I used to be a lot more open about the specifics of my trauma than I am now. I stopped, because at some point, I realized it was only attracting voyeurs and sociopaths; they liked hearing all the gory details, while somehow convincing themselves that they were coming to my rescue.
There were also times I used it to my advantage, soliciting pity and charity when I was worried about being abandoned. But that didn’t feel right either. I decided I’d rather be chosen for my strengths than coddled for my weaknesses.
Part of me might always feel like a hurt child. I want support and sympathy as much as anyone. And I understand that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But I also don’t want to make a spectacle of my pain, as I have in the past.
I’m not saying it’s better to suffer in silence, but I think it’s important to be discerning about who you share your trauma with, and what you do with it after the fact, because opening up to the wrong person can kick you right back into the hole you just worked so hard to crawl out of.
The hardest part about asking for help is knowing who to ask for help from. Some people will expect you to taxidermy your pain and display it behind glass, grotesque and stagnant like a rotten tooth you never pull out of your mouth. Others will help you compost your pain, give it a proper burial, and use it to nurture some sort of life.
I don’t have the authority to say which option is right or wrong. I’m not even sure I’ve successfully managed to do either. Learning how to trust others has been a lot more difficult than learning how to trust myself. But I want to choose life, as much as I can.
I love everybody so much already. I’m just so scared of all the ways we can’t help but hurt each other.
Anyway, I painted this in a bit of a fervor today. “Avoidant Attachment.” Acrylic on canvas. Almost used up all my googly eyes.
1. Quit wailing on yourself like a colicky baby and find what’s missing
Today the world feels full of strangers;
my teeth, a little too big for my mouth;
music, an assault to the ears; minutes
melt me like raindrops on spiderwebs.
I chased a long summer through a loop
-hole until the knot twisted tight—here,
where the dead still rest, uninterrupted,
in sterile graves they dug themselves.
2. Keep tugging on one thread to unravel the whole fucking veil
My words dry out like scabs as I revise
stories of light, of gold enough to bribe
the world—because not even the ocean
can drown away this haunt of old shame.
The world feels full of strangers because
strangers fill the world; our eyes averted;
reality scorching like a yellow star, hotter
by the season, and we have our reasons.
3. Take this sound advice from someone older and wiser who used to be just like you
If your love roams east even once, perk up
to notice her. She’s not lost; just searching
for proof of what she already knows—you,
the only in existence, carrying in yourself
a little cluster of her, spinning like a moon
in a clouded sky. Heart unblinded, waiting,
whispering to herself like, you know me.
Wake up, you bastard. See me! See! Me!
Driving slow down a street you’ve never seen before,
you remember how every city’s a little bigger
than it feels in the dry afternoon, all your muscles taut
with tension carried over from yesterday (and week, and year)
and then the fear creeps in—is it kinder not to know?
You ask the gray hawk who watches you from a low branch,
his heart open in your direction. Maybe
forever’s a marketing scheme, but maybe
forever deserves a chance. Either way,
you can’t afford to buy what you can’t afford to break.
You miss the sound of water, swelling as it breathed.
You miss your mom, who tested
all your barricades as if war would be inevitable.
You miss not knowing that war would be inevitable.
Some days, you wake with a rock in your throat,
moaning like a dead telephone line,
the sense you might crawl into the empty air
after the voicemail message and suffocate there.
You want to be still and do nothing
except be held by the person you love.
But the houseplants need watering,
and the dishes need to be washed and put away,
and the shadow that followed you here still dances
like a night terror, mocking your body’s natural sway.
Dreamless girl, you are human; you look first
through your glass eye out of habit,
just like everybody else.
But embodied sight is the gift of age.
And just like everybody else, you’ve got time—
your own invaluable time—to waste.
I’m not sure if Amber Heard is a liar
or if Johnny Depp is a liar
or if both are liars
who fell in love with the shape
of each other’s perfect rain cloud
but I spent the whole night praying
that an imaginary storm
wouldn’t wash me away
Today I learned about harpies, which are my new favorite mythological creature.
Greco-Roman monsters, half-woman, half-vulture, the personification of storm winds. They would abduct and carry people to the underworld, torturing them along the way, leaving filth and foul smells in their wake.
If a person suddenly, mysteriously disappeared, they were said to have been “carried off by the harpies.”
I love birds so much, I want to hold them.
I want to comb their feathers with a tiny brush,
to cradle them in my palms
and crush them against my cheek,
to kiss them repeatedly on the tip of their beaks.
But birds would hate that.
So instead, I keep the feeder full
keep it hot red hot
hot & rumbling
hot & hitchhiking
hot i mean HOT
like chemical burn
hot & dragon’s
slumber hot like
HOT like the sun
burnt out on its way
down hot HOT
cuz everybody got
their own shadow
to lean on & here’s
mine: long & wide
with a nasty edge
like map-drawn river
green like still waters
& cold & rippled
like the lie you left
wet in the desert
HOT hot let’s air
this shit out before
our faces melt &
mold & our deep
hot bones our HOT
hot bones crumble
cold & black as ash
1. The one that purrs
2. The slash-and-burn
3. The igloo
4. The raw coconut fruit
5. The rhythm
6. The black matter
7. The carousel
8. The first breath
9. The last word
10. The synonym
There’s an inherent grief felt in falling in love:
the grief of small spaces demolished into wide and lively rooms,
a new greenhouse erected without glass
as if to say, all the world grows
and flowers here, and every songbird sings at once.
It’s the grief of spontaneous solitude,
romantic dates with self in front of the bathroom mirror,
plucking eyebrow hairs and admiring
the curves of one’s own body, owned and operated
by the same controlled breath.
It’s the grief of little private deaths avoided,
of no longer being the eye of the storm.
Then the tidying comes, and the promise of a changed life,
even if no promise can be made about the quality
and longevity of the life thereafter.
It’s the grief of trying to fit all this distance—this spectatorship
of the artist alone, this long race lost anyway,
even running as far and fast as the armored heart
could go. The breaking open
to make room for one more mine, one more mine.
We call it falling for a reason, as if sacrificed
like a goat to the volcanic pit of burgeoning intimacy.
But love, like grief, is an active sentiment.
We jump on purpose, pining after the heat, then despair
of the burn; metamorphosed by you metamorphosed by me.