Wings

birds-yellow-backgronud-photo-nature-flying-hd-wallpaper-jpgMend my clipped wings with

Needle and thread. Focus your careful eyes

So one stitch may tirelessly aligns the other.

Create the tops that were severed

Out of the silver tears that trickle down my cheeks.

Wings of saltwater. Wings of crystal.

Fly far above the crushing weight of water leaking

From the pools beneath my lids.

Deep caverns dug over times of pain

Crackling brooks whose explorations shaped

Veins of horror never to be remade.

Leaks become silk threaded atop so light.

Attached at the severed seam, transformed

To whole wings which my pain takes flight.

Worry

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Today is Monday. The surgery is Wednesday. Both breasts and potentially all the surrounding lymph nodes-gone. It is a big deal. We all know it. Things could go wrong. Things could go smoothly. There is no knowing. There is only waiting and more waiting. Trust and faith.   With the lymph nodes gone that means a lifetime of lymphedema. That means my mom’s arms will swell and she will have to drain the fluid from them manually. She will have to wear compression on her arms for the rest of her life. Imagine in the summer with the humidity and heat wearing long sleeve compression. It is worth it. That is what all the doctors say. We have gotten opinions from Stanford, Barns, St. Luke’s, and more. They all say you need to take it all. Why? Because my moms cancer is aggressive and has metastasized. That means you can’t take any chances. If you want your best chance for survival then you want the lymph nodes gone.   The breasts are another story. There isn’t even a question about whether to take them or not. My mom has three tumors in each. There is no way to save them. After removing the cancer there wouldn’t be any breast left. But unlike the lymph nodes, the breasts can be rebuilt. My mom’s chest has the potential to appear normal again. Never the same, but normal.

That is all just the logistical shit that has to be discussed and worried about for the surgery. Beneath is lies the heavy stuff. The how to deal with it all the logistic stuff. How about the tension between my parents. The way my dad won’t let my mom out of his sight. The way he treats her like a sick old women. The fact that my aunts, my grandpa and step grandma, and several cousins are coming to the hospital on Wednesday. How they are all acting as though we should buy my moms coffin now, that this is somehow a death sentence. How my mom has a special recovery room at the house. A space that I decorated. A space that I am praying will remain her own. She has enough people badgering her. She needs somewhere where the cancer doesn’t have to exist. How my mom is going to have tubes in her chest for two weeks. Tubes. You heard me right. Tubes stitch into her chest cavity draining blood and puss and fluid. How this is all so terrifying and slowly becoming more and more real. The dream like state that I have been in the past two weeks is slowly lifting as I start to see the truth behind this all. The truth being the magnitude of my mom’s situation. This is not just a scratch. This is a battle. A battle for survival. One in which none of us have any control over.

I just have to sit back and watch my mom suffer. Watch her as she shakes at the dinner table. Watch her as she panics when the doctor calls. Watch her tear up when she thinks about the surgery. Watch her eyes strain from the fear she is keeping bottled up inside. She is petrified. I can see it. I can sense it. I know because I am too and so is my dad and so is my brother and our friends and our family. We don’t know what the outcome of this all is going to be. No doctor can look us in the eyes and say that our mom, wife, sister, friend is going to make it. It is all a game of faith. Luckily that is something we all have plenty of. God can do miraculous things. At Celebrate Recovery on Saturday I shared about my mom’s cancer and was met by a story of supernatural healing. The woman leading the group told me that her mom was diagnosed with cancer stage four cancer and given 2-3 months to live. That was 20 years ago. God can do what he wants. I believe that. He has my mom. He has us all. It is simply a matter of trusting Him to handle everything.

This doesn’t, however, make the process easy. Faith simply makes it bearable. Nothing about your mom being sick is going to be easy. Nothing about it makes my recovery any easier. Not to make this about me, but realizing I am a component in this equation. An equation where nothing is making my urges any less. In fact, everything is turbulent right now. I am barely keeping my head up as the stormy waters are crashing all around me. My eating disorder tells me to punish myself. To make myself sick. To use behaviors as if somehow that is going to make this process lighter. That is merely a distraction, one that takes me away from truly being able to be there for my mom and yet one I am occasionally feeling forced to use. It is a slippery road to start down. It is a dark one, full of traps and obstacles. There is no outlet, only a cliff at the end marking a full-blown relapse. I recognize that. Isn’t that the first step? I just have to fight so damn hard right now to make any “right” decision. Because nothing feels “right” around me. I am surviving in turbulent waters, barely keeping myself afloat, and watching my family and friends struggle all around me to catch a breath of air, as well. What about that is acceptable? What about that feels safe? The answer is nothing. Yes, nothing feels okay right now.

