Are you in there?

The price is higher than its worth

The price is higher than its worth

I am the dirty little secret; the gate-keeper of his justice

Cloaked in the farthest back corner of his closet of emotional ruckus

Sometimes doctors visited. Some would prod around the rubbish

But they could never find me because they didn’t have the compass

They’d take turns trying to discover where my true self thrived

by poking me with invisible sticks, wondering if I were still alive.

Oh! I am still alive. I am very, very much alive.

When I became the forgery demonstrating his famine-lies

I became the masquerade a dancing puppet super-sized

Nobody could hear my darkness under shrouds of harm

Nobody could tell me anything without red flag waving alarm

I got along with nobody, because we were the same

Nobody was the better of us, better at shirking shame.

I made nobody up so I wouldn’t feel so alone

because Everybody kept feasting on my well-gnawed bones.

I escaped from my slumber when the trash was taken out

I opened my three eyes, discovered peace of mind devout

I shed the garbage like a snake sheds its skin

I discovered my diamond, my value, his sin

I grew formidable cloaked in starlight; causing a dither

while he suffocated himself, decayed and withered.

I am the dirty little secret, but my truth is being bold

I’ll be the beacon for those lost in darkest treachery told:

You have no worth. You have no a beloved’s face.

I offer a flashlight towards the egress of freedom’s fair grace.

Four Healing Helping Guides: TRIGGER WARNING

How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.

How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.

There was a long time in my life when I was called broken. No matter how much I screamed my denials to anyone who would listen, I was, indeed, broken. I was a child who believed in love when there was consistency but not when there was disappointment. I was conditioned to believe in betrayal, horrific plots against my personal safety, but worse yet, when those things went unheeded or unnoticed by my self incarcerated authentic being.

I’ve many times shared my stories, my poems, my grief over the loss of my childhood. I noticed there are themes at work among my purgings. I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a doctor. I’ve read extensively trying to understand, “Why?” For me, these are things that have worked.

Give Permission to Yourself to Grieve

There is no right way to grieve. There is no time limit. There aren’t any set in stone management techniques that apply to everyone. But, if you don’t allow yourself to grieve over the very real, very true, loss of time, safety, comfort, betrayal of trust, anger, hostility, and the myriad of emotions, then you’re not allowing yourself to be human. Grieving is a key to healing. It allows a walk through those emotions that, as a child, you weren’t able to process. In essence, you’re teaching yourself to again feel.

Process the Feelings Individually

Because, when you begin to heal there are so many emotions, it can be extremely overwhelming. I was misdiagnosed with bipolar, clinical depression, anger issues, and anxiety, and finally, accurately diagnosed with Non-combat PTSD. I suffered from major depressions for much of my early adult life.

At one point I suffered so much I developed agoraphobia which kept me locked in a room for months. If my friend hadn’t realized that my isolation was causing me to plan suicide, I wouldn’t be here writing this. Without her intervention, a forced promise to talk to a doctor the very next day, I wouldn’t be here.

ALL the emotions must be met with compassion for oneself. I had to look at it as, “What if I were comforting someone going through everything I am right now?” I’d talk to my mirror self, coaxing gentle thoughts when I was afraid. I could sit with myself and be as angry as I wanted to. I could hate myself if I felt the need, but compassion towards this “other” person was necessary. I had to rethink how I’d approach someone who was hurting so deeply, then adjust my behavior towards myself. Sometimes I’d look like a lunatic talking out loud to myself negotiating “me” off the ledge of despair or frustration. It was necessary. I had to feel what I’d forgotten in order to remember.

Fear is a Liar

One of the hardest things I’ve ever faced was the demons in my darkness. The places where I squirm uncomfortably because I did, said, or acted in a way that was not becoming to how I see myself. Example: My grandmother had the same color skin I did when it came to makeup. I was out. She was not. I took it. Even with my hands red with lies, I denied it. I swore up and down it was mine. Nobody believed me. (*) Can’t imagine why! (*)=Sarcasm Alert (btw) Yeah, that’s not a big one, but I don’t steal. I know better. I knew better. I did it anyway.

As I write about it now, it seems so trivial. It was a stupid thing I did. But, it made me afraid to tell the darker things in my life. It made me fear that if I told about my sexual abuse I wouldn’t be believed either. Because we can all see how stealing something and sexual abuse are related right? I could. Fear held me captive for far too many years. It became such a part of my life that I was suffocated by its “good” intentions. I was wrong. It kept me from living as I was meant to. It kept me from love. It kept me from light. But most of all, it kept me from finding personal grace.

When I realized fear was holding me back, I decided to change that. I started talking about my demons. I started disclosing the cobwebbed ideas that I’d held hostage under the guise that people would judge or hate me. I had to purge my closets. I had to release it. And holy cow was a scared to death! But, as with the next section, once I lopped off the ugliness and embraced me, allowed fear to fall away, I discovered I was okay. That people still loved me, still liked me, still talked to me, and I felt a freedom that I’d only fantasized about through much of my young adult life.

You Have Always Been Worthy

You are worth of love. You are worthy of compassion. You are worth a beautiful life. You are worth happiness. You are worth being every moment who you were born to be. Others may have attempted to steal away your being, but once you’ve decided to heal, as with ceasing any negative behavior, repeating positive messages to yourself when you “hear” the bad things you’ve been told is crucial.

Your inherent beauty is and always has been within you. You don’t have to believe me. You can write this off as new age fluff if you want to, but I know this is true. I see it in people who have no idea how very wonderful they are. There are people who are so confident in their very nature that they exude a sense of light from every action. You know those people. The ones that no matter how crappy your day is, just seeing them, hearing from them, or being with them makes you smile. A small secret here. YOU ARE THAT PERSON! I kid you not.

Understand that those voices, my beloved human, are not real. When you close your mind to the outside and listen to your spirit, you will know this to be true. You are new. You are whole. You are everything you’re meant to be. It’s up to you to decide you want your life to be love. It’s up to you to decide if you are worthy. I assure you, my dearest friend, you are. You really, truly, without a shadow of doubt, are that light of love.

The Banquet

Old friends are the ones who holds your secrets tightly. Old friends are the ones who holds your secrets tightly.

You have come knocking at my door with your basket empty of fruit.

You ask to break bread with me once again, I welcome you with a banquet.

Forgiveness is not necessary when there is a parting of ways with no faults

Things just happened to work out where time apart was required to isolate

Not for feeling alone, but for the seeds to take root, grow, and bloom fully

I offer the platters laden with history, telling each yarn with great verbosity

laughing together, we drink deeply, offer consolation, counsel, connection

We cut cheese (grow up!), melt it onto the bread of reminiscing

our peppered words burning our faces with our shocking youthful antics

I sit lounged in my chair, grateful that the air we share is no longer pungent

It no longer stinks of half-truths, unspoken words, and lost opportunity.

We rip shreds of the layer cake we build with our conversation,

skipping layers of icing, jumping slyly from one inside joke to the next.

We burp satisfaction, of time well spent, appreciated, and honored.

As we rise into the light of a new morning, I escort you out with welcome

for warm and happy returns at your leisure when the need is happenstance.

As I bid you adieu at my doorstep, you turn towards me, arms full of bounty.

We smile the smile of 1,000 lifetimes ago, promising 1,000 more.

Ms. Marble

Marbles

Marbles

If I could be a marble in a bag around a child’s waist

propounding challenge to my peers like an alchemist

whose recipe for destruction lay in my bulging satchel

filled with conquests found in the sandpit battlefield

of my childhood playground, dominated by concentrated

versions of precisely aimed shots using one inch of glass

and stick drawn circles of boundaries no other should cross.

If I were a marble in a sack around my childhood waist

I would be a peerie of blue green that made them lose

as they wondered at my ocean colors splashing their spirits free

through the distractions of the wildly colored cat’s eyes

that stared back at them with deadened stares emptied

of life, unlike me, who shined and waved like the open sea

And they would avoid hitting me with their knocker’s sin

because who doesn’t want Mother Ocean to win?

I DIDN’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID

OH YEEEAAAAHH!!!!

OH YEEEAAAAHH!!!!

