Cafe de Desiree

July 11, 2017

The Wanderers’ Home

My boots are tied tightly, and my hair is pulled back,

I’m ready to attack with my yellow day pack,

Nature is unwilling to let me in without a fight,

Spider webs, ticks, and honeybees give me a fright,

Roots hidden by mounds of dirt and rock unsteady me,

Then, suddenly, my route is halted by a fallen tree,

I carefully climb over the conifer and march on, alone,

I find a broken limb to slash through brush overgrown,

I begin to climb the steep hill so I can finally stop,

I know not what I’ll discover once I reach the top,

I am stronger and braver from this expedition,

But I am ready for my desire to come to fruition,

When I reach the top, my lungs begin to tighten,

My eyes water as the Sun, she sparkles and brightens,

And my eyes are met with the vastest, bluest skies,

His eyes, like the sky, penetrate my soul, those soft blue eyes,

I stand on the highest cliff and surrender to the heavens,

Like the endless sky, he wraps me in his loving presence,

SAM_0115

In this moment, I must decide to plunge into the unknown,

Or I can turn around and make my way back home, alone,

So I undress until I am vulnerable to the world around me,

and with my body tensing and my heart fluttering, I’m free,

I plunge into the unknown, and I am numb but euphoric,

I make my out of the woods, now, but no longer alone,

Now and forever those soft blue eyes will be known,

as the eyes that saw into my wanderer’s soul,

and knew that home will only be where, together, we go

 

waterfall

Love explained by an avid hiker…I am excited to take the plunge soon with my fellow wanderer. I said yes:)

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June 15, 2017

Father’s Day: Remembering

Filed under: family,grief — desi83 @ 7:02 am
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It’s not Father’s Day yet, but Facebook posts and television ads are already celebrating it. Every year that I’ve been able, I’ve taken my dad to lunch to his favorite restaurant for Father’s Day. For the past few years, it’s been Blue Cactus. He ordered the Mexican Summer Salmon every time. My dad was a creature of habit. He also didn’t like a lot of noise or crowds, being the introvert that he was. So, it was a nice, quiet place that served a consistently good meal. I always drove when we went anywhere, and I’m not sure how or when that started. I guess it has been ever since he moved back to Tennessee. He lost his job in Chicago, and it was a mixture of a disappointment and a relief for my dad. He was a functioning, lonely alcoholic out there. He had friends at work, but he had no one in his personal life. When he came home, he had me as well as his siblings and his mom. He quit drinking after a long battle and got a job as a janitor at a warehouse. It was easy work aside from having to walk all over the enormous warehouse. He gained a lot of weight when he first moved in with me because he drank so much and didn’t move except when he absolutely had to. When he quit drinking, he started learning how to cook some pretty impressive (and healthy) meals. Between the healthy meals and the walking, he shed 60 pounds. Yet, all the sudden he seemed so much older, weaker, and tired. He complained about his ankles being swollen. I didn’t know at the time that it was a sign of heart disease. I kept nagging him to get a check-up because I did have a feeling that something might be wrong, but he never went until it was too late.

Last Father’s Day, Dad and I went to Blue Cactus, and he ordered his Mexican Summer Salmon. We went to the park afterward, because hiking is something that we used to do together. I knew he wasn’t in the shape for hiking, but I thought a walk in the park would be possible. He was out of breath after we walked less than a quarter of a mile. I struggled to walk slowly enough to match his pace as it was. He assured me that he was fine, that he was just worn out from work. He said that he needed to try the early shift instead of the evening. This was the man who hiked the trail in Maui with me, which included hiking through creeks, swing bridges, and pathways only as wide as one shoe. We hiked Fiery Gizzard, one of the most difficult trails in Tennessee, and we hiked the Smokey Mountains together. He did those hikes with a cigarette in his mouth the whole time, and he didn’t have to stop to catch his breath. Years later, my dad was dying, and I didn’t know it.

We went to Blue Cactus a month before he went to the hospital. He ordered the gumbo because he said that his stomach had been bothering him. He didn’t have much of an appetite. He bought new shoes in hopes that his knees and feet wouldn’t be so sore. Maybe his ankles would stop swelling. I was so busy with my new job that I only talked to him every two or three weeks in the months leading up to his death. I have so many regrets. But I also have wonderful memories of him.

