Transparent Familiarity

May I know you more than your name and face show me,

More than the cold portfolio of another human shadow?

Dare I to ask what it is you believe, beg you not to deceive,

Guarantee to receive your answers, and ne’er to aggrieve?

May I humbly request all this in tones dressed in love’s best,

To impress on your heart what I now profess from my own?

Tell me, now, do you believe in God, is religion only façade,

Are you by wonders awed, and have you travelled abroad?

Are your angels benevolent, your worship simple or elegant,

Inside four walls what is your temperament? Is it malevolent?

How strong does your hope hold, can you cope with your life,

Or do you walk the tightrope between sanity and calamity?

What is your profession, confession, obsession, and delight,

As well as your insight, foresight, hindsight, and predilection?

And tell me, do you make a living or life, in giving or in strife,

Striving for more in laborious chore, or content to be a bore?

Do I dare to ask all of this? Care enough to know the true you,

To bear the burden of intimacy, hear the voice of legitimacy?

Ah! Do I dare to ask for transparent familiarity? Or do I fear?

With Jamie Forever Joined

Curling round you in the cold to warm myself upon your chest
With legs entwined neath thick covers where I take your best
And breathe into my soul the sweet scent of your heart of gold
Catching me up into rapture as yet untold upon pages of time
As we climb this ladder of eternal bliss held in arms so strong
With never a thought of waking in the night from such delight
And you hold at bay frightful demons with all of hellish blight
And I am safe here next to you though they never understand
Or begin to comprehend how one like me can be one with you
My true life of life given to you to live thru me as I live in you
Dearest of the dear … Jamie

Fair Weather Friend: Almost Surreal

Only friend when convenient, never decent enough to please anyone else

Trapped in self-servitude, drinking the poison of crude self-centeredness

Awash in your own fears, tears and a built-up paranoia from many years

With no ears to hear the cries of another, to be bothered with fellow man

But only to make demands grown from the rotten soil of base expectation

In a self-created damnation you do not even realize, so blind your heart,

And who can cure your blighted soul, when you see only your own part,

And how to start living again after being dead to life around you so long,

Or to stir your spirit to feel some pick of pain for another desperate man

When long gone has been any sense of empathy twixt you and humanity?

Yes, you are the quintessential fair-weather friend … which is no friend

Human Trinity: A Childhood Fantasy

Remembering the first time we ever met, me and you under skies so blue
With hues of red and pink and inky clouds on one fine, pretty day in May,
And you so rough and rugged with a flare for sports that I could not bear
And me so odd and different and bent to the esoteric atmosphere of life,
Seeing what others could not see and hearing what others could not hear,
Yet it all seemed normal to me and to my lovely brother, Jamie, my heart
And my better part, ever and always, but you came along in golden song,
With skin so smooth and tan, flashing smile and piercing eyes, and strong
And we looked across the ground and instantly  found one common soul,
And no one ever knew that two young boys could ever be like tide and sea,
So very free when bound so closely and yet so different, except my Jamie,
And he made three-in-one, an almost divinely-human holy communion
In which we each remained ourselves while inseparable in loving union


Note: Although I do have one brother, he is 10 years older and his name is not “Jamie,” who is simply one blessed part of this childhood fantasy.

Some Lessons Learned Along the Way

Since leaving the group home last year and moving into a nice, middle-class home out in the countryside here in southeast Alabama, I’ve learned some important lessons ~ potentially life-changing lessons ~ that are bound to be for my eventual good, even though it’s now pretty painful. Anyway, I usually sort through things like this best when I collect my thoughts and write, so … I’m kind of thinking out loud here, getting it all down on paper, and maybe I’ll even receive some valuable feedback (and encouragement) from my readers. So, here goes, lessons I’ve learned over the past year or so:

