What we don’t say

It isn’t easy to not know what to say
When questions are not in formula
Answers don’t easily come out.

How are you?
Isn’t answered by busy.
Staying busy as opposed to?
Busy is what you are doing.
How are you asked
How is your being?

Are you okay?
Okay so often has a silent preface
Can you hear it?
I am (not) okay.
But we happily skip past
Okay is easy, neutral, bye

When the answer has the ‘not’
or the “I am having a hard time”
Can you be present and wordless?
Can you be a listener and still?
Can you help me hold and acknowledge
This pain, grief and hurt?

You don’t have to be comfortable.
you shouldn’t be, I”m not.
This hurts. It sucks. It’s raw. Ugly.
It’s confused and it’s unsure
My ‘being strong’ is a facade,
It is a shield for your comfort.

It feels so lonely, and unfaithful
To want so badly what can’t be given
Won’t be given. Either way.
Falling apart isn’t an option
Strength required and needed.
Salty tears burn quietly
Polite acknowledgement of
your distance grants a pass.

I won’t stop asking after your heart.
I won’t stop brushing past the busy and okay
I know how that (not) feels and
I honour it with my concern.
“Thoughts and prayers” are good
But are no replacement for
being present, being there.

It’s not easy, never said it was.
If it’s hard for you to be here,
imagine if you will
How I’d love to be anywhere but.
And can’t. Won’t. Because
Someone needs me more.

I wish I was strong enough
to shake you free from your
safety and your platitudes
But I don’t have the energy or the will
When I am slow to come back,
understand the miles I’m walking alone
I don’t blame you, but I miss the idea that you’d
be there as I’d try to be for you.

How long can you stay in a stage of grief? How much preparation can you imagine and still not be ready? Grief isn’t a line, or a road, It’s a twisted scribble full of traps and triggers. It may get straighter, or so they say. All I know is that as hard as it is for you to be there for me, it’s harder to be alone in the middle of it.

Black Galaxy Marble

Perfectly smooth, perfectly round
Swirled depths spots of light
in darkness.
Cool to the touch
but warming hard
Always the same
Different at each glance

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The Ones who Don’t Cry

Strong. Reliable. Present.
The ones you lean on.
They struggle in quiet.
Their tears run unseen.
Anguish saved for private.

Listening. Watching. There.
Hearing your hurt.
Holding your hand.
Their own pain silent.
They are just there.

Invisible. Isolated. In pain.
Their burdens they bear alone.
Keeping their pain apart.
Quitely reaching into
empty space alone.

Okay. Busy. Fine.
Each one a careful lie.
The truth: (not) okay
Busy but struggling.
Fine = won’t bother you.

Exhausted. Drained. Done.
Too tired to explain.
Worn out from masking.
Creaks showing through
Pain leaks out unexpected.

You flinch. You deflect. Diminish.
You don’t know what to do.
You don’t know what to say.
You disappear, silent.
Loneliness a chill shadow behind.

But…but…what can I do you plead?
Asking for the easy task
The hard work is to be done.
Be present. Be there. Listen.
You don’t have to do, just be.

It’s incredibly hard to be present and not do anything but be there. And yet that’s a critical task. And it’s a task so many cannot or will not embrace. It is one that can heal hearts, bring comfort and will be treasured. You don’t know what to say? Then feel okay being still and present. You don’t know what to do? Just be there. Being in pain, feeling hurt, scared, alone or sad isn’t wrong. Or bad.
It’s nothing to be fixed. It’s something to work and walk through. The strongest people cry alone, work through their grief doing their best not to be a burden. Don’t leave them do so this alone.

In My Shoes

Here, take them, have a walk
in my shoes. A mile (or ten)
I have a beach with waves
to wash over my tired toes.

Here, take them, have a time!
My shoes know the paths
to wonder, hope, despair,
frustration and pain.

Here, take them, these things.
They won’t feel good, worn
to fit the shape of my feet,
the shape of my walk (life).

What? You don’t want them?
Then stay in your own shoes.
And stop telling me how
to walk in mine.

Do you ever with you could just have someone listen, and be there, without trying to tell you how to walk your mile, your ten, your valley or mountain?

I hear you. Next time tell them they should, but they won’t like it. They never do. After all isn’t the walk they want, it is the control over you.

Unbroken

Pardon the mess.
and I mean me.
I am busy learning
how to heal from
being broken by
you trying to fix
what wasn’t broken
but was different.
It didn’t’ fit so push
pry, chop, mash
squeeze and tape.

Pardon the messy
and I mean me.
I am busy learning
how to love who I am.
Not who I was supposed
to be, or how I was
supposed to be.

Pardon the tears.
I am using salt and water
to cleanse wounds
and old scars.

Pardon the burnt timbers.
some bridges just are
made to be burnt.
I will draw new dreams
in ashes and tears
across my arms and chest.

