Opening Up?

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I am 23 years old.

What is dating?

When I was 15, my first boyfriend asserted a relationship upon me and I reluctantly obliged.

We dated for a year and a half. He was manipulative, aggressive, and abusive.

My second boyfriend was not my boyfriend. I was 18, he was 21.

I wouldn’t let him too close; we saw eachother for about a month.

He stopped speaking to me abruptly, leaving me in utter confusion.

He left me for a 16 year old girl.

These guys did not get much of a taste of who I am.

They got no deeper than the surface.

Then there was Danny, who was good to me.

He was easy. He was kind. He was shallow.

He didn’t care about the intricasies of my mind and my soul.

He didn’t care about the pain in my past.

He cared about nice dinners and gifts.

He cared about formalities.

He treated me like a princess without ever trying to learn who I truly am.

He lasted 3 years.

I left him in an attempt to free myself of the burden that was keeping him happy.

I couldn’t be myself with him. He expected me to be someone I have never wanted to be.

He could never understand the darkness inside of me.

After leaving him, I was sure I was done looking for companionship, and thats when companionship found me.

I met a boy who seemed fascinated by who and what I am.

He was easy to get along with and we had so much in common.

I was excited by the things he found interesting and I was excited that I was one of them.

Over time, I would reveal things to him that would explain different aspects of me and my life.

I would tell him about the tragedy so he would understand the trauma.

He could never understand, though. At least not without wanting to.

I couldn’t make him care the way I cared about him.

His stories all revealed him to be greater than I ever could have imagined and I think my stories did just the opposite.

It was a secret how truly wonderful he was

It was a secret how truly terrible I am.

The more he knew, the more distant he became.

Finally, I had a breakdown.

He saw the parts of me I never intended to show him.

He was afraid of who I was.

He left.

How, now, might you suggest I go about opening up in the future?

When so many have been satisfied with nothing.

And the few who got any bit of me have thrown it back as they fast as they could.

Now that it seems there is another willing soul

Waiting to hear the stories that unravel my knotted way of being

Should I even bother?

How do you know when its worth it?

To reveal yourself as vulnerable and weak

To let down your defenses

and trust that someone wants a piece of you

for any reason other than

to crush you.

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The Light Inside

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The moment when I loved myself the most, was the moment the whole world turned to look at me.
I had spent so very long simply waiting for them all to see
Hoping, naively, that they’d all be accepting
But stares and whispers made way for over-thinking
Turned backs and broken hearts left me wishing
Holding onto the past
Wishing I could go back
So I could know

The moment when I loved myself the most, was when I had to stand up for myself.
No longer did I want them to see a broken little girl –
Someone who feels so alone in this world –
I hoped for a new brand of clarity
To allow me to open their eyes to see
What I had been hiding
All along

The moment when I loved myself the most, was the moment I had to accept myself as I was
There was no more lying or pretending I was more or less
There was no longer anyone around me to impress
I was left on my own to claim my scars
I was knocked down, so I began counting the stars
And when the numbers were fleeting
So, too, was the darkness

The moment when I loved myself the most, was the moment the light ignited inside of me.
I was no longer available to be consumed by the dark
I sought high and low for that which I must embark
On a mission of self-discovery
To locate the real me:
The light inside.

I See Your Struggle, I Feel Your Pain

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One of the worst things is recognizing a suffering in someone who you care about and knowing there is nothing you can do to sooth the pain. You may be able to open a door and shine some light on the situation, but nothing will ever make it better.

Its even worse to have learned this first hand, through experience. I suffer in a similar way, but it was far worse when I was younger. I see my pain in his eyes and I wonder if he will survive. I wonder if he has someone so important and so close to him that he would promise his life for their sake.

My person, my cousin, my best friend, was the one who was so important to me that I made my promise. I held on to that promise until she died. Through the grieving process, you sometimes stumble into resentment towards your loved one for leaving you, and this caused me to disregard my promise. After she was gone, I no longer felt a need to hold up my end of the bargain.

I regret breaking that promise more than anything, but at the same time it saved me. I needed to have a brush with death to remind me of the value of life. To be perfectly honest, the only value I was reminded of was that of family and friends.

To this day, I crave the relief of un-existing. I lust after the satisfaction of self-punishment and the release of auto-brutality. These are things all of us (with depression and the like) face on a daily basis. The presence of the thoughts does not condemn us, but rather our actions regarding those thoughts.

