There is a price, my darlings, to growth. The weight of change weighs heavily on the heart as you try and make yourself believe, truly believe, that you are a main in character. That you are worthy and easy to love. I’m hoping form will follow function, if I act like I believe, some day I truly will. But these weeks of confidence and burying nagging thoughts and old habits of believing the worst of yourself and the love you hope you have will creep up on you and you’ll battle an anxiety attack, assuaged only by repetitively drawing flower after flower. Our demons don’t want to let us go so easily and no amount of glitter eyeshadow can fix that. But I’ll continue to wear it and the outfits that make me feel powerful in the hope that one day I’ll wake up and truly believe my own rhetoric.
My heart weighs heavily on my chest and some days I wonder how much longer I can go on like this. My shoulders ache from carrying it. Like a too tight bra strap at the end of a long day, leaving marks, ridges. It is not natural. I dream of prying open my ribcage, digging out the cumbersome organ. It was yours to keep. Why did you give it back? Instead you filled it with a heaviness and pushed it back into the cavity when I wasn’t looking. How did I not notice the return? I woke one morning, barbells on my chest, with you, nowhere to be seen.
I have changed my hair. I wear different clothes now, new lingerie, there is no common intimacy anymore. I have changed so much of myself, to spite you.
But you still know what makes me laugh and how I make my tea. You know that I’m loud when I’m happy and quiet when I’m sad. You know what makes me smile when I think no one is looking, that I talk fast when I’m nervous. You know that you still make me nervous.
I hate that you know me.
At twenty eight, you
will finally be
at peace with yourself.
All it took was
four months of being
loved by someone else,
caressing your hand
with their thumb and
in your ear.
Six months of
learning what it’s
like for someone to
offer you everything
you’ve ever wanted
and then two weeks
later take it all back.
Watching them offer
it to someone else instead.
One and a half years of
unearthing every hurt,
remembering every tear.
Two years of medication,
coming to terms with
the fact that you are
not strong enough on
your own, but that
does not intrinsically
make you weak.
Two and a half years of
lived with betrayal. That
your love is a commodity that
others will barter with.
Three years of travelling
solo, relying on no one
else to carry your baggage.
Six years of living
out of home, learning to
pay bills, do laundry,
juggle a full time job
and a degree, choosing dinner
over and over and over.
Ten years of anxiety attacks,
a weight on the chest, a crowbar
to the chest cavity.
Twelve years of depression.
The only remnants of
your teenage years a dark
cloud. There is only emptiness here.
Sixteen years of religion,
on and off again.
Making peace with the Lord,
learning to trust someone that is
not yourself. So many others have
broken your heart.
Its hard to see sovereignty
Twenty years of
self awareness, knowing your
humanity. Your primary school teacher
will tell you that you have to
make friends at lunchtime,
you can’t just read books.
That making people laugh is better
than being laughed at.
In these years people will forget
that they’ve met you until the third
or fourth time. You are deemed,
But once you learn who you are,
free of swirls of doubt and sadness,
that you laugh easily and hard,
and that people are drawn
to those who take the
time to remember their name.
That tiredness makes your anxiety worse,
but the people you love playing
with your hair will bring you calm again.
That you can never make everyone
happy, no matter how hard you try,
so you may as well enjoy yourself.
Demand tea how you like it,
bail on errands to sit in the sun,
and eat the chocolate cake for dinner.
At twenty eight,
I have finally made peace
“I can’t match the intensity
of your love.”
Why do I feel like I should say sorry.
No one warned me about
loving too much.
You asked if there was anything
that I wanted to say.
“No, I won’t ask anyone to
stay and love me.”
To love enough
but not too much.
To hope they stay
but respect myself enough
not to ask.
To maintain my softness,
my eagerness for affection,
without being hardened by the world.
Putting myself back every
time, without using concrete.
Choosing to bypass the superglue,
the hardwood timber, the metal rods.
“No darling, once again we will
reassemble ourselves with fragility.
We will make ourselves breakable again.”
Intense but soft.
Malleable to others, rigid
in morals and convictions.
Open to being loved.
Trying to understand why
I am like other girls. I change my hair after a break up and I am in love with Timothée Chalamet. I binged watched Love Island but also Annabel Crabb’s Mis-Represented. I can talk for hours about deuxmoi and pop culture but I can also talk to you in detail about the Rwandan Genocide and how it represents the long term impacts of colonisation, how imperialism has devastated third world countries, and how little responsibility we, as westerners, have taken for our actions.
I can tell you all the reasons I am in love with Drew Starkey but also all the reasons why Australia’s refugee policy makes me ashamed to be an Australian, violating the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and taking no time to acknowledge that it’s pure, serendipitous luck, that we were born into white privilege and not into their war torn and persecuted countries.
I will post endless selfies on Instagram but also my writings, opening myself up like a cadaver on a table to be inspected and learned from. Or implorations to politically educate yourself, trying to provide insight into Australian politics so that, come election, we know the ramifications of who we vote for.
I enjoy wearing make-up and dressing up for a night out, but I will also post make up tutorials while talking about living with anxiety. How I manage my depression and that it is only through seeing a psychologist and taking medication that I have started to take active steps in looking after my mental health. Or I’ll switch my neon orange heels for sneakers, marching and protesting for what I believe in, as I scream, “black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter.”
