A poem about Divorce- Maybe

Maybe

Maybe we’re getting divorced because you put the stick of butter in front of the butter dish instead of in it.

Maybe we’re getting divorced because I vacuum and you just can’t see the dirt.

Maybe we’re getting divorced because I make more money than you and you stayed home to raise our boys.

Or the long commute or the fact that you snore when you sleep or the way my voice goes up an octave when I am really upset…Or the affairs and lies (yours, mine, ours) or the time you screamed that you hated me, you really hated me

There are a lot of relationships that survive more than this, you said.
You weren’t specific. One of our faceless therapists nods.
They don’t get divorced, you said. And “divorced” sounded poisonous, wrong.

You are right and I nod but in my heart my reasons are enough.
They all add up and congeal into one concise document with all of the wording just right.
The blame is left out of the margins and neat sentences cover up all of the pieces that read between the lines

You bend over to sign.

The pen smudges and curves

It no longer matters.

The end remains the same

More Poetry- Another Storm, Brother

Another Storm, Brother

Torrential down pour
Rain splattering against the window
But that isn’t what wakes me

Engine groaning, spinning but not catching as it should
Over and over it starts and stops until I stand
Feet on soft carpet

Slipping one finger through the tight metal blinds
Pushing one slat from another
From my bedroom
Your stalled 65’ Falcon
Navy blue with silver so polished it reflects like a full length mirror

So many times
You have peeled out of our driveway on its deep tires
And I always envied how you rolled away with your windows down
Arm extended as you straighten the rearview

You stop trying to start
And you leave your sanctity
the rain is coming down so hard
that your image blurs almost immediately
I push the blinds further apart to see where you are going

Standing at the rear you push forward
Nothing accomplished
Nothing gained
and I know
I should be out there

If nothing else maybe to see if you’re okay
because that’s what we all would have done
if this were an episode
of The Brady Bunch
but our family was never that together
and I am not strong enough to hear you yell
or watch you cry

I remove my finger
The metal catches and grabs and the slats are now crooked
And I can still see you continue to push
your prize
that is slowly starting to slide into the middle of the street
knowing that I am not
close enough
to help

Single Mom Life Part 2

In his novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom writes, “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”

When I first read this, I was in my early 20s, savagely blaming both of my parents for my myriad of hurts.  I felt as if I were the final description, the shattered glass on the floor, broken beyond repair.  I have since learned that this damage is reversible.  I have painstakingly tried to glue the pieces back together in a pattern of my own.  I choose to look at the glued pieces or scars in a positive way, knowing that the light would refract differently off of me if I were still one piece.  Perhaps the repaired cracks are stopgaps.  I am more caring and empathetic to those who are also looking at their scattered remains.  If my glass was clear, I might not be so open.

Now that I am an adult with two little boys, I read this quote differently.  I wonder with each misspoken word what my smudges will look like. I can only pray that I have not nor will I crack a part of them.  Despite my eloquent twistings above about my repair job, I hope to leave this life without causing such damage.  I want only for my imprints to be easily cleaned away with some Windex and a fresh paper towel.  The rest of the world can leave its mark on my little guys, and I know that it will.  Their glass will be bumped and jarred and marked up by a multiple of hands that I may never even meet. Their first love, their bosses, their teachers, their friends…all of these individuals will have a chance and when they do, I want my sons’ glass to be as intact as possible.  There is a strength that can be had in the cracking of the glass.  There is a benefit to knowing how hard you can be hit before you crack.  Both of these things are true, but I believe that my job is to help them through the hits, not be the one who is doing the breaking.

I am sure that I will continue to make my fair share of mistakes.  Greasy, peanut buttery fingerprints will be streaked down their glass from my fingers. I am sure of it.  At the end of the day, I still want to be able to say that the damage I did was wipeable, washable, dissolvable.  I only want them to truly know that they are loved.

The Single Mom Life

 

My closest family is made up of my two little boys.  They both bring a level of contentment to my life that is unmatched. Kissing their little cheeks before I leave for work at 6:15 am is the single most favorite thing in my life.  The warmth of their skin and the sweet smell of their breadth as they exhale upon being slightly jarred by my kiss is joy.  My little one whispering, “I love you, momma,” before he rolls over to snuggle deeper into his blankets makes me smile.  I think it is the way he says “momma.” He gives it a long, two syllable draw which causes him to sound younger than he is.  After I get my fill of him, I going over to the older one.  His blonde hair is all I see and I push it away to kiss him goodbye.  He is less likely to talk, but sometimes he shoots a sudden arm into the air to give me a hug around my neck before I go.  He draws me in and pulls me so close that I fear I am going to fall over, but I let him do it anyway because I fear the day it ends.

This is my morning.  I go off to work to make the only paycheck our family will see.  I am the breadwinner, the bill payer, the laundry doer, the food shopper, the ear cleaner, the band aid giver.  I feel blessed to be part of the thirty percent of single moms above the poverty level.  I feel defeated in the fact that my ex-husband gives me no financial support because one cannot get blood from a stone.

Being a single mom is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I dread the consequence of each painful mistake I make. I secretly pat myself on the back when I have a parental win.  I know many people look down on single moms.  The way I see it there seems to be two concrete stereotypes that exist in our culture.  First is the single mom superhero stereotype.  She is capable of doing everything and anything for everyone.  She takes care of her children and does the job of two parents with ease.  She may even be working two jobs and going back to school.  I have heard of these moms from adults who were raised by them. I have not actually seen or met one in real life. Of my friends, I am the only single mom.  I hope to be viewed as this type of single mom, but I feel I fall short on many occasions.

The second stereotype is the single mom mess.  This is the woman who is more preoccupied with dating than her children.  She clings to her ex for money and support, but she ends up using that money on herself.  She misses school conferences and doesn’t drive her kids to soccer practice.  She would rather troll dating websites for her next man than make dinner for her kids.  She smokes, has tattoos, drinks too much and talks loudly and disparagingly about her useless ex-husband.

I know I am somewhere in between these two worlds.  I would be lying if I said that there haven’t been moments where I was more concerned over my boyfriend’s text message than helping my son put on his cleats before soccer practice.  Sometimes I just want there to be other things in my life than caring for the boys.  I also know that if effort in anyway accounts for anything, I put in a valiant effort every day.  I care more about raising my boys to be kind, respectful young men than I do anything else.  The days that I peel myself up and get them to bed and make sure that they brush their teeth and are all snuggled in are taxing.  They exhaust me beyond words.  But I know the importance of building memories and of being a stable force.

So despite my worries and my fears, I know I must always go back to my mat and trust, trust, trust.

 

 

 

 

Be in this world but not of it. -Jesus of Nazareth

bridgeI love this quote.  It has become my mantra over and over again when I feel myself getting tangled in the web of the world around me.  Sometimes the strings in my life have barbs and they tug and snare, and I think of these words and feel instantly calm.

I said them once to my father as he went on a tirade about some commotion with his family.  He was sad because after his mother’s death his family was squabbling about what to do with certain items, money, and property.  The emotions he was carrying with him were heavy, and I often have a difficult time in the presence of them.  I wanted a way to calm him, soothe his fears and anger, so I said, “Be in this world but not of it.”

He quieted for a moment, then asked, “What does that mean?”  I explained to him that it’s the thought that we are created to be in this world and a part of its manifestations, but as soon as we lose ourselves in the mastication of events, we are lost.

“Think about,” I said.  “We are physical beings.  We are in a physical reality much of the time.  There are events and things that transpire that we cannot control nor should we.  As soon as we start to believe that these events and things are who we are, we lose the thread.  We are spiritual beings living a physical experience.”  He looked at me like I had three heads.  He nodded and continued driving, no longer lamenting the affairs of his family. I felt generally soothed by the fact that he was at least mulling it over.

After a few minutes he turned to me, “So which one of your psycho babble new-aged philosophers taught you that idea?”

I laughed.  “Jesus,” I said.  He paused again.  His deep and abiding love for Catholicism kept him from going any further with his derides.

“So tell me again what this means,” he said. I did, but I am still quite sure he didn’t get it, and truthfully, that’s okay.

The quotes I remember, the mantras that keep me going, the words of wisdom that help steer me in the right direction day after day are here for my journey.  The understanding that we are all here to learn our particular brand of lesson is never lost on me, and I try to remember that before I get frustrated by lack of understanding.  We are all on our own paths and we are shown constant signs to help guide us through, and perhaps showing others our sign posts help them or maybe it just helps us.  As we reaffirm an idea for another, it travels more deeply into the core of us, and there it becomes lodged and more of a truth than it was before.  Either way, it is good.

Trust. Trust. Trust

Wondering About the Nature of Love

heartWhen does someone know she is in love?  Is it just a level of caring that overtakes her softly and then sideswipes her over and over again until she wonders which way is up?  Or is love a combination of waves crashing on a beach, sometimes soft and lapping other times thunderous and raw? Does it matter if the other person loves us back?

I have read every relationship book ever created.  I have read The Rules, and It’s only F*cking Dating, He’s Just Not That Into You, Ignore the Guy and Get the Relationship You Want, Rory Raye, and Bruce Bryans, The Key to Getting His Heart, How to Be the Girl Who Gets the Guy…just to name a few, and I feel I have found the common thread that links them all together.  It is about loving myself first.  Unfortunately, this is the tough part, and these books aren’t entirely helpful in explaining how a person does this.  One suggests “circular dating”, and another is more keen on buying something that the person who is a successful relationship would own.  This way you are already materializing the good things you will have in the future. There are visualizations and experimentations, drawing clear boundaries, and feeling your emotions.  It’s all pretty exhausting.

A few months ago I went to the 2017 Flower Show at the Convention Center in Philadelphia.  I decided to go alone. I was going to take advice from one of my countless advisers: Just date yourself for awhile.  As I walked among the myriad flower displays, a cold loneliness washed over me. It was surreptitious at first.  I had fooled myself into thinking that I was totally having fun weaving in and out of the vendors, closely studying the beautiful displays.  It was right around then that I started to notice couples everywhere.  They were holding hands or kissing under arbors, snuggling up to catch a selfie, and I felt the bottom drop out.  I texted my mom.

Me: At at the Flower Show

Mom: That’s great, Honey

Me: I am on a date with myself

Mom: Oh, that’s wonderful

Me: I just realized something

Mom: What’s that?

Me: I don’t even want to date me

Silence.  It was at that moment that I realized I had run into a wall.  If the truth was that I could not even have a good time with myself, then what was I expecting on the other side of all of this.  I realized with sudden clarity that it was not love I was seeking, but a body to fill the void and keep me from me.  But why?  Why go to such lengths just to avoid me?  It would be in meditation that the answer was found.

In the silence, I remembered.  I remembered being that sad, little girl sitting in her room, ignored by the adults around her.  I remember my dad laughing and telling people that he could always hear me talking to myself. I was alone so much.  A child of divorce and a father who worked seven days a week…there wasn’t much time for me.  The thought of being alone catapulted me back to that moment if I wanted to go there or not, but then I remembered something Eckhart Tolle had said, “Our past is merely an interpretation of events.”  The loneliness certainly didn’t feel fabricated.  It felt very real and I resented those adults who didn’t care for me.  Either way the past was sitting in my lap during my meditation and I allowed it. I gave the pain and the loneliness space to be.  I did not deny that little girl the feeling of her loneliness, but I reminded the adult me, who was coming to realize that she was already whole.   I tried gentleness as opposed to an egoic tug of war with myself.  I allowed it to just be.  I wish I could say that it all dissipated and at that moment I was free, but any student of meditation knows that it seldom works that way.  My little girl self returns with a vengeance or sometimes a gentle tapping, but she always returns for the compassionate reassurance that she is not alone.

So going back to love…I feel that the best is on the mat, deep in meditation and silence.  I go within when I am overwhelmed with these emotions, even if going to the mat means I stop in a public place to catch my breath.   Currently, I am in love with a man.  I am trying not to let my white, hot loneliness take over, but I am filled whearts3ith fear. I want to nail this down, figuring it out, give it a title, know that it is all going to work out, but I have to go back to my mat.  I need to recalibrate and focus on what is real.  Love from Source.  Love that is already me.

Trust. Trust. Trust.

Abuse and the Empath

loveWhen I was child, I was abused by my father. When I did anything wrong, I was beaten with either a hand or belt. I was most scared of the thinner belts.  They hurt the most.  My father has a “funny” story that he used to tell when we would be sitting around the dinner table.  It went something like this…

I was four or five and I had wandered around the block.  This was wrong. I was not allowed to go past the house with the big white pillars and the small porch.  This was a rule, but I had broken it.  Perhaps I was chasing a butterfly, maybe I just wanted to openly defy the rule. I don’t remember why I broke this rule; I just remember that I did.  As a cycled back around the corner, I saw my father’s angry eyes.  His mouth was twisted and I knew that he was furious.  I knew that I was caught.

“Don’t beat me, Daddy,” I cried as I put my hands across my behind to try and save myself from a subsequent beating.  My father’s face changed as he glanced at the few neighbors who were watering their gardens are putting out their potted plants.  He smiled and bent to the ground, supporting himself on one knee.

“It’s ok, baby,” he said soothingly.  “I am not going to hurt you.” I smiled and ran into his arms.  He hugged me as he carried me into the house.  I buried my tear-stained face into his neck and sighed.  I did not notice that we were walking back towards the house.

And this is the part my father always thought was most amusing, the part that he would chuckle while saying,

“So here she thinks she got me,” he would continue.  “She thought she could manipulate me and embarrass me in front of the neighbors, but I showed her.  When I got her inside, I spanked her so hard she didn’t even know what hit her, and I made sure she really knew I was serious because I really laid into her.  She never did that again.”

And I didn’t do that again…throughout my life, I don’t think I ever did that again.  How terribly did that scar me?

I find it difficult to trust men.

I believe all men lie to me or are going to hurt me if I give them an ounce of trust.

I fear men and the things they are capable of doing to me.

How does a person have an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite gender when this is just one “story” in a vast sea of abuse?

How long will it take me to walk away from these stories to find myself in the rubble of a broken childhood, a broken marriage, a broken life?

I know that dwelling on this past and sitting in these stories detract me from the present moment and feed my victim story, so I am trying to relinquish them to a time that is no longer here, but I do feel a sense of loss when I think about letting this story go.  I do feel like this story shaped me, but at the same time I also feel like it is keeping me small.  It is keeping me from freedom.

I am not that five year old girl holding her butt in front of her angry father.  There are no large men lurking in the distance waiting to beat me for my wrongdoings, but I still act as if I am.

How do I let go?  By writing it here in this sacred space?  Maybe by telling the truth about my past, I can let each story go with a touch of the “publish” button, shedding each layer of skin one story at a time.

And perhaps I need to be reminded of the following:

“You have to be larger than thought to realize that however you interpret “your life” or someone else’s life or behavior, however you judge any situation, it is no more than a viewpoint, one of many total perspectives.” – Eckhart Tolle