Love and I: A Poem in Three Parts

I.

I was once told the way I love was “too much.”
I didn’t understand.
Was the love too deep? Too needy? Too obsessive?
Did I give too much, or not enough?
How could I feel so inadequate, so “not enough,” and still be called “too much”?
There is a loneliness in the way I love, now.
A fearfulness, now.
A worry not to give too much away, or I’ll be caught out.
“Aha,” they’ll say. These people I love so dearly, these people I adore.
“There it is. The raw aching neediness.”
“Look at her. So weak.”
So I struggle not to suffocate them.
I suffocate in loneliness instead.
Hesitant over every touch
Holding back every gesture
Always taut, ready to back away, ready to run.
It feels like a curse to be blessed with so many beautiful people in my life.
And still worry, now, always, constantly, that if I showed them the depths of my affection
I’ll lose them
Knowing, as humans are still social beings,
that if I don’t show enough, I’ll lose them
And I resent the unfairness of it all
Love shouldn’t be this tied to fear
Love shouldn’t be this lonely
This ache a perpetual gaping wound
This need like a throbbing pulse
“Too much.”
“Too much.”
“Too much.”

II.

I pledge allegiance to love, unconditional, pure
I pledge allegiance to kindness.
I pledge allegiance to acceptance
I pledge allegiance to joy for joy’s sake, to guiltless pleasures

I pledge allegiance to equality, and equity, and justice
I pledge allegiance to freedom without harm
I pledge allegiance to movement
I pledge allegiance to nature
I pledge allegiance to being able to spell allegiance 10 times fast
I pledge allegiance to the people who sweep the streets, who plant the trees, who make the coffees that keep us going, the people who power our cities and who are the vertebrae of the spine that holds up our societies
I pledge allegiance to my sister
I pledge allegiance to my friends
I pledge allegiance to love
I pledge allegiance to love
I pledge allegiance always, forever, to unconditional love.

III.

Always such a dichotomy
Between who I am and who I want to be
Between fear to love and loving fearlessly
Between not enough and enough
Between holding back and that brush of touch

Always such a cliche
A Gemini with two sides that hold sway
Caught between silence and the things I want to say
Caught between leaving and wanting to stay

Always trite words that can’t encapsulate
All the swirling things inside of me
Holding my breath so they can’t escape
Constantly waiting for the moment I can exhale

Wildling

Loving you is like loving an animal half-tamed
Learning patience when you leave, always wishing that you’d stay
Always careful not to push, always letting you lead the way
You wild thing, you
So kind and sweet and gentle
But always so afraid

My love for you is tender, but it burns in constant flame
Craving every secret brush of touch, every lilting of my name
Every smile from you is a victory, every laugh, every praise
But I fear you’ll find my need too great, so I bury it away

I will love you on your terms, wildling, if it keeps you close to me.

A Rumble

There’s been something shifting inside of me, becoming increasingly strange and uncomfortable. I’ve been out-of-sorts all week, though if I look back I can see the beginnings of this period having started before then, slowly building.

I’ve had phases of my life like this quite regularly. I call it a down-cycle, or sometimes just, “my brain is getting bad again.” But I don’t know if that’s actually it, this time. I don’t feel terrible, necessarily, or depressed. Just strange, listless… unmoored. There’s a weird fog I’ve had to wade through to get through my days, always with the sense that there’s things I’m missing, things I’m forgetting to do that are supremely important.

I can’t bring myself to dredge up the appropriate panic for it. I can’t tell if that’s because I’m learning self-forgiveness, or if I’m simply too numb to care right now.

It’s a strange place to be, emotionally. My hope is that it leads more to growth, that it’s just the beginnings of a new beginning, my psyche preparing for the day I’m no longer tied to one of the places I’ve been part of for so long, a place that’s brought immeasurable experiences, made me lifelong friends I love with all my heart, but also given me so much pain.

That day is approaching sooner than I usually think, and there’s a jarring feeling everytime I remember that.

It brings a rumble, beneath the surface.

A shaking off of dust, and rust.

Bits of me I’ve lost, trying to return.

Learning to trust my work again

I’ve talked about and/or vaguely alluded to my job a lot, and how much turmoil it’s been giving me. Then I resigned, and now it’s just an attempt to survive what remains of my notice period. In the meantime, I’ve actually started doing some freelance work on the side, and it’s shown me just how much my job has – to put it bluntly – fucked me up.

I second-guess pretty much everything. I never know if I’m doing a good job or not, or if I’m simply not working fast enough, well enough, consistently enough. I worry that they think I’m lazy or uncommitted. I worry they think I’m stupid. I’m scared of making a single move without running it by them, and constantly have to resist the impulse to do so because I know that’ll just make me look like an unsure ninny. I am an unsure ninny.

It’s such a head trip, when you’ve been working for people who treat every mistake like the end of the goddamn world, to learn how to just trust yourself again. I’m trying to turn off that voice in my head that’s constantly second-guessing, or at least ignoring it long enough to get the job done. “If I screw something up, they can give me the feedback and I won’t do it again,” has been the best “screw it” type assurance I can give myself.

