Simplifying isn’t just about letting go of things but also people

I start with these ten points because I am still learning them myself. I am learning to let go of shame and procrastination and expectation and excuses and as I have been growing in the letting go of all these things holding me back, I’ve found also that I’ve been having to let go of people I love. A person I love. This is not an easy thing for me but I have seen that the time is not right for us nor seems ever right and i live the adage that good things come to those who wait. Instead of seeing the shedding of people as a disappointment I understand that this happens for the following reasons:

  • They no longer fit who you are becoming
  • They need to live their life without you so that they can learn their own lessons that maybe you would keep them from learning
  • They need space to figure out what they really want or need.
  • Knowing this I always wonder if their retreat out of my life was because of something I did wrong. It is unknowable really and I am letting go of torturing myself about what I did wrong or if I should have done this or that or the other thing. Loss isn’t about me. It is all about them, their best outcome and all I can do is love them anyway. And I do. Things seem emptier without them. I am faced with myself entirely and so I turn to writing as I have always done, to process life and loss and who I am becoming as my life becomes more about independence, minimalism, positivity and less about weighing myself down with guilt and shame and dread and the illusion I have power to change much of anything or anyone. It is better that I don’t. I can control my responses to things that happen. I can’t control people, nor would I want to. The people who I matter to will remain in my life, whether they retreat a while or remain actively engaged with me.
  • Sometimes the wrong people have to be cleared away so that the right people can enter. It doesn’t mean you don’t mourn the loss for a while. I do and I don’t deny or bury my feelings.
  • Loss doesn’t mean getting over having love for someone. It means learning there is a bridge over what we have lost and that nothing is ever really lost in the end. Love is that bridge. I love enough to let go and not control and show the respect and compassion we deserve in the letting go.
  • The ones who are meant to stay and support my growth will come into my life and stay and go perhaps; gain and loss is a circular thing that helps us learn about ourselves if we are open to the lessons people teach us as we live this journey.
  • I have gone where I feel most alive. I am home, by my Lake and gulls and boats, living how I want to live with a minimum of what I need experiencing life more fully, being more present, authentic and loving without reservation. Thank you for all of the people who taught me about who I am.
  • Nothing is ever lost.
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severed

There will be no new memories. That is how it is when a life ends the seasons push inexorably on train tracks stretching to the horizon

somehow we go on despite the emptiness that defines our new condition

the hole never fills

There is this place you crossed over that looks like home only moreso and there I saw you looking like yourself only happier

through a glass darkly images

brighten then

fade

somehow we wake up in this

world and the next

half in half out

half here

half gone

half darkness

half

light

Love does not conquer all

This has been a season of all too brief hellos and all too soon goodbyes of friends who were friends for years and years. One I was reunited with. The reuniting was wonderful and a love long dormant in Me was expressed but to the tune of the wrong place and still the wrong time.

I was not the choice. As painful as that is sometimes you just have to accept it and move on. While the reason was all too clear in my situation, sometimes goodbyes are based on situations that are inexplicable and you don’t ever get to know why.

The door, after a goodbye or many opens. Sometimes we trap ourselves in situations because we feel it’s what we deserve and most of the time this choice is unconscious based on what has happened to us in life and what kind of protections we have developed. Even when we don’t need them anymore those same protection mechanisms can become a prison keeping us from growth and new experiences.

For me the goodbye was hard and unwanted but necessary so I didn’t live a lie and also to remain honest, even to a person who didn’t know I was around, who I personally can’t stand but who still as a person deserved my honesty. I was angry at the injustice of things and how the time is never right and I took my anger and frustration out on the one I said goodbye to a little bit. I am not proud of this and I tried to make amends but I leave with silence for an answer and a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Maybe one day in time, we can come around again in the right time and the right place, with understanding and love.

I am weary of goodbye. I am sad and drained and aged. I am now leaving my whole past behind while returning to the place my past occurred. The place has changed, as have the people who populated it…some have moved away, some have died and most have simply grown older. Enough has changed I think that restoration and a new life may take root and I can make my home my own and lay down deep roots, forge new friendships and find a love of my own unfettered by emotional baggage and closed doors and dead ends. Love does not conquer all: it often means, if we are honest, if we are true, that if we really love somebody we have to honor their choices enough to walk away and allow them the freedom to live their choices while sacrificing our own desires. I really loved him in the right way and when I am sad, as I am now, I am comforted by knowing I’ve grown enough to learn that letting go is an act of faith in doors that will open, other opportunities that will come, new people, new possibilities and new growth opportunities.

So I sit in the coffee shop and think of the movie Begin Again:

Grief, observed

“The death of a beloved is an amputation.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I grieve. I grieve for someone who still lives. I know now that is possible. I have found out this year more than any other year through the culling that sometimes occurs when the universe tells us through the loss of friends we outgrow, or who no longer serve us, that the grief that follows these losses or this loss is the same as that for someone who actually dies. For it is a death, this loss. To lose a friend that you thought was a friend, only to find out that no, indeed they were not, maybe never your friend is an amputation of the self. There are good days, which seem to flow like an uninterrupted current in a river, then there are the bad days, when something reminds me of who we used to be, and how it was all just an illusion. How we met. How we talked and talked, and in the years ever after, he would speak of that first time, and how impressed he was by the way I could speak about any subject with insight and intelligence. I felt the same way about him. Maybe that was an illusion too. Maybe what he saw in that conversation was something of my vulnerability and that was what interested him, for it gave him ammunition for years on end the more he learned about me, which coincided with me trusting him more and more with who I was and who I grew into as the years passed. I saw so much possibility in him; in the kindness he seemed to have, in the gentleness he seemed to possess, which I wrapped myself in like a warm blanket. I am reminded of something else Lewis says in his book “A Grief Observed:”

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”

And when that rope is used by your friend to hang you with, everything you were, vulnerabilities and weaknesses and all, everything you did with him and for him, perceived by him as just more weakness, instead of the strength it is supposed to be–for love is a strength; friendship is a strength–it makes the entire endeavor and work that goes into cultivating friendship and love into the weapon designed to destroy me. This friendship was important to me. I was willing to wait for it to grow and blossom and willing to work at it in a way that I was never willing for anyone else. I believed in it. I believed in him. He was my best friend and now he’s gone. Forever. By my choice, and probably his. When the truth is unveiled you can’t go back. I can’t go back and tell the girl I was not to get into his car that first night. That is what I would do now if I could.

Still, I find myself in tears from time to time over this loss and stunned still by the unreality of it all. The friendship spilled over into his family and mine. I loved his family and I thought they liked me. Perhaps that was an illusion too.

Writing is a healthy way for me to work out this grief and I suppose that is where the poem “You, Death,” came from. It honestly never occurred to me how everything he touched or everything I tried to grow died when it was left alone with him. A garden I worked tirelessly to grow mostly died despite my best efforts. What a metaphor for this friendship. Two peace plants I gave him died when he was left to tend them. There was rarely peace in the friendship. After a while he would bail, more than once, and I would be left torturing myself about what I did wrong. Believing in God as I did, and still do, it never once crossed my mind that my friend’s vision of God was quite different from mine and how he used God to justify everything he did—presenting himself as somehow more patient than me, more willing to trust in God than me–it never once occurred to me that maybe he really believed in nothing at all and only mirrored my belief to make himself look better than me and feel better about himself.

So I observe this grief as I write and I grieve for the friendship that never was. I grieve for the man he never was. I grieve for myself and all I gave, for nothing. I understand this loss was for my own good; that I am better off without him. I understand that this friendship dragged me down and held me back and now I am free of it, free to have faith in the unknown, the unknowable, free to live unencumbered by worry and doubt about him. He had me doubting God at the end. That was God’s way of telling me that something was dreadfully wrong with the whole thing, and that freedom lay in trusting the unseen path ahead, not the dream I wanted. I am alive, I will live; and there is the hope in grief, that life did not end the day our friendship died, even though I felt as if I would never live again; that love is never wasted, even when the other person does not understand it, does not understand what they rejected. I made many mistakes with him over the years and so I am no better than he is.

I am just who I am; and I make no apologies for being trusting, for loving, for extending my hand in friendship. These are not weaknesses. They are the best things about life.

Still, sorrow is a process, with good days when she does not appear, and bad days, when it seems all is grey and tears come unbidden. Still the sun rises every day; and still the stars come out at night. There are less grey days and more sunny days as time heals me and I am comforted still by the sight of deer.

I just wish…..I just wish that my friendship with him was real. I wish so much that we will both become better people in the future. I will always love him anyway. How can you not love a person when you see them all alone, never happy, never looking forward to anything, and incapable of understanding compassion, empathy and love? I wouldn’t wish that kind of a life on anyone and I am sorrowful of the people like that who must live that way always.

I will love again. I love myself enough to have faith in an uncertain future that will hopefully help me grow as a person even if my best companion is God and myself. I do not need someone to validate who I am; I love myself enough not to continue suffering in a pairing that does not suit me or my growth. I love myself enough to get away from that. I am willing to wait for whatever comes and I make peace somehow with the uncertainty of the future, trusting that nothing but good is coming. I spend my time extending a hand to others, giving a smile, listening to friends instead of talking.

It’s going to be okay.

“This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

autopsy

four times you have dug me up

peeled the skin away from my extremities

Cracked my ribs open to peer at my heart

and not content with looking

sliced it open scalpel at the ready

you oh vivisectionist, reveling in my dry and rotted flesh watched

as the blood drained from me and

I grew progressively cold

and whiter

you could not wait until I was dead before you peeled the muscle from my bones

my screams of pain your face impassive I the

experiment

you will not find my humanity in my bones

torturer you cannot wear it like a second skin oh if you could disguise yourself

Hannibal Lecter of humans

eater of emotion

murderer

of loving souls

how many skeletons of those who went before me are buried in your basement deep abyss black pitiless intent your

mind their faces your face interchangeable

I see you standing over the bodies nightly in the dark

pondering your next victim

Predator

Dead letter

Dear Fitz

Nineteen years and it was yesterday

and here I am in the middle of my life and nowhere

in a different state

nothing

As I thought it would be

I’ve gone on and on.

I’ve loved and I’ve lost.

I’m living in a world where colors aren’t as bright they

went trailing out after you when you went to that other place and

left me here not knowing what to do my touchstone gone forever

Life yawns on in front of

Me and I might as well be blind for all I cannot see

I’ve given up mostly on things like dreams tired of them shattering like glass when I touch them tired of plans that implode tired of not having a true North to come home to

I sat at your gravestone last ten years ago and listened to the trees whisper you were not there you went home Over There

You’re okay.

I wish I knew that about me. I wish I could sit down with your bad coffee while you play Dylan and we could talk about things and you’d smile and search me with those warm blue eyes and tell me how you love me wandering like a gypsy and I could tell you I’ve seen Ireland twice and wandered Corkside and Dublin and they let me

See Joyce for free and I stood by Molly Malone on McConnell Street drinking a coffee to go from Bewleys

and you’d tell me to go see Budapest or Paris in the springtime

you asked me

Once if I believed in soulmates if I had a soulmate and all I could do was look at you

I wish

I’d told you

I was young then and I didn’t know that people lied because they could I didn’t know that they parade wolves in sheeps clothing and I believed the best of them all and so I was silent and you changed the subject and held me close

when it was time to say good bye

Where’d I go?

Australia that time I think

Life went by and took you with it and now I am in the empty place waiting

for the pieces to unshatter for my heart to be unbroken for the colors to return to the rainbows

you said to see Dublin in the winter and I know you loved the snow

you were the only decent man

I ever knew

and sometimes I know you reach out to me and show me you

love me

And this a dead letter

I travel on

warning

first they came with their religion saying get back to God (while they stole from the people)

then like farmers

Of the devil they sow division and tear down schools and beat down teachers

busted unions systematically

taking away the freedom of others they fear

the people

they fear you, the people

in the name of freedom they do

these things

standing up

talking about

how they need to own my body because I can’t be trusted to live in it

Godly (while they give guns to madmen and the earth burns fire and spews hatred like green acid streaming down the purity of rivers annihilated)

annihilation is their name

telling you they are civilized

behold

they do not come in the name of freedom they come to destroy in the name of the greed that drives them enslaved to the whips and chains of hatred

talking about jailing journalists

talking about burning newspapers burning books burning burning

talking about fair and balanced

while they stomp on the scales and defecate on justice’s flowing skirts

talking about freedom

talking about freedom while using the flag to bind us all while using the flag as a hate symbol as the justification for all that these types of people do

They ain’t talking about our freedom

They only talking about what they’ve ever talked about 400 years and sliding backwards

talking about their freedom

Freedom to destroy

Freedom to rape

they believe the earth is a woman you see and these same types been justifying rape for time immemorial woman is subject to man subject to God we not subject to anyone you see we got our balls out so you can see how big they are so we can grab your womanhood it’s our freedom

not yours it’s not rape

when we do it

Freedom to silence because freedom of speech is too messy and we don’t like being told what we do we don’t like the exposure we don’t like the truth so we tell you the truth is not the truth we make up facts we change the language we don’t tell lies we speak the language call it alternative facts we

love freedom when it frees us we beat down the law

above the law

we only need you to keep winning so you hang on to those ideals we spout wave the flag stand up we passing laws to kill you when the curtain burns down when the puppeteer is exposed when the

Scales

Fall

From

Your

Eyes

when you flood the streets in protest we can kill you we have been killing you to see how far we can go we started with the brown ones to see what the

results will be the public outcry seems

quiet the doctor says (they don’t seem to mind)

And about that wall we got you so excited about we lied it isn’t about keeping them out it’s about how

that wall will keep you in

the cross will save you white

Freedom

Is

Sacred

Freedom morphs

the red white and blue slipping slowly inexorably

Into a white flag with a blue field and a cross

Freedom is upside down and inside out freedom is gagged and zip tied and we don’t hear her screaming or the nails being pounded in her

coffin

Listen listen listen

can the sickness be cured

she is dying

Illusionarium

out there where the cherry blossoms fall drifting out over the green grass like pink snowflakes there we were in

a perfect moment lovers

dreaming spun from

us like magic and we lived in this world where the sun always shone

and even the rain was blessed

and we made plans for futures I did not know then were unreal

when did it all shatter like glass

when did the beach cease to exist and when did the god-voice stop being holy and started taunting us to be what we never could be a constant voice of criticism and disdain

what we never were

and when did you change into a stranger or maybe that is what you always were disguised as something familiar and warm. I wore you like my old green sweater and loved the comfort of your words and embraced your truths as if they were my own

when did I morph into you and lose myself in the process of believing in misty web-dreams

when did we separate

I know when the bell jar cover was lifted and reality rushed in like a hurricane

destroying the dream washing it from us

colors bleeding until we were

no

more

art by 0ctavio Ocampo

Narcissus

Everything is quiet now

like the day after

The earthquake

nothing is as it was nor ever can be

and I am left staring at the detritus wondering if I lit the fuse

or you

what if id just gone along and

been still

what if id stood up for me

who were you really jumbled up in my mind remembering how you told me God came

To you

Spoke to you

like some Old Testament prophet

promised you we would marry you said

how you held me remembering how we planned our wedding our secret plans for Florida remembering how you wanted me constantly calling you hours on the phone hundreds of emails love bombing me move in with me you said

when I got there then you picked me up and

hurled me over the precipice

suddenly

watched impassively as I fell.

God took my love for you

You said.

Don’t go you said.

I heartbroken shattered

confused

Bewildered stayed

where did the love go not understanding it was never there oh no God took it he will give it back when you’re ready

I believed

You

twenty five plus years of knowing nothing about you

suddenly revealed

what you knew about me an unending supply of ammunition

weaponized,

you stopped one day while we walked you’re fat you said

words punching me in the stomach so proud of the weight I’d lost losing more

Insignificant you said

triumph seeing my anger and confusion

and that was the beginning of

the end I with no defenses while

Daily the bombs fell.

I hate how you eat you said

I hate how you look you said

I hate how you walk you said

I don’t like the way you talk you said

I don’t like your sense of humor you said

I don’t like where you came from your family are hillbillies you said

you’re uncultured you said

can’t have you around my family you said till I teach you to walk and talk and eat and act like a lady you said all dancing around in my head simultaneously remembering how smart you thought I was once how funny and vivacious you said I was beautiful we made loverunning into remembering late at night I on one side of your wall you on the other all leading up to the day when you said

You’re mentally ill and

we’ll never have anything until you’re fixed you said.

and you were going to wait and have faith and pray for me while God fixes me

You saint.

You saint.

poking away in my past pushing buttons doing all the things that hurt me I the child you the parent controlling what I ate what I drank how far we walked how I talked while

convincing me how different you are how good you are how healthy you are how while taking me apart brick by brick day by day

until

I am pieces I try to reassemble during the day when you are not there

when you gone is a relief

When you gone means I am free

until

I am nothing more than invisible to you nothing more than someone you used to know nothing more

nothing more than

nothing

I’m helping you, you said.

You’re too sensitive you said.

You should be grateful you said.

I give you everything you said.

Funny how words are worse than atomic bombs how they destroy the soul shatter the heart wound worse than shrapnel

“You’ll deserve me one day,” you said.

was I saved from you or by you or

was I dumped by you

God knows better than I

He set me free

He said.

full circle blind

I don’t

know

who you are

all these years boil down to days or weeks

and you were only ever visiting

maybe I only saw your company face

best behavior for it is easy to be who

I thought you were seeing you for

days here and there then watching the march of years without you

and there you are again always

on the periphery the horizon never

in the here and now

I might as well have been a ghost she said

for all we ever shared you on one end

of the line and me on

the other was all we ever really were

in my dreams we were always going in opposite directions and you

always

just out of reach bending round

corners and me ducking in and out of

crowds catching glimpses of you

On the down escalator

while I am going up

near misses miraged into one another

until we had built a dream but

years of blank spaces are solid facades

and we do not know how to love.

that would require solidity

foundation

being real and so

I do not know you

Did not

know who