Things got very dark for me in the six months since I returned from living abroad.
I’m coming out the other side now.
I read back through the poems/pieces I wrote back then, and I feel like I’ve put some distance between how I was then, and how I feel now.
I’m healing. Slowly. But slow progress is still progress.
And I don’t want to delete those poems either. Because my feelings were valid at the time. And still are valid now.
But I’m doing better.
Touch wood. Because I still have OCD, don’t I?
(And for any of you wondering, love exists after heart break. And it’s even sweeter for it.)
The final few rays of a dwindling winter sun
The crest of a wave before it rushes up to meet the sand
The embers of a dying bonfire
And an outstretched hand.
A tree clinging onto the last few leaves of autumn
Breath catching in your throat
A question mark lingering in the conversation
Lying back in the Mediterranean sea, drifting and afloat.
The pips of voicemail as a phone call goes ignored
The red wine stains on the rim of your glass
Three dots, typing
A reply that isn’t coming back.
Turned down pages of a book of old poetry
The first few drops of rain before a storm
The hovering second hand of a clock as it just passes midnight
A half drunk cup of coffee, gone luke-warm.
An imperfect cadence
And a chance not taken
The imperceptible sound
Of another heart breaking.
I hope this heartbreak has taught you nothing.
I hope, the next time you love, you love with all the reckless abandon that you did almost 4 years ago now.
I hope it doesn’t harden you.
I hope you remain soft, and open.
May your heart remain supple.
I hope it doesn’t diminish your capacity to trust another person with your dearest secrets and darkest memories.
I hope the old clichés don’t play out – once bitten, twice shy.
I hope you remain bold in the face of love.
And still grab it with both hands, fiercely.
I hope you have learnt how to love someone deeply, and to accept a sincere love in return.
I hope you have learnt love is worth putting everything you have on the line for.
I hope you allow yourself to be loved again, even at the risk of it all not paying off again.
Because time spent wholeheartedly loving someone is time well spent, and not to be regretted.
I hope this heartbreak has taught you nothing at all.
No one saves you.
Not a boyfriend, or partner, or friend, or family member.
Sure, they can help. Make you feel better for a short while.
But they don’t fix you.
No amount of love from someone else will amount to anything if you still hate yourself.
I’m not saying we all need to love ourselves.
It’s too much to ask.
But just being neutral would be nice.
Not hating ourselves for other people’s misdemeanors, and forgiving ourselves for our own.
Otherwise we’re searching constantly for someone else to say;
“YES! You are good enough!”
“YES! You have value!”
“YES! You are loved!”
But it doesn’t always go like that.
People let you down.
Sometimes people just don’t know what to say.
And if you’re waiting for them to put your pieces back into place, you’ll crumble when they don’t.
And then it’s their fault.
But it’s not.
It’s nobody’s fault.
Let’s not assign more blame.
You’re just hurting.
From old wounds, re-opened.
The more you ignore it, the worse it will get.
You can exist outside of other people’s opinions of you.
You won’t suffocate.
And you won’t drown either.
I think I’m finally ready to share this one.
I heard somebody once say, that it takes
the human body 7 years to replace every cell
in an endless process of
dying and renewing
dying and renewing.
Which gives me great comfort that maybe
3 years from now
there won’t be a single cell in me
not one single part
not between my legs and not my beaten heart
there won’t be one single cell in me
that let you in.
Am I taking this too far?
Maybe I’m over-exaggerating but I saw
what you typed with hands that used to touch me
in that Google search bar.
It’s funny, in a disgusting twist of irony
that in college we’d rib you
that you liked younger girls.
But I saw what was hidden in your computer screen
I saw what you typed on sticky keys
and when I think about it like that
I don’t laugh
my stomach turns.
So maybe I’m not exaggerating
maybe it makes perfect sense
you didn’t feel what I feel so let me tell you how it felt;
You didn’t feel the shock waves of that night, that
Tore down the walls.
Like primary seismic waves
through the heart of my liquid core
You didn’t feel the aftershocks that
through the next 8 years of my life
with silent screams
and echoes in empty college halls of
it was your fault
it was all your fault
you were not good enough
you mustn’t be doing it right
you should be thinner, sexier, curvier, raunchier.
Or more tight.
Forgive me for being crass, or rude.
Forgive me if I’m too close to the line.
But you weren’t there when too close to the line became too close to the edge.
This is not what I signed up to.
I didn’t ask for this.
That warm summer’s night on the trampoline
A first kiss
that I thought was magic
everything that my playlist of country songs taught me it should be.
But not this,
not twisted and broken and tragic.
This is no eternal sunshine.
There is no magic button or cheat code
that could make it skip to the end.
No up up down down left right left right
B A start
So I’ll mend
I’ll fix and I’ll patch and I’ll tend
To this broken head and this broken heart.
And I’ll wait.
dying renewing dying renewing
I’m counting the days
til there’s no more
They all say they’ll dance with you in the beginning.
We’ll move the furniture in the living room
and I’ll teach you,
It’s all about tension,
between us two,
held in our arms.
Away and towards.
Stretch and contract.
That’s all dancing really is,
The musicality of a connection between any two souls.
And they oblige at first.
But they never make good on their empty words.
Promises of holding each other close,
as the music slows.
Promises of a lively jive,
or a passionate salsa.
3 and a half minutes of
of heart racing
of flirtatious chasing
of chests barely touching
When the whole room falls away around you both.
And all there is, is you two.
And the rhythm guiding your movements,
And the air in between your bodies,
And everything else fades to black,
They bottle it.
Say they’ll do it another day. Another time. They’re not in the mood. Or they’re too tired.
Okay, I’ll say.
I metaphorically put the furniture back to its original place,
turn the music off,
and the TV on.
(context: it was my ex’s birthday yesterday, and i still can’t forget the date, as much as I’d like to. This is the birthday card I’ll never send him. Writing it last night was beautifully cathartic, even if it still made me shake with rage.)
HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY
(I HOPE YOU ROT IN HELL ♥)
Oh, there’s no need to be so rude, is there?
People know, you know?
Maybe you thought I’d told everyone immediately, but I had a lot of therapy to get through first.
(Just let me know how best you’d like to pay. I’d take PayPal.)
No, but people know now.
I only told two people at first.
No, actually, four.
But people talk. And a rumour like that isn’t going to stay a secret.
Guess it’s not a rumour though is it?
I mean, I had to give a reason for having you removed from that group chat so quickly.
And yes, I could have lied but
I have no interest in protecting you anymore.
I don’t give a fuck about your reputation.
You deserve what you get.
I hope it plagues you everyday.
I hope you lose sleep over it.
I hope you’re terrified of bumping into our old college friends.
I hope you’re wracked with guilt.
I hope it’s a secret that’s destroying you from the inside out. The way it did me.
I hope your new girlfriend finds out.
Raise a glass to the birthday boy!
This poem was born out of my complete frustration with the way mental health issues are dealt with, by friends, family and professionals. Bizarrely, or maybe not, i really enjoyed coming out of hospital after my appendix burst – i received cards and well-wishes, and i was cared for and looked after. I felt like it was making up for the previous 7 years of my life where i had no sympathy at all for my severe issues with mental illness. It might be twisted, but it makes sense to me.
break my leg and bring me flowers
let me be hit by a train
not for the want of death
or diagnosed with some strange malady
or whatever will provoke your sympathy
take me to hospital and bring me cards
let there be
wounds on my body
casts on my limbs
hurt in my eyes
and pain when i breathe
and you will know my suffering when you see my scars
where is the proof of my sickness?
no marks are left by ocd
depression causes no limp
anxiety no wounds that you may see
or may grace with all your empathy
ocd leaves no marks unless
you class the skin worn
from my hands and wrists
from scrubbing with green scourers
or the crack in my jaw
from grinding my teeth 49 repetitions at a time
depression doesn’t give me a limp
other than that when i attempt to
pull my unmade self from unmade sheets
to stagger downstairs
to try to eat
and it certainly leaves no marks
other than those you’ll find on my legs
and my arms
anxiety causes no open wounds
unless you see me shaking
in a crowded room
and searching for you
“you’re faking it”
“there’s nothing wrong with you”
“snap out of it”
would you say the same had i’d a
bump on my head?
are the only sicknesses worth your sympathy those that leave scars?
then break my legs
take me to hospital
bring me hospital flowers and hospital cards.
I listened to an episode of The Guilty Feminist about creativity. Our lord and saviour Deborah got the audience to participate in an exercise of creativity. They simple had to make a sound and see what word came out of their mouth. Not planning the word, just trusting that the right thing (that being anything) would come out. So I did it myself. In alphabetical order, and I wrote it down.
apparently it’s difficult to come by
but maybe the problem is him, not you
could it be that maybe…
doesn’t matter anyway…
even if i tried to explain myself…
for fuck’s sake
get on with it
how about we start over again?
i never pictured any of this happening
just try and put yourself in my shoes
let me get it out of my system, please
much of what i feel always comes back to that night
never a day when it doesn’t come to mind
oh, if i could go back and shake myself
perhaps things would have been different
questions like this always circle around my mind
radiating out from me
shall we go back to it?
text message. teens.
underpinning, undermining, undervaluing
visceral hatred and shivering skin
what happens now?
x‘s at the end of our messages still
there was a box of my things,
that i completely forgot i was missing.
some thing didn’t make sense; a set of children’s animal pens.
some things did. my garmin watch.
and a bag of gold glitter.
you’d kept it all. neatly in a box. and as soon as i challenged you, called you out in the middle of the street, you just ran away and left it there.
like you didn’t even want it in the first place.
i can understand you keeping the useful things.
but why did you have to keep my sparkle for yourself too?