Steel eyes

Why

don’t older people

express their despair

as much as young?

Do we numb ourselves so much?

Shame? A mask we don

to pretend we’re well

when everyone knows

ageing doesn’t bring respite

from demons.

It is the singular reason

aside chubby cheeks

I wish to be

16 again

for all the friends

who unknowing of pains

to come

had the tenderness

of a hundred, 40-year-olds

who have seen

and are

gone

into their

steel eyes.

It interests me to recall how much time a young person will give someone who is upset. There’s visible difference between what a young person will say and do, versus an older one, that I think has nothing to do with becoming more mature. Older people have little tolerance for depression. You would think, based on this, older people suffer it less, though we know this isn’t true. Is it to do with hope? Societal shaming of seeming weak if over 25 you still give it your time? I always wonder what those over 40 do by way of finding support and people ‘hearing’ them, when the entire world seems to shut you down by a certain age, including yourself.

Revelation

I have little family but I have an aunt. My aunt reminded me today of the prayer of St. Francis. To give to others what you most need. She is not a Christian but she said it’s an apropos relative to karma and that awareness kills karma, once you learn the reason for something, it has no power over you.

Years ago I would not have imagined my aunt, whom I was close with as a child but did not see as a young adult, would be such a guiding force in my life. She told me people come into our lives, even those who damage us, as much because we ask them to, as they want to. That doesn’t mean if you are victimized, that you ‘asked for it‘ (you didn’t) but you play a part. Not meaning you are responsible, but you are not outside of the experience either and when you see that, you can see the flipside of the trauma and the value of the lesson.

By lesson, I do not mean, if you are victimized, that you are ‘being taught a necessary lesson’ because who the heck wants that lesson? But if you experience it, there is a way to turn it into a positive. I wholeheartedly agree. My dear friend Susi Bocks and I talk of this often.

I admire my aunt very much. I was always told not to admire those whom I have and they were open to derision by people who felt it their place to judge. But I’m listening to my gut on this, and I know who I admire and why. I feel it is not my place to judge, it is my place to be a positive thing in this world. That often helps me personally too. I admire her because she has literally gone through hell and not only succeeded, but flourished. She is one of the wisest, brightest, most likable people I have known and it saddens me that I didn’t know her as well earlier, but I’m so glad I know her now.

My whole life, I thought if I did something wrong, ‘karma would get me‘ and I had some fear related to that. But nothing good comes from fear. I now see that we have some power over karma, that it isn’t this force that can wreck us if we slip up, but something we can engage with. By being aware, we can play a part in how karma manifests. After all, we all make mistakes.

One of my ‘mistakes‘ I thought, was letting people into my life, who my gut told me were not healthy for me. I did this relatively recently and deeply regretted it. From the start I knew it was a mistake and the person was not who they said they were, but I felt sorry for them and wanted to help. Rather than regretting this and believing my having to walk away from them, as they became more unwell mentally, would lead to some karmic rejection in my life, I now see, I let them into my life to learn a lesson.

The lesson was I am not the same person was I was at 20 even if I didn’t realize that until recently. It would seem obvious? But in many ways, I focused on how similar I was to my 20 year old self. It’s only now, I see how different I am. My 20 year old self would have gone down the rabbit hole, would have pitied that person until they had power over me, and led to bad experiences of narcissistic personalities trying to dominate and control good people. I wouldn’t have walked away because I would have been triggered by ‘abandoning‘ someone.

The person I am today doesn’t let people do that.

Not long ago I felt if I turned someone away who was pushing my boundaries, I was abandoning them the way I had felt abandoned. I see now that if I carry this martyr complex of being abandoned, around as my yard stick, that’s what I will attract. I also see that from abandonment comes positive things like, compassion, and being a good friend and learning to do things for others because I wanted them done for me when I was young (be the change you want to see and all that).

When my mom initially left, I did not blame her. I understood her needs. I still do. When she rejected me later, people told me I should hate her, because she was ‘doing it again.’ I defended her and said: No she didn’t reject me then. it was what she had to do. I believe this, especially as a feminist. As for now? True, I can’t explain it. The reasons she gave didn’t seem enough, but as I have learned, what seems ‘enough‘ is subjective. Likely for her, it was the last straw. You may ask; What could you have done that would be a last straw? But it’s not about actual wrongs, so much as perceived wrongs. If she perceived things I did in my childhood, to be a litany of wrongs, there could be a last straw. My therapist said this wasn’t true, as at some point people have to do the right thing, which she believed was being a mother to me, but that’s a judgement statement really, as not all of us are born to be mothers.

I don’t hate my mom, I never have. I don’t even think she hates me, I think she just can’t stand me. Which isn’t the same thing. And whilst yes, it will always hurt, especially if I outlive her, I know she did what she had to do (to live well) and I don’t put her in a demonized role, where I play the martyr. This frees me to live my life (yes, without a mom) and be glad of those positive things I did get from her (and there are so many). Literally a day doesn’t go by when something she did/said doesn’t cross my mind in a positive way. I may have wished for her approval, but deep-down I know I am every bit as good as she and do not need anyone’s approval to see that.

Going back to recent events: Narcissists especially, know exquisitely how to push boundaries, they are fat on the idea they’re terribly clever, when in reality they’re following a trope that most Narcissists follow. Often a Narcissist will disguise themselves as an empath even as they are the complete opposite. When I began to feel uncomfortable with intrusion and daily pushed boundaries, I bought into the idea if I did something I would: 1. Hurt them 2. Be incongruous to my ideas of being supportive.

I have learned that while I want to give to others what I most need, as a form of being that change I want to see, and a valuable human being (defined as, someone who helps others and cares) I don’t have to take it to an extreme. It is alright to step away from someone who doesn’t respect me. When I did, I was proud of myself, but they continued to disrespect and demand. Since not being in touch I have felt myself again. I didn’t even know how much they weighed on me until they were gone.

Those of us who do care for others, especially those going through hard times, through no fault of their own, are particularly vulnerable to abuse. When you carry your former abuse with you, you paint a target, unwittingly. Whilst it may be hard not to see through that abuse lens, I see how if I continue to define myself by my losses, disappointments, regrets, sorrows, I will probably live in that place.

This may seem patently obvious to those who do not struggle. But before you judge me, consider, when you suffer from depression it is hard enough to move through the world, let alone think of others, or do the right thing. Coupled with health issues and no family, it is easy to fall into the woe-is-me trap. I am endeavoring to do this less. I can’t say I will stop doing it, or not fall backward, but I am trying. That’s actually all I can do.

As for Narcissists, stalkers and people who play mind-games. Thanks to my aunt I think I have the wisdom to recollect who I was years ago, a strong little girl who gave to others, what she had needed, out of a pure heart. And combining that with an adult who knows people can abuse that kindness, have more boundaries and safety-guards in place, to prevent being taken advantage of again.

You make your own karma. I choose to make mine by caring for others, but not letting them trample me. Hopefully, as we give what we need, we also receive. I believe this. Having met some wonderful people here on WP. Thank you all.

(This doesn’t mean I’m quitting writing out feelings, good and bad. No recovery advocates shutting down those, they’re better exorcized).

The ingratitude of the well

Inspired by the incredible Cordelia Feldman and her novel In Bloom, for sale now. For World Cancer Day.

It would be easy to say

I haven’t been stricken because I couldn’t cope with it

there would be no one, I have learned, if I were;

not a flower garden, or brothers with curry, or kind lipsticked nurses

socialized healthcare, or odd private room

there would not be a mom bathing or a dad talking

about vegetable garden and the latest episode of Silent Witness

who could really cope?

Even as I say this, knowing the avocado heart of it

I also know I could be stricken tomorrow, or already

as all of us could

(as all of us could)

and privately in a fat second

(like when you see a train wreck and you process a hundred thoughts all at once)

I know I have my will written (handwritten, badly, not rubber stamped)

ready to mail to fate should it come.

When I got sick, though not C.A.N.C.E.R.S.I.C.K., nevertheless I really planned

taking another way out

in my head, thoughts of how bad it had become, lead to imaginings

of suicide and how savage that is to hear

for someone who is dying and does not want to die

the ingratitude of the well

these thoughts fly around me

like bees unwilling yet to sting

my heart is heavy for her

wondering selfishly what I would do

had I the same burden

praying to an empty sky, for that not to happen

superstitious that even the mere wish not to be sick

evokes it

as if fate were laughing and throwing darts

at fleeing people

so helpless, we sink our teeth into projects

wind up time like a ball of yarn

knit it into shapes we can understand

all while keeping horror at bay

the imagined car crash, the loved one never returning home

a cancer growing inside like a whistle

on a hurtling train

it is easy to not find time for empathy

or to feel, it is too close, too raw, too impossible

to process

most of all I think of her grace

how she can appreciate something like a child might

I think of her humor

how she’s had me folded on the floor laughing at the

sheer fucking brilliance of her

I am proud in ways that hurt

she’s everything I am not and she’s also

deeply human

if one person says ‘I’m sorry for your loss‘ I will

scream; “She’s not gone yet! She’s never

going to be gone, that’s just not how

she rolls. Don’t underestimate her

don’t think you own her anymore

than you own your own life.

Those platitudes are all we sometimes have

we mean them more

than scrolling past someone’s bad news

crossing ourselves, as we step over graves

one day slated to be ours

we side step death like the dancers we are

thinking we’re somehow avoiding

something born before we were

and I focus and think of her

how if I could show her my feelings

they would be in movement, in laughter

in light, spinning like an electric waterfall

like her spinning class, where just for a moment

she is that girl beneath the hot trance lights of

the 90’s and I am dancing along side her

as the earth holds us both, alive

despite any ‘support’ she has

which I am more glad of than anything

though what support does against terror?

I cannot lend a description to

my own failings in the courage department

planning my demise when the first meteorite hit

although I read we use meteorite and meteor and astroid

interchangably

and they are actually very different

with only the burning of the sun

in common to collease

their strength as potential planet killers

my math teacher used to say

a morbid mind will only bring sorrow

of course she was right

in her Laura Ashley dungerees

that would now be worth $300 on Ebay

a funny ole world my grandma prosthelytized

nipping at the ever full box of wine in the kitchen

clipping her rose garden when ABBA wasn’t

sufficient to propel demons

I get it

I really do

there’s only avoidance really

we can’t look into the sun too long

we’ll lose our sight before

we’ve made our way back from the garden

or maybe

we’ll stay, our heads upturned

soaking in the rays

To dearest Cordelia, I adore you.

Please consider purchasing Cordelia’s first novel In Bloom, it is magnificent.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cordelia-feldmans-eight-things-not-to-say-to-someone-with-cancer-p6bvz0xhsts

SMITTEN

For the sake of SMITTEN, a project I believe in more than anything I have ever done before, I have asked close friends to take over my social media rather than close it down, so that SMITTEN can continue to flourish and succeed.

In my absence, due to my severe eye-sight-issues, my friends will be running the SMITTEN Facebook page and all SMITTEN related materials. Our goal is to ensure SMITTEN is successful in all ways. Sales are one way of legitimizing a project and ensuring its authors are HEARD.

Obviously LGBTQ projects are harder to sell than others, but it is my hope SMITTEN can continue its success through the rousing support of all those who believe in LGBTQ equality and the rights a woman has to love another woman. Please consider supporting SMITTEN – each sale helps raise visibility and gives SMITTEN authors another opportunity to share their unique and beautiful voices.

SMITTEN news and updates can be found here

SMITTEN is for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you support local bookstores please ask them to stock SMITTEN using Ingram. If you cannot afford a Kindle copy or hard copy please ask your local library to get a copy of SMITTEN via Ingram. It doesn’t take much and it means everything to the 120 authors and poets of SMITTEN. Indie publishing doesn’t flourish without our support as a community!

This is a real world as it is an unreal world

I was going through the list of who I am following on WordPress with a view of clearing out people who had stopped writing on their blog. It’s sad. All the good intentions we have, all the excellent names for blogs, the ideas, the effort, where do they go?

Interestingly; I noticed that many of the people who had depression and/or feminism in their title line were no longer writing. I wondered, is that a coincidence or do things that matter but are not popular (depression/feminism) die out?

Whilst I admire those who continue a blog for years, writing faithfully every day/week/month I would also say that many of the BEST writers are those who start blogs and never continue them. I wonder where they are now? I wonder if they are okay? It seems sad to see their potential and ideas lost.

When I was sick I didn’t write for a few months here-and-there but people knew I was still around. I wonder how long it takes to not be around and not be noticed if you are not around, I wonder how long it takes to vanish or feel you have vanished?

Upon joining WP I met with a small group of writers/poets/thinkers and they were my ‘first’ friends here. What is interesting is of those, some are still my dearest friends and some completely vanished and this after professing love and life-long friendship. Of those who vanished, either into their own egos or others, they were the loudest at proclaiming such undying friendship. Had I known then, they were just saying it, I wouldn’t have invested as much time in cultivating those friendships but not everyone is like that, usually only those who speak the loudest (and I wonder why that is?).

At times I am tempted to ask some of those who never keep in touch, what happened? Where’s the love? ha ha ha! Because they were SO VERY effusive and then like a raisin in the sun they dried up and went onto greener pastures … I guess that’s the whim of the budding author for you! Yeah I met a few of those too. I learned from that fickelty though. No matter what happens, I’ll never feel too self-important for those who were there for me.

Going through the list is like looking back on the years I have written on WP and all the people I have met. I feel so lucky to have met those people, so many of them I really count as TRUE friends and I care deeply for them. Others I may not be literal friends with but I admire what they do and who they are, very, very much. We are basically, a wonderful community and I feel richer for being here.

Let’s spare a moment for those who are not here. In our WP world we have lost people. Those who have died. Those who have become too sick to write. Those who are too depressed to write. Those who are not here and though we do not know why, they are gone. Let’s think about those people we met when we first began here, the faces and voices of those who are not here now for a myriad of reasons. I for one, do not forget them. It’s a bit like first-love, you don’t easily forget your first.

Thank you to Rita, Eric, Tony, Monique, Derick and Sabrina, some of the very ‘first tribe’ who welcomed me and whom I had here on WP, for still being around and still sending your sunshine my way regularly.

Oh, and if this teaches me anything, it is to appreciate someone whilst they are here and to try to always keep writing through life’s ups and downs and appreciate the value of people coming into your life and holding you to the light.

For Paul and Cynthia. We remember you.

 

Advocating

She used to tell other girls

Sista! Stand up for yourself!

And when others needed her voice

She lent her ROAR

Don’t be quiet and let them walk over you, she cautioned

But when it came to her own

She sat demure, a photo in old box

Doe eyed and blinking

Knees together, ironed hair

Palms touching in supplicate

Head keenly nodding on hot wire

Stomach lurching like unmoored ship, drunk on the dream of voyage

All the while

A scream building inside

NO! NO! NO!

I am not a number to be parceled and coded

Spat out and told, we have no answers, for we have no understanding of the soul

I FEEL and in the night, if you listen closely at my door you’ll hear me pray

To every spirit and four leaf clover, even, the lopsided rabbit in my arms

As time flickered away with each new day of sickness

She needed an advocate

To be her unguarded voice

Which had become lost

In all the twists and turns.

And the tall doctor

He was no mind-reader

He had his well rehearsed routine and could if needed, click his ankles in mid-jump

She wasn’t easy to label and dismiss

Nor did she want to be, a compliant good girl

She wanted to question until they dragged her out into the street

Writhing to the sound of her own outrage

That we are abandoned by medicine in our most desperate hour

Leaving unhealed like scabs, without voices, our ill tended shadows

She wanted to understand

And find ways that didn’t involve dependency upon pills

He was a blonde marionette, testing his overbite

Talking in her head, Yak yak yak

The sound of chomping wood and splinters for lunch

She heard no future

Unless she spoke up

But where was her tongue?

Where had it gone?

Step outside

The doctor

who is 47 and wears a baseball cap

she doesn’t look her age, even her hands are unlined

but she knows her stuff, telling me, it’s a virus

got into you, maybe by the loosest thread and working its way up

attacked your spleen like, a well placed fist will split even hard skin

opening up secrets, spilling them like spaghetti squash, reveals its jewel

thumbing through test results, her eyes raised imperceptably

we both joked at the irony of finding a virus, good news

by then I had, a long list of debtors, thinner wrists, curled with many knots, my mouth was parched from staying open

who knew I’d learned so well, the art of begging and beseachment

and the phone, if it were not disconnected, would not have rung because I’d found out 

those who stand in faded ink on birth certificate, are not interested in, the lurch of misfortune

you see, some people, they need warm weather, even in Wintertime

and cannot abide, a cold chill or sudden snap

and I, poor dear, had quite broken my luck on the roulette table, as it spun

a soft sound much like the running of a bath

my turn to fall

their turn to turn, face away, pretending, such misfortune doesn’t happen

they are acrobats of self-deception

I don’t condemn it

it gives me the outline of which to begin, a new family tree

it will not have many branches, perhaps will look deformed

but as the arroyo dries in hot Summer, lines leave scores in red earth, pointing a way for journiers

and there are people who come

from almost nowhere

bringing solace

like a well tended light, burning from animal oil

keeps alive, that creature within us

needing, oh so needing

I touched them, with burning fingers and blistered lips

I couldn’t form the words to say, how much it meant

walking in their step and how

the measure of their coming lifted me

from a place i’d never been nor wished to return 

emptiness is not, an acquired taste

the doctor, she can attest to that

I see grief in her stride and hope in the words she feeds me

as we create over the loom, something resembling a coat

to wear when the weather gets cold

and you have to step outside

The best of tales

I fell hard, such is the consequence of a colorful lure

Flickering in shallow water lit by hope

the world was messy, like a thirsty rag soaked with blood

still not gaining sustainence

sickness an albatross, urging me to frail edge

I had yet to learn that words can possess no value

be simply pretty things, we are misled by like Xmas baubles, turned over to reflect pattern

how can a writer realize, words can be emptier than a hollow tree?

people who write them, do so with convincing candor all enveloping like hard sales pitch

it’s impossible to believe they’re just words, without meaning, or worse, deliberate opposite

of truth, that sparten ideal, sucking ice for nourishment

when the wet ass hour comes, and it always comes

those who stay, are not those who wrote long entreaty

not the flatterers, cake-bakers, trumpet players

they are usually the last you’d believe, quiet, unobtrusive leaves coloring your floor

when your loud friends have quit you, it is they who step up and inquire

are you okay? Do you need help?

I learned this directly, as if fed by a poisoned spoon 

the ache of losing louder voices and reward of quiet ones, whom you didn’t believe cared

because you listened for the caucophany and wordsmiths who

know their trade as story tellers, so very, well

and I, who also wrote stories, fell hook, line and sinker

for the best of tales

the one where it’s all about them, and if you fall short you’re out

why it took so long to see, the value of things as they stand

plain in the rain, but firm of foot

is down to the fanciful nature I had

before damp veil was torn off and sickness

cast her long net and kept you underwater without purchase

in that drowning you learned, the only lesson worthy of a mortal

it will not be those who come, bearing gifts, cherry lipped

it will not be those who say; you are wonderful, adorable

it will be the person who seems aloof and speaks volumes

because sometimes a story teller is just that

a teller of stories without depth, milking our need 

they do not stay when you reach out, just the length of the tale

long or short, it always comes to an end and then

they go on to the next book and you are left

dangling with pretty words, tied in useless bouquet

now I don’t know what to call myself

“recovering” of some sort of fairytale lure

and in that recovery I find the simple joy 

of people without tall stories
 

This is to thank so much all those magical folk I did not know would step up and to acknowledge those who spoke loudest and did the least by way of mercy. Each to your own I learned and I grew.