(please post a comment naming what you’ve done/are doing to survive.)
(i’m thinking of turning the results into a one-big-collaboration piece, just let me know if you don’t want me to include your contribution/name.)
X O X O X O X
Forgave myself. Quit smoking. Stopped taking it personally. Let it go.
Stopped blaming other people for my problems. Took responsibility for my own life. Chose to live. Made friends with myself. Forgave my parents. Made a habit of working out. Learned how to build fires without matches. Taught myself to ask questions. Opened myself up to receiving mentorship. Learned to distinguish drama from passion. Opened myself up to receive the journey. Sharpened my knife. Ate more leafy greens. Pullups and pushups.
Elevators are places to say hello. Partitions are ours and we can move them. Heterosexism is harder for people to grasp than Homophobia–but people can understand it. It’s important to realize some of our rules for living are only ours and thus can be __.
got sober and am staying sober; forgive; find my most compassionate places and roll around in there as much as i can; play; fuck; laugh my ass off; cry my heart out; call someone when i need help / be there when others need help; dont be so ashamed of feeling; constantly remember what Inga Muscio said: “Only through the state of being present can one take joy, and it is impossible to be present in this environment that is called the world without being a heartbroken loser. So get it the fuck on.”
I was cracked open, more cracked that I ever thought I could be. Cracking, breaking, snapping. In that opening, that wide expansive opening, I learned to trust. I let the voices of sweet friends and sweet lovers and sweet children and sweet Mother Earth fill those aching crevices. My wounds healed into scars that reminded me that “I am my own healer. I am my own warrior. I am my own savior.”
a good question, f.
to survive, to get through it, and how? and do you ever get through?
i think about the people and the places you write about (and the places i’ve been and the people i’ve seen there) and i wonder
is it a firstworld gift? where we can sink to the bottom, find the bottom, and we can still push up off it. that there is a bottom there to be found at all.
or are these firstworld injuries? that feel so real and yet can be patched up so easily with a surf, a cup of hot tea, yoga, companionship, inner strength, mango sticky rice, and the passage of time.
hard to say. hard to give myself permission to feel my small things. must try not to discredit them and repress. but the tendency (mine) is to focus on the next lines of the story, try to write them well and wait for them. daydreaming.
and in the dirty lines of now, the gritty transitions from a hard story to the next hopefully prettier one, i try to fill up with concrete details: violas in the sidewalk cracks, a plastic dinosaur in a doll’s calico apron, k’s hand on my head, green garlic shoots, rain lines on the windows.
collecting, like what you do here.
Here’s an excerpt of a piece of writing I did in Costa Rica, which immediately came to mind when I read your question. I’m excited to see how this project come’s together.
I’m walking to work at about 7:30 am, the same way I’ve been walking for most of the two months I’ve been here. San Jose, Costa Rica is not a beautiful city, at least not in the classic sense. There are old neighborhoods with narrow, winding streets and bougainvillea pouring out of colonial verandahs at the heart of the city, but they are surrounded by kilometers of low boxy buildings, most of which seem to date back no further than the 50s. As I walk through an eastern suburb, I look out at the rolling hills of cement, tin-roofed, faded-pastel, single-story houses leading to the mountainous horizons that surround me. To keep myself in the present, so that I don’t get anxious about my long-distance relationship or begin counting the weeks (16 remain) until I finish this internship and go home, I usually focus my attention on the details.
The houses form an un-broken bank of walls and bars. I look at the way the drab green paint on one house is peeling and revealing an older layer of pink and the way the peach color of the next house contrasts the green where they meet. I notice pencil-like lines on the stucco-textured, mauve building that I pass—roughly parallel scratches, like someone has walked by there, absent-mindedly running their keys along the wall every day for years. Moss is growing like velvet between the cracks in the sidewalk, and it appears to be eating them alive. I look down habitually because the sidewalks are still slippery from last night’s rain.
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I started dating Ryan. Seriously!
Started swimming and training for making an attempt to swim the English channel. Started connecting to my food and began cooking two meals a day. Wrote pages and pages of fairly mediocre poetry. Began participating in activism I actually wanted to do, not just the cool cred activism. Started writing essays and workshops about my oppression and giving them at every opportunity.
At some point for me there was no thing actually pulling me through life, it was just not being willing to stop it. Or not being courageous enough or cowardly enough to stop it. I’m not sure which way that should be. I think maybe though, yes, some incredible act of cowardice on my part just maybe kept me around long enough to find good things. I think it’s meeting people like you, Frankie. And people like Taylor. And people like Kyle Martindale. People like Anabel. They love me. I love them. It’s holding animals. It’s having a dog adore me unquestionably. It’s having a mother adore me unquestionably. It’s something like a nephew, how he runs to me in an open yard. It’s pouring hydrogen peroxide in my ears to clean them, just how good it feels. It’s my grandfather’s skin. It’s my father, Donald, drinking to much because he was sad. He was sad and I only know it now and he’s dead and I’m wise enough now to know it. It’s my grandfather calling my nephew Little Donald and then, later, Little Ryan. It’s telling my mom my head itches so she becomes afraid I have lice and has to comb her fingers through my hair. It’s holding a dog covered in flees, he’s bleeding, into a bath tub that turns brown and that trauma somehow in the end is beautiful. It’s the hail storm in San Diego. It’s the woman on the trolley that tells me I have green eyes and that her mother has green eyes and her brother has green eyes and her daughter has green eyes but she does not have green eyes and shrugs. It’s the young girl on the bus that folds origami and hands little cranes to the people in the wheel chairs and gives me a paper rose. It’s other people’s families taking me into their home and making me a birthday cake on my birthday. It’s Alexis Monroy, a high school acquaintance, just acquaintance, giving me a job on the spot just because I said I needed it and he trusted me. It’s the passage of time if you’re doing it right. It’s doing terrible things to myself and to other people and getting over it and forgiving myself for it all. It’s trusting myself, that I’m good enough or have enough good people loving me, that no matter what I do or don’t do, I or someone else will pick me up again. Things will be okay. They’ve always ended up being okay. It takes who knows how long, 26 years for me, to remember this. And sometimes I will forget but that’s okay too. It was so hard. I was so sad I cried. I was so sad I didn’t cry. There is nothing to be though. I just keep going and I think now that’s good enough.
Sigh, thank you
buckled down, looked inside myself for answers. gritted my teeth and willed myself to keep going. dared my body to push forward, to keep moving my feet, to find the hole that would help me break through my own grief and turn out on the other side.
Appreciated the doors that opened up for me. Thought it good and tried to sit in a different good when unexpected people appreciated me. Read classics. Took walks. Hung out with kids. Studied astronomy. Jacked off. Like alot of people: forgave, forgive, let it unravel ridiculously and ugly.
On drinking and getting over a rough childhood: aka turning into an accountable adult. I gave up trying to control it. I let others in. I quit taking myself so seriously. I found a spiritual practice that I created myself- and trust. I put a halt on people taking advantage of me- and I learned how to love myself in the process. I now include others in my process. I help whenever/wherever I can and give back. I stay aware of my space that I share. Reality is shared with two or more people- in that my brain creates bigger problems that my circumstances do- I check in to stay aligned. I understand we will never share an experience in the same way. I trust we are all doing the best with what we have at any given moment. I forgive. I set goals and ask for help. I make mental health all encompassing. I eat healthier and exercise. I stay open and say yes to new experiences and keep my brain active- for a more dynamic, full life. I practice the art of compromise and humility. I recognize my faults are areas to work on, change over time. I have patience now and don’t need to be reactionary and my anxiety levels have nearly vanished. I ultimately trust that I will be taken care of no matter what. Ooh, most importantly, I have a cat, I stay young, I stay grateful, I have fun and smile.
forgave myself,started to learn to love my body and myself, quit using drugs, go to therapy every week yes even though ive been going every week for 6 years, wrote a letter and sent it to my rapist, forgave my parents, learned to breathe, taken my meds everyday, learned about unconditional love from my dog, tried hard not to beat myself up for the mistakes ive made, and the mistakes ive made over and over again, let myself love others over and over again even though sometimes it hurts so goddamn much, let go of the notion that I had to be “cool”, being excited about growing older each year, continue everyday to work with people who need help, and teach myself to be more confident everyday that yes I can do this, that I am not dumb like I so believed so much growing up and all through my 20’s, Surrounded myself with folks who love the shit outta me just as I love them
this is just a short list
There is no thing called love no thing called hate there is no you there is no me there is no language there are only words and there is no good where there is no bad there is no getting through or getting away or getting past when there is only this and this is good and this is bad and this is beautiful and this is ugly and I am grateful and I am ungrateful and if I pay attention and if I open my eyes or if I close them I will just be here and I will be you and you will be me and we will be no one and we will be everyone and there will be nothing and there will be everything and this will begin where it ends.
how i got through:
double sided razor blades / blood rising from skin. siouxsie and the banshees, nine inch nails, tori amos. joolie and davey and the bud-lings of chosen family. a little blue car that took us far from our small suburb. raves and dancefloors . cigarettes. afterdark outdoor basketball, nirvana on the radio. shaver and hair dye. lip piercing in the bathroom of a 24 hour diner. thunderstorms. feet out the passenger window. george webb’s. high school choir and musicals. writing, writing always writing.
how i get through:
running along yellow-sand canyons. walks around the block. body in saltwater. ridiculous pop music: whip my hair (willow smith), the show goes on (lupe fiasco), beyonce. a guitar and stolen songs, which is kindof like deep breaths which is also an option. postcards/letters in the mailbox (incoming and outgoing). 25 gauge needles. hours in the garden, dirt under fingers. chosen family. anything that pulls me out of the smallness my life can sometimes fall into (which includes views from tall points, bus rides, riding my bike places i’ve never been). collaborations of various kinds. co-counseling. acupuncture/massage. downward dog, chair pose and plank. cooking/baking. the details, if i can come up through the layers to take them in, the details. hot queer dance floors. hot queer family. (see: chosen family). hot queer yes/no lists and the nights that follow. art made by people i know and sometimes people i don’t. every encouraging word anyone has ever said. sun on skin. forest. ocean. train whistle. stars. sky. writing, writing still writing.
i will always be there to hold yr laughing head on the bathroom floor
it was YOUR head I was holding!!! (for nose-piercing!) but we have switched back and forth so many times (i hold you, you hold me), that my correction is mostly irrelevant. and likewise. let’s meet on the bathroom floor anytime. X O X O X O X
remembering i have my whole life to do this, the becoming – becoming more human each day, shedding, shedding presumptions of myself, embracing the ugliness and the fear. returning to my blood with humility and being received with open arms. the unwavering love of my furry ball and chain. the continuously molting, startling, revelatory relationship i have with the Wifey (yes, capital W).
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