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Lies

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.”

Ron Paul

One thing I have learned in life is this:  we lie.  Often.  And sometimes for no reason.  We human beings have a very hard time telling the truth.

We have reasons.  Or we convince ourselves we do.  If not reasons, excuses.  Very good excuses.

A lot of the time, we tell “white lies,” as if lies could ever be good.  Wrapped up in niceness.  Lies meant to spare the feelings of the person we deceive.  Or to gently let us off the hook.  Kind lies.

At times, we lie because we’re afraid to speak the truth.  We fear rejection, repercussions, ridicule.  We betray our heart and thoughts to protect ourselves from pain.  We hold our cards close and cringe at our duplicity.

Many lie because they seek to shift blame or to avoid consequences.  We know we deserve condemnation, but we don’t want to have to pay the price.  Thus begins the deception.  We tell ourselves we aren’t truly guilty.  But we know.  We know what we’ve done.  Yet we do everything we can to talk our way out of it, even if it means making someone else look as if they are responsible.  Letting them take the fall.  If we have a conscience left, we may feel bad for a few days.  If not, if our conscience has been destroyed by our selfishness and narcissistic views, we may not give those lies a second thought.

A handful have become pathological liars, being dishonest even when the truth would benefit them.  They have somehow lost the ability to speak factually, or to know the truth, or both.  While compulsive liars are motivated by the desire to paint themselves in a favorable light, pathological liars habitually lie, typically to gain attention or sympathy.  They weave stories that are grandiose or fantastic in scope, making themselves the heroes or victims of the stories they concoct.

“The closer to the truth, the better the lie, and the truth itself, when it can be used, is the best lie.”

Isaac Asimov

We all lie, whatever our reasons, however frequently or infrequently.  At some point, we take a grain of truth and weave a story around it that is full of fiction.  A tapestry.  Sometimes others believe us.  Sometimes they don’t.   But we stand on the grain of truth encased in the falsehood, insisting we are being honest as we try to sell our tale based on the tiny sliver of reality we’ve buried at the core of it all.  We sell it to ourselves first, refusing to look our falsehood in the eye.  We tell it to ourselves again and again until we can no longer discern where the truth ends and the fabrication begins.

Of all the lies we tell, we tell our biggest lies are not told to others, but to ourselves.  In fact, we lie most frequently not to someone else, but to ourselves.  We don’t even need to speak the words.  We whisper them in our own ear time and time again.  Until finally, we believe wholeheartedly.  And those lies becomes our reality.

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
Soren Kierkegaard

The biggest lies I tell myself were taught to me when I was young and impressionable, perhaps by parents who were pathological liars, selfish, narcissistic and hell-bent on making themselves look like the hero.  “You’re such a disappointment.”  “You could be pretty if only…” If only I was thin.  If only my hair was blonde.  If only I would dress a certain way.  “You’re so much trouble; you’re too needy.”  “People would like you more if you would smile.  Stop being so serious.”  “Be quiet and stop bothering me!”  “You’re not the kind of person we hoped you would be. “  “You can do anything you want…well, not that…or that…”  You’re not (fill in the blank).  You aren’t going to amount to anything.  You’re not good enough.  You’re a failure.  You’re not easy to like.   You were supposed to…but you’ve let us down.

They were abusive in may ways.  The way they used their words has greatly contributed to my destruction.

Their displeasure stacked up.  Walls built with pain as mortar.  Built word upon word.  Disappointment upon disappointment.  Rejection upon rejection.  Demand upon demand.  Unfulfilled expectation upon unfulfilled expectation.  Each one of them a poison dart to the heart.  They told me how worthless, unlovable and unacceptable I was.  And I believed their lies.

At least, I hope they were lies.

“The lies we tell other people are nothing to the lies we tell ourselves.”

Derek Landy, Death Bringer

I read the words of the Bible, telling me God loves me; that He doesn’t reject me. Loves me so much He died for me.  But I hear the words my parents spoke over me and I cannot believe this thing called love is real.  I can’t grasp the concept nor believe love could ever be given to me.  That I would be worthy of it; not have to earn every morsel and scrap tossed in my direction.  I have lived nearly a lifetime without it.  How can it be true when it violates what I was trained to believe and what I have experienced throughout the years I have walked upon this planet?  I have learned to be content with tolerance.  Being tolerated has become for me what being loved is to most.

Though I know logically I can’t be the one exception to what God has spoken, my heart cannot accept this truth.  The lie has become who I am.

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”

Pearl Strachan Hurd

The atom bombs my parents dropped on the flourishing landscape of my soul when I was a child laid waste to all that was good, blooming, and becoming.  My soil was made radioactive and so it remains.  Nothing grows but the words with which they bombarded me.  I ceased to be a living soul and became what they spoke over me.  Their words have shaped me and my destiny.  I have carried them with me every moment of each day and they pepper my dreams as I sleep each night.  I haven’t been able to recover.  I believed their words.

They told me I was nothing and nothing I became.

The lies have become the truth.  The truth has become the lie.  And all that might have been has been was wiped away as if it never was.

 

Buds That Never Bloom

Summer has surrendered to fall, vanquished to memories of warmth, laughter and light.  Darkness and dampness have taken over, heralding in a regime of cold drizzle, shorter days and longer nights.  The times are changing along with the bright colors boldly displayed by dying leaves.  Leaves that refuse to give up without a fight.

