Life-changing Strangers

The thousand words. Ah, the thousand words. Your stories are figs and you don’t know which one to eat. Eat your words. Pick a fig and write about it. There is a treasure of a story inside you that you need time and love to tell. You don’t tell many people about her.

I was walking down a street in India, tired and sensitive after staying up night with the boy with the golden eyes. We were talking in the waterfall way we never stopped talking in, when we walked past an old beggar woman sitting on the high pavement. I didn’t stop immediately. It is impossible to stop for everyone, so I wait for the tug. And with her, I feel it. Some force pulling me back.

She was very thin, just bones, with dry, dark brown skin, white hair in a bun, and eyes blue from cataracts. I  bent down towards and handed her 70 rupees. I smiled. She smiled and gripped my hands. Her eyes teared up. I could feel myself getting emotional and the shock made me pull back. I slipped my hands out of hers and walked off, silent and shaken.

We sat at a cafe trying to decide what to do that night. I had just booked a ticket to Bangalore but I was exhausted and sensitive and was doubting my abilities to navigate a new city in my state. I decided to stay in Pondicherry, to stay with the boy with the golden eyes. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this woman. I obsessed about how to help her for the next two hours. The boy with the golden eyes didn’t complain.

Later hat afternoon, I stopped at a street cart and bought a bunch of samosas. She was sitting in the same place. I sat down next to her. When she saw me, she eyes welled up and she reached for me. I gave her the food and some more money. She held my face. We wrapped our arms around each other. She was such a bony thing, a bony ebony old thing, but she was so strong. We kept smiling and nodding, saying, I suppose, thinking about it in hindsight, that we understood each other. The simplest way I can describe it is to say that we loved each other. Even now, writing this, I can feel her love, feel the way we were drawn to each other. There was something there. I had to wrench myself free in the end. It was too much for me. I was selfish. I walked away and I looked back once.

The boy with the golden eyes and I (I mixed up the eye and the i, just like he did with the movie in Sydney two months later) talked about it in bed later. He said, “Certaintly, you’ve had an effect on her, because you’ve given her food and money and love. But she’s given you something more.”

And he was right. I went back to see her again the next day. And it was the same tearful embrace. That time I walked away and I couldn’t look back.

cognitive kaleidoscope

  • when it’s raining and you’re blue, listen to aretha franklin
  • you know your jeans are too tight when they leave bruises
  • “the tragedy is that we don’t know it’s a comedy. the comedy is that we are tragic.”
  • i’ve never regretted moving/going/leaving (i wish i had strength to leave more often, especially people)
  • dermatographism–what a beautiful word for such an ugly thing
  • “have you ever considered that maybe you are just a loner?”
  • we do not notice the obvious (but the obvious is subjective)
  • even in my dreams he pushes me away. he does not want to make peace with me. but i don’t think i need it anymore.
  • i want to be with someone the way i am when i’m alone
  • “it’s not that i’m never lonely, just that i don’t really notice it anymore.”
    “that’s very sad”
  • we have this problem. we inherited it from our father: we are unsettled souls
  • “maybe my anxiety is a sign that i don’t deserve love yet
    “that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said”
  • i remembered yesterday, that soon after we got together he prophesised: “we’re going to break each other’s hearts, aren’t we?”
  • a strange feeling, to realise your youth is behind you. you’ve been young all your life, and suddenly you’re almost not.
  • i am very good at surviving, but i don’t know how good i am at healing
  • life is one long grieving process
  • one can lose loneliness through reading
  • it was refreshing, to meet another who understood what i meant when i said i go through life alone
  • don’t fucking insinuate i don’t know how to be alone. i do my groceries alone. i sleep alone. i am home alone. i cry alone. i do not have a next-of-kin. i am happy alone. i am allowed to overdose on too much aloneness. symptoms? melancholia and fear. cure: tears, time and self-love
  • i have recently started praying

We Are Like Time and Other Things I’ve Got on My Mind

He asked me what I did and I said I didn’t know. He said I had plenty of time to decide. I said I’d been here too many times before.

I would like to play a game in a circle of friends, in which everyone writes down what they love and hate about themselves on a piece of paper, and then what they love about everyone else. I would like to see the surprised faces.

Just when I’m feeling like an ugly itchy sweater, someone I kind of knew a long time ago messages me with an article from the New Yorker. Thought of you! The truth is you never know who is thinking about you or how others think about you. The truth is that the more I see myself through my friends’ eyes, the more I like  myself.

It occurred to me the other day, how ironic it is that I miss who I used to be, seeing as I did everything I could not to be her. It makes me sad. Maybe I wasn’t so bad after all. But I’ve already changed. And you can only change into something else, never into what you were, because you can’t unknow or unsee of unfeel. We are like time.

The more comfortable I get with my body, the fatter I get. It still feels wrong. I still have dreams of thinness.

I look at photos taken in my early twenties and I look so slim and fresh and sweet and I wonder what the hell I hated so much.

My desires are splitting me in half. My life is King Solomon and the baby with the baby going to neither mother. Half of me wants to get a charming little apartment and my own plates and to frequent antique markets and to get a cushy 9-to-5 and play trivia on Mondays. That half wants a local bar and a group of friends who all know each other. It is tired of dating and just wants to meet a good, charming, funny man with whom to bicker. It wants a manicurist who knows me by name and a cupboard stock-full of spices. It wants to stop scrimping all the fucking time. Even as I write this, I am convinced that this is what I want, for sure, no doubt, 100%.

And yet.

There is the other half that remembers how free I felt in India. How being on the road is when I feel most comfortable with myself. There is the half that thinks getting a manicure is irresponsible when there are people who don’t have enough to eat. That half of me that doesn’t want to live for the weekend or be trapped by owning things. It wants to fight the traditional definition of success, make a career out of wholesomeness and soulfulness. It wants to let go of materialism, to roll up its sleeves and help in a real way, not just by boycotting companies that test on animals or posting articles about sexism on Facebook. That half doesn’t think it’s lived in enough countries or had enough love affairs. Even as I write this, I am convinced that this is what I want, for sure, no doubt, 100%.

The thing is, the best I will ever have is an almost home. Everyone always talks about how exquisite and exotic it is to go to international school and have lives and friends all over the world. I rose-tint that life myself. I boast that my best friends live in Athens, London and Budapest. I joke about being a nomad. I excuse my lack of commitment in career and relationship. But no one talks about how to be international is to be alone. No one talks about the grief in the understanding that no matter where you live, most of your favourite people will be somewhere else. No one talks about how you’re always going to be missing out something. No one talks about how you leave a little bit of home everywhere you move so that, eventually, you don’t know where home actually is. And so you just keep on moving, keep finding new people to love and miss so you don’t have to think about how you already love and miss, keep haha-ing about having too much air inside you.

Somehow I know I will never be lonely again. Maybe I hit capacity in my twenties.

Current mantras: I am safe. I am loved. I am powerful.

I feel better than I did when I started writing this post.

& Other (a library of thoughts)

Logical Men Always Break Your Heart & Other Women’s Wise Words

Why do you always date selfish men?

There is no shame in asking someone to love you. Pride is how you pick yourself up afterwards.

You were not wrong to trust what you had. He was wrong to break that trust.

How Are You Still Single & Other Idiotic Things Guys Have Said While Breaking Up with Me

You were an experiment.

I’m not good enough for you.

This is awkward but…I forgot my wallet.

I thought I could marry you. I still think that’s true.

I think about you too much and it’s distracting me from the rest of my life.

You are by the far the easiest person I could have fallen in love with. But I couldn’t let that happen.

Our Capacity to Love May Be Infinite, but Our Capacity for Heartbreak is Not & Other Life Lessons I Learnt at 30

Love is something that happens to other people.

My heart is so full of hurt that there is no space for more. I can no longer be hurt.

It only gets harder to believe that the world is not actively trying to make me bitter.

Boys are always falling in love with me. And leaving before they have to love me.

All the ugly endings have beaten up all the butterflies of beginnings and so I have zero desire to date.

I have doubted every man that’s ever loved me. Even the ones that did. Even the first.

It seems I forget rather than forgive, by letting layers of life muffle the pain (but every time I remember, I hurt).

The More I Live, the Less I Feel & Other Bitter Truths

I live in a near-perpetual state of grief.

I grieve for innocence, for hope.

If feelings were muscles, mine would be raw with abuse.

I am almost always alone. That does something to a person.

It is easier to believe that I’ll never be loved than to believe that one day I’ll meet a man who isn’t horrifyingly disappointing.

Life gets smaller as I get older. That is a good thing.

Life has extinguished a light in me and I do not know how to turn it back on.

I have already lived so many lives and none of it seems real except for the chapter I am living, and as soon as it is in the past, it is as foreign and distinct to me as fiction.

Life does not get less painful, but you do get better at dealing with it.

You can be terribly sad and okay at the same time.

 

 

 

point a to point b

wake up so softly that you can’t tell when sleeping ceased and consciousness seeped in. don’t be surprised that you are okay. do be surprised to find a message from him on your phone asking where he can buy kale. realise maybe he needed you more than you needed him. he needed to realise he wanted kale in his life. write back. then let it go. don’t tell him you’re letting him go. don’t tell him it’s not because he’s not worth holding onto. that confessional urge has dissolved. you know that this is part of being a woman. you do not need to prove that you are okay.  tell him without telling him that you’re sorry you’re okay. it’s not him. he is good and beautiful and you could have loved him deeply, but you’ve explored every back alley of the alphabet and you know your way from point a to point z off by heart. you get where you’re going much faster if you know where you’re going and you’ve got no space in your life for someone who doesn’t want you.

you are the sofia. accept it. this is an excruciating role but it is crucial. excruciation is crucial (look at the letters). you are the one that makes them need kale. you are the teacher. you are the one that dies. and this is a gift. you wouldn’t be this person if you couldn’t take it.

GENDER: Feminine
OTHER SCRIPTS: Σοφια (Greek)
PRONOUNCED: so-FEE-ə (English), so-FIE-ə (British English), zo-FEE-ah (German)  
Sofia is a female name derived from σοφία, the Greek word for “Wisdom”. The name was used to represent the personification of wisdom.

this is what happened.

he came and the two of you stayed in bed for twenty-four hours. somewhere near the beginning you started talking and somehow you broke up. but still, you both stayed in bed for the whole twenty-four hours, fused, even when you cried, and when your bodies unravelled in sleep, he grabbed you. you watched a movie that rattled both of you in different ways. you kept saying, i’m the sofia. i’m the one that dies. in the morning he said, i don’t want to stop holding you. and you were confused again because this isn’t the first time a man has held you with one arm and pushed with the other.

you called a friend (those lifelines are unconditional and infinite) because you were wild with hurt and you were worried you’d start weeping on the tram. you said i’m not even tired of this happening. that’s how many times it’s happened. you saidbut i am so tired of falling in love, always soclose but never really in it. always allowed to dip my feet into lakes of love, just enough to remind me what it’s like to be drenched with intimacy, and then i’m back on dry land, alone, with all these holes where people used to be. 

you wanted to have a tantrum. you wanted to say, but you told me i had a reason to stand still! don’t. instead you said, how was your flight? oh you made a new friend? how lovely. you didn’t say, i took a shower but i still smell like you. i brushed my teeth but i can still taste you. i’ve stripped the bed, but making it overwhelms me and the notion of a naked mattress doesn’t horrify me right now (there is almost a perverted pleasure in sinking to such despair).

but maybe he is too young to know about the frenzied kind of grief that has you crying until you throw up. i know you, he said. you will try to find a way to blame yourself for this, the way you’ve done with everything else. but i won’t let you this time. this isn’t happening because of you. you hated him for saying the right thing when you were trying so hard to hate him. you said, i hate you so softly that it sounded like love. you didn’t ask him if he knew what it’s like not to want to exist. you didn’t admit you know why people want to kill themselves and it’s not because they want to die but because they don’t want to exist and you know that dying and not existing are not the same thing. he knows this about you.

you stood in front of the mirror and burst into tears, your eyes bulging slits, your cheeks pink and hard, your mouth bending ugly, saying again and again, i don’t deserve this. later, you wailed under the naked duvet, grateful that tears aren’t countable because the number would scare you.

you didn’t turn off anything, the laptop, the light, because you were afraid of being engulfed by grief in the dark. you tried not to try not to think about it because the trying gets you thinking about it. remember telling him, there is not a single consistent man in my life; only the women stay.

then you reminded yourself to trust the universe. you didn’t hate yourself when that trust didn’t make it hurt any less. you didn’t hate yourself at all. remember him saying, it’s difficult to like someone who doesn’t like themselves, and you were confused (maybe you’re not quite there yet).

the thing is, you do trust that you can handle everything life gives you. trust life. acceptance eases much suffering. yesterday the shock bred pain. but if you trust life, if you trust that every disappointment is a necessary pebble in the mosaic of you life, then you don’t need to suffer. everything that happens to you is for the better. pain is inevitable. accept. let go. flow.

hold on tightly, let go lightly.

obstacles are just pebbles for your mosaic. every x is  pebble. wisdom is seeing someone as a pebble instead of the whole mosaic. you are the mosaic. you are the sofia.

Annual Questionnaire 2014

What was 2014 for you?

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I said no a lot. I went to Germany. I disagreed with my mother and didn’t feel guilty about it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t abide by New Year’s resolutions anymore. Each year is a chapter in the same book and I want there to be coherent resolutions throughout. While it’s useful to have the opportunity of a symbolic fresh start, I reject relying on a change of numbers to inspire me to progress my life. I want to be consistently inspired throughout the year. I have four focuses at the moment: travel, writing, learn French and meditate (mind and body).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not close to me, but my peers are popping out babies like popcorn.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. But funnily enough, the older you get, the more deaths you hear of.

5. What countries did you visit?

Bali, Greece and Germany.

Last Christmas, my Balinese lover invited me to visit him again. My ex had just broken up with me so it was perfect timing. I had a wonderful time. My lover was a funny, stormy, affectionate, immature distraction. We held hands everywhere. We bickered over cards. We had an impressive three fights over eleven days. He took me to his father’s village where we stayed in a bungalow overlooking the jungle. He took me to see his land with the rice-fields and warm-water spring and albino horse. We spent serene days at the beach drinking coconuts and comparing tans. I found out I was the first woman he’d brought home, the first woman he’d showered with, the first woman for a number of things. On the night I left, we didn’t talk much. At the airport he said, “I already got used to your smell.” He hasn’t spoken to me since.

I went home to Greece for the first time since I left in March 2012. All I did was hang out with my best friends (who flew in from England and Hungary to see me) and go to the beach. In hindsight, I didn’t let myself be free. I think I didn’t want to enjoy myself too much because I knew it would make it harder to leave. But god, I love my city. Athens is electric and soulful. I love the sun, my salty hair, the wine on the balcony. Days at the beach doing crosswords. I wish I’d caught up with more people but maybe I nibbled on what I knew I could handle. When you leave a place, everyone else goes on. My life in Greece has continued all this time without me, while I live another life here, and thinking about all the lives you’re not living is unpleasant to swallow. But I suppose that without limitations, we would not understand value.

You can read about Berlin here.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Honestly? Sex. I am not a casual person at all, not physically, not emotionally, nothing-ally. And I no longer force myself to pretend that sex is no big deal. It is not cool for a woman to be serious about sex these days.  It has taken me years to realise (admit) this but sex is not just sex for me. Being blase with my body does not make me feel empowered. I don’t waste my time with people who don’t nourish me, so why would I waste my body on them? I do not need to be in a relationship to do it. But I need intimacy. I need a raw connection, I need chemistry. I need to know that it means something to both of us, even if it’s just for one night. I am not often attracted to people and I have wondered if maybe I’ve just not a super-sexual person. But actually it’s just that the formula behind my attraction is complicated. It’s not a moral issue; if there is no emotional connection there, my body just doesn’t respond. But mental chemistry is rare and so, unfortunately, my body is often thirsty. There are men I wish I had never let touch me. But at the same time I would love to meet more men I’d let touch me.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

March 4th, when I went to Bali.

April 13th, when I found out my parents are separated (surprise!).

Urgh, all this remembering is making me tired.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Spending hundreds of hours working on my thesis. Not letting myself be overwhelmed by the pain of heartbreak and other disappointments. Keeping positive, just keep going. Learning to like myself.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Being kind to my ex even though he keeps kept finding ways to break my heart. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to tell them to fuck off. Fucking up my grades in final semester.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I think I got a cold in September.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A ticket to motherfracking India. And shoes. Now that I think about it, I bought a lot of shoes.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

All the goddesses in my life. My mother, for her strength and wit and perseverance. Her friends, for showing me how friendship should be done. My friends, Nadia, Zsuzsa, Zari, Eleni, for their constant assured thereness. My Melbourne girls: Casey, for her sweet wisdom; Danae, for supporting me even when she doesn’t agree with what I’m doing; Rachel and Lauren, for being my other sisters; Alice, for the nights we sat on my balcony and got drunk and cried over boys. My Melbourne boys, David and Richard, for never judging my vulnerability and being there for me in little ways…like giving me beer. Yodhan, for never judging me, always being there, and telling me to go to India.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

My father’s. And my ex’s. For being selfish, narcissistic cowards.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Travel. Coffee.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Bali. My mother. Sydney. Lentil as Anything. Greece. Finishing my thesis. New friends. India.

16. What song will always remind of you 2014?

Get Lucky by Daft Punk

Losing You by Solange Knowles

At the Hotel by Eunice Collins

Prayer in C by Lilly Wood & The Prick and Robin Schulz

Blank Space by Taylor Swift (don’t judge me!)

711 and Grown Woman by Beyonce

Quelqu’un me dit by Carla Bruni

17. Compared to this time last year, are:

a)happier or sadder? 

b)thinner or fatter? 

c) richer or poorer?

Happier.
Fatter.
Richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I’d danced and laughed more. I wish I’d had more people to talk to. I wish I’d written more. But, you know, I did the best I could and so I am satisfied.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I suppose I could have cried less. I cried a lot.

Let me rephrase: I wish I’d cried less over my ex. I regret having suffered so over someone who maybe love me deeply but clearly does not care about me (yes, there is a difference). He is not who I thought he was and I am so much more than I thought I was. In short: I overestimated him and underestimated myself. And acknowledging both truths is a challenge. Perhaps the bitterness of breaking up derives from the realisation that your love was frightfully ricketty and ordinary. On my stronger days,I am grateful for my capacity to love. It has taken me a year of crying and yearning and missing and wondering to begin recovering from this relationship. On my weaker days, this makes me feel pathetic– how foolish to weep so many nights over someone who values me so little he doesn’t even want to talk me*. But I’d like to think that there some people that appreciate this about me. Boy, do I love hard.

I wish I’d watched less tv shows too.

*What is it with men not wanting to talk to me this year? As if I am a fire that they sat too close to and now they afraid they will get burnt. Or maybe my twenties has zapped my bite and now I am a dull, ordinary woman that they find easy to leave behind. I miss my electric, impetuous, immature, emotional, intense, obnoxioux young self.

20. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Yes. I embarked on the most important love-affair of my life: I fell in love with myself. But the more I like myself, the less compulsion I have to entertain and the less people are drawn to me, and then I get sad. It’s a very confusing circle.

21. What was your favourite TV program?

The Mindy Project got me through the dark days of my thesis. Brooklyn Nine-Nine. True Detective. I finally watched Community. And they cancelled it? What the hell?!

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Kind of. I’m on the border of not caring about/not hating my ex.

And I don’t know whether it’s age or bitterness from hardships, but I find myself becoming increasingly misanthropic.

23. What was the best book you read? 

The Silver Metal Love by Tanith Lee! I am currently reading Answered Prayers by Truman Capote and it’s witty and pretty terrific. But by far the best thing I read was The Other Woman by Lorrie Moore.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Beyonce. I know, I know, I’m late to the game.

25. What did you want and get?

A job at H&M where I have met so many lovely people and have laughed a lot and been appreciated and made lots and lots of dineros. I wanted to find a snazzy place to live with groovy people and I did. I wanted lots of things and I got them, I don’t know, man.

26. What did you want and not get?

I wanted M back but I didn’t get him. But now I don’t want him so I guess that all worked out okay. I wanted closure and I didn’t get it. At least, not from him. Sometimes it’s not about letting go of things, but getting used to not having them. Maybe that’s the same thing.

I wanted to feel like I belong and I still don’t. I’ve never consistently felt part of anything so I am beginning to think that loneliness is a perspective rather than a reality. I suspect I will always be a lonely person. And because of that I am forced to face myself, forced to like myself, which may be the good to come of this. But god I’d love to feel part of somewhere. I want, when asked for an emergency contact, not to hesitate and consider whom I’d inconvenience least.

27. What was your favourite film of this year?

I don’t watch many films. Probably Third Person.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I invited everyone I knew to a beer garden. I ended up spending five minutes with everyone and not much time with anyone. it was a lot of fun though. I took the Twinkie home. I made him stir-fry and we made out a lot.

29. How you would describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Feminine, womanly, preppy, bohemian.

30. What kept you sane?

I did, through perseverance and meditation. .

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Meh.

32. Who did you miss?

I miss everyone all the time. If I let myself think about, I’m exhausted from missing people (the ugly side of the nomadic life). Sometimes when they’re next to me.

33. Who was the best new person you met?

George: the male, rugged, gay version of me who says things I don’t even realise I think.

34. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Everything is temporary.

You can’t rely on anyone but yourself, and sometimes not even that.

It is harder to stay soft than to harden.

Endings don’t always some with a bow.

Most of all, sometimes life is shitty. It doesn’t mean it’s fair or easy or right. It’s just the way it is. But really, what else do we expect? How can life be constantly smooth? That’s irrational. And as soon as you accept the shittiness, the suffering eases.

35. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“But please don’t cry, dry your eyes, never let up
Forgive but don’t forget, girl keep your head up
And when he tells you you ain’t nothin’ don’t believe him
And if he can’t learn to love you you should leave him
Cause sista you don’t need him”

–Tupac

Just Get Through

At first you told yourself that all you had to do was get through Christmas, your birthday, just get through summer, and you’ll be fine. But your thesis was about him, so you told yourself, you’re only thinking of him because of your thesis; when you finish it, you’ll be fine. And then it was, once you get to Greece for summer, you’ll be fine. And then you came back, and by then you were saying, one year, just one year; after December 16th you’ll be fine. You thought twelve months was ample time to get used to not having someone. That was naïve.

You’ve become better at taking care of yourself. When you’re feeling down, you’re extra kind. You take as many showers as you need to feel clean. You light incense. You stroke your own hair. You remind yourself that you are a decent human being. You put on red lipstick. You make yourself pretty on the outside, and usually the inside follows. But some days, you still drink in the afternoon. You still make yourself smoke to avoid eating. You still tell yourself again and again, like a vicious refrain, that he just didn’t love you enough (even if it might not be true).

You have a hard time letting go of things. You have boxes of memorabilia—tickets, notes, corks, Mentos wrappers. You have hundreds of journals. You sift through memories, cutting yourself on them again and again.

The truth is you don’t think you get over anything at all. You just let time work its magic, let life fill you up with other things, other friends and loves and experiences until there is more of them than what hurts. The truth is that you are not over him. You have just become better at forgetting to remember him.

This morning she said, “It’s just that other people are better at faking it,” and you wonder if it’s true, if other people are just as overwhelmed by loss and are just really good at not letting it spill over.

It’s something you hate and love about myself, this capacity to love. To be so familiar with heartbreak that it doesn’t deter you from loving. You love so many people and have so many people that love you. More than your share. More than him, you suspect. More than a lot of people. But somehow it is you that feels alone, you that lugs around this big bag of loss. You don’t love people less when they hurt you. You might decide not to keep them around but you never stop loving them. This is a gift, you suppose. Not everyone can love unconditionally.

Sometimes you think that maybe you’re stuck because he hasn’t let go of you either. But the truth is that some things are always unfinished. Endings don’t always sever. This whole year has been eclipsed by your energies—his and yours—ripping apart. Violent, like two dogs tearing a cat in two. You are both dogs in this situation, both aggressive with ego and fear. Sometimes you can ache for answers so badly that the unfairness of it has you clinging to hope. This can’t be how it ends. But it is. But it was.

And it doesn’t matter that you’ve changed for the better, that this break-up turned you inside out in the most remarkable way. That it taught you to love yourself. That it taught you to rely on yourself first and then on others. That it created the space for wonderful women to come into your life. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t make you happy or that you know very well he can’t be the man you need. It doesn’t matter that he is so good at breaking your heart, at finding new ways to do it, even a year later. It doesn’t matter that you value yourself now and are very aware of how much more you deserve. You can be over someone and still love them. You can move on and still love them. You can not want someone back and still love them. They can tell you that that they have nothing to say to you that they can’t be friends with you that they haven’t been in love with you for a long time (‘I thought you knew that’) and you can still love them.

In your stronger moments, you are impressed with your heart. Your vulnerable, battered, stubborn heart that loves so deeply it takes years to heal. And one day you will be over him. Just get through Christmas, your birthday, just get through summer, and you’ll be fine. (But you suspect you’ll always love him.)

Ocean of Emotion

Earlier this year, I had an eccentric lover with a romantic name that kissed like a European. We used to sit on my balcony getting drunk off wine and each other, talking about love and space and grief. We shared an immediate intimacy, and I was so grateful for it, having just gotten out of a relationship with a cold, emotionally-stunted boy. My lover was tall and wild and sensitive. On the sixth day, he told me he loved me.

He doesn’t speak to me anymore. My lovers are divided like that. Some of them have become my friends and we write to each other from time to time to say hello and I miss you, but come to think of it a lot of my lovers never want to see me again. As if they want all of me or not at all. It’s sad. I am not like that. I don’t understand why the intimacy disappears when the relationship ends; the person is still there. But I am beginning to realise that I have an exacerbated capacity to emote and, as such, have learnt not to fear feeling.

Earlier this morning, waiting for my take-away coffee, I watching people brunching in the sunshine and felt a little sorry for myself. It’s been one of those days when I need to be around people, and there are no people around. And then I thought, “I am amazing, ” and it made me tear up and smile at the same time. Because look at me, living without emotional padlocks. Letting the loneliness waft in out. Sometimes so anxious I hit myself. Sometimes so joyful I speak to strangers. Me, who cries on the floor at least once a month. Me. I do all those things all the time, and yet I am not bitter. Like Louis Armstrong, I think to myself, what a wonderful world. It’s kind of sensational to sail through storms of emotion, to have almost drowned in them so many times…and still not be scared of the ocean. Especially since I know people who don’t even dare to swim.

