Ode to My Alley

The alley behind my Belmont Heights apartment may not look like much but, for me, this narrow, trashbin-lined passageway is slowly becoming a source of healing. 

Following Rene’s death three months ago, my energy levels have, understandably, decreased. The full genuine return of my thru-the-roof zest for life is questionable. But I am hopeful. I’ve not given up yet.

In fact, this alley has become my latest go-to place on my current trippy journey of grief, growth and self-discovery.

I have found solace recently on this vehicular access way – doing lunges down a 1/4 of its length the first day, then a 1/2 the next and today just a bit more. It is private. No sounds of laughter that my heightened insecurities can misconstrue. No curious eyes watching me attempt to make my wet-noodle air punches a bit more al dente. 

There are times in all our lives when, for whatever reason, our joie de vie dulls under the weight of life’s curveballs. But those curveballs need not knock us out… knock us down, maybe… but not out. If we must crawl first to stand again then so be it. 

If the thought of others watching you crawl fills you with dread then, please, consider finding your “alley.” Crawl in private for as long as you need and for as long as it takes. But don’t stop crawling. Never stop crawling. You will be standing by the time you get to the end. -Kim ❤❤❤

Birth of a Femme Fatal

20170606_213326The Birth of A Femme Fatal

She followed the clues of his spirit’s whispers.
Mesmerized by his enchanting coo.
A deep committment to this quest
Her love for him so true.

“Be careful of making ado about nothing,”
Her mother was heard to say.
“I can’t let it go,” her daughter replied.
“These clues are from Rene.”

It was from the heavens high above
that her beloved could now see.
Hidden from his sweetheart’s view
was the truth and final key.

He walked in spirit with his lovely slueth
Setting down many a clever clue.
He strewn them all along her path,
the path where insights grew.

Who truly holds you hostage?
my lovely dear, sweet Kim.
Look within and you will see
it may not be a him.

Find the dark shadow
with the tightened vice
The one with the smile.
The one who is nice.

Listen for the shame
between the accolades
Listen for the blame
between the serenades.

Do you see her aging fingers
pointing at your pretty face?
Kicking you off the pedestal
to put you in your place?

Why is she so angry?
Whatever did you do?
Just look at the words she uses.
Who first said the same of you?

“Femme fatal,” she’s dubbed you dear
You lure and you entrance
You hypnotize your weakened men.
You kill them with your dance.

Her anger speaks of loss, my love
Pray tell, who did she lose?
Who was this man she held so dear
That left her heart so bruised?

He was a man unable to love.
A father. Not a dad.
His his attention was on the ladies.
A regular charmer, a player, a cad.

But his daughter had a dream
one where her father would realize
that she was the prettiest girl
that she was the ultimate prize.

But many hopeful years later,
the father upset that dream.
when he gazed upon his daughter’s child,
within his eyes an evil gleam.

The mother listened later
To her daughter’s  tearful cries.
She heard of her fathers actions,
those of the lascivious kind.

He never denied his nasty deed
Or showed the slightest unease.
Instead he blamed his daughter’s child.
“She’s nothing but a tease.”

Though mother defended the girl,
never has she let her forget.
The poisen of her beauty
and its inherent threat.

 

Removing the Rose-colored Glasses

“Yea, I know he doesn’t have a job and has a temper, but, honestly,  he has a side you don’t see. He has so much potential.”
“I get why my friends call her a ‘bitch’ but, honestly, when she calls me ‘pussy’ or  tells me to “grow balls,” to me, it’s like her way of motivating me to step up as a man.”

We’ve all heard the expression,  “looking through rose-colored glasses.” It’s often used in reference to seeing another person as we want them to BE rather than the reality of who they ARE.

Unfortunately, those rose-tinted glasses often don’t come off until after much pain forces us to remove them. Or they are essentially ripped off our eyes by truths we can no longer minimize, rationalize or deny.

So why do so many of us or our friends don rose-colored  glasses in relationships? Is it because we’re good people prefering to see the best in others? Or because our mates are really good at hiding their flaws? Or because we are just super empathetic by nature?

There is truth to those reasons. But there is also a deeper reason. A truth having nothing to do with our mates, our empathetic natures or even love.

Patterns of minimizing, ignoring or rationalizing the “red flags” within our relationships are often rooted in a need to be loved. It is a need often born in a childhood where feeling valued, appreciated and loved was either not met or not consistently shown to us.

When our need for love, for belonging and for validation was not met as kids we were unconsciously thrown into survival mode. Those rose-tinted glasses become just one of our survivalist tools. We don these glasses for two reasons: A desperate attempt to procure from others that which we were not given as children & to avoid the intense pain of realizing our longing began years before we ever met that latest lover who had “so much potential.”

The problem, however, arises when those glasses come off and we feel shame. “I did it again. I’m so stupid. I’m  broken.” We wage war on ourselves and shame is the vein that runs through every self-critical thought.

But if we’re to stop a painful relationship  pattern, we must look at this need for love and the shame we carry when that need is continually not met. We must ask ourselves, whose shame are we carrying? Is it truly our  shame?  Or the shame of the lover who lied, cheated or withheld information to procure our trust, our devotion and our love? Shame on him! Not you.

