Trauma is terrible. Multiple traumas in a short span of time is especially damaging, and that feels like an enormous understatement in my mind. I see it like this.

In 2015 my ex wife and I almost split. I went through one of the worst experiences of my life where she, just as she would later do when she ended the marriage, not only smeared my name to all of her friends and family through one-sided, partial truths, but also had an emotional affair with a married man. At that time I had also made a lot of mistakes in my marriage that added to the near-split. Neither of us were innocent, but nonetheless I was severely hurt to say the least. However, I felt vastly more capable of handling it back then. Though very wounded by her actions, I felt like I had more of a support group in my friends, and as far as my family goes, things were mostly the same as they’d always been. Our traditions —birthdays/holidays spent together, weekly lunches with my mom, dad, and brother—were still in place. I had not yet experienced true trauma, so was simply dealing with emotional pain of a complicated, hurtful relationship.

After this period passed and my ex and I attempted to mend the damage done (deciding we were indeed staying together) I was depressed, but still felt, at my core, a sense of normalcy. This is also when things began to change for the worse.

My brother decided to pursue a relationship in Seattle, and moved away. Weekly lunches with my father, which my brother and I went to every week since we were small children, slowly dissipated. First bi-weekly, then monthly, then rarely at all. This was my fault due to the driving distance, but also for fear of my dad driving to meet me, as he was aging rapidly. After my brother moved, family get-togethers seems to slow across the board, and when we did get together, there was a big part of us missing. Dedicated lunches with my mom and brother also stopped, and since I had moved quite a bit far to the south, I saw less and less of my family and friends.

This slow decay lead to my first true loss when my dog, Jackson, died in late 2018. I’ve written about this previously so I won’t go into details, but the event was the first where I felt true loss. He wasn’t just a dog, but one of the smartest, wisest, and caring creatures I’d ever encountered. Further, he was the first dog my ex and I had gotten at the beginning of our relationship, and his loss felt like an omen. Despite this loss, I still feel like I could return to what I considered normal, and for the most part that was true as I navigated the grief, and eventually came to terms. Not to minimize the effect, but he had died expectedly, of old age, so it was all part of life.

In 2019 I started to feel better. I was exercising, and felt a bit of a personal renaissance. My health was getting better, my work life was great, and I had begun to work on some exciting personal projects in regards to animal charities. I even sold my business for an amount of money I’d never imagine having, and spent a bit of Christmas season in New York City, joining my business broker in a high-rise that seemed to be carved from a single block of marble.

But, that’s when things turned south, for me, and for so many others, when Covid hit in 2020, which sent me into extreme isolation. My cousin, a person I’m close with and one whom lived in the same house for 20 years (a comfort I took for granted when visiting) left his wife. Friends of many years fell away for different circumstances, and relationships with 2 of my best friends were broken or compromised. All of these things were emotionally survivable I believe (meaning I feel as if I could have healed from them), and my ex and I were weathering the storm as best as we could.

Then, in October 2020, my father fell and broke his hip, his death coming about a week later, and though I’ll leave out the details for now, it was completely unexpected. This is where things really started to change for me. This death of a parent changed who I felt I was, and rooted in me a sense of doom that I haven’t begun to escape. The pain and trauma was starting to add up, and I began to feel fear, fear of living, fear of what’s going to happen next. As an agnostic, I plead to the ether, hoping something would listen, to please, just give me more time before something bad happens to me again. Emotionally I was the equivalent of a turtle without its shell, a fresh locust having just shed it’s carapace. I began to wonder how much more I could take.

In May 2021, my very special friend, dog and therapy animal, Ollie, passed away unexpectedly. This event hit me so hard that it felt just as bad as when my father had passed, and yet worse because of the accumulated trauma. I bawled like a baby after he passed, and was nearly inconsolable. I’ll leave that for a previous entry as well, but in short, the trauma took root even further, and it began to feel like it was taking up a permanent residence in my gut, and my chest, and my poor mind that looped an untethered red-alert, screaming at me: “Look out, protect yourself, DO NOT GET HURT AGAIN WE CANNOT TAKE ON MORE PAIN.” I was on a code red, and I had no idea how to handle it.

