In the Deep

I’m fragmented by your absence.

Infinitely reformed.

I’m suffering love

the color of tears.

It is salty and dark

It is laborious to breathe.

I’m not afraid

of loving you

as I held you.

I’m conscious of the vulnerability

in which I’m submersed

from our severed physical connection.

My grief is a mere reflection

of our laughter, our conversations

distilled into our unwitting last

“I love you.”

I bring the best parts of us forward with me.

I will not betray our trust.

Your love is a part of who I am now.

No matter how deep the anguish,

There is no regret in cherishing

the you I knew.

Exclusive

I have been self isolating (partly because of Covid and partly because I’m battling little fires around me while my house is figuratively ablaze). I’m rejecting connections because the thought of losing those I love has become a profound, nearly panicked, state of mind.

My C-PTSD has been triggered. I’ve not been sleeping well. I feel mistrust frequently, off-balanced mostly, and hyper-vigilant with a sense of detachment so I can survive the myriad of catastrophes that are cascading.

It is no secret that I’ve been struggling to make sense of a world that seems to be so dark as of late. One of the things that’s made it so upsetting is my perceived invisibility; my lack of voice. I feel like I’m burdening people who ask me how I’m doing because, as a human, I know I’m not alone with the struggles. But, trauma brain teaches how to survive, not always what is true.

Now, you may say, even out loud, “But I see you!” Not necessarily. I’ve been keeping a lot to myself because I don’t trust the world at this time. I don’t want to be a pest. I don’t want to be pitied. I don’t want to commiserate. I don’t want to be told things like: It will get better. It will be okay. There are brighter days ahead. You’re so strong or brave or something else because it’s not my truth right now. I am not able to hear it. Those things don’t reflect the world I see or how I’m experiencing it right now.

I deserve to feel vulnerable. I can doubt the sunshine even as I experience it. I can be weak. I can have doubts. I don’t have to believe in a happy ever after that just won’t happen right now. I am allowed to feel how I feel without apologies even if you don’t understand. I don’t need to be fixed. I’m not broken. I’m human. Right now I’m a gross mess of conflicting anger, sobbing, spontaneous laughter, and raw guts walking around on two legs that are wobbly from exhaustion because of abysmal grief from major events of the year.

I love you. I love me. I am not giving up or giving in. I just need to breathe. That’s really hard right now but eventually I’ll rise to the surface again where I will be able to. Thank you for being everything that you are because without you, I wouldn’t be able to survive or once again thrive.

Don’t give up on me, please. Please trust me. This isn’t my first rodeo by a long shot. I’ve survived worse than this. I know I will eventually find joy again. I may even rediscover faith, but until I do, knowing you’re out there rooting for me is so very precious.

Where I am now

Three years ago I experienced this:

Where I was.

Because of that, I became a different person, yet conversely the same. The one distinct difference is that I don’t feel lonely any more living in solitude. Well, it does and it doesn’t. It’s not the same as living with somebody who neglected me for their own comfort. It’s not the same as being in the same room with somebody and feeling invisible.

During that time three years ago, I was in a very dark place. I was told by someone I loved that I didn’t need to get help and shouldn’t have been in the hospital. I wanted to die, but my (then loved one) still discounted my experience. I was told “You don’t need to be in here, you’re fine.”

Upon my release, a couple months passed before I accepted an invitation from a friend of mine to visit my now current hometown. I spent time during the 18 day visit from the end of December through January 2020 with people who genuinely showed love and attention to me. Although hesitant, when I returned to Michigan, I decided I needed to get my shit together. I moved back to Tennessee in February 2020.

I was given unexpected catalysts to discover my own self. I did not move because of those but because of the support system that I have here.

It was confusing at first. I felt a deep sense of rejection, but again, not as bad as what I experienced in Michigan with me “loved one.” That “loved one” accused me of abandonment (ironically) with no intention of return, but I DID plan to return if conditions were met. They were not, so I began the permanent transition.

This past year has been horrific with catastrophes such as my car catching fire in February to, most recently, the death of my little dog due to malpractice. It still hasn’t been as bad as the loneliness I felt the entire time I spent in Michigan.

This year has been incredibly painful. I’ve done a lot of deep grieving. I have had legitimate reasons to do this. But, I don’t want to die like I did when I was there. I mean I don’t want to die at all. I just want to be able to live a life. My life. This doesn’t feel like the life I want to live, so I have no choice but to keep going.

My friend said, “The life you want is out there. I’m grateful you’re willing to keep going,”

I contradicted that.

The life I want is in here; in me. I am unearthing a lot of feelings of being unworthy, or a burden, or just too much. I am none of those things, but I commonly feel that way because that’s what I’ve been taught. I have been incorrectly instructed.

I started accepting these things when I woke up at 4AM. I started thinking about the incorrect messages I’ve been given for most of my life. The things I’ve been told and the way I’ve been treated by people who claim to love me. I allowed it because that’s what I knew.

My thoughts were reeling about in my head as I did dishes and swept my floors.

Then it began in earnest. Deconstruction. Revelation. Epiphanies.

It was a lot to take in at that hour of the morning but I think it had been waiting for me. Allowing me room to breathe, hear, understand, and to grieve. I came to understand that the unconditional love I have been shown here in Tennessee has been incredibly difficult to accept. It’s been difficult to even acknowledge.

I’m having complications while learning to accept that from others, but primarily from myself. I know that I am not alone. I know that solitude is completely different than loneliness. I’m not trying to fill my inadequacies with creatures that need or require my care. I’m not seeking to be accepted by others. I’m working on being accepted by myself. This is earth-shattering for me (or maybe ground-breaking) but I know it will be worth it because I am worth it.

Hear ye!

Listen
Can you hear that?
It’s your intuition
It’s your soul truth
It’s the whisper of wisdom
That only you know
Woven into your bones
Seething in your blood
Pouring millennia of knowledge
Over your life’s breath
Witnessing your humanity
With astute clarity
Hush now.
Listen.
Now.
Follow your gut.
You’re within your inheritance
You ARE worthy of your power
Listen.
Trust it even if you’re frightened
That voice may be broken
Scattered on hurricanes of trauma
But it can’t be silenced
Without your permission
Not anymore.
Listen

Did you forgot?

I stand outside looking in
I am invisible to my blood
Acknowledged occasionally
A pest returning under the table
A tornado siren blaring
Obtrusive and important
Disregarded. Irrelevant.
I do not fit into other’s busy lives
I, too, am busy but in a difficult way.
I desire creation of love
But accept morsels of neglect
Reminders that my youthful wisdom
Was braver than my adult spirit

Trauma as an Accomplice

Trauma has become an accomplice

It has allowed me to see through

many shadowed secrets

People who haven’t figured out

the origami of self-propelled healing

Trauma isn’t my friend,

but it knows what I know

It’s circumscribed me

magnifying me in the darkness

It has believed me, revealed unguarded truth

about myself, about others, about what happens if…

I have altered myself; inside out.

It makes it easier to wear my heart on my sleeve

It forces darkness into the light

It keeps me from internalizing

It has revealed me as strong

(although I truly had to ask what that means.)

I was told hurt people hurt people

I have many points of reference for torment

But, I’ve also been the recipient of deep compassion

enduring kindness, and demonstrations of resilience

that have shown me HOW to turn and be inside out

in the most powerful of ways.

Witness to You

I, but a casual name to your kin,

will hold you truly and dearly,

cherish deeply the breaths

between ideas, ideologies, and emotions

that I have been honored to share with you.

With the reverence afforded a blessing

I will weep for the absence

of your knowledge

severed by inevitable occasion

Master to servant

Teacher to student

Friendship entertained

with portions communal

A time of Kairos inspected.

The right, critical, or opportune moment

To bring witness and testimony of your spirit

To the level of intimacy you’ve granted.

I will be your witness.

Mother’s Day 2022

In 1988, I worked at McDonald’s and made squat for money, but I was friends with nearly everyone there. I started dating a co-worker (not my shift) who would later become my husband. I was monogamous to my partner at the time. I got pregnant but didn’t know it.

At my friend, the manager’s house, I went to the bathroom and found a piece of “chicken” in my underwear. I picked it up out of morbid curiosity. It was about the size of a lima bean. It was squishy. It did not occur to me that I was having a miscarriage. I thought, perhaps this was a food accident. I dropped the “chicken” into the toilet, wiped after peeing, then flushed.

The next day, torrents of blood poured forth from my vagina. I’d never had a heavy period like that. I’d had periods that lasted for 15 days but they occurred sporadically at best. I had no regular cycle. When they did happen, as in this instance, they were ridiculously traumatic. I hated my body for being a woman, for being human.

I told my significant other about what I then suspected was a miscarriage and we decided to get married and raise a lot of babies, wanted babies.

We were married on May 6, 1989 in a church wedding with all the trimmings. I told my dad as I prepared to walk down the aisle that I didn’t want to get married. He said, “I paid a lot for this wedding.” and led me to the front of the church. (In his defense, he didn’t know my secret life either.) On my 21st birthday, June 23rd, I walked away from most of my friends, most of my family, and focused solely on becoming a better person.

In 1990, we began to try in earnest to conceive. We went to a fertility doctor in Northern Indiana. We were tested within an umpteenth of patience. He had decent mobility. I wasn’t ovulating. I went on birth control to regulate my periods.

The cramps, the acne, the invasiveness of the tests, the clomid, Pergonal, thermometers, tracking. All of it invasive to no avail. I cried nearly constantly because this is not how I pictured my journey to motherhood. Why couldn’t I just get pregnant like other women?

Finally, in early 1994, we decided that the best option for us was going to be adoption. We ceased all medical interventions and began classes to adopt a child from the Indiana system.

In June, my father, whom I had a sketchy relationship with, asked me if I’d speak to his wife about something. Sure! She got on the phone and said that her daughter was pregnant again and didn’t want the baby. Would I be interested in meeting the daughter about the possibility of adopting the baby.

She explained that my father and her were already raising one of the daughter’s children and didn’t want another mouth to feed. My husband and I agreed to make the trip to Tennessee to meet with the pregnant daughter. We were not even cautiously optimistic. We were anxiously excited.

The first time we met her, she was a tiny, dark haired, quiet woman. We took her to eat and talked for several hours. When we left, we all felt that my husband and I were a good fit for the baby.

The journeys began. I travelled to Tennessee from Northern Indiana once a month to attend the obstetrician appointments. Each time, we talked about the future of the baby and what plans we were making. It was an exciting time.

In October of 1994, she was living in a small room of a hotel. The man who lived in the next room over was murdered and the hotel was set on fire displacing her. Receiving the news, I rallied my Covenant church to arms. We were able to help her get re-established in a new home with supplies. When next I visited her, I delivered what I’d collected for her.

At one appointment we found out the baby was a boy she gave me the ultrasound pictures. My husband and I decided on the name Jordan Glenmark. We were elated. We created a nursery in Looney Tune theme. I, having never sewed anything, made curtains (Okay, they were really bad curtains, but I made them myself!) We purchased nursery furniture. My father-in-law built a cradle with a spinning cross accent at the head of the tiny bed.

My husband and I found an attorney to draw up adoption papers. We finished the adoption classes and were merely waiting for the final approval. That’s about the time my father’s wife decided that we needed to pay her over $1,000.00 for setting things up. We declined because it sounded too much like buying a baby.

At the beginning of November, 1994, I broke my right ankle in three places while playing tag with the neighbor children. I was in a temporary cast for a couple weeks until the swelling went down, then I chose a green cast with Christmas trees on it, because that’s how long I’d be off my feet.

