Caught in the trance of unworthiness*
Wondering what to do, where to go,
what to say and to whom,
which book to read,
what action to take,
how to stand, how to sit,
how to walk,
what to eat,
what to drink,
what to wear,
who will understand
all these questions, these doubts,
There is a darkness,
an unspeakable horror in me,
clawing to get out.
It visits me in my dreams at night
and wakes me up.
I feel exhausted by these nightly hauntings.
I want release, relief, respite
from being tossed around on these huge waves
in the infinite ocean of consciousness,
the surface of which
has been stormy for quite some time.
I’m tired of the turbulence,
tired of this endless transition
from what was familiar
into a new life that I cannot see or fathom.
They say I’m at the helm.
They say I have the power.
They say I can change my narrative, my perception,
They tell me I’m better off without him.
This is just talk,
and I am tired of being thrown about endlessly
on enormous waves out in the middle of nowhere,
no land in sight,
on a flimsy vessel that is sinking fast.
I have nearly drowned a thousand times
in the dark waters of my psyche.
Why do I keep thrashing my way to the surface?
I want a safe harbor, a home,
a place of belonging,
a tribe who knows and loves me.
Why in the moment when I most need connection
does it seem that no one is there?
Why with all of this love around
does it not show up in the way I’m wanting?
More questions than answers,
and afraid to go to sleep
because I know what waits for me in the darkness:
than any human should bear.
*Spiritual teacher Tara Brach talks about the trance of unworthiness in her book Radical Acceptance.
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.
I want to trust the process of becoming
but the path is dark and lonely
and I can’t see two feet ahead of me.
I’m floundering through a forest of pain,
shadows everywhere, loud sounds,
and it’s all in my head.
I look up and look around.
I’m in a room,
it’s a bright sunny day,
But the night is approaching swiftly,
and this is when the painful thoughts
have the most power over me.
I want to trust this process of becoming
but the path is dark and lonely
and I can’t see two feet head of me.
tired to the bone,
the Pawlonia and honey locust
give me hope,
glowing in the setting sun.
do the other drivers see
the majesty of this moment,
I’m feeling alone.
All of the other old feelings come back.
I ask again why it has come to this,
why I am now struggling financially,
why my children aren’t with me daily,
why he gets to strut around town
with a new woman
(in her sexy dresses and high heels)
while I’m at home alone
worrying about money.
Maybe this will all look different tomorrow.
I hope so.
Today’s prompt asks us to write a poem that engages all five senses. Hmmm. Alrighty then.
I reach out for you in the middle of the night still.
You were there for years, but now you are not.
The sound of your snoring,
even your breath in the morning,
how much more would I have savored those
if I knew what was coming?
I remember your hairy belly.
Isn’t it silly,
these things that stay in my mind?
I remember running my hand
on your tummy, loving the feel of you,
your warmth; I suppose it’s unkind
to do this to myself, to remember like this.
But do I have a choice?
I can feel the sadness now in the back of my throat,
the tears that want to come.
I can taste those uncried tears,
their bitterness, my fragility.
Now you are with her,
and I include you both in my forgiveness practice.
So many have told me to let go,
to focus on me,
to be my own best friend.
But what to do when nothing feelings like home anymore,
when I am a stranger to myself,
when the most familiar things are the memories
growing fainter with each tear that falls?
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.