And I was stuck in an in between…

clock midnight

One of the amazing things about having writing pacts with writing friends is the grace we give each other when we have had a crazy or overwhelming week… the permission for kindness to self over following through on a commitment.  The push to follow through when it is just procrastination.  You can follow my friend’s “pact prompts” and blog here.

My friend pulled a line from one of my writings and gave it to me, saying it could be expanded upon.  That is our pact… we, any given week, have three “pulled lines” from our writing that we can use as a prompt for expansion (or for a total left turn).  This week’s chosen line is from a Writing Your Grief: Round One piece I did back in the December course:

“I don’t believe it will ever go away completely. Baring a heart and brain transplant.  And even then… the body remembers.”

The body remembers.  It remembers everything.  It remembers things the brain never even knew… or was forced to forget by its coping mechanisms.

When I didn’t remember, consciously… the body remembered.  It reacted to things that made no sense for it to be reacting to.

I would startle awake as I drifted to sleep.  The very act of drifting to sleep made me startle awake.  That moment… in the in between… A ‘tween’ place… that moment had something in it that the body remembered and the mind never knew.

It still doesn’t.  But I don’t always startle awake in that in between anymore.  Sometimes.  But not EVERY time.  Not like before.

It was the tween between wake and sleep.  Perhaps the scariest tween for me.

But there are so many more.  There’s the tween between good and bad.  Between light and dark.  Between black and white.

In this show I used to watch, Charmed, there was this episode where a little girl was being terrorized by trolls… but the trolls could only get to her when she was in an in between.  A tween place.  A shadow (light and dark).  A doorway (in and out).  And… midnight… when the world becomes one giant tween place.

I don’t know for certain and I probably never will… but I think that my world came crashing down around me in that giant tween place.  That hour of midnight.

Both times.

That June.  And that April.  Both.

And oddly enough… it was a tween between two months.  At midnight that night… March became April.  Two tweens together… me falling apart.

Happy April Fools.

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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 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.