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.

“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.”

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

 

 

“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

Gratitude

For the sky’s warmth. For the green lights that let me flow. For the red lights that remind me to be patient.  For owning a bicycle. For the construction worker pointing to the traffic and laughing, saying, “What have you done?”. For the meaty body squeezed into transparent Spandex of the cyclist in front of me on Wellington Road. For the bug that bounced off my closed lips a moment after I closed my mouth. For people who bounce when they walk. For letters from people reminding me that I’m magnificent. For ZARA, for its people, for its surprise gift card. For Afifa, who said that any time with me in invaluable. For Laryssa who had the sense not to hug me when you told her but surprised me with chocolate later. For Dani who said, “Don’t talk, just go,” when I walked into work and burst into tears. For the ways people come back into my life. For Ellie, for her stories about fucking 65 year old men. For the Aboriginee with the grey perm humming to Bob Dylan, reminding me of my Dad. For my father and his silver pony-tails, his cigars, his foray into massages and fire dragon therapy. For my mother who, just by being, reminds me of the kind of woman I want to be: strong, warm, liberal, witty. For being Greek and carrying the history, the sensitivity, the pride, the wisdom, the filotimo in your blood. For my nails that have grown out again. For my body that can move and dance and sigh. For the peachy breasts that hormones give me. For feeling comfortable enough to wear little purple shorts. For the moments I feel complete. For the womb-y days of freedom and possibility. For the man at the grocery store that said I looked tanned and gave me a cupcake. For feeling beautiful and sensual, for feeling men’s eyes eat me up. For being free again to find someone that is not intimidated by me or how he feels about me. For finding the strength to keep going. For myself, for choosing not to be overwhelmed by pain anymore. For pain, for its gift of compassion. For letting myself believe that I deserve to like myself, to feel beautiful, to be loved.

And so.

My guts wept for all the things I didn’t dare say. I lay on my back and looked into my mind. There was a horizon. A sunearth world and a horizon with infinite ends. There were orange and blue birds smiling around this world. The orange and blue of childhood, you know, the colours they teach you at school. I zoomed in, I could see the birds were smiling, and that each of them was in a perfect circle, no matter how they moved. They weren’t real birds, they were painted. I could see every stroke. I thought, This is how artists must create- they see pictures in their heads. I see words too, I guess. But they float around my mind and then some of them glow, or grow bigger and then I know I want to use that word. 

I felt more centred today than I have in a while. I felt my roots in the Universe. I felt my soul attracting light (as thin as that sounds). I am the centre and I am in control of what I attract. I do not let myself be usurped by other people’s energy.

I am my Daddy’s daughter. I come from a long line of philosophers. We, the descendants of the Ancient Greeks. 

I’m exhausted but I feel powerful and I have felt helpless for so much of the time that I want to take advantage. That’s why I’m always the last to leave a party, why I can’t bear to say goodbye. Because I want to hold on to as much good feeling as possible. There is a darkness within me on which light has never shone. This is what I am always running from. 

Grief

Because now I can’t see glitter without getting a paper-cut on my heart. There was a piece of metallic ribbon in my hallway that I stomped on. There was a sparkle on my temple and he smiled and licked his finger to get it off and at first I smiled too but then I got that paper-cut-sting. He tries to make a joke, he says, “Well, now we can both hate glitter,” but I’m not laughing, not even a little.

And now the number fourteen makes me sick, just because that’s when it happened. Because fourteen is now the number for “when you’re happy and naive and asleep people will be out there fucking you over”. And it’s been a month, exactly a month, and I don’t know why it took so long but it finally hit me late last night so this fourteen feels like last sixteen when I found out. 

And suddenly, the last thirty days, it’s everywhere. It must have been there all the time, I just never noticed because it was never part of my real. But every day now, something, something, will karate-kick a paper-cut on my heart. And it hurts in a way that is shapeless and overpowering, and all I can do is sit still, as if the pain is too much water, and moving, even a little, will spill it all out. But then again, I know that this is too big to come out all at once; I’ve spent the last thirty days leaking. 

And breasts. Now I hate breasts. Even my own, and that makes me sad.