Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Left Behind

As I've been working this piece over in my mind these past few days, it's changed shapes on me several times.  At last, I'm left with the image of Dorothy in the lull of the storm and I realize, finally, what it is I want to say.

All hell is breaking loose around me.

There's unrest.  There's uncertainty.  There's fear.  Times are treacherous, I think, and then I know as certainly that the times have always been treacherous.

I'm just not always watching.  You may just as soon find me singing to the chickens and the pigs about my supposed troubles ~ like the fact that I can't actually fly, maybe.

I've said it before.  Were I to write it all down, we've had some actual, real troubles these last few years, but I promise that I know:  ours are naught compared to what's going on out there.

Out there.

Do y'all remember when I started this thing?  This writing thing?
Okay, well I do, obviously, and it had much to do with those already occupying this space - those good or Bad Teachers who were putting themselves out there, sharing their wisdom, their experience, or their lack of one or both.  They encouraged me to get on with it, my own version of bleeding out.*

But as the days have passed, it seems that they too - (many of) my favorite friends - have passed into the shadows.  And I feel a little bit left behind.

Have they given it up?  Have they given till there's none left?  Have they gone to the hills?  Are they busy digging shelters from the coming storm?  In any case, I have seen a few farewell posts and have also noted a few sudden, blaring absences.  My hope is that they are still out there and still clinging to our one, true hope.

The Coming Storm.

There are still blips on the radar.  One such is what Emily Freeman says here, and I keep thinking particularly of her bit at the end about her response to current events.

Current events are scary as all get-out!  (But then I know as certainly that they always have been.)  How, how do I not sense that the end is near?  Maybe you've sensed it too or maybe you haven't.  Maybe your momma did or maybe she didn't think the end was due in 1962.  Or '91.  Or last week.  Maybe your granddad had the same thoughts or maybe he didn't.  In any case, I have a hard time not wondering about the next big event and who might get left behind.  Will I get left behind?  (Remember, I'm bleeding here.)

But this is where I have to cling to my One True Hope, my shelter in every storm.

The Next Big Event.

For a long, long time, I had this notion down deep that I would do some kind of important thing in the world.  I used to be certain that I would wind up in the mix of inner-city kids - serving them, I mean.  And/or that I would travel to do mission work all around the ... well, depended a bit on the means of travel - but I really believed that I'd be going out there.

Nope, nobody needs comment about making God laugh and all that!  It's the ones whose lives actually do turn out as planned that are the marvel.  (To me, at least.)  So I've probably always known better than to have a solid plan.  (That just might be my most clever excuse so far!)

But I have had some ideas.  And some notions.  And some hopes that my life might go in certain directions.  Much of that now - you know - has been left behind.

But I do still have hope.

Certain Directions.

I recently and quite accidentally started listening to a new sermon series.  <-I just told a joke. 

According to Andy Stanley, I'm not so much in a lull as I am In The Meantime.  And it may just be that I'm here for a bit, unable to go in any real direction, unable to affect the changes I'd like to see.  I really do feel the way that I think Dorothy must have - frantic to see the chaos just outside her window, yet helpless to calm the storm.

Sometimes, I think that to be struck unconscious would be a welcome relief.  Sometimes, I think it's just a matter of time before I receive that blow.  The witch is on the loose.  The world is tossed about.  So little seems certain.  There remain certain fears.


Times are treacherous, that is certain.
But these times are not the everlasting Certainty wherein I place my hope.
These times, these uncertainties, these fears ~ they will one day be left behind.
That.  That is what I want to say.

*Writing is easy. You just open up a vein and bleed onto the pages.
–attributed to Red Smith

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

I have to come to terms with this and I have to do it here.


There are just too many words to keep sorted out in my head.

I do try never to make a bigger deal of one life than another because I sincerely believe that all of our lives have deep value.  The news of Robin Williams, however, has me stopped and staring.

Like many of us, I imagine, I've admired Mr. Williams over the long course of his acting career.  But I would not call myself a fan ~ only because I'm not a member of anyone's fan club, really, outside of my family.  It's more that I have appreciated Mr. Williams as a fellow citizen, possibly of the same ilk.  You know ... smart, funny, humane, "together".  Yes, I like to think I'm somehow kin, even if only on paper.

So to see this news is like, "Oh crap, man.  If he lost it, then..."

And I'm making this all about me again.  Apologies, again.  All is vanity, indeed.*

But I'm not the only one, I know.

I'm not the only one trying to come to terms.  Or who does, in fact, relate somehow.

By now, many of you know that many years ago, I was engaged to a man who took his own life.  I've had a myriad of contemplations and questions I would ask the man, but, because he cannot answer, I've chosen to rest on a certain possibility.  I've chosen to believe that he believed he was choosing in favor of those he left behind.

(Very Important Note: I recognize the potential here for pain, anger, and backlash.  I've read plenty of commentary on this subject and know too well, too personally, the ways that it affects those left behind.  Please understand:  I've chosen to believe...)

And that choice is rooted in another way that I relate to the subject.  It's not really been a secret, but I've also never said it on paper (or possibly outside my head)...  I have - many times, in fact - considered writing my own exit scene.  Not so often in recent years (thank the LORD), but there's also a sharp contrast between my youthful and more recent contemplations.  When I was a child, it was a fanciful, nearly romantic, and admittedly entirely self-centered thing to consider.

(This is hard.  How on earth do you measure every. single. word. in a very best attempt to do no harm?)

(Switching to summary format.)

I'll dare not say that it's ever anything other than self-centered.
But I'll also dare not say that it's not ever anything else.
That's that.

When I was a very young child ~ as young as seven- or eight-years-old, perhaps ~ a very close family member used to tell me about his passage strategies.  And I mean the whys, the hows, the possible very specifics.  I've thought about it through the years, but not a lot.  I could be (could have been) angry, bitter, or just disturbed that I would be introduced to such a concept at such an age.  I used to think this sort of early education set a certain stage for me - one on which I would always only walk in circles but never actually exit.  Again, however, I've made a choice and that is to believe I was (strategically) given an early glimpse into the battle that too many of us would fight.

(Whether or not the introduction was some sort of poison dart is something I may or may not think more about later.)

I have a favorite poem** that starts...

Suddenly, I stopped thinking about Love,
after so many years of only that,
after thinking that nothing else mattered.
And what was I thinking of when I stopped
thinking about Love? Death, of course—what else
could take Love’s place? What else could hold such force?

I cannot read this but that it seems the reverse of my experience.  I began with so keen an eye turned toward death, but have replaced its force with love.  Death is ever-present but I choose love.

Oh, how my heart hurts that Mr. Williams chose to exit.
I'll dare not say, however, that I can't imagine what brought him to it.

Oh, Lord, I pray this post does no harm.  I pray I am not writing too soon or too personally or too thoughtlessly.  And I pray for all of my fellow citizens, but especially for those who find themselves sometimes in that place.

Please, please, when you feel caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, make a fist*** and push through.

**At The Moment, JOYCE SUTPHEN

***Making A Fist
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.
“How do you know if you are going to die?”
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
“When you can no longer make a fist.”
Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Oh, geez.

I have this sort of unspoken agreement with myself that, when making up my stuff - whatever it is - I'll avoid the overtly cliche.  What this one's called, however, seems less a chosen title and more a given task:  "Here ~ Explain this."

It's my own self that's seeking to understand.

I keep thinking about these last, oh, let's say five or six years.  These have been the grandbaby years - probably the most solid-seeming era of my life so far.  And yet, so little about this time has been stable and sure.  As familiar as I've grown with change through the years (and sudden, shocking change, indeed!), the pushes and yanks, the yeses and nos, the stays and gos of these most recent times have left me feeling, oh, let's say a little bit uncertain.

