Short Story Excerpt: “The Woman Within”

Accepting the offered cup of coffee with a smile, Chloë began, “So, I want to tell you about this strange thing that happened to me the other day. It was an epiphany of sorts.”

Sharon smiled as she crossed her arms and leaned back against the kitchen counter. “I’ve been there a time or two with the life changing revelations. You know that.”

Chloë nodded and took a drink from the cup in her hands, the familiar bitter heat stopping just shy of scalding her tongue before she continued on.

“It was the strangest thing, Sharon. There I was, staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, this haunted look on my face. My hair was all crazy. Mascara had run down my cheeks and dried there from crying earlier that day. And I swear, as God is my witness, I did not recognize myself. All I could think is, ‘here is this woman looking at me like she really needs a hug’, and then it dawned on me. At some point, I grew up into a woman- THAT beautiful, striking, powerful woman- while on the inside I was still feeling like a worn out, awkward, beat up teenager. In the blink of an eye, Sharon, I swear, I got older without noticing. Sure, I look at myself in that bathroom mirror a million times a day, but for some reason…”

Chloë paused, sighed, and shook her head before she continued speaking.

“I’d not taken the time to actually SEE what’s there on the outside because of the inside, how bleak things seem when I cry and how everything sparkles when I smile. To me, that honesty is true beauty, and somehow without knowing, pausing, or stopping to think about it, I’d acquired that thing I’d always admired in so many others. Oh, how it scared me to see it so plainly in the bathroom mirror, staring back at ME.”

She shook her head again before chuckling, “It sounds so lame when I say it out loud.”

Smiling knowingly, Sharon nodded, “It’s just part of the process of finding the woman within the chaos and muck of everyday living, Chloë.” She glanced at her beautiful long-time friend with admiration before turning around to refill her coffee and mumbling to herself, “All part of the process.”

– excerpt from the short story “The Woman Within”

Maturity in Progress

Maturity in Progress: Poetry

There was a time within my life where judgment was my guide.
I found I spewed the bitterness I’d held onto inside.
Anger dripped from every single word I’d ever spoken.
With my writing, I could leave a person bruised and broken.
Blaming someone else for all the problems that had found me,
I closed my mind to block out the destruction all around me.

Then one day I was the one whose whole wide world had shattered.
I found myself living a lie where nothing ever mattered.
My marriage was a total sham, my friendships complete frauds,
And looking deep within myself revealed my thoughts were flawed.
Up until that point in life, I’d thought myself mature,
But then I looked at everything and was no longer sure.

I had to take control of life and make some crucial changes.
It didn’t happen overnight, it came in painful stages.
I’ve had to make apologies. I’ve tried to make amends.
I faced an awful truth in that relationships will end.
In changing I have found that there’s a greater gift within.
There’s peace in understanding what it’s like to be human.

People will always do and say the things I least expect.
Mistakes and flaws are lessons that nobody is perfect.
Sometimes I will catch myself reverting to old ways.
A darkness will wash over me that sometimes lasts for days.
Then something will remind me I’m not who I was before,
As I pick up the puzzle that I’ve scattered on the floor.

I then begin to focus on the things beyond myself,
As I put the book that was my past upon the highest shelf.
Maturity is something I am gaining as I’m growing.
Every way that I respond is something that I’m owning.
I keep going, getting better, even if it’s just a smidgeon,
Accepting folks for who they are as love provides the vision.

– a poem inspired by the prompt “Only the Brave Should Enter”, allpoetry.com

No Longer Scared Silent: Poetry

No Longer Scared Silent

It didn’t take long for me to learn

Not to speak to you out of turn

Eggshells cut into the bottoms of my feet and

I stayed silent to avoid getting beaten

I always preferred to stay out of your sight

As every encounter became a huge fight

It’s no wonder I found it easy to omit

The words you would have murdered me with

You constantly told me I was a mistake

In a way that was sure to make my heart break

Whenever you’d lose it, you’d lose it on me

Your rage was so blinding, you just couldn’t see

The reasons I could never talk to you

The reasons I could never tell the whole truth

Your pain, your feelings, your thoughts on any matter

Took precedence over my idle, childish chatter

Why didn’t I tell you sooner than that day?

What exactly would you have liked me to say?

Scared silent even though he violated my trust

Holding heavy secrets until I thought I would combust

Was it really a surprise when I couldn’t turn to you?

