regrets

if i had known then
what i know now
will send me on an endless
loop
of regret
it’s an impossible wish
because no matter how i lived my life
i could always find something
i completely fucked up.

i am finding myself struggling with issues of control right now. being the child of an alcoholic control freak, i became obsessed with finding control over my own life. relationships have always been hard for me because i want control–so i can feel safe, but i am also programmed to be “a good wife.” those two things do not live well together. i usually end up resenting and alienating anyone who dares to date/live with/marry me.
then i became a mom.
talk about no fucking control.
so here i am now, trying to renovate a house, raise four kids, and navigate a friendly relationship with my ex for the sake of co-parenting.
i feel like i am drowning under all of the needs of the house, the kids, and even the ex. i want to fix everything…but so many things spin out of my control.
i am so burned out, y’all.

but i have my art. my art keeps me sane.
if i knew then…. 9X12 ink on watercolor paper…$45

death wishes

i usta sit
by darkened
winter windows
this same window
i now make art
with the light of
eons ago
i stared at the dark
reflecting little me
reflecting damaged me
back
waiting for him
to come home
praying
he would not
come home
death wishes
for daddy dearest
&
only forty years later
wishes
granted.

yesterday as i was driving back from dropping off the minions, my cell phone rang & “pure evil” came up on the screen.
i did not answer.
when i got home, i listened to the message. my mom, telling me that she thought he was asleep, but that my dad is dead.
that’s my mom, phoning around for a reaction before actually calling the paramedics.
so…my dad is dead.
don’t say you’re sorry, because i am not & if you say you’re sorry, it will only make me feel like a bigger shit.

five years later…

excerpt from my short story “jesus fingers”

You feel like you are inviting badness into your life every time you mutter “the little fucker” to yourself and every time you regret not killing it when you had the chance—every time you think about it just disappearing from your life and how easy that would make everything. You can’t help fantasizing though because everything just seems so hard now. So fucking monumentally stressful.

And your body that you were anxious to have as your own again—where is it now? And the days you were anxious to have as your own again? How many more years before that happens now? Five? More? With number three you kept thinking, “Just get through the toddler years this one last time and there won’t be any more toddler years to deal with. Just get through the breastfeeding one last time. Then I won’t have to worry about what I do to my own body—it will be mine again.” But now you sink into despair, realizing it will be even longer. Another baby to soothe to sleep. Another toddler to watch with an eagle eye. Another toilet training. Another kid’s meal to buy if you can actually afford to go out ever again.

five years later

i am defeated
by a five year old
he crushes me
so easily
maybe because
not much of me is
left
he destroys me
so easily
screaming & screaming & screaming
until i am
lying
on the floor
sobbing
i am nothing
as i wish
silently
reverently
that i had never
become
a
mother.

ps.
writing both of these pieces, my short story and this free verse, it helped me to deal with the overwhelming anguish around my conflicted feelings about motherhood.
i wouldn’t trade poppy for the world, but that doesn’t mean sometimes i just don’t want to be a mom.

don’t tell…the last page?

have i finally exorcised this fucking ghost?

i hope so. i am tired of holding a torch that just burns the fuck out of my fingers. i want to move on and stop wondering which thing that i did wrong was the thing that drove him away.

fuck it.

it needs editing & more substance, etc. but the rough draft is available entirely for reading over at medium.

let me know if you have any suggestions for work that needs to be done on it. i am still pretty close to the story–i was crying as i wrote this last page. but i think in writing it, i am working out a lot of the bullshit that i was holding onto and calling love.
yay.

the journal page is from 1995 when seymour & i lived in austin, tx with peacocks on our front lawn .

rough thoughts; rough sketch

he sleeps in my arms now. as beautiful, as peaceful as an angel.
but the last thing he said before he fell asleep?
he looked into my eyes.
he snarled, “i hate you.”
my four year old hates me.
he wishes i was dead.
maybe he doesn’t mean it…probably he doesn’t mean it.
but how could i blame him if he did? after all,
i spent 42 weeks hating him.
i spent 42 weeks wishing he was dead.
what kind of mother am i? not the mother he deserves.
“i hate me too,” i assure him. “i hate me too.”

my fourth child. my quixotic child. he was the only one i didn’t plan. the only one i didn’t hope & wish for. and every day since he was conceived has been a struggle for me. i love him. i truly do, & i wouldn’t trade him for the world. he is an amazing little person…but every day is a struggle. and i wonder what my struggle has done to him.

if you are interested, here is a creative non-fiction piece  i wrote about my pregnancy with him.

split-apart

it was new year’s eve 1992. i was 22 and running away from my life, en route to washington dc from iowa city, ia. i went to my parent’s house in illinois for christmas. my younger–very straight & conservative–sister suggested we go out to a bar in the nearby college town of normal. i think she was trying to impress us that she could be cool. it was a grunge bar (before grunge was really even a thing) with a purple mohawked & tattooed bartender and all the hip college kids as clientele.

i woke up the morning before we went there with one thought in my head, “today you are going to meet the man you are going to marry.”

it was a strong thought. this had happened to me before–and come true. the strong waking premonition. so i did not doubt it.

at the bar, the gallery, i was amazed at the number of hot guys. i had bad luck dating in iowa city, everyone thought i was a lesbian–and i had plenty of those opportunities…but very few straight ones. and all terrible in their own ways. so i felt i had stumbled upon an oasis in my romantic desert.

of the sea of hot guys, i was informed by one of the bartenders that her good friend thought i was cute. he was–sadly–the least attractive of the boys there…not at all my type. large & hairy. but due to my premonition, i thought, what the hell. let’s see what happens. so i started dating him. started having feelings for him. scrapped my plans to move to dc & (with the help of the tattooed bartender) found a job & a place to live in normal.

then the mountain man dumped me.

in retrospect, i think i was just the person he needed to feel confident enough to go after the woman he really wanted to be with. and, his having me doting on him, gave him that attractiveness credit with the would-be girlfriend. all of a sudden, because he was my boyfriend, he was a guy worth looking twice at.  i was a tool. they are happily married now. i never got a thank you card for that…oh well.

i spiraled as someone with low self-esteem is bound to do once rejected. i dated & flirted & messed around…a lot. seriously, so many cute guys! there were parties where all these hot people would sit around & play “spin the bottle.” i had so much fun that i can never tell my kids about.

anyhoo!

there was this one bouncer at the gallery. okay. stop. erase your mental image of “bouncer.” at this bar, the biggest & most threatening bouncer employed there was a woman. none of the bouncers could have probably bounced. mostly they just checked id. and in the case of the 6 foot woman bouncer–deep throat kissed everyone who came through the door. ah…the early nineties….

so there was a bouncer who when i first saw him he was cleaning his brand new belly button piercing behind the bar. (it later got infected and was impressively pus-filled enough that the piecing was abandoned.) i had also just gotten my belly button pierced–so i was like, “hey, me too.”

here’s the thing though. this boy was so incredibly good-looking that my mind literally did not entertain thoughts of him for even a second. he was quickly filed in the “out of my league” category. also. he was in one of those epic romances that everyone references when they are talking about perfect couples. it was always him “&amy.” they were a fixed point in time.

and i was a paradox.

but we became fast friends. fun friends. he was great to goof off with. funny. so funny. i can remember my face hurting from laughing when i was with him. and so laid back. i would find him at parties (there was always a party. seriously. weekend parties. after-hour parties. so many parties!) and we would have long conversations about everything & nothing.

then one day i was at his going away party. he was moving to montana. and he was gone. my life went on. i continued living a strange life full of drama & dating.

then one day he was back.

i was walking down the street, and there he was. he told me that he just got back into town, and from that point we were inseparable.
he later told me that he moved to montana to get away from his girlfriend–it didn’t work.
he also told me
that he came back
because he had a dream about me.
i continued to resist it as a romance…especially since he seemed unable to break up with his girlfriend. but we were the best of friends. we plotted ways to make money. we went on crazy road trips. we even became roommates.

i would lay in his arms every night…you know, as his roommate, and feel like i was home. he made everything okay.

we eventually did date.
and break up.
and get back together.
and get engaged (with tattoos!)
and move to an all girl college together.
and move to austin, texas together.

and…

i fucked it up. as hard and terribly as i could. i mean, it’s like i put effort  into fucking it up. i destroyed our relationship. i destroyed everything.

and i have spent the past 20 years trying to forget him and get past him (when i’m not missing him & imagining what would have been).

but i can’t forget him. i remember him better than i remember what i ate yesterday. he is etched in my brain…my heart…scattered across my soul.
i no longer believe i am able to forget him. or that i am meant to forget him.
back then & still today, i believe he is my split-apart.
the other half of me.

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