Home with no name

Home with no name, this charcoal deep airy lost place. Cut bonds and cords flit in the wind, a thousand tentacles. Sad hearts stand in quiet corners, lost, trembling, cold, bent, buckled, they weep – they weep – they weep.

Now, stumbled to standing, I’ll split the heavens for you, snare the brightest sun. Across the pond out of reach your heart glistens warm gold love. I am now, finally, bound by nothing but me. If I could only cleave the pond in two,

find myself lost no more.

for jch

Advertisements

For the lost too soon

I send this dream on the wings of angels

On notes clear and heartbeats strong touching

The hearts of distant ones tears of loss

Can we not rescue return the lost too soon

*

This heart of mine runs shallow to deep

But it runs unflinching true through every depth

Not once shying from the pain its caused

Nor the joy its brought too few too few

*

This song of mine meant for the voices in heaven

Knows humble notes and proud ones too

Knows happiness and the gut kick of pain

Knows the chorus of unblinking love loyal

*

This dream of mine I send on the wings of angels

On notes clear and heartbeats strong touching

The hearts of distant ones tears of loss

Can we not rescue return the lost too soon

*

In loving memory of DJR

Beware the distance makers

You reach a point in life, I have, where you just say straight out what it is you have to say, response be damned.  I do know what I want to say here, I only hope I am able to say it.  Let me start with this. When life inflicts pain on me to the point it buckles my emotional-knees and takes air from the room it is not lost on me that I have the power to leave this life if and when I choose. It is not a top-of-the-list choice for me, but it’s one I’m acutely aware of and, at times hold fast to. Sometimes enough  is really enough.

Some years ago a close friend of mine, a woman who faced a challenge with weight, told me some of those who put on too much weight do so to protect themselves, to keep others at a distance. Over the years I’ve recognized a plethora of habits and behavioral idiosyncrasies in people, behaviors, that do exactly that.  I call them distance makers.

It is unlikely I am saying something you don’t already know when I say intimacy can be scary. It can feel, for very real reasons were one privy to the details of someone’s history, life threatening. So, believe me, it is not as if I don’t understand the existence and need for distance makers. I have enormous compassion for those whose distance makers protect them (or so they believe) on the one hand, yet rob them of much of the life experience they deserve to have on the other. A closer examination reveals yet another prevalent pattern when it comes to distance makers. The distance makers that  applied yesterday may not apply today. In fact, what once protected you in life may now pulverize your life and, not at all incidentally, pulverize the lives of others. In one of his letters John Steinbeck wrote, “We’re creatures of habit, a very senseless species.” He was right.

Distance makers are like anything else, there are healthy and unhealthy ones. Principles come to mind. People espousing racism and other forms of bigotry are not going to be found in my personal life. Nor are those who are active alcoholics, addicts, people who are violent (emotionally or physically), and so forth.  But then there are the unhealthy distance makers rooted so deep in the fear of loss or fear of being hurt – physically abused, raped, shot, stabbed, assaulted – again! that we miss the mark and drive off the very people who love us the most.

I’ve seen friendships, relationships, and marriages shattered to pieces by distance makers. Like anyone my age, I’m 60, I’ve experienced my fair share of loss. Losing someone I love from my life immobilizes me more than anything else I think. Takes the air out of the day. When someone I love dies, I swear to God there is less sun in the sky for a time. Sometimes I think the sun itself is mourning. Losing someone I love as a result of unhealthy distance makers is brutal; the word pain doesn’t come close to covering it.

Beware the distance makers, they may rob you of the life you want and deserve to have. Getting back up gets harder not easier over time, at least it gets harder for me.

Dialogue on a threatened friendship

– Good to see you.

– It’s nice to be seen.

– So, we’re here to talk about recent developments with a friend of yours.

– We are.

– Still friends with this person?

– That depends entirely on this person.

– Their name?

– We’ll use a fictitious one.  Jane.

– Okay,  Jane. (checking notes) The two of you used to be in a relationship up until about a year ago and then became friends. It’s been about a year since you’ve seen each other but throughout the year you’ve talked on the phone quite a bit. You went out with a couple of women you did tell Jane. What was that like?

– I was worried. You always wonder if a friendship that used to be a romantic relationship  will hold-up when one or both begin to explore other romantic possibilities . But it was alright when I told her.

– Why worried?

– I think two things are tied for first and foremost. I didn’t want to hurt her and I didn’t want to lose the friendship. But it never occurred to me to be anything but honest with her. While honesty is not always easy and dealing with the ramifications of being honest are not always easy, it’s always easier than dishonesty and dealing with the ramifications of that. You start misleading someone about who you are or what you are doing in life, especially those who love you, one misrepresentation gets built on another and the story never ends happily.

– So, what’s happened lately that’s caused you to lock the door on her?

– Not lock the door. Protect myself. Door’s not locked. I blocked phone and social media for now. Hopefully not for always. Email is open.

– Okay, you’re protecting yourself.  What was the turning point?

– When you know someone well you learn their patterns in life. Their habits. When patterns of behavior change it means something. It doesn’t necessarily mean something bad or negative, but changes in someone’s regular pattern of behaviors mean something. So I noticed changes. Historically Jane is a very active user of Facebook, throughout the week, though with her current job, less so, and on the weekend. So I began to notice that were blocks of time on Facebook for example, on the weekends, where there was no activity. On top of that there were times she would say she’d call and simply didn’t. Another change in pattern. I began to think she was dating or getting involved with someone so when I asked about this, she reacted with anger.

