Trapped in a day job

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How hard and cold

My soul in its harness, with

The wind before me, and

The hounds at my heels.

How barren the future seems:

In tiptoe-d health and hidden pain.

I walk the path, and

It burns, and

Cuts my feet.

Pirates, pain and Superdog

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Yesterday the world escaped me, and I was left on a perch at the edge of time.

My face froze as the last warm beat of my heart faded into the fog. My eyes drew down and my arms became heavy with presentiment and pain.

I felt gravity pulling me, my claws digging in out of a reflex that I wouldn’t have credited could still be in me. The past became a future torrent while I hobbled in a present that no longer mattered.

I was neither me, nor not me.

Muttley did his job when the spell cracked me open and I fell to the floor and sobbed. He jumped and pawed and nuzzled me. He licked my hands. He bought me toys. He didn’t leave me until my breathing calmed.

And then, when I started crying again, he began again.

He worked on me like a baker working on bread, a sculptor on clay. The touch of his fur became a fixed experience that I could pivot on. His patient, insistent nose gave me turbulence. This gave me motion and eventually got me off the floor.

I don’t know what dark pirate stole my will yesterday. Today, all around me are streamers of longing and loss, sarcasm and despair. I batter them away with my arms and try to shout my resistance. All I manage is the touch of fur and a cold nose which reminds me I am here.

The King and my Shame

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I am accustomed to suddenly being afraid.

It happens when a stray emotion floats down from a movie, or out of the eyes of a friend. The bubble bites me, and then connections are made which leave me breathless and terrified.

Sometimes I see fear in the soft warm glow of an orange sun as it tiptoes quietly from a room. Sometimes it’s in the warm fuzzy feel of a balloon’s taut skin.

Tonight I heard the voice of a person who wants to be in my heart, and all I heard was shame and cruelty. I felt small and unfit. His voice reminded me of someone long ago. Maybe it was from the black-hole time that I can’t remember. Maybe that’s what He sounded like, I don’t know. Maybe it was one of the men of my past who took in my games and show-dog pain and gave out absorption and indifference. Maybe it was one of those who pinned me down and took my soul, telling me they loved me.

I can’t identify the voice. I can only react. My shame has exploded out of me and I don’t want to be me any more. I’m so tired. Can’t I be someone else for tonight?

I’m reminded suddenly of my father. He had a deep, rich voice that sounded like firelight and whiskey, and when he said “Hello, A—-“ it felt like I was being received by a benevolent King. He thought I was worthy. If only I could think the same.

Squid, drawbridges and stardust

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I’ve been thinking about how we let people into our lives.

It’s an engineering problem, I guess – how to raise a drawbridge – but I think it’s also about reality and dreams.

When I was younger, I voyaged with my sails up and I created my reality with courage and hope. Reality was a living and evolving idea that existed all around me. I swam through it like a squid: alternately reaching then yielding as I glided through its waters.

Now, reality is a concrete pillbox that I wear around my neck. It is a fixed embodiment of my life’s experience and the template against which all further adventures are judged.

Instead of creating reality out of the energy and stardust of our lives, we move through our tiny lives actually constrained by our reality.

It is the cage into which our dreams must fit.

So, what does that mean for a new relationship?

Instead of experiencing him like a child experiences Christmas morning, I am assessing whether he could live within my cramped and haunted reality. Could he give himself to a girl who lives in a ghostly palace of childhood emptiness, teenage confusion, and adult loss?

Would he ever be able to give me enough kindness, friendship and love to break the locks on the structures of my truth? To shatter the lessons that I learnt. To tear down this broken, inflexible monument and free me to create a new reality out of possibilities.

My disfigured reality is fearsome and immutable in the face of all but the most heroic.

And who can find a hero in this world?

Presence

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Loneliness is a void without edges, and in its hollow cup a lifetime squats unseen.

I am more encompassing in my dull thoughts than the brightest reach of the furthest star.

But in my solitary life, I collapse within a weighted space.

Waiting for a journeyman to see me.

Hold fast in this moment and dance with me till dark.

Heavy fog and a blanket of strings

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Depression isn’t dark or veiled in clouds and foggy drama. There are no strings or swelling synthesisers to play a stirring background score. I don’t even cry anymore.

It feels like I’m being stalked. I am a dumb sentinel waiting placidly as the void approaches. Let it come. I am already there.

It is the quiet that I notice most. The air hums and buzzes like thick wool, muffling my mind and warping the noises of the world. Everything seems to slow. There is an orphaned song behind my eyes.

When I speak, it feels too loud. I feel a tickle of fear that maybe I have burst the fragile bubble-blanket which protects me.

My muscles get loose and are pinned by gravity. My throat relaxes too far into my words, leaving them shipwrecked behind my tongue. My face feels heavy and I don’t recognise myself in the mirror.

I would signal to you and tell you I’m afraid, but I cannot lift my arms.

Time, custard and bed

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I’ve been thinking a lot about time.

It’s like custard and we swim through it, holding our heads high until – neck muscles screaming and feet numb – we sink under and float to the floor of the world’s eye.

It’s like a trail of sweets laid out before our questing, greedy hands. We cram them into our mouths and waddle on, trying not to miss any and helpless to resist the forward pull of fear and wanting.

It’s like a strong wind that pushes brusquely past us; the illusion of forward motion accompliced by our senses and dreams. The parallax deceives us and we open our arms to welcome the past as it streams through our hair, knocking aside the little loose pieces of our soul.

I shower in the dark and imagine hot time washing over me, cleaning away my sins and memories until I’m ready for a fresh sleep in a bed called Tomorrow.

Black thoughts

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If I stopped

Breathing

Would the hole be filled?

Can an absence be foregone

With the strike of a sword?

In ceasing to be

Would I become?

Breath pushes and drags

Dark fuel for sadness

Will I ever get this life right?

If I was…

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If I was dust,

I’d fall through you like a cloud

And you’d never feel me

Struggling for purchase.

If I was light,

I’d blind you with my motives

And despair.

If I was an animal,

I would be forever

And I would howl like the winter

And beat myself with leaves.

If I was the night,

There would be no wall

That could cut me.

I would fly, screaming to the end.

Ticking bones and cowboy drums

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I think I overeat because food tastes like love.

When I was growing up I had no control over what I ate. Everything was chosen for me. At home and school, it was a measure I could not choose to take. When I was a teenager, what I did and did not like was the stuff of huge arguments. It was a social trial and a desperate dread. The act of eating itself became a misery as I felt my throat closing up and had to push my food down into a living, kicking tunnel of held-back tears.

I know how to recognise the angry eating. The hateful, stopper your mouth and you-don’t-deserve-to-be-thin eating. I try so hard to forgive myself and come so close. Sometimes I walk away from the fridge because I just can’t bear to beat myself with it again.

But now I recognise a new cowboy in town; a new type of bastard hunger. It’s the emptiness that needs to be filled or it will turn into a screaming maw. The black sadness that bubbles through my sobs and can only be smothered by food.

I have a family who love me. I’m not incapable of finding a man who could love me. My dog might even love me (though without kibble, I wouldn’t want to put that to the test). I don’t love me though.

It’s not enough to stop being angry at myself. I have to love myself and want to be me, myself and only I. To be able to sit and be still. To bear the silence. The seconds passing like bones ticking away.

But I don’t.

I see weakness in the mirror, and fear through my shaken eyes. I see a world full of ignorance and hatred, idiots and zealots banging drums made of skin and tears. Outside are people with eyes and teeth, and they see me for what I am – a typo in the prose.

And so I eat. Quickly, before the howls escape me and I implode.