I pull on my fathers pajamas, the ones I took from his drawer. the catholic cross that he wore when he was a boy I pull over my head, tuck it gently into my heart and I write. The breeze is soft and cool, floating through the open window carrying the chattering of birds. I can hear the squirrels eating the walnuts, and I smell the rain on its way. I miss him, My dad, I miss so much, I miss my heart and I mourn the life I thought I would have, the love that doesn’t exist anymore. I mourn the words I never got to say, like ashes, I blow away into the wind, to become a part of everything.
I don’t want to go back, yet I don’t know how to ever say goodbye. Letting go, release, have always been the toughest lessons for me, ones I have yet to master. I am always haunted by the hopes of the past. This year I think is the year of learning to let those go, of moving on to a new chapter. Within all of us hides pain but learning to face this pain, our past, our fears is the beginning of learning to live without regret. I love this quote it rings so true to me…”sometimes people say you should do the right thing, but sometimes there is no right thing, and you just have to pick the sin your willing to live with”…My sin, the one I carry with me is in loving, you, still….My heart tries to heal, from so much and its a daily struggle but one I think i’m winning. Love is magical like that, there always seem to be an abundance of it, and giving it never stops the flow, it only adds to it.
I have learned to give up control, little by little. Slowly, I laugh, and I leave dirty dishes in the sink, and now forgo vacuuming to instead throw the Frisbee outside for my dog. I eat my leftovers, walk on the squishy grass without shoes, and I don’t argue my point anymore; if someone is to see it, they will do so on their own. I am learning, to let go of my childhood, to love others for who they are, not pushing them to be who I see in them. Control is about fear, about loss of control. In my childhood I had none, so I developed my own. They are heavy, these controls and I don’t want to carry them anymore, so I am taking them and throwing them into the abyss.
“You have wounds that have never healed, you have lived with them so far you don’t even know they are there anymore, Pain has deep roots. The only way to dig it out is through forgiveness”
This Post is dedicated to my tribe of one here in Portland, the Thelma to my Louise, the LaVerne to my Shirley…Nanc-Pants who without I would probably be dirty, real smelly and hanging out under a bridge like an angry troll. I wrote the poem below a few months ago but I kept changing it and adding to it, and probably I still will. I want to touch on our lessons, the lessons of learning that what we give out to the universe, give to others, do for others, we must realize we will not always get the same in return. Humans, we are a hard bunch, the inabilities of some are the strengths of others. Some will never have the kindness, compassion or empathy that we posses, others will never be emotionally mature or available, and still others, will just be, well…assholes. We always have the choice to continue, or to give up. My hope is that giving up is not in our vocabulary, that we don’t let any of our past stop us from living; we all learn to let go of the ghosts that swim in our heads, haunt our hearts and as we look inside we find inner strength and the beauty that lies within. Crazy as we all are sometimes, remember that “there is a fine line between sanity and insanity when it comes to love and war”, and I know this personally. So we get up, brush ourselves off and we go on, we lie to ourselves until it becomes truth; that hollowness will become a lesson, a deep one, this is my promise to you.
HEART IN A BOX
in a box
Loved so fiercely with such force
It broke in two
Pain like ice then fire
This heart in a grave
you who broke me with all your worth
Lovers becoming, become strangers
Screaming in my head
A part of me wanted to start this post as a way to be angry and feel sorry for myself for all of the ways my heart has been broken. But a little breeze fluttered by bringing with it a cosmic nudge that whispered in my ear, “ now would that really be beneficial, would your lessons be apparent that way” well universe, first off F-you, second F-you for being right. So I will instead write about where I made mistakes, about my shortcomings, fuck-ups, screw-ups, where I hurt others, and so in turn hurt my relationships.
Nobody is perfect, though such a perfect statement, such irony; but I will say I have always been honest about my shortcomings, my lessons. I am very aware and perceptive about what I need to work on, where my weak spots are, but that does not necessarily mean that I always face them or that I don’t push others in the forefront to hide mine. I am human and stubborn and many times I screamed that it wasn’t my fault, there were times I didn’t listen, that I didn’t fight fair that I fought to win, that I just wanted to be heard and thus didn’t listen, didn’t learn. I am guilty of all of these things, of saying hurtful things when I was angry, of walking away instead of listening, but I never stopped trying. I never stopped loving, I never quit!! I can honestly say I have never given up on love; I have had two loves in my life, C and D (and I am not lost on the fact that they are in alphabetical order, I mean I am organized so it makes sense), and I gave both of them my all, complete trust and vulnerability.