I walked around my yard this past weekend, watching my dogs happily running and playing together.  I have many Rose of Sharon in my yard, hearty bushes that do well in the heat or cold, seemingly thriving on neglect.  I am not good with plants.  I can only coexist with those who do not need me.  Thus, we have made peace.  They bloom profusely from late spring through early fall in spite of me.  Often, branches heavily laden with buds and flowers have to be tied up to keep them from bowing their heads almost to the ground.  They provide food and shelter to bumblebees, hummingbirds and butterflies.  I enjoy their pastel blossoms, the way they dress up, flaunting their stylish beauty all summer long.

But toward the end of the season, during the early fall, they remove their colorful garb.  Buds, the next generation flowers that outwardly appear ready to pop open, further weigh those branches down.  Now, only random, rare florets appear.  One or two on a bush, spaced far apart in both time and distance.  Some bushes without blossoms are completely filled with weighty buds.  They struggle with this substantial burden, severely stooped beneath a heaviness of sadness and despair.

Winter is coming all too soon.

The buds turn yellow; then brown.  Loaded with potential.  But something has gone wrong.  The conditions are never adequate for the delicate petals to break free of the outer shell that entombs them.  They don’t receive some critical ingredient needed to flourish.  Needed to thrive.

I stare, awestruck.   Transfixed.  Broken.

I am like the bud on that slender branch.  So much potential.  I was born to be a glorious flower.  I had two parents, branches who gave birth to me.  But the things I needed to blossom were not available.  I did not receive the nurture, the care, that was needed for me to grow and bloom.  And so, as time passed, I slowly died.

Instead of nurturing sap, I was abused.  Instead of encouraging warmth from the sun, I was burned and fried.   Instead of guidance, I was left to navigate harsh weather and changing seasons alone.  I tried.  I tried to bloom anyway.  I had the potential to do , to become, to be something beautiful.  But I was never able to overcome the deficiencies or escape the labels and limitations placed on me during a critical stage of development.  I was never able to break free and dance in the wind.  I was never beautiful.  I was but a bud that dried up and fell, providing no joy or entertainment.  A disappointment, hard and defective.

I am a bud that never bloomed.  That never will.

I wanted to become a flower.  I wanted to break from the walls encasing me and taste sweet, glorious freedom.  I wanted to bloom.  To live.  To flourish.

But it is too late.  Frost nipped me in the bud.  And as winter approaches, I crack, turn dead brown and shrivel until little of the young, green sprout remains.  I am without life or beauty, grieving all the possibilities that will never be and dreams never realized.  I will not bloom.  And when spring comes, I will quietly fall from the newly wakened branch to which I’ve long clung, letting go of my last tiny ember of hope.  Thus, I will return to the dust from which I came.  I will depart without fanfare, making room for new tender buds that are yet to sprout, to bloom, to dance on gentle breezes, to flourish and thrive long after I have gone.

 

 

The Interview

She came for an interview today.  Arrived a proper 5 minutes early, waiting in the car until just the right moment.  She was young.  Very young and slightly awkward socially.  Care had been taken with her outfit; she had done a lot with the little she had, dressing up inexpensive, worn pieces with a scarf, intricately woven and tied neatly around her neck.  Her gratitude over being considered for our open position was obviously heart-felt.  She didn’t have any of the required experience and she knew it.  Nothing to offer but willing hands.  And her hands were shaking.

As we began to talk, it quickly became obvious she was not a typical carefree young person.  Clearly, she was not like her average peers.  I could feel her fear and struggle over what to share.  Over how to share it while still being honest.  How to phrase her thoughts without causing a potential employer to immediately reject her.  Her voice trembled slightly.  Hands held in her lap remained tightly clasp.  Her back, ram-rod straight.  Her feet were placed tightly together and were positioned side-by-side flat on the floor.  Though she tried to make steady eye contact, she faltered.  She would look at me for a moment, after which her expressive eyes fell quickly back to the table sitting between us.

Her only job experience had been accumulated while working for her parents in a string of unrelated business ventures that evidently failed with some degree of regularity.  She had worked hard at those jobs.  Cleaning stadiums.  Cutting down trees with a chainsaw.  Securing the trees by ropes placed to ensure they fell in the right direction.  I found it difficult to imagine her even lifting a chainsaw, much less using one, especially considering her slight build and tiny arms.  But she spoke with knowledge hard won.  The knowledge of someone who had been there, had done the work and survived to tell the tale.

Her family formed a band, a musical group, playing in a small geographic region, disbanding at the point when they were finally being recognized.  She wrote songs for the group and sang them from her heart.  Her dream was to reach someone.  To touch them deeply.  I thought of all the songs I wrote when I was younger.  How we shared the same dream.  Exactly the same dream, her words an echo of my own.

She was unlike me.  So unlike me in many ways.  Yet so very much like me in other glaring and significant ways.

Her father viewed her as his property.  She was not permitted to do anything outside his authority and he didn’t respect her as an individual.  As a person.  She had to obey.  He demanded it.  Demanded she do as she was told.  Work hard.  Contribute.  Submit.  The only time she was heard was when she had an idea that would ultimately save him money.  These kinds of ideas were permissible.  Ideas about what constituted right and wrong or what was fair were not permissible.  She was his to use.

So unlike me.  So unlike me in some ways.  But so very like me in many profound aspects.

She doesn’t know “being loved.”  She doesn’t know what it feels like to be protected.  Cherished.  Simply for who she is; not what she does.  She doesn’t know she matters.

Two months ago, she broke free, flew away, and is now trying to get a foothold so she can begin to work her way forward to the starting line.  The place where “normal” people begin their journey in life.  She’s clawing for something to grab hold of.  Trying to sort through the mess she sees in her mind when she looks inside herself.  She’s trying to understand.  To figure out what to keep and what to toss away.  Trying to put all the pieces together, in hopes her soul will miraculously have prevailed.

Oh, God.  So like me in so many of the terrible details.

As we talked, I felt my eyes growing moist.  I fought the urge, staying focused on business.  The job we were filling.  The requirements.  Her ability to fulfill those requirements.  But, as I walked her to the door, I did something I have never done in my 30-year career.  I encouraged her to seek help and support.  Now, while she is young.  Now.  Because it can change the course of her life.  Because no one can rebuild themselves alone.  No one can do it without love.  Without finding a place and a person of safety.

And then, I gave her the precious words my grandmother gave me when I was a child of six, sharing my very first poem with her.  I told her to never stop writing.  I told her I had also had a rough start.  That writing had saved my life so many times when it was all I had…and I found it to be enough.  Writing pulled me through.  So, I told her to never, never, never stop writing.  To never let that go.

She began to cry quietly, fighting it, as was I.  With tears in our eyes, we hugged, holding each other for a long time.  And as I held her, she repeated over and over again, “You understand.  You know.”

Yes, little bird, you who finally found your wings.  Who survived and now has flown away at last.  I know.  I do know.  With every fiber of my being, I know.  And I will do whatever I can to lift you up so you can eventually fly further and higher than I have ever been able to soar.

Sleeping With Dogs

I have two of them. Two dogs.  Miniature Schnauzers, both.  Salt and pepper.  They came from the same breeder, though from different lines and they are the reason I get up every morning.  Really, really early.  Every single morning.

I am connected to them in ways I cannot explain; in ways I cannot connect with human beings.  They have a very special place deep within my heart.  One of them actually sleeps over my heart with her head resting on my neck, her nose tucked behind my ear.  The other sleeps nestled tightly to my side, her head laying on my stomach.  I love them so much, it hurts.

They adore me.  They furiously wiggle their butts and cropped little tails, jumping with unconstrained excitement when I come home from work.  They are a bright light in my dark and lonely world.  My reason for being. Their pint-sized hearts pump pure love into my life.  They make me laugh.  They give me a reason to smile.

Yet, it baffles me, this connection I have with them, these furry, four-legged, wonderful little creatures.  I am baffled by this meaningful bond that I can’t seem to forge with even one person who populates this planet.  It comes so naturally with them.  Why with dogs, but not people?  It baffles me mightily.

The oldest just turned 11.  The younger will be 6 in January.  Every second I have with them is becoming more and more precious.  I am aware time is running out.  That there will come a day when they no longer greet me at the door, wiggling furiously with joy.  And when their light goes out, my world will be far darker and fearfully empty.  My eyes will be filled with tears when my sweet girls no longer fill my heart with laughter.

I hold their warm bodies, count their soft breaths, feel their hearts  as they steadily beat next to mine.  It amazes me that they are autonomous, perfectly formed beings who carry within them the breath of life.  Their brains think independently.  They have their own unique personalities.  Their distinct likes, dislikes, quirks, needs and funny little ways of doing things.  I am overwhelmed by the miracle of them.  I am amazed at their innocence and vulnerability.  They are all in.  They are all mine.  And I am theirs.

I sleep with dogs.  Every night.  I hold them gently in my arms and in my heart.  I would rather die than hurt them.  I would do anything to protect them.

I would like to have a deep and strong connection with a human being.  A connection at least as deep and meaningful as the one I have with my four-legged children.  Not instead of the connection I have with my furry girls.  But along with, as well as, in addition to.  I want the other side of the bed to be used.  I want to listen to a person breathe as they lay beside me.  Feel their heart beat next to mine.  Marvel at their distinct personality and the miracle that makes them who they are.  Feel their breath on my cheek.  Sleep cuddled in their arms.  I want to belong by their side.  In their soul.

I long for someone to be delighted to see me when I come home.  And to be sorry to see me go.

I haven’t many more years with my oldest.  It terrifies me…the thought of her leaving.  There isn’t a thing I can do to avoid what is coming.  Dogs don’t live that long.  We are forced to let them go far too soon.  Even the younger one will be gone in the blink of an eye.

But when the eldest leaves me behind, I will have loved her well and hard and fully.  I will have known her, every odd little quirk.  All the contours of her soft, sturdy body.  I will have held her, physically and with every fiber of my mind and being, enjoyed her, cared for her, been bound to her.  She will always be a part of me.  She has given me a treasure that I will hold tight and never let go, no matter how many years pass after she is no longer lying faithfully beside me each night.  She will break my heart, even as she fills it.  I will never stop loving her.

I listen to them both snore softly as they rest upon me.  They trust me.  They know I will watch over them.  They know we are connected.  They are peaceful, without fear, because they are safe in my embrace.  We are content together.  We can plunge into deep slumber without distress or worry when we are snuggled together as one.

I sleep with dogs.  I bond with them.  I connect with them though I can’t connect with humans.  I am a stranger among my own species.  With those who are my kind.  But here, with my dogs, with their soft bodies cuddling mine, I am home.  And though I ache for want of more, I am eternally grateful to be the one who gets to hold their soft little paws in my hand as they warm me during the long, solitary nights.

 

Mixed Messages

The world is confusing.  It is especially so for a young child.  Antennas are fully extended.  Nothing is understood.  Everything is happening quickly and it’s being assimilated, sorted, processed and classified just as swiftly.  A massive amount of information is being filed away in their vulnerable heart.  In their curious mind.  Coming to conclusions.  They are feeling their way along. Trying to avoid anything that explodes newly laid foundations.  Trying to avoid anything that is too scary or painful.  Trying to chew before swallowing.

