I made a decision to take the summer off, to “take a break” because something in me had already broken and so I needed to allow myself to have all of me just for me, to see what wanted to be mended and what wanted to be laid to rest.
I have come undone.
Which, it so happens, is one of the most exquisite human experience I have touched and tasted and known in this body of mine. Brutal. And exquisite.
I lost and left so much.
I gave over to the fall.
Welcome to the ground. It is a solid and stunning place from which to build and live a life.
It was not self-care as much as survival, the exhaustion of depletion so complete after months of serious illness and years of chronic illness that it came down to doing what was necessary to fight to save my own life. Which meant for the first time in my life not fighting at all but rather giving over and going so soft everything I once knew slipped out and I found my whole and altered self, coming back to me. Intimate and unrecognizable. Held.
I am not ready yet to re-emerge in full, and I do not yet even know what that will look like for me.
What I do know is,
Everything has changed.
And the learnings are like wild flowers in cracks of concrete of the city that loved you back, meteor showers and mouths shaped like warm refuge, salt water and mangoes and no longer being alone.
They are fresh and far before me and ink themselves onto and into me as ways of being,
my own self, reclaimed.
Here are the beginnings of my undoing and repair:
My life, my decisions, my pleasure, my memory, my relationships, my body, my parenting, my values, my art, my sexuality. None of these require approval from another to be real and valuable, and I will not waste any of my life in explaining, justifying or defending.
There is nothing to fix. There is nothing to smooth over, no need to play nice, no gold stickers for martyrs, no reward for inserting oneself into other people’s stories insistent on putting out fires that want to burn. There is nothing to understand, no magic key that unlocks other’s assumptions and turns tides toward a bridge you are required to build and cross alone just to open yourself to another’s violence. You are allowed to opt out, and stay out, and tend to your own flesh and want and heart still beating.
Liking and being liked is not the currency I value as I do care and compassion.
So perhaps we are not required to like everyone, as if liking is moral or a thing that makes one a better person. You can choose to not be an asshole while still not liking some people or most people.
Years ago, after so much work and both help and violence at the hands of the healing industry and helping professions, I radicalized in such a way that I refused to pathologize my own survival, my own ways of being, the impact of trauma, my experience of being human. I walked away from words and labels and categories that claim health and wellness and illness and promises of cure. I wanted to simply learn to stay with myself, even in the leaving. That was what love looked like to me. And it too changed everything. These past months I have come to experience the expansion of this. If I refuse to pathologize what I have done to survive, why would I pathologize what feels good? I am having experiences of the tactile diamond sharp clarity, and my body knows what it wants and needs. And it not necessary to have a whole story around it that explains the why or defends the assumed misunderstandings. I trust myself. I trust my body. This is what it wants and needs. This is what feels good. So the answer is yes.
We get to change our mind.
We are allowed to not return every email or phone call or text or message. Allowed to not read them at all. Allowed to make our own decisions about communication, and with whom, and how often. Very little is actually urgent. And love does not necessarily mean absolute access at all times or every answer being yes.
I have work I want to do in this world, that matters to me, that is also how I support and sustain myself. I show up with the whole of me at any given moment, and honor the space of walking into unknowns and creation with another. I have love to give and art to make and coffee to drink at diners all over.
And, I am also not a thing to consume. My time and life and personhood is not a product to ingest or a thing that can be taken whenever the moment or mood strikes. As those of us in sex worker communities often say, “You are buying an experience, not a person.” This is true for other forms of labor as well. And all matters of consent. A yes to one thing is not a blanket yet to other asks, situations, times. Just because we show up in certain spaces, does not mean anyone gets to have full access to us in any space they choose. Boundaries are beautiful.
It is always okay to not want to talk about it. Now. Or ever.
It is also okay to want to give language to things and then discard them all and start again.
Life is full and rich and often times so very hard. Bodies have their own needs and take much of the day's energy when in pain. Loving richly and in the way that feels good to me often is slow and thick as the jungle green of Mexico. I can love many, but intimacy is only possible with few. And it takes times.
Right now, I have space for only three things. And not a whole lot else. It doesn’t mean I don’t love beyond that. But it does mean that knowing and naming this is staying in reality and staying with myself, not asking myself to be more or different than I am to appease some idea or ideal of what is sold and told to me as community. Though I see article after article about the need for the village and the importance of community, and know that we cannot make it through this life alone and need one another desperately, I am also wary of the assumption that communal or community or gathering round large groups is always the answer, as it often places a higher value on extroversion and those who are filled and fueled by engagement with others and often ignores that the price for care is abandoning onself and the price of community is often the inability to dissent. I have deeply loved and been loved and supported by my people for the last twenty years. I also am not obligated to give my time and engagement or performance of a capacity to be intertwined with multitudes instead of my small in number humans who I hold as close to me as my own heart valves clapping open and closed underneath rib cage.
Despite what I have been told again and again, forgiving others is not always the thing that feels good or that allows me to move forward with my life or that grows my love. Apologies are fine, and I am not required to accept them. In some cases I do not forgive and this saves and gives me life.
Surprising yourself is one of the great wonders of being human.
There are all these old stories I have carried my entire life. They are not untrue. They are also not complete. To stand here in an unknown, so filled as to be emptied entirely, is to not know and to surprise myself with the woman I am discovering. So much is lost here. So much is possible. How gorgeous really, to be such a mystery in our own evolution.
So I like juicing now. And float tanks. And staring at the wall while writing a novel in my head. And the place I only ever wanted to live in alone I now want to enter in with another. And for the first time ever, nothing has to change or be different and there is space enough for all of me, known and unknown.
It is okay to disappoint others. It is okay to not be what others want you to be. Other people’s expectations and assumptions belong to them, and are not a script you are required to play out.
I have been doing the work of repair. I have shown up for myself with more truth and integrity and unwavering presence in all things than I have ever known or experienced. And this I know this as true. I will never again turn against myself by asking my younger selves to betray themselves. There is much in life that must be done that I don’t like or want to do. And there is also so much done and chosen out of fear within obligation and the need to play by rules not of my making, and we are done with that now. The hunger strike is over. I will not abandon myself.
In this, much is lost. And to my surprise, it feels strangely good. Because it is congruent, where the insides match outsides. And there is no pretending. No performing. No need to hold the breath just to make it through.
I am carrying the most beautiful secret.
Growing things in the dark. It is so stunningly beautiful here.
I don’t want to share them.
I don’t have to.
I am allowed this. You are allowed this.
To not want to speak of something before it is ready.
To write all the words away from reading eyes.
To nourish and nurture in the oceanic vastness.
To fall in love with your own self this way, and how such intimacy doesn’t want the intrusion of all those watching and waiting eyes.
These are the days of taking back the years that the locusts have eaten.
My time belongs to me.
My body belongs to me.
My love belongs to me.
My knowing and unknowing belongs to me.
My sleep creased face first thing in the morning and my willingness to walk away from work and trust that the world will not crash if I let my own self collapse into my own arms.
My words and my silence and my slow dancing and my stillness.
And within and washing through all of this, I am living and driving mile after mile with still wet hair and a body sore and at rest. I am living and writing true stories, making steak and martinis for dinner and disentangling from all the expectations that say what and who I should or should not be, falling in love again and again and working in ways that both matter and do not matter, change nothing and everything, all while breathing in and out on a curved planet that slowly spins around a flaming ball of fire that in these moments cast outrageous pink against a white sky which reaches out to whole galexies. Fucking gallexies.
How is this not some kind of miracle then, this unexpected intrusion of beauty, to be here undone, human and alive?