1. SP says

    The truth about my life
    The truth about my life this instant?
    I’m lonely. I’m alone. The children sleep. I surf the web. Twitter to Facebook to news sites to Twitter to Facebook. Craving attention. I write the kids of comments I want people to write on my posts.
    I’m quoted in the paper today. More of my anger about societies’ vaquished. The crest of strangers’ and friends’ praise in less than 140 characters. The trough of knowing nothing will change.
    How to make my mark. How to stop being mean to my children. Knowing I should not eat the Scouts chocolates, but sell them.
    Feeling fat. Sore neck. Sore back. Sore shoulder. Sleep will only come on my left side tonight.
    No church yet this year. I feel the guilt, and tonight my little one randomly states he has trouble believing in God. Where did that come from? “But I really want to go to Heaven, Mum”. Then a call from our Minister, so I switch the phone to silent.
    Parent teacher interviews after school. Oldest has no friends to play with. The gap grows wider. Teacher wouldn’t let him try out for sports team. “You have your special basketball team”. I don’t think I like her much anymore.
    My computer heats up too much to use on my lap. I crouch over the kitchen bench and yell at the kids to go to bed. I want to sneak another chocolate from the fundraising box, but know I’ll hate myself, again.
    My children need me. My sister-in-law has three under three and post-natal-depression. I should be helping her. My grandmother is 92 and I adore her with every vein and artery, with every breath I breathe, but I’m busy. I won’t see her this week. She likes attention too.
    The dogs barks. Thank God the neighbour fixed the fence. The last thing we need is a dog car collision. I open the door and she careens in.
    I am an optimist, but empty. I am a doer, but hollow.
    How will my life be fulfilled. I have no fucking idea.

  2. jann says

    In the first grade I followed a beautiful girl through the school yard. I watched as she ate her lunch, and her blonde hair cupped her full face like a cherub. I was too shy to talk but I did name my one doll after her–Vicki.

    In the seventh grade I followed my gym teacher through her office and into the gym every day. I watched her as she explained basketball rules. Her calf and arm muscles bulged, and I started lifting weights at home. We talked and she wanted to know about my family and school. Being with her was special and I wanted to be just like her.

    My mother told me I acted like a boy with my walk and gestures, a swagger she called it. She told me it had to stop: “No one in our family acts this way.” I wanted to be what I was but I wanted my mother’s approval too. I tried to change the way I walked, watching other girls take smaller steps. I stopped resting my hands on my crotch. In high school two people called me queer, and it was horrifying. The label meant outcast and sinful, and more than disappointing my mother, I didn’t want God to turn his back on me.

    Talking to boys came later, and then dating but sex was difficult. I didn’t know what was wrong, a feeling I didn’t understand. I hid my interest in my female doctor and a female friend, but then one day I discovered a beautiful singer named Alanis Morissette. I collected photos of her that lined my walls, and at night I held her so close I tried to catch her breath. I started writing and through my words, I began to see that my interest in Alanis, in Vicki, in my gym teacher, and in my doctor was really about loving women. I was a lesbian all those years tucked away under all kinds of excuses. Today when I look at my high school photos, I can see that I did look like a dyke–my hair, the square jaw, and something about my intense eyes. I understood why those two people thought I was a dyke.

    I came out very late in my life and I regret not doing it earlier but I’m not sure I could have endured my family’s rejection. I am now married to a wonderful woman and live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages. I know now I was born this way, and if I was born to love women, how could God hate me.

    • Debbie says

      Jann – thanks for sharing part of your journey with us. Anticipation of rejection is a powerful force for conformity – whatever we may be hiding inside ourselves.

    • Ilana says

      Jann- As Debbie says ‘I am back for another read.’ I was actually surprised that I hadn’t responded before. Your writing drew me in immediately. The descriptions are so vivid and beautiful. I loved the way it flowed as you took us through your life. It was a triumph when I got to the end and read that you are married to a wonderful woman. The fact that you live in a state that recognizes your marriage made it that much sweeter. (I wish it were something we could take for granted.) Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Jann, thank you for writing this story. I appreciated reading it and was so happy to cheer you on. So happy for you to be living with the woman you love, married and even legal…not that that is a requirement for bliss ever. Nice bonus though.

  3. Ana says

    The Truth Right Now:
    I hate my job with all my heart and want to quit RIGHT NOW!
    I love my male cat Lucien with all my heart.
    I don’t have children.
    I don’t always love life.
    I don’t always know what it means to be a woman.
    I need more friends.
    I love to write.
    I don’t like injustice.
    I love my body today.
    I love the way the sun moves throughout my house.
    I haven’t washed my hair in a week.
    I love music with all my heart.
    I love turtles.
    I love giving myself a manicure.
    I love to make art.
    I have hairy legs and armpits.
    I feel lonely.
    I’ve been engaged for 4 years.
    I want to be shaken up by life.
    I want to be more than what I am right now.
    I love the wind on my face.
    I still have my first music box (tune: Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head).
    I don’t always feel happy.
    I love to dance/move.
    I love the sound of birds in the morning.
    I love the sound my oven makes, “click, click, click”, when I’m getting it ready for baking.
    I want to travel to India.
    I love the smell of orange.
    I wake up in fear of death.
    I love to see dogs run.
    I love the ocean.
    I don’t know the meaning of life.
    I feel so insignificant next to a whale.
    I yearn to be fulfilled.
    I love long train rides.
    I love to feel.

    • Beverly Boyd says

      And I loved your list! It’s so rich and varied! So many detail!
      I’ve never been close to a whale, except through a glass on in the stands at Marine world, but it could make you feel insignificant alright.
      Keep writing

    • Debbie says

      Ana – you covered a lot of territory in your truth right now! I agree with Laura’s comment on your flow – it felt great as I read through the lines. Thank you for joining in on this prompt.

