I looked over my chipped teacup, wondering all the while what the point of this conversation was. I think I thought I was enjoying myself.
Maybe I was.
Maybe I was playing into the witty banter of getting to know a handsome stranger, not caring how in this moment nothing we said actually held any substance.
But I suppose substance on the first date is a rare occurrence. When I go on dates, which is quite also rare, I feel like I am 16 years old girl- not a 29 almost 30 year old woman who has traveled, seen the world, fought many battles, and has lived to see another day.
When I think about dating I think of a maze that everyone wants to enter, that everyone needs to enter, but no one can actually find their way out.
It is probably incredibly pessimistic of me to believe this concept. But my mind immediately goes to this image- are we all mice trying to find the prize we see in our mind, feeding our ego that maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there that you mesh with enough to want to see them everyday of your life?
I hate dating. I can talk to a goddamn rock, but as I have gotten older I realize there are so many fucking rocks to sort through. And every time I feel like an egotistical ass for believing this, yet here I am. I am trying to flip the narrative in my brain.
Short circuit these images of no hope and paint the new story of an Anna that is learning what she wants in a partner, she is interviewing for the position, she is in control... when for so long I let others have power over me.
I am trying. Ooof let me tell you I am trying to flip this narrative.
Another date, another "no", another stab to the ego,
I am still here smiling.
Even if I don't believe what I am about to say, I nevertheless say it to the clear eyed woman in the mirror,
"Well goddamn Anna, on to the next shall we?"
No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent”- Eleanor Roosevelt
I fit into comfortable silences with myself these days.
I do not always seek to fill the air with words and songs.
Sometimes I think that this means I am comfortable with myself.
Other times I think there is nothing more to say,
Are they the same?
I trip over my self regard every now and then.
I do not know where to find respect
when there are days where I misplace it.
I left it on the counter there.
I left it in her mouth and let her take me down with her words,
I left it in his hands and let him walk away with it between squeezed fingers,
crushing the love I have for myself.
I suppose “misplace” is not the right word.
I give people access to my self worth and let them grind it to dust.
Then I have the audacity to blame them for making me feel that I am no good.
When I gave them the key.
Some days I look into my heart and I see the treasure that I am.
Then days like today, I stare into the well of my soul and become lost in who I am.
Then voice from somewhere I cannot name comes to me,
Anna, get up child. It is time to remember,
You dug the well yourself. You buried the treasure. You know what it holds.
Be amazed. You are here.
I was on the floor crying so hard my hands shook, curled inward trying to dig out the unexplainable pain coming from somewhere within.
This was a scene that happened much more often then, then it does now.
After the trauma and the rage/grief that occurred because of it, I was a woman on fire, but not set alight by anything good- this was a fire that would destroy me and the sad thing was, I wanted it to destroy me.
The kindest thing done for me was actually a succession of little acts of kindness during this 3 year period of me hell bent on destroying myself.
It was that they didn’t give up on me, even when I had given up on myself. That they still believed and loved me just because I was me.
And that was enough for them.
It was the greatest gift I was ever given and continue to receive to this day.
I’m writingthis with tears in my eyes. It’ll have been 4 years since my suicide attempt, it wasn’t easy afterward, after the trauma that is, but I can say quite truthfully that I’ve begun to not just survive, but thrive.
It happened because I had people believing in me until finally, one day, from what seemed like out of the blue, I began to belive in myself too.
What a gift.
What a beautiful life I can now appreciate and greet everyday, even when the skeletons in my closet rattle and wish to remind me of my failings. I hear them, I feel the sharp feelings but now… I release them and continue to live.
Dear God, I’m living.
There were glass jars that lined the hallways of her home.
All of the jars were empty. All of the jars were different colors.
Those close to her would wonder about the nature of her ways,
the thoughts that seemed to curl and smoke between her ears
and the way her laugh seemed to float out of her like a babbling brooke.
She thought herself an open book. A plain sort of read,
and yet she had been told she was an enigma.
That her fullness and fierceness in emotion and spirit
could not be read completely, nor could it be followed.
And the jars, well, she thought it was so obvious what they were. She thought that those close to her had to know what they held.
So when they asked, "What do the jars mean? What do they hold?"
She finally stood.
She didn't say anything. Instead she walked along the hallway crouching down to touch each jar, some big, some small, some fat, some slender.
And after each touch, the jar seemed to glow and the hallway seemed to sing. And those with her heard wailing, or laughter, or silence.
When she asked them, "What did you hear?"
Each person spoke of a different sound. Not one person heard the same.
She smiled that smile, the one so full and knowing. They didn't quite understand it and yet could feel in their bones what she wanted to say.
She looked at each and said quite simply,
"We all have pasts, we bottle them up and put them away and think they do not stay with us, we think them gone and that 'time has healed all wounds', yet we all walk with different gaits that have been altered by the roads we’ve traveled. The ones that have been softer or harder than others at different points of our lives. We all feel the weight of our pasts and it is not something to be feared.
