Divided

Siblings and Complex PTSD

I cannot describe
how deep
the wound goes.

When I lost my
brother – he was
only seven and
I was only three.

After that
we shared
the same house.

We fought
and shunned
one another.

Neither one aware
of the poison
that forced us apart.

Quiet Grace

poetry Quiet Grace

Grace walks a tip toe, and
is by nature a quiet soul, not
inclined to boastful words.

Grace speaks loudest
where no words are found,
in the embrace,
in comfort given,
in peace and even, yes,
in defense of the vulnerable.

Grace is gentle,
but never mistake
that for weakness.

Because it is only grace
that dares to walk the path
which can save us from ourselves.

The Power of the Eight

Cover_Review_PowerOfTheEight

The Power of the Eight by Suzanne Rho is one of those books that improves after the fact. If that sounds like I am damning it with faint praise – hold on – I’m not.

As I initially read the story I found it enjoyable. It’s the kind of read I like to take along with me on a lazy afternoon where I have nothing else to do.

It’s the type of story I would classify as “pastime reading”. Not too heavy, moves along well, all good things.

Now here’s where things get interesting.

As I started to write this review I spent some time reviewing the story and my reaction to it. And out of a pleasant afternoon’s diversion emerged this facet I hadn’t registered on my first read through. It’s not just a fantasy with magic and adventure and True Love, it also contains a message.

The story at its core is one of longing to belong.

The protagonist is a young woman in a remote Scottish town. In chronic pain, with a generous helping of anxiety and a past of abandonment she manages her way through life. Her life is one of grey monotony. The endless rounds of doctor appointments, trips to the therapist, chronic physical pain and frustration define her life.

It was the idea that the story held a person with a chronic illness at the center that initially caught my interest. Usually most heroes are able bodied and relatively sound of mind.

Indeed, we meet Ren (aka Renee) in her psychiatrist’s office. Our first glimpse of Ren is of a young woman dealing not only with perpetual anxiety, but also persistent physical pain.

She manages both with a sharp self-deprecating wit and pure grit. Ren is not one to wallow in self-pity or use her physical challenges as a free-pass. It is wonderful to see the myth of the helpless chronically ill person smashed. In her portrayal of Ren, Ms. Roh captures a very realistic look at the life of the chronically ill. Ren exhibits the power of most of the challenged to elevate the skills of day-to-day life to a level which the healthy might never perceive.

There is one aspect of this trope that didn’t get smashed. Pity that. I was a bit disappointed to see that the line of traveling to the alternate – magical – world cured the protagonist. One day I would like to see a protagonist fight for their health rather than having their problems – pardon the pun – magically resolve themselves.

But, I have to give the story some slack. It is a fantasy, so why not envision good health or physical perfection. Some might consider those greater blessings than discovering they had magic. So, I shouldn’t quibble about that.

However, I do have one quibble. Lulled ≠ Lolled

I suspect the misuse of the word is a typo. Or even, a case of the computer thinking it was smarter than the human. Damn you, autocorrect. I trust the error will be corrected in time.

Quibble aside –

The story draws Ren, an abandoned, isolated, wounded person into an environment where she can flourish and most importantly finally find the place where she belongs.

Everyone could benefit from spending some time in Ren’s brogues.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

A Brief Ode to 2020

2020

The one thing certain
About all this uncertainty
Is that all our certainty
Is now certainly uncertain.
And that
The only thing certain
Is uncertainty.

That much is certainly certain.

Bone Deep

Single candle

We were never meant to carry
The shame that goes bone-deep
for any reason,
for every reason,
for no reason.

It is not ours to keep.

THE BINGO FACTORY

Poetry - the bingo factory - complex ptsd

So many symptoms
Laid out
All grid-like

Oh, I see

It’s a game.
I never chose to play
but I play
none-the-less.

Here’s a card
Take the markers
Fill the boxes
Make a line
Can you fill it
Can you feel it.

Every card’s a winner
Every card’s a loser.

Check off those boxes
Fill them with glowing neon
Mark it if you got it
Make it big
Make it bright
Make it loud

Listen to the caller
Your caller will holler
The symptoms

Are they yours?
Are they real?
Are you real?
Is this you?

Find one?
Mark it.
Find two?
Mark it.
Fill your card
With all your flaws.

Have no future?
There’s a tick.
Hate yourself?
There’s a tick.
Don’t know who you are?
That’s good for two.