  4. Beverly Boyd says

    Hi! How are you?
    How many times when I am out in the world I hear that and I say, “Fine”, sometimes even enthusiastically. It’s automatic and it’s not. I check in with myself and realize in that moment I am fine. My health is good. My children and their families are fine. It’s a beautiful day. I did some work in the garden and some errands and found a convenient parking space. Yes, I am fine…and. I let myself feel that place in my heart where there is a gaping hole.
    I learned on Friday that my sister’s fourth stage lung cancer has gone into the spine and she may not live to her next chemo…
    I learned on Saturday that she hasn’t spoken a word all day and only pain wakens her. My sister…seven years younger…whose tiny hands held my fingers as she took her first step.

    She has already poured the large coffee I always order and has it on the counter. She doesn’t need to know the “and”. In fact it is comforting to know that I have a place where I go almost every day, a place where everybody knows my name and my usual order and doesn’t know the “and” in my life.
    Yes, I am fine.

    On Saturday I call a younger brother to let him know the latest news. “I’m the oldest.”,I complain. I’m supposed to go first. “Oh,” so now you’re pulling rank,” my younger brother teases me. “Remember, Bev, years ago we thought David would be the first.” “Thanks for reminding me.”, I say. Yes, we both know that he has outlived his HIV diagnosis by twenty years.

    On Saturday I call some friends… the ones who have known since October that the doctors had finally diagnosed the true cause of the increasing pain Donna had been having for more that a year. Some doctors even believed she was just pitching for prescription pain medications. Finally one doctor took her seriously. I knew from the tests that she was having that the lungs might be involved and it might be cancer. We were all shocked by how far it was advanced. I let my friends know what has happened and ask for their prayers, knowing they will take me seriously and do it. One friend invites me to her house and we pray together.

    On Sunday morning a group of eight friends meet on a conference call so we can pray. I spend the rest of the day surrounding myself with friends to whom I can tell the “and”.
    I go to church in the morning. The theme for the month is “Joy”. I find that strangely appropriate. I do have Joy. In fact running through my head has been the refrain of one or choir songs: “I still have Joy”. It’s not the click you heels and dance kind of Joy, but the kind that knows that all is right with the world. I have joy because my sister and I have a wonderful relationship and our whole geographically scattered family is pulling together to let her and her husband know how much we love them. After service I fall into the arms of one of the ushers and blurt out what is happening. I don’t even tell him I am fine. His wife has been on maintenance chemo for three years. I know they are praying for my sister. I know he knows that feeling when someone you love deeply is struggling with a disease that could take their life and deep guttertal sobs lie at the back of your throat. I let myself feel the support and strength in his hug as he thanks me for telling him and says he’ll tell Lisa and they both will pray for Donna.
    In the social hall I move about as I usually do and telling people the “and” only on a “need to know” basis. I greet the folks who have a rose. They are here for the first time and some others I just greet. They don’t need to know. But there are many who I am closer to, who I know are serious about the power of prayer. I joke about shamelessly soliciting prayer from the “big guns”. One says she doesn’t think she is a big gun: she needs a lot of practice, and she is more than willing to practice.
    Of course, I “want” Donna’s complete recovery…I “want” to hold her in my arms again and be able to say into her ear how very much I love her. What I really want is for God’s will to be done and to be able to accept that, even if it turns out not to be what I “want”.
    “C”stops to greet me with a hug as she strides across the parking lot, clearly a woman on a mission. She really needs to know. I’ve known her since the first weeks after I moved to Santa Cruz. We have shared so much with each other as we’ve moved through all of the twists and turns in our lives. Even if she is on a mission, She needs to know: not to tell her would almost dishonor our friendship. We don’t need a long conversation. She thanks me, gives me another supportive hug and continues striding across the parking lot.

    Sunday afternoon, I meet another Rosen Bodyworker to drive up to Berkeley for a Rosen gathering to celebrate the life of Marion Rosen, our founder, teacher and mentor who died at 97 a month ago. There were probably two hundred people in the room, most of whom I know, and, because of the work we have done together, I know intimately.

    Monday, I wait with some anxiety until evening. I know my brother Dick and his wife were leaving Saturday to make the day’s drive from north of Chicago to Lexington, KY, and they would be joined by their daughter and son on Monday. They all have their mobile phones and email so I tell myself that no news is good news. I have heard nothing since Saturday.

    Today, the truth is, I know that Donna is communicating again. Yes she is weak and in pain for which she is receiving medication. Today the truth is that if I leave home for even only a few minutes, the first thing I will do when I return will be to check my answering machine and email. Today I know I can say “I am fine” and mean it…and I will send as much love as possible to Donna and her husband, Reed who, except for brief times, has remained at her side for days. Today I am going about the business of my life…and I am gathering the things I might need to have with me if the news I don’t want to hear comes and I have to leave on a cross country trip.

    Almost in comic relief, the strains of an old rock and roll song run through my head: “just a little bit longer, please. please, please”…stay longer, a lot longer. We still have a lot of talking and laughing to do.

    • says

      Beverly, thanks for sharing this very intimate window into the end of your sister’s life. I was very touched by it, especially your description of her as your little sister and how is to be losing her. I also loved the analysis of how we always say, “Fine,” and really say nothing.

    • Debbie says

      Beverly – your post touched me deeply. I have a family member who is also struggling with a terminal disease, balancing on that tightrope between two difficult options. Your writing was so gentle that you took me along on your journey without activating my own fears and pain. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

    • Andrea says

      It is said that if we all threw our troubles into a pile, we would likely reach in to take our own back when we saw everyone else’s. The struggle that both you and Debbie are dealing with in your families reminds me so much of this truth. Blessings to both of you.

