Upon These Tangled Paths

On the clifftop the wildflowers bloom;

they are honey warmed by the sun and

I am dizzy with the fragrance of spring

which carries over me in this lone place.

Beneath me, the ocean smashes upon

rocks, and sea spray refreshes my face

like a merciful mist of saltwater kisses.

I follow paths unbound by loose gravel,

scratching between stones for a page

of contents that might help me acquire

some order within this disarranged life,

but the paths are unkempt and tangled;

tangled like memories, mistakes, lovers,

like words woven inside unfaded scars,

like sentences made of black and white,

once rigid but now collapsed into greys.

My feet continue, and I discover myself

no longer afraid of the unknown ahead.

“Stay out of the wilderness,” I was told,

but experience teaches what theology

never can, and the bravest truth of our

hearts is found in these tangled paths,

where we lose our faith

and instead find

grace.

Image courtesy Sergey Zolkin via unsplash.com

Sadness, My Lover

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I am always afraid to remain still
for I know this is where sadness
will find me, there, in that place
where shadows turn rain to moss.
But today I am tired, and indolence
reigns over my sapped resolution
and no longer do I outrun sadness.
I hear her footsteps quicken, they
echo in the hollowness of my heart
like gunfire upon a corrugated iron
roof and I am caught surrendered.
“Hello, old friend,” I say to her, and
she is weight and mass and density
and I pull her compression beneath
my skin and I am comforted by the
feeling of my bones being crushed.
“Welcome home,” I say to her, for
sadness and I are clandestine lovers,
souls of the night who run together
beneath canopies of faded dreams,
and she knows no matter how often
she leaves, I will always call her back,
and beg once more for her darkness
to come closer and embrace mine.

~ © Kathy Parker ~

Paper Cuts Upon Your Lips 

I long to be the solid thing your hands reach out to hold but I am made of nothing more than flimsy pages filled with all the words I will never say.

In the faded light your eyes try to read me and I wish my paper skin held blueprints of my heart so you would know how to put me back together and maybe then I would be more intact and your love would not bleed out from the open wounds others have left behind.

Because of you I am more than I have ever been but never what I could be and even my most will never feel enough when your touch falls upon empty rooms and vacant signs. 

Your mouth presses certainty on my skin but still the night is flippant and I am left to wonder how long before your kiss is drawn to a girl who doesn’t leave paper cuts upon your lips. 

On Why I Wrote “The Unravelled Heart”

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For the first time in weeks I feel I finally have a minute to pause, breathe, reflect.

I’ve heard many people say the hardest part of writing a book comes after the book is finished – this, I can now say with confidence, is true.  My last few months have been consumed with getting a draft manuscript through all its various stages to reach publication standard; my last few weeks consumed with final proofs, marketing plans, publicity, sales, with lying awake at night feeling like I’m about to give birth and worrying about all that might go wrong and what if my baby is born with two heads and no feet.

I miss writing. I miss sleep. But still, all I have worked towards for the last year is about to be born, and this is both exhilarating and terrifying and there’s no place I’d rather be right now.

One of the things I’ve had to consider in the last while is not the what of my book, but the why. Because it isn’t about what I do. I wrote a book. This is not outstanding in itself. Anyone can write a book. The book itself doesn’t matter. The why does matter. Because in the why lies the reason you will, or won’t, choose to pick up my book on a shelf laden with hundreds of other equally-as-worthy-of-your-attention books.

So why, then, did I write The Unravelled Heart?

There are many reasons I could put down here. But mostly, I wrote this book to be the voice for those who still live in the silence.

Because for most of my life, I have been silent. This is the thing with people who have suffered abuse – though the abuse is never our fault we become silenced by the shame of what others have done to us. We lose our voice – scared to speak out loud, scared no one will believe us, scared we will be ignored, scared we will be blamed. Scared that all the ugliness, the filth, the guilt, the rage, the ambivalence, will all be exposed and we will be further shamed by all we have fought so hard to suppress.

Often too, our abuse comes through the betrayal of those who should have protected us, and didn’t. And so engraved on our hearts are these words: we aren’t valued. We aren’t cherished. We aren’t loved. We aren’t worth anything. Because if we were those things, we would have been protected. Kept safe. Listened to. Believed. And we weren’t. We learn our voices will never be heard, our truth will never be validated.

