“Absence is a house so vast that inside you will pass through its walls and hang pictures on the air.” ~ Pablo Neruda
"The sun does not abandon the moon to darkness." ~ Brian A. McBride, Dominion
We all have those things, the things that happened, the ones we don’t want to remember. I don’t even mean the things that we wish never happened. no. Just the ones we want to forget. After all, if I could go back in time and change something, I’m honestly not quite sure that I would. Then again, do I mean that, or is that just something nice I’m supposed to say? It does sound like a nice thing to say, you know, like the ones I’m supposed to.
The truth is, sometimes I get confused, it’s the one thing I can’t deny. It’s confusing because I’m complicated, but so is the world, we’re just complicated in different ways, almost mostly the same. Interestingly, it’s the simplifications of such worldly complications that have simultaneously brought me the most suffering and offered me the most peace. What I mean by this is, when the complications have been unearthed to their roots, it’s the simplifications that have made me face the things I don’t want to. hurt. loss. acceptance. They’ve brought me pain, before they’ve brought me freedom.
"Everyday we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty." ~ Henry Miller, Sexus
You see, we live in a world that we perceive as vulnerable, we spend our lives trying to protect the pieces of ourselves that we label. weak. after all, if this weren’t the case, tell me, would they need protecting?
The truth is no matter how hard we strive, we ultimately can’t hide anything from our awareness. Well, at least not forever. After all, it’s who we are, but alas we try, and sometimes we think we’ve succeeded. No. I’ll speak for me, sometimes I think I’ve succeeded. This is about the time the other shoe drops, you know, the one I’ve waited for, my whole life. Somewhere along the line I threw two up, and somewhere along this same line, one came down, but I’d hoped the other had gotten lost. I lived in fear that it hadn’t, but I’d be lying if I said, that I hadn’t hoped that it did. Who needs both shoes anyway? Isn’t it more fun to walk barefoot? It turns out it’s not, at least not on broken glass. It really is annoying, this whole healing thing. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Well, actually, it is more like butterflies, but the ooze stage of their metamorphosis. It isn’t always fun, or pleasant, I’ll tell you that, but it’s worth it, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Nobody wants to stay a caterpillar forever, after all, I really think we were always meant to fly.
"Yes, I value emotions deeply. Call me sensitive, call me weak, call me outdated, call me anything you may, but tell me the truth, can you deny emotions give life to life? If emotions are an integral part of Being Human, why do people suppress feeling them? Does the bruising scare them? Then I wonder who is weak?" ~Drishti Bablani, Wordions
They tell you to be proud of survival, but they leave out how much it hurts. They don’t tell you the part where you have to go back to collect your broken pieces, and that you have to do so, just when you thought you’d made it out. Shattered dreams of safety. Desperate times call for desperate measures, after all, it was in those desperate times that I locked myself in. so many rooms. The price for life, a cost paid often in soul. I’ll remind you now. I am not above this.
The truth is I lost myself somewhere, and I’m not sure where, exactly. I somehow sealed myself in the dark rooms I was trying to lock out of my mind, the rooms I tried to hide from my awareness. Almost unintentionally, almost. so many rooms. filled with fear. forgotten. But, like I said, we can’t hide anything from our awareness, it’s who we are. still. that never stopped me from trying. After all, it’s in the trying that I’ve hurt myself, and, inevitably, I’ve hurt others. The world is but a reflection, or haven’t I told you this yet?
As fate would have it, this new day has come with its own challenges, and with that a new bravery; to say the things I don’t want to, to expose the roots of what remains to be. unsaid. Historical gifts from the archeological dig. fragments. I like to write in abstraction, the kind that makes some semblance of sense, words recognized in their essence, hinted at, felt, remnants pointing closer towards. wonder. Oh these words. Maybe you’re curious as to why I don’t want to say them, maybe you’re not, and maybe it doesn’t matter. I know less and less these days. These words I will share with you, they are not abstractions, this story is not simply for a lesson, this story is mine. It’s personal. I’ve told you, I’m selfish when it comes to these things, but as fate would have it, today is the day somebody asked me to be generous.
"We die every day... it's called being human." ~ Jon Courtenay Grimwood
The truth is, these bones, they ache. My soul, she is dusty and she is tired, and I’m burdened by the weight of these words. These things that I hoard, these moments I’ve collected, they’re blocking the door to my freedom. Here’s another truth, however painful, I long to be free from the shackles of my own enslavement. Turns out I hold the key, the only one that truly frees me.
The truth. I owe it to you. No. I owe it to me. I’m both tired of the hiding and scared of how you’ll see me when I stop. It just so happens that today, I’m scared of the hiding more. I write of the darkness, I write of the coffin, the walls closing in, you wonder where it comes from, this fear. I guess it’s about time I tell you, one, two, three, breathe with me. Are you ready? If not it’s okay, after all, I’m not sure that I am.
Before we go any further, I’d like to talk about vulnerability, I think it’s time for a refresher, or maybe I’m just trying to kill time. After all, I know less and less these days. Tell me, am I the only one?
"Do not let the roles you play in life make you forget that you are human." ~ Roy T. Bennett
Anyways, like I was saying, vulnerability takes sacrifice. Inherent in vulnerability is an openness to the unknown. When we share openly we do not know how we will be perceived, or for that matter, how we will perceive ourselves, and this inevitably scares us. Now, let me be clear, true vulnerability does not require that I have the same or even similar experiences, with whomever I share. Quite simply, I meet them where they are, and they meet me where I am, even if neither of us has been there before. These metaphorical places of reciprocity can be different, or similar, but this is not a determining factor in the healing of the exchange. True vulnerability benefits both parties, equally. Don’t get me wrong, it does require sacrifice, it demands the openness to truth, for us to cut ourselves open and expose the rawness of our insides. It presses for us to be vulnerable with ourselves, to uncover our deepest sorrows and unveil our peaks of joy, to hold both, genuinely, and then to share this discovery with another, sometimes simultaneously. True healing through vulnerability, mutual power, unrestrained. synonymous beauty.
The truth is I’m selfish, but not for the reasons you or I think. You see, I am very comfortable with a certain level of vulnerability, a level that the world praises because so few are willing to go there. I’m comfortable here, vulnerable in this exposure, but then again, that’s not the full story.
I remind you of this because I want to make a clear distinction, vulnerability is on a scale, a range, and the spectrum within which it resides is individual. tailored. What seems vulnerable to me, may not seem vulnerable to you, and so, the level of vulnerability is not held within the content being shared, it is supported in the energy that is exchanged. Like I have said, it’s only requirement. truth. It is in this truth that we are to refrain from judging the “relevance” of shared content. We’re always so quick to judge. here. Existing in our lives of so much context. It’s when we involve the ego and become competitive with our vulnerability, comparative, this is when the beauty of the exchange is lost, when we overlook the wonderful simplicity of heartfelt sharing.
"Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That's its balance." ~ Osho
The truth is when someone shares with me the magnitude of their loss, the gravity of their hurt, I meet them there. It is only when I am able to surrender to the moment, to meet them without judgment that something opens in me. An awareness, a door for me to walk through, both clear and unfamiliar. These doors they open, one by one, although the path to where they lead is never shown, for vulnerability requires bravery. The courage to step out into the unknown.
I find the door by listening, by noticing the first thing that comes up for me, when I hear the story being shared. A subtle correlation, the hint of a faint and distant memory, a feeling. For real vulnerability resides beyond the veil of words, in a world where the truth can only be felt. In this I sit. It is in feeling, that the path to healing is always shown to me.
I have a curiosity, an unending desire to know, to ask the meaningful questions, but that’s not the full story. The truth is. sometimes. I’m scared of the answers I seek.
Tell me, are you with me?
It’s only when I meet them there, when I. feel. something comes up for me, and if I’m aware enough, before I have the opportunity to judge it, I see it. This door to our mutual healing.
If I remain aware, two paths lay before me:
I choose judgment and I either judge what was shared, or I judge what I want to share in exchange. This judgment, if I choose to walk with it, closes the door to healing, and opens another door. This door is labeled, “illusion.”
I choose the courage of vulnerability. I choose to release judgment, either towards them or myself, because they’re both the same anyway. I walk through the door to healing, bravely, I walk down the road to freedom, with no idea where it leads.
You see, we perceive the world as vulnerable, and when we perceive ourselves as being of the world, we see ourselves as vulnerable within it. Sometimes when we’re offered a door to healing, we’re too scared of where it leads, and so, we choose to be comfortable, and walk fearfully through the door of illusion. It’s odd isn’t it? We’re given two options, courage or fear, and because we’re afraid of the unknown, we choose the latter, and end up afraid anyway. Apparently God has a good sense of humor, or maybe he doesn’t, and maybe that doesn’t matter. Like I said. I know less and less these days.
