Tag Archives: personal essay

My sanctuaries

My father gave me chess and unlocked the door to reading. My mother and father opened the wondrous world of books and classical music for me. I loved certain pieces of classical music so much, my request to have them playing on the record player so I could listen as I went to sleep was rarely, if ever, denied. These beautiful places of sanctuary have always welcomed me, no matter the moment my life.

It is true that life can wallop any of us so hard the pain puts us out of action, for a time. Time, for me, in which I can’t always find my way back to books, chess, music. However, it is never lost on me that they’re there, waiting. They never abandon me.

***

For SCK & VBK

No one is disposable

If you are treating someone as if they are disposable, stop it. If you are being treated as if you are disposable, stop it. No human being is disposable. What’s more, a healthy relationship of any kind is impossible.

If anyone treats someone else as if they are disposable,  they don’t just wound the other person, they wound themselves! What makes this true? The pattern of treating others as if they are disposable makes it impossible for other person to be close to you.  This pattern of behavior is what I call a distance-maker. Something a person does that keeps others as at a distance.

I’m 65. I’ve been on my own since December 1969 when my mother had me put in reform school and disowned me, having me declared an “emancipated minor” meaning that I was the sole person responsible for keeping me alive. My father, the greatest gift my life has given me, died in August 1969.  I was disowned by my mother and never allowed back into the family again. I know what it is to be treated as if I was disposable. I have a nephew, Joe. A beautiful a human being. A really good man.  The narrative of his life is his to tell. That said, I think it is a safe bet he knows what it is to be treated as if he was disposable being, just as deep  as I do.

For those stuck in this pattern, the questions are not, why am I  bad person? Or, why am I  mean ? You’re not bad or mean. The behavior is mean, but a behavior does not define the all of you. Perhaps the more salient question you might want to ask is this.  How did I come to believe (how was I taught) that intimacy between people was dangerous for me?

Two more thoughts. First, it is more likely than not that those treating others as if they are disposable don’t realize that’s what they’re doing.  Second, it is likely those caught in this behavior’s web fat the moment have been treated as if they’re disposable somewhere back down the line. They deserve compassion too.

A more beautiful place

This holiday season, as they call it, I am thinking  and feeling about my family. For some reason knowing you’re likely in the home-stretch of things allows you a sharper awareness of the immense love you feel for family members, most all gone from life. I’m grateful for my instincts because I don’t mind being present in the experience.

Family life ended for me in December, 1969,  two months after my 16th birthday; an essay for another time.

Of course there are tears, at times, and, of course, there are momentary flashes of fury. Fury at the loss, at how long its been, fists clenched, and, literally, nothing and no one deserving of a blow exists on this planet. The stone cold fact is, nothing and no one deserving of that blow has ever existed on this planet.

So I allow the feeling of fury until it passes. It always does.

These days I’m thinking of my mother and father, ,Grandma and Grandpa, Mommom and Poppop (my mother’s parents), Uncle Harry, Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Peter, Marjorie, my sister, Rebecca, my childhood friends, a number gone now. My brother, Bobby. I think of my other mother, Leona, my birth-mother — a better human being has never walked the earth. We were  reunited on January 8, 1987. We were emotional and spiritual twins. She was an angel. I bet she still is!

Now, if there is something after this life, it damn well better include more time with these beautiful human beings  or else I’m not interested. When I walk through the beautiful museum hallways in my mind, all the above are there, masterpieces all.

There’s never been a more beautiful place than family.

Getting comfortable

What is it I am home about? He asked this out loud in his kitchen as he poured his second cup of morning coffee. He could not focus. He knew this and wished it wasn’t so. He knew wishing warranted genuine sympathy and had about as much influence over life as a tree stump.

These days he felt himself to be a scramble of movements, tics, of a sort. Not a tic like some sudden facial flinch, but a shifting of the shoulders, a turn of the head, a stretch of the neck, a shift in sitting position. A restlesness coated in the sizzle of terror. Sometimes he’d notice himself walking back and forth from one room to another, a small trip in a small apartment, talking to his dog, a damn fine listener by any measure.

Movement. That was the thing. Move. Stay in motion. This is not an easy task when a lot of the world scares the bejeezus out of you. Movement, he was sure, was key to feeling better and, if he got really lucky, happy, on occasion. 

Getting comfortable in life was a never ending process.

The Sweet Taste of Morning

The first hour, the delicious sounds of birds singing, the light only just making its way into the day, water on for that exquisite first cup of coffee. This morning the ground wet from through-the-night thunderstorms, more glory! A look through binoculars at the vegetable garden (don’t want to miss anything), smiling at the sight of newborn tomatoes. From nothing but a seed they are? Well then, aren’t we all?

Then it comes, that familiar unwelcome chill of fear, a feathery slightness to it, momentary. I am in my home, the place to be. Water ready now, coffee made. This morning in my Hummingbird mug. My father and I deciding so many years ago that Hummingbirds are signs of good luck. The feather touch of fear still there I go stand by my books and the fear, like a frightened animal, flees. The comfort of books, the comfort of books runs so deep. All of them are my friends, with me always, each there own world living safely in my home. Good company always.

And I know this sweet tasting morning is extra special. I am seven years sober today. I am alive and I am me, fully me savoring the sweet taste of morning. It doesn’t get any better than this.