The one where I hear a heartbeat…

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I just got back from cleaning out the den in the house my wife and I shared. She left a year ago and inside that room is the sum total of our life together she did not pick through to start anew. I’ve moved to a new city and have a crappy little apartment I need to fill. I needed winter clothes and blankets so I went back with my girlfriend. Another ex- was there (renting the place with some good friends) and without the support of the two of them, I never could have done it.
 
Inside was wedding videos, and the saved accoutrements of that day. I have the silver chalice from which my ex-wife and I drank to our undying love. The teddy bear sent to us to celebrate the birth of our child that would not live to be born. Burned hopes and dead dreams like the tomb of a life that would never happen. I found old poems I had written to her and anniversary cards she had scribbled to me. Echoes of a love that is gone. I packed up what I needed, sifting through these artifacts like a bones from a long dead civilization.
 
I wept. A lot.
 
But, in the end, I have started to heal. Not just manage. Not just shove it aside into a nightmare box to unspool in my head when I go to sleep. I have started to heal. To accept myself and move beyond being a crippled little thing.
I have found my strength again.
More importantly, I have found my weaknesses. I am starting to become a more complete person. I don’t know if it was on purpose or accidental. I am not sure that matters. In the end I am starting to fix the things inside of me that hold me back without sacrificing the things that are good but cause me to look at ugly truths and move forward.
I hope the same for everyone.
Because pain is not the end. It is not an end unto itself, but it is a beginning. A good sign that better things are coming.
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The one where I admit I’m taking my own advice…

We‘re all in the same game, just different levels. Dealing with the same hell, just different devils. — attributed to many.
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I keep finding broken hearts looking for help. I find I have advice to give them.
More than that I find the advice I have for them is the advice I need.
And I hope, the advice others need.
Because none of us are in this life alone. None of us get out of it alive.
Giving each other comfort is the least we can do.
 
First, stop being noble. Cry. Honestly cry. Cry, wail, and weep. Be sad. Being sad at the loss of love is normal. It is ok. It is HEALTHY. It is Ok to be sad. Let it out and let the peace that comes after be yours. You must let go of those hopes, dreams and plans that will never happen with those that have decided to leave. You can’t make them stay and that is OK. But you have to mourn their loss so you are left with the worthy and loving person that is left: You.
 
Next, do what you have done for everyone else your whole life: forgiveness. Take honest stock in your flaws, and forgive yourself for them. Physical, Mental, Emotional. Look at all the things you think are wrong with you and forgive yourself for them. Stop punishing yourself for them. Accept yourself and be at peace with who you are. From here you can look upon yourself and realize what are honest flaws that you need to work on, and what are quirks that make you vulnerable.
 
Being vulnerable can leave you open to be hurt, but it is no flaw. Having an open heart takes strength. And never confuse pain with weakness. A giant may carry a castle up a mountain and it may cause great fatigue and even pain, but none would doubt its strength.
 
Once you give yourself the forgiveness you bestow on others you can start on the process of changing what you really don’t like about yourself. Give yourself priority. Working out, taking up hobbies, traveling where you want. Going to the theater (live or screen) not to share the experience but because YOU enjoy it. In short: date yourself. Show yourself the love you bestow on others.
 
It starts with forgiveness. Of turning your most powerful heart upon yourself and giving yourself the attention, respect, and even some slack that you bestow upon everyone else.
 
Next is fear. You must address your fears, identify them and overcome them. Not of spiders or the dark, but of abandonment, loneliness, of self worth, and even commitment. Find them. Identify them. Know they are there and how they make you react to given situations. Work to understand them and pry their ghostly fingers from your heart. You can overcome them, but you must know their names to do it.
 
Next is friends. You have them. Bring them close. Rely on them. Communicate with them. Celebrate with them. You are never a burden. You are their friend. Stop being paralyzed and isolated by fear and guilt. If your friends are unworthy, then find ones that are.
 
Friends, lovers, and mates are people. To find them you must go to where they are. You will not find them alone in the dark. Walk to where there is light and laughter. If you want someone who shares your interests, do things you are interested in. Cooking classes, Meetup.org groups, local festivals are all places that may have activities that speak to you. It is something you enjoy, allowing you to love yourself, allows you to meet with friends, gaining support, and provide you with a venue to meet someone who will love you for the amazing person you are.
 
