that it is amazing I don’t lose it every day.
  7. I wish he had said that my kids had experienced so much of this world thanks to me and that if it was left to him they would not have.
  8. I wish he had said that I try my best to teach them the important things that they will need to navigate their lives now and in the future.
  9. I wish he had said that I am “good enough” parent some of the time (which is okay) and a great parent when it really counts.
  10. I give good hugs.
  11. I wish he had said that I encourage my kids to take risks which creates opportunities for them to believe in themselves.
  12. I wish he had said I am an honest parent in dealing with my kids and all the people we have to deal with because of their interests and their issues and that my honesty helps provide desperately needed clarity.
  13. I just wish he had said I am a good mother and he could not manage without me.

And while this exercise was difficult because I kept wanting to explain or add in the negative to balance it all out, I didn’t because this is my gift to myself and a tribute to who I am as a parent. I don’t NEED B to validate it…but it would have been nice.

Comfort

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The other night B hurt my deeply. He didn’t mean to but he did.  We were dialoging and I got to choose the question. It was: How do I see our future together?

His response, ” Is this tomorrow’s future? Like how do I see tomorrow?”

“No it would be in ten years.” I replied.

“So how about in one year,” he shot back.

And so it went until I told him that whenever there was talk about a long time future together he avoided it and it hurt me deeply.

Perhaps I push too hard.

Perhaps I want answers that aren’t ready to be given.

Perhaps I demand too much.

But with tears in my eyes I said to him,”It hurts when you don’t talk about a long term future together. It makes me feel very insecure and sad. And it makes me wonder about why we are doing this at all. For when you love someone you talk about the future. Remember how you felt before we got married? All we wanted to do was talk about our future together.”

He replied,”I am trying to just take one day at a time. My therapist wants me to be in today’s moments not projecting out into the future and I have found I am more peaceful living that way.”

And with tears in my eyes I explained, “I understand that and it is a good way to live. I am trying harder to live in the moment too. However, when this happens, when you refuse to talk about a future ,it takes me back to when I was a 9 year old child who didn’t know where she would be sleeping or who she would be staying with. It puts me in a scary place. So for me the future is very important. It reduces my anxiety about our relationship and talk of it makes me feel secure. It makes me feel like I know where my head will be resting and that is really important to me and that scared little kid who still lives inside of me.”

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B looked at me. Hard. Tears coming to his eyes.

“Come here,” he said with open arms. “Let me  just hold you,” he said as he wrapped his arms around me moving me closer towards his heart.

And so he held me. He stroked my hair. Then, quietly, he began sharing his thoughts of what the future with me looked like. And it was then that I knew he really heard me and understood why “knowing” the future was so important to me. He opened himself up and shared because it was what I needed.

Comfort means different things to different people. It may be provided in different ways and at one time it may be meaningful, at another, not so much. But providing comfort because you have heard a need and you wish to answer it is probably the greatest thing that we can give to one another. It promotes good will. It promotes understanding and healing between two people.

So today, instead of asking what we can do for our partner, perhaps, we would be better off asking how we can comfort them. For when we do a strange thing begins to happen. Love awakens. Love strengthens. Love endures. Because by stepping outside of our own comfort zone to comfort another, we ultimately get provided with a kind of comfort we didn’t even know was needed.And as it turns out, we end up giving and getting a gift more precious than gold.

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Dyed Love

 

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I loved you once you know

Deeply. completely. selfishly

I devoured you…wanting you to know

Everything I was thinking

Because you couldn’t tell me

What was in your own head

So , instead, I put ideas into your head

While trying to force you to examine things

You had hidden away

From yourself for protection

Of a soul shredded

Long before I came on the scene

I am tired of you blaming me

For what the ghosts in your past

Did to you

And I am tired of seeking answers

From a man is not brave enough

To figure out whether he wants a life with me

Or without

I feel raw, used, scattered

Blown up into pieces that are gone

There is not enough glue in the world

For me to painstakingly put them all together again

Because I am busy and tired of trying to fill up

Your empty spaces and your selfish wants

The ones you know about (yes… those ones you selfish bastard)

And the ones you aren’t even aware of yet

but I am…

I am aware of more than you give me credit for

But I cannot put you together anymore either

You have to do it yourself

Stop depending on me to make

You feel good about yourself again

I can no longer carry your feelings for you

I can barely carry my own

When I remember I even have them anymore

Instead I remember a grenade

That exploded deep within my soul

And you are the one who threw it

Wounding us

You and me

And I wonder if we will ever be the same

For I am running on fumes

Somewhere near the end

Of wanting to figure all of this out

Wanting to run away from the pain

From You

From this life

That at times no longer feels right

Or loving or kind or cherished

A life that is made more complicated

By the issues of others

Until I can no longer differentiate between

Their issues and yours

But find I am growing tired of both

Of giving of myself 100%

When I just want to retreat

Somewhere deep. silent. and kind.

A place where I am no longer wounded

On a daily basis

A place where I can heal

And I can stand up again

Full of confidence. happiness. and belief

That I really do have purpose in my life

And that it starts with me

My purpose. my wants. my needs.

Alone

Without having to consider

And put first

The needs of anyone else in the world