"The greatest dragon you'll ever have to slay is your own fear. If you can learn to live with fear,the world is yours. Face the fear today"- Robert Allen
Write for fifiteen minutes this week on one of the following:
1. hiding under the bed.........
2. morning comes..........
3. he was standing in the doorway................
Take a walk this week.
Take a bath with candles all around you this week.
Think about what you've been scared to do and take one step in the direction toward it this week.
Write for thirty minutes on:
When I die............
What I most essentially want...........
I support each one of you in opening locked doors this week. Think about the locked doors in your mind and locked doors in your heart. Can you be with them? Can you breathe into them? Can you open to new ways to unlock all the parts of yourself? Can you find new ways to embrace everything?
Write about it.
I saw this topic and I knew that it was for me, I had to write. My desire to write professionally has climaxed, I know that I am at a turning point. My mind is flooded with good ideas, a list of potential publishers sits to the right of my computer desk. I am ready, but I am afraid. For years I thought that it was success that made me so afraid, but some reflection has made me realize that it is nothing so exotic as all that. I am afraid of rejection, afraid that I won’t be able to pick myself up and move on. If I am rejected will I be strong enough to pick myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and keep plugging along in with good old American persistence, or will I shrivel up and prove to myself once and for all that I am weak? I am a poor mother, impatient and nervous. I am a poor wife, spending so much time dedicated to keeping home and children that I am less and less dedicated to maintaining a relationship with my devoted husband. I am a poor believer, going through the motions of faith, believing with my heart but the upkeep is sad. I feel distant from God. If I fail here, if I fail as a writer too, what will I have left? If chase the dream and fail to catch it, then what worth do I have as a human being? Can’t I be perfect at something? Can I do something beautiful, and perfect and complete?
But that isn’t it either. What is it that plagues me so, paralyzes me, tightens my chest and restricts my breathing when I sit before a blank page or glaring computer screen? Is it my unrealistic desire to do everything perfectly?
I spent last night sitting alone for hours in the dark. I tried to meditate but could not for I am crippled with fear and it is taking its toll. Over the past year, I have watched my new marriage dissolve from promise to failure. I comfort myself with the fact that we came together for a sacred purpose...our beautiful children. Growing up, I had always admired my mother for her strength in raising my sister and I alone and pictured myself walking a similar path someday. Yet as this union decays, I find that I am petrified to take that leap.
This fear is larger than life. The longer I stand back and weigh out the pros and cons, the larger the fear grows. I am afraid to stay and afraid to go, so I sit terrified, like a deer caught in the headlights. Mesmerized. Terrified. I don't know which way to go, yet I know I must go.
Unreasonable fear is not new to me. I spent much of my life terrified to operate a vehicle, simply because my own mother expressed her fear to me as a child. Learning to drive at age 27 was terrifying to me, yet once I got past the fear it was the most empowering thing I had ever done. I am afraid to dance because a man who broke my heart admonished me to "never stop dancing". In those words, he crippled me. Yet, it was not he who crippled me, but I who allowed his words to have that power. I am an artist, but have long ago retired my paints. Why? For fear that I could not do better than my last piece. How silly, these ridiculous fears.
I am at a crossroad in my life. Again, I will spend the late night hours in the dark attempting to meditate. Tonight I will meditate on fear. On the importance of fear to keep me from danger. On the waste of life and energy that fear causes when I am afraid of those things that enable me to truly live. Somehow things got all scrambled up and out of proportion. When morning comes again, I hope that it will find me in a new light.
"The best things in life aren't things."
Morning comes and I wonder if he will do something spectacular today. Will he make eye contact? Will he let me hold him close? Will today be the day I get to snuggle my child while he's awake? Will he babble today? Or will he act deaf as usual?
Morning comes and I wait to hear him... crying or quiet or babbling... which will give me an indication of how the day might go.
Morning comes and I wonder if I'll get to eat enough today--enough of the right things... and if I don't, what will happen to my insulin levels? What is that silently doing to me inside day after day... and how soon will that damage take me away from my husband and my son? I wonder if I'm going to make the time to go get my medicine to prevent some of that harm.
Morning comes and I am already trying to figure out how to feed my family with all the diet restrictions. I can't seem to get it right. If it's not one problem, it's another... and I wonder how I'm going to coordinate it all today so that we can eat the way we need to. Not just for our health, but for my son's developmental problems--which might be a reaction to food allergies.
Morning comes and I try to put on a brave face... to move forward as if it's all okay or will be okay. Don't get my hopes up, but don't be down about it either. How appropriate that we are in a season where mornings are devoid of sunlight...
by a bald headed
fat fucked up man
his penis tearing
into pure flesh
taking her baby mouth
and making her
suck his dick
this was my fate.
