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.

Other Than I Am

I’m not a Man. I never will be.

There is no dagger in my smile. When I smile, it’s just that- a smile. I smile when I feel joy. I can’t be anything other than what I am.

I am prey to the swaying of my thoughts, so I will bow my head. I will beat my fists against the tiled floor and curse the Creator for making me as I am.

I cannot be any other than as I am. I long to be a Man- to be free to do as I please with little to no consequence.

I long to walk alone at night, with nothing but the stars to guide me. I can’t, or rather, shouldn’t. It isn’t safe for me to do so. If I am accosted, it is my fault for allowing it.

I am not a Woman. I never will be.

I am not fierce; a fire burning brighter than the very stars themselves. I’ve never burned bright enough for anyone to notice.

There is no power to the sway of my hips. My smile does not hide secrets. I have no secrets.

I long to bewitch and ensnare, but I cannot.

I have neither a Man’s mind nor a Woman’s might.

I cannot be anything other than what I am.

Another Letter I’ll Never Send

Dear former lover,

I hate you. It has been over ten years, and I still hate you. I hate you for what you did to me. I hate you for what was and what should never have been.

I read the other day that on average it takes seven years for all the cells in a healthy adult to replace themselves. Seven. I hope this is correct because I long for a body that you never touched.

I hate you. What you did to me used to make me wish I’d never been born, now I wish you’d never been born. It has taken so many years of work on myself to love myself enough to hate you.

I don’t think I’ll ever let go of this anger. 

I think about you less and less as time passes, but every year your memory comes creeping back in. Every year.

December is haunted because of you. I’m haunted because of you. I hate you with every fiber of my being. I hope you suffer every day of your life. 

I hope your socks are always damp. I hope you have a million unfinished sneezes. I hope you forget a word at a moment that makes you look like a fool. I hope you itch on the heel of your foot and never really satisfy it.

I hope you rot,

Tiger

An End to a Sabbatical

I’ve taken some time away to get my head straight. It’s been one thing after another in my personal life, and I’ve still got a lot going on.

I guess I just realized that it won’t stop. I’ll always have my mental health issues; meds help but they don’t entirely solve the issue. I am committed to a return to posting my writing.

I haven’t stopped writing. I can’t stop, but I’m ready to share again.

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 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.

What if things go well?

I find myself asking myself what if things go wrong at least a few dozen times a day. On bad days, my imagination runs away with the idea- dreaming up all the impossible and improbable ways in which things could go wrong.

Theses thoughts steal the air from my lungs and leave me gasping. What if this happens? What if no one comes? What if people come, but they only do so to humiliate and hurt me?

I try to breathe deep and shake it off, but it doesn’t work very well. Often, I start freaking out about not breathing right and things get worse.

Today, I found a way to stop all that evil negativity in its ugly tracks. At first, I could only think it in a small voice at the back of my mind. Within minutes, I was asking it aloud. I asked myself, “What if things go well?”

What if I’m met with love and respect? What if this is a huge success? What if everything goes well?

Do you see how powerful this mindset shift is? It took me from the daunting choice of fight or flight on the verge of an anxiety attack back to being in control of my life.

It isn’t a perfect system, and it might not work for me or you all the time, but please, give it a try. Be kind to yourself. Be brave with yourself. Ask yourself, “What if things go well?”