Tag: abuse

poem: anger

Anger has its uses.

It can serve
as a reminder
that everyone deserves
respect –
even the one
dwelling within this skin.

Too many things matter.

i care too much.

Words can still wound.

Enlightenment
has only gone so far,
a fragile heart
filled with healed
cracks and ruptures
dwells within this breast.

Lovely contentment
can be confounded
by unexpected cruelty,
someone else shouting
their truth.

Bright, shining hopefulness
can be shattered
by the cudgel
of insult.

Such things require time
to return to wholeness.

The anger provides fuel
for self-protection.
The shit thrown at me
fertilizes growth.

As long as i return quickly
to the embrace of love,
to the stillness in my depths,
i can see anger
as a tool –
proof that i finally
find myself unquestionably worthy
of kindness and respect.

11 april 2016

rosary: in defense of my sanity

+
Christ, I have another person that I cared for to the point of stupidity, who keeps telling me things about myself that do not match what I see within. Once more, someone inserts himself between you and me, insisting that he knows my relationship with you and the quality of my soul better than I do myself.

Invitatory
Jesus, you know, I am one to believe what people say, particularly those I care for and respect. I look for the truth in even the most outrageous statements. I always wonder if you are trying to send me a message through their words. Indeed, this has been a great benefit – realizing that I was being called to trust in You unhesitatingly – and it has been a great harm – tying me up in knots, wondering how something so baseless and cruel could be true.

Cruciform
Christ, hold the hand of this fool, give me better discernment and help me to be strong and confident.

Weeks
Let me see the truth of myself.

Invitatory
Perhaps I should be more hesitant to see the truth, Christ, for we are all have our moments of weakness, wretchedness, failure and cruelty. However, my Lord, I have been working my whole life to be a better servant of God and I cannot manage change if I my vision is clouded by delusions and projections.

+
Thank you Christ, for all the love and kindness you have shown this wayward soul. You have brought me through times when I thought I would perish from this world. I am grateful beyond words to you. Amen.

the power of joy

Years ago, during a terrible spell when all my efforts were going into conquering PTSD, the therapist with whom I was working pointed out a powerful gift that I had been given. As we discussed a few of the people who haunted my past, I realized that her observation might just be the answer to the question: what made me different from those whose specters had brought me to her office?

roxi_closeupFast forward seven years, to the past three days, when blinding and agonizing headaches have besieged me after dinner to the point where I am double over by nausea, massive light and sound sensitivity and a profound emotional rawness. All my nerves have been stripped of their insulation. These have been worse than any migraine – absolutely crippling pain. Hours of insomnia and then fleeting, agitated sleep left me discombobulated and low each morning. And, of course, add on the snowstorms. Oh, the suffering! I can be so melodramatic when there is no one around to laugh at me.

But I remembered something this afternoon that changed everything around. I remembered the blessing the therapist pointed out: I can feel joy!

I remembered as I was curled up in bed, trying to hide from every possible stimulation that could tax my overly sensitive neurons. Roxi the cat started grooming my forehead, placing herself deftly between the book and my eyes, no doubt fearing for my safety should I try to harness thought. Darwin the dog leaned into my legs and sighed contentedly until he finally fell asleep. Martin, the other cat, perched on my shoulder, his purrs vibrating into me. It was a quiet joy, not as intense as when I am dancing and singing or become so enthusiastic that time seems to slow down – or is it that I speed up? – but sublime nonetheless. The soft warmth of happiness flooded every aching cell.

Either quiet or loud, joy is a gift and a blessing. To lose all my griefs and worries inside a singular moment of bliss can soothe any suffering – even when the the former is brief and the latter prolonged. If there is a cosmic scale weighing these opposite states, joy is three times as dense as it shimmers on the balance. Joy penetrates every atom, illuminates all the empty spaces instantly, like a sudden sunrise.

As the headache started to settle in again a few moments before I began writing, I reflexively went to memories of happiness like they were a spring in a desert. I prayed for those who have wounded me, whom I have never saw joyous, but instead watched as they steeped in negativity until they became bitter.

