hurt people obviously hurt people

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Five by Polly Nor

I have essentially barricaded myself in my room and I have every intention of either dying here or disintegrating into nothingness. I am open to either option quite honestly.

It’s been a trying couple of weeks. I have learned a lot, lost some friends, and gained some new ones. I have been struggling a lot with knowing how to pick my battles while also maintaining my integrity. I admit it has not been an easy journey.

I’m tired of defending myself or defending others (no one ever asked me to be their advocate). I am tired of being told that “hurt people hurt people”. I am well aware of that fact as someone who is hurting day in and day out.

We are all hurting.

I wish I didn’t feel the need to comment on every little thing. I wish my brain would turn off and not judge people or come up with snarky commentary. But at the same time I don’t wish any of these things because my voice is my strongest asset.

I am entitled to speak up when I see something that is not okay. I am allowed to call someone out if they’re being disrespectful. And I am more than allowed to tell you if I think you’re a total two-faced scumbag.

And conversely, you are all entitled and allowed the same things.

It’s what you do with the “constructive” criticism or the character assassinations.

I have learned the most when someone looked me in the eye and told me I was acting like a complete moron and that I needed to check myself. But I also learned the most by taking that commentary and sitting alone with it. By sitting alone and parsing through it to see if there was any validity to the words.

Were the words to help me or hurt me? And ultimately, does it even matter?

You answer to yourself every morning and every night.

We are essentially lonely beings who search for something to fill the void but I am slowly learning the void is there for a reason and it will most likely not be filled.

I think that’s okay. I think it’s okay that we’re all empty, broken, and complicated humans. I think it’s okay for people to engage in dialogues or monologues or endless diatribes.

A friend recently told me, “you can always change the channel.”

Sit with that for a while.

You.

Can.

Always.

Change.

The.

Channel.

And you can always turn off the TV if it really comes down to it.

 

you are allowed to be crazy so long as you read the fine print

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art by lora mathis

Last night I took an inordinate amount of shrooms and I suddenly found myself feeling every repressed feeling surrounding my father’s passing. I was just out with a friend and then BOOM! I was pressed down by the immensity of the love and loss I quieted nearly six years ago. And obviously because I am the most irrational rational human this side of the Mason-Dixon line then I decided I needed to go see my dad.

Naturally.

I wanted to be where my dad was. I wanted to fly directly to Kenya and sit with him for the first time since the pallbearers lowered his casket into the red soil of the village. I wanted to feel his presence one more time by any means necessary.

I regret now that I tried to share my experience with various family members and friends. I regret that I was vulnerable and naked and I showed the part of myself I worked so hard to hide from the world all these years.

And the emotions I felt were not limited to my father’s passing. I was also feeling the entire weight of years of repressing my emotions and ideas in order to make other people feel comfortable. I quieted my own heart song in order to allow other people to feel more at ease.

I wanted to go to Kenya because that is where it all began and daily I wonder who I would be had my parents not decided for me at such a young age that I had to grow up in America. That I had to be oppressed and silenced and broken down because of the color of my skin or a difference in chromosomes.

So I went to the airport. I made the decision to purchase a one way ticket and just go home. I just wanted to go home and be next to my father. I wanted to see my family. I wanted to just give the big ole middle finger to this American dream and go back to where my dreams all began.

I made the mistake of calling my mom and one of my best friends to tell them where I was and where I was going and of course they attempted to intervene. Christ, I have had so many interventions that I could probably start sitting in on them and guiding people as to the correct and incorrect modus operandi.

I was met by a delightful young man named Rod who worked for United Airlines and he told me he didn’t think I really wanted to go to Kenya with just a backpack and two books. He kept telling me what I wanted as if I wasn’t fully present and fully capable of discerning what going to Kenya on a whim meant.

But I did understand and I still understand. And when two paramedics showed up with six police officers I fully understood that what I wanted was irrelevant. I understood that it didn’t matter if I recited Dante’s Inferno in its original language and told you all of Anna Karenina’s family members names or what Sylvia Plath was wearing when she died.

