Poem: The Street Lamp


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The street lamp

seeps

through the jail slit blinds

while I lay wide-eyed

remembering

trying to sleep

It lights my thoughts

the moment when you

got on your knees and begged me to stay

when I played the now dead song:

“I Will Always Love You”

(which wasn’t true)

Laying on the lamp-lit bed

even with lavender soaked eye-pads

I cannot escape

the path of memories

illumination

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town


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Sometimes I wonder how pathetic I am.

Today there was a post on my Instagram account (if anyone wants it, please just let me know) from one of my friends who is hiking the Appalachian Trail. Very cool. The AT goes very near where I grew up in Connecticut. A lovely little town in the NW region…a very little town.

It got me reminiscing. I honestly have way too much time on my hands these days, because when I get in one of these moods, I can really get on the track of things. First I went on Google. That came up with some pretty typical stuff: the town page and all. I wasn’t too surprised to find that one of my Ex’s was listed as a prominent figure on the list of ‘important’ figures in the town. The town sexton actually. I had to look that one up: a sexton. In this case, they may be referring to taking care of the town?

I had contacted him a number of years ago as part of a healing process. We were married very many years ago (and divorced). He was very glad to hear from me (thank goodness), which isn’t totally surprising as he was really a very nice man. He still lives in this beautiful town in the family home. Cool.

After the Google search, I decided to dive further and went to YouTube. This was where I hit gold. There was a video of the town, apparently one of many (all the others to be found in the town library), that actually was a bit of a historical and present day visit to it. The best part was that it had actual footage of my Ex!! There he was making maple syrup, just like his Dad did many, many years ago.

It kind of hit me (this is where it gets pathetic I suppose), how life goes. I remember going out on freezing nights and checking the temperature of the sap to make sure it didn’t burn. And I think to now: what an amazing gift to still be participating. It’s just the kind of life I envision–we had envisioned long ago. What happened?

I look back on so much of my life and wonder about it. How a part of me must have known that some of the people I picked were right, but then I couldn’t see far enough to stick with it. What was it in me that didn’t have the ability to stay?

And now I’m simply so jumbled about it all to even want to step into it all again. It all felt so much simpler when I was young. Looking at someone and thinking you could be with them. But when I was actually there–I always seemed to see something else.

Now I don’t know what I see these days.

It’s so easy to get lost in these fields of that little town; in the hope and the green and sounds of the stream. Is it all just something from long ago? Or will I someday walk again in a place and feel something is right?

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Poem Art: Elusive


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I had a conversation today with a person who played a prominent role in my past. He said something that triggered a visceral, and for me, odd reaction. It was odd, because it surprised me, that I could feel such a ‘gut’ feeling (like I had been punched in the gut) to a very simple thing this person said in a perfectly normal conversation. It wasn’t like we had delved into the past or were reminiscing… and yet, the comment, in a sense, was about the past, because it referenced a place we had shared together.

This moment touched off many thoughts in me. Like what constitutes relationships and ‘falling in love’ with someone? And is love even the right way to approach a relationship? Should it be more about wanting or needing something–for yourself; in others?

Certainly at my age, love seems a far cry from where I am these days. My relationships with people close to me seem to be based on things much more involved than love. Things that seem even more important and lasting than love if that makes any sense. The things that keep people together–the glue.

Those of you that have lasting relationships of any kind know what I mean here, so I won’t explain what I am talking about. Love can be fleeting and fickle and hard to get a grasp on. But we can still build strong, solid and meaningful bonds even after the love may turn into something strange or convoluted. Or maybe if the ‘love’ was strange from the start.

So can I re-evaluate life and how to live it more openly? To be open to a different way to to be with someone if love isn’t the defining point? It’s another perspective really, but not unfamiliar. It’s a theme that has repeated in my life.

What is the ‘want’ then…or the ‘need’? These become the hard questions to ask. Because simply hoping to exchange love with someone, I feel, is not where I should place my hope.

It seems it should be in far more reliable, tangible and maybe simple things that will help to grow a connection with someone else; things that will ultimately not vanish, just in case the love remains elusive.

 

Almost


Before me I stand on the brink of a three day weekend. Ahhhh. Today a lovely co-worker said some kind and thoughtful words to me–unusual in that cold and harsh world. Most days the words are indifferent at best and rude at worst. But a small miracle happened today and someone showed kindness.