Celebrate Recovery

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Today I went to celebrate recovery at a bilingual church. I didn’t know before getting there that this meeting was originally started for Spanish speaking people in the Chicago area. It actually wasn’t until about two years ago that they added the English section of the meeting. Upon arriving and seeing that everyone in the room was speaking Spanish, I cringed at how uncomfortable and out of place I felt among the fellowship. They were all Spanish, all older than me, and all could see that my friend and I were out of place. But my friend and I weren’t met by uncomfortable stares or awkward silence. Quite the opposite, we were welcomed into the room as if we were a part of this Spanish family. We were introduced to everyone right away, offered coffee and pastries, and were even given free t-shirts. I felt at home with this group after merely ten minutes of being in their presence. Which is a lot for me to say considering how quiet and closed off I normally am. But there was something about the air in the room, something about the way that these men and women worshiped and spoke about God that filled the space with supernatural warmth. I could feel God in the space. I could see God on these people’s faces. And for that reason, I felt at peace.

After fellowship with the whole group, we split into small groups. Men and women, Spanish and English were separated. That left my friend and I in a room with only two other women. After introducing ourselves we each began sharing what brought us to Celebrate Recovery this particular Saturday. This was when the Holy Spirit seemed to pour into the room and flood the space with words I desperately needed to hear. I shared about my mother’s cancer and was met by a reassuring testimony of one of the women’s mother’s miraculous healing from cancer twenty years earlier. I shared about feeling unable to open up and connect with people and was met by one of the women’s testaments to being a loner most of her life and how God had begun to grant her boldness. I shared about my insecurities and was met by a woman calling be stunningly beautiful. Needless to say that by the end of the small group time, I was overflowing with gratitude for the women around me. All of different races, different backgrounds, different ages, and yet all there on the common belief that God is the one that can grant us recovery and sanity from our struggles.

Then to seal the morning’s meeting I was bid goodbye by a series of warm and passionate hugs. It is particularly important for me to note the significance of this moment. Because of my history and fear of touch I would have refused a hug from anyone–let alone strangers– yet in this situation I was given no choice. After we prayed the woman across from me leaped up and engulfed me in a huge hug saying, “don’t be afraid to accept others love, Morgan. God wanted me to tell you that this morning.” It was in this moment, wrapped in this woman’s arms, that I felt like I could collapse under the weight of the spirit in the room. For these words were weighed down by the grace and love and healing of the Holy Spirit, given to me through a woman I hardly knew, in a moment I desperately needed to hear them.

All in all, what initial felt like it was going to be a horribly uncomfortable morning turned into a powerful experience of God’s love. So tonight as I am beginning to feel unworthy and unlovable again, I am clinging to the warmth that Celebrate Recovery brought to my heart this morning.

Thumping

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There is a thumping in my chest

Signaling the passing of time

As it leaks out of my hands

Like water pouring over my fingers.

There is a darkness that covers my pupils.

No one else can see it

So they are unaware of my blindness.

Blankness. Blackness. Blindness.

The thumping in my chest

Pulls me towards a bowl of illness.

Flashes of red tears,

Crimson marking cotton cloth.

I am no good. I have decided

To paint the bowl with layers

And layers and layers to show

Nesting parts, which I pretend to be.

Red and white chunks contrast nicely

I conclude as I pull the silver knob,

And watch as my insides spiral downward

Into another realm of nothingness.

Hollow

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My stomach is churning butter.

I carry the weight of my,

Existence on broken arms.

The air is a cloud of toxic smoke

That forcibly engulfs

Me in a blanket of haze.

It plays with my mind. Until it spins like a top and

Becomes like a bowling ball thrown at crystal.

 Shatter.

A million hollow pieces.

Scramble to get far, far away.

Until I am teetering on one foot atop a flagpole

Where the cold winds are hardwearing

And I slowly freeze from the inside out.

Icicles form around my lungs.

Soon my soul will die inside my chest

And I will, too, become as the crystal.

            Shattered.

                        Into a million hollow pieces.

Renewals

I will never be a survivor because I will never claim victim-hood. To claim victim-hood is to place blame upon the people I love the most. Betrayal is not the constraints that keep me from holding the possibility of fault, rather my principles on which I base my existence. Principles, which govern the ideals that beauty may be made from ashes and forgiveness is dealt so that we are no longer chained to the mistakes of our pasts.And after many years of struggling with the concept of fault, I believe I have decided blame does not have to be laid for me to grow. I can bury the blame beneath me and allow it to transform from a nasty, thorny, lumpy seed once lodged in my deep recesses of my soul into a magical tree with a canopy that showers dewdrops tasting of promises.

Blame is a nasty thing that keeps me set apart from others who have experienced traumas. Not because I am high and mighty and won’t bring the word to voice, but because I don’t believe the word is significant. I won’t sit in a group and speak of the things others have done wrong. Not because I don’t find them hurtful, not because I am not effected by others actions, but because I don’t want to connect through the pains others have dealt me. I don’t want to turn to a woman in a group room and share about one of my spear wounds only to have her cry and show me hers too. I want to share about how that spear wound is now only a scare and no longer bleeding or causing me pain. That is true, viable connection. One in which I can partake in.

To keep talking about fault, to keep talking about hurt, to keep talking about the details of what happened to me each year of my childhood is not going to offer me any hope. I need hope that this seed of blame and fault is no longer lodged in my chest cavity, that it no longer brings me agonizing pain, that it no longer dictates my life. I need hope that forgiveness was dealt to me and how can I expect such a thing if I can’t, for myself, offer it to those who have hurt me.Hurt does not override my experiences and it will not keep me from loving those who have done wrong. Hurt is a sensation that signals the need for healing and it is one of my principles by which I believe in the supernatural renewal of relationships. Where there is hurt there is room for rebirth and in rebirth a new life with new relationships is dealt, separate from the old and broken self.

This means that those I love I can continue to love, and through the continuation of love I will find a canopy over top of us which allows our relationship to be protected and held in the dewdrops shed from the eyes of our creator. I can forgive them because I believe forgiveness is the key to shatter the old ways and create new. So like I said I will never be a survivor because I don’t believe I was ever a victim. Rather, I believe I am component of a larger masterpiece.

Wigs

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There is nothing like the pain of watching someone you love suffer. It hits you straight in the chest leaving you breathless lying on the floor, curled up in a blanket, sobbing into your pillow with the lights off and your door closed, praying that your roommate can’t hear your cries, but simultaneously hoping she does so that someone can bear witness to the heartbreak you are experiencing.

I can say that I have never cried so hard, that I have never been so afraid, that I have never been so disconnected with my surroundings as I have been this week. Last Friday I got the hysterical call from my mom. The one saying that the doctors thought she had breast cancer. The call that knocked the wind out of me, leaving me heaving on a stranger’s couch breathless and numb. That was only a week ago. Since then I have survived the agonizing days of waiting, of more waiting, and more waiting. I have survived three days of staring at my phone praying for it to ring with the results to the biopsies, but not wanting to pick it up because I was too afraid to hear my mom’s voice, to hear bad news, to hear the sounds of pain.

On Wednesday the call with the results came. It was quick.

“It is all bad news,” my mom told me, “Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. All three tumors.”

And that was the end of it. I hung up the phone, numb and unsure of what was to come next. I made the 20-minute walk home incredibly dizzy, praying the entire time that I wouldn’t faint on the sidewalk. It was the strangest sensation. Everything around me was moving so fast, yet I felt that I couldn’t even pick up my legs. I felt like I wasn’t moving at all. Frozen in the moment that my mom spoke the word, “cancer”. Such a common word that I had heard a thousand times before. It was a word that had touched numerous people in my life. It was a word that had taken numerous people from my life. And yet, to hear the word come from my mom, it suddenly felt so foreign and unreal like it wasn’t even a part of the English language.

My mom comes with so much. My mom is entangled in me. My mom is a part of me in so more ways than I can explain. Then to have a part of oneself be threatened is terrifying. I can’t loose my mom. The thought is unbearable. So I have put it away from my mind. She is going to be okay. She is going to get through this. What I also can’t do is watch her suffer. Yet, in spending today with her it became apparent to me that that inescapable. I will have to endure her pain as well as mine. It must be part of the process.

Today we went wig shopping. But it was no ordinary wig shop. It is called Chrysalis Custom Hair and it is specifically for women with cancer. The woman who runs the place only meets with one client at a time to ensure their privacy and comfort. The appointment takes anywhere from 2-3 hours. For us, we veered on the three-hour side.