I will go to the bathroom with other girls to gossip and talk about how cute X looks tonight and, “no you should not text Y, babe you deserve better,” but also because there’s safety in numbers and we girls feel unsafe when alone at all times of the day, no matter the situation.
I am like other girls. I post fire emojis and say, “yes queen,” and my DMs remind me of a nightclub bathroom with the amount of women hyping me up.
I am like other girls in that I love fiercely and openly and proudly.
I am exactly like other girls and I am so very happy to be.
You’ll feel like you’ve been hollowed out. You are a passionfruit and someone’s come and scooped out all the good parts. Now just the bare bones of what used to be a person, a building with nothing inside.
And you can’t seem to fix it. You have these conversations with yourself, trying to figure out what is going on. Trying to reason with yourself. You feel like your brain is trying to sit down with your heart and get it to say what’s wrong. But it’s not your heart, something a little further south, below the heart but above the stomach. You don’t even know what’s supposed to be there. Your soul? Anyways, trying to get it to calm down and rationally explain what’s wrong but it’s all hyped up and saying things in the semblance of an answer but not quite an explanation.
And you think you might have an idea of what brought it on, but you thought you were passed that. You’re older now, you’ve been here before, surely it doesn’t bother you anymore. And you toss and turn about how to deal with it, do you open up pandora’s box, or do you switch it all off? Or do you do a mix of the two and pretend everything is fine while your insides slowly fade away to nothing. You’re not sure what will be better in the long run. And do you even care?
And you spend hours staring at the ceiling, watching the fan just spin around and around. You sit down and try to write some kind of sad, epiphanic piece, but it just seems pathetic that you’re still struggling. You’ve been this way for so long, how aren’t you managing it yet?
So you just decide to wait it out. You’ll come good. You have before, surely you will again. And while hope is your worst enemy, it’s all you’ve got.
Don’t we just all walk around ascribing meaning in ourselves through other people. We choose someone, almost arbitrarily, and use them to define us, shape us, mold us. I know it’s not closing your eyes and picking out of a hat but I sometimes wonder if its really much more than that.
Please understand the weight, my darlings, in standing on a pedestal in the middle of a town square, to open yourself as a gallery, a museum to walk through. To publicly bleed, publicly heal, so that others may watch and know themselves better. To put yourself on display, saying, “here is where I am broken. Here is where someone stole my heart. Here is where I hurt myself. Here is where I have slowly glued pieces of myself together, and learned to love the absence of the parts of me that will always be missing.” Because people will come and observe you, take what they like of you, and not always return it. There is blood streaming down and all I can hope is that people will see it and think it beautiful, helpful, lovely and brave. The tears fall thick and fast but I choose not to mask them. Here is every shade of me. I wax and I wane but like the moon I stay here, still showing my face.
There once was a gallery. In this gallery, there were just two displays. One was a intricate vase made of ceramic, the other equally intricate, but made of wood and steel.
People came from miles around to look at the two exhibits. Both had been created with love and effort and sweat and tears, the artists pouring all of their soul into each creation.
One day, there was an earthquake. Both vases fell off their pedestal. The wood and steel had some minor chips and fractures, but was for the most part, intact. The ceramic vase, however, shattered into a dozen pieces. It took the artist a week to put it back together, but once again it was whole.
Time passed. Some didn’t like the cracks and stresses evident in both works. But what is a few fine lines in a magnum opus.
One day, there was a flood. Both vases fell off their pedestal. After the earthquake, the wood and steel artist had added some reinforcing. This time, it resisted any calamity. The ceramic vase, however, shattered into a two dozen pieces. It took the artist a month to put it back together, but once again it was whole.
More time passed. The ceramic vase was now riddled with cracks. Compared to the wood and steel, it looked worn and tired. The crowds around the ceramic vase grew fewer.
One day, there was a fire. Both vases fell off their pedestal. After the flood, the wood and steel artist added more reinforcing. Once again, it resisted any calamity. The ceramic vase, however, shattered into a hundred tiny pieces. It took the artist a year to put it back together, but once again it was whole.
The ceramic vase sat on its pedestal next to the wood and steel one. Compared to its stronger friend, looking as new as it did the first day of its exhibit, the ceramic vase spidered with thin cracks, chips, and shards missing not to be filled in. Less people came from far and wide to see it. It was more, a cursory stop on the way to the gift shop after admiring the vase that could withstand it all.
“My friend,” said the woodworker, “you have toiled and toiled over this ceramic vase. I see the love you put into it. But the universe seems to have other plans. Please, use some of my steel. Take some of my wood. Your vase will not survive much longer like this. I see the way people look at your vase. Pointing at the cracks, sneering at the gaps. Every day your queue grows shorter and mine longer. Please, I implore you.”
“My darling. There is bravery in accepting the fragility of our vase, knowing what the earth will throw at it. To every day wake up, committed to maintaining the vase and respecting its form, to spend days and hours and weeks putting it back together, there is no better use of my time. So thank you, but there is courage in the choice to stay breakable.”