Savoring shells and squirming in skin…..

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Spring 1979.
A cold Topsail wind whips my tears along the sand in the early morning dark,
where I’ve been driven by a dream that had me jumping from my sleep
to lift a crying baby I couldn’t find.
She’s several weeks gone and my heart feels sprained
by sudden stabs of fear that she’s lost in the crowd of this big wide world
and I think I’ve done the best for her but I feel only this vicious sense of coming up short,
and don’t recognize the me that’s left in the after.
As I cry my hurt along the water’s edge,  something large rolls up against my foot.
A perfect conch.  On a beach of broken pebbles.  Somehow it washes up a warm and soothing grace,
this treasure from the deep – feels like “I’ve got this” – a wink delivered on the waves.
I take it home like a token given and keep it to rest my eyes,  my hope carried through the years.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It’s hers now – I sent it along to whisper love
and finding Allison this warm September last feels like another shell to hold;
I love this window.
Like when I’d rest my head against the doorframe to breathe in the wonder
of my littles asleep in their cribs,  so full up and tender for these tiny bundles of light wrapped in skin
It feels a little like that again,  and while Autumn is our busy season
and life doesn’t slow or gentle down for me to linger,
sometimes in the night I get up and pad down the hall to have a loving look and
it’s a beautiful thing that I can.  Another gift given and I know it.

But I don’t hear back
and as the leaves begin to fall,  an old chill comes over my soul like a fog rolling in.

I’m glad she doesn’t do fake just to make nice,
glad she’s living authentic and true,
and I support her in the story that’s her own to live and tell.

But why doesn’t she want me?

There it is, the haunting pain,
and this question doesn’t stand alone
because shame comes seeping up from the floorboards of shut off places
like a backwards flush and I feel the drag on my soul…..

“What’s wrong with me?”

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We’ve all felt it,  this burning kind of shame –
accusation that haggles with your worth until it talks you down,
your defects discovered – you might have been loved but this is a dealbreaker.
And if you say or show or let on or get found out
you’ll be put out in the cold where you belong
and so you hide your love away and go small and smaller still…..
It pricks me sharp but I’m fighting to show up and stay.

It’s coming on Thanksgiving and I feel it like a fever that I can’t shake
but I open to some outlaw grace and get inspired to reach out shaking anyway.
I’ll write her every  Monday – say the words I couldn’t say,
unfold the cramped legs of what I want to give her – at last I have a way.
I plunk an easy,  newsy note into her box each Monday night,
a little heartpour sent off grinning with a prayer,
something she can count on – a love that’s always there and this is joy to me,
even with the disappointment-hangover that happens in the afterdays as she doesn’t respond,
and I grab on to the beauty that I  find and let it steele me in the keeping true.

  I’m thinking that if I feel that something needs to happen
or be in order to repair what feels broken in me
then maybe it’s gain when it doesn’t go down that way,
because insecurity gets flushed out from where it festers hidden
and as twinkle lights begin to light up the December nights,
the stuff in my basement gets dragged from where it hides
and with every “have you heard?” I squirm in my skin as shame storms down on me.
My chest goes tight now when they ask.  Please look away.  Please don’t see
me standing naked in the glare of her no thanks.

I feel so much “I’m sorry” rumble up from the deep,  not for anything I’ve done
but for what I don’t know how to be.

The longing and loss are valid – I feel it an ocean,  the grief.
But something’s not true in this shadow.
It’s easier to call the bluff on lies that others believe,
but I’ve got some bleeding blind spots – needing help myself to see.
And as Christmas comes and goes with no response still,  I’m rumbling inside to get free….

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“There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers
than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise.
With skinned knees and bruised hearts,  we choose owning our stories of struggle over hiding,  over hustling,
over pretending.  When we deny our stories,  they define us.
When we run from struggle,  we are never free.
So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye….”
– Brene Brown
(Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted in her Rising Strong)

If you’re still along for the ride,  I’ll tell you right now – this chapter doesn’t have a fairy tale ending.
It’s a love story,  and real,  and there is beauty to unfold still
but it’s messy and raw and and soaked with pain and grace;
maybe this is just exactly the stuff of getting free
(the best is still to be)