Posts Tagged ‘in society’

“The Demise of a Marriage”…..a poem.

March 12, 2014
Sea Eagle, Janekohutbartels, wc, 2006

Sea Eagle, Janekohutbartels, wc, 2006

For the last eight years, I have been locked in a relationship with a wonderful woman, my therapist, Liz.  I went to her back then because I realized something was wrong, and I didn’t have any answers.  It was immediately obvious to Liz what was wrong, but it would take years to convince me what it was.  I was an ACON,  an adult child of a narcissist.  This person was just the first in my life.  I went from my parent’s home into marriage with another narcissist, though I didn’t have a name for him, or understand what had happened for many years.  But Narcissists run on a continuum, and when you are unlearned as to the behaviors, you really can’t understand what is happening.  But the fallout comes sooner than later.

Narcissism is a modern evil.  You  trip over narcississts in daily life. They are prominant in tv shows, in the work place, in churches and temples,in schools, where they make up the basis of bully groups and budding sociopaths,  in families, in communities and community groups, on the internet, in politics  and amongst ‘friends’. They are abusers of others, and litter most paths of our lives.  Today there is more information as to where and what they are, but still we are taken by suprise at the prominance of these people. We watch tv and the narcissistic behavior there runs from subtle to outrageous.  We begin to think this is ‘normal’.  It is not. In many cases, as in ‘real’ life, it is pathological. Learning about Narcissism gives us some understanding and abilities to avoid them.  But not always. 

Liz encouraged me to write about my childhood, and surprisingly, I started to write poetry. I had never written poetry and for some reason, this clicked. Sonnets, freeverse, cinquains, quatrains, and later tanka, choka, haiku just tumbled out.  What was happening was therapy through verse.  I found my voice in poetry. But  I almost never  wrote about myself.  Nature, spiritual issues, politics, history, influences from Japanese medieval literature, all these formed the basis for my verse.  Except for this one document.  “Memories of a Rotten Childhood.”  Something I have been struggling to write for eight years.  There is a lot of humor in this one, but of course, there is also pain.  Life.

My dear friends who are also ACONs know I find there is no  mystery to writing poetry.  To me it is the distillation of life, of our experiences, and when we write close to the bone, it is raw, jagged, with little polish and perhaps it is then we are the most truthful.   Perhaps then the healing begins.   I find  it isn’t the ‘best’ of poetry, but healing is always messy, never in a straight line.  Just like therapy.  Our poems of  healing  reflect that liberty.

Lady Nyo




I knew the marriage was in trouble

when your mother dived under the table

to retrieve your fork.

You were 34.


I knew the marriage started off


when 3 months along a packed suitcase

stood in the closet

I never sure what to do, where to go.


That suitcase remained there

for 12 years.


You told me I was a piece of shit,

only good for bringing in money

paying the bills,

even your parents thought me dumb

in spite of maintaining a 4.0 in college

and working full time,

but that didn’t count because it was only

a community college.  I was still stupid.


I remember when you threw a kitten

off the balcony

and I told you I called the police,

and the look on your face told me

that I had you, that you were afraid.

I remember struggling with sheets of plywood

to stop a leaky roof on the second story

with high winds buffering me and the wood around,

high off the ground, my heart in my mouth

as you sat in a rocking chair in the back yard

surrounded by books,

shocking the neighbors

with your  shiftlessness.

They were glad to see the south end of you go.


But I didn’t follow the leads

and stupidly suffered while

you never worked  for the next 9 years.

You were the revolutionary,

I guess I was to be the dumb, grateful peasant.


But you left (when I had been hit by a car)

the month you graduated

(after trying to date my nurse in the hospital,

oh, what morals you had!)

and I was told by your parents

to put my education on hold

so you, as the “man” of the family, could get yours.

Of course they greased your leaving with

a sports car,

a Club Med vacation

a condo they paid for.

At middle age, you were still a boy,

had not become a man.  Have you ever?


You left me crippled, the heat turned off.

I almost starved,

neighbors put plates of food on the window ledge

and I wrapped myself in blankets with a stray puppy

that cold spring and we survived. Barely.


That was years ago, but I still remember the bad old days,

where I was nothing but disposable garbage,

something to be left behind with the bribes of your parents

and you were a ball of regrets to me.


Tomorrow my husband and I leave for Paris.

He insists I come, though it is a work trip,

for he wants me to see the Eiffel tower

see how straight it stands and how tall I’ve  grown.

He wants me to see Versailles

because I am his Queen.


Of course he is my King,

and you just a tattered memory

fading into the mists where you  always belonged.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

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