It Isn’t in My Blood

“Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood”
 
In My Blood, by Sean Mendes is like my anthem these days. My ANTHEM.

For a long time, I’ve been wondering…Why can’t I just give up? And when I say “give up” I don’t necessarily mean stop living. I mean, Why can’t I stop caring? Why can’t I stop fighting? Why does anything flipping matter to me at all anymore?

Believe me, I have TRIED giving up. Once upon a very dark time, I stood on the edge of the bridge overlooking an ice-cold, black river, just to ask myself the question…Could I? Would I? Am I brave enough? Desperate enough? Tired enough? If that freaks you out, don’t worry. I knew the answer before I stood there. But for some reason, I still had to ask.

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The Truth About Parenting Children into Adulthood (reluctantly posted by a blogger who doesn’t blog about parenting)

I almost never blog about parenting.

Why not?

Mostly because I have no idea what I’m doing. Parenting is an experiment. Every time. One in which the test subjects, conditions, and variables are always changing. The moment I think I’ve done something right is usually the moment just before the moment I find out whatever I thought I did right was actually so wrong it will require years of therapy to undo the damage. Why would I document that online?

Funny thing: while people often congratulate me for raising two great young women, they rarely ask me for parenting advice. That ought to tell you something. Sure, their mouths say “Wow, you must have done something right,” but what’s really going through their minds is “How did this woman get so lucky?” And I’m thinking, I know, right?! 

Second, I don’t blog about parenting because I like my kids, and more importantly, I want them to like me (or at least still visit me on holidays). Sharing their trials and tribulations with the world on a public blog doesn’t seem like the best way to engender familial affection.

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Thoughts from Inside the Storm

The pain burns, stings, like a thousand cuts carved into my skin, on my hands, my feet, across my chest, my stomach, my back. I can almost feel the blood oozing out like tears – my whole body weeps. My whole body weeps, shudders, shakes. I need to vomit. To expel this wretched wrong. This thing I can’t undo. This end. Which is an ending I never would have written but was written for me instead – for us all – but most of all, for him.

I am raw and broken. And sick. So sick. Only I can’t throw it up. There’s always more – more pain, more sorrow, more regret churning and burning its way through my soul.

Oh God. How can you ask me? How can you ask me to do this?

You color me in and then erase me. Drain me. To the dregs. And dregs are all I have left.

But You can’t blame me. I can blame me. I can be angry and live with regrets and could haves and should haves and would haves. But not You. Because You let this happen. You did. There’s no denying it.

So when I am nothing, when I am just sludge and scar tissue, You won’t ask why. You won’t dare look at me with surprise. You can’t possibly be surprised. You know the end from the beginning. You knew this. You knew this day. You knew this pain, too.

What if I can’t forgive You? What then? What if You and me are never the same? What have You done? Could You destroy “us”? Would You?

I think somewhere deep inside I know the answers, but today the pain is louder. Like the roaring winds of a hurricane. I hear nothing else. I feel nothing else. I am deaf to all but the screaming of my soul as I am peeled apart, layer by layer, flesh torn open and packed with salt.

Here, truth and comfort are merely words, tiny letters which, rearranged, can mean anything…or nothing at all. Meaningless. Meaningless. I spin around the eye of the storm. There is nothing but the pain.

And all I can do is wait.

——————————

For all our brothers, near, far and farthest. And to the One Brother who I need now more than ever: be my shelter from the storm.

I Will Stay

A poem about heroes, most often found in ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

He stood upon the front porch
Watching his daddy walk away
His mama stood beside the boy
His mama, she would stay

The boy, he heard her swallow hard
Watched one tear slide down her face
The boy took her by the hand
And said, “Mama, I’ll stay”

She stood upon the front porch
Watching the boy smile and wave
In the dust from the tires of the yellow bus
His mama, she would stay

He watched, as his mama grew smaller
He watched, as she faded away
As the bus jostled onward beyond
Where his heart would always stay

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From Here to There

A piece of fiction Writing 101:

“And don’t come back in ’til I call you! You hear me?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sammy muttered under her breath.

“Babygirl! I said, do you hear me?!”

“I am not a baby girl!”

“Do. You. Hear me?”

“Yes, Mama. I hear you,” she grumbled.

Sammy let the screen door slam behind her, took a few steps and sat down on the front stoop. She kept to her family’s side of the porch. Mr. Johnson, who lived in the other half of the duplex, didn’t like anyone on his side of the porch, especially little girls.

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Home

Mom & Grandma

Mom & Grandma

I moved 21 times before I turned 12. That makes 22 different homes and no, my parents weren’t in the military. 22 apartments but only two school systems. So actually, all that moving wasn’t as disruptive as you might think.

I mean, sure, it was draining. And we did reach a point where we stopped unpacking the essentials and lived out of boxes.

Boxes. Most of us live in them already: big boxes with doors and windows, divided into smaller boxes with doors and archways. And we live out of them too: cabinets, closets, drawers and shelves. And we create them: boxes in our minds and walls in our hearts. When I was a kid, some of our boxes just happened to be made out of cardboard.

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If My Heart had Wings

Four Generations

Four Generations

Some days, I miss her so much I can almost feel her next to me, in front of me…taking my face in her papery hands and drawing me close to kiss my cheek.

She wasn’t always old, though.

We lived a number places together: the Green House in the hills of Granby, an apartment in Simsbury and then, later, a raised ranch further up the street. Wherever she was felt like home to me.

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He Held the Door

Written in response to  the Weekly Writing Challenge | Fifty:  …write a fifty-word story. Not five thousand, not five hundred, but precisely fifty words. Writing a word limited story was challenging –  I would much rather try to write a 50 word poem. But even so, the story below is true: 

Her grandparents waited in the car while she, 12, ran in to buy their tobacco. Times were different.

On her way out, he held the door.

“Thanks,” she smiled.

“You’re welcome,” he nodded.

She climbed into the backseat.

“That was your father,” grandma said. “He held the door for you.”

Unashamed Love

Family Photo of Kenny

Family Photo of Kenny

I believe that for most little girls, their first love is Daddy. I hardly remember my dad at all, much less loving the man. But my first stepfather, Kenny, I loved him. While it was a tentative and guarded love, made all the more so by his long illness, when he died my twelve year old heart broke in ways and places I didn’t know existed. Today, February 13, is Kenny’s birthday and, as always, that kind, gentle, funny man is loved and missed.

Love for me has never come easily and so I struggled with this week’s Writing Challenge, My Funny Valentine. Then I remembered a story and thought that maybe, maybe, this little window into the warping and twisting of love in the hearts of children, might somehow, some way, help set you free too.

As a little girl, I always had an older me inside – one who saw and understood things that my unripened vocabulary couldn’t express. Instead, I felt everything, like wordless impressions stamped deep into the soft clay of a sensitive heart. With no Living Water to keep my heart tender and pliable, to fill the valleys and smooth the mountain peaks, I formed my own truth, my own tilted view of life and love and people.

In today’s memory, I am about five years old: I tiptoed from my bedroom up the dark hallway and into the kitchen. Staying close to the wall and probably more conspicuous than I believed, I peeked around the corner and into the living room. He wasn’t there yet. Kenny. He and my mom were dating at the time and they’d recently broken up. I didn’t know what they’d fought about or why he’d left. But the murmured words of adults drifting back and forth above my head hinted of his return. An anxious hopefulness practically oozed from the walls. Everybody loved Kenny.

Anticipation wiggled its way throughout my small body, so I invented a game for the waiting. I’d walk from my bedroom up the short hall toward the living room, one slow, careful step at a time, wondering with each press of the foot: is he here? My hopes would rise with my heartbeat as I edged nearer the light of the living room archway. Once there, I’d quickly pop my head around the doorframe and….nope. Not yet. Deflated, I’d turn around, shuffle back to my room and do it all over again. And again. And again. Slower with each pass. Each time hoping that would be the time I’d find him coming through the front door.

Family Photo of Kenny and... maybe that's me in the picture and maybe it isn't. I confess to nothing.

Family Photo of Kenny and… maybe that’s me in the picture and maybe it isn’t. I confess to nothing.

I don’t know what I expected. A celebration? Handshakes and hugs all around? But for all my anticipation, when Kenny finally arrived, nothing exciting happened at all. No one rejoiced. No one gave him a hug or said, “Hey, welcome back!” He just came in silently, sat down on the couch and stared at the TV along with my mom and grandparents. Nothing but nods and awkward “hellos” and silence in front of the television.

So this is how we do it? I mused. Pretend nothing’s happened?

Obviously doing what I wanted most – to jump in his lap and throw my arms around his neck – would be scandalously out of place. And so I pretended. I played along. I became an Actress.

But, refusing to be ignored and refusing to ignore, I did what any self-respecting five year old would do: I picked up a throw pillow and…well…threw it at Kenny. He was, after all, my playmate and my friend. This was our ‘normal.’ We tossed the pillow back and forth. I laughed and he smiled. Kenny was a quiet, subtle guy and his smile told me we were good. Reconciliation by pillow fight.

Yet some part of me wanted more. An invitation to sit with him on the couch? A hug? Words of assurance? For the first time, I became conscious of the fact that I wanted his love and acceptance. Needed it, even. But needing is dangerous. No one likes a needy child. And what happens when what we need becomes something we can’t have?

My stomach filled with a strange, hollow-heavy, sick feeling. Embarrassment, rejection, nakedness of soul, fear of punishment, a desire to hide all wrapped in one little lead ball behind my belly button.

I was Needy and I was Ashamed. Ashamed of needing, of wanting, of loving. Afraid of being unlovable. Hadn’t my own father been unable to love me? Ashamed of being me.

…………………

30 some odd years later, I sit, head bowed, eyes closed, in a dimly lit church. I sing the words “Worthy….You are worthy…of a childlike faith and of my honest praise and of my unashamed love…of a holy life and of my sacrifice and of my unashamed love…”

And I think, as I always do when singing this song, of loving Jesus unashamedly – boldly, without worrying what others think, without hiding my Bible at the doctor’s office or avoiding talking about God outside of church.

But then God brings me a precious jewel…the memory of that day with Kenny…and as I sing the words that wash over me, He turns the glistening gem around in His hand to show me another facet of love…

of my unashamed love….love without fear, or embarrassment. Love that doesn’t act or pretend to be self-sufficient. There is no shame in needing love – there is no shame in needing God. That is who we are. Who I am. Needy for the Lord and his Love.

of my unashamed love…love that doesn’t fear punishment or rejection. Love that trusts in the Father who supplies all our needs. I am Safe.

of my unashamed love…love that runs into her Father’s embrace and throws her arms around His neck. Love that is free from falsehood. I am Real.

Full and light is the feeling that soars into my soul and lifts upon its wings the hollow-heaviness of shame and carries it away…eternally away. And my belly warms with acceptance and tender hands upon my face and eyes that see me fully and a smile of adoration…for me. And I am Loved.

UNASHAMED LOVE by Jason Morant