All directions are forward.
All directions are forward.
just riding along.
I once read a writing prompt that directed me to list three personal truths that I carried with me, weighed me down, and no one else knew were hurting me.
This wasn’t the the ice-breaking game of Three Truths and a Lie (which can be strangely fun). But rather this prompt demanded three truths that burdened me.
I was intrigued, so I started to think.
Turned out, exposing my core truths wasn’t as simple as putting pen to paper–or fingers to keyboard.
Choosing only three truths which defined my internal burden and complicated my everyday life was hard.
The more I considered and the deeper I dove, I realized that I needed to create a parameter for my truths. They couldn’t just be statements of unhappiness. Nor could they be subjective reflections. I took some time to consider what a truth was to me, so that I could better define and limit the increasing list of internal burdens I was exposing to myself. My subjective responses to everything tried to win the contest, but I eliminated them with competition entrance rules.
My decision brought me closer to defining three facts. Thank you, left brain.
1. My mom is dead.
Writing this truth doesn’t mean I mope about it. I miss her. I could have written that she suffered for decades, with a cruel disease, and that her visible pain shredded me for all those years, but that’s subjective. The truth is that she’s gone. Thirteen years ago. During the prior years as she suffered, I became ingrained with compassion. I ached with sadness because I couldn’t stop her pain. I focused my life on helping, a martyr in some way, but I wasn’t good at it. I wasn’t nurse material, or any type of healer, or hand holder. I was a friend, but also I was a daughter who cringed every time I heard or saw a wince of pain. I still recognize and feel others suffering, it overwhelms me, depresses me, and is one of my most debilitating burdens. But, it also allows me to see more than I could if I’d had a purely selfish, normal upbringing. All our effort to survive together, my mom and sister and me, we got through so many tough times. Then, poof, just like that, she died. All my idealism, my belief that struggling meant something, it just all dissolved and I was left pointless. I needed meaning. I needed to suffer for something beyond me. I needed a purpose, a cause, a reason to be here. And instead, I had bills to pay and so much sorrow, that I just learned to survive. Smile and pretend there’s more, but feel there just isn’t.
2. My uterus is gone.
Again, not moping. And life kind of has mellowed out this burden. I wasn’t going to have kids on purpose. Not with the disease in our family genes, skipping around in generations. Too much risk, but I had some deeply hidden hope that fate would say, “go ahead, do it.” But it never spoke the words I wanted, instead it said, “we concur, let’s not do this.” My first surgery took my right ovary. I grieved some after, but I was more relieved it wasn’t ovarian cancer, just a mass the size of my head that was somehow hiding out in there. I still secretly imagined, maybe fate would sense how much my heart ached for a small soul to hold, but again, fate denied. Fate said, “let’s just eliminate the confusion with our first answer.” I sobbed, with gasping breaths, as I drove away from the doctors office, where I was once again referred to another cancer hospital. No one wanted to cut me open without a smorgasbord of chemicals ready just in case. The second surgery took my left ovary and my uterus, still no cancer. I couldn’t complain, fate spared me. I searched the web, alone with my tears, and found no one talked about the grief, or the right grieve the absence of a uterus. I finally found an anonymous website and read one the most beautiful essays by a woman grieving much like I was. People say adopt, but I just didn’t want to. Like I said, I didn’t plan on having kids, plus I just didn’t think I should be a mom, even though I wanted to. But, I still see them in my dreams sometimes, and it makes me lonely. I saw a little girl once, walking fast to keep up behind her dirtbag dad. She and I made eye contact when she looked up from the ground. I smiled big for her, and her back at me, but all I could think was, if you were mine, we’d be walking side by side, at your pace.
3. I’m still here.
This almost sounds like a cheap plug for defiance. It’s not. Because sometimes, a lot of times, I just wish I wasn’t. Like I could reach the end point, and some grand prize for reaching the end, and suddenly I’d understand what it was all about and why we have to go through all we have to go through and all that bs suffering and sadness had a reason. Or I imagine that aliens are deciding if blowing up the world to stop pain, would be worth getting rid of all the love, too. And I give them my opinion. But, it changes daily. Life’s much harder for many, many, many more lives than mine. I’m lucky. I have food, clothes, a home, love, and overall health. Sometimes, I wish I could trade places with someone who really wanted to be here and couldn’t stay. But, it doesn’t work that way. I keep thinking, I am still here. It’s a self-indulgent process to assume, I’m still here for a reason. Or the numbers I see when I’m so low, or tired, or overwhelmed, mean something, like “keep going, you’re not done yet.” I do believe, when our numbers up, its up. I used to believe we had a purpose, and life was OK. But, I’ve lived long enough that my idealism, optimism, and hope got trampled, then rolled out by the great rolling pin of life, and baked into conformity of paying taxes and getting mad at other stupid people. But, ultimately, I’ve come back around. I fight my fears, my sadness, my anxieties, my everything else that makes me want to stay under the covers, and I accept that I am still here. And I need to do something with that.
And my 4th truth, because I dont like following bs writing prompt rules.
#4——I need to write, from truth. Even if it changes.
Outside my window, a spider lived. She or he, but I think a she, stayed a long time.
She got stuck in my car’s door handle once, traveled silently to the next town, and ran all my errands with me. She did not let go. I saw her, at my last stop, as my hand swept beside her. She hovered safe in the corner. She wanted to go home, so we did.
All the places she could have dropped and moved on, but she did not.
Once home, she spun a little line and let herself down. I picked her up and turned her around, she was heading the wrong way, into the yard. I sat her near our window.
I thought she might not survive; she seemed to disappear. I kept looking.
One night, she returned. Her unique pattern of seven long legs and one short, positively identified her. I knew it was her, and her web so close to my window.
Then we had several cold and windy nights, not common for fall in Florida at all. She didn’t put up her web, and once again, I feared she was gone.
Last night, she came back, wove a strong web that shined in the starlight, content with such a warm night, just perfect for an arthropod. I left the front light on to bring her more treats, fluttering and fresh for her to devour.
Today, I checked on her, hoping to see her web neatly down, and herself curled up by the roof. Instead, she remained, dancing in the light breeze, like an acrobat attached to a swing.
I brought her down and laid her to rest. Her small body a shell, and her spirit celestial.
I wrote them in a time of passion.
I listened to what I felt, then translated with tenderness.
I indulged in sweet desire with my solicitous words.
While I no longer possess those letters, I remember them, and me.
I regret nothing, not even the passing of time since I sent them. Writing those letters brought me to a far corner of my life, a peak worthy of reflection even now.
They delivered me along a wild path only chartered with instinct, never to be traced again.
Their replies brought me harmony, warmth that melted my ice, and left me alive.
And then alone. With gratitude.
(Nothing lost, only gained. I learned my own intensity, a fire within, lit by my unhindered words–and the gift of being heard.)