Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Life is a series of detours

“........Being a great writer doesn't mean being the most clever with language; it can simply mean having the courage to give voice where others cannot." 

That comment was written by someone on a blog post I wrote titled, "The Best is yet to come" The comment has been playing over and over in my head. I've been looking back beating myself up for stepping away from my blog and from writing for so long.

Why do I do that?

It’s an old pattern. I dive in, go so far, and then find some reason to stop. I give up on myself and I go get a traditional job or I tell myself I’m too busy; I’ll never become a real writer. I tell myself I’m not good enough; no one wants to hear what I have to say. It’s a rabbit hole that I seem to repeatedly go down. It’s fear and it’s shame in one of the many forms that it disguises itself in and shows up in my life.

Fear of judgement. Who does she think she is? She’s where? She's doing what?

It’s a paralyzing fear. The kind that keeps you so firmly planted in the shadows for so long, that when you finally turn toward the sun and grow, no one recognizes you. Today a version of that fear lingers in the voices of the small town, small minded gossip I imagine as my thumb hovers over the “post” button for far too long.

What will people think? 

It’s old shame. It's not measuring up to a standard set by people who don't know the whole story.

It’s also bullsh*t.

Didn’t I shed that fear and shame like 50 lbs and a marathon ago? Seriously? Get over it, Darcey.

Maybe you don’t just get over it. Maybe you live with it. Maybe it requires mindfulness every day to not let it trip you up and take you back to who you were. Maybe you have to take back your power and use it to keep yourself awake and living the life you want when you get side tracked.

Because you will get side tracked.

I don’t know. What I do know is that you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. The theme to write has been popping up everywhere. A friend of ours has been nudging me to write. John has been nudging me to focus on writing. Life has also presented me with an unforeseen opportunity to dive back in.

My old friends, fear and shame, have popped up again too. But I see them now. And yes at times I still do feel them intensely. But the difference today is that I acknowledge them and then I take my power back. Practice makes progress, not perfect.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Huffington Post writer, Amy O says that life is a series of detours and the key is to love your detour. I actually wrote some of my story for her, "I love my Detour" series and she published it. Thinking back on it has been a much needed reminder.

I’m so grateful to those of you that have stuck with me and continue to find value in my life and my words; on the highways when I’m going 90 across the country and on the slower roads where I sometimes find myself back in the last house of the dead end street.

Life is a series of detours and you'll never know for sure where they lead unless you have the courage to travel them.

 “........Being a great writer doesn't mean being the most clever with language; it can simply mean having the courage to give voice where others cannot.”

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Asking questions when you don't have answers

I remember when I used to have all the answers. Well; kind of. When my life was predictable and safe it was so easy to have answers. I just kind of stayed in the bubble of what I knew. These days, outside the bubble, I feel at times like I'm clamoring around.

Who am I?

I often think of the words of my friend, Jim Callan...

You are not what you do.
You are not what you own.
You are not who people say you are.

Ok. So who am I?

I meditated on that the other evening on a walk. Deepak Chopra says we are our deepest desire, though society and most of the world tells us we are most definitely not. Often when we trust and follow our personal desires, we are seen as selfish.

I don't really know for sure yet what I believe. What I do know is that as hard as it is, since trusting myself more, it's within this effortless breath of being and learning to love unconditionally, both myself and others, that I'm finding a new sense of peace and presence. I am more present, more often these days than I have ever been in my whole life.

I had a hard 3 mile run last night and as the sun was getting ready to set, I found myself wondering if I ever really did have all the answers, or if I simply lived my life within the questions I knew and was comfortable with.

New questions bring new answers.

It's easy to know the answers when you ask the same safe and predictable questions. It takes courage to ask new questions. It takes even more courage to not have the answers everyone wants and expects you to have. But you know what? Sometimes you just don't know. And in the words of Maya Angelou......"You do the best you can, and when you know better, you do better."

Who am I?

The truth is, I'm not totally sure who I'm growing into. I've always defined myself by my jobs, my roles, my titles, other people's opinions, my past. I've never asked myself that question when every single label and title has been stripped away.

What I do know?

I am not what I do.
I am not what I own.
And I am most definitely not, who people think or say I am.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Right now. Right now I'm sitting on my porch with a cup of hot coffee in my latest favorite mug. It's white and over-sized with a shiny gold handle. There's an arrow pointing inside and on the outside it's inscribed in beautiful shimmery golden print....

"Wanderlust... a great desire to travel and roam about"

So fitting.

The birds are chirping and there's a perfect breeze on this oh-so-comfortable front porch. I can hear the kids laughing and playing during their recess at St Mary's School on the corner. The irony of being in a place so comfortable but so uncomfortable does not escape me. How do I hold the comfort of this moment with the discomfort of my life at this particular place and time? Even more so, in a place I have lost all desire to try to fix or fit or make anything other than that which it is?

How do you hold unbridled excitement at the prospect of something new with the sheer fear of the unknown? Tell me. Do you know?

My days have been spent pulling the tattered string of an old light bulb.

Light on.
Light off.
Light on.
Light off.

I am a contradiction in so many ways.

I want to cling to a feeling for more than a moment. I long for adventure alongside stability. I long for passion alongside comfort. I long to know all that I don't know. I want to sneak a peek at the ending but the pages haven't been written yet. It's maddening. I'm so tired of rereading past chapters. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This I know.

I am no stranger to discomfort. We know one another by name. He has always come and he has always gone. But this discomfort has taken up residence and isn't leaving. I try to quiet the noise because in the moments I can quiet my mind, I've started to hear a whisper. The whisper comes wordlessly and I, being the master of words, always attempt to capture it.

I long to make sense of the non sensible. I want to know why. How did I get here? Why am I not living within the white picket fences everyone expects of me and that every woman is supposed to want? Why must I color outside the lines?

My mom's words weigh heavy on my soul.

"Why can't you ever just be happy?"

I really don't know.

I've always longed for more. I've always been curious to see what's just around the bend. I've always been pulled to go just a little further. A 5k? Ok. How about a 10k now? Next stop? Marathon.

I've spent so long doing what everyone else wanted. "Look pretty. Be quiet. Be a good girl." There was once a time I colored in the lines. I stuffed my pain in boxes and wrapped them all in colorful paper and bows and I sold them as my life.

But these days I prefer the unwrapped. I prefer the inside to the outside. Running over walking. Present over past. Real over pretend. Truth over lies. Circles over squares. Mornings over evenings. Passion over duty. Words over silence. Bravery over recoiling. Love over apathy. Real over fake. Fans over critics. Truth-telling over social media likes. Reaching over settling. Eccentricities over normalcies. Forgiveness over anger. Messiness over perfection. Genuine over bullshit.

Wanderlust over complacency.

Why can't you ever just be happy?

I really don't know, mom. But what I do know is that I've finally experienced some of the happiest moments of my life since I've found my way here, on the other side of that question.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The best is yet to come

Mother's Day 2017 and I find myself perched in my attic. I have this relentless desire to unburden myself and make myself weightless, able to fly away at a moment's notice. All that I've collected through the years suddenly feels so heavy. I want so badly to unburden myself.

Part of me wants to dump each and every box that's filled, right in the trash, without a second look. But the part of me that pulls me back from doing that is the reason I am here in the darkness reading the anniversary cards and birthday cards signed with words like, "love always, mom", "love, your dad", "forever yours", "all my love" and "the best is yet to come."

The best never came.

45 years old and life has taught me more about what love is not, rather than what love is.

I pulled out an old yearbook and one of my report cards slipped out. My eyes were drawn immediately to the glaring failing marking period where it all went down.

Why hadn't anyone noticed? 

The truth is, you can't think about the square root of pi when you're trying to think of how you will force yourself to get out of bed in the morning.

It's hard to memorize the periodic table when your mind has instead memorized every detail of the bathroom you were trapped in.

Shall I calculate the seconds it took my drunken mind to understand what was actually happening to me?

Shall I participate in the class discussion on inertia? The inertia that plays in my mind over and over and over again? The inertia of a one hundred and ten pound teenage girl trapped in the bathroom with a 40 something 250 plus pound man?

God damn it do something. Fucking DO something. Anything. Scream. Run. Do something.

