The Deepest Dark

the deepest dark lies within our hearts

we laugh, we smile, bear and grin it

are we daring enough to really bare it

 

fear versus apathy

both trying to overtake me

it’s like the lights are out but I’m roaming around

trying to sort the universe out

 

maybe this is too internalized

I need hollowed out so I don’t feel

knock the walls down bust the windows out

it’s hard to change what you don’t understand

 

get the keys, fly down the highway

the pounding waves of the surging storm

–get over it, just move on–

the only moment of silence comes when driving under the bridge

the absence of sound, the separation from the constant roar,

the forgetting of the dark all around,

is bliss…

–just be happy–

addiction begins

 

But I can hardly sit still. I keep fidgeting, crossing one leg and then the other. I feel like I could throw off sparks, or break a window–maybe rearrange all the furniture.”
― Raymond Carver

Depression – that limp word for the storm of black panic and half-demented malfunction – had over the years worked itself out in Charlotte’s life in a curious pattern. Its onset was often imperceptible: like an assiduous housekeeper locking up a rambling mansion, it noiselessly went about and turned off, one by one, the mind’s thousand small accesses to pleasure.”
Sebastian Faulks

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the sweet in-between

The sweet in-between of losing sleep and chasing dreams.

Heedless passion stirs the soul fire while relentless pursuit draws out the desire.

free this love then

 

out flows the

fear that was locked away

and gaining interest

 

I don’t know if I have any fight left in me — it feels as if I’m

still locked inside this room &

I don’t know how to get out because when I look down,

the hands gripping the doorknob tight are my own.

I can’t give him an answer.

I had opened the door but now

I’ve locked myself back inside,

exchanging the key for cheap releases

Do I love him?

 

Forever I’ve lived as if

I believed I wasn’t human.

I don’t know…

 

the earth is breathing

time is beating

much older than the waves of life

wiser still than the hearts of humanity marching forward

How long do we carry the sins of our fathers?

How far before we’re crushed under the weight we’ve borne?

 

the sweet in-between intensity

of losing sleep

and chasing dreams

 

The Invisible Heart

I backed away because I didn’t want to hurt you, yet again.

Nights upon nights I cried and prayed over your pain.

Can I say this?

Can I tell you how my times I held the phone in my shaking hands, your number queued, willing myself to press the button?

I remember so clearly the moment I knew… the blazing morning sun reflected into my tear-filled eyes. I set aside the phone. I knew. I knew that this thing would be the only straw. Something mostly beyond my control in either of our lives would be the nail that split the beam, but how could I ask you to hold it with me?

Can I tell you now, how at the same time I let go of you, that all aspects of my life were crumbling? Work, family, my faith, and my sanity…

Can I tell you that I could barely hide the hormone-induced near-psychosis I clutched so tightly to my chest? I don’t know who I was. I’m barely back to who I should be. The pendulum still swings between “fine” and failing most weeks.

How could I tell you then of my sorrows or my joys? I let you go because I couldn’t hold the weight of wanting. Another crushing weight bearing down on my heart because my joys would add to your sorrows.

My mother told me to never shine too brightly so I locked all the fire away with cold apathy. An ice queen still wears her heart on her sleeve, even if her emotions pass by unseen.

Voided Life

Drink with me tonight for the stars remind me of a starless life.

 

i am nothing

Nothing,

too much trouble in the phrase “not a thing,”

I am nothing.

I would that it were true.

The waves of nothing have weathered my heart from the beginning of me.

I learned to be nothing–the absence left where a child should have been.

So now when others ask and depend, when they require of me… I falter under the pressure.

I want to be useful, to be helpful and not in the way, but for them to ask me to lead them…

in those moments I see only my weakness–I was nothing–my inability to be what they need me to be.

Expectations, presumably unmet, bare teeth at my sanity, which was already brined in self-aware insufficiency since infancy.

Patterns and tendencies pulsed before me, leading away from stifling darkness to crystallized light and, just beyond down that star-lined path, a world unseen…. to have taken just one breath of it’s open air

No. Too precocious, too much intensity. The only solution to decimate, cancel out, declare void, cut ties to destiny.

Survival depended on the ability to create deliberate deficiencies to hide away the swirling complexities–suppress the memory, push away before comprehending, skip a beat before responding.

I’ve always been acutely aware of the weight bearing down upon me, of my shortcomings,

and of the struggle to cling to the vestiges of me.