I loved my dad with all of my heart, and the day that he passed, my heart was broken. It was a feeling that I had never experienced. No broken relationship or rejection could remotely compare to that heart break. Regret, anger, blame, and grief all worked together to crush my heart when I lost him. I have been trying to get past all of that since December 30th, and I try to focus on the good memories. My dad loved me, and he always made time for me, even when he worked hundreds of miles away. We traveled together, hiked, cooked, and spent time with his family. He always asked about me and told me that he was proud of me. He was very honest with me, sometimes to a fault. Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but it was meaningful and I’m glad that I was there for him at the end. He was a good man who worked hard and loved his family. He was always generous to everyone around him. He was definitely there for me anytime that I needed him, and I hope that I was there for him enough.  I will miss him on this first Father’s Day without him. I already made it through his first birthday since his passing. I hope that these events will get easier with time. Until then, I can remember the good times that we shared.

March 11, 2017

Shaken, not Stirred

Filed under: love,poetry — desi83 @ 8:22 am
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I walked in, and you caught my eye

sitting with that far-away stare

until you smiled with hungry eyes

this is how we began this affair

—————————-

We walked hand-in-hand in the quiet

then suddenly I was in your arms

being swept away and consumed by it

You enslaved me with your wicked charms

———————————–

We explored every inch of one another

and I was left scorched by the fire we created

because, I guess, in the heat, you began to smother

so my tears poured out and the fire quickly abated

———————————————

Years passed by and you swung in and out of my life

One drunken night, you uttered the L word

that stabbed my heart because I thought it was a lie

but the vital truth, your fragile ego cannot afford

———————————————-

Years later, you finally tell me that you want me

as your forever and as a means to your paradise

I am shaken, but I am not stirred to concede

This moment marks our twisted love’s demise

February 27, 2017

Today I Threw a Spoon at my Toaster

Filed under: depression,grief,love — desi83 @ 4:46 am
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It’s a strange feeling, to feel so distant from everyone and everything around me. I do what I need to in order to get by. I wouldn’t call this sadness or anger. I don’t know what it is. Apathy? No, not quite, because I’m constantly worried. I want to feel those normal human feelings. Today I threw a spoon at my toaster. It hasn’t been working right lately; it’s ten years old. My boyfriend stood there looking very concerned, rightly so. “What can I do?” “Let me help you,” he insisted. He’s beyond wonderful to me, and he’s understandably worried about my behavior lately. Truthfully, I threw the damn spoon because I wanted to feel something. I wanted to feel anger. The opportunity presented itself, and it felt exhilarating. Then, I felt stupid.

Truthfully, I do still feel something when I’m with him. I love him so much, and he has been my rock through this episode that I’m having. Every time he hugs me, kisses me, or holds my hand, I feel a connection. It’s a little tug into the world, outside of these walls that I’ve been stuck behind. Then there’s my mom. When I’m having a melt-down, I can call her and know that she will calm me down. She knows just what to say. It wasn’t always like that. She used to get angry with me, and maybe it’s because it used to happen more often when I was younger. Maybe she understands me better now. I haven’t been able to completely come back into the world, though, and I’m not sure what the answer is…a healthy diet, sleep, and the will to just keep going through the motions as I just give myself time, I guess is the way. When it comes down to it, right now I just want to crawl under the covers and not get up until this passes. I know that I can’t though. So, sometimes I’ll have to throw a spoon, or I’ll have to kiss my boyfriend in the middle of a crowded room, or I’ll drink too much and laugh too loudly in public.

This might be grief. It might be depression, or anxiety, or all three rolled into one messy package that I didn’t ask for. I just hope that soon I can knock down these walls, or there might be no one left for me outside of them.