Because once was not enough, shall we discuss the science of waking up in the darkness to this larger than life monster groping me yet again? Or the boy beating him as he cowardly ran out of the room in his white undershirt with his arms over his head as I sat rocking and shaking on the bed? It's ugly, isn't it? You don't want to think about this, do you?

Neither did I.

...........I sat on the end of my mom's couch sobbing, with my legs pulled tightly up to my chest and my arms wrapped around them. I was trying to make myself as small as possible, hoping if I could make myself small enough, I might actually disappear and all of this would just go away. 

"Why were you there? You were drinking? You aren't allowed to go to parties. You aren't allowed to drink. You aren't old enough....." 

Her questions felt like bullets coming at me, accusations that would eventually become my guilty verdict and a life sentence of shame. 

"Listen to what she is telling you. Do you hear her?" the priest said to my mom. 

"Did he rape you?" she finally asked. "If he raped you we go to the police. If not we never talk about this again." 

The words just wouldn't come out of my mouth. And so began the weight of decades of silence.

Who knew silence could be so heavy? 

"Happy Mother's Day, Mom," I thought to myself, and I finally I whispered the words, "Yes Mom. He raped me, Mom." 

It's taken me many years and running thousands of miles to put the lid on that box. The good news?  I was a survivor and I did what I needed to do to survive. The bad news? I learned it wasn't safe to say no, and so in many ways I raped myself over and over and over again after that. 27 years as Darcey Corkins, people pleaser extraordinaire to 18 years as Darcey Elias, people pleaser extraordinaire.

As a grown woman now, I really have forgiven my mom. I know she did the best she could. I'm fairly sure she was a survivor of sexual abuse herself. She couldn't give what she didn't have. And yet just the same, here I am, an adult woman in her attic crying on Mother's Day. Sometimes even when your brain gets it, your heart still hurts.

Moving from box to box, in no particular order, I started asking myself why I had saved all of these things? I have notes from second grade friends. I have notes from childhood visitations where my mom had tracked the number of times I waited with my suitcase for my dad, who never showed up. I have reports from Child Protective Services where I am talked about as if I am a prize to be won or a pawn to be bartered. I have so many mementos of times I'd rather forget.

Why did I bring this stuff? Why am I holding onto this stuff? 

Yep. I've carried it all with me all these years. I wonder what my life may have been like if I hadn't brought it with me? What if I had let go of it a long time ago?

No. I made sure to bring it all.

Several years ago, after moving to a new city and still strapped to our old hometown house that never sold, we spent 4 years apartment dwelling. Finally, it was coming to an end. We rented our first home to a tenant, and in doing so had established it as an income property for the required number of years. The bank had set us free to buy a second home. My only prayer the past 4 years had been to get the girls back in a home of our own before my oldest daughter went into high school. We closed on the new house the same day as her freshman orientation.

I remember we had left moving the stuff from the apartment attic for last. We didn't think we had much and decided we could move it ourselves without any help.

"How long do you think it will take?" I asked.

"We can have it all packed to move in an hour probably." he replied.

Hours later, as was so often the case with us, we realized in hindsight that we had grossly underestimated the amount of time and work this would require.

The truth was, we had accumulated and carried a lot of baggage; so much baggage.

We spent hours upon hours, just the two of us, carrying box after box, tote after tote of memories, down the attic stairs. There were boxes neither of us had even looked in, in years; me especially. I had spent most of my life in his boxes, trying to help him unpack them, to no avail. I'm guessing that's why I'm having a difficult time now, finally learning to sift through my own.

The enclosed steps to the attic were steep, with a pitch more like a ladder than a staircase. After that flight, there was another outdoor flight to navigate, steep but not ladder-like steep, before hitting the final 6 or 7 steps to the ground. I vividly remember the carrying of the boxes was agony. My legs were on fire and my arms ached from the countless trips up and down.

If only I had realized back then that I didn't need to bring all that stuff. 

But back then letting go just wasn't an option. I didn't know how to let go. I held on tight to what was familiar regardless of if it was good for me or not.

