Saturday, June 2, 2012

Swept Away

In a crowded parking lot of a Saturday afternoon shopping mall, you turned to me.
Your green eyes flashing, you stopped, you stared. You smiled.
While the traffic moved around us, you lowered your head to mine. Close enough for me to see the beautiful yellow striations in your eyes.
A smile rippled across your face, your fingers found their way into my hair, and then you kissed me.

The world fell away.

A passerby saw us, melded together on the pavement, and honked. Our lips spread into smiles under the weight of our love, and we laughed. It was everything. YOU are everything.

How I love to love you.

This is where I belong.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Swamp Water

Today. Today, today, TODAY.
Today, I am frustrated.
Today, I am lost in my own head.

I am frustrated that I still have these days. These days of murky headed muddiness, where the world comes to me through strained pond water. I long for fresh air, but I feel like I just keep breathing silt. Yesterday I was on top of the world. You and I giggled like co-conspirators while we lazed between cool sheets and drank coffee from a single cup. Your green eyes were clear, full of love and mirth, easy to read and to respond to. I felt safe, happy, loved. All the things you bring to my everydays. Today I couldn't do it.

You are still you, and you were still you while we shared space. Your green eyes were the same, but my messages are all mixed up, like there is a misfiring somewhere in my brain. You asked me if I was okay, and I could only say yes. Truthfully, when you are here, I AM okay - even today. Nothing is stronger than you - and I am thankful. But all too soon you were gone, and I was left with this sagging heart in a boggy chest. Swampy.

I tried all the tricks. I played the puppet, smiling, laughing, moving around - but soon I got all caught up in the strings. I plucked away at the guitar, and found some peace. Then there was you, with all your beauty and love, raining down on my battered frame. Your key. Our heart. So perfect. Your words rescued me from near implosion. A few hours later, the darkness found its roots again. Even the sun will not chase it away.

I am frustrated - I feel like sometimes those old demons keep me on the short leash. I don't want to, I don't want them. I want to feel like I did yesterday - INVINCIBLE and WHOLE. But I only feel damaged and destructive. My mind goes after itself, spinning reality into misconception, belief into impossibility, value into tarnish. I feel like I am up to my knees in this swamp and I can't find the exit.

I want to go back to that night, not too long ago. I want to be wrapped in your arms in the darkness, listening as you fall into an easy sleep. I want to hear the sounds of your slumber quieting my thoughts, feel the strength of your body curled around me. For hours. I want to wake up to find  you pulling me back, close to you, into you. I feel like I need to hold on to something, before the mud sucks me down. I want to stop being haunted by all this old garbage.

Please hold my soul... My hands are tired and my fingers are slipping.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dragons Be Damned

Being the person I used to be, meant that I could trust no one. And nothing. Strings were ALWAYS attached, and I always paid a price. Sometimes, that price was way too high. So I built the wall. I learned to work with bricks and mortar, with steel and padlock, and I built a space for my heart to live. I erected my fortress, I dug my moat - alone. I hung my hopes on the wall and left my soul in the dungeon, hiding behind my padlocks. Dragons be damned -  no one, and no thing - would ever singe me again.

When your life turns you inside out, it changes you. When it happens again and again, you stop noticing. You learn to live with your insides showing, walking through the world raw and bleeding, and forgetting that you were ever whole in the first place. And each elbow, each poke, each word falling on your back, feels like a razor blade. It cuts swiftly and cleanly through the softest parts of you, deep inside where the light doesn't shine. When it happens again and again, you wear the scars like a suit of armor.

You're left with a feeling of difference. And indifference. The world starts to feel like something that happens on the other side of the glass, and you walk alone in the quiet. Its safer here, where no connections are made, no risks are taken, no voices are heard but for those inside your head. And you fool yourself into thinking you can trust those. You begin to see that it will always be this way, YOU will always be this way - a disconnected spectator, listening only to the traumas inside you.

And when you get stuck up in your own head, when things are really dark and hopeless, you pull up the drawbridge and hide away. You get stuck staring at the moth-eaten hopes rotting behind the glass, counting the wounds, and listening to the screaming. It is endless. And brutal.

And then this thing happened. And I didn't see it coming, and I am STILL learning what it means. I came across another soul on my side of the glass, and I could see we are the same. You are inside out and tattered, worn through in some places, dark and tortured, and exactly like me. You get it. I see your armor. You wear it and never seem to notice its weight. You love and you hate with the same fervent passion. It is all or nothing. And suddenly WE are SOMETHING. You bring with you all the colours of the world.

Yesterday I was under siege. I was locked in the darkness with my anxieties and worries, bleeding on the outside and charred on the in. I rushed to do what I always have - pull up the bridge and hit lockdown. Switch off the sound and hide. And then your face appeared in the closing spaces. You knew what was happening and you came, even though I did not ask. You hurried. You rescued. And for the first time - I gave you MY key.

I learned what it meant to be able to count on someone yesterday. To know you can trust that. Never again will I have to be locked in my world alone. You earned the key. I promise that I will always let you in - that this drawbridge STAYS down.

