Authenticity in Writing and Other Stuff

grooming is good

(You’ll have to scroll down for the thoughts on writing because first there’s other stuff)

I’m super excited about the family vacation we’re going to take on June 14th. It’s pretty much all I’m thinking about. Except that I really want to get my Suicide for Beginners survey responses all logged before I go on vacation so I’m thinking about that too. About how I keep missing opportunities to plow through them after work. I faff around making food for my kid, doing dishes, and then I’m exhausted and sit around thinking about all the things I should be doing before vacation and do nothing else.

This is the main thing that sucks about having depression. The lows come and go for me and they can be super bad, but I don’t really have highs. I just have no energy. Even when medicated, which has certainly helped.

I need to sew some stuff for my trip. Well, just for in general, because hot weather is mostly here and I’ve been very uncomfortable. I need some culottes so I can ride my bicycle without knotting my pant cuffs and so I don’t die of heat exhaustion related to wearing long pants all day at work where it’s so hot I break a sweat just from fetching a cup of water from the water cooler.

Now I need to make myself a new bag too because yesterday I pretty  much destroyed my main one by spilling coffee inside of it. A lot of coffee.

I think I just have to lock myself in my office tonight without any booze and work on the survey results. And again tomorrow night. And again on Friday night.  Then I can sew this weekend.

WRITERS: BE AUTHENTIC…

Random writer thought – I truly despise it when book promos promise to make a reader cry. My goal in reading a book is never to be made to cry. Ever. I hate crying and worse than that I hate knowing that an author relishes the idea of manipulating their readers into feeling sad or so happy (??) they break down crying. Claiming that your book is so emotional your readers are going to ball their eyes out strongly suggests that you measure your success as a writer by how much you can manipulate the emotions of your readers rather than by how much they enjoyed your story-telling. It suggests to me that you’re in it for the satisfaction of moving people to some strong emotion and not to write great stories. It tells me your focus is off and that it’s kind of creepy.

If a book promo suggests that a story is going to be tragic – I feel like I’ve already been betrayed as a reader. I will not read the story. But if I did read it, I would not allow myself to be drawn in emotionally because I’m already prepared to be betrayed.

I see this a lot on Twitter. You have very little words with which to hook a potential reader. Don’t waste them promising to wreck a reader emotionally. Say something about the actual story. I say this as a person who’s total crap at writing promos, so I get it, writing promos is hell. But at least try.

Writers who live to manipulate the emotions of readers are just as unpalatable to me as writers who live to moralize. Emotional manipulation and moralizing are terrible reasons to write and having either of those as your core goal and your starting point with any story will permeate your whole story with a stench that most readers can smell a mile away and will resent you for.

Please, fellow writers, be in it to tell amazing stories about interesting people and places and events. Please be in this writing gig to share your authentic imagination with the rest of us. If you’re authentic in all your writing then you’ll move readers naturally.

Time to go wash my hair before work.

 

Dentistry and Daughters

I want this rose

I need to find out what kind of rose this is. It’s at the Morningsun Herb Farm and smells divine.

I had a cracked molar. It hurt like my nerve was was constantly on fire. Yesterday my dentist was able to save my tooth. I have a lot of tooth-related nightmares (both literally and figuratively) and was imagining having a gaping hole where a working molar should be and having to save up for an implant for the next 10 years by which time I would have almost certainly lost a few more teeth because, obviously, once you lose one tooth they all give up the ghost like little enamel lemurs.

One of the things I hate most about getting my teeth drilled is the tooth dust that results from it. Got some in the back of my throat yesterday and asked for water but my dentist just spritzed some water in my mouth and suctioned it out again. While telling me all about how he has a secret “recipe” for producing sons. He didn’t want any daughters because, according to him, no Asian men really want daughters. I might have argued that, historically speaking, no men of any race have ever been that excited to have daughters unless they already have sons, but my throat was full of bone dust* so I was unable to respond. Kind of ironic, really. And then he let some adhesive crap leak into my mouth and I thought I would throw up from the bitter noxious taste and burn of it on my tongue and my throat. It tasted like burning rubber.

