Where Words Go

Things I write go here

How to Not be With an Asshole

Years are lost to the tragic past of broken relationships I let be,

Where now I look back and question myself on how I let them treat me.

I’m not the same.

Confident, now, after a long time reflecting, my self worth means something.

Where before I felt I deserved the pain that came from selfish deception.

I tell myself, never again, especially as I look back at my painted pain in past writing.

I wonder at the now, beauty in my life, and how he shows me I’m worth something.

I’m lovable, kind, empathetic, and love fiercely.

My emotions run wild, they can carry me away, I feel intensely.

He can handle it, he can see me, and he can accept me.

I know better now, and can appreciate my experienced pain,

As it’s taught me how to live with me.

And how to not be with an asshole.

How not to let them try to change who I am.

How to let myself be loved for who I am,

And love, in return, someone that fits me.

The Pit

August 9, 2013. This relationship was painful, and I often wrote about the pain that came from it, because it was the only way I could express myself, the only way I could feel heard. The relationship ended in Feb 2016. I’m doing much better now!

***

There’s a pit in my stomach. A sadness that snakes into my heart and ever so slowly coils tighter and tighter,  crushing it.

It’s overwhelming. The need for relief is paramount. There’s a beer bottle on the table. I can smash it and drag the jagged edge across my pale skin. The pain isn’t much fun, but it’s satisfying.

I want to scream while I smash it. I want to make myself heard. You can’t see the pain, but you can hear me scream.

I don’t know how else to express what this is doing to me. The negativity. The nit picking fights that leave me reeling, no clue as to what I’ve done wrong, or how I’ve become the bad guy.

Giving in to keep peace is exhausting. All I want is this love that is mine  some days, and fleeting on other days. I don’t know how to be enough, so I give in.

And then this happens.

Spirit Fingers

Spirit fingers, spirit fingers,

Find another heart to bleed.

I housed my own within the chest,

Of a sailor lost to sea.

 

Wherein thy lie, I hear your cry,

And hide beneath the sheets.

Of all the homes I’ve loved the most,

This is not the one for me.

 

My visage broken, turned to dust,

I weep for those who bleed.

Spirit fingers, spirit fingers,

return my heart to me.

Gregory

Disclaimer: This short story was written around 2003, then promptly forgotten. So I’m sharing it now. Prepare for errors.

 

***

My pendent hangs from his neck like an anchor, I have to sigh at his lips and avoid his eyes. They took me in too many times before. Not this time. Not anymore. I twist away like I always do, always have, hoping he won’t watch me go, yet secretly wanting him to. Ah his beautiful eyes, grazing my hide as I retire from his embrace and leave this pain for someone else to bear.

I couldn’t take the pendent back. It had too many memories and I love it too much to keep it. It’s one of those things I want to be shared. My mother gave it to me, before she passed away. She got it from an old friend when she was 17. She was partier in those days, or so she told me. Anyway, it’s his now. Let him keep it, he’s got the rest of me anyway. And if he wants to give it away, that’s fine. Though, I kind of hope he leaves it on my pillow when he collects his things from my apartment, along with the key and a few other nick knacks I’ve given him.

Even if he doesn’t give it back, I hate to give up, but this is the last time I’ll let him do this to me. It’s been too long, and in the end, I don’t think he really loves me. Not like I’ve loved him over the years.

I turn the corner and click the button on my keychain, the one that unlocks my car. I love my car; it’s my last safe refuge. Oh there are memories of us in there too, but I’ve had the car longer than I’ve had him. I have known him longer than my car though. But that’s okay that was before, when we were friends. Those were the best times. I regret ever having taken that first step. Maybe we could be climbing in my dark green 1998 Saturn SL2 together, slide in some tunes we could sing to and take a long drive, go see a movie. Something. Anything.

God I miss him. With my hand on the handle of the door I look up to see him, and want to sigh his name. Just to taste it on my lips, to feel the way it constricts my heart and gets my blood pumping. He was always like that, even when we were friends. Wanted to make sure I got to my car okay, got to my house okay. He wanted me to be safe.

