Life is about Choices

Life is about choices.  Oh, I know we’ve all heard that before and we all know it’s true; the question is how true is it?

I have had to battle the demons from my past the last few days.  Those memories that haunt and an attitude that wants to settle around me like a dark cloud and seep into my skin to become a part of me again. 

A close friend of mine told me that I should stop writing positive drivel and write about a lot of the crap that I’ve experienced along the way.  I told him that no one would believe all the stuff I’ve been through, not that it didn’t happen, but that there is so much of it.  Truly, most people experience one or two major mishaps in life if they are unlucky enough, but I’ve had so many that even I sit and shake my head in wonder at why I am still here at times.

He also told me that I have a great talent for description and that if I have something to say then just say it.  Well, okay, but I will do it my way, not yours. 

For the last few days and especially last night, the darkness tried really hard to reassert its self and last night I went to bed feeling like I was losing the battle, that I had failed and should just write everything that happened, reliving it all in vivid detail as I did.  I had nightmares all night.

The thing is, while I was experiencing living with an abusive, narcissistic, sociopath and that was after being in a rather odd relationship with another one previously, I had become a ghost like reflection of who I once was.  In those years I was just a shell of a person functioning on the outside, putting up a good front so that things would seem normal to those who looked on. 

I still had a positive attitude even then, though I struggled with it and it was only surface deep.  I still believed in better days and that the sun would shine.  

In talking to my friend something defensive in me woke up.  It wasn’t a whimpering, sad shadow either.  He kept asking me how I could be so positive after so much.  My unwavering answer is because NO ONE CONTROLS ME!  No one controls my attitude and my outlook except ME! 

Whatever the world and life throws your way, you CAN come out stronger, better, but it’s a choice.  You have the power to CHOOSE how you apply the events and mishaps in your life.  You can learn from them and become stronger, or you can let them take you down, dwelling on them, feeling anger, revenge, helplessness, and relive them over and over.  I choose to learn, to get up and to keep going.  I choose to believe there’s more that life has to teach and offer.

I don’t just think the sun will shine again and that better days will eventually be here….I KNOW. 

For me, it’s no longer faith as much as it’s experience.  When you’re up against that cliff and there’s nothing to do but to step off the ledge, you can be sure that God is going to catch you, or teach you to fly.  The thing is that in order to go forward, you do have to move, faith is grown by action, not waiting and life is about choices.

Cherry Coley (c)

Fear and Ghosts of the Past

No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.- C.S. Lewis

I must say that I completely agree with C. S. Lewis on this one, grief does feel very much like fear at times.  Now and then, out of the blue, it will come along out of nowhere and punch you in the heart and all but bring you to your knees.  Suddenly things you were so sure of, you second guess and then your mind willing or not wants to ask that person their opinion, but they are not there anymore to ask. 

 As nice as it is to paint the house we are moving in to and work together to make it a home, there is a bittersweet thought that lingers in the air and simply won’t go away.  The thought that this will be the first place I will live where my mom and dad won’t come visit me.  Yet it’s not even that thought that haunts me.  No, I was a bit shaky with that thought, but still okay.  It was when my brother mentioned that since we didn’t move in to my parent’s house, he is working on selling it. 

I am actually okay with selling their house; because of where it is located I know we would not be able to live there.  The house is too far away from my work and the kids like their schools and friends.  We weighed our options and looked at it from every direction then decided to stay in Garland.  I know the best thing to do is to sell their house.  Yet the thought of that is like a punch in the heart that almost knocks me to the floor.  I walk in that house now and it’s empty, but the walls ring with echoes of days long past.  I can hear my brother’s footsteps as he stomps up the hallway.  I can watch memories shift in my mind through all the different years, showing me the furniture and how it looked at this age, then how it looked even a few months ago.  I can remember thinking of how amazing it was that my dad bought such a small house, then designed and built on a large den, back porch, and a washroom that could actually be another room.  Later when I was seven or eight years old my dad converted the single car garage into a bedroom for my brother with a large walk in closet.  He did most of the work by himself, with a little help from my uncle Basil Thomas and his brother in law “Slim.” 

 I have a hard time looking at the yard when I go over there now.  My mom loved gardens, and keeping her yard looking nice.  The yard doesn’t look so nice right now.  She created flower gardens and vegetable gardens that were pretty high maintenance since she would spend two to three hours outside every day pulling weeds, watering and doting on her plants.  No one has been there to care for them since December, so there are parts of the yard that are beginning to look overgrown.

 I remember riding my bike on a path we’d made in the backyard, around the gardens and the swing set dad had put up for us.  My little dog Butch would sometimes run beside me trying to keep up. 

 I remember the tree right outside the back porch.  We used to climb that tree, get on the roof of the back porch, lie down and watch the birds fly by during the day and the stars come out at night.  Watching the sky up on that rooftop is one of my favorite memories and something I really miss.  I loved that tree. 

 There are so many good memories in that place.  I can’t help but hope that it will go to a family that will come to love and appreciate it like we did.  It doesn’t make letting go any easier.  When I stop and think about it, there’s a feeling much like fear that tries to swallow me up.  I suppose it’s because once it is gone, then it’s gone and there’s no turning back, no revisiting, no more just knowing that it’s there if we need a place to go.  It’s odd what grief does to you.  Still, this is a time to move forward and memories are portable.  No one said the path would be easy.

 Cherry Coley ©

Pleasant Memories and Ghostly Echoes

photo by Cherry Coley

It’s funny the things you think about late in the night.  Last night as I lay in bed half asleep, I was listening to my mom make all kinds of noise in the kitchen.  She was griping at the cat to get out of the way, banging pots and pans and occasionally said, “oh me,” as she picked something up.  I was just lying there listening to her, not cringing as I had done before, but just holding my eyes closed and listening intently. 

I heard her call to dad that dinner was ready and that he needed to get up and come to the table.  I heard her yell at the cat when she stepped on his tail and make him meow in a loud screech.  I heard the chairs being pulled out from the table as they sat down and my dad say, “Cherry, you comin’?”

 I heard my dad as he started reading the headlines of the paper out loud and mom asking him questions about what he read.  I could smell the stew she had fixed and hear the clink clink of silverware on the bowls as they ate, the sound of ice moving in glasses of water as they picked them up, and the soft thunk as they put them down on the table again. 

 I could hear my mom get on to my dad for sneaking a piece of something to the cat waiting for tasty tidbits at his feet. 

 Finally, my brain registered that I was just listening to memories and the sounds faded away into the fog of my wounded mind. 

 I had you guys, just for a moment, I had you there again and could hear your voices so clearly.  For just a moment I was back there, not long ago, listening to the sounds of family sounds that I will not hear the same way again in this lifetime.  I miss you both so much.

Remember that the sounds that might annoy you, or you just take for granted today, may be the very sounds that you would give anything in this world to hear one more time someday.  Don’t take anyone or anything for granted.  No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Love the people in your life today.

 Cherry Coley ©