Archive for the life story Category

Pretty Pathetic, huh?

Posted in life story, Ramblings, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 2016/02/24 by R L Burns

It is still so very weird to me that I actually believed all the things he said to me.  And even weirder that it sill bothers me so much nearly seven years later.  I feel utterly stupid that I didn’t get it that it was all a lie – but, you should know that it’s not ALL my fault; he was really good at the lie.  There’s a song by the band Seether in which the singer states:

You keep living in your own lie
                                                 Ever deceitful and ever unfaithful
                                                 Keep me guessing, keep me terrified
                                                 Take everything from my world

That pretty much sums up how I feel/felt/whatever.  Ridiculously, in retrospect, I thought I was much smarter than that; that no one could fool me so completely.  Well, now I know that I was wrong on that count, too.

You know, I guess it’s okay that it bothered – and bothers – me.  I mean, I believed he was the love of my life since I was a teenager.  In a way I only got involved with people who were, in a sense, disposable.  Not too flattering – for them or me.  I judged my feelings with everyone by my feelings for him, and their feelings for me by the way he had felt about me.  Comparing is never a good practice, I know, but I didn’t know I was doing it.  Well, I knew it, but I didn’t understand how MUCH I was doing it, nor how negatively it was impacting every romantic relationship of my entire life.  I can see it now, of course; I mean, don’t they say that hindsight is 20/20?  Yepper.  Definitely 20/20.

Even knowing all that now, though, I still don’t understand how I could be so taken in. Where were the signs that it was a lie?  Maybe…well, could’ve been the small amount of time he was able to carve out for me after I drove over one thousand miles to spend time with him.  Yeah, I guess that was a clue.  I’d be there a week and spend 80% of my time alone.  I guess that was a big sign, yes?  But when he was with me, he was WITH me.  Loving me, crying, begging…and when I was away from him, there were hundreds of phone calls, thousands of texts.  I mean, why would he do all of that if he was lying?  That’s what I couldn’t figure out.  Unless, maybe, he WAS just trying to be kind to me – in a weird-wrong-twisted kind of way.  He said later that he did it because he felt guilty that I had loved him so long.  I had loved him.  Hmmmm….and that he had not been in love with me since nearly fifteen years earlier when he wanted to be with me but I said no — he had a child and one on the way.  How could I break that up? I couldn’t, so I sent him back to her and the children, knowing that was the right thing to do – and knowing that he would, in the end, hate me if he left his family and then wasn’t close to them.  For a while I tried to believe that he was just saying all that about lying, that really he was a coward and just couldn’t pull the trigger.  But I suppose I was wrong, and he really didn’t love me any longer.  That is a horrible thing to accept…I kept others at arm’s length and never allowed myself to be happy because I was in love with him.  When I believed we finally had a real chance at the happily ever after we both claimed to have always wanted…well, I was deliriously happy.  And then I wasn’t.

And I am still not.

I still stand by my belief, though, that if he KNEW, the first time we saw each other again, that he didn’t feel the same about me, it would have been much kinder and much, much less disillusioning if he had thrown a pity fuck or two my way and then a tearful farewell. That, I would have held close to my heart with a tear and a smile.

Instead I am left with…nothing.



The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pain

Posted in life story, Sharing with tags , , , , , on 2011/09/26 by R L Burns

When one of my many doctors looked me in the eye and said, “Well, given all your symptoms, history and my examination, I feel confident diagnosing you with Fibromyalgia”, I admit it, I laughed at him; loudly, and perhaps not a bit impolitely.

“Fibromyalgia?” I snorted, unable to stop myself.  “You’re kidding, right?”  I did my best Dr. Spock imitation, raising my left eyebrow and looking at him quizzically.

“Um, no, I am not kidding.  You see, Fibromyalgia –“he began, but I cut him off.

