Leave Me Here In The Wilderness

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Leave me here in the wilderness
Let me wander upon lost paths
Where fallen limbs and bracken
Cause my feet to stumble astray
Deeper down the unknown roads 
That lead me further into myself 

Let my soul become entangled
With ivy and creeper and vine
As it twines through damp forest
And twists around my sad anguish
Let moss grow upon my shadows
Until sunlight warms my bitter grief

Let me grope through darkness
And my heart taste its sour wrath
As it unleashes, wild and savage
Upon the fury of its torn injustice
Until there is only hushed silence
Broken by the weep of surrender

Let my spirit be found crushed
In valleys of dust and drought
Let me be consumed with thirst
As I wait upon winds of the earth
To breathe life into my dry bones
And mend me back to abundance

Do not take my hand and lead me
From this journey I choose to abide
But leave me here in the wilderness
Where for now, I must live untamed
For I am young, and so very broken
And there is still much to be learned

© Kathy Parker ~

Charcoal Hearts

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I am bruised shades
Of dark grey and black
Like a charcoal drawing
I smear and I smudge
Outside of the lines
They draw around me
Your fingers touch me
And I stain their beauty
“I’m sorry,” I whisper
As I wash the blemish
From your pure hands
With my broken tears
“Stop,” you murmur
As you pull me closer
Your skin now tainted
With the same shade
Of darkness as on me
We are wondrous art
Stained upon canvas
My burden now yours
Your heart now mine.

~ @ Kathy Parker ~

Image courtesy gofigurative.com

Today, I Need To Talk About My Depression

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This morning, Autumn sun shines through the north-facing window as magpies gather on the grass and call to one another with their indignant warbles. I gaze out the window and watch as geese stroll in their clumsy line to the fruit trees down the hill, while the hum of the dishwasher and the crackle of the fire compete with the silence of the house. There is life and movement and sound, and I am present and grounded in this moment.

It’s difficult on days like this, when I feel so stable, so balanced, to imagine I can be anything other than this. It’s easy to believe I can, and will, always stay in this place of lucid rationality. But I have battled on the frontline of my depression for long enough now to accept its relentless stealth, the way it rests in my blind spot and edges in without a sound when I am unprepared and least aware, and leaves me powerless to fight against the weight of it.

Rich Larson wrote an article this week in response to the death of Chris Cornell, in trying to understand why this particular loss has affected him so much. He writes,

“…his is the death that bothers me the most. As I’ve been thinking about this, I’m realizing that it’s both a personal and a generational thing. Cornell had a long struggle with depression. As have I… we talk about it as a demon or a monster. It’s a dark shadow that shows itself at any point in time without warning. It surrounds us, isolates us, and quiets us… You might think grunge is about anger, but that’s not completely true. Yes, it can sound that way, but it’s really about depression and cynicism. Those two go hand-in-hand, along with their nasty little sister, anxiety. When the three of them get going, they just eat hope as quickly as it can be summoned. That leaves despair and despair is exhausting, not just for those who experience it, but for the people around it as well. So we keep it to ourselves because we don’t want to be a burden… depression makes you feel totally alone. You hit the breaking point, and then, like Chris Cornell, you die alone in the bathroom…”

We speak words like shock and tragedy and loss and try to make sense of why a man who had the adoration of the world upon him would take his own life, alone, in a hotel bathroom. There is such suddenness to it, such harsh abruptness, as if it should have been a decision he made on a drug-induced irrational whim. And maybe we would understand it more if it were, and maybe it would seem more palatable to our tongues to blame drugs than to have to face the fact we are no less immune to being caught in the clutches of darkness as he was. As anybody is. Maybe it’s just too real to those of us who don’t have to try as hard as everyone else to make sense of it all.

I don’t know how to get away from it, from the darkness that falls upon me. I scratch and claw at it, but it lands and it lands and it lands and I am smothered by it until there is no more light but suddenly the darkness is no more my enemy, it is no longer feared, I welcome it and embrace it and tell it to make its home here for I too am darkness and I’m tired of fighting this and I don’t want to fight this anymore. 

These are words I wrote.

Not years ago or months ago or in some other lifetime.

These are words I wrote two days ago.

Two. Days. Ago.

I read these words back now and in all honesty, I’m scared by them. By how powerless I felt under the weight of darkness. By how hard it was for me to fight against it. It’s difficult to articulate what goes on in these moments of despair. People, in their ignorance, often talk of suicide being selfish. Yet I’m quite sure the heart of those who take their own lives all beat to the same conviction. They’d be better off without me. These are not self-indulgent words spoken in the hope of attention and appeasement, but words that rise from the darkest corners of the soul and fill bodies and rush through veins and sit upon bones until we become so laden with the heaviness of these words we cannot fight against them any longer.

The days that led up to the words I wrote were filled with darkness, heaviness, bleakness, numbness, hopelessness. I felt like failure. I felt like inadequacy. I felt I could do nothing right, that nothing I did was good enough. I felt I was letting everyone down, that I couldn’t keep up, that I was a disappointment to those around me.

Mostly, I felt consumed by my own self-loathing. Because in my times of darkness, I cannot love the way others need me to love them. This is part of my brokenness, part of my PTSD, part of the unhealed wounds I carry in my soul. I simply do not have the capability to love others when my heart is so numb I can’t even feel it beat inside my own chest. I see the way those who love me are hurt by this. They think this is a choice I make; to not love. They have no idea of the pain and grief it causes me. They blame me, and I blame me, and I am left even more isolated and alone in the ways they will never –  could never – understand my heart.

And in these times of darkness, it only seems logical that others would be better off without me. That those who love me would never have to suffer a love that is often only returned with ambivalence at best. That I would never have to look into the eyes of those around me and see my own failure and disappointment reflected back at me. That I would no longer hurt those who least deserve it, because I am incapable of being anything other than a broken, f*cked up mess.

Of course, none of this is rational. But it never is.

And the thing is, if you’d seen me two days ago, you wouldn’t have known. Maybe I’d have seemed a little distant, a little distracted. Not quite myself. I’d likely have still smiled as we said hello, only to look away a little too fast before you noticed the way my smile didn’t reach my eyes.

Depression is something we don’t talk about. It’s something we pretend isn’t a thing, at least not one we suffer with. We say words like fine and good and okay as a shield to deflect any possible further questions that might expose our shame. Because secretly, we lug around the stigma that something is wrong with us, and our worst fear is that someone will see our depression, and confirm our fears are right.

We carry the burden on our own because we fear the weight of it, and are loathed to break the back of another by asking their help to carry it too. We fear being misunderstood, being seen as self-indulgent or self-pitying. We fear the risk of vulnerability in the face of potential dismiss or disregard. We fear we are just too much. Too much emotion, too much pain, too much sadness, too much darkness.

Too much trouble.

Until eventually, we have fought on our own and in silence for so long our bones ache and our shoulders slump and we are too tired to even lift our heads and we take our own life in a hotel bathroom.

Depression doesn’t play favourites. It doesn’t discriminate. It is you. It is me. It is Chris Cornell. It is insidious and we cannot take it upon ourselves to assume who we think should or shouldn’t suffer this relentless darkness. It cannot be hoped away, prayed away, sent away with token words and a pat on the back.

What it needs is to be understood.

To know depression is not failure. To know it is not weakness. To know there is no fault and no blame. To know how strong we really are to continue the fight when every breath is a battle won. To know we are doing the best we can, and that will always be enough.

To know, most importantly, we are never alone.

Image courtesy ivona.bigmir.net 

Tell Me, Can You Still Love Me Then?

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But tell me,
Can you still love me
When the bitter winds
That rise from the south
Steal away the vivid colour 
You have come to admire
And I am left only bleak
Grey and stripped bare
Before your wondrous gaze 

But tell me,
Can you still love me
When I am without life
Under your warm hands
When you dig far below
The outside of my skin
And stumble upon roots
Tangled, twisted, wayward
Between dark layers of my soul

But tell me,
Can you still love me
When you find me there
At home in the darkness
Of my anguish and secrets
Of my loneliness and rage
When these unholy hands
Hold tight the black earth
And I kiss both life and death

But tell me,
Can you still love me
When there is just echo
Of the winter in my bones
And I lay silent, unmoved
By your whisper upon me
Instead lulled by the sound
Of gales that rush toward me
With their loneliness and despair

But tell me,
Can you still love me
When the winds won’t end
And I am the barren hope
Of Spring, kept out of reach
When I am broken by winter
And too cold to speak words
Of how I need your love the most
Tell me, can you still love me then?

~ © Kathy Parker ~

Image courtesy fotolog.com

The Path Of The Survivor

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There is a path we take.

It is not a journey forward, but one that leads us back.

Back to the places we were first broken.