They listen to the words adults fling back and forth around them.  The adults who are parenting them.  Who matter the most.  Those words they speak carry much weight.  Much more weight than the words of others…at least while they are young.  They listen.  Catch those words.  Ponder them.  And learn.

Yet, actions speak louder than words.  Which is why confusion descends, wrapping them in a thick, unrelenting fog.

Sometimes, the mixed messages cause so much dissonance, the child fractures.

“We love you so much!”  But in the dead of the night, the daddy sneaks quietly into her room and uses her as a living, breathing sex toy.  Or the mother slaps her and drags her by her long hair because she didn’t complete every chore on a 2-page list between the time she got off school and when her mother arrived home from work.

“We prayed for a little girl just like you!”  But her brother is the one who gets dental care, who is taken to the doctor when he is sick, who doesn’t even have to do chores.

“If only you would…lose weight, make better grades, smile, be more popular, clean the house without being asked, like the clothes I want to wear…”  “If only you had…blonde hair, a better personality, a prettier face, slimmer legs, a smaller butt…”  There are lots of “if only” messages.  If only, then we could love you, accept you, like you, be proud of you, want you.

We love you…if only.  We love you, but oh, you’re not as mature as we thought you were.  You’re not as resourceful as we thought you were.  You’re not as worthwhile, valuable, nice, pretty, smart…as we thought you were, thought you should be, wanted you to be, expected you to be, needed you to be.

We needed you to be so much more.

We love you…you were supposed to fulfill our dreams and meet our every need, make our life wonderful and make us happy.  Instead…you’re too much trouble, too much work, you’re a disappointment, you’re a failure, you’re making things harder for me, you need too much, you aren’t doing everything we want you to do, you’re not acting like we want you to act, you’re not performing up to standard, you’re not living up to our expectations…

We love you.  We hit you because you deserve it.  We abuse you because we own you. Because you owe it to us to make us happy. We reject you.  Your needs don’t matter.  We love you.  Smile, dammit!  Do what I say.  Don’t tell anyone.  Don’t look at me like that!  What do you want from me?  We love you.  Not now.  Leave me alone.  I have too many problems of my own to deal with without having to think about you.  You’re not making my life better.  Or easier.  What’s wrong with you?  You’re so fat!  Clean your plate!  I don’t care what you need.  Or what you think.  Clean the house.  Keep the secrets.  We love you.  Do you know how expensive it is to go to the doctor!  You had better be sick enough to justify all that money being spent on you!  Mow the grass.  Clean out the refrigerator.  Mop the floor.  Dust the paneling.  Clean the kitchen.  Vacuum.  Wash the windows.  Make me whole.  Make me feel good about myself and how I’m doing as a parent.  Fix my life.  Why can’t you be more like her?  You’re making us look bad.  Keep your mouth shut.  We love you.  How dare you!  You’re so disappointing.  We can’t be bothered.  Go to your room.  We love you.

The child tries.  Tries to sort through the words.  Tries to comprehend the meaning of what they are saying.  These very important people who are shaping them. Tries to make sense of their actions.  Tries to get the pieces to fit together.  Tries to find a way to make it make sense.

“Love” is nothing more than rejection hiding behind sweet words.  It is abuse, using, hitting.  It means being tolerated if you remain silent.  If you perform to standard.  Yet the standard is constantly changing for the bar is steadily moved higher when you come close to succeeding. You have to earn it, this thing called love.  And the price is high.

Being loved means being judged and found lacking.  It means having no value or worth.

It is the only way to get the mixed messages to fit into one coherent concept.  It is the only way to resolve the distortion, the startling clash between opposing perspectives.  It is the only way those opposing perspectives can exist together in the same room.  Or be spoken with the same breath.

For the other alternative, the one that CAN’T BE TRUE NO MATTER WHAT is that what they are showing you, what they are doing to you, what they are asking of you and demanding from you…isn’t actually love…at all.

Can’t See It

I was watching that You Tube video again…the one about the blind man sitting on the concrete walkway with his little cardboard sign, begging for money.  He is getting a minimal response: a coin here and there, but certainly not even enough to buy him a cup of coffee. 
Then a well-dressed woman stops, picks up his sign, rewrites it, sits it back down beside him and walks on. 
And suddenly everything changes.
People walking by pause; read.  And they give him money. Quite a bit of money.  He has no idea what is causing them to respond with such generosity.  He’s clearly amazed.  After a long successful day of begging, he recognizes the footsteps and feels the shoes of the lady when she stops in front of him again. He asks her what she did to his sign.  She tells him she simply said the same thing he had said, but differently. 
She has reworded the sign to read, “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.”
(In case you haven’t seen the video:  Blind Man Begging)
I’m looking out my living room window as I type this.  It’s a beautiful day.  But I can’t see it.
No, I’m not blind.  Not physically blind, anyway.  But I am emotionally blind.  My soul is blind.  My heart is blind.  Because I’m so depressed, no matter what good there might be right in front of me, I can’t see it very well.  Not really.  Everything is completely overshadowed by a bleak, gloomy, gray film that cloaks my world.  I’m shrouded in a thick fog that hides the sunlight and prevents me from recognizing much of anything positive.  The fog covers my thoughts, my soul, and it is everywhere.  Depression does that to a person.  It sucks all the beauty and life out of one’s existence.  It makes me blind.
I truly do try to find beauty in the small things.  At this moment, one of my Schnauzers (Zoe) is laying on my legs, dozing, content, snoring lightly.  The other (Hannah) is happily chewing a stuffed toy on my lap, secure, safe, adored.  I love them both fiercely.  I take pleasure in them.  They are one of the few pinpoints of happiness I experience and they motivate me to get up in the morning…and to continue to live.   It’s not as if each day doesn’t hold some good.
Birds do sing outside my window.
Inside, I am alone.  I am surrounded by silence…except when Zoe and Hannah alert me to a bird flying by, a squirrel in the yard or to the arrival of my mail.  Or perhaps a rabbit has invaded their yard.  Mostly, I listen to the refrigerator hum.  The heater kicking on and off.  A jet as it flies overhead on the way to some distant airport.  The keys of my computer click and the hard drive hums quietly.  Occasionally, sirens wail as the fire trucks or ambulance rush by on the main road closest to my house.  At certain times of the day, I can hear a low, muted roar from distant traffic. There is no laughter.  No conversation.  The click of doggie toenails on the tile or their paws as they pad on the carpet behind me are the only other footsteps in my life.  There is no hand reaching out for mine.  No welcome hugs.  Excited dogs bring much needed life to my otherwise bleak reality.  I try to make that be enough.
My reality threatens to swallow me whole.  I fight the darkness.  I want to see.  I want to live.  But life laughs in my face and runs away into the fog.  It remains always just out of my reach.  So elusive.  Unattainable.  It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.  I can’t reach it.  Can’t touch it.  There is so much pain.  So much brokenness.  So many regrets.
It’s a beautiful day.  But I am alone.  It’s a beautiful day.  But I am without hope.  Without connections.  Terrified.  It’s a beautiful day.  But my soul has been nearly destroyed by childhood abuse and rejection.  By isolation.  It’s a beautiful day, but my heart is heavy, shattered, hurting.  I am unloved.  Unwanted.  It’s a beautiful day, but I have nothing to look forward to.  More struggles.  More loss.  More pain.  It’s a beautiful day, but I can’t see it.  My eyes strain to find the beauty.  I try to make the tiny things big enough to give me a reason to go on.  Yet I am overwhelmed by my wounds.  By emptiness.  By devastation. 
There is no magic pill for me.  Nothing alleviates the darkness of my world.  Nothing opens a door.  Nothing seems able to set me free. I have tried everything I know to try and done everything I know to do.  But still, I cannot see.
There is no way to write the sign in a nicer, prettier way; to say something profound that will evoke the help I need from those who pass through my shattered world.  My dilemma can’t be solved by coins tossed in a can.  Although the money would certainly help, no sum can solve my problems, allow me to escape this suffocating isolation or heal my broken heart.  The crowds pass me by without seeing me…as blind to my darkness and need as I am to the sunshine through which they walk.  We exist on different plains.  In different dimensions.  There is no portal through which I can cross over to the warmth and caring of their world.  No surgeon can repair the damage.  No psychiatrist or psychotherapist can put my fragmented soul back together again.  I haven’t any second chances.  No miracles appear to be waiting in the wings.  It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.  Can’t touch it.  Can’t get there from here.
There are things that could make a difference.  There are people who could as well.  But I don’t live in their world and they don’t want to believe in the existence of mine. It’s too harsh and cold in this place where I exist.  I would cause them too much inconvenience. Too much trouble.  I am never worth the effort.  The expense.  The love.  My flaws have robbed me of value.
I don’t mean to cast a dark shadow across their path. I don’t expect them to acknowledge me or throw a few coins in my direction.  No one has to read my sign as I sit, lost, empty, hurting.  I realize I am not their problem and they bear no responsibility here.  I am but a speck in the eye, easily blinked away.  The help I need is far beyond what most are capable of giving.
It’s a beautiful day.  I can’t see it.  I long to be set free.  But I can’t find the words that will magically make everything change.
 
 

Alone Again, Naturally

“…In my hour of need
I truly am indeed
Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that
there are more hearts
broken in the world
that can’t be mended

Left unattended
What do we do? What do we do?

 –Gilbert O’Sullivan – Alone Again (Naturally)–

In a couple of weekends, many of us who are fortunate enough to be off for Good Friday will have a holiday weekend.  A time when family and friends get together.  Share.  Connect. Relax.  Enjoy.  At least, that’s what genuine friends and healthy family members do to celebrate a holiday.  Close family.  Close friends.  It is a time to celebrate.  Together.

But I’m going to be alone.  Again.  Life happens all around me.  Not with me.  Not in me.

Most of my time after work is spent sitting on the couch with my dogs on my lap.  I am their bed.  Their protector.  I give them warmth.  They snuggle their noses under my hand and breathe heavily. They keep me company and I am glad they are with me.  But I am still very alone.  Again.  Naturally.  Just me and the dogs. 

I thank God for the dogs.

The TV plays endlessly.  I’m not watching.  Or even listening; not really.  It’s noise.  To keep me company.  To chase away the silence.  To distract me from the emptiness.

I feel so isolated.  So unwanted.   Life holds no meaning without connectedness.

The upcoming holiday is one that prompts us to reflect.  To reflect on the past.  To be grateful.  I remember.  But I do not want to remember.

The past holds no appeal.  It holds only pain and sadness. Abuse. Rejection.  Brokenness.  There is no hope there.  The past is the place of my demise.  The past is where I was destroyed. Fractured.  Fragmented.  Ground to dust.