Fast forward 3 months form that point, and I discovered my wife was having an affair. As an individual who lacked empathy on so many occasions, one who was simply wired differently from me and could simply not understand the depths of my trauma, I’m sure she saw this as a way out. From my side however, I experienced such cruelties from her actions and treatment of me, that the affair itself was one of the lesser offenses. When I begged her to give me time to process my grief (before I knew of the affair) she yelled at me “I can’t help you with that!”. When I asked her to just understand where I was coming from, she once again scorned me, stating: “I’m no longer going to listen to me here you say you want me to tell you ‘I see what you’re saying.”. When I asked her of my suspicions of the affair, she berated me and made me feel foolish for even considering it. She turned her parents against me by lying to them about what happened. She went to incredible lengths to keep her affair as a secret as to not tarnish her image or accept accountability, and instead vilified me.

Compared to the issues we faced in 2015, where I gave plenty of reasons for her to be angry, this time I had done nothing but try my best to navigate extreme grief and depression. I stayed home and surely withdrew from her, but it was because she rarely provided a kind ear (as you might guess when she refused to “see what I’m saying”). I became frozen. During the collapse of my marriage, I posted lyrics of songs to try to capture my feelings, and on one posting about a song stating that the author can see nothing out the window (lyrics that spoke to my relation to my grief), my ex sent the post to a friend of hers, and they jointly made fun of me, stating that it made no sense, and “what is he trying to say, that he’s sad!?”. This is partially due to the extremely toxic nature in which men who are dealing with depression are treated, but primarily due to my ex’s insistence on bad-mouthing me and presenting me as an imbalanced individual to her friends and family. Rationalize and justify was her entire MO. She could only do wrong based on the image she projected to others, not her own actions, guilt, or sense of accountability.

In the end, this was the final blow that I feel has changed me forever. Combined with the collapse of my support group, and the dispersion and loss of my family structure, I don’t think I’ll ever return to the pre-covid version of myself. Since covid, I’ve lost my dog, Ollie, My dad, my wife and the dozens of people associated with her (specifically her mother and father, who I cared for deeply). This loss has put me in a place of constant fear, a permanent, sky-gazing glance constantly on the search for the other shoe falling.


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Every day is nearly the same. Four months after my wife split with me, a years since my dad died, seven months since my Ollie dog died, and nearly every day is still the same. I wake up and feel decent enough. I take my medication, and I go to work. Things are typically fine until around 2pm, and that’s when the gloom sets in. After the gloom, the anxiety ramps up, and that’s when I start to have a difficult time fighting off the negative thoughts. Thoughts of the trauma, how much she hurt me, how much life has thrown at me, and how I can’t seem to get past it all in the slightest.

My life is fine. I have a nice house with no mortgage. I drive a nice car, and I have plenty of savings, very little debt, and a very awesome little 8 month old puppy. On paper, I’m fine, I’m going to be okay physically and financially, and I have great clients and exciting projects. But, I’m not at all fine. My anxiety is crippling, and I can’t tell how much of it is simply due to my inherently anxious disposition, or how much is because my psyche simply cannot process all of the trauma I’ve been through. The world is ready for me to move on, and my logical brain is more than ready to comply, but the deep down, emotional brain is in full control these past six months, and I can’t seem to wrangle it back in. My emotions—the hurt, the fear, the utter confusion— they are fully in control, easily brushing aside the logical voice that constantly tries to self-assure, it will be okay, I am okay, focus on the breathing, bring it all back to right now. I know these things to be true, but my emotions are that of a wounded animal, one seated and programmed from years of trauma, and one now unable to live in what is by all means extreme comfort.

The inside is so wounded. I am so very lonely, hurt, and so terrified of life that another part of my brain tells me simply to protect. To guard, to keep them all away, those that might hurt me again, those that I think may love me, the way I truly thought my ex wife loved me. But that rug was pulled out from under me, violently forcing me into a phase of life I’d never planned for, an a mindset that is in a constant mode of forced self-soothing, minute by minute checks and reassurances that I never fully believe (I’m okay, things are okay, I’ll be happy again one day, I’ll learn from all of this, one day it’ll be worth it) only to get through another day.

