Sorry Judy

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It’s hard to believe that the year is close to coming to an end. I type that sentence and question it. For me, it’s been a year of months that sometimes felt eternal, yet the year itself seems to have flown by. Part of me feels like it was yesterday that I was winding down 2020 and then there’s parts of 2021 that feel like ages ago. I guess every year has that quality to it. In terms of writing, this was probably one of my least productive years. There were days, weeks, months, where I felt almost as if so much was happening that I was almost buried in the noise. In fact, what I did write was a book of poems almost celebrating ‘stillness.’ While there was a lot of ‘noise’ in the news and the world and at work, there was also a lot of quiet. Sometimes that quiet was lonely. Mostly it was shelter. It was a place I needed to go to, a sort of refuge to regain strength and hope in my inner world. I have learned, especially in the last few years, I developed into this person (or maybe it’s been in me and I didn’t notice it as much) of production. There was always a poem to write, a person who needed me more than I needed myself, a project that needed to be completed, a body that needed to be pushed to heal or look better. It’s not like that part of me went away. It was very much on the scene all year. I just started to become more aware of it. I am learning to give myself permission slips every so often. I am learning that not everything needs to be done today. I would like to say I allowed myself some breathing room, but the more truthful response is the universe shut me down a lot this year. There’s only so much a person can take on before they wear out. My body decided by April that it wasn’t going to let me go at the speed I wanted to go. I was shutdown in the hospital for a week. I still didn’t get it and tried to go back to work two days after leaving the hospital, where I was for seven days for sepsis. I moved and then had nasal surgery all within a few weeks of leaving the hospital. I would push and I was pushed down time and time again. Eventually, I realized the world would go on if I took time to take care of myself. I already have a list of projects lined up for 2022. This year, in terms of writing, I wrote when I needed to. For the last few years, I would get up and write every morning. I do believe that it’s a great practice. I just found this year that I needed that time in the morning to meditate, to go inward. It was the one time of my day when I didn’t have to be in production mode. I knew if I pushed myself to write, like I have in other years, it would be about producing something versus writing because I enjoy the process. I wrote, but I let the muses tell me when this year. I took a backseat. I was revisiting some old pieces I wrote, and I found this piece I wrote several years back. It was a year that started with me being in the hospital and missing the holidays. The year started that way and it took months to recover. I remember still trying to feel better that July. I wrote the poem I’m going to share at the end of the year that began with me being in the hospital over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday. I wrote it as sort of this journal entry as I was reflecting on ‘the holiday season.’ That year, I was getting to go to Christmas for the first time in several years. The previous year I was in the hospital. The year before my mother had just come home from having a bone marrow transplant, so there was no holiday. That year, 2019, I did get to go to Christmas. Then last year there was no Christmas in my family due to the pandemic. In all my years as a therapist, this year I’ve dealt with more ‘holiday blues,’ than any other year. I’ve also dealt with more people putting up boundaries and saying, ‘I’m not going back to doing things the way we used to, I just want to stay home this holiday.’ I love the holiday season. The holidays are ‘ok.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love to see my family and am grateful for the holidays I have with them; however, I’ve come to realize over the years (by myself and with family) that this time of years magic, for me, lies in the idea of a ‘reset,’ or ‘re-birth.’ We’re given time to reflect upon what has happened over the past twelve months, how we’ve changed, what we kept, what we didn’t. It also gives us pause to reflect on what’s coming, to wonder, be curious, imagine where life is going to take us in the next twelve months. This year, at times, has felt like it was on steroids in almost every area. I am learning and hopefully carrying over into next year the idea that because the world around me is on steroids, I don’t have to be. I can go within. I can give myself self-compassion instead of pushing myself to the brink. My hope is that everyone spends their holiday in a way that fulfills them. To some that is being around family. To others, it’s having a quiet day at home. I hope whatever you do, it gives you what you need. We need to be kind to each other, yes, but we’ve had a lot to deal with in the last two years. People are fatigued. So, my wish is that you do whatever you feel you need to fill your soul up. When our cups are full, we have so much more to share with each other. Whatever you do this year, I hope it’s something that fills your cup a little bit. It’s also remembering it’s a gift to be able to choose. There are a lot of people that don’t have choices of how they spend their holiday. When I wrote this poem, it was celebrating a year (after several with no choice), where I was optimistic that I would get the chance to celebrate again with family. If you do know of someone who has ‘no choice,’ reach out to them. It does not take much. The years I was alone a call, a card, a text, an acknowledgement that someone was thinking of me, was beyond any gift anyone could’ve given me. I’m going to share my poem now. Please enjoy your holiday. Do something that makes you feel good. Also, if you have any extra in your cup and know of someone who could use a little joy, please reach out and share. (I apologize for the strange presentation. The poem has some different line breaks, and as much as I try to fix it on my end, it ends out coming up different once I hit publish).

Sorry Judy..

The songs start to appear like snowflakes
it’s Christmas again.

I wake up and can feel my liver.
Who knew an organ could be so heavy?

I guess there’s a lot to filter out this year: last breaths on respirators, the ash from fires that obliterated the order of the land, the treason of politic…

It’s been a year heavy on the liver.
Still it’s a personal issue to have to feel it every day.

Days spent lying on a mattress on the floor,
lungs compromised. Breathing was not easy this year.

Liver, lungs I wanted to function as easy as I once fell in love, but I remember all disasters that came along with relationships.

It’s early. I get out bed. Christmas songs on the way to work.
Some hymnals, some oddly sexual, some new age, some unbearable sad

(I mean really Judy Garland, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”)

Many are about not being home or missing what has been lost
as the world turns ‘jolly’ for one month and pretends to be at ‘peace.’

Still there are heavy toxins as riots fill the streets, borders do anything but welcome,
towns in Syria and Yemen sit completely in rubble.

Here the songs of snow are plenty. The grass is green, the air too warm for snow
and, my God, along with many Christmas wishes,

I wouldn’t mind your body on mine. I’d like to melt on your tongue.
Tell my kidneys, my liver…maybe a lover isn’t so toxic. Let it go…………………….

Let it pass through me, into my bloodstream. Lord knows,
you were as closed to anything passing through me as a summer runaway truck ramp

Mariah sings it, “All I want for Christmas is you.”
I haven’t decided who you is yet,

But damn if it does not sound fun and sexy,
“Being all lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Perhaps, I have loved silent nights too much,
right now I need lungs to breathe for a year

Just allow the sleep of ‘heavenly peace.’
with my little half moon of a liver quietly filtering toxins.

The sounds a year makes, the pollutants in the air, the amount of toxins a liver was expected to sort.
When a year keeps you up, with the sounds it makes.

The church organ on the hymnals feel like they are rising up somewhere.
I look to the sky, as many in Syria, Chicago, Mexico, do

Where is that star of wonder?
Where is that young virgin capable of bearing a savior?

I spent most of the year detained in bed.
There was some sort of heavy metal upon my soul.

Moments: I did feel you kiss me. I did feel a rush of blood to my head.
I felt those seams unravel as quickly as they felt stitched up.

It did not lead to liberation. It’s impossible to hide from conversations that are happening.
It’s impossible to not feel your liver overworked by toxins.

Your lungs sometimes fighting to push out breath.
When the world’s air is so polluted with inhumane acts.

It’s hard to commit to a kiss, even if it feels wonderful
when you don’t know if you’ll be able to get out of bed tomorrow.

The early Christmas songs have invaded the airwaves,
I want to enjoy them this year and believe

Santa Claus is coming to towns, that all you do want for Christmas is me,
that we can all have silent, holy nights to come.

I want to inhale all these messages into healthy lungs,
and a liver that gets the year off.

Hopefully, I will get to be home for Christmas,
and you will too, and it won’t have to be ‘blue’ and ‘if only in our dreams.”

-Sorry Judy.

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