“Fibromyalgia.  Right.  Isn’t that what you tell people – especially women you consider to be hypochondriacs – when you can’t figure out what is really wrong with them?  Or when you don’t think there really IS anything wrong with them?  C’mon.  If you can’t figure out the true cause of my chronic pain, just admit it.  I won’t mind, won’t be angry.  In fact, I may even respect you all the more for being honest with me.  So what’s the real deal-io Doc?”

I’m sure you can guess by now that this particular doctor was not best pleased with this particular patient, and his patience (that’s a pun, get it?) was running thin – obviously not true since I am quite plump, actually.  Never mind, as usually happens when I tell a story, I digress.  Back to the now red-faced, displeased doctor.

“I don’t understand you, Ms. Cardew, not at all.  Fibromyalgia is not just something I say when I don’t know what is really wrong.  Nor do I consider any of my patients hypochondriacs.  I totally disagree with all you just said and am, I must admit, offended by it.  If you do not value my medical opinion I am sure I can refer you to another doctor.”

I was surprised at how hard he took my joking – and to be honest, I was waiting (praying, actually) that he would look at me and utter the line from Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest that was the only saving grace of having my name:  I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far.  Although in fairness, my favorite mutation of that line is the one my mother and I always said when someone went beyond the pale:  This time, Miss Cardew, you have gone too far! Heavy British accent and lots of emphasis on the “too”, drawing it out.  (That made us split our sides with laughter – we are easily entertained, I am sure you must think…and you are correct.)  Sadly, he didn’t utter those magic words; sadder still, hardly anyone ever does anymore, what with the state of public education these days.  No one reads the classics anymore – and if they do, they don’t understand them.  C’est la vie.  Again, I am off track.

I smiled slightly at poor Dr. Ferris.  “I’m sorry, doctor.  Truly I am.  And please believe me, I in no way meant to impugn your…medical…standing or opinion.  I just thought it was funny, in an odd – I see now – way.  Um, you know, you see all those commercials on television, and all the symptoms are so vague.  And then the medicines they advertise cause worse side effects than the pain itself…I don’t know, Sir.  I think Fibromyalgia has somehow just come across to me as a “catch-all” when no one can figure out what else to say.  Sort of a palliative, I mean.  So that the person in pain actually feels like they are not crazy and there really is something wrong with them.  It’s television, Sir, not you.  I am just a victim of advertising.  I’m sorry.  Can you forgive my rudeness?”  Big smile now.

Puffed up again to look like a real doctor, Dr. Ferris smiled benignly at me and patted my hand.  “Dear, there is nothing to forgive.  I understand how confusing all the misinformation out there can be.”

Now that we were friends again, he began explaining Fibromyalgia to me in all earnestness.  I wish he hadn’t.

Fibromyalgia is a bitch.  No one knows what causes it, though some hypothesize that potential causes and/or triggers include a physical or emotional trauma, sleep disturbances (exacerbated by the disease), an abnormal pain response in the brain, or even an infection, although no particular infection has been identified as a definite correlation.

The symptoms (chronic body-wide pain, joint/muscle/tendon tenderness) are vague; they could be caused by any number of things.  What stands out, apparently, is that the pain goes on and on and on.  For some lucky Fibro Sisters, it is only a few months.  Most of us, however, suffer with it for years.  Accompanying the burning, aching, mind numbing, strength-zapping malaise, there are other possible prizes:  depression (you ache all the time, can’t imagine why you would be depressed, can you?); chronic fatigue (you can’t sleep the whole night through because of the pain); constant neck or back pain; an underactive thyroid; other sleep disorders.  You fall asleep in pain, go through the day in pain, and wake up in pain.  Yipee.  And oddly enough, even though it often feels like the pain is emanating from the joints (like Arthritis), it isn’t.  It’s actually in the soft tissues of the body.

Long-term Fibromyalgia party-bonuses can include heart palpitations (I have those in abundance), problems with concentrating and memory (is that why I can’t remember where I parked my car at the mall?), numbness in the hands and feet, and, best of all, migraine headaches.