  5. Paula Hill says


    In this moment’s pulsating beat…

    I’m Artemis, a woman with bow and arrow,
    dressed in tunic and deerskinned pants…
    Fringes blow to the tune of the wind,
    fluttering to capture the attention of my
    ever faithful, strong, companion hounds
    as we live and romp through Nature’s wilderlands,
    strong-thighed, with a Virgin’s will….and beauty….
    never missing my aim…
    …even when tricked by my jealous brother,
    with prideful aim, I unwittingly strike
    my lover’s head, bobbing in a pool
    at a distance where I see no details….

    I’m Hera, betrothed to cheating Zeus…
    whom I love from my deepest wellsprings,
    and depend upon for my fortune and hierarchy….
    And to those others,
    temptresses mortal and immortal….
    beware my caustic wrath…
    powers to turn beauty into frogs,
    youth into a haggling elder,
    agility into the movement of stones….

    I’m Demeter, holding a tender baby
    in protective embrace as delicate lips
    sip upon my milky nectar..
    With extraordinary senses,
    I become alive for more than myself…
    The giving becomes the receiving
    of the unconditional, the Divine…..
    gifting the miracle of nurturing a sprout
    into the beauty of a blooming rose or cactus….
    And, if any one threatens my progeny…
    BEWARE Spring EVER returning to earth…

    I’m Hestia… duty simple and humble….
    keeping the embers glowing
    at my hearth, the center of my home
    family and friends gather
    for food and conversation….
    I plant seeds from ancient heritages
    keeping the plants alive for the
    continuum of seasons that grow into time…
    Content and in a state of beholden abundance…
    the fires burn, the seeds grow…
    when honored and respected…

    I’m Athena…..politician and daughter to Zeus…
    My words speak as my fathers…
    And as warrioress, under royal oath, defend the reigns of my governance…
    My mind has no room for matters of personal heart
    for such would weaken my strength…
    The harshness of the world is known in my soul…
    I defend the land from erosion of spirit…
    Beware my discriminating sword….

    I am Aphrodite… luxurious spread,
    wrapped in silks and transparencies
    giving hint to my limbs and just barely visible breasts…
    I lure him, and him, and him….
    sitting amid the red roses, violet irises, and white lotus blossoms…
    my fingers pluck the lyre, my song honey to his ears…
    oils of jasmine and patchouli dot my earlobes, wrists, ankles..
    Come to my red coral painted sumptuous couch…
    Let me soothe your tired muscles with unguent of sandalwood
    as you feast on elixirs,
    prepared especially for you….

    I am maiden, mother, crone…a plant
    scattering her seeds
    for to gather light from mighty Sun,
    to reach with outstretched arms towards his warmth;
    and under teasing Moon’s darkness,
    coax roots to migrate deeply into soils
    wherein reaching a richness of water and minerals.
    The road is harsh…
    sprouts must navigate through pebbles
    and ever-created obstacles
    to reach full bloom…
    Some seeds prevail; some compost into the sands of renewal…

    I am Persephone, and I live married to Hades
    during the fallow, winter season of life…
    I’m attracted to an unspoken ecstasy,
    the pervasive, seething wounds of hell’s fire
    licking greedily on my innocence…
    Little I knew, when in plucking a flower of unearthly beauty,
    I’d be kidnapped to the inferno below…..
    A secret flows deep beneath the crusty surface…
    Underground waters flow through aeons of time,
    ever destined
    to eventually surface to natural springs…
    Under the light of day, sulfured and steamy,
    a soak in the aged waters
    initiates a wisdom seen and given in the breadth of light…
    Listen carefully to the bubbling and gurgling wherein
    portentious, generous guidance is no longer withheld….
    A secret unveils….and issues from sweeter tongue…
    …….viewing life as abundant
    …….and walking in gratitude
    is to ever and ever… succeed…

    I am Isis, Goddess of Earth, Water, Fire,
    and of Air, with sprouted wings,
    I lift above all horizons
    to view the greens, the browns, the yellows…
    The myriad hues of the rainbows
    glean back at me in full abundance…
    in generosity…..
    And I fly with an eagle’s eye
    …I glide on the up and down currents of heat and cold
    …I hide and seek in the nebulous clouds
    …I flutter in winged freedom…

    I am Lady Moon…
    Lifeblood surges with watery ebbs and flows,
    body alert to the rays of my lover,
    my God…
    the beams that play in juxtapose,
    painting my creative crescents across the dark canvas of night….
    We, dancing around our Earth Child’s karmic shadows…..
    He in audacious splendor,
    and I in feminine, grand modesty…
    grace the evolution of time….

    In the spaces between one inhale and one exhale…
    In one, beating pulsating life…
    through the expanses of time…..I am woman….

    • Debbie says

      Paula – your writing talent is both exhilarating and intimidating! From your command of Greek mythology, to the use of strong archetypal images, choosing of words to paint images and shift mood – very, very impressive. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Paula, I love this! Also very impressed with all that Greek mythology. I’ve always wanted to brush-up but no time.

  6. Debbie says

    Right now my life is a cartwheeling kaleidoscope of change and upheaval
    Sometimes the patterns are breathtakingly beautiful
    Then summersault, head over heals, and the image becomes overwhelming , oppressive
    The touchstones in my life are gone,
    Or maybe I am finally just realizing they were never really real
    Only infused with the essential life energy I gave away to them every day
    I can’t decide I am delighted to have this much freedom in my life
    Or demented, deluded and headed down a path of future regret
    The carnival pipe organ provides a continuous musical score
    I dance, trying to keep time with the loony tunes in my ears
    I smile because that is what is expected, and curtsy, so well behaved
    My eyes, though, are empty, turned inward
    Watching the every changing kaleidoscope for clues….

