Inside/Out

Eyes-on-Fire

In my mind everything within my reach is a projectile. I can feel my hands grip tight and push the force of my musculature force through the air with great velocity anything, everything, and watch the opposing force of the unmoving wall cause pieces and parts to scatter like a drop of water against the pavement. There’s a great amount of violence in the sky when it rains. Likewise, there is a great level of violence contained within my body without cause or explanation, at least not one I can put my finger on.

Every once in a while this happens. I start to sink and the anger turned inward that fuels the darkness I feel reemerges from behind my sternum and I want to tear down the world piece by piece. I want to light the match that detonates the earth from its core. I want to breathe out fire and malice and show the world what it means to burn, to immolate internally until there’s no more room for the open flame but outwards. There are small triggers and most of them are people and memories and I have to learn to swallow them because everyone who matters knows those stories and to rehash them would serve no purpose.

Every now and again I turn sour to the idea of people because it’s people who have let me down the most. I’ve long abandoned the idea of fitting in and have decided to focus on myself and try to be happy that way. Friendship means something completely different when you get to be my age. I ask myself what I did to get where I am and it turns out to be a lot of choices that turned out to be bad ones and almost all of them were trusting people and letting them get close. I have broken myself open too many times for people who weren’t worth the mileage and I always got left stranded on the side of the road, lost, helpless, and depressed.

Nobody knows better ways to break you down brick by brick than the wrong person with your story and your heart in their hands.

My therapist keeps pushing me to keep in contact with people and talk to people because having a support system is part of managing my disorder. It’s hard to do that when you don’t trust people anywhere near the foundation that’s propping you up. Part of me knows this is all just grand assumptions I make because of my deep-seated fear of intimacy of any kind but a huge part of me just doesn’t want to deal with it. And then the fire starts and so I annihilate my body on the altar of exercise because the pain and the aggression are the best mix for me to forget I’m alone.

The pain has been more comforting than people have these past few weeks. I embrace it.

Forbearance in Lieu of Acceptance

NoControl

In some situations there are no good options. There are no solutions readily available to move you forward in any sort of meaningful way and so you must sit with the ramifications of the decisions that have been made. In this situation I had no other choice but to go through everything with the help of some friends and having to grit my teeth through the pain as I tried with all my might to move on with my life all because of the decision of someone else.

Having absolutely no control over what happens to you in a situation like this is by its very nature one of the most painful things I have ever had to sit and accept in my life. You aren’t the only one who has left me in the dust to accept my fate with no real explanation. Experience, in this case, doesn’t make things any easier to understand or to try and get past. In fact, knowing what it feels like only made things hurt even more.

I’ve come to understand that people are going to do what they feel like, regardless of how it affects anyone else because it’s much easier to look out for number one than any other number you might think of. It’s a lot easier to feed someone nothing but lies than to tell the truth because the truth hurts both parties involved.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is a process. This pain, this heartache only disappears with time and there is no set paradigm or set of steps that will tell me when I have finally passed through the blaze and the downpour to the other side of all of this. I will continue to see you in my dreams where my subconscious tells me you still have control over a good portion of my thought process and all of it is an aching melancholy that I can’t quite escape yet.

Understanding now is the fact that I have not cleansed myself of you completely and that affects me in too many ways. I don’t like it because you don’t deserve the space in my heart and in my head that you still occupy because you obviously didn’t care enough about that in the first place. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here outlining my experiences in hopes of some sort of catharsis.

I’m not looking for a reaction.
I’m just looking for a peace of mind
Something that will make it all stop.

Knowing what I know, I will likely weave my way in and out of everything I’ve already described more than once, over and again. Eventually, it will go away like you did and I’ll be free and unafraid to feel again. But for now, I’ll continue to live my life without a destination in hopes that I’ll truly accept what happened and it will disappear from my thoughts like a dream upon waking.

My hope is to be healed.
And you can’t help me.

Willing Occupant of a Deadfall

cave

“Whatever you do, don’t hide away in your room. You will just continue to sink.”

