Lessons To Learn, Miles To Run

I go through my days and nights, making mistake after mistake, wondering what am I doing wrong and how I can change it, how can I do it right?
I want to know, why I am here and what I am supposed to be learning?
What are these challenges I’m facing supposed to be teaching me?
I have an icky feeling that I’ve been here before.
I feel that I have done this before, and this is the last chance to get it right.
I don’t know if I believe in reincarnation, but obviously something in my subconscious does.
Why else would I feel that this is my last go-round?
I took a silly test that was supposed to tell me how old my soul is, and the answer said mine was 1,016 years old.
I believe it.
Because that’s how weary I am of my challenges and trying to figure out the right road, the correct path, whatever you want to call it.
The worst thing is that I can go from one extreme to another while making a choice or decision and then stay stuck smack in the middle of both choices. Seriously.
Often, I’m running around trying to undo damage from an earlier error. I also make no choice and that is of course, a choice. It can also require cleanup.
Anyway, today I was thinking about my challenges and the way I wrestle with them at times.
Mostly, I’ve avoided them or run away, but lately I have been trying to fight them and hit them head on.
Not always a good method with a large margin for error.
I think the Ghost of Error is what stops me in my tracks.
I want to make the right choice and my instincts tell me the right choice, but I don’t always trust myself;  although, sometimes a glimmer of confidence dances through my head.
Getting back to the original thought. What am I here for and what did I not learn all the other times?
I need to know, what are the challenges I have not licked?
The words love and loyalty flash card me.
Two big ones, huh?
And I don’t want to come back to learn it again and again.
I’m soul tired…and the subconscious says not just from this life, but from many others before.
To love without conditions…to give loyalty under all pressures.
To the people who love me and to the causes my heart believes in, not to those who demand my love and loyalty, but to those whom it rightfully belongs.
To not fear errors, but to embrace and to learn from each disaster.
To be loyal to myself and to let the turds fall where they may.
To risk everything because of something I believe in whether I’m right or wrong, to be true to myself, to stand behind myself when I create a plan and to say, “Go for it!” instead of, “Oh my, I’m scared to make decisions.”
I want to throw away the opinions that trap me and cripple me. Throw them to the wind. I want to do what I believe is right even when I can’t be sure I’m right. I have been told that I am wrong for so many years that I have lost trust in myself.
Now, I need to overcome the years of doubt and to learn to trust me and to pay my own price if I am wrong.
To me…that is the loyalty that I am lacking. The ability to trust myself and my loyalty to me is missing.
I really don’t want to keep coming back just to repeat my mistakes.
Lessons to learn, miles to run.

Broken

Broken a thousand times and each time
God glues the pieces back together.
Each experience creates a different person.
Sometimes a better person
sometimes just a person
filled with nicks and cracks and rough edges.
Sometimes I’m not sure I’ll even heal.
I don’t want that anymore.
I don’t want to be broken over and over again.
I don’t want to be shattered.
I want to be whole.
I have learned to live with the cracks,
but there comes a time
when you just can’t allow
yourself to be broken again.
Lord, let this be my last time broken.

Ghosts (2003)


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 remember.
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.
He knows.
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 eye’s showed me how far I’ve come, by the grace of God.

Such a perfect couple…

Such a perfect couple, people always say…
They don’t know that for so many years we have said the same sentences.
“Don’t talk to me that way.”
“I talk to you that way because you made me so mad.”
“Well, that doesn’t give you the right to talk to me that way.”
“Yeah, I know.”
I believe we have said just that paragraph over five thousand times.
Exactly like that, except now and then a f’n works its way through.
So, now it’s decision time.
Because I keep repeating the same sentences too.
How do I change the script?
Our responses are so automatic.
Can you actually change within a destructive relationship or do you have to leave it?
I learned a long time ago, that you alone are responsible for what you accept from other people. I have accepted verbal abuse.
I am also responsible for how I respond to other people. I’ve become angry enough to start screaming right back at you. I don’t want to be that woman.
I don’t know how to be near you without being angry anymore and that scares me.
Can I change? Can you change?
I guess we would have if we could have.
Such a perfect couple people always say…

That feeling…

that feeling
you know
that one
that turns your blood to ice
fear that overwhelms you
when you get a phone call
in the middle of the night.
that feeling
you know
that one
that sucks the air
from your lungs
because you know
when you answer
that phone
because you know
that one call
will change
your life forever.
i had that feeling today
when i remembered
that you’re not coming back
and it really is over.
that feeling.

Full Moon Rises

Soul wanders
through the darkness
searching for your light.
It floats blind and lost
searching behind
the  stars each night.
Heat remembered
frustrates and
fuels the fire.
Full moon rises
sparking rebellion,
tears and desire.
I want! I want!
soul screams out
to the empty night.
Its over. It’s over.
Must be accepted
by each daylight.

