Posted tagged ‘fear’

night terror

October 3, 2010

To shake you awake from this nightmare

Or scream you awake

Screams of my own terror

You’re going to kill yourself

You won’t stop

Until you’re dead.

I cannot

bear the thought nor can I

hold you as a child; when everything was somehow

simple

Even though that is a lie.

Chaos, insecurity, scarcity

I know my own version of that story

Everyone does-

Well, everyone we’ve loved, anyway

And the cruelest lesson of all:

Love cannot save you because you won’t

Give it to yourself

I cannot love you enough to make you

happy, content, peaceful

Though I would tear out my own heart

Just to give you one minute of

knowing

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waves

September 26, 2009

What is it about the ocean? 

I woke up in a funk this morning.  I was feeling fragile and working hard not to begin the day in a mess of tears.  There was no reason.  It’s grief or it’s happiness or it’s fear or it’s gratitude; doesn’t matter.  In those moments, I struggle to stay present lest I be lost in emotion.  Then in other moments, I am so present I get overwhelmed.  There is no balance between grace and the horrors of this world.  Grace always wins. 

I had the good fortune of being near the ocean this morning.  Sky and water bouncing into each other in a dance of fluid light. Soft sand still warm enough for bare feet, defying the coming of fall. Waves, the constant motion,fall09 069 a lullaby. I had an urge to fling myself onto the ground and make angels in the sand.  I think it was a desire to hold the earth and sea with gratitude for its gifts.  There is an indescribable peace in such moments.

When I was five, my sister Debbie took me into the waves at York Beach.  She was twelve.  I worshiped her.  The waves were solid, bone-numbing they were so cold, huge.  Debbie took me out to where they were breaking and held me in front of her. She would yell to me “here comes a rumbler, get ready!”  I was terrified and thrilled as a wall of water well over my head crashed with enough force to knock us both backward.  We tumbled in the white water.  Sometimes, she would hold onto me all the way in and we would end up in a heap on the shore.  Most of the time, we got thrashed violently; held down and spun like seaweed so that we couldn’t tell which way was up until we were thrown onto the sand.  I learned to surrender to the waves.  Fear gave way to thrill once I realized that eventually, I would crash onto the beach, find my breath, stand on solid ground. 

I realize now–this memory, which I love so well, is part of what binds me to the ocean.  On the surface, it is me and my beloved sister playing on a summer day.  It is innocence and laughter.  It is me trusting my sister, without question, enough to allow her to hold me facing waves: scary and uncontrollable.  It is learning to allow the ocean to cradle me as it overpowered me.  It is understanding that eventually, it would deliver me to solid ground.

Deeper, this memory, like the ocean, sustains me. I am drawn to both.  At the beach, I cannot be trapped in my head.  There is no will or need to cope or to seek or to struggle.  Some part of that five year old surfaces and I am trusting and innocent and allowing the ocean to carry me.  I see now that it was up to me to determine how long I waited on the shore and recovered my breath and balance before I went right back into those waves.  I see now how it has become a metaphor for life.  My anguish, my questioning…the tender ache of life’s bittersweet blessings…grief, happiness, fear, gratitude:  I am learning again to trust that each wave will eventually return me to solid ground as long as I surrender to it.

dropping stones

September 11, 2009

IMG_0845This morning, sitting in my quiet house with a cup of tea, I heard the church bells from the church on the corner tolling over and over.  At first, I thought it was the bells from the Academy up the hill, calling the kids to class, but that bell happens earlier in the day and only rings once or twice.  This was persistent.  The slow cadence was sad and ominous.  Then it occurred to me: it is September 11. 

I sent a prayer in that moment.  Blessings to those whose grief is tied to this day.  Peace to an endless conflict with eight years of countless victims.  Gratitude for safety and abundance in my own day-to-day.  I sang a song.  I remember…

That bell signaled the rhythm of the day.  It has been a day of reflection on grief and change.  When I have these moments of consideration, I imagine that I am swimming.  As I swim, I carry a bag full of burdens; stones which weigh me down and threaten to drown me.  As I meditate on a circumstance or acknowledge a care, I imagine dropping a stone into the depths.  Usually when it lands, it kicks up some emotional sludge and muddies the water so that I must stop swimming for a  minute lest I be lost.  Eventually, things settle again and I can resume swimming. It is easier as I drop my stones, easier as I release my worries to the universe with the faith that eventually the water clears and things right themselves again and I can swim unburdened. 

  I had a very long conversation with my former husband about our children and our co-parenting and our hopes for the future.  I told him his resentment is a burden for me.  He told me he is sorry for that.  I let go of that stone.

I had someone ask me if there is any possibility of reconciliation with a lost love.  There is not. I re-read letters he wrote to me and then I put them away for good.  I let go of that stone.

As I was cleaning out files and putting papers in order, I came across journals written two years ago, when my world changed so drastically and so suddenly that I am still catching my breath.  I cried tears of compassion for the woman who wrote those pages as she tumbled about in an angry ocean of grief, illness, uncertainty, loss, anger, exhaustion.  She is me, yet removed enough that I can read of her pain without experiencing it again.  I cried tears of relief that I can see the scars and remember the injury but that I know the healing and the lessons and the blessings.  I did not drown in that ocean.  I am a powerful swimmer.  I let go of stones for every circumstance and every fear that did not come true in those deep and despairing days.

And tonight, sitting in my quiet house with a cup of tea, I wait for the mud to settle and the water to clear.  When it does, I know I will move forward with intention and integrity into the blessings of this journey.  They often arrive on unexpected currents.

Rage

July 20, 2009

He speaks of rage with a soft voice.  A voice which occasionally cracks with anguish and shame as he leans against the wall and stares at the ceiling.  It is as though meeting our eyes would grant him permission to sob and so he avoids that intimacy.  He was sixteen when he worked as a camp counselor.  That was the summer he first smoked pot.  That was the summer he beat the kids–one so badly he chipped the boy’s tooth.  That was the summer he realized the power of his anger; released now and binding him to addiction. 

Now, perhaps ten years later, he speaks–whispers–of throwing his two year old into his crib when the baby wouldn’t go to sleep.  He speaks of screaming at his five year old daughter.  His suffering is not a physical need for substance.  His suffering comes of being controlled by rage.  His substance abuse is not an escape, rather a spark to engage the all- consuming fire of abuse within him.  He suffers.  As he speaks, he flogs himself with words of repentance, shame, grief, self-hatred.  He pleads for help–God, inner strength, resolve, magic, release.  

Several listeners speak after he is finished.  Advice from others who have seen their own demons manifested in the wounds they’ve inflicted.  Kindness from strangers who suffer.   Acceptance without judgement softens him, allows him to meet our eyes for a moment.  Go back and meet that sixteen year old boy.  See that he is a child himself.  See what has wounded him so badly.  See him make a choice to escape into substance.  See with compassion as he seeks relief and release and finds rage and rage and rage.  Hold that sixteen year old boy.  Soothe him with words of acceptance.  Rock him in strong arms which contain him for a moment.  Whisper forgiveness to him for hurting those children.  Love him enough to release his grip on now. 

Rage keeps him running.  He spins and spins inside his thoughts.  He’d rather be anywhere else than trying to lull his daughter to sleep.  She is not cooperating.  His frustration swells as his chest tightens.  He shakes with effort trying to rein in this familiar terror.  Fear, consequences, madness, shame, guilt, torment, heat, hatred: tornado within.  No substance fuels this.  There is no will to conquer.  Exhausted. 

He surveys this moment.  What is happening?  His wife is downstairs with a friend.  He feels cheated by the demands of this child who will not go to bed.  She wants a story.  They are on vacation.  He wants adult companionship, wants to win, wants compliance.  She wants comfort, wants a familiar bed, wants him. 

Surrender.  He chooses a book, climbs onto the bed with this little girl he loves.  Surrender.  He reads, controls his rage-tight voice.  Surrender.  She responds to him with gladness.  Surrender.  He is not hurting her.  Surrender.  They laugh together at a silly part.  Surrender.  She snuggles into him.  Surrender.  He holds her, strokes her hair, whispers to her.  Surrender.  She falls asleep.  Surrender.  He is calm.  Surrender.  He finds the address for a meeting in the morning.  Surrender.

One day at a time.