When will we learn
there is nothing ugly
about the stories of
mapped upon our skin.
~ ©️ Kathy Parker // Scars ~
Day Seven #poemadayfeb: Ugly
There are times we hurt others. Whether purposefully or inadvertently, it makes little difference. We have still damaged another through our own actions, and so we seek to make that right. It hurts us to know we have hurt another; we ask forgiveness and seek restoration in the hope to receive grace from those we have wronged.
We hope for the best outcome. We hope for what we perceive as fair.
Sometimes though, we don’t receive forgiveness, no matter how sorry we are. No matter how much we try and make it right. And it’s hard to accept, it’s hard to let go of the injustice we feel at not being granted the forgiveness we had so hoped for.
But this is what we need to remember.
Their forgiveness isn’t your responsibility.
Your responsibility is this: To admit your mistakes. To own your actions. To seek forgiveness. To make right the things you can. To let go of the things you can’t. To learn, to grow, to recognise behaviours in you that have hurt others and change them. To mindfully choose to be a better person, and take necessary action required for that to happen.
But their forgiveness isn’t your responsibility.
We don’t get to control the way others think of us or what they choose to believe about us. We can stand before them with our heart in our hands and ask them to see it – to see us – for who we are and not for what we’ve done. But we can’t make someone forgive us who is determined to only believe the worst of us. Who is determined to hold tight to their judgement, their bitterness, their animosity.
This is a hard lesson for people like us to learn.
People like us, who believe in forgiveness. Who give second chances. Who understand the human condition, the way we fail and fall. Who choose to believe people are good, and that until we have walked a mile in their shoes, we will never fully understand the choices they have made. Nor the mistakes they have made, and why they have made them.
We are people who believe mercy triumphs over judgement, and we choose to love others with grace and with second chances, understanding the frailty of our own humanity. And it can be hard to accept there are people who don’t live like this, who don’t love like this.
But what matters is these people aren’t our judges, nor are they our jury. We don’t belong in their courtroom.
What they choose to believe about us is their choice, and who we are isn’t dictated by who they try and make us believe we are.
When we have taken responsibility for our actions, when we have owned our wrongs and sought to make them right, when we have asked forgiveness and reached for reconciliation, then we have done all we need to do. We are no longer bound by their unforgiveness but can walk away knowing we are worthy of our own grace, even when they are unwilling to extend theirs.
What others choose to believe of us is not the truth. It is only their opinion. Only their judgement. Only the evidence of their unenlightened heart.
Their forgiveness isn’t your responsibility.
We don’t always get the outcome we hope for.
But when we have done all we can do, it’s no longer our burden to carry. Just because someone isn’t willing to forgive us, doesn’t make us unforgivable.
Unshackled from the chains of their unforgiveness, we can now run free under skies of grace and redemption.
We can now rise strong.
The Unravelled Heart, a profoundly true reflection on trauma, abuse, love, loss and healing, now available worldwide on Amazon http://amzn.to/2BIvFhp
Image courtesy weheartit.com
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?
There was a world you used to belong to, and you grieve it. It’s there in front of you, every day, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – there, in the radiant faces of other women as they go about their social lives, their holidays, gym classes, dates, promotions. You wonder how, in a world so connected by social media, you are left feeling so goddamn disconnected from it all.
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.
Around you, other mothers appear cool, unflustered; they’ve got this. You wonder if they catch a glimpse of the defeat in your eyes before you look the other way, if they can sense the effort it takes to simply place one foot in front of the other.
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.
Image courtesy The Winged Woman
I was reminded today that we can choose to be bitter. We can be bitter over how much we have been hurt, the injustice of every way we have been wronged. Over the ways we weren’t loved and how we weren’t cared for and all that we didn’t receive that we felt we were entitled to. We can carry that close to us and hold it dear and let it dictate how we treat the world. Respond in kind. Even score. Eye for an eye.
Or we can see what a blessed opportunity we have to be the catalyst for change. To be the ones to break generational cycles. To choose to no longer hurt others because of the ways others have hurt us. To do for others what was never done for us. To sow love where only hate has been reaped.
To do differently; to do better.
It doesn’t always come easy, and it doesn’t always seem fair – to be the ones to have lived without love and yet be the ones to offer love back into the world that broke us. There isn’t any justice in that. Yet we are the ones who now choose to put in the hard work of ripping out our thistles of anger, bitterness, and judgement that we have allowed to grow and have nurtured with our unforgiveness, no matter how justified we may have been.
It takes much effort from our often weary hands to work the hardened soil of our hearts so that new seeds may be planted; much dirt under our nails and blisters on our fingers and grit that gets trapped inside our skin that we scrub, and scrub, and scrub, yet still can’t be free of. But it’s not always our own pain that matters. It’s how we choose to treat others in spite of that which makes all the difference.