I Unwish The Wish…

My mind is clouded with thoughts
but none that I can speak.
The words have all been spoken and
thoughts disintegrate as I attempt
to form words that I could say.
My mind is burdened with memories
but I have no more sentences for you.
I wish I did.
My words will not make sense to you
as your’s make none to me,
we said everything that we could say
the silence is deafening
as we stare at the damn TV.
I wish…I wish…
I could just show you my heart
and that I could see yours
so that we could understand.
Then I remember how hard we
struggle with each other’s reality
and we don’t have a backup plan.
So I unwish the wish and
I write words that are my truth
over and over again.
Hoping my head will believe
the words that my soul writes.

Empty Spaces


Empty spaces
trying to put my life
back together again
but I’m missing
some of the pieces
completely lost them
yes, I do know when.
Empty spaces
jagged edges
used to fit so well
wounds do not heal
pictures once complete
or almost anyway
faces gone, oh hell.
Empty spaces
where dreams fell
through the cracks
lost, in total disarray
chaos rules
blood drips red
suffering with
silent sadness.
Empty spaces
buried hopes lay dead
shivering, icy cold
heart turned to stone
not a thought
left in my head.

Your love is raw…

 

I thought my love was true…so why do I always fantasize

about leaving us behind, running away from me loving you?

Your love is raw, it is bloody, it is deep.

Your warm, obsessive blanket covers my eyes, my empty girly head,

shielding me, protecting me at night, yet not heavy enough to let me sleep.

Lying wide-eyed in our king-size bed, the buried fights numb my head.

Your love, my shroud, my bad, my dead.

You call me to your side each night, honey, come to sleep.

Not unlike a small child, I run to you and snuggle under my pink blanket

on my corner of the mattress awake in the dark long after you snore.

Into the dawn I weep, tears leaving their dirty marks.

The weight of your need to possess me and my need for you cements my life.

It this all I’ll ever feel, is this all I’ll ever be, your woman, your girl, your wife?

Your need is soft, it is strong, it is rough, it is binding, it is smothering, it is fluff.

Your need has taken over my life which doesn’t even make any sense.

Becoming nothing, wanting something, I sit and scour my mind, trying to find myself.

Can I take care of me, this woman, this girl who will not speak?

Standing on the outside, looking through the tinted glass of our storm door.

I don’t want to come inside. Oh yes, I am sure.

Am I running from us because of our today or am I running from our pain-filled past?

I don’t know anymore.

No place left to hide.

Your love surrounds me, it saves me, until it drowns me.

Your love is raw, it is bloody, it is deep.

I Want

I want to catch a snowflake
and send it straight to you
wrapped in icy sleet.
I want to shake the stars
scattering fiery sparks
until you remember our heat.
I want to chase the moon
following its midnight map
until the beams lead me to you.
I want to ease this heartbreak
returning my soul to a time
when my color wasn’t blue.

 

Mirror Image by Susanne Louise

Mirror images are what we’re made of and everything has a mirror image.
What we are and what we want to be is all a reflection of what we see…a shadow is just a distorted mirror image.
A shadow that is not reality.
It’s reality distorted to a reflection.
Life is a mixture of both these images.
Sometimes we look in a mirror and see shadows instead of the reality.
The mirror image determines which is real and which is distorted In the mind.
The crazy lost souls of our hopes and dreams control the mind, so how do we trust anything we see?

 

