I wanted to matter.
I thought the only way to matter is to help people directly — community outreach, counseling, etc. I was always so anxious and uncomfortable doing the work, working face to face with people.
When I finally got a job that was administrative, I breathed a sigh of relief. There were no constant phone calls, no urgent emails-just me and the data.
I’ve been fighting through the discomfort because I thought that would make me better.
Now that I’m out of that field, I feel like I’ve emerged from the water. This suits me better, I thought. But does it matter?
You login to Prose to return to your old self. Instead of just free associating, you decide to respond to a writing prompt that asks you to write vows to yourself. You think it’s interesting and creative. Click.
The page before you is a mostly blank screen. There’s a textbox that says “Title”, and a bigger text box under it that says, “Write”.
The cursor blinks. You blink back. When did this get so hard?
Pause. Commercial Break.
You went to take out the dog and completely lost your thoughts. You sit and stare at the screen once again, that damn cursor taunting you.
“You think you’re a writer, huh? Poser.”
“I am. I am a published writer, and I need to remind myself of that.”
“You need to keep yourself accountable. If you don’t correct yourself, who will? You need to stay on top of your performance. Work towards perfection.”
“I know I’m not perfect, and I know my writing will never be; so why do I strive for perfection? I hate making mistakes. I was taught that there’s no time or money to make mistakes; no matter what the situation.”
“There it is-vow to allow yourself to make mistakes.”
It became hard to write because you were fulfilling a vow you made yourself a long time ago; to protect yourself. Writing leaves you vulnerable, so you ran away for a bit and surrounded yourself with walls. Instead of protecting you, they isolated you. They took away your confidence. Instead of comforting you, they held you back.
Despite your lack of confidence, you realize that you have been working on treating yourself better. Instead of surrendering to the taunting, you counter it.
So, Miggie, here it is; I vow to let you make mistakes; to let you be vulnerable; and to allow you to write with honesty and passion.
Philosophy used to be my favorite class. It was the only time in my undergraduate career that I utilized the TA’s office hours. We talked at length about my papers and the questions that swirled in my head. I was always especially taken by questions about identify and questions about the benefit of believing in God.
That time in my life was new and crisp, like blank pages in a new journal. I was on a new journey and had so much to learn, so much to offer.
Things have changed. Nothing irritates me more than questions with multiple or no answers. I struggle with questions and doubts about doing the right thing, and about fighting against what I’ve been taught so that I can live the life I want. Our parents do the best they can with what they know (well, mine did, anyway) but it has left me damaged goods. We’re all damaged, I guess. Who the fuck knows how to raise kids, anyway? Who knows how to be an adult, for that matter? I remember being in high school and looking at those 30 and older as wise adults I could look to for advice.
If a kid were to come to me for advice, I’d advise him never to do so again.
None of us know what the hell we’re doing, yet we judge others for not knowing either. If someone takes a chance, a leap of faith, and becomes famous or rich, they are adored. If someone takes a chance and fails, many will scoff at his immaturity and impulse. Why leave something secure for the unknown, even if the risk has a change of a huge investment? Also, dreams are cute when you’re 18, but if you’re 30 and still dreaming, than everyone tells you to get back to reality. Why? I didn’t know dreams expired. Langston Hughes asked, “what happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” I think it does. We hit a certain age where we thought we’d be “stable”. We rarely pack away our dreams for safe keeping; they stay with us and wither away. Or, they take beatings from other’s thoughtless comments and opinions on them.
We need to protect our dreams, but not lose sight of reality.
I’m tired of questions. I’m tired of self doubt. I want answers, but I realize that I can only get answers when I take action. You can only weigh your options for so long before they start to weigh on you. Take action, make mistakes, get out there. It’s the only way I feel like I can get my answers.
Dark lipstick and sexy smirks
It's only when the city sleeps
that I join the world.
I thrive in darkness
The quiet of the night
or the smell of liquour and
clicking heels on concrete
holding up a girl
with vomit in her hair.
shadows easily blur details of
the twinkling lights
a temporary moment,
easing the pressure of
enjoying the morning-
in favor of forced smiles and
Dreams or nightmares
Stories are supposed to start at the beginning, right? This one starts at the moment I felt lost.
I was walking in a basement with concrete walls and damp floors. I saw a wall in the distance with graffiti on it. When it was close enough, I wiped the dust off with my hands so I could see the words more clearly.
You will soon find your strength.
I felt terrified, but didn't know why. I turned and ran, feeling myself begin to sob. A gust of wind lifted me from under my arms and I rose into the air, my body in a T position. Suddenly, I wasn't in the basement anymore. I was unsure of my surroundings and saw nothing but darkness. My sobbing continued; my chest was heavy and it was hard to breathe through my tears. My body came to a sudden stop mid air. I could hear my cries echo in the darkness around me. After what felt like forever, the air was vacuumed from my chest, and I stopped crying. I was silent and still, mid air. A cool calm ran through my veins, as if the sadness had been sucked from my body.