I lived in relative poverty as a child. We had more than some, less than others. Wherever my family stood on the economic ladder of the late 1970’s, I was constantly reminded by my peers that my second hand clothes (I was the eldest so it was glaringly obvious on me as on my brother who was the eldest boy) were not acceptable. I wanted so desperately to fit in, to be accepted, to feel worthy. An opportunity did arise during a Kool-Aid fad during my 5th grade year.

I had Mr. Pakulnis. It was early in the school year because he hadn’t yet discovered my wanderlust eye watching the birds or day-dreaming. That’s a habit, by the way, I still do when I write. I stare out the window and get lost.

The Kool-Aid fad was that many of the girls brought in Ziplock (not the sandwich fold over) bags with any flavor Kool-Aid mixed with the sugar as if ready to add water. Then, the girls would take their rainbow stained fingers and dip them into the cesspools of sugary goodness, licking their fingers clean then hiding the evidence quickly when teachers approached. Chenique Quarterman shared hers with me and I felt like she was my best friend in the world because I was doing something that the “Kool Kids” did. It felt gloriously naughty. And although Kim Tarpley was my best friend, but she didn’t have Kool-Aid so she’d been temporarily demoted.

I decided I was going to make my own. I thieved away a baggie from my friend’s house because we only had the fold overs at mine. I stole a single package of the only flavor of Kool-Aid I was allowed which was lemonade (due to red food dye allergies). I’d pilfered enough sugar to make up my very own baggie to share.

I felt excitement at my accomplishment and perhaps a bit of remorse but not enough to feel shame. I was ready to become popular. I was ready to fit in. I carefully read and measured my stolen goods into the filched treasure bag as quietly as possible. I hid the baggie in my coat pocket so it would remain undetected by my mother who I’d hoped wouldn’t yet be awake, she was, but thankfully was busy drinking her coffee in the living room. I made it out the back door successfully.

I patted my pocket reassuringly, my anticipation growing as I waited at the street corner with Mona Lee, the Farr boys who liked to beat me and my brothers up, and Lisa Cloud. It was early when the long bus pulled up to the curb. Mrs. Humphries in all her gold toothed rotund-ness sat in the first seat and greeted each of us by name. I sat closer to the front because I didn’t feel safe in the back. My brothers usually sat nearby as well. Plus, with the contraband in my pocket, I didn’t want it taken before I could conquer my classroom with generosity.

I remember snaking my hand into my pocket feeling the grains through the bag, terrified that I’d tear it open before I could share it with my friend Kim Tarpley. I’d hoped that each grain would bring me another friend. The way I felt had reached magical proportions since I’d successfully smuggled it thus far and therefore I was allowed to project my wishes into the sugary lemon concoction in my pocket.

The bus picked up other kids but I was lost in the imaginary conversations I’d have once I arrived under the canopy of my elementary school. Patience was not ever a virtue of mine but I knew that if I pulled it out before first recess, I’d most surely lose the entire bag. I, like an evil mastermind of the Master thief I’d become on this mission, must carefully bide my time.

My chest, which had yet to bloom into young adulthood, puffed against my teal blue coat’s zipper as I stepped off the bus and onto the concrete. I felt as if I were about to wage a war I knew I would win. With rare confidence, my hands swinging freely at my sides, I strode into the school knowing that at first recess, my entire life would change because of the magic package I carefully hoarded in my protective pocket. I was about to become popular; guaranteed.

As I hung up my coat on my designated hook I felt a sense of panic. What if, while I was sitting in class listening to Mr. Pakulnis drone, someone got a bathroom pass and went through my pocket and found what I’d been protecting. I became increasingly distraught at the idea. I looked at my peers and questioned each of them in my mind with clever scrutiny.

Jeff Plume was the most likely of suspects. He was in sixth grade. I’d watched him accidentally inhale a feather he’d been balancing on his breath for an insanely long amount time while we were supposed to be watching a filmstrip about animals. Most likely suspect identified, I imagined what my interrogation of him would be like:

“Why did you take five minutes to go to the bathroom?” I’d ask him.

“Because I had to go pee.” He’d retort.

“I think you were doing something besides just using the bathroom.” I’d push (wasn’t I clever?)

“I washed my hands.”

“You’d never do that because you’re a boy. You really washed your hands so you could eat my Kool-Aid!” I’d reveal my purpose for the inquiry with a flourish like I saw on Dallas.

“You caught me!” He’d cry and Mr. Pakulnis would take him down to the principal’s office for Jeff’s execution. At the last minute, I’d forgive him and then we’d share the lemonade anyway.

But my panic and subsequent interrogation of my classmate led me to err. I took the baggie out of my jacket and put it into my pants pocket which bulged in protest. I knew it would be safe now. Nobody would have to go to their deaths because of my soon to be new-found popularity.

Mr. Pakulnis greeted us by name as we scrambled to get to our seats before the bell rang. We still had our desks in rows before he grouped us into fours for the math test. I saw him glance down but figured if I kept my back to him, I’d be able to sneak it into my desk before he became wise to my ruse. I scurried past him sure that he would grab my shoulder with my former confidence wavering under his watchful eye.

Safely at the edge of my desk, I opened the top while digging into my pants pocket that held the Holy Grail of friendship. I pulled the yellow mix from my pocket, nearly making it into my desk when I saw the teacher’s hand descend onto my wrist in slow motion. I, in identical slow motion, looked up, way, way up, (Mr. Pakulnis was tall) at the frowning face staring back at me. A slight shake of his head, an open palm, and my valiant effort to become popular was removed straight away. A few of the girls who witnessed this snickered at my plight.

I spent the rest of the day with a tragic heart. My dreams in magic and sugary goodness were absent. I’d failed the mission. I’d failed socially. I’d been humiliated.

Later that afternoon, I overheard Mr. Pakulnis talking to my future sixth grade teacher, Mr. Martinez. He realized after several days of over-active girls and stained fingers what was happening. I got caught because of the popularity of the fad?! It wasn’t technically my doing, but that of my peers that got me caught?!

I, truthfully, can’t remember if I deduced that then or if this is years of cobwebs cleared away that showed me the story in different light. Either way, I began to learn at that age that fads could get you in trouble, teachers see more than they let on, and Kool-Aid stains on fingers last longer than the fads. If I had to do it all again, I believe, with truest of intentions, I would have left it in my coat as I’d originally planned and not second guessed myself which, over the years, has cost me far more than a bag of “illegal” Kool-Aid.

The Mute Woman

How to make a daisy crown

How to make a daisy crown

I made daisy crowns and dandelion necklaces.

I climbed trees with my knees scraping bark

to see what was on the other side of my neighbor’s fence

or down the hill, or off in the distance on a sea of treetops.

I drank water from the dog bowl to see if it tasted different.

I tried cat food to see if they liked things the same as me.

I wove elaborate stories, like plays,

that I repeated until I had them memorized

then performed them to blank-faced audiences of dolls.

I became a mosquito scratching relative legs until they sprayed me away.

I watched from my window, every day through winter to see the first robin of Spring.

I dashed wildly, madly through the scented Autumn leaves.

I splashed loudly in puddles

when I didn’t have on rain boots and when I did.

I drove a pedal car up and down the sidewalk in front of my home;

Mine was green, my brother’s blue.

I rode my bike as fast as the wind

skinning the ends from my toes for riding barefoot.

My baby doll became a real child needing care

right down to being walked in a baby buggy, pampered and cuddled.

I sang songs when there were people around

and when there wasn’t.

I wore the brightest clothes I owned with pride

but refused to wiggle my fanny at school for embarrassment’s sake

foregoing the envied bunny tail.

I dreamed of long hair like my favorite Aunts

but my hair was wild, unruly, and never behaved appropriately.

I played race car with the electric socket and a key

learning just how many people I could scare at one time.

I saw my world as beautiful, wondrous, and awe-inspiring.

My memories have not been muted, although faded a bit,

Dog-eared around the edges, notated and rewritten with crayons

reversed into a parking spot reserved for each one.

I take them out and drive them around adult conversations

but they get dismissed as comical fancies

disapproved of as childish rubbish.

But they’re wrong.

My childhood held many terrifying horrors.

I don’t think these wonders I hold in my memories are comical or rubbish.

They represented my soul unfurled like a battle-worn banner

proclaiming my liberty from my aggressive oppressors.

They were a time of exploration, learning, and comprehension.

They were and are my life boiled down to the simple things

that so many struggle toward, but I hold dear to my heart.