It isn’t our responsibility to change the entire world ourselves – that is too much for each of us to carry. But we can change our part of it by offering love in the places we have been hurt the most. This is how we can heal not only the hearts of others, but also ourselves.
Because today, as I was able to offer love in a place I had been wounded, something was changed inside of me too. Something was released. Softened. Broken open. Healed. Restored. A work was done deep inside of me as I chose to override my own pain so that I may not cause the same pain to another.
A new seed is born.
The world is healed a little more.
Our healing comes in many ways. But always, always, our healing is found in the courage to choose love, even when it’s hard.
And no-one ever told me how
healing was supposed to feel.
That it would be an anguish
that claws along my ribcage
before it tears me wide open
and lays bare all my ugliness.
That it would be scarves of
pain weaved around my neck
like hands that grip my throat
and leave me fighting for life.
That it would be a wilted body,
exhausted from the relentless
fight against the demons that
wage war upon my beaten soul.
That it would be bloody hands,
blistered and raw from clinging
so tightly to the addictions that
deaden this goddamn torment.
No, no-one ever told me how
healing was supposed to feel.
I didn’t know it would hurt like
barbwire dragged over my skin,
and knives gouged in my heart.
Yet all I know is before I’m able
to full heal, I must allow myself
to fully break.
Image courtesy yourtango.com
You haven’t always been this way.
You haven’t always been a body lined with thorns, a heart wrapped in razor wire; hard lines and jaded eyes.
Distant, aloof, guarded.
There was a time you were shades of pastel; when your heart knew love, and trust rested freely upon your fingertips.
There was a time your days were painted with innocence. Where eager eyes gazed at the world with hope and wonder, your heart still shiny and new.
But all of this changed the moment you were betrayed by someone you loved. Someone you trusted. Someone who should have protected you. Someone who hurt you instead. Someone who allowed you to be hurt by others.
There is little else that shatters a heart as much as the pain of betrayal. It tears you open, rips your heart out of your chest. You don’t want to put it back, you want to leave it on the floor to bleed until there is nothing left, until the blood runs dry and you no longer have to feel a damn thing anymore. But you can’t. You have to go on. So you pick your heart off the floor and place it back inside your hollow chest.
Except, the heart that you put back is never the same heart. It is wounded, war-torn. It no longer seeks love, but only to protect itself from the pain of ever being betrayed again.
A heart that is betrayed is changed forever.
No longer will it trust anyone again, but greets every person with reservation and fear; wary of a world that has proven to only take advantage for its own benefit. It remains hyper-vigilant in its desperate need to prove itself right; forever searching for the cracks inside another person that prove they too are unworthy of trust. It needs to know its enemy. It needs to remain one step in front at all times. Kindness is met with suspicion, for your heart has learned nothing comes without a cost – there are always strings, always an agenda. Your heart rejects kindness, remains cynical of it, refuses to accept it. It would rather suffer on its own than accept kindness that allows it to become vulnerable to another.
Your heart no longer knows how to trust itself either, and it makes vows to stay hard, to stay tough. Never will I want again. Never will I need again. Never will I trust again. Never will I love again. These vows are the cornerstones of the fortress it builds around itself, the strongholds that keep the walls in place. It gives up hope of ever being protected and instead learns to protect itself. It becomes a slave to its independence, its autonomy. Here, in its fortress, it is safe. Here, behind its walls, it can remain distant, removed.
Here, your heart can trust itself not to feel.
For betrayal has taught your heart how dangerous it is to feel. To want, to need. To desire love, relationship, connection. No, your heart must deaden itself to its desires. It must wake each morning with one goal of attack – to kill your hungry soul. To destroy your desires before they destroy you. Your heart cannot afford to want, it is too dangerous, too much of a risk that will lead to being hurt again. This is how your heart stays safe – it refuses to be tempted by love ever again.
Except, your heart was created for relationship. Your heart was created for intimacy. But intimacy is the enemy, the biggest threat. Intimacy requires your heart to be vulnerable, to let someone close. To betray its own desires in the hope it will not be betrayed because of them. Intimacy is the most dangerous of all, and your heart turns itself away and chooses to live without hope of relationship, of closeness, of oneness with another.
Betrayal has changed your heart.
It has damaged your heart.
It has left it powerless, helpless, vulnerable, wounded, damaged, guarded, broken. Your heart can no longer trust, does not trust. It no longer believes in the goodness of anyone else’s heart. It no longer believes it is worthy of being loved, of being protected. It is tired from living in a constant state of anticipation and expectation that it will be hurt and betrayed once more. It no longer wants to love, no longer knows how to love. It has become numb, deadened to its desires, and you tell yourself you are content with this.
That here, you are safe. You are in control. You are untouchable.
Except, you are lonely. So goddamn lonely.
