Shadows with No Light

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You were seen downtown one Sunday morning hanging out at the local cafe’ 

Pretending to be part of the beautiful people in a tony town

 Hung over from a Saturday night of shallow dinner party dialogue

 Getting wasted on wine and secretly lusting after the host’s wife

 to  alleviate the ennui of suburban existence

Your companion is a farce masquerading as a woman “Who knows Who”

 When in reality she is merely a vapid vamp mirroring a myriad of other MLFs 

You fit well with the air kissing crowd, capable of crumbs for conversation

You feed each other tidbits and then fuck each other into oblivion 

Drown your demons if you dare

But heaven and earth will not be moved by your denial

No shifts will occur in the course of your creation

You’ll just descend further towards a self-created hell

 

Day 28. A trip to the dark side of suburbia. No apologies for the epithet. It seemed to fit the message..

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Mistaken Identity

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An All-American look

An A-Frame Shape

Ass-Kickin Abs

Strong-shouldered

Sleek-skinned

Strapping in Stride

Your Youth Yielded

to the Years spent Yearning

for Daring and Dastardly Dreams

Groping towards Goals of Disingenuous Grandeur

There is Little Left of your Lofty Life

The Face that once glimmered with hope

and turned many a maiden’s head

is but a sunken ship

Moored in the Muck

Wrinkled and Wretched

with the scars of brokeness

etched across your bow

The Summer I’d Like to Forget

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#FWF Free Write Friday: Are You Up For This?

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I’ve been debating with myself as to whether it is even worth writing about a decade old story. I have alluded to it in poetry ( Hidden Hunger ,Witness ) but never in memoir.

It is difficult to admit that there was a time that my family went hungry.  The details of how we arrived at our sorry state are way too complicated and frankly, too boring. Here are the highlights:

  • Husband gets fired-not laid off- from six figure job.
  • Husband decides to start own business causing significant decrease in income.
  • Wife works part-time while in a year-long clinical graduate program.
  • Wife told that her job must now carry the benefits, cutting her measly salary in half.
  • Wife told that since her job does not pay in summer, she must get full-time work and the children can stay home alone all day without mom and dad.
  • Wife is not able to get full-time job but finds work that keeps her away from home for just a few hours.
  • Wife’s tiny wages go to food.
  • Wife eats less to save food for kids.
  • Husband squanders all savings  and other finances while secretly making major purchases.
  • Wife tells no one about situation even though her parents live just eight miles away and her brother thirteen.

I spent the summer of 2004 in a state of shock, or as a friend said “survival mode”.  I knew things would get better in the fall when my job resumed to a nearly full -time position. But the 12 weeks of empty bellies seemed endless. A wall of resistance and repudiation was put up by my husband. In his eyes it was my fault for not getting full-time work. Not his fault for getting fired and pursuing something that barely brought a paycheck in to pay bills.

I felt stuck. As summer turned into fall, a latent anger was born. I took it out on everyone but him at first but then it boiled over when I found out about another major purchase he had made. I went into therapy where I began to unravel the pieces of my situation as well as my marriage and more importantly, myself.

We never went hungry after that summer. I refused to have my sons experience that dull, hollow feeling that comes from not having enough to eat ever again. Their father never accepted responsibility for his decisions and instead continued to lay the blame on me. But for the  next summer and for all subsequent summers, I secured positions where I could make money and have my children productively occupied and supervised.

Life trucked on, the marriage ended, battles were waged and the three of us (as many of you know by now) have a wonderful, wonderful life. He lost us but we gained ourselves. I still worry about food and going hungry. I cannot have the refrigerator or cabinets or the pantry ever be empty. It triggers that feeling again.

The boys and I did talk about that time a few years ago. I apologized to them for what happened but they both said I did the best I could. They had come to understand the circumstances that caused the situation in the first place. It was just one of many moral violations committed by their father.

I eventually confessed to my family, who were at first angry that I did not come to them for help. I was too ashamed and I knew I would suffer the consequences of revealing the secret. It didn’t seem worth it at the time.

And do I have shame today? No, I let that go a long time ago. Although I was not conscious of it at the time, I was being abused. The blaming, the passive aggressive behavior, the snide remarks began in earnest that summer. They increased over time until I finally realized what was happening.