February 4, 2017

Cabernet…My Attempt at a Love Poem

Filed under: food,poetry,Uncategorized — desi83 @ 6:40 am
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Cabernet

Dark and heavy, waiting and ready,

You flow smoothly down my hollow throat;

You take your time and go down easy,

After a long day, you serve as my moat;

 

Reeling with anger, I’m steadied by you,

My body untenses and gives into your spell,

My pen is on paper with you serving as my muse

My demons’ screams you have managed to quell;

 

I want you as soon as I lay my hands on you,

but they say that I should give you time to breathe,

So I impatiently wait to savor every drop of you,

The anticipation and desire inside of me seethes;

 

The first sip is divinely intoxicating,

The first glass is impossibly invigorating,

The second glass sends my heart and body melting,

and the bottle leaves me satisfied yet wanting;

 

That which is most desirable is worth the wait,

Although there are times when I grieve our loss of time,

I suppose there were events that led up to our fate,

My Cabernet, our connection is simply sublime!

January 5, 2017

An Honest Eulogy for my Dad

Filed under: death,family,life — desi83 @ 6:14 am
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I cleaned out my dad’s apartment with the help of my mom, stepdad, and my boyfriend. His whole life was thrown into the back of a pick up truck: boxes of clothes, cds, thrift store furniture, his mom’s old dishes, bags of food that he just bought three days beforehand, and a box of photographs. We hauled almost everything to the Goodwill, besides the photographs and a few sentimental items. My dad is supposed to be cremated tomorrow. That is what he wanted, and that is what I would choose as well. It seems like the cleanest way. Also, I’ve already seen his lifeless body, and I really don’t want to see it sitting in a box. My dad is going to be burned into ashes, and those ashes, 7-8 pounds of bone matter, are going to be in a fancy urn that I bought from Amazon. I don’t have a grave stone for him, but I ordered a little engraved plate to stick on the fancy urn that reads his name and “Loving Father and brother” and his birth-death dates.

I chose a wooden box with prayer hands, not because I am particularly religious ( I am not; I refused the priest at the hospital because those trite words “He’s gone to a better place” are not reassuring to me). I chose the prayer hands because there is something peaceful about them, and because my daddy’s hands stick in my mind as a symbol of him that I’ve known my whole life. I rubbed lotion on those rough, dry, scarred hands in the hospital as he lay dying, hoping that his condition would turn around. I held one of those rough hands, and my mostly unemotional/unaffectionate dad squeezed my hand in silence while he stared at the ceiling from the hospital bed. Please know, I NEVER doubted his love. He was not a sap, but he very much showed me and told me in his own way. He was always there for me, and God I am glad that I can say that I was there for him to the bitter end. His hands were a symbol of who he was as a person. He’s a bit rough round the edges, and he’s a bit scarred. He’s worked hard his whole life, and “gloves are for ladies”. But as he squeezed my hand, I was reminded of his strength, and my hand felt small inside of his. It reminded me of everything he’s done for me, in spite of the alcoholism and the many hours that he was away at work in another state.

My daddy fought addiction, and I spent two years of my life helping him conquer it. He lived with me after he lost his job of 30 years that nearly broke him. It was a blessing, in a way, that he lost that job. I yelled at him, threw things at him, and threatened to kick him out (empty threat, of course). I poured his liquor down the drain and gave his beer to some friends of mine. Mom could walk away from him because he’s not her blood, and he wouldn’t let the bottle go for her, and I don’t blame her one bit. But I couldn’t walk way from the man who held me as a baby, the man who used to take me to the movies to see Disney cartoons and horror films (yes, both), the man who took me to karate lessons and fried eggs and bologna for me in the morning, the man whose lap I would curl up in when I grew sleepy, the man who drove 5 hours once a month to see me when he worked in Georgia or who flew from Chicago every quarter to see me, the man who took me on vacation wherever I chose in the US every summer until he lost his job, the man who had 12 pictures of me hanging in his apartment, all of different stages of my life. It’s true that I am closer to my mom, but I felt a kind of responsibility to my dad. He gave me life, and he did the best he could while fighting a nasty, stubborn demon. We fought that demon together though, and we won. Those weren’t the only demons, unfortunately.

