THE OLD WOMAN AND THE OLD BICYCLE

THE OLD WOMAN AND THE OLD BICYCLE

The Old Woman And The Old Bicycle
The breeze is cold and sharp and honest on my walk without you.
Confusion wells up in my eyes
As I sit uncomfortably in the patience of universal design.
I feel lost, as I usually do right before I am found.
Cars blur past,
Some rattling with age
While others flaunt their shiny newness.
My idle hands crimp and fuss.
Absent is the hand that held them steady.
Touching my face to remember I’m here
And I’m real and I feel,
As the crisp air blowing on my sore neck wasn’t enough.
The marks of my strain and stress now visible.
Between my vacant family,
My lost husband,
My insurfuckingmountable depression,
And my god damned dead dad
I want to step in front of that shiny new car and stop it.
Stop the 30 years of abuse
Stop the nightmares
Stop the tears
Stop the loss
And stop the unheard, maddening loneliness.
I tried to call so many people and no one answered.
I’m reminded of the time I told my cousin that when no one answers
That means it’s time to call to the universe.
So I called to her.
Please guide me to joy.
Please carve a lighter path.
Please take pity on my tired and bruised body.
I’ll stay!
I’ll keep walking!
I’ll walk night and day and day and night
Just please stand beside me.
In all your warmth and rapture and rage
Show me some kindness.
Show me your mercy.
My trembling hand pulled a card from a deck earlier and it said, “Power.”
Was that meant for you?
For I cannot see mine, but yours is surely in the air.
Is mine hidden in the hand behind your back?
Or is it in my footsteps?
Maybe my legs will grow stronger with every mile.
Maybe the rhythm of my movement will steady the equilibrium of my breath.
Maybe my hands will effortlessly fall to my sides as my head dizzies with quietness.
And then, maybe, I’ll hear her.
In the lemon tree,
Or the hazy far off police sirens,
Or in the melting background hum of rush hour traffic,
Or in the soft paddle of an old bicycle wheel.
And as the street lamps flicker on,
And the dusk settles in,
And as the misty Olympic clouds blanket the Pasadena mountains, maybe,
I’ll hear her say, “take another step.”

