Last week I published a raw home-movie of my past year leading up to my divorce. I have been in this whirlwind of praise and progress and fighting my inner-dialogue that is often focusing on those who cast stones. I could get lost playing out the cringes, laughs and feigned gag gestures. Instead, I’m going to get lost in the absolute wonder of the unexpected. I knew I’d survive. I knew I’d put those I love first and that my children would be informed. They’d feel respected and showered with supportive love and presence in this transition. I committed to that.
At best, I thought I’d get back on my feet. I’d make some new friends and put one foot in front of the other. It’s what I do. What I was never prepared for (and still can’t quite comprehend.) is that anyone (Not just a friend trying to encourage me!) would be touched or inspired. If I were contrived or creating pretty word for puffery and stories I can deal with that. I often think through story plots, audience reception and conveying a point. I can accept the praise for such writing and feel secure in knowing I created something or worked at it, made blank pages into an experience.
To soul-bare is entirely different. To throw all of it at the screen, paper and into the ether fearlessly was merely an act of self-sustaining. It’s a small rebellion against all notions of “what should be” vs “what I am.” To have my true feelings resonate and compel people to send beautiful letters and stories and love, that I was not ready for. I didn’t make this. I just am. It all feels foreign and surreal.
I didn’t act in bravery. In fact, I was selfish, lost, bargaining with grief, self-esteem and loss. I lied…to myself, to everyone, and then I stopped lying all together. A bit of a polar flip. I also stood in it, maybe I even took on more than I should have? At this level of self-effacement, what are degrees of shame or blame? These words, are not my best work, they are not even “work. ” They fall out of my fingers like my hair in such stress.
They just are. And I am reeling in the beauty and fear of knowing that all criticisms and judgments usually come from the owner and I, the catalyst, brought it out to surface. So to be fair, Shouldn’t this be my belief with praise? I’m more touched to see so many people find permission and acceptance to let their own strength, truth and self-love bubble up. It is not mine that touches them; it is their own souls feeling heard in my story. It’s overwhelming, and I am beyond gratitude, I am compelled to find a better more revered word to encapsulate how blessed I feel.
I’m still nobody to most. I’m not changing the world and I know how fleeting all things are, so I pause to push myself to just be in it. It will most likely be gone tomorrow or in a month, but today I am inspired. Charles Bukowski was raw, off-putting, lowbrow and in your face. I used to loathe his work. Now, I see his genius is in owning himself. Owning all of it. I hope to stay that honest. To not get beat down by the discomfort of others and to never stop trying. Truth makes me want to be better, kinder, and more flexible. If I never hear another positive word of encouragement, this past week has filled me up. It’s pure and it is petrifying, but I’m going to return it’s power back out to universe, or die trying.
Oh, and lastly take this grammar gods. Some times, not often, but sometimes content outshines the rules.
“An Almost Made Up Poem.”
by Charles Bukowski
I see you drinking at a fountain with tiny
blue hands, no, your hands are not tiny
they are small, and the fountain is in France
where you wrote me that last letter and
I answered and never heard from you again.
you used to write insane poems about
ANGELS AND GOD, all in upper case, and you
knew famous artists and most of them
were your lovers, and I wrote back, it’ all right,
go ahead, enter their lives, I’ not jealous
because we’ never met. we got close once in
New Orleans, one half block, but never met, never
touched. so you went with the famous and wrote
about the famous, and, of course, what you found out
is that the famous are worried about
their fame — not the beautiful young girl in bed
with them, who gives them that, and then awakens
in the morning to write upper case poems about
ANGELS AND GOD. we know God is dead, they’ told
us, but listening to you I wasn’ sure. maybe
it was the upper case. you were one of the
best female poets and I told the publishers,
editors, ” her, print her, she’ mad but she’
magic. there’ no lie in her fire.” I loved you
like a man loves a woman he never touches,
only writes to, keeps little photographs of. I would have
loved you more if I had sat in a small room rolling a
cigarette and listened to you piss in the bathroom,
but that didn’ happen. your letters got sadder.
your lovers betrayed you. kid, I wrote back, all
lovers betray. it didn’ help. you said
you had a crying bench and it was by a bridge and
the bridge was over a river and you sat on the crying
bench every night and wept for the lovers who had
hurt and forgotten you. I wrote back but never
heard again. a friend wrote me of your suicide
3 or 4 months after it happened. if I had met you
I would probably have been unfair to you or you
to me. it was best like this.
“Shimmer with a smile. Life is hard, bloom anyway.”
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