My dad found out that he had congestive heart disease in December. He died on December 30th. It’s almost a blur, it happened so quickly. He called me on a Saturday morning, and I didn’t answer the phone. I was at my apartment, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. Already, mom had called. “I can’t handle two parent calls before coffee,” I said. I listened to his message after I drank my coffee. “Desiree, this is your dad,” it began. It was how he always began his messages, so I figured it was just an ordinary call to see how I was doing. “I’m in the hospital at St Thomas. Call me back as soon as you can,” he said. His voice sounded weak. It was the phone call that I had been fearing. He lives alone in an apartment an hour away from me. I moved for my job, and he’s one of the reasons I was hesitant to do that. My boyfriend, who often stays with me on the weekends, and I jumped in our cars and headed to the hospital after I got in touch with him. “I’m having heart problems,” Dad told me. Now, three of his brothers have heart problems, so I thought, well here we go, but  I thought we’d have years to cope with it. He told me that he’d thought that he had pneumonia, but then his whole body swelled up. He drove himself to the hospital because he couldn’t figure out how to work the new smart phone I had given him (my dad is a smart man, but he is not technologically inclined). He smoked his last cigarette ever in the hospital parking lot, and he walked in to meet his fate.

He was in the hospital for 16 days. He had no insurance, but he was an army vet, so we were able to transfer him to the VA for the last week. My best friend and I went to his apartment and cleaned it, including throwing away all cigarette paraphernalia. He was given 8 pills to take every day that I meticulously halved and/or sorted into a weekly pill box. He was put on a low sodium diet, and we spent two and a half hours reading labels and searching for edible but healthy meals. He could barely walk through the parking lot without getting out of breath, so he rode in one of those motorized scooters that I’m pretty sure we’ve made fun of at some point. I made him some chicken, and I explained to him how I cooked it and seasoned it. I helped him figure out how to use his defibrillator vest, and I made sure his phone was charging and that the ringer was on. He did everything right. He ate his sodium free diet, and he quit smoking. He killed that second demon, but congestive heart failure is a demon that can’t be fought sometimes. His heart was too badly damaged. I felt my own heart break inside of my chest as I fought with doctors to tell me what was going on. I know why they call it heart break now, because that is exactly how the pain feels. It has helped to talk with other people who knew him. Some of his relatives have been to the hospital a few times, and they are sharing in my loss, and I spoke with his work supervisor of the maintenance job he’d found right after he became sober. “He’s a good man. He’d do anything for anyone who asked. We miss him here,” the man told me.

My boyfriend and I visited my dad the last day of his life. I introduced Dan to him, and Dan helped him with his car. It was left at the original hospital where he was taken, so it hadn’t been driven for 16 days. Dan and I bought a jumper cable box for him so that if he continued to have trouble starting his car, that would get him through until he got a new car. We had planned to go car shopping next weekend. I also brought him a scale because he was supposed to weigh himself daily. He weighed 157 lbs, and he had weighed 180 lbs in November. I also took his bag of $50 in change so that I could cash it in for him. He left his car running so that it would charge, and he was going upstairs to get his laundry bag. I wanted to help him, but I had to see what he could do on his own before I went back to my own apartment an hour away. I stayed in town through the whole month of December to assist him, and I was on winter break from teaching anyway. Dad thanked Dan for helping him, and he smiled at both of us. “Are you feeling alright, Dad?” I asked. He laughed. “What do you think? Nah, it’s okay. I’m doing what I can, but the doctor said I could drop dead at any point. Not much I can do about that,” he said, still smiling. I told him not to talk like that, and I told him that I loved him. I think I did. I hope I did.

I got a call from the defibrillator company later that day that his heart had stopped. They asked me to go check on him. I still don’t know why they didn’t call an ambulance, but apparently that’s not how it works. My boyfriend drove me to his apartment. His car was still running, and his apartment door was open. I felt numb and panicked, so I ran up the stairs to see what was going on. He was laying there with the dining chair collapsed beside him. His eyes and mouth were wide open. I screamed and wailed, and my boyfriend held me. He went to check his pulse and to see if he was breathing. I touched his forehead, and he was cold. “What do I do, what do I do? He’s dead!” I yelled. “Call 911,” my boyfriend sensibly replied. Oh my Jesus, he is wonderful in a crisis. The operator told me to do chest compressions, and Dan heard her so he began doing them. It was too late though. The ambulance still took him to the hospital and reassured me that they’d do what they could to save him. I knew he was gone, but that gave me a twinge of hope. Dan and I went to the hospital, and we waited in line in the emergency room behind this elderly lady who spent what seemed hours talking to the nurse on desk duty. Finally, a nurse came out and led us to a small room with two couches and a television on mute on the wall, as well as a bouquet of flowers sitting on a small white table. The waiting was killing me. “I just want to know for sure. I need the doctor to get in here and just get it over with,” I said. I saw my dad once more at the funeral home, his eyes and mouth were closed, so he appeared to be sleeping.

