And I Will Not Apologise For My Healing

The more I begin to heal the less I find myself apologising for it.
It would be easy to say sorry.
Sorry for the ways I have pulled away.
Sorry for the ways I have let you down.
Sorry for the messages I have not replied to.
Sorry for the calls I have not answered.
Sorry for my absence.
Sorry for my silence.
Sorry I can no longer meet your expectations.
Sorry I can no longer meet your needs.
Sorry I can no longer put your needs above my own.
Except, I’m not sorry.
Because, the thing is, it isn’t me that needs to heal.
It’s the little girl within me; the wounded child that nobody protected. Or stood up for. Or put first. Or made to feel mattered.
The girl who was not heard, or seen.
The girl who grew up believing the needs of others were more important than her own.
That her body was not her own.
That her voice would never be heard.
That she wasn’t worth the respect of others.
That love was something to be earned.
That boundaries could be crossed by whoever so pleased.
That her value was not in what she could give, but only in what others could take.
I am fighting for her, because no one else ever did.
I am putting her first, because no one else ever did.
I am standing between her and the world; honouring her, protecting her, nurturing her, allowing her the time and space to mend her brokenness without more being taken when there is nothing left to give; without more of the world pulling her in every direction with its demands and expectations.
Because she matters. Because I matter.
I am choosing to heal the way I need to; my time, my way.
I am choosing me.
And I will no longer apologise for that.

Dear Mother Who Is Struggling

sad-girl-crying-alone

Dear Mother Who Is Struggling,

I know you haven’t been yourself lately.

I see it in the way your eyes no longer carry the light the way they used to, their colour faded; like an old photograph that once held a cherished memory, now lost.

Your frown lines have deepened, they outnumber the lines of laughter that once etched the sides of your face, back when your joyful smile would reach that far, back when your shoulders were straight and the weight of your tiredness didn’t pull you down.

You love your babies, I know you do.

But this is hard.

And you are tired. So damn tired.

And maybe this is what adds to the tiredness; the guilt that you shouldn’t feel this way. You wonder if you’re the only mother out there who feels so isolated, so alone, so exhausted. Or do they all have these villages you hear of; support networks of family and friends who share the burden of raising a family, while you wake up each morning and wonder how you will get through another day on your own.

Surrounded by little people, noise, clutter, you find yourself lonelier than ever. But it’s not a loneliness from being alone. It’s a loneliness that comes from being so far from yourself, so far from who you once were. You don’t even know who that is anymore. You feel as though you’ve traded your whole identity to be a mother. Sacrificed your entire life to care for those around you. This is all you know now. This is all your life has become.

And you miss the woman you once were, and the life you once had.

You long for your independence, your spontaneity, your carefree. For road trips and dinner dates and live music and nights out in the city. For beach days and lazy Sundays in bed and to read a book, uninterrupted. Drained, you yearn for the things that bring nurture to your tired body and soul as you force yourself through another day on the scarce remnants of what you have left to give.

I know this is hard. But take heart, dear one.

It won’t always be this way. It won’t always be so hard. Days will get easier. There will be more moments to be still, to breathe, more moments to laugh again. There will be more moments where you can reach inside and find the misplaced pieces of the woman you used to be, and the days will begin to feel less lonely as you journey back to your own heart.

I know you think the way you struggle makes you a failure. That because of this, you fall short and aren’t enough. Don’t believe these lies. Be gentle on your heart, for every day you face the hardest job, alone, and you make it through.

No matter how hard, you don’t give up. You show up, and continue to do the best with what you have. And some days that may not seem like enough.

But every day, you continue to love.

And that will always be more than enough.

I know this is hard. But for now, this is all you need to know.

This too shall pass.

And when you close your eyes tonight, write those words on the back of your eyelids, and watch as they fall away beneath your skin and seep into your bloodstream where they will reach your heart and kiss it with the hope that will get you through your tomorrows.

You may not feel it today, but I promise you, my love – you’ve got this.

A Personal Essay – My Father’s Hands

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On a perfect October day, I arrive ten minutes late for my Uncle’s memorial service. There is only one seat left in the room, next to my Dad. I sidle in, ask if the seat is taken. He doesn’t immediately recognise me; I could count the number of times we have seen each other in the last ten years on one hand. We live separated by 400 kilometres; more so, four decades we have sought to reconcile in our own ill-fought ways.

As the tributes for my Uncle begin, I glance down at my hands. Mindlessly, my eyes draw toward the hands of my Dad, casually positioned in his lap. I realise they are my hands. Or maybe mine are his hands. I have never had the chance to notice this before; the protruding knuckles, the long fingers, the prominent veins. I shift in my seat, pull my hands back in closer to my waist.

For thirty-nine years, I have been angry at the man alongside me. I did not know my Dad as a child. Although we shared the first few years of my life together I have no recollection of this time, only the yawning hollow which followed until we met again in my early 20’s. I have heard his version of events, also my mother’s. The contradiction between both. I do not know whose version is true; if either. Regardless, it has been easy to blame him for not being there during my childhood years. To hold him responsible for everything that happened in his absence. To punish his absence by offering mine.