And what of the shame of our caregivers when we were young? Are we carrying the shame of a mother who ignored our cries for attention in favor of getting high off alcohol, drugs or the love of a man?  Or maybe that deep shame that envelopes us as our glasses drop to the floor is that of the shame belonging to the father who left us to start a new family, or who used our young bodies to gratify his sexual needs or to expend his rage at others upon us?

No one is born gripping a pair of rose-colored glasses in their tiny newborn hands. We create these glasses to survive. To see the reality of whom the shame really belongs to is to also expose ourselves to the pain we have avoided. The first time we put on those glasses was when we were children who were ill-equipped to absorb the reality of our caretakers’ unloving behaviors. Survival was at stake.

But it’s not our shame to carry. Never was.

To face the realities that necessitated the wearing of those glasses can only be done through clear eyes. It will be painful at first and doing so under the care of a therapist is highly recommended.

But when we begin looking at our lives through clear eyes, something amazing happens. We begin to see more than the painful realities of our unavailable mates and dysfunctional parents. We begin to see the joyous wonders of a life beyond our imaginations. A life unburdened under the heavy weight of denial and of shame belonging to others. We realize that the rose-colored glasses are no longer aiding us but, in fact, blinding us. For the first time in our lives we have sight.

And with this new sight, we begin to create new visions for ourselves.
-Kim Kabar

I write from my heart so others may not feel alone. Please feel free to share with those you feel may benefit. 

 

Keeping the monsters at bay 

 

     I will never truly know exactly what was going through Rene’s mind last month when he walked outside to his balcony, stepped atop a plastic storange container and, seconds later, lay dying on the ground below.

I only know of the man I fell in love with and who wanted nothing more for me than to feel safe.

On the morning he died and in the weeks preceding, Rene fought a major war within his head. Knowing the destructive nature of his enemies that included depression, PTSD, alcohol and drug addiction, aging issues and severe anxiety, I believe my warrior played his final card to protect me. 

Two weeks prior to his death, Rene relapsed, years of sobriety. He was, at the time of his relapse,  desperate for sleep (62-year old, full-time graduate student working two jobs and sponsoring several young AAers) but the PTSD, lack of sleep and anxiety were wrecking havoc in his mind.

I  only knew him three years thus it was during that final relapse that I became exposed to a side of my guy that I can also describe as monstrous. My spiritual training allowed me to remaining loving and to not take his cruel words personally but I maintained firm boundaries because, honestly, that Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde switch scared me very much. I could never have imagined the extreme vileness that alcohol and drugs, combined with various mental illnesses, could do to a person’s  thinking and personality.   Unrecognizable!

During that relapse, when he managed to sober up for a day or two on a few occasions,  he continually told me. “I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you.”

Despite his old, tough,  former gangster exterior, he had always been so extreme in his gentlemanlyness toward me.  In part because he was aware of my history years ago within a marriage of much domestic violence and, in part, cause it took him so dang long to win my affection and earn my trust. I was his “boss” and he was my “forever guy.” We adored eachother. He loved me like so other, he said those words to me continually.

It was that deep love for me that has me convinced that the final action Rene took that fateful day last month was done in the name of love.  With alcohol and drugs impairing his abilities to see any hope, solutions or light, the darkness of his despair could only have been of a degree that felt too overwhelming. Yet, love still prevailed.

Knowing my man’s deep life-long commitment to helping decrease the suffering of others, if he even thought for a moment that the alcohol-infused monster within him would hurt EVEN ONE STRAND of hair on my “pretty blond” head, my guy would fight to the bitter end to keep me safe. He was a warrior that would, yes, even play that last card if it meant protecting me. I imagine his even giving that monster the finger in those final moments when he was airborne without a parachute.

In my eyes,  my guy ultimately proved the victor of that last battle.  My tired battle-scared 62-year-old Vietnam Veteran kept that evil thing away from the woman he adored with his own life.  For this, I am eternally grateful to him for protecting me.

He was a warrior until the end and will be my forever guy until we meet again.

Feeding One’s Soul

Dining solo became a comfortorable  part of my single life during the past few years.  Even after my beloved & I advanced from friends to lovers this past January, I remained committed to enjoying my solo dining excursions. But then, on April 16,  my sweetheart suddenly died.

Food not only quickly lost its flavor, the thought of eating alone, well, left a bad taste in my mouth. Whether one has been in a committed relationship for many years or just a few months, suddenly finding yourself single again is often a sad jolt to one’s system. It becomes easier to stay home then to risk putting oneself amid dreamy-eyed couples holding hands across candle-lit tables.

But the significance of my solo dining trips was not just in the joy of discovering  new flavors.  Eight years ago, following the end of my 17-year marneverriage, I realized that somewhere during those nearly two decades of marriage I had lost myself.  I resolved then that  I would never ever again lose my sense of self within a relationship.

After an intense month of many tears, today I ventured out solo not only to indulge my pallate with the exotic spices of Thailand but to avoid the increasing lure of isolation.

Was it easy? No. I never imagined, just a few months ago, when Rene and I were compiling a list of all the things we would do together as a couple (we’d already booked our trip in August to Chicago and exploring Africa was planned for after our graduations from our Masters’ programs next year) that dining solo would not only be an act of nurturing my identity but also a necessary part of my grieving process.

Easy eats today? No. But necessary nourishment  of both my body and my soul.

– Kim