Once Upon an Albatross

 

Red-faced

one way and 

another

I wait

and wait

and wait

The burn will blister 

and ooze

soon enough

Unexpected 

since I wasn’t the 

one in the fire

But the gods

do get a laugh

out of their 

distribution of

gifts

and 

grievances

So I wait

maiden 

to 

crone

mother

to 

dowager

virgin 

to

harpy

Face 

like acid

heart

like thunder

brain

a calvary

of untrained beasts

Who are they

charging against?

The battle field is 

empty

war declared

then abandoned

long ago

So I rage

against the

bare balustrades

and the

destitute dales

of my 

defeated mind

 A horse

A horse

my kingdom

for an escape

from this hell

And I’d kill the beast

with my expectations

without every

laying a hand

Maybe instead

turn and 

plan a path

alone

So Sensitive

So Sensitive

I will never be grateful enough for my anxiety and depression.

That’s what I remind myself.

My anxiety and depression function well. Top of the class—if there was a grading scale for such things, which there isn’t and there positively should never be. It’s mental illness, not a spelling bee or a discus event. Luckily, I do therapy and Celexa because I have zero skills for phonics or field competition.

I have high-functioning anxiety and depression. So I’ve been told and which probably appears in a medical note somewhere. Except in the notes of the therapist who told me I wasn’t depressed because I showered every day. Before he recommend that I work out more. After we’d talked about running. But he meant lifting. Bro. Then showed me his bicep and told me to feel it.

Didn’t go back to talk to that particular mental health professional. The ugly white patriarchy is snarlinglingly pervasive, friends.

The gratitude should come from the gift that I am able to shower every day. I can go to work and take care of my son. That could change tomorrow. That is not the life so many others with mental illness survive. They lose hair because it goes unwashed. Which might seem incidental when they lose jobs and partners and children and their lives.

I make it through. I’m not pretty doing it. But I’m lucky enough to manage. Do I cry at work? Sure. I’m somehow able to do it in bathrooms and storerooms and can bounce back quickly and no one is the wiser. Except when I get caught and then I have to explain. That’s a fun day.

Certainly, I won’t assume to define anyone else’s depression or anxiety. For me, the depression is feeling alone, unseen and worthless. Anxiety is feeling that everyone is watching and judging and that the worst of every second is imminent. And then feeling worthless. Yes. It is as fun as it sounds.

Work families are like home families. You spend enough time with people, even if you love them, personality quirks coalesce and then separate. Aggressively.

My anxiety and depression do not tolerate teasing. It’s silly. Of course it is. “Do not tolerate.” I sound like a boring behavioral guide posted in a low-end dog training course handout.

By “do not tolerate”, I mean I freak out. By the outdated and moderately offensive phrase “freak out”, I mean I cry and spiral into my dark place. Because someone teased me. Teasing that I know was meant in simple, silly, sisterly way.

Weakness revealed.

And the panic hits like a punch in the gut from a jealous, perceived-overlooked sibling.

I’m right, my mind screams. I TOLD YOU SO!!!! Every awful, negative, hurtful, self-deprecating, harmful, reductive, critical, crushing thought I carry in my head, every hour of every day, is real. That easy, breezy giggle meant to break up a tense and challenging work afternoon breaks me.

Ridiculous and unreasonable. What adult behaves like this? What about the grade school trope where we tell kids to laugh along with teasing? Laugh along and don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh first, laugh loudest and they can’t hurt you.

Anxiety and depression don’t understand that. They don’t really adhere to dinner table or playground rules of “they tease you because they like you.” At least that’s how my brain bubbles react.

They freak the fuck out.

A joke about talking too fast or looking like a lost sheep and I’m in so much physical and emotional pain that I get light-headed.

Personality like that, and it’s a curiosity why I avoid all social gatherings and friendships, huh? You should see me on New Year’s Eve. Hint: you’d have to be under my cover to find me and also I’ll be sleeping.

That’s okay. I’ve come to accept that. I’m not the butterfly. I’m the moth. Flying alone, bumping perpetually into the light that I love but can’t quite access.

I’m okay. I continue to strive to be grateful for my particular strand of anxiety and depression that keep we upright and moving forward, when I’m not flat on my back or sliding down my wall on my way there.

But there’s carpet to catch me. Of course, I’ll end the day with a rash when the pile is too rough.

Because I’m so sensitive.

Union Jack

Union Jack

Straight lines

Crisp crosses

Bows a frown

When it sees me

A distant daughter

Opposite of austere

With constant

Tears threatening

Like a thunderstorm

Over Westminster

Every

Day

Weeping

Expected

Like

The changing of the

Guards

Upper lip so drooped

Its thinness a gift finally

Less weight to drag

A smoother slide for

Snot from crying noses

A dissociated joker

Of self-depreciation

Waiting to be stopped

At the gate

An ancestral Welsh mother

Fingers her own hankerchief

Embarrassed for me

I want to revolt

Throw taxations

Into the sea

And be free

But I can’t

Jumping in the

Sea before

I change sides

Even understanding the

Wisdom

Of reconciliation

I can’t see past

My own

Poisoned

Constancy

Dig It Out

The universe gifted me a gorgeous poem from Amanda Lovelace.

Gifted is my attempt at levity and positivity.

And not being so much of a face-down mess.

I was trolling Instagram and drowning in the thick, dirty seas of jealousy and I saw her post.

I love this poet.

I love her work. And her truth. And her anger.

Mostly her anger.

This one reached out and grabbed me.

It speaks about the truth of knowing that no one else can dig out our sadness.

I was hit in the heart with the proverbial blade of that spade.

My vision of that is that no one can take away what another person left behind. That rancid trash has been heaped, and it’s staying. No new neighbor is going to help haul that away. Your mess now.

Another take, is that can the same person return to the site where they dropped hurt and heaviness and take it away.

One they’ve left it, they’ve left it. Roots are set.

Their removal tools will never be as sharp and quick as their planting rig. Your mess now.

You need to fire up your own chain saw to tear that fucker out.

Dig it out

The shit and sadness left

Let them lease the land

Tender and toiled

Turned over and

Spread with shit

To make the hardest thick.

And now I play farmer?

I kill things that depend on the ground.

I don’t cultivate them.

So what do I do with

This stony fill?

Mound it intro a gravestone,

Leave it for dead?

Play house and

Put up a foundation?

Lug it around for days

And days

And days

Until you forget

What it was like to walk around

Without the weight of a corpse

In your soul?

I can’t recommend that.

Too fucking hard.

I’m old and my joints

will not oblige.

They won’t haul it away.

And you can’t take it with you.

So leave it.

Dig it out.

Make a messy, gnarly pile.

Let the maggots and the beetles

Have their day.

Dig it out.

Leave it there.

Don’t look at it again.

But take the shovel.

Would Just

Thinking a lot about not fitting.

In place.

In arms.

In hearts.

How we say we’ll be happy if we “would just” …

We lose so much light in the cave of

would

just.

Would Just

You are

You would be

So perfect

If you would just

Adjust the smallest

Turn of your phrase

And the cut of your dress

Dress not for me

It’s for them

But so that I can see

See how much you could

Accomplish

Could if you would

Just attend

To the bends of

My will

Will you be available

Asking out of

Expectation

Not anticipation

Because the answer

Is no

Taking back you

For

I

Know already what I have to do

Who I need to be

Because that’s not on

Your list

Mind

So I persist

Me

And my heart

And my dreams

Fixed on our shelf

Because yourself

And your matter

Are what matters?

Time to scatter that

Shelf to the floor

Remind

I

Eyes to see and remember

The parts of me

that would

just

Make magic and

Absolution

Fulfill and

dissolution of fears

And defenses

Cause applause and

Reverence’s if you

I

Would just

Believe that

there isn’t perfect

If you would just

But there is beauty

And awe and

Spectacular love in

I

So if you

I

Would just

Trust

In me

That

Would

Just

Be

everything.

And I

I would just

Be

Perfect.

Thirteen Steps to Christmas

 

 

Steps to Christmas

 

To be a child alone at Christmas

Waiting on a step

For a parent,

For a present,

For this day to sparkle like

The songs and the lights

 

On two trees

One real and substantial

The other

Oh-so-artificial

In its attempts to

Mimic real

Function and beauty.

 

Must be so frustrating,

Waiting on those steps.

 

My thirteen crooked,

Dusty, thread-bare ones

To their twelve evenly

Planed pine planks,

 

And later

Alone in the back seat of cars

Mine, his

 

Looking at the decorated doors

Down the road

Back the same again.

 

A different Santa

A different holiday waiting at each end.

 

Sitting on opposite steps

Staring out opposing windows

 

Dreading goodbye

Eager for hello

 

So when the last is opened

And no one is playing

Around your tree

And your steps are empty,

Except for you,

 

And you just might stay there

Until December 27th

Because that when you get your Christmas,

You want to burn

That fake plastic tree

To a melted mound

Dense enough to choke a reindeer. .

 

This happens every holiday

Every season

Every day.

 

Lovers

Fighters

Families

Chosens

 

Separated by steps

And steps

Climbed up

And fallen down.

 

Every one

A mile

And a ragged breath

Until the next one.

 

Where I don’t have a leg to stand on

Because he’s a year older

And there is no Santa

And he’s ascending beyond

 

So, I sit on the steps

Waiting.

 

I’ll bring g a pillow next time.

 

My carpet is old and thin.

Maybe bring coffee.

Or better, wine.

Some yarn to tangle the time

Until my Christmas.

 

And this year,

Maybe a gift.

Maybe someone to wait with.

 

So I’m not waiting.

 

Living.

Step

By step.

 

Letting the

weight

wait

be taken on one leg

before pushing off on the next.

 

If he’s willing.

 

If we’re willing.

 

To take steps.

 

Steps toward.

 

My steps.

 

My new novel Drowning Above Water is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon. 

It’s Always Something

Like many women of my rapidly advancing age, I loved Gilda Radner. I watched old SNL skits on VHS, while eating popcorn with my dad. He and Gilda helped me learn what funny was. 

When I later became a reader, I devoured her memoir “It’s Always Something”, probably still while eating popcorn. The book was funny and heartbreaking. A passage always stuck with me. 

When Gilda was advancing down the floor, dancing with cancer, she told of lying in bed at night with Gene Wilder. She relayed her memory of once again crying, being scared and needing someone to hold her and make it all okay. 

She revealed, to my teenage disgust, that on one dark and lonely night, Gene could no longer do those things. He too was tired. He was scared. He needed someone to rub his own cheek with words of solace, and make it all okay. 

How dare he! I spat and eye rolled and huffed as only a disappointed privileged teen can. How could he ever consider not being there to the very last curl of his hair for Gilda Radner!

I didn’t get it. 

Now I do. 

I watched my own dad die of cancer. I watched my mother care for him as he slowly did. My father needed the physical care. The mental care. 

But so did my mother. 

It’s not easy to be the caregiver or the partner. I know that. Sometimes, it really is easier to be the patient. As hard and callous as that sounds. 

I watched her do it before for him. Before cancer. She laid with him through anxiety and mental illness. I know there were nights that she didn’t have any more to give. When she was bone-tired from her feet to the end of pin-straight hair. When she needed someone to tell her it would be okay. 

There was no one. 

Last night, I lay there like my dad. 

I was the one hurting. 

Again. 

And I was the one who asked to be held and comforted and coddled. 

Again. 

And I never thought for a moment to consider if the one I was asking might not need some care, too. 

They did. 

I forget. I avoid. I neglect. Not on purpose. Not at all. But because while anxiety and depression hurts. And hurts. And then hurts even more. To have your own brain and body rebel and scream lies. It hurts. I was too busy hurting to see. And remember. 

It hurts to be the one watching. 

It hurts to give and give and never get any return. To reaffirm and encourage and try to lift up someone who seems to only want to drag themselves as far down in the pits as their claws will carry them. 

And that’s what I do. What many of us with unquiet minds do. And sometimes we bring the ones holding us down with us. 

Because it is always something. It’s work. It’s a kid. It’s a bill. It’s a failure. It’s a successs that’s not success enough. It’s a wonderful weekend of love and magic that your brain tells you to fight against for no good reason, only that you can’t believe it actually happened. 

Today, I want to remember. To be thankful for the love I take that is so freely given. Again and again. Even when I don’t see or believe it. To see, really see when someone is watching me and maybe hurting too. I want to go into the pit alone if I need, but alone. And I want to have strong, free arms to grab hold, to keep them from going into the same dark. 

That’s what love is. 

Being there. 

Seeing. 

Believing. 

Remembering every little something.