My body went into a freefall and my arms were no longer forced outward.
Silence in the face of prejudice makes you complicit in the action.
I am a coward.
The new Beauty & the Beast movie that just came out features an openly gay character-lovely LeFou. It's been long speculated that he was gay, but I guess there's a scene where it's blatantly obvious. I mean, it's fuckin great. Of course, not everyone thinks it is.
A woman walked into the office this afternoon and declared, "Whatever you do, do NOT see the new Beauty and the Beast movie. Just don't. Don't take your kids to see it."
I immediately knew what she was referring to. I joined the chorus of "Why not?"'s.
She said ominously, "The movement has started." She stared at us with hard, wide open eyes; it was as if she were trying to beam her thoughts to us so she didn't have to speak them. It was quite for a moment, and one of my coworkers said, "What do you mean?"
She kept her eyes wide and looked at us intensely. "There's a scene where one of the characters...". She then gestured with her hand and made her wrist go limp.
I think most of us were surprised at her horror; we sat in silence. She mouthed, "Homosexuality"; it was a topic so dirty to her that she didn't dare use her voicebox to talk about it. A couple coworkers just said, "Ooooh," and continued to type their way through the day.
One coworker came out of her office to engage. She leaned on a counter with her face on her hand and shook her head. "It's a shame."
"I mean, it's a kid's movie! It's not that I can't stand those people. I have someone in my family with that, and I have someone in my family who is transgender. I love them dearly. But some things should stay sacred! Kids' movies should be sacred!" She said with that as if it were a disease.
"Nothing is sacred anymore," the other coworker spat.
The conversation died.
I wanted to say so many things, and ask even more. Why can't kids know about homosexuality? Is that an adult topic? Do you think kids who have crushes on other kids never crush on a child that is the same gender? How do you love someone so dearly but speak of their sexuality as if it is a condition, a disease, an illness? You don't think that bringing it up to younger kids will make those who might be homosexual feel less alone? Or do you think it encourages homosexuality? If it does, then wouldn't heterosexual relationships on movies and TV we see encourage heterosexuality? How much are you fighting those other causes, or is homosexuality a special cause for you?
I don't expect answers that I'm willing to accept. They're usually tied to religion and the perceived wrongness or deviance of homosexuality. I just like to force people to explain their prejudice and biases.
I will question you into the ground.
But I was tired. I get tired of speaking up when people say stupid shit.
But that is my hetero-privilege. I'm never scared to publically display affection to my husband. I never worry about our marriage suddenly being delegitimized because the wrong man was voted into office. If I get tired of fighting, I can look away and pretend the conversation never happened.
I will do better next time.
*Image from http://www.avclub.com/article/beauty-and-beast-will-be-first-disney-movie-featur-251283
Young and maybe naive.
How often do you read old writings? How do they make you feel?
My older writings are cringeworthy. I regularly feel shame, sadness and anger. I've always been hard on myself; it's reflected in my writing. What I was surprised to see is how hopeful I sounded.
Here is something I found; it was probably around 2008-2009.
"I almost went back to school to get my MBA because that is the logical career choice that has been mapped out by the road that I'm on. I was able to save myself from reason, and make my own map based on what I've always wanted. I've always wanted to save the world. I've decided that I want to save people. I have been lucky enough to have a solid foundation, and even if I've gotten stuck in a certain set of circumstances, I've been able to save myself.
I feel that I've been put here to help others succeed. In all my jobs, in everything I do in my life, I put others first. Although that can be a personal flaw, that is the same trait that is necessary in working in Human Services. Although I don't have a lot of job experience, I have what it takes. I have the compassion, the strength, and the drive to make it back into social work. All I need is to continue my education to get there."
Um. Who was the intended audience? Did I view my blog as a resume? Who was I trying to impress?
Save?? I actually used the word "save" in dealing with other people? I have to allow myself growth, I know. Growth means making mistakes and being stupid. This is so stupid that it enrages me. Girl, shut up and stop being a martyr. Your mental health decline was nowhere near worth the effort. Stop getting your worth from other people.
It's nice to be needed. It's nice to be appreciated. But Godammit, appreciate yourself and stop needing others to appreciate you.
Life has beaten the shit out of you. Put on your oxygen mask first.
I miss being able to write.
I miss the warmth that comes from
the creative juices
running through my body
as the keys click under my fingertips.
I force my mind to take a turn,
but the barricades send me on a detour
sending me on a ride full of reflection-
navigating a minefield
I've already been through.
Monochromatic and dusty;
I play in the silence
revel in the isolation
until I trip over a trigger
that brings on en emotional explosion.
THIS is why I stopped writing.
Opening a door to a funhouse
is how I enter a mindspace
of the cliched darkness and anger
I live my life trying to escape from.
viewing myself as a monster
A warped image of me.
Fighting for self love
while trying to flee the images
too afraid to look at myself too closely.