Archive for survival

Final Curtain

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , on 2011/05/01 by R L Burns

I went there, you know:  to that grand theatre, that place of debauchery, illicit passion and tragedy.  Only this time I went as an observer as opposed to a participant – or would “victim” be the more appropriate word?  I suppose that if I was a victim, I have to admit that I was a willing one, so perhaps that negates the term.

It was strange to be there and be nothing more than a ghost; to be even less than the shadow I had been in the original production.

Oddly, nothing had changed there, except your absence from the play.  This time it was just me onstage, playing to a theatre empty of everything except ghosts.  At first they mocked me a bit, but eventually they seemed to take pity on me – perhaps because they recognized my absolute sincerity, pain and disillusionment.  I am, if nothing else, a method actor; gotta live the part to play it.

When I sat on the hill at the cemetery where once we had lounged, eating lunch, laughing andtalking, the wind whispered, in a soothing voice, that I would survive.  When I slit my wrists and carved the first letter of your name into my palm with a bright, shiny new razor blade (surprisingly found in the bottom of my purse), the spirits of the grandparents with whom I sat cried out for me to stop.  But I couldn’t.  I didn’t.  I suppose I must have lost a fair amount of blood because the next thing I knew I was lying on my back and the sun was low in the west.  Moving incautiously reopened the dried wound on my left wrist and I just stared at it, trying to remember why I had even done it…and then I noticed the white rose in the grandfather’s flowers, tipped in red – the scarlet was my own heart’s blood (remember “Greenwood Cide-o”?).

Eventually I walked down to the tree under which we often parked, reveling in its shade, and dug a small hole.  I half-burned a copy of that poem you wrote for me, and buried it, along with a couple of other things, hoping it would help me leave my pain behind.

Where it belonged:  in a cemetery.

Knowing, at last, that the final curtain had fallen on this production.  And a bit sad to know that there would be no more re-writes of the script.

July 2010

Beware the Fairy Tale!!

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , on 2010/08/24 by R L Burns

In every fairy tale there is a seed of truth – a seed – but they are primarily morality lessons, aren’t they? Be good, kind, respectful and loving, and all good things will come to you: love, wealth, happiness. We are taught these lessons almost from birth, and some of us, sadly, learned them all too well. Myself included. Especially me.

Thrown into a life I couldn’t understand, a life of chaos and confusion, fairy tales, romance novels and happy endings became my only “reality”. A hope for a future in which I would feel special and beautiful – a future of peace and contentment, where Prince Charming would keep the wolves at bay with his gleaming sword held high – once I had saved him from the dark forces that threatened him. White roses would decorate every surface of our “castle” and he would protect me from all the evils in the world…We would have happy, beautiful children, no money woes, and he would look at me adoringly every day, ask me to dance with him in the kitchen every night. Life would be perfect. Oh, what a silly girl I was. What crazy, unrealistic expectations I had. Who could live up to that dream? No one. Not even me.

And certainly not my first husband. He looked the part of Prince Charming – if a bit short – with his blonde hair and grey eyes. He was quite pretty…on the outside. But he truly was a beast on the inside, and no matter what I did to help him, nothing changed. He believed he was Prince Charming, but he was actually more Prince Alarming, and the disillusioned little girl (me) walked away before she was too broken to do so.

My second husband had no interest in being Prince Charming. If one were to look up the word “husband” in the dictionary, I was always somehow sure his picture would be there, along with the following definition: hard-working, conscientious, never out late, good financial planner, serious, motivated, dedicated father. He was all of those things and more. But he wasn’t interested in being my friend, in playing games or going for walks in the rain – all prerequisites for a Prince. There was no gaiety and little spontaneity…so, eventually the disillusioned woman walked away, hoping he would find someone less complicated and demanding (which he did).

Ah, and then there was the man I believed to be THE Prince Charming. And he was. Is. I suppose. He stared at me adoringly and even called me a Princess. The words he wrote to me could make grown women weep with longing for a man like that. He liked the rain and poetry, words and ideas. He had all the makings of the greatest Prince Charming ever…but he was just a boy. As the years went by, no matter what I did or where I went, the memory of that boy stayed with me. Occasionally he would call out to me when his demons needed defeating and I would oblige – all good Princess-Wanna-Be’s would, right? What a powerful feeling it was, too, to think that only I could help him, reinvigorate him, restore his lust for life! (Oh, vain child!) And I dreamed about the life we might have had…the PERFECT life we might have had. The FAIRY TALE life we might have had. Idiot (me, I mean).

