I have cut so many people out of my life that my phone is starting to feel like a graveyard of dead friendships and abandoned conversations. But I’m not sorry. I’ll never be sorry. From the burial mounds I’ve sprouted flowers, and from the silence I’ve curated peace.
I took Friday morning off to cry.
Okay, I actually just took the morning off and the tears were an indirect consequence of it. I woke up hungover and devastated – every single emotion I’ve suppressed over the past few months rising to the surface of my soul – demanding to be felt. I’d kept them locked up for so long, feeding them distractions and unhealthy vices and bad poetry, I stifled their voices by pretending so desperately to be happy. It worked for a while. I think I’ve spent the last 8 months drifting in such a state of complacency that any emotion other than “being” scares the crap out of me – it’s such a stark reminder of my own humanity.
But on Friday I think they’d had enough.
The thing that made me sob loudly, uncontrollably, and very unattractively actually had nothing to do with me. I was simply an innocent bystander, watching an episode of Queer Eye, trying to make my head stop pounding and my serotonin start working. It was the episode where the Fab Five are trying to help the religious dude with the 6 kids who only gets about 2 hours of sleep every night. Bobby was helping him plant a new vegetable patch when suddenly he says something that literally made me sit up and howl violently into the void.
“Sometimes when you’re buried, you’re actually just planted”.
It was the most comforting thing I’ve ever heard.
Oh my God. I’m not buried. I’m not buried, this isn’t the end of anything. I’m just planted. my roots are taking hold and in a few months I’m going to bloom. I’m not buried, I’m not buried, I’m not buried…I’m just planted.
I cried out of relief for the rest of the morning, every single little twinge of regret or anxiety, or devastation poured out of me like a burst pipe. I mourned over the person I used to be, wept over who I’ve become and spoke blessings over who I will turn into. I smeared mascara all over my pillow and let my pain be felt. Sometimes these things demand to be addressed, wallowed in, and then let go.
I’m still very much not fine. It still feels like there’s an anvil sitting on my chest, but at least I’m no longer being suffocated by the debris that’s tried to claw its way down my throat.
I’m not buried, just planted.
When I was 20 I thought I had fallen in love with a boy. He had sharp cheekbones and expressive eyes and I wrote him countless poems, trying to somehow show how I felt. I think he wrote me one back – a strange, sad sonnet, stuffed into the back of a blog that I stumbled upon months after our demise. It described me as “subversive”.
I think that’s the best way anyone has ever described me.
Subversive. Insurgent. Renegade. Agitator.
Like I somehow managed to revolutionise his entire outlook on life.
I don’t think he meant it like that at all, but I’ll take what I get from the lovers who’ve lost me.
When he left it felt like I couldn’t breathe. I can still remember clutching my heart on the train home, sobbing over how unfair everything seemed to be. It was all so raw, so painful, so desperately sad. I think I described myself as a “rubbed raw, icy footed, miscommunicated mess”. I think I described him as “right and good and lovely”.
I think everything was a little too dramatic to be honest.
3 years later, I am completely healed from my brief cosmic dalliance, this dance with desire and despair, and sobbing his name repeatedly on public transport. I found myself a million miles away from the person I was on that train platform, light-years ahead of the me who considered that boy to be the best thing that had ever happened – because better, more exciting, kinder things have happened since. I found myself in a bar belting Wheatus and having my hair lightly ruffled by a mutual friend. He grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes and told me that he thinks I’ve outgrown the person who made me feel all those things.
Do you hear that? I’ve outgrown him.
That’s so wild. I used to be convinced that I never would, that I’d stay stuck on that train platform forever, that I’d be devastated and miserable without that little patch of sunlight shining on my life.
But I breathed through it all. I breathed and I lived a little bit more each day and I discovered my own resilience in the midst of my disappointment. Then eventually I stopped telling myself to breathe, I just did. I stopped choosing him and chose myself instead. That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Like I should have been choosing myself from the start, I should have remembered the golden rule of “I am number 1 and everyone else must fall in line behind me”. I think when you’re young and someone kisses your palms like they hold entire galaxies, you start to believe that the universe can only exist within you if they keep telling you it does. Turns out the cosmos have been lying dormant in my chest this entire time, waiting for me to acknowledge their perennial existence regardless of whether or not that other person reminded me of them.