I may feel an urge to rip my skin open, but I don’t do it. The feeling passes and I recognize the fact that those kinds of feelings, just like their positive counterparts, are fleeting. Nothing lasts forever, it only lingers as long as you let it. It took me a long time to figure any of this out. I have felt so alone for most of that time and I don’t want to watch another person, who I care about, go through that kind of life.

I want him to know that the feeling that stings deep in his chest is, too, present in mine. I want him to understand that NO, I do NOT know what you’ve been through, but I promise I’ve been through something that allows me to relate. If I  haven’t, I promise I can be a judgement-free, listening ear. Don’t you ever, not even for a second, feel alone in this world when you know you have a friend, a cousin, a person who cares more than you are able to fathom.

Don’t you dare break my heart the way I’m sure you’ve wanted to before; the way I’ve wanted to break others’ hearts before. Promise me you will take the life you have and cling to it as if it were just as fleeting as the emotions that ebb and flow like a constant stream of rushing water.

They come on strong and hard; a force I’ve never seen before. There is passion present in almost every word uttered from your mouth and THAT is a true sign of life. That is a sign of resilience and strength; to find yourself filled with energy and emotion charged in any direction is better than finding yourself empty.

Empty is something I have felt for a large portion of my lifetime. Empty is something I do not wish upon anyone. Empty is the absence of life, of substance, of people, of love. Empty is a waste of precious time.

As Jamie put it, “There are some people on this planet, who know they only have so long… and there are others who think they have forever… I would give anything to take my death sentence and trade it for the possibility of forever. That’s what you have, Jillian, you have the possibilities of a lifetime.”

And that’s when it clicked for me, though I needed reminding later on, that life is precious and it is insanely selfish of me to throw it away. I need to cherish it for the sake of the people I love who don’t have a choice about their fate. Its not right to take control of your life like that; after all, you aren’t the only one who is hurt by your bad feelings. The people who care about you hurt by seeing you in pain, and if you were to end your life you would only leave behind more suffering. You won’t be there to feel any sense of relief you anticipate.

My point here is that, there is nothing wrong with suffering and feeling pain inside. The only wrongness that emerges comes from the action taken to express that pain and suffering. The wrongness of those actions is not “wrong” in the sense that I don’t think its right. It is “wrong” in the sense that you are doing yourself a disservice. You are diminishing your own worth and failing to recognize that you deserve to feel pain and to express those feelings. You deserve to know that your feelings are justified and that you are not alone in feeling that way. You need to understand that the bad stuff is normal. The bad stuff is important. The bad stuff is necessary to offset the good.

 

If you don’t struggle, you will never appreciate the happiness that comes from conquering your personal demons. If you don’t fight then you will never know that victory, and if you need help but don’t ask for it, you will go down in flames.

An Unexpected Visit

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I sat, slouching in my chair. English class was the bane of my existence. My teacher, Mr. Andrews, was really cool, however, my fellow classmates were not. I had a real issue with one kid, in particular. I did my best to ignore him but sometimes I had to leave the room to keep from getting angry at his stupid comments and wisenheimer attitude. I couldn’t wait for class to be over so I could book it to the art building.

My next class would be Ceramics, my favorite. It took a lot of energy that I didn’t have to move so quickly, dodging between oblivious teenagers straggling at their own pace. I had to get from the top floor of the main building across the street to the Unified Arts building. By the time I arrived at my seat along the studio bench, I was completely wiped out. I took a moment to catch my breath with my head down in my hands. My concerned teacher approached me, requesting confirmation of my current state of well being.

“I’m fine, just tired; need to catch my breath.” I let out between gasps of air.

“Alright, dear, just relax.” He said, soothingly. His genuine concern for students was endearing, but I was eager to brush him off — lest he should figure out what’s been going on.

He walked away and I did my best to heed his instructions and breathe. Air came out, but getting the air to go in was proving more difficult. Eventually my breathing steadied and I was able to join the class in creating masterpieces from within our souls, as Dr. S would have described it.

I was smoothing over a form that was intended to resemble a giraffe, but I just couldn’t get the feet right. The legs were too skinny to hold up the heavy body. I imagined real giraffes might experience similar issues due to gravity. I was getting lost in my thoughts when the room fell silent. I hadn’t noticed the scenery change, but the busy bodies around me slowed down and the sounds of their chatter drowned out.

I looked up from my half-giraffe and peered around the room, unsure if what I was experiencing was really happening. In a flash, almost like the blink of an eye, everything returned to its normal state. Sound returned to the vocal chords of the many students around me and all movement appeared in real time. I was confused but reassured myself that I was just tired. With that in mind, I began to relax a little bit. I looked away from everyone, towards the storage shelves. No one was usually over there. I often found myself gazing out the window on that side of the room.

I noticed something moving in the corner. I adjusted my position to see around the ceramic sculptures blocking my view to reveal a bizarre sight. In the corner of the room, beyond anyone else’s recognition, there was a young girl, drenched, wearing a soggy sundress, rocking back and forth in the corner of the room. She sat in the fetal position with a bewildered look on her face.

I stared onward with a stone face. I knew that what was happening was not real. I knew that I was the only one who was seeing this girl and I knew she wasn’t really there. I swallowed every ounce of fear I had and I looked the girl straight in the eye.

I was shocked to see her lift her gaze to meet mine. She locked eyes with me, not saying a word, just rocking back and forth. Her eyes were sad, icy and glazed over. Strands of her wet, dark hair fell alongside them. She was afraid or angry, or both. She stared at me until I couldn’t take it anymore and I looked away.

Staring back down at my hands, fiddling with the giraffe-like form, I assured myself that I was not insane. While I may be seeing things that are not happening in reality, this does not indicate insanity. In the back of my head, though, I felt like I was lying to myself. I didn’t dare look around to see if anyone else noticed how out of it I was.

I glanced back toward the corner, where the little girl had been sitting, to find her standing by the window. She stood with her back to me, peering out at the world that hurried by. It seemed that her presence evoked a stillness. When our eyes locked the first time, moments turned to days.

She stood, frozen in time while I sat, frozen by fear. The girl turned once more to face me and I braced myself. I don’t know what it was I expected her to do, but she simply reached out her left hand towards me. I looked from side to side; surely someone else was seeing this…

No one else saw. The little girl’s gaze never strayed from my eyes while she waited patiently for me to take her hand. Instead, I quickly reached for my backpack under the bench and turned my back to the little girl. I ran out of that room as fast as I could and out into the fresh air.

Deep breaths, I tried to shorten the panicked huffs of air into long, drawn out breaths. Pacing up and down the road, I eventually regained composure. When my breathing was steady once again, I checked my cell phone for the time. I had spent the entirety of class starring in the corner. I returned to the classroom to clean up after myself.

Without making any progress on my giraffe, I spritzed him with water, wrapped him in plastic to be stored until next class. I turned to face the storage shelves, afraid of who I might find. When the coast appeared to be clear, I made my way over towards that window, next to which was a shelf with my name printed on masking tape.

My shelf was adorned with half-finished works of art. I would begin each project as it was assigned, but somehow fail to finish them in the set time frame. Dr. S didn’t really mind how much time we spent on each piece, he just wanted us to do our best work.

Without saying a word to anyone, I placed my giraffe on my shelf and made a quick exit. I never told anyone about the little girl. I never confessed to feeling guilty for leaving her behind. I never even took the time to think about why she was there or what she was symbolizing, if anything.

In a therapy session, several years later, I was prompted to consider this experience and its possible implications.

I thought about how the little girl looked a lot like me. She was in a physical state that somehow mirrored my mental state. She was an external projection of how I was feeling internally. She was the vital message that I needed to recognize my suffering. If I never noticed how bad things were getting, I never would have taken the steps to make things better for myself.

If that little girl never came to me for help, I would still be that little girl.

Foolish Banter

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So, this is how it works:
You’ll meet and kiss and hug,
He might hold your hand,
But he’ll never show you love.

He might leave you breathless
With the charms of a spoken word,
But don’t let his banter fool you
Or you’ll be left a broken girl.

My dear, I don’t mean to scare you.
In love, there’s so little to hate,
But once the veil’s been pulled
Your heart will begin to break.

When that time comes,
When the world falls apart,
Please, recall my words:
This is no end, but a brand new start.

Writing Prompt: “Compared to What?”

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In re: “Compared to what? Life, that is. Whenever people say “life is hard” or “life is strange” I always wonder what their point of reference is. Life is hard, as opposed to (BLANK) which is much easier. Wrap your mind around that one, darling.” – as posed by the lovely Helena Hann Basquiat. in response to a blurb about brains vs. hearts

“Life is hard.” This statement is easy enough to  make and so understated that it is so easily overlooked. Life is hard in reference to what? Something that is neither easy nor hard? Simply existing passively in the world is quite easy. It involves minimal decision making or brain power, it indulges your subconscious while ignoring the higher of your cognitive faculties.

There is a way you could choose to live which would require a lot more brain power to mediate your actions, thoughts and emotions. There is a way of going about your day with meaning and intention. There is a way of actively living and making and impression upon the world. To live this way, the active, meaningful way, is much more difficult. It requires a level of self-reflection that some people find terrifying and nearly impossible.

