I’m Tired-10 Minute Poem Challenge

I am too tired to write

Too sad to care

Thinking that this life is unfair

But in reality

It is you

Going as far as you dare

Give an inch

Take a mile

A step beneath that smile

One lie too many

Another in the distance

Waiting for another place

And time in which to use it

I try to trust

Do my best to believe

But how can I

When you seek to deceive?

It is all in innocence

A misunderstanding at best

An erasure here

Your number there

Where it does not belong

To your sister

Who looks to betray

At every chance she gets

Like your Mother

She knows no boundaries

Like the ones you try to put on me

And the ones that she will never see

For you never insist

On a hard reality with her

The intimacy you have shared with sis

Long talks that should have been mine

And now a conversation with her

Vanished in thin air

Off you telephone

Were you talking of Viet Nam

Of the love that you found there

But cannot find here

About a woman who met all your desires

But only in your dreams

She seems so real, so true

So worth the $20,000

A bought and paid soulmate for you

That second family you wanted

One here

One there

Is she the woman for you?

Why don’t you take your sister there

And let her choose for you

It would be an easy choice

Because you know who she would pick

So fly away…

For you already have

And she is waiting to meet

The two of you

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Marine Layer-10 Minute Poem Challenge

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The Marine Layer

Sleeps out past the shore

Creating a demarcation

Where the horizon meets the sea

It is a layer of dense, still clouds

Which lay alongside each other

In protective layers

Like you and me

Bonded together in the same place

At the same time

With an invisible line

That keeps us

One from the other

 

Dark and gloomy

You are and will ever be

Waiting for the darkness of night

When you can come

Back to the land

Unnoticed and unseen

Except for me

Waiting in a life raft

To pull you out of yourself….

And your self-imposed middle-aged crisis

 

Alas, I cannot reach you

Because the glow from the prism

Of the lighthouse

Is extinguished

Leaving a rudderless craft

Which bangs against the sharp rocks

Of your soul

A piece of you

That wants to see my boat

Splinter into a thousand wooden toothpicks

So that I drown in the light-less waters

Of your silent cruelty

Which wants to live alone

Or just without me

 

Veterans of War

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Last night I eyed the little old man sitting across from me in the Taco Bell. He was wearing a WWII veteran cap full of medals and although almost ancient he sat ramrod straight as if an officer might call him out for sloppy posture. In his hand was a Sudoku book and he was busy placing the numbers when he wasn’t looking around the place. Suddenly, he looked directly at me, his shiny blue eyes piercing my soul and gave me a smile that warmed my breaking heart. Then he went back to his game.

I had come to Taco Bell after sitting alone at a table in a restaurant waiting for my fellow book lovers to show up for our annual party and book exchange. As I waited tears would well up as I thought about the previous evening when B and I decided to divorce after I realized there was no hope that his feelings for me would ever change. I was devastated and contemplating life alone or, God forbid, someday dating.

Sitting there in a room full of strangers I felt more alone than I have in my entire life. Crazy thoughts of “my family would be better off without me than putting them through this ” circulated around in my brain, and although I knew I would never act upon them, tears leaked silently as I contemplated how my 30+ year marriage had reached such a gut-wrenching low. As I scanned the email to ensure I was at the right place I realized I was a week early and decided I needed to escape all the holiday merriment going on around me. That is how I ended up at the Taco Bell across the street.

I watched the old veteran for several minutes. He looked happy yet I felt a sense of loneliness cradling his well-worn soul. I decided to take a chance and invite myself to dinner. When I asked if I could join him he looked delighted. He introduced himself.

“Ken?” I asked, wishing that my soon-to-be hearing aids had arrived.

“No Kent,” came the reply. “Like Clark Kent, superhero, although I am afraid the red suit would look a little wrinkly at my age.”

We both chuckled.

Kent was 92. He had been married to Doris for 65 years and she had died four years ago. They used to come to Taco Bell and sit across from one another enjoying each other’s company while playing Sudoku. He missed her and the life they had built together.

“What is my purpose here?” he asked me soon after introductions were made. “I just want to know why I am still here and what am I supposed to do with the rest of my life. I have no clue.”

“Well, that is obvious,” I replied. “You are suppose to be sitting here eating dinner with a sad middle-aged woman and telling me the story of your life.”

And so he did. He spoke of being too young to join the war when the United States was attacked on December 7, 1941, and how two years later, on December 7, 1943, the principal of the school told all the young men that he would grant them their diplomas, a semester shy of graduation, if they would only go and serve their country. Being the good All-American boy that he was; Kent went and signed up that day.

When he went home to tell his father, a WWI veteran that he enlisted; his father told him that he would regret it, but he didn’t believe him until his first Christmas far away from home, with guns firing in the distance, with regrets that flew fast and furious like bullets around his head. On that wintry night narrowly escaping death he realized his old man was right after all. He just wanted to be home.

“When staring death in the eye, men act in three different ways. There are those who want to flee, those who cry, and those who pray. I was one of the later but if I am honest there were times I experienced all three as I fought in the Pacific,” he explained.

Kent still marveled at his first airplane ride and laughed as he re-counted his complete and utter embarrassment at getting air sick and throwing up in a hat in front of the pilot. He talked about endless days at sea and wondering if their big boat would be someone’s prize target. And he narrated the story of a fellow veteran who was in the Merchant Marine, whose ship was stopped by the Japanese, after delivering supplies to the troops. For an entire hour the enemy shined a light on the American boat until turning off the light and slipping into the night.

“Why didn’t they kill us?” his friend asked the commander.

“We were high in the water so they knew we didn’t have any supplies and they didn’t want to waste their ammo on us. They just wanted to give us a bit of a scare,” came the reply.

Eventually, Kent ended up in Saipan surrounded by water and the Japanese. He recalled how the enemy would slip into camp and night with a wire garrote and strangle an unsuspecting solider and how they learned to walk with their back to the huts so no one could attack them from behind. But by far the saddest day of the war for Kent was the day a plane load of soldiers were flying home soon after the war had ended. As the plane took off over the base personnel could hear the sputtering of the plane and watched as soldiers tried to parachute to safety only to hit the roofs of the buildings because there was not enough time for their chutes to open.  The ones who didn’t jump drown as the plane went down.

“A whole plane load of boys who had survived the war and were jubilant to be going home only to die as they were taking off. It never made sense to me,” Kent said with a far-away look in his eyes.

We spent two hours talking about the mundane: weather, walnuts (he was a farmer) and dogs and important topics like war and marriage.

When asked how he stayed married for 65  years he offered this advice:

“You wake up every morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself that come hell or high water, and am going to love this person no matter what. When you get to be my age you realize you just don’t remember those bad days but you do remember the good and the good far outnumber the bad anyway. Why hang onto bad feelings when you don’t have to?”

I told him my story. Married 30+ years, six kids, travel, building houses together and multiple moves to a man I had adored until he no longer adored me and did everything in his power to try to get me to leave. The night before, I had read him what he had written a year ago about how he loved to feel my touch and how much it meant to him. When I asked if he still felt that way he said, “No I don’t…. I’m just being honest”  which is his newest mantra. It was then I knew that it was time to end, what had been for the most part, the happiest years of my life with the person I adored most in the world. This veteran of marriage was being discharged.

“That husband of yours must be crazy,” Kent said quietly as he leaned forward and looked into my eyes. “Too bad he doesn’t realize that he’s got a good woman if she comes up and invites an old man to dinner. My wife used to do that too. Believe me when you are my age you are lonely and you appreciate someone taking the time to show you a little love and concern. But don’t worry, a nice good-looking gal like you will find love again. Just don’t waste your love on someone who doesn’t appreciate it.”

Sometimes it is amazing how God puts someone who we need right in our path when we need them which implants a beautiful facet of multi-colored lights within our soul.Yet, I have found that most of the time it is up to us to seek out for ourselves what it is that we need whether it be companionship, a safe haven or the quite assurance of a hug. For it is in the seeking that we find out what we truly need, that we become confident and brave, and it’s how we realize that we are never alone in this world even though it often feels that way.

Thank you Kent for being my guiding star last night. Your light helped to lead me out of the darkness into a world that is open to possibilities for this old broad. Your purpose in life seems fairly obvious to me…you are a beacon of hope offering your light to those that will take the time to listen.  I can hardly wait to see you next week when we meet for dinner again.  You truly are a great first “date” and you have given hope for the future.

