Friday, February 12, 2016

The Reflection of Shadows: You

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments


Through summer, spring, and winter, fall
Ever, always in our hearts,
There will be no time or season
For the answer to this reason.
All who knew you through the ages
Have a scar that never changes,
Deep within and hard without
You leave us hollow in our hearts.
Birthday’s passed, special moments,
Memories locked away and broken,
No super glue or tape can fix this
For what we need is what we're missing.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Mantra: Let It All Out

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: The path to resurrection is through release
Matthew Taylor Wilson
After my post last week I started to think people must assume I'm mad to share such intimate life stories with, well, anyone who reads them. I do share a lot of personal info on here. I share poetry I've written in an attempt to better understand myself, other people, the world. I share deeply personal things that other people would never dare even speak of. But why?

Why do I do this?

I'm certain many of you have had that thought. I know for a fact some of you have. There isn't one single reason I take this approach to my blog, but there are several specific ones.

First, let's start with why I don't. I don't do this for pity. My life is wonderful. I say that genuinely, given all the weird/sad/bad things that have happened. I like to look at it as if each and every battle I've had to fight has made me a better, stronger, more formidable opponent. Like I'm slowly becoming a Life Ninja or maybe a modern day Xena. Something awesome- I'm becoming some Awesome Battling Something or the Other.

This whole thing started as a way to practice writing while simultaneously trying to connect with like-minded people. It became a way I choose to live my life, which is to say openly and honestly. It became a way I hope to encourage others to live as well, if they so choose. I like to think of this style of writing as Truth Telling. Let me explain it like this:

A) I'm not a big fan of secrets. I realize some are good, for instance, surprise birthday party secrets are totally and wonderfully wonderful. But I believe most secrets are not. I believe most secrets are kept in an attempt to hide sad, terrible, horrible things. I believe they are dark, malicious, and dangerous- to not only the person keeping them, but others. I've seen secrets destroy lives. I've seen them destroy people. I've seen them eat away at joy and love and goodness.

B) Secrets, in my mind, go hand-in-hand with the truth. If you're keeping a Deep Dark Secret, you are most likely lying as much and as often as you have to in order to keep your secret. And lying - in most cases except for surprise birthday parties and such - is incredibly bad for everyone. Truth Telling eliminates that problem. In living the truth of all the light and dark features of who you are and what you've been through you let it all out. This may seem terrifying, but it's actually empowering. You learn to own your life in a way you never have before. You learn to rise through the ashes of whatever hell you've been through and become born again, so to speak, as a better, more knowledgeable person.

To be clear, I'm not saying I've never lied or that I've never kept Deep Dark Secrets. I surely have. And I assure you, those were some of the stupidest times of my life, which is why I'm basically on the complete opposite end of that spectrum now. Thus, all the stories you read.

No one can take what you have already given. Remember this.

What I mean when I say that is: When you take accountability for yourself, when you own who you are, it becomes that much more difficult for other people to break you down. And bad people looooove breaking other people. They like pointing our your faults and mistakes and blemishes. They like to degrade you and humiliate you and lessen you for whatever reason they see fit. They like destroying. These people - these horrible, terrible, very bad people - are weak. They're cowards. They've yet to take a long look in the mirror. They've yet to learn how to live softly in a hard world. They know not how to live an honest and forthright life. Leave them to their self destructing ways.

Last, but not least, the most important reason I do this is with hope that somewhere, somehow, I'm reaching at least one person who found some comfort in what I wrote. I hope they see someone similar to themselves that they can connect to. I hope they see someone who's been through hell and back and still wakes up excited for their life- happy and hopeful and kind. I hope they see these things and they find them within themselves. I hope they feel less alone or less scared or less awkward or less whatever. I hope, ultimately, with every story I write and every story you read, that we collectively are engaging in a process of owning who we are.

Am I mad? Am I crazy to think - in the age of Internet Trolls and horrible people who will say terrible things just to say them - that all this Truth Telling is a good idea? Maybe. 

But I'll tell you a secret...all the best people are.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Reflection of Shadows: Doubles

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments


Why did I do this again?
Crazy thoughts were rushing in,
Surging with adrenaline,
Why did I do this again?

What’s the reason for my fail?
Once again I got derailed,
Stormy winds seduced my sails,
What’s the reason for my fail?