None of that mattered because everyone else saw what they wanted to see even though I was trying to show them what I was seeing. I was seeing my truth. I was seeing things more clearly than I had ever seen them before.

I am back in Logan Square after signing an AMA form for the paramedics and rolling my eyes at the people in blue. Because I might be crazy but I am free from the chains and weight of other people’s expectations. And next time I’ll just smoke a joint and buy my boarding pass before going to O’Hare and I certainly will not call my mom or my best friend.

I am a smart, strong, and genuine individual and gone are the days of asking permission to be who I am. Gone are the days of feeling as if I am stepping on someone’s toes by experiencing the world the way I experience it. I have spent time being psychoanalyzed. I have taken the countless medications. I have talked to multitudes of people and no one has ever offered me something even close to insight as to why I got the brain that I did.

Why some days are technicolor and other days are grayscale and other days are a mix of the two.

Honestly, I don’t even care what color my days are anymore. I’m just happy I’m alive to see the entire rainbow and then some.

 

you’re the dealer and the stoner with the sweetest kiss I’ve ever known

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from The Kitchen Table Series by Carrie Mae Weems

If I had a choice I wonder if I would choose to be a black woman from the beginning. I wonder if I would choose to be an immigrant, an artist, a marginalized part of society. I have learned so much walking around in this shell of blood and DNA and madness. I have learned so much and become more empathetic as a result of my experiences.

But I have also learned that people don’t want me to ask questions, to speak up for myself, or to exist confidently. People preferred when I was insecure (I still am) and I was crippled by the uncertainty of my existence and the world around me.

I have been called more terrible things by people now that I am living authentically. Now that I won the war inside my own head I am now stuck in a war against the world.

But you know? I am not worried about it. I am prepared to learn and fight and grow in whatever way the universe needs me to. I am not phased by the haters. I am not worried about people who want to tear me down because I have worked hard to build myself up from a very dark place.

I expect to still have darkness come creeping in. I know there will be some days where I will cry nonstop and the world will be unkind and try to make me participate in its insanity but for once I don’t need to let it into life.

There are a lot of people who have incredibly awful things to say about me. And I have made my mistakes, sure, but I am more than the sum of my parts. I know that. No, actually I believe it with every fiber of my being.

I won the war in my mind (for now) and I am at peace with myself.

The rest is just white noise.

you accumulate garbage and it makes you beautiful

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art by lora mathis

i’ve been feelin’ brand new lately, feelin’ A1, feelin’…myself. i don’t know when everything shifted but i am eternally grateful that they have. for the longest time i would read books and poems and prose and wonder when i was going to make it through the proverbial storm. i would be anxious and worried that the status quo was indeed the status quo and i was doomed to be a thotpiece forever and ever.

but somewhere between the vomiting and the depression and the drugs and the insane manic episodes everything fell into place.

the stars aligned and my shoulders began to feel a little lighter. my heart wasn’t as empty and cold and my eyes could finally see something besides the paralyzing sadness.

i have been nonchalantly joking that it’s only a matter of time before a meteor crashes down and ends this bliss. and honestly that would be totally fine. totally.

but i hope it waits a little. i hope i get a few more years before i am burned to death while covered in coconut oil.

i spent so many years hoping i would be happy. that i would be less depressed. less drunk. but i realized that happiness isn’t a feasible goal. yes everything is A1 but also i am sad. i am sad and angry and overwhelmed by this entire human existence.

and that is what humbles me. that is why i know i am finally ready for whatever comes next because truly, how strange, how goddamn strange it is to be anything…at all.

so i will keep one eye out for that meteor but i also fully intend to enjoy it while i got it. whatever it is, it is truly, undeniably, absolutely strange and wonderful and broken and real.

that’s real.