I don’t know why he did it then, if he cares so much, he would have only wanted me. I tugged in my instincts and climbed in my car, turned on the ignition and tried to breathe. Dave was singing All Along the Watchtower on a CD I left in the player. I love this version, and twist up the volume to drown out the beating of my heart. I give him one last look before driving away. Every bit of me wants to go back, take him back, make him promise he won’t do it again. But it’s too much. I can’t. I can’t let him do this to me. Mom wouldn’t approve.

She was a wonderful woman, my best friend. What hurts is we were just starting to get along before they found the lump in her breast. I hate that the last memories I have of her are her sickness. She had gotten so weak, but always held determined strength in her eyes. She wanted to live long enough to see me get married. Kiss her first grandchild on the forehead. I wanted that for her too, but he’s ruined it and now I’m alone all over again.

Sheryl Crow starts to sing her acoustic version of A Perfect Lie and I have to pull over, because I’m crying too hard to drive and don’t want to get into an accident. I want my pendent back, I want my life back. I want Gregory and his eyes, I want him to hold me and tell me everything’s going to be okay. I want to get a mammogram; I want to call my dad. I want someone. Anyone.

I look around the parking lot of the shopping complex I’ve pulled into. An old woman shuffles into the store, hunched over a cart, followed by an impatient mother with wild blonde curls and two bickering children at her heels. My eyes shoot forward where a middle aged man steps out of his car and looks at me. Mat Kearny’s I Won’t Back Down clicks to life on my CD.

Then I remember I’ve been crying and swipe at my tears and try to look like I’m doing something other than sitting there crying like a loser. He stands there a minute then walks away; I wait until he’s in the store to put my car in drive. I need to get home, call someone. Maybe April. I wish she was here, but she moved four states away six months ago. Still, her voice is always a comfort; we’ve been friends longer than me and Gregory. She knows me. She’s my stability.

Yeah, I decide. I’ll go home and call April. She’ll get me through this. I’ll get through this. Oh mom I wish you were here. I wish I could have done better for you. I will though. I’ll prove you proud, even if you’re not here to notice anymore.

I look both ways and turn right, driving away from that shopping center. I drive away from memories and pain, tears and regret. I drive away from Gregory, even though when I get home his scent will be on everything. My CD jumps to Hang by Matchbox 20, I crank it so I can sing along through gulped tears and shuddered whimpers.

My mind is working on what could have been. What it would have been like with mom still alive. What me and Gregory could be doing right now if he hadn’t slept with the bartender after her shift at the Timberland. What kind of trouble me and April would be getting into had she stayed. It’s hard not to think about what could have happened had things been different, but I’m determined to stick to my mind and move on with my life. By the time I pull into the drive way of my town house Dave has just finished singing me I Let You Down.

I’ll prove you proud, mom. I’ll make it for you.

The Sea Man’s Ballad

Disclaimer: I wrote this years ago as a section to a book I only have pieces left of. I’ll never finish this book, so I might as well share this!

***

She closed her eyes to the winds that threatened to dry what was already dry. If she had the tears to spill she would cry. If she had the strength to cry she would tilt her head back and scream for the entire world to hear, to feel her pain.

Her stomach clenched, she bent forward and gagged, clasping to her belly as if it were a lifeboat, and she were strewn in the middle of the ocean, given to the gods mercy.
Time left her with fewer choices, and within a few minutes she’d have to decide. Say goodbye to life, or love.

She opened her eyes to the angry heavens, wishing she had the tears to cry, because then maybe she could feel something, maybe then she could know she was still human, or at least a part of her was. Rain trickled from the sky, a drop splattering on her cheek and rolling down, mocking her inability to produce the water herself.

She lay down, staring at the sky that towered above her, the angry clouds that gathered. She looked to the west, where the tide was coming in, where water started to lap at her hand as if it were an obedient dog, shyly but insistently telling her it was time to get up and go inside before the storm hurled itself at them.

“Pray for me,
For I shall pass into
The waiting sea.
Sweet, sweet lass
please wait for me,
The sea shall not keep me.”

The song tasted bitter on her lips, always one of her favorites, now mocking her like the rain. She sobbed, but nothing came out. She sucked in air, but all that filled her lungs was water. She choked and coughed, spewing the water from her lungs as the tide crept from her, and sucked in more water as it covered her again. The sand clung to her, with every wave it buried her deeper and deeper within itself. It was like a warm embrace. The sand, the sand wanted her. The ocean wanted her. The rain wanted her. The next breath of air was her last, the next wave carried her away.

