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.

The Farm-House

 

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I dreamed of the farm-house again last night.
When I saw the numbers match the numbers on the ticket in my hand at the end of the 10:00 o’clock news, when I learned that I’d won the lottery, before I even had the money in my hand, before I took the tiny slip of paper to the Lotto office to be sure it was really the single winning ticket for the $90 million dollar jackpot, I threw my cigarettes, a tooth-brush and my Master Card into my purse. I ran out to the driveway, tore open the door of my blindingly yellow Dodge Hemi truck, turned the key, felt the thunder as the engine roared to life and I flew out of the driveway.
I sped to the Tulsa airport, disregarding the speed limit because I was rich now. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t thinking that money made me above the law, but I could definitely afford to pay a speeding ticket.
I parked the truck in the long-term parking lot, ran inside the terminal to the first counter I saw and walked away with a ticket for American Airlines Flight 144 to Boston.
After a take-forever walk through security, I raced down the chintzy red carpet, catching the flight attendant’s attention just before he shut the door.
I was going home. My husband always told me that it wasn’t home anymore, that home was where we lived, in our 1986 trailer home set on two acres of Heaven in Owasso, Oklahoma.
I always said, “You’re right, honey.”
But he wasn’t.
As the many plaques will tell you, home is where your heart is and I had left mine on the cold, wet sand of Plum Island, nesting in the sand dunes I had crawled on before I could walk and then when I was older, I’d left more of me on the hot, sandy beaches of Hampton and Salisbury.
The last pieces I can remember seeing were hidden in the tunnels behind the walls of the farm-house, the tunnels where I had stashed my baby sister, playing quietly with her on the dusty floor so dad wouldn’t find us or hiding with Mom when the bill collectors pounded on our door.
When the wheels came down as we flew over the water of Revere Beach, I held my breath. I didn’t breathe again until the plane’s wheels touched the runway.
As the familiar seat belt ding sounded, everyone rushed to their feet.
I grabbed my purse and I pushed along with the crowd of people who also wanted off the plane, now.
I headed straight for the Avis counter and rented a luxury car with no idea of where I wanted to go or why I had flown eighteen hundred miles on the very day the lottery had blessed (or cursed) my life. All I knew for sure was that I was going to kidnap my Mom out of the nursing home and she was coming with me for one wild ride.
The car almost drove it self as I left the Avis parking lot. I think that the auto pilot of my soul was driving.
I sped along Route 93 with my feet driving and my heart dancing.
Suddenly, I knew where I was going! My urges were taking me back to the farm-house on High Street, to the house that my dad had bought for $8,000.00 only to give it back to the bank several years later.
So many times, I had dreamed of that familiar front door opening to me.
The present owner would throw open the solid white, wooden door with red trim, welcoming me home. The dream varied, probably depending on what I ate before I fell asleep.
Sometimes a woman, sometimes a man, but the answer-er always allowed me to wander down the hallowed halls of my dysfunctional, childhood home. Well, one of many, but the first real house with running water, walls, doors and a roof the rain didn’t ping off.
The farm-house that I’d been forced to leave behind when I was still a young girl.
In my memories, the curtains that my mom had sewn on her push pedal Singer sewing machine still hung in the living room windows.
I remembered the day she’d made them. I remembered the scent of the hot, damp cotton as she’d ironed each panel and hung it. I remembered the look of pride on her face as she stood back and smiled at what she had created.
I’d left a shard of me behind when I’d left that farm-house while taking a fragment from the walls. A sharp; yet, comforting splinter and it was still tucked away safely inside my heart’s vault.
A splinter that led me home, if only in my dreams, over and over.
Somehow the wood and the mortar had become entwined with my soul, an intrinsic puzzle I could not solve.
Finally, I could buy that now declared historic house, no matter the cost.
Panic pulsed through my veins and I asked myself, what am I doing?
Did I think that I could move back to the farm-house and did I think that I could start my life over again?
I guess so because I had dreams when my mind went back there, so I figured my body could too.
If I went back to there, could I go back to then and start my life over and change my now?
Could I hide in the secret tunnels and let time remove the stains and the hurts I had gathered in the years since I had left?
These were the questions searing my brain as I drove toward Billerica, doing forty miles over the speed limit.
I had to buy the house before I went to get Mom.
Money could bring my mom back to her house, the house she’d lost so long ago.
I dreamed of the farm-house again last night.

 

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.

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.

just be

A butterfly was pinned to the wall
God approached, loosened the pin
catching her easily in his hands
ever so gently, he broke her fall.

You trapped yourself my child
with your own fears and pain
just be, trusting in my love
I am with you all the while.

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.

Memory Clutter

I was finally in the mood to start some spring cleaning and I decided to begin with my office.
As  I cleaned, I realized why I held on to so many mementos and gifts from the people I love.
It wasn’t the actual notes or the drawings, it wasn’t the colorful gift bags with ribbons and bows that captivated me.
No, what I was struggling to fit into this small room, aside from computers, printers, writing, books, CDs, tapes and boxes of pictures were the moments when the gifts had been created and given.
I wanted back the happiness and the love in each child’s face when they had handed the gifts to me.
The pride in my mother’s eyes when she handed me her handmade crafts and the warmth of my sister’s hugs, the memories remained in the gifts.
After so many years, these items still triggered every emotion imaginable.
The metal sculpture my twenty-five year-old grandson welded for me when he was twelve, a green pipe with a bowl.
It had made my teenage son laugh so hard because he said it looked like a bong.
“Bong?” I’d asked. He’d laughed some more.
The toys from McDonald’s that my grandson loved to give me for presents. The man who spun like a top but could never stand up, the mermaid that he took for me when he could have had a GI Joe, into the Goodwill bag they went, but my hand hovered over a miniature Blue Fairy.
I remembered watching Artificial Intelligence over and over with my grandson and he was so proud when he found me the Blue Fairy.
The movie was about a little robot boy who wanted to be a real boy and he searched for the Blue Fairy to help him.
I couldn’t drop the Blue Fairy in the bag. Four out of five is pretty good, right?
The huge finger paintings with crackling paint. My once tiny granddaughter’s handprints with mine certainly had to stay.
The plastic sunflower my toddler grandson had presented to me…running up to me with his little fist closed tight around a treasure, he had opened his little fingers to present the treasure. “Flower,” he’d said, full of pride. When I saw it was plastic, I knew I’d keep it forever.
The poster created by pain and love that my baby sister presented to me the day after my suicide attempt twenty-eight years ago, that did go into the trash.
I pulled off the pictures, but the memory of that day and how much I’d hurt my family still burned.
Huge envelopes and boxes for each of my four kids and boxes for half of my fifteen grandkids.
What should stay, what should go?
Would they remember the objects and would the objects mean to them what they meant to me?
Would my son and daughter clean out all this junk after I was gone, moaning at my eccentric, hoarding habits? I didn’t know.
I set the bag of donations aside so I could repack it. Another box to be saved.
I just couldn’t part with any of it right now, but I could clean another room tonight.
Who knew spring cleaning could be so emotional?

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

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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.

No Longer The Girl…

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I am no longer the girl you first touched, held, caressed and loved.
I am much older now. I know too much to play Cinderella to your Prince Charming, although I still love you.
I am no longer a girl at all.
The girl grew weary of childish games and a woman stands in her place.
I can’t play Tinkerbell to your Peter Pan, not anymore.
I am woman who knows what she wants most of the time and I definitely know what I don’t want, all of the time.
I have grown-up. Changed.
In some ways for the better and I’ll admit this, in some ways maybe not so better.
As I fight to make my own choices and live my life inside the confines of this codependent relationship, I am often frustrated and angry.
Sometimes, I feel as if I’m walking on floors of Jello surrounded by walls of melting wax.
The rules change as soon as I learn them.
Your truths are flexible and my reality rebels.
I don’t want to be you. I want to be me.
I want to relax and I want to enjoy my life.
I want you to love me, not direct me.
I want my flowers, my gardens, my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, my sisters, my pink friend, the Sun, the Stars, the Moon, the Sky, the Rain, the Snow, the Ocean, the cool breeze that gently blows as I sit on my porch and write…and you…
I simply want to get lost in my blessings.
I am no longer the girl you first touched, held, caressed and loved.

Diamonds in the Rough

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I arrived in Muskogee last night  (August 22) at the Diamonds in the Rough sober living house to visit my daughter.
I was overwhelmed by the spirit of happiness and love that abounded in spite of the fact that each girl is still overcoming her demons.
We went to a church meeting and as the music was playing, I turned to my daughter and as we hugged, I felt God flow through both of us and I realized like never before that every miracle I have ever prayed for that girl has been granted.
She is alive and she is on the road to recovery.
The road to recovery is a long twisting road with many detours and problems.
It’s not a picnic. I know, because I’ve been sober for over 30 years.
I was overcome as I held her and she held me. All that we have been through with each other in our lives with men and with our addictions almost made sense and I truly felt the spirit of God as His precious grace flowed through us.