I already went out tonight to eat with Mom and her friend. For some reason I can’t seem to slim down the way I had hoped here in the warm weather. My old bones and busy days seem to keep my athletics low key, therefore the pounds on. Dinner out doesn’t help. But it was a nice visit.

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Tomorrow, if I get the nerve, I may visit a Buddhist monastery/teaching center. It’s an open house so a good day to go. I need to see what it’s all about and find some different folks.

Then who knows….anything may happen. Or not.

On a strange note: my oldest told me that an ex-boyfriend of hers has been taken into custody for murder. Quite disturbing and creepy, but honestly not surprising. We all knew him at a challenging time in her life and found him to be a very troubled young man. Family issues and other grave problems have most likely landed him in this place.

That was a time when I kept him close to me so I would have my daughter close, while knowing it was like feeding a wild lion. But I felt I had no choice at the time–do that, or lose my kid. I gambled. Luckily I won, but I see now by this news how close I came to losing.

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Looming Large


Looming large is my trip to Colorado to see my oldest daughter graduate from college. It’s next week and with it brings mixed feelings. This is a huge milestone for a kid that suffered many troubles in the not distant past. She fought some major demons and won, becoming an honor student while working full-time to boot. These difficult years has made for a rather estranged relationship between us, but it’s slowly healing.

With the visit comes anxiety on multiple levels. First off, I’m not a great traveler. I hate leaving my pets and home, even though I trust my neighbor and dog watcher implicitly. We also have a new puppy arriving the Saturday we’ll be gone. Long story, but I agreed to let my youngest daughter have her own pet. It was supposed to come this Saturday, but unforeseen circumstances happened and it changed. That makes me even more nervous. Plus a change in routine whacks out my OCD nature. The fear of missing workouts or being uncomfortable in new surroundings is always daunting for me.

And then there’s the odd fact that I will be traveling with my ex and his wife. My two daughters will be going also as buffers, but it still feels strange. The whole family, but different. It’s been many years since the divorce, but hard feelings still seem to swirl under the surface for my ex, occasionally popping up now and again. His wife and I do OK, but as traveling buddies could be another story. Plus flying has simply never been my thing. If I was a bird, then I would be fine with it, but now, with all the fuss that comes with air travel, I would rather walk.

Finally, there is the actual relationship with my oldest daughter. I haven’t seen her for some time, and we rarely communicate. When we do, it’s usually because she wants or needs something from me. It’s not the way I would want things, but I take what I can. I’m suppose to be staying in her apartment, everyone else in a hotel. This could end in disaster or a miracle. She is often critical and harsh, so I’m preparing myself for the worse and hoping for the best.

I’m still a proud Mama. Not just that she will be graduating college, but with how she pulled herself out of the quicksand of addiction to move onto the shores of solid and fruitful life. She is not perfect, nor am I. But together we continue to try to carve out our love for each other. Hopefully someday it will be luscious and sweet.

So I will take a deep breath, venture forth and hope it all turns out as well as her life is doing now.

Chillin’


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As I age at two years shy of 60, my athletic prowess and drive seems to dim on a yearly basis. I was on the treadmill this morning and I began to wonder if age wasn’t the only factor that may affect one’s ability as we get on in years. My youngest daughter told me that my ex husband (who is 5 years younger mind you) just went on some winter hiking trip. I was pretty impressed.

He also still does some pretty hefty running races, bikes for miles and miles, did a few triathlons last year. While me, well, I didn’t get on my bike last year. And my desire to run and really waned. I walk/jog now. It just hurts too much. I seem to like quieter and easier things.

But I thought about some of the people I know that still have the drive; thought about the differences in lifestyles between them and me. My ex for instance is a software engineer. He makes big bucks, has a cushy job, big house, goes on lots of vacations, a wife and a nice lifestyle.

As a paramedic, I’ve never made great money. My hours are long, the stress is high, the work is physically and emotionally demanding. It has been for almost 20 years. While there are occasionally some sweet moments, they are honestly rare. I take few vacations, partly because money is tight, but also because of logistics where I work and the commitment I feel for my job and community. I live alone, so the burden of my household falls on me too.

It made me wonder the toll this has taken on me and my body and my psyche. How has this ground me down over the years? Coming home now I feel no great desire to rush out and go for a 3-5 mile run anymore like the old days. I work out before work, but even that is tough. I get up at 4:45 am in order to do my workouts and never miss a day. But they are much more mellow.

I’ve always noted that a triathlete’s lifestyle is one of luxury. One can hardly be a pauper and have the time, resources or money for races to be able to participate. It takes so much training and equipment even just to play at it! And every year it gets more specialized and commercialized with someone waiting to rip off the uninitiated.

Back in the day a race cost $5.00 or 10.00 for a running race and maybe $25.00 for a triathlon. Now you need to take out a loan! It’s nuts. I don’t even go anymore. Who needs another T-shirt and an orange just for the privilege to run 3.1 miles? No thanks–I’ll just do it on my own!

So maybe my body, my lifestyle, my poverty is all just rebelling against what I used to find so important. Those endorphins coursing through my body in massive amounts just seemed so necessary to my survival. Now I would rather sit quietly and see if I can meditate for more that 10 minutes.

As my whole life seems to move more and more towards less and less, it seems this is true even in the physical realm of my life. I once considered myself quite the adrenalin junkie. Not that I would say I’m in bad shape for an old lady, but I’m quite content now taking it all a bit more slowly.

 

Friends and Perspective


Happily I had a dear friend visiting this weekend with her daughter. Well, honestly, she’s really family to me as we’ve known each other for like 33 years or so and she was 11 when I first met her. She is my ex-sister in law, but more like a sister/daughter and surely a best friend. Her daughter is the age when she first came to live with me and my ex-husband.

It was many years ago and much has passed…for both of us. Divorces, children, jobs, moves, heartaches. Through it all, our love has remained strong. There were years where others tried to keep us apart, but we found each other through it all–and like all good friends, picked up without skipping a beat.

Our laughter together is the kind that comes with tears and a bellyache because it comes with things remembered. The ‘you had to be there’ stuff that others just look at us like we’re nuts. But we know how hysterical the stuff was because we lived it. I always said, she and her brother were the reason I was meant to be married to that husband. They saved me during those times. And she continues to save me.

Of course, we talk like old friends do. About everything. I can tell her everything that’s going on with me, and she me. Especially the hard stuff, and there’s been a lot for both of us, but especially for her. She’s made some particularly brave moves in the last year. But sometimes it’s hard for us to see for ourselves the amazing accomplishments we’ve done for ourselves. How we have disentangled ourselves from bad relationships, stood up for what is right, raised wise and wonderful children, held down steady jobs and simply survived despite pasts that didn’t give many role models. Sometimes we are so muddled down in the difficultly of the day-to-day and the pain of life that we forget just how far we have come.

But then we see an old friend and they say one thing and it puts it all into perspective for us. My friend said to me last night as we sat around a little campfire I made….”you seem so at peace now”. And I thought: why yes, I am. I knew I was moving in that direction, but her saying it made me know I am there. It gave it validity because as another friend of mine has said “she knows me AND she loves me”. She has seen me through so much, my un-peaceful times, my hardships, my discontent, my fear, my disillusionment. Over 33 years of it. So for her to say she sees me at peace…well that says a lot!

Now I am helping her to get there. Because that’s what friends do. She still has a way to go. There are still some demons standing in the way. But together we can battle her fear. And her little girl is so wise and strong too! We are warrior women. We circle together and give each other strength. Love, laughter and perspective is the gift we give each to one another. And there are no more precious things to give.

Guilt Fairy


It has been very rainy and foggy here lately. With bouts of thunderstorms. I’d imagine it’s the crazy weather system that brought the awful tornadoes that killed so many and caused such havoc in the mid-west. This weather tends to make people edgy after a while I’ve found. They start becoming cranky and irritable. When the sun doesn’t shine for long periods of time, sunny dispositions disappear.

I’ve been having some pretty grave struggles with my ex. For many years now, I’ve put on a brave face and gone along like a good soldier and done my best to get along. I truly wanted no trouble and felt badly that I had left, so only wanted happiness for him and productive co-parenting. I’ve even tried hard with his new wife. I suppose I’m naive and figure that eventually people will move on and forgive once their lives become whole again. And that most people might try to see the best in others. But maybe this just can’t be so…or maybe it’s just the rain.

So I have finally gotten to a point where I will no longer tolerate disrespect or bullying–even if it is disguised with smiles and other tactics that mask someone who pretending to be mature. In actuality the behavior is often wavering between passive aggressive to downright mean. And so many conversations slip back to the past instead of sticking to whatever issue is at hand and the seething anger comes boiling to the top. All I feel is: get over it! It’s been years. I mean seriously.

I simply cannot fathom how someone can continue to be so blind to the things they do and say to someone and refuse to apologize. How everything is always justified when they do it, but terrible awful when you do something they perceive is bad.  “Blamers”–a term my friend coined. Very apt to this kind of person. And I will no longer fall as bait. I blamed myself for too long as I heard the voices in my head say I was bad for what I did. His voice was certainly in there. But no longer! The past is over and nothing can change it. I’ve tried to explain to him that we can only make today right, but apparently he doesn’t get it.

Even the sunshine doesn’t seem to help this situation. But I can’t hold this on my shoulders any longer. It’s been too great a burden. It had weighed me down and kept me from loving. Loving myself and being at peace. All we really have is today. The past is gone and we have no idea what tomorrow may bring. Cliche, but true. So no more wallowing in what I did or didn’t do and no-one can make me re-visit it anymore. My Mother used to say: chase the guilt fairy away. And so I have!

Bring on the sun!

 

 

Bleeding Heart


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Some time ago I read an article about women my age going through a realization point. It said basically that by our ‘past middle age’ crone point, we have realized that we can stop trying to please everyone else and that we can begin concentrating on ourselves and what might us happy. Over the past year or so, and certainly since my awful car accident, this certainly has been the case with me.

I probably started this process way before this when I began to realize that not everyone had to be my friend. When I was much younger, I was the type of person that seemed to gather every soul to me.  It was important to me to be nice to everybody possible and befriend all types and listen endlessly to their stories. This, obviously, can be a huge energy drain as most people don’t usually give back what they take.

Over the years I began to realize that I didn’t need to have a million friends in order to be OK, so instead only kept the ones close to me that provided quality friendship back. This was a huge step, but so uplifting. But I was still really a ‘pleaser’ in many ways. At work I gave almost everyone a holiday gift, no matter how many co-workers I had. And I used to send about 60 gifts around the country at holiday time too! No, I did not get that many back.

In my marriages/relationships I think I tried too hard and expected too much in return and therefore was always disappointed. That’s why they all failed. And, of course, I gave and gave to my three daughters also as a mother should. When one is by nature a giving person, it’s hard not to be in every role we play: wife, friend, co-worker, employee….whatever we do.

But in this role, it is easy for others to take advantage of one’s good nature. And this has happened too often to me. I have been hurt more times than I can count: by friends, bosses, husbands, boyfriends and now my kids. And it’s to the point now where my heart bleeds.

I am much, much older now. And I have been through a lot. My business as a paramedic also has slammed home the importance of living life to the fullest and reaping the most joy from one’s OWN life that you can. When one is spending time trying to please someone else all the time, you lose yourself in the meantime. And before you know it: poof, your life is gone.

The really sad part too is that many of the people who expect me now to continue to ‘yes’ them (like my kids or ex-husband) are incredibly disrespectful of me! They, apparently, have become so accustomed to me simply putting my own feelings aside, that this new woman they face has turned them into mean and rude people themselves. They do not like me having an opinion or a feeling that doesn’t agree with what they want, or for me to say NO. They don’t like me finally standing up for myself. They feel I’m too ’emotional’.

I am very conflicted though, don’t get me wrong. Two of my kids aren’t talking to me right now because I’m standing my ground. And my ex and I aren’t either (no great loss there). But I will no longer tolerate rudeness or disrespect. I’m not at work either from my boss. Even my mother said something hurtful and I told her. She got very angry and yelled endlessly. It was amazing! It was scary to me to tell my mother I wouldn’t accept behavior from her!

So I guess people don’t like to see change in someone. I’ve tried to remain calm as they all rage around me. Maybe I’ll end up with no family or friends? I have no idea. But I feel inner peace now. It seems the whole world would rather fight and rage and everyone has forgotten to communicate. I have tried speaking calmly to all that fight with me. It’s funny but my middle daughter told me a man who lived here with me said that I was hard to live with after he moved out. This coming from a man who yelled every time there was a discussion about anything! And who continues to stalk me on my blog.

Maybe I will never understand people. Or maybe they will never understand me. I surely hope my daughters come around and get it someday before I’m too old. My mom and I just avoid everything and so it will remain. But I do know I will continue to stand up for myself. It feels right now. I have only myself now to please. If I don’t do it, no-one else will.

Unfinished Resentment


A couple of pretty sad things happened to me over the weekend and I’m not sure quite how to absorb them. They are related I suppose, so maybe it’s really only one thing. I was speaking with my ex-husband about our middle daughter taking an LNA class and the possibility of him helping her pay for it. He has been more than generous contributing to our other two kids and their schools, ventures, life etc. It’s a long story but suffice to say before I knew it the conversation became about how he felt I haven’t been a good mother.

While I was unprepared for this statement during this particular conversation, I had known deep down he had felt this way for some time. While he masquerades with proper manners most times and a controlled temper, underneath I know has been an unfinished resentment and unforgiving heart. Sometimes words are said that make it known how he truly feels and his anger bubbles to the top.

It’s been over a decade since our divorce, and even though I wanted it, it seems to me plenty of time for us both to have moved on. He has since remarried (I have not), has a lovely huge home (I do not), a job where he makes large amounts of money (I do not), a partner that is extremely devoted to him (I do not) and pretty much everything going his way (often I do not). I have never once resented anything he has, and in fact, been happy that he is happy. Or at least thought he was so.

But the huge, burning disdain for me and my ability to care for our children, made it clear to me that either he isn’t happy with his life now or he is simply someone who can just never move on and live in the present. I personally cannot live being that way. Letting something like this eat you up inside. It’s self destructive.

I’ve never claimed to be mother of the year–and I’ve apologized for the mistakes I’ve made to him and for hurting him. But he never accepted it. What more could I do? I was not happy and we weren’t right for each other. I see that more than ever now! We have two very different hearts. But what really saddens me is that my oldest daughter seems to be rather like him and feel the same way about me as he does.

Whether she has come to this conclusion on her own or was influenced by what he feels, I do not know. But words that were said to me yesterday were some of the most hurtful words that I have heard in my lifetime. It’s hard to believe that one we raise from a tiny baby could utter things so cruel and not understand how deeply they cut.

But apparently they both feel the need to place blame and I am the focal point. I have thought about it all day. It makes one feel very lonely indeed. A family is a place where one is supposed to feel safe, accepted for who we are, where we can make mistakes and not have them thrown in our faces for the rest of our lives. And when these things don’t happen we feel shame, depression, isolation and even self-loathing at times.

Luckily I have two other daughters that are mostly OK with me. They know I’m not perfect and that maybe we don’t have the greatest relationship in the world. But they accept I did and am doing the best I can. And I have friends that are helping me through this too. They are giving me perspective. And luckily I’m pretty strong and in a time in my life where I am feeling OK about who I am. I understand that our past shapes who we are and how we may handle our lives.

Maybe my mothering style was poor. Maybe I made a lousy wife. I own both those things. But they are both mostly in the past. My kids are young adults now. They don’t need as much mothering. And I wasn’t such a bad mother as I know are out there. I had my faults like any, but I wasn’t nearly as crazy as my daughter made me sound! And as for my ex, well, they both have selective remembering. It is very interesting what I recall about the past and the things he did ‘wrong’ while we were divorced. Or what he is still continuing to do wrong now! But we pick our battles. And I look at the overall. I would never say he is a bad father because he is not. Is he perfect? No. But who is? The kids love him and he’s there for them. And I would never turn them against him.

I have no idea how I will get those words out of my head: I am bad mother. It haunts me because I have always felt like I could have done better. It was my Achilles heel and he shot an arrow right into it. And then my daughter put salt into it. I will keep trying to breathe, stay calm and do the best I can. For now I can avoid speaking with my ex. And hope one day my daughter has children of her own so she may understand what I am feeling after all this. Should that day ever come, I pray they only say kind words to her.