I’m supposed to write about love. More specifically, I’m supposed to write about loving myself, but I don’t have any words to offer.
This isn’t true. There are several stories I am running in circles trying to tell. Some overlap. Other’s have dwelled, beaten about so long in my mind, they’ve transmogrified into some unrecognizable thing.
One of these stories is rooted in the place I call home. I want to tell you about the people from here. I want to tell you about the birds and the trees. I want to tell you about the people who arrive and pass through here. About the people who arrive and make a home, and about the people who leave on a quest for escape, only to find themselves on a journey of return.
This is a story full of rage. It is magical, too. A desperately angry, magical story about collective anguish and struggle, some of the most unfortunate circumstances for love, but ones in which the greatest kinds of love are often most persistent.
“Goodbye, Great kiskadee, and so long to the cypress…”
Someone once asked me, “how did you become YOU?” They spoke of me like magic. I responded, rather matter of factly – “through a lot of tears.” I suppose I could write about that, too. I could speak of what it’s like to be witnessed by others in ways we don’t always witness ourselves.
Another story is also angry. It dives, with dutiful conviction, into memories of shame, and ugliness, and fear. It wants to return there, to ransack everything, to find and take only what is worth keeping.
I could write about the brother I don’t speak to. Or, about the last job I was fired from. I could tell you how after being fired, I was very intentional about doing absolutely nothing for almost three years. How I turned down job offers, and avoided any serious efforts of a job search. How instead, I waited. I learned to listen to myself, to give in to my desires, and to honor my intuition. There’s a lesson in all of that about boundaries as a commitment to loving ourselves.
I want to write a story about chosen families. I want to tell you about falling in love with all of my friends. There’s something in there about learning to love myself.
“We are like mirrors, In each other, find ourselves. What curious eyes.”
Another story calls me to speak about prayer.
“Do you remember the scent of pews prayed into real good? How the sweat and tears secreted in prayer seem to swell into the grain of wood?”
There’s a testament to self love here, too. Something about mourning the child who prayed humbly, while holding compassion for the adult who prays hopelessly.
“Can’t you see? A humble prayer, and a hopeless prayer, are one in the same – a prayer for nothing but prayer’s sake.”
I suppose I could write about depression. I could tell you what it’s like to live life inside a cloud. I could tell you how depression fucks with your body, with your memory, and with your sense of time.
“Where go the hours, and where go the days? And where goes my mind, when my mind drifts away?”
I wrote these questions to myself years ago, but I’ve never managed to arrive at any sorts of answers. I don’t know where I go, only that I’m gone.
I could write about trying to love myself through this. I could tell you how I’ve learned to nurture myself through the darkness, with music, and nature, and poetry. I could tell you how I learned to make space for the monsters and gremlins inside me, how I no longer run from them, but meet them with compassion, instead.
“I’ve grown accustomed to the ways the world opens up to swallow me whole.”
I suppose, if I’m being honest with you and with myself, none of these stories seem to take shape on the page, because they are being written by a dishonest poet.
“I write half-truths and lies. Anything honest is masked and disguised, or left off the page entirely.”
I can’t write about loving myself, or about anything for that matter, because I’m reluctant to confront the realities of my life, and to make sense of the things I am thinking and feeling. I lack the courage to express with an honesty that cannot be misunderstood or misinterpreted by anyone, even me. I am reluctant to explore and tell you about my worries, my fears, my insecurities. I don’t want to dig through the rubble of my shortcomings and regrets. I don’t want to revisit my loss or make a home in my wounds. I can’t tell you about my desires, about my dreams, about everyone and everything I love, because I don’t feel able to express to you, or to me, truthfully, who I am.
But my persistence to the page is a practice of persistence to myself. My writing is a selfish discipline. I write to make sense of my experiences, to find some sort of peace or understanding in a world that often feels like never ending tumultuousness. I write to come to terms with my truths. Some days, I pick at the scabs, and other days, I write to mend wounds. Sometimes, I write to celebrate the things and people that give me hope. I write to express joy, to explore my dreams and desires, to confess my love for the people I encounter, and the communities I belong to.
This is who I am, and this is how I love me – I’m a jumble of words, a collection of stories, falling apart and coming together all at once, in bits and pieces…en pedacitos.