If I give it claws, we’ll talk about the monster in us.
If I give it fangs, we won’t look away from what society tells us is too uncomfortable to linger on.
If I make it a world we don’t live in, we can look at the things we don’t want to talk about. Perhaps we can find the strength to do something about it the next time we see it.
If I make its eyes glow, we’ll think about the pain we want to hide. Maybe we will find a way to deal with it too.
If we have to suspend disbelief, we can poke at our childhood programming, our insecurities, our secrets.
Stories don’t judge us. They open us up to the possibility of change, connection, hope, and purpose. They give us new perspectives on things society labels for us (as if we don’t have brains or hearts to decide for ourselves). Stories give us the option to define our own life, our own self, and realize we’re not that different after all.
A black grandpa can read the same story as a white single mom. They can both recognize love when it’s being denied, the pain of a child dying, the need for someone in this world to see us for who we truly are.
Stories show us what’s broken and what’s beautiful. They give us a safe place to peel back the layers of this life without anyone mocking us or telling us we’re wrong or bad.
Stories give us heroes with fantastic abilities, somehow making it easier for us to love them when they mess up, hurt, and prove they aren’t perfect. It gives us a little more leeway to be imperfect ourselves.
There’s a certain magic to a story, whether there’s anything fantastical or whimsical in it or not.
If we read a story about a monster with a heart, it doesn’t hurt so much to look at the monster within ourselves. Only then can we do something about it.
I have begun working on ANOTHER work in progress story. I really enjoy this one so far and I feel like it can blossom into a story I will continue to enjoy.
This is the 5th WIP I have begun since I realized I wasn’t writing for me or the stories I wanted to write. Since then I have decided that I am going to simply keep beginning stories until I find one that is truly MY STORY to tell, instead of something I know will be “acceptable”.
I don’t think the purpose of a writer is to tell the safe stories. I think we are meant to poke at what people don’t want to but know they need. To make a safe place to deal with emotions, fears, questions, doubts. To hold a mirror up to the reader, to community, to society as a whole. To create a home where we want to live with characters who treat us with respect, kindness, and dignity while being honest and candid. A story is an escape from all the ugliness this world can throw at us. It’s a way to recharge, reconnect with ourselves, our dreams, and with others.
A story can not be any of these things if I am playing it safe. If I am afraid to be who I am as a writer.
No, I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But no one is EVERYONES cup of tea and that’s kind of the point.
So wish me safe travels, will you?
I’m packing my bags, putting on sturdy shoes, and jumping off the cliff, into the unknown.
Do you remember the first words that fell off your lips?
Or the first thing that caused joy to well up?
Funny, the things we remember.
So important, our first steps.
Yet we never get to see them.
Remember the rush of our chubby baby legs working how we wanted.
Or our first words.
I wonder what mine were?
Maybe it’s better not to know.
So silly, the way we see ourselves.
Lost in memories and thought loops
Experiences we label and poke at (from an unsafe distance).
Staring into mirrors that distort
And ask the wrong questions.
Peering into eyes that hide behind plastic masks,
Use paint to hoodwink reality.
What do you remember?
I get these flashes.
I don’t want them.
My chest breaks in half
Everything is frozen in blazing nausea
And the world goes dark
They color my sleep in muddy hues
Robbing intimate moments of safety.
I got so sick
Sick of paying for others’ sins.
Confused body, still paying with sickly health.
The only things I remember, hurt.
I wish it wasn’t that way.
Wish I could hold happy childhood memories in my thoughts
Like little flakes of gold, suspended
Always there to infuse me with heart swelling snapshots.
The foundation all the healthy people have
The people who don’t fall apart every day.
But protection came at a cost.
My mom bought me gold flakes at a field trip once
I think they’re in storage.
I wish I could remember
The day I was born.
I wonder what it felt like.
But if I tell…
If I tell, you might look at me
Like I’m made of porcelain, so easily broken
Or smothered in slime I can never remove
(Even though I didn’t put it there)
It infuriates me.