***

The night wrapped about his body like a cold blanket. Wide eyes stared skyward, but saw nothing. Arms hung lifeless at his sides, and he leaned back so far he nearly toppled over. Whispers touched his ears and sank into his thoughts, replacing them with visions, and for the briefest of moments, when he had a single thought to himself, he wondered what real sight was like. He wondered at the possibility of sight beyond visions. What was it about the blind man that brought spirits reeling towards him?

A song echoed in his ears, and for a moment he thought it was all in his head, one of the visions tugging at his attention. But it was a voice, a real voice, a woman’s voice. His head twisted around, shaking invading visions to pieces as he tried to discern the words from the roar of the waves. The waves! He turned towards the voice and ran, listening to his footfalls and judging distance and his surroundings by sound and smell. He tripped several times, but never fell.

He only stopped when he felt water rush over his ankles and grimaced as sand sucked at his boots. The voice was gone now, replaced with gurgling water filling a hole that once contained a human body. He rushed forward, listening, staring blindly, and waiting for a vision to wrack his body so he could figure out where that voice had gone. Nothing came, and he screamed, angry at those visions for abandoning him at such a time. He scrambled onward until his waist was surrounded and he felt like the waves would pull him away as well.

Something scraped against his legs. He paused, ears straining to hear anything other than water. When that failed him he dove, arms searching for what had brushed against him. Something that felt like silk brushed past probing fingers, hair, and then an arm, which he grabbed so he could haul the being upward while lurching backward in desperation. Waves sucked at the body he tried to pull away, wanting claim on it. He thought he heard them scream at him. “We had her first, she sings for us. Give her back. She is ours.”

He shook his head, sometimes it was hard to discern delusions from visions. A wave plunged him over, and along with him that body in his arms, and only then did he realize that he needed to pull that body’s head out of the water so the voice could breathe. He hooked arms under the woman’s arm pits and tugged her from the waves. He couldn’t see that she was blue, he couldn’t see the water pour from her mouth and nose. He heard nothing from her and realized how cold her skin was.

This made him struggle faster, and once he’d had her from the waves demanding touch, he let her fall to the ground and shook her. Water was in her lungs, he didn’t know how to get it out. So he started to push, first at her belly, then her chest. A voice whispered at his ear, telling him it was too late. He screamed, furious that a spirit would so willingly give up on him when he gave them so much of himself. He wasn’t thinking when fists clenched and pounded on the woman’s chest.

A voice yelled for him. He paused, head lifted, ears straining.

“Orin!”

“This one thing I cannot do.” He murmured, a vision wracking him.

The woman, he saw her, fit and well, air in her lungs instead of water. And the man who now applied the means appropriate to expel what wasn’t necessary, a man younger than Orin, but better versed in all things human.

He heard gurgling, coughing.

“There, she’s breathing, you got her just in time. Come to my cabin Orin, you’re soaked.”

“Uistean.”

“Aye, come on Orin, you remember the way? Good, put your hand on me shoulder if you’ve any trouble.”

***

“Pray for me,
For I shall pass into
The waiting sea.
Sweet, sweet lass
please wait for me,
The sea shall not keep me.”

The song made her stir. Death thoughts clouded reason, eyes opened, burning as she stared at the fire built just for her. She opened her mouth to speak, but all that came out was a series of coughs. Her throat clenched, burning worse than her eyes, she rolled to her belly and heaved.

A hand was on her head, pulling tangled hair from her face and settling a bowl beneath her. Once she was done expelling the contents of her stomach into the bowl, it was taken away, and she collapsed, glad for that bowl. She didn’t want to have to fall into her own mess.

Confused. She was confused. Was she dead? No. Being dead wouldn’t hurt this much. The pain of life seeped into her pours and mocked her inability to sustain her own life. She shivered; a fresh blanket was set over her. It took her a few minutes to realize she was nude under the blankets that covered her. She tried to feel embarrassed, but was more sullen by the fact that she hadn’t died as she’d intended.

“M’name’s Uistean, you’re in me cabin, it’s safe here.”

“Song.” She croaked, wincing at her voice. She’d meant to say her name, but all she could think about was that song.