My January lover was like that, was like me. He suffered a lot, but he was also alive. I think he’s working on a vineyard in New Zealand now, with a girl he fell madly in love with. Sometimes people are there for you in small but pivotal ways. I hope he’s happy.

This song by Dustin O’Halloran reminds me of him.

>sistahtac<

sitting next to me on the tram there was a man that smelt like clean laundry and i almost leant my head on his shoulder, just to close my eyes for a moment, just to feel a shoulder. life is sensation but

that was an accident, but life is sensation, and sensational too

you learn not to need people and i don’t. he taught me that. he did too. there is strength in not needing people but there is comfort in knowing people are there if you need them.

this afternoon i panicked. maybe it was the dream i had about an invader in my childhood home. i think he killed someone. i don’t think it was me. maybe it was seeing my ex and realising i have no idea who i fell in love with, that he treated me terribly and i never fucking realised because he’s a good person. maybe it was because i haven’t eaten properly in two days. but it happened, i panicked. and i kept going. even though i didn’t want to. i had a long hot shower. i wore something sensual and violet. i went out and saw people that were happy to see me. i only had one glass of wine. the ride home was an inward spiral.

i am here and i am making spaghetti. i am here and i am going to eat spaghetti in bed and be okay. i am okay.

i like my shoulders.

“It’s really hard to be a rebel when you hate getting into trouble.”

“You know, I was thinking, watching Third Person… Do you ever write about me?”
And I laughed. But I thing is, I don’t. I don’t think I ever have. And that’s when I knew I wouldn’t see him again.

“Sometimes my centre is so ripe; I am of this world, but not in it.”

“I know I love myself because I’m sleeping naked again.”

“If you don’t like your face, change your eyes.”

“I must be the only person that uses yoga as an opportunity to self-punish.”

“I am so used to missing people that it almost doesn’t matter anymore.”

“The hook was hope. As if his regret was the proof I needed to believe that I am loveable.”

“Maybe we attach too much importance to external praise.”

“I think that if I could be with someone for a year, I could be with them forever.”

“Forgiveness is easy when you’re happy.”

“I mean, yes, the ones that hurt you the most are the ones you love the most. It’s inevitable. Not the ones that love you. It is you that loves them that hurts the most. But I think that their love for you is what heals you and allows you to move on from that pain. That’s when it becomes part of a stronger foundation. But when on love is not coming through to you, that pain becomes ugly. Barren. A sharp thing inside you. You can get used to it, and it can become part of your foundation. Once you pass through it, you are stronger, wiser. But I don’t think you ever really get over it. You just develop calloused fingers so it doesn’t hurt to hold it inside you anymore. This kind of pain will always exist, even when you forget to remember it. And so, yes, it is possible to never want to see someone again, even if you’ve forgive or forgotten them or both.

Some things are so traumatic to overcome. They take up so much energy and strength and perseverance to heal from, that once you’re on the other side, you can only be relieved that the door is behind you. Sometimes you are so grateful it’s over, you never want to think about it again.You will never open that door again, not even to get to the good bits.”

“We are more haunted by the those we hurt than the ones that hurt us.”

This Song is Called “I Only Think About You When I’m Sad”

Intimacy. It’s what I crave and also what terrifies me the most.

A friend says: “I’ll be friendly towards him. But if you want me to punch him in the face, I will.”

I have learnt to love from my mother and she loves like a lion. (How do lions love?)

Fear does not protect us. It is walking around a strange house at night–barefoot, blind, scared. Then sun will not come up until we’re comfortable with the darkness. Or, the sun will come up, but the night will always follow, so we must learnt to feel safe in the dark.

A friend says: “If you’re devastated, be it. There is no beauty or freedom in holding it in.”

You have to live without love, learn not to need it, in order to live with  it.

We feel better just by being with each other. I guess that’s called love.

“We have a lot of brothers we never had.”

“Asking someone to love you is listening to your heart’s desire. Pride is how you pick yourself up afterwards.”

Telling a cat nuzzling a book, “You can’t get affection from a book,” then, amending that statement…”If you can’t read.”

The key to controlling time is to think about it– or not.

We never stop loving anyone or fall out of love completely. It fades but can never disappear. Or the you that loved them gets smaller as you evolve and change. But the you that loved them will still always exist, even as a small, forgotten room in the mansion of your morphing soul

It is possible to be happy with the thought of past distress. Surviving trauma, and finding you still have the ability to laugh and love afterwards, means everything will be okay, always.

How many people have we walked by again and again in various suburbs or cities or even countries, and we just don’t know because we don’t know each other?

Sometimes we are better at playing the role of ourselves than actually being ourselves.

Lips are so much more intimate than tongues.

We cannot support equality if we do not include ourselves.

Qualities that turn me on

1. brilliance

2. generosity (of spirit, of wallet, of self)

3. power. confidence.

4. laughter (to do and induce)

5. comfort in non-conformity

6. good manners– the little things. goodness.

7.  loyalty* (this includes fidelity)

8. affection. affection. desire.

9. INTIMACY

I am a puppy with love but rarely meet people that excite me.

“I fell in love the way you fell asleep; slowly, and then all at once.” YES.

You learn not to need people.

Monochrome

it wasn’t the big blue of them that turned your lacrymal ducts into taps but
the long black words, and what happened later. even when
her skirt                flew up, you only managed a 
    lower-case smile . 

the day was glass-coloured. you breathed through pricked holes.
sucked on angst like nicotine. 
sure, you (don’t) want to know is she a better fuck?
but more, is she a better fucking writer?

 

you saw one at first, then another but you let it 
   go.

and then, like drops before the storm, pops 
of it: cars, slow downs, construction jackets, bin lids, bags,
like a series of visual pinches

that’s when you cried
on the street                in front of 
the chinese chick with Sailor Moon hair and
the boy you would have checked out on a drier afternoon.

three taxis, a banana peel, your own reflection
(well, it is the colour of sickness)
a leaflet on the floor

you stopped seeing other colours. there were no other colours. 
and it is only when you got home and saw
the fragile pinkness of your eyes that you realised
there is always everything,
no matter what you choose to see

there is a picture of you as a kid,
wearing a prison-striped t-shirt that you loved.
and you remember 
that the collar was yellow.

and you fucking hated yellow.

 

a title (or sad on a sunny day)

i get epiphanies at unassuming moments. i was reaching for…something…at the supermarket. that was one, though i don’t remember which

but here are some:

i am very hard on myself. when i am glum, my mind abuses me. though perhaps, now in a saner mindspace, it is not wrong to do so. i suspect that one of the reasons i suffer so (this is no longer debatable) is because of some kind of human-value privilege. that is to say, the ego is constantly indignant that someone like me should suffer so. and what does my ego mean ‘someone like me’? the truth is that somewhere deep inside, i (my ego) or my ego (i) am outraged that someone that is smart and warm and witty and attractive and and and… is not immune to constant bouts of severe loneliness and–what is that word Nabokov tried to explain? ah! toska. toska, toska, fucking toska. 

“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

but who the fuck am i not to be unhappy? doesn’t that imply that, on some level, i assume others deserve it? of course this BULLSHITbut hey, the human mind, right? maybe i feel this way because people are always surprised (i think i am also always suprised) at the resilience of my isolation/unbelongingness.

here is another epiphany: 

i have never been with a man who was even close to being able to handle the twisted solar system of my mind. i do not doubt that i have been choosing the wrong men but nonetheless, not a single man that i have been in love with, not a single man that i have or would have devoted myself to…actually, even platonically, men seem to be incapable of swallowing the ocean of my mind. they are either overwhelmed by the depth of darkness into which i descend, or i see the i’m-a-hero light in their eyes and slam the door on them. 

but

how marvellous to realise that what this collective of men have failed to do, i have been doing my entire fucking life            

and

“you know you are on the right track when you become uninterested in looking back” first i thought no, because i’m looking back, haven’t stopped looking back since i was back there. but actually it’s true. because you can yearn for a past and still not want to go there.

i was folding jumpers at work when i realised he was part of my past. it doesn’t feel that way yet, not completely, but rationally, he is no more anything but my past. he is something that was and will never be again. 

getting over something happens in increments. i know i’m not over him. but there’s no rush, you can’t rush. it’s been almost ten months and some days it’s still a struggle (the way i was violently ill this one time and there happened to be coconut soap in the bathroom and so, for years, ever time i smelt artificial coconut, i’d dry-wretch. that’s what he is to me now: dry-wretch). it’s been ten months and i’m still getting used to not having him around. and this is how i know we are finished. because you can’t look back on something that has a painfulbreakuphorizon longer than the relationship itself. it’s like almost finishing the race and running back to help the asshole that tripped you over in the first place. and how long it takes me to get over someone is how much i loved them (no excuses, no apologies) and it’s funny (not haha, more sixfeetunder funny) but that struggle is precisely why i don’t look back or go back. hence, according to this instagram quote, i am on the right track. 

wait, did that make sense? i’m not over him so i can never go back to him. do you understand what i mean by that? i can’t forgive him this years’ pain. not that he wants me back. but you don’t need their question to know the answer.

what else is there to say? the usual, i’ve had too many days like this, sending casual messages asking if people are busy, invisible ink saying i’m having a bad day, i need people, i need a person, but i still have not learnt to say: i’m terrified of imposing. so i’m sitting on my front porch, already drunk (it’s 3:48pm), getting more and more used to being alone, reminding myself that this could be the way it always is so i might as well get used to it. when you’ve been dating for a dozen years, and every relationship has ended in you breaking someone or you being broken, how can you still not be used to being alone? when you move countries or cities all the time because this is what you do, haha, aren’t you hilarious and wild and unpinnable? shouldn’t you be used to belonging everywhere and not belonging anywhere? shouldn’t you be used to not being happy anywhere (is this why you’re not happy with anyone)?

but you know, it doesn’t matter, or you do get used to it. either way, it doesn’t matter. either you don’t let people save you, or you haven’t met someone worthy of saving you, or you need to learnt that no matter how much you save yourself, there will always be more to save. but shit, it isn’t about being saved but about sharing. and there is no shame in wanting to share the saving. i think that’s what i’m saving. i never needed him to save me, never needed any him, just wanted to feel like someone could hold me sometimes.

but

i don’t know, i don’t know

i had something to say and maybe i said it. maybe the wine washed it away before it was said. 

sad on a sunny day, that’s me. and i’m even used to that

but whateverwhateverwhatever with the blue posts. this year has been super, i can’t lie. but Lonely in Melbourne…those are two things i don’t want to be anymore. 

this will not end neatly so let’s just end it now (maybe this is what my ex was thinking)

thoughts on a berlin morning

we sat by the canal drinking beer and eating blueberries, talking about the things we usually talk about, noticing the ways we’ve changed. there is grey in our hair.

i am sitting by a big window in an apartment with high ceilings in berlin. i have already written this but i lost it somehow and i cried before i tried to remember. berlin is very german. things it seems to have a lot of: smokers, italians, wheelchairs. things it has few of: smiles, sunshine, good wine.

it’s in the lingering fingers. running through my hair like water. pressing the bone at the back of my neck like a button. i am liking these moments because there is no directionanxiety. his fingers and my skin are not exclusive. i like the way i’m skimming from boy to boy, collecting lovers like souvenirs. there is more freedom is belonging to several than belonging to one.

when his fingers found the crescent line of my jaw, i threw an arm over my eyes and rolled over, leaving a hand still in his. because there was too much sunlight and it seems that i am still scared of being seen. perhaps this is why my mood ripens at night. i am brave in the dark.

a she from a long time ago invited me out clubbing last night but i couldn’t be bothered to deal with the anxiety of the unknown. i might regret the no because i’m almost thirty and when will i get the chance to go clubbing in berlin again? but i have regretted many things and none of them have broken me. we stayed in, drinking organic red wine and watching youtube videos. when i went to sleep at four am, they seemed bemused.

a someone is playing the piano is the apartment across the courtyard. the sky is still. the sun has ripped through after a grey morning. there is a smell of cheap cigarettes. and also croissants.

 

Notes

After the gym.

  • Things I see in the moon:
    –a bunny foetus
    –a bald man with a monocle and a moustache
    — a boat and an island at sea
    –a parachute over clouds
  • I don’t need anyone’s fucking permission to forgive myself.
  • You become lonely when you disconnect from yourself. and you panic like a lost child in a crowd.
  • Own your own neediness. Own your intensity, your craziness. You are extreme and messy and terrific.
  • Reasons you are a worthy person:
    1. You exist.
  • You smiled at four strangers and it felt wonderful.
  • Let go of things not meant for you.
  • I like seeing him because it reminds me how out of love with him I am.
  • The relationships that have left me instead of the other way around are the ones that have taught me the most.
  • Sometimes I fall in love with men just because of how they smell. Even if for a moment, even if they’re not physically attractive.

Questions I had while watching Australia vs The Netherlands in the World Cup. He let me ask three and then he laughed and refused to answer any more.

  • Why are all the Australian players white?
  • Why is the grass striped?
  • Why do so many Dutch players have curly hair?
  • What’s Leckie’s background?
  • The Dutch are weird-looking, man.
  • Maybe I can’t relate because they’re all Anglo.
  • How old is the goalie?
  • It’s good to watch men in shorts.

Drunk on the tram.

  • I’m really fucking impatient for the tram.
  • I decided to go see him because EXPERIENCES
  • I am skinny and happy
  • We are all equally powerful as long as we are aware.
  • We do not attract what we want but what our soul knows we need.
  • Only three minutes have passed since I started writing.
  • I don’t know if I could love someone that says LOL.
  • Trams 57/59 don’t make me sad anymore.
  • Seriously, seven  minutes?
  • I knew I should have peed.

Miscellaneous

  • I’m so polite, I pour water into the other person’s glass first even if they’re not at the table.
  • On wanting to talk less, listen more: “STAY IN YOUR OWN LINE.”
  • On beautiful men: “We have a lot of brothers we never had.”
  • There will be times when you forget your worth. When you realise this, that you’ve forgotten, look at those surrounding you. How you feel about them is a reflection of how you should feel about yourself.

“Like a little lost Sputnik?” (Haruki Murakami)

“l(a
le
af
fa
ll
s)o
ne
li
ne
ss” 

(ee cummings)

 

Loneliness can make you bitter. Be careful. 

You’ve tried several techniques to ease your isolation and sometimes they work, but other times, on days when you’ve spent hours floating on a raft of your thoughts, nothing you say and nothing they tell you, can make you feel connected.

Sometimes you paint your voice in a bright colour and say i’m fine and sometimes you convince yourself too. Fake it til you make it. Be careful with your words–not just the ones in your mouth, the ones in your head, the ones that know you’re not fine–The Universe is always listening. 

Sometimes you’re honest I’m blue I feel like shit, almost crying: I’m just tired. Loneliness is exhausting. You worry that you’re exhausting other people; you’re tired of saying you’re not okay. Even if you were okay for nine days in a row and then you spent two days in bed watching Law and Order and eating entire packets of Tim Tams, you have those days at least every month and you’re constantly terrified that people will get sick of your fragility, of the way you need.

And somewhere in between these two, you don’t have the energy to express yourself so you speak in monosyllables, voice like a flatline, hanging up without saying goodbye, or only putting one x at the end of your message. And then you will tell yourself that no one will notice you only put instead of xx and maybe this is true and maybe it isn’t, but the distance between you and everyone else will grow anyway. 

Loneliness can make you bitter. Be careful.

The wet-towel feeling of scrolling through your phonebook and not knowing who to call. This makes you feel pathetic. It reminds you that you don’t belong. You’re a chameleon: you belong a little bit everywhere but nowhere substantially. Not anywhere, not to anyone. There are ugly whispers at the back of you head telling you that you are Someone that Loses People. You do not know how to be exclusive with your love and so people are always leaving you because, well, that’s life, but you swallow these losses. Let them sit in you like chewing gum. You thought you found somewhere to belong last year. To someones, to Someone, but then the main chink broke and you lost the entire necklace. Grief.

Loneliness is tinged with grief. It can stain you from the inside out. Be careful. Don’t be bitter when your desire to connect is not met. This is called Learning to Be on Your Own. And maybe this is true: “Remember: the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.” (Douglas CouplandShampoo Planet) 

Try to learn not to be afraid of your loneliness. Loneliness is just the fear of disconnect, of not being understood or loved or wanted. You agree with Sylvia Plath–“How we need another soul to cling to!”–but she killed herself so maybe take that with a pinch of salt. It’s funny how little things can make you feel connected. Writing kissed herself first, by accident, and wondering whether it’s a message from The Universe while you drift on the raft, no human lighthouses in sight. 

You need to learn how to swim in oceans of fear. How to use the oars of determination. How to navigate the darkness of depression by the stars of hope. Stop expecting people to take care of you. The world is not your mother. She took too good care of you. You were too loved as a child and it did not prepare you for a world full of human islands. 

This happened once:

-You can tell you’ve been raised in a family with a lot of love.
– How?
– Because of the way you give it so freely to others.

Keep love for yourself. Channel it all back into you. Don’t fret about not having enough people to love. Stop being disappointed when you don’t get it back. Stop worrying about whether you need too much. You do need too much. That’s because you give too much of yourself away. You smile when you don’t feel like it. Buy coffees for him because you don’t have any money but he has even less. You give your time and energy and compassion and it drains you. You give away your power.

Don’t feel lonely because you know that, if you went missing, it would take at least two days for someone to realise. Don’t feel lonely because you don’t know who to put as your emergency contact number. Don’t give yourself bitter advice on how not be lonely. “I despise my own hypersensitiveness, which requires so much reassurance. It is certainly abnormal to crave so much to be loved and understood.” (Anais Nin)

It is so easy for you to feel lonely and you hate yourself for it. The ugly voice tells you that your loneliness is your failure. This is not true. “All great and precious things are lonely.” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden) and if this is true, then you’re pretty fucking awesome. 

But sit with your loneliness. Own it. Loneliness is not synonymous with worthlessness.You do not deserve to feel lonely. You are not being punished for not being x enough. Understand yourself. You know you crave company because you’re bored of feeling alone. Be kinder to yourself. Write more. Smile at your reflection. Don’t stay in bed all day watch tv just so you don’t have to feel like you exist. Move your body even if you don’t want to. Accept not belonging. Celebrate it. 

It is the isolation that drives you. The constant urge to connect. This is why you track down the silver linings and catch all the little things that others miss and have a big empathy bone. This is why you write. 

But please stop suffering. Don’t being afraid of your loneliness. Embrace it. Even though you don’t believe what you are writing. Fake it til you make it. At least, accept it.

“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.” (Hermann Hesse)

I Will Always Remember this Day

For the first time in months–I don’t know how many days, I don’t count anymore–I looked back at his window. And for the first time ever, he was there. I burst out laughing. Because I saw him exactly as he is to me now. A small man. A distant figure so crouched over his own words that he never truly saw me.

I will always remember this day. I laughed all the way home. Because today, on May 19th 2014, I realised that I do not love this man anymore. He has hurt me too much and not given enough back for me to keep loving him. I know he didn’t mean to, but he made me feel small and weak and needy and undesirable. He made me feel like less of a woman. And I keep coming back to Maya Angelou.

maya angelou how you feel

It doesn’t matter how much I loved him. He didn’t make me feel good.

Everyone has been admitting that they could never understand what I saw in him. And while I understand where they are coming from, I know exactly what I saw. I saw his potential, I saw the man he could be. And maybe that was my mistake. Yesterday I told him that he never failed to disappoint and he suggested I lower my standards. But I refuse to do that. The standards come hand in hand with potential. And if he can’t–or won’t— reach them, then I’m not interested.

I learnt a lot from this relationship. I learnt that love is enough…but only if both of you think so. I learnt that I love fucking deeply. I learnt that I believe physical and verbal affection are the bare minimum, not a luxury. I learnt that I am so much stronger than I thought. And I learnt that sometimes all you can do is let go–and that there is strength in that–but you cannot let go until you are ready.

The break-up itself was amicable, even if it wasn’t mutual. I focused a lot on understanding where he was coming from. Another lesson: I am a giver. It took me a long time to get angry. Other people had to point it out to me. I was so busy trying to understand him that I didn’t have the energy to stand up for myself. Another lesson: giving to others should never take away from taking care of yourself.

The aftermath has made us bitter. I don’t know why he is bitter. And then, maybe he doesn’t care enough to be bitter. For me, every time I saw him, I was so overwhelmed by grief that it was all I could do to keep my shit together. He said he could see how I was feeling just by looking at me. He said this like it was a bad thing. This is another reason why I cannot love this man. I am a vibrant, passionate, deep, raw, emotional, feisty woman and I will not fucking apologise for feeling so intensely. I know I can be ridiculous and irrational and psychotic. I know I have gone to places so dark they still scare me. I’ve felt more loneliness in my twenty-nine years than a lot of people experience in a lifetime. But I would never want to be like him–so capable of controlling emotion, rarely ecstatic, never devastated. That’s not real and it’s not fun. What is the point of feeling if it doesn’t sear you?

It has taken me a long time to admit that I have suffered a lot in my life. Finally, almost thirty, I can show myself the compassion I give to others so easily. Finally, I can appreciate how much I have endured, even if I felt pathetic while I was going through it. And now that I am learning to embrace my pain, learning to see the silver lining while the clouds are still forming, I am grateful that I feel so much. Because he might never be miserable but, shit, I have lived.

And now, as I write this, I can’t stop smiling. I feel fucking triumphant! Because I did it! I was tired when he met me. I was tired a long time before he met me. Tired of fighting my own mind, tired of being positive, tired of having to endure. I was a broken spirit. And then, just as I was getting my shit together, he gave me one more thing to survive. And I did. After five months of agony, I can say this: I pulled through (again). And I’m over it. I’m over him. I am so over him. 

 

Unexpected Moment at 4:33am

I go back into the party to find my friends and decide to say goodnight to him. I snake my way through the room of bopping artists and pop my head into the den but, not seeing him, I decide to make tracks. As I turn, a hand pulls me back. It’s him. Without thinking, I link my arms around his neck. We hold each other for moments. When we let go I tell him I wanted to say goodnight. He says, “I know. I saw you.” And how did he know he was the one I was looking for? We smile. As I leave, our hands linger down each other’s arms until they’re clasped. We hold on until we have to let go.

This is a lovely, unexpected experience regardless of the outcome.

I write about men a lot and sometimes this makes me feel vapid and ungrounded. But maybe I’m just always writing about intimacy. Even if it’s just for a moment at a party with someone whose name I don’t remember.

This is a Poem

Today she told me that most people are
not poets, just good note-takers
Well, here is a note for you:

There was an edge to the way we loved each other,
the sharp l dug into my ribs. But now
you are the smooth curve of f in forgiveness.
You are the plump belly in the g of goodbye.

You’re the post-it that wouldn’t stick
And I’m the fountain pen you never use
And together we make one shitty rhyme.

I’m sorry I’ll never write you the perfect lovepoem
I’m sorry you memorised me only to get stagefright
I’m sorry I’m not dignified enough not to hate your damn guts

Never Like a Question Mark

When he says he’s been thinking about it for the past two weeks, I understand the seeds of my recent insomnia. It doesn’t matter how far our eyes blow like leaves in the wind, how our arms branch out for others, whose kisses we let pollinate our lips, because my roots are still entwined with his.

I love him like the point where the ocean meets the horizon. God, I don’t know why, but I love him in such an unflinching way. Without fireworks or roller-coasters. No fairy-floss expectations or prize-winning promises. There are popcorn fights and elephantine fears, but no ring-master gestures or somersaulting consistency.

I love him quietly. The way rain kisses a window. Like a lost ribbon in the breeze. The way tea keeps spinning after the spoon. I love him opaquely, the way I love ice-cream or avocados. I love him like a full-stop (sometimes like an exclamation point, but never like a question mark).

God, I don’t know why, but I love him. Even though it’s been 109 days. Even though he’s broken my heart twice. Even if he doesn’t love me anymore. I love his stupid, noble soul and I’m scared of how long it will take me until I don’t.

 

“They go to bed with Gilda; they wake up with me.” or Fuck you

And so what? Yes, more men have fallen in love with me that I can count on two hands but I don’t need thirteen lovers and I didn’t want most of them. I am the wave that keeps going back to sea, and they are the shore that can’t make me stay. But I don’t want their clammy eyes and sandy promises, the way their eyes dance like coral underwater when they listen to me speak. I don’t want random Brazilian men to ask me out at traffic lights. I don’t want men I met a couple of times a couple of years ago to message me when they’re bored. I don’t want to be given a wreath of shells on our first date; I’m not a fucking nymph. I don’t want a lover I could love that could love me back in Berlin. I don’t want a lover I love that I think loves me back but refuses to be with me down the street. I don’t want an intense, crazy lover that tells me he loves me after six days and then disappears. I don’t want a lover that falls in love with me before he meets me and has sent me enough messages for each hour we’ve known each other. Yes, I am lucky that men fall in love with me. Oh, it does wonders for the ego. Love is a wonderful gift and I must be grateful. Men have been infatuated with me since I was seventeen oh there’s something about you oh you’re different oh i don’t understand how he had gold in his hands and let it go oh if you were mine oh oh oh I’ve heard it all so many times and it makes me want to scream. The only fucking difference between the men I left and the ones that left me is opportunityMen fucking adore me as long as I’m always rushing back to the ocean. Fuck you and your pedestal. Fuck you for making me feel like a bitch because I don’t love you back. Fuck you for choosing the idea of me over the real me. And fuck you, Irony.

 

maybe i’ll never be a mother

sometimes i question whether i could be a mother. writer. traveller. mother. the three assumed forks of my priorities. but sometimes, on hollow saturday nights like tonight, when i am so wearing from all the existing, i doubt how i could ever go through it all again–once, twice, three times, maybe four–but this time watching little beings that i’ll love more than i could ever possibly love myself. 

i am not depressed. i am not unhappy. it’s just that, tonight, the sheer volume of my life’s experiences is a draining thought. i have thought and felt and seen and heard and said and loved and feared so much and i’m not even 30 and if i have children i will have to live so many more lives and i doubt if i’ll have the energy for that.

and how could i bear to bring children into this world, knowing that love and luck and education and laughter cannot protect you from horrifying loneliness? how could i bear to watch my child go through what i have been through? exhausted on my own journey, from where would i gather the strength to go through it again?

time

88 days ago 
was the last time you
let me stamp a letter 
to your lips with my lips. 
it said only       i love you
and it says it even now without
the envelop of you. without
the cursive of your smile. without
your inky eyes and your 
eyelashes that i wrote poem
about. without the sugar alphabet
i used to spell out our names that one
time. 

9 days ago
was the last time we
made tiny talk, protecting
every stranger around us from
the gravity of our history. 
i chant it all the time:
we are something that was
we are something that was
but when i see you, there is no we,
only non. 

4 minutes ago
i remembered that i am magnificent.
you are just the boy that thought my darkness was opaque,
just the boy
that is more scared of love than loss.
you are just the boy that stopped
telling me i’m beautiful long before you
broke my heart for the second time.
you are just the boy.

sometimes i imagine running into you
without the stirrups of etiquette propaganda.
i’ll cry as usual, and you’ll put your eyes to the floor, muttering,
“i’ve got to go” and then i,
with eyes heavy as teabags,
will say, “honey, you’re already gone.”

oyster or trying to running away while standing back to back in a room full of mirrors

he seeps in like a migraine.
the fingernails of his memory digging into my
temples. to the mirror, skin vanilla-white, i say his
name and choke on the ashes. his existence is
a splinter i can’t get out so i’ve learnt to grow
around.      this crack is raw; no preservatives

two people that refuse to be in love together is like trying to running away while standing back to back in a room full of mirrors

 

 

The Unexpected Heartbreak

My hair is full of Balinese salt. The ocean. His sweat. His tears. I can’t bring myself to wash it all out; I’d rather be dirty. I didn’t cry for the first twenty-four hours. Then I wept until I slept. I was happy before I left and now I’m stamping my feet. Pouting. Yelling, I don’t want to be here! The knots in my shoulders are back. I’ve lost my appetite. My tan has already started fading.

Yes, I miss the heat. I miss the white sand and cerulean water. I miss the plethora of coconuts and papaya and avocado. I miss the rice-fields. But most of all, I miss him. The way he sings all time. The constant constellation of kisses on my forehead, my shoulder, my thigh. His hand like a gentle anchor in my hand, on my back, on my leg. His bitchy moods and the way he does a 180 when I call him out on them. His headful of wild black curls. His casual gracefulness. The way he appreciates my details. The way he isn’t afraid to argue with me. The way we bicker. The way we tease each other. His disgust for pretenses. His patience with my anxious indecision. His raw desire for my body and my mind. The way he talks about his father.

On the day I left, we fought. It wasn’t our first fight, but this one was different: it was born out of frustration, I think; it was an outlet. The last hours were punctuated with a constant, alternating chorus: I don’t want you to leave and I don’t want to go. But, other than that and gripping each other slightly harder, we ignored the imminent hole of my departure. We didn’t promise each other anything. And that speaks of the gravity of our emotions; shallow trysts make weak vows.

Back home, people are skeptical. I was too. But combusting into tears speaks buckets. When you are with someone 24/7 for eleven days, you get a quality idea of who they are. And this man is so unapologetically open with his ‘flaws’: his ridiculous patchwork way of expressing himself; the way he pretends to accept his shortcomings (but then loops back and tries to make amends); his stormy temperament. I miss the whole chunk of him, the parts that made me laugh, the parts that made me feel beautiful, and the parts that made me bite my fist out of frustration. Under the umbrella of a temporary romance, we let ourselves be vulnerable, we let ourselves be seen. We let ourselves be intimate in a way that terrifies us back in our respective homes.

The first time we met, we planted a seed. This time, we are a sapling. I don’t know for certain that we could become a tree. But, even when I’ve washed the salt from my hair and the Melbourne sky bleaches my skin white, I know that I’m willing to walk around with a watering can in my pocket, waiting to see what grows when we meet again.

In the Nucleus of a Balinese Night

I didn’t remember it until the next morning, but in the middle of the night, half-asleep, he pulled the blanket over my bare body. He is named after the god of war and weather and it suits him, with his rocky eyes and stormy hair.

I fell asleep at 8pm. He tucked himself around me when he got in. His hands are so big that they can cover two sides of my ribcage. Am I that small? 

He wakes up in the middle of the night to kiss me. I don’t want to sleep with him yet, but my body surges. He roams me. Hungry. He doesn’t care that my mouth is thick with sleep. When I put my hands on his chest–no–he lies down next to me immediately. He curls himself into my side and doesn’t complain when I twirl his curls in my fingers. 

Stage 5: Acceptance

“Grief is the best way to keep a lost someone close to you.”

When he said that, I found a puzzle piece. We were sitting on my matchbox balcony, sharing a starry space, looking at each other like we sparkled. For weeks I had been piling padding around my heart, gliding over the gap M has left by leaving. In a letter, M said, “Unlike you, I’m not trying to forget. At least, not yet. I keep the memory of you warm, worn, and beautiful.” And maybe he’s been soaking in his grief because that’s his way of not letting go of me completely just yet.

I have been running through the grief as if it were a bucket of water. Getting wet, but not soaked. Whenever I found it in my hands, I unclenched my fists to drop it, as if the drops of water were actually hot coal. I thought I was refusing to hold on because I was so intent on moving forward.

And to a certain extent, that’s true. I am fighting so hard to let go. I finally have myself back and I don’t want anything to drag me away from that. But also because, what else can you do?

But, drop by drop, the grief has cornered me. And while I don’t feel it constantly, there are times when it punches me so hard I literally cannot breathe. I’m still trying to evade it, but god, it takes up so much energy. It’s tiring. And it’s a faux way to let go. You cannot let go of something until you have a grip on it. 

I have been refusing to admit that I am heartbroken. Not because I worry I am not strong enough to deal with it–I don’t doubt my resilience anymore–but out of hope. Because once a heart is broken, it morphs. And I can feel it in my gut that my revised heart will not be able to love him again should he ever come back to me. I have avoiding the grief just in case I don’t have to feel it. 

It’s been almost two months and yes, I’m still in love with him. But I can imagine a future where I’m not, even though I know I’ll suffer first. And yes, we feel unfinished, but maybe that’s only because I was the one who wasn’t ready to let go. I don’t know if that matters.

Somehow, this experience still makes me feel good. Because, yes for the last four years, it’s been one thing after another; life hasn’t let me rest. But I’m not wondering why anymore. This is what life is given me and all I can do it accept it and keep walking. Life doesn’t owe us a damn thing. There is no quota for suffering. Or joy. It is what it is. And sometimes it’s challenging for longer than we’d prefer.

So, that’s that. I am heartbroken. But the rest of life is beautiful and so full of love. And, you know, I’m looking forward to the new heart. I think it suits me already.

hold on tightly

“God, sometimes you just don’t come through.”

I caught fire on Saturday 6th February 2010. The first tear I shed was eleven days later when the doctors informed me that the risk of infection was low enough for me to be discharged. The first time I wept in reaction to what happened to me was some time in April, maybe May. I remember this only because I was dating The Neanderthal at the time. I was taking a bath and maybe I looked down and saw the smirking scars, I don’t know, but I started weeping in such a raw, honest way that the grief almost wasn’t painful.

My mother was with me the entire time I was in hospital. She made me eat, she scratched my nose, she wiped me. At night she slept on a rented deckchair next to my bed. She took care of me but she also told me when I was being silly, she laughed at me, she forced me to try and walk on the days I thought I was too tired.

My father walked in on the first morning, saw me, and burst into tears. I felt myself go marble-hard. I said, “Get out.” He was so shocked he stopped crying.

“What?”

“Get out. I’m not crying; I’m not going to deal with you. Get out and come back when you’ve composed yourself.”

He didn’t come back. I found out later that he spent a week in bed, crying, depressed. I resented him for his weakness until M nuzzled me to a different perspective. Did it ever occur to you that maybe your father cried for you when you couldn’t do it for yourself? And so I softened towards him.

Last week, I noticed that my main scar, the one on my chest, the heart-shaped one that I call my Second Heart, was almost flat in places. It’s been four years since my accident; over time, it’s stopped being one of my definitions and has become part of me instead. But in that moment, I remembered what happened, I remembered what i went through. And I realised that that’s all it was anymore: something that happened to me. And so, I wept. In that beautiful, pure, rare way. I took a photo of it: my face, my Second Heart, and I put it on Facebook. Because not a single person that went through it with me was in Australia, and I healed because of them, I know, I felt their love pulsing through me when I tried to meditate the pain away, and I wanted to share this with them. I know exceptional people and some of them aren’t even my friends.

My father called me a couple of days later and asked me to research plastic surgery in Australia. I refused. Daddy, I’m okay with my scars. They’re part of me. But he persisted. For me, he said. I can’t stop thinking or crying about it. I sighed and agreed. But damn it, this wasn’t about him. And I heard Marco’s voice in my head, reminding me that maybe he’s grieving what is too big for me to grasp, let alone process. But then I got angry.

I am lucky to say that my mother is one of the strongest people I know. I am lucky to know a lot of inspiring, strong people. But strength is a double-egded sword because with strength comes expectation. My mother literally makes herself sick because she takes on too much. Me? I burn out (pun unintended). I stampede through life and then suddenly I’m exhausted and I crash and, more often than not, there’s no one there to catch me. When you insist on being in the driver’s seat all the time, there’s no one to take the wheel when your vision gets blurry. 

It has been 45 days since M and I broke up. Life is ripe and exciting. I am well. I let go without looking back. But the past week, he’s been seeping into my thoughts. I scoop them out as quickly as possible but sometimes I’m not fast enough and then a grief swells in me so thick and hard that I literally cannot breathe. It doesn’t last too long. I don’t let it. But I am so fucking sad for myself because I have realised I was wrong. I thought I let go easily because maybe I didn’t love him as much as I thought, when what’s happening is that, like my accident, losing him is too big for me to grasp, let alone process. And if my accident hasn’t caught up with me yet, maybe I can dodge this pain as well.

But tonight, I feel tired. I’m been bulldozing my way ahead and tonight I wouldn’t mind someone else taking the wheel. In a letter M wrote me, he apologised for not being there the way I needed him during my depression. He stood away from me, straight, stoic; it was his way of passing strength to me. But, he admits, it wasn’t what I wanted. “It wasn’t a cuddle and it wasn’t intimacy.”

Two of the greatest lessons I learnt last year were to own my resilience and to have compassion for myself. I don’t mind being in the driver’s seat most of the time. But on nights like this, when I struggle to muster the strength to smile, I become frustrated. And I worry too. Last time I drove for too long without resting, I crashed. I don’t want that to happen again and it’s frustrating to know that all it takes is, every now and then, someone tucking me into bed and stroking my hair until I fall asleep.

God, Tori Amos

28 Things I Learnt at 28

1. No one’s love can fix the hole that you have if you don’t love yourself.

2. People don’t need to be next to you to be there for you.

3. Don’t give anyone more than what they want; they’ll resent you for it.

4. It isn’t right to exert myself taking care of everyone else. And then expect someone to take care of me.

5. Riding my bike at the toughest gear doesn’t make me the toughest. It just gives me chunky quads.

6. No one else gives a shit if my underwear matches or not.

7. You can’t ask for more than what people can give, even if they’re not giving you as much as they should.

8. You’re always a bit of an idiot when you fall in love.

9. My capacity to forgive is greater than I thought.

10. How to make killer raw brownies.

11. If you choose to be alive, you might as well feel good.

12. Red wine makes my cheeks swell.

13. It’s true: we are what we do every day.

14. It’s true! Sleep, nutrition, exercise and limited drinking does wonders for emotional health.

15. There’s not point in arguing with idiots.

16. Saying thank you makes you feel better. No matter how shitty you feel, no matter how little the thank you.

17. I have been saying sorry  when I didn’t need to.

18. I used to think that love was enough for a successful relationship but now I’m not so sure.

19. People leave your life when they’ve taught you what you needed to learn.

20. My only cage is the one in which I put myself.

21. My parents are not always in the right.

22. I am better at absorbing literary theory than discussing it.

23. All heartache eases with time.

24. I am a leader.

25. I am further than I thought from being ready to settle down/get married.

26. You’re never too old to move to another country.

27. Away from the enmeshed family infrastructure of Greece, I have learnt to be self-sufficient.

28. There will always be people to love you and help you but, ultimately, you only have yourself.

purge

my skin is shrill as i pound pedals through midnight garden, wanting to punch the plump stars for making me feel too much of something when there’s not enough space on this evening. i know i’m in love with him because i can’t even look at him, can’t stand him touching me, have whole hours without humming his name. earlier, a boy said hallo, excuse me and i stopped and he said, you’re beautiful and i could have sworn or lectured or ignored but i smiled and said thank you.

i shouldn’t have gone. the babydoll friend said to leave him and his buddies alone, cut him out, and she’s right. i’ve been drinking too much, not sleeping enough, filling up my nights with kisses from a boy that messages me just to tell me i’m a bright, shining star and it’s a good time to hear those things even though we both know we’re sharing a cocooned, temporary space. everyone thinks he’s crazy but i See him, i like him. and that’s why i can’t fuck him. 

last night i got drunk, it was my birthday and i was radiant with happiness and i took the boy home. and after i washed some dishes and cooked some tofu, i let him feel me up and it was nice, it always is, but this time, shit! my guts shrunk with frustration: it was my birthday and i wanted to be with the man i love

i threw my bike down. there were people in the park. the park where we got drunk for the first time, when i refused to kiss him. there was a chinese lady powerwalking, listening to something zen, while i sat on the curb and panicked. my fingers throbbing, my throat thick, chanting his stupid fucking name. the grief ripped me up. this is why i don’t look at him. this is why i don’t think about him. this is why getting me a birthday present was a cunt move. i’m torn before smoothing the frayed edges of my heart and smiling like the good girl my mama raised

if i could put a blanket over the solar system, i hope that i’d find you

he says, i’m young and dumb. please don’t hate me: i love you.

six days. this must be some kind of record; usually it takes them a couple of weeks, maybe a month. i mean, yes, the night on the balcony was beautiful and intense, and the way our eyes hook into each other makes me squirm. yes, he fascinates me by asking me things like if you were standing by a lake and i was climbing a tree, and i jumped into the lake and splashed you, how would you react? and if i made you a dreamcatcher and broke it one morning after a nightmare, what would you do? and i say, i’d laugh, and that makes him smile. and i say, i’d be devastated, and he says that’s the most beautiful answer. yes, he stares at me and says, very matter-of-factly, you’re adorable and he likes that i call him out on shit, that he talks too much, when he says something grandiose. when i ask him what his funeral song is, he shrugs and says i’m never going to die.

he takes it back the next day, he says, i know i could never love you and i think, no need to be cruel, sparky, but seventeen sentences later he’s asking me to kiss him to shut him up and i’ve just skulled a glass of wine (because i’m turning 29 tomorrow) and i wouldn’t mind some gentle company.

my friends laugh at me and wonder how i pick these poets in bars, how i always pick the ridiculous ones, the one that make great stories. i smile because i know it’s because i rarely pick and if i do, there’s got to be something special there.

six days and he’s had a meltdown and he’s loved me and taken it back and i’ve got nothing but respect for his intensity, for his sensitivity, but i delight in being free and i like that i can enjoy this, him, anyone, without fear because i am so fucking unavailable. my heart is no-man’s land, it’s nothing, not whole, not broken, not mine, not someone else’s.

resilience

last night i dreamt that my wisdom tooth was coming through again like a tiny fang in the corner of my mouth. the tooth next to it was turning black. i called my mother and stated it all very matter-of-factly. it freaks me out a little because teeth are a bad omen and i want to know, now, what it means

i dreamt of m too, that he wrote me a letter berating me for giving back the bonsai tree. last night cher and i talked about symbolism and what does it mean that he bought me a bonsai tree for christmas after we broke up and he told me it’s supposed to mean something and i think i know what it is but what does it mean that i get no morning sun and i had to give it back? no i chose to give it back, the truth is i refuse to take care of it, i refuse to be reminded of his fucking symbols every day. and that’s okay

the night before last night i had a minor hospital flashback, the raw open wounds that still make me wince, and i realised it will be four years on february 6th and why haven’t i suffered more consequences for it? i asked my therapist if people are just that resilient, if it’s possible to smile and accept a freak accident in which you burnt a tenth of your body and scarred you for life. because yes i’ve grieved a few times but no it wasn’t a bad thing, it’s just something that happened and it’s okay. and i think maybe i thought of my accident because i’m doing the same thing with losing marco because i feel very clear about how i should feel, which is that i don’t have the time or patience to mourn someone that’s in love with me but doesn’t want to be with me. i don’t feel rejected, i don’t think about him, i am unwilling to miss him. i feel this force pushing me forward, forward. if i look back i’ll stumble. besides i’ve got such an incredible view in front of me and i would hate to lose a moment of it

“you kiss just like I thought you would”

you kiss like europeans, this is what you whisper as you brush lips like snowflakes on a balcony on a friday summer night with a cool breeze kicking round your bodies, no space between your limbs, all tangled up and tight. you talk to him, to the sky, and he stands behind you, murmuring compliments into your ear. later, on the carpet, the thrusting tongues, skin gliding over skin, knees rubburnt, all the while, european, european, european, the sensuality, the intimacy, the romanticism, the familiarity. afterwards, you fall asleep and he asks if you mind if he goes home and you don’t, you’re drunk and you’re tired and you like him but not in a bow-tie way but then waiting for the taxi, suddenly, your hands rip into each other’s bodies, exploring, exploring, exploring, and it’s beautiful, this one night’s connection, how his lips sought out your scars in the dark. how, you chanted someone else’s name at first but then that him dissolved and it was just you and this boy who asks you if it’s okay to come. at the end you didn’t even want to message the other him to say I thought of you the whole time, and not just because it turns out that isn’t true. you pass out on the carpet, naked, dreaming in shades of tequila and contentment. bring on the boys. bring them on, bring them on. gratitude for the gentle, awkward boy that heals just because he’s him and he’s there. gratitude for the gentle boys that healed you before. life is magnificent.

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