I return home to an empty house.
I’m reminded of what I once had,
what is gone now.
They tell me You’ll get better,
You’ll get stronger.
They tell me
This is the best thing
that could’ve happened to you.
But what do they know?
Slogging it out,
one day at a time,
one year at a time,
on most days
I feel too tired to be grateful,
and yet I keep pushing through.
I write in my gratitude journal:
I woke up today.
My sitter was able to come.
I was able to pay for lunch today.
They tell me my gratitude
will open up the gateway to abundance.
But will it help me to live
when I have no money left in my bank account?
I dove even deeper inside myself today.
The children were at school;
they’d be with their dad tonight,
and I had nowhere else to go.
I slowed down.
I listened to music.
I weeded my flower garden,
took out the recycling,
I let go of what I no longer need
so that I can welcome what I really want
into my life.
I took a long hot bath.
I took a nap.
I heard him tell me
in the echo of my memory
You’re just a squatter;
you don’t own that house.
I snuggled in deeper under the covers
and I slept more.
Yes, at some point
I’ll have to figure myself and my life out.
At some point
I’ll most likely need to make some money
to support myself and my children
after all this time.
But it wasn’t today.
Today was for slowing down
and going deeper.
Hello, from the deep.
Hmmm. In today’s prompt we were invited to write a poem in which something big and something small come together. I immediately think about (big) ideas like love, marriage, hopes and fears, beginnings and endings, and (small) units of time, like just one day in the life. The trajectory of our (big) lives is made up of countless (small) days. If I were to examine one small day in the life of my marriage (which, now that he has moved out, is swiftly approaching its endpoint) do I pick a day when things were going well, or do I pick a day when it had already gone to hell? Do I count the years of our marriage as a (small) period of time in comparison to the (big) trajectory of my life? Is this how I find healing? The (big) emotions of grief, pain, betrayal and loss meet the (small) moment to moment experiences of breathing, eating, sleeping, and taking one step at a time. In order to live skillfully as humans we must be deeply aware of all of these juxtapositions and learn how to navigate among them with grace and intention. Can I let the (big) vision of stepping into my highest self be embodied within the reality of my shortcomings as one (small) woman?
I see her now,
how she tried so hard to be good.
I see how she wanted it to work
and in ways big and small
sacrificed the best of herself
for a vision she held
of the grand institution of marriage
and the complexities of life with young children.
He held no such vision.
Unlike her, he saw their conflict
as symptoms of a mismatch.
Where she was ready to confront the issues
and find solutions,
he invested in the belief
that things should be easier than they were.
So he took the easy way out.
He blamed her for his pain,
told his story to countless others,
created an army that supported his victimhood
and started a war in their home.
She dove deeper into herself
to find the sanctuary promised by the scriptures
of all the world’s faiths.
As she came to rest in the arms
of divine union with self,
he sought the embrace of another,
one outside their sanctified union,
because by that point,
what they had once shared was dead to him.
She grieved. She lost weight. She lost sleep.
She lost friends. She lost hope. Almost.
From the tiniest stirrings of hope almost lost
emerged a new awareness, a strength
forged in the fires of mourning.
One day she looked in the mirror
and realized that it had to happen this way.
He needed to reject the self she was
so that she could discover
the self she was born to be.
Yes it hurts sometimes still…
but behind the hurt there grows
something that will never be tarnished
by the stories of victimization,
justification, and rationalization:
the big Self,
the miracle of existence,
the song of gratitude,
the promise of forgiveness.
We argued about priorities,
the two children, and running errands.
Daughter’s ear hurt
but Son was sleeping,
and I, who used to be Wife,
am just plain tired.
The used to be Husband
had errands to run.
Take them both, he said.
Wake him up, take them both
to the doctor.
I can feel the rage rising up.
He had an affair.
He left us; he left us before he met her.
He left us before we became
Mother and Father.
He left us while I was carrying Daughter
He left us while I was carrying Son
He left us while I tried my best.
He left us when in pain he sought
the embrace of another.
Even when he was here,
even when he said he was committed,
he was always leaving.
The anger burns white hot, distracts
me from the grief that wants to drown.
We argue about prioirites,
the two children, and who is right or wrong.
Now Daughter is sleeping.
I am grateful, so grateful
Today’s prompt encouraged us to try something new with our line breaks. I always go on what looks and feels good in the moment, and there nearly always is a part of me that feels anxious, doubtful and asks, “Am I doing this right?” Luckily for me and my poetic output, there is another part that always shrugs and responds, “Poetic license, baby!” So all freedom to do whatever the hell I want aside, it’s good to try something new. I enjoyed writing this poem with a different way of breaking the lines, and that’s what matters in the end.
Yerp…I wasn’t sure about today’s prompt, because it is so different from anything I’ve ever done or tried to do, but you know what? Nothing amazing was ever accomplished from within the comfort bubble, so here goes…
The poem below was written by a Croatian poet, Marijana Radmilović. The photograph came from a search for black and white photos. I don’t know whom to credit. If it’s yours, let me know and I’ll credit you. Thank you.
SVE OVE GODINE
Žlica kojom smo jeli
naše svakodnevno, a ti joj kradom
Otkud sada tako pristala.
Neki je čovjek maloprije bio ovdje,
njegovao moje rečenice:
Na ovom mjestu moraš stati
i pokušati sve.
S kakvom ti radošću otvaram vrata.
Prvi put činim za tebe
sigurnu razdaljinu od zdravlja
Žlica koja se bila zametnula,
liječeno jutro, sve njeno prešućeno.
Smrt ima bijelo, nečisto lice
i dobra nam je, sve ove godine.
THE ONE STANDING
Against the grey sky
it measures time, its slow growth
Windy days cry loudly.
Near enough to see but covered in mist
negating its presence, reminiscing:
You move, making all stillness
I wonder at the absurd way
we grow into seasons
and fall as all things must
A magical time of brilliant simplicity,
slow motion, still nothing helps.
When the time comes, and one of us falls,
the other will be the one standing.
On the eve of my 41st birthday
and I’m feeling depressed.
My life has fallen apart,
husband with another woman…
they’re out tonight
at a Passover Seder,
at the home of a couple
who used to be my friends;
now they’ve accepted her as his,
and I am home with our children,
picking up the pieces of our wrecked life,
trying to maintain stability for them…
and I feel angry.
I feel hurt.
I feel betrayed, abandoned, discarded.
I want to be heard.
I want to be held.
I want to be seen.
I want a wise old grandma
to pull me into her lap,
to rock me, and hush me,
and tell me I am safe,
and all is well.
But there is no grandma here…
only me and my kids.
I search for meaning
as my fingers dance across keys,
sending words out
into a world of people
I most likely will never meet.
Who hears this?
Who knows this pain?
Who can tell me
that things will get better?
Who can convince me
that this is true?
When will it stop?
Angry. Hurt. Lonely.
Tired. Overwhelmed. Triggered.
He’s finally moving out,
wanting to sort through
our years of life together,
I’m on edge.
I’m a caged animal,
hot, blinded with rage,
teeth bared, screaming,
throwing myself against
the bars of the cage,
hurting from the impact.
My thoughts are the cage.
My pain is the animal.
But who am I?