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Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

what on earth is going on
to make this feeling surface again
pushed it back for so long
but to the surface it madly spins
so much strength to carry on like this
the flood gates are opening within
so numb nothing hurts
even where the flame turns blue
the courage to hold your heart outside
everyone can see all the scars
the relief of honesty
the walls tumbling tumbling
falling
crashing
relief
what on earth is going on
to see all these images again
learning how to feel
how to exhale the pain
how to embrace the joy
how the heart can be opened to capture everything at once
not running away but standing still
there’s more courage in healing
and feeling for once
have it all piercing the soul
what on earth is going on
just emotions
take a breath and dive in

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when my words and my mind were spinning madly, on the brink of a collision with reality, i wanted to share stories and jokes and all the intimate details of the lives we were living.
… and then
it happened. the inevitable collision that i had spent a lifetime ignoring was now, unavoidable. the spinning thrashed around my mind like an orca beating its kill on the ocean top.
slap
slam
… and then
my head burst open and everything escaped, oozing out of those darkened crevasses so fast that to grasp them, to contain them, was an impossible feat. i crawled out from beneath, prostrated myself, hated myself.
i hated me
… and then

i looked at all the pieces lying around, scattered, unrecognizable, knowing the reassembly process was impossible. i couldn’t decifer which piece fit where and if some of the pieces had been altered.

all the pieces had been altered
… and then
the altered pieces looked so beautiful, so magnificent in their new imperfect shapes. i saw that, you see? i saw it. i saw the love inside. i saw the beauty that was forming and growing and busting through a wall to shout at the world.
shout at you
… and then
the porous pieces of myself, those imperfect and all too occasionally fucked up pieces of myself took on a magnificent shape. they looked like me. a crooked smile. a blemish. a lonely dimple.
me
me
i stood upright and strong and dared to move.
dared to love
dared to love me
i took the onus for me

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i stand at the edge of the world and i jump and i soar higher and higher

… and then
a tug
a pull
i am unable to move forward
my leap was so high and so far and the wall that floats around in the between places of what we are and what we can be is there, just ahead

… and then
it starts in my feet
they cease their movement
i begin to float slowly back to the edge
a rope lassoed to my legs tugging me
tugging me
my arms try to swim through the open air
try to propel me onward towards that wall

… and then
the struggle takes all my strength
my arms keep moving and flailing and i can see that gravity is wrapped around me and every time i move it tangles me up more and i am moving and struggling and lurching and forgetting to pause

… and then
i inhale and fill my lungs and i exhale
inhale
exhale
repeating repeating repeating
i caress the pause like a forgotten lover coming to ease my mind

… and then
i am free
i am floating to that wall with my hand stretched out my fingers extended reaching past the safety of who i am

… and then
i pause, looking at both sides because both sides are equally beautiful and filled with the dreams of an awake mind

… and then
i jump into the middle of who i can be but the wall between the two has dissolved
the struggle has faded
the sadness of gravity has released me to move freely

so i do

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lightning strikes
i cover my eyes
weaving its way through the cracks
in front of us all
shouting at the storm
we steady ourselves on your words

lightning strikes
the waves start to crest
we close our eyes and dive
unafraid
we see you walking on the ocean
our beacon
our breath

lightning strikes
sudden and full of anger
we are unafraid
linking arms because together we are strong
and you
shouting at the storm
a chorus of screams building behind you

lightning strikes
trembling and wet
the waves beat us relentlessly
and still we stay
facing the storm
and you
in front of us all
walking on the ocean

I wrote this poem for a dear friend, Lisa Bonchek Adams, who recently found out she has metastatic breast cancer. She is sharing her story with all of us here — you need to read her, it will change you forever.

I also started a facebook page for her that I am inviting everyone to join called, The Adventures of Flat Lisa, so that we all can take her on our adventures or our daily lives. We are all truly connected in this world, so share yourself.

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the shape I take
watching you navigate this weary world,
jumping over blocked paths,
cartwheeling around a sea of naysayers.

an old tree in the backyard,
once it was second base and now

it stretches out for you…
twisting and distorting its extended branches
reaching for you…

but never grabbing hold.

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this is for the confused girl who sits at the table farthest from the window,
the one who orders her coffee without looking at the barista with his spiked hair and his milky skin, the one who sits without looking around, her full attention to the world just outside the window, never to the world that surrounds her.

this is for the hapless mother who forgot how to smile, the one who wakes every morning but can’t remember why, the one who sits up late when everyone else is asleep because it’s the only time she feels she can escape, she’ll lose herself in the pages of a book and dream of the places conjured by someone else’s imagination and she’ll forget how green her grass is.

this is for the friends who lost touch because someone said something a long time ago, their thoughts return to a time when they laughed but their hands never dial the phone, their fingers never push send on the apologetic email, they stay locked in the need for righteous indignation and they try to push back the memories of a forgotten time and they each are left with fading bits of yesterday.

this is for the daughter who wants so bad to be seen, a glance of recognition that never comes, the repeating scenes to prove herself that never work, the ongoing attempts to gain a love that is hidden from view, she becomes lost in the effort to be loved and misses the love being thrown at her from all directions by the people who see her in all her beautiful mess.

this is for the ones who open their eyes
this is for the ones who remember to breathe
this is for the ones who break themselves open
this is for the ones who hear the music
this is for the ones who feel
this is for the ones who love

this is for all of us who stare logic in the face and dare to defy it, we grab hold of our imperfections and hoist them over our heads for all to see, we willingly give our hearts to be broken again and again because broken hearts can heal, we tell ourselves we are awake and unafraid because soon we will believe it, we choose to revive the parts of us we thought were dead and we love with our whole heart and we watch as logic collides with the world spinning around us and we dance… to keep from falling.

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the moon is bloated with the thoughts being cast its direction tonight,
so many people staring up at the same sky,
we’re alone,
until that moment we realize we’re not,
that moment we see the moon hovering above with all the thoughts of complicated beings just like us.

we think a touch can’t heal a broken heart,
a glance can’t fill an empty soul,
a laugh can’t scare away the lingering darkness of nightmares.
we think we are useless.
we listen to our lies.

the moon hangs in the sky daring us to stare and be cradled in its glow,
it creates a path out of darkness,
we follow,
it leads us deeper into the night,
shining on the brokenness of the others gathered there.

we can’t mend the torn stories in our mind,
playing doctor with each thought before we let it loose,
we crave wholeness,
clinging to the pieces we should have thrown away,
we listen to our lies.

the moon slips behind a lingering cloud,
we hold the fading light in our open hand,
we are still,
hoping the glow will brush back the night,
all of us staring at the same sky.

we pause.
we listen.
we offer silence and hope and understanding.
we gather the broken pieces and the scattered truths and the hushed epiphanies.
we stare at the bloated moon.
we listen to each others lies.
we brush them away.
we leave them behind.
we grab our complicated stories.
we ignore the lies we tell ourselves.

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I watch you,
staring so intently at the collection of toys you sculpted out of clay.
each one had your full attention,
each one felt the love of all your heart,
each one created by the bliss that lies in your mind.
I hope you have that forever.
I hope you never lose passion for things that matter.
I hope you always lose yourself in those creations.

I watch you,
your eyes sing a song the whole world can hear.
each glance takes a brick from the wall around my heart,
each glimmer reveals my lovely world,
each look brings me closer to understanding love.
I hope you see the world through those eyes.
I hope you never lose sight of your own perspective.
I hope you look in the mirror and smile at the reflection.

when the mountains in the distance scare you
… just climb them.
when the song seems to have no rhythm
… just sing it.
when the ocean looks too deep
… just swim it.
when life overwhelms you
… just live it.

I watch you,
your voice rolls sweetly across my ears.
each call of my name hangs in the air,
each laugh shakes the world free from doubt,
each question you ask has a million perfect answers.
I hope you hear your thoughts in a crowded conversation.
I hope you never listen to that voice that tries to quiet you.
I hope the story you tell will find the perfect audience.

I watch you,
my arms stretch out but know to grasp you loosely,
each breath I take leaves me hoping for another,
each thought I have is peaceful in its chaos.
each tick of the clock comes faster than I want.
I hope you take the path that calls for all your courage.
I hope you never stand still when the dance floor needs you.
I hope you leap and know your wings have always been there.

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… I’m not asking you to move on or forget it, but these are better days

… to be loved like a song you remember even when you’ve changed. ~~ Brandi Carlile

When I answered the phone that morning, I already knew she was dead. Nothing good ever comes from a phone call at 5:28 in the morning. When I left the night before, she was near death… always “near death”. I guess in a hospice facility that describes everyone — “near death”.
But still, that morning the phone rang, and I already knew. I answered it anyway, my sister said, “she’s gone”. I don’t think I said anything, maybe I just hung up, maybe I said okay, maybe I said I’m on my way. It wasn’t a shock and yet — it was, it was a shock.
I collapsed under the weight of the knowledge of forever being without a mother. I collapsed under the weight of all the things I needed her to tell me, all the things I needed her to listen to, all the things that wound my mind and my stomach in knots. But that was it… time was up. No deathbed revelations, no deathbed confessions, no deathbed secrets revealed — she was gone.

I’m sure my mother isn’t the only mother who could make ice water run through your veins with her glance. I’m sure she isn’t the only mother whose perfectly placed sigh could bring an abrupt end to any conversation. I’m sure she isn’t the only mother who could make you question your decisions as a competent 40-year-old as if you were 10 again — I’m sure of these things.

I’ve often wondered if people who get the news of someone dying in a sudden car wreck or a massive heart attack can process the news easier — probably not. But, waiting 15 months for the inevitable to happen is tiring… yes, I’d say it’s tiring. You think you’ll wait for the perfect time to say the words and to hear the words and you screw your courage and decide tomorrow will be a better time. There’s always tomorrow.

I drove to the hospice facility immediately — I was already showered and dressed, it’s not like I was sleeping that year she lived with me. A baby monitor in her room allowed me to hear every creak of the bed, every cough and nose blow, every turn of the page, every trip to the bathroom, every quiet calling out of my name for help — for a year, so… why sleep? I was always waiting for something to happen… waiting, always waiting for something.

I felt relieved to not be the caregiver and, of course, guilty at my relief.
I felt a new disconnect from things holding me back, not that my mother was consciously holding me back from things I needed to do, but her care was always fully on my mind.
Or maybe, she was holding me back.

The months, the years since her death have been a confusing time.
My body still fights sleep, it still wakes at the slightest creak, it still listens for my name.

My mind wandered and did backwards flips and tangled itself into tight knots of questions and confusion. My therapist must have been one hell of a girl scout because she has untied some horrendous knots in me.
The friend I looked up to more than any other person — my knots crept into her life… those knots, they weave their way around everything near like kudzu taking over a once manicured backyard. You cut one away and another grows twice as big… a noxious weed invading every crevasse.

It was a confusing time.
A time when it seemed the knots would stay forever — the knots of my mother, the knots of my friend, the knots of my failures, the knots of motherhood and womanhood and becoming a better me… the knots of another Mother’s Day.
Seems like a perfect day to help untie each others knots.

Mothers are a confusing lot, aren’t we?
We learn from our mothers, we attempt to recreate that amazing strawberry cake, that enchilada casserole we had at Christmas all the while cursing ourselves under our breath because we even try. We vow to be our own person. We learn to control the sighs and the icy glances, the all too familiar judgements.

Motherhood should be a collective. We have a much better chance of figuring it out together than we ever would alone.

This Mother’s Day, my children and I will eat out and go for a walk and I’m sure there will be a trip to the bookstore and we’ll go to the lake and feed the ducks and we’ll laugh and we’ll enjoy that time and when we get home… we’ll all retreat to our own corners and a few of my knots will untangle and a few more will loosen.
I don’t plan on being on my deathbed wondering if I was a good mother — I am always becoming a better me… these are better days. The stories I take with me won’t be worth confessing and the confessions I make will be well worth a listen. I won’t look at my kids and wonder if I sighed too much or judged too many outfits and boyfriends and girlfriends or used my icy stare too often. They won’t tell me anyway, of course. Who tells their mother things like that on her deathbed? They’ll wait and they’ll tell it to a therapist and the therapist will untie those knots… (maybe that’s how we can tell, the number of knots that our children have in them and the time it takes to untie them… maybe that’s how we’ll know) then they’ll write a post in their blogs about motherhood and its perils and its triumphs and how the bond between mother and child endures many things and maybe they’ll even post it on Mother’s Day… but, I know I am loved like a song they remember. Still… I wonder what it will reveal about me and my knots.

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dear _____,
stay.
stay.
… and stand fearlessly in the midst of it all.

there will be times that running away… far far away, will seem like the smartest thing to do. but know this, it’s not. running only puts the problem farther out of reach and harder to solve.
it’s not always going to be complicated either — learn to recognize the difference. learn to recognize the difference between someone else’s tragic bullshit and your beautifully complicated story.
stay.
stay.
… and stand fearlessly in the midst of it all.

when you’re young… too young to know such things, too young to worry about such things, too young to experience all of that — that complicated soul searching bullshit that you are too young to think about… stop. walk away. retain your childhood, the carefree skipping around in life that we are all entitled to — yes, entitled to.
stay.
stay.
… and stand fearlessly in the midst of it all.

when that summer seems to go on forever, lie on the ground and stare up at the stars and know the complete feeling of being so small and alone and yet you will never feel so connected to the world. let the shining of the stars and the chirping of the tree frogs and the swooping of the bats paralyze you with the knowledge that you are small… in the very best possible way, you are small.
stay.
stay.
… and stand fearlessly in the midst of it all.

stick around after closing time, that’s when all the best stories will reveal themselves but don’t become a story someone else writes. don’t waste time looking for a perfect apple… they all have bruises and those bruises have something to say — listen. listen to their story. don’t stand still, don’t ever stand still, keep moving forward.
and remember, forward won’t always be the right direction or the best direction or the safest… but you don’t need the safest.
stay.
stay.
… and stand fearlessly in the midst of it all.

when you get to the bottom of your rope, don’t tie a knot in it — let go. yes, let go and soar and be curious about what’s at the bottom. no more directionless, no more drifting, no more worrying, no more wishing — just let go.
never be made useless.
so don’t run away… reach out, reach out as far as you can and keep reaching — the hand you’ve been waiting for will be there.

dear _____,
stay.
stay.
… and stand fearlessly in the midst of it all.

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