Back to the places we fear the most.

We resist it, fight it.

But on that path lies a trail of broken pieces. Splintered fragments of ourselves we left behind when they were too sharp to hold and cut us open. Back then we didn’t know how to stop the bleeding. So we left the pieces, scattered on the path, and continued on our journey.

Removed from the pain, but separated from ourselves.

But now, we must go back for those pieces.

For this is how we put ourselves back together.

This is how we become whole.

We gather the pieces we abandoned, and place them inside us where they always belonged.

Find courage, dear one, and tread upon the path. Pick up the broken pieces and hold them close. Remember the way they once cut your hands, yet no longer do, for now your hands are stronger and your skin is thicker and though scarred, you no longer bleed.

Feel the weight of the pieces in your hands and notice you are strong enough to carry that weight now. Turn them over, adjust them, move them, line them up. Make sense of them. Place them side by side. Repair them. Restore them. See the way they come together with cracks and lines and faults and imperfect edges that will never fit like they used to.

But see how they are once more made whole.

This is how broken things mend.

How broken people mend.

In flawed perfection.

It was never your fault you were so broken. It was never your fault you left so much of yourself behind. But now is the time to go back and pick up the pieces. Do not fear the path. You know the way, you have walked it before. It is your path. And these are your pieces. They belong to you. Pick them up and put them back together and place them inside your chest. Allow them to make you whole again as you were always meant to be.

Broken no more.

For this, dear one, is the path of the survivor.

Image courtesy www.butifldisaster.wordpress.com

I Wonder If You Knew Back Then

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I wonder if you knew back then
That grief would have a name
And it would taste like me
Bitter, like the dregs
Of pitch black coffee
I left upon your lips

I wonder if you knew back then
That you would have to bury
Me, in the splintered coffin
Built inside your mind
Knowing I carry heartbeat
Still, just no longer yours

I wonder if you knew back then
That ghosts are not people
But memories that stain
Endless, like faded nicotine
Under cracked fingers
Never scrubbed away

I wonder if you knew back then
Of the sound loneliness makes
The hollow scratching that
Claws inside your chest
Tearing flesh from bone
And me from you

I wonder if you knew back then
That I was made from the grit
Woven through tangled earth
And the salt flung across
Tempestuous ocean
Wild and unafraid

I wonder if you could have known
Of all you would come to lose
The day my worth was found
I wonder if you will ever know
You did not break me, my love
You saved me.

Image courtesy Dreamfootage

Foolish Girl, You Are Not Foolish At All

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Foolish girl,

You turn away from the world because you believe the mistakes you have made are tattooed all over your body and that is all the world can see; marks of shame you cannot wipe clean no matter how many years you scrub your skin until no more blood can seep from your pores still stained with filth and sin.

You turn away from the world because you believe you are defined by your past, by the choices you made when there were no other choices; that you are bound to the girl you once were by the invisible ropes still tied around your hands and feet, held in place by words of shame that will never deliver you from their grasp.

You turn away from the world because you believe you are not deserving to hold your head high and look it in the eye; that you carry a scarlet letter upon your forehead that will blind those who dare to look your way, and you cannot stand to see the way they turn their face from your tainted humanity.

You forget, foolish girl.

You forget what you have survived.

You forget you fought alone against the world when your hands were too small to defeat the weight of it, and so you took it on as your own even though it almost crushed you.

You forget you were betrayed by those who should have protected you and so you barricaded yourself behind hard edges and sharp corners and promised to never trust or need another again.

You forget the way love was shown as abuse and abuse was shown as love and the shame you were forced to carry because of the way you longed to be loved even when that looked like abuse.

You forget you sat alone in a room filled with despair as your hands shook and blood trailed down your wrist and in that moment when you could have chosen death, you chose life.

You forget you have every reason to be hard, but you choose to remain soft. You have every reason to hate, but you choose to show mercy. You have every reason to cast judgment, but you choose to speak grace. You have every reason to fuck this world the way it has fucked you, but you choose to heal it instead.

You forget you have survived what most people never could.

Foolish girl, you are not foolish at all.

You are a warrior.

You are strength. You are bravery. You are courage. You are hope. You are light. You are truth. You are love. You are survival. You are kindness. You are wisdom. You are redemption. You are transformation. You are revolution.

And most of all, you are worthy.

To love, and to be loved.

You just need to believe it.

~ © Kathy Parker ~

Image courtesy usadress.info