Poetry, “The Smiling Shield”

     This coming friday will begin 2017’s “Last Fridays” poetry readings which will be available to watch on:

               Periscope Channel Live at 11:45 am (central) @PPPoetryProject2017 (*formerly @Cookies4Scopers)

               YouTube Channel for repeat viewing and additional videos

               https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3IeqDs6G3MgtXG02aT3bvg

     “Last Fridays” will be an open mic style of reading of the previous poems posted each month on friday. These are not heart and flowers poetry. Some are NSFW (not safe for work) so if listening to them please use earbuds. These poems are written about the complexity of my inner life after it was changed by PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury and life with Multiple Sclerosis since my diagnosis in 1992.

Today’s poem is titled “The Smiling Shield” 
I wake in the night covered in sweat
Memories fill my mind leaving me shaking
Fear consumes me
Fear overwhelms me
Thoughts, memories of pain filled moments
My body flinches in response
To long remembered hurts
Stinging pain striking again and again
Solid hurts which I thought would never end
My body flinches in response
To thoughts of laying in bed aching from bruises
Ones which would take days to show themselves
No, I’m okay, I’m fine, I’m doing alright
Smile so no one knows
Smile so no one will ever ask 
What is wrong?
Smile smile smile and smile some fucking more damnit!
No one must ever know
No one can ever know my shame
I lay in bed my body covered in sweat
I lay in bed and hold my pillow close
The only comfort there in these moments
As I settle down and those memories fade away
I awaken and remember
I am free now from that long ago pain
I am free now from all those hurt filled times
I am free to make my life what I want it to be
There is nothing which can or will stop me
From sharing these words
For all to hear
For all to know
That smile?
That smile you were so entertained by?
That smile you were so happy to see?
That smile?
It was my shield which hid away all my pain
Pain you still choose to believe had been a lie
Pain and hidden bruises all covered up
Made pretty by makeup and perfume
All the time pain of the deepest kind
Had been hidden away 
Behind the smiling shield

 

 

Personal journal 01.20.2017

      I sit and stare at the screen with frustration in my heart. One piece of artwork continues to elude finishing. It is one I have done over and over until my heart hurts, my spirit hurts, my hands hurt from the work. Sketch after sketch and I really do not even know why I keep pursuing this one piece. It is not dissimilar to the vision inside my mind from my 20’s which will not leave me. No matter what I have been through it is there taunting me until I sketch it again and again. Now there is this new one and I have no clear understanding of why it is this way yet again with a very different piece.      My mind continues to nudge me to create this piece and I keep attempting to escape it’s touch. This is not unlike those moments when people in public touch me and invade my space. I want to run and yet I will myself to stay in place, to smile instead of moving into a protective stance.

      Not long ago I was at an art event and for once was enjoying the company I was with. I stood looking at a painting which intrigued me as a group of people crowded past. As the group passed I felt a hand very deliberately pass across the top of my buttocks and slip down. This astonished me in that I had previously believed this type of behavior was no longer going to happen. I’ve taken a stand, several years ago against this type of behavior and yet right there in the middle of an enjoyable moment? There it was, stealing away the joy I felt and ever since I’ve not been comfortable going to any other similar events.

      I want to, I need to go to more public events and yet I still feel this ‘thing’ inside me holding me back. Not fear, most would think it is fear. It is this other ‘thing’ the one of being made to feel as if I am only an object to touch, to ridicule, to try and get close to and it is this ‘thing’ I buck against. I want to be free of this and yet this ‘thing’ pursues me constantly in the most unexpected places.

      It is the one which says I have no say in who touches my body or comes into my space. It is the ‘thing’ which says I am nothing but an object to own, to use and to discard at will because I have no worth.

      When did the world circle back to this place? I had really thought all the incredible moments which had brought about so much change were here to stay.

 

Poetry Wednesday “The Glimmer”

A glimmer slips through the carefully created walls of my creation

This light I can see shine with it’s dust mote filled rays

I wonder when it happened?

This crack in my demeanor

My wonderfully fashioned surround

Which took so long to make

I sit back in astonishment watching, waiting

The light shines upon my face and I close my eyes

There is no heat, only the light I see in spite of closed lids

I sigh deeply wondering if I am ready, could I be ready

It is all simply a moment as I sit back and observe

The light moves across my face, my lips, my neck and down across my breasts

I watch as it moves away from me until it is nearly gone

It changes into a different light tinged with grey and I know it is now moonlight

It also moves across my body and back up to my face

I let it caress my lips and step back out of the light to simply observe it’s beauty

My mind allows me to step back and only watch as I see every nuance of this light

So beautiful as it moves softly, slowly until it becomes the bright light of day

I lay upon the ground and with my eyes closed I wait patiently

This time I will enjoy what I have let in

This time can simply be the beginning of what will be

If only I allow this shimmer of light to expand

Until it’s warmth moves across my body and I welcome it in.

A Perception Series, “The Upturned Cart”

      People circle back into our lives and with them they bring all the previously held ideas of who you were to them the last time they were in your life. Maybe it’s the thought of the past happiness, or maybe it was even the promise of sex. But reality is what was there before is no longer in existence.  
      Oh the previous ‘spark’ might seem to be there, on their part, but after so many times of bait and switch it’s no longer there for you. What’s worse is when someone is determined to make it appear as if you, yes you, were the one who has circled back in or attempted to make contact.

      I’m uncertain what is worst. The person circling back in the first place or how they bring all this drama along in tow. It’s like a dance with all the choreography in place, everything ticking along perfectly. Partners twirl in each other’s arms. Leaps carry them across the room back into welcoming arms with the joyful smiles along with the welcoming embraces. In the midst of all this wonder is the lumbering one who staggers back into the fray out of nowhere shoving their partner away harshly. Then with a rough tug pulls them smartly back into their arms.

      This disjointed mess amongst the beautiful movements of all the others causes everyone to stop in their tracks to stare, to whisper and to finally ignore the sight as they go back to their dance. Eventually the one in the middle, the object of ‘desire’ is left standing alone destitute of all love, all emotions distanced within themselves as they bear the shame of being left yet again. Left after never having sought out the lumbering partner in the first place.

      All the joy from the previous solo dancing is gone. All that is left behind is the shame of momentarily thinking the dance could again be one filled with the joy of a welcome embrace. The shame covers you with the knowledge that everyone believes you were the one who sought out a reconnection. Even when the reality is far from this ‘truth’ all believe, it doesn’t matter when in the end you are still seen as the bad ‘guy’ in the story.

      Somehow the story becomes crafted in such a way to make you an object of ridicule and the derision weighs heavy as you go through your day.

      The days, which had previously been filled with moments of joy, of silly times are now ones where the mere act of waking is unwelcome. All regular activities become forced and you begin to wonder why this happened in the first place. Each day which had been a gift indeed becomes one where the gift is opened each day with a heavy heart and false gaiety.

      It’s an unwelcome state of affairs indeed. One which could have been avoided in the first place by simply being unkind and short with the person in question.

       Instead, with embarrassment hidden away, you smile to hide all the hurt away yet again as you try to find the joy you’d only just begun embracing.

Wednesday Poetry “You Thought I Was…” 

     This was written as a response to Julie Jordan Scott’s 5 for 5 brain dump prompt. I wrote it rather quickly and live streamed the reading. However, I took more time to craft it, added to it and wrote some more. I really love this prompt so much and the poem Julie read by Anna Akhmatova held so much strength! 

(This poem will be read at the open mic for IAO Gallery in OKC during it’s 1st Sunday’s open mic portion.)
You thought I was…..

You thought I was your fantasy, your dream girl

You thought I was like all those others

You thought I was the answer to all your problems

You thought I was your one and only

You thought I would be your secret

All your thoughts, your dreams are clay

I am not what you think I am

I am not your fantasy

I am not your dream

I am not your secret

I am not your fix

You thought I was going to be something I am not

You thought I was so perfect

You thought you could put me up high out of reach

You put me upon the pedestal of your creation

I am not this person you believe me to be

I am only me and I am not like any other

The uniqueness of my creativity fills me to overflowing

It is inside me pushing to rush out in an explosion

Every time I pick up the pencil, the brush, the stylus or begin to type

My own version of perfection becomes sharp

Becomes so clear

Ready to be seen

But I am not what you thought I was

I am only me.

A Perception Series: Victim Blaming in the Positivity Only Zone

       Like anyone I love uplifting messages and positivity of happy posts, tweets, etc. Yet, when I read through them only focusing on all the ‘positivity’ messages I see a trend of victim blaming. It is as if the underlying message is this: if someone is going through a bad time? It is of their own creation. They must have thought incorrectly and brought about the bad into their life. It’s victim blaming of the worst kind.  
       It’s an insidious type of blaming.

        First it’s slipping in making you feel good with all the years of family and friends who seemed to ‘have it all’ because they were always ‘so positive’, ‘so happy’. Their advice was always to think ‘correctly’ walk the path of never letting anyone in who makes you feel all ‘down’ or ‘negative’.

       My question about this thinking is “does it have any resemblance to life’s reality?” The overall message is if I don’t toe the line of only having good things, uplifting things and oh yes abundant money things happen? I’m O U T of the person’s life.

       I experience a lot of judgements made upon my appearance. Ones I am not even going into but the most outstanding one? Is one I have no control over. The facial droop from the brain injury causing the right side of my mouth to droop downward in a permanent frown. I can, in a resting position, seem to be looking down on everyone, everything in some judgmental place. Add to this my tendency to speak about real things, truthful things instead of being all super chirpy happy and over the top positive (even though my brain is stuck in happy).

        Hey, I can be that way, but is it real?

      Being real is much more important to me than being the ‘entertaining’ person in a group and a ‘feel good’ to be around person. I can look back through all the journals which have allowed me to have a look at the person I’d been before brain injury. Yes, I was that ‘feels so good to be around’ person on the job and it was my ‘job’ to put that out there for the comfort of others. But inside? I was dying inside from the hurt, the loneliness and the grief of loss. No one ever knew who I was because all they wanted to see was the ‘happy happy’ and if there was a glimpse of a ‘bad day’(because that is all I’d be allowed, was one bad day) it was a glitch.

       I remember the day I walked in to pick up a paycheck with bruising on my face. I’d tried to avoid being there, but the need to get that check was much more than any embarrassment. Everyone was so happy to see me until I raised my face and the immediate silence was deafening. The inner embarrassment and shame was overwhelming. To know I’d have to keep going back to work after everyone knew my shame nearly kept me home.

       Going back to work and everyone avoiding me, never once asking me if I was ‘okay’ or if I needed help hurt beyond anything I had ever experienced. See I’d broken that cardinal rule of being ‘happy happy’ and let them see the reality. It was a sheer reminder of how the ‘happiest’ seeming ones can be living a life full of the hardest reality of all.

      In the end when I see the continued ‘trend’ of positivity messages with their victim blaming words I remember this day. Because in the end? Whatever had happened, because no one ever asked, must have been my own fault for not ‘thinking correctly’ and I’d allowed the bad into my life.

      Perhaps they’d never considered the ‘bad’ had been in my life all the time and the only time I could get away from it had been the job. Perhaps I’d been trying to escape the bad and needed the help which was never tendered.

      Think about it the next time you read a ‘positive thinking’ message. Is it really uplifting or is it really blaming someone for something beyond their control?

       Perception is everything…what do you perceive about the ‘positive only zone’ messages?

The Irritable Storm

Irritability

 Bedrest, elevation and physical therapy to begin with, daily activities prescribed, then start living again. Seems so simple yet no one takes into account the level of irritability which is not normal for me impeding my plans. Physical pain has gotten my attention in a way I really didn’t think was possible. It also begs me to question all the moments I have been irritated and grumpy this past year and more.

 See I really am stuck in ‘happy’ so when someone makes the comment, ‘it’s normal to be ‘emotional’’I want to punch them in the face. No it is NOT normal for me. It means something is wrong and if it’s gotten my attention at this level I really have to wonder how bad it must be to have gotten my attention in the first place.

 Today, yesterday, the day before and the past six months there has been a level of irritability which has been trying to give me a message. The one of ‘you are in pain’. This is a message I think is taken for granted by most people. I already live with a very high level of pain tolerance to begin with and so I know if this pain has gotten my attention and I’ve become irritable? This is not a good thing.

 So there is a plan now and this is the best part for me. To be proactive in recovery of any kind is great as it allows me to tick off the boxes mark them ‘done’. Prepare, plan, put it all into action and move forward. It’s all I’ve got right now.

 However it is funny to me when I think about all those who kept pushing their idea of ‘just get up and do it’ on me. They have no idea of my past involving over a decade of the gym being my home, my release. Of how I was the one who gave advice to others about how to get to their goals. I had been the fantastic example of what could be accomplished when you put your mind to it.

 But see, it was never that to begin with. It had been merely this is what I had to do to maintain my sanity in an insane world. There was nothing else to be done day to day except for having the schedule which eventually included many other activities including a career. Now is no different.

 The only difference there could be is how I want to never lose sight of the reality of this is all there is, right now this moment. There is no tomorrow or yesterday. The brain injury has taught me this extremely important lessen. No matter what is going on there is only now.

 Funnily enough I grew up in the generation of “Be Here Now” and in the end it’s all come back to this fact. All there is is the now. My now, my reality, is I am in physical pain and I am working to actually feel it, be aware of it so I can embrace it and understand it. Only then can I move on into a better now. The one where I have control of my own life.