My first adult love relationship was C, I was 21 and it was Halloween 1996 at the Glendora Lounge. I was out with my friend Andrea, dressed as a sexy nurse since those were the good ole 20 year old days. I will never forget how I walked up to him, gave him my number and asked him to call me sometime. I was so nervous, hands shaking, he was so handsome, and I thought so out of my league. But he just smiled up at me with such a radiant smile and said absolutely. He was beautiful this boy I would love, who I would lose myself so completely in that it would take me 4 years to get back up, gain my strength and be me again. We had so many fun times but we were young and young love never seems to have that lasting stick, it seems to be all about heartbreak and lessons. I married this one though, because I wanted it to be forever and I was 23 so to me that word, forever, was obtainable. At 40, I wonder if there is such a thing, forever love. We were young, passionate, and stubborn and though we loved each other, love it seems is never enough. He cheated, and I was broken, and our story ended. There was of course so much more in the middle of that, crazy fights, lots of tears, emotional roller coaster rides of them but that is another story that I am not yet ready to tell all of.
My second go round with love was 13 years later, it was 2013 and at my friend’s wedding. I danced with D, he was the younger brother of the groom and I knew he was young but honestly I never realized how young until it was too late. I was already so deep, drowning in this one. Love is so relative, its different for everybody and though I loved my ex-husband it was such a young type of obsessive love. This one was different, it felt different, smelled different, it was an all encompassing type of love. It turned out to truly be the hardest love lesson, for I loved him, so completely and fiercely. I loved this one with fire in my veins, and stars in my eyes. I tried so hard to do everything right with him. I had closed myself off for so long from love that when D came around he hit me with such a force that I was knocked off balance, and before I knew it I was love drunk. I miss him, the ache in my chest is still sometimes physical, though it comes less frequently now. With D there was such a karmic connection and understanding so when he left, all three times, I forgave him instantly, for I was him 20 years ago. I have such a deep empathy to him and I could never hate him, he did what he had to do for him. I was angry, and hurt, and I am still both of these things for he broke my heart so completely. Even though I still wish I could have closure, and that the ghost of him would leave my dreams, I will never hate this man. I will forever be unable to say a negative thing about him, for him I will love in a hidden piece of me forever.
This post will be my first official step, of release. There have been many tears shed for this loss, but I still feel so empty in my chest, like I am missing a piece of me that I will never get back. This heartbreak was so different, with C I was so angry, I felt I was owed so much. With D, it is just utter sadness, a loss so hard to bear that it was the first time I have literally been brought to my knees with grief from love. Death of my father did this too but in a different fashion, a different dimension of loss. I am having to learn how to fill the empty parts with other loves, of friends, my dog, and just breathing in love from the universe. When C cheated and I left I felt lost and broken but I was young and had so much still to learn and look forward too. With D I feel like I am shattered, unrepairable, that this was it for me, and I am afraid; afraid I will close myself off, board up my heart this time for good, that I will quit living.
There is a also a freedom when it comes to loss, reaching the bottom. You feel you have nothing left to lose, so you become reckless, free in a dark sense. This freedom I am embracing, along with anger my other friend. We this trio, are ready to jump, to fall, we are giving up in the truest sense our fear. For I have nothing left to fear, and nothing left to give, but I am trying. I am bit by bit, piece by piece, digging myself out. I have found small happiness in the laughter with new friends and co-workers, The antics of my Sage puppy, I think I just cracked a smile, well maybe more of a smirk, and it could be just gas but hey its a start…
I have a story inside of me, all of us do, and it unfolds day by day, piece by piece until that moment we realize we can finally tell it. Some of them are happy, some sad, some angry, and most all of the above. Today my story is about anger, why I have embraced it, and danced with it, and how it has become my fearless partner. Anger allows me to yell and scream, to listen to Pantera and Metallica and just be angry. Playing in my mind is the scene from the movie Legend where Lily is being wooed by darkness, and she is dancing with the dark dress and swaying until the next moment she has merged with her dark partner; as if she has become the dark part of herself, clothed in darkness, surrounded by it, loved by it. Darkness is not always evil, without darkness there can be no light. White is the absence of color, where black is the absorbence of all colors, so in essence darkness is when we have absorbed too much; absorbed all that the world has given us at once and we cannot reflect anything back, instead it has been absorbed within us to become the dark part of ourselves.