I Am My Father’s Daughter

I am my father’s daughter.
He taught me about reality, insanity and how to find crumbs of love beneath the rubble.
I listened to him for so many years, ranting and raving against society, the government and his bosses.
He was a mason.
He wouldn’t build fireplaces if the contractors didn’t build the houses to his standards and he always fought with his bosses until they would fire him or he would quit.
The excitement we all felt as he found each job and the despair we felt when he lost them was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Do we eat hamburgers versus do we eat saltines and peanut butter.
What he said when he was screaming and yelling was not always crazy. He was equally intelligent and creative, such a hard combination to juggle mentally. Very confusing.
When I first went to AA he was there during one of his rare fits of sobriety.
People would insist that I stay away from that man, crazy Bill, and I’d tell them, “I would, but he’s my dad and he’s sober today and I love him.”
He didn’t ever stay sober very long, but when he was sober, he was quiet and soft and gentle.
He taught me to love nature and to appreciate the free beauty in the world.
My daughters loved their grandpa, but they only saw him when he was sober so that was all they knew…
One winter when he was sober, I asked him if he wanted to come inside and live with us, but he chose to sleep outside in his truck because he said he felt safe there.
He would come in my little apartment to shave and shower and wipe away every trace that he had ever been inside.
Every week when he got paid, he would give me thirteen dollars. Ten for me and a dollar for each of the kids.
I still have the note he wrapped the money in the first week. He left it in my mailbox.
I treasure that note because I am my father’s daughter.
He taught me that material possessions meant nothing.
He taught me that by always leaving everything we had behind when we moved, but I learned it.
He taught me that by selling everything he bought my mother in the moneyed days of summer during the cold, bitter days of winter, to buy his beer, but I learned it.
He taught me that money was hard earned. He taught me that by making me beg for a nickel for the ice cream man, but I learned it.
He taught me that women were strong and that they could survive almost anything and get up and go to work the next day because they had to feed the family, pay the rent and put fuel in the furnace.
He taught me that by the way that he treated my mom, screaming at her and calling her a whore all night and I learned from her too.
I watched the way she survived, how she went to work every morning no matter how little sleep she had the night before, and yes, I learned.
My dad was a paranoid, schizophrenic, bipolar, seldom sober alcoholic, but much of what he said was the truth and he was before his time, so I guess he was also a prophet.
He was a prophet who filled prescriptions for Valium and Librium to stay sober. He was a prophet who could not handle the ugliest parts of humanity when he was sober, (including himself) so he drank to forget and would once more become ugly and cruel and then he would get sober again, hating himself so much that he would drink just to forget again.
He taught my brother the craft of brick laying and then he tortured my brother for being his equal.
Yet, when Dad went crazy and tried to kill his mother and father, it was my brother who got him from jail and into a VA hospital, all the while accepting verbal abuse and being disowned for bringing him where he could get help instead of jail time.
One of my best memories of my dad is when at fourteen I asked for a stereo and had it the next day.
One of my brother’s worst memories is when Dad took away his hunting rifle and sold it to buy my stereo. I never even knew until my brother and I were talking after Mom’s funeral.
My dad was a good man and he was a bad man.
He was my father and I hated him and I loved him.
Forty years ago, when he was living on the streets, my sister and I got him a little apartment in our building.
He lived as if he were staying at a campground. Instead of the stove, he used a little propane cooker and instead of the bed we gave him, he slept on the floor in a sleeping bag. He wouldn’t accept any meals we tried to share and he only ate food out of cans to be sure he wasn’t being poisoned.
He walked the streets during the day, wearing sandals and a long white shirt, telling people that he was Jesus. He believed that…
The last time I saw him was in 1983. He was living in a shed on his friend’s farm. His friend had died and the son didn’t want him there anymore. Dad didn’t care.
As I walked up to the shed, he looked out the window.
His first words were, “Has your mother remarried?”
Second thoughts, “What happened to your hair? That’s not your real hair color.”
He wouldn’t come out to talk to me. I asked him to come out several times. He refused and he talked through the screen.
He told me that I had no right to have remarried after my divorce. He would not acknowledge my husband.
I asked him if he’d like to meet my son, his five-year-old grandson, who stood right beside me and he said, “No.”
He told me to never come back or to try to see him again. He said it would be better that way.
He didn’t have much else to say and as he wished, I have never seen him again.
My brother swears that he saw him slip into my mom’s funeral in 2009.
My mother was his one true love, his obsession, his everything; although he nearly destroyed her before she left him after forty-years of hell.
One granddaughter searches for him to this day. I do too. I don’t know why.
We have not found a death certificate, so we believe that he’s still alive. He would be ninety-one.
We were told that he was possibly still living in the VA hospital, but we were also told that he insisted that he had no family, so they couldn’t tell us if he was there.
Many things in life can be overcome, changed, fixed.
I have been sober since I was twenty-three, yet one unchangeable reality stands out to me.
I am my father’s daughter.

Peter Pan

Peter Pan broke me.
He flew me among the stars.
He kissed me till I was dizzy.
He showed me Jupiter and Mars.
Then…he let go of my hand.
Peter Pan, you were just a little boy
I stupidly mistook for a man,
yet, here I still sit at my window.
Oh Peter, Peter Pan.

Most People

Most People
Most people touch something hot
and they don’t touch it again.
Most people feel pain and then
they stay away from
the thing that caused the pain.
She was different.
I don’t know why.
Maybe because pain was so familiar,
but when something hurt her
she held on and rubbed her heart into it.
She didn’t let it go. She held on for dear life.
Most people touch something hot
and they don’t touch it again.
But, she’s not most people material.

Untie Time

I wish I could untie time
rip it to shreds and then
put it all back together again
without the grief and the tears.
Throw away the bloody pieces
no… bury them in the ground
where they will never see
the light of present year.
Never a chance to beat me.
Never a chance to bind my soul.
No hands rebound…no, no.
Treacherous threads of minutes
Woven through my torn flesh,
Taking all, time imposed her limits.
My bounty ticked away so quickly
I couldn’t even catch my breath
My babies are grown, am I free?
Have I  passed the maternal test?
I wish I could untie time.

Dear God,

when I was down for the count
you never gave up on me
you always reached for my hand
offering to set my spirit free

when grief shoved every one away
you loved me with no conditions
and you never left my side
loving me with no exceptions

i fell into a well, dark and deep
there was no rope to be found
you lifted me out and calmly
set me back on solid ground

you whispered, you don’t need that
when I used drugs to numb the pain
my child just set that down
and you washed me clean with rain

on the darkest days you colored
pink behind the black clouds
you covered me in your grace
your love infinite, it has no bounds

you knew what was best for me
sad when I embraced the worst
you promised me i was loved
when all i felt was cursed

when I screamed, I cannot make it
i heard you whisper, yes my child you can
open your heart and reach out for me
oh child, please just take my hand

despite the days and nights I wasted
you simply gave me more
gently laying your hand upon my head
while i kicked and screamed on the floor

i never would have made it
without you holding on to me
stubborn child i placed myself in chains
a prisoner of self until you set me free

Mad Men & Crazy Women

wow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My sisters and I, we like to love Mad Men. Seriously.
We are Crazy Women.
The Mad Men we love are always mad at the world and we spend way too much valuable time trying to make them calm and happy…
We are old-fashioned, cooking and cleaning while working full-time, loving our man all night, kinda women.
It doesn’t help very much.
Turns out Mad Men don’t want the all night loving after they get you. They are too busy being Mad at you.
But Mad Men don’t always tell you when they’re Mad…they just make you pay in a million little ways and then tell you it’s your fault.
Can you say Gaslight?
The Mad Men think everything revolves around them and I’m being brutally honest here, Crazy Women agree.
Splitting up is as common as Full Moons in our homes.
We certainly know how to leave, we just don’t know how to stay gone, so reuniting is also on our agendas just as often.
Fight. Cry. Talk. Don’t talk. Pack. Leave. Talk every night for hours. Agree on a fresh start. Pack up. Go home. Unpack. Pack. Leave.
We put up with a bunch of bullshit, but luckily the Mad Men are all different, so our phone calls and visits never get boring.
We got rid of the Mad Men who hit many years ago. I give us credit for that.
However, there are thousands of ways to hurt another human being without hitting them.
We watched our mom maneuver this same road with our dad, a truly certifiable Mad Man, and we vowed that we’d never marry a man like him.
But we did.
We are not weak women.
We are strong, intelligent, creative, loving, caring, beautiful women.
But once we fall in love, we give of ourselves until we break and we do not accept defeat gracefully.
My dad begged my mom to leave him before he killed her in a drunken stupor, which he was working on every night, the killing and the stupor.
He would try to wrap the phone cord around her neck and strangle her while my twelve-year-old sister sat on Mom’s lap and stopped him.
My mother’s most famous words were, “Go to bed. your father is not going to kill (or hurt) anyone tonight.”
Our strongest model of reality and she told us we were safe when we were not safe.
Dad even stood over our beds with his hunting rifle now and then. Pondering killing us.
Reality has been confusing for us, at best.
As young girls, we all had a turn sleeping in front of Mom’s bedroom door trying to listen under the crack to see if she was still breathing.
If dad got quiet, she would say, “Go to bed, Ray.”
You would have thought she’d stuck a hot poker in his side because those words would spur the Mad Man on for another hour.
When I write it down and then read it back, it sounds insane and it was, but that was how we lived.
My dad would rant and rave until the sun came up and then we would all try to go to school and my mom would go to work…
It wasn’t hard to find a better man than my father, but I know for myself it took me a long time to realize that on a core level, I was recreating the dynamics of my childhood home and trying to make it come out right.
Four divorces between us, one of us married the same Mad Man twice, not naming any names, baby sister. I would have married mine twice too, but I never got brave enough to divorce him.
I did leave my Mad Man five times, six if you count spending a few nights (alone) crying in a motel. I think that counts.
Serious enough about not going back to buy my own place to live, twice.
I’m in the second place I bought right now, packing to go back home, again.
My sisters and I, we like to love Mad Men. Seriously.
We are Crazy Women.

For Jodie Lynne, my daughter…

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I am God’s flower.
I am petals swaying in the wind
soaking up the dew drops
while the sunshine kisses my skin.
I am God’s flower.
Do not pick me.
Do not crush me.
God created me just as I am.
I am His flower.