Beneath the Insomnia

_20160923_184552.JPGShe paints the same canvas
Again and Again
In her dreams
while they sleep
and it sleeps.
Because otherwise
they never stay still
long enough
to dry
Her tear
drops of paint
That leave trails
of subtle color
behind them
And behind them
previous paintings
also made without brushes
That always end up
painted over
the next morning
to hide the evidence

And the canvas of it all
Is her face
and her fears
For at the core of each night
when stripped down
She will always find that stark white woven surface
of fears and insecurities
whose texture shows through each layer
And whispers to her
between brushstrokes
Reminding her that
There is no escape
For gravity cannot be bribed
And the running never stops because he’s holding death in his hands, at her head, and as the neurons fire she finds they sound remarkably like gunshots and all she seeks is safety and sleep
But she can never find foundness
Awake or asleep
So as she tries to decide which one is less terrifying,
She paints.

And
at the core of each night
mare each poem each painting,
Remains a reminder of running,
is running.

Beneath the Insomnia

In Response

It upsets me that I end up crying in church all the time.

It upsets me that Christianity feels so arrogant. And that it condemns a large portion of the world to hell. And that a lot of the time it turns people into projects and checkboxes.  And that God’s sovereignty can be used as an excuse for a whole range of things.  And that the woman at the playground didn’t even care who I was as a person or what I had to say when she handed the Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet to me.

It upsets me that we exist in a broken world but that God hasn’t fixed that yet.  And it upsets me that that increases my doubt and causes me to question his sovereignty, power, and existence.

It upsets me that every image or thought I have about God is tainted by my humanity, and that I am supposed to be able to see him as perfect, when all I have are imperfect people as previous reference points.

It upsets me that I have to try and discern the difference between biblical truth and fiction created by “christian culture.”

It upsets me that I can’t read the Bible without twisting the words or getting stuck on some theological/philosophical issue (e.g. the problem of evil or the interplay of sovereignty and free will).

It upsets me that faith is so difficult.

It upsets me that I don’t understand. And that this can be answered with “well you’re finite so what do you expect.”

Death upsets me.  Seeing my mother-in-law fight for her life for four years only to die after all upsets me.

It upsets me that we are given friends and loved ones only to lose them.  And it upsets me that the sermon today seems to suggest that this is to teach us a lesson. And it upsets me that all of life feels like a lesson to be learned.

It upsets me that I have a friend dying of cancer. And it upsets me that praying seems futile. And my pessimism upsets me.

It upsets me that life isn’t fair.  And it upsets me that I feel guilty for saying that as I live in a free country with a roof over my head.

It upsets me that I am small and insignificant.  And that I don’t feel in control of anything.

It upsets me that sovereignty and manipulation seem interchangeable.  And that I feel like a pawn.

I am upset by the feeling that Christianity promotes self-loathing and low self esteem.

It upsets me that the arguments against Christianity feel so potent.  And that so much can be explained by science and psychology.  Because this makes faith seem even more impossible. And it upsets me that my doubt makes me feel inferior.  And causes me to fear becoming ‘a project’ to my Christian friends.

Empty words upset me.  And hypocrisy.

And it upsets me that sometimes I feel so much anger inside but I don’t know what to do with it.

It upsets me that this list is so long and that it is only the tip of the iceberg.  And it upsets me that it shows my selfishness and my price and my brokenness and my laziness and my need and my misunderstanding.

And it upsets me that numbness feels like a more tolerable way to exist than having to deal with all of these things that upset me.

 

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In response to the opening question of:

what upsets.JPG

In Response

TERRIFIED.

Hey friends.

I have a confession to make.

Perhaps you already know this, perhaps you don’t care, perhaps this will shock you…regardless, I need to say it:

I am terrified.

I am terrified of failure.  I am terrified of disappointing people.  I am terrified of the unknown and of death.  I am terrified of terrorism, of losing my loved ones, of looking stupid in social situations, of being called dumb, and of public speaking.  I am terrified of getting into a car accident or of being on the phone with someone when they do. I am terrified of people thinking I am selfish, rude, or inauthentic.  I am terrified of being selfish, rude, or inauthentic.  I am terrified of wearing my heart on my sleeve, of putting myself out there for everyone to see.  I am terrified to share my writing and my thoughts with people who may not receive them well.  I am terrified of being judged and of being judgemental, of becoming an alcoholic, of being fat, of being a lousy wife, or someday a bad mother. I am terrified of making new friends and of losing old ones.  I am terrified of meaninglessness and of that feeling in the pit of my stomach that tells me that I am not unique, not special, not important.  I am terrified of the darkness that creeps into my head, twists my thoughts, grabs me by the wrists and pulls me down. I am terrified by my doubts but also terrified by blind faith.

