I Know What You Did Last Summer; We’ll Speak No Evil

No, I don’t really know what you did last summer nor the summer before. Not even the summer I originally wrote this, but although circumstances changed for some of us, I know it still speaks to what someone is enduring today. We all cope with painful events, but is it also necessary for them to be hidden, secreted away for whatever sake?

I live in an average nice community of nice families. We’re privileged to send our children to wonderful schools and numerous extracurricular activities.  We live in a flurry of motion around those needs, our work, and the occasional indulgences for grown-ups.  We live a life of wonderful.  At least, from all appearances that’s what it seems like.

The truth behind this peaceful picture is that life is really not unlike the quiet drama worthy of Wisteria Lane, the street belonging to the now defunct TV show Desperate Housewives.

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Of our group of housewives, two have just got diagnoses for severe diseases. One is being supported ideally, the other enduring the painful lesson of learning who her real friends are and terribly embarrassed about it. One of us is managing stage 4 cancer. That’s dismal enough, but what’s not so well-known is that she is also enduring painful loneliness caused by friends too afraid to visit anymore. One of us left a husband who drank too much and another got away from her abusive husband. Of course, nobody would ever have guessed that about either of those husbands.

Still more, there are a few of us living in quiet desperation while trying to find ways to re-kindle the strength of our relationships, and there are at least five of us in serious financial jeopardy. Another, utterly crushed by the tragic news that her father, who was out on a stroll, was killed by a stranger for no apparent reason.  Another average year in the neighbourhood except that, unless you’re one of us directly involved, you wouldn’t know it.

We talk easily about certain subjects, other people who are fighting illnesses, etc., but there are other aspects even within that topic that aren’t talked about. These are the subjects that are too awful or too personal.  But what does too personal really mean?  Is ‘too personal’ a masked phrase for ‘must be kept quiet in order to preserve a comfortable, but false, image’?  What is the image? What is the reward for preserving it?

Over the years, life has progressively got just a little more real for many of us.  We all know that happens on an intellectual level, but when it happens to us, we aren’t comfortable talking about it. We may very selectively choose whomever to unburden ourselves to a point. The trials of something breaking down are uncomfortable, often thought to be some kind of failing.

We don’t talk about these ‘failings’ beyond a certain level because?  You fill in the blank, but I’d bet all the answers will boil down to the fear of being judged.  If it’s about inability to cope with discussion, that’s another story, but maybe that’s a walk down the same road too anyway.

All of the events I noted are supposedly out of the ordinary, but I’ve been reconsidering this idea because they are all circumstances that happen every day somewhere near and far. What isn’t obvious, because of pretenses, is that there is virtually no household that hasn’t, or isn’t dealing with something they don’t want the neighbours to know about.

That’s a whole lot of judgment to put to bed. That’s a whole lot of excellent support potential, and think of the amazing advice waiting to be shared. That’s a lot of unrealized hope.

I’m open about my own issues because I’ve been shown that my stories are not unique. My problems are not special, not even the very worst of them. My friends have heard loads about the divorce that never ends, and myriad woes before & since. Whatever feelings I may have had in fear of judgment were, and are, wasted heartache. Secrets degrade every level of our being. The shame and fear I once had, claimed far too much of the precious time I could have had learning and moving on.

I’m not the circumstances that I’m in at the moment.  I am an entire lifetime of experiences that contain many highs in the light with the lows in the dark and murky.  Which ones do you think I’ve learned the most from?

Maybe we need to take it to heart that, when life is getting real with us, we need to start getting real with it.  Let’s stop pretending that we are only as good as our image.  It’s a terribly weak foundation to learn from, or teach how to overcome struggles. We really are all in the same boat, and once in a while we have to share the rowing.

When we share our perceived weaknesses, we learn so much more than we can ever imagine in fear. As we become genuine, we end up twice as strong, and eventually life does become genuinely lighter for us, and in all the places that secrets diminish.

We shall overcome.  Together.

Incidentally, if I ever look like I’m in need of a soothing hot beverage, would you make it the kind over ice, with a twist? Then, let’s talk.

RL

When I Set Fire To The Pain

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What’s sorrow really, mom?  …  It’s  hurt, sweetie.  It’s this really deep grief, usually from losing love in some way, mostly suddenly…  and I won’t say it, but it breaks my heart to know that it will happen someday for even my sweet, sweet baby. And another tear falls…

God… how many times have I heard it said, “It’s better to have loved & lost than to never have loved at all”?  Well, that may be true, probably it’s true… like the old Garth Brooks song that said, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance”.  Except when you first feel the pain…. you just think, oh God, I really don’t want this dance… I really can’t do this; this is way too much to ask… Why isn’t it too wrong to ask that I endure this?

This pain… the pain of losing soul deep love… Seemingly snatched so quickly that you struggle to remember that they were real… that you held them,  that you saw them, that you heard them… and you think how… how is it possible that they could actually have been here?

How is it possible that they weren’t just a figment of your imagination when you finally realize, when you truly, honestly, completely know … that you will never, ever touch them again… that you will never, ever hear their voice again… that you will never, ever hear them say to you again, I love you… I love you… I love you…

I’m really not sure what the worst of it all is. I can’t quite tell if it’s during the immediate shock of the event that swells my heart into a pillow that suffocates breath or that new quiet of the day that emerges later… the lack of talking about nothing… the no laughing over just dumb or asking, sweetie – what do you think?  Maybe that’s the most searing – those new quiet holes… those utterly empty extra minutes.

The fall, when sorrow called again, I switched on the autopilot. Only creativity was exceptional.  The anger of pain has always been the most fruitful muse for me.  Anger… once again my friend, made words fly through my fingertips faster than I could speak…through the struggle to breathe…and the primal desire to hit things and hurl them and hurt anything…

Grief, like fear, transmutes my normal fire into an inferno, a – set fire to the rain – fury. My inner warrior surges fiercely from me to fight and slash recklessly at the brutal fates; to slay the enemy of dreams, hopes and plans.  To demand back what was mine, even while feeling within those pitiable new spaces of my broken heart, that it is only futility I battle.

He knew me… He knew me. Whenever I was rattled, he’d often say, poor bunny, you feel so much, so deeply….And just the sound of his voice saying those words was a comforting balm, a soothing hug.  And he was right… I so do and I wonder how do I get myself through this too… Can I?

And then, eventually, reluctantly, I will admit yes, I suppose I will. I always have. It’s not even a choice, I just will. I know all of this; I’ve been on this ride awhile. I know I will slump soon… into a mix of muted warrior inertia.

I’ve lost before.  I will breathe… I’ll walk through the motions of normal… in between the bouts of sobs and fury…and repeat, until I get to somewhere around the new normal.  My spirit will once again console my heart.

Losses…to accidents or illnesses, those brutally tragic events, or to mental health issues, addiction issues, betrayals and even a great love gone wrong, this pain is the same sorrow.  I know it is – I’ve lost people to all of these circumstances.  When someone is gone, they’re gone and if you love them, it doesn’t hurt any less.

They’re gone… and that’s all we can feel – for as long as it takes to find our new steps in a changed song, until hopefully one day, we’ll also vaguely realize we’re humming the new melody under our breath.

And we plod on, hopeful…

RL

Thank you DQ, so much, for your generous support.

When Muses Say Goodbye

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Right there in his hands
He’d held the light, finally
Rescue imminent

RISE, love cried loudly
Please don’t shout so, he bemoaned
I’ll just fall down

Swampy Sirens crooned
Songs full of stale, trite intrigue
Their shadows, now home

Angels cried, silence
Hush all those false noises, Shh
It’s up to you now

RL

One day we will rescue RA
Photo credit:  New Hope, by DaXXe. Thanks, DaXXe.

Roads that Twist Love

Have you ever come across someone who could break your heart, no matter how far away from them you could get?

Sister MirrorI had a best friend like that; no matter how often we did or didn’t speak, she could somehow open a wound just by existing.  I know that sounds odd, but all those years ago, when we once were so close, the bitterness of her wounds began to run too deep and widely.

It’s been years since I was last within her grasp, but even now I never know who I will run across or when something will let me know that her reach may be interminable; infinite maybe.  Probably.

Her ways back then were so needy.  She needed to be the biggest, the best, the most regarded, and the only.  She jealously guarded her needs.  She would place herself squarely in front of whoever was to be her latest trophy for career advancement, for recognition, for friends, for love.

I know where those wounds began, I know what they’re from, but what I don’t know is why they became stuck within her, why they screeched a halt to her ability to see with light.  I’m not even certain when that started, but one thing for sure, the child within flat-lined any more emotional development.

She needed special, which was measured according to what was special to someone else.  Coveting, I think that’s what that’s called, except she needed to covet up close and personal.  It really didn’t matter what the source of the glitter that caught her eye: someone else’s community recognition, someone else’s parental praise, someone else’s loves.  Nothing was off limits, as even I would eventually learn.

There were signs when things started heading south for her.  Accusations began to overtake any conversations, then retributions were meted out generously. Punishment of choice -malicious slander and brutal betrayal. Soon anyone near was indicted and we would all get turns at being the source of her poisoned well. Hell hath no fury like un-eased fears.

After a while, despair was not about living off the guilt of who did her wrong; within a few years of committing 6 of the 7 deadly sins, it was completely about how her own guilt was smothering her. The only way to keep ahead of that is to hit, numb, and run.

There was one moment when she realized the source of her pain was really found in a mirror, but it was only a brief dawning.  Besides, time is stopped for the inner child. They believe they have forever to tilt at windmills and they never really see how much the world has kept turning without them.

Someone told me recently how much he had loved her so many years ago.  I know how that felt, when we knew her. I live with the loss of that long ago love too. I don’t hate her – anymore, but I did learn that it’s not necessary for the both of us to drink the poison.

I also now know the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.  When we weren’t serving the purpose of total agreement with her, we got to experience her ‘or else’, and we were cast out without second thought. Some of us kept walking. I’d learn that a certain level of indifference was life-saving. Leaving the well to save oneself is not casting a stone upon another.

I don’t think of her every day anymore and I don’t feel that hurt either. Once in a while, I may fleetingly think about that someone I used to know.  I don’t try to understand any of it either. The most I will do now, is simply wish love and good health for her, and to continue in my own journey to move on in the same.

RL

Thank you to some people who inspired me to finally work out years of rumination.  Although I’m pretty sure they don’t know exactly what they said, I hope they’ll see some reflection of the thoughts they shared: Roberta Boulette, Christy, Melanie, and Rachel – Sisters to me, one and all – thanks.

The Bandwidth of Pain

Whose Story Will Be the Worst?

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We all have a story to tell, I search for yours to better understand mine.

We all have a story that waits to be heard.   No matter how uplifting or how dire the tale may seem, we all have known pain and we’ve all known joy.  We like to mostly brag about the joyful things in life and to show off, a little, all the good we have.  It’s good to say my happiness in life is good, and maybe even a little special.

On the other hand, how odd and strange is it that we sometimes take great pains to take measure of the pain of others too? To judge whose suffering is worse or not, or even worthy?  Are we really special because of the ways we have been subjected to pain?

Regardless of our circumstances, richer or poorer, surrounded by many or none, we encounter the same range of emotions from various ranges of circumstances.  It is only the circumstances that cause us to judge what pain level is necessary, appropriate or even merited, as though some of us may have got away with something.

Some of us have had been abandoned as children, some only temporarily, but even so both groups will share those first moments of realization that they had been left behind on purpose.

Some of us have been told our bodies hold disease with early fatal outcomes.  Some will die, and some will have some amazing intervention that continues life, but what real difference was there in their feelings when they were first told that news?

Some of us have lost loved ones from sudden tragedies, lingering illnesses, and even family disputes.  Is the pain from these losses so significantly different?  Do we miss one more?

Whether we burn our hand on a match or a hot coffee, or lose our only key to the car, or if our laptop gets smashed, or we lose our last dollar, deeply or nor not, there isn’t any shortage of situations where life will shoot shards of feeling through us until we scramble for ways to cope and/or beg for escape.

The moments of aches and heartbreak may not rise from the exact same stories, but really there is only so much bandwidth for feelings.  How we feel them varies in degrees according to our natures and of course the circumstances, but short of incapacitation or an early death, we will all experience the range in some way in our lifetimes.

No one really, should feel like they are the only ones to feel what they have, not for the sake of comfort in a ‘misery loves company’ kind of way, but hopefully at a minimum, to share compassion that comforts.

Ideally, we would grow to focus on our commonalities and heal together. Our shared stories are guides to solutions.  It is the stories of how and how well we overcame pain that really says who we are.

Everybody’s story deserves to be heard; only some of us get that benefit, especially if we speak or write in public forums.  When we tell our stories, we think they are only our own, but I have to wonder, when we do tell them, how many of our seven billion people are we really speaking for?

 RL