And there was relief in the darkness…

darkness everywhere

I am in limbo.  A limbo of… not who I was Before but not who I will be After.

“We are meeting people in a space between ‘no longer’ and ‘not yet’.” – Joan Borysenko

I am becoming.

“It is too soon for the mind of night to have darkened things, no place looks like itself, loss of outline makes everything look strangely in-between, unsure of what has been, or what might come.”

Limboing.  Lulls in-between.  Spaces in-between.  Hard-work in-between.

In-between?  It looks like “where everything seems withheld”… where “you cannot lay claim to anything”…  “And you can see nowhere to put your trust.”

Trust?  That one is hard.  Who can you trust?  Who isn’t going to leave you?  Who isn’t going to betray?  Who is going to listen?  Who is going to hear?  Who is going to catch me?  Who is going to stay?

Those who once were Trust no longer are… and those who may become Trust… aren’t there yet.

“But nothing here seems to believe in relief of darkness.”

Relief of darkness?  Is this a relief of privacy?  Of people not knowing?

I’m not there anymore.  But I’m not in the light yet.

In a space between ‘no longer’ and ‘not yet’.

But it’s not ‘not yet’… it is ‘not ever’…

There will always be relief of darkness because I can always return to the darkness.

That choice is always there.  And it is mine.

I could always disappear.  Or this could.  Or both.

Being here… in this space-between.  This is a choice.

“There’s darkness everywhere when the sun goes down.”

That’s science… that’s fact.  That can’t be avoided.  The sun provides our light.  And without it, we are in the dark.  That’s literal darkness and it comes without choice.

Here, now… I have a choice.  Whether to be in the dark or step into the light.  Trust comes in because… I could always be pushed into the light unwillingly.

But I can still retreat to the darkness.  It’s a big world.  I could still disappear.  And that’s relief.  That’s comfort.

I could always disappear.

*Italicized quotes taken from “Interium Time” by John O’Donohue

And I was destroyed (more?)

caution

My weekly writing pact has transformed a little bit: my friend and I are sending each other three lines from our previous writing that could be expanded into a completely separate piece.  When my friend sent me a line I was going to write about this week, I wasn’t sure how to even approach it.  Then, I wasn’t sure I wanted to approach it… or even try to touch it with a ten foot pole.  

I’m still not sure.  So… I will write out the line, find the context I meant it in when I originally wrote it, set a timer, and go:

“Why did they have to take that from me?  And how do I take it back?”

This line wasn’t about any of the obvious things that were taken from me.  It was about something that wasn’t obvious that was taken… it was about something intense… something that makes a normal act of endearment force me to cringe and step away shaking.

That doesn’t always happen now.  But it did at first.

There’s a line… between taking one thing from someone and taking everything.  There’s a line between… doing the “traditional” things that are done in an act and completely destroying somebody.

“You clouded my judgement.  I DESTROYED that girl.”

Only no one’s judgement was clouded, except maybe mine.

Destroy.  To destroy something is put an end to the existence of (something) by damaging or attacking it.  Or to ruin (someone) emotionally or spiritually.

So when they took something else from me… something greater than what had already been taken… was I any more destroyed than I would have been anyways?

I guess I will never know.  There is no way to know.


But if I had to guess… I’d go with what I had been saying all along: if a few specific things had been different then, things would be vastly different now.

And I care, okay?

bricks

Sharing the writing that came out of a writing prompt this morning.  This one kind of messed with me:

No one will break?  No one will cry?  No one will turn to stone?  No one will turn away?

Promise?

“You cannot truly grieve within and remain composed without.” – I’ve been doing that for A YEAR (almost to the date exactly a year).  My outside life and world has changed vastly but it hasn’t come crashing down.  It hasn’t lost its composure.  Because it can’t.  Because I can’t handle that.  Because I can’t go there.  So it doesn’t because it can’t.

That doesn’t mean what I’m doing and what I’ve been doing for this past year isn’t TRUE.  I rarely use the word “grieving” to describe what I’m doing… because I just don’t feel right about it… but that IS what I am doing, and I am doing it.

Just because I don’t fall apart on the outside doesn’t mean that this isn’t real or true or… happening.  “I could pretend, but that pretending cost me. I could be reasonable, but telling that lie was exhausting.” – I did pretend.  I pretended for years.  And it DID cost me.  It was exhausting.  Perhaps what it cost me was my ability to fall apart on the outside – because I never could so I never did.

“Emotion is an extroverted phenomenon, and it cannot find its much-needed release if expressed only internally.  Denied an outward expression, grief grows stronger and organizes itself like a hurricane that can rise up and sweep us away.”

I often feel the threat of this.  Or the worry of it.  The idea that… one wrong move, one wrong word, everything will come crashing down.  Everything.

“Conceal.  Don’t feel.  Put on a show.  Make one wrong move and everyone will know.”

These walls and this safety that I’ve built.  These emotions that everyone thinks I should have that I don’t have but maybe they’re in there somewhere.  Everything. Comes. Tumbling. Down.

If that happens… I don’t know.  I don’t know what will happen.  I don’t know what I will do.

“Or worse, continue to live, untouched by what you’ve lived?” – I’ve often wondered about this.  I resent the word “worse” here.  Who is to say that is worse?  Who is to say that things weren’t better or easier when this was all just inside and totally dormant?  Who says?  And why do they get a say?  I’ve questioned whether I could go back to this place: it wouldn’t take a lot, or maybe it would take everything.  It would mean cutting ties.  It would mean… putting up walls that are down now.  It would mean a lot of things, but also not a lot of things.  I could do that.  And some days I yearn for that.  Some days I honestly have no idea why I don’t just do that, as if it is inevitable.  Some days I believe that doing that means the whole process of the last year will just inevitably come out again at another time.

And as a total left turn to try to get back on topic… sometimes I like the redemptive storylines that seem to be being written a lot more of late.  I like reading or watching the reasoning behind why some characters are the way they are… why is the Evil Queen evil and what did she really have against Snow White?  Why did Maleficent curse Princess Aurora?  What really made the Snow Queen freeze the world?

These stories teach second chances.  They teach choice.  They teach consequences.  Are those bad things to learn?

“Evil isn’t born, dearie, it’s made.”

So if it was made… it can be unmade, right?  Redemption.

But then I look at the guys who did what they did to me… and I just don’t fucking care.  I don’t care what their fucking story is.  I don’t care what happened to them.  I don’t care if what they did to me was done to them.  I don’t care about the hoops and the jumps and the consequences.

“This isn’t a STORY!  This is reality.”

I care about what they took from me.  There.  I said it.  I do.  I care about that.  I care about what they did to me.  I feel the weight of it in every move I made in every part of my day.  I care about that.  I care about how they stole things from me… time… virtues… bullshit stuff that maybe I shouldn’t even care about.  I do.  I care about that.

So it doesn’t matter WHY.  It matters THAT.  That they did that.  That they took that.  That they stole that.  That they did this, and that, and that, and this.  That is what matters to me… because that is what they left me with.

They didn’t leave me with redemption so why the fuck should I care about theirs?

Maybe, maybe, maybe.  Or, alternatively, actually.  ACTUALLY, what they did wasn’t okay no matter what happened to them.  ACTUALLY, what they did wasn’t okay no matter what they believe in.  ACTUALLY, they did this to me.  Not me.  I didn’t do this to me.  I didn’t at all.

I was such a careful person.  Then… I’m not even talking now.  THEN.  I was such a careful person.  I was SO careful.  I was so smart.  I was so safe.  I always had a plan and a back up plan and a plan after that.  I was always so careful.  And it didn’t matter.

I was such a strong person.  My childhood was shit but that shit gave me strength and resilience.  I had endurance and perseverance; that is how I lived my teen years which should have been filled with rebellion and idiocy.  That is how I lived my life.  Peace.  Perseverance.  Hardwork.

Careful.  Cautious.  Wise.  Smart.  Safe.

And none of it mattered.  And none of it mattered… because of them.

And that’s not okay.

And now I’m crying.  And I don’t cry.  And I don’t cry about this… so it is rather uncomfortable for me to be crying, and still continuing to write through the tears.

I just really struggle to illustrate on the page how not okay any of this was.  Fucking words.  There just aren’t any.

But it wasn’t okay.  And the fear I continue to experience because of their actions is not okay.  And the soundtracks I continue to hear on repeat in my brain because of what they said to me is not okay.

And it NEVER WILL BE.  It will never be okay that this happened.  It will never be okay that they did that.  It will never be okay that I am here now.  That’s just not okay either.


I don’t want anybody to look at me.  Ever.  And it isn’t because I’m afraid they will turn to stone.  It is because I am afraid they will see me.

And life handed me lemons…

lemons

I don’t think we are in control of the darkness that is handed to us in life… I don’t even think we are always in control of how we respond to that darkness.  I don’t think the 90/10 principle applies to some of the horrendous things that go on in this world… I think sometimes life is about survival, not making fucking lemonade.

The human body and mind is a pretty incredible creation: it is resilient.  It has countless mechanisms at its disposal to protect itself, both mentally and physically.  Just look at what people survive in this world.  We survive things we don’t even know we’re surviving because if we knew at the time, there’s no way our bodies would continue to function the way that we need them to.

I hate the notion circulating social media and society in general that we control our lives and our destinies and that everything happens for a reason.  Excuse my french, but fuck that.

Sometimes it is a tricky balance for me: I look at friends who are never happy and choose to air their discontent on facebook… who hate their jobs and their husbands and always seem to have a complaint about how difficult their life is or how rotten their kids are… and I cringe.  They are stuck in a cycle and they are the only ones with power to change it.  And if you make the choice to stay in it, take that up with your therapist; it isn’t for airing on your facebook wall.  But then I remind myself that I’m assuming they know they have a choice, or that they know how to do it differently, and not everyone knows that.

But then I look at people who have been given zero choice in life… abuse, trauma, disease, death, natural disasters… their lives aren’t about taking the lemons and making lemonade; their lives are about surviving.  Life isn’t “handing” them lemons, anyways; it is shooting them point blank at their faces.  Sometimes they can only take life a day at a time… and sometimes they can only take life a moment at a time.  And sometimes… just sometimes… they are working their asses off to deal with the darkness they’ve been dealt so they can actually be happy, or at least be different than they are now.

For both groups of people… for the ones who need to learn that they do have a say and a choice in their happiness, and for those whose lives are simply about getting through the day while still breathing… I’m not sure reading a stupid facebook meme is really going to help them in any way.  I’m guessing they might even send their thoughts into a huge spiral of shame and guilt regarding why they “can’t just get better”.  Is that really helpful?

If you’re someone who believes that everyone has a choice about their life… I encourage you to empower people personally.  You may have no idea the impact you can have on someone by simply reaching out or being willing to listen.  If you see someone struggling with disliking their job or a certain aspect of their life… try to put yourself in their shoes and look at what really might be holding them back from making a change there: do they know they can change it? Do they understand how powerful they can be?  Do they have the means to get out of that situation?  If they don’t, perhaps you can be a positive influence on them.

And if you’re someone who believes that bad things happen to good people to try to teach them a lesson of some kind… or so they can “get” something out of it… so they can walk in authority on that issue and learn to help other people through the same things… I truly hope you will never ever experience anything that shows you how wrong you are.      

And I turned off the switch…

light switch

“I am not sure what happens if you pull a switch off the wall and take away the order and control all together, but I am guessing exposed wires still active with electricity are just bad news.”

This is from another piece of writing I did when I was talking about how pain isn’t a spectrum… it is a switch.  It is either on or off.  How we, as kids, play games with light switches where we try to balance them between on and off.  How I wish I could install a dimmer switch so I would have total control… so that it wasn’t a switch, on or off…

But what WOULD happen if there wasn’t switch?

Would all control really be lost?  With electricity raging everywhere?

I don’t know why I chose to write into this… because it has been years since I’ve ever read anything about how electricity works, and I wasn’t great at getting the light bulb to light up when we hooked the wires to the battery or… whatever… yeah.  Science, not my strength, okay?  So I don’t actually know what happens if you pull a switch off the wall and leave it all exposed…

But I think that that only poses a problem to people who actually try to touch the switch.

And that’s already a problem anyways, right?  So… maybe I would be better without the order and control.

If I’ve learned one thing about control in the past year, it is that no matter how much control we think we have, we are actually really powerless.

I hate feeling powerless.

If I feel powerless more than I am trying to be in control, maybe I should just surrender.

Maybe there is power in that vulnerability.  

And I was irretrievably changed…

broken glass

I made a ‘writing pact’, with a friend from the Writing My Grief course I mentioned, to write once a week outside the daily prompts (a minimum of 500 words).  This is Week One (spoiler alert: likely contains spoilers for John Green’s Looking for Alaska).

“You can’t just make me different and then leave… you can’t just make yourself matter and then die, Alaska, because now I am irretrievably different, and I’m sorry I let you go, yes, but you made the choice.  You left me…” (p. 172)

Earlier today, I finished reading Looking for Alaska by John Green.  It is one of those books that makes you wish you were in a book club because it leaves you with so much to sift through and process.  I’m doubtful I’ll let my copy away from me anytime soon, as I feel quite attached to it and I feel certain no one would want to read it with all the pencil embellishments I’ve added throughout its pages.

The passage above really caught me off guard, especially after the week I’ve been having.  It sort of felt like the sensation of being simultaneously slapped in the face while being punched in the stomach, and all I was doing was reading words.  They resonated with me so closely: “You can’t just make me different and then leave…” I understand Pudge’s sentiment here.  “You can’t” meaning “how could you?”, meaning “how dare you?”, meaning “this is not okay”… because she did, and she’s gone, and there is nothing that could ever change that for him.

And it’s not okay.  It’s not okay for someone to make us irretrievably different and then… leave.  As if the glimpses of them that are permanently reflected in us are sufficient for the rest of our lives.  As if trying to explain, “Oh that?  I didn’t get that from me… I got that from him” over and over again is adequate.  As if it is okay for everyone to not know the origin of your quirks… or confidence… or… love.

I’m not a very confrontational person; sometimes when I am angry, to avoid expressing that anger to the person it is intended for (or because there is no way to express it to the person it is intended for), I flip to a random black page in the middle of my journal and begin writing them a “letter” that I never intend to send them.  As I finished writing notes about what I had just read in Looking for Alaska, I realized that once I turned the page, I will have reached one of those angry letters.  I went to flip past it and a few words caught my eye:

“You disappearing is not going to help me.  It is not going to make me more open to other people.  It isn’t going to make me reach out for support.  That’s what knowing you did.”

Oddly enough, this letter was written to the person I thought of when the book passage first slapped me in the face (Universe – 1, Me  0).  I have been irretrievably changed by someone whose presence no longer exists in my life.  I let them go, yes, but they left.  People leave.  People die.  We remain irretrievably changed by their presence, irreversibly reflecting their influence and irreparably broken by their absence.

This is the fear: I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it.  It is a fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would just have to go without.” (p. 144)

And it was an infinite…

As I mentioned in my last blog, I am going to be sharing some of the writings prompted in the Writing My Grief courses I’ve been taking through Refuge in Grief.  Today, I wrote twice to the same prompt, so I figured that was a good piece to start with:  

Day Three, Take Two

“The same leg is cut off time after time.”

This made me think of phantom limb syndrome.  I learned about this years ago watching a documentary about Bethany Hamilton, the surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack.  I’ve kind of used the logic behind this phenomenon to make my own term of “phantom syndrome”: seeing ghosts of things that aren’t really there.  I mostly created this term when my childhood cat died after 19 years (we had her for 17) and I would frequently think I saw her wandering the house or sleeping where she had always slept, in my periphery.  Misfires of the brain expecting to see what it has always seen.

This phenomenon is different now, with this, with trauma, maybe?  Because this isn’t a misfire of the brain expecting to see what it has ALWAYS seen or experience what it has always experienced.  Not for me.  Not to me; this wasn’t chronic or habitual, right?  The brain can’t have any expectation of this happening again because it happened in this isolated incident, right?

So then, why does it?  It sees things that aren’t there, especially in “like” circumstances, especially in my peripheral vision.  It makes my body feel things that aren’t happening whenever it feels like it.  This wasn’t CHRONIC trauma.  So why does it have to happen over and over again?  Why must the same leg be amputated again and again?  Why is there a novelty in the vast emptiness, endlessly?

Chronic: persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.

Habitual: done or doing constantly.

Chronic: long-lasting and difficult to eradicate.

Habitual: regular; usual.

Eradicate: destroy completely; put an end to.

Constantly: continuously over a period of time; always.

Round and round the words we go.

What’s a “long time”?  What does “long-lasting” mean?  Can something be “difficult to eradicate” if it had a start, a middle and a finish?  What’s a “period of time”?  Words just don’t work here, and that frustrates me.  The definitions aren’t black and white; they don’t define.  Words cause constant failure and disappointment.

Continuously: marked by uninterrupted extension in space, time, or sequence : continuing without intermission or recurring regularly after minute interruptions.

Done.  Full stop.  No more circles.

Instead of trying to make words work for me, when they so clearly can’t… I’m going to make TIME work for me.  Using John Green’s brilliance on math: “I am not a mathematician, but I know this. There is an infinite between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

Infinity: a number greater than any assignable quantity or countable number.

I don’t know what “long time”, “long-lasting” or “period of time” means, numerically or definitionally.  I do know that the experience lasted for an infinite period of time; it’s infinite because it is impossible to measure or calculate.

Just like its damage.

It was chronic and habitual and continuous and constant in the infinite it went on for.  Maybe when my brain decides to misfire, it’s just revisiting its more scarring infinite.  Much like I have to remind my heart that my cat is gone and my mind is just playing tricks on me… I have to patiently remind my heart that I am safe, that that infinite isn’t happening anymore… that that infinite isn’t going to happen again.