Sound advice after I broke the news. I actually thought I had escaped the darkness that has been known to pervade my consciousness, to pull me down rung by rung until I feel I cannot climb back up out of the shadows and into the light again. And how I sank. For someone who has struggled his whole life to understand what it meant to actually love and be loved, who refused to use the the three word phrase for years, I surely felt that I had those feelings emanating from the pores in my skin. That is, until the floor was cut out from under me.

Your fingertips ripped holes
in my ventricles
And the fire in my chest
was over run by water
and extinguished
with the hiss of an inhale
that accompanies unexpected pain
air passing backwards between the teeth
And the umbra ran tendrils
from my heart to my head
and rooted me to the ground
I was infected.

I did my best to outrun it and it worked for a while. I spent a lot of time with friends. In fact, one asked me to come over and hang out for the first time in months the day after it all happened. I wasn’t dark then. I was still denying the fact that it hurt and it hurt like white hot steel between my shoulder blades, scraping bone with every simple movement. But eventually, the night caught up with me and I sank.

You don’t know what it’s like to mourn the loss of someone still living.
You don’t know what it’s like when a part of you dies
because you gave it to someone else
and they squandered it
stepped on it
My heart carved up by the heel of a stiletto shoe
Don’t worry about me
you never did

Nothing mattered. I slept until it was time to go to work when I did go to work. Most days I was able to muster up the energy to drag myself from my cave in the basement and get dressed enough to get to work. I tried to inundate my brain with as much senseless media as possible as a means to forget but nothing happened. And so I sank. The ceiling fan is a welcome distraction when it’s spinning and I’ve lost the motivation to do anything on my days off. I wrote to exorcise the ghosts. I fictionalized portions so it would seem less real and I realized I was only feeding the beast by reliving everything I thought I had gotten over.

I couldn’t write anymore. That’s how down I was. And when I did it was a subject I was so sick of that I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. Every line about someone I don’t want to write about anymore.

And it didn’t help to stumble upon pictures of you and him. Just when I thought I had gotten over it, there you were. And my heart would stop beating all over again.

From here to asystole.

The Deal with the Devil in the Details

DeadManHand

The hardest part of all of this after the initial barrage of psychological baggage hitting me right in the face was ridding myself of the addiction to you. I won’t lie to myself. I was addicted to you. As far away as texts to another state and as close as a kiss on the back of the neck, in those rare occasions I felt like I had gotten something right. And I loved that feeling that it kicked in my instinct to protect myself from losing it because that was a situation I was far too familiar with and far too high-strung to handle again.

The sick and sad part was I think you knew that. And you didn’t have the courage to own up to the distance you created and I was left to swallow my panic.

Oh, well. I’ve stitched myself up before.
If you crack open my ribs
You can still see
where they stuck the needle
weaving in and out.
Out then in.
They stuck the needle in
and closed the hole
where your fingers
dug themselves in.

And after all of that. All of it I struggled. I didn’t want to talk to you because I didn’t have anything of importance to say but I told myself it would be worth it to get off my chest. Yeah, what if I just unloaded on you or sent you at text telling you how horrible a person you were and that I wished you nothing but the worst.. But there was a searing ambivalence to those feelings because I am not, by nature, violent or aggressive. I do not pick fights anymore because there’s no point. I argued with myself that I would feel justified and vindicated when, in reality, I knew that losing my temper would only make things worse. I was feeling forgotten, deleted. A gap in the text. And so, I mustered up the courage to send you one word. One.

la·cu·na
noun \lə-ˈkü-nə, -ˈkyü-\
: a gap or blank space in something : a missing part

I struggled for days as to whether or not I should even send it. Was it worth the effort and did you deserve any sort of connection with me after you ripped us apart. We had a year and a half and it felt like such a waste to throw that away completely. Maybe we could coexist, maybe we could get along, despite the knife in my back. I tumbled these thoughts in my head over and over until I mustered up the courage to send it and received no immediate response. I breathed a sigh of relief, hoping I’d heal quicker if you left me alone.

Do I contact her
Do I not
Do I put myself back out there
and risk the damage I might incur?
You said it might hurt
it might be painful
You’re damn right.
I dealt with the devil in a card game
went all in,
showed my hand
and lost it all
And in the vibrant pain of total loss
I questioned whether or not to ante up again
Do I dare
Do I dare not
Don’t know
Damned if I do.
Damned if I don’t.

