nine lives.

Most days I hold it together well. Some days I set fires, I put holes in things. The storms come in and just as quickly they are gone, those days are always the days I don’t want to look at myself in the eyes. My shame stands taller than me and I let that mindset run long and deep. The visions cut through my reality like a flowing river. First, they trickle in, then they fill an area. Once the water is pooling over, why not? Why not open the damn and let it go?
Soon I’m surrounded by a raging river that would rather cut a mountain in half than ever think to climb it. Everything stuck in gravity’s pull, reaching lower points after each turn. 

I was face to face with a mountain and I took a descending path, I can surprise even myself. 

There is an art to it, avoidance, and there’s a trick to denial. 

I sought what would kill me, but I couldn’t admit it. Not ever. I would string along narratives. Connect broken pieces to resemble a whole. 

Avoidance and denial stemmed from seeds I planted many years ago in my thoughts. I tucked them away and as I was busy aging, so too were those seeds growing. 

The shame, anger, abuse, leftover childhood standoffs unfulfilled. I sought out the stage for these shadows to be showcased but I was never fulfilled being an actor of that sort. A child in an adult body. Seeing my children’s eyes on me, that woke me up but I'd stepped off the cliff, I was already gone. Forever. No coming back.

My actions, my past, my lowest point. I carried them all. Every morning I woke and I ignored all of it. 

Until it killed me.

I made it to my thirties. I had no wits about me unless I was numb, being sarcastic, feeling aggressive or feeding the fuel source for my all-powerful ego—the ego that wasn't carrying the weight, one hundred pounds, a few bucks and some change. My ego wasn't raising my children. My ego was in a neurotic loop, constantly saving face. When I hit my bottom that face shattered. Life as I knew it was over.

It’s scary at the bottom. A person could get there having burned every bridge, having severed every tie. Even scarier, a person might get there surrounded by support but still feel isolated. 

I knew one night when I was playing with my kids, that I had died.

We made up a miniature game of baseball. We play it in my front yard after I come home from work.

After two games I finally connected with the ball. The excitement was sweet. I was smelling the roses. I hit a home-run. I knew I’d died because I was in heaven.

Gradual movement. A nice forward momentum. Sometimes getting snagged on thorns. Other times, cheering with my kids, happy to finally add a mark next to my name written on my house with a blue piece of chalk. My name, touching their names, an ode to my existence. I’m here now.  

I can’t say how far away I am from the place where I shattered, felt scattered, was unsure, became isolated, was dependent, the place where I had support. The place where I died. The place where I was born. But if we have nine lives, I have seven left. 

This time I am grateful. So grateful.


symbols, synonyms and rituals.

In any given interaction, usually several, mostly all, my mind existed in the realm built on nothing other than gasoline fumes. That see through wall. Just beyond that I felt I might see what the other is doing, thinking, planning, not planning, and sometimes even beyond that, just past the scope of even pseudo-reality, what I'd like the other to be doing, thinking, planning and not planning, all of that stuff a well person disregards. The stuff a mindful person would watch bend gravity the way a dandelion petal does as it lazily follows an invisible conveyer belt, in this moment, then not. 

I also noticed the less favorable the result the more I pressed forward, in the past. And like two weeks ago. Also, last year.

I'm giving it my full attention now. I am far more interested in solitude and slow time than I've admittedly ever been.


It’s dark outside. I'm in the kitchen listening to my kids talk to their dad and their dad’s girlfriend, and that woman’s kids, on the phone. I let that sound wash over me. That sound; it feels like it belongs in a layer of one of my old pseudo-realities but it is rightfully here. It is the way things are now. It is real. It is new.

I think of where I was for all those years and where I stand now. 

An unpleasant feeling is creeping up through me, I know it. It used to be my catalyst. My catalyst to indulge, my catalyst to visit delirium, my catalyst to resist reality. To become flustered. To eventually set the fires that I used to set, create an environment where sabotage and destruction rule. Burn it all down but not before I build it up.

That feeling now, I acknowledge it and I move on. I bee line it to the bathroom. Turn the shower on as hot as I can make it and I send my kids to bed. I stand there letting water burn my hands and my arms, my toes. I think fuck it and I step in and I let the water bring me back. To right now, or right then.

Soon my mind is orbiting away from that feeling. I am aware that I exist, here and now, there and then. I will exist tomorrow, with patience, tomorrow will come. One day at a time, I will continue to exist, so I let the uneasy feelings run through my blonde hair. They touch my neck, and fall over the soft edge of my shoulders, stream down my lean arms. They build up and then drip off my fingertips and ride down my legs, circle the drain and head earthward.

I am present again. I kiss my dreaming kids and proceed to join in that after-dark ritual. One more day down.


magic on a Thursday.

Thursday morning before school we went to a coffee shop for breakfast. We sit upstairs there. My kids use the time to look at screens just like most of the adults do below. I use the time to look at them. I like seeing them take the big steps, turn the corner and scale the second set. I like seeing them hang their jackets on a chair back, climb up, have a conversation with each other about the wi-fi password. I love being their mom. I've never loved anything more.

I walk down to grab some water. A cute barista is toasting a marshmallow for each saucer of the kids' cocoa. Her excitement started this. The magic.

The small torch, a hot flame—a shift in some usually meaningless experience, opening the door between ordinary and magic. A toasted marshmallow.
A hot summer afternoon, myself as a kid, laying on the front lawn. Waiting for anything to happen. A car drives by blasting good music. Simple, but it’s something. A connection. I watch the car until it's out of site and then I go back to the quiet that makes me notice I'm alive, I do exist.

We wait.
I watch my kids, sometimes they look up to see me looking at them and I smile. I smile so hard. They smile back. We hear my name.

The girls help me bring plates of toast and cocoa upstairs. Hannah gets the easy job. She picks up two plates of toast and cruises up the stairs. 

The barista, Ada and I each carry a cocoa and I grab the other two plates. 

I ascend the stairs two at a time and turn the corner. A college aged boy is holding back a laugh and I follow his gaze.

Hannah is wiping the floor with her jacket. It's not even her jacket, she borrowed it from Ada. The floor is now lightly dusted with cinnamon and sugar. There is a freshly buffed spot in the middle, butter.

She sees me and quickly hangs the jacket up on her chair back. She knows I’ve seen and now she waits. She stares at me and waits. I can't tell if she is nervous or proud. 

She watches me, seeing if I put the clues of this mystery together. The toast in Ada’s place looks different from the rest. 

You can use napkins for things like that, you know that right? 
She smiles. I know.  

I trade Ada's plate with mine. And I don't care that I'm eating floor toast because I love Hannah and I love that she would use a jacket to clean the floor. I love that she is seven. I love that she tried. I love that she is clever and silly and weird. I love being her mom even when it's hard because we don't always see eye to eye. She is growing and that means she doesn't tuck herself under my wing as much anymore. She is learning to fly. She is cleaning up after her mistakes, with a jacket that she borrowed from her sister and I would not change a thing about that. Ever.

The magic wasn't the barista's excitement, it wasn't the toasted marshmallow. It was Hannah. A child, in the wild. My child. My magic girl with her sweet smile and sparkling eyes wearing a cinnamon sugar jacket.