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. 


how i pray // letters to my ceiling

i told You to come after me.
i challenged you, last year; to prove you loved me. remember God? even though i say i believe you died on a cross to save me from myself. from striving for morality but always too broken, from the failures & mistakes & chains of my humanity, the sharp taste of death being an end. but i asked, if you really want me? well that feels like a fairytale. it seems distant and strange. so even though i have the sacrifice of your life.

i demanded more.

because i didn't
i didn't believe you would respond
i thought you would say:
"you're ungrateful
look what i have already done?
why can't you accept it
just open your eyes
i already proved my love
you are selfish, blind, lazy
too ignorant
or too willful
too scared?
to receive it. why would i waste any more on you?
there's a limit.
you are too much."

i'm still holding my breath for the harshness.

after all the tiny love letters, all the individual alphabet pieces spelling it out
so. very. gently
i can't...my mind fragments. cause you didn't say any of that.
you say i'm... worth it.
worth so much? extravagance.

worth pursuing--no matter how fast i run away, despite my fists pounding your chest, despite the bricks of fear and pain and anger i keep throwing at
you. despite my blind ignorant blame. all my dishonesty, all my rage that we both know belongs at a different door.

you act like you think i am worth convincing
above and beyond the basic
more than life and death?

it's like you...understand?
have compassion?
acknowledge that i am fragile?

what the hell do i do with this.

because i see you
oh God, i see you.
you're running after me
you love me fiercely
you will stop at nothing, use anyone, anything; to show that you love me.

i'm terrified
and relieved
devastated by a calm understanding that all you ask of me is relaxing. letting go. easing the weight off. fragment by fragment
you want my shattered heart

mostly... i'm afraid. but i still want it?

your love

please win.



this isn't supposed to be like this.

i'm the bad guy in this scenario, i hurt you. unintentionally. but, if there's blame to lay somewhere my door is the only one fitting.

i shouldn't have this war between mind & heart. my heart shouldn't be acting like it's broken. i know it seemed disconnected when you asked. but i really was thinking about grace. how much i don't deserve you. how incapable i am in this moment of my life to give you what you deserve. you didn't find me at my worst; but i'm still climbing up from it. i can't pretend that's ok. i can't give you part of me, when you should have all. i can't give you pieces when i would want all. i also couldn't say that if i had ever for one moment considered that an option...i don't know. it never crossed my mind. there's a lot of feeling hiding behind the things i don't allow my mind to access. damn... but even then i wouldn't have let myself fall for you. i can't be so selfish. i can't take advantage of your sincerity. you're not some little boy playing at romance. damn this would be a hell of a lot easier if you were. i tell myself you don't mean what you say, but you seem to have such a steady heart it makes it difficult to believe. you're intentional & a thinker & hyper-focus so as much as i'd like to pretend it's not true, you do know what you want. why and how did you ever see it in me? that's the part i'm confused about. you were right. i know i said i wasn't confused, but that was only in relation to where i needed to go with this. about whether or not we should still be friends at the level we'd grown into. i know i'm not in love with you, i don't like you as more than a friend. but i will forever be confused as to how you maintained feelings after knowing me? sometimes i think you looked at me and saw me as i truly am and chose to just care for me no matter where it went. but that's impossible. ? i created a sub-universe in my head (what's that word?) of my own years ago and i've been living in it ever since. where my armor was impenetrable. nobody could be attracted to me. not really. not with any depth or heart or reality.
this seemed fucking real.
i don't... i can't imagine that kind of courage.
do you have any idea how much you flipped my entire universe off it's axis?
you think too much of me. you're not naive, but you are innocent. you wouldn't if you had more experience with women, i think; you wouldn't choose me. not because i'm less than you or not good enough. but there's better. there are others farther along in their pursuit of being their best selves. women who are richer in character, who aren't divided within, aren't in a crises with their spirituality, who are capable of loving you as well as a human can, who aren't so afraid or difficult or stubborn. homeboy lets be real a minute, i've protected you from the worst of me so far but that won't last if you get much closer. i've held my tongue all the times our triggers collide, all the times you project on me. but that can't go on forever. not to mention you seem to have a precious heart? if true, you shouldn't settle for someone who has no idea what she's doing with hearts.

i regret all the things i couldn't say. i couldn't let my heart start beating. it felt like being frozen between time and space and pausing there, a thousand thoughts racing in my mind and my heart waking up to things that had never been considered. i don't know how i found words. it's surreal, like a code. where all the thoughts of heart and mind are battling each other but you see with startling clarity exactly what needs to be done. so you do just that. focus in on what's best for the person you're fighting for until all else fades out.
but you know there is going to be hell to pay after.

i wish i had asked for time to think & process before saying goodbye. i wish i had been a little more practical. had a few questions. i wish i had told you that i needed you for the season i had your friendship. i was drowning in isolation, unwilling to pull myself out or even unable to see that i needed too. til you told me what it looks like from outside. you're the reason i reached out to my squad, i was shutting them out and decided to just let the deepest, most powerful and amazing friends fade out of my life because the long-distance thing was too painful. but your words gave me courage to see the depth of my own need. what damage it would do to my soul. i knew all along they were worth it; but i let myself pretend to forget. i wish i'd said that you reminded me to stop running from my own depth. that your conversations re-ignited my passion for pushing in to life with all i have. i was lingering in the shallows, avoiding myself and letting my world stay in a numb greyscale. your intensity, so like my own, was a catalyst reminder that numb is worse than pain. i missed thinking deeply. missed creating space to write and process, missed engaging with the world on the level i'm capable of. i was on the ropes, and you kicked me back into the ring. i needed tangible challenges to overcome and remember what i'm made of, and you took me places i could physically fight out my fears. i wish i had said over and over until you believed me that this wouldn't work because i'm emotionally unavailable and incapable right now. not because you lack. not because of any deficit or deep flaws in you. i mean, we both have flaws a plenty. but who's to say if those would work themselves out for our growth or be incompatible? who knows if i could get over this insane age gap and not feel like i'm stealing time from you? things you won't know unless you give it a shot. while i'm being honest, you've got the kind of qualities i admire. steadiness, patience, at least with me? & sometimes your harshness dissolves into this gentleness that always catches me off guard bc i don't see it coming. maybe i could lean on you, and maybe you wouldn't crumble. but can you lean back? bc it has to be a weight sharing. you earned my respect with your handling of this and a level of trust. i instinctively knew i was safe with you, (physically) and for once in my life i went with my gut. i don't regret that. maybe i do, a little, for your sake.
because if i find myself aching in my chest? damn. i can't bear to think what you must be fighting through. maybe not. maybe it was all in your head, and it's easy to let it go. maybe you're only attracted to me because i make you feel superior. maybe it's only that i'm more fubar than you. maybe i'ts nothing real and this will fade quickly. god i hope so for your sake. hearts are tricky little bastards.

i just thought maybe if i vomited all my feelings and confusion out into the void without edit or correction it may help. it's hard to let my heart take the driver's seat like this. my logical brain won't be silent, it wants to jump in to every other word. silence the emotion that doesn't make sense because it's not reflective of reality. it's not accurate. but rationality already won the day, so my heart needs this moment to exist. i'm flying blind here. i've never been pursued because i was valued for myself. i've never said no from a place that wanted linger on how lovely it could be to say yes. i've never been cared about by someone that didn't have a single damn reason, that i haven't done anything for. i've never been the one to receive all of the blessing at another's expense.

grace. un-earned, un-deserved favor or approval. that's what i was experiencing. that's what you gave me. i have just been confronted with it, full force. and it knocked me off my feet. i'm at a loss.