It’s weird to me how men can tell women they don’t value daughters and not think it’s a crappy thing for women to hear.

Now my mouth just hurts. Somehow my wisdom tooth got chipped and it’s not setting right with my new crown. The crown is fine, it’s just that maybe it’s a little lower than my original tooth was situated. This is the kind of thing that can drive me INSANE. If things go wrong in my mouth I can barely concentrate on anything else.

Of course, my wisdom teeth need to come out soon anyway. In fact, I was going in to talk about my options with my wisdom teeth because two of them have cavities in them. I thought all the pain was because of the cavity. But then my dentist said I had to deal with my cracked tooth because the crack was so bad he wasn’t sure he could save it. I’ve already waited a year to deal with my wisdom teeth. Even with some dental coverage we can’t afford a lot of tooth fixing. So now I have to wait to take care of those wisdoms again. Lordy lordy lordy.

Now I must be off to work. I hope I can get work done with this snarly tooth edge catching on my other teeth.

I bet I’d forget about my snaggy wisdom tooth if I had a bouquet of those roses to smell all day while at work. I must email Morningsun and find out what it is.

Toodaloo. Tootaloo. <—-There’s no way that works for me to say.

*I’m aware that teeth are NOT actually bones. But they smell like it and look like it and I take some license.

Memory of Soft Plastic

road trip

So many ghosts live in my skin with me listing out all the the tastes and scents they miss. Hot fat blackberries splitting open under the weight of summer heat, releasing warm dark spicy juices down proud drawn thorns. The sick musk of wild animals talking to each other through the pitch of a new moon, their sharp resinous language we call primitive but which says everything with elegant brevity, nuance lost on our cumbersome language chains.

My past is slowly being archived into sensory memory more than literal memory. In the middle of the day I suddenly smell root beer and green apple scratch-n-sniff stickers like they’re abbreviations for everything that matters and I remember every sticker I ever peeled out of a book or off a strip, the emoticons of the ancient past we used to cover envelopes with. I will be on the phone at work explaining to a customer that I can’t advise them on the use of frankincense to combat cancer and suddenly everything is lime essential oil and I remember my entire 45 collection which I play only slightly more than I play my dad’s 45 collection, now lost to me. I’m in the basement of Rare Earth in Ashland learning that I have enough room for David Bowie AND Madonna.

There are places in my memory that smell like soft plastic, like the empty junk store in Talent Oregon where I spotted the Bionic Woman barbie doll I absolutely had to have. I had to save up my allowance to buy her and the box she came in smelled of shop dust in a way only a disused pawn shop item can do when I finally took my coveted doll home. That place was full of ghosts long before I ever stepped foot in it but I think I might have dropped my own off there and never picked it up again.

Plump rosy cheeked dolls smelled of apples and cinnamon and drew me to them like people trapped in porcelain. I watched their eyes while I ate eclairs in the basement pastry shop. I distrusted their velvet gowns and shiny hair, they were too fine and precious, the way Christians often described Satan’s insidious infiltration of everyday people’s lives. You could be eating a slightly sweaty eclair in a small town and not notice the ghosts all around you looking for egress.

I knew more then than I know now about the ghosts in all things. I knew my place among them.

Duran Duran smells like sandy summer crushes, like ripe pheromones drunk with ice and pineapples.

In my least macabre moments I’m convinced I’m here to propel others forward to their destinies, that mine isn’t important, that mine isn’t the point, that I’m the traffic officer of invisible dreams.

Unthread me from your spool.

I am rogue spirit.

 

 

 

Nosy Parker

whiskers

I’m a nosy parker. I don’t believe you can be a writer and not also be a nosy parker. This whole idea that there’s virtue in not caring what anyone else does or thinks irritates the shit out of me. Perhaps you, as a human, don’t act on your curiosity, but can you be alive inside and never be interested in other people’s lives?