How do I process? How do I adapt, expand beyond the thorny cage that tears at old wounds, making them bleed afresh? How does one rebecome who one once, too briefly, was?

no answer yet, the culmination of feigned indifference

The truth is there was beauty there, in the way the salamanders’ slick skin glistened with sunlight as they scurried through the drainage ditch. There was music in the howling and braying of the dozen dogs. There was a sweetness to the discounted peanut butter and a comfort found in ketchup sandwiches. There was a path of contentment, and I would have shared it had they but let me.

 

To blunt the barbs of reality, to feel a loosening of the ropes binding me, what is it to take a drink, a kiss?

Pour another glass, my love, to wash away the salt of crashing seas.

 

 

Poverty in the Soul

Why are we so convinced that our own pain is the only pain, or at the very least, that it is the worst? I’ve been writing this post for nearly two months. After reading posts and articles explaining why poor America is too ignorant to know better than to hate from people who have no idea what it is like to live in poverty, let alone the effects of it on the human spirit. (Not linking here, but a quick internet search will turn up plenty.)

The sparks of hate–anger, fear, or pain–know no boundaries, none of us are immune to them. How we express them–and if they do transform to hate–will be tempered by upbringing, life experiences, and personality. The pressure, the struggle of living will expose our inner workings. Think Rwanda 1990s. Tribal genocide from one tribe onto another. Germany 1940s. One man’s lust for power made use of political and religious phobia and the instability left over from the previous war to convince an entire nation of European people to condemn another group of European people.

The pressure, the struggle of living will expose our inner workings.

Noticing and trying to solve problems such as a stains in your shirt or how to best parent each child individually seems frivolous when you have to choose between gas so you can drive to the grocery store and enough food to feed the entire family. Children born and raised in this environment, especially in rural areas*, may have difficulty breaking the cycle. Even if children grow up to break out of their parents’ socioeconomic class, those habits they absorbed during childhood all too often live on in them. Self-destructive, ingrained habits limit their potential in adulthood.

I prefer highly processed foods because my snacks were ketchup sandwiches instead of fresh fruits. I overact to the slightest stress because my body seems to be stuck in permanent flight-or-fight mode. Childhood poverty has forever impacted my life from what I eat to how I dress as I feel each aspect of my life through the urge to care for that little girl I was. Poverty is never something people choose, but do they have a choice when they lack the resources to change it?

And when you can’t change something, you lose hope, and when you lose the hope, you’ve lost the drive to change. When poverty, be it rural or urban, reaches down to the depths of the souls of the people, when hope dies, horrendous things begin to happen. Forget those habits of highly successful people because they topple like dominoes in the wake of generation poverty.

  1. If you feel a spark, you lack the initiative to try because it feels that failure is inevitable. Why go looking for trouble when it will come to you? The other shoe will drop.
  2. How can you plan for the future when a haze of hunger, with no end in sight, clouds your judgment?
  3. Which ties right into the urgent versus the important. If the urgent affects your or your family’s well-being, what could be more important?

… and the list goes on.

Poverty of the soul is an emptiness, an apathy. Poverty saps the ability to derive pleasure from life and the joy from the soul. It intensifies loneliness and blinds to beauty. You accept not only as your own fate, but as the future for your children, continuing the cycle of poverty to the next generation. Parents have immense potential to spark life into their children’s dreams and to empower them to achieve them. What happens when poverty steals that? It leaves room for the sparks of hate–anger, fear, or pain–to burn hotter in them.

If it is difficult to break out of the cycle of generational poverty in the United States, can you imagine how much harder it must be in other countries where children have limited access drinking water or other basic necessities, let alone to any education?

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Hoyo de Bartola, “The Hole,” in the Dominican Republic, 12 years ago. A stream flows around the clusters of houses that are surrounded by mounds of uncovered, smoldering trash.

 

*Further reading on childhood poverty:

 

 

When You’re Not Holy

 

There’s no shortage of people out there ready to point out my mistakes or even just something that I do differently than them. From the shape of my stomach to the size of my thighs, I’m sure they even wonder about my bloodshot eyes.

Sometimes I’m so good at covering my flaws that the loudest critic is my inner one telling me over and over how I am an impostor, that I don’t deserve any of the good things in my life.

I’m learning that I need to forget all of the voices, because no matter which one is the loudest to call out how often or how big I mess up, this life… it’s about God.

And God is still holy.

God is always holy.