What I do know about my Dad, is his hands are good at fixing. People, in his many, many years as a paramedic. Engines. Motors. Cars. Anything In The House. Everything In The Shed. Of the fatherly wisdom he has sought to impart in the last two decades: idle hands are the devil’s playground and every man needs a shed. For many years, I hoped for those hands to fix all that was broken, and sad, in my life. Like all little girls, placing my Dad on a pedestal; the hero who would swoop in and save me from the evil villains I had been placed in the care of. Every birthday, I waited with anticipation. This would be the year he would surprise me. It never was.

I am repeatedly drawn to thoughts of grief lately; they appear in my journalling, in articles I read, podcasts I listen to, television shows I watch. It has become the resounding theme biting at my heels. I ponder the different griefs I have seen in my own life: Grief from Death, Grief from Loss, Abstract Grief. Dissect how each variance of grief has affected me. Recognise the aftermath of each that still lingers in my life; underhanded, yet culpable for the less-than-enlightened choices I have made; often still do make.

Here in this room my cousins grieve for the beloved father they have lost; I grieve for the one beside me never really found. This is perhaps what I mean by Abstract Grief – defining abstract as, “existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.” Grieving something we never had. Trying to fill our wounds of gaping scarcity with bare, empty hands.

They say the final stage of grief is acceptance. I have been holding out on this, knowing with acceptance comes letting go. Of anger. Of blame. It has felt too much like exoneration, and I’ve not yet been ready to grant such pardon, even though I know death is not interested in the illusion of time we like to clutch to our chests, as if we could ever reign over anything so supreme. Such begrudging now seems futile when surrounded by the humbleness of dying’s wake. I am not willing to accept the effortlessness of which this could have been my Dad being laid to rest. There is too much here unsaid; unfinished.

I look down at our hands again. Ours. In this moment I feel intrinsically connected to something other than myself, for perhaps for the first time I can remember. There is a grounding; an anchoring. A softening. I want to reach over and take his hand in mine, but I don’t. Not yet. I think of these things as I drive the 400 kilometre trip home. How no matter the trauma, or the grief, some things will always remain terrible. We can never change what has been. Sometimes, when all is said and done, all that’s left is acceptance.

** This piece originally published in Anti-Heroin Chic, please do take some time to check out this most stunning literary magazine **

On Dropping The #coronapoetry Ball

I’ve not managed a poem for a number of days now.

It’s impossible, this whole situation. To find minutes to myself each day to write. I don’t know who these people are who are writing and learning new skills and chilling with Netflix and whatever, because it’s sure as hell no woman I know – we are all stretched desperately thin trying to balance at-home children and at-home school and caring for everyone else’s needs as well as still trying to hold down our own careers in the midst of a global crisis.

I’m exhausted and barely getting a minute to catch my breath each day, let alone find any kind of creative energy to write. There’s much that could be said for how women become the load bearers at times like this; how we carry more than we can manage upon our shoulders but do so anyway. How we often sacrifice the most and struggle with the greatest loss of identity and are left to grieve the lives so unexpectedly taken from us. But I’ll keep that rant for another day.

On top of the physical demand is the ongoing emotional upheaval. The anxiety, the fear, the stress, the worry, the uncertainty, the lack of sleep. I have found some days I manage these emotions, and these are generally days I can write. However, as soon as these emotions crowd my head space there is simply no room for anything else. Not for thoughts or words or creativity or joy or laughter or anything that is essential for survival at this time. The battle in my own mind is perhaps the biggest one I continue to face.

This week I’ve had moments of being angry at myself; that I cannot even write one fucking poem a day. Most days at the moment I achieve nothing, just survive. I have to remind myself that’s enough. To have no expectations. To do the best I can. To be gentle on myself. To cry when I need to. To still seek out the joy. To celebrate the small wins. To accept the losses. To find grace for myself.

Today was another day without a word written. Instead, I spent the afternoon seeding a paddock which has been a break from the iso grind and a chance to switch off and catch my breath and feel myself again, at least for now.

Which for today, is enough.

It’s enough.

To The One I Cannot Be With At This Time

To the One I Cannot be with at This Time.

No matter how I try, I cannot get to you. And believe me, I have tried.

I have sought every possible way of crossing closed borders without getting caught.

I have stood empty handed in every airport hoping for a flight that was never called.

I have calculated how long it would take me to walk to you (approximately 55 days and 7 hours) and imagined your face as I arrive on your doorstep. How it would light up with your smile that melts me every time. How you would pick me up in your arms. How you would never set me down again.

I have cried rivers hoping they would become oceans that would somehow close this land between us.

I have yelled and screamed and argued and bargained and still, I am found defeated and it kills me that I cannot be with you at this time but this, my darling, is how I will love you in the distance…

For the long distance lovers held apart by distance at this time, I wrote this for you, full article over at Elephant Journal, link below x

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2020/04/the-meaning-of-distance-in-times-of-isolation/

Day Thirteen and Fourteen #coronapoetry – Body and Season

Once again combining two prompts as I missed yesterday – everyone’s all like, hey I’ve got so much time on my hands, and I’m over here somehow busier than ever and finding it impossible to catch a few minutes to myself each day to get a poem done.

I’ve written this as a Tanka Poem, which is a Japanese form of poetry that translates as “short song.” There are 31 syllables in a Tanka, divided into five lines to make a 5 – 7 – 5 – 7 – 7 syllable structure.