I don’t know how long it’ll take before I can finally feel safe again. Honestly, given my own constant battles with self-worth, I don’t know that I ever will 100%, but it was never as bad as it’s gotten lately, and if I can at least get it to a more manageable level, I’ll be okay.

Just gotta trust that I can do a good job. Or at least a fair job, consistently. And if I fail at something, I’ll just learn from it. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not. (Baby steps.)

Reconnecting (on quantity vs quality)

There’s a lot I’m trying to unpack in my life. Emotionally, professionally, spiritually, I’ve taken quite a few hits these past few years, and fallen into more than one rut. My life’s path has been riddled with potholes.

That’s not to be all “woe is me, I’m so unlucky and everything sucks.” On the contrary, for the most part I have been extremely fortunate, and continue to be privileged in a lot of ways.

I’m just saying – as with most of us on the planet these days – there’s a lot going on right now.

And because there’s a lot going on right now, I’m trying to reconnect with the original purpose of this blog– which is to be an outlet for me to just speak my mind, share my arts such as they may be, and not get too hung up on perfection.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t come easy to me. Given the choice, each blog post would be an artfully-worded paragon of prose, each story or poem a literary masterpiece, each doodle worthy of museum exhibits. Well, actually no, I do know my limitations better than that. But I sure would work to get them as close as possible to the point of not posting at all because I haven’t measured out each word down to the commas and full stops.

So now, inspired by this article by Austin Kleon, I want to move away from obsessing over quality and just get words out there.

Use this space for the amateurish practice that will help make me a better writer, communicator, human.

Though I promise, not all of them will be the disjointed near-stream-of-consciousness style I’ve adopted of late.

The Right Moment

I spend so much of my life waiting.

Waiting for the right circumstances, waiting for the right people to say/do the right things.

Waiting for that “right moment” to do… anything. Especially the things I know will make me happy in the long run.

Reading Derek Sivers’ book, Hell Yeah or No, I came across a piece that wound up explaining, for the most part, what this winds up looking like: Too many ands. As he puts it:

My unwritten condition for when to exercise was this:

When it’s a nice day, and I’ve finished my work, and I haven’t just eaten, and I’m feeling energetic.

But of course that rarely happens, so I wasn’t exercising enough.

Derek Sivers, Hell Yeah or No: What’s Worth Doing

I can’t go train Parkour unless I’ve finished my tasks for the day AND I haven’t just eaten AND I feel up for it, AND there isn’t much traffic AND I can make it on time. I can’t write a blog unless the timing aligns with the different timezones AND I’ve caught up to my reader a bit AND I have any sources lined up AND- well, you get the idea.

Over and above these conditions, though, is something a lot more intangible. Some sort of strange, “It’s not right,” feeling that isn’t instinct so much as a weird delay of gratification because of this need for an ideal set of circumstances.

My girlfriend gave me the gift of one of those retro gaming consoles. I love it, but I never play on it. Because of some vague sense that the environment isn’t perfectly set up for me to sit and play. Too much potential for interruption, too many steps between finding where it’s safely stored, through to unboxing, through to making sure my family doesn’t see and judge me for it.

I’m tired of waiting for special occasions. I want to just do the things that make me happy, and write and post when I want to, and train when I want/need to, and the rest will come with time and the independence of moving out.

Until then, I know, logically, that the moments will only ever be as right as I can make them. So to the extent that I can control it, I want to stop living my life on pause, waiting to be free enough to live.

Back to One

It has been four months since my last post.

Four months since I even logged onto this blog.

How fitting that my last post was about being “Consistently Inconsistent

A lot has happened since then. A lot that swept me away into the currents of daily life – mostly, my job – where I was very much struggling not to drown. It got rough, and there were days where I had no idea how I was feasibly going to make it through. Days where I forgot how to be a person, beyond waking up, doing my work as best I could for over 10, 12, 14 hours a day, and going to bed feeling like an abject failure.

Until I’d had enough.

With no backup job lined up, no real idea of what I wanted to do or where I wanted to work, I resigned.

Since I first made the decision, and had the conversation, it’s been remarkable how good it felt. The work still sucked, the days were still long and often bad, but I could finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I could finally see how much of my life, my health, and my emotional well-being I had sacrificed (pretty much all of it) for the sake of this one place.

Most importantly, I could finally see how much life there was out there to live. All the opportunities that were waiting, and people who truly cared and were willing to share those opportunities with me. The books to read, the places to experience, the people worth connecting and reconnecting with.

I don’t have it all figured out yet. I’m still not 100% sure where my life is heading come February end, when my notice period is officially over and I’m free.

But I do feel… comforted by the endless possibility.

And, for the first time in a long time, hope.

So here I am again, rekindling the pieces of myself I had set aside, trying to get to know myself and my passions again.

Starting over, one more time.

Consistently Inconsistent

I have always struggled with consistency.