Fibromyalgia:  the cornucopia of symptoms, the smorgasbord of disorders.  No cause.  No real cure.  Oddly enough, Dr. Ferris told me that what helps most is exercise and sleeping normally.  Ha!  But it hurts to move around too much and I can’t sleep because I have Fibromyalgia.  Hmm.  Kind of a conundrum, wouldn’t you say?  Your body hurts when you move, and you can’t sleep through the night, but if you want to get better, you have to exercise regularly and sleep through the night.  My head hurts just thinking about it.

Treatments include physical therapy and exercise (oh joy, more moving about!) and stress-relief techniques.  Oh, and let’s not forget our pharmaceutical cocktails…Anti-depressants, muscle relaxers, pills that change the way your brain interprets pain.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in “better living through chemistry”, even considered getting it tattooed on my shoulder, but it’s all just too much.

As much as I tried to joke about it, Dr. Ferris was right all those years ago.  I do have Fibromyalgia – at least all the classic symptoms.  Part of the physical exam for the disease is that you must have tenderness in at least eleven of eighteen areas, and it must have lasted for at least three months.  I had tenderness in sixteen of the eighteen, and when I saw Dr. Ferris, it had been going on for at least three years.  The pain travels, in a sense.  Sometimes it is in my elbows and knees, other times in my spine; still other times it is in my shoulders and my ribs.   There’s no predicting where it will hit next or how long it will last.  Six years after diagnosis, I am still fighting it.  And I am tired of it, with no end in sight.  I am, though, much luckier than others I know with this disease.  Wonderful, brilliant women whose pain is so debilitating that it keeps them from doing much at all.  I at least can still work and write.

I suppose the point of this was to say that Fibromyalgia really sucks.  If you do not suffer from it, thank the Lord or whichever Spiritual deity you choose, that you do not.  And next time you hear about it, it’s okay to laugh – a little.  But know that it is real, it hurts and it is never-ending.

So to those of you who are members of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pain, I salute you.  Keep up the good fight.  Somehow we will come out on top!


Posted in life story, Loss of Hope, Poetry, Ramblings with tags , , , , on 2011/05/25 by R L Burns

it’s wrong and it’s lame

cuz to you it was all just a game –

so how can I feel the same

way I did when I carved your name’s

first initial into my palm?

what is wrong in my brain,

in my heart – why does the pain

loiter and remain

drowning me – a hurricane

that possesses me, obsesses me?

i just keep telling myself those

christina perri lyrics…

I learned to live

half a life…

and who do you think you are,

runnin’ round leaving scars,

collecting your jar of hearts

and tearing love apart?

you’re gonna catch a  cold

from the ice inside your soul…

so don’t come back for me

don’t come back at all.


and yet the thought of that

terrifies me more than anything…

and i STILL don’t know what i did wrong…

Lessons Learned

Posted in life story with tags , , , on 2011/05/25 by R L Burns

(From Feb 2011)

An anniversary of sorts passed recently, and I found myself re-reading some of my older pieces.  A couple of years ago I wrote a piece on here that ended with the following words:

Belief in you, in what was, has held me together through my darkest, loneliest, most horrifying hours; has forced me not to abandon all hope. Belief in you and what is, and what can be, will get me through now. 

Thank you, for the most precious gift of yourself. Thank you for teaching me that love doesn’t have to be degrading or painful or ugly; that it truly can be beautiful and breathtaking and glorious. But thank you especially, for giving me back to me. For showing me, for allowing me to be, finally, who I truly am. And for loving me anyway.  Those things I will happily never forget.

When I read those words now, I am…embarrassed.  Even somewhat ashamed.   That I was that gullible.  That for so much of my life I wouldn’t really love anyone or allow them to love me — out of fear.  Fear that they would reject me.  Fear that “he” would return one day.  Fear that he wouldn’t.  Fear that — whatever.  Just plain fear.  Like one of my favorite quotes from the movie Strictly Ballroom, I only half-lived.  (The quote is:  A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.)