What would I have done with my life had all the choices been entirely mine?  How might I have plotted my course ... who'm I kidding there?  I never had such initiative as that!

But it does seem that a broadness has opened up in front of me.  Suddenly, I am without the daily tasks of grandbabies and there is all this time to fill.

Certainly, I could go and learn something new; however, it's hard to justify a pottery class at my age.  At least not when considering the reality of our diminishing income.  The husband thinks it's a great time for me to seek new income endeavors - but I'm convinced that nobody's going to pay me to just sit and stare.  That is, after all, what I do best and the idea of branching out ... well, again, there's my age.

It may be, however, that I have to make an actual plan, make some choices, plot a course. Oh, geez.

But there's time enough for that.  For now, I'm content enough to wander.

photo source:

So there's no poetry here.
No Moral To This Story.
There's no scripture lesson.  
No real conclusion.
Except that 
- still - 
I know the way is forward and
I am never lost if I know the way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stop And Stare

(I began but did not finish this on 05/31/14.  Much, much has changed but it's going to take me at least as long to record that bit of history.)

I made all these notes on a page yesterday that were supposed to become this.

This post, this explanation, this clearing-house.

I'm here now and can only hear

A post is missing.  I've been supposed to (by my own instruction) write one that's somewhat about being the mother of an addict.  It wouldn't be a novel post, no world-changing words.  I'm just swinging on that hinge between my recovery and my daughter's descent and needing some place to go with it.  Maybe I'll get to write that out.  Maybe it'll stay here with me.

All of it's so heavy and feeling so necessary to disclose but there's always, always that "other people's business" thing.  That's been a big part of the battle ~ to say or not to say.

But this is my business too.  This is my life and I've settled on saying, 1) because I know there are others in similar circumstances; and, 2) this stuff has to go somewhere.  So who's the lucky reader?!

I am raising my kid's kid*.  I've had him for a few months now, but after a very long and stressful year of fighting it - of trying to force an alternative.  [(That's code for trying to make my kid straighten up and fly right.)  (I do not have the power to make my kid do anything.  We can talk about that whole paradigm later on.)]

You know, I'm not really old by most standards.  Women my age are having their own babies so this should not intimidate me ... not as far as ability, endurance, skill, etc.  In many ways, I should expect to be better at parenting this time around.  But I catch myself wondering, "Do I really think I can do this again?!  Raise a kid from scratch again?" and a little "#*!! no!" crosses my mind.  But that's really just a joke I tell myself.

To note, big and bold, I am not doing this by myself, of course.  My husband ... I can't even go there right now.  Can the compassionate people just imagine what this kind of thing does to a marriage?  We are solid but also being tested daily.

There are places to go for encouragement.  I have my man, as stated, and very good friends who are supportive and patient with me as I'm an even lesser friend than before.  Meditation and prayer, communion with Jesus ... this should go without saying, but, as many of you know, having a toddler impacts EveryThing.


I still have favorite bloggers.  (They say that blogging is already dying out but I refuse to accept that.)  There are women my age who are writing ~ about watching their kids graduate from high school, a normal expectation, I think, for someone my age.  There are women who are writing as they have kids the age of my grandson ~ but they, themselves, are half my age.  I am inspired by their stories:  "I played Uno with my daughter."  "I cleared the stack of books from the dining room table."  But I am not really rising up as I'd hoped.

Instead, I just post a lot of pictures.  And those prompt friends to ask things like,
"Does that boy even have a shirt?!"
"Could it be that he eats too many crackers?"
"Do you always have a camera ready?"
(And y'all, please never stop asking these kinds of questions!)

There are other things I could or should be doing besides posting pictures.  I'd like to be writing.  Or reading.  Or making better on my commitments.  But again, everything has changed.

Picture-posting is just about my only viable creative outlet.  And there, my thousand words can usually be found.

Yes, the boy eats too many crackers.  Too many everything.  Honey calls me on it though he really doesn't need to.

Yes, he has shirts.  And it's turned out that dressing a boy is not so durn awful as I thought it might be.