Anger is the best friend that keeps you out late, the friend who lets you pull out flowers, kick trash cans, act like as ass and still have your back. Anger is sometimes the fuel that allows us to get up every day and go on, because when we are angry we are not a sobbing, worthless mess. My anger is my best friend at times, and others my worst enemy, but I think that this is true for most people. Working through the steps of anything, grief, addiction, heart break, they all have steps that require us to get angry. To be able and OK with feeling this, allowing it to be beneficial and be a part of our growth factor. That is the choice that we ultimately have.
You see it doesn’t mater how smart, beautiful, or funny we are for we area all trapped inside that box in our heads where we go to hide, to grieve, mourn and scream at our regrets, our fear, our brokenness. We all have that space we hide in, escape to, board our past up in. Some of us stay there, and fall deeper into the abyss. while others crawl out inch by inch. I don’t know what is the defining factor between these two, but strength must be one. A favorite quote of mine is from Jacob’s Ladder, it is one of my favorite movies and I cry every time the part where Louie the chiropractor is fixing Jacob. quoting Eckhart Louie tells Jacob “The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that wont let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they’re not punishing you”, he said “they’re freeing your soul. So if your frightened, of dying and…you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away. But if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth”. This quote means so much more to me as I read it now. I feel so haunted, by ghosts of the past, seeing my life full of devils pulling me apart. Maybe it really is just the universe telling me that I have to let this go. Letting go, release, forgiveness, loving myself, are all also part of my story, all journeys that I have yet to master. I have to move on and realize that in trying to free my soul maybe I am not being torn apart but being freed. We can be afraid and allow our fears to stop us from living, loving, and experiencing life or we can be sad, angry, hurt, grief stricken and deal with these feeling and grow within ourselves. This song is dedicated to those who run from life….”Can you fight the urge to run for another day? You might make it further if you learn to stay”… sometimes the lessons are in the pain, sometimes they are learned by those who stay….
On Thursday August 6, 2015 at 6:02 am my life was forever changed, I wake up to my mother screaming into my phone, “your dad, he just had a heart attack and he died, he died, he is dead”… All of a sudden the world stopped, all of the air was sucked out of the room and it was so quiet, then instantly its glaringly loud and i’m screaming. I didn’t understand, I was half asleep thinking this must be a bad dream. Our reaction to grief is never foretold, I screamed, so loud, I couldn’t stop screaming and soon my landlords were banging on my door. My wails echoing in the dark room, sounds so primal. These sounds are dredged from a place that we cannot fathom or reach except through these times, its a door only death can open. My dad died, he died, I never thought those words would be mine, my dad, he was supposed to live forever.