When one is in the midst of negativity and abusive behavior, it is nearly impossible to see a way out. One only wants the abuse to stop-not for the abuser to leave. Strange dichotomy but oh so true. Lucky for me, he left. But he still abused from afar in various ways. I only got stronger and my children got wiser.

We know how to feed our bellies and our souls. Loaves and fishes abound. Abundance is present. And we are very grateful.

Never let yourself be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.

~Robert Frost

 

This was THE most challenging free write for me.  I really went back and forth as to whether I could write about it. Frankly, I didn’t want to. But sometimes you just have to put your muscle into it. It was NOT cathartic. It just had to be written and done with once and for all.

The Road of Regret

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A light rain settled on his windshield

Little droplets of tears resting at eye view

The April morning more like November

Raw, gray, bone seeping dankness

Void of color

Empty of Hope

Unsure of what he was seeking

He came from another place

Driving down Main Street

His truck making a detour back to a life he once knew

A quarter century ago

Half his age plus two now

His mind drifting to the covenant he made

on this same April day

Did he hope to see her?

He pulled into a vacant spot

The rain growing colder

Pelting his windshield

Sharp pieces of pain

He shivered and walked to the storefront of her favorite cafe’

His eyes peeled for the woman who was once his bride

Too late once again

She remained hidden

Traveling another route

Building her new dreams

Forging her own paths

And breathing a life-long sigh

That he didn’t see her pass him right by

 

 

Day 30 of the challenge. Last but not least…

A Grifter’s Rap

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Would you ever really know if your beloved strayed?

Or would you believe that you’ve been duplicitously played?

His absences explained so charmingly

As you played your role so willingly

You hang on long for the children’s sake

As you think he still loves you

Those vows he would not break

But he did so again and again

Not always with another

But with the click of a pen

When at last he made the ultimate exit

That last gasp to leave

You thought it was with money

That he did deceive

To fall in with another was too hard to believe

Looking back on it now-it was so long ago

All those scenes so intense 

And his emotions: a mere pretense 

You realize SHE was his reason for love’s final blow

But no matter now, this memory is like vapor

A mischievous muse’s attempt at a silly old caper

The mind goes awry

No need to know why

He’s nothing but a blip in your mind’s eye

Journey to the Other Side

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At the time of the dismantling I used to wonder

used to sweat in desperation

used to be ensnared in your endless games of lashing out

 for  punishment of things that I did not do

for the person you thought I was

the one who punished you for her own guilt

At the time of the dismantling

I felt myself wasting away

sick with a loss of control over my own destiny (or so it seemed)

eager with a morbid curiosity about your private transgressions

At the time of the dismantling

I used to wish you would become a stranger to me

someone I would pass by on the street or the airport without notice

someone I would see by chance who didn’t bring me to the brink of madness

At the time of the dismantling

I wish I wouldn’t recognize you

to turn my head in instinct at your unwelcome presence

a witness to your lingering lurking

and latching yourself to people and places where I could be found

 

At the time of the rebuilding

I ceased to wonder

 became refreshed in renewal

no longer trapped, but free in my freedom

At the time of the rebuilding

I felt my self growing

a woman with curves and flesh

the mistress of my destiny

no longer curious but filled with awe at new love found

At the time of the rebuilding

you became unfamiliar

a transient that I passed by with ease

no longer on edge, existing on a different plane

At the time of the rebuilding

I no longer took notice of you

I see you on the street at a distance,

at peace with knowing that the long ago parting happened to someone else

 

Buried Truth

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I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

What it means to be born from deceit

The lies they told themselves to protect you

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

Unconsciously rejected by the one who bore you

Lovingly accepted by the one who was betrayed

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

The secret kept from you until you were of age

You convinced yourself  that it didn’t matter anyway

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

Their union at last came undone, the past too much to bear

A slight shift in your world, one you could not even hear

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

You left them then, never to return again

 An anchorless  journey that continues today

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

Falsely sure of yourself and never whole

Flitting from place to place and woman to woman

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

Never quite trusting but always controlling

Hoarding your feelings, a collector of sins

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

The stain of  your beginnings remains with you still

A jagged edge, a dizzying precipice and a perilous fall

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

 Kellie gave us this one line today:

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

And this is what I created!

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#FWF Free Write Friday: Ponder this…

by Kellie Elmore