Well. Not always. As a child I was obsessive about my passions, with seemingly endless reserves of energy, curiosity, and creativity to channel.

I was constantly writing poems and short stories, and reading books that I was sometimes too young to even understand.

I would be outside everyday, eager to explore and try new things. Climbing, running, jumping.

I taught myself how to ride a bike without training wheels, spending weeks practicing in the narrow corridor outside our apartment, one hand on the wall. I still have a scar on my finger from a particularly nasty fall during one of those sessions.

I taught myself how to inline skate. Then how to jump on them. Then how to go backwards and do simple slalom tricks.

But all that was a long time ago.

As the years have passed, my ability to stick to the things I want to do has dwindled. I keep abandoning writing projects. I’m inconsistent with my physical therapy and my workouts and my Parkour training.

I start things. I stop them. I start them again. And then they gather dust.

There’s far less issue with projects or tasks that have external factors involved. My studies, and now with work, I channel almost all my energy into because other people are involved. Other people are going to be disappointed. There’s consequences beyond my own disappointment in myself.

But when it comes to the things I claim to love… Reading, writing, Parkour… Even the things that are good for me, like my physical therapy, or better sleep/eating habits. It all goes to shit, really fast.

I can go on forever about all the possible reasons/excuses why. My struggles with mental health. My family slowly choking out my passions because they weren’t “productive,” so I could focus on my academics and nothing else. Maybe I don’t want it enough. Maybe I lack discipline. Maybe I’m just worthless.

Maybe it’s all of the above.

But I guess I can’t really figure that out unless I call out the problem, which is that the only thing I’m consistent at is being inconsistent.

I hate myself for it.

Clarity (Sort of)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I had a really bad day last week. The kind of day that left me feeling angry, and helpless, and sad all at once. It took several days to feel some semblance of normal. I’m still on thin ice.

But for all that, it did give me a reality check. It showed me something I’ve known for a while now, but wasn’t emotionally ready to reconcile. There’s now a level of acceptance, and a much more active determination to change the situation I’m in regardless of what the people involved will think of me.

It’s hard not to mourn the inevitable loss. People are going to get hurt. I am going to doubt myself a million times over about my decision. I’m not one to prioritize myself, see. I’ve been conditioned to focus on the comfort of everyone, at the expense of my own. That’s hard to overcome.

For now, though, the path is clear: I can’t continue as I have. I’m unhealthy, and I’m miserable, and it just isn’t worth it anymore. I don’t know that it ever was.

This won’t make sense to anyone but me, but that’s who I’m making this note for anyway. As a reminder to myself, when the doubts come creeping back in, that I need to hold fast and choose me for once. A marker of a time when my mind was clear on what I have to do, and all the reasons why I have to do it. For me, for my future, for my happiness.

It’s time.

I’m still alive

Hey, internet. It’s been a minute.

More accurately, it’s been about six weeks. Yikes.

I can’t speak in too much detail about how these six weeks have gone, partly owing to the fact that it’d give too much away about me and my work, and partly because I honestly don’t remember. I think we can blame COVID-induced memory fog for that one.

What I can say is I wasn’t doing too well, for a while. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, I was struggling. Work was a nightmare, and then it became less of a nightmare but just so busy that I was working 12-14 hour days trying to stay on top of it all. I wasn’t reading, wasn’t writing, wasn’t doing my very necessary physical therapy exercises. Was barely even eating, beyond a hastily-gobbled dinner after a long day practically glued to my laptop screen.

My life has consisted only of work. Then an hour or two of being too drained to do anything beyond eat, watch a bit of YouTube, and get to bed to do it all again the next day. Even my dreams were work-centric, and I’d wake up with my heart racing, adrenaline pumping, and anxiety swirling in my belly. Weekends were spent catching up on sleep and food because that’s all I had the mental and emotional energy for.

In short, all I could do was the bare minimum required to exist and stay on top of my performance at work. At first, I was extremely unhappy. Then the unhappiness gave way to resignation and pure survival instinct. No time for breakdowns, and hence no time to delve too deep into my actual emotional state. It hasn’t been great.

However, things seem to be slowly, slowly easing up a bit. Enough to where I feel I can start working my creative muscles again, and read again, and get back to this blog and the associated, barely-started (and long-abandoned) Instagram account. I also desperately need to get back to my physical therapy program.

I’m trying to be forgiving of myself and the funk I’ve been in. It’s hard not to fall into the spiral of thinking if I really wanted it, I could have pushed harder, been able to maintain this blog and my physical therapy and work all at once. Maybe I didn’t want it enough. Maybe I wasn’t disciplined enough and the tiredness was just an excuse. It’s still hard not to think that, looking back.

But I’m trying to move past it, to not overwhelm myself by jumping straight back into everything at once and burning out all over again. Baby steps. Little tweaks to the schedule. Little things like just updating ye few (and appreciated) readers with a very rough unedited ramble.

So here we go. Slow and steady.

Wish me luck.