Perhaps if I hurt you, you won’t see me as weak
But I’m not a bully, so I’ll wait for you to hurt me first.
Silly memories, telling me you will.
I wish I could remember what I felt the day I was born.
Would I be the same person?
Would there be something at the center of me, holding me up?
Convincing me that I am solid and here and…
I wish I could remember.
What emotions flooded my body, the day I was born?
Can you take me back to the beginning, before everything became broken?
I mean, I’ve had friends. Loads. I never had a problem making friends. But this was different. He didn’t want to have sex with me. He didn’t want to stay in an unhealthy phase of life. He did want to connect. To uplift. To be uplifted. Real friendship.
I typically only get along with people this way when they’re older than me by a decade or two. Been that way since I was a munchkin. I tried to fight it for a while in my teen years. But why? I mean, I believe we existed before this life. I could be substantially older than my mother. My younger brother could be eons older than me. *shrug*
Anywho, the amazing thing about this, is the relationship was healthy. The only healthy relationship this gal has ever had from start to finish.
I met him in the blogosphere when I began blogging, about 6 years ago. We had a lot in common. We critiqued each other’s novels. I learned a lot. He was honest. We called each other out. We consoled one another. We got each other… On the same wavelength, you know? He sent me a box of books. If that doesn’t scream friendship right there, I don’t know what does.
This relationship has been my rock. He, along with a book series and my family, are the reasons I got vulnerable enough to consider therapy. Which I chose to allow me to change my life for the better.
This relationship is what got me through a lot of my issues. Helped me remain humane with myself. Remember that I mattered, wasn’t a monster, and having issues didn’t make me unlovable. I learned to trust someone. I learned self-value in part because of this friendship. Someone else who saw all my damage could love me.
But, as I’ve recently learned, friendships don’t last forever. Not even the healthy ones. People change. We grow, evolve, move forward in different directions. This friendship died a healthy death.
That’s never happened before, and I, therefore, didn’t know how to deal with it. All my unhealthy coping mechanisms were gone, you know? I’d burned them alive and let them die the painful death we needed them to die. So I looked for a healthy one.
I chose to write about it.
I figured I’d share the resulting poem with you. I cried writing it. I cried reading it. I cried sending it. But I cannot say I have any regrets. I cannot say I regret anything with this relationship. I believe we all have people come into our lives for a reason. And I believe we come into others’ lives for a purpose.
Maybe the truth is that I did NOT lose something this year. I grew. He grew. We figured out how to create a real relationship where neither of us ended up hating one another, but instead parted in healthy ways for healthy reasons. We bettered each others’ lives. Ta da. Healthy relationship. I certainly learned a lot about myself (and my writing).
But I digress. Here are my blood and tears, encapsulated in ink and vocal chords.
Perhaps this is part of becoming new
I am not so broken up
But I am
How can I be a phantom
Yet so brilliantly alive
In the same heart beats
Through my veins
All at once
Then not at all
These same tears
Are saying two different things
Perhaps this is part of becoming new
Shedding dead skins
And remembering them fondly
These dew drops of joy
I’ll store them in a jar
There will be so many more mornings
Dewdrops to collect
I’ll keep the safety
In this snapshot
Never having to worry
More was building
I never breathed so freely
I think maybe perhaps
I will buy some new jars
Open the lids
I cut my hair short
Put my old stories through the shredder
I sent out a letter
There’s a purple ruby on my desk
It’s from you
Perhaps this is part of becoming new
Final nail in the coffin
Of the phantom in me
Last crack in my shell
Something winged set free
Dying a natural death
In other words, change
Alchemy of the soul
We each need different chemicals
To destroy ourselves
So we can rebuild our bones
Trade fins for wings
Maturation into brilliancy
This is part of becoming new
You were a much-needed ingredient
So I could see the dead skin cells
I clung to
Wipe them away
Close my eyes
Clean up with all these tears
To break through
And pull myself out
And ever so new
It was is time
Please wake up
To something beautiful