sadness took center
stage while joy waited in the
wings for an encore
sadness took center
sadness took center
stage while joy waited in the
wings for an encore
The other night,
I had just finished
or other and found
myself between shows.
The words floated then
formed in my mind—my
life is between shows.
No way I want to go
back; no idea what is
ahead. I can’t count
the times I was dead
certain about what
was next, what was
coming, or about love.
Wrong every time.
Hope was a train wreck
looking back. Decades
of deserted track. But
the train never stops;
I never arrive. Don’t
you see? The train
never stops; I never
get on. My life is
I listened to a sweet
big band sound that
still makes my heart
Sang in Berkeley Square.
I listened as though I was
there in 1940. I wasn’t.
When those who are
supposed to love and
protect you don’t, you
fill the gap by loving
something they loved
instead. They are long
gone. But the nightingale
will always sing for me.
I’ve had the same server for over six years
except for today. I couldn’t help notice
that Fong sneezed a lot. (Not good for me
and my not so immune system.) I noticed
that I was the third customer of the day.
Not surprised. I walked in soon after they
opened. It was getting busier as I left.
Sherlock Holmes will have to wait for me.
As I turned off my Kindle, I figured I gave
Amazon, the CIA, the FSB, and God knows
who else my lunch location. Happy Valley
to the 17; 17 to the 101. Doing about 75
in the left lane. Lots of traffic. I was passed
by cars all the way to my exit. A big tractor
trailer with big balloon tires pulling a flat
bed swerved into my lane. No signal.
Texting no doubt. Auto-reflex—I swerved
into the HOA lane. Then safely moved
right and went on to my exit. I was too
early for my appointment. Starbucks. Tall
hazelnut latte hot. College kids all around
me on Macs. How can they afford them?
Students always get great discounts on
laptops and software. These companies
want them on board as soon as possible. The
laptop in front of me has an Arizona State
sticker on the cover. From my left, “Excuse
me. Will you watch my stuff?” “Sure. No
problem.” She returned to her Mac and
school books. EMDR up next for me. O did
I need that coffee! My phone started to
play “I Love to Love.” I answered it. Dumb
recorded marketing call. I hung up on the
word “resort.” Two sips left. Then I drove
a few blocks down to my appointment. I
did EMDR today. Working through over a
half century of abuse is, well, hard work.
See, I told you I shouldn’t have told you
ahead. I went to the store on the way
home; not what I planned. I’m in too
much pain to walk Thunderbird today.
They had two out of the four items I
needed. If it isn’t a hot seller, they don’t
stock it anymore. No O-rings. Only two
kinds of plumber’s grease. Not what I
was looking for. Then, on to take in
some dry cleaning. I live in T-shirts
here in Arizona and wear a few shirts
here and there. Suits and ties are
dinosaurs in my wardrobe. They’re just
hanging around. My health can only
improve. Another Memorial Day has
past; I’ve got to stop looking back.
Watching “Patton” didn’t help much.
I miss being in the Army. Very true. And
replacing it has become my lifelong
personal quest. For tonight, a mystery-
slash-comedy, so she can nap before
bed. Well, this post got too long. I think
I’ll split it in two, so you don’t doze off.
I’ve concluded without deep thinking or any
intelligence applied, that my electronic
world doesn’t differ very much from my
real world. Better said, it occurred to me that
they are parallel worlds subject to the same
dysfunction of mine at any time. They are
not exempt from my stupid choices or those
choices that result from my dysfunction.
Having said that, my healthy choices can
also happen in either world. So we can both
keep our sanity as I write this and you read it,
I’m not going to discuss my fantasy worlds
here. That content would be better suited to
a secret poems collection (toying with the
idea). Recently I told you I went back to
Windows for whatever reason. I am happily
typing to you from openSUSE in Firefox
today because I figured it out. My long love
affair with Microsoft is rooted in my gray
side, not to be confused with my dark or
secret side. Gray is that place where my
dysfunction bleeds into my light, healthy,
and joyful side. My world of light still has
some gray, some dark, some of this, and
some of that because I’m not perfect, but
healing. I’m far less dysfunctional today
than I was years ago—one year ago or forty
years ago, etc. After I loaded Windows this
time, I detected a false sense of hope. There
was no going back. (Not enough space here
to try and explain it; but I knew a bunch of
old stuff was feeding this simple choice of
OS. It wasn’t based on anything healthy.)
The simple fact is that I can choose Linux
as my OS without the dysfunctional strings.
Dysfunction tries to destroy anything good.
Somehow, I led myself to believe that I had
to keep up a level of electronic chaos in my
life. Not so. The dysfunctional reason why
I was flipping back and forth from OS to OS
was based on old fears. When I walked into my
office at home, sat at my red desk, and turned
on my laptop, I was flying through a self-made
black-hole. I was living my version of Jumanji!
Okay, I’m not really nuts, just working through
my life, through the residual effects of abuse.
Dysfunction becomes part of survival; like
making believe dark is light and evil is good.
I’m doing better. EMDR has been and remains
a life saver for me! I’m happier and I make
better choices. But dysfunction is something
I always have to deal with, something I always
have to choose not to do so I don’t screw up my
life. Better choices bring better consequences.
Am I getting unclear or bogged down here?
Let me give you my short list of dysfunction
defined based on my own life experience
as a result of childhood sexual abuse and
lifelong abuse in many forms:
dysfunction chooses dysfunction
dysfunction loves dysfunction
dysfunction attracts dysfunction
dysfunction produces dysfunction
dysfunction believes dysfunction
dysfunction doesn’t believe dysfunction
dysfunction destroys dysfunction
dysfunction can never be satiated
dysfunction lies (to you and everyone you
come into contact with)
dysfunction kills (you and everyone you
come into contact with)
I’ve said this before: no one deserves abuse
in any shape or form. It wasn’t my fault.
