Things To Lose

I stare at the screen before me, looking over the list of things you should lose before you turn 35. The list is long and obvious. Most of these things I’ve either already ditched or never had.

Old receipts, bad habits like smoking, toxic relationships.

The last one gives me pause. I think of Cole. I think of him and how he’s just always been there. Whether I want him or not. I don’t know if I can discard him.

He saved my life once. I was having an allergic reaction and he ran into a pharmacy to get me some Benedryl. Sure, he could have (should have) taken me to the hospital, but he didn’t want his family to know he was with me.

He wasn’t ashamed of me; just embarrassed.

I think of the time he screamed at me (how did I pick just one?) for burning dinner. He came in and started picking at me- at my looks, at my clothes- and I just got distracted. It was my fault, really.

But, still, he saved my life. He kept me alive. Doesn’t that mean that I belong to him?

I read that somewhere. Until I find a way to save him, I belong to him.

I don’t want to belong to anybody. I’m my own person with my own feelings and whims and needs.

But, it’s been so long since I was my own person. The time before I was with Cole (back when I was in high school) was so long ago. I don’t know who I would be without him (and without him, I’m pretty sure I’m nothing).

It feels wrong; I go to reach for myself and…nothing. I feel nothing. Am I nothing? I’m afraid (without Cole) I might be.

It’s my birthday in 43 minutes. My 35th birthday. I made myself a cake and put candles, 35 of them, on top. I haven’t lit them. It isn’t time yet.

I glance at the bedroom. The door is closed and I can hear Cole’s gentle snore coming from the other side. If I trash him, where will I go? I think he’ll get custody of our friends in the break-up.

I shake my head.

It has to be done. I get up off the kitchen floor and tiptoe to the bedroom. I stand over him for a long time; just watching him sleep. He looks so weak; so…human.

I come back to the kitchen and check my watch- one minute. I light the candles. I watch the second-hand tick down.

Then I close my eyes and make a wish. When I open them, I’m alone in the apartment.

Mother Warned Me About You

My mother warned me about you. She told me you were dangerous. She told me you would hurt me.

When I met you the first time, it was in a dream. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt like I’d met you before. I don’t know why, but you felt like home.

I tried my best to put you out of my mind. I told myself you were dangerous. I told myself you would hurt me.

The second time I met you, it was a fleeting glimpse in a shop window as I passed by in the pouring rain. I didn’t get a good look at you, but I knew you in an instant.

You were all the things I was warned about. You were dangerous. You would hurt me.

The third time I met you, you were following me on the sidewalk on a sunny day. My breath caught in my throat as I glimpsed you; the monster just behind me.

I heard my mother’s voice in my mind. You are dangerous. You will hurt me.

Today, I see you in my mirror. I knew it was you; I knew it was me. I’ve known all along, I just didn’t want to know.

I am the creature in the night. I am the shadow that follows you on a sunny day. I am the monster half-glimpsed in the rain. But my mother was only half right.

I am dangerous, don’t make me hurt you.

There and Gone

I could have sworn he was right beside me; for years he always had been. Now he’s gone.

I don’t rightly know what it was that drove us apart. Was it my hair or my taste in music? Was I too clingy or maybe not affectionate enough? Something changed. I went from being the apple of his eye to just another stranger on the street.

He guided me and told me that he loved me, but his most recent actions make me wonder if he was ever really capable of love. So much hate and venom from such a small man.

Small? Yes, I dare say that though he is over six feet tall, he is small in all other ways. Small-minded. Small-hearted. Filled with small ideas and the overwhelming urge to make others even smaller than himself.

I used to look up to him with wonder and awe and fear. His temper and his rage frightened me and gave me nightmares. His cruel smacks and cutting, biting words left scars that I never thought would heal.

But they did, and I look upon him with pity.

I am great and strong and mightier than he ever meant me to know. He kept the knowledge that I am capable and enough from me like a miser keeps gold. His only power came from trying to keep a little girl down.