Pardon the frustration.
would it be easier if I was
quieter, or maybe angry?
Quiet you can ignore.
Anger you can get mad about.
I am just figuring out
a lifetime of crossed wires
and mixed signals.
Coded messages I couldn’t
crack because they were
a language, not a code.

Pardon the rambling.
Some things are not
made to be put away
neat and tidy in a box.
I know you are uncomfortable.
I won’t stop healing
but you can have a nap.
The easy things you’ll see
the hard work – no.

Pardon the acceptance.
I won’t be less for you
to feel like you are more.
I won’t hide the scars.
They prove I made it out.
I honour them now.

Pardon the mess.
I am busy trying to
heal what was broken
while you were trying to
fix what wasn’t broken
in the first place.

Doing deep work in therapy. Finding my way. It is helping. And it is exhausting.

Words

afternoon shadows stretch long
last piles of dirty snow melt in silence
smudge of winter forbidden

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You Move Me

Nothing is more patient than water. 
It moves at a pace set by the stars.
In forms we only think we understand.
Dividing mountains and plains.
Sweeping across the land voracious.
From one tiny droplet in a cracked stone
to a mighty storm surge hurricane fed.

Standing in the Rockies, on the stones.
Geologic babies still sharp, still wild.
Standing on a frozen lake, fed by glaciers.
Standing on a frozen river.
Hearing the water from the waterfall
still moving stones, mountains.

Our plains are shaped by wind and water.
From prehistoric lakes and inland seas
to carved peaks and rounded old stones.
Trees and plants cling, dig in, embrace.
Reaching for water, for life, down deep.
Animals follow rivers like a highway.
Sometimes becoming lost in our cities. 

Humans dig, pile, plan and dam against it.
They attempt to tame that which is world
shaping and wild, living and breathing.
Nature won't allow her children to stay
trapped by us forever. She will let them
break free in a fury of wildness and
violent creation. Recreation. Rebirth.

Grind down. Build up. Bind and rend.
But when I am in the mountains.
On that frozen glacial waters I don't
think of that ancient lake, or the flooding.
I think of the beauty wrought from the 
fluid upheaval of rock, the shaping of
wind and water. The wildness is a way
to find my calm. My centre. It soothes.

What changes will spring bring?
Floods and storms ravage the earth.
We cannot hold her back when she
is determined to blow, to flow, to break.
We can only seek shelter and rebuild.
From what she leaves behind.
And we mourn what we thought
to be permanent and should have known
was more fleeting than a breath.


Yes I am standing on a frozen lake, and a frozen river.
And I felt the river flow below me. It was , as it should be, wild. 


Enjoy the silence

Closed up for winter, shuttered and warm.

The sounds around are muted, interior.

The furnace rumbles and bellows.

Floors creak and windows stay silently shut.

Blankets are burrowed under, coffee sipped slow.

A power outage – sudden utter silence. 

      

First day of spring and windows fly open.

Chickens chatter in the melting snow.

Birds start their spring musical array.

The house seems more open, more alive.

The sounds outside louder, more awake.

Smells tease – stench to sweet, to promise of…

      

Snow clings in deep iced piles that crunch.

Slush wavers between slick and sloppy.

Each step a sound effect of alien walking.

Touching things, are you awake yet? Are you?

Listening for the smell of the earth waking.

Listening for the smell of the trees waking.

      

Quiet isn’t really that, it is more a space to breathe.

Quiet is the silence of expectations, of needs.

The hum is the energy coming up and returning.

The breath out, and in again, again, again.

Balance between noises felt and heart,

The quiet that is not silent. The silence of stillness.

      

Pause, it is that moment when we have the windows open

and the furnace kicks on again to warm us.

The impatience of the next while embracing the now.

It is the space between a first too hot sip and a cold dreg.

A dreaming dog twitching and racing at your feet.

      

Enjoy the silence. 


Wow…that felt GOOD. No..not good. GREAT! 

Welcome To Scar Clan

Welcome to Scar Clan, where the survivors come.

We are the ones in the shadows, quiet, leaning in.

We are the ones with knotty scars and bruises.

The ones who don’t have a platform, a brand.

No slick show, no sponsors just a quiet strength.

The kind that comes from walking wounded

in a world that doesn’t want to see messy pain.

The kind that comes from looking into the darkness

and not flinching when it gazes back at you.

We have a story to tell, and we do, but quietly.

With determination, with a rough grace.

You won’t see us being sought after for a show.

No big events, no TedTalks or even YouTube.

Just quietly sitting with the wounded, walking

one another home through the mud, the blood,

the dust, the pain, the hope and the gritty joy.

I see their grand shows, and see the love.

I hear the story of another lost, assumed to be

‘tired’ but really just losing the battle with

the darkness that pulls and pulls us in.

They say ‘reach out’ and ‘get help’.

The hardest thing to do is find another

who has battled the darkness who can

understand when you say, “I am tired.”

And know it isn’t sleep, or rest you need.

Not retail therapy, or a new oily blend.

Not a pep talk of ‘it’s not that bad, you have

so much to be thankful for. Why are you….?’

We need a shadow dweller who leans in.

Who nods and says, “The darkness lies.”

And says it is okay to be totally, really

just ‘not okay’ for now, for this hour. For today.

Those warriors who know that those

fighting the darkness need to be sought.

They need to be fought for. When it is

uncomfortable. And hard. And ugly.

Don’t ask for our story so you can revel in

our pain, so you can touch our scars.

Ask for our story so you will know you are

safe in sharing your own. Showing your scars.

The scars tell you some thing important.

They say you survived. Changed to be sure.

But you are here, but warrior you made it.

The hardest battles are fought alone,

against an insidious darkness that lies.

It tells us all the tales of our failure, our

worthlessness, our shame. It confuses us.

Tricks us, wears us down, gives no quarter.

It hates that we didn’t quit. It hates that we live.

We can stand back to back in the darkness.

We can shine bright weapons of hope.

We can lightly touch scars and feel alive.

Together. We can.

 

There are some who share brightly and loudly on big stages their victory over the struggles of mental illness, anxiety, PTSD, of surviving trauma and good for them. But behind the glare of those lights are people struggling in the darkness that can’t reach out, that are calling in sick, saying they are tired. Don’t expect those fighting the biggest battles of their lives to have the strength or hope to reach out. Reach out to them. Find them. Don’t accept ‘fine or ‘busy’ or ‘tired’ as answer. Even on line we know when someone is absent, posting something darker than usual, our encourager is quiet, or critical. When your instincts are saying something is wrong, reach out. Don’t be afraid. There isn’t anything to fear. The darkness isn’t hunting you, it’s hunting them. And they are alone, tired and needing someone to fight for them. We won’t win every battle but no one should be lost without a fight.

 

My inbox is always open, my DM on any social channel. There isn’t anything the darkness lies to you about that will make me leave you to fight it alone. Together we can stand, as survivors and members of Scar Clan.

There are a lot of resources and tools online to help you help someone. Being present and being persistent is so important. Don’t think that because you don’t have a big, public platform that you can’t help – you may never know who you help by being there. Just a hug, a coffee, a call or a text. A wave or a hello. The small things are the biggest things after all!

 

 

A Thousand Cuts

Much is said about a ‘death by a thousand cuts’

No one ever talks much about those who live.

Day by day, cut by cut, scar by scar.

Each cutting word, action or look.

Slicing and cutting so deep.

 

Much is said about the hammering of the fists.

No one ever talks much about those who live.

Day by day, lie by lie, scar by scar.

Each gaslight moment cruel.

Wondering at sanity.

 

Much is said about the running away, the escape.

No one ever talks much about those who stay.

Day by day, fear by fear, scar by scar.

Each dreaded breath baited.

Survival as a way of life.

 

Much is said about rebuilding, healing, moving on.

No one ever talks much about the scars.

Day by day, cut by cut, scar by scar.

Each a reminder of pain and

of another day alive.

 

Much is said about reaching out, getting the help.

No one ever talks about how hard that is.

Day by day, fear by fear, scar by scar.

Worthy? Maybe. No. NO. Useless.

What if some battles never end?

 

Never enough is said about no one deserving this.

No one ever talks about how they ‘suspected’

Day by day, hour by hour, scar by scar

Doing nothing because they are

Minding their own business.

 

Never enough is said about the pain of surviving.

No one ever talks about feeling less saved

Day by day, breath by breath

By those who feast on the

Pain, as at a feast.

 

Never enough is said about those times when fear hits.

No one ever talks about how ugly the scars feel.

Day by day, scar by painful scar.

Bumpy, sore, raw, achy. Ugly.

Stay. Pain. Escape. Pain.

 

Much is said about the hurt, the escape and the horror.

No one ever talks much about the rebuilding.

Day by day, scar by healing scar.

Ask me about the new place

that I’m in. It’s good.

 

When we support survivors of abuse or other trauma we tend to focus on the circumstances before their freedom and the escape. The harrowing experiences feed a certain element with a feast of voyeuristic pain and misery. Too often we then expect everyone to ‘move on’ and ‘get over it’. It isn’t ever that easy. They can walk away from the scars of another, move on to their next drama but those who live with the scars know. The hardest part is the rebuilding, and the owning. Owning the hurt and owning the healing. Ten years twenty or two – it may fade, and it may lessen but some wounds and some scars stay a very long time. Don’t deny a survivor a place to say, “I’m not okay” and don’t deny them the right to say, “This hurts and it sucks”. 

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