It’s so easy to forget that in the light of myself.  You and I have to let go of all that we are not and grasp all that we can be. 

Some people mock God. “He doesn’t exist,” or “That’s just a crutch,” they say. If holding onto a belief in God who is holy–and the loving way His Son Jesus taught–keeps us sane, even if there is no promise of a better afterlife, even if this belief saves us only from the darkness of depression and self destruction in this life, then you and I must hold fast.

 

Lonely Exile

Let me tell you what it feels like to be the awkward girl. The girl trapped in her own mind. The girl who can’t stop the voices in her head but clams up when someone greets her.

she jumps at shadows but battles demons

tired of fighting but scared of peace

haunted by hope she can never quite reach

a hope to be wanted, worthy, and free

but she rules herself condemned and destroys the key

she’d rather be empty than overflowing

silent and broken than breaking and clanging

one day she dances, the next she despairs

a lonely exile in self-imposed captivity

she’s yet to learn that her weakness is not even a fleck of dust in the cosmos

that the failure of the universe is not cast upon her shoulders

 

 

Or Maybe Being on the Right is not Always Wrong

Please stop.

To every Trump supporter (overly) basking in the afterglow of a successful campaign: Please Stop. Stop arrogantly throwing around words such as “miraculous” and “prophesied.” I’m pretty sure there are some instances in the Bible that God’s chosen king was chosen for the express purpose of bringing destruction and ruin to discipline his chosen people. Whenever I hear the term “God’s chaos candidate,” I think back to those… let’s hope that’s not our fate.

There are so many people who need their voice heard, who need to know that they will not be trampled. Listen to them.

If we proclaim love and peace but do not show it, we are useless.

To every Clinton supporter bemoaning the fate of our planet with hashtags and staged protests: Please Stop. Stop promoting further division with wails and sensationalist predictions of the apocalypse. Please share your sadness and your stories. Keep mindful. People tend to tune out others who are overly dramatic because theatrics are not needed to express emotions.

Trump is a man. There are checks and balances in place. And despite what is being said, not every white Republican is out for your blood. There are so many of us who do hear you, who will cry out with you if Trump acts unjustly.

To all of you who reluctantly voted when it seemed like there was only evil to choose from: Please speak up. Let others know that no matter what is being portrayed that you are a human, with human hopes and dreams and struggles.

You see, we can vote for a candidate even if we do not agree with all of their words.

  • Maybe you voted for a third party candidate because you wanted another choice, any choice. You didn’t throw away your vote. You voted with your brain and your heart, as we all did.
  • Not all Clinton supports are educated, a minority, or in the millennial generation. Maybe you voted for Clinton but you disagree with her stance on abortion.
  • Or maybe you voted for Trump because of his promises but you can’t stand the delivery. You may be white but that does not automatically mean you are a racist backwater bigot.

We’ve all made our choices. I’m not here to explain my choice. I’m here to speak, to show my humanity. I’m here to listen to yours.

Based on my profile picture, you may guess that I voted for Trump and be ready to chuck aside me and my words because you see only a rural, flannel-wearing white girl. Someone on the right so she must be wrong.

100_1815-4

Please stop.

It’s a photo, staged with trees in the background because I love nature. I don’t actually live there.

And that flannel jacket? It belonged to my late maternal grandfather, whom I came to know as an older teen and young adult, only after grief and alcohol had stolen away most of his years. Who joined the Navy to serve his country and see the world. He spent his childhood dirt poor but found purpose and life and love. Yet in his lifetime suffered more than most of us ever will: his wife died at 42 to aggressive breast cancer, his middle son to addictions, his youngest and severely disabled son before 30, his eldest daughter to the same cancer at the same age as her mother. This photo of me wearing his jacket is all the more apropos because today is Veteran’s day. I sometimes wear it as a tangible reminder of a man I wish I knew.

I can’t do anything about the color of my skin, but no one’s skin tone defines them. Jerks are going to find reasons to be jerks. Most of the time they just are without the reasons. I grew up in the rural heartland at a time when my school district was 99.9% white. My best friend was the girl who wasn’t. But I was born on the wrong side of the tracks with a last name to match. Do you know who the good ol’ boys and girls and most adults rejected, dismissed, and tossed aside? The poor girl in her brother’s stained hand-me-downs. So yeah, I can understand frustration and even anger at being assigned a role you never asked to play.

