Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Two weeks ago, someone asked me if I was "starting to get myself back." It is a hard question and not one I hear very often. I hear, "How is your job?" "Do you like it?" That's mostly what I hear. And I say, "Good" and "Yes" and people nod and say, "Good." A puddle deep interaction when I am a great well of feelings, of which "good" is not one. So when Lori asked, "Are you starting to feel more like Chloe again?" I realized that that was a feeling I knew, a feeling I could point to and identify. When my hair finally starts to grow long and healthy, after years of breaking and flat-out refusing to endure, that makes me feel like myself. When I look in the mirror and don't feel compelled to suck in my stomach or cry, that makes me feel like myself. When I write a poem that sticks, a paragraph that could live on its own, without me, when I buy car insurance, when I dance until 4:00 a.m., when I hold my best friend's shoulders and kiss their cheeks, when I don't run or hide, when I get closer, when I stare back, when I climb down my fire escape at 10:00 pm to investigate a mysterious clicking, when the record plays and when it skips, when the phone rings and when it doesn't, I feel like myself.

The notion of unshakeable selfhood is, ultimately, ludicrous. To think you cannot be swayed, moved, or changed may be true—but what an empty, un-filling meal. The sand that gets into our shoes, that pisses us off, and doesn't seem to fully vanish until months after the beach, sands down the bottoms of our feet. We're left with something more permeable, more feeling, more raw. When I used to think of myself, I thought of someone who was steadfast and unrelenting. I pictured a woman who was devoted to her convictions and her ideologies, to her dreams and her plans, to her whims. Unrelenting whims, a phrase to sum up my life, thus far. Now, when asked to describe myself, I see my face in the mirror, smirking back at me. We share a secret world, a third space, between my body and the universe, a place I share with no one. A place, a room, of one's own. This is what I got all those months ago, when my heart was broken and my sense of self seemed as stable as dandelion fluff. I now know, that the dandelion fluff is not something to hate or condemn or mistrust. In the fluff, I find the empathy, the whimsy, the moments where not enough and not full do not exist. In between the pink glitter and the bare face, I find that there is room for both kinds of existence, there is space for both ideations of self.

"The future you're capable of imagining is already a thing of the past. Who did you think you would grow up to become? You could never have dreamt yourself up. Sit down. Let me tell you everything that's happened. You can stop running now. You are alive in the woman who watches you vanish." Dani Shapiro, Hourglass

You are alive in the woman who watches you vanish.  I've watched her vanish over passing months—I helped her leave. She left me with her dreams and wishes, which she had stuffed into a box labeled, "I don't know what the fuck to do with this." It took some convincing to share. As her skin stretched into mine, it became beautiful, bright, porous. Together we soaked in salt, slept with Stella and passed control between each other's hands. It became increasingly clear that she did not want it any longer, that she was tired, and no longer felt like fighting me. Often she would disappear for weeks at a time, I would not look for her. I would forget her, until she came storming into a room, sobbing and asking to use my phone.

"'I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, and who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.'" Joan Didion,  "On Keeping a Notebook"

I do more than nod to her; oh, how I admire her. She was so unconditional, fighting against the undercurrents of reality, in order to love her love, to have her dream. She didn't win though, she lived a life we could not maintain or sustain, and so ultimately, I watch her vanish, piece by piece, day by day. I am left with her good graces and her best wishes, I am left to carry on the dirge of living.

To return to the original question—

Did I get myself back? No and Yes. Yes and No. I got something else, a third thing. A face that is both familiar and new. A heart that is both bruised and valiantly beating. A soul that unfurls to fill the spaces, that cracks in order to receive light. I got the notion that there is no one self, no one tale, no one love, no one ending, but instead, facets, loopholes, grey areas, dimly lit corners, and sun-spangled meadows. There were books and there were boys, and but there was always me. Me, my best and dearest friend, my newest and oldest love. The secret I had been keeping all along, from myself, I gifted, to myself.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

5 Stages

This morning I got a ticket for running a red light. Yes, the light was red, but it was yellow when I was in the intersection, and I think that should count for something. The cop told me to plead not guilty and to go to court and fight it, but I really just wanted to punch him in the face. I don't like cops. I feel that in a kind of universal way. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but when enough cops have been assholes to you, you start to feel a certain way. I would like to take the time now to personally single out the cop who pulled me out of a snowbank in my Madrigal dress on my seventeenth birthday after I hit another car and spun the fuck out. He was a good cop and he didn't give me a ticket.

But besides that, my run ins with cops have been less than delightful. In their defense, I have not shied away from illicit activities, I have met them warmly and openly and thoroughly enjoyed them. I have always maintained that there earthly rules and ethereal people, and I am certainly not down here on earth with the laws. I wanted to cry today, to make the cop feel bad for me, and to hope that he would take pity on me. But I couldn't, I wasn't sad, I was fucking pissed. This marks a transition. If there are truly 5 stages of grief, I have experienced them all out of whack.

In the beginning, there was denial, as it's supposed to be, but not how I envisioned it. When my relationship ended, I had a solid two month period of wildness. I drank a lot, I went on dates, I went to work hungover and cried my way through. I saved my sadness for the quiet moments before I fell asleep or in the shower. I numbed it with attention and affection and a blunt refusal to see that my actions were prolonging the part where I'd feel it. Eventually I recognized the ways in which I was self-medicating, the unnecessary male attention, the excessive drinking, the refusal to eat or to do yoga like I usually do. I wanted to be reckless, I wanted to be broken, and I wanted that to be romantic. And it was, for a while, but soon enough, I just wanted to be me again.

When the bargaining came, I didn't recognize it either. I had finally recognized that I was still in love, that I still wanted that love, and I didn't care at what expense it came. And so I fought with the universe, and my friends, and my family, I fought because I thought something righteous was slipping through the cracks, I thought I was losing my soulmate and that if I let this happen, I would regret it forever. I ignored everyone's advice, I ignored all of the signs, and I ignored my own intuition. I thought that if I could will what I wanted to be true, eventually it would be. I still believe that, in some ways, but I think you have to be willing something you truly want for yourself and not something you have grown accustomed to wanting. I did try to go back, I tried to believe that that truth could be valid. But eventually the begging and the pleading and the wondering and the hoping started to feel false. I started to realize that whatever I was fighting for was never going to love me back the way I needed or wanted or deserved. And so the words shared started to matter less and the actions started to become more and more glaring.

I saw myself in two dimensions, the person I was inside of the relationship and the person I became when it ended. When I went back, I could feel my new self looking around and thinking what in the fuck? And eventually, as time passed, more and more of me felt like her. At this point I feel a steady ebb and flow between anger, depression, and acceptance. While my mind and body have accepted that my life is new, different, changed now for the better, there are still flare ups of sadness, doubt, and anxiety. There are still moments of rage. On Sunday night, I drove home from Ohio and cried the entire way, I haven't cried like that lately, but something in me needed to mourn, something in me was grieving. And there are still times when it scares me, when I am afraid that I'll never fall in love again, when I am afraid that I have failed somehow.

But I read an old poem I had written the other day that said this, "I loved with the entire spool of thread I was given, and then I loved beyond that." And that's what happened, I gave all of the healthy love I had to give and then when that wasn't enough, I started digging parts of myself out and using them as collateral. I wasn't whole, I wasn't healthy, and perhaps the most important thing to realize, is that I wasn't happy. So I guess this is acceptance. This is the part where the soil is no longer too toxic to grow inside of, the part where you can't steal bits of my soul just by looking at me the wrong way. This is the part where I remain a whole person regardless of what anyone says or does, regardless of whether or not I get pulled over for running a red light, my self worth remains intact.