This year I cannot fathom how much the universe must hate me, it has taken away so much already, and now to take away the one who took care of our family, he was a provider, a father, a husband, and he was the hardest working man I ever knew. The man who every other man in my life will be judged by. It is too much, I do not know how to even begin to go on. It was so sudden this loss, he had just been up visiting me in Portland two weeks before. My heart was already so broken, being left alone in this screwed up city, while I was still grieving the loss of my aunt. Then three months later the universe takes my dad. These kinds of things are too much for me to bear, individually they broke me, collectively they shattered the already broken shards to dust. My heart is broken and I do not know if it will ever be fixed. I want to crawl into the deep underbelly and just stay, but I can’t, I have to be strong for my mom. to help her pick out the pictures and music for his tribute CD, write his obituary, his Eulogy, make a CD of his favorite music to play at his service and take his clothes to the mortuary. I felt so numb watching my mom hang his suit, fold his underclothes, and my first thought was I don’t think he needs underwear mom. Going through all of his drawers, finding that he kept everything, all our pictures, cards, stupid pictures I colored him. Letters from my mom, all the postcards she sent them while they were dating, all his old pictures, he kept everything. I felt so much anger, why he had to be the one that died while my POS brother in jail still got to live, why my other brother got heart surgery and his still beats. Why did my dad have to be the one who’s heart doesn’t. I never got to talk about life with my dad, fix the brokenness of our family, our relationship. The last words my dad spoke to me as he was leaving my house were “don’t be too stressed up here, not like me, its not healthy”. That was it, I hope we said we loved each other but I cannot remember if we did. I regret so much, I wish I had done so many things differently. I worked my entire life trying to make my dad proud. I carried so much with me, trying so hard, grasping for perfection so that he had at least one good kid. On the way home from his funeral I rode back to my parents house with my cousin Jo and her husband Kevin, she told me how proud my dad was of me, how he talked about me all the time, and when I was little he would beam at me, that he loved me. I wish he had told me, I wish I had known all of this, while he was alive. I feel like there is so much I didn’t know, didn’t understand about him, as a man, as a father. I wanted to use this last vacation to connect with him, to talk about the past and fix the broken parts but it didn’t turn out that way. He was so impatient with me, yelling at me, so easily stressed and I will forever have to carry that with me. I remember telling him he was going to give himself a heart attack being so stressed all the time, I will never forget that I said those words to him, like a foretelling. I loved him, I will forever miss him, my life will never be the same again.
Tell your loved ones how much you love them, how much they mean to you, let go of grudges and fear. Live your life, but live it with kindness, empathy, compassion and forgiveness. We really never know when our last breath will be, or the ones we love. In your lifetime what will you leave behind, how will you be remembered. My dad will be remembered for much, and I will hold all of my memories of him close in my heart.
Skip was my first friend, he was much much more than a friend though he became my better than blood brother. Our moms were pregnant with us at the same time so we were destined to be friends, even before we were born. We went to preschool together, grew up together, junior high and high school, first loves and heartbreaks, he taught me how to drive his dads car, an old Ford LTD. He tried to teach me to drive a stick, but that didn’t work out too well . When he died in 2010, I felt both sadness for me and relief for him. I watched him fade, slowly becoming a ghost, the shadow of the healthy man he was to a skeleton who cried in his hospital bed because he couldn’t eat the in-n-out burger and shake I had brought him. I remember vividly breaking down outside his room, so angry that life wasn’t fair, this was not the way our lives were supposed to turn out. We were supposed to be friends till we were old, matching rocking chairs, grumpy and cackling together. But life doesn’t give us what we want, often it just gives us what is, even when its heart wrenching, breaks us, takes away the thing or person we love the most, it sucks so bad sometimes and I still don’t have the answers. It took me almost four years to watch the DVD they gave out of him, I think part of me felt that when I finally did it would mean he was truly gone, that he would never again make me laugh so hard till I peed. I miss him when its warm at night and the sky is full of stars, when I yearn for that friend who knows you better than you know yourself, I miss him often.
