(Not) Gone away from me

I sometimes wonder if I even know what it is to love.
I think back to my childhood loves....the crooked smile, eyes shining when we caught sight of one another....
the familiarity and feeling of home,
the absent-minded awareness of his habits, like biting the skin around his nails...
the vise around my chest when separated too long,
that feeling of having my breath sucked and knocked out of me,
as I gulped his scent all the same.

I am moved by my memories
at times,
I stand frozen, folding my laundry,
when the image of his crooked smile & shining eyes hit me,
as if I just looked up and saw him standing there,
as before,
whispering hoarsely,

I think that I surely cannot know love,
if it is now gone.

I look for it elsewhere...
I catch sight of it's fluttering
in the wink of a man
in the gentle squeeze of his hand...
in the simple act of allowing me to rub my feet against his,
in his voice in my ear
in the words he sings
when all his armor is protecting all of his

I find it on the edge of his dimples,
hiding there,
in his words,
in my forgetting,
when I squeeze my eyes tight & try to will it away,
with all the tears I wish to wash it away,
It shows it's face in his,
eyes wide & innocent, though surely not-
playful & prodding,
grazing the hardest parts of me,
"Yes, I am still here!",
Even when I refuse to seek it out.

I hear it as I lie in this hammock alone,
This bitter and silly and insanely insistent thing that will not die at the root,
despite the leaves falling to the floor
despite the drought
despite the branches being pulled & pushed & torn
from the winds of lies & life....

I chase it,
And it chases me.
I cannot win for losing
The best part of me.
I don't want to see it,
But I hold my breath as I seek it out,
Through the ache it caused me.



I watch SportsCenter and think of you sitting beside me-
long legs stretched out next to my short ones,
skin brushing skin,
your body heat making my blood hum.

I think about glancing over my shoulder at you,
your eyes smiling back at mine,
your strong hand reaching out to brush my crazy hair away from my face.
I turn my head--
I see no one behind foolish tears.

I think back to that first date, the way I wanted to reach across the table and put my hands on either side of your face.
And I did.
Your smile filled my palms, overflowing past my fingertips,
spilling out, down my arms, onto the table,
spreading across to my face.
Your breath on the edge of my hand became the rhythm of my heart.
Sometimes I wonder if it still is.

Time stands still as it breezes by,
leaving me on this couch,
alone with my anger
and disappointment
and that shitty word used to describe your path and your words and that wool pulled over my eyes:

I fall asleep trying to write out the tangle of heartache smothering my words.
I awaken with my chin on my collarbone,
a sore spot in my neck, my pen on the floor, a blank journal page in my lap,
the TV dark.
The clock reads 2:57 am.

I used to hold my breath when you fell asleep, pushing my ear to your chest,
counting your heartbeats.
I used to believe that the weight of words would carry me into your arms,
and keep me in your life.

I wait to hear your voice again.
I belittle myself for waiting,
            for wishing,
                        for wanting.

I curse my silly heart,
    and my smart mind.
I sleep and drink and read and watch terrible TV on mute,
  but I still know what month it is, how many days have gone by
since I last felt the sincere giddiness of  sure love
when you showed up at my door
with an honest heart and an open smile
and truth.

I avoid babies
and weddings
and our favorite place to get over-served.

I force myself to

I remind myself that
the lie wasn't mine,
that the inaction wasn't my decision,
that the
wasn't about

It wasn't about me.

The fire within my gut
screams louder than I wish to admit--

Why wasn't it about me? 
Why wasn't I enough?

I will smother all of this,
and finish my book,
and watch the NBA playoffs alone,
and go out with friends,
sipping tequila-- "chilled & dressed"
and plan weekends and vacations and
any dream I have had
except for the one
share this life
until we are both wilted and wrinkled,
your warm hand on my thigh,
that sure love passing between
your eyes


Fool me once....

Sometimes I don't know what to do with myself. I cannot allow myself to break, so I keep moving. If I am still, my mind begins reaching, reaching, for...I don't know. Even when I am still, I am doing something: planning tomorrow's to-do list in my head, praying "Please be with my girl today while she is away from me, God", wishing, trying to work out a solution to the never-ending problem of...ME. And when my brain grows tired of trying to sort out all of that shit, I sleep.

I annoy the shit out of myself. I don't want to be alone. I don't want to care that I am alone. I don't want to feel like I am a wasted asset, a "catch". I don't want to care that I feel I am wasted. I wish I didn't feel loneliness anymore. I know, cognitively, that I don't need another person to be happy. But emotionally, I want to share my life with someone else. I don't want to be happy alone. 

I don't want to care about wasted time. I don't want to feel like I wasted any time with the love I had for someone the past 15 months. I want to be able to walk away, head high, knowing I gave my all, did my best, and learned "valuable lessons".


I did.

But I walked away feeling like a fool.

A fool.

And now I must lie in this bed alone, feeling full of foolishness, and empty at the same time.

Yet, still full of love that I must smother, every morning when I wake up.
It must be snuffed out, so that it doesn't annihilate me when it isn't returned ("do unto others", right?) or is used, or is abused, or is ignored, or is taken advantage of......

So I smother it--I attempt to compartmentalize it: "Here-I loved this part of him at this time." or "There-I will remember my love for him at that time". I sort, stack, label, and store all these memories of him, of us, and I smother the shit out of all of it, so that when my girl asks me where he is, I don't sink in a heap of tears on the floor. I stand tall, with a fake smile plastered on my face (it's beginning to feel real...ish) and I pull the index card out of the box labeled "White Lies To Tell About The Man That Wasn't Man Enough To Be Who He Said He Would Be Or Who You Deserved" and I say "He has a lot going on in his life right now, so we can't expect him to be here for us".

What kind of bullshit is that?

I am still working on compartmentalizing the anger. Right now, it seems to be mixed in with memories, post it notes, dried flowers, fading photographs.

Who knows a fool better than a fellow fool?


Heavy and full of nothing

I am heavy with something besides sadness.
I am heavy with the internal battle of having no hope, but wishing for hope.
I am heavy with the words you never said to me, the answers you never gave me, almost as much as all the shit you did say.
I am heavy with pain, with tears, with frustration, with anger, with weary disgust with myself, with you, with the last year of my life, with the word and feeling of HOPE.

Now I am just heavy.

I feel the depression. If I'm honest (and fuck if I am, to a fault), I felt it creeping in months ago. I tried to hope it, grin & bear it, pray it away.
But it didn't work. I knew it wouldn't.
My mind knew that none of that shit was enough to stop this storm, this dark brooding cloud coming to hang out, hang over me, until...who knows?
My mind knew that I would need to do more than smile, pray, step away from the situation that was weighing down on me.
My mind knew I couldn't handle all the shit drama that I felt was filled with lies, after one lie.

You say.)

My mind knew I would need to learn how to cope, how to take care of myself in the midst of something I could neither control nor accept.

I failed at all of it. And I felt that cloud.

It's here.

I am in a fog at all times, a dull ache behind my eyes and in my jaw, an almost-ringing in my ears when the silence of 3am wakes me from a deep sleep. My eyes burn and water. My neck is tight, waiting for the next punch, the next day filled with your inaction and overflowing with your words that I USED to believe. The cold yet hot hole in the pit of my stomach, causing me to forget to eat or pay bills or seek the peace I so desperately needed for so long.

I forget to take my makeup off at night. Why bother?
I forget to write, to read, to care, to laugh, to have energy.

Yet, somewhere within me, beneath the layers of fear and fog and sad and angry and numb and raw, I wish to have all of those things back, to do all of those things--

I want to get up and feel the joy of the sunrise. I want to walk my dog or work out to exhaustion, and feel the ache in my muscles, in my bones. I want to leave my house, my couch, my bed. I want to try on new clothes, buy something that feels sexy, and flirt with someone.