Being curious about what people think, how they live their lives, why they make the choices they do, why they won’t eat broccoli (was it finding half a worm on their plate that turned them off the green floriferous crucifer, or do they just hate the taste?), and how they got their hair so big – this is a normal human trait and isn’t the same thing as judging them for the answers to these questions. Though, making judgments about people is also a very important thing humans do. It’s how we avoid getting into cars with serial killers.

I think it’s disingenuous to claim you don’t care what anyone else thinks or does. It’s something people say when they find other people’s curiosity distasteful. It’s a smug untrue thing to claim. Only a very dull minded person or a narcissist genuinely doesn’t wonder or care about what anyone else is up to.

I will admit that the curiosity of writers is necessarily greater than average. I will admit that my curiosity is non-stop during all waking hours. I’d even argue that my dreams reflect my mind continuing to be curious while I sleep in addition to processing what it sees and has experienced. I am in a constant state of observing everything around me. Color, light, shape, composition, movement, action, noise, interactions – all day long. Much of the time I observe silently. I squash the constant questions that come to mind because I’ve been taught it isn’t polite, it isn’t okay to ask people personal questions unless I know them intimately. I’ve been taught it’s a bad human quality to want to know everything about everyone in the world.

But I know it really isn’t. I know this is human nature. I know that our sense of curiosity is how we learn, how we progress, and ultimately how we survive a constantly changing landscape. So I don’t feel any shame about being a nosy parker. I just try to reign it in for other people’s comfort.

Favagedden

fava harvest

I harvested these favas the first week of May. We just finished eating them. Imwalle Gardens still has favas so I bought 20 lbs of them yesterday. Even though I still felt like crap. I got them mostly processed. But my stomach issues weren’t over and it was a less joyful food processing session than usual. Fava season is as important to me as tomato season. I look forward to it all year.

Last year I did a ton of marinated favas and made the terrible error of not cooking the favas before canning them. I blanched them as usual and thought they’d be tender enough. I was wrong. The bigger beans weren’t tender enough to be enjoyable eating. So I have to figure out what the hell to do with all of them. I’m thinking I can cook them in a marinara sauce until tender? I have to try it.

It’s sunny outside and I want to go do some gardening things. I need to make supports for my tomatoes and I need to get some seeds planted (I didn’t get any planted yesterday) but I also need to work on my survey. I think I’ll do both. Somehow. A bit of each.

Why does my mom and all my neighbors put wind chimes up? I wonder if they would notice if I attached chewed gum to them so they would thud instead of “tinkle”? I will now fuck off on a fantasy of wind chime sabotage. Life is good.

Surfacing From Stomach “Bug” Hell

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Weight on Monday 5/9/16: 270 (Heaviest in life)

Weight on Saturday 5/14/16: 263 (Did not intend to lose 8 lbs)

I started counting calories and getting more exercise. I rode my bicycle to work and back (also rode to the cafe during break) one day, the next day I rode my bicycle to Safeway for a few things we needed. Wednesday I took a break from exercise but still counted my calories and at that point had lost 4lbs. Who knows why so much, normally it happens in smaller increments. I don’t really care. I was just happy to see the scale drop below my heaviest weight ever down to my previous heaviest weight.

Then at 5am on Thursday morning I woke up feeling sick to my stomach and a little dizzy and needing to throw up. I did not throw up because I held that feeling DOWN – also held down whatever wanted to come up. I couldn’t go to work. I couldn’t read. Couldn’t write. Couldn’t sit up for long or lay down for long or stand up much at all.

Gastroenteritis is my idea of the deep pits of hell. The only thing worse than gastroenteritis is having influenza. I never did throw up but all day yesterday my body revolted and did the only other thing it can do in that situation. It continues today, however I feel a lot better in spite of that. I weighed myself and discovered that in two days with the stomach flu I lost an additional 4 lbs. This was not intentional, obviously.

