Choose Wisely

I wrote this a few months into my first romantic relationship in almost 20 years, my first romantic relationship with a woman, and the first romantic relationship I’d ever entered while still married to my husband. One night, struggling through immense fear and anxiety about whether we could make it all work, I found myself asking: How could I bear to face such an uncertain future?
This was my answer to myself…

–Choose Wisely—

I’ve heard it said that pain is unavoidable,
and if we evade the pain of one thing, we invite the pain of something else.
I cannot know what pain may lie in store for me,
but this is what I do know:
I can determine what it will accomplish.
I can choose my suffering wisely.
I’ve heard it said that anger
and fear
and grief
can be formed into the very things that nurture
faith
and hope
and love.
I cannot know how this will end,
but this is what I do know:
I can use this relationship to bring forth what darkness lies hidden in myself
and what light lies buried within her.

I’ve heard it said our goals determine our results,
and if you change your focus, you can change your life.
I cannot see through a lens into my future,
but this is what I do know:
I can shift my focus.

Rather than seek love, I can give it.
Rather than seek comfort, I can pursue growth.
Rather than seek answers, I can ask questions.
What can I do to make her feel beautiful?
What can I do to make her feel loved?
What can I do to help her see the good in herself she might not otherwise see?
And how can I use this time to help her live a better life,
both now and in the future,
whether that future includes me or not?

From this place,
with these goals,
I lay aside my fears.
And whatever the future holds,
whatever pain may lie in store,
however, whenever this ends,
I will know my suffering served a purpose.
I will have chosen wisely.

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Onsra

Regarding the inspiration which led to her song Love Me Anyway, Pink once said: “I’m a hard person to be in a relationship with. I have a really high bar for myself and a really high bar for others. That makes it very difficult to love me, and that’s where the song comes from. If I’m all of these things, are you still going to be able to love me? Are you going to be able to handle this? Are you going to stay? Are you going to be with me? I’m impossible. Can you love me through all of that? Can you love me through all of my mistakes?” This poem is part of a larger work, written during a time when I was struggling with the number of people who have, at one time or another, labeled me as “too” something (too sensitive, too intense, too cerebral, too impulsive, think too much, read too much, write too much, etc.) and felt overwhelmed by the thought that I may never find “the one.” Again borrowing from another language, the title of this comes from a boro word used to describe the bittersweet feeling that occurs in those who know their love won’t last…

Maybe there IS no “one.”
Maybe nothing is forever.
Maybe love is something we ought to give, over and over again,
Without condition.
Without reservation.
Without expectation.
So today I ask myself:
Can I be brave?
Can I allow those I love to come and go?
Can I experience the passion,
The joy,
The overwhelming sacredness of connection,
Without asking for the security of commitment?

Rina Marie

30 days of Poetry, Day 27

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I Want

I want to be the one who knows you.
Your likes and dislikes,
your preferences,
and your little idiosyncrasies.
I want to be the one you can talk to
about anything and everything
without fear of judgment.
I want to be the one you run to when you’re sad
and laugh with when you’re happy.
I want to know all your favorite foods
and how to cook them
just the way you like them.
I want to take you to all your favorite places
and do all your favorite things with you.
I want to grow a garden with all your favorite flowers
and paint pictures for you
and surround you with beauty.
I want you to make me curse
and yell
and laugh
and cry
with the fullness of your emotions
without fear they’ll ever be too much.
(they’ll never be too much.)
I want to dance with you in the kitchen
and sing with you in the shower
and laugh with you in the bed.
I want to kiss your neck while we’re folding laundry
and rub your back while we’re watching TV
and brush your arm as you pass me in the hallway.
I want to fold your sheet back just the way you like it
and put your laundry right-side-out
and save you the last of the cereal.
I want to walk your dog
and wash your socks
and help you find your keys (again.)
I want your clothes on my bed,
and your hair in my drain,
and the dishes you never wash cluttering my sink.
I want you to steal my covers
and put your cold feet between my legs
so I can keep them warm.
I want to leave gifts on your nightstand,
so they’re the first thing you see
when you wake in the morning
and love notes on your pillow
so they’re the last thing you see
as you fall asleep each night.
I want to rearrange all the clothes in your closet
and all the food in the cupboards
every now and then,
just to drive you a little bit crazy.
I want to work to make you smile,
every single day,
for the rest of my life.

Rina Marie

30 days of Poetry, Day 26

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Two Years of Journaling in a Nutshell

Someone told me recently that writers tend to present their best selves in their work, so I thought today I would invite you into my crazy and publish a little peek into my not-so-great self.
Elizabeth Gilbert once wrote that her mind is a dangerous neighborhood: “I have a particularly muscular storytelling instinct, but the dark side of my gift is that my mind is also capable of generating terrible, frightening, life-annihilating stories about myself and about the world. I can scare the living shit out of myself, and—in the process—destroy my life.” I can relate to this, and often use my journal as a place to work through all my crazy so it doesn’t see the light of day. This “poem” is taken entirely from journal entries and actual thoughts I had over the span of an almost two-year relationship with the first woman I ever dated…