I want to have the strength to push through this fog, and move on.


But I can't. Not yet.
(Why? Why? Why?)

So I allow the fog, this storm cloud to stay. I grow comfortable in the shade of it's darkness. I spend far too much time arguing with myself about whether I am being too hard or not hard enough on myself right now. I spend too much time inside, isolated, away from friends and strangers alike, sad, heavy.

I cry at ridiculously sweet things. Things that force me to remember the brevity of life. I cry when my daughter hugs me at night, a familiar worry creeping into and out of her eyes, reaching my center. I cry when I think of wasted time, of how much I miss HIM, of how much anger I have for him and that one lie that ruined what I thought we had.
I cry when I think about this being never-ending. And then I think "What if it does end? What if it does get better? Then what? Will it last?"
I cry because I am lonely. And alone. But I isolate myself as well. I don't know how to lift this fog, clear away this storm within me.
 I don't feel normal around others. Yet I know I need to be around people who really love me and care for me.
I am slow around others. I feel my face growing used to my lips set in a stance of sadness.
I feel like a fake, a fraud, so opposite from my usual, more relaxed and peaceful state of being.

These non-smiles are heavy.
These thoughts are heavy.

When won't it be heavy?



"Why do you always seem inevitable to me?"-Orange is the New Black

I re-read my old journals. From college, after college, pre- and post-divorce, pre-love, post-love. I scour the soft pages, worn from reading and writing, looking for the point in my heart where I began to realize that being alone might be my "inevitable". 

I don't see it.

Am I a fool? Am I missing something? I know they say hindsight is 20/20, but as I re-read my heart on these pages, I feel like I was always on this crash course towards something mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, nothing-short-of-amazing. 

But maybe I am still a tad naive. Maybe that hasn't been torn out of me yet. Maybe I am living in a fantasy world.... too demented and bleached by a childhood of fairy tales, a youth of angst-filled music & happy-ending romantic comedies.....

I want to believe these things, sugar-coated and sweet to the taste. That honesty is alive and well. That loyalty is a foundation to grow a relationship on. That trust is something to carry carefully in the palm of your hand, and once earned, won't be shoved in the pocket of your pants or to the back of your closet somewhere. 
That all these things are strong enough, on both ends, to last a lifetime. 

I want to reject the seed of doubt, the bitter pill growing in my stomach, that tells me in a quiet whisper (especially at 3am) that I was meant to be alone. That there is no one out there that will deal with my independent, intelligent, kind-hearted self. That I deserve to be broken down. That I am expecting too much. That I am ridiculously naive to have longing for my uncompromise-ables: honesty, loyalty, compassion, affection. That I should just wake up,
             grow up,
                          give up. 

And here's where my "I have hope" attitude would pipe up: "There's always hope" or "Of course you deserve the best and it's out there" or "Don't ever give up". 

And then the sad, broken, tattered, almost-bitter me says: "Shut the fuck up. Give it a rest. Just move on. You have an amazing child, an amazing career, your health, your own home. What the hell makes you think you deserve more? Just shut the hell up."

I am exhausted by this. 

When is enough enough? When do I call it quits?


Less than

It took me one single day to find inspiration in others' writing, and now I have a page full of drafts on this lonely little blog. 

Kris at Pretty All True always writes things that get my mind racing and my heart beating heavy and hard. One of her posts last week just made me ache, more so than I already was. It was so spot on! I felt anguish, frustration, fear, doubt, disappointment as I was reading it...all the things I have been feeling lately anyway. 

Reading it made me feel less alone. 

And then, this comment she left in response to someone's comment: 

" Some of us are less, because we believe ourselves to be less. 
Subjective trumps objective, every time.
Every time."