Ted Cruz was in my dream this morning. We were learning French while trying to get some other business done. I was impatient and also angry that that whiny chauvinist creepy son of a bitch was in my dream. The teacher pointed to her necklace of bachelor buttons and told me to tell her how to make such a necklace of her own. So I faffed around with the sentence “Vous achetez …” but couldn’t find the French word for bachelor button plants and I was running out of time. There were also chickens and kittens getting in an out of blankets and cages they shouldn’t have been and a kitten spraying some bedding. As usual there were also very dark themes going on but I can’t remember what they were.

My first batch of kittens for the year is already at the adoption center this weekend. Hopefully having a great time and hopefully about to find great loving homes to live in.

I’m not sure how much longer I can sit here at my desk. I think I need to lay down for a while again. On the couch. Perhaps to watch a garden show. If I can find a good one to watch.

Later I’d like to put in some more time with my survey data compiling. I’d like to get out into the garden. Not sure if I can do any of that. This 48 hour stomach bullshit is exhausting. You do nothing and get worn out by it.

So I’m off for now. Going to get as inspired as I can via the recovery couch and perhaps inch outside to plant a few squash seeds.

 

Time to Lay Down a New Track

Pippa and me

The mind runs on tracks. At least, that’s how my psychologist put it to me many years ago. Some tracks are positive, some are not. We get stuck. Well, maybe you don’t, but I definitely do. I believe that it’s especially easy to get stuck on on the same track when you have an obsessive mind. There is no question that my mind likes to get on a track until forced off of it. I’ve worked hard to destroy old negative tracks and to build healthier ones. But sometimes I build a track that starts off positive and ends up dragging me down to the ground like a thick swamp that smells of death and never-brushed teeth.

I’ve been on a track that started out therapeutic and ended up completely repetitive and unhealthy. The one where I drink late at night listening to music that charges up emotions from a dark place of the past and regurgitates them. Over and over again. It’s gotten to the point where I forgot how to write anything else. I didn’t see it coming until it was a problem and was making me uncomfortable with myself.

Time for new tracks. Please feel free to substitute the word “tapes” for tracks. Same thing. No more late night writing. No more drinking while writing. No more music while writing. At least not the kind that brings me to that place I need to stop hanging out.

I also have gotten right back to where I began with my weight. I’m not happy. I know that I will never feel okay about myself where I’m at now. It’s more than body weight, it’s a huge psychic weight. It undermines all the progress I try to make. Obviously I’m in a pretty tough place with this. In order to lose the weight I have to cut down on drinking by at least 3/4. One of the things that makes me drink the way I do is feeling anxious and also feeling disgusting in body. Low self esteem. I’m in a catch 22 situation where my self loathing and my drinking are the perfect co-conspirators to this stasis.

I’ve been spending a lot more time in my garden. It’s been wonderful. I think it’s part of what has renewed my hope that I can, after a decade of not making an inch of permanent progress, resume my efforts and actually get somewhere without falling backwards to the starting line.

I rode my bicycle to work today and then on my break to go get coffee. That felt good.

It’s time I came back to my blog for the mundane and the daily pep talks. It’s an important but long neglected part of my own self care. It’s time to record the little things I’m doing that I enjoy, the small triumphs, the stupid stuff, the silly stuff. I don’t want to start a new blog. I don’t want to re-invent myself. I just want to reclaim myself. I’ve got all the tools, I just need to use them.

I’m off to eat some home made minestrone, clean my kitchen, and then watch something on tv I’ve already watched a hundred times.

 

Why The Title “Suicide for Beginners”?

tiny button

There WILL be typos in this post. If that’s all you have to comment on after you read it, keep it to your damn self.

I explained the title of my book “Suicide for Beginners” in the long post I wrote about the project. A couple of people have commented on this title unfavorably. One person thinks it’s too dark, that my project should be called something more like “how to survive suicide”, and another person has suggested I “be careful” with this title as it may be triggering.

Here’s the deal: first of all, I am not writing a book about how to survive suicide. My goal isn’t to save lives for the sake of saving lives. My goal in writing this book is to offer other people like me peer support and to help people with serious depression feel less alone. If it helps them hang on longer to possibly find some therapies or meds that offer real relief and a better quality of life or if it just makes a single person feel more understood and less alone for a few hours, then I have accomplished my goal.

Secondarily, this book is meant to offer real insight to people who don’t know shit about depression so they can stop acting like turds and offer better support to the people in their lives who suffer from it. EDUCATION. Education from the very people who know most about it – US. The people who live with this shit day in and day out.

Thirdly, while I understand and respect the concept of triggering vulnerable people and would like to not be a person going around triggering people, the title of this book, should it come up in a person’s online search for methods to kill themselves will be a deep disappointment. If someone is already looking online for ways to kill themselves, they have already been triggered. They’re already at code red. Seeing the title “Suicide for Beginners” may make them think they’ve found a handy step-by-step manual for killing themselves, and won’t it be a deep fucking disappointment to discover that instead it’s a title to a book that may actually provide the temporary balm they need to get through another day. At worst, they’re determined to kill themselves and they’ll keep looking for what they need to help them. My book won’t be it.

So to suggest this title is “triggering” seems strange to me.

The other thing is, if we cannot use the words that describe our crisis and/or our worst experiences, even to each other, how the fucking hell are we going to talk honestly? The truth is that if you are like me and have experienced abuse and also have mental illness and have wanted to kill myself (or just never wake up again) at different points in my life, and have horrible anxiety and panic disorder, life will offer constant triggers. That’s a fact. We DO have to take care of ourselves and sometimes that means we have to avoid people/places/conversations/topics etc.

Exploiting vulnerability for entertainment or for shock value is not my gig and I absolutely understand why people in my community are becoming more vocal in their objections to these things. Rape scenes in books and movies that are brutal and explicit are, more often than not, unnecessary and for those who’ve been through it themselves – it’s like being forced to relive the worst day of their lives.

On the other hand, people who haven’t been raped often downplay the brutality of it, think it isn’t that bad, really, because at least you’re not dead. Society on the whole agrees that rape is “bad” but when it comes down to it they also don’t feel comfortable ruining men’s lives when it might have been nothing more than a “misunderstanding” or that the women who are raped are somehow at fault. So, when writers and artists depict violence or dark mental landscapes – do you really want them to soften the blow, turn down the lights, and let people who don’t understand continue to believe in their hearts that other people’s suffering is not something they need to concern themselves with?

Not me. I would much rather that truths be revealed with as much raw honesty as possible, in conversations between individuals, in art, in culture, in education.

I’m not okay asking people to NOT depict rape, suicide, illness, or murder in their works of fiction. For at least a millennia, telling stories has been the best way humans have found to tell their real stories in a way that others will remember and repeat. Fiction has been an important mirror of ourselves, well, forever.

Rape is a horrible thing that happens to thousands of women and some men every single day and is accepted by society to a shocking degree – this stuff needs to be in the open. You can’t tell fiction writers not to have rape in their books. It’s like saying you can’t have characters who get divorced or have  babies. Rape, abuse, depression, suicide, mental illness; these are every-day things millions of people experience. That’s a fuck-ton of stories needing to be told in one way or another. You can’t ask anyone not to tell the stories they experienced in real life in fiction, or to not share the brutality of abuse they have gone through or seen others go through just because it reminds you of what you went through and it hurts. Demanding we not use words like “rape” or depict rape or other “triggering” words is another way of trying to silence people.

I will NOT be complicit in silencing truth.

Suicide is a real problem for people who suffer from mood disorders in particular and mental illness in general. We do not create it, we do not fixate on death (or on simply not existing, a passive form of suicidal ideation) to shock the people around us, and we do not kill ourselves because we are desperate for attention or because we’re selfish assholes.

The title of my book is deliberate. It’s what I would have given to myself when I was a teen first beginning to unravel, when I was just a beginner to the damnation and darkness I was plunged into and have never been free of for the last 33 years. Suicide for Beginners is the book I wish had been already written when I was 13 and self harming for the first time. It’s the book I wish I could have given to people around me too, who didn’t understand what I was going through and whose ignorance made my journey even harder.

While this book isn’t only for beginners to suicide, but that’s the concept that started it. If I could have known how many other people there were out there with the same struggles as mine, the one thing I would have been spared was feeling desperately alone in a sea of humans who are wholly alien to me. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties and started talking openly about my struggles that I began to find others who knew what I was talking about, who empathized and understood. It didn’t fix my depression to know others were going through the same thing as me but it DID give me courage, it did make me feel less isolated, it did give me more strength to face this lying asshole called depression.

My ultimate goal isn’t to save lives but to improve the quality of living for people like me by providing messages from hundreds of other people with serious depression that say “we understand” and “we care about you” and to provide data from those same hundreds of people on things like what are the five most important things we can do to manage our depression/anxiety. Useful information straight from other sufferers, not from a lab or a statistics farm.

I would love to see the numbers of suicides drop dramatically in my lifetime but before we can reduce those numbers significantly, we need to educate the masses and stop them from making us all feel infinitely worse. We need to listen to the mentally ill more and to the media’s interpretation of mental illness less. We need to reduce isolation, reduce the stigmas, and we need to remind each other that, collectively speaking, we’re a pretty  vibrant, funny, empathetic, and awesome community of people and the world needs our perspective.

I’m interested in the truth. All of it. There is no gentle conversation we can have about suicide. There is no gentle version of killing one’s self or of passive self destruction. So let’s not tip-toe around it, okay?

One last thing. A pivotal moment in my life as an aspiring writer was when I wrote a piece of first person narrative for an English class in 10th grade. I chose to write an interior monologue of someone trying to kill themselves. The character I chose for my fiction was male but the monologue was mine. It was a scenario I’d run through my own head many times. I fictionalized something dreadfully dark I was going through and I spared no one’s feelings. It didn’t even occur to me. I wrote honestly and when I turned it in I was suddenly terrified. Why the fuck did I have to open my own jugular in front of my teacher’s eyes? When the day came to hand our papers back to us I was all nerves. He chose the best few stories to be read aloud to the class. He read them himself. He chose mine.

The other stories were about the spring break vacations students took. The students laughed and nodded along with the stories. But when Mr. Pierce read mine the class went dreadfully silent. The class remained stunned and silent as we were dismissed for recess. He talked to me after class about literature I might enjoy. He spoke to me about continuing to work on my writing. He was impressed with the rawness of my story, with the choice of subject.

What Mr. Pierce did NOT do is call the infirmary and get me committed to a psyche ward, which if I’m being honest, would have been a welcome relief to me. Mr. Pierce recognized truth in fiction and he treated me with respect and I believe he was offering me an opening to reach out as well. I didn’t take the opening offered but I did feel empowered by having a teacher actually listen to, and share, something so deeply personal to me. He saw value in the truth and that’s the first time I understood what one of the societal roles of writers really is. To mirror reality.

The title of my book will not be changed to reflect a falsely positive view of depression. It will not be changed to comfort those who want to believe that it’s really just a matter of changing one’s perspective. The title is completely intentional and an honest reflection of the purpose of this project.

I will not apologize if it makes anyone uncomfortable.

try to follow if you can

In my mind I live life operatically. In reality I live like an animal balloon wheezing out its last squeak. I run towards arrows like a reckless soldier who knows her luck, such as it was, has diminished into negligent margins. I make wide gestures of living because I don’t know how to keep my thoughts and limbs tight. I’m a constant explosion of raw thought and strange spaghetti words stuck to peeled paint ceilings falling deftly, silently, into the mouths of witless dreamers.

Most of the time I doubt the substance of my own bones. I’m the bitter ghost of all abused children, the patron saint of broken skin. Most of the time I feel myself disappear  beneath the weight of human suffering. I can’t breathe when you can’t breathe. I can’t move on when your nightmares burn through your last defenses and you construct walls to hold your bleeding fear in check.

Whatever I am is less important than holding your wings out for your free-fall from earth’s atmosphere. Whatever I am is less important than helping you find the light burning quietly through your solar plexus, the same light that will ignite bonfires across a universe of unquenchable thought.

I can’t make you see yourself in your own mirror. All I can do is reflect you in mine where you shine like a spirit without anchor, where you shimmer into a pool of collected precipitation.

I will always break your fall here in the cotton mornings.

I will give you my skin. I don’t need it where I’m going.

I will give you my voice. It’s the only weapon I’ve ever mastered.

I will give you my heart, because a lifetime of shattering couldn’t prevent it from mending under the protective film of poetry.

You are magnificent. This morning, right now, in every stumble towards the next frame, the next conversation – YOU. ARE. MAGNIFICENCE.

Go on. Close your eyes and dream.

I will never be far from you.

 

The Truth is Brittle

seedling hat

This seedling, beacon of hope, adorable, and gambler against the odds is dead now. But that’s not the moral of the story.

Yes it is. That’s always the moral of the story. Shit happens and then you die.

When I cry in front of people I have the overwhelming urge to hurt myself. This is something I started admitting out loud about 5 years ago but I suspect people always assume I’m speaking either hyperbolically or metaphorically. Or that they wish I was.

I’m not.

I still harbor a lot of secrets when it comes to my mental landscape. Over the years I’ve been leaking the truth drip by drip like some torturous archaic coffee machine that delivers your brew viscous, strong, and cold. You have no idea the lengths I’ll go to protect myself.

Unless you’re part of my tribe, my community of mentally ill people, in which case you do.

This process of opening up the dark vaults, exposing the wild colors and noises, the involuntary x-ray sight through the human heart, it’s slow and deliberate. Every step feels like it might be the end of the tracks, the point of no return, the final evaluation in which we’re fossilized in our own emptiness.

When I tell people about picking at my skin I want to shiv myself. I feel dirty and disgusting. I didn’t start admitting to the dermatillomania until recently. There’s so much shame in it. ABJECT SHAME. Even though I know, intellectually, that it’s a response to the condition of my brain, to the environmental landscape of my youth.

I will always have secrets from everyone, for their own protection. Every year I say more, share more, shed light on new corners of my psyche, and yet there is always more that remains in darkness.

There are times when I look around me and all I see are vaginas and penises. Genitals walking around, pontificating, gesturing (!!), and orating. I’ll be on a bus and every single human I see is a giant genital. It’s not a hallucination (I’ve had those too and know the difference), it’s a perspective. Not knowing a person’s gender is perplexing and intriguing because they don’t appear clearly to me in any particular way.

I can often see into the hearts of people, whether I want to or not. I can see the pocked diseased tissue, I can see the secrets they’ll never confess to, and I can see the way love seeps into crevices into which love has no place. I can’t fix what I see because I’m not Jesus, Muhammad, or Buddha. Whatever. I can see the dust of hopelessness, I can feel the damp loose lullabies of the pitch spirit, and I feel the ton of rocks pinning my chest to the great wide nothing.

I never tell people how often I want to not exist or how often I want to die because normals aren’t strong enough for that truth. And that’s the fucking truth. But I’d tell anyone like me how often I want to not exist or how I want to die, because I know you won’t become hysterical, judgemental, or scared.

I’ve asked a lot of people to open themselves up to me in my survey and as I tally up all their answers and make categories all of us can fit into I am deeply humbled by my community. I’m aware of things I haven’t opened up about on my blog where I’ve professed to be completely honest and I have to admit to my own limitations. I feel an arrow wreck my heart with every new survey response.

I know you. I know all of you. It’s as though I was given a conduit to the valves of your hearts when I was born and through my life I’ve felt you all out there like sisters and brothers in spirit.

Pretty sure my arteries have been open to you since you were born too.