Emotional Instability

Emotional people are amazing. Some cry during movies because they are vulnerable to let even fictional empathy pull at their heart strings. They are the people who see you suffering even when you think no one can understand. They are the people who genuinely say, “You are not alone.”

I am emotional, and I wish I could help others feel loved, but something gets in my way. It’s a burner that gets ignited by criticism or even imagined opposition. It is emotional instability, and it often appears as egotism or narcissism to other people.

I blame my emotional instability for just about every failure I can remember. Whether I was smart enough or strong enough never held me back. It was always a wave of anxiety that took over my impulses, threw caution to the wind, and burned the bridges I had carefully built.

This year, for example, I had the profound honor to serve as president of a local club. I was floored by the opportunity. I felt like a little kid sitting on my father’s lap in our 1980’s station wagon, trying to reach the 2 and 10 positions of the steering wheel. I was most certainly promoted beyond my skill level while being given a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow.

I would like to believe I did at least a few things in the last year that someone will remember positively. Most important to me, I took the position to help my best friend live her dream of leading the club as Vice President. She was hesitant and fearful the more experienced members of the club would not respect her and stifle her efforts. I volunteered to take the reigns of the club to ensure she had every door open to her. And, she lived up to my faith. Her contributions to the club and reputation are higher than either of us imagined. She booked for the club some of its best contributors in recent history.

I won’t be remembered fondly by everyone. I was crass on a few occasions. I was hard on at least one volunteer, and even though the rest of the board fully supported and mostly agreed with my actions regarding that one volunteer, I still reflect on that experience and wish I had not spewed quit as much vitriol.

Bridges have been burned in every club primarily because of my emotional instability. I have been kicked out of church groups, brought shame upon my family, and I am sure I am on more than one list for people to never talk to again.

I am embarrassed and haunted by every time I have put my foot in my mouth and for every relationship I have ruined.

So, why am I airing this dirty laundry?

I believe others can feel alienated by their emotional instability as well. If you feel alone, I want you to know that you aren’t alone at all. You are not uniquely unloveable or flawed. Your emotions are welcome and loved. The instability is the part to improve upon. Know there are people who believe in you now, just as you are. They also believe you can stabilize your emotions.

I don’t know you, but I believe we can all, with the right approach, stabilize our emotions. And when we do, I believe there is a world of joy and intimacy waiting for us with arms wide open.

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I Will Do The Same

When all you want is out of reach
And everything you once believed
Falls away like leaves from trees
Trampled in bits beneath their feet
Know this is not how your story ends

When the bare walls are closing in
And you think everyone you once loved
Has turned their back and run
Leaving you crowded in loneliness
Know this is not how your story ends

When the seasons tear down your dreams
and loneliness spoils nearly everything
When your shattered mind is your darkest fear
And you run from the kaleidoscope of terror
Spinning incessantly between your ears
Know this is not how your story ends

Hold on with all you are
I promise you
I will do the same

When your feelings are crashing waves
Toppling each other to kiss the shore
Pulling back in search for more
Know they shape the landscape of tomorrow
Tonight is not when your story ends

Because you aren’t as broken as you think
And if you are, you’re broken just right
To me, you’re a desperately needed light
A beacon calling is bravely into tomorrow
Tonight is not when our story ends

Hold on with all you are
I promise you
I will do the same

Key

Having that key
meant more to me
than just a way in.

It represented
a bond between us
considered permanent.

Were my desires
such an abomination;
such a threat?

Did you have to
banish me that way;
taking back your key?

A Thousand Laughs You Couldn’t Hear

My mind fills with memories
as you talk at me.

You talk at me.

You don’t talk to me,
nor with me,
but you have,
evidently,
talked about me.

While you ramble on and on,
my mind fills with memories
of the joy I’ve felt,
of the adventures I’ve had
and the people with whom I’ve danced,
of the fears I’ve boldly faced
and of how this beautiful woman
at whom you now assume to speak
blossomed into life and love.

I found myself
while you were too busy,
or simply saw no need
to pick up your phone
or hop on a plane
to join in my happiness.

You are too late,
and your efforts are too trivial.

Worse than that,
your approach is all wrong,
which you would know
as clear as day
if you had, at any time,
simply asked me
how I felt
or what I wanted.