For the majority of my life I believed that this one person could fix everything, was the answer to EVERYTHING.  It was useful, yes, because the belief that if he was there none of the horrible things that happened would have done did actually help me survive, but it was stupid, too, because, well, he was just a guy.  Bad things happen sometimes, no matter what you do or who is there to help you.

And I think I dealt so badly with the end of my “dream” because, well…rather than teaching me what I wrote in that second paragraph, he actually reinforced the opposite, made love something in which I could no longer believe; and made me believe that the little piece of me I thought was okay really wasn’t.  I was back to being nothing.  A nothing who had believed in a  lie; who had put a lie on a pedestal and revered it, hid behind it,  rather than face life head on.  That was my fault, not his.   Yes, he called me and asked me to play the game, but I could have said no.  At times  I think I should have said no – a long time ago.

However, had all of that not happened, where would I be today?  Certainly not where I am.  I know now that what the “books” say is true:  no one else can make you happy.  No one else can give you feelings of self-worth.  You must believe in yourself.  It all comes from inside.  Or it doesn’t.  The choice is yours.

I think I am making much better choices these days.  While the past haunts me occasionally (maybe “taunts” me is a better choice of words), it no longer rules me.  It no longer destroys me.  I don’t need someone else to make it okay for me to be who I am.   Perhaps, too, I have learned to recognize the right places and people to whom I should give love, respect, admiration and trust.

And I have truly, finally,  learned that love can be real – and lovely; that if it feels painful or degrading, it isn’t love.  A simple lesson, I am sure some of you will say.  But for me…well, that has been one of the hardest lessons of all.

Perhaps there is hope for me yet.

About Ten Years Ago…

Posted in life story with tags , , , on 2010/09/18 by R L Burns

…I received the following letter from a student.  His name was Steven and he was a very sad young man when we met.  At the end of the year, the English teacher asked the students to write a “thank you” letter to someone in their life as a final writing assignment.  It could be to anyone – friend, family, whatever, the only caveat being that the students had to actually “know” the person to whom they would write (this was to avoid the inevitable desire to write to sports heroes, etc.).  I did not expect this letter at all and it made my day – still makes my day when I read it as I did today when I found it while moving things.  Attached to the letter was a drawing of a three dimensional capital A that had a halo jauntily placed on the right hand side.  And across the top Steven wrote:  You’re my Angel.

Finding this came at a good time as I am stuggling right now with my current position and some of the conditions that exist at my work – so much so that yesterday I told my assistant prinicipal that I quit.  I didn’t, of course, but I was very upset and angry.  Until I found this letter and was reminded why I do the job i do….it went right along with a dear friend reminding me that the kids need me, which I thought was a kind thing for that friend to say.

I also found it amusing that I saw this today as I was asked by that same  friend just last night if there was any angel in me…I replied that it had been said, but who knows?  So, my friend, yes, at least one person has seen a little bit of “angel” in me. 

Here’s the letter….(by the way, I have his permission, as long as I fixed the misspellings)…..
Dear Miss O.,
Miss O., I write to bid you farewell because the year is over.  I have enjoyed having you and Mrs. G. as my teachers, even though we pick at each other a lot.  I appreciate you standing by me during my trials and tribulations.  You have been there for me the whole year.  I have enjoyed your sleepy sarcastic presence and you always seem to give me that look that makes me feel better the whole day.  Miss O., I love you and I will miss you very much, but you will always be the most loving teacher I have ever had.
That’s better than a paycheck, I say.


Posted in life story, Poetry with tags , , , on 2010/07/13 by R L Burns
Howling and crying, endlessly, pleadingly, then an

author: crisscross992000 (photobucket)

Abrupt disruption of the force: the wolf went silent, and a
Primal, powerful, pain-filled oppression

Permeated her perforated, threadbare soul; her

Yesterdays the only days that now have any meaning.