Letting go has been a slow steady process the past few years.
It feels uncomfortable at times.
It feels freeing at times.
It feels torturous at times.
It feels embarrassing and shameful at times.
It feels lonely at times.
Sometimes I feel like a failure.
And sometimes I feel like my life is finally just beginning.

Most of my life has been spent holding on so tightly. I believed strength meant holding on, but sitting here throwing away so much pain, I'm finding a very different kind of strength in letting go.

Wishing. Hoping. Dreaming.

The best is yet to come.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A girl who likes to write a story

It hit me in the shower today.

Maybe I'm not really a writer. Maybe I'm just a really good storyteller who likes to write. I mean I don't have any extra special metaphors up my sleeve. I'm not really simile savvy. Onomatopoeia? Not exactly me-ugh.

But just the same, I love writing. It's my passion. And for some reason there are people who like to read what I write and for that I'm eternally grateful. There's nothing quite like feeling connected to someone on the other side of the world, through just a shared feeling. This has led to lots of thoughts. Because if I'm not a writer, who am I?

I thought about Fr Jim Callan and something he used to say....
We aren't what we do.
We aren't what we own.
We aren't who people say we are.

 Well, who am I then?

The domino effect of this naked a-ha shower moment sent my mind down a path further than any long run or marathon. I've defined myself by other people most of my life beginning with my daughter and sister identities and ending with my wife identity. I fell painfully short in all of the above.

My mom and I disagreed and argued. A lot. The more she tried to hold on tightly to me, the more I pushed her away. She loved me the best way she knew, but like so many people from my childhood, I saw her as suffocating me, and my spirit. I've always felt like a means to an end, but that's a story for another day.

Picture this..... there's a guy out in the ocean, flailing his arms and begging for help and someone to save him. But when you tried, he clutched on to you so tightly that he pulled you under with him and soon you were both drowning. What do you do? Eventually, you decide to save yourself. You painfully start swimming toward the shore to love him from solid ground, hoping he starts swimming too. Then, you beat yourself up for not being a stronger swimmer and finding a way to save you both. 

As I re-read that last paragraph as much as it perfectly describes my life, it's misleading. The truth is, it became the way I defined myself most of my life and in most of my relationships until recently. 

Savior extraordinaire. No need to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, sign me up.

It's also misleading because the time between being that savior and finally finding the courage to start swimming to the shore to save myself, has taken me about 40 years.

Yep, you read that right.

It wasn't until I turned 40 that I started swimming toward solid ground to save myself. Right now I'm in mid swim. I've jumped off the cliff, and I'm somewhere between who I was and who I want to be.

Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to running? The marathon was the perfect manifestation of all this. It changed me. It marked a beginning and an end.

I've written many times about my childhood dream of getting myself to the West Coast. Ever since I was a little girl I would dream of the West Coast. I'd dream out my bedroom window trying to bury my fears and figure out how I could get myself out of my circumstance and to this magical place, that at the time, was the furthest place I could imagine. Fast forward to 2010. Same house I grew up in, on the same dead end street, my head laid on the pillow next to my mom's head as she laid dying. I found myself fearful and crying, and once again wishing to be a million miles away and dreaming of getting myself to the West Coast. I promised myself and my mom in that moment that someday I'd find my courage and make the journey.

I've flown there several times but fear kept me from achieving what I originally set out to do. Drive myself to the furthest place I could imagine.

The plan isn't so much about adventure. It's about healing my heart and conquering my fears and doubts that I can get myself wherever I want to be.

I define me.

I've been waiting for the perfect time to make this happen since my mom died. That time is now. If I wait for the perfect moment, a newer car, enough money, or any number of other things, I could be waiting a very long time. Life is short.

That said, I'm planning to make the trip in just a few days with my good old Toyota Highlander and about 1,500 bucks. When I arrive, I have the luxury of a friend's generosity in staying in an empty beach house on the Pacific, exactly the furthest place I imagined as a kid. Crazy, right?

It seems the perfect place to heal my heart and finally put together the story I've been working on the past 5 years. It's time to close some chapters and write some new ones. I can't really imagine a more perfect place to do it than the place I first dreamt about from my bedroom window on that dead end street.

And besides, it will make for a great story too. And after all, I am a girl who likes to write a story.

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