Don't Be Afraid

I've been thinking about this blog post for months. Months? Is that true?

At one point it was called, "On the real." Then I changed it to, "The Truth." 

I wanted to write about how lately, I've been a little uncomfortable with only showing the good stuff. 

This came up a few times in conversation with friends after my breakup in February. How the shock of my ex and I splitting was not just mine, but shared. You always looked so happy, everyone said. 

And this came up after a day when I was alone and lonely and afraid, even though I had fallen for another woman I thought was the one. A woman who loved me, simply and wholly. I think.

I was alone on a Saturday morning sobbing uncontrollably. No, not uncontrollably. Just sobbing. She had left the night before, annoyed with me, and I had slammed my front door in frustration. I yelled. I felt like the world was falling apart. She just wanted to go to sleep after a long week. Didn't want to talk. I did. I didn't say it.

I called a few friends who have been my life lines this year. Because this year, I've needed a lot of help. It's been hard to tell when something small, a small fight between my lover and I, was really something small or something actually pointing me toward myself. Hard to tell if I was crying over the moment, over her, or out of a fear of abandonment after my long-ex ripped our life to shreds in mere hours. Or, if I was crying because something in my body was trying to speak that I wasn't yet ready to hear, or if I was crying because I was sad, still. Simply sad. 

This unknowing tainted many of my days after I had to leave New Mexico and my lover of almost 8 years. I spent 3 months walking around this city in heartbreak, in reckoning, in obsessive thoughts. In tears, in pain. And then I set myself free. Well, someone told me she was married and I took a deep breath, cut her off completely, and forced myself to be free, to see through my own glossy eyes. I started to write again. I began to let go. I wrote lists about what I wanted, how I wanted to live, how I wanted to show up for another. Lists about the kind of person I wanted to be with so I didn't just fall for the next person to pay attention to me. (My long-ex was the first person in years who looked at me, and I was so hungry I didn't even think is she right for me? I just took her in. I fell for her like leaves.) So I wrote. I defined. I spoke to the moon. I was a spell. 

This time it had to be me who decided. And I didn't think it would happen so quickly, but it did. And I believe in this power. I have to. It brought me to the next love. And we always get exactly what we need, right?  

I burned photos of the long-ex in the bathtub. Burnt sage and palo santo. Put what I wanted from my life in the window under the full moon. Asked myself for the life I wanted. Then I went out looking for it. I was an animal. I was hungry. My body was awake. I wanted. Oh, I wanted.  

And if you want something bad enough, you'll manifest it. That's the spirit of incantation. Of desire. The problem with desire is that one must feel a lack. And once you have, the desire wanes.

There she was. The next woman with all the things. And she filled me. And I took her. She took me, too. It was intense and desperate and a kind of magic, even though it was too much, too fast, too soon, too full of high expectations. 

I wanted everything. I wanted to feel like everything after being told I was nothing. I wanted to wake up in another before I had fully come back to myself.

I'm speaking in past tense because a few months later, it's over and it's painful. And now I have am covered in a year of heartbreak. It all bleeds together. When I was young, I cut my skin. Now, I am a river. And I'm looking back at the pain I've been carrying, the desire. The goddamn hunger that has been my life's weight, my life's work. What brings me to language and metaphor and poetry when nothing else matters but the human heart and all we thrust toward. 

Maybe I was trying too hard. Maybe it doesn't matter. 

I still don't know which pain was for which moment, which lover, which argument or silence. 

I don't want to keep talking about the long-ex and the better-ex. 

I can blame and analyze and try to make sense and excuse and apologize and shame myself because all I've been doing for months is this. Thinking I need to fix myself and quiet the self and unleash the self but the truth is simple: I am just fine. I love. I love the woman I left even though she ripped my life out from under me in a day and I love the woman here in Denver who fought with me and spun me up in a way that made me feel like a teenager waking up to her first sex. The truth is I've been forcing myself into spaces and places and people that are not mine. Why? Because here I am, a woman who knows so much and at the same time, knows so little. Who am I? What do I want? How do I love? Who should I love and let in?  