So we remain silent until our silence begins to corrode our soul; like rust, like a cancer that eats away at our hearts and our lives until it nearly destroys us.

Or until we destroy ourselves first.

I wrote The Unravelled Heart because in ashes of my destruction, there I found my voice. There I found the courage to no longer be silent. And there I determined to use my voice to speak the words others weren’t yet able to say. Words of truth. Words that weren’t afraid. Words that would take those ashes and exchange them for beauty, for art, for light, for love. Words that would echo through the silent hearts of others and bring comfort, healing and hope.

The Unravelled Heart isn’t just my journey. It’s a collaboration of the hearts, the lives, the pain and the journey of all those who have shared their stories with me. Mary Oliver once said,

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

It’s taken me years to understand that my brokenness is a gift; that it allows me to see the cracks often overlooked by others. Here is where I dwell. Here is where I write. Here is where my voice will be found.

Thank you for the opportunity to share that voice with you.

If you haven’t yet ordered your signed pre-sale copy of The Unravelled Heart, grab your copy here.

With love,
Kathy x

There Will Always be Those who Throw Stones 

Then there are the ones that like to hold you to the mistakes of your past. Who will try and drag you back through your own shame and make you believe you don’t deserve the dream you have fought so damn hard your whole life to achieve.

Their words will be calculated – targeted missiles they will aim at the places they know will be the weakest; the places they know have been wounded before.

This is what they will tell you:

That the person you once were is who you will always be.

That the person you were at your worst is the most you will ever amount to.

That you will never be anything more than the mistakes you once made.

That you are worthless, hopeless, useless.

Don’t listen to them.

Because here’s the thing.

Nobody has the right to judge you.

Nobody has the right to hold you prisoner to your mistakes when they don’t know a damn thing about the choices you had to choose from and how hard you fought just to survive.

Nobody has the right to shame you for your humanity. To deny you the right to be human. To deny you the grace of the human condition that sees us all fuck up at times and learn from that and do better.

Nobody has the right to take away your redemption. To take every damn drop of blood poured for your healing, your growth, your change, your becoming, and make it worth nothing.

We are not held captive to our yesterdays, to the person we once were when we knew no better. We are not bound by our mistakes, to the ways we hurt others when our hearts were hurting so damn much inside our fragile chests. We are not defined by our rock bottom, when nobody knows what it has taken us to claw our way out to become the person we are today.

We are not our past.

We are not our shame.

Nobody has the right to judge the heart they do not see.

Your heart is beautiful; made new with each day you have woken and determined to do better. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are everything they will never be.

Forgiveness, grace, second chances: these are the things we offer other humans when we understand the frailty of our own humanity. When we understand that mercy always triumphs over judgement, and that this is how we offer love.

There will always be those who throw stones. Let them. For their feet will forever be bound by the shore, destined to watch as you, my darling, become the ocean.

Second Chances

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And it never really changes.
 
The words look different. The way they form a line this time that seems straight and stable; so well-crafted, so precise. There seems to be no faults, no cracks, no frayed edges, and you feel yourself drawn to the letters that fall seamlessly from his mouth and land without effort in the aperture of your heart.
 
But it never really changes.
 
You said there would be no more chances. That the last time was enough. You look down at the scars that had just started to blend into your skin, barely noticeable now. You try and remember what every one of those scars cost you. Except, this time the words look different, and you can’t.
 
He forces his way closer, and somewhere deep inside, you still believe in second chances. You weaken. After all, the words look different. This time will be different.
 
It never changes.
 
It doesn’t take long before the words begin to reshape; after all, he’s an expert in manipulation. They become familiar threads of anger, blame, guilt and shame that he weaves around you; a web of abuse he seeks to trap you inside so he can satiate his need for power and control.
 
You’ve been here before.
 
Nothing changes.
 
Except for you.
 
You changed.
 
You realise you don’t need this anymore. You have become wiser, braver, stronger in the places he once broke you. You have become sure, resilient, steady. You pulled yourself from the ground where he said you belonged and rose – a fighter, a warrior, a survivor.
 
You forgot. Just for a moment, you forgot. But now you take one last look over your shoulder and turn your face toward the sun and remember who you are.
 
You are fire, and you blaze with the fury of all you are worth.
 
And you are worth so much more than a love that was only ever abuse in disguise.
 
In honour of Domestic Violence Awareness Month ❤️
 
Butterfly Illustration courtesy https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals