Saturday, 10 December 2016

Learning Self Love

Self love isn't blocking pain from entering you
It isn't hissing at the enemy, or drowning in self pity
Or promising yourself to love less, next time
To care less, to allow less to hurt you
Self love is not becoming hard, strong
Self love is allowing yourself to stay soft
Self love is allowing things to come and go as they will
And being peaceful in the knowledge that you will want to restore yourself
Should you become damaged in the process.
Self love is not self protection.
It is self preservation, it is the commitment of gardening and nourishing your own soul
Learning the ability to hold yourself at your weakest
And acknowledging that this is very hard to do.
So, next time your self love involves a wall
or an arrow
or a knife
or a tub of ice cream
Look at the wall, brick by brick, and take it down with care, not because you don't need walls
but because you prefer the view behind it
Try using a different target, and take an archery class instead
Take the knife out of your own back, and use it to cut dead branches from the trees of the things that no longer serve you, or you them
And enjoy the ice cream.
You really, really, can't go wrong with ice cream.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Every Bee Sting Was A Kiss

After you left,
Every bee sting was a kiss
Sweet on my lips, honey, that sugar,
That abyss.
I ran with my tongue and savoured the taste
of the blood from the wound
of your hand on my face
On those soft, birdsong mornings when you'd rise and you'd fall
On those days made of grey when you weren't there at all
I saw you, I kept you, I longed for the sting
To feel something, just not nothing
As I forgot how to sing.
Your skin like your wings,
softer than paper
They couldn't fly far but you wouldn't escape her
and by her, I mean me - your watcher, your keeper
your lover, and griever, your hopeless believer in love
and the sting, whether sharp, whether small
to feel it defies there was nothing at all
So I follow the bees
wherever they find me
Seek the sting of your kiss
Even if just to remind me
That you lived,
That we Were
That we do not just "cease"
And when I swell and my lips are obese with the grief
Then I take my dark body, forgotten by gold
And I thank it, for the love and the pain it can hold
And lose myself to the world, that old tender friend
Follow sweetness, and laughter, round some new river-bend
I think of you often as I wander through trees
Of how lucky I am
to be stung by the bees.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Prepare for Loss

All our lives we are told
You must prepare for loss.
You must prepare for the day
when your world crumbles,
when friends leave, when summer ends
and the leaves turn brown
then to dust.

You must prepare yourself, they say
for the day your Great Love goes silent
when the cat is no longer there to be stroked
when the world is just you.
All our lives we are told
We must prepare for loss.

But we are not told to prepare
for all the Other Days.
The days our love lies next to us in bed
still and breathing heavy
All those car journeys and endless days
When the cat is here to be held,
we don't prepare for that

And even when the leaves are brown, we don't notice
that golden amber hue, the lingering magic
Perhaps not on the trees, but still
right beneath our feet
in front of our noses
As we press our hands and eyes against the glass
Breathing in on a world we are preparing to lose
But never preparing
to lose ourselves to

Sunday, 2 October 2016

5.30am Surfing

Today it is my birthday, and I leave behind my 25th year.

I think I'll always remember 25 as the year I finally stopped wading in the shallow waters - the year I learned to surf!

I'll remember 25 as the year I met the most spectacular man, who captivated and fascinated me like never before. The year I learned what a healthy, kind, loving relationship looked and felt like, so that I never settle for anything less. Learning what mattered wasn't trying to balance on the same board together, but being able to catch our own waves out on a shared sea - and afterwards, to run to each other on the shore, gasping, sparkly-eyed and salty, shouting "Did you see it, did you see it!? Wasn't that something!?"

I'll remember 25 as the year I learned how to lose things - completely and ungraciously. Some pain and suffering in life is unnecessary, but some deserves to be felt in every inch of your being. At 25 I learned that actually, I couldn't withstand the heartbreak that came with losing him. That everything I knew could still be shattered into a thousand shards of flesh and heart, but that even in my most vulnerable and childlike moments of grief, this world has still not ceased to bring me awe and wonder.

And at 26, I'm making a promise to myself to catch as many waves I can. Especially the big, foaming, crashing waves under trembling, brumous skies - regardless of the predators that might lurk beneath, regardless of whether I'm going to be knocked unconscious with a surfboard to the face. Because at 25, I learned that I'll always emerge from the sea - bloody and bruised perhaps, but always awake, always alive, always eyes sparkling. And I'll always run into his arms, shouting "Did you see it!? Did you see it!? Wasn't that something!!!"

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Morning Thoughts

Morning thoughts. It's a lovely cliche ingrained into our culture to "live like you'll die tomorrow", and certain experiences from the last year have really heightened this realisation in me, of "this moment is fleeting, it will be gone soon, and so will they and so will I."
But I'm not sure anymore if it's helping me to live better. Instead, I feel this huge cloud of worry that I'm not appreciating the moment enough, especially in times of sadness and pain, and every joy is tinged with the reality of it being held in the hands of entropy, and it's actually pretty hard work to be able to step out of the moment with your family, your cat, your friends, and look at the same moment being held in death's hand, and feel joyous about it.
So, I've decided, instead of living like I will die tomorrow, I am going to live like I will live forever, and that entropy will never take my loves, but also with the knowledge that the moment is still fleeting, the moment is still good.

Death is a different beast from other loss, I've learned. I was a pro at taking life's curveballs and enjoying them and rolling with them. This is an entirely different beast, and I draw words from Washington Irving to justify my resistance to "moving on" from this.

"The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal - every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open - this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude. Where is the mother who would willingly forget the infant that perished like a blossom from her arms, though every recollection is a pang? Where is the child that would willingly forget the most tender of parents, though to remember be but to lament? Who, even in the hour of agony, would forget the friend over whom he mourns? Who, even when the tomb is closing upon the remains of her he most loved, when he feels his heart, as it were, crushed in the closing of its portal, would accept of consolation that must be bought by forgetfulness? No, the love which survives the tomb is one of the noblest attributes of the soul."

On this day 1 year ago, we fell into each others' arms. I knew I would adore him for a lifetime, whether only as friends, or strangers in passing, and to be given the opportunity to love him was a wonderful wave life offered me to catch. I took it, and I'd take it again and again and again. I have to catch other waves now, too. But that wave... that will always be the first time the sea took me into it's arms, and I felt at home, and I felt at one, and I learned the capacity for good life held - if you're willing to ride the wave. How can I turn away from a life, that in the same breath, gave me him? As much as I lament that I am here living in his absence, and that it comes so naturally, I must harness this and use it to push me to live and live and live with joy. To not only catch the other waves that will come, but to be willing to die for them, to sing and scream and let my mind throb with delight on them. Not to sit on them softly, waiting for them to end.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Therapy Night

I have found the grief and trauma that came with his death manifesting itself in the form of overthinking, in the form of picking fights with myself in my own head. I've decided to write about it, to spit it out, to look at my current opponent right in it's angry eyes and take it on, with my metaphorical sword of words.

"Right, you. Let's settle this. Lay yourself down."

Instead of laying down, I want to fight, I want to criticise myself for thinking that this was a good idea, that this would even make a difference. But I buckle and succumb to myself, like a screaming child who is upset from the lack of attention from their parent, and wants to hurt and upset their parents by making noise, yet needs their love and attention to recover and calm.

"Why overthinking?"

My mind has always been incredibly overactive. It would be climbing out of the windows of the school classrooms, running out the door at dull parties, constantly entertaining itself, constantly reviewing itself. I remember being six or so years old, and asking a classmate if she ever spoke to the voice inside her head, and receiving a very odd look in return. I didn't ask anyone about their inner voices for a good while after that, such was the confusion on her face, but I did immediately think to my six year old self "What if I ever get bored of talking to you?" "Hope you don't" I replied "I think you're stuck with me"

At present my thoughts resemble a drill somewhat. Usually, when they swirl and spiral, they're in one or another direction - a simple black and white, up or down, positive or negative. At the moment they are just going INWARD and HARD. I barely have time to process one thought before a counter argument pops up, and they aren't even on particularly worthy subjects, gone are the days when I'd ruminate on potential lovers and what they were thinking, or silly unimportant drama that I might have caught a whisper of... nope, I fight about utter meaninglessness of a completely different variety now. I fight about whether my thoughts are "right" or "wrong", whether my opinions are valid, whether I am impossibly narcissistic when I have a good thought or horribly depressive and no fun whatsoever when I have a bad one. My sense of self has just shattered, entirely, and it's like I am scurrying to connect the dots and pick up all the pieces to make something of myself by late morning so I can continue with my day without too much existential crisis looming.