There is great power in joy, and it is a wonderful gift to be shameless enough to embrace it – even when the source is something small – like managing to write a pithy blog before my head actually explo

Christmas poems – day 4

the icon

#

loneliness is better

#

A Christmas poem – referring to the writing of my play “the hardest convert.”  Click here to hear the play, the links are at the bottom of the page.

 

paradigm shift

i have been wondering how personal this blog will get for a month or so.  It’s one thing to describe my creative process or show you how something is made or talk about a subject that fascinates my imagination.  As a poet, a lot of things people find shockingly intimate becomes fodder for my writing. i have been accused of being an emotional exhibitionist.  Now with that said, i hesitated to write this blog.  It is a little more revealing than even my comfort level, but even so, it feels important to share.

A few nights ago, i chatted for a long time with a good friend.  Both of us have struggled with PTSD and the way it has effected our lives.  Unfortunately for her, that night i was having a bit of trouble and she took up the spade to help dig me out.

What a gift friendship is.

However, she wound up causing a paradigm shift in my thinking.

i have always struggled with a sense of otherness.  Even among people i care for, i can feel achingly apart and alone. As lonely as i get, solitude can be a synonym for safety.  For most of my life, i had only believed one person when he said he loved me and when he took the word away, it broke me to bits. It seemed to prove the worst of me, that i was hopeless. Thankfully, i have made progress since then.  i recognize love more often, from more people, finally figuring out that because love might have limitations that doesn’t make it less real.

blue portraitStill, i am far from invulnerable to these dangerous spasms of lonely despair. They can imperil me.

Instead of seeing how i am like others, i wind up focusing on how i am different.  Instead of celebrating my differences, i see them as sinful, or stupid, or worthless.  Part of this comes from being a poet and an artist.  i could not fail to notice that i see the world differently from many.  My priorities  differ from those of most sane people.  All you have to do is look at the state of my kitchen. Making art takes precedence over pretty much everything – even the dishes.

And for my whole life, i have assumed that this otherness was hard wired within me. Many of the poems that lament the loneliness and isolation from which i suffer describe how inevitable it is given who i am.

As we talked, a different interpretation came to both of us.  She saw the loneliness, the acute vulnerability, the intense feeling that i can’t manage on my own as products of PTSD rather than something innate in my being.  Causing me to question this assumption struck me as deeply as making someone question their religion’s most tightly held dogma.  It rattled my foundations.  This had seemed an incontrovertible truth, a universal Truth applied to the specific oddity that i perceive as myself.  Yet, the case she made was very good.

Which got me thinking.  And thinking.  i was up most of the night, long after she and i stopped talking.  The epiphany has not traveled far from me in days.  If only i knew what to do with it.
What do we do when something so central to how we see ourselves becomes an assumption to be questioned?  All of the sudden, i saw myself so clearly as a young child, feeling alone and scared and betrayed and powerless. i remembered the first time that i realized the world “love” was being used as a lie, to mask cruelty. At the time, i couldn’t do anything about my situation – so those emotions turned inward.  They became Truths about my experience.  i was Alone.  i was Terrified.  i was someone who could not be loved, not truly, not in a way that didn’t require me to suffer. I was someone who could not be protected or protect herself.  Instead of fleeting moments, those definitions became descriptions of my essence.

As i  talked with my friend, as i pondered this in the hours since, i have wondered if the reason i always wound up so overthrown by the negative experiences in life that nearly everyone has experienced and transcended was because they acted as triggers, echoing and enhancing that primal reaction.

In which case, those emotions and moods and dangerous despair are not the Truth of me at all.  They need not effect my behavior or color how i see the world.  Loneliness and otherness become impositions, not definitions.

And this thought excites me.  It gives me hope.  And i have no idea what to do with it – if this new way of thinking will hold and change how i interact with the world – other than be grateful to my friend for her help.

While i continue to think this through, i’ll leave you with a few poems from the old paradigm.

born lacking:

alone again:

cepheids:

burning solitude: