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Yes

healed heart

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin
my bones
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy

—Pesha Joyce Gertler, The Healing Time

yinyang

It ends on Valentine’s Day, which is cosmically appropriate.

I find myself between two giants. One stout as the trunk of a gentle redwood and one wiry, brimming with a wild energy. I hug both goodbye with a little desperation.

I’d just shared nine days with these two, and 42 others, in the most utterly vulnerable and healing experience of my life. We are the last to leave, and goodbyes are hard. Maybe we are the last because it’s less painful to say farewell to a few at a time. This is certainly my truth.

Then another makes a surprise return as I head to my car. Love beams from this one, matching the neon-yellow glow of his shirt. I like to think he is the herald of my departure, his presence transforming my melancholy into a bittersweetness. It’s mostly sweet.

With eyes leaking for the bazillionth time I hug him and say, “I love you, motherfucker.”

In the rearview mirror they shrink, shrink, shrink as I drive away.

yinyang

I surrendered at the doorstep of the Hoffman Institute with a fried brain, a heart running off fumes, and clothes smoldering from trials of fire.

This was it. My last throw.

On day one, my Intellect didn’t feel challenged much. It had figured out most of the dynamics of my past and their influence on the present.

Yeah, yeah, I get it.

Then they said I could give it space to rest. They said there were others who had roles.

Others? What others?

They said I had an Emotional Self. They said it was stunted, caged, neglected.

Well, duh. I’ve got emotions. But they are under control. Usually.

They said another was the Body. They said not only was it the vehicle, but that it stored a wisdom of its own too.

Again, duh. But I don’t know about that wisdom part. That’s my job.

And then they said there was this part of me called Spirit. They said this was my guide in life, the holder of eternal wisdom.

Intellect stopped resting with this announcement.

Wait, what? I drive this vehicle. I’ve ALWAYS driven this vehicle. It’s my damn job. I’m not giving it up to some woo-woo invisible dude.

This is when the teachers bombarded me with so much emotional and physical expression it blew Intellect’s mind.

Holy shit. I can’t keep up with this.

Every day built me up and tore me down. Over and over. But I never had a sense of insecurity. I was safe. Accepted. I was loved.

Loved? What in the hell is this place?

I accepted everything they told me. Whatever they asked of me, I did. I did all of it with senseless abandon. To hell with ego! I told myself I came to get down, not fuck around.

And in this way I began to heal.

yinyang

The weather was gorgeous. Spring had made its announcement: I was going to bloom whether I thought I could or not. Arriving “tight in the bud” meant I’d spend most of my time during the Hoffman Process with a dog-paddling mind, sore muscles, and a less-than-sexy rasp of a voice.

Of course this was by design.

The group came from all over the world. New Zealand. Dubai. Paris. Berlin. Monaco. This was something I hadn’t expected. They came from all walks of life. A few were retirees. The majority of us were somewhere on either side of forty, but there were a handful in their early thirties. This made me jealous. If I’d only come here when I was 23.

Ah, living in the past. It’s a negative pattern in my life. One of my favorites. Turns out I have a shit-ton of negative patterns. Thanks, Mr. Hoffman.

The writer in me read my classmates as we all sat in a big “U” listening to the teachers. It’s an affliction that I can’t turn off. Some of their stories were written plainly on their faces. Some their bodies. Some of them gave up their pages in the way they spoke. Some were mirrors.

I instantly loved every one of them.

During this, another adored pattern clambered forth and screamed to be heard like the ping of a goddamn radar. The Caretaker. The Rescuer. Women, especially if I found them attractive, were this pattern’s mythical sirens….

SAVE US, COMFORT US, FOR THE LOVE OF THE HONKY-GOD LOSE YOURSELF IN US SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH YOUR DEMONS.

I literally had to imagine myself with eyes tightly closed and fingers shoved into both ears while yelling LALALALALALALA. I had to visualize this a lot. It probably didn’t help that I’d stopped masturbating about a month beforehand. Perhaps that act was a little overzealous. Did I mention that extreme acts are a personal pattern?

ALL THE FUCKING PATTERNS.

I didn’t do any personal writing during the process. It was impossible. Oh, but there was writing. Every day. The funny thing was, the writing that I scrawled as part of the process was kid-like. It’s hard to put words together when your intellect is sitting in the corner, rocking itself for comfort. When my kid-self was angry, he was prolific. The words just gushed out like raging flu vomit.

Adult-me was jealous of that little punk. HELLO, PATTERN.

And then there were personal revelations that came like a sucker punch. POW. Often this happened in some kind of spooky synchronicity with someone else’s dawning recognition. Better yet, the things I was still in denial about refused to be avoided. Every damn time I made a conscious decision to avoid an uncomfortable truth or situation, I’d be foiled by circumstance.

The weirdness of it all was inexplicable.

Throughout the week classmates, one after another, thanked me. They said I’d helped by just being near them. I didn’t know how to feel about that. I wanted to discount their appreciation—in other words, I wanted to PLAY OUT ANOTHER PATTERN.

Instead, a voice in my head responded that I was being of service. It felt like a bell rang inside my heart. It felt like a call. A gift unused?

Whether any of us recognized it or not, we carried each other along towards enlightenment and healing. Does the Universe find pleasure in such shenanigans? If I were the Universe, I would. Is that a pattern?

Day one became day nine and we had to say goodbye. Where did the time go? We were told that we’d probably never see each other again. My head was still swimming, unable to comprehend the gravity of change I’d undertaken. I was a seed when I arrived. Now I was a tree. How could this be?

I don’t do goodbyes well…I’ve had so much grief and loss in my life. My insides squealed like a piglet being pulled off his mother’s teat. My eyes leaked like crazy. I felt like I was seven years old.

Don’t you dare ask if that’s a pattern.

yinyang

Sad songs were not allowed to play while I drove home.

I started to wonder how I’d share my experience back in the “real” world. Should I explain everything in detail? Should I recommend the Process to others? I still had so much work to do.

I’d certainly not been “saved” like some holy roller. I couldn’t spontaneously levitate. I still hated math. The challenges I’d left during the retreat would be there to greet me with open arms when I got home.

But there was one thing. I loved myself. Completely. On motherfucking Valentine’s Day.

I now know I’ll love myself for the rest of the days I’m allowed to live.

I’ll let my actions speak for my profound experience.

Some of my new family are returning home as I write this, crossing continents and oceans. I know they are feeling just like I am.

They aren’t “doing good.”
They aren’t “fine.”
They are happy,
and sad.
Hopeful,
and scared.
Confused, anxious.
A bit lonely, maybe.
Grateful, surely.
Healed, definitely.

We gave ourselves permission to be vulnerable. Authentic. Raw. We cried in front of each other with snot running down our faces. Screamed in rage. Shared our grief.

Reveled in joy.

And in that our hearts bonded.

I miss them. Terribly.

Photo credit: Neal Fowler/Flickr
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The Thing Under the Thing

Onion Layers

You were laying on the carpet
Like you’re satin in a coffin
“You said, “Do you believe what you’re saying?”
Yeah, right now, but not that often

-Modest Mouse, Satin in a Coffin

I fell down the mountain hard last year. I thought it wouldn’t end. Now my psyche is splayed out on some tenuous outcropping of life all twistedbroketorn, hoping that I’ve stopped.

Just hold on.
Hold on.
Hold on.

My ex-mother-in-law once told my son right in front of me, “God gave you diabetes for a reason. He wanted to make you stronger.”

And then my hands were squeezing her arms, bruising bone, shaking her until her teeth shattered. Screaming at her face until my spit was blood.

That’s what I wanted to do but thankfully didn’t.

When it is suggested that we look at times of challenge, failure, and loss as a sadistic benevolence from some invisible force or as disguised good fortune, I want to kick every adorable baby creature the Earth has to offer. Right in the face.

When you utter words like “every cloud has a sliver lining” or “everything happens for a reason” a baby dolphin has been escape velocity punted right in its ever-fucking cuteness. Remember that.

Nothing of actual import changes, you know, the deep shit, the things that live in us subliminally, unless there’s some pain. Sometimes it takes the kind of pain that breaks you.

I cleared the board of my life clean. I intellectualized myself to the atom. I tried to love. All my efforts failed. The pain was epic.

I’m broken. I’m at the end of all things.

Maybe that’s what was necessary. Like how the giant sequoia tree needs fire to thrive.

It’s all motherfucking inside, man. It just keeps manifesting outside—in the people I dance with, in my habits, my beliefs, my circumstances….the ones that repeat, the ones that dog me.

The ones that make me suffer.

It’s not the thing.

It’s the thing
under the thing
under the thing
under the thing
under the thing.

This thing.

Others have forced the child-me to swallow bad seeds or wounded me through their own wounds. But no one is now. The adult-me is still tending what’s grown inside over the years as if not a single day has passed. What’s grown is distorted and fractured. Oppositional. Knots in knots in knots. A riddle I told myself but don’t know the answer to. A path that circles back on itself. A deep deep hurt.

I can’t let it go. I can’t banish it, hide it, deny it, numb it, run from it. I have to embrace it. It’s time to reintegrate my shattered Self.

It’s time to heal.

I love you
but damn it hurts

Some of the pain is
a sweet sacrifice
an unselfish bloodletting
Some of the pain is
an empty silence
that leaves me starving

The hunger makes me wonder,
was love fed to my child-heart
as a small note pinned to my skin
that read:

Take this, eat it 
let it be enough
or else
or else
or else I’ll leave.
Then who will
who will
who will love you?

Maybe love shouldn’t hurt
unless its vocals are off key
unless its form can’t find balance
unless the curve of its line draws
a circle that never closes
unless the cost is
loss of Self

Maybe love shouldn’t hurt
I think that might be true
but for now
it’s only theory

Photo Credit: Flickr/rawdonfox
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Built for Chaos

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I built a boat when I was a child
The land was sinking
and the ocean violent
I did what I had to
I splintered
Self became selves

The Captain steered with brutal will
determined to survive at any cost
Blood offerings
the faithful Deckhand gave,
sea’s blessing hoping to receive
The crow’s nest Sentry guarded
against rogue waves’ ambush
The Jester made fun of it all,
a desperate footing
for perseverance

The Poet-child
the precious cargo
locked away in boat’s hold
in darkness
in silence
for his protection

Sail ragged,
boat’s wheel stripped,
all surrendered to wind and wave
Years, for years the seas raged
and in this way
they became
the stormy sea

Then the worst—
A sea settled
befell them

Waves smooth instead of fist and claw
Wind gentle instead of punishing squall
And most terrible of all,
a brilliance left them wincing
Kissing their skin,
its warmth
Dancing on ocean’s face,
its light
Where curtains of darkness hung
Now where blue of two hues met
One above, one below
Far
Far
Away

Then came a pounding underfoot
A pain-laced voice calling for release

The captain howled in alarm
Mend sail and wheel!
Quickly, to flee this treachery!

Fear nipping at their roles,
the bow lurched
Towards ever-darker grays
Towards wicked seaspray
Towards danger’s threat
Towards their purpose
Towards their birthright

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Girl and Snake

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Through branch thick, fighting
over thorned fences, climbing
into icy waters, stepping

This, her storied ever-memory

Then smoke seen rising
then brambles clearing
then green grass stretching

‘Round a leafless corpse’s last stand
yellow, trimmed white and four cornered
roof-capped where chimney’s grey tail floats

A window
A door
A chair-perched porch

Feet dew licked, grassblood stained
approaching wary, unbelieving
a mismatched staircase greets her

Numbered short, a flight of three
decayed, grey paint curl-flakes
above, the well-kept porch beckons

They will betray me…yet there’s only three.

Beneath wormwood step, first of three
her wild-weight offered carefully
its rot confesses with hollow groans

Don’t stand still on lies.

Woodmoan rattles memory’s chains
whispers what always comes next
she steps quickly to second of three

Don’t run, child. Be brave.

Handrail falls, snapping in her hand
second cracks underfoot, arms reel
third then, before second swallows

NO!…is this another carrot trap?

The treachery openly plain on three
Splintertoothed voids, broken board maws
and through the gaps something lurks

Her footfall careful turns stutter-step scream
a serpent winds out of the secret dark, peeking
up through the falsework, eyes squintless

“Easy, I’m not what I seem,” the snake offers.

“A lesson men taught by devouring my flesh,”
she counters.

A slow hiss-sad recognition escapes his length
his glossy sunbathed blackness turns iridescent
as he stretches long, emerging fully

“But men they weren’t…just hiding their truth.
Beneath suit and skin, lay fur and fang, yes?”

“True, but what of you then,” she asks, frozen.

Blue-black and legless he crawls
creeps he up past three, to porchtop
his darkness curls, pauses

“I once was a boy, I think,” he ponders.
“Before I was force fed the shadows of long-dead rats.”

Three’s crossbeam shatters, a gunshot
she tips backward, cries out, fights balance
as fire blooms from her eyes, she lunges

Arms and legs splay as she lands hard
face first, sliding across the solid porchtop
greets a scaly vision too closely

Her’s tigerflecked, his a blank milky-blind
locked stares as time stood, waiting
his restless forktongue first to set time moving

“Do it. Strike me. It was your plan,”
she surrenders bitterly.

“It certainly was not. I feared you lost.
I have not arms to catch nor eyes to see.”

The snake yawns wide, an offering of human teeth
her terror deer-feral shifts to flee
the abominable horror worse than fangs expected

“What are you?” She barks, bolting upright.

“A lie, I think.”

“I know lies. Wolves never reveal themselves
until they dine. Deceit is their lie.
But your vileness is obvious…
a lie you tell yourself?” She reasons.

“Yes. I think so.”

Warmth remembered of a sun forgotten
presses skin and scale, almost painful
this place sharp with peace, a biting oddity

“What is this?” She wonders warily.

“A warmth was what beckoned me out the chilled dark.
This is all I know. What do you see?”
Her question answered by
eyes lidless and smoke-filled.

Old companions, her long skirt floats above bare feet
to gentle curtain-framed glass, she peers
her face softens from its harrowed lines

“A rug loom-wove bears a pillowed couch,
a stone hearth cradles flame
through a window I see.
A door wooden with brass knob the entry.
A table chair stands with us on a porch.”

“A home? Knock, would you?”

Door greets with an unowned welcome,
delicate fingers curl as hand raises, knocks gently
shawl falls from arm’s catch,
unveiled skin a tale of struggle’s scars

The door answers with silence. “Try the knob,”
the handless serpent coaxes.

“To try feels wrong even as the door whispers to open it.
I shouldn’t.”

“You tell yourself lies too. Try.”

Heart begs as old voices sing favorite refrains
Hesitant fingers wrap warm sunsparked brass, twist
unyielding answer blows a familiar cold soulward

“It’s locked, and the door without keyhole.”
She says in a sigh laced with tears
as she collapses in the lone chair.
“I don’t want to go back to the woods.”

“Nor I to the shadows and cold.
This is enough, for now I guess.”

“I guess,” she echoes in agreement.

Of their fate resigned,
shared silence the evidence
stilled even is the shadowed wood
past pasture’s green borders
its ever-gnawing presence muted,
unknown whether in wait or respect

Snake uncoils, tongue sensing where she rests.
“I have an uncomfortable request,”
his voice hinting a tremble as he slithers to her feet.
“Would you be brave enough to hold me in your lap?
Cold’s callous indifference
my memory’s only known companion.”

Bending down her hands scoop
with unhesitant surprise
pulls him to her lap,
her touch reading more of his story
scalebare scars wander down his shape,
skin under scaleskin fleshy

“A molting of sorts I hope,” he confesses.
“My vision lost, as it began.”

“Yes, I think you are shedding your lie.
Forced to wander by loss, like me.”

“Yes.”

“Will you stay here with me,
however long we are allowed?”
The words fighting to be spoken
as she braces for pain’s reply.

Without a word Snake slides from her lap,
gently wraps his length around her waist
and swallows his tail.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
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Trauma

We live our days within a culture of trauma. Its destructive nature wounds deeply, leaving us to struggle generation to generation.

Born into this
Walking and living through this
Dying because of this
Muted because of this
Castrated
Debauched
Disinherited
Because of this
Fooled by this
Used by this
Pissed on by this
Made crazy and sick by this
Made violent
Made inhuman
By this

-Charles Bukowski, Dinosauria, We

This is his way. He must paint himself with words.

Too much lifetime has passed. He’s 46 and he’s tired. He’s been struggling for the majority of his life, a life that has incessantly felt like scaling a wall that he can almost but never climb over.

He finds himself thinking he’s a touch mad most of the time. Contradiction defines his wounds, and he spends much of his time walking flat land like a tightrope.

He’s analyzed his childhood and choices in adulthood over and over, pieced together why he’s struggled with depression and intimacy. He has clarity. He thought that would mean he would be able to transcend these obstacles, move on with his life and grow. But he continues to flounder and that has left him intensely frustrated and sad.

He wonders, why do I still feel stuck, chained to my past?

He wonders, why do I still feel stuck, chained to my past?

He thinks he might have found out why.

◊♦◊

He turned around to face his mother
To show her the wound in his breast 
That burned like a brand
But the sword that cut him open
Was the sword in his mother’s hand

-Sting, The Lazarus Heart

He was raised by a woman. She adored him and he she. But she failed him at a critically vulnerable moment that would leave the deepest wound in his heart. Her volatile nature forced him to navigate around her emotional extremes: at once angelically nurturing and giving and then viciously critical and mean. Love and betrayal would now be inexorably wed, warping his ability to experience love with women. While she held him high, she was stained with resentment by wounds inflicted on her by men and it would undermine his vision of his gender. And in this, a war against intimacy and self was seeded in his heart.

I will never be safe
I will never be sane
I will always be weird inside
I will always be lame
Now I’m a grown man
With a child of my own
And I swear, I’ll never let her know
All the pain I have known

-Everclear, Father of Mine

He was abandoned by his father. He was molested by an older boy, having his innocence stolen. Men were manipulators or brute authority. Men didn’t protect or inspire, they didn’t teach or lead. Men didn’t love. Men were competition. Men were predators.

Rejected from birth and with no solid guide into manhood, he would doubt himself and his place in the world. He’d have to be his own guide, one angry and untrusting of his kind. And in this, the war against himself bloomed. This would lead him down dark paths, ones he barely survived.

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy birthday, happy birthday

And to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me

Hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

-Tears for Fears, Mad World

He grew up in a family that he never felt was completely his own. He felt abandoned, lost in new dynamics when his mother married a man, a stranger suddenly holding the title of father. And their marriage would be chaotic, abusive in word and thought, a minefield he’d have to traverse daily, a rollercoaster he had no choice but ride. When his mother would fall apart, he’d pick up her pieces, be the good son, a child supporting an adult that he could never completely appease.

And so he hid his heart away, dared not expose it even though it ached to be held. In love he’d choose safety, never risking a chance to have what his heart truly desired. He’d rather betray himself than allow another to hurt him again.

Babe, there’s something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don’t you agree?
Babe, there’s something lonesome about you
Something so wholesome about you
Get closer to me

-Hozier, From Eden

It tore away protective layers of himself and exposed emotional framework he’d tucked in a blind spot of his mind.

Now he’s sweeping up the ashes of a romantic relationship where he finally found the courage to offer his heart in a vulnerable way. It’s left him reeling, deeply hurt and coping with emotions he’s protected himself from feeling since childhood. Its season was short but intensely passionate, like a violent thunderstorm. It tore away protective layers of himself and exposed emotional framework he’d tucked in a blind spot of his mind.

Ah, those chains. They are still there, he thinks.

He fears that his script is etched in stone, that he’s stuck on some track that will just present the same situation again. And in desperation to avoid another painful head-on collision with all his past trauma, he’ll just let his heart grow cold, accept solitude or choose relationships that aren’t intimate in order to cope.

But he knows. He knows there’s no use hiding anymore, not if he wants to sever the chains of trauma that hold him fast to the past, not unless he wants to repeat the same painful dance, not if he wants to love and be loved.

He knows that he’s learned something vital in the midst of his heart’s devastation.

◊♦◊

So here I am.

As much as I’ve wanted to let it all go, my thoughts keep returning to our relationship. There’s this nagging feeling that there’s something important to note, that I found a key to a door I didn’t know existed.

That key is the suspicion that I may suffer from PTSD. And if not that, it’s clear that my mother did and that I’ve grown up in the shadow of her undiagnosed illness.

It wasn’t until I found myself in a relationship where I stopped avoiding intimacy that these sleeping issues began to reveal themselves in a new light.

I have never considered that I may suffer from PTSD, not until now. I’ve always focused on my struggles with depression and attributed it as the cause of the majority of my pain. But I’ve spent most of my life successfully choosing paths that kept me from confronting and moving past my traumatic childhood. It wasn’t until I found myself in a relationship where I stopped avoiding intimacy that these sleeping issues began to reveal themselves in a new light.

During my study of PTSD online I found Heidi Hanson’s blog about her journey of recovery. Unlike other resources online, I found her’s more accessible and engaging because it’s from the survivor’s perspective. She wrote a three-part post about PTSD and relationships and I started to find connections to my past and how they had revealed themselves in the stormy relationship.

I saw old blog posts of mine in a new light. The expression of my thoughts, the words and descriptions used, the traumatic events and my struggles…a pattern that mirrored the symptoms a person suffering from PTSD experiences began to emerge.

And then Heidi sent me a link to this podcast and I was blown away by the similarities of my story and the host, Daniel Vitalis. The story he shares is authentic and vulnerable. I am not affiliated to him or his guest on the podcast, but whether you are a man or a woman, I urge you to listen to it if any of my story relates to you. I think you will find what you hear valuable.

In following articles I will share my story in greater detail and I invite you to join me.

Click this link to continue to part two.

This article was first published on The Good Men Project
Photo credit: Porsche Brosseau/Flickr
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Instinct

 

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We’re wounded, warped, snarled
Good intent but tragic in deed
We bleed
Searching for a place to heal
Let’s lay in silence
Beyond culture’s violence

Don’t confess your sins, don’t lay blame
Don’t tell me about the men outside your door
Or the sobbing you’ve done curled on the floor
No because or whys
Save your breath to sound in my ear
Head on your chest, soothing my fear

Don’t say I’m yours, don’t tell me you’re mine
Don’t ask me to stay, don’t tell me to go
Nothing I need or want to know
Say nothing
No truth, no lie
No hello, no goodbye

No words
Wrap me in your arms, tangle me in your legs
Show me with fingertips as my skin begs
Tell me with lips and the beating of your heart
Let the rise and fall of your chest
Put me to rest

No more shattering at each other’s feet
Just hold me close
Share with me
The part that’s beyond scheme
The part deeper than word’s weak seam
The part gently primal and pure

Photo Credit: Sarah Reid/Flickr
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Oh, Stacy

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No one sees you here
Roots are all covered
There’s such a length to go
And how much can you show?
Day is gone
On a landslide a-reeling
I’ve seen your lamplight burning low

-Beck, Waking Light

My friend, Stacy Campbell, chose death over life on September 16th, 2015.

A bottle of self-medicating wine stands before me as I sit in the darkness on the deck in the backyard. I’m looking at the city lights in the distance, watching them twinkle and crawl up the far hillside as I write. These hot tears running down my face are irrational, I tell myself. You didn’t really know her, I think shamefully. Your grief is unearned.

I didn’t know Stacy but I did know Stacy. I only knew her as a writer in the electronic ether, not as flesh and blood. I found her bleeding words back in 2010 as I was starting my journey as a writer. She wrote about childhood sexual abuse. She wrote about loneliness and difficulties with relationships. She wrote about walking the edge between life and death.

These are things I know too well. We had shared trauma and I felt an immediate bond to her. I saw her darkness, knew the wounds that birthed her demons. Pain is the root of our art. We will beautifully haunting flowers to grow from our wounds, transmuting destruction into creation.

A friendship began. We even worked together briefly, I writing and editing for her online creation Indie Ink.

My grief says as much about my struggles as it does Stacy’s exit.

After I received the news of her death, I frantically dug through our sparse email correspondence, her words now precious beyond value. I found an email I had sent her after reading a particularly bloody blog post of hers. It inspired me to write about my sexual abuse. Here’s how it began:

Hi Stacy,

I read your latest post and I’m stunned once again. It makes me wonder what you don’t write about. If you do hold some things back, I’m afraid to know what they might be. What you do share is violently revealing, emotionally traumatizing truth.

Those of us who wear the deepest scars of trauma are both deeply empathetic and painfully feral. It makes relationships difficult, especially when love is the foundation. We can be accepting to a fault and also emotionally distant. We are compassionate healers and we will bite a feeding hand when our demons are roused.

We feel misunderstood and harshly judged. We feel unworthy. We feel abandoned. We don’t want to be hurt anymore. We’ve endured so much. We struggle.

Our sensitivity is hard to tame so we build lives that pad our hearts. Physical and emotional isolation is safe ground even though it hurts. Intimacy is a terrifyingly vulnerable place for us and loneliness haunts us as a result. We betray ourselves for the sake of comfort. We are prone to self medicating habits and self harm. We are brutally hard on ourselves, the resulting depression a coat we wear in all seasons.

We fight defining ourselves by our weaknesses.

We notice the silent lonely, the unsaid pain painted on a stranger’s face. We are champions of the downtrodden. We often wield vorpal wit. Funny is our balm. We smile easy, our laughs contagious. Compliments fall easily from our lips and we’d rather hug than shake hands. These are acts of rebellion, ways for us to fight the waxing and waning tide inside that pulls at us like an undertow.

Stacy was all these things. She loved the best she could. I wish I’d known her better, that I’d pressed to keep contact when she withdrew. I wish I could have helped her through the dark.

She just wanted to love and be loved. Just like every soul on this planet.

I say these things because for the living that cared for and loved her, now is a time of shock, confusion and pain. How can this happen? Why didn’t we see this coming? Stacy is lost. We let her fall. Guilt presses hard on our hearts. We should have done more, said more, loved more, judged less. We should have had tougher skins when she lashed out or pushed away.

I know, it’s complicated. We all struggle. We all have our dark moments of the soul. For people with deep trauma the chasm yawns wide at times and they can be swallowed unexpectedly. I don’t know if there is anything that can be done to completely ensure that doesn’t happen.

But we can try.

It’s hard. There’s so much to unlearn and rebuild. But we have to or we are doomed as a species.

We swim within a global culture of cyclical trauma and none are exempt from its injurious ways. It feeds upon itself, grows exponentially. Humanity bows in suffering while bearing its weight.

I’m so tired, aren’t you? Let’s dump our cancerous burden for a new story. Please. Stacy deserved better.

We all deserve better.

“Sent via series of pipes and tubes. Your mom’s. Yeah, I said it.” -Stacy Campbell

Post originally published on The Good Men Project.
Photo Credit: Stacy Campbell
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Devoured

flameflower

I desire
Fire
Red-yellow licks
Lips and fingertips

Lust’s matchstick
Flicked
My tinder
Turned cinder

To hellfire’s teeth
Myself bequeathed

Burn
To burn
The sweetest thing

Photo Credit: Public Domain
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To Be True

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I’ve struggled
Fought myself
Wondering
Whether to say it or leave it
To swallow or sing
Yet to be true
I’m willing to disappoint you
Scare you
Lose you
My ear hoping, aching for
I love you

I’ve always believed
Better to say it all
Better to say
All the rights and all the wrongs
Cross fear’s line
Spill my darkness
Uncloak my secrets
Parade my demons
Not viciously deny
But own them
Rob their crowns
Topple their thrones

Then maybe you’ll understand
Let fall held doubt
Dismiss reasoning’s shield
Lower anger’s bitter sword
Choose kindness and mercy
Sew difference’s chasm
Pull me closer
But not into your shadow

I’ll do the same for you
Over and over and over
Just let me see you
All of you
Because then I’ll trust you
And we’ll be free of fear’s chains
And our demon’s refrains
And I will say
I love you
I love you
I love you

And it will be true

Photo Credit: Chris/Flickr
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The Curse of Man

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A heart empty
How can it be heavy
So heavy that I can’t sit up from bed’s sleep
So heavy ribs weep
So heavy every beat
So heavy

Oh no, here comes more
The tears, the deep howl
Grief’s guttural retching
Loss’s artery unstemmed, cut
Absence pulsing out in liters
Waves across rejection’s sterile floor

Curse history’s men
May they rot from the inside out
Violating and ravaging
Pillaging the beautiful and tender
Turning me bitter and untrusting
Making me to grow thorns, too painful to love

I want to breathe free
Choked by the scars men left
Stained with the blood of their conquests
Crippled by their song
Their sword chained to my hand
My constant struggle to disband

Why must I suffer the consequence of their sins?
Fight the ghosts of their violence?
I’m weary
I’m weary
No more swords and guns
No more wounded sons
No more

I want to love and be loved

Photo Credit: Public Domain
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