I see myself
I watch from a distance
me, walking away.
I see my body.
I see my hair.
I see my feet.
toward the water.
I shout to myself
come back, wake up
before you wander too far,
before you slip away and
disappear into the waves.
I keep walking forward.
I don’t even look back.
I have never listened to myself.
The Ghost of Past haunts me at night. As I drift off to sleep, I slip into the gentle dreams of an innocent child. Then; charging in with a roar, the Ghost of Past invades my tender fantasies.
He brutally drags me from my warm covers. I scream and fight him, to no avail. He pulls my unwilling frame down dark, twisting corridors; through tormented memories that yet burn, flames blister my skin. A bottomless pit of pain awaits me at the end of the obscure hallway and Past dumps me there on my butt. Sweating from the heat and crying with fear, I fight the numbness that weighs my body down. Cruel paralysis traps me here, in this tortured hallway created by Nightmare.
But wait! What evil ghost is this? Ghost of Shoulda. “Oh Angel,” he moans, “you shoulda done better, if only you had, why didn’t you?” “I did my best!” I scream in his ugly face. “But you still failed!” he says with delight. His hideous voice cuts through my anger and goes straight to my grief.
“You belong to me now and your dreamscapes are mine to wander. My power grows,” he gloats. “Remember that day when I sauntered into your thoughts when you were wide awake?”
“I popped into your head as you showered, and memories rose unbidden. I brought you to your knees and you fell and sobbed as the water went down the drain. Dirty, filthy water swirled around your body and washed the smile from your face.”
I rage at him insanely until I begin to retch. He smiles.
His accomplice, the Ghost of Regret, walks up to us. He approaches slowly because he has all the time in the world at his command. They both roar with laughter as Regret chokes me.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
Keeping his hands around my neck, he sits on my chest. Regret is so heavy.
Blackness surrounds me, tragedies from my past flash across my mind, flash cards from Regret’s Hall of Pain.
Weeping, I am in no shape to fight the Spirit of Guilt, as he steps out from behind the Ghost of Regret, shoving Regret off my chest.
My hero, Guilt does not laugh in my face; he simply sits there with me while I cry. He offers to hold me. I know if I let Guilt put his comforting arms around me, accept his deceitful promise that he can console me, I will be lost. Still, Guilt’s arms entice me. The image of Guilt, holding me close, is seductive. It would be so easy to give up and I could blame Guilt.
Guilt is no stranger to me. He and I have fought to near death (mine of course) and although I can send him away, I cannot annihilate him.
His companion, the Black Cloud of Despair (as always) is right behind him. As I glance over Guilt’s bony shoulder, I see that Despair is getting ready to settle in for the duration. He shakes out his moldy tent and drives the stakes into my heart.
“Hey,” I scream at him, “get the hell out of here! I haven’t given up yet!” Ignoring me, he just continues to settle in, taking the tools of his trade from his abysmal, black bag.
I have never won this battle with Past and Despair is so sure that there will be a place for him in my heart, he just ignores my curses.
Sighing, he declares, “I don’t know why I even bother to pack up and move out, Angel. I know that you never last long without us.” He moans softly and settles down all around me, like a blanket of heavy, gray fog.
I look down at my trembling hand and I see a key. The very key that unlocked the door that Past rushed through. “Damn it!” I shout. “I let them in again; it was me who gave them access to my soul.”
In the distance I see a glowing inferno.
Dragging my ghosts, I struggle, crawling towards the flame. The warmth beckons me, draws me closer. If only I can reach the fire, I will throw myself and these unholy demons into the flames!
I haven’t much strength left, but with a last, gut wrenching expenditure, I reach the funeral pyre. Leaning towards its center, I let the orange and blue flames lick at my hands, blistering my fingers.
At first, the pain feels good and it soothes me with its fiery warmth. I close my eyes, at peace, ready for the final sleep. The last nightmare.
Then a fiercer pain invades my lethal lethargy and terror fills my soul. Here we are again, at the edge of distinction. They have led me to this fiery pit and instead of breaking free, I have, once more, allowed them to motivate my unrelenting descent.
The Wisp of Future taps me on the shoulder. “Excuse me for interrupting your pity party, but I have something you need to see before you end it all.”
I see the Spirit of Hope standing there beside him. Our eyes meet but then Shame slaps my face and I can’t meet Hope’s eyes. Hope stays silent.
Future flashes my children’s faces across my mind. They are standing around my grave, and their faces reflect deep anger. They are crying.
If I give up, my suicide will be their legacy.
It won’t matter to them how long or how hard I have fought this bitter war. All they will see is my defeat and my surrender.
Pulling back from the roaring inferno, I struggle to free myself from my ghoulish companions.
One by one, my demons take their hands off me and my strength returns. They know that for tonight, it’s over. They have lost control.
I wake up shivering and shaking, afraid of tomorrow. My familiar bedroom now surrounds me like grey prison walls. There is no comfort here.
How many nights must I fight this battle, over and over? Why do I fight?
I fight to save my children and my family the torturous pain of my suicide. I fight for the chance to hold my precious grandchildren once more in my arms. To see their smiles, to feel their hugs. To feel the warmth of their untainted love flowing into my cold and weary soul.
I live for the nights when I am not haunted. I live because the Spirit of Hope and I used to walk hand in hand; inseparable; until I let Grief and Guilt tear me away from him. I live because I can see Hope and although he now walks just beyond my reach, he is beckoning to me, pleading with me to believe, to remember, to follow.
I live because I know that if I keep fighting my ghosts, I can catch up to Hope and once more we will laugh and play, dancing together beneath the summer rains.
Until then, I will continue to fight.
I wrote this 17 years ago and reading it with today’s eyes, showed me how far I’ve come, by the grace of God.
I Love You
I love you does not mean that I will accept
your unacceptable behavior.
I love you does not mean that I will allow
you to hurt me emotionally whenever you choose.
I love you does not mean that I will let
you crush my spirit and wound my soul.
I love you does not mean that I will let you tell me
who I am or control my decisions.
I love you does not mean that I will allow you to hurt people I love.
I love you does not mean that I will not walk away from you,
if you do those things.
I have learned through God’s grace, that I can live without you,
but I cannot live without me.
Face the storm outside or the storm inside?
Such a dilemma.
If it was the end of the world
and zombies were at the window,
we would argue over which gun to load
until even the zombies got a headache.
I searched my hometown for a trace of me…but not a whisper remained.
I think I’m having decluttering remorse.
Almost like waking up after a blackout, trying to remember each item I tossed.
“I threw away what last night?”
I don’t really need to item by item remember, because it ALL went.
What was in the last room that I attacked with the rage born from exhaustion and frustration?
Just everything I had thought was important enough to move from house to house, even if I never opened the boxes.
The next day was moving day, and I thought the last room would only take a few hours. Although the anxiety I felt every time I went in there over the past year should have warned me.
It was just a corner filled with boxes. Boxes I hadn’t opened since two houses ago, some hadn’t been opened for twenty years.
I had spent the last three weeks decluttering. Selling and giving away the contents of a ten-room house, cellar and garage.
I was on a roll. How hard could this last corner be?
I had thrown away my wedding heels a few months ago, so I thought I had toughened up.
The contents of several boxes had been scattered for weeks, opened and left, the victim of my confusion. Well, I had no choice now.
Tonight, was my deadline and I dug in, armed with kitchen trash bags. It didn’t take long for me to go downstairs and find the huge, green bags.
I always knew I was a good packer, but I don’t know how I fit so much content into those boxes.
I filled at least six green bags with CD’s and cassettes and that was just the beginning.
Some of the CD’S had been special to me. Our ten-year anniversary by Alabama I had signed, “Then Again…Forever, you and me.” I kept that one.
I had listened to and loved each CD at some time in my past.
As I looked through them, I was overwhelmed by how many there were and I began to grab handfuls, shoving them into the green bags.
So many material things I no longer needed or wanted, but surely my frustration added volume to the trash pile.
I was angry, and I was sad, and I just wanted to be free from stuff. Too much stuff.
Our mind is like a computer and it captures every little thing we have ever done, seen or felt and much of my frustration was because I was replaying those memories as I threw each thing away.
My wedding dress got special treatment. It was 3:00 a.m. and I walked outside and hung it on a tree beside the yard sale.
My neighbor was still outside because she was getting ready to have a yard sale with me, and she said, “You have to take a picture,” and of course, I did. As I took pictures, I realized that I was trying to capture my emotional whirlpool in a snapshot of a wedding dress.
The dress had fit like it was designed for me, draping my tiny hips, and it had made Mum smile, because back then, I seldom wore dresses. As I ran my fingers down the silky dress, I could see her smiling face.
I remembered the day I went shopping for it with my mum and how proud she was that I was marrying such a good man, a man who worked and took care of me and my three kids financially.
She special ordered artificial roses for my corsage and for the wedding, because I was allergic to flowers and I remembered how the florist thoughtlessly sprayed them with rose perfume and I sneezed all day.
I threw the still rosy corsage away too tonight, along with a box of wedding day souvenirs.
We never dreamed thirty-eight years ago it would end this way, my wedding dress hung in a tree for a yard sale, all alone in the dark. Us, living in separate houses. Big ouch.
Couldn’t hold on till morning. Needed to let it go, let it go.
He was here helping me finish up the packing and for the closing, and I couldn’t afford to show any weaknesses in front of him. It was a real test.
His heart was hurting as he saw me throw away our memories.
The picture Mum bought me because she thought it looked like us, my IHRA umbrella and hundreds of presents he had bought me.
I think it hit him hardest when he saw my books start to go. Fifteen house and thirty-eight years, and through it all, he’d been complaining about moving my books. I always found ways to resist his demands to get rid of the damn books, because I loved my books. I had learned that if I carried the boxes in and out of the moving trucks, it wasn’t as bad, but even then, the “weight” it added bothered him.
I usually soothe him when he’s hurting, even if he’s sad because he hurt me, but not anymore. Not anymore. Recovering codependent, yes, I am.
Now, as I rerun the night of the huge declutter through my mind, I am proud and sad and proud.
I let it go, I let it go.
I let it all go so I could move on, move into my twenty-foot Coachmen Nano Apex travel trailer and on to the next chapter of this story I am living as I create it.
I took pictures of things that touched my heart as I tossed, and that was enough stuff, for me.
Today I will get up out of bed and
I will tuck my pain inside a pretty box.
I will close the cover and I will leave my pain there.
Today I will thank God that I can move and that I can walk.
Today I will exercise my body and I will feed my soul.
Today I will enjoy the flowers in my delightful garden.
Today I will give thanks for all that I have gained and
I will send into the clouds the pain for all that I have lost.
Today I will give a piece of my time to someone else.
Today I will not say any negative
words to myself or to anyone else.
Today I will not acknowledge or take into my heart any
negative words that are spoken to me.
Today I will feel the earth beneath my feet, I will let the sun
warm my soul and I will connect with the spirit of life.
Today I will open my mind, my heart
and my soul to all that I can create.
Today I will ask God to touch and surround
both my loved ones, and my enemies,
with angels as they walk their own path.
Today; if I dare forget to be grateful,
I will take out the memories of each
of my children’s and my grandchildren’s hugs and
I will let the memory of their precious faces surround me.
I will be busy today.