Grief, Adjacent To

It's time to move forward. It's time to stop talking about myself.

No, wait. I am moving forward. And what I mean is it's time to talk/write/express myself AND engage with this world. 

In part, I've been writing here to help me express my pain and loss because she is gone from my life and wants no part of me. Well, she doesn't want the whole me. She wants easy, fake-happy conversations about the dogs, and for me to assure her that I'm okay, that what she did was right, that I forgive her. 

In order to live with a big giant broken heart and still love the world, I am okay. I do forgive her. What she did was right not because it was the best way to break us up but simply because it happened. And I need a semi-public space to remind myself how to show up and take up space and share it all because that's what I want for the world: more humans sharing their stories while we all listen and nod, love ourselves and each other anyway. Where we don't turn away from the personal heartbreak or the terror in the streets. We show up. Despite.

But I am never all-okay. I am never fake-happy. I am never going to be content walking and playing with the dogs in the woods and saying nothing about the big stuff, pretending 45 didn't just bomb Syria, pretending human life isn't about pain and depth and sometimes-good, sometimes-horrible seasons. I will not stop talking about the news, or railing about injustice, or thinking about language, bodies, and art in a way that confuses me, makes some days heavy, and others lifted, sparkly, and connected. I want the whole package. I do want to play in the woods with the dogs and  enjoy quiet, simple moments. But I also want to feel pain, to understand and engage with people, show up as a whole self who is constantly thinking about everything. So yes, I'll keep sharing the truth of my own life here, and maybe she'll read it so she'll know I forgive her and accept what happened, but I will never tell her what she did was okay. All the unhappiness she hid from me and lied about, and all her silence she tried to break me with in the end. I'll never pretend that I'm living this life to be simply happy and blind, or that I won't carry her in my bones my pelvis my chest and lips every day. I refuse to let go in a way that denies my body its feelings and expressions. I can let go in a way that also accepts what is held. That is my truth and I will keep sharing it. 

I will keep sharing it because last night two people reached out to me after seeing some of my posts on social media. This has happened more than once after I shared something raw in a public, unapologetic way (that of course is also terrifying.) One, I only know as a poet that I friended on Facebook. Another was a woman we hung out with a few times on the Eastern Shore with mutual friends years ago. We aren't super close. We drank and partied and talked a few times, but we barely know each other. Both had been following my raw sharing journey, and reached out to say thank you. In the conversations that followed, I learned about their current heartbreaks and hard lessons, their worries and fears and doubts and also their persistence. And I learned this because I told the truth about my life, my pain, my own ugliness and discomfort that sits right beside my joy and passion and desire for living a life that is full.

I was lifted, they were lifted, and I was reminded of who I was starting to become before T, and again before we moved: a person who believes in people. Someone who knows there is something to be said for sharing our real shit. A woman who sometimes unabashedly shares the raw details of her life, even when people want to fix me or give unsolicited advice for how to quickly move on, or how to more deeply give myself time and patience, or how to go out and meet someone who will love me and touch me and respect me. All of it is good advice, but I don't share because I need to cry out for help, and I don't share to say look at me, though in a way, it is about being seen. It's because what the fuck else are we supposed to do? Hurt people who don't process their hurt walk through this world pretending everything is fine and then they hurt people, and usually they hurt those they love the most. And if we don't process and share and feel and connect through our stories of hurt, the cycle will go on. I'm okay that I've been hurt. It's my story and it sucks the life out of me some days, but I'm fine with it. I know I'm strong and whole and enough and I know I'm deeply committed to learning from this. And I also know that sometimes we can't help the hurt we cause, but we certainly can keep the more fucked up hurt at bay by witnessing our own pain, and by showing up for others in a real way. 

I won't ever hurt someone the way I've been hurt. I know that. Because revenge, like war, is a lazy form of grief. 

So, my process and my story are still important. In connecting with strangers through this grief, I've relearned the core of my aesthetic nature, my heart's goal on this planet: to stop hiding and running away from the pain. I want to share the discomfort. I want to share the story of my life down to the heartbreak, the sexless relationship, the hungry heart who stayed with someone who was never really there for me the way I needed. And I want to go back and share the rest of my history and grit, the cutting and bingeing and purging, the family in all our disastrous, wild Appalachian glory, the young treks in the woods with my brother and how I treated him, the alcohol and drugs and failures and blacked-out sex and dangerous drives home and puking in the woods and convincing and lying and stealing and hiding and fear and anger and also the joy and loss and love and the way two women can make something like love from the curves of their bodies last longer than the flame. 


There is a burning, flailing world I want to get back to. I know I am a teacher. I know I can lead young queer writers into their own truths. I know I can stay abreast of this growing war and our politics and I know I can speak up. I can refuse to collapse into my own pain much longer and become again an active agent in this world. A global citizen. I want to show up for those who are marginalized and afraid, for those who need help. I want to encourage others to keep making art even as the bombs drop because art is about documenting truth AND beauty. It is resistance. Art is life and life is shifting, people are dying, so we must keep creating before it's all taken away from us. Agency is art. Movement is power. We must keep moving forward. We must witness the brutality of a chemical attack adjacent to the spring snow covering the cherry blossoms. We must give ourselves time and we must take back our time. 

I was in love with someone who I'm only now realizing was never right for me. I would have loved her until we were old and gray. It would have been beautiful, in its own way. I grieve that love because it is gone. Because I had no say. Because it is a dream lingering in my mind all day. It is a flash of her face as she turned over in bed every night, rejecting me again and again with her easy sleep, the memory reminding me that I was never loved wholly, fully, the way I needed to be loved. The way I need to be in love. 

And this sits adjacent this day of bombs over Syria, of the babies and adults I saw gasping for air in a live news feed, of the man holding his dead twin toddlers in his arms unable to cry. Some things are more important than lost love. We move on because our grief is collective and our shared humanity demands we feel it all. Shared humanity demands we forgive ourselves for the selfishness of love and desire, of needing to hide in our pain for a little while, all so we can show up again with more gumption, more grit, more NO.

NO, I won't take that kind of love back into my life AND NO, we won't take this kind of war again. NO, we won't let civilians die and NO, we won't let our cowardly leaders close our borders to those who need us most. We won't just bow our heads and let the pain of this world close us off. I won't be with someone who can't communicate, who doesn't like people, who thinks the worst of this world. And we won't let the worst of this world close us off, OH NO, because our vulnerability is what hurts the most AND what makes us better. 

Make me better; make us better. Grieve the personal; grieve the political. They are side-by-side. They are one and the same.