“Oh? The Sea Man’s Ballad? Aye, ‘tis one of me favorites. I didn’t know you were awake to hear it.”

She wanted to open her mouth, say it was her favorite too. But then she’d be lying. Oh, it used to be a favorite of hers, but now it distressed her, new meanings were etched into the words and she couldn’t shake them loose.

“Rest, lass, no talking, I’ll take care of you, just rest.”

Something about his voice was soothing. The way his accent curved syllables, and the way he sang that song. She closed her eyes, doubting she’d be able to sleep because everything burned, everything ached, and there was hollowness in the pit of her stomach. She was still alive and she didn’t want to be. Part of her felt thankful, but her failed suicide tore at her vulnerability and sunk her like she’d meant the water to do. She drifted, too exhausted from her ordeal to do any more.

Just before she fell asleep she heard the man who she thought fished her from the sea sing The Sea Man’s Ballad, and she was glad for sleep. She didn’t want to hear that loathsome song.

It Hurts

Depression because of rejection.

A deep, abiding pain that hurts the heart

And scars the soul.

What am I supposed to do now?

Be a fighter, I guess.

But I’ve already fought for so long.

How much more fight do I have in me?

I’m not sure there’s much left to go around.

Hello

Hello, old friend. It’s been a while. There have been so many changes. So many moves in life, job changes, graduate school, and the best relationship I’ve ever had.

I look back at my old writing and remember how hurt relationships–friendships and otherwise–made me. I don’t miss that at all.

I’ve struggled a lot, and I’m proud of what I have accomplished, even though there’s much more to accomplish. I started blogging about my mental health, of course creating a new site for it. This site was always meant to be my creative blog. Where I throw up short stories, poems, even small updates to help me remember that even small accomplishments are accomplishments.

I lost two pets last year in July–15 year old Cocker Spaniel, and a 17 year old tabby cat–within four days of each other.

I spent a long time unemployed, even though I worked my ass off and got a high enough grade point average to get into an honors program for graduate school.

When I was two weeks from starting graduate school in 2016, and the day I started a new job, my ex, who had said he was going to give me until June, decided April was soon enough. I had two weeks to move out. I was homeless for nearly three months, staying with a friend until I found something affordable an hour and a half away from my job.

I left that state behind by the next year, having lost my friends and support system. My best friend slipped away from me, her relationship becoming more important. My car gave me a lot of trouble for a few years. I even got pulled over a week before I moved out of the state and ticketed for having my old address on my license, and being behind on my inspection.

There is so much more. But now I’m good. Still seeking full time work, but doing some side work that helps. I have a three year old rescue cat that gets along with my ten year old tuxedo cat, and enjoy how cute they are when they play together.

I’m loved as much as I love, and am experiencing a relationship that is real. It comes with its ups and downs, as everything does, but the downs don’t last. We love each other too much to let that happen.

I’ve blogged a lot. Mostly informative blogs. They’re a touch boring, but I’m good at it. Looking back at this site, I miss being creative. There are plenty of creative works I’ve dabbled in over the past few years, but not nearly enough.

Does that mean I’ll come back to this? Try my hand at poetry again? I’m not sure. No promises. I tend to overwhelm myself with things, and this is one thing that may fall to the back of my to do list. I may try. I may take more time to try again. In my own time, I’ll be creative, shared or not, it’s still in here, it still wants to be heard.

Run Away

Mental illness scares people away.

Medication that mimics mental conditions disperse widespread confusion. Who is this person, really? Their real self tucked behind a pill that makes them feel so lonely they want to die.

So they are left to their thoughts, fears, and loneliness, because the greatly misunderstood person doesn’t even know themselves anymore.

With no one left to fight for them, because mental illness scares people away.

Commas are a Fireable Offense

I graduated with a professional writing degree in 2006, and while I’ve had odd jobs here and there involving writing, editing and proofreading, I couldn’t land a steady writing job because of lack of professional experience. I finally found an opportunity and was hired as a blogging content associate for an adult novelties website. I put in my notice at my full time position, where I had just been promoted, for this part time position.

I was excited and proud of myself. Very proud. I’m never proud of myself. I’m an insecure, self conscious person who will always find fault with everything I do, but to get this job? I was so proud and happy. It finally happened! I knew I could do this job. In the beginning I actually considered declining the position because I know I can write better than what I’d seen on their website. I knew I would have to dumb down my writing and learn their writing style. It may have taken me years to find my own writing style but I was confident that I could set it aside to write the way they wanted me to. And this was a writing opportunity.

From the beginning, they told me they liked my writing. I started on November 10th, and was told that there was no formal training. They never trained for the position before as it was new, and all they wanted me to do was my best.

As I was filling out my paperwork I asked about time off for Christmas so I could visit my family in another state and meet my nephew. I told them if I couldn’t have the time, I would understand. But I have a cruise in February, and that I would at least need those dates. My first manager (let’s call her J) told me it should be fine. My second manager (we’ll call her A) told me they have black out dates from Black Friday to Valentines day. J again told me that hardly anyone took off the time, and that the dates I needed they weren’t especially busy on anyway.

Then I was called in to see the co owner of the company, who was very harsh and criticizing, and told me if they knew I needed these dates, they would have gone in another direction. I was begrudgingly given the dates, but it was made very clear they would not tolerate me asking for time off again well.

That didn’t make me feel good. Hello bad first impression! But they never told me about black out dates when I was interviewing and I had asked questions that should have led them to tell me about these dates. I could have told them about the dates I needed off, but I decided it was in my best interest not to.

I pushed past this little speed bump and got to work on my first assignment. A had told me to send her anything after I had finished it, and that she would look it over and let me know if anything needed changing.

Every day that week I was told I was doing a good job. At one point, A told me I was writing exactly the way they wanted me to. One of the biggest problems in the beginning was that they wanted me to show personality. Their idea of showing personality was using several exclamation points!

I was talking to some of the girls, getting to know everyone, and things seemed really great. I wasn’t worried. I was invited to a night out on the 20th and strove to become a part of the team.

November 17th I had a meeting with the other blogger and A. They were going to put up several websites and write four articles per site and needed content. I spoke up in the meeting and gave some ideas. I was then given one of the articles to write. It needed to be different from everything else I was writing but they would not give me any examples.

It was time to fly blind and do my best! And I did. It wasn’t good enough because I needed to dumb down my writing a lot. I had to write for, as they put it, ‘Very stupid people who don’t know anything’.

I was taught how to write fake five star reviews, and given the task of writing reviews for one of their products. These were quickly approved by A who also changed the dates (some back to 2013) and put up on the website. I felt a little weird about it, but it was my job, so to have a little extra fun with it I put in the first names of some of my friends as the reviewers.

On November 19th A called me in to her office and told me the writing wasn’t bad, it just needed to be extended and specifics needed to be given for really, really stupid people. Otherwise, she told me, I was doing great. She was proud of my work and I had come much further than most do in a week and a half.

A little discouraged, but over all feeling good about the positive feedback I received, I fixed it up.

On the morning on November 20th I was called into A’s office, where she took all my writing and gave it to me, marked with notes. This one was too ‘salesy’, that one needed to be rewritten. These were all writings I had been told were perfect or great, and had already formatted into their system to get ready to publish on the blog.

She also had a problem with my commas. I use a lot, I know I do. It’s something I’ve worked on for a while to try to cut down on. All writers have that thing they over do. She told me that when she gets my writing, it needs to be perfect. She shouldn’t have to fix anything at all, which was news to me. I was under the impression, because she had told me in the beginning, that it was okay to show her my work and that she would let me know what needed fixing. Being brand new, I expected more training, or to sit down with someone, but I didn’t get that.

Then she really hit home with, “You need to go home this weekend and think if this is the kind of job you can do. Talk to your boyfriend and see what he thinks. We’ll talk about it again on Monday. But really think hard about if this is a job you can do.”

Confused and feeling like I had been beaten over the head with a brick, I went over everything and fixed what needed fixing. I rewrote what she wanted rewritten which in some cases was only a sentence in an entire article. In others, it was a paragraph. But it wasn’t a lot, over all. In the grand scheme of things, it was a sentence here, a paragraph there, but never something that needed to be completely redone.

