Tag: Late Night Writing

Salvation

I imagined my rescue in a man’s hands,

On a white horse,

Wings of some kind,

A golden ticket,

A serendipitous blessing–

somehow, salvation would find me.

It took a million wishes before I learned my life jacket was always in my own chest.

Nice to Meet You

I don’t do small talk,

the language of first impressions,

Our eyes unable to agree on a meeting place.

I reject staccato answers spaced in polite pauses.

Your story isn’t one I’m willing to dilute by chopping it into palatable pieces with digestible phrases.

Be brave enough to bear your truth to a total and undeserving stranger.

Stand in the wake of their reaction,

Say it without the practiced grin you don’t dare to deem a smile.

Don’t waste my time with small talk.

Tell me your art–

how you say both, “I love you” and “fuck you” to the universe–

that’s the only way I can get to know you.

Getting Over F*ck Boys in Grayscale

There’s a space between blissful crushing and being over him. It’s grey and kind of numb, but mostly sad. There’s a grieving. Not for him. No, thank god it wasn’t him! Thank god that it didn’t workout. It’s sad because my stomach misses the flips it did at the sight of him. Imaginary light bulbs once glowed when he grinned and now, they’re burnt out.

In these times, I contemplate striking a match against a burnt-out not-quite relationship. I hold it in my hands the way he never held them. I think about all the times he hurt me. How rarely he knew he was doing it, and how l, feigning the cool-ness I don’t have, never spoke up. I think about how it was more of a crash than a crush, and I ask myself– is he worth bleeding for?
He isn’t. If he puts you in the position of sacrifice, he is never worth it

 

In Two Pieces

I type this in two pieces– half of me wants to delete yesterday’s entry.  Admitting my suicidal thoughts and throwing that admission into cyberspace is terrifying.  To allow these words to exist validates them as a reality I steer through every day. But sometimes, all pain wants is for us to acknowledge that it exists and it’s allowed to take up space.  It’s allowed to breathe too.  I feel naked.  I worry about if my employer or a future employer reads this.  I worry about friends or family seeing this.

Before going further: please read this without alarms sounding off, without binding me in yellow caution tape. Suicide is serious.  It should be taken seriously, but I think that we can do that without jumping immediately to “GO SEE A THERAPIST”.  The jump signifies how uncomfortable we are hearing about depression and suicide– a societal cringe at the face of genuine discomfort.  We don’t want to hear it, and maybe this is why we lack the words to discuss depression and suicide.  What I can say is that the discomfort of hearing that your loved one is suicidal pales in comparison to the agony of living with a death wish.  It’s not so much about saying the right thing but daring to listen.

Like I said, I wasn’t sure if I should keep yesterday’s post up, let alone add to it.  But this is worth talking about.  Today is not a bad day.  Today is manageable, but depression is a hypersensitive condition, volatile and subject to change.  There’s not much to report, no updates.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  One of these days I’ll introduce myself further.  Today is not that day.  Today is Tuesday, and I’m here.

 

We Don’t Know How to Talk About Them

The words are tethered to my tongue, and somehow, unraveling them feels like a Herculean task.   Then, I came across a Buzzfeed article written in memory of Aletha Pinnow, who took her life at the age of 31.  Her sister, Eleni, authored a poignant and heartbreaking letter about her sister.  In the text, Pinnow admits, “It seems like the only reason depression and suicide are such pervasive problems is because we don’t know how to talk about them,”. I, with that, want to talk about it.  I’m done beating around the bush in moody poetry and euphemisms.  I want to call this exactly what it is, to name the shadows inside myself: I am suicidal.   With the limited vocabulary and hesitancy of what repercussions there will be for posting something like this, I don’t know how to beat these thoughts. They’ve plagued me for more than half of my young life.  But I do know how to write, and while society hasn’t dug deep enough to find term to frame depression and suicide, I’m going to try to find them.  I’m self-conscious about having my picture attached to this, about allowing my name to be tied to this. I’m worried about what people will think about this.  But part of the problem with depression and suicide is how nameless it is.  We share our stories in past-tense, never acknowledging that silence becomes self-mutilation.  For as much as it terrifies me that this letter’s digital footprints will follow my future, I want to live more than I am afraid.

Like I said earlier, I’ve been suicidal before. I’ve crawled out of this before.  But every time depression claws its way back to me, it feels unfathomable to outrun it.  Depression makes a grain of sand into a ton of concrete—with me beneath it.  Sunday nights are the worst.  Almost every Sunday, my brain fades to gray, and the only pulse I feel surges, “End it. Just end it”.  I make myself a promise, “Just make it until Friday, and then you can end it”.  I think about the clean up—about an after that doesn’t include me and all the rubble you can’t see but someone else would have to move.  Were I to end my life, I want the transition for everyone to be as smooth as possible.  Life will go on whether I am alive or not.  It goes on.  It always does.

I am inconsequential. This is a fact in numbers: there are 7 billion people on the planet.  The loss of one nameless girl who apologizes for things that aren’t her fault will go largely unnoticed.  I live in a city where I have no support network and know few people.  For instance, I’ve been writing this at my desk at work and no one has noticed. My life is in cities I no longer call home.   I’m not the first name on anyone’s tongue.  The only way I know love is through a secondary language, the second part of a compound sentence.  I feign gratitude for table scraps of affection. I want to be grateful for being loved at all, but the shrinking fighter in my head reminds me that I deserve to be loved without a parenthesis, that I do not have to settle for scraps that will leave me little more than starving.

My head plays musical chairs between my depression and coaching myself through it. Frankly, I’ve had some pretty scarring experiences in counseling, and sometimes, that withering warrior in my head is better than all the “professionals” who I’ve seen.  I tell myself that mattering cannot be quantified.  I remind myself that when I was in high school, a classmate took her own life.  I’ve never forgotten her name, and we never met.  I’m addicted to inspirational quotes, to writing sincere cards and letters and text to those in my life who I love.  I put out into the world all the things I hope to get myself, in the hope that (at the very least) maybe someone else won’t hurt like I am. To a small community of people, I am an example.  What does it say to them if this is how I chose to leave?  How can I express such love and affection to them and abandon them? This is the main reason I say alive.  I do not want to be a cautionary tale told in someone else’s words.  I don’t want to be an excuse or colored by all the things I couldn’t mend together.

My reflexes urge me to end this entry on a hopeful note, on something that will make another’s eyes comfortable. I tend to do that—wrap agony in a bow so its delivery is soft and comfortable to other people.  Hope is scarce.  I feel like a have a golf ball lodged in my throat all the time and a dagger in my chest every day.  What I wouldn’t give to not feel broken. What I wouldn’t give to feel belonging—to actually belong.  I’m homesick for all the women I’ve been before.  Homesick for all the selves who survived.  I know they are still with me, but it’s hard.   “Marisa, see a counselor”  “Marisa, please go get help”.  I know therapy is about fit.  I know it is a process.  That process has been a painful one for me, one with condescending and violating people under the title of “professional”.  “Marisa, please try anyway”.  I’m trying.  I am.  The fact that I am breathing, here, performing to every expectation like nothing is wrong is evidence of my efforts.  So good at smiling that (if I never mention it) you won’t notice the tsunamis inside me.

On Mortality and Living Fully

I think about mortality through the lens of the T.S. Eliot poem “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”. The sense of regret, tangible loneliness mixed in with a symphony of words that softens the blow of a hollow life struck me at seventeen when I first read it. Perhaps it was the notion that we believe we have infinite time to mold with what we will, but we don’t. We move in perishable vessels, and that fabled future is something you realize today (even if it isn’t in the fashion originally dreamed) or don’t.
I’m twenty-one. The first time I recognized mortality, I was six. My maternal grandmother passed away almost a year before that. But a year later came grandparent’s breakfast in the first grade. In the flurry of greying figures ushered by their tiny legacies, they marveled at our cubbies and poorly drawn art projects. It was then I knew no one would be that for me. It was then I knew that life ends and you develop relationships with memories.
I realized the fragility of my body in between twelve and thirteen. Purging was a daily ritual I practiced starting in the third grade. It hadn’t sunk its teeth into me until the onset of puberty. The miles my feet circled for track and twirls and turns landed in my legs took a toll on my hips. September of eighth grade—after one previous stint in the physical therapist’s office—I began to limp. My uneven gate did not deter me. No, I ran more. Harder and faster, more frequent became my work outs. My eating disorder matched the pace of my exercise. Then, at the end of September, I couldn’t walk. My hips gave way to the war I declared on myself so long ago. My body surrendered. I felt helpless and weak, confided to the ragdoll frame I created. The benefit of youth is the resiliency. My body bears almost no signs of the utter devastation I inflicted on it a decade ago. Physical resilience is a privilege of youth, and enables us to believe that our bodies can come back from anything. They can’t always revive themselves, though.
For this brief moment, I’m still one of those few lucky people who never witnessed someone die slowly. Yes, my father has precancerous skin cells all over his face, and I wince when he walks through the door after a dermatologist appointment with bandages wrapped like cotton flesh. My uncle, the man who raised my mother, died of AIDS amidst the peak of the AIDS the peak of the epidemic sweeping New York in the 1980s-1990s. My maternal grandfather died of lung cancer roughly 3-4 years before his son passed from AIDS. I have a little brother, Matthew. He is buried outside of Washington, DC, where we were living at the time. Early in the pregnancy, my mother was told Matthew had anancephaly, a failure to develop the cranium and in some extreme cases (my brother was one of them), closure to the spine as well. Babies affected by anacephaly are born blind, deaf, unable to feel pain; 50% do not survive the pregnancy; and 99% of babies affected by anancephaly do not survive the first ten days outside the womb. My mother made the choice not to abort Matthew. He did not survive the pregnancy, and on June 14, 1995 (sixteen days after my second birthday), he met this world in a stillborn body. The years that followed ushered in a steady stream of funerals and miscarried siblings. I mention this for temporality’s sake. Because mortality has always been a reality, but as an adult concept with emotional dimensions, I have been spared for now.
Living fully, for me, starts with my values. Living fully is disabusing myself of the “shoulds” or “when I get this/that then…”. It’s about assessing my needs and understanding each day as an organism. Some days are spent zip lining and giving speeches, others in bed with Netflix. One isn’t better than the other as long as the address my needs in that moment. It’s giving myself permission to exhale.
I’ve stopped visualizing my life, and starting sensing it, feeling it. A life that is ripe and full and vibrant means sucking sometimes.  It’s riddled with mistakes and apologies and mending in ways that make me stronger than before. It involves saying that I’m wrong, and hanging onto something when it feels right. Most importantly, I want a life of courage, something wholehearted. Bravery is first on my VIA assessment because I actively seek the uncomfortable, the uncharted, the places unfamiliar to definition or challenge. For me, that’s essential in a pursuit of my future. I’m completely an utterly disinterested in complacency. Nothing about surface satisfies me. I want depth and variety and understanding that these things can be draining as well. But always authentic, always courageous. As long as I have these things, I will be fed.
The larger piece of living wholly is understood in the purpose of my life is what I can give and do for others. Like I said in my first entry, connection is key.  Brene Brown describes this as a fear of being ordinary, and that in celebrating the privilege of even touching the ordinary, narcissism fades away. Texts asking how someone’s day is going; lending a hand; making a friend; being a mentor – seemingly ordinary things build a purpose and connection to the world around us. Everyday this semester, I have tried to reach out to one person, letting him or her know how deeply I care for them and how proud of this person I am.
For now, for this moment still in the carefree splendor and recklessness of my early twenties, I’m not Prufrock. Life still feels unmarked and uninhibited. Honoring my life today and living fully bears no weight from fabrication. It’s whole and honest. It’s saying things difficult to articulate and harder to deliver. It’s reintroducing yourself to yourself over and over again, sometimes being surprised and sometimes disappointed by the encounter. It’s abandoning conclusions of past generations to find your own questions and feeding curiosity. Living fully is understanding that the thrill of standing atop Arthur’s Seat two years ago with the quilt of Edinburgh sprawled before me does not compete with that one time this semester I skipped my 8 am because I needed to sleep and it felt so damn good. They don’t compete because each is necessary in this shambled patchwork of personhood I’m sewing. I’m not the best seamstress, but the thread is in my hands for as long as I have to hold it.

Texting is for the Loveless

In a generation that spells love in emojis,

I wanna know your middle name,

The most embarrassing movie that makes you cry,

Where the first loss you ever grieved left its shadow,

And feel the constellation of freckles on your back.

I want you to know your spine can return from iron to bone,

That I will mend it if it breaks,

Will weld my shattered pieces to yours to realize they were never damaged,

Just anticipating a shape to welcome yours.

I wanna tell you this in writing or verse.

It seems cheap to do it any other way.

I hope you learn that I am no dream girl,

Am not an anatomy of metaphors.

My body narrates in bruises, scars, in its hues and variance.

I am not a fantasy.

I am flesh and feeling

and whole.

I don’t want to text you this,

Instead implore you to explore my landscape firsthand.

Texting is for the loveless,

Compresses a heart into a screen,

When the cardiovascular system was always designed vast and rhythmic.

Romance via-text lacks all sustenance,

Just enough to remind us that we are affection starved.

But this,

This is a feast,

Unmeant to be devoured in apathy.

So, please do not toss me a series of bootleg hieroglyphics.

I am not a translator for loveless leftovers.

It doesn’t have to be every time,

Nor all the time.

But,

If you love me,

Tell me.

In your ripe plum baritone,

Your eyes, my focal point in every crowd,

if you mean it,

tell me you love me.