To Feel It All

 

If you communicate in tears and grief and anger and despair and joy like I do, hold these expressions as sacred, because they are. Know that these emotions are your wisdom, not a flaw. Don’t believe Them when They say that how you feel is a sign that something’s wrong with you.

I cried twice today– the second time, just thirty minutes ago– and as the tears slipped down my cheeks a vision came to me.

In it, I was sitting before an ex-shrink of mine. Heavy tears streamed down my face like waterfalls after winter’s thaw. Now, this was a man whose labeling eyes once penetrated my skin in diagnostic desecration. But in this vision, all I felt for him was compassion. For in meeting his eyes with mine, I could feel so clearly how they emanated the very same fear I once felt, myself: 

Fear
of all the waves
and storms and
freezes and melts and
fires and rains of my being.

Fear of who I really was– and of who I had the power to be.

In this vision, he was so afraid of himself.

As I kept looking into his eyes, I could see as clear as day how lost and disconnected he was from himself, his emotions, his authentic state of being. I could see how this had thrown him into a deep state of mourning he wasn’t yet aware of.

And I could see how all of this–
his loss, his disconnection, his mourning and his lack of awareness of it all–
had eventually led him to believe that
answers are best found through
the act of labeling another,
an other.

For it keeps you safe from having to acknowledge that you’re really just an other to yourself.

As his steel blue eyes and my crying ones began to commune with one other, I felt my compassion for him deepen. Because I now saw him for who he really was: a scared, wounded child. A child who, like me, had gotten swept up in the false promises of what our culture teaches us it means to be human, to be worthy, to belong… We were the same, this shrink and I, and we always had been. It’s just that he’d somehow ended up with the swipe card to the double-locked doors.

In this moment of realization I knew in a deep-down way that it was my human responsibility to keep crying– to keep my cheeks good and wet so that he might eventually see his own reflection in my skin. To show him what it looks like to cry from a place of fully human power… That it’s safe there… That there is nothing to be afraid of.

If you feel big feelings like I do, remember this: they are a sign of your aliveness. They are your sacred human power. And they are a gift you are meant to bring forth into the world. Use them as a light and a guide and a mirror and an open hand for those who may still be too afraid to feel it all.

-Written May 30th, 2017

 

Power is

 

Power is: Knowing that
when you’re having
“one of those days”—
(of staccato incoherence coming out of your mouth when you speak—your head a sizzling egg in a frying pan—your thoughts, man, they’re straight-up pinballs in a machine)—
it’s because you’re alive, my friend.
*Not*
because there’s anything wrong with you.

It’s because you’re breathing
all that you are into the world,
your fingertips on fire like you never
knew possible before.

Now, what this means, is this:
when you’re lit up and so full of heartbeat,
there may be times when you forget to breathe.
When you forget
to get out for fresh air,
or eat lunch, for suddenly night’s fallen
on shoulders that are locked to your earlobes.
Hell, you may sometimes forget for hours at a stretch
that you’re human.
Because all of this ignition,
it still feels so fuckin’ new.

I’m watching these sensitive strands of energy
billow out like golden hairs from you,
out into every nook and cranny
of the world. So sensitive they are,
you are,
sensitive enough that it means
you’ll get a little frayed sometimes.
But you’re alive.
You’re fuckin’ alive and awake and tuned in
to this channel called Life
that may sometimes feel wholly dark
and foreboding…
but that you’ve now learned,
too,
is full of color.
And possibility.
And beating hearts,
your own included.

-Written January 25th, 2017

 

To Sylvia

 

i last read you
long ago, when
i was lost.

then, you spoke to me through pain,
yours and mine in excruciating symbiosis,
and i felt known
for the first time.

i remember all those late nights in harvard square:
cigarettes, coffee cups, black fountain pens and
your poetry—fueled by you, i used my
suffering as cement and
words as bricks to
build my darkness out on paper;
those attempts at construction
offered fruitful if fleeting respites
from my then-reality, and
for this, i thank you.

today, i met
you in eternal rest; you were
surrounded by stone and grass and
the flowers of a thousand strangers
who feel they know you through your words.
pens sprouted from your grave,
grateful sacrifices of those who’ve
loved you in a way, perhaps, you
never could yourself.

i am told that behind this graveyard and
across the sweeping field of green beyond
sits the house in which you honeymooned.
i picture you young, in love and in pain,
fingers softly tracing blades of tall grass as
you walk and think and the war in you rages on,
the sun and the weight of the world
on your shoulders.

i am different now from those harvard square nights,
your early end no longer what i seek.
if only you could’ve known
you weren’t broken,
as i’ve been lucky enough to discover.

if only you could’ve seen through
the stories those doctors fed us as they turned
our bodies into psychoactive wastelands
plastered to plastic mattresses,
sucked dry of spirit,
psychiatrized.

both of us paced the locked wards
of the hallowed Hospital on the Hill,
our incarcerated madness separated only by time,
our wearied souls patient prisoners
on those same sterile halls of
broken brains and forgotten dreams.

you died at thirty-one, my age now.

i’m found today, have found myself,
though not a ‘self’ distinct or definable.
perhaps a better way to put it is that
i’ve melted into the world.

death no longer beckons me
with its promise of forever sleep,
and not because i’m free from
suffering or struggle— (this is far from true)—but because
i’ve remembered
i am human.

i can’t pretend to know you,
nor would i be so presumptuous
as Psychiatry was with us; thus, i can only wonder
what part those white-coated strangers
played in calling forth
your death with their
electroshock
and
insulin-shock
and
pill bottles
and
life-long sentence of subhuman.
with all of this, their so-called “care”, done to you.

i can only wonder
what part those white-coated strangers
played in calling forth
your death
because they introduced me to
a life not worth living,
one with death as the only logical solution.
whether by serendipity or something else,
i made it back to the world alive, and
here i am in hebden bridge
on the twenty-ninth of june
in the thirty-first year of my life.
here I am before your grave,
the sun on my shoulders.

-Written in Hebden Bridge, UK, on June 29th, 2014

 

Cobblestones

 

These cobblestones once carried me
lost and terrified
to meet
the 73 to Belmont and
the Hospital on the Hill.

They once carried me
drunk or high or medicated,
“manic” or “depressed”,
or all of it at once.
At dusk and 2AM
and sunrise after sleepless nights,
when I’d sit with
runaways in the pit
and chain smoke butts,
wondering when
I’d finally die.

These cobblestones now carry me
whole and alive and human,
like I always was
but simply couldn’t see,
with that lens of
Psychiatry once
smothering my eyes,
my spirit.

It’s good to be back here
on these cobblestones,
on this soon-to-be-spring night.

-Written April 2nd, 2015