“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”
― Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
One of the things that I love about having a blog is that I make promises out loud. That makes me more apt to follow through. It gives me the impression that people are listening and paying attention. 😉 One of my public resolutions for 2018 was that I would commit to a weekly blog post. As I get my blogging stamina back, I have given myself the permission to stray from posting recipes and to simply start writing again.
My dear friend Jane contacted me and said that she would love to read some of my poetry on my blog. My path crossed with Jane years ago as a HEN member (Holocaust Education Network). We spent time together in New York City, Poland, and Israel. During those travels our HEN group wrote, shared stories, and documented our journey with thousands of photos. Jane encouraged me to go back to some of my old journals and blog some of the pieces that I had written along with my corresponding photography. I had to confess that I had thrown out many of my old journals because they were painful reminders of my previous life. It made sense at the time. I wanted to move forward. But in reality, I’ve been holding my breath.
Jane reaching out to me meant more than I can possibly explain. It was the gentle nudge that I needed. I explained to my friend that I have had a block over the past few years and that I had not written much poetry. I attributed this reluctance to write as my heart was still in stages of healing. It sounds ridiculous to type that out – because what can be more healing than poetry? Jane told me, “It’s good to be a butterfly or a grain of wheat. Sometimes we need to break in order to release our better selves.” I needed to hear that. It looks like I have some poetry to write.
In order to understand my journey, I am going to share this piece. It is difficult for me to read and I was not sure if I was going to post it here. I decided that it is part of my story. A part that I kept from many by my carefully manicured social media posts. I try to keep things positive.Yet, that is the beauty of poetry. It allows us to process even the most complicated experiences.
I think that I am ready to start writing again. Thank you, Jane. ❤
Going Back to the Sand Box
Come home on steps of grit and palm to wait
for clocks to start. The Tigris bullets our nest
with pearls and I pretend to live.
you reach. I flinch. Your finger on phantom
Christ you are a killer. You murder
my sleep. I wonder what dreams you coil
into concertina shrouds.
You lacerate Inanna,
smoke her bones like hash or lentils. Our bed
is filled with sand.
It is haunting for me to read this poem that I wrote in 2007. I was taking a poetry workshop for my Master’s degree at a local university. It was a confessional piece and writing about my struggling marriage felt raw and uncomfortable. Years later, after everything that happened; when I relive these words my stomach sways. I still feel the pulse of trauma, anxiety, and dread. The signs were there, but I was in too deep. At times it felt like we were both drowning and maybe that is why I held on tight. I held on and he sunk deeper and deeper. Like sand running through my fingers, there was nothing that I could do to stop it from happening. It was full speed and slow motion all at the same time. Paralyzing. Quick Sand.
Three years have passed, and I am still not able to write about “it.” I say the word it – giving the event a persona– a personal pronoun. It felt like it had a tangible shape and form. It was foreboding post-it notes littering the house. It was cryptic text messages. It was a love note scrawled on a brown paper liquor bag. It was a loaded shotgun. It was a knife. It was a bottomless wound.
A friend posted a quote on Facebook. It said, “When you can tell your story and it doesn’t make you cry, you know you have healed.” Obviously, I am not there yet. As I type these words, tears spring from a well that should be dry. I want to be there. I want to let go. I want to forgive. But who do I have to forgive first? Him? Myself? The enabled or the enabler?
I can say that as time goes by my breathing becomes less labored. I found a man who as a law enforcement officer understands the relationship between trauma and PTSD – along with having your heart and dreams crushed. For the first time in over a decade – I feel safe. As corny as it sounds, we are saving each other. We believe that our paths were destined to cross. Meant to be. We have so much in common. Everything is connected — there are no coincidences. Synchronicity.
Nothing is ever perfect, but I no longer hear the war drum thrumming. I never bolt up in bed — fearful. I never feel vacant and alone. I feel alive.
At night our room is quiet. Peaceful. I feel content knowing that the kids are tucked in downstairs. I hear the dogs stir — and that feels comforting too. Most nights I sleep until morning. But if I do awaken, I am not frozen with fear, but do so with a thankful heart.
Early this morning, I stared out of the skylight and was mesmerized by star glitter. I imagined the shape of the trees outside because I have memorized them. In my mind’s eye I counted the five dogs, the chickens, the turkey, the duck, and the cat, and realized that nothing was missing. I am here. He is here. They are here. We are here.
Often at night, we take turns reaching out for each other. A simple act. Maybe deep down we are both still afraid. Haunted by absence. Reflex. His hand on the small of my back. My lips on the nape of his neck. I am soothed by his breathing. Steady. Strong. Safe.
Only a few grains of sand remain.
I am rewriting my story. We are writing our story.
That is all that I can say right now. These words will have to be enough. ❤