Tag Archives: Personal

A letter to my 19 year old self

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Hello my darling,

I know you’re tired. Look at you, you’ve had the marrow sucked out of you by a parasitic force, you’ve spent 5 months trying to piece yourself together and you’re exhausted. My God you’re exhausted, but honey, you’re also so beautiful.

You are so much more than those nights you spent clinging on to a relationship that only gave you grief from the beginning. Remember how you’d run after his chaotic emotions, trying to make sense of the dark corner he stuffed you in? Remember the nights you spent in his bed, your knees tucked to your chest, your skinny frame shivering in his t-shirt, waiting for him to start making sense? Remember sneaking out of your house at 2am to race across the road and climb through his window, because you felt guilty for how much you thought you needed his embrace?

Sweetheart. He’s not the one. I know you think he is. I know he’s got you trapped in the toxic little universe he’s structured around your insecurities. I know you think you’re going to stay with him forever, that you’re going to get your degree and he is going to get a job and maybe he’ll stop freaking out if you forget to text him and he’ll let you go out with your friends every once in a while and maybe he’ll stop yelling. Maybe, maybe, maybe, he’ll stop yelling and shooting wine glasses with metal BB bullets and standing over you as the shards slip through your scarred hands. Maybe he’ll stop blaming you for everything that’s out of your control. Maybe you’ll stay with him forever and you’ll be happy because he’s got you convinced that no one else could possibly love someone as strange and as wild as you. Maybe he’ll stop yelling.

He’s not it my love. You know he isn’t. You know that with every icy word, every bite of his temper, every snarl in your direction that you’ll just get smaller and smaller. You know if you carry on you’re going to disappear. Rip out his claws honey, rip them out of your skin and start running, because your flame can only grow brighter from here.

You are going to burn all of the empty letters he ever left on your bed. You are going to start a mini bonfire in a tin can in your garden and you are going to belly laugh wildly and dance around the carcass that was the past 5 months of your life. You are going to kiss your scars and run your feet raw as you tear down boulevards. You are never going to be afraid to raise your voice ever again.

You are going to beat your pillow with a hockey stick until all the rage and regret  that he spoon fed you, explodes in a flurry of feathers and relief. You are going to change all the locks to your heart and then spend the next 2 years simply loving yourself. You are going to snip away at every single toxic relationship that eats into your spirit until the only people who are left are the ones that carry you to bed and bundle you up when you cry. Prepare to have your face stroked and your soul held and your forehead kissed my darling; prepare to feel confused and tentative about all these gentle gestures – I know it feels foreign, but this is what you need and deserve.

Then prepare to have the breath knocked out of you by someone who exudes sunlight and warmth.

I know you think you deserve locked doors and acidic words, it’s going to take a while for you to break that cycle. But when you finally do, when you finally look up and realise your own electric disposition, you are going to free fall into the arms of someone who makes your entire body burn.

He is going to take you to parties and introduce you to fellow wild things. He’s going to take you onto rooftops and sit and listen while you animatedly chat about everything important to you. He’s going to let you bury your face in his chest while he strokes your hair and tells you that he is never going to contain your spirit or lock up your happiness. He is going to look at you like maybe you are magic, and he’s going to pour golden words down your throat.

And you, my love, you are going to realise that the people who try to extinguish your flame are the ones who don’t deserve any of your warmth.

You will detonate into a plethora of water-colours and wild flowers.

I love you with all my heart.

 

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Romanticising other things.

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Source: weheartit.com

I haven’t written anything on here in over 2 months.

I totally get that these moments of total writer’s block happen from time to time. I’m only human, my brain can only spew out so many melodramatic metaphors before it gets tired of itself. There’s only so many cliches I can avoid before I become a walking one.

I’m not sure why it’s been so long. I’ve been writing things down, obviously. Disappointed little scribbles in my journal. At one point I experimented and wrote out an entire paragraph whilst under the influence – there was a lot of wiggles and a lot of pent up angst, wow.

I lost my muse…well, my muse lost me. So I’ve had to kind of learn to romanticise other things – like the suffocating smell of festival toilets and the feeling of new socks on cold feet. But over my brief hiatus from publishing anything on my favourite corner of the internet, I’ve managed to write down a few short little blurbs.

So here it is; Harriet’s random 2am/ every day thoughts: an anthology.

On places I’d rather avoid:

“I equate places with feelings. And if it were up to me, the train station where I last saw you would be simultaneously the favourite and most despised place in my entire world.”

In an email from my grandmother:

“I went to New York when I was 20 to see if it was any different from Nottinghamshire. If it was the same, I could always come back and settle down. Instead I found your grandfather and no, New York was not the same as Notts.”

I went to the edge and found you.

On weekends that turn into melodramatic moments:

“It’s almost tomorrow and I don’t want to go home.

Ever have one of those weekends? The spell-binding, soul-searching, over-the-moon kind of weekend? I am at the end of one and I’ve got this sinking feeling that I’ll never feel something so definite, so completely euphoric. I feel my youth creeping up on me, I can feel the fire start in my heart and I can feel my toes curl as I yearn for moments that last.

I don’t want to stop being 21. I want nights that beat the sun and glowing embers that don’t know how to die.

I want to carry on living this spontaneously forever.

It’s almost tomorrow and I don’t want to go home.”

“I’ve had a weekend.

A destructive, ridiculous, incredible weekend; filled with sobbing and catchphrases and loving people despite it all.”

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Source: weheartit.com

On people who don’t know how to stay:

“I can’t blame you for walking away. How can I possibly? We both know I burn too brightly to be extinguished. There’s a ‘no vacancy’ sign just for you hanging over my vibrant, unbelievable, explosive life.”

“Because our entire existence was me trying to hold on to what you used to be, and you trying to show me how much you’ve changed.”

“I hope when you retell our story, you describe me as ‘the girl who screamed poetry at you when you told her to run, even though she was never yours to walk away from.'”

“I’m glad you’ve found ways to smother your grief for humanity, but don’t you dare do it at my expense.”

On what they never taught me in school:

“In 5th grade English class they told us to write down everything with as much detail as possible. They told us that parts of speech were imperative, adjectives meant something.

They never told us that, in reality, adjectives are just as superficial as their intentions. And some people will say anything just to gain a piece of your soul.”

On how much can change over several months:

“I am not the person I was last November. I am nowhere near the girl who blushed electric at your empty cosmic promises.

I am not who I was last November. I got ripped from that body by circumstance and change. I got pummeled into this shape by disappointment. I am not who I was last November.

I am not last November. I haven’t written poetry in months. I don’t believe in shutting out the world any more, I let the cold seep in to wake me up and chill my bones.

I am not who I was last November. I am not a Mississippi sunset, I am not burning up as I race down a wooden dock towards you. I am not superlunary, I am not yours.

I am not who I was last November. I have run out of time; you wasted it. You, and all those after you. I have run out of time and sand and clock hands.

I am not who I was last November. I have an iron soul that can’t be thawed and eyes that flash sunlight. I will burn you up. I will make you miss me. I will drive you insane, kiss you catatonic and then leave you to combust.

Because I am not who I was last November. I am not who you pretended to love. I am not even myself.”

On how much better everything has turned out to be:

“If I end up living a life that is anything short of vibrant, I won’t survive. Tonight I braided a man’s hair whilst sitting on the floor of a bar. I drove around my neighbourhood yelling promises at strangers, I kissed my friends goodnight and flopped onto my bed. I am blissfully surprised at how wonderful everything has turned out to be.”

The bit about festival toilets:

“There’s nothing more carnal or cathartic than finally having a poo in a festival porter-loo.”

And despite all these ridiculous metaphors, here is my final WTF moment:

“Squeaky swings sound like children screaming.”

(What the fuck, Harriet?)

Think of this as a farewell to all the moody posts about something that is now a nothing.

There you have it. The sneakiest peak into my drafts folder.

Not much else to say, except goodbye.

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You are so much more than this.

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Friendships are complicated webs. Two people decide they like each other slightly more than they like other people and therefore they entangle their lives in joint memories, shared secrets and a blur of complimentary character traits. As soon as the web is spun, glistening and dewy in the morning light, it’s difficult for it to unravel without someone getting trapped in the chaos of cut strings and unpleasant emotions.

Relationships are slightly trickier. They are more fragile, require more maintenance. Relationships, at least the ones I’ve been in, are made of a more brittle kind of silk than friendship, they’re tenuous and devastating.

Both kinds of interaction are as disastrously beautiful as they are lovingly crushing. They represent the pleasure and pain of what it means to be truly human, I’ve been hurt by both.

The worst thing to deal with, besides for the fall out, is when friendship and relationship blend in a delicate and confusing emotional masterpiece. Especially when circumstances allow for only friendship to grow, where does the lust stop and the platonic begin?