I fixed things she didn’t even tell me to fix. I rewrote paragraphs, I cut down on my commas. I changed any words that said ‘can’ to ‘will’ or another word that would make me sound more certain in my writing. I went to her with my changes on the 21st and sat down to tell her I could do the job. That I was very surprised with what she said since up to that point she told me I was doing good. I was blindsided, but capable.

She told me to keep thinking about if it was a job I could do through the weekend and that we would talk about it again Monday. She was happy I thought about what we talked about, but I needed to think about it more. By now I knew something weird was going on. I felt like I was screwed no matter what I did. The entire time I worked there it felt surreal to begin with. Now all of a sudden I was doing very bad, and I didn’t understand what, or why, or how. I was given a ton of positive feedback. I was told some of the writing was perfect! Then given that same writing to change one sentence and told it wasn’t good enough less than a week later.

I showed some friends my writing and gave them the blog to look at the writing that was already on there. I didn’t understand the ‘salesy’ comment. I had friends tell me that what I wrote read along the lines of what was in other published blogs. One said they would like to see more commas and less exclamation points. But these were things I was told explicitly to fix, so I simply made sure the flow was okay.

On Monday the 24th I tried to talk to A. She told me she would talk to me after lunch, but was in meetings most of the day and unaccessible. She ignored me for the most part.

Tuesday the 25th I walked in and was met by both of my managers, who pulled me into an office. I knew what was going to happen. They both looked terrified and extremely uncomfortable.

J told me I was really sweet and nice but it wasn’t going to work out and gave me a bunch of paperwork to fill out.

I sat in shocked silence while they watched me fill out paperwork. When I was done I handed it back over, and J asked me if I had any questions.

My question was, “Why?”

J remarked, “That’s a really good question.” Then looked over to A.

A said something along the lines of, “We can’t use your writing and you use too many commas.”

I didn’t even know what to say. A walked out of the office and J asked me to grab a time sheet to fill out and bring back to her. When I did it was just me and her and she shut the door and blathered on. “I know you had asked why. Well, you just use too many commas. And A had given you things to correct and when you handed them back there were no changes at all.”

That made me a little furious, because I worked very hard on making changes and completely rewrote enough that it was clear to me what I handed in wasn’t even read. They had made a decision on the Thursday I was called in. They had feigned giving me a chance.

After what she said, I couldn’t even say anything. I do not do well with conformation. When I’m put on the spot, I go blank. I already knew there was nothing I could do. So I handed over the paper, grabbed my purse and jacket and left. I was so numb I completely forgot to grab all of my things.

My boyfriend was the first to get a text from me. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I was embarrassed. All this time I spent trying to get a writing job, and it’s gone in two weeks. I tried to work out what went wrong. What I had done wrong. What happened? Then I opened up to close friends. I spoke to my parents who own a business, to try to get some perspective. And the more people I talked to, the more I realized I was pushed out.

One theory is they were not happy I asked for time off, and decided to get rid of me because of it. But they couldn’t fire me for that, so they had to come up with a reason.

Another theory is that they expected something out of me but never told me what it was they expected. Since I am not a mind reader and had no formal training and no one to actually guide me, I faltered and didn’t even know it.

I know it’s not my fault I lost this job. I did everything I possibly could and tried my hardest to please people who wouldn’t tell me how to please them. I now see the company for what it is: sketchy.

Above all, I remind myself over and over that I am a good writer. If there is one thing I’ve always been confident about myself in, it is that I can write. They can’t take that from me. They did a horrible thing to me, and threw me through emotional hell so I wouldn’t catch on in time.

So there’s the story of what happened to me at TooTimid / Atlantic Innovations / Three or more other names they go by. I believe they hired my replacement before they fired me, but I’ve recently found them advertising for the job again. This definitely helps me feel better, and more like they just don’t tell their employees what they want out of them.

Kick Me While I’m Down

Traffic blurs beneath fat tears,

Wind whistles through cropped hair.

Memories devour, reminding me why I’m up here.

The pain never came from your fists,

Merely from your words, meant to prick

My heart until it bled into the rest of me.

You like to remind me of how much of a failure I am.

I disappoint you, and not without effort on my part

To do everything possible not to disappoint.

It’s never good enough.

I’ll never be good enough.

Not for you or anyone, and you like to make that clear as crystal.

The leap is terrifying, but not as terrifying as the thought

Of coming home to words I don’t have the strength to hear.