  1. It is impossible for me to provide total care of another individual having very specific and special needs, such as, in this case, being a full-blown schizophrenic. I can love and try to understand, be compassionate and helpful, but I cannot, as my friend and landlord has put it many times, “handle” this person. Really, I’ve come to realize that probably no one individual can “handle” a full-blown adult schizophrenic on their own, without any help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether that’s true or not, though, I realize that I can’t do it … and that’s okay. Which leads to number two.
  2. I am who I am and what I am, and it’s not bad or wrong. I have intelligence, gifts, talents, and abilities, but I can’t be everything to everybody … even my best friend. Period. I have my limitations, part of which involves being bipolar with depressive disorder as well as general and social anxiety disorder. And this is simply true, period. And no one is going to wave a magic wand and make it go away, and I can’t just “get over it.” No, there’s a lot I can do to deal with it and even live a fairly healthy, productive life … but I can’t just “get over it.”
  3. Along with this, I’ve come to realize that my plans for my life have to truly be my plans. And it doesn’t matter … it can’t matter what others think, even if it’s a close family member or my best friend. And they may want to map out my life for me, but that wouldn’t be good and healthy for me. If I’m really that bad off, then I probably need to just go back to some structured, group setting rather than being out on my own … but I’m not that bad off! Period.
  4. And so too, I can’t accept shaming… If someone is constantly reminding me of how good, gracious and generous they’ve been to me, and continue to be, then something’s wrong. Point in fact, whether they consciously realize it or not, they’re engaging in shaming. Whether it’s their intention or not, they’re embarrassing and even humiliating me, and that’s not right. It’s certainly not healthy. If someone ~ family member or friend ~ makes a truly genuine offer, whatever it may be, then it’s not going to come with strings attached, and they’re certainly not going to constantly, repeatedly remind you of the wonderful gift they’ve given you. If they do, then guess what? It wasn’t really, truly a gift, which leads to another lesson:
  5. Yeah, it’s like the old saying goes: If it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably not true! So if that family member or friend makes an offer, again whatever it may be, and it almost seems too good to be true … look for the hook! More than likely there’s more to the picture than you’re seeing at the moment. Especially if they tell you again and again and again that they’ve given you something oh-so good and wonderful, something you couldn’t hope for elsewhere, and repeatedly remind you of just how thankful you ought to be, well … something’s terribly wrong. Loving family members and good friends just don’t do this. Besides, you just can’t live with this hanging over your head, at least you can’t live an authentically healthy life. So, yeah, look for the hook, because it’s very likely that, really and truly, there’s something in it for them. In other words, if they’re shaming you to keep you humble and grateful and essentially under their thumb, then there’s a reason they want you in that position. You have to ask yourself why… Look for the hook!
  6. And speaking of family and friends, I’ve had to realize that not only are my relationships my own, and no one else, I also have to guard those precious relationships. For example, with my children. I have a fairly decent, healthy relationship with both my children, and our relationship is primarily between me and each of them … no one else. Therefore, I cannot abide someone, no matter how close they may be, analysing and critically critiquing these relationships. Yes, family and friends have the right to talk with me, encourage me, even politely offer advice, but when that friend says something like, “I’m really surprised, even shocked, that your children still speak to you, much less love you and want to have anything to do with you,” they’ve gone too far. That person has crossed the line, period. And, by the way, I told my children about this (yeah! it really happened!)and we talked about it at some length. Both of them were blown away that this person would say something like that. And they lovingly reassured me that, though I’ve made my share of mistakes, I’ve never done or said anything at all to lose their love. So yeah … both of them love me, respect me, and certainly want to continue being an important part of my life. Far, far from writing me off … they love me and want me! Period! So this “friend” was just wrong, plain and simple. But he was also very hurtful. So anyway, no, I can’t have that sort of crap in my life… I don’t deserve it, which leads to the next important lesson:
  7. I am valuable. I have real worth. Consequently, I deserve as much respect as the next person. Yes, of course, I’ve had my issues and problems and struggles, but I’ve also accomplished a lot in life. And I’ve almost always been kind, compassionate, understanding, and generous. I’ve certainly always given others consideration and respect, so I deserve at least as much in return. This means, of course, that I’m simply not going to put up with condescending attitudes and total disregard for my thoughts and feelings… You know, it’s like this: I don’t treat others this way ~ I don’t treat others disgracefully ~ so I sure as hell don’t expect to be treated this way!
  8. And finally, it’s probably best not to become too entangled with family members and friends. You know, if I’m going to maintain those relationships, those friendships, then (at least in this culture, in this society) it’s probably best for me to be as independent as possible. Sad to say, but at least in this day and time, in this part of the world, dependency leads to subservience. The person who even partly controls your life, effectively controls you. So if I don’t like this kind of arrangement, then I need to break free and be as independent as possible. No more, no less. It just doesn’t work out, at least not without ruining that friendship, or other relationship.

Oh, and one more lesson just from my observation of a grieving friend:

  • You can’t keep someone alive through some mausoleum or memorial… Memorials to loved ones who’ve passed on is perfectly okay, so long as you’re not holding on in some really unhealthy way. When a loved one dies it’s sad, even tragic, and you mourn and part of you will probably always miss them, but … you’ve eventually got to let them go! And you’ve got to move on. This doesn’t mean you’ll ever totally forget them. Of course not! But it does mean that you pick up the pieces, get yourself back together, and move on! You get on with truly living real life! Yeah, it can be really difficult, but it’s far worse to somehow try to artificially keep that person alive after they’re dead and gone and buried… I hope this doesn’t come across as cold and cruel, really. I mean I’ve lost plenty of loved ones already, including my dearly departed parents. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss them, but … but I’ve moved on … just like they intended! Let me say that part again: Just like they intended! My folks would be horrified, in fact, if they thought I was holding on and somehow trying to essentially keep them alive in some sick fashion… That’s not good. It’s not healthy, but … I know someone right now who’s doing this. I see it. I know it. And I know it’s not good, not healthy. In fact, in many ways I think it’s tearing him apart. 

Anyway, thank you one and all for letting me share. Thanks for letting me “unload” some of my burdens, clear my head, and whatnot. Most of all, thanks for reading, and if you have some thoughts or observations to share, please do so in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you, as always!