Yesterday I had a leisurely post-lecture, pre-devastation chat with my friend Su. We discussed the positive traits we see in each other and how important they are to our lives, a bit of an uplifting tête-à-tête before exams crush our souls. She told me the one thing I willingly and selflessly give to people, is my time.

I’ve always understood that time for another person is the best thing to give them. I’ve never been the type of person to buy affection – I don’t demand attention with sad stories or gifts. I’m not exactly rolling in cash money. I could be eating 2-minute-noods out of a rusty tin can, or trying to diabolically take over the world with lab rats and soggy cheese rolls and I’d still take 10 minutes out of my day to remind the people I truly love that I am still a happy presence in their lives.

That’s the thing. That’s the snare in the web of friendship/ relationship/ weird hybrid of emotions, I give and I give and I give my time sometimes to people who don’t have a minute to reciprocate it.

That’s the hamartia of this whole thing. The fatal flaw in an otherwise devastating fuck up of fate. My love language is time and the people I waste it on don’t understand that they’re taking the most precious thing I can give them, for granted.

 

I tried to type out the story of why I’m writing this blog post, why I was angry crying at 7 o clock this morning, why it feels like a scalding ball of rage and disappointment has settled in my chest – but I still deeply care for the person this is about, regardless of the imbalance of energy we invest in each other, so I won’t.

I’ll leave it at this. I’ve waited months for a phone call, and the one I got wasn’t nearly as wonderful as I thought it would be. I did a happy dance in the middle of a crowded bar when I found out it was going to happen. I clutched my phone to my chest and beamed around the room whilst assuring the people I was with that I wasn’t getting in too deep, that we’re just friends, that my emotions were not dangling on the promise of a ringtone.

Then everyone around me got to see the heartbreaking plummet of my emotions from ecstatic to disappointed. There was no more happy jigs, my heart stopped clawing its way out of my chest, I stopped beaming and got angry. I’ve never been so angry at someone I care about so much. I never expected to be hurt by someone I put so much faith in.

Su sent me a message about it. She has a wonderful way with words and what she wrote to get me to stop crying made me weep like a small child. I’m talking big fat ugly tears, foetal position, howling.

Forgive her if it does the same to you.

You are so much.

Not too much, but so much.

You are light and rambunctiousness and serendipity with dashes of serenity. You are more than a horny slur at night when someone is too lazy to be decent any other time.

You are a muse. Worth more than dirty words in dark hours and worth more than just a thought.

You deserve the love of legions. And one man who has behaved so cruelly (it is cruel) does not deserve that honour. He doesn’t get to make you feel this way and then let you down so hard.

Darling, you’re more than this and even if he forgets, everyone else remembers. You need to remember that also.

I am so much. I give my time to the people I love. I would spare 10 minutes in the busiest of days if it meant I could add value to my favourite humans on this planet.

I have recieved an apology, it’s going to take time for me to sift through the carnage of the web I got caught in. I’m going to have to figure out how I expect people to treat me and the minutes I give them.

I am complex and caring and a light-stained street of emotions. I can’t afford to settle for less than I deserve.

Neither do any of you.

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I promise this time will be different.

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I am not going to cry when you leave.

I know that’s what you’re expecting, I don’t blame you. All my actions leading up to this point have been emotionally raw. The last time you left we sat at the train station for 45 minutes with my head on your chest, trying to pull ourselves together.

I promise this time will be different.

When you leave, when I finally stop smelling your sweater, stop running my hands through your hair, stop leaning over to kiss you gently on the cheek; I will allow myself one minute to let despair catch up with me. I will clench my fists, breathe deeply and then choose to be happy.

I am going to miss you, my god, I am going to miss you. But as I’ve learnt, my dear, I can not afford to burden you with the responsibility of my happiness. You are a small part of my joy, but you are not the force holding me together. I am my own little hero, I am saving my own little heart.

When you leave, when I stop living in the golden haze that comes with you, I am going to continue studying for my test tomorrow. I am going to wake up early for class, celebrate my birthday with the people I love and read books that I will clutch to my chest, laughing until my breath stops.

When you leave I am still going to sprint down boulevards, yelling after all the devils I’m chasing. I am still going to dance around my bedroom to aggressive banjo solos and obscure bands. I am still going to grin maniacally at absurdities.

I am my happiness, darling. There may be a place for you in my ribcage, but I own my soul.

And my soul has decided to be euphoric.

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Sexual Harassment is not a joke, I’m not laughing.

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When I was in high school my teacher redefined the terms “rape” and “sexual assault” to mean “a forced invasion of someone’s personal space” and everyone laughed. Of course we laughed, we were not yet 18, still living in loving, sheltered households and it was funny to walk too close to your friend and make a rape joke. What comedians, we didn’t know about the impact of our own naivety.

I went on to university, still not fully understanding the concept that lesson had placed before us, yet knowing that I needed to be wary that nothing of that definition ever happened to me. Since moving away from home, I’ve had to endure varying degrees of personal space invasion; men grabbing me in nightclubs, trying to steal kisses without even caring about my name, men standing too close to me at ATMs so I’ve had to yell at them to back off, one of my own contemporaries, drunk and needy – stroking the back of my neck and holding my waist, despite my protests that I didn’t want to be touched.

Society has taught me that as a single woman walking by myself to class that I need to carry pepper spray in my hand. It’s taught me to shrink away from groups of rowdy men in supermarket aisles or on the street. Watch your drink girl, don’t walk home at night, use your house keys as a weapon, be aware of your own weak, victimised and objectified body and what it does to sick men’s brains-because the way I dress is apparently now an invitation for someone to attack me.

And then it happened. In the broader sense of the definition of sexual assault, it happened- multiple times, yet I only recognised it for what it was at the last minute.

I went out with this person for drinks last week, simply because he’d been hounding me for months, having difficulty taking “no” for an answer and I was mad at someone who deserved it a little bit. We went out and he bought me drinks and I got drunk, then he tried to kiss me. I pushed him away the first time, he played it off like a joke and I went along with it. The second time I succumbed and then told him it was never going to happen again. I didn’t want it to happen again. I didn’t like it.

He assured me that it was a once off thing, he wasn’t going to try and kiss me again, he wanted us to stay friends. I went home early and didn’t tell my mother because I was scared of the look she’d give me.

“How could you be so stupid Harriet, going out for drinks with men you barely know and letting them kiss you when you weren’t so sure you wanted it? You idiot.”

I kept it a secret, put it in my pocket and went back to university.

Then he showed up, wanted to take me out lunch. I said okay because despite the slip up I liked his company, I had nothing else to do and I knew he’d hound me for months if I didn’t.

At lunch he made jokes about how attractive I am, how he only has 20 more days to “get with me” because when I turn 21 I won’t be the youngest he’s ever had, then he leant in to kiss my cheek.

I pushed him off, he said it was a joke, I wanted to go home, so he took me there.

This is when it gets scary, this is the part I keep reliving- bile rising in my throat every time I think about it.  When I said goodbye to him he said he wanted a kiss for good luck. I refused, told him I didn’t want to, but he held my face and did it anyway. I told him it counts as harassment, told him it was too far before he grabbed me from behind and pressed himself against me.

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I’ve never pushed someone away so hard, walked so quickly through my gate and into safety, felt so confused – standing in my bedroom, trying to make my brain work.

“Sorry, the joke got out of hand” he texted.

What joke? It wasn’t a joke. Trusting this man with my company, having him abuse it, ignoring my no’s, invading my personal space to the point where I felt physically sick and uncomfortable. Where is the joke here?

I sat on my bed, texting various friends to make sure I wasn’t overreacting, that this wasn’t normal. And then I cried. For 2 hours I lay down and sobbed, feeling dirty and used. My best friend phoned me from Grahamstown, she knows how I feel, she understands how tainted a touch can become and how quickly intentions can turn sour. She let me cry into the phone, told me I was probably always going to carry a part of the incident with me- like a devil on my back.

I haven’t told my mom yet. I don’t know how to. She’ll read this post and phone me and I’ll probably cry all over again.

Everything has changed. I’ve started calculating people’s intentions, watching my back constantly, and if I go out at night I know I’ll see the shadow of him in every corner, behind every villainous smile and feel sick.

Assault is a spectrum, like most things in life. There’s no black and white- there’s a very real grey area that some people think is okay to cross into. In the broader scheme of things he didn’t touch me inappropriately, he didn’t place his hands anywhere deemed “private”. Yet I still feel dirty, waves of nausea come over me every time I picture this man’s face. I’ve received so many hugs and messages from the people who care, and they aren’t okay with what happened.