Her

her

Cry for the little girl whose mommy always cries
Cry for the little girl whose daddy is never home
Who overhears loud fighting
And crashes in the middle of the night.
Cry for the little girl who stopped getting lullabies.
Cry for the little girl who had a nightmare one night
And who crawled into her mommy and daddy’s bed for comfort.
Cry for the little girl whose daddy touched her between her legs
Cry for the little girl who didn’t want to hurt her daddy
but she was getting hurt, too
So she hit him
And hit him
And hit him.
Cry for the little girl who went back to bed
Cry for the little girl who woke up confused, wet with urine,
And no one talked to her.
Cry for the little girl who made herself believe it was just her nightmare
The nightmare that she will have for decades to come.
The nightmare that will come back
Again, and again, and again, and again.
Cry for the little girl whose mommy started drinking
Whose lungs are burning and aching with smoke.
Cry for the little girl whose sister began to get angry
Who was placed in a dryer and had it turned on
Who was locked in a meat freezer
Who was electrocuted
And drowned
And beaten with a rock
And still has all the scars to prove it.
Cry for the little girl who slept outside one night
And no one noticed she was gone.
Cry for the little girl who slept outside for three weeks
And no one noticed she was gone.
Cry for the little girl who lost her virginity
And then he broke her rib
Cry for the little girl who was spit at, beat up and locked in lockers at school
Cry for the little girl whose mother threw chairs
And thought she was branded by Satan
And choked her daughters if they got out of line.
Cry for the little girl whose father was home now but too drunk to care.
Cry for the little girl who was drugged by boys
Again, and again, and again, and again
Cry for the little girl who started fantasizing about her father
Who loathed her own sexuality and was disgusted with her skin.
Cry for the little girl who fooled around with an older boy in a hot tub
Only to realize his friends were filming nearby
And what about that boyfriend that uploaded that video
The one of her going down on him to that porn site, cry about that too.
Cry for the little girl who was called a whore, a slut, easy, a piece of pussy, trash, loose, a bitch, a cunt, and such a fucking tease.
Cry for the little girl who had six,
Or was it seven
Fraternity boys attack her, rip her clothes off and throw them out the window.
Who went back home and had no one to tell.
Cry for the little girl who was raped by the neighbor boy
And still, 13 years later can’t drive down his road.
Cry for the little girl who was brave enough to leave and never look back.
Cry for the little girl who was raped again only one month later.
Remembering his piercing cold blue eyes, but was a total stranger.
Cry for the little girl whose doctor came in without gloves and forced himself inside her
Cry for the little girl whose masseuse went too high up her thigh
And wouldn’t stop, even when she cried.
Cry for the little girl who was assaulted three more times.
But can’t remember.
A silhouette of a person, an outline, a negative space cut out from reality.
Cry for the little girl whose memories began to evaporate from time
Cry for the little girl who was convinced by an older man that he could save her
Who just wanted to play with her
Who just wanted to use her, abuse her, degrade her, defile her, torture her and scar her
Again, and again, and again, and again
Cry for the little girl who was brave enough to leave and never look back.
Cry for the little girl who sought recovery.
Who faced her suicidal tendencies,
And her instincts to hurt and to hate.
Cry for the little girl who finally found her voice.
Once meager and weak
But now she could speak,
What a beautiful sound.
Cry for the little girl who learned about trust.
Not just in others, or herself, but in all of us.
Cry for the little girl who wanted her family again
And realized they were in more pain than her
So she cried for them.
Cry for the little girl who learned about love.
For the first time, feeling genuine care.
For being fearful of what she owed in return,
Realizing love is not a debt.
Cry for the little girl who learned how to make love.
With her spirit, her mind, her conscious body and her ever-grateful heart.
Cry for her joy, her returning childlike wonder, her intrigue with life.
Cry for her rejuvenation,
Her renewed sense of innocence
And Her resurrection.
Cry for the little girl that learned how to forgive.
Who prayed and cried for those who hurt her
For seeing clearly their pain like mountains over Her calm valley of water.
And once the tears have fallen, once they have rained into Her river
Watch them drift back to the sea
The vast horizon that is Her love
Not just for you, but for everybody.
Do not cry for the little girl, not anymore.
She does not want your tears.
This little girl has now lived for many years.
Cry for the sick, the disturbed, the tormented and weak.
Cry for their souls some refuge to seek.
Cry for their reflection, their need to introspect.
Cry for their lack of empathy and their inability to connect.
Cry for their healing, their cold and confused hearts.
Cry for our sake, for without their health we’ll all be pulled apart.
Our people are a hurting one, place your weapons down.
Speak up, trust, love
Only Her peace will be found.

No

NO

PREFACE: I used to think it was important to only share recovery, and on that same wavelength, I used to think only love poems were the kinds that were important to share.  Today, I am reminded of the process and how I had to hear experience, then strength and hope in order to heal.  Knowing that you’re not alone is key to releasing the power that traumatic experiences have on the mental, emotional and spiritual states of the person who has been disturbed.  I am reminded that both light and dark exist together.  The following might be triggering for some assault/rape survivors.

My dream last night was about James.  He was the sweet neighbor boy who lived around the corner from my house growing up. We would ride our bikes around the dirt roads together.  One day he “forgot” his bike, so we had to walk, and he grabbed my hand and held it all afternoon.  We would go swimming in ponds and pick blackberries and on one evening, he gave me my first real kiss when I was 13 in the back of my mom’s car.

I remember wearing his football jersey to school on a Friday to support him for the game that evening.  Feeling important and trusted, I wore it like a badge of my status, popularity and commitment to my new and first boyfriend.  After the game, he kissed me again, this time in front of his friends.  I was amazed at his confidence and bravery in liking me.  He was a year older at 14, and fellow friends envied that an older boy was dating me. It gave me this image of “maturity” where locker room girls asked for dating advice.

James and I didn’t date long, however, age differences at that time of puberty made a big difference.  Girls at 14 were starting to make-out with boys, get felt-up, even play below the belt.  But I wasn’t ready.  Nervous to even french kiss him, that didn’t seem to be enough for his current appetite.  However, we remained friends all throughout junior high and into high school.

We went to parties together often, although he typically would socialize with the more popular, athletic crowd.  Whereas, my group was a little more rough around the edges.  He was never judgmental, though.  When I wore too much makeup, or a shirt too low, or when rumors began to spread of my sexual conquests (apparently I slept with an entire football team at another school and got 7 abortions one summer), he remained my friend.

I often thought he was one of the kindest, truest men I had ever met.  I trusted him wholeheartedly and even thought that one day we might end up together when life balanced out a bit.  I could see us on the farm raising a bunch of babies, working the soil and having too many animals. He loved dogs and I loved pigs and we both already had at least 5 cats between us.

Within a single evening, those tender daydreams turned into rocks that were thrown into my perception and shattered my reality.  Parts of me broke all while I slept.  At 17, he raped me in his dorm room when I was unconscious. The once sweet boy who I shared so many memories with became a horrible nightmare for 13 years to come.

I got very drunk at a party one night. I knew I had overdone it and was worried about my safety.  As a smart girl, I knew that boys could take advantage, so I called James to come get me since he lived in a dormitory nearby.  It was no secret that I was fall-over drunk. I was young, still trying to figure out my limits with alcohol and as some children from disturbed childhoods do, I was self-medicating. Even as I write this, I find myself justifying.

I don’t remember much after returning to his dorm room.  Just laying in his bed and trying to fall asleep, my shirt coming off and telling him I was cold.

I woke up the next morning completely naked beside him. Confused, embarrassed and sore. I got dressed and left knowing that I didn’t want to have sex with him, but I had, or he had with me. Feeling like it was my fault – for years to come. Scared if he had or hadn’t used protection.  (He hadn’t). If only I hadn’t drank so much.  If only I could remember what happened.  If only I was awake long enough to tell him no.  If only…

I drove home missing a part of myself.  I drove home never wanting to see myself naked again.  I drove home with my skin tensing with disgust and anger.  I drove home to a place where I was not safe to tell anyone about what had happened.  I drove home in silence and alone.  I drove home looking at a sunrise and feeling like nothing would ever look beautiful again.  I drove home empty and numb.  I drove home passing his house.  I drove home.

That night, I was given three things: an inability to get close or trust men for nearly a decade, a tendency to disassociate with myself that spawned many more years of abuse, and I was given chlamydia. Which my parents nearly disowned me over.  (Back then parents were notified of sexually transmitted diseases if the child was under the age of 18.) Fortunately, one of those things was treatable with a tiny little pill.  Unfortunately, everything else wasn’t that easy to overcome.

I wrote a poem that day, it later won some prestigious thing that’s not even worth mentioning – but here it is.  A poem I haven’t read in 13 years that all of a sudden today, on the eve of 2018, somehow feels important:

No
Hold my heart out on my sleeve,
Take a breath and watch me leave,
Caught in passion that I didn’t want,
Act as if you’re nonchalant.
One can’t be after such an assault.
The heart is in remorse and life comes to a halt.
Hide my tears and never tell a soul,
My body is numb and my love is cold.
Never regain consciousness from this perdition I’ve been placed.
My life is over.
I’ve been erased.
Not so fast, this isn’t my fault.
Don’t ask why, one could never understand,
Why this man could have laid his hand,
His hand upon myself in an outraged way.
Don’t ask why, for on that day,
You will take your life away.

 

Loneliness Is Just A Label

LONELINESS IS JUST A LABEL

Meditating last night, I found myself chanting “sit” on repeat.  Going through my mala beads at least twice, maybe three times consistently reminding myself to “sit.”

“Sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit..”  and so it went.

Having been born in a house of chaos, it’s been challenging for most of my adult life to sit still in times of uneasy emotional circumstances. Instinct tells me to run away from the feelings, either by moving to another apartment, city or even state.  Instinct also tells me to lose all the friendships I’ve made, destroy or abandon them all and start anew.  It’s fear-based, it’s fear that people are getting too close, it’s fear that tells me to run.

I’ve moved 20 times in the last 12 years because of this flight-based instinct.  I have recreated my life and developed new friendships more than I can count.  Only showing people what I want to show them and leaving the rest as the past, fearing judgment, criticism or inability to relate.

Sitting in uncomfortable moments where our anxiety is high, our emotions are abusively loud and our hearts are aching, are signs of true growth.  If I can sit quietly with my pain long enough, I can uncover the root of the disturbance.  In this circumstance, like most children of alcoholics, my root was and usually is, loneliness.

I was alone in my childhood.  My dad traveled 90% of the time. He was home for maybe 1 weekend a month for 15 years.  When he was home, he was devastatingly drunk.  To put this into perspective, my dad usually drank about a half gallon of vodka a night.  So when I say he was drunk, I mean he was terribly drunk.  That led to fights, slurs, stumbles, accidents, hurt and eventually him passing out with a lit cigarette in his hand – to which I often put out at the end of the night when I heard it was finally quiet, and safe.

My mom started out as a very loving and doting mother.  But, from the years of isolation and an inability to self-reflect or grow on her own, she too began to drink as a coping mechanism.  Alcoholism ran in her family as well so it came as no surprise why she married a drunk or why she herself found it easy to treat her symptoms with alcohol.  However, that left my sister and I very much alone.

I responded to this by becoming a classic internalizer.  I felt so much of the responsibility in my household that when problems arose, I turned the blame on myself and wanted to mediate the entire family until there was peace again.  Which, there could never be because alcoholism doesn’t allow that.  I often found myself depressed, anxious and drained by the internal voice in my head constantly criticizing and accusing me of things I’d never really done.

Because of this internal monologue, I decided it was probably better for me to just live in the woods, so that’s what I did.  I retreated inward, into my dark cave of anger, confusion, hormones, self-hatred and dying light of childhood and went into the woods.  I slept under the stars, exhaled the sunrise, listened to fawns gingerly walking towards me on the ever-so-loud crunchy autumn leaves.  And in this solicitude, I started to find some semblance of peace.  But, I also found loneliness.

It took me another 10 years to figure out how to quiet my mind, sync in with myself and my world and my love and realize that I’m never alone.  It took me 10 painstaking years of dating, promiscuity, drinking, drugs, depression, anger, boxing and eventually deep-healing for me to fill that often-referred-to as “God-sized” hole inside of myself.

Now, when I hear myself chanting “sit,” I remember that fawn walking on those leaves.  I see the slideshow of grief and moves and echoes of myself – and they all remind me that I am here, I am whole, I am worthy and I am forever surrounded by love because I am love.  Fear was only a self-induced mechanism to aid in my survival.  Loneliness was just another label for something I didn’t understand, which was quiet.

“Sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit..”  and so it goes.

Chapter 1: Weeds

CHAPTER 1: WEEDS

WEEDS
I’ve always loved solving problems.  That’s why I excelled in school, I liked the feeling of not understanding a complicated question and then working diligently until finding the solution.  That moment of completion, of knowledge, of pride has been a driving force in my life.  The more challenging the problem, the more excited I am to learn and master the resolution. So it seems fitting that the hardest problem I’ve had to solve, has been myself.  Something that I have had to genuinely work hard at to solve, every day.

While sitting on a couch the size of a small submarine, engulfed by pillows and faced in front of a psychotherapist, I realized I was broken.  I was the problem.  I was the common denominator in all of the bad relationships, the failed friendships, my sadness, loneliness and my crippling fear.  I experienced them all and I created them all and I was a part of them all.

Her name was Chris.  She was a short woman of maybe 65 years, she had a youthful face, but you could hear in her voice she had lived, seen and conquered.  Her blue eyes, overdone mascara and short, pixie length strawberry blonde hair reminded all her patients that she was once a real beauty.  Chris was my Cognitive Behavioral Therapist for over 2 years. Her patience, forcefulness and raw honesty guided me through PTSD, manic depression, borderline personality disorder and suicidal impulses.

I believe we have to tend to our mental and emotional health like gardens, attentively and regularly, to make sure we are remaining teachable, grateful, open-minded, empathetic and cognizant of the world and people around us.  If you just pick the weed’s leaves, it will continue to grow – but if you pull the weed out by its root, it will never sprout again.  But at this time, sitting on this leather sofa with my legs dangling like a child waiting for their mother at the DMV, I did not understand this.  I was just a confused, rattled, angry little girl who had been taught to stigmatize therapy, and live in a perpetual state of denial, guilt and grief.

Chris had me fill out all of these tests that asked about my family’s mental and physical health. She asked me questions about what brought me there and why I felt I needed support.  I told her about the attempted suicide.  I told her about how my childhood was almost all blacked out, except for a few select memories that were so interlaced with nightmares I couldn’t tell the difference anymore.  The words were hot and poured out like lava, burning my tongue and making me sick with the aftertaste of ash.  By the end of my first session I felt high, exhausted, 30 pounds lighter and calm.  I also still wanted to kill myself.

I couldn’t believe the things I just said.  I couldn’t take ownership of my choices because I didn’t feel as if they were my own.  I felt forced into this life, into these circumstances, playing a martyr to all the abuse I faced as a child.  As a woman of 21 years – I could no longer watch myself behaving badly and blaming it on something that happened against my will.  I may not have had control over those moments, but I sure as hell had control of these new, present moments.  The path I was choosing and the woman I was electing to become was someone I did not like.   And how could I possibly go the rest of my life living with someone I disliked?  That’s why suicide looked like the way out.  That’s why it always seemed to look like the way out.

I tried committing suicide twice before.  The first time I was 15-years-old and I think of that little girl now and sometimes I cry for how lonely she felt.  Humans have a remarkably strong will to survive, so strong that we immortalize their tales in movies like, “Apollo 13”, “The Perfect Storm”, “127 Hours” and “The Revenant.”  We are in awe of our own strength, perseverance and this basic human instinct that is so deep-rooted in our genetic makeup that it has kept our species alive for roughly 200,000 years. So to reach a despair as desperate, fragile and bleak as to fight our nature itself is nothing shy of heartbreaking. Seeing that place 3 times now has taught me what hell truly looks like.  It is not engulfed in flames, there is no eternal burning – it’s only numbness.  There is no devil, or demons – there is only yourself.  And after what feels like lifetimes of sleepless nights, restless days and impossible amounts of solutionless problem solving, you come to a decision that it’s better to die than to live.  You become so tired, worn down, so beaten that you have lost any resilience you once had.  There is no longer fear of death because you have felt the most unimaginable pain already and any suffering that exists in the transition of death surely will be more comfortable than what you are currently living through.  At this point in a person’s depression, there is very little that can be said to change or alter the choice.  The only thing left is to plan.

At 15, I planned to hang myself.  It seemed quick enough and I had all the materials already.  On our 40-acre property in rural Michigan we had a large farmhouse barn with high ceilings just outside of our house.  The barn’s walls were made of metal, unlike most of our neighboring farms made from traditional red wood with brown roofing.  Our barn was recognizable because it was a grayish-purple with a bright white top.  My dad kept it in pristine condition, caring for it with time and pride, always raking the gravel and sweeping the wooden floors under his work surfaces.  We built a loft together once, as a family, back when I was younger at maybe the age of 10.  I remember helping bring all the 2×4’s up the ladder in a sort of human escalator.  That same ladder I was now climbing to attach a rope from the ceiling beams no more than 5 years later.  I sat on that loft overlooking my father’s old John Deer tractor.  Remembering with fondness about the time my sister sneezed so hard she slammed her eyes shut and accidentally crashed it into a tree.  My dad was so upset, he yelled at her all night.

Having that fondness quickly morph into hopelessness at the mental remembrance of my dad’s rageful face, I returned to the present moment and how my life was shattered, broken, and unfixable.  I slipped the rope over my little head, with my trembling little hands and wiped the tears from my eyes.  For a moment, I realized how human I was and how remarkable tears were.  I was mesmerized at how people had the capability to make tangible, liquid representations of pain.  And how I had gotten to a point in my young life where I felt like I didn’t have any more tears to give to the world.  When your depression is past the point of feeling and you’ve transitioned in the pits of numbness that is a truly terrifying place to exist.  My insides felt rotten.  I already felt dead and like there was no spirit of a child left anymore. And with that, I stepped off the side of the loft that I helped build with my family.

One thing that happens when you go to therapy is that you become aware of all of the weeds in your garden very quickly.  Like when you’re lying in a bath tub, propped up with your feet against the other side and then all of a sudden your footing slips, you lose grip and before you know it, your heads dunked underwater.  I was drowning by my third appointment.  Hell on earth was becoming a frequent gas station on my road, instead of it being in my rear view mirror.  I didn’t want to keep filling my tank up with negativity, self-hatred and pity.  I wanted to understand how people function in society.  How they cultivate happiness and exude joy.  Was it just pretend or do people actually have that in their lives?  It all felt so comparative and judgmental in my mind.  And although I never felt like life owed me happiness, I wanted to see if people could actually obtain it and if so, how.  I wanted to live more than a few years without crippling depression, anxiety and perpetual guilt for something as meek as existing.  Chris said she could help me.  And for whatever reason, I trusted her.

She told me about how she had been an alcoholic for 20 some odd years and that felt safe to me.  I knew alcoholics well.  My dad was one (although he never sought sobriety), my mom was one (although she always said, “there’s nothing wrong with a few cocktails after a long day.”)  My Aunt was one (when I knew her, before my family ex-communicated her).  My grandpa was one (but he was a dry drunk by the time I was born) and the list goes on and on.  If Al-Anon got one thing right – it’s that alcoholism is a family disease.  It pollutes the addicts and everyone that loves them.  So, when I heard Chris was an alcoholic, but had been in recovery for 25+ years, I felt like she would get it.

We jumped from current events in my life to past events quite frequently.  We didn’t focus on my parents, or the drinking, or the abuse, but rather what choices I was making now and how much they pained me.  She never judged me.  She only told me lovingly and harshly when I was making patterned choices that continuously led me into circumstances I wanted to avoid. My patterns were very clear: men.  I loved men.  I loved falling in love with men.  I loved men falling in love with me.  I loved the cat and mouse games.  And it’s all so clear why, and it’s all so cliche.  I was a neglected, lonely, insecure girl.  Getting attention from anyone was a surprise and a delight.  But the men I kept playing with were very unhealthy.

One of the first learnings I had in therapy was that unhealthy women attract unhealthy men.  And I was very unhealthy.  I also had been living in chaos my entire life, so I only really felt comfortable in chaotic relationships.  To define my chaos: I never wanted to feel stable, I wanted to question your love.  I wanted a man who would always look over his shoulder at another woman.  Maybe just slightly or completely emotionally unavailable.  They needed to be an artist, but not a kind, flowery one – a brooding, depressed, consistently miserable one.  Because when I made them smile, I knew I did a good job that day. Make sure they smoked, drank, had a mean streak.  I liked that.  I liked the “heroin-chic look.”  I wanted to question if you were ever in rehab.  I wanted to question if I was safe with you.

These unhealthy relationships were the torment of my current situation and why I started going to therapy and Al-Anon in the first place.  The unhealthiest of all my relationships, the one that brought me to my knees, the one that had me blacked out on my patio in the middle of California winter waking up from a drug-induced, hallucinated state and the one that finally gave me recovery and healing was my 2 year “relationship” with my married boss.

I awoke on the barn floor and I could hear Jo-Jo, Mittens and Cupcake, our three outdoor barn cats, rustling in the hay stack behind me.  I took a deep breath and coughed as the sandy floor got in my mouth and lungs.  Starting to groggily and weakly look around, it was as if I had risen from an all too realistic and haunting lucid dream.  The freshly raked gravel on the floor hurt, my skin felt so sensitive.  Like I hadn’t been in my body for a year and suddenly, the feeling was turned back on.  I felt every stone and pebble piercing into my shoulder, forearm and hip.  Propping myself up on my hand, after what felt like 30 minutes, I realized I had not succeeded in killing myself.

I didn’t tie the rope correctly. I didn’t understand how a noose worked and without the internet, I just tied it with a bunch of knots.  Like a flash, I recalled what happened with great sensation.  The knots dug into my skin.  The rope was tight but not tight enough.  My heart raced and I was panicked.  I couldn’t breathe, my feet were kicking, and unable to touch the floor I pulled at the rope gasping, alone and scared.  Flashes of hot flesh on my neck and hands.  The pain seared from external to internal.  I felt heat and pressure in my face, pulsing behind my eyes. My back arched and legs started to straighten, feeling heavy as I tried to reach for anything to make it stop.  The will to live clicked back on.  As I started to slip out of consciousness, my last thought was “not yet.”

My throat aching, still coughing and without feeling I stood up.  And like a familiar ritual, I cleaned up the mess I made, covered the shame and walked back to the house to go to sleep and to wake again in the morning for another day.