My body is a mountain of want, a river of desire, a flooding of passion and yearning and connection and sensuality. I may contradict and ask questions over and over, but if I don't say it now I never will: I have never done a thing I didn't want to do. Maybe this is the problem in learning that you also give yourself too freely, that something about the way you were born and raised made you codependent, made you so easily able to put yourself to the side to be with and give to another--that I actually do these things AND I know that I have never given myself away for nothing. Yes, this. I have been trying to fix what isn't broken. What happens if I simply accept that I love how I love? That I have made no mistakes. That even in my wavering and waffling I have been more me than ever? I have loved better than ever? And I deserve to be loved the way I want. We all do.

And this is holy. Desire is holy. Bodies are holy. Mistakes are holy. Attachment as it unravels is holy. My tears and sobs and prayers on my floor with my wet face to the dog hair and dirt are holy. 

That we can't help but only show off what is good, what we want others to see, is holy. 

That I want to resist the need to overshare all the beauty from here, too, is holy. 

I want you to see my pain. I want you to see my sadness. My too-muchness. My insataible hunger for more. I want to be met here. Meet me here, won't you? 

Maybe I'm turning away from what won't meet me here. Maybe I push and prod at the boundary when the boundary is not mine because I need the other person to tell me to go. Maybe I'm learning how to say no. 

Maybe all of this is true and I still don't want to let go. I still want to love. I still want the connection, the body in my bed, the beautiful, messy sometimes infuriating other lover in front of me.

Here is my vow to not be ashamed of myself and what I want anymore. My vow to conjure come to me, and I will receive you. Don't come, and I may still want you. Soon, I'll learn how to say yes to what sees me as whole.

I'll want the women of my life forever, and I will be both blue and full of light simultaneously and it does not for one single second take away from my big giant heart, my body that is strong and changing, my soul like a river, my Self, becoming. 

Recently I wrote, "don't be afraid to tell the truth about your life" on a student draft.

This, as I've been walking around hiding some of my truth every day. I'm a beautiful mess who was loved anyway. Who is loved. Who loves so fucking hard. Who tries to love with my whole self and often fails. I've been a dark mess searching for the light. I've been reaching but it wasn't wrong. I have work to do. But that work is mine.

It's true that I sometimes burden others with my story. I can own this and let it shift. I want to be story. I want your story. Let's lay our burdens on the table and see them, dance on them, share them, but not ingest and carry them anymore--not our own and not each other's.

But please, let us lay our lives in the light without shame.

My friends have been telling me all week to let go. Boundaries are hard. I don't trust them in myself. I never have. It's how I was raised and I was raised in so many beautiful, strong, powerful ways and I was also raised to distrust myself, to ignore boundary and push boundary and not even know what the word means. One friend said, "if you don't go toward yourself now, with all your love, you never will." 

I will tell the whole story as I live it, more honestly.

All the photos of the sun poking through the trees

and the dog running with me, mouth open, tongue draped around the orange ball between his teeth

and the woman I fell in love with so fast this summer smiling at me on a good day

after a weekend walking on red dirt between enormous arches and goblin dirt creatures

as the sun rose across an entire desert canyon of this earth's wanting, our bodies together entwined

hands on each other's hearts faces calm eyes bright and blue and green a love growing then gone

right beside the many moments of my grief like a pill stuck in my throat

my unclear heart pushing it all away

or my clear gut saying this isn't for you

my anxiety circling me around the room wanting to punch walls because focus is hard

because something in me can't quite let go of a voice that says, you can't do anything right so why try

my long walks with Pablo convincing myself I can show up even though sometimes I feel like I've failed at every single thing I've tried, yelling out loud to no one like a woman who should be strapped to a table

in a city that doesn't seem to mind no matter how many times I circle the block in tears

And then, here I am.

I am here when I accept the months of tears and sex and joy and pain.

I am here when I show up to teach even though I still think I'm unprepared but I am so wholly prepared and I love my students with my entire goddamn giant heart and we write and talk about images and the mass shooting in Las Vegas and how to show up and breathe trust language and story even when we don't believe breath or story or words are even things we own anymore.

I am here when the mantras work, when the sayings on my mirror and notecards are not affirmations, but poems. When my body settles, when I go to the poetry reading or sit down to write amongst a community of strangers. When I participate in a community talk about Citizen by Claudia Rankine and am led through a hybrid image/text writing prompt. I am here when I step outside and take a photo of the blue sky with the bright yellow sunset between two city buildings and then write. I write raw and with heart and gumption and an energy shows up in me that I haven't ever felt. It means almost nothing. Or, it means everything. 

 

Suddenly, the sky is a blue I can digest. Three wooden poles stark against it, electricity embodied and defined as three sisters, three shadows, three elements of what we create, speak through, and share. Bodies of connection against a blue like a reckoning, a blue like there is sunlight at its core, and there is—look, the base of us is opening. The space between those buildings, one industrial and one for living, that is the space where sunlit hope sets, where blue takes over, as it will, again and again. See how this was never about anyone or anything else? See how what stands stark and dividing is actually what makes us? See those dark and blackened windows–how they are nothing more than dark and blackened windows? A nothing that is everything that is drenched and held by blue, held by the sun setting, held by what breaks us in two? I see you, and by you I mean me and by me I mean I am and always have been as blue as blue can be and in this moment all I can say is thank you sky, thank you sky that witnesses all of us standing here mouths gaping open, hands on our throats fingers in our mouths fists between our legs and what, exactly, is a witness but someone who stands by and takes a photo of what presses toward us against us chafes the shadows lets us see the shadows? Let this blue held by light failing light falling held by the space between the buildings, the cleft of us the slit between the lips, let it tell us to stop witnessing and move toward the discomfort, the shaded windows, the bodies hungry on their couches in these chairs waiting for an answer that will not come because we have broken everything. We have broken everything. And to be broken is to be open and to be open is to let all the blue all the bluedark light pour through you.

Suddenly, the sky is a blue I can digest.

Three wooden poles stark against it, electricity

embodied and defined as three sisters, three shadows,

three elements of what we create, speak through, and share.

Bodies of connection against a blue like a reckoning, a blue

like there is sunlight at its core, and there is—look, the base of us is opening.

The space between those buildings, one industrial and one for living,

that is the space where sunlit hope sets, where blue takes over, as it will,

again and again. See how this was never about anyone or anything else?

See how what stands stark and dividing is actually what makes us?

See those dark and blackened windows–how they are nothing more than dark

and blackened windows? A nothing that is everything that is drenched and held

by blue, held by the sun setting, held by what breaks us in two? I see you, and by you

I mean me and by me I mean I am and always have been as blue as blue can be

and in this moment all I can say is thank you sky, thank you sky that witnesses all of us

standing here mouths gaping open, hands on our throats fingers in our mouths fists between

our legs and what, exactly, is a witness but someone who stands by and takes a photo

of what presses toward us against us chafes the shadows lets us see the shadows?

Let this blue held by light failing light falling held by the space between the buildings,

the cleft of us the slit between the lips, let it tell us to stop witnessing and move toward

the discomfort, the shaded windows, the bodies hungry on their couches

in these chairs waiting for an answer that will not come

because we have broken everything. We have broken everything. And to be broken

is to be open and to be open is to let all the blue all the bluedark light pour through you.

The truth is sometimes I'm overwhelmed. But I'm not as overwhelmed as I once thought. I'm calm and grounded, more than I've ever been. I cry a lot, and am nervous, and perhaps let myself love too soon because I was uncomfortable and unsure and I grasped a little too hard, but I also let go and I loved. I fucking loved. I was just me, showing up. I believed in her, in all the hers, in all the loves. I believe in myself, in all my love. What I mean is there's more to tell, more to show, more to offer. What I mean is the stories of our lives matter. And sometimes they're just the dirt under our feet as we look at the sky, the arches where the sun peaks through, the complimentary colors of us, the yellows and the blues. 

Don't be afraid to tell the truth.