Silly fear of mine. I've struggled with this for YEARS. This less than

I can't really put my finger on when it began, the origin of my less than. Was it when I didn't get a part in the play freshman year of high school? Was it when I began to be talked about at school, made fun of, ridiculed? Was it when my then-boyfriend slept with someone else on my prom night? Was it when a friend chose drugs over me? 
Or was it later, when my now-ex-husband discussed our pending divorce long before we ever thought of divorce? Or was it when he chose work over time with myself and our daughter, for years? Or was it after the divorce?

I think maybe all those things laid the groundwork for this less than. I think this less than has followed me well into adulthood, gaining strength with other things like lack of self-confidence and fear. 

So here I am. 
Less than. 

Objectively, cognitively, I know I am not less than. I know that I am valuable and priceless and full of worth and power and strength. 

But subjectively? Emotionally? Ah. Such bullshit.

I am less than at work in terms of priorities for my boss. 
I am less than at home in terms of everyone else's drama.
I am less than in my relationship....less important than everything else, everyone else. 
No matter the objective, the words said....I still feel it. I still see it. 
It is a terrible weakness to feel less than....to actually feel and say "I wish I was someone's first choice." 

I don't know why I feel this way. I don't know how it started. But damn if it isn't painful. Because this less than teams up with that doubt and that fear and it's a hell of a weight to carry alone, a hell of a storm to fight alone. 



"I would attempt to capture
…what it feels like to be loved unconditionally...
…what it is to know true contentment."
~Nichole @ In These Small Moments

As a child, unconditional love was my father's smile when he hugged and kissed me good night; the smell of my mother's perfume in the morning; my grandmother's vegatable garden in her backyard; waking up to find my little brother's thin warm body next to mine in bed, surrounded by all of his stuffed animals. 

As a teen, unconditional love was sneaking out of my house to soothe my boyfriend after his father abused him; Friday night football games in the stands, cheering for my best friend; the smell of my secret crush's cologne and the twinkle in his eye as he called me "Dan"; lying on my driveway staring up at the stars, wishing for my future; a single kiss on a playground; a hand on the small of my back as I cried. 

As a wife, unconditional love was home-cooked meals and lying on the couch all day Sunday watching TV under a blanket; compromises; forgiving despite the dread in the pit of my stomach; giving me courage when I didn't want it. 

As a mother, unconditional love is "You are the best mom ever"; waking to her hand reaching for one of mine in her sleep; kisses on the forehead; sweet concern behind her frown as she asks if I am okay when she sees tears in my eyes; full-on belly laughs to the point of losing our breath. 

As a social worker, unconditional love is a guiding hand, comforting words, and helping even though it hurts yourself to the point of tears and fatigue.

Unconditional love is ever-changing, growing and evolving, gaining strength and stature as the years go on. I am overwhelmed by the amount of love I have for my daughter, for the love I feel from a handful of friends that seem to know the exact time to reach out to me, for the surprise of true love in my boyfriend's eyes. 

After the debacle of my separation and divorce, I was unsure of the definition of unconditional love. I had been trained by my ex husband to believe that all love had conditions, that surely I didn't deserve it unless I earned it, by his rules & standards. That it had an expiration date. I watched that love grow hard and then brittle and eventually disappear. And I let others tell me what unconditional love was. Their take on it, their twisted and sad way of justifying the lack of it in their lives. 

I would be lying if I said that unconditional love was pain free. It sucks that this isn't the truth. Oh damn, how it hurts sometimes. Enough to bring me to my knees. It can be sharp and blunt, fierce and timid, brutal and lenient, comforting and lonely. And bad love doesn't always ruin good love, later. Not unless you let it. But then: it lifts me back up, comforts me, and carries me on. 

I am still learning, still experiencing. I feel the ebb and flow of it in my life, rocking me through both the good times and the bad. I still have fear, but I still have faith. I still play it safe, but I continue to take risks. I am fluid and solid, with the love I find, and the love that finds me. 

*This post was inspired by this post by Nichole over at In these Small Moments. The quote at the top is directly from her post. I've had these words locked up inside, not knowing they existed until that sentence unlocked something.*