Breached, broken, beaten and scarred by the

Inevitable end of the illusion, she is left

Remote, reclusive, restrained and afraid

To even think of what was, what could have been – she is

Hopeless, sleepless, heartsick and heavily dependent on

Drugs, dreams, duty and the ones who harmed her before he did; she

Advertises her shame and her pain incessantly, yet unintentionally…

You need only look into her empty eyes to know she is gone.



There is

Nothing left of her, nothing

At all.

Something Wonderful…really

Posted in life story, Sharing with tags , , on 2010/06/07 by R L Burns

Tonight I had one of my students over to help her work on her poetry project.  I call her Princess.  She is the same student I went to watch in a ballroom dancing showcase.  She is quite pretty in a Scarlett Johannsen kind of way:  red hair, full lips, beautiful green eyes, pale skin.  When she is older the boys will absolutely drop at her feet – I am sure of that.  Sadly, she hasn’t a great deal of confidence in herself and suffers from anxiety – particularly social anxiety on a fairly regualar basis. 

Anyway, earlier this year a young man on our team made an inappropriate sexual gesture towards her and no one seemed too inclined to do anything about it. Well, we all know my motto is:  Don’t Fuck With My Kids.  So, I had it out with two Assistant Principals and the Head of Guidance (which didn’t make me very popular for a while), but we got the situation resolved.  The young man was moved to another team so Princess wouldn’t have to be in any classes or lunch with him.  Interestingly enough, within three weeks he had done the same thing to another girl on his new team and was expelled for the rest of the year — well, he was sent to the alternative school we have here.  Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

 Sorry, as usual I begin to ramble.  Back to the wonderful thing of tonight…

Princess was here at my house – I brought her home from school with me.  Her dad planned to pick her up around 8:30 p.m.  We got some KFC (her choice) and came home, ate, and got to work.  It was the first time she had been here.  She liked my house and all my “stuff”. 

Somehow, while we were here in the office by the computer, she picked up a piece of paper on which I had printed out one of my posts from here on AN.  Unfortunately it was not a happy piece (are there any?).  She was startled to think that I would be so unhappy as to want to kill myself.  We discussed it a little – not too much detail – and I told her I didn’t want to die, really, I just couldn’t handle the pain.  BUT, I pointed out, here I still am, so don’t worry about it.  Princess seemed relieved.

About half an hour later, as she sat next to me writing the name of the boy she likes over and over and over in gold marker while I was printing her work, she said, without looking at me, “I’m really glad you didn’t kill yourself.”

Startled, I replied, “Me, too, Princess.”  I kept working on the computer but saw, in the corner of my eye, her looking up at me, trying to hide her eyes behind her beautiful red bangs.

“No, I mean it.  Really.”

“I believe you, sweetie.”

“I mean, if you had done it, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.”  Now she was staring at me.

I stopped typing and looked at her.  “That’s kind of you to say, but I really can’t imagine that I have had that much…to do with…well, I just don’t think that’s really true.  You are a wonderful, beautiful girl and would have been that with or without me.”  I looked away.

“You don’t understand.”  She sighed and returned to scribbling Tyler’s name over and over.  “If you had jumped off that balcony, I wouldn’t be the same.  Mrs. George {my partner} would have been sad.  You wouldn’t be here helping me now.  I’d be sad.  Pinkie would be different.  Nicole would be different.  George would be different.  Alex would be sad.  You just don’t understand what a different world it would be without you.  It would be sad and bleak and empty.”

I just stared at her.  And cried.  Not great sobs or anything, but I cried.  I hugged her and whispered, “Thank you, Princess.  That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me in my whole life.”

She smiled at me.  “Well, it’s true.”

As we were finishing her poetry project, I saw her dedication:  This book of poems is dedicated to my Aunt Robin who has helped me more than she knows.  Aunt Robin.  That’s what she calls me.

I cried again.

For most of my life, It’s a Wonderful Life has been my favorite movie of all time.  I love it when George realizes how bad, how different Bedford Falls would have been without him.  How important he was, directly or indirectly, to so many people.  Never in my life did I expect to be told that I was anything like George. 

I am so very proud.