Never let your babies travel without you.
My grandparents entrusted me with their "friends" when I was 4. They trusted them to take me cross-country from Alaska to Kentucky to my mother. This man, This "dick" molested me along the way. let's talk about fear.
Hiding Under the Bed
Lots of things are under my bed, have been under my bed. Things I didn't know what to do with. Things I didn't feel like picking up. Even things I whould have thrown away but couldn't bear to, or was too lazy to and just crammed under there in the dark to sit. Some things rotted and were finally thrown away once I couldn't stand the smell. Old Pizza, beer cans, condoms, magazines, bras, single socks, cups, dishes, bugs, cat toys, clothes, pictures, dust, hair ties, shoes, homework, books, CD's. The list could go on and on. A place for the misplaced. A place kids hide when thier scared. Somewhere monsters live waiting to grab my feet when I step out of bed. Maybe they're scared too. Now that I can't fit under my bed, I hide under my covers. Hide in the warmth and the dark. It never lasts too long because my daughter will not be ignored. She won't let me hide away, I must move on. She doesn't know why I hide. She forces me out of bed to face the day, to live my life! She forces me to avoid the depression that I used to fall into. It used to overcome me, and I ignored it, masked it with 30 packs of Bud Dry. I would sleep until 4 just to maybe go to work and come home and do it all again. Chain smoking to busy my hands and ignore my mind. Doing lines or rolling joints to haze the past, or maybe the present. There are so many things I can't remember so many things stuffed under my bed, I don't know if I can clean them out. I dont' know if its because I wasn't conscious when I put them there, or if I simply chose to forget what I was doing to myself.
This good posture doesn't allow my hair to drape forward, hiding my face like an adolescent in math class. It doesn't hurt my shoulders. They are not tense, but they are strong. Strong to endure cries of pain, the weight of a friend's confidence, of a man's frustration at his boss.
I want the posture of a model, knowing that the eyes on her are dazed, transfixed. Not just by her physique, but her attitude. Her mentality. She struts, swerves, goes straight, doubles back. Everywhere she turns becomes her domain.
I want the posture of a dancer. Strong, in control of each movement - leaps and falls and motions I can't define. Free to reach beyond what's practical into the realm of disciplined, exquisite grace. Beauty in the effort that does not show.
Okay, or maybe I'd settle for the type of assured posture that stands at the kitchen counter slicing onions with ease. A firm grasp, a steady hand. Not, "How do I do this? Which way? I don' t feel like cooking today."
I could do with good posture as I carry my breast pump to and from my designated room at work. Defying those who think nursing past six months is some sort of oddity. Telling them with my gait that their opinions can't touch my resolve.
I could stand a little straighter when I, all five feet and two inches, stand before my six-foot-plus boss and let him know that his last lie didn't escape me, that he should be warned: I possess truth and am not afraid to use it.
I want to be every inch of the woman I am able to be. Every lean, fit, capable, radiant inch. Chin up...stand tall...eye contact.. And...hold.
I am so very, very, very frightened to die. I always want to be janette. To be this daughter, mother, wife, niece, teacher, lover, sister… that is I. I don’t want to be anybody else if there really is reincarnation. I don’t want to even to think that I was someone else, may be someone with children, a lover, a mother? To even imagine someone mourning my other self makes me panicky. Or what if there is nothing after this? Nothing, my soul must forever lie in this decomposing body knowing I will never hold, talk, love or just be again. At night I ask god, goddesses, souls, the creator or the dead spirits themselves of those whom I love to come to me and give me some sign of where they are now. Then I lie awake afraid they will really come. I then get angry and begin to berate myself with questions wouldn’t you like to know what is after death? How can you be afraid to see or speak to your dead grandmother or aunt…? Why are you so scared of death?
So I think this is not healthy and I feel that perhaps I need to address my spiritual needs. I read and I attend services only to confirm that I am already a very spiritual person with many beliefs about life. I just cannot wrap my spiritual ness around death. How can I not find a balance? I have peace in life and yet I fear death so very much. Why does it hurt to swallow and my breath becomes shallow and painful at even the slightest inkling that I will actually die?
When my children were younger just learning to talk I tried to ask them where they came from before they were in my belly. I did this with both of my girls right around the same time that they began to show some communication skills. I thought I could catch them while we were alone, or perhaps while they were unaware and busying playing. They would then reveal to me the secret. I persisted and tried again when they got older each year thinking that perhaps at just the right moment the question would be asked I would get my answer and it would offer me peace of mind. Both girls never could answer my question much to my disappointment.
I had a dream that I was in this room with some people. We were isolated from everyone else alive. I am not sure if I was dead but there I was in this sort of apartment with these people I didn’t know. There was a kitchen and a dining room table with chairs and a window that had a view of other buildings. There was snow outside on the ground and the buildings. I was wondering where my girls were and my husband. I am not sure how but I knew there was a phone and so I picked it up. Before I could dial an operator began speaking and I recognized the voice to be my aunts. I was close to tears and I began to say into the receiver over and over “aunty ritma, aunty ritma?” Finally the women after a confused moment answered me yes it was my aunty ritma. Somehow I knew that she was able to bring back this memory of being this person, this aunty ritma. I told her how much I missed her and how happy I was to talk to her but she then began to explain to me that she really was no longer my aunt, that now she operated the telephones in this place, wherever I was? She hung up and I was over come with sadness that again my aunt was taken from me. I couldn’t call my husband or children and for some reason I had to stay in this apartment until a decision was made. I woke before I ever learnt what that decision was in regards to or what the answer was. Awake I laid in bed filled with sadness that it was only a dream and that I had not had the chance to speak with my aunt. What did this dream mean? Was it a desperate attempt to deal with aunty ritmas death? Did my unconscious want to somehow fulfill my deep need to speak with her again and did so in a dream?
On the way to my grandmother’s funeral I sat in the limo just as everyone else in my family holding a white rose. We would throw these flowers on her grave after the sermon. As I was getting out of the limo the stem broke on the flower. I have always felt that to be some sort of sign that my grandmother was unhappy with me about something? To this day it haunts me.
As I was driving back to Alberta with my cousin after the funeral we were choosing a cd to listened to when we felt the car slide a bit on the road. We joked about how the family could not handle another funeral and then moments later the car went off the road and rolled over several times. We walked away unscathed but many years later this car accident made me question the relevance of it in my life when I read a book.
It was a book that was written by a physic that claimed she remembered the afterlife and could speak with dead. The author writes that we create a road map of our lives before being born. We include who our family, friends, jobs, where we live, every aspect of our lives in this map. We decide what we want to learn in the new life and lay our paths down ahead of us. We also include several times in our lives where we can get out and break free of this plan. She wrote that each time we have come close to dying but had managed to survive was one of the side roads in our map. It was a time for us to decide whether we wanted to continue in this life or head back to the other side. I can’t help but wonder if that car accident was one of my chances. I have also found it strange that myself and my cousin who was driving were favorites of my grandmothers. Was this a path in our maps we created that corresponded with the death of our grandmother so we could follow her if our grief was to great?
Grief blinds me, death confounds me and life calls me to carry on. The unfairness of death gets the angry bile to rise in my throat, as I want to shout cant I just talk to them one more time? Then I think would it be enough, probably not but at least it would be something. I want to be in this life forever even when times are so tough and I want to cry from the sheer exhaustion of just trying to feed my children and pay the rent. I am scared of this unknown to the point of obsession. I must will myself not to think about death at night or I will not be able to fall asleep. Where do I find this much needed comfort and understanding of death I do not know? I continue to search knowing these answers lie somewhere perhaps even inside of me. Am I just following my path on my map plodding along until I discover the answers? Is this one of the lessons I choose to learn in this life? So many questions I hope I have time to find the answers.
take care janette
Its funny this memory just came back to me the other day when my daughter began telling me how she cant take her blanket off at night even if she is sweating because that thing under her bed would get her if she did. I of course agreed telling her of my own reluctance to let the blankets fall away. Perhaps I should of shared my story and then tried to convince her that of course there was nothing under her bed or that it made no sense that this thing could only grab you if you were uncovered. I didn’t because I know she is brilliant and knows, really know just as I do that there really is nothing under our beds. What is it we really are afraid of then? The covers in our life whether it is day or night must cover us tightly so we may never become exposed to the unknown that is hiding from us? I begin to psychoanalysis myself and daughter and conclude it must be vulnerability that we fear but then again may be its just the boogey man under our beds.
take care janette
But I haven’t made any bed-leaps since I became a mother. Perhaps this is because there are now “real” fears I contend with daily to replace my “psychic” underbed beast. I fear that my son is still breathing, doing what every parent does – sneaking in, finger beneath his nostril, checking for inhalations. I fear that he is developing as he should, that all his parts are in good working order. I fear that I am not producing enough breast milk, even though I produce copious amounts. I fear that I will drop him, or bump him, or forget to do something really important and he will somehow be hurt, injured, or worst thought of all: die.
Having brought him forth from my own body, he is a part of me. Perhaps I fear he will come to harm because he is now outside of me, where the big, bad world can get him – he is close enough to the bed’s edge for the beast to sink its nasty teeth into him. Or perhaps it is because we are connected, body from body, that I fear a part of myself getting hurt. Or does our bodily connection make him precious to me, so precious that I fear for his safety?
I recently read Janna Malamud Smith’s The Potent Spell: Mother Love and the Power of Fear. Her thesis is that mothers’ fear of child loss makes us uniquely vulnerable and it is this vulnerability that our culture uses to keep women in an unequal status position. She weaves into her argument various texts, institutions, assumed behaviors, norms from our culture, and her own maternal experiences, asserting that because we bear the brunt of responsibility for keeping our children safe and healthy, mothers must be vigilant. Our fears make us vulnerable and impact our roles in the workplace, at home, and within the patriarchal social fabric. We make choices, or choices are made for us, to protect our children and this impacts how we are able to pursue careers, confront injustice directly, or achieve political equality. While her thesis is rather sweeping, one thing is strongly resonant: mothers fundamentally “think for two.” We cannot separate ourselves from the babies that came from within our bodies; we are always aware of them. Or, as Adrienne Rich writes in her landmark work, Of Woman Born, mothering involves “the detailed apprehension of another human existence.”
As a mother, I can no longer focus on the beast under my bed as it relates to me only. I now face the beast, or others beasts that will appear, as a protectress of my child, not just as a singular woman confronting my own shadows. And this new relation is as empowering as it is frightful. My fears haven’t abated. If anything, they are more intense – my mind races with horrific scenes of the terrors that can harm my little boy: broken bones, illness, sharp knives, stinging insects, long-fanged carnivores, kidnappers, molesters, perverts, bullies, hatred, ignorance, intolerance. But somehow there is also a strength in the way I am facing my fears; they seem to have purpose now. I am thinking, and fearing, for two. And knowing that I am doing my best to keep my watchful mother-eye on ever-vigilant-mode, I feel I can, at least attempt to, keep my baby safe…
“What are you doing, son?” I questioned him with a chuckle.
“Maze splashed me.” He started to jump up and down while telling me each detail of his morning adventure with his rambunctious puppy.
“Maze jumped in the puddles. He jumped on me and knocked me down.”
“Where’s your dad? Is he still outside?” I asked already knowing the answer.
“Yep. He told me to come in and get dried off. Will you help me, mommy?”
“Sure. Stand right here so you don’t track more water through the house. I don’t want you slipping.” I opened the door to the hall closet and reached for the soft, blue beach towel. Jonah’s favorite.
“Here. Let’s pull off your wet clothes. Were you having fun with Maze?”
“What is daddy doing?” I asked while drying his hair with the corner of the towel.
“He is digging holes. He’s going to put the bushes in and a tree.”
Jonah was always so enthusiastic when he spoke. No one ever believed me when I told him he was two. He was such a happy child; full of curiosity and excitement. It was impossible to be angry or bitter or unhappy around him. It was as if God handpicked him to be a part of our lives, knowing that Travis and I would need him to keep us strong, keep us together.
Now when I walk in to a room all eyes are on my daughter with her beautiful baby skin and Shirley Temple curls or they turn to my husband, tall dark and a shorn head consistent with USMC regulations. I am just the figure between them in sensible flats: the mommy, the wife, the size 10 with jiggle in my hips and bags under my eyes. I am the invisible one, the person who exists only in her relations to others, who is never asked her opinion or her reading list.
No one asks about my day or what I do. I'm sure they all assume that my answer will be about cleaning up cheerios and wiping up apple juice; that it will include a litany of laundry and toddler tantrums. And it might, I mean it could. My days are filled with the zen of the doing and undoing of the same tasks: breakfast, diapers, cleaning, chasing, entertaining, nursing (repeat 4 times). The mind numbing monotony of being a stay at home toddler's mom and a Marine wife that people assume and dread hearing about. So even when they do ask, to be polite and not bore anyone, I always answer with a shrug "you know how it is with a toddler.........". But it is not always so.
In my heart I compose poems. When I wake up and when I lay down and when taking out the garbage and when rinsing out the diapers my mind composes poems that compel me to joy. poems that compel me to find the dancing shoes dusty under the bed put them on and shake my hips like a size 6 in love because in my heart I am. In my soul I am still the warrior-poet, the priestess, the dancer.
What if I were to answer their question like this: "Today I wrote a poem that would steal your breath away and make your heart tremble". Would I still be invisible?
The thick silence envelops me as I sit on my computer and read this thread. The night is quiet, but I am restless. My thoughts drown my spirit and I can't close my eyes without hearing a constant barrage of commands, judgments and shoulds.