– Would it have made you angry if she’d been dating?

– Not at all.

– And this last weekend there’s been a visit planned?

– She had said she was going to visit this last weekend but in the week prior it became clear she was looking for a way out. She wasn’t saying this directly, but she was looking for a way out. She also sent an email she later acknowledged was abusive. When someone, anyone, starts writing me things in anger like “because not everyone’s an asshole like those other mo fo’s” or “fuck you” I disengage. I’ve got two choices in that moment, fire back or pull back. I’d rather pull back. She was furious that I’d sent an email  saying I was concerned she wasn’t being entirely honest about what was happening in her life which, as it turns out, happened to be exactly the case. She finally said she’d been on Match, which is fine. Said she’d met a nice man but sent him on his way because she realized she wasn’t ready to get into a relationship. Also fine. Then,  a day or two later she wrote to tell me she’s decided to enter into a relationship with a former boyfriend.

– She sounds over the place when it comes to relationships.

– Not necessarily so at all. It may very well be she was all over the place when it came to being up front with me.  I’m hoping that’s the case. I’d much rather her relationship with this man turns out wonderfully for both of them and that the problem was being up front with a friend. Having said all that, I’m not going to accept dishonesty or verbal abuse from anyone as a matter of course. But I’d rather reject the behavior first and give the person some slack than cut them off completely.

– Now, I’ve known you a long time.

– Longer than anyone.

– And I know Jane crossed a line when it came to the subject of suicide. You’d told her knowing that option was there was comforting for you, and she accused you of trying to make her feel guilty which I know was not the case.

– The subject of ending one’s life, suicide, with me, is kind of like the subject of war with Michael.

– Your closest friend.

– Michael was a Marine. Lost his legs in Vietnam. Saw shit people who haven’t been there can’t even imaging. Unless you’ve been to war, you’ve got no business bring up the subject with someone whose been there with anything but respect. I’ve lost a brother, mother and birth-mother to suicide, a childhood friend, and a guy I used to work with. I won’t tolerate anyone walking into that subject with me with anything but respect. She knows better, or she should.  The very fact I talked about it with her was testimony the level of closeness and safety I felt with her.

– Why are you open to continuing this friendship?

– Rarely does anyone deserve to be defined by a few weeks of behavior in their life, a series of unhealthy choices. Certainly not Jane. I’ve known her for awhile and know a lot about her life, her history. She is a remarkable person in many ways. But right now the ball’s in her court. She steps up to the plate and makes amends like we all should do when we misstep or lose our cool, we’re fine. All is well. I look forward to meeting her new boyfriend. She doesn’t or can’t, there’s nothing I can do about that. She’ll either figure out it was safe to be honest and open with me or she won’t. My responsibility is to be honest, try to make the healthiest choices on the table, knowing that by doing so they’ll be easier to live with down the road.

– What if she does nothing now but down the road reaches out to you?

– Door’s open. Honesty, amends, taking responsibility is the way to go for all of us.  Now, having said that, there is this possibility. If life badly wounds her or someone she loves and I can help, I will. But friendship won’t resume at that point absent the honesty and amends. But there is no way I wouldn’t help her or one of her daughters or anyone she loves if I could.

– It sounds like in your core you’re still her friend.

– You’re right. I am. But whether it can ever be an active friendship again is not up to me.

– Sitting down for this dialogue was an act of friendship, wasn’t it?

– You do what you can for those you love.

Love ain’t easy, but…

Fully giving and accepting love is not always the easiest thing to do. It can be downright scary for understandable reasons given the rough sledding so many of us of have gone through in life. However, as far as I’m concerned to love and to be loved is life’s most precious gift. Especially love between people. I make a point of singling out love between people because,  if you’ll permit me the use of a cliché (there’s a reason it is a cliché), love is everywhere.  To wit, I love books, good writing. There are written passages so beautiful they bring me to tears; I’d hold them in my arms if I could. There’s music I love. Music so beautiful my heart beats faster and sweet-shiver chills run up and down my spine. And then, of course, nature herself. Nature is the whole of life and love is a part of the whole. Love is nature’s finest creation, the ability to give and receive love,  its most singular reward.

For the so many of you (and I am in your number) whose hearts and souls are bruised and bloodied by love lost, by the absence of love, by the slings and arrows of those so damaged they’ve come to believe they are incapable of healthy love, by those so internally mangled and misshapen they are, in fact, cruel, I say to you, don’t lose hope. The wounds of history deserve only so much decision making power. Our histories teach us caution. Good. Yes. They teach us to have  the patience to discover what is real and what is not, what is true and what is false. Good. Yes. But they do not deserve so much decision making power they make us shut down, enact the off switch.

So, my dear reader. Give yourself permission to love and receive love knowing that no love between people can be if we do not accept each other and ourselves for who we are. Again, no love between can be if we do not accept each other and ourselves for who we are.

And then there is this ineffable truth; you deserve to be loved and you deserve to give love. Perhaps in this moment you are unclear on this or don’t believe it. Perhaps you’ve been so thoroughly pulverized by the brutality in life you think it impossible. Perhaps you grapple with a combination of all of these. Well, I’ve got good news. Because it may feel impossible does not mean it is impossible, it means that’s how it feels. Because you may, at this moment, be unclear, does not mean clarity is not there for you to discover – it is. And because, right now, you don’t believe it does not mean it is not worthy of belief. Consider, for a few moments, the content of the last sentence which comes right now.  This piece was written, with love, for you.