But Lord, he is a boy and that's a whole other thing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

For The Zombie Mommas

I’ve pondered writing this for a long time but have a host of reasons for having not. I’m doing it now for this reason: I am not one to look back with regret; rather, I look forward and wonder what I’m going to regret.

That said,

I care little for the zombie culture.  For me, it’s just one more manifestation of a desensitized society.  (But you go ahead!)

I’ve had this really weird theory about the coming zombie apocalypse and how drug addiction will be its genesis.  Turns out, this is not one of my less plausible theories if you have a look at some of the latest drug trends.  Which I don’t actually recommend doing.

But I’m beating around the bush.

I’ve re-written this paragraph forty hundred times, trying to decide what to say, how to say it, whether I have a right to say it, whether it’s a good idea to say it. Finally, I’ve decided to say simply:  It seems I’m losing one of my girls to drugs.

That’s a sentence I’ve put off writing for a long, long time, thinking that I’m breaking some kind of hipa law, or at the very least, I’m disrespecting my girl by telling her business.


She came through me.  I raised her (right or short-coming-like), and fought for her for all her years (realized or short-coming-like).

She is my girl, my daughter, my child.

And it seems that I am losing her.

It seems that we are all losing.

That’s all I wanted to say.

And needed to say.

Because I have no idea what else to say.
Or what to do.
And I know there are other zombie mommas out there, also not knowing.

So I’m raising this like a banner and a prayer for us all.

Monday, June 2, 2014

can we just call this poetry?

the incessant barking
that morning i walked to your place
two days before you would be gone to who-knows-where
to check on you for what may or may not be the last time 
(may or may not is always the thing with you) 
could not pray
could not concentrate
could only hear the dogs barking
and wonder
if i would remember that sound two days from now

Thursday, May 15, 2014

In Defense Of Heroine


That is the Dumbest Title of Anything that I have ever written; however, try as I might, I could not write another.

Let's move on.

Remember when Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroine overdose a couple of months ago?  I'll be truthful:  I didn't cry or have a prayer vigil or even spend long periods of time in meditation over his particular story - though his story does make me sad and I feel that any life deserves to be seen.

He was certainly not the first person to die of an overdose or even the first famous person ~ which I'm pointing out as famous people tend to receive more coverage ~ but something about his death kept it very much on my mind in those first days, and still, it comes back from time-to-time.

It wasn't that I would miss seeing him, though I did somewhat enjoy his work.  It wasn't that he left behind three kids.  Or even the general sense of shock and grief for the rate at which drugs are wiping people out.

What got me most of all, what wore me down was the vitriol with which people discussed this man's death.

"Stupid, loser a**h*** deserved to die."

I saw so many variations of that sentence.
What is wrong with people?
And I don't mean the drug users.

I also see people debating:

CHOICE <<<<<<< or >>>>>>>ILLNESS

It's both.

And, yes.  I do know.

Thank God in heaven that my patterns of addiction never took me down such a path as intro-venous drug use but I've used in other ways.  And I know people, very personally, who've not been so fortunate to avoid such a path.

Call them "stupid, loser a**h***" to my face, please.  Living with addiction and mental illness in any capacity is ... well, to say it's merely frustrating is absurd.  Not having any other ultimate solution, I sometimes think a good a**-whooping would do the trick.  

But seriously, we're in a state of decline:  morale, healthcare, community, compassion.  We can debate, call names, kick butt, change policy and law - all with the best or most un-thinking intentions, but people are still dying everyday.   Before you claim to know it all or have moral supremacy, consider that you may know someone who's dealing personally on this front.  There may be something more or better that can be done to help stop this plague.

I, personally, just don't know what it is.  I, personally, feel rather helpless.

For the record, I still internet shop and eat entire bags of candy when the pressure's really on.   For the most part, though, I have maintained my recovery.  I must responsibly note that Mr. Hoffman was clean for 23 years before his relapse.  How sobering a realization is that.