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Roadblocks-10 Minute Poem Challenge

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Sometimes I think

You should be wearing

A florescent orange vest

And hardhat to protect

Your thick head

As you direct our relationship

Through all the roadblocks that you set up

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Your boulders of anger

Stopping the natural flow

Of traffic as we make our way

To the end of the road

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You hold up warnings

Reading: DO NOT ENTER

That push me further beyond

Our agreed upon destination

Creating detours away from

Intimacy, connection, and deep love

Leaving me traveling on an empty road

Towards a dead end

Out in the middle of nowhere

Where I can neither go forward

Nor turnaround

 

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Sometimes I think

You channel

Muhammad Ali

As you bob and weave

Dancing across my heart

Yet coming nowhere near it

Your left hook throwing me back

Against the ropes

Flattened and dazed

Seeing stars and two of you

One, kind and gentle

The other, a brut

Intent on winning

This fight

At all costs

Numb to the pain

That you have caused

And you tease and jab

As I wait for you

To deliver

Your knockout blow

 

Other times I wonder

If you are really a mason

Placing brick on top of brick

Day after day

Building a wall

 

With a hidden gate

That keeps me out

But lets others into

Your inner sanctum

And lets them experience

Your deepest feelings

That you have walled off

From me

But leave you

Standing alone inside

Of your fortress

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And me standing on the other side

Of those immense walls

Of Yours

We both know that

You view me

As the Big Bad Wolf

Huffing and puffing

Until I leap over the wall

Only to be burnt

By the fire in your soul

And your repressed

Anger towards me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Childhood Trauma

Distance

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I thought things were so much better between us but it feels like we are headed downhill once again. The distance between us has re-appeared and it makes us wary, circling one another, both waiting for the other to make the first strike.

The distance between us varies. Right now it feels like a ship off course from its intended destination. Off course because a storm is tossing it about in rough deep seas and as I look out of the window all I can see is gray skies and rolling waves the size of skyscrapers. And the smell sticks to you like wet, moldy grass. But it is the smell of fear that fills the room. Fear of sinking and fear of knowing you can never swim hard enough or fast enough to plant your feet firmly on the ground.

Sometimes I associate this distance with my GGG Grandparent immigrants. That last kiss, that last hug and that last wave knowing that all of it would be the last of everything and everybody you knew and that you would never see those who were left behind again. It feels conflicted…excited at a new chance, scared about what the unknowns were before you, and sad for all you were leaving behind. Sometimes our distance feels deeper than this sort of distance.

Often the distance between us feels like we are across from one another, standing in a sunny meadow. I reach for you and I find I am stuck in concrete and that I cannot move. Sometimes you see me and make your way towards me. Other times you turn your back and walk away.  It feels confusing and leaves a terrible taste in my mouth like dry burnt toast.

And sometimes this distance feels like we are just feet away from each other on a bridge but we both fail to take off our blindfolds so we can see that the other is right in front of us. This is even harder…so close…yet so far apart.

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Best Qualities As A Mother

UPDATE

Since B stated 18 months ago that he might want to divorce we have done a lot to try to save our relationship. This includes a Marriage Encounter weekend, his therapist, my therapist and a joint marriage therapist. I have decreased my yelling to a trickle, have kept the house in good shape and have lost weight. Frankly, things had been improving for close to a year but lately I have noticed that we have been regressing. More grudges, less sex, 66% less dialoging, etc. I am a very intuitive person and I “feel” these changes and recognize them for what they are and lately I have been feeling really anxious about them.

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I have never been an anxious person even when I have had plenty to be anxious about. For 57 years I have kept most of that anxiety stuff swept under the rug. But lately, it has occurred to me that as B distances himself my anxiety rises. It is an uncomfortable place to be. Sometimes it even makes me question my sanity because I tell him I am feeling the distance which he denies but then three weeks later at a therapy session he uses the words and admits that when x happened he distanced himself all the while denying my concerns for the past weeks.  It is a crazy way to live.

BEST QUALITIES

Recently, we had a dialogue question that asked each of us to talk about our partners best qualities as a parent. In the allotted 10 minutes I wrote about 7 qualities that B has that I think make him a great parent.

Now I know in dialogue you are not supposed to judge the other’s response because they are based on “feelings.” And feelings may be factually true or not but the bottom line is that they are what they are. So when B wrote about the qualities he admired that I had as a parent it basically came down to the fact that “I cared for my children.” To say I was hurt that this was the only quality he listed was an understatement.

Everyone cares for their children. You care for your dog. You care whether you have enough toilet paper in the house to last the entire week. Caring for your children really doesn’t get any accolades in my book. It is something we all do… even badgers, skunks and probably even one-cell amoebas.

