Tag: loneliness

poem: grieving

Without warning
the words rip their way out.

“I miss my dog!”

i might have gone to him
for cuddles
to be confronted
by his absence.

Or,
i might leave the house
not having to worry
about walks,
free from fretting
over him
while i travel.
That momentary gratitude
that i can be on my way
turns into gutted grief.

By in large,
this flesh has grown numb
to the shuddering pain of tears.

Despair has given way
to emptiness.

A surreal stillness
has completely overtaken
all the loud wails of grief.

This is life now;
this is my new loneliness.

Only, i cannot see this
as movement forward –
rather,
i am an ostrich,
head firmly planted
in the sand,
choking on change
i never wanted to happen.

6 may 2016

changing the story

Today, i am participating in two events – Maine Craft Weekend and my own estate sale, trying to purge myself of unwanted belongings.  Despite how i feel – and two days of fairly heavy labor on a bad arm mean i am not feeling well – i opened up right at 8:55 am, convinced that i would make enough money to whittle down my bills.  Alas, that is not the case as yet.  As i write, at 3:08 pm, no one has shown up for either event.  Not one car has even slowed down.  My confidence falters.

Yesterday, i had six people show up, of which four were motivated buyers.  That may have saved me for the time of recouperation ahead of me (see yesterday’s blog) and, again, i take a moment to give thanks.  But, despite the advertising, today has been nearly absolute silence – broken only by a few messages on facebook from people who could not come. Each beep evoked a great wave of gratitude because it minimized the invisibility that something like this evokes.

The child who felt so lost and alone inside her family, the kid picked last for every sport, the little girl who would have done anything not to go home but tried so hard to hide her distress and act normal, the college student that felt hopelessly out of step with her peers, these iterations of self remain within me. They keenly remember the ease with which superficial social interaction could occur while a vast, seemingly impassable distance stretched out between the rest of creation and this one soul.  They see this lack of response, this searing quiet, like a failure or a judgment.

i have to change that story, but often i am at a loss of how to go about that when so much of the world reinforces it.  i am not rich, i am not healthy, i am not married, i have no children, i stubbornly persist at work that a lot of people view as superfluous. In this society, those truths alone can cause ostracism.

Internally, divorce and the long loneliness created a cauldron for this invisibility to simmer.  i long ago lost count of how many business events and classes i hosted, for which people had registered in advance, to which no one showed up. Several learned individuals have told me it is because of my location, just far enough for the scale between the bother of going and the desire to go to tip in an unfavorable direction. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just apply to business, i have had one set of guests cancel dinner parties at my house, absolutely certain that without their presence i would have nothing to offer my other friends, but forgetting to inform me, leaving me stood up with piles of food. i still cannot eat spaghetti sauce without feeling totally irrelevant to the universe. i have been told with blessed bluntness, that even though i am great friend material, i am not worth the investment of time required for the woman i had laughing a few seconds ago to make me a friend.

This has been an ongoing struggle.  For whatever reason, i must have one of those faces, or a particular energy, or a gentle enough nature that good people have no problem telling me that the trouble of getting to me or keeping in contact with me is enough to keep them from doing it, as though there will be no hurt in that statement, as though i will always understand.

And often i do. Lord knows, i understand demands on a person’s time. This broken unit is a sole proprietor.  Even though my health and the business are not going well, it does not mean that the obligations have ceased. In fact, this past year, i shamefully let down one of my own friends, because i lacked the energy and ability to help as i would have liked.  By the time i was done with my working day, i had nothing left to give to anyone.  As i drowned in the demands placed upon me, i could not take on anything else.  So, i cannot look at the absence of others without compassion. At last i am old enough to realize that the vast majority of this story isn’t actually about me at all, but about those who are not here.  They are weaving other tales built on duty and desire, right now, as i type, and how can i blame them? After all, this silent isolation did not break me.

i work very hard on my art – especially during days like today when no one shows up.  Even though i was physically miserable, i still wrote and poemed my way through the morning before settling down for an hour and a half of meditation.  Also, i accept my spirit needs quiet, even at inconvenient times.  Without some silence and isolation, i would not be still enough to get half the art done, nor would i be practiced enough at entering the flow to be able to do it when i gallery sit or wait in a restaurant.

conversation5
at Art Space Gallery in Rockland, Maine

Moreover, it has helped me realize what an a amazing gift love and affection and help are.  Perhaps because i do often feel unmoored and isolated, when a rope is thrown to me, i grab it with all my might.  Because i have such a hard time believing people when they say they care, but act in ways that make no sense to me, i cling to the moments – the proofs – that relationships actually do have salvational power.  i remember the times when i was at the end of my rope and i got a phone call, or a hug, or really any of a wide array of gifts that might have seemed utterly insignificant to the person giving them, but that kept me going into another day.