He tried to beat me and bend me to his will. For years, I was afraid it worked.

Now, though, I look down on this small man and wonder what it ever was that I feared in him. I see his petty jabs as what they truly are- a scared, little man trying to make everyone smaller than himself so he can feel in control of something.

For years, I carried him around with me. I carried his barbs and stings and I thought they were right and just- that I somehow deserved them.

I know that isn’t true, and, as I pull the last barb from my heart, I grieve the end of the relationship, wretched though it was, and move along.

I am strong and I am enough.

The Fear of Falling

Jules stepped onto the platform and resisted the urge to scream. She was a long way up and the people down below were urging her to jump.

If she jumped and fell, she would surely die. But, if she didn’t jump, she would live to regret it.

JUMP! JUMP! the crowd screamed up at her.

Jules closed her eyes and willed her hands to stop shaking. She stepped up to the edge of the platform and jumped.

For too many moments, the ground rushed up at her and she kicked herself for working without a net. She always worked with a net.

Jules opened her mouth to scream, but before she could draw the breath, her partner caught her by the wrists and swung her up into the air.

She caught her swing easily and allowed herself to beam as the crowd cheered.

Ghostown

I live in Ghostown. It used to have another name, but no one calls it that anymore. Or they might, but I’ve never heard them. It was a pretty name, too, but Ghostown fits it better these days.

I haven’t seen another car on the road in weeks. I know people are still out there, I’ve seen the trash pile up on the curb as evidence, but I haven’t seen anyone. I hope they’re still there.

The radio still pays music. All the stations are up and running it seems, and it gives me hope.

I know it could all be automated, like the trash collection and food deliveries, but it still makes me hopeful. I want to believe there is still some hope in Ghostown.

I’ve not left my house in days, or is it weeks now? No one goes outside, or at least I’ve never seen anyone outside. If someone is still out there, please give me a sign.

Please, let me know that you’re still there.

I don’t want to be alone.

The lies we tell ourselves

The lies we tell ourselves are, by far, the most insidious and wicked.

For years, I told myself that I would never be enough. In truth, I am not only enough, but I may be too much for some people. Exuberance, in all things, flows through my blood and seeps out my pores.

I dance. I sing. I take up space.

I will not apologize for any of it. I deserve to be here, just as I am. I matter and I have value.

I don’t know who first let me think I wasn’t enough, but I know now that they were just projecting their own lie onto me. They lived their lie; they nurtured it and fed it until it became a part of who they are.

I will not fall into the same trap. I refuse. I will live deliciously and be my own true self. Who I am and what I am is whole.

No longer will I lie to myself, hobble myself.

It’s a new day, and I will step into it with renewed purpose and a strong sense of self.

The Darkness

I’m thinking about it again. The thoughts don’t scare me like they used to. I used to worry about it, but now I think I’m excited.

If I let the darkness in, will the light within me come rushing out? Or, will it be consumed?

Will my final act before my descent into the coming darkness be a beacon to the world? Will I shine that much brighter than ever before, and then collapse inward into nothing?

Will the earth and moon and sun smile down on me as I implode, proud of my final act?

Is it worth it to let the darkness in?

The moment passes, and my thoughts go with it. I sigh and put my smile back on so that I can get through the rest of my day.

Stop Hitting Yourself

Stop hitting yourself.

Be patient with yourself. You wouldn’t get this upset with someone else just starting out, why do you do this to yourself?

Stop hitting yourself.

Be kind to yourself. You would never say the things you say to yourself to or about someone else. Why is it okay to belittle yourself?

Stop hitting yourself.

Be gentle with yourself. You wouldn’t be this rough with someone else’s feelings; don’t do it to yourself either.

Stop hitting yourself.

Love yourself. You are the only one of you and there will never be another one again. You are stardust, treat yourself like it.Stop hitting yourself.