But the future doesn’t hold hope either.  Only the promise of more of the same.  More rejection.  More pain.  More isolation.  More destruction.  More silence and emptiness.

I fought it.  I fought this fate.  But fate was not intimidated by me, nor impressed with my efforts to escape.  My past became my future became my past became my future.  A river with swift and dangerous currents that flow where they want.  Eroding the ground where I stand.  The currents sweep my feet out from under me and carry me away. 

I absently listen to the television playing endlessly.  Background noise.  I need the background noise. Distraction.

It has been rainy and it is predicted to be wet and gloomy over the holiday weekend.  I have been in this place before too many times.  I will watch the water painting rivulets down each window pane, my vision distorted; blurred.  I will try not to think about the emptiness of my life.  I will try to blur reality.  I will try to convince myself that what is isn’t.  But running takes energy and I’m almost completely drained.

I’ve been alone.  For too many days.  For too many years.  For too may decades.  It has been raining. For too many days.  For too many weeks.  I’ve been in pain.  For too many days and for too many long, sleepless nights.

They say more storms are coming.  Wind.   Violent weather.  My whole life has been a violent storm.  I have been alone through too many violent storms.  I am weary of the storms.  Of being battered and beaten by them.  I don’t know how many more storms I can face…alone.

Alone.  As I have been nearly every day of my life.  Alone.  In a vast universe.  A dot.  Nothing.   Alone. 

Life holds no meaning.  My life seems so empty…because it is empty.  I have tried to fill it up.  I have tried in vain.  My life, like the coming holiday, is hollow.  I am drowning in endless emptiness.   Desolate.

I talk in the silence to cover it with my words.  I turn on the TV.  I talk to my dogs.  I make noise to drive away the meaninglessness.  But nothing works.  Nothing.  I pretend.  I ignore.  I discard reality.  Deny.   But in spite of my pretense, there is one fact I can’t escape.  I am alone again.  As always.  I am alone and disconnected.

Alone again.  Naturally.

I dance to the radio to make myself move.  To force my limbs to life.  I dance alone as my dogs watch me, amused by my wild contortions and seeming madness.  They grab their toys and run around me, shaking them viciously, happily squeaking squeakers.  I dance on.  Alone in the midst of their joy.  I twirl.  Alone. 

Beating back the silence. Trying to beat back the silence.  Always trying to escape the silence.  And the emptiness.  Always trying to fill this yawning void that can’t be filled.

Alone again, naturally.

 

 

 

It Doesn’t Matter What I Want

I have learned this lesson.  Time, experience and life events have conspired to teach me.  They have taught me well.  Very well.

It doesn’t matter what I want.

I wanted love.  To be loved.  To be with someone I loved.  To be with someone who loved me.  To deeply connect.  It doesn’t matter.  Love was obviously not in the plan for me. I don’t know why.  But I know it…all too well.  Love is not within my reach.  The thing I desire the most is not to be mine.

What have I learned from this?  It doesn’t matter what I want.

I wanted security.  A degree of financial security.  Enough.  Enough to make it without having to worry, to panic, to struggle paycheck to paycheck. I worked hard for this.  Had it snatched away again and again, in spite of my diligence and focus; in spite of going above and beyond time and time again.

I also wanted a degree of personal security.  A feeling of safety.  That the world was not against me.  That there is solid ground on which I can stand without fear of everything repeatedly falling out from under me.  But life doesn’t care.  It doesn’t matter what I want.

I wanted to not have to work quite so hard, especially by this point in life.  But even when I was younger, I dreamed of not have to perform so perfectly.  I longed for a degree of mercy…that which is normally extended to most human beings.  Of being accepted even if I didn’t live up to rigid, demanding standards.  I wanted to be acceptable just as I am.  Even if I didn’t do everything just exactly right.  But it doesn’t matter what I want.

I wanted meaning.  Purpose.  The ability to touch the heart of another and to be touched by their heart.  Closeness with others; vibrant relationships.  Fulfillment.  The ability to contribute in a meaningful way. Contentment.  I wanted a reason to be alive.  To stay alive.  But. But.  It doesn’t matter what I want.

I don’t know why.  I only know the truth of it.  What I want, no matter how desperately I want or need it, simply doesn’t count.  Not in the least. Not even when I give it every ounce of my strength and work diligently to make it come to pass.

I wanted someone to stand up for me.  To fight for me.  Defend me.  Both as a child when I was being terribly abused by my parents, as well as in adulthood when I wasn’t being appreciated or treated well by employers.   I wanted someone to be by my side and say, “Wait a minute…this isn’t right!  No more!”  Or, “Let me help you.”

I also wanted a partner who would have my back and who would look out for me.  But I have ever and always been alone without a hand to hold onto or an arm to encircle me. 

It doesn’t matter what I want.  What I need.  My desires don’t carry any weight.  Life does what life does.  It goes however it goes.  Sometimes it gives.  Sometimes it give a great deal to certain individuals.  But that has not been my experience.  Mostly, it takes.  It demands.   It goes on.  One tormented voice, one heart-rending cry, does not distract it or cause it to deviate from its predetermined course.

I pray for something good to come my way.  For doors to open.  I beg God.  I plead for mercy and blessing.  But my need doesn’t matter.  My heart doesn’t matter.  My pleas don’t matter.  It doesn’t matter what I want. 

Honestly, there are times when I don’t always know what I want.  I don’t always know what is best for me.  Often, I’m open and I am rarely demanding.  But when it comes to the things that feel like basic necessities, I find it disturbing that so many of my needs and deep desires have gone unmet.  This makes me feel inconsequential.  Worthless.  Less than everyone else around me.

I want to matter.  But even that doesn’t matter.  Even that.

Life is not a place where dreams come true.  Not for me.  It is not a place of happiness.  It is a place of toil and struggle.  If anything good comes to you, you have been blessed indeed.   What we want…all the goodness that can be had if you are somehow fortunate enough to find the golden path…is of no consequence.  For God has some bigger, more important plan.  A divine plan.  The goal is not for us to be happy and fulfilled.  We are to learn.  Supposedly, we are being shaped and refined by all of our trials.  Supposedly, they will make us better.

I am tired of being shaped and refined.

What I have come to know is this:  In God’s eyes, it seems that everyone matters.  Yet no one matters.  And without question, I don’t matter.  It doesn’t matter what I want.   What I long and hunger for.  I’m supposed to be content to be a nothing and a nobody.  Forever seeking.  Never finding.  Broken and alone.  Unwanted and unloved.

Fathers Lost

My brother lost his father in 2010.  And he’s still struggling with the loss today.  This was the man he had always admired.  Looked up to.  Respected.  Believed in.  Wanted to be like.  His father actually died in 1998.  But it wasn’t until 2010, when I had a failed sinus surgery, one that was a nightmare, that things changed.  Because I just. couldn’t. survive. another. trauma. alone. This, in turn, caused the demise of my brother’s father.
My brother and I didn’t talk much at all for years.  Didn’t have a relationship.  I was the black sheep of the family.  The one who struggled.  Who tried hard but failed.  Who never quite got it right.  Mark, my brother, on the other hand, has worked at the same place for 33 years.  He was very successful.  Still is.  He is happily married.  He does well financially, especially with the combined income of him and his wife, who is a nurse practitioner.  No money worries.  House paid for.  Able to travel internationally a couple of times a year.  There is a big contrast between us, and though he is younger, I’ve always felt “lesser than.”
So perhaps you can get a small glimpse of how frantic I was for some help and what desperation it took for me to reach out to him.  To confess to my inability to go on alone any longer.  I was NOT making it. I had started to have horrible asthma symptoms as a result of all the sinus issues, almost dying once, collapsing in the ER.  I was constantly physically ill, having fought the sinus infection from hell for a year (my incompetent doctor created a super-infection – long story) and the surgery had failed because when the specialist entered my sinuses to clean out the infection, he discovered I no longer had sinus bones.  They had been eaten away by the massive infection  – the worst he had seen in 23 years of practice.  I had only a thin membrane between my brain and sinus cavities and my optic nerve and sinus cavities.  He needed special equipment for this delicate surgery.  So he had to stop almost before he started and he told me it would be bad until he could reschedule and do what needed to be done.  It was worse than bad.  On top of all this, I was fighting an eating disorder.  Having problems with electrolytes and had made a couple of visits to the ER as a result, once in an ambulance. I had been in counseling for 10 years or more trying to recover from the childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by my father and neglect and abuse of my mother.  I felt totally worthless, had recently been left by my husband of 22 years because he fell in love with another woman, lost my job, had accumulated massive debt as a result and couldn’t cope a second longer.  I was alone, scared and freaking out.  I needed a hand to hold.  I needed some support.  I needed my brother.
Part of what made everything come to a head was being dumped by a friend at the door of the hospital the day of the first surgery.  She was to come back and get me right away once the surgery was over, I explained at check-in.  The nurses were not happy.  Someone was at least supposed to come in and talk with them so they could explain what to expect and what care I would need afterward.  They finally relented and called my friend to make certain she would, at least be available to come get me.  So I sat in the waiting room alone, watching families huddle and hug, encourage and share their love.  I watched a few pray together.  I saw them surrounded by friends, family, church pastors.  And I sat alone.  Waiting.
 When the surgery was over and my friend had been called, I was put in the outpatient prep room.  I lay there, miserable, bleeding, hurting, unable to breathe and scared, listening to the nurses talk about how my friend had said it would be an hour or two before she could get there, that she was involved in something else.  They were throwing “well, I never” all over the place.  I heard.  It hurt.
 When she finally arrived, I could barely walk to the car.  She did agree to stop by the pharmacy so I could get my prescription filled and pick up needed supplies.  Alone.  I leaned on the shopping cart and was grateful for it.  When she arrived at my house, she didn’t even help me out of the car or to the door.  I got out.  She drove away.  I struggled with my purchases, finally getting in the house where I collapsed on the couch.
The night that followed was one of the most horrific of my life.  I was so tormented, I still can’t find words to adequately describe the torture, my panic or my overwhelming anxiety.
Because of that horrible night, I e-mailed my brother the following day and told him where I was in life, what was going on and that I needed him.  I totally expected the rejection I had encountered in the past. I was pleasantly surprised.  He responded in a positive way.  He reached back.
He reached back because my mother finally came clean.  You see, after my father died, our mother started talking about how he had sexually abused me.  In fact, she couldn’t shut up.  She told EVERYONE.  Without any discretion, with no filter, no holds barred, as they say.  Of course, she also told my brother.  He didn’t believe it.  But for some reason – maybe a miracle – when I threw up all over him about the sad state of my life, he heard and finally believed.  He came from 3-1/2 hours away and took me to the hospital for my 2nd surgery.  He cleaned up blood, got me soup and talked me through the hardest part of the healing process.  He also asked if he could visit with my counselor to learn more about me…what had happened, where I was, what I needed.  I gave the counselor permission to tell him anything that might be helpful.  And this is when his father died.
I feel horrible about it.  Mark had always seen what his father wanted him to see.  He believed.  He loved.  Admired.  Suddenly, the very word “father” was a curse to be spit from his mouth.  He was angry beyond belief…more angry than I have ever been.  He despised the man he had once adored.  He has told me repeatedly that it was a good thing he was already dead, because if he wasn’t, Mark swears he would kill him.  I am totally confused by this.  I don’t hate him…so why does Mark?  It’s perplexing.  It’s disturbing.  And I feel responsible for taking his father from him.  Because, you see, his father and my father, they are the same man.  The one who sexually and physically abused me loved, cherished and cared for Mark.  He was Mark’s hero.  And I destroyed his hero.  A hero I never had, certainly.  For I lost my father long before he died.  Mark didn’t lose him until years after death.  I’m not sure which loss was harder.
Not that Mark blames me; but I do blame myself.  I hurt for him.  But I can never give him back what he has lost, because, in truth, he never had it to begin with.  He loved an illusion.  And sadly, that illusion has been decimated.   Because of me.  
I have never been able to celebrate Father’s Day.  Now, my brother can’t celebrate it either.
I’m not sure if the loss of his father is a good or bad thing.  I’m not sure if his illusion was healthier than knowing the truth.  I feel as if I took something precious from my brother.
But in reality, I suppose my brother’s father, my father, is the one that is actually responsible.
And now, we both hate Father’s Day…together.  Because we can’t forget the father we lost at very different times in very different ways.
 

