You know how deep the water goes
And tether yourself to the ship that owns you
Even when the boat is also sinking
You bail the water the best you can but cannot beat time
Sooner or later everything finds its way
To rock bottom
People like me were meant for this
You should have been born a buoy
You have a habit of lightness
Others can’t help but swim towards
I know this because I am
A bottom feeder
I’ve rarely seen the surface
Of the sea
Hold your breath
See how long it takes you to feel
Your weight sink
Into the sand beneath your feet
Then try, dear god try
To bounce back
You were one of the best friends
I never had
It was easy to drown us both
But harder for me to come
Up for air
You were always a better swimmer
Next time I’ll grow gills
Next time I’ll bring lifeguards
Next time I won’t feel salty
When you let go.
I try not to think of my grandmother often. I don’t think I’m ready yet to process the grief of losing her, or the guilt associated with my inability to be with her as she died.
Today I remembered
how she always wanted me to climb behind her
and scratch her back
gently dragging my nails
up and down the fabric
of her nightgown
She didn’t need much pressure.
Just my fingertips
like butterfly kisses
The future me puts the present in a box
A gift to satisfy nostalgia
A reason to look back
When I know all too well
That right now
Is not appreciated
When my son asks me what he was like as a child
I will remember a growling beast of a boy
And wrap him in my old expectations
I will take my husbands smile
And hide it in a photograph
The memory of our love
Will be what I devour
But it will always feel like fate to me
And to him will always
Feel like settling
I will take this little house
And shrink it into a key
That will not open a
I will wrap the package in my carelessness
In my need to move ahead
In the amnesia of my mind
Which forces all things to be buried
I will hide the box
Under a now familiar bed
Forgetting the birds nest
I once called home
Dear Toxic Person
Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried in your mouth under your tongue. Like a cyanide pill you are always willing to bite. You are willing to destroy what nourishes you, even if it kills you in the process. You are a thousand different words for trouble and we can spot you a mile away. We can hold you close to us hoping patience is enough to heal you. Hoping the healing will come with more boulders carried to your doorstep. When you reach your hands towards others, they will feel empty. Lines will disappear between you and those who come close enough to stick. They will spend years digging you out of them. Cutting you off like you were a limb caught in a bear trap. They will learn to live without you.
Admitting the truth to my closest friends feels too much like outing myself as a red flag. Sometimes I can feel the poison inside of me. The crap shoot of brain chemistry oozing out in the sores of my thoughts and my words. I find the time to heal the wound before it becomes another scar. Another lost friend. Another job I quit before the breakdown. But every mistake I make feels more like a reason for others to leave me instead of a learning opportunity. Instead of a part of being human.
They say when there is a toxic person in your life to cut them out, but what if that toxic person is you? The sum of nurtured self mutilation and an ocean that swallows you whole every time you open your eyes. How can you escape your own tendencies to destroy yourself when it is as natural as breathing?
I have reacted to being hurt like an atom bomb. I have destroyed relationships without noticing the destruction I cause. Cut through people with my teeth and devoured the scraps. I have been abusive. I have said things I regret. I have been the reason people have left. I have been cut off at my lowest point. When I was more shadow than sugar. I was too much excuse. Too much baggage. Too much emotion. Too much fire. I was the cigarette. The junk food. The self loathing. The poison and I never realized how mercury lived in my skin. Why mosquitoes never bothered to bite me. Even the parasites knew better.
Leave the ones who need leaving. Leave anything that no longer serves you. If it hurts you, never look back. But I’m still here looking in the mirror trying to see passed my own self-hatred. Loving myself in the most ugly of times is a thankless process. A circle of shame and forgiveness and pulling out every weed that still nests its root in my chest.
I am not content with being someone else’s healing event. Their headache, their stomach pain. The illness they are trying to kill. Toxic is what I can be. But it is not who I am. In the venom lies the cure. There is an antidote in the pain. In the toxin you live with. People are are made up of chemicals, but they’re not noxious. They have bad days. They have bad years. They mess up. They make mistakes and they learn.
Dear Toxic Person
You are not mold. You are not asbestos. You are not poison. You are human. You are here. You are the shadow that helps you see which direction the light is shining from. You are not the healing event. You are the healing.