I have had a thousand friendships in my life, some came and went like a cool spring breeze, others left like icy winter wind, and a select few stood the test of time and life; Solid foundations that became family. This year I have been working on letting go of guilt, guilt of lost past friends, ones who did me wrong, or ones I had wronged in some way. I couldn’t hold onto that guilt anymore, it was heavy and I couldn’t carry it all. I also found my tribe, the few who stood firmer than others, in my train wreck of a life here in Portland. When I was falling apart here, a few people became my rock, my strength when I had none. The day I broke and took myself to the ER, the day I call falling into the rabbit hole, I had never felt so alone in my entire life, so broken and hopeless. But a small handful of friends (and a great therapist) helped me through this dark time. I am still struggling but without the few who were honest and strong with me I would not be here, I would not have been able to get back up. Love is like that, it loves us even when we are unlovable, it gives us strength when ours is lost, it sees our truth when we lie to ourselves, it hugs us when we just cant get up and it forces us sometimes harshly to get the fuck out of bed and deal with it. I carry a small piece of each of them in my heart, and when I start to falter or shake I hear their voices pushing me on, some louder than others…
My therapist tonight looked sad as I was leaving her office. We had been talking about the pieces of myself that I had grown up learning to hate. I told her of the anxiety and guilt that I had and how so often after going out or hanging out with certain people I would go over and over in my head to make sure I didn’t offend, or talk too much or was too loud and she called that self policing. She told me these thoughts and memories of myself gave her such heaviness and such grief . That she has never seen those things in me, that instead she saw so many beautiful strong funny parts to me that I cannot see, that are instead clouded as negatives causing such sadness in me. She looked like she might cry and in that moment I was filled with such strong emotion. These were words that as I was growing up should have come out of my moms mouth. We should all be told we are special and unique and beautiful. I cant even imagine the kind of person I would have become if I had been told differently growing up. I am proud of who I am, but imagine the strength if I had been taught to love myself instead of hating. For me as a teenager these words instead came from the mouth of my friend Lisa’s mom, Patti P!! She always made me feel special for my “personality”. I will forever cherish that, being loved for who I was, wholeheartedly. I hope that every little girl has a Patti P in her life, that when she is called bossy, intense, loud, or talkative, that there will be another to instead call her strong and passionate and tell her she has depth and to be proud of these qualities. If we were all told to love ourselves from a young age, imagine how the world would be…
The death of me… I feel like I am mourning my life, my past, who I was, it is emotional, this death of self. I wonder how long I will be punished, for my hurt, my pain, my choices. Sometimes I feel the universe pulled the carpet out from under my feet, forcing me to fall. Depression, anxiety, the twins that everybody is afraid to speak of, and the things these two make us do. They are like the bad friends you had in high school who pushed you to smoke, ditch class. These two, they push you to see yourself in their light. Your worthless, you should give up, your a loser and that is why you do not deserve to be loved. Like vampires they feed bit by bit, taking over. Your depth of emotions become theirs and so softly, so lovingly they help you fall. People squirm, look away when mental health is brought up, unless they too are part of this fucked up club. Honesty too is the fucked up lie that we so often hide behind, but the truth is that depression is not being afraid of death, it is the fear of living. Of facing ourselves, our truth, so we give in to this dance with our two best friends and we believe what they are telling us. The loss of hope, the feeling that there is just nothing left to look forward to is heart wrenching. Having to get up everyday wondering… it will just be the same as yesterday and the day before, and the day after. I chopped my hair, I bought angry music, I cry in the shower everyday, I am afraid of never being loved, really deeply, the kind of love that never leaves those are my truths. What are yours….
There is a quote that I love about love, “it is a risk to love… what if it doesn’t work out…ahh but what if it does” being vulnerable sucks, sucks big time, it’s scary and shitty, but being vulnerable opens us up wholeheartedly to be able to absorb, to learn, to experience and in essence to change a little bit of ourselves, it’s growth pure and simple. It’s sad that we have to experience such pain and heartbreak in our lives but without it we maybe we would not cherish the beautiful moments that touch us to the soul, or to be able to connect and empathize with others. Maybe it’s all part of the master plan after all…eh
Letters she never meant to send is a short story I started last June, my second heart break, they say three is the charm so maybe with my third one this May Magic is afoot and this story will come to fruition. This is the first Chapter…
Note: this material is copyrighted and the property of Julie Mathison, no one has permission to take, borrow, copy or paste this anywhere on the web, in their own blog or to pass of as their own writing….04AUG2015
Memories are like ghosts, they haunt us, lingering with the energy we feed them. Often we live in our memories, remembering with sadness, longing, and regret. Our memories are ours and ours alone, differing from truth, in the way we want to remember them. Sometimes our memories are loving, lingering with fondness, sticking to us like honey on our fingers, other times bitter, like dark chicory coffee. Lost, living in the past, remembered as better, better than now, better than what is, better than what we are afraid may come.
She woke with the light slipping through the windows, making odd wavy patterns on the wall like rippling water. She slowly remembered her dream; he was in it again like a veil of moonlight…haunting her. The memory of the dream was both sweet and sad, like the last bite of something you loved. She sighed as she threw the covers back over head, getting up just wasn’t an option yet. She reached up and felt the wetness on her face before she realized she was crying, again. She had to move on, to let go. She knew all of this, a hundred times over, but knowing and doing are two separate demons. She thought about the dream, what was it this time? Longing, regret, sadness, loneliness…or maybe all of the above. She sat up, drying her tears, a thought that was slowly coming to light in her head… that his weakness had become her strength.