She called me twice; I feel so loved! She didn’t answer my text; I feel like she doesn’t care. She wrote me a card; I feel so appreciated! She got off the phone early; I feel so rejected. Does she want to talk to me? Does she want to see me? Does she want to be with me? Does she love me? I worry she thinks I’m demanding. I worry I may be too much. I worry she will get tired of me. I worry I’m doing something wrong and don’t know what. Why hasn’t she kissed me? Why is she sitting so far away? Why won’t she hold my hand? Why am I so damn sensitive? I am so sad. I am so happy. I am so blessed. I am so hurt. Why did she say that? Why did she do that? Why is she so quiet? Why did she make that face? Is she angry? Is she happy? Is she sure? Is she confused? I’m afraid I’ve come on too strong. I’m afraid I’m not doing enough. I’m afraid this is limerence and not love.
I’m afraid I love her too much. When is she going to text? When is she going to visit? When is she going to tell people about us? When is she going to take the next step with me? I worry I overwhelm her. I worry I bore her. I worry she’s only with me because I make her feel loved. I worry she’s going to leave me because I make her feel like crap. Where has she been? Where is she going? Where does she want to be? Where do I fit into her life? I want her to be free. I want her to commit. I want, more than anything, to be her friend. I want, more than anything, to be her partner. Who is she talking to? Who is she visiting? Who is in that picture? Who is she sharing that with? How do I love her as she is? How do I accept things for what they are? How do I make her happy? How do I know what to do? What does she want? What does she feel? What does she see in me? What do I have to offer? I feel like I can’t tell her anything. I feel like I tell her too much. I feel like I’m not good enough. I feel like I would be perfect for her…
If it weren’t for the fact that I’m me.

Rina Marie

30 days of poetry, Day 25

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Evergreen/Chiaroscuro

*The shorter version of this poem (found below entitled Chiaroscuro,) and this one are excerpts from the larger work entitled Evergreen that I have since submitted for Tell Her Summit’s upcoming Anthology Pause and Pivot. I’m sharing both here, mostly for posterity’s sake so that I can look back and remember what, exactly, I posted for the challenge.

 

—Evergreen—

All my life, I’ve been told I’m “too.”

Too sensitive, too intense,
Too emotional, too chaotic,
Too idealistic, too impulsive,
Think too much, read too much, write too much.

And today I realize that my desire to be liked,
My constant seeking of assurance,
My need to understand,
My need to be understood,
My attempts to fit in,
My longing to belong,
It all makes me small.
It makes me forget who I am.
Who I want to be.

I restrict the number of dreams I share, for fear I’ll seem obsessive.
I censor every thought I share, for fear I’ll seem absurd.
Every time I’m faced with a blank page,
I’m certain I have nothing left that’s meaningful to tell.
Every time I’m faced with a blank canvas,
I’m terrified today will be the day I’ve forgotten how to paint.
I’ve created entire galleries of unshared art,
And composed entire studios of unshared photos,
Certain none of it is worth reflecting the light in someone’s eyes.
I’ve written entire books of unshared poetry,
And entire libraries of unshared chapters,
Which never escape the binding of my journals for fear that I’ll be chastised once again.

A friend advises me to “stop reading such depressing things,”
Not understanding that from the bottom of the valley
I most clearly see the stars.
Another suggests that I “stop picking at scabs,”
Not understanding I’m not tearing my wounds, I’m sewing them closed,
And the needle which hurts also heals.
Another chides me, shouting: “Just be positive!”
Not seeing that I am.
But my dark is equal to my light,
And no tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell,*
And I intend that every one of my branches be full
And tall
And wide enough
To become the billion pages
Of all the books
And all the poems
And all the paintings
I’ll someday use to scale the sky.

We’re all growing,
Stretching,
Reaching for clouds,
Dropping our leaves with the fall of our faith
And budding again with the spring of new hope,
Trying so damn desperately to belong
That we haven’t yet learned how to stay evergreen.
But if the only place we ever belong is to ourselves,
And the only peace we ever make is with ourselves,
It is enough.
It is everything.

Rina Marie
(*Carl Jung)

 

.

.

The title of this poem comes from an Italian word which describes the use of strong contrasts between light and dark to achieve a sense of volume. The underlying principle of chiaroscuro is that solidity of form is best achieved by the areas of light and dark falling against it…

I had a friend who once advised me to stop reading “such depressing things,” not understanding that from the bottom of the valley I most clearly see the stars.
I had a friend who once suggested I stop “picking at scabs,”
not understanding I’m not tearing my wounds, I’m sewing them closed,
and the needle which hurts also heals.
I had a friend who once chastised me, shouting “Just be positive!”
Not seeing that I am.
But my dark is equal to my light
And no tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell,*
And I intend that every one of my branches be full
and tall
and wide enough
to become the billion pages
of all the books
and all the poems
and all the paintings
I’ll someday use to scale the sky.

Rina Mare
(*Carl Jung)

30 days of Poetry, Day 24

Inspired by the poem Panic Button Collector by Andrea Gibson.