I worry that my body and brain have now somehow locked themselves into this mode of constant anxiety and fear. I feel it every single day of my life, this sense of impending doom, this terrified inner voice that whimpers “Please don’t let something bad happen again,” like a pleading infant. Regardless of my surroundings, of positive experiences, of new relationships that truly show me that something better is on the horizon if I could just heal my wounds even a bit. That feeling is always there, the fear, the deep lack of trust, like a wounded animal, but where my wounds are solely internal, deep down in the blood, and in the hormones, and in the perhaps-permanent synapses, now malformed to cater to a new master.

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This week has been rough, as I expected it to be. The 23rd is my ex-wife’s birthday, the first I’ve spent away from her, and also a time where we’d typically be at her family’s house in Chicago. Unfortunately due to the way my ex handled the split, I no longer keep in touch with any of them, so in that sense I feel as if I’ve lost an entire family. Her mom, dad, and brother, but also her friends that we’d visit with, her family’s friends that I’ve known for over a decade, her extended family. They’re all lost to me now thorough false villainy she imposed on me to somehow justify her own actions. It’s appalling, but mostly just so very hurtful that her self-image was more important than handling the situation with compassion. She cheated on me while I was grieving, and even I can understand her excuse for an exit from the complicated emotional state I’ve been in, but she chose to spin a web of false stories, and a white-washed version of the truth that not only made her look completely innocent, but went the extra mile to instill in people that I deserved it. It’s been brutal to say the least, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that it’s not entirely surprising.

Anyway, today is especially tough because Christmas Eve was when we typically celebrated with my Dad. In the early years he would come over to my childhood home with a bundle of gifts. Sometimes we’d go to his mom’s house (Mammaw) and unwrap gifts there before coming back to unwrap more. Regardless, they were some of the best Christmas memories of my life. Later on, after he remarried, we would attend some of the best Christmas parties imaginable at his wife’s brother’s house. Into adulthood, we would simply go to his house to enjoy his cooking, which always meant chicken and dumplings, and his family-famous banana pudding.

I’m doing fine processing it so far, but the grief comes in spikes, like a random spear thrown in an ambush. Those spikes have come often this week for so many reasons, ultimately from my extreme sense of loss and loneliness, of the sense that things will never be repaired, that my life has become far too fractured. I know logically that it will of course get better, but this feeling, something that I feel has merged itself with my very identity, is that lack of trust I mentioned in my previous post. I don’t trust myself, struggle to trust others, and don’t trust life itself. Unfortunately in a sense, life has become my enemy, something that has prodded me and assaulted me far too many times for me to forgive, or to understand why. I’ve been fully disarmed, dismantled even. My armor has not only fallen away, but also stolen form me, and meticulously hidden.

I don’t think I’ll ever find that armor if I’m being honest, will never be as strong as I was when empowered by naivety. Yes, there’s irony in that notion, and of course I’ll be stronger in many ways, but I have been so grievously wounded that I know I will never claim the power of my original mindset. That mindset allowed me to love openly and completely, to give myself fully to my partner, and to believe them when they said they loved me also. Because I believed, truly, that this was the case, and was therefore entirely defeated, outwitted, and left with nothing but self-doubt. How could I have been so wrong in my true gut feelings? How could I ever trust them again? Further, who would be willing to be so patient to let me work through them?

Saying all this, I still have hope, as faint as the glimmer truly is. Sometimes I feel pressured to leave a positive spin, and for the moment I can’t honestly say I feel it’s the truth, but there are moments where I understand that things will be okay, that I will get strong again. And though I believe I will most definitely not don that original armor, and feel its truly gone forever, I believe new armor can be forged, beaten and frail as it may be.

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I hope not to fatigue

I know my line is a heavy thing to tow

But I’m trying to make it as clear as possible

A slice through crystalline water,

it comes and it goes,

as a shadow cast,

and we both, knowingly armed,

with wisdoms we never hoped to claim,

absorb its darkness,

glance at each other, 

like aged oracles,

and move on.