 

wtf is a safe space

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Be You But Better by Polly Nor

 

You’re an adult so you’re supposed to deal with this life shit on your own. You’re supposed to figure out how to pay that bill. Navigate that relationship. Make sure you show up to such and such place on time.

There’s a clock.

It ticks slowly.

I imagine it sounds much the same as my anxious heartbeat.

I used to drink a lot in order to steady the beat but unfortunately that just made my hands shake.

I tread cautiously as I attempt to navigate this paltry existence. As I try to maintain this facade passed down to me through a line of blood that’s practically drowning me.

Swim. March.

Keep up this impossible pace set by a universe I’ll never understand.

 

something, nothing, whatever

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photography by Viviane Sassen

Alexandre Dumas wrote in the final pages of The Count Of Monte Cristo that, “in order to know how sweet it is to live one must needs have wished to die.”

Today as I laid in bed talking myself out of yet another manic episode/panic attack/whatever you want to call it I kept repeating those words in my mind. Inbetween trying to decide which wrist I would slit first, or whether I would tie the beautiful cum stained fabric from Kenya around my neck, or if I would just Elliott Smith it up and take one swift stab to the chest…I allowed my mind to just take a quick gasp and think of what…what worthless, meaningless, nothingness I would somehow miss out on if I finally ended it all.

I think about killing myself all the time and I’ve been trying since I was twelve. That’s no badge of honor, it’s just crippling, gut-wrenching, and debilitating depression.

Some people’s hearts are trying to kill them. Some have bum livers. Some have bum…whatevers. But every day some of us fight…no, actually, sometimes we barely manage to lift our heads or put one foot in front of the other…let alone on the fucking floor. But either way, every day some of us fight our fucking brains which don’t want us here.

Brains that see the darkness and the emptiness of this whole existence. And we cling to the littlest glimpse of nothing…even if it is a little something.

I am tired. I am so fucking tired of being depressed and trying to find a way to not just hop in front of the CTA (which for the record wouldn’t even kill me unless it was going express).

And as I laid here not less than thirty minutes ago I ran through every reason to die, and every reason to stop and just…be done with it all. And then I followed up with the little things. And then I weighed my options. And then I finally thought that I have been here before and I have barely scraped by and it seems as if I will always, always, always be in this place but I’m still here.

I’m still here.

It’s more of a curse than a blessing but it’s something. It’s all something. I don’t know if my life is “sweeter” because I have wished death upon myself. But I know that maybe, just maybe, it’s not as bad as the time before or the time before that. Because every time I wrestle with that goddamn demon masquerading as a brain, I come out a teeny bit stronger. But of course those who wish to die are not weak, they’re…something.

It’s all something.

And I’m here.

And that’s something.

 

tough love

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Me, Ma, & Pa circa 1990

Dear Mom,

You were always my biggest advocate. If dad said “no” I knew I could turn around and you would say “yes”. It wasn’t worth it for him to fight you on a decision concerning your little baby girl. I guess I picked up on that early. How could I not? I’m not blaming you. You made it so easy. I wanted simple things like going to a friends house, a new dress, some random candy at the grocery store.

But as I got older the stakes became higher. I needed rent money. I needed you to pay my hospital bills. I needed you to support me to such a great degree that eventually, after all these years, you broke. I can’t blame you. I can’t even be mad because you’ve given me so much. I just couldn’t figure out what to do with it.

I suppose I still have some figuring out to do. It would be so easy for me to resent you for not understanding my depression or bipolar disorder. For you not comprehending what I’m going through and shutting down every time I came to you in tears.

It would be so incredibly easy.

But you’re human and we are far past the point of me being just your daughter. I am an individual who fought you for years for my freedom, only one day to turn around and reject being set free. Funny how that works, no?

I have my flaws and you have yours but I cannot ignore that you have done so much for me and let’s face it, will probably do so much more. I’m not mad. I suppose I am just scared of what happens next. But god, I’ve been waiting to fly off for so long, maybe just maybe, I’ll get my wings on the way down.

All My Love,

Leli