That is enough on that for today. No use
making us both depressed. Without healing,
without changes, a life of dysfunction (alone
or in dysfunctional relationships or marriage)
would have us believe that the chaos we live
in, the Living Hell on earth we are drowning
in, is “normal” and as good as it gets.
Don’t believe it. Wrong! Lies!
The Lord Jesus promised us an abundant and
joyful life. Dysfunction doesn’t believe that.
An unhealthy life, e.g., one filled with abuse
and dysfunction, isn’t able to receive anything
good. If you’ve been abused, then you don’t
trust God or anyone; you don’t believe God or
anyone. You may say you do. But you don’t.
(Dysfunction lies, remember?)
Well, I don’t call these poems “Odds and Ends”
for nothing! How did I get here today? How do
I bring this to a close? I’m reminded that God
loved us before we loved Him. So, it makes
no sense to believe I have to wait until I’m
“perfect,” totally healed, or completely
without dysfunction to make good choices.
I was so excited about walking the other
day. I was planning on walking today, but I’m
in too much pain. Unable to do it. That is a
result of circumstances not dysfunction. So, a
downward spiral is not my choice. I resist the
dysfunction baiting me; I choose to continue
in my peace and joy for today. Life is good. I
think I’ll go check the mail, then finish
watching the movie I started the other day.
And have a lovely peaceful hot cup of tea.
I got out early on purpose today. I had Moo Goo Gai Pan on the brain. And steamed rice. Simple chicken and vegetables seemed like a great idea. I ate slowly because I still had forty minutes before my next EMDR session.
Well, sort of. These are sessions in between EMDR sessions. For several weeks now, I’ve been drawing a large sectioned chart of my life starting at birth with detailed notes. It is amazing how much I’ve not thought about in many years. It is equally amazing how much trauma, pain, and abuse I’ve forgotten, squashed, not thought about over the last fifty years or so.
Last session we covered Vietnam. This session we got through my life after Vietnam, at the AADA in NYC, and back in the Army again. Language school and Ft. Myer. Thailand, Korea, Ft. Dix, etc. A minefield of poor choices, bad relationships, abuse, and more abuse. I was going to chart more, but I couldn’t. I felt like silly putty in a puddle on the floor. There were good memories, too. A number of good things; but a number of bad things. I felt like the bad outweighed the good.
Most of the people who abused me as a kid, young adult, and adult were supposed to be trusted. Family. Friends. Marriage. Sixty years of abuse is all I can take! Enough already. You will never get approval from anyone who abused you. Family, friends, wives, or other. Doesn’t matter. Add to that bad circumstances. And, well, it makes for a tough time. (These thoughts specifically on “approval” came to me when I read a blog I follow; the one about a family member abuser. But I was thinking about too much to leave a comment. You might say this blog post is my comment.)
Lying here on the floor in my puddle of self-pity silly putty won’t improve anything either. This is where the truth comes in. I learned that I was never ever in my lifetime going to get approval from my mom and dad. You don’t get approval from your abusers. The fact that they have been dead for many years doesn’t soften or change that. It won’t change; I might like it to change, but it won’t.
I can only get approval from one source for free whether I believe it or not, want it or not, deserve it or not, etc. God approves of me no matter what. That is all the approval I need for a lifetime and for eternity. God’s love for me is unceasing and unconditional. Not dependent on me at all.
I’m approved. On my worst day I have God’s approval. In my worst hour, I have God’s approval. No one can love me more than God. No one will love you more. Can you hear this? I hope so, because I wrote it more for me. To remind myself that I am loved and approved forever by a God who is unchanging and true, when everyone we loved (or thought loved us) failed us. I may feel like crap. I may feel beat up. But it can’t change the truth. God loves me, approves of me, and is good.
I’m happy to announce that “Volume 1: Shift Key” has been published by CreateSpace and is now available on Amazon in paperback (and for Kindle). It has over 300 pages of poetry, haiku, and commentary from 2012 through the end of 2016 that I wrote here on WordPress. If you feel so inclined, buy a copy to read at your leisure. Here is the link: Vol 1: Shift Key on Amazon.
And don’t forget that my earlier poetry book, “The Boy in the Mirror,” is also available on Amazon in paperback (and for Kindle), full of original poetry that I wrote from about 1970 to 2011. (Only in book form; not on my blog.) This poetry collection was described as follows:
“Alan L. Slaff’s poems read like tiny stories, and his ultra-descriptive images transport readers to the scene and inside his thoughts. His collection of poems causes the heart to fill with empathy and the soul to connect with a kindred spirit. This rich journey includes poems Slaff wrote from 1970 to 2004 and from 2004 to 2011 for this expanded 2nd edition.
From his father’s distant nature to the laughter of children in the streets of Vietnam, The Boy in the Mirror covers the entirety of Slaff’s experiences, whether agonizing or ecstatic. In telling, through verse, of his feelings and thoughts, he highlights the emotions and needs of all people in both mundane life and in the deepest places of the soul.
Whether the reader follows his poems to a diner, where a lemon served with tea becomes a connection to customers with a life he envies, or to the unbearable flashbacks of sexual abuse that he describes in the title piece, Slaff conveys his feelings in a fiery, affecting manner.
Shorter works include ideas that punch through in creative terms, and his longer poems offer narrative-style takes on divorce, passion, death and the purpose of living. Slaff creatively ties normal routines with life-changing events.
A childhood of dysfunction, assignments abroad that taught many lessons, and terrible heartbreaks that left everlasting marks all contribute to the impact of this remarkable work.”