After all the years of misery that you had put me through

Just for the sheer audacity of being alive

You certainly didn’t give me motivation to survive

When you discovered the skeletons of his destructive plot

Weight jumped off my shoulders as I temporarily forgot

How mean you were, how much of me you hated

I didn’t even consider that I was being baited

I poured out what had happened, words flowing with relief

The more I spoke I noticed your eyes fill with disbelief

I planned to hold that secret until the day I died

Knowing you would blame me, the way I did inside

You harassed me, drilled me, made me change my story

As I looked like a liar and you both retained your glory

After that, I never could look you directly in the eye

And I refused to shed a tear for you, no matter how you tried

So many times, throughout the years, it was drilled into my head

“You’re going to miss your mother, when eventually she’s dead.”

I missed having the mother I needed as a child

Because I’m misguided now and that’s putting it mild

I owe nothing to you and everything to me

To find inside that daughter you beat down so viciously

Now I speak up about the travesties endured

For the first time in my life I feel my interests are secured

Finally I understand the power of my voice

As I write about what happened without giving you a choice

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”- Maya Angelou

“It took me a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I’m not going to be silent.”- Madeline Albright 

Fear Itself: Poetry

Fear Itself

There’s this persistent little bug inside

It goes by the name of fear

It takes my psyche on a strange little ride

Mangles the things I hold dear

Fear makes me feel like I’m not good enough

It coils around my brain

Whenever I try to pretend I am tough

I find fear defeats me again

“What are you so scared of?”, a person may ask

I wish the answer were easy

I fear the chaos of each daunting task

In a world that’s become so greedy

Fear is a natural response to danger

A normal one for most

But when it consumes me I boil with anger

As I become a ghost

I’m afraid to be hurt, I’m afraid to take chances

Fear has me frozen in place

Ceaselessly questioning casual glances

My mind giving hatred a face

Feeling the current, unprepared to fight it

Drowning in water so cold

I struggle to keep my head up to spite it

This suffering is getting so old

I’m afraid to write the truth of being afraid

Ridicule, judgement, rejection

Ignore these fears to just get things said

I’m done with the introspection

It’s always there lurking and never goes away

Sabotaging the best laid plans

My fear will not consume me today

Writing words with trembling hands

Today I write while envisioning dreams

Hope, a glimmer in the dark

I will hunt down each demon, tough as it seems

Each demon inspires a spark

This poem was inspired by Yoda. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”- Yoda, Star Wars 

A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime

“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you’ll know exactly what to do.” – Michelle Ventor 

Reason 

There was a point, in my younger days, where it would really upset me to “lose” people who I took the time to get close to. I now realize that fear is what lead me toward relying on people who were not good for me. Several of the friendships I’d obtained through the years were not healthy. They bordered on co-dependency and were based on a skewed sense of security. Tough as that was, I also had this habit of holding onto people who needed me in some way, to the point of becoming a complete doormat in the process.

Looking back, the loss of those relationships was a necessity, as they were based in toxicity, false identity, and a need to have control over everything.  I saw a reflection of myself in the people I’d befriended that I did not like or understand. Though it was a time of my life full of turmoil, constant fighting, and pain, I’ve come to find the lesson in why we became friends in the first place: to know what NOT to do.

Season 

I now understand that people go different ways in life and sometimes have to take a different path that can’t be followed. It doesn’t mean that the time we shared together making memories, or the moments where we spilled our deepest secrets was all for naught. I’ve learned a lot of valuable things from each person I let inside my heart and I hope they learned a thing or two from me. That’s the way friendship is supposed to work. True friendship will never be lost, no matter where the road leads any of us.

Some people really are just in our lives for a short period of time to touch our hearts briefly. I’ll always cherish those who have taken a few moments of their time to poke their heart into mine to make life a little brighter or more manageable.

Lifetime  

Upon reminiscing, I find that I still occasionally speak to friends from the past, though we’re not as close as we once were. I still meet my best friend from Jr. High for lunch with her horde of children once or twice a year. I catch up with one of my closest childhood friends via Facebook every few months. I hear from a few others every couple of years. Those blasts from the past remind me of more innocent times and keep me aware of the changes that life can take.

I also have friendships where we dropped contact and picked right back up, years later, practically where we left off. These friendships have grown over time and, as we’ve learned more about the world around us, they have blossomed into something wonderful. I can’t imagine not being friends with these people who empower each other and create a better, more accepting place. Although the number is few, the blessings are many.

We all have lifetime friends that we’ll never, ever give up on. They teach us about loyalty and fighting and pushing each other to be better people.

That’s what friendship means to me. 