Dragons be damned.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Million Little Pieces

It took 31 years to scatter them. High and low, under and over, and sometimes around. Some in the darkest places in the universe, and others down the toilet. Pieces lie in the sunshine, curling under the drying morning dew. Others lie broken, ground under heels into the cracks in the pavement. I feared that some were certainly lost forever.
It took 16 months to gather them all. To sit quietly, thoughtfully, and purposefully fit them together. Some snapped in place immediately, some needed coaxing to nestle into the next, work we poured over together in whispers.
When I needed another try, you patiently dropped another piece into the palm of my hand with a smile. Some reassurance. Some love. When I needed a break you pushed our work aside and just held me while I trembled. When I grew afraid you propped me up, and gently turned my face to the image. To see what you saw, and not the yesterdays.
But when I looked up from my work, you had gone. I didn't know it, but the hourglass had run out. All I had left was this outline of me, a big hole where my heart should be. Those pieces are missing.
You had them in your pocket...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where To Find Myself

I've been sitting here in the sunshine. The music plays in the background, the words parade across the page, but my heart is elsewhere.
Despite the warmth of the sun on my cheek, I don't feel real. It feels burnt and somehow, decidedly not mine. Not anyone's.
The breeze blows shadows across the walls and they remind me of memories I have lost. Objects just out of my periphery, taunting me with their impossible closeness. Their darkness. My losses.
Voices seem hollow, missing the notes that mean something. Missing the life, the joy, the love I once found hidden in their richness. Paper thin.
I am lost somewhere in my head, in the dusty corners with no windows. It is suffocating and old, the stench of decay for the things I have forgotten overpowering. And though I reach for it, no hand closes around mine.
Where are the colours?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Turning Grief Inside Out - Reviewing Claire Bidwell Smith's "The Rules of Inheritance"

I have had the opportunity to participate in the BlogHer book review campaign and had the pleasure of reading "The Rules of Inheritance" by Claire Bidwell Smith. I read it cover to cover in one afternoon and am pleased to share my thoughts with you all!

The Rules of Inheritance is an honest portrayal of a girl finding her way, and her self, through grief. Bidwell Smith uses Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief to section out her memoir and organize her life events and thoughts according to the grieving process. Through denial, anger, bargaining, and acceptance, Claire tells the story of a girl struggling to define herself by the loss of her mother. The chapters provide a cross-section of Claire's life and sense of self, opening rabbit-holes for the reader to gaze into. At first, this seems to chop up the narrative, bringing the reader to peer across decades of Claire's life as if through a keyhole. However, as the book progresses, there is a masterful deliberateness in Bidwell Smith's vignettes that showcase both a life of chaos and rebellion, and a childlike yearning for a mother gone. It reminds us that life, like grief, is not linear or static.

This memoir is one of the most honest accounts of a daughter's grief, at times even uncomfortable in it's bluntness. Claire expresses a revulsion for her mother's dry, gray, cracked and dying body - yet also a desire to be able to relieve her suffering. Claire at once wants to rub Vaseline on her mother's cracked lips and to run away from the sight of this dying monster. The juxtaposition of her avoidance to witness the death of her mother and her almost compulsion to witness the death of her father, maps years of growth from child to woman. In caring so carefully for her father in his final months, Claire also finally allowed herself to process the loss of her mother. Bidwell Smith's treatment of these memories is poignant, and heartbreakingly beautiful.

Claire Bidwell Smith peppers what could be a very dark and heavy memoir with lighter moments, funny anecdotes from fumbling relationships or silly mistakes that everyone experiences on their paths through life. These serve to shift the focus from death to life, to the impossibility of finding yourself when you are most lost. One night stands, failed relationships, self-loathing, anger and fear come crashing together in Claire's life just as her father is dying. It is in that death that she truly finds herself, that she stops trying desperately to define herself as different, and find sameness through bereavement.

Bidwell Smith uses the fifth and final stage of grief - acceptance - as a turning point in Claire's search for herself. In the loss of her father Claire finds a life for herself, and a way to reconcile the child, woman, mother, and orphan inside of her. This book is a beautiful portrayal of a lost girl who found womanhood by sitting with her grief. Bidwell Smith writes with a fluidity, almost conversationally, in complete thoughts and observations, yet so astoundingly real and from the heart that the reader feels like a witness to her rebirth. A must read for anyone interested in turning the inner workings of the mind inside out, and finding broken perfection within.

**This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, however the thoughts and opinions expressed within are my own**

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It's hard to believe.
What happened to you, happened to me.

Today was just another Hallmark holiday. One I have always had a particular hatred for. Black Tuesday is what I would have called it. A day of forced romantic notions, cliche gestures and society approved affection. It has never gone well for  me, either ignored or ending very badly. Sometimes it came so thick with fake declarations that I almost choked on them, ending the night horribly with the bitter taste of almost in the back of my throat. Lies and red roses. Two things I really never had the stomach for.

But then you came crashing into my soul and turned my world upside down. On our first Valentine's Day I asked you to be my UN-Valentine. That was as far as I was willing to go. It was the first time I didn't want to claw my eyes out at the sight of pink and red hearts. But I was also very willing to keep mine under black wraps. It was before you knew how to push on my edges.

