{Unedited} This Was A Mistake

This was a mistake.

Standing in the busy store.

Watching the signs.

I realize this was a mistake.

Skin flushing, damp.

He runs his hand across his face commenting on the heat.

In my sweater I know that modulation is the issue, his body unable to regulate temperature.

A distant look in glassy eyes, there is thought of escape. Overwhelmed and over sensitized he is uncomfortable. Agitation unsuccessfully masked on familiar features.

My own body becomes hyper aware of the shift. Listening as his breath quickens, becoming shallow. Where there should be casual process there is struggle. Chest moving in an unsteady rhythm.

His head tilts side to side, self soothing. Trying to overcome the burning that is slowly lodging itself in his core.

He knows too.

We should have gone home.

We should leave before his body fails him. I pause to consider my words, consider suggesting I come back on my own. It’s not a problem. I’m happy to do it. For love and reason and logic let me help but I realize that will feel critical. The place where concern would be welcome is gone. Without seeing it go I know that it will not be back today.

The line moves slowly, we are still waiting.

I stand calculating the minutes it will take to leave the space, willing myself to relax. Reaction is no help. Compassion, find compassion and remember.

Next to me I hear an angry sigh.

The expected language mumbled under his breath as the interaction between customer and clerk is prolonged.

I shift my weight to run my hand down his back. Feeling the tension.

Moving closer I can smell the slightly bitter scent that I have come to accept, fear, despise?

We have stayed too long. This is taking too long. I struggle to let go of the defeat I want to wrap myself in knowing what will come next.

Agitation expands to anger as adrenaline begins to choke.

Heightened senses. Heightened emotion. Swollen muscle still expanding, panting in breath. I notice the dampness of his shirt, I stare as the dark V spreads and am quiet. Experience has taught that communication is not support. Support is not welcome. Move through the line. Move out of the store. Take the steps to home, into the quiet and safety he will accept. Understand. Remember.

Eyes closed he struggles with control. I know his system is overwhelmed. His stomach is ill, he may need a bathroom. I glance around, looking for options.

He hates me right now. He hates me because he needs me. He hates me for my healthy body. Quiet logic and rational concern. He hates me for every small annoyance that is magnetized and multiplied by the imbalance of hormones crushing his independence and self-control.

I take a breath, body loose, face passive. Kindness is not welcome. Tenderness too much to accept in battle.

And it begins.

Like a script that I would happily burn, the onslaught of words grasping for control. The cry for compassion. The demand for ignorance.

My husband forgets himself. The kind, loving and supportive man I have known since childhood forgets his character and in the face of his struggle froths a bitter, ugly heart.

A tired heart.

The line around us grows uncomfortable as we reach the register. Watching in confusion as he throws items from basket to counter, from counter to basket. Aggressively stating his case.

What I am. What I should be. What is wrong. What should be different.

He uses words I have become hardened to.

Words that cut me to bleeding the first time I heard them.

The first time was not all that long ago.

He takes my space. A form of aggression and disrespect. I know that is his limit, he will break himself finding that boundary. He has and it broke my heart. I also know that behind the aggression there is need. He’s pressing in. Feeling himself spinning he needs my will. My reassurance. My stability.

In that there is a humbling trust.

He needs me to know.

He needs me to see it’s beyond his grasp to stop. He wants me to help him stop.

He hates that he needs me. He holds onto his behavior like a lifeline resenting the lack of control, twisting his need into my expectations and resetting the conversation again.

Management is paying attention.

An angry man. A large man. An unpredictable man. I’m not uncomfortable with the intrusion. I understand.

Another customer catches my eye. Unhappy. Disturbed. Not understanding my measured calm and quiet replies in the midst of a pressured storm. Well worn responses countering expected outbursts. My confidence is out of place. My steady reassurances an odd response to the vile words being thrown like weapons.

No one watching the belligerent face of my attacker would guess he’s a poet, gifted in life. No one would guess that he has loved me well for twenty-five years. That he loves his children. That our life, on a normal day is sweet.

I smile my appreciation to the would be saviors and quietly shake my head.

I am okay. There is no danger. My heart is equipped. In the aftermath I will struggle. Staring at myself in the mirror, accessing the words. Weighing and judging myself, perhaps to harshly but in the moment this isn’t beyond me. I will not bruise and bleed. I am not the victim of this exchange.

Something is wrong. It’s hard to miss but without experience it’s hard to see.

Occasionally there is in the crowd a look of compassion. A fellow warrior. Another wailing wall for a loved one’s confusion and pain. But today there is just us. In a busy store. With a cart full of groceries and the discomfort of a public scene.

The shaking heads of judgment.

Judging his actions. Judging mine.

Men want to intervene. Impose control where they see a lack of control. Women look away. Uncomfortable. Sometimes anxious in the face of masculine rage. Often disgust settling on their faces.

I am weak. Permissive. Trapped.

The assumption is a boulder thrown into the privacy of our labor. That there will be violence. That I am appeasing as we dance through finishing our chore.

I don’t resent it. It is logic. A logical response in a logical world to an illogical situation.

Here is what I have learned.

Disease has no logic.

It has no compassion. It considers no feelings. The right or wrong of behavior.

It is simply burdensome.

Taking prisoners without concern.