Who’d of thought this would be me?
Living in an addict’s dream,
Everyday my body screams,
Who’d of thought this would be me?

When did I give up on hope?
When I tightened up that rope
And I jumped from all I know,
When did I give up on hope?

Where’s the me that I once was?
Who knew right from wrong was just
So I never caused a fuss,
Where’s the me that I once was?

How’s my story going to end?
Will I make it past the bend?
Am I inching in the red?
How's my story going to end?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Mantra: All The Light We Cannot See

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Find your way out of the woods; follow the light
Tordis Kayma

"You will become like a waterfall, a volley of bullets- you will all surge in the same direction at the same pace toward the same cause." - Anthony Doerr

Once upon a time, I was my own personal assassin. When faced with the choice of hard or harder, I chose harder. I fought myself instead of freeing myself. I waged an internal war that was impossible to win. I lost, daily. Continually. Always. I couldn't see the light, no matter how hard I tried.

Once upon a time, in another life years and years ago, I was unhappy. I was miserably, terribly, horribly unhappy. 

It started like this: I was in a relationship with a man I no longer loved, but felt obliged to stay with. We'd been through a lot together- we'd traveled the world, we'd laughed and loved, we'd become our own little family. But under all of the good was a very unstable foundation of bad. A foundation of lies and resentment and differences that would never match up. A His Side vs. Her Side chronicle of everything that had ever gone wrong. Even with the bad, we had vowed a life of eternity to each other. Eternity quickly became overwhelming. Suffocating. Destructive. I was slowly and quietly dying on the inside. I was becoming a shadow in the waking world.

Because I felt awful about the potential of inflicting pain and suffering on my family and his, I chose not to. This meant inflicting pain on myself. Instead of leaving when I should have, I stayed. I didn't know it at the time, but this would prove to be a terrible mistake in a way I had never imagined. 

In staying, I had turned my back on everything my instincts were telling me to do, which was to get out. I walked in the wrong direction with every forward motion and my life started to feel like it wasn't mine. Everything felt just beyond my reach of control. And because of that, I found another way to control things. This control came in the form of an eating disorder. 

What started as a once-in-a-while binge session on bad days eventually became a daily occurrence in my life. I would quite literally stuff myself with food until I hurt, and then I would keep going. Because I've always hated throwing up, I wouldn't purge. I would lie on the floor in ridiculous amounts of pain until finally, hours later, the pain passed. 

This binge eating disorder took over my life. Food became something I couldn't escape, but desperately needed to. It became a kind of addiction. My normal thoughts of food became completely irrational. I would seek it out in the most ridiculous ways, like driving an hour away to a place that had amazing cheesecake because that was my choice of poison for the day. All of my efforts went toward the direction of self-destruction, the one thing I could control.

Rather early on, thankfully, I sought professional help. I didn't know why I was acting in such destructive ways at the time, but as my weekly sessions with my therapist continued we began to get to the bottom of things- the source being my marriage. To get past this I had to force myself to dig deep. To find my way through the forest of my mind. To ask the "why's" and "what if's" that I had previously been avoiding. 

One of the "why's" to my staying was that I felt like I needed some higher power to grant me permission to leave. Back before things had gotten out of control in the land of eating, I had paid a visit to Barnes & Noble. I used to peruse the aisles for hours, finding comfort in the quiet of the books, the possibilities in all the stories written by the most imaginative minds. On this one particular visit I meandered over to the self-help section. I picked up a book on relationships and happened upon a page that said "You don't need God's permission to leave. This is something you have to give yourself." Right there, in the middle of Barnes & Noble, I knelt down and started crying. 

It took a while to get past my eating disorder, but I did. I wish I could say the secret to beating it was X, Y, and Z and it was completely gone and I was 100% better overnight, but that's not at all how it worked. From the first time I made the decision to get help to each and every little step toward healing after that, I had been redirecting my attention, my resources, my focus to the cause of getting better. I also had two major life events occur back to back  - my grandma died and my husband and I split up - and those shook up everything so severely that I had no choice but to alter my life. While I don't recommend this method, I would be remiss to say it didn't have an effect. 

