some people make it easy for you to be disappointed in them
this makes leaving easy
and everything else
some people make it easy for you to be disappointed in them
this makes leaving easy
and everything else
Some people are almost always empty in their kindness; almost all their truth is in their cruelty.
This piece is one in a chronological series, set in a universe.
Feel free to find the others here, and to browse through any companion piece, set in the same universe.
1. Three Frenemies 2. Fall Coven Meet 3. BeingLovedAgain 4. The Fourth Witch
6. The Three Questions 7. Seed 8. Garden Graveyard Heart 9. The Cook
10. River Witch 11. Rage
12. Reincarnation 14. Hate
15. Rage and Her Spells of Power
17. Truth – Rhymes With Ruth
22. The Summoning
5. Memory Elephant 12. Reincarnation 13. Memory and Mudbaths
16. OtherSide 18. Pillow Talk With God 19. She, Named E 20. The Girl Made of Smoke and the Not-Boy 21. Other Garden
May 22 – Part 1 Stone Lady Paper Boots Dredge Half Yours, Half His Flower Seller
When You Must End Love Talk Scorpio Rising Pretty Men, Stone Lady
From The Olive Pit to Gratitude Reliability dead girl Soft Witch
I stand in the room, the little witch hut, its log cabin structure too flimsy to keep out what I am letting in. Outside, the river is turbulent, crashing against the stones in the valley with enough to force to break them into sand. Soon this whole place will be river, will be water, will be drowned. (It’s alright, I have remade the world many times after many floods)
The sky is dark, the waters darker, and they meet in me. I need no talisman. I need no clever incantation. Just a thought will do. All it takes is a whisper. All it takes is a turn of my stiff neck, all the way around like a doll’s head mutilated by a small unwitting child. All it takes is a mirror. All it takes to switch is a witch witch witch. All it takes is a witch’s wish and she is there, filtering in through all the cracks and crevices of the cabin, black violet fog entering through the cabin window, through the logs along the floor and all the cracks in the closed log door.
Thick fog that smells like river and rain and sweat and blood and fight and – Rage, I call, softly, not out loud, not even from my mind, just from the little place inside me when I first met her, that deep dark deep space of tissue-time, scarred hardness and cracked tissue. Her cackle starts low, from the floor and then, I hear it in the single flickering lightbulb, and it rises into a screech with the river outside as she climbs to meets the sky in tidal waves, lightning dances in every wave, crashing against the rocks, thunder inside the waters.
Her voice rises to a scream and I feel the knife-sharp edge of it against my skin, razor thin, always sharp sharp sharp enough to cut air.
“So!” she says,ghostly, ethereal, a voice echoing in the cabin in time with the water crashing like a building falling in a war zone. “Aha! At your most preferably bloody service! Where can I help, oh but where can’t I! Look at this place – ” and the fog sweeps through the room, knocking over a bookshelf. “Look at this softness, just look at you!” She is, of course, enraged. Mirror next, cracking on its own against the wall. I smile a half-smile, watching her at work, hold my hand up toward the mirror, whisper don’t fall to the shards of glass sitting in the air, resisting gravity, lazily floating. If she notices my magic, she does not take note.
“Look at you” she says, her voice close to my ear. I feel a little nip and then a sharper one, and then I hear a chuckle. “Fuck the books, the throw pillows, the couch and the coziness – this is where the real bullshit is -” I feel a finger along my cheek.
“Yes, let’s fix this all of this – just like old times, let me in” she says, a tendril of fog diving into my wrist, into my throat, tapping against a single cornea like a piece of contact lens glass. I feel the eye narrow on its own, eyebrow pulled like a marionette, high and haughty. I feel my pulse quicken in an arm, racing against the length of it, curling my fingers. I feel the straightening of my spine, electricity thrumming against my brainstem and in the river outside, lightning flashes again. The water is so high, I think the moon might be drowning. I feel my wrist turn to – “Stone. Yes, do it. Now, do it! In your eyes, and in your fists – no, wait. wait a moment – where I work best is here -”
And then, there the gentle, cotton candy deceptively sweet fog flavour, and under it, the taste of blood, old blood, the taste of a sword, many swords, many souls, the metal in my tongue like a magnet for its taste and she sinks into the wire of my vocal cords, and I feel that old thrill trill in my throat, a million words, like darts, like arrows, ready – a million shards of glass ready for spitting, witch voice, first voice, old voice, kill voice, end voice, ruin “him, yes let’s end this, let’s finish this, let’s! let ME! DO IT! ” The old nails in my old palms, the length of fog curling against my lungs, in my nose and against me, and an ancient magic curling through everything I know. “Break him, break IT, I WANT to. Let me rip. Let me vent. Let me burn – let me drown – let me evaporate – let me do aaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll of the hurting you’re just too fucking soft to take care of.”