There’s something about this grey area that’s stripped me of my fearlessness. The girl who sees good intentions in everybody, who trusts so willingly played with matches and got burned.

This person has been blocked, from everything, from my life. If I ever see him again I will yell until the sky falls down. I will beat my fists and scream “no” until he and the rest of the world realises that abusing someone’s personal space like that is never okay, that sexual harassment is not a “joke”, no means no and I’m not playing around when it comes to my own safety.

I’m not laughing.

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My god, please stay.

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My head’s a little fuzzy from all the positive reassurances I’ve been feeding myself since 11 last night. They’ve managed to fill my cranium with white noise, bumping into each other every few seconds, trying to squeeze themselves into tight spaces to make room for the demons who are hosting them.

Hello. It’s been a while. I’ve been busy, trying to fill my days with as much thought-numbing joy as possible before all the monstrous thoughts come back. I’ve been happy, so happy. I’ve shaken my fists at gremlins and run down stormy avenues in rain boots – shaking poetry out of my hair and out-sprinting every anxious pang I’ve ever held captive in my chest.

But happiness has a nasty bite. It roars and shakes it’s dreadful mane, daring me to beg it to stay.

My god, please stay.

I don’t want to be left alone with this terrible wave inside me, let me cling to you for a little longer.

I’ve had this pounding ache since 11 pm, a precariously explosive bubble of emotions that I’ve weighed down with an iron anchor.

Don’t you dare escape, do you want to expose us? Stay still and quiet, don’t erupt, don’t scream, don’t show him or anyone else how much you’re hurting. Shut up.

“I am spectacular, I am smart, I have worth, I am not falling apart, I am going to tackle this with the tenacity and stubbornness of a mother-freaking grizzly bear.”

No matter how this turns out, whether the raging winds and torrential rain tear me apart or leave me just a little battered- there is still life within my veins. I will rise, I will eventually thrive, I will guard my heart with an iron casket next time something like this happens because I can not afford to let hurricane emotions whisk me away again.

If you’re going to go, then go. But if you want to stay then please, please do.

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Kid, you gotta love yourself.

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source: weheartit.com

I got to spend time with one of my favourite people this January which is significant as we’re currently averaging on seeing eachother every 700 days. The distance between Canada and South Africa is a bit awkward for visits to be more frequent, so we make do with the time we have.

We met on his 15th birthday, I was 14 and obsessed with side-fringes, converse sneakers and bright skinny jeans. I thought jumping off a golf cart would look super cool and ended up with a spectacular face plant to leave a lasting impression. He has therefore essentially seen me at my worst and most embarrassing- it’s been 6 years of tripping over my own feet, running head-first into fire places, acquiring various black eyes and dropping a number of objects he has chucked at me to realise that not a lot of people have seen the parts of me that he has.

When I was 17, I got to spend almost 2 weeks with him in Kenya. It was 10 days of constant exposure to the pros and cons of a particular human being. We both learned the colours of each other’s anger, we spent a full day in the hot sun after getting half an hour of sleep and by the end of it were bickering more than usual, we spoke about our respective futures like they weren’t right around the corner and some days when we ran out of topics of conversation, we’d sit in silence until the things we desperately wanted to say came bursting out of us.

We had such a moment this week. It was hot and we had stopped talking for a bit. He was lounging on the couch that I had my back pressed against and I was feeling rather conflicted about the emotions that were running rampant in my chest. He looked at me like he knew what I was thinking, I stared back, trying to figure out how to phrase my crazy.

“Do you think that someone can wake up one day and just stop missing you?”

He gave me a skeptical look, a constant calculation shooting off in his head, I’d told him about everything that’s happened and how I’m still trying to figure out where I fit, he knows me well enough to say the right things. So he leaned over and flicked the bottom of my chin before stretching back and uttering this resonating statement:

“You don’t need to be missed Harriet. You have to learn to be autonomously happy, regardless of whether you are missed. You can’t tear yourself apart being emotionally dependent on anyone.”

He knows me. God, he knows me. He knows how easily I leap into my emotions like they haven’t let me down before, he knows how I feel about effort, how desperately I cling to any hint of romanticism. It’s been 6 years and countless mistakes and so many letters home trying to figure out why I like my life to be filled with intensity- and the man summed up what I needed to hear in 3 succinct sentences.

I do not need to be missed.

I need to have autonomous happiness.

I can’t afford to tear myself apart.

I can’t afford to tear myself apart.

 

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