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Stories From the Edge of Blindness

In 2002, Retinitis Pigmentosa changed my life. This is my story of a slow approach to darkness.

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Retinitis Pigmentosa

Boozy Bitch

This isn’t a pretty story.  Most of my stories aren’t, but this one is tough.  Not tough like woe is me and I need to feel loved and get reassurance tough, just stripped down to the most vulnerable place kind of tough. I debate about writing these posts and sharing them, but it is from these dark places that the truth gets uncovered.  Some may read my blog and think, “here she goes again with her narcissistic journal entry crap”, but I have been a disappointment so often in my life, the idea of not pleasing everyone isn’t new to me.  My hope is that in sharing from the bleakest parts of my heart, I will help someone else understand that they are not alone in their own struggles.

Depression has such strong hands.  It creates a hollowness so heavy, I can’t move.  I can barely breathe.  Every day, for weeks, I have been sitting at my desk, staring at my computer, feeling the burden of my failures so keenly.  I try to write, but my work has no feeling, no truth.  It is all just words that I can’t put together right, words that have no meaning.  I think that maybe I am not supposed to be a writer. I am disconnected from it.  Feeling is much too hard right now.  Poetry has no anchor in emptiness.

I manage to walk the dogs and I see my father twice a week, but besides that, I wait for Joe to come home, for it to be late enough to start drinking.  I escape into the bottle.  I turn my hollowness into mist that makes the pain imperceptible.  I stumble through my evenings, running from the need to tear away my skin.  I contemplate pills and razor blades, the thought of just not being anymore.  When I am drunk, I contemplate these things without sadness or fear.  I have a problem.

I fell in love with booze at a young age.  The first time I got drunk, stumbling, reeling, passing out drunk, I was 12. It was the first time I felt the burden of my existence  become weightless.  It didn’t matter that I was strange or ugly.  Nothing mattered.  I thought I had found the cure for self loathing.  I was wrong.  I continued through my life, a bottle in one hand, the self loathing, failures and depression in the other.  Then blindness came and filled my throat with a despair I thought could only be quelled with alcohol.

When it became impossible to deny that I had a problem, I still refused to say I had a drinking problem.  It wasn’t the booze, it was just a tendency toward compulsive behaviors.  A compulsivity problem.  I kept drinking.  Life kept getting harder.  I drank more.

I reach for the bottle to wash away stresses that are overwhelming, or small.  I reach for the bottle to celebrate.  I reach for the bottle to escape myself, to forget what I have become, what I have always been.  I reach for the bottle so I can have a few hours of not feeling sad.  I reach for the bottle so I can sleep.  I reach for the bottle to silence my dreams.

I don’t want to stop drinking.  I don’t think drinking is a bad thing.  It’s fun.  It’s fun to laugh and get crazy, to be a little bit out of control.  I want to be the person who can drink on the weekend, or just have a glass of wine with dinner.  I am not that person.  I have a problem.  I am ashamed and afraid.  I don’t want to be this person.  I don’t want to have yet another thing to contend with, another failing, another mark on my already decimated record.  I don’t want to admit it or face it.  But, I have to.  I have a problem.  I have a drinking problem.

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Earth and Alchemy

The ace of this, the weight of it…..inescapable. Beautiful poetry from Angela!

Heart Breathings

I think these walls are killing me

in the half-light of the drapery-filtered morning,
breathing is nearly unbearable;
the fan whirs with its white-noised voice,
failing in its attempt at swallowing the stagnancy,
managing only to distribute it in an oscillating,
luke-warm stream that, every few seconds,
blows directly into my face,
making my breath catch in a baby breath gasp,
the unsure gasp of not knowing from where the next will come

I think these walls are killing me

I sit, immobile, acutely aware of my mass,
of the blood begrudgingly pumping its percussive rhythm in my temples,
of the defective dampness emerging on my forehead,
of the ever-growing patches of petechiae-speckled skin,
evidence of an incurable itch that has risen up from the fate that is history-stitched to the soles of my flattened feet

I think these walls are killing me

I long for a singular, bottomless breath,

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Funny Ladies

Although I am not part of the “industry”, I do live in Hollywood and inevitably, I have some friends who are actors, writers (of the film and tv variety), and film makers.  And, some of them are crazy talented.  Susan – Kate Heany is one of those crazy talented friends. She is hysterical, quirky, brilliant and lovely and she has created a web series that you have to check out!!!!  She also has a must listen to podcast called The Quirks!

Rearranging the Furniture

Joe and I have lived in our apartment together for almost 10 years (he lived here 4 years before I moved in) and periodically, we rearrange the furniture.  We love it.  It makes the apartment feel brand new.  It may seem like a stretch, but when I was thinking about my writing the other day, and how much I have been floundering, I drew a parallel in my mind to rearranging the furniture.  When Joe and I start feeling a bit stuck in our apartment, we move things around and clean inside corners that have been long ignored, and we both feel refreshed.  Our most recent rearrange was to move Joe’s desk into our second bedroom, creating an office for him, which means our formerly shared space (what is meant to be a dining area) has become mine.  We were both excited for the change, but (here is where the writing connection comes in) it also ended up shining a light on how much I haven’t been writing.   Continue reading “Rearranging the Furniture”

Beyond Shades of Grey

I never believed that the act of living happened in black and white.  I thought it happened in all the shades of gray, the spaces in between, the cracks and caverns and hidden places.  These past few weeks, I have felt life happening in all the colors that live inside the marrow of my heart, seen that the hidden spaces aren’t grey at all.  Through blindness, I have learned to see the colors and contours of pain and grief, love and joy, so much more vibrantly than when I was simply looking and unaware of what could bloom from the shades of grey, what lurked inside.  It seems cliché to say that through blindness, I have learned to see, but it is true in so many ways.  I have not become enlightened.  I have not become kinder or smarter or better.  I have just stopped looking, and in doing so, life comes into focus so much more clearly than when I took my eyes for granted, or time or space or love.  In just this week, I have felt desperation, compassion, depression, anxiety, affection, love, joy, contemplation, appreciation, despair, bitter disappointment and gratitude.  I have wanted to die and wanted to try to stay alive one more day. I have wanted to venture beyond what I know and I have longed to stay perfectly still.  I have done something new, and fallen back into old patterns that feel familiar and safe.  I have lived so many colors in just one week, not because I strived, but simply because I continued to exist. Continue reading “Beyond Shades of Grey”

In A Word

I am not here. Really. I am taking a break, working on (now 2 projects) with March 15 deadlines, but I read something yesterday that I absolutely had to share.

Suzanne Craig-Whytock, is, in a word, AMAZING!!!! You may know her as the creator and writer of My Dang Blog, the woman who brings laugh out loud humor into our lives every Sunday.  Suzanne has also written 2 YA novels and yesterday had a story published in the first issue of Slippage Lit.  As I read her story, “Perfect Food”, tears streamed down my cheeks, time stopped.  In the story there is sadness, hope and despair, tragedy and kindness, and it does all of this without fanfare.  It is a story that doesn’t try to hard, just gives you absolutely everything, with perfect rhythm and language.  It is perfectly Beautiful! It is a pleasure to read everything Suzanne writes, and I know everyone will love this story just as much as we all love her Sunday offerings of humor.

Suzanne, you are my Hero!!!!!

Stubborn Child

Stubborn Child is what would have been the third in my next series of poems, from a journal called Wildflower Muse. I am putting it out now, because  I have decided to enter a contest with some of my recorded poems, and the first two in this series may be a part of the piece I enter.  Today will also be the last day I post or read any posts until after the contest.  I have my work cut out for me in preparing for it, as I am delving into uncharted waters.

Heather Lenz, the poetry editor for Stepping Stones Magazine, who became a mentor and a friend, went on to create Wildflower Muse.  She published 6 of my poems and 2 non fiction pieces.  I will always be incredibly grateful to her. I will writer more about Heather and her journal in a later post.

If you wold like to subscribe to my YouTube channel, you can do so here.

 

Stubborn Child

When I was four, I wouldn’t let
my mother brush my hair.
I hated the pull and tug,
roots tearing from scalp,
all to satisfy a mother’s idea of what
perfect children should look like.
Long blonde hair and soldier teeth.
Every day she would take out the brush,
brandishing it like a bayonet,
but fear tactics didn’t work on me.
Feet planted and defiant hands on hips,
I challenged her, ready for battle.
I shrieked and raced down hallways,
hiding in dark closets until
she tired of my antics and gave up.
Let it fall out for all I care.
Waif.  Urchin.  Stubborn child.
Months passed without the threat of a single bristle.
The pale strands grew into an unruly dreadlock,
a tumble weed spun from white gold and insolence.
I wore my tangled crown with pride
and a satisfied grin of triumph.
One morning, mother came out with scissors
and cut the dreadlock off.

Tiny Voice

I am so grateful for all of the support and positive feedback I have received since venturing into the realm of recorded poetry.  It may seem ironic that I live in a city steeped in the desire to perform, and yet I have never done a single live reading or participated in an open mic, but I am a quintessential homebody with no desire to feel the light on my face.  Recording my poetry felt like a good middle ground.  If you are interested, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

This next recorded poem is the last from Stepping Stones Magazine, published in 2015.

Tiny Voice

My sister speaks so clearly in her sleep.
I am as thin as the wall and you can’t catch me.
She laughs maniacally,
slumbering on my left side,
Mom on my right.
The three of us, bundled up in her king sized bed
to comfort each other from fears of the night stalker.
Was it he who you challenged in your dream?

Years earlier in the haunted canyon house,
Mom a world away and me terrified
of darkened corners that nightlights can’t reach,
I would creep into your room
and whisper in my tiny voice,
Can I sleep with you?
You never said no,
just pulled back the covers
to invite me into the safety only an
older sister’s arms can give.

 

Blind (Poem)

With poetry and music and images, Carrie Ann gets under the skin of blindness in ways that my mere words never could. I experienced this piece yesterday through a river of tears. Incredibly powerful!

A writer & her sentimental muse

I wrote this poem (which I turned into a video-there’s just something about surrounding your written words with images and music that bring them to life) from a perspective of one who’s slowly losing her vision.

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