You are a beautiful woman. Once you learn to be comfortable in your own skin, to WANT someone instead of NEED, you will be more than beautiful. You will glow. You will shine like a sun. You will attract someone who is worthy of you, and have the strength and judgement to turn away those who are unworthy.
 
More than that I haven’t figured it out yet.
I found the road. I can guide you to it, but I’m only a few steps further down it than you are. Stumbling, faint of heart, but still walking upright. And when I have to, I crawl.

The one where I tell the truth…

 

 

surrounded_by_darkness_by_cheetahdiago-d8mls4y.jpgThings have been hard. But they are getting better. I’m standing taller. And every day there seems another thing to knock me back down. But I’m getting up again. Every damn time.

But I’m not writing a lot yet. So I’m speaking how I can. Healing as I can. Getting better as I can.

 

Truth

I wander,

lost

In the alien void,

a cloak,

a ghost.

A ripple of blackness in the void of sharp things and night.

 

Then I see one,

lost and alone.

A perfectly formed creature of light and life

grimly trudging in this place

where it does not live,

and does not belong.

 

For it stumbles to its knees.

And my heart aches

For this is a being of the sun

but its glow is so faint

flickering and faltering

weeping golden drop of dusk into a dark world that does not care.

 

I glide forward

insides twisting and dancing

deathly afraid of the glowing, beautiful thing.

I touch it and it burns me.

Fire upon my dark skin

But the light, the light is brighter as it searches the darkness for hope.

 

I see the embers of my flame kissed hand,

and to the face of beauty that weeps

and I spread myself like the dusk

and settle upon the burning beauty

The agony is immediate

And it fills all my senses as I scream…

 

And then it is gone, running.

It is bright again,

it is healthy, whole.

and as fireflies borne of my own skin flicker past my eyes

It is able to move on

and it does.

 

I see the burning dawn on the horizon

I know the angel will be alright.

So I flee into the dark

The caves, alone

in the night that never ends

alone.

 

But again, in starlight

I emerge and wander in my sadness

and again, a beautiful wanderer

and again, used and discarded.

To make them strong

left to convalesce in the dank.

 

But it changed me, these angels.

I saw a simmering radiance on the walls of my cave

and I knew the burns had healed black

But inside, the fire still burned

Still glowed.

And I wondered if the night would ever have me back.

 

But then it came,

An angel with only a flicker of luster

wounded and alone.

And I stayed my hand,

for fear and memory burned me.

Worse than any reality ever could.

 

But those eyes, those glorious portal of a sojourning soul

could finally see me and begged for contact,

for understanding.

I dove into the angel and the fire turned me into a bonfire.

But I knew the true nature of love.

And it is what you give, not what you receive.

 

I fell to the rocks,

Fire tracing my every fiber, discarded and alone.

I heard the angel shift,

I waited to hear it walk away.

But then it touched me, lifted me

and held me to its burning breast.

 

I screamed and I roared

I burned and I felt I would die

and so it set me down

and began to walk to the dawn

but even as it walked, and the fires died on my skin

I saw the angel, and saw the beautiful burning soul streaked with the blackest night.

 

I dragged myself from the thorny ground

And I flew for the celestial form

I settled about it

but it flung me off

and ran for the dawn

powerful, and light, and dark, and strong.

 

I chased it with tenacity

and with speed and soul and songs

and still it ran.

Until I realized it wasn’t running from the night.

It was running from me, and the hurt it could do to me.

And we came to the celestial line, and it stumbled again.

 

I raced beyond it as it again fell,

Standing between a painful life with it and the doom behind me.

and I saw the sparkling streams of sadness

strung through with darkness, my darkness eating at the light.

But the sun was coming. Coming for me.

And the angel reached for me, afraid.

 

I burst with speed I flew like the wind.

Into the arms of the sun.

The light it seared me

it punched through to my core.

It ripped apart everything it touched

And I screamed in the light, my flaws laid bare.

 

I cried as I burned, in the light of a new dawn

Fears like fissures dripping with fire

and an amalgam of truth punching into my core

as I screamed.

I cried.

The angel crawled beyond endurance to the edge of the dawn.

 

It reached for me

from inside the night,

Tears falling like rain.

And I reached for it,

fires from my body

pouring black smoke into the sky

 

The angel lurched, it flailed, the sky burning the night inside it

and it came under the nourishing eye of the day.

It enveloped me into its arms.

and together we burned,

and together we cried

as the night was taken from us in a conflagration

 

And finally, finally,

one did for me what I had always done for them.

And after I looked into the angel’s perfect eyes.

And I waited. For we were burning.

But I had hope.

That at least We would burn together.

 

Burn until the night, the darkness inside,

was gone forever,

and we could walk hand in hand.

Through every day, and every night,

together.

The one where I go back to my roots

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Not mine, but it speaks to me. Much respect to the artist.

I started writing as a poet. A bad one. Yeah, I’m sure that’s a surprise to everyone.

Pimply, round. Lonely. I could only express myself through words packed like a fist from the mouth of a volcano. On paper.

I have gone through a divorce, as clean and fast as anyone I have ever heard of. The emotional cost, however, has been vast. It has taken a toll on my creative side. Every time I get to something emotional, something real, I shy away like an animal faced with fire.

My health is improving and now the emotional rebuilding has begun. My temper has been bad as of late. Adversity is no longer a mountain to be overcome, but a punishment from a fickle and uncaring god. I can’t live like that, and that means a change. I can only hope those around me will cut me slack when I need it and be hard on me when it is called for. I have also decided to go back to the beginning.

I need to start writing. For my sanity, for my future, and for my… To have a purpose again.

So, back to the beginning. Bad poetry stuttered out from an embarrassed pen.

And by that road, I will get back to where I need to be.

 

It Survives

I am told that my love is water.

And I worry.

For water, tempestuous and tossed,

It swallows and it storms.

And shatters the heavens with electric fangs.

It uses knives made of its own body

to carve stone from the mountain face.

And to rush down valleys sweeping everything from its path.

The voice inside me, it knows these truths

And it burns with the cold of a thousand fathoms

Feels the pressure of merciless depths of my passion

And I wonder who will plumb me.

To know me even where the brightest sun cannot see

But who would want to,

And who would dare

To swim in the uncounted

unknowable

depths

Where the brightest sun cannot see.

But then I remember that the sun does shine

And it dances on the surface of my adoration

like angels at play.

And though it can rage, it can also heal,

Falling gently on living things

Bringing life to the moonscape

and health to the wilting.

It can fulfill any vessel,

And quench any thirst

Brave enough to press lips to sip

And it may be frozen

Locked in prison for millennia

it may be buried in the shifting sands,

too far for mortal hands to reveal

But though it be boiled on desert rocks

Or tossed into the sky on thousand foot drops

It may be smashed into vapor, trod into dirt,

It may be beaten and left and forgotten

But my love is water

and it will sneak into the sky

And form dragons and wolves and lions

It may turn black and threaten

It may scatter the sunlight into beautiful spectrums

But it never dies

And it never fails

It cannot be destroyed

For it is my love.

And it always, always survives.

Even where the brightest sun cannot see.

the one where I had a dream

You were there.

But at first, I was alone.

Well, not alone. There were hundreds, thousands of us there.

We were dying.

The bombs were coming down with that cartoon whistle that seemed cartoonish until the explosive hit and churned the world into a geyser of dirt, blood, and body parts. We were all yelling, screaming, charging. I don’t know who I was fighting for, but it was world war one. I was wearing weird spats over the boots, the wool uniform was far too hot and heavy, and the Lewis gun I carried was like an anvil in my arms. I had the feeling I wasn’t supposed to have it, but when we were caught in the crossfire it didn’t matter. It caught a round in the water jacket in the front, and steam was hissing out of it as I burned through tray after tray of ammunition. But then it was gone. I reached to my partner for another and he handed it to me, then there was the boom of a gun and he was gone. Just the tray of bullets – a circular magazine – and his hand still gripping it. A fountain of dirt threw me to the side as the gigantic bullet that killed him hit an embankment thirty feet back.

Tank.

It was not sleek, not fast, almost laughable in the over-designed riveted body struggled with mud and trees, but a tank. I dropped the Lewis gun and ran.

It followed like a death warrent, chewing at the ground with machinegun fire from a dozen ball turrets that jutted like demonic eyes. ahead there was a building and I made for it, weaving in and out of the trees. I got to the road and crossed it, vaulting up over the stone wall and into an unkempt garden. I hit the ground again and sat up.

I sat up. wobbled. It was quiet. I was in my room. It was dark. I touched my phone and saw it was 2 am.