Our appointment was at 3:30. I missed my work shift to go with my mom. I felt that this was more important. After arriving, we sat down to hear a bit about what was about to happen. My mom’s hair color was going to be matched. Then several wigs would be tried on. My mom would assess them for comfort. After picking a match for color and comfort, the wig would be cut to match my mom’s current hairstyle. While the wig was being cut on a mannequin head, my mom would pick out caps, mainly for sleeping and hanging out around the house. You don’t think much about it, but without hair your head would get really cold.

This was the part that it all started to sink in. Because it was here when my mom started beating herself up for how strange and lumpy her head looked with all her hair pinned back. When my mom started saying things like “I have never looked worse” or “people are going to think I am an alien”. This was when my heart started to feel like a thousand pounds inside my chest. And, I started to feel dizzying like I did on Wednesday. And, I suddenly felt incredibly inept to deal with the magnitude of what was going to be happening to my mom.

My mom isn’t going to have hair for two or more years. She is going to loose something near and dear to any woman’s heart. She is going to be cold and self-conscious. She is going to have to wash and dry and maintain hair that isn’t even hers, but instead a wig. She is going to have to wear caps to bed. She is going to be sick. Very sick for a very long time. And even with all the chemo and surgery there is still the possibility….

…I can’t even let my mind go there…

There is nothing like the pain of watching someone you love suffer.

A Map

Lines

1. Bubbles

A bubble in the midst of chaos,

Impenetrable by fear or anxiety.

Chaos around: honk, rustle, talk: calm within,

A safe haven of sorts.

The bubble is burst when boundaries are broken.

A slimy clear liquid secretes all around.

Soaked. Cold. Wet. The calmness exists somewhere

But not here.

Too close is another beating heart

Whose anxious energy leaks to my side of the bench.

Back away slowly…carefully…

Pretend to Disappear.

If you believe strong enough,

Fully enough

Things may come true.

Believe and you may achieve.

Such metaphorical bullshit when rooted in reality.

Nothing goes as planned

Chaos overrides and dominates existence.

Accept that and you may achieve.

2. Frogs

Place two on this god-forsaken journey.

Crouched like a frog,

Not seated because the earth doesn’t allow that.

No sun reaches here and I grow evermore cynical

With each passing moment.

I am surrounded by nature yet

Dominated by noise: horrible, maddening noise.

Perceived or true? I could not say.

I know nothing these days.

How could I? In a process of waiting.

Limbo more accurately

No ground to rely on.

I must remain crouched.

The noise is the croaking of my throat signally

My readiness to pounce, to flee, to run.

Nothing is certain.

Except perhaps the sun does not come down here.

3. Trees

A canopy over top and a nightmare within.

They tell me I am held, protected in love.

That love is bigger, transcends.

It is fucking messed up.

Life, circumstance. Canopy or not, no one can guarantee security.

I live in turbulent waters

With nothing more than a life jacket.

Sometimes I am pulled under

And love can’t do shit to save me.

My lungs become filled with the saltwater of my tears.

Trees once offered me peace. I don’t know that word anymore.

Just characters, shapes in space taking up space.

They mean nothing.

Meaningless: trees and noise and thoughts and love.

I am rendering them all meaningless.

4. Vanity

The trees are taller over here.

They tower over my head.

When I look up I feel powerful because

The trees look powerful. They are

Skinny.

That makes me angry because I used to be thin,

But they sent me away and filled my hollow body.

Made my shell a person again.

Now I am not sick and my mom is and

The world makes no sense to me.

It appears like a mirror reflecting

My own pathetic weaknesses back to me.

I see it!

God damn it, I see it!

I wish I could reach out and shatter the glass,

But you can’t shatter your existence.

Believe me. I tried.

No matter how unstable life may become,

You are irreversibly fused and have been since the day

You enter this topsy turvy world.

Just because you breathed, no power can separate you two.

5. Time

The ticking of the clock is driving me insane.

I want to get up and violently rip the batteries out

And smash the stupid glass frame.

Stop talking! No one wants to hear your voice.

It is so irritating and nasally.

My life is a vortex.

It has transported me to this room with couches.

A woman with a badge forces me to eat.

Eating is a chore. It makes me exhausted

And sore

Like I have just run the Chicago marathon.

I miss the trees and I am angry to be trapped inside this box.

The woman with the badge has encouraged

Me to put away my notebook. I glare at her and keep writing.

Fuck you.

Leave me alone.

My life is in shambles.

My mom has cancer.

The my inner workings are reflected in the ticking of the clock.

A time bomb,

That at any moment may

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