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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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:

regret

sometimes on sunny days when the river sparkles and birds hover in cross breezes over the waters

it is easy to dream

easy to live in what could have been or what could be if the wind reversed direction if life rewound

if old paths once so promising reopened

I peek behind one door and I see you and how the sun opened onto your face in that easy smile or how conversation opened to easily in our talk of books and poetry

it was easy to love you then and flickers long buried resurface like the flash of silver fish jumping in midair and disappearing in the current

I have carried you gently, like a bird

quietly

in the silent places in my mind music of you with me over the years in a little pocket in my carry on bag in that place where I could be me and you could be you and we loved Shakespeare and Gibran and spoke of books as our friends while our path intersected and there were wildflowers and promise

I stand at the intersection of memory and how things happened and if I’d been in a different place or you perhaps

perhaps…if my world had not come tumbling down in the unexpectedness of things that happen if I had not been silent if any of it mattered till the day came when all I could do is set you free my silence held in the rightness of letting you fly

(I could never have kept you caged you see not you that was never me)

memory is black and white an old reel playing out then the end of the tape flapping as the reel spins round and round

So we live in our own stories now

perhaps

all is as it should be and it is not for me to say what should have been or what should be

I only wonder at the mystery of whether love is really love if it falls in the woods and nobody hears it I am all too acquainted with words unspoken with holding back with futility

for now I stand here on the shore listening to the sound of the river flowing past watching the birds fly above me

there is only the present

I hold time the sun your smile close to me in the silence of my solitude

The river flows onwards as it has done for a thousand years and will

For a thousand years to come

I am but a moment

you

I envy flight

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

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

the snowy day I remember

you were walking into work snow falling lightly around you like big soft white feathers falling from a bird

you saw flight in words, ideas

you lived ideas

thought clouds your head immersed

in walking

you and you alone were the universe the largest infinite all these ideas

that make us human and the stories we live daily in novels and

poetry

I remember you wore your navy pea coat

and no hat snow coloring your shoulders

your hair unruly as always

drifting

down over

your forehead

as if

your thoughts had run over and spilled across your face

silent

Everything silent and white and beautiful and you beautiful in it then

you glanced up as if you’d heard me looking at you and through the snow

the sun broke out on your face in your boyish grin

and my heart opened and flew to you

you held it gently

so as not to break its delicate wings

your blue eyes dancing with mine

so glad to see one another the snow seemed to waltz across us as an entire conversation played out in the silence between us wrapping us in its embrace

while the snow fell

enshrining

consent

why do they think they own us that we are fertile

Soil

they can walk all

Over or

Possess I repeat the lamentation of my sisters across the ages that has fallen on deaf ears or preaches to the choir so

let me

Spell it out for you

Consent

means my consent not yours to consent with yourself that you have the right

the right to

touch me whenever you want or to pinch my ass or to hug me or peck me on the cheek while you talk about how much all the girls

Love you

trust me they don’t

Consent

isn’t you promising

me a future pretending to be the one

while your real agenda is to get into

my pants that isn’t consent it is

rape by fraud

you lie to get laid

I don’t

Consent

to that

Consent isn’t you and me getting drunk

together and then you screwing me while I’m unconscious that’s

rape that’s being a coward that’s criminal

I am not your new territory and I don’t need you mansplaining to me how life works

like I am

Five years old

I been spending my time cleaning up after you and cooking for you and pushing out your babies because that’s what my mama my church my society tells me all I am

Worth

Ok you can work sure but

you gotta have that career while taking care of the house and your babies and your man

Well

Fuck you. He can cook too and clean he lives here too fuck this shit about how I have to be the one to be his Betty Crocker apron wearing slut while he

does nothing but tell me I’m

Not thin enough for him and reads Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition on the toilet pointing out all my faults compared to

Those airbrushed bitches

Fuck you society. I am a woman.

I don’t fucking consent to be owned and operated like a machine with no brain

I hope

I dream

I want

I THINK

I consent to me.

I consent for those who cannot to be who they should be

I don’t consent to his last name being the name of my master

I don’t consent to his opinion being the only one steamrolling my thoughts into

silence or his fists slamming into my

stomach into my thoughts intimidation into a shadow of who I once was before I was required by society to become lost in

Him.

I don’t consent to little boys who can’t keep their prick in their pants and excuse raping and assaulting women because oh shoot I can’t control myself and that’s just how men are

Boys will be boys

I don’t consent

To locker room pussy grabbing jackasses talking trash to look like men when real men don’t talk like that or act like that

I don’t consent to authoritarian beasts sticking their flagpoles into me like conquerors

normalizing rape behavior when it makes men into animals rubbing up against me so I can feel their hard on

I don’t consent

I don’t consent to men legislating my ovaries I don’t consent to men’s self perceived superiority I don’t consent

I don’t consent

Buffalo–a healing place (part 2 in a series called “home”)

The City of Buffalo, NY came into my life seemingly randomly in 1999.   I wanted to go home, but for various reasons, it wasn’t working out for me to go home to Duluth, Minnesota…and one day, I dreamed about a buffalo, running. When I woke up, I looked online for an apartment in Buffalo, and bing, bam boom, in an hour I’d got one.  The lady actually saved it for me for a couple of days so I could go and look at it. I loved it.  It was in a big old house, with a covered front porch, (I was soon to learn the second floor porch culture is alive and well in Buffalo–in summertime everyone is on the second floor porch sitting, or growing gardens, or barbecuing) and in two months’ time, I was moved to Buffalo.   Coming into the city, I saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree–the first live one I’d ever seen–and it seemed a powerful, positive sign that this is where I was meant to be.   I was newly divorced, with all of the confusion that goes along with that; having profoundly lost a sense of self in my life growing up which was only exacerbated by my marriage, I was coming to Buffalo having lost everything.  I did not know I would find myself both as a writer and as a woman.

Buffalo, called the”Queen City of the Lakes, positioned between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, is of course the “home” of hydroelectricity, with Nikola Tesla putting his first turbines here at Niagara Falls, whose water still power the US and Canadian sides of the river.   During the day, when I took this photo, Niagara shines with a light of its own.  Niagara, the waters of Iroquoian legend, where the Maid of the Mist, Lelawala, plummeted over the falls riding in her canoe mourning the death of her husband, and was caught by the god of thunder who brought her to live with him and nursed her back to health. She fell in love with him and married, and they both lived behind the Falls.  Gazing into the photo, the Rainbow Bridge spans the gorge and it is easy to see why the Rainbow Bridge has the name.

I spend much time these days gazing at the blue green waters of Niagara; I have come home a second time, again seeking healing.  I think about the love that is lost, and then the river reminds me of the nature we live in which is constantly renewing itself and that reminds me that maybe the love we give and the love we receive, whether it be from a lover, a husband, parents, family or friends is never really gone; it too renews itself and ebbs and surges like the water, like hope that there is something benevolent who created all we see, who created us to be one with Nature, and in Nature’s endless variety, variations and adaptions, there is always beauty to be found, even in our darkest hours, our deepest sadnesses. The leaves on the trees bud, leaf out, celebrate their lives all spring and summer,and then emerge victorious by not just fading out and falling, but exploding in the fireworks of colors that make endings not a thing to be feared, but a thing that is vibrant, and beautiful, that are not gone forever, but promise to return again anew in time; an endless cycle of life and death and rebirth.  That is what love is like, to me, even now in my sadness.  The truth of what I do not see tells me that  love is  never gone, never wasted, and will sprout and grow again in time, if we are patient, if we have faith, if we believe.   And in the meanwhile, in the between time, there is Buffalo, good friends, good foods from every culture imaginable, good music, of all varieties, art, all a celebration of all cultures and walks of life in its residents.   Life goes on during loss.  Life goes on during the blind times when we do not know where we are going; life goes on, and if we do not fear it, if we do not shut it out, it beckons endlessly for us to join in it and walk in faith to the next season and the next.

For now, this is home.  This is the place to heal, to let the waters wash over my soul.