The Dialogue

“You wonder if she has a conscience at all?” This ghost of a girl took her normal post next to him on the bench, smoothing out her skirt.

“It’s one of the biggest questions on my mind and it’s been driving me crazy. This is far from the first time something like this has happened to me but this one just feels so much worse than the others.” His gaze dropped to his shoes and he took a deep breath that gave him away as someone who bore the weight of his sorrows on his shoulders.

“Have you talked to her since…?” She trailed off as if mentioning the event itself might drop him like a right hook to his glass jaw.

“No! No… absolutely not. Such is my dilemma, I guess. She told me she wanted to be friends-”

She cut him off, “She actually told you that?”

“Yes. The real issue for me is that I feel like I was the one who got shafted in this whole ordeal. So, if I’m the first to make contact and tell her I wouldn’t mind being friends I feel like I’d be legitimizing what she did and give the false impression that I don’t care at all that she broke my trust. I don’t trust many people anymore, I just don’t. And when that trust is broken coming back from that should not be my responsibility, should it? I mean, if she actually has a conscience then shouldn’t it strike her in such a way that, while she may be content with where she’s at, she should be sorry for stepping over me to get there? I can’t even begin to comprehend the whole thing but if I’m as important to her as she claimed, enough to stay in contact after she kicked my heart in the ass, then shouldn’t she be the one coming to me in some form of contrition? Aren’t I owed at least that much?” He stood up, took a few steps and stopped to let the question float out on the summer air.

He glanced back. She was sitting forward with her hands on the edge of the bench, clasping it while staring at her crossed legs punctuated with sandals on her feet. She looked like she was absorbing the words he had just sprayed into the air. She was not used to him aerosolizing such invective but was willing to absorb it because that’s most of the reason she was there as far as time as time had allowed her to reveal. To him she was still a specter, an unknown. He didn’t know her and she had not introduced herself. That was important.

“This is the awkward part of these situations. You have to remember the one who is allowed to control the conversation is the one with all the power. So, yes, you would be yielding a lot of healing power and catharsis if you were to engage her in conversation to let her know that she’s important to you as far as friendships are concerned. I think you’d also be opening yourself to a lot of ache as you watch her run around with your, uh… replacement.” She looked at him to check for any emotional response. He was solid, statuesque, and staring off into the landscape of the park into the city street in the distance.

“Yeah. I can’t deal with that right now,” he said. His voice was flat.

“So, maybe you forget about her as best you can and work on you. Don’t hope for any great miracle, just know that if she meant what she said that she’ll make contact. If she doesn’t then it’s her loss. It was her loss in the first place, in my opinion.” She shrugged her shoulders.

He couldn’t see it because he wasn’t looking at her. His head dropped and he put his hands in his pockets. He took another deep breath and exhaled as much negativity as he could. He still had enough stored to last him for quite a while.

“Yeah. Yeah, maybe you’re right.” No affect. As flat as the pavement he stood on.

He started walking back to his apartment, not looking at her as he walked past where she sat. She watched him from the veil of shadows she sat within and didn’t say anything. Sometimes, there are just no more words.

The Memory of God

I think it’s funny how my memory sometimes works. I can recall a reaction, a phrase, a gesture or an obscure fact. If you know anything about me you know that I am really big into music.

I always have been.

Every year my school holds a Week of Ministry where they send teams to various parts of the country and other countries to be servants, teachers, learners and whatever else becomes necessary wherever a need arises. It can be one of the most difficult and the most intense week of your life at NCC or it can be one of the greatest experiences you’ll have. My trip was definitely the latter. There was so much amazing stuff that I may include it in a different post. It’s outside the purposes of this one. But what really made it bearable was music. And not just any music because I can’t stand current pop music of any kind.

It all started with a mix CD simply labeled “The 90’s”. As soon as it began to play I began to feel almost this synesthesia, as if I was suddenly in junior high again in a good way. As good as it can be, anyway. But the songs came flooding back to me and I still remembered

every

single

word

And the best part was having one of the trip sponsors catching me singing along to a Matchbox 20 song and asking me with a bit of a look of shock on her face

“You like Matchbox 20?”