Somewhere along the line you found the door. It is hard to say whether I opened it for you, or if you tumbled into my damaged heart with your wounds bleeding. Our wounds bleeding.

I cannot say anymore that I am the woman you fell into. My perceptions have changed. I have changed. You dug up those old worry stones inside of me and gave me a locked room to examine them. You have shown me what I could never see, the value of my shattered life and the beauty in my broken-ness. That scars are not something to hide, but a map to run your fingers across. That in all of that pain, there is pleasure to be taken away. That I am not alone. And somehow, will never be again. There is a wholeness in that notion that is beyond expression.

Today we shared another rip in time, skin to skin. Our hearts beat so close to the surface now that I can see the tremors against the skin. There is no fear, only us. Wide open and heart-breakingly beautiful. Your skin smelled like spring, like the first fresh breeze on a sunny day. Like the freedom I have so desperately wanted to claim for my own. Like hope. And I cried.

Today you are my Valentine. You came to me to celebrate who we are, not some cliche ideal. You did not bring roses that I despise, you gave me boxes of my favorite coffee. You did not bring me empty verses on a cardboard promise, you spoke to the beauty that is US. I laid my hand against your chest so that I could FEEL your words reverberate inside me. Low and rich tones that hold all my tomorrows intact. We loved today like we love every day-fiercely, truly, wholly.

I am not the woman you fell into. I am a better woman for ever having you in my life. Your love has healed what I thought forever broken and made me fearless. I give to you my everything sweet man, not only on this day, but for all of my days. Until there is no more in this life, or any other.

Happy Valentine's Day my love... yesterday, today and always.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Until There IS No More

Today I am guest posting at The Mindstorm, where the lovely Chrisa has given me a space to discuss the challenges of raising a child with mental illness. Come and give it a read!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Pocket Full of Thistles

It was one of those moments. You know the ones, when you are flying through life with a pocket full of promises and a head full of dreams. It is always those moments that steal your breath with dizzying happiness, when your hair blows in the wind from the roots and your soul whispers your most secret hopes to your heart. It is always when you are caught up in the expanse of life - when you can see clearly the endless blue sky - when your feet are solidly planted one in front of the other - that something turns. Suddenly everything seems different, although you cannot put your finger on it. Something has shifted beneath your weight, knocking you off balance.

It is funny how something can look so completely different when you only turn it over in your hand. A slight flick of the wrist. The thing is, you really never know what you'll find on the underside. Good, bad or indifferent. Now I know that some people resist looking for the other side of things. Some prefer the silver lining, others thrive in the tarnish. I've always thought myself to be one who considers all sides. Who contemplates across the landscape. I really do not know if I intentionally refused to turn over the penny, or if I really thought I had. If ever a Wiz there was, indeed. Like milk down the paper funnel, perceptions slip through my fingers into nothing.

No matter how many times I reach into the top hat, I come up empty handed. No solid truths, and no damn bunny. Ever.

I unwittingly stumbled into the thistles, and I've been trying to ease them out of my skin ever since. Like a jumble of life size puzzle pieces, I've been pushing on the sides and trying to make them fit into a logic. I tell myself that I am not invested in the actual truth, but like a scientist, interested only in the process of making one fit. But deep down I know that isn't true. It can't be.

It can only be part of the process, because eventually, I will have to view the bigger picture it creates. And I will have to draw some conclusion. I will have to decide if somewhere in the bricks I place; heavy, unyielding, and real; there is room for a door.

And if there is, whether it is an entrance, or an exit?

If anyone is looking for me, I'll be under the oak tree, pulling on the threads to that magic curtain and waiting for the big reveal.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Last Year

Last night I read over the story of us. I traced the patterns of our words, the progression of our thoughts, and measured the distance of how hard we fell. You promised you would catch me, and at every juncture I see your arms cradled around my heart.

I fingered the old wounds we came with, now scarred over. They are the raised ribbons of the years without each other. They are a matched set. Like bookends, we mirror those hurts in each other. We see beneath the lined surface and understand that there is healing left to be done. With patience born of a thousand traumas, we spread our hands over our broken hearts and allow the circuit between us to form new beginnings.

How many times have we started over? I can see the stairs we have climbed, some leapt over in our reckless rush to each other, some tripped over painfully. Each time we have lifted our feet, we have moved together towards tomorrow, hands clasped and hearts smashing. Each time our feet landed, they crushed fear, anxiety, and old demons under our toes. And sometimes, one of us fell down. Always, ALWAYS, the other has sat patiently on that step, fingers outstretched to help the other find their way back. We cannot leave one another behind. We are old soulmates in broken bodies. Never again will we be abandoned or betrayed.

We have raised each other from the ashes time and time again, twisted and turned shards of each other into complete masterpieces. We developed the ability to look past the beautiful green irises and see the soul that lies beneath. We talk with our mouths, our skins, our hearts, and our souls. Sometimes we speak without words, and sometimes this is the greatest gift of all. There is great peace that comes with sharing one thought, one understanding, one worry between us.

I didn't know love before I knew you. I knew you before I can remember. You are my all, my everything. My past, present and future belongs to you.

With you.

In you.