    • says

      Especially loved this line, “I can’t decide I am delighted to have this much freedom in my life.” Ain’t that the truth? We’re such habitual creatures and are often uncomfortable in a firestorm of change, though that’s where the biggest breakthroughs happen. But oh, that threshold!

    • Ilana says

      Debbie- I’m dizzy! Your descriptions of the kaleidoscope, the cartwheels, the summersaults have my head spinning. I found that extremely effective. I felt pulled into your piece, literally. I love how you talk about upheaval but call it breathtakingly beautiful. It shows how intensely painful and intensely beautiful the experience is at the same time. Then you refer to the pattern most of us feel forced to follow at one time or another, “I smile because that is what is expected and curtsy, so well behaved.” Your writing is inclusive. I feel like my own experiences are honored as you describe yours. Thank you for sharing it with me.

  7. jennifer says

    I am at a crossroads. I have been at this crossroads road before, but didn’t understand myself enough to know where I stand or to make the right choice for myself. I have learned some hard lessons, blindly stumbled into them like hidden steel traps or willingly walked into them knowing that wild fire waited for me on the other side. Opportunities have also been placed in front of me, but I was wasn’t done learning the same hard lessons, so I either turned them away or drove them away. But things have shifted slightly and a hint of real change is in the air. I had an epiphany. It came in the middle of an abusive relationship.

    I could no longer think right side up. I was afraid to speak up after my voice was systemically taken away. I no longer knew how to navigate my own life. I hid inside myself. The insidious spiral to this deep, dark place, and the final straw in the form of a punch in the face, pushed me to start kicking. Frantic at first, I kicked like I was held down at the bottom of the ocean. Surfacing disoriented, with squinted and unfocused eyes, I finally allowed myself to breath, a deep full breath that seemed to reach into the areas that felt long dead. What I knew about myself I no longer knew. Every part of me was raw. I didn’t trust myself any longer and I was angry. So today, I work hard to rebuild myself. It has been hard work that I cannot rest from, even for a day, for fear of slipping back under the ocean. Still, the scars, only visible to me, are fading but serve to remind me how quickly we can lose our footing if we haven’t learned to love ourselves.

    Small decisions are considered carefully and my intuition is now a respected and welcome voice. I listen to her carefully. I own my bad choices and I own my spiraled descent, because I had the power to stop it all along but I still allowed it. I own my life today and my future. Forgiving has been another lesson for me. I forgive him, quietly and only for myself. Letting go of the anger was a long process and felt like a roller coast of ride of blame and shame. I let it go, and said goodbye. With this, I started to forgive myself. Today, I stand on my own two feet, open and ready to shine. I had to lose myself to really know what it meant to find myself. My name is Jennifer and I am a survivor.

    • Debbie says

      Jennifer – I wanted to stand up and cheer as I reached the end of your post! “Today, I stand on my own two feet, open and ready to shine.” Great line and so hopeful – full of promise. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Ilana says

      Jennifer- I agree with Debbie. This is so full of hope but it also held a quiet patience for me. I, too, have felt my voice taken away; by abusive partners, parents and others. You acknowledge that there was a time when you ‘didn’t understand yourself enough to make the right choices for yourself.’ As a reader, that kind of gave me permission to reach those places of strength when I was ready. I am miles from where I want to be but I have been through a lot and I am still here. I am ‘Ilana’ and I, too, am a survivor. Thank you for reminding me.

  8. Andrea says

    It is true, when one woman tells the truth about her life the world does split open. I’m a liar, so I should know. I’ve blatantly lied to cover up something I’ve done and wanted to hide. I’ve withheld information that could have altered a perception. I’ve accidentally lied by not realizing an error in communication. I’ve softened the truth to save feelings and prettied the truth to look good. I’ve replied “Fine” when all was not fine. I’ve avoided asking questions when I was afraid of the answer. I’ve hidden myself to avoid conflict.

    My husband told me I was a liar and I fought tooth and nail to deny it. That was a lie too. He doesn’t trust me anymore because of my lies and so now we are getting divorced. That’s the truth.

    So, over the past few months I’ve been practicing being more honest. The result has been unexpected. When people ask why we are getting divorced, I tell them. I tell them what I did and what I didn’t do. I tell them how I feel and I never say, “I’m fine”. I’m not fine. I feel like crap. Crap with a side of terrified and a slice of excited.

    But what has happened, is these people I have known for so many years, return my honesty with some of their own. I have been shocked, heartbroken, amused and astounded in the last few months. But, mostly I have been connected. They are human and so am I. I love them still. They love me still. We are in this together and only those that can’t forgive and insist on judgement will have to take this ride alone. The rest of us will hang on tight to each other and enjoy the ride.

    • says

      Andrea, what a beautiful, honest, inspiring post. I love the results you’re getting. We all have so many secrets and so many things we’re ashamed of–things we don’t want anyone to know. You demonstrate why breaking that secrecy and letting our failings show is the only step to connection and growth. Thank you!

    • Debbie says

      Andrea – I applaud your courage to respond with the unvarnished truth. Through this online writing community, I have begun to find the strength to “speak” those dark secrets that helped to keep me feeling isolated and along. Much to my surprise, I have found strong sister writers also working through similar issues – and some much more dramatic! Hooray for you -hang on tight!

    • Ilana says

      Andrea- I’m going to have to read this one again. I don’t think I have taken in all it has to teach. Several times today I said, “fine” and I felt like a liar. There were a couple of lines in particular that I enjoyed and spoke to me. I loved, “I feel like crap with a side of terrified and a slice of excited.” It’s so visual and adds a little levity and on top of that it very accurately describes my feelings of late. The other line that was precious to me (there’s no other way to word my emotional response to it) was “When one woman tells the truth about her life the world does not split open” It was so liberating. Still, I am left with one question. Are there some people who don’t deserve to hear anything other than “fine”? Don’t some people ask “How are you?” without really wanting to hear the truth? I would posit those people don’t deserve my truth. Thank you. I truly appreciate what you share with me through your writing.

      • Debbie says

        Ilana – a few times lately, when I am been feeling extremely sorrowful, I was not able to force “fine” out of my mouth or feign a smile. Instead, I said – “this has not been the best day of my life”. Depending on the age of the inquirer, the response differed; those younger were totally caught off guard that I did not respond as expected. But some of the older folks (by which I guess I really mean my age!) paused for a moment and really looked at me. One woman actually offered a simple wish that things would get better – which completely caught me off guard and I dissolved into tears, running to get out of the store – but still touched by a moment of connection with a stranger. So maybe we should try to shake to shake free of the reflexive “fine” more often…

    • Debbie says

      Andrea – I was thinking about your post today when talking with someone at work about my dog. Innocently they asked if I had always had her with me, and I said no – just brought her out in January. So they then asked, what do you do with her when you travel back home? I looked them straight in the eyes and lied. No, not about what I do with the dog but about the real reason she is with me, the fact I don’t know where “home” is these days – except where it isn’t anymore. I have some distance to travel to meet your level of honesty. Thanks for inspiring me to get there!

      • Andrea says

        To Illana — I don’t think the truth is about how other people react as much as how it makes you FEEL, how it opens YOUR heart. The rest is just side affects.

        Debbie, Despite my reply to Ilana above, it is hard to always be honest. Is it always appropriate? I’m learning with everyone else. I do know that home is where Your love, joy, and peace reside and that may be where Caymus is right now.

  9. Ilana says

    The truth is I’m scared.

    The truth is I wear rose colored glasses. I see the good things in my life as be far better than they actually are. I need to embrace every ounce of joy I can find, so what if I invent some of it?

    The truth is my husband is not the faultless hero I make him out to be. I’ve never lied about him but I when I am talking about how loving and kind he is I tend to leave out that he sometimes yells when he’s angry. I don’t mention that he snores, leaves his clothes on the floor, leaves dishes in the sink and hasn’t the first clue about what I am going through. No matter how hard he tries HE WILL NEVER GET IT. (and i fear he is getting tired)

    The truth is my marriage is not perfect. We snap at each other. We argue and sometimes fight. I say some things I shouldn’t. He says some things he shouldn’t. Eventually, we always work it out though.

    The truth is I’m scared.

    The truth is when I see a police car go by I don’t think “He’s out to catch a speeder” as most people do. Instead I wonder if the officer in that car would have helped me when I was a defenseless child.

    The truth is when I see an ambulance speed by, with its lights and sirens, I wish it was for me. I want someone to rush to help me.

    The truth is when I see a dead body on a television crime drama I am envious. Whatever she went through before she died, that woman’s pain has come to an end and before the program is over the hero of the story will punish the person who hurt her.

    The truth is I look at those pills and the knife more often than I’d like to admit. I know I will never swallow more than the prescribed number of pills. I know I will never cut anything more than the tape from a package with that knife. But the truth is I sometimes wish I could.

    The truth is I am in pain.

    The truth is when I pass the cemetery each day, on my way to drop my son off at preschool, I look at the grave stones longingly, wishing one of them had my name on it.

    The truth is that although I outwardly respond to what she says with support, she and I have extremely different value systems and I am deeply offended by the choices she makes.

    The truth is I am a terribly selfish person. When I donate my hair and my blood, when I collect blankets for the homeless, even when I help out a friend, I am doing all of it for my own benefit. I am doing it because I want them to remember me. I want the people who benefit from my “generosity” to remember that it is because of me that they have whatever it is I gave to them. Even those who do not know me; I want them to think of the nameless, faceless person who is actually me.

    The truth is I am angry. I am angry at every aunt, uncle, cousin, teacher and school nurse who I never asked for help. They never helped me.

    The truth is I am filled genuine hatred. I hate my family for what they did to me and what it turned me into.

    The truth is I am lost. I don’t know what to do next, what is the right move, what is the right decision. I don’t know how to stop the pain.

    The truth is I am afraid of annoying my reader, now that I have finally found a place to share. I try to keep my pain in a bottle and only pour out as much as I think you can stand. Then I sprinkle a little sugar on top to make it more palatable.

    The truth is I worry about what people think of me.

    The truth is I am sorry. For every stupid thing I say, for every dumb mistake I make, for every little thing that goes wrong, I am sorry.

    The truth is my life is filled with pain but it is also wonderful. Regardless of the excruciating truths about my childhood, that are coming to light faster than I can make sense of them, my life is better now than it has ever been. I have three beautiful children who think I am a wonderful mother. I have a loving husband, a comfortable home, enough to eat and friends who love me. I have survived one brain aneurysm, four pregnancies, one miscarriage, three live births and three post partum depressions. Now all of that is behind me.

    The truth is I learn something from every interaction I have every single day.

    The truth is I have hope. I have tomorrow and I have my strength. The truth is the sugar isn’t just there for you. If I didn’t sprinkle in a little sugar I couldn’t stand to read it myself.

    But you know what? Life, my life at least, wasn’t meant to be lived in only bitterness and pain. These rose colored glasses fit me perfectly. They are the reason I can still laugh. They are the reason I can still breathe. They are the reason I can suck every ounce of sweetness from each moment. And I intend to do that for the rest of my life. Now that I think about it, that’s going to be a very very long time.