Some people are so afraid to look into their reflection, into their own eyes, and tell themselves the truth.

“I lied to her. I looked her in the eye and I lied. No one knows this but me, but at least I can be honest with myself.”

“I love the drugs. I don’t care who I hurt or what I do to hurt them as long as I get to feel the way the drugs make me feel.”

“I want to die. I want to cease to exist. I want the world to suffer my loss as I have suffered my existence.”

To tell your self the truth, when you can not admit it to another soul, requires great strength and self-acceptance. A lot of people live their lives in denial of who they are, passively allowing the world to happen around them, lest they realize the horrors of who they truly are. There is a process one must go through to accept the horrible things you know about yourself. If you want to accept them, you have to be able to admit it. You have to feel the emotions tied to the intellectual information of what has happened, to you or by your own hands, in your life. Its much easier to move on and forget it ever happened, or worse, deny it ever happened.

The majority would seem to prefer the latter. A life of bliss, as you may have heard, is a product of ignorance. To ignore your problems, your past, your faults, well, it allows you to ignore most anything! It allows you to construct your new mental view of who you are. You get to ignore the stuff you don’t like and embellish the stuff you do like! You don’t have to approach your true emotions and you can live based on the logical reasoning that has never let you down in the past.

“Following your heart” as some call it, doesn’t always work out for the best. It can often leave you in a much worse place than you started. Following your heart often blinds the logical thinking side of your brain. The emotional (irrational) side takes over and distracts you with images of what *could be* rather than what actually is. If you ignore reality, you will find happiness in your deluded fantasy. If you choose to consider the other side, the logical side, you will be disappointed to find that reality doesn’t always line up with our fantasies.

Your decision lies in your willingness to crush your own dreams. Will you protect the facade? Or will you bravely accept the truth and learn to reconstruct your dreams around the truths that continue to present themselves along the way? Are your emotions, your happiness, important enough to trump the truth? Is the truth important enough to crush your spirits? Is finding balance really worth it?

 

For some people, the answer is no. The world is *full* of people living in their deluded fantasy lands, coated by layers of defensive behaviors intended to protect the fragile reality they cling to. Other people live in a bleak, meaningless world, where happiness is nothing and fact is always favored over fantasy. They live according to what is and what will be; they don’t care about what might have been or what could come. They have no capacity for feeling and dreaming. They live based on the facts; Do I have food? Do I have water? Do I have shelter? If so, then I am happy.

“If ‘p’ then ‘q’
*yes* ‘p’
*therefore* ‘q'”

For the emotional people, to be happy means much more. Happiness depends upon a multitude of factors, many of which depend upon relationships with others and feelings about oneself. The rationals would rather not think about how they feel about themselves. To consider all the factors of what an emotional person bases their happiness on is too much for the rational thinker. The rational thinker considers the basics, the essentials, the rest is just fluff – there to fill up all the extra space between meals and sleep cycles.

A rational life is quite simple. An emotional life of denying the facts, or ignoring problems, is equally as fulfilling, though. Neither gets a full experience of life, because both ignore an essential part of human-ship. We are beings that strive for balance. This constant effort to balance the many important aspects of our lives is what makes life so very hard.

There are many ways we can choose to live that can turn us into zombies that just go about our lives and our days as if nothing catastrophic were going on around us, but the fact of the matter is, the world is spinning like crazy around a giant fiery ball of doom. We need to make the most of our time here before its gone. We can’t do that without opening our eyes to the full picture. Self-awareness and awareness of the world around you is vital to living a balanced life.

You have to take in and give out equal amounts of energy. You can choose to live passively and either ignore the horrible truths to protect your fantasy, or bleakly reject your emotions. You can claim that life is meaningless and empty. You can claim the world is full of rainbows and sunshine and there’s not a damn thing wrong. Or, you can acknowledge that, while the world is slowly crumbling beneath our feet, we have the capability of feeling wonderful things. Those wonderful things are worth enduring the hell that is the destruction of our homely planet by the foul inhabitants dwelling on its surface.

The effort required to find balance between the good and the bad; the actively participating in life and passively allowing the world to spin, its all part of a whole system of spectrums that we have to strive for balance within. Life is all about balance and finding balance isn’t easy; its a lot easier to ignore your troubles, whatever they may be.

So, I guess life doesn’t have to be hard, but its only worth it when it is. The things that make life hard are the things that make life worth experiencing. An easy life is a boring life – no matter which way you spin it.