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Submission for National Poetry Month

Hello, friends, I need your help! Those who are participating in Tell Her Summit’s 30 day poetry challenge have been invited to submit ONE poem from the challenge for something special they’re putting together (we don’t know what, yet.) I’ve narrowed it down to four and would love help choosing between them. Please leave a comment here, or on facebook, or email me at [email protected] with your choice. If you’re willing, please also let me know WHY the poem you choose is your favorite. This will help me in my decision.

Thanks so much!

 

—It’s Okay To Leave—

It is okay to leave people
Who don’t inspire you
Who make you feel less like yourself
Who can’t help you become all you dream of being.
It is okay to leave people
If their presence will keep you from sharing the way you want to
Or living the way you want to
Or loving the way you want to.
It’s okay to leave people
If they make you question things that matter most
Or doubt who you are and want to be
Or feel bad about yourself
Even just a little.
It’s okay to leave people
When staying will crush your soul.


—Making Love—

Barriers down, clothes off
Body and mind exposed
Trusting you’ll meet me in tenderness
Turning to the fullness of you in welcome and reverence
Embracing your heart with my own
Entwining my spirit with yours
Communing with a language more than words
Caressing all within a single touch
Breaching the boundaries of our bodies
Breaking beyond all barriers
Till our souls meet within that ancient circle
And we know the ecstasy of recognition
And drink from the wellspring of the deepest love


—Evergreen—

We’re all growing,
stretching,
reaching for clouds,
dropping our leaves with the fall of our faith
and budding again with the spring of new hope;
trying so damn desperately to belong
that we haven’t yet learned how to stay evergreen.
But if the only place we ever belong is to ourselves,
and the only peace we ever make is with ourselves,
it is enough.
It is as it should be.


—To Those I’ve Loved
And Will Love—

Show me what you like reflected in the mirror
and what you hate
and what you’re proud of
and what you try to hide.
Show me the clothes you’ve bought but never worn because the colors are too bright
and the patterns are too gaudy
and the sequins are too shiny,
but you can’t bring yourself to part with.
Show me the journals where you write your darkest secrets
and the storyboards that hold your biggest dreams
and the lyrics to all your favorite songs
and the poems and pictures and paintings that you’ve never shared.

I want to know your doubts and where they came from,
your beliefs and how you’ve nurtured them,
your fears and what they’re made of,
your courage and what has given you the strength you’ve needed when you’ve felt you can’t go on.
I want to know what makes your heart soar
and makes it fall,
which parts of you are numb
and which are excruciatingly, agonizingly tender.
I want to know what you’re proud of
and what you’re ashamed of,
what you brag too much about,
and what you’ve never told a single soul.
I want to know where you’ve been inflicted by pain
and where you’ve inflicted it on others,
the ways you’ve been hated
and the ways you’ve been hateful,
and what scars are left from all the hurting and the healing.

Give me your fractures and your lesions,
your gaping lacerations,
your bruises, bites, and burns,
your open heart bleeding red with the wounds of everything that’s ever threatened to destroy you
and beating crimson with the vitality of everything you’ve ever had to overcome

And I will wrap them in my love so truly and so tenderly perhaps someday you’ll understand:
That scars are just tattoos which tell a better story
and shadows are the very things which emphasize the light
and you, my love, my life, my dark, my light,
my brilliant perfection, my terrible mess,
You.
Are a masterpiece.

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I Listened

I see a lot of people talking right now about quarantine weight gain. We’re posting funny memes and joking about how we’re going to roll out of our homes when all this is over, and I get it. There is a certain amount of tragic humor in the fact that so many of us are stress eating right now and many of us (myself included) are gaining weight we’ve worked hard to lose or keep at bay. But I share this today in hopes that we’ll all take a moment to remember: Our children are listening… 

They asked me why.
Why did I start purging food?
And taking diet pills?
And gulping laxatives?
And swallowing sleeping medicine each day after school
just to keep from eating?
Why did I carve an “A” for “anorexia” into my wrist?
An insignia.
A reminder,
A hope for a new identity?

Why?
Why?
Why?

Because…

I listened.

When you asked if the clothes made you look fat,
I listened.
And learned that “fat” was ugly.

When you said your breasts were too small, thighs too big, and arms too flabby,
I listened.
And learned that beauty has a standard.

When you praised your latest weight loss diet,
I listened.
And learned that food was an enemy.

When you praised me for losing weight,
I listened.
And learned that attractiveness only comes in certain sizes.

When you asked “am I thinner than her?” I listened.
And learned to compare myself to others by the measuring stick of “thin.” When you dismissed the opinions of “ugly” women,
I listened.
And learned that only the attractive deserve to be heard.

When you called her “hot” and hung on every word,
I listened.
And learned that beauty is the currency with which to buy respect.

When you said she was too heavy to win the race, play the lead, join the team,
I listened.
And learned that only the thin are capable.

When you said you’d “never date that fatty,” I listened.
And learned that only the beautiful were desirable.

When you said he couldn’t have raped her because she was ugly,
I listened.
And learned that, to even the basest of men, only the beautiful are desirable.

I listened.
And lived my life accordingly.

 

Rina Marie

30 days of Poetry, Day 23

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