Tag: support

the year of friendship

This is the time for reflection, i suppose, a cultural urge to look back on the past year and mull over the good and bad as we try to discipline ourselves into smaller sizes and better behavior.

For once, i have no inclination to do any of that nostalgic reminiscing or self improvement. The past year was what it was, things happened both good and bad, and i am oddly at peace with it all – every moment my heart was broken and all the times hope returned. As for right now, i am keenly aware that i am doing all i can to make my situation better – no resolutions needed.

There was one remarkable aspect about the past twelve months, though, that is worth commenting on. This was the year of friendship. All illusions i harbored about being alone, about being isolated, about being someone who could just disappear from this world without anyone noticing were vanquished in a flood of help and love. i do not think i would have survived without this outpouring. Truly, though, it did more than just get me through one day and into the next, this experience transformed me.

And, i could not be more grateful.

Thankful for friends

The past few days have been trying, brimming with more chaos and disappointment than I can easily absorb.  Yet, no fewer than three times, I have wept in gratitude: responding to these difficulties, the universe has stepped up to make my journey better through the timely and wonderful intervention of friends.

danceunderthemoonSometimes, I get caught up in my suffering enough that I forget the wondrous blessing that friendship is.  People who have no duty or obligation to you choose to spend their time talking with you.  When you reach out, they help. They go out of their way to make you part of their life.   How glorious is that?  Really, right now, it feels like the most poignant miracle.

Where would we be without those who reach out a hand to drag us out of the muck?

I will save the narrative of this sequence of difficulties for later blogs.  Lord knows, I can complain later.  I have the skills.

For right now, though, I want to thank those who have called, helped me with the heavy lifting, listened to me whine on the phone or in person, given me advice, shared rather existential conversations with me when the small discouragements lead to ponderous ponderings, and just generally let me be in a close orbit to them for a spell.  Both last summer and this, I have realized that I have more people on whom I can count than I ever knew.  In fact, I think I would have gotten more cause to be grateful if I had not missed a couple of phone calls yesterday from friends down in Virginia while I was selling art at a cooperative up here in Maine.

Make no mistake: my life is possible because of friendship.  These good friends have reminded me that no matter how lonely I get, I am not actually walking this path alone.  I am thankful.

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: