Characters: RON- age 67 CHLOE-age 24 LANDON-age 36
Ron’s Apartment, there are piles of stuff everywhere, picture frames hanging on the wall. Ron is sitting on the couch chewing beef jerky watching the TV. There is a knock on the door. It is his daughter Chloe . It’s about 3 PM and Ron is still in his pajamas. Ron, disgruntled, gets up to answer the door. Chloe is carrying a bunch of groceries in her hand.
RON:( opens door) Whadda ya want? CHLOE: Oh geesh! Is that any way to greet your loving daughter ? RON: Eh, you were interrupting me doing something important. CHLOE: Sure, sure… now could you help me out wit one of of these bags before one of my arms falls off. RON: (he takes one of the bags) Eh-I don’t know why you need to buy all of this stuff. CHLOE: You mean your medicines, food, basic necessities for you to survive on. A basic ( CHLOE almost trips on a miscellaneous food wrapping) thank you would suffice. I told you to clean up some yesterday-you know the landlord— RON: Landlord, shmanlord, She always threatens the same crap. “I will throw you out if you don’t clean. All bark, no bite. The old biddy shouldn’t care about what I do in the comfort of my own home as long as I pay her rent. CHLOE: (starts to sit down-removing several car magazines) I wouldn’t be so sure of this. You know she has handed management over to her son. Do you really need all of these issues of Car and Ride magazines? RON: Bug off! Will you? Nobody asks you to come over! CHLOE: Dad (CHLOE goes to RON to put her hand on RON’s shoulder) It’s been over six months since mom died, perhaps-
RON shoos CHLOE’s hand away
RON: I don’t want to talk about it. It’s none of your damn business! CHLOE: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…it’s just— RON: Nothing. You are worrying about nothing.
There is an awkward moment of silence as RON has his back to CHLOE. CHLOE is trying to come up with something to say.
CHLOE: I guess I should go (CHLOE starts to get up tentatively) I have another errand to run. RON: Good. I wouldn’t want your old man getting in the way of you doing anything important. CHLOE: God! I just wish you wouldn’t be so… RON: So what? CHLOE: Nothing. I’ll leave you to your “important” tv watching.
CHLOE skips swiftly to the door
CHLOE: Bye dad.
RON goes back to sitting on the couch with a blank look on his face and stares at the TV.
I was never the marrying kind Don’t know why I forced myself into that line Maybe because of society’s expectations I made marriage my destination But it wasn’t really who I ever was Forever is not meant to be in my book of love But still I tried for seven years And by year 7, I ran into my biggest fear I felt trapped in a cage of my own making Happiness, contentment, and authenticity I was faking But it was never truly me Living this suburban reality And one day I wanted to sleep forever My mind collapsed from society’s pressure to continue this facade of being the perfect wife With my perfectly imperfect life My authenticity I had to put aside I’m a wife and mother of three There’s no such thing as being free But these were the lies I told myself The critic in me I learned to quell I learned I could be a mother but not a wife My husband took our relationship’s demise in stride There would no more anniversaries We were done with self imposed forgeries And a new chapter started with us One full of laughter, friendship and familial love
Faulkner wrote about her ancestors She stood like a pillar of strength between her mother and daughter She stood strong as both of them held her arms that were their life jackets as they drowned in endless sorrows Tears silently fell from her face as her father laid in his closed home And the reverend went on about him being in a better place And her strength did not falter, She let her loved ones hold on tight while she tried to blink away tears , She swallowed her pain and absorbed the pain from those around her She wasn’t just strong for her mother and daughter, but she was a goddess of strength among the mere mortals around her that wept
I wrote this poem in December of 2016 after my almost love affair with death on December 5th. It’s strange how aside from my journal entries from that month, I hardly remember that month. I just remember feeling so broken inside and like a failure after that happened that it was so hard to get up every morning. I do know that writing saved me during that time because I started journaling way more consistently. I would learn years later after being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder that up to 10 percent of people with BPD die by suicide. Five years later, I’m glad that I had people by my side that prevented me from becoming one in ten. I’m glad that afterwards, I was able to slowly come back from thiseven if I was mostly depressed the year after and it was a fight to get up every single day.
For more information about the high risk of BPD and Suicide, here is a link from Psychology Today with info about it:
I wrote this poem in fall of 2005 when I was feeling overwhelmed by my responsibilities of being a mother, a girlfriend, a student and a worker. As usual at that time, I took on too much and was trying to be everything to everyone. One trait of BPD that I’ve carried throughout the years is over extending myself sometimes to my detriment in order to make other people happy.
I wrote this in 2006 after I was reflecting my first years of being a mother to my eldest child who I had at 17. Becoming a mother at such a young age didn’t make me the best parent and at times I still tried to act my age and party a lot even though I was a parent. It used to eat me up inside but I’ve come to terms that I did the best I could under the circumstances.
The debut collection of poems Visceral from Melia Cogan is appropriately named since it will make you feel a multitude of intense emotions internally. As a person that feels intense emotions, I loved this book. The book is divided into 3 sections titled Love, Rage, and Death. Reading this book felt like going through a roller coaster of emotions-from sexy to anger to sadness. Personally, for me, this is a good thing. I resonate with poetry that makes me feel my emotions. I picked my favorite poem from each section. This was hard since all the poetry in this collection is amazing.
The first section Love captures the magical feeling of what it’s like to be in love, make love, and be loved. Her poems in this section makes even the most jaded of us feel like there is a world where love is possible. The first poem “Daemon-Lover” leaves you breathless with the raw emotion and sensuality felt throughout the poem. The second stanza is fire as it states, “With a spirit strong as seventy/As his throbbing passion sears me/ With its ‘blind encompassing throbbing power ”(Cogan, 22-25) It makes you feel like you are witnessing passion on display. You might have to take a cold shower after reading this poem. The other poems in this section not only capture the passion of being in love but also the complexity of other feelings that come with it.
The next section of the book is Rage, and you feel the anger and rage within this section.
My favorite poem in this section is Women’s Inheritance which captures the essence of what’s like being a woman in the 21st century. It addresses the misogyny that our modern patriarchal society continues to administer to women. The poem also conveys the disappointment that women feel after being used and discarded nonchalantly by men. The sixth stanza captures this feeling as it states, “Finally, you who I love with my whole self / Could not display this mythical manly bravery/ To tell me the truth/ Why not?” (Cogan, 30-33). The other poems in this section captures the anger felt with different experiences in life ranging from expectations in relationships to abandonment issues. Cogan expresses a raw truth about anger that most people are afraid to express and that is a kind of bravery you don’t see often.
The last section is Death and I’ll just say that you should have a box of tissues by your side because it will probably make you cry. In this section, Cogan is versatile in exploring the theme of death. In this section, my favorite poem is Remember Me for the Birthdays which is how the poet wants to be remembered by her loved ones. The eleventh stanza conveys this as it states, “Remember how I filled you with the urge/to push forward and explore/To engage life, expanding in all good directions” (Cogan, 37-40). Cogan is skillful at portraying grief in a conscientious manner that’s both thoughtful and respectful.
Melia Cogan brings a raw vulnerability and talent to her debut collection. I highly recommend this poetry collection if you are looking for a versatile collection that explores the depth of the human experience. I’m excited to read and review her next poetry book, Love Pangs. Below are the links for both Visceral and Love Pangs.
It was April of 1996 and I had just broken up with my boyfriend of 3 months after he had grown distant from me. I was in a world of despair and teenage angst and longed to no longer exist. I was feeling this rush of intense sadness as I was walking home from school. I looked at the cars on the street and thought about how easy it would be to end my sadness if I got run over by one. As I was alone in my thoughts, I stopped paying attention as I crossed the street and wasn’t aware that a car was coming. It stopped within inches of hitting me and the driver honked at me and yelled at me. I continued to walk in shock of what had just happened. I didn’t know then but I would be walking into many more BPD episodes like this one.
Fast forward to the summer of 2021 and I’m 40, the mother of 3 kids, work 2 jobs, and have a complicated love life. I decide to go back to therapy due to some recent trauma and driving anxiety. I do a 3 hour assessment and when the feedback comes back, it’s there on my concept map: I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I expected the driving phobia but the new diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder was definitely unexpected.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
According to Mayo Clinic, “Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is amental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships.“
What are the signs and symptoms?
An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel
Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all
Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours
Impulsive and risky behavior, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship
Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
Ongoing feelings of emptiness
Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights
Causes for Borderline Personality Disorder:
Genetics. Some studies of twins and families suggest that personality disorders may be inherited or strongly associated with other mental health disorders among family members.
Brain abnormalities. Some research has shown changes in certain areas of the brain involved in emotion regulation, impulsivity and aggression. In addition, certain brain chemicals that help regulate mood, such as serotonin, may not function properly.
Risk Factors include:
Hereditary predisposition. You may be at a higher risk if a close relative — your mother, father, brother or sister — has the same or a similar disorder.
Stressful childhood. Many people with the disorder report being sexually or physically abused or neglected during childhood. Some people have lost or were separated from a parent or close caregiver when they were young or had parents or caregivers with substance misuse or other mental health issues. Others have been exposed to hostile conflict and unstable family relationships.
Learning about this disorder has been overwhelming and also life changing. Some of my friends didn’t think it was possible for me to have BPD because I’m too nice. I was also kind of in denial at first until I did the research and thought damn, my life finally makes sense to me. I’ve been coping with intense emotions since I could remember and have a pattern of risky and impulsive behavior and sometimes self sabotaging my own success and romantic relationships. One minute my mood can shift from happy and joyful to full on anger and sadness if I am triggered by feelings of rejection, abandonment, being criticized or judged. I also have a tendency to villainize people if I feel threatened by them. Also, when I feel like my life is “too normal” or “too boring”, I seek out an adrenaline rush and create chaos.
Throughout the years, I’ve leaned some healthy coping mechanisms like journaling, writing poetry or blogging, exercising, mediocre dancing and singing. I’ve also had some unhealthy mechanism like drinking, binge shopping, binge eating, having sex for only validation purposes. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better with time because I’ve become more self aware of myself and my need to survive not only for my myself but also for my kids.
I’m hopeful that with this new diagnosis of BPD and therapy, I’ve have way better coping mechanisms to become a better version of myself. I’m hopeful that going on this new journey, I’ll not only be surviving but I’ll be thriving. I also hope that I heal the girl in the picture above who was a teenager trying to find love for within the arms of a any dude because she didn’t know how to love herself.