Self-harm?
Fill a box for every scar.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Count them up.

Or bomb-like
Count them down.

Doesn’t matter.
Every card’s a winner.
Every player’s a loser.

Who’s close?
Who’s close?

Spin the wheel again.

Flashbacks?
Anxiety?
Depression?
Oh, we be rollin’ now.

Suicidal ideat-

BINGO!

Fuck me.
I win.

The Beginning Writer: ah, humility

beginning writer writing

I am here at my desk taking big calming breaths as I look at a mountain. A figurative mountain, but still it is impressive and daunting in its size for a beginning writer.

I have to climb it.

It’s not a question of do I want to or do I not. It is a necessity. One that I hadn’t considered. Actually, I’ll admit, I thought I wouldn’t have to climb this particular mountain. Not so.

I have reached the point, which I suspect all writers come to somewhere along the way, where I have realized that although I can tell a good story, and I have a good story to tell, I still have a lot of craft to learn.

The realization is both painful and, I hope, ultimately rewarding.

I have a lot of craft to learn.

I’ll admit – it is a painful realization. It’s right up there with stepping on a lego block, or stubbing your toe on the doorjamb. It’s the kind of pain that after a long hard day makes you sit down on the floor in utter defeat.

I suspect this is one of those junctures in life where people either give up or they dig deeper. I wonder how other writers have faced this particular Rubicon. What was the moment Neil Gaiman looked at his story and said – this is rubbish? And what made him go on? Margaret Atwood? Toni Morrison?

What made each of them know that this dream – their dream – was worth the effort? They embraced that challenge even though it was, maybe, wrapped in a bitter pill.

There are moments in learning that define careers. I’ll use Chemistry as one example – because I’m a Chemist. There is one notorious class that is often referred to as ‘the weed out’ class. It’s Organic Chemistry. I have seen dozens of people decide to switch their major after failing Orgo, as it is called in the nerd world of the lab. That course has altered the trajectory of more people than I can imagine. A great many Chemistry majors become Biology majors after Orgo. I had friends who wanted to become doctors, but after failing Organic Chemistry they changed their aim.

But, a few of my friends who had failed found something in themselves that refused to let this block derail them from their future. One friend took orgo three times before he passed. I admire him immensely. He’s got grit.

The beginning writer needs grit

I’ll be honest, I never needed grit. I have been blessed with a curiosity and the ability to understand complex things. I’ve always been more abacus than human. That’s from the Complex PTSD, but I won’t take you down that rabbit hole today.

After decades I finally have a dream in my life that is ‘my dream’. It is also something that is not coming easily. So, I’m learning grit.

I’m learning to recognize the places where I lack skill. Which is a hard thing to do with the drum beat of ‘not enough’ in the back of your head. But, I have learned that in order to get where I want to be I have to fight for it. I fight my own failings, and keep moving along that learning curve. Though, not always as smoothly as I would like.

I now know that to achieve anything that is close to your heart you have to climb mountains. Sometimes they are mountains that you never saw. But, the worst mountains are those that you thought you could avoid because you were already beyond them.

It’s humbling to find yourself at the foot of one of those.

So here I am. A bit bruised, my little proto-ego having taken a solid shot to the chops. Feeling very humble and getting ready to start my journey.

A new post up at the CPTSD Foundation

Ah yes, the Holidays.
Here is my Thanksgiving wish for you, and me.
This will be the first official ‘holiday’ at my mother’s house in 5+ years.
The feeling is kinda “I wonder how it’ll go” v. “OMG – What have I done?”
I’ll be keeping all of you in my thoughts.
Hang in there.

Images to help explain Complex PTSD

To explain Complex PTSD to someone can be difficult. I hope these images can help educate people to what we live with.

I composed these images to help in sharing information about CPTSD. They are listed in no particular order. I have included with them the source of the image, as best I can. All images I have used from Pixabay are non-royalty and free for use in non-commercial settings.

Please feel free to use them without alteration in your own efforts to bring awareness to Complex PTSD.

Many thanks.
Mari

Images for Complex PTSD inspiration

Listed below are memes I have created on aspects of complex-PTSD. I composed these images to help in sharing information about CPTSD. They are listed in no particular order. I have included with them the source of the image, as best I can. All images I have used from Pixabay are non-royalty and free for use in non-commercial settings.

Please feel free to use them without alteration in your own efforts to bring awareness to CPTSD.

Many thanks.
Mari