Spoons and wounds and the words i couldn’t say…..

We played a game when I was young
where a handfull of spoons was fetched from the kitchen and placed loose in a pile on the table,
always one fewer than the players gathered ’round.
Like in musical chairs,  we would dive to grab a one with a certain turn of hand,
and the one who came up short without a spoon
had to traipse around the table saying “I am slow,”
while the grownups laughed and thought it cute,
and my grandma snickered we had to say it like a donkey
and sometimes the same child would do the circle of shame
again and again until the laughter sounded mean.
The loser wasn’t me but I ached that it was so and wished that everything came with more spoons.

On the day I came unfixed too far I wished that life came with more words
because I couldn’t grab onto a single one when the shoes came flying.
I went slow like a donkey and couldn’t say the things.
So I want to say them now.
For anyone who needs a spoon:

  Please knock on the door of my room or call me to the table
and show me your face.
My heart needs these words like air right now:
“hey,  sounds like today was hard for you.  Can we talk about it?
I heard you spoke with Mrs. King.
Did you find the words to say what you meant?
How do you feel about it now?  Confused?
Let’s try and sort it out together.  Because sometimes things are bigger than the both of us.
I just want you to know that you’re my girl
and I’m here for you.
Life can get confusing;
we’ll get through this tangle together.

I hit you with the shoes?
That must’ve hurt. I didn’t mean to hurt you;
didn’t even see you there.
I felt frustrated because the shoes were in the living room where I’ve asked you not to leave them.
They don’t belong there.
But you….you belong.  Always.
Come to the table and let’s love each other through this.”

Oh please say it so my heart can hear.
I want your eyes to touch me kind
and tell me I’m not horrid.
I cried because I was scared that I was a girl without a spoon.
So deeply,  crushingly sad about all these
damn spoons.

I want to know,  need to feel
that I matter more than my shoes,
matter more than a win or a smart retort,
more even than the cookies I make or how pretty I sing or
how fast the spin on my serve.
Please say it now
because I’m caught in a current and my soft heart puddles blood
and will begin to crust over hard
and it will take long for me to gather the words I couldn’t say.

Because they’re feeling words,
because this conversation we’re not having feels obscene,
and we don’t go on about ugly feelings;
when we’re this uncomfortable,  we simply don’t talk about it
all the harder.

But do you see that how hard we aren’t talking about this is breaking me apart?

God,  that I could have knocked on your door
and said,  “I need your questions.  Ask me gentle please.
Help me unravel this tangle we’re in.
Because this knot so tight has me unraveling inside
and this split between us is going to become what I do.
Please don’t teach me to run away;
show me there’s a way to be true to myself and stay.
Hold space for us all in this muddy and gray?

You say that I’m rebellious;
I call it broken-hearted.
You think I don’t care but I care too hard that
the way my name sounds in your mouth has changed,
how it comes out tight as if you’re cursing.
The shame in me and the shame in you makes the air somehow too hot
to stay inside my skin.

But I need you,  Dad,  need the way you soften things around here.
The way you sometimes lighten up the heavy in the house.
Will you stop figuring for a minute,  put down your pencil and turn around
and see me?
I need you to see me right now.
See the answers to the questions you’re not asking.

Please don’t let my first break-up be with you.

But you will not come
and I will move on to decide
that you can lose love fast,
that family can easily be torn,
will decide how unsafe to belong anywhere,
to always linger near the door
and never ever go all in because I don’t have that special thing,
that secret sauce that feels like worth,
the whatever kind of magic that it takes to be seen and sought.

Oh I’ll find other tables
and hustle hard for my seat
but for decades with an empty-belly ache.
This will be the wound you hand me,
as a wise one says all parents do,
and I will unknowingly wound my own and grieve this,  too,

But I will take this wound and discover the gift wrapped alongside,
will come to wildly value words and learn to string them together strong,
to rearrange and cobble and twirl them like glass until they catch the light
and make new ones if I must and work long to place them meaningful
and get sick sometimes to my stomach because I fear being
caught without the right ones.
Words will be both fences and freedom to me.

And I will leave our fundamental way
and learn to find and see truth in every nuance and shade;
no,  I won’t think only in black and white long
but will know that truth is something to fight to discover,
that suspending judgement is worth every screech of the brakes,
that not knowing is sometimes the only honest place to park.
That becoming A Liar will stir me to look for what’s true
and in loving truth I will come to better love you.

I will see that you were both young and scared and doing your best in
a shitstorm of shame that shook you
beyond your capacity to sit with me in it.
If you’d been given better,  if you’d known a different way,
you’d have done different,  I know,  because you loved me strong.
I will see your humanity in all of it’s fragile and terrible beauty
and this,  too,  will be gift to me.
I will never hold you again to a pedestal but will love you instead
and this is treasure when you’re received real instead of as an ideal.