We take it all in,

things above and below the surface,

undistracted, and fully absorbed,

in the beauty of now.

All things right in front of us.

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The holidays. Yes, they’re extremely hard, but not in the ways I expected. My father died unexpectedly in October 2020, and that was the start of when my mind started to change. No matter how much I soothed myself, how often I tried to come to terms with his death, something in me had changed. When a parent, or when someone who has become fused into your life so definitely, is lost (through death or other means), then something inside changes. In a way, I think this is trust for life. You lose trust, lose faith that things are going to be okay, lose faith in the human-made notion that “things happen for a reason”.  The finality of death is a true shock to us human beings. All of the little things… small disagreements, behaviors of the person you lost, unsaid words, unforgiving actions from both sides… all of that comes to an end. You will never solve them, never get closure on things you, perhaps only in your subconscious, hoped would one day resolve themselves.

With my father, there were many things from my childhood that hurt me, but I’d come to terms with those and forgave him before he’d passed. My father was a difficult man, with a lot of anxiety and what I think was insecurity, but he was a good person, and he treated us well. My understanding of him was that he did the best for who he was. Of course it could have been better, but it could have been so much worse. He took us on tiny vacations, picked us up every week for fishing and lunch/dinners, celebrated every birthday and Christmas, and, especially in his older years, became very sweet and loving. I miss him terribly. I miss his texts and his over-reliance on emojis. I miss sharing random life events with him, and still get a prompt from my mind to shoot him a text whenever something fun or eventful pops up in my life. The permanence of loss, that those things are forever written in stone, complete, unevolving—that’s one of the hardest things one learns about true loss of a loved one. Their story is written. Another items I struggle with is the memories. They are all different now, as I expressed in the poem “Two Weeks”, each memory now has a disclaimer. Good memory or bad, each time I think of one, a little voice inevitably chimes in… “But he’s gone now.”

Last year when my ex and I went to look at Christmas lights, my anxiety grew to a level where I had to pull over the car. I told her I can’t do this, that it’s too hard. Not only was I thinking of my dad (who had only passed 2 months prior at that point) but the anxiety was doing a number on me. Anxiety is such a complex, conniving thing, utterly complex and devious, but it is also incredibly sophisticated. I consider myself a decently smart person, but most of the time I’m no match for how anxiety works, the web it weaves within that is knot-like and granular in its approach. This night, when anxiety was overhwhelming me, it wasn’t simply because I missed my dad. That would yield sadness for the most part, but my heart was racing, and my hands were shaking. Afterward, after a few days of thinking it over, I realized that the anxiety was there because I was supposed to be having fun. Looking at Christmas lights was supposed to be a positive experience, one to be enjoyed with my partner, a break from the sadness.

But I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t able to have fun, and further, I wasn’t able to express this to my ex, how complicated these feelings were, that I felt that I’d only disappoint because I simply couldn’t enjoy the experience at the level that was expected. In her defense, she was kind and understanding in the moment, but ultimately I can’t deny that grief played a part in the implosion of my marriage. It was too big for her, and due to the way her brain was wired, she didn’t have the patience to deal with it, and ended the marriage 10 months after my father died. But that’s not the point of this entry, if there is a point.

This year, I never expected my thoughts to be even more clouded, my life to be an even sadder place than it was one year ago, but here we are. I’ve come a long way in understanding myself, and yes, I’ve learned from the tragedy and trauma. That can be a smal commodity, and again one born mostly out of societal expectations: Good always comes from bad, everything happens for a reason, etc. I have a hard time believing those things. With the compound trauma I’ve experienced in the past two years, will I have learned about life, myself, and the behaviors of others? Most assuredly. But the thing is, I don’t think I really want to know those things, never asked to learn them, and question the benefits of knowledge vs naivety. Another phrase, one incongruent to those mentioned, is ignorance is bliss, and that’s a phrase I tend to believe in quite a bit more. I’ve been handed the most complicated riddle of my life, and my opponent on the other side of the board, is a formidable one, a shadow from which I only catch fleeting glimpses.