In two weeks time none of this is going to matter. You are going to be breathing despite your doubt, you are going to find everything a little easier. Your patch of sunlight is going to expand with each dust-mote and beam that finds its way onto your bedroom floor, you’re going to be okay.
Just keep loving yourself, and loving the people who ruffle your hair and tell you you’ve grown. Just keep filling yourself up with good human connection, and trust whatever process you believe is out there, because there is one.
You’ll be okay, there are asteroid belts wrapped around your lungs and super novas in your soul. You’ll be okay.
I’m back…for now I guess. We can’t say how long this is going to last because I’m really bad with commitment. The only thing I’ve ever properly committed to has been a 1 and a half year relationship that ended about a month ago, so hey, there’s your answer.
That’s also roughly the same amount of time in which this blog has been briefly abandoned. Weird. I think it’s because I’m not very good at writing when I’m feeling happy.
My mother actually asked me last night why I only write when I’m sad, my answer was simply that happiness is not an interesting enough emotion to comment on. Think about it. When I’m happy I wake up early and stretch and greet the hobos milling outside my window like I’m Snow White and they’re the little forest animals. I skip out of my flat and down the road and I fist bump car guards and breathe deeply and stare up at the blue sky and grin widely into the universe.
And it’s all very boring.
The real shit. The interesting, mind-bending, gut-wrenching, soul-searching shit, is when it’s 2am and “Daughter” has been playing on a loop since midnight and everything feels a little too real, too uncertain, too wild. And when the dawn arrives there’s a certain victory in surviving that shitstorm of emotion and adjectives. That’s how Plath wrote “Daddy”, and Eliot wrote “The Wasteland” and Spike Milligan wrote “On the Ning Nang Nong”.
Don’t try to tell me Spike Milligan wasn’t deeply emotional when he wrote the line “And the teapots jibber jabber joo”, I will fight you.
Anyway, I wrote something at 2am the other day and it was moderately good. So here it is:
Hey, I know you’re tired, and scared. Life is awfully fresh and raw and uncertain right now. You’re not too sure where you fit. Here’s the thing…in a few years time you will be a little less immortal. You will be sitting on new sheets in a bigger bed, with more money in your savings account and more stability in your heart, and you are going to miss this moment.
You are going to have more of your shit figured out and you are going to wonder why you didn’t cherish being 23 a bit more. There’s so much youth still on your side. The world is beckoning you with its fingertips and all you have to do is leap.
You are going to miss being this young, this unsure, this devastated, this inspired.
I need to remind myself that it’s okay to be and to feel two things at once. I am just as repulsed, as I am enchanted with the person I am becoming.
She slid across the room
A silly half-smile dancing across her face
Spreading gold dust with each twirl of her feet
Pivoting on an impossible axis,
Leaving equal parts love and destruction in her wake.
I have never seen anything so lovely,
And so dangerous.
I don’t think I can ever learn to hate you.
I know you think I do.
I know you like to romanticise the idea of me lying awake at night thinking of all the things we should have done and all the things I should have said.
But I don’t. I sleep like I’m dead. I’ve slept through break-ins and police sirens and 3 am arguments and almost-break ups. I sleep the same way I did before and after you barrel-rolled into my life with a pack of cigarettes in one hand and a plethora of expletives shooting out your mouth. It’s like I”m still catching up on everything I lost during the era of you. Even when we weren’t speaking I’d wake up to the scent of your Marlboros sneaking through my cracked window. Like those cigarettes, you are impossible to shake off.
I’ve stopped thinking everything is a sonnet. You know I used to stare my worst nightmare in the face and pour poetry down his throat until I’d convinced myself it was love. I’d write essays about his hands wrapped around my wrists and turn his sharp insults into feathers. I used to think everything broken was beautiful and everything toxic was medicinal.
I know you loved being a part of my life because it made you feel less alone. But you forgot that I get lonely too.
I’m happy you’re happy.
I just wanted you to know that it’s been a year since you went from being my whole world to being just another pin in my atlas. And I’m doing fine, the chords running through my life are now laced with gold, not soot.
It’s been a year and I hope you’re okay, and that you’ve been able to scrape the ash off your hands.
I hope you rediscovered your softness.
I hope when you think of me, that your thoughts have no sharp edges.