Saturday morning satisfied

Getting to work early on a dreary morning,

Hot coffee and toasted bagel in hand.

The sun subdued by gray clouds, dampness in the air,

Perhaps I should feel as dreary as the day,

But contendedness fills my heart.

Pen and paper ready, eating bites of bagel as I send loving messages of support to those in my life. My neck is stiff and my dreams were shockingly violent,

But as my love drove me to work today I told him bad pun after bad pun,

And his silent smile alone was enough to light up my soul, to keep me warm in the dampness, to help guide my way through the gray.

Wednesday night

Dinner is cold but I’m still eating because I know that when the overwhelming sadness dissipates, momentarily, the hunger will spike. We are living with all our fabric in bags, on a mattress on the floor of a house that isn’t our home. We pay for a home, and we hope, but it isn’t enough. Beside me in our makeshift bed his hand grips my thigh as he falls in his dream and the frustrations and sadness and fear from waking life again transcends into his unconscious. While awake he doesn’t remember, but the body and mind do not forget. All night I scratch even though the physical itch has been gone for months.

My anger

My anger is a stifling distrust, nestled deeply in my chest. It plucks at my vocal chords, deepening and enraging my tone and suddenly I am screaming uncontrollably until the house shakes with me, with all the fear and frustration and confusion of this condition. Coursing and convoluted until it is barely recognisable as the form it once was. Roots that grew sharply into my heart and bloomed into my brain, thorn-covered vines twisting and choking around love and safety, leaving me a mangled notion of emotional attachment. The anger thickens in my lungs, it is a tar that covers every surface. It cracks my ribs, it hardens my heart, and this growing, gnawing, constant underlying fear takes control. Through lack of control it propells me into a state of attack, defend, escape, give up. It’s hopeless, heartless, helpless. Nothing matters.

Until suddenly the anger is gone. Dissipated, because he hugged me and he wouldn’t let go, thus quelling the shaking within me. Or because the tears arrived, melting the tar along with them, allowing me to breathe slowly, deeply, once again. I stay distant at this point, confused by the notion of forgiveness, and so far away feels like the distance across the bed as he asks me over and over again to just let him hold me. I refuse. Conceptually I understand, but self-esteem has never been lower, so thoughts of self doubt and distrust creep once again into my psyche. Preparing themselves for the next bout of anger. I weep alone, unsure of how to navigate this fucked up emotional landscape. He holds me anyway.

Art walk

Marble statues, creamy gray, slippery & gleaming. Eyes wide but filled with glassy emptiness. Arms outstretched lazily for eternity. To reach; to attempt to receive their embrace but to touch only the cool chiseled notion of something long since past: wandering among them can feel so lonely. The air is stagnant and thick with the never-ending nothingness of quietude. Achievement lies silently at their feet. Pride arched in their backs, ego flushing from their biceps. The very basic foundation of their creation remains known, and yet, the thoughts muffled in their heads, stuck forever, encapsulated in a vision once dreamed and (possibly) executed remain a mystery. Hope is etched in their solid hearts, and a twinkle of desire flutters in the air: Please, just try to understand. We just want to be understood, they whisper from lips that never part as cheeks flush in the morning light. We gaze, we study, but understanding is miles away. Frustration leads to condemnation and soon again the room is absolute in its stillness. The statues smile weakly with frozen expressions as yet another chooses to simply give up. To walk away. And they, to be stuck for eternity never known in their entirety. There’s nothing for them to do now, except wait.

Contributions to the crumbling of her reality

An ear infection that has existed for days, weeks, months (years?) A bite (from a spider? Tick?) A trip to urgent care and a prescription for heavy-duty antibiotics. A period, on time, but debilitating nonetheless. The impending death of a childhood pet. A fight which led to an (almost?) break-up. Lack of contact from friends. Reaching out to others, finding only air. Emptiness. The fabric of voices ever so slightly altered. Sounds, louder than usual. Something feels… off. Distrust. Insecurity. Fear. Panic. Dreams that feel real until suddenly, they aren’t. Reality that feels like a dream until suddenly, it’s not. Guilt. Missing work because fatigue will not cease. Paranoia. Dissipation of thoughts. Inability to focus. Constantly sleeping, mind racing, cabin fever. A tired body with a head full of frantic thoughts. Editing coworkers’ text messages. Continuing inside jokes long after they’ve ended. Trying to sleep at normal times. Responding to messages, sometimes. Thinking. Drawing pictures of feelings. Drowning in nausea. Too tired to stand. Too tired to think. Still trying, always trying, but too tired to try. Crying every night. Sleeping. Wondering when. Wondering why. Wondering if.