    • Julia says

      Such bare-bones honesty like yours, I admire. I was not bored nor annoyed at what you’d written. You dare to be true and honest with yourself. That is a good thing.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you, Julia. It’s scary to be honest about the ugliest parts of me but given a safe place to do so it becomes invigorating.

    • says

      Ilana, I loved what you shared. Your honesty. Your humor. Your resilience cosied right up next to the despair. I loved this line, “The truth is I am afraid of annoying my reader, now that I have finally found a place to share. I try to keep my pain in a bottle and only pour out as much as I think you can stand. Then I sprinkle a little sugar on top to make it more palatable.” Just keep writing. Put it out there. We can take it.

      • Ilana says

        Thanks for the invitation, Laura. It was an admission of my anxiety but given your response, I don’t think I’ll worry about it in the future. 😉

      • Debbie says

        Ilana – the line that Laura noted was also one that caught my attention. Please don’t give in to the “editor” in your head. We would all lose out! I do understand that nagging fear, though, as I felt I might be annoying the community a couple of weeks ago when feeling such despair. The honest sharing of everyone on this blog has been, and is, so healing for me. It is the best thing I have ever done to exorcise the demons that have haunted me for so many years! Always wait in great anticipation to read your work…

    • Debbie says

      Ilana – back for a second read, okay really a third read. Here is the other line that caught me up, right after the ambulance, “I want someone to rush to help me.” Big breath in, you got me. Why does no one see? It feels so obvious to me. Nope not annoying in the least, but very thought provoking. Thank you.

      • Ilana says

        Debbie- The part about the ambulance (and the police car and the grave stones) was particularly difficult to share. It’s been a shameful secret for a long time. I’m not sure I understand what you mean is so obvious to you and I think that what you are saying could be very helpful to me. Could you say more?

        • Debbie says

          Ilana – that part of your story struck me because I feel my need/want/hope that someone will rush to rescue me is so large, so present in me at all times – that I am surprised that no one sees it. Your words gave form to feelings I had not quite formed or identified to date. I have continued to reflect on this overnight and realize this is just one more “lie” that I perpetuate. If my need is this great, and no one knows, only I can be at fault for hiding yet another aspect of myself away. And, on the other hand, intellectually I know that at this point in my life – no one can really save me but myself. The little girl inside rails against this truth and so the struggle goes on….. don’t know if this was helpful at all. It did, however, hold my feet to the fire about yet one more lie. Thanks Ilana.

          • Ilana says

            Debbie- Hugely helpful. You put the rest of my thought into words and now I feel less alone. I know we are supposed to be sharing our writing here but I feel we share so much more. I’m going to hold onto what you said. Thanks again!

    • Terry Gibson says

      Ilana, I have this online friend who’s name is Rob and he’s a poet; the last time he sent me his work, I told him it made me cry. Despite the ‘good’ that represented to me, he apologized profusely. He still doesn’t understand that I love his work for that but know he will soon.
      I tell you this because your post made me cry as well. It is so unflinching, raw, sad, maddening, and beautiful. I thank you for this. It stirred up the endorphins I need to write today and may help me do a similar post. Better yet, it reminded me that we connect on many things. Not just you and I but all of us.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you Terry. I am so touched by your words. The line about being afraid of annoying my reader describes a genuine concern but you and the others have given me courage. I feel not just tolerated but valued. I cannot express what that means to me. Thank you.

  10. Eugenia says

    Sorry, posted my story in the wrong place. Here it is…

    It was rainy outside, and the carpet at the entrance of her new apartment was wet and dirty from the rain. Maria carefully stepped inside, and stood at the door, making sure she doesn’t drag mud into the living room.

    The studio apartment was small, but had wide windows overlooking a broken wooden fence in the back, and a parking lot in the front. Maria inhaled its moist mildew smell.

    “Mama, I think you’ll like it,” said Teresa, and pulled her by the sleeve into the kitchen, not paying attention to the wet footprints she left on the floor. “Cadillac Drive is a much worse neighborhood, with the druggies and gangs. We are a block away, and the owners seem reasonable.”

    “Is there a rag?” asked Maria. She resisted Teresa’s pull, and turned her face to the owner who stood behind her. The landlady was built like Teresa, with the wide shoulders, protruding stomach and high bust. She was about Maria’s age, but her eyes looked older, surrounded by the deep dark circles.

    “Sorry. I don’t speak Spanish,” said the landlady apologetically. When she smiled, her teeth looked even and white, but the corners of her mouth quivered down. “Do you speak any English?”

    “Little-little Englis,” Maria made a circle with her fingers, leaving a small opening between her thumb and her ring finger, energetically nodded and smiled too, her new golden tooth shining bright. She wasn’t ashamed anymore of the gap in her mouth. Teresa and Roberto wanted her to have an implant, after she fainted and broke her tooth, they even sent her the money, but Maria paid for it herself. She worked, and she liked gold.

    “Let’s hurry,” said Teresa. She paced through the apartment, opened and closed each closet and cabinet door, while talking on the cell phone, trying to set up Maria’s cell phone account.
    “That’s not the deal AT&T advertised,” Teresa shouted into the telephone. Then she covered the cell phone with her hand, and politely nodded to the landlady.

    “I am sorry,” Maria, pointed to the mud at her feet. She brought her arms to her breast, pressed them together, and with a slight bow, said, “I clean. I work.”

    The landlady shook her head no and waived her hand. She said something to Teresa.

    “Don’t worry about the mud, mama,” said Teresa, and then again into the phone, “Don’t put me on hold. I don’t have much time.”

    Maria wanted to tell the landlady that she would take care of her apartment. She cleaned the homes of Americans since she was six years old in Tijuana. There was a whole community near her home of the former hippies, who got rich, and wanted to live in a place where people were friendly, time — slow, and the weather — warm. Times have changed everywhere, but in that community, even Maria knew that, but the hippies still walked barefoot, their heels crusty and toes crooked, and got together at night to play guitars, sing old songs, and smoke weed. The Americans were friendly, but very prickly about the insects, especially cockroaches. Maria cleaned their mansions till the last day of her pregnancy with Roberto. She was fifteen when she had him. She cleaned the hippies’ houses till the day she gave birth to Teresa, her middle child. And till the birth of her last one, Isabell. Her baby boy. When her children left, she still cleaned the houses of Americans, and when she came to America to be with her kids, right before the bad news hit, she knew what she to do to make her ends meet.

    “They just replaced the carpet, and painted the walls. It is quite clean,” Teresa said.

    Maria nodded and noticed a brown cockroach on the windowsill. Another one, small and quick, crawled toward the stove, and then suddenly disappeared into the crack of wood.

    The landlady followed Maria’s gaze, shook her head and said something to Teresa.

    “They have already called an exterminator. It’s just hard to get rid of the cockroaches here, ” Teresa translated. And into the phone, angrily, “Don’t put me on hold. Yes I need an international plan to call Mexico!” She pressed the speaker button, and cheery music filled the room.

    “No worry,” Maria said, smiling at the landlady. She wasn’t squeamish and wasn’t afraid. Maria lived with the cockroaches and various other insects at home. She knew when to go to war with them, and when to leave them alone.

    The music in the telephone stopped, and an impassioned female voice announced something. Then the message repeated in Spanish. “AloriCares was established with AT&T to provide customer care services staffed entirely by veterans with disabilities.”

    Maria’s heart stopped. She thought she will faint, just like she did a month ago, when she lost her balance and fell on the corner of Isabell’s coffin, breaking her nose and her tooth.

    A low reserved voice came on the line, “My name is Tianhua Lee. I’ll be happy to help you, mam.”

    Teresa paled.

    The landlady’s face wrinkled with pain. “Bobby, “ she said, and turned her body away from Maria. Her wide shoulders shook.

    Maria took her by the elbow. “Isabel,” she said, and showed with her palm that he was the youngest, her baby. Then she leaned on the windowsill with the cockroach still on it, and told the landlady about her boy.

    She spoke in Spanish. She even sang Isabel’s favorite song, Bob Dylan’s “All I really want to do”, hippies taught him.

    The landlady interrupted with a long phrase in English.

    Teresa respectfully finished her call, and stood at the door, patient and quiet. There was no need to translate.

    It seemed, two women understood what was in each others hearts.

    • Ilana says

      Wow! You seem to have a wide scope, Eugenia. You can change the scenery, the people, and the crisis, but the emotions, the power in your writing is still just as startling. Keep it up. You always leave me hungering for more!

      • Eugenia says

        Dear Ilana. Thank you. After reading your post, so wonderfully authentic and full with talent, my fiction stories seem so out of place…
        But the prompts here are much more interesting than the usual ‘write ten minutes about the room you’re in’.

        • Ilana says

          No, Eugenia, not out of place. Your stories add a new dimension to our forum. Please don’t take them elsewhere! My non-fiction teacher used to say, “What’s important is the emotional truth.” I think your writing is full of that.

          • Debbie says

            I can’t second what Ilana said because Laura already did that. So let me just add my sincere desire and invitation that you keep coming back and sharing your stories with us!!

          • Beverly Boyd says

            I third it! or maybe fourth it! I love your stories and the variety of experiences you bring to them.

  11. Bobbie Anne says

    The truth of my life is I am who I am. I am me. I am more than I think I am. I am a woman who is just beginning to see possibilities. I write poetry I joined an art class. I will put my poems together and make a book of poems. I’m already in some literary anthologies, but the truth is I want to put out a collection of poems. I was going to ask someone else in art class to help with the cover. I will have artwork or a photograph. I found the person who will design the cover. It is me. And that is the truth.

    • Terry Gibson says

      That’s so great Bobbie Anne! I love your unabashed announcement of discovering that you are more than you ever thought you were and you see possibilities. I can hardly wait to hear that your book of poetry is out there. I may do the same myself.

  12. Linda says

    This happened last summer, but I am just now, letting myself to be open to the idea that reactions to the present introduce me to the truth about my past.

    It was a hot July day. We were traveling in my car somewhere between (town name) and (town name) and I was at the wheel. She was in the front passenger seat. The only visible thing separating the two of us was the narrow console. That is all the untrained eye could see – gear shift, cup holders, and a small storage compartment/arm rest. Ten to twelve inches at most, between her shoulder and mine. I was shifted as far left on the seat as possible and then was leaning toward the window. I couldn’t get farther away from her without sitting outside of the car.

    Department of Defense
    Visible to no one but myself was the great wall that ran the perimeter of my “personal space”. Wait, perimeter is not the right word. My “space” is not a 2-dimensional field – it is a fluid, 3-dimensional space, like the whites of an egg. I am the yolk. The shell is the protective wall and the whites absorb the shock. A rampart, invisible to everyone but me. A 3-dimensional zone, outfitted with sensors that are configured to detect any threat. Any attack. It’s a great tool to have. Like me, though, it has a tragic flaw. That is that my “egg” can only warn me of intruders, not prevent them from getting in…from touching me…from looking at me…from getting too close to me. That part is my responsibility. That is my job. Never have I so consistently failed at a certain task. My fortress is not impenetrable, no matter how much I would like for it to be. I have what is second best – an intricate alarm system. If someone approaches too closely with their body, their hands, their words, their eyes, my signals are set in motion and I go into protection mode. I often have only a split second to respond. Fight or flight, which will it be?