When, years and years later he resurfaced in my life, I thought, “At last! My fairy tale ending is here!! All those years of being good, kind, respectful and loving have paid off just as the fairy tales foretold!!” And I set out to win my Prince Charming for good and all. Only…he was really someone else’s Prince Charming. And in reality, I was not a Princess; I was just a regular old girl, with no special powers or irresistible charm. When Prince Charming climbed on his horse and rode away without a single backwards glance, when reality hit me, I fell spectacularly apart. How could I exist if Prince Charming didn’t exist? What was I, then? WHO was I, then?

I couldn’t know. The shadows of evil and doubt swirled around me, my mind was muddied, my soul in tatters. I felt aimless and confused, conflicted and abused. Poor me. Poor, poor pitiful me. How very dare he?? Again I say: Idiot!

Time passed and I became resigned to the emptiness, the flat affect, the “thing” masquerading as me.

I visited Prince Charming’s world one more time and bid it farewell. That helped a great deal. It cleared away most of the pain. I can’t explain why, really, it just did. It no longer mattered so much to me that I had been dethroned. I felt a little bit more like my old self – albeit a less fairy tale version of myself.

And then one night it all became clear to me. Crystal clear. And I understood everything. Standing outside under a blanket of stars it hit me – and I laughed. Laughed til I cried. I spun around in my nightgown loving the feel of its skirt swirling around and around and then settling against my ankles. It tickled, as did the grass under my feet. Suddenly I could hear rocks singing – loudly – again, when for ages I could only hear whispers. The wind sighed in my ear and whispered, “I love you.”

I whispered back, “I love you, too.” Then I spun around again, my arms open wide to all the peace, love and safety I felt pouring on me from the universe. I stood there, swaying in the wind, soaking it all in for I don’t know how long. Then I went inside, lay down with the sun, and slept the best sleep I had had in over a year, a smile on my face. A smile from inside.

Just what did I understand that night under the stars? Several things…In every fairy tale there is a seed of truth – a seed. And that’s what my whole life-long romance with the would-be Prince Charming was: a fairy tale. There was a piece of truth in there, but it was not really…real, in any functional way. It wasn’t just MY fairy tale, it was his, too, I suppose, meant to be read and enjoyed but not intended for every day use. It could never take the strain of real life. It was a mask behind which to hide, an excuse not to give too much of myself to anyone or anything, since I was always “waiting” for Prince Charming to return. In all honesty, though, I liked the mask because it was safe. Prince Charming was never going to really come back, so he was easy to love, easy to hide behind. And when the possibility of his return occurred, I was blind enough not to realize it was just a story – a good one, a sad one, a heart wrenching one full of star-crossed lovers and destiny and love denied – but a story nonetheless. I had once joked that our relationship and our words to each other were like, well, like writing a romance novel. I didn’t know how correct I was when I said that. It was a perfect story, a less-than-perfect reality.

Most importantly, however, I understood that I am me. That I am a little bit of a princess, even without Prince Charming. I don’t need Prince Charming to be who and what I am. Being good, kind, respectful and loving HAVE paid off for me – that’s the seed of truth in the fairy tale. I am one of the luckiest people alive. I have a wonderful, beautiful, miracle child. I have a loving family. I have a handful of incredibly wonderful, incredibly kind, incredibly loving friends who have done more for me than they could possibly ever understand. The clouds and the stars smile upon me, the rocks sing to me. The grass tickles my feet, Chewie loves me, and the sun warms me. For what more could I ask? Absolutely nothing.

How wonderful it is to be free at last…

No fairy tale can beat that.

Sacred Fear

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 2010/06/13 by R L Burns

* Written earlier – I’m a bit better now *

Dear Ladies,

I am writing this because I am scared.  I cannot tell you how desolate and alone I feel.   I feel flattened.  the pain is not receding at all yet.  Instead it is getting worse and worse and worse.  A hundred or more times a day I long to see him.  To hold him.  To feel his arms around me.  I am not trying to exaggerate things, or whine, but I have to tell you all that I do not know how long I can continue feeling this way.  I want desperately to escape it; want more than anything to find a way to live without him.  the nights are the worst.  I cannot sleep well at all  I mean, it’s three a.m., and where am i?  Sitting at the computer checking email, trying to find something to occupy my head, something to push the sadness over and out of the way a bit.  It isn’t working.  EVERYTHING makes me think of him; and everytime I think of him, I have to realize again that he is gone from me, forever.  I cannot handle that.  I really can’t. 