Time, however, will tell, and time is already beginning its glacial manner of healing. I can feel it, and after quite a bit more of its work, perhaps I’ll come to a different conclusion. Perhaps that conclusion will make me see that the true answer is not in others, but in myself. Stand alone, and stand in comfort. Time is the only thing that can rival trauma, the only thing clever enough to untie the knots that come with my level of confusion and despair. Or, if not untie it, to loosen it, to teach me the intricacies of the knot itself so that I might better understand, or at least to accept its presence. Perhaps when I achieve that feeling, that’s when I’ll begin to trust once again, both in other people, and in life itself.

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There are times when I feel the first sign of healing. Well, let’s call it healing, I’m not exactly sure what it is at this point. It’s a feeling that thoughts aren’t quite as raw as they were just a few weeks ago. These thoughts, memories of times good and bad, speared through me and caused such anxiety that I could barely function. I can only describe them as atrocities, the bad things that happened to me, the regret I had in my own actions along the way. Though my ex had an affair, and the split was solely her decision, I’m plagued with memories of times I could have tried harder, of my moods that perhaps caused their own form of toxicity, of the way I simply closed down due to lack of trust. Likewise, I felt the anger, again the ‘atrocity’ of it all. I had done so much for her, put everything I had into the relationship (though I could have done more) and regardless, I ended up thrown away with such speed and lack of thought, that the 16 year relationship now feels like the biggest regret of my life.

These are only a slice of the thoughts that haunt me, but in the past week, I’ve felt something lift, something so very minor, perhaps a 1% improvement, but it’s something so very noticeable, because I’ve felt nothing but total despair for nearly 4 months. In these times, I’ll bask in that little nook of reprieve, and try my best to push outward, to stretch it into something more.

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Sullen, sallow, hollow boy,

Carved out and cut away,

Like shredded remains 

of placenta,

malformed clusters, clumps of flesh-food

Human remains fed upon by something

that devours without teeth.

Scraped away, viciously pulled.

cut into ribbons.

The womb now



Blood for life, tossed aside,

thrown in the trash.

Cells once ripe,

nourishment syphoned,

from its writhing mass,

now still, now



And yet,

a fetus, 


lives on—








to grow, to thrive,

to flee, eyes forward,

with fresh feet and strong legs,

to forget about this        

            repulsive         mass

writhing and boneless,

no more than a sack of flesh,

trembling with anxiety,

its services complete.


Twitching within the debris

ichor of life, sucked dry,

this sullen boy stirs once more,

to form soft bones,

and calloused feet,

from companion trash-things,

and buzzing masses,

likewise tossed aside, 

by a cannibal of trust,

reborn from the lifeblood,

of death after death after death.

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Neighbors to the left were Jones.

The right, maybe closer to us,

Paulette, and mother Pearl Hicks.

Some cannibal of kindness,

An oyster’s prize plucked away.

devourer of minds,

Me and you and she astray,

Maybe some don’t know or feel

But I think about her, in my way.

Lost and alone, but found her way home.

sign in the yard, for sale, she sees,

but no but no but no

pleading, softly, until it speaks…

Oh hun, the past is passed,

and this time, we’re playing for keeps.

Pulling of hair, snapping of sticks

They carted her back, poor Pearl Hicks

Like blinking lights

I still see her there

See you all, still there

Hold you in my arms

Hold all of you near

my family, like families before

and families since

Cursed with nostalgia, or blessed

I’m constantly paused, transfixed.

Forever, I will see you there

Carrying us Into the ether…





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Foil /seran wrap 



Some memory of man

[gets in car]

built this car. This tool. That gets me to other tools,

made from other memories.

Some other memory built this other thing. 

And this memory caused one to think of another memory or some other thing that triggered another memory. 

How can I know    if this is one of mine or,

Oh yeah, that one thing, you know.

fake, ephemeral things.

collapsing into air, dust.

Seems like they always collapse, huh.

being things of dirt. things from dirt.

collapsing comes easy.

Memories ultimately won’t mean much.

Memories of memories of memories

things and things and things

when we are dust.

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