“What Else but The Self?” — A poem

“What Else but The Self?”

A poem by T. LaReveur

 

I picked up a cheap copy of

“Self-Reliance and Other Essays”

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

the other day it caught my eye

the term “Self-Reliance” and

I thought how could I not read this

at such a time in my life I don’t have

a book to turn to that can give me

at least an illusion of security

no the Bible cannot fill that role for me

not now maybe later but not now

no I don’t have a person to turn to not now

to give me words of comfort words that

can actually ring in my ears for more than

a moment nobody now to hold me and tell me that

things will be okay I don’t know

if I would believe them

anyway how could I

and so self-reliance seems the only maybe

answer in this forsaken forsaken existence and

Ralph Waldo Emerson I recall did not

die a Christian a fact which at one point

made me distance myself from his words but

now his ungodliness shines like a halo and draws me in

he knows a godless life he ruled his own

life and I wonder how did that work

for him perhaps it is worth taking a peek

for myself could it work for me because

I have only self-reliance left

to try anyway right so here I give the dice

just one more roll and I flip open

the pages “I read the other day

some verses…”

…………………………………

As always,

Tanya

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Gasping for air in the (sub)conscious

Life is pretty fucking insane, man.

………………………………………………………………………………………..

I’m not someone who gets really superstitious about, or obsessed with, dreams. I do not believe that my dreams secretly hold the key to me as a person, to my life, to my understanding of the future. That said, I find dream fascinating, and I do believe they can tell us humans just a little bit about what is going on below the surface of our oh-so-complicated minds. Dreams are a rare and valuable glance into the subconscious.

Early yesterday morning I had a dark, unsettling dream. “Nightmare” is an appropriate term to use in this case. This nightmare began in a large hallway, or a sort of complex of hallways. Picture a high school lobby, with a large space that eventually separates in different directions. I was standing in the middle of this hall/lobby space, surrounded by people. It was crowded, crowded to the point at which basic movements and maneuvers of the body became difficult. So many people.

It was ok, though, it was uncomfortable but safe… until suddenly it wasn’t safe anymore. A commotion erupted out of nowhere. People started to panic, they squirmed as they tried in vain to move and run. I heard shouting. Looking to my right, I saw officers of some sort rushing through the crowd. They were pushing past the panic of people, trying to get to some doors somewhere. These officers had, hoisted over their shoulders, dark and heavy body bags. The weight of the lifeless, zipped into black, moved with them. Commotion continued to evolve. People continued to panic. I panicked. I tried to push forward in the crowd. I do not know what I was attempting to reach, but I was intent on reaching it. The people around me got closer and closer, tighter and tighter, and moving became harder and harder. Suddenly bodies started to fall into me, knocking me to the ground. I tried to stay standing but could not.

The bodies were too many and too heavy, and I was too weak. I raised my hand up toward the ceiling light, somehow trying to grasp at air and freedom and life, but my hand fell, and the bodies around me closed off my window of vision. I realized suddenly that I could not breathe. I could not move. I was dying, quickly. Weakness, heaviness, darkness enveloped me.

Terror filled me. Sheer helpless terror.

“This is my last breath. My life is over. I am dead.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I woke up in a panic. Disoriented, I struggled to accept the reality that I was not dead or dying. Turning on my bedside lamp and taking a sip of water did not jolt me back to “life” as quickly as I had hoped they would. I was as safe as ever in my bed, in my house, in the quiet green neighborhood hidden from the highway. But the dream– the nightmare– had felt so real, perhaps more real than any dream I have ever had before.

Overanalyzing this dream will not do me any favors. That said, I think it is appropriate to make the inference that my having a nightmare of this nature, during a period of my life in which I really feel I am drowning, is not mere coincidence.

The subconscious is funny, no?

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

As always,

Tanya

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Digging Up Dark Roots, Part One: “Trigger Year”

Currently I am seeing my therapist three times a week. Three times is a lot. I explained to her that I feel a substantial amount of shame over seeing a mental health professional this frequently. “It is like my seeing you three times a week says that I cannot handle my anxiety and depression on my own, that I have some big bad issues I seriously need help with.” She looked at me pointedly and said “Well you can’t handle your anxiety and depression on your own.” I shifted my weight uncomfortably in my seat. I wanted to scowl. Clearly, the truth is that no, I cannot handle my anxiety and my depression on my own. This is a conclusion, however, that I cannot stand to accept. I have a strong aversion to any statement of this sort, one that implies a major lack of perfection and stability on my behalf. “Maybe you do have some big issues”, my therapist suggested. Again, I felt discomfort contort my mind and body. “I just can’t handle that,” I explained. “I am not able to entertain that idea. If I do have some big issues, then I need to get to work pronto to clean them up and fix them, make myself perfect. They can’t be there, those problems. They are simply unlivable.”

Where did my obsession with perfection come from? Why is it that I am so pained and tortured by the thought that I have major personal issues, that I cannot function completely independently? What planted this obsession, what nurtured it, so that it became so ingrained in my over time, as much a part of me as is my love of writing and my quest for truth? It would be so easy if I could pin this down (and all of my other unhealthy/unpleasant cognitive habits) to one specific triggering event, to one specific cause. I would love to so simplify things, but I highly doubt that will work here.

I often think of one specific year when I try to recall where things “started”, to name some point in my life that serves as a landmark where anxiety, depression, various deep personal signs of struggle all stemmed from. This landmark year is the year I was in 6th grade. I attended a small private Christian school. Here, I was bullied severely. My parents tell me that, although I cannot recall it, I would come home and cry every day. I was so upset that I could not focus on my homework, I could not concentrate on anything. Insecurity and self-loathing brewed within me. My class was small. We students only had so many people to pick from when selecting friends, enemies, and so forth. We created a social structure in which positions where assigned and thereafter rigid and unchanging. After someone was picked as a “target” as I was, it became nearly impossible to manipulate the system. At some point, I assume, one person decided to start calling me fat and stupid and other lovely creative insults. Every day after that was “history”, as the cliché goes.

I was tormented daily by the majority of my classmates by day, I was tormented daily by my older sister at home after school, and I frequently witnessed my dad’s psychotic fits of rage in our home by night. Unhealthy and painful situations with my sister and dad, even those directed specifically towards me, were not new in my 6th grade year. They had been going on for quite some time. (I cannot remember a time in my childhood that my dad did not have frequent psychotic screaming fits). Put those together, however, with my experience in school, and it is clear as to why in my mind my year in 6th grade was the “trigger year”.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………..

How much of my having unhealthy cognitive habits, etc. really come from this year?

 

I am quite a complex person, and I have only just begun to peel away at part of my story here… More of this to come.

…………………………………………………………………………………..

As always,

Tanya

 

 

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Trees, water, with a side of existentialism&nihilism

You are standing in the forest. You smell the wet soft wood, the mud. Lichen grows on fallen trees in delicate ripples, moths flutter past your eyes. You are standing in the forest. The trees start to thin as you look ahead, trees stand with space between and behind them a backdrop of white. The lake is supposed to be behind those trees. But you know better, you know that that is no lake. You have been here several times before. You have seen the lake, you have dipped in the lake, but this is not lake, not this time. Somewhere in your walk here, you entered another dimension. The white backdrop behind the trees, it resembles the look of a glitch on a TV screen, a mistake. It is a glitch. In the fabric of the universe. Or perhaps it is not a glitch, but something that has always been there and just not intended for such human eyes and souls to see. Behind the trees, where they get sparse and then just stop, is the end of time and matter. Nothingness. Do you turn around and hope to find the lake? Do you continue forward and take on this opportunity to experience something so strong and so empty?

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(something nudged me back to you)

 

Dear WordPress,

I have missed you. I took a long time away from you, and figured that I would just keep journaling and call it quits on the whole blog endeavor. But increasingly over the last few months, I have felt compelled to use this canvas for my words and my thoughts once again. It has been about 11 months since I last posted, and so much has happened. I am sure that you are not where I left you, and I most certainly have been transformed in this time away.

(but something nudged me back to you)

How do I put this without sounding cliche? Life is not easy. Of course, life was far from easy when I started this blog, and it was still quite the challenging adventure when I left off back in July 2016. I have, in my time away, gone through several realms of pain and suffering and growth and decay. Some realms familiar, but many of them quite new.

(and something nudged me back to you)

This past May, I hit what I consider a landmark point in the past few years of near-constant warfare with my life. Landmarks pop up when I feel the colors and tones change. For example, when I was first hospitalized in Spring 2014 is a landmark point. And when I started my battle with chronic physical illness in Fall 2015 is a landmark point. This phase that I have been floundering in since early May is one that somehow finally drove me

(nudged me)

back to you.

I used to be afraid to come back on this blog, figuring that I had lost all credibility and value as a blogger after having taken such a long break. I worried that people would be uninterested, or that they would think me flaky. I thought about starting a new blog, and then I worried that I would not be able to post consistently to it. Then I worried still that if I did come back to this blog, I would not post consistently to it and would just be another one of those millions of blogger failures, a joke.

(but something nudged me back to you)

………………………………………..

 

Here I am. Fully me, fully yours, at least in this post (and in whatever posts may come).

There are a desperate few things that I feel certain about in my life right now, and this is one of them: only with writing can I survive.

I have been writing some in my journals, in class, in my free time. And now I am back writing here.

I need this.

We will see what fruit this bares, for me, and hopefully also for you.

 

What words, to be shared between us, does the future hold?

……………………………………………..

 

As always,

Tanya

 

 

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Awe & Wonder Without A Name

What do you call those moments when you are so in awe of the glory and wonder of God that it hurts? When you are suddenly very aware of how tenderly and passionately Jesus Christ has been loving and guiding you? And all the while you want to fall on your knees and cry out in surrender?

I have had these moments before. In fact the first time I found myself in a situation such as this was on vacation with my family, 11 years old, and praying quietly and tearfully alone in my vacation room. I probably had similar experiences throughout high school, as well, but after that time on vacation, the next experiences I can put my finger on have all occurred during my college career. To be most specific, these un-namable but sacred moments have been a regular occurrence for me over the past 12 months as I have fought through one of the most challenging yet rewarding years of my life.

So, now that you know I have experienced these sorts of things before, let’s get back to what they actually are. Do they have a name? “God moment,” as I used to call them just doesn’t seem appropriate. While they are without question moments filled with the knowledge of the presence of God, moments in which God’s reign is tangible, “God moment” seems oversimplifying. These moments are sacred, yet simultaneously turbulent and pacifying.

“Sacred moments,” perhaps?

“God storms,” because of the overwhelming, turbulent factor? No- that could easily be misinterpreted.

“Reminders of why I want to live for Christ”… No- too long.

“Sanctification”… If that is really what it is?

 

Or should I just not bother to put a name on it? Just soak in the power and goodness of the moment?

I like to put names to things. I guess that is one of my quirks. But, perhaps, when it comes to things concerning God, I shouldn’t try too hard. Not being able to name something is a sign of a lack of full understanding, and in this case that is completely appropriate. Truly I do not understand God and the way he works (as much I sometimes would like, anyway). And my lack of understanding is much of what leads to my awe and love of God.

So, hoping that this all made any sense at all…

I am going to end this bit as I focus on claiming for myself a contented acceptance of my inability to box and name these wondrous meetings with God.


 

Truly, I hope that this did make sense. As a writer, I want my readers to be able to understand what I am talking about… Duhh. But alas, if it didn’t make sense to you, it at least helped me myself.


With that, I wish you a cool and comfortable nighttime, with a hint of awe and wonder.

– Tanya

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The Art of Reading… Or Beginning To Read

I sit here surrounded by a large pile of books. Some of them I have already begun to read, some I have not ventured through beyond the cover. Some I want to read for joy, some for knowledge, some for spiritual growth, some for my writing. Now where to begin?

Some of them I have already begun to read, some I have not ventured…. But really, where to BEGIN?

There’s “On Writing: A memoir of the craft” by Stephen King, which I got from the library yesterday. But I couldn’t very well leave the library planning to read this book without having read a single piece by King himself. So I also now have “Christine” by King. And a few books that are long overdue to the library… A book of poetry by Ai, a book of poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay to read in contrast with the book by Ai, a book by Frances Mayes on the art of reading and writing poetry to help me to understand the books by Ai and St. Vincent Millay. Then there’s that book I bought in March, “The Ocean At The End Of The Lane” by Neil Gaiman– a New York Time’s best-seller. I assume it must be good, and it appears so from the first twenty or so pages. But there is a suicide within those first 20 or so pages, and so I must wait until I am in a comfortable state of mind to continue deeper into that book. Oh, and how could I resist buying books at the bookstore where I get an employee discount? I couldn’t, clearly. I work at a restaurant now which is joined with a bookstore that offers me a 30% discount. Just the word “discount,” no matter what percentage be attached to it, is thrilling and tempting enough in itself. So I just purchased a compilation of American poetry and a book called “Dear White People.” Both of these books I intend to use for enjoyment and education, particularly “Dear White People” since I am a minority in my workplace.

Oh, do you see my dilemma? So many riches, so little time, so little focus, so many different motivations.

So, where to begin?

What to educate myself on next? What can I choose, knowing that I will read it with dedication, cover to cover?

Where to begin?


 

As always,

T. LaReveur

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