Burning flags

I should have known
From the beginning
There were so many red flags
It looked like a construction site
Gone wrong

At first there was panic
And I revisited
The sins of my youth
In my head
Berating myself
Over and over
Revisiting each wound
It felt like a battlefield
Scars and wounds riddling
And no healing to be found

And then
A strange peace
A word I don’t remember
That sent a tidal wave
Through me
And helped me forget
Washing that all from my mind
From my memory

/ / / /

When you light a match
The fire has limited scope
It burns what is consumable
And then dies slowly
But playing with matches
Usually results in a burn
There is a surface scorch
The pain is real
But its forgetable
Numbed finger tips last only so long

But fire
Also mesmerizes
It lulls
There is a complacency
That happens
When you forget
Its power
Its ferocity
Its destruction

/ / / /

And so
I entered the fray
Eyes wide open
Or half closed
Perhaps fully blinded

I made excuses
For you
I thought I saw
What others didn’t
There were glimpses
Of another you
But they appeared
so irregularly
So fleeting
I though them
Figments
My mind mad

There was a spin
On everything
Nothing was good enough
And your words
Your thoughts
Your world
Was all that mattered
You pushed boundaries
You spoke harshness
Confusion and mind games
Reigned

Over and over
Fury rose up in me
And I swore
No more
And yet I returned
Like a moth
To a flame
Intrigued by light
By warmth
By death

And I did die
Slowly
Over time
So gradually
That I was unaware
Piece by piece
Parts of me were consumed

One day
I said yes
To a proposition
That when spoken
On my lips
Showed just how far
I had let
Myself
My heart
My mind
Be consumed
By you

And I admitted
In whispered words
“We’re using one another”
And even though
I choked
As they passed my lips
I walked out the door
And continued
The façade

There was a
Flicker of shame
That day
An ache that registered
Heart deep
But barely
Touched my surface

I looked up words
Like toxic, obsessive and addiction
Because I knew
All three applied
And I was drowning

I longed for a look from you
But then resented it
I looked for words from you
But then felt the trap
The tiring
The exhaustion
The constant battle
You waged

Wounds were never enough
You wanted a death blow
And ceasing the fight
Leaving the battle
Like a sullen
Spoiled, entitled child
When the war wasn’t enough
You turned your back
On the carnage that remained

I’d like to blame you
For my scars
But some are self inflicted
And I chose this
Macabre dance
Time and again
Even though
I heard the death dirge

I thought I was immune
No, I believed
There was no thought
My mind
My rational self
Lay chained
Silenced
Beaten into submission

Because truth
Would reveal
Just how deep
This noose
Was tightening
And my fight
For breathe
Felt like control

I swatted away
Truth from the lips of others
Like a pesky nuisance
Not letting it
Penetrate too deep
As to keep me alive
Give me breathe
Help me break free

I clung to you
The idea of you
The mirage of you
Though my finger tips burned
Identity being erased
730 days
Innumerable minutes

And I had become
A shade
A mirage
A remnant
Unrecognizable
Invisible

Few knew
How deeply
You had enveloped me
My mask held tight
My armor in place
I mirrored falsehood
That isolated me
Farther under
And further in
Deeper than I imagined

It ended
In agonizing abruptness
Or perhaps
The finality seemed quick
But the aftershocks
Continued well after

Seeing light
Actually finding it
Knowing it
Acknowledging it
Felt excrutiating
It burned
But unlike before
This light, this flame
This fire
Destroyed pretense

Silence
Fabrication
Had left me
Skin and bones
Ravaged by the truth
And barely holding on
Gasping for air

The moonlight
Too much for me
Unwilling to be
Unmasked
In the brazen heat
Of the noonday sun
Moon rays
Illuminated
The trail that
Littered my path
A kaleidoscope
Of pieces

I had surrendered
Who I was
To become
A ghost of myself

Two weeks
14 days
And I still feel
The aftershocks

I grapple with phantom shackles
My range of movement
Limited by former restraints
My wings are recovering
But I’m still lame
Perhaps this limp
Is my rememberence
My atonement
My freedom

Advertisements

Working thru the tears

mourn: to feel or express sorrow or grief over

Yesterday, I lost my job.

It was something that I thought might happen, but that didn’t stop it from being very sad.

On January 1st, Ontario changed minimum wage from somewhere about 11.50/hr to a mandatory 14/hr. There were many thoughts behind it I am sure. For those of us who actually make minimum wage, it wasn’t necessarily the benefit the government proposed it to be.

Numerous people will lose their jobs. Numerous small businesses will close up. Our cost of living (for EVERYONE) will rise significantly.

I anticipated that in January I may be without a job. I am the last person hired at my store, and also drive about an hour to get there. Everyone else is local and has been there over two years. I was considering attempting a new job in September closer to home, but knew that there would be much upheaval with the coming changes.

The thing that makes me saddest about this situation, is one of the things that made my heart hurt last time as well. I love people. As someone that works in the Customer Service industry, it is hard not to come to know and enjoy the people you daily interact with. In this situation and the last one, I was unable to say goodbye to either my coworkers (this time I got to tell two people and get a hug) or the customers who really meant something to me.

Last night tears ran down my face, thinking about the people who I won’t see today…or any day in the future. I didn’t know yesterday would be our last interaction. I hope they know how much they meant to me and how thankful I am to have had them in my life.

In some sense, perhaps I cry because I want to be acknowledged for having made a difference, for being someone that really made their day a little better and brighter. I also cry because they made my day better and brighter.

I will miss Bill saying “hello Janel” in his special way every shift we work together. I will miss Jen laughing with me and telling me fun things about her family and dog. I will miss Bob’s easy going personality. I will miss Zach’s encouragement when I really messed things up. I will miss Todd’s easy going smile. I will miss Joan calling me and telling me I’m something special. I will miss all the people who came in for water and who I had a weekly interaction with at the same time each week. I will miss Dana putting up with my quirkiness. I will miss Betty’s mom’s smile. I will missing hearing all the Platz Deutch around me. I will miss the beards, and bonnets and homemade/homespun clothes. I will miss Melissa telling me about her painting escapades. Dean telling me about his daughter and new grandson. Sheila and her husband claiming me as their favourite.

These are the people whose faces run through  my mind as the tears drip down my face. these are the people I wished I had known to say goodbye to before I left.

I understand being let go at the end of my shift. It makes sense. But its hard to not have closure, especially for someone that needs and loves people like I do.

Middle of the Night

I have been waking up in the middle of the night (or more like mid morning, but like 2am morning, not 6am morning) for some reason.

The other day when I woke up I got to thinking about my frustrating friendship with the guy that I’ve mentioned on here a few times. Its a really weird friendship that we have, that seems to be revolving around whether he’s wanting to hangout or even talk that day or not. I am super frustrated by it, and have had many conversations with myself over expectations, etc.

In the middle of my pondering that particular night though, God brought something to mind that hit me across the head. He made me look at my relationship with Him and he prompted my heart to look at it and see that it is much the same. I only seek Him on my terms, when I think the time is right. I’ve very inconsistent and very much all about myself in this relationship. It was a bit of a slap in the face, but needed.

So I’ve been thinking about that. A real life example, while perhaps not a good relationship, gave me a picture of what my relationship with God is looking like right now. He’s always there. He loves me. He wants to be in relationship with me. I’m the one with the finicky heart. I’m the one that does things on my terms. The one that dictates what’s happening in our relationship. That’s not what should be happening.

There should be a longing in my  heart. For Him first and foremost. For His leading. For his love. For a knowledge of who He’s crafted me to be. For the knowledge of the sin riddled heart that He has forgiven and covered in grace. a much needed reminder in the middle of the night.

Unexpected Change

so the thing about all of this is this

I had been contemplating getting a new job.

and then today. i received a text at 11am that said ‘can you meet me before work at the main office’ from the big boss

i’m a pessimist and have an anxiety disorder so right away I was beside myself. what did she want from me? these kind of summons usually don’t bode well for someone.

i messaged a couple of my friends to pray for me. And I am thankful for the prayers they prayed because I don’t think i would have had the strength to walk into that room and walk out of it again as I did.

the tears started falling once I hit the door to the office, but I didn’t turn around and let them see. I went to the front of the cafe and ordered an alcoholic fancy drink as the tears poured down my face and someone who I had discounted as my sworn enemy gave me THREE hugs to try to help me feel better.

Today, I was let go from my job. for the first time in my life. The reasons were many. They don’t have alot of money to pay full time people. they are restructuring. she thought my heart wasn’t in it. etc. that last one devastated me. i’ve been frustrated but i’ve been doing my best and i love my customers and most of my coworkers. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to anyone (though i texted my one coworker).

until that text message, I didn’t have a clue this was coming. I know that God’s got this. Until she said ‘we have bad news for you’…i didn’t believe it might be true. I am looking toward the future. There is hope because perhaps tomorrow, or next week or next month, or sometime there will be something for me. He will guide my way.

But it still hurts. I still had tears streaming down my cheeks so badly I couldn’t see to drive. I went home and was hugged by my mum and dad and snuggled the pup close. and talked some stuff through. And I feel held. There are so many that lifted me up today. They are holding me, He is holding me. I am striving and longing and seeking to trust.

Masquerade

The thing with Masquerade balls is that everyone comes with a mask. And at some point, everyone’s identity is revealed.
In a sense the past couple months feel like the ball. I’ve been holding onto that mask for all I’m worth…and its about to be grabbed from my face and my full identity revealed.
___

Because you see…my birthday is on Wednesday. And people will wish me happy birthday. Which in itself is not a bad thing. But there are those who suppose that I’m younger than I am in actuality, and they are in for the shock of their lives. Well…perhaps only one person in particular.
___

Its been one of those dances, where you’re in a round and you start off with your partner and then they move to the next person in the round and so forth until you find yourselves on opposite ends of the room, seemingly having a great time with other partners but not quite sure when it is that you’ll be flung together again. But the things is…you only know the person based on the identity you chose when you came to the ball…and your short stint dancing together doesn’t reveal a whole lot about anything deeper than appearances.

___

This dance, has been a long one. It seems to go on forever. Or maybe its just the ball that seems to go on forever. I’m not one for a crush of guests, but when I entered and saw you, it was like all the dancing partners that I’ve been bridge burned by showed up in ghost form, or at least haunted me in memories of things left unsaid, and moments that have dug deeply into my heart with bitterness festering. Though you left me reeling and confused, I felt I could be myself…though I’m sure there was still the illusion. You can wear and mask and reveal yourself truly, without ripping all the wounds clear and clean, and revealing who you are beneath what looked like a gaudy painted on face anyway.

___

The thing about the masquerade is that everyone can mingle. And most people are there to be someone else for the night. And while you’re not mine, for some reason I’ve taken a shine to you and my eyes follow you around the room. All those ghosts have sat themselves down at my table, and began to regale themselves with tales of what has been and the missteps I’ve taken on the dance floor of life. They mock this enchantment as just another mask to stash away one day in a closet full of dreams hidden behind other facades. And though I’m a lost cause, even to myself, I see my blood boil and my face color with jealousy and betrayal, when neither of these are your weapons but rather the poisoning of my own mind.

___

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up with aching heels, my feet sore from the dance floor. And I’ll see my mask sitting on the table next to my bed. And I’ll know that there is a place for this mask next to the others I’ve had stashed away. Reality hurts too much anyway. There should always be something to hide behind. Perhaps my age is where I’ll start.

why are you here?

I am more of a reader than a writer. Perhaps I’m writer too, I just haven’t given myself permission to claim those words yet.

When I was at Festival of Faith and Writing in April, I was asked by several individuals at different publishing houses (as I perused their books) if I was a writer. I answered that I write a little but I’m more of a reader and I see myself as a champion of those who write. I was asked by one person what kinds of things I was reading and I struggled to find an answer because I often have several books on the go. I mentioned that I was still working through Seth Haines’ book ‘Coming Clean’ and really loving it.

But in that question of ‘Are you a writer’ and my answer in the negative, I felt like a bit of interest was lost. I even felt like they were saying, ‘Well, why are you here then?’ those those words were never spoken out loud (but rather in my own head). And in some sense I felt like i was on the periphery, yet another place that I didn’t belong. But there were those who I spent time with at the Festival that helped me to see differently, to know differently. With whom I felt loved, and accepted simply how I was. I am so thankful for those few who were part of that for me.

I am blessed to know of (and have met) many people who are gifted beyond words when it comes to laying down words. There are some perhaps that I compare myself, though I don’t know if I could put names down right off the top of my head. However, there are those who when I see that they have written I know that my heart will sink deep into their words and it will be a vehicle to speak to my soul.

Weather these incredibly gifted individuals become a household name or not, I am so blessed to be able to be on their side, reading their work and cheering them on to use their gifts.

There are many areas of life in which I’ve often felt that I don’t measure up. perhaps claiming the title of writer is one of them. But I do sit down and put my fingers on the keyboard and there are things recorded for future retrieval but I’m not sure that I can claim that as true writing yet.

“I shall not want”

At the retreat I attended the day before I headed to the Festival of Faith and Writing, there were several contemplative sessions that were headed up by Ed.

In one of our last sessions before heading out for the evening, we were given several lines of different verses, and were to choose one to meditate on and to listen to what God wanted to speak to us about.

Previously in the day, we had already repeated and listened to Psalm 23 and it washed over us in lilting melody. Pieces of the verse had reverberated at that point, but this particular time of reflection had me pondering the first verse:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…

My mind stuck on the term ‘want’. I pondered what it might stand for.

If I ‘shall not want’ then it means that I will not lack, that i have more than enough, there is grace and mercy for my life, and that what is necessary will be taken care of.

I also thought about what ‘wanting’ might look like: to be focused too much on self, to feel a sense of scarcity and to fear.

As I focused on the term ‘want’ it seemed to resonate with me that it was an ‘aching hole’ that could only be filled by the One who alone knew what I needed, and knows what I need.

And then I was reminded that there was a ‘not’ that meant – He will provide, He knows and sees what I need and what I long for.

My heart pondered the idea of MY shepherd, how he hadn’t pawned off my soul and its wants to something/someone else. That he takes care of every one. He does so with everyone.

This is not a task for Him, but rather he does these things with a heart of love, a heart of direction for those he loves and holds dear.

There is also a sense of a heart of sacrifice in what has been given on our behalf, to render this gift available to us, that speaks to that wounded place of want.

As MY shepherd, ‘He joins me in the journey; in the midst of the fray. He is looking too and fro, there is never anything that catches Him unaware. His eyes miss nothing. He hears each voice, and gives of Himself undivided to everyone who calls on His Name.

(reflections from Renew and Refine Retreat, Grand Rapids, Michigan; April 13/2016