You

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Your words give me the courage to find my own words. Your encouragement gives me the motivation to turn the page one more time, to write down those thoughts that create themselves in my mind, one word at a time, like this post. I wrote this post because of You. I thank you.

Your dreams shine light on my nightmares, chasing away the darkness and illuminating a way out, through writing and words and images. Your courage lends itself to me and I find myself unafraid when I usually would be. Your touch is soothing and smoothes away the anxiety, it replaces the stabbing pins and needles with goosebumps and shivers. It sets me free.

Your scent is my security blanket, it’s what I reach for when the world is upside down and moving backwards instead of forwards. It reminds me of home and makes me thankful that I have somewhere to call home, that I have somewhere to go. You make me feel as though I belong.

Your determination reminds me that I can never give up, no matter how much I might want to. You remind me that my dreams are achievable if I want it bad enough. Your perserverance is admirable and I find myself observing you, trying to find a way that works for me as well as it works for you.

Your friendship and love remind me that I am never truly alone. No matter how out of place I feel in a situation, in my life, in this world, I know that You are here with me and I can reach out and remember that I am loved. Your love makes me unafraid to show my own love.

I never understood love until I met You. I couldn’t fathom anything lasting, I never really even desired it. Until You, I was comfortable being alone, sitting in silence for hours at a time, doing nothing, seeing nothing, thinking and feeling much the same. I was okay with that. And then came You. You turned my world upside down and I haven’t been right ever since.

And I love it.

 

 

 

Vanity

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Sitting on the fancy bench next to her, I watch her pick up various creams and different colors, applying them so carefully to her skin, looking at her reflection in the mirror. I thought she looked fine without it, but she felt otherwise. I watch as she transforms herself into someone who looks very different from the way she started and it’s almost frightening. I can’t help but wonder why she puts so much effort into this process, she hardly ever speaks to my father, let alone looks at him. With the exception of meals, I cannot even remember the last time I saw them in the same room together and he doesn’t seem to notice or care about her finished product.

She sits at this little table every single morning, taking such care to apply everything just right and I’m not sure why because she never even leaves the house. She doesn’t work and she spends the majority of her day on the couch, in front of the television watching soap operas that seem like they upset her more than entertain her. It confuses me how she can become so engrossed in these make believe worlds while all around her, her own world is in chaos.

I wonder what she sees when she looks in her vanity mirror. I think she sees a magnificent woman, the most beautiful she has ever seen. She thinks she has attributes that are appealing to men and envied by women. I think she looks ridiculous and I wonder if I am destined to follow the same path of falling in love with a reflection that everyone else around me cannot stand to look at. I feel an honest fear and what I do not yet understand to be disgust.

When I become an adolescent I start to become her. I stand in front of my dresser mirror for hours, trying out different colors and techniques even though I have no idea what I’m doing with these products. I lay on the eyeshadow too heavily, the eyeliner is too thick. I smear on lipgloss and straighten my wavy hair. I could do this for hours and hours because I tell myself everyone else around me appreciates my efforts.

In my early adult years I stood in front of the mirror and wonder when was the last time that I even owned any makeup. I wonder how it is that even though my body and soul hurt so dreadfully that I have very few marks to show for them and the ones that I do have to show are always kept covered because he was always smart enough not to leave bruises where anyone else could see them. How would that look, the significant other of a pastor’s son, all bruised and banged up like an old piece of fruit? The thought is almost ridiculous enough to make me laugh out loud but my reflection stops me because while there is a bitter laugh stuck in my throat, there is nothing else but emptiness everywhere else inside. I recognize that others still find me beautiful, I’ve been told enough times of all my physical attributes that are pleasing to the eyes, especially men’s eyes,  but in this moment, I don’t see them. I see nothing but nothing. Nothing at all.

Now much later in my life I am finally able to look at myself in the mirror. I don’t feel the urge to avert my eyes, to brush my teeth with the lights off in the early morning hours. I no longer trace the lines of bruises and bumps because they are no longer there and haven’t been for quite some time now. I no longer detest what I see, I am no longer disgusted. I recognize my flaws but regard them as my own uniqueness, we all have something about ourselves we dislike. I look at myself in the mirror and realize that I love myself for who I am, but not like my mother loves herself. I love what I have been blessed with, inside and out and realize that it all could be taken in the blink of an eye.