"Tears are words the mouth can't say nor can the heart bear." ~ Joshua Wisenbaker
The truth is, the door to freedom, while much healthier, feels much scarier than the predictability of a self fulfilling prophecy. Love requires bravery, and so does freedom. The bridge of vulnerability is strong, and the weakness of the ego has no place on the altar of the truthful exchange, for protection is the egos purpose, and never healing.
In love and healing we must risk feeling like a fool, and maybe this is easier to do in worlds with far less context. So in this moment, I offer myself to you, truthfully, I’ll share with you my life, the one I’ve come to know, filled with so much pretense.
They say that I’m brave, and I am, but that’s not the full story.
The truth is, I have these things, you know, those things, the ones I want to forget, and God knows I’ve tried, but I made a promise to fear. I locked her in rooms, promising one day I’d free her, but everyday I promise that it’ll be tomorrow. Like I’ve said, this is why she haunts me.
I don’t like to write about then, about this, my life, growing up. Somehow I like talking about it even less. There’s something about words passing lips, softly spoken, something too. vulnerable. In speaking we often give ourselves away, writing is much less like that. I try and tell myself that I got this far, that maybe I can live on more lies, empty words, vacant promises to free her. Maybe she’ll grow tired and leave me, this fear, but I don’t think so. I think it’s time that I make good on my promises.
"The largest part of what we call 'personality' is determined by how we've opted to defend ourselves against anxiety and sadness." ~ Alain de Botton
It’s funny isn’t it? When did we feel the need to start locking up our illusions? When did I? We play pretend, and maybe it’s this fantasy of illusion that makes us such creative creatures after all. Who knows. I know less and less these days.
I’ve confused reality with a nightmare. I’ve been sleeping you see, walking, terrified of the images in my mind, hiding from shadows, afraid to turn the light on.
Ironic. It’s in denying her illusory existence that I have given her validity. I’ve locked her in rooms, cold and dark, so long ago I can’t remember where I left her. This is what gives fear her power over me.
So now I guess comes the brave part, where I break myself into pieces, where I admit to you what I don’t want to admit to me. I traded my life to forget, and it turns out I want it back. Welcome to my personal vulnerability, where I exchange my remembering, for me.
The truth is there are these things I don’t like to share, and I tell myself that I’m protecting the world from their weight, when in reality I’ve just grown so comfortable, pretending everything’s okay. I say that I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, and really, you shouldn’t, but honestly, I’m just really scared of feeling it for me. I protect myself by sharing just the facts. cold. calculated. methodical. distant, as if I wasn’t even there. I tell them a version of what happened, the mild one, the safe one. In telling this version and doing so this way, I hope that they’ll confirm that I’m okay, because I’ve spent my whole life trying to convince myself that I am.
"So it's true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love." ~ E.A. Bucchianeri
You see, I’m selfish, but not for the reasons you think. I am selfish because somebody told me that these pieces I hide are the best parts of me. Somebody thinks I should share them, and the truth is, I wish I could say that somebody was me.
We can only ever share what’s true at our current level of awareness, so here’s the truth as I see it, from mine. I’m not okay, I haven’t been forever, and sometimes I’m not sure that I ever will be. I had a curiosity, an unending desire to know, until I realized that the knowing can be painful, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with that.
In a house filled with so many feelings, there was never any room for me to feel mine. Wait. I need to rewind, I’m getting ahead of myself. It starts long before this. I’ll start with him, because it starts with them, at least my part, and without him, there wouldn’t be a them, and without them, there wouldn’t be a me.
"When he left us, he stole all the words." ~ Alex George, Setting Free the Kites
The truth is, I tell people the facts, my dad died, two months before my fourth birthday. I don’t usually offer how, because in this case the how embodies a naturally occurring why, but inevitably they ask, and I refer to the evidence. suicide.
You tell someone your dad died of cancer, or in a car accident, and their faces go sad. When you tell them he died from a choice, and a permanent one at that, their face goes somewhere else. I can’t tell you where they go, what it’s called, but I know what it looks like, and I know it by heart. I tell them not to worry, it’s okay, it was a long time ago, and I mean it, but that’s not the full story.
You know, they say time heals all wounds, and I want so badly to believe them, whoever they are. The they who say. I wonder if they’ve ever lost somebody. I wonder if they’ve ever lost. everybody.
The truth is, I don’t tell them, but today I’m going to tell you. Are you ready? If not it’s okay, I’m still trying to decide if I am.