In late November 1994, the birth-mother developed Preeclampsia a complication of pregnancy. With preeclampsia, there might be high blood pressure, high levels of protein in urine that indicate kidney damage (proteinuria), or other signs of organ damage. Not knowing whether she would deliver in December or January, my husband and I made the journey down for Christmas. It was an uneventful, if not joyous occasion.

She maintained contact and her health seemed to steady out overall. As she neared the end of her pregnancy, I was released from the cast and was approved to drive on my own again! WHEW!

The plan was for me to go down the third week in January of 1995 to await the birth. That Friday the 13th, I went to the Attorney’s office to pick up the papers I would need to present to the birthmother. I arrived home around 3PM. I was so excited! I was days away from becoming a parent, a dream I’d held dear and true to my heart.

The phone rang. It was the birth-mother. She told me she had something to tell me but didn’t know how. I encouraged her to share whatever she had on her mind and we’d get through it together. She was silent for a short bit. I again encouraged her.

“I’ve decided to keep the baby.”

I dropped the phone to the floor and howled in anger and grief. I’ve since seen movies of women wailing. Yeah. It was like that.

I felt as if a piece of my soul had been jaggedly ripped from my body. I completely withdrew from the life I’d been building. I couldn’t breathe much less function. Physically, I felt as if someone had started sawing off my body parts. Emotionally, I was so dark, I couldn’t have found a light if you gave me one. Intellectually, I suspected it could happen but certainly didn’t believe that it would.

The baby boy was born on January 31st, 1995.

My marriage fell apart. The day I left that marriage, I received a call from Indiana’s Child Protective Services that offered us a six year old boy. I burst into tears and declined motherhood.

We were divorced after 7 years and 13 days of marriage.

In October of 1998, I married my second husband.

In March of 1999, I was in excruciating pain. We used the car that didn’t have insurance to take me to the emergency room. We got pulled over because I had a scent-tree on the rearview mirror. Our other transportation was a motorcycle which was fully legal, but I couldn’t ride with the pain as bad as it was. I got a ticket for no insurance despite circumstances.

We arrived at the emergency room, quite late in the evening. They ran a battery of tests. The physician entered the curtained cubicle where I was lying down holding my husband’s hand. “You’re pregnant.” he said. “No. That’s not possible.” I said. “Well, you are.” He said he’d bring me information to follow up this bizarre announcement (I thought it bizarre, he didn’t call it that.)

My husband leaned over with a deep, unexpected anger in his eyes and said, “Is there something you need to tell me?” I was shocked. What did he mean by that? “No.”

Further testing, two days hence went by showed that the pregnancy was not viable. I was scheduled for a D&C also known as a medical abortion. Everything was happening at warp speed and I couldn’t digest anything. My husband took me to the hospital. I was put under, the procedure performed.

They kept waking me up, but I just wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to wake up. My blood pressure kept falling to dangerous levels. I had given up. They forced me to live. I hated them.

Two days after that, they discovered I was still pregnant which indicated ectopic pregnancy. They explained that I would have to have shots to kill the cells growing in my fallopian tubes. At first I refused. I had the false hope that somehow I’d be a medical anomaly. My friend Bean went with me after convincing me it was the best thing to do.

They shot me in two places with medication to destroy the life growing out of place.

My two year marriage did not survive the loss of that baby either.

I’ve not been pregnant again after that. The closest I can figure is that the mumps I had when I was 12 contributed greatly to my not being able to have children.

At this point in my life, I’m reluctantly grateful that I didn’t bring a child into my life. My life has been tumultuous and it wouldn’t have been fair to any kid. I’m okay with how my life turned out. It’s allowed me freedom to come and go as I please. It’s allowed me to be able to make some difficult decisions without complications of custody.

Mother’s Day has been a day of painful reminders and gratitude, a sense of detachment from women around me who have had children or created families. I don’t envy them. I’m happy they were successful at something I was unable to do. I am okay with being child-free.