Sunday Grace No. 17

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1 - I did the right thing for myself when I needed to and took a mental health break from parenting. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s something I needed to do, and I’m grateful for the time off.

2 - I bought a new plain notebook to start morning pages again.

3 - Writing has been going well on the days I have worked on it, I’ve had multiple 5,000 word days lately on a number of projects!

4 - I’ve committed to what I will be working on for NaNoWriMo - continuing the “Reborn” story that I am writing by the seat of my pants.

5 - Even when I am down in the dumps and having one of the hardest times in my life I still made it out of the house to write with Mike today and I needed it like a drink of water in the desert.

I Know This Much Is True

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I met him when I was sixteen and he was twenty-four.

I had no business falling in love with him at that age, but I did — I fell hard.

Oh, and he was my boss.

Despite the age difference and authority problems, we became good friends fast, perhaps if only for the fact that I practically demanded it of him.

For four years or so, we were inseparable as friends, and then one night, one David Bowie filled drunken night, we had sex for the first time, and then everything changed.

Of course, I fell harder and deeper in love.

He fell into the steady routine of keeping me satisfied even though I knew that somehow, someday it would all end.

Sometimes you just have that feeling, you know?

I always knew that it would end with him, even though I kept pushing harder and pushing forward with the most tumultuous, un-relationship I’d ever had.

Of course, he wouldn’t lower himself to being my boyfriend.

I don’t know what he thought of me back in those days.

Maybe I was his best friend that he slept with sometimes, maybe I was a foolish girl in love that he used for company when he wanted me.

I just know that this escalated, things with us kept pushing forward even though I was filled with fear the whole time, the fear that I would lose him because he wouldn’t commit to me.

I remember the first time he told me he loved me, I was the biggest I’d ever been.

We were in bed, wrapped in each other in the dark, and he talked about wanting to have a baby with me, and I said yes, yes, right now.

We started planning on moving in together. We started talking about moving away to California and starting a whole new life together.

But… but…

This is where the story changes.

I came home from work one day and we had to have a talk.

“You know I can’t be with just you forever, right? I love you, and I want you in my life forever, but I have to be with other people.”

Monogamy.

The one thing he wasn’t willing to give me.

Everyone has their own ideas about monogamy.

Everyone has their own ideas and feelings about sex and relationships, period.

But, I never saw this conversation coming, and all of my dreams of us spending the rest of our lives together and making little brown babies vanished from my mind and was replaced with a black wall of anger and hurt that I couldn’t break through.

I know I can’t share my lovers, let alone share the one I love the most.

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation that we had, but I think it was short.

I can’t do this, I said.

I can’t agree to letting you fuck other people while we’re trying to have a relationship, and if you’re telling me this now, I have to just go.

So I went.

I walked out on him, ten years ago, and I haven’t seen or spoken to him since.

I’ll never forget the moment I got in my car and saw him through my windshield, standing in the doorway with his phone to his ear.

Who was he calling in that moment I ran out?

It wasn’t me.

Who was he calling to tell about what had just happened?

I’ll never know.

I’ll never know how he felt, what he thought, or how it was that after ten years it was so easy for him to let me go.

He never came after me.

He never called.

He never reached out to see if I was okay.

He didn’t do a single thing to fight for me.

Ending a ten year relationship so abruptly, and without closure, has broken me in ways I haven’t even begun to be able to express, because I hadn’t told this story first.

This story of utter humiliation — me thinking that this person loved me when he clearly didn’t, because you fight for the people you love.

I know this much is true.

Ten years on, and I haven’t recovered.

I’ve had one two year relationship since him, and that was with a married man, so I don’t think it counts but to show how broken I still am, and feel I still will be until I find a way to deal with the feelings I’m still carrying.

Shame. Utterly useless. Unlovable. Trash.

Ten years it’s been over, and all I have to show from a relationship that began twenty years ago is a broken heart that hasn’t healed, and a heart full of stories I’m too afraid to tell, because they are his stories, too, and what if I get them wrong?

What if I shouldn’t even care?

I know this much is true:

He was the love of my life, and I am not holding out hope any longer that there will be more love for me.

I know I’m only 36, but I’m a broken woman.

I don’t know if anyone else will be able to take my trust and stitch me back together again.

I can only hold out hope that one day I will forget the picture of his face and the sound of his voice, and the way he said my name when the words ‘I love you’ were attached.

Ten years on, and that’s still a lot to hope for.


The Hardest Part

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I’ve been staring at this screen for almost two weeks.

I’m even sort of torturing myself over it, making sure that this is the screen that my laptop opens to every time I log in, not to mention the app I have on my phone reminding me every day to write my 2,000 words.

But the words haven’t come.

The ideas are there, as they always are.

Too many ideas, I think.

That’s what makes starting the hardest part.

There are infinite ways to begin a story, there are countless stories I have to tell, and deciding which one to tell and where to begin it have had me stumped for weeks while I flounder around without a project to work on, feeling like I’m contributing nothing to my life, to my body of work.

The hard part is believing that what I start writing will be worth it.

That I will finish it, first of all.

That I will start a draft and write it to completion, and that it will be “good enough” in my own mind to dedicate myself to trying to edit it, and then, hopefully, finally, someday… publish it.

To me, being between projects and having nothing new to work on is the worst feeling in the world, and it’s all my fault, and all up to me to fix it — by just writing.

But the blank page taunts me.

It asks me whether I am sure this is where I want to begin.

It asks me whether the idea I have will be worth the time I am spending on it or if there is something else I should be doing instead.

When the only thing I should be doing is writing anyway.

We’ve all been at this blank page.

We’ve all sat in front of the white screen or held in our hands an empty notebook waiting to be filled with our words, and a lot of the time they just won’t come.

The ideas are there, the words are there, but the trigger can’t be pulled, for some reason the writing pistol is jammed.

I’ve found myself here more often lately than I want to admit.

It’s not just fiction that I have been struggling with, but writing here, as well.

I feel like I have thousands of stories inside of me, more stories than I could tell in a lifetime because I have a whole lifetime of them behind me, but when the day starts to dwindle to night and I still haven’t written anything, the anxiety about not knowing which story to tell, or how to begin telling it, gets the better of me.

Lately, I’m a writer who hasn’t been writing, and it’s the worst feeling in the world.

The hardest part is getting started.

So, the only thing to do is jump off the proverbial cliff and write something.

I don’t feel like I have any other option, because I feel like this is the only thing I can do.

It’s undoubtably the only thing I want to do.

Write books and publish them.

Make a living writing.

One way or another.

One word, one story at a time.

The blank page doesn’t have to be this scary for me. It isn’t this scary for everyone, right?

Or maybe it is. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest.

Sunday Grace No.16

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1 - I finally started a new writing project (today) and wrote over 5,000 words in less than four hours. It was awesome.

2 - Elise and I went with my parents to a little farmer’s market in Bozrah and went on the wackiest podunk hayride of our lives.

3 - Kishi Bashi, and all the music they’ve ever made.

4 - The Walking Dead is back, and the first episode of Season 9 was better than all the episodes in the last two seasons, so yay.

5 - Black nail polish, always. It’s me.

There is Life

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“I’m approaching the site,” Brad screamed into his helmet, hoping that the mic would pick up his voice along with the roaring of the wind.

He never should have gone out of the habitat today, the winds were too strong, there was too much red dust kicked up in the thin atmosphere and swirling around him in rusty eddies making him have to wipe off his helmet every few steps, but he pressed on.

Brad Filcrum was a biologist in a land where nothing lived.

With one day left on this strange, red planet, he was determined to find something, anything resembling life.

Just yesterday they had realized that a large outcropping of rocks had an opening that may have been a cave.

The crew members weren’t permitted to enter any caves or go beneath the surface, not on this first mission, but Brad wanted to just get as close as he could to the opening — peek into the darkness and see if there was anything to find.

Perhaps some kind of Martian cockroach, those suckers could survive anything and everywhere on Earth. Or maybe a small fungus that could somehow withstand the freezing temperatures.

It didn’t matter.

Brad had been told that the likelihood of discovering life on Mars in this first mission would be slim to none, but Brad also knew this would be his one and only trip to the red planet, and he wanted to make his mark.

“I’ve reached the rocks,” he called into his mic.

Static and gibberish was returned to him.

He looked back toward the habitat and could barely see it through the swirling red dust, but at least he could see it, he wouldn’t lose his way back.

As he turned back to the rocks, Brad thought he saw something long and black moving out of the corner of his eye, but he turned and there was nothing there, just the small opening between the pile of red boulders.

Brad dropped the bag he was carrying on the ground and pulled out some specimen jars. If nothing else, he would get a soil sample from this shaded area to see if the nutrient components were different than the rest.

A shadow passed over him as he was bent over the bag, and Brad felt his heart flip-flop in his chest.

He snapped his head up, and could have sworn he saw a shadow moving inside the little rock cave.

“…okay…there?” he heard a crackling through his comms.

“Yeah, I’m okay, just spooked myself,” Brad said, then took the specimen jar and moved closer to the little cave.

He squinted and rubbed at his helmet.

He could have sworn it looked like something was moving inside the cave.

Suddenly, Brad wondered whether coming out here was worth it.

“Hey guys, I think I’m gonna head — “

Brad’s voice cut off abruptly when a long, black arm darted out of the cave and snatched the specimen jar out of his hand.

Before he could say or do anything, another arm lashed out, grabbing onto the bag by his feet, and as it pulled away he felt something pulling at the pant leg of his suit.

“Oh my god, it’s a tentacle,” he screamed into his comms.

Brad turned and began running back toward the habitat, shouting into his comms as he lumbered over the rocky Martian soil.

“There’s something in there, something in there and it has tent — “

And that was the last thing Brad said before he was grabbed around the waist and yanked back with enough force as to make him lightheaded, but unfortunately, he didn’t pass out before reaching the cave.

Brad’s body was too big to fit into the space between the boulders, but the tentacled arm that had him didn’t care about that at all, it pulled anyway.

Brad screamed when he felt his back breaking and pelvis being crushed as he was bent in half and yanked through the opening, falling backwards into darkness in the clutches of his certain death.

Brad Filcrum had found life on Mars.

It would be many missions before anyone found what it had left of Brad.

This House Breathes

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The house breathes.

Oh, no, child. That isn’t the house settling onto its foundation like your momma says, oh no.

This house breathes.

You see it up there on the hill, looking down at us?

It’s looking at us through all those busted up windows, and let me tell you, child, that house is mad as hell that those windows got broke, cause you know there are things still living inside there.

Ain’t just those creepy crawlies in the closets and the spiders in the eaves, there.

That house has things living in it that get mad in the daytime and come out after dark to play.

You should never go in there after dark, but you shouldn’t be going in there in the daytime, either.

Why, because they’re mad, child.

Their windows are broken and the paint is peeling off the walls. The hallways haven’t been swept in fifty years and no one thought to take the curtains off for washing, they just rotted where they hung.

Sure, the furniture is all gone, that got stolen up out of there right quick after the family passed on, but you see, not everything made it out of that house.

No, child, listen here, don’t go near that place.

Can’t you feel it watching you through them window holes?

This house can see.

This house has eyes on the inside that are watching us right now; they be wondering if we’re dumb enough to come closer.

You dumb enough to go closer, boy?

Naw, sure you ain’t.

No one listens to me anymore, a crazy old man wandering the streets.

I see everything, you know.

I’ve seen it when the lights come on upstairs and the shadows start to dance, and boy, child, you’re all alone and it’s getting close to dark.

Hey, where you going?

Aren’t your parents going to be looking for you, for dinnertime?

Come back here, now!

There’s nothing left behind in there that you can take away!

You don’t have to prove nothing to me, or your friends, or even yourself, so come back, now!

Did you see that?

Did you just see that door swing open, boy?

Yeah, you saw it, plain as I saw it, but there’s no one in there to open that door for you, boy!

That house is breathing, it’s sucking you right in just like it got that other kid last year.

Yeah, remember him?

They never found him, but this was the last place he was seen, walking into that house.

Yeah, go ahead and call me names. Nothing I haven’t heard before. Want to throw a rock at me, too? Some of you little shits just love that, don’t you?

Well, fine, I tried.

Go on, then.

I’ll stand here and watch.

That house is going to take a big breath and swallow you whole.

Sunday Grace No.15

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1 - I started my own Medium publication, the Friday Fright, a pub for writers of horror and fantasy. Go me. I hope it works out.

2 - This was the first period I’ve had since I’ve started getting my period again that I didn’t want to kill myself once!

3 - Elise got glasses! She’s slowly but surely adjusting to life with them.

4 - I started reading Needful Things by Stephen King after binging a bunch of his old interviews and talks and can’t believe I forgot this one - it’s good, classic old King.

5 - I’m determined to start a new writing project this week. Let’s see if it happens.

Don't Tell Me What to Cherish

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“Oh, he’s just precious. You need to cherish these times while they last.”

That’s what I heard an old woman say to a struggling young mother yesterday when I went to bring my daughter to pick up her first pair of eyeglasses.

There was a woman who was also there with her daughter, who sat at the desk next to us and was getting fitted for new glasses, but the young mother also was dealing with a crying toddler, a little boy flailing around on the floor and crying because he didn’t want anything to do with anything.

He was done.

As cute as I noted he was, with blond hair and little dimples, those irresistible chunky toddler legs sticking out the bottom of his shorts — he was still, at the moment, just a screaming hellion on the floor.

And there was this old woman talking about cherishing it.

I saw the young mother roll her eyes.

We made eye contact for a minute and I gave her my best look of sympathy and camaraderie, and I rolled my eyes, too.

Clearly, it had been a few decades since the old woman had to deal with a screaming toddler on her own in public.

But what really got to me was her comment — cherish these times while they last.

Well, what if we don’t cherish these times, lady?

What if these times are total hell and we can’t wait to get out of them?

What if these times of tantrums and diapers and inability to reason have driven this young mother to the brink of her sanity?

What if she just can’t wait for her son to grow up and out of these behaviors?

And what if he never will?

My daughter is twelve and three quarters going on eight.

Perpetually.