She got up and rummaged in the old box she kept under the bed, it was full of all of her letters and she knew that letter was in there somewhere. It was time to send it, or burn it. She felt something stir inside her, like fluttering in her chest. There were so many letters in the box, the lost letters that always seemed to magically find their way to her. She didn’t know why, never questioned it, it was just who she was. People always found her, actually their letters always found her. Since she was young people always seemed to feel the magic she carried inside, and they always felt the need to give her their letters, the ones they needed to write, but never meant to send. So she kept them, holding the pain, heartbreak, anger, need, and love these letters were filled with. She never read them; she always put them in the beat up box she kept under her bed.
Today she realized she needed to release them, burn them and bury the ashes under the curly willow tree she had loved for years. She had brought the tree back after her short but beautifully happy time in the forest, it was a scraggly sapling when she carted it home and she had loved it into the magnificent tree it now was. She slowly withdrew the first letter, it was written on pink flowery paper. She remembered the sad broken hearted girl who she had sat next to on the bench. The girl looked so lost, clutching a crumpled letter; it was wet from the tears dripping down her chin. She felt such sadness radiating from the girl and wanted so badly to tell her it would get better, that the pain would fade and float away, a tiny bit each day. But she knew she couldn’t, so she just quietly sat next to the girl, watching the crows land on the trees. After a few moments the girl looked up and she felt physical recoil at the emptiness that she saw in those eyes, only a broken heart could feel this empty, this lonely, and she understood that. Slowly she took the letter that the girl let drop on the ground. “Don’t worry” she said, “I’ll find the right place to put this”. The girl had gotten up, turned and looked like she was trying to say something, thank you maybe, but she just sighed, and started to tremble as she walked away.
The letter was so sad:
My heart aches today, not every day, but today I can’t catch my breath. I lay here and cry, how pathetic this is. How I allow you the power still, to hurt me. How can a single moment, a single heartbeat change your whole world. How can you love someone one moment, then not the next? I cannot understand this, why do I lie to my own heart. I just wanted to see you, one last time, why could you not grant me this. After all you had done, I deserved for you to at least face me. It makes me think you really are a coward when it comes to love, to life; living your life afraid, of rejection. I am so very proud of my own heart, never letting fear cloud its ability to love. I love fiercely, passionately and without abandon. I am not sorry I loved you, but I am sorry you didn’t deserve it.
I miss you today, not everyday…But today, today I’m thinking about how you smelled, kissing you, your touch. I can’t hold onto your image in my head. I’m trying not to be angry, trying so hard to not hate you but sometimes I fail. Most days I am fine, I’m moving on. But there are still those days, like today where I just couldn’t get out of bed, where the sadness that lurks beneath takes over, but In the end I’ve found pieces of myself, pieces I thought were lost”
This one especially hit home, she knew that feeling all too well, emptiness was her best friend these days, lurking everywhere. She walked to the fire pit that came with the house; it was a beautiful fire pit with a bronze lid filled with carvings of the moon, stars and the sun. She sat under her willow tree holding the letter. She felt all of the pain and heart ache from the letter fade and float back into the void, then she burned it in the pit, left the ashes and went back to read another.
Our heads are full of ghosts…we are often haunted by what we were never able to say, never able to experience, the places we never went, the people we never loved, most often the people we did. It’s never until something or someone is gone that we realize what we took for granted. The small things, those inconsequential moments of a single touch, a smile, a hand on your back, lips on your neck, the touch that radiated such warmth when you would reach for me in the middle of the night. It’s these moments that end up as ghosts haunting us, in our dreams, our memories. I remember your face, like a million different pictures in my head. Fear that one day I will wake and not remember, and then you’ll be gone, forever… from my head, from my heart. I could pick you out of a darkened room, your smell, your touch. Love given freely is a gift, but the greatest thing about love is that in giving it we are learning our own lesson, it’s a beautiful circle of truth. Welcome to my realm, blacktreerealm…
“There is always a fated quality about falling in love, but if you are lucky enough to find that person, do not allow fears to get in the way”