Please don’t call me and tell me all the reasons I have for staying alive.  I know them well, but right now they do not mean very much, I am sorry to say.  I am too bowed over by this gut-wrenching, mind-bending pain.  I am nauseated constantly.  I eat but it all tastes like dirt.  I am smoking way too much.  Reading his poems and stories doesn’t help.  Thinking of the happy times only makes the pain that much more acute.  Writing seems to help a little bit.  Looking at our pictures helps a little – SOMETIMES.  But too often, afterwards, the memories flood through me and I feel as though I am drowning.  I can’t breathe and my heart pounds wildly.  There just seems to be no escape from it all.  I cannot imagine living another 20 or 30 years feeling this way.  Intellectually, I understand that the pain will lessen, but emotionally, and in my heart, I cannot imagine it ever being any different than it is now. 

If you have any ideas, please tell me what they are .  And no, I won’t do anything stupid – for now, anyway.  I am struggling.  But I have to be honest with someone about how I feel.  So I told you guys.  I am sorry to burden you with my pain, but you are very close to me and I trust you with my thoughts.  Not an easy thing to do right now.  Not easy at all.

I love you guys very much, and please know that I am trying so very, very hard to deal with this in a more positive way.  I just don’t know how successful I will be.




Posted in Poetry, Ramblings with tags , , , on 2010/05/03 by R L Burns

the once tender tendrils of memory

had now become tightly bound twine

enveloping, entrapping, my heart and mind –

a twine closely intertwined with barbs

that pierced my skin and broke, to tiny shards,

what little remained of my sanity.



the more i fought it,

the tighter the twine became

decimating, destroying, my heart and my brain –

suffocating me, the salamander-colored vines

obfuscated my thoughts, my eyes,

leaving me with a predilection for self-destruction.



in pure self-preservation,

prevarication became my occupation,

calming my heart and soothing my mind –

the lies were good, the lies were kind, the lies helped me breathe

and, slowly, the twine began to unwind

at last my vision was clearing.



and then, as my breathing became easier,

those omnipotent tendrils, having just resigned

their stranglehold on my heart and my mind –

began to whisper enticingly, calling my name

began to tighten again, it was the same as before: 

he called to me, i whimpered, and knew nothing more.



Better Living Through Chemistry

Posted in Poetry, Ramblings with tags , , , , , on 2010/03/03 by R L Burns




lorazepam –

a cocktail

that stops me


all that

i am.







and vitamin B –

yipee and hooray

for better living




rlb/march 2010

It’s 4:03 and I can’t sleep…

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , on 2010/02/06 by R L Burns

Nah, I lied.  It’s not 4:03.  It’s 4:23.  But close enough for me.  Guess I’ve been singing that Shinedown song too much. 

Not so sure, though, if the poblem is that it is four in the morning or that it is the sixth of February.  The day I got the message for which I had waited for sixteen years.  First contact from you.  Do you remember my reply?

Huh? I am nearly in tears.

And your response?

So am I.  I don’t even know where to begin…

And you know, from the beginning, there was a phrase you repeated over and over and over.  A phrase that, as a Special Education Inclusion English teacher I should have seen as foreshadowing:

No more time for lies, baby girl.

And yet, that’s all it was a time for, wasn’t it?  Lies, lies, and more lies.

(My failure to recognize the foreshadowing explains, I suppose, why I am the Special Education teacher, right?)

My head is pounding again. 

I am so annoyed.  For the past month, maybe, I had been doing really well.  I wasn’t crying everyday or anything.  Then that stupid migraine.  And then my sister being so upset.  And now:  6 February.  Oh this sucks, and I am sure that Valentine’s day will probably be unfun, too.  No great story to read, over which to sigh and smile as my heart flutters. 


Then will come 7 March.  Fucking-A.  Happy Anniversary, Baby, got you on my mind – thank you, Little River Band.

Could someone please just come knock me out so I can sleep through the next month?? 

I am running out of pain meds for the pounding in my head that never seems to truly stop…my ativan is running low for my erratic heartbeat…my body is running down from lack of good sleep…my eyes are frequently swollen from the tears I am again shedding — even in my sleep.  I hate waking up to a wet pillow.

Well.  I can handle it.  And I will be fine.  This next month will be the bad patch, I think, then I will be okay again.  I mean, hell, I’ve done this (lived in limbo without you) for more years than I haven’t (thirty-three, actually, and I’m only forty-seven), so I can make it through the rest, I suppose. 

I just have to get through the next month without cracking up again…and considering what I have managed to get through already, a month should be easy-peezy.

Yep.  Easy. 

If only I can avoid any thought of you whatsoever and if I can sleep past 4:03 more nights than not.  Damn Shinedown for putting that time in my head!! 

Why don’t I just hate you and not think of you?

Oh wait.  Again, there’s the answer: 

I‘m Special Ed

That explains it all, doesn’t it?

Gotta go.  The pain meds are calling to me….