As one of those good and true friends said to me the other day, she doesn’t worry about me so much because i am so damned stubborn.  That would help me get through, she smiled, and i don’t know that she’s wrong. i live by myself well.  The fiction and poetry that i write, the faces i draw, they fill up my life even when i am running low on real human contact.  Moreover, this perverse steadfastness to my art and my life gives me a strange, compassionate confidence when i am confronted by cruelty, intended or otherwise. The people who come to me, asserting that they know what i need to do, even when they are so deeply offended that i cannot or will not take their advice, become sources of gratitude because at least they somehow saw the invisible one.  They cared enough to form an opinion. Those who tell me that i have no reason to live, that i am a failure, that hurl judgment at me and expect me to die from it become characters in books.  The many who compliment me in the moment, talking about my work or my character in glowing ways, but then never reach out again, well i can take that praise at face value and then, in the silence their absence creates, i can throw myself into my art.

That is in fact what i have done today.  The story was changed subtly. In this precise instant, i cannot get rid of the financial insecurity, or improve my befuddled, awkward attempts to get my work seen by more people, or relieve the generalized anxiety about rehabbing from shoulder surgery alone in the house, but i can say that today’s solitude brought about good poems, more work on a novel, a long spell of time when i was quiet and still and filled with peace.

Most of all, i am changed by gratitude.  By the realization that none of us are guaranteed love or kindness or support.  Those gifts, when given freely and without obligation, are nothing short of a miracle, given from human hands.  Yesterday, i received such a gift from the friend who helped me get ready for this event.  i spent a lot of time this morning remembering her effort as well as the abundance of kindness that has showered down upon me during the last six months, while everything else went wrong.  i cannot have received such amazing blessings and be invisible; the two concepts are mutually exclusive.  Thus, the story alters even further.

True friends, and i have a gloriously high number of true friends that have found me in this life, have become cherished in ways i wonder if they ever comprehend.  So my story becomes one of thanksgivings, on my knees, for those who are not here but who love me nonetheless.

getting through alone

i keep wishing
i were not alone,
or that i had the confidence
to make it through
on my own.

This wretchedness
makes me feel
like a fool.

After all,
it is hard
to maintain
what little dignity
i have left
bare-assed
in a hospital gown.

But the reality is:
i am surviving.

When i had to seek help,
i did.

Perhaps i move through
this experience
without grace.
Doubtless,
i am a mess of sweat
and frustration.
Certainly,
i experience my share
of thrashing,
near drowning
panic,
and the diarrhea
of complaint
leaks
from my lips.

Yet, i am still here.

Somehow,
i have endured
the most dangerous
despair
and i have learned
to make do
with what is
in this moment.

Full of fear and confusion,
with the world spinning
awkwardly,
with a gorilla on my chest
hampering
my heart and lungs,
i am managing.

Each breath comes,
albeit through pain.

My heart is still beating –
tests have proved it –
and i have done this.
i have managed,
while i feel forsaken.
Oh, but, i know,
truly,
i am not alone.

I have had the help
of God
and friends,
and whatever crazy spirit
i have within me
that refuses to surrender
without a fight –
no matter how many nights
lonely and broken,
i find myself praying
for death.

6 august 2015

poetry: Roo

IMG_0035She sobs from loneliness,
her whole world upended
by the absence of the one she loves.
With each whistle, moan and bark,
i realize more fully:
i have been her.
Intelligence does nothing
to mitigate the sorrow
that can cling to solitude.
When the heart is focused,
demanding that one person,
beating in an echoing chamber,
an endless loop of need –
all one can do is howl.

written 1/16/2015

poem: you wanted me alone

The first draft of this was written over a year ago, but how it still applies:

#

He said You wanted me alone.
Childless.
Miserable.

My love for him
flowed deeper than the ocean,
despite the pain of ending,
as he swore that it was impossible
for anyone to love me –
particularly You,
my Lord, my God.

Every single day,
those words float through my mind.
i cross the foot of the stairs
at the peak of which those statements
were first uttered,
and they float back down to me,
echoing ghosts of heartbreak.

No anger accompanies them,
no outrage,
just a quiet wretchedness.
It is hard to challenge
those damnations
while i have been trapped
in this long loneliness.

Every time i have allowed
my heart to rise up in the hope
that love might find me again,
the object of my desire has asked
for my bank account numbers
or hurt me.

Jesus, You have given me words,
You have given me art,
but in the depths of night
when i am alone,
i am aware that the products
of my hands
cannot hug me back.