Tonight I can't dismiss them. So I push them back and occupy myself with other things. Like reading this thread. I think, what do I fear the most?
I believe our greatest enemy is ourselves. Our preconceived thoughts, notions, worries, fears, judgments, assumptions, "shoulds". We kill ourselves to be the best parent, worker, spouse, person. Then we step back and judge. It's not good enough, you're not there, you're doing it all wrong. Is everyone doing this or is it just me?
Why can't great be good enough? Why does perfection loom its ugly (yes, ugly) head? Fear of failure is paralyzing, debilitating. The product of a negative paradigm of perfection.
And I will conquer it. One day at a time. If it takes all my life, I will. I will make mistakes, and I will rejoice. I will learn. I will move on. I will grow. I will live.
After a long, difficult labor and violent delivery, I was left feeling wrung out, empty and afraid. How would I be able to care for my little one when I couldn't even get to the bathroom myself? Not to mention if I could even make it in time!
Finally allowing myself to feel vulnerable opened up my ability to fully receive-to be grateful for all that I have and bask in the warmth of being loved.
Wounds of the flesh do eventually heal over and along with it my newfound willingness to surrender to my "weakness" of need was sealed. The every day armor I wear is too big and bulky to make room for much else. At least for now...
Whew. Well that wasn't so bad. Funny that it took a writing assingment about fear to get me to actually write and then post. Thanks for giving me the space and thanks to you other mama's for sharing your pride, grief, joys and pain. It helps this mother feel a little less lonely.
Morning can be refreshing relief. Night nourishing. Body repeaired--memory, fears, worked out all night long in your subconcious. You wake to see Poesy: spectacular colors of orange and rosy pink streak across the sky. If you are lucky, your bed faces due east to a window of the heavens. You bow down to child's pose and then move to prayer, saluting the sun. All the while you are thankful. Thankful for the morning, thankful to be alive another day and that you made it through another night.
at your mercy
seeing the light reflected in your child's eyes
and then screaming into or around them
is like glass shattering
or throwing a rock into the settled silt that is reflecting you.
the clarity is clouded.
After breakfast I sprint to the shower and feel revived as the warm water streams over my head, shoulders, and back. The sweet smell of shampoo and soap fill my nostrils and energize me further. Like a primaballerina leading her troop, I glide out of the shower and to the open arms of a warm towel. Quick now, as not to get a chill, I dry and dress for the day.
My daughter and my love are still groggy from the night, and cringe at the sight of my OVERdelight. Oh what they are missing in the joyous thoughts of the day to come, for they would rather sit around the house and bum. But I, I have school to attend today!
So out the door I go on my merry, merry way!
has a long red braid of hair that drapes
down her back.
Her tall, elegant frame
with this giant exclamation mark
of fiery red.
But it is the veins in her hands that have always been my fascination.
the pulsing blood within them making a statement.
Passion for life and image-making bulging to
the surface, throbbing with energy.
Strong, capable, not-to-be-messed-with hands.
My mother’s hands raised me.
In my mother’s hands, I was safe to grow and explore.
My mother’s hands are creative forces.
They paint images,
They read and annotate books.
They cook delicious plates of succulent food,
plaited my hair for school,
drafted and designed for a living.
My mother’s hands do not join in prayer in any official religion,
yet her hands are imbued with sacred power.
They wield the tools of change:
the loving touch of a mother.
Often adorned with heavy silver rings,
it is as if her hands were icons in a temple
specially dressed during holy days.
My mother is an artist.
With her long, bony fingers, ink stains under her nails, she reinvents a way of seeing--and being—Woman…
In paint. Ink. Charcoal.
Her brush strokes are political acts,
born of her womanist vision.
The models she draws from are neophytes at her temple.
The colors with which she adorns women’s bodies
brand new, glorious robes
Now a mother myself,
my own hands are showing their veins more prominently.
My fingers seem longer, bonier, stronger.
Holding my son’s soft, plump body,
I see echoes of my mother’s hands holding me.
Drawing for me.
Enraptured, I watched as her hands infused life into my desires
and manifest them onto paper.
She was able to conjure with her hands.
They were magical, creating something out of nothing.
She was powerful.
Hands, handing down, across generations.
Hand-reared children formed by loving motherhands.
We sculpt life from the muddy matter of the world.
setting our hands to our purpose.
Courtney and Cree, baby made 3, added one more then there were 4, sakes alive, then we had 5, another in the mix now we have 6!
A Momma in love with her Little Women-Jewel Face, Jo Jo Bean, June Bug, and Sweet Coraline.