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Written On Empyrean Papyrus Scroll

Life is living words written on empyrean papyrus scroll

To unfold in undulating time tied to still, soothing space

In harmony with hope and aims we hardly understand

As the Fates seem to command our delightful destinies

Yet only to surprise us with reprisal in requital for sins

Of unknown origin committed for an unknown reason

In some season of unbridled passion pushing our souls

Beyond virtue to villainy without our ever being aware

So that we dare to pen our last chapter in this chronicle

Of love languishing on the shore of enchanting Elysium

Where our empyrean papyrus scroll will be read aright

As the dark night of our soul falls with call of judgment

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Feasting: A Triquain

You feasting

By my side keeping watch

As we lodge together by rivers

Of old with none told of our everlasting love

Safely secured by heaven so bold

In my heart forever

While you feast

 


Note: The triquain was created by Shelley Cephas, and is a seven line poem with syllables in multiples of 3 as follows: 3, 6, 9, 12, 9, 6, 3. This form is always centered and is most often unrhymed. 

Friends: A Canopus Poem

You and I are one soul in two bodies

Joined together forever by our love,

Intertwining together our stories

Written forever in heaven above,

And so shall we never be torn apart,

Nor our affection ever disposed of,

For we are above all friends of the heart

 


Note: The canopus is an invented verse form stressing a “continuous flow of thought,” attributed to Clement Wood in The Complete Rhyming Dictionary and Poet’s Craft Book 1936. It is a poem in seven lines, 10 syllables each, with a rhyme scheme of a, b, a, b, c, b, c.

Crazy Life: Doing What’s Best, Saying Farewell

For about 24 hours now the conversations with invisible others and the maniacal laughter has been almost incessant. My housemate seems to be going off the deep-end and there’s nothing I can do about it. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea for her to leave the group home after all, something at least one mental health technician (MHT) told me at the time. How was I to know, though? She seemed so … well, okay.

Having lived with Mary in close quarters for 14 months in the Samson Group Home, I figured I knew her well enough. Yes, I knew she talked to her “boyfriend” every day. I even knew she believed he somehow lived inside her, but it never seemed to make that much difference. I mean, all in all, she was not only functional, but she became a good friend. So I guess I allowed myself to believe I could “handle” her “eccentricities.”

More recently, however, she has been talking to “people” about dark rings in the bathtub, someone being “blind as a bat,” ladybugs, whether to drink beer or Coke cola… She’s even been talking about me while I’m present, as if I’m no where around! And with all of this ongoing, convoluted conversation has been the constant, maniacal laughter … very loud, very insane, like something out of a dark movie.

Well, this has caused me to take a step back, and take a good hard look at Mary’s situation here, and I’ve had to conclude that it’s not been healthy for her for quite awhile now. Since leaving the group home, she’s devolved into basically sleeping irradicably, drinking mass quantities of coffee, and smoking up towards two pack of cigarettes a day. No real exercise, no reading, and the only good meals being the ones I prepare for her.

All in all, I simply am not able to provide the kind of stability and structure she evidently needs. I hate it, too, because I feel like a failure … and, in some sense, I feel like a traitor. I spoke with her this morning and encouraged her to please call her case worker to see if there was an opening at one of the four group homes in the area. I did my dead-level best to be kind and loving, to explain why … but, of course, she was hurt.

More than this, though, our landlord, who also happens to be a lifelong friend of mine, has really been strained by some troubling tendencies anyway, such as: Throwing hot ashes in the kitchen waste-can, urinating in the bed without cleaning the mattress (at least without being told), and not doing laundry on a regular basis, which leaves an odor in her part of the house. He is a kind soul, who wants what is best for her, but…

At any rate, my friend certainly agrees with me that dear Mary will, in all likelihood, be much better off in the more stable and secure environment of a group home. This still does nothing to alleviate my sadness. Hopefully one day, maybe sooner than later, she will be able to see that this was best. I pray so … but even if she never can, even if she never forgives me, this is for the best. Period.

Right now she’s out on the back porch holding a multi-person conversation, and frequently laughing maniacally. And this comes after being up all through the night last night… Now I believe I know better than ever why good, healthy group homes with dedicated MHTs, nurses, counsellors, psychiatrists, etc. are so very necessary. And just to think, we’ve been gutting mental health funding in this country for decades! (Perhaps another article for another time…) 

Alone: We Spin Our Webs

We make our beds in which to lie,

To cover ourselves before we die,

And we spin our social web

Around this self-same bed, 

To catch some unsuspecting soul

To fill in our heart’s gaping hole,

But we consume all our victims

According to Nature’s dictums,

Or else they break entirely free

And fly to where we cannot see,

But there is perhaps a better way,

More promising to spend our day,

Walking the divinely human maze

To meet another person’s face

In which we trace our very own

From an eternity hitherto unknown


Note: Inspired by Flamingle’s post entitled, “Alone.” Thank you for the inspiration!