When he said those things, Christ,
he believed them.
His attitude became proof
that i was utterly unloved.

How much of my begging,
Lord,
has been because of this grief?
Your love had gotten me through
so much trouble and trial
from the earliest days of childhood.

Losing that undid me.

In the years since,
how many times have i come
on bended knee,
begging for you to love me again?

When will this doubt
that i never harbored before
he said those things
ebb away?

When will they stop following me
through my days?

Poem: talking about broken hearts

As we talk about broken hearts,
she manages a feat
no one else has:
to diagnose a reason
for my suffering.

She says
i am without guile.

The problem is my personality –
it intimidates.

She insists
i walk through the world
utterly without camouflage,
my need naked to all –
and that such openness
makes people run away.

Yet, it is also the wellspring
from which art comes.

She knows this
because she suffers
from the same intensity.
It might be why
we do the same work.
Definitely, it is why
she has surrendered
the search
for any love
but that of friendship.

All i know
right now,
for myself,
as her words wash over me,
is that i ooze loneliness.

i would give so much
to find comfort
in the arms of the one
i love –
God, how i mourn his absence –
particularly at this moment
when my purpose,
the meaning
that usually drives
my life,
has been letting me starve.

She sells her art.

A month ago,
that would have seemed
like a challenge,
an encouragement,
confirmation that it is possible,
a message
that i must find a way
to sell my own.

Only drenched in today’s exhaustion,
i cannot stir myself into hope.

Perhaps she is right,
and i am without guile.
For i cannot avoid or deny
my unguarded need
and excruciating grief,
they are etched on my face,
scrawled all over my work,
and shout out their existence
through every movement
of my limbs.

Even my usual habit
of prayer has halted,
for i lack the heart to ask
and receive silence
or condemnation.

If only my exhibitionism
of spirit and emotion
had some benefit –
but this nudity seems gratuitous.
It leaves me so very weary
that i cannot decide where to go –
and now,
i have even
run out of words
for this poem.

2014

poem: like a puppy

Like a puppy,
only not as cute,
i brim with enthusiasm
at the hint of connection.
i become positively ecstatic
at the whiff of kindness.
Tease me with love
and i might grow grateful enough
to lose consciousness.
Which, predictably,
renders me into something
monstrous and unloveable.
i care almost instantly.
i love foolishly and quickly,
without being able to stop.
The emptiness in my life,
filled by friends and family
in those who are normal,
makes every relationship
a blessing –
and no one wants
that kind of pressure.
My thankful happiness
seems suspicious.
i will remember the stories
told by acquaintances,
which has made many
turn away
ashamed and worried
for they don’t remember
ever meeting me.
If they can tolerate my presence
long enough for me
to fall into need,
then they turn away
objecting to the illogic
and imposition
of my grief.
More than once,
i have been gently informed
that the intensity of my energy
repulses.
Apparently, i should remove my soul
and replace it with a dimmer bulb
in order to be loved.
No longer an innocent
or an ingenue,
repetition has taught me well:
i can no longer muster
blind confidence
that this isn’t about me.
The truth appears undeniable –
i am the ugly, unwanted dog
without a home,
relying on the fleeting kindness
of polite strangers
to keep her alive.

poem: loneliness

My Lord, my God
i keep praying.
All of my prayers
have been selfish,
for my heart
and the one she desires.
Oh, my Lord,
how have i managed
when i do so badly alone?
What right do i have
to pray for companionship
with such fervor,
when i have a calling?
But, my Lord, my Christ,
i have no idea
how to walk through this world
alone
and not have my art suffer.

poem: dinner guest

My Lord, my God, my Christ
if you sat here
with me
at this table,
i would bring
such gratitude to you –
shower you with food,
drink,
as much laughter
as is possible.

i anthropomorphize,
i know,
but i cannot help it.

i am lonely
on this day
when my hard work
has finally come to fruition.

A tremendous fear
had surrounded moving forward;
the conviction that the life i chose
might be beyond my abilities
had to be beaten back.
Even now,
i feel a stirring with me,
almost like a post-coital funk.
My heart remains heavy
with potential doom.

You have given me
with innumerable blessings,
so that i am left staggered
and wild-eyed with awe.

Only, i feel ungrateful.

Tonight of all nights,
i would have loved
an embrace, a kiss.
Fiercely, i crave
a sense of connection
found only in two places
during this life:
the arms of a lover
and communion with you.

The latter will only be found
by your grace –
i have surrendered such things to your care.

So, i sit here,
drinking and eating
alone,
thinking of you
as my dinner partner –
wishing you were here
in a form tangible enough
to say “good job.”

23 september 2013