don’t hang lightbulbs from thread

“what are your dreams for your thirties?” 
i know she’s talking to me but it hits me with the force of a summer pool immersion. how can she drop such an earth-shattering sentence in the middle of yoga? i glance at our bird to my right, buying time. 
“me or liliya?”
“you, obviously.”
my thoughts scramble as liliya laughs and says something about how she has two years left how can she think about that yet? 
“i’ve known what my goal for thirty was since i was 27.” i say, trying to stop the words bc i can’t—don’t want —to explain them. now both friends are looking at me expectantly and i.... am empty. my mind is a mess bc feelings. all these emotions of pain & regret & the deep excruciating ache of loss swirls up to my throat. the familiar suffocation of T I M E slowly covers my heart. 
i have several flashes of realization at the same time:
these girls love me.  
i have to face this grief.
i can’t run from it anyway.
none of the trite excuses for life goals coming to mind will be convincing. 
speak. the truth. 
i cant see any other way out. 
“i wanted to be through counseling, and healthy. whole.” the last word slips out as a whisper. i duck my head and pretend to stretch. playing it off as if i wanted to surf better or learn watercolors. i hope they don’t know i have tears hovering behind my pupils, bc one hug or kindness and i will spill over. i don’t want the pacific swells of this never-ending heartache swallowing and drowning any other hearts but mine. i don’t want to explain. how so tired / no, fucking exhausted / i am of the attention trauma gets. it’s bullshit, that i’ve been working through it in stages for the past FOUR YEARS. before that, i was living it more than i wasn't. i just wanted it gone, i wanted a new focus, a new chapter. i linger on the thought that i can just act that way...but i’ve learned the hard way that you can’t just decide you’ve moved on. every new page you try to turn sticks to the last; the wet ink of abuse survivor seeps through to stain them all before you can write your new self upon them. 
i swallow all this deep in my throat. 
“anyway, i’ll find new goals. what are yours?” 

the conversation turns. i bury the rage & chasm of my heart, stepping back into the familiar mind space. but deep down i know there isn’t any escaping. why would i hope? wtf did i let myself believe things could change? that i could move on? ever have a life that isn’t constantly being dragged back to face this ugliness? i foolishly hung a lightbulb in my heart, and with one question i watched it hit the cement of reality. i’ll have to find all those pieces. 


front steps

i sat on the front steps in a corner of brooklyn, too close to government housing to be "cool" but too close to hipsters to be really "scary". trying to read the pages of my new-used book. sun was warm, breeze was cold, & i was really hoping to embrace sunday afternoon.

except it was hard to focus on the words. my damn heart wouldn't be silent. so instead i give up. look up. i see you 5 houses down, also reading on your stoop but my glance keeps going. i think i hate that you can focus and i can't at the moment.

breathe. if you can't escape your head, you might as well live in it. dive into the moment. there's a story for all the souls sharing this corner of the world with me. i invent some, deduce others:

the two old men playing chess in the housing project gated yard a few sidewalk cracks to the left? they've been enemies since grade school. one traveled the world as a grip for a documentary filmmaker, but he's come home to care for his aging sister. the other lived a quiet steady life here on this corner for 76 years. he sacrificed to send all 3 kids to college, refusing so far to live with any of them despite their asking. with all the history and brutality of life behind them, they've made peace. & become a sources of intellectual stimulus & comfort for one another.

the mexican family next door is attempting an afternoon siesta, but little kids won't stop fighting. mom + dad look at each other with tired eyes & tired shoulders, wondering if there will EVER be a day these kids love each other. or listen, or take naps again? deeper wonderings of whether they'll make it, if this country wasn't a mistake...if they're really safer here than back home? lie unspoken.

the elderly Jamaican grandmothers below me are loudly arguing about the book they're reading. i can't tell if they all equally hate the book or if they all hate different parts? but the mixed accents create a rhythm within the english words that i could move to.

the barista across the street comes out to wipe down the tables next to the college student for the 32nd time this hour. (hint: nobody has sat at them since i came out here.) she's been saving & scraping for another trip, somewhere less wild than Morocco this time. maybe france? or poland? she loves her nomad life, but deep down she wonders sometimes if maybe she couldn't be happy settled down. like all her friends with college degrees and boys or girls they come home to at night. the blond student still doesn't look up from his laptop, totally oblivious. his small fluff dog can't *quite* reach the water bowl. she slides it closer with her foot, looks at the back of college boy's head and spins back into the coffee shop.

the guy reading is apparently having the same problem i am, because now his book is closed with chin in his hands like he's solving the worst physics problem. except we make eye contact, and he ducks his head so fast it hits his knee & i'm laughing. i wonder what back story he invented for the new white girl? with her ripped jeans & grey tank top too light for the wind, scuffed vans & hair messier than the G train stop one block south. i don't think anyone's ever given me a story before? but then joe is calling "you can NOT go out with me like that, you'll scare all the cute boys away" and i stand up to get pretty-ish. he finds his book & his bravery and looks back, so i wave when we make eye contact, turning into the doorway too fast to see if he waved back like some cheesy children's book.

i really want to know what i look like through another reader's eyes. readers, we all kinda write a little. with our too-deep intellects & our too-wide imaginations. but i'm only here another 17 hours.


twenty nine. two months in, and i'm thinking this is going to be a hard year.
but one that i hope proves to be integral to growth, to healing; to looking back next year from a better place.

it seems i can't heal emotionally until i confront the lion in the corner. it's the scariest of all my demons. it's the pieces of me that were most damaged by abuse and that were at one time most important. the fragments of memory still hurt when i bump into them.

i don't know how to begin, where to start, what this looks like.
but i know i need it. i can't wait anymore. i can't let fear keep me from moving forward.

it's a strange thing, that i can't move on emotionally until i sort out who i am spiritually. the two shouldn't be connected in my head. but here they are. proclaiming loudly that they're as intertwined as clouds in a sky. i can't have one without the other.

i am terrified. i'm more scared of God than i am my father at this point. i'm afraid to let Him in. i desperately wanted healing in this relationship for so long, but now that time has dragged on and on i wonder why i wanted it. i'm dreading it. i'm afraid of what it will cost, for every victory and ground i covered spiritually in the past has had a high price to pay. i used to believe it was worth it. but now i wonder.....because i didn't even get to keep that ground or those victories. i lost everything. so much time that looks wasted from this perspective.

am i going to lose what precious little i have left?
am i going to lose my sanity, my rationality?
the lightheartedness of my personality that is so slowly coming back to life?

am i going to have to go back to living such an examined life that it suffocates my joy?
i know the heart of my faith is repenting and being made new. and part of me misses that. but mostly all i remember is struggle and hurting and you know what? i'm too tired to go back to that.
maybe that's because it was unhealthy?

but then i look at those i know still practicing their faith, still walking with God as i used to; and it looks like a lot of legalism still. some of them have joy, have peace; some of them make it look like what i want. but do i get a say in how it goes? or is this a journey where i have to submit & suffer whatever consequences? it is so subjective, so intuition-based, so feely & "hearing from God" looks so drastically different in different lives and i want concrete, i want logic, i want knowing. i don't want to live in a fog anymore. i can't stand the thought of a church. God no. i can't live with every person thinking they have a voice in my life, saying it's pride if i disagree, being constantly challenged and second-guessed. i don't mind being challenged if there's an open end or the freedom to agree to disagree; but i find that is more common with my muslim friends or friends with no faith. i sacrificed myself for community once. i can't do that again. the community kept me in the pit that was suffocating me.
is there every any freedom? can i actually walk in grace if i walk with Him or is that just a concept we throw out but never bring to play?
i can't say these things to anyone. my agnostic & atheist friends won't get it. my christian (ugh. that word and the baggage it carries--we have got to come up with a new name to separate the genuine, beautiful Jesus-followers from the ugly, morals-above-people hateful religious people)

i don't want to lose the people i love.
i don't want to get sucked into another cult like situation.
i don't trust myself to interpret the bible, to know if i'm truly walking by the Spirit or just making shit up, i don't trust God's heart or intentions or will; i don't trust His words. I trust a very few of His people. 4, to be exact.

i miss the girl who loved God. who believed she was loved. who lived out of that & for a very brief season of 21-23 lived in abundant joy because of it. but damn, she bought into a lot of lies. she was fooled and chained by things pretending to be of God but weren't; and her teachable humble heart cost her sanity for a solid year. i am so so so afraid of going back to her. the beautiful pieces were not worth the agony.
the thing is, i'm afraid creating a real relationship with God will be going back.
but...ok, lets think about this for a minute babe.
didn't you always feel torn back then too? weren't there SO MANY little voices inside you screaming that there was more, that the way your church was doing the God thing was off, that if God was love your life should be love? and all the formulas & walls & un-graciousness things you were taught, didn't you fight against them & reject them?

so maybe...maybe this will be different.
maybe you will be whole.
because maybe, you weren't wrong. maybe it was right all along-your own gut instinct- and you just couldn't break free from the boxes being stacked & built around you.
maybe you can be just a jesus follower. and love Him. & let Him love you. maybe He doesn't want to crush your soul under the weight of all you're doing wrong; maybe that was them. not Him. & maybe He doesn't want others crushed under the weight of expectations & judgments & "shoulds". maybe He just wants them to be loved, accepted, given radical grace. can you do that if you're not free to be vulnerable? um nope. can you be vulnerable with all this baggage shit? again, NOPE.

so maybe you'll grow even better at what you do best now, loving the people outside the box.
(bc deep down, isn't that what you're afraid of losing the most?)
maybe *you* can re-define "christian".

what. crazy talk. ugh it's so ick. i don't know.
i know this is a lot of emotional vomit, but i need a safe space to do that in. so here it is. all the confusion & ugliness & irrationality of my fear & bitterness talking. all the thoughts i keep hidden and don't allow to surface. they need to escape so i stop choking on them. this is what i've been running from; this ugliness.


forgiveness written in the dirt

when all i had to offer was my worst
You saw my heavy heart and loved me first
your beauty staring down my brokenness
You chose to throw Your heart into the mess
compassion crashing down upon my debt
You were there 
all this time
like a river running through my failures
you carried me all this time

[splinters & stones // united]


to the first good man i knew

damn i miss you.

it's been 8 years now, and there are many days i don't. there are times i still think "i want to show perpa this!" but it's decreased to a wee blip of missing most days.

not today.     (will the non-linear chaos of grief ever stop surprising me?)

today it's the kind of sting that makes me breathe a little slower, as if it's a true physical ache and shallower inhales will ease it. today, it stabs me with a fierce shock, the way a mountain lake ices warm skin like a seizure. i wish i could jump in my car and speed my way across the st john's... i call it the house that built me, you know from the miranda lambert song? i need it.

i need a forehead kiss. & your hug, smelling like outdoors & sunshine, wood dust & old spice; stability. i need a cup of coffee. the strong black brew with cream to make it "blonde & bitter". (i still can't recreate that perfection). in my favorite mug. mint green with the handle that curves into my hand just right...grandma keeps it on the bottom shelf above the microwave tucked in the back left corner. i need to sit next to you on the back porch. under models the airplanes you worked on swaying in the breeze. it'll be warm, and the swamp will be alive with cicadas, frogs & the occasional splash of gators. i need stories. about life & air force & Nasa, loving grandma since tenth grade, the shenanigans you & richard pulled in that tiny upstate NY town. i see it all in my head knowing my way around the streets like i do. i want to ask about stories you don't share: the gyroscope you designed for bombers in the gulf war, the shuttle engineering, the soccer scholarship you gave up so you could get a job to provide for your younger siblings instead. i need your steadfastness, your unconditional love, your ridiculous sense of humor, the way you get restless and have to take the truck on an errand nobody but us finds necessary. i need to sight down your rifle. feel the weighted balance and my own capability as i come *this close* to matching your target hits. i need to hear you talk about the difference between violence & protecting yourself. the weight of responsibility a weapon brings; the difference between outside force vs. inner character. damn, i need to laugh. i need to make you laugh, watch your eyes crinkle as you throw your head back. i need to look at your hands, and think how i hope mine are the same when i'm old. capable, calloused, tough. but still gentle with kittens & grandma & dogs & grandkids who are throwing fits over dropped blueberries. i need you. how am i supposed to live un-tethered, without you? oh i know i've been doing just fine for a while now. you would say.
but today i'm worn thin, i'm hollow, i'm fragile. i desperately want the safety net of your kindness.

i need to tell you so much. i think you know i loved you fiercely. we had the same language for that. but i had no idea at 21 how much of who i am was from you. you saved me from believing all men are monsters. you were the first good man i really knew, the best kind of man. i can't find words for the powerful influence having you in my life created. you encouraged my intelligence and resiliency; fostered my independence & courage. your life gave me the values i still carry today. you made me believe i was both capable enough to take good care of myself; and valuable enough to be well cared for. your impact is immeasurable.

i'm sorry i wasn't there that day.
i'm sorry i went home after work instead of going straight to the hospital.
i'm sorry i left early the day before, but my heart was bleeding up my throat and i couldn't keep it from seeping out, so i left before you could see me cry.
i'm sorry i was too young to have the right words.
i'm sorry i was so angry at you for leaving for a year. i just couldn't bear the loss of you both so quickly, when my world was already on fire.

"i miss you. they say i'll be ok; but i'm not going to, ever, get over you." 


perspective is a lovely hand to hold

"Celebration when your plan is working? Anyone can do that. But when you realize the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you chose to call it an epic; that's when you start to see what celebration is.  When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong that's celebration."  __shauna niequist

how i want this courage, this kind of fierce, joyful defiance.
help me let go of my perspective so it may unbend & flex into something that can find celebration. may i find the epic within the ugliness. may i see beautiful here, in the uncertainty of my tomorrows. may i create restful solitude from within the loneliness. may i trade in the hollow for healing; the cynical & bitter for wide-eyed hope. fill me.
here, in the in-between;
let me become a woman who creates space for celebration that invites others in. a place that doesn't compromise honesty but holds hope. let the lost, the hurting, the devastated & shattered find You in me. find shelter, find comfort, find the courage to see the sky.

"where there is hatred, may i bring love
where there is discord, may i bring harmony
where there is error, may i bring truth
where there is doubt, may i bring faith
where there is despair, may i bring hope
where there are shadows, may i bring light
where there is sadness, may i bring joy. 
grant that i may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, 
not to be understood as to understand, 
not to be loved as to love..."


i just finished brain on fire.

everybody should read it.  it sparked a lot of thought about things i already think about--how to fight against mental illness stigma, how to create greater empathy from the neuro-"typical" of us. how to understand better & reach out to include better & what are the best ways to communicate love to those who battle mental illness. i think this book could do some good in that direction.

but also.

i never had autoimmune encephalopathy i never hallucinated or experienced psychosis. i'm very grateful for this, and i wouldn't say that i have come close to experiencing what susannah did. it's incomparable.

but the first part of the book...shocked me with how releatable it was? the memories it stirred. i know what it's like to cave in, to lose pieces of your thought patterns and feel disconnected from your own neurons, to hide it for so long until you appear to flip personalities overnight but really you've fallen apart at the seems for a long time now. i just...yeah.

there's a lot of that to process.
and several people to thank. i thought was incredibly hard to love my whole life. (sure, mostly r/t abuse & for all the wrong reasons. i'm still difficult but for different reasons now lol) BUT what i didn't appreciate back then was that it could cause pain. that it probably hurt those i loved. the ones i let in were my closest, longest friends; i'm sorry they had to see me so devastated, broken, defeated, fragile. unable to sleep or eat or function as i used to. i believe i have communicated how grateful i am that they stood by me. but; i better understand with some distance just how that could have been. how mentally ill i was. & i don't think i can ever thank them enough. i jokingly refer to it as "that year i lost my mind" but truly, i did. it was a mental breakdown.

i haven't taken my healthy brain and functioning mind for granted ever since.
especially as there are still parts of me missing.


bury the horse

i'm sitting here in the break room cycling between red's "hold me now" & coldplay's "death & all of his friends in my ears. eating my weight in bacon for breakfast bc bacon makes everything survivable, am i right?

my demons are having a party in my head, my survival skills are kicking my ass. i wish i could have done things different yesterday. i wish i hadn't trusted my intensivist, i wish i'd spoken up about my instincts & trusted them, thought them out & verbalized them instead of shoving them down as stupid. i wish i'd been more aggressive. but in reality? my supervisors were fighting for my patient and if they could only get so far...common sense says i couldn't have done more.

even here, there reaches a point where control is an illusion. where i either have to face my weakness & limits as a human, or ignore it. sometimes i think it would be so much easier if
i only believer in what my eyes could see. if there was less weight to it all, if people were just flashes of brilliance in an infinite universe. but i don't. i believe we are immortal, stories; sparks that flame for a moment on this earth and then continue to our full blaze in eternity. (what. that still makes me a lil squeamish.) 

anyway. it matters. people matter. there's so much more than what my eyes can see. so ima fight. maybe i made mistakes? but it's over. i'm a damn sure not make the same ones. if i really believe in this God than He will fill up the cracks of my humanity with Himself. 

so i'm not gonna battle from beginning to end, not going cycle/recycle revenge on myself, not gonna follow death and all of his friends.  going to fight this out now. take a breather. gather my courage and strength so i can go hard until the day i die. i wanna meet death squarely; looking it in the face bleeding & beat up and able to say i'm ready, bc i left it all on the field.