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So I took this to my therapist. She wanted me to write down what I wished he had said about my good qualities as a parent. Here goes:

  1. I wish he had said that I am good about seeing or initiating those deep soulful and meaningful talks when they need them to boost their confidence, understanding of life or just need to express their concerns. I wish he had said he knew that most of the time they seek me out which shows that they trust my love and advice.
  2. I wish he had said that I love my kids fiercely and deeply and that they know that they can count on that love and can trust me to be there for them forever.
  3. I wish he had said that my children know I believe in them and that I think that they can accomplish whatever it is that they set out to do and that by knowing this it will take them far in life.
  4. I wish he had said that he knows I am their biggest fans and that I cheer them on with encouragement when they are lacking the spunk to make that “final touchdown” in whatever it is they are doing.
  5. I wish he had said I am a “good” parent far more often than a “bad” one and that even when I fail it is not intentional or malicious.
  6. I wish he had said that raising six kids, two of whom have autism, would be a tough job for anyone and that it is amazing I don’t lose it every day.
  7. I wish he had said that my kids had experienced so much of this world thanks to me and that if it was left to him they would not have.
  8. I wish he had said that I try my best to teach them the important things that they will need to navigate their lives now and in the future.
  9. I wish he had said that I am “good enough” parent some of the time (which is okay) and a great parent when it really counts.
  10. I give good hugs.
  11. I wish he had said that I encourage my kids to take risks which creates opportunities for them to believe in themselves.
  12. I wish he had said I am an honest parent in dealing with my kids and all the people we have to deal with because of their interests and their issues and that my honesty helps provide desperately needed clarity.
  13. I just wish he had said I am a good mother and he could not manage without me.

And while this exercise was difficult because I kept wanting to explain or add in the negative to balance it all out, I didn’t because this is my gift to myself and a tribute to who I am as a parent. I don’t NEED B to validate it…but it would have been nice.

Maybe…

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A month ago B told me that he was going to China for 10 days. I wasn’t invited and I was hurt as going to China has become somewhat of an annual pilgrimage for us. Besides, although it is for “business”, in truth, he doesn’t really need to go. His partner can take care of it and B doesn’t speak Mandarin anyway. It is really an excuse to just get away from the daily grind of home, office, family and me I’m afraid.

Then about 10 days ago I asked if B was going anywhere else besides the town he usually goes to because it seemed to me that 10 days in that one spot was unusual. He replied “Oh, I am also going to Taiwan” Really? When did you think you would inform me of this news? Oh, and not with your partner…by yourself. How interesting! Oh its part of your business plan now to tour facilities? So are you really going to do something different because of this knowledge you will acquire? Well no. I didn’t think so.

When I mentioned to B that I was hurt about not getting an invitation to accompany him his reply was that I was taking Gracie to Florida for a diving competition. Really? That’s the best you can come up with? I get to go somewhere with bitchy back-biting diving moms and worry about schedules, practices and hauling around a 12-year-old who has recently decided to get strung out on teenage girl hormones while you have 10 days basically to yourself. Hmmmm. Someone is getting the better end of the deal and it isn’t me.

So I asked B if this was the start of us taking vacations apart from one another. He looked surprised and said no. But I feel like this separateness is saying something in and of itself about us, about him, and about our relationship. It worries me. And so, after much thought on my part,  I told B that I think it is the start of something new for us because I will also be going on vacation alone just like he is. That I need time alone and adventure too.

Now part of me feels guilty about this. The woman who doesn’t value herself enough thinks that perhaps I am not deserving of this time alone. Most mothers don’t get it so why do I need it? The devoted wife thinks…come on…there is a difference between going somewhere on “business ” which B is doing and going just to go which is also what B is doing. There is the financially responsible person in me who says you need to save your money…you have been plenty of places so don’t be a bitch. The weary mother of boys with autism and a marriage that is still mending says…go…recharge your battery. Use this as a time of self discovery outside of the usual daily carpooling routine.

And so I am torn. Trying to decide if I am just seeking a kind of perverse tit-for-tat “revenge” for the disappointment I feel at being excluded, if I am trying to make a statement, or if I am looking out for myself in the best possible of ways and giving myself what I need to grow spiritually and emotionally. Maybe a combination of all. And as I contemplate this I am perusing the internet of exotic places…India, the Seychelles, Africa…dreaming of what it would be like to have the freedom and the guts to take a trip for me, myself, and I, with no remorse or guilt on my part. Can I do it? I’m not sure at this point but I think that 18 months of therapy and a marriage that was teetering on the brink might have taught me a few things… the primary one being is that I matter. That my dreams, needs, and thoughts matter and for some foolish reason I let go of that strong confident ball-busting young woman I once was… and that I miss her…a lot… and that I want her back. And I also wonder that if I take a chance… if I just step out and up…if I might find that confident, intelligent and oh-so-sure of herself slightly older  and more colorful woman again somewhere in India because I haven’t yet found her here.

Does going somewhere new and doing something different change you? Does challenging yourself help you grow balls? I’m not sure… but I think I would like to find out and if I do I can only hope that I will bring back so much more than I left with.

 

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Friendship

This morning I had a long overdue coffee date with a wonderful woman. We are about the same age and are both on the road of discovery about ourselves while deciding what we want the second half of our lives to look like. We have a lot in common in many regards and I hope she is on the way to becoming a good friend.

After coffee was over it occurred to me how much I miss having close female friends. Sometimes I miss it so much it feels like a piece of me has been ripped away and left abandoned out on an isolated road. Alone.

Don’t get me wrong I have some wonderful friends. But due to our constant moving or their moving; these women that I cherish and love are scattered throughout the United States. There is N… my been with me forever friend who has seen me through my youthful indiscretions and has nursed me through the past year. There is C who knew me as a teen and with whom I share a birthday. There is L who makes life something to laugh at and enjoy to the fullest even when I am whining like a baby. And there are several other special ladies who I know would be there for me if I picked up the phone. But what I need at this juncture of my life, and what I miss most, are a couple of good girlfriends to go to coffee with every Thursday to catch up on each others lives.

It is hard making friends at my age. It’s an art really. The type of art I have really never possessed in sufficient quantities… because I don’t do acquaintances. I do… “I’ll save your life if you’re in a raging river”… types of friends. I would do anything for them and they would do just about anything for me. These are the plunging off a cliff, Thelma and Louise, kinds of friends.  Frankly, there are not a lot of people I want to risk my life for or go down with at my age. But I am still willing to try to find those kinds of inspiring and fun people and offer them all that I have to give… which is quite a lot.

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There are other reasons I find making friends difficult. Sometimes when you have special needs children with challenges it makes it difficult to make friends. Most people have no clue of all the things you have to do to make your life work. They don’t understand when you have to cancel at the last-minute because of a major meltdown that is occurring ten minutes before you are supposed to meet. And being around others whose children also have challenges can be draining for both people because it seems as if too often you are both drowning at once and just holding on by the thinnest of branches. While things have improved in my household sometimes I feel like past behaviors hold me back because I am unsure when those issues will rear their ugly heads again. It makes me afraid to risk “those” looks and “those” whispers from someone I thought was special only to find that they really aren’t. Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t how my sons with autism feel.

There is also the issue that most women’s lives are so full that they barely have time for the friends they currently have much less making time for someone new in their lives. With old friends you know what you have and how to relate. Most people just don’t have the energy to figure out the quirks of a stranger. And I get all of this. I truly do. But damn, it just means that so many of us are missing out on something that is so good.

But really, I don’t want a lot of friends. I just want a small group of coffee klatching Thursday morning women to hang with. Some 40-60 something gals who won’t try to convert me. Won’t try to change me. And will love me despite all my idiosyncracies.

With all the lonely people out there you would think it wouldn’t be that hard to find but it is. Which makes me thankful for all that I do have in my life. Yet, I am greedy and I want more. Much, much more.

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Homesick

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At 10:00 p.m. the first night I dropped her off at camp I received the call I had been dreading.

“I’m homesick,” sob, sobbing harder, and then louder.

“My roommates didn’t show up.” SOB, tears falling so hard and fast as they hit the phone it sounded like rain hitting the roof.

“You don’t have roommates?”

“Yes, I convinced two other girls to join me.”

“I hate it here!” WAAAAHHHHHHHHH

“Don’t you like the pool?”

“No, its horrible!” Sniff, sniff, sniff

“Are you learning any new skills?”

“N-o, I h-a-te it h-e-r-e” hicup, hicup, hyperventilate.

“Are you wanting me to pick you up?”

“Yes, come immediately!!!!”

“Honey, by the time I would get there it would be 3 a.m. and I just drove home from their today. I can’t do that and I won’t do that!”

WAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

And the longer we talked the worse it got until I finally realized I was in a no-win situation and she would keep this up until Sunday, the battery power on her phone died, or at the very least until the sun rose.

In exasperation I said to my littlest

“Honey, I have to go, so put on your big girl panties and tough it out. Here’s the thing, you have the ability to choose what this weekend will be for you. You can choose to be miserable or you can choose to be happy, to have a great time, learn lots and create a bunch of memories. It’s your choice. Personally, I would choose happy because that is the only REAL choice you have if you want to have a good life. Start practicing making good choices.”

And then I hung up the phone before it got wet as the  salty drops started to splatter around me.