I don’t tell them of the pain, how the sadness on their faces reminds me of my own. How I want so badly to forget. How that somewhere else they go, the place beyond the sadness, once upon a time I went there too, and I never came back. I thought I’d lose my pain, but as it turns out, I lost myself with it, for wherever I go, it follows me. I hide in the shadows and color the memory with indifference. Hoping one day I’ll succeed in my forgetting.
I don’t tell them of the tantrums, my begging for attention, hoping someone would notice me, but this hope, it’s a dangerous thing. I leave out the parts where they all walked over me, reminding me how I’m just. angry. You see, I’m sure the truth is everyone wanted to scream in that house, I was just the only one that did.
I don’t tell them of the fights. Oh, the fights. The red and blue lights coming through the window, reflecting off the walls. The trash being dumped all over the kitchen, the proving of points, the reminders, the lessons, we were all unworthy of being in the presence of his almighty “perfection.” Yelling stop, never did seem to make any bit of a difference.
I don’t tell them of the day he left, the last day that I saw him. alive. still breathing. How he crouched to my level and said he wouldn’t be back again. How I felt embarrassed, because he said it cold, and my tiny heart was breaking. I leave out the bus ride home, pretending to sleep the whole way. Too afraid to ask why, no courage to ask him to stay. How I didn’t look back, or say goodbye, when I ran home, you know, to the one we all used to live in. How I waited, until she told me, because he made me promise I wouldn’t tell her.
I don’t tell them of that day, the pool of blood, pretending I didn’t know what it was. The open casket, the confusion, his being there, but somehow not, or his face, covered in makeup. Why was daddy wearing so much makeup?
I don’t tell them of the arguments, how they yelled my name and spoke of me, but never to me. The hiding beneath the counter, pretending it was all just a game. The lies they told, with the intention of “protecting,” I mean, aren’t all lies told with the purpose of protecting?
I don’t tell them of the music, oh God, the music, violently blaring, too frightened to ask her to turn it down, too confused to admit she was scaring me. I was supposed to lose no parents, and wound up losing both.
I don’t tell them of the moves, how one by one they left me, somewhere I’d never been, how they always left, and I always stayed, but I was always left alone with her. How she blamed them, but I blamed her, when she wouldn’t let them talk to me. The days and nights, and all the taking care of her, the threats to leave, and the times she almost did it. How Spike stayed, when they all left, and then I watched as he left too, and again, they left me all alone with her.
I don’t tell them of the nightmares. spilling water. It doesn’t stop and I can’t contain it, or clean it up. Why can’t I seem to clean it up? The self-hatred. disgust. spiders crawling, the wanting to peel my skin off. anxiety.
I don’t tell them of the lies she made me tell to protect her, or the lies I told myself to protect me. The trauma, the lack of sleep, the incompetence I felt, trying to keep up so that I wouldn’t have to explain why I didn’t know anything. They all seemed to know everything.
I don’t tell them of the homelessness, putting things back in the grocery line. I always seemed to fuck up adding the tax right. Why couldn’t I manage to add up the tax right? The embarrassment, or the guilt I felt for it.
I don’t tell them of the nights I was woken up to be taught a lesson. filling with rage. How everything seemed to always be my fault. That the accomplishments are because I’m too afraid to stop moving.
I don’t tell them of the truth, and so I’m telling you, and I don’t know how you’ll see me after. This truth that I don’t tell them, that I’m underwater, drowning, and I can’t tell up from down.
But, I told you, it’s time I make good on my promises. It’s time that I found where I left her. fear.
Tell me, are you following?
It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten where I put her. I find the door, the one where it all began. It’s labeled “illusion.” There she is, I see her, she’s in a cold dark room, alone. There, in that corner, hiding her face. I walk over and kneel beside her. I look down and see three year old me, crouching, with fear inside her.
"We must understand that sadness is an ocean, and sometimes we drown, while other days we are forced to swim." ~ R.M. Drake
The truth is, all I ever wanted was to feel safe, and safe feels like home, so I go looking for it, but then I remember — my home was a terrible place.
I don’t tell them, and so I’m telling you. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the door to escape is not the same as freedom.
You want truth, here it is. Sometimes I don’t know what’s good for me, and maybe that’s something we can all relate to, and maybe it’s not, and maybe that doesn’t matter. I know less and less these days. I haven’t been shown, ever or always, how to navigate life best, but I promise you, I’m trying my hardest to figure it out.
So here it is, the time has come for me to choose the door to freedom, and the truth is, I’d really like for you to stay.
Close your eyes, and feel my words. Will you walk with me?