Your name, your skin, your socioeconomic class does not define you, but neither can you define anyone else by only those things. Nothing on this earth determines your worth or your fate.

We on the right know–now more than ever–that we have a lot of work to do to show you, and the world, that we are not all old uneducated, racist white men, but most importantly to show you that we are listening. If you lean left, we hear you. Please be open to dialogue with us, some of us may understand you better than you think. There is no logic in ignoring us.

via Daily Prompt: Or

Why She Cut Her Hair

If she just kept her eyes down, and stayed still, maybe they would forget about her.

“I like her long hair,” whispered one boy.

“Yeah, I’d like to take a handful of that and…” said the other.

She shut their voices to the very fringes of her awareness, focused again on the papers on her desk and wondered if the other students or teacher were hearing the exchange behind her. And why they stayed silent. She asked herself why she stayed silent. Why couldn’t she stand up and protest, make a scene in that basic math class she took in place of the calculus one her senior year.

She could envision how the two boys would be lounging back in the hard plastic seats. Nodding and smirking at one another between comments. Though they had all spent the majority of their days in the same buildings the past dozen years, they never had much cause to interact directly. What had she done to either of them to deserve this dressing-down?

Her earthy brown, gently curling hair was enough.

She had loved how it made her feel beautiful. It was her one thing, her one feature she could love because it felt so distinct from herself. Now, it was a shameful weight against her back.

Never mind her grungy white over-sized sweater. Or her brother’s hand-me-down-jeans. She should have been safe hiding in that camouflage. She tried to get a grip on the anxiety. Her mind forced up the fear of the bus ride home from kindergarten and the sensation of a boy trying to push up her favorite red-and-white striped sundress… of the time a babysitter’s son tried to talk her into the bathroom with him before she ran downstairs.

It didn’t matter how she dressed. Or how she was always aware and never alone with boys. hair…

Her parents insisted she reconsider. But as graduation neared, she unknowingly knew it was a tangible way she could try to rid herself of herself–that shy frightened mouse of a girl who let boys be boys to enjoy their innocent fun–or maybe it was just another way to hide away. So she compromised with her parents. She would wait until after graduation, the next morning anyway.

 

just take it off at the shoulders

Judgmental or Jealous? The argument against “brutally honest”

So either August has nearly passed me by too quickly or I’ve been a bit too introspective on this topic… We’ve set up this truth-telling dichotomy in the American culture: brutally honest or two-faced yellow-bellied liar.

You must “own” your faults or be ready to have them shoved in your face. And that honesty usually comes with a side of crass and an I-know-it-all smirk. Burn. Or if you’re dishing it out, you try smooth over hurt feelings with phrases like “I’m just being honest” or “it’s the truth.” But let’s be honest: you get a warm-fuzzy feeling inside when everyone else chuckles or agrees with your blunt honesty.

I think sometimes people who have a loud inner critic tearing them down maybe try to build themselves back up by lashing out at others who seem to be stronger in an area that they perceive themselves as weak.

The woman who always looks like a supermodel. Instead of thinking, I bet she didn’t spend time with her kids this morning. Thank her for her volunteer work.

That other mom puts down her phone to play with her kids. Instead of thinking, she is such a helicopter mom! Consider that she may dislike the fact that her kids are in daycare while she works and wants to spend just a few more minutes with them.

The woman chatting and laughing with a group of men. Instead of thinking, I wonder how her husband feels about that. Bring over a cup of coffee and see if you have any shared interests.

I just ate three cookies. No, that won’t help my (54-month) post-baby body. You’ve gained a little weight… Why yes I have…

Winter is coming.

game_of_thrones_s01-e01_eddard_stark

It’s being honest. It’s true. But is it loving?

Paul implores us to assess our selves with sound judgment:

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:3 (NASB)

If we are to love others more than ourselves (Philippians 2:2-4), then how much more lovingkindness are we to use when we think of and speak to them.

But if we do not love ourselves, how can we humbly love others more than ourselves?

So when that inner critic rants and you start asking questions like… How can I teach kids when I just had a meltdown on my own? How can I even think about encouraging another marriage when I feel like mine is on the brink? How can I claim the hope of salvation when I feel so overwhelmed by life?

Remember that, honestly, you are not qualified. (2 Corinthians 3:5)

While you are never going to be the best at everything, that’s no reason to take anyone else down a notch, not even yourself.

But remember that there is grace, and it is the only qualifier that puts all of mankind on a level playing field.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)