TO LIVE

I HAD

I HAD STUCK MYSELF

I HAD STUCK MYSELF DOWN IN THERE

AND IT HURT

AND IT WAS DIRTY

 

AND I TRIED TO BLAME,

TO BLAME-BLAME,

TO BLAME

OTHERS,

BUT, IT WAS

ME

ALL ALONG

 

AND, IT TOOK

A LONG TIME

TO REALIZE

THAT THE ONLY WAY

FREE

 

IS THROUGH

ACCEPTING ME

 

AS I AM

 

AND THEN,

EVENTUALLY,

I’LL SEE AND

APPRECIATE

 

ME

 

FOR

WHO

I AM

 

AND THEN

FREEDOM

WILL

DESCEND

 

AND I WILL

BEGIN

AGAIN

 

TO LIVE

 

 

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A Big Li(f)e

To be “a star”. To shine brightly. That was what I thought I wanted. To be More Than I am. To be Seen. To have Friends. To be productive.

To Impress.

To defend.

To engage.

To Seduce.

Maybe even To Enlighten…

Chasing and chasing and chasing this need. And what for?

I really don’t know.

I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what my purpose is. I don’t know why I’m Here.

Why is any of us here?

I like to think it’s noble things, like: “To make a difference.”

Or: “To leave something good behind.”

Or even: “To Enjoy yourself.”

But now I’m not so sure.

I’m getting older. And maybe I could brush it all aside as a Crisis of some kind. But, I think it’s more than that. I think I see that I can’t go back to who I used to be. But, I also don’t know how to go forward. Stuck in limbo for a long while now. Don’t know how to move off the spider-web’s glue. Holding me in place. Preparing for the feast.

And it hurts. Hurts, hurts, hurts every day.

Is something really wrong with me?

I don’t know cause people don’t go around talking about these kinds of things.

Am I “too” different? Weird? Complex? Unstable? Emotional? Sensitive? FEMALE?

Or, is this a common feeling – everyone has it – just don’t speak of it?

I keep looking outside me for the answers, because I Don’t want to look within. It’s too painful. Everywhere pain. And anger.

Ingratitude: I do Not value my life.

Hatred: I do Not love myself.

Loneliness: I do Not know how to connect.

I always wanted to Change this. To Fix that. To make myself Different, somehow.

More Likable.

Less Angry.

Maybe more like my Sister.

But, I can’t.

I can’t! I can’t! I can’t!

And I Won’t!

I won’t! I won’t! I won’t! do that to myself anymore.

(Or, I’ll Try not to, anyway…)

Because I am me.

That’s all I am.

That’s all I’ll ever be.

(Until I die. And maybe even then…)

So, why not work to accept this mess of a human being? Why  not Love her with the light of a thousand suns?

The way you always wanted Others to love (you), but they didn’t. They wouldn’t. Or they couldn’t.

Because this was your own job to do.

So do it.

No matter how long it takes.

No matter the risks.

(Isolation. Depression. Even Suicide…which yes, I think of sometimes. Don’t we all? Maybe not…)

Your work is meaningful.

Even if you don’t know (what) it (is) yet.

Your life is meaningful.

Even if you struggle to believe in it.

Keep it all.

Don’t throw yourself away.

Even when you feel like garbage.

A rose may be hidden. Just out of sight.

And even if there’s not one.

That’s okay.

It’s okay to just be you.

It’s okay to get old.

It’s okay to die.

It’s okay Not to have Anything to leave behind.

 

 

 

Goodbye Madame President

I never in a million years thought that Trump would win the election.

And yet, if I’m honest with myself, I had the deepest pit of dread in my belly all day yesterday, went to sleep before the polls closed, and tossed and turned for several hours, only to be woken by heavy rain and a family of three fat raccoons frolicking outside my bedroom window at 2:30am. (They broke an antique plate that held my cat’s water bowl. Stupid to leave it out there!)

And then, I did it. I checked the results. And my stomach’s knots tightened into pure steel.

And I was silenced.

In shock, yes, but more than that.

It is built into the history, the legacy, of the world’s victimizerssusan-b-anthony-grave that they silence their prey. And while white and middle class, I am still a woman who knows they’re coming for us. Coming, coming, with their hate and their lies and their policies that seek to destroy us.

(I didn’t believe I could be raped, but it happened. I didn’t believe Trump could win the election, but that has happened too.)

And honestly, I believe they seek to destroy their own as well. To self destruct. That such loathing starts from the inside. And where did they learn it: from their own victimizers. And the cycle goes on.

Many have already said the same thing. Perhaps better than I can.

(I often worry that what I have to say doesn’t matter, and thereby become complicit in their plot.)

Silence can be viewed as corroboration.

So, I choose not to be silenced. I choose to raise my voice. I choose, like so many others have chosen, to say: Enough!

We will fight together to end the dominating forces that often seem so strong, to end patriarchy and oppression, to form a just and verdant society FOR ALL because it is the right thing to do.

Trump, and his kind, will not defeat us. We will learn to overcome. And this too shall pass.

***

And, even while taking active steps forward for tomorrow, it is still okay to mourn today.

Hillary, you would have been a terrific first. You deserved to be President.

And while many found fault in you that they never would have found in a man, I found something to admire.

You kept trying.

And I know you will continue to try. And maybe in four years’ time we’ll be smart enough to elect Michelle or Elizabeth, or some other amazing woman.

shirley-chisholm

But, I’m still sorry it wasn’t you, and I mourn for all of us. What we have chosen is a lie. Fear over love.

But we will overcome. We have to.

We will try again. Just like you.

The Year I was a Unicorn

halloween-unicorn-1985-001

The year that I was a unicorn for Halloween, I was like—finally! Finally my mom had Made me a costume like so many other kids’ mothers did every year. No more borrowing a friend’s second-hand, last year’s princess, or guilting angel’s wings off another busy parent, or buying a crappy carbon-copy Bugs Bunny from the BX. This year I was going to be a true original.

I loved unicorns, and now I was going to be one! I couldn’t wait. All pink. And, with a giant horn emerging from my forehead.

Now, my mom was a major defeatist. This should have been a clue. She had told me, in fact, many times, that she couldn’t sew. So where I thought she was going to get the know-how to build me the costume of my dreams, I don’t remember. But, I guess back then I was an optimist. I had no worries that it wouldn’t be “just right.”

I felt like fortune had finally favored me. I would be the most looked at kid in the Halloween parade, for sure, and the boy of my dreams would notice me above anyone else*—don’t remember his name, but he was tall and blond and preppy. I think he often wore suspenders. And, I was in LOVE with him….Oh yeah, Wesley. Like the Princess Bride. That was him.

(*I was ambitious. I’ll say that much.)

Not sure how long or hard Mom worked on the project—knowing her, and perfectionism, probably a long while—but, I don’t think I saw the ensemble until the day of the school parade.

And I Hated it.

I was never very good at hiding my disgust for things I didn’t want. I was never very grateful for good intentions. I was never very humble about my wishes.

I wanted it all! Ravenously. Right now. I didn’t want to wait, and I didn’t see why I should. Sometimes I wonder at my childhood hunger. I wish it was with me still. All the need, desire, the Deservingness that I clung to. Where did it go?

Needless to say, my tight, child’s face, full of scorn, ratted me out to my insecure mother. (She disliked me for never playing along.) She saw, right away, that I hated it. The costume. I was soooo disappointed in her, in GOD, in The Wide World, and the Universe itself. A plague on both your houses!

I mean: the horn! It was crooked, poking out at an odd angle from the rain slicker hood she’d attached it to. The idea was that the hood, sans slicker, would be tied under my chin, as usual, and the horn would rise from its crown. But, instead of a noble upward projection, it veered to the side like an asymmetrical penis, awkward and self-conscious. Also, it was bent, crumpled. I don’t know what exactly she’d made it out of—a paper towel or toilet paper roll folded in on itself, possibly—but it didn’t look so much like a horn—cylindrical and strong—as a poorly rolled bit of cardboard painted gold.

In other words—Unacceptable.

The only photo I have of me in the costume must be from Halloween night. My brother beside me looks very happy in his store-bought pumpkin suit, while I have a defiant expression on my face, arms folded in front of me, no smile for the camera cause, I’m sure, it was Her behind it.

And, I must admit, while I look cute as a button, I also look angry, and the horn itself is pretty pathetic. (A case of childhood remembrance adhering to fact and not fiction.)

We must have been on our way out the door—it’s in the picture, waiting right behind us—to Trick-Or-Treat, cause it’s clearly night-time outside, and my brother’s cheesy grin says it all—C-A-N-D-Y, and lots of it! What kid wouldn’t be thrilled? But, alas, not me.

I was busy hanging on to resentment like a champ. And, I find, over the passing years of my life, that resentment is one of the few things I’m really good at. I can always count on it—to take me to that quick fix of self-righteousness. To remove the burden of responsibility from my shoulders and to place the blame directly where it should belong—with someone else.

I know—feminist though I claim to be—that, growing up, the blame often rested with Mom.

And, it still does.

Why?…I suppose it’s because, for all of my ambitions, I see myself more clearly in her than I ever did in my workaholic dad. She was the constant. Even though she wasn’t always affectionate in the ways I craved, she WAS always there. And, I wonder, what was this worth to me, back then? And, what’s it worth now?

We don’t talk anymore. I don’t know if we ever will again, because I don’t know if I can forgive her for not loving me ENOUGH. For not protecting me when I needed her. For being human.

For making me a Halloween costume that wasn’t up to my rigourous standards.

And, I wonder: is it worth it to keep hanging on, even though the Unicorn’s tail was attached to the backside of my pink leotard by nothing more than a couple unsteady stitches or a safety pin—can’t remember which—or is it better to just let the past go?

I think the latter is the answer.

And so, on this Halloween, this Samhain, this time of the year when the veil is thinnest, I choose to let go.

I love you, Mom, even though your sewing skills suck. I love you even though you let me down. I love you even though you’re flawed and human.

Now it’s time to start saying the same things to myself.

Birthday Song

5th-birthday-001Wriggling worm,

another year slips by

impatiently

gasping for breath.

But why?

There’s still time.

Or isn’t there…

 

I often wonder

what my parents thought on the day I was born

Sickly

Too-small

Red-faced

 

But still

Theirs

 

Did they take me home

happy?

Or did they want to make

an exchange?

Like faulty furniture

Or a ruptured organ.

 

I don’t know.

 

But I do feel lonely.

Often.

 

For a long time

I tried to avoid it.

But it followed me.

Creeping close to my shadow.

Always dogging me.

So, I stopped and said

“Okay.

If that’s the way you want it.”

 

And now the desperation is still here,johnny-jump-up-001

but it’s masked a little.

Softer.

Maybe that’s the thing about age:

it makes you stop trying so hard.

The pleasure is all theirs,

anyway.