Milk & guilt

Whole milk tastes like going to one of the neighborhood kid’s houses in elementary school and trying cocoa puffs for the first time. It tastes like soggy kraft mac n cheese dripping with butter and milk instead of the “healthy” skim milk butterless kind your mother reinforces. It tastes like the drink served up with meatball spaghettios that you eagerly gobble only to moments later become panic stricken that you’ve inadvertently inhaled pork against your parents’ very stern wishes. It’s the guilt, mixed with sugar, mixed with corn syrup, that you sneak from your school friends during Easter even though you’re not allowed to. The lucky charms you steal from another student’s desk in fifth grade. He tells you no, he will not share, so you simply eat all the marshmallows and put the bag of cereal back on his desk. Of course he notices. Of course he never speaks to you again. Of course, years later, he never remembers why he dislikes you so much. But you never forget. The guilt. That [bitter]sweet, secretive, shame filled taste.

October thoughts

Entitlement to her partner’s time, to his innermost thoughts; to be the focus of his sole attraction: this mentality is the driving force behind her insecurity. A convoluted contradiction as she attempts any lifestyle beyond monogamy. Jealousy isn’t so easily smited when it is simply pushed aside. How does one hold oneself through the embarrassment, shame, and pain of insecurity?

Together, in theory, but alone in thought

Like muscles breaking down from intensive exercise, our partnership aches as it grows stronger. So, too, the fibers of Us pull apart and back together, each struggling to find enough slack to tug, to challenge, but never to pull the other over the line. Eyes full of hurt, leading to raspy throats filled with anger, to tears of sadness, to regretful self-doubt; the isolation of shame. Eventually we end up in bed, silent and together, but somehow so far apart and so alone.

The tired frustration runs rampant through my mind as I attempt sleep. A dull, constant aching underlying all my ruminating thoughts and I listen as you drift off beside me. The cat curled by my feet matches the cadence of your snores, nearby a fan is blowing softly, a nighttime of white noise is filling our mock studio apartment. 

Moments of joy still find their way to us as we navigate this hazy new territory with no maps and little guidance. But each new challenge presents us with fear, vulnerability, and occasional failure. Attempts to speak from a place of love, respect, and trust are well-intentioned but often feel implausible. 

The air is cool and I wrap myself in a sheet and handmade quilt, and despite your back to me I turn to face you, to hear the soft breaths escaping your lips as you finally allow yourself some comfort. With a slow exhale I remember that forgiveness is not condonation of hurtful actions, but a reminder that it’s okay to move on, when ready. And, I think, you’re someone for whom it is worth it to move on, when ready. We will rest, forgive, struggle, and together, we will grow strong.

9 – 5

Energy is an interesting thing to try to define when you’ve worked 9 hours on 5 hours of sleep and overall you’ve been awake for 17 hours today.

Exhaustion is a tricky thing to try to explain when you only receive one 15 minute break during your workday and even when food seems appetizing at first the appeal soon fades and you are left with bruised neglected fruit and half a cup of room temperature coffee.

Feeling more stuck than you ever have in a relatively dead end job for a nasty company is a difficult thing to express because people just ask “but don’t you have a bachelor’s degree” or “why don’t you just go back to school to get your master’s” because they don’t see your bills every month, they don’t understand that you’ll be 60 years old before you’re debt free and that as it stands you can’t spend more than $50 a week on food for yourself and the friends you choose to feed because they wouldn’t be able to eat otherwise. 

Sore feet and legs and a nervous stomach, a sensitive esophagus, and teeth that haven’t been professionally cleaned in years: the decrepitness of your body, though it is only in its late-20s, remains a mystery to those who don’t understand the stress and frustration and terror of this unsteady venture into adulthood. False stupidity is all they see; you are just another young customer service agent in the retail world for them to chastise. 

It’s difficult to smile at them, as they yell about $0.50 off coupons that don’t even apply to the items they’re purchasing. But you do it anyway. You’re not really sure why you still do. But every night you cry about it, and every morning when you wake up, you lie in bed before work and you ask yourself “is this job really worth it? Is this life?”

The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

medicated, but self-aware, or

It’s because the medications are “get[ting] further away”, is what she says, daily, to describe her newly disruptive mood swings. Coworkers, close friends and strangers alike thusly have a newly found urge to step quietly around her, lest be the recipient of an unexpected outburst. Her raised voice, the volume of her condescending tone, a face filled with disgust; she remains oblivious to it all. How is it that self-awareness has seemingly disappeared alongside her prescription medications?