What I Would Not Give

Graduation DayWhat I would not give to be graduating from high school this year.

It wasn’t that long ago that I did.  Graduate.

(Okay, it was a long time ago.  I just can’t comprehend the passage of time.  I still feel 17.)

I worked hard to get there.  To make it to that moment.  To graduation.  I believed.   I believed I could change the course of my life.  I had so much hope.  My life was there in front of me.  Beautiful.  Exciting.  Wonderful.  I believed the right things would happen because my heart was in the right place.  I believed I could change the ending, even though the beginning had been set in stone.

What I wouldn’t give to have the opportunity to go to college.  To walk the campus of a university I would call home for the next four years.  Not knowing where my steps would take me.  But believing they would take me somewhere that was incredible.   Somewhere with endless possibilities.

Somewhere good.

What I would not give to be graduating from that college, having proven myself, having attained something others would recognize as being worthwhile.  Something that would give me a sense of validation, even though it really didn’t make me a legitimate human being.

What I would not give to have a purpose and direction.  Meaning.

What I would not give to be able to start over.  To go back to that place where I totally screwed up. Where all of life was before me and to be able to return to that point where very, very little lay behind.  Where possibilities stretched in front of me endlessly.  That place where hope and excitement prevailed.   In spite of the difficulties I needed to overcome.  In spite of the horrors of my childhood and all the damage it had done.  In spite of those terrible things that had wounded and shaped me thus far.  In spite of those things that had broken me.  And decimated me.  In spite of what my parents had done to me.  What they had made of me.

What I would not give for a chance to start over.  To do things differently.  To be wiser.  To make better choices.  To approach things differently.  To take care of myself and treat myself as if I mattered.  Or even as if I might possibly matter.  To someone.  To me.  Somehow. Some day.

What I would not give to be able to recognize I at least had a small amount of value, even though I was terribly imperfect. Even though I was terribly flawed. Even though I was horribly wounded.  Even though I was a mess.  Even though I was challenging to love.

Or impossible to love.  Even though I might be unlovable. Because of the damage.

I spent most of my life sleepwalking through the days.  I spent most of my life completely numb and sound asleep.  To get by.  To make it through.   I spent all of my life simply trying to survive the moment.  Sacrificing who I was.  Sacrificing all of my dreams.  Sacrificing my desires.  Because I thought I was nothing.  I thought I was worthless.  And it cost me everything.  I lost all the important moments.  I lost almost every single thing that mattered to me.  I lost my life, even though I am still technically alive.  I sacrificed myself, not knowing the cost.  Not understanding the price.  Not understanding what was going on.

What I would not give or sacrifice now to be able to start over again.  To make different choices.  To walk a different path.  To undertake a different journey.  To choose a different road.  To see things differently.

Oh, God, what I wouldn’t do to be able to have another chance.  One.  More.  Chance.

Can you really turn all these curses into blessings?  Can you really give me a future?  A good future?  Filled with hope?  Even though I’m old and my life is almost over?  Do You really want to bless me?  Can you truly turn all the horrible nightmares of my life into good?

Do you love me?  Me?  Worthless me?  Unlovable me?

What I would not give for that chance.  That chance to change the course of my life.  I have nothing much to give, truth be told.  But I would give everything…everything…everything to have that chance.

I have grown old.  I have frittered away all of my days.  All of my opportunities.  All of my possibilities.  I didn’t mean to be so stupid.  I didn’t mean to be so screwed up.  I tried hard to succeed and to avoid failure.  But it was not enough.   All my effort was not enough.  Everything I had to give was not enough.  I was never enough.

What I would not give to have the chance to begin again.

I’ve been around for quite awhile now.  For more years than I can comprehend.  More years than I want to admit.

I have nothing to show for all that time.

I would give anything to roll back the time.  To that time when there was time.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to start over again.

I would probably still screw it up.  But I would like to believe I could change my destiny.

I would like to believe things could have turned out differently.  Better. Much better.

What I would not give to have the chance to try again.  Just one more chance…

One.  More.