I digress.

In trying to digest these thoughts, and then these patterns of thoughts forming, and then the purposelessness of thinking said thoughts, I realize I'm doing a lot of thinking and not very much "doing".

Issue 1) I have sat alone, in my apartment, in front of a computer, editing chin after chin after chin, for three days straight. When I am around people, I'm around 150+ strangers at a wedding that it's taken at least 2hours to drive to, and I'm not exactly relaxed and being my informal, often crude and inappropriate, self. Right. So this is probably contributing, not to the content of said thoughts, but to the set and setting. I mean, I've given myself the PERFECT scenario to go fucking insane.

So, answer? Finish up massive workload (yay!), schedule fun activities*
*read: go for walks, go take 365 in new places, see friends, go to the gym, go buy healthy food instead of ordering pizza, etc etc

Issue 2) My grief is changing. I recognise these weird, in-between-stages well, now. When he first died, I was flooded with one thing: Agony. It was a pretty easy emotion to process. It was just unbearable. I understood it, I could deal with it, it was shit, life was going to be shit, just bad, very very bad. In a way, because this was so easy to understand, it was easy to forgive. I didn't berate or argue with myself about feeling like that, because I understood it. What I couldn't get my head around a month later, was the weird sense of normality that had returned to daily life. I felt myself start thinking about other things surrounding his death, how my methods of grieving might be appropriate/inappropriate, or misinterpreted by people I wanted to have like me and support me. I noticed my thoughts flooding to THESE subjects, not him, and it terrified me.

That's actually when the inner arguing began. I felt like I'd had this huge surge of perspective on what was truly important - to live, to love, to notice all the small tiny wonderful details, to be grateful for them, to notice my own place in my life whenever and wherever I can, to be kind kind kind and make others' journey's easier... and here I was trying to work out whether someone I have never met approves of me or not.

I felt pathetic, but it seemed so huge.

The lack of support I received in the aftermath of losing him has really damaged me.
There, I said it.

Now, enough of that, let's work on healing that damage.

Answer? Let it go. You can't control whether what you do is right or wrong in someone else's eyes - you can only have good intentions, and I certainly have/had them. I only wanted to grieve in the way I know how, in the way that helps me. I wanted to lay out to others that life can be hard and it isn't always skipping in fields and smiling in nice hats. I wanted people to recognise what I had lost, the pain I was feeling - probably because I have some messed up need for validation but YOU KNOW WHAT, THAT'S OK! I'm human, I need support, and I deserve to be able to tell the truth about my own life and to ask for my needs to be met, especially since I'm lucky enough to have 20 odd thousand people who actually care and want to help. I felt like I was denied access to them, or at the very least shamed for wanting them.

Issue 3) I don't have all the answers

And I don't think anyone ever does. My desperate scrambling to find them seems understandable, I think we all search for purpose and meaning in our lives. I've done so for years, I find it fulfilling to learn and grow and expand myself. It used to be a very positive thing for me, these days less so.

I don't like this inner critic that I seem to have grown myself. I don't like critical, judgemental people in general. I used to stay away from them, reminding myself that people who cannot be empathetic or compassionate are probably unhappy, and that I should not take their opinions about myself as The Truth. But you cannot take anything as truth, and then I fight and say "But their opinions ARE valid, they need understanding, they need love, they need what you need."

Then I bow my head, and the sadness sweeps in.

There we have it. I needed support and understanding, I got silence and it wasn't an enjoyable experience.
But now I have to let it go.
I have to let all these thoughts go.
I promised him I would be OK, he said it with such worry in his voice:
"I don't want this to fuck you up. I don't want to hurt you."

I would like to howl from the tops of the rooftops that you never hurt me. You gave me all the sweetness and light I could taste. I am OK, I will be OK, and I love you, I love you, I love you. How could it be any other way?