keep living

//

i used to think i knew what happened when people died. i comforted myself with images of heaven, of a better place, of no more crying and no more pain. the reality is i don’t know what really happens when someone dies. i can guess, but i don’t really know. the old adages don’t bring any comfort anymore. truth is brutal to swallow.

i used to think i had experienced the worst traumas i ever would. i thought i had seen enough of my share. childhood sexual abuse, the divorce of my parents, acquaintance rape in highschool, clergy abuse in highschool and college, being asked to leave a church due to said clergy abuse while they encircled the hurting pastor and his family, the stillbirth of my second child, the miscarriage of my fourth child, losing the scaffolding of the christian faith and christian god that I had built and based my entire life upon…and then the sudden disappearance of my husband and his suicide eighteen days later.

i am sitting here tonight, six and a half months later, still trying to figure out how my life turned into this. supposedly there comes a point where you figure out how to stop asking the questions, how to stop trying to figure out what the hell happened, how to keep the internal tsunami at bay that still desperately wants to save him.

i cannot imagine another man in my life, although i want it and parts of me feel guilty for wanting it now. maybe i want it this soon because of how it all ended. but the reality is that i am not a loner. i don’t do life well without close friends and without a man i love who also loves me back. there is so fucking much i want and need to be different from here on out, but before i nail down all those specifics i just want another human being to look me in the eyes and tell me they see me and that they believe i’m going to make it up and out and away from this ground zero. i want to believe that i can trust again, that i won’t let fear dictate my life from here on out because of all the staggering losses.

there have been days i have wanted to box it all up and call it quits, but really that is not an option i want deep down inside, nor is it an option i would ever pursue. giving up, throwing in the towel, no fucking way. feeling hope again? i sure as hell hope so. feeling wanted again? yes, please. i didn’t die when he left our house quietly one sunday morning. i didn’t die when he pulled the trigger to end his own life. i didn’t die. i didn’t die. i didn’t die. i am alive. i am here. i get to be here. my life is no small thing. i don’t take my own life lightly, i don’t hold it carelessly. i’m here and i want to live. i want to keep living. and i will as best i can.

i wonder sometimes what becoming a widow suddenly and traumatically is supposed to look like and feel like. i wonder if i’m anywhere within normal or if i’m just totally screwed up and can’t even tell. i just don’t know. does anybody really? i know it’s not all black, there is still color. it’s not all tears, there is still laughter. it’s not all sadness, there is still beauty and enjoyment to be found. if you had asked me a year ago what i thought life without him would be like i never would’ve guessed right. it would’ve been too far outside my lived experience. but I can tell you now. it’s hell and it’s not hell, it’s a nightmare and yet it’s not, it’s horrific and maddening, and yet on some days it’s mostly just exhausting and confusing. and every now and then some normalcy seeps in the cracks of this shattered life and you see flickers of light that tell you that you are still very much alive, and life is still very much worth breathing for.

{zt}

silent roar

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“fleeing the self
running from the life i thought i would have
chasing ghosts
drinking tea and wiping tears
throwing angry words to the wind
i don’t know me anymore
and now i will never know you

 

coughing up regrets
and choking on unforgiveness of the self
bitter towards a body that failed me and you
closing my eyes and listening to the sounds of a life stalled in its tracks
knowing the unknown will always haunt me
and the known will chase me in my dreams

 

ignoring the irreverent words offered up on a silver platter
they are meant to bring healing yet they only smash into my wounds
and make me feel even smaller and you even less real

 

i am running away from myself
i am running away from you
i cannot catch up with the life i was meant to live
yet i cannot stop trying to find my way back
i have fallen down the hole and everything is altered
my throat burns and my stomach churns
there is no turning back, no bypass or shortcut”

 

{me}

Here and now I am stuck between darkness and light. What I thought was light has become dark, and the darkness is becoming illuminated as I walk into it. What a place to be in, what a journey it has been. Words cannot carry the weight fully of the truth that weighs them down and curls them around themselves. What is coming up ahead at the next bend in the road, no one can ever know. Who I thought I could count on I cannot. The who-what-where-and why have all changed. Like chicken little the sky fell, it fell more than once.

Silent woman, silent peers, silent parents, silent friends, silent him, silent elders, silent child, another silent child, silent god. Silent me.

My words come in nose-burning, watery-eyed, throat-tightening sobs, in waves. I am dry and then it rains. Do I really even have something to say? Will I be taken seriously? Believed? Does what I have to say even matter? Yes, yes, and yes. Let the tears fall, let my nose burn, let my throat tighten. Here is my roar.

It’s been 23 years since then. 23 years for me to realize what really happened. 23 years to call it what it was, to call it what it is.

23 years since they said this. You can’t come back. Someone has to leave and they’ve been here longer and he is our pastor, so you have to leave. But hey, we are paying for eight counseling sessions for you and we wish you all the best, now leave, please, but let us pray for you before you go, and we really hope you will be okay. We feel so very sorry for you, and you really need help, but we can’t be the ones to help you because we have others who are more important than you to help. Go on now, troubled young woman. Leave. Let us get on with the Lord’s work, we don’t need women like you in our midst. You might rub off on us. And besides, didn’t you know it is really all your fault?

23 years of having the “A” on my forehead.
23 years of silence.
23 years of shame.
23 years of blame.
23 years of taking it all on.

I was 21 when it all hit the proverbial fan. What had been happening had been happening for several years prior. Building up to the watershed moment when it all came crashing down all around me, and the water rushed down a different path for us all, a path I never wanted to go down, but yet I was on a path at that present time I had never really wanted to go down anyway, so surely this couldn’t be worse, right?

The knock on the door. They knew. He had decided to spill the beans. Confess to the sin of his choosing versus what he had really done to me. Severed from a family, from a life, from a man I thought I loved. How would I ever really be okay again? Life felt over. The pills called to me, to take them, take them all and end this. It just needed to be ended because this was a nightmare that there was no waking from.

I believed the well-mannered lies, the shame-filled accusations, the dirty looks, the letters of well-intentioned yet empty advice for a girl gone supposedly bad, one who lost her way and couldn’t get what they thought she apparently wanted, her pastor. Oh please. What I wanted was trust, love, acceptance, attention. What do most high school girls want who are in a new town after her parents divorced and she is tired of an emotionally and verbally abusive boyfriend? Did I fall for it all hook, line, and sinker? Yes, I did. Did I pursue him? No I did not. Abuse of power and position. Clergy sexual abuse. Ugly terms for exponentially uglier truths. These words cannot carry their weight either, just a dim reflected shadow of the inescapable brutal truth. The wasteland of a life stomped down and out, no longer recognizable. Shredded, beat down to the bone.

Yet, life did go on somehow, some way, the way life often does as it flows forward onto everything in its path, determined to create anew. Changed denominations, changed towns. Ruined reputation. Past used against me time after time. The secrets had to stay secret. There was no way to air them out, to get away from them, except to stay quiet and move on. Years passed. Good things, beautiful things, wonderful things. Life felt like life again and not a prison sentence I was serving out.

Then tragedy struck and our second child was not alive anymore. It was as though the shores of my life split in two and crashed up against each other in a thunderous explosion that left everything shredded and in disarray, unrecognizable, broken beyond repair. Years of darkness and grief upon grief followed.

“the white was everywhere, sterile, as if everything was pure, untouchable, clean, crisp, to the point, yet understated, barely any colors, devoid of emotion, shhhh be quiet because noise and white don’t go together, no blood no screams, be quiet, be white, be colorless, be empty, feel empty. so i bled and she was pink and i screamed and color burst onto the scene and the air was electric with emotion and there was no more white anywhere anymore. she is just beyond my reach always, just beyond my voice, just beyond the edges of my days. in between the ordinary and the sacred, between the old and the new, between the past and the future, she is here yet she is not.”

 

{me}

Then tragedy struck again. Another one dead and this time we didn’t even get to hold her.

Then tragedy struck yet again. The slow death of god. He wasn’t who I had always believed him to be. I felt like I was living in a world of trick mirrors, like it was a big fairground of harsh lights, illusions, and exaggerated clown faces mocking me with angry laughter, all waiting to trick me again once I began to get used to things or know my way around a tiny bit. I became someone I didn’t recognize. I died a million tiny little deaths over and over again. will the bleeding ever stop?

“found
revealed
nurtured
loved
trusted
built my life around
dedicated
believed
integrated
but then…
the miracle didn’t happen
faith unraveled
prayers unanswered
screaming silence
born into death
devastated
manipulated
brutality
nothingness
darkness
bleeding revealed truth
stillborn jesus
yet you were never alive to begin with”

 

{me}

So here I am and I am finding my voice, the voice that has been a scream stuck in the back of my throat, in the back of my life, for so many long silent years. A silent roar will become a roar that is heard. I will be heard. I am being heard now. There is such joy in that.

{words to a silent god, c. 2016}

::::this post was originally a guest post shared HERE at The Roar Sessions::::

drowning

image

grief came too soon

when i noticed they weren’t happy together

no kisses, embraces, affection

the fallout of a marriage bruised and battered and killing itself softly over and over again

the day he gathered us all and asked for the divorce, so quietly and violently

gone were the innocent days

my hero and heroine washed ashore like seaweed and castaways the sea just gave up on and returned to shore, lifeless on the beach of humanity

navigating a crooked chasm ever since

then came the uncharmed love, the great devouring of an unknown and unloved soul who naively opened herself to the mad magic of a lonely soul who belonged to someone else

the giver became the taker, the wise one the senseless, the prophet the pimp, the leader the proverbial bait and switch, the answers for the questions, the goodness for the blame at the cost of her redemption, the truthteller became the liar, she became the lost one, damned to roam in the netherlands of shame because he still had a job to do and she was old news, used and abused and tossed aside

then came marriage and the baby carriage, then came the one born without breath.

the great sadness to unleash all sadnesses was upon me. what was thought to be unconnected was now all mercilessly intertwined. shame had many tethers and many masters now.

hope crashed out of my chest and ran away, wandering, burning into a pile of ashes nowhere to be found.

and so the slow death of god continued, now i knew it was happening, now i could no longer deny the silence, the empty chair, the unanswered cries. In her death all other deaths came to me and i could see them with eyes uncovered and a heart unbound.

the watershed moment when i knew deep down i was in this all by myself, there was no salvation coming for me.

for years i sunk into denial and sadness, i hid in the tears, swimming in the grief and demands of mothering, it wasn’t hard to slip into the shadows unseen, i had help in the bruising and cutting, assistance in the smothering, the drowning had many hands upon it, the pressure building year after year after year

another one came like a thief in the night to prick my heart and then left me bleeding again. this time I was no stranger to the blackness.

now i fight the acceptance, i beat against myself, i don’t want to be where i am, without who i am without, alone in a world not as i thought it was.

what i thought was the greatest has now been trumped, hope continues lost and elusive and i have no idea how to find myself under all the years, all the sizes, all the tightness, all the breaths.

i’m going under. is the answer to keep fighting, stop looking for my ship to come in, to give in and fall under, let the waters cover me and take my breath, what then? what about them, what about me, about us, about him, how will this all play out. will hope meet me at the bottom of the sea?

i’m drowning in a sea of my own tears.

{words to a silent god, c.2015}

>>written as an anthology of grief in response to #inherskin, an online class<<