I keep my worries bound in a carefully tied knot, held in place to my everyday obligations. I want to be free of concern–to get a break from doubting that I will eventually get what I need. Because honestly, I recognize that plenty of people go without. There are an innumerable amount of people who have nothing. People who regardless, always find a way to be happy. People who stand up and decide to keep moving.
It is believed that the more you obtain, the less satisfied you will become. I remember the months and years when I had little of the material but still felt I had everything. I remember being jobless and nearly homeless with a 1.5 year old. How I lived in a 3 BR apartment with 4 other adults and slept in a shared bedroom on a twin sized bed with my daughter. I remember when my first brand new car was repossessed in the middle of the night with my daughter’s car seat & stroller in the trunk. I remember walking miles back and forth to the library to spend 30 minutes applying for jobs because I did not have access to a computer at home. Running 3 blocks to the bus stop with a toddler on my hip and 2 bags on my shoulder.
It was here I could have decided to give up and accept that life was going to keep throwing punches that I was never going to be able to dodge. I could have sat down in the mess I created and allowed failure to reign in my thoughts. I could have ignored the silent roar for better in my heart. But I continued to fight in spite of everything I thought I had lost.
I feel a familiar twinge of panic now because struggle has a history of infinitely repeating. We will not be free of trouble in this world and it is one of the few things that we are absolutely guaranteed. Now, instead of complaining that “life is not fair” or blaming others for my circumstances–I try to take full responsibility for the gains and the losses. I cannot blame other people for my failures or ignore the consequences when I make mistakes. I can however, opt to face my sorrows and behave with the utmost of integrity.
Right now, it feels like I am being pulled in opposing directions. I feel like everything I fought so hard for is in constant jeopardy. Truthfully, sometimes we have deal with the consequences of our past decisions for decades. Even if I learned my lesson the first time, I still have to make peace with the fact that I deviated from God’s perfect plan for my life.
The beautiful thing about messing up is that it does not mean that we are:
unable to fix our stuff.
It just means we have to fight harder, get stronger and remember to get back up.
Most of us exist for tiny moments of excitement–forever looking for the next thrill to write home about. I wish life was always this simple and we did not have to think about problems or troubles or figure out 5-year plans. But the truth is, an honest life is one of requirement. Everyday we must come to terms with the fact that our lives are not completely our own. We are responsible for other people–in the most benign to the most extreme of ways.
And nothing wakes one up faster than realizing that another person is counting on you.
I imagine taking this type of ownership to its highest peak. Because without sacrifice, we are incapable of offering anyone anything. Sometimes, the hardest part of my day is facing this blatant reminder in the form of an unrelenting alarm clock. It screams, “Wake Up!” when all I really want to do is sleep. The act of hitting snooze in this instance is probably one of the most selfish things.
When I was a child, I relied upon my parents to prepare me for every future event. From school and extracurricular activities to family special occasions; I was helpless without them. At times I found myself helpless as a result of them. Now that I am an adult, I remember the way I would rationalize their dysfunction on my life. I did not see drunkenness and disorder; it was unpredictable fun. My mother was not financially irresponsible and careless, she was spontaneous and carefree.
This is the lens I used to guard my innocence when what I really needed was protecting.
I dreamed of leaving my destructive nest and living a life of order and structure. I remember trying to fly on my own for the first time and it was then I learned that you cannot rush freedom. I thought maybe flapping my wings and kicking up dust would guarantee that no one could ever reach me. But the higher I flew, the more I lost sight of my calling and destiny. It took coming back down and sitting in the reality of all the hurt I experienced that finally gave me the courage to let it all go.
I could have chosen to cling to my past and perpetuate the cycle of pain, transferring the guilt I felt onto my offspring. I could have continued to run from my responsibilities. But I know I must live a life of intention.
And God intended for me to be free.
He leaned in the door frame with a shadow cast over his eyes from the hallway light. He looked down pensively as she stood in silence behind him. Neither wanted to be the first to walk away but both understood that something needed to change. Maybe if I was awake I would have understood the significance of this goodbye. Night fell over the home as children slept under the weight of adult decisions.
Decisions that would affect the rest of their lives.
I wish I was intuitive enough to accept change with grace but all I remember is his absence the next day. Perhaps no honest explanation could have made a difference. After all, when you do not get to choose you must learn to accept what is given to you. Every day people fall out of love, break up and move on to brand new families.
None of which eases the pain of this modern day tragedy.
Years later, tales of love hit me like bricks in the chest as I mused on the idea of happiness. My experience of happily ever after left nothing worth desiring in my imagination. It seems the older we get the less likely we are to compromise–or seek a winning balance for both sides in the relationship.
So much easier to promise forever when your heart has not been broken.
I want to believe that anything is possible. I want to hope without fear that happy endings exist–that second chances can make all the difference. Because what have you really accomplished by leaving the moment it gets hard? Every bad thing that has ever happened leads you closer to the person who deep down you are.
The fights, the lies and the ugliest of goodbyes
…all have the potential to save your life.
Artist: Henn Kim
I can still feel the imprint of your ring on my finger, reminding me I am not alone. There may be no more messages or pleasantries exchanged—but my thoughts never stray too far from you. I never thought I would have to mourn you, while you were still alive. But I remember the shock in your eyes flip from anger to surprise after I threw said ring in your face. Our final goodbye. How I knew it was over that night in November when you did not come home the 2nd time in a row.
I say little about such things, because emotions have a faulty memory. Extending mercy when absolutely necessary feels impossible when the absence of love kicks you in your gut. I would twist this ring–the symbol of your promise to me–and wonder just how long the truth had been postponed. There was this one time I cried all night, trying to reconcile the gaps in my punctured heart.
Praying that there would be new life after the one we built together fell apart.
Now you stand in front of me, ringing the doorbell to a house where you used to have a key. I count the amount of days that I have had to do this all on my own. In my dreams we are stronger than ever with a bond that is unbreakable. But dawn wakes me from my fantasy and it pains me to admit you are gone. Prayed for the day God would lead you back home.
I watch curiously as the expression on your face changes from nervous anticipation to quiet relief as I let the distance from the last 6 months close quickly between us.
Sometimes the fight does not begin until after we choose to give up.
There is something gorgeous and tragic about bearing witness to another person’s world crashing down. You feel invincible if they choose to let you in–to their pain and suffering. As if, you could be capable of some kind of beneficial help. For some, it is easier to go through life focusing on anything else but their selves. Telling other less aggressive people what they need to do.
I’ve got all this energy pent up. Crossed with a reluctance to check back in with an undesirable reality. I keep feeling like I can do a whole lot better. Maybe make faster decisions that will ultimately be positive for me. A lot of times we prefer to remain stuck–in our monotonous cycles and inconsistent dreams. Never fully fighting for a change in anything. But I always believed I would live my life differently.
If only I knew where to start.
Lately, I continue to grapple with the thought of what in particular makes me so special or indispensable? How do I redirect this perpetually misguided energy from the ghosts of bad decisions and reinvest them properly? I wonder, does growing up come from absorbing difficult losses? Do we accept pain with forced smiles on our wrinkled faces?
Am I finally realizing that I am too old to keep ignoring the necessity of pain?
This dark-eyed agent of misery has propelled me to great heights many times before. Yet, as soon as I begin losing momentum, I let myself forget just how much that growth cost. The current sticker price of this knowledge will force me to write off 2016 as a loss. There is no insight in the world worth all the damage I have caused.
I only act self-centered and uncaring because I have no other choice now but to move on.
ABSENT: Richard Shipley
The only thing worse than a woman you cannot tame is one you can never figure out.
Sometimes this is fun for men, a challenge if you may. You felt, you would eventually claim her and place her on your shelf of impossible things. Or perhaps, you tried to admire from a safe distance–and learned regretfully, that this would never be enough.
For a week now, I have been poisoning a man with the seductive nature of the alternate reality. Letting him desire and believe in a future with me. It took him a few days to realize that I would not hand myself over or play into his insecure games. But he continued to push against my resistance anyway.
I knew from the beginning I would fail every one of his tests, so I decided not to play. I was harsh and absentminded. Elusive and purposely vague. He decided this was normal and patted himself on the back for making it this far. If only he knew how much confusion he could have avoided by turning the other way when we met.
I suppose it is no longer about being truthful and honest even when it is hard.
I know I am not free to explore a new realm of possibilities. Chained to this unfinished business–that is impossible for me to forget so easily. I wait for the final ball to drop. Entertain this, proverbial sign I still hope exists. Spending half the morning analyzing notification messages.
Wondering, just how much worse can it really get.
Sometimes I want to stand outside in my backyard and scream at the sky. I know you aren’t listening, but this helps to release frustration when I feel I am going out of my mind. They say, suffer well once so you never have to suffer again. But I am a repeat offender. The more I experience, the more I become complacent. Could I literally pack up everything and take a trip to a destination where no one would dare to look? Only I would burn an entire house down because the phone is ringing off the hook. I ask myself why can’t I just answer it. What am I really afraid is on the other end of the call.
Maybe what I’m running from is buried deep underneath the ashes and rubble.
No matter where I go or who I drag along, this itch continues to beg to be scratched. For a long time I successfully ignore it. But then, instead of the hand or my arm or neck–my entire body trembles with the need to react. I am a lustful creature of shameful habits. Craving temporary pleasures that almost bring me to the perpetually elusive happy place. These are contradictory truths, exposing antagonistic behaviors that no one ever wants to admit they have.
The peak of my ambivalence is coming up fast and I know
from experience it is going to be bad.