I try not to think of the images of him after he died. I concentrate on that last moment that I had with him, and he smiled a big smile at me. He seemed so much at peace that day that I wonder if he knew that he wasn’t going to live much longer. It was traumatic and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but in a way I am relieved that I was the one who found him. I was there for him until the bitter end. More than that, I am so grateful that I came to see him right before he passed. I saw him happy, and he was grateful to me, as I was to him for being the best dad that he could be.

Dad was more than his demons. He was an army vet, a traveler, a hiker, a fisherman, a bowler, a football fan, a western film fan, a brother, a father, a son, and a hard worker, a helpful man who would loan neighbors and co-workers anything that he could give: be it a ride, a cigarette, or 20 bucks. He hated commercials on television and standing in line. He thought Beavis and Butthead were funny, and he didn’t vote because they’re all crooks. He said he didn’t like dogs, but he often cuddled with my dog while he lived with me, and I even heard him talking to the dog a few times. He liked cooking at home and listening to 90s music thanks to me. He never missed an episode of Bonanza on television even though he’s seen every episode five times already. He was a simple man, but there was more to him than meets the eye. He will be missed, and this world was a better place for having him in it.

November 22, 2016

Stillness

Filed under: hiking,life,spirituality — desi83 @ 5:04 am
Tags:

Life is full of noise and chaos, and even when I have the opportunity to escape it, my mind plays a recorded loop of noise and chaos. We all do it. We stare at our phones, checking Facebook or Twitter only to stress ourselves out or be entertained by mindless click bait posts. We take selfies so that we might receive validation online. We binge watch shows on Netflix until we fall asleep on the couch. Even dating has evaporated into “Netflix and chill” instead of dinner and a movie for most young people. My job is a constant flow of chaos wherein I have to make quick decisions and improvisations depending on how my young students are behaving or responding at that moment. Sometimes I can go by my script, but it’s counterproductive to continue the script when it’s clearly not working. I’m exhausted at the end of the day, even though I enjoy what I do, it is taxing.

I run and lift weights when I need to escape the chaos and the noise loop. I play music on my headphones to block it out. It works temporarily, and it does clear my mind and rejuvinate me. Yet, when I try to just be still, I can’t. I can’t resist looking at Facebook or reading the news, or turning on the television. When I do attempt meditation, my mind is enveloped in chaos, and I begin fixating on a issue with my job or with my relationship (and even when there isn’t an issue, I create one in my mind sometimes).

I have questioned my spiritual beliefs ever since I was a child when I attended a church, and the youth pastor asked me where people go when they are lost. “The police?” I asked. Everyone laughed. “Hell,” he said, “lost people go to Hell.” Hellfire and brimstone continued to be preached to me at various churches. Later I discovered Unity church, which had a more positive and metaphysical approach to Christianity. I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of God. I still can’t. I decided to study Buddhism, and I even attended a few Buddhist meditations. This belief system resonates with me more than Christianity ever did.

I think it is important that people find a spiritual practice to get away from the noise and chaos of life, and to realize that we are so insignificant in the universe, so our problems are definitely not world-ending problems. I struggle with practicing because I am so busy and because I haven’t figured out how to quiet my mind in the stillness. The closest I have gotten lately is hiking. When I am in nature, I feel like I am with God, or at least a spiritual presence that I can’t define. Nature is my sanctuary. Yet, I can’t escape to the mountains in every day life.

In the evenings, I hope to begin the habit of meditating, even if it’s only for five minutes the first few times that I try it. I challenge you, reader, to try it with me. Unplug from your phone, tv, and computer for 5-10 quiet minutes. Go to a peaceful place in your mind, and get lost there for a time. Then, just stay in the stillness until the chaotic noise loop takes over again. The stillness makes the chaos easier to manage. The world will not end if you escape for a moment.

waterfall

May 22, 2016

House on Fire

Filed under: poetry,relationships — desi83 @ 8:34 am
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Inspired by a night of listening to a lot of Damien Rice and thinking way too much…

House on Fire

The memories of you are woven into my skin,

and they seep into my veins and mix with my blood.

