I Can’t Compete
He likes how I want him so much,
but all I know is that his apathy feels like rejection.
If only I had the power to make him stay,
to imprint the feel of his skin on mine, the warmth of his kiss.
I see my reflection, what everyone sees–
I know I can’t compete with the curve of her lips or the way that she moves her hips.
My hair too frizzled, my teeth unstraight,
no dazzling smiles or tinkling laughter punctuate the bounce of my hair.
Others get annoyed with their own flaws but all I am IS flawed.
He likes how I want him so much as if the shape of my desire outweighs all of this.
I am all that I am going to be–
all that I am is contained inside of me.
When our eyes met there was this spark recognition that stirred a soulfire.
I want, need, that connection–
something that rips and bleeds when torn.
I’m not a thing that has to be done,
not a chore or a duty or some choice that’s made–
I’m not a moral higher ground, loving me is not an altruistic contribution to the world.
I’m desperately love-lorn…
He says he likes how I want him so much,
as if the force of my affection is enough.
Are we not interconnected?
Do pain or sickness or age spare any of us?
None can escape paying the price that the battle of life demands. What if we reconsidered turning on each other?
By exchanging friendly fire, we sap the reserves we must for the trials of life.
If I were a man I wouldn’t have to worry about
- how the children-should-be-seen-not-heard environment I was raised in is sometimes a detriment, and I would be easily forgiven as a silent and strong type.
- bantering with men between the ages of 18 and 60 being perceived as flirting.
- being judged or criticized when the sink was full of dishes or my kid caught a cold.
- being brainwashed–since birth–to seek out and sexualize male attention.
- all women’s eyes were on me assessing my competitive prowess for the men in the room.
I’m glad I’m a woman though because
- my awkward, brooding silence keeps most women at bay so I don’t feel overly inclined to socialize,
- and since I don’t want to be perceived as flirting with the men, I am free to flit about as I please.
- the only opinions that matter are of those who live in the house.
- the environment of my childhood battles against cultural norms and I avoid most people anyway.
- while I may notice the competitive assessment, I do not feel inhibited by it because the only heart I need is my husband’s.
To put these two lists in perspective, they do not take into account the responsibilities and troubles the typical man faces. They’re written by a typical woman living through the commonplace experiences. Each individual has their own unique perspective, but there tend to be patterns in human behavior. Women and men are who they are–different–there is no doubt about that. That doesn’t mean that we are pitted against each as mortal enemies (“Finish Him!”) or sealed to the tragic fate of Juliette and her Romeo.
It does not mean that one rules over the other because they are stronger, physically or mentally.
No, we are powerful.
Only the weak seek to destroy those who they perceive to be a threat.
We are not enemies but fellow soldiers in this life. If we wound someone in our unit, we hurt ourselves.
If women try diminish the strength of men, they are condemning themselves.
If men try to yield power over women, they are crippling themselves.
Writers spend a lot of time writing, alone. The family members and pets are banished to the bottom floor, messages from friends sometimes ignored. It’s difficult to express to others why imaginary friends and conversations brim over into existence, how unknown worlds unfold before your eyes. How even when I’m not writing, the scenes are being played out over and over again while I’m making the daily commute, cooking dinner, and reading bed time stories. How what’s in my head is sometimes more real than the life being played out before me.
All of that solitude, that internal processing creates a modern-day hermit sans the cabin in the woods. Joining, or creating, a small group who relate can help relieve some of that struggle and make the transition to reality a little less painful.
I believe that the act of creation is inherently an act of worship because God–who created all things from the universe and volcanoes to dragonflies and atoms–made us in His image. If you’re a Christian, find a group of like-minded writers and seek to worship God through writing. When we fellowship with other writers, we can explore ways to improve our craft and share our hearts through writing.
If you haven’t found that right group, don’t give up. If words and writing are your materials and methods, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, songwriting, however you write your worship, there are others out there just like you.
Beauty is not fading.
It’s not slowly disappearing nor staying, preserving.
It ebbs and flows, and akin to our lives it goes
in crashes, and comes in bright flashes,
and we are waiting for a recreating.
No, beauty is not fading.
It’s here in glimpses and then it eclipses
all that can be seen and that which is unforeseen,
leaving us breathless and nearly senseless,
and still shaking when we should be waking.
See, beauty is not fading.
Trying to catch what is so fleeting will be too much for hearts that are beating!
We need to start breathing, at last really seeking
what we cannot define or try to consign
to the care of our own minds.
Beauty is not…
Maybe beauty is not what leaves us caring for naught
but that which inspires us out of the mires
to live in the world with love unfurled.
poetry contest winning entry
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.
- 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.
- How can you plan for the future when a haze of hunger, with no end in sight, clouds your judgment?
- 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?
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:
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.
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
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.
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