I gently, gently lay back down into the sweat moistened pillows. I thought of you.

 

Again in France I burned with the need to escape. The tank blew a hole in the ancient stone wall behind me, but I had already moved. The castle ahead was the kind built when palace were more massive square mansions than turreted fairy tales. 1700’s? I dove in, hoping the beauty of the place would keep the devil outside at bay for minutes.

High ground. Needed high ground.

It was a mausoleum replete with dusty ghosts, sheets thrown over every bit of furniture as I blew up the stairs, bolt action rifle clapping on my back. my motioned echoed for forever against marble tiles and ceiling, woodwork glowering at me with faces stained dark but unable to hide the eye hidden in the eldritch whorls.

I made the second floor as angry knocking pounded on the front door. I ran down a hall lined with generations of stalwart, stoic paintings. I grabbed a knob and turned. I didn’t so much burst in as was sucked into the dusty gloom beyond. Mold spores burst into the air and I was coughing, coughing. I fell trough a hole in the floor. I fell, fell.

 

I sat up. 3am. I drank some lukewarm water and coughed. The room was pitch black. A cat was wandering down the hall outside and playing with some bit it had claimed as a toy.

 

I lay down, and fell, and fell.

I opened my eyes to pitch blackness and ringing silence. There was nothing. I was totally and utterly alone. I wondered if the darkness had teeth. I wondered if it needed them. I pondered how a man alone might be dissolved in utter solitary void.

And the more I thought about it. The more I became convinced of it.

Then there was a note. A sound. It was music, but it was also burning. I sat up,

But I was still asleep. and I felt the cold around me grow more intense, as if all the cold in the hall was fleeing like forest animals as far, far down the ballroom hall, there came a light.

I could barely see me, barely see anything, but the floor was a milky expanse of mirror sheen marble. The walls had two dozen fireplaces in the walls. candle holders graced every surface and massive chandeliers hid white wicked wax in mazes of crystal and silver.

At the far edge of seeing the light grew. It became more. Fireplace whispered into roaring life and candles shook off the darkness to chase it into far corners. I felt the rifle fall from my shoulder and crash discordantly to the floor. I took off the wool jacket and let it sigh from my shoulders. Tired feet took me step by step toward the light, where I saw a figure emerging from the glare.

It was you.

Your dress was blue and white, hot beyond imagining as it fluttered around you like pure silk. Your hair was the same, curled and pulled away from your beautiful face like a movie star from the 30’s. You walked upright and barefoot, towering over the whole of the world as the lights around you danced to flaming life and cast sparkling droplets of light before you like a carpet of roses.

We came close.

I touched your cheek and you nuzzled into my palm.

I watched your eyes turn blue and green and gray. you reached to my belt and felt the ridiculously long bayonet, almost a sword, handing at my hip.

You asked, mouth not moving. Must you fight?

I took a deep breath, but I did not speak the words, For what I believe in. for who I love.

Would you fight for me?

I already am.

And you kissed me.

I felt our bodies intertwine and the flame flare up around us. I could taste you: sunlight and strawberries, peaches and snowflakes. We kissed and kissed.

And then I could not breathe.

I sat up.

And my tiny room was dark. Cold. empty.

I lay back down and thought of you.

My alarm went off.

 

 

 

the one of gods and (wo)men…

We, those who I grew up with and I, are of that age. Our gods are falling into graves, and we realize with horrible certainty that a whole new generation is seeking their own titans, and that they must be us.

It is a terrible crime to shrink from this duty. To push off children and teens because we are afraid, self centered or unworthy. The next generation demands we rise to be worthy. For without those gods who raised us and ran in fields with us, who taught us the geometry of Euclid, the words of Shakespeare, or the reality of Tubman, how would we even stand this tall?

Perhaps they were like us. Simple children who had gotten bigger. Unsure, unsteady, and wholly unprepared for being thrust into the role of guides and shaman for those that come after. Maybe they were.

Thank God we never doubted enough to pull back the curtain. Thank God they never let us see them sweat.

Or, maybe, that is the last lesson. All lives end. What remains is what we pass on as the giants for those who remember us from when they were small.

 

A beloved teacher is dead.

Let us gather and tell her legends. Let us tell them and determine we will create more for those that come after.

 

http://www.renfrofuneralservice.com/obituaries/Jacqueline-Sroufe-Wallace/