Pilgrimage: Poetry

Pilgrimage 

There are experiences in life I wish I’d never had

Picture perfect memories both jubilant and sad

Lived the hazy chaos of both good and bad

Sometimes I see things I wish I could unsee

Sometimes I become things I wish I could un-be

I’ve learned the hard way that nothing is free

There’s a pain I feel within my jaded, hollow soul

Grief and loss have left this jagged, empty hole

The depth and width of which is out of my control

Stuff it with gauze to staunch the heavy bleeding

As personality and sanity persist on receding

A frozen smile stamped in place with the purpose of misleading

Eventually someone will mirror the fake smile

Maybe we’ll sit and talk for a while

And we’ll wear each other’s shoes for a mile

Or maybe I’ll run away anxious and scared

When for such a meeting I am caught unprepared

To let down my guard and let my scars be bared

There is no one way to eviscerate this plight

I have to desire to commit to the fight

And define some elucidation of wrong and right

To rupture the shackles of brokenness and shame

To begrudgingly accept that I’m partly to blame

There are many different ways to play this game

I stumble down the road of healing as I validate

Self confidence remains stuck on hyper vacillate

Showing up for life’s a thing I seem to abdicate

In time I’ll gaze back and take a small amount of pride

In learning what it means to no longer run and hide

As I try to modify what’s on the inside

There’s some hurdle to overcome each and every day

And the emptiness inside tries to have it’s stubborn way

I strive to do the best I can. That’s all that I can say.

Writing Woes: Poetry

Empty Inspiration

Here it is: a blank, empty page

Ready to be filled with happiness or rage

Yet it is a fruitless endeavor

Inspiration only comes to me whenever

It feels like it

Cannot be Forced 

It is quite easy to get trapped into a maze of frustration

It’s finding the balance within distracted concentration

Carving out a few moments to let the words gently guide

The emotions, experiences, and thoughts trapped inside

Ode to Crap Writing

Every writer. Everywhere. Believes their writing sucks

At least that’s what I tell myself each time that I get stuck

I backspace, I “x” out, I’ve dismissed my stuff as crap

I’ll probably start all over again, after I take a nap

Truth Serum: Poetry

Truth Serum 

I’ve been drinking and… I hear this song… it reminds me of you… and I get sad

I can feel you watching my life… from the sidelines… and I think… I’m not doing so bad

But then I think… you remember me… as much as I… remember you

And we’re in different spaces… I’m not entirely sure… what exactly to do

I believe… I receive… I realize… I empathize… we’re right where we need to be

We’re with the right people… we’re on the right path… finally I can sort of see

Why you left… why I gave up… where each of us went

It’s not something… at least not too much… something I resent

Occasionally I miss you… your egoism… your greed… your touch

But I try… oh how I desperately try… and falter… to miss you too much

I feel it was wrong… the timing… the place

How we fell deeply… oh so deeply… into each others space

I must accept what it was… I must move on… I must not hope

But hope… a dismal thing… is used when we try to cope

With not taking life… by the hands… without reproach… without demands

And I can hear you… in my ears… the brutal reprimands

Of wasting time… when we felt… when we knew

When we identified… something to fight for… something true

But instead I listen… and remember… and reflect how different it could be

If you were not you… and I was not me

Love in Motion: Poetry

Love in Motion 

I can see dark circles under my haunted blue eyes

And the dimply heaviness I carry in my thighs

Disheveled, unkempt, tangled blonde hair

A sloppy, chubby belly that should never be bared

A bottom that is large and a little too flat

Upper arms that dangle with jiggly arm fat

Yet

When he looks upon me with admiration on his face

His eyes take in every crevice, every hidden place

He smiles as he warms me with steady, patient hands

Shows me that I’m beautiful in ways I understand

He loves my long blonde hair, he adores my blue eyes

He gets frisky when he’s holding my bottom and my thighs

He lays down on my belly, says he loves how soft it is

And he enjoys my arms around him just as much as I love his

Yet

He does not validate my inner sense of worth

I’ve struggled with my image since the moment of my birth

All he does is help me see the beauty that’s inside

He takes away the barriers I create so I can hide

I’m starting to learn to love this outer shell, this skin

As I learn to love the person who resides within

The Rupture of the Mother Line and the Cost of Becoming Real

An amazing article that sums up everything I could say about what the journey has been like. Rupturing the mother line has been vital to finding the individual I am inside. But it’s not a one and done thing, it’s a process that’s taking time. Incredibly written article.

Womb Of Light

Julia Hetta

One of the hardest experiences a daughter can have in a mother/daughter relationship is seeing that your mother is unconsciously invested in your smallness. For women in this predicament, it’s truly heart-wrenching to see that, out of her own wounding, the person who gave birth to you unconsciously sees your empowerment as her own loss. Ultimately, it’s not personal but a very real tragedy of our patriarchal culture that tells women they are “less than.”

We all desire to be real, to be seen accurately, to be recognized, and to be loved for who we really are in our full authenticity. This is a human need. The truth is that the process of becoming our real selves involves being messy, big, intense, assertive and complex; the very things patriarchy portrays as unattractive in women. 

Historically, our culture has been hostile to the idea of women as true individuals.

The patriarchy portrays…

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