I am terrified of being anonymous but equally as terrified of being known.  I am terrified of the prospect of trying to start a business…for I am just as scared to fail as I am to succeed. I am terrified of dying, but I am also terrified of living.

There you have it: I am a repetitive scaredy cat.

I live in constant fear of what people think of me, of wasting my life, of denying who I am, of not knowing what that even means.  I feel like I am constantly fighting, swimming upstream against all of these fears…the ceaseless voices in my head warning me of all the ways everything could go up in flames.

But here’s the thing.  I am not going to stop swimming.  In fact, as I continue to identify all these things that I am afraid of, I feel as though I am slowly getting more equipment, increasing my ability to swim.  The more I study the flow of the water, the currents, the jagged rocks…the more I am able to avoid the things I should be afraid of and ignore the others. That doesn’t make the water flow less, but it makes my muscles grow.

Okay…enough of that long, rambling (kind of dumb) metaphor.

The point is: I want to keep taking steps to face these fears.  I want to identify the things I desire to be true of my life and actually go after them.  For basically my whole life my goal has been college.  And I thought at the end of it, I would be done searching… that I would know my “life path.”  Funny thing is: I’m here now, at life post-college, and I think I know less about this path than I did going in!  On one hand that terrifies me, but on the other it gets me so dang excited!  And some days I think it only terrifies me because of the way other people react when they hear that I am not getting a full-time architecture office job straight out of college.  (Yes, I am appreciative of my college education.  No, I don’t think contemplating altering my career path makes it a waste of five years.  No, I don’t intend to just be a lazy bum mooching off of my husband.  No, I am not worried about how this time spent nannying will look to future potential employers.)  At the end of the day it is not them who has to live with my choices and decisions (to get a job I resent, to chase my dreams, to take time off), it is me.  (well…. and my husband…who is wonderfully supportive!)

So this post is for two reasons:

#1  –  I have been afraid to really mention my blog on Facebook much at all, for Facebook contains high school friends, old teachers, relatives, parents, fellow church members… a whole host of people who may not necessarily react well to all of the things on this blog.  Because this blog is one of the most honest and vulnerable places in my life.  Here I feel free to doubt, to wrestle, to share.  I am terrified of how people could respond… If I share that I am wrestling through doubts about my faith, my biggest fear is that people will turn me into “a project”…or that I will perceive it that way.  But by not even giving other the chance to enter into the conversation, to see the real, authentic, vulnerable me I am not helping anybody.  Are other people in my life asking similar questions?  Do they desire community as much as I do? Are there others who wish they had a group of artists to paint with, open-minded thinkers to chat with, nature-lovers to stargaze with? I’ll never know unless I push past those fears and insecurities holding me back.

#2  –  And secondly, today is Day 1 for me of the Life is Messy Challenge by Mayi Carles. You can accept this challenge too if you want to!  What I hope to gain from these five life is messy challengedays is some sense of where I want to begin heading.  I am not thinking that by the end of this I will suddenly have my life “figured out.”  I am not even really hoping to have any semblance of a business plan.  All I know is I need to start somewhere and this seems as good a place as any!  Plus I have really loved getting to know Mayi’s site better and it seems like she really knows what she is doing!  (and who doesn’t love the adorably cute illustrations?!) So here was the assignment for day 1:

 

Super Power Finder1

I was tasked with listing out things I love to do, things I am praised for, and thing clients will buy.  Things I love to do was easy.  Obviously I know what I love.  However the other ones were harder.  After some thought and sifting through memories I was able to pull out things I have been praised for over the years.  But that last one… man, that last one is the hard one!  Things clients will buy?  I don’t know what people will buy!  If I did, I wouldn’t be doing this! haha  But I took a stab at it… based on some of the things that have been purchased from my Etsy shop.  (If you are reading this and have suggestions or comments… pleaseee put them in the comment section below!  I would LOVE some honest feedback.)  In conclusion, pottery and kids seemed to be things in the overlaps.  With art/collages/cards floating somewhere near the middle.  So I guess we’ll see where Mayi takes me tomorrow!

Well, anyway… that’s all for now. To those of you new to my blog: Welcome.  For those of you who have already been walking with me through this roller coaster of philosophical-existential-poetic-rambling-mundane-art-filled journey of mine….thanks for hanging in there.