 

The Original Song

THE ORIGINAL SONG

Inspired by Robert Frost’s poem yesterday, I wrote the following poem.  But before we get into that, I want to share a little bit about silence.  I spoke with my cousin last night who was distraught upon finding out her best friend had been hit by a car.  He was seriously injured, but alive.  She told me about how when she found out, she called multiple friends but no one answered.  She felt “alone in the universe, I just felt like I was left floating there.”

I remember this feeling back in my depression, I felt so alone and unheard, unwanted and living in fear.  Just as she was.  I explained to her that the unhealthy side of our brains, the parts of us unhealed, hurting, the addictions, the self-indulgences, the justifications, the instant gratifications, etc. That side always tells us bad things.  Our brains are hardwired to make us feel better – at whatever the cost.  When we were hungry as primal creatures, our brains would solve problems to get us nourishment.  When we needed shelter, we would creatively find a solution.  That has not changed, only our problems have.

We now need to be “perfect;” warm, comfortable at all times, loved by everyone, successful, eat the most balanced diet, post only the most beautiful pictures on Instagram, and have the most loving and adoring relationship.  This list goes on and on.  Our brain is constantly trying to give us the best solutions to all of our problems.  For those of us who have unhealthy tendencies; eating to cope with stress, suicidal thoughts, using sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. It’s very easy to let that side have the loudspeaker.  But there is another side.

The healthy side, in that moment for my cousin, was telling her to take some silence.  No one answered the phone calls, but the universe answered the real call. Be quiet in your grief, in your fear, in your hurt.  She wasn’t alone in the universe, because she was WITH the universe.  And this beautiful world wanted her to make a healing wish for her friend and for herself.  Sometimes, silence is the answer.  That is where we grow, evolve, learn and understand ourselves more fully.

Our greatest strength, our greatest wisdom and our greatest kindness is silence. That is our original song.  Silence and love.

The Original Song
Never have I met someone like you
Apologetically heroic while healing hearts.
Kind severity that stares straight through
Unabashed, unadulterated, a destiny long overdue,
Spoken softly, a secret of honey burns at our hearths.

Love letters left on pillowcases,
Sunsets seeping from the text;
A humanity overwhelmed with familiar faces,
Flowers filling up the blank spaces –
In between the places like lovers might suggest.

Words falling short and gracelessly falling out,
Inexplicable in nature, what a marvel you are
Like God himself is even devout.
The land lacking light, without and in drought
And then you, like Renoir, painted the sky with heaven’s first star.

 

Rock Bottoms

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It’s hard watching other people hurt.  I was in Al-Anon for 5 years, a 12-step program to help friends and family members of Alcoholics, and while I was attending meetings I heard so many rock bottoms.  Every story is unique to the person. To one, it could sound as mundane as just losing a job, while others could make you question how a human could degrade themselves so severely.  In all of my years of hearing the hurt of rock bottoms, one thing I’ve learned is that they all feel the same.

A person is standing in front of you; broken, shattered and feeling unfixable.  Their pain is palpable.  Tiredness is heard in every breath.  On-lookers can see lifetimes of sleepless nights, restless days and impossible amounts of solutionless problem solving happening behind their eyes. They are beaten and they appear to have lost any resilience or faith they once had.

My husband is in his rock bottom and my heart is breaking for him. While I’ve been confessing my pain about my father here on these posts, I’ve been witnessing the slow and yet so steady debasement of my husband’s once uncompromising joy for life.  There are so many things I want to say to him.

There is a moment in our lives when we get introduced to ourselves.  It could be the moment you won an award for a Science Fair project, the time you played too loudly over the jazz band, when you finally gained enough courage to leave your abusive boyfriend, or when you – for the first time – danced naked in your kitchen while eating a pie you baked just for yourself.

Or, when you hit your rock bottom.

Humans are not immortal, but hell, we have a remarkably strong will to survive. I am consistently in awe of our strength, perseverance and this basic human instinct that is so deep-rooted in our genetic makeup that it has kept our species alive for roughly 200,000 years.  If when we feel weak, may we find the sliver of energy remaining to access this gift of fire that burns from our ancestral roots.  Then feed it with your tenacity.

Meet yourself; the naked, vulnerable, and bruised warrior that has been living in your skin since the dawn of time and hear the lesson that has been whispering in your ear since you were born:  You are love.