My Stained Glass Window

[I have always known what was going on. I have always understood. A memory. From Thursday, 11 November 2010. Less than three weeks after everything that was had come to an end.

I’ve been walking
Through the remains
Of who I was.
The me that shattered.
Like a plate of glass.
When a brick hits it.

Little shards of glass,
Fragments of who I was.
And like that shattered glass,
All the kings horses
And all the kings men
Can never put who I was
Back together again.

As I’ve said all along.
I will never be the same.

But as I wander
Through the remains
Of the life that was
I find things of value
Here and there.
That I don’t want to lose.

But you can’t put shards of glass
Into a new glass plate,
Can you.

Shards of glass are used
In stained glass windows
Don’t you know.
Works of art
That they become
Made for nothing but
Tiny bits of colored

And as I walk along,
Through the shards of glass
That are all that remain
Of who I used to be.
I understand what it is
That I will become.

For I will collect
Shards of glass
From what I used to be.
And sculpt them

And I’ll stain
Each and every shard.
In the colors
I want them to be.

Day by day,
And step by step,
I’ll find new shards of glass.
For the parts of the new me
That I’m going to someday be.

And I’ll take all the parts,
Both the old ones
And the new.
And working carefully,
And patiently,
Like an artist would,
Making stained glass art.

I will put together
A new
Stained glass

And that stained glass me,
Will be more beautiful
That any plate glass window
Can every be.

And more beautiful
Than the former me.

It will take time,
I know.
But isn’t it so true
That anything worth doing
Just takes time
To do?


I Intend To Find Out

My doc asked me a tough question today. “Mark. Don’t tell me what you think. Turn off the logic. Turn off the reasoning. Tell me how you feel about that.”

I couldn’t.

Yeah. Me. I couldn’t. Me, the guy with all the words, and I couldn’t say how I felt. “Angry. Hurt, Wounded.” I rambled on, single words leaking through the filters in my head. “Denied.”


And it’s not the denial everyone knows about, everyone understands. I’m not denying the truth. I’m not denying evolution exists, or the universe is 13 billion years old. Nothing like that. I’m not denying people consider me their friend. Not denying I’m good at what I have elected to do in my life.

I’m denying me. What I feel. I’ll start my explanation with a story, like I always do.

When I was in 8th grade, we moved from Annapolis, Maryland, to Chesapeake, Virginia. With the move came a change in school systems, and a change in available classes. On the day my Father took me to Deep Creek Middle School, to register for classes, and continue my 8th grade education, I had to make decisions about classes. On the spot, in the moment decisions.

One of those decisions was specific to Math. In Annapolis, I’d been taking “Introduction to Algebra.” Chesapeake didn’t offer Introductory Algebra. So, I had to make a choice. Take regular 8th grade math, which everyone knew I’d cake walk through. Or, take Algebra. Real Algebra. Where I was 6 weeks behind the class.

I suppose a sensible human would have taken 8th grade math. But a sensible human would not have raced through the decision process I went through. I didn’t think about myself, and what I was capable of, or what I wanted to do. I didn’t consider being afraid of taking Algebra. My decision process was very direct. I considered my Mother, and my Father, and what would make them proud of me.

I picked Algebra.

By the time I was in 8th grade, my decision process already denied what I felt and wanted. What I felt and wanted was expendable. What I did was what I believed made those I felt were the important people in my life proud of me, happy with my decisions.

I told my doctor, today, I buried what I felt in my backyard, so it was hidden, and no one could see it, or find it. Not even me.

There are many more stories. I shared another one with my Doc today. Told him why I decided to get his help, and start therapy. It wasn’t a decision I made. The truth is I didn’t want to find help. Because I knew, if I found help, I’d have to deal with everything.

What did I do? How did I end up finding my Doc? I sent three e-mail messages. One to Gina. One to Judy. One to Lorrie. Three messages to the three people I trusted at work. I didn’t ask my family. I didn’t ask my friends. I couldn’t. Don’t ask me to explain why. I can’t. I don’t know why.

I cut a deal with myself. If I got no responses to the e-mails, or if I got three negative responses, or three, “It’s your choice to make” responses, I would avoid therapy. If a single response from one of those three messages said, “Yes,” I’d get help.

All three responses came back positive, declaring I needed to get help.

I kept my end of the bargain. I got help.

I’ve been asking myself lots of questions these past few weeks, because I’ve known I had another step to take in my life. Another journey to make. More to explore. And today, I’ve started into that strange world.

I don’t know what I feel. I know basic things. I know when I’m hungry. I know when I’m tired, even though I don’t always admit I am. I know when I’m in physical pain, though I don’t always admit how much.

But I don’t know what I feel.

“How do you feel about that, Mark?”

“I don’t know.”

I want to write. More than I can explain. More than I can understand. It’s an irrational thing. It doesn’t make sense. There’s not a procedure for writing. Read ten books on how to write a novel, and you still won’t know how. Writing is a personal thing. I don’t write the same way you do. I don’t write the same way my writing friends do. I write my way. My friends each write their own way.

But writing also frustrates me. Hell, it infuriates me. Because it’s not predictable. I can’t tell what I’m going to write. When I sit down to write a flash fiction story for a weekly challenge, I don’t know what will happen next. I don’t know what I’ll write.

What I write could be funny, scary, moving, touching, frightening, or infuriating. It could even be about butterflies and ants and other insects, long after humans have followed the dinosaurs into oblivion. I don’t snap my fingers, and presto, words appear on my computer screen.

In that same way, I don’t know what I feel. Oh, I know if I’m happy, or sad, excited, or bored, I now the obvious. Just don’t ask me how I feel about something. Don’t ask, “How do you feel about that, Mark?” Because I can’t answer. Because I don’t know.

And it’s going to take a while for me to change what I learned so long ago, when I learned to deny myself. When I learned to bury what I felt. When I learned to say, “I don’t care how I feel. I’ll do what I need to.” When I learned my feelings were expendable.

And they were.

Until 4 years ago.

When everything I buried in the backyard started surfacing, and I couldn’t stop it.

I wonder who I am.

I intend to find out.

I Knew : Dream

[Author’s Note: I knew what was to come. Some part of me knew. Here’s another piece of the puzzle. Further proof that some part of me knew what was happening.

This piece I wrote on 18 August 2010. Almost 2 months before the old me died, and the new me was born.]


I will share with you
The dream I had today.
It was a dream of you.
And of what I would do
If I ever see that hurt
And fear
In your pretty eyes.

I would walk to you.
And stand by your side.
And ask you please
To trust me.
And then
To close your eyes.

And then I would
So gently place
My hands upon your shoulders.
So you would know I’m there.

And I would have
Just one word
That I would softly whisper
In your ear.


Dreams, I have learned
Have a power all their own.
And though I know
Dreams are not real,
They are a gift to me.

A gift of someplace special.
Inside my heart and soul.
A place where I can always go.
A place where I can rest.

And when I’m in that special place
The things that haunt my life
Simply cannot follow me.
And for a time I’m free
To live once again.

In my dreams
I smile.

But dreams
Are only dreams,
I know.
And always
They must end.
Leaving me
To face this world
That I live in
Once again.

But for a time
However short,
Because I had a dream,
I had a chance
To catch my breath.
I had a chance
To rest.

And always
When my dreams end
I am ready
To face my world
And whatever
My day brings.

So I would have
Just one word
That I would softly whisper
In your ear.


I Knew : Lost Knight (06/30/2010)

[Author’s Note: I knew what was coming. Some part of me knew. Some part of me knew that something in life was drastically, disturbingly wrong. Some part of me knew things had to change. As proof of this, I have only to look at my own words. Written in the days before the person I was died, and who I am becoming was born.

I’ll start with this piece. Written on 30 June 2010. Over 3 months before everything ended.]

Lost Knight

How do I hang on?
How do I keep going?
When all I want to do is

Go silent.
And watch it all burn
Until only ashes remain.

How do I hang on?
How do I care?
When nothing I do

And it all rushes headlong
Toward oblivion?

How do I explain?
How do I help?
When everything I touch

Goes dark.
And cold.
And dies.
And another part of me
Dies with it?

How can I hope?
How can I dream?

When the light has gone
And the darkness has returned.

And all I can see
Is black.
And all I can feel
Is cold.
And all I can want
Is escape.

And all I can say
Is silence.

As I watch the demons
Of the soul
Destroying everyone.
And everything.


Turn my heart to stone.