No matter how many decades it has been,

I have moments when they rush in like a flood

into my brain, and they reopen the wounds of my heart.

I can feel your breath in my ear and your hand gripping mine

like a fucking ghost that knows the worst moments to start.

You haunt me in my darkest moments just to remind,

remind me of what we both left behind.

I can still taste your kiss that was snuck in the stairwell

I can still feel your embrace as we waited for the bell

I remember every word we exchanged when we met

and how time stopped for us as others roamed

during that first day when we knew our fate was set.

Somehow our hearts knew that we were home

But I slowly destroyed that home with my fear

I slowly burned down the house that we built

and you kept trying to put out the fire,

but eventually what overtook it was my guilt ,

and you were powerless against what you didn’t know.

But I kept our photographs, and I remember home,

You made a new home with someone new

and through our ruins I continue to roam.

March 1, 2016

Home

Filed under: angst,career,dreams,life,Uncategorized — desi83 @ 12:18 am
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I may be rusty today. I have only been writing case studies, web content(for my 2nd job), lesson plans, and poetry for kindergarten students since October. I haven’t had time to breathe, much less write creatively. I don’t know why I stopped journaling (that’s not a word, SpellCheck? Hmmph). I have been reading a book that seems to never end…IQ84 by Haraku Murakami. Did I spell that right? I’ll look it up later. I wish I had more time to devote to it so that it wouldn’t take months to read. It’s funny though, because there is so much parallelism that I can’t forget what happened earlier in the book. Thank you, Murakami, for making that easy for me.

I would say that I am tired, but I don’t think that is the right word. I am on a journey, again, and God I hope I end up where I want to be next fall. I am teaching at this private school. I enjoy it for the most part, but the pay is not enough for my bills. I am looking at public schools, and the thought keeps recurring to me-I need out of here. I am going to apply to the Florida school system. It could be for a year, or a few years, who knows. I just really want to start over. I’ve felt for years that I am stuck. This year it felt more like I am preparing for something. I am about to finish my graduate program at Vanderbilt. I can’t believe I am even uttering those words. It was a fluke that happened because I am at this low budget private school (I love my kids, and the administration, just so you know). I was blessed to be given a grant to go there to earn my ESL certification. In other words, my resume will be much more attractive to schools this time around.

I feel like Holly Golightly-I haven’t unpacked everything because this isn’t home, this crappy one bedroom apartment on the rough side of town. I am ready to get to where I am supposed to go. I love so many people in my life, but I am ready to find new connections in a new place with a new job. And damn it, I want to have time to write. I want to only have one job! I want to be content, but not too content…more content than I am now, that is for sure.

I want to love what I do. I want to be in love, I want to be home. I want to feel like I’ve mostly gotten there, wherever there is.

October 30, 2015

Poetry Lately

Filed under: life,poetry — desi83 @ 4:19 am
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These are a couple of poems that I wrote this past year. My life has been hectic and somewhat devoid of internet use. However, I realize how much I need this, so I’m making time tonight. Writing is my therapy:)

Something about you (I imagine it as a song performed by a female jazz singer circa 1950s. The words just popped in my head several months ago).

I stumble when you’re walking toward me baby

because when you stand next to me you shame me

And I forget how to act like a lady

Something about you, it makes me cry

Something about you, it makes me lie

Something about you; I just can’t say goodbye.

You spin me close, then you spin me away

Are you my tragic ending?

Or an exciting new beginning?

I guess these pages, I’ll keep turning

And with each page my gut keeps churning

I’m Afraid (I found this one unfinished, and I’m still not sure I’m done with it. I think we all get like this sometimes).

Praying to a God that I can’t define

I question myself, life, reality,

What is it that’s mine? This calamity?

I’ve been drowning in my own destruction

grabbing onto the debris of shallow connections

I’m crashing myself into walls that I’ve made

and cursing them for standing in my way

I am afraid that all of this fighting is in vain

I latch onto anything that brings me pain

and I run from anything that might bring peace

Because I am afraid that it’ll eventually decease.

I keep holding onto all that brings me pain

while I run from what could make me sane

Because I’m afraid that it might eventually decease

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