The Missing Ingredient

I finally found the ingredient that was missing in all my previous relationships: forgiveness.

Besides the fact that I repeatedly dated needy, jealous, dramatic, alcoholic, narcissistic, energy vampire, borderline personality disorder types, my relationships failed because I failed to forgive.

My marriage is infinitely sweeter now that I am no longer clinging bitterly to expectations and resenting my partner when he falls short, no matter how reasonable my requests seem to me.

I give myself and my partner permission to mess up endlessly; to selfishly waste time and money and to be forgiven even for our own inability to forgive.

Newly armed with this panacea to soothe any interpersonal wound, my ex-boyfriends don’t seem sinister after all, but simply in need of forgiveness.

The floodgates of my heart swing wide open and I feel pure love wash our transgressions clean.

When I get lost in the humanness of my life, may I return home to a heart connected to the Divine.

May I be both forgiven and forgiver.

I finally hear you, sacred silence.

Marriage

Behind the curtain of marriage I treasure the single men I know, each one a potential gem who would surely treat me better than my husband does.

I imagine how they would listen to me as we engage in stimulating conversations over a meal they provided, how respectful and grateful they would act, how passionate as lovers, how giving and attentive.

I fantasize about men who balance their check books and clean up after themselves, men who are calm and communicate maturely, who do the damn dishes, who save money or at least spend it on their family, who let go of past hurts, evolve and hold space for me to do the same.

I try to make myself at home within the sound-proof confines of my marriage, though the walls threaten to close in and crush me; both execution device and tomb.

Within the secret tortures of my marriage, my husband and I fight fervently leading up to the moment that we arrive out our friends’ houses, quickly plastering smiles on our faces as we ring the doorbell.

My veins are scalded by resentment for all the ways my husband takes miles without giving an inch.

I scan the horizon for a silver lining, a way to improve my situation: so far marriage counseling, life coaching and me doing the work on myself have all fallen short.

Yet deep below the cracks in our relationship, I sense a fertile humus.

We share more than our sordid history together; we make a home and a family.

We are united in our love for our baby, though we often disagree bitterly on how to raise her.

We share a commitment to our life together and a vision of our future, though we put different amounts of effort and resources towards both: in our relationship, I do all the earning and handle all the responsibilities for our household.

He drags down my energy and my finances, invoking a slow and destitute death.

Perhaps I’m not in a position to judge him: maybe he is the better one and I am the bitter one.

For now, I remain hidden behind the curtain of marriage, bound to my husband and yet alone.

Irony

I usually doubt that I am using the term ‘ironic’ accurately, but I marvel at the irony of the humbling relationship between my uterus and the universe.

I thought my fertility was abundant until I aborted a pregnancy and have been unable to conceive subsequently.

I ended the pregnancy for many reasons, partly because I thought my resources were too scarce, and now I am spending mad cash buying baby shower gifts for friends.

It was easy to end a pregnancy that made me gravely ill, though maybe I would have felt better if I had hung on for a few more weeks.

As a medical resident, I thought my time was too limited to have a baby, and now I am working overtime because my female colleagues had theirs. My employer’s policy for maternity leave started one month before I would have been due, but who knew. Perhaps I take my job too seriously, even for a physician.

My uterus is dark and malleable and filled with iron-rich blood. My thoughts are bitter and molten as I reflect on the irony that the exact thing which I tried to avoid imposing on others- disrupting their work schedule- is precisely what has been inflicted on me.

I terminated my pregnancy partly because I wasn’t married at the time, then when I got married a year later my family refused to acknowledge my wedding anyway.

The lesson to not let anxiety run my life is hard won. I am anxiety incarnate, but I am more than that. Had I not let worries about time, money, or what my co-workers and family would think of me dictate my actions, maybe I’d have a child now.

I’d probably make the same decision again, but the taste of iron is strong.

Good

I no longer strive to be labeled as ‘good’ by others

Like a trained fucking dog

I don’t want to act sweet
When I feel salty and bitter
I never wanted to fit into a box
Or stay between the lines
I don’t even belong indoors
I am a wild, free woman
If that means I’m not the angel you thought I was
Then light up the fire and brimstone
Too long have I carried the burden of trying to save the world while looking cute and put-together
Always satisfying other’s needs like plugging holes in a dam and I’m about to burst
I tremble and ache to let go of the many ropes which bind me
So many roles to play and expectations to meet
No wonder I have no time or energy left for me
I am the only person I can save, and my liberation doesn’t require fake smiles or insincere social pleasantries
To live my best life
I must aspire to be more than simply good
I must liberate myself from the ribbon I am wrapped up in
Rip off the docile doll’s dress and burn it,
Warming my hands and illuminating my night
I must feel my body and ride the waves of my emotions with shuddering ecstasy
You want me to be good
But I want to be better

Sleep Talking

Long ago and far away
On a bus grinding through the night
The air thick with sweat and grime
All we had was time
Beer and ice cream on my lips
Bitterness and liquor on his
The man next to me said that I was afraid of talking in my sleep
He overstepped the boundary that I failed to establish between us
Sometimes when I wake up alone, I wonder if my lover heard me sleep-talking and left me to wallow in my past
I want to tell him the truth about my life, but I fear that he would stop loving me,
or worse- rehash it endless times and tell his religious family who would judge me as a hell-bound, lying, baby-killing whore
They’d be right, in a sense
I have exchanged sex for money and I’ve had 3 abortions, each one horrible in its own way, but not as bad as being stuck in an abusive, disempowering situation
Judge not, motherfuckers
I don’t want any man to judge the decisions I’ve made about my body
Least of all a man who is financially dependent on my career: a profession which swallowed my fetuses whole
My past is nobody’s business but my own
I don’t want to be given a hard time for the hard times I’ve already been through
I’m trying to heal and move on
I’m trying to meet myself with compassion for the trauma I’ve endured
I am strong and tough and vulnerable and delicate
My dark secrets are at once more innocent and scandalous than my jealous partners imagine
I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore so I stopped being pregnant
You weren’t supporting me by being broke and leaving me shamefully unmarried
I didn’t want to spend the weekend with you so I didn’t
I regret the weekend away because the other men treated me both better and worse than you, but I love you- painfully clear now that the hormonal storm of pregnancy has simmered down
Why do I set myself up for drama and disaster? I’m trying to heal but your rehashing of the past dredges up emotional detritus, dragging me back
My old stress addiction dies hard
I clamp my jaw
My teeth grind like a bus in the night
I pray that I didn’t sleep talk last night

Pretty Poison

Pastel petals bloom

Through the display case we swoon

Crystalline icing swirl

Dazzling eyes of boys and girls

Powdered sugar snow

Melting in our mouths is all we know

We are blind to our impending blindness

Wrapped up in celebration and intended kindness

Bakery boxes tied up with string

Filled with treats- our favorite things

Warm flaky crust seems like a must

We willingly plunge our teeth into hidden filling

We don’t foresee that we’d better wake up soon

From our creamy dreams, spoon after spoon

Digging our graves, one gulp at a time

Swallowing pretty poison, spending our dimes

Our wallets grow thin as our bodies grow fat

Sugar causes illness, what do you think of that?

Our organs try to keep up, but our pancreas can only take so much

Diabetes sets our body on fire

In a burning house, tragedies transpire

Our vision fades, our kidneys fail

Our heart cries out, do we hear the wail?

Our arteries harden as our muscles soften

Bite by bite, we build our coffin

Our brain is addicted, our mind turns bitter

With rotting flesh, we lose toes and fingers

An ugly site and a sour smell

Only we can liberate ourselves from this hell

It isn’t pretty and it isn’t sweet

Let’s eat real food and keep our feet

Alice in Recoveryland

Alice had her heart broken

When she was quite small
And healing a broken heart
Isn’t easy at all
So she drank
To forget it all
But she couldn’t forget,
Even when she felt tall
In fact, the more she drank
The more she felt like she was falling
And falling…
Until- kerplunk!
She hit rock bottom, landed on her badunk
She had no where to go but up
But getting up is hard when you are on your badunk
Though Alice was hurting, she was also incredibly strong
So she climbed and she climbed, though her journey was long
To this day, she is climbing still
She is higher than she ever felt when she was looking out over windowsills
In towers guarded by grumpy ogreish men
Alice is a survivor, and she’d survive it all again
Her heart may have been broken,
But it never stopped beating
Though the sweetness of love was fleeting
And the bitter years of sadness and tears
Left a sting on her cheek and made her feel meek
She is finding her true voice
She is exercising her choice
To express herself in this world
Hers is the story of one small girl
Who grew into womanhood
The only way she could
Smoking this, drinking that
Sleeping with men wearing mad hats
Alice is every woman, in a way
Doing her best to recover from her past today
Building herself a better future
Re-writing her fairy tale
After giving so many men happy endings
She is creating a happy ending for herself
Filled with love, hope, and peace

Emergency Room

Emerging from the emergency room, gasping to find my breath, I weep.

I finished my last shift in that hell-hole, and I thought I would cry tears of joy, but instead I am crying tears of raw emotional release.
My patients called me an angel, but many of them were also angels to me- holding my spirit buoyantly with their sparkling eyes, a much-needed balance to my co-workers who seemed mostly dead inside.
Crushed inside the machine
Their eyes see only the screen
Their skin knows no fresh air or sunlight
As they toil day and night
In a crowded, chaotic space filled with alarms
Long ago, they replaced their charms
With rigid motions, mechanical minds
Without windows, they don’t notice the passage of time
When did they become so cold and bitter?
It must have been little by little
The fire in their hearts was starved of oxygen, their spirits wore away
I hope I keep my heartspirit intact, at the end of the day
Flashback to a line of gurneys in the ambulance bay
My attending grilling me, I didn’t know what to say
Broken bones and chronic pain
STAT CT to look for a bleed in the brain
Patients sustained on turkey sandwiches and diet ginger-ale
We wait on them, they wait for us, but we are all stuck in this jail
Trapped in a health care system which is systematically inhumane
No wonder so many of us don’t feel quite sane
My vision is blurred by tears
I’ve finished one more day in the middle of many hard years
Of sacrificing my life, enduring unfathomable strife
Just to help others survive another night
I want to get off this roller coaster, but I’m strapped in
Though I am sick to my stomach and deafened by the din
I return to my breath, breathe in new air
I have the rest of my life to move on towards
Tomorrow night, I’ll be back in the wards
With renewed gratitude, I leave this emergency beast
I walk past patients waiting to suckle the mechanical teat
Finally allowing room for my own emergency
My meltdown of tears isn’t enough to drown out the blaze
Which burnt me out long before today
I struggle to justify
Why I put myself in situations that make me cry

Wild Thing

I do things that I know I shouldn’t

I do the impossible, people said I couldn’t

I do wild things, you thought I wouldn’t

But I did and I do

I’m gonna keep on living how I see fit for me, not you

Your discontent has nothing to do with me

So don’t cry to me that I aborted the pregnancy

If you’d been half a man worth half a damn

Maybe I would’ve reconsidered

But you made it easy

I’m a wild thing

My body is mine and mine alone to keep

I am not an extension of you, you goddamn creep

Now you know, I don’t play when you mess with me

I’m wild and I’m going to stay that way

I won’t be the victim of your domestic abuse

I’ve already ridden that train and I know it goes right to Insaneland

You can stay there, I’ve hitchhiked elsewhere

I’m a wild thing

You are not allowed in my organic garden of Eden

You are too bitter to taste the sweetness my fruit