And this is the paradox of betrayal.
You are scared of relationship, yet relationship is the very thing that will heal your heart.
Dear heart, there is a need for you to be safe.
But there is a greater need for you to be loved.
The only way to heal is through love. You must find the courage to pull down your fortress. It has kept you safe. But you have dwelled long enough in your solitude. In your loneliness. It is time to lay down your weapons. Surrender is not defeat, but the end of the fight.
To love is to risk hurt. To trust is to risk betrayal. But you must risk so that you may heal.
Your heart has learned how to stay safe, how to survive.
Now, it must learn how to once again love.
Image courtesy onlinewallpapers.blogspot.com.au
I wish I could be better for you
That I could be like the poems
You read when you can’t sleep
Like the first taste of red wine
That kisses your eager mouth
Or the drops of saltwater that
Cling to your skin on a hot day
I wish your fingers didn’t bleed
From holding on so tight to me
That your ribs were not broken
From the way you fit my heart
Inside the safety of your chest
I wish I was more than sadness
That I could be louder than my
Silence and softer than my rage
I wish I had been taught of love
The love you are well taught in
Not the kind of love that forces
Your legs open in the nighttime
And fills your mouth with shame
I wish I was not made of mistrust
And sewn together with betrayal
Maybe then I would know how to
Be like the woman in your poems
Maybe then I would know how to
Be better for you.
Today I woke with your name upon my tongue, bitter, like the dregs of whisky that burned my throat last night as I drank to the sound of sad movies and faded dreams.
Bitter, like the taste of poison in my veins.
Once, you were the tender kiss of morning coffee upon my lips, the gentle warmth of the sun as it streamed through worn blinds and washed over our bones; our limbs tangled in the bed we used to share.
Now there is only the imprint of your memory, laid to rest in the cold grave next to me where you belong no more.
Yet still you remain, trapped inside my heart where the acidity of all we became seeps into my bloodstream and contaminates my flesh, my organs, my soul.
Yet still you remain, trapped inside the walls of my unforgiveness where I have refused to set you free. Where I have imprisoned you to my hatred, to make you suffer the wrath of my anger the way I had to suffer yours.
Except, the only person who suffers, is me.
I step outside, barefoot, and feel the cool of grass between my toes. The air is fresh, pure, and I breathe it into my lungs, ache for it to cleanse the remnants of you that reside within my core.
No longer do I wish to keep you here, inside my heart, where you corrode my veins. No longer do I wish to keep you here, where I am shackled to pain, where I am captive to misery with every breath I take.
I gaze at the horizon where city meets sky and in this moment I know.
There is nothing to do but forgive you.
There is no weakness in forgiving you, it is not an ill-fought surrender.
It is bravery, it is strength. It is release, liberation; freedom.
It is an act of love.
Not only in setting you free.
But in setting myself free.
Because in forgiving you, I forgive me.
I forgive the girl who needed to be loved, whatever the cost, no matter how much it hurt. Who didn’t understand back then how much she was worth and all that she deserved. Who settled for less, settled for abuse, turned the other cheek, all in the name of love.
I forgive the girl who made mistakes, who made wrong choices, who hurt other people because of how much she was hurting. I forgive her that she stayed, when she should have walked away. I forgive her vulnerability, her weakness, her desperate need for acceptance. I forgive her that she didn’t know how to fight for her heart back then.
But now she does.
Three simple words.
I forgive you.
No longer will I continue to hurt you for the way you hurt me.
But more importantly, no longer will I continue to hurt myself.
I step back inside, get dressed, and make myself some coffee. The day stretches out before me like any other.
Nothing has changed, except, everything has.
Finally, I am free.
Image courtesy fashionshowing.wordpress.com
One day I will not be so young
And foolish in the ways I hurt
I will arrive at therapy sessions
And learn how grown-ups heal
I will take notes in a notebook
With its pages still untouched
I will no longer soak my pores
With bottles of cheap red wine
Until I cannot tell the difference
Between alcohol and the blood
That seeps between the pages
Of the books I will never write
I will no longer be the angry glow
Of cigarettes along empty streets
As I watch garbage trucks at 4am
And hold nicotine against my lips
And pretend it is you I hold there
While a streetlight flickers above
I will no longer throw my outrage
Against the wall above your head
And watch as your fingers bleed
From sweeping shattered pieces
Into bins already full of confusion
That I cannot find a way to empty
I will no longer fill your suitcase
With the heaviness of my fears
Then show you to the front door
Instead I will tell you not to leave
“I need you,” I’ll speak out loud
And my eyes will not look away
One day I will not be so young
And foolish in the ways I hurt
And maybe I will go to therapy
And learn how grown-ups heal
Or maybe there is no right way
To put ourselves back together
Image courtesy pinkithy.blogspot.com