Thunderstorm

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Lying in bed with the blankets over my head, my hands pressed over my ears and it does no good because the booming of the thunder vibrates straight through to my bones. The room lights up as the lightning crashes and I squeeze my eyes shut as tightly as I can. I hate it when the weather is like this, bad things happen when the thunder sounds and no one can hear you scream. But this isn’t then, and there’s nothing out there. That’s what I tell myself anyways.

I hum quietly to myself and with my hands still pressed tightly against my ears all I hear is the tune I’m using as a distraction. I don’t even know what I’m humming and it doesn’t really matter so long as I have something else to listen to. Outside the lightning sets the sky ablaze and I can see the flash behind my closed eyelids, underneath my blanket. I could just go hide in the closet but I’m an adult and the children are sound asleep. If they can sleep through this then I can endure it while I’m awake.

He lays in bed next to me and tries to comfort me, wrapping his arms around me and running his fingers through my hair but I cannot help the tears that start to well up. I should be able to handle this, it’s just an act of nature. Thunder and lightning can’t hurt me and those bad things that happened in the past are just that- in the past.

Thunder cracks through the sky, a bolt of lightning hits seemingly right outside the window, closer than comfortable for me and the power goes out. By this time I am shaking in terror because bad things happen in the dark. Terrifyingly, horrible, life-altering things. Things that leave mental, emotional and physical scars and no one can hear you scream over the thunder. I try to steady my breathing and count down from a million while all around me the storm rages on.

Sinful

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His love makes me believe that I can do anything. I could reach out and pluck a feathery cloud from the sky, if I wanted to. I could exhale a whispery breath and extinguish the sun. It makes me want to give him the stars, even though they aren’t mine to give. I could crumble mountains and cross oceans, without ever moving.

His love makes me invincible.

His love makes me feel beautiful, like there was no one before me and will never be one after me. Not just an accepting type of beauty, but like I’ve exceeded the standards that I’ve always held myself at.  His love makes me feel confident that what is inside of me is far more stunning than anything anyone has to offer on the outside.

His love makes me radiate.

His kisses are like a gifted box full of chocolates when I’ve only just given them up for Lent.

I crave them.

His love is like committing arson,

when I knew there was a drought,

leaving me burning with the desire to be quenched

with more fire.

I find myself doing everything with him I always swore I would not do.

I let walls down that I’ll never have the time, nor the strength, to rebuild.

With him, I am vulnerable.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Replay

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Lying in bed, thinking I must be tossing and turning but knowing I am probably paralyzed from fear, behind my closed lids I know what is about to happen next. Sometimes the faces are different but the heartache is not and something in my mind screams at me to wake up. I repeat his name over and over hoping that one of these times I will somehow let the word slip through my lips in my sleep, that I will say it loudly enough to wake him so that he might wake me but it never happens. Once again, there’s his face, smirking and uncaring, his eyes as cold as a fresh snow and my heart starts to clench, I know it’s about to shatter into a thousand pieces because I’ve had this nightmare before, too many times before. I want to wake up. Heart pounding, broken out in a cold sweat, it feels like something is squeezing the breath out of me, I know what happens next and I cannot relive it. It’s been so long since the last time, I thought my mind had forgotten, had let this nightmare go. Yet here he is, his eyes so accusing and hateful yet uncaring at the same time and he says the words I fear to hear from him and I cannot wake myself, just like every other time I’ve had this dream. I cannot wake myself and I must let the nightmare run it’s course. And after it’s over and my pillow is soaked with tears, this puppy climbs on my chest and licks the tears from my face and I remember that I am loved. She stays there on my chest throughout the rest of the night, watchful, and I tell myself this nightmarish pattern has been broken because I didn’t have her before, she wasn’t there before to remind me of the the truth.

Quiet

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I told myself I could finish out this challenge.

I told myself I was going strong.

I told myself my words mattered, to me if to no one else.

I told myself I would listen to the stories inside of me and share them with the world.

But tonight, my mind is quiet.

 

Earlier today I said I would distract myself when my coworker started sharing details about her relationship.

We’ve worked together for about six months now, maybe less, and she’s always told me such beautiful things about her daughters. It’s obvious she loves them very much.

I never really noticed that she never speaks of her husband.

Maybe I should’ve noticed that when does, she only speaks about the times in the past when he was abusive.

She says he’s changed now.

Until today, I never noticed the moments of silence that always follow these particular conversations.

But today, I listened when she was quiet.

 

On my way home after picking the Little People up from school, I thought about my favorite bloggers and wondered what they were thinking about.

I pictured one typing out words on a laptop, maybe drinking something fruity, maybe a tea. I don’t know her preferences. I imagined the other smoking a cigarette, leaned against the window of a skyscraper, looking out over the city. I don’t even know if he lives in a big city. I like to think he does.

I wondered what I would say if I had the opportunity to say something to them. I would want it to be something meaningful, I would hope it would be something meaningful, but I’m not the best at spoken conversation.

I wondered if these two people would listen when I was quiet.

 

Tonight as I was jotting down ideas about things I might write about I thought about all of the written words I’ve read in the past couple of months and I told myself once again that I would write something equally beautiful, or at least attempt to. I told myself that all good writers think their words are absolute rubbish but that doesn’t mean they truly are. I told myself I should just allow the words to flow from my brain to the paper.

I sat and let something be born onto paper, I watched something blossom and suddenly, my mind went quiet.

 

 

Pub

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I tell him I want one more round before we go. Sometimes I wonder if my drinking disgusts him, most times I could care less. One of the televisions behind the bar plays a football game. Thankfully, the volume is low. There’s a commercial for pizza on another one, a shampoo commercial on a third one. The fourth one is too far out of my line of sight to tell what is playing on it. I briefly wonder if cartoons are on that one. I would much rather be watching cartoons than anything I can see on the other three.

The bartender keeps calling me this guy’s girlfriend and I cringe inwardly every time I hear this word. I live in a generation where relationships mean nothing, even to me. I cannot bear the thought of being tied down to someone, of being responsible for someone else’s happiness and well-being. My date doesn’t seem to mind. Maybe it’s because he knows I’m not that type of girl and because he also knows that I know that he’s not that type of guy.

I know my breath reeks of dark beer by now. I try to remember the last time I’ve eaten anything and briefly wonder if it’s in danger of coming up later at some point in the night. I sit still for a moment and try to decide if my stomach feels queasy. For now, it doesn’t.

He’s sitting on the bar stool next to me, his body turned towards mine but his attention on the television in front of him. I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t have a cell phone. In a world that’s obsessed with technology, it’s nice to know that your shining personality and conversation is enough to hold a person’s attention. Even so, we’ve known each other for close to a year and have barely said more than five words to each other. I can’t say that I mind the silence. It’s better than rattling off words that mean nothing. Words that I could be using on something more important, like my writing.

I dip my hand in the bowl of cocktail peanuts on the bar in front of me and pop them in my mouth, one by one, sucking the salt off of them. My mother once told me that bartenders place peanuts at the bar because they make you thirsty and then you end up ordering more drinks. I think about this for a moment and then ask the bartender for another dark, Irish Car Bomb and a glass of water. He gives me a funny look and briefly glances at my companion but ends up bringing me what I ask for. I find myself wondering what time it is. I’m so sleepy.

Eventually I realize that all of the Irish Car Bombs have upset my stomach and I can feel it gurgling. I halfway turn to him and mumble something about getting food later. I don’t feel bad for all the money he’s been shelling out tonight because in reality, he hasn’t paid a dime. I’m a working girl. I’m as independent as I can be. I can afford this. I wonder if that knowledge makes him feel threatened. I doubt it does. He’s probably just another moocher like all the others. This doesn’t bother me either and I wonder if it should.

My eyes get heavier and heavier and I’m ready to go to sleep. I yawn and don’t even try to hide it. I lay my left arm flat against the bar and rest my head on it while simultaneously pulling out a cigarette and a lighter. I attempt to light it sideways and he laughs and pulls the Marlboro from my mouth, pulling out his fancy, silver lighter and sparking it for me. He inhales deeply and I watch the smoke rising in it’s intricate dance. I don’t know how many minutes go by but I become more and more frustrated that he still has my cigarette. I decide to start running a tab on him. While he has his own car, I usually do most of the driving and he lives out of my way- not near to me and not near to any of the bars I like to frequent.

We haven’t spoken since we sat down at this bar over two hours ago. We’ve both been watching the television, watching our hands, watching the bowl of peanuts and our glasses emptying and then refilling, looking anywhere but at each other. I love this pub. It’s one of my favorites and I wonder when the time comes when he and I have tired of each other if I will still love this bar stool, that television, that bowl of peanuts, my Irish beer. I imagine someone else sitting on his bar stool, a lot of someone-elses, and as I stub out my cigarette and he swallows down the rest of his beer, I don’t even flinch when he reaches for my hand and leads me to where tonight will end.