I keep these as reminders of who I have been, of where I have been and as a reminder of why I am. You each heard different sounds, because each of you found what you relate to most within parts of my story.
When you hear the wailing it means you have walked a road where the pain met bone and melted your heart to mist and sorrow. When you hear laughter you walked along a path where the flowers bloomed and smelled what it meant to find joy on a sunny day. And when you hear silence, you know what it means to sit in between words and feel the whole of yourself and be okay with that.
All these things are what the jars hold."
She looked at each person and smiled again.
A smile just as cracked and whole as a person can have going through life and living as fully as one can.
I made love with your memory last night.
It wasn’t something to hide or to be ashamed of.
It wasn’t supposed to become what it feels like now:
Sickening and sad.
I’m sitting in my bed and it’s 3am
and I’m still not sure how I get lost in your embrace after all this time.
Are you someone that means something to me?
Do all people have to mean something?
I suppose if I’m being kind I’d say “yes”.
If I’m being honest, my answer wouldn’t be kind but it would at least be real.
And I can hang my coat on the door this evening and break bread with your memory and know that my desires might be dark but my honesty is unwavering and I can sleep knowing I didn’t lie.
Yet my mouth still molds to the form of your name, my fingers still yearn to find the small of your back, and when everyone else has gone home and the room is empty,
I am there still missing the shit out of you…
I guess what I’m trying to say is,
you did mean something.
I hear you.
When you are annoyed the last word of every sentence thuds to a stark halt, you take a breath sucked between the gap in your front teeth and sigh out a whistle after the thought has been doled out to the person responsiblue for your irritation.
You don’t think people see you
I see you.
When you are sad, your whole body seems to go to sleep. and all the while your awake eyes scan your surroundings. You are shadows in a crowded room, the only sound coming is the occasional
And then sigh that sings low and sweet from your mouth.
You don’t think people hear you.
I hear you.
When you are happy you like to hum, nonsensical tunes in a low steady thrum, the melody lost on everyone, but you know the innate song within the joy you’ve found. You clasp
your hands as if in prayer with a thunderous clap, and breathe a steady inhale of awe. In that moment you are full of the wonder you’ve always held, yet never dared express aloud.
You don’t think people know you.
I know you.
So when you feel as if no one knows the soul you possess and the quiet seems suffocate, look around you-
I see you.
I hear you.
And I know all of you.
When He Dreams of Her
When April* showers have gone and May* comes to greet me in my sleep,
I dream of her.
Her love has become my god.
I blaspheme* between sheets,
wet with the end of my wanting.
All I see are her eyes-
dull ache* forms in my gut.
I see her so clearly
holding my hand,
walking with me
through the glade* of our youth.
My thoughts crescendo*
with the sound of her name.
And the alizarin* sun sets
on my love for her.
pummel* my fists into thighs,
she is not here.
Time to Play
She hung midair, noose around her neck, head snapped sideways crawling towards me, wearing a sickly sweet smile, as her laughter drowned my horrified screams. When she was just inches from my face she whispered, “You said you’d play with me, well my dear it’s time to play a game...”
Purple is my favorite color.
If I could wear it everyday for the rest of my life, I would.
I’d wake up in my purple robe, make breakfast for you, and your sleepy eyes.
I’d go and pick the duck eggs in Sulli backyard and tell you of all the adventures when we were young and naive -
Oceans away from where we are now.
How we went to the Vatican and nearly got trampled by the pious pilgrims from around the world. How even when I was scared I was in awe of how many religious people it took to make something holy.
That if I died right here, I’d still be happy, because what will come the next day but my own soul finding relief from a world burdened by its failings?
But today there is no dying. There is no quest for something holier. I’ve found redemption in your lips, awe in your eyes, and a sacredness in your arms.
If this is what it means to be love and give it truly whole to someone else, then this is what I was born for.
Maybe mishandled along the way, but finally home- first having found it for myself then having enough strength to have someone else join me.
And what is more holier that that?
I Already Was
I remember when I was but a speck of dust in your world.
I would circle your orbit hoping for gravity to finally give me a kiss of hope, so I could finally become a part of you.
And then ike the miracle that is time, I woke up.
I remembered that I am the whole universe in a pair of blue eyes and a half empty smile.
My smile- a blackhole of chance- asking the question: will you come out of it
better worse broken whole?
I breathe you in and you are now the speck of dust wondering how and when to become a part of my power. You want to breathe in freedom.
Now I know that I am the all knowing of more, and you do not know what it means to have eaten all the apples from the Tree of Knowledge, having killed the snake before it slithered into my ears, hissing out regret of what once was unknown.
When you know the whole of the world, you do not fear death. You fear living, realizing no one will ever truly know you.
And you are a l o n e in your power.
As exhilaration and dread run through me, I suck in a breath, breathe in freedom, and remember…
I was never a speck of dust in the first place.