    Anyhow, I believe we were on the interstate but all I can remember now is how I felt when she disobeyed the rules…when she violated the unwritten tenants.

    She was rambling on about this and that and I was in my own world, keeping myself protected from all the scary things that seem, at times, to swirl around me with the force of severe, March thunderstorm. These fears suffocate me. They choke me. My passenger then proceeded to tell me about someone who had a scar on his face (injury? Surgery? Fuck, I don’t remember). She reached across the invisible shell that separated me from her and touched the side of my face to point out where the scar was on this person. Looking back, I am quite sure this event (her touching me) lasted about 5 seconds, if that many, but for me, to experience it, it spanned an eternity. The alarms sounded inside my head, but I was trapped. I was driving a car down the highway – I couldn’t “leave the room”. Time slowed down and her voice went into slow motion (like when you play a record on the wrong speed). I saw it coming. I felt it coming. My sensors alerted me that she was going to touch me. She was getting ready to touch my face. The sound of her voice slowed, and was baritone-like, and her big, arthritic hand came toward me. My hands clenched the steering wheel and I battened down the hatches. Inside, I screamed. I froze. Oh shit. She is going to touch me. She used a finger to trace a “scar” on the right side of my face – she touched me just below my ear, and traced a curved line down and across my cheek, along my jaw and to my chin. She then took her hand and put it back where it belongs – on her lap – out of my space. I almost puked.
    Even before her finger made contact with my skin, my body reacted. I froze and stared ahead. A wave of heat erupted from somewhere deep inside my body and worked its way through my flesh and out to my skin. My chest was heavy and I could manage only a shallow breath. Sweat beaded on my brow, my upper lip and on my back. The hair on my arms and the nape of my neck stood at attention. The hot sweat ran down my back, stopping only at my waistband, where it was wicked into the fabric of my underwear. This seemed to go on for minutes on top of minutes. Next, I was very cold and was suddenly covered in goose bumps. Am I still driving? I asked myself. It was just like a time warp.

    If she (the intruder) were to describe the event, she would most likely say it lasted 5 seconds and all she did was briefly, gently, touch my face to describe the scar. But she is not telling this story. I am. And I say the event took about 10 minutes. That is 600 long seconds of absolute fear and panic. I was screaming inside, “DON’T TOUCH ME!! DON’T EVEN LOOK AT ME!!”

    It was the summer of 2011. I was 47. The passenger, 73 at the time, was my mother.

    Hello, TRUTH, I’m scared as hell to meet you.

    • Debbie says

      Linda – what an incredible story! You really drew me in and your descriptions were really intense. I found myself reading faster and faster – but also wanting to slow down and really understand the experience. Love the last line! Thanks so much for sharing this very personal piece.

    • Ilana says

      Linda-This piece went right to my core. It is written so clearly. Your images and descriptions are striking and beautiful. I could feel your panic, your pain. You then shocked us again at the end when you revealed the identity of “the intruder”. Your writing, like someone else on the blog, welcomes me into the story rather than relegating me to the audience that sits on the outside. Thank you for sharing this.

      • Linda says

        Thanks so much, Ilana. I am new to sharing my writing (actually new to even writing about my past) so I really do appreciate your feedback. Peace.

  13. Laura Davis says

    Linda, I am so moved by your honest description of the boundaries we sometimes need to create around ourselves. The way you speak from inside that need–thank for your courageous honesty and our beautiful story.

  14. Terry Gibson says

    If only I had known
    How tough it would be
    to be jump-started daily
    by a vacuum cleaner hose
    Cracked over my legs
    And Mom’s shrill tones
    Yelling, accusing.
    Frantic, I fall out of bed
    still shaking and sweating
    ice from being locked up
    Alone, last night in the attic.

    Hope crystallizes and evaporates
    I love yous and hugs do not exist
    Only the verbal machete, punctuated
    by blows from my own baseball bat.
    While somewhere, laughter echoes from
    A joke only I could not grasp.

    At school, peer pressure dealt me
    Another nerve-grating punch
    Piercing and curious eyes surveyed me
    But I said nothing, so they did not see.
    I was left fated to search faces
    for warmth, compassion
    Or the answer to Why?

    I have no idea
    what I have done
    Or how to alter my face
    Voice, laugh, cheekbones
    Eyes, expressions
    Interests and friends —
    Everything you despise.
    If only I had known how
    Hard living this life would be.

  15. Terry Gibson says

    Sorry everyone. I’m not feeling very well this weekend and seem to have posted my stuff in between other posts and responses to them. I’ll be more careful next time.

  16. says

    The truth about my life is this: I have failed a-gain
    I have allowed it,, again
    I have conjured it, a-gain
    I have stolen it, a-gain
    I am refusing to succeed, and following endeavors that i know will fail a-gain
    not exactly sure why I’m doing this–perhaps to keep liberating myself from that whole ridiculous “winning” thing (i mean, come on Charlie Sheen, really..)
    I come from a family of Charlie Sheens–really winning l-o-s-e-r-s (sorry to be so harsh but i’m not getting any younger..)
    now that i’ve lost–a-gain, perhaps i can stop
    The truth of my life is this: I know I can do anything I want and I’m still searching for what that is
    The truth of my life is this: I know I am on my path to find me but she is still a bit lost
    The truth of my life is this: I know that I am getting closer, with each breath, with each smile, with each tag, but it’s getting to feel scarier and scarier as I get closer and closer to the truth
    The truth is: i hope i never die, never live, never forget
    The truth is: i am a weapon of war; a mighty sword; an ancient continent
    The truth is: my life never turned out how I thought, but may actually end up a bit better
    The truth is: I have no idea what’s waiting for me,
    but I am waiting for it.
    come at me now darling, i think I am finally ready

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