After the Storm

I give you your freedom.

I want back myself.

I’m tired of running this into the ground.

Over-and-over I try to figure this out. I might drive me crazy if I don’t let this out.

Staring into eyes different only in time — Have we seen the same pain? Have we walked the same lines?

How do we pare down to only what’s essential?

I long to find the end again, past all the questions, past all the trivial.

I know there’s hope but… Let me try explain:

Oblivion.

Then I open my eyes — someone called.

I lie awake, still wrapped in the clothes of the grave.

I see only an aura, though, because no one moved the stone away.

Do I stay safe, hidden inside? I feel as though I’ll die if I don’t jump to see how far I can fly.

What if what feels crucial results in destruction?

I’ve looked at fear and welcomed the force, only to become the storm.

When we overcome our weakness do we lose the source driving us forward?

Spent, I find I don’t have the urge to sort through the wreckage, I want to leave it on the ground.

 

 

 

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Surrender

My attitude towards life, for most of my life, could be summed up in a few words: What’s the point?

We all have some points or goals in life: education, sports, spouse, job, kids. Maybe those held for a time, but what happens when you don’t meet your own expectations? You didn’t finish your degree. Your marriage is crumbling. You wonder if your parenting is doing any good.

Do you classify yourself as unworthy? Leading back to …

 

What’s the point?

Even when it seems like anyone else could do it better, you are the only one who can be you. Maybe those 525,600 minutes are heavy, heavier than our hearts can bear. That’s when our passionate side must speak louder than the voices of apathy and pragmatism.

You could die tomorrow.

The majority of people will not die tomorrow.

You are not the majority.

You were born with a unique personality.

You were uniquely shaped by your circumstances.

 

Even when we know the truth, it’s difficult to surrender to it. What does it mean to surrender. So often, we have the wrong impression of what surrender is. Surrender isn’t about giving up and relinquishing our self.

Surrender is pressing forward even when we don’t have the revelation.

Surrender is finding yourself, even when you feel like you’ve never really known who you are.

Surrender is fighting for and protecting what’s right.

Surrender is being brave enough to stand and enter the ring despite the fear.

You are not the majority so get up.

Switching Seats

Waiting,

your expectations weighing on me

I can hear the breaking of my soul, every time you look at me

Glass singing in the wind, not enough left to last too long

Should I show the math, explain the path from Y to Z?

There’s a reason that I don’t display every play, that I channel this emotion far away, self regulate.

I may be a creature of habit but my habits are my own… tell me is it blasphemy if I’m switching seats? It just makes it easier for you to remember me, and I’m not here to be seen.

 

 

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

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