I look at the fallen books, smile softly, look at the mirror, broken and hanging in the air. Reassemble, I ask my room and things snap back into place. The fog pulls back, coalesces in front of me, solid, solid, more real, less water, more woman, less condensation, more skin – until she’s there. Naked, and ever so slightly violet-hued, black hair like mine, brown skin like mine, blood lips, but everything else tighter narrower harder, her whole body an arrow, her smile, a dagger.
“It’s nice to see you,” I say softly, a little helplessly. “It – ”
“Oh did I serve you well?” She asks, sneeringly, somehow ahead of me in thought, in words. Outside the sun is bright, the river is calm. We are maybe not having the same conversation.
“It was nice to…feel powerful,” I said softly. She wrinkles her nose, scoffs. I lick my lips; I try to explain. “I can’t actually – let you, you know that right?”
She cackles again, her mouth opening unnaturally wide, and in it, I can see the whole universe, the earth, myself and every moment.
“What did you want, softie?” She asks, mockingly, lazily, hand behind her head, leaning back against nothing at all, ankles crossed against the air. She twirls like that, reminding me of The Exorcist, a slow strange circle in a witch’s log cabin. “What did you fucking want? Why did you call me, hmm? This is all I offer! Stone and bone and witch and blood and hunt and blade! ”
“It’s just… nice to see you. That’s all – it’s nice to know you’re there and it’s nice to…to talk, and I… I just like having you around – you know, not – like not all the time, just sometimes…I like getting to know you. You’re – ” I trail off as I see her laughing soundlessly, entire body shaking so hard she’s holding her stomach, her eyes tearing up in humor.
“You stupid, soft idiot bitch,” she says, finally, straightening up and staring at me, hands on her hips. Yet she says it not unkindly. It’s the kind of thing you tell yourself. She scoffs again and spells it out: “That jumble of bullshit is exactly what he wants from you. Anyway, me, I can do nothing for you but put on a fun show – was that enough, dumbass?”
And then she is gone, suddenly and swiftly. No need to wait for a reply, I guess. I smile and feel myself in my broken mirror smile too, the reflection stare at the back of my head.
How well she knows what she can give, Rage.
How quickly she leaves when there is nothing for her, that River Witch, that Stone Lady.
Rage is never the witch I allow to consume me, possess me, live in me, become me.
But I’ve never met a witch more ruthless with her magic, more clear, more exacting, more sharp with her boundaries and her borders.
She knows who she is.
“Thanks for making me feel strong,” I say to the empty room.
Outside, the waters are still.
lately i think about the would be
sharkskin saltsmooth taste
of her thigh
after my hand has slipped
and slid against the back of her knee
it sits elsewhere inside me,
these thoughts somewhere between
my ribs and splenic flexure, when
they skip a beat I feel it like
a bird, flutter beside my liver
i keep thinking about the irony,
that accidental painted cruelty
of well-intentioned men, their mask-like
mime-like reflections climbing out of pools
every time i come across it- it
runs a line papercut fine
thin and wisdomless without
blood across an old old
old tough tough
tough length of tissue
chewy meat always there, always
leathered, always weathered better
for wear, no worse in sun or rain or spit
under a flap of young face, lip split,
peeling lift my mask along the chin
old skin, crone
skin, see it tucked against the bone
brick red, see if you can find
space between my skin
and sky, my eye and sun,
my silk and night, my voice and wind
lift your painted face –
if i touch you gently
when you are cruel
tell me: what would break?
perhaps the most searing realization in anyone’s life is the moment they understand that love, like any other resource, is not distributed evenly across the world, and across populations.
I’ve always been commitment-oriented, but not always for the right reasons. I felt a void in me of some kind, a sense of inadequacy, a sense that someone else telling me I’m enough would somehow ring true and I would finally “feel enough”.
I’m still commitment-oriented, but now for way way healthier reasons. I commit to myself, to growth, to relationships, to understanding pain (my own and others’), to connections, to being there for people. I try to do this increasingly unconditionally so long as I am not compromising my sense of self in the process, and so long as I have enough to give.
There are 3 – and only 3 – reasons to not want to commit to someone.
1. EASY: You don’t like them (enough). The “enough” can be really confusing to the person who likes you more. If you are the person being rejected, take it as “this person doesn’t like me” – it makes it easier to set a sharp boundary and a sharp line for yourself. If you’re the person who doesn’t like the other person (enough), you know exactly what this feeling is: yeahsure, this person is fine and all, but you’re not particularly interested in building the kind of intimacy they are. And, if you’re in this boat, your feelings are relatively *easy* to understand and deal with. You look at someone and go “yeah ok, but like no thanks.” (If you find yourself feeling that “you’re not sure how you feel,” you likely do not like this person enough at this point in time but it could also be point 2 or point 3 on this list.) If you find you are guilt-ridden about not liking someone, you have some stuff to sort out. Feelings are feelings – they are, to an extent, fickle. I once chatted with an imam about the instant connection I felt for someone and you know what he said? “Yes, perhaps it means in jannat (heaven), you were quite close to this person – like a little soul family. You know sometimes you may meet someone and you just don’t click with them right away – for no reason! We just say, that person was a little farther from you in heaven 😛 ” That’s it. Chemistry, explained by an imam. If that’s not good enough, I don’t know what is – basically: you can’t beat yourself up for having feelings OR for not having feelings. If you’re on the receiving end of rejection because the person just doesn’t like you, I mean come on. It has literally nothing to do with your self worth, who you are or what you’re capable of! You can’t internalize that noise – or else you’ll risk not liking yourself because of what someone else thinks about you. You have to have a sense of what you like about yourself and what you dislike about yourself that is relatively independent of what people think about you. This isn’t to say people’s opinions don’t matter, but it needs to be feedback that makes sense from a self improvement perspective. if someone just doesn’t have feelings for you, that’s not a question of self improvement – it’s a question of chemical jannat-style attraction.
***The “Early Days” Caveat***: Sometimes, you don’t like them enough….yet – and that is a different feeling than not liking them enough. This is one of those moments where you don’t actually have to make a decision yet – it’s too early in the game to say “I’m in” or “I’m out”. You’re waiting and seeing. You don’t like them enough….yet….but in a few weeks or months you feel you *might* – and that’s a good reason to still date someone non exclusively, especially in the early days of getting to know someone.
2. HARD: You don’t like yourself (enough). Ooh. This one is totally fucked up. You don’t want to commit even though you like the other person? But why?! Because you are actually so convinced of your own worthlessness, that even someone else accepting you isn’t a relief in any way – it ends up feeling terrifying, because it means you now have to live up to someone’s idea that you’re in fact an ok human. You actually DO like this person – quite a bit -but if you were with them, they’d just FIND OUT who you REALLY are and we can’t have that can we? only you can know your own shit so commitment becomes a non-option because you’ll obviously feel inadequate and miserable around this person. You have to learn that people will accept you if they like you. Worse, if you don’t like yourself enough, you may not totally know what you like in others or dislike. When you like yourself enough to date someone else, you know what you can offer, you know your feelings, you can value your feelings of vulnerability and connection and not feel weird or dorky about it. When you don’t like yourself enough, your idea about commitment is constantly shifting to what the other person thinks/wants/etc – not in a balanced “healthy relationship” way, but in a “how do I keep them around?!” way.) Even worse, what if they start to rely on you? You’re unreliable, don’t they KNOW that?! You have to prevent this at all cost because there’s no way you could be there for someone and while you would love it if this person was there for you, you know deep down you are incapable of being there for someone else, so how could you possibly he he he he he *dissolves into ferengi laughter* hoo-man relationships are just silly anyhow.
Look, this is you:
But don’t worry! You can change! I believe you will eventually evolve, my little Ferengi, into a hoo-man, and maybe even a human
3. HARDEST: Some weird combo of the above. What an awful position to be in – you don’t know where your responsibility is in what you’re offering or why you’re offering it. :O how do you have a relationship with anyone?
1. Know who you are,
2. Know what you like, and intrinsically value the fact that you are able to care deeply about someone.
3. Be open to receiving love
4. Be open to leaving if love is not there
and then? Just keep finding people you like and want to connect with. It doesn’t matter if they reject you – the point is not that rejection won’t happen with this method. The point is, eventually, rejection will stop mattering because you are open to receiving love, and open to leaving if love is not there. The point is: you will eventually find someone you like, while being sure of your feelings for them, and they will also show their feelings for you. Your process filters out the ones that do not fit the above criteria, and that means that while rejection happens, you’re never going to care if rejection happens.
The amount of self knowledge and self love you need to pull this off is monumental though, and I’m not going to lie, it took me forever to get there. But these days, a rejection just means I’ve saved time. Rejection doesn’t even mean that I hold feelings of resentment – why should I? I enjoy liking someone! I enjoy my butterflies. I enjoy offering love. I’m glad I got to feel that for someone. If they change and come back later, I might be open to that depending on how it ended or where I’m at in my own life.
There is only 1 reason to want to commit to someone:
You see a life with them that promotes the best of both of you where you can both be vulnerable with one another. The spark is there. The confusion is not. You like them. You see it working. You are happy to be vulnerable with them. You are happy if they are vulnerable with you. Notice I made this all about you. It is about you. Your feelings of commitment are about you – they say nothing about the other person. So: You need this feeling of sureness about how you feel about the other person AND! The solution (listed above) needs to be working, ie: you feel these things in the previously established context of:
1. knowing who you are.
2. knowing what you like, and intrinsically valuing the fact that you are able to care deeply about someone.
3. being open to receiving love.
4. being open to leaving if love is not there.
(You can’t forget – those are the steps to “The Solution”. It’s called the solution for a reason! )
You can want commitment with someone who suddenly does an about-turn on you and you realise they’re not ready to commit – they’re floating between Reasons 1-3 of why they don’t want to commit. And that’s ok! That’s their business.
It’s not your business any longer.
(Advanced level stuff: if you are able to wish them well genuinely, even after they leave, that’s awesome – it means you’re genuinely prioritising point 2 of the solution – and most beautifully, your prioritisation does not depend on if someone leaves or stays. Isn’t that amazing? Note that point 2 doesn’t insist on BEING with anyone or imposing on anyone with your feelings. It just means: you’re not dead inside. Yay! And if you’re consciously feeling emotions of care for someone who left without it affecting you or destabilizing your inner peace, you’ve unlocked a serious life-step: You are able to be a good person without expectation of reward. This is actually what people mean by unconditional love.)
Look, if this list doesn’t work, do what I did:
1. Recover from major depression.
2. Recover from generalized anxiety disorder.
3. Confront your Fear. About everything.
4. Confront your Loneliness.
5. Consider what Love means to you.
6. Begin a regimen of regular meditation.
7. Date god (I wish I was joking)
8. Learn yourself – figure out who the fuck you are. Get real about it. Compassion helps at this stage, SPRINKLE COMPASSION LIBERALLY HERE.
9. Cut out everything about yourself you hate.
10. Fill yourself with things you love
11. Discover who you want to be – start working towards that.
12. Love yourself.
13. Discover inner peace – the kind that is a steady flame in a hurricane.
14. Offer love unconditionally – within the framework of “The Solution”.
15. Date someone and have shit work out.
Remember always: Nothing is lost. Nothing is even truly gained. E2=E1=constant. But if you can find someone to share time with, share space with, share love with, do it.
(I’m at step 14 – how about you? 😛 )
My practice of writing resolutions (see 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) has been completely invaluable to me. That said, I normally write this on December 30th, and this year, I was a little delayed due to feeling a little low. A few goals hadn’t been accomplished. I was rejected by someone I liked a lot towards the end of the year. It affected me. But, if I learned anything this past year, it was that being affected by something didn’t mean I had to be in a state of emotional paralysis – so I’m writing this for me.
2018 was a year where I can say I’ve recovered from depression and anxiety in major ways – it was a year where I realised, I’m actually emotionally more stable and in tune with myself than many people who have not experienced a devastating loss of sense of self. I continues learning more about myself and people around me, and how to exist in relation with myself (my many selves), and with other people. Two years ago, I opened this introduction with saying that I was living with depression and anxiety. Last year, I stated that I think I’m officially recovered from both depression and generalised anxiety disorder in very marked ways, and I know working within a growth model framework has been so uplifting. This past year, I’m… fine. I’ve dealt with setbacks without letting them stop me. And I suspect this year will be more of the same.
Body Image/Exercise/Healthy Living
similar goals as last year because they’re good and because I’ve been meeting most of them! A happy face beside each one I achieved, because rereading it this year actually made me smile as it’s something I have “figured out” 🙂
Relationships/Self Image– I am truly stunned at how many of these I’ve met, excelled at, and really improved on this past year! A happy face beside each one I achieved, and am continuing to achieve! (two happy faces indicates that I’ve been “getting this” since 2014 and that it’s still a worthwhile goal)
2019: AHHH I need to hardcore sit with these. I know I *DID* this last year, but I need to really get better at it. Spiritual Goals – this is a category I decided to add last year based on my growth from last year, and practices I’ve started to adopt. Last year came with a lot of spiritual awakenings that have bled into other areas of my life in positive ways, and I now have some clarity with how I want to pursue these goals.
Personal and Professional Development Goals: Work/School/Volunteering/
Ah, rejection! It keeps you on your toes unlike anything else. I was recently sent a “thanks but no thanks; I don’t see it working out; etc etc so long farewell auf wiedersehn aideu” from someone I liked. And, it’s not the first time I’ve been rejected – in fact, I write a lot about rejection – but thankfully over the years, the writing has changed because I have changed. Loss teaches you a lot about yourself, about what you offer, what you need, what you want. It teaches you also about how you react to things you cannot control, and what you attach importance to in your life.
And, if you’re very lucky and a little clever, it can teach you a lot about love too.
A note about the title: I didn’t always find romantic rejection to be refreshing or appealing – certainly, I wasn’t always so appreciative of it. It took me a long time and a lot of self-love, self-compassion, self interest as well as compassion, empathy, and understanding for other people’s choices to get to this point. So here are some useful reminders: