demerara

he certainly looks a superhero,
defined in blocks of
masculine warmth and prowess
all wrapped up in demerara skin and eyes
but it’s not so dramatic
the way he holds his hand out to
cradle me in my fear
I shine a light to the sky when
I see a burning building in the mist
and he arrives on time
gently turning my face to the present
“darling,
a flame in the oven
does not mean the building burns”.
I don’t know whether to
call you brother or father
or both,
or neither.

neither.

my comrade in doubt and kindness,
I channel strength to you and from you.
your beautiful soul hurts, I
know it does, yet you
are the fireman hero
jumping into the fire despite the
smoke already bleeding in your lungs.
you are the human hero,
you are.
but this does not mean
that you must never be weak.
be weak, my friend
because you can
because you are strong
because you have me and us to
cradle your mind as
you have cradled mine and ours.
we survive always
you help me heal my burns
I see yours itching for ointment.
your kindness could
never be contained by pain.
expand and
let’s let go
and be the
delicate
strong
powerful
tangible
human
embracing heroes
that our children
always wanted to hold onto.

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dominoes

everybody else fell
down like dominoes,
slick and lacquered and
all inevitably spread over the
carpet, getting lost under
the sofa. but
they were not dominoes
no, they were not dominoes.
no, pain did not exist in
that house that smelt like sweet
clean pickings of herbs and tea
and essential oils in the bath –
not to me.

there was no punishment in
the sweet house
there were no laws to break in
that clean air, there.
well, they had pain all the same,
those protectors of angels.
pain all the same and worse than most,
but they did
not turn into dominoes
or instruct me to lie face-down
and upon be placed broken
sacks of boulders.
no, they did not turn into dominoes.
I didn’t really like to
play dominoes but
it didn’t matter because there was a hundred
jokes and a hundred games of
chess and a
hundred slices of honey on
toast and a hundred discussions
of the best books on the shelf at
forty-five minutes
past bedtime.

protectors of angels don’t
have to say a magic phrase or
read a magic book or
know a magic spell or do
much more than
love unconditionally, practically,
not really.

so tell me when
you look into the eyes of children,
do you find it hard?
to be their books
honey
computer games
shit television shows
fart jokes
to be the acceptance of
their tears and joy?
I used to wonder if
I should thank the universe
for their love,
or god,
or some great beautiful uncontrollable
catastrophic cosmic power,
but why should I
thank anyone but them when
they were the ones who
chose to give it?

no,
no god or cosmos
no higher power
no luck or chance
is responsible for
soft sheets or
allowing a ten year old to
use all the hot water,
so gratitude goes
where it goes;
to them, a choice as
conscious as all of theirs.

thank you.
I love you.

within

I am of him,
that’s for sure
this stubbornness
so ingrained, it must be
woven into my genes
somewhere near the ones
that gave me
eyes the size of saucers.
as I become who
I always needed to be,
I let him drift out
to the ocean to rest,
finally releasing the corpse
I’ve been carrying
on my back for so long –
I find a new set of
superpowers in my heart.
it beats like his now
and always should have,
really.
I was not to know,
but now I do.
and his spirit weighs nothing
no more than a breath

I let it burst

from within,

to taste freedom for

the first time in

twenty two years.

be

If I look back, I am lost.

the above is a quote from the ever-popular character of daenerys targaryen in the song of ice and fire books written by george r. r. martin. throughout the books, we go on a journey with daenerys, as she is thrust unceremoniously into a very adult (albiet highly fantastical) life. we follow her as she attempts to navigate not only her hostile environment but the people who surround her, their intentions and what, if any, end goals she should be focusing on.

the phrase touched me when I read the books, resonating with me as I wander through my own journey of self-discovery and healing. I have a large tendency to over-analyse and dissect in an unhealthy way; I attempt to break these negative thought patterns using things I learn in therapy, though a lot of the time it feels like replacing one over-analytical stream of thought with another. at present it feels like my thoughts are just an endless barrage of questions; whys, what ifs and hows chatter relentlessly away as I try to navigate grown-up life.

a recent obsession that has been festering away is the fear that I will never “cope” with life, that I will never “get better”, that I will continue to be hurled and burled through life on an emotional rollercoaster, with no semblance of achievement or satisfaction to be found, no more true loves to be had, no enjoyment of anything for too long lest it become too stressful, too difficult, too triggering. the mere thought absolutely terrifies me to say the least, and my anxious brain works its hardest to find unequivocal proof that this is certainly the path I will be forced to tread. attempts to control and relieve the anxiety brought by this particular stream of thought generally manifest in hours spent googling and researching, desperately throwing unanswerable questions into the echo chamber of the internet, hoping to find some magic words, some proven theory that will provide me with the reassurance I so urgently crave. psychological theory, psychiatry research papers, comments sections and self-help articles of varying quality; they all get consumed, processed, churned out and considered as evidence. I think back to the very darkest times of my life and constantly self-assess to see whether I’m feeling now as I felt then, whether I’m hurtling head-first back into that terrifying black chasm of helplessness and despair.

it is prudent to remind myself that self-assessment was not my strong point when I was stuck in the aforementioned chasm; I had no questions, because I had almost completely accepted my “fate”, my fate being that the only real answer to my emotional suffering was death. It is quite the opposite now. the questions nowadays never seem to stop coming, but none of those questions are “how to tie a noose” or “painless ways to die”. recalling memories of that time are utterly painful, and I feel sad for myself, and those who lived through it with me. I have come a long way, but it appears there are still hurdles to jump over and knots to unpick.

so I shall keep going forward. I shall keep trying. if I look back, I am lost, and playing psycho-detective will amount to nothing if not further pathologizing of perfectly normal human experience, which I don’t think is a good thing (although at this point I could probably sit a Bachelors psychology paper and pass it, so that’s something). I’m just a human; a big soggy bag of flesh and bones and organs and electricity; and I truly believe that nothing except personal peace and happiness are important. we are one tiny dot, in a vast ocean-sky of planets and solar systems and galaxies and possibly universes. our lifetimes are breath on the skin of the world, let alone the universe; our supposed failure and suffering are eternally meaningless in the scheme of things. we feel important, but that doesn’t make us happy or peaceful. we should do for the pleasure of doing; be kind for the pleasure of kindness. to be clear, this is not some hedonistic analogy; you won’t be happy or peaceful if you spend your days chasing chemical highs and being a cunt to people you sleep with in the name of “absolute pleasure”. cruel people are cruel, and lost people are lost, because they suffer inwardly and place excessive responsibility on external experiences and objects (and their effects) for their inner own peace and happiness.

the key, I believe, is to live outwardly, and reap inwardly. to absorb the joy of the world, of living, of being here, now, at this very moment. to be child-like, to accept the utterly bizarre systems humans have brought upon themselves (like council tax) and fret not over what you achieve, but what you learn, and just be.

just be.

when your brain starts ticking with questions, with self-doubt, with suffering and memory;

remember, just to be.

rope

he is a
wooden a-frame
an old one,
resolutely standing
at the side of
the school hall,
just waiting
to be climbed and clambered upon
by the tenth generation
of children.
you would think
time should have
weathered the pine,
should have
made it splinter and break
but still it retains
its polished surface
and strength,
somehow.

I am
not a wooden a-frame,
more a hanging rope
that burns the hands
and sways unpredictably
fun to climb
hard to
get down from.
but a treasured
piece of
school gym equipment,
nonetheless

devotion

what do I remember?

not the nights I stayed in alone, for fear of encountering something worse outside.
not the nights I spent talking to empty, strange men online at four in the morning.
not the nights spent asking google the same panicked questions over and over again til my eyes blurred and the sun came up.

pain has a way of getting away from you. this is the brain protecting you, you see. childbirth hurts, a fucking LOT, but women do it all the time, repeatedly. no pain, no gain. was there e’er a truer cliché? no, probably not.

for all the nights of my life I’ve spent saddened, alone, anxious, defeated (and there’s been enough); recalling the pain now is dull and old, even only days later. but the nights I’ve spent screaming with laughter, forging friendships, exploring things I love, making even the tiniest of bonds with people sat next to me on creaky old couches? those nights are clear as pealing bells in my head, whether years or days or decades have passed. joy remains. always.

life is a pointless piece of shit, but that’s no reason to waste it. that’s no reason to cage myself in a four-walled prison of my own making. I stay awake late anyway; if I’m going to be tired, I might as well be fucking entertained.

I’m not a disease, I’m not a disorder, I’m not a diagnosis. sometimes things will be bad, because the brain gets tired, the brain goes wrong. but it always gets better. it ALWAYS gets better.

the inner monologue, the one that tells me I am too fat, too ugly, too stupid, too unstable, too broken. that voice is the disease. me; beautiful, strong, smart, singular. I am not those thoughts. I dare now to answer them with petulance rather than acceptance. I dare to tell myself that I’m wonderful; to offer myself the same love and devotion that I wish so often would come to me.

we must love ourselves. we must not neglect ourselves. we must take care of ourselves. one of the most wonderful aspects of humanity is sharing, communicating, bonding. but I alone inhabit this particular sack of mobile meat and bones, as you do yours. we are truly alone. if we cannot even fall back on our love of ourselves when everything around us turns to shit and the world lets us down, then where can we fall?

don’t fall into nothingness. embrace yourself and treat yourself with the kindness you readily offer to your lovers, your friends, your pets. you deserve it.

dew

I’m not there yet, but I will be soon. 

my heart overflows with grace and gratefulness.
I suffer, surely.
but this humbles me
with a reward of
pure, composed contentment.

how could I
enjoy the dawn
so auroral,
argent and glittering with dew,

if never to live
in the mirthless night,
the sepulchral darkness?

if never to lift up my arms
in the unoiled sister-shackles
of pain, and furious fear?

the dawn comes,
and with it
the heavenliest sigh;
“freedom.”