When Life was a Bad Dream (a poem)

When Life was a Bad Dream

When I was a little girl, swinging, playing happily I had no thought for the future.
Children live in the now.   And believe.
I believed my parents loved me and each other; they would never hurt anyone.
I believed the world was good and safe, even as I couldn’t conceive of sorrow or regret.
I didn’t know that someday

I would need to understand my parents and forgive.

When I was a little girl I loved heart shaped ice cream bars and storybooks,
and running barefoot all summer long.  I remember back scratches, and hugs after bad dreams,
and I remember a sense of wonder about life.
I began to understand, though,

that Daddy’s get very angry,
that Mommy’s can be sad and afraid,
and that children are a problem.

I learned that the world was scary,
even as I couldn’t conceive of bad things happening to me.
Then I began to wonder

in my confusion.  Wondering
if this would be the fight that ended everything.  If this time she would sink
down so far she might not come back.  Like Alice in Wonderland
shrinking to a place I couldn’t find.
And then, I wanted to go with her to that sad, safe place of no return.

When I was older I discovered I could find that place myself.  Sometimes I would hide
in bed with a book all daylong.  And later, much later, when I got so used to hiding
from my pain, I would hide in alcohol, or work, or shopping.
Whatever I could find to make the sadness stop.  I was being crushed by it.
I had no hope and never realized life offered possibilities.
I would disappear into a crowd of friends and a glass of wine.
It was safe to be invisible, silent, and placid.
I began to hide, just like Mom.

After years and years of hiding,
I was finally coaxed out into daylight by my husband’s love.
The sun felt warm, the world was a place of promise.  And in time, I found
I could hear the birds, taste and smell again, and popping into my head
were opinions, feelings, and judgments.  Sometimes they would erupt out of me
shocking me and those around.

I began write.  To create

beauty, to grow things.
At first I didn’t want to admit this story.  But I had hidden for so long, denied

what truly occurred.
I knew, telling this tale was a part of forgiving.

It was then, I began to consider that I was the one Jesus loved;
the Jesus I never knew.  You see, when someone cruel tells you about Jesus,

you can’t believe that God would really love you.

And if Jesus did, why did he allow

forty years of lost days and nights?

Sorrow.  Melancholy.  Lament.

That mystery I have considered for years.  And years.  I asked

why was my father so angry?  Why was my life so      very      difficult?

And will life ever be easier?  Here’s the thing.

If it didn’t happen that      way.  To      me.  I wouldn’t be Me.
What I have learned is that who I have become is important.
And so I sit in the early morning darkness,
In the quiet of this beautiful new life,  remembering.
It happened, the past.  It hurts,
to remember.  And to say out loud

that fear was my life story.  I was Fear.

I close my eyes to look back more clearly.  What I see
is a fusion of good and bad, there was laughter and there were tears.

The jumble of heartache, worry

even terror became an argument for hate.  But sitting here I know
when life is most terrifying, when your grief overwhelms,
when your possibilities are gone

what you choose matters.

Somehow, I found love.  Or love found me.  Either way it’s good!
We scratch each others’ itches.  We smell and taste life as fully as we can.

And allow our little ones
to run freely, some might say wildly.  But we are exuberantly facing life,
believing, and mostly living      in      now.
Bad things will happen.  I can’t stop them.
We make a world of possibilities for our children and ourselves.
And it is in the choosing Hope,
Choosing the Life that Jesus offers, it is in the doing

differently

that I know I will forgive.   And I will live.

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