Something like Love

My father gave me something like love except for the swearing and shaming. At least he always worked to support the family, though his money was perpetually scarce.

My mother gave me something like love except for the long stretches of neglect punctuated by outbursts of rage. At least she always cleaned the house, or taught me to do so.

My sisters gave me something like love until they felt insecure, which always happened sooner rather than later. I learned to hide myself in plain sight to let them take the limelight.

My partner gave me something like love except for how he acts with complete disregard for our family’s wellbeing, spending his time and money on whims to stroke his male ego instead of our necessities, but at least he doesn’t beat or cheat on me.

Perhaps the currency of love is like that: always a bit dirty, even if the faults are invisible to the eye.

Maybe I’m blind to the ways that my own love falls short, and those closest to me can hold up that sacred mirror if I am brave enough to look.

I’m sure I’d be horrified to see my own shortcomings magnified in front of me. But underneath my humanly errors, I’d also see the pure intentions of my soul, which probably look something like love.

Safe

Why are you hurting still?

Do you feel ill?

Why are you a bleeding heart when you could be a beating heart, and dancing

Why do we clutch our pain so tightly it dominates our brain

Why are you hurting so

You are loved more than you’ll ever know

Feel supported and safe

I’m here, you’re ok

You see everything as a knife pointed at you

A threat to your life

I should know, I’ve been pulled by that undertow

Feel the earth below your feet, stand tall and listen to me

You don’t have to feel bad, you are allowed to feel glad

You don’t have to build walls

It’s a long way up for you to fall

There is love all around you

If only you knew

How can I express ultimate truth to you, except through song

Grandma

Your bones were a home to his hate

Pushing the limit of how much pain one body could hold

Stoic, we didn’t know

Did your bones creak under the weight of his blows?

Did your spirit waver?

You talked to yourself in rushed whispers nobody heard

Did you speak your truth?

Your body didn’t break despite the violence

He had a rigid mind and brittle bones

In his attempts to use force, you proved yourself stronger

You endured decades of untold abuse

Did you know that you didn’t have to suffer alone?

In putting the family first, did you forget that you are the family?

When he died, did you cry?

When his death finally freed you, did you feel safe in your skin?

Did the prison bars of his arms penetrate your mind?

Nearly a century old, you are still alive and well

I won’t ask you to share your trauma

You won’t ask me to share mine

Our bones are strong

Soar

This body is my prison

Everybody has a body
Everybody is somebody’s son or daughter or both
Everybody is somebody
I’m tired of trying to be somebody and failing and flailing
When I could shed the skin I’m in
Crack open my ribcage and fly free
I’d let go of my eyes that once gazed into yours and kiss goodbye my lips that once kissed yours
I’d let go of my strength and my softness, my curves and my curls
I’d give up my form, vanities and imperfections
I’ve flirted with suicide my whole life
And spoken of it to no one except the one who pulled it off
I heard his rib cage crack open on the concrete below our college dorm
I understood
Afterward, we sad survivors put on a show- a tragedy!
But he just did what he wanted to
What many of us want to
Those who want to be free from their body know
The temptation to empty the lead from their pockets
And soar

Swallowing Fire

My unspoken sadness and madness

Burn like hot coal in my throat
My sore neck holds the tension of another night’s nightmares
Running from persecutors with unknown motives
Even in my waking life, I don’t know why some people get so mad at me
How tempting to cut them off like a gangrenous limb
I hesitate when my persecutors are my family
Stubborn old fashioned tradition of gritty endurance
Ancient dynamics, drama on loop
My sister, abusive and oppressive
My parents either didn’t notice or didn’t care
I used to want to be saved, wanted my parents to protect me, to show my sister that I mattered. That will never happen because it hasn’t happened yet
My rescuing is entirely my responsibility
We are grown as hell
I notice and care about the years of mistreatment and terror
I will protect myself
Though I’m not sure how
Though my throat is scalded with all the fire I’ve swallowed
Fire I’m getting ready spit when I tell you what you are

Vanish

You struggle to breathe

Your lungs groan under the weight of a million cigarettes
Your body will not heal, nor will you allow it to
You prefer to smoke tobacco than to breathe, you tell me
Your liver is hardened
Fluid builds up in your legs, abdomen and lungs
You bleed into your GI tract
Again and again
Requiring dozens of blood transfusions
Until when?
You prefer to drink than to live, you tell me
Your blood harbors viruses and bacteria
Years of IV drug abuse riddle your veins
My eyes draw lines between the scars on your skin
And spell out your pain
Your body is massively obese
You’ve had just desserts
Your blood is dangerously sweet
The food on the menu is not nourishing
With vibrant foods, we could all be flourishing
Instead we are toxic
Now you’re turning hypoxic
Your own body gets in the way of breathing
Rather than a vehicle, your body is your handicap
Too much mass to move
Stumbling, you tumble into my view
Bullet wounds have torn right through you
Senseless violence, what kind of freedom is this?
We reserve the right to die at the hands of another at any time
I want to take all the suffering I see
Concentrate that energy inside me
And use it to wipe away cigarettes and liquor stores,
Smash opioids off the face of the planet, and while I’m at it
Take my magic wand and with a swish banish sugar from our lips
Eliminate weapons with one wish
I’ll water that seed of hope with the tears of those who know, so it will grow
And we shall be sheltered in our old age by the tree planted in our youth
We’ve suffered enough to learn how to thrive in our world- at least we’ve discovered what not to do.
I have a dream that tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, processed foods, and guns will vanish.
I realize that this is unlikely to happen for a while, as there are profits to be made and suffering to be had.
Taking into account the billions of healthcare dollars it costs to deal with lung disease, liver disease, drug addiction, diabetes and gun violence, let alone the immeasurable cost of lost lives and poor health, how can we afford to carry on the way we have been?
If a substance is harmful, let it vanish.
Why hold on to that which is no longer serving us?
We can do anything with our infinite human potential.
We alone can change our lives and leave the world better than we found it.
Let’s do what we can before we vanish
Do something today
There is no guide book
Vote with your dollars, your actions, your thoughts
Breathing in gratitude, I thank you

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

Labels

Labels

I was labeled cute

I was labeled sweet

I was labeled shy

My anxiety and depression went unrecognized, intentionally overlooked by those with the power to help me when I was a child. My social anxiety drove me to act as anyone but myself.

My parents had not accepted and confronted their own anxiety and depression, and they trained me to follow their approach to life: suppress your feelings, be only what others want you to be.

I was labeled smart.

I was labeled hard working.

I was responsible.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I took responsibility for everyone else’s feelings. I took care of other children when I was still a child myself.

I was labeled a slut and a tramp by teenage girls.

I was labeled a tease by teenage boys.

I didn’t know how to say no, I didn’t know how to not lose myself in the desires of others.

Sometimes I was glad for the non-verbal language of physical affection, although I was just as incompetent at saying ‘no’ physically as I was verbally.

I was labeled an escort, a call girl, though I was just trying to make ends meet, girl.

I was labeled a graduate, with latin honors.

Though I worked as a prostitute, survived unnumbered abusive relationships, including the abusive relationship with myself, now they call me doctor.

What my patients don’t know is how much I’m still learning everyday- learning how to take care of myself as I ask them to take care of themselves.

In my daily practice of being my best self, I practice un-labeling through non-judgement.

Labels limit our minds.

Labels snap a stagnant picture from the moving scene, robbing us of the limitless possibilities of the present.

Poetry

Poetry won’t stop leaking out of me
My hands get a tingle
My mind sings a jingle
I search for paper on which to scratch
Anything within reach
Backs of receipts, napkins, old scraps
All other activity falls to the wayside
Until I see the poem before my eyes

I write about the unspoken suffering of my life
Of being brutally silenced
Since infancy I was trained not to cry when I wanted to cry
My feelings were an inconvenience to those by my side
I came to understand that my needs were not important enough to be expressed, and if I made the mistake of even showing how I felt through my face or my body, such truth was beaten out of me by those closest to me
Far worse than the violence was the mental abuse
and even worse than the mental abuse was the neglect
Sometimes I felt invisible and other times I felt like I wasn’t invisible enough
I wished that I could fly away
The shouting was so loud, where could I hide?
I locked my door but they always burst inside
No boundaries
I cried in secret silence everyday
I learned that I existed to be what others wanted me to be
I delivered what was required
Though inside me raged a fire
The primordial desire
To be free
I’d give anything to live just for me

When I became grown, I left home
But my well-trained brain followed me wherever I roamed
Autonomy is foreign to me
I met many lovers but they always chose me
Because I pleased them easily
I never returned the favor
Of serving up the criticism they so abundantly showered upon me

Joyfully, I recently discovered that the suffering of my life has a name;                                                            Narcissistic Abuse
There are healthier ways to love, ladies and gentlemen
I want more harmony and less harm done to me
I am trying to create a life that I want to live,
One where I give from my heart instead of feeling like a marionette jerked around by the malicious hands of fear

I want to tell others how I feel and what I am thinking
Speak from my heart
Release my throat chakra
Weave a tapestry with the golden thread of my truth
Relentlessly I work at this nearly impossible task
Like a seed below the soil, the only place I have to grow is toward the sun
But healing my mind feels like building a castle on quicksand
My efforts collapse, fall and fail every day

I must remember to give myself compassion, the way I try to give my abusers compassion
I have succeeded before in speaking my mind
With every break-up, no matter how clumsy my wording or how long it took me to work up the courage
I want to tell my exes that when I hurt them by finally breaking up with them, it was because I was trying to reclaim my life and honor both of us
God, have I suffered at the hands of men
When they hurt me, it was because they were trying to get a rise out of me, or hurt me out of spite
I want to tell them: Get a life, you jerks

May they stop terrorizing me and find inner peace swiftly

I feel awful about the things I’ve done that I didn’t want to do
Especially the things I’ve done with men
The sex was violent, violating, painful and humiliating
If only I could forget it, but even my body remembers
I think I will always see men as perpetrators, even though not all of them are
An overwhelming amount of the ones I’ve known are
I struggle to shake them off me when they’re ready to rape me yet they’re nowhere to be found when I’m ready to abort our unplanned pregnancies
That excruciating physical and emotional pain is just for me

The bloody landscape of no man’s land

I understand that as an adult survivor of child abuse, I attract abusers
I’m developing a repellant
By noticing patterns and breaking them
Prevent problems before they start
The best defense is a good offense

I still worry
Worry that my heart will always feel broken
Worry that the countless times I was raped will catch up with me in the form of STDs or infertility
I worry that I will always live in fear
I worry that I will always worry
I worry that I will feel sad and mad all my life
I worry that I will continue to suffer though I shouldn’t worry about that because suffering is guaranteed and worrying will do no good
Life is pain
That’s the rule of the game
I can still win the game of life even though I was born with disadvantages, for my advantages are greater still
I have hope and heart
I’m writing a happy ending to my story
I am writing with a golden pen of glory
I am writing unstoppable poetry
Until victory, always

Thank you.

Rain Dance

I see gray sky outside my window
Heavy on my eyes and in my heart
I want to stay hidden away
Don’t want to get rained on today
Stubbornly, the world outside waits for me

I can’t stay inside forever
I can’t avoid the ever-changing weather
After futile resistance, I accept that I will get wet
As I have countless times before, even when I felt like I was drowning, I will have nothing else to do but breathe through it
Until I breathe myself dry

There are tears yet to cry
I will get wet again
And it is ok to get wet
It is ok to remind myself that it is ok to get wet
Water is life

Every day I am thrown into the river
Swirled and tumbled against rocks
Yet I survive
And come out of it better yet

Afraid as I am of getting wet, I’ve gotten wet many times before,
Downright drenched
Soaked to the bone and far from home
Yet I was all right
I’ve made it through even the stormiest of nights
Inside me burns an eternal light
I have nothing to fear
The rain of life only brings personal transformation near
I am grateful for inner growth, painful as it can be
I am grateful for the rich soil beneath me
Formed from the detritus of my life’s trauma
From which I burst forth, a green herb
Holding infinite potential
I am earth and rain and sunlight transformed
I am young and sweet and nourishing
I am life

I see the gray clouds outside my window
And know that beyond them, the sun is shining through the brilliant blue
I see the gray day
And rise to meet it
Welcoming all that comes my way
So go ahead, rain down on me
I can handle even hail, snow and sleet
I’m keeping the faith
For my mind is learning all the time
That I can dance anywhere
Today my dance beckons the heavy clouds
Let it rain