War Stories

"Some people tell other people's stories. 

As for me, I tell my own."

I believe there is a commonality among survivors.
Many of us tell our war stories to anyone who will listen. 

I used to believe this retelling was a plea to be seen. I have come to learn (about myself anyway) that the catharsis is more of a way to detach. Whether in front of strangers on a stage, on the page, or in conversation, my reiteration of my truth is more like vomiting up bad fruit than it is a sharing of the harvest.

These days I make light of much of the malady, mainly because it is incessant and unceasing. I spent much of my childhood believing in the blessing around the corner. Even before becoming a teenager, adults would crouch to eye level and tell me with the utmost earnestness "All this suffering is for a reason. God has a plan, your blessing is just around the corner. You'll see."

I feel my hopeful heart has been standing at intersections, peering around corners the entirety of my life. Which isn't to say my life isn't blessed; I have truly had some amazing experiences. Most of all, I have the most incredible son a mother could ask for. Against ALL ODDS he is more than I dared to ever dream. But parallel to that dream is an unending stream of nightmares. Contrary to what elders and sages have told me throughout the stages of my suffering, the absolution from pain never came. 

Here I am, nearly forty, rebuilding (yet again) from the ashes. If the idea of being a Phoenix ever looked attractive, the question you should ask is - whether or not there is suffering in the flames ...
and will I grow weary of the taste of charred remains? 

"Pain is a renewable resource. 
I've grown tired of being a refinery."

More than one friend has mentioned in conversation "That's just what you DO. You turn your pain into beautiful art."

Like many artists, I accepted this about myself for a very long time. I used to love the quote: "Poetry is the poor man's therapy" because it really does ring true. And I DO believe in the therapeutic value of art. However, I began to confront the idea that if we, as artists, identify as such through our transmuted pain - to sustain our identity, we need MORE fuel to refine in order to DEFINE. 

As Eckart Tolle discusses in 'The Power of Now', the ego attaches to identity for validation. Such is the case with veterans who are still prisoners of their experience in war, high school burn outs who relive their glory days, and artists who keep telling their same sad story; one in the same.

As for me? I'm tired. 

For a while, I stopped creating art because I thought, perhaps, I was attracting TRAGEDY in order to feed the refinery. Exhausted, I thought I should crucify the artist ... if it would stop all this torment and torrent. 

Not only did the waves keep coming, I had willingly told myself not to swim. 
I folded my fins and fell to the bottom of the ocean, gazing up at fish with wings. 
Tempest tossed, I have always been such a heavy thing. 

I found - it is equally easy to swim, as it is to sink.

Of all the things I lost along the way; youth, beauty, my metabolism ... 
HOPE is what I miss most. 

Hope floats.
Optimism always had a way of helping me bubble back to the surface. Looking to a fortunate future was often a pocket of air that lifted me from my despair on the ocean floor to the air where I could breathe once more. And sometimes .. when I couldn't see past today, I would turn to my hate and it too would motivate me; "Anger is more useful than despair." 

Lately, I lack the energy for either.
I feel like Sisyphus.
No matter what I try, or how I choose to push my bolder up the hill - be it through fury, faith, or sheer will ... I end up back at the bottom, crushed by the weight of all. 
I have come to a point where I wonder why I try, what's the point of it all?

"They say they want you successful, then they make it stressful -
  you start keeping  pace, they change up the tempo." ~ Yasiin Bey

I don't want to dance no more.
My feet hurt I tell you.
Music doesn't really sound the same to me.
Even a sweet melody strikes me melancholy & morose. All the things I used to love, no longer bring me joy. They start off sweet, then sit bitter between my teeth, gritty and gristled; unfit to swallow. I spit my experiences out for fear they will sour in my belly.
And people tell me ...
"But you are going to have such an amazing testimony"

This doesn't console me.
For what good are war stories when you have to go to war to have them?
What good are testimonies ... when the only thing you are left with

is wreckage and an anthem?