The truth is, not physically binge eating anymore was probably the easiest part in the healing process. The most difficult challenge was my mind. Oh, our minds - such beautiful, wild, unexplainable things. It took me a very, very long time to get my thoughts about food back to a healthy place. The thoughts of how to eat and when to eat and what to eat and why to eat. Because you can't stop eating when you have an eating disorder. You have to eat to survive. Healing the mind in this case is quite a challenge. Let's not forget the overly image obsessed world we live in. This helps absolutely zero when dealing with these matters. 

The thoughts about my body are still being sorted out. I gained some weight, not surprisingly, during this time and although I've lost most of it and I maintain a pretty good self-body image the truth is I'm not back to where I was before. Before this mess. I am a fraction away in size and shape, but mentally the thoughts about my body are still further out of my grasp. 

I didn't bring up my old marriage to beat a dead horse, so to speak. To understand the disorder, you have to understand the why and what generated it. For any addiction or disorder or serious situation, there is an underlying reason. We don't just do things like this because we're bored. Understanding is the first step to healing. Accepting is the second. There are many, many more after that and each person's path is different. 

I've never written about this before because I haven't felt ready. I've been waiting for the day when it felt far enough away from where I once was with it. Today seems to be that day. Today is the first time in many years that I can see all the light, all of it, everywhere.

To everyone who is going through anything remotely similar to this, I hope you too will find your way to all of the beautiful light.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Reflection of Shadows: I Have Never Suffered

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

I Have Never Suffered

I thought my pain was endless-
That I was empty, hollow,
Destined to suffer.
Until last night,
Until I realized
I’ve never
Never suffered like you.

My shadow filled days will never compare to your pitch-black nights
And days
And weeks
And months
That never ended,
That lasted for years,
That were still, quiet, frozen-
That you couldn’t escape.

How you only had one thing to look forward to
Every. Single. Day.
One moment.
And when it was time to say goodbye
The Nothing returned.
The emptiness of a heart still beating,
A brain still thinking,
But a body unmoving.
Trapped in your own existence,
Never to hold your daughter again,
Never to kiss your wife.
Alone in a way no one could feel but you.

I will never truly understand.

I thought my pain was endless-
That I was empty, hollow,
Destined to suffer.
Until last night,
Until I realized
I’ve never
Never suffered like you.

My empty heart will never compare to your broken, shattered soul.
To a dream that ended before it began.
To a life unimagined.
To a love so rare and true that no one
No one
Will ever fill that void,
Or ever make you whole.

I never understood how alone you really were.
And still are.
And may always be.
How you sacrificed it all without question,
Without regret,
And how somehow you feel guilty for something you couldn’t control.
Something you didn’t ask for,
Something you bravely never walked away from.
And freely sacrificed everything
That a normal life would resemble.
For us.
For him.
And now, for her.

I will never truly understand.

I thought my pain was endless-
That I was empty, hollow,
Destined to suffer.
Until last night,
Until I realized
I’ve never
Never suffered like you.

My emotional numbness will never compare to your heart breaking aloneness.
To losing yourself to age.
And time.
And feeling like a burden to others.
When you can no longer see well,
Or hear well,
And can barely get around your own house.
And how you stay- I know this, you stay
For me.
Because I am selfish and can’t let you go.

I will never truly understand.
I thought my pain was endless-
That I was empty, hollow,
Destined to suffer.
Until last night,
Until I realized
I’ve never
Never suffered like you.

I will never know the stillness of a man immobilized by his own body,
Unable to decide for himself.
Unable to take care of his family.
Unable to do anything-
But blink.

I will never know the emptiness of a woman who lost everything she had ever wanted.
Who sacrificed it all.
And who waited patiently
For years,
Until hope ran out and she was truly alone
Because there was only one person for her.
And I know that nothing,
Not even time,
Will heal her heart.

I will never know the aloneness of a woman who’s lived for nearly a century.
Who’s seen her best friend and lifelong companion pass on,
Who has aged so gracefully
And been so independent
Until now,
When time has started to set in
And slowed her,
Changed her,
Made her begin to fade away.

I will never truly understand these things. I have felt but a fraction of what they have lived. I have seen nothing.

And they may never truly know how exceptional they really are. 
How amazing.
And strong.
And brave beyond measure.
And how wonderful they've been.
How so few would do what they have done.
How most would have given up.
How practically no one would have been so selfless,
So kind,
So loving.
To stay,
To try,
To do it all
For me.