What the world doesn’t see in the awkward raging of a powerful man is the fear and pain that come with loss of control. Blood sugar crashing. His body shutting down, they overlook the shaking of his limbs as anger. The grey around his lips well disguised by his words.

They don’t recognize the embarrassment of loosing motor function as he begins to slur his words. They will not witness the grief that will come when he relives in humiliation his uncharacteristic actions.

He is a man who has chosen kindness.

Disease is unkind.

Removing inhibition and logic it reverts him to a less chosen state.

Replacing a hard won voice with words from the past. From a childhood that left him for less.

His conversation in these moments a compulsive recital of long held wounds.

I am not the cause. I am not the voice. I hate the voice. I love him.

I love him and I can’t help him. I can’t help him and I hate that.

I hate his disease. I understand his disease.

Diagnosis is a tyrant, a mistress. Taking minutes and affection unjustly claimed.

It twists his commitments and pillages his energy. Wielding pain and grief.

Destroying a marriage. Stripping it naked and leaving it bare and exposed.

Only in rooted strength does relationship survive but it is forever changed.

I am committed in life with two men.

One capable, kind and generous. A well spoken giant with strength of character and a clearly focused mind.

One petty and resentful. Counting the cost and delighting in my pain. Shifting the blame of confused choices and simple mistakes in his own embarrassment. No sense of responsibility. Accountability an unaccepted word.

I choose to love both.

Not to live in fear, or be made small by my choice but to fight.

For my husband. For my friend. For the hope of the life that we are creating and a future lived with less pain, more kindness and an abundance of joy.

Because. Love.

{Unedited} Moments

258a5f973e4cc0296ec28b1c72321ebfThere are words that sit in my bones waiting to be heard.

I’m not apathetic.

I practice.

I work, setting aside time before the world is awake to live in my skin and feel it’s rhythm.

Beating like a war drum, waning with the moon.

And there are moments.

Beautiful clarity, purpose flowing from me like light.

A thousand small moments perfectly aligned.

Aware and torn, I find myself engaged.

Living and breathing and being. Just being in that moment.

Present.

Fully, and wonderfully, and heartbreakingly present.

And it’s beautiful.

More words to share? Except these words aren’t mine.

They are borrowed.

Tender gifts of life and love.

Taught and grown in the happening, an unsought connection.

A thousand moments spent listening to the heart of lonely. The voice of experience. A mother set aside. A daughter grieving.

Ebony skin and warm brown eyes.

Sitting in a dusty chair surrounded by the consigned collections of a thousand cast off lives. Tending a heart. Making a friend. Spirit being watered by a honey voice I can’t expect to hear again.

I know love. I know pain. I feel fear and joy and the newness of change.

Beautiful. Lovely. Home.

A thousand homes, pieces of heart woven into mine.

A thousand moments freely shared.

A thousand words weighing on my bones and still, in the shadows of my undeveloped life I keep them for myself. Undiluted. Unscarred.

Sacred and whole.

{Unedited} Sweet Nothing

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I woke this morning with an arm hooked around my waist, pulling me close into a comfortable shelter that is mine to enjoy.  Tucked safely away from expectation and the bite of morning.

A soft heart beating gentle monosyllables.

Eyelids brushed with a stubbled chin.

A wet towel left on the hook rather than the floor.

Coffee in hand I’ve been kissed goodbye.  A clear I love you spoken with the sharp aroma of breakfast nectar steaming in the pleasing glow of a new kitchen.

Always the heart of our home.

Thirty eight years on this earth and this will be my favorite celebration of the day.

Half a dozen words spoken in the span of an hour.

The quiet nothing that anchors the rhythm.

As my household starts to rumble I will be enveloped into another man-sized chest, this one I birthed.  That little catch in my heart fascinated by the miracles of will and body.  This will be the first time I hear the words.

“Happy birthday”.

Spoken in a deep voice from a tender place.

My eldest son, the emotionally naked one.  So much like his mama.

The man-child who healed my heart.

Later there will be cake.

Female children pay attention to those details.

The inevitable squabbles of living close hushed by a reminding voice that today is my day.

My first-born seeking to protect.

These hours are meant for peace and content.

It won’t last, but the idea is a kind one and I will enjoy it.

Evening will come, bringing rooted gifts.

It is tradition.

No dead flowers for me.  Something with the will to grow.

Orchids and lilies. Lavender and sage.

There will be other gifts.  Baubles and mementos but my heart loves the spicy, clean scent of the green and bloom that will sit on my counter while I cook dinner.

And yes, I cook my own dinner.

After all it is my day, and I enjoy the texture and ritual.

Comfort food prepared in the happy buzz of my life.

A table carefully set in the nicest of ways, a gift from my youngest in a love language I happen to speak.

The conversation over knives and forks is predictable.

My tiny warrior intent on making sure I am seen.

To my husband “Today is mother’s birthday.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Did you tell her happy birthday?”

With a quiet look my long time friend will enquire from across the table.  Smile in place, understanding the ritual. “I don’t remember…did I tell you happy birthday?”

And as always the answer will be

“Daddy always tells me happy birthday.” And in his own meaningful way it’s true.

They each do.

I know I am loved.  Celebrated.

Through rhythm and heart.  Care and attention.  In the challenge of remembrance.

All the beautiful, sweet nothing that makes life worth living.

Today I am thirty-eight years old.  Full of heart and younger than I have ever been.