Elise is autistic but also Intellectually Disabled, and for all the work we’ve done, therapy we’ve been to, interventions we have tried, she just doesn’t seem to be growing up.

We have plateaued at this juncture that feels impossible to overcome — that maybe, in her heart and mind, my daughter will behave and live with the mentality of an eight year old forever.

Now, I know that some camps don’t think it’s right to assign a mental age to people with disabilities, because plateaus can be overcome and things could eventually change, she might eventually, miraculously mature — but I stopped holding out any hope for that and I’ve started to live with the fact that she might not.

It’s easier for me to live this way, to let go and let her be.

But I can’t abide strangers telling me what I — or other people — should cherish, when they have no idea what they’re talking about.

What if that little boy had been autistic or disabled, too?

What if this wasn’t just a case of a cute little boy melting down for a few minutes, but if this was something that happened every time the boy was taken out in public, maybe because he’s sensory overloaded, maybe because he doesn’t understand what is going on, or maybe because he is scared.

For some parents, all we want is for our children to grow up.

For some of us we tread carefully through the years, celebrating every late milestone, hoping that the next one will be reached soon and with little trouble.

We don’t all cherish the behaviors of our little kids, not when we are afraid our kids will always be little.

We humans need to watch our mouths around each other.

I know that we are in a hyped up world of Trump America where it seems people feel like they can say whatever to whomever they want and forget about political correctness, but what has happened to simply thinking before we speak?

To the mother with the screaming child, I think the only appropriate thing to say would have been:

“Can I help you?”

But instead she got unsolicited comments and stares.

Cherish these times

When it could have been the worst day of that young mother’s life. When she could have just been dealt the hardest news a parent might have to hear.

When, clearly, she was struggling.

Cherish these times…

I will never tell you to cherish any particular time in your parenting journey. I have no idea what you’re going through. I will never know whether you are aching for your perfect child to stay little or yearning for your troubled child to grow up.

What’s more is, I will never speak up and offer unsolicited comments or advice to young mothers with screaming children.

This isn’t the time to cherish anything.

This is the time to help each other, to lift one another up and come together in solidarity with each other.

Cherish this:

“Can I help you?”

Something is Holding Me Back...It's Me

 Photo by  Noah Buscher  on  Unsplash

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

I love to feel like I am a part of something important, and I haven’t felt that way in a really long time.

I mean, I love having a group of friends, I would love to have a romantic relationship again in my life ever, and I love working on and dedicating myself to things that matter.

But for a long time, I haven’t had any of those things in my life… and it’s my own damn fault.

The only excuse I have for not having any of those things in my life right now is because I haven’t tried — and the reason I haven’t tried is because I’m scared.

I’m scared that I’m going to try to make friends and fail because making adult relationships work is much harder than I ever thought it would be.

I’m scared that I am going to start going back on those dating websites and get rejected by every man who I go out on a date with, again. Beyond that, I’m scared that I won’t even have the nerve to start online dating again because my thoughts are so turned toward failure I feel like I’m a physical manifestation of it.

And working on something important?

Ha.

My writing, my body of work, that is what I consider to be important, and I am the only one who agrees with me so far.

It’s not a good way to be.

But.

There is always a but.

Yesterday I wrote something that was a little scary:

Ten Things You Didn’t WANT to Know About Me

I wrote a post about the things you don’t want to know about me — the things that I am not proud of and generally won’t tell people.

It was more than a little scary, actually.

It felt a little bit like jumping off a cliff and admitting the things that I’ve always been afraid to say online all at once, like ripping off the writing about myself band-aid, and now I know that the only thing that is holding me back from telling my stories and adding to my work is me.

The sad thing is, I’ve written this post before, many times.

But I don’t think I’m the only one.

Just, this time, I’m going to do something about it.

I can’t keep coming to the end of every month with nothing to show for the days that have passed.

I have to, as they say in math class, show my work.

Lately, I have been studying Buddhism and how meditation along with a new outlook on life might help turn things around for me — not just my mental health, but my whole life and approach to living.

I’ve established that writing and being published are more important to me than doing anything else, so now I am going to take steps to really make that happen.

Maybe I’ll even go back on an online dating site and see what is out there for me these days, once I feel like I have something to offer someone.

But right now, in the state that I am in, this homeschooling and not having a job and living with my parents state that I am in, this has to change, and I have to grow.

I’ve known for a while that I am the only thing standing in my way and I haven’t been able to figure out what my problem is, and honestly, I still don’t know if I’ve figured out what my problem is.

I don’t think it has anything to do with motivation or laziness, I don’t know even know if I believe in those things anymore, but there is something I do believe in, and that’s determination.

I am determined to turn my life around and figure out how to make a living writing.

It’s all I want for my life right now, and if I can’t work every day to try to figure that out, then what the hell am I doing here at all?