It seemed a silly question to me but in the moment I understood the real story behind the question. I don’t look or perhaps exude that kind of vibe that I would be interested in a pop album that was released 15 years ago. But I told her with great confidence that I’ve owned the album since it came out and I still listen to it. In fact, I happened to have it on my iPhone. Some people find it amazing what we remember, even something like Matchbox 20’s album “Yourself or Someone Like You” or the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Dizzy Up the Girl”. I find it amazing too. I got a smile and a high five for my memory.

People can connect on the simplest of things.

But it’s the simple things that turn out to be the most powerful sometimes. They let us know that other people are human too even when we feel like we have no common ground whatsoever. What I’ve found is that there’s always common ground but sometimes you have to be willing to search for it.

Probe a little.

Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. And remember the smallest of details.

I remember a time over a year ago where my life felt as if it had sunk to its lowest depths. Before the winter hit I had gotten over it completely and had moved on to a completely new neurotic obsession of some kind, I’m sure. If you haven’t been reading my blog up until recently you don’t know anything about the disaster that was second semester last year. The short version of the story was that I had my heart broken repeatedly by the same person until finally she ran away in fear of the pain or so I thought. I learned that sometimes life needs to be restarted so you can heal the wounds you have so that you can then work on the actions that kept inflicting them. I know now that’s really what should have happened. But for the longest time I obsessed over the pain she caused me and then I gradually begin to let it fade.

Then I forgot it.

I’ve often wondered if I have truly forgiven somebody once the pain, the anger or whatever negative emotion I’ve been feeling is gone. Most of the time forgetting is a byproduct of time elapsing and my moving on. I don’t always forgive.

Because then I remember and it all comes washing back. I find myself staring at something, not really seeing and just imagining scenario after scenario after scenario. It just gets me even more worked up. But something strange happens sometimes when you’ve truly forgiven someone. I know because it’s been happening to me lately. That girl who wrecked shop on my life over the span of just a few months came back to my mind for reasons I’ve yet to ascertain. Part of me really wants to see if she’s still out there and I’ve wrestled with the idea of trying to contact her, I guess.

But I remember her.

Because I asked her questions. I got to know her.

For the first time in a long time I put myself out there and she saw right through me. In turn, though, I saw the tiny little details and I could see her heart sometimes.

Memory can be powerful and meaningful but at the same time can cause some of the deepest pains and reopen some of the oldest wounds. Have you ever wondered how, in some of the most random situations, your memory brings back feelings you thought you were long since dead? Truth be told, it’s why I’m so neurotic, I think. Dr. Ekman refers to this as “importing scripts”. The idea is that you have been so conditioned to certain stimuli that your brain will instantly bring in the feelings and emotions it attaches to that situation or ones that are related to it. It’s part of the reason why someone who has been abandoned time and time again will start to react when something comes close to feeling like abandonment.

Your mind remembers that pain.

God remembers too.

Better than that, God knows.

God knows the very number of hairs on your head better than I can recall the words to “3 AM”. He knows the pain and the depression I endured because he knows everything about me and has since before I was born. Since before you were born. God doesn’t just remember like we do but he knows as a fact the most finite and infinitesimal things about who we are and what we are capable of from the 90’s pop albums to the most intense emotional pains. Every tear that’s been cried, every smile that’s ever broken free in someone’s face like rain from a cloud.

And God is not distant, watching our pain from a golden throne. He actually entered human history in the form of a child. That child became a man and interacted with human suffering and sin on a daily basis for three years, all the while saying that he too was human but that he was also God. The writer of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV) All this to say that God became man and every encounter he had that we have recorded in the Bible all stare these pained and suffering people and said, “I know”. To add an exclamation mark to this already profound story, Jesus is subjected to some of the worst physical torture that anyone could imagine and nailed to a cross.

Think about that.

Think about all the terrible things that have happened to you. At their worst they could not begin to amount to the cumulative pain, suffering, mocking, humiliation that all lead up to an undeserved death.

And yet, through it all, we now have someone real to follow who can, without a doubt say when everything else falls, fails, wins, loses, draws, dies, withers and loves, probably one of the most comforting things that could strike us between the ears.

Jesus says,

“I know.

I

remember.”