We inherit the way we perceive our bodies. We chose to raise the next generation that way.
I wanna get better– not just seem better.
I’m 25, and I still ask for permission to live my life.
This is not a love story. Well… it is, just not in the way you think or I thought in 2014.
The perimeter of my life is all white picket fences and no caution tape. Smiling faces abound at my alabaster skin. I navigate through malls and museums entirely unsurveyed. No … Continue reading Marisa R. McGrath: Problematic White Woman
Yep, I am 25 years old, and I’ve never been in a relationship. I knew I was romantically doomed in the first grade when my first crush, a boy named … Continue reading 25 Years of Being Single
Our relationship to pain– how we react and respond to it– changes everything.
This idea ruminated in my mind from the moment I saw it. My thoughts latched onto this because I don’t have a healthy relationship to pain. I avoid it at all costs until I come into contact with it. Once agony and I collide, I can’t let go. My stubborn perseverance encourages me that there’s some prize for enduring the most pain. It’s a fool’s prize– the one given to marginalized people as an incentive for their silence.
But pain is a cat burglar. Denying it entry only motivates it to break a window, infiltrate a vent, wind itself inside a hiding place just long enough to jump out and scare you when you’ve convinced yourself pain is long gone.
What if I were open to aching? What if I acknowledged the thief as it entered? These aren’t solutions. Then again, these days, I’m no longer in search of the answers. I just want to ask better questions. We weld questions so complicated that the simplest answers become out of reach.
For now, all I can do is become a doorway and witness to my own discomfort. I seize my right to arrest my pain by acknowledging and addressing it. I’ve spent too long being a bystander in my own suffering.
Hunger exists for a purpose. It enforces the basic need to be fed. Hunger, as an alarm, exists for survival. Emotional hunger pangs howl so loudly, I forget to hear mine sometimes. So used to the shrill decibel that it barely registers as starvation. I am afraid of my emotional hunger to connect. I am afraid of not being wanted or belonging and the shame it’s all ensnared in. The following is my acceptance of my emotional hunger, and acceptance of those who cannot nourish me.
I’m so embarrassed– perhaps even a little mortified– at how desperately I’ve wanted people. Whether it was my dad, my extended family, a community of peers, a boyfriend– my insatiable craving for belonging and connection has drained me to emaciation. I rehearse deep conversations with people who will never participate or reciprocate. I wait these moments like a child hopes for Christmas morning, only it’s the dead of August. There’s nothing wrong with August. But it’s not Dec 25th.
Recently, I had a conversation with a gentleman much older than I am. Our words spanned the whole universe, but something he said to me stuck out. I bemoaned how some people don’t get me. They like me. They respond to my warm smile. But where I hope to find light, it’s hollow. I know their light is there. It’s just in a hiding place. The man, we’ll call him C looked at me and said, “Dear, they don’t see all of you. You’re too big for them. You’re too much. You can fill this whole stadium, and they can’t see all of that”. All the bells rang in my head. People have told me this like this before. How many times have I beat my head against brick walls to make myself small enough for someone to see what they like? This was the first time I was willing to hear it and let it stick
If you’ve scanned this page, you feel my craving for connection, how it douses everything I write and speak. If you could see me, you’d recognize my capacity for connection before you’d recognize that my eyes are green. Not everyone holds such strong adhesive properties. Not everyone is a series of lose threads to be tied to innumerable people and places. This embarrasses me. It is always exposure to be so sensitive. I am forever playing a game of chicken I will never win. Because not everyone wants to go through life like this, and I can no longer hold that against them. Because I can’t allow another person’s inability to remain raw to rub off on me. I know how deeply I would regret being anything else but water in a world if black mirrors.
I’ve spent much of my young life muting myself. Hoarding internet tips and misguided lessons, I associated strategy with security. Being wanted is an intoxication, but belonging is fulfillment. I used to believe that I would make someone want me, and then open everything up. Coy and calculated, the overture, but no one stayed for the main act. I preserved myself for the buyer who never came. Despite my feminist rhetoric, I behaved the way women “ought to be” so I would never be the reason for my un-wanting. This process was emotional self-abuse. I learned that emotional violence couldn’t be my homeostasis, that it wasn’t sustainable to define myself by how many hopes I could ignore.
“What have you got to lose?” Heartsick and lonely, I mustered the courage to muse. Quit collecting grains of sand when you want a foundation of concrete, Marisa! I am homesick for community, connection, love, and affection. So let it hurt, and call the pan what it is. Let my hands remind me that they can grasp something other than air. Let your soul lead you out of shame and into all the reasons you’re here and to all the things you’re entitled to feel.
This admission comes with the acceptance that not everyone is capable of linking so intensely. For some people, I am more Polaroid than person. I had to be flattened to be visible– for them to recognize me as anything at all. The image is inaccurate. I am an open heart with fangs, more force of nature than woman. But you gotta open the doors and windows to feel the elements, and most would rather stay shut and enjoy the AC. I am not a reflection of those who cannot love me, even less so of people who don’t get me.
Have you ever had someone who didn’t understand you make you something? I have. I held misunderstanding in my hands. It was the tangible idea of me– big, ostentatious, glamorous, a frenzy of electrons unable to be configured into a recognizable element. She couldn’t see me. And that’s ok.
Connection feels like a game of bumper cars sometimes. I crash into people who drive away and quell my disappointment. I hit wall after wall and debate shrinking back into strategy. I get whiplash and exhausted. But, my heart assures me I’ll fit, and it won’t feel forced. And I will thank every wall and escaped car for not letting me in. When I fit, even if it’s in the dustiest of corners, I’ll know.
I am devoted to connection. My ability to recognize the light in others, and have them see my brightness, both naked and raw, is the only religion I can practice. Every time I am vulnerable, it is a pilgrimage. Every time I open, it’s a prayer. Some go unanswered. This makes every connection is a miracle. Every thank you, a hallelujah, every I love you, an Amen. I was born of Joan of Arc’s feast day, and ever since, I have wondered what I would be a martyr for. This is it. This is the stake I tie myself to. But if I go up in flames, I hope then, all of me is seen and felt and ablaze.
Forgiveness is a verb
done at a high resistance.
Do you want to feel full?
Quit consuming excuses as sustenance.