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}

limbo

wp-1477937554594.jpg

//

standing on the edge of a precipice

looking all around me, trying to find my way

everything looks different again

this is another kind of hard

another kind of pain

a pain laced with freedom in its edges

it feels as though an unknown reality is beckoning me forward

telling me this is the way finally

the wall I was bearing against but yet it was always too high to climb

it was because it was unclimb-able no matter how hard I tried

all the beating, black and blue from all the trying

i finally saw the insanity of it all

the dust is beginning to settle

the fog is starting to dissipate

the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer and closer

i’m no longer on the opposite end of it all desperately seeking

now i’m at the end of the tunnel

i’ve left everything i once knew

or i found myself simply gone from it, like a curtain lifted at the end of a play

my reality became fiction

caught in the crossfire

here but not there

no longer standing

i jumped because i had no choice

i caught myself

now suspended

hanging on with all i have

waiting for the fingers to tire of their grip

to become just actually unable to keep holding on any longer

i am hanging here

but what is underneath me?

when i fall, because I will, what will there be?

i know i don’t belong where i have just come out of,

yet i don’t know what the darkness around me holds for me

what is there, who is there, what will it be like?

better, worse, different, all the above

will i survive the falling, the letting go

this in-between place of dangling between two lives

the no of i will not live there anymore

and the no i cannot yet go anywhere else place

the i know this isn’t real

but i don’t know what is real beyond here

the i know he isn’t real

but i don’t know who or what is

this experiential angst of a being caught between death and life

hanging in the balance of terror and freedom

between doubts given credence and the just not knowing

like a rat out of its cage for the very first time

terrified of the unknown, longing for the comfort of the bondage

the horror of what was, the horror of what is to come

the trepidity and bewilderment of a life lived in chains

and the fear and dread of then and now and what is up ahead

frozen in midair, hanging on for dear life

living in oblivion

learning to exist in a space of nothingness

nowhere to go back to and nowhere to run

haunted by a life that is over and scared to death of a life yet to live

when i let go what will happen?

 

 

I get to be here

 ​                                     ::

I wrote the following in May 2013, three years and four months ago.
                                     

                                      ::

“This song (Stay by Big Daddy Weave) has been speaking to me for months now, as I am sure it has many people who take a listen. For me, it speaks to me on the level of feeling so far away from God for so long now. People call this sort of season all different things, the dark night of the soul, a grand canyon experience, a desert time, a wilderness experience etc. I don’t know much these days but I do know that as much as my feelings may want to tell me differently, God has not left my side, He has not stopped working on my behalf intervening in my life and in the lives of those around me. I have felt like a runaway, like a child lost and afraid, but I cannot deny the truth that reaches deeper than the emotions that come crashing down: God is here. He may not be showing up in certain ways I have wanted him to, or speaking in ways I would have preferred, but he is here nonetheless. I have felt so faithless. Thank God that He will and is coming to find this runaway and bringing me back home again. The darkness lies to us, our feelings lie to us. Grief lies to us, and even happiness lies to us. God is the way, the truth, and the life, nothing else can fill those sovereign places. I am no theologian, I am no strong Christian. I have been wounded deeply, words don’t explain or suffice, but I cannot live the rest of my life angry with God or defined by my past hurts and failures. I don’t know how to hear God again like I used to, I don’t know how to change myself or my heart, but thankfully God knows where to find me, how to speak to me, and how to change me. So, I’m still here, still reaching out, still crying out, still hoping, and still trusting on some small level. I believe, help my unbelief. I know that I know that I know that He will.”

(me, 2013)


                                        ::

To say I’m at a radically different place now is the understatement of the century. It is staggering to read words written in that place where I was standing at that particular time. I cringe at the words, my breath catches in my throat, I begin to feel twinges of that old record of desperate searching playing over and over again. Somehow I survived about 7 years there in that place. That season had been going on at full force since 2007, when our second child was stillborn and I had a watershed moment with the one I clung onto as god, the one I had devoted my life to, hook-line-and-sinker. It was time for all the faith, all the years, all the service, all the prayers, all the reasons piled upon reasons….It all came to an abrupt crescendo. It was do or die. Show up or sit down. Speak or hang up the phone. Put your money where your mouth is. It was time for reality to come down and be real. I’m not talking about people or money or circumstances. I’m talking about one on one, me and god. God and I in the ring. On the phone, hand in hand walking together, however you want to view it, but he and I together, the unseen becoming seen no matter all the loose threads, no matter the questions. If he would just be in it with me, be present with me even if nothing else changed but the aloneness.

Here’s the thing. The reality. The truth. The real deal. The way it all came down. The end of the story. The rest of the conversation. He didn’t show up. He didn’t ever find me. He never came. He didn’t rescue me. He never broke the silence. It’s not that he didn’t change my circumstances or give me a vision, it’s that nothing happened. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. He was absent. Silent. Because he was never there to begin with.

I showed up to my own life

I found me

I came running to myself

I came to my own rescue. 

I did for myself what I never thought possible, what I never understood was conceivable became conceivable.

All the soul-stripping shame,

The slow drip of constant not-measuring-up-ness,

Now I’m running into my own arms.

And into the arms of those who really love me, the real me,

The me I lost track of as a child,

The one buried alive underneath all the rubble of the shoulds and musts and have-tos.

Now I understand this moment is really and truly it. This is where I am alive, not some random point in the future or some distant far off land where I will live forever. But now. Here and now. This is the real life, the real deal. This is no dress rehearsal. I don’t get to do it again down the road, there are no do-overs, no eternal wonderland within which all can be made right. 

Now. 
Now is the time. 

I get to be here, get to be alive. At such a time as this, for real. 

Here’s a favorite song of mine for you today, it has been a favorite since I first heard it years ago even in the midst of trying to wait for a god to show up and save the day. Even then I knew deep down on some level. “The Riddle“, by Five For Fighting. 

There was a man back in ’95

Whose heart ran out of summers

But before he died, I asked him

Wait, what’s the sense in life?Come over me, come over me

He said Son, why you got to sing that tune?
Catch a Dylan song or some eclipse of the moon

Let an angel swing and make you swoon

Then you will see, you will see

Then he said

Here’s a riddle for you
Find the answer

There’s a reason for the world

You and I

Picked up my kid from school today
Did you learn anything causin’ the world today

You can’t live in a castle far away

Now talk to me, come talk to me

He said Dad, I’m big, but we’re smaller than small

In the scheme of things, well, we’re nothing at all

Still every mother’s child sings a lonely song

So play with me, come play with me

And, hey, dad
Here’s a riddle for you

Find the answer

There’s a reason for the world

You and I

I said Son, for all I’ve told you

When you get right down to the

Reason for the world

Who am I?

There are secrets that we still have left to find
There have been mysteries from the beginning of time

There are answers we’re not wise enough to see

He said You looking for a clue

I love you free

The batter swings and the summer flies

As I look into my angel’s eyes

A song plays on while the moon is high over me

Something comes over me

I guess we’re big, and I guess we’re small

If you think about it, man, you know we got it all

‘Cause we’re all we got on this bouncing ball

And I love you free

I love you freely

Here’s a riddle for you 

Find the answer

There’s a reason for the world

You and I

>>Youtube Video of The Riddle <<

{words to a silent god ©2016}

beyond the looking glass

 

{I wrote this in response to a prompt about how we all have different selves that reside inside of us, and sometimes we leave ourselves. So this is me talking to a younger me that left in the midst of personal, spiritual, and relational tragedy.}

//

You left when he did
When they said go because someone must

Only a ghost of you was left

Traces of a girl hollowed out by love

Or what she thought was love but ended up being something entirely different

Reaching back through time to find you, chase you down, where are you

When you left where did you run to, where did you hide?

From them? From him? From me?

I cannot fathom the fractures so deep only the heart can feel

There are no words for the deepest of things

You left and I cannot find you

Then she left

Then he left

Then another one, and another one, and another one

All the leaving left me

Left me altered beyond repair

Broken pieces shattered and scattered so far the winds can never return them all

I get glimpses of you sometimes, as though beyond the looking glass

Through water and fog and beauty

You come to me in whispered words

Caresses by a phantom who loves me

I wonder sometimes if you pass between the worlds to come to me

To tell me one day it will be okay

That you are busy gathering up the pieces

And that you will bring them all to me once you have been completely found

You search far and near, here and there to find every last one

You are convinced it is worth the fight to reunite them all

You work to convince me to convince myself

To get me to believe I am worth the trouble

It is not a journey of impossibility, although quite improbable

All the twists and turns, the new devastations that hurl us canyons apart again

And again and again

With each hurling the layers multiply and the pieces scatter again

But you are convinced

And you are not leaving me again, yet you are and i are still standing on separate islands

Together yet apart

One yet separate

Same yet different

And you won’t give up

And you beg me not to either

 

::words to a silent god, 2016::

{written in response to a prompt about how the different selves that live within us intersect. the prompt came from this lovely writer found here: JENA SCHWARTZ}

bone named faith

Bone named faith

A bone once thought to never break

That bone was the strongest of strong

A life was built around that bone

A composition of dedication and passion

Of fervor and loyalty

Of knowing and knowing and knowing

 

A broken bone now

A valley of dry and dead ones

Mountain of dedication now dead and buried

Life of single-minded purpose for a higher being

Now a life of shards and sharp points where the breaking made her fall into herself

Cut herself

Bleeding into the collasped canyon of a soul bruised and battered beyond recognition

Of a god whose tongue got cut out

Of a god who hung up the phone

Of a god who pulled the rug out from under her

Of a god who threw the broken pieces like darts on a dart board

Bone after bone after bone

What good are they now

 

That bone named faith

Put back together like needles glued together from her haystack of a life

That bone renamed

Freedom it cries

Freedom is its name

 

{words to a silent god, c. 2016}

::written as part of #diveintopoetry found here::

silent roar

Processed with VSCO with 7 preset

 

“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::::

beauty is still beauty

image

people think i walked away from my faith.
that somehow i un-chose god.
there is nothing i have tried harder at in my life than chasing god,
than choosing him, over and over, and over again.
his place in my heart underguirded, surrounded, and encompassed everything, there was nothing untouched by what i once deemed as his presence.
the loss of god was not desired or wanted on any level.
it happened in waves,
day after day,
month after month,
silence upon silence
lie upon lie.
first a drop, then trickle, then stream. then waves turned crashing. almost drowned in the absence, the nothingness.
he wasn’t there to breathe anymore, as my lifeblood, my oxygen.
left to my own devices, it wasn’t a lack of faith that got me there.
it was an unwillingness to give up that turned everything inside out.
someday the wreckage will all be gone, the remnants of a drowning silence washed away on the shores of truth. like a picture drained of color, yet still is profoundly beautiful, even moreso. life is still here in me, it is just all different now. beauty is still beauty, even when the colors change. i’m going to be okay, more than okay. beauty can become even more beauty-filled when truth is fully embraced.

{words to a silent god, c. 2016}