I will know you were trying to give me the best of your love.
(Eagles)

“Shame derives it’s power from being unspeakable.
That’s why it loves perfectionists – it’s so easy to keep us quiet.
If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak it,  we basically cut it off at the knees.
Shame hates having words wrapped around it.
If we speak shame,  it begins to wither.
Just as exposure to light was deadly for gremlins,  language and story
bring light to shame and destroy it.”
– Brene’ Brown

“My gift is my song and this one’s for you.”
– Elton John

This post 5th in a series and,  yes,  long!
Thanks for wading through all of these words;
quicker reads to follow:)

When shame and shoes come storming…..

Back when the world was a coloring book
and my box of crayons still small,
the questions to my answers began to rattle in the wind
of a storm that blew in without warning
on an ordinary morning as I sat pulling on my school shoes
so I could hurry up the hill to catch the bus.

I was however old you are when the girl of you has turned to go
but the teenager isn’t ready for the task
and you wade through sixth grade and the in between to see what even fits anymore.
It was Springtime and I was wearing shorts at last but were my legs  tan enough
and did they look fat and maybe no one see me please that hard.
I wrestled my unloveliness as  I heard my Father’s quick clip headed down the hall
toward his room at the end
when a shot of pain lurched through as something struck my inner thigh
and also thwacked my cheek and lip.
One of my after-school shoes landed hard on the floor,
the other lay like a dream  in my lap.

My shoes.
They’d been trespassing in the living room on the green rug where I had sprawled out after supper
to listen to music on the floor.
On the green rug where my father ran in place every morning,
counting,  counting his high steps fast
as the floor trembled beneath his intensity.
It was where he began his day and my shoes had been there unwelcome.
The after-school shoes that should have been in my closet before I took my bath.
That morning they landed on me hard as he threw them through my door
into the room where they belonged.

Maybe he hadn’t seen me there.
Maybe he’d meant to simply return them to me hard.
I couldn’t wonder.  Couldn’t think the questions.
Just scrambled out the door before my tongue could taste the blood.

I climbed the hill,  climbed onto the bus,  climbed the stairs to the third floor
in the busy throng of chatter as life swarmed around me boisterous
but I couldn’t climb over the tears quickly rising,
tears that threatened to expose the unlovable of me
no matter how hard I pushed my loud and happy to the front.
Don’t cry,  dammit;  my jaw burned from willing down the sob swelling fast in my chest.
I feared the storm rising wild in my emotions;
please just don’t look at me right now.

But Mrs. King did look at me, piercing,
and her eyes jabbed a question that I tried not to meet
and quickly tears betrayed and crawled over the fists I’d planted to look casual against my cheeks
I was called down the hall to the long table where more troubled eyes poked
and my brain got stuck and I couldn’t make the words talk sense like I should
but instead cried more in the heat of their gaze.
Did my father abuse me ever?  No,  and I never said he did.
But talk of shoes didn’t match my pain
and my meanings got mussed in the haze.

I returned to my classroom relieved to go free,  and to the day and then the bus
and down the hill that afternoon to change my shoes and eat a snack and watch TV and feel at home.
At the table still we were a family until a phone call ripped the seam.
I was in my room reading when the voices changed.
My mother’s cheeks were pink and demanding when she stormed in and said the things
in a tight, angry tone that trembled I had lied and what did this mean?

The world slipped sideways;
what lie had I said?

It was an un-say-able kind of lie and I had told it
and now do I even know what people could think?
I didn’t know exactly except that my father didn’t come.
He didn’t come to ask what or why or how is this thing?
The house had no more air for talking,
holding it’s breath until the morning came.

He would do what we did in our culture when shame came storming.
He erased me.

I had to sit again with the grown-ups at school who wanted to know
and I couldn’t make the words –  maybe didn’t have the crayons
or know how to blend the colors true.
I painted muddy because mud was all I felt,
wanting only to back up,  to back out of this terrible mistake and never cry ever again.
But I backed into a wall that would close in between me
and all that had felt safe and known.

We would never speak of this again.
I had broken something.
Broken it so badly that I lost my place at the table.

“Sometimes the most dangerous thing for kids is the silence that allows them
to construct their own stories – stories that almost always cast them as alone
and unworthy of love and belonging.”
– Brene’ Brown

“You are here,  and more than you know,
you  belong.  There is more in you
than you ever see,  more than the less you convince yourself of
when the dark pieces of days seem to outlast the light ones.
You are a soul alight,  the flames of stars and shadows dusted
with moonlight and pitch.
This world cannot spin without you inside it.
You are here,  and you must remain.”
– Tyler Knott Gregson

Oh please don’t climb off now;  I won’t leave you here,  I promise.
There is love enough,  and grace and
I will park us somewhere lovelier when next you come

* this post 3rd in a series *