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[…and now back to our regularly scheduled program…]

TERRIFIED.

journal / unedited grief / days 1+2

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Wednesday

This is shock Is this shock
tingling in my limbs my fingers
that celery bad idea. it’s in my throat something coming up the vibrations in my body bring it, bringing it to the surface my legs walked me here, well, legs, were they mine? crumpled to the floor, how did I get there?  hand on mouth a sob escapes the voice still speaking. They say that’s what it’s like..speaking but not hearing. I understand now. I feel it now. Is this grief? Welling up pushing up forcing up my esophagus which is what started the problem but on the other end going the other way that started the tear the chain reaction the hospital waiting room waiting waiting but we thought they said… no but the dream… the hope… the end… the beginning…no the end “the uncomfortable truth”
“there might be other factors in motions”
I am in class and they are talking and I am here and I am not and “that’s what he says by his body”
“adjacent to, alongside, within the space”
“it’s always gonna belong to that person”
should I be in the car? on the way to roanoke? I haven’t taken my meds. Do I make food? Buy flowers? Sit here? Keep writing. I can’t breathe. My eyes are stinging.
“the disconnect between the literal action and the imaginative (?) action is so wide” / “erased them” / “bold of her to do this”

“if you let in the excess emotion you will recall the Atlantic Ocean breaking on our heads.”
“a strange reverie”
“sit down and pull together”

such a sunny day for her to die. Is that God smiling? Does God smile? Is the sun happy? Is God the sun? Where is she? Who is she? Is she being born? Is she who she was? Eternal self still self reunited, never un-united. Can a mom be a butterfly?
This isn’t actual processing because it still feels fake and I’m making the motions that seem like healthy motions because you’re supposed to process, right? You’re supposed to sit on a bench in the sun and just write about your feelings, right? Gotta do all those steps of grief quickly so you can be sturdy for everyone else… you aren’t even her daughter, she wasn’t even your mom…but yes, she was and is and…
she’s in heaven right? Celebrate right? hope right? rejoice right? death…dEATh…death…saying it enough will rid it of emotion right?
-guacamole
-hummus
-biscotti

Thursday

its the weight of this death
and the death of your grandfather
and the twin you did ballet with
and the glassiness of his eyes and the quiver of her lips
and the shaking of their shoulders
pressing in and down and causing the sigh
breathing is not enough
or too much
or maybe I am holding my breath
waiting for the news
because this isn’t the end
though it is
for them
no, it’s only the beginning
of the sighing, crying, goodbyeing
somewhere in us we know
we know this one
and that one
they are all were will be
everything
and nothing
they change everything
and nothing
because life goes on
they say
tomorrow will come
they say
but what they don’t say is this weight
this weight of all you’ve loved and lost
the weight of seeing him in the wooden box
peering over the edge
your sister on tiptoe
touching his hand
cold
standing in a room of caskets
“this one’s pretty”
watching tears shed
the weight of the dirt
and the tears
and the newly bought plot
the weight of the shuffling feet
and the “I’m so sorry”s
and the hands on shoulders, knees, arms…
the weight never really leaves
it just piles on
keeps piling
(how will the grass ever grow?)
until one day I, we won’t feel that weight anymore will feel all that weight always will be that weight.
We’ll be weighted and floating and nothing and everything. We’ll be on our backs in that room with the man with the teeth too spread apart whose job is to make up our face make up life and peace and rest make up enough color, not blue, enough color, rosy, so we can greet everyone coming…coming to see and cry and put their hands on shoulders and knees uttering so so sorry’s…

sliding the matchstick back into its matchbox
feminine though, it needs to be feminine
it needs to be sturdy to keep the weight of the feet and the tears and the grief of the children and husband and parents from pressing in and crushing her already frail frame
(always put your toys away when you’re done playing with them
back in their boxes. buried treasure. time capsule)
what will he do in this house all alone?
what will be do without his bride?
’til death parts up. then what?
you see someone, half someone, half there because their other half has a hair appointment tomorrow…and plans to get the mortician’s makeup.

journal / unedited grief / days 1+2

plastic

The crumbling grave markers poke their mossy stone heads above the dirt, their faces showing their age like my grandfather’s own weathered face. Those hands that toiled in the dirt, held chipmunks, birthed calves, slaughtered dinner – they touched life and they touched death. They knew the balance at the heart of continuity. Each inhale bringing an exhale.
But those flowers. No, those flowers won’t take in his breath, won’t continue the cycle. They are unnaturally vibrant against the decay of this cemetery. They are pompous, arrogant. Unsympathetically they flaunt their immortality.

plastic

morning thoughts

here
was at one time the only option, or so I remember – but now all is tainted with uncertainty, doubt. hesitant to accept anything too readily, risking naive, gullible, loss, disappointment, disillusionment – even memories are untrustworthy. truth, reality – if they exist in any objective fashion – are hard to come by, impossible in fact, given my eyes covered with the lenses of subjectivity, my ears fitted with cochlear filters. purity is a lie. there are no guarantees, only an unending mess of entangled possibilities and what ifs and neither here nor there. an endless straddling of body thoughts head heart world dreams… there is only faith.
and death.

at least, it appears that way.

morning thoughts