Offering to help me run
from my responsibilities,
wanting me to give up
on my fantasy cafe;
to make myself a liar
or a hypocrite
by insisting I entertain
your selfish solutions to
problems not your own,
I find the taste and smell
of this one-way dialogue
does nothing but
distract me from my joy.

So, before you ask
me to sever ties with others,
or to choose another over you,
ask yourself how many times
in recent history
you have made me laugh
or brought a smile to my face.

Ask yourself if, in my place,
you would rather have silence,
loneliness and indifference
or if you would choose
with a clear conscious
and with complete confidence
the people who have made you
laugh a thousand times
and who only want you
to laugh a million more.

You aren’t in my thoughts
as you were never there
the thousand times I’ve laughed
throughout this last year.
I understand you’ve heard
I’ve shed a few tragic tears,
and I appreciate your conviction
that I should never hurt,
but I live and love those
who love me enough to listen
to the yearnings of my heart,
who relentlessly cheer me on
each and every day.

I am sad you aren’t in
any of my fond memories.
I wish you were willing
to join in my happiness,
to participate in my joy.
I want to invite you
to be a part of my life,

but I still can’t get a word in.

Bus Stop Stories

We met last week
at this bus stop.
Even then, you were old.
Gray hair pinned up
in a bee hive.
Cart full of plastic bags
doubling as a walker.
You were digging for bus fare
or for your seniors-ride-free card,
I presumed.

I didn’t say hello.
I didn’t think to ask
about your search.
I just stood there
at a safe distance
staring at you;
being strange.

In the street,
too close to traffic
I looked up the street impatiently
hoping to make the bus come faster
if only I could see it
a mile away.

That’s when
I first heard your voice.
Sweet like honey,
but charcoaled with age.
You reminded me
we had five more minutes.
William, the driver,
we was always on time.

Oh, okay.
I shuffled up the curb
and stood back from you
where I could go on staring
at a safe distance;
being strange.

Did you know you had beetles
crawling out of the caverns of your flesh?
Did those scurrying past your lips
taste like anything I would recognize?
Were they your pets,
or a medical condition?
Were you on your way
to the vet or to the doctor
to get your beetles checked?

William opened the door
When the bus finally arrived.
He welcomed you aboard
with familiarity and joy.
He didn’t even ask for
your seniors-ride-free card.
He knew your name
and didn’t mind you riding
without proof you’d paid.

At me, he just scowled
as I stood there on the curb
hoping for my joyful welcome.
His eyes lit on fire just before
the bus became a giant earthworm
turning to devour me in a single gulp.
William became that little punching bag
hanging at the back of a throat
gaping behind six rows of sharp teeth
dripping with putrid saliva
and closing perilously in on me,
drowning out my helpless screams.

Anyway, that’s why
I ran off screaming
that first time we met.
Nothing personal.
I hope we can still be
complete strangers
waiting for the bus.
I’ll just stay over here
at a safe distance;
being strange.

Imperfections

Indentations in a carpet
where time got away
while cancer undetected
crawled on little spider legs
deeper into her bones

Middle C sticks just enough
throwing off the pianist’s rhythm
distorting the practiced sound
a leaf blower echoes in dreams
while earth dies a slow death

Whispered fantasies
into an aluminum can
across taut string
through strange ears
deaf for twenty years

Indentations
stick just long enough
for time to get away,
throwing rhythm off and
distorting practiced sounds
the deaf will never hear

A Love Story

Hand-in-hand we walked together
laughing and talking all the way.
Your fragrance wafted up to me,
pulling me helplessly to you.

You stopped to smell a rose
growing in a stranger’s yard.
You smiled, bounced, and squeed
in childlike delight.

Impulsively, I plucked the rose
and picked the thorns from the stem.
I presented it as a loving gesture
as if I hadn’t just stolen it from another.

Could you smell the intention and care
the gardener had taken to grow that rose?
Did it smell like a prize-worthy flower
plucked days before it would win its prize?

Was there any way I could have known
I was ruining someone’s passion
by thoughtlessly taking a single rose
for our selfish pleasure?

True romance cannot only be about us.
We must consider those around us,
loving and caring even for strangers
as we selflessly serve one another.

In retrospect, I could have loved you more
By leaving the